LETTER

FROM THE ECCI TO THE MARSEILLE

CONGRESS OF THE FRENCH COMMUNIST PARTY

 

5 December 1921

Inprekorr, i, 43, p. 378, 31 December 1921

EXTRACTS

 

 

 

One year separates us from the Tours congress. Today there is no longer a single revolutionary who regrets the work of splitting and cleansing which was carried out there. . . .

 

The CI warmly welcomes the results of your efforts to regroup and to reorganize your federations, to build a great party of 130,000 members and to improve your press. It is only the communist party and its press which can organize resistance to

imperialism and reaction, whose stoutest pillars throughout the world are the French bourgeoisie. In this past year the party succeeded in winning steadily growing influence among the working masses and the small peasants of France.

These results, which give us great satisfaction, should not however blind us to the weaknesses and defects displayed during this first year. . . .

 

The CI must do more than send greetings and good wishes to its sections. It is its duty to point out in a fraternal fashion their weaknesses and, guided solely by the interests of the world

revolution, in closest collaboration with them to find ways of eliminating these weaknesses. In appraising the work of this first year we do not ignore the situation in which the party was left by the split at Tours. We know that a party which was

brought into such confusion during the war cannot become communist overnight by passing resolutions at a congress. The voting at Tours indicated the will of the party to become a communist party. Therefore this first year had to display a

constant effort and steady work to impart to the party a communist character. The efforts of the party were great but not great enough. Together with you we want to discover the reasons for this, convinced that the Marseille congress is anxious to do everything in its power to continue the work begun at Tours, to take into consideration the suggestions of the International designed to reinforce the communist character of the party and of its policy.

The party has suffered from weakness of leadership. The central committee spent too much time on administrative work but was unable to give the party firm political leadership. In its daily work it was not guided by the idea of developing party

activity. It did not create a collective consciousness. The party has suffered from the absence of an agrarian policy, a trade union policy, and an electoral policy. The central committee left the examination and solution of all these problems to the

Marseille congress, fearing that the federations would accuse it of dictatorship if it settled these problems itself. But every revolutionary will understand that the leadership of a communist party elected by the congress and so enjoying the

confidence of the party must have the most comprehensive powers if it is to conduct the party's policy in accordance with the resolutions and decisions of the national and international congresses. A far stronger leadership must come from the

Marseille congress, able to exercise political leadership, effectively to supervise and influence the party press, guide its parliamentary work and define its position day by day on all questions of French and international policy.

We think it would be useful to transfer minor administrative affairs to a special secretariat and to appoint from the central committee a central bureau of at least five members whose most important task will be this daily guidance of party work and thought. Side by side with building a stronger leadership it is necessary to develop a spirit of greater discipline in the party. Communists must think of themselves primarily as members of the party and must act as such throughout their public and private lives.

The question of trade union policy is certainly the most important and most difficult confronting the Marseille congress and the one where the absence of a policy was most felt during the past year. If the communist party wants to be the

spearhead and champion of the social revolution it must give serious thought to trade union questions. There are no questions of concern to the workers which do not also concern the party. The party must therefore keep to a steady policy on trade union questions. It must loudly assert before the working class its right and its duty to concern itself actively with these questions. It must demand of its members to be as

communist in the trade unions as they are in the party. A communist party cannot allow its members to go on supporting the policy of Jouhaux and the Amsterdam International. It must say clearly to all those who agree with Jouhaux that their place is in the party of Renaudel, Albert Thomas, and Longuet.

Similarly the party must energetically combat the anarchist and syndicalist ideas which deny the role of the party in the revolution. Nobody must be left in doubt that it is not the desire of the party and of the CI to subordinate the trade unions to the party; it is anxious to ensure that all party members play their part in the struggle of the trade union minority in France. . . .

 

The party must seek to collaborate as closely as possible with those syndicalists who have revised their revolutionary ideas as a result of the history of the last few years. By discussing with them in a fraternal way all revolutionary problems, the party must try to get them to define clearly their present attitude, and it must combat their old anarcho-syndicalist traditions. We do not doubt that the party, if it becomes a truly revolutionary and communist party, will not only win the sympathy and confidence of the proletarian masses in France but will also be able to win into its ranks the syndicalist-communist comrades who still mistrust it. It will win these elements by a policy that is not opportunist and not vacillating. The draft thesis on the trade union question worked out by your central committee is only the first outline of a clarification of this fundamental question.

Those who say that the economic struggle does not concern the party are either hopeless fools or they are making fun of communism. The party must draw to itself all the best elements of the working classes and it must on the theoretical side inspire all forms of the proletarian struggle, including the economic struggle.

The trade union, as trade union, is not subordinate to the party as party. In this sense the trade unions are autonomous. The communists who are active in the trade unions must however always act as disciplined communists.

As a result of a number of special circumstances, there are still today outside the ranks of the French Communist Party a number of valuable revolutionary elements who regard themselves as syndicalists. We must come to an understanding with them and sooner or later unite with them in the ranks of the single communist party, but we cannot and must not encourage syndicalist prejudices against parties and against political action.

When the French party delegation was in Moscow for the third congress the ECCI called their attention to the necessity of central committee supervision of the unofficial party press. The ECCI was thinking primarily of Brizon's Vague and Fabre's Journal du Peuple, both of which were conducting a policy incompatible with the policy of the party and the International. The unequivocal theses of the second congress laid it down that

no party member can claim for himself a so-called press freedom in order to publish a journal which is not under the complete control of the party. With the unanimous consent of the French delegation, the Executive passed a resolution on this question and informed the French central committee, but it has received no official reply. It asks the Marseille congress to give the Executive the party's answer to this question, which it regards as a most fundamental question of communist discipline which should have been decided by the party leadership. The delay is the more regrettable as, since the decision was taken, the opportunist tendency has crystallized around the Journal du Peuple, regretting the split at Tours, bemoaning the expulsion of dissidents and of Serrati, and even advocating open collaboration with bourgeois parties in the form of the left bloc. It is not surprising that these comrades who are pursuing a policy so wholly inconsistent with communist principles should feel themselves injured by our resolution and should try to shift responsibility on to the French representative on the Executive.

We hope that the party at Marseille will clearly express its hostility to such a policy and will summon this group of comrades back to communist discipline.

It seems necessary to us that the French party should try to remain in the closest and most continuous contact with the workers in the factories. Far too often the party press has a discontented rather than a proletarian revolutionary character. Nor are there enough factory workers in the party leadership. It seems to us necessary to increase the working-class element when the new central committee is elected.

The French party has always stood too much aside from the life of the International. We hope that in future there will be closer and more frequent contacts, enabling the French party to take an active and fruitful share in the life of the Communist International.

As we consider French questions to be questions for the whole International so we hope that the French workers will regard all questions which concern the proletariat of Germany, Russia, America, etc., as their own, and will by discussion take an active part in the work and the struggle of all sections of the International.

 

 

 

Comintern

III. International