Current Debate

Preliminary Call for Participation to the VI International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy”

The VI International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy” will take place in Argentina between August 30 and September 2, 2017. read more »

What if the workers were in control?

Back in the 1970s, with unemployment rising and British industry contracting, workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace came up with a pioneering plan to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills. The ‘Lucas Plan’ remains one of the most radical and forward thinking attempts ever made by workers to take the steering wheel and directly drive the direction of change.  read more »

Lucas Aerospace Combine Shop Steward Committee Corporate Plan: A contingency strategy as a positive alternative to recession and redundancies

In January 1976, the workers of Lucas Aerospace published an alternative plan regarding the future of their company. It was for the most part a response to the management's intention to cut thousands of jobs in the context of industrial restructuring, in order to confront international competition. In the text, the workers argue in favor of a shift towards socially useful production. read more »

The Forgotten Workers’ Control Movement of Prague Spring

At the time of the [August 1968] Soviet invasion [of Czechoslovakia], two months after the first workers’ councils were formed, there were perhaps fewer than two dozen of them, although these were concentrated in the largest enterprises and therefore represented a large number of employees. But the movement took off, and by January 1969 there were councils in about 120 enterprises, representing more than 800,000 employees, or about one-sixth of the country’s workers. This occurred despite a new mood of discouragement from the government from October 1968. read more »

Police attacks Viome's "Caravan of Struggle and Solidarity" after a fruitless meeting with vice-minister

Workers of the occupied self-managed factories of Viome, in Thessaloniki, and Roben, in Veria, along with supporters from all over Greece, have started their "Caravan of Struggle and Solidarity" to Athens on the afternoon of Thursday 31 June, to protest the inactivity of the government and its unwillingness to legalise the operation of the two recuperated companies. read more »

Cooperative and common ownership

Company buy-outs and transformation into cooperative enterprises are often presented as a step in the construction of commons, as the various stakeholders – workers and users – are involved in the process of preserving and developing a resource. However, even though the cooperative form departs from the traditional rules of capital, it still remains essentially private in nature, which leads to frequent capitalist drifts when the cooperative is successful. read more »

Self-management, Social Reappropriation and the Commons

I would like to start by examining the latter of these three notions, first exploring its meaning in the singular sense. The ‘common’ should be understood as a political principle whereby there is no shared accountability without co-participation in the same activity: simply being a member of a specific group (be it a family, a nation, a certain ethnicity, etc.) is not enough. It is this very principle that inspired the backlash against representative democracy seen amongst movements in recent history that have occupied squares (the Indignés movement as well as the Gezi Park and Taksim Square protests, to name but a few). read more »

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 »

Towards a Conversation with Students: Re-thinking the Figure of the Worker

Over the last 30-35 years, we have witnessed and been connected with innumerable self-activities of workers. Even within these, there has been much that has stayed beyond our grasp, much has remained illegible to us. The electric self-activity of workers of Maruti Suzuki (Manesar) between 4 June 2011 and 18 July 2012 not only produced fresh energy and excitement, it also brought forth new questions. We want to share some of these with you today. read more »

The Frontier of Control: a study in British workshop politics - Carter L. Goodrich

In his classic work, The Frontier of Control, Carter L. Goodrich examined the workplace organisation amongst miners and others workers, as well as the growing syndicalism in the unions and the guild socialist movement, in the UK in the turbulent period of 1919-1920.  In this he identified the site of struggle around the frontier between management prerogative - or 'complete executive control' - and full workers' control. read more »

The workers’ self-management alternative

Discussions about workers’ control and self-management which were once at the heart of the labour movement are now once again on the agenda, both among British activists and internationally. The network of communists who produce The Commune are the most determined advocates of self-management among the English and Welsh radical left, and have generally found a positive response.  read more »

Solemnly in Tuzla: Dita started producing powder detergent Arix Tenzo.

In June 2015 workers at Dita detergent factory in Tusla, following bankrupcy, look over the factory to stop it becoming derelict.  Following repairs, particularly to the roof and steamline, they have gone back into production as a workers' cooperative.  The following is a short piece from the Sarajavo Times.  Hope to have a fuller story soon.

"After months of hard work and effort in the Tuzla detergent factory Dita, the production of powder detergent Arix Tenzo started yesterday. read more »

Self-managed socialism: possible, urgent, necessary

The destruction of the welfare state in Europe and the continuation of the state of social ills in the rest of the world are the consequences of an irrational society. In Spain, Portugal and Greece 40% of young people are unemployed and the state has unpayable debts. After riots in England’s capital city the Government insisted on calling the youth “vandals without a cause”, dismissing out of hand the obvious social causes of the revolt. read more »

Anton Pannekoek: a brief biography

Anton Pannekoek's life span coincided with what was almost the whole history of the modern labour movement; he experienced its rise as a movement of social protest, its trans formation into a movement of social reform, and its eclipse as an independent class movement in the contemporary world. But Pannekoek also experienced its revolutionary potentialities in the spontaneous upheavals which, from time to time, interrupted the even flow of social evolution. read more »

A Paul Mattick Interview

Question : What relevance does Pannekoek's book have in Europe today ? Do you think that the analytic memory and theory of the past experience of council communism, as Pannekoek expresses them, can be "heard" and understood by workers here today ?

Answer : A book, such as Pannekoek's, is not in need of immediate relevance. It concerns itself with a historical period; with past occurrences as well as possible future experiences, in which the phenomenon of workers' councils appearing and disappearing points to a trend of development in workers' class struggle and its changing objectives. read more »

Who Needs a Boss?

If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction. 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 »