Trade Organization

Trade Organization


a class organization of the bourgeoisie, which joins together the capitalists of a certain geographic region or branch of the economy for the purposes of increasing profits, curtailing the rights of the working people, combating foreign competition, and influencing the foreign and domestic policies of their governments in the interests of monopoly capital.

Trade organizations first appeared in Great Britain, Germany, and Austria in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They were essentially associations of entrepreneurs in individual cities, regions, or branches of industry who sought favorable customs duties and transportation rates and who joined forces in the struggle against the workers. The principal methods used by the early trade associations against the working class included blacklists, lockouts, and special antistrike funds.

Once capitalism entered the stage of imperialism, the number of trade organizations grew rapidly; Germany, for example, had 27 trade organizations in 1870, more than 100 in 1880, and more than 1,000 by the turn of the 20th century. At the same time, as trade organizations grew in number, they also grew more centralized. The first nationwide organization was the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), founded in the USA in 1895. The Federation of British Industries was formed in 1916 and the General Confederation of French Production and the Imperial Federation of German Industry were founded in 1919. The objective of the nationwide trade organizations is to subordinate the interests of individual monopolies or groups of monopolies to the interests of monopoly capital as a whole. Such trade organizations are the true strategic centers of the monopolies.

In the first half of the 1970’s, the part of such centers was played by the NAM and US Chamber of Commerce (founded 1912) in the USA, the Confederation of British Industry in Great Britain, the National Council of French Employers in France, the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations in Japan, the General Confederation of Italian Industry in Italy, and the Federation of German Industries, the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, the Federation of German Banks, and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).

The national trade organizations divide up their various functions among themselves and work in close cooperation. Some—for example, the NAM and the Federation of German Industries—are concerned primarily with general questions of the monopolies’ economic policies. Others—for example, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations—deal with working conditions, wages, and social policy. The national trade organizations achieve coordination through regular consultations among themselves, interlocking memberships on their executive boards, the creation of joint and liaison committees, and the appointment of representatives of one and the same monopolies to executive positions in the various trade organizations. Their objective is not only to achieve united action on the part of the capitalists but also to combine the forces of the monopolies and the state in a single mechanism.

The monopolies influence the government agencies by means of trade-organization participation in the financing of the bourgeois political parties, in the staffing of the state apparatus, and in the preparation of draft legislation—all through permanent liaison between the institutions of government and the working bodies and executives of the trade organizations, through lobbying in legislative bodies, and through the various government agencies’ practice of granting “hearings” to the representatives of the trade organizations. The trade organizations submit enormous numbers of memorandums and demands to the various legislative bodies and maintain many consultative committees and commissions in proximity to the government agencies, thus exerting a strong influence on important government decisions. Their activities permeate all spheres of public life in the capitalist countries.

The monopolistic bourgeoisie, once its representatives are entrenched in the government apparatus through the help of the trade organizations, employs the economic, ideological, and military and police machinery of the bourgeois state not only to increase their profits but also to attack the rights and interests of the working people. Through the trade organizations, it influences legislation in the capitalist countries. Specifically, trade organizations are responsible for the passage of antilabor legislation, such as the Emergency Law Against Strikes (1947) in France, the Taft-Hartley Act (1947), the McCarran-Walter Act (1950), and the Landrum-Griffin Act (1959) in the USA, the Works Constitution Act (1952) in the FRG, and the Stevedoring Industry Act (in Russian, the McMahon Law, 1965) in Australia.

Trade organizations are by no means limited to the confines of a single country. V. I. Lenin drew attention to the existence of international sectoral trade organizations (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 380). Since World War II, more than 200 international sectoral trade organizations have been formed within the framework of the European Economic Community alone. Moreover, national trade organizations have joined together in international trade organizations, such as the Union of the Industries of the European Community, the Council of the Industrial Federations of the European Free Trade Association, and the Council of European Industrial Federations, the last of which includes not only 27 large national trade organizations in 18 Western European countries but also US and Canadian trade organizations. Thus, trade organizations serve as a powerful tool of monopoly capital and are an important link in the contemporary system of state-monopoly capitalism.


Lenin, V. I. “Anketa ob organizatsiiakh krupnogo kapitala.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 21.
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Imperializm FRG. Edited by O. Reinhold. Moscow, 1973. (Translated from German.)
Kuczynski, J. Studien zur Geschichte des deutschen Imperialismus, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Berlin, 1952.
Banaschak, M. Die Macht der Verbände. Berlin, 1964.
Karisch, A. Staat, Parteien und Verbände in Österreichs Wirtschaftsordnung. Vienna, 1965.
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