Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Labour in Need of Revolutionary Vision

Document type Article
Author Selby, Jim
Journal Labour / Le Travail
Volume 83
Date 2019 Spring
ISSN 1911-4842
Pages 233-246


The labour movement's inability to effectively respond to neoliberalism has resulted in reduced union membership and declining public status and influence of labour unions. This is having a cascading effect on other institutions that are at least peripherally linked with the working class, from the rightward march of social democratic parties to the move away from class as the foundation of labour history. I suggest that the absence of revolutionary unions, those fighting for a future beyond capitalism, is one of the key underlying causes of labour's current malaise. By revolutionary unions, I mean unions that are explicitly pro-socialist and anti-capitalist in intent and that, by their actions and by the response of capital and state to those actions, foster an awareness of the class nature of society, the specific interests of working people as a class, and possibilities for collectively pursuing a better future. --Introduction