Manifesto of the Workers' Group of the Russian Communist Party 1923

To the communist comrades of every country!

The present state of the productive forces in the advanced countries and particularly in those where capitalism is highly developed gives the proletarian movement of these countries the character of a struggle for the communist revolution, for power to be held by calloused hands, for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Either humanity will be involved in unceasing bourgeois and national wars, engulfed in barbarism and drowning in its own blood; or the proletariat will accomplish its historic mission: to conquer power and to put an end once and for all to the exploitation of man by man, to war between classes, peoples, nations; to plant the flag of peace, of labour and of fraternity.

The armaments race, the precipitous reinforcement of the aerial fleets of Britain, France, America, Japan, etc., threaten us with war of a severity unknown up to now and in which millions of men will perish; the wealth of the towns, factories, enterprises, all that the workers have created through exhausting work, will be destroyed.

It is the task of the proletariat to overthrow its own bourgeoisie. The more quickly that it does so in each country, the more quickly the world proletariat will realise its historic mission.

In order to finish with exploitation, oppression and wars, the proletariat must not struggle for an increase in wages or a reduction in its hours of work. This was necessary in the past, but today it must struggle for power.

The bourgeoisie and oppressors of all types and hues are very satisfied with the Socialists of all countries, precisely because they divert the proletariat away from its essential task which is the struggle against the bourgeoisie and against its regime of exploitation: they continually propose petty demands without showing the least resistance to subjection and violence. In this way, they become, at a certain moment, the sole saviours of the bourgeoisie faced with the proletarian revolution. The great mass of workers gives a distrustful reception to what its oppressors directly propose to it; but if the same thing is presented to it as conforming to their interests and clothed in socialist phrases, then the working class, confused by this language, is confident in the traitors and wastes its force in a useless combat. The bourgeoisie thus hasn't, and never will have, better advocates than the Socialists.

The communist avant-garde must before everything expel from the heads of its class comrades all crass bourgeois ideology and conquer the consciousness of the proletariat in order to lead it to a victorious struggle. But to burn off all this bourgeois debris, it must be with them, the proletarians, sharing all their troubles and labour. When these proletarians, who until now have followed the accomplices of the bourgeoisie, begin to struggle, to go on strike, it should not stand outside blaming them scornfully - it must, on the contrary, stay with them in their struggle, explaining relentlessly that this struggle only serves the bourgeoisie. Similarly, to say a word of truth, one is sometimes forced to stand on a pile of shit (to stand for elections) even when it means soiling honest revolutionary shoes.

Certainly, everything depends on the balance of forces in each country. And in some situations it may not be necessary to stand for elections, or to participate in strikes, but to go into battle directly. One cannot put all countries in the same bag. One must naturally look at all ways to conquer the sympathy of the proletariat; but not at the price of concessions, forgetfulness or renouncing fundamental solutions. All this must be rejected because a mere concern for immediate success leads us to abandon the real solutions, prevents us from guiding the masses, so that instead of trying to lead them, we end up copying them; not winning them over, but being towed by them.

One must never wait for others, remain immobile, because the revolution will not break out simultaneously in every country. One must not excuse one's own indecision by invoking the immaturity of the proletarian movement and still less adopt the following language: "We are ready for the revolution and even quite strong; but the others are not ready yet; and if we overthrow our own bourgeoisie without the others doing the same, what will happen then?"

Let's suppose that the German proletariat chases out the bourgeoisie and all those who serve it. What will happen? The bourgeoisie and the social traitors will flee far from proletarian anger, turn towards France and Belgium and will entreat Poincaré and co. to settle accounts with the German proletariat. They will go as far as promising France to respect the Treaty of Versailles, perhaps offering them the Rhineland and the Ruhr to boot. That's to say that they will act as the Russian bourgeoisie and its Social Democratic allies did and will do again. Naturally Poincaré will rejoice in such good business: saving Germany from its proletariat and saving, at the same time, Soviet Russia for the thieves of the entire world. Unfortunately for Poincaré and co., as soon as the workers and peasants who compose the army understand that it is a question of helping the German bourgeoisie and its allies against the German proletariat, then they will turn their arms against their own masters, against Poincaré himself. The latter, in order to save his own skin and that of the French bourgeoisie, will recall his troops, abandon the poor German bourgeoisie with its Socialist allies to their fate, and do so even if the German proletariat tear up the Treaty of Versailles. Poincaré, chased from the Rhine and the Ruhr, will proclaim a peace without annexation or indemnity on the principle of self-determination of the peoples. It will not be difficult for Poincaré to come to an understanding with Cuno and the fascists; but a Germany run by workers' councils will break their backs. When you have force at your disposal, you have to use it and not go round in circles.

Another danger threatens the German revolution; it is the dispersal of its forces. In the interests of the proletarian world revolution, the whole revolutionary proletariat must unite its efforts. If the victory of the proletariat is unthinkable without a decisive rupture and merciless combat against the enemies of the working class, the social traitors of the Second International who militarily repress the proletarian revolutionary movement in their - so-called free - country, this same victory is unthinkable without the joining of all the forces which have the aim of the communist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is why we, the Workers' Group of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) whom we count, organisationally and ideologically, among the parties adhering to the 3rd International, look towards honest revolutionary communist proletarians by appealing to them to unite their forces for the last and decisive battle. We address ourselves to all the parties of the 3rd International as to those of the 4th Communist Workers' International,[1] as well as particular organisations which do not belong to any of these Internationals but who pursue our common aim in order to appeal to them to constitute a united front for the combat and victory.

The initial phase has drawn to a close. The Russian proletariat, by basing itself on the rules of the communist and proletarian revolutionary art, has brought down the bourgeoisie and its lackeys of every type and nuance (socialist-revolutionaries, Mensheviks, etc.) who defended it with so much zeal. And, although much weaker than the German proletariat, it has, as we see, repelled all the attacks that the world bourgeoisie led against it, attacks incited by the bourgeoisie, landlords and Socialists of Russia.

It is now incumbent on the proletariat of the West to act, to bring together its own forces and begin the struggle for power. It would evidently be dangerous to close one's eyes to the dangers from within which threaten Soviet Russia, the October revolution and the world revolution. At this time the Soviet Union is going through its most difficult moments: it faces so many deficiencies, and of such a gravity, that they could become fatal for the Russian proletariat and the entire world proletariat. These deficiencies derive from the weaknesses of the Russian working class and those of the world workers' movement. The Russian proletariat is not yet up to opposing the tendencies which, on one side lead to the bureaucratic degeneration of the NEP and, on the other, put in great danger, as much from the inside as from the outside, the conquests of the Russian proletarian revolution.

The proletariat of the entire world is directly and immediately interested in the conquests of the October revolution being defended against all threats. The existence of a country like Russia as the base of the world communist revolution already signifies a guarantee of victory, and as a consequence the avant-garde of the international proletarian army - the communists of every country - must firmly express the still largely mute opinion of the proletariat on the deficiencies and the harm suffered by Soviet Russia and its army of communist proletarians, the RCP (Bolshevik).

The Workers' Group of the RCP (B), which is the best informed of the Russian situation, means to start this work.

We are not of the opinion that we, communist proletarians, cannot talk about our faults because there are in the world social traitors and scoundrels who, as we've seen, could use what we say against Soviet Russia and communism. All these fears are without foundation. Whether our enemies are open or hidden doesn't matter at all: they remain artisans of calamity who cannot live without being harmful to us, the proletarians and communists who want to liberate ourselves from the capitalist yoke. What will follow from this? Must we because of that keep our troubles and faults quiet, not discuss them nor take measures to eradicate them? What will occur if we let ourselves be terrorised by the social traitors and if we keep quiet? In this case things could go so far that there would no longer be the conquests of the October revolution as we remember it. This would be of great use to the social traitors and a mortal blow for the international proletarian communist movement. It is precisely in the interest of the world proletarian revolution and of the working class that we, the Workers' Group of the RCP (Bolshevik), are beginning, without trembling in front of the opinion of the social traitors, to pose the decisive question for the international and proletarian movement in its totality. We have already observed that its faults can be explained by the weaknesses of the international and Russian movement. The best help that the proletariat of other countries can give to the Russian proletariat is a revolution in their own country, or at least in one or two of the advanced countries. Even if at the present time forces are not sufficient to realise such an aim, they would, in any case, be up to helping the Russian working class to conserve the positions conquered by the October revolution, up to the point when the proletariat of other countries rise up and vanquish the enemy.

The Russian working class, weakened by the imperialist world war, the civil war and the famine, is not powerful. But, in front of the dangers which threaten it at present, it can prepare to struggle precisely because it has already gone through these dangers. It will make every effort possible to surmount them and it will succeed thanks to the help of the proletariat of other countries.

The Workers' Group of the RCP (Bolshevik) has sounded the alarm and its appeal finds a great echo in all of Soviet Russia. All those in the RCP who think along proletarian and honest lines are coming together and beginning to struggle. We will certainly succeed in awakening in the heads of all the conscious proletarians a preoccupation about the fate which awaits the conquests of the October revolution. The struggle is difficult; we are constrained to a clandestine activity: we are operating in illegality. Our Manifesto cannot be published in Russia: we have copied and distributed it illegally. The comrades who are suspected of belonging to our group are excluded from the party and the unions and are arrested, deported, liquidated.

At the Twelfth Conference of the RCP (Bolshevik), comrade Zinoviev announced, with the approval of the party and the Soviet bureaucrats, a new formula for stifling any criticism from the working class by saying: "all criticism against the leadership of the RCP whether from the right or the left, is Menshevism" (Cf. his speech at the Twelfth Conference). That means that if the fundamental lines of the leadership do not appear correct to whatever communist worker and, in his proletarian simplicity, he begins to criticise them, he will be excluded from the party and the unions and handed over to the GPU (Cheka). The centre of the RCP doesn't want any criticism because it considers itself as infallible as the Roman Pope. Our concerns, the concerns of Russian workers about the destiny of the conquests of the October revolution - all that is declared counter-revolutionary. We, the Workers' Group of the RCP (Bolshevik), declare, in front of the entire world proletariat, that the Soviet Union is one of the greatest conquests of the international proletarian movement. It is precisely because of that that we raise the alarm, because the power of the soviets, the power of the proletariat, the victory of October of the Russian working class, is threatened with being transformed into a capitalist oligarchy. We declare that we will prevent with all our might the attempt to overturn the power of the soviets. We will do so even if, in the name of the power of the soviets, they arrest us and send us to prison. If the leading group of the RCP declares that our concerns about the October revolution are illegal and counter-revolutionary, you can, revolutionary proletarians of every country, and above all those of you who adhere to the 3rd International, express your decisive opinion on the basis of your knowledge of our Manifesto. Comrades, all the proletarians of Russia who are worried about these dangers which threaten the great October revolution look to you. At your meetings we want you to discuss our Manifesto and insist that your delegates to the 5th Congress of the 3rd International raise the question of fractions inside the parties and of the policy of the RCP towards the soviets. Comrades, discuss our Manifesto and make resolutions. Understand, comrades, that in this way you will help the exhausted and martyred working class of Russia to save the conquests of the October revolution. Our October revolution is a part of the world revolution.

To work comrades!

Long live the conquests of the October revolution of the Russian proletariat!

Long live the world revolution!


[1] This is the KAI (Communist Workers' International, 1921-22), founded on the initiative of the KAPD, not to be confused with the Trotskyist IVth International.