The Trade Unions: Communist Theory and Practice of Trade Unionism, Lance Sharkey. 1961

Part Six. Conclusion

Managers Of Economic Life In Socialist Society

Lenin indicated the final tasks of the trade unions, their new functions after the working-class is in power, under the Proletarian Dictatorship, as managers of industry when classless, socialist society is on the order of the day:

“But the development of the proletariat did not, and could not, anywhere in the world proceed by any other road than that of the trade unions with their mutual activity with the working-class Party. The seizing of political power by the proletariat as a class is a gigantic step forward, and it is incumbent upon the Party to educate the trade unions in a new manner distinct from the old one, to guide them, not forgetting meanwhile that they remain, and will remain, for a long time a necessary ‘school of Communism,’ a preparatory school for the training of the proletariat to realise their dictatorship, an indispensable union of the workers for the permanent transfer of the management of the country’s economic life (my emphasis, L.S.) into their hands as a class (and not to single trades), to be given later into the hands of all the labouring masses.”

In “Left-Wing Communism” Lenin outlines the position of the trade unions in relation to the proletarian dictatorship:

“The interrelations between leaders-party-class-masses, as well as the relation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and its party to the trade unions, now present themselves concretely in Russia in the following form. The dictatorship is exercised by the proletariat which is organised in the Soviets and is led by the Communist Party (Bolsheviks)... In its work the Party relies directly on the trade unions.” (Page 31, International Book Shop edition.)

Lenin then explains how the Communist Party leads the trade unions, and continues:

“Thus is obtained, on the whole, a formally non-communistic, flexible, comparatively extensive and very powerful proletarian apparatus, by means of which the Party is closely connected with the class and the masses, and by means of which, under the guidance of the Party, class dictatorship is realised. Without the closest connection with the trade unions, whose hearty support and self-sacrificing work aid the construction not only of the economic, but also of the military organisation, it would have been, of course, impossible to govern the country and to maintain the dictator ship for two and a half years or even for two and a half months.”

In the programme of the Communist International, adopted at the Sixth World Congress in 1928, the teachings of Lenin in relation to the trade unions are summarised as follows:

“Under capitalism, the mass labour organisations in which the broad masses of the proletariat were originally organised and trained, i.e., the trade (industrial) unions, serve as the principal weapons in struggle against trustified capital and its State. Under the proletarian dictatorship they become transformed into the principal lever of the State; they become transformed into a school of communism, by means of which vast masses of the proletariat are drawn into the work of socialist management of production; they are transformed into organisations directly connected with all parts of the State apparatus, influencing all branches of its work.”

“That which made Red October possible was the fact that the banner of proletarian revolt was at the same time the banner of the trade union movement in Russia. The Soviet Republic triumphed over its innumerable foes, because the trade unions, which united the whole working-class of Russia, gave the proletarian government all possible support

“The Soviet Republic of Russia will stand all trials, will triumph over all its enemies, because the banner of communism is the banner of the trade union movement in Russia.”

-- Messages from the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party to the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions on the occasion of its fifth anniversary, July 3rd, 1922.

And Socialism in Australia can triumph only when the banner of the Trade Unions is the “Banner of Communism.”