Anarchism and Workers Self-Management

I am no critic of Anarchism, despite my Marxist Left Communism I generally find Anarchism to be one of the easier tendencies on the left to relate to. However, there is a frustrating inability of Anarchism- or at least Orthodox Anarchism- to move beyond the notion of Workers Self-Management as being Socialism. Thus you have the generally dependable Cameron Watt giving this as his definition of Socialism in this video.

Now, Workers Self-Management could be a step in the right direction towards Socialism (I will write more about this later) but it is not what was historically meant by Socialism by figures such as Karl Marx or Peter Kropotkin. By Socialism/Communism they meant the abolition of work. Marx calls explicity for the abolition of labour in The German Ideology and the economic positions espoused in Capital lead to the same conclusions.  Indeed, Workers Self-Management seems much more likely to constitute as some form of Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Despite this the concept of Workers Self-Management is a flawed one and I would push for something more shaped by Communisation Theory. I would not go as far as some other Left Communists in calling Workers Self-Management worker owned capitalism, or self-exploitation, but it is certainly a society where some of the unsavoury aspects of capitalism are preserved (commodity production, value) and people are not free to develop themselves creatively and intellectually, instead being chained to a machine, the difference being they play some part in the democratic management of the machine. As automation becomes more and more feasible, the notion of workers self-management begins to seem less and less radical and the abolition of work more feasible.

At this point it seems useful to briefly draw on Trotskyite turned Platformist Anarchist Wayne Price’s idiotic critique of Left Communism. After hilariously calling Amadeo Bordiga “State Capitalist” he goes on to briefly acknowledge Bordiga’s extreme opposition to the value-form, but attempts to salvage his previous ‘critique’ by saying: But the law of value expresses a chaotic society of commodity exchange on the market. It cannot be abolished unless the freely associated producers themselves consciously organize and plan the economy. That requires the fullest producers’ self-management, which begins as workers’ democracy. Leaving aside Wayne’s sadly predictable fetishization of democracy, it is revealing of his intellectual limitations that he imagines the value-form can be abolished through self-management, i.e, a society where commodity production is continued. You, of course, cannot have commodity production without the law of value. This is revealing of how uncritical and stale Orthodox Anarchism as a whole has become, that rather than face an honest critique of something that- frankly- most Anarchists fetishize, Wayne would rather accuse one of these critics of “state capitalism”- despite workers self-management being closer to capitalism than Bordiga- and then make a baseless assertion in order to ignore that pesky ultraleft.

So, to sum up, Communism must not democratise the worker but abolish them. Communism is the workerless society, it is this that we must work towards.


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