Workers' Councils

The Italian Factory Occupations of 1920

During the month of September, 1920, a widespread occupation of Italian factories by their workforces took place, which originated in the auto factories, steel mills and machine tool plants of the metal sector but spread out into many other industries — cotton mills and hosiery firms, lignite mines, tire factories, breweries and distilleries, and steamships and warehouses in the port towns. But this was not a sit-down strike; the workers continued production with their own in-plant organization. read more »

Vth International Gathering “The Workers’ Economy”

Call for Participation

I. Background

Since 2007, the International Gathering of “The Workers’ Economy” (Encuentro Internacional de “La Economía de los Trabajadores-Trabajadoras”) has taken place every two years. The gatherings have opened up a space for debate and dialogue between workers, social and political activists, academics, and intellectuals concerning the problems and potential of what we have termed “the workers’ economy”—based on self-management and the defence of the rights and interests of the population that lives by their work, within the rubric of today’s conjuncture of global neoliberal capitalism. read more »

Marx’s Critique of Socialist Labor-Money Schemes and the Myth of Council Communism’s Proudhonism

Some left theorists have claimed that the council communist tradition actually advocated a self-managed capitalist economy, rather than a truly communist one. This essay aims to expose and dismantle that myth by examining some writings of council communists, particularly those of the Dutch Group of International Communists and Anton Pannekoek, and comparing them with Karl Marx’s own writings on post-capitalist labor-time accounting. Through this process, I hope to show that the myth about council communism is fundamentally based on a misrepresentation of Marx’s stance on these issues. read more »

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 »

Book Review: "Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present"

The fact that the publisher is Haymarket Publishers indicates that the book under examination is concerned with labor studies. This particular book is an anthology of twenty-two articles by various authors, who specialize in labor movements or the history of workers’ organizations. read more »

Anton Pannekoek: Workers Councils

"This book has been written in the war years 1941-42 under the occupation of Holland by the Germans. The author, who during many years attentively observed and sometimes actively took part in the workers' movement, gives here a summary of what from these experiences and study may be derived as to methods and aims of the workers' fight for freedom. What a century of workers' struggles presents to us is neither a series of ever again failing attempts at liberalism, nor a steadfast forward march of the workers following a fixed plan of old well-tried tactics.

Gabriel Kuhn (ed.): All Power to the Councils! A Documentary History of the German Revolution

Every schoolchild on the globe knows something about the Russian Revolution from 1917. It was the origin of a state called Soviet Union and a political confrontation later known as the cold war which shaped the 20th century longer than any other political conflict.

Unlike the crucial events of 1917, the German Revolution of 1918 is not part of the global memory. It did not erect a socialist state as hoped by many of its protagonists and instead ended with a fragile republic that lasted only twelve years and was destroyed by the Nazi Party in 1933. read more »

Anton Pannekoek

Anton Pannekoek (2 January 1873 – 28 April 1960) was a Dutch astronomer and revolutionary. As a recognized Marxist theorist, Pannekoek was a main figure in the radical left in the Netherlands and Germany. 

Pannekoek was best known for his writing on workers' councils. He regarded these as a new form of organisation capable of overcoming the limitations of the old institutions of the labour movement, the trade unions and social democratic parties. Pannekoek argued that the workers' revolution and the transition from capitalism to communism had to be achieved by the workers themselves, democratically organised in workers' councils. read more »

Rosa Luxemburg’s Concept of Basic Democratic Socialism

Every year in January between 50.000 and 100.000 people honour Rosa Luxemburg with a march to her grave at a cemetery in Berlin, Germany. In the last several years conferences on Rosa Luxemburg took place not only in Germany but also in other European countries like Finland, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, USA (1998 in Chicago where Bill Pelz organized the meeting) and even in China and recently in South America. read more »

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