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In Germany

The “New Turn” in the C.I.

(June 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 22, 7 June 1930, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

BERLIN – In conformity with the new course decreed by the Stalinist leadership after the 15th o£ March the presidium of the Executive Committee has ordered a general turn in all sections of tho Communist International.

The new turn cast its shadow before it a while ago. It was announced in the speech of Manuilsky last November during the sessions of the Young Communist International. During the course of his speech Manuilsky attacked with extreme violence the Central Committee of the Austrian Communist Party which he reproached with having “sectarian conceptions’’ for having spoken of an imminent revolutionary situation at the time of the aggravation of the Austrian crisis, and for having played with insurrection. He thus exposed the thoroughly opportunist character of the new turn.

For it was the leading bodies of the Comintern, with the German C.P. Central at its head which had simply thrown the leadership of the Austrian C.P. into the “fever of insurrection”. The Constance conference of September 18, 1929, declared that “today the question of the seizure of power presents itself in Austria” and Remmele declared at a meeting of the Central Committee of the German Communist Party, at which were present members of the Austrian Central Committee, that it was not sufficient to propagate the idea of Soviets but it was now necessary to set about realizing them.

The Real Responsibility

The Left Opposition rose up against this playing with insurrection and showed that the Party had already let slip a decisive occasion when it neglected to mobilize the masses against the repressive regime of Schober; nevertheless it was denounced as “defeatist” and its slogan – the creation of defense committees in all factories against the threatening fascism – was nor even given a hearing.

The hopeless bankruptcy of the “Left” Stalinist course was revealed in all its tragico-comic aspects last fall in Austria, The cowardly and pitiful retreat of the theoreticians of adventurism, of the Third Period inventors, before the political conclusions of their slogans and their theories in the Austrian crises clearly portrays the character or rather lack of character of the new turn.

Without appearing to do so, Manuilsky in his report set out to outline a new interpretation of the “Third Period”. Until quite recently it was the period of “violent revolutionary upsurge”, of the imminent collapse of stabilization; now, however, the maturing of a world economic crisis is very modestly announced and the phenomena of the crisis coming to light in the various countries are examined. “It is not yet the finish of stabilization that approaches, but only the beginning of the decomposition, for the collapse of capitalist stabilization would mean the collapse of the capitalist system, that is, the birth of an objectively revolutionary situation in the capitalist countries”; that is what Manuilsky announced while the Berlin Rote Fahne spoke, since February 1st ,of the capitalist collapse that is developing at a “breath-taking pace”.

But isn’t such a “re-interpretation” made to reveal the whole stupidity of the theory of the Third Period? Does not the whole strategy outlined by the Sixth Congress threaten to give way under this weak attempt made at revision behind the back of the Party? And does not the collapse of the theoretical and strategical basis of the “Left” Stalinist course threaten to shake the authority of the all-powerful apparatus of the C.I.? The fear of seeing these questions posed openly absolutely dominates the exemplary bureaucrat in the first and timid attempt at revision. And that is why Manuilsky swiftly throws a morsel to the astonished members of the Communist Party; he declares that the “growing revolutionary upsurge has already mounted a degree”.

These contradictions in Manuilsky’s speech are only the reflection of the contradictions of Centrist policy in general. Each attempt to correct itself must be paid for by the “deepening” of its past errors; in this manner, Centrism more and more prepares the ground for avowed opportunism and favors the development of adventurism and openly Right wing tendencies.

The Turn à la Thaelmann and Co.

The most perfect picture of internal contradictions, of half-measures and of the most dangerous opportunism is furnished us by the turn affected in Germany at this moment by Thaelmann, Neumann and Remmele. The resolution adopted at the meeting of the C.C. of the C.P.G. on March 20 and 21 declares that “all the recent events prove that the revolutionary upsurge, in spite of its unequal developments is rising upwards as before ...”

And in the name of the revolutionary upsurge, the resolution of the C.C. demands “a strong consolidation of the struggle against social-fascism”.

Now, the “strong consolidation” consists in the fact that the C.C. suddenly discovers the difference between the social democratic workers and their counter-revolutionary chiefs. At the same time, the resolution attacks the “Leftist sectarianism” and declares that the “fraction work has considerably diminished lately in the reformist and Christian unions.”

And still at the same time, the C.C. declares that “the existing revolutionary unions must be strengthened in the most energetic manner”.

Rarely has a leadership tried in a more cowardly and disgusting manner to wash its hands of its mistakes behind the backs of its adherents. It is at last discovered that “the theory of the little Zoergiebel” (according to which the simple social democratic worker is a “class enemy”) belongs to the realm of absolute cretinism. This discovery is masked by the slogan of the “consolidation of the struggle against social-fascism”.

The need for working within the free trade unions (social democratic), to which more than 5,000,000 workers belong, can no longer be evaded. But to conceal the recognition of this necessity, the work is made equivalent to that done in the Christian trade unions and at the same time “the most, energetic strengthening of the revolutionary trade unions” is demanded.

Effects of the Turn

This cowardly right-about-face of the Party bureaucracy which, within 24 hours, tramples underfoot what it still proclaimed to be patented Bolshevism yesterday, has had various effects in the Party. A part of the apparatus, specialists sworn to the struggle against social fascism, has responded to the turn by an apparatus rebellion. At the head of this “apparatus rebellion” is the trade union strategist, Paul Merker, member of the Political Bureau and the Central Committee. Among the members of the C.P. there is above all, an extreme agitation. The rebellion of Merker has found substantial support in the Central Region (Berlin). The Party functionaries, by 70 votes against 7, have rejected the new “turn”, and demanded the exclusion of Remmele and Heinz Neumann from the C.C. It is a typical trait of the hypocrisy of the leadership that it now tries to convince the militants that the manifestation of the ultra-Leftist Merker group is ... “a resurrection of vanquished Trotskyism”. And this after having declared for years that the Trotskyists and the Right wing were identical! The leadership of the Party will not succeed in unloading its faults, and the responsibility for the line it defended up to now, upon the Merker group. It will succeed still less in putting into the same bag the real Left of the Party and the ultra-Leftist Merker group.

The Left Opposition which has been fighting for years the erroneous course of Stalin and Thaelmann, now fortified by the unification of the Left Opposition that took place on March 31, will fight more vigorously than ever in the Party in order to win to the ideas of the International Opposition the most advanced elements of the Party.

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