On the Theses "Unity and the Youth"

From Marxists-en
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The aim of this text is to correct the slogan of organic unity, which is not our slogan. The formula of organic unity — without a program, without concretization — is hollow. And as physical nature abhors a vacuum, this formula fills itself with an increasingly ambiguous and even reactionary content All the leaders of the Socialist Party, beginning with Just and Marceau Pivert and ending with Frossard, declare themselves partisans of organic unity. The most fervent protagonist of this slogan is Lebas," whose antirevolutionary tendencies are well enough known. The Communist Party leaders are manipulating the same slogan with increasing willingness. Is it our task to help them amuse the workers by an enticing and hollow formula?

The exchange of open letters of the two leaderships on the program of action is the promising beginning of a discussion on the aims and the methods of the workers' party. It is here that we should intervene vigorously. Unity and split are two methods subordinated to program and political tasks. Since the discussion has happily begun, we should tactfully destroy the illusory hopes in organic unity as a panacea. Our thesis is that the unity of the working class can be realized only on a revolutionary basis. This basis is our own program.

If fusion takes place tomorrow between the two parties, we place ourselves on the basis of the united party in order to continue our work. In this case the fusion may have a progressive significance. But if we continue to sow the illusion that organic unity is of value as such — and it is thus that the masses understand this slogan and not as a more ample and more convenient audience for the Leninist agitators — we shall be doing nothing but making it easier for the two conjoined bureaucracies to present us, Bolshevik-Leninists, to the masses as the great obstacle on the road of organic unity. In these conditions, unity might well take place on our backs and become a reactionary factor. We must never play with slogans that are not revolutionary by their own content but that can play a quite different role according to the political conjuncture, the relationship of forces, etc. … We are not afraid of organic unity. We state openly that the fusion may play a progressive role. But our own role is to point out to the masses the conditions under which this role would be genuinely progressive. In sum, we do not set ourselves against the current toward organic unity, which the two bureaucracies have already cornered. But while supporting ourselves on this current, which is honest among the masses, we introduce into it the critical note, the criterion of demarcation, programmatic definitions, etc.

"Nothing would be more dangerous," say the theses of Comrades Craipeau-Kamoun, "than to get hypnotized over this single perspective and to consider all work useless so long as unity is not accomplished." This is right, but it is not sufficient It is necessary to understand clearly that this perspective of organic unity detached from the revolutionary tasks can serve for nothing else than to hypnotize the workers by reconciling them with the passivity of the two parties.

In order to parry the sterilizing hypnotism of the slogan of organic unity, the theses propose a "minimum of elementary Marxist principles as the charter of this unity." The formula is almost classic as the beginning of a downsliding on the opportunist incline. One begins by dosing up the Marxist principles for the delicate stomachs of the Social Democrats and the Stalinists. If it is a question only of enlarging the audience and of opening up to oneself an access to the Communist workers, why put conditions in the guise of "elementary principles" (very elementary, alas!)? And if it is a question of something else, that is to say, of the party and the proletariat, how could a minimum of principles and, what is more, of "elementary principles" suffice?

Immediately after this, the theses demand that it be explained to the workers "that there cannot be a genuine revolutionary unity except that which makes out of the Marxist party a coherent and disciplined organism." So? So? So?

We do not know if the very next stage of development will be an attempt at fusion or, on the contrary, a series of new splits in the two parties. We do not engage ourselves on the road of abstract formulas.

Since February 6, La Vérité has spent its time repeating the formula of the united front (which was moreover much richer in content at that epoch than the formula of organic unity is today). We criticized Naville for not concretizing the revolutionary content of the united front, thus permitting the two bureaucracies to seize upon this slogan without great risk. The same mistake must not be repeated under aggravated circumstances.

And for the youth? The same thing. There are not two policies: one for the youth, the other for the adults. Insofar as the youth carry on politics — and that is their duty — their policy must be adult. There are too many factors that are driving the revolutionary and inexperienced youth towards the Stalinists. The formula of unity facilitates this tendency and augments the dangers. Our weapon, which coincides with the superior interests of the proletarian vanguard, is the content of the unity. While basing ourselves on the currents toward unity, we develop the discussion; we deepen it; we group the best elements of the two camps around the "maximum" of our not-at-all-"elementary" principles; we reinforce our tendency. And then, come what may, the revolutionary vanguard will profit by the fusion as by the split

Let us look at the theses: "The united youth (Jeunesse Unique) cannot have the Leninist principles as its basis." Who says that? The reformists? The Stalinists? No, it is the Leninists of the generous type themselves. Every worker who reflects and who takes things in their totality will reply: "If your principles are not good for making the revolutionary unity, they are good for nothing." "We will retreat," continue our generous Leninists, "on certain points if the agreement is impossible otherwise." Precisely why do the Leninists need to retreat on certain of their principles, of which they already possess only a minimum? It's absolutely incomprehensible.

We will be told: "But we are only a small minority!" Good. Then the two majorities — or better yet, the two bureaucracies supporting themselves on the two majorities — will make (or will not make) their fusion without our retreat. They have no need of it since they are the majority. The authors of the theses stand up not as propagandists of Leninism but as benefactors of the human race. They want to reconcile the reformists with the Stalinists, even at their own expense. Still worse, they say so in advance, before being compelled to do so by the situation. They capitulate in anticipation. They retreat out of platonic generosity. All this contradictory reasoning, in which the authors feel themselves simultaneously the representatives of a small minority and the inspectors general of history, is the unhappy result of the trap that they set for themselves with the slogan of organic unity detached from all content or charged with a "minimum" content.

The authors of the theses obligate themselves, even in case the Socialists should not want to accept the soviet form of power, to intervene among the Stalinists (in the given case, the Leninists are the most logical intermediaries!) in order to persuade them to withdraw the slogan that the Leninists themselves find correct. Isn't that absurd, dear comrades? If you defend before the Socialists the slogan of soviets (with our interpretation), you can win over a part of the Socialists and the sympathy of a part of the Stalinists. At the same time, you remain faithful to yourselves, meanwhile assuring your future. But that does not suffice for you, because you are the courtiers of unity. If this unity is realized thanks to your mediating intervention, the Stalinists will treat you like traitors — and this time not without reason — whereas the revolutionary socialists will pass over to the left by the Stalinist path. Nobody will take kindly to you. That's the fate of all political courtiers.

I want to draw the attention of the comrades to paragraph 2, which speaks of the necessity of reconstructing the revolutionary party "over the innumerable obstacles produced by the ruins of the Third International and the attraction still exercised by the Soviet Union." This formula must be characterized as criminal. The attraction "still exercised" by the Soviet Union is treated as an obstacle to the creation of the revolutionary party. Wherein consists this attraction for the broad masses, who receive neither a subsidy from the bureaucracy nor free tickets for trips to anniversary celebrations, nor any of the other gratuities well known by several "friends of the USSR"? The masses say to themselves: It is the only state that has come out of the workers' revolution. This sentiment is profoundly revolutionary. It is now reinforced all over again thanks to the fascist danger. To appraise this attachment to the proletarian revolution and its acquisitions as an obstacle is criminal towards the Soviet Union, as well as to the workers of the West.

It may be objected: "It's only a question of an unhappy expression; the authors mean to speak of the injurious result of the Soviet bureaucracy's imprint upon a part of the world proletariat." If it were only a question of a poorly chosen formula, it would not be worth discussing. Unfortunately this is not the case. In the ranks of the youth, and especially the non-proletarian, a display of cheap radicalism is often made by sowing doubts about the proletarian character of the Soviet state, by identifying the Comintern with the Soviet bureaucracy and, above all, the latter with the entire workers' state. This mistake is ten times more grievous than, for example, to identify Jouhaux with the trade-union organizations, or Blum with the entire SFIO. Whoever does not have a clear and clean-cut point of view on this fundamental question does not have the right to speak before the workers because he can only sow confusion and skepticism, repulsing the young workers towards Stalinism.

Whence come these artificial and even ambiguous constructions? They proceed from the bad social composition of the Socialist youth. Too many students. Too few workers. The students are occupied too much with themselves, too little with the workers' movement. A worker-environment disciplines a young intellectual. The worker wants to learn the fundamental and solid things. He asks for clear-cut replies. He does not like these factitious witticisms.

Salvation for the Seine district lies in mobilizing the students for the hard labor of recruiting workers. Whoever does not want to occupy himself with that has nothing to look for in the socialist organization. The proletarian organization needs intellectuals, but only as aids for the rise of the working masses. On the other hand, the sincerely revolutionary and socialist intellectuals must learn a good deal from the workers. The internal regime of the youth must be adapted to this task; a division of labor must be organized; their exact tasks must be given to the students or groups of students in the workers' quarters, etc. Ideological oscillations will become all the less frequent, the solider the proletarian base of the organization will become.