unions vs. the class struggle

zodiac zodiac at interlog.com
Sun Apr 7 07:53:28 MDT 1996

Robert Malecki <malecki at algonet.se> writes:

>I basically agree with what Ken says here. However my question to Neil is
>basically why are you writing off the unions? I just can,t understand how
>the pro-capitalists tops and the base are put in one big bathtub by you. Its
>like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Can,t you see that there is a

Just another let-me-pull-a-rabbit-out-of-this-hat sectarian in torment.

But his pain is real. And, as a nurturing human being, I feel for him.

I couldn't have been more derogatory about labor bosses, and the way "labor"
is used today by the system. I could also have gone into the nature of
collective bargaining et al. I read recently a great article comparing two
General Motors locals -- local 200 formed in the 1930s and local 707 formed
after WWII, the latter being a top-down-imposed local, done with the
complete agreement of management (they actually asked the union be brought
in). They were very different beasts. That operating dynamic has definitely
colored the social composition of many locals, and presents a faction within
larger labor bodies...

I could have gone into all that, but why bother? Neil just sees workers
themselves as the disease. He hates the proles, not just the union tops.
Reminds me of the famous Linus Van Pelt quote: "I love mankind! It's people
I can't stand!"

Unions are a form of community for the working class. About the ONLY form of
community left. They are not the solution, but without them you ain't going
to get anywhere beyond, say, the SLA. I think I'll pass, thanks.

A fave quote from a letter Marx wrote to Bolte in 1871:

    "The development of socialist sectarianism and that of the real working
class movement always stand in inverse relation to one another. Sects are
justified (historically) so long as the working class is not yet ripe for an
independent historical movement. As soon as it has attained this maturity,
all sects are essentially reactionary."

Marx and Engels later gave this a more formal working in 1872 ("Fictitious
Splits in the International"):

     "The first phase of the proletariat's struggle against the bourgeoisie
is marked by sectarian movement. That is logical at a time when the
proletariat has not yet developed sufficiently to act as a class. Certain
thinkers criticize social antagonisms and suggest fantastic solutions
thereof, which the mass of workers is left to accept, preach, and put into
practice. The sects formed by these initiators are abstentious by their very
nature -- i.e., alien to all real action, politics, strikes, coalitions, or,
in a word, to any united movement. The mass of the proletariat always
remains indifferent or even hostile to their propaganda. The Paris and Lyons
workers did not want Saint Simonians, the Fourierists, the Icarians, any
more than the Chartists and the English trades unions wanted the Owenists.
These sects act as levers of the movement in the beginning, but become an
obstruction as soon as the movement outgrows them; after which they become

Couldn't have said it better myself...


>PS: Ken, i do not thing these guys are cops! Just petty bourgeois left
>radicals in the service of the bougeoisie...Because anybody that is
>basically ready to give up the struggle for leadership of the unions to the
>reformist traitors by screaming state capitalism if they are honest should
>get on the same plane to Peru as Aldolfo...

I don't know where Neil conjured the "cop" bit. I never mentioned at all "he
was a cop." Must be some sort of guilty conscience. All I said was his grand
movement will attract nothing but pissed-off anti-unionists, the
lumpenproles, and probably some bankrolling from the bosses -- for whom it
would just "make their century" to smash the last union.

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