Workers’ Councils by Anton Pannekoek: Shop Organisation

From the back cover of Workers’ Councils (2003 AK Press Edition)


"Workers’ Councils is good, solid, working-class literature."

– Noam Chomsky

"What the working class strives for in its struggle, liberty and security, to be master of its own life, is only possible through control of the means of production. State socialism is not control of the means of production by the workers, but control by the organs of the state. If it is democratic at the same time, this means that workers themselves may select their masters. By contrast direct control of production by workers means that the employees direct the enterprise and construct the higher and central organisations from below. This is what is called the system of workers’ councils."

-Pannekoek, 1952

In this timeless text, Anton Pannekoek provides his analysis of how we can create and sustain this practical model for such equality.


Anton Pannekoek was the main theoretician of Left Communism. He lived and worked in workers’ councils from China to Germany over the first half of the century and militantly fought in working class struggles all his life. He wrote Workers’ Councils while living under Nazi occupation in Holland during World War II



Workers’ Councils has 5 parts; The Task, The Fight, The Foe, The War (1944), and The Peace (1947)

The audio recording here is Chapter 3, from first section of the book ‘The Task’, titled Shop Organisation.

Pannekoek describes what faces workers when they seize their workplaces, and what is required of them in their struggle. He goes on to describe what form the shop organisation will take.

 Second reading here / Third reading here

Workers’ Councils is in the public domain. It is available from AK Press

Mark Stevens is part of Project for a Participatory Society – United Kingdom (PPS-UK)

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