What would essentially be democratic socialism. where the means of production are owned by workers unlike in the soviet union where workers' councils only had nominal power and were driven by the politburo.


2 Answers 2


Yes, looking back at the Spanish Revolution in 1936. In areas controlled by the anarchist CNT, industry was socialized. It’s hard to make generalizations about such a chaotic period, but as a rule, some form of worker’s self-management was universally implemented in areas of Spain under CNT control, without direct control by any central organs.

There are other examples in anarchist history, but this is probably the most well-known example.


Most countries of the Soviet block were supposed to be like this... but it never worked, since de facto it means the control by the elected representatives, who inevitably abuse their extensive powers for doing social good. This is not so different in principle from how big capital diverts government power for its own purposes, except that one link in the chain is removed (the politicians and the beneficiaries of the policies are the same people,even if they officially may own nothing). In this sense the main safeguard against government abuse in liberal demicracies is not the democratic process, but the inherently limited role of the government.

Remark: Note that democratic socialism is actually not a new term - e.g., it was also used to refer to the pre-Thatcher decades in Britain (i.e., between the world war 2 and 1980s). Thatcher herself extensively uses it in her autobiography (obviously critically). In the context of Britain it is perhaps closer to what it means in Bernie Sanders' discourse. Note also that the latter is now being rebranded into "social liberalism", to put it more in line with the social demicracies of western Europe, which are technically not socialist (unlike the former Soviet states).

  • 1
    The final remark seems potentially misleading, as it uses a term that looks like it means the same thing, but whose actual meaning is different. Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 8:26
  • @vicky_molokh I tried to clarify the remark... but it feels like opening a Pandora's box.
    – Morisco
    Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 12:27
  • This segues into comparing auth-left countries and liberal democraties (capitalist countries), neither of which is the point. You're not answering the question at all. Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 19:28

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