Issue 2 (2010) pp. 39-58 - 'Rank and fileism' revisited: trade union bureaucracy and Australia's Great Strike / Robert Bollard

Date

2010

Authors

Bollard, Robert

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Publisher

Rick Kuhn & Tom O'Lincoln

Abstract

In the early 1990s a debate was initiated by conservative historian Jonathan Zeitlin, who attacked a number of (mainly) British Marxist historians for ‘rank and fileism’—alleged exaggeration of what (Zeitlin argued) were arbitrary distinctions between the rank and file of trade unions and their bureaucracy. A key element of Zeitlin's criticism was his allegation that such historians were obsessed with periods of radical insurgency. This article uses the Great Strike of 1917 in eastern Australia to argue that such episodes of revolt are valuable because they illustrate in a stark and unequivocal way the inherently conservative nature of the trade union bureaucracy.

Description

Keywords

trade union, bureaucracy, Australia, rank and fileism, Great Strike of 1917

Citation

Source

Marxist Interventions

Type

Journal article

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