[Marxism] Re: United Fronts (was Falluja and Marxmail)
ilyenkova at netzero.com
ilyenkova at netzero.com
Fri Dec 24 14:11:33 MST 2004
Mark Lause wrote:
>to return to the question of a united front, the very idea of a
strike represents a united front at the most basic level. Regardless of
all their many differences, workers combine their efforts to promote
what they see as their common interest in winning the goals of a strike.
The idea of a united front is implicit in the concept of a revolutionary
general strike, which is discussed in the Chartist and National Reform
movements of the nineteenth century.<
Mark is correct to point to the 19th C. Chartist movement as an
implicit form of the united front. The conventional strike expresses the
united front but in a very rudimentary way in so far as the strike is
limited to trade union demands and remains the province of a single
union or local. Conversely, the Knights of Labor's use of the classwide
united front as a basic strategy is detailed by Richard Oestereicher in
his study of the K of L in Detroit where the Knights brought the
employers to their knees with a continually expanding strike that used
the consumer boycott, secondary boycotts and even tertiary boycotts!!
(BTW Rosa L. in The Mass Strike, the Party and The Trade Unions, also
pointed to the Chartists as the first to employ the tactic in a
strategic way). Those who argue that the concept has little usefulness
in a period of deep labor quiecence obviously have a point. Luxemburg
herself introduced the concept in the context of the long strike wave of
1896 to1905 culminating in the Petrograd soviets of 1905.
Others point correctly to the mass struggles of the 30s at Toledo,
Minneapolis, San Francisco, Flint etc as concrete examples of the united
front as a class front and not simply an elementary tactic. In each of
the mass strikes of the 30s, non-strikers were essential to victory,
evidence the role of the Unemployed League in Toledo in 1933; the
sympathy strikes by construction workers in Minnealoplis; and, support
stoppages by the Seamen, among others in San Francisco. My own opinion
is that Cannon brought to the young Trotskyist movement an intuitive
understanding of the classwide united front from his IWW days. But his
bloc in the 1920s CP with Foster to form the Party's *proletarian
kernal* expressed his affinity for Zinovievism and trade unionist burrowing.
Closer to home, Andy P. points to the SWP in its 1968-73 antiwar work
as using the concept in its calls for mass, democratic organizing
conferences at the national level under NPAC. We motivated these
conferences as all inclusive and democratic not simply as a tactic, but
because we believed that the process of open and vigorous debate was the
best way to deepen and broaden the movement.
Recently, the So. California grocery strike showed us clearly the
results of not strategizing this way when the UFCW tops pulled union
pickets from the wharehouses. On the other hand we saw in that strike
incipient moves from the ranks in the right direction in mobilizing
community support, and from young leftists who organized shop-ins to
disrupt the flow of goods inside the stores.
On campuses the invocation of the united front principle in a raw form
held many a coalition of leftists and liberal students together.
The MWM also was an embryonic expression of the front as a classwide
organizing strategy in that the action's call was to all workers,
although it focused primarily on mobilizing organized workers.
More information about the Marxism