First Published: May 1, 1923, in
Rabotnicheski Vestnik No. 259
Source: Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works Sofia Press, Sofia, Volume 1, 1972, pp. 118-112
Transcription/HTML Markup: Mathias Bismo
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2002
Even on the eve of the European War the unity of the proletariat in the key countries of the world was not complete. With their reformist policy, their tactics of class collaboration and their nationalist ideology, the Second Socialist International and the Trade Union International were incapable of creating a united workers' front against capitalism either in the individual countries or on an international plane.
However, the disgraceful and treacherous betrayal committed by the staffs and the chief leaders of these two international proletarian organizations and of their affiliated trade unions and parties, at the declaration and during the whole course of the imperialist war, in proclaiming and maintaining a so-called civil peace, i. e. siding with the bourgeoisie of their own countries and placing the organizations they led at the service of the defence of the capitalist homeland, ultimately destroyed what feeble unity of the workers' masses had been attained up to that time.
But even after the end of the war and the glorious triumph of the proletarian revolution in Russia, instead of quickly re-establishing a united front of the long-suffering and seething workers' masses, in order to secure the triumph of the revolution throughout Europe, the treacherous socialist leaders and trade union bureaucrats once again sided with their national bourgeoisie, helped it to preserve its class domination and to start along the road of restoring capitalism which was shaken by the war and tottering in its foundations, at the expense of an even fiercer exploitation and enslavement of the proletariat, exhausted and bleeding to death.
For five years now the reformists and Amsterdam bureaucrats have been in alliance, in one way or another, with the bourgeoisie in their countries and at a time when it has recovered, rallied its forces, and started a rabid drive to lengthen working hours, reduce real wages and deprive the workers of all their prewar gains, when it is planning new military and imperialist adventures. These heroes of highsounding phrases against capitalism and war are backing the offensive of capital by all possible means, paving the way for fascism, justifying the aggressive actions of their national imperialism and preventing the establishment of a united workers' front against capitalism and imperialism, against fascism and war.
While voting loud protests and long resolutions at their international congresses in Rome and the Hague, against the intention of the French imperialists to invade the most important German industrial area (the Ruhr), and for the preservation of peace, while threatening to organize an international general strike in case of such an invasion and danger of war, the leaders of the Amsterdam Trade Union Federation not only failed to contribute to the creation of the first prerequisite for the success of such a serious action, a united workers' front but, on the contrary, they brought about a split in the General Confederation of Labour in France and in the General Trade Union in Czechoslovakia and, by persecuting and expelling from trade unions the oppositional elements and sections, they are methodically preparing a split in the German Trade Union.
At the same time, they have stubbornly rejected every proposal of the Red Trade Union International and the Communist International for a general international conference or an international workers' congress, with all workers' parties and trade unions represented, in order to successfully organize an action against the Ruhr invasion, against the offensive of capital, against fascism and the new imperialist war threatening the world.
All along the line and in every country, the reformists and Amsterdam leaders are working with a diligence worthy of a better fate against the unity of the proletariat, against the building of a united workers' front, all the time with a view to keeping intact their alliance and their community of purpose with the bourgeoisie.
The heroes of the Second Socialist International and the Amsterdam International Federation are ready to form a united front with Mussolini and his fascist bands in Italy, with Poincaré in France, with the government of Cunow and Stinnes in Germany, with the bourgeois reaction in Czechoslovakia, with the Serbian hegemonist bourgeoisie and its police in Yugoslavia, with the bloc of factory-owners, bankers and profiteers in Bulgaria (in joint electoral tickets with the leaders of the Populist and the Democratic parties, as it happened yesterday), but they refuse to adopt a united front with the communist and revolutionary proletariat, to fight capitalism, to fight against war and for peace.
And when the French imperialist armies invaded the Ruhr and Europe was threatened with a new war, when therefore the time had come to proceed with the implementation of the loud resolutions for an international general strike, the Amsterdam men of the Entente countries virtually sided with the French invaders and oppressors, while the secretary of the Amsterdam Trade Union Federation, Edo Fimen, declared in a tearful voice that the Federation was incapable of carrying out its resolutions and with unprecedented cynicism blamed the workers' masses themselves for it who, he said, were indifferent, intent on their own selfish daily interests and reluctant to fight for major issues.
At the same time, the most immediate interests of the proletariat of all countries, the interests of its self-preservation and self-defence, of repulsing the rabid offensive of capital, of securing its bread, shelter and freedom, as well as its major class interest - its final liberation from the chains of capitalist exploitation, both demand imperatively the immediate formation o f a united front in the trade union and political struggle, on a national and international scale.
History now places the proletariat of all countries and of the whole world before the dilemma - either, in spite of everything, to restore its united front in the fight against the offensive of capital or, if it is not equal to this, to abandon itself to the mercy of an insane and savage gang of capitalists and imperialists and be turned into cattle for decades to come.
And the latter would inevitably happen, were it not for the sound class instinct of the proletariat itself, were the latter unable to draw the lesson from its past bitter experience, were it not for the Communist and the Red Trade Union International, and the Communist parties, the revolutionary trade unions and the opposition wings in the reformist trade unions, who are all working with perseverence and devotion for the formation of a united workers' front.
We must state now that new and considerable successes are scored every day in this respect.
Already powerful workers' opposition trends are being formed within the Social Democratic parties and the reformist trade unions themselves, resolutely standing for a united front. The masses down below are already joining hands, regardless of differences in political opinion and organizational affiliation, for a common struggle through the factory councils in Germany and France, in Italy and Czechoslovakia and many other countries.
The International Workers' Conference in Frankfurt (Germany) in March this year, the purpose of which was to organize a united international action of the proletariat against the Ruhr invasion, against fascism and against the new imperialist war now being planned, testified most convincingly to the growing popularity of the idea of a united workers' front. Although the conference was boycotted again by the staffs of the Second International and the Amsterdam Trade Union Federation, representatives of the factory councils in Germany, France, England, etc., among whom there mere many Social Democrats and Amsterdam men, did take part in it, together with the representatives of the Communist International, the Red Trade Union International, of the communist parties and the revolutionary trade unions of various countries.
The break-up of the coalition of the Social Democratic Party with the bourgeoisie in Saxony and the forming of a socialist government1) with the support of the communists and with a workers' programme, drawn up by the Saxon factory councils, also showed that the united workers' front, from a slogan rallying the proletariat, is becoming more and more of an actual fact, and assuming the important role of a key factor in the political development of Germany which is now heading for a final rupture of the alliance between Social Democracy and the bourgeoisie and the setting up of a workers' government. Only such a government could cope with the terrible crisis which has befallen the German people after the occupation of the Ruhr by the French imperialist armies, and the responsibility for which lies precisely with the bourgeoisie and the reformist staffs.
Today we can safely say that amidst the international proletariat no idea is more popular than that of the united workers' front, for the workers' masses are realizing every day more clearly that the key to the solution of all problems concerning the bread, peace, freedom and future of toiling mankind, lies exactly in a realization of the united front of the proletariat in each country, in Europe and the whole world.
Neither the repulsion of the offensive of capital, nor the elimination of savage fascism, nor the staving off of the new imperialist war, nor, lastly, the triumph of the liberating proletarian revolution, would be possible without a united workers' front, and the joint action of all proletarians and working people in town and village. This is why the united workers' front is to be the first great and historical slogan of this year's May Day demonstrations in all countries.
The Bulgarian proletariat, on its part, under the leadership of the Communist Party and the General Trade Union, is following boldly and persistently the tactics of the united workers' front in all aspects of its struggles and is daily building its indestructible union with the rest of the toiling masses in town and village. On May Day it will once more scornfully reject the divisive attempts of the ideologically and politically bankrupt bourgeoisie, of the raging demagogues and oppressors of the Agrarian Union, of the RightWing Socialist careerists who have sold out to the bourgeoisie, and of the handful of confused anarchists, and it will manifest powerfully its firm and unshakable will to be united, and in a sound and lasting alliance with the masses of small owners in town and village, in the struggle against the urban and rural bourgeoisie, for its own self-preservation and self-defence and for setting up a workers' and peasants' government - the real government of the working people in Bulgaria.
1) A Workers' Government was set up in Saxony on October 11, 1923, following the mass revolutionary movement which spread throughout Germany as a reaction to the Ruhr occupation by French and Belgian forces. It included five Social Democrats and two Communists; the latter, pursuing a weak-kneed policy of compromices, together with the left-wing Social Democrats, impeded the arming of the proletariat and put a brake on revolutionary development in Germany. On October 30, 1923, German army units overthrew the Workers' government.