From International Socialism, No.22, Autumn 1965, p.30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Men and Work:
the Autobiography of Lord Citrine
The True Society
One can’t expect too much from Citrine’s memoirs. The climax of this book is the General Strike – not just a battle between mineowner and miners, but between the old militant union leadership (Cook) and the first generation of trade-union bureaucrats. The mineowners won the battle of the mines, and the bureaucrats of the Unions. The whole book is concerned mainly with the problem of controlling a trade-union movement whose tradition and history are built on undisciplined and militant actions. The fight against the Communist Party is a reflection of this conflict. This book should be read if you have the energy to overcome the solid boredom and glean the information between the lines.
Frank Tannenbaum writes a book in good journalistic style that will find sympathy from liberals, social democrats and bureaucrats, but will only raise a laugh from revolutionaries. His trade-union movement is the American model where there is complete control from the top, and he can safely argue, and we can all agree, that it does protect workers from the complex, impersonal business machine. That is all he really wants trade unions to do. He proves with ease that the socialists and communists have failed to use the trade-union movement as a vehicle for social change. Any study of the open hostility between the leadership of the unions and rank and file movements in Britain would expose his thesis for what it is – rotten.
Last updated on 12.5.2008