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Friedrich von Wiesers´s theory of socialism: A magnificent failure


  • Samuel Bostaph


This paper examines Friedrich von Wieser's theory of the socialist or communist planned economy. It identifies in Wieser's Law of Power (1926) the abiding interests that stimulated his attempt to use Carl Menger's theory of subjective value to present a theory of socialism, first in Natural Value (1889) and later in Social Economics (1914). It discusses his conception of a unit of marginal utility, or "natural value," as the basic unit of economic calculation in his imputation theory and his use of that building block in his consequent theory of production and distribution in a socialist economy. Lastly, it argues that Wieser's theory attempts to socially objectify subjective values and is actually a return to a pre-Mengerian supply-side, real cost approach to the theory of value. Wieser's theory of economic calculation under socialism thus represents a failure to understand the radical contribution of Menger's value theory to the theory of exchange.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Bostaph, 2005. "Friedrich von Wiesers´s theory of socialism: A magnificent failure," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2005(6), pages 723-732.
  • Handle: RePEc:prg:jnlpol:v:2005:y:2005:i:6:id:533:p:723-732

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    More about this item


    marginal utility; Wieser; economic calculation; imputation theory;

    JEL classification:

    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)
    • B14 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist
    • P21 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform


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