From New International, Vol. I No. 2, August 1934, p. 60.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
THE problem of organic unity stands before us again in France. It is no longer the PUP [Party of Proletarian Unity] alone, sheltering the miserable appetites of an electoral arrivism under this promising demand; it is the two parties speaking for the working class which declare openly that their division is an obstacle to the proletarian struggle, who recommend the creation of a single party which Thorez [CP leader] calls the “decisive weapon of the laboring masses”.
The sincerity of a certain number of the leaders of the French section of the Labor International and the French section of the Communist International, seems to us, on this question, to be well debatable, the wish to manœuvre of certain of them is obvious; in any case, the fact is there: these two parties with two different phraseologies affirm their respective inexistence as parties of the proletarian victory. The will to unity of the masses is intervening in this evolution of the two formations with the same weight that it intervened for the realization of the united front; its aspiration is an expression of how limited is the confidence of the masses in the existing parties, “unity” is in a confused way for the masses “that other party” which it needs in order to triumph.
Those who have followed the evolution of the Internationals and the parties in the last ten years, who have participated in the regrouping of a Marxian vanguard, draw from this avowal of impotence on the part of the French sections of the Second and Third Internationals, the justification for their struggle for a new party, a new International. To be sure, they survey the road traveled since Tours.  The party which was to express and realize the historic will of the proletariat made the first steps at Tours, the degeneration of the CI – (not consequent upon the principles of its formation, Doriot, but upon the abandonment of these principles, an abandonment whose champion you were more than once in China and elsewhere) – has deprived the French Communist Party of its development as such, has reduced its attractive capacity and its role, has permitted the Socialist Party to survive its bankruptcy of 1914, solemnly registered at Tours, to rally strata of young: workers who have their experience to go through, evolving rapidly towards consistent fighting positions and now compelling their leaders to submit to this evolution.
The Communist International has left without revolutionary leadership broad sections of workers of whom the most conscious part, under the blow of Hitlerite Fascism, has confusedly understood the error; of the Second and Third Internationals in Germany. This pressure is one if the decisive causes of the turn of the SP and CP towards the united front; it is the distrust of the masses for these parties which constrains them, in large measure, to a gleaming hope for a Single party (I write: one of the causes, the foreign and domestic policy of the USSR being another factor which it will be fitting to examine).
Thus does the debate for organic unity become the debate for a new party, a new International which is not to be the totalization of the mistakes, but whose programmatic basis is the expression of the understanding of these mistakes. It is not progress as compared with Tours, nor with the conference of the two Internationals in Berlin in 1923, but it may be the end of the blind alley in which the French labor movement has been for all the years of the degeneration of the CI. It is the road opened to a broad regrouping on a basis which must be precise and in the course of which our program will find living contacts with the masses. Of course, in this debate, in this battle, the conservative currents of the two parties will try to transform the organic unity into a “last intrenchment”, but this will to organic unity does not come from their brains, it is the function of a profound evolution of the working class strata in an unprecedented economic, social and political crisis, and the regroupings will take place not according to the pattern of a bureaucrats’ mutual protective association but according to the capacities and the progress of a revolutionary vanguard expressing the true interests of the proletariat.
To declare, as does the present majority of our Central Committee in the article Towards Organic Unity?, that it is necessary to denounce organic unity and to remain independent in principle even if it is realized, is to substitute for the necessity of the Bolsheviks being connected with the working masses, following their evolution step by step, facilitating the development of their experience – A JOURNALISTIC ULTIMATUM. It means also a failure to understand that our present weakness is one of the causes why the question of the new party is being posed by way of the question of organic unity. If our connections in the working class were different, we would have been able to play the role of decisive attractive pole: not to understand this, is obviously to change nothing and, by means of a splendid isolation, to promote the manœuvre of the bureaucracies to limit the organic unity to a mutual protective association.
The political evolution of the masses is realized in action: this evolution can be immediately negative or positive for the broad masses. A united front of inaction can create profound disillusionment as to the proletariat’s capacity to struggle, a confused and impotent organic unity can ruin for a long time to come the very idea of a party. The masses develop rapidly in such periods as these; a disillusionment does not impel the whole of them towards the Marxist core which “awaits them”; a defeat produces an ebb-tide ... In France, the ebb-tide would mean the passage of the petty bourgeois and the watchfully waiting peasant strata towards Fascism, the beginning of darkness for a whole period in Europe and the world.
By this token, the present hours are decisive ones. Our task consists in giving the aspiration towards organic unity a genuinely propulsive content. A whole period of the labor movement is at a close, the one in which the organic unity meant the dissolution of the revolutionary party into the reactionary party. THE REVOLUTIONARY CLASS PARTY NO LONGER EXISTS. We are faced with formations of a Centrist character having different origins. We must conduct the struggle for organic unity with intransigeance, in order that this slogan of unity shall not be a synonym for a manœuvre in which the hope of the masses would be led astray.
Organic unity is to us a synonym for a new congress of Tours where, after the experience and the blows of history, all those who want to smash capitalism would assemble again in a single party.
1. At its Tours congress in 1921, the French Socialist Party affiliated with the Communist International by majority vote, thus founding the Communist Party of France. The minority retained the old name. – Ed.
Last updated on 25 February 2016