ON THE TASKS OF COMMUNISTS IN TRADE UNIONS
Inprekorr, ii, 30, p. 239, 14 March 1922
The enlarged plenum confirms that there is no need to introduce any change of principle into the decisions of the third Comintern congress on the trade union question. The half yearly report has shown that the directives on trade union work were correct and appropriate. The present session is dealing with the trade union question only in order to instruct communists that it is necessary in accordance with their increased influence in the unions, to make their work more concrete and to adapt it to the special conditions of the different countries and industries.
As a result of the mounting capitalist offensive the trade union movement in all countries is going through a critical period. This is shown in the decline of membership and the exhaustion of trade union funds. On the other hand the growing poverty of the broad masses is exerting an elemental pressure towards unity in the struggle against the capitalist offensive, towards putting an end to the dilatory tactics of the reformist leaders which rob the trade unions of their fighting strength, and, if all else fails, towards defending their basic vital rights by means of united action without the reformist leaders and over their heads.
This situation in the international trade union movement is particularly favourable for the further development and deepening of activity to capture the unions and to extend communist influence among the masses. Communists who
work in the trade union movement must take this state of affairs as their starting point when they carry on the struggle for the RILU.
In some countries the RILU is still only a tendency within the old organizations. In others it embraces the majority of the membership, while in still others it has won the trade union centre. With this in mind it is the task of communists in countries where the RILU is only a tendency to rally all these
workers inside each union, national and international, into a strong centre which has the will to take up the struggle against the bourgeoisie seriously and carry it through.
Where we have a majority of revolutionary-minded workers in the trade unions, it is the task of communists to advocate adherence of the national trade union movement to the RILU.
In the forthcoming period the task of communists is to extend their influence in the old reformist trade unions, to fight the splitting policy of the Amsterdam leaders, and to carry out carefully and consistently the tactics of the united front in the trade union movement. However large the minority within an individual union or trade union federation is, communists must see that this minority stays within its organization and fights for carrying through the programme and tactics of the minority. The adherence of such trade union minorities to the RILU can only be an ideological one, which they must demonstrate by the practical execution of the decisions of the first congress of the revolutionary unions and by following Profintern tactics.
Communists are obliged to work in favour of the individual unions affiliated to the RILU remaining inside the international trade and industrial secretariats. If such unions have not already entered these bodies, they must do so. We have put the
issue openly and squarely before the international proletariat. We remain inside the national trade union associations and only join the Profintern as organizations if we succeed in winning the majority for the principles of the RILU. At their trade union
congress the workers of every country will have to decide whose programme and tactics serve the interests of the working class—those of the Amsterdam International or those of the RILU. This is the only way in which the broad masses will learn who are the splitters, who are hampering the formation of a powerful centre against the powerful employing class. This is the only way in which the masses will recognize that the Amsterdamers are servants of the bourgeoisie who defend bourgeois democracy against the proletarian dictatorship but who trample on proletarian democracy whenever communists by the methods of proletarian democracy try to win a majority in the unions in order to try to change these unions in accordance with the will of the majority from subsidiary agencies of the bourgeoisie into militant bodies fighting against the bourgeoisie.
The liquidationist tendencies to be noted in some parties in regard to the RILU arose from a number of misunderstandings and from the false hope that the Amsterdam leaders would turn left. These tendencies must be sharply and categorically condemned. The Amsterdamers will always vacillate, moving to the left to the extent that the influence of the communist
parties in the respective countries increases and the RILU extends its organizational and intellectual influence on the trade union movement. Communists must not count on the leftward turn of the trade union leaders. They must base their tactics on the inevitable revolutionizing of the masses. As social contradictions grow, as the communist parties and the Communist International strengthen their influence, as the working class becomes more revolutionary, the Amsterdam International will make greater efforts to conceal their reformist deeds, their retreat from struggle, even from the struggle for the most urgent daily needs, behind revolutionary
The communist parties and the Communist International which took the initiative in creating the RILU must continue their work by strengthening and developing this organization, which embraces not only communist but also syndicalist and non-party revolutionary elements.