Red International of Labor Unions

Problems of Strike Strategy

Decisions of the International Conference on Strike Strategy

Held in Strassburg, Germany, January, 1929

Decisions of the International Conference on Strike Strategy


The tremendous economic conflicts and battles which have occurred since the IV Congress of the Profintern in a number of countries—Germany, Poland, France, Greece, etc., involving tens and hundreds of thousands of workers, has unquestionably confirmed not only the correctness of the economic and political analysis made by the congress with respect to the leading capitalist countries, but also the correctness of the strike strategy and tactics outlined by it.

From the very moment of inception, and in some cases, during the process of development, these strikes and lockouts were marked first, by their mass and political character, and second, by the definite manifestation of elements of offensive and counter-offensive on the part of the workers.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that with intensified rationalization, the growing capitalist offensive and the increasing activity of the toiling masses, we now find ourselves at the beginning of a growing movement of political and economic clashes between labor and capital. And it is also certain that only real, revolutionary leadership can insure the successful outcome of these battles. These conditions make it imperative upon the adherents of the R.I.L.U. to bend every effort to wrest leadership out of the hands of the treacherous labor fakers and to take upon ourselves independent leadership in economic struggles.

Among the many difficult and intricate obstacles confronting the revolutionary trade unions and the adherents of the Profintern, it is most imperative to overcome the opportunist tendencies of the less stable elements in our own ranks who have fallen under the influence of the reformists. These opportunist tendencies are expressed in trade union legality (fear of violating the constitution, obedience to the orders of the reformist bureaucrats, etc.,) in falling behind the masses, in the underestimation of the militancy of the masses, in an inadequate understanding of the connections existing between the economic and political struggles. These opportunist mistakes very sharply manifested themselves during huge economic conflicts, when it was necessary to use the utmost exertion, endurance, flexibility and the ability to apply the revolutionary tactics laid down by the IV Congress. All wavering and vacillation in our own ranks must be most drastically and decisively eradicated at once.

One of the weakest points in the work of the revolutionary trade unions and the trade union opposition, is the inadequate study of the experiences gained in the struggle. The strike wave of even the last few months has rendered a wealth of material which must be well utilized in the approaching struggles. The fight for independent leadership in economic conflicts, is steadily becoming more and more of a general phenomena in face of the continued, brazen strikebreaking role of the reformist trade union bureaucracy. However, the forms and methods of the struggle change, depending upon the specific conditions of a given industry, the relationship of forces in the working class, etc.

How shall this struggle be carried on? What instruments must be created? How is the offensive of the bosses and the reformists to be paralyzed in the process of the struggle? How are the unorganized, the women and the young workers to be drawn into the struggle? How is the whole working class to be mobilized to aid the workers? Such are the questions confronting every participant and leader of present day economic struggles. And here the experiences in Lodz would have been very beneficial to Germany and France. The experiences in France might have been useful in Germany, and the German experiences might have been of benefit to other countries. We do not sufficiently study the lessons of how and what has been done. Frequently, we apply tactics as of old, and we improvise even in such cases where experience has already proven the successful application of some form, of some method of struggle.

That is why it is the task of the adherents of the Profintern to most carefully study every economic conflict. We must learn to overcome all the difficulties in our path. We must sanely judge our weaknesses and shortcomings. Only on the basis of a detailed analysis of the positive and negative experiences of past economic conflicts can we take an important step forward in preparing our own ranks and the whole working class for the threatening class battles between labor and capital.

Next: Preparing the Masses for Strikes and Lockouts