1 With the proliferation of primitive capital accumulation a specifically capitalist mode of production (social division of labor, mass manufacture, etc.) developed, and was characterized by the violent birth of an ever-growing class of wage laborers, with no other social basis and owning nothing but their labor-power to sell.
2 Following the proliferation of wage laborers with the proliferation of capitalism was the proliferation of competition among wage laborers, driven by their recent expropriation and proletarianization to struggle against each other as sellers of the commodity labor-power. Ceasing this inner-class competition was the first act of solidarity; the moment that the proletariat first turned against the capitalists.
3 Trade unionism emerged as the content of the class struggles of wage laborers under the capitalist social relation.
4 Labor’s class struggles are expressed in the distinct moments of a process: the practice, substance and structure of trade unionism.
5 The practice of trade unionism
Spontaneous resistance to and contingent demands of capital; resistance to lower wages, longer hours and deteriorating or inferior working and living conditions — demands for higher wages, shorter hours and improved working and living conditions.
6 The substance of trade unionism
Concerted/mass actions; the act of resistance, the act of demanding, a static moment in the practical manifestations thereof: strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, insurrections, etc.
7 The structure of trade unionism
Co-participants in labor’s class struggles who, through their articulation and definition of material gains, are bestowed a mandate of legitimacy from their co-workers, neighbors, co-participants in the class struggle and so become the human architecture of labor organization; the personification of the interests and needs of the class.
8 Trade unionism is the content of labor’s class struggles under the capitalist social relation and continues to exist as such solely determined by the existence of the capitalist social relation– in other words, the continued existence of a proletariat.
9 The class struggle is unitary, singular, integral. Forms of labor organization associated with acute struggles (workers’ councils, factory committees) do not have an independent origin separate and apart from the process of the class struggle which continues to operate according to the same laws in both revolutionary and non-revolutionary situations.
10 The essence of trade unionism as the content of labor’s class struggles is expressed in two categories: form and process. All forms of organization created by the proletariat – mutual benefit society, trade union, workers’ party, factory committee, defense guard, workers’ council, workers’ state — were, are and will be derivative of the basic process of labor’s class struggles.
11 History for the proletariat is nothing but its experience and memory of the class struggle. Proletarian history is cumulative and becomes tangible in labor organization as centers of resistance to capital.
12 Labor’s class struggles as the practice, substance and structure of trade unionism may be and often are aborted at a moment in the process. These are a practice of contingent resistance to capital; temporary centers of resistance which dissolve during or after a given episode of the class struggle. Those that continue to exist after the end of the struggle become permanent centers of resistance in a practice of permanent resistance to capital.
13 Centers of resistance are most often informal and temporary. They take form whenever 2 or more workers discuss wages, hours, working and living conditions; decide on concerted action and engage in concerted action, challenging their employer by challenging their employer’s agent(s).
14 Those co-participants in labor’s class struggles who, through the act of articulation and definition of material gains, are granted a mandate of legitimacy from their co-workers, becoming the organic leaders selected from among and by the workers as part of their class struggles.
15 The articulation and definition of material gains leads inevitably to the tendency to consolidate and defend these now defined gains. Those co-participants in labor’s class struggles, granted a mandate of legitimacy from their co-workers through their act of articulation and definition of material gains, become a human architecture of labor organization in and by the act of the consolidation and defense of these now defined gains.
16 This human architecture is the structure of all forms of labor organization. The organic leaders selected and distilled in the class struggle become the personification of the interests and needs of their co-workers. This is a representation, which is inevitable due to the historic impossibility of permanent mobilization by any greater or lesser segment of the working-class.
17 Trade union officers, shop stewards, committeemen, organizers, business agents, recording secretaries; factory committee organizers and delegates; defense guard organizers and leaders; workers’ council delegates and committeemen; every role in every form of labor organization is but a manifestation of labor’s human architecture, the personification of their co-workers’ (and fellow workers’) interests and needs, the legitimate representatives of the proletariat, the structure of all labor organization.
18 Different forms of labor organization arise in the class struggle to fulfill specific functions. However, no labor organization is purely economic, purely political, or purely social. In addition, no form of labor organization is exempt from the forces and tendencies at work within and against the proletariat. Capitalist society is always simultaneously trying to absorb and destroy all labor organizations and all forms of labor organization.
19 Organized and organizing labor is the revolutionary agent of the proletariat-as-revolutionary-subject. Organization is at one and the same time the means for the present amelioration and future emancipation of labor. Organized and organizing labor is that segment of the proletariat presently engaged in the class struggle (organizing) and those who represent the class’ past experience of the class struggle (organized).
20 Capital is dead labor; the force that turns living labor into dead labor; the tangible manifestation of labor-power and labor-time that is made alive again in and through the next round of capitalist production, where the physical results of past production confront the worker on an ever increasing scale. The capitalist accumulates dead labor.
21 Living class struggles as the practice, substance and structure of trade unionism become, through the consolidation and defense of material gains, dead class struggles. The proletariat accumulates its dead class struggles in mock complement to the accumulation of dead labor by the capitalist. Like the means of production, raw materials and other commodities – accumulated dead labor –that confront the worker, the worker is also confronted by the accumulation of his class’ dead class struggles.
22 History for the proletariat, as nothing else but the experience and memory of the class struggle, is made tangible in its accumulation of its dead class struggles as labor organization. Such organization in any form is a social and physical fact around which organized and organizing labor and the rest of the class must orient in the course of its living class struggles.
23 At the moment of the consolidation and defense of material gains, the permanent organization formed to police and enforce these now-defined gains becomes a social and physical fact – in the workplace, in the region, in the industry, in the nation, in the class.
24 Representation as the dominant element of labor’s class struggles is the inevitable consequence of the alienation of the proletariat. Alienation assures the impossibility of permanent mobilization by any greater or lesser fraction of the class.
25 Bureaucracy and bureaucratization is the irresistible result of representation of labor’s class struggles, the functional administration of the social and physical fact of this representation in the workplace and in the class; the structural embodiment and accumulation of dead class struggles.
26 Trade unions are the durable and permanent form of labor organization under the capitalist social relation, produced and reproduced (generated and regenerated) in the course of labor’s class struggles. Other forms of labor organization are unable to maintain themselves and their unique functions outside of acute moments in the class struggle. Inevitably, those that are not dissolved by the workers or crushed by the agents of the capitalists in the course of the struggle become integrated into the existing trade unions.
27 Trade unions are those combinations of wage laborers who seek to prevent the price of labor-power from falling below its value; the price-fixing or cartelization of the wage through a permanent conspiracy against private property and property rights. Other forms of labor organization join and escalate this conspiracy during acute moments of the class struggle. Labor’s [collective, cumulative] center of resistance to capital is subject to such an expansion.
28 The concrete effect of worker behaviors was the primary device in establishing trade union norms and proletarian ethics. Behavior which would inhibit the extraction of new or harm efforts to defend past material gains (scabbing, snitching, shirking) became the biggest sins, while behavior which facilitated the struggle to win new or defend past material gains (solidarity, discipline, sacrifice) became the highest virtues.
29 The act of resistance to or making demands of the owners of private property is inherently subversive to property rights. Wage laborers confront the capitalist as the owner of their commodified labor, as variable capital (living capital), but never lose their identifying attribute as the personification of the end of capitalism.
30 Legitimacy is distinct from trust, faith and fear – though it may contain elements of each.
31 The establishment of trade union norms and trade union discipline were concurrent; violators of proletarian ethics and decision-making, be it perpetually lapsed dues-payers or scabs or stool pigeons or union wreckers, could be subject to sanctions and penalties ranging from fines to suspension to expulsion to physical destruction.
32 The proletariat contains an innate capacity to organize, centralize and reproduce its class ethics, decision-making and discipline in the lived experience of its class struggles against capital.
33 Trade unions are subject to a life cycle of formation, restructuring and merger (isolation, federation and amalgamation).
34 Regardless of whether a labor organization is led by reactionaries or revolutionaries; regardless of whether a labor organization is ultra-democratic or stiflingly bureaucratic in its structure; its basic essence remains unchanged.
35 The limit of the union-form is in the inherent tendency to sacrifice the interests of the minority for the majority (internally) and the interests of the majority for the minority (externally).
36 The political party of the working-class is indicative of proletarian class consciousness preceding action, while the trade unions and related forms of labor organization are indicative of action preceding proletarian class consciousness. The purpose of the workers’ political party is to place all labor organizations, organized and organizing labor, and the proletariat as a whole on the basis of consciousness preceding action. Political organization as workers’ party is the only form of labor organization constructed on the basis of consciousness preceding action. Attempts to create revolutionary trade unions, permanent factory committees and the like can only result in organizational abortions unable to fulfill party-functions and equally unable to fulfill trade union-functions.
37 Trade unionism as practice may develop beyond the immediate object of struggle and the original practice of resistance/demands. It develops from concerted action to mass action; a synthesis of actions.
38 Economic depression, rising unemployment, austerity, war-time deprivations and other shared experiences spur the creation of links in real time between and among existing struggles while simultaneously engendering new struggles. The class movement as revolutionary movement extends self-generalizing mass action dynamics to all workers and class struggles in a condensed and precarious window of time.
39 Labor’s class struggles will generate and regenerate organizations which develop beyond the union-form: organs of workers’ control (factory committees, workers’ councils) and organs of workers’ power (defense guards, armed workers).
40 Factory committees and workers’ councils manifest as the proletariat must take control over private property, the means of production and distribution, the fruits of labor and/or geographic territory as a necessary component in the situation of a given struggle.
41 Defense guards and the general arming of the workers is the expression of organized force (class violence) made in relation or reference to workers’ control – of private property, the means of production and distribution, the fruits of labor and/or geographic territory.
42 Workers’ control is the basis for the forms engendered by the practice, substance and structure of trade unionism and manifestations of organized and organizing labor to reach the most acute phase of the class struggle and produce the raw materials necessary for the construction of a workers’ state.
43 Escalating moral and physical coercion is a compulsion for organized and organizing labor in the assertion of its interests and needs. With a rising wave of class struggles, the scale of resistance/demands and control/power rise in tandem and the construction of a workers’ state becomes an immediate potential.
44 Trade unionism as the content of labor’s class struggles under the capitalist social relation may pose the question of power but cannot maintain control (of geographic territory or private property) or wield state power without the mediation of the workers’ political party.
45 Proletarian revolution is the proliferation of the organs of workers’ control/power as the trajectory of labor’s class struggles signal greater, higher expressions of the combat between wage labor and capital; when workers’ practice of resistance/demands become uniform and unified across trades, workplaces, industries, sectors, towns, cities, regions and nations.
46 Politicization of the class is accomplished by winning a fraction of the class, the minority selected and distilled from among participants of the workers’ practice of resistance/demands, concerted/mass actions and labor’s human architecture to the socialist programme, who will, in turn, transubstantiate workers’ concerted/mass actions and forms of labor organization (centers of resistance to capital) into the articulation and definition, consolidation and defense of state power as material gain.
47 The articulation and definition, consolidation and defense of state power as material gain is the inauguration of the dictatorship of the proletariat as workers’ state, and can only be affirmed by agents and subjects of the workers’ political party. The transubstantiation of the organs of workers’ control/power in the context of the development of increasingly acute class struggles manifested as self-generalizing mass action is the seizure of political power and the organization of workers’ control/power over society.
48 Physical embodiments of the socialist programme, the vanguard of the proletariat, organized as the political party of the working-class, articulate and define state power as material gain when (greater or lesser) fractions of the proletarian vanguard win the same mandate of legitimacy from their co-participants in labor’s class struggles as that of the organic leaders of organized and organizing labor.
49 The workers’ state as the definitive form of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the final and highest incarnation of labor’s class struggles under the capitalist social relation by virtue of trade unionism as the content of every form and manifestation of labor’s class struggles under the capitalist social relation.
50 When labor’s human architecture is won in greater or lesser numbers to the socialist programme, and the socialist minority of the class becomes part of labor’s human architecture, bestowed with a mandate of legitimacy from the proletariat, the consolidation and defense of state power as material gain is the structure of the organization of workers’ control over society, underwritten by workers’ power (organized force; class violence).
51 Labor’s center of resistance to capital expands to encompass state power and administers the social and physical fact of workers’ control (by and through workers’ power) over society.
52 Proletarian dictatorship as workers’ state: the proletariat wields state power to expropriate the capitalists, to raise wages, to lessen the hours of labor, to improve living and working conditions for the proletariat while pursuing measures to proletarianize the non-worker classes of society and bring all proletarians into the ranks of organized and organizing labor and so create the conditions for abolishing the workers’ state, wage labor, and capital.
53 Proletarian dictatorship is in perfect continuity with classical trade unionism, in its practice, substance and structure and its only possible origin in the lived experience of the struggle between wage labor and capital. It is the final form of labor organization engendered by trade unionism.
54 Escalation of the class struggles between personified wage labor and capital through to its most acute manifestations begins with the union-form, the political party of the working-class, the organs of workers’ control/power and reaches its organizational conclusion in the dictatorship of the proletariat as workers’ state.
55 The class for itself no more than the class in itself is but trade unionist.