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All Power to Strike Committees!

Grigory Isaev
Why do the Workers' Committees, the Unions and the Stachkoms Rot? (23 August, 2000)
Smooth Operators & Tricksters in Government (September 25, 2000)

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Smooth Operators & Tricksters in Government

Smooth Operators & Tricksters in Government

G. Isaev

G. IsaevWho knows how much thunder and lightning has been unleashed by the "friends" of the workers against the Samara Stachkom and PDP because we did not particpate in any way in the grand coalition, unprecedented in its sweep and power, against the new Labour Code (KZoT)! Moreover, up to now, we have not even mentioned it.


Because, this campaign in unusually senseless, deceptive and harmful. It distracts, and leads workers away from their main aims and tasks; it is only a pathetic circus for the Sheins, Shmakovs and Zhyuganovs... in "defense" of the rights of workers. Apart from themselves, and those they have fooled, this nonsense neither touches nor moves anyone.

It is a strange business; it seems that the masses are profoundly deaf to the general background noise produced by the mass media and to the desperate wailing of these "friends" of the workers about the harm that will be done by the new Labour Code. Why else was it that on the 17th of May, the commencement date for the general battle, the "mountain laboured and gave birth to a mouse?" Lets recall the way things were.

In his office, on the eve of the action, people's deputy Shein declared to the whole world, via the Internet, that the shock of this action would be comparable to that of the Rail Wars of 1998. For a week this people's deputy incited the grannies and then declared that more than 300,000 people had appeared at the barricades on the 17th. We can judge what really happened based on events here in our very own Samara, which, according to the glowing reports, shone as star of the first magnitude in the "class battles" of May. According to the account thrown together by S. Baiborodova, though where she got the figures I don't know, 1700 people gathered for the meeting. I myself was in the square and saw no more than 400. Since I have led dozens of such meetings I know, quite well, the difference between having hundreds of people facing you and thousands. At the meeting in question I greeted practically all of them; they knew me and I recognized them. Once you subtracted the militia that were there, the journalists, the boys in plainclothes and the rubber-neckers, you were left with a handful of better people; pensioners and invalid veterans. Now this is only a minor misfortune in the end, since as Suvorov said "Don't fight for numbers but for ability!" and there was some quality there.

But let's look at the revolutionary, class quality which was on display in Samara. S.Baiborodova said; "Participants in the meeting included; representative of the trade union 'Zashchita' (we will have more to say of these 'heros' later on), deputy to the Samara Gubernial Duma, Bobrova (CPRF), acting representative of the Oblast Union Committee for Workers in Construction and Building Materials, Shaimenov (CFTUR [Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Russia, the successor organization to the old, official trade union of the USSR, presently headed by M. Shmakov. PV]), representatives from the 'Progress' factory, the acting representative of the Union Committee for Chemical Enterprises from Chapaevsk (CFTUR), the Samara City Committee of the CPRF, the Oblast Committee of the RCRP, and a candidate for Governor of the Samara Oblast, A. Makashov. The secretary of the city committee of the CPRF proposed the founding (and at this point the journalists that I was standing with began to laugh) of a Samara Strike Committee (Stachkom) which would begin with a strike in June, and as a second stage, the blocking of roads." I might have added, "and an occupation of ZIM!" These guys have really gone back on the bottle!

We have listened to this rrrrevolutionary crowd a thousand times already and know their speeches by heart. Deadly dull! Just a lot of party secretaries, union bosses and clerks for workers' affairs pontificating. If only there were a fresh face or even one living idea. And where did they get all the materials and supplies, the props, the press, radio and television, the people from other cities ... - all this was rustled up for the benefit of Makashov who hankers after the title General-Governor. [He is already a general. PV] And as a result, the Samara committee "For the Defense of the Labour Code" is composed of those solid fighters for the workers' cause; "The representatives of 'Zashchita', the Deputy to the Samara Gubernial Duma, the CPRF, the RCRP, the Union of Communist Youth, the leaders of three branches of the CFTUR union, the Union of Samara City Workers." (This is the communist impoverishment that exists among the "better" people.)

To be honest, I have never seen a more obscurantist, anti-worker crowd than these. But, maybe, though we had no luck in Samara, elsewhere everything was OK! Well, we have a letter from Moscow in front of us. I will present it, with the permission of the author, somewhat shortened so as to avoid non-essential questions; "The overwhelming majority of workers and other toilers have not taken up the problem of the Labour Code as something vital to them, as something decisive in their lives. For in the majority of actually functioning enterprises, no labour code has existed for a long time now. In addition to the gigantic unemployment, there are thousands of barely functioning enterprises where people labour under near prison conditions, even if they are paid something or other now and again. In the biggest Moscow meat processing plant 'Mikoms' the 8 hour day has long since been eliminated, there people are working not the hours specified by law, but as much as the bosses need, frequently without overtime. And they are happy to have even this work. Outside the factory gates is a huge line waiting for their place; the problem of the Labour Code is a real one only where powerful, independent trade unions have been successfully created, capable of COMPELLING the bosses to act in accordance with the law. But these are few and far between in the land."

"So at the meeting in Moscow on the 17th of May, which was held at Avtozavod Square, of the 500 attendees, there were only a handful of workers from factories. The basic mass (just as here - GI) was composed of permanent participants in oppositional events. However, thanks to the fact that the initiative came from below, from the unions, the meeting was quite interesting; workers spoke while the state party operatives were not heard from; even Anpilov didn't get a word, and his supporters instigated a brawl on this basis. (In Samara, this didn't happen, here it was pure comedy! GI) The new Labour Code will be adopted all the more quickly, after which trade union work will become extremely difficult, if not entirely senseless. The workers have to forget about the courts, they can get nothing other than through decisive joint action of the whole collective." (D. Yakushev) I should remark that the 'Mikoms' plant mentioned in the letter is well known to us. We (together with the author) took an active part in founding the 'Zashchita' union there in 1998, as we did at the 1-GPZ plant. At that time we were on the miners picket at the Gorbat bridge, it was a year of a powerful upsurge in the workers movement in this country and the waves even reached Moscow.

Then, in that heated, militant situation (the workers took the gate post and the administration of the plant, literally by storm) the 'Zashchita' Union was founded. What is going on there today is clear from Yakushev's letter. We have never been opposed to such trade unions, for they are one form of organization of the proletariat. We ourselves founded the 'Solidarnost' trade union at ZIM, of which the majority of the Stachkom are members, including Isaev and Kotel'nikov. But we do sharply and categorically oppose the attitude to the unions, the labour code, collective bargaining and the courts which the Shein-type Marxists drum into the heads of the workers, thus turning them into a class of morons. We are triply opposed to the lies and deception of the 'friends' of the workers regarding the "class battles" surrounding the new Labour Code; there is no such thing.

Twice this summer we were in the Ural region, where people from dozens of large and small cities met. No one there told us of a single case where the events of May 17th were noticeable, large or significant. On the contrary, the guys asked; "What the hell was that anyway?" For example in the 2 million strong city of Ekaterinburg (a megalopolis of the industrial proletariat!) the actions against the Labour Code of the 17th of May brought 50-60 invalid-communists out to their habitual stomping ground. So what we have is that in Samara, Moscow and Ekaterinburg, these industrial giants, the "better" people drew not quite a thousand to the barricades. If we add to that the 15 rebels from St. Petersburg (see the account of A. Petrova on the 'Workers Democracy' site) then altogether we still don't get to one thousand. So where were the remaining 299,000 people? For the Shein headquarters clearly communicated to us that on that day the whole Russian proletariat had struggled and boiled over! And the peoples deputy charmed, or, more accurately, puffed himself up before the Europeans as the commander of a 300,000 strong army of protesters.

For shame, sir.

But why, why do the workers display such equanimity and indifference to the problem of the Labour Code? "The masses don't learn from books," said Lenin, "but from life." And life daily demonstrates that under the current (in general, not so terrible) Labour Code, 70% of the working class has been thrown into the street, decisions of the courts, taken for the benefit of the workers, are not fulfilled, the nominal (i.e. written) laws of Russia are a total fiction, the arbitrariness of the bosses and authorities grows, the workers leaders are fired, beaten or simply murdered. Doesn't the 'titanic' struggle of the 'friends' for the Labour Code, under such conditions, appear to be an obtuse, senseless and harmful occupation? Is this something which should occupy revolutionaries?

The general picture of the workers movement is that there are times when thanks to the personal energy, courage and selflessness of the workers leaders, they are able to unite and direct the workers' collectives, in all their fighting readiness, to take decisive action. There are such examples, they are known, even well-known; this is the most excellent model for action! But - But they are, as Yakushev writes, extremely rare, and this is also shown clearly in the large-scale experience of the 'Gorbat Bridge'. They are so rare that we practically know all of them personally. This is why we try to gather and unite with them, so that we will stand under a single banner, with a single nationwide strike committee (Stachkom), in one Proletarian party. We have been doing this work for not quite one year, since there appears to be no one else to do it, given the huge loss of energy which accompanies this empty and, for the exploiters, absolutely innocuous hoopla of the 'friends' surrounding the Labour Code, the Unions and collective bargaining.

Here is the point. The people can genuinely unite and organize only around ideas which are near and dear to them. The 17th of May proved to be a failure simply because it was alien to the masses. But what inspires and arouses the masses to struggle? What gets their courage up? Let's turn once more to Lenin; "We can correctly lead the masses only when we precisely express what they themselves recognize." This means that we don't need to re-invent the wheel, but must listen attentively to the "music of revolution," we must listen to what the masses themselves are saying.

And, in general, the growing rumble signifies that the masses can distinguish the communists, the democrats and the rest of the nobles from each other only by the colour of their political trousers. This is why, from election to election the number of voters falls; last time, in many localities, they simply fell apart from the failure of the electors to appear (25% participation is required). Does this not signify that the masses, in relation to the elections, have declared; "Down with the Communists and the Democrats!" Or, to put it in other words; down with all the exploiters, old and new. Really, isn't this the most obvious slogan of the day? The overwhelming majority of the voters have abandoned the slightest belief in the presidents, the Dumas, the government, the state, EVERYBODY! Doesn't this mean that the authority must be changed, that New people are needed?

Yes. That is what it means. But how can this be done, where can the New people be found when the elections are the most impudent, unbridled fraud! Let us once again take an attentive look at life, for there lie all the answers. Yes, there! And life again and again shows us the tender shoots, the clear examples of New authority and New people, which, even at point blank range, our Peoples Deputies, communists, Marxists, Trotskyists and the rest cannot see.

At times of powerful and decisive strikes, at what ever scale, (work unit, brigade, factory, city, region,) authority really, in the literal sense, is to be found in the committees of striking workers. Such strikes can last anywhere from a few hours (work unit, brigade) to week and months (region). This was repeated, and not just once, at the time of the powerful mass strike of the miners, which began in the legendary year 1989.

Mister Marxist, do you really not hear, can you not see that life itself dictates these simple and clear slogans;

  • Down with Dumas and Presidents!
  • All Power to the Stachkoms!

And so, in summary;

  • Hail the Revolution! Hail the New October!

But you and your relations want to go all out for the Labour Code; Wake Up! If you still can.

I am proud of my party. I am proud of the fighting experience of the Samara Stachkom and of its revolutionary slogans. I am proud of the fact that the PDP does not have a single supporter from among you so-called Marxists. But, gentlemen, you should know; in a quarter of a century, of open and underground struggle, we have not once (not once!) met with any objection to our ideas or our slogans from working people. And our audience is in the work units and brigades, the factories, the streets and squares, the Gorbat Bridge and the hills of the Urals.

An important remark for foreign readers. Fanciers of the Labour Code in the struggle "for the happiness of the workers" are binding themselves hand and foot to our communists, to our communist movement. This movement presents itself as having the subtle and precise sense of what is most important in the political life of Russia, and as undertaking and accomplishing an enormous labour for the victory of common cause of the workers. But I would add the following footnote to each and every one of the words of those who characterize themselves as friends of the workers and who carry a party card in their pocket.

"I consider that the so-called "communist movement" is, today, the most evil and worst enemy of the working class, and that this is a disgrace from the country which gave the world's proletariat the October Revolution. History has given them 10 years and what has happened. Everything which they have done has brought them, and more importantly the class, to the brink of a terrible catastrophe. Our proletariat is threatened either with eventual partition by the imperialist power, all the way up to armed occupation, or a tragedy similar to the year 1933 in Germany. And no one besides the workers can help themselves or the country. The situation is desperate. Only the maximum mobilization of all the internal forces of the class can change this situation. The "communist movement" clings to the body of the working class on all sides, blocking all its pores and prevent it from breathing."

"And just as our workers begin to recover from this terrible historical defeat, begin to raise their voices, these scoundrels beat them over the head, trying to push them back into the category of a 'mass' which can only remain obedient to its condescending, self-styled guides. We must make war against the "communist movement!" It is permeated through and through with bourgeois spirit, the philosophy of inequality, the psychology of the "middle class," with out-and-out nationalism and bureaucratism."

"These mediocrities were courageous only when the state with its repressive apparatus stood behind them. They only know how to "rule the masses." They all still believe that revolution can be made only by the departmental secretaries of the central committee. They don't have much time left to live in this world of bureaucratic illusion. The reaction will pick them off like bedbugs, and tell them to hit the road! Perhaps the time will come, when they get a kick in the groin with a steel-toed boot, that they will learn something. To the Devil with them!..."

But it is not the Devil that is with them, it is Shein and company. These renegades from communism, in their bureaucratic essence, are the smooth operators and tricksters of government through and through. They only REPORT! And how smooth everything is in their offices; with their numbers, their protocols, the resolutions and accounts. What a difference there is between the lustre of paper and that of life.

But it is only in the West that they can pull the wool over anyone's eyes. In Russia the fighters for the Labour Code are a complete zero. They are like parasites on those rare heroic collectives, on the courage and bravery of the proletarian fighters; these bourgeois blood-sucker, these vampire are trying to drag the working class back into the past. Possibly, their mistakes (delusions) arise out of 'honest' motives, but, as Engels said; "this is opportunism and will remain opportunism, and 'honest' opportunism is as dangerous as the rest!"

Everything which has been said above applies in full measure not only to these thoroughly rotten "Marxists", but also to the "Workers Democracy" circle, the "Movement for a Workers Party", that deformed union of egotists, and, based on its first steps, also to the www.left.ru site. With the exception of a single article, the latter presents not a single live word. However, this boat is just sitting in the water, it has not even left the dock. We wish them an expanding proletarian wind in their sails.

September 25, 2000

The interpreter on the English language - Perry Vodchik

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