Leon Trotsky

The First Five Years of the Communist International

Volume 2

A Militant Labour Programme
for the French Communist Party

December 5, 1922

1) The party’s most pressing task is to organize the resistance of the proletariat against the capitalist offensive which is under way in France as in every other major industrial country. The defence of the 8-hour working day, the maintenance and increase of prevailing wage scales, the struggle for all the immediate economic demands – all this is the best possible platform for reuniting the disorganized proletariat and restoring its confidence in its own strength and future. The party must immediately take the initiative in every united mass action that is capable of halting the offensive of capitalism and instilling the working class with the spirit of unity.

2) The party must undertake a campaign to show the workers the interdependence of maintaining the 8-hour working day and of wages, as well as the inevitable effect of one of these demands upon the other. In its agitation the party must make use not only of the forays of the employers, but also of every attack by the state against the immediate interests of the workers, as for instance the tax on wages, and every economic issue which especially concerns the working class such as the increase in rents, sales taxes, social security, and so on. The party must carry on an active agitation campaign among the workers for the creation of factory and shop committees, embracing all the workers in each enterprise, irrespective of whether they are already organized politically and into unions or not. The aim of these factory and shop committees is to introduce workers’ control over the conditions of work and production.

3) The fighting slogans for the vital material demands of the proletariat must serve as a means of realizing in life the united front against economic and political reaction. The tactic of the workers’ united front must be our governing rule for every mass action. The party must create the favourable conditions for the success of this tactic; and to this end it must undertake seriously the education of its own members and sympathizers by every means of propaganda and agitation at its disposal. The press, the pamphlets, meetings of all sorts, everything must be used in this work of education which the party must carry on in every proletarian group where there are Communists. The party must issue appeals to the important rival political and economic organizations of labour. Therewith it must from time to time publicly explain both its own proposals and those of the reformists, and give reasons for its acceptance of some proposals and the rejection of others. In no case can the party renounce its unconditional independence, its right to criticize all the participants in a joint action. It must always seek to take and keep the initiative of these movements as well as to influence the initiative of the others in the spirit of its own program.

4) To be able to participate in the action of the workers in all its forms, to help in orienting this action or, in certain circumstances, to assume the leading role in the action, the party must, without losing a single day, proceed to organize its work in the trade unions. The formation of trade-union committees in the federations and the sections (decided upon at the Paris Convention) and of Communist cells in every factory and large private or state-owned enterprise will permit the party to penetrate the masses of workers and enable it to spread its slogans and increase Communist influence in the proletarian movement. The trade-union committee, in each party or union body, will maintain connections with the Communists who have, with the permission of the party, remained inside the reformist CGT and will guide their opposition to the policy of the official leaders. They will register every trade-union member of the party, control his activities and transmit to him the instructions of the party.

5) The activities of Communists in all trade unions without exception shall consist primarily in seeking to re-establish trade-union unity, indispensable for the victory of the proletariat. The Communists must take advantage of every opportunity in order to explain the harmful effects of the existing split and to advocate unity. The party must combat every tendency inclining toward organizational exclusiveness, circle-group atmosphere – in trade unions or localities – and anarchistic ideology. It shall defend the necessity of a centralized movement, of forming broad organizations on an industrial basis, and of co-ordinating isolated strikes in order to substitute unified mass actions, which will instil the workers with confidence in their own strength, for localized and partial actions that are doomed to failure. In the CGTU the Communists must combat every tendency opposed to the adhesion of the French trade unions to Red Trade-Union International (RILU). In the reformist CGT they must expose the Amsterdam International and the manipulations of its leaders in favour of class collaboration. In both federations they must fight for joint actions, demonstrations and strikes, for the united front, for organic unity and for the program of the Red Trade-Union International (RILU) as a whole.

6) The party must utilize every large-scale mass movement – spontaneous and organized alike – to show the political character of every class conflict. It must take advantage of every opportunity to spread as widely as possible its slogans of political struggle such as political amnesty, the annulment of the Versailles Treaty, the evacuation of the left bank of the Rhine, and so on.

7) The struggle against the Versailles Treaty and its consequences must remain in the forefront of the party’s entire activity. We must effect the union of the proletariat of France and Germany against the bourgeoisies of both countries who profit by this treaty. In view of this it is the pressing task of the French party to inform the workers and the soldiers of the tragic plight of their German brothers, crushed by the intolerable living conditions resulting primarily from this peace treaty. To satisfy the demands of the Allies the German government keeps increasing the burdens of the German working class. The French bourgeoisie spares the German bourgeoisie, engages in negotiations with it to the detriment of the workers, helps it to take possession of the state-owned public utilities and guarantees it aid and protection against the revolutionary movement. The bourgeoisies of both countries are ready to accomplish the merger of French iron and German coal interests; and they are coming to an understanding on the question of the occupation of the Ruhr, which signifies the enslavement of the Ruhr coal miners. But the exploited workers of the Ruhr basin are not the only ones menaced; the French workers will not be in a position to withstand the competition of German production because the latter will be reduced by the depreciation of the mark to a very cheap price for the French capitalists. The party must explain this situation to the French working class and warn it against the danger which menaces it. The party press must constantly describe the sufferings of the German proletariat, the real victim of the Versailles Treaty, and show the impossibility of carrying out the treaty. Special propaganda must be carried on in the occupied and war-wrecked regions to expose the bourgeoisies of both countries as responsible for the sufferings of these regions, and to develop the spirit of solidarity among the workers of the two countries. The Communist slogan must call for the fraternization of the French and German workers and soldiers on the left bank of the Rhine. The party shall maintain close ties with its sister party in Germany in order successfully to conduct this struggle against the Versailles Treaty and its consequences. The party shall combat French imperialism, and, furthermore, not only its policy in Germany but all over the world: special attention must be paid to the peace treaties of St. Germain, Neuilly, Trianon and Sèvres. [2]

8) The party must undertake systematic penetration of the army. Our anti-militarist propaganda must differ radically from the hypocritical pacifism of the bourgeoisie. The principle of arming the proletariat and disarming the bourgeoisie must permeate our propaganda. In their party press or in the parliament, and on all favourable occasions the Communists shall give support to the demands of the soldiers, insist upon the recognition of their political rights, and so on. Our revolutionary anti-militarist agitation must be intensified each time a new levy is called up for draft, each time there is a threat of another war. This propaganda must be carried on under the supervision of a special party body, in which the Communist youth must participate.

9) The party must make its own the cause of the colonial peoples, exploited and oppressed by French imperialism. It must support their national demands which constitute stages on the road of their liberation from the yoke of foreign capital. It must defend without any reservations their right to autonomy and independence. The unconditional fight for the political and trade-union liberties of the natives, and against the native levies, the fight for the demands of the native soldiers – this fight is the immediate task of the party. It must combat implacably every reactionary tendency, existing even among certain working-class elements, that favours limiting the rights of the natives. It shall create a special body attached to the Central Committee, to carry on party work in the colonies.

10) Our propaganda among the peasantry to win over the agricultural labourers, tenant farmers and poor peasants to the revolutionary movement and gain the sympathies of the small landholders must be accompanied by the struggle to ameliorate the living and working conditions of agricultural labourers who hire out or work for the big landowners. Such a struggle demands that the party organizations in the provinces elaborate and propagate programs of immediate demands corresponding to the special conditions in each locality. The party must foster those agricultural associations and co-operatives which go to meet the individual needs of the peasantry. It must pay special attention to building and developing trade unions among the agricultural workers.

11) Party work among women is of first-rate importance and requires a special organization. A Central Commission, attached to the Central Committee, with a permanent secretariat, and with more and more numerous local commissions and a periodical devoted to propaganda among the women must be created. The party must insist that the economic demands of the men and women workers be unified: it must demand equal pay for equal work without distinction of sex, and the participation of exploited women in all the actions of the workers.

12) The party must make far more systematic and persistent efforts than in the past in the development of the Communist Youth movement. In every department and institution of both organizations the closest reciprocal relations must be established between the party and the youth. It ought to be accepted as a principle that the youth must be represented on every Commission attached to the Central Committee. The propaganda departments and the sections of the party must help the existing youth groups, and help to create new ones. The Central Committee must follow the youth press and allot to the youth organization special pages in the central party publications. In the trade unions the party must back up the demands of the young workers in accordance with its program.

13) In the co-operatives the Communists shall defend the principle of a unified national organization and create Communist groups attached to the co-operative section of the Communist International through a commission functioning under the Central Committee. In every federation a special commission must be created to carry on party work in the co-operatives. The Communists will exert every effort to utilize the co-operatives as an auxiliary force in the labour movement.

14) Our members in parliament, in the municipal councils, etc., must conduct an energetic struggle intimately bound up with the struggles of the workers and the campaigns undertaken by the party and the trade-union organizations outside parliament. In accordance with the theses of the Second Congress of the Comintern, the Communist deputies, controlled and directed by the party’s Central Committee, together with the municipal and district councillors, controlled and directed by the sections and the federations must serve the party as agents of agitation and propaganda.

15) The party must perfect and strengthen its organization following the example of the large Communist parties of other countries and in accordance with the statutes of the Communist International, in order that it may rise to the level of the tasks outlined in its program and by the national and international congresses, and be in a condition to realize these tasks in life. It must fight for a strict centralization, an inflexible discipline, the subordination of every party member to the corresponding party body, of each party body to the organization immediately above it. Moreover, we must develop the Marxist education of our militants by systematically increasing the number of theoretical courses in the sections, by opening party schools; and these courses and schools must be placed under the supervision of a Central Commission attached to the Central Committee.


1. This program of action was adopted unanimously at the 32nd session of the Fourth World Congress, December 5, 1922.

2. The series of treaties listed here were imposed by the victorious powers in World War I on the various members of the defeated coalition led by Germany.

The treaty of St. Germain was concluded on September 10, 1919, between the Entente and Austria. According to the terms of this treaty Austria was dismembered, yielding parts of her territory to Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Rumania, etc. Austria’s industry and finances were placed under the control of an “international” reparations’ committee.

The treaty of Neuilly was concluded between the Entente and Bulgaria on November 27, 1919. By the terms of this pact Bulgaria lost sections of her territory to Greece and Yugoslavia, particularly along the Aegean shore line. Bulgaria was obliged to pay reparations, expenses for the occupation troops and the like.

The treaty of Trianon was concluded between the Entente and Hungary on July 4, 1920. Hungary ceded slices of her territory to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. This treaty set down no fixed reparations, Hungary’s economy being placed under the control of a special commission.

The treaty of Sevres was concluded between the Entente and Turkey on August 10, 1920. Turkey was deprived of two-thirds of her territory. All the rights of German and Austrian investors were annulled. Great Britain’s influence in the Middle East was recognized as supreme. The struggle by the Ankara government which then followed and which was supported by the USSR brought this rapacious treaty to nothing.

First 5 Years of the Comintern (Vol.2) Index

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