French Communist Party 1931

Elections in the Party!

Source: Cahiers du Bolchevisme, 6th year, #13, November 1, 1931;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

In a resolution published October 11 in L'Humanité the Political Bureau has fixed as an immediate task the election of party leadership, starting with the cells.

This is not a matter of a simple administrative formality, but of an extremely important political act. What have we most times seen over the last period? Cell leadership designated without a serious vote, without discussion; certain comrades taking the head of the cell the same way we accept a punishment, without clearly seeing the political responsibility attached to their functions.

As for section and sub-section committees, numerous are the cases of comrades called to these committees without a regular conference vote at either the section or sub-section levels.

Such more or less arbitrarily constituted leadership cannot have the confidence of the comrades. Often in this or that sub-section or section no one knows the comrades who make up the leadership. These comrades cannot have the authority of Party leaders

A typical example of the mechanical constitution of the leadership of the Party can be seen in the Paris region of the Young Communists. At the current time, among the members of the regional committee there is only one comrade who was regularly elected by a regional conference. The others were co-opted. Changes were made in the leading personnel of the regional committee without the base having been called upon to give its point of view.

Such methods, which lead to a dangerous lack of confidence and to political irresponsibility must be changed, for a leadership which has not obtained a mandate from the base abandons, by the force of things, any rendering of accounts of its activities. Political control is not exercised and a malaise develops in the Party and in the Young Communists.

We have an example of the election of the leadership of a cell. It’s the cell of the garage on the Rue Lourmel in Paris. In that cell the leadership had a sectarian attitude that was publicly denounced in articles by Thorez. Discussion was opened in the cell, those comrades who had been long mute said what was on their minds, and those sympathizers satisfied with the new atmosphere created in the cell joined the Party. Nineteen new members were signed up in one evening.

The question of the leadership of the cell was posed, and even more quickly because it had gone down to the cell level, and in the “Vie du Parti” in L'Humanité of October 22 the details are given of the election of a cell bureau of five members.

This first example shows the route to be followed: Discuss in the cells. Investigate the political problems posed before the Party, examine all the weaknesses of the cell in its mass work. In conclusion, fix a work plan discussed by all members of the cell and then, in order to lead the work, elect cell leadership: this is how to proceed.

Conferences will be held by sections almost everywhere. Before these conferences are held we should fix as an objective the election of bureaus in the cells.

Such a method will permit us to bring out cadres for the party, to bring new elements to leadership tasks, to develop them and break with the kind of leadership monopoly that groups of comrades had practically realized in many Party organizations.

This is also a means of breaking those ‘coteries’ that hinder the attracting of the forces of the Party to leadership positions and for the growing among the leadership of the sense of political responsibility, and at the same time among the members the sense of control of the leaders and a better concept of discipline.

We will have the occasion to return to this subject and in order to have the whole Party profit from lived experiences. We ask that the examples of elections of leadership be widely popularized in the Party press, not only in our central organ, but in the regional press.

– Jacques Duclos