What is a “Mass Paper”?

What is a “Mass Paper”?

By Leon Trotsky

30 November 1935

[Published in The Crisis of the French Section (1935-36)]

To the Members of the Bolshevik-Leninist Group:

I have just learned that my letter to the Political Bureau on the new “mass paper” [“Turn to the Masses!”] was read to the general meeting. I can only rejoice if it succeeded in clarifying the situation a little. I addressed myself first to the Political Bureau in the hope that the question could be solved without a new discussion on the foundations determined by the last national conference. But it developed that the initiators of La Commune, after having prepared their undertaking outside the organization, and in fact against both the national and international organizations, decided to provoke a discussion after the fait accompli. In these circumstances it would perhaps not be without value if I enlarged in a more precise manner upon the criticisms and suggestions contained in my letter to the Political Bureau.

1. What is a “mass paper”? The question is not new. It can be said that the whole history of the revolutionary movement has been filled with discussions on the “mass paper.” It is the elementary duty of a revolutionary organization to make its political newspaper as accessible as possible to the masses. This task cannot be effectively solved except as a function of the growth of the organization and its cadres, who must pave the way to the masses for the newspaper–since it is not enough, of course, to call a publication a “mass paper” for the masses to really accept it. But quite often revolutionary impatience (which becomes transformed easily into opportunist impatience) leads to this conclusion: The masses do not come to us because our ideas are too complicated and our slogans too advanced. It is therefore necessary to simplify our program, water down our slogans–in short, to throw out some ballast. Basically, this means: Our slogans must correspond not to the objective situation, not to the relation of classes, analyzed by the Marxist method, but to subjective assessments (extremely superficial and inadequate ones) of what the “masses” can or cannot accept. But what masses? The mass is not homogeneous. It develops. It feels the pressure of events. It will accept tomorrow what it will not accept today. Our cadres will blaze the trail with increasing success for our ideas and slogans, which will be shown to be correct, because they are confirmed by the march of events and not by subjective and personal assessments.

2. A mass paper is distinguished from a theoretical review or from a journal for cadres not by the slogans but by themanner in which they are presented. The cadre journal unfolds for its readers all the steps of the Marxist analysis. The mass paper presents only its results, basing itself at the same time on the immediate experience of the masses themselves. It is far more difficult to write in a Marxist manner for the masses than it is to write for cadres.

3. Let us suppose for a moment that the GBL consented to “simplify” our program, to renounce the slogans for the new party and for the Fourth International, to renounce implacable criticism of the social patriots (naming them by name), to renounce systematic criticism of the Revolutionary Left and of Pivert personally. I do not know if this newspaper would become, with the help of a magic wand, a mass paper. I doubt it. But it would in any event become a SAPist or Pivertistpaper. The essence of the Pivert tendency is just that: to accept “revolutionary” slogans, but not to draw from them the necessary conclusions, which are the break with Blum and Zyromsky, the creation of the new party and the new International. Without that, all the “revolutionary” slogans become null and void. At the present stage the Pivert agitation is a sort of opium for the revolutionary workers. Pivert wants to teach them that one can be for revolutionary struggle, for “revolutionary action” (to borrow a phrase now in vogue), and remain at the same time on good terms with chauvinist scum. Everything depends on your “tone,” you see? It is the tone that makes the music. If the tiger cooed like a pigeon the whole world would be enchanted. But we, with our rude language, we must say that the leaders of the Revolutionary Left are demoralizing and prostituting revolutionary consciousness.

I ask you: If we renounced the slogans which are dictated by the objective situation, and which constitute the very essence of our program, in what shall we be distinguished from the Pivertists? In nothing. We would only be second-rate Pivertists. But if the “masses” should have to decide for the Pivertists, they would prefer the first-rate to the second.

4. I take up the little appeal printed for of “La Commune–organ revolutionary (?) action (?).” This document provides us with a striking demonstration (unsought by its authors) of some of the ideas expressed above. “La Commune will speak the language of the factories and the fields. It will tell of the misery which reigns there; it will express its passions and rouse to revolt.”

This is a very laudable intention, although the masses know perfectly well their own misery and their feelings of revolt (stifled by the patriotic apparatuses with the aid of the Pivertists). What the masses can demand of a newspaper is aclear program and a correct orientation. But precisely on this question the appeal is utterly silent. Why? Because it wants more to conceal its ideas than to express them. It accepts the SAPist (centrist) recipe: in seeking the line of least resistance do not say what is. The program of the Fourth International, that’s for “us,” for the big shots of the leadership. And the masses? What are the masses? They can rest content with a quarter, or even a tenth, of the program. This mentality we call elitism, of both an opportunist and, at the same time, an adventurist type. It is a very dangerous attitude, comrades. It is not the attitude of a Marxist.

We find in the appeal, after the sentence quoted, a number of historical reminiscences: “To the sons and grandsons of the fighters of the Croix-Rousse, of those who manned the barricades of June 1848, of the Communards of 1871, La Commune says,” etc. (followed by rhetoric à la Magdeleine Paz). I do not know, truly, if the rebelling masses need literary reminiscences and somewhat hollow rhetoric disguised as a program.

But here is where the most important part begins: “La Commune is not going to add itself to the multiplicity of tendencies in the workers’ movement.” What sovereign scorn for the “multiplicity” of existing tendencies! What does that mean? If all the tendencies are wrong or insufficient, a new one has to be created, the true one, the correct one. If there are true and false tendencies, then the workers must be taught to distinguish among them. The masses must be called on to join the correct tendency to fight the false ones. But no, the initiators of La Commune, somewhat like Romain Rolland, place themselves “above the battle.” Such a procedure is absolutely unworthy of Marxists.

After this a number of names are proclaimed in order to particularize, however little, the utterly vague character of the new paper. I set aside my own name, which La Commune claims without the slightest justification. Being among the living, I can at least defend myself. But the others, our common teachers, the real leaders of revolutionary socialism? Unfortunately, they are defenseless. The appeal names Marx and Blanqui. What does that mean? Do they want to create a new “synthesis” of Marxism and Blanquism? How will the masses disentangle themselves from the combination of these two names? A little farther on we find Lenin. But the Stalinists claim him also. If you do not explain to the masses that you are against the Stalinist tendency, they will have to prefer l’Humanité to La Commune.This combination of names explains nothing. It only extends and deepens the ambiguity.

And here is the high point: “La Commune is launched by militants belonging to various tendencies to bring about the rise of a great army of communards.” What does this mean, this unknown crew of anonymous, unknown “various tendencies”? What tendencies are involved? Why are they (still unknown) grouped outside and against the other tendencies? The purpose of creating a “great army of communards” is laudable. But it is necessary not to forget that this army, once created (1871), suffered a terrific catastrophe because that magnificent army lacked a program and a leadership.

The conclusion: The appeal could have been written by Marceau Pivert (in collaboration with Magdeleine Paz) except for one point–the name of the author of these lines. But as for me, I repeat, I am implacably opposed to this equivocal and anti-Marxist appeal.

5. The adherence of the GBL to the SFIO has proved absolutely correct. It was a step forward. The Mulhouse congress was the high point of the Bolshevik-Leninist influence in the SFIO. It was necessary to understand that the limit of the possibilities within the Socialist Party was being reached (at least for the adults). It was necessary to utilize the newly won and fresh authority to influence new and virgin elements outside the Socialist Party, whose social composition is miserable. It is this suggestion which I expressed in a letter since published in an internal bulletin of the GBL (no. 6, letter of June 10), and which I permit myself to recommend to the comrades for rereading in connection with the present letter. Passing through Paris [on the way to Norway] I met with several comrades, especially some of the future promoters of La Commune, who were in strong opposition to the idea of a new turn. These comrades had taken a liking to their activity in reformist and centrist circles and hoped to be able to progress further and further. It was a mistake. Time and strength were wasted fruitlessly instead of emulating the youth, whose orientation was more correct because it was directed toward the young workers outside the Socialist Party.

Then came the expulsions at Lille. I, for my part, regarded them as an act of liberation, because they expressed the reality: the impossibility of fruitful future activity in the ranks of the SFIO, especially with the approach of war and fusion with the Stalinists. It seemed that the fact of the expulsion was so eloquent as to spare us the need for any discussion as to what road to take. It was necessary to open up a vigorous and implacable offensive against the expellers, not as “splitters” (that’s the small talk of Pivert), but primarily as the valets of French imperialism. It was necessary at the same time to criticize Pivert openly, since he had taken the place of Zyromsky in covering the left wing of the People’s Front. It was necessary to develop the program of committees of action, to oppose collaboration with the Radicals, and to proclaim openly the necessity for preparing a new party to save the proletariat and its younger generation. Instead of that, the Commune group sought above all to win the sympathies of the Revolutionary Left by personal maneuvering, by combinations in the lobbies, and above all by abdication of our slogans and of criticism of the centrists. Marceau Pivert declared two or three months ago that the struggle against “Trotskyism” is the sign of a reactionary tendency. But now he himself, led by the SAP people, represents this reactionary tendency. The Revolutionary Left has become the most immediate and most noxious obstacle in the development of the revolutionary vanguard. That is what has to be said openly and everywhere, i.e., especially in a mass newspaper. But the Commune group has gone so far in its romance with the Pivertists that one is forced to ask if these comrades are still with us or if they have passed over to centrist positions. That is where one gets when one throws principles overboard and adapts oneself longer than is necessary to the reformist apparatus and its centrist valets.

6. We may ask: and Révolution? It is also not the paper of our tendency. Nevertheless we participate in it. That is correct, but Révolution is the paper of an organization which everybody knows–the Young Socialists. The newspaper is led by two tendencies which are drawing close and which must inevitably fuse. The progressive character of the Revolutionary Socialist Youth is determined precisely by this fact: that they are turning toward the Bolshevik-Leninists and not toward the Revolutionary Left. (The episodic adherence of Comrade Zeller to the Revolutionary Left, after all that had happened, was a mistake the responsibility for which must be shared by the Commune group.)

Révolution is a living, moving paper which can become the paper of the proletarian youth. To accomplish this task, however, Révolution must not fall into the shadows of La Commune’s confusion, but must concretize its position—i.e., definitively accept the slogans of the Bolshevik-Leninists.

7. La Vérité is an absolute necessity. But it must liberate itself from the centrist influences which resulted in the appeal of La Commune. La Vérité must resume its fighting, intransigent character. The most important object of its criticism is Pivertism, which is opposed to Leninism and has thus become, by its own characterization, a reactionary tendency.

8. I do not want to analyze in this letter the extraordinary methods employed by the Commune group vis-à-vis its own national and international tendency. It is a very important question but nevertheless secondary in comparison with the question of program and banner.

I believe, dear comrades, that you have the greatest opportunities before you. You are at last going to reap the fruits of your efforts up to now, but on one condition: that you do not permit a confusion of tendencies, of ideas and banners; that you practice Leninist intransigence more than ever and orient yourselves openly and vigorously toward the new party and the Fourth International.

L. Trotsky

A Stupendous Bureaucracy

A Stupendous Bureaucracy

by Max Shachtman

[First Printed in New International Vol.1 No.3, September 1934. Copied from http://www.marxists.org/archive/shachtma/1934/09/bureauc.htm ]

ALMOST a quarter of a century ago appeared the first edition of Die Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie – “investigations into the inexorable tendencies of group life” by the Italian professor Roberto Michels which were the first serious study of bureaucratism in the European labor movement. Then still in his “radical socialist” period, Michels traced the stratification of an upper crust in the trade unions and the social democracy in particular, with so much painstaking talent and instructive results that one is more than repaid by a second reading.

Pyramiding the social democratic structure from the broad mass of voters, through the party membership, attendance at party branch meetings, up to the officials and finally the narrow group of all-powerful party committees, and adorning his thesis with an imposing mass of data, he sought to establish a “universal law of development” of his own called the “iron law of oligarchy”. According to Michels, the triumph of oligarchy is organically inherent in every form of democracy and operates most relentlessly in every workers’ organization.

“Every workers’ party,” his views were once summed up, “is a mighty oligarchy standing upon piteous democratic feet … The mass – it too organically and forever – is incapable of ruling. It is completely amorphous and indifferent, always needs somebody to distribute its work for it, must constantly be led. It asks for this leadership, and the opinion that it is in a position to influence its leaders in any way, is nothing but a wretched deception or self-deception. The whole history of the labor movement is a perpetually recurrent assault of the democratic waves upon the cliffs of oligarchy, being shattered against these cliffs, a new assault, etc., without end. An endless struggle of the democratic opposition against the oligarchy, a conversion of the democracy into oligarchy, a fusion with the oligarchy, the rise of a new democratic opposition, etc.”

For all the glaring defects apparent in Michel’s fatalistic sociology, his study was and remains invaluable for an understanding of the phenomenon of bureaucratism in the labor movement. And in order to combat effectively what is injurious and fatal in bureaucratism, it is necessary to understand it. Such an understanding will, furthermore, make it possible to grasp some of its unique and ordinarily less comprehensible forms in the present-day Stalinist parties.

In his penetrating examination into the causes of the opportunist decay of the social democracy, its collapse in the World War, G. Zinoviev presented his readers in 1916 with the shocking information that on the eve of the war the German social democracy with an approximate membership of a million and the trade unions with three times that number, employed between them 4,010 officials. “In the hands! of these upper 4,000 is accumulated the power in the party and the trade unions. Upon them depend all the affairs. They hold in their hands the whole powerful apparatus of the press, the organization, the relief funds, the whole election apparatus, etc.” (Der Krieg und die Krise des Sozialismus, p.511.)

The post-war period so extended the influence, numbers and power of the German social democracy that the 1914 figures paled by comparison. The omnipotence of the highest instances of the party bureaucracy was mightily assured throughout the ranks by the enormous increase of posts at its disposal for distribution to lesser officials. The latter (not every individual, to be sure, but as a group), to preserve themselves in office, served as the channels through which the real party leadership exercized its power in the ranks.

The available posts, according to the detailed study made a few years ago, were occupied by party members falling into the following categories:

“1. Those who are directly dependent [upon the party chiefs], among them the employees of the party, the trade unions, the auxiliary organizations and the economic enterprises; 2. those who are indirectly, but in part just as much dependent: who occupy positions in the state apparatus, the municipalities, the social-political bodies, etc., and 3. those whom we can call expectant candidates for high class sinecures. Among these we must again distinguish between those who already have such functions which offer them quick prospects of cornering a post and those who ‘hope’ to make a career for themselves. Without doubt the number of the latter is very high.” (Rudolf Feistmann, Der SPD-Apparat, Roten Aufbau, Vol.II, No.8, Berlin.)

Among the posts occupied by deserving social democrats, Feistmann listed: two-thirds of the police chiefs of Prussia, members of the Reichstag, numerous Landtags and municipal boards, members of the Board of Directors of the Coke syndicate, the match syndicate, the Reichsbank, the federal railways, the Federal Health Council, the Senate of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Akademie, several banks, etc., etc. His final results, he tabulated as follows, without counting the “expectant candidates”:

Party and trade unions – 16,905

Auxiliary organizations – 2,320

Economic enterprises – 83,302

Parliaments – 46,667

Social-political bodies, representatives – 50,000

Social-political bodies, officials and employees (ap.) – 6,000

Teachers’ organization – 60,363

Prussian administration – 16,000

Administration of other provinces – 4,000

Party schools, etc. – 1,500

Building inspectors etc. – 507

Economic enterprises which cannot be estimated (ap.) – 1,600

Grand total: – 289,254

Well over a quarter of a million posts!

While it should be borne in mind that these 300,000 rested upon a party membership of more than a million, a trade union membership of several million, and an electorate of more than ten million, it was nevertheless a tremendous weapon for the preservation of the party leadership and its conservative policies. This was further facilitated, to be sure, by the fact that the leadership, besides having the “responsibility” for maintaining a multitude of respectable institutions, was so closely interwoven with the whole capitalist state machinery that it not only served as its prop but was in a position to operate it for its own ends – at all events, up to two years ago.

The German social democracy is only the most striking example of this phenomenon in the sphere of reformist organizations throughout the world. Disregarding the Soviet Union, it is possible to say that the official Communist party in the United States is the outstanding, that is, the worst example, of a similar development in the sphere of Stalinist organizations. Documentary material which facilitated Feistmann’s calculations of the SPD is of course not available in the case of the American Stalinists. But a study will make possible an adequate approximation of the state of affairs here. The figures are of course drastically reduced, as compared with Germany, but not disproportionate to the organization considered. If the bureaucracy of the Stalinist party does not number hundreds of thousands, neither are its supporters counted by the millions.

The American Stalinist party is one of the top-heaviest labor organizations in the world. The number of its institutions and offices does not grow at the same speed as the growth of its membership and influence, but at a far more rapid pace; at times the former remains stable, or even advances while the latter declines. At all times, the best and the worst, the latter shows a turnover which produces a ceaseless change in its composition. The tremendous turnover in party membership is one of the most important features of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

“We have had in the past two years, innumerable resolutions, speeches and articles about fluctuations of membership, and) fine suggestions on how to overcome them. But these things have remained on paper – and the fluctuation today is as high as seventy-five percent. Many of these are old members. In the last registration we found that only 3,000 members were in the party before 1930.” (Party Organizer, Sept.-Oct. 1932.)

Accepting the official membership figures for 1932, this means that less than one-fourth of the membership had been in the party for as long as two years; the other 10,000 members were practically raw material.

These new elements – six, twelve, eighteen months in the party – do not get an opportunity in so short a period to absorb the fundamental teachings of Communism (assuming for the moment that even six years of Stalinism could give them these teachings!). Especially in recent years, the first and last principle they learn is unquestioning obedience to the party leadership which they can neither elect nor recall.

“We have lots of elements of bureaucracy among our leading comrades … They feel that all comrades ‘below’ them must show great respect and honor to them, accept their opinion and shortcomings as the last and final word; on every subject. This dignity and artificial importance repels the proletarian rank and file of the party.” (Party Organiser, March 1931.)

Because of the speed with which the new recruit leaves the party, there is not to be found in it any more or less stable mass of workers out of which a consistent, organized opposition to the bureaucracy might crystallize. Any leadership may be appointed or removed, any policy may be set down or changed from above, and it will meet with no resistance in the lower ranks. That is, no organised resistance; an obstreperous or inquiring individual is either bribed or bludgeoned into silence, or promptly expelled to prevent others from being “infected” with his ideas.

The apparent contradiction between the outrageously false policies and bankruptcy of the leadership, and its “unanimous” acceptance by the membership, is “dialectically resolved” as follows: The highhanded regime of the leadership and its disastrous policies drive the eager converts to Communism out of the party; this fluctuation in turn makes it impossible for a force to crystallize in the ranks capable of changing either the leadership or its course. Periodically the contradiction reappears, not at a higher, but at a lower level …

The membership fluctuates and is weak; the apparatus is powerful, beyond the control of the ranks, and extraordinarily numerous. For in addition to other iniquities inflicted upon it, the comparatively small circle of members and sympathizers is obliged to carry a disproportionately vast officialdom.

“We have in our [New York] district,” says the Party Organiser, Feb. 1931, “over 100 different mass organizations.” (In the last three years the number has increased considerably, and with it, the number of posts at the disposal of the central party secretariat.) In the Sept.-Oct. 1931 issue of the same periodical, it says: “The resolution adopted at the New York district plenum states that ‘there exists a far-reaching bureaucratization of the party apparatus … A similar resolution was adopted at the beginning of August by the Chicago party organization.”,

Just what this means in more concrete terms may be seen from. a partial list of the party and party-controlled organizations which are staffed exclusively by party members, who thus constitute the full-time party apparatus. While the list confines itself to New. York, it should be remembered that this is the decisive political and organizational center of the Stalinists.

CENTRAL ORGANIZATIONS (with their district, local, and frequently foreign-language departments) : Communist Party, Young Communist League, Trade Union Unity League, International Labor Defense, International Workers Order, Friends of the Soviet Union, Workers International Relief, Workers Ex-Servicemen’s League, Unemployed Councils, League Against War and Fascism, National Students League, City Council of Associated Workers Clubs, United Council of Workingclass Women, John Reed Clubs, League of Struggle for Negro Rights, National Committee to Aid Victims of German Fascism, Labor Sports Union, Anti-Imperialist League, Labor Research Association, National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, Chinese Anti-Imperialist Alliance, Icor, National Textile Workers Union, Needle Trades Workers Industrial Union, Marine Workers Industrial Union, Steel and Metal Workers Union, National Furniture Workers Union, Food Workers Industrial Union, World Tourists, etc., etc, (In addition, two or three very generously staffed institutions which special conditions suggest leaving unnamed.)

PERIODICALS: Daily Worker, Morning Freiheit, Ukrainian Daily News, Daily Panvor, Unità Operaia, The Labor Defender, Labor Unity, Hunger Fighter, Novy Mir, Fight, Young Worker, Needle Worker, Food Worker, Furniture Worker, Marine Worker, The Communist, Der Hammer (Yiddish), Der Hammer (German), Amerikas Zihnas, Uus Ilm, Laisve, Student Review, New Masses, New Theater, Liberator, Party Organiser, Rank and File Federationist, New Pioneer, Empros, Communist International (English edition), Ny Tid, Soviet Russia Today, etc.

CULTURAL AND SKMI-CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS: Workers School (of New York, of Harlem, of Brooklyn), Workers Bookshops, International Publishers, Workers Library Publishers, Pen and Hammer, Artef, Garrison Films, Freiheit Gesangs Verein, Freiheit Mandolin Orchestra, Workers Music League, Film and Photo League, Jewish Workers University, etc.

CENTERS AND INSTITUTIONS: Workers Center, Camp Nitgedaiget, Camp Unity, Ukrainian Labor Home, Golden’s Bridge Colony Workers Cooperative Colony (apartment buildings), Finnish Workers Hall, Czechoslovak Workers House, Scandinavian Hall, Amalgamated Rank and File Center, Italian Workers Center, Spanish Workers Center, Hungarian Workers Home, Camp Kin-derland, Camp Wo-Chi-Ca, etc.

LOCAL UNIONS AND MISCELLANEOUS: United Shoe and Leather Workers Union, Educational Workers Club, Custom Tailoring Workers Industrial Union, Transport Workers Union, Nurses and Hospital Workers League, Curtain and Drapery Workers Union, Relief Workers League, Alteration Painters Union, Office Workers Union, Unemployed Teachers Association, China and Glass Decorators Independent Union, Silk Screen Process Workers League, Taxi Drivers Union, Sign and Advertizing Art Workers Union, Anti-Fascist Action, Laundry Workers; Industrial Union, Smoking Pipe Workers Industrial Union, Building Maintenance Union, Independent Carpenters Union, Tobacco Workers Industrial Union, Jewelry Workers Industrial Union, etc., etc., etc.

If we apply the criteria employed by Feistmann – again omitting the not inconsiderable number of “expectant candidates” – the number of party members employed in the totality of these organizations, from the humblest clerical workers down to the Gen-Sec of the party himself, will be found to reach an enormous figure. Some of the institutions listed have no more than one paid official; the Marine Workers Industrial Union, with its 250 members locally, will have eight; the New Masses will be staffed with ten; the Morning Freiheit with well over fifty; the Bronx cooperative apartments – a big business institution with all the big business practises and malpractises – has an even more imposing personnel.

A careful approximation would yield a total of about 1,000 party members in New York City occupying posts for which they are directly or indirectly (and not very indirectly, either!) dependent upon the good will of the central party leadership – 1,000 out of about 3,000 party members in the city!

They constitute the bureaucratic caste, appointed and removable only from above, which dominates the party’s ranks. Whatever may be the character of this or that individual, as a group they are the obedient henchmen of the party secretariat which is, in turn, appointed by and responsible to the Stalin secretariat alone. They guarantee an unimpeded and unmolested continuity of Stalinist policy and Stalinist sovereignty. Divorced from the ranks, in the truest sense of the term, they rule over the membership, by actual intimidation if necessary.

“In some cases, two or three of the most developed comrades take upon themselves the right to make all decisions beforehand and monopolize the leadership among themselves. Under these conditions the remainder of the local comrades are either politically terrorized into silence or made to act the part of messenger boys for the ‘leadership’.” (Party Organiser, Feb. 1931.)

Should any kind of insurgency manifest itself in the party ranks, this bureaucracy is always available for flying squadrons to suppress, vote down or expel the recalcitrants. A classic example: “In shop nucleus No. 1, Section 2, New York, situated in a large leather goods factory, the following comrades were recently attached : Radwansky, editor of Novy Mir; Rose Pastor Stokes, employed in the W.I.R.; Rappoport, bookkeeper in the Freiheit; and Litwin, cashier in the Cooperative Restaurant. On the motion of Stokes, and with the help of these four functionaries, the organizer of the nucleus [a Lovestone suspect], who is at the same time the shop chairman, was, expelled from the party.” (Revolutionary Age, Dec. 1, 1929.)

Finally, it should be borne in mind that this bureaucracy, unlike any other that has ever existed in the labor movement, is bolstered up by a state power. It has behind it all the formal authority and prestige of the Soviet Union, to say nothing of more ponderable support. It has developed to a point where it is a self-perpetuating machine, part of an even bigger machine of the same type. It cannot be recast from within. It has immunized itself and the organization to which its bottom is irremovably glued, against the possibility of internal reform.

The problem of bureaucratism can neither be approached nor resolved from a subjective or abstract, that is, from a sub- or supra-social standpoint. A bureaucrat can no more be dismissed as a rude official than a bureaucracy can be set down as an evil in itself. The bureaucracy is the totality of officials or employees that staffs the apparatus and directly administers the affairs of a given institution. It can therefore be judged only in connection with this institution, its class basis, its class policies, its organizational structure and the milieu in which it functions.

When the revolutionary movement is in its infancy and its participation in the class struggle is as rare as its ranks are few, it can and does do without paid officials. As soon as it emerges from the initial formative stage, from pure discussion, and enters the arena of battle against the organized class foe, it realizes the imperative need of internal reorganization. The bourgeoisie has institutions, machinery, a press, spokesmen, writers, organizers, strategists, a general staff. To combat it effectively, the working class is compelled to bring out of its midst or to win over from other classes, those best qualified to organize its army, build its machinery, popularize its cause, plan and direct its battles. The larger grows the revolutionary and labor movement, the greater is its need of all kinds of auxiliary institutions and of all kinds of men and women to staff them – organizers, speakers, writers, secretaries, strategists, leaders, etc., etc. To set oneself against the building of such an apparatus and a body of qualified officials, is equivalent to loading the rising labor movement with stupid prejudices and with the backwardness of its own yesterday. It means fastening it to the Procrustean bed of its infancy and making it fit not by cutting off its legs but its head.

If a bureaucracy is considered not just as an abusive term, but as the officialdom which grows with the living movement of labor, it is patently indispensable. It makes for smooth routine, for system and efficiency in work, for planning and responsibility, for far-seeing supervision and centralization of effort.

It contains obvious dangers, as, alas! both reformism and Stalinism have showed: corruption, malfeasance, ossification, self-perpetuation, conservatism, usurpation. They are no more than the dangers inherent in the modern class struggle. The antidotes to these poisons go by the names of revolutionary class policy and workers’ democracy. Whoever yields on either score has contributed to the degeneration of his own officialdom.

The bureaucracies of the existing movements became corrupt and degenerated because they forsook Marxism and suppressed workers’ democracy. Now they play a reactionary role which makes necessary their elimination. “But this does not mean that the labor movement will be able to get along in the future without a large organizational apparatus, without a whole stratum of persons who stand specifically in the service of the proletarian organization,” Zinoviev wrote in his time. “Not back to those days when the labor movement was so weak that it could do without its own employees and officials, but forward to the day when the labor movement itself will be a new one, when the tempestuous mass movement of the proletariat subordinates this stratum of officials to itself, destroys routine, wipes away the bureaucratic rust, brings new people to the surface, breathes fighting courage into them, and fills them with new spirit!”



Minneapolis 1934- strajkujący kierowcy ciężarówek w starciu z policją

Początek lat 30. w Stanach Zjednoczonych to ciężki okres dla amerykańskiego proletariatu. Wraz z Wielkim Kryzysem pogarszały się warunki życia, bezrobocie rosło, malała liczba członków związków cechowych Amerykańskiej Federacji Pracy (AFL). Ale wbrew brutalnym rządowym represjom i sabotażowi przywódców AFL robotnicy walczyli, i to zwłaszcza w zakładach nieuzwiązkowionych. W 1934 miały miejsce trzy zwycięskie strajki generalne- w Toledo, San Francisco i Minneapolis. Łączyło je to, że przewodzili im „czerwoni”, zadeklarowani socjaliści i rewolucjoniści. W Minneapolis była to niewielka grupka trockistów z Komunistycznej Ligi Ameryki, którzy po  poprowadzili robotników transportu do uzyskania reprezentacji związkowej tam gdzie większość jej nie miała, utworzenia związku przemysłowego (takiego który obejmuje wszystkich pracowników danej branży, niezależnie od zawodu, w przeciwieństwie do związków „cechowych”). Ludzie ci, oprócz wykazania się zmysłem taktycznym i innowacyjnością, rozumieli i cały czas wychodzili z założenia że interesy kapitału i pracy są nie do pogodzenia i byli zdecydowani walczyć oraz przygotowali robotników do nieuchronnej konfrontacji. Przykład Minneapolis pokazuje, jak wiele może osiągnąć mała formacja kadrowa w niesprzyjających warunkach, jeśli trzyma się marksistowskich pryncypiów i wykazuje się dalekowzrocznością, a także jak wielkie znaczenie ma kierownictwo dla walki klasy robotniczej na każdym szczeblu. 

Niniejsze artykuły omawiające pokrótce lekcję tych wydarzeń pochodzą z The Militant, organu prasowego Komunistycznej Ligi Ameryki, i zostały napisane przez Jamesa Patricka Cannona, założyciela i wieloletniego przywódcy amerykańskiego ruchu trockistowskiego, który podczas ostatniego strajku osobiście przybył do Minneapolis by wesprzeć swoich towarzyszy ze związku i został razem z innymi aresztowany przez gubernatora stanu Minnesota Floyda B. Olsona po ogłoszeniu przezeń stanu wojennego.

— M. Krakowski

„Uczcie się od Minneapolis!” („The Militant”, 26 maja 1934)

Dziś cały kraj patrzy zwraca się ku Minneapolis. Dzieją się tam wielkie rzeczy, które odzwierciedlają wpływ dziwnej nowej siły w ruchu robotniczym, wpływ poszerzający i rozszerzający się jak fala spiralna. Ze strajku pracowników transportu Minneapolis przemawia nowy głos i nowa metoda rzuca swoje wzywanie.

Po raz pierwszy widoczna była w strajku dostawców węgla, który zelektryfikował ruch robotniczy miasta kilka miesięcy temu i zdecydowanie ustanowił związek po krótkiej, burzliwej bitwie o bezprecedensowej waleczności i wydajności. Teraz jesteśmy świadkiem jak ten sam związek wychodzi ze swojej wąskiej rutyny i obejmuje kierowców ciężarówek w innych kwestiach.

Stoi za tym, tak jak było w przypadku dostawców węgla, są miesiące trudnej, cierpliwej i systematycznej rutynowej roboty organizacyjnej. Wszystko jest przygotowywane. Potem ultimatum wobec szefów. Szybki, nagły cios. Masowa linia pikiet która zmiata wszystko przed sobą. Zawody budowlane występują ze wsparciem. Połączone siły, jadąc z potężną falą moralnego wsparcia ze strony całej pracującej ludności miasta, podejmują ofensywą i przepędzają wszystkich bandytów i najemników szefów w pamiętnej bitwie na rynku miejskim.

Cały kraj wsłuchuje się w echa walki. Wyzyskiwacze słyszą je ze strachem i drżeniem. Splatając sieć wokół robotników fabryk samochodów, z pomocą zdradzieckich przywódców robotniczych, pytają siebie w trwodze: „Jeśli ten duch się rozprzestrzeni, co nam wtedy po naszych planach?”

A robotnicy w podstawowym przemyśle, niejasno wyczuwając siłę swojej liczby i strategicznego położenia, nie mogą się powstrzymać od zapytania samych siebie: „Jeśli pójdziemy drogą Minneapolis, czy mogłoby cokolwiek lub ktokolwiek  nas zatrzymać?” Strajkujący pracownicy transportu są dziś w Minneapolis wielką potęgą. Ale jest to tylko niewielka część siły ich przykładu na oszukanych i zdradzonych robotników w wielkim przemyśle kraju.

Przesłanie Minneapolis

Przesłanie Minneapolis ma pierwszorzędną wagę dla amerykańskiej klasy robotniczej. Ostrożne przestudiowanie metody ze wszystkich stron powinno być przedstawione jako punkt pierwszy w programie ruchu robotniczego, zwłaszcza jego najbardziej zaawansowanej sekcji. Studium tej epickiej walki, w jej różnych aspektach, może być pomocą w ich zastosowaniu na innych polach, i, poprzez to, gwałtownej zmianie położenia amerykańskich robotników.

Nie ma nic nowego, oczywiście, w walce między strajkującymi i policją i bandytami. Każdy strajk o jakimkolwiek znaczeniu opowiada starą, znajomą historię szczucia,C bicia i zabijania strajkujących przez płatnych zbirów wyzyskiwaczy, w i bez munduru. Co jest niezwykłego w Minneapolis, co jest ważniejsze pod tym względem, jest to że o ile strajk w Minneapolis zaczął się z brutalnymi atakami na strajkujących, nie skończył się on na tym.

W zażartych walkach ostatniej niedzieli i raz jeszcze w poniedziałek, strajkujący stawili opór i utrzymali swoje pozycje. A we wtorek przeszli do ofensywy, z niszczycielskim skutkiem. Biznesmeni, którzy zgłosili się na ochotnika by postawić robotników do pionu, i chłopcy z koledżu który poszli dla hecy na specjalnych zastępców- nie mówiąc nic o umundurowanych glinach- oddali swoje odznaki i uciekli z przerażeniem przed masowym gniewem poruszonych robotników. I wielu z nich zaniosło niechciane pamiątki ze spotkania. Oto była demonstracja tego, że amerykańscy robotnicy są chętni i zdolni do walki  swoje interesy. Nic nie jest ważniejsze niż to gdyż, w ostatecznym rozrachunku, wszystko od tego zależy.

Oto było srogie ostrzeżenie dla szefów i ich najemników, i nie tylko tych z Minneapolis. Przenieście przykład i ducha strajkujących z Minneapolis na przykład na robotników stalowych i samochodowych; z ich masowymi liczbami i potęgą. Niech rządzący Ameryki zadrżą na myśl o tej perspektywie. Zobaczą to! Oto co przede wszystkim znaczy przesłanie Minneapolis.

Masowa akcja

Drugą cechą charakterystyczną walki na rynku miejskim która zasługuje na szczególną uwagę jest, że nie było to typowe spotkanie między pojedynczymi strajkującymi a pojedynczymi łamistrajkami i zbirami. Przeciwnie- zwróćcie uwagę- cały związek przeszedł do czynu na linii pikiet w masowym szyku; tysiące innych związkowców poszło razem z nimi; wzięli ze sobą konieczne środki dla ochrony przed morderczymi zbirami, do czego mieli wszelkie prawo. Oto był przykład masowej akcji, która pokazuje drogę przyszłym zwycięskim walkom amerykańskich robotników.

Nie był to strajk samych mężczyzn, lecz także kobiet. Związek kierowców Minneapolis postępuje zgodnie z teorią, że kobiety mają istotny interes w walce, nie mniej niż mężczyźni, i wciąga je do działania przez specjalną organizację. Polityka ta, tak skutecznie stosowana przez Postępowych Górników, jest bogata w skutki także w Minneapolis. Zaangażować kobiety w walkę robotniczą to podwoić siłę robotników i napełnić ją duchem i solidarnością jakiej inaczej by nie mogła mieć. Ma to zastosowanie nie tylko do pojedynczego związku i pojedynczego strajku; tyczy się każdej fazy walki aż po jej rewolucyjne zakończenie. Wielki spektakl solidarności pracy w Minneapolis jest tym, czym jest ponieważ obejmuje także solidarność kobiet z klasy robotniczej.

Strajk sympatyzujący

Strajk pracowników transportu poczynił ogromny skok naprzód i przeszedł przemianę gdy związki zawodowe budowlańców ogłosiły strajk solidarnościowy w ostatni poniedziałek. W tym czynie można dostrzec jeden z najbardziej postępowych i znaczących cech charakterystycznych całego ruchu. Gdy związki zaczynają ogłaszać strajki nie dla natychmiastowych korzyści dla siebie samych, lecz ze względu na solidarność ze swoimi walczącymi braćmi w innych zawodach, i gdy ów duch i postawa staną się powszechnymi i branymi za pewnik jako właściwa rzecz, wtedy paraliżujące podziały w ruchu związkowym będą bliskie kresu i trade-unionizm zacznie oznaczać jedność.

Unia kierowców ciężarówek i robotników zawodów budowlanych jest inspirującym widokiem. Reprezentuje dynamiczną ideę o nieobliczalnej sile. Niech przykład się niesie, niech idea się zakorzeni w innych miastach i w innych zawodach, niech idea solidarnościowej akcji strajkowej zostanie połączona z bojowością i masową metodą bojowników z Minneapolis- i amerykański świat pracy będzie o głowę wyższy i niezmiernie silniejszy.

Ci, który charakteryzują związki AFL [Amerykańskiej Federacji Pracy- przyp. tłum.] jako „żółte związki” i chcą budować nowe związki za wszelką cenę niewiele pociechy wyciągną ze strajku w Minneapolis. Zawsze utrzymywaliśmy że forma organizacji robotniczej, choć ważna, nie jest decydująca. Minneapolis dostarcza kolejnego potwierdzenia, i to najbardziej przekonującego, tej koncepcji. Oto najbardziej bojowa i, pod wieloma względami, najbardziej postępowo kierowana walka robotnicza jaką widziano od dłuższego czasu. Niemniej jednak wszystko to jest przeprowadzone w ramach AFL.

Związek kierowców jest komórką jedną z najbardziej konserwatywnych Międzynarodówek AFL, Kierowców Ciężarówek; zawody budowlane które wyszły z poparciem dla kierowców, są wszystkie zrzeszone w związkach AFL; a Centralny Związek Robotniczy, wspierający strajk kierowców i możliwy środek organizacyjny dla strajku generalnego, jest jednostką podporządkowaną AFL. Miejscowe związki AFL dostarczają szerokiego pola dla pracy rewolucyjnych bojowników jeśli wiedzą jak pracować inteligentnie. Jest to zwłaszcza prawdziwe gdy, tak jak w przykładzie Minneapolis, bojownicy faktycznie inicjują organizację i odgrywają przewodnią rolę w rozwijaniu jej w każdym stadium.

Bolszewiccy bojownicy

Dalszy rozwój związku, i być może nawet obecnego strajku, na ścieżce bojowości może wprowadzić miejscowe kierownictwo w konflikt z reakcyjną biurokracją Międzynarodówki a także konserwatywnymi siłami w Centralnym Związku Robotniczym. Będzie o wiele trudniej wziąć miejscowych przywódców bojowego związku z zaskoczenia, ponieważ większość z nich przeszła już szkołę tego doświadczenia. Wbrew temu nie odwrócili się tyłem do związków zawodowych i nie dążą do sztucznego tworzenia nowych.

Nawet gdy chodziło o organizowanie dużej grupy robotników do tej pory poza ruchem robotniczym, wybrali związek AFL jako medium. Rezultaty doświadczenia Minneapolis dostarczają pewnych wysoce ważnych lekcji w tej kwestii taktycznej. Żałosna rola stalinowców w obecnej sytuacji, i ich zupełne odizolowanie od wielkich walk masowych, jest logicznym skutkiem ich polityki w ogólności i w szczególności ich polityki związkowej.

Powszechny Związek Kierowców, jak to musi być w przypadku każdej prawdziwej organizacji masowe, ma szerokie i reprezentatywne kierownictwo, swobodnie wybierane demokratycznymi metodami. Wśród przywódców związku jest pewna liczba bolszewickich bojowników, którzy nigdy nie ukrywali ani nie zaprzeczali swoim opiniom i nigdy nie zmienili ich na czyjkolwiek rozkaz, czy to rozkaz przyszedł od Greena [Williama, przywódcy AFL- przyp. tłum.] czy od Stalina.

Obecność tego jądra w ruchu  masowym jest cechą charakterystyczną sytuacji w Minneapolis która, w pewnym sensie, wpływa i ubarwia wszystkie inne jej aspekty. Najważniejszym ze wszystkich warunków wstępnych dla rozwoju bojowego ruchu robotniczego jest zaczyn pryncypialnych komunistów. Gdy wchodzą w ruch robotniczy i inteligentnie stosują swoje idee, są niepokonani. Ruch robotniczy wzrasta wskutek tej fuzji i ich wpływ rośnie razem z nim. W tej kwestii również Minneapolis pokazuje drogę.

„Strajk zwycięski” („Militant”, 25 sierpnia 1934)

Poruszające wieści o zwycięstwie strajku w Minneapolis dadzą serca i ducha każdemu świadomemu klasowo i świadomemu związkowo robotnikowi w Stanach Zjednoczonych. Są jak światło latarni na ciemnym morzu porażek, jakie pochłaniały związki w drugim ruchu strajkowym za NRA [National Industrial Recovery Act z 1933]. Porywający wynik bitwy doda pewności wątpiącemu robotnikowi, że świat pracy nie musi przegrywać a kapitalizm można pokonać. Wzmocni on w umysłach każdego rewolucjonisty przekonanie, że polityka konsekwentnej walki klas jest jedyną metodą ukoronowania walki klasy robotniczej sukcesem.

Ale klasa robotnicza ma niewiele czasu się radować. Większe i zacieklejsze bitwy są przed nią. Musi ona wykuć swoją broń i przygotowywać się. Niech robotnicy uczą się i przyswajają sobie lekcje z Minneapolis, a otrzymają bezcenny dodatek do arsenału oręża klasowego przeciw kapitałowi. A Minneapolis bogate jest w lekcje, tak lekcje że nawet gdy tylko część z nich zostanie przetrawiona, proletariat wykona wielki krok naprzód.

Niemal bez wyjątku praktycznie wszystkie główne problemy strategii strajkowej zawarły się w bitwie o sekcję nr 574. Brak miejsca nie pozwala nam zająć się ze wszystkimi, lecz by wspomnieć o nich po części: utrzymywanie linii pikiet by poradzić sobie z łamistrajkami, żywienie pięciu tysięcy strajkujących i ich rodzin, dostarczanie pomocy bardziej wynędzniałych z robotników, utrzymywanie morale strajkujących poprzez długie tygodnie walki, odpowiadanie na kłamstwa, kalumnie i oszczerstwa prasy szefów i radia, prowadzenie negocjacji z pracodawcami i federalnymi arbitrami, zyskanie poparcia robotników w innych związkach, walka z policją i oficjelami miejskimi.

To są zwyczajowe problemy, jakim stawiają czoła robotnicy gdy buntują się o lepsze warunki. Ale strajk Minneapolis był skomplikowany przez inne i dalece bardziej zdumiewające kwestie. Od samego początku strajk stał w obliczu porywistej „czerwonej” paniki szefów, utrzymywanej przy życiu przez całe jego trwanie. Przyłączył się do tego międzynarodowy przewodniczący Bractwa Kierowców Ciężarówek, Tobin, który ogłosił strajk nielegalnym na samym początku. Potem, by jeszcze bardziej pogmatwać dezorientację, gubernator z Partii Farmersko-Robotniczej, mając zaufanie przytłaczającej większości robotników, zadał kilka śmiercionośnych ciosów strajkowi udając jednocześnie przyjaźń. Zacofane szeregi, walczące jak szalone, lecz przesiąknięte wszystkimi uprzedzeniami jakie wpajali im szefowie od lat, dopełniają obraz.

Wszelkie inne kierownictwo niż to z Minneapolis zatonęło by na skałach tego zdumiewającego problemu. Nie z powodu osobistych właściwości czy uczciwości ludzi, choć to wiele wniosło, lecz raczej dlatego że taktyka jaką stosowali była marksowska od początku do końca. Byli dogłębnie złączeni z robotnikami w szeregach. Kontynuowali swoją robotę w związku zawodowym nie celem jakiegoś sensacyjnego wyczynu. Zbudowanie organizacji, poprowadzenie i pomoc robotnikom w nauczeniu się z własnych doświadczeń w walce klasowej- to był ich cel.

Poprzednie numery „Militanta” omówiły militarnie wydajną organizację aparatu strajkowego. Ale nic się nie stanie jak się przypomni niektóre z nich, ponieważ na tej właśnie rzeczy zasadzał się ten sukces. Wyliczając; linia pikiet na kółkach gotowa by ruszyć w każdej chwili, na każdym kroku w kontakcie z kwaterą główną strajku- intendentura dostarczająca codziennie jedzenie pięciu tysiącom strajkujących opierając się na solidnym założeniu że armia maszeruje na brzuchu- organizacja pomocnicza pań, dająca kobietom bezpośredni interes w walce, czyniąc je zachętą i pomocą niż balastem dla strajkujących- mobilizacja bezrobotnych dla wsparcia- i wreszcie biuletyn strajkowy, który śmiało możemy powiedzieć jest jednym z najwspanialszych wkładów w strategię strajkową w ostatnich czasach. Oto była gazeta która inspirowała strajkujących, odpowiadała na kłamstwa prasy szefów dzień po dniu, podsycała ich słabnący entuzjazm, ostrzegała ich przed pułapkami stawianymi przez szefów i arbitrów, pokazywała linie klasowe walki i zrobiła tysiąc i jedną inną przysługę. Był to niewzruszony fundament strajku.

Lecz wszystko mogło rozbić się o „czerwoną” panikę gdyby przywódcy związkowi nie byli na nią przygotowani. We Frisco [San Francisco- przyp. tłum.] wyrwała głęboki otwór we froncie strajkowym. W Minneapolis był to zupełny niewypał. Przywódcy spojrzeli problemowi prosto w oczy. Nie pognali do prasy zaprzeczając oskarżeniom. Ani też nie wykrzykiwali swoich opinii całemu światu. Wytłumaczyli ludziom, że była to część planu szefów by uchylić się od problemów, siać zamęt i podziały w szeregach i tym samym zmiażdżyć strajk. Skutki są znane. Czerwona panika trafiła w próżnię.

Niemal tak samo ważna,  jeśli nie bardziej, była rola gubernatora Olsona. Przebiegłą grą demagogii i niegroźnych ataków na pracodawców ustanowił się jako „przyjaciel” strajkujących. Tak bardzo, że gdy wezwał wojsko na ulicę i ogłosił stan wojenny, powszechną opinią między kierowcami było że robiono to w ich interesie. Pikiety zaczęły polegać na żołnierzach Olsona. Znając naturę klasową państwa, przywódcy widzieli jak fatalna byłaby dla strajku taka postawa. Zadziałali szybko. „Organizer”, ryzykując narażenie się na niezadowolenie związkowców, wykazał jaki był prawdziwy cel oddziałów- złamać strajk. Ale nie ograniczyli się do potępienia. Tylko doświadczenie nauczyłoby strajkujących. Zdecydowano się na próbę prawa do pikietowania. I wtedy… robiąc nalot na centralę strajku, więżąc przywódców i najlepszych uczestników pikiet, Olson nauczył robotników więcej o Olsonie niż wszelkie artykuły wstępne na świecie mogłyby. Inna opinia na temat gubernatora Minnesota i celu państwa przenika teraz niejednego członka komórki nr 574.

Związki zadbały o to, by walka z Olsonem została posunięta dalej poprzez wywarcie jak najsilniejszego nacisku na ludzi Olsona, konserwatywnych przywódców Centralnego Związku Robotniczego. Największą przeszkodą dla gry Olsona było poparcie dla kierowców ze strony całego ruchu robotniczego Minneapolis. Poprzez zręczną i umiejętną taktykę przywódcy sekcji nr 574 zmusili głowy CLU do udzielenia pomocy kierowcom a nie potępienia ich. Gdy związek wezwał oficjeli do ogłoszenia strajku generalnego w odpowiedzi na nalot na dowództwo, stawili oni temu opór lecz trafili na dywanik. Wywarli nacisk na Olsona i uwolnił on przywódców strajku i oddał halę. O ile urzędnikom CLU i Federacji Pracy Stanu Minnesota udało się zapobiec strajkowi generalnemu, ich odpowiedź była żywą demonstracją dla robotników z Minneapolis z czego zrobieni są ci „przywódcy”. Strajk generalny nie jest celem samym w sobie. Jest środkiem do celu. A konserwatyści na czele ruchu robotniczego Minneapolis pozbawili komórkę nr 574 tego potężnego środka. Szeregowi członkowie wyciągną odpowiednie wnioski!

W zadowalającym zakończeniu bitwy tkwią cechy charakterystyczne, które odróżniają strajk w Minneapolis od wszystkich innych w ostatnich czasach. Po raz pierwszy od lat bojownicy, rodzimi dla branży, wstąpili do związku AFL; przemienili go ze związku cechowego w przemysłowy; budowali go spokojnie i po cichu; przygotowywali ostrożnie i uderzyli we właściwym momencie; połączyli organizację z bojowością i mądrością polityczną, i wyszli z trwającego pięć tygodni strajku wbrew niepokonanym przeciwnościom ze zwycięstwem na kolanach. I na domiar tego wszystkiego, co jest niemal bezprecedensowe w takich strajkach- nie tylko związek jest cały ale i przywództwo jest nadal w rękach prawdziwych bojowników.

Przykład kierownictwa z Minneapolis będzie inspiracją wszędzie!
Może być i będzie powtórzony!



On the Necessity and Principles of a New International

Written 26 August 1933 – reprinted from The Militant (US), 23 September 1933. Originally online at posted on:

In full realization of the great historic responsibility that devolved upon them, the undersigned organizations have unanimously decided to combine their forces for joint work for the regeneration of the revolutionary proletarian movement on an international scale. As the basis for their activity, they lay down the following principles:

1. The mortal crisis of imperialist capitalism, which has taken the props out from under reformism (Social Democracy, the Second International, the bureaucracy of the International Federation of Trade Unions, poses imperatively the question of the break with reformist policy and of the revolutionary struggle for the conquest of power and the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship as the only means for the transformation of capitalist society into a socialist society.

2. The problem of the proletarian revolution bears, by its very nature, an international character. The proletariat can build a complete socialist society only on the basis of the world division of labor and world cooperation. The undersigned categorically reject, therefore, the theory of “socialism in one country,” which undermines the very foundation of proletarian internationalism.

3. No less energetically must be rejected the theory of the Austro-Marxists, centrists and left reformists who, under the pretext of the international character of the socialist revolution, advocate an expectant passivity with regard to their own country, thereby in reality delivering the proletariat into the hands of fascism. A proletarian party that evades the seizure of power under the present historic conditions commits the worst of betrayals. The victorious proletariat of one country must strengthen its national dictatorship by socialist construction, which remains of necessity incomplete and contradictory until the working class seizes political power in at least a few advanced capitalist countries. Simultaneously, the victorious working class of one country must direct all its efforts to the extension of the socialist revolution to other countries. The contradiction between the national character of the seizure of power and the international character of socialist society can be resolved only by courageous revolutionary action.

4. The Third International, which grew out of the October Revolution, laid down the principles of proletarian policy in the epoch of imperialism and gave the world proletariat the first lessons in the revolutionary struggle for power, fell victim to a chain of historical contradictions. The treacherous role of the Social Democracy and the immaturity and inexperience of the Communist Parties led to the breakdown of the postwar revolutionary movements in the East and in the West. The isolated position of the proletarian dictatorship in a backward country gave an extraordinary power to the ever-more-conservative and nationally limited Soviet bureaucracy. The slavish dependence of the sections of the Comintern on the Soviet leadership led, in its turn, to a new series of grave defeats, to bureaucratic degeneration of the theory and practice of the Communist Parties and to their organizational weakening. More than that, the Comintern proved not only incapable of fulfilling its historic role but also became more and more of an obstacle in the way of the revolutionary movement.

5. The advance of fascism in Germany put the organizations of the working class to a decisive test. The Social Democracy once more confirmed the designation given to it by Rosa Luxemburg and revealed itself for the second time as “the stinking corpse.” The overcoming of the organizations, ideas and methods of reformism is the necessary prerequisite for the victory of the working class over capitalism.

6. The German events revealed with no less force the collapse of the Third International. Despite its fourteen-year existence, despite the experience gained in gigantic battles, despite the moral support of the Soviet state and the plentiful means for propaganda, the Communist Party of Germany revealed under conditions of a grave economic, social and political crisis, conditions exceptionally favorable for a revolutionary party, an absolute revolutionary incapacity. It thereby showed conclusively that despite the heroism of many of its members it had become totally incapable of fulfilling its historic role.

7. The position of world capitalism; the frightful crisis that plunged the working masses into unheard-of misery; the revolutionary movement of the oppressed colonial masses; the world danger of fascism; the perspective of a new cycle of wars which threatens to destroy the whole human culture – these are the conditions that imperatively demand the welding together of the proletarian vanguard into a new (Fourth) International. The undersigned obligate themselves to direct all their forces to the formation of this International in the shortest possible time on the firm foundation of the theoretical and strategic principles laid down by Marx and Lenin.

8. While ready to cooperate with all the organizations, groups and factions that are actually developing from reformism or bureaucratic centrism (Stalinism) towards revolutionary Marxist policy, the undersigned, at the same time, declare that the new International cannot tolerate any conciliation towards reformism or centrism. The necessary unity of the working-class movement can be attained not by the blurring of reformist and revolutionary conceptions nor by adaptation to the Stalinist policy but only by combating the policies of both bankrupt Internationals. To remain equal to its task, the new International must not permit any deviation from revolutionary principles in the questions of insurrection, proletarian dictatorship, soviet form of the state, etc.

9. By its class basis, by its social foundations, by the incontestably prevailing forms of property, the USSR remains even today a workers’ state, that is, an instrument for the building of a socialist society. The new International will inscribe on its banner as one of its most important tasks the defense of the Soviet state from imperialism and internal counterrevolution. Precisely the revolutionary defense of the USSR places upon us the imperative task of freeing the revolutionary forces of the entire world from the corrupting influence of the Stalinist Comintern and of building a new International. Only under the condition of complete independence of the international proletarian organizations from the Soviet bureaucracy and the tireless unmasking of its false methods before the working masses is a successful defense of the Soviet Union possible.

10. Party democracy is a necessary prerequisite for the healthy development of revolutionary proletarian parties on a national as well as an international scale. Without freedom of criticism, without the election of functionaries from top to bottom, without the control of the apparatus by the rank and file, no truly revolutionary party is possible.

The need for secrecy under conditions of illegality changes completely the forms of the internal life of a revolutionary party and makes wide discussions and elections difficult, if not altogether impossible. But even under the most difficult conditions and circumstances, the basic demands of a healthy party regime retain their full force: honest information about the party, freedom of criticism and a real inner unity between the leadership and the party majority. Having suppressed and crushed the will of the revolutionary workers, the reformist bureaucracy turned the Social Democracy and the trade unions into impotent bodies despite their memberships numbering in the millions. Having stifled inner democracy, the Stalinist bureaucracy also stifled the Comintern. The new International, as well as the parties adhering thereto, must build their entire inner life on the basis of democratic centralism.

11. The undersigned created a permanent commission of delegated representatives and assigned the following to it:

* to elaborate a programmatic manifesto as the charter of the new International;
* to prepare a critical analysis of the organizations and tendencies of the present-day workers’ movement (theoretic commentary to the manifesto);
* to elaborate theses on all the fundamental questions of the revolutionary strategy of the proletariat;
* to represent the undersigned organizations in the eyes of the whole world.


E. Bauer – International Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninist)
J. Schwab – SAP (Socialist Workers Party of Germany)
P.J. Schmidt – OSP (Independent Socialist Party of Holland)
H. Sneevliet – RSP (Revolutionary Socialist Party of Holland)

Hail, ‘Young Spartacus’!

Hail, ‘Young Spartacus’!

by James P. Cannon

[First published in The Militant, October 24, 1931]

One of the first positive results of our national conference is the decision of the National Committee, in agreement with the newly appointed National Youth Committee, to launch an independent club for young workers in New York and to begin the publication of a special youth paper. With this the Communist League will begin a momentous experiment which will call out the intense interest and warm sympathy of all who fight under our banner. So far as we know, we will be the first section of the International Left Opposition to form such an organization and to come out with a special organ appealing to the proletarian youth. We are pioneering on a new field in the worldwide struggle of the Marxian wing of the movement. But all the circumstances warrant the step, and we are confident that the results will quickly vindicate it.

The situation and the special problems confronting the Communist youth are not the same as those of the adult movement, or at any rate they are not exactly the same; and it is from this circumstance that different tactical and organizational methods flow. The Opposition youth remain—as the conference resolution said—a faction of the Young Communist League, as our organization is a faction of the party. But the relation of forces and a number of other conditions in the youth movement are far more favorable for independent action up to a certain point.

Stalinism has wrought devastation enough in the party, but in the Young Communist League the results have been truly catastrophic. On the other hand, the Marxian educational work of the Opposition has awakened a far wider response, speaking proportionally, in the ranks of the Communist youth than in the adult organization. And this is not without valid reasons. The youth are not, and in the nature of things cannot be, weighted down with as hard and heavy a crust of bureaucratic cynicism as is the case in the party. The youth react more sensitively to revolutionary ideas. The youth are the barometer, as Trotsky said at the beginning of the struggle against bureaucratism in 1923.

All our experience in America supports this idea. We do no boasting. We have never deceived ourselves or others with exaggerated claims. But we can say with absolute confidence that the flower of the Communist youth in America are already enrolled in the ranks of the Opposition. A bold step forward is now justified and necessary.

If the youth work the Opposition is now undertaking on a wider scale has an admittedly experimental character, the same can be said with no less justice of all that has been attempted up to now in this domain by the party, and even by the Comintern. We maintain that the problem of effective work among the youth has not yet been solved in the capitalist countries, and under the regime of the epigones it has been cynically mismanaged and abused. They have been corrupting and perverting the revolutionary youth, training young bureaucrats as Fagin trained young thieves. What is wanted is the education of a cadre of frank and honest young worker-revolutionists able to organize and lead a proletarian mass movement. This task belongs to the Marxian Opposition. It will bring new methods and a new spirit to the work.

We expect that the first issue of the youth paper of the Opposition—the plans for which are already under way and which it is to be hoped will not long be delayed—will reflect this new spirit and be welcomed in the youth movement like a fresh breeze. To do this it will not have to borrow anything from the Young Worker, that pallid and unhealthy caricature of grown-up Stalinism at its worst. The aim which we and our young collaborators aspire to is to make a real youth paper, to interest young workers and not to command them, to convince and educate them and not to herd them like sheep for a faction that has no ideas. No pretensions, no diplomacy, no high-politics, no slavish aping of the big talk of the elders, but a young communists’ paper for young workers.

In deciding to call the new paper Young Spartacus, the joint committee has endowed it with an inspiring historic name. The name of the great leader of the colossal slave revolts of antiquity was the banner around which Liebknecht and Luxemburg assembled the dispersed vanguard of the German proletariat. It can well become the symbol of the revolt of Communist youth against the corrupting influence of Stalinism, and their assault against the capitalist order. The name imposes obligations. We are convinced that the young militants of the Opposition will fulfill them. In their great undertaking they will have the unqualified support of every member of the Communist League.

See also

Young Spartacus New York. Newspaper of the Spartacus Youth League, National Youth Committee of the Communist League of America, 1931-1934

O Planeta sem Visto

O Planeta Sem Visto

Por Leon Trotsky. Trecho do Capítulo 45 de sua autobiografia, Minha Vida (1930). Traduzido do espanhol pelo Reagrupamento Revolucionário em dezembro de 2016, a partir da versão disponível em https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/mylife/ch45.htm.

Confesso que meu apelo às democracias europeias, nessa busca pelo direito de asilo, me valeu de passagem muitos momentos de graça. Às vezes, me parecia que estava assistindo à encenação de uma espécie de comédia “pan-europeia” em um ato, intitulada “Os princípios da democracia”. Uma comédia que podia ter sido escrita por Bernard Shaw [dramaturgo satírico], caso se adicionasse a esse líquido “fabiano” que corre em suas veias uma boa dose do sangue de Jonathan Swift [romancista satírico, autor de As Viagens de Guilliver]. Mas, qualquer que fosse seu autor, não se pode negar que a comédia, cujo subtítulo poderia ser “Europa sem visto”, tinha muito de instrutiva. E não falemos dos Estados Unidos! Os Estados Unidos não só tem o privilégio de ser o país mais forte do mundo, mas também o mais temeroso. Não faz muito tempo que [o presidente dos EUA Herbert] Hoover explicou a sua paixão pela pesca, ressaltando o caráter democrático desse esporte. Se é assim – e eu duvido que o seja – a pesca é uma das poucas relíquias da democracia que ainda restam nos Estados Unidos. O direito de asilo já faz tempo que os ianques tem removido de seus códigos legais. De modo que o subtítulo pode ser ampliado: “Europa e América sem visto”. E como estes dois continentes regem o resto do mundo, a conclusão é indiscutível: “O planeta sem visto”.

Por vários lados me explicaram que minha descrença na democracia é meu maior pecado. Quantos artigos e até mesmo livros foram escritos sobre isso! Mas quando eu peço para receber uma breve aula prática de democracia, não há voluntários. Não há um único país em todo o planeta que se disponha a estampar um visto em meu passaporte. E querem me convencer que esse outro pleito, imensamente mais importante, que é o pleito entre os proprietários e os que não tem posses, será decidido com a observância estrita das formas e rituais da democracia?

Mas, vamos aos fatos: a ditadura revolucionária deu os frutos que dela se esperavam? A essa pergunta, que se ouve constantemente, não pode ser respondida a não ser através da análise dos resultados da revolução de outubro, enfocando-se as perspectivas que se abrem ante ela. Uma autobiografia não é, como compreenderão, o lugar mais adequado para levar a cabo esse exame. Procurarei realiza-lo em um livro consagrado especialmente ao problema [A Revolução Traída, 1936], no qual já toquei em meu exílio na Ásia central. Compreendo, não obstante, que não posso finalizar o relato de minha vida sem falar, ainda que em algumas poucas linhas, porque sigo incondicionalmente no caminho em que sempre estive.

O panorama que se desenvolveu ante os olhos da minha geração – a que agora está entrando nos anos maduros ou declinando rumo à velhice – pode ser descrito esquematicamente como segue: no decorrer de umas décadas – de fins do século XIX ao começo do XX – a população europeia foi submetida à disciplina inexorável da indústria. Todos os aspectos da educação social tiveram que se render ao princípio da produtividade do trabalho. Isso trouxe consigo enormes consequências e parecia abrir uma série de novas possibilidades para o Homem. Na realidade, o que fez foi desencadear uma guerra. É claro que a guerra teve que convencer a humanidade de que ela não estava degenerada, como tanto clamara lamentavelmente a anêmica filosofia, mas, ao contrário, que estava cheia de vida, de forças, de ânimos e de espírito empreendedor. E a guerra serviu também para evidenciar para a humanidade, com uma potência jamais conhecida, o seu enorme poder técnico. Foi como se o Homem, posto diante de um espelho, ensaiasse fazer um corte no pescoço com a navalha de barbear, como forma de se assegurar de que sua garganta estava sã e forte.

Ao término da guerra de 1914-18, se proclamou que, a partir daquele momento, era dever um dever moral sagrado direcionar todas as energias a estancar aquelas mesmas feridas que, pelo espaço de quatro anos, se defendeu que era um dever moral produzir. O trabalho e a poupança não apenas se veem restaurados em seus antigos direitos, como apoiados pela mão de ferro da racionalização. As assim chamadas “reparações” são levadas à cabo pelas mesmas classes, pelos mesmos partidos e até pelas mesmas pessoas que foram responsáveis pela devastação. E onde se implantou uma mudança de regime político, como na Alemanha, quem conduz o movimento de construção são personagens que na campanha de destruição figuravam em segundo ou terceiro escalão. A isso se reduz toda a mudança, em pureza. Poder-se-ia dizer que a guerra ceifou toda uma geração apenas para que se produzisse um lapso na memória dos povos e para que a nova geração não compreenda de forma muita clara que o que o se está fazendo é, na verdade, ainda que se trate de uma fase historicamente superior e com consequências que serão, portanto, muito mais dolorosas, voltar aos velhos hábitos.

Na Rússia, a classe trabalhadora, guiada pelos bolcheviques, tentou transformar a vida para ver se era possível evitar que se repetissem periodicamente esses acessos de loucura da humanidade e, ao mesmo tempo, para construir as bases de uma cultura superior. Foi esse o sentido da revolução de outubro. É indubitável que a missão a que se propôs ainda não está cumprida, pois se trata de um problema que, por razão natural, só se pode ver resolvido ao longo de muitos anos. E digo mais: digo que é necessário considerar a revolução russa como o ponto de partida de uma nova história da humanidade em sua totalidade. Ao término da Guerra dos Trinta Anos, foi possível que o movimento alemão em prol da Reforma tivesse todo o aspecto de um tumulto desencadeado por homens fugidos de um manicômio. E de certa forma assim o era, pois a Europa acabara de sair de dos claustros da Idade Média. E, não obstante, como conceber a existência dessa Alemanha moderna, da Inglaterra, dos Estados Unidos e de toda a atual humanidade, sem levar em conta aquele movimento da Reforma, com as inúmeras vítimas que devorou? Se está justificado que haja vítimas – e não sabemos de quem teria que se obter, de fato,  a permissão – nunca está tão justificado como quando as vítimas servem para levar a humanidade a um avanço. E cabe dizer o mesmo da Revolução francesa. O reacionário e pedante Taine imaginava ter descoberto uma grande coisa quando dizia que, alguns anos depois de se ter decapitado Luís XVI, o povo francês vivia mais pobre e menos feliz que sob o Antigo Regime. Feitos como os da grande Revolução francesa não se podem medir pela régua de “alguns anos”.  Sem a Grande Revolução, a França de hoje seria inconcebível e o próprio Taine teria terminado seus dias como o escriba de algum grande senhor do velho regime, ao invés de se dedicar a insultar a revolução à qual deve sua carreira.

Pois bem: a revolução de outubro deve ser julgada com uma distância histórica maior. Apenas tolos ou pessoas de má fé podem acusa-la de, em doze anos, não ter trazido paz e bem estar para todos. Vista sob o mesmo critério da Reforma ou da Revolução francesa, que representam, em um distância de uns três séculos, duas etapas do caminho da sociedade burguesa, não se pode senão se admirar que um povoado tão atrasado e solitário como a Rússia se tenha conseguido assegurar à massa do povo, doze anos após a sacudida, uma média de vida que, ao menos, não é inferior ao que existia às vésperas da guerra. Apenas isso, por si só, é um milagre. Mas, claro está que não é aí que se deve buscar o sentido e a razão de ser da revolução russa. Estamos diante de uma tentativa de mudança da ordem social. É possível que essa tentativa se modifique e transforme, talvez fundamentalmente. É seguro que deve adotar um caráter totalmente distinto sobre a base da nova técnica. Porém, passarão algumas dezenas de anos, passarão alguns séculos, e a ordem social que rege olhará para a revolução de outubro tal qual hoje o regime burguês faz com a Revolução francesa e a Reforma. E isso é tão claro, tão evidente, tão indiscutível, que até os professores de História o compreenderão; ainda que apenas depois de uns tantos anos.

“Bem, e sobre tudo ocorreu à sua pessoa nesse processo, o que me dizes?” Já quase consigo ouvir essa pergunta, na qual a ironia se mescla com a curiosidade. Não há muito mais o que dizer sobre ela do que aquilo que eu já disse ao longo desse livro. Não entendo essa lógica de medir um processo histórico com a régua das vicissitudes individuais de uma pessoa. Meu sistema é o inverso: não só penso objetivamente o destino pessoal que me coube, como também, ainda que subjetivamente, não sou capaz de vive-lo se não for de forma indissociável dos caminhos da evolução social.

Quantas vezes, desde a minha expulsão [da URSS], tive que ouvir os jornais falarem e discorrerem sobre minha “tragédia”! Não reconheço nenhuma tragédia pessoal. O que há, simplesmente, é uma mudança de capítulo na revolução. Um jornal norte-americano publicou um artigo meu, acompanhando-o da engenhosa observação de que o autor, apesar de todos os reveses sofridos, não havia perdido – como o artigo demonstrava – o equilíbrio da razão. Não posso senão me assombrar com essa tentativa filisteia de estabelecer uma relação entre a clareza de juízo e ter um cargo no governo, entre o equilíbrio moral e as circunstancias da atualidade. Jamais conheci semelhante relação de causalidade. No cárcere, com um livro à minha frente ou uma pena na mão, vivi momentos de prazer tão radiantes como os que pude desfrutar naquelas reuniões das massas durante a revolução. E quanto à mecânica do poder, me pareceu sempre mais como um encargo inevitável do que uma satisfação espiritual. Mas sobre isso talvez seja melhor ouvirmos algumas palavras já ditas por outros. No dia 26 de janeiro de 1917, Rosa Luxemburgo escreveu na prisão a uma amiga, dizendo:

“Isso de se entregar por completo às misérias de cada dia que passa é para mim algo inconcebível e intolerável. Veja, por exemplo, a fria serenidade com a qual se elevava Goethe por sobre as coisas. E, não obstante, não acreditava que não havia de passar por amargas experiências. Pense naquilo que ele viveu: a grande Revolução francesa, que, vista de perto, certamente tinha o aspecto de uma força sangrenta e sem nenhum objetivo e, logo após, uma sucessão de guerras que vão de 1793 a 1815… Não te peço que escreva poesias como Goethe, mas sua forma de abraçar a vida – aquele universalismo de interesses, aquela harmonia interior – está ao alcance de qualquer um, ainda que seja apenas como aspiração. E se me disser, por acaso, que Goethe podia ser assim porque não era um lutador politico, te responderei que precisamente um lutador é quem mais tem que se esforçar em ver as coisas desde acima, caso não queira cair de bruços a cada passo contra todas as pequenices e misérias… sempre e quando, naturalmente, que se trate de um lutador de verdade…”

Que palavras magníficas! As li pela primeira vez não fazem muitos dias e elas me fizeram ter ainda mais afeto e carinho pela figura de Rosa Luxemburgo do que antes.

No que diz respeito a doutrinas, caráter ou ideologia, não há em Proudhon – essa espécie de Robinson Crusoé do socialismo – nada com o que eu simpatize. Mas Proudhon era, por natureza, um lutador; era, intelectualmente, generoso; sentia um grande desdém pela opinião pública oficial e nele ardia uma chama inextinguível do desejo agudo e universal pelo saber. Isso o permitia estar por cima dos vaivéns da vida pessoal e por cima da realidade que o cercava. No dia 26 de abril de 1852, Proudhon escreveu na prisão a um amigo:

“O movimento, sem dúvidas, não é normal e nem sege uma linha reta; mas a tendência se mantém constante. Tudo o que é feito pela revolução é algo que não pode mais ser desenraizado; o que se tenta contra ela passa direto como uma nuvem. Eu gosto de ver esse espetáculo, do qual entendo cada figura; assisto a essa evolução da vida no universo como se desde o alto descendesse sobre mim sua explicação; o que a outros destrói, a mim eleva mais e mais, me inspira e me fortalece. Como, então, você quer que eu acuse o destino, que eu reclame das pessoas e as acuse? Eu rio do destino. E quanto aos homens, são por demais ignorantes, por demais escravizados, para que eu me irrite com eles.”

Ainda que essas palavras certamente tenham uma eloquência eclesiástica, são belas palavras. Eu assino embaixo delas.

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