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Economic organisation

L. Mackinnon (Manchester) writes:

"(1) On page 6 of the SPGB Manifesto it says "the workers’ organisation, political and economic, must be on the basis of their class." I want to know what the workers’ economic organisation is.

(2) On pages 22-3 you say "Trade Unions being necessary under capitalism, any action on their part on sound lines should be heartily supported." I should like to know what you would call sound lines.

I have numbered the above questions for convenience in answering."

The answer to the first query is that the present economic organisations of the workers is the trade union movement. Mainly containing non-Socialists, its efforts are poor, but when the members recognise the class struggle their activities will bear greater fruit.

In answer to the second question our reader will find the sound lines indicated in the Manifesto itself. On page 7 we say "Any efforts on their part to resist the encroachment of the master class deserve our sympathy and support." After showing the limits that resistance finds in the rapid development of machine industry, we go on to say, speaking of the economic organisation: "its tactics must be aggressive and its aim revolutionary."

The real and important step, therefore, is to convert the members of the unions into Socialists, for until you make Socialists you cannot have Socialist unionism. They must be taught - in the words of the Manifesto itself - that the "basis of the workers’ organisation must be class solidarity and class interests."

"Sound lines" mean that while fighting the daily battles the toilers must adopt a policy of "No Compromise". They must have no regard for the master’s interests or property. "Conciliation" and "Arbitration" schemes and long notices must be strenuously opposed. They have got to teach their members that the interests of workers and employers are in direct opposition. Above all, the trade unions must use all their powers to increase the solidarity of the revolting working class and show the need for the toilers acting as a class. There must be no blacklegging of one section upon another, and the grievance of one part must become the interest of all. Thus only can the unions be moulded into a body capable of assisting in the revolutionary change.

A. K.

May 1912