It is to be noted that we speak above all of a strategy for the Fourth International and not of a program or of tactics for such an international. The reason for this will become increasingly clear as the article progresses. But it may be said here that what is lacking among the workers is not so much an understanding of the program of socialism or a knowledge of how to fight the day to day battles of the workers. What is needed more than anything else at the present time is a strategy of action that will link up the tactics to the program and help to realize the program in the quickest possible time. In military terms we have to deal not so much with deployment of troops as with logistics and strategics.
The program of Communism is pretty well known to large numbers of conscious workers. By program is meant the general principles that underlie the science of socialism. In philosophy it embraces the theories of dialectical materialism and when applied to history, the conception of historical materialism. In economics it has to do with the theory of surplus value and the theory of accumulation of capital. In politics it deals with the class struggle leading to the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the essence of the program as laid down by Marx and Engels, the founders of scientific Socialism.
The theories of Marx and Engels were especially adapted to the period of the 19th century competitive capitalism. With the advent of imperialism in the 20th century, the program had to be adapted to the new conditions then arising. This programmatic development was best achieved by Lenin. In economics he was able to elaborate the theory of super-profits by which the relation of imperialist to colonial countries could best be understood and furnished a key to the understanding of the uneven development of capitalism and the contradictions existing between the skilled and the unskilled workers on the one hand, and the working class and the peasantry on the other. The theory of super-profits enabled the conscious workers to understand better the law of uneven development as related to the theories connected with the permanent revolution. In politics the works of Lenin gave us a clearer picture of the era of imperialism with its wars and revolutions and brought us face to face with the fact that the world as a whole was ripe for Socialism and that this was the era for the realization of the dictatorship of the proletarian revolution.
The activity of Lenin marked a great turning point in scientific Socialism since it brought the workers face to face with the actual achievement on a large scale of a dictatorship of the proletariat in alliance with the poor peasantry in one country alone. There had then to be developed the scientific principles of the relation of such a country to the rest of the capitalist world as well as of the social laws prevailing within such a unique country in such a period. The study of the concrete working of such a proletarian dictatorship, the examination of its effects upon world capitalism, especially with the advent of Fascism, all such analyses have to be taken into the Communist program of today and embraced within the general principles of scientific Socialism. We can say that it was Leon Trotsky who contributed to an advancement of understanding of these problems more than anyone else, up to the time of the arrival of Fascism in Germany and the collapse of the Third International. This work has to be completed by the entirely new elements that have come forth as veterans in the struggles of the masses since the coming of the Russian Revolution.
The Communist programs as they have been laid out by Marx and Engels and Lenin and Trotsky have also had to take up the general outline of social laws to be found in the new society of Socialism which was yet to be founded and organized. Studying the laws of motion of the present capitalist system, the programs could not avoid the question of what situation was capitalism evolving to and what would be the basic structure of society under Socialism. Thus, the Communist programs were also scientific prognoses of the future workings of society. This was richly concretized with the advent of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union.
The program of Communism as it was laid out had little to do with the laws governing the actual mobilization of the masses and the rules of revolutionary struggle. The program merely represented the end, the goal, the objective of the movement but hardly dealt with the means, the instruments, the actual process by which the aim was attained. Such laws are in the realm of strategy and tactics and organization rather than in the realm of program. Strategy, as distinct from program, takes into intimate account and presupposes an organization of people and a platform of action. If the program represented the general principles of Socialism and the objective to be achieved, strategy and tactics represent the totality of the rules of practice by which this program is to be realized.
Of course there is a great difference between strategy and tactics. Tactical questions are those that have to do with problems pertaining to the mobilization and deployment and maneuvering of troops on any single part of the battle front. They have to do with day to day and relatively petty problems. Strategy represents the general principles underlying the whole system or series of tactical operations. Strategy is the red thread that ties up the tactical questions and holds them together along some definite purposeful line. Without strategy there is no alignment of the battle front, there is no coordination of the various fields of battle, there is no general direction given to the struggle.
Strategy has to do with the attaining of the victory in the least possible time and with the smallest amount of energy. It has to do with the orientation and general direction of the line of march and is not concerned with the mass of details necessary to keep the entire force in that direction. Strategy has to do with collation of material, with evaluation and estimation of relative importance of various actions.
In short, the principles of strategy lie somewhat between the rules of tactics and the standards and norms of the program. Strategy ties up the every day practice with a purpose and on the other hand is able to realize the generalities of the program in life. It is concerned both with the practical matters of every day life and with the strategic objective striven for and coordinates both. It is the temporal link that connects the present with the future.
Tactics are the means by which the strategical aim is attained, just as strategy is the means by which the program is realized. To the soldiers who are digging into a shell hole in order to hold a hill the strategical aim of keeping the hill is the highest goal of their endeavor. To the general who has a clearer picture of the relation of each tactical part to the strategical whole, the holding of the hill is but a means to the end of smashing the enemy and winning the programmatic objective. Tactics, therefore, represent secondary actions, maneuvers, methods. The system of strategy works out the primary means by which the programmatic ends may be reached.
This does not at all mean that tactics is unimportant or less vital than strategy or program in accomplishing the mission of the proletariat. Quite the contrary, program alone, that is a general body of ideas, can accomplish nothing unless there is an army imbued with the idea of putting this program into reality. Such an army functions only according to the rules of tactics and strategy. To imagine that the program will be realized of itself and that all that is necessary is to state the desirability of the goal is pure idealism. Behind every “right” is the “might” necessary to establish it as a “right".
Also, within the realm of practice, it is not true that tactics is unimportant or that questions of tactics are but secondary matters. Unless the tactics are appropriate, unless the proper means are used realistically, then the whole strategy is doomed to fail. Very often differences in tactics reveal great differences in strategy and in program as well. Again, people may be willing to accept the phrases of the program but secretly give them different interpretations, which differences come out not in the debates on the program but only in the course of the concrete actions to realize the programs. Then the differences first appear as differences in “tactics” when in reality behind these differences on small questions there are revealed truly gigantic disagreements that place the contestant parties on opposite sides of the barricades.
Some silly amateurs in the revolutionary movement have often expressed the matter as follows: disagreements on matters of tactics are always secondary disagreements and do not lead to splits in the movement. Splits are justified only when the disagreements are one of program. This is a typical student formulation having nothing to do with the real revolutionary movement. Outside of the fact that all differences even in tactics if pursued long enough must become differences in direction and in purpose, that is differences in strategy and program, it is of course ridiculous to assume that the only time people can disobey their orders is when they have abstract differences concerning the kind of society they want to build or in the general principles of their movement.
In real life we have many cases in history where the armies of social movements have split on questions of tactics concerning what to do at the moment, since very often the solution of the concrete tactical question may involve the very life and death of the movement as a whole. If, in order to capture a given hill, for example, a general wantonly orders his men to march fully exposed to be shot down, the order of how to march may be purely “tactical” but may nevertheless lead to such a terrible defeat as to ruin the whole cause of the entire army. And if the corps thus sacrificed disobeys the general’s “tactical” instructions and advances under cover to win the hill, it will be the general that will lose his head and not the army.
The true situation is not that tactics are secondary to strategy or that differences on tactics are picayune and must not cause too great dissensions in the ranks of the revolutionary proletariat, but rather that the workers must fight about every question whether program, strategy or tactics which is really vital and may lead to defeat or victory. Splits not only can occur but must occur on questions of tactics and organization wherever such questions involve the life and death of the whole movement at the given moment.
Let us pause to give various illustrations of this general principle just enunciated. In the revolutionary movement it can be said that ordinarily tactics would include the following type of questions:
1. Types of demonstrations. Should the demonstration be indoors or outdoors; what should be its size and character and tone; what should be the slogans, etc. These matters might be considered matters of tactics and yet they can be absolutely vital to the welfare of the movement at any given time.
2. Questions of “dates". What should be the date for a given strike or insurrection. It might seem that the matter of “date” is such a trifling circumstance in relation to the vast problems of Socialism that comrades could well disagree with dates and yet remain comrades. And yet behind the question of dates might stand the whole welfare and future of the revolution itself. Those merely opposing a given date might be postponing the day of victory until it becomes too late and leads to a terrible blood bath for the workers. Here, again, behind the question of the “trifling” matter of date might be a whole analysis of the situation of the world and the relation of forces. Certainly it might be correct for splits to occur in a revolutionary party on the question of setting the date for the insurrection, just as, under some circumstances, splits could occur in unions on the question of setting the date for a strike.
3. A third matter of tactics is the question of what demands to bring forward in the interests of the workers and toilers. The formulation of these demands truly belongs in the domain of tactics, and yet how many times have movements failed completely because of unrealistic demands which in turn exposed the false strategy and orientation of the entire movement.
4. It is the same with the host of questions relating to the tactical matters of how to approach a given problem. Questions of just how to approach a given situation may be considered relatively secondary and in the field of tactics but often become decisive in the struggle. And wherever they become truly decisive then it is imperative that they be solved correctly and the conscious workers in the revolutionary movement have it as their duty to see to it at all costs that all the problems, big and little, which may cost the working class its head, are solved in the proper manner and victory is assured. It will do no good for such revolutionary elements to maintain that on “tactical” questions they did not want to press forward their differences to the point of split. Once convinced that the entire safety of the movement is embodied precisely in these so-called secondary tactical questions, it becomes the duty of the class conscious vanguard to probe these tactical differences to their bottom, to show the differences of strategy and program that really lie behind them, and, if necessary, to split on these matters to insure the victory of the workers as a whole.
Just as splits can occur on questions of tactics, so can they occur on questions of organization as well. For the problem of organization is only another method of presenting problems of program and strategy and tactics. The organization must be the instrument to accomplish the goal set and those who build organizational structures obviously unfit to accomplish the goal have in reality changed the goal and the aim of the movement.
The program of Communism was enunciated before there was a great body of proletarians in every important country of Europe and America. Naturally, in those days of the very beginnings of the movement, the question of program played the most important part. The Communist League of Karl Marx has gone down in history primarily because of the Marxist program enunciated by that organization.
This is not to say that strategy did not exist even in those early days. Quite the contrary, the Communist League participated actively in all the revolutionary events of 1848 and as an organization of action it had to deal with problems of strategy, tactics and organization as well as with the general questions of program.
The strategy of the Communist League was not so much concerned, however, with the question of the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat as it was with the question of the overthrow of the ancien regime and the clearing of the decks for action for the proletariat later. It was not a matter of defeating the enemies of the workers so much as defeating the enemy of their enemies. The strategy of the Communist League was then the strategy of how the proletarian forces could work with the democratic forces of capitalism and overthrow the old order, winning as many concessions for the workers as possible, casting off the illusions among the proletarians and preparing them and strengthening them for future struggles for Socialism.
The strategy of the Communist League was primarily one of the permanent revolution, that is, how to start the revolution forward and to keep it moving at the most rapid tempo until the victory of the proletariat when the revolution would come to an end and become permanent. Together with this strategy went all the principles of how to work with those going along the same road as the proletariat up to the time when the quondam allies would break apart and face each other as mortal enemies.
The strategy of the Communist League, carried forward later by the First International, then, involved the following questions:
1. The matter of overthrowing reaction, the old order, the absolute monarchies and the feudalistic landlords, especially entrenched in Prussia, Austria and Russia. Here is the key to understanding the Marxists’ reactions to the Crimean War, to the American Civil War, to the Revolutions of 1848, etc.
2. The question of pushing the bourgeois republic forward to adopting the utmost democratic forms and social reforms which would allow the proletariat free play to organize and to mobilize its strength and to develop generally.
3. The question of alliances of the proletariat with the peasantry and other masses of toilers against the ruling groups of the country. With this went the problem of the separation of the petty bourgeoisie from the bourgeois rulers, the problems of the united front with petty bourgeois elements to win them towards favorable action with the working class.
Although, even from the earliest days, the Marxists insisted on combining theory with practice and uniting their program to whatever actions of the day promised to realize them even in part, nevertheless the Communist League is known not so much for its practical action as for its theoretical achievements in advancing scientific Socialism. The immature modern proletariat was then just groping about trying to find its way.
A similar situation existed with the First International organized somewhat later in 1864. The First International, too, is known by its programmatic contributions, by its propaganda rather than by its practice. The great task of the First International was to hammer out the ideas of Marx and Engels and in doing this it laid the foundation for the revolutionary movement to come.
Again it must be stressed that this emphasis on propaganda and on theory did not mean that the First International did not enter into revolutionary events. Indeed, the bourgeoisie made the First International responsible for the actions of the Paris Commune. But the action of the First International was spasmodic and ephemeral. What was lasting, what was the most important part of the First International’s life was the programmatic line of action that it laid down for the workers for all time to come in the struggle against capital.
By the time of the foundation of the Second International in 1889 the situation had entirely changed. It was no longer the vanguard of the workers organized in a propaganda league that was inspired to tell the world of the future of Socialism and the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie. The grandiose plans and schemes had given way to prosaic day-to-day interests. The labor movement was growing up and becoming “realistic” and “practical". It was winning various concessions from the bosses for the skilled and bribed imperialistic workers and was quite content to avoid the abstract questions of revolution and pay attention to the immediate bread and butter problems of the day.
The Second International was interested neither in the program of Socialism so much nor in the strategy of revolution, but concentrated almost entirely in its real life upon the tactics of the moment. Viewing the period in question (1889-1914) from the broad historical perspective, we can truly say that the Second International in reality lived up to what the workers could have achieved and no further. The workers could win reform, they were too weak to accomplish the revolution. The job then was to organize, and to form mass organizations, teaching the workers the rudiments of discipline and organizational solidarity.
Of course, under the First International, there had also been tactics, and the systematic working out of the problems of organization and advancement of the interest of sections of the workers. The Communist League began the job of organizing unions throughout Europe. In the First International the majority of the organizations affiliated were trade unions. But it is not this aspect of their activity for which the First International is remembered while it is precisely this aspect, namely the organization of large masses, the mobilization of broad strata of the population for which the Second International has come to stand.
The mass organizations of the proletariat could be formed only on the most primitive base and only on questions of immediate practical interest. This was the period of trade union building, of cooperative formations, of all sorts of associative effort among the workers to ameliorate their lot concretely. It was not the period of revolutionary activity of the masses, throughout the important industrial countries of Europe and America.
It was not that the Second International did not carry on abstract discussions on the program of Socialism and did not help to disseminate in its own fashion the revolutionary views of Marx and Engels. But it did not understand these revolutionary views which it was so diligently disseminating and in real life it betrayed them again and again. Program was entirely divorced from tactics, theory from practice. While abstractly, these people called themselves Socialists they believed that Socialism was a long way off and that many hundreds of years of education would be necessary perhaps before the world would be ready for the new social order.
Separating their practical activity from their general Socialist program as they did, the members of the Second International became either crass opportunists and narrow and provincial organizers living only from moment to moment, or they became leftist sectarians living in a world of words and abstract ideas of Marxist terms. All that one side could see was the matter of a few cents an hour increase for a small number of workers; all that the other could call for was the unconditional surrender of capitalism or otherwise they would not play ball. As their practice became non-revolutionary on both sides their program became eclectic, vague, ambiguous, loose and non-revolutionary as well. One may sum up the matter with the statement that if the First International was an International of Program, the Second International was an International of Tactics.
It is with the Third International that we find at last a definite effort made to link up the day-to-day life of the masses and their immediate problems with the general program of Socialism. By 1919 the world proletariat is faced with entirely different problems. It is now a period of action, not of molecular tiny action for a small handful of the workers in a few exceptional countries, but now capitalism is definitely on the decline bringing in its wake mighty convulsions that shake all the nations of the world throwing them into one crisis after another.
Now that action is on the order of the day and the workers must act or perish, now that there is no other way out of the concrete practical dilemmas facing the masses except revolution and the overthrow of capitalism, there becomes developed a strategy of revolution. Under the guidance of Lenin, the gap between theory and practice begins to be closed, tactics and program become tightly connected. It would be totally wrong to say, as, for example, Max Eastman does in one of his many superficial works, that Marx was the abstruse dialectician and Lenin the great revolutionary technician or engineer. Marx and Engels also engaged in the action of their time, but their time did not permit much steady revolutionary action and they were confined to working out the general laws of Socialism and spreading the propaganda of their science. On the other hand, Lenin contributed much to political science but his life was to a very considerable extent overwhelmed with the practical activity of the revolutionary movements. As Lenin wrote in his “State and Revolution": “It is more pleasant and more useful to live through the experience of revolution than to write about it.”
If the Second International could be said to have had a strategy at all then in fact it was a strategy of no strategy, that is to say it was a strategy of following the bourgeoisie and working for democratic and social reforms. The strategy of the Second International was to be the tail end of the bourgeois Liberals and to carry out their wishes in the ranks of the proletariat.
The strategy of the Third International in an era of wars and revolutions was an entirely different one, it was a strategy of definitely making a bid for power. To turn imperialist was into civil war, to organize instruments of struggle of the masses such as soviets, by which workers and peasants could unite for the conquest of power under the leadership of the industrial workers, to connect the revolutionary movement with the colonial uprisings and agrarian problems of the oppressed sections of the countryside, to conduct an organized uprising and insurrection and to defend the revolution on the battlefield of world counter-revolutionary intervention, these are the contributions of Leninism in the field of strategy.
Unfortunately, the Third International was not able to maintain the high revolutionary level set by Lenin. Under the influence of Stalinism which arrived with the defeat of the first world revolutionary wave, the Third International has steadily been liquidated as a revolutionary force until today it plays the worst possible role within the ranks of the workers. Furthermore, new situations have arisen which compel the Communists of the world to take stock of the objective circumstances once again to see whether there is any need to revise their strategy and policies. Take, for example, the question of parliamentarism. In Germany and in other countries where Fascism is now victorious this question of participation in parliamentary activities has been automatically solved by the events themselves for in these countries there is no parliament and no such activities and elections where the masses may freely participate.
Should the genuine Internationalist-Communists have occasion to gather themselves together in a new world congress to form the basis for the Fourth International, they would have to take up at least the following strategical problems: 1. Workers Control over Production; 2. Direct Action; 3. Permanent Revolution; 4. Arming of the Proletariat; 5. United Front; 6. Strategy of Insurrection. There would be also other problems such as the relation of such Communists to the Soviet Union, their action in the light of the concrete war danger involving the workers of the world, their policy toward Fascism and problems concerning the Fourth International itself. We do not care at this time to make an exhaustive analysis of all these questions. However, we shall, in the series of articles before us, open up a discussion on some of these vital points so as to help clear the way for those whose task will be to carry forward the banner of revolution throughout the world.
WORKERS’ CONTROL OVER PRODUCTION
The principal strategical problems with which the Fourth International will have to be concerned are the problems of: 1. Workers Control over Production; 2. Direct Action; 3. Permanent Revolution; 4. Arming of the Proletariat; 5. United Front; 6. Insurrectionary Strategy; 7. The Formation of a New Communist International. It can be seen that these problems are truly pertinent to the field of strategy, that they have to do neither with the day-to-day relations in the sphere of tactics nor with the ultimate relations of program and objective. They have to do with those questions which tie up the given day-to-day work with the program and bring the program to actual realization.
The Fourth International will have to make the most careful study of the question of workers’ control over production. Under some circumstances, where there is no revolutionary situation and the capitalist order is relatively stable, the slogan Workers Control over Production may be used in a very opportunist and reformist sense, providing a theoretical basis for all sorts of schemes of collaboration with the employers. We must beware that revolutionary phrases do not in fact cover up counter-revolutionary policies.
Even Fascists have organized their Fascist organizations with the specious plea that they are going to give the workers some control over industry. Very often company unions are built by employers with the slogan that they believe in industrial democracy and the right of the workers to have a say in the business. Again, it is possible for labor leaders, like Sidney Hillman of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers demagogically to declare that "the industry has responsibility to the workers” only in order to work out some joint action with the manufacturers’ association or in order to help the bosses “put order” into the industry by collaborating with them in the introduction of machinery, in speed-up and rationalization plans, etc. Most often the idea that the workers should control their jobs is used by the trade union bureaucrats to obtain the “check-off” system whereby the dues to the union are taken out of the wage envelopes by the bosses and handed over to the union officials. On the surface it seems that this measure compels the boss to work for the union, in reality it results in the bosses and union officials working hand in hand while the union members have precious little to say about finances. Also, the idea of workers’ control can be interpreted to mean that the union bureaucracy should control the right to hire and to fire men on the job.
Similarly, the term “Workers’ Control” has been abused by the functionaries of the opportunist Labor parties. When a Labor Party gets into government office, at once the officials begin to talk to the workers in industry that strikes would embarrass the Labor Government, that the workers are really controlling the factories and industries through their parliamentary Labor Party, etc. The elections of the Labor Party are run on the assumption that Labor Party victories would mean workers’ control over the resources of the nation. As a matter of fact, everywhere we see these Labor Parties defend capitalism and prevent the workers from moving towards Socialism through genuine workers’ control.
An interesting variation of the Labor Party use of the term “Workers’ Control” is the phrase “Industrial Democracy". In the United States the Railroad Brotherhoods in 1921 came out for the Plumb Plan of operation of the railroads, which plan had as its features the nationalization of the railroads with full compensation and their operation by a board composed of workers, management and government. This class-collaboration scheme was called “Industrial Democracy” or “Workers’ Control over Production". A similar proposal was made by John L. Lewis and the United Mine Workers after the war in reference to the coal mines. Behind the phrases that sounded as though labor was advancing its interests, was the brazen attempt of the union officials to link up the unions with the government to speed up production and prevent strikes.
In the light of these opportunist and dangerous methods of misconstruing the idea of workers’ control over production, it is very necessary that the Fourth International work out carefully its analysis so that revolutionary organizations will not use the slogan of workers’ control in any fashion that will bolster up capitalism. The danger of opportunism can not be eradicated, it is inherent in the situation in which the workers are forced to take control.
It can be seen from the very terms that the idea of workers taking control over industrial production does not mean that they dispossess the owners and take over the property themselves. This is far from the case. The employer still owns the factory; he is still nominally the possessor and the proprietor. Only he now loses the right to close down the plant, the right to hire and to fire workers as he pleases, the right to dictate working conditions, etc. In his plant there is now formed a committee of workers that goes over his books, limits his profits, sets up its own control, prevents sabotage or lock-down of the plant. Naturally, then, we have a situation of dual power that can not last for any length of time.
No employer is going to allow the intolerable situation of workers taking control over his plant without putting up a battle. On the other hand, the invasion of his plant by the workers means that they are preparing to establish their own ownership and rule shortly and that the control is only a stepping stone on the way. Thus, when properly used, the slogan "Workers’ Control over Production” is adopted by the proletariat, on the one hand, when the capitalists are losing control of the situation or have provoked the masses into action without having the strength to stop them, and, on the other hand, when the workers are ready to establish the dictatorship and take full possession but are not as yet able to do so.
Every revolution has this sort of transition period and since the factual situation is inevitable, it is necessary for revolutionists to examine it from all points of view. A revolutionary organization can not issue the slogan “Workers’ Control over Production” if it is meant to be carried out during periods of capitalist stability, when it can only imply wholesale collaboration of the workers with the bosses in which the workers become the coolies to worry about the production problems of the capitalists and measures to increase their profits. A Communist Party can issue the demand for workers’ control only in periods which are becoming revolutionary, when the masses are in action and the demand of workers’ control will unleash the energy of the toilers still further, will bring matters to a head-on collision and impel the proletariat to take the necessary steps for the conquest of power.
The Socialists have the idea that the workers must be trained not in "destructive” operations but in “constructive” work and part of that constructive work is to know how to manage and operate the factories so that when Socialism comes the working class will be trained by the bosses so that everything will work smoothly without a hitch. The revolutionist, on the other hand, understands very well that the slogan workers’ control can be used only in a revolutionary situation, when the “destructive” factors of social evolution are reaching their highest level, when the employer is trying to lock-out the workers and throw them out on the street so that pitched battles with the military can be provoked and the workers can be either shot down or starved into submission. Workers’ control over production is used in a period when such control will not be accompanied by more production but by more revolutionary activity of all sorts. It is to be accomplished, not in order to teach the workers “management” but in order to build up the fighting forces and realize the objectives of the revolutionary movement.
While in the hands of opportunists and reformists of all kinds, the idea of workers’ control harnesses the workers to the carts of the bosses, in the hands of revolutionists the workers’ control over the factories is a transition policy, a strategy that will move the masses from their stable and accustomed mode of action to the practice of establishing their own dictatorship and ownership of the means of production. With the reformists it is a method of controlling the workers; with the genuine Communists it is a method of wiping out the control of the bosses.
It is paradoxical but true that workers’ control is introduced precisely at a time when all social control is being lost; when society is in chaos and civil war is soon to be on the order of the day. Herein lies also the difference between workers’ control and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Under the dictatorship there is internal centralization, order, discipline; there is a party with acknowledged authority; the capitalists are out of the factories, completely ousted, and the workers are running their own affairs. Under the transition regime of workers’ control, on the other hand, everything is sporadic, confused, haphazard. The actions are not planned or controlled. It is utterly ridiculous to imagine that under such circumstances production can be increased.
It is true that the workers undertake to control the plants under the pressure of the lock-outs and sabotage of the capitalists and the need for continued production. But it is also true that once they take over the factories, even though ownership nominally is retained by the capitalists, they will have to fight to maintain their control and enter into the destructive aspects of civil war.
In Italy, in 1921, and in Hungary, in 1919, the workers took over the factories and ran them themselves, but they soon found out that they had to confront the world subdivision of labor; their raw materials ran out, they had to get into communication with the outside capitalist world that refused to aid them in any way. Thus, the workers’ control must have an extremely limited character until the proletariat is able to conquer not only the power in its own State, but extend the proletarian revolution, in most cases, beyond the boundaries of one nation.
The fact that workers’ control over production has little to do with actual constructive projects but is merely a phase in the attack of the workers can be seen in the fact that in the period of workers’ control, as distinguished from the dictatorship of the proletariat, there can be no centralized planned economy, no real utilization of the national resources. This can come only when the workers have won the political power completely.
An important question to be discussed is what is the relation of workers’ control to the political movement and the dictatorship of the proletariat? In Russia there was no extensive workers’ control until the proletariat took over power through the Soviets and then they went through the process of workers’ control for almost a year before they decided to go the whole way and socialize industry outright. Thus, in Russia, workers’ control went hand in hand with the period of the democratic-dictatorship of the workers and peasants through the Soviets. Only by taking over the power was the workers’ control made effective by the workers.
In Germany, the workers attempted to institute a workers’ control over production in 1918-1919 through their factory councils. But they did not take power. The Socialists who were in the government were holding the power not for the workers but for the bourgeoisie and at the first opportunity put down the workers. In the meantime while they were stalling for time, they established “Commissions on socialization” to study the question and report back to parliament. On their part, instead of taking over the industries, the worker’ councils waited for the Socialist Party to “nationalize” the industries.
Workers’ control has absolutely nothing to do with the nationalization of industries. It is the Socialists who like to substitute one for the other. They are generally opposed to workers’ councils or Soviets in the factories. They would like the workers to trust to the Socialist politicians to bring the factories under workers’ control. Workers’ control to the Socialists and opportunists of all stripes means simply workers’ participation in a government that controls the industries and runs them.
Nothing could be farther from the correct policy than this. The workers must wait for no government. They must take the factories themselves and run them. This itself will be a guarantee that the government will begin to correspond to the needs of the workers and not vice versa. In Germany, they waited for the government to act, the result was they could not control industry at all. On the other hand, workers’ control should be the economic phase of the movement of the proletariat the political aspect of which is the conquest of power.
In and of itself nationalization of industry means simply State capitalism. The workers have no control whatsoever. This is true even when the Labor Party is in the government or a Socialist Party. The government is still a government over the workers and in favor of the bourgeoisie in all these cases. Where the workers take over control of the factories, they must strive to take over power and thus not nationalize the factories so much as socialize them. In this way they can legalize their factual control and go further and dispossess the capitalists.
In Italy they took control over the factories but could not take political control. In the end they lost the economic control as well. In Germany they waited to take political control before they took economic control. They lost both. In Russia the movement for workers’ control went hand in hand with the movement for power and each buttressed the other. It was successful. However, it is well to point out that if workers’ control over the factories goes hand in hand with the movement for dictatorship of the proletariat, as we have remarked before, by no means are they identical. Workers’ control has existed without proletarian dictatorship (although not for long) and dictatorship of the proletariat can exist without workers’ control.
This last point may be hard to grasp until one reviews the history of the Russian Revolution up to date. After the workers took over power with the poor peasantry through Soviets, the control of industry was turned over to the State. Under Lenin, the State was really under the control of the workers, that is, workers were directly in the management of the government. Thus, the loss of direct factory control by the workers was compensated for by control over the government; and this, indeed, was a great improvement for only through the centralized State apparatus was there able to be coordinated national planning and a greatly increased production. This is the Communist policy as contrasted with the Anarchist who wanted each particular factory to be under the direct control of the workers of that factory. This is what the Anarchists meant when they raised the slogan “Land to the Peasant and the Factories to the Workers".
However, as time went on, the Russian workers lost control over their government. Under Stalin, the dictatorship of the proletariat operates under the form of a dictatorship over the proletariat by the bureaucracy. This is a dangerous situation, since these bureaucrats must strive for the weakening of workers’ control and the substitution of bureaucratic control on the road to the return of capitalism. As the workers lost control of the administration of the State, they naturally began also to lose control over their factories, since they had already turned over the control of production to themselves only as managers of the proletarian dictatorship. Under Stalin, indeed, matters have gone even further; the unions have in fact been destroyed and the right to strike taken away. And now the Soviets are gone. If the workers now control their factories and their State, it is only indirectly and to the extent that there is as yet no force able to bring back capitalism in Russia without outside intervention which is as yet not realized.
From what we have said, it can be seen that it is totally false to declaim for nationalization and workers’ control over production as some pseudo-revolutionary children are now demanding in the United States. As we have already pointed out, the one is not in the least connected with the other and indeed may be antithetical to the other. Besides, no revolutionary group with a grain of sense would concoct slogans that contained two items at the same time, giving the enemy the alternative to choose and confusing the workers by the duality.
Matters of wages and hours and working conditions are generally fought for by unions, craft, trade and industrial. Workers’ control over production can be managed generally only by shop committees, workers’ councils or such bodies that cut across craft and even industrial lines sometimes. Wherever the workers’ councils or committees have been set up they have not been conceived as dual organizations to the industrial unions, but rather have been looked upon as organs for sharper forms of struggle, for the taking over of the factories. Of late, however, the industrial union is being formed on the basis of the shop council itself and thus both forms are combined. In the past, however, the industrial union has been the instrument for fighting economic battles, the workers’ councils for workers’ control and the Soviets for the conquest of power.
In Russia, after the conquest of power, the question became very acute how the workers would be able to maintain their control over the factories in the light of the danger of the bureaucracy that was growing in the State. The Workers’ Opposition wanted to turn the whole question of planned economy over to the trade unions. Whether this was feasible in an agrarian State was very problematical at the moment, and for the time being, at any rate, Lenin vetoes the proposition. It is another question what would be the situation in a more industrial country and under other circumstances.
In Spain, for example, the Syndicalists in control of the C.N.T. refuse to turn over the factories to the control of the State or Soviets even though the State is composed of Soviets and the workers run the Soviets. Here the argument of the Workers’ Opposition in Russia of 1922 are finding fruit and the unions themselves are undertaking to run production, centralize it and work out any plan that will have to be made. The workers refuse to lose control over their factories directly even though the dictatorship of the proletariat is being established. Whether this duality between the trade unions and the Soviets taking in the broader masses of toilers including the agricultural laborers and the peasantry, will remain practical, is yet to be seen.
The forthcoming Congress of the Fourth International groupings, whenever it is held, must take stock of the recent experiences of the question of workers’ control. They must draw the lessons from Russia, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Spain and the other places where this matter has been put to the test practically and lay down the general norms and directives that will guide the internationalist revolutionary fighters all over the world.
The problem of direct action is another matter of strategy which must engross the attention of the Fourth International. The present period offers a different background for a consideration of this problem than ever before. Previously, it was warmly debated whether there was not a better way than physical action in the streets for a solution of the contradictions facing the masses. The Liberal era offered the method of mutual tolerance, of rational discussion culminating in parliamentarism. Today these solutions are plainly inadequate. The contradictions of capitalism have made the system one of violence and brutal action in every phase of life. One must be prepared at every turn to back up one’s opinions with one’s life. The question whether to participate in parliament or not has faded in importance in the light of the fact that parliament is now fast becoming a lost and forgotten institution.
Incidentally, the present age has come to remind intellectuals that the best method of pedagogy is the one in which practice is the teacher. Today, opinions must literally be fought for. This means that the days of hyperbolic polemics are over. Opinions will be restricted to those which are important and over which the protagonist is deadly in earnest. This alone will spell the death knell of the dilettante intellectual from Hobohemia or Sexophathia who has inhabited the fringe of the proletarian movement. Fascism has a way of driving the chatterbox out of the movement and allowing only those who mean business to remain. This is another guaranty that the proletarian movement will be placed on the tracks of direct action. Action and theory will tend to become more united within the revolutionary movement; democracy and free speech will be for the doers only.
Direct action in the past has taken either economic or political forms, of a reformistic or revolutionary character. Heretofore there has been ample room between the rehearsal and the final act of the drama, between the period of preparation and the actual insurrection. The present period, however, is distinguished by the fact that the struggle for reform leads directly and immediately to the struggle for power in many instances. Under Fascism, even the reform demonstration is not permitted and one takes one’s life in his hands when asking even for the most moderate improvements for the masses. Since every action of the masses becomes so fraught with consequences, the organization of these actions must be carefully studied in every instance.
If the present epoch is one of direct action, it is another sign that the revolutionary movement must shift further from the idea that gyrations of representative or delegate can be substituted for the action of the mass itself. Direct action places before every participant the full consequences of his activity. He himself must fight out all the doubtful questions that besiege him before entering into the battle. In representative action the masses remain passive; the field is open for bureaucracy. In direct action it is the masses themselves who live; the representative is merely the leader and that leader is best who knows how to train others for leadership. In a period of direct action the units of the revolutionary party must be small and each member must be capable of standing on his own feet. Responsibility and capability become tested and developed.
Direct action of an economic, secondary nature may occur in the industries, among the unemployed and among the mass of consumers. With the producers, it takes the form of strikes which in the present period tend to lose their simple economic character, even where the strikes have purely economic aims, and to take on important political consequences. In Germany today any large strike would be bound to have violent political repercussions. The very reason for existence of Fascism is its ability to crush all organization and united action of the working class. The mere fact of a united strike under Fascism would be a complete challenge to the entire regime no matter what the aims of the strike. Under Fascism every strike would quickly have to turn into insurrection. And for that reason the workers are slow to strike, knowing well the consequences of their actions.
In all countries of course it is the strategy of the Communists to widen and deepen every physical demonstration of the workers, to raise its political level, to connect the strike with the issue of workers’ power. Where the strike becomes a general strike, there the question of power becomes a pressing one on the immediate order of the day.
The question of strike is intimately connected with the active boycott as a weapon of direct action. The boycott can transform a local action to a wide-spread general struggle tying up both consumers and producers and uniting the working class as a whole. Connected with the boycott is the question of mass retaliation for injuries and mass sabotage. Revenge is not an inconsequential motive here and the Communists will not generally restrain the spontaneity of the mass even though spontaneity is not enough for victory.
If it is true that we live in an anti-reform period, then every struggle for reform must meet the sternest resistance. Thus even the organization of new trade unions embodying layers of unskilled workers will meet the fiercest opposition. It is for this reason that we can predict that the American Federation of Labor with its Liberal hesitating policies will never be able to organize the mass of Negroes, or the unskilled workers in the South. Those who go out to win reforms today must be made of the hard fibre of revolutionists. It is not peaceful persuasion that will accomplish the job, at a time when capitalism is on the downgrade, but only hard struggle. More and more the organization of the unorganized and the building up of unions for struggle belong to the revolutionary elements. It is only the revolutionist who can be even a successful reformist.
In the unemployed field, the genuine revolutionary Communist will tend to make the unemployed organization rely entirely upon direct action to improve conditions. Adequate unemployment insurance is impossible today when the armies of unemployed are so enormous. The unemployed, therefore, must be taught to help themselves. Communists and unemployed will not spend much time in legislatures petitioning but will mobilize their forces rather in militant demonstrations and will concentrate their attention on the places where food is stored, where fuel and clothing may be obtained. Whole neighborhoods can be aroused over the question of evictions in order to make every eviction as costly as possible for the landlords. The general idea is that the wealthy must find it dearer to worsen conditions than to allow them to remain as they are.
Today, direct action can be not only a weapon to remedy conditions but a preventative force. The proletariat, knowing the menace of Fascism, can physically annihilate the Fascist movement at the very start. After all, in some countries the organized labor movement is well entrenched. If it knows that the days of Liberalism are numbered and must give way to Fascist violence, then it will be forewarned enough to make it impossible for the Fascist forces to appear in workers’ quarters.
The strategy of the Communists in this period must be to make the demonstrations as brutal and powerful as possible. In every case where the workers have been defeated, sentimentality and Liberal illusions have played far too great a part. The more firm and positive the action the better the demonstration.
In the United States, the question of the fight against lynching of the Negro, of the labor organizer and poor white toiler furnishes a good illustration of the correct method. The Communist will not bewail the institution of lynching, but will try to use that institution against the instigators of lynching. The slogan “Lynch the lynchers of the Negroes and poor toilers” will mark the adoption of American methods to terminate the slaughter of the innocent workers. As part of this policy, everywhere the Negroes would be induced to organize white and black physical defense bodies that would protect the poor masses and build up the power of the lowest strata of the population.
Direct action logically leads to insurrection. The strike, the boycott, the demonstration, all have this as their ultimate objective and goal.
On the road to insurrection for every class striving for power lies the problem of disarming the rulers and arming its own cohorts. This question is not peculiar to the proletariat alone and it is interesting to note how the bourgeoisie solved the problem of the disarming of the ancien regime and the arming of its own forces. Generally speaking, the nascent capitalist class accomplished its task first by winning over the biggest baron or prince to their side and making him supreme through its monetary and material support. The reliance of the military upon gunpowder, cannon and manufactured instruments naturally gave the advantage to the manufacturers of these articles or to those with the money to purchase them. As the capitalists’ enemies, the feudal lords and knights, became reduced in power, they were gradually disarmed; their old retainers were disbanded, they themselves becoming bedroom courtiers, knights of the bath or of the garter.
The next task of the bourgeoisie was to take command of the apparatus of the State, and, in particular of certain key sections of the armed forces. Generally, the capitalists managed to obtain important posts such as Ministers of Finance, so that at critical moments in the struggle they could entirely disorganize their opponent in power. Then, too, they managed in Britain to control the vital forces of the navy. In America they trained themselves through the French and Indian wars. Everywhere they endeavored to influence certain corps of the army, especially the artillery department where the needed engineers and scientists were located. If the cavalry often belonged to the Royalists, the artillery frequently followed the capitalists. Once the bourgeoisie found themselves with fetters unbound or in control of the State, they quickly formed their own special forces, such as the Garde Mobile in France. Sometimes they used these special forces to crack the regular army of the old regime and win it over to their cause.
The proletariat has had a more difficult time than the bourgeoisie in disarming the forces of the State and arming itself. Let us remember that the bourgeoisie seized power in most cases long after it had become the dominating factor in production; hence it had money and other material means at its disposal. The proletariat, on the other hand, must seize power in order to make sure its possession of the means of production. It must make the struggle for power as a dispossessed, oppressed class. Hence, the weapons it needs unless it is armed by the bourgeoisie for war purposes must be taken from the bourgeoisie by force. This arming of itself is an inevitable process and the Fourth International will have to take cognizance of the tasks to be performed. First of all, there is the fact that proletarian revolutions today do not need to wait for world wars to break out. They can mature, as China, Cuba and Spain have shown, even where there is no war to throw all antagonisms into sharpest relief.
In considering the armed forces of the State, many distinctions must be drawn. First it must be determined whether the army is a mercenary volunteer one or a conscript army. Naturally, the approach will be different and the possibilities for work vary in each case. Then there are the questions pertaining to each branch of the service. In general it will be found that the artillery and aviation corps will be firmly under the control of the capitalists, the cavalry in charge of the agrarian element and the infantry made up of both workers and farmers or peasants. Each branch of the armed forces will offer special problems. This does not mean that the proletariat will not be able to get a foothold in all these divisions. In the aviation corps, for example, much depends upon the aviation mechanic who is closely bound to the working class and can even be unionized and induced to strike in solidarity with his brethren. As the armed forces become increasingly motorized and mechanized, the number of plain workmen attached to the army increases. The proletariat enters into the heart of even the most mercenary armed force today.
Then there are the other divisions of the armed forces, such special super-loyal groups as the U.S. Marines who act as police over the army and navy, such groups as the National Guard or State Militia which are in between the regular army and the police and which offer diverse problems. In the United States these groups are often filled with working class and farmer elements who are sympathetic to strikers. The National Guard and State Militia, however, are intended to be particularly loyal to the bourgeoisie and to be used for internal work, against the enemy at home. Therefore the effort to crack this particular body of men becomes especially important to revolutionists in ordinary times of strike or where insurrection is not yet on the order of the day so as to warrant the use of the regular army. In the European countries special Mobile Guards or National Guards are formed for this sole purpose of domestic action.
Besides this group some countries have special nationalized and centralized police forces, like the French gendarmerie who are highly paid but removed from the local influence of the people. Further down the line there are the specialized and permanent forces of the police such as the “Industrial squads”, the detective forces, etc. In all countries, a sharp line has been drawn between the regular army and the police, the proletariat abandoning all hope of winning the police over to their side, but concentrating instead upon the regular soldiers where they have a better chance. In America, there is still another division, the posse of the sheriff. This is made up of citizens, most often of citizens completely controlled by the capitalists.
Around the armed forces are to be found large numbers of proletarians who are part of the civilian population needed to sustain the soldiers. As a general rule, the advance of capitalism has increasingly intertwined the army with industry, and while war has become the greatest industry of modern times, tending completely to subordinate all other branches to itself, simultaneously the military machine has been forced to rely increasingly upon the factories and productive processes of the country. Thus, strikes, boycotts, sabotage can become an increasingly powerful weapon to demoralize and crack the armed forces by removing material support from them at critical moments. But further than that, there are the armories and arsenals which are filled with workers and which these workers can take over at the right time. This is highly important since to control the armory or arsenal means to get the possibility of arming the masses directly and to remove the guns and other armament from the regular forces of the State. Besides these depots, there are the camps and cantonments of all sorts which have large numbers of workmen attached to them, workmen who if properly organized and directed could do inestimable damage in winning the soldiery to the cause of the revolution. Finally, of course, there is the method of direct and indirect fraternization between the members of the army and the ordinary working population. Wherever these soldiers go in the cities, during recreation periods or otherwise, they are bound to come in contact with the mass of people and to become infected with the prevailing social views.
Extremely important, and often furnishing an invaluable link in reaching the military ranks, are the social-military reserves which the capitalist State is forced to maintain. These reserves are of various sorts; conscripts who are liable to be called to the colors, officers who are on call, veteran organizations, military training groups, and such bodies as in America are represented by the Reserve Officers Training Corps, the Citizens Military Training Camps, the various rifle clubs, authorized by the government, military schools and similar institutions.
The attitude of the Communist changes according to the specific character and purpose of each body. As much as possible these social organizations are utilized to penetrate both into the regular armed forces and into the ranks of the lines next in reserve.
Part of the strategy of disarming of the bourgeoisie is the dissolution of the capitalist armies in time of war. The line of Lenin was the defeatist line, that is, the policy whereby the Communists worked for the defeat of their own ruling class and did their best to win the workers and conscripts in the army to their cause by denouncing the war and organizing mutinies to subdue the officers and transform imperialist war to civil war. Of course the Communists have to work differently from the agents of the foreign governments at war with one another. Not every form of defeatism is revolutionary defeatism; the mere fact that the troops are defeated does not necessarily mean a strengthening of the workers’ forces. In times of war the capitalists always try to make the Communists into agents provocateur or spies for the enemy ruling class and this is a great danger that must be avoided. The defeatism of the Leninist takes the form of accentuating the class struggle in all its ramifications; by no means can it take the form of consciously favoring the capitalist class of the hostile country. (This was the form taken by the ill-fated Irish Rebellion of 1916. In many places the bourgeoisie has cooperated with the ruling classes of opposing countries but this can not be the policy of the working class.) Naturally, these precautions do not hold so far as contacting the workers of the other belligerent countries are concerned, and every effort must be made at fraternization with the workers and soldiers of the opposing armies so as to break down capitalist and imperialist divisions.
The defeatism of the proletariat can not only take the form of strikes at home and mutinies in the army, but also must make use of the pacifistic tendencies in the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie. Pacifism can be used to demoralize the ranks of the workers. The militant sections of the advanced workers certainly cannot ignore the traditions and sentiments of pacifism which a large number of the petty bourgeoisie hold as their own, but must learn how to use these feelings for a revolutionary purpose. After all, it is not generally the working class that declares wars but the rulers, and the opposition of pacifism can assume a sincere note that will help the pacifists to work in alliance with the revolutionists. This was seen in the conference of Zimmerwald and elsewhere in the early part of the last war.
The bourgeoisie internationally can also become disarmed by divisions in its ranks as well as by exhaustion. Where actually the workers are in charge of a State faced with the possibility of a capitalist united front against it, it is perfectly proper for that workers’ State to try to prevent the consolidation of the hostile capitalist world. It has the duty of making alliances that will split up the opposing forces as much as possible. Furthermore, if the war must break out it would be better for it to break out in the capitalist world than against the country which is controlled by the workers for the time being. But there must be no illusions that the capitalist classes of the world also do not appreciate this danger and will not ultimately unite their forces against the country won by the workers. What is wrong with the Franco-Soviet Pact is not that the Soviet Union has tried to make alliances with capitalist countries, but rather that in order to make that alliance it has sacrificed the interests of the world revolution, preventing the French Revolution from breaking out and thus further isolating the Soviet Union itself.
Where colonial countries like Morocco under Abd-El-Krim and Ethiopia under Haile Selassie revolt against imperialism it is the duty of the Communists to support the colonial forces in revolt, even where there is no possibility of introducing Communism in those countries. The storming of the main fortress of capitalism in Europe and America can only be accomplished by making use of the vast guerilla fighting that breaks out in the colonial countries, from Asia to Latin America. The colonial warfare if it does nothing else, at least weakens the forces of imperialism and permits the workers better to attack in the industrial countries.
Hand in hand with the question of disarming the bourgeoisie goes the problem of the arming of the class that is coming to power, the proletariat. The general tendency of capitalism is to arm the entire people and mobilize it for war. It is clear that an oppressed class that has never used arms cannot conquer power. Therefore the strategy of the Communists must be to train as many of the working class population as possible in fighting and in the use of arms. As in the slogan “Lynch the Lynchers of the Negroes and poor toilers,” it is not the action of fighting that is condemned but the direction that the fighting takes. In the case of the armed forces, what the Communists try to do is to turn the army against its own officers and to throw the armed people against the bourgeois State.
In the 19th century when many States had standing armies of mercenary soldiers, the Marxists predicted that following the French Revolution the inevitable tendency would be for universal military training and conscription; and to this change they were not opposed. Today, however, the attitude of the Communists towards universal military training can not be confined to generalities but must be entirely concrete and specific. The world can be divided into three principal sections, in this respect.
In Europe where universal military training has been a fact for a long time, where the devastating world war has brought home the meaning of revolution to the entire population and where the mass of workers have been in the trenches and already know the use of arms, here the communists can no longer support the demand for universal military training although not necessarily must they be in opposition to it. The demand in Europe today must be for a People’s or for a Workers’ Militia. Especially appropriate is this in countries where the People’s Front rules. It can be demonstrated that only when the entire people are armed that peace is assured as evidenced by the fact that the first country to stop fighting in the last world was precisely that country that dissolved its regular army and armed the people --- Russia.
In the colonial and semi-colonial countries, however, an entirely different situation prevails. In such cases as China, India, Nicaragua or the Philippines, the imperialists rule through mercenary armies separate and apart from the people. In such countries the demand for universal military training would arouse the masses to the highest pitch of enthusiasm and fill the rulers with dread. One of the great signs of hope in China today is the fact that the old traditions of Confucius which looked askance at military training are rapidly disappearing. If the incessant fighting in China has done nothing else it has at least been a great training school for the masses to learn the use of arms. This is the beginning of the end for imperialism.
In such countries as the United States, Canada, Australia and similar regions where the masses are not trained in the use of arms and have never had conscription for any length of time, here universal military training can serve a decidedly useful purpose for the Communists. In such countries, then, it is not the duty of the Communists to oppose universal military training, but rather to favor it, although they may not always be in the position openly to demand it, since traditions of pacifism in a given country might make the general labor movement misinterpret this demand. Yet there is no other way out to arm the masses. In this category of countries the time is not ripe to raise the slogan Worker’ Militia. It is significant that in the United States the ruling class itself is not in a hurry to introduce universal military training.
In the United States the Communists will have to take a clear position in regard to the special militarist groups such as the Reserve Officers Training Corps, the Citizens Military Training Camps, the National Guard and so forth. In regard to the first, the Communists put forth steady opposition since this body is for the training only of bourgeois cadres. All work that Communists do within this body is work to destroy and nullify its activity. In regard to the Citizens Military Training Camps a different position might be taken. On the one hand, these camps take in wide numbers of workers and train them in the use of arms. On the other hand, the workers are partially selected and given a thorough bourgeois patriotic training that puts them in an entirely different environment than a universally conscripted army would engender. Under such circumstances, it would seem that the Communists cannot oppose nor raise the cry of boycott of the C.M.T.Cs, nor yet can they advocate such selected camps, but rather must work within them to raise the political level of their members and to win them for Communism.
In regard to the National Guard, the workers must do everything in their power to break up and destroy this specialized armed force of the bourgeoisie whose purpose is strike-breaking and the smashing of workers demonstrations. This does not, however, preclude work within this guard, slogans to favor the rank and file against the officers, agitation for the election of officers and similar measures.
Wherever other bodies exist such as the Citizens Conservation Corps, the Boy Scouts and various sports and drill societies, the action of the Communists depends upon the composition and function of the group. Where the group is thoroughly selected and under careful bourgeois guidance but made up of plain working class elements, there the policy will be similar to that of the C.M. T. C. On the other hand, as much as possible the workers must build up their own sports and drill clubs, their own defense corps. This is the best answer that Labor can make to the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Legion or similar organizations potentially of great menace to the labor movement in the United States.
The arming of the proletariat has now reached a different stage in world history with the conquest of power by the workers of one part of the world. For the first time the workers have a vast army and incalculable resources at their disposal. Within the Soviet Union everything that is done to strengthen the armed might of the people strengthens the entire working class. What is wrong with Stalinism is that it has disarmed the people by replacing their creative will by the initiative and power of a bureaucracy. Stalinism cannot defend the Soviet Union adequately and in the course or the coming war, when this becomes known, the proletariat will soon enough have to take action to remove the bureaucracy and reinstitute its own direct rule.
However, so long as the Soviet Union remains a Workers’ State, then every advance that it wins in the form of recognition or credits and supplies from a capitalist world goes to strengthen the world proletariat, provided of course the price is not so great that the workers lose more than they gain. And it is precisely the crime of Stalinism that it pays much more than it gets in return; the advantage to the Soviet union is counterbalanced by the defeat of the world revolution which the policies of the leaders help to bring about.
The Soviet Union can not be neutral in any war of a major character that breaks out. Even should the capitalists not drag Russia into the war, it would be the duty of the Soviet Union at critical moments to throw the vast weight of its economic and military forces into the struggle but only in such a way as to further the emancipation of the workers of the belligerent countries and to spread the world revolution. It would be criminal for the Soviet Union to take sides in the coming war, helping one set of capitalists against the other. This is exactly what Stalinism intends to do. Here the Russian officials will have to reckon with the soldiers and workers in their own country who also will have something to say, and once the war breaks out, will be in a better position to speak to the bureaucracy.
On the other hand, the proletariat of the world cannot be neutral in any war against the Soviet Union. It is not only a matter of aiding the Soviet Union—which can best be done only by the working class extending the proletarian revolution—but also a question of struggling against any capitalist country at war with the Soviets. For the proper policy which the Communists of the Fourth International must pursue we refer the reader to the Class Struggle of November, 1935.
The strategy of the Fourth International will have to deal extensively with the question of the strategy of insurrection. And for this it will have to make a thorough examination of all the revolutions that have taken place from the time of the Peasants War of the 15th and 16th centuries to the present. So far as modern times are concerned, there will have to be a distinction made between various stages of the movement. There is first the period before the revolutionary situation has arisen and when the fight is one for preparation of the struggle through the fight for secondary reforms. Second, there is the phase just prior to the actual insurrection where the situation has become revolutionary and the proletarian vanguard is thoroughly prepared and organized for the seizure of power. Finally, there is the moment of insurrection itself.
That every social revolution will have to culminate in a period of actual insurrection is now the commonplace among the advanced workers. That this insurrection must not just “happen” haphazardly but can be planned by the vanguard, is also a truism since the days of Lenin. What is not sufficiently recognized, however, is the decisive character of the subjective factor, the Party, in the present period and the possibilities of the Communists themselves to change the level of development from one plane to another. Especially will this be true in highly industrialized regions where the very organization of the working class even for reforms may lead at once to the question of power. While it is hard to start the revolution in these countries, once the situation is ripe the revolutionary movement can run with tremendous speed and directness through all its phases.
The periods through which a People’s revolution has generally traveled in modern times, are mainly, the spontaneous outburst, the “Honeymoon” stage, the “July Days”, the counter-revolt, the further revolutionary advance leading to the victory of the proletariat, the period of civil war and then retreat. Together with this is the study of the mutual relationship of limited democracy, broad democracy, democratic-dictatorship and dictatorship of the proletariat, both direct and indirect. The evolution of the party from the sectarian stage, to the mass stage, to the heroic period and to degeneration via the route of Thermidor, the Directorate, the Consulate and Bonapartism, all must be given careful study.
Revolutions have their own evolution and laws of development, but these laws are laws of social explosions. The revolutionary movement often goes far beyond the point where it can maintain itself and is then driven backward far beyond the point necessary. Thus it is only as a resultant of the most violent swings in one direction and the other, that the revolution finally comes to rest at the spot commensurate with the relationship of social forces at the time. It is necessary to study not only the law of the zig-zag, but also the laws by which the zig-zags become so exaggerated and extreme. The laws of revolutions contain also within themselves the laws regulating the tempo and form of mutation movements, of sympdial developments.
Having studied the laws of social action and reaction both in their exaggerated and normal aspects within the general movement known as revolution, the revolutionists then can be prepared to take up the various instruments which they can use to test out in what moment of the social revolution they find themselves. Here we find ourselves not in the realm of social statics but of social dynamics and the ordinary instruments and barometers are not sufficient. The Communists can use the barometer of parliamentary elections in these periods, the amount of votes being a rough indication of the stage of the movement; or he can use the method of direct action on a secondary scale. In all cases his demands must be timed to meet the actual real situation.
But these mechanical instruments are not sufficient. The Communist Party must use far more delicate dials. It must be intimately bound up with the toilers so that there is a constant transfusion of blood between the two. It must make use of those fine electrical devices which can measure the temper, the feelings, the electrical irradiation of the masses from moment to moment. This can be done only by a party that truly springs from the bowels of the class striving for power and represents its very soul. Feelings, passions moods, psychological irradiations of the mass, the party must be so attuned to them by intimate personal contact with the people that it can sway them through the mechanism of politics to bring forth social conclusions. A bureaucracy in the party is fatal to such machinery of adjustment. If it is capable of understanding the rough laws of gravitation, it can never understand the laws of electro-dynamics.
The Fourth International will have to make a scientific study of the proper organs of insurrection. There is parliament which can become the medium of the mass struggle, as Spain shows today and the French, English and American Revolution demonstrated long ago. The modifications that parliament undergoes in the course of the struggle and its limitation as an effective organ of proletarian struggle has to be understood in all its aspects. Then there are the economic bodies of the workers, the shop committees, the trade union councils and similar groups. Finally, there are the Soviets either in the shape given by the Russian Revolution or in some modified form. Concrete circumstances may demand specific adaptations of the organs of insurrection.
In regard to the insurrection itself, there is always to be considered the dictum of Marx that insurrection is an art, the essence of which lies in the audacious offensive and the determination to carry through to the end what is once started. Since the party will have to form its Military-Insurrectionary Committee, the experiences of such committees as have been formed in the past must be thoroughly digested. The question of the element of surprise in the seizure of key places, such as radio stations, means of communication and transportation, public places, stores or arms, factories, and so forth becomes part of the problem. Hand in hand with this problem is the one of the organization of the armed forces responsible for the insurrection.
Insurrectionary strategy will have to take into account the lessons of barricade fighting of the past, the Paris Commune, the 1905 experience, the fighting in Vienna in 1934, and similar occasions. In such a country as the United States, for example, where there are over 25 million automobiles, the question of barricading streets becomes of special importance since these automobiles can make mobile and easily constructed barricades even for the broadest highways. It is no longer necessary to rip up the streets or to throw down furniture from the houses to form barricades in such a country.
Finally, it must be considered that the insurrection is not the culmination of the Social Revolution but its true beginning. While the workers may seize power they will have to hold it against desperate resistance. Insurrection is followed by civil war. The Fourth International must draw the military technical lessons from the civil wars fought by the proletariat in the past. The question of the value of airplanes, small arms, cannon, tanks, mines, grenades and gas in relation both to guerilla warfare of the peasantry dispersed over a large territory and to masses of workers congested in large cities must play an important role in this respect.
From all this it can be seen what an entirely different body the Fourth International will be compared with its predecessors. It will be a body which will recognize that the peaceful period of capitalism is over, that riots, bloodshed, violence, insurrection, revolution, war, civil war, is the normal atmosphere in which we must live and work. It will also recognize that there has been a tremendous gap between the general theoretical knowledge of the workers and the strategy of what is to be done to make Communism a reality. The Fourth International will concentrate entirely upon the strategy of the world revolution.
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