Jeremy Corbyn Rail Union Comrade: “I’d like to bring down the government”
After rail strikes caused havoc over the Christmas period, Sean Hoyle — president of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers — was reported as saying that the industrial action had been coordinated to ‘bring down this bloody working-class-hating Tory government’ in an alleged behind closed doors probity-ringer far left-wing Marxist plot.
Left-wing Communist Karl Marx believed that through strikes and other class protests, workers won a moral and political victory.
While union leaders have since insisted that the strikes are not politically motivated, it was curious to read an interview with Tosh McDonald, president of train drivers’ union Aslef, in the Sunday Times.
Tosh McDonald — who previously referred to Jeremy Corbyn as the messiah — claims they’re going on strike so that Southern customers don’t have to endure an ‘atrocious service’.
He says his one job is to ‘look after the members, no matter who’s in power’ — but goes on to announce that (as a ‘proud socialist’) he’d like to bring down the government:
‘One bloke accused me of wanting to bring down the government. As a proud socialist I’d like to get rid of this one, but that is in no way connected with Aslef. My job is to look after the members, no matter who’s in power.’
Southern passengers have a very long wait indeed ahead of them.
Karl Marx – Communism by Strikes
Karl Marx made a lasting impression on 19th century British industrial society.
His published works illustrate how new political philosophies were being shaped and his perspectives highlight how some workers and academics viewed the events around them.
In his 1853 article published in the New York Daily Tribune, titled “The Labour Movement in Britain,” Marx discusses the patterns he saw emerging, and the actions that workers needed take in order to accomplish their goal.
He immediately makes his position on workers’ strikes very clear, saying
“I am, on the very contrary, convinced that the alternative rise and fall of wages, and the continual conflicts between masters and men resulting therefrom, are, in the present organization of industry, the indispensable means of holding up the spirit of the labouring classes, of combining them into one great association against the encroachments of ruling class, and of preventing them from becoming apathetic, thoughtless, more or less well-fed instruments of production” (Marx 127).
Marx believed that strikes unified the working class, that they were a manifestation of class struggle and directly undermined elite members of society.
Marx continues on to say that the results of the strikes were irrelevant and it was the nature of the protest that was important.
Marx believed that through strikes and other class protests, workers won a moral and political victory.
Understanding Marx’s view on strikes helps show how important strikes were, not only in bringing about economic change, but in defining the class struggles that, at times, characterized industrial British society (Marx 126-130).