LETTER FROM THE ECCI TO CENTRAL COMMITTEES
OF COMINTERN SECTIONS ON THE STATE OF MEMBERSHIP
19 April 1932
April 1932 Inprekorr, xii, 32, p. 985,
Close analysis shows that in all countries the main reason for inadequate recruiting of factory workers lies not outside but within the party itself, in incorrect plans and methods of recruiting, and above all in the insufficient attention paid to
questions of work in the factories, in the absence of the requisite bolshevist vigour in reorganizing all party work on to a factory basis.
. . .
It is therefore essential that in future the party's entire recruiting activity must be concentrated on the factory, in the first place the large factories in the most important industries. . . .
Recruiting work must become the daily obligation of every
party member, and the enrolment of new members in the cells must be immediately undertaken and completed without any unnecessarily formal procedures. It is in the first place up to the central and district committees of the party to ensure that their recruiting work is carried on systematically in these factories. The parties— and in particular such parties as the Polish and the German—must see to it that in the immediate future, in the next month or two, those localities and factories which represent the advanced outposts of the proletarian class-struggle front are given particular and careful attention in respect to the extension and consolidation of contact with the workers employed there, to winning the best revolutionary elements among them for the party. The appropriate local party committees must, with the wholehearted and close participation and support of the central committee, work out
special methods for approaching the different groups of workers in these factories (skilled and unskilled, women, juveniles, foreign workers, socialists, Christians, etc.), draft demands appropriate for each group, discuss them, issue special literature, appoint special organizers or form special brigades.
It is of the utmost importance, in connexion with the war danger, to pay special attention in the immediate future to reinforcing work to recruit those women workers
. . .
who will replace male munitions workers called up for the forces.
. . .
To make this change in the party's recruiting activities requires in addition the most resolute and ruthless struggle against elements of bureaucratism in the work of party organizations among workers sympathetic to the party who wish to join it but
are kept waiting for months (as sometimes happened in 1931, or as happened in Spain, when hundreds were refused admission because there were no party cards). A resolute struggle must also be waged against sectarian tendencies, against the fear of
taking in new members, rejected on the most varied pretexts. Against those guilty of such bureaucratic formalism and sectarian narrow-mindedness, the party must proceed with the utmost rigour.
. . .
Such a situation is wholly abnormal, and involves the danger that the present stream of workers into the communist party may be followed by a movement in the opposite direction, and that in general the numerical growth of the parties will not be
stable. The retention of new party members, the question of the special measures required for work among them, for raising their political level, drawing them into current practical work, assimilating them into the party—all these tasks are today of
the utmost political importance, and in this regard the leading bodies of the communist parties bear a great responsibility to the world communist movement.
Clearly, rapid and decisive changes are urgently required in the entire present way of dealing with new members. Seeing that the situation in this respect is wholly unsatisfactory, although numerous decisions have been taken to deal with fluctuations in membership, what is now required is a thorough and methodical examination of what is in fact being done, so that mistaken methods of work can be singled out and the work itself intensified; all obstacles rooted in incorrect methods of work in party organizations, and in particular those which are the result of bureaucratic attitudes or of the incapacity of individuals in the party apparatus, must be eliminated 'without respect to persons'.
. . .
It is what goes on in the life of the factory cell that is as a rule decisive in regard to fluctuation. If the factory cell is lively and active, if it takes part in all mass movements of the workers in the factory, if it is at the head of them, if all the cell members have party duties to carry out, and if inner-party democracy gives them the opportunity to discuss all questions of party life, to fight against deviations from the party line, to fight bureaucratic, sectarian, and other distortions in the party
apparatus there will as a rule be no defections; on the contrary, the cell will grow and its mass influence increase. And conversely, cells which are not active, where there is no self-criticism, are as a rule certain to lose members and decay.