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(en) Ireland, WSM* Workers Solidarity #91 - Review: The Bolsheviks and Workers Control

Date Tue, 11 Apr 2006 11:34:14 +0300

How many times as the clock inches towards five thirty have you thought that
you could do the bosses' job! Well not only have workers often thought this,
they have occasionally even kicked the bosses out and given it a go.
The Bolsheviks and Workers Control is a detailed book that shows firstly
how Russian workers took over and managed their workplaces, secondly
how they wished to extend this control to the entire economy and
thirdly how it was wrested from them by the Russian state. It is an essential
read for anyone who thinks that Leninist parties have any relevance
to creating a socialist society.

Factory committees sprung up before, during and after the
revolution booting out managers and taking over enterprises. The
committees quickly realised that co-ordination and integration of
production was essential. The Resolution of Factory/Shop Commissions declares:
"The economic life of the country
- agriculture, industry, commerce and
transport must be subject to one unified
plan, constructed so as to satisfy the
individual and social requirements of
the wide masses of the people".
In August 1917 the Second
Conference of Factory Committees
took this so seriously that they
resolved to devote a quarter of their
wages to support a central Soviet
of Factory Committees. After the
revolution they made attempts to do
this with the All Russian Council
of Factory Committees which the
Bolsheviks stopped from meeting,
believing instead in their vision of
control by the State `on the workers'
behalf '.

In December 1917 The Central
Council of the Petrograd Factory
Committees issued a `Practical manual
for the implementation of Workers
Control" which quite explicitly
moves beyond stock-taking, and into
real control of production, calling
on each committee to set up control
commissions for the various aspects
of production. That same month
the Bolshevick paper: Isvestiya
published the `General Instructions on
Workers Control in Conformity with the
Decree of November'. It also talks of
commissions, but says that the only
role they should play in management
is making sure that the central
governments directives are
followed through.

So after initial luke warm support
for the committees the Bolsheviks
quickly moved towards one man
management under direct state
rule from above. By April 1918
(six months after October), Lenin's
article on "The Immediate Tasks of
the Soviet Government" was published
in Isvestiya. He claims that "The
irrefutable experience of history has
shown that....the dictatorship of
individual persons was very often the
vehicle, the channel of the dictatorship
of the revolutionary classes" and
"Today the Revolution demands, in the
interests of socialism, that the masses
unquestioningly obey the single will of
the leaders of the labour process."
If you are interested in how the
factory committee movement
worked and how the Leninists
quickly moved to absorb and smash
them this book has all the detail you
could possibly want.
Available from the WSM
Bookservice for 8 euros. See
www.wsm.ie for more details

From Workers Solidarity 91, March/April 2006
PDF file online at http://www.struggle.ws/pdfs/ws/
* Anarchist federation
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