Crowdfunding the publication of new Pannekoek works

 Anton Pannekoek

The Working Class History project has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of an important new set of works by Anton Pannekoek.

Submitted by Working Class … on August 29, 2023

We need your help publishing The Workers’ Way to Freedom and Other Council Communist Writings, by Anton Pannekoek, edited by Robyn K. Winters. This is a compilation of important works, most of which have never been published before in this format. At a time when workers around the world are standing up and fighting back, it has never been more important to look back at those who came before us, and learn from their experiences. This book clearly lays out the ideas of one of the key theoreticians of council communism—a Marxist theory which, rather than taking over state power, emphasizes working-class self-emancipation through workers’ councils.
The Workers’ Way to Freedom is an extensive text by Pannekoek laying out the fundamentals of council communism, written in around 1935, never previously published in its entirety. It has been lovingly transcribed from the original handwritten source material by Working Class History contributor Robyn K. Winters.

Also included in the work are a curated assortment of essays, articles and letters which highlight other aspects of Pannekoek's ideas, which resonate with issues the working class faces today, and provoke discussion and debate. Some of these texts had been previously published online, but most of them included errors and edits. In this compendium, these works have been typed up from archival sources and original materials over a three-year period by Winters on their commutes to work, and in fragments of time they could grab from their employer while working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Comments

adri

9 months ago

Submitted by adri on August 29, 2023

It's just an edited anthology of English texts by Pannekoek? Why not just upload or type out Pannekoek's works here for free...? I'm guessing most of the texts are transcribed from the Association Archives Antonie Pannekoek? Is this not the manuscript for The Workers' Way to Freedom right here (Map 255, in 4 pdfs)?

adri

9 months ago

Submitted by adri on August 29, 2023

At a time when workers around the world are standing up and fighting back, it has never been more important to look back at those who came before us, and learn from their experiences.

If it's so urgently important, then why not make it freely available? Part of the reason for digitizing sources in the first place is to help empower non-academics who don't have the credentials or permission to visit physical archives. You turn the idea of free-access on its head by taking those same sources and throwing them behind a $25 paywall. It would be slightly different if the book were an original work, but it seems to just be a collection of writings taken and transcribed from the Pannekoek Archive. I don't see why that content could not have instead been made freely available on here or elsewhere (someone had even mentioned the Pannekoek Archive in the archiving to-do list thread...). Demanding such a price because you had to go through the trouble of typing the texts out and editing them is just laughable, especially considering how I and others do this sort of stuff for free... what fools we are!

I also wouldn't mind reading Pannekoek's manuscript (i.e. The Workers' Way to Freedom); maybe someone could type out the 4 English-language pdfs (Map 255) and post them on here. Just looking at the manuscript though, it is a bit rough in some places. According to the Archive, it also appears that some of the chapters in the manuscript were reworked by Pannekoek as articles for the International Council Correspondence (published by the United Worker's Party/Council Communists group in the U.S.), which are already freely available.

Submitted by Craftwork on August 30, 2023

adri wrote: It's just an edited anthology of English texts by Pannekoek? Why not just upload or type out Pannekoek's works here for free...? I'm guessing most of the texts are transcribed from the Association Archives Antonie Pannekoek? Is this not the manuscript for The Workers' Way to Freedom right here (Map 255, in 4 pdfs)?

Some people might prefer reading physical books rather than on screens, especially if the books are well designed.

adri

9 months ago

Submitted by adri on August 30, 2023

Some people might prefer reading physical books rather than on screens, especially if the books are well designed.

My issue is more that they're trying to sell their transcriptions exclusively as a book rather than providing free digital copies. All the editor did was type out some English-language texts from the Pannekoek Archive. They chose to make a book out of it rather than making those transcriptions freely available.

In any case, I have a feeling that the manuscript of Pannekoek's The Workers' Way to Freedom will end up on here eventually, that is, if distributing digital copies of the transcription doesn't violate the publisher's/editor's copyrights. The crowdfunding page mentions a pdf version of the book, so I'm curious whether the pdfs will have some form of DRM protection on them. If the editor doesn't want to release the transcription, then someone could always just type out the manuscript themselves. I could also be wrong, but the manuscript actually looks more like an early draft rather than a final polished version that Pannekoek had ready for publication. It seems like any transcription would involve quite a bit of guessing or intervention on the editor's part. I doubt it would take "3 years of back-breaking typing" though, which seems more like a sales gimmick.

Submitted by Working Class … on August 31, 2023

If it's so urgently important, then why not make it freely available?

Really don't understand people like this. Someone came to us wanting to get this published, and we think it's important, as did PM Press, so we thought we would work together to publish it.
We can't steal somebody else's work from them, then make it freely available. But everything we and PM publish is also available freely in libraries, including online libraries.

You turn the idea of free-access on its head by taking those same sources and throwing them behind a $25 paywall.

Again, don't understand this. We aren't putting anything behind a $25 paywall. This work would not be being published. As you say, you confine various handwritten manuscripts online and in different archives.
However, if you want to make a physical book, that has to be physically printed, by people who have to pay rent and bills. The e-book version is only $9, and the paperback book is only $22. So you are making up the $25. And as we said, you can always get it in a library.

It would be slightly different if the book were an original work, but it seems to just be a collection of writings taken and transcribed from the Pannekoek Archive.

Pannekoek is dead, so it's difficult to get him to write new original work I'm afraid.

I don't see why that content could not have instead been made freely available on here or elsewhere (someone had even mentioned the Pannekoek Archive in the archiving to-do list thread...). Demanding such a price because you had to go through the trouble of typing the texts out and editing them is just laughable, especially considering how I and others do this sort of stuff for free... what fools we are!

Er, we have literally produced thousands of pages of content completely for free. Not to mention dozens of hours of audio and video content, also for free. The person who did the years of work transcribing all of these texts, also does huge amounts of work for free to put important works in the public domain, and you can see they have even been contributing new texts for free recently: https://libcom.org/tags/anton-pannekoek

It seems like any transcription would involve quite a bit of guessing or intervention on the editor's part. I doubt it would take "3 years of back-breaking typing" though, which seems more like a sales gimmick.

Again, I don't know why you are choosing to make things up here? Nobody said anything about "backbreaking typing". We said, completely truthfully, that the editor spent three years of their spare time, transcribing the contents of this book. You may well think that you are entitled to 3 years of somebody's work for free, but that doesn't mean they have to do it, and it doesn't mean we can steal it from them.
As you say:

I also wouldn't mind reading Pannekoek's manuscript (i.e. The Workers' Way to Freedom); maybe someone could type out the 4 English-language pdfs (Map 255) and post them on here. Just looking at the manuscript though, it is a bit rough in some places.

Yes, it is pretty rough. And as we said, that is why the editors spent years working on it, and in addition spending many hours with handwritten and original archival materials, getting used to Pannekoek's handwriting in English, Dutch, and German, and all the idiosyncrasies of his writing style. They also noticed that many online versions of these texts contain errors, which are fixed in this edition.
If you don't want to support publication of this book, don't. And if you don't want to get it out of a library for free, then don't. And if you think it will be super easy to transcribe hundreds of pages of 80-year-old hand written materials, and won't take three years, then you are very welcome to go do that yourself, get permission from the copyright holder, and post it all up on libcom!
In the meantime, we still think producing a book is a great idea, because lots more people will find and read this book, than will stumble across a random online article, amongst thousands of others.

nastyned

8 months 4 weeks ago

Submitted by nastyned on August 31, 2023

Blimey, things have changed since the Bash The Fash pamphlet came out!

adri

8 months 4 weeks ago

Submitted by adri on August 31, 2023

Really don't understand people like this. Someone came to us wanting to get this published, and we think it's important, as did PM Press, so we thought we would work together to publish it.

Yeah whatever, "WCH." It's self-promotion as far as I'm concerned—someone just wanted their name on a book to help further their communist career. The editor could have made the transcriptions freely available if they truly believed in the importance of the writings, and not simply the importance of people buying their book.

And if you think it will be super easy to transcribe hundreds of pages of 80-year-old hand written materials, and won't take three years, then you are very welcome to go do that yourself, get permission from the copyright holder, and post it all up on libcom!

The 4 English-language pdfs of The Workers' Way to Freedom (totaling around 131 pages) would take maybe 3 or 4 months, depending on how much one works at it. For the writings that are already available online, the editor could have simply copied those texts and adjusted them according to the archival sources. The editor also likely received assistance when transcribing The Workers' Way to Freedom from the fact that large portions of it were reworked by Pannekoek as articles for the International Council Correspondence. I haven't seen the actual book, but 3 years seems quite excessive, especially for just typing out English texts. If you're wanting to sell it as a book, however, then it naturally helps to portray it as an enormous and time-consuming undertaking, regardless of whether that was actually the case or whether the editor was simply taking their time.

Don't worry though, it seems like the crowdfunding page is on track to reach the $6000 prize—for the "grueling 3 years" of typing out English texts from the Pannekoek Archive (and possibly copying other texts from online).

However, if you want to make a physical book, that has to be physically printed, by people who have to pay rent and bills. The e-book version is only $9, and the paperback book is only $22. So you are making up the $25. And as we said, you can always get it in a library.

You're right. It wasn't $25 for the print book. It was $24.95. Gotta love "communists" who engage in marketing techniques like this (i.e. making something appear cheaper than it actually is).

As I also already mentioned, I don't have any problems with physical books; I just think it's shameful that someone would try selling their transcriptions as a book rather than making that content freely available on here or elsewhere. If I'm not mistaken, that's also sort of what this site is about, and as I said, someone had even mentioned the Pannekoek Archive in the archiving to-do list thread.

Anyway, the editor will likely end up posting the book/transcriptions on here eventually, so this is all sort of a waste of time.

adri

8 months 4 weeks ago

Submitted by adri on September 1, 2023

We can't steal somebody else's work from them, then make it freely available.

You may well think that you are entitled to 3 years of somebody's work for free, but that doesn't mean they have to do it, and it doesn't mean we can steal it from them.

Oh yes, and this is fairly rich coming from the owners of a site that literally hosts thousands of stolen/liberated texts! Of course the copyrights holders can always request to have their works taken down, but WCH/libcom/you really have no room to speak when it comes to "respecting the works of others."

Juan Conatz

8 months 4 weeks ago

Submitted by Juan Conatz on September 1, 2023

Good to see a book out of this. There's only so much I can read online or in a PDF.

robynkwinters

8 months 3 weeks ago

Submitted by robynkwinters on September 3, 2023

Would a signed copy make you any less sour, adri? <3

Submitted by Anthony_Pancakes on September 3, 2023

adri wrote: It's just an edited anthology of English texts by Pannekoek? Why not just upload or type out Pannekoek's works here for free...? I'm guessing most of the texts are transcribed from the Association Archives Antonie Pannekoek? Is this not the manuscript for The Workers' Way to Freedom right here (Map 255, in 4 pdfs)?

I'll try my hand at transcribing some of The Worker's Way to Freedom if it'll make you happy.

adri

8 months 3 weeks ago

Submitted by adri on September 6, 2023

Would a signed copy make you any less sour, adri? <3

Can I scan it though? Unfortunately I just have a sheet-fed scanner, so I'd have to destroy it in the process of liberating it. I don't really care for Bakunin, but I believe this is what he was referring to when he wrote,

Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternally creative source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too.