Special pages :
On the Workers’ Militia
|Written||1 February 1934|
The workers’ militia is the strongest weapon in the class struggle. The class struggle attains its most conscious expression in the party. The role of the party, as well as the role of the workers’ militia, increases in proportion with the deepening of the class struggle.
Those who enter the militia are the most militant, the most revolutionary, and the most dedicated elements of the proletariat and, above all, of the party itself. This is why the revolutionary party cannot confer power of attorney for the fighting units on some other organization that uses different methods and pursues different aims.
It is true that at present the task of the workers’ militia has a defensive, not offensive, character owing to the danger of fascism, which threatens not only the revolutionary parties but also the reformist ones. But this does not change anything. The workers’ militia is not a mere technical organization “outside the realm of politics.” On the contrary, both the revolutionary party and the reformist party are well aware that the workers’ militia is the keenest weapon of political struggle. And political struggle between revolutionary and reformist organizations at times reaches the point of civil war. This is why both the revolutionary party and the reformist party view merging the ranks of their supporters in one common militia as neither desirable nor possible.
The reformists will say to their own workers: “We are in agreement on a joint defense with the Communists against the fascists, but we cannot permit the Communists to get us involved in some adventure or other; we will decide ourselves when and with whom we will fight.”
The Communists will say (should say): “We are ready, if need arises, to defend the editorial offices of Populaire or the CGT headquarters, arms in hand and alongside the reformists; but for us this is only a stage in the struggle for power. We want to gradually teach our supporters how to maneuver and how to struggle, how to fight and how to retreat, how to defend and how to attack. This is why we can neither merge our supporters with the reformists into one indistinct mass nor place our supporters under reformist command for an undetermined length of time.”
The more extensive and the more successful the movement for developing a workers’ militia becomes, the faster and more sharply will come the arguments cited above. If so far they have yet to be heard, it is only because the movement itself is still in infancy. We are duty bound, however, to anticipate the period ahead so that our supporters will not be caught off guard.
There are certain circles of workers who, while fed up with parties and politics, are aware of the fascist danger: former Communists, anarcho-syndicalists, or simply young militant workers, down to whom the old generation’s disappointment in the parties has filtered. Elements of this type, which are particularly numerous in Paris, are inclined to respond to the slogan for a “common militia.” All sorts of illusions are bound up in this slogan (getting rid of parties, splits, discussions, etc.). Our young comrades in the Leninist Youth have made an attempt to launch a movement for arming workers under the slogan of a “common militia.” In other words, they want to make use of the illusions of a certain section of workers in order to prod them along a progressive path. Such an experiment can be undertaken only on the condition that:
1. La Vérité explains that the slogan for a common militia is in no way an ultimatum aimed at socialists, reformists, Stalinists, etc. We will organize a common militia with those who sympathize with this slogan; we are ready to come to practical agreements with organizations that create their own militias.
2. Inside the common militia, if one is actually formed, the members of the League will create a nucleus of their organization that will act under the absolute and sole direction of the League’s Executive Committee.