Fritz Heckert

Communist Recruiting Week

The Aims of Recruiting Week

(1 November 1921)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. I No. 4, 1 November 1921, pp. 33–34.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2019). 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.

With the motto “Go to the Masses’, the Communist International summons all its members to agitate during the week of November 3rd–10th among the great masses of the urban and rural proletariat, as yet unresponsive to Communism, and to rouse them to the struggle for freedom. The Communist International is undertaking for the first time a general mobilization throughout the world, wherever proletarians are groaning under the heel of the oppressor. The workers are becoming more and more disillusioned concerning the “glorious times promised to them in the large capitalist countries in return for their participation in the World-War adventure. The policy of the capitalist class has resulted in an overwhelming wave of unemployment, a staggering rise in the cost of living and an imperilling of the worker’s existence. If the workers try to resist, if they try to organize in self-defense, if they attempt to use the strike as a weapon, if they gather in demonstrations, the bestial bourgeoisie uses every means to strike them down, and calls this assassination “Protection of Rights’ and “Establishment of Order”. Influential labour-leaders have not only supported these measures of the bourgeoisie, but in many countries they alone have made them possible. During our Recruiting Week we must demonstrate to the workers that the continuation of capitalism, which they have tolerated until now, can only result in the ruin of the working class and of the economic life of the world.

Our Recruiting Week, therefore, cannot he likened to the Recruiting Weeks of the Social Democratic Parties, which are only organized to win party-members or readers for their organs. We will also do everything possible to gain new members for the Communist partis and to increase the number of subscribers to the Communist periodicals. A party organization strong in members and a widely-spread communist press are necessary for the victory of the proletariat. The increasing of the membership cannot create, however, what the Recruiting Week should bring about. The composition of the Communist Party must be altogether different in quality from that of the Socialist Parties. The Communist Parties are parties of action, their members must at all hours be ready to make the greatest sacrifice for the cause of the proletariat ...

We can say therefore, that our Recruiting Week depends especially on the spiritual contact of the Party with the large proletarian masses and also on the convincing of the workers remaining outside of the Party that the Communist International is their true leader.

Keeping in mind the principal aim of Communism, our propagandists must come in close contact with the masses, and in connection with the daily struggles and needs of the workers show them the way leading out of capitalist slavery into freedom. The struggle for the final aim of Communism is only organized during the general struggle against life’s daily troubles. The spiritually backward proletarian is unable to realize that the struggle to free himself from these troubles leads to the overthrow of capitalism and the setting up of lhe dictatorship of the proletariat. To the ordinary workers reared in the oppressive capitalist system and lacking political opinions, the Communist aim seems so enormous that he cannot grasp it. and considers it unattainable and therefore utopian. The worker will learn to fight implacably for the Communist aim only when he realizes that, in the struggle for his existence, minor reforms cannot free him, and that he must give a larger form to the struggle for the freeing of the workers, and must use more effective means. The purpose of the Communist Party is to lead the workers in these unavoidable struggles in such a way that they will more easily find their way and suffer less defeat. In the Recruiting Week when we speak at meetings, when we peak with our colleagues, when we go from house to agitate, when we write in the periodicals, we will tell our suffering and oppressed class comrades what to do to succeed in the struggle against the doubles and needs of every day. This is not difficult. In the last few weeks the world economic crisis has become more acute in all countries, and has brought untold suffering to the working class. The world economic crisis appears under various aspects in different countries. In one country it has been an increase of unemployment, in another the tremendous rise in the cost of living, or both. The capitalist are trying to throw the burden of this world crisis on the working men. It is easy to make this clear to the workers.

When capitalist production does not bring sufficient profit, the capitalist uses every means to guard himself against loss. He throws the workers pitilessly out into the street. He raises the cost of living. He beats down salaries, and for this purpose he creates lock outs, mobilizes strike-breakers and organizes White-Guard bands whom he permits to murder working men and to destroy workers’ enterprises in order to intimidate the workers. The capitalist seeks to increase the hours of work or the efficiency of labor, in case wages remain the same. Protection for the workers is made impossible. The most indispensable articles are raised in price, the production of goods which do not bring big profits is stopped. We see this best in the failure to relieve the shortage in dwellings. Housing accommodations for the lower classes are neglected. Hospitals and nurseries are closed. Invalids, pensioners, and cripples are abandoned. Through the most subtle systems of taxation a considerable part of the workman’s income is stolen. In order to carry this out more easily the capitalist buys the periodicals, the newspapers, controls literary production and employs thousands of agitators to influence the workers in a manner favourable to his own interests. The capitalist strives to demoralize and to destroy the workers’ organizations, especially the labor unions. With a subtle system of swindle and lies capitalism tries to eliminate these organizations from the struggle against it. When it does not succeed in this, it tries to destroy them by means of force. Labor leaders are bought by the capitalist, an army of spies is suborned among the working class. Through special favours to single working men or groups of workers it is sought to split up the working masses. Those who are working are incited against the unemployed and vice versa. All these things can serve well in teaching the workmen. The majority of our class comrades do not understand the relation between these things. They live through the troubles of their time, helpless; they feel as if they are astray in a primeval forest. Their perception is often warped by the organizations on whose protection they depend. This does not necessarily happen because of the malice of the leaders of these organizations. It takes place naturally because most of the unions do not grasp the situation or because they are frightened by the enormity of the task. Our agitators must bear this situation in mind. They must therefore not try to blame all these faults of the labor organizations on the criminal leadership of these organizations. The faith of the working men in the justice of communism will not be strengthened through an continual nagging of the workers about their troubles and their bad leadership, but rather through our armor-plated argument, through our good advice, through the intelligent proposals we suggest to them to help them in their need, in our readiness to fight at the head of the workers even in the most insignificant struggles against daily suffering.

The Recruiting Week must also give us a better conception of the psychology of the workers. We must learn the ways they react to the troubles which press upon them. We must be able to judge the value of their arguments against our doctrines and our tactics. We must learn to find the cardinal point in the working man’s soul, and in his understanding, in order to raise him from his lethargy and to turn him from an unfeeling follower or even an enemy into an active, energetic element in the proletarian class struggle.

The results of our Recruiting Week need not show themselves in an immediate increase in the party membership or of subscribers of our periodicals. They must show themselves in the spirit which animates the workers in their struggles, and their reaction toward the Communist watch-words and to the directing of the struggle by our party. If there are no such results that will prove that our Party has not worked well. Will that show the deficiency of the Party itself and not the backwardness of the masses? The Recruiting Week will be the acid test of the ability of our organization, after a unified campaign, on an national and international scale, to interest the workmen in Communism and to mobilize them for the class struggle. The deficiencies in the organization which will be noted during the Recruiting Week or when the results are measured, must be removed.

Every member of the Party has not only the opportunity but also the duty to show during Recruiting Week that he has fully earned the title of Communist. Everyone must help according to his ability, and everyone can help in the great work. In the Recruiting Week not only our own Party but the members of other workers’ parties can see whether we differ from the others only in revolutionary phrases or in purposeful work. Whoever impairs the success of Recruiting Week through idleness or bad propaganda harms this work not only immediately but permanently, because a failure of Recruiting Week will be a triumph to our opponents and will make our approach to the masses more difficult in the future. The aim of our Recruiting Week is limited; We must try not only to attain this goal but to surpass it. Every man to his post.

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Last updated on 9 January 2019