ON THE EXPERIENCE OF THE STRUGGLE OF THE TEACHERS IN OUR COUNTRY
1. The class unions should organize the economic struggle of the workers.
The strike committee today should actually be considered an organizing body. The strike committee is a temporary organ formed by the work collective with the aim of leading protest actions. The strike committee organizes the resistance of the workers against the exploiting classes only in the course of concrete periods, in periods of a particularly high level of mass activity. The strike committee that has been formed in a spontaneous manner by the work collective in periods of relative calm, between strikes, dissolves itself or, in the best of cases, dedicates itself simply to the accumulation of forces for new struggles. This form of workers' organization in general is not equipped with a material and technical base.
The union, on the contrary, can be considered as the most elementary form of stable class organization that, among other functions, is dedicated to observing the attitude of the bourgeoisie and has the capacity to organize the masses in the struggle for the defense of their social rights, and for the preparation of new actions with the aim of achieving new social victories. In the course of a strike the union creates a temporary strike committee to direct the struggle. This strike committee has the ability to make use of the material and technical base that the union has.
The strike committee solves questions that are more specific and organic than the union. The strike committee as an organizational form of the proletariat, by its functions and abilities is a lower form of organization than the union.
Therefore, any state of deception or indignation of the work collective should be used for the creation of a permanent organization of the proletariat, the union. We recommend to all the work collectives to adopt as their basis the experience of the proletarian union «Defense». The editorial board of «Proletarskaya Gazeta» («Proletarian Newspaper») has at its disposal complete information about the formation and activities of this union.
2. In each educational center it is necessary to form a union of teachers and educators.
In the composition of the union of educators there should be included other school employees such as assistants, cleaners, caretakers, technical personnel who are also employed by the Department of Education. In this case there should be formed a compact, solid organization which represents all the employees in the schools, who have common social interests and are prepared to act in a coordinated and unanimous manner. At the same time the authority and respect for the struggle of the educators will be raised in the general context of the struggle of the workers, they will overcome the narrow boundaries of professional egoism.
On the other hand, all the employees of the higher administrative and directing bodies should be excluded from this type of class organization.
These people are the direct executors and administrators of the interests of the bourgeoisie due to their high position on the administrative scale of the state apparatus. The presence of these type of people who are representatives of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of a workers' union is unnatural and dangerous for the organization of the proletariat. As a result, the whole of the higher administration should be excluded from the formation of the class organization. The admission of those types of people into the heart of the union represents a potential danger of dissolution of the union in the future.
3. Once the union of educators at the educational center has been formed it is necessary to try to aid in the formation of similar organizational structures at other educational centers with the aim of uniting these organizations (even if only at two schools) at the city-wide and regional level.
The union at a single school can be easily dissolved and liquidated due to the passive character of the mass of educators. Legally it is possible to dissolve the educators' collective at a school during a strike and to redistribute the students to other schools.
The more powerful the union is in terms of militancy the harder it is for the bourgeoisie to destroy it. The tendency towards unification of forces in the heart of the working class is stimulated mainly by the level of community of interests. The community of interests is manifested directly in the heart of section of the workers. The bourgeoisie understands perfectly well the danger that this circumstance engenders. Therefore the bourgeoisie tries every means to disintegrate the forces of the exploited masses, creating categories of workers, groups and territories with privileged positions.
The closer their interests, the more compact the alliance of the exploited will be, and the clearer will be the objectives of the struggle. This fundamental aspect of the practical activity of the struggle of the proletariat is imbued with the struggle for the formation of class unions.
After the creation of union structures at a local level it is necessary to expand the organizing and professional effort to higher levels, to city, regional and state levels.
To get stuck on formal questions is counter-productive: the name of the union, legal questions, the organizational structure and other questions are secondary. In these questions one must appeal to the sense of proletarian responsibility.
In those places where union activity is prohibited or is limited by the bourgeois power, it is necessary to form illegal structures or ones under the protection of already existing union structures that the bourgeoisie has not been able to suppress.
4. With the strengthening of the union of educators it is necessary to undertake agitational and organizational work for the unification of union structures of other similar professions, such as doctors, employees in research institutes, universities. In those cases where such union structures do not exist it is necessary to encourage in every way possible the formation of such structures.
If the exploited masses form union structures that are independent of each other, if these structures are not coordinated for the struggle for their common interests, the bourgeoisie will inevitably utilize this to strengthen their own interests. The bourgeoisie will bribe entire union organizations and will do everything possible to counterpose the interests of different sections of the working class, that is, to force different sectors of the working class to struggle among themselves to the detriment of their class interests, thus strengthening the position of the bourgeoisie.
For example not long ago in Russia the bourgeoisie did everything possible to provoke a confrontation between the striking miners and the workers in the energy and transportation sectors.
Only the proletariat organized on a class level constitutes a danger to the bourgeois system. Therefore, it is necessary to put forward as a strategic objective the organization of the proletariat on a class level. However each step along the path determined by this strategic objective encounters obstacles: it is necessary to break with the tendency to restrict oneself to the particular interests of each group of workers and instead to try to form broad class organizations on the basis of elementary community of interests of various categories of workers.
5. The union struggle of the educators can be successful only on the basis of the unification of the unions of educators with the struggle of the unions of workers in the industrial sector.
The capitalist decides to yield to the exploited only in case the extraction of profits is in danger at the given moment or in the near future due to the organized struggle of the proletariat.
The work of the educators is very particular, since the gains of the teaching is shown only in the relatively distant future when the students reach the age to be able to produce profits for the capitalists with their labor. Because of this the capitalists do not worry much about the struggle of the educators as long as they are isolated from the struggle of other working people. The bourgeoisie worries only about the extraction of profits at the given moment. The capitalists are not interested in the future. Therefore the bourgeois government does not hesitate to close educational centers and under no circumstance does it make concessions to educators on strike.
The industrial workers on strike inflict losses on the capitalists in an immediate manner. Therefore the capitalists are forced to make concessions to the industrial workers if they are organized and act decisively, if the bourgeoisie cannot suppress the strike by violent means or by deceit.
Thus the union organizations of educators need to find ways for joint work with workers' unions in the industrial sectors, confronting the bourgeoisie with joint slogans.
6. The union of educators should establish in the educational centers organs of self-management which later on should join with the organization of educators to form the soviet of the educational center. The organization of the whole work collective in the educational center, which should also include the students on the basis of common demands, will also strengthen the struggle of the educators.
From the point of view of the social struggle of the educators let us clarify two fundamental questions.
The students in the higher grades, if they are organized, are a force capable of helping the struggle of the educators. On many occasions the aid of the higher grade students can be more successful and decisive than even the struggle of the educators themselves, since the students are not directly dependent on the bourgeois administration. They are freer from their chains.
In the course of the strike the higher grade students can take distinct initiatives:
- to inform the public of the social demands of the strike;
- to distribute agitational material;
- to protect the schools, demonstrations, pickets and union activists;
- to organize the youth against the closing of the schools and to prevent repressive actions by the bourgeois power;
- to organize solidarity actions with the strikers;
- to collect resources for the strike fund;
- to mobilize their family members to create a moral, material, technical,legal and physical base of support for the strikers;
This type of practice was developed recently in the Russian city of Pskov during a strike of educators, producing positive results.
The education in new forms of conduct acquired in the course of the activities promoted by the self-management in the schools can lead to a decisive social achievement. Subjectively, the future of our society will be determined by the degree of consciousness of the students of today. In this sense the great social and class achievement and relevance of education in general and in particular is shown.
7. In the course of the strike the classes in the educational center should be canceled decisively and immediately.
The main point of any strike consists in forcing the capitalist to make concessions to the work collective, since the strike threatens the extraction of profits through the total or partial paralyzing of the productive process. The continuation of educational activities during the strike of educators would transform the strike into nothing more than a farce, a spectacle, a self-deception. Such strikes are beneficial to the capitalists since the work collective continues carrying out their work with the same shcedule and intensity but without payment. Not even the threat of closing down the school can justify this irrational conduct on the part of the work collective. This type of fear is a naive since such an indecisive attitude will never prevent the capitalists from closing down the schools. This type of practice is nothing but an expression of the political ineptitude of the organizers of the strike or, even worse, a provocation. The official schedule of classes must be cancelled completely.
This forced cancellation of the schedule of classes creates certain favorable conditions for the legitimate struggle of the educators. During the strike the educational facilities can be utilized to develop a series of activities:
- to give classes in certain subjects to students with poor academic performance;
- to give classes in social subjects necessary for the development of the social consciousness of the masses;
- to organize discussions on topics related to the union strike struggle;
- to organize musical activities of a high social character for the welding together of the collective of educators and the working masses
These activities should consist of students, students' families and the working masses in general.
Despite the formal cancellation of the schedule of classes the school facilities should become a social center of activity through which the respect and recognition of the educators' profession is strengthened.
8. During the strike of educators, public demonstrations and picket lines should be organized near the factories and in general should put forward activities in which the working masses can participate. Such activities have the function, among others, of calling the attention of the working masses to the labor conflict of the educators.
The organization of limited picketing and only at the doors of official institutions and organs of power in this situation is unproductive and is nothing but a sign of lack of political preparation and laziness on the part of the strikers.
In regard to the legal aspect of the strike of educators, the strike committee should inform officially and in writing the administration of the educational center of the imminence of the strike. It is necessary to utilize the contradictions of the bourgeois system, to make use of the bourgeois institutions to struggle against the system. At the same time the collective on strike should expose before public opinion the criminal character of the regime of exploitation, including direct charges against the most notable representatives of the bourgeois regime. Therefore the strikers should make the greatest possible use of the mass media.
9. The success of the educators' strike depends on the degree of proletarian solidarity that the educators can obtain in the course of the struggle for their legitimate demands.
So far we have considered only the economic aspects of the struggle. The economic struggle creates the necessary conditions for the transition to the stage of political demands. The positive results of this phase of the labor struggle are sufficiently unstable and ephemeral as long as the bases for exploitation do persist with all the negative consequences for the exploited. In accord with the nature of the capitalists, they never cease their activity of exploitation and consequently the exploitation of the working masses has a tendency to worsen. The capitalists will do everything possible to wipe out the social gains obtained by the struggle of the proletariat. For this the bourgeoisie will utilize the most perverse means.
However the proletariat learns in the course of the class struggle. The theory of the class struggle helps the proletariat to recognize the source of its precarious social situation, the nature of the class enemy, the perspectives and aims of its struggle until final and total liberation.
Since the proletariat begins to learn the experience of the struggle through the economic struggle, the union struggle becomes a school of struggle. But it is only the first school, the primary school. Therefore it is equally harmful to downplay union work as it is to idealize it and absolutize its significance.
The proletariat learns the theory of the class struggle in all its aspects due to the activity of its political vanguard - the party. This question is not the subject of the present article.
The first step toward the organized class struggle is the development of class solidarity. It is therefore that strikes and other expressions of solidarity are so valuable for the struggle. But this solidarity should be understood as a broad, class solidarity, transcending the narrow boundaries of the professional sector. Thus, the character of solidarity of the strike is in itself a qualitative leap in the labor struggle. The solidarity among employees of a professional sector is important, but this should reach a class level. Otherwise the proletariat will be condemned to struggle all its life for a miserable piece of bread, it will always be on its knees. This question must be understood, the vicious circle of struggle for the narrow interests of the professional sector must be broken.
The first step toward the liberation of the class is the solidarity strike that draws together all the exploited of all professions.