self-managed socialism: possible, urgent, necessary

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. Continue reading “self-managed socialism: possible, urgent, necessary”

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workers’ control in the health-care system

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. Continue reading “workers’ control in the health-care system”

democracy and self-management in cuba

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. Continue reading “democracy and self-management in cuba”

workers’ councils: the red mole of revolution

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. Continue reading “workers’ councils: the red mole of revolution”

tory co-ops mean privatisation

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. Continue reading “tory co-ops mean privatisation”

a workers’ movement for communism

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. Continue reading “a workers’ movement for communism”

on the content of socialism

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. Continue reading “on the content of socialism”