Root & Branch Magazine

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Root & Branch Pamphlets

Lessons of the Student Strike

I Don't Want to Change My Lifestyle... by Peggy Hopper

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Last Updated Summer, 2003

Site Maintained by: Aeolus Press

Council communism developed in Germany and the Netherlands in the early 1920s, spreading to the United States due to the immigration of workers and thinkers sympathetic to its goals. Council communism is a version of communism antithetical to the Leninist notion of a vanguard party leading the workers to revolution. The central tenet of councilist thought is that workers can and should organize themselves, using workers councils as the foundation of their political organization.

The writer most associated with council communism is the Dutch astronomer Anton Pannekoek; his book Workers Councils is a foundational text for the movement. The other person associated with council communism was Paul Mattick (1904-1981). During the 1930s, he was the driving force behind the journals International Council Correspondence, New Essays, and Living Marxism - all important forums for anti-Bolshevik communist thought.

Council communism enjoyed a revival in the 1960s and 1970s as its emphasis on self-emancipation and direct democracy appealed to a new generation of radicals. In 1970, a group of councilist individuals came together to publish a magazine and pamphlet series called Root & Branch. Their early members included Jeremy Brecher, Paul Mattick, Jr., Peter Rachleff, and Stanley Aronowitz. Root & Branch was published in ten issues beginning in 1970 and ending in 1981. The eventual goal of this site is to make them all available on the web so that those who are working for direct democracy today may better learn from the successes and failures of the past.