The Meidner Plan

A Swedish labor economist called Rudolf Meidner, who played a major role in the construction of the highly successful Swedish welfare state in the 1960s and early 1970s, came up with what became known as the Meidner Plan.

Confronting inflation, the powerful trade unions were urged to exercise collective wage restraint. In return, the extra profits (surplus-value) that would accrue to capital because of that restraint would be taxed away and placed in a worker-controlled social-investment fund that would purchase shares in capitalist corporations. The shares purchased were deemed untradeable, and over time … control over the corporation would pass over to the social-investment fund. In other words, the capitalist class would quite literally be bought out (peacefully) over time and replaced by total worker control over investment decisions.

The plan was greeted with horror by the capitalist class … The social-democratic government of the time got cold feet and never attempted to implement the plan. But when you think about it, the idea (much more complicated in its details, of course) is broadly consistent with Marx’s argument, at the same time as it offers a peaceful way to buy out capitalist class power. So why not think more about it?

David Harvey, Companion to Marx’s Capital: the Complete Edition, Chapter 9