Red International of Labor Unions
Written: Moscow, July 1921
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THE first Congress of the Red International of Labour Unions held in Moscow, July, 1921, rounded off a great deal of the preliminary work of the Provisional International Council and laid the foundation of the revolutionary International of Labour Unions. For twelve months propaganda had been carried on in all the most important countries of the world explaining the reactionary character and leadership of the Amsterdam International, and to rally the Labour unions of all countries to the Moscow Congress for the purpose of creating a real revolutionary Labour Union International capable of acting across the national frontiers, to wage the international class war, to ensure the triumph of the working class of the world.
We have now to make clear the character of the Red International, and also to devise ways and means of mobilising the workers within the union movement of this country, who are willing to come under its banner for the purpose of winning the whole union movement and its central organisations away from the yellow Amsterdam International into the army of the revolutionary unions of the Red International. To accomplish this task we have to do more than simply propagate the ideas of the Red International in an abstract or idealist fashion. We have to relate the principles of the Red international to our immediate practice, and get the machinery which can efficiently handle this work and give it the most effective expression within the union movement.
To a very large extent both the British Bureau and its committees have been organisations of individuals, with more or less influence in the unions who have been and are keenly interested in winning the masses to revolutionary purposes and policy. Undoubtedly they have carried through, in the short period of their existence as committees, an enormous amount of work. They have made the message of the Red International ring throughout the unions and roused the hostility of the capitalist class and its government as never before. The time has now arrived, however, to harness the work thus accomplished and make a real mass attack on the reactionary forces within the unions.
The central organisations of the Trade Unions of Britain are bound up with the Amsterdam International. While a few unions have shown their nearness to the Red International, the bulk of the unions are not yet near to us. To expect the few unions to carry on an isolated activity would be fatal to them, to the Red International, and to the working class movement as a whole. The immediate task before us, therefore, is to bring together locally and nationally all the union organisations, branches, district committees, councils, etc., which adhere to the Red International policy, for the purpose of unitedly pressing forward our principles, policy and programme of action, etc., right through the movement.
By organising concerted action in councils and conferences, making clear our alternatives to the compromising leadership characterising the union movement, we shall undoubtedly win the masses to the Red International of Labour Unions. For this purpose the British Bureau issues a definite basis of affiliation and urges Trade Union branches and unions, etc., to consider the same and to financially relate themselves to the R.I.L.U. Our task is to create a representative Bureau, i.e., a Bureau composed of representatives elected either by the branches, unions, federations of unions, or trade union congresses, which may affiliate, plus representatives elected by conferences of the local representatives’ committees. This involves also the rapid transformation of the local committees along similar lines. We do not ask the local committees to go out of existence because of their decision, but to immediately proceed to transform themselves into representative committees elected by the trade union branches, district committees, federations, councils, etc.
In this pamphlet, therefore, we have not only set forth the conditions of affiliation to the Red International of Labour Unions, and its constitution, but also set forth in a supplementary chapter, the ways and means by which we intend to organise the work of the Red International in Britain, under the auspices of the British Bureau. A preliminary report of the Red International Congress has already been published and can be obtained from the office of the Bureau, 3, Wellington Street, Strand, London. The present publication of the constitution is complementary to that report. At the earliest possible moment we shall issue further publications enlarging upon and explaining the principles of the Red International and their application in the decisions of the first World Congress of the revolutionary Labour Unions of the world.
1. In order that the revolutionary trade unions should be able to succeed in solving the aforesaid problems on a national and international scale, the following two conditions are necessary: A united understanding of the problems of the Red International and united action in each country. The Red International can fulfil its requirements only when it is based on clearness, and each union joining the revolutionary International is informed of its duties and requirements and to what extent they are to be performed.
2. The Red International of Labour Unions has been created in order to put, in opposition to the ambiguous and bourgeois programme of the yellow Amsterdam International a clear platform in revolutionary action. It is therefore clear that membership in the Red International is possible when certain obligations are fulfilled, without which the members may become as formal and inactive as is the case with our opponents.
3. The first condition, is, therefore, the recognition and the fulfilment of the principles of revolutionary class struggle; this means that only those trade unions can become members of the Red International which carry on the struggle against the system based on classes and against all forms of class co-operation; only those who combat, not by words but by deeds, the theory of social peace and the efforts to solve the social question by harmonious co-operation with the ruling classes; the revolutionary class-struggle is the basis of the Red International.
4. The revolutionary class-struggle must always be conducted with the constant aim in view of overthrowing capitalism and establishing the power of the toilers, i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat. In order to bring about the social revolution and destroy class antagonism, the working class has to be organised solidly and must create the means for its struggle, otherwise it will defeated during the first days of the revolution. We must oppose the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie by the concentratedated power of the working class which realises class aims and tasks. The recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the second consideration to be reckoned with.
5. At the first period of the existence of the Red International, in the period of organisation, there were cases of simultaneous affiliations of different unions to both Internationals. An end should be put to such “double allegiance.” Breaking with the Amsterdam International is for the general labour union centres a prerequisite for the affiliation with the Red International, because such a simultaneous affiliation with two mutually antagonistic organisations is inadmissible in theory and extremely detrimental in practice. In the countries where the general trade union centres belong to the Amsterdam International, separate unions, federations or national minorities may belong to the Red International and at the same time remain within the old trade union organisations.
6. The fourth condition for joining the Red International consists in the unity of action on the part of all the organisations affiliated with it in each country. If, as a transitional measure, we could allow the existence of several organisations affiliated with the Red International, it would only be on condition of their having concerted defensive and offensive action against the bourgeoisie. This condition is absolutely essential, as, otherwise, it might happen, as was the case in the March days in Germany, that some organisations belonging to the Red International carry on an armed fight against the bourgeoisie, while others attack our comrades in the rear.
7. An international organisation is only then properly established when its decisions are carried out by corresponding organisations in all countries. The experience of international organisations before, and especially during the war shows that many organisations do not consider the decisions adapted by international congresses as binding on the national organisations. But the Red International cannot endorse their standpoint and therefore establishes the necessity of international proletarian discipline, i.e., that separate national organisations must abide by the decisions of the International Congresses and Conferences.
THE class struggle has now reached such a degree of development and acuteness that the working class, in order to successfuly conduct and complete its struggle for emancipation, must fight as a solid revolutionary class power, not only on a national, but also on an international scale against the bourgeoisie who, despite the severe competition on the world market, is closely united in its hatred of the proletarian revolution and solidly welded against the slightest attempt of the proletariat to free itself from exploitation. Since the exploitation is international the fight against it must have an international character. All internationals of labour unions, which existed up to the present moment, at best were but international statistical bureaus for mutual information. The International Secretariat of Labour Unions before the war was merely an information agency, it did not pursue any militant class aims. The Amsterdam International of Labour Unions is even less fit to deal with the issues at hand, than its predecessor. The first was but an information office; the latter occupies itself with politics of the worst kind, with anti-proletarian, bourgeois politics. It sets forth the idea of class co-operation, social peace and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism. In its essence it is an international of counter-action to the struggle for emancipation of the working class. Against this International of impotence, confusion, subservience to the bourgeoisie, such as the Amsterdam International is, we must oppose—an International of revolutionary vigour, of class activity, an International which, together with the Communist International, will organise the working class for the overthrow of capitalism, the destruction of the bourgeois state and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat; an International which will seize all the means of production and establish the Communist Commonwealth.
Such a militant labour union International can be built up only by revolutionary class unions, conscious of the purpose and methods of the defensive and offensive struggle against the class enemy. The problem history has put before the revolutionary unions requires the utmost concentration of power, unexampled intensity and the greatest self-sacrifice of the conscious vanguard elements of the working class.
The international congress of revolutionary, class-conscious trade and industrial unions, which unites the revolutionary labour union organisations of all countries, decides to create a permanent international organisation under the name: THE RED INTERNATIONAL OF LABOUR UNIONS.
The Red International of Labour Unions has for its aims:
(1) To organise the large working mass in the whole world for the overthrow of capitalism, the emancipation of the toilers from oppression and exploitation and the establishment of the socialist commonwealth,
(2) To carry on a wide agitation and propaganda of the principles of revolutionary class struggle, social revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and revolutionary mass action for the purpose of overthrowing the capitalist system and the bourgeois state.
(3) To fight against the corruptive ulcer, gnawing at the vitals of the world labour union movement, of compromising with the bourgeoisie, against the ideas of class cooperation and social peace and the absurd hopes for a peaceable transition from capitalism to socialism.
(4) To unite the revolutionary class elements of the world labour union movement and carry on decisive battle against the International Bureau of Labour, attached to the League of Nations and against the Amsterdam International Federation of Trade Unions, which by their programme and tactics are but the bulwark of the world bourgeoisie.
(5) To co-ordinate and regulate the struggle of the working class in all countries and organise international demonstrations each time, when the situation demands them.
(6) To take the initiative of international campaigns about prominent events of class struggle, to open subscription lists for the benefit of strikers in great social conflicts, etc.
Any revolutionary economic class organisation is eligible to membership in the Red International of Labour Unions if it accepts the following conditions:
(1) Endorsement of the principles of revolutionary class struggle.
(2) Application of these principles in its daily struggle with capitalism and the bourgeois state.
(3) Recognition of the necessity of the overthrow of capitalism through the social revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat for the transition period.
(4) Recognition and submission to the international proletarian discipline.
(5) Recognition and application of the decisions of the Constituent Congress of the Red International of Labour Unions.
(6) The rupture with the Amsterdam yellow International.
(7) United action with all the revolutionary organisations and the Communist Party of the country in all defensive and offensive activities against the bourgeoisie.
The International Congress of revolutionary class trade and industrial unions is the supreme organ of the Red International of Labour Unions. Congresses take place as much as possible, at least once a year. They determine the general principles, programme, tactics and statutes; elect the directing organ and decide all the questions connected with the orientation of the Red International of Labour Unions. Extraordinary congresses are called by the decision of the Executive Bureau or at the demand of organisations representing no less than one-third of the members of the Red International of Labour Unions.
All trade and industrial unions which accept the programme and are following the directions of the Red International of Labour Unions have the right to send delegates to the congresses.
The representation is distributed as follows:—
Every national organisation of trade or industrial unions, having less than 10,000 members, receives one consultative voice on the congress; national organisations having from 10,000 to 25,000 members send one delegate with a deciding vote; from 25,000 to 100,000 members—two delegates with deciding votes; from 100,000 to 250,000—four delegates with deciding votes; from 250,000 to 500,000—six delegates, and for each additional 500,000 members one delegate with a deciding vote is added. International revolutionary class organisations by trades or industries have the right to two deciding votes each.
Organised minorities in countries have the same representation, but all the organisations of a given country affiliated with the Red International of Labour Unions make up a single delegation, inside of which the votes are divided proportionally to the membership of the respective organisations. Organised minorities and fractions have representation on the congress only in the case, when the general labour union organisation of that country is not affiliated with the Red International of Labour Unions.
The Red International of Labour Unions has two organs: The Central Council and the Executive Bureau.
CENTRAL COUNCIL.—The Central Council is composed as follows: England, United States, Germany, Italy, Spain, Czecho-Slovakia, Poland and France have two representatives each; Russia has four; all other countries having more than 25,000 have one representative with a deciding vote; countries having less than 25,000 have one representative with a consulting voice; International organisations by trades or industries have one representative with a consulting voice.
The Central Council directs all the work of the Red International of Labour Unions from congress to congress; takes all decisions necessitated by the circumstances; represents the Red International of Labour Unions before the whole world; acts in its name; gathers in its hands all the materials and documents related to the International labour movement; manages all funds, including the International Fund of Militant Solidarity; publishes papers and magazines in different langauges—in short, is the organ invested with the power to direct the work between the world congresses.
The Central Council meets at least twice a year, dealing mostly with the clearing of questions of principles, and leaving all current work to the Executive Bureau.
The EXECUTIVE BUREAU.—The Executive Bureau consists of seven members elected by the Central Council, including two members of the country where the Headquarters of the Red International of Labour Unions is located.
The Executive Bureau directs all the current affairs of the Red International of Labour Unions. It regulates the work of the departments and sections; publishes the official organs of the Red International of Labour Unions; represents the Red International of Labour Unions and the Central Council wherever and whenever it is necessary; and prepares all the questions for the sessions of the Central Council. The Executive Bureau meets at least once a week.
Minorities of general labour unions and of national centres affiliated with the Red International and separate organisations affiliated with it must co-ordinate all their actions. In case in a given country the general federation of all unions affiliates with the Red International no other separate organisations can affiliate with it. The revolutionary organisations endorsing the stand of the Red International must join the general labour union organisation of their country.
The funds of the Red International are composed of regular dues paid by the national organisations affiliated with it and of special contributions. The quota of the payments is established as follows: at least 1 per cent. of the total income of the organisations which receive into their central treasury 50 per cent. or more of the membership dues; at least 2 per cent. from those organisations receiving into their central treasury 25 per cent, to 50 per cent, of the membership dues; at least 3 per cent. from those organisations receiving from 10 per cent. to 25 per cent. of the membership dues, and at least 5 per cent. from those organisations receiving less than 10 per cent. of the membership dues. Until the creation of the necessary fund, all financial means will be furnished by the general labour organisation of the country where the headquarters of the Red International of Labour Unions is located.
For the purpose of supporting the militant revolutionary struggle of the workers in different countries, the congress decides to establish an International Fund of Militant Solidarity.
This fund is composed of special receipts and special collections and transfer to it of sums from the general fund. Fifty per cent. of all the income of the Red International of Labour Unions are turned over directly to the International Fund of Militant Solidarity. This fund is disbursed at the disposal of the Executive Bureau, which gives regular accounts about the disbursements to the Central Council.
The Red International of Labour Unions admits to membership not only general labour union organisations by countries, but also international organisations by trades and industries.
The Executive Bureau shall create a special section of trade and industrial organisations for the purpose of serving the needs of separate industrial organisations and establishing closest possible connections with them. International trade and industrial organisations establish their connection with the Red International of Labour Unions through their special representatives at the International Congresses.
To establish close and unbreakable connections between the Red International of Labour Unions and the Third Communist International, the Central Council:
(1) Sends three representatives to the Executive Committee of the Communist International with deciding votes and vice versa.
(2) Organises joint sessions with the Executive Committee of the Communist International for the discussion of the most important issues of the international labour movement, and for the organisation of common action.
(3) Issues, when it is warranted by the events, joint appeals with the Communist International.
For the purpose of co-ordinated action and mutual information the Central Council of the Red International of Labour Unions sends a representative with a consulting vote to the executive organ of the International of Revolutionary Co-operatives, as soon as it will definitely constitute itself.
Organisations affiliated with the Red International of Labour Unions which, by their action, have violated the decision of the congresses or do not obey the decisions of the Central Council can be expelled by the decision of the Central Council, on condition that the motion of expulsion must be carried by not less than a two-thirds vote.
In case the violation is done by the central organs of a given organisation the Central Council of the Red International of Labour Unions must call upon the membership of that organisation to consider, in a special conference or congress, the dispute at issue between their leading organ and the Red International of Labour Unions. The question of expulsion is taken up by the Central Council, only after the conference or convention of that organisation had reached a decision on the question at issue. The expelled organisation has the right to appeal from the decision of the Central Council to the next international congress, which may endorse or annul the expulsion.
The Red International of Labour Unions designated to direct the struggle of the proletariat and to inform its members of the situation in different countries, must adapt its apparatus to the work it must perform. For this purpose the Central Council develops its apparatus by creating such sections and departments as shall be necessary.
For the normal conduct of affairs and close contact of the Red International of Labour Unions with the labour union organisations of different countries, the Red International must establish monthly reports of all the organisations affiliated with it and periodical trips to the most important countries by the members of the Central Council, especially in connection with the arising big economic conflicts.
The Red International of Labour Unions is publishing its official organ in four languages (French, German, English and Russian) and a bulletin in the same languages. Besides those two organs for systematic information and ideological leadership, the Central Council of the Red International shall, turn their attention to the system of circular letters and visiting trips to organisations.
The Central Council of the Red International of Labour Unions elects an auditing committee of three, which supervises the correct expenditure of funds and gives periodical reports to the congresses.
The permanent location of the Red International of Labour Unions is decided by the Congress. The time and place of the congress are designated by the Central Council.
1. The British Bureau of the Red International of Labour Unions shall consist of representatives of such organisations enumerated below, which agree to accept the principles of the Red International of Labour Unions, to unite for action within the British trade union movement, and to win over the British trade unions from the Amsterdam I.F.T.U. to the R.I. of L.U.
2. The Bureau shall be formed as follows:—
(A) Each union affiliating nationally shall elect two representatives and pay an affiliation fee of 10s. per 1,000 members per annum.
(B) Each federation, or federal body, affiliating nationally shall elect two representatives and pay an affiliation fee of 1s. per 1,000 per annum.
(C) A national conference of local committees formed, as outlined in paragraph 3, shall elect two representatives or more according to the relative strength of local and national affiliations at the time of the national conference.
3. Local committees of the R.I. of L.U. shall be formed as follows:—
(A) Trade union branches agreeing to the principles and practice of the R.I. of L.U. shall elect two representatives to the local committee and pay an affiliation fee of 2d. per member per annum. One penny per member per annum of the affiliation fee to be relegated to the national bureau. Where any union as a whole is already affiliated to the Bureau, the local affiliation fee shall be 1d. per member per annum for local work.
(B) District committees of trade unions may affiliate, on acceptance of conditions outlined and payment of affiliation fee of 2s. per 1,000 members per annum.
(C) Trades councils and local trade union federations shall affiliate on acceptance of conditions and payment of an affiliation fee of 1s. per 1,000 members per annum. Fifty per cent. of local affiliation fees shall be devoted to the Bureau.
4. The British Bureau shall be independent of the British Communist Party, but shall work in accord and co-operation therewith, translating into the national arena, the same relations as exist between the Central E.C, of the R.I. of L.U. and the Communist International. Accordingly the E.C. of the C.P. shall have one representative on the British Bureau, and the B.B. have one representative on the E.C. of the C.P.
5. The regularity and frequency of the meetings of the Bureau and committees shall be determined by the needs of the situation.
6. The Bureau and its committees shall conduct a vigorous campaign within the trade unions on behalf of the R.I. of L.U., prepare the programmes of action for adoption by the unions as alternatives to the compromising programmes of the yellow leaders of Amsterdam, and do all in its power to revolutionise the practice of the unions and draw them into the Red International of Labour Unions.
These proposals were adopted by the British Bureau on September 30, 1921. The workers of Britain must rally to the British Bureau, and from now onward attempt to secure the affiliation of their respective organisations to the R.I. of L.U.
Line up with the “Reds,” Down with the “Yellow” Amsterdam International!
Long live the Red International of Labour Unions!