Collective Capitalism, Theory of

Collective Capitalism, Theory of


a bourgeois concept which states that the characteristic features of contemporary capitalism are the concentration of production in large joint-stock corporations, the collective nature of labor, and the separation of capital ownership from control over the enterprises (transfer of control from the shareholders to the managers). The theory was advanced by the American economist G. Means in the 1960’s.

The essence of the theory of collective capitalism is expressed by Means in the following proposition: “We now have single corporate enterprises employing hundreds of thousands of workers, having hundreds of thousands of stockholders, using billions of dollars’ worth of the instruments of production, serving millions of customers, and controlled by a single management group. These are great collectives of enterprises, and a system composed of them or dominated by them might well be called ’collective capitalism’” (The Corporation Revolution in America, New York, 1962, pp. 50–51).

The theory of collective capitalism reflects the real process of the capitalist socialization of production but only in a distorted way, since it ignores the determining fact that the ownership of the means of production is still private, although it does not belong to individual capitalists any longer but to capitalist corporations. The theory of collective capitalism incorrectly interprets the difference between the premonopolistic and monopolistic stages of capitalism as a difference between two economic systems—”private” and “collective” capitalism. In reality, the capitalism of free competition and monopolistic capitalism belong to the same capitalist system.

The theory of collective capitalism emphasizes only the features that are common to capitalism and socialism, namely, the collective labor of many workers in large enterprises and the interrelationship of different fields and sectors of production; it conceals the fundamental differences between them—the private nature of the appropriation that results from the exploitation of hired labor under capitalism and the public ownership of the means of production in the absence of exploitation under socialism.

As one of the theories of the “transformation” of capitalism, the theory of collective capitalism differs from the theory of “people’s capitalism” insofar as it interweaves an apology for contemporary capitalism with criticism of the system and with bourgeois reformism.


Dalin, S. A. “Teorii korporatsionnoi revoliutsii i kollektivnogo kapitalizma Gardinera Minza.” In the collection Kritika terorii sovremennykh burzhuaznykh ekonomistov. Moscow, 1966.
Bregel’, E. Ia. Kritika burzhuaznykh uchenii ob economicheskoi sisteme sovremennogo kapitalizma. Moscow, 1972, Chapter 3.
Means, G. C. The Corporate Revolution in America. New York, 1962.
Means, G. C. Pricing Power and the Public Interest. New York, 1962.


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