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As a Labor News show, we talk about unions constantly and how vital they are to building any sort of socialist project. But the labor movement has been around a long time without prompting a revolution, so what should our organizing tactics be if our ultimate goal isn’t just slightly better wages and working conditions, but a revolutionary transformation of society? On this patrons-only episode, Dan dives into Lenin’s work to dig into the Marxist perspective on union organizing and its relationship to socialist politics. Contrasting the Bolsheviks’ orientation on the trade union movement to revolutionary syndicalism and social democratic reformism, Lenin aimed for a dialectical approach to the process of raising working class consciousness both within and without the trade union movement. While acknowledging the different material conditions 100 years later, there’s still a lot we can learn as organizers about the difficult balance of agitating within often reformist institutions in order to meet the masses where they are. This review of Lenin’s theoretical work on the subject centers on the lessons learned from the long struggle for a unified workers movement and how we can apply them today.
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