Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The weak spot of trade unions

Everyone has the right to state and defend their ideas, but nobody has the right to misrepresent someone else’s ideas to strengthen their own. Critics of the Socialist Party frequently declare that it stands aloof from the trade union struggle, either a mistaken assumption or a deliberate deception of the Socialist Party's case.

What all workers must understand is that their misery is due to exploitation carried on by the capitalist class. Trade unionism merely restricts their struggle to attempts at lessening this exploitation. It does not fight to end exploitation i.e. to end the capitalist system and replace it by socialism. This is the fatal limitation of trade union struggles. The Socialist Party does not oppose trade union struggles or refuse to participate in them. It is very essential to organise workers and help them to fight for their day to day demands. Because, it is only in the course of these fights, that the workers learn about the system of capitalist exploitation and the need to abolish it. Trade union struggles are necessary to educate the workers. What is wrong is to stop at that stage, limiting ourselves always to trade union struggles. What every worker must understand is that through trade union struggle we are not fighting the causes which is capitalism but only its symptoms. We are fighting against the effects of the system as Marx has pointed out, and not against the system itself.

When we fight for a demand like a 10% pay rise, we are merely fighting against the effects of capitalism. Not merely that. We are demanding it from the capitalists. In other words, we envisage the continuation of the capitalist system. What trade union struggles really do is to fight to improve the conditions of the working class within the framework of the capitalist system. They do not challenge capitalism itself. That is why they can degenerate towards pure and simple reformism and, end up bolstering capitalism.

The Socialist Party tries to take the workers forward to transform the economic struggle into a political struggle for the capture of power by the working class. When it does this, the Socialist Party is carrying out a revolutionary task. Otherwise, it may well sink into the morass of reformism. The greater part of our time and energy should be spent on painstakingly preparing the working class for revolutionary action to overthrow the system of capitalist exploitation. Unless we do this, we will easily fall back into the false positions of reformism. We do not rest content but go ever forward in politicalising our fellow-workers. The Socialist Party does not take it upon itself to lecture on how to fight for wage increases but we do teach how to abolish the wage system itself.

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