25 mai 2013

Social-democracy (1883-1914) -2: against the charter of Amiens

Submitted by Anonyme (non vérifié)

The problem at the end of the 19th century was the following: the working class was uneducated, the industrial revolution still going on, marked by an unequal development.

And if the working class began to organize, it was on a economical basis, for solidarity and for the right to form associations, in an atmosphere of strict repression.

On the other side, the Marxist theoreticians were still outside from the working class. And they were not the only “intellectuals” that wanted to go to the working class: bourgeois intellectuals wanted in some cases to mobilize the working class in the sense of bourgeois liberal reforms.

Revolutionary trade-unionism was born in theory against the influence of bourgeois intellectuals in the working class: it was the sense of the rebellion of the Hungarian Ervin Szabó, but it appears that soon it moves to a rebellion against theory in general.

The working class would be sufficient in itself, it would not need a theory, only a practice coming from direct reality; science was a pretense for bureaucrats to be “officials” and to parasitize the working class.

So, Ervin Szabó began his political career as a revolutionary student who wanted that the intellectual youth join the working class, who was uneducated and couldn't even read. He played a role in the formation of the social-democracy as mass movement organized in a party of cadres, but he finished being really afraid of the possible influence of the revisionists, the careerists in the party.

Therefore, Ervin Szabó rejected politics in general, which he summed up as parliamentarism organized only to benefit “officials”, and he praised trade-unionism, school of action possible for any worker.

It is easy to see that Ervin Szabó considered as impossible an organic connexion between the leader and the masses – and this is precisely what Kautsky will theorize, and that Lenin will formulate ideologically and politically with the bolshevik party.

The country where this “revolutionary syndicalist” conception had the most impact was France. Anti-political currents had the cultural-ideological hegemony in the working class, because Marxism was not known.

 That is why the trade-union that was build at the end of the 19th century fell in the hands of revolutionary syndicalism; at its 9th congress that was hold in 1906, a “charter” was adopted in the city of Amiens by the General Confederation of Labour.

Written by its leader Victor Griffuelhes (1874-1922) and by Émile Pouget (1860 – 1931), it is a open refusal of anything having to do with ideology or politics.

Here is what is said:

“The Confederation’s congress of Amiens confirms Article 2 as foundational of the CGT.

Outside of all political schools, the CGT groups together all workers conscious of the fight to be carried out for the disappearance of the salaried and of employers.

The Congress regards this declaration as a recognition of the class struggle which, on the economic plain, sets the workers in revolt in opposition to all forms of exploitation and oppression — material as well as moral — put in place by the capitalist class against the working class.

The congress clarifies — by the following points — this theoretical assertion.

In daily protest work the union pursues the coordination of working class efforts, and the growth of the well being of workers, through the carrying out of immediate improvements, such as the diminution in work hours, the increase in salaries, etc. But this task is only one side of the work of syndicalism: it prepares complete emancipation, which can only be fulfilled by expropriation of the capitalists; it advocates as a method of action the general strike; and it considers that the union, today a resistance group will be, in the future, a group for production and redistribution, the basis of social reorganization.

The Congress declares that this double task, daily and in the future, flows from the situation which weighs on the working class, and which renders obligatory for all workers — whatever their opinions or their political or philosophical leanings — membership in that essential group that is the union.

In consequence, as far as it concerns individuals, the Congress asserts the complete freedom for union member to participate — outside of his corporate grouping — in those forms of struggle that correspond to his philosophical or political concepts, limiting itself to asking him in exchange to not introduce into the union the opinions he professes outside it.

As far as it concerns organizations, the Congress declares that in order for syndicalism to achieve its maximum effect, economic action must be carried out directly against the bosses, the confederated organizations not having to involve themselves, as a union group, with parties and sects that can, outside and alongside, pursue social transformation in complete freedom.”

This “charter of Amiens” became one the main pillar of anti-communism in France, a great barrier against dialectical materialism.