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Early Labour Movement

The Socialist Party and the Trade Unions


 The Socialist Party and the Trade Unions have a common origin in the class struggle. The former is the organised expression on the political field of the conscious recognition of that struggle by the workers. Its growth is the measure of their determination to end the struggle by converting the means of living into common property, and thus establishing a harmony of interests within society.

 The class struggle, however, does not commence with the conscious recognition of it as a fact. “In the beginning is the thing ”; the idea follows in its wake, and is, in fact, its reflection in the human mind.

 Long before the origin of the Socialist Party the class struggle was in progress. Strikes and lock-outs, machine-breaking and penal legislation have all testified to the antagonism of interests in modern society for over a century.

Engels: The Man and His Work - Part One

(The first of a two part tribute to Marx’s co-worker Friedrich Engels)

Seventy six years have passed since the death of Friedrich Engels, the friend and co-worker of Karl Marx. Much of the interest that has been shown over the years in the Socialist movement has tended to obscure the reputation of Engels by an exclusive pre-occupation with that of Marx — a process which Engels himself encouraged — so it seems more than fitting that we should pay tribute, in recognition of the debt present-day Socialists owe to Friedrich Engels.

Marx’s pre-eminence in their partnership was stressed by no one more emphatically than by Engels himself:

Engels: The Man and His Work - Part Two

(The second and concluding part of a tribute to Marx's co-worker)

The writings of Friedrich Engels are indispensable for the study of the growth and development of Scientific Socialism. His writings derive their importance from the fact that even when they were not produced jointly with Marx (as was the case with the Communist Manifesto), they were (until Marx’s death) produced in collaboration with Marx in the sense that the whole plan was discussed by them jointly before the works of either were written The result in each case was submitted for the critical revision of the other.

Editorial: Fifty Years After The Crisis in the Labour Movement

Just fifty years ago, in 1903, the workers who, in the following year, were to found the S.P.G.B., were weighing up the claims of those who argued that the sure road to emancipation had already been found by the Trades Union Congress and its political offspring, the Labour Party (then known as the Labour Representation Committee). Their view—and a most convincing one it seemed to most workers who had begun to think about the matter—was that the separate unions would conduct the struggle for improved wages and working conditions, the TU.C. would formulate general claims for protective legislation and, along with the Labour Party, would work towards independent working class representation in Parliament. They were able to combine activities at home with the belief that war could be abolished through the international trade union and Labour movement, and their ultimate aim of a reconstruction of society had already been formulated in a resolution passed by the T.U.C.

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