On Munis' "Demands"

"Contrary to Munis' assertion that unions have abandoned their reformist function and have adopted a reactionary one, it is reformism itself which has become reactionary in the context of capitalism today. The entire reformist program is no longer valid and can only serve as a diversion to regroup workers around the illusions which protect the interests of the capitalist class. That Munis has not fully assimilated the futility of reformats formulations is demonstrated by his suggestions regarding transitional demands.

"Demands for 'a reduction of the working day to five or six hours with no wage decrease,' for a 'refusal to carry out any increase in productivity if the working class doesn't benefit,' for 'complete freedom at the work place' are purely utopian within capitalism as Munis would undoubtedly recognize. These kinds of demands may serve as a point of departure for certain workers' struggles but it is only to the extent that workers' struggles go beyond them to challenge the fundamental basis of the system that these demands do not fall into wishful reformism. Munis seems to reject unionism as a form without completely rejecting its content: hollow reformism even if it does not limit itself to wage demands as such.

"Reformism perpetuated outside union structures can be a grave handicap to the further development of wildcat movements. Partial consciousness rigidified into transitional programs and slogans is the most easily co-optable tool of the bourgeoisie. Utopian demands cannot mobilize the working class on a class basis, particularly when they are put forward by revolutionaries whose entire analysis consists in demonstrating their futility."



"Unionism corresponded to a particular historical period of workers' struggles. Its form was determined by its reformist content Unions regrouped only a minority of the working class, lust enough to be able to put pressure on the capitalist class. Unions organized workers in the image of the capitalist system itself: according to trade, lob skills, industrial sector. Unions became increasingly bureaucratized as capitalism itself became more complex. Hierarchical relations became the norm as unions entered the field of bourgeois legality. Economic demands were the unions' exclusive preoccupation and a political view of the system was relegated to a separate compartment: the political parties But as long as reformism was a valid perspective, unions continued to play a role in improving the lot of the working class.

"But with reformism an illusion in a period of permanent crisis, the unions' role became that of mobilizing the working class behind the bourgeoisie in peace and wartime They guaranteed the subordination of workers' demands to the capitalist criteria of increased productivity and competitiveness In a system in danger, unions insured the swift channelling of any dangerous discontent which might threaten to overthrow the system. Unions became an essential pillar of support for capitalism's continued existence. Those who speak of 'the good old days' of the CIO, for example, are replaying a crushing defeat The CIO was the perfect mechanism conceived and encouraged by Roosevelt and his 'worker' collaborators, to insure the channelling of workers discontent during the depression, and despite the brave struggles of the rank and file workers, their 'victory' was an illusion.

"Among the tasks which the CIO undertook was to help the capitalists introduce speedups and other types of 'rationalisation' into the process of production (increasing the rate of exploitation of the workers to help introduce compulsory overtime (extension of the working day), and to facilitate the laying off of masses of workers But the real nature of this so-called 'victory' is nowhere better seen than in the millions of dead and wounded workers whom the unions helped to mobilize for the second imperialist world war."


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