A. Lozovsky
Marx and the Trade Unions


This book goes beyond the scope of its title.

First of all, because it gives not only the position of Marx on the trade unions, but also that of Engels, who is second to Marx as creator of the theory, strategy and tactics of revolutionary Marxism.

Second, the tasks of the trade unions can be correctly defined only on the basis of the general class tasks of the proletariat—this leads to going beyond the framework of narrow trade union problems and to studying the political line of Marx and Engels concerning the problems of the labour movement.

Third, history is the most political and most partisan science of all sciences. To study the past without relation to the present is possible only for persons who either have no sense of party or political responsibility whatever, or whose sense of this responsibility has become completely atrophied.

There are people who believe that to be a historian or a keeper of archives is almost one and the same thing, the only difference being that the keeper of archives collects documents of the past, while the historian comments on these documents, without leaving the framework of this past. This is wrong. The historian utilises documents concerning the past, but if he fails to see things beyond the walls of his archives, if he does not leave the palisade of the past, if he fails to glance over the fence hedging off old historical dates, he considerably lessens the value of his work. The past must help our struggle to-day. Otherwise it is not worth while spending time studying it. The positive and negative experiences acquired in the past must arm us for the struggle for a better future. The task is not only to study the world, but to transform it.

This is what the author had in mind when he sat down to shed light on the trade union heritage of Marx and Engels. After having thoroughly analysed the views of Marx and Engels in the field of the trade union movement and economic struggle, I realised clearly that we were late, that we should not have waited for the 50th anniversary of the death of Marx, but should long ago have collected all the views of Marx and Engels on the trade union movement and the economic struggle of the working class. Indeed, we are late. However, better late than never.

Marx and Engels are modern; they are modern not only in what they themselves wrote, but in what their successors, their best pupils, have been doing since their departure from the battlefield. This means that we must study carefully what Lenin and Stalin contributed to the problem of immediate interest to us. That is why the author considers this book to be only a beginning. The second part will be Lenin and the Trade Unions, the third part, Stalin and the Trade Unions, while all three parts together will constitute Revolutionary Marxism and the Trade Union Movement. This work must include not only the pre-war experience of the socialist and trade union internationals, but also the experience of the Marxian experience of the Communist International and the Red International of Labour Unions. It was time, high time, that this work was started. I hope that our strong historians will be drawn into the task and that all will jointly succeed in working out the theory, strategy and tactics of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin in the trade union movement.

If this book will serve as an impetus, as a starting-point in furthering this great and complicated task of making a Marxian analysis of the theoretical and tactical principles of the international revolutionary trade union movement, its publication will have been justified.

A. L.

Moscow, March 14, 1933.


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