Book Reviews

Revolutionary Shop Stewards and Workers Councils in the German Revolution

If Ralf Hoffrogge were writing within an American context rather than a German one, he would be situated between two important developments in the United States. A new cohort of social movement historians is addressing the gaps in anarchist, anti-authoritarian, and left-communist historiography. Neighboring this is a resurgence of interest in workers' councils historically and in the contemporary period. read more »

Two Books On Labor

An old question: is there a vital “workerism,” self-guided and instinctively radical, apart from socialist, communist or other left-wing political groups and can it make great reforms, even hold power in a workplace or city or national state? The question goes properly back, in socialist history, to the years before the First World War, when vast movements of unskilled, underpaid workers in North America and various parts of Europe defied socialist calls for moderation and control, that is, by left-wing party leadership. Through the immensely complicated history of the Left in the same places and across the world, most of the same questions recur. read more »

GLOVES OFF: WHEN THE WORKERS TAKE CONTROL

In 1972-73 women machinists at the Whyalla Glove Factory were faced with redundancy as the company – James North – decided to close the factory down. The women challenged the management’s prerogative to close the factory as it saw fit, and occupied it.

The story is told by Verity Burgmann, Ray Jureidini (who seems to have done the research for the Whyalla part of the story) and Meredith Burgmann in ‘Doing without the Boss: Workers’ Control Experiments in Australia in the 1970s’. read more »

'Social ownership for the 21st century'

The publication of Social ownership for the 21st century by the Labour Representation Committee on behalf of the Left Economics Advisory Panel is a significant development.  For the first time in nearly three decades an important section of the labour movement is at last developing a discussion on the questions of forms of social ownership, workers’ control and workers’ self-management.  The Tragedy of read more »

An Alternative Labour History Worker Control and Workplace Democracy

The global financial crisis has led to a new shop-floor militancy. Radical forms of protest and new workers’ takeovers have sprung up all over the globe. In the US, Republic Windows and Doors started production under worker control in January 2013.

Review of '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 read more »

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" - 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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