This in-person conference will bring together leading scholars across geographies to think about the role of government planning in the 20th century. It will include four panels of mostly advanced Ph.D. candidates and early career scholars from history or adjacent fields, as well as a policy-oriented panel discussion with established scholars.
Across the globe, the twentieth century saw widespread enchantment with the state’s power to reshape all aspects of economic life. In the era of total war, no part of the economy, from production to trade and consumption, was exempt from state intervention. The infatuation with planning, broadly understood, had intellectual priors in the socialist movement and military planning. Perhaps the most radical expression of planning was attempted in Bolshevik Russia. However, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, many governments, liberal and illiberal alike, propounded new visions of social progress through state-led investment programs. In the wake of the 1973 Oil Shock, disillusionment with state planning spread worldwide, resulting in the dismantling of planning bureaucracies in subsequent decades.
While the critique of planning in response to the rise of state involvement in the economy has focused on the sweeping power of the state and its consequences for political order, the planning mechanisms remain comparatively underexplored. This conference proposes to investigate the legal, fiscal, and procedural instruments pursued to achieve the promulgated goals of planning, examining the dynamic relationship between state planning and private entrepreneurship within a comparative global context. Rather than treating the state and the market as separate entities where the former intervenes in the latter, this conference seeks to unpack how the state and entrepreneurs co-operated, competed, and came into conflict with one another in the reorganization of economic life. A global comparative approach will allow us to bring actors from different geographies and periods into dialogue with one another and, in doing so, transcend the neat compartments of the “history of capitalism,” “history of communism,” and “history of socialism.”
The workshop invites contributions to the following questions:
- What are the exigencies and justifications for states to redirect investment and reorganize economic life? Which visions of development and progress were at the heart of state planning? What role did organizations play in facilitating state involvement in the economy? How did planning shape technological change? In what ways do states hope to reshape domestic and private life?
- How do these visions translate into practice? Which fiscal and monetary incentives and legal and procedural mechanisms were introduced to bring private entrepreneurs/ non-state actors in line with the stated goals? What technocratic apparatuses emerged to allocate scarce resources?
- Which new forms of knowledge emerged in this context? What forms of violence and coercion were instrumental to achieving the goals of planning?
- How, in response to planning, did entrepreneurs reorganize their business practices to comply with the new regimes of state planning? How did they contest or modify the planning priorities set by the government? Did private entrepreneurs organize themselves to effectively reshape policies for their own ends?
|FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2023 | (399 Ruehl Family Room, Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building)
|1.00 pm - 2:15 pm
|The Past and Future of Planning (panel discussion open to the Princeton University community)
|2:30 – 4:00 pm
Chair/Discussant: Elizabeth Chatterjee
|4:15 – 5:45 pm
Chair/Discussant: Edward Baring, Princeton University
|SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2023 | 399 Ruehl Family Room, Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building
|9:30 – 11:00 am
|South and Southeast Asia
|11:15 am – 12.45 pm
12:45 – 1:30 pm
Lunch & Program Close
Co-sponsored by the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance and the Center for Collaborative History
- Julis Romo Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance
- Center for Collaborative History