Andres Nin

In Spain

The Fascist Danger and the Need
for a United Front of the Proletariat

(November 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 5 (Whole No. 101), 30 January 1932, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

(Continued from last issue)

What is missing are mass organizations, such as the Soviets, which assemble the whole working class and become the instrument of the insurrection and of the seizure of power. Above all, there is missing a strong Communist party, without which victory is impossible. If the working class is conquered without a battle or after a heroic but ineffectual putsch, its defeat, its passivity will favor the evolution of the petty bourgeoisie to the Right and will permit the bourgeoisie to lean upon it in striking a death-blow against the proletariat. Under these circumstances, Fascism will find a magnificent basis for its development.

This perspective is possible, but not inevitable, far from it. The working class must keep it in mind in order to foresee all the dangers, and to attack the enemy more surely and more decisively. The situation is clearly a revolutionary one. The capitalist crisis is more aggravated from day to day. There is no solution. The bourgeoisie keeps consolidating its position in a desperate effort, but stumbles over unheard-of difficulties in trying to consolidate them definitely.

It tries to gain time by constituting a government presided over by socialists. The working class must take account of this and not give the bourgeoisie a moment’s breathing spell. In revolutionary periods such as those in which we are living, events develop with extraordinary speed. The revolutionary consciousness of the masses progresses similarly in geometric ratio. What is missing is a party to concretize this revolutionary consciousness into precise formulas and organize the masses for action. This party does not even exist, although there is potentially an intense Communist spirit in the country. The working class must be given this indispensable instrument for its emancipation. A great revolutionary proletarian party must be forged, unifying all the Communist forces which exist in the country, and giving it a clear and precise program. Only in this way can the Fascist danger be averted ; and the Spanish proletariat, allied with the peasants, can advance with a firm and sure step on the road which leads to victory.

The possibilities of success in the struggle against the Fascist danger and in the constitution of a strong Communist party will depend principally on the ability to put an end to the trade union split which has torn apart the working class of our country.

In this sense, the Communist party is called upon to fulfill a role of the very first importance, by struggling implacably against the chronic splitters among the anarchists and the U.G.T., by proving in practice to the proletariat that it desires unity, and by an ardent struggle to attain unity.

Unfortunately, the Party in this field has followed a fundamentally false policy, which culminated in the famous Seville Conference and in the constitution of the Reconstruction Committee, which created a deserved unpopularity for the Communists in the C.N.T., and has deepened the split still further. Three or four months ago the Party, faced with the open collapse of its trade-union policy, announced a “turn”. It gave up the splitting tactics, which had produced such miserable results, and announced the transformation of the Reconstruction Committee into a Unity Committee.

The Spanish Communist Opposition greeted this “turn” with satisfaction, as it was the same thing as an implied recognition of the accuracy of its criticism; at the same time, it encouraged the Communists to prevent the turn announced by the party from remaining on paper, which there was reason to fear from the persistency with which the party stuck to some of its fundamental mistakes.

“As far as the trade union policy is concerned”, said the Central Committee of the Opposition in the open letter addressed, with this purpose, to all members of the party, “the symptoms are even more disturbing. Concrete propositions for a united front have been made to the C.N.T., but the Reconstruction Committee continues to function, and even after the circular of the Political Secretariat announcing the turn in the policies of the party, has published various manifestoes over its signatures. If the wishes of the Executive Committee are sincere, it must prove it in practice. The members of the party must impose their will in this direction on the leaders.”

Our fears were more than justified. The party, far from orientating itself sincerely toward unity, emphasized its policy of division. This is the reality, the more so as it tries to present itself on the outside, formally, as the most resolute defender of unity.

Its decision to call a so-called “Trade Union Unity Conference”, using as in 1925 (!) the Federation of Working Class Organizations of San Sebastian, can only lead to a second edition, revised and enlarged, of the Seville Reconstruction Committee, that is to say, to the creation, of a third central body.

It is evident beyond a doubt that only an insignificant minority of trade unionists will participate in this conference, and that the great organizations of the C.N.T. and the U.G.T. will not send delegates. Under these circumstances, can the conference produce any other result than a new split?

The experience of the last few years shows that this road is not the most desirable one to reach the unity so ardently desired; that with unity conferences and proposals for fusion congresses, absolutely nothing is accomplished. Unity must be achieved from below, after passing through the phase of the united front. The struggle against the bosses’ offensive, the problems presented by the revolution, have shown clearly before the eyes of the working class the necessity of coordinating and unifying its forces. Otherwise, it will be hopelessly crushed by the enemy, and the bourgeoisie, allied with the landlords, will accomplish once and for all the strangling of the revolution.

There is not a single worker, no matter how little conscious be is, who does not understand the necessity of forming a single front with the comrades who work with him in the same factory, in the same shop, in the same mine. The Factory Committee, elected by all workers of the same class without exception, whether or not organized in trade unions, or belonging to the C.N.T., or the U.G.T., or whatever their political affiliation may be, offers them the effective possibility of realizing their unity in action. The struggle for unity must therefore be begun from below, by undertaking an energetic campaign in favor of the constitution of Factory Committeees throughout the country.

Once unity has been achieved in this way from below, the working class, impelled by the very logic of the struggle, will reach the conclusion that it needs, not yet the united front, but unity from the viewpoint of organization, on a national scale. This road is apparently slower than that of the fusion congress which is favored as the first and last step, but in reality it is much faster, and above all, infinitely more effective.

The struggle for unity has, besides, other invaluable advantages pointed out already by us in the past in the first place, it offers the proletariat a magnificent occasion to counterpose the revolutionary control of production, exercised by these Committees, to the project for so-called “workers’ control” worked out by Largo Caballero, which is only a concealed form of class collaboration.

In the second place, in the course of development of revolutionary events in our country, the Factory Committees can serve as a powerful stimulus to the appearance of Soviets, those irreplaceable organs of the proletarian insurrection.

Let us therefore abandon the empty propaganda for trade union unity and those efforts which, like the conference planned by the party, only deepen the split, and let us work actively and resolutely for real and immediate unity in action of the working class, by driving forward with, the greatest energy the creation of Factory Committees.

Barcelona, Nov. 27, 1931


Last updated on 23.3.2013