I am not familiar with the Riazanov Library as a source, although the choice of the name of a famous Russian Bolshevik intellectual, archivist, and early head of the Marx-Engels Institute there, as well as being a friend and , at various points a political confederate of the great Bolshevik leader, Leon Trotsky, sits well with me.
Thanks to the Riazanov Library for their efforts in digitizing Workers Action. The works provided by the Riazanov Library are © copyrighted by the Riazanov Library in 2010 for the document formatting and editing as they appear here in their PDF format, on the ETOL. The actual content itself remains in the public domain pursuant to US and International copyright conventions.
Markin comment on this series:
Obviously, for a Marxist, the question of working class political power is central to the possibilities for the main thrust of his or her politics- the quest for that socialist revolution that initiates the socialist reconstruction of society. But working class politics, no less than any other kinds of political expressions has to take an organization form, a disciplined organizational form in the end, but organization nevertheless. In that sense every Marxist worth his or her salt, from individual labor militants to leagues, tendencies, and whatever other formations are out there these days on the left, struggles to built a revolutionary labor party, a Bolshevik-style party.
Glaringly, in the United States there is no such party, nor even a politically independent reformist labor party, as exists in Great Britain. And no, the Democratic Party, imperialist commander-in-chief Obama's Democratic Party is not a labor party. Although plenty of people believe it is an adequate substitute, including some avowed socialists. But they are just flat-out wrong. This series is thus predicated on providing information about, analysis of, and acting as a spur to a close look at the history of the labor party question in America by those who have actually attempted to create one, or at to propagandize for one.
As usual, I will start this series with the work of the International Communist League/Spartacist League/U.S. as I have been mining their archival materials of late. I am most familiar with the history of their work on this question, although on this question the Socialist Workers Party's efforts runs a close second, especially in their revolutionary period. Lastly, and most importantly, I am comfortable starting with the ICL/SL efforts on the labor party question since after having reviewed in this space in previous series their G.I. work and youth work (Campus Spartacist and the Revolutionary Marxist Caucus Newsletter inside SDS) I noted that throughout their history they have consistently called for the creation of such a party in the various social arenas in which they have worked. Other organizational and independent efforts, most notably by the Socialist Workers Party and the American Communist Party will follow.
Markin comment on this issue:
Obviously a propagandistic left-wing, pro-labor newspaper from 1969, driven by current events, is going to contain a lot of material now of just historic interest like the struggle around the effects of containerization of shipping on the West Coast docks, a question that we now know costs many union jobs by the failure of longshoremen’ union to tie in technological improvement with unionized labor employment. And, of course, the union bureaucracy’s penchant for making “sweetheart” deals rather than a class struggle fight over the issue.
This issue does pose the question of questions centered on the labor movement and war that is currently very much with us with the Iraq, Afghan and whatever other hellish wars the American imperialist are raising around the world. For the anti-war movement, after trying everything but labor action in the previous period, 1969 represented a turning point where even the working class was getting fed up with the Vietnam War. No only by providing the mass base of “cannon fodder” but taking a beating on the economic front as well. The call for labor strikes against the war would later, in 1970, take on a more than propagandistic possibility when important sections of the working class began to take strike action over economic issues. While today, and maybe just today, the slogan has purely propaganda value it is always part of the arsenal of left-wing anti-war work.
The other section that still bears reading for today’s audience is the last article on, well, union caucus organizing. The point about standing on a left-wing militant program is the most important and dovetails with the struggle for the labor party to take state power when the time comes. Once again this says to me that we had better be getting a move on about the business of creating that revolutionary labor party-enough is enough. Break with the Democrats! Build a workers party that fights for our communist future.