Pierre Monatte 1922
Source: Bulletin Communiste, November 9, 1922;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2005.
Translated: by Mitch Abidor.
Following the Communist Congress in Paris the disarray is great among French Communists, whether they are members of the party or not. As far as everyone is concerned the party has begun to decompose: the militants of all the fractions have noted this and the newspapers have proclaimed it with joy. The party is coming apart and the fractions that make it up are going their separate ways, without realizing the reasons for which they are moving away and without noticing the road that is opening before each of them.
In this fog of October 1922 a few of us think it useful to make our voices heard. Among us some are members of the party, others aren’t, but we are all revolutionary syndicalists, i.e., we attribute to unions the essential role in the revolutionary struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat, and we grant the part an auxiliary and not a leading role.
In speaking out we have two reasons: 1- We don’t want the center of decomposition to extend its ravages to the union movement; 2- we want to prevent the exploitation of revolutionary syndicalism for the benefit of a tendency in the party at the very moment when it turns its back on the revolution.
Is the spilt that has just taken place between the center and the left of the party a matter of persons? In this case it would be accidental and fortuitous. Or rather does it betray a permanent state of disequilibrium and did occur almost necessarily? In the first case it is curable; in the second it can only become more profound, and today’s rupture announces tomorrow’s split.
Last year’s Marseilles Congress, then the National Council, and now the Paris Congress demonstrate that for some time a serious crisis has touched, if not the deepest strata of the party, at least the crust of influential members, be they ardent and sincere militants, or the elected, or candidates for election or their clients. We will leave it to the political left to tell of the various phases of the discussions and negotiations carried out with the center at the Mixed Commission. We only know what was publicly written or said, but that is enough for us to think that in these circumstances the center only pretended to conclude an alliance in order to better break it up. This is called “treason” in all languages.
The exact meaning of this will only become clear with difficulty to those who didn’t attend this congress and who couldn’t for themselves see the striking insufficiency of internationalist sentiment among most of these delegates to a Communist Congress, to those who didn’t feel the hostility that animated them against Moscow and the revolutionary idea.
This congress marks the triumph of the adversaries of the revolution. There are no hypocritical declarations that can hide this.
We who place the Russian Revolution above all disagreements concerning tactics and doctrine, feel that it is our obligation to put the workers and true revolutionaries in the party on guard and to ask them if they sent their delegates to this congress so they could favor of a break with Russia?
All currents that head towards the same goal are allies, whether they will or no, and if one of them is smashed its allies aren’t reinforced, but rather weakened. This is why revolutionary syndicalism risks being weakened and not reinforced by the crisis in the party, just as it was weakened when the anarchists opened their violent campaign against the dictatorship of the proletariat and against the men and methods of the Russian Revolution.
Today, in the person of the center – which in large part is only a made-up and masked fraction of the right – it is the old party that is reborn, that carries on the party of parliamentary impotence and democratic bankruptcy. Its electoral preoccupations, the importance it grants nationals problems that, incidentally, it looks at through the wrong end of the telescope, attests to this.
We are not in the least in agreement with the political left and Moscow on the role of syndicalism, but at least on that side the positions are honest, while on the other side they aren’t. It is not enough to proclaim union autonomy to practice it. Too many examples to count have shown that organic union autonomy has only served as a pretext to force unions to submit to the influence of the state or of groups of politicians, as was the case with the rue Lafayette. It is important that the CGTU not fall under the influence of a external policy developed under the cover of union autonomy and that it not allow legitimate fears to be exploited.
In conclusion, we ask of syndicalist militants – all the easier to fool since they do not closely follow the life of the party – to carefully look upon the situation and to see who it is that is moving in the right direction.
We ask the workers and revolutionaries in the party if it is truly their ideas that were expressed by the delegates at the Congress or if, yet again, the men who lead the party, the former and future candidates to some electoral position or other, have dragged them along without their knowledge, or even did violence to their deepest sentiments, far from the road that leads to revolution.
This being the case – incidentally the most likely one – they will say with us that it isn’t the Executive in Moscow that can create a true Communist Party, but rather the worker Communists here who have remained silent for too long.
– Pierre Monatte, Robert Louzon, Maurice Chambelland, Ferdinand Charbit, L. Clavel, Y. Orlianges