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Karl Marx on the future of the trade unions Organizing the unorganized & low-wage workers

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dcsmart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-14-09 01:59 PM
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Karl Marx on the future of the trade unions Organizing the unorganized & low-wage workers
Edited on Sat Nov-14-09 02:11 PM by dcsmart
Karl Marx on the future of the trade unions
Organizing the unorganized & low-wage workers
Published Nov 13, 2009 8:05 PM

Following is an excerpt from Fred Goldsteins book Low-Wage Capitalism, which analyzes the effects of globalization and the high-tech revolution on the U.S. working class. This excerpt includes part of an historic address by Karl Marx to the First International in 1866.

In the crisis now unfolding, a revitalized workers movement, in order to be effective, will have to draw in all the sectors that have either been left out or marginalized. All workers movements and working-class communities must have a place in the struggle that takes into account their particular needs, without being subordinated or subjected to bureaucratic leadership. This includes the fight for jobs, for income, for the right to a home and food. Occupations, mass demonstrations, strikes, and every form of struggle will be required. This is the road to a renewed workers movement encompassing the unions and the far broader sections of the working class whose fighting spirit must be mobilized on the basis of addressing their needs.

Marx on unions as organizing centers for the whole class

Karl Marx delivered an address to the General Council of the International Workingmens Association (the First International) in 1866. Included was a section on The Future of the Unions. This passage, along with many others, is as relevant today for the labor movement as it was back in 1866 when it was first delivered:

Apart from their original purpose, they must now learn to act deliberately as organizing centers of the working class in the broad interest of its complete emancipation. They must aid every social and political movement tending in that direction. Considering themselves as acting as the champions of the whole working class, they cannot fail to enlist the non-society men into their ranks. They must look carefully after the interests of the worst paid trades, such as agricultural laborers, rendered powerless by exceptional circumstances. They must convince the world at large that their efforts, far from being narrow and selfish, aim at the emancipation of the downtrodden millions.

Karl Marx from Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional General Council delivered at the Geneva Congress of the First International September 1866.*

Marx declared that the future task of the trade unions was to reach out to the poor and the oppressed, the lowest paid, the unorganized, and push forward political and social movements that would aid in the emancipation of the working class as a whole.

*Karl Marx, The First International and After: Political Writings: Volume 3. Ed. David Fernbach. (London: Penguin Books in association with New Left Review, 1974), p. 92.

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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