Source: The Daily Worker, February 11, 1925
Publisher: Workers (Communist) Party of America
Transcription/HTML: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). 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.
At a discussion which took place recently in a commission, appointed by the Communist International regarding the question of the re-organization of the Communist Parties, the English comrades pointed out the special difficulties with which the re-organization of the party would meet in Great Britain. To the objections raised by our British comrades, Comrade Piatnitzky, chairman of the organization bureau of the Comintern, replied as follows (the report of this speech of Comrade Piatnitzky is given by Comrade Pollitt, who took part in the meeting):
I THOROLY understand the difficulties which the British comrades have raised; but I ask, comrades: Is the fundamental principle of factory nuclei right? Is it possible to picture a really energetic Communist Party, the foundations of which are not in the factories and works? We all know that this is impossible. For this reason we must not let the difficulties of this reorganization be an excuse for doing nothing at all. We must not worry because this work cannot be carried out in one night; what we must be clear about, is that we must begin at once with the reorganization of the factory nuclei. In spite of all difficulties we must have the will power to start the work. Even if only three members are employed in one factory they must form themselves into a factory nucleus.
IN Russia the party had greater difficulties than anywhere else, and yet we have accomplished our task. In one respect perhaps it was easier for us than for you. The separation between political and trade union activity which exists in other countries, and which is responsible for your having to fight against both parliamentary and trade union bureaucracy, has never existed in Russia. Our work was always political and never divided into different sections. You will however admit, that under the czarist regime we had greater difficulties to overcome than those which you bring forward.
FACTORY NUCLEI are also necessary to prevent the party consisting only of leaders who have lost all actual contact with the masses. The leaders who arise from the factory-nuclei prevent the party taking, any action which does not correspond to the instinctive demands of the masses. These factory-nuclei may easily form the foundation of factory councils.
WHEN there are less than three Communist members in one factory they must try to find sympathizers in order to found a factory-nucleus. The duty of these factory-nuclei is to interest themselves in all that concerns the workers, not only in the works themselves but in the trade unions, the proletariat parties and the co-operative societies.
IF the members are not in any factory, street-nuclei must be organized. In long streets they may, if necessary, be organized according to blocks of houses. The factory-nuclei must of course work secretly. Nevertheless they must develop their activities in such a way that, altho the heads of the factories know nothing about them, the workmen in the factory in question know that there is a group of their colleagues which represent their interests.
THIS group must distribute the party literature and, if possible, issue a factory paper, even if they only write or type it. I would again point out that by means of the factory-nuclei, the leading organizations are kept in constant contact with the masses, and that thus digressions from the right way are avoided. Two examples will prove this to you: in 1917 the Moscow district committee of our party learned that Petrograd workers were fighting in the streets of Petrograd. The intellectuals among the district leaders wished to call out the Moscow workers to street fighting at once. But those members of the district committee who came direct from the factory-nuclei, said: No, the workers are not yet ready for it otherwise we should have reorganized it already from their speeches! Let us organize an ordinary demonstration, so that we may see how many workers take part in it, and then we shall have an idea of the strength of the will to fight of the workers.
This was the right policy. The demonstration was not successful and showed that a much more intensive propaganda was necessary. Had the proposal of the intellectuals been carried, the insurrection would have been crushed immediately.
You know what happened in Germany in the autumn of 1923. The fact that the party was found wanting was a blow to the whole International. The central committee was in no way in touch with the masses. The Chemnitz conference, from which decisive resolutions were expected, was no conference of workers from the factories, but a conference of party functionaries. You know the result: defeat and retreat. The true feeling of the masses found expression in Hamburg, where the workers actually fought in the streets.
I would point out that it was only thru our factory-nuclei that we in Russia arrived at the achievement of our work, before and after the October revolution. How do you imagine that it has been possible for us so successfully to defend the revolution in all its varying phases? Only because we were in the closest contact with the masses and possessed their confidence. Our party is a revolutionary party. We must break away from the old social democratic ideas and methods. You know in what they consist: In the division between parliamentary and trade union action. Look at the example of the German social democratic party! In 1903 the trade union leaders were in favor of a general strike in order to carry thru their demands, whereas the parliamentary leaders were opposed to it. In 1906, the parliamentary leaders demanded a general strike, whilst the trade union leaders refused it.
I NEED not call your attention to the dissension and the jealousy which exist between the general council of the English Trade Union Congress and the leaders of the labor party. Is it not easy to see how the workers are thus split and their fighting spirit weakened?
ONE word more. Every comrade should take every work of the party into consideration. It is bad when MacManus is regarded only as a politician and Pollitt only as a trade unionist. Every member of the party should attempt to carry thru any work of the party. Work as one party, think as one party, always ready to carry thru the party policy to the uttermost when it has once been decided upon. Our party is a political party, it is fighting for the conquest of political power. No member is in too high a position to carry thru the party resolutions or to submit to the party discipline. Try to distribute the work over as large an area as possible, set to work with loyalty and enthusiasm, and in a short time you will see that the party has become a real political factor in England, and you will soon discover that the demand for a daily paper in England is not a mere sentiment. The masses will put pressure upon you to compel you to create one.