Manifesto of the Workers' Group of the Russian Communist Party 1923
1. The movement of the proletariat of all countries, especially those of advanced capitalism, has reached the phase of the struggle to abolish exploitation and oppression, the class struggle for socialism.
Capitalism threatens to plunge all humanity into barbarism. The working class must fulfil its historic mission and save mankind.
2. The history of class struggle shows explicitly that, in different historical situations, the same classes have preached either civil war or civil peace. The propaganda for civil war and civil peace by the same class was either revolutionary and humane, or counter-revolutionary and strictly selfish, defending the interests of a concrete class against the interests of society, the nation, humanity.
Only the proletariat is always revolutionary and humane, whether it advocates civil war or civil peace.
3. The Russian revolution provides striking examples of how different classes were transformed from partisans of civil war in those of civil peace and vice versa.
The history of class struggle in general and the last 20 years in Russia in particular teaches us that the current ruling classes who promote civil peace will advocate civil war, ruthless and bloody, when the proletariat takes power; we can say the same of "bourgeois fractions with an ambiguous socialist phraseology", the parties of the 2nd International and those of the 2½ International.
In all countries of advanced capitalism, the proletarian party must, with all its strength and vigour, advocate the civil war against the bourgeoisie and their accomplices - and civil peace wherever the proletariat triumphs.
4. In the current conditions, the struggle for wages and a decrease in the working day through strikes, parliament, etc., has lost its former revolutionary scope and only weakens the proletariat, diverting it from its main task, reviving illusions about the possibility of improving its conditions within capitalist society. We must support the strikers, go to parliament, not to advocate a struggle for wages, but to organise the proletarian forces for a decisive and final battle against the world of oppression.
5. The discussion of the question of a "united front" in the military sense (as we discuss all aspects in Russia) and the singular conclusion there has been on it, has failed, so far, to seriously address this problem, because [in the current context] it is quite impossible to criticise anything.
The reference to the experience of the Russian revolution is only for the ignorant and is not confirmed in any way by this same experience as it remains set down in historical documents (resolutions of congresses, conferences, etc.).
The Marxist vision and dialectic of the problems of class struggle is replaced by a dogmatic vision.
The experience of a concrete epoch with goals and tasks is automatically transported to another that has particular features of its own, which leads inevitably to the imposition, on communist parties around the world, of an opportunist tactic of the "united front". The tactic of a "united front" with the Second International and the 2½ International completely contradicts the experience of the Russian revolution and the programme of the RCP(B). It is a tactic of agreement with the open enemies of the working class.
We must form a united front with all the revolutionary organisations of the working class who are ready (today, not one day or another) to fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat, against the bourgeoisie and its fractions.
6. The theses of the CC of the Communist International are a classic disguise for opportunist tactics in revolutionary phrases.
7. Neither the theses nor the discussions in the congresses of the Communist International have tackled the question of the united front in countries that have completed the socialist revolution and in which the working class exercises its dictatorship. This is due to the role that the Russian Communist Party took in the International and in the internal politics of Russia. The particularity of the question of the "united front" in such countries is that it is resolved in different ways during different phases of the revolutionary process: in the period of the suppression of the resistance of the exploiters and their accomplices, a certain solution is valid, another is needed on the contrary when the exploiters are already defeated and the proletariat has made progress in building the socialist order, yet with the help of the NEP and with weapons in hand.
8. The national question. Many arbitrary appointments, neglect of local experience, the imposition of tutors and exiles ("planned permutations"), all the behaviour of the leading group of the RCP(B) towards the national parties adhering to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, has aggravated in the masses of the many small ethnic groups, chauvinistic tendencies that penetrate the communist parties.
To get rid of these trends once and for all, we must implement the principles of proletarian democracy in the organisation of the national communist parties, each headed by its CC, adhering to the IIIrd Communist International, as well as the RCP(B) and forming an autonomous section of it. To resolve common tasks, the communist parties of the countries of the USSR must convene their periodic congress which elects a standing Executive Committee of the Communist Parties of the USSR.
9. The NEP is a direct consequence of the state of the productive forces of our country. It should be used to maintain the positions of the proletariat conquered in October.
Even in the case of a revolution in one of the advanced capitalist countries, the NEP would be a phase of socialist revolution that it is impossible to pass over. If the revolution had broken out in one of the countries of advanced capitalism, this would have had an influence on the duration and development of the NEP.
But in all countries of advanced capitalism, the need for a New Economic Policy at some stage of the proletarian revolution will depend on the degree of influence of the petty-bourgeois mode of production compared to that of socialised industry.
10. The extinction of the N.E.P. in Russia is linked to the rapid mechanisation of the country, the victory of tractors over wooden ploughs. On these bases of development of the productive forces is instituted a new reciprocal relationship between cities and countryside. To rely on imports of foreign machinery for the needs of the agricultural economy is not right. This is politically and economically harmful insofar as it links our agricultural economy to foreign capital and weakens Russian industry.
The production of the necessary machines in Russia is possible, that will strengthen industry and bring the city and the countryside closer together in an organic way, will remove the material and ideological gap between them and will soon form the conditions that will allow us to give up the NEP.
11. The New Economic Policy contains terrible threats for the proletariat. Apart from the fact that, through it, the socialist revolution undergoes a test of its economy, besides the fact that we must demonstrate in practice the advantages of socialist forms of economic life in relation to capitalist forms - besides all this, we must stick to socialist positions without becoming an oligarchic caste that would seize all the economic and political power and be afraid of the working class more than anything else.
To prevent the New Economic Policy from turning into the "New Exploitation of the Proletariat", the proletariat must participate directly in the resolution of the enormous tasks facing it at this time, on the basis of the principles of proletarian democracy; which will give the working class the possibility of protecting its October conquests from all dangers, wherever they come from, and of radically altering the internal regime of the party and its relations with it.
12. The implementation of the principle of proletarian democracy must correspond to the fundamental tasks of the moment.
After the resolution of political-military tasks (seizure of power and suppression of the exploiters' resistance), the proletariat is led to solve the most difficult and important economic question: the transformation of the old capitalist relations into new socialist relations. Only after the completion of such a task can the proletariat consider itself victorious; if not everything will still have been in vain, and the blood and the dead will serve only to fertilise the land on which will continue to rise the edifice of exploitation and oppression of bourgeois rule.
In order to accomplish this task it is absolutely necessary that the proletariat really participates in the management of the economy: "Whoever finds themselves at the summit of production equally finds themselves at the summit of 'society' and of the 'state'".
It is thus necessary:
* that in all the factories and firms councils of workers' delegates are constituted;
* that the congresses of the councils elect the leaders of the trusts, the unions and the central authorities;
* that the All-Russian Executive is transformed into an organ which manages agriculture and industry. The tasks which are imposed on the proletariat must be confronted with a view to turning proletarian democracy into reality. This must be expressed in an organ which works in an assiduous fashion and institutes within itself permanent sections and commissions ready to confront all problems. But the Council of Commissars of the People which apes some bourgeois ministry must be abolished and its work confided to the All-Russian Executive Committee of the Soviets.
It is necessary moreover that the influence of the proletariat is reinforced on other levels. The unions, which must be real proletarian class organs, must be constituted as organs of control having the right and the means for worker and peasant inspection. Factory and firm committees must perform a control function in factories and firms. Leading sections of the unions which are united in the central leading union must control the reins, with the union leaders joining up in an All-Russian central union - these must be the organs of control at the centre.
But today the unions are performing a function which doesn't belong in a proletarian state, which is an obstacle to their influence and contrasts with the sense of their position within the international movement.
He who is afraid of such a role for the unions shows his fear of the proletariat and loses all links with it.
13. Upon the terrain of the profound dissatisfaction of the working class, various groups are forming which propose to organise the proletariat. Two currents: the liberal platform of Democratic Centralism and that of "Workers' Truth" show, on the one hand a lack of political clarity, on the other, an effort to connect with the working class. The working class is looking for a form of expression for its dissatisfaction.
Both groups, which very probably have honest proletarian elements belonging to them, judging the present situation unsatisfactory, are leading towards erroneous conclusions (of a Menshevik type).
14. There persists in the party a regime which is harmful to the relationship of the party with the proletarian class and which, for the moment, doesn't allow the raising of questions that are, in any way, embarrassing for the leading group of the RCP(B). From this comes the necessity to constitute the Workers' Group of the RCP(B) on the basis of the programme and statutes of the RCP, so as to exercise a decisive pressure of the leading group of the party itself.
We are calling on all authentic proletarian elements (including those of "Democratic Centralism" and "Workers' Truth", of the "Workers' Opposition") and those who find themselves outside as well as inside the party, to unite on the basis of the Manifesto of the Workers' Group of the RCP(B).
The more quickly that the necessity to self-organise is recognised, the less will be the difficulties that we have to surmount.
The emancipation of the workers is the work of the workers themselves!
Moscow, February 1923.
The central provisional organisation bureau of the Workers' Group of the RCP(B)