Workers' councils and the economics of self-managed society - Cornelius Castoriadis

Workers' councils and the economics of self-managed society - Cornelius Castoriadis

Cornelius Castoriadis/Paul Cardan's proposals for the workings of a society based on the principle of self-management by workers' councils, originally published in English by Solidarity in 1972. We have significant disagreements with it as it retains the key features of capitalism, but we reproduce it for reference.

Taken from http://www.lust-for-life.org/Lust-For-Life/WorkersCouncilsAndEconomics/WorkersCouncilsAndEconomics.htm

AttachmentSize
workers-councils-Cornelius-Castoriadis.pdf4.02 MB
workers-councils-Cornelius-Castoriadis.mobi5.09 MB
workers-councils-Cornelius-Castoriadis.epub6.32 MB

Comments

Spikymike
Aug 21 2013 14:04

So here is an extract from a short book review I wrote way back in 1972:

''This...is an honest and well thought out attempt at dealing with the problems of transition from capitalist to communist society (a phrase misleadingly described as 'socialism'). it's main objective is to disprove the arguments against communism which state that people cannot freely and democractically run their own social affairs, and that it is impossible to carry on production without a specially trained section of workers whose main task is to organise the rest along authoritarian lines.
Whilst dealing with the technical and organisational tasks in a realistic fashion avoiding the faults of both anarchism and bolshevism (if not of the De-Leonist SLP) they show an amazing ignoranceof capitalist economics. They warn that a certain group of readers will react emotionally to the use of terms such as money and wages in relation to 'socialism' and we must surely be amongst that group. But our response isn't just emotional - at first site it appears that these terms are used to describe something similar to Marx's non-circulating labour vouchers, one method Marx suggested might be used to deal with shortages at the beginning of communism. Their discussion of 'value' however shows that this is not just a terminological dispute. Solidarity seem to have taken Marx's model of 'pure' capitalism in volume 1 of CAPITAL and wish to apply it in practice. For instance Marx states that the value of a commodity is determined by the amount of socially necessary labour time embododied in it. Price on the other hand fluctuates about this point and with monoply conditions (and the averaging of the rate of profit) may stay permanently above or below its value. Solidarity seem to want to rationalise this system so that prices always equal value rather than abolish commodity production alltogether.....''

Looking back at this I was too generous in my interpretation of Castoriadis approach which was still stuck in a rather trotskyist understanding of 'socialism' as a distinct society from communism and omitted a more fundamental critique of it's democratic fetish. Unfortunately a longer more critical article we published shortly after this does not appear on-line but it went into more detail on the changes made by (an embarassed?) Brinton/Palace in his translation of the original which certainly came accross as a form of democratic 'market socialism' - actually a form of capitalism. In other ways this pamplets model has some of the same faults as other more modern abstract models for a claimed alternative society such as 'Parecon' and 'Inclusive Democracy' which are criticsed elswhere on libcom.

A slightly one-sided critique (by a party with it's own democratic fetish), which non-the-less still contains some valid points, can be found here:
http://worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1960s/1969/no-774-february-1969/%E2%80%98solidarity%E2%80%99-group-not-so-solid
and another relevant one here:
http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2000s/2005/no-1210-june-2005/solidarity-twenty-five-years.
Other discussions on this site relating to Council Communism and 'labour-time vouchers' are also relevent.

Spikymike
Aug 21 2013 14:44

In relation to Castoriadis and Solidarity's lack of understanding of Marx's critique of the 'Value Form' it's also worth looking at David Brown's text 'The illusion of 'Solidarity' ' in the library here.

Steven.
Aug 21 2013 15:03

Good points Mike! I have added a critical introduction

lurdan
Aug 23 2013 01:40
Spikymike wrote:
Unfortunately a longer more critical article we published shortly after this does not appear on-line but it went into more detail on the changes made by (an embarassed?) Brinton/Palace in his translation of the original which certainly came accross as a form of democratic 'market socialism' - actually a form of capitalism. .

Would that be Adam Buick's demolition job on this translation, 'Solidarity, the Market and Marx' ? If so it's in the forum here at
http://libcom.org/forums/workers-councils-economics-self-managed-society-13112007#comment-242986

I'm a little puzzled that the bowdlerized Solidarity translation gets ereader versions when the more accurate translation that's already here (complete with the excellent photograph of the author rocking the Otto Preminger look)
http://libcom.org/library/on-the-content-of-socialism-ii-socialisme-ou-barbarie
languishes in html.

(I'm also a little sorry for pointing it out, but the epub version seems to have retained the contents page links as absolute references to the website this was originally on).

syndicalist
Aug 23 2013 15:09

Interesting inside perspectives...... from an outsider, what i liked about the this (and Redefining Marxism) was that it allowed for those seeking a more libertarian path out of the authoritarian/statist left. Or certainly allowed for a discussion piece(s) about self-managment and workers councils.
So, all criticisms aside, the writing(s) were useful and somewhat enlightening.

Spikymike
Aug 24 2013 13:07

Thanks Lurden that is the article I was referring to - must have missed it before.

EdmontonWobbly
Aug 24 2013 16:24

Spikymike, could you provide some examples where Castoriadis advocates for a self managed capitalism? Granted it's been a few years but I just don't remember that being in there, I'm generally suspicious of blueprints for future revolutionary societies but I found this one to be pretty reasonable and plainly stated.

Spikymike
Aug 24 2013 17:16

EdmontonW,

Please look up the links provided above and see if that isn't proof enough. Of course he is proposing an idealised, unrealistic model, perhaps unrealiseable in practice, but non-the-less retaining essential elements of capitalism.

klas batalo
Jul 1 2017 04:13

FWIW it seems their formula is basically just riffing off of what Marx and later the GIKH wrote about labor-time accounting and certificates.