Capitalist Development and Class Capacities: Marxist Theory and Union Organization

By Jerry Lembcke | Go to book overview

From this article we can infer two things that are important to the thesis of this chapter. First, the communist leadership sought the broadest possible base of participation and support for strike activities. They saw strikes as occasions for the mobilization of entire families and communities and they advocated structures that empowered all members of the communities, not just the striking workers. Second, the workers of each mine constituted a unit of organization and each unit had the same representation on the central strike committee (two men and one woman). There is no indication that the largest units had more power than the small mines. From this instance we could conclude that in strike situations, at least, the strategical priority of uniting the largest number of workers and supporters prevailed over the formal democratic priority of ensuring representation on a one worker, one vote basis. Associational logic, in other words, prevailed over pecuniary logic.


SUMMARY

In the CIO histories we find general support for the proposition that communists advocated organizational forms that maximized the unity of the largest numbers of workers in an industry or geographic region. Evidence for that is presented above. There does not, however, appear to have been a communist "line" on the form that representation in centralized bodies should take. The associational logic that Adolph Germer referred to as a "commie structure" was generally preferred by party activists. In the UAW case, for example, it was communist Nat Ganely who led the opposition to the "dollar democracy" of the Reuthers (see Chapter 3).

The exceptional cases where communists, like Reid Robinson in Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, did support pecuniary forms of representation are revealing in two ways. First, they are cases where communist power (like Robinson's) was based in craft fractions with an organizational form inherited from the AFL. For historical reasons these cases are the exceptions to the rule that communists were based in the unskilled, industrial worker fractions of the CIO unions. But it appears that communists adopted the organizational forms organic to the fractions in which they were based rather than imposing a form that was theoretically conceived. What Germer called a "commie structure" was, in other words, a proletarian (or associational) organizational form that the IWA communists had adopted because their political base was in the most proletarian fraction of the industry. Second, the

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Capitalist Development and Class Capacities: Marxist Theory and Union Organization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Labor Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - From Organizational Democracy to Organizational Efficacy: Toward a Class Analysis of Union Organization 1
  • Notes 23
  • 2 - Historical Problems and Theoretical Advances in the Study of U.S. Working-Class Capacities 25
  • Introduction 62
  • Introduction 65
  • Conclusion 108
  • Note 109
  • 4 - Class Capacities and Labor Internationalism: The Case of the Cio-Ccl Unions 111
  • Introduction 111
  • 5 - There Was a Difference: Communist and Noncommunist Leadership in Cio Unions 133
  • Introduction 133
  • SUMMARY 153
  • 6 - Uneven Development, Class Formation, and Organization Theory: New Departures for Understanding Current Struggles 155
  • Introduction 155
  • SUMMARY 174
  • Notes 176
  • Appendix 177
  • References 185
  • Index 195
  • About the Author 205
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