Loin de contredire la « logique » d'une économie capitaliste, la planification souple peut, au contraire, renforcer les conditions d'une croissance soutenue et harmonisée et corriger partiellement les déséquilibres et les tensions nécessairement liés au développement.
Modern Capitalism and Planning : Some Thoughts on French Experience
systematic planning, even though flexible and indicative, is frequently considered as one of the decisive elements of a « socializing » economical policy. The French experience may be given as an example of the contrary.
Modem economies are large scale economies where the private enterprise is the prevalent means of production. One cannot explain concentration only by the search of power and profit but also by the requirements of a mass production whose place is only in a large market. These modem economies are also integrated economies : development requires the harmonization of programs and projects between the predominant enterprises and also necessitates proper measures to reduce tensions brought by the development itself. In front of the growing power of oligopolies and of the political administrative influence, the counterpowers, as the labor unions or the consumers' organizations, have a limited efficiency.
These are the important issues which lead to a further investigation of the impact of systematic planning. Does it break into the power of the private enterprise ? To what extent does it transform the structures and the operation of the economy ? To what extent does the debate on organized planning and participation of economic agents in the elaboration of the « plan » bring a renewal of the socio-economic attitudes and strategies on the social front? A reflexion, even shallow, on the French experience should allow us to bring an answer to these questions.
In the present phase, the Fifth French « plan » far from doubting of the logic of a capitalist economy, is a deliberate factor of concentration and modernization. The « plan » tends to prepare the French economy to face the challenge brought by its integration in the Common Market. But paradoxically, the coming complete fusion of the economies of the six countries, members of the European Economic Community, added to the establishment of common policies limit the scope of the national « plan ».
It seems that the French « plan » fulfills a triple positive function :
a ) As a source of information and economic forecast the « plan » guarantees more coherence to the governmental directives and especially to the entrepreneur's decisions. This information widely broadcasted allows everyone to acknowledge the conditions of economical progress, its exigencies and its necessities. Information is the necessary condition of a « concerted economy » defined in the following terms by Mr. François Bloch Laine :
« Un régime dans lequel les représentants de l'Etat (ou des collectivités secondaires) et ceux des entreprises (quel que soit le statut de celles-ci) se réuniront de façon organisée pour échanger leurs informations, pour confronter leurs prévisions et pour ensemble tantôt prendre des décisions, tantôt formuler des avis à l'intention du gouvernement. »
b) The « plan », as a corrective, tends to reduce the tensions inevitably brought by the economic development. The policy of land development tends to slow down and, if possible, to reduce the interregional disparities and disequilibrium. It is based on many different measures, going from an administrative reform to many governmental intervention in the fiscal field... without leaving aside the contribution of the state in the financing of the infrastructural development conducive to the emergence of bringing new enterprises in the lagging areas.
But, it is in the agricultural sector that the changes are the biggest. In the Common Market, the French agriculture, in order to face the active competition, must move into specialization and revamp its cultivation methods. In the present role, the « plan » seeks a more satisfying equilibrium between individual and collective consumptions, equilibrium broken by the spontaneity of the market which tends to privilege the kind of consumption susceptible to realize more profits.
c ) As the Stake of a collective debate, the « plan » leads to the confrontation of the economic agents' projects, attitudes, and desires to the extend to which the development depends upon their accounts. The « plan » tends to institutionalize practices and a type of group relationship that, without looking for a consensus, allows them to have a better idea of the stake and of the consequences of the conflicts that could divide them.