Letter from Ann Braunstein

Letter by Ann Braunstein, April 23, 1994
reprinted from
The De Leonist Review
published by the De Leonist Society of Canada
May-June 1995

"DEMOCRACY -- POLITICAL AND INDUSTRIAL"

In accordance with our declared intention, reported in previous issues, we here continue reproduction of the inter-party debates on our position paper of the above title. The following is an exchange between our society and Ann Braunstein of The De Leonist Society of the U.S.

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April 23, 1994

To the DeLeonist Society of Canada:

Dear Comrades:

I have studied your position paper "Democracy-Political and Industrial." It is my opinion that it proposes a step backward and not forward, and I vote against adopting it as a position paper of the DeLeonist Society.

You state that the Socialist Industrial Union Congress would be qualified to deal only with matters related to manufacture and distribution of products and not qualified to deal with social issues. I disagree.

The SIU Congress would have representatives from every segment of society; every branch of manufacture, education, medicine, the many sciences, the environment, natural resources, recreation, the different arts, etc., etc. Is there any one of these "industries" that does not involve "social issues"?

And it is definitely not "elitist" to believe that those who specialize in a particular "industry," and who no longer must function under the restraints that capitalism imposed on them, would indeed be qualified to address and advise the Congress on matters that involve their "industry."

Since, to your way of thinking, the Socialist industrial unions and the SIU Congress are not suitable vehicles to deal with social issues, you argue that we must have a separate political organization once again based on geographic constituencies to deal with those issues. That, to me, is the very antithesis of the integrated Republic of Labor. To explain why a separate political organization is needed, you say that the workers in the industrial unions could not "be reasonably expected to welcome, much less sift through and evaluate for possible social legislation and administration an expected flood of recommendations ... on urgent social matters" while on their jobs.

You do not tell us why the workers must carry on their discussions and evaluations while "on the job," and why these very same workers would "have the time and be in the necessary relaxed frame of mind to do justice to the aforementioned social questions" in a political geographic setting, but not in their industrial unions which would be in place from the start. (And, incidentally, many of the matters you list as "issues," are issues in our present class-divided society, and would not be issues at all in a sane Socialist society.)

It is your assumption that only those engaged in active production would have a voice and vote in the industrial unions. Since in all DeLeonist literature it has been stated that the employed and unemployed would be integrated into the industrial unions, is it not conceivable that every individual would remain a lifetime member of his or her union? However, it is not our place now to set down the specifics; we can only speculate. I think the following, which appears in an old Labor News pamphlet, says it best:

"The Socialist Republic is not to be poured like cast iron into a mould fashioned by us now.

"The constitution of the Socialist Republic will grow out of and be a concrete expression of the experience of the movement which brought it forth. It will most surely recognize, protect, and guarantee the rights of the individual in his or her use of the basic opportunities of life; and its experience will determine the best way of maintaining those rights in perpetuity."

Fraternally,

(signed) Ann Braunstein