2>A. Nin

In the R.I.L.U.

The Perspectives of the Second Congress of the R.I.L.U.

(November 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 95, 3 November 1922, pp. 734–735.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The first Congress of the R.I.L.U. has accomplished an important work: it has built the foundation of the international organization of revolutionary unions; it has formulated a program of concrete action and given a unified platform to the various tendencies of the left-wing unionism. After its constituent congress, the R.I.L.U. met with numerous difficulties which in a measure have retarded its development. We have overcome the greater part of these difficulties, and we have every reason to hope that after the Second Congress the final consolidation the R.I.L.U. will be achieved, and put in a position to undertake its task of organization and revolutionary activity.

Against us, on the right, stood Amsterdam, and on the left, the Anarcho-Syndicalists. Amsterdam has conducted a relentless fight against us: it has excluded all the militants and the organizations which sympathize with us; it caused the split in the French working class movement; it is now preparing a split in the General federation of Labor of Czecho-Slovakia, and in the most important organizations of Germany. The yellow Amsterdam International has set in full swing an offensive against us; this is a sign of the fear which our activity awakens among the reformist bureaucrats. In all countries we have conducted a tenacious campaign for trade union unity, and have opposed energetically all attempts at secession.

The offensive of the reformists has assumed such proportions, that the Second R.I.L.U. Congress will be forced to adopt a definite line of action for the coming months. We cherish unity as an idea but not as a superstition. The Russian General Federation of Labor, at its recent Congress, decided to bring up before our coming Second Congress the question of the formation of international trade or industrial revolutionary federations. The Russian Comrades who have gone to so much pains to gain admission within these federations and who have been systematically rejected, do not wish to remain isolated any longer. This proposition of the Russian unions is of tremendous importance and will doubtless call forth passionate debate.

Enormous confusion reigns in the syndicalist and the anarcho-syndicalist camps. We nave to combat this confusionism, from the “pure” syndicalism of the Besnard group (France), to the abstract and counter-revolutionary anarchism of Berghi (Italy), and the reformist anarchism, Pestana (Spain).

But a healthy transformation is taking place. The best elements of revolutionary syndicalism in all countries are evolving rapidly towards the acceptance of the principles of Communism and the Russian Revolution.

In Italy, the majority of the Union Sindicale Italiana, grouped around Vecchi, has opposed those who attempted to convert this trade union organization into a branch of the Anarchist Federation.

A similar event took place in Spain where those elements opposed to the anarcho-reformist orientation of the present leaders of the National Labor Federation constituted themselves into revolutionary trade union committees for the propagation of the R.I.L.U. principles.

[some text is missing here] Labor (C.G.T.U.), at its St. Etienne Congress voted adhesion to the R.I.L.U.

The situation is now much clearer than at the time of our First Congress. All those who took part in it remember the sorry spectacle which the French trade union delegation, whose tendencies were as numerous as its membership, presented. At the Second Congress we face a relatively homogeneous trade union section which still makes certain reservations as to adhesion to the R.I.L.U. but with which we are sure to come to an agreement. This agreement will be greatly facilitated by the fact that no one opposes the collaboration between the C.I. and the R.I.L.U. Disagreement appears only when it comes to questions of practical application; but agreement on this matter should be easy. Once agreement has been established within the healthy sections of revolutionary trade unionism, the disintegration of Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism will be precipitated. Those who seem to fear strong, powerful organizations will be able to continue their sectarian work without danger to the revolutionary international unity, by creating what the Executive Committee of lire R.I.L.U. calls a pocket edition International. It will be better that they remain apart from us, that they leave us definitely. The International working class movement will gain thereby in clearness, and the R.I.L.U., freed from the dead weight of subversive elements, will be enabled to devote itself entirely to its revolutionary work.

The R.I.L.U. has met with a certain lack of understanding on the part of certain Communist elements. As we know, there existed in Germany a certain secession tendency; its adherents believed it impossible to destroy the Amsterdam International and favored the abandonment of the idea of creating a Red International of Labor Unions. This tendency represented mostly by the followers of Levi has lost all standing, and has been in turn liquidated. The progress which the R.I.L.U. has made in Germany itself has convinced most Communists of the necessity of continuing relentlessly the work of penetration into the old trade unions. The Second Congress will give precise direction to the trade-union nuclei, so that their work may attain the maximum of efficiency.

Questions of organization will also demand the attention of the Congress. These questions are of the highest importance. During the period of confusion which followed the first Congress, many of the resolutions brought in by this Congress could be carried out only with the greatest difficulty. We have surmounted the obstacles of this first period; the situation is now much clearer; our forces after the Second Congress will be much more closely unified; a true international discipline will have to be established. It is no mere question of putting decisions on paper, but of adopting resolutions capable of application in the various countries.

Our International must not follow in the footsteps of its predecessors; if must not be a mere letter-box, but an international of action. A period of action will now begin after the necessary first period of formation. That is why we must define our doctrine and our tactics at our coming Second Congress.

Last updated on 9 August 2020