Unions "bourgeois" politics

Chris, London 100423.2040 at compuserve.com
Mon Apr 8 16:02:02 MDT 1996


Adolfo:

"I would say that unions are not organs of the struggle for power of the
proletariat.  Unions are organs for the "bourgeois" politics of the working
class."

Chris B:

I think Adolfo is right to put the word "bourgeois" in inverted commas
here. As far as I can see from skimming the controversy, this is a
reflection of the dangers of one-sidedness from either direction.

The original word "buergerlich" may mean to do with citizens or
capitalists. The
point is "bourgeois (ie "buergerlich") right". This is the abstract
principle of fairness for each separate individual in capitalist society.
It is the counterpart of the triumph of commodity exchange.

It is the cry for a fair days wage for a fair days work. Faced with the
constant tendency of capitalism to reduce the exchange value of
the workers wages, (even when productivity allows the available use
values to rise) it is essential to have unions to resist that
tendency. They may also in favourable conditions be schools for
socialism and solidarity. But it is essential in marxist terms also
to go beyond the demand for abstract fairness, "bourgeois right",
and as Marx put it in "Wages Price and Profit", to demand the
abolition of the wages system; and the social owership and control
of the means of production. This is about collective right, not
about atomised bourgeois right.

Unions have to be understood dialectically.

Chris B,
London.


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