Posts Tagged ‘labour’

Industrial Labour and Politics

January 14, 2004

Introduction to the 1979 edition: The dynamics of the labour movement in eastern Australia, 1900-21

Ian Turner

This book was written in 1959-63 and first published in 1965. The introduction to that first edition argued that “Labour history is history of a new kind: it introduces the concept of masses rather than elites as the moving force in the historical process. … The labour movement is the institutional method by which the masses transform themselves from passive to active elements in society, from weights to be pushed around to social levers in their own right.” My argument was that Pareto’s theory of a circulation of elites, in which succeeding elites used the masses in their drive for power and manipulated them while in power so as to advance elite interests, was not an adequate explanation of the entry of organised labour into politics. A study of the history of the labour movement suggested that labour elites were “more subject to intervention from below and even to a direct action which cuts across or negates the intentions of the leaders” than were the elites in other social institutions. Given the democratic processes of the labour movement, that conflict between leaders and rank and file resulted in a “continual tendency towards purification, towards the restoration, perhaps in new forms, of the original values.”[1]


Race, nationality and religion in Australia

October 17, 2003

The Irish Catholics, the labour movement and the working class in the 19th and 20th centuries

Bob Gould

The influence of the Catholic Irish on the emergence of a radical Australian national consciousness has been relatively neglected in general histories of Australia, including leftist ones. For instance, in No Paradise for Workers, 1988, by Ken Buckley and Ted Wheelwright, the impact of the Irish Catholics on the labour movement is presented, without evidence, as essentially conservative.


The DSP and the so-called labour aristocracy

October 24, 2002

A response to Peter Boyle’s curious mantra about Lenin, the labour aristocracy and other matters

Bob Gould

Peter Boyle has posted on Marxmail an extremely strange, almost unintelligible, piece about Lenin and the labour aristocracy, and I echo Louis Proyect’s slightly irritated response to the last paragraph, and extend it to the whole post. What, in Lenin’s name, does Boyle mean? What immediate political propositions is he trying to convey from such an oracular and convoluted appeal to the imputed sanctity of Lenin’s writings about the “labour aristocracy”?