Not a wheel turns, not a lightbulb shines and not a telephone rings without the kind permission of the working class. But under capitalism, the means of production are the private property of the capitalist class: they own the machinery, the plants and the factories. The workers have no claim either to the instruments or the products of their labour, and they have no choice but to work in order to survive. This entire process is not planned according to social need, but operates anarchically to maximise profit for the capitalists.
In a few instances in history, workers have expelled their bosses and run their own workplaces under democratic control. In so doing, they learn that the parasitic capitalists are completely unnecessary. Workers already have the knowhow to run their industries, and are the basis for everything of value created in society. Under a socialist society, the entire economy will be democratically managed by the working class for the maximum benefit of mankind.
Learn the basics
Rob Lyon looks at the revolutionary principles of workers' control and management as opposed to the reformist idea of workers' participation, best realised in Germany in the 1970s.
The Russian Revolution is slandered as undemocratic, when in reality it involved the most far-reaching and revolutionary democracy the world has ever seen. In this article, Daniel Morley explains how this worked in practice.
For many, it is clear what we are fighting against, but it can be harder to picture exactly what we are fighting for. In concrete terms, how might a new society work? What will socialism look like?
Along with the renewed discussion in Britain around renationalisation, the idea of workers’ control and workers’ management has re-emerged. We explain why nationalisation must be done on the basis of workers’ control.
Originally published in 1974, this article maintains all its validity, in explaining the real Marxist approach to the question of workers’ control.
This document was written by Ted Grant together with Roger Silverman in 1967 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian revolution.
Workers' control under capitalism can be reabsorbed into less threatening forms of workers' “participation”, unless the capitalists are totally expropriated.
A vivid description by John Reed on the functioning of the Soviets shortly after the revolution.
“The first question that arises in this connection is: Can we picture workers’ control of production as a stable regime, not everlasting, of course, but of quite long duration?”
Are cooperatives an alternative to socialist revolution? Can we build a new society gradually through the cooperative movement? The central question is: who holds state power, the working class or the capitalists?
Audio & Video
Daniel Morley discusses the idea of workers' democracy, contrasting this with the formal democracy that we have under capitalism, and explaining the ways in which the working class can take control of the wider economy.
Erik Demeester of Vonk (Belgium) speaking on Soviets, councils and workers' power at a World School of the IMT.