MARX MEMORIAL LIBRARY ponders whether workers really get a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work?
AS WITH so many apparently simple questions, the answer to this week’s question is both Yes and No.
It’s easiest to start by considering what is blatantly unfair pay. Top executives, especially in the private sector, but also in the public services (such as university chancellors and academy heads) may be paid 10, 20 or (in the case of company CEOs) several hundred times as much as their lower-paid employees.
Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya (1869– 1939) has been overshadowed as a revolutionary and essayist in the popular perception by the figure of Lenin and unfortunately became known by many simply as ‘Lenin’s wife’.
The Woman Worker, Krupskaya’s first pamphlet, was written in Siberian exile where she had joined Lenin, following their arrest in 1896 and sentencing to three years internal exile in Shushenskoye. Krupskaya and Lenin married in July 1898. Krupskaya wrote The Woman Worker in 1899 under the pseudonym ‘Sablina’, one of several she used before the Bolshevik revolution. Other pseudonyms she employed included; Lenina, Artamonova, Onegina, Ryba, Rybkina, Katya, Frey and Gallilei.
Women are usually paid less than men.
The Woman Worker was originally published and circulated in 1901 before being banned following suppression of the 1905 revolution. It was republished in 1925 with a new preface by the author (included in this translation). Its significance stems from being the first Marxist work on the situation of women in Russia. The author analyses in some depth the causes of women’s lack of rights under tsarism. She calls on women to join the ranks of fighters for a better life, as equals and alongside men workers. “The woman worker is a member of the working class” she writes “and all her interests are closely tied to the interests of that class.” Krupskaya vividly describes the plight of peasant women in the family, their powerlessness and wholesale dependence on the husband. “The woman is ‘brought into the house’” she writes. “That is why the person of the woman is rated so low, and why according to peasant custom the woman is seen as property, which is valued in the main only for her capacity for work.” The Woman Worker continued to be published in Soviet times, in the first volume of Krupskaya’s complete works published in 1957 by the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (available to download at https://tinyurl.com/ycgylbzx) and republished in 1964
Taken from the introduction by Dmitriy Kolesnik, a Ukrainian journalist and former editor of online journal Liva and Ukrainian communist newspaper, New Wave (now suppressed) whose editor was recently arrested by Ukraine’s security service and accused of treason. Dmitriy Kolesnik contributes to German newspaper, Junge Welt and Melodie und Rhytmus magazine and coordinates antifascist and communist activists in his homeland. Taken from the website https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/
Amid renewed interest in the work of George Orwell, the Morning Star heads into the archives and reprints here how Harry Pollitt reviewed The Road to Wigan Pier in 1937
'Mr Orwell will have to try again'
Poor old Wigan! What things have been done in your name! From bad music-hall jokes to literary gents trying to hang their pegs around your name. The great thing is that we who come from Lancashire long ago learned to laugh at it all, in a way those who try to raise the laughs would never understand.
Here is George Orwell, a disillusioned little middle-class boy who, seeing through imperialism, decided to discover what socialism has to offer.
What a tragedy that a man can give up a position that the best years of his life were spent trying to fit him for, and then at a crisis in his life not see the real way to go.
Fortunately, Orwell has the sense to admit his own ignorance.
He tells us: "But I knew nothing about working-class conditions…"
"When I thought of poverty, I thought of it in terms of brute starvation. Therefore my mind turned immediately towards the extreme cases, the social outcasts, tramps, beggars, criminals, prostitutes. These people were the 'lowest of the low,' and these were the people with whom I wanted to get in contact."
"But I knew nothing about working-class conditions…"
It is perhaps natural that a late imperialist policeman should only see "the lowest of the low," as the place from which to get his new understanding of social conditions and socialism. But, of course, it was completely wrong, and must be responsible for the terribly distorted view that the author seems to have of everything connected with the working-class movement.
I suspect he knows nothing about this at all.
What a pity to travel all the way from Mandalay to disguise yourself as a tramp who can get into a Limehouse lodging-house without betraying his middle-class accent.
If ever snobbery had its hallmark placed upon it, it is by Mr Orwell.
PAUL SHAW explains why RMT Glasgow shipping branch is asking for your donations to finish a monument to the blockade runners
SOME 15 years ago, Ronnie Moran, then RMT Glasgow shipping branch secretary, was approached by renowned sculptor Frank Casey looking to honour the seafarers who formed the blockade runners to Spain during the Spanish civil war.
The branch (including its then chair and former secretary Stuart Hyslop) and the RMT Scottish regional council then formulated a plan to construct a memorial incorporating the sculpture that Casey would build to create a lasting memory to the seafarers dispatched to Spain to overthrow Francisco Franco’s fascist regime.
Casey stresses the importance of a lasting memorial, saying: “The ships that were part of the struggle to preserve the democratically elected Spanish republic in the face of Francoist aggression has largely gone unremarked.”
The ships that were part of the struggle to preserve the democratically elected Spanish republic in the face of Francoist aggression has largely gone unremarked
These small ships not only had the threat from insurgent Spanish warships to deal with but also Franco’s well-armed German and Italian allies.
In total 27 British-registered vessels were lost between 1936 and 1939 and are recognised by a plaque placed on the memorial.
If Labour goes into the next election on a platform of continued subjection to the EU, it will make a nonsense of the progressive policies in its manifesto, says ROBERT GRIFFITHS
THE chances of this Tory government limping all the way to a general election in 2022 are almost nil.
It is are divided on the EU, the NHS, civil liberties and even the 1 per cent public-sector pay cap.
It is dependent on the Ulster Loyalist DUP for a majority in the House of Commons. That’s like being rescued by a knight on a white charger who’s one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Millions of people have had enough of austerity. They need and want a pay rise or a boost to their pensions or benefits. They are deeply concerned about the NHS and have no idea how their children or grandchildren are going to be able to afford a college education or a home of their own.
There is a whiff of inevitability about a Labour government headed by Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn.
But there’s also an elephant in the room which could go on the rampage and wreck everything, unless the labour movement exercises unity and discipline informed by a clear class-based analysis.
A grim group of Fascists bussed themselves up to Perth on 10th September to attempt to whip up anti-muslim sentiment. Media reports "amazing numbers" of locals and anti-fascist activists meeting the SDL there to see them off. SNP MP Pete Wishart and Scottish Labour interim leader Alex Rowley were among those who took to the streets to oppose the right-wing extremists.
MP Pete Wishart along with organisations arrived at Perth Railway Station shortly after 1pm with a police escort.
Police Scotland was on high alert after rumours circulated members of the SDL were arriving on trains. Shortly after 1.30 pm a small mini bus arrived with SDL members and police were forced to remove the bus to avoid conflict.
Mr Pete Wishart MP, Member of Parliament for Perth & North Perthshire, participated in today’s demonstration in opposition to the so-called Scottish Defence League.
Speaking after the demonstration, Mr Wishart said: “There was a fantastic turnout making it quite clear that there is no place in our Fair City for the hate and ignorance represented by the SDL.
“A handful of fascists were faced with a huge and diverse crowd disgusted at their attempt to hijack a local planning issue to promote their racist agenda.
“I spoke to people of many faiths and none, people of all ages determined to make it clear that the local Muslim community have our support.
Orwell's anti-communist work strangely similar to earlier female author's ideas for anti-Fascist parable
The 1941 drawings by Gertrude Elias from her story board for a cartoon film mooted to the Ministry of Information. Orwell briefly worked there and they knew each other. Bottom left, the 1952 version of Orwell's Animal Farm, the idea for which Elias accuses him of plagiarising from her but inverting Nazi pigs into Soviet ones.
Orwell’s intellectual life as a socialist seemingly began with a special interest in theories on language and class and this seems to be rather significant. For there is more than a hint of middle-class guilt in Orwell; note, for example, his observation that working people “sweat their guts out [so] that superior persons can remain superior”.
Perhaps it is relevant that he conflated his own `anti-scientific-ism’ with the famous English (maybe the `Celts’ are immune from this!?) disregard for theory and saw a tenuous link there with the masses.
Yet he also deprecated the anti-intellectualism of the working class, the “life of the sense and suspicious of all forms of abstraction”. Even so, his own thought processes about capitalism appeared to have been entirely arrived at through intuition, without recourse to intensive study of facts.
It is telling that Orwell began his acquaintance with the common man by reaching out for the `underclass’. Though some of his early work featured working people, there was little of substance on their lives. His sketches of the working class appear thin and insubstantial.
I’ve often thought that this particularly applies to his portrayal of women. Indeed, there is a case to answer that there is far too much misogyny, in tone at least, in Orwell’s creative writing, even if he publicly and often attacked those who do not support the emancipation of women. But then this is a man who, in private life, was intrigued by the paranormal but did not advertise the fact and few of his socialist admirers are aware of this.
YES, you should, especially if you’re an employee and certainly if there’s a trade union branch at your workplace and you should do so for a variety of reasons, from personal to political.
Membership will give you protection if things go wrong and provide other material benefits. It will enable you to work with others to make your workplace safer and better. And it is the means by which you can, collectively, protect your wages and secure an improvement in your standard of living.
As Marx himself argued a century and a half ago, in Wages, Price and Profit, the wages struggle is very important. Without it wages would automatically sink to the minimum level required to sustain the individual worker and guarantee the reproduction of labour power. Without it, all workers would be much worse off.
And trades unions are an important vehicle for political change.