“Election wheel” (1932) woodcut by Gerd Arntz, a council communist. All parties that participate in elections are mistaken. The workers in the lower left do not vote, but form independent councils.
Council communism emerged along with the worldwide revolutionary movements of the 1917 - 1923 period and the "worker' councils" which were created (particularly in Russia and Germany) as organs of proletarian power. The council communists challenged old assumptions regarding revolutionary change and the role of political parties and trade unions. In the years following the First World War, the council communists began to develop a critique of the emerging Leninist orthodoxy within Marxism. This class will explore the council communist tradition’s origins and theoretical trajectory with a focus on themes such as mass action and class-consciousness, and the historical role of Bolshevism. We will discuss how these ideas challenge dominant conceptions about Marxism and communist society while being situated firmly within the Marxist tradition. We will also explore how council communist ideas have been criticized from within the communist left. We will discuss a representative council communist text and grapple with the questions it raises for revolutionary theory and practice. • Led by David C. •
Sunday June 24 & July 1; 10 a.m. – 12 noon