Alois Neurath

In the International

The United Front and the Communist Party of Czecho-Slovakia

(17 March 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 21, 17 March 1922, pp. 157–158.
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.

In 1920 the Czech class-conscious workers parted from their social patriotic leaders, in March 1921 the German proletarians followed, and during the end of November of the same year the German and Czech class-conscious proletarians united into the Communist Party of Czecho-Slovakia. The C.P.C. is now able to organize the revolutionary struggle of the working class without being exposed to the sabotage of the opportunists and social patriotic leaders. Every worker who is only superficially acquainted with the political struggle of the last six years understands very well that the split of the old social-imperialistic political parties forms the most primitive prerequisite for the revolutionary class struggle.

When we issued the slogan of the proletarian united front the trade-union and socialist papers represented the situation as if the Communists were merely interested in forming new watchwords, in order by this method to win the proletariat for its political actions. But our delegates not let an occasion slip by without showing the workers that all of their so-called social and political gains are in danger, that the capitalists are attacking the eight-hour day, and that they are preparing a general cut in wages. Last year at the time that the conflict in the metal industry began, we told the workers that the capitalists would not yield if they saw that they only had to do with the metal workers. If it were not possible to get several other large trade-unions to show solidarity in practice, then the arrogance of not only the capitalists in the metal industry, but of all the rest of the exploiters could not be kept in bounds. The Right Socialist trade-union leaders and the Social Democrats made fun of our slogans; but at the end of the struggle the workers were forced to understand that we had been right. Then came the struggle of the financial magnates against the bank employees. The Communists told the proletariat that without doubt the bank employees would also be defeated if larger groups of manual workers did not come to their aid. Again the trade-union leaders tried to discredit our attitude. The workers, however, saw two things: first, that their trade-union leaders and their Right Socialist parliamentarians carried on negotiations with the government and formulated a few phrases about solidarity with the struggling bank employees, and second, that the struggle, however, ended just as the Communists had predicted. Before Christmas 1921, the decisive group of capitalists, the mine barons, began the attack. The Communists said: “This struggle is decisive. If the mine owners win, then the advance of the entire bourgeoisie of Czecho-Slovakia cannot be stopped, and your defeat is inevitable.” The slander of the Right Socialists was in vain. In large meetings the workers expressed their attitude, demanded the extension of the struggle and for the present the general strike of the miners. The capitalists hesitated They postponed the struggle. In the meantimes war was declared against the state employees and they were defeated. They, too, had been left without any support.

And now began (the beginning of February) the great struggle in the mining industry. The problem was now to show in what way the extension of the struggle and the defensive front could be prepared and achieved in practice. As soon as the united front is mentioned, the Socialists of the Right try to shift the basis of discussion. They do not speak of the struggle and its organization but of the bureaucratic prerequisites for a proletarian united front and of the preparation and organization of a “proletarian congress” and the like. The mistrust of the workers (and in this case not alone of the Communist workers) is immediately aroused when they hear of new bureaucratic institutions, the workers ask: “The capitalists want to diminish our income, that is, lower our standard of living, increase our misery. What can we do against them?” The demand for a proletarian congress is rejected. Our party and our delegates pointed to the last struggles and said to the miners:

“The entire bourgeoisie and the government with all the powers of the state are standing behind the mine owners. If you are defeated, then a decrease in wages will follow in all the other branches. You will be defeated, if you, as miners, are forced to remain alone in the struggle. You can only repulse the attack of the capitalists if your front is broadened to include the workers of other vital trades and industries, especially the workers of the transit and transport industries. It is therefore your business to force your leaders to prepare the struggle and so prevent a definite defeat.”

We went to the Right Socialist trade-union organizations and all the Socialist parties and told them essentially what we had explained to the workers. In order to deprive the demagogues of the Right beforehand of all excuses we declared from the beginning that we did not put up a single political demand. We do not speak of the struggle for political power, nor of the Third International, we merely are speaking of those things that are for the proletariat at present the most decisive, namely, of the aim of the bourgeoisie to restore the productive apparatus of the capitalist economic system at the cost of the workers and of how we can prevent this aim. The Social Democrats in the Trade Union Executive and the Socialist parties became extremely embarrassed. The Czech trade-union leaders and the Right Socialists, by far smarter and sharper than the German separatists, answered our letters after the struggle was nearing its end or ended. The German separatists did not give any at all, all the more did they rage in their political newspapers and their trade-union journals.

The workers understood us?

Completely. They above all understood – and that was the most important – that we are really serious, that we really want to build up a united front. They seen and they will feel it still more clearly now, that everything that we said about the struggle, about its course, about its end, is entirely correct and above all they recognize very dearly that this shameful end could been prevented, if the trade-union leaders had respected our proposals.

A conference of the secretaries and delegates of the miners, which took place in Prague, accepted the agreement which had been made by the coal barons and the trade-union leaders. We already reported here about this agreement, and shown how cleverly the defeat had been covered up. However, when the delegates came home, they were received with great indignation, especially in Mährisch-Ostrau, the most important coal district of Czecho-Slovakia. In a vote taken at the pits, 90% of the workers voted against the agreement. Only gradually as the results of the agreement begin to make themselves shown, as for instance, is the case in the Falkenau district, do the workers recognize the extent of the defeat.

During the last months the wage earners without regard to their political affiliations seen that the C.P. has honestly tried to bring about all the necessary prerequisites for the trade-union leaders and the Right Socialists to prevent our endeavors. Before the outbreak of the next struggle the workers will want to decide in time if and how the front of the wage earners shall be extended. Whether or not it will suit the trade-union leaders, they will to, willingly or unwillingly, sit down together with us and seriously talk about the organization of the struggle. The workers will also see to it that such only trade-union leaders will be sent to the conferences as they can trust, in this way, that united proletarian front will gradually develop which will not alone be able to repulse the attack of the capitalists but itself begin an attack. A few dozen or a few hundred bureaucrats cannot build up a united front at proletarian conferences and congresses; this united front will not be able to be anything else than the fruit of long drawn-out struggles and bitter experiences.

Last updated on 2 September 2019