Reconsidering workers councils

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Joined: 23-01-04
Jul 26 2004 17:31
Reconsidering workers councils

Factory councils, organised by the proletariat, with the election of delegates (as opposed to representatives), who are all recallable at any point to the proletariat, seems to be the closest that revolutionary theory has come to depicting the beginnings of a new society. However these strike committees are no more than the start, the beginnings of any revolution, they seem to be more of a tool, albeit a democratic and highly effective one, in the class conflict. Perhaps in early capitalism, when the factory was at the centre of industrial society, then the workers councils could have been an appropriate form of organisation for the whole of society. However could these workers councils, these assemblies be reproduced in relation to cultural services, agricultural production and society at large in an post-advanced capitalist society?

Obviously we have to be careful not to think of councils in the parameters of capitalist convention, but would the council be an effective, democratic way to realise the freedom of the proletariat in wider society?

Pannekoek talked of only the factory based proletariat being relevent in terms of a workers democracy, only the council would organise the affairs of society because of the central role of the factory in society. However clearly in europe and much of the nortern and southern hemisphere the constituation of the proletarist has evolved, the nature of work has evolved.

Does anyone have and ideas as to how contemporary councils would work?

In the throws of revolution obviously cultural capital (printers, billboards, computers) could be used as tools, and the councils in that specific area, along with other workers would be able to disseminate ideas through these resources, but what is their future at the beginning of the revolution, following the decisive battles and development and augmentation of the councils, do they become redundant?

Joined: 26-09-03
Jul 26 2004 18:39

I think the closest we've seen to a council-based revolution in recent times has been the uprising in Argentina, with the street assemblies. These were unable and unwilling to push things forward towards a destruction of the local state, but they still acted as a focus for a lot of activity -- still do.

I think any councils/assemblies would have to be based on *something* that brought people togehter. Maybe in some places that would still be a workplace, maybe in other areas it would be a locality, some places it may be a community not based on locality or occupation but something else.

The basic principle of people getting together and sharing out tasks is still good, I think; even in the midst of a riot/reclaim the streets/eviction, there are times when you need to gather together to share info and reaffirm your common goals.

Joined: 23-01-04
Jul 27 2004 18:39

Some Notes On Workers Councils that are of some use

Summary of René Reisel’s Preliminaries on the councils and councilist organisation

‘’The council aims at being the form of the practical unification of proletarians in the process of appropriating the material and intellectual means of changing all existing conditions and making themselves the masters of history’’

The council remains both the greatest weapon in the armoury of the proletariat and subsequently the greatest chance of undermining the functioning of the current system, because the worker and the factory (whether industrial or cultural) remains at the heart of capitalism.

It is necessary that the council transcends and overcomes the separations embodied in specialised political organisations and is exemplified in ideology. It follows that the organisation of councils must avoid the obstacles of mystification, glorified memories of past failures and the carcass of marxist ideology (preconceived, abstract beliefs separated from all reality).

‘’Only historical practice, through which the working class must discover and realise all it’s possibilities, will indicate the precise organisational forms of council power’’

It is the task of revolutionaries to determine the basic principles upon which the councilist organisation will be formed. The councilist organisation ‘’must cease to exist as a separate organisation in the moment that abolishes separation’’. Reisel here refers to the formation of the body of the council.

The dissolution of the council organisation would take place as soon as is possible.

The council is drawn from the assembly of workers, for which the council is essentially a megaphone rather than a group of representatives. Each member of the council is immediately revocable at any point by the jurisdiction of the assembly.

In order to prevent against the infiltration of ideologues and party pimps into the council, or even the assembly, it is necessary that the council should be self regulating to a degree, in the early stages I am presuming that the organisation for the council will do its utmost to prevent manipulators from entering the stage. This is where we can see the importance of the consciousness of the workers, as complete autonomy implies the ability to not only highlight manipulators but to unequivocally discredit and expel them.

The council organisation shall be judged not by its rhetoric but by its practice. It follows that the council organisation shall be characterised chiefly by non-hierarchical relations within itself and between other revolutionary bodies, should elucidate and develop revolutionary theory and the critique of the ruling society and should essentially be able to critique its own practice.

All revolutionary workers, all those who seek their self emancipation from capital must participate

The council should be comprised of a minimum of 2/3 workers. (Reisel’s prerogative)

In delegations at which decisions are taken workers must make up ¾ of the participants. (“ “)

The practical experience of the council is the terrain “where people acquire the comprehension of their own action, where they’ realise philosophy’”

The free play of the ideas and practices of the council marks the beginning of the destruction of the existing society and simultaneously the unleashing of endless possibilities for new ways of living.

“ The victory of the councils is not the end of the revolution, but the beginning”

Joined: 20-09-03
Jul 27 2004 23:47

can i just say

The council organisation shall be judged not by its rhetoric...

Haha tongue

pingtiao's picture
Joined: 9-10-03
Jul 28 2004 09:17

Following up from Lazlo's post, Argentina, from [popul;ar rebellion to normal capitalism is a pretty good critical evaluation of what happened, what didn't happen, and what limitations were present in the uprising.[/url]

Joined: 23-01-04
Jul 28 2004 17:56

whats the joke with the council organisation and rhetoric? confused

Joined: 7-10-03
Jul 31 2004 01:32



The rest of it is great though he didn't invent it and anarchist communists have thought of this as basic stuff for ever.