First Published: The Vanguard, July 3, 1969.
Reprinted: In the Progressive Labor Party journal, World Revolution, Nol. 2, No. 3, January 1970.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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We have received many favourable comments. We have received disagreements with our ideas. People say how can you destroy, the trade unions, what can be put in their place? It is all wrong not to work in the trade unions, etc.
We must answer these questions. Some quote Lenin against our arguments. Lenin wrote a chapter in “Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder,” entitled...“Should revolutionaries work in reactionary trade unions?” He answered the question that they should. Note his description: “reactionary trade unions.” Note his elaboration of this: “yellow, social-chauvinist, compromising... counterrevolutionary trade unions.”
Lenin’s approach was to work in these trade unions in order that the Communists should be with the workers, with all workers both advanced and backward, to help them smash “the yellow, social chauvinist compromising... counter-revolutionary trade unions” (Lenin’s words) and their leaders, to inspire those workers to revolution.
Now is it correct to describe the trade union structure built up in Australia under the ACTU and labor councils as “yellow, social chauvinist, compromising, counter-revolutionary trade unions?” We think it is a thousand times correct.
It is the fact of Australian trade union life. Yes there are better trade union leaders. But as trade union leaders within this apparatus they are impotent. In a certain sense they help it to survive by their mere presence in the apparatus. It helps to sow false hopes, illusions.
And is it true that among the Australian workers there is a deep-seated hatred, both active and latent, against this very apparatus? Yes it is true. This hatred is becoming more active. It arouses the alarm of the ruling class. This class cries out in defence of “responsible trade unionism,” “the official trade union movement,” etc. What the enemy supports we oppose.
Is it correct then to rebel against this apparatus! Yes, in our opinion, it is. It is quite true the rebellion must come from within (that people must stay in the trade unions) and it is coming.
There is much rich experience about this. It will become richer. In the actual course of “mass struggle, that is, through actual experience” “correct and unswerving tactics of struggle emerge.” They cannot be artificially created. Nor can forms of organisation be artificially created. They, too, emerge in struggle.