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?

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    That seems like a socialist society rather than a capitalist. – SoylentGray May 1 '13 at 18:24
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    In theory, you just described a formal socialist society (` all power (including power over means of production) belonged to democratically elected bodies`). The fact that in practice none of "socialst" states had been able to achieve said desired-for-them state of affairs, doesn't make it "capitalist". – user4012 May 1 '13 at 21:01
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    @DVK the theoretical term "means of production" is generally a rather blatant cue that someone is using a methodology influenced by historical materialism. Apart from the common meaning of worker, as in someone who works for a wage or salary, there's an extended theoretical discussion of the wage labour relationship in Marx and subsequent writers as the defining characteristic of the worker. You seem to want to ask a seperate question regarding theoretical definitions of "worker"? It would make a great question. – Samuel Russell May 1 '13 at 21:18
  • @SamuelRussell - I am at a loss as to how to frame the worker one into SE format. My point is that Marxist terminology clashes with common English, and it severely grates on me when the former is used in political discourse by using the latter term, because it has negative connotations (e.g. anyone who's not a "worker" doesn't "work"). "Salaried hired laborer" works for some discourse, but not visavi modern capitalist states, where everyone and their grandmother who has a job also has a pension invested in assets which make them dirty rotten capitalists at retirement. – user4012 May 2 '13 at 0:06
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    they last for minutes and then immediately degenerate into mob rule. – user1726 May 6 '13 at 2:17

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 '13 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. – Samuel Russell May 1 '13 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 '13 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. – Samuel Russell May 1 '13 at 5:36

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