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The Elections to the Factory Councils in Germany

(March 1930)

Throughout the World of Labor, The Militant, Vol. III No. 16, 19 April 1930, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Berlin, March, 1930

The elections to the factory councils have begun. The results already known fully confirm our previous prognostications. In many shops where the Party put forward red lists for the first time, it met with appreciable success. But where it recorded dazzling victories last year, and [as a consequence] it should at present realize the expectations and hopes of the workers, there does it suffer defeats which are sometimes disastrous. Let us take, for example, the case of the Berlin Transport Organizations where on the 15th of March the elections to the factory councils for 1930 took place. They were a heavy defeat for the Party. Against 10,797 votes in 1929 it obtained but 6,317, whereas the trade unions leaped from 6,934 (1929), to 10,146 votes.

The results of the elections to the factory councils in the red factory of Leuma, which has, with good reason, until now, passed for a stronghold of communism, are almost as catastrophic. Here the party dropped from 9,256 in 1929 to 4,763 votes, whereas the trade union list which had received 5,914 in 1929 attained 5,093, thus recording but a slight loss; the decrease in the number of workers evidenced itself almost exclusively by the decrease of Communist votes; whereas the fascist lists gained 500 votes.

These results are all the more alarming in that they refute in a very definite manner the theory of “unceasing revolutionary advances”. But this is not all. The figures in these elections should not be considered alone; in relation to the figures of the syndicalist movement they characterize the fundamental processes which are taking place among the masses.

The Party Fails to Lead

Despite the rapidly increasing unemployment comprising more than three million workers, the number of trade-union adherents is constantly growing ...

This turn does not at all signify that the evolution of the masses toward the Left (which we have already noted on several occasions) is now moving backwards. On the contrary, this turn proves once again, still more conclusively, that the degree of maturity of the leftward evolution is quite different from the appreciation of the role of the Party. The gathering of hundreds of thousands of workers around the trade unions characterizes the initial stage in the Leftward development, the very first form of class-consciousness – the consciousness of the necessity for class organization.

If, during the past two years, when these processes become more and more distinct, the Party leadership had known how to follow a Bolshevist course, we would have today a mass Party, measured not by election figures but by its capacity for action. Instead of forming a strong Left wing in the trade unions, and gathering – without regard to the question of parties – the conscious elements into an organized minority on the basis of the class struggle, the leadership, by its lamentable oscillations, has led the Party into a state of extreme confusion.

Under these conditions the Leftward push, expressing itself through the influx into the trade unions, has resulted at the same time in a weakening of the Party and its capacity for action. Moreover, it is becoming more evident from day to day that the masses no longer have any confidence in the program of the socialist party. Dozens of Communist functionaries, determined opponents of social-democracy, have been expelled from the Party, but have refused to let themselves be pushed out of the trade unions, by obeying the Party which gave them childish and stupid orders.

The Left Is Assembling Its Forces

Up to the present, the Right wing only has benefited from the growing dissatisfaction in the Party, but during the immediate past, significant symptoms have appeared: new oppositions are forming within the Party (especially in reaction to its trade union policies), which absolutely refuse to unite with the Right wing.

The first attempts of the real Left wing in the Party to reassemble once more, to free themselves from the traditions of the past and to adopt a new orientation on the trade union question, provoked commotions in the Right wing. In their daily Die Arbeiterpolitik of March 13th, they make a strong bid for a rapproachment with the supporters of the International Left Opposition who are still in the Party – the Wedding and the Palatinate Oppositions. They give themselves tip to the vain hope that, some day there will be a common struggle of the Right and Left against the Center.

The final developments will be a bitter pill for them. The Left which is regrouping itself once again, will in the future fight the Right as bitterly as it has in the past.

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