The class struggle is not over, the battle of the working class is not finished, the fight to achieve socialism, is not redundant nor ‘old-fashioned.’ But it is not taking place. Only a handful of revolutionary socialists appreciated the tremendous opportunities now opening up and are talking in terms of a total social revolution. They are challenging the view that the class struggle can continue to remain confined to improvements within the system. The various Trotskyist groups fail to see the tremendous potentialities of the situation because they are mainly preoccuped to establish their leadership over the workers movement. They all say that what is missing is the correct party-line (which they all interpret as their own party’s). None of them have confidence in the ability of the workers to solve their problems without their kind of leadership, steering the workers’ movement down a blind alley of reformism and nationalism. Concentrating upon building up one’s own party fiefdom and paying attention to only the narrow interests of one’s own organisation is detrimental to the growth and development of the revolutionary movement. At the same time, however, to advocate unity with all and sundry, at all cost, is reckless and suicidal. We must not jeopardise our identity as socialists by joining broad blocs that include non-socialists and even anti-socialists that inevitably accept the continued existence of capitalism.
Despite the cliche misrepresentations, the Socialist Party promotes the principled unity within the trade unions. The principle of trade unionism has been to organise all the workers, in every trade or service. This principle over-rode all distinctions of religion or politics. Whatever a man or woman might think on matters of religion, whatever views he or she might hold in politics, he or she is just as entitled as the next man to join his or her union—and, once joined, to enjoy the same rights and receive the same benefits as everybody else. Socialists are utterly against any division because their chief desire is to strengthen the working class. Working class unity is not utopian. It exists and always has existed to some degree, nevertheless we can say that the working class is presently disunited. There are no united struggles of the entire working class, and the employers have been able to split the working class into as many sections, trades and crafts as possible. As a result, there are struggles being fought of a trade, craft or section of the working class in isolation from the entire working class, but against the entire united capitalist class protected by their state machine and news media. The capitalist class deploy everything available to them against a particular section of the workers leaving the other members of the working class to helplessly watch from the side-lines the struggles of their fellow workers, being fought in isolation from one another and ending in defeat. The unity of the entire working class is an absolute necessity. It is most urgent to organise the un-organised workers. Without organising the non-unionised workers, to talk about uniting the working class is merely a pipe-dream.
However, the labour movement must begin to address social and political questions as the representative of all the workers. It must challenge and defeat the tradition of top-down initiatives and complacent reliance on politicians. The workers themselves must take the initiative in uniting their forces. Unity must be built from the bottom. The Socialist Party defends the trade unions’ struggle for the democratization and right to free expression, association and complete independence with regard to the State to the best of its ability. The Socialist Party’s objective is not substituting and commandeering of the unions, but the aim of winning over the working class in these unions, convincing them of the correctness of the socialist revolution and the necessity of fully involving themselves.
The basic struggle of the workers is two fold: 1) the political struggle against the capitalist system, and 2) the struggle at the place of work for better decent wages and working conditions.
Trade unions cannot and never could lead the struggle of the working class for the conquest of political power. This task can only be accomplished by a political party. When it comes to building this party, there can be no question of it emerging from the defensive struggles waged by the unions against the capitalists, no matter how important these struggles may be. The influence of socialist ideas in the unions is still minimal.
Too often, those on the Left view not as one of the exploitation of labour by capital but as a problem of “unequal distribution of wealth” and therefore centre around “equalising” the distribution of wealth, usually by taxing the rich. For the even more reformist the problem at the place of work is not the heartless exploitation of labour by capital but the problem of a “misunderstanding” between workers and management that can be solved by improving industrial relations. Both subordinate the political mission of the working class of overthrowing the capitalist system to one of reforming the capitalist system. So long as the workers are divided, economically and politically, they will remain in subjection, exploited of what they produce, and treated with contempt by the parasites who live out of their labour.