While, in the age of real existing socialism in Yugoslavia, the social production was supposed to be governed by the principles of public ownership & workers' self-management, all along the circulation of capital continued to rely on the solid principle of the industrial capitalism - the capital could generate surplus value if those who were selling the productive commodity - their labour force - into the labor market, meaning workers, were also the ones who were buying back the commodified products of their labour (and also if, this is the second principle in the equation of profit-making, but this is less to the point here, these transactions occurred with a differential in value).
As it turns out the radical refounding of social production in the Yugoslavian socialist project remained half-way radical - though the production relations and management of means of production was reimagined in thoroughly different fashion, the issue of circulation was not addressed adequately. This might be the reason why, as the socialist economy converted to free market, the consumption was the first element in the economic make-up of the society to adapt to the new environment - it wasn't all that new after all. But what constituted the failure on behalf of the socialist project was that it rehearsed the divorce between the productivity and consumption in the subjectivity (differentiation between worker and consumer otherwise also known as alienation of producer from his products) and the mediation between them via the process of abstraction and mediation by means of the general equivalent the same way the capitalist project did. In this regard it remained tributary of the capital relation and consequently was essentially deserving of the name it got - state-capitalism.
This putative critique of real existing socialism from the way-back machine of political economy should not serve here as a point of departure for yet another account as to what were the inherent reasons that the entire thing fell apart. As a failure to set straight the workings of capitalism, it should rather serve us as a tool to better illuminate how the free cooperation paradigm of production created in the free software community is remodeling these workings in its own right. The point made is not that this endeavor necessarily stands as a successor to the socialist one, but rather that it offers a different intervention in the same nodes of the capitalist system - those of production and circulation. And maybe a better one.
Namely, using the privileges of a small scale community with a global reach, an epochal coincidence of production and consumption in the digital medium and a legally sanctioned relation of exchange based on the copyright, the free software succeeded in a relative erasure of the functional differentiation between producer and consumer. Instead of abstracting labour into the general equivalent, it opted to convert it into the knowledge it needed to communicate in order to coordinate the collective effort of creating a commons. As the market mechanism of scarcity is not applicable for something that is digital, non-rival and non-exclusive, the way to feed back the demand into development are not price signals but knowledge, information. This is the reason why the free software developer community includes the entire range from hackers to users - because it is first and foremost a continuum of knowledge, and this is the reason why the copyleft is its fundamental feature - it is a safeguard for knowledge to be free to circulate.
The free software certainly cannot measure with the socialist projects from the last century. It is also not first and only of its kind. However, it addresses the basic politico-economic parallax at the heat of those projects, i.e. how to reinvent the organizational principles of mediation between productivity and circulation that wouldn't go via alienation through commodification and general equivalent of money, but would conceive them as a form of labor that is, along with being a product, also a knowledge generated in labor and and a form of circulation that is, along with giving a product up for consumption, also conveying that knowledge of labor. And in being a politico-economical strategy of autonomy - maybe a temporary one, one that might eventually dissolve under the sway of market or development of technology - it has the merit of not following the methodology of socialist projects, namely to liberate the multiplicity of production and circulation by making a work out of the refoundation of the social. It rather liberates the multiplicity of the latter by refounding the former.