workers' councils

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sam sanchez's picture
sam sanchez
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Aug 14 2006 00:50
workers' councils

Does the term "workers' council" refer to:

a) The face-to-face workplace based assembly of everyone who works there, where "management" decisions are made democratically by the whole workforce.

b)Meetings of delegates from various workplaces

c)Both?

Its just I get a bit confused. I hear some people, like those Parecon fellows, using the term to refer to both a) and b), whilst I've read other things where they use the term to mean one but not the other.

Boring semantics really, but if you feel like lending a hand to a neurotic but harmless pedant I would very much appreciate it.

lem
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Aug 14 2006 03:09

I think b. I really shouldn't have posted, though embarrassed

(can't remember where I get this from, don't have all my notes at the moment...)
edit: 2 meaning of "council"
A An assembly of persons called together for consultation, deliberation, or discussion.
B A body of people elected or appointed to serve as administrators, legislators, or advisors

Maybe the answer is "either"

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oldmoleshadow
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Aug 14 2006 03:17

the term is pretty ambiguous and has been historically connoted with everything from austro-marxist revisionism to ultra-leftism. Basically, i think it refers to an autonomous organization of workers who elect a delegate to represent them. In specific contexts(russia 1905, Italy early 20's), workers councils have ezxisted as radical forces existing outside traditional representation(unions)...theres plenty of stuff on council communism onthis site, id check out stuff by pannekeok, gorter, castoriadis, and debord as the writing of these individuals tends to give good info on councils.

butchersapron
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Aug 14 2006 13:45

Yeah, it's been used to cover pretty much all the above as well as territorial based organisations not directly rooted in a particular workplace, depending largely on the context in which they developed and the specific situation they needed to meet - i.e in 1917 they had to deal with the almost total collapse of the infra-structure and food supply, whilst in others they developed out of military neccesity. I wouldn't get too hung up on them being one specfic form of organisation to be honest.

edit: there's some pretty appalling introductions in the AK Press reprint of Pannekoek's Worker' Councils that mistake 'Works councils' for 'Worker's Councils' as well...

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 14 2006 13:49
butchersapron wrote:
there's some pretty appalling introductions in the AK Press reprint of Pannekoek's Worker' Councils that mistake 'Works councils' for 'Worker's Councils' as well...

really? eek

in that case it's official corporate policy to encourage communist activity, we're invited to put forward names for the works' council by a memo on the board near the drinks machine grin

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sam sanchez
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Aug 14 2006 13:54

So what do you call it when a workplace is managed by a face-to-face directly democratic meeting of everyone who works there?

Its just nice to have a word for it that everyone understands so you don't have to repeat the above definition over and over again.

butchersapron
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Aug 14 2006 13:55
Joseph K. wrote:
butchersapron wrote:
there's some pretty appalling introductions in the AK Press reprint of Pannekoek's Worker' Councils that mistake 'Works councils' for 'Worker's Councils' as well...

really? eek

in that case it's official corporate policy to encourage communist activity, we're invited to put forward names for the works' council by a memo on the board near the drinks machine grin

Would you be totally shocked to hear it was Ken Cooates of the old labour bureaucrats/Ruskin Oldboys/WEA linked The Institute for Workers' Control...still pushing the same line as 40 years ago...

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 14 2006 14:09
butchersapron wrote:
Would you be totally shocked to hear it was Ken Cooates of the old labour bureaucrats/Ruskin Oldboys/WEA linked The Institute for Workers' Control...still pushing the same line as 40 years ago...

yes, i suppose, since i don't know who any of those people or organisations are (except for old labour wink ) grin

butchersapron
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Aug 14 2006 14:22
Jack wrote:
Wasn't the instute for workers control supposedly linked to stuff far more dodgy than that?

Altho I mainly heard this off tankies, so maybe they just lost control of it or something. :)

Dogdy in what sense? Yeah, the tankies were pretty strongly represented, but it was all over the shop politically frankly.

butchersapron
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Aug 14 2006 14:40
Jack wrote:
Well a couple of tankies and an ortho-Trot have independently told me that there was some link between IWC and the secret state - or at leas that it was headed at one point by an asset. I assume they didn't mean Coates, tho.

Only heard this rather than read any evidence or owt.

Entirely possible - especially considering the interlocking agendas of elements of both, the more bureaucratically entrenched of the IWC participants in particular.

theaustralian
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Aug 24 2006 11:20

Isn't it a group of representatives elected by the worker's to manag the work place and decisions are made democraticly by the elected representatives. I think it is that.

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Volin
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Aug 24 2006 14:45
butchersspron wrote:
Would you be totally shocked to hear it was Ken Cooates of the old labour bureaucrats/Ruskin Oldboys/WEA linked The Institute for Workers' Control...still pushing the same line as 40 years ago...

I do remember that was a dire introduction, but I'm confused, is this the same guy that went on about his good work in the European Parliament? Chomsky's one was quite good, but he overtly conflates councilism with anarcho-syndicalism - which could be an interesting point if it wasn't so uncritical and liberalish.