what kind of anti-capitalist organisation is iops?

18 10 2012

Michael Albert is visiting England next week to promote IOPS  (International Organisation for a Participatory Society). Duvinrouge asked him some questions.

duvinrouge - Michael, you are coming to England to speak at the Anarchist Bookfair to promote IOPS, what is the key message you want to get across?

I am speaking three times at the bookfair, I believe, once on Anarchist economics, once on a three book set called Fanfare for the Future, and once about IOPS. For that matter, the trip is also taking me to Norway, Sweden, Belgium, France, Germany, and Denmark for broadly similar talks.

For the anarchist economics panel, my focus will be that to be anarchist economics ought to understand existing economic relations and their implications but with special emphasis on the structures that impose restrictions on people controlling their own lives, including, in particular, markets and corporate divisions of labor – not simply private ownership.

The Fanfare talk, I suppose, is to introduce the books, so I will focus on trying to explain their motivation and broadly what they encompass, including how they try to provide the tools needed for full and effective participation in analyzing current relations, envisioning and advocating goals, and developing organization and program for reaching those goals. I will also try to summarize a cross section of the insights in the books.

The third talk, the IOPS presentation, is where I will try to make a case that IOPS visionary, strategic, and organizational commitments are, or at least in my view ought to be, highly congenial to anarchists. I will discuss the features that I think justify that claim. There will also be time, and I look forward to answering questions that raise people’s concerns about IOPS.

Read the rest of this entry »





self-managed socialism: possible, urgent, necessary

18 01 2012

Writing for Passa Palavra, Brazilian teacher Henrique T. Novaes looks at advantages and limitations of the Latin American experience of workers trying to overcome capitalist work relations through their control of their workplaces 

The destruction of the welfare state in Europe and the continuation of the state of social ills in the rest of the world are the consequences of an irrational society. In Spain, Portugal and Greece 40% of young people are unemployed and the state has unpayable debts. After riots in England’s capital city the Government insisted on calling the youth “vandals without a cause”, dismissing out of hand the obvious social causes of the revolt. Stratospheric public debts, neo-fascism, unemployment, underemployment, the return of hunger and poverty to Europe: words which keep appearing in a region which managed to create a restrained, partly nationalised – but capitalist nonetheless – capitalism in the 1945-73 period.

Capitalism under the hegemony of finance, turbo-marketisation and the return of primitive accumulation can only survive with increasing repression and the criminalisation of social movements. To cite a Latin-American example, Argentinian society reacted to the process of financialisation of its economy in 2001, a financialisation which gained strength after the military coup of 1976, throwing the country’s popular movements into the dust. In 2001 they did fight back, saying “Enough! Out with the lot of you!”: it was a symptom of the tiredness of neoliberal reforms and the neocolonisation of Argentinian society. However, the popular revolt of 2001 rapidly transformed into a new politics of ‘development’ under President Kirchner. Read the rest of this entry »





workers’ control in the health-care system

22 12 2011

Mike Levine discusses how we can go beyond the hierarchical form of the National Health Service. The author has spent most of his working life as an NHS researcher.

While the National Health Service is remarkably successful in treating ill people, it is under threat of being opened up to international free markets. Both Labour and Tory/Lib Dem parties seem hell bent on this. The problem with private health providers is that they cannot make a profit out of treating any but the richer part of society unless they are subsidised.

on life support: the NHS is under attack. what is our alternative for how healthcare should be run?

The belief that a health service based upon market systems is more likely than a publicly planned one to lead to a decent healthy life for everyone, is completely unfounded. There is no evidence for it and comparison of the NHS with, say, the USA or European countries shows that Britain spends less in terms of a proportion of GDP for a service which is both good and equally available to everyone. Read the rest of this entry »





democracy and self-management in cuba

23 09 2010

Guillermo Almeyra outlines an alternative to the Cuban government’s plans to slash 20% of the workforce and privatise parts of the economy in order to deal with the crisis.

Predictably, the global crisis – together with the criminal US economic blockade – is now taking an even heavier toll on Cuba, reducing levels of tourism and remittances sent home by Cubans abroad.The growing difficulties of the Venezuelan economy, as well as the aggravation of climactic disasters, are also factors we have to consider when looking at how to save the island from economic abyss.

Cuba is a country which has been in deep crisis for more than 20 years – a whole generation – and which has no real change nor encouraging signs on the horizon, merely a hard struggle for survival, which besides is led by the same system and the same leaders who have helped create the current disastrous situation and do not know how to escape it. Read the rest of this entry »





workers’ councils: the red mole of revolution

23 03 2010

The latest issue of The Commune featured a supplement with an extended piece on workers’ councils by Sheila Cohen. Click image below to see PDF or read full text below.

The red mole may weave unexpected patterns and assume strange disguises; it is digging, digging fast, and moving in roughly the right direction…’

Daniel Singer, The Road to Gdansk. Read the rest of this entry »





tory co-ops mean privatisation

19 03 2010

by Gregor Gall

The longstanding cross party consensus on cooperatives has taken a nasty turn. Traditionally, all the main parties have all supported – albeit a token way – the ideas of cooperatives.

For ‘old’, social democratic Labour, this has been about supporting workers and extending industrial democracy. Here the notion was that workers should be supported when they try to buck the outcomes of the market, even if cooperatives were a far from perfect means to do so. Read the rest of this entry »





a workers’ movement for communism

30 12 2009

by Steve Ryan

So it’s 2010 and the media is full of reflections on the last decade. Looking at it from the point of view of the Left it’s an interesting one. Massive marches against war, the rise of the BNP, the collapse of pretty well all initiatives to build an alternative to Labour. The rise and fall of left led unions alongside occupations and wildcat strikes, climate camps and environmental protests, the list goes on and in many respects shows the Left on the defensive.

Depressing? Actually no. Looking at the areas of hope in the last 10 years is a lesson for the future. Read the rest of this entry »





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 »





social ownership and workers’ self-management

31 10 2009

A motion to the Labour Representation Committee conference proposed by The Commune

The Labour Representation Committee notes this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall the Berlin Wall, and the beginning of the change of regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe in the years 1989-1991. Conference salutes the great freedom struggles by the working people, of the communist and socialist oppositionists to the dictatorships which ruled in the name of “actually existing socialism”, such as the rebellions of 1953 in Berlin, 1956 in Hungary and Poland, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, 1980-1989 in Poland, and the myriad struggles in the USSR.

Conference recognises that the legacy of the Stalinist regimes continues to hinder the struggle for a new society today. As part of developing the vision of a viable alternative to capitalism in the 21st century, our movement needs to learn the lessons of their historical failure, including of the previous state socialist conceptions. The Labour Representation Committee conference recognises that: Read the rest of this entry »





a communist revival?

13 10 2009

by Nathan Coombs

One of the remarkable things about the manifesto of the recent University of California Santa Cruz student occupation, the Communiqué from an Absent Future, was the emphatic use of the word communism to describe their project to “demand not a free university but a free society”.

santacruzwearethecrisis

This re-appropriation of the word communism marks a new direction after numerous attempts to refigure a certain spirit, while avoiding the specific content, of communism under such concepts as “the common” or “communisation” in various brands of leftwing, post-cold war political activism. Communism itself had been more or less abandoned to the dwindling base of old far-left political groups and Maoist movements. Read the rest of this entry »





self-management at zanon: “we showed that it is possible”

29 09 2009

Zanon: a factory in the hands of the workers, Argentina. Published by Wildcat in December 2003.

zanon

The Neuquén province, where Zanon is located, was one of the epicentres of the protests that swept Argentina in the 1990s. It was here that the piqueteros first emerged in the town of Cutral-Co, and there are many militant trade unionists. Unlike in most of Argentina, many of the attempted privatizations of state owned enterprises were defeated. In May 2006, teachers won a 40% pay rise following a month long strike. But most famous, is the successful takeover of the Zanon tile factory and its subsequent worker-run management. In 2000 the workers went on strike. The employer implemented a lock out and the workers responded by occupying the factory. In October 2001, the workers officially declared the factory to be ‘under worker control’. By March 2002, the factory fully returned to production. In April 2003, the courts ordered the police to forcibly take the factory out of the hands of the workers. In response the workers developed a broad based campaign and as the police began to move in over 3000 citizens of Neuquén formed a picket in front of the factory. During the period of worker control, the number of employees has increased from 300 to 470, and wages have risen by 100 pesos a month, and the level of production has increased. Accidents have fallen by 90%. Read the rest of this entry »





state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america

28 09 2009

David Broder’s talk to The Commune’s recent Manchester forum

The class struggle in Latin America is one that has always roused great interest and a certain romanticism among the western left. The continent has seen a number of heroic struggles against often savage exploitation and state repression, whether by the industrial working class, landless peasants or indigenous peoples. But the politics of the Latin American left are complex and often mischaracterised.

zelayacorreachavezortegamorales

I’m going to talk about the recent history of Latin America and the relationship of US imperialism to national ruling classes; in what ways this has shaped the major left trends and the workers’ movement on the continent; and the different types of movement that exist today.  Read the rest of this entry »





‘the take’: argentina’s worker-managed enterprises

13 09 2009

Here we present Naomi Klein’s 2004 documentary The Take which looks at the actions of Argentinian workers during that country’s economic crisis earlier this decade. Hundreds of factories were occupied in resistance to mass redundancy: but further still, workers seized their workplaces restarted production under their own control.

A number of these enterprises are still going: indeed, last month the Argentinian state was forced to accept a permanent legal status for the $100m Zanón/FaSinPat (factory without bosses) ceramic tiles plant in Neuquén, which had been ‘stolen’ from its former owner by its four hundred workers. The film, reproduced in full below, features interesting interviews with the workers involved in these inspiring struggles.

Read the rest of this entry »





the workers’ self-management alternative

4 09 2009

by Chris Kane

Discussions about workers’ control and self-management which were once at the heart of the labour movement are now once again on the agenda, both among British activists and internationally. The network of communists who produce The Commune are the most determined advocates of self-management among the English and Welsh radical left, and have generally found a positive response.  However there remains a lot of confusion about self-management, with antagonism even from some people who regard themselves as socialists and Marxists.  Part of the explanation of these attitudes can be found in misconceptions of both what capitalism is and of the communist alternative. Read the rest of this entry »








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