After the Councils
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After the Councils book
The programme of council democracy included, among other elements, three crucial ones: democratising the political economy by democratising individual firms; opposing domination; and developing the democratic agency of ordinary people. So long as the factory remained a crucial nexus of power in the political economy, these three elements of the council democratic programme naturally cohered. But recent developments have decentred the importance of the individual workplace, increasing the distance between workers and powerful elites. Today, the future of the labour movement depends on developing new strategies to challenge economic domination other than democratising individual workplaces. This chapter argues that we must overcome two one-sided aspects of the contemporary debate. On one side of this debate are advocates of strategies that challenge new forms of domination in the political economy – but which do not attempt to develop the democratic agency of workers. And on the other side are proponents of approaches that emphasise developing workers’ agency – but which avoid reckoning with changes in the face of contemporary domination. In developing new strategies within the labour movement, we should return to the council movement’s ambition both to challenge domination and to develop the democratic agency of ordinary people.