Strikes and trade union history

An organiser for black workers

Author: 

Michael Johnson

Ernest Rice McKinney (1886-1984) was a black US trade union organiser, revolutionary socialist and former National Secretary of the Third Camp Workers Party USA.

Born in Malden, in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley, McKinney’s father was a coal miner and later a teacher as was McKinney’s mother. McKinney Sr. eventually landed a job at the US Treasury through his involvement in the Republican Party, which had widespread black support in the decades after the American Civil War.

Ernest Rice McKinney (1886-1984) was a black US trade union organiser, revolutionary socialist and former National Secretary of the Third Camp Workers Party USA.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Collapse and resistance: the workers' movement facing World War One

Translated extracts from Alfred Rosmer's The Workers’ Movement during the First World War which tell the story of how the French trade union federation the CGT collapsed.

In the twenty or thirty years before World War One, mass socialist and trade union movements were built across Europe, starting off very small in the 1880s and acquiring such strength by, say, 1905 that most of their activists believed that they would soon be able to overthrow capitalism.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

When we debated Vladimir Derer

The May 1979 general election, in which Labour Party leaders who had systematically turned against their working-class base since winning office in 1974 were defeated by Thatcher’s Tories, triggered rank-and-file revolt in the Labour Party.

Local Labour activists, and for a while even some trade union leaders, rallied around the slogan “Never again”. They vowed to win changes in Labour Party structure and policy which would tie future Labour governments to the mandates and interests of the labour movement.

Excerpts from an early 80's debate about the fight for Labour Party democracy.

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

The Red Flag

The people's flag is deepest red, 
It shrouded oft our martyred dead, 
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold, 
Their hearts blood dyed its every fold. 

The great anthem of the labour movement, written in 1889 by Jim Connell, a one-time Fenian, on a train journey from Charing Cross to New Cross Gate.

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Working-class history at Ideas for Freedom

The AWL believes that socialist organisations must be the “memory of the working class”. A big part of our job is to preserve, rediscover, discuss and spread the lessons and inspiration of past struggles, victorious and defeated.

Our annual event, Ideas for Freedom (3-6 July), will include many discussions on working-class history, with a focus on the First World War and the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.

Our annual event, Ideas for Freedom (3-6 July), will include many discussions on working-class history, with a focus on the First World War and the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

The Irish Trotskyists of the 1940s condemn "Irish only" trade unionism

A leaflet produced by the small Irish Trotskyist group in the mid 1940s, after nationalists split the Irish trade union movement.

A leaflet produced by the small Irish Trotskyist group in the mid 1940s, after nationalists split the Irish trade union movement.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Mussolini and Italian fascism

Unlike Hitler Mussolini had made compromises with the monarchy and the Church (in 1929 he gave the Vatican the status of an independent state and allowed the two million-strong Catholic Action to continue to function). Mussolini also had to manoeuvre between, balance, and play-off several competing cliques inside his own movement. Regional fascist organisations were organised through powerful local bosses often linked to organised crime.

The second part of article on Mussolini and Italian fascism.

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Mussolini and Italian fascism

“I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.” Primo Levi

“It is necessary, with bold spirit and in good conscience, to save civilisation. We must halt the dissolution which corrodes and corrupts to roots of human society. The bare and barren tree can be made green again. Are we not ready?” Antonio Gramsci

A rapid and intensive development of modern, industrial capitalism took place north eastern Italy, especially in the area in and between Genoa, Milan and Turin, in the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the first two of the twentieth.

Mussolini acquired a reputation — among sections of the British press, for example — as a pompous buffoon. Although his unrestricted narcissism and bullying pretentiousness were indeed ridiculous, Mussolini’s underlying weakness was the disparity between his aggressive, imperialist posturing and what relatively weak Italian capitalism was capable of.

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Frank Little, IWW organiser, lynched, 1917

Frank Little was an American trade unionist who, at the time of his death, sat on the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World.

He was lynched in 1917 by six masked vigilantes; his “crime” was organising workers and denouncing the government in his speeches, calling US troops “Uncle Sam’s scabs in uniform”.

Frank Little, organiser and General Executive Board member of the IWW, was murdered by gunmen in Butte, Montana in 1917.

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Pages