Antonie (Anton) Pannekoek (2 January 1873, Vaassen, Gelderland–28 April 1960, Wageningen) was a Dutch astronomer and Marxist theorist. He was one of the main theorists of council communism (Dutch: radencommunisme).
As a recognized Marxist theorist, Pannekoek was one of the founders of the council communist tendency and a main figure in the radical left in the Netherlands and Germany. He was active in the Communist Party of the Netherlands, the Communist Workers' Party of the Netherlands and the Communist Workers' Party of Germany.
He was best known for his writing on workers' councils. He regarded these as a new form of organisation capable of overcoming the limitations of the old organs of the labour movement, the trade unions and social democratic parties. Basing his theory on what he regarded as the practical lessons of the Russian revolution, Pannekoek argued that the workers' revolution and the transition from capitalism to communism had to be achieved by the workers themselves, democratically organised in workers' councils.
He was a sharp critic of anarchism, social-democracy and Lenin and Leninism. During the early years of the Russian revolution, Pannekoek gave critical support to the Bolshevik regime, a position shared by fellow council communist Herman Gorter and Rosa Luxemburg. He expressed misgivings about the authoritarian tendencies of Leninism, fearing for the socialist content of the Russian Revolution unless it should find a rectifying support in a proletarian revolution in the West. His later analysis of the failure of the Russian revolution was that after Lenin and the Bolsheviks came to power, they crippled the soviets. Instead of workers' councils, the Bolsheviks had instituted the rule of their party, which in Pannekoek's view is what led to the institution of the Bolsheviks as a new ruling class. He put his views forward in his 1938 book Lenin als filosoof : een kritische beschouwing over de filosofische grondslagen van het Leninisme originally published under the pseudonym J. Harper, translated in English as Lenin as philosopher - a critical examination of the philosophical basis of Leninism (1948).
Marxism and DarwinismEdit
In a pamphlet still quoted by present-day Marxists and social activists, Pannekoek strongly attacked and rebutted the arguments of social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer, whom Pannekoek dubbed "Bourgeois Darwinists".