15th DAY OF THE 7th CONGRESS OF THE CI
27th Session - 9/8/35 (am)
Speaker nº 110 (in French)
Comrade THOREZ, chairman, hands over to comrade RAMZI.
R A M Z I (for the Arab countries):
Comrades, comrade Van Min has completed and developed the report of comrade Dimitrov regarding the united front in colonial and semi-colonial countries. Comrade Van Min has not only layed out, with an exemplary simplicity and modesty, the lessons and the glorious experience of our great Chinese party, but he has at the same time crystallized the experience of all the colonial revolutionary movements. Firmly basing himself on Lenin's and Stalin's teachings, he has also established the future tasks of these movements and presented a long-term programme of action for all communists in the colonies.
We, the delegates of the Arab countries, fully agree with this programme and promise to struggle with a Stalinian will to accomplish it and to show our people, the dozens of millions of Arab workers, the only way to salvation is the path taken by the Chinese revolution (applause).
Moreover, we are in total agreement with comrade Van Min concerning the help that our comrades of the metropolis have to give us, the young communists of the colonies.
With reference to this point I have to underline the support that our great fraternal French party gave us, the Arab communists. We salute and thank our comrades and the whole French revolutionary proletariat for the revolutionary solidarity they have shown towards the Arab national and social liberation movement in general, and towards the communist movement in particular.
We hope that our French comrades will improve the work of their colonial section and that all our comrades of the other metropolis will follow the example of our French comrades.
We hope that you will fulfil the promise of Dimitrov and answer the appeal of Van Min, the appeal of the Chinese revolution.
Now, I am going to try to lay out the problems of the popular front in the Arab countries.
Comrade Stalin, when speaking about the experience of the Chinese revolution, has identified the general law of the development of the colonial revolution. He has stated that this revolution would pass through two preliminary stages: in the first stage, the struggle will be organized against the exterior enemy, global imperialism; and in the second stage, the basis will be the agrarian revolution. This analysis of the glorious struggle of the Chinese people has to be the faithful guide for all colonial communists in the elaboration of their strategy.
Our final goal is the victory of communism. But to reach the higher stage of the direct struggle for socialism, we have to pass victoriously through the other stages. At present we have to develop in the Arab countries the first stage mentioned by comrade Stalin, the stage of struggle against international imperialism, the main enemy, the most hideous and awful for the Arab peoples.
This enemy, powerful and armed to the teeth, always goes further in its offensive and every day strengthens its oppression. If we want to fight it, we have to use the Leninist-Stalinist tactics which consists of mobilizing all potential forces, even the most insignificant, and using all the allied forces, no matter how temporary and uncertain they may be. Without this we will never defeat this enemy.
Nevertheless to achieve this, to assure the victory of this struggle, we communists of the Arab countries need to have a clear conception of the problems linked with the constitution of a very broad popular front that would mobilize against imperialism all the forces and all possible allied forces in the Arab countries. To succeed in this work we have weighty tasks to accomplish.
First, we have to be more active, to show a greater readiness to fight to mobilize the Arab masses in the revolutionary struggle against imperialism.
In Syria, French imperialism intensifies its oppression against the working population. It has transformed the country into a strategic base and great parade ground. It has divided the country into five governments in order to divide the front of the national struggle of the Arab masses. It tries to use national, and particularly Armenian, minorities against the emancipation movement. It opens the doors of the country to Zionist swindlers who have expropriated the lands of the Arab fellahs. It imposes taxes to crush the peasantry and, through its customs ripping-off policy, it paralyses national trade and ruins craft production. By pure violence, it extends and increases the monopoly and the privileges of foreign dealers.
Against this offensive and this brigandage the revolutionary wave is increasing and widening.
The anger of masses brews up and gives cause for frequent violent explosions. Syrian communists must lead this wave, must be the living personification of this anger. They must defend all anti-imperialist claims, no matter who makes them. They must react against every imperialist atrocity, no matter the victim of it, against every manifestation of oppression, no matter how minor it might be. They have to support every movement that in any way tends to weaken imperialism's position.
The masses must see, through their own experience, that we are the defenders of their national and economic interests, no matter how slight or triffling. Every oppressed stratum has to see, feel, and know that we communists are the best sons of the people.
That is the first condition of success.
Secondly, we have to help the Arab proletariat to demonstrate, in practice, to all the oppressed masses, that it is possible to struggle successfully against imperialist oppression in particular and against exploitation in general. In other words, we have to help the working class to assure its hegemony in the Arab national liberation movement.
Let us note that the Arab proletariat, in several countries (Syria, Palestine, Egypt, etc.) has already taken concrete steps in this matter. The combative strikes of millions of workers in Syria, the barricade struggles of Egyptian railwaymen, the strikes by workers in the oil industry in Palestine, etc., have shown the broad masses of oppressed Arabs not only how they have to struggle, but especially that it is possible to fight successfully against imperialism despite its powerful repressive apparatus. They have proven that the Arab proletariat is able to assure its hegemony in the national and agrarian revolution. If this proletariat does not proceed rapidly along this path, or if it does not follow this path until the end in spite of the very favourable objective conditions, we communists of the Arab countries are responsible, because it would prove that we have not helped our class in this task, that we have not fulfilled our vanguard role.
As a consequence, we have to work every day, actively and practically, to organize the Arab proletariat, strengthen its trade union organization and at the same time to consolidate and increase the basis of our communist parties among the broad masses of workers.
In Syria our party, despite serious deficiencies, has the full possibility to expand the trade union movement and to transform it into a powerful mass movement. To fulfil this task we have to ruthlessly defeat the remnants of sectarian ideologies among us that did not want to adapt trade union work to the conditions to which the country is under, i.e., an unfair imperialist terror, and that only wanted workers' organizations entirely under revolutionary influence and free of every national reformist influence. In Syria the workers of the different sectors have the right to belong to only one trade union. And the workers of one sector can belong to only one trade union. While preparing for the formation of new trade unions where they do not exist, we have to adapt ourselves to these conditions and at the same time follow a line that enables these trade unions to include the most backward workers. As far as the existing national reformist and other trade unions are concerned, we have to work methodically inside these trade unions in order to increase their size and to attract the majority of the workers.
It is only in the process of development of the workers' struggle for their everyday and immediate demands that we will be able to fight against national reformist influences and transform these trade unions into class trade unions.
The federation of different trade unions is forbidden in Syria. While struggling to obtain this workers' right, we must actively work for bringing these trade unions together and for the creation of bonds of understanding and solidarity between them, even within the legal framework.
The situation is different in the other Arab countries. Nevertheless the trade union policy broadly speaking must be the same. In Iraq, for example, all trade unions were broken up
because the existing trade union federation took the initiative to launch a popular boycott movement against the concessionary society of electricity.
Our young Iraqi party has to undertake a relentless effort in order to re-establish the trade unions within a legal framework, while trying to choose the forms of action that would not threaten the existence of these trade unions.
In Palestine and in Egypt the creation of a broad united trade union movement is legally possible.
The existing scission is due to the struggle between the different strata of the national bourgeoisie. Each stratum tries to have a workers' movement under submission to its influence and to the particular interests of its policy. Our comrades in these countries must fight for the unity of these different movements while avoiding the sectarian and easy path which consists of exhorting the workers to leave all these trade unions and to create a new trade union movement. On the contrary, they have to work within the existing trade unions. In brief, our trade union movement must not only be a movement of the advanced workers, but must also represent the broad masses, embracing the most backward strata of workers. When the working class represents a well-organized force, a strong and solid proletarian core will be created for the anti-imperialist popular front.
That is the second condition of success.
Thirdly, we have to find concrete forms of organization and struggle to enhance the ability of the large masses of peasants in the arena of the revolutionary anti-imperialist fight.
The peasantry in the Arab countries is an important driving force and the decisive ally of proletariat in the revolutionary struggle.
That is the reason why a correct position on the agrarian question is vital for the revolutionary proletariat. It is certain that the agrarian revolution and the confiscation of feudal lands are the major tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution Arab countries must face. But it is indisputable, the actions of the peasantry show it very clearly, that national hatred against the foreign oppressive yoke and its agents now urges the Arab peasant to concentrate his anger primarily on imperialist domination. In Syria, imperialist oppression, crushing taxes and debts to imperialist banks, the inhuman dictatorship of French officers and of the repressive Circassian and Armenian detachments, the expropriaton of land in the interest of Armenian and Assyrian colonies, the threat of Zionist immigration: all this weighs heavily on Syrian peasants and is making them very accessible to the anti-imperialist struggle. This does not exclude the fact that in certain regions where feudal exploitation is the most fierce, the anti-imperialist struggle is parallel to the revolt against feudal arbitrary rule. Some comrades, in particular among the ancient fighters against the Arabization line, who forget this essential fact, fall into a Trotskyist-defeatist ideology. They judge the level of revolutionary possibilities among the peasants only according to their attitude towards the watchword of feudal lands' confiscation the confiscation of feudal lands, are desperate and consider work in the villages as premature thus they surrender to desperation and form an opinion about work in the villages prematurely or fall into a very dangerous sectarian deviation, willing to force the course, take short cuts in to skip the stage of the anti-imperialist struggle and make it necessarily coincide with the agrarian revolution.
In spite of the love the peasant has for the land, these comrades forget that he does not yet have sufficient confidence in his forces, is not yet convinced of the possibility of conquering the
land, is not yet ready to reject the religious and the patriarchal traditions that place him in submission to his native oppressors and prevent him from taking the offensive against the property of others. They forget that it is in the process of struggle against the most awful, the most detestable enemy, imperialism, that it is possible to educate the peasant, to increase the level of his revolutionary conscience and to bring him to the agrarian revolution.
As a consequence of these considerations, we are mindful of the dangerous sectarianism of those who want as a preliminary condition for common action or an alliance with revolutionary and nationalist elements, that they acknowledge the agrarian revolution at the very beginning.
Moreover, the great mass of Bedouins and nomads is a very important force in the anti-imperialist struggle. The particular structure of Bedouin tribes, the domiance of strong patriarchal relations, linking the masses with their sheiks, give to crisis, scarcity, to the burden of imperialist officers' dictatorship and to crushing taxes a very special effect. The high chiefs largely corrupted by imperialism are tieing themselves more and more to it, but a great number of little chiefs are directly paid by the mass of their tribe. They suffer more or less the effects of the ruin of this mass and the despotism of the big chief. That is why they often rise up against imperialism and express the spirit of rebellion of the Bedouin masses. It follows from this that the task of the communist parties of the Arab countries is to find forms of alliance between proletariat and these masses, against imperialism, its offensive and its agents, by trying to use little chiefs for this purpose.
That is the third condition of success.
Fourthly, a correct attitude towards the elements and the
strata usually called national-revolutionary, which include non-manual workers and the urban petite bourgeoisie, is very important. Not only because this strata represents an anti-imperialist force on a large scale, but also because in the Arab countries they form a very ramified canal among the broad masses and an extremely powerful intermediary in the diffusion of the influence to which they can be subjected.
These elements can be either the most dangerous disrupters of the activity of masses or a very efficient means for the mobilization of the masses, depending on whether they are under the influence of the bourgeoisie or under the influence of the revolutionary proletariat. It is the task of the CP to place them under revolutionary influence. Therefore, the demands and the state of mind of the petite bourgeoisie, the small businessmen and craftsmen, ruined by imperialism, and particularly by its customs policy, crushing them by foreign competition, have to be taken into account. These ordinarily disperse strata are at the present time showing, in Syria, a great deal activity and a strong tendency toward organization; they are driven to that, less by their confidence in their own forces than by their hope for help from the outside. This expresses itself first in the creation of closed sects or organizations that have putschist or terrorist purposes. The growth of the strike movement of the proletariat, the activity of the CP, and in particular the extraordinary growth of the Soviet Union, bring them closer to the communists. At the same time, the fuss made by bourgeois papers about Hitlerism induces these elements to fall into the trap of Hitlerian agents who promise them weapons and financial support. These groups, very widespread recently in the country, represent a very strange mosaic of tendencies.
They call themselves "fascist" and imitate Hitlerian manners, but at the same time declare themselves against Hitler, imperialist France and the USSR. Others strike up with Hitlerians, but they also have such great confidence in the Syrian CP that they open to it all their "plans" and connections.
We have to help these elements to organize themselves while combatting their terrorist or putschist tendencies. Some comrades are repulsed from carrying out this task, fearing they will create a rival to the party in winning over the masses. Those comrades forget that this is precisely because the revolutionary proletariat did not manage to submit them to its influence that those elements rush to all these terrorist or putschist adventures that can be used by Hitlerians. They do not notice that their dispersion contributes to their subordination to the influence of the bourgeoisie that they serve. We have to attract national revolutionary groups and elements to the anti-imperialist popular front.
That is the fourth condition of success.
Fifthly, the national-reformist bourgeoisie in Syria after the insurrection of 1925-27 will concentrate on the claims demands of a "democratic constitutional" regime that would assure it a more or less important participation in power and a certain freedom of action for national capital. For this purpose, it tried to redirect the anti-imperialist movement towards the struggle for parlementarism and the conclusion of a French-Syrian treaty.
This does not mean, as some comrades think, that national reformism has already become a simple imperialist move or that the development of the bourgeoisie is a process of capitulation from start to finish. Contradictions on the economical and social terrain between the national-reformist bourgeoisie and imperialism, although not antagonist, are far from disappearing or decreasing untill its disappearance. Such an erroneous point of
view drives some of us to require as one of the essential conditions of the development of the revolutionary movement and its transition to decisive fights, the total disappearance of the national-reformist influence on the masses. Those comrades do not notice that only revolution the development of the revolution can eliminate this influence.
The development of the national bourgeoisie in Syria, for example, is characterized by some particular features that give it great possibilities to manoeuvre and urge it to present its demands, even of minor significance, for the cause of the true national independence, but which represent some popular interests: such as the demand for the unity of Syria, the change of imperialist customs policy, the protest against imperialist companies (like Martel's companies), against imperialist monopolies, protests against taxes, etc.
The tasks of Syrian communists is to support these demands and create popular movements for their achievement and extension.
As Lenin said, we have to "use the antagonistic interests that can appear, even for a moment, in the enemies' camps" in order to bring the broad masses and the sluggish strata to political life, into the arena of the revolutionary struggle. Lenin said in the 'Left-wing Communism', an Infantile Disorder: "Since 1905 the Bolsheviks have systematically advocated the alliance between the working class and the peasant class, without never refusing to support the bourgeoisie against tsarism (for example at the second stage of the elections or in the second ballots) while persisting to lead an uncompromising doctrinal ideological and political struggle against the bourgeois revolutionary peasant party, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, that they denounced as petty-bourgeois democrats glued to socialism."
And we, the communists of the Arab countries, can never refuse to support the demands of the bourgeoisie, even the most minor, against imperialism.
As a consequence, in Syria, for example, the communist party has to consider the possibility of reaching an understanding and an agreement with the different parties of the national-reformist bourgeoisie, with Koutla-Watania, the party of the big bourgeoisie and the liberal property owners, and particularly with its left wing, the Hanano's group, and with the national Action League, the party of the great intellectuals, small property owners and industrialists. Those parties, beside the influence they exercise on the masses, are surrounded by intellectual elements and workers active in the popular fight and exercing strong pressure on their chiefs.
Nevertheless we must be aware of the eventuality of the transition from the national-reformist bourgeoisie to power exercised on the basis of a more or less stable agreement with imperialism. It is a possible event and even frequent in all the Arab countries. It occurred in the past in Egypt and Syria, during a fairly short period.
In such cases we have committed major errors which must teach us a lesson for the future. We had thought that once the bourgeoisie came to power it would have definitively passed into the imperialist camp and would be unmasked in front of the masses. This was a profound error because it often happened that the bourgeoisie was quickly ejected from power and entered into the camp of opposition to imperialism. This proved that contradictions continued between this bourgeoisie and imperialism even if the latter had passed power to the other. In such cases our task does not consist of condemning every measure that the bourgeoisie will take once it comes to power. It can happen that it enacts
progressive measures, and perhaps only very minor ones, but which are in the interests of the masses and opposed to imperialism. We must support those measures. If we do not, we can not show the broad masses that we are the defenders of their interests, even the minor ones. Moreover, we have to mobilize the broad masses to demand of the bourgeoisie in the power to achieve the measures it had promised earlier. This would help us to fight in practice to fight against the illusions of the masses on the use of methods of conciliation with imperialism, advocated by the national-reformist bourgeoisie.
That is the fifth condition of success.
Sixthly, we must unify the anti-imperialist struggle in all the Arab countries, a task mentioned by comrade Van Min. This is an essential condition without which it is impossible to win a decisive victory against imperialism. The Arab countries, where more than 60 million inhabitants are living, are artificially divided into more than twelve territories, dominated by English, French or Italian imperialists. They are: Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Transjordan, Egypt, Tripolitan, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, etc. Some of these territories are in turn divided into smaller parcels. There are, for example, five governments in Syria, each having its special administrative apparatus and its borders, etc., in spite of their national bonds, common traditions, linguistic unity, common history, and finally, the geographical position of these countries, that closely unite them.
It is true that this division always made it easier for the different imperialist oppressors to defeat the insurrections and uprising of the Arab masses in the various countries. For example insurrections in Syria (1925), Palestine (1929), Iraq (1935), Morocco (1924), etc.
But it is nonetheless true that the Arab peoples have often had an active mutual national solidarity and have always expressed their hatred against partitioning their contry.
As a consequence, we must oppose the current division, in the unity of struggle and solidarity of all the Arab people, against the imperialist oppressor, for the complete liberation of all Arab countries, for the union of independent democratic and popular Arab republics.
It ensues (follows) that it is necessary to coordinate the activities of the communist parties of the Arab countries, particularly in the field of the anti-imperialist struggle. Arab communists, while working for the creation of the popular front in each of these countries, must at the same time unite their efforts to extend this on a Pan-Arab scale. It will help to extend the influence of the revolutionary proletariat of advanced Arab countries to other backward countries or those having a weak communist movement.
That is the sixth condition of success.
This is the way we consider problems linked to the creation of the anti-imperialist popular front in the light of the speech of our comrade Dimitrov.
How is the realization of this front put into practice in Syria? We believe that in our country the platform of this front will include the following main points:
1.) The complete independence and unity of Syria within the union of independent popular Arab governments.
2.) Fight against the dictatorship of the French and foreign military, their agents and civil servants. For the dissolution of Circassian and Armenian detachments of represssion.
3.) Against the imperialist war, for the defence of Abyssinia.
4.) Amnesty for all prisoners and deportees of the 1925-1927 insurrection and all other political prisoners.
5.) Against the reduction of wages and the extension of the working day.
6.) Against taxes crushing the population and especially the peasants. Against the confiscation of crops and movable property for taxes and debt payment to imperialist banks and usurers. To give to the peasants, free of charge, the land of government "amiriés", and return to them the land expropriated by imperialist banks and usurers.
7.) Against Zionist immigration and the constitution of Armenian and Assyrian colonies' in Syria.
8.) For the freedom of trade unions, the press, speech and association; against administrative suspension of newpapers. For the cancellation of the law of crime prevention and all imperialist decrees of terror.
9.) Against the imperialist customs policy destroying the economy of the country and its trade and ruining craftsmen
We see that in this platform some claims are common to all the Arab countries. It is this community that must serve as a basis for the future creation of the anti-imperialist popular front on a Pan-Arab scale. Such a bloc in Syria has to be very large, popular and accessible to workers, peasants, intellectuals and the petite-bourgeoisie, but also to revolutionary national groups and national-reformist organizations. It can take the form of a "National Union" that can be initiated by prominent personalities in the national movement and supported by a large popular movement, groups of workers, peasants, intellectuals, small traders and even national-reformist elements.
It is clear that in the situation of the Arab countries the principal form of the application of the tactic of the united front
is the creation of popular organizations, without parties and legal bodies (committees, delegations, different groups, etc.) that would, of course, principally express the immediate economic demands of the masses. The success of the work for the anti-imperialist popular bloc is linked with the success in the creation of such organizations, everywhere in the factories, towns and villages, according to the state of mind (level of consciousness) and the specific immediate demands that can be supported by the different social strata.
At the same time, is obviously appearing the task to conclude understanding pacts with legal and semi-legal national revolutionary organizations and to organize directly or through the popular bloc or local organizations of this bloc common actions with national reformist parties, the KOUTLA, the national Action League and Bedouins' chiefs.
This successful work in Syria must have its bearings to effect the movement in the other Arab countries. The Syrian Popular Front should support and encourage the anti-imperialist actions of other countries, including those launched by national reformists.
Comrades, the essential and principal condition to bring this huge task to the end is the Party.
Comrade Dimitrov has said that the proletariat's united front has to be the basis for the popular front. He also said that the driving force of the united front, and its soul, is the Communist Party.
This is true, not only for our fraternal parties of the imperialist metropolis, but also, and perhaps more particularly, for us, colonial communists. Syria and all the Arab countries are in front of a bourgeois-democratic revolution to where there will be led millions of the most heterogeneous masses. These masses will enter the whirlwind as they are, with their grossly mistaken
illusions. The representatives of the different social classes, the various political parties, will wage a bitter struggle for the utilization of these illusions in their own interest. It would be extremely naïve to believe that once the revolutionary tempest has broken out the working class and its vanguard party will only have to put out their hands to gain hegemony and seize the direction of the movement.
If the working class is not well prepared and organized into a combative army under the direction of its united and disciplined communist party, particularly in the colonial revolution, the workers can be at the front ranks of the fight and show the greatest sacrifice, but they will not be able to assure the hegemony of their class, which will be pushed back politically to the rearguard. To consolidate, to strengthen our party organically, politically and ideologically, that is the central task, especially for us, the Arab communists. Indeed, it is only in Syria, unfortunately, that we have succeeded definitively (to smash), Zionist or other chauvinist deviations of race superiority that prevented the development of our Syrian party for years by undermining its Arabization process, and now by preventing to a greater or lesser extent the development of our fraternal parties of the other Arab countries and undermining their Arabization.
It is true that progress was also made in Palestine, but the resistance is still not definitively crushed. In Syria we already have a party that, despite its great weaknesses, can already see to these important tasks. But for this, our Syrian party has thus to lead the political masses. To go forward in the work we already began, we have to radically change not only our tactics, but also our way of thinking, in the light of the speech of the great Dimitrov.
We have to fight mercilessly within our ranks all points of view that can be, even slightly, an obstacle to the conquest to winning the favor of the masses, particularly of the petty bourgeois peasant masses and others that we have to accept as they are, as Dimitrov said.
Those masses under the domination of imperialism and its dictatorship are tending, in the current stage, toward the unity of the national movement. Until now the national-reformist bourgeoisie used this tendency for the interests of a conciliatory policy and to fight against the revolutionary proletariat and the CP, accusing them of wanting to divide the nation's forces. As far as we are concerned, we never believed it was necessary to be involved in this controversy and contented ourselves with proving by theoretical discourses that the unity of the nation was impossible, that it did not exist. Now we have to use these tendencies of the masses against the bourgeoisie itself and prove by practical work that we are the only ones who consequentially work for the unity of all the forces opposed to imperialism in the fight for the independence of all Arab countries.
We also have to fight the sectarianism of "cowards" who, in the face of the first difficulty, where there is opposition to the growth of our influence in the process of development of the popular front, would like to provoke a split and break the front. We must understand that the tactics of the united front will not be a direct road where the influence of the revolutionary proletariat will proceed in an ascending line and the influence of adversary classes, particularly of national reformism, will follow a descending line from start to finish. Zigzags, twists, forward and backward movements are inevitable. Our strength and our policy will determine our capacity to go through all of these turning points so that the change in the balance of power finally goes to our advantage.
While combating sectarianism in all its forms, we have to combat opportunist deviations that would try to limit all the action of the party working in the popular front by condemning every independent activity of the party or by concealing its true face before the masses, by hiding its complete programme of national and agrarian revolution, and by disguising its final goal, the fight for socialism.
We communists have great confidence in the revolutionary power of dozens of millions of Arab workers and in the power of the Arab proletariat as the vanguard of these masses, as well as in their hegemony in the fight for national liberation.
We will be able to organize these forces to overthrow the yoke of imperialism with the help of the proletariat of the advanced countries.
By choosing the path of the united popular front we will organize our own class, ignite the class struggle in the villages, raise the peasantry to the agrarian revolution, strengthen the influence of the working class on the peasantry and, in the successive fights, we will victoriously lead the masses to the revolution under the flag of the Communist International.