Heinrich Brandler

The Amsterdamers in Czecho-Slovakia
with the Bourgeoisie Against the Workers

(8 September 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 77, 8 September 1922, pp. 576–577.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

From Czecho-Slovakia it is reported that the official statistics reveal 600,000 unemployed. Along the whole far-stretching German frontier, unemployed are daily emigrating into Germany with and without permission, in order to seek work in the border districts. At all the frontier stations, one can observe three types of emigrants. The opulent bourgeoisie is taking advantage of the depreciation of the mark in order to recover in the luxurious German baths from the exhaustion brought about by the exploitation of the Czecho-Slovakian workers. Another class of emigrant consists of those belonging to the middle and petty bourgeoisie, who are streaming into the German frontier stations in order to purchase whatever articles they can get hold of. The third group consists of that army of poor workers, who, after months of unemployment take the road to Germany in order to seek work, although the proceeds of their work do not suffice to provide for their own scanty existence, to say nothing of their earning something for the maintenance of their families.

The trade union leaders belonging to the Amsterdam International make use of this time of the greatest distress among the working class of Czecho-Slovakia, in order to split the working class, thereby making them still more incapable of resisting the reductions of wages and lengthening of hours which the employers, supported by the forces of the state, are imposing on the working class.

Nowhere does the treachery of the Amsterdam “labor leaders” appear more flagrant than in Czecho-Slovakia. Nowhere is the destruction of the trade unions proceeding more violently than in Czecho-Slovakia. As a consequence of the world economic crisis, the German and Czechish working masses in the Czecho-Slovakian republic are becoming radicalized. In all the unions this process of radicalization is proceeding upon democratic lines. In most of the unions this process is going on even among the old trade union bureaucracy of the more active and better kind. The members of the individual central organizations are convinced of the practical sterility of the old Amsterdam trade union tactics, and the overwhelming majority are deciding to take up the position and tactics of the Red International of Labor Unions. The splitting of the individual trade unions first took place in the Czechish unions, after the little insignificant minorities who still abide by the Amsterdam tactics, by the policy of complete inaction, began, under the directions of the Amsterdam leaders the work of splitting on an extensive scale. At the international congress of the Amsterdamers in Rome, in addition to the official resolutions which endorsed their policy of submission to the policy of the bourgeoisie, secret councils were held as to the means by which the Amsterdam trade union bureaucracy could retain its old influence against the increasing radicalization of the trade union members. Like the Roman Augurs, they decided, under cover of a loud outcry against the "splitting tactics” of the Communists and the followers of the R.I.L.U., to split the trade unions by expelling all Communists and revolutionary workers, in order to retain the indifferent masses and the old trade union funds and machinery in their hands. The Amsterdamers in Poland and in France had already followed this method before the Rome Congress. The decision of the Czechish wood workers to proclaim the principles of the Red International of Labor Unions, formed the starting point for the splitting of the Czechish Trade Union Federation by the federation bureaucracy. Previous to the Wood Workers’ Union, ten of the most important trade union centres of Czecho-Slovakia had already pronounced in favor of the principles of the R.I.L.U., without the bureaucracy having ventured on that account to break up the Czechish Trade Union Federation. The adherents of the R.I.L.U. did everything to prevent the splitting of the Czechish trade union committee. They did so because they were firmly convinced that they would soon gain the majority in the leading organs, which they already possessed among the members.

This firm confidence which the followers of the R.I.L.U. had, is the determining ground for the Amsterdam bureaucrats in shattering the Trade Union Federation in Czecho-Slovakia. The Wood Workers’ Union was expelled on account of its adherence the R.I.L.U. Fourteen trade union central committees protested against the expulsion. Majorities or large minorities of the members in other unions voiced their protest. The Amsterdam bureaucracy turned a deaf ear to these protests, and proceeded to expel the protesting unions, such as the Chemical Workers’ Union, and others. This perfidious, destructive activity of Amsterdam, compelled those groups in the reformist unions favoring the principles of the R.I.L.U, and the central committees of fourteen trade union organizations, which espoused the principles of the R.I.L.U. to take a definite stand and enter upon decisions of far-reaching importance.

For the Trade Union Federation it was not sufficient to expel the red trade unions from the national federation, but it also split the various national trade unions. The Amsterdamers ordered their adherents to break away from the red trade unions and form other, special organizations. They are even on the point of expelling the revolutionary minorities in the other reformist unions. Thus the destruction of the Czechish trade unions is in full swing.

The conference of the expelled unions and revolutionary minorities in the reformist organizations, which was held in Prague on the 18th of August, decided to adopt the following measures against this destruction of the trade unions:

  1. The expelled unions shall link themselves together and cease payment of contributions to the Trade Union Federation. At the same time a great campaign shall be conducted, to appeal not only to the followers of the R.I.L.U., but to those workers who are opposed to the destruction of the trade unions, to stop the payment of contributions to the splitters until they abandon these treacherous tactics.
  2. The leaders of the revolutionary unions, and the committees of the organized groups of revolutionary minded workers within the reformist unions, shall jointly and with the authority of the R.I.L.U. convene an extraordinary congress of the trade unions in the near future.
  3. The opposition groups in the reformist unions shall discuss the situation created, at a conference, and there, where the leaders of the reformist unions have already commenced the expulsion of individuals or groups of workers, they shall as a protest against these proceedings, cease the payment of contribution to their centres, and in case of expulsion shall provisionally join the union of the chemical and factory workers.
  4. The agitation committee and the conference of the central committees of the unions are of the opinion, that there must be created a united international of trade unions in Czecho-Slovakia for the workers of all nations and of all branches of industry. They give to all workers who, in spite of the destructive work of the Amsterdamers, are not yet convinced of the correctness of the tactics of the R.I.L.U. the assurance that they have in their organization perfect liberty of opinion and the right to form fractions. They declare that essential differences of opinion among them shall be fought out with intellectual weapons on the basis of working class democracy. Dictatorship, which the Amsterdamers ruthlessly employ against their class comrades who hold other views, in order to assist the bourgeoisie and to render the workers incapable of struggle, will only be employed by the adherents of the R.I.L.U. for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and not for the suppression of class comrades who do not happen to think like them.
  5. To immediately link up with the workers of German nationality, who are organized in the unions belonging to the Reichenberg Trade Union Committee, through the oppositional groups and fractions, in order to win these unions as a whole or the new organized body which is to be formed.

Apart from the demands of the United Federation, which we regard as a task which cannot be realized at the moment, we are of the opinion that the Czechish revolutionary trade unionists have by these demands done what had to be done in order to make good, as quickly as possible, the destruction of the Czechish trade unions caused by the Amsterdamers, and to form revolutionary, fighting organizations which are in a position to offer decided resistance to the capitalist offensive.

The splitting of the trade unions in Czecho-Slovakia is particularly extensive. As the Amsterdamers are only the lackeys of their bourgeoisie, there existed, even before the splitting of the trade unions, separate German and Slovakian trade unions. In addition to the national cleavages there are yet workers in Jewish, Catholic and Protestant Trade unions. If our comrades succeed in repelling the splitting offensive of the Amsterdamers, the foundation will have been laid for the formation of a central, consolidated, trade union federation in the Czecho-Slovakian republic, which will be in a position to overcome the national and religious distinctions through the prosecution of the class struggle.

We are convinced that our Czechish comrades will bend all their efforts in order to carry to a conclusion the work that has been begun. The workers of all countries have an interest in this, for it will depend upon the rapidity and upon the vigour with which our Czechish comrades succeed in warding off the splitting offensive, whether or not the Amsterdamers will also bring their treacherous plans into execution in other countries.

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