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A workers' council is a council, or deliberative body, composed of working class or proletarian members. While the term may include instances where employers negotiate with workers, or workers deliberate without power, the most common use of the term is to describe self-governing workers without bosses.
Workers' councils have arisen repeatedly through modern history with a variety of names. Notable instances include the Soviet Union during 1917, where the councils were called "soviets", Spain during 1936, Hungary during 1956, France during 1968, Chile in 1973 ("cordones"), Iran during 78-79 ("shoras") and Venezuela since shortly after 1998.
The key features of a workers' council include the phenomenon that a single place of work (factory, school, farm) is controlled collectively by the workers of that workplace. There is no manager, or the manager is direcly under the control of the workers' council, and the composition of the workers council is determined by the workers who comprise it.
Workers' councils have also affiliated and formed higher bodies for coordinating between one another. These bodies usually operate on the principle of recallable delegates; that is, elected delegates may be recalled at any time through a vote.
Many Marxists believe that workers' councils embody the fundamental principles of socialism, such as workers' control over production and workers' control of the state. Indeed, some have argued against the "socialism from above" in recent history - that is, a centralized state run by a bureaucratic apparatus in the interests of this apparatus. They counterpose this with the notion of "socialism from below", which holds that socialism can only be achieved through the self-administration and self-rule of the working class.
Some notable advocates of a society based on workers' councils are the council communist movement, various anarcho-syndicalist and anarcho-communist groups, and some Trotskyist groups (such as the International Socialist Organization). A modern proposal for a democratically organised economy, participatory economics, is also based on workers' (and consumers') councils.
See also: soviet
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