Workers to Rule

Issue section: 

Graeme Kemp and Alan Woodward (May SR) are quite right that my short piece on workers' democracy (April SR) left many questions unresolved.

Hopefully there will be further discussion of this central question at Marxism 2003 and in the SWP press. For those who want to go further, I recommend 'The Western Soviets' by Donny Gluckstein, and 'Revolutionary Rehearsals', edited by Colin Barker.

Three brief points for further discussion:

(1) There is no guarantee *in advance* that any future revolution will not be bureaucratised. We shall need permanent vigilance and constant efforts to spread democratic involvement.

(2) A major reason for the rapid decline in the Russian soviets was the war provoked by foreign intervention. We need an international movement strong enough to defend from invasion any country in which workers take power.

(3) Another serious problem in 1917 and after was that almost all the old leaders of the socialist movement had betrayed it in 1914, leaving the new wave to be led by inexperienced militants. To build and defend workers' councils we need activists who are both committed to socialist ideas and experienced in representing the interests of their fellow workers. The best way to prepare workers' councils of the future is to build a socialist movement rooted in the
workplaces now.

Ian Birchall