Version Two, Communism and its Tactics by Sylvia Pankhurst
The function of the Workers’ Councils, or Soviets, is to administer and co-ordinate production, transport and distribution.
The functional units of the Soviets are the groups of workers of all grades, including those who are doing organising or managerial work, in the engineering, textile, or boot factory, the dockyard, the mine, the farm, the warehouse, the distributive centre, the printery, the laundry, the restaurant, and the domestic workers, whether engaged in the hotel or communal house or the individual dwellings — so long as individual dwellings continue to exist.
The generally accepted theoretical structure of the Soviets is as follows :
The Workshop Council, comprising all the workers in the shop.
The Factory Council, comprising delegates from the Workshop Council.
The Sub-District Council, comprising ll the delegates from the District Councils.
The District Council, comprising delegates from the Sub-District Councils.
The National Council, comprising delegates from the District Councils.
Inter-Industrial Sub-District Councils, comprising delegates from the Sub-District Councils of each industry.
Inter-Industrial District Councils, comprising delegates from the Inter-Industrial District Councils.
National Inter-Industrial Council, comprising delegates from the Inter-Industrial District Councils, or in part, from the Industrial District Councils, in part from the National Industry Councils, and in part from delegates elected by sub-district mass meetings or Shop Councils.
There is thus a dual machinery :
1. For the organisation and co-ordination of each industry and service.
2. For the linking together of all industries and services.
The Soviet organisation must be tested and judged by its efficiency in supplying the needs of the people and in enabling the work itself to be healthy and enjoyable to those who take part in it.
The Workshop Councils, the councils of actual producers, must preserve complete autonomy and power of initiative, sense of responsibility and pride in the adequacy of their work. Their business and their object would be to serve the community by supplying what the people need and desire, as and when it is required.
We speak of the Workshop Councils, but under a normal state of Communism the Councils will meet only when new arrangements, plans, and ideas are to be considered and elaborated. At other times the members of the Works Council will apply themselves to their respective tasks. The managerial function will almost cease to exist in a community where all the workers in an enterprise are educated, willing co-operators in a common plan, but such managerial or directive work as may be needed will be done by those who have been chosen by their co-workers, not as a manager in the present sense, but as a leader in skill, a teacher and guide.
The Sub-District, District, and National Industrial Councils, and the various Inter-Industrial Councils, will also only meet when there are new arrangements to make, and for periodical consultation and report. Their function will be to to establish co-ordinating machinery, bureaux, telephone exchanges, as it were, between the sources of raw material and the workshops on the one hand, and the consumers of the product of the workshops on the other. The national bureaux will be responsible for import and distribution to the main supply stores of the larger areas, the sub-district bureaux will be the agencies to which the workshops will apply for their requirements.
It will not be the business of the national, district and sub-district Councils to command and direct the Workshops’ Councils. The latter will be master of their craft, and fully competent to exercise it. Dictation from the so-called “higher Councils” will neither be needed, nor would it be accepted. There will be no conflict of class interest; all will be working towards a common end. The co-ordinating Councils, however — for it is as co-ordinating links that the District, Sub-District and National Councils will function — will, however, collect and distribute information amongst the districts. New discoveries will be notified to their bureaux. They will preserve technical data for reference as it may be required by any of the workshops. They will estimate and procure the supplies of raw material and finished products required.
In considering the Soviet organisation under Communism, it must always be born in mind that the social classes will have disappeared, that the economic interests of the people will be identical, and that therefore the clash of interests which keeps the members of the present legislative and administrative bodies interminably wrangling and speechifying will be no more.
Under Communism the arguments which will arise in the Soviets will be as to the efficacy of this or that technical process, as to whether this or that proposed innovation will increase or improve production — an end desired by all.
The network of committees of delegates which makes up the framework of the Soviets and links the many productive groups, and also individual producers, should not be regarded as a rigid cast-iron machinery, but as a convenient means of transacting necessary business, a practical method of organisation which gives everyone the opportunity of a voice in social management.
The various members of a community are dependent upon each other. The cotton spinning mill is operated by a number of groups of workers in the spinning mill who are dependent for the execution of their work on the cotton growers, the railwaymen, the mariners, the dockers, who provide them with the raw material of their trade. They are dependent on machine-makers, miners, electricians and others for the machinery of spinning and the power to run it, and on the weaver, the bleacher, the dyer, the printer, the garment worker and upholsterer to complete the work they have begun. In order that the spinners may do their work they are also dependent on builders, decorators, furniture makers, food producers, garment makers, and innumerable others.
The Soviets will supply an efficiency that is impossible in an industry which, on the one hand, is maintained solely from the motive of making money, competition being the only check to the supply of inferior goods and the desire to make profits a constant incentive thereto; and which, on the other hand, is carried on by wage workers, who work only to win their wages, and whose poor up-bringing, low wages, and extended hours of labour do not permit them to possess either complete health or an adequate education. The will to work, in the workers, the sense of mutuality between the producer and those for whom the goods are produced, which the Capitalist vainly seeks today in Whitley Councils, profit sharing, bonuses, and so on, will be a matter of course under Communism and the Soviets.