" 'Workers' councils' does not designate a fixed form of organization, elaborated once and for all and for which all that remains is to perfect its details; it concerns a principle, that of workers' self management of the enterprise and of production. The realization of this principle can never occur through a theoretical discussion concerning the best means of execution. It is a question of the practical struggle against the apparatus of capitalist domination." - Anton Pannekoek
The Council Communist Reader is a collection of selected writings from a few council communists. Council Communism emerged in Holland and Germany in the 1920's as an alternative to Bolshevik and Marxist-Leninist thought up to the Third International. Council Communist theory was derived from workers' experiences in the German Revolution of 1918, the early years of the Weimar Republic, and the study of the early council movements in Russia in 1905 and 1917. They sought not to impose a kind of organization upon the workers' movement, but instead to uplift the form of "councils" as spontaneous and self-emancipatory for the working class. This was a throughline for the council communists to connect back to Marx's understanding of proletarian revolution in maintaining "the emancipation of the working class is the task of the workers themselves." Council communism was not to be a new ideology for the working class, but to take a critique of state socialism back to the roots of self-emancipation towards theoretical coherence which can combat all forms that hinder emancipation and move this theoretical coherence into practice. From this, and their understanding revolutionary consciousness develops as a result of crisis, revolution is not a choice but a necessity.
The works included in this book have been chosen to reflect the developments of Council Communism over decades; this is not an exhaustive, encyclopedic collection of all councilist texts, but a collection of key texts.
This book in the Radical Reprint series from Pattern Books is made to be accessible and as close to manufacturing cost as possible.