11/2016: New book on communes and workers' control; commons; Venezuela...

http://www.azzellini.net  -  facebook: Dario Azzellini

10/2016, Dario Azzellini's newsletter in English

0. Before: What's up in Venezuela?

1. New Books:

      "Communes and Workers' Control in Venezuela  Building 21st Century Socialism from Below" (OUT NOW)

      "An Alternative Labour History. Worker Control and Workplace Democracy" (Zed Books, 2015)

2. Academic articles: Book chapters and journal articles (English/German/Italian)

       Labour as a Commons and more...

3. Videos/Audios (English/Deutsch)

4. Interviews and press articles ((English/Polish/Spanish/Turkish)

5. Events (İstanbul)


0. Before


What's up in Venezuela: Parlamentary coup? Chavista rank&file storm National Assembly.

Very complex and complicated situation in Venezuela. We hear the recall referendum is called off? The National Assembly and its opposition majority wat to impeach Maduro? On monday Chavista rank and file stormed the National Assembly in order to prevent the right wing majority to impeach President Maduro. Huge mobilizations to overthrow Maduro and against took place during the past days. Friday a strike called by the opposition failed, not even the notoriously anti-government chamber of commerce supported the strike. What is happening in Venezuela?

The National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela suspended t the next step of the signature collection for the Recall Referendum against Maduro. At least five regional courts had suspended the regional processes because more than a third of the signatures collected in the first round (where the opposition had to reach 1% of the electorate in each state) were false. So the next step of the referendum was called off and several opposition leaders were suspended from travelling to the exterior while the investigation for fraud against them is happening. Let's analyze what is happening on the legal and the political level.

Contrary to all complaints from right and left I think that the procedure to stop the referendum can be justified in line with the law and constitution. That it is legal does not mean it is politically convenient or right. I think in fact it is a political mistake to postpone or prevent the recall referendum from happening. An "impeachment", that means that the parliament induces a juridical process against the president and takes him/her out of office (as it happened in Brazil, Paraguay and Honduras) does not exist in Venezuela. Therefore all declarations by the opposition that are picked up and repeated by the international media, are total nonsense and illegal.

If we look at the details I dare to express that the opposition has the result she wanted and the government keeps stepping into traps the opposition is setting up.
Since the recall referendum signature collection started it seems likely that the opposition is not interested in having a recall referendum and taking over the government. They cannot change the Oil prices and will not want to be in a position to be blamed for the crisis and the incapacity to solve it just 2 years before presidential elections. They want to win the next presidential elections.
Why did the opposition start the process of collecting the signatures so late that it was already very improbable to have it happening in 2016 (if the recall referendum happens in 2017 the time to the next elections is so short that by law - if Maduro loses - the Vice President takes over until the next regular elections)? It could have started the recollection in January and made sure the referendum can happen in 2016.

The opposition needed only 1% of the electorate's signatures in the first round (some 120.000 signatures) but presented 2.5 million signatures. That delayed the time to proof the signatures unnecessarily. Moreover more than a third of the signatures were false. Since the recollection is based on the elections registrations lists and is counterchecked with personal ID, 30% of false signatures cannot be a human mistake but indicate an organized and systematic fraud perpetrated by the referendum organizers. Beyond the fact that only one out of the 3 big currents of the opposition party MUD officially supported the referendum (the others did not even sign!), most of the opposition did not support nor ever believe in the referendum.

Is this dilettantish behavior of the opposition making it as easy as possible to stop the referendum because of legal reasons due to the deeply divided and competing opposition or is it intentional to create conditions under which the Maduro government and the courts can argue that the referendum does not fulfil the legal base... even if the government and courts are legally right, it appears internationally as a "new attempt by Maduro to eliminate democracy". But it is also politically wrong to postpone or stop the recall referendum. The possibility of a recall referendum is an important and innovative element of Venezuelan democracy. Chávez himself won a recall referendum overwhelmingly. Maduro will for sure not achieve the same result, but it is also not certain that he will lose even if he and the government are highly unpopular.

Said that, it has to be underlined that the Maduro government has not been convincing in solving the crisis, and less in communicating its own policies to the rank&file. The answers so far have not been leftist, anticyclical, rank & file oriented or participatory but rather a classical authoritarian developmentalist and state oriented model trying to avoid cuts to social expenses. It tries to lure investments into the country by opening mining to transnational corporations. There is therefore a huge mistrust and rejection of the Maduro government among the rank&file. But the opposition is definetely no alternative and no leftist alternative has taken shape or consolidated so far. A recall referendum would therefore not solve any of the problems Venezuela has (from economic to leadership crisis and crisis of the political project).

The right orchestrated everything in order to perpetuate, similarly to Brazil, Honduras, Paraguay... a "parliamentary coup". The connection with the referendum is casual. The argument the right uses for the impeachement of Maduro is that he did neglect the country because he travelled to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

It is therefore good and understandable that the rank & file mobilized and occupied the National Assembly in order to avoid a situation that from the outside would have looked as Dilma's impeachment in Brazil. Videos and pictures form the National Assembly show that it weren't "Chavista thugs" or "armed colectivos responding to the government" that stormed the National Assembly, but simple people from the poorest neighborhoods, especially many women over 50 years of age. During the coming mobilizations many people will become active that are very critical or opposed to Maduro and his government, but definitely do not want the right to be back in power. That will obviously not solve the crisis in Venezuela, neither will the Maduro government (at least not in a socialist and participatory way). If the right fails with its ambitions to provoke a system colaps in Venezuela, the most urging question will be if the rank & file in Venezuela can now and in the future also mobilize for a change of politics of the government.


Critical Sociology published my article on "Labour as a Commons"!  and Latin American Perspectives published my article "Class Struggle in the Bolivarian Process Workers’ Control and Workers’ Councils"!!! (see 2)


My new book on Venezuela "Communes and Workers' Control in Venezuela. Building 21st Century Socialism from Below" has been published by Brill! It is already available with the publisher. In 2017 it will be published at a much cheaper price by Haymarket as paperback (see 1).

The book covers the time between 1998 and 2014. Nevertheless, even in the midth of the multiple crisis Venezuela is suffering, which is fostered by the low oil prices, the violence of the opposition, the economic war waged by private entrepreneurs, political and economic attacks by the US, corruption and missing counter measures by the government... the positive examples of how to overcome the crisis and the capitalist rentist and extracitvist model come from the communes and the initiatives in favor of workers control.


All the best,

Dario Azzellini


1. New Books (English):

Dario Azzellini: Communes and Workers' Control in Venezuela. "OUT NOW"
Building 21st Century Socialism from Below. Brill. Novermber 2016.

In Communes and Workers' Control in Venezuela: Building 21st Century Socialism from Below, Dario Azzellini offers an account of the Bolivarian Revolution from below. While authors on Venezuela commonly concentrate on former president Hugo Chávez and government politics, this book shows how workers, peasants and the poor in urban communities engage in building 21st century socialism through popular movements, communal councils, communes and fighting for workers' control. In a relationship of cooperation and conflict with the state, social transformation is approached on 'two tracks', from below and from above. Azzellini’s fascinating account stands out because of the extensive empirical examples and original voices from movements, communal councils, communes and workers.

Out in now with Brill and in 2017 as paperback with Haymarket.

Read more and see table of content:


Online book:



"An Alternative Labour History. Worker Control and Workplace Democracy"

Dario Azzellini (Ed.), Preface by Jeremy Brecher, 352 pages, ISBN: 9781783601547, £18.99 / $27.95,

The global financial crisis has led to a new shop floor militancy. Radical forms of protest and new workers' takeovers have sprung-up all over the globe. In the US, Republic Windows and Doors started production under worker control in January 2013, later that year workers in Greece took over and managed, on their own, a hotel, a hospital, a newspaper, a TV channel and a factory.

The dominant revolutionary left has viewed workers' control as part of a system necessary during a transition to socialism. Yet most socialist and communist parties have neglected to promote workers' control as it challenges the centrality of parties and it is in this spirit that trade unions, operating through the institutional frameworks of government, have held a monopoly over labor history.

Tracing Marx's writings on the Paris Commune through council communism, anarcho-syndicalism, Italian operaismo, and other 'heretical' left currents, this book uncovers the practices and intentions of historical and contemporary autonomous workers' movements that have been largely obscured until now....

George Ciccariello-Maher, Drexel University, author of "We created Chávez":

'Dario Azzellini has emerged as arguably the most important contemporary analyst of worker self-management. Casting a critical eye toward non-revolutionary forms of workers' control, Azzellini and the contributors to this volume enrich our understanding while pressing us ever more toward the radical and transformative experiences in workplace management that have become a resurgent hallmark of our moment.'

Read more and see table of content:



Read chapter 2: Contemporary Crisis and Workers Control

Chapter taken from “An Alternative Labour History” | Edited by Dario Azzellini and published by Zed Books

During the first decade of the current century, factory occupations and production under workers’ control seemed to be limited mainly to South America, with a few exceptions in Asia...



2. Academic articles: Book chapters and journal articles (English/German/Italian)

Azzellini, Dario (2016): Class Struggle in the Bolivarian Process Workers’ Control and Workers’ Councils, In: Latin American Perspectives, 0094582X16666016, August 22, 2016

Workers’ initiatives and government measures in Venezuela to increase workers’ participation in the management of their companies sharply contrast with institutional actions that intend to inhibit and reduce such participation. Despite this, the movement for workers’ control in Venezuela has grown in recent years and achieved some important victories in conflicts in state companies.



Azzellini, Dario (2016): "Labour as a Commons: The Example of Worker-Recuperated Companies". In: Critical Sociology, 1–14, DOI: 10.1177/0896920516661856.

This article argues that labour can be understood as a commons, located in the discussion of how commons can advance the transformation of social relations and society. To manage labour as a commons entails a shift away from the perception of labour power as the object of capital’s value practices, towards a notion of labour power as a collectively and sustainably managed resource for the benefit of society. Given that social change is largely a result of social struggle, it is crucial to examine germinal forms of labour as a commons present in society. I focus my analysis on worker-recuperated companies in Latin America and Europe. Worker-recuperated companies are enterprises self-managed by their workers after the owners close them down. Despite operating within the hegemonic capitalist market, they do not adopt capitalist rationality and are proven viable. Worker-recuperated companies offer a new perspective on labour as a commons.



Azzellini, Dario (2016): “The Communal State (Venezuela): Communal Councils and Workplace Democracy”. In: DuRand, Cliff (Editor): Moving Beyond Capitalism. New York: Routledge.

The book speaks to the widespread quest for concrete alternative ways forward 'beyond capitalism' in the face of the prevailing corporatocracy and a capitalist system in crisis. It examines a number of institutions and practices now being built in the nooks and crannies of present societies and that point beyond capitalism toward a more equal, participatory, and democratic society – institutions such as cooperatives, public banks, the commons, economic democracy. This seminal collection of critical studies draws on academic and activist voices from the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and Argentina, and from a variety of theoretical-political perspectives – Marxism, anarchism, feminism, and Zapatismo.



Paramilitarismus in Kolumbien – Der illegale bewaffnete Arm der Eliten und des Kapitals, amerika21.de, 22.06.2016

Der Paramilitarismus ist ein strategisches Projekt und ein integraler Bestandteil des Staates

Die Paramilitärs in Kolumbien sind der bewaffnete Arm der Eliten, der von allen staatlichen Behörden, auf sämtlichen Verwaltungsebenen und in allen sozialen Schichten unterstützt wird oder damit verwoben ist. Sie wurden mithilfe der kolumbianischen Armee, mehrerer kolumbianischer und US-amerikanischer Geheimdienste und von Söldnern gebildet. Der Paramilitarismus ist ein strategisches Projekt und ein integraler Bestandteil des Staates. Die Paramilitärs spielen eine zentrale Rolle bei der Durchsetzung eines kapitalistischen neoliberalen Wirtschafts- und Gesellschaftsmodells mit enormen Verdienstspannen.

Der Beitrag ist erschienen in Ugalde, Alexander; Freytter-Florian, Jorge (Hg.): "Gegenwart und Zulunft Kolumbiens in Zeiten der Hoffnung" (Presente y futuro de Colombia en tiempos de esperanzas). Donostia: Servicio Editorial de la Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (UPV/EHU)



Azzellini, Dario; Castronovo, Alioscia. “Fabbriche recuperate e nuova istituzionalità Mutualistica.” De Nicola, Alberto; Quattrocchi, Biagio (Eds.) (2016): Sindacalismo sociale. Lotte e invenzioni istituzionali nella crisi europea. Roma: DeriveAprrodi, 128-149.

Dentro questo lungo ciclo di crisi, in diversi paesi europei, sembrano prendere corpo inedite forme di partecipazione politica e di lotta sociale. Ben lungi dall’essere semplicemente reazioni difensive contro le politiche di austerità, di smantellamento del welfare state universale, di compressione dei salari, di aumento della precarizzazione del lavoro e dell’impoverimento, queste lotte presentano un carico di sperimentazione e innovazione capace forse di imprimere una nuova fisionomia alle forme di organizzazione dei conflitti sociali. Pratiche di riappropriazione del reddito e autogestione dei servizi, esperimenti di mutualismo, nuove forme di conflitti sul lavoro e per il salario, esperienze costituenti di nuove istituzionali autonome, fino ad arrivare all’ipotesi di costruzione di inedite soggettività politiche che reinventano lo spazio della rappresentanza istituzionale e del governo.

Contributi di: Adalgiso Amendola, Marco Assennato, Dario Azzellini e Alioscia Castronovo, Alberto De Nicola e Biagio Quattrocchi, Veronica Gago e Sandro Mezzadra, Michael Hardt, Toni Negri, Francesco Raparelli e Cristian Sica, Raúl Sanchez Cedilo e Lotta Meri Pirita Tenhunen.



3. Videos/Audios (English/German)

Dario Azzellini - Production and Common - What are we talking about?

Altra News: 19.03.2016, 16 min.

Commons is determined by the wish of stakeholders to govern a resource together, a principle which contests property rights on this resource. Nevertheless, the term resource is misleading, since the commons depends on activity, on using and taking care, agreeing on rules and finding systems to regulate use and access in order to create a sustainable common. Therefore, there is no commons without commoning (Linebaugh 2008). While originally applied to natural resources, the concept of commons or commoning has been extended to other spheres in recent years. We want to apply this political concept to labour and production in a mainly urban context. For that we recur to a practice coming from the global South, mainly Latin America, which spread to the global North during the contemporary crisis: Workers’ recuperations of closed down companies. In this context it is also interesting to look at how the workers themselves in the recuperated companies develop a link between the social and the ecological question.




4. Interviews and press articles (English/Spanish)

Roar Magazine Issue #2
Workers’ Control in the Crisis of Capitalism
In February 2016, a dozen former workers of a small woodworks plant in the small Greek town of Patrida, some 60 kilometers from Thessaloniki, had had enough. Since 2008 they had been tricked by the owners. With a promise to pay back everything soon, the bosses did not pay the workers their full salary anymore, reduced working hours and announced bankruptcy without making it official. But the situation never improved and the workers never saw their money. Finally, in December 2015, the plant closed. The debt accumulated by the company in terms of unpaid salaries currently stands at around 700,000 euros.
Read more:
Article in Polish:
nowyobywatel 29.09.2016: Tekst pierwotnie ukazał się na stronie internetowej roarmag.org
Jak pracownicy przejmują kontrolę w dobie kryzysu kapitalizmu
W lutym 2016 roku kilkunastu byłych pracowników zakładu obróbki drewna w niewielkiej greckiej miejscowości Patrida, około 60 kilometrów od Salonik, powiedziało „Dość!”. Od 2008 roku byli oszukiwani przez właścicieli. Obiecując rychłą wypłatę, szefowie nie wypłacali pracownikom pełnej pensji, zredukowali godziny pracy i ogłosili upadłość firmy – nie informując o tym oficjalnie. Sytuacja nie poprawiła się, a pracownicy nigdy nie ujrzeli swoich pieniędzy. W grudniu 2015 roku zakład został zamknięty. Dług firmy w postaci niewypłaconych pensji sięga obecnie 700 tys. euro.


NAHIMEN, Teoria eta estrategia, 2016/1, 19.02.2016
"La democracia no puede ser democracia si es cosmopolita"

A pocos metros de estación de Görlitzer Bahnhof, en pleno barrio de Kreuzberg (Berlín), el sociólogo y documentalista nos recibe en el módulo de su oficina para realizar nuestra primera entrevista en NAHIMEN. Hablamos sobre sus años de formación, su experiencia como investigador social y sus actividades políticas -y, cómo no, le agredecemos de todo corazón el tiempo que nos ha dedicado. Le enviamos pues un cordial abrazo desde Euskal Herria.

Leer entrevista:




Express 2016, 21/144: 42-48.

O yeşil ağacın söyledikleri, Dario Azzellini ile Röportaj

Geçem sayıda Arjantin´e uzanmış, işgal fabrikalarının esinlendirici öyküsünü  aktarmıştık. Şimdi, önce 1840'lardan günümüze işçi konseyleri ve işçi özyönetimlerine gidiyoruz, ardından günümüz işgal fabrikalarındaki son duruma bakıyoruz. Yıllardır fabrika işgallerini, işçi konseylerini belgeleyen. Emekçi Ekonomisi toplantılarıyla özyönetim fabrikalarını irtibatlandıran ekipten siyaset bilimci Dario Azzellini´ye mikrofonumuzu uzatıyoruz. O anlattıkça, "teorinin ağacı gridir, pratiğin ağacı ise yeşildir" sözü kulağımızda yankılanıyor.



5. Termine (İstanbul)

23. November 2016 -  01. Januar 2017, Arap Cami Mahallesi | 34420 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, TR

Who Throws Whom Overboard? Oliver Ressler

SALT Galata
Who Throws Whom Overboard? is a major presentation of Oliver Ressler's works

dating from 2004 - 2016, and his  rst in Istanbul since the exhibition An Ideal Society
Creates Itself at Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center in 2005.
Who Throws Whom Overboard? brings together photographic works, wall texts,  lms
and installations addressing migration, borders, citizenship, capital and alternative
economics. The exhibition does not suggest that these “issues” are related in terms
of policy, but rather that they can be read as the conjoined faces of an ongoing, global

read more




Dario Azzellini


Institute of Sociology, Department of Politics and Development Research
Johannes Kepler Universität (JKU) Linz