The essay reprinted below was originally written in 1932 by Osip Pyatnitsky, a leading figure and spokesman for the Bolshevik Party in the Soviet Union and the Communist International, or "Comintern". A brief biography of Pyatnitsky may be found on the last page.
This essay makes a number of points which are as important for us to study today as they were for the International Communist movement in 1932. Among the most important for us are:
The Comintern stressed the need for close ties with the workers in the factories. Only such close ties could make the communist party's agitation, propaganda, leadership, etc. effective and bring about a revolution. Without a base in the industrial working class the communist party cannot win.
Pyatnitsky stresses that the communist party's work in the factories is essentially illegal even where the party itself-as in the USA both then and now-is for the time being "legal," i.e. can publish openly, hold marches, obtain permits, etc.
The Bolsheviks under Lenin fought for the organization of illegal work, even when they were legal and making great gains in union elections and other kinds of legal work. According to an "Okhrana" (Tsar's secret political police) report, Lenin said in 1914:
Our victory...is great. The press, the (workers') insurance campaign, the trade unions, and the societies of enlightenment, all this is ours. But this victory has its limits...If we want to hold our positions and not allow the strengthening labor movement to escape the party's sway...we must strengthen, come what may, our underground organizations. We can give up a portion of the work in the State Duma (Parliament) which we have conducted so successfully to date, but it is imperative that we put to right the work outside the Duma (i.e. the illegal work).
Four months later World War I began and all "legal" communist and even trade-union work was ended by massive police raids and arrests. Only the illegal work remained.
The Communist party is not primarily an "institution" with offices, meetings, bank accounts, a newspaper, etc. The communist party is primarily illegal. All the "institutional" superstructure can be destroyed by the ruling class overnight. And this will happen.
Pyatnitsky stresses the connection between illegal work and basebuilding. Without a base in the-factories, no illegal work is possible. So, under repression, there would be no party. A communist party cannot exist without a base in the working class.
The communist party must be organized in the factories, on the job.
At that time the reformist influence mainly came from the origins of most communist parties in the earlier Social-Democratic parties of the Second International. All these parties, except for Bolsheviks, relied mainly upon legal, the reform work. As a result they became rotten supporters of the bourgeoisie and reformers at best. The American, French, British, German, and other communist parties arose as splits of the left wing within the sellout Social-Democratic parties. But they brought much of their reformist style of work with them.
Today the reformism in our work is traceable to PLP's origins as a split from the revisionist and reformist Communist movement. Study of this essay should be helpful in putting "Reform and Revolution" and "Armed Insurrection" into our practice. (See PL, Vol. 11, No. 2, April-May 1978 for these two articles. "Reform and Revolution" also appears in the pamphlet "Road to Communist Revolution.")
We must become skilled at making revolution primary over reform in our work, while not neglecting the details of reform work. All this while operating as an essentially illegal party. Again, none of this is possible without a base in the working class-without basebuilding.
There are some differences between our line and that of the Comintern and the CPSU in 1932, as reflected in this essay. PLP has abandoned as fundamentally incorrect the tactic of "united front from above" which Pyatnitsky accepts in this essay. This tactic was advocated even by Lenin (e.g. in Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder). But it is impossible to engage in this kind of "united front" with revisionists or liberal ruling-class groups without abandoning the independent communist line. PLP also believes that the fight against racism was not stressed enough by the Comintern. Nor was nationalism recognized as a 100% bourgeois concept. These were all great weaknesses within the communist movement at the time, and led to that movement's turning into its opposite.
However-in case anyone should wonder-PLP heartily and completely agrees with Pyatnitsky's, and Stalin's, attack upon the Social-Democrats, the liberals and phony "socialists," as Social-Fascists, as the viper in the bosom of the working class, as forces never to ally with under any circumstances.
In short: many of the problems of the Communist movement in the early 1930's were the same as ours today, and are deeply rooted in the history of the communist movement, of which PLP is a part. At the VII Comintern Congress in 1935 the Comintern turned sharply to the right, advocating United Fronts with the Social-Democrats and open liberal bourgeois forces, and abandoning the fight for revolution, for Communist factory cells, and ultimately just about everything else, including the Comintern itself. PLP believes that we should build upon what is positive in the history of the communist movement and the great Bolshevik Party, and move ahead. Please send in your comments and criticisms.
In the article by Pyatnitsky, which begins below, text put in parentheses by Pyatnitsky appears in Roman letters between parentheses (like this). Occasional explanations and definitions by the PLP editors appear in italics between square brackets, [like this].
Second, in many sections, additional paragraph breaks have been added for clarity and to make reading easier. Some subheads have been added, and others reworded for clarity.
Since the Eleventh Plenum of the E.C.C.I. a year has passed, a period sufficient for drawing some conclusions. Has this backwardness been liquidated?
The last three quarters of 1931 and the first quarter of 1932 brought a sharp deterioration of the conditions of the toiling masses, of the workers and of the poor and middle peasant masses. The Social-Democratic and Socialist Parties and the reformist trade union bureaucracy which still have a large following among the workers and employees, have long completely deserted to the side of the bourgeoisie and have been daily betraying the interests of the working class.
During this period the revolutionary labor and peasant movement did not subside while in some countries (Spain, Poland, Czechoslovakia, China, Japan, India, America, France) it even continued on the up-grade, yet in the principal imperialist countries (England, America, Germany, France) the Communist Parties are just as backward as they were before the Eleventh Plenum of the E.C.C.I. Each country has its objective causes to explain this backwardness. This does not mean, however, that the backwardness is not due in a very large measure to the subjective factor-the failure to utilize the discontent of the great masses of the toilers with the lowering of the living standards, with unemployment starvation, the burden of taxation, the actions of the Social-Democratic and Socialist Parties and reformist trade union bureaucracy.
How are we to explain this failure to capture the working masses from the Social-Democratic and Socialist Parties and the reformists, and to consolidate, organize and keep those workers who joined the Communist Parties and revolutionary trade union movements of the capitalist countries?
It is due mainly to the Social-Democratic and reformist traditions, prevailing in every field of party and trade union work, which are deeply-rooted in the Communist Parties, red trade unions and trade union oppositions.
By contrasting the Bolshevik and the Social-Democratic methods of mass work, organizational forms, estimations of the current situation and tactics, we shall show that the sections of the Comintern in the capitalist countries took over and preserved a good deal of the practices of the Social-Democratic Parties.
Czarist Russia was dominated by an autocracy, by a feudal-landlord clique. Not only the position of the workers, but also that of the peasants was unbearable. The entire petty bourgeoisie (and even the liberal bourgeoisie) were, discontented with the autocracy. (This, by the way, explains the extensive participation of the intelligentsia and students in the revolutionary movement against the autocracy in 1905.) Russia, as the events of 1905 proved, was heading for a bourgeois-democratic revolution.
Comrade Lenin wrote in March, 1905, on this question as follows: "The objective course of events has confronted the Russian proletariat precisely with the task of a democratic-bourgeois revolution ... The same task confronts the whole nation, i.e., the entire mass of the petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry; without such a revolution any more or less extensive development of an independent class Organization aiming at a Socialist revolution is unthinkable." ("The Revolutionary Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasantry," Volume VI, Page 136, First Edition.)
This period of the bourgeois-democratic revolutions had already been passed in the 90s by the principal countries abroad. The bourgeois-democratic revolutions there were made, under the leadership of the bourgeoisie, by the proletariat and petty bourgeoisie with no revolutionary labor parties in existence.
The Social-Democratic and Socialist Parties which already existed as mass parties in the principal countries abroad in the 90s, adapted themselves to the existing regimes and legislation. Before the world war, the political struggle conducted by the Social-Democratic Parties was a struggle for reforms in the field of social legislation and for universal suffrage, the struggle itself being carried on chiefly by means of the ballot.
While in words they did not reject the ultimate goal of the struggle of the proletariat, Socialism, in reality they did nothing of a serious and practical character to prepare for and wage the revolutionary battles, to train for this purpose, the necessary cadres, to give the party organizations a revolutionary policy, to break through bourgeois legality in the process of the struggle. The entire policy of the Social-Democratic and Socialist Parties resolved itself into securing through universal, equal suffrage, etc., a parliamentary majority, in order then to "inaugurate Socialism."
Attempts at such adaptation, which met with resolute resistance on the part of the illegal Bolshevik Party, found an expression in Russia as well among the Menshevik liquidators (and Trotsky) who proclaimed the Stolypin regime a bourgeois one, and sought to adjust themselves to it by taking up legal activities, and fighting for reforms after the model of the West-European Socialist Parties.
The Mensheviks ignored the fact that the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution remained unsolved after the 1905 revolution as well.
The role of the trade unions in the West was deliberately restricted to that of a subsidiary organization of the great working masses protecting nothing but the daily, even if important, economic interests of the working class without pursuing the aim of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat.
They left the entire field of "pure" politics to the political party. They had no other aims except to negotiate collective agreements and conduct economic strikes. Even more reformist was the role of the workers' cooperatives. The trade unions sometimes found themselves in conflict even with the Social-Democratic Parties on the question of the calling of political strikes and revolutionary holidays, while the cooperatives clashed with the trade unions seeking aid from the workers' cooperatives during economic strikes.
It was for this reason that the foreign Social-Democratic and Socialist Parties regarded Bernstein's revision of the fundamental principles of Marxism so tolerantly, without even thinking of a split, despite the fact that certain Social-Democratic Parties passed resolutions against the opportunists, revisionists, and reformists, for the whole work of the Social-Democratic Parties and the Labor organizations led by them, was permeated in practice with Bernsteinism.
The situation in Czarist Russia was quite different. During the 90s there existed in every city, particularly in the industrial centers of the former Russian Empire, not only groups of populists but also groups and organizations of Social-Democrats. From their very inception there existed among them opposing tendencies, Bundists, with their demand for cultural-national autonomy, who adhered to the "Economists," Revolutionary Social-Democrats, ordinary Social-Democrats-a swamp which swung both ways. The Social-Democratic newspaper, "Iskra," which was published by the revolutionary Social-Democrats headed by Comrade Lenin, opened from the very outset a struggle against all deviations from Marxism in general, and against Economism in particular.
Lenin and the revolutionary "Iskrists" who gained a majority at the second congress of the Party (the Bolsheviks) continued in their subsequent activities to follow the revolutionary Social-Democratic line of the old "Iskra." In a tireless struggle against Menshevism, liquidationism, Trotskyism, the right deviation, opportunism in practice, sectarianism, conciliationism within the Party, and all deviations from the Party line, in the name of the capture, maintenance and consolidation of the hegemony [rule] of the proletariat in the bourgeois democratic revolution, in a heroic revolutionary struggle against the Czarist autocracy, in a relentless struggle against the liberal bourgeoisie which was prepared to compromise with the Czarist autocracy and sought to deflect the Russian revolution on to the "Prussian road," in a struggle against the entire capitalist system, at all the stages of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, the Bolshevik Party, headed by Lenin, forged the Bolshevik strategy and tactics, the methods of mass work, the organizational principles and the Bolshevik Party structure.
The Bolsheviks in Russia, unlike the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries, did not have to overcome the old, deep-rooted opportunist and reformist traditions in the policy, organization and methods of their work. Besides, the Bolsheviks carefully studied and learned the lessons of the bourgeois-democratic revolutions, the role of the liberal bourgeoisie in them, rejected the weak points of the theory, program and practice of the Western Social-Democratic Parties and mass labor organizations and absorbed the good elements.
IN THE BEGINNING
A key difference: Social Democrats develop the idea that trade unions should be independent of parties; Bolsheviks make clear that the party leads both the political and the economic struggle
Up to 1905 there were no legal parties in Czarist Russia. Even the liberal bourgeoisie were forced to publish their printed party organ, "Emancipation," abroad (in Stuttgart, Germany). In other countries, on the contrary, there existed practically throughout the history of the mass labor movement (with some rare and temporary exceptions such as the anti-Socialist law in Germany), freedom for the Social-Democratic Parties not only before, but even during the war. In the decisive capitalist countries (France, Germany, England, America, Czechoslovakia and other countries) the Communist Parties exist more or less legally. It is these parties that I will contrast and compare with the Bolshevik Party of former Czarist Russia.
Up to 1905 Russia had no legal mass trade unions, and after 1905 when they were created by the R.S.D.L.P. [Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, which then included both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks] they eked out a miserable existence until 1912. The Mensheviks endeavored to give the trade unions they had created functions and a character analogous to that of trade unions in Western Europe. If they did not succeed in this, it was only thanks to the tireless struggle of the Bolsheviks against these efforts inside the workers mass organizations.
During the period of reaction, the Menshevik liquidators tried to use the trade unions as a substitute for the Party. From the outbreak of the war until the February Revolution the trade unions were either closed or placed in such police conditions as to be unable to function normally. Abroad, in the principal countries (England, America, Italy) trade unions were created before the organization of the Social-Democratic Parties, while the trade union movement of France was permeated by syndicalism which ignored the political parties. At the same time, in some countries (England, Belgium, Sweden, etc.) the trade unions were collectively affiliated to the Labor Parties so that it may be said that in a certain measure these Parties were formed out of the trade unions.
Even of Germany it may be said that the trade union movement is older than the independent political Labor Parties. In the 1860s the trade unions in various Labor centers (such as the unions of compositors, cigar makers in Berlin, etc.) originated and functioned before the workers educational societies which gave rise to the two Labor Parties of Germany, the Lassalians and the Eisenachers (which subsequently constituted the German Social-Democratic Party), arose and broke away from the bourgeois progressive party. The workers strikes took place without the leadership of political parties, especially during the latter half of the 1860s.
To illustrate the attitude of one of the most politically active workers parties of that time towards strikes we will quote the decision of the Congress of the German General Workers League (a political party led by Lassalle and after his death by Schweitzer) held in Hamburg in August, 1868. The Congress, by a vote of 3,417 to 2,583, declared not in favor of leading strikes but only of maintaining a friendly attitude towards strikes whereas the minority was even opposed to this rather indefinite formula. The Congress rejected a proposal to convene a national Workers Congress for the purpose of establishing general workers unions.
It goes without saying that individual Socialists and, particularly, the First International as a whole, led by Marx and Engels, exercised a very great influence over the existing trade unions and the strikes of that time. But the fact is that even in Germany of that epoch the political parties did not organize strikes or lead the trade unions. Later, with the passing of the anti-Socialist law, the German trade unions suffered less than the political Social-Democratic Party. The powerful development of capitalism strengthened the trade union movement despite the persecutions. Under the conditions of the time the trade unions could not but strengthen their independence. The Parliamentary Social-Democratic fraction which assumed the functions of the Central Committee did not direct the economic struggle of the proletariat, restricting itself to Parliamentary political problems. Thus, from the very beginning of the existence of the Social-Democratic Party, and of the trade union organizations, the latter displayed tendencies towards independence.
In Czarist Russia, on the contrary, the Party organizations of the Bolsheviks led the entire struggle, both economic and political. Abroad the functions of the trade unions and the Social-Democratic Parties were divided, the Parties engaging in pure politics while the trade unions conducted the economic struggle.
It must be emphasized that certain Communist Parties in capitalist countries do not even now consider it their duty to lead the economic struggle, but entrust it completely to the trade union opposition or the red trade unions. Thus, the Communist Parties have taken over these Social-Democratic traditions. In those countries where the Communist Parties organize strikes and attend to the trade union movement, we sometimes observe cases of a sectarian attitude towards it. It is only with great difficulty that the Communist Parties succeed in ridding themselves of this attitude.
Big differences between Communists and Social-Democrats
In Czarist Russia there were no elections or election campaigns up to 1905. Although the municipal and county councils (the Zemstvos) and City Duma were elected bodies, neither the peasants nor the workers participated in the elections. After 1905 when the State Duma was created the workers were given special voting conditions, labor "curias" [elected bodies set up on a class basis. Workers' curias had less representation than those of the bourgeoisie or landlords] being, created and the workers voting in the factories and mills.
All the parties in Czarist Russia up to 1905 were illegal, and the absence of elections and (and this is of chief importance) the correct attitude of the Bolsheviks towards the structure of the Party-they recruited into the Party the workers of the factories, created political and self-education circles for the factory workers-gave rise to these special forms of the Bolshevik Party in Czarist Russia. The illegal condition of the Bolshevik Party prompted it to establish Party groups in the factories, where, it was easier and more convenient to work. The Party structure of the Bolsheviks thus began with the factories, and this yielded excellent results both during the years of the reaction, after the February revolution, and particularly during the October Revolution of 1917, the Civil War and the great construction of Socialism.
During the reaction following upon 1908, when in places the local party committees and the party leadership (the C.C.) were broken up, there still remained in the factories and mills a certain base, small party cells which continued the work. After the February Revolution when the elections to the Soviets of Workers' Deputies were held, the factories and mills also served as the basis for the elections.
It is noteworthy that the elections to the municipal and district councils and the Constituent Assembly, which were based not upon occupational but upon territorial principles, were also carried out by the Bolshevik Party very successfully after the February and October Revolutions, despite the fact that the party had no territorial organizations, and its agitation was concentrated in the factories and barracks. The cells and the district and city committees conducted the election campaign without creating special territorial organizations for the purpose. During all periods the lower party organizations of the Bolsheviks existed at the place of work rather than at the place of residence.
Abroad the situation was entirely different. There elections were not held in the factories but in the election districts, in the places where the voters lived. The main task pursued by the Socialist Parties was to gain electoral victories to fight by means of the ballot, and the Party organization was therefore built along residential lines, which made it easier to organize the Party members for the election campaign in the respective election districts.
It cannot be said, however, that the Social-Democratic Parties were not connected with the factories and mills. They kept in contact with them through the trade unions which they headed through their members. Although the trade unions were not built along factory lines, they still had their representatives and financial secretaries in the factories, and since these financial secretaries and trade union delegates were mostly Social-Democrats, the Social-Democratic Parties, through these trade union delegates and through the trade unions, were connected with the factories.
When the Communist Parties appeared (and they appeared in some countries as a result of secessions and withdrawals from the Social-Democratic Party, while in others, such as Czechoslovakia and France, the majority of the Social-Democratic Party decided to join the Communist International, the remaining minorities constituting themselves into Social-Democratic Parties), they built their organizations exactly after the model of the Social-Democrats. And this, despite the fact that the Communist Parties, from the very moment of their inception, aimed at an entirely different objective to that of the Social-Democratic Parties. They made it their object to overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish the power of the proletariat, while the international Social-Democracy during the war, supported its bourgeoisie, and after the war, developed into the chief social support of the bourgeoisie.
Nevertheless, the Communist Parties constructed their organizations along the same lines as the Social-Democrats, on the basis of election constituencies, along residential lines. In addition it must be said that they did not have their trade union organizations, and where they created their own trade unions, the latter did not, and do not, to this day, have firm organizational connections with the factories. Thus, the organizations of the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries were built without permanent organizational connections with the factories.
Such is the principal defect in the structure of the Communist Parties which must be clearly and sharply stressed by the teacher in the Party schools. The Communist Parties have different tasks, yet they built their organizations along the same lines as the Social-Democratic Parties. While the Social-Democrats are connected with the factories through the trade unions, the Communist Parties do not have even such connections with the factories; this is true of even those Communist Parties which strongly influence the red trade unions (the Communist Parties of Czechoslovakia and France).
The Communist Parties, immediately after their formation, took over the organizational forms of the Social-Democratic Parties, because they did not know of, they were not familiar with, the peculiar Bolshevik forms and methods of Party structure. However, during the war, and immediately after it, the factory workers in many countries appointed revolutionary representatives (in Germany these representatives played an important part in the big strikes conducted during the war) elected factory committees (such as the shop stewards in England) and even sent representatives to local and National Councils.
In this way they were able to realize the advantages of organizing at their place of work compared with organization along territorial lines. But after the revolutionary storm subsided, the Social-Democratic traditions gained the upper hand over the forms of organization approaching the Bolshevik forms of work in the factories. This is the main reason why the Communist Parties, especially the middle and lower Party and revolutionary trade union organizations and cadres which are actually carrying. out most of the Party and revolutionary work rejected at that time the nearly-Bolshevik methods of work in the factories, and are now resisting the adoption of these methods, despite the fact that their superiority to the Social-Democratic methods has already been proven. In this, however, they do not meet with sufficient opposition on the part of the Party leadership.
That the absence of Party organizations in the factories strongly affects the work of the Communist Parties is shown by such an example, for instance, as that of Germany, in 1923, when the Party failed to utilize the revolutionary situation for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, this being due not only to the absence of a truly revolutionary leadership, but also to the absence of extensive and firm connections with the workers in the factories.
In 1923, German Social-Democracy was seriously weakened by mass desertions. The reformist trade unions in 1922 had nine million members (7,895,065 in the all-German Federation of Trade Unions and the rest in the clerical workers' unions) of whom only three million remained in 1923. The apparatus of the reformist trade unions was demoralized, it had no money to pay its officials.
The German Communist Party could then have captured power had it been headed by a revolutionary leadership, had it conducted a real struggle against the Social-Democratic Party and the reformists, had it been strongly connected with the factories, had it been familiar with the interests of the factory workers, had it mobilized them, applying the revolutionary united front policy in the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat instead of the Brandlerist united front with the "left" Saxon Social-Democrats and with Zeigner's Government.
The meeting called by the Brandlerist opportunist leadership in 1923 to decide the question of whether they were to take action or not consisted mainly of Party officials, cooperative workers and trade union officials, among whom there were a good many right opportunists of the. type of Brandler, Thalheimer and Walcher, who were not connected with the masses, who did not know what the working masses were thinking and interested in, and it was this meeting which decided not to act.
THE PARTY'S CELLS
It makes a difference whether or not they are based on the workplace
In Czarist Russia the cells (or the individual Bolsheviks in the factories and mills in which no Party cells existed) utilized all the grievances in the factories; the gruffness of the foremen, deductions from wages, fines, the failure to provide medical aid in accidents, etc., for oral agitation at the bench, through leaflets, meetings at the factory gates or in the factory yards, and separate meetings of the more class-conscious and revolutionary workers.
The Bolsheviks always showed the connection between the maltreatment in the factories, and the rule of the autocracy, for the workers felt the effects of the Czarist whips on their own backs, and jail and exile for their protests and strikes against the employers. At the same time the autocracy was connected up in the agitation of the Party cells with the capitalist system, so that at the very beginning of the development of the Labor Movement the Bolsheviks established a connection between the economic struggle and the political.
When the sentiments of the workers in the factories became favorable towards a strike, the Bolshevik cells immediately placed themselves in the leadership. The strikes in single shops spread to all departments, a strike in a single factory spread to all the other factories, and the strikes of the factory workers, under the influence and leadership of the Bolshevik Party organizations, frequently assumed the forms of street demonstrations, and in this way the economic strikes developed into a political struggle.
In the history of the Labor Movement of Czarist Russia there were many cases when strikes at individual factories developed into strikes of all the factories of the entire city, and affected other cities as well. All such strikes, despite the underground work of the Bolsheviks, demanded great sacrifices on their part as well as the revolutionary workers. But these sacrifices, this struggle and daily activity gave rise to new cadres who continued the struggle. In this way the Bolshevik cells became organizers of the struggle of the masses, and conducted the economic and political struggles.
The Third Congress of the Comintern, held in 1921, adopted the first theses on the question of the structure of the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries. Up to 1924 the Communist Parties completely failed to respond to these decisions of the Third Congress. Now many of the Communist Parties already have factory cells, but in most cases, especially in the legal Communist Parties, they do hardly any work in the factories.
The Social-Democratic traditions of Party structure have been so strongly rooted in some of the Communist Parties that they press upon the Party members even when Bolshevik forms of organization are already applied. Factory Party cells already exist in many of the factories, but they are still very far from changing the method of their work. They discuss the Party questions, participate in the campaigns for the election of factory committees, sometimes even publish factory newspapers, but they do not attend to the questions of their own factory, they do not conduct oral individual agitation in the factories, at the factory gates, in the tram car, subway and train, while traveling to and from work, they rarely speak at the meetings held by the factory committees, which are addressed by Social-Democrats and reformists and where it is easier to prove and reveal their treachery.
The factory cells do not direct or control the work of the Communists in the factory committees led by the reformists. They leave the red factory committees without leadership; that is why the work of the red factory committees is frequently in no way superior to that of the reformist committees. The most important Party and trade union campaigns are not conducted by the Party Committees through the factory cells. Even the municipal, District Council and Parliamentary elections, which are held quite frequently are still carried out, not through the factory cells, but through the street cells.
All this leads to the factory cells learning of strikes in the shops and even in the factories in which the members of the cells are employed, only after they are already begun. Even in those cases when the factory cells and the groups of the trade union opposition and red trade unions do prepare for a strike, as soon as the strike committees are elected, they withdraw from the leadership and cease to exist as organizations, of which the reformists are naturally quick to take advantage.
This may be said of the majority of the cells existing in the factories and mills of the capitalist countries. This does not mean that there are no cells there which are working excellently, which have proved that the factory cell system is superior to the Social-Democratic system of building the Party organization. Unfortunately, however, such cells constitute a minority, while the enormous majority of the cells in the factories do not work at all, or work poorly. In very many cases not all the members of the party employed in the factories join the factory cells to this day.
The Bolshevik Party knew only one form of lower organization, the cell in the factory, office, army barracks, etc. Taking into consideration the conditions abroad, the Comintern was forced to introduce an additional form of organization, the street cells. They were introduced for such members of the Party as housewives, small artisans, etc. The street cells were to be used for the Party work in the places of residence. The street cells are to embrace also the unemployed members of the Party until they find work; it is impossible to force an unemployed member of the Party to go to the factory where he was formerly employed in order to attend a cell meeting (if a cell exists there) when these unemployed simply have not the means of paying for their fare to the factories. The street cells have definite tasks; to canvass the homes of the workers, to distribute handbills, to help in the election campaigns, to give outside help to the factory cells.
In the big cities abroad, it happens that a worker is employed in the city itself, but lives far away from the city, sometimes even in a town located several miles from the city. But in the evening, as well as weekends, the Party members living far from their places of work must be utilized by the local Party committees and street cells for Party work in their place of residence. The basic work of these Party members still remains that in their factory cell.
But instead of making it into a merely subsidiary organization, the Communist Parties made the street cell the predominant organization. They began to create street cells on such a scale that they embraced 80 per cent, and sometimes even more of the Party members.
In other words, in the street cells they found a loophole through which they sought to drag in the old form of organization of the Party members. And the entire struggle of the organizational department of the E.C.C.I. for the past five years to get the Communist Parties to check up the membership of the street cells and remove those employed in the factories from them, produced practically no result. If we take the figures of the German Communist Party we will see that at the end of December, 1931, they had 1,983 factory cells and 6,196 street cells. In membership they are large, but their activity is weak.
In other cases they began to create so-called concentration groups, so as to avoid organizing factory cells. They take a few from different factories and create a group to serve one factory. Such concentration groups, existing especially in England, could not produce the same results as factory cells. In France cells were created consisting of 1-2 workers of the factory, and 12-16 members from outside the factory. And these were also called factory cells! To these 12-16 members of the Party, the events in the factory appear trifling, so that the cell naturally attends to anything but what takes place in the factory.
BUILDING PARTY CELLS IN CAPITALIST COUNTRIES
Why it's hard to do, and how the
difficulties can be overcome
There are, of course, serious difficulties in the work in the factories which the teachers must not ignore.
In Czarist Russia the Bolshevik Party was illegal and the Party cells were naturally also, illegal. When the Party became legal the cells also became entirely legal. Abroad the situation is quite different. The Parties in the principal capitalist countries are legal, but the cells must be illegal. Unfortunately, they cannot work unnoticed. The employers and their spies detect the revolutionary workers and throw them out of the factory without meeting with any protest on the part of the reformist trade unions; on the contrary, the latter frequently act themselves as the initiator in the expulsion of the Communists from the factories. But inasmuch as the work of the Communists in the factories is weak, as a rule the workers do not defend the discharged Communists (though there have been opposite cases as well, of course).
Under these conditions the factory cells do nothing, in most cases, or if they display the least activity, their members are thrown out of the factories, owing to failure to conceal even their insignificant work. There are frequently also cases when the Communists are thrown out of the factories even when they do nothing there, simply because of their membership in the Communist Party. The teachers of the International Communist Universities must remember this difficulty. They must explain to the students in the discussion of the work in the legal Communist Parties how such cells can and must organize their work, and it is here that the Bolshevik experience of illegal work in the factories under the Czar which produced such excellent results, can be utilized.
Let this not appear a trifle. The Communist Parties suffer very much from their inability to conduct conspirative work in the factories, losing members and revolutionary workers, through their expulsion from the factories. To some Communists it may appear a shame that the Social-Democrats, the nationalists and the members of the other Parties are able openly to proclaim their Party affiliation while they, despite the fact that the Communist Party is legal, must hide their membership in it. Is not such secrecy cowardice? Or right opportunism? Not in the least. This would be cowardice and opportunism of the members of the cells, or the individual Communists, feared and evaded addressing the factory workers' meetings against the reformists and Social-Democrats, when they proposed to agree to a lowering of the living standards of the workers, to approve the dismissal of the workers, or when they vote for the proposals of the Social-Democrats and reformists, etc. Such cases, unfortunately, have occurred.
But there is no need at all to shout in the factories and mills that we are Communists and while shouting thus, not always conducting Communist work. It is possible and necessary to carry on real Party work connecting the Party slogans with the every-day struggle in the factories, without calling oneself a member of the Party or cell. It is always possible to find appropriate forms for this. Is it not possible to say: "today I read such and such a report, this or that," or "a chap from our factory (or from the neighboring factory) told me...," etc.? In short, everything in the spirit of the decisions of the cell and Party, though in form there is no shouting about it; it may even appear "innocent."
Even in those cases when anyone addresses the workers' meeting in the factory on instructions from the cell, it is not always necessary to declare that he speaks in the name of the cell. The main point is that the speeches should always be in the spirit of the decision of the cell, while the motions should be prepared or approved by the cell bureau [leaders, or committee]. The other members of the cell and their sympathizers must not only vote for the motion made by the comrade sent by the cell, but also conduct agitation among the workers for this motion. In the illegal Parties the situation is different. There both the Party and the cells are illegal, but unfortunately even the illegal Parties have not yet learned properly to disguise their work.
There is one more important difficulty which the teachers must remember and sharply emphasize.
In Czarist Russia the rules and regime in the factories were lenient compared with those in the factories of the big capitalist countries, especially compared with what we have now after the introduction of capitalist rationalization which sweats the workers to death, after the introduction of the conveyor system [assembly line].
Before the fall of Czarism the workers were so miserably paid by their employers, and conducted such a vigorous struggle against the deterioration of the conditions in the factories that the manufacturers were forced on the whole, to give up the idea of introducing Taylorism ["scientific management" to produce speed-ups] in the exploitation of the workers. This facilitated the Party work in the factories. Besides, the workers in the factories and mills, no matter what so-called Socialist Parties they may have belonged to, [including, after 1905 "Black Hundred Gangs" led by Czarist agents. They wormed themselves into the railway service and factories, but they completely failed to gain in influence among the workers.] joined the Bolshevik workers in the economic and political struggles (strikes, demonstrations, and even uprisings).
But this does not at all mean that the Bolshevik Party, the factory cells, or the individual Bolsheviks drifted with the current, that they hid their Bolshevik principles in the factory. On the contrary, in the factories and mills, as well as in the illegal newspapers and appeals, the Bolsheviks conducted a vigorous campaign against the Mensheviks, liquidators, Trotskyists, Socialist-revolutionists, National Socialists, etc. The Bolsheviks, by their convincing agitation, by their arguments in the debates with the members of other Parties, by their reasoned and timely proposals, by their knowledge of the situation of the workers in the factories, by their methods of work, by drawing the workers into the solution of the questions, by patient preparation of the struggle, by their methods or organization, proved their correctness and superiority to the other Parties; that is why the Bolshevik Party succeeded in establishing in the factories and mills the united front from below, with the workers of all tendencies throughout the history of the Labor Movement in Russia, even when the Mensheviks shouted about the Bolshevik "strike fever" in 1912-1914 and when, under Kerensky, the Moscow Bolsheviks in August, 1917, called a general strike against the Moscow State Conference in which the Mensheviks and the Socialist-revolutionists played the first fiddle, and later, during the October days of 1917, when the Bolsheviks organized the uprising against the bourgeoisie, the Mensheviks and the Socialist-revolutionists.
Some of the favorable conditions mentioned above are not enjoyed by the present-day Communist Parties. Thus, they are forced to conduct the economic struggle-and not only the economic-both against the Social-Democrats, the reformist trade unions, the Fascists, the yellows and everybody else.
All of them go hand in hand with the employers. The least carelessness in the work and the Communists, whether as members of the trade union opposition or the red trade unions, are thrown out of the factories. This makes it necessary to resort to such methods of work as will produce, in the struggle of the revolutionary proletariat, the highest effect with the least losses.
Such methods are the tried Bolshevik methods alone. The Communists must and should overcome all the difficulties. The greater the difficulties, the more patient and determined must be the work of the Communists inside the factory, near its gates and everywhere where the workers and the unemployed are found.
The contents and methods of the work must be Bolshevik. It is necessary to systematically convince, and prove by convincing arguments instead of denouncing the opponents, especially the Social-Democratic and reformist workers. It is necessary to systematically expose the Social-Democracy and the reformists in a popular manner, with the aid of facts, without, however, forgetting the national Socialists and all other enemy Parties still followed by the workers.
But agitation alone is insufficient. It is necessary to organize the struggle, it is necessary to prove to the workers that the Communists are able to organize the struggle and paralyze the maneuvers of the Social-Democrats and reformists. This can be achieved by the application of Bolshevik methods of work and organization, not a mechanical application, but one depending upon the concrete conditions.
At the present moment when the situation of the workers in every capitalist country has been incredibly worsened, when the number of unemployed has mounted into the millions, when all the burdens of the economic and financial crisis coupled with the expenses of the preparation for imperialist wars and the attacks upon the USSR are being thrown on the backs of the toilers, it becomes possible and absolutely necessary for the Communist Party to overcome all the difficulties and improve its work.
RECRUITING TO THE PARTY
How and where to win new members-and how to keep them in the Party
How are new members enrolled by the Communist Parties? The Bolsheviks enroll and have enrolled revolutionary workers in the factories. Only after the taking of power did the Bolsheviks begin to organize Party weeks, that is, campaigns for the enrollment of members, these campaigns also being conducted in the factories. Prior to the October Revolution the Bolsheviks enrolled members on the basis of the everyday work. Those admitted to the Party were drawn into the Party work and included in political study circles.
How is the enrollment of members by the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries organized to this day? Members are enrolled at meetings, at great mass meetings. Sometimes even in the streets (in England). A speaker makes a fiery speech, carries away the worker, and the latter submits an application for admission to the Party. Let us assume that in doing this he gives his address.
However, our Party organizations have not been in a hurry to establish contact with such comrades, to bring them into the Party organizations, to find them in their homes, to ascertain where they work in order to get in touch with their factory cell or street. While they take their time, a large number of applicants disappears in an unknown direction: some changing their addresses, some leave for other cities, some lose their ardor about joining the Communist organization.
Precisely because the admission to the Party takes place not in the factories, not on the basis of the work of the Party in the factories, through the creation of a body of active non-party workers who make themselves conspicuous in the everyday work, particularly during strikes and demonstrations, and from among whom the cells recruit new Party members, even those whom we have already enrolled leave us. I could cite perfectly amazing figures to characterize the fluctuation in the Communist Parties.
In January, 1930, the German Communist Party, according to its data, had 133,000 dues-paying members; during 1930 another 143,000 members were admitted, so that in 1931 the total membership ought to have amounted to 276,000. But at the end of December, 1930, the C.P. of Germany had only 180,000, which means that in 1930, 90,000 members dropped their membership in the C.P. of Germany. In 1931, the situation, according to the figures of the organizational Department of the E.C.C.I., based upon the statistics of the Communist Party of Germany, was as follows: the number of newly-admitted members was 210,000, but at the same time as many members left the Party as in 1930.
Would all of these Party members have left the Party had the organizations worked well, had they given attention to the new members, had they drawn the new members into Party work, had they supplied them with proper literature, had they formed circles and included these members within them so that they would study there? Would, under such conditions, all those who left the party have left it? I think they would not.
Although the workers and employees are being thrown out of the factories in masses, the enrollment of Party members must be carried out mainly among the employed workers, especially in the big factories of the key industries.
The Party organizations are obliged particularly to pay attention to the members of the Party in these factories and industries; they should be drawn into the discussion of all the questions of the current policy of the Party. They should be given assistance in the preparation of speeches at the factory meetings in the oral agitation among the workers of the factory, they should be supplied with materials against the social-democrats, reformists, national socialists, the government, etc.
Similar work should be carried out among the Party activists who conduct the Party and trade union work among the unemployed, and within the reformist trade unions. If such work is carried out, the number of Party members, new and old, leaving the Party, will decline. For the fact that thousands and hundreds of thousands are Joining the Communist Party and the revolutionary trade union organizations proves that the workers agree with the slogans, tactics and program of the Communist Parties and with the programs of the mass organizations. But the internal life of the local organizations and their activity does not satisfy the revolutionary workers, so that a large section of the newly-admitted members leaves them.
To the teachers of the international universities, as well as to the activists and cadres who are to engage in the Party work, these questions of enrollment and maintenance of new members are far from indifferent. Special attention must be given to these questions. The question must be carefully studied. Perhaps the teachers are already giving attention to the fact which I have pointed out, but what I say is based on practice and practical results. And in this field we find that the Communist Parties have not yet received the cadres which are necessary for the correct building of the Party organization.
How Party committees and members should work, self-criticism, democratic centralism and the development of cadres
Take the Party committees. When the Bolsheviks built their party during and after the Czarist regime the Party committees were collective organs, all of whose members participated in the decision of questions, and had distinct functions of their own.
The district and city Party committees considered and decided all questions connected with the economic and political struggle of the proletariat within the framework of the decisions of the congresses and plenums of the Party Central Committee, of the C.C. directions, of the Central organ and of Comrade Lenin's instructions. They not only discussed and issued instructions as to how these decisions and directives should be applied in the given province and city, but took upon themselves the organization of the operation of these decisions, explaining and popularizing them.
They gave special attention to the local committees which were directly connected with the factories. They saw to it that the Party decisions and the directions of the Party committees were discussed in all the universities, as well as to the activists and Party organizations, especially in factories. They saw to it that the Party decisions and the directions of the Party committees were discussed in all the Party organizations, especially in factories, especially that they passed resolutions on them and adopted methods for their realization.
They saw to it that the Party organizations should not violate the inner-party democracy, but at the same time they also saw to it that the strictest discipline should prevail `in the Party organizations. The questions were discussed before a decision was adopted. But as soon as a decision was adopted it had to be carried out without question by all the Party members, including those who opposed it and voted against it.
This did not of course interfere with any criticism of the Party committees after the decisions had been carried out, as well as with self-criticism on the part of the Party committees, etc. But the criticism and self-criticism only led to an improvement of the methods of work of the leadership, to the strategy and tactics being worked out more carefully and the mistakes being corrected. The leadership of the Party, the leadership of the district and city committees did not restrict themselves to "Pure" politics only. They engaged in questions of program, policy and organization. They did not separate policy from organization, the adoption of decisions from their realization. This was, in the tremendous majority of cases correct,. vital, revolutionary Bolshevik leadership. This is why the divergence between the ideological influence over the masses and its organizational consolidation was not large.
An entirely different position prevails in the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries. There, very frequently no local Party committees exist, and where they do exist the only one doing any work, at best, is the secretary, who is sometimes paid and sometimes unpaid, while the Party committees exist only in the form of attachments to the secretaries, and do not function regularly as collective organs.
Where the Party committees exist, very frequently all the reports at the full meetings are made by the secretaries and whatever they propose is adopted because the Party committees (that is, their individual members) are not in touch with the Party affairs. These local and city committees are unable, of course, either to organize the work of the cells or to give them proper leadership. To the local party organs, especially the lower ones, special attention must be given.
In many cases, the decisions of the congresses and C.C. of the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries are not discussed in the factory or street cells or residential party groups which still exist in large numbers. These decisions are discussed at meetings of the city or district activists and that is where the matter ends.
The directives of the C.C. and regional committees rarely reach the cells, are marooned in the district committees, yet directives applying, say, to the conduct of mass campaigns are meant mainly for the cells, since it is precisely the cells which come into direct contact with the masses. The cells and residential groups are on the whole passive. They do not throb with life as is dictated by the conditions of the present period; this too is a social-democratic tradition. These Party organizations come to life only before election campaigns. That is why there are many cases of inner-Party democracy and Bolshevik discipline being absent from these Party organizations. In this situation it is not surprising that the decisions of the congresses, the directives of the Comintern and C.C. remain unfulfilled. Take for instance the decisions of the C.I. [Communist International, or Comintern] congresses, of the congresses of the different Parties, of the E.C.C.I. and of the C.C.' s calling for the shifting of the center of gravity of the Party and trade union work into the factories, for the improvement of the work of the lower units of the Party and trade union organizations, especially in the factories, etc.
Obviously the cause for the absence of Bolshevik methods of Party work should be sought in the incorrect policy of the leading (central, district, sub-district and partly local) Party cadres.
But there is "self-criticism" galore. They criticize themselves openly during strikes, when it is necessary to reorganize the work in the course of the struggle, during campaigns, when it is necessary to change the methods and content of the work to improve the organization of the Party forces for the purpose of extending and deepening the campaign. They criticize themselves upon the conclusion of the strikes and campaigns, which is all right, but they repeat the same old mistakes during the next strikes and campaigns. We have plenty of such cases.
In the Bolshevik Party, even under the Czar, when the Party was illegal, we had democratic centralism. The Party organizations did not wait for instructions from the C.C., the regional committees, the provincial committees and the city committees; without waiting for them, they acted, depending upon the local conditions, upon the events, within the framework of the general Party decisions and directives. The initiative of the local Party organizations, of the cells, was encouraged. Were the Bolsheviks of Odessa or Moscow, of Baku, or Tiflis, always to have waited for directives from the C.C., the provincial committees, etc., which during the years of the reaction and of the war frequently did not exist at all owing to arrests, what would have been the. result? The Bolsheviks would not have captured the working masses and exercised any influence over them. The provincial and city committees themselves published appeals and leaflets on all occasions when this was necessary.
Unfortunately, in many Communist Parties there is super-centralism, especially in the legal parties. The C.C. must supply leaflets to the local organizations, the C.C. must first state its opinion on the events in order that the locals should wake up. The responsibility does not exist which the Party organization must have to act at any moment, regardless of whether directives exist or not, on the basis of the decisions of the Party and Comintern. And even in those cases when corresponding directives of the center do exist, they frequently do not reach the mass of the membership, and at the same time there is not sufficient control over the execution of the directions on the part of the higher organs. All this must be combated and the teachers must remember this side of the question in the work.
In the Bolshevik Party the buttress of Party work was cells in the factories and works. The connection with the masses, who were led through the cells and Communist fractions in the mass organizations was a living one. The Party press literature, the written, spoken agitation, was based on the level of understanding of the masses.
Since the Bolshevik Party under the Czar was illegal up to the February revolution, no big apparatus existed either at the center (in the C.C.) or locally (in the district, local and provincial committees); they did not and could not have permanent headquarters necessary for any more or less reasonable apparatus. The financial resources would also not allow a large staff. For this reason the center of gravity of the Party work (and not only of the Party work, but even of the work of the legal and illegal trade unions) was naturally shifted into the factories and mills. This situation of the Party work continued during the period of February to October, 1917, as well, when the Bolshevik Party became legal and carried out enormous mass work while the apparatus of the C.C., of the regional and provincial committees was quite small. As before the principal attention was given to the work of the local committees, sub-local committees and factory cells.
In the legal parties of the capitalist countries the order in the Party apparatus is the reverse: these Communist Parties, being legal, have quite a number of convenient premises at their disposal to house their apparatus.
The main forces of the apparatus (the agitation, organization, trade union, women's, parliamentary, village and other departments) are concentrated in the C.C., regional and provincial committees, while the local committees and the cells are empty. In many local committees in the industrial centers-not to speak of the cells-there are even no paid secretaries. The local committees must receive "everything" from the center: that is why the initiative of the local Party organizations is deadened. The E.C.C.I. is waging a determined struggle against this phenomenon.
The struggle is all the more necessary because here again the question is not one of simply organizational condition of legality or illegality. The question consists in taking a course to the masses, to a close permanent connection with them. The forms of organization must be subjected to these aims and serve them, not the reverse.
In the legal Communist Parties of the capitalist countries the connection with and leadership of the masses is in most cases of a paper character-through circulars; the press, literature, written and oral agitation are abstract and not concrete: they do not, as a rule, correspond to the concrete situation. This is due to the fact that under the conditions described above there are not suitable cadres capable of acting locally and directly in contact with the masses. This leads us therefore to the question of proper Party cadres.
In the Bolshevik Party the Party cadres were forged in the mass practical work. They learned through this work to react to all the events in the life of the worker. They not only knew what the worker thinks and how he lives, but they also responded to it; they organized the struggle, they pointed the way out to the worker; that. is why the Bolshevik Party even during the days of the Czar exercised such a great influence over the masses, enjoyed such a great prestige among the working class.
The higher and middle Party cadres in the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries are in most cases revolutionary ex-members of the Social-Democratic Parties. Their methods of work remained in most cases the same as in the Social Democracy. Many of them have not yet freed themselves from the Social-Democratic traditions. And even a large section of the new young cadres who have been brought to the fore during the last few years in some of the Communist Parties, are inexperienced, are also unable to work concretely and independently, and, in view of the excessive centralization of the leadership ("everything from the center!), they are poorly learning the art of independent initiative and concrete leadership in the local work.
THE PARTY AND PARTY FRACTIONS AT WORK
Party leadership must give leadership to the fractions, not act instead
the fractions must carry out the Party's line in all their work
Of course, it was easier for the Bolsheviks than for the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries to establish the mutual relations between the Communist fractions and Party committees since the Party organizations actually conducted a great variety of activities, they led the economic struggle, organized trade unions and cooperative societies and created all sorts of labor organizations, such as were allowed to exist under the Czarist regime, from 1905 until the war. That is why the Party organizations were recognized authorities in the eyes of the workers in all these organizations, especially of the Party members and sympathizers. This situation appeared to all to be quite natural and no one raised any question about it.
When we came into power there were some tendencies among certain Soviet Communist fractions to supplant the Party organs, but this was a passing phenomenon. The relations between the. Party organizations and the Communist fractions (or individual Communists) in the non-Party mass labor organizations prior to and, especially, since the capture of power, have been such that the Party organizations decide the important questions. While the Communist fractions and the individual Communists, no matter what non-Party organizations may be affected, carry the decisions into effect. The Communist fractions themselves decide upon the methods for carrying out the decisions. In their everyday work they are entirely independent. They can and must display initiative in their work within the non-Party organizations and bodies. The Communist fractions in the leading bodies of the non-Party organizations must not only report to the conferences and congresses which elected them, but also to the Party committees. Prior to the October Revolution, and even immediately after it, when there were still Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries in some of the non-Party mass organizations, the Bolsheviks converted each newly-gained position into a stronghold for the capture of the organization in the district, city, region and nationally. They demonstrated their ability to work better than the others, prepare the questions, lead, and weld together and organize the masses of the workers. That is why they succeeded in driving the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries and the other "Socialist" and populist parties out of the mass labor organizations.
In the Communist Parties in capitalist countries things are different because in them Social-Democratic traditions are still preserved, which are frequently interwoven with sectarianism. The trade unions, and the other proletarian mass organizations, as has been pointed out above, arose before the Social-Democratic Parties in the principal capitalist countries and made a strong position for themselves in the working class as independent organizations which led the economic struggle.
The members of the Social-Democratic Parties who led the mass proletarian organizations, therefore, had a definite amount of independence. Moreover, the Social-Democratic Party not only did not oppose this independence but on the contrary, they themselves developed the theory that the trade unions were equal in value to, and therefore should have equal rights with, the Party, that the trade unions were neutral organizations.
As has been said already, the only exception in this respect was the Bolshevik Party. A number of cases could be quoted in the history of German Social-Democracy for instance, when the decisions of the trade union congresses differed from those of the Social-Democratic Party Congresses-for instance on the question of the general strike in 1905. And this was so despite the fact that the delegates to the trade union congresses were Social-Democrats who knew the standpoint of the Party.
The same thing occurred in connection with the celebration of the First of May. Before the war the Social-Democratic Parties in Central Europe celebrated May Day on the first of May, while the Social-Democratic "free" trade unions sabotaged the First of May celebration, in order to avoid paying victimization benefit to workers who might lose their jobs for taking part in May Day celebration on the First of May. The trade unions urged that May Day should be celebrated on the first Sunday in May.
These relations which existed between the Social-Democratic Parties and the trade unions before the war, and which the Bolsheviks regarded as abnormal (since the war surprising unanimity has been displayed between the Social-Democratic Parties and trade unions and there has been complete cooperation between them in betraying the interests of the working class in their respective countries) cannot be tolerated in a Bolshevik Party since they prevent uniform leadership being exercised over all forms of the revolutionary labor movement. But they have been inherited from the Social-Democratic Parties by the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries.
The abnormal relations between the Communist Parties and the Communist fractions in the trade unions and in all the other mass proletarian organizations are due to two fundamental causes: the Party committees sometimes supplant the mass organizations, they remove the elected secretaries and appoint others, they openly publish in the press such things as: We propose to the red trade unions that they do this or that; that is, they act in a way as is very rarely done even by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Usually the decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or of the local Party committees are carried out through the Communist fractions or through individual Party members working in this or that non-Party organization.
Another cause of the abnormal relations is that the individual members of the Communist Party work on their own accord, disregard the directions of the Party organs or disobey them. There have been cases in France, for instance, when the Party organs thought that they must take the place of the International Red Aid, the trade unions, the cooperative and sport organizations, where they alone can perform the functions of these organizations.
This is absolutely wrong. Even had the leadership of many of the Communist Parties been a hundred times superior to what it is, in reality, they could not do the work of these organizations. This, in fact, is unnecessary because both the Central Committee and the local Party organizations should only determine the line, see that the line is carried out, lead the Communist fractions and the individual Communists working in the mass organizations. The Central Committee and the Party committees must get their directives carried out in the mass labor organizations through the Communist fractions or the individual Party members where there are no fractions, but they must not do their work for them.
However, I think it is hardly necessary to go into further details to prove that these incorrect relations between the Party, the trade unions and the mass organizations generally interfere with the extension of the Party connections among the masses, with the real consolidation of the Party among the masses.
In the countries in which there are red trade unions there exist side by side with them, in the same industries, trade unions of other tendencies. However, the red trade unions have very rarely succeeded in capturing whole organizations, or more or less considerable groups of members, from the trade unions of other tendencies.
The trade union oppositions in the reformist trade unions frequently succeed in gaining a majority in the local branches of the different reformist trade unions. But the Communist Parties and the trade union oppositions do not convert these into strongholds from which to extend their influence over the other branches of the same union or over branches of other trade unions which are affiliated to the same local trades council. This can only be explained by the fact that the opposition branches not infrequently take up the same position as reformist trade unions. The same applies to the red factory committees. They do not receive proper leadership and the necessary aid in their work.
THE COMMUNIST PRESS
What is its job? How does the Party use it to build the Party and its line? What should be printed in the Party papers?
The Bolshevik Party Press, expressing as it does the Party line, has always carried out the decisions of the Party both during the illegal period and at the present time. It mobilizes, organizes and educates the masses of the workers.
The Party press must not be separated from the Party committees. Abroad, the Social-Democratic Parties used to elect the editors of the Party newspapers at their congresses. There were cases when the Central Committee could do nothing with such a newspaper; the paper had its own line while the Central Committee followed its line. Such was the case in Germany with the Vorwarts, the same occurred in Italy with Avanti. The Communist Parties naturally discarded these "excellent" traditions.
But the "independent" press which the Social-Democrats had before the war nevertheless left a deep impress upon the Communist Parties as well. Not that the editors are appointed by the congresses and remain independent of the Central Committee and Party committees-this does not happen in the Communist Parties-but in many cases the Central Committee and the Party committees give very little attention to the Party press, and so the press in these cases goes its own way while Central Committees and the Party committees go their own way. The line of the Central Committee and of the Party committees often differs from that of the Party newspapers-but this is not because the Central Committee, the Party committees and the editors want this to be so.
In Germany we have 38 Party dailies. If all of these 38 daily newspapers had good and proper leadership they could exercise much greater influence upon the masses of the workers than they do at present. Remember that from 1912 to 1914 the Bolshevik Party had only one legal daily, Pravda. And what miracles Pravda performed in Russia in those days! What an inestimable help the Pravda was to the workers locally, though owing to the censorship it could not say everything it desired.
Pravda wrote on all the most important and serious questions in popular language that could be understood even by the uneducated workers. Pravda devoted much space to events in the factories and mills. In those countries to which I have referred the newspapers are legal, they are able, more or less, to say whatever they think to express and carry out the Party line. Like the mass labor organizations, newspapers are channels through which the Communist Parties can and must influence the workers, through which they can and must win the workers. One must know how to utilize the newspapers, how to run them properly.
The legal daily Communist press in many countries is not distinguished for popularity of style, the topical character of subjects discussed, or brevity of articles. The newspapers are filled with thesis-like articles instead of popular and brief expositions of the most important vital tasks. If the active members of the Party, the members of the Party generally, and the revolutionary workers do not get material for the fight against the Social-Democratic Parties, the reformists, the National-Socialists and other Parties, which still have a working class following, the responsibility for this must rest upon the press.
The Party press must not only indicate the line and give facts proving the treachery of the Social-Democrats and reformists and exposing the demagogy of the National-Fascists, but it must also explain how these facts should be utilized. Most of the Party newspapers contain no news from the factories. The Party press has no room for such things.
Not all the Communist Parties have yet learned to appreciate the importance of the Party press. Teachers at International Communist Party schools must give the Party press special attention in their work with the students. Many of the students graduating from the International Party schools become editors.
We have not observed that they are bringing fresh blood into and helping to revive the Party press; that they are breaking down the Social-Democratic traditions in this field.
Why correct methods of agitation are key in showing workers the role of misleaders and in building the party's base
The capitalist world is at present experiencing a profound industrial crisis, an agrarian crisis, financial upheavals, an imperialist war in the Far East, which threatens to spread to the other countries. All this not only affects the workers and poor peasants, but also the urban petty bourgeoisie (office employees, Government officials, etc.).
These masses are much more open to Communist agitation under present conditions, when capitalist stabilization has come to an end, than was the case during the period of capitalist "prosperity." Unfortunately, the agitation the Communist Parties carry on in their newspapers, leaflets and oral agitation is too abstract. It seems to be based on the assumption that all the workers know as much as those who write in the papers, who write the leaflets and speak at meetings.
When an emergency decree is published in Germany which stings every worker to the quick, which cuts the wages or increases taxes, etc., instead of examining the decree point by point, instead of showing how much the workers will have to pay in taxes, to what extent wages are to be cut, so that the masses can understand it all, instead of this, they simply write: We are opposed to the emergency decree! We demand a strike against this decree!
How did the Bolsheviks carry on agitation in the past and how do they do so at the present time? Did they do it in the way some of our Parties are doing it now? The strength of the Bolsheviks was due to the fact that they took up every question: be it a matter of a wage cut of even a kopek, of absence of lavatories, broken windows in the factories, hot water, fines, the quality of the provisions sold in the factory store, etc., etc., and argued about them this way and that until the workers themselves drew logical political conclusions from them.
Take the strikes which occurred in 1903 in the South of Russia. The Bolsheviks succeeded in developing this economic strike movement which was initiated in Odessa by Shayevich and Co., the agents of Zubatov, Chief of the Moscow Secret Police [the Czar's secret police put spies into many organizations, and sometimes set off strikes to catch workers who responded], into a colossal political movement which affected the entire South. Many of the Communist Parties have not yet learned to agitate effectively, while the leading comrades acting as editors. agitators. etc.. think that since they understand what is taking place it must be more or less clear to the workers as well. And this is the way they approach the Social-Democratic workers.
Instead of taking every little fact of treachery-where it happened, when it happened, naming the witnesses, citing the exact records, relating just how and when the Social-Democratic and reformist leaders negotiated with the government and the employers and betrayed the interests of the working class, instead of painstakingly explaining this to the Social-Democratic, reformist and non-Party workers, our comrades keep repeating: "Social-Fascists and trade union bureaucrats," and that is all. And they think that having said "Social Fascists" and "trade union bureaucrats," all the workers must understand just what is meant by these terms of abuse and believe that the Social-Democratic and reformist leaders deserved them.
This only has the effect of repelling the honest workers who belong to the Social-Democratic Parties and the reformist trade unions, since they do not regard themselves either as Social Fascists or trade union bureaucrats. It should be quite clear, therefore, that methods of carrying on agitation must occupy a prominent place in the curriculum of International Communist Party schools.
Read Lenin's articles written in 1917. At that time the Bolshevik Party was accused of being in the pay of the German imperialists. One would have thought that the only way to reply to such a charge, to such as insinuation, would be to say to the accusers: "You are scoundrels, rascals, we do not want to talk to you! We do not think it necessary to justify ourselves before you; you may think what you like, but we shall continue our work." This is probably how many Communist Parties would have replied under the circumstances; they would have said that it was below their dignity to refute such mean accusations!
But how did Lenin react to this charge? In the first place he began to explain who Alexinsky [a renegade Social-Democrat who was one of the main accusers] was, and listed all the foul acts by which Alexinsky had distinguished himself in France, that at such and such a meeting in France, this man had been thrown out because he was such a liar and skunk. He [Alexinsky] then returned to Russia. The Central Executive Committee of the Soviets, in which the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries predominated would not receive him until he rehabilitated himself.
Alexinsky began to attack the Bolsheviks in the press and accused them of working for the Germans, for money, in July, 1917. Lenin exposed this Alexinsky in his true colors, showed what a creature he really was. Having thus exposed the moral character of Alexinsky and destroyed him, Lenin then proceeded to reveal the part the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries played in this dirty campaign. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries knew that the Bolsheviks were being falsely accused of espionage. Tseretelli, the Menshevik leader, even telephoned to all the newspapers informing them that Alexinsky's document was a forgery and asking them not to publish it.
Lenin then quoted a third fact. The slanderous document was known to the Provisional Government as early as June, yet it did not arrest any of those who were accused of being in the pay of the Germans. Hence, it was evident that the Provisional Government did not believe in this calumny against the Bolsheviks. Lenin analyzed all these facts, dissected them in a popular style and then put the question: Who was at the head of the Government? Kerensky? No. The Central Executive Committee? No. It is the military. It was the military who wreaked our printing office! Who ordered it to be wrecked? Was it the Provisional Government? No. Was it the C.E.C. [Central Executive Committee of the Soviets]? No. There is another power, that power is the military, and it was they who wrecked our printing shop. And do you know who stands behind the military? The Cadets [the bourgeois Constitutional Democratic Party].
A day later, in another article, quoting the speech of the National-Socialist, Tchaikovsky, at the C.E.C., Lenin showed that the Cadets and the Western imperialists had common aims, that the imperialists were willing to provide money only if the Cadets came into power. Lenin began with Alexinsky but ended with the question of who was to be in power, with the question of the class character of the State.
He did not merely hurl abuse, he did not say that it was beneath our dignity to refute the mean charges, but he proved that they were insinuations and lies which were first circulated by a yellow sheet; and then taken up and trumpeted through the country by the entire bourgeois, Menshevik, Narodniki and Socialist-Revolutionary press.
By carrying on agitation in this simple manner, intelligible to the masses of the workers, the Bolsheviks succeeded not only in repelling the attack of the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionists and Cadets at a time when the situation was very acute for the Bolsheviks, but they succeeded in developing wide agitation during the next three months against all the Parties of that time, particularly against the Mensheviks and the Social-Revolutionists who still exercised some influence over the workers, peasants and soldiers.
In this campaign the Bolsheviks utilized against these Parties, all their acts and deception on all questions that came to the front at that time You must remember that in the period before the October Revolution, in 1917, millions of workers, soldiers and peasants had been drawn into the movement. Just before the October Days the Bolsheviks had already won the support of the entire working class and the majority of the soldiers, while the peasantry also supported the Bolshevik slogans for land and peace.
Is this the way the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries are carrying on their agitation? The Social-Democrats have committed so many acts of treachery against the working class that one easily understands the perplexity of the workers of the Soviet Union who frequently ask: what stuff are the foreign workers made of? The Social-Democrats betray their interests daily, we can see from here that they are being betrayed, yet these foreign workers continue to vote for the Social-Democrats and remain in their Party.
The reason why the Social-Democrats are still able to get the support of the workers is that many Communist Parties do not know how to carry on agitation even in the extremely favorable situation which has been created by the present world industrial and agrarian crisis. The Communist Parties must present their criticisms in a detailed and painstaking manner particularly because the Social-Democratic leaders, despite their innumerable acts of treachery, still manage to find new forms for their demagogic maneuvers.
The German Social-Democrats have helped to carry out the emergency decrees with all their might and rob the unemployed as well as the workers who are still employed. Now, they are introducing a series of demagogic bills in the Reichstag-to reduce unemployment, to increase unemployment benefits, to reduce rents, etc.- and, at the same time, by voting against the Communists with whom after the withdrawal of the National-Socialists, they have a majority in Reichstag, get the Reichstag dissolved indefinitely, without any date being fixed for its re<; assembly, without any discussion of their bills and, of course, without a discussion of the proposals of the Communist fraction. Under these conditions it is the duty of the Communist Parties to catch the Social-Democratic swindlers "red- handed" as it were, to expose every one of their maneuvers, every step in their treachery with facts and proof.
Both before and after the capture of power, the Bolshevik Party managed to educate its members, to give them such instructions, such directives, as enabled all the members of the Party to work towards one aim; no matter where they were, no matter what functions they performed, all aimed at one point. And yet, often the local Party bodies received their directives only through the press. The Bolshevik Party achieved all this by applying those methods of work which I have described above. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the majority of the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries. There we have frequent cases of Party members aiming at different points.
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
Why Communists need to answer that question, and not just apply yesterday's tactics to today's struggle
Before the October Revolution the Mensheviks ridiculed the Bolsheviks for frequently placing on the agenda of their meetings the question: "The Present Situation." Yet, without making a precise analysis of a given situation and defining its character it is very difficult to determine the tactics to be pursued. The adoption of correct tactics in each given situation, and still more, the correct application of these tactics is a great art. To master this art means to advance the struggle and the task of winning the masses. It is no small art to advance appropriate and timely slogans corresponding to the situation and needs of the moment.
At present hardly anyone will deny the ability of the Bolsheviks to determine the character of the situation, prevailing at any given moment in masterly fashion, to adopt correct tactics and apt slogans to which the great masses would and do respond and rally. Comrade Lenin mocked at those Bolsheviks who clung to the tactics of yesterday and failed to see that they no longer suited the new stage, or changed situation for instance, the proposal made by and Bogdanov to boycott the elections to the Third State Duma in the same way as the Bolsheviks boycotted the First Duma.
It is this ability to define the "present situation" and to adopt correct tactics corresponding to the given situation that the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries often lack (and this despite the fact that the Comintern, unlike the Second International, decides and frequently lays down the tasks and tactical line of its sections).
While some Communist Parties regard the fall of this or that Cabinet as a "political crisis," others have regarded the temporary elimination of Parliament from the discussion of current questions as the establishment of a Fascist dictatorship and have deduced from it the necessity of proclaiming as the main slogan the struggle against Fascism, and therefore, of diminishing the struggle against the Social-Democratic Parties.
When the mistake is rectified the struggle begins to be conducted against Social-Democracy alone and the Fascists are lost sight of. Very frequently the slogans advanced are absurd: sometimes they apply to domestic questions alone, sometimes they are directed against war, without, however, being organically connected with the questions of domestic policy. Unfortunately we have had absurd slogans not only in the field of "high" politics but also in the economic struggle where they are no less harmful. It is necessary to study the peculiarities of the developing situation very carefully and attentively, to watch its changes and tendencies, to study how the workers react to events, how the enemies, the Social-Democrats, the Fascists, etc., are preparing, what they are about to do, what tactics they are adopting.
Only such an analysis and study of the current situation can enable us to adopt correct tactics, correct and timely slogans and to carry on our agitation on proper lines. Questions arising out of the current situation should be frequently and widely discussed in the Party press so that the analysis of the situation, the refutation of the arguments and agitation of the opponents, and the exposure of their plans and deceitful tricks serve to arm, educate and prepare the Party members for the struggle. For the same purpose it is necessary to have frequent discussions on the current situation and the tasks of the Party at Party meetings, meetings of the Party groups, etc.
Such discussions will not only enable the Party members to understand the Party line and tactics, to get their bearings on the burning problems of the day and arm themselves with arguments for discussion and agitation in the factories, among the unemployed, in the trade union branch and street, but will also put more life into the groups and local Party organizations.
TWO VERY DIFFERENT IDEAS
Why forming a united front is not the same thing as accepting the "lesser evil" idea
In recent years the Social-Democratic Parties and the reformist trade union bureaucrats have been making special use of the theory of the "lesser evil." The reformists persuade the workers to agree to a wage cut of 8 per cent instead of the 12 per cent, demanded (not without a preliminary agreement with the reformist leaders) by the employers. Then they proclaim this "gain" of 4 per cent, as a victory for the workers. The Social-Democratic Parties support the most despicable laws, which place a heavy burden of taxation upon the toilers and cut down wages, on the pretext that the Government and the bourgeoisie had intended to tax the workers even more heavily. This too they represent as a victory for the workers.
They propose to vote for Hindenburg whom they attacked in the 1925 elections as a reactionary and a monarchist, by representing Hindenburg to be the "lesser evil" compared with Hitler. The Russian Mensheviks also resorted to the theory of the "lesser evil." Thus, during the elections to the Second State Duma the Mensheviks, on the pretext that Russia was menaced by the Black Hundreds, urged the workers to vote for the Cadet Party. The Bolsheviks then struck the Mensheviks a crushing blow. They convinced the revolutionary electors that they must vote for the revolutionary candidates, by showing that both prior to, during and after the 1905 revolution the Mensheviks supported the liberal bourgeoisie just as the Social-Democratic Parties are now supporting the bourgeoisie in their respective countries on every question. The Mensheviks opposed the hegemony of the proletariat in the bourgeois democratic revolution. Hence, their cries about the Black Hundred danger was only a ruse designed to divert the working class from the correct revolutionary path.
The Communist Parties have not yet succeeded in exposing the maneuver of the Social-Democratic Parties on the "lesser evil," by the methods with which the Bolsheviks exposed the Menshevik maneuver on the Black Hundred danger. And as long as this false maneuver of the Social-Democratic Parties remains unexposed to the masses, it will be difficult to free the workers from their influence. Among the vast masses of the workers there is a desire for unity.
There have been many cases in different countries when the crafty agents of the bourgeoisie resorted to the unity slogan to dupe the workers. The Social-Democrats too sometimes put forward the slogan of unity. And in this the renegade Trotsky hastens to their aid with his proposal for a "bloc" between the Communists and Social Democrats. In support of his proposal he argues that the Bolsheviks and Comrade Lenin adopted the same tactics. I have tried to show above how the Bolsheviks established the united front from below in the factories and mills.
Cases have occurred in the history of Bolshevism when the united front policy was applied simultaneously from below and above; but these cases occurred only in the midst of actual struggle. Such cases occurred in 1905 during the strikes, demonstrations, pogroms, uprisings (in Moscow) for the duration of the action. So-called contact and federative committees were set up for the duration of the joint action. The united front which sprung up from below in the course of the practical, united struggle, compelled the Menshevik leaders to join the struggle which the Bolsheviks led. Joint manifestos were issued.
What was the situation during the Kornilov days in 1917, by reference to which the renegade Trotsky attempts to mislead the Communists? At the end of August, 1917, Kerensky, not without the knowledge of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, invited Kornilov to march loyal troops on Petrograd to strangle Bolshevik Petrograd. Kornilov came. But before reaching Petrograd he demanded that practically all power be transferred to him. The workers and soldiers who followed the lead of the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionists realized that if Kornilov came into power he would not only hang the Bolsheviks but them also.
Under pressure of the masses the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries were compelled to join the struggle which was already proceeding under the leadership of the Bolsheviks. They were obliged to distribute arms to the workers of Petrograd for this struggle. This was a "bloc " only for the duration of the struggle against Kornilov. But even during the struggle against Kornilov, the Bolsheviks did not the campaign against the Mensheviks, the Socialist-Revolutionists and the Provisional Government, who, by their betrayal of the interests of the workers, soldiers and peasants, reduced the country to the Kornilov affair and wavered between supporting Kornilov and fighting against him. Can there be any comparison between this and the situation in Germany?
How is it possible to deduce from the Kornilov events the necessity of establishing a "bloc" with the German Social Democrats, say, for the struggle against Fascism, when the Social-Democrats are doing nothing but helping the fascists and the bourgeoisie: the Social-Democratic Minister of the Police in Prussia dissolved the Red Front League because the latter fought against the Fascists, but at the same time he not only tolerated but protected the Fascist Shock Troops, while the Social-Democratic police always side with the Fascists and attack the workers whenever they resist the Fascists.
The Communists will not be deceived by the fact that Hindenburg, on the eve of the Prussian elections "dissolved" the Fascist Shock Troops. Officially these Fascist Shock Troops were declared dissolved, but their organization was not destroyed, in fact no real damage was done them. The object of this maneuver was to provide the Social-Democrats with the pretext for claiming that a fight was being waged against the Fascists and thus dupe the workers and win them over to their side.
Practically every Communist Party has made numerous mistakes in the application of the united front tactics. It must be said, however, that there have already been cases of a correct application of the united front tactics. One example of this is provided by the miners' struggle in Northern Bohemia which was led by the Communist Party and red trade unions of Czechoslovakia. It is necessary to avoid mistakes and secure the correct and energetic establishment of a Bolshevik united fighting front in the factories and mills from below at all costs.
LEGAL AND ILLEGAL WORK
Why no party can ignore illegal work, and why no party can afford to skip legal work
The Bolshevik Party in Czarist Russia, although a completely illegal Party, yet managed to utilize legal possibilities to the utmost extent.
Beginning with 1905 legal weeklies and magazines of a more solid nature were published in various parts of vast Russia, even in the years of blackest reaction. These were in addition to Pravda, the daily organ of the Bolshevik Party, which played such a tremendous role in the consolidation of the Bolshevik Party for the struggle against Czarism, the bourgeoisie, and the Mensheviks, the Liquidators, the Trotskyists, the Conciliators, etc.
ln addition to the legal press, illegal Party newspapers and leaflets were, of course, published. The illegal Bolshevik Party utilized all legal congresses of public organizations, of doctors, cooperators, teachers, etc., in order to speak on the lines of the Bolshevik program of demands. It worked in all the legal workers' societies, trade unions, cooperatives, recreation societies and other organizations. Moreover, the Bolshevik Party utilized the labor organizations formed by the Chief of Police, Zubatov, and the priest, Father Gapon, during the period preceding 1905, to free the workers from the influence of the police agents and these police traps. It succeeded in exposing the machinations of the police at the meetings of these very organizations.
How successful the work of the Bolsheviks was may be seen in the fact that the police priest, Gapon, was compelled to include the most important demands of the minimum program of the Bolshevik Party, by the pressure of the masses, in his program, to avoid being exposed as an agent of the police.
It must be said that not only have the illegal Communist Parties failed to utilize the legal possibilities, but, what is more surprising, even the legal Communist Parties have not succeeded in successfully employing the underground methods of work, though they have far greater opportunities for doing so than the illegal Communist Parties.
When the legal Communist Press is temporarily suspended or when the authorities forbid them to write about the emergency decrees which are aimed against the working class (and have been coming thick and fast lately) or the shooting of demonstrators, etc., the legal Parties have failed to pour a stream of illegal newspapers and leaflets into the factories on the topics which the legal papers are prohibited from dealing with.
The same may be observed with regard to the prohibition of meetings and demonstrations. To call meetings ostensibly for other purposes, sudden demonstrations, in the working-class districts, despite the injunctions, is not only possible but necessary after careful preparations have been made.
The authorities and the police close down newspapers for various periods, prohibit labor meetings and demonstrations at the most critical moments. The Communist Party is therefore not only vitally interested in telling the workers what the authorities seek to hide from them, but in getting the workers to protest under the leadership of the Communist Party.
Only in this way can the Communist Parties win the masses and become their leaders. In the absence of good cells in the factories it will be much more difficult to work and maintain connections with the masses when the legal Communist Parties are driven underground.
URGENT TASKS FOR REDS
preparing to maintain the Party's work
as conditions worsen
What is the main point that should be emphasized in the course of studies at the Communist Party Schools? Work in the factories at all costs. Unless work is carried on in the factories it will be impossible to win the majority of the working class, and that means impossible to fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat successfully. That is the first point. But work in the factories assumes exceptional importance in view of the approaching imperialist war, which will mean, in the first place, the break-up of the legal revolutionary labor movement, of the legal Communist organizations and red trade unions.
Under such conditions work in the factories becomes more important than ever, and almost the only means of maintaining contacts with the masses of the factory workers, of influencing them and guiding their actions. Moreover, in time of war, nearly all factories are transferred to the production of munitions and the manufacture of supplies for the imperialist armies of the home country or of other countries; consequently, the fight against war must, more than ever, be carried on in the factory.
Work in the factories is a difficult matter. At the present time, when unemployment is rife, all the revolutionary workers are being discharged. Our task is to penetrate the factories and mills' at all costs, by all means, if necessary under another flag; it makes no difference how, but we must penetrate the factories to carry on Communist work in them.
Wide and popular agitation must be carried on of the kind that the Bolsheviks carried on in the old days, and from February to October, 1917. The Communist Parties in the principal capitalist countries are still legal. They have their own Press, they can call meetings. But the work of agitation must assume a different character; it must be developed in the factories, at the factory gates, at the tram stops, near the subway stations, wherever the workers and office employees work and congregate. You must train a body of active people who know how to speak briefly and clearly, supply them with information and instructions, and send them into the street, into the factories and mills as agitators.
Is this possible? It certainly is possible. The students who return to work should know this, should know how to do this themselves and how to organize this work.
Preparing for strikes includes preparing for political leadership of the strike as well as economic demands
How should strikes be prepared? How should they be conducted, what demands should be advanced? These are not easy questions. They present very many difficulties to the majority of the Communist Parties, red trade unions and trade union oppositions. Up to very recently many of the Communist Parties advanced maximum program demands only and did not trouble to issue everyday demands.
Now they seem to be saying: Let us advance only everyday demands without connection with the high politics and the maximum program, for when we advanced political points the workers did not listen to us, did not follow us, and the work was done badly.
We know from experience that the Bolsheviks always connected politics with economics and economics with politics. I know of cases in 1905 when in starting a political strike the Bolsheviks advanced economic demands and vice versa.
To prepare strikes well is a difficult task. There was an enormous difference between the Social-Democratic reformists and the Bolsheviks both in the aims they pursued in strikes as well as in the organization and conduct of strikes. The Bolsheviks collected information on the conditions of the workers in the factories; they conducted activities among the individual workers in order to explain the situation to them. When the preparatory work was finished, after the cell had discussed all the details of the strike with the revolutionary non-party activists, the strike would be declared, the demands issued, a strike committee would be elected which called the workers together and put the questions connected with the strike to them.
If the strike committee and the revolutionary activists were arrested a new committee would be formed in the same way. There were no collective agreements [union contracts] then. If strikes broke out unexpectedly-owing to a worsening of labor conditions, accidents, the absence of safety screens around the machine, etc.-the Bolsheviks of the given factory placed themselves in the leadership of the movement, formulated demands, etc.
Thus, strikes were prepared from below, in the factories, and in those cases when strikes spread from factory to factory, or from city to city, this did not always occur spontaneously. The party organizations in the city, district and the factory cells discussed methods for broadening the movement, etc. The Bolsheviks, in conducting strikes, pursued two objectives: firstly, an improvement of the material and cultural standards of the workers, and secondly, the broader objective of drawing the largest possible number of workers into the general proletarian struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
As soon as trade unions were formed, the Social-Democrats and the reformists introduced such centralization in the matter of strikes that the trade union members in the factories could not go on strike without the sanction of their trade union. Whenever they went on strike without such sanction and the Union Executive (or chairman) refused to approve the strike, it would be declared to be "unofficial" and the strikers refused material assistance. When they did sanction a strike they took the leadership into their own hands and the strikers had nothing to do except perhaps send pickets to the place of the strike if this was required.
When the reformist trade unions grew strong, they began to conclude long-term collective agreements with the employers' associations and strikes rarely occurred during the period the collective agreement remained in force. Strikes, sometimes big strikes, took place whenever a new collective agreement had to be negotiated. In such cases the strikes were led by the Central Committee of the unions. At best the strikers acted as pickets. The reformist trade unions were guided in the conduct of the economic struggle (before the war they conducted strikes) only by the desire to improve the material and cultural standards of the working class, completely neglecting the struggle against the capitalist system as a whole.
The Communist Parties, in leading relatively small red trade unions which are almost invariably dual unions [unions that try to organize the same workers in the same jobs as another union] or trade union oppositions within the reformist trade unions, in most cases adopted not the Bolshevik but the Social-Democratic, reformist method of preparing strikes, the method of preparing them in their offices, without always knowing the sentiments of the workers. For that reason, to this day the workers frequently fail to respond to the strikes called by the red trade unions and trade union oppositions, sometimes workers come out on strike from factories that were not expected to come out on strike.
In the International Party Schools the students must also learn how to prepare, conduct and lead strikes?
STRUGGLE AGAINST SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC MISLEADERS
Communist Parties must fight to free workers from reformist fakers' control
The Social-Democrats and the reformists must be exposed, they should be shown up for what they say and actually do. This must be done day in and day out, in every article of the party press, in leaflets and in oral agitation.
It is necessary to watch the Social-Democratic and reformist press and react immediately to their agitation and leaflets in reply to them. It is necessary to react in a popular and intelligible manner. Every article, every speech written and uttered by the Social-Democrats and reformists can furnish the Communist agitators and propagandists with material for their speeches against the Social-Democrats and Reformists. Only in this way can we expose Social-Democracy; without this it will be hardly possible to expose them. In exposing the Social-Democrats and the reformists you must not overlook the other parties and organizations which exercise or seek to gain influence over the working class (the Catholics, National-Socialists, etc.).
The Social-Democratic Parties in the different countries apply various methods in performing their role as the chief social bulwark of the bourgeoisie. In England, until the last elections, the Labor Party openly played its part while in the Government. As soon as it saw that the masses of the workers were turning away in disgust from its policy, that it was endangered from this side, it sacrificed its leaders and went into "opposition."
In France, the Socialist Party has not participated in the Government since the war. Sometimes, on the eve of an election, it even votes against this or that Bill in Parliament when it is certain that the Government is assured of a majority without the Socialist votes. In reality the French Socialist Party is a most devoted servant and pillar of bellicose French imperialism. It is hardly necessary to speak about the German Social-Democrats at all. They are past masters in the art of deceiving the masses and the most cunning Party in the Second International in maneuvering.
The Communist Parties, like the Bolsheviks in Czarist Russia, must anticipate the maneuvers of the Social-Democrats and warn the masses against them. They must expose them whenever they succeed in their maneuvers, deceiving the workers and toilers.
The Communist Parties, the red trade unions and all the mass revolutionary organizations, must tirelessly expose the Social Democrats and the reformists, for unless the workers are freed from their influence the Communist Parties cannot win the majority of the working class, without which it will be impossible to fight successfully against the bourgeoisie. The Communist Parties must also carry on a vigorous and unrelenting struggle against the National-Socialists, who take advantage of the treachery of the Social-Democrats and reformists as well as of the mistakes and weaknesses of the Communist Parties to extend their influence over the petty bourgeoisie and permeate the unemployed with the aid of their demagogic slogans, frequently even with the aid of Communist slogans.
Communists must fight against unemployment and organized among the
Unemployment is rife. None but the Communist Party pays any attention to the unemployed. Nevertheless, even when it was possible to organize the unemployed, when it was easy to do this by championing the every-day interests of the unemployed, the Communist Parties failed to take advantage of the situation. They failed to achieve such organization. There are not many Communists in the factories since most of them have been discharged. It is not easy to work in the factory.
But why has the work not been organized among the unemployed, at the labor exchanges, in the lodging houses, in the bread and soup lines? There is an enormous number of members of the Party and of revolutionary trade union organizations among the unemployed; is it difficult to organize the work among these comrades? In Czechoslovakia and Poland the unemployed organizations succeeded in places in mobilizing large masses and brought pressure to bear upon the municipalities, as a result of which, the latter were forced to issue grants to the unemployed.
In America the unemployed receive no aid either from the State, or from the employers, and are forced to depend upon charity. Large numbers of them are being evicted from their homes. During 1930 and 1931, 352,469 families were evicted in New York alone. There is a vast field of activity for the revolutionary and Communist organizations, but they only take advantage of these conditions to a very slight degree. At one moment they set up an exclusive unemployed organization, at another they spend all their time organizing demonstrations and overlook the need for establishing kitchens for the unemployed, for organizing a movement capable of preventing the eviction of the unemployed, demanding and securing benefits for the unemployed, etc., etc.
TO AVOID LAGGING BEHIND
Communist Parties need Bolshevik methods and flexible tactics to move ahead
I have tried to show the difference between the tactics, organization, methods and content of work, and ultimate aims of the Bolsheviks and Social-Democrats, and I have also tried to show the causes of this difference.
We, the workers on the E.C.C.I., sometimes hear arguments to the effect that the old Bolshevik experience does not apply to the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries, especially in regard to methods of work in the factories. The experience of the past few years, however, has refuted this view. Where the Bolshevik methods of work have been applied, and flexible tactics in the factories, they have yielded excellent results.
Does not the intensity of the struggle, the mass character of the labor and peasant movement in Poland and the leading role the Communist Party plays in this struggle, in this movement, reveal the superiority of Bolshevik methods over Social-Democratic ones?
You must remember that the Polish revolutionary proletariat, the former S.D.P. of Poland and Lithuania, now the Communist Party of Poland, in spite of the mistakes it committed, fought shoulder to shoulder with the Bolshevik Party of Russia. They adopted the Bolshevik methods of work; that is why they have not become isolated from the Polish proletariat despite the ruthless fascist terror in the country.
But the Communist Parties, the red trade unions and the trade union opposition in the capitalist countries which have not yet freed themselves from Social-Democratic traditions, have not adopted, are not carrying out, or are carrying out poorly, the Bolshevik methods of work and forms of organization, are not giving the work a Bolshevik content, are lagging behind the revolutionary labor movement, behind the revolutionary events and are unable to consolidate their growing political influence organizationally (for instance, we get four to five million votes and at the same time we fail to organize resistance to the employers' attack on wages).
This backwardness will be inevitable until the Communist Parties, the red trade unions and the trade union opposition discard the Social-Democratic traditions and assimilate and apply the truly Bolshevik experience in every field of their political work and everyday activities.
TRAINING BOLSHEVIK CADRE
The movement needs leaders who can organize and carry out mass work under all kinds of conditions
The question of cadres is assuming tremendous importance for the Communist Parties, red trade unions and trade union opposition, in the present conditions. The International Communist Party Schools therefore play an important part in training revolutionary cadres.
The question of instruction in these Party Schools is of vital importance because the need for theoretically-trained cadres who combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience is very acute in the sections of the Communist International. This need has not diminished in recent years, but, on the contrary it has increased. We have not trained such cadres in sufficient numbers.
The Communist Parties in the capitalist countries can obtain these cadres from the International Communist Party Schools Some of these Party Schools have been in existence for some time now. but the Comintern has not yet received the cadres necessary for Communist work. To be sure, when the students of the International Communist Party Schools return to their Parties upon graduating, they know, perhaps, the most important works of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, quite well, and in some countries they even become Party leaders.
But what the Communist Parties have not yet received from the International Communist Party Schools are comrades capable of applying Marxism and Leninism to the local conditions, capable of organizing and conducting mass work, and this is precisely what the Communist Parties are mainly in need of at the present time.
They have not been getting workers really capable of helping them to rebuild the Parties, the red trade unions and the trade union oppositions on a factory basis.
What are the causes of this? The causes are as follows: the students study Party structure in the Soviet Union; that is those forms of Party structure which cannot be fully applied in their countries at the present time, but only after the capture of power by the proletariat. But they even learn the Party structure of the C.P.S.U. superficially: they do not study the methods of mass work, the mobilization of the masses, the different approach to the different sections of the toilers, mass agitation, forms of organization of mass agitation, the relations between the Communist fractions (especially in the lower mass non-Party organizations) and the respective cells and Party committees, the work of the factory Party cells and of the factory trade union committees, etc., with sufficient attention.
This is the chief point: They do not study and assimilate the experience of the period preceding the capture of the power by the working class, that is the experience of the Bolsheviks in the Czarist days and in the Kerensky days from February to October. It is this experience which our Communist Parties need most. It is this experience which contains elements of similarity with the situation in the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries at the present time.
Of course there are also points of difference. That is why I dealt with the difference between the position of the Bolshevik Party under the Czar, and that of the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries at the present time.
The fact that the Communist Parties do not get the kind of graduates they need from the International Party Schools proves that the instruction given is apparently not conducted with a view to the peculiarities of each individual Party, to its development, traditions and former customs.
The task of the International Communist Party Schools is to assist our Communist Parties to assimilate the experience of the Bolsheviks, both in Party organization as well as in Party work as a whole, in such a way as to enable them to apply this experience to the conditions prevailing in their respective countries. The conditions in the various countries differ. Conditions in Germany differ very much from those in France, they differ very much from those in England and not less from those in the United States. In every country the labor movement has its own peculiar features, history and traditions, its peculiar forms of Party organization and of labor organizations. When you are giving instruction according to groups of countries you must bear this in mind. It should be stated that teachers can obtain the necessary material and facts concerning each country, and the conditions prevailing there, from the students who have taken part in the practical work of their Parties.
The International Communist Party Schools must help the Communist Parties and the revolutionary trade union movement to train genuinely Bolshevik cadres.
Osip Pyatnitsky was born losif Aronovich Tarshis in 1882. Son of a Lithuanian carpenter (b. 1882) Pyatnitsky became a tailor and worked in dressmakers' and tailors' shops while organizing in a tailor's union. He formally joined the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party in 1900, at the age of 18, and, with Lenin, split to form the Bolsheviks in 1903. From 1903 until June 1914 he worked in the illegal Bolshevik underground in Riga, along with other working-class Bolshevik revolutionaries like Stalin. He was arrested in 1914 during the Bolshevik-led general strike movement and was exiled to Siberia. At the time this essay was written (1932) Pyatnitsky was a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU, of the Executive Committee, the Presidium, and the Political Secretariat of the Third Communist Intemational (Comintern).
At the 7th Comintern Congress in 1935 Pyatnitsky and other Comintern leaders who had been `identified with a correct line on "social fascism"-no united front with the social-Democrats or liberal ruling-class forces-were removed from leadership in the Comintern. A few years later, the Comintern was disbanded.
Pyatnitsky was executed during the class struggles in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, reportedly in 1939. Biographies published by the later revisionist leadership of the USSR refuse to discuss the accusations made against him. Probably these revisionists, who rose to prominence in the late 1930s, had something to do with his death. It was probably due to Pyatnitsky's long-standing internationalism, however, since the CPSU turned increasingly toward bourgeois nationalism after 1935. See the PLP document Road to Revolution III, and the article The Seventh Comintern Congress and the United Front Against Fascism, in PL Magazine, Vol. 8, No. 3, Nov. 1971.
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