Monday, November 28, 2011

Different models of leadership?

Today we have witnessed two different models of leadership in our movement.

On the one hand, the purported leader of the alleged opposition says all strikes are failures (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/11/labour-strike-miliband).

On the other hand, our General Secretary calls, clearly and unequivocally, for further action in the new year if the Government do not relent from a multi-billion cash grab from the reasonable and affordable pensions of public servants (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/nov/28/unison-strikes-new-year-prentis?CMP=twt_gu).

To describe all strikes as "failures" (as Mr Ed does) is to commit a fallacy which would shame even a talking horse (http://www.google.com/m/url?channel=browser&client=ms-rim&ei=pwXUTpC-L4Ly8QOlvwE&hl=en&oe=UTF-8&q=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v%3DWLR4iZJLgc4&ved=0CBEQtwIwAA&usg=AFQjCNGPBsPOJYV7YaVrG00YQUlD0NdASw)

A strike is a collective manifestation of the structural conflict of interest which necessarily exists - in a capitalist society - between employer and employee. As long as social relations are structured as at present, strikes will be an occasional, inevitable feature of our working lives.

Only someone with no knowledge or understanding of the world of work could say that all strikes are a sign of failure.

They are a sign of conflict, to be sure. But two points need to be considered.

First, conflict is embedded in the "DNA" of a society in which the minority, owning and controlling the "means of production" can monopolise the surplus produced by those with no option but to sell their labour to pay their bills. If, in these circumstances, conflict is to be viewed as a failure it must surely be seen as a systemic failure, calling for structural (even revolutionary) social change.

Secondly, collective struggle may be far from the most pernicious expression of such conflict. It may be that, in the absence of strike action to address a conflict of interest between employer and employee, individual workers will resign, go sick or simply stop working to the best of their abilities.

Such individuated expression of dissatisfaction may well have more lasting negative consequences for an employing organisation than the "short sharp shock" of strike action.

Therefore, strike action is best seen not as a "failure" but as a diagnostic tool to help identify problems which an organisation needs to resolve.

Are you listening at the back?

Maude and Alexander! Stop chatting and let the rest of the class know that you have been paying attention!

And you, Miliband Minor, do try to keep up!

If I were a teacher having to deal with this shower I should certainly be striking.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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