Sunday, March 3, 2013

Who gets the bird, the hunter or the dog? John L Lewis : Learning Lessons from the Past by Nickglais

John Llewellyn Lewis (February 12, 1880 – June 11, 1969) was an American leader of organized labor who served as president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) from 1920 to 1960. A major player in the history of coal mining, he was the driving force behind the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which established the United Steel Workers of America and helped organize millions of other industrial workers in the 1930s

Who gets the bird the hunter or the dog ? was the famous reply of John L Lewis when asked about Communists in the Steel Workers Organising Committee of the Congress of Industrial Organisations in USA.

The implication was that they were working for him and he was in charge - he owned the dogs and he got the reward the bird and not the communists.

If you had trade union communists and not communist trade unionists then of course John L Lewis was right they did indeed work for him.

One of the hallmarks of the revisionism in the Communist Parties of Britain and the United States was trade union communism and not communist trade unionism.

This type of economism* is still practicised today by the dying rump of trotskyism and revisionism in the British Isles.

John L Lewis was a social democrat and never claimed to be or ever was a communist.

However there is much controversy and criticism about him especially on the left but still a widespread recognition of his unique contribution to the rise of the US Labour Movement..

Lewis, never a Communist himself, refused to allow any of his officials to take the non-Communist oath required by the Taft-Hartley Act anti labour law in USA.

The UMW was therefore denied legal rights protected by the National Labor Relations Board. 

He denounced Taft-Hartley as authorizing "government by injunction" and refused to follow its provisions, saying he would not be dictated to.

Here are some links for further critical study of John L Lewis if you want to be a revolutionary hunter and not a dog for the social democrats like the trotskyists and revisionists.

See also :

* Economism :

The ideas of economism were first formulated in the first issue of the newspaper Rabochaia mysl’: “The struggle for economic status, the struggle against capital on the grounds of vital daily interests, and the strike as the instrument of this struggle—such is the motto of the workers’ movement.”

The Economists, distorting the Marxist tenet that all class struggle is political struggle, maintained that any spontaneous action by the workers constitutes political action.

According to the Economists, what was meant by political struggle was not the independent class struggle of the proletariat  but legal opposition within the framework of the autocratic system and in alliance with other “oppositionist social strata” (for example, worker participation in the bureaus that had jurisdiction over the factories and in urban self-government and the submission of demands to the tsarist government for “protective labor legislation”).

By denying the proletariat’s need to voice its own political demands and to struggle for such demands, the “new school in Social Democracy” (as the Economists called themselves) subordinated the workers’ movement to the liberal bourgeoisie.

The economists exalted the spontaneity of the workers’ movement and maintained that the proletariat would develop its own socialist awareness in the process of spontaneous struggle.

They denied the necessity of a political party of the working class

No comments: