I’m kind of wondering how workers are controlling their own work. How is this organized? And how does it arise?

Worth noting is a current interview with Noam Chomsky by Sean Nevins over at Alternet which primarily focuses on international affairs, but the notable part is that the interview begins with some plain talk about worker control and worker ownership, which should be highlighted. The interview is linked below with the beginning part quoted here:

Noam Chomsky: The Nutty Antics of Right-Wingers Distract Us from the Agenda of the 1%


Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism

SN: I kind of want to start up by asking you to briefly describe what is anarchism and more specifically anarcho-syndicalism?

NC: Well, I think the best characterization that I know is given by one of the leading thinkers and activists in the modern anarcho-syndicalist world, Rudolf Rocker, who described anarchism in general as not a specific set of beliefs that provides particular answers to all the questions that can arise, but rather what he called ‘a general tendency in the history of humanity’ which aims to inquire into the nature of social, economic, political structures to detect structures of hierarchy and domination and to challenge them to demonstrate their legitimacy. They are not self-justified and if they cannot defend their legitimacy on some plausible grounds then to dismantle them and reconstruct then from below. And to do this in the context of the existing society, developing alternative institutions that are more free and more just in the hope of moving on to a world of free associations of workers’ communities controlling their own institutions, their own fate in association with one another of various kinds of federal arrangements and so on. That is the basic thrust of anarchism. Altogether it is myview and of anarcho-syndicalism in particular which is designed for complex industrial societies.

SN: So, you are talkingabout workers controlling their own work and controlling the enterprises that work in expanding out to the community?

NC: It’s one of crucial aspect of it. In fact, anarcho-syndicalism kind of shades off into left anti-Bolshevik Marxism. People like Anton Pannekoek, Paul Mattick, Karl Korsch and others have sympathetic relationships and ideas and the great anarchist achievement like the 1936 Spanish Revolution before it was crushed, did have the strong and sympathetic support of left Marxists who felt a community of interests and commitments.

SN: I’m kind of wondering how workers are controlling their own work. How is this organized? And how does it arise?

NC: Well, it’s all over the place. First of all it is a constant development takes place all over. There were efforts in Eastern Europe, for example, in self-management in Yugoslavia. Right now in the U.S., in the old decaying Rust Belt, where industries are collapsing, they’re being replaced, to a certain extent, by worker owned and partially worker-managed enterprises. There is one huge institution that’s undergone great conglomerate in Spain which is worker owned and the manager is selected by workers but not actually worker-managed which is a collection of heavy industries, banks, hospitals, community living and so on.

SN: So, did they rise spontaneously or is there a system that regulates how the workers organize themselves like maybe in the U.S., like they do it one way and then over Spain Mondragon they’ll do it a different way. Is there any kind of vision?

NC: There is no leadership or Bible, things develop on the basis of the circumstances that exist. So the conditions in [the] Rust Belt in Northern Ohio and in Catalonia and in Oregon in 1936 are quite different and the backgrounds are quite different. But there were similarities …



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