The Most Burning Question: Unity of Action
Written: Moscow, July 28, 1934;
Source: Workers Library Publishers, New York, October 1934.
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: Chris Clayton
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive
For over a year and a half Adolf Hitler, chief of the German fascists, has been wading in blood. The incendiaries of the Reichstag, Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and the rest, are trying to instigate a new imperialist war. The military-fascist clique of generals and admirals in Japan is holding its army and navy ready and waiting on the eastern borders of the Soviet Union. The international political situation may be subject to great variations, but one fact remains certain: Every imperialist country is already preparing for an imperialist war.
Fascism has become the principal instrument in these preparations for a new war. The offensive of capital on the living standard of the working class is designed to cover the costs of armaments. By robbing the working class of its rights and breaking up its organizations, the capitalists want to throttle the resistance of the working class against wars and robbery.
Working Class Ranks Split
In the face of this threatening new catastrophe, the ranks of the working class have been split since 1914. Unity is a crying need. Only the unity of the working class against the instigators of war, against fascist oppressors, against the source of imperialist wars and of fascism — capitalism — can alter the relation of class forces in favor of the proletariat.
The Communist Parties in all capitalist countries are waging a dauntless struggle to restore the unity of action of the working class, this being the necessary condition for drawing over the middle strata in town and country to the side of the proletariat. The Communist Parties have also addressed themselves to the leaders of the Social-Democratic Parties in order to achieve the united front of the working class. The results as yet are insignificant. Only in France, in Austria, and in the Saar region have agreements been come to between Communist and Social Democratic workers. The difficulties are still great, but they are not insuperable.
Destroy Class Collaboration
However great these difficulties may be, the Communist Parties will dauntlessly continue their struggle against fascism and imperialist war, against the offensive of capital. The rejection of united front proposals by a number of Social-Democratic Parties may make this struggle more difficult, but it can never hold it up. Class collaboration with the bourgeoisie is the obstacle in the way of establishing unity of action. The natural condition for establishing the unity of action of the working class is to break the class collaboration with the capitalists. This does not mean that the contradictions — in tactics and in matters of principle — between Communism and Social-Democracy will be done away with. Nevertheless, the common struggle of Social-Democratic and Communist workers in the factories, in the trade unions, among both employed and unemployed, is the first prerequisite for overcoming the split in the ranks of the working class.
No one who is against the splitting of the proletariat, no one who wants the liberation of the working class, can refuse this common struggle against the dangers with which the working class is directly threatened.
The Communists, who are leading the liberation struggle of the working class, who, for this very reason reject all collaboration with the bourgeoisie, will continue to fight for unity of action. The success of this struggle depends first and foremost upon the Social-Democratic workers. They must decide: Either with the bourgeoisie against the members of their own class, or with their own class comrades against the bourgeoisie.
These articles, written at various stages of this struggle, are designed, by way of persuasion, to help the Social-Democratic workers to make this decision.
The working class, which fights unitedly and irreconcilably against the bourgeoisie, is invincible; it will conquer.
Moscow, July 28, 1934
THE MOST BURNING QUESTION—UNITY OF ACTION
(Member of the Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Communist International)
Three Communist Parties have recently addressed themselves to three Social-Democratic Parties with the proposal for joint action in order to rescue the leader of the German Proletariat, Comrade Ernst Thaelmann, from the hands of the fascist hangmen. The fight to save Thaelmann is the fight for the release of all anti-fascist fighters in Germany, in Austria, and in all countries where fascism has been victorious. The Communists have never hesitated for an instant when it was a question of defending the lives of anti-fascist fighters who were in the ranks of Austrian Social-Democracy, or who, though not adhering to any party, carried on the struggle against the oppression of the working class.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of France addressed a proposal to the Administrative Commission of the Socialist Party of France to organize joint demonstrations in a number of important industrial centers in France, especially in those cities where the Hitler government has its official representatives.
Swiss C.P. Proposed Unity
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Switzerland likewise sent a delegation to the chairman of the Swiss Socialist Party with the proposal to organize joint demonstrations against German fascism and for the rescue of Thaelmann.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain made similar addresses to the Labor Party, to the leaders of the reformist trade unions and co-operatives.
In personal negotiations between representatives of the French Socialist Party and the Communist Party of France, the Social-Democratic delegates declared themselves ready to agree to the proposal of the Communists on the condition that during the period of joint action, the Communist Party of France should refrain from all polemics against Social-Democracy. The delegates of the Communist Party of France declared that they were ready to cease all criticism of Social-Democracy during the period of joint action in those places where the demonstrations were to take place.
Swiss Socialists Reject Proposals
The Administrative Commission of the Socialist Party of Switzerland rejected the proposal of the Communist Party of Switzerland in a malicious answer of which we will quote only one sentence:
“If the Communist Party of Switzerland invites us to take part in demonstrations before the German embassies, we challenge the Communist Party of Switzerland to demonstrate before the RUSSIAN EMBASSIES in those countries where it is still able to do so.”
Comment on this proposal is superfluous.
The leaders of the Labor Party have up to the present time (June 15, 1934), not yet answered the proposal sent them by the secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Such are the facts.
Bourgeoisie Fears United Front
To these facts we will only add one or two observations: The bourgeoisie, especially the German fascists, correctly estimate the importance of the unity of action of the working class as being the greatest danger for capitalism. They likewise correctly estimate the importance of the person of Comrade Thaelmann and of his defense in the anti-fascist struggle. In connection with the proposals made by the Communist Party of France to French Social-Democracy, the Berliner Boersenzeitung, one of the leading organs of big German capital, wrote as follows:
“We cannot, however, regard with indifference the fact that the French Communists are now preparing great meetings and street demonstrations in Paris, Reims, Lille, Strassbourg, Bordeaux, Marseilles and other cities for the rescue of Thaelmann, and have even contrived to induce French Social-Democracy to take part in these actions and to form a united front.”
It is with good reason that this fascist paper agitates against the united front of Communist and Social-Democratic workers; it does so in the interests of German fascism and in the interests of capitalism as a whole.
This reaction on the part of Hitler fascism to the united front of the workers, which is developing against German fascism, is in itself enough to show that the Communist Parties which made proposals for unity of action to the Social-Democratic Parties acted correctly. The correctness of this step of the Communist Parties lies not only in the fact that they have repeated this step, despite the fact that after Hitler’s advent to power, the Second International forbade the Social-Democratic Parties to organize joint actions with the Communists against Hitler fascism. (The Second International did this despite the fact that the Communist International in its appeal of March 5, 1933, recommended its sections to cease making attacks on Social-Democracy during the period of joint actions.)
Moreover, the importance of these proposals made by the Communist Parties to the leaders of Social-Democratic Parties lies not only in the fact that Swiss Social-Democracy has once again proved that it prefers to maintain its class collaboration with the bourgeoisie rather than to establish the united front with the Communist workers; that the Labor Party could not even answer the proposal for unity of action made to it; that the French Socialists made joint action against fascism dependent upon a condition which constitutes a breach of workers’ democracy.
C. P. Will Press Unity
At the time of writing these lines, we do not yet know what decision will be taken by the Administrative Commission of the French Socialist Party on the basis of the reports of its delegates who negotiated with the representatives of the Communist Party. We do not know which pressure will have a more powerful effect upon the Administrative Commission — the militant will of the working masses who are pressing for unity of action, or the resistance of Frossard, Doroy and Reviere, who have rejected the proposal made by the Communist Party of France. No matter what the leaders of French Social-Democracy may decide, no matter what the leaders of the Swiss Social-Democracy have decided, no matter what the leaders of the Labor Party have kept quiet from their members the Communist Parties will unshakably continue and extend the struggle for the united front of the working class against fascism, against war, for the rescue of Thaelmann.
Let the Social-Democratic leaders answer the proposals of the Communists for the formation of a joint front of struggle with such malicious words as were used by Swiss Social-Democracy; let them declare with malice and hatred that the struggle against the splitting of the working class is a Communist maneuver — for us Communists, and also, we hope, for the great mass of workers in Social-Democratic and reformist organizations, the united front of the working class, the unity of action of the proletarians, is and remains a serious matter, a sacred cause.
Strongest Champions of Cause
Little as we Communists are inclined to surrender for one instant the political and organizational independence of the Communist Parties, little as we deem it possible for there to be a union of the Communist International with the Second International, we are nevertheless determined to fight with all our strength to secure the unity of action of the proletariat against its class enemies. Many Social-Democratic workers, members of reformist trade unions and functionaries of these organizations did not understand this before; but today at least, in face of the tremendous growth of the danger of fascism and war, they are coming to realize ever more and more clearly that the Communists are not an obstacle in the way of establishing the unity of the working class, but that they are the strongest champions of this cause.
The appeal for common action against fascism and the offensive of capital issued by the Communist International on March 5, 1933, had already convinced many of the Social-Democratic workers and functionaries that the Communists are even disposed to make concessions in the interests of establishing the united front of Communist and Social-Democratic workers against the bourgeoisie. We wish to declare openly and unreservedly: The renunciation of polemics against the Social-Democratic Parties, during the period of common struggles against the offensive of capital, against fascism and imperialist war, is a concession.
Concession to Strengthen Fight
We are making this concession despite the fact that we are firmly convinced that our polemics against the supporters of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie are not only well founded but that such polemics constitute an indispensable part of workers’ democracy. This workers’ democracy consists not least in the fact that the workers — members of one and the same class but holding different views — convince one another in the struggle of ideas. Workers’ democracy denotes not only the right, but also the duty of mutual conviction. In return for this concession on our part, we ask nothing of the Social-Democratic Parties, but the enlisting of all workers in the common front of struggle against the common class enemy.
We Communists will never, under any circumstances, repudiate our principles, our tactics. We will never give our consent to the collaboration of the working class with its class enemy, the bourgeoisie. We were, are and always will be for the revolutionary overthrow of bourgeois rule in all its forms — whether fascist or bourgeois-democratic. We are for the unrestricted power of the working class, for the dictatorship of the proletariat, for Soviet power, which can only be set up by the use of proletarian force against bourgeois force — by revolution. We have proved by the example of the Soviet Union that only the dictatorship of the proletariat, only Soviet power can bring about the broadest democracy of all toilers and clear the way for Socialism. But to those workers who do not yet share our views on all these question of principle, we have always addressed the call: Struggle with us against the common class enemy, against the most immediate dangers which are threatening the proletariat. On January 1, 1922, when the offensive of capital against the international working class set in, we addressed ourselves to proletarian men and women in all countries with the following words:
“You do not yet dare to struggle in the new way, you do not yet dare to struggle for power, for dictatorship, with arms in your hands. You do not yet dare to make the great attack on the citadels of world reaction. At least, then, rally together for the struggle for bare life, for the struggle for peace. Rally for this struggle in a fighting front. Rally together as a proletarian class against the bourgeois class. Tear down the barriers which have been set up between you. Take your places in the ranks, whether Communist, Social-Democrat, Anarchist, or Syndicalist, for the struggle against the emergency of the hour. The Communist International has always called upon the workers who stand for the dictatorship of the proletarians, for the Soviets, to unite in independent parties. It does not take back one word of what it has said in arguing for the formation of independent Communist Parties; it is convinced that every passing day will convince ever greater masses how right it has been in all its conduct and actions. But despite everything which divides us, it says: Proletarian men and women, close up the ranks for the struggle for that which you all feel to be the common goal.”
* * *
Once again the Communists say to the workers of Social-Democratic and reformist organizations and to their functionaries: Do you not feel that the advance of fascism in a number of countries, the direct preparations which are being made for a new imperialist slaughter of the peoples, the further degradation of the position of the working class, must unite us? You follow your leaders, who, as we are convinced, pursue an incorrect policy, the policy of class collaboration, a policy which does not correspond to the interests of the proletariat but to those of the bourgeoisie. We believe that our criticism of your Party is correct. But the attacks on the policy of your leaders were not, for us, an end in themselves; they were always and they still are a means in the struggle for establishing the unity of the working class against capitalism.
In order to break the bonds of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie — bonds which hold fast such an important part of the working class as the adherents of Social-Democracy represent — in order that we may be able jointly to wage a common struggle against the common enemy, in order to achieve this minimum which is necessary for successful struggle against fascism, we were, are, and remain ready to make this concession to your leaders. We steadfastly hope that the common struggle of Communist and Social-Democratic workers — even though it means temporarily abandoning an important condition of workers’ democracy, polemics against incorrect policy — that this struggle will convince the Social-Democratic workers that the sole correct tactic of the working class is not the reformist policy, not class collaboration with the class enemy, but the irreconcilable revolutionary class struggle against capitalism and its rule.
C. P. Will Follow Stern Path
It follows from this conviction that the Communist Parties will not let themselves be deterred, either by the courteous or by the malicious refusals of any Social-Democratic Party, from pursuing the path of consistent struggle for the unity of action of the proletariat.
No matter what answers are given by the Social-Democratic leaders to our proposals for unity of action, we will call upon the proletarians, no matter to what party they may belong, to engage in common action against capitalism, fascism and imperialist war, for the defense of the living interests, for the defense of the rights of the workers. We are ready to make proposals to the leaders of the Social-Democratic Parties as well; we are ready to negotiate. But we know that it is our absolute duty to make these proposals not only to the Social-Democratic Party leaders, that it is our duty not to conduct our negotiations behind the scenes. If some Communists have not learned this, they must now above all realize that every proposal made to a Social-Democratic Party executive or to the leaders of a reformist trade union, must be backed up by hundreds of applications to all organizations of the Social-Democratic Parties and reformist trade unions.
Broad Mass Work Necessary
By means of broad mass work we must ensure that the adherents of the Social-Democratic Parties, the members of reformist trade unions, know of every proposal made by a Communist Party for joint action against the class enemy. If the Communists in France, in Switzerland or in England, have neglected to make proposals of action every day in the Social-Democratic Party organizations through delegations and in the local organizations of the reformist trade unions through the Communist groups, if they have neglected to hold joint meetings of Communist and Social-Democratic workers, this was unquestionably a mistake. Such a militant campaign for unity of action as is represented by the proposals for the rescue of Thaelmann, for the struggle against German fascism, must be spread abroad in tens and hundreds of thousands of leaflets, must be accompanied by the resolutions of hundreds of Communist and Social-Democratic organizations, staffs of factories, etc.
Only such a broad common struggle of Communist and Social-Democratic trade union members, of members of reformist and of revolutionary organizations, while drawing in the broadest sections of the unorganized proletarians, can bring about unity of action. What has been let slip hitherto in this campaign against fascism and for the rescue of Thaelmann, must be made good in the immediate future.
Communists Do Not Stop Halfway
We shall not tire of the struggle for unity of action! We shall achieve it despite all, in spite of everything! Again and yet again we say to the Social-Democratic workers: You do not know us Communists if you think that we are going to stop half way. The struggle for the united front of the working class is a point in the program of the Communist International, and we, whose actions never belie our words, take our program seriously. Despite diplomacy, despite rude refusals or silence in answer to our proposals, we shall turn to you again, ready to struggle together with you against capitalism, against imperialist war, against fascism, for our common class interests and against the emergency of the day.
You Social-Democratic workers should not stop half way either. Join the ranks in the united action of the working class for victory over the class enemy.
Any Argument Is Good Enough
As the events in the struggle for unity of action have shown, it is becoming increasingly less possible simply to pass over in silence the offers made by the Communist Parties to the Social-Democratic Parties and their organizations. The working class’s urge to unity on the one hand, and on the other hand the pressure brought to bear by the bourgeois allies, are compelling the Social-Democratic Party leaders to give open answers to the offers made. And just because of this urge to unity on the part of the working class, they are compelled to produce argument for the rejection of these offers.
It must be said that these arguments do not look as if their inventors had wasted much pains upon them. It denotes, to some extent, an under-estimation of the mental requirements and political level of the Social-Democratic workers when the Social-Democratic leaders deem that they can convince their followers with arguments such as these. True, it must be granted that it is an extremely difficult task to find even the semblance of an argument for rejecting the idea of unity of action. Nevertheless, it would seem that the Social-Democratic Party leaders, who reject the offers of the Communist Parties, take very little trouble to produce their arguments in such a way that the members of their parties may at any rate receive the impression that their leaders are seriously considering the possibilities of setting up a broad united front against fascism and the offensive of capital.
None the less, we feel ourselves obliged to answer these arguments. Let us take the most typical of the reasons put forward as grounds for rejecting the Communist Parties’ proposals to organize the joint struggle against the common class enemy; and let us answer these arguments seriously, devoting to the task that seriousness with which not only Communists but also Social-Democratic workers are fighting for unity of action.
“We Are Insulted”
Most of the Social-Democratic Party leaders reject the proposals for a united front on the grounds that they feel themselves to have been insulted by the Communists. We find this most clearly expressed in the answer given by the Party executive of the German Social-Democratic Labor Party in Czechoslovakia. In this letter (published in the Prague Sozialdemokrat of July 18, 1934) we read as follows:
“We are astounded that, after all you have done in long years of work to prevent common actions of the whole proletariat, you should approach us with an offer like this. We do not understand how, after you have for years hurled the epithet of ‘social-fascist’ at us, you can call upon us for common struggle against fascism. We cannot grasp how you can invite us to joint combatting of the war danger when you have slandered us as ‘instigators of war’ and ‘social-imperialists.’ . . . We are thus unable to organize any joint actions with you, since it is impossible for us to join you in your policy of insincerity and double dealing and since the most elementary claims of self-respect forbid us to allow ourselves to be simultaneously wooed and spat upon by you.”
If I were a Social-Democratic worker, I would have told my leaders the following in this connection:
Questions to Social-Democratic Leaders
“You sit in one government together with a number of bourgeois politicians who in the past have ruthlessly persecuted the Social-Democratic workers. This has been the case in every country where Social-Democratic Party leaders sat or sit together in one government with bourgeois politicians. The fact that the bourgeois parties, in conjunction with which the Social-Democratic Party leaders look after the business of the bourgeois state, have also persecuted Social-Democratic workers, did not prevent you from forming a coalition with them. When, for example, Vandervelde, the chairman of the Second International, entered the government, he most probably took his seat beside bourgeois ministers who in his youth had heaped abuse upon him as a Social-Democrat, or even persecuted him.
“When at the beginning of the imperialist war it was proclaimed that the nation was in danger, did you not “bury the hatchet” with the leaders of bourgeois parties, did you not join hands with them? Now, however, it is a real danger which is threatening our class — the danger of fascism, the danger of the offensive of capital. How can I, a simple member of my party, understand how it was that the proclamation of danger to the country caused my leaders to become reconciled with the class enemy, whereas now the real danger menacing our class cannot induce these same leaders to enter into common action with my class comrades from the Communist Party for the interests of my class against the dangers with which the class enemy is threatening us?
What Are the Real Obstacles?
“It is true that the Communists have called the Social-Democratic leaders social-fascists and social-imperialists. I did not agree with this, despite the fact that the Communists never treated me as a social-fascist or a social-imperialist, since I was their work-mate and a rank-and-file member of my party. I am glad that it has come to this — that the Communist Parties have declared in the interests of the unity of action of the whole working class that they will cease making attacks on the Social-Democratic leaders during the period of joint actions. It is all the more incomprehensible to me that my party leaders should want to treat the hard words that have been said as a permanent obstacle to the united action of the working class, whereas the Communist Parties, whose leaders and members have been not only abused but also fired upon by many Social-Democratic leaders, stretch out their hand to us for struggle against the common class enemy.
“I cannot understand why the Social-Democratic leaders want to take hard words as a permanent obstacle to unity of action at a time when, for example, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, whose leaders Gottwald and Kopetzki were persecuted by the Social-Democratic Minister of Justice, nevertheless, in spite of everything, offers unity of action together with the Social-Democratic Party against the bourgeoisie. If the dead bodies of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht and so many tens of thousands of proletarians who were the victims of Noske and similar Social-Democratic leaders, do not keep the Communists from joint action together with us, when it is a question of warding off the fascist danger, of the struggle against fascism, why then should the hard words once spoken against our leaders keep us from common struggle together with the Communists?”
This is the least which I would have answered my leaders had I been a Social-Democratic worker.
“The Second International Does Not Permit . . .”
In its letter of July 18 (published in Le Peuple) the Central Committee of the Belgian Labor Party rejected the united front proposal of the Communist Party with the following argument:
“It is, however, impossible to contemplate the formation of the united front which you have proposed to us. The Socialist and Labor International has made distinct proposals to the Communist International. We are therefore of the opinion that it is the business of these two authorities, upon which we are dependent, to bring about the agreement which is required.”
In answer to this, a Social-Democratic worker should say to his party comrades:
“Have you ever noticed that our party was dependent in its decisions upon the Second International? In all articles by Vandervelde in our party newspaper, I have always read that it is only the Communist Parties which are dependent upon their International in Moscow. I cannot even now understand why it is that our Social-Democratic Party friends in France are able to enter into common struggle with the French Communists against fascism, against the dangers of the day, whereas we in Belgium are not allowed to do so. Hitherto, all we have heard is that we Social-Democrats, in contrast to the Communists, do not let our tactics be dictated to us from outside, but decide them ourselves in accordance with the conditions in our own country. I even read an article in Le Peuple of July 19, translated from the central organ of Dutch Social-Democracy, Het Volk, in which the same idea is expressed:
“We suppose that there is no single Socialist in the world who would not be ready most cordially to welcome the unity of all Socialist Parties. But that is not the point. We must face reality and seek for a means of changing the present situation in which the working class is split, and of forging the unity of the working class. These means differ in every country.”
“The Communist International also said in its appeal that the question of unity of action should be solved in accordance with the peculiarities of the various countries and parties.
“Why then does my party invoke the decision of the Socialist and Labor International, which forbids all sections of the Social-Democratic International to negotiate with the Communist Parties? They should not play diplomatic tricks with us Social-Democratic workers. In France it is permitted, but in Belgium it is forbidden! I could have understood it if our Belgian party leaders had demanded other conditions, other slogans than in France; but I cannot understand why they should reject the offer of the Communists unconditionally. It ought to be openly stated whether our party leaders want unity of action against the bourgeoisie with the Communists, with all workers, or whether they do not. Diplomatic subterfuge, however, should be used by them against the class enemy and not against members of their own party.
“I am heart and soul on the side of proletarian internationalism. I am an enemy of nationalism, for during the imperialist war I have learned, from my own personal experience, that the defense of the nation in a capitalist state is the defense of the interests of the ruling class. But it is a fine sort of ‘proletarian internationalism’ if it means that unity of action for combatting the international danger of fascism and imperialist war is internationally forbidden.”
“The United Front Is a Soviet Maneuver.”
“The United Front Is in Contradiction to the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union.”
Both of these arguments are everywhere current where people are trying to disseminate mistrust in unity of action or to fight against it.
Reporting Leon Blum’s speech at the National conference of the Socialist Party of France, the Populaire of July 16, 1934, writes as follows:
“Leon Blum does not believe that the change in the attitude of the Communist Party is inspired by its internal position, nor by the internal policy of the Russian section of the Third International, but rather by the foreign policy of the Soviet Union.”
The Paris correspondent of the Swiss Social-Democratic paper Volksrecht sent the following report regarding the struggle for unity of action in France (July 19, 1934):
“The Soviet Union, which is staking everything to incorporate itself in the commonwealth of nations and which, on account of its international relations, would thus have us forget the formerly so strongly emphasized antagonism both against Western capitalism and also against Western democracy, is interested in adapting the Communist Parties to these tendencies.”
In direct contradiction to these assertions, the leaders of German Social-Democracy in Czechoslovakia produce the following arguments:
“You reproach us with the fact that we agree to the military budget. Quite apart from the fact that the Communist Party in the Soviet Union gives its consent to the expenditure of billions for armaments purposes, this reproach is altogether grotesque in the present situation and stands in complete contradiction to the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, support for which you demand from us.”
What, then, is the Social-Democratic worker to think? Is the struggle of the Communist Parties for unity of action against the bourgeoisie a Soviet plot or a counter-revolutionary subterfuge, perhaps even a maneuver of white guard Russian emigrants? And if he is to be clear about it all, he must first ask: What proposals have the Communist Parties made to the Social-Democratic Parties?
The Communist Answer
The answer is clear: A united front, common action by both parties and their supporters against their own bourgeoisie, against fascism in Germany and in their own countries, against the danger of fascization, against the offensive of capital on the working class in all its forms.
He should also reflect on the question: Have the Communists anywhere or at any time opposed the actions of the working class against the bourgeoisie or the unity of these actions?
The answer can only be: No, the Communists were never opposed to such actions, never opposed to the unity of action of the whole proletariat against the bourgeoisie.
Another question which the Social-Democratic worker must ask himself is as follows:
Is the Soviet Union, under all circumstances, interested that the proletarians in capitalist countries should fight united against their bourgeoisie, or does the attitude of the Soviet Union toward the united front of the workers in bourgeois states depend on the “foreign political situation of the moment”?
Cites Stalin’s Writings
He can find the answer to this question in the works of the most acknowledged leader of Bolshevism. Stalin writes as follows in his work Foundations of Leninism on the relation between the Soviet State and the proletariat of capitalist countries.
“The THIRD STAGE [i.e., the third stage of the Russian Revolution — B. K.] commenced after the October Revolution. Aim: Consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country, USING IT AS THE STRONGHOLD FOR THE OVERTHROW OF IMPERIALISM IN ALL COUNTRIES. The revolution goes beyond the confines of one country and the period of world revolution commences. The main forces of the revolution: THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT IN ONE COUNTRY AND THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT OF THE PROLETARIAT IN ALL COUNTRIES.” (My emphasis — B. K.)
A plain answer to a plain question! It can never be to the interest of the Soviet Union that the proletariat in capitalist countries should pursue the policy of class collaboration with its own bourgeoisie.
Nevertheless, the Social-Democratic worker can retort: That is all very fine! I don’t doubt that Stalin is the greatest revolutionary of the present day. But that doesn’t alter the fact that the Soviet Union concludes treaties with bourgeois governments, whereas the Communist Parties call upon us to struggle against these governments. There is something wrong here!
U.S.S.R. Is International Bulwark
We Communists answer as follows: It may perhaps sound perplexing to some, since it is here a question of struggles in which world historical questions are being decided. But there is nothing wrong here — in fact, quite the contrary.
The Soviet Union, for the time being the sole proletarian state which, as experience shows, is the bulwark of the whole international proletarian revolution, nay, of the bourgeois-democratic national liberation struggles of all oppressed peoples, is indeed obliged to conclude treaties with the governments of capitalist states. It even makes efforts to secure such treaties in order to guarantee peace for itself and for the whole of mankind. The Soviet Union is compelled to do this in just the same way as the workers in capitalist countries are compelled, so long as they have not taken possession of the capitalist enterprises by way of revolution, to conclude agreements with the capitalist employers. We Communists hold that the workers, if they were not split but were united on the basis of our program, would long ago have been able to overthrow capitalism, just as the Russian proletarians did under the leadership of the Bolsheviks. But until capitalism has been overthrown, we Communists hold that the workers — no matter to what party or organization they may belong — should fight for collective agreements, for better wage agreements with the employers. So long as the relation of forces between bourgeoisie and proletariat is such that the capitalists remain masters of the means of production, we will always fight to see to it that the workers in their hard struggle against the employers may force the latter through collective agreements to give them better conditions of work.
Favor Collective Agreements
The Soviet Union does likewise. The capitalists still rule on five-sixths of the earth’s surface. The Soviet Union must conclude the treaties with the states of these capitalists until the workers have overthrown the rule of their bourgeoisie.
We Communists are in favor of collective agreements in the interests of the workers. But we are deadly enemies of the reformist policy of class collaboration, which is based on the theory of the so-called community of interests of workers and employers. We will never agree to such class collaboration with the bourgeoisie. This, however, cannot prevent us from recommending the workers to take advantage of the contradiction among the individual capitalist employers. If the workers in one branch of industry are on strike, or are locked out by the employers, and some of the employers are compelled, for one reason or another, to grant the demands of their workers, to put an end to the lockout, no reasonable strike leader will say: The workers ought to scorn the concessions of these employers and not try to take advantage of the difficulties of the individual capitalists, of the contradictions of the capitalists among themselves, for the benefit of those who are on strike or locked out.
* * *
The Soviet Union pursues the same proletarian policy in the domain of its foreign political relations: it takes advantage of the contradictions between the capitalist states in its foreign policy. It does this in the interests both of the toilers of the Soviet Union and of the whole world proletariat. It does this, for example, when, after the exit from the League of Nations of the two most bellicose imperialist states, Japan and Germany, it contemplates entering the League of Nations itself.
But the Soviet Union does not therefore pursue a “League of Nations” policy, any more than revolutionary workers, when they conclude a collective agreement, are pursuing a policy of class collaboration. The Soviet Union, when it enters the League of Nations, will pursue a Soviet policy, just as revolutionary workers, in an enterprise where they are working on the basis of a collective agreement, pursue a policy of class struggle.
Defense of Socialist Construction
However, the Social-Democratic worker may ask further:
Very well! But why do the Communists demand that we should be against agreeing to the war budget when the Communist Party in the Soviet Union — as the German Social-Democrats in Czecho-Slovakia say in their answer — “gives its consent to the expenditure of billions for armaments purposes”? Why should not our members of Parliament do the same?
No, we answer. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union does not give its consent to the spending of billions for armaments purposes, it decides upon this expenditure for the defense of its socialist construction, which is continually threatened, in accordance with the foreign political situation, now by this group of imperialist states, now by that. It decides upon this expenditure by order of the proletariat, for the defense of the proletariat against those armies, the money for whose arming is voted by the Social-Democratic members of Parliament.
Socialist Party Aids Arms Expenditures
On the other hand a Social-Democratic Party — even in the most democratic capitalist states — gives its consent when it agrees to the armaments expenditure which has been decided upon by the bankers, factory owners and big agrarians.
The difference, therefore, is obvious, just as crystal clear as the perpetual and indivisible community of interests, independent of all foreign political circumstances, between the Soviet proletariat and the working class in capitalist countries and their unity in action against the bourgeoisie of all countries.
Anyone who foolishly talks about the united front policy of the Communist Parties being dependent upon the “changing foreign political situation of the Soviet Union” should bear in mind two historical facts:
Cites Mistake in Hungary
1. In 1919 we Hungarian Communists made the great historical mistake that we united our Party with the whole Social-Democratic Party and thus made our policy dependent upon the reformists. The foreign political situation of the Soviet Union was at that time the most difficult imaginable. It was fighting against military intervention, against internal counter-revolution supported by eighteen states. Nevertheless, this foreign political situation did not prevent the leaders of the Soviet Union from warning the Communists in Hungary of the dangers involved in this incorrect policy of the united front.
2. Again, when it became clear that the Anglo-Russian Committee, the joint committee of the English and Soviet trade unions, in consequence of the treachery of the “Left” English trade union leaders, was not serving the interests of the English and of the international proletariat, but was injuring these interests, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union did not hesitate an instant in recommending the dissolution of this committee, which had for a certain time been necessary in the interests of the proletariat.
Let the Social-Democratic workers decide for themselves whether the Communist Parties, which have made the united front, the struggle for the unity of action of the working class, a part of their program, are pursuing a policy based on principle or one which can be described as a policy of opportunism.
The Legend of the “Non-Aggression Pact”
The Populaire of June 23 published an article by Leon Blum entitled “Unity of Action” — an article in which he expressed himself against unity of action. The editorial board of the Populaire, of which Leon Blum is political head, supplemented this article by a trick. On the pretext that the editors of the paper, “in view of the armistice of the bourgeois parties,” desire “the armistice of the proletarian parties,” it published two documents side by side: the text of the Franco-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and the draft of a “Socialist-Communist Non-Aggression Pact.”
If I were a member of the French Socialist Party, I would have answered this article of Leon Blum and the trick of his editorial board as follows:
“Dear Leon Blum and dear editors of the Populaire: “I am in favor of the unity of action of all French proletarians, whether Socialists, Communists, Confederatives or Unitarian trade unionists. I am in favor of it with my whole heart and with my whole understanding. I demand of the leaders of the Communist Party of France, as well as of the leaders of my own party, that they take this unity of action, and also us individual workers, seriously. But I protest against the fact that you, dear Leon Blum and the editors of the Populaire, are so little disposed to take us seriously that in the central organ of the French Socialist Party — surely not with the intention of forging a document — you have reprinted the Non-Aggression Pact between France and the Soviet Union in a falsified form. Among the names which are here produced as signatories to the pact, the name of the Soviet Ambassador in Paris, Dovgalevsky, is preceded by that of Comrade Stalin, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We Socialist workers, too, know that Comrade Stalin is a statesman of world historical importance, but we know equally well that he is not a state functionary of the Soviet Union and therefore does not sign any international treaties.
Attacks Blum’s Frivolity
“We would prefer it if the editors of the Populaire, upon such a serious occasion, did not display such frivolity.
“But still more strongly do I protest against the fact that the editors of the Populaire regard our relation to our Communist class comrades as identical with the relation between the Socialist Soviet Union and the bourgeois Republic of France. Do you not think that this is an insult to the Socialist workers?
“Despite the vast number of articles by O. Rosenfeld published in the Populaire, we know that the Soviet Union is a proletarian state. Despite the articles of Frossard, we know that France is a republic of French imperialism. We also know that the Soviet Union, as a proletarian state, has made the cause of peace its own cause. It is interested in doing so since peace is necessary for the continuation and completion of the work of socialist construction. To me it is quite clear that the Soviet Union concludes treaties with all bourgeois states in order to secure peace. This also serves the interests of the whole international proletariat. We know likewise that the Soviet Union cannot overthrow the capitalist world by itself, and it is therefore compelled, in order to prolong the period of respite which has set in after the termination of military intervention, to come to agreements with imperialist states as well. It will be compelled to do so until the contracting parties, for example in France, are no longer Herriot or Dournergue, but representatives of the French working class. The Soviet Union and the capitalist world exist side by side, but they are also opposed to one another. They represent two hostile classes, two mutually opposed systems — the working class and the bourgeoisie, the system of socialism and the system of capitalism.
“Can you wonder, dear Leon Blum and the editors of the Populaire, if I feel insulted at the fact that you pretend that my relation to my workmates who are organized in the Communist Party is the same as the relation between the Socialist Soviet Union and imperialist France? Can my relation and the relation of my party to the Communist Party of France and to its members, be considered as similar to the relations between Lebrun, Herriot and Barthou on the one hand, and Stalin, Litvinov and Dovgalevsky on the other? Are we, my comrade at the work-bench and I, two different representatives of two hostile classes like Stalin and Lebrun, Litvinoff and Herriot, Dovgalevsky and Barthou?
“I have placed great faith in you. But how can you expect me to believe you when you try to represent me, a class conscious French worker, as an equally great enemy of my Communist workmate as the system of capitalism is to the system of socialism?
“No! I do not agree to this! An armistice, a non-aggression pact is not enough for me. Such methods are right when applied to the relations between the proletarian Soviet Union and bourgeois France. But it is a form of sabotage of unity of action when this system of non-aggression pacts is applied to the relations between Socialist and Communist workers — members of one and the same class. It is not an armistice or a nonaggression pact which the must conclude with the Communist Party. The growth of the fascist danger in France, the increase of preparation for war throughout the whole world, demands something quite different. What existed between us Socialist workers and the Communist workers between February 6 and 12 this year, was not an armistice, not a diplomatic treaty, not a nonaggression pact. During these days we Socialist and Communist workers stood shoulder to shoulder in armed alliance against the attack of fascism. With brilliant success we repulsed the impudent attack of fascism (supported by M. Chiappe), and proceeded to take the offensive. We workers are proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with our Communist brothers in united action against the bourgeoisie.
So let us leave diplomacy to the diplomats. Let us avoid giving even the outward impression that the relation between members of the Socialist and Communist Party is that of two opposed classes. Throw aside diplomatic tricks and let us honestly grasp the fraternal hand of the Communist Party in order to defend ourselves in common against the common enemy.”
“The United Front With the Communists Repels the Petty Bourgeoisie from the Proletariat”
The Populaire of July 17, 1934, published the draft resolution which Frossard and his intimate comrades of the Right Wing of French Social-Democracy put forward in the National Council of the French Socialist Party against the acceptance of the Communist offer. In this draft we read as follows:
“. . . Merely in order to co-operate with them [i.e., the Communists — B.K.], the Socialist organizations cannot surrender their contact with all the democratic elements, which constitute the enormous majority of the French population.”
Citizen Frossard cannot be accused of inconsistency. During his brief stay in the Right Wing of the Communist Party of France, he was just as much opposed to the united front with the Social-Democratic Party as now, when he occupies a place in the Right Wing of French Social-Democracy, fulfilling the function of connecting link with the Neo-Socialists and fulminating against the united front with the Communist Party. It was this same Frossard who, while still in the ranks of the Communist Party of France, wrote as follows against the leadership of the Communist International, against its directives for the struggle for the united front:
“For the international Communist front the following holds true: The bridges have been broken; we shall not restore them, nay, not even by coming to terms shall we make this appear desirable in the eyes of the masses.”
Now, too, Frossard wants to break down the bridges between Social-Democratic and Communist workers, though it is now from the other bank that he is trying to do this. We do not want to force our organizational principles upon the Social-Democratic Parties, but we cannot avoid mentioning that we Communists did not tolerate in our ranks such an attitude to the united front, to the fighting unity of the working class.
Now, however, let us come to the point, to the question whether the unity of action of the working class, the fighting unity of the Social-Democratic workers with the Communist workers is repelling all democratic elements from the working class. Under the term “democratic elements” we are to understand the urban petty bourgeoisie, poor and middle peasants, office employes and professional men.
The Social-Democratic worker, or even the Social-Democratic functionary, whose mental horizon is not limited by the frontiers of his own country, would do well to begin by comparing the successes of the Social-Democratic and of the Communist policy in the ranks of these democratic elements on the basis of concrete examples — Russia on the one hand and on the other hand, Germany and Austria.
The revolutionary policy of the Russian proletariat under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party has made it possible for the Russian working class, numerically a very small proletariat, to lead dozens of millions of poor and middle peasants, broad strata of the office employes and a part of the intelligentsia into the struggle against the big bourgeoisie, the feudal nobility, into the struggle for the power of the proletariat. Today, thanks to the Bolshevik policy, the great majority of the poor and middle peasants in the Soviet Union are collective farmers, conscious builders of the socialist economy. The urban petty bourgeoisie in the Soviet Union are freed from the exploitation of the banks and cartels, united in industrial co-operatives by means of assistance, financial and otherwise, from the state. With tremendous exertions the Bolsheviks have succeeded in saving large sections of the old intelligentsia for socialism. It would be absurd to assert today, as was alleged by many Social-Democrats formerly, that a working class comparatively small in number and the still smaller Bolshevik Party are capable of directing a state and of building up a new socialist economy by means of terror, against the will of the great majority of the population. On the contrary, it has only been possible to carry out this task because the Communist Party has known how to pursue a correct policy in relation to the middle classes. It has been able to do so precisely because the majority of the working class, nay the whole proletariat, has been and is behind it. Only because of this has it been able to throw into the scale the strength of the whole working class in order to lead the middle strata in town and country and to make concessions to the peasantry when the economic situation, the relation of forces between classes, rendered this necessary.
Why has not the relation of the middle strata in town and country toward the working class been the same in Germany and Austria as in Russia? Why did not the broad strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie, of the poor and middle peasantry, take the side of the proletariat when the question of the struggle between labor and capital was raised? Why did they take the side of the fascists, of finance capital, of the great landowners?
The Social-Democratic Parties in Germany and Austria have alleged that the tactics of the Communists repel the petty bourgeois strata in town and country from the working class. We Communists have already said: The petty bourgeois policy of the Social-Democratic Parties renders it impossible to draw over the urban and rural middle strata to the side of the proletariat.
And we repeat now that precisely the petty bourgeois policy of the Social-Democratic Parties was mainly responsible for the fact that these strata have been repelled from the working class, in contrast to Russia, where the proletarian policy of the Bolsheviks against capital, against the big landowners, has drawn these strata into the struggle against capitalism.
What is the peculiarity of the petty-bourgeois policy? Shortly expressed, it is: vacillation between labor and capital, vacillation between the struggle for the interests of the toilers against capital and the defense of capitalist private property against the proletariat! From this vacillation it follows that the petty-bourgeoisie would like to avoid the class struggle and wants to reconcile the interests of labor and capital. Such reconciliation, however, is impossible. This is shown not least by the so-called abolition of the class struggle by the National-Socialists in Germany, which has led only to a tremendous accentuation of class contradictions.
By striving to attain a reconciliation between capital and labor, the petty-bourgeois policy serves the capitalist class, which is interested in seeing that the workers do not wage a class struggle. It is just this which constitutes the reactionary element in the petty-bourgeois policy.
What was the result of the petty-bourgeois policy of Social-Democracy in Germany?
What Happened in Germany?
It did not deal a death blow at monopoly capital, the banks, the factory owners, the Junkers; it showed that it desired peaceful collaboration between all classes and all social strata of the Weimar Republic. It therefore placed itself on the side of the bourgeoisie against the working class. This alone provided a basis for the policy of Noske, Ebert, Zoergiebel and Wels. Social-Democracy participated in the bourgeois governments; it “tolerated” the bourgeois government. Whom did the Social-Democratic Party of Germany tolerate? The governments which looked after the business of big capital and the Junkers and which also exploited the petty bourgeoisie and small peasants. This petty-bourgeois policy of Social-Democracy with the big capitalists and big agrarians thus denotes a collaboration not only with the class enemy of the proletariat, but also with the enemies of the urban petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry.
It is true that the Communists have said hard things about the Social-Democratic Party; they have said that it pursues a petty-bourgeois policy which is directed against the working class but also against the middle classes. The Communist Party has put forward and steadfastly upheld a proletarian policy against the common enemies of the working class and of the middle strata, against the trust magnates, against the big agrarians. It wanted united action on the part of all workers and all middle-class elements against capitalism. The German working class was not split on the question of whether it should join hands with the middle-class elements against capitalism, but on the question of whether it should collaborate with the big bourgeoisie in the interests of big capital, the enemy of the workers and of the middle classes. This collaboration of Social-Democracy with capital has not only split the working class, but has also driven the middle class to the side of capital.
Cites Events in Austria
The effects of a petty-bourgeois policy on the relation between the proletariat and the middle classes in town and country may be seen still more clearly in the case of Austria.
Austrian Social-Democracy veiled its policy with revolutionary phrases. It declared that its main reason for rejecting the Bolshevik policy was that this policy repelled the petty-bourgeois masses from the workers. It even proclaimed that it would realize Socialism through its policy in Vienna. It boasted of the fact that by means of the taxation policy of the well-known Viennese City Councillor, Breitner, the costs of “socialist construction” would be covered without the expropriation of the capitalist enterprises. What actually took place? It was unable with its “democratic socialism” to destroy the sources of capitalist exploitation, of the unearned income of the capitalists. The famous progressive taxation, by means of which Breitner tried to cover the costs of the Viennese municipal policy, did not touch one hair on the head of the Rothschilds; whereas the banking house of Rothschild, with the aid of Social-Democracy, was subsidized at the expense of the small taxpayer. This was also the reason why the small man — the innkeeper, the small shopkeeper, the small tradesman, the small pension-holder, the small and middle peasant — went over into the camp of the National-Socialists, or, into that of the Heimwehr, of the “Patriotic Front.” The Austrian Social-Democrats were also prone to regard the municipal enterprises of Vienna as “a piece of Socialism.” But the great municipal enterprise did not compete with the great capitalists; the latter have even pocketed a fair portion of the profits of these concerns through their banks and through their business connections with the Arbeiterbank. “Democratic Socialism” was unable and unwilling to touch capitalist private property, and this petty-bourgeois policy was incapable of winning over the petty-bourgeoisie to the side of the working class.
Agrarian Policy Petty-Bourgeois
The agrarian policy of Austrian Social-Democracy was likewise a petty-bourgeois policy, since it protected the interests of the rich peasants, who formed a community of interests with the big landowners which was bound in practice to work out against the agricultural laborers, the poor and middle peasants. In order “not to repel” the rich peasants (the village bourgeoisie) the Austrian Social-Democrats, when they were in power, did not expropriate the big landowners for the benefit of the poor and middle peasants. They pursued a taxation and credit policy in the court ryside which likewise spared the rich peasants and big landowners.
This petty-bourgeois policy, which left big capital and big landownership untouched, did not give the urban and rural middle classes what both wanted to attain. It could not give it, for this could only be won at the expense of big capital, of the big landlords, of the urban and rural bourgeoisie. This policy has driven large sections of the middle classes in Austria into the camp of fascism.
Class Collaboration With Enemies
On top of all this in both countries came the splitting of the working class in consequence of the class collaboration of Social-Democracy with the enemies not only of the proletariat, but also of the middle classes. A split working class could not summon sufficient strength to make it clear to the middle classes that the latter, in alliance with the working class, could assert their interests against big capital, against the big agrarians. This was the main reason why it was possible for the big capitalists and big agrarians, through the fascist parties, to make use of the anti-capitalist sentiments of the small tradesmen, small shopkeepers, small pension-holders, poor and middle peasants, office employees, etc., in the interests of capitalist private property and of the bourgeois state.
The example of the joint demonstrations of Social-Democratic and Communist workers since February 6, 1934, in France shows that it is not the fascist organizations, but precisely the working class which gains influence among the middle classes as a result of united action by the two parties.
The proletarian revolutionary policy, resolute revolutionary action against capital by means of a firm united front of the working class paralyzes the vacillations of the middle strata and wins over sections of them for the struggle. The petty-bourgeois policy, on the other hand, the policy of reconciliation with capital drives the middle strata into the camp of fascism.
Every Social-Democratic worker or functionary can decide whether the unity of action of the Social-Democratic Parties with the Communist Parties against big capital, against the big agrarians repels the petty-bourgeois strata or draws them into the struggle.
“The Intentions of the Communists Cannot Be Honest”
The Right Social-Democrats in France, Vandervelde in Belgium and Otto Bauer in Prague, all Social Democratic papers repeat this assertion in the most varied keys.
They try to bolster up this absolutely unfounded statement by two further allegations.
Firstly, that the Communist Party of France expelled Doroit because he supported the united front;
Secondly, that the offers made by the Communist Parties to the Social-Democratic Parties represented “orders from Moscow.”
This, then, is why the Social-Democratic worker is to be mistrustful of the idea of unity of action together with his Communist class comrades against the bourgeoisie.
C. P. Seeks No Middle Course
We Communists consider it very important that a relation of mutual trust should be established between us and the Social-Democratic workers, as is necessary among members of one aim and the same class. One proof of the fact that our offers for unity of action with the Social-Democratic workers are straightforward and honestly meant is that we declare in advance to the Social-Democratic Parties that the Communist Parties refuse to surrender so much as a syllable of their fundamental standpoint on any single question. We declare openly that our persistant striving for the unity of action of the working class does not mean for a moment that we are looking for a middle course between Social-Democracy and Communism, between reformism and revolutionary tactics, or that we would be disposed to adopt such a middle course. We hold that unity of action for the immediate interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie, that the common struggle against the immediate dangers with which the capitalists are threatening all the toilers, is possible at once. This common struggle can be begun without delay, without waiting for the Social-Democratic workers to adopt our program and tactics in their entirety.
Nor do we seek to make a secret of the fact that the Communist Parties of the individual countries are centralized and united in one single world party, in the Communist International. This does not, of course, mean that the leadership of the Communist International itself decides all questions confronting the individual Communist Parties. It is obvious, however, that the decisions of the individual Communist Parties are arrived at on the basis of the program, of the Congress decisions and the resolutions of the Plenums of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
C. I. Guides Individual Parties
One need not be a detective in order to discover that the offers made by the individual Communist Parties to the Social-Democratic Parties, with a view to establishing unity of action have been made on the basis of the decisions of the Communist International.
Any Social-Democratic worker can convince himself by the study of a public document that the Executive Committee of the Communist International on March 5, 1933, immediately after Hitler’s advent to power, recommended its sections to address proposals to the Social-Democratic Party leaders in order that the Social-Democratic and Communist workers might together wage the struggle against fascism and against the offensive of capital. Here is the text of this proposal:
“In the face of fascism, which is attacking the working class of Germany and unleashing all the forces of world reaction, the Executive Committee of the Communist International calls upon all Communist Parties to make one more attempt to establish a united front together with the Social-Democratic working masses through the medium of the Social-Democratic parties. The E. C. C. I. is making this attempt in the firm conviction that the united front of the working class for the struggle against the bourgeoisie would repulse the offensive of capital and of fascism and would hasten on to an extreme degree the inevitable end of all capitalist exploitation.
“In view of the peculiar conditions of individual countries and the difference of the concrete tasks of struggle confronting the working class in each one of them, agreements between the Communist Parties and the Social-Democratic Parties for definite actions against the bourgeoisie can be effected most successfully within the bounds of the individual countries. The E. C. C. I. therefore recommends the Communist Parties to put forward proposals to the respective Central Committees of the Social-Democratic Parties affiliated to the Socialist International regarding joint actions against fascism and the offensive of capital.”
Thus if “Moscow” means the leadership of the Communist International and not the Soviet government, then indeed the initiative in this matter comes from “Moscow.”
Why Was Doriot Expelled
How, then, can we explain the alleged fact that Doriot was expelled from the Communist Party of France because he was in favor of unity of action — though it is worth noting that he poured out his heart before the correspondent of the fascist Matin, instead of lodging his complaints in “Moscow.” If it were true that Doriot had been expelled because he was in favor of the united front, the leadership of the Communist International, “gave orders” for the united front proposals, would surely have received him with open arms and trumpets.
So there must really be something wrong here. Something must be wrong for the simple reason that Doriot wanted not the united front with the Social-Democratic Party but something quite different, on account of which it was impossible for him to remain in the Communist Party.
What did Doriot want? He wanted the Communist Party of France to pursue a Social-Democratic policy! How else are we to explain the great sympathies felt for Doriot by the Social-Democratic Party leaders?
Doriot Distorted C. P. Plan
What did Doriot do? He distorted the plan of action of the Communist Party of France for the establishment of unity of action; he distorted it in order to use it against the Party; he gave it out as his own plan and on the basis of this plan tried to incriminate the leadership of the C. P. of France of being against unity of action at a time when Communists and Social-Democratic workers were victoriously defying the attacks of fascism in a united front of struggle on the streets of Paris. He wanted to disintegrate the C. P. of France. How else can we explain the sympathies felt for Doriot by the Trotskyites, who want to disintegrate the Communist Party?
What did Doriot do besides? He violated revolutionary discipline, Party democracy. He acted contrary to the decisions of the great majority of the Party. He set his district against the whole Party. He addressed himself to the bourgeois press, to the Social-Democratic leaders, instead of applying to the Party Conference and there submitting himself and his views to the judgment of the representatives of the whole Party. He tried to split the revolutionary party of the French proletariat. How else can we explain the sympathy felt by the whole bourgeois press, which fears revolution like the plague, for Doriot, who has audaciously followed the path of Briand, Millerand and Viviani — these ex-socialists who looked after the business of the French bourgeoisie as prime ministers of the republic?
How the C. P. Functions
The Communist Party is not a compulsory society; it is based on the voluntary obligation of its members to pursue a revolutionary class policy on the basis of the program of the Communist International and to subject themselves to revolutionary discipline and to the decisions of the majority of the Party.
It has never occurred to us Communists to demand of the Social-Democrats as a condition of unity of action that they should accept our principles and subject themselves to our Party discipline, to the decisions of the majority of our Party. But all the more do we demand this of the members of our Party and all the more yet of such Party members as occupy leading posts in the Communist movement.
The expulsion of Doriot does not show that the Communists are not sincere. It shows, on the contrary that the Communists take seriously what they say and what they write, no matter whether it is a question of the internal affairs of their own Party or of agreements with other Parties.
“Why Just Now?”
We must deal with yet another attempt which is aimed at awakening mistrust among the Social-Democratic workers against unity of action.
The agreement arrived at between the Communist Party of France and the Socialist Party was received by the leaders of the Second International in a way which cannot even be described as “making the best of a bad job”!
The chairman of the Second International, the leader of the Belgian Labor Party, Emile Vandervelde, wrote as follows in his article in Le Peuple, entitled “The International and the Communists” on July 22, 1934:
“The acceptance by our French comrades of the proposal made by the Communist Party for joint action against fascism and war is an event whose range goes far beyond the bounds of the Socialist Party of France. I may say at once that I am in perfect agreement with Leon Blum, Paul Faure and Lebas when I confess that it would have been morally impossible for them to answer this offer with a blank refusal. However, if we bear in mind what was happening only yesterday, the astounding VOLTE-FACE in Communist tactics gives us grounds for justified mistrust.”
What interests us here is not Vandervelde’s opinion to the effect that Leon Blum, Paul Faure and Lebas only accepted under “moral pressure” the offer of the Communist Party for common struggle against fascism and imperialist war. This statement of his must be answered by the leaders of the French Socialists. What we want to deal with here is Vandervelde’s assertion regarding an “astounding volte-face in Communist tactics” which in his opinion consists in the fact that the Communist Parties have made offers to the leaders of the Social-Democratic Parties with the aim of establishing unity of action.
Nothing Daunts Communists
If Vandervelde is surprised by the patience, by the pertinacity of the Communists in the struggle for unity of action, then he only shows how ill acquainted with the Communists he is. No difficulty, however great, can cause the Communists to give up the struggle for the united front before state power has been won. But if Vandervelde wants to make the Social-Democratic workers believe that it is only in this year that the Communists have made such offers to the Social-Democratic Party leaders, this denotes something more than ignorance; it denotes a definite malicious intention — to sow mistrust among the Social-Democratic workers by hushing up facts which cannot be done away with.
We do not want to go back to the more distant past of ten or twelve years ago, when the Communists proposed common actions against Italian fascism and their proposals were rejected by the Second International. We will take only one or two examples from the more recent past of the international labor movement — examples which show that the Communists have not neglected opportunities of making proposals to the Social-Democratic Parties for common actions against the common class enemy.
Only one or two examples:
Cites Actions in Berlin
In face of the growing advance of the fascist danger, the Berlin district leadership of the Communist Party of Germany addressed itself, in June 1932, to the Berlin district leadership of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, making proposals for common actions against fascism in Berlin. On the day of the coup d’etat of Von Papen, the German Communists, on July 20, applied to the headquarters of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany and of the German General Confederation of Trade Unions with a view to joint resistance to the fascist terror. When the German bourgeoisie placed power in the hands of Hitler, the Communist Party of Germany, on January 30, 1933, once again applied to the headquarters of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany and of the German General Confederation of Trade Unions with a similar united front proposal aimed at the organizing of a general strike.
All these united front proposals were answered by the Social-Democratic Party and the reformist trade union leaders with a blank refusal.
The pretext for rejecting these united front proposals was most clearly expressed by the former Social-Democratic Reichstag President, Loebe, when he declared:
“We Social-Democrats will not undertake anything so long as the government (i.e., the Hitler government — B. K.) remains on a constitutional basis.”
Hitler has “constitutionally” thrown the constitution to the four winds. The refusal of the leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany and of the German General Confederation of Trade Unions to use the general strike against Hitler, to establish the unity of action of the German working class against the German bourgeoisie, paralyzed the forces of the German labor movement at the critical historical moment and aided Hitler to get into power.
Socialist Party Leaders Rejected Unity
If Vandervelde has forgotten it, we can remind the Social-Democratic workers of how some Social-Democratic Parties and Party leaders rejected the united front proposals of the Communist Parties which were made on the basis of the appeal of the Communist International of March 5, 1933. The leaders of the British Labor Party answered as follows in reply to the proposal for a united front against Hitler and against the offensive of capital in March, 1933:
“Workers everywhere should strengthen the Labor Party — the spearhead of political power against dictators, fascist or Communist. By solid unity in industrial, economic, and political movements — powerful because they are democratic — British workers can secure their own rights against the ambitious designs of any would-be dictators there may be here at home, and give powerful encouragement to the forces of Democratic Socialism throughout the world.” (Daily Herald, March, 1933.)
In order to obtain an idea of how the “forces of democratic socialism” have been strengthened by the policy of the English Labor Party, of how they have fought against Hitler, one should read the organ of German Social-Democracy, Deutsche Freiheit (June 15, 1934), where the following comment is made on the policy of the Labor Party in regard to Germany:
“For some time past it has been a part of the ever more incomprehensible foreign policy of the labor paper (i.e., The Daily Herald — B.K.) to offer its assistance to the fascist governments in Germany and Italy. Mr. Ewer, foreign political editor of this paper, after a short journey through Germany and Italy, has now been singing hymns of praise in honor of Mussolini and pledged himself for Hitler’s true love of peace. Even the Storm Troops are described by him as a perfectly harmless and peaceful organization. It would seem that the Labor Party does not yet recognize the great dangers involved in such delusion by its own paper. In foreign politics at the present time it is unfortunately more or less leaderless.”
The other Social-Democratic Parties have also rejected the united front proposals of the Communist Parties on the basis of the decision of the leadership of the Second International. This decision says that the Social-Democratic Parties should not conduct any negotiations with the Communist Parties in individual countries.
More than a year of struggle was required before the Social-Democratic Parties in France, in Austria and in the Saar region declared themselves ready for common action with the Communist Parties against fascism.
Can it then be regarded as an “astounding volte-face in Communist tactics” if, after the new lessons which the international working class has received, above all by the defeat of the Austrian workers in February 1934, the Communist Parties have renewed their proposals to the Social-Democratic Parties for a united front against fascism.
Instead of fostering mistrust against unity of action, the Social-Democratic workers would do better to study the question of why the united front was not immediately established, at any rate after Hitler’s advent to power. They would do well to examine the reasons why the establishment of the united front against fascism was completely frustrated in 1933 and why the struggle for this united front in 1934 has produced some successes, if only initial ones.
After March 5, 1933, the Communist Parties made the proposal that the Social-Democratic and Communist Parties should fight together against German fascism, against fascism in their own countries, against the offensive of capital.
Instead of aiming at a direct struggle against German fascism and fascism in their own countries, the Social-Democratic Parties aimed at the foreign political isolation of German fascism; they undertook to achieve this isolation of Hitler Germany together with their own bourgeoisie. This was the time when in England no other than Chamberlain delivered a great speech against Hitler Germany. In France there was strong feeling in favor of a preventive war against Germany. In Austria there was an immediate strengthening of the French orientation in foreign politics and Social-Democracy treated Dollfuss as the “lesser evil.” In Czecho-Slovakia a struggle was waged against German Nazi fascism in alliance with Czech fascist groups. In Poland there was a strong orientation against Hitler Germany. This was the time when international Social-Democracy conducted a rabid campaign against the Soviet Union because “the Red Army did not march,” and placed the proletarian dictatorship in the Soviet Union on a par with the fascist dictatorship in Hitler Germany.
The Second and Amsterdam Internationals declared a boycott against goods from Hitler Germany, without, however, taking any serious steps to put this boycott into effect.
Change of International Situation
Instead of a common struggle of the Social-Democratic Parties together with the Communists against the bourgeoisie in their own countries and against German fascism, the Social-Democratic leaders taught the Social-Democratic workers to put their trust in the isolation of Hitler Germany, which was to be achieved together with the bourgeoisie in their own countries. This was the principal reason why we Communists did not succeed in achieving unity of action with our united front proposals made on the basis of the appeal of the Communist International of March 3, 1933.
Meanwhile, however, there came a change in the international situation — a change which gave direct proof to the Social-Democratic workers of the absolute necessity of unity of action.
This change came about above all at the beginning of this year. The principal symptoms of this change in the situation have been the following:
1. In England there was a change in the relation of English imperialism towards fascism in Germany. Democratic England for a time became the real protector of Hitter Germany. Fresh signs of disintegration appeared in the system of the French bloc. This was shown in the reorientation of Poland towards Hitler Germany and in vacillations on the part of Belgium in favor of Germany on the question of the arming of German imperialism. The collaboration between Germany and Japan and the danger it represents for peace likewise became clearer to the masses of workers. It has also become clearer for most Social-Democratic workers that, despite the rabid campaign of the Second International, the Soviet Union is the only state which is really defying German fascism. All this has proved to the working masses that the policy of teaching the working class to put its trust in the foreign political isolation of Germany, instead of conducting a struggle against German fascism and fascism in all countries, is bluff, or, at best, an illusion.
Heroism of German C. P.
2. A further factor in bringing about a change in the mood of the workers in favor of the united front has been the heroic. struggle of the Communist Party of Germany against the Hitler dictatorship, as also the heroic struggle of Dimitrov in Leipzig against the fascist regime — a struggle waged on behalf of the Communist International, on behalf of the Communist Party of Germany and on behalf of the whole working class.
3. Moreover, the further advance along the road to fascization made by the bourgeois democratic states in a number of countries and the breakdown of parliamentary methods against this fascization have opened the eyes of many Social-Democratic workers and thus encouraged the struggle for unity of action. We need only give one or two examples: France — the offensive of fascist organizations and the introduction of the emergency decree system; Czecho-Slovakia — emergency decree regime not only against the German Nazis, but also in the whole sphere of social policy, based on the Czech fascist movements; Belgium — plenary power to act for the government; England — the offensive of the fascist Mosley aided by the newspaper king, Lord Rothermere; Switzerland — the Haeberlin bill against the labor movement and the growing activity of the fascist fronts; advances of the fascists in all Baltic and Balkan countries. In all these countries there has been an increasingly rapid growth of the urge to unity among the workers.
Burial of the Boycott
4. We should also mention the tacit and unhonored burial of the boycott against goods from Hitler Germany. We Communists had predicted that this boycott of goods would not be carried into effect and that the agitation for this boycott would only be carried on so long as the interests of the bourgeoisie in the various countries permitted it. The bankruptcy of the idea of a boycott against goods from Hitler Germany has proved the necessity of a revolutionary struggle against fascism.
5. However, the most important factor causing a change of feeling among the broadest masses of the working class was the collapse of Austrian Social-Democracy in February this year. In Austria it was not only one Social-Democratic Party which collapsed — a party which had boasted of having invented “western methods” of building socialism, involving no sacrifices on the part of the workers. In Austria a clear proof was provided that the unity of a great and powerful Social-Democratic Party does not yet denote the unity of the working class, and that strong militant unity of the working class can only be achieved if the workers in political and trade union organizations reject all class collaboration with the bourgeoisie.
All these phenomena today are to a large extent facts of experience for the Social-Democratic workers and those in reformist organizations, and even for many Social-Democratic and trade union functionaries. The presence of such facts of experience has enabled us to repeat our offers of a united front and has yielded the first successes of these proposals.
Address Unity Proposals
In accordance with our program we have effected a turn in our tactics by so altering the form of our struggle as to address our proposals for unity of action not only to the Social-Democratic workers but also to the leaders of the Social-Democratic Parties.
A Social-Democratic worker, however, may raise the question: “That is all very well, but why did you Communists not make such offers to the Social-Democratic Parties before the fascist danger in Germany was an immediate one?
Why did you not make such proposals before?”
We answer as follows:
Try to imagine what would have been the answer given to our united front proposals by the Prussian Prime Minister Otto Braun, by the German Minister of the Interior Severing, by the Police Presidents Zorgiebel and Grzesinski. All these Social-Democratic leaders have directly served the German bourgeoisie, and the whole apparatus of the Germany Social-Democratic Party was completely merged with the state apparatus of the German bourgeoisie, of German capitalism. To propose a united front at that time to the party leadership of Wels, Severing, Braun, Leipart and the rest, would indeed have been purely a maneuver designed to unmask them; it would have had no other purpose than to show the workers that the Social-Democratic Party, which directly minded the business of the German bourgeoisie, and was directly merged with the state apparatus of this bourgeoisie, did not want to fight together with the Communists against itself. This would not only have been a maneuver; it would have been a stupid maneuver.
The unity of action of the Communist Parties with the Social-Democratic Parties is not possible at any given moment. We Communists do not, under any circumstances, favor a united front only from above, a collaboration of the “party chiefs” behind the backs of the masses. We are always and under all circumstances in favor of common struggle of the Social-Democratic and Communist workers, of the united front from below, and, when this is possible, we favor collaboration with the Social-Democratic Parties on the basis of a concrete program against the bourgeoisie.
Vandervelde knows this very well. He knows the difficulties which arise for the Second International. too, from such a situation, and that is why he could not make the best of the “bad job” which the French Socialists did.
In his article he writes:
“It must at any rate not be kept a secret that before the executive of the Socialist and Labor International things will doubtless not go so smoothly as in the National Council of the Socialist Party of France.”
Vandervelde has good grounds for fearing the discussions in the Second International over the question of unity of action.
Cites Austrian Unity Action
It will be very difficult to arrive at a united opinion within the Second International on the unity of action between the Communist Party of Austria and the Austrian revolutionary socialists. The common struggle of the Communists and revolutionary Socialists, which came about against the will of the leaders of the former Social-Democratic Party, is being conducted under the slogan of the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. The Social-Democratic Parties represented in the Second International are such parties as have seats in bourgeois governments, as for example in Sweden and Denmark, or such as are just preparing to take over the ship of state from the bourgeoisie, as for example the British Labor Party. All these Social-Democratic Parties and others as well are opposed in principle to the dictatorship of the proletariat; they make no difference between proletarian dictatorship and the fascist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
Will such parties as these be able to tolerate the unity of action of the Social-Democratic Parties with the Communist Parties in France, in the Saar region, and of the revolutionary Socialists with the Communists in Austria? The answer to this will be given in the near future, but we are of the opinion that they will not. They will not tolerate it even if Vandervelde and other leaders of the Second International discover a formula for diplomatic reconciliation. But whatever the Second International may decide, the Communists stand fast by their program; they will carry on the struggle for the unity of action of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. In these struggles the splitting of the working class will be overcome and the unity of the labor movement achieved!
For the Unity of the Labor Movement
What stood and still stands in the way of establishing the unity of action of the workers? What directly or indirectly has kept many Social-Democratic workers from grasping the honestly offered hand of the Communist Parties in order to fight together shoulder to shoulder with their Communist class comrades against the common enemy?
Leon Blum as Witness
We produce a witness of whom no one can allege that he sympathizes with the Communists. This witness is the most acknowledged leader of French Social-Democracy and of the Second International — Leon Blum. In the Populaire of July 11 he made the following admission in regard to this question:
“For years on end, when unity of action was spoken of, we always thought and declared: ‘No, not unity of action but organizational unity’ (‘unite organique’), and we have tried to evade and defer all contact aimed at partial or occasional unity till the day when complete and perfect unity is considered possible. I, myself, was also of this opinion and have spoken in this sense. I have a feeling that today this view is no longer justified and that one cannot extricate oneself from the difficulty by this simple act of evasion.”
May we not say that this confession of Leon Blum’s is a confession of a system of prolonged sabotage against the unity of action of the working class against the attacks of the class enemy, of the fascist and semi-fascist bourgeoisie? Can we not say that our united front tactics have always been seriously and honestly intended, as the program of the Communist International says, “as a means toward achieving success in the struggle against capital, toward the class mobilization of the masses, and the exposure and isolation of the reformist leaders,” who prevent the class mobilization of the masses, the successful struggle against capital and victory over capitalism? Were the proposals of the Communist Party of Germany to the German General Confederation of Trade Unions and the Social-Democratic Party of Germany in July, 1932 and January, 1933, the proposals to call a general strike in order to prevent Hitler’s advent to power, Communist maneuvers? Was the proposal of the Communist Party of Austria to the Social-Democratic Party of Austria of March, 1933 for the prevention of the Dollfuss dictatorship, a Communist maneuver? Was the appeal of the Communist International of March 5, 1933, “for the establishment of the united front of struggle with the Social-Democratic working masses through the medium of the Social-Democratic Parties” a Communist maneuver?
Leon Blum informs us how these proposals were “evaded” when he declares now, after the victory of fascism in Germany and Austria:
“It seems impossible to me today to put forward organizational unity as a method of evading unity of action.”
“Today”! The confession comes late, but not too late. There is still time to prevent the victory of fascism in many countries, if one does not “evade” the question of unity of action. The unity of action of the French proletariat on the basis of the offer made by the C. P. of France, which was finally accepted and not evaded by French Social-Democracy, is a sign that the French bourgeoisie will not be able to introduce concentration camps on the fascist model for the French proletariat.
Otto Bauer Against Unity of Action
Otto Bauer, once the leader of the great majority of the Austrian working class, puts the question as follows: Not unity of action, but organizational unity of the labor movement. This means he is aiming at the reunification, after its collapse, of the Social-Democratic Party of Austria. Up to the February days of this year Otto Bauer prevented unity of action by answering every offer of the Communist Party of Austria with the words that the unity of the Austrian labor movement was embodied in the Social-Democratic Party of Austria. Times have changed and the relation of forces between the Communist Party and Social-Democracy has changed too — even Otto Bauer must admit that. But he still continues along the old line; under the pretext of uniting the revolutionary forces he wants the reunification of the bankrupt Social-Democratic Party, that is to say, prolonging the split under the new conditions of fascist dictatorship in Austria.
In an article published in the Arbeiterzeitung, now appearing in Brunn, he writes:
“The great majority of the Austrian workers all think alike. Ninety per cent of the workers want irreconcilable revolutionary struggle against fascist dictatorship. Ninety per cent of the workers are convinced that the goal of this revolutionary struggle must be a dictatorship of the proletariat, which shall settle accounts with the murderers of the workers, demolish their apparatus of rule, distribute the estates of the aristocrats, the capitalists and the church among the agricultural laborers, the small tenants and peasants’ sons, socialize the big undertakings and enterprises now in possession of big capital, and not until then, when it has fulfilled these historical tasks, set up a commonwealth of freedom and equality for all. Ninety per cent of the workers are agreed in the recognition of the goal and of the way that leads to it. We have unity of thought. This demands also unity of organization. It makes possible the unity of the party.”
We agree with those Social-Democratic workers who honestly think that the working class in the various countries is ever more sharply confronted, not only with the question of unity of action but also with the problem of the organizational unity of the labor movement. If one really wants to prevent fascism, to destroy its source — capitalism, if one wants to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie, this requires not only a “partial and occasional” unity of action but the organization of all revolutionary workers in one party and the rallying together of the majority of the proletariat, nay, of the majority of the whole toiling people, under the banners of this revolutionary workers’ party.
For Overthrow of Capitalism
We Communists hold that the overthrow of capitalism is on the order of the day. In different countries the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism is being conducted on a different level of development, but the objective conditions for this struggle are everywhere maturing.
When we untiringly called upon the workers, no matter to what Party or organization they might belong, when we called upon the Social-Democratic Parties and reformist trade unions to engage in joint actions with us, we always declared:
Form the united front together with us against capital, against its attacks on the toilers, against fascism and the imperialist war which is threatening. Do this no matter what may divide you from us in questions of principle and tactics. We steadfastly adhere to the view that the founding of the Communist Parties and of the Communist International was the first step to unifying the working class on the basis of the class struggle after this basis had been deserted by the Social-Democratic Parties. But we know that the Party is not the whole class; you workers, no matter of what organization, belong to the same class as we, to the class as whose representatives we regard the Communist Parties. The unity of action of the workers against the emergency of the hour, against fascism which is threatening all of us directly or which has already burst upon us, also leads to overcoming the splitting of the labor movement and to establishing organizational unity in it. If you want organizational unity, then first realize unity of action.
Great Single Mass Party
We Communists thus stand for the organizational unity of the labor movement; we stand for a great single mass Party of the proletariat. We think, we hope, that the great majority of the Austrian workers, after the heavy price they have paid for the lessons of the February struggles, really do think alike. We believe that 90 per cent of the Austrian workers already want the irreconcilable revolutionary struggle, also against those who in the hour of the outbreak of the armed struggle sent Christian-Socialist mediators to Dollfuss, the hangmen of the workers, and were willing to recognize the fascist dictatorship for a term of two years. We think that 90 per cent of the workers in Austria are convinced that the goal of a revolutionary struggle is not “a” dictatorship of the proletariat, as Otto Bauer writes, but the dictatorship of the proletariat which the Communist Party of Austria, on the basis of the program of the Communist International, has set the Austrian proletarians as the goal of their struggle. This program, the program of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the armed struggle for this dictatorship has already — as Otto Bauer must himself acknowledge — organizationally united thousands of former Social-Democratic workers, including leading functionaries, in the most difficult conditions of illegality for revolutionary struggle in the Communist Party of Austria. What, then, stands in the way of uniting the labor movement in Austria? The endeavors of those who are compelled, made wise by the palpable experiences of history, to acknowledge the dictatorship of the proletariat, but who want to prevent a uniting of the Austrian workers on the basis of the program of struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat which has already been recognized by the Austrian working class, and who even hinder unity of action for more immediate aims.
In various countries there is a different situation in regard to the organizational unity of the labor movement. How far the tactics of one or the other party, of the Communists or Social-Democratic Party, are correct in the common struggle of the working class against the common class enemy — this is being tested by the historical experience of the workers. We Communists have never supposed it possible to overcome the split in the labor movement through organizational union otherwise than by way of the persuading and self-determination of the working masses as to which theory, strategy and tactics are correct — those of the Communists or those of the Social-Democrats.
When unity of action of the Social-Democratic and Communist workers is required for concrete but limited aims of struggle, the Communists say that the working class needs the united front in order to fight against the bourgeois and not in order to collaborate with the bourgeoisie; each remains in his own party but fights in common against the common enemy. But if it is a question of organizational unity, then the Communists say: The working class needs unity in order to conquer the bourgeoisie and not in order to attain a respite, an extra breathing-space for capitalism. In this respect too, the Communists are true to the words of Marx: they do not conceal their aims, they do not manoeuvre in regard to their class comrades. They say quite openly before the Social-Democratic workers that they want to persuade the latter in unity of action, in the common struggle that the correct tactic is not the reformist but the revolutionary tactic; it is not coalition with the bourgeoisie which leads the working class to power, but the armed uprising at the right moment; that there is no such thing as the growing of capitalism into socialism through any spacious plans designed to convince the bourgeoisie that socialism is useful and necessary for the capitalist as well, but that it is only the dictatorship of the proletariat, destroying as it does the forces of the capitalist class, destroying its means of influencing the petty bourgeoisie and small peasant — that it is only this dictatorship of the proletariat which leads to socialism.
Unity of Action and Organizational Unity
The great majority of the working class — we have always known and said this — will be able to choose between the two theories, strategies and tactics only in common struggle. We have set ourselves the task in the program of Communist International:
“. . . To lead the masses to revolutionary positions in such a manner that the masses may, by their own experience, convince themselves of the correctness of the Party line.”
We have always said and we repeat it today: He who does not understand this is a bad Communist, an enemy of organizational unity is he who hampers the unity of action of the working class in the daily struggle against the class enemy, against capitalism.
It is no accident that Otto Bauer does not raise the question of unity of action but the problem of the re-unification of Austrian Social-Democracy, which has been not so much routed as scrapped. An idea of what this re-unification would be like may be obtained from the fact that he cannot find even words of moral indignation against those “who by their conduct in the February struggles and afterwards have lost the confidence of the comrades,” but he discovers the enemy once again on the Left Wing, about which he writes:
“It is therefore greatly to be feared that the Communist Party of Austria, upon instructions from its International, is repeating the old maneuver of speaking very eagerly about unity and the united front, but that it will pursue the end of preventing re-unification of the whole revolutionary proletariat of Austria in ONE Party.”
What Otto Bauer says is in gross contradiction to the obvious truth. Both the Communist International and the Communist Party of Austria are eager — not in words but in deeds — that the Austrian labor movement should be united. They want one trade union movement, the continuation of the free trade unions as a single trade union movement, their transformation into organs of the class struggle, the continuation of the Schutzbund as the common organ of struggle of the whole revolutionary proletariat of Austria; they want one party, to lead the forces of the whole Austrian proletariat and of all toiling and exploited sections of the population for the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship, of capitalism, for the setting up of the proletarian dictatorship of Soviet power. The Communist Party of Austria has already rallied around itself many of the most active fighters of the anti-fascist proletarian revolution in Austria. Its doors stand open to all who want to fight this battle to the end. However, Otto Bauer’s main worry is to construe a contradiction between the Communists, who were already on the right path before the February struggles, and those who took this path during the February struggles on the basis of their expariences with Social-Democracy. Where is this new argument of Otto Bauer’s on the unity of the labor movement designed to lead us?
To put it shortly: To maintaining the split in the Austrian labor movement, to splitting it afresh. The Austrian working class is striving for unity — not on the basis of the Linz program, where, instead of the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, the threat of proletarian dictatorship was included in the program. It does not seek union on the basis of a program of a former epoch which was then, in the time of Hainfeld, a great step forward, but which today cannot show it the path and the goal. The Austrian workers are looking not backward, but forward. Otto Bauer is once again working for a split in order to keep open the way to union with those who deservedly lost the confidence of the working class after the February days. The union which Otto Bauer proposes thus denotes the re-establishment of class collaboration with the Austrian bourgeoisie.
What sort of unity is required in the labor movement?
Unity of action is needed in every country, unity of action which unites the forces of the working class — no matter to what party or organization the workers may belong — for direct struggle against fascism in Germany, Austria and in all countries, unity of action which rallies them together for the defense of their interests against the offensive of capital. A unity of action which mobilizes the working class against the bourgeoisie, which gives the working class strength to lead the middle strata in town and country into the struggle against the bourgeoisie side by side with the proletariat.
Such unity of action opens the way to overcoming the split in the labor movement.