Various Subjects

Labour, The Basis Of Life

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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Russia is disordered, plundered, weakened and exhausted. The world’s predators think, or want to think, that Russia lies at death’s door. But this is not so. We, the working people, will lift her up, strengthen her, restore her to health, through our stubborn, intense, concerted labour – the basis of human life. Now, when the land and the factories belong to the people, the labour of each one of us no longer enriches individual parasites, as it did before, but contributes to the common welfare of all the working people.

Let us keep this in mind: labour is the basis of life. And the poorer our life is today, the more transport is disorganised, the more meagre are our rations, the worse the neglect, filth and disease – the greater the intensity and conscientiousness that must distinguish our labour. The careless, conscienceless worker is now the worst enemy of socialist society – he is like the idle servant in the Gospel who buried his talent in the ground. [Matthew 25:14-30. This ‘unprofitable servant’ was to be ‘cast into outer darkness’.] Whoever falls to come to work on time, or who wastes his time when in the workshop, or occupies himself there with work ‘on the side’ [In this period many workers in engineering works used their time and materials making small articles, such as cigarette-lighters, which could fetch a good price on the private market.], or simply stays away on a workday, is an enemy of socialist Russia who is undermining her future.

Workers and peasants! Let your precept in these difficult times be – stern, uncompromising struggle against self-seeking, slovenliness, imprecision and absenteeism, against these forms of desertion from labour. Let us, jointly and tirelessly, with our millions of hands, forge a happier destiny for the coming generation.

Long live labour – the liberator, the basis of life!

April 29, 1920

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Last updated on: 27.12.2006