A brief overview of the core principles of some of the major working class movements of the last two hundred years, emphasizing their different historical and social contexts as well as the features they had in common, with lapidary critiques of the failures and shortcomings of each tendency when its hour arrived (revolutionary syndicalism, France: August 1914; Workers Councils, Russia: 1917-1921, Kronstadt; Factory Councils, Italy: March 1921, Turin; anarchosyndicalism and anarchism, Spain: 1936-1939, government collaboration), but reaffirming that “there is one aspect of anarchism that remains untarnished, the rejection of authority, of politics and of the State”.
In this essay first published in 1930 in France, the founder of the Workers Group denounces the bureaucracy that he claims seized power in a “coup d’état” in 1920 at the Ninth Congress of the CPSU(b)—its “latest deception” being its fraudulent appeals for “freedom of criticism” and “self-criticism” after a series of revolts by workers and peasants in the early to mid-1920s—and calls for a restoration of proletarian democracy (as exemplified by the Paris Commune) by democratizing the functions exercised by bureaucratic State institutions (production, distribution, oversight) and replacing them with Soviets (“Councils”), cooperatives and trade unions.
Council communism: political-economic transformation and initial revolutionary measures – Philippe Bourrinet
A brief introduction to the history and some important theoretical contributions of council communism, including a discussion of the Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution, Pannekoek’s Workers Councils, and Paul Mattick’s views on the issue of labor-time accounting, and some comments on the continuing relevance of council communism.
In this essay written in 1920, the Bolshevik left communist Gabriel Miasnikov examines the limitations of the Russian trade unions in the context of what he perceived to be the economic and political supremacy of the soviet institutions, but concludes that the trade unions must be preserved for purposes of domestic public relations (due to the habits of the Russian workers) and international propaganda (due to the predominant concepts concerning revolution outside of Russia where soviet-type institutions do not exist or are quickly destroyed and revolution is conceived as a trade union affair) and therefore they must be given something to do to keep them busy.
Gilles Dauvé on information, ideology and self-management.
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.
An essay on the Soviets published in 1932 by the co-founder of the Spanish POUM, sympathetic to Lenin and critical of the “profound errors committed, after the death of Lenin, by the leadership of the Communist Party”, that characterizes the Soviets as “a system of government that is infinitely more democratic than the freest bourgeois republic”.
This definitive documentary history collects manifestos, speeches, articles, and letters from the German Revolution—Rosa Luxemburg, the Revolutionary Stewards, and Gustav Landauer amongst others—introduced and annotated by the editor. Many documents, such as the anarchist Erich Mühsam's comprehensive account of the Bavarian Council Republic, are presented here in English for the first time. The volume also includes materials from the Red Ruhr Army that repelled the reactionary Kapp Putsch in 1920 and the communist bandits that roamed Eastern Germany until 1921.