Workers' council

Form of political and economic organization / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A workers' council, or labor council,[1] is a type of council in a workplace or a locality made up of workers or of temporary and instantly revocable delegates elected by the workers in a locality's workplaces.[2] In such a system of political and economic organization, the workers themselves are able to exercise decision-making power. Furthermore, the workers within each council decide on what their agenda is and what their needs are. The council communist Antonie Pannekoek describes shop-committees and sectional assemblies as the basis for workers' management of the industrial system.[3] A variation is a soldiers' council, where soldiers direct a mutiny. Workers and soldiers have also operated councils in conjunction (like the 1918 German Arbeiter- und Soldatenrat). Workers' councils may in turn elect delegates to central committees, such as the Congress of Soviets.

Supporters of workers' councils (such as council communists,[4] libertarian socialists,[5] Leninists,[6] anarchists,[7] and Marxists[8]) argue that they are the most natural form of working-class organization, and believe that workers' councils are necessary for the organization of a proletarian revolution and the implementation of an anarchist or communist society.

The Paris Commune of 1871 became a model for how future workers' councils would be organised for revolution and socialist governance. Workers' councils have played a significant role in the communist revolutions of the 20th century. This was most notable in the lands of the Russian Empire (including Congress Poland and Latvia) in 1905, with the workers' councils (soviets) acting as labor committees which coordinated strike activities throughout the cities due to repression of trade unions. During the Revolutions of 1917–1923, councils of socialist workers were able to exercise political authority. In the workers' councils organized as part of the 1918 German revolution, factory organizations such as the General Workers' Union of Germany formed the basis for region-wide councils.

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