Workers’ Councils Democracy, not Parliamentary

This is the Brisbane Self-Management Group’s manifesto. The SMG was the biggest libertarian socialist (including anarchist) group in Australasia in the 1970s, with possibly as many as 200 members. Possibly it was the largest non-Leninist revolutionary socialist group in Australasian history since the demise of the IWW, as far as I know, as most libertarian socialist or communist groups in Australasia have contained, or do contain, less than a dozen people! And by communist I don’t mean Leninist. I believe this is the first time their manifesto has been published on the interwebs.

The SMG were councilists. You can see how they took the famous councilist manifesto of the Solidarity (UK) group ‘As we see it‘ and added a few points of their own. I think the SMG shared the problems of councilism, such as their belief that the primary division in society was between order-takers and order-givers (rather than the capitalist and working class), their fetishisation of decision-making form over communist content, and their retention of the market and wage-system which would most probably lead to inequality if not class conflict. Yet there is still much to learn from the SMG, such as their stress on self-activity from below. I have a soft spot for workers’ councils, so I enjoyed learning about this little-known group (little-known for today’s generation of anti-state communists, anyway). Importantly, the SMG wasn’t a theoretical group, but had many workplace and community ‘cells’ which had some influence in various disputes. You can read a member of the SMG’s criticism of anarchism here.

A note on the formatting: the text contained a number of boxes about various uprisings which are supposed to show workers’ self-management and workers’ councils in practice. They are interspersed throughout the text. Thanks to Tim from Australia for sending the manifesto to me.

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The most important aspect of any society is the way the decision-making process is organised. Humanity is at base social, creative and productive. We enter into social relationships to satisfy our creative and social needs. We enter into certain social relationships to produce goods and services to satisfy our basic physical needs. But the way these social relationships in production are structured can prevent the satisfaction of certain of the creative arid social needs. This is because so far, most people have been prepared to accept a hierarchical structuring of these relationships. This has fed to the growth of a small ruling elite, which makes all of the most important decisions about what to produce and how to produce in order to maintain its power. The elite is able to persuade people that it should have the maximum benefit of the workers’ productivity.

We live in such a hierarchical society in Australia like workers in every country in the world. Most of us accept our positions in the factories, offices and educational institutions as order-takers. We accept that the decisions about what we produce and how we produce it should be left up to the individual boss or group of bosses that make up the national or international corporations. Here at the point of production is where real political power rests. Here is where productive labour (work) is socially organised and controlled by the ruling class. We believe that it should be controlled not by a ruling class, but by all the people who do the work.

We are told that the most im­portant decisions about the development of society are un­der our control through parliament. Originally only the rich were allowed representation in parliament. It took a struggle by the people to wrench this power from the rulers and win a vote for all men. It took a further struggle to include women. Throughout this period the ruling class resisted. They granted reforms in the hope of providing sure ground for resisting further reforms. But an increasing body of rulers realised that giving the vote to the people would not challenge the structure of society but confirm and strengthen it by winning the consent of the majority to their own oppression. No amount of parliamentary representation would change the reality that the owners and controllers of production (businessmen and financiers) determined the whole content and direction of the growth of society and controlled the details of everyone’s day to day existence in the fields, factories and workshops. Those people on the left who opposed the state had been saying exactly this. However, the social democratic parties and unions willingly worked within this reality and therefore could not challenge it. In fact they strengthened hierarchical society by providing the myth of an alternative through which workers identified with the system.

Increasingly in this century we have seen parliament providing more co-ordination and direction in society. Has this increased the voters’ control over their lives? In fact we have seen the growth of large government bureaucracies with the result that even more areas of our lives are regimented and interfered with. We have no control over the activities of such bureaucracies. Despite this increased government control there has been no decrease in the power of the corporation bosses. Parliament is not the centre of political power. As before, it is inside the corporations that policies are decided and where effective power lies, if the bosses find that parliament is not useful to them they will bypass it. So in both areas our powerlessness has worsened.

The presence in parliament of social democratic parties such as the ALP [Australian Labor Party], even in government, is not enough to stimulate the workers to identify with the system more, and therefore produce more goods to increase the capitalists’ profits. The bosses, including the professional parliamentary bosses of the ALP, have seen it is necessary to attempt some reform at the point of production to win working class support and not resistance. For this end social democratic (ALP) and liberal capitalistic regimes (e.g. The Australia Party) throughout the world are encouraging reform in the social relations of production. They are encouraging bosses and workers to institute reforms providing they do not take up the crucial question — whether there should be a ruling class at all.

THE SELF-MANAGEMENT GROUP POLITICAL PROGRAMME

WORKERS’ COUNCILS

Throughout history some workers have tried to fight this hierarchy based on the bosses’ rule at the point of production. To do this they have built autonomous workers’ councils in order to make decisions about what to produce and how to produce it. As well, they have had to defend this system of decision-making against the murderous fury of the ruling elite, because such a system would mean the elite’s complete redundancy. The workers’ council or grouping of all workers in different enterprises has been the most co-operative instrument for the expression of the skills, intellectual and physical, of the working class. The most important examples have been in Russia in 1917 and 1921 against the Bolsheviks at Kronstadt, Spain 1936-7 during the resistance in WW2 and Hungary 1956 and France 1968.

The assembly of all the workers at the relevant point of production is the basis of a real democracy. To co-ordinate local, regional or international production and distribution or other political problems they simply select delegates with specific instructions from the assembly. These are not the equivalent of the professional politicians selected in a parliamentary democracy. Delegates will receive the same wages as everyone else. They will return to the job after problems are solved and decisions are taken. Delegates’ positions will not be allowed to constantly fall into the same hands but will be circulated. If they do not follow the instructions of the assembly the delegate are simply recalled by an assembly meeting of the workers who sent them there. In parliamentary democracy there is no possibility of recalling a professional parliamentary politician. There is no political organisation to perform that function. Delegates cannot abuse their power as long as people do not want them to.

The general assemblies, not the delegates, will be the policy making bodies. The job of delegates will be merely to execute such policies, administer routine tasks and communicate the policy of the general assembly to other general assemblies or their delegates. In our society parliament makes policy without our participation but with our consent (the vote). The corporations make policy without our participation and without our consent. The government bureaucracies (the public service, the judicature) make policy without our participation and without our consent. The trade unions and student unions etc. make policy without our participation but with varying degrees of consent from none to some. In a self-managed democracy a self-managed democracy policy in all areas of work, education and community life would be made by the appropriate general assembly or general assemblies. National policy and the discussion and choice of alternative plans would be made by all general assemblies. After a vote (secret ballot if necessary) was taken by the assembly the decisions would be recorded and taken by the delegates to a federal assembly, a gathering of delegates from the federation of all workers’ councils. When policy direction is voted on, the pattern of voting figures will be indicated. The majority decision will become policy on every question. The minority has of course the effective power in the workers’ councils it controls or doesn’t control to agitate for a change in direction. Wrong decisions taken by the majority will no doubt strengthen their case for a victory in the next federal assembly.

The workers’ council will be responsible for the social organisation of most aspects of social life other than what are seen as personal relationships. Community councils will be necessary to organise the care of neighbourhoods. The power of such councils in relation to workers’ councils system will depend on various factors. Either as a legacy from the previous urban structure or through conscious choice, large numbers of workers may not live in the immediate environs of their work place. If so, their workers’ council will not be a sensible means of making decisions about their community when that community has to discuss investment, health and education facilities and so on. Also some people, even if only for periods, may be totally committed to domestic work. Thus some community councils may have voting power on national issues equal to

Hungary 1956

‘For years to come all important questions for revolutionaries will boil down to simple queries: Are you for or against the programme of the Hungarian revolution? Are you for or against workers’ management of production? Are you for or against the rule of the workers’ councils?

From the first day of the revolution, a truly working class movement had expressed itself in the spontaneous formation of councils all over Hungary. These councils, partially isolated by the Red Army, immediately sought to federate. By the end of the first week they had virtually established a Republic of Councils.

…Hungarian workers had instinctively grasped, although perhaps not explicitly proclaimed, that they must break completely with those traditional organisational forms which had for years entrapped both them and the working class of the West. This was their strength. New organs of struggle were created. The Workers’ Councils which embodied, in embryo, the new society they were seeking to achieve.’


that of workers’ councils. Such details can probably only be dealt with in the context of practice. Community councils may have a larger role then we have foreseen. As already mentioned decision-making for regions will be carried out by bodies representing all the workers’ councils of each region.

The workers’ councils will organise the military defense of the people and be the main instrument of social justice, with law based on the satisfaction of human needs and not their restriction by helping to maintain a ruling elite in the manner of present capitalist law.-

Councils will need to make links with councils in Industries which supply them with raw materials to regularize their relationships. They will also need to make similar links with factories they supply and with distribution centres. Such links will be routine matters requiring little discussion by the assembly but administered by special delegates under the right of recall.

In capitalist society many of us are engaged in work that is essentially unproductive. Most of the paper shuffling in the public service, insurance industries, etc. would be redundant in a rational society. A vast number of people would be freed for more productive and interesting areas of work. It is highly likely in such a situation that society could shorten working hours for such purposes as discussion, leisure and education.

It should be clear that we see workers’ councils as the democratic bodies for all workplaces — education, health, agriculture not just secondary industry. We see all types of workers taking part in these councils and the day to day co­operation of work on an equal basis. Every factory must have its technicians, every construction site its engineers, every education facility its experts in various spheres. However in a workers’ council expertise would not mean power over others but would place a demand on the expert to co-operate. Such co-operation has occurred. In France in 1968 in every type of job (educational, office, industrial, farming, technical, professional and even footballers) large sections of the workers demanded control of their work and often co-operated in the struggle. (Ten million workers and many university and high school students were on strike.)

The most essential nature of these councils will be that they organise political power where it really exists: at the point of production, we suggest then that workers begin to organize these councils rather than participate in parliamentary elections. While there is relevance in voting for the most reformist or democratic ruling class party during the elections, simply to give political space to build these councils free of immediate fascist and reactionary oppression, we should not accept that these reformist, capitalist regimes will tolerate the workers’ councils when they threaten them. Workers should regard elections as tactical situations of limited significance. The most significant activity is not to man the polling booths for the ALP but to build cells and workers’ councils at our places of work.

Workers self management and the social revolution in Spain

Workers’ control is a concept that is currently becoming popular among Western sociologists and industrial managers as well as social democratic union leaders. The concept is referred to by such terms as “participation,” “democratization,” and “co-determination.” For those whose function it is solve the new problems of boredom and alienation in the workplace in advanced industrial capitalism, workers’ control is seen as a hopeful solution, a solution in which workers are given a modicum of influence, a strictly limited area of decision-making power, a voice — at best secondary — in the control of conditions of the work place. Workers’ control, in a limited form sanctioned by the capitalists, is held to be the answer to the growing non-economic demands of the workers.

Workers’ self-management, the exercise of workers’ power through collectivization and federation as in the social revolution in Spain, is very different. Self-management is not a new form of mediation between the workers and their capitalist bosses, but instead refers to the very process by which the workers themselves overthrow their managers and take on their own management and the management of production, in their own workplace. Self-management means the organisation of all workers in the workplace into a workers’ council or factory committee (or agricultural collective), which makes all the decisions formerly made by the owners and managers.

In Spain the social revolution did not meet with complete success: the revolution was often stopped short of full workers’ self-management. But the ideal, the goal toward which the workers were striving, was clear enough.

Wow! A tram under workers’ self-management, Barcelona, 1936

EQUAL DECISION-MAKING

In these workers’ councils every person will have one vote subject to the following elastic restrictions; people who are intellectually or psychologically handicapped will have the option of a vote, depending on their condition. Children who, from the experience of parents or workers’ councils where they are involved can comprehend and effectively make political decisions will have a vote. The involvement of young people will depend on their involvement in productive social activity. We expect that the age of responsible participation will be much younger than it is today. Such responsibility in a situation of increased integration will help young people mature. People who commit anti-humanist activity will not be penalised by taking away the vote from them as happens in some cases in parliamentary democracy. Every effort will be made to include them in co-operative and responsible activity.

Each person will have one vote, as outlined irrespective of race, sex or religious orientation. Although this is the avowed intention in a parliamentary democracy as well, women and racial minorities are effectively victimised because they do not have effective power at the point of production. They have usually less power than other workers. They are scapegoated usually because the workers who have no power find it easier, to irrationally suppress weaker workers rather than replace the system which oppresses them.

Horses, cows and land being non-human will not be entitled to a vote as they do as a result of some gerrymandered electoral systems such as the one in Queensland, it will not be acceptable that people will have the equivalent of two or more votes because they live in more remote parts of the country or have more important economic problems. Human beings are the basis of our society and they will each have one vote.

Writers, artists, small scale craftsmen, musicians, actors and so on will probably organise themselves into community centres from which they can establish their workers’ councils or take part in a local community council.

People will be enfranchised through the workers’ councils where they engage in creative labour. If people are not working at the time of the election they will still vote in their council assembly. Sick and old people will maintain this link to provide them with an effective basis for expression of their attitudes. It will be the responsibility of the council to see that everyone enrolled has a chance to vote. Voting will be a voluntary act.

EQUAL WAGES

The material wealth produced by the collective energies of the people will be divided equally. After finance needs for national policies, are decided an approximate figure will be arrived at which can be divided amongst the producers equally. This will be paid in the form of a money wage. In a world of finite natural resources each person should become the trustee of a certain agreed upon portion of these resources. The most efficient way of providing this to each person is to convert those resources to currency which then allows people choice within this framework. We find the market probably the most sensitive indicator of human requirements. There is nothing intrinsically anti-humanist or anti-social about these devices, they appear to have developed because of the need for social co-operation in a complex society. It is the capitalists who have distorted these essentially co-operative mechanisms. We do accept the necessity to totally underwrite, where possible, many essential services, so that exchange of currency will not be necessary. Medical care, most transport, public utilities fall into this category. The strength of such an equal wage system is that competitive activity between workers’ councils with the aim of making profits to increase their wages is prevented.

Every person who fits within the category of a voter in the preceding section will receive an equal wage. We particularly stress the need for the aged and sick to receive an equal wage, even if they are unable to engage in productive labour. In a capitalist society these people are written off as no longer useful to capitalist production and maintained on a pittance. Children who have voting rights will also receive the wage in order to give them the possibility of independence from their social unit: family, commune, etc. if they so desire it. In the case of infants or intellectually and psychologically handicapped people it will probably be a good policy if the principle of an equal wage applies to them. The money could be spent on behalf of the desires they express.

In capitalist society investment in housing or any support of home life, and leisure or payment of those chiefly working in this, area is considered wasteful. This domestic economy is upheld by the unpaid labour of women. In a self-managed society, when one or more members of a living unit needs to spend most of their time in such work they will not be penalized. They will receive a full wage (as mentioned before they will probably exercise their political power through community councils). If society is to be genuinely libertarian people must practise their politics in their personal lives. Therefore we would expect that such work would be shared equally between men and women.

We do believe that such a system at the point of production will not only release the psychological and social abilities of all human beings but will as well lead to a great rise in ordinary economic production. Our problem will be to rationally plan our resources in relation to our ecology. Because we expect more goods to be produced in a shorter time, because of social co-operation. Finally we will have to decide in an overpopulated world whether we intend even within that framework to take a drop in our standard of living in order to help other people care for their needs. We in the Self-Management Group believe that would be a moral imperative. We would encourage a drop in the standard of our living in order to provide food, clothing, medical supplies, technical aid, arms and if necessary volunteers to assist in every way the struggle of oppressed peoples for a self-managed revolution in their own countries.

FRANCE, 1968

“The movement of students and workers that suddenly emerged during the May events destroyed the widely-shared assumption that in a complex and modern society, with its many built-in safety valves, its abundance of consumer goods and increase in leisure time, a revolution is impossible. But the movement did not stop there. It also unveiled possible solutions to the problems of democracy, democratic control, and the purpose and meaning of work which plague all industrial societies. Hitherto these solutions have been discussed in the abstract; the May events put them to the test for the first time.”— Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1968.

CLASS UNITY NOT NATIONAL UNITY

For the last few hundred years the people who boss us about have managed to encourage us to accept ideas which maintain our oppression. The most mystifying idea they have used to maintain their power inside the society they control has been the idea of nationalism (Previously religion was the main ideological support to deny the existence of class.) Boss and workers, we are all supposed to have ethnic and geographical origin in common, whether we are born here or choose to identify by migrating. Bonds of blood and national boundary are insignificant in comparison with ideological ties. The most significant ties between human beings are their views about human needs and what type of decision-making process will best satisfy them. From having such a view on these questions they will develop their code of human conduct, their-morality.

What is most significant about people who have blood ties is that they are divided against each other on these questions. So that the Australians who believe that they should have power over other Australians by managing them at work have very little in common with the Australians they control.

In two horrible wars this century the ruling classes have managed to use national identities as a lever to get workers to kill each other. These wars have only, left the causes of imperialist wars alive, because they are caused by competition between the national ruling elites. The proper course for workers in 1914-18 and 1939-45 would have been to turn their own military power on their own ruling classes.

When the bosses call for workers to put their shoulders to the wheel for everyone’s sake, the nation’s sake, it means mainly for their sake, for the bosses’ privileged position. The call by the bosses and nationalist minded workers (or national unity is merely a call to try to mask the real differences that exist). The bosses are a class, more or less cohesive, because they use their collective social power to dominate the working class. The workers are a class, more or less cohesive, because they are defined as order-takers and recipients of lower wages. This is the most significant differentiation in social organisation in the world and not blood or geography.

We call upon the working class to free themselves and even their oppressors. The ruling class is made of up sick and restricted individuals with the perversion of controlling other people. We hope that workers will see that the true question involved is not national liberation but human liberation.

THE QUALITY OF LIFE

All these ideas are ours at the present time. We would be foolish to pretend that they could not change with further thought. Moreover, it will be a mass movement which will put libertarian ideas into practice. Drawing on the widest range of expertise and practical experience among the population such a movement will create forms and Innovations in ways we have not considered.

We have taken up the question of the essentials of democratic structures. Without these we believe a self-managed democracy cannot operate. However such changes would be illusory if those making them did not alter the quality of their whole life. As well as how to organise work they will need to make socially valuable products and do so without destroying the environment. They will need to decentralise cities. They will have to learn how to overcome attitudes of sexism and racism to be equal with their fellows. A broader cultural life will have to be created. Experiments with small group living relationships — nuclear families, extended families, communes, etc. — will be undertaken. In dealing chiefly with the structure of democracy we do not wish to give the impression that any of these matters are secondary. Nor do we wish to give the impression that they can only be worked on “after the revolution.” Such considerations will be part of the life blood of a self-management movement. In this broadsheet we are tackling the issue of democratic decision making.

AS WE SEE IT

(1) Throughout the world societies are characterised by a division between those without power (the working class) and a hierarchy of decision-makers (the ruling class). People take no part in the decisions which most deeply and directly affect their lives. All work and knowledge is disassociated from power to determine major social priorities and activities. On serious matters people surrender responsibilities to hierarchies. People never feel the power of co-operative control over their work and therefore lack confidence in their own ability. They believe in leadership even when the leaders repeatedly use the repressive machinery of the state to reinforce their privileged position.

(2) During the past century the living standards of working people improved. But neither these improved living standards, nor the nationalisation of the means of production, nor the coming of power of parties claiming to represent the working class, such as Marxist-Leninist or Social Democratic parties, have basically altered the status of the worker as worker. Nor have they given the bulk of mankind much freedom outside production. East and West, capitalism remains an inhuman type of society where the vast majority are bossed at work, and manipulated in consumption and leisure. Propaganda and policemen, prisons and schools, traditional morality all serve to reinforce the power of the few and convince or coerce the many into acceptance of a brutal, degrading and irrational system. The “Communist” world is not communist and the “Free” world is not free!

(3)     The trade unions and the traditional parties declared they would change all this. But they have come to terms with the existing patterns of exploitation. In fact they are now essential if exploiting society is to continue working smoothly. The unions act as middlemen in the labour market. The political parties use the struggles and aspirations of the working class for their own ends. The degeneration of the working class organisations, itself the result of the failure of the revolutionary movement, has been a major factor in creating working class apathy, which in turn led to the further degeneration of both parties and unions.

(4) The trade unions and political parties cannot be reformed, “captured,” or converted into instruments of working class emancipation. We don’t call however for the proclamation of new unions, which in the condition of today would suffer a similar fate to the old ones. Nor do we call for militants to tear up their union cards, if you are forced to have one by the union bureaucrats, who control the job. Our aims are simply that the workers themselves should decide on the objectives of their struggles and that the control and organisation of these struggles should remain firmly in their own hands. The forms which the self-activities of the working class may take will vary considerably, from country to country and from industry to industry. Its basic content will not.

(5)     Socialism is not just the common ownership and control of the means of production and distribution. It means equality, real freedom, reciprocal recognition and a radical transformation in all human relations. It is people’s positive self-consciousness. It is people’s understanding of their environment and of themselves, their domination over their work and over such social institutions as they may need to create. These are not secondary aspects, which will automatically follow the expropriation of the old ruling class. On the contrary they are essential parts of the whole process of social transformation, for without them no general social transformation will take place.

(6)     A socialist society therefore can only be built from below. Decisions concerning production and work will be taken by the workers’ councils composed of elected and revocable delegates. Decisions in other areas will be taken on the basis of the widest possible discussion and consultation among the people as a whole. This democratisation of society at its very roots is what we mean by “workers’ power.”

(7) “Meaningful action,” for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the egalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of people and whatever assists in their mystification. “Sterile and harmful action” is whatever reinforces the passivity of the people, the apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others — even those allegedly acting on their behalf.

(8) No ruling class in history has ever relinquished its power without a struggle and our present rulers are unlikely to be an exception. Power will only be taken from them through the conscious, autonomous action of the vast majority of people themselves. Those soldiers and police who are workers because they are given orders and paid low wages will find themselves in a particularly difficult situation when called upon by the bosses to suppress their fellow workers. We encourage soldiers and police who believe in our ideas to prepare resistance inside the police force and the armed forces. In a self-managed society those hierarchical organisations will dissolve and defence and social justice will be maintained by the workers’ councils. The building of socialism will require mass understanding and mass participation. We have confidence in the strength and efficiency of workers. This is our political strength. The boss and his executive are pathetic in relation to this combined human effort. More pitiful are the Bolsheviks and Social Democrats who try to represent workers and who think they are strong because they ape the bosses political and economic organisation with central executives, leaders and the whole hierarchical system.

(9) We do not accept the view that workers are only interested in material rewards. On the contrary, we believe that our conditions of life and our experience in production constantly drive us to adopt priorities and values and to find methods or organization which challenge the established order and established pattern of thought. These responses are implicitly socialist. On the other hand, workers are fragmented, dispossessed of the means of communication and the various sections are at different levels of awareness and consciousness. It is necessary that explicitly socialist ideas are fought for before people will break out of their atomization and hopelessness and face the task of organising their struggle autonomously and equally. This is the role of the revolutionary organisation. It is done by carrying out meaningful action which generalises the idea of self-management, supporting such action of others, and opposing useless action. The revolutionary organisation cannot abdicate criticism of sterile and harmful working class struggle, nor can it support the ruling classes of state capitalism in Russia and China or their embryos as represented in the national liberation fronts in the third world and in the marxist-leninist parties of the industrialised countries.

(10) The Self-Management Group is an organised movement of workers who are unified around the essential demand for workers’ councils as the basis of real democracy. In these councils people will have equal decision-making and be paid an equal wage. We do not see ourselves as yet another leadership, but merely as workers in socialist struggle in the institutions where we work. We do not reflect values of leadership internally. Our structure is based on equal decision-making and autonomy. As an individual member or as a minority, different political opinions on the best way to achieve these aims are able to be held and publicly articulated as the position of a minority as opposed to the majority. The function of this statement is to help all those who are in conflict with the present authoritarian social structure both in industry and in society at large, to generalise their experience, to make a total critique of their conditions and its causes, not just ones of their particular situation, and to build autonomous organisations which will develop the people’s revolutionary consciousness-necessary if society is to be totally transformed. We encourage you to join an organised struggle for these aims because isolated individual acts no matter how courageous or full of integrity are easily defeated by ruling class oppression. We have begun the initial resistance; and are trying to develop the solidarity and ability to defend ourselves from bosses’ blacklists and thuggery, but we will need a movement of all workers to achieve a self-managed society. A resistance movement must become a force capable of replacing exploiters with a real democracy based on workers’ councils.

KRONSTADT 1921

“A new slavery has taken root. The peasant has been transformed into a serf in the ‘Soviet’ economy. The worker is becoming a simple wage-worker in the State factories. The stratum of intellectual workers has been almost completely exterminated. Those who wanted to protest have been thrown into the jails of the Cheka. And those who continued to act were lined up against the wall. Russia In its entirety has been transformed into an immense prison.

The life of the citizen has become monotonous and banal, to the point of death, regulated according to the rules of the authorities. Instead of a life animated by free labour and the free development of the individual, an unprecedented and incredible slavery was born.

This has become insupportable. Revolutionary Kronstadt has been the first to break the chains and bars of the prison, it fights for the true Soviet Republic of the workers in which the producer himself will be the owner of the products of his labour and can dispose of them as he wishes”. —Revolutionary Kronstadt “News” MARCH, 1921, Members of the Kronstadt Council of Workers and Soldiers.

THE MAKHNO MOVEMENT, Ukraine

“How will obtain this liberation?” By overthrowing the coalition of monarchists, republicans, social democrats, communists and Bolsheviks. In its place we call for the free election of workers’ councils which will not rule by arbitrary laws because no true soviet system can be authoritarian. Ours is the purist form of socialism, anti-authoritarian and anti-government, it calls for the free organisation of the social life of the workers, independent of authority, a life in which each worker, in a free association with his brothers, can build his own happiness and well-being in accordance with the principals of solidarity, amity and equality .

What sort of soviet System do theMakhnovists want?

The workers themselves must choose their own councils (Soviets) to express the will and carry out the orders of these self-same workers. The Soviets will be executive organs of, and not authorities over, the workers. The land, the factories, the businesses, the mines, transports, etc. must belong to those who work in them!”

—Makhnovist Pamphlet, 1921

If you support this programme and wish to help convince people of the need for a self-managed society, and you want to do it through organised activity, information about Joining the Self-Management Group can be obtained from The Red and The Black Bookshop, Elizabeth Arcade, Brisbane; or Box 332, North Quay.

If you want more copies of this statement for distribution, or if you can arrange a meeting, for a discussion, of self-management please contact the S.M.G. through those addresses.

A SELF-MANAGED SOCIETY—MEANS EQUAL DECISION-MAKING.

—A Capitalist Society means bosses make the decisions, workers take orders (Russia and U.S.).

A SELF MANAGED SOCIETY—MEANS EQUAL WAGES.

—A Capitalist Society (e.g. Russia-State Capitalist; U. S. A.—-Corporation Capitalist) means unequal wages.

A SELF-MANAGED SOCIETY means a federation of workers’ councils—the people make decisions through DIRECT democracy. —A Corporation Capitalist Society means Parliamentary Democracy where the people are supposed to control democracy through their representatives. The real decisions are made in the boardrooms. A State Capitalist Society means cynical rule through a dictatorial party in the name of the working class.

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~ by vomitingdiamonds on 12/02/2011.

One Response to “Workers’ Councils Democracy, not Parliamentary”

  1. […] To understand the differences between us, so we can hopefully resolve them and begin fighting for a communist society together, it’ll best if we describe our group and what we stand for. [Also: see their manifesto]. […]

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