ABSTRACT

The querelle between Marxists and theorists equating socialism with a system of democratic firms operating in a market environment calls to mind the criticisms that Marxists used to level against K. Kautsky’s and E. Bernstein’s tendency to approach Marxism from the narrow perspective of their democratic-liberal views in politics and evolutionary worldviews. A different explanation for the critical attitude of a great many Marxists towards the idea of democratic firm management as an alternative mode of production is suggested in a book that L. Walras published in 1865. The idea that trade unions are reluctant to accept democratic firm management was strongly emphasised by A. Gramsci. Cooperative firms play a positive role because their very existence in capitalistic systems is proof that workers are in a position to run factories by themselves, that democracy in the workplace is possible, and that capitalists are not necessary for the organization of production.