21st Century: Workers' Control in the Present

Putting “Isms” in Their Place: A Review Essay - Mike Miller - socialpolicy

"The Roman arena was technically a level playing field. But on one side were the lions with all the weapons, and on the other the Christians with all the blood. That's not a level playing field. That's a slaughter. And so is putting people into the economy without equipping them with capital, while equipping a tiny handful of people with hundreds and thousands of times more than they can use." (Louis Kelso in A World of Ideas, by Bill Moyers; Doubleday, 1990)
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Ours to Master and to Own: Workers' Control from the Commune to the Present - Resolute Reader

As I write this review, tens of thousands of people are engaged in Occupy protests and occupations around the world. Most famously in Wall Street, but also on the doorstep of the London Stock Exchange and in a hundred other locations around the globe. Workplace occupations have also been part of the recent struggles - here in the UK, in the last few years at the Visteon and Vestas plants. As this book ably documents, workers control, or at least workers management has been a feature of recent class struggle, as well as in the past. read more »

"Our to Master and to Own" - Andy Piascik - zcommunications

Much recent discussion and scholarship has gone into dissecting the decline in the strength of the working class in the United States. For the most part, the emphasis has been on the steady weakening of trade unions and on excavating why union officials have been unwilling to attempt new forms of resistance. In such a context, discussions of workers control of the means of production—how it might look, what about it has succeeded and failed in the past, its relationship to revolutionary change—may seem a stretch. But maybe not. For perhaps what the U.S. working class needs as much as anything is to explore alternatives not only to neoliberalism but to traditional unionism, even that of the social movement type.

Ours to Master and to Own: Workers Control from the Commune to the Present edited by Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini goes a long way in assisting us in that exploration. Ness and Azzellini are well-positioned to put together such an important work; both have long radical histories as writers, teachers and activists. The result of their efforts is a rich collection of stories of workers seizing control of production in different epochs under a vast array of circumstances in numerous countries. read more »

"Our to Master and to Own" - Julie Sherry - socialistreview

As the current economic crisis deepens, governments around the globe are attempting to force savage austerity measures on the working class. The argument about a different kind of society, one that is run and controlled by workers and in their interests, is now an urgent one.

Marx said that capitalism creates its own gravedigger - the working class. Our history is rich with lessons from past struggles when workers have challenged for power, sometimes confronting the bosses, sometimes confronting the capitalist state as a whole.
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It's possible, it's necessary - Antonio David Cattani - Redpepper

In Jean-Luis Cornolli’s film Cecília (a history of Giovanni Rossi, the Italian anarchist who built, with his companions, a libertarian community in the south of Brazil at the end of the 19th century) the main character speaks sublimely of comunità anarchica sperimentale. These communist principles ensured that common property and individual autonomy were guided by economic solidarity and mutually-constructed norms of living.
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New Media we recommend - Jeff Smith - griid

Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present, by Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini – This book was one of those history books that leaves you feeling mad that you were not taught this information in school. There is such a rich history of worker councils, workers communes and worker owned enterprises that gives one hope that more of this could happen if we were just aware of it. read more »

Greek Workers Take Over Factory

Tuesday February 12, was the first day of production under worker control at Viomichaniki Metalleutiki (Vio.Me), a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was abandoned by its bankrupt owners two years ago. Facing 30% unemployment and a dismal future for their community, workers in a series of mass assemblies decided to occupy the factory and operate it under direct democratic workers’ control.

As part of a letter being circulated by the Thessaloniki Solidarity Initiative explains:
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Occupied Greek Factory Begins Production Under Workers Control. Occupy, Resist, Produce!

“We see this as the only future for worker’s struggles.”
Makis Anagnostou, Vio.Me workers’ union spokesman

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 is the official first day of production under workers control in the factory of Viomichaniki Metalleutiki (Vio.Me) in Thessaloniki, Greece. This means production organized without bosses and hierarchy, and instead planned with directly democratic assemblies of the workers. The workers assemblies have declared an end to unequal division of resources, and will have equal and fair remuneration, decided collectively. The factory produces building materials, and they have declared that they plan to move towards a production of these goods that is not harmful for the environment, and in a way that is not toxic or damaging.
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Book Review: "Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present"

Ours to Master and to Own is a compilation of articles offering a historical and global overview of workers’ efforts to gain control over their workplaces, the economy, and governance. It is wonderfully organized in both a chronological and thematic logic, from the nineteenth century through the early twenty-first century, while also moving from a general historical overview toward more specific explanations of how worker democracy was implemented and fought in particular cases. read more »

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