What kind of State? The Relation Between Capitalism and Democracy as a Topic of Comparative History



In capitalism over the centuries, a close symbiosis of markets and states has been much more the rule than the exception. Contrary to “neoliberal” assumptions it can be argued that the long-term structural change from owner-capitalism to manegerial capitalism and, most recently, to financialized capitalism has created and is creating increasing need for government interventions and regulations while globalization makes such interventions more difficult. State-market relations, and government interventions in capitalist economies, have strongly varied between periods, countries and world regions, and these variations account for many observable differences between capitalist processes over time and space. But how have different degrees and forms of state-market interrelations influenced the structure of the states, the character of the political systems and the patterns of politics involved? This leads, with respect to the modern period, to the controversial problem of affinities and tensions between capitalism and democracy. What has the opening of the discipline towards global history yielded, and what can the comparison between Europe and China teach us with respect to this problem?