French Communist Party 1932
Source: Cahiers du Bolchevisme, 7th year, No. 9, May 1, 1932;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2005.
The tactic of class against class defined by our VIIth Congress and tested in France during four years of economic or political struggles will be firmly applied by the whole of the Party during the course of this electoral campaign. The responsible organisms of the Party, from the cells up to the Political Bureau, will be on the alert so that there nowhere re-occur the defections and compromises with the Socialist, or even the Radical, Party, as occurred in certain regions in 1928. At that time some militants from the base who called for our stepping-aside in favor of Socialists during the second round of voting, or the abandonment of the campaign after the first round, could at least argue for the novelty of a tactic they hadn’t had the time to assimilate. Today such is not the case. Our Party will unanimously reject any solicitation for this electoral bloc with the Socialist Party, which is in reality the stepping aside from or the abandoning of the struggle during the second round.
During its electoral campaign our Party must be on the alert so as not to fall into the error where right opportunism allies itself with the most narrow-minded sectarianism, and which has already manifested itself in certain places since the beginning of the campaign, and whose principal aspects are a disdain for recruitment during the campaign, the incapacity to attract and definitively attach to the Party the hundreds of thousands of workers and working peasants who are actively working at the organization of the Party’s campaign and, finally, a bad, non-fraternal attitude vis-ŕ-vis Socialist or Socialist-leaning workers, who are too often confused with the chiefs and cadres of the Socialist Party. It must once again be repeated that far from being a sectarian tactic, our tactic of class against class, which prohibits any electoral bloc in any form with the Socialist Party, supposes and signifies a united front at the base with Socialist workers. A brandished fist against the Socialist Party, principal support of the bourgeoisie, and an outstretched hand to the workers abused by that party.
Yet up until today, April 25, we have seen that the efforts made by the base organizations of the Party to realize the united front of Communist and Socialist workers are still very weak. The central organisms of the Party have given the necessary directives and materials, but the practical application at the base is not yet sufficient.
One can note facts that are interesting, to be sure, but are still isolated, localized, and too infrequent, almost solely in the Paris region, of work among Socialist workers. The example of the Socialist section of Goussainville (Seine-et-Oise), where fifteen workers of the Socialist section, the secretary at their head, publicly declared their recognition of the Communist Party as the only party of the proletariat, is the most typical. This example must be popularized among the workers, and particularly among the Socialist workers, in order to arrive at generalizing it.
But this is not enough. Above all, every member of the Party, every active sympathizer, must understand that the class united front does not happen on its own, spontaneously. In order to conquer the Socialist workers, to tear them from the grip of the reactionary discipline of their party during the electoral campaign, we must seriously carry out our agitational and organizational work. The example of the glorious strike of the textile workers of Vienne shows in an up to date and striking way what the class united front must be; united front of the exploited of all tendencies, without distinction as to age or sex or nationality, under the direction of the Communist Party, against the bourgeois and Socialist exploiters supported by the bourgeois state apparatus and the Socialist Party. It is the best possible illustration of our agitation for the class united front. Socialist workers and those who are Socialist- leaning are as exploited as Communist workers, and suffer under the same blows of the crisis and unemployment. The objective current conditions are very favorable for convincing Socialist workers to fight in common with their Communist brothers against the bourgeoisie and its principal supporter, the Socialist Party. In fact, they are witnessing the failure of all the lying prophecies of their chiefs on the “benefits of capitalist rationalization,” on “peace under a capitalist regime,” etc. The hate-filled campaign of their chiefs against the Soviet Union, the land of socialism under construction, the only country without unemployment or a crisis, is provoking a movement of revolt among them. The militaristic policies of their party with its Renaudels, and its Charles Barons, the openly imperialist attitude of the Socialist on leave Paul-Boncour, avowed agent of Tardieu and the French financial oligarchy, and a mass of other facts trouble those workers who are sincerely socialist. We have all the facts we need to foil the plan of the bourgeoisie, which consists in “inflating” the Socialist Party, in designating it as the “enemy” of capital in order to fool the workers, to channel their class struggle into the so-called Socialist opposition. Finally, by analyzing in a popular way the program of “the exercise of power” or “participation in power” developed by Blum in Narbonne, and taken up unanimously by the “left-wing” Zyromski as well as by the “right-wingers” Renaudel and Marquet, we also have the facts needed to dissipate the mirage of the benefits that will be brought about by a bourgeois government composed of Socialists or supported by them.
The objective situation has never before so pushed the Socialist chiefs down the openly reactionary path at the same time as it pushes the Socialist workers onto the path of revolutionary struggle. This is the material, objective basis for our entire tactic of a class against class united front. The weakness of our tactics can only be imputed to our weak work at its application at the base, to the superficial work of our organizations
Nevertheless, the correct application of the tactic of united front at the base is largely facilitated by the elaboration of the concrete program of demands of our Party. Up till now, in no election have we been armed in so precise a fashion. Our program of immediate demands must obviously be ceaselessly tied to our general program, from which it logically flows. But we must never forget that in our work for the conquest of the masses, and particularly of Socialist workers, our point of departure must be our immediate demands; we must approach the masses by this means in order to little by little convince them of the absolute correctness of our entire program. It is for this reason that the part of our program entitled “Program of Immediate Demands” has a primordial importance in our work for the conquest of Socialist workers. It constitutes out platform of the united front and should be presented in those forms most accessible to the masses.
This is why the Party has elaborated a list of the ten most urgent demands: “What do the Communists Want?,” on the basis of which we ask Socialist and non-party workers to realize the unity in struggle of the working class.
This unity been more urgently needed than today, at a moment when 100,000 Japanese troops are massed along the far eastern border of the Soviet Union, where all is in readiness for war in Romania, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, where the unleashing of the most formidable of aggressions against the USSR depends only on the “success” of one of those provocations that French imperialism and its Japanese ally daily foment and which our brothers, the workers of the USSR, have been able to foil up to now.
United front of struggle, the only means to victoriously obtain the demands of the workers, the working and small peasants, the only means of effectively fighting against the imminent threat of the most terrible of wars: such must be the leitmotif of all our local and union meetings, of our street demonstrations, of our agitational and propaganda materials. Every single demonstration, every single act of our Party during and after the electoral campaign must ensure the penetration among the great masses – whose political interest is redoubled during electoral periods – the idea of the immediate realization of the united front of struggle for the defense of the USSR, the immediate withdrawal of French troops and warships from the far east, for the mass struggle against the transporting of arms and munitions, for the defense of the demands of soldiers, sailors, and reservists.
As our VIIth Congress has already explained, from the point of view of our electoral tactics it is only on the basis of the realization of such a united front that stepping aside in the second round can be envisaged in the name of a worker who has publicly broken with the criminal policies of the Socialist party.
But this particular tactic is nothing but a secondary aspect, a simple possible consequence on the electoral level, of the true, practical, living realization of the united front at the base. It would be the greatest of errors to only consider the realization of the united front in that particular aspect. The united front should above all be realized by the gathering together of the mass of workers and working peasants of all tendencies, Socialists in particular, in committees of B.O.P. [Bloc ouvrier-paysan – Worker-Peasant Bloc] constituted locally and by factory. It is on this path that all the organizations of the Party should develop their energy, their initiative, starting today, both before and after the first round of voting.
It is estimated that there were 200,000 sympathizers who worked for the Party actively and with the greatest devotion during the electoral campaign of 1928. Today they are certainly more numerous. They are made up not only of voters, but of young people, of women, of foreign and colonial workers whose conquest is particularly precious. Not a one of these comrades should distance himself from the Party after the electoral campaign. We should not commit again the error made in 1928. The B.O.P. committees should not disappear after the electoral campaign; they should be preserved in a form appropriate to local conditions or concrete factories, particularly in the form of committees for the fight against war and for the defense of the USSR, committees for the defense of l'Humanité, etc.
By placing at the center of our entire campaign the tactic of a class against class united front we will mobilize the masses for the urgent, bitter struggle against imperialist war, for the defense of the USSR, for peace, for a revolutionary solution to the crisis. This should be the principal result of the electoral campaign of our Party.