Time to take stock. After more than a century of trade-unionism, in 1977 the elementary struggle for recognition is still being fought. The Labour Party, formed in 1906 to gain trade-union representation in Parliament, is the Government of the day responsible for running capitalism and maintaining the so-called law and order of the ruling class. The coercive state, which includes the police, behaves no differently today than it ever has. The state is the executive power of the capitalist class.
Labour governments have never sought a mandate to end capitalism; when in power they can only run the system for the dominant class. All those leftists and trade unions picketing outside Grunwick have repeatedly urged workers to vote for capitalism and wage-slavery run by the Labour Party.
Instead of inscribing on their banners “Abolition of the wages system” as Marx urged trade-unionists to do more than a hundred years ago, they are fighting to get one reactionary capitalist not to stop exploiting workers but to recognize the unions’ “right” to bargain and dispute about the degree of exploitation. The ugly eruption at Grunwick is only a highly publicized manifestation of the class struggle. It will not be the last. Trade unions can only resist the pressures of the system. They cannot change its effects because they do not challenge the capitalists as owners of the means of production. This ownership is the crux of the matter, and the solution lies in the political field.
The so-called National Association for Freedom, and the Tory MP, who rush to serve the master class whip in hand only show how virulent the conflict of class interests is. The only “freedom” that concerns them is the freedom of the owning class to amass profits. The few Labour MPs and Ministers who have shown their faces in a bid to salve their consciences only demonstrate the uselessness of leaders and their complete impotence in face of the property interests and profit motive of capitalism. They set out to tame capitalism and have become its helpless servants.
Socialists do not seek to capitalize on industrial disputes, particularly when one group of workers clashes with another. The task for Socialists is to urge workers to look beyond the incessant turmoil of the day-to-day struggles engendered by capitalism. To take up the struggle for Socialism and end the servitude of wage-labour once and for all. The same energy and effort now being expended on purely limited objectives could, given Socialist understanding, change society completely. Then, from a world-wide basis of common ownership of the means of production and distribution, mankind can redirect social production to the free satisfaction of human needs. Better than an eternity spent bickering over pittances!
The attainment of Socialism awaits majority understanding and the use of the ballot-box for that exclusive purpose. Workers of all lands, unite for Socialism!