The class struggle, the labour and trade union movement and the role of the Communist Parties

Gerry Grainger, International Secretary, Workers Party of Ireland (THINK LEFT)

The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing” Karl Marx [1]

It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do.” Karl Marx [2]

In his Instructions for Delegates to the Geneva Congress of September 1866 Karl Marx wrote: “Capital is concentrated social force, while the workman has only to dispose of his working force. The contract between capital and labour can therefore never be struck on equitable terms, equitable even in the sense of a society which places the ownership of the material means of life and labour on one side and the vital productive energies on the opposite side. The only social power of the workmen is their number.

The Conflict between Capital and Labour

The economic and political power of the capitalist class and its concomitant hegemonic ideas in a society which reflects its concerns and interests, reproduces its social power and perpetuates unequal and exploitative power relations. As The Communist Manifesto made clear: “Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another.” The latest capitalist crisis exposed the fundamental contradiction between the social character of production and the capitalist ownership of the means of production and the appropriation of its results. The rich become richer, the poor poorer. The “recovery”, much lauded by bourgeois governments, has not been enjoyed by the working class. In the phase of “recovery” here has been no improvement in workers’ conditions, instead workers have witnessed stagnation and decline in their position. The losses inflicted on workers at the height of the crisis have not been reversed and capitalism’s inevitable legacy of inequality remains. Workers are still confronted by the rollback of state and public services. Working people across the world are confronted with rising unemployment, precarious work, a dramatic decrease in real income, increasing prices for food and the essentials of life, decreasing expenditure on health, education, housing, welfare and social services, raised retirement ages, attacks on pensions, increased levels of poverty, homelessness, hunger and emigration. Currently, in conditions of recovery of the capitalist economy, the communist and workers’ parties must continue to reveal the reality of the exploitative nature of the system by sharpening the conflict with bourgeois and opportunist forces in order to confront the promulgation of illusions to the working class.

Within the context of bourgeois hegemony all the institutions of the state collaborate to conceal the predatory nature of class domination and to devise mechanisms to impede and frustrate class struggle. The Workers Party of Ireland, as a Marxist-Leninist party committed to the revolutionary transformation of society, recognises that capitalism is inherently and irredeemably flawed and cannot be reformed. By its very nature it is exploitative and oppressive. Human emancipation and social progress can only be achieved through the abolition of capitalism and the construction of a socialist society in which power is firmly in the hands of the working class. Socialist/communist and capitalist relations of production cannot coexist, one beside the other. What is required is an end to the capitalist system itself and the abolition of the bourgeois state. Class antagonisms cannot be eliminated under capitalism. Capitalism cannot be humanised. Capitalism cannot assimilate revolutionary change. A rupture with capitalism is necessary. The ruling class, the capitalist class, will never voluntarily surrender its power without being forced to do so. The weapon in the hands of the working class is the power of class struggle.

The task of socialist revolution is difficult and complex. A central issue of a socialist strategy is, accordingly, to create the conditions for a revolutionary transformation of society. In order to attain such conditions it is necessary not only to build the vanguard party but to have on board the broad popular masses of the working class, the working people of the country. The leading role of the working class is secured by conscious planned action. In this respect the revolutionary party must be prepared to take the necessary steps to raise and strengthen class consciousness and to build an organisation capable of taking power for the working class. This means an active and positive engagement with organised labour.

Organised Labour in Ireland

Ireland has a history of organised labour. Workers began to form permanent combinations and to wage strikes to protect and improve their conditions of employment. Trade unions were decriminalised in June 1824 when the Combination Acts which had made trade unionism illegal were abolished. Initially, British trade unions played an important role with many Irish workers involved in British based trade unions. The Dublin United Trades Association was established in 1863 and it joined the British Trade Union Congress in 1868. The late 1800s witnessed numerous strikes in Ireland although there were also reverses for the labour movement. In 1890, Michael Davitt, the social radical and anti-landlord activist, launched the Irish Democratic Trade and Labour Federation; Eleanor Marx inspected conditions in shirt factories in Derry and addressed a gas-workers’ demonstration in Dublin in 1891 and the Irish Trade Union Congress was established in 1894 amid complaints of neglect of Irish concerns by the British TUC. At this stage there were some 93 trade unions in Ireland. The development of organised labour was reflected in trade union numbers, the inauguration of May Day parades and the growth of trade councils in towns across Ireland. In 1897 Belfast trades council had 56 affiliates and 17,500 members.

At this time a number of organisations which proclaimed themselves socialist were set up – branches of the Social Democratic Federation and the Socialist League in 1885, the Independent Labour Party in 1892, James Connolly’s Irish Socialist Republican Party in 1896, the latter affiliating to the Second International and sending three delegates to the Paris Congress of 1900.

James Connolly left Ireland for the USA in 1903. When Connolly returned to Europe from America it was once again a Europe with revolutionary prospect in the air. The 1906 Linen Strike in Belfast in which women workers mobilised and took to the streets in vast numbers and the Belfast Dockers’ and Carters’ strike of 1907 was the culmination of a period of industrial conflict and was a significant and militant development in the history of the pre-war labour movement in Ireland. In 1910 there were strikes by British workers - cotton workers, boiler makers and Welsh miners. In July and August 1911 there were huge strikes of dockers, carters and seamen and a four-day railway strike that paralysed most of industrial England. The economic decline of the UK; the growing inequality; the steady fall in the real value of wages; the growth of trade unionism and militant political ideas were significant factors in these developments.

The Irish Transport and General Workers Union which had been established by James Larkin in 1909 was a militant force for labour. In August 1913, the employers, led by William Martin Murphy, decided to crush the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. Murphy told workers from his newspaper company that they must resign from the union or be sacked. Workers were also asked to sign a written assurance that they would not strike. When the union responded, Murphy locked out all employees of the despatch department who were union members. When 700 tram workers walked off their trams, the Employers’ Federation locked out their employees. By 22nd September 1913, some 25,000 Dublin workers were affected and around 27 unions were locked out. In an open act of class war the employers’ organisations were attempting the total destruction of the trade union movement. A warrant was issued for Larkin’s arrest on a charge of “seditious conspiracy” and he was subsequently arrested and dragged from the balcony of the Imperial Hotel where he was attempting to address a meeting on O’Connell Street which was then attacked mercilessly and indiscriminately by police.

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, a passionate advocate of women’s suffrage, wrote: “The general lock-out had developed into a mass resistance to the employers’ onslaught on trade unionism and personal liberty and throughout the world Dublin and Liberty hall had become the symbol and the standard bearer of trade unionism in a battle for its very existence.”

James Connolly too was arrested and imprisoned. The actions of Connolly and Larkin and the resistance of the workers incurred the anger of the capitalist class. Although the battle was lost, as Connolly wrote “the working class has lost none of its aggressiveness, none of its confidence, none of its hope in the ultimate triumph …” A militant working class had emerged aware of its exploitation and the need to organise. In March 1914 Larkin and Connolly reconstituted the Irish Citizen Army and the new constitution declared “That the first and last principle of the Irish Citizen Army is the avowal that the ownership of Ireland, moral and material, is vested of right in the people of Ireland”.

The Socialist Party of Ireland, of which Connolly was then national organiser, stated in its Manifesto: “The Socialist Party of Ireland seeks to organise the workers of this country, irrespective of creed or race, into one great Party of Labour. It believes that the dependence of the working class upon the owners of capitalist property, and the desire of these capitalists and landowners to keep the vast mass of the people so subject and dependent, is the great and abiding cause of all our modern social and political evils – of nearly all modern crime, mental degradation, religious strife, and political tyranny. Recognising this, it counsels the Irish working class to follow the example of the workers in every civilised country in the world, whether subject or free, and organise itself industrially and politically with the end in view of gaining control and mastery of the entire resources of the country. Such is our aim: such is Socialism.

In recent years there has been a decline in trade union density – the proportion of employees who are union members – in Ireland although there was an increase in membership at the outset of the 2008 capitalist crisis. This decline in union membership may be due to a number of factors, including, the role of multi-national corporations hostile to trade union recognition and the high levels of workers engaged in precarious work. In contemporary Ireland, working within the confines of a capitalist economy, trade unions have limited themselves to a protective function, attempting to defend, and where possible, expand workers’ rights, in essence bargaining for better pay and conditions and a “more equitable” system of distribution within the context of capitalist power rather than attempting its overthrow.

There is only one union confederation, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) formed in 1959 by the merger of the Irish Trade Union Congress and the Congress of Irish Unions (founded in 1945). ICTU represents around 832,000 workers affiliated through 64 trade unions in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The affiliated unions include 21 British based unions. There is only a small number of trade unions outside the ICTU. In Ireland, as in Britain, multi-employer bargaining at sectoral level has virtually disappeared and unions generally have to win recognition company by company.

The reactionary role of the European Union

The reactionary role of the European Union has had a significant impact on the trade union movement and workers’ rights. The deregulation of labour markets, the so-called “flexibility” or casualisation of labour has massively increased job insecurity, under-employment, low pay and low quality employment. Workers are held in low paid jobs for prolonged periods. This, in turn, is utilised, to weaken the trade unions. Agency workers are used as cheap labour and held out as an unabashed threat to those in permanent employment. Throughout the European Union part-time workers are more likely to receive lower pay than full-time workers and have limited prospects for training and promotion. Work in the public sector had been severely eroded by privatisation and sub-contracting work to private employers. The development of “workfare” as a mechanism to enforce acceptance of low quality jobs has been a planned strategy of the European Union and its Member States.

The European Union, which from its beginning has been an alliance of capitalist states, designed in the interests of capital, has devised various strategies to deliver the pro-capital agenda and has utilised various mechanisms such as the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the Lisbon Agenda in 2000 and the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 to further develop and consolidate the doctrine of “competitiveness” and “flexibility” which has been employed to dismantle labour and social rights, reduce environmental protection and replace the pretence of a “Social Europe” with the reality of a “Global Europe” better to serve the interests of transnational capital. Even the hopelessly reformist ETUC concluded that the “social dialogue” had failed.

The game plan of “Maastricht”, "Lisbon" and the "EU 2020" through its regime of austerity, privatisation, competitiveness and the erosion of fundamental rights is to secure the profitability of the monopolies which involves further reducing the price of labour power and increasing the level of exploitation of the working class.

In March 2011, the Euro Plus Pact was approved by the European Council. All 17 members of the eurozone, plus Bulgaria, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, agreed to reconsider wage-setting arrangements and bring wage indexing and centralised collective bargaining to an end in the name of “competitiveness”.

Trade unions, already weakened by the influence of bourgeois ideology, reformism, and expectations created by the policies of the EU have been further disempowered by the Lisbon Strategy and Europe 2020. Price stability and the prevention of inflation are regarded as more important than ensuring employment. Competitiveness, privatisation and the role of the private sector is emphasised in health and education. The institutions of the EU are designed to guarantee the stability, duration and resilience of the capitalist mode of production.

European Court attacks on workers’ rights

The European Court of Justice (now the Court of Justice of the European Union), final arbiter of all disputes arising from EU treaties and legislation, has issued a series of decisions attacking fundamental labour rights. (The Viking, Laval, Ruffert and Luxembourg cases)

The restriction on the right of collective action imposed by the ECJ in the Viking and Laval cases have substantially restricted the possibility for trade unions to act in the interests of their members. The Viking and Laval cases established that in EU law the exercise of the right to strike may not unreasonably restrict the "four freedoms" laid down in the Treaties - the rights to free movement of capital, goods, persons and services. Any restriction of one of these freedoms is reasonable only where overriding reasons of public interest require such action, "provided that it is established that the restriction is suitable for ensuring the attainment of the legitimate objective pursued and does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve that objective" (Point 3 of the Viking judgment). In other words, the right to strike is not exempt from the scope of application of the "four freedoms" and is subordinate to the rights of capital.

After ruling on these principles, the ECJ referred the Viking case to the jurisdiction of the national courts but set a high threshold for assessing "overriding reasons". In the Laval case, the judges ruled that the action of the Swedish workers' representatives, engaged in industrial action in relation to rates of pay, breached European law; the industrial action, which was "liable to make it less attractive, or more difficult" for Laval to make use of the right to free movement of services (Point 99 of the judgment), was not covered by "overriding reasons of public interest". This ruling has far-reaching consequences for the right to strike in member states. In Laval the Court found that a Swedish trade union’s blockade was an unjustified restriction on the free movement of services as the requirement that an agreement on employment conditions be signed before rates of pay could even start being negotiated was, according to the Court, disproportionately restrictive.

These cases are clear manifestations in a long history of the EU's commitment to “liberalisation” founded on the theory that rights of Member States must be subordinated to the "four freedoms" laid down in the Treaties. Key stages in this process have included the deregulation of telecommunications, air and freight transport, energy markets and postal services; examples in Germany include the lifting of the former Federal Labour Office's monopoly role as an employment agency and restrictions on national broadcasting and on the liability of public regional administrative bodies for regional banks and savings banks.

In the 2008 Ruffert judgement, the ECJ ruled that contractors were not obliged to observe collective agreements unless it could be proven that they were “universally applicable”. It claimed that under Article 49 of the EU Treaty, higher rates of pay would mean “an additional economic burden that may prohibit, impede or render less attractive the provision of their services in the host member state”.

These cases make clear that the rights of workers supposedly enshrined in both the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, are entirely subordinate to the economic freedom and interests of employers and multi-nationals. The "four freedoms" upon which this entire project is built are nothing other than the freedom of capitalist activity. The EU is an inter-state capitalist alliance which lays the foundation for the free activity of capital at a national, regional and international level to the detriment of working people.

The character of trade unionism and its potential as a force for transformation

Both Marx and Engels were active participants in the labour movement of their time. Marx, particularly in his attack on Proudhon in 1847, berated those who disparaged the gains of the labour movement and his instructions for the delegates of the General Council for the Geneva Congress emphasise the importance of the role of trade unions and the struggle of the labour movement: “The activity of trade unions is not only legitimate, it is necessary. It cannot be dispensed with so long as the present system of production lasts.” Marx realised that the unions represented the first steps in the organisation of workers as a class.

The International Working Mens Association became the symbol of class struggle with the aim of the political organisation of the working class and unifying the international working class movement in the struggle for social emancipation. In his Inaugural Address to the First International Marx made clear that social reform could not be a substitute for revolutionary change. Marx, Engels, and Lenin, who were enthusiasts for the revolutionary possibilities of trade union struggles, also recognised the limitations of trade unionism often exemplified in a preoccupation by trade unions with purely economic matters and an exclusively trade union consciousness which was insufficient for the emancipation of labour. For communists a recognition of the objective necessity of socialism and the necessity for the conquest of political power by the proletariat is essential.

The everyday struggle, the struggle of the trade unions is inextricably linked with the struggle for class emancipation. This was made clear by Marx who attacked Proudhon’s rejection of class struggle and revolution and his disapproval of strikes and unions. He demolished Proudhon’s utopian ideas that society could be changed through an equal exchange based on a network of producers’ and consumers’ cooperatives with a people’s bank supplying free credit to the cooperatives.

Marx’s position was also exemplified in his criticism of Ferdinand Lassalle and his supporters who failed to understand the nature of trade unions and who rejected the significance of strike action and workers’ struggles on the spurious ground of the “iron rule of wages”. Lassalle’s programme was based around the demand for suffrage and the idea of producers’ associations supported by state aid and explicitly rejected revolutionary class struggle. The Lassalleans had no interest in who controlled production or the question of workers’ power.

The matter of trade unions was again raised by Marx in his Critique of the Gotha Programme. The “Critique”, as a response to a unification program of the two major workers organizations in Germany in 1875 in the city of Gotha, the General Association of German Workers (Lassalleans) and the Social-Democratic Workers Party of Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel (the Eissenachs). Marx again attacked Lassalle’s ideas and criticised the programme for its failure to understand the importance of the trade union struggle. In a letter to Bebel in March 1875 Engels stated: “There is not a word said about the organisation of the working class as a class, by means of trade unions. This is a very essential point, for this is the real class organisation of the proletariat, in which it carries on its daily struggles with capital”.

Opposing revisionism and opportunism

In What is to be Done? Lenin pointed out that the revolutionary party “leads the struggle of the working class, not only for better terms for the sale of labour-power, but for the abolition of the social system that compels the propertyless to sell themselves to the rich. Social-Democracy represents the working class, not in its relation to a given group of employers alone, but in its relation to all classes of modern society and to the state as an organised political force. Hence, it follows that not only must Social-Democrats not confine themselves exclusively to the economic struggle, but that they must not allow the organisation of economic exposures to become the predominant part of their activities. We must take up actively the political education of the working class and the development of its political consciousness.”

Lenin made clear that while the “economic struggle merely “impels” the workers to realise the government’s attitude towards the working class. Consequently, however much we may try to “lend the economic, struggle itself a political character”, we shall never be able to develop the political consciousness of the workers (to the level of Social-Democratic political consciousness) by keeping within the framework of the economic struggle, for that framework is too narrow.

In Germany and in Russia the twin dangers of revisionism and economism were hostile to the development of a revolutionary strategy. Lenin was vocal in his criticism of those groups in Russia which sought to separate political struggle from economic struggles and to concentrate their efforts on economic struggles, a view which he associated with “Bernsteinian” revisionism.

After the success of the Great October Socialist Revolution the Bolsheviks within the Communist International saw the urgent need to win to the ranks of socialism the mass of progressive workers within the trade unions of the capitalist countries, requiring the communists to join these trade unions and to involve themselves in the daily struggles of the working class, to politicise those struggles, to raise consciousness and to convince workers of the necessity for socialism.

Many of today’s union leaderships across Europe are bureaucratic, self-serving, committed primarily to pay negotiation and the provision of ancillary services to their members, hostile to socialism, content to pursue policies designed to stabilise, manage and preserve capitalism, willing collaborators with the social system which oppresses labour, allied to bourgeois and social democratic parties, actively dedicated to the separation of the workers’ economic struggle (bread-and-butter issues) from revolutionary political struggles.

The role of the communists in the trade union movement

Lenin stated that communists must work in the trade unions. There are currently few countries in capitalist society where a labour organisation exists as a genuinely revolutionary class-oriented pole. So what is the response of the communists to the trade union movement where such conditions do not exist?

In “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder Lenin posed the question: Should Revolutionaries Work in Reactionary Trade Unions? His answer was clear. Addressing himself to the German “Lefts” he stated: “We cannot but regard as equally ridiculous and childish nonsense the pompous, very learned, and frightfully revolutionary disquisitions of the German Lefts to the effect that Communists cannot and should not work in reactionary trade unions, that it is permissible to turn down such work, that it is necessary to withdraw from the trade unions and create a brand-new and immaculate “Workers’ Union” invented by very pleasant (and, probably, for the most part very youthful) Communists, etc., etc”.

As he explained: “We can (and must) begin to build socialism, not with abstract human material, or with human material specially prepared by us, but with the human material bequeathed to us by capitalism. True, that is no easy matter, but no other approach to this task is serious enough to warrant discussion.

To refuse to work in the reactionary trade unions means leaving the insufficiently developed or backward masses of workers under the influence of the reactionary leaders, the agents of the bourgeoisie, the labour aristocrats, or “workers who have become completely bourgeois” (cf. Engels’s letter to Marx in 1858 about the British workers).

This ridiculous “theory” that Communists should not work in reactionary trade unions reveals with the utmost clarity the frivolous attitude of the “Left” Communists towards the question of influencing the “masses”, and their misuse of clamour about the “masses”. If you want to help the “masses” and win the sympathy and support of the “masses”, you should not fear difficulties … but must absolutely work wherever the masses are to be found … The trade unions and the workers’ co-operatives (the latter sometimes, at least) are the very organisations in which the masses are to be found.

The necessity for class struggle and class oriented trade unions

The task of the communists within the trade union movement is to use every opportunity to raise class consciousness, to enable workers to develop a sense of their power as a class, to underline and emphasise the nature, basis and importance of class struggle, facilitating the organisation of mass campaigns and simultaneously demanding measures to improve conditions for working people.

Every class struggle is a political struggle. The negative consequences of an economic crisis for working people do not automatically lead to an intensification of class consciousness. The revolutionary party must stand with working people in their day-to-day struggles to defend their hard-won rights and freedoms and to secure better working and living conditions, including permanent and stable work, with full social insurance, working and wage protection, full occupational, health and safety measures and full trade union rights; social protection for the sick, disabled, pensioners and the unemployed; obligatory public, universal social protection; the satisfaction of health, education, welfare and housing needs, including a quality public, universal and free system of health and medical care; free, compulsory public, secular education; a reduction in the retirement age (while abolishing a default retirement age), the payment of adequate pensions; democratic rights and trade union freedoms; an end to privatisation of public assets; the maintenance of strategic sectors of the economy by the state including energy, communications, education, transportation etc.; environmental protection etc. However, it is the task of the communists to set each struggle in its political context which exposes the class character of society, raises class consciousness and articulates in a concrete and understandable way that socialism is the alternative.

Recent decades have witnessed a major assault against the trade union movement and the rights of workers, and indeed against the very idea of trade unionism. The imposition of anti-union measures, legislative and judicial, including restrictions on the right to strike, attempts to criminalise picketing and applying crippling sanctions against trade unions, are used in an attempt to curb the power of trade unions, to neutralise and break organised labour. However, trade unions remain mass organisations of workers, providing a front line of defence of workers’ rights against their employers and potentially offering both a site of resistance to attacks on the working class and a vehicle for raising workers’ class consciousness and for broader progressive interventions through class oriented trade union struggle.

Trade unions remain an important weapon in the arsenal of economic and industrial struggle. They can be used to create a consciousness of workers of their identity as workers although this will not, of itself, be sufficient to create revolutionary socialist consciousness. That is a task for the communists. Trade unions have the capacity to express the contradictions and conflicts inherent in the present social system. They can fight to defend the gains and achievements won by workers in previous struggles and to protect their living standards and working conditions from further assaults. This provides an opportunity for the revolutionary party to expose the flaws and contradictions of the capitalist system and to outline the socialist alternative. As Lenin wrote: “Capital collects the workers in great masses in big cities, uniting them, teaching them to act in unison. At every step the workers come face to face with their main enemy – the capitalist class.[3]

Internationalism and trade union struggles

In 2019 it is 74 years since the establishment of the World Federation of Trade Unions on 3rd October 1945. The creation of WFTU was associated with the defeat of fascism and the need to organise the global trade union movement. Since that time WFTU has had a presence across the world, standing with workers and oppressed peoples against capitalist exploitation and for the creation and consolidation of the international class oriented trade union movement.

It is the task of communists in the trade union movement to strengthen the resilience and capacity of workers for class struggle, to ensure the protection of organised labour and the defence of its political freedoms while making clear the necessity for a transformation from capitalism to socialism. The trade unions, operating in an arena of class struggle, represent the opportunity for collective struggle which can be utilised to radicalise and strengthen workers’ resistance to exploitation in the workplace, the privatisation of public services and the super-profits of the monopolies.

Class struggle is the means through which the working class advances from a class “in itself” to a class “for itself,” as a necessary precondition for its own emancipation and the trade unions, as mass organisations of workers, are a vital locus for class struggle.


The trade unions in capitalist society are not of themselves revolutionary bodies. This historic political role can only be fulfilled by revolutionary parties. It is the task of the communists, through the revolutionary party, to go among the people as theoreticians, as propagandists, as agitators, and as organisers, as Lenin advocated. The trade union struggle provides the basis for the organisation of workers, an opportunity for the revolutionary party to raise and develop class consciousness, to sharpen the arena of class struggle and recruit workers to the revolutionary party and the necessity for revolutionary social transformation. It is the duty of the revolutionary party to translate the discontent experienced by workers under capitalism into revolutionary socialist consciousness and creativity.

There are many struggles ahead. It is a fundamental requirement to strengthen the bonds of our parties with the working class and the masses of working people, the trade unions, youth and women’s organisations. The conditions within which our parties operate may vary, but we must properly assess those conditions having regard to the extent which the objective and subjective factors have developed. Armed with the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism and the powerful weapon of proletarian internationalism, the communist and workers’ parties can work with and within the labour and trade union movement in our respective countries, assessing new opportunities for united action by the working class and creating circumstances favourable for directing the struggle of the day-to-day socio-economic demands of the masses of working people and their struggles for democracy against the entire rotten system of capitalist exploitation.

[1] Letter to Johann von Schweitzer, 13 February 1865

[2] The Holy Family, K Marx and F Engels, page 368