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Workers are thinkers

Nothing is more insulting to the history of working class struggle than the notion, born of ignorance and malevolence, that workers have to be instructed and commanded to do the correct thing. Indeed, according to some of the disconnected, to do anything at all.

Of course, individual workers are capable of behaving in a way that invites instruction and command. Religious adherence is an example that springs to mind. This is a voluntary suspension of responsibility for independent thought, a description that applies to all religious-like behaviours, some of which may describe themselves as 'political'.

Any behaviour guided by any form of idealistic thought is susceptible to the process of command by those further along the path towards the attainment of the ideal state. The racially pure shall rule the world and remove the contamination of the inferior. Those closer to God shall rule the less enlightened and those most pure in their 'socialist' ideals can do anything they like to anyone. None of this has been the history of workers in Britain. We fought the Nazis. We are the least religious class in the world and have consistently rejected all political idealisms.

How many initiatives by national union executive bodies are truly successful unless the impetus for such activity came from well-attended branch meetings? Therein lies the problem. The avoidance of responsibility, and consequent suspension of participation, leads to the temptation of structural leaderships to substitute themselves for the absent class and indulge in a delusion of commandism.

How annoying it must be for would be 'theorists' that the working class refuses to behave according to their design. How wonderful that in practice, in Britain at least, no workplace could be successfully ordered to act in relation to a struggle particular to that workplace.

This is not some failure in the evangelical talents of would be leaders or some anarchistic streak within the working class. Those involved in practice know that success depends on the analysis of the situation by collective thought, via exchange of mind between those involved. This analysis is refined through successive stages of the ongoing practice.

Such independent collective thought is the most powerful weapon that workers have in confronting class problems. When it can be truly expressed via a national organisation, such as that developed by the Amalgamated Engineering Union, then a whole skill sector and/or industry can become a massive power. How about a Communist Party as a class-wide one?

Past success has been entirely due to the ability of the working class to develop forms of organisation that allow its component thought to determine action. The only thing that can defeat this is the cessation of exchange of mind by workers themselves. Workers are thinkers because they have to be.