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The Programme of the POUM in 1936


This programme seems strangely divorced from the actual practice of the POUM which took part in the elections of February 1936 on the Popular Front slate, but its careful omission of the need for a Fourth International (point seven) and its remarks about ‘a democratic socialist type’ of revolution shows that it is far from being a Marxist one. It appeared in What the Workers Party of Marxist Unification is – And What it Wants, by the executive committee of the POUM, Barcelona 1936, pp.7-9.

The Problem of Marxist Unity

Unfortunately the great revolutionary socialist party which the revolution needs does not yet exist in Spain ...

Neither is the Spanish Communist Party our revolution’s Bolshevik Party. As an official section of the Communist International subject to the fluctuations of the foreign policy of the Soviet state, it is obliged to act, not according to the needs of the revolutionary movement in our country, but with the needs of Soviet diplomacy which are frequently contradictory ...

The Workers Party of Marxist Unification, the product of the fusion of the Workers and Peasants Bloc and the Communist Left, believes that it isn’t possible to work towards the entry of all Marxists in an already existing party. The problem isn’t one of entry or absorption but of revolutionary Marxist unity. It’s necessary to form a new party through revolutionary Marxist fusion.

The Workers Party believes that the basic agreements for the achievement of revolutionary Marxist unity are these:

First: The Spanish revolution is of a democratic socialist type. The dilemma is socialism or fascism. The working class will not take power peacefully but through armed insurrection.

Second: Once power is achieved there will be a transitional dictatorship of the proletariat. The organs of power will be the Workers’ Alliances. The dictatorship of the proletariat presupposes the most wide and complete workers’ democracy. The revolutionary party should not and cannot smother workers’ democracy.

Third: The need for the Workers’ Alliance both locally and nationally. The Workers’ Alliance must necessarily pass through three phases: Firstly, as the organ of the United Front leading both defensive and offensive, legal and illegal actions. Second, leader of insurrection; and thirdly, instrument of power.

Fourth: Recognition of the problem of the nationalities. Spain will become an Iberian Union of Socialist Republics.

Fifth: In the first period a democratic solution to the land problem. The land for those who work it.

Sixth: Faced with war the transformation of imperialist war into civil war. No confidence in the League of Nations which is imperialism’s United Front.

Seventh: The united party will remain outside the Second and Third Internationals, which have both failed, and will fight for world revolutionary socialist unity built on new bases.

Eighth: Defence of the USSR but not by support for its policy of pacts with the capitalist countries, but through international revolutionary working class action. The right to criticise those politics of the USSR’s leaders which are counterproductive to the march of world revolution.

Ninth: A permanent regime of democratic centralism in the unified party.

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Last updated on 30.12.2002