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workers' control

United States: 'With Babies & Banners' -- 75 years since the 44-day Flint sit-down strike

To view With Babies & Banners go to http://links.org.au/node/2681.

December 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Flint-based filmmaker Michael Moore has described the 1936 Flint sit-down strike as the "first Occupy" movement. Whether this is strictly accurate or not, the 1936-37 occupation/strike was a ground-breaking development in the US labour movement. To mark this anniversary, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  is making available the classic 1977 documentary on the strike and the role of women in it, With Babies & Banners (via the link at the top of this article, or click here).

As Moore recounts, "On this day, December 30th, in 1936 -- 75 years ago today -- hundreds of workers at the General Motors (GM) factories in Flint, Michigan, took over the facilities and occupied them for 44 days. My uncle was one of them. The workers couldn't take the abuse from the corporation any longer. Their working conditions, the slave wages, no vacation, no health care, no overtime -- it was do as you're told or get tossed onto the curb.

Venezuela: Communist Party backs Hugo Chavez, builds workers' control movement

By Rachael Boothroyd, Coro

August 10, 2011 -- Venezuelanalysis.com – On August 7, the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) concluded its 14th congress in Caracas following three days of discussions. More than 526 national delegates and 43 international representatives attended the conference, which was convened in conjunction with the PCV’s 74th anniversary.

Issues on the agenda included leadership, the 2012 presidential elections, an assessment of the Bolivarian revolution’s progression to date and the creation of the “Patriotic Pole” – a coalition of pro-Chávez political forces. Carolus Wimmer, PCV secretary of foreign relations, stated that the conference would be influential in determining the party’s “new national direction”.

“The PCV must adapt its structure to the historical moment. We have 80 years of history and the recognition of the Venezuelan people; that is why we exist, if it were any other way, we would just be a sect”, said Wimmer.

Chavez

Capitalism is just depressing

By Mark Harris

July 23, 2011 -- Resistance.org.au -- There is no denying it, depression is on the rise across the world. The World Health Organization says depression will be the second largest contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020. For young people this is already the case. Depression leads to about 850,000 deaths every year.

But why is depression on the rise? In some instances it is a product of more readily available methods of diagnosis and public understanding of the disorder. But increases in suicide rates and other indicators suggest that the increase in depression is well beyond this statistical readjustment.

Depression is not always caused by a chemical imbalance or as a result of human biology. It is a result of social factors such as loneliness, lack of social support, financial strain, lack of purpose and unemployment. These are endemic under capitalism.

Even in a wealthy country like Australia, youth often look to a future that is at best unfulfilling. Furthermore, capitalism is based on competition. In all sorts of ways we can only succeed if someone else fails. Obvious examples are job interviews or exams to get into uni.

Capitalist culture

Capitalist culture emphasises competition and individualism. Even the main form of transport — cars — means being physically separated from, and often in competition with, other people travelling on the same road.

Venezuela: Discussing the workers' control movement: An interview with 'Cayapa' radio show

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

By Ewan Robertson

June 3, 2011 -- AlertaQueCamina via Venezuelanalysis -- On Sunday, May 22, 2011, Spanish-language radio program Cayapa, based in Windsor, Canada, broadcast a program discussing the social and political changes underway in Venezuela, in the context of a recent solidarity brigade to the country by activists from the English-speaking world, and the country’s growing workers' control movement. This article provides an overview of the program in English, followed by a translation of an interview with the program about the workers' control movement in Venezuela, particularly in the Guayana region in the east of the country. You can listen to the full program (in Spanish) here or in the player below (apologies for the strange advertisement at the beginning!).

Venezuela: First national meeting of Socialist Workers’ Councils discusses workers' control

Photo by Prensa Sidor.

By Tamara Pearson

Mérida, May 24, 2011 – Venezuelanalysis.com – More than 900 workers’ council delegates from across Venezuela met at the Sidor steel plant in Puerto Ordaz to advance the organisation of Socialist Workers’ Councils and analyse progress, strengths and weaknesses of workers' control in Venezuela. The meeting, which took place on May 20, 21 and 22, opened with the singing of Venezuela's national anthem as well as the "Internationale".

It aimed to “strengthen the struggle for productive independence through workers' control”, Prensa Sidor (Sidor Press) reported. Workers, coming from a range of nationalised and worker-occupied and -run companies, and from most of Venezuela’s 23 states, evaluated the management model of  the “Socialist Workers’ Councils”.

`Lenin and workers' control', by Didier Limon (1967)

May Day in St Petersburg, 1917.

By Didier Limon, translated, edited and introduced by Keith Rosenthal

December 22, 2010 -- This phenomenal, historical and analytical study by Didier Limon -- which first appeared in Autogestion: études, débats, documents, cahier no. 4, pp. 65-111 (Paris, December 1967) -- has, until now, not been translated into English. This is a shame on many levels for it stands nearly peerless in its meticulous treatment of the specific subject it takes up. That is, the debates and discussions surrounding the implementation of workers’ control of production within the first months after the October revolution of 1917 in Russia.

The futility of green capitalism: Interview with Daniel Tanuro

Interview with Daniel Tanuro, translated by Richard Fidler

January 17, 2011 -- Climate & Capitalism -- Daniel Tanuro’s new book, L’impossible capitalisme vert,or “The Futility of Green Capitalism”, is a major contribution to our analytical understanding of ecosocialism. Tanuro, a Belgian Marxist and certified agriculturist, is a prolific author on environmental history and policies.

Addressed primarily to the Green milieu, as the title indicates, this book is a powerful refutation of the major proposals advanced to resolve the climate crisis that fail to challenge the profit drive and accumulation dynamic of capital. Much of the book appears to be a substantially expanded update of a report by Tanuro adopted in 2009 by the leadership of the Fourth International as a basis for international discussion. That report was translated by Ian Angus and included in his anthology The Global Fight for Climate Justice.

Camila Piñeiro Harnecker: `Cuba needs changes, to take us forward rather than backwards'

Cuban workers march on May Day 2009. Photo by Bill Hackwell/Havana Times.

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic reforms in Cuba, click HERE.]

Translator's introduction

January 15, 2011 -- Cuba's Socialist Renewal -- Alongside and intersecting with the grassroots debates on the Draft Economic and Social Policy Guidelines and the informal debate, there is a rich discussion and debate taking place among Cuban intellectuals and academic specialists from a variety of disciplines and a spectrum of political perspectives within the broad camp of the Cuban Revolution. The Cuban magazine Temas (Themes) is one publication that carries contributions to this debate among Cuba's revolutionary intelligentsia.

Michael Lebowitz and Marta Harnecker: 21st century socialism -- the strategy of the left and the Latin American experience


Part 1: Michael Lebowitz.

December 13, 2010 -- Thessaloniki, Greece -- Socialist Project/LeftStreamed -- Marta Harnecker and Michael Lebowitz were invited by the N. Poulantzas Institute and Transform magazine to present lectures on “21st century socialism: the strategy of the left and the Latin American experience”.

Los seres humanos como centro de nuestro socialismo

[English at http://links.org.au/node/2042.]

Por Federico Fuentes, traducido por Janet Duckworth

Resena sobre libro, La alternativa socialista: el verdadero desarrollo humano, de Michael Lebowitz

Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- La llegada de la crisis económica mundial a mediados de 2008, simbolizada por el colapso de algunas de las empresas más icónicas de Wall Street, condujo a un incremento vertiginoso de las ventas de El Capital, la obra maestra de Carlos Marx, porque mucha gente buscó una explicación de los acontecimientos apocalípticos que se estaban desarrollando.

Putting humans back into socialism

Review by Federico Fuentes

The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development
By Michael Lebowitz
Monthly Review Press, 2010

December 5, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- The onset of the global economic crisis in mid 2008, symbolised by the collapse of some of Wall Street’s most iconic companies, led to soaring sales of Karl Marx’s seminal work Das Kapital, as many sought explanations to the tumultuous events unfolding. Although written more than 100 years ago, this devastating and insightful dissection of how capital functions is still a powerful tool for people looking to understand and change the world.

Marx’s aim was to provide a handbook for working-class activists that unravelled the logic of capital and its inherently exploitative nature. Marx said this was necessary because as long as workers did not understand that capital was the result of their exploitation, they would not be able to defeat their enemy.

South Africa: Workers' factory takeover to defend jobs enters second month

November 17 video made by Workers' World Media, Cape Town.

November 17, 2010 -- A militant factory occupation by South African metalworkers is about to enter its second month. On October 20, 2010, workers at the Mine Line/TAP Engineering factory in Krugersdorp, just outside Soweto, began the occupation to prevent the removal of machinery and other assets and to fight to save their jobs. The workers are demanding the state take over the factory, so that it can be reopened as a democratically run workers' cooperative.

The workers are organised by the Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa (MEWUSA), in which the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM, the affiliate of the Committee for a Workers' International in South Africa) plays a leading role.

The Mondragon diaries: `If labour has the power, then capital ... becomes our tool'

Carl Davidson, national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, recently spent five days learning about the renowned Mondragon workers' cooperatives in the Basque Country. Here is his diary of the tour, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with his permission.

Day 1 -- Why humanity comes first at work: learning about bridges to 21st century socialism

“This is not paradise and we are not angels”. --  Mikel Lezamiz, director of cooperative dissemination, Mondragon Cooperative Corporation

After a short bus ride through the stone cobbled streets of Arrasate-Mondragon and up the winding roads of this humanly scaled industrial town in Spain's Basque Country on a sunny autumn morning, taking in the birch- and pine-covered mountains, and the higher ones with magnificent stony peaks, I raised an eyebrow at the first part of Mikel's statement.

The area was breathtakingly beautiful, and if it wasn't paradise, it came close enough.

Michael Lebowitz on the socialist alternative and real human development

Prof. Michael Lebowitz on the socialist alternative from Dangerous Minds at Vimeo.

August 30, 2010 -- Michael Lebowitz is a Canadian Marxist economist. He is the director of the “Transformative practice and human development” program at the Venezuela-based left-wing think tank, the Centro Internacional Miranda. He is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University and author of Build it Now: 21st Century Socialism and the 2004 Isaac Deutscher-prize winning Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class. His latest book is The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development.

Venezuela: The labour movement and socialist struggle today

Pedro Eusse, national secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela.

Pedro Eusse interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber

July 22, 2010 -- The Bullet -- In mid-June, 2010, we met with Pedro Eusse, national secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and part of the provisional executive committee of the labour confederation, Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (National Union of Workers, UNT). Revolutionary figures from times past stared down at us from the paintings hung on the walls in the office of the PCV in central Caracas. Refusing to be interrupted by the constantly ringing phone, Pedro spoke passionately for two hours about the centrality of organised workers in the revolutionary struggle and the need to unite the labour movement. He expressed his hopes for rebuilding the UNT at its third congress planned for fall 2010.

What was your political formation?

Venezuela: Communal power in Caracas

Wilder Marcano.

Wilder Marcano interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber

July 4, 2010 -- The Bullet -- We caught up with Wilder Marcano, director of the network of comunas [communes] in Caracas, on the morning of June 18, 2010. He talked with us just before addressing a crowd of a few hundred representatives of different comunas from around the capital who had gathered in the offices of the Ministry of Popular Power for the Communes and Social Welfare to discuss a whole series of issues related to building popular power from below in the poorest barrios.

What is the role of the comunas in the construction of socialism in Venezuela?

Venezuela: Workers’ control and the contradictions of the Bolivarian process

Gustavo Martínez.

Gustavo Martínez interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber

June 21, 2010 – The Bullet – On June 10, 2010, we caught up with Gustavo Martinez, a union leader in the worker-controlled, nationalised coffee company, Fama de América, in Caracas, Venezuela. The company has 350 workers at the national level, with two separate plants – one in Caracas and one in Valencia. We sat down with Martínez to discuss the centrality of workers’ control in the ongoing struggle to transition toward socialism and some of the most pressing contradictions of the Bolivarian process in Venezuela today.

* * *

To start off, can you tell us your name, how long you've worked in this coffee company, your job in the company, and your role in the union?

Building socialism from below: The role of the communes in Venezuela

Antenea Jimenez.

Antenea Jimenez interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber

June 13, 2010 -- The Bullet -- We met with Antenea Jimenez, a former militant with the student movement who is now working with a national network of activists who are trying to build and strengthen the comunas [communes]. The comunas are community organisations promoted since 2006 by the government of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez government as a way to consolidate a new form of state based upon production at the local level. She told us about the important advances in the process, as well as the significant challenges that remain in the struggle to build a new form of popular power from below.

Can you tell us about the barrio where you live and the comuna?

I live in a barrio [neighbourhood] in the north part of Caracas and work in a national network that is building comunas. Currently we operate in seven states; the majority of the comunas are situated outside Caracas.

Michael Lebowitz: `We must choose socialism over capitalist barbarism'

Michael Lebowitz was interviewed by Srećko Horvat during the Subversive Film Festival and conference on socialism, held from May 1 to May 25, 2010, in Zagreb, Croatia. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Michael Lebowitz's permission. [Click HERE to read more articles by Michael Lebowitz.]

* * *

Srećko Horvat: In May, as a participant of the big international conference on Socialism, you are coming to a country which had an experience with the the Yugoslavian version of socialism in the last century. Could you explain why socialism in the 21st century?

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