I was wondering about 1960s and 1970s groups such as Solidarity (UK), Socialisme ou Barbarie, the Situationist International, News and Letters, and the Facing Reality group. Is it fair to call them council communists? I am writing an article in which I am tending to want to call them council communists, but having done a bit of reading, it seems that many don't describe them as council communists, so I am pondering about it.
Like many other tendencies of the old communist movement, council communism would be 'rediscovered' by the radical politics of the sixties and seventies. Whilst never attracting the sorts of numbers who flocked to the leninist groups, the current nonetheless exerted a significant influence upon the outlook of the post-1968 libertarian left. Even here, however, its reach was largely indirect, via other groupings and thinkers - the situationists, Socialisme ou Barbarie, the Johnson-Forest Tendency - whose earlier break with leninism had brought them into contact with the surviving council communists during the fifties.
which infers to me that the SI, SouB and JFT (Johnson Forest Tendency) were coming from outside the council communist orbit, maybe dabbling in it a bit, but never fully councilist. But how come the SI were all for universal self-management and all power to the workers' councils then? And didn't SouB espouse councils too eg. in many of Castoriadis' pamphlets? Following Castoriadis, Brinton did as well.
The 1956 preface to their [Johnson Forest Tendency]
1950 text State Capitalism and World Revolution(excerpt) was signed by Cornelius Castoriadas and Cajo Brendel, indicating some links with both the new ideas abroad and the older Council Communist tradition, though no direct influence of Council Communism ever seemed apparent in the offshoots of the JFT, maybe due to their critical espousal of Lenin as one of the greatest revolutionary theorists.
subsequently, on his libertarian marxist tendency map, he sees the JFT and its subsequent splits as coming out of Leninism rather than council communism. But when I flicked thru Facing Reality, it seemed fairly council communist to me, seeing workers' councils as the centrepiece of the new society, and anti-Bolshevik vanguardism too. CLR James and Grace Lee seem pretty taken by Hungary 1956.
Some claim that only certain strands of splits from SouB and JFT were closer to council communism -- the Castoriadis wing of SouB is often seen as Leninist or semi-Leninist, while the ICO/Echanges split off is seen as council communist; and of the JFT split, the News and Letters group/Marxist Humanism is seen as semi-Leninist, while James' Facing Reality grouping is seen as more councilist. But this seems to be based on dubious definitions: eg. Bourrinet in his book on the Dutch and German Communist Left seems to think that councilism is inherently anti-formal organisaiton and pro-spontaneity and for revolutionary waiting and as such any organisation of a more formal nature is not councilist. But, as Mark Shipway notes, haven't council communists disagreed as much as class struggle anarchists on organisation? (I mean some are for formal organisation, like the platformists, some not, like Bonnano, others in between).
Am I getting confused here? Any help or links to texts appreciated.