LETTER FROM THE ECCI TO THE
FRENCH COMMUNIST PARTY
[ EXTRACTS ]
September 1923 Inprekorr, iii, 149, p. 1290, 21 September 1923
The Executive of the Communist International notes with satisfaction that the decisions of the fourth world congress on the French party have been carried out by the joint efforts of the best comrades of the three fractions which previously existed.
It may be stated with certainty that it was only by the exclusion of those elements which were alien to the proletarian revolution that the vanguard of the French proletariat were able to break in fact and finally with the bourgeoisie and to ensure for themselves for the future complete freedom of political action. Co-operation with the revolutionary trade unions is proceeding satisfactorily. The struggle for the united front, which was possible once the unity of the party itself was secured, has already proved its revolutionary importance. It can be said with certainty that the continuation of this struggle in one form or another will lead to the re-establishment of trade union unity, to the recruiting of thousands and millions of workers into the trade unions, and to the party's winning the confidence of an ever-growing section of the proletariat.
Our action in this field must be taken in such a way as to deprive the socialist and syndicalist saboteurs of any opportunity of saying to the workers that our proposals for unity have only a demonstrative character or that they are only a trap. Our proposals, in keeping with our real intentions, must be formulated quite concretely.
But we must miss no opportunity of exposing pitilessly the hesitations, the sabotage, and the treachery of the official reformist leaders. The necessary balance between these two elements of our tactics can and will be established in practice.. . .
The parliamentary elections to be held next year will be the decisive factor in the French internal situation, and also for the progress of the communist party. Their significance extends far beyond the scope of the usual parliamentary mechanism.
This time, under the false forms of so-called democratic parliamentarianism, a thorough regrouping of forces and a change in the orientation of the various classes will occur.
The present Chamber was the result of the political torpidity of the war years.
Financiers, industrialists, landowners, the new rich and the old, military and parliamentary cliques—in short, all the elements that the war brought to the top—created after the victory a parliament to their own liking, the Chamber of the national bloc, of the embodiment of unfettered greed, of crude violence and vulgarity. On the other hand, this Chamber is the most gross and reactionary embodiment of the illusions which the war planted among the masses.
The chief element in these illusions was the conviction that Germany would pay.
The emptiness of that hope is obvious today.
The occupation of the Ruhr, like French policy towards Germany as a whole, is aimed at ruining Germany and making it for many years incapable of fighting—an aim more or less successfully pursued. But the impossibility of getting payments from Germany only becomes more obvious. Hence it follows that French political life depends on the budget question. By clever political and financial manoeuvres the French bourgeoisie have up to now been able to postpone collapse. But it is becoming ever clearer that the crisis is unavoidable. All the problems of French domestic policy, and to a great extent also the problems of French foreign policy, are connected with the approaching financial crisis. At the present time the political struggle consists in fact of the efforts of every class of bourgeois society to throw the financial burden on to the class below it.
The bourgeoisie as a whole . . . are determined to put the tax burden on to the workers and peasants. This makes it impossible for the present reactionary bloc of militarists and plutocrats to remain in power, for the bourgeoisie can only hope to avoid the financial crisis by plundering the working class in town and country, if the execution of this policy is entrusted to their radical and socialist hacks. That is the meaning of the left bloc which will follow the national bloc. The illusions of victory have faded. The radical bloc will try to use the illusions of pacifism and democracy for the same reactionary purposes.
The problems to be solved are too refractory, and the new orientation of the bourgeoisie too difficult for this to be carried on behind the scenes. The elections will offer the spectacle of a great fight of classes and parties, while in reality the balance of the war and of victory will be struck. There are a number of circumstances which are highly favourable to independent action by the communist party. The bourgeoisie want to make the workers and peasants bear the costs of the war. The communist party comes forward as their defender against all groups and parties of the bourgeoisie. It opposes to the national bloc and the left bloc the bloc of the working classes in town and country. The best elements in town and country must by tireless work explain the meaning of the struggle going on within the bourgeoisie between the national bloc and the left bloc.
They must show the necessity of the working class itself first uniting and then acting together with the peasants to defend the vital interests of the people which are acutely endangered by the financial crisis. . . .
During the election campaign the communist party must have nothing whatever to do with any form of parliamentary reformism and of place-hunting, even if it is clothed in revolutionary phrases. The party should put forward as candidates only those people who are able to fling in the face of bourgeois society the accusations and demands of the workers which derive from their daily life, that is, in the first place, people from the factory and the field. . . .
The slightest attempt to build a bridge between the party and the left bloc must be punished in the sight of the entire working class by expulsion, but at the same time we must show the utmost initiative and activity in uniting the various sections of the working class on a purely proletarian basis. Only such a broad and vigorous policy can give confidence to the passive elements of the working class who are at present inclined to give their votes to the reformists, not because they have confidence in them, but because the reformists are less hated than the nationalists. Only the rallying of the workers on a united basis will give the poor peasants too the incentive to seek their salvation in an alliance with the proletariat.
It is certain that the policy of our French party before and during the elections will also be of the greatest importance for the still large number of revolutionary workers who have not yet discarded their distrust of political parties as such. If these comrades see that for us the elections are only a means of carrying out the revolutionary work of rallying the masses, and that the communist party does not for a moment turn into an ordinary parliamentary party, but always remains the revolutionary force which shakes the foundation of the present system, then the ice of syndicalist mistrust will melt and our party will be strengthened by the addition of thousands of revolutionary workers steeled in the class struggle. Their confidence will be a far more important gain than the winning of a dozen seats in parliament.