William F. Dunne

The Struggle Against Opportunism in the Labor Movement – For a Socialist United States

A Contribution to the Discussion of Major Problems of Marxism-Leninism in Our Country

Chapter 3: Tactics, Alliances, and Immediate Demands in Struggle for Socialist Program

Since the only reason for the existence of Marxist-Leninist political parties (Communist parties, irrespective of designation) and of the science of Marxism is to guide and coordinate the struggle to replace capitalism by a socialist system—the transition period out of which develops the classless Communist society,–it follows that tactical compromises in the field of the class struggle by Communists must advance the interest of the workingclass as the only class capable of leading other exploited classes in this direction–or they are ipso facto defeatist.

This is the key to the question of tactics–and compromises. These questions arise every day because of the immensely complex nature of class relationships in capitalist society–a complexity it is hard to resolve into its component parts because of the domination of the channels of information by the capitalist class and their agencies–press, radio, etc.

Delusion of “Practicality”

Tactical compromises are necessary and must be made on the basis of the concrete situation in all its aspects–but with no compromise on principle. Compromises which in their practical results substitute a program of reforms within capitalist society for the program of abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism are neither compromises nor practical. They are surrender, political and moral suicide.

Such are the results of opportunism. Since all Marxists agree that socialism is the only victorious way out for the workingclass from the continual round of crises, depressions, unemployment and world wars of ever increasing mass destruction, the substitution of other goals as the central, main and immediate task of the most advanced party of its class constitutes rejection of its reason for existence and surrender to enemies of socialism—including those who profess belief in socialism but deny the decisive role of the workingclass and its Marxist party.

The opportunist wreckers in the leadership of the CP have made this substitution–and defend it against all criticism to the point of expelling and denouncing as enemies of the workingclass all Communists who characterize this substitution as surrender of all principles–putting this leadership in the camp of opportunism which aids in deceiving the workingclass.

Business Boosters

“This projected foreign-economic program of the GOP, a logical counterpart of the Hoover-Vandenberg-Byrnes ’get tough with Russia’ policy, is bound even more grievously to impair friendly and cooperative relations among the Big Three and the other United Nations. Its effect will be to promote further distrust and enmity toward the USA abroad; to lose for us allies and good neighbors, including opportunities for expanding peaceful commerce and exchange. (Our emphasis). “... It... hampers the development of world trade and restricts the opportunities of American commerce in the world markets. (Our emphasis). These factors are hastening and accelerating the maturing of the next cyclical economic crisis. And the likelihood is that this crisis may break out–unless retarded by a great economic and political counter-offensive of the masses of the people in 1948, or maybe even during the last half of 1947.” (Page 17–Dennis Report, Dec. 3-5, ’46 (Emphasis in original).

The above categorical statements show clearly that this leadership is in the reformist camp. It is trying to save monopoly capitalism from its contradictions.

This leadership has abandoned the work Communists are supposed to do. This leadership is not made up of Communists who are agitators, propagandists, organizers for the workingclass, preparing it politically for acceptance of and struggle for socialism as the only victorious way out of crises, unemployment, poverty, and imperialist war.

This leadership is functioning openly as “statesmen” of a “liberal” capitalist system. It is even calling upon the merciless laws of monopoly capitalism to cease working—and thereby halt “the next cyclical economic crisis!” It is competing with the most expert demagogs of the capitalist parties in maintaining and even extending the illusions concerning the capitalist system and its government.

Opportunist Cycle

The opportunist cycle is completed. To Marxists it is clear that the revisionists of the European Social-democracy have at last had their opportunist record broken to smithereens by these ”practical” American advocates of ”unity” without principle.

The cold truth is that this leadership shrinks from the struggle to win the workingclass for Marxist socialism. Marxist socialism is the goal mainly of the poor, the propertyless, the dispossessed, for working people in city and countryside who do the hard, dirty, unpleasant jobs, and whose lives know little glamour but are filled with constant worry and insecurity. Marxist socialism can never be respectable in capitalist and upper bracket middle class circles. Both fear the workingclass because one robs it directly in production and the other assists in the process.

Alliances–Why and How?

Are alliances and compromises with the middle class and their parties and other organizations permissible? Of course. But sections of the middle class enter into alliance with the workingclass, with Communists, only when their own economic, political and social interests are threatened by monopoly capital and its government to the extent that it must have allies to strengthen its defensive actions.

Is it necessary in the present period for Communists and the workingclass and its organized labor movement to enter into alliances with the middle class? Of course it is, provided it is an alliance and not a surrender to their program and leadership; provided the program and points of agreement allow full freedom for special demands of the workingclass —and for the campaign for socialism as the only victorious way out for the workingclass–the great majority of the population.

This is not the kind of tactical compromise into which this opportunist leadership is trying to deceive and drive the CP membership and non-party workers and intellectuals it hopes to influence.

Opportunist Chicanery

This is surrender of the socialist objective. It is justified (Bittelman articles in the Daily Worker) by the vulgar opportunist conception, harking back to the Second International, that there is and must be an indefinite period in which the workingclass does not try to assume independent political leadership but accepts middle class demands and leadership. For itself it makes only limited economic demands so as not to “alienate” the middle class.

According to this theory, which also has syndicalist roots, open advocacy of and continuous campaigning to win the workingclass for a socialist program hampers the struggle for immediate demands.

The exact contrary is true since the greater the socialist understanding in the ranks of the workingclass, the more resolute and effective are all struggle for immediate economic and social gains, the greater the unity in these struggles as a result of the knowledge of the class nature of the capitalist system and distrust and hatred of the robber class, its mercenaries, its methods and its class objectives.

Deception is multiplied by the deliberate effort to create confusion in regard to “the political preparation of the workingclass for the struggle for socialism” and “the immediate struggle for socialism.”

It is a demonstrable fact, a matter of common knowledge, that the workingclass in our country is not now prepared to challenge capitalist-imperialism as a system; that it does not, as class, or even decisive sections of it, accept the program of abolition of capitalism and the establishment of a socialist order as the only way out of the multiplying evils monopoly capitalism heaps upon it.

Crime of Confusion

It is this creation of confusion instead of clarity which constitutes one of the major crimes of this opportunist leadership. The limited extent of socialist consciousness in the ranks of the workingclass–the entire absence of it for that matter–(although this is by no means the case) should make it all the more urgent that communists in the most advanced capitalist country in the world, where the workingclass is an absolute majority of the population, should be dedicated to “the political preparation of the workingclass for socialism.”

This is incontrovertible. The more intensive that preparation is, the larger the number of workers who accept the program for a socialist United States, the easier and more effective will be such tactical compromises with other parties and other social classes, and therefore temporary alliances with them against the attacks of monopoly capital.

It should be clear to even backward children that winning a million workers for a Marxist socialist program, by placing this as the central and immediate task in all Communist activity (an entirely feasible task in a year or two) would pretty much settle the question of Communist participation in united fronts for a program of immediate demands together with middle class groups and workers still under middle class leadership.

If not exactly welcomed with open arms, Communists would then obviously be necessary to such united front struggles in our country.

Enemies of Communism and socialism would then be compelled to discuss all such issues on a political basis–not on the basis of slander, innuendo and outright ignorance because there would then be no doubts as to the Communist objective–a Socialist United States.

In the political struggle of the workingclass for its emancipation opportunist intrigue as a substitute for class power leads only to denial of the struggle to win the workingclass for Marxist socialism, leads only to defeat and disgrace. This leadership in its surrender to reformist capitalism and adoption of demagogic deception of the CP membership and the workingclass as a policy, replacing political preparation of the workingclass for the abolition of capitalism as the present source of the major ills of mankind, succumbs to the worst forms of capitalist parliamentary corruption.

Leninist Goal and Method

It rejects–and slanders and expels–Communists who insist on the adoption of Marxist-Leninist methods and objectives:

“The Communists in.... America must learn to create a new, unusual, non-opportunist, non-careerist parliamentarism; the Communist parties must issue their slogans; real proletarians, with the help of the unorganized and very poorest people, should scatter and distribute leaflets, canvass the workers’ houses and the... rural proletarians they should go into the most common taverns, penetrate into the unions, societies and casual meetings where the common people gather, and talk to the people, not in scientific (and not very parliamentary) language, not in the least strive to get seats in parliament, but everywhere to rouse the thoughts of the masses and draw them into the struggle, to take the bourgeoisie at their word, to utilize the apparatus they have set up, the elections they have called for, the appeal to the country they have made, and to tell the people what Communism is in a way that has not been possible (under bourgeois rule) outside of election times (not counting of course times of big strikes...) It is very difficult to do this in... America, very, very difficult; but it can and must be done... the tasks of Communists cannot be fulfilled without effort...” (Lenin–Selected Works Vol. 10, Page 142. (Our emphasis)

This was written in 1920–when the CP, then only a year old, was under heavier attack than any it has experienced since. Thousands of its members had been arrested on a nationwide scale in the Palmer raids; the CP had been compelled to go underground. Its press was illegal. But Lenin did not suggest that even under such difficult conditions the CP abandon its central and immediate task and program for winning the workingclass and poorer sections of the population for socialism.

But this is exactly what this notorious revisionist leadership has done–and in a period of the greatest political freedom and opportunity for agitation, propaganda and mass distribution of Marxist literature–in a period of gigantic strikes in basic industries on a scale never seen before in our country–involving some 4,000,000 workers.

Clarity vs. Confusion

The most urgent need in the labor movement today–deluged as it is with pro-capitalist propaganda, from the founts of the outright supporters of monopoly capitalism and all points of its program, through the deception technique of Wallace—New Republic middle class grouping with its “free enterprise without monopolies or cartels” to the even more obsolete slogan of the opportunist leadership of the Communist Party: “Resurrect the Roosevelt program”–is a clear understanding of the objectives, strategy and tactics of the socialist class struggle.

The opportunist leadership of the CP for years has acted and continues to act as though the principles of Marxist-Leninism were a collection of mystic rubrics for which they have been selected as sole guardians. The science of Marxism is the most precious and practical heritage of the workingclass of all countries. To sequester this heritage in sectarian cloisters from which it is doled out in adulterated doses is one of those revisionist crimes against the workingclass (especially in the United States, the most highly developed and dominant imperialist country, which, in classical religious terms would be called a sin against the Holy Ghost.

In Old Testament terms (and Marxist terms as well) it is the crime of scribes, Pharisees and Philistines.

Utmost clarity on these questions is imperative. We are including therefore what we are convinced is one of the most concise summations of the best Marxist thought on these questions. It combines the history of the development and application of theory and practice from the earlier period of capitalism into this period of imperialism–“the final stage of capitalism”: Study of this brilliant exposition will do much to clear up questions concerning the main reasons for the situation today in which the leadership and program of the CP have placed it: namely, trailing behind and cheering on the demagogic politicians of the two capitalist parties and their pro-capitalist programs instead of being the leading force in the preparation of the workingclass for the political struggle for a socialist United States.

Serious study of these basic rules which govern and make possible the correct application of Marxist-Leninist theory, strategy and tactics, in the light of the present stage of the class struggle in our country, leads inescapably to but one conclusion: The program of the CP, essentially the same as that of middle class reformists and pro-capitalist trade union bureaucrats, makes ineffective, in terms of real wages and living and working conditions, the trade union struggle-against the “daily encroachments” of monopoly capitalism on these economic and social standards.

Defeatism in All Fields

The program is based first of all on the appeal to the monopoly capitalists to the effect that the granting of its economic demands will stabilize their system and stave off a crisis.

Second, the demands are not based on the needs of the, workingclass but on the ability of the monopolists and their government to make even greater profits.

Third, this program is put forward in the name of “unity”–but in the CIO and in the A.F. of L. the “unity” for joint struggle for such demands is achieved by eliminating the elementary trade union and democratic political rights of the membership–including Communists. (This is dealt with in another section).

Fourth, this non-existent “unity” is used to justify the jettisoning of the main, major and immediate task of Communists–winning the workingclass for a socialist program.

Opportunist “Unity”

A study of Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics is especially necessary at this time because of the intensity and scope of the offensive of monopoly capitalism and its government; it is especially necessary because the opportunist leadership of the CP separates mass resistance to this powerful drive on union rights, living standards, social and political gains, from the main, immediate and central task of using the lessons of these class conflicts and the righteous anger of workers, Negro and white, for the systematic political preparation of the workingclass for the struggle for socialism.

The socialist interests of the workingclass are treated by this leadership as if they were a menace to labor unity, as if they endangered electoral and other alliances with sections of the middle class. It is in the light of the above facts that we ask serious study of the following summation of Marxist strategy and tactics and consideration of their application in our country where the workingclass constitutes the great majority of the population:

We here refer to the speech of Comrade Manuilsky delivered to the Seventh Congress of the Communist International, July-August 1935.

Opportunist Distortion

It was this Congress which prepared the way for the organization of the Popular Front against Fascism–the democratic front against fascism and imperialist war. Since the congenital opportunist leaders of the CP. of the United States (Browder simply being the most influential) took the tactical line agreed on at the 7th Congress (1935) as a license to peddle the independence of the CP. and step by step accomplish its dissolution (1944), make it an agent of bourgeois and petty bourgeois policy in the labor movement, it is very useful to note where Manuilsky found the main danger in carrying through this campaign for workingclass unity for that pre-war period marked by Hitler’s conquest of power two years before.

Read and Digest

We give here extended quotations, which we do not do elsewhere in this document, (wanting rather that readers should look up the context for themselves) because of the decisive importance of this theoretical and tactical material in relation to the entire question of notorious revisionism, leading to defeatism and dissolution, over a whole ten year period in the life (and living death, under revisionism) of the CPUSA.

Comrade Manuilsky, speaking on the 46th anniversary of the death of Frederick Engels and the lessons of his life, work and battles in connection with the tasks and tactical line that the rise of Fascism placed before the international working class and its Communist parties, began by calling attention to vital tactical questions and the basic principles which must govern Communists in their decisions upon these matters, i.e. how action is determined in specific situations:

“... Engels said: ’We want the destruction of classes. What are the means of securing this? The political domination of the proletariat... The policy which should be followed is a workers’ policy. A party must be formed not as an appendage to some bourgeois parties, but as an independent party with its own aim, its own policy.’ (From Engels’ speech at the London Conference of the First International).

“And it was to these aims that Engels devoted his half century of struggle.

“Engels’ distinguishing traits as a politician of the working class were distinctly formulated by Lenin as follows: ’... A most profound understanding of the fundamental revolutionary aims of the proletariat, and an unusually flexible definition of a given problem of tactics, from the point of view of these revolutionary aims, and without the slightest concession to opportunism and revolutionary phraseology.’ (Lenin: Marx, Engels, Marxism)

“I now want to deal in detail with Engels as the master of proletarian tactics the... leaders of our Sections can learn something from the brilliant examples of the art of tactics given by the great proletarian captain.

“Of the rich treasury of tactical propositions which Engels worked out and applied in the course of his practical activities I will deal with only a few which directly concern the central task of the Seventh Congress, vis., the task of preparing and organizing the workingclass and all the toilers for the decisive battles.

“There were not a few people in Engels’ time, and there are not a few today, who conceive of the proletarian revolution not dialectically but mechanically. They argued that the class conscious, consistent, ’pure’ revolutionaries were in one camp, while the other camp was one reactionary mass: that there can be no changes in the relations of class forces, for all classes have once and for all adopted their prescribed positions in the revolutionary scheme: there are no vacillating intermediate strata, for all have been entered beforehand in the category of reaction; there is no vanguard and reserves, for all represent one revolutionary mass; there are no masses who are only just approaching revolution, for all have been beforehand, included in the camp of the revolutionary vanguard; there are no stages in the development of the revolutionary struggle, for in some enigmatic way, the masses have been transferred to the supreme class ’of the last and decisive battle’; the revolutionary party need not carry on everyday work to enlighten and prepare the masses for the struggle, for the masses are only waiting for the signal to rush into battle under the leadership of the arch-revolutionary leaders; organizational preparation for the purpose of accelerating growth of the movement is superfluous, they say, because the spontaneity of the movement itself is working in our favor. This is the type of people Engels had in mind when he ridiculed the following scheme of development of the revolution:

“’All the official parties united in one lump here, all the Socialists in one column there–great decisive battle. Victory all along the line at one blow. In real life things do not happen so simply. In real life... the revolution begins the other way round, by the great majority of the people and also of the official parties massing themselves together against the government, which is thereby isolated, and overthrowing it; and it is only after those of the official parties whose existence is still possible have mutually and successfully accomplished one another’s destruction that the great division takes place and with it the prospect of our rule. If... we wanted to start straight off with the final act of the revolution, we should be in a miserably bad way.’” (The Correspondence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.)

“This brilliant proposition of Engels on the progress and development of the revolution was still more strikingly and fully developed by Lenin more than thirty years later. He wrote:

“To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without the revolutionary outburst of a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without the movement of non-class-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against the oppression of the landlords, the church, the monarchy, the foreign nations, etc.,’to imagine that means repudiating social-revolution. Only those who imagine that in one place an army will line up and say, ’We are for socialism,’ and in another place another army will say ’we are for imperialism,’ and that this will be the social revolution...

“Whoever expects a ’pure’ social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip service to revolution without understanding what revolution is.’ (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. V, Page 303.)

“Further on he says: ’The socialist revolution in Europe cannot be anything else than an outburst of mass struggle on the part of all and sundry of the oppressed and discontented elements. Sections of the petty bourgeoisie and of the backward workers will inevitably participate in it–without such participation, mass struggle is impossible, without it no revolution is possible–and just as inevitably will they bring into the movement their prejudices, their reactionary fantasies, their weaknesses and errors. But objectively they will attack capital, and the class-conscious vanguard of the revolution, the advanced proletariat expressing this objective truth of a heterogeneous and discordant, motley and outwardly incohesive, mass struggle, will be able to unite and direct it.’ (Lenin: Selected Works, Vol. V, Page 304)

“These remarkably profound words of Engels and Lenin contain the fundamental elements of the reply to the question of how we today can successfully fight against the offensive of capital, of fascism, and the menace of war. (Our emphasis) They indicate the necessity of the proletarian party having a correct policy towards the masses of its own class and towards its allies and they indicate the task of creating a broad people’s front of struggle, the need for and the ability to take advantage of international antagonisms for the purpose of strengthening the position of the proletariat. All our experiences have more than once confirmed the fact that the party which starts out with vulgarized and naive conceptions of revolution is incapable of playing the part of organizer and leader of the revolution. There is nothing more dangerous for a live and fighting party than a ready made, invented and lifeless formula, for it conceals all the living and motley variety of the conditions and forms of struggle.

Preserve Class Character

“It is wrong to think that the revolution will develop along a straight line like the flight of an arrow, that no hitches or interruptions, and retreats for the purpose of leaping further forward will occur in the maturing revolutionary process. It is wrong to think that the tactics of the revolutionary party should be based not on the relation of class forces that exist, but on relations as we would like them to be. It is wrong to think that in the process of preparing for revolution as well as in the process of its development it is sufficient for the proletarian party to rely entirely upon the forces of the vanguard and that there is not need to rely on the majority of the working class. It is wrong to think that by ignoring other class forces and by refraining from trying to win over the vacillating classes to the side of the revolution, at least temporarily, the proletarian party can create the clear situation of ’class against class.’ It is wrong to think that it is possible to prepare for the revolution and to bring it about without taking advantage of the antagonisms within the camp of the enemy, without temporary, partial compromises with other classes and groups which are becoming revolutionary, and their political organizations. (Our emphasis)

Basic Premise

“In 1889, in a letter to the Danish Socialist Trier, Engels recommends that other parties be utilized in the interests of the working class, that,

“’... Other parties and measures should be temporarily supported which are either of direct advantage to the proletariat, or which represent a step forward in the direction of economic development or of political liberty...’

“’But,’ Engels adds, ’I am in favor of this only if the advantage accruing directly for us, or for the historical development of the country along the path of economic and political revolution, is unquestionable and is worth-while striving after. Another obligatory condition is that the proletarian class character of the Party shall not thereby be brought into question. That for me is the absolute limit.’

Strengthening the class character of the party, raising the class-consciousness of the proletariat, raising its fighting capacity, strengthening its positions, weakening the position of the class enemy–such are the criteria which Engels regarded as essential in deciding the question of whether this or that compromise was permissible. (Our emphasis)

These tactics are profoundly hostile to the policy of class cooperation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie pursued by international Social Democracy, for that policy robbed the party of its class character, it strengthened the position of the bourgeoisie and weakened and demoralized the proletariat. These revolutionary tactics have nothing in common with the policy of the “lesser evil,” with voting for Hindenburg, with forming a bloc with Bruening; for, in pursuing the policy of the “lesser evil,” Social-Democracy surrendered to the bourgeoisie one proletarian position after the other, it paved the way for fascism, and prepared for the defeat of the proletariat. (Our emphasis).

“Thirty years later, Lenin enlarged on this idea of Engels on the basis of the experience of the three Russian revolutions, and taught the young Communist Parties flexible and mobile tactics that ’would enable them to overcome their ’left-wing’ sickness and to take up the struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie in a really Bolshevik manner. He wrote:

“’To carry on a war for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie, which is a hundred times more difficult, prolonged and complicated than the most stubborn of ordinary wars between states, and to refuse beforehand to maneuver, to utilize the conflict of interests (even though temporary) among one’s enemies, to refuse to temporize and compromise with possible (even though transient, unstable, vacillating and conditional) allies–is not this ridiculous in the extreme?

“’... It is possible to conquer this most powerful enemy only by exerting our efforts to the utmost and by necessarily thoroughly, carefully, attentively and skillfully taking advantage of every ’fissure,’ however small, in the ranks of our enemies, of every antagonism of interests among the bourgeoisie of the various countries, among the various groups or types of bourgeoisie in the various countries; by taking advantage of every opportunity, however small, of gaining an ally among the masses, even though this ally be temporary, vacillating, unstable, unreliable, and conditional. Those who do not understand this do not understand even a grain of Marxism and of scientific modern socialism in general.’ (Lenin, ’Left Wing’ Communism, an Infantile Disorder).

Tested Tactics

“Comrades, if you ponder over these words of Engels and Lenin as applied to our epoch, to the policy which our Congress is now indicating for the ensuing period, you will understand that these tactics, tested by the experience of the whole of the world labor movement during many decades, now create... great opportunities for emerging out of the agitational-propaganda period of our development and for becoming mighty factors in the whole of contemporary political life in the various countries and throughout the world. But it is precisely because we are now entering the broad road of great mass policy, because we are preparing to count, not in hundreds of thousands, but in millions, because we are beginning to bring under our influence those strata which only yesterday were in the ranks of Social-Democracy, or else were outside of politics altogether, because of this, (we) must be particularly alert to possible Right and opportunist distortions of our mass policy, distortions which will retard the growth of our influence among the masses and the growth of the fighting capacity of the proletariat, and thereby retard the maturing of the conditions for the proletarian revolution. (Our emphasis) And here we must once again turn to our teacher Engels and recall the struggle he waged against opportunism, the ruthless, untamable struggle to which he devoted half a century of his life as a political fighter.

“Engels saw right through the petty bourgeois who in scores of different disguises tried to entrench himself in the labor movement, weakening it and disorganizing it. With unerring aim and inimitable sarcasm, Marx and Engels tore the mask from the face of this philistine; they exposed the philistine grimaces beneath the mask of free and easy geniality. This philistine has the right to commit any despicable act because he considers himself to be ’honestly’ despicable. Engels wrote:

“’Even stupidity becomes a virtue because it is the irrefutable evidence of firmness of conviction. Every hidden motive is supported by the conviction of intrinsic honesty, and the more determinedly he plots some kind of deception or petty meanness, the more simple and frank does he appear to be.

“’This philistine is a... drainpipe in which all the contradictions of philosophy, democracy and every description of phrase mongering are mixed up in a monstrous manner.’ (Marx and Engels Archive, Book V).

“While upholding revolutionary Marxism, Engels fiercely attacked German reformists, the French Possibilists, the British Fabians and the Ultra-Lefts. At the same time, with exceptional firmness and patience, he criticized and corrected the opportunist mistakes of the leaders of the proletarian parties such as Wilhelm Liebknecht and Bebel, Lafargue and Guesde.

This tireless struggle against opportunism, and particularly against conciliation with opportunism, caused some of the leaders whom he attacked to dub Engels ’the rudest man in Europe.’ All of as should learn from Engels how to be passionately ’rude’ in the interests of the party, in the interests of the revolution. (Our emphasis)

“No one was so eager to unite the vanguard of the working class in the ranks of a united workers’ party as Engels was. He wanted to do that as much as we want to do it today. But he knew and saw that unity not based on principles would weaken the workingclass. Of what use would a mass party be for the proletariat if it served as a lasso, dragging it into cooperation with the bourgeoisie? (Our emphasis). In 1882 he welcomed the split in the workers’ party in France from Mallone and Bruse who had abandoned the class struggle, had sacrificed the proletarian class character of the movement and had made a rupture inevitable.

“’All the better,’ he said, ’Unity is an excellent thing as long as it is possible, but there are things that are more important than unity.’ (Original emphasis)

I think it is necessary to recall these words of Engels precisely at the present time when here at this Congress we are holding aloft the banner of the political unity of the international working class. (Our emphasis)

Through the medium of Comrade Dimitroff’s report, the Congress has very strongly emphasized its will to fight for a united workers’ party in every country, for a united workers’ world unity of principles and not on the basis of a putrid bloc between petty bourgeois and proletarian elements after the model of the Second International, We would remind the thousands, tens and hundreds of thousands of Social Democratic workers who regard themselves as followers and disciples of Marx and Engels that we and they would be committing a crime against our class if we recreated that fictitious ’unity’ which led to the catastrophe of August 4, 1914, to the bloc between a section of the working class and the bourgeoisie, (Our emphasis) and which, in the last analysis, facilitated the victory of fascism. The working class does not need unity of this kind! We want the unity for which our teacher Friedrich Engels fought all his life; we shall exert every effort to achieve this unity and we shall achieve it.

The “Historical Moment”

“But this unity can be achieved only by a party which by its increasing activities wins the confidence of the masses, by a party which overcomes schematism and vulgarization in its approach to the mass movement. It is for such a party that Engels fought. He ruthlessly scourged passivity and inactivity as among the most pernicious forms of opportunism. In his correspondence with the workers’ leaders he tirelessly repeated: the Party must act under all circumstances. It must participate in the whole of the political life of the country and take advantage of every event in home and foreign politics for active intervention; it must be with the masses everywhere and always, at the opportune moment it must issue real fighting slogans that shall emanate from the masses themselves, and it must issue new ones as the movement grows. This is the main tactical rule for the proletarian party upon which Engels insisted.

“...Engels was particularly sharp in his attacks upon those parties who failed to be on the spot at decisive moments of the mass struggle. In this connection Engels quite openly said that the party which misses such a decisive moment, which fails to intervene, will be dead and buried for some time.” (Our emphasis) Manuilsky: Engels In the Struggle for Revolutionary Marxism.