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Was centralization of both the economic and and the political inevitable or was this a choice? OR Is it possible for a socialist state to allow the workers to learn to govern—why or why not?
It was likely inevitable. Even with perfectly informed workers, democracies are not ideal for planning bigger picture goals. It can be easy(at least radically easier) to figure out in a room of pre-selected people what to do, and who has the right expertise, and to force people to sign on to a coherent plan, but with thousands or millions of people, the degree of diverging interests, efforts at purely self-interested politics, failures to persuade or coherence plans, etc, will lead to gross inefficiencies. The people can easily talk themselves into subsidizing and taxing an industry at the same time based upon the coalition politics that might be at work,(and it happens in a real democracy all the time) but these problems are amplified with a government controlling everything.
Very well said, and I like your emphasis on the difference between a segment of the population - "a room of pre-selected people" - versus the entire population, as with socialism. Whether it is getting people to engage in democracy and planning (as you describe) or getting people to engage in production - a single public sector firm can work but not a whole society of them - and planning, it may be possible to get it working in a single case or subset of society, or several of them, but not across all of society, at least so far.
I think that because they consolidated the political system it was inevitable that the economy would come under control of the government. I do not think it is possible for a socialist stat to allow the workers to govern. It seems that if workers are spending their time learning how to govern then they are not doing the work required. If they split their time 50/50 then they would lose 50% production capability. If they all worked full time and set aside time to vote on issues, I do not think that any of the workers would have enough knowledge of the overall operation to make informed decisions. If workers did make a decision that was uniformed or not the best decision possible because of their lack of knowledge, then the workers would go to work producing something that may not be sufficient to cover the need. These events would lead to excessive waist, and would result in the system breaking down.
Excellent answer - I like your focus on the scarcity of time with regard to the people's labor and policy - the economic and the political - as time must always be scarce, so it is a strong, and often overlooked, aspect of the argument. It brings you to the calculation argument, and also the hierarchy and control, but from a somewhat different direction than traditional Austrian arguments.