This question is sparked by another one about Communism.

Was there any Capitalist society (that is having market economy) where all power (including power over means of production) belonged to democratically elected bodies and where workers and other laborers (as opposed to billionaires) were represented in legislature?


1 Answer 1


Using a Marxian definition of capitalism as the expanded reproduction of value through the commodity form's production by wage labour: maybe.

All of Yugoslavia's Party, parliaments and workplace boards were nominally democratically elected. If someone takes umbrage at the democracy of these elections, then the answer must be no. If someone takes umbrage at the substantive nature of control that these organs had over the economy, then the answer must be no.

However, if you're willing to tolerate highly organised elections leading to nominal but not substantive control, then Yugoslavia would count.

Soviet production didn't have local democratic control after 1921 (cf: Simon Pirani); other instances such as Hungary 1956 or the period of War Communism are hard to classify, as capital wasn't being reproduced in an expanded form, if it was being reproduced at all. More typically bourgeois states don't count—the right to maintain capital in a family or personal situation and the "one share, one vote" principle of at least some incorporated bodies renders these votes undemocratic in a post-1789 world.

Curiously, this leads back towards the conclusion that capitalist societies are a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. (Given, of course, that you accept the postulate of what capitalism is, and that economic production is as much a matter of power as law making and enforcement).

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    Good, can you please clarify whether the economy was market-regulated in Yugoslavia in the said period?
    – Anixx
    May 1, 2013 at 3:51
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    While there were formal markets in a Marxian sense, the level of social and state coordination of the market was much higher than, say, Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. Markets inside Yugoslavia did have to find buyers, but apparently they were heavily distorted by subsidies (if less so than the Soviet Union). Remembering of course that most contemporary commodity markets (US Cars, Banking, Farm, IP) are heavily subsidised by the state and involve socially coordinated limitation of competition. May 1, 2013 at 5:07
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    in the USSR the enterprises also employed agents for supply and sales, does it make its economy market-based?
    – Anixx
    May 1, 2013 at 5:17
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    Despite the distortions of the market in the USSR, commodities were offered on markets at production prices with variances based on demand. It is the bit of Soviet economic studies that is so blindly obvious to experts that they don't mention; and is so impossible for amateurs to imagine. While price controls were reasonably strong in production prices; other elements of the commodity were uncontrolled: time, volume, quality, conformance. And products did have to hit market to be "realised"—no sales, no income for production units without explicit state subsidy. May 1, 2013 at 5:36

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