Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Lenin on Workers Control,
1918-1919
Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century

Sources

Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Marx:
Civil War in France

Marx:
Alienation

Marx:
Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature

Engels:
Anti-Dühring

Engels:
Violence and the Origin of the State

Engels:
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

Lenin:
What is to be done?

Lenin:
Imperialism

Lenin:
The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

Lenin:
The Cultural Revolution

Lenin:
Left-Wing Communism

Lenin:
The American Revolutions

Lenin:
The French Revolutions

Lenin:
On Workers Control

Lenin:
On Religion

Lenin:
On the Arms Race

Trotsky:
Militarization of Labor

Luxemburg:
Russian Revolution

Zetkin:
The Women's Question

Mao:
Role of Communist Party

Mao:
On Violence

Mao:
On the Army

Mao:
On Women

Mao:
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Guevara:
Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

Fanon:
National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism


"Workers control" was the slogan for the new Soviet government after the revolution in Russia. Lenin made this point in his speech on the First Anniversary of the Revolution.

Workers control is a matter of education and power. As Lenin pointed out in his speech, "socialism can only take shape and be consolidated when the working class has learned how to run the economy and when the authority of the working people has been firmly established."

As he says, this cannot occur quickly: "it will take them a long time to learn to run industry. But we consider it most important and valuable that the workers have themselves tackled the job, and that we have passed from workers' control, which in all the main branches of industry was bound to be chaotic, disorganized, primitive and incomplete, to workers' industrial administration on a national scale."

Lenin considered it key that the trade unions had taken up a responsibility in workers control: "The trade unions’ position has altered. Their main function now is to send their representatives to all management boards and central bodies."

The key, says Lenin, is the workers' consciousness: "By political consciousness we mean that they have tackled this formidable task with their own hands and by their own efforts. And they have committed thousands of blunders from each of which they have themselves suffered. But every blunder trained and steeled them in organising industrial administration, which has now been established and put upon a firm foundation. They saw their work through. From now on the work will be different, for now all workers, not just the leaders and advanced workers, but great sections of workers, know that they themselves, with their own hands, are building socialism and have already laid its foundations, and no force in the country can prevent them from seeing the job through."

In A Great Beginning Lenin recognized the significance of the subbotnik, which was day of free labor performed by workers, named after the Russian word for Saturday, subbota: "the communist subbotniks organised by the workers on their own initiative are really of enormous significance. Evidently, this is only a beginning, but it is a beginning of exceptionally great importance ... Only when this victory is consolidated will the new social discipline, socialist discipline, be created."

To Lenin the subbotnik recognized the new motivation for work which would eventually characterize socialism: "The feudal organisation of social labour rested on the discipline of the bludgeon ... The capitalist organisation of social labour rested on the discipline of hunger ... The communist organisation of social labour the first step towards which is socialism, rests, and will do so more and more as time goes on, on the free and conscious discipline of the working people themselves..."

Lenin believed, like Marx and Engels before him, that love of work is part of human nature, and that the distaste for work in modern society is a distortion of human nature caused by capitalist exploitation. In this regard he disagreed strongly with Trotsky who echoed the capitalist claim that workers are naturally lazy.

In the last years of the Soviet Union, workers control was again put on the agenda of history. Recognizing the desperate situation of the economy, the Soviet leadership proposed a radical restructuring of economic management. The June 1987 report by the Soviet Central Committee called for "transition by work collectives to self-management, whereby they decide at their own discretion all production matters at their factories up to, and including, the election of top managerial personnel." But it was too late to avoid an economic collapse. And besides, it was quickly found that there were very few workers who had the training and experience to become good managers and most workers, not knowing the basic principles of socialist economics and management, did not know how to choose among competing management candidates.

Democracy at the workplace is essential to ensure that a socialist culture of peace is based on a stable and just economy. It can never be achieved under capitalism, but it is also not easy to achieve under socialism. It will require extensive practical education, both for the candidates and for those who vote.

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Writings of Vladimir Lenin on the Discussion Board:
discussion board

Issues

Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authori- tarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Interna- tionalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare

Terrorism

Agent Provocateurs

Communica- tion systems

Psychology for revolution- aries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence


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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Slovo:
Has Socialism Failed?

Freire:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Fidel:
Ecology in Cuba

Fidel:
On Religion

Mandela:
Human Rights in South Africa

King
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Nonviolence

Gandhi
on Communism