Politics Under Socialism

by J. David Edelstein

[This is an uncut, pre-publication version of "Politics Under Socialism", which appeared in the journal Against the Current, Sept./Oct. 1991. For quotations please use the published version or mention this version.]

Recent writings in Against the Current emphasized the need for a coherent vision of a workable socialist future. Only in recent years has a discussion of some quite theoretical and hypothetical models for a socialist economy been legitimated on the revolutionary left, including ideas which go far beyond positive historical experience. This piece is hopefully the beginning of a similar discussion of an overall socialist political structure and process for the governance of a large, modern society.1

In this discussion I take for granted that self-management at the workplace and community levels is the indispensable basis, and criterion, for a system that can meaningfully be called socialism; there is no socialism without such self-management. However, self-management in itself defines neither the economic nor the political basis for overall societal coordination and governance.

I will attempt to show that some of the Leninist-derived and councilist-socialist (or -communist) proscriptions and prescriptions regarding governance and politics under socialism are incompatible with a viable and communicable image of a socialist society — something sorely needed at present.

In the context of such criticism I will make some positive programmatic suggestions. These proposals state or imply general principles for an overall socialist political structure, and readers may first wish to consider them at that level. However most can be concretized and advocated now, in their own right, as transitional demands towards socialism. With old institutions crumbling inEastern Europe and theSoviet Union, and new ones not yet fully in place, some of these democratic transitional demands (which do not, separately, seem to require socialism) might gain a sympathetic hearing. In theUnited States, certain of them might find favor especially among people of color and women, and in the labor movement. Collectively the proposals — principles and demands — contribute towards an overall image of socialism. But first it is necessary to deal with a common bias against what has been called, with a negative connotation, “utopianism.”



Many American revolutionary socialists were raised on certain limiting shibboleths concerning the future socialist society, one being that history itself would throw up the appropriate forms for socialist governance. Attempts to suggest an overall political structure for socialism were, at best, listened to tolerantly, and then dismissed: such discussions could not add to the (positively regarded) experience of the Russian revolution, and could not betaken seriously until after further revolutions, which would provide their own lessons. Lenin’s succinct statement to this effect, made before the Russian revolution, has often been cited: “There is no trace of Utopianism in Marx, in the sense of inventing or imagining a ‘new’ society. No, he studies, as a process of natural history, the birth of the new society from the old, the forms of transition from the latter to the former”(emphasis in original).2

But history has not yet given us a positive example of overall democratic socialist governance. The superstructure built upon the local soviets of the Russian revolution had barely come into existence before emergency measures, and then degeneration, undermined its possibilities.3  I will also show that this superstructure had some inherent flaws. When history does provide us with a positive example, I think its “lesson” will be largely a product of self-conscious reflection and then trial and error. Constitutions do not arise as spontaneously as workers’ councils.

The crude anti-”utopian” view, common on the left, implies that neither informed common sense nor the social sciences have much to offer, nor is there any room for creative inspiration. It is impossible to meet the constructive needs of the socialist movement today while adhering to such ideas


Until recently, at least, the content of decision-making under a socialist state has been viewed by most socialists as concerned overwhelmingly with the administration of the economy (and secondarily, perhaps, with the residue of the class struggle).This has been contributed towards by formulations such as this, from Engels, which Lenin quotes in his State and Revolution:

“The first act in which the state really comes forward as the representative of society as a whole — the seizure of the means of production in the name of society — is at the same time its last independent act as a state. The interference of a state power in social relations becomes superfluous in one sphere after another, and then becomes dormant of itself. Government over persons is replaced by the administration of things and the direction of the process of production” (emphasis added).

This view is incompatible with the nature of the country’s and world’s problems of today and tomorrow. Secondly, characterizing problems under socialism as administrative would tend to depoliticize not only the issues but the public, and facilitate the growth of a managerial oligarchy.

On the CONTENT of politics under socialism, there are some obvious areas for policy-making which bear heavily on social relations, and are certainly not primarily administrative. For example, how massive and rapid an effort to remove the material and social effects of racism and sexism? How much to develop depressed areas within theU.S.? How much to aid developing nations? Should the ecological crisis be regarded as severe enough to require a declining standard of living? What portion of the national income should be assigned to current consumption? The various claims upon the national income are bound to be large and incompatible –there will be only so much to spread around.

And how should these things be accomplished? Through what kinds of technology, educational systems, changed residential arrangements and other (perhaps major) changes in life-styles?

Concerning differentials in pay and social status, and the division of labor in which these are rooted: How far and how fast should changes be made in an egalitarian direction?

More generally, differences in values and interests, as well as over the formulation of major problems and the means to resolve them, will continue to be sources of controversy under socialism, and require a political structure suitable for resolving such questions..


This political structure for a socialist state, which uses indirect elections to fill its higher levels, is the preferred, generally assumed form among Leninist-derived, councilist and syndicalist tendencies. The mythology of the “example” of the Russian revolution helps account for this. The most appealing and romantic picture of a workers’ state within direct elections incorporates workers’ councils. Rosa Luxemburg’s call for such a state inGermanyin 1918, during revolutionary times, embodies such features:

“1. [E]stablishment of a united GermanSocialistRepublic.”2. Elimination of all parliaments and municipal councils, and takeover of their functions by workers’ and soldiers’ councils, and the latter’s committees and organs.”3. Election of workers’ councils…in the city and the countryside, by enterprises, as well as soldiers’ councils…The right of workers and soldiers to recall their representatives at any time.”4. Election of delegates of [from] the workers’ and soldiers’ councils in the entire country to the Central Council of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils, which is to elect the executive council  as the highest organ of the legislative and executive power.”5. …Right of the executive council to appoint and dismiss the people’s commissioners as well as the central national authorities and officials” (emphasis added).4

However the direct representation of workers’ councils (or enterprises) in a central council is totally impracticable in a large country. For example, the 1922 All-Russian Congress of Soviets consisted of 2,215 delegates, elected on the constitutional basis of one delegate for every 25,000 urban voters, and one per 125,000 population (not voters) from grouped “village” soviets, each of which could represent over 10,000 residents.5 This congress then elected (according to the first,1918 constitution) not more than 200 of its members to the next higher body, the Central Executive Committee, which in turn elected the Council of People’s Commissars. Obviously, few if any enterprises would have had as many as 25,000 workers at the same location. At best, place-of-work councils could send delegates directly to only their local soviet, itself a large assembly of delegates.6

A gathering of 2,000 people makes more sense as a mass meeting than as the highest policy-making body for a nation. The logistics of running a democratic, participative meeting would bean obstacle in the best of circumstances, and given a harassed or manipulative leadership the decision-making process would be particularly subject to abuse. Certainly democratic rules could improve matters, but an administration, or simply a dominant tendency, has an enormous advantage in such a large assembly. As James Madison said, in arguing against having a legislature larger than needed to fulfill its basic purpose: “The countenance of the government may become more democratic, but the soul that animates it will be more oligarchic. The machine will be enlarged, but the fewer, and often the more secret, will be the springs by which its motions are directed.” 7 At a very large meeting it is easier for a well-organized, disciplined group to exert influence, and the administration is normally such. (Picture a huge convention, as in the United Automobile Workers, with six microphones on the floor, and buttons for the chair to select which, if any, is activated. Supporters of the opposition are scattered around the large meeting hall. The administration caucus is using walky-talkies to coordinate its floor strategy, and the opposition had better do so too.)

A fair representation for minority political parties and tendencies in a national governing body is very unlikely with winner-take-all local elections followed by the indirect election of still higher representatives, and even less likely when there is an entrenched administration: (1) It would be very difficult for an opposition to find candidates for delegates in each of the 2,000+ soviets (let alone in each of the workplaces represented in the local soviets). (2) The election of candidates two or three levels above the local level would not be uppermost in the minds of many voters, since there are likely to be parochial reasons for selecting delegates. (3) Many of the candidates at higher levels, and no doubt some of their points of disagreement, would not be known at the time of local voting. (4) The total national vote for the opposition in the local soviets would probably never be known and/or reported (recognized party labels might be lacking, for example), thus providing little encouragement for future anti-administration struggles, and diffusing pressure on the administration. With direct elections to the highest policy-making body, in contrast, local bureaucracies can be largely by-passed, the electorate’s attention is more focused on common problems, and the opposition can concentrate on getting its message across through general agitation.8

With highly indirect elections to a national congress, the ability to remove TOP representatives through “immediate recall” becomes almost meaningless, from the vantage point of rank-and-filers without a foothold in the system, or even of workers’ council members without seats in the local soviet. The process itself would be cumbersome and time-consuming, and one could not safely assume that the intermediate bodies would be as amenable to a recall as rank-and-filers. Frequent direct elections, but not to the point of voter fatigue, would better serve the purpose of allowing the replacement of representatives. Finally, a system of highly indirect national elections, with the first step often within a small local unit, is incompatible with proportional representation of political parties and tendencies in the top policy-making body. It is important that a mass representational system fully reflect the heterogeneity of opinion in a complex society.

Indirect representation was once almost unavoidable, from a technical standpoint, in large countries with dispersed, overwhelmingly peasant populations. This was certainly true at the time of the Paris Commune (1871), and possibly true forRussiain 1917. However, with the advances in modern communications, indirect representation has become technically superfluous.


The justified disparagement of bourgeois parliaments and of a purely parliamentary approach to social change has, at worst, been carried over (especially by those influenced by anarchism and syndicalism) to a generalized distrust of higher levels of representative government.9

In contrast, Lenin stated: “Without representative institutions we cannot imagine democracy, not even proletarian democracy,”10 but called bourgeois parliaments mere “talking shops” and cited Marx: “The [Paris] Commune [of 1871] was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time.”11(The latter point is also embodied in the quote from Luxemburg above.) Lenin also stated that “parliamentarians must themselves work, must themselves execute their own laws“(emphasis added), and” parliamentarism as a special system, as a division of labor between the legislative and executive functions, as a privileged position for the deputies, no longer exists. (emphasis in original).12 The image conveyed by Lenin, perhaps unintentionally, was that of each parliamentarian having dual, executive and legislative functions.

I take for granted that the top national policy-making body (parliament)13 under socialism would keep the national executives, especially the cabinet (or executive committee), fully under its control, and that the cabinet would be a collective body; this in sharp contrast to the centralized power of the prime minister in Britain, for example. This would be a sharp departure from bourgeois parliamentarism. However, in contrast to the implication of the statement by Lenin above, most members of a national parliament under socialism should be up to their ears in policy-making matters: remaining in contact with their constituents, doing or guiding background research in their selected legislative areas, reading reports, discussing and debating alternatives, formulating laws or directives, selecting the chief executives, and monitoring the executive branch, through feedback. Lenin undoubtedly had in mind a much simpler and more administrative set of problems for a socialist society than I outlined above. In applying the Paris Commune model he made the leap from a municipal to a national government.

Lenin’s apparent view in opposition to a legislative/executive division of labor seems to have been reflected or extended in the first Russian Soviet constitution of 1918, which gave the Council of People’s Commissars, the highest level of government, and two steps above the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, legislative as well as executive power.14 The result was to undermine the authority of all bodies below the Commissars. The constitution simply ratified the “self-aggrandizement of Sovnarkom [the Commissars], which had begun in the first days of the regime.”15

Workers’ councilists and syndicalists have sometimes given anti-”parliamentarism” a special twist based on their view of politics under socialism as “the process and regulation of production itself” (Pannekoek).16 The class-based group process is glorified in an almost mystical way (workplace groups are implicitly viewed as homogeneous), and representatives (if the term is used at all) are to be merely mandated delegates. Geographic representation is then ridiculed as based on decision-making by atomizedindividuals.17 Some of the flavor of these ideas often permeates the modern radical left. (See Relation to Economic Organization, later, on supra-local industrial and occupational bodies.)


Where possible the elements of an image of socialism should be portrayed as desirable in themselves, without necessarily being presented as only a part of the socialist package. In some cases these might be considered transitional demands. In others these elements appear to already exist, at least formally, in some bourgeois democracies. Together, the various democratic proposals would involve the most thorough-going democratization of society, and socialism could be characterized as radical democracy.

Thus far I have proposed that a national parliament should be of no more than moderate size, and be directly elected, by proportional representation. Some elaboration here:

Direct elections to a national parliament and regional parliaments: These can and should include intensive prior discussions within self-managed groups at work and in the community. A self-managed socialism would foster interaction and solidarity within such groups, while tending to break down parochial and conformist tendencies by facilitating the expression of controversy through the mass media, and by making the groups accessible to candidates or their supporters from outside.

Proportional representation: Minimizing the kind of procrastinations and stalemates common to bourgeois democracies will take more than the elimination of the bureaucracy and deeply entrenched vested interests inherent in class society. What is needed is a political (and social) system which fosters social creativity — which allows novel or unconventional views to behead and discussed and which facilitates their representation in parliament.

Such a political system would readily “nationalize” issues and remove many of the structural obstacles to representation. It should not be too difficult to step out from within the confines of the major parties and established institutions if necessary, and to get elected to the national parliament as a candidate of a small political organization or even as an independent. Such facilitation requires, at the very least, a system of proportional representation (PR). An institutionalized PR system would also help sustain political competition during possible periods of generalized quiescence or pessimism, when oligarchic tendencies among the leadership are apt to be accentuated. Mass participation will inevitably have its low as well as its highpoints.

Some form of PR is an accepted fact of democratic life in most of western Europe, and has even been introduced intoBulgaria. Even among bourgeois democracies there is a contrast between the liveliness of the debates in countries with PR and the political blandness in theUnited States, with its winner-take-all two-party system.

There are basically two common types of PR in use for electing parliaments, and variations which combine features of both: a list system, which at the extreme (as in Israel) allows voters to choose only among PARTIES (each party itself choosing the order in which its candidates will be elected); and a “single transferable vote” (STV) system, in which voters list their unrestricted, ordered preferences (1, 2, 3, etc.) among theCANDIDATES.18 The latter meets the criteria for flexibility and the ready bypassing of established elites or institutions.

STV-PR makes no sense unless at least three seats are filled simultaneously. In a five-seat district, a minority would win one seat if it had just over one-sixth of the vote. To visualize how a socialist parliament might be constituted, think of a 500-memberbody (hopefully an upper limit) elected from 100 regions, with five elected from each region. The weaker political groups, unable to elect their fair share on the basis of the one-sixth minimum required in each district, could be given representation on the basis of their total national vote.

As a general principle for representation, PR could gain a ready acceptance among people of color and women, who would be able to give preference to their candidates among those of the party of their choice, or to bolt and form their own slates. (Picture this agit/prop video scenario: African-American Communist win selection toNew York City’s City Council under PR system; fact, not fantasy — it happened before PR was eliminated.)

Public accountability boards for all important executives: A heightened public cynicism regarding high officials, based on such scandals as Watergate, Love Canal, Bhopal, Irangate and Savings and Loan, is only an accentuation of a long-standing American anti-elitism or populism which can help open the way for an image of socialism as radical democracy, interpreted as popular participation in all aspects of governance.

The accountability of officials should be raised to the level of a general issue, with the demand for an accountability board elected or selected by lot (as for jury duty) for each important executive post, local as well as national. Accountability to their memberships can also be demanded of the officials of unions and professional associations.

Board members could not be removed during their terms of office. Depending on the product or service, they might be drawn from various sections of the population. They would be given time off from work and paid expenses to attend meetings and familiarize themselves with the issues. And they would meet regularly with, receive reports from, question and interrogate the top official to which each board would be assigned. Boards would be funded so that they could employ outside experts when needed, and of course would have access to the media so their views (minority as well as majority) would contribute to the political process, without the boards having decision-making powers beyond the right to demand a reconsideration of a decision.19. Elected consumer utility boards have been advocated by public interest groups in some states. (Agit/prop video scenario: a public accountability board grills the chief executive officer of Exxon.)

Workers’ representatives on the boards of enterprises and government agencies:  The demand should be for at least half the seats — again a transitional demand. The election of supervisors would be another. These are primarily ways of concretizing self-management, which Lenin espoused just before the Russian revolution but shelved, forRussia in that period, shortly afterward.

Public representation on enterprise and government agency boards:  Worker-only boards of large, important enterprises or government agencies do not allow for the representation of other interests involved or for responsible social management. Representatives of the general public and/or especially affected groups should have a voice in policy-making and in public safety and welfare matters, though not in internal administration. (There could be dual boards, one for policy-making and the other for practical management/administration, as inWest Germany.) Since there will be hundreds if not thousands of important decision-making boards in the country, many of them dealing with quite specialized issues, some division of labor within the public would be necessary. Public members could be selected by lot or, in critically important cases, by the more politicized process of elections. In the latter cases the number of boards and related issues would be too numerous for the general public to follow, so sub-electorates could be chosen by lot (say, by computer) and then be given time and facilities to inform themselves on the issues and candidates. Political parties and pressure groups could involve themselves in the elections.20 (Agit/prop video scenario: a worker/public-dominated board of directors vetoes a proposed shutdown and move toMexico of a General Motors plant.)

Opportunity and expectation for political participation or public service:  Participation beyond the limits of one’s normal routine can stimulate an interest in public affairs, provide the knowledge for more informed decision-making, enhance self-confidence, and, with rotation, help create a broad stratum of politicizedcitizen-activists.21 Participation on boards as described above would be only two examples. Those who feel more comfortable with less political forms of social service would have this option, without economic loss in all cases. (Agit/prop video scenario: a bashful, apolitical and somewhat bored worker serves on the board of another enterprise, all expenses and lost-time paid, becomes interested in the affairs of the world, gains self-confidence, and brings new organizational insights back to her regular job.)

Free or low-cost access to electronic technology for networking and information: This includes not only access to the mass media(such as institutionalized public-access TV), but the opportunity for individuals to conduct discussions, publicly or privately, for example through telephone conference calls, computer “bulletin boards” or on a one-to-one basis. Networking among economic enterprises, leading to collaboration, could be encouraged by incentives to put their production data and plans on-line in standardized formats, thus providing supplements to “the market”, “regulation”, or more organized planning.


The proposals above are general enough to be compatible with various degrees of decentralization and levels of consumption, and various mixes of means to coordinate the economy, excluding detailed comprehensive planning.22 A national self-management council might exist in parallel with the national parliament, with the latter retaining the ultimate power as arbiter and decision-maker. There would probably be needed some multi-level economic associations, by industry and/or region, with technical/managerial functions. If a heavy involvement of hands-on managers and experts were needed, a pyramidal structure with some indirect representation could not be ruled out. How to minimize the growth of a coordinating technical/bureaucratic elite beyond the local level, possibly divorced from the democratic process, is an important question. Parts of the answer seem to be to minimize the functions actually required of these supra-local industrial/economic bodies; to make their decisions only advisory or subject to being overruled by parliamentary bodies; and to somehow reduce the complexity of the problems dealt with so non-specialists could replace the elite. Finally, socialists should advocate democratic structures and processes in unions and occupational/professional associations, in my view not unlike those for general societal governance.

The dispersed logistics of the revolutionary situation in which workers’ and popular councils arise may require, and spontaneously result in, the indirect, pyramidal form of governance for the initial consolidation of popular power. (The same applies to the growth of a rank-and-file movement prior to a revolutionary situation.) I have tried to show how this is far from optimal forNATIONAL governance, and perhaps even incompatible with an institutionalized socialist democracy. In any case it cannot be claimed that history has provided us with this as an answer.

In earlier times, when there was a widespread belief in socialism’s imminence and desirability, there seemed to be less need to fill in its structures. Today there is little understanding of what is meant by socialism, and much skepticism about its feasibility and desirability. A program which incorporates and to some extent exemplifies basic principles can contribute greatly to understanding and eventual acceptance, as well as offer a guide for future application. There is also room for more discursive illustrations, like those which fired the popular imagination in the past. The construction of an outline and an image for a socialist society is a creative act, and to play a role in history these must be worked up and put over.23


1. For helpful reviews of drafts I would like to thank Ron Ehrenreich, Samuel Farber, David Finkel, Ruth Greenberg-Edelstein and Arthur Paris.
2. V.I. Lenin, STATE ANDREVOLUTION,New York: International Publishers, 1932, p. 42. Although Lenin was here attacking what we would today call social democracy, as well as anarchism, Karl Kautsky had made similar statements. Marx was more opposed to detailed blueprints than to general ideas. See Hal Draper, KARL MARX’STHEORY OF REVOLUTION, VOL. 1 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977, especially pp. 101-5) for Marx’s views on utopianism.
3. Extrapolations to a large, modern, stable democratic socialist structure, from the program and fleeting experiences of the 1871 Paris Commune and the Russian revolution, could also be called “utopian.” At best they involve considerable conjecture.
4. “What Does the Spartacus League Want?” in Dick Howard, Ed., SELECTED POLITICAL WRITINGS OF ROSA LUXEMBURG,New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971, p. 373. (This is attributed to Luxemburg by the editor.) Since this was a proposal during a revolutionary situation, and seems justified in that light, it cannot be said that this represents Luxemburg’s post-revolutionary model. Nevertheless such proposals are still reflected in the thinking of much of the socialist left. See Luxemburg’s pamphlet, THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION (New York: Workers Age, 1940, pp. 35-38) for her advocacy of general elections not necessarily within the soviet model.
5. See E. H. Carr, THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION, 1917-1923, VOL.1,Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966, PP. 136, 140, 144-5, 153-9, 405. Of course the “village” soviets, and hence the peasantry, were under-represented in the Congress. The equivalent to the executive council under the 1924 constitution of theUSSRhad 371delegates, plus another 131 in a second chamber, the Council of Nationalities. Real power for the soviets was quickly lost, especially beyond the local level. See C. Sirianni, WORKERS CONTROL AND SOCIALIST DEMOCRACY: THE SOVIETEXPERIENCE,London: Verso, 1982, especially Chs. 4 and 6.
6. In a large city, many workplaces would be too small for direct representation in even the local soviet, thus making representation even more indirect. In theU.S.in 1986, 35% of employees were in businesses with fewer than 100 workers (New York Times, May 9, 1990, p. D-2).
7. James Madison, “No. 58:Madison”, in Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, THE FEDERALISTPAPERS,New York:MentorBooks, The New American Library of World Literature, 1961, pp. 360-361.
8. The arguments here have also been made for large unions like the Auto Workers. See J.D. Edelstein, “Referendum Voting Is More Democratic”, LABOR NOTES, #125 (Aug. 1989), p. 11, and J.D.Edelstein and M. Warner, COMPARATIVE UNION DEMOCRACY:ORGANISATION AND OPPOSITION IN BRITISH AND AMERICAN UNIONS,New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1979, pp. 75-79.
9. Strong anti-parliamentary sentiment among Bolsheviks was reflected in syndicalist views among some of them in 1918. Some objected to any form of regional (non-industrial) government. See Carr, pp. 137-9.
10. Lenin, p.41.
11. Lenin, p. 40. But Marx added, in the next two sentences (also quoted by Lenin, p. 37), that “the officials of all…branches of the administration” were “turned into the responsible and at all times revocable agent[s] of the Commune.”
12. Lenin, p. 41.
13. “Parliament” is preferred here to “congress” (although not necessarily in more popular writings) because it implies the election of the chief executives by the legislative body.
14. See Carr, pp. 154-5.
15. Carr, p. 221. Lenin argued that combining legislative and executive functions was an antidote to bureaucracy, but others have argued that a genuinely deliberative parliamentary body is needed to organize bureaucratic accountability. See Sirianni, who also argues that the “fusion of powers served as a rationalization for the nearly complete preoccupation of soviet bodies with administration and propaganda” (p. 303).
16. Quoted in S. Bricianer, PANNEKOEK AND THEWORKERS’COUNCILS,St. Louis: Telos Press, 1978, p.278.
17. See Bricianer, pp. 275-8. In addition, the role assigned to political parties is minimized or even objected to, even more explicitly by Castoriadis than by Pannekoek, since “The parallel existence of both Councils and political groups would imply that a part of real political life would be taking place elsewhere than in the Councils” (C. Castoriadis,WORKERS COUNCILS AND THE ECONOMICS OF A SELF-MANAGED SOCIETY.Philadelphia: Wooden Shoe Pamphlet, Philadelphia Solidarity, 1984, p.47). An institutionalized system of exclusively workplace-based suffrage was opposed forRussiaby Luxemburg on the grounds that it would disenfranchise broad sections of society. See R. Luxemburg, THE RUSSIANREVOLUTION,New York: Workers Age, 1940, pp. 41-2.
18. See E. Lakeman and J.D. Lambert, VOTING IN DEMOCRACIES,London: Faber and Faber, 1959, especially Chs. V and VI.New York Cityhad PR between 1936 and 1947, and two Communist Party councilpersons, one an African-American, were elected (pp. 213-15).
19. The 1918 Russian soviet constitution had each People’s Commissar report to “a ‘collegium’ of five persons, apparently in the capacity of lay assessors, who had a right of appeal” to the Commissars collectively or to the Central Executive Committee. Under the circumstances of centralized power, “it proved of little practical significance” (Carr, p. 158).
20. See my ” ‘Consumer’ Representation on Corporate Boards: The Structure of Representation”, in E. Pusic, Ed., PARTICIPATION AND SELF-MANAGEMENT, VOL. 2, First International Sociological Conference on Participation and Self-Management, 13-17 Dec. 1972,Zagreb: Institute for Social Research, University of Zagreb, pp.73-81. For a copy send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
21. There is room for a considerable expansion of the demand for rotation, especially in executive posts. But representatives of very small political groupings, and (often gadfly) independents, should be exempt from parliamentary rotation, since in some such cases the public’s attention can be focused only through the medium of the public personalities.
22. Comprehensive planning starting from below, advocated by some councilists, would lead to information overload and conflicts of interest which would result in higher levels being forced into decisions not approved by factory or enterprise councils. It is also impractical See J. Kosta, “Socialist Economic Systems and Participation in Decisions”, in AUTOGESTION ET SOCIALISME, Vol. 41-42, pp.201-225 (in English).
23. Paraphrased from J.H. Robinson, THE MIND IN THE MAKING,New York: Harper & Row, 1950, p. 53.