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Resolution of the ECCI on the French Communist Party (March 1922)
|Written||2 March 1922|
Published in International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 29, 25 April 1922, pp. 222–223.
The Communist Party of France has since the Tours Convention made major organizational endeavours which kept in its ranks the best forces of the proletariat who have awakened to political action. The Marseilles Convention provided the party with the premise for serious theoretical work from which the revolutionary labour movement will doubtless derive very great benefits.
By breaking with parliamentarian and horse-trading traditions of the old Socialist Party whose conventions set the stage only for the oratorical duels among the leaders, the Communist Party has, for the first time in France, convened a gathering of active workers for a preliminary and deep-going review of the vital problems pertaining to the development of the French revolutionary movement.
The organizational crisis in the French party, whose importance it would be equally wrong to minimize or exaggerate, constitutes one of the salient moments in the growth of the French Communist Party, its internal cleansing, its internal reconstruction and consolidation upon genuinely Communist foundations.
The split of Tours drew a basic line of demarcation between reformism and Communism. But it was absolutely unavoidable for the Communist Party issuing from this split to retain in some of its segments certain survivals of its reformist and parliamentary past, of which it can divest itself – as it is doing – through internal efforts based on participation in the mass struggle
The survivals of the past – among certain party groups – are expressed in:
- an urge to restore unity with the reformists;
- an urge toward a bloc with the radical wing of the bourgeoisie:
- a substitution of petty-bourgeois humanitarian pacifism for revolutionary anti-militarism;
- a false interpretation of the party’s relations with the trade unions;
- a struggle against genuine centralist leadership in the party;
- efforts to replace international discipline in action by a platonic federation of national parties.
Following the split at Tours, tendencies of this sort could not fully disclose themselves and hope to gain a broad influence in the party. Nevertheless under the powerful pressure of bourgeois public opinion, elements inclined toward opportunism tend naturally to gravitate toward each other and are seeking to create their own publications and points of support. However insignificant may be their successes in this direction, it would be a mistake not to assay properly the extent to which their work threatens the revolutionary character and unity of the party. A Communist organization can never serve as an arena for free propaganda of essentially the same views which resulted in the split of the reformist-Dissidents from the working-class party. Any unclarity in this connection is bound unavoidably to hinder the work of revolutionary education among the masses.
The Plenum of the ECCI affirms that the resolutions of the Marseilles Convention, imbued with the spirit of the Communist International, create extremely important points of support for the party’s revolutionary activities among the toiling masses of city and country.
Concurrently, the Plenum of the ECCI takes into cognizance with gratification the declaration of the French delegation to the effect that Journal du Peuple, the organ which serves as the rallying point for reformist and other vague tendencies, occupies a position directly counter to the program of the International, contrary to the decisions of the Tours and Marseilles Conventions of the French Communist Party, and contrary to the revolutionary irreconcilability of the class-conscious French proletariat, and will therefore shortly be removed from the party.
The ECCI Plenum sees the exceptional importance of the Marseilles Convention in this, that it has posed before the party the most important task of carrying on systematic and correct work in the trade unions in the spirit of the party’s program and tactics. Thereby it has condemned in principle the tendencies among those party members who are, under the guise of fighting for the autonomy of the trade unions – which, by the way, no one disputes – in reality fighting to retain their own autonomy in trade-union activity, free from the party’s control and leadership.
In view of the fact that the statutes of the Communist International and of its sections, founded on the principles of democratic centralism, provide ample guarantees for a correct and normal development of each Communist Party, the Plenum considers as wrong the resignation of several members of the Central Committee who were elected by the Marseilles Convention. This is wrong independently of the political motivations which provoked these resignations. Renunciations of posts delegated by the party can be construed by the broad party circles as a declaration that correct collaboration of different shadings is impossible within the framework of democratic centralism and it can serve as an impulse to the formation of factions within the party.
Expressing its complete assurance that the struggle against the above-cited manifestations of anti-Communist tendencies will be conducted by the overwhelming majority of the party and its leading bodies as a whole, and recognizing that the creation of factions would unavoidably cause the greatest injury to the party’s development and its authority among the proletariat, the Plenum of the ECCI notes with satisfaction the declaration of the French delegation to the effect that the Central Committee and the comrades who resigned are ready to take the necessary organizational measures in order to fully realize in life the decisions of the Marseilles Convention and that those who have tendered in their resignations will enter the party’s Central Committee to work harmoniously and correctly.
Alternative translation in Inprecor[edit source]
After Comrade Trotzky’s report on the French question the conference unanimously adopted the following resolution proposed by the submitter of the report:
The great organizational efforts made by the French Communist Party since the Congress of Tours, have retained the best forces of the proletariat in its ranks, and urged them to political action. The Congress of Marseilles gave the party an opportunity for serious activity in the doctrinaire sense, which is certainly of the greatest advantage to the revolutionary labor movement.
Having severed its relations with the Parliamentary and political traditions of the old Socialist Party, whose congresses were mere pretexts for oratorical duels between its leaders the Communist Party has for the first time in France, called together all the militant workers for a present deeper study of the theses dealing with the development of the French revolutionary labor movement. The organizational crisis in the French Party whose underestimation as well as its exaggeration is false, is a step forward in its inner purification and in its reorganization and consolidation upon a true Communist basis The split at Tours drew the fundamental dividing line between reformism and Communism. It is not to be denied however, that the Communist Party thus created retained some remnants of its reformist and Parliamentary past, which it can throw off through inner efforts and by participating in the struggles of the masses.
These remains of the past find expression in certain groups of the party, in the following forms:
Firstly, through the tendency to rejoin the Reformists, secondly, through the inclination to form a “block” with the radical wing of the bourgeoisie; thirdly, through the effort to displace revolutionary anti-militarism by petty-bourgeois humanitarian pacifism; fourthly, through the false interpretation of the relations between the party and the trade unions; fifthly, through the struggle against a really centralized party leadership; sixthly, through the efforts made to displace international discipline of action with a platonic federation of national parties.
After the split of Tours these tendencies could neither come to their full expression, nor could they gain a strong hold upon the party. Under the great pressure of bourgeois public opinion the opportunistic elements always betray a natural inclination towards one another and they strive to create their organs and supports. Although they are not very successful in this respect, it would none the less be a mistake not to form a correct estimate of the dangers that their work breeds for the revolutionary character and the unity of the party. In no case are the Communist organizations to open their arenas to the same views that constitute the main cause for the separation of the Reformists, the deserters of the working class. Every lack of clearness in this matter would inevitably retard revolutionary educational work among the masses.
The Plenary Session of the Executive recognizes that the resolutions of the Marseilles Congress are imbued with the spirit of the Communist International and that they form most important points of supports for the activity of the party among the working masses of city and country.
At the same time the Plenary Session of the Executive acknowledges with great satisfaction the statement of the French delegation in which it announces that the Journal du Peuple, the organ which constitutes the stamping ground of the Reformist and confusionist tendencies, and which takes up a position directly opposed to the program of the International, and to the decisions of the Congress of the French Communist Party at lours and in Marseilles, as well as to the revolutionary irreconcilability of the class-conscious French proletariat, shall in the very near future no longer belong to the party.
The great significance of the Congress of Marseilles chiefly consists in the fact that it assigned to the party the essential task of carrying on a systematic and regular activity within the trade unions, in accordance with the spirit of the program and tactics of the party. This includes the disapproval of the tendency displayed by those party members who under the pretext of fighting for the otherwise undisputable autonomy of the trade unions, in reality fight for the autonomy of their own work within the trade unions without any control or direction whatever on the part of the party.
The Plenary Session likewise takes cognizance of the statement made by the French delegation, in which it says that the Executive Committee of the party will take all the necessary measures for carrying out all the decisions of the party in the spirit of Communist activity, absolutely united and disciplined under the control of the Executive Committee of the Party.
In view of the fact that the statutes of the Communist International are based upon the principle of democratic centralization, and that they sufficiently guarantee the regular and normal development of every Communist Party, the Enlarged Executive Session cannot but consider the resignation of various comrades chosen by the Congress of Marseilles for the Executive Committee as unjustifiable, aside from the political motives that come into consideration in this case. To quit their posts entrusted to them by the party might be interpreted by the broad masses as an admission of incompetence by the representatives of the various tendencies to perform normal tasks in common, within the limits of democratic centralism, and it may even give rise to fractional formations within the party.
The Plenary Session of the Executive Committee expresses its innermost conviction that the struggle against the above mentioned anti-Communistic tendencies will be led in common by the overwhelming majority of the party and its leading institutions.
In view of the fact that the formations of fractions would inevitable become the greatest evil in the development of the party, and would be greatly detrimental to its authority among the proletariat, the Plenary Session of the Executive Committee takes cognizance with the greatest satisfaction of the statement of the Party is ready to take the necessary organizational measures so that the will of the Congress of Marseilles be carried out in unmodified form and to the last letter and that those comrades who had handed in their resignations once more fake up their posts in the leadership of the party in order to accomplish a regular and common task.