Comintern History (France) December 1920

French Socialist Party to Join the III International

First published: in l'Humanité;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

In December of 1920 the French Socialist Party held a congress in Tours to decide the question of whether or not to join the Communist International. Supported by Marcel Cachin and L.- O. Frossard, and opposed by old-time leader Jules Guesde and the former Dreyfusard and future head of the Popular Front government Léon Blum, the Congress voted overwhelmingly to support entry into the Comintern. L'Humanité, the newspaper founded by Jean Jaurès, and which now became the official organ of the PCF, carried the following account.

Violence is often nothing but the most obvious sign of strong and sincere convictions. So if bourgeois newspapers delight in publishing this morning that “violent incidents” marked yesterday’s meeting of the congress, we have nothing to be surprised about. It’s not in the serenity of academies or tribunals that the destiny of the revolutionary proletariat is decided: it is in the fever and tumult of action.

By 3,252 votes out of 4,763 — a majority of more than two thirds — the Congress of Tours voted for the membership of the Socialist Party in the Communist International. Our emotion is great in writing these lines. At long last French socialism is publicly and solemnly breaking with the out of date traditions of the Second International; with the humiliated, as well as humiliating routine of a purely electoral, purely parliamentary socialism which, under the pressure of historical circumstances, ended up by reducing revolutionary Marxism, which they claimed to be inspired by, to the role of a “king who rules but doesn’t govern.”

The Second International has been dead for a long time — dead since August 4, 1914 — four days after Jaurès. Alas, it was one of those dead who have to be killed. Take off your hat for its remains as they pass by. Let us pledge ourselves to the immense obligation we have assumed to the coming revolution in joining the Communist International.