Labor Action special May 1955: The Working Class is Key

Why Socialists look to the Working Class as the Force for Social Progress


Hal Draper

For social change toward a better world, socialists believe the most important and indeed decisive social force is the struggle of the working class. Why the working class? Why do socialists believe there is a special connection between their own great goal of a new society and the interests of labor, this one segment of society?

Is it because we "idealize" workers as being better, or more clever, or more honest, or more courageous, or more humanitarian, than non-workers?

The Special U.S. Background

The American labor movement is different from the labor movement in any other country. One of the ways in which it differs most strikingly from most other national labor movements in the capitalist portion of the world is that it is non-socialist and even anti-socialist. How do American socialists account for this fact?

The Class Struggle and the Trade Unions

"There is no class struggle in America": This precept now belongs in the American catechism along with the little boy who chopped down the cherry tree but wouldn't lie.

And, as prescribed by the official Way of Life, unions obstinately refuse to "recognize" the class struggle and boast proudly that they remain aloof from it. But it "recognizes" the unions; in fact, it creates them. Despite the most sincere protestations of labor officials, unions practice the class struggle and a hundred times a day demonstrate its persistence.

The Working Class: Bulwark of Democracy

The fate of the working class depends upon democracy, and the fate of democracy depends upon the working class. This simple truth illuminates all problems of modern politics. Where labor enjoys democracy, it will fight tenaciously to preserve it. Where it has lost democracy, its first goal becomes its restoration.

What Socialists want in the Trade Unions

Trade unions are first formed to achieve simple aims: to win higher wages, to seek shorter hours, to improve working conditions. But these simple goals are only the beginning. As unions become stronger, as the working class becomes
larger, new and far more complicated tasks are forced upon them.

Independent political action - The Next Step: labor's own party

"We live in a world where everybody is bound to take care of himself. Yet the English working class allows the landlord, capitalist, and retail trading classes, with their tail of lawyers, newspaper writers, etc., to take care of its interests. No wonder reforms in the interests of the workman come so slow and in such miserable dribbles.

The working people of England have but to will, and they are the masters to carry every reform, social and political, which their situation requires. Then why not make that effort?"

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.