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workers' control

What if the workers were in control?

 

 

Members of the Lucas Aerospace Combine Committee on the steps of Wortley Hall, 1977

 

By Hilary Wainwright

 

December 3, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Pepper — Back in the 1970s, with unemployment rising and British industry contracting, workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace came up with a pioneering plan to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills. The ‘Lucas Plan’ remains one of the most radical and forward thinking attempts ever made by workers to take the steering wheel and directly drive the direction of change.

 

Contemporary crisis and workers control

 

 

This chapter is taken from An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy, edited by Dario Azzellini and published by Zed Books. For more of Azzellini’s writings visit his website

 

By Dario Azzellini

 

July 31, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- During the first decade of the current century factory occupations and production under workers’ control seemed to be limited mainly to South America, with a few exceptions in Asia. It was beyond the imagination of most workers and scholars in industrialized countries that workers would or could occupy their companies and run them on their own. Nevertheless, the crisis that started in 2008 put workers’ control back on the agenda in the northern hemisphere. Occupations of workplaces and production under control of workers sprang up in the United States, Western Europe and Egypt. This chapter describes some of these struggles and their common characteristics and differences.

John Riddell: Socialist planning and the bureaucratic economy

Che Guevara.

Click for more by or about John Riddell.

By John Riddell

May 17, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The following previously unpublished position paper, pulled from my archives, was written in 1992. I am posting it in conjunction with my review of Michael Lebowitz’s Contradictions of "Real Socialism". My comments raised many of the themes found in Lebowitz’s writings of that time, of which I was then quite unaware. My approach, however, gives more emphasis to the problem of economic allocation and the role of non-capitalist markets.

Discussion: How do we rule? Direct and representative democracy and revolutionary power

A meeting of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies, April 1917.

By Doug Enaa Greene

January 14, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – I want to begin by stating that I am a firm and unapologetic advocate of the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat [to replace the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie we presently suffer under]. To deny the necessity of that dictatorship is to leave power in the hands of those who wield it – the exploiting capitalist class. And without the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, you cannot lay the foundations of a society that provides for human needs and allows for the full development of human potential.

Hope in Bosnia-Herzegovina revolt; Graphic new doco on wave of people's power

Documentary: Bosnia and Herzegovina in Spring, March 2014.

By Charles Reeve

April 2, 2014 -- Brooklyn Rail -- The perspective of yet one more nationalist clash at the gates of Europe, in Ukraine, doesn’t seem to displease the world’s masters and those who write for them.

Things are going differently, at least until now, with the revolt gripping Bosnia-Herzegovina. This movement began in the first week of February with workers’ demonstrations against the consequences of privatisation and an increase in unemployment. These demonstrations took place in Mostar and especially in Tuzla, an industrial city with a long tradition of struggle dating from the “socialist” era. Tuzla was also one of the rare places where the nationalist madness had little following, even in the worst moments of the war of the 1990s.

Michael Lebowitz: A path to socialism -- building upon the foundations began by Hugo Chavez

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

By Michael Lebowitz

March 2014 -- Monthly Review -- It is now one year since the unfortunate death of Hugo Chávez on March 5, 2013. Shortly after, the editors of Monthly Review quoted a letter from István Mészáros to John Bellamy Foster which described Chávez as “one of the greatest historical figures of our time” and “a deeply insightful revolutionary intellect” (“Notes from the Editors” in the May 2013 Monthly Review). Whether Chávez will be remembered over time this way, however, depends significantly on whether we build upon the foundations he began.

Å bygge sosialisme for det tjueførste hundreåret: intervju med Michael A Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3355.]

Michael A Lebowitz intervjua av Darko Vesić og Aleksandar Stojanović.

– Kapitalismen har vore i krise i mange år no, og dei kapitalistiske statane svarer på krisa med såkalla innstrammingstiltak. Ser me på dynamikken til kapitalismen dei seinaste femti åra, så var svaret på krisa på 1970-tallet det som no er kalla «nyliberalismen». Om ny vekst er svaret på krisa, kan me seie at nyliberalismen på 70-tallet hadde suksess. Men gjeld det same dagens «innstrammingstiltak»?

- Eg trur me må sjå på somme av premissa i spørsmålet. For det første meiner ikkje alle marxistar at kapitalismen som eit heile er i krise, i motsetning til kapitalismen i spesielle område. For det andre, om kapitalismen er i total eller partiell krise, kva er årsaka?

Venezuela: Workers' control congress: 'neither capitalists nor bureaucrats, all power to the working class'

Publicity for the congress, which declares: “neither capitalists nor bureaucrats, all power to the working class”.

By Ewan Robertson, Mérida

June 24, 2013 -- Venezuelanalysis.com – Activists from across the Venezuelan labour movement met June 21-23, 2013, for the country’s first ever "workers’ congress", where workers discussed workplace democracy and the construction of socialism.

Building socialism for the 21st century: interview with Michael A. Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

Michael A. Lebowitz interviewed by Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović

May 7, 2013 -- Left East,suggested to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Michael Lebowitz.

Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović: Capitalism has been in crisis for several years now and in response to this crisis the capitalist states practice  so-called austerity measures. If we look at the historical dynamics of capitalism in the last half century, we see that they responded to the crisis of the 1970s with what is now called “neoliberalism”. If the restoration of growth is what must be carried out as a response to the crisis, we can say that neoliberalism of the 1970s was successful. Yet, can we say same of present-day “austerity measures”?

Britain: The 1970s and the movement for workers’ control

[Click for more discussion of workers' control, cooperatives and "green jobs".]

By Andrew Coates

Trade unions have historically bargained for better terms for the sale of labour power; they have not been able to challenge the existence of the labour market itself. Today, however, the relation between "political" and "economic" struggle have changed.” -- Perry Anderson. "The Limits and Possibilities", in The Incompatibles: Trade Union Militancy and the Consensus,1967.

Mexico: Can worker-owners make a big factory run?

Two workers of the 1000-member TRADOC cooperative. The hiring of women in the plant was one of the many gains of worker ownership. Photo by Bob Briggs.

By Jane Slaughter

April 3, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- A tyre is not just a piece of rubber with a hole in it. I learned this when I visited the workers’ cooperative that makes Cooper tyres in El Salto, Mexico. A tyre is a sophisticated product that comes about through a chain of chemical processes, lots of machine pounding, and still the intervention of human hands.

A fervent inspection worker pointed out that every single tyre is tested under road-like conditions, “If not, it could kill people”, he noted. And, he added practically, “keeping the tyres safe saves our jobs”.

Marta Harnecker: 'Chavez's legacy: with the people, building a socialist alternative to capitalism'

Thousands turn out in Caracas to remember Chavez.

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Yoshie Furuhashi for MRZine

March 6, 2013 -- La Segunda -- When Hugo Chávez triumphed in the 1998 presidential elections, the neoliberal capitalist model was already floundering. The choice then was whether to re-establish the neoliberal capitalist model -- clearly with some changes including greater concern for social issues, but still motivated by the same logic of profit seeking -- or to go ahead and try to build another model.

Grassroots interviews from Venezuela: Developing the power of the community

Ana Marin talks about her revolutionary activity.

October 21, 2012 -- The British Revolutionary Communist Group, publishers of the newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, sent a delegation to Venezuela to cover the October 7, 2012, presidential election. The following interviews, published at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission, were conducted in the lead-up and the aftermath of the poll. More interviews and articles can be found at the delegation's website. The delegation collaborated with the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network brigade that was visiting Venezuela at the same time.

* * *

Ana Marin interviewed by Sam McGill

Richard Seymour: Venezuela in the 21st century

With the announcement of Hugo Chavez’s reelection as president by 55% of the Venezuelan electorate, spontaneous crowds across the country gathered to celebrate the victory. More photos at http://venezuelanalysis.com/image.

By Richard Seymour

October 8, 2012 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Richard Seymour's permission -- Chavez lives. He has survived cancer, thus far, and will most likely survive the presidential election with a comfortable majority (update: yep). And what if he did not? Would not Venezuela still have a popular mass socialist party, a thriving democracy, an expanding union movement, a politically emasculated ruling class, a greatly enhanced welfare state which incorporates elements of grassroots participation, and probably one of the few societies in the world today where it's almost impossible to impose a vicious austerity project? Jealous much?

Marta Harnecker: Conquering a new popular hegemony

"In recent years, and in increasingly more countries, growing multitudes have rebelled against the existing order and without a defined leadership have taken over plazas, streets, highways, towns, parliament, but, despite having mobilized hundreds of thousands of people, neither the magnitude of its size nor its combativeness have enabled these multitudes to go beyond simple popular revolts. They have brought down presidents, but they have not been capable of conquering power in order to begin a process of deep social transformation." -- Marta Harnecker.

Read more by Marta HarneckerFor more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes

This article seeks to reflect on the issues raised during the roundtable discussion, “State, revolution and the construction of hegemony”, that occurred at the VI International Forum on Philosophy, held between November 28 and December 2, 2011, in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Logically, here I once again repeat some ideas that I have expressed in other writings, but have ordered them differently, while further refining some of them. It was written in July 2012 and first published in English at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

Revolutionary democracy in the economy? Venezuela’s workers' control movement

The workers at Grafitos del Orinico are proud of their collectively run factory. Photo by Ewan Robertson.

See also "Venezuela: Discussing the workers' control movement: An interview with 'Cayapa' radio show". For more discussion of workers' control, click HERE. For more on developments in Venezuela, click HERE. Ewan Robertson was a member of the  Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) solidarity brigade to Venezuela,  April 25 to May 5, 2011.

By Ewan Robertson

August 3, 2012 -- Venezuelanalysis -- Walking into the plush corporate style boardroom, I greeted workers from the Grafitos del Orinoco factory before sitting down to conduct the interview. On the white board next to the door, the latest decision of the workers’ factory assembly was still in evidence: whether to pay themselves an end of year bonus. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the workers had reached an almost unanimous consensus, with only one of the factory's fifty-five workers not in favour.

Cuba's coming co-operative economy?

Havana billboard: “We are working – and you?”

By Marcelo Vieta

July 18, 2012 -- The Bullet -- In 2011, I made two trips to Cuba to study the new co-operatives. In June I was kindly invited by Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, a professor at the University of Havana and one of the country's leading experts on its co-operative movement, to participate in two conferences. In December, Wendy Holm (Canadian agronomist and co-operative facilitator working in Cuba for the last dozen years) extended an invitation to participate in the “Walking the Walk: Cuba's path to a more co-operative and sustainable economy” workshops, again in Havana. Both trips had international guests share experiences and knowledge of the co-operative organisational model with our Cuban hosts. The backdrop was, on both occasions, the recently proposed economic reforms coming out of los nuevos lineamientos (the new guidelines) of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, completed and released on April 18, 2011.

One million climate jobs now! The video

May 4, 2012 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group  is organising a Climate Jobs Caravan in England and Scotland in May 2012.

Based on the Million Climate Jobs report, produced with the assistance of Public and Commercial Services Union, the University and College Union, the Communication Workers Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, the caravan will highlight how creating climate jobs can help tackle the twin crises of the ecomony and climate change.

This inspiring video sets out the caravan’s message. The full 33-minute version, along with eight other videos about the struggle for justice, can be purchased on a DVD from Reel News.

You can read the One Million Climate Jobs pamphlet HERE.

Complexities of constructing the socialist alternative

[For more articles by and about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

By Steve Ellner

April 2012 – Science & Society, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Michael Lebowitz has drawn on the diverse experiences that led to the failure of socialism in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and elsewhere, and those in Venezuela where he has resided for nearly a decade, to bolster his thesis on the need to place the transformation of values at the centre of socialist construction.

Anniversary of the 1937 US sit-down strike wave: Remembering another Occupy movement

Sit-in strikers at General Motors' Fisher No. 1 plant.

By Don Fitz

[See also With Babies & Banners, the classic 1977 documentary about the 1936-37 Flint sit-down strike, and the role of women in it.]

January 3, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The year 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the great sit-down strike wave of 1937. It also begins the second year of the Occupy movement, which has more than a few similarities to the time when hundreds of thousands of Americans occupied their workplaces.

The first recorded sit-down strike in the US was actually in 1906 among General Electric workers of Schenectady, New York. When three organisers for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) were fired, 3000 of their fellow workers sat down and stopped production.

By the 1930s, the IWW was on the wane, but many of its organisers were active and workers across the US had seen its tactics first hand.

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