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Kurt Landau

The Leninbund on the Wrong Road

(November 1929)

Throughout the World of Labor, The Militant, Vol. III No. 1, 4 January 1930, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Eindeby Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The misfortune of the Leninbund consists in the fact that it wants to play the role of an independent party when in reality it is only a weak faction. I do not doubt for an instant that if you persist in the present way, you will lead the organization to a catastrophe in a few months.
– Letter of comrade Trotsky to the leadership of the Leninbund, October 13, 1929.

Eighteen months ago the Leninbund received 40,000 workers’ votes in Prussia, 8,374 of them in Berlin alone. During these eighteen months it has not been able to consolidate the positions gained, extend its influence into new fields and thus strengthen its ranks. For some time, comrades have tried to demonstrate that the absence of a clear political line, the perpetual floating between Korsch and Brandler could have nothing but disastrous consequences for the Leninbund. The facts have justified their predictions. At the last municipal elections, the Leninbund lost more than half the votes it had in 1928. In Berlin, where its paper, Volkswille, appears, it fell from 8,374 votes to 3,784.

The comrades of the minority asked that lists of candidates should not be presented everywhere, on principle – which would be the act of a second party – but that we should limit ourselves to presenting them only in those places where we have a strong position and where we represent the party in the mind of the masses. That is the case at Neuisenburg, for example, where we were not only able to get all the Communist votes, but even to carry four mandates from the social democrats. That is a real success. Unfortunately, at other points in the Reich, the act of presenting candidates served the social democracy and thereby discredited communism in the eyes of the masses.

The presentation of independent tickets at all costs and on principle was serious enough, but the methods employed in the electoral campaign were often such as could only make the Leninbund ridiculous. One of the members of the national committee did not hesitate to issue a leaflet which is a model of opportunism and could be claimed by any sort of social democrat at all.

These are the manifestations of an extremely grave nature, which must engage the attention of all the members of the Leninbund if they wish to hold back their organization from the dangerous declivity down which it is slipping.

The masses still have reformist illusions that must be taken into account. It is precisely a question of carrying out a policy which in the hard daily struggle, leads the masses by means of their own experience to the limits of democracy and proves to them practically that only the over-stepping of bourgeois democracy by revolutionary action can really improve their situation.

Instead of undertaking this serious and fruitful work, it is imagined that these illusions can be destroyed by decrees and hollow phrases which are based on no concrete experience. That is how the working class is left without direction in the decisive moments and lives without being capable of drawing any profit from events, as was the case in Germany in October, 1923, at the last First of May, and as is the case at present in Austria.

On November 30, the congress of the revolutionary elements who form the trade union opposition, was held in Berlin. The representatives of the opposition existing in a certain number of trade unions, those of the red factory councils, and those of the unemployed, assembled to deliberate on the organization of a vast front of defense against the offensive of capital.

The reformists are attacking this congress ferociously, and particularly the Communist Party of Germany which they denounce, as “the organizer of the trade union split”. But all the revolutionary workers will support this initiative, for the congress can give a new and powerful impetus to the exploited masses on the condition, it is understood, that it is conscious of its tasks, that it appreciates correctly the situation in Germany and that it elaborates a program of revolutionary struggle capable of drawing the workers together and assuring their defense.

It is to be feared, unfortunately, that the German Communist Party is failing once more in its role and does not know how to give effective aid to the assembled delegates. On the eve of the congress it had done nothing, studied nothing and prepared nothing serious.

What will it bring to the congress in order to group together the millions of German proletarians into a powerful front of defense? Everything indicates that it will seek to cover the absence of a maturely considered policy by the customary petty methods concerning organization exclusively: they will speak of creating new committees! And they will repeat the mistakes that hare so often been committed. What account will the central committee of the German Communist Party take of the systematic splitting offensive of the reformists? Continue to allow itself to be isolated until there is no longer a single Communist left in the trade unions? Until the reformists will have succeeded, without even having to fight, in demoralizing the millions of trade union workers?

And how does the party think of acting practically in order to lead the enormous mass of unemployed workers into the struggle, so as to avoid that misery does not discourage them and throw them into the arms of fascism? It is hardly permitted to hope that the present leadership will show itself capable of tackling these problems seriously.

Finally, it is inconceivable that the Leninbund, which wants to be and should be the organization of the Communist advance guard, has not yet taken a position towards this congress, that it makes no efforts to send delegates to it, and does not occupy itself with problems that it has to solve.

Berlin, November 29, 1929


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