unions vs. the class struggle
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Sat Apr 6 00:01:33 MST 1996
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From: neil, INTERNET:74742.1651 at compuserve.com
TO: Marxism list-e-mail, INTERNET:MARXISM at JEFFERSON.VILLAGE.VIRGINIA.EDU
CC: "L. godenas", INTERNET:GODENAS at AOL.COM
Louis Proyect, INTERNET:LNP3 at COLUMBIA.EDU
Adam Rose, INTERNET:ADAM at PMEL.COM
DATE: 1/18/96 9:10 PM
RE: unions vs. the class struggle
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From: neil <74742.1651 at compuserve.com>
To: Marxism list-e-mail <marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu>
Cc: "L. godenas" <Godenas at aol.com>, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at columbia.edu>,
Adam Rose <adam at pmel.com>
Subject: unions vs. the class struggle
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Reply-To: marxism at jefferson.village.virginia.edu
These forums are one of the good places where we can debate and discuss ideas
and differences. It's the social world, class divided society where they get the
acid test in practice. We thus, thru study and struggle, gain more knowlege and
can then go through similar experiences agains and again to make positive
contributions to the cause of the working class..
In my 2 recent pieces on the unions and their class nature and practice , I
surely drew some historicaI / contemporary based conclusions based on much
material evidence and experiences of the workers inside the unions. I myself
have been in 3 AF of Hell unions in my life, I have worked with other "Militant"
union reform groups for years to try to " turn the policy to a class struggle
path' and make them the 'schools for communism", etc. Many many new contacts
have been made, both positive and negative. Many trade unionists of the ranks
themselves are subjectively sincere and dedicated , and well meaning.
But as marxists, we should be materialists and scientific ones at that. Its not
just the subjective feelings of individuals and/ or groups or organizations
that determies their social role , Iit is in the main the objective role they
play in the ongoing struggles of classes in class divide society, wheher they
help perpetuate a decadent and barbaric social order, or whether they are part
of the artillery of the revolutionary cause of workers socialism and communism.
The track record of the unions themselves exposes their real class and social
role, to peddle the commodity wage labor on the cpaitalist market, to work with
the bosses to police the class and make certain the class struggles are kept
penned in and then derailed.
They did not not start out exactly this way in the last century as i pointed
out--they have from a working class point of view, degenerated and decayed and
became instruments in the service of the capitalist state and the rich in each
nation state.. As has been explianed, the 20th century changes in the nature of
capitalism and developement into world economy and imperialism, and the defeat
of mass movement s and revolutionary workers struggles has greatly influenced
marxists dont bellow that its just the individual bosses that make capitalism
exploitative and anti-human in the present epoch. Its the institutions of
capitalism and groups that work to politically/industrially uphold capitalist
social relations that prop up the system. Changing republicans with democrats is
the bosses struggle not ours! Changing capitalist owners is the bosses fight,.
not ours. Changing whether the "left' or the right leaders in the unions police
us and help the
bosses keep ramming it to us, fore and aft, is not a struggle we should take
sides in either. Pox on all their houses. May all their brains be palsied.!
Our duty politicllay as revolutionaries is , however, to intervene in the class
struggles in all their forms , industrial, political, cultural, etc and expose
the chicanery and fraud of the CON-servatives, Liberals, labor fakers, Fascists,
and ........Fake marxists, the socialist labor fakers too!
Revolutionaries in unions should stay in them and fight from within against them
to win workers to militant class motions , new political/industrial groupings
and connect this work to other workers struggles.
L. Proyect must have a problem with reading & analysis or is just putting up a
clever smokescreen . He should deal honestly with the many factual points i
have made to back up my controverial contentions. His snide remarks about
and "rhetoric" are in fact a most fitting response for those who hold his
outmoded views. If I wanted to defend politically bankrupt concepts in the face
of all evidence, i probably, a la Proyect, would not want to deal with the
issues at hand, up front either. If he can show with a good body of concrete
evidence that the unions in programme and practice are against the capitalist
system and wage slavery. I would be forced to rethink my views and admit i was
incorrect. But Proyect is totally impotent is this regard. C'mon Mr. Proyect,
the workers demand better!
Look at the points/ideas L. godenas has added, His are controversial too, but
notice he does not rely or empty petty bourgeois sentimentality or Bible
quoting. He looks at this matter, the union question, in its concatination and
change, its contradictions and direction and developement. I think this bears
striking resemblance to the scientific materialist world outlook and dialectical
method. I kind of admire him for that alone!
The views of A. Rose, convince me he is probably a sincere working class
militant activist though we are in disagreement on the questions of the class
nature and working class tacticst in political work inside the bourgeois trade
unions. I am not a trotskyist . I have disagreements with the his SWP-UK though
his group has been big strides in front of most the rest of the left for
decades in exposing and fighting not only western style capitalism but they have
written some excellent well researched materials exposing the phony socialist
nature of the eastern bloc state capitalist regimes , pretty honestly dealing
with the INTERNAL dynamics of these economies as well as external realtions. The
Book "State Capitalism in Russia" by T. Cliff should be studied by all serious
marxists. I know it really helped open my eyes and those of others who in the
past were under stalinist/revisionist influence..
But from mr. Rose, I would like to know how he can qualitatively separate the
class nature of Leaders of a social institution from the institution itself?
Sounds like some kind of idealist funk ?
In fact it is true that unions will be around with some hegemony both because
the system demands they be available--there is the market for labor, and because
the workers cannot superceed them until the experience of mass struggle impells
them to build qualatatively superior industrial organizations--really opposed
I hope this debate can continue and the objective reality of the crisis in the
workers camp almost assuures it will.
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