G.K. Campbell

Activities of the Scottish Workers Committees

Source: The Communist International, No. 11-12, June-July 1920, pp. 2403-2406 (816 words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
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.

The Scottish Workers’ Committees is an organisation having for its object the permeation of the industrial organisation of the working class with Communist principles, the creation of industrial unity in the industries where there are separate and competing organisations, and the organisation of unofficial Workers’ Committees to accomplish these ends.

The British Trade-Union Movement is the strongest movement of its kind in the world, financially and numerically, but it is lamentably weak in Revolutionary knowledge and enthusiasm. It has in the course of its development created a powerful and conservative bureaucracy who do their utmost to guide the discontent of the workers into safe channels, safe, that is to say, from the point of view of Capitalism. The average worker in Britain is attached to his organisation by bonds of loyalty and by financial interests (sick and idle benefits etc.) and all the attempts that have been made in the past to get the workers to leave the largely reactionary Trade-Unions and build up more revolutionary organisations have been barren of results.

The power of the Trade-Union in Britain, as far as numbers and finance is concerned, have grown during the war, and power of the bureaucracy has grown proportionately. In every industrial mass movement since the armistice, the influence of the bureaucracy has been towards limiting the extent of the movement and confining the struggle to small reforms within the capitalist system. They have been able to do so because of the weakness of the revolutionary elements and their lack of common industrial policy.

The Workers’ Committee Movement is working to remedy this deficiency:

1. By uniting all Communists within a given work-shop into a Workers’ Committee to carry on propaganda and bring about greater unity, by taking the lead in an struggles between the workers and the management. In so doing the Communists are not merely disseminating their theoretical principles but are bringing the workers to look upon the Communists as their natural leaders in any struggle against the employing class.

2. By linking up the Workers’ Committees into district committees, which co-ordinate the activities and arranges for the carrying on of a systematic propaganda campaign throughout the district. The propaganda usually takes the form of work-gate meetings during the Workers’ dinner hour, a means of keeping in touch with the mass of the workers that is unequalled.

By those means the Workers’ Committees are revolutionising the outlook of the rank and file of the workers, weakening the power of the trade-union bureaucracy, creating a greater industrial unity and building up in the Workers’ Committees an alternative form of organisation which would be able to unite the workers for mass action in a revolutionary crisis, even if the Trade-Union officials were endeavouring to hold the Unions back from taking action against Capitalism.

But we are a Communist and not Syndicalist organisation. We believe that the economic struggle against the employing class must give way to the mass political struggle against the capitalist state, for the purpose of smashing that state and setting up a Proletarian Dictatorship based on Workers’ Councils (Soviets).

The political struggle in Britain will probably develop out of the industrial struggle. The mass of the workers will develop a decided hostility towards the capitalist State (which at present they regard as an impartial body) the more exigencies of the struggle cause the State to intervene in industrial disputes on the side of the employers. But to carry the struggle against the capitalist State to a victorious conclusion we recognise that much more industrial organisation is necessary. We are therefore developing what we call “Social Committees” which are organisations uniting all Communists residing in a given district for revolutionary action.

The taking of the inventories of food required to feed the district, where it comes from, and so on; the acquiring of knowledge regarding the productive power of the district from a district, and, above all, the mapping out of the district from a strategic point of view and the secret arming and drilling of groups of carefully selected workers—that is roughly our policy. We claim that the activities above described are essential to the Revolution and we claim without fear of contradiction that we are the only group doing work of this nature in Britain at the present moment.

In addition to the work above described we publish a weekly paper, The Worker dealing with industrial affairs from the Communist point of view. The Worker was one of the first papers to he suppressed in Britain during the World War. The editor and the president of the Committee (Messrs Muir and Gallacher) served a year in prison in connection with their activities. It is the only weekly paper at the present day circulating in Britain. dealing with industrial events from the point of view of Communism.

G.E. CAMPBELL Organiser.
J.M. MESSER. Secretary.