LETTER FROM THE ECCI TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE NORWEGIAN LABOUR PARTY
[ EXTRACTS ]
October 1923 Inprekorr, in, 167, p. 1425, 29 October 1923
The present leaders of the majority of your central committee have, without consulting the Comintern, called an extraordinary party congress for 2 November 1923 to discuss the differences of opinion between these leaders and the Communist International. Everything points to the conclusion that some of these leaders are aiming to split your party and to break with the Communist International. Anyone who knows the early history of the present internal struggles cannot escape this impression. None of you should forget that the present leaders of the majority, with Bull and Falk at the head, put through a resolution even before the last Christiania congress which meant a break with the Communist International, and it was only the pressure of the Norwegian workers which compelled these leaders to abandon at that time their open splitting policy. From being open they became disguised splitters.
Now they think the time has come to push things to a break.
Bull, Falk, and unfortunately comrade Tranmael also maintain that the Communist International has made mistakes on these points:
the question of a workers' and peasants' government;
the religious question; and
the question of the Red International of Labour Unions.
A WORKERS' AND PEASANTS' GOVERNMENT
The Communist International decided to issue the slogan of a workers' and peasants' government. All the parties adhering to the CI (fifty-six in all) welcomed this slogan and can already point to certain political successes in this field. All the social-democratic parties of the Second International gnashed their teeth because they realized that this slogan would open a road for the communists to the broadest masses of the workers and peasants. Now Falk and Bull (and unfortunately comrade Tranmael also) come out with the statement that this slogan may be all right for the rest of the world, but at the present time it is unacceptable for Sweden [Norway].
Not satisfied with that, they declare that the acceptance of this slogan in Norway indicates a social-democratic overvaluation of parliament and may lead to ordinary ministerial socialism.
Comrades, why should this slogan not be suitable for a country like Norway? The Norwegian party has about 60,000 members only. The small and middle peasants and the fishermen represent a very large part of the population. Anyone who really wants to defeat the bourgeoisie and fight for the power of the proletariat must seek to win these sections of the population for the proletarian cause. Only those who want a narrow craft party, who are not really interested in overthrowing the bourgeoisie and putting power into the hands of the proletariat, can be indifferent to the task of winning the peasants and fishermen. Of course, only the industrial workers can and must act as the chief factor in the socialist revolution, in Norway as elsewhere, and in the formation of a proletarian government. But they can only do that if they understand how to carry the great mass of the small peasantry and the fishermen with them in the fight against the right, against the exploiters, against the bourgeoisie.
If the Communist International is accused of a social-democratic over-estimation of parliamentarianism, we must point out that when the slogan of a workers' and peasants' government was first formulated at the meeting of the enlarged Executive, the President of the CI stated, amid general agreement, that anyone who interpreted this slogan in a parliamentary sense would be in conflict with the spirit of the Comintern.
The most important task of the Communist International is for communists to go to the villages with the slogan of a workers' and peasants' government, to conduct communist propaganda as widely as possible among the small peasants, and to stir them up for a common struggle under the leadership of the revolutionary proletariat.
Only those elements who do not hesitate to use any means to split their own party and to discredit the Communist International could distort this slogan in the way some leaders of the present majority in Norway have done.
THE RELIGIOUS QUESTION
The same is true of the religious question. How has this come about? Before the enlarged Executive the Swedish comrade Hoglund published an article which aroused general antagonism in the Comintern. Unanimously—apart from a few Swedish and Norwegian comrades—the Communist International passed a resolution which drew attention to the ABC of communism. There was no mention of our wanting to repulse religious or semi-religious workers. Communists must win the entire working class, including those workers who are still organized in the Christian trade unions. But it is axiomatic that the class-conscious section of the working class, and above all the leading ranks of our party, must fight against religious prejudices and the priesthood, and it is a disgrace that it should be necessary to have to argue this thesis.
Unfortunately, we had to remind leading comrades in the Swedish and Norwegian parties of this axiom. Their attempt to refer back to Marx on this question is more than peculiar. Every Marxist knows the phrase that religion is the opium of the world. We communists demand from the bourgeois State freedom for all religions, non-interference by the authorities in religious affairs. But that does not mean that within our party we will allow the workers to be stupefied by the fog of religion.
Comrades, read the resolution of the enlarged Executive of the Comintern, and you will see for yourselves the methods which the Bulls and the Falks use to fight against the international organization of the world proletariat.
THE RED INTERNATIONAL OF LABOUR UNIONS
The great majority of the workers in your country who are organized in trade unions are hostile to the yellow treacherous Amsterdam International and are body and soul for the Red International of Labour Unions the Profintern. But the Bulls and Falks, who are helped by Lian and Tranmael, are using every possible and impossible means to keep the Norwegian trade unions from joining the RILU. At a time when even the left wing of the Amsterdam unions is working for adherence to the RILU, at a time when new unions in the countries most important for the labour movement are daily joining the RILU, you have leaders calling themselves communists who work against it.
What is the Red International of Labour Unions?
It is the international association of all the sections of the proletariat organized in trade unions who really believe in the class struggle and are prepared to wage the fight against the bourgeoisie to the end. What reasons can honest revolutionaries have to remain outside such an international organization? Nothing but petty diplomacy explains this policy, diplomacy which represents treachery to the idea of the international association of the militant working class. . . .
People who have been active in the labour movement at the most for a couple of years, who have done nothing to prove their fidelity to the proletariat, dare to run an old and tried workers' party which they have already brought to the brink of a split.
We all know and value comrade Tranmael as an old fighter. We were prepared to make all possible personal concessions to him, but the Communist International has only the sharpest mistrust of such ambiguous elements as Falk and Hakon Meyer.
Things have already gone so far that openly alien elements not only have rights in the Norwegian workers' party but actually claim the leadership. Will the classconscious Norwegian working class go on tolerating such a degradation of its party?. . .
Tranmael's group asserts that there is too little democracy and a too rigid centralism in the Communist International. The statutes of the CI were, however, unanimously ratified by all the communist parties. The leadership of the International reports on its activities twice a year to all sections, and our parties have up to now unanimously approved this policy.
But what do the Falks, the Bulls, and unfortunately the Tranmaels also do? It was enough for an old and tried comrade to write a sharp article against Tranmael for him to be immediately and in a dictatorial fashion excluded from the party, without being given the chance of justifying his position. This does not preserve the unity of a party; it destroys it. Only those people can act in such a way for whom any method is justified if it helps to break up the party. At the last congress in Christiania the majority fraction won by two votes only. That was enough for them to use force against the minority and in practice to sabotage the decision to carry out all the decisions of the Communist International.
the decisive hour has come. Now is the time to prove your loyalty to the Communist International and to the idea of the unity of your own party. Call the splitters to order! Call to order those who do not submit to international proletarian discipline and who want to introduce among you the customs of the treacherous Second International. You must procure such a defeat for Falk and Bull, you must see that they remain in such a dwindling minority, that they will lose all desire to break up the Workers' Party. Get rid of the opportunist elements in your party and concentrate your attention on the questions which are today the most important for every thinking honest revolutionary worker in the world, above all on the German proletarian revolution. At a moment when one of the most important parties in the Communist International, our brother German party, is waging a life and death struggle, the leaders of the present majority in your party attack the Communist International from the rear. The yellow social-democrats are rubbing their hands in joy. The bourgeois parties are heaping praise on comrade Tranmael; the great mistakes he has lately made have misled him into conducting an anti-communist policy.
Unity of the party at any cost!
Real loyalty to the Communist International!
Allout support for the German proletarian revolution!
Down with the splitters and opportunists.
That should be the slogan of your congress.
Choose as delegates only those comrades who agree to abide by this slogan. Take in your own hands the fate of your party, which was created by great efforts and great sacrifices, which up to now has enjoyed great affection and respect in the Communist International, and which the splitters are now trying to destroy.