on the content of socialism

21 12 2009

Cornelius Castoriadis, aka Paul Cardan, was the most prominent member of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group in France in the late 1940s-1960s, which advocated workers’ self-management in workplaces and society as opposed to capitalism in its private and state-run forms.

Here we present Maurice Brinton’s translation of Castoriadis’ classic On the content of socialism. The work is subtitled ‘From the Critique of Bureaucracy to the Idea of the Proletariat’s Autonomy’

Click here for part 1, here for part 2 and here for part 3. Read the rest of this entry »





new pamphlet – storming heaven: the paris commune of 1871

5 10 2009

The Paris Commune of 1871 was the first working-class revolution in history. With the French capital surrounded by the troops of the newly founded German Empire and the ruling-class government in Versailles presiding over military and economic chaos, the Parisian population overthrew the state apparatus and created a revolutionary government. The Paris Commune comprised diverse political forces, from radical plebian French nationalists aspiring to complete the 1789-93 revolution; to communists and anarchists: but its democratic way of organising and splitting of the army meant it represented what Karl Marx called in his first draft of The Civil War in France “a revolution against the state as such“.

pariscommune1

The Commune’s new pamphlet features a chapter from Marx explaining how the revolution came about and its significance; and the reproduction of the text of a pamphlet by libertarian socialist group Solidarity critiquing the traditional left’s claim that the Paris Commune proved the need for a vanguard party to seize state power on behalf of the masses. Read the rest of this entry »





reprints of the commune’s pamphlets – buy online

7 08 2009

We have printed more copies of our series of pamphlets, several of which (in particular the long-unavailable Venezuela pamphlet) were out of print. See below for a list of the seven pamphlets available. They cost £1 +50p postage per copy. To order online, work out the total of your purchases then ‘donate’ the money here, making sure to specify in the text box what you are ordering.

communestall

Alternatively, write to uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to place your order. We take payment by cheque (addressed to ‘The Commune’, at The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St. John Street, London EC1V 4PY) or by transfer to Co-op account S/C 089299, A/C 65317440. Read the rest of this entry »





texts for 2nd march reading group

19 02 2009

The next of our reading groups on ‘communism from below’ takes place from 6:30pm on Monday 2nd March. The subject of the discussion is ‘the roots of left fragmentation and the sectarianisation of history’ and we will be focussing on the questions:

- How can we overcome some groups’ ideas that they represent the “authentic” historical continuity of the communist movement?
– Why is the left so divided by the legacy of the Russian revolution?
– To what extent should we drop the ‘baggage of history’ in deciding our politics today? Is it true that old differences and old disputes don’t matter any more?

The recommended reading is
False historical paradigms: a short piece by Chris Ford looking at how many left groups perceive themselves as part of an ‘order of succession’ going back to the 1916-21 revolutionary wave and failing to see contradictions in their heroes’ thought.
– Michael S Fox’s Ante Ciliga, Trotsky and State Capitalism, looking at the Croatian communist Ciliga’s critique of the Trotskyist movement in terms of its unwillingness to tackle the question of bureaucratisation head on and sectarianism towards other anti-Stalinist forces.
– Maurice Brinton’s The Malaise on the Left looks at the culture of leftist circles and their narrow focus on only certain areas of human experience and repression in society.

All are welcome to come and take part in the discussion – we aim to have open and undogmatic debates rather than training anyone in some ‘party line’. For details of the central London venue, printed copies of the texts or more information, don’t hesitate to email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com





strategy for industrial struggle

13 10 2008

We have published a new pamphlet ‘strategy for industrial struggle’, a reprint of a 1971 solidarity pamphlet with a new introductory essay by Chris Kane.

The solidarity pamphlet explores different forms of working-class action (strikes; occupations and sit ins; sabotage; work-to-rules and go-slows; etc.) and looks at how different tactics used relate to rank-and-file involvement and control over struggles. Similarly, Chris’s introduction examines the lessons and relevance of these ideas for today, and stresses the centrality of self-organisation, democracy, and resistance to the conservatism of the trade union bureaucracies when faced with draconian anti-union laws.

The 24-page pamphlet, the third we have produced, costs £1, or you can click here to download it: industrialstrugglepamphlet.pdf

If you would like to be posted a printed copy of the pamphlet, email us at uncaptiveminds@googlemail.com or write to The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PY





new pamphlet: ‘nationalisation or workers’ management?’

26 09 2008

We have produced a pamphlet on the subject of workers’ control and management, counterposing working-class power exercised from below to nationalisations by the bourgeois state.

The pamphlet, costing £1, includes the following articles:

Review of the LEAP pamphlet on social ownership for the 21st century

The struggle for self-management (by Solidarity)

An exchange between Solidarity and the Institute for Workers’ Control

The ambiguities of workers’ control (by Solidarity)

The Harrogate debates: the 1977 debate between the then secretary of state for energy Tony Benn and Arthur Scargill and Peter Heathfield from the NUM on workers’ control. Includes summaries of contributions from the floor.

As indicated above, we have posted some of the contents on this website already, but we have not yet uploaded the Harrogate debates piece, which represents about half the pamphlet’s length.

If you would like a copy of the 26 page pamphlet, email uncaptiveminds@googlemail.com or write to us at The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PY.

cover of pamphlet on nationalisation and workers' management




reading material for 29th september (updated)

24 09 2008

Comrades may be interested in a look at some of the following articles, which relate to the subject of our 29th September ‘uncaptive minds’ forum on ‘the debates over workers’ control’ in the 1970s workers’ movement.

Self-management in the struggle for socialism (by Raptis, aka Pablo)

The ambiguities of “workers’ control” (Solidarity)

The struggle for self-management: an open letter to IS comrades (Solidarity)

What is Workers’ Control? (Solidarity exchange with Institute for Workers’ Control)

Workers’ Control and Revolutionary Theory: an appraisal of the publications of the Institute for Workers’ Control (Richard Hyman)

This piece is from a slightly earlier period but is still of interest:

Nationalisation: a socialist analysis (ILP)





the ambiguities of “workers’ control”

14 09 2008

The Commune has opened a discussion on the meaning of workers’ self-management and workers’ control, two concepts which are often confused with each other and given a wide range of meanings, from trade union participation on management boards to collective ownership and management of a workplace by its workers themselves. We will be having a forum on the question on 29th September, but are also looking to stimulate a broader debate in the movement. 

We will soon be publishing a review of the new Left Economics Advisory Panel pamphlet on “social ownership for the 21st century”, and have also put online two pieces from previous debates on the meaning of “workers’ control”: an exchange between the libertarian socialist ‘Solidarity’ group and the Institute for Workers’ Control as well as the piece below, also from ‘Solidarity’. Read the rest of this entry »





more new content in ‘ideas’

26 08 2008

today we have added to the ‘ideas‘ section of the website…

the solidarity group’s pamphlet on the 1871 paris commune. this compares trotsky and tales’ insistence that the communards failed because of their lack of a party unfavourably to karl marx’s civil war in france, which makes no such argument; and furthermore celebrates this great display of working class insurgency from below.

we also feature an article by david broder on the organisation of education under capitalism and the alienation of students, and an essay by chris ford on the relevance of the theory of state capitalism in today’s globalised capitalist economy.

the website is now accessible at www.thecommune.co.uk as well as the wordpress address.





czechoslovakia ’68: what ‘socialism’? what ‘human face’?

24 08 2008

The Prague Spring of 1968 and the subsequent Russian invasion naturally enough provoked comments and analyses from both left and right. That an event of great significance had taken place was not in question. But people differed in their views as to what exactly was important about what had happened. Read the rest of this entry »








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