A LETTER FROM THE WEST EUROPEAN
BUREAU OF THE ECCI
TO THE SPANISH COMMUNIST PARTY
January 1932 Inprekorr, xii, 4, p. 91, 15 January 1932
The Spanish proletariat, which is the chief driving force of the revolution, has displayed tremendous revolutionary energy, disabling the old regime by its strikes in 1930, and awakening the petty-bourgeoisie as well as the national-liberation
movement of the oppressed national minorities, thus preparing the ground for the April revolution. But as it was under the ideological influence of the socialists and anarcho-syndicalists, the proletariat was unable to establish itself as the leader of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, or to bring the peasantry, the second most important driving force of the revolution, under its leadership. Consequently the bourgeoisie succeeded, in alliance with the landowners, and with the active participation of the socialists and the anarcho syndicalists —finance capital being in supreme command—in seizing power for themselves. In reality the bourgeois landlord bloc has not solved a single one of the basic tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution. The agrarian question remains unsolved. The bill for agrarian reform, prompted by cowardice and half-heartedness, was rejected by the National Assembly.
. .. The bill for the separation of Church and State leaves the enormous economic power of the Church, and hence its political influence, untouched. The national question is not solved and the old bureaucratic State apparatus and the robber semi feudal system of cacique rule have remained practically unchanged.
The civil guard, an armed force of the counter-revolution, has even been strengthened. Instead of democratic rights, the bourgeois-landlord bloc has given the working people nothing but bullets and prison.
The character of revolutionary development in Spain since the fall of the monarchy and the proclamation of the republic can be summarized as follows:
1. The economic (and agrarian) crisis is from month to month becoming more acute, widespread, and deep. The bourgeois-landlord bloc has not merely not improved the conditions of life of the proletariat and peasantry, but has actually made the wage increases won by the working masses from the bourgeoisie by means of mass strikes after 14 April illusory, by devaluation of the currency, higher prices, etc. Unemployment is growing steadily. . . .
The peasantry is being impoverished at great speed. The villagers are in the grip of hunger, particularly the agricultural
labourers and poor peasants. The bourgeois-landlord republican bloc, which has left untouched the privileges of the landowners and finance-capital . . . has made the economic crisis and its social and political consequences even more complex and acute.
2. The Government of republicans and socialists, all the republican parties and the National Assembly have strikingly revealed their counterrevolutionary bourgeois class character. The leading part in the policy of this bloc is taken by the big
bourgeoisie of finance and industry, and by the large landowners allied with them.
The regrouping of classes and parties which began with the April days has now assumed shape. We are faced with a new relation of forces of classes and parties.
The leading part in the counter-revolutionary camp is played by the republican big bourgeoisie, actively supported by the forces of the monarchist counterrevolution— landlords, church, officers' corps, etc.; they have brought under their control the
urban petty-bourgeoisie and their parties as well as the petty-bourgeois and bourgeois parties of Catalonian nationalists. The revolutionary camp is composed of proletariat and peasantry. The workers' disappointment in the republican parties is
growing steadily. Democratic illusions are being more and more rapidly dispelled.
3. The Socialist Party took and is taking the chief part in the counterrevolutionary bloc in stupefying the masses.
The Socialist Party is the pace-maker of reaction in the offensive of the bourgeois-landlord counter-revolution against the working class and the working masses. It was no other than the socialist Minister Largo Caballero who drafted and laid before the Cortes the Law for the Protection of the Republic—a law which forbids any strike not permitted by the Government. Bourgeoisie and socialist leaders have elevated the incitement of bloody collisions between different groups of workers into a system ... in order to split the proletariat and make it powerless against the united bourgeois-landlord counter-revolution. They organized and are organizing strikebreakers for the employers. They themselves declare that only if they remain in the Government can they prevent the spread of 'violent' revolution.
The part being played by the socialists has not been exposed to the masses, and they are still successful here and there in capturing new positions. The disillusionment of the workers in the adventurist tactics of the anarcho-syndicalist leaders, who
systematically betray the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, is cleverly exploited by the socialists in the interests of their own counter-revolutionary aims.
At the same time the anarcho-syndicalist leaders are drawing ever closer to government social-democracy, supporting it from without. . . .
4. In the revolutionary camp a noticeable regrouping of forces has been and is going on. In addition to the urban and rural proletariat, which is the only completely consistent revolutionary force, and together with it and under its political leadership, the peasantry, particularly its poorest sections, have taken up the revolutionary struggle. . . .
The outlines of the immediate perspective are becoming sufficiently clear. They reveal no 'social peace' and no 'stable political equilibrium', but embittered class struggles and a further outbreak of the revolutionary storm. The Spanish bourgeois democratic revolution is not at an end. Its basic tasks . . . have not yet been accomplished. But the proletariat has to solve these old tasks in a new situation, a new relation of class forces and political parties, and a clearly marked differentiation in the camp of revolution and of counter-revolution. Because the bourgeoisie and their parties, including the Socialist Party, have revealed themselves as counterrevolutionary forces, it will be easier for the proletariat to rise to leadership of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, to enrol the peasantry among its followers, to guide the democratic revolution to complete victory and so to create the conditions for its rapid transformation into a socialist revolution.
The essential condition for completing the bourgeois democratic revolution and for its transformation into a proletarian revolution is the existence of a mass communist party, clearly conscious of the basic questions of the revolution and knowing how to organize the proletariat and to make it capable of achieving hegemony in the revolution.
The more consistently and energetically the proletariat, led by the communist party and in alliance with the peasantry, undertakes, under the revolutionarydemocratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, the radical liquidation of all
feudal survivals, carries through the agrarian revolution, and wages the struggle to expand the framework of the bourgeois-democratic revolution . . . the greater will be the possibility of the rapid transformation to the proletarian, socialist revolution . . . .
The chief immediate task of the communist party is to prepare, organize, and lead the revolutionary mass struggles of the proletariat, to launch and lead the agrarian revolution. This requires the organizational consolidation of the communist party and of the revolutionary class organizations of the proletariat. The practical link that must be seized if this is to be done is the strike struggle, the unemployed movement.
. . . At the same time every effort must be made to organize the peasant struggle against the attacks of the landowners, to give the scattered partial actions the mass character of an agrarian revolution. . . .
The party will be able to accomplish this tremendous task if its forthcoming congress is made into a congress for organizing the party, a congress for transforming it into a genuinely bolshevik mass party. The Spanish CP undoubtedly has some political and organizational successes to its credit. Over the last year its
membership has risen from 1,500 to nearly 10,000. . . . Recently it has managed to turn its central organ Mundo Obrero into a daily. . . .
The growing influence and numbers of the party cannot, however, be correctly appraised except in relation to the events which have occurred in Spain and are now developing. In a time of unparalleled ferment and militancy, when more than a million proletarians engaged in struggle and came out on to the streets, when hundreds of thousands showed themselves ready to go to the limit, a membership of 10,000 is merely a drop in a storm-lashed sea.
As true revolutionaries should, the Spanish communists must seek out and lay bare the reasons for the party's lagging behind and for the mistakes it has made, and must take energetic measures to eliminate them rapidly and completely. . . .
The basic reason for the party's errors, its failure to understand the character of the revolution, the function and tasks of the proletariat as hegemon in the present democratic revolution, its failure to grasp the role of the communist party, to advance correct and timely political slogans for mass action and to take these slogans to the masses, the mistakes reflected in the relatively marked passivity of the party—the basic reason is that the party was, and unfortunately still is, bound fast by sectarianism and anarchist traditions. . . .
The party as a whole and its leaders in particular had, and unfortunately still have, no correct and comprehensive political attitude; their appraisal of the character and peculiarities of the class contradictions, of the revolution in Spain, was false;
erroneous judgments were and are being given of the concrete political factors. The leaders of the Spanish Communist Party have not grasped the immense political significance of the economic, social, and political survivals of feudalism in Spain,
and so did not see the democratic revolution that was maturing on that basis; they did not prepare the proletariat for that revolution.
The party did not grasp in time that precisely because the bourgeoisie were going to play a counter-revolutionary part in the bourgeois-democratic revolution that was coming to a head, the proletariat, as the only truly consistent revolutionary class, could and should lead that revolution. . . .
Since the communist party underestimated the role of the proletariat, it cut itself off, lost contact with the working class, ignored the peasantry, lost contact with the broad masses, failed to measure the pulse of the masses or gauge their sentiments, underestimated their demands and their militancy. And when events came to a head, when the republic was proclaimed under the tremendous assault of the masses marching in the streets, the party put out incorrect slogans that were incomprehensible to the masses.
During May and throughout the election campaign in June there was no visible change in the party's activity. Slogans about the formation of councils of workers', soldiers', and peasants' deputies, about the formation of factory committees, the
disarming of the gendarmerie and the arming of the proletariat, the formation of the revolutionary united front, the revolutionary seizure of land by the peasants, the solution of the agrarian problem by the peasants themselves—these slogans, in so far as they were put forward at all,
were presented in a much too general and propagandist manner....
The comrades believed, incorrectly, that Soviets serve as organs of revolutionary power only after the seizure of power. In reality, however, Soviets are organs of revolutionary power
before that too— organs of the struggle for power, organs to mobilize and organize the masses for the seizure of power by the proletariat and peasantry, and to establish their revolutionary democratic dictatorship. . . .
The Spanish Communist Party showed and to a certain extent still shows a similar attitude, sectarian, passive, towards the national liberation movements of the Catalonians, Basques, and Galicians, which it underestimates, and leaves the Moroccans almost completely out of account....
Sectarianism and impermissible passivity were displayed also, and particularly by the leaders, in regard to trade union work. ...
While exposing the anarcho-syndicalist leaders, who have become traitors to the workers' movement, lackeys and instruments of the bourgeoisie, it is necessary to try to establish a united front with the anarchist workers and those anarchist leaders who really want to fight the capitalists and the bourgeois-landlord counterrevolutionary regime of the monarchists, republicans, and socialists. . . .
The Spanish Communist Party has not fought and is not fighting with sufficient determination counter-revolutionary Trotskyism which, by its systematic slanders against the Soviet Union and the Comintern, its liberal attitude—cloaked in 'left' phrases—to the questions of the Spanish revolution, is trying to introduce confusion among the working class, to hamper the erection and consolidation of a united revolutionary fighting front of the proletariat, and to disorganize the ranks of the proletariat and the communist party.
Nor did the party have the correct attitude to Maurin's group and its workers' and peasants' bloc. Without in any way relaxing the fight to expose Maurin's pettybourgeois ideas, and the collaboration in practice of his group with the bourgeoisie —indeed by intensifying that fight and refusing to make the slightest concession on questions of principle—without glossing over existing differences, the communist party must help all members of that organization who are really ready to come under the Comintern banner to join the ranks of the Spanish
Sectarian errors and defects, as well as passivity and the anarchist heritage, are particularly marked in the party's internal life. It is not yet a centralized proletarian mass organization of political action with clearly defined aims and tasks. ...
In many respects it still consists of loosely associated sectarian propagandist groups of 'selected' communists, without strong and enduring contact with the masses and the factories, without clear political attitudes, clearly defined perspectives, or a united will, for neither centrally nor locally has it a firm, active leadership working collectively and closely linked with the party organizations and the working masses. . . .
For more than a year and a half the central committee has not been functioning, and the leadership of the party has been in the hands of an executive committee consisting of a few comrades only . . . whose work in most cases has been limited to sending out circulars which, moreover, have not always embodied the correct policy. . . .
These, comrades, are the basic criticisms, which do not by any means cover all the problems and aspects of the Spanish Communist Party's work, but which we wished to set forth openly in connexion with your fourth congress.