Maurice Thorez 1934
Source: Cahiers du Bolchevisme, 11th year, no. 12, June 15, 1934;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.
The National Congress of the Party will be held in a few days. One question alone is on the agenda: the organization of the united front of anti-fascist struggle.
Above all the Communist Party intends to serve the cause of working-class unity. The National Conference will permit the intensification of the Communist’s unitary efforts. It will contribute to the reinforcement of the desire for unity, the essential force opposed by the working class to the advance of fascism.
The facts now speak for themselves for the unitary policies of the Communists, just as they are the condemnation of the splitting policies of the leaders of the social-reformist organizations.
Long years of struggle for the realization of unity in action are today having happy repercussions in the ranks of socialist and union workers.
One fact dominates in the growing confusion of the Socialist Party: it’s the sincere wish of the Socialist workers turning towards Moscow in order to realize proletarian unity in action on a revolutionary basis. Ignoring repeated prohibitions, the Socialist workers have on many occasions fought shoulder to shoulder with Communist workers against fascist bands. At present, correctly mistrusting the hypocritical words of those leaders who feign the acceptance of unity in action, Socialist workers want to join the committees of the united front of anti-fascist struggle. Notably, they demand the adherence to the Amsterdam-Pleyel Movement, sabotaged and fought against by the Socialist Party.
Among railroad workers 40 action committees and 12 united unions between confederated and unitary unions were constituted. Delegates from confederated unions attended the congress of the unitary federation. Railroad workers from the ranks, showing initiative, have begun the fusion at the base long called for by the CGTU and more particularly by the Communists.
The confederated agents of the PTT and the other delegates speak of their wish for common action and booed Jouhaux at their federal congress. They sang “The Internationale” in response to the speech given by Comrade Gourdeaux at the Congress of their national union.
It is clear, formal, and imperative: the workers want unity.
They want unity in order to fight fascism, to push back the offensive of the decret-lois, to put in check the policies of the so-called government of National Unity that is preparing fascism internally and war externally.
The growing disaffection of socialist and confederated workers towards their chiefs and their organizations, which are splitting and losing influence, bespeak the discontent of the masses and their protest against the politics of division of the Socialist Party and the CGT.
The attachment of Communist and unitary workers to their leaders and their organizations, that are consolidating and gaining in influence, bespeak the satisfaction of the masses and their approval of the unitary policies of the Communist Party and the CGTU.
We have the obligation to respond to the hopes of the workers and to do ever more in order to ensure the triumph pf the cause of unity.
First – party members and organizations must make an effort in all circumstances to make contact with Socialist and reformist workers with the goal of organizing common actions. It’s not a matter of giving ourselves over to vain chatter on unity in general.
It’s a matter of elaborating the plan for every riposte – offensive or defensive – to the attacks of the bourgeoisie and its fascist bands. It’s a matter of realizing, according to the formula accepted by a third of the Toulouse congress, unity in action of the proletariat on a revolutionary basis. It’s a matter of fixing precise and limited objective for demands common to workers of all tendencies and based on slogans perfectly acceptable by Socialist workers.
The interests of the workers demand that the united front, realized under these conditions, be consolidated, above all in the enterprises by means of committees democratically elected by all the workers called upon to decide and realize the action.
The interests of the workers demand that, under the control of the masses, severe criticism be made of all those who hinder, sabotage, or smash the united front of anti-fascist struggle.
The social-reformists have risen up against these two conditions.
During the course of actions themselves it is useful to demonstrate how well-founded these positions are to Socialist and confederated workers, who do not have the same reasons to oppose them, and who even approve them. As proof of this, witness those who work in the Amsterdam-Pleyel Committees; witness those who enthusiastically applaud the honest declarations of the representative of the unitary Postal federation to the confederated congress of PTT agents. Yes comrades, we criticize all actions that are carried out against the interests of the workers.
Second – Those Communists in unitary unions and in confederated and autonomous unions should support without any reservations those initiatives that hasten the realization of union unity. We are for immediate fusion at the base and with no other condition than the practice of class struggle. The railroad workers of Vitry-sur-Seine, those of Limoges and other locales have pushed forward union unity by constituting their united unions. Any formalism, any narrow-mindedness, any reticence- a reflection of sectarian fear of the masses – would be prejudicial to the cause of unity and would serve the politics of division of the reformist chiefs. Those of the railroad workers federation condemn the united unions, just as they condemned the action committees and every other form of unity among the rail workers. Those who organized the split in 1920 in order to preserve at any cost an organizational base with the bourgeoisie are incurable adversaries of the united union, the united federation, the united CGT.
But, on the condition that we aid them honestly and loyally, the masses push aside all obstacles. The leadership of the masses will go to those who will have proven their initiative, their devotion, their revolutionary capacity.
It must be frankly stated that certain sectarian and anarcho-syndicalist remnants hinder the full development of our unitary policy.
The theory of acting minorities still has followers, conscious or not. It leads to the contempt for reforrmist and socialist workers. It provokes an organic repulsion for work in confederated and autonomous unions. It doesn’t allow the conception and the realization of a fraternal and loyal collaboration with those workers who are not entirely in agreement with our policies, who don’t completely approve our program.
Third – The Communists must foil the traps of the enemies of unity, unmask the maneuvers of those social reformist chiefs and organizations hostile by nature to the unity of the working class.
Previously the Blums and the Jouhauxs opposed organic unity to the united front. Paul Faure responded to our proposals with the five letters. Now that the masses, thanks to the efforts of the Communist Party and the CGTU have adopted the tactic of the united front, Jouhaux talks about the simultaneous fusion of the unions, and his companions Blum and Paul Faure pontificate on unity in action. But these men remain the adversaries of unity in action and, indeed, of unity, period.
This is why they refuse the practical organization of common action; this is why they miss no occasion to divide the proletarian front. This was seen at the wall [Mur des Fédérés – site of the last stand of the Communards in 1871] just as this is seen a propos of every strike or anti-fascist demonstration. Chattering, fooling the working class, partially maintaining it under their influence – that is, under the influence of the bourgeoisie, for whom they are and remain the principal social support – such is the goal of the social-reformist chiefs and organizations.
The most important role in this hypocritical policy designed to delude, belongs to the so-called “left” to “hangers on” like Farinet and their Trotskyist and PUP agents. They had to cynically recognize that their goal was not to serve the cause of unity, but to demonstrate the bad faith of the Bolsheviks. It is not superfluous to underline this dirty work that they are attempting to accomplish, particularly in the centers where the influence of our Party is profoundly rooted in the masses. In the appropriate forms they take up and spread about slanders against our Party, represented as sectarian, against the Soviet Revolution, against Moscow. The more the socialist workers move towards Moscow, the more the left and the renegades, their allies, agitate against communism. The closer the hour of the battle approaches, the more they seek to fragment, to reduce the forces of the proletariat.
The crime of Comrade Doriot consists precisely in the support he presently gives, not to Socialist and reformist workers who are orienting themselves towards Moscow, towards the united front of anti-fascist struggle, but to the contrary to Social-Democratic chiefs who are working by all means to prevent this evolution by Socialist workers and to smash the united front of struggle.
The crime of Comrade Doriot consists precisely in his shameful alliance with the eternal dividers of the working class and in his attempts to split the Communist party, champion and organizer of the unity of the working class.
Fourth – The Communists are doubtless right in being proud of the encouraging results of their unitary policy. But they must be sure that these are only successes that call for, that demand, other successes and, consequently, other efforts.
The important progress of the united front does not correspond to the possibilities, the demands. The working class understands that its unity would permit it to beat fascism. The bourgeoisie understands just as well the danger that results for it from the unity of the working class. And so it actively pushes forward its offensive against the laboring masses and it puts into action those whose mission it is to divide the working class.
Our unitary efforts and progress, the efforts and the progress of the working class towards its unity, are they being pushed forward as much as those of the bourgeoisie towards fascism?
It must be accepted that we can do more and that from this point on the progress of the united front of struggle essentially depends upon the activity of the Communists.
With this as the goal, the Communists absolutely must improve their mass work and proceed to a true turning point in their organizational work.
Only a strong and solidly organized Party, independent of the correctness of its program, can bring along, organize, and lead the masses in daily struggles and on to the decisive battles for power.
Since February the Party has recruited in all regions, with the exception of Paris North and more particularly, in Saint-Denis, where the defense of the unity of the Party against the splitting activity of Comrade Doriot did not allow the development of recruitment. We have not recruited enough. A sectarian fear of the masses remains, which inhibits the arrival of new members. Recruitment is not systematically organized. The workers don’t find the Party organization at their side. Those who manage to force open the door are not sufficiently assisted. There are too few educational talks, lessons. The persistence of bureaucratic methods hinders the recruitment and the maintenance of effectives.
This work has not taken off as it should. Sometimes the new member is crushed under tasks. Sometimes he remains inactive. In general, the problem of work for each Communist is not resolved. But in order to create the Party of a new type that Lenin spoke of – the revolutionary Party organizing and leading the action of the masses – it is necessary that every Communist in his factory, in his village, in his union, be an organizer and leader.
For each member of the Party, work presupposes the regular functioning of cells at the base, above all cells at the factory level. Progress is too slow on this road. This is due to the defective methods of the Party Committees at all levels. The Party Committee does not yet consider the practical assistance to the work of cells in enterprises and Communist fractions in mass organizations as its essential task.
Nor do we know how to appropriately assure the judicious choice of men and the regular control of the execution of decisions.
In his report to the XVIIth Congress of the Bolshevik Part Comrade Stalin declared: “After the correct political line is given, organizational work decides everything. Including the fate of the political line itself, its realization or its failure.”
Fifth – In order to successfully accomplish their unitary mission the Communists must fervently guard the unity with fervor. The Party has never been so united. The Central Committee has never known such authority both inside and outside the Party. The prestige of the Communist International, of which we are convinced and disciplined militants, has never been so great among the proletarians of France.
The fight carried on by Comrade Doriot and the residue of the Barbé-Celor group against the Party and its Central Committee have been prejudicial to the Party and the united front of anti-fascist struggle. The splitting and anti-unitary policies of Comrade Doriot have momentarily caused problems among Socialist workers and slowed down their passage to Communism. But the Party will come out of this fight that has been imposed on it greater than ever.
The Party has unmasked with indignation the attempts of Comrade Doriot, who claimed to steal our flag of unity and cover himself with it for the needs of a splitting and hostile policy hostile to Bolshevism.
The Party has stripped bare the Social-Democratic and Trotskyist content of the platform openly defended by Comrade Doriot to the applause of all the enemies of communism.
The Party, in its fight against the Trotskyist Barbé-Celor group has increasingly assimilated he principles of Leninism. Through its own experience it has better understood what Stalin said starting in 1924 a propos of the counter-revolutionary concepts of Trotsky that today meet up with those of Comrade Doriot: “Trotskyism is distrust of the party spirit of Bolshevism, in its unity, in its hostility to opportunist elements...Trotskyism is mistrust of the leaders of Bolshevism, the will to discredit them, to denigrate the.” (Stalin, The October Revolution)
The Party has progressed on the Bolshevik road. It has demonstrated the party spirit of Bolshevism. It has firmly and resolutely protected its ideological and organic unity. It has manifested an energetic hostility towards opportunist elements.
The National Conference, having as its point of departure these exceptionally favorable premises, will elaborate those directives that will permit the Party to accelerate the organization of the united front of anti-fascist struggle, to lead the proletarians of France to victory over fascism, and to Soviet power.