Australian History, 1946.
Source: "Reason in Revolt",
Source documents of Australian Radicalism.
First Published: in The Forty-Hour Week, Victorian Labor College, Melbourne, 1946.
Transcription/HTML: by Kevin Goins.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Victorian unions, as elsewhere in Australia, have the duty, and the right, to discuss questions of policy not only on industrial matters, but also on political issues. These issues relate to minor points and to great international questions involving war and peace, life and death of vast numbers of men and women throughout the world.
Consider for a moment how a resolution moved in a branch of a union can become the policy of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions or of the Federal Labor Party, and how such a policy can lead to great and important results.
Does it not, then, behove us as unionists to think carefully, to look ahead and to estimate the consequences of our decision? And to do this thinking and estimating is not knowledge and wisdom necessary? And is not trade union education the means of obtaining that knowledge and wisdom?
The Labor College exists to place in the minds of unionists the necessary information. It is a simply and democratically organised body of union delegates which, at a trifling cost, provides facilities for organised discussion, in an atmosphere of complete tolerance, of all aspects of social science, industrial and political history, economics and international relations. This is a very wide area of knowledge, and not, as some critics think, a narrow field.
Former students have testified that the material discussed in College classes is drawn from an almost unrestricted field. Hence, they have found our work not only enlightening, but stimulating in a way not found elsewhere.
Out of such broadly gathered knowledge and wisdom we feel that, as unionists, we can obtain the mental tools with which to prepare and determine politics, fit not only for a union or the Labor Party, but for the emancipation of the entire working class.
We make this call to our fellow unionists to support the College in all ways, to become members of our classes, and to assist towards the common goal of socialism.
Workers found it necessary to co-operate in trade unions to protect their interests and to improve their conditions as wage-earners in industry.
Workers also found it necessary to organise their on political party because political and legal limitations existed which prevented organised unionism from obtaining justice from Governments politically opposed to the workers.
The workers have also found it necessary to establish and support their own educational institutions because the training and outlook of the existing capitalist educational institutions seek to preserve the system of capitalism.
The trade union, the Labor Party and the Labor College are the three institutions necessary for your industrial, political and educational progress and welfare.
By supporting these institutions and partaking of their benefits you are taking an active part in the establishment of a better social order.