Not always a safe guide for practical action

“Organized labor always has had help volunteered by sympathetic persons from outside its own ranks. Since the war that help often has been offered by “intellectuals” who accepted completely one or another of the theories of economics and of revolutionary tactics which have been competing for labor’s support. Whether the academic person without actual working experience can render very much direct help is a matter of dispute.

“It is possible to argue that John Strachey, for instance, is more useful as a writer and lecturer, seeking to influence public opinion in favor of economic change, than he would be as an active officer of a labor union. Certainly the record in England of such Labour Party leaders as Ramsay MacDonald suggests that the “intellectual,” no matter how thoroughly he seems to have identified himself with the workers, is not always a safe guide for practical action, and is not always to be trusted to make decisions for labor as a whole.”

“Labor and Its Allies: 20th-century intellectuals,” George P. Hedley, ed., Lessons from Labor History: A Study Outline worked out by a discussion group of the Retail Department Store Employees’ Union (RCIPA #1100) San Francisco, California, and in this edition supplemented by materials developed in discussions of other groups pursuing the same course of study, Fourth Edition (Pacific Coast School for Workers, Berkeley, California: May 10, 1940). Price 15 cents.

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