Interventions by the KAPD at the 3rd Congress of the Communist International, 1921

Interventions by delegates of the left communist KAPD (Communist Workers Party of Germany) at the Congress of the Third International.

Submitted by Steven. on February 8, 2011

Part 1: Discussion about Radek's Report on the Tactics of the International

Interventions by members of the KAPD at the Third Congress of the Communist International in 1921 in reply to Karl Radek's presentation on the tactics the CI should employ.

Submitted by waslax on July 15, 2009

HEMPEL (Jan Appel): Comrades! After hearing the report of comrade Radek on the subject of the tactics which must be approved by the Communist International, we can say that we approve its primary declarations, notably insofar as they state that, considering the world economic situation, we can observe the collapse of the capitalist mode of production, a collapse from which the proletarian revolution will be an absolutely necessary consequence. But, as soon as we come to the question: how is this proletarian revolution accomplished? what is the formation of this proletarian mass in struggle? then some differences intervene. I will try in this short statement — because little time has been accorded me — to look at this subject. We consider the epoch from 1917, the Russian revolution, the revolution in Germany, in Austria, all the revolutionary struggles of this epoch, and we establish that the form the proletariat took in struggle was in Russia that of the Soviets; in Germany we call them councils. This was the formation of the proletariat, this was the form of mass organisation. We can make the same observation on the subject of the small revolutionary struggles that were manifested in Italy by the factory occupations. The proletariat has its councils, or at least the form of the councils. In England the proletariat used to have, and constructs now, at the time of the great miners' strikes, some works committees (the true revolutionary leadership being in the shop stewards). The German movement after 1918, in all the revolutionary struggles -- small or large -- has given itself the form of struggle by councils, by factories, by workplace. This is what we see in the revolution. We must think about this fact and say: if that's the formation of the proletariat in the revolution, we are compelled, as communists also, as people who want and must have the leadership in this revolution, to examine under this angle the organisation of the revolutionary proletariat. This is what we say, we of the KAPD, and this was not born, as comrade Radek believes, in Holland, in the brain and in the alembic of comrade Gorter, but through the experiences of the struggle that we have brought to a successful conclusion since 1919. We workers, we are not theoreticians, we have only some experiences deriving from our struggle. We have come to break the revolutionary workers, who really want to struggle, from the old forms of the workers' movement and to give to their struggle a functional characteristic of the new forms in which the revolution is accomplished.
This will become publicly evident if we refresh our memory about the tasks that the old workers' movement had, or better, the workers' movement preceding the epoch of this direct revolution. It had as its task, on one side, thanks to the political organisations of the working class, the parties, to send some delegates to parliament and into the institutions that the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy had opened to the representation of the working class. This was one of the tasks. This was profited by and in the epoch this was correct. The economic organisations of the working class had on their side the task of tending to the amelioration of the situation of the proletariat within capitalism, to push the struggle and to negotiate when the struggle stopped. I must say all this quickly. Such were the tasks of the workers' organisations before the war. But the revolution came; other tasks emerged. The workers' organisations could not abide by the struggle for wage increases and be satisfied; they could no longer lay down — as their principal goal — that of being represented in parliament and wringing some ameliorations for the working class. This, this is reformism. Now you object this to us: "we, we are not opposed". But we reply: we quite believe you, you are not opposed, but if you enter the path that the old workers' movement has followed, then this is the path that will sweep you away, you will not be able to do otherwise – and all the theses in the world will not be able to change anything. Experiences prove it. It is not for nothing that the old workers' movement had its special organizations. Why did one need to be represented in parliament? We did not need revolutionary fighters; we needed to be educated in the relationships within this state; one needed people who knew how to negotiate, parliamentarians, and one had only to listen to their reports. More or less. What was needed from an economic point of view? One needed an association of workers. One chose some reliable men, we elected some workers capable of negotiating with the bosses and with the bosses' organisations. It is by such organisations that the leaders remained, they existed thanks to them. One collected money in order to conduct an eventual strike. One constructed some organisations of support, that is to say, some unions, instruments of the working class for one already determined goal: to settle themselves within the capitalist order. Then, when some communists believe that this organ, which is incapable of conducting revolutionary struggle, which is an inadequate instrument in the revolutionary struggle, when they believe in utilizing this leadership, these organizations, to conduct some revolutions with these organizations of the working class, they are in error and they give way.
We permanently have the experience that all organisations of workers that take this path, despite all their revolutionary discourse, give way in the decisive struggles. Such is the great lesson that we must draw. Consequently we say: the proletariat must have the goal before its eyes and this goal is: destruction of the capitalist power, destruction of the power of the state. The proletariat must form some organs especially with this end in view. The proletariat forms them itself. We see it when in a factory - in Germany for example — the workers pose some demand that a boss cannot presently accept; what does the working class do then? It chooses some reliable men that it knows, drawn from its factories, from its workplaces. It must in these small beginnings already lead its struggle against the will of the unions. This is what shows us the long history of these small struggles, small strikes, and up to the last great struggles.
Therefore the working class is obliged to organise itself -- it does this even now -- in the economy with a view of the revolutionary struggle. And we say: we, as communists, we must recognise this phenomenon. We must recognise the false rode of the old workers' movement. We have something new, we have the revolutionary struggle, and that is why we must say what the development of the revolution has alre-dy shown us: the workers must organise themselves in this fashion, and we, communists, we must have the leadership when it comes to some fights. This is why we say: the communists must induce the proletariat to organise itself by enterprises, by workplaces, in a totally determined goal: to take into its hands the production, the productive forces, the factories, to conquer all this. It is there that the proletariat must organise itself, for it is for all this that it struggles.
Comrades, it is not possible for me to expand any further on that. It is the task of communists to recognise it and give it their attention.
We come then to the second point. The formation of the proletariat, the organisation of the proletariat in the struggle and the tasks also furnish the methods of struggle. The methods must be revolutionary; they flow, at the present time, from the examination of the economic situation, from the situation with the adversary. The adversary today takes some crafty measures, not from today only, but in a reinforced fashion today. And these crafty measures are of a nature to maintain its power: on one side the state power, on the other it is necessary that industry, the economy continues to yield something. It is impossible for them to once again put the totality of the national economy into motion. This doesn't work. But it is possible for them to consolidate a part, a core of the economy at the expense of the other sectors. This is now accomplished in all the countries of the world. We communists, we must observe this and we must see what consequences this undertaking of the more conscious capitalists will have for their goal.
For the proletariat this has the consequence that a part of itself is safeguarded
in the enterprises that are kept viable, in this economy that is kept viable. And in all countries, we see that this core, these trusts, these supertrusts unite themselves on the international scale and have predominance. But if only one part of the proletariat is admitted and has the right to live in these concentrated enterprises, another part must be eliminated. This is the great mass of unemployed who no longer find any place in the present system, who are condemned to perish. This is the division, the economic split of the working class. The worker who is in the enterprise, who still has the possibility of getting out of trouble, anxiously hangs on there in order not to lose his job. The worker put out of the enterprise is the enemy of those who can still live. Such is the split that is consciously exploited by capital and exacerbated by the bourgeois press. It is thus that the recovery of capitalism takes place today. We do not say the permanent relief of the domination of capital, but relief for a certain time, relief upon the corpses of proletarians dead of starvation. We must recognise it and also connect it with our combat tactics, the method according to which we must proceed. We communists, we must through the proletariat prevent this consolidation of one part of the economy, of the proletariat, from being accomplished. For this is the defeat of the proletariat. We must take up the fight in all the phases, at the least occasion. We must through all possible means — I say, with comrade Radek, with all possible means – prevent the reconstruction of the economy, as it is planned by the capitalists. And for this we must utilize the enormous, ever-growing masses of unemployed, of starved proletarians; we must assemble them. We do not bring them together so that they might vote for parliament, in order that they approve some resolutions, but we must, in line with their vital needs, group them, organize them in councils, take them in connection with the other councils, with the reliable men of the enterprises. Thus we create the organisation of the proletariat, the association of the proletarian in action. The discourses, the resolutions and the "open letter", as Radek has affirmed here, are not some platforms by which the unity of the revolutionary proletariat is accomplisned; tne platform is constant combat.
Comrade Radek has spoken of the offensive and the defensive. Earlier in the year we have seen how this happened to us in Germany. We saw how bourgeois democracy was maintained by all means, by the social-democrats, the independents, all the parliamentary parties end organisations and by all the bourgeoisie. This is a disguised situation and capital needs it; it must explode. We launched the slogan: utilise each conflict, in each enterprise, push it forward, spread it, on each occasion make the isolated capitalist hang his head, develop links from enterprise to enterprise, make the struggles sharper. Comrades, we saw that from there the course of events took a sharp turn in central Germany and arrived at the March Action. They arrived with the Hoersing attacks; the storm then broke out in Germany. We say that this is an offensive (as we conceive it) and it must be launched. But to suddenly order the offensive without the intermediary stages is nonsense. I thus refer more fully to our attitude on 20 August of last year (1920), when the Red Army was on the East Prussian frontier before Warsaw. This also returns for consideration if one wants to bring in a judgement on the offensive and the defensive. We, of the KAPD, in our country, we made a preparatory work of several weeks, by all means, in public meetings by leaflets, by making propaganda in the enterprises, by exploiting the spiritual state [consciousness] born of the presence of the Red Army on the frontiers. And then we posed the question of what must be done in the case of troops and munitions coming from France across Germany, we then decided to go as far as insurrection. We methodically made preparations in all areas. The 20 August and the preceding evening -- only now can we bring up the subject, because previously many comrades went into prison because of this — an appeal appeared in “Rote Fahne”, "Freiheit" and in all the provincial papers: Proletarians of Germany: attention! some cops and provocateurs, some shady elements want to push you headlong into a bloodbath, etc. We openly recognise it today: if ever we made an error it was certainly that day, because we tried through every means to put the brakes on the action that had to break out in the most important zones of Germany. We reunited in several places and, now, one can mock the fact that our comrades in Vilbert and Koethen may have proclaimed the council republic.
We know that one can mock us on that. This does not disturb us. But the task of communists at that moment was to take the offensive. In Germany we consider this as an offensive; on the international scale it wasn't one, but a simple act of solidarity with our Russian brothers who were defeated because of the delivery of materials. These things must also be said, if one is concerned with judging the offensive and the defensive.
We come next to partial demands. I will first address the question of the "open letter", next control of production, partial demands. Comrade Radek has spoken of the different aspects that partial demands can have. The "open letter", in Germany backed by the unions, by the parliamentary parties, this open letter will be opportunist, it must become opportunist. An "open letter" that would be supported by revolutionary economic organisations, this open letter would have a character that Radek wouldn't find in the VKPD. What did the meetings of the action committees that engaged in throwing away the bases of the struggle that had to follow the "open letter" become? Well, we resisted them because we know who we have to deal with, because we know that this could bring nothing but bargaining with the government. These are phrases. That is why we resisted them. We are in agreement with all opening of struggle. But one must also reflect on what must be done. This is not improvised, these are actions preparatory to the revolution, and they must be found in reality. One would have had them if one had had some revolutionary organisations, if for two years the leadership of the Spartacus League, the 3rd International had not demanded: no factory organisations, no workers' associations, utilisation of the old unions. It must see these things as they are and it must ask the combattants who lead a permanent struggle; I repeat, I do not have the time to be able to explain all this in detail.
Now the question of partial actions. We say that we don’t resist any partial action. We say: each action, each fight, because it is an action, must be taken to the end, be pushed forward. One cannot say: we resist this fight here, we resist fight there. The fight that is born of the economic necessities of the working class, this fight must through all means be pushed forward. Exactly in a country such as Germany, England and all the other bourgeois-democratic countries who have endured 40 or 50 years of bourgeois democracy and its effects, the working class must at first be accustomed to the struggles. The slogans must correspond to the partial actions. Let's take for example: in an enterprise, in different enterprises, a strike breaks out, it includes a small area. There the slogan could not be: struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. That would be an absurdity. The slogans must be adapted to the relationships of forces, to what one can expect in a given occasion. These slogans must also be adapted to the character that the struggle of this movement must take on. We accept that a general uprising is propagated in the countries. Then the slogans must not say: "This is the totality that is concerned".
I want now to consider in this fashion the March Action, in order to demonstrate briefly, how the effects of its lessons have worked, what has not been demonstrate here. The March Action, as everyone says now, was not an action, which, by itself, could bring scout the collapse of the power of capital. We also, we have seen this. But still, one must give the slogan: overthrow the government. One must launch this slogan because in Germany the proletarians are not carrying out an effective fight. Moreover one must launch this slogan because on the national scale there is no longer anything else for the proletarians in Germany to do. This social order means the starvation of some millions of them, the wasting away of an ever larger part of the population. Consequently, for the working class which finds itself in distress, there is nothing else to do but to take as its goal the overthrow of this social order. This is the content that the slogan would have to have in central Germany. The slogan would have to be thus because for the first time one would have to show the proletariat how it could get itself out of its distress.
I want to choose an example. It was in Germany in January 1918. The war with all its consequences weighed on the proletariat. In January l918 the armament and naval yard workers everywhere came to rebel against the strait-jacket of the war, against hunger, destitution, poverty. And this through the general strike. What happened? The working class, the proletarians in uniform did not yet understand the workers. The ice was not yet broken. But how was this struggle carried out through the country? How were the persecutions against the workers effected? How were they hounded in every corner? The news of this fight, of this movement of the working class penetrated into every recess. The whole world knew about it. And when the relationship of forces had ripened, there was nothing to save the military economy and the so-called German empire, then the working class and the soldiers did what the pioneers of January 1918 had taught, them. Things appear in a similar fashion now in Germany. We do not have sufficient means, sufficient means of propaganda, to put this forward in every nook and cranny. We must abandon it to the bourgeoisie and its supporters, and those who do it differently than us. The bourgeois persecutes us, they treat us like murderers, scoundrels, etc., they pursue us. The proletariat, again today, insults us in the same fashion. But if the situation develops and ripens, then the proletariat is willing to go along the same road and it recognises the road. That is how the revolution surmounts all the obstacles. That is why one must launch the slogan and one must fight for the overthrow of the capitalist power, of the existing order. There is the great lesson for the German proletariat, and for the International that has seen this March Action, greater than all the trifles that one hangs on to here.
Comrades, it is again necessary that I show in some words what the organisational form of the proletariat in struggle must be. Before I only made an allusion to this subject. The proletariat must not organise itself in order to be represented in the bourgeois state, in the political and economic domain, it must not organise itself in order to utilise bourgeois democracy; the proletariat must only organise itself with an eye to the revolution. The revolutionary experiences given by the Russian revolution, the German and Austrian revolutions, as well as the particular struggle must be recovered by the proletariat, that is how it must organise itself. That is why, we say, communists must create a core, a framework that might greet the proletariat when, thanks to the general development, it will be induced to fight. And these frameworks are the factory organizations, that merge themselves by enterprise, by economic regions. They are less numerous today (interruption: they will have less and less). Today they are the ones who hold the standard high, who hold the organisational framework. And when the struggles flare up, they will do more and more, because the proletariat is compelled to stay in this framework, because it cannot struggle through the unions and with them. We must take this into account. That is how the tactics of the 3rd International must be set up, so that we will progress. In order to hold all these organisations, in order to lead them, and in order to teach to all this class organisation, the proletariat needs a communist party, not a communist party that cannot be led by all its members, that can only exist thanks to a leadership that leads it by some directives. The proletariat needs an ultra-formed core-party. It must be thus. Each communist must be an unimpeachable communist — that this may be our goal — and he must be able to be an on the spot leader. In his relationships, in the struggles into which he is immersed, he must hold fast and, what holds him, what binds him is his programme. What constrains him to act are the decisions taken by the communists. And there reigns the strictest discipline. There one can change nothing or else one rill be excluded or sanctioned. It therefore concerns a party that is a core, knowing what it wants, that is solidly established and has proven itself in combat, which no longer negotiates, but is continually in struggle. Such a party can only be born when it has really thrown itself into the struggle, when it has broken with the old traditions of the movement of unions and parties, with the reformist methods which form part of the union movement, with parliamentarism. Communists must break with all this: with these methods the others have barred the path of the revolution, and net only by the effects that we have just pointed out, but by their assertion in some places that the bourgeoisie leaves open and that it uses as traps in which it captures and transforms revolutionary activity. Communists must banish this from their ranks, and when they have purged themselves, then only will they pass to their tasks; they will have carried forward to revolutionary activity. There – as fully as time allowed — we have shown what must be the line of the Communist International, in order that it might be leaders.

If one regards things in an international way, he notices that he finds the forces that can bear this edifice, the forces with which he can construct these revolutionary organisations, this revolutionary international. We find in France, in Spain, in Italy, we also find in America some syndicalists and anarchists. Perhaps someone will cry: there it is, you are an anarchist, a syndicalist. We pause an instant on that. One must recognise: for some years, these are on the side where the most revolutionary elements of the working class are found. Comrades, they lived too soon in history, their tactics were premature by several dozen years. The methods of the old movement in Germany were correct, but now, at the hour of collapse, it is the method of direct combat that it necessary. These workers, these anarchists and syndicalists of the world do not have the experience of organisation, do not have the experience of the cohesion of the working class. The communists must go to their aid and teach them to lead the fight, to assemble the forces; they must apply the form of organisation that might unify and fit them. These elements ask above all that one complete the break with all bourgeois traditions, that one might no longer return there. All the workers who have gone into the syndicalist or anarchist camp, have gone astray there because of the treason of the parliamentarist leaders. This concerns breaking them away again from their situation; and for communists this would be to fear not going into this area. To reject parliamentarism and unions, this is not a principled question for communists, these are practical questions and today they are on the agenda. If one views things in this manner, he notices that he finds in America and in the western European countries some large workers organisations who demand antiparliamentarism and the break with the union movement. Now the question is: how will the congress decide? If it reinstates the line of the old workers' movement, then it will submit to its path. If it resolutely takes the step to find itself with the left elements, who are in Moscow today, recognising that there is good in them also, then the revolution will receive a new impulse from the 3rd congress of the International; by taking another path it will flounder. This depends on the decision taken by the congress. That is how we consider the question of our belonging to the 3rd International.

SACHS: Comrades, I could attach my explanations to the last speech by comrade Bell of England, because it seems to me that he has pointed out our conception on a really essential point: the question of the size of the party. But I would return later to this point. I will criticize the account that comrade Heckert made yesterday: he conceded – what one cannot deny – the failure of the old KPD at the time of the Kapp putsch in Germany. Farther on, on the subject of August 1920, on the subject of the failure of the KPD, official section of the 3rd international, at the time of the raid of the Russian army on Warsaw, he rapidly glided into a polite silence, with a politeness as regards his party, but which unfortunately gave us few explanations of the situation then. He has, in the third place, recognised the dangerous irresolution, criticised the party at the time of the electricians' strike in Berlin. And moreover: who originated this irresolution that provoked this failure of the party at the time of the electricians' strike, this practical inactivity? It was not Paul Levi. It was, at the time of a meeting at which I was present, comrade Brandler, presently representing the revolutionary left of the improved edition of the VKPD under whose honorary chairmanship we all have the pleasure of sitting, in part with deliberative voice, in part with consultative voice. I did not choose him. It was Brandler, about whom one could still say (various noises) that he figures that the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat must be accomplished under the form of the council system in the framework of the constitution of the German Empire (various noises). This is what he said in his official statement. There’s the paper where it is. Perhaps comrade Heckert, and with him some others of the party, will agree one day that this improved edition of the KPD failed again, at the time of the opening of this March Action; setting aside all that has already said, the beginning of the March Action is a point that has not yet been touched, and this is because the KPD only published the slogan for the general strike the Wednesday before Easter. Heckert believed it necessary to excuse his party up and down for having come out with its general strike slogan as early as Wednesday, whereas he knew that meanwhile it would be Easter, a time when the workers are not in the factories. It did not come to him that the Tuesday before Easter, in Halle, the gas, water and electricity workers were already on strike, without a slogan, in support of the workers of central Germany, and that then these workers, abandoned to themselves, without the leadership of the Halle district, the leadership of the strongest district of the VKPD, nor did the national leadership come forward to their aid, returned to the factory in order not to remain alone in the fight. It is only after we had exerted pressure in all the towns of the country: made haste so as to establish the general strike before Easter and to be able to hold on beyond that date, it is only there at the last moment, Wednesday, that they came to publish the slogan of the general strike. I say that comrade Heckert has conceded three cases of failure. Perhaps one day he will concede the fourth? Now it is remarkable that this Communist Party of Germany, the only authentic and licensed party, has failed in all the cases; and in all the cases, by the most marvelous of chances, the KAPD, or rather the previous opposition from which the KAPD was born, has always acted correctly. The districts, that on the day of the Kapp putsch, entered immediately into struggle, were the oppositional districts; those who tried to utilise August, an attempt that miscarried because of your resistance by you and the USPD, this was again the districts of the KAP; those who did not share the hesitations at the time of the electricians' strike, but sought with all their might to give themselves up to bring support to the workers, this was once again the KAP. I say: these are some remarkable chances that have no equal, or else there is a deeper cause.

ROGALSKI: Fantasy.

SACHS: Comrade Rogalski, I have participated in all of this, therefore it cannot be a question of fantasy. Now, the fact that is found at the base of this parallel, of these remarkable phenomena, not only has interest within the framework of Germany, but also within the framework, of the entire International; this must have a great importance for it. It is, after all, simply the fact, that the KAPD, by reason of its organisation, of its tactics, even if it has only been perfectly clarified slowly and through a difficult process, it is the fact that the KAPD furnished a priori, in its basic structure, the guarantee that, in such a case, it cannot, taken as a whole, fail.

Yesterday comrade Lenin spoke, in a manner quite similar to that of comrade Bell today, of the possibilities of a small party. He explained, to our great surprise, that a small party also — also, he said — could find itself in the position of beginning the revolutionary struggle, moreover beginning the final and decisive revolutionary struggle and conducting it victoriously, he said: also. What then becomes of the sacrosanct principle of the mass party, where has it disappeared to? Now that comrade Lenin said that a small party is also able, if it is capable – that is quite correct – to gain by its policy, the masses and even the majority of the proletariat, the majority of the labouring population in general. Excellent. We are completely in agreement with him and we are unaware, insofar as it comes to this point, why he is irritated by our leftist foolishness, on exactly this point. If a small party is just as able, we ask him to be good enough to say what he thinks of what we say: a small party can do it, but when a mass party tries it -- a mass party in the sense that it has been preached here as a dogma — it is then very probable that it flounders. How do you answer this question? We say: a mass party, created according to the principle: "we bring in as much of the world as possible, after that we slate all this in order that we may make a party correct from a revolutionary point of view, under the pressure and the thrashings of the leadership"; we say that a "correct version" party of this fashion -- as you try to do now for the VKPD -- carries within it, within its entire structure, the greatest chance of failing. Because the masses are not only some inert numbers in books, in lists, they are living workers, who go to meetings, who send group delegates to local sections’ central committees and those of the districts, asserting their will and their opinion. And if one was able in days gone by to construct somewhere in the world a party that may have been led in military fashion, a corporal's baton in hand, and that counted its members numbers, a party like this is no longer possible in Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain, etc. We also know, and we also say that great masses are necessary for the victory of the revolution in the industrially advanced countries and that the communist party must win these great masses. But when we hear it said next that what one recommends is the “open letter” as exemplary means of winning the masses, this "open letter" that has made its appearance with us in Germany, and that, I hope, comrades of other countries know also, the open letter that contains a jumble of all that is possible, then we say that naturally, at the time of the composition of this "open letter", it is good will that has proposed to win the masses and make then advance.

It is wrong, it is true, to state that the true intention of the "open letter" was nothing other than to make some electoral propaganda, I do not want to debate this for the moment. But I say that this method of the "open letter" is impossible and undialectical. It is a method by which one wants to lure the masses to itself such as they are, not only by sympathising with their distress and oppression but at the same time compromising with the opinions that they have. One says that it is true in a conclusive phrase: we know that this doesn't work, but we demand, etc. Or else then, if they are still blind, if they still do not see what is, they say to themselves: good, if the communists themselves say to ask this, this is what will be done. In brief. One reinforces the masses in their opportunist illusions. If you want to want the masses, I must say that the recent March Action, all things considered, in spite of all its errors and weaknesses, was a much better method of doing this than the "open letter".
Doubtless, through the "open letter" we have made millions of hands be raised, but they have not been conquered for the cause of communism. On the other side, at the time of the March Action, large masses had turned against the fighters, not only with words, but also with iron bars, in chasing from the factories those who exhorted them to strike. But this is nevertheless how the dialectical process is accomplished: you first bring out those who want to and can fight, these ones will then certainly be hit; after a certain time, the masses who were previously against the action, will learn and understand: we were against this fight, we thought: this will improve, now no such thing has happened, we see that they were justified those whom we not long ago hit on the head with iron bars. This is, all things considered, the true method of winning the masses.
Comrades, the theses that have been presented to us and the amendments do not constitute for the KAPD the essential thing. I am not mandated for, and I am not about to express myself for or against the ones or the others, and this, for the simple reason that these theses, all things considered, are built on the basis of the resolutions of the 2nd congress, still in force today. They constitute a continuation, and in a large part certainly, an improvement; this can be nice and welcome to us, but this is not the essential thing. As important, we consider the transformation of the principled decisions on tactics, of the great tactical lines of the 2nd congress. This is why, knowing that it is not possible to think of some sort of reform, we propose to the delegations and to the presidium our theses for the 2nd congress concerning the union movement, the factory councils and the control of production, as well as the theses on the proletarian revolution. We do not believe that these theses arrive too late. If they are somewhat late, it is your fault. You did not listen to us sooner. These theses – we hope — will be taken as theirs by several delegations, and will be the ferment of a discussion that we will conduct more rapidly and better, on the path to victory, as the theses that have been adopted on the same subject by the 2nd congress.
I want to direct myself briefly to the attacks comrade Bukharin made yesterday. His last has quite severely attacked us, but, it is true, with some arguments that only exist on paper. He cited some phrases from a pamphlet by comrade Gorter and he believed he was able to bring us down with them. However, he read one very decisive phrase, but most of it has not been heard. It is this: after the proletariat rises in Kronstadt against you, communist party, and after you decree the state of siege against the proletariat in Petrograd...! This internal logic in the succession of events not only here in the Russian tactics, but also in the resistance that manifested itself against it, this necessity, comrade Gorter has always recognised and underlined. This phrase is the phrase that one must read in order to know that comrade Gorter does not take the part of the insurgents in Kronstadt, and that it is the same for the KAPD, but in order to apprehend what we see, to know: these are the difficulties of the situation here. If comrade Gorter is, as Bukharin presented him, our best theoretician, then this may be right. But he has learned our practice in such a way and we his that I can say today: if Gorter deviates in his theoretical writings from the line of the party (he hasn't done this yet), it is the latter that would stay and not comrade Garter's. Comrade Bukharin, I say once again, has worked against us with some arguments existing only on paper. He hasn't in any way drawn his arguments either from the life of our party, or from that of the VKPD, and he can not draw any. One can, with the aid of word games like those used against us yesterday, by comrade Bukharin, expose oneself to a congress that does not know the facts and cannot know them, but not in Germany where we return to make a report on the things that are fought here by a great many comrades under the name of "leftist foolishness".

Archived from the Wage Slave X website

Part 2: Discussion of Zinoviev's Report on the Trade Union Question

Intervention by delegates of the KAPD at the Third Congress of the Communist International in 1921 in response to Grigory Zinoviev's report on the trade union question.

Submitted by waslax on July 15, 2009

BERGMANN (MEYER): Comrades, yesterday, in his report, comrade Zinoviev insisted on the fact that the question of attitude vis-a-vis the trade unions has a preponder­ant importance for the development, for the progress of the revolution. We know that the conquest of political power must be on all fours with that of economic power, and, to tell the truth, its not solely a question of the acquisition of po­litical and economic power; we must, even now, prepare ourselves for the fact that with the conquest of power one has done nothing if one does not create the preliminary conditions to be in a position to next consolidate and preserve this power. Such is the problem to which we must find a solution. In the past phase of the revolution at the scale of different states, certain regions in certain coun­tries have often already come to take power; but, to some diverse degrees, these revolutions have not united to consolidate and build this power once conquered. And in most cases, one has failed, as in 1918 at the time of the eruption of the German revolution, because one has not united, once political power was conquered, to establish economic power. Comrades, it is necessary to test the dimensions of this cause. Communists must examine what is to be done in order to eliminate these errors and find the means by which such setbacks will not be reproduced in the future. We cannot and must not, in the highly developed capitalist countries, rely on occasional possibilities and yield to the illusion that all will be well. We must insofar as this is possible within capitalist society, concretely seek to create some organs that can appear at the instant they are called on to complete their tasks. In his report, yesterday comrade Heckert analysed the tasks that had been posed for the old trade unions, and he showed us how they tried to realise them within capitalist society. Likewise comrade Zinoviev clearly and distinctly outlined for us what the trade unions have to do in the revolution and how – just as I have already stated -- they must next aid in building and consolidating economic power.

When we consider the task and the structure of the trade unions of the capitalist period, we see, above all in the highly developed capitalist countries, that their task was to ameliorate the life of the working class within capitalist society. This task which was posed to the trade unions is no longer to be resolved today, no longer to be accomplished. On this subject, no difference of opinion can prevail among us. In spite of this, we see many trade unions still trying today to accomplish their old tasks, which was correct and good in the pre-revolutionary period, whereas they can no longer resolves them when actions are openly engaged. These trade unions have become the second weapon of the capitalist state.

Comrade Zinoviev told us yesterday that presently the capitalist states hold the working class in subjection, not only by the sword but by the lie. And this apparatus, this state apparatus of the lie that still lastingly maintains the working class in oppression is constituted today by the old trade unions.

Thus, they have become today, we see it above all in Germany, a direct instrument, a bastion of the capitalist state.

Comrades, you believe you are able, at the present time, to conquer such organisations, to transform them into instruments of the revolution. On this subject the opinion of the KAPD -- and not uniquely its opinion, as it appears here -- diverges from that of the majority of parties that have been admitted into the Communist In­ternational. I say that the KAPD is not alone in defending this point of view: the shop stewards In England, the IWW in the United States, the syndicalist organisa­tions In France, Spain and Italy show us that they are of the same opinion; with the aid of the counter-revolutionary trade unions, in undertaking their conquest, one cannot revolutionise the working masses; one cannot transform them into instru­ments of the revolution. We see this process unfolding and perfecting itself in Germany in an absolutely clear way. The comrades of the VKPD [United Communist Party of Germany] up till now stuck to the point of view of the conquest of the trade unions. Now yesterday we heard for the first time, in the speeches of comrades Zinoviev and Heckert, that it is neces­sary to destroy the trade unions, even if this was not explicitly said. If one speaks like that about this problem, if one speaks of destruction of the trade un­ions, it may be possible to find here some possibilities of unity between us and the majority. We are fundamentally of the opinion that it is necessary to break from the old trade unions. Not because we have a thirst for destruction, but because we see that these organisations have really become, in the worst sense of the term, organs of the capitalist state for suppressing the revolution. When, in 1918, with the collapse of the German army, it seemed the hour had come to conquer power, it was the German trade unions, their directing organs, that from the beginning to the end of the war had preached and put into action the die-hard poli­cy, it was the trade unions that at the instant when we had political power in our hands, put the collapsed state back on its feet. With the aid of the officers' camarilla, it was the union leaders, Noske and others, who united the routed gangs of the bourgeoisie and thus made an obstacle to the revolution in Germany.

Even today, the entire line of the old trade unions is on this position. Comrades,you seek to replace the open struggle of the working masses by a semblance of com­bat. Thus, in 1918 the German workers, taking as their model the Russian revolution created workers' councils; the council idea more and more asserted itself in the German proletarian masses and did not allow itself to be either buried or trampled then, that is to say, up till April-May 1919, the trade unions practiced a weather vane policy. From the very first, they sharply fought the idea of workers' councils, suppressed it in a most brutal fashion, by force of bayonets. But then this idea emerged again. It was then with the aid of these trade unionist satellites of the state that the law on the councils was created which had to supposedly assure the working masses influence over production, consumption, above all the economic movement in general. In this epoch broad working masses allow themselves to be deluded, they truly believe that such a law gives them an influence over later development. But it has been demonstrated little by little that this law is so finely constructed that it signifies, in the worst sense of the term, the gagging of the revolu­tion. Today we see the working masses who in days past through [threw?] themselves onto this hook, now completely freeing themselves.

It is not necessary to hear thereby that all the workers have already seen through this patent fraud. But we see today broad layers of revolutionary workers starting to struggle against this apparently revolutionary, in reality re­actionary law. The councils that were elected and formed then are not instruments of the masses' revolution, but only instruments of reaction, in the worst sense of the word. We observe it at the time of each struggle, great or small. One example only: when, in March of this year, in central Germany, the struggle began in the Leuna factories, the faith in these councils had so declined that the first action of the 25,000 Leuna workers consisted of deposing the legal council and electing a revolutionary action committee in its place.

HECKERT: That's an absurdity:

BERGMANN: Come now, comrade Heckert, I know better than you the facts of Leuna, and I know how they unfolded. It was a comrade of the VKPD and a comrade of the KAPD who revoked the council after a fight, and Tuesday morning a revolutionary action committed was elected by the workers in the enterprise.

It was like that wherever the workers marched into combat. Comrades we must now carefully examine whether this development can and must continue. If we see that the workers can have no confidence in these factory councils created by the law on councils, we must then force ourselves to otherwise regroup the workers, we must give them some other councils which, then, when the revolution triumphs, will effectively enjoy the confidence of the broad masses of the industrial proletariat. How can this be brought about? Is it possible or not within the old trade unions, which have shown us, through their action, that they have become a part, and truly a very strong part, of the capitalist state. We see everywhere, not only in Germany that the trade unions have developed in this sense. We see it in America with the large Gomper[s] trade unions [of the American Federation of Labor], we see it quite recently in England in the course of the last weeks past, in Italy at the time of the great strikes that were beaten with the aid of the reactionary socialist party. Thus we see everywhere the old trade unions and the old social-democratic parties holding hands. They work hand in hand to smooth the class contradictions where we, as communists, have the task -- which we must fulfill -- of exploding the class contradictions with more sharp­ness. The old trade unions, in their constitution and according to their structure were organs that worked within capitalist society and that adapted themselves to it. The initiative, the will of individuals or strong minorities could not exist in these trade unions. It was impossible for any strong minorities to break their way, against the will of the leaders, through the fine links of the statutes and paragraphs proper to each trade union federation We see everywhere that they have done violence even to the great majority of active members organised in the trade unions; these must still today bow, against their will, to the dictatorship of the leaders because the leaders have the threads of the organisation firmly in hand; they have the totality of its ap­paratus as well as its financial apparatus. That is why these great masses of militants resolutely cannot affirm themselves in a revolutionary sense, they are condemned to inactivity and will be forced to work against their will for the maintenance of the present capitalist trade unions. We are of the opinion that it is impossible to revolutionise such trade unions. Some attempts in this sense have already been undertaken many times. The most significant in this connection we see being developed now in Germany. The comrades of the VKPD undertake to revo­lutionise the trade unions by erecting some cells there, communist cells, which must meanwhile bring in a logical way a decomposition and a ruin of the trade un­ions. One can refute this if one would want to, but everywhere the constitution of cells has been undertaken, we see that what is undertaken in reality is the de­struction of the organism itself by the central trade unions. We see that every­where, through the foundation of cells, one has not broken the character of the trade unions, one has not broken the charm that the leaders exercise over the basic trade unionist militants. We see, on the contrary, that as the masses are organisationally united to these leaders, they incline more towards the orders of their yellow counter-revolutionary trade unionist leaders than towards the slogans of the communist parties. In cen­tral Germany we have witnessed some typical examples: some great masses of members of the VKPD did not follow the slogans of struggle of their party because they were at the same time members of trade unions and they followed the anti-strike orders. It is like that wherever one casts a glance. The trade unions -- said com­rade Zinoviev yesterday -- must be organs that must proceed to the construction of the coming society, that must have, as much as possible, a great influence at the time of the construction of communist society. When we consider the past of the trade unions, the tasks that they were posed in times past and their present struggle for the revolution, we see then the opposite by which they must be used at the time of the revolution and by which they are used at this very day. Already during-the war a strong aversion for the trade unions by a great part of the workers appeared; even more, they deserted them en masse. At the beginning of the revolution, in the first weeks, we did not believe that the trade unions question would be the most burning one. At the time of the formation of the Spartacus League it was not resolved as it must be today. We believed then (and we were not the only ones to have this belief -- some others, including the Russian comrades, were them­selves also deluded about the speed of the revolution) that the revolutionary wave would be more rapid, that the speed of the revolution in Germany and in the other countries would have a more rapid rhythm and that the trade union question would not play the preponderant role that it has played at the time of the revolution. Already during the war, I have said, great fractions of the workers broke from these trade unions, because treason of these old trade unions, already effective before the war, was then brought out in an even clearer fashion. From there comes, as far back as the first months of the revolution, the slogan of the Spartacus League to the working masses: out of the trade unions. This slogan first of all-found a powerful echo in the working masses of the Ruhr; there, the fraud had been demonstrated in so evident a manner that a great part of the miners picked up this slogan and founded their own organisations, factory organizations. Next, it is true, after the best proletarian leaders of the revolution, like Rosa Luxemburg, Liebknecht, Leo Jogisches, and thousands and thousands of anonymous proletarians had fallen in the dust, Levi and his clique took the upper hand. This slogan was then transformed, reversed, because they feared the fight, because they wanted to avoid the fight against the reaction of the trade union bureaucracy. They launched the slogan of entering the trade unions, of revolutionising them from within, of conquering them.

In the course of the revolution they, have begun then to constitute cells which, when they showed themselves, were very quickly brought to report that the trade unions, taken in all their elements, could not remain one whole, but that some Ger­man federations were expelled, not only some cell members, but even some entire organisational bureaus. To have today some places where all the members who belong­ed to these cells have been expelled. Better yet some entire organisations, solidly united, were also; what is thus realised is in fact the destruction of the trade unions. When one side of the old trade union bureaucracy [… affirms?] what I said here, that is to say that the trade unions are destroyed and dispersed by this kind of activity, the comrades of the VKPD affirm then that this is not the case, that they construct cells with a view to maintaining the trade unions. They believe that you can animate with a revolutionary spirit the unions that have become the solid bas­tions of the reaction.

Comrades, it has already been said yesterday that the oppression of the Class is realised thanks to the sword and the revolver and thanks to deceit, that is to say on one side the army, on the other the trade union bureaucracy; we have likewise seen-- and on this subject there can exist no difference of opinion—that one cannot animate the standing army with a communist spirit. No more than one can make the standing army a tool of the revolution, can one make the organs of deceit -- the trade unions -- instruments of the revolution. Everywhere we see things developing like that; everywhere the development arises in this way and, because of this, the slogan of communists must not be: conquest of the trade unions, but destruction of the trade unions, and, at the same time, construction of new organisations.

Comrades, we must recognise and demonstrate from, this day on, by making a rigourous outline, the forms the proletariat needs to hold well and affirm its power after having carried off the victory. For this it is necessary, above all in the highly developed western European countries, that, from this day on and as broadly as possible, we bring the masses of proletarians to create for themselves the organs that will then be sole to direct production. Heckert said here yesterday: the cells that must cover the enterprises must be developed outside of the enterprises in organisations of industry; this goal, outlined, it is true, in a most rigourous fashion, is the goal of primary importance pursued by the associations of different tendencies that were born in the course of the revolution in Germany.

The old workers’ association of the miners, which alluded to a little while ago, showed, in its nature and the entirety of its tendency, another direction than that of the old organs of the previous period. It found itself in clear-cut struggle with reaction, with Amsterdam, and showed that it created the organs that are called on to take production into their hands. At the present time, it is true, these organs are not irreproachable, but they will become, in the course of the revolution, more pure and more solid. In these miners' associations one considered again, for example, the legal councils as revolutionary instruments. But the factory organisation of the miners also came in the course of the revolution to understand that this law on the factory councils signified the surest means to deceive them.

The General Workers’ Union of Germany which, since its origin, worked in close connection with the KAPD, has explained and recognised that the unions are taking another road today, that they must be constructed differently, that they must struggle and fight with other means. The General Workers' Union consistently opposes the means of struggle that were adopted by the trade unions in the past, in the point of its statutes that concerns adherence to the factory organisation, one finds, in the first place, as preliminary condition, the demand that members be partisans of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In these statutes it is further indicated that members must oppose the old rusty weapon of the political domain: participation in elections to parliament. It creates in its ranks, be­ginning with its organisation in the factory, the councils that must be the organs exercising power the day of the struggle and behind which the proletarian masses will stand. These councils, comrades, are not councils in the style of the counter­feit councils that we saw born in Germany at the beginning of 1919, after the revo­lution. These are not councils legalised by the capitalist state, elected on the basis of the law on factory councils and standing behind it; these are not councils that, in conformity with this law, have to look after the increase of production in the enterprises, according to which calm and order reign in the enterprise; but these are councils that are in the working masses themselves, who work themselves at the bench-vice, who fight in the front rank of the workers in the daily struggle in the factory, who express the will of the active comrades in the enterprise. These are councils that are taking root in the masses, that are showing them the road of struggle. These councils, these organs will become the organs that will really have the working masses behind them. It is necessary to create the preliminary condition so that what we saw in Germany when the working masses and the soldiers created some-councils does not happen again. In that period the proletariat did not understand the council idea, they knew nothing outside of some driblets received from Russia. And if, today, in the revolutionary epoch in which we find ourselves, we do not already prepare the councils, if we do not show the masses, in practice, the road that they must take, then there is imminent danger according to which, at the time of the corning revolutionary wave, will once again be betrayed, that the proletariat will see ­once again that we do not have the organs necessary for the consolidation of victory. That is why, comrades, we are everywhere forced to create these organs. It is not only in Germany that we see the development happening thus, we see it also in differ­ent highly developed capitalist countries. In England we see to date, the “shop stewards" lead the struggle in a relentless fashion against the trade union bureaucracy, but at the same time against the entire governmental power. Because the trade unions of the old school have become in almost every country organs of the government. They largely enjoy its protection. After the struggles in central Germany we see that in the gigantic enterprises the workers are obliged to enter the old trade union organisations; the contractor exerts pressure on the trade unions when they want to again become active within the enterprise. We see then things happen everywhere in this way. When comrades state that it will be possible to conquer these trade unions, from within, to fill them with a communist spirit, it is a heresy to which we cannot yield. We believe, and see this belief confirmed by practice, that these things are not possible. From this day on we must create organs that might enter into the fight against the bastions that support the capitalist state.

Comrades, the international workers' movement, the international communist move­ment, will have to have this principally in view, it will have to if it doesn't want to commit an error, if it sees clearly how things happen, enters upon this course, if it must be possible to hold the pow­er conquered in the capitalist countries. We see that the task of the old trade unions consists more today in disguising the contradictions that arise, in smoothing them over, in lying to the workers, in defeating them. We have doubly so the task of showing the workers in practice that it is possible to create now the practical organs that show the working masses the other road, that show what a council system means, what their task is, how they must be made. This cannot be the case within the old unions. The trade unions, as we envisage them, are structured by factory organisations in the enterprises, at the source of production, where the working masses find themselves united, where they form a great whole; there, each worker has the most chance of being involved, on the basis of the same labour, in the constitution of some workers' organisations, in such a way that he has a interest in the general development, to the body of labour itself. Comrades, this cannot happen if we create some trade unions in which there is a central dictatorship of the high towards the low. On the contrary, it is necessary that the will of the highly developed industrial working masses succeeds in echoing from the bottom to the top. The source of this force is in the enterprise itself. It is there, in the process of production, that we must lift up and train the worker, so that he becomes himself an instrument of the revo­lution. In these conditions, centralism from the top cannot be the principle of construction of the trade unions; development must happen in the reverse. We guide the body of the workers into the factory organisations. In the enterprises the workers elect their councils, their organs that represent their interests. Comrade Heckert said yesterday that we, the communist workers party, refuse to 'intervene in the questions of daily struggle, that we always have only the great goal in sight, straight off. We have the task, as communists, not of launching slogans for daily struggle amongst the working masses, but these slogans must be laid down not […?] the working masses in the factories. We always have to indicate to these working masses that the solution of these daily questions will not ease their si­tuation and that in any case it can not lead to the decline of capitalist society. As communists we have the task of always putting before the broadest masses the great goal, the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of communist so­ciety. We have, we communists, [the task?] of participating in this everyday struggle, of marching at the head of these struggles. In this way, comrades, we oppose the daily fight, but in this daily fight we place ourselves in the forefront of the masses, we always show them the path, the great goal of communism.

Such is the task of the communist party, of the communist organisations, in these workers organisations.

We know, however, that these economic organisations can easily fall into opportun­ism. We see everywhere the danger that they do not recognise the goal. We do not only see it in the German trade unions, but also in the trade unions which have al­ready broken from the central federations and struggle with some revolutionary means. We have seen it in Italy at the time of the factory occupations and in part in the IWW which fundamentally opposes the political struggle. Everywhere we see these organisations become insipid because of this, it is the task of communists to fill these trade unions with a revolutionary spirit, with the spirit of commun­ism, so that they don't fall into the road of opportunism. We also take part in all these struggles; wherever they occur, communists have the necessity and the respon­sibility of putting themselves at the head of the fight. Comrades, if we build these factory organisations, we must above all not forget to unite them in a great whole in a bloc that is constituted in a decided totality. Once these organisa­tions are unified through the country by localities and by districts, then we see the basis of the council system developing itself within capitalist society, it is possible to have the council system in its fundamental traits and to familiarize the workers with this idea in action. If we take up the struggle in this way, if we train and improve the working class in order that it may become the organ for the demolition of the capitalist state, then, comrades, we have already created the preliminary conditions in capitalist society. Then, the day of the revolution, we do not find ourselves really empty-handed, we will have familiarised the working class with the idea that we must absolutely carry to it. We must accelerate the de­velopment of these organisations, aid them in their construction and fill them with the communist spirit.

SCHULZ: What percentage of Dittman hides in these thoughts?

BERGMANN: I do not un­derstand, comrade Schulz, how we can compare this with Dittmann. When we see the organisations of different countries, united today at the international congress of red trade unions, penetrated by the same idea: force the revolution in the world, fill the masses with revolutionary spirit, destroy capitalist society, then we must find the means to assemble the most possible of these masses on a fundamental unitary line, and in such a way that it leaves the broadest margin of action in each country, conforming to its different structure. The movement is not identical in all countries, we do not observe the same tendencies or the same pos­sibilities of development. We see that the American IWW finds itself in the old trade unions; it is possible that perhaps it cannot do otherwise in America today; if they enter these trade unions, they have at the same time an organisation at their side, and this is the core of their movement.

Things are not presented in the same way in Germany today. If today the comrades of the VKPD recognise -- and according to us it will have to recognise it — that the conquest of the unions is an absurdity, that one must not go to conquer them, then it would be necessary to recognise that it is necessary to engage oneself in some other roads. If three million or two and a half million trade union members have today decided on union with Moscow, with the red trade union international, this means nothing for us, if we do not at the same time free ourselves from the hold of their leaders. This programmatic declaration, this sympathy in favour of Moscow, means nothing at all. If one does not stand today for breaking them from the old trade unions one will see the members who have decided themselves for Moscow – it’s true, by means of ballot-papers or raised hands — follow the call of the trade un­ion monks and their leaders the day of the fight. This is what we see, comrade Heckert, at Chemnitz where you live, and if you are of another opinion, give some supporting evidence. Comrades, things are being developed rapidly. If we are of the opinion that the revolution is unfolding, we must, without reservation, take up the action. In the contrary case the revolution will surprise us. The simple declaration of a part of the members of the trade unions for union is no evidence for us that the masses have been revolutionised by the cell tactic. You must still give us other evidence.

The revolutionisation of the trade unions in the countries where they have become the firm support of capitalism is today an absurdity. To believe that one could accomplish this is to miss at the first throw. The 9 to 10 millions trade unionized Germans could, if they were revolutionised, if they constituted the organ of the revolution, effectively take power today; they could, if we had them on our side, profit by the situation, each day, at each hour, in order to destroy capital­ist society in Germany, to fire the revolution there and, thereby, to push the world revolution forward. We see these organs fail everywhere, and they must fail, and because of this, in the interest and service of the revolution, we must, call for their destruction. As we have had to destroy, to crush the political parties of the pre-revolutionary period, so we must destroy the organs of economic organisa­tion, the trade unions, before coming to the victory of the revolution.

Comrades, if the destruction of the trade unions, if the struggle in the trade un­ions in the highly developed capitalist countries has not shown enough violence up to now, if today on our side the accent is not placed enough on that, it is be­cause the beginning of the revolution took more of a political than economic character. We see at the present time that the economic question is placed a little more on the primary plane, that the economic basis of the struggle arises in a sharper way, and because of this decomposition and destruction more take the upper hand in the trade unions. In England and in Germany, although the trade union bureaucrats may be covered at least in proportion to their sins as the political parties of the pre-revolutionary period, we see that the decomposition of the trade unions has not progressed as quickly, because the demand for their destruction has not been put forward in as strong a way. Comrades, I do not want to put forward that thereby the political organizations have already fulfilled their tasks. I would not want it to seem like that. But we see everywhere, as I said be­fore, that the economic question attains a more elevated degree, that it pushes it­self onto the primary level. The trade unions of the pre-revolutionary epoch cannot resolve the tasks of the revolution, whence their destruction.

Comrades, we find ourselves, on the subject of the trade union question, in open disagreement with the majority of comrades present or represent­ed here. If we have arrived at this conception, if we hold on strongly to this thought, it is not because it is an idea that has no basis for us, but because through the march of the revolution in German and also in other countries -- pre­sently in England —- we have seen that we must create, even now, organs that will be called to take charge of production. We find ourselves on this terrain: in the service of the revolution, for its continued development; and we must regain there, we must persevere in this viewpoint if we do not want the revolution to regress in these countries. From the given economic situation of a country we recognise things such as they occur; we draw our conclusions and we act in conformity with them. If we see the situation in such a precise way, if we recognise it and organise our­selves in this manner, we can really render some revolutionary service, really create the organs that on the day of the revolution will be the bastion on which the dictatorship of the proletariat can be erected. It will not be otherwise; this is not leaving the old counter-revolutionary organisations in existence and seeking to decomposing them from within, but in creating new organs for the destruction of capitalism and, at the same time, of construction of communism that the victory of the revolution will have assured.

Archived from the Wage Slave X website

Part 3: Discussion of Trotsky's Report on the World Economic Situation

Interventions by delegates of the KAPD at the Third Congress of the Communist International in response to Trotsky's report on the world economic situation.

Submitted by waslax on July 15, 2009

SACHS(Alexander Schwab): The expositions that I have to give here do not simply concern comrade Trotsky's discourse here; they concern, all the same, if not more so, the theses that he jointly presented with comrade Varga. In my opinion and that of the friends of my party, these theses are not the appropriate document for representing the way in which the Communist Interna­tional considers the world economic situation today, and, in connection with it, the political situation. We believe that these theses need a fundamental revision if they are to walk through the world under the name and responsibility of the Communist International. If the point of departure of these theses derives – and we will have to recognise informally — from the necessity to polemicize with the reconstructers of the 2nd International and of the 2 ½ International, this does not mean that to simply reprove, on its own account, the alternative of the reconstructors has been an effectively correct and polemically successful idea. This alternative — reconstruction of capitalism or collapse of capitalism – has been renewed in the manner of posing the problem at the beginning of the theses. We have certainly seen here in detail, as comrade Trotsky — and all those here who will be, I think, in agreement with him – produced, the relationships between, on the one side, the minor crises and minor periods of cyclical and momentary
progress, and, on the other side, the problem of the progress and decline of capitalism, envisaged over great historical periods. We will all be in agreement that the great curve that was going to the top now goes irresistibly to the bot­tom, and that within this great curve, when it was going up as well as now that it descends, oscillations occurred.

But what has not been expressed in these theses, what has not found a well-moulded formulation in them, is exactly the fundamentally different character of this epoch of decline vis-a-vis the previous epoch of progress of capitalism considered in its totality. The theses in their presentation, in their economic examination of the situation, start from the basis of national wealth (or else the wealth in property in the world) and of the question of productivity. These are certainly some important and decisive viewpoints for the well-being of men, of the labouring masses. But for the analysis that we have to conduct, this viewpoint is not sufficient. It must be completed, I might even say surpassed, by the superior viewpoint that the economy, today more than ever, is not directed towards production, but towards profit, and that production is only the fortuitous result, only the means to the goal: profit. The characteristic of this decadent epoch of capitalism considered in its totality, disregarding any particular oscillations, is that the character of profit economy, the character of class struggle of this economy itself is reaffirmed in a manner doubly more accentuated than in the epoch of its flowering; the importance of these characteristics finds its level in the epoch when capitalism was beginning to build itself. And if one wants to express this fact to agitational ends, that is to say in an exacerbated and accentuated fashion, but also in an easily verifiable fashion, then he must say that even now capital is reconstructing itself, that it preserves its profit, but at the expense of productivity. This rebuilding of the power of capital which is something different from, almost opposite to the reconstruction of the economy, this set-up of the power of capital, which can only be paid for naturally by the large masses of the population. For what is reconstructed is only the solid kernel of capital, that is, in short, the great monopolies of heavy and extractive industry.

It is after all the great monopolies of heavy industry that constitute the stronghold of capital for the simple reason that all the other capitalists, all the other industries depend more or less on their deliveries. For the hardest kernel of cap­ital it no longer arises today, in the goal of preserving profit, to produce reg­ularly, to get capital to make its rotation according to the slow and regular rhythm of normal production, and to extract profit by this process; what is essen­tially at stake for them, is monopoly profit. This is the second characteristic of the economic situation in the descending period of capitalism. Monopoly profit has become preponderant. It is the proletariat that pays the cost of this recon­struction of the hard kernel of the capitalist edifice. To be sure, large layers of the bourgeoisie also bear the expenses of the situation, these being the industries that depend on the deliveries of raw materials, that are not connected to the monopolies of Stinnes, Thyssen, etc. or else the industries where this monopoly of raw materials can not find any profitable valorisation. Thus some factories are placed in abeyance, others are forced into partial unemployment. Gold, even if the individual capitalist very often cannot escape the loss and is thus cast aside, we nevertheless knew that capital itself can always escape this lot, as much as the capitalist form of economy subsists in its fundamental forms. But what it cannot be saved from is after all the proletariat. And if we consider the present unemployment figures in Germany, England and America, we must, I think, see that it no longer arises from the industrial reserve army as in former times. At, the bottom of the expression "industrial reserve army" is found the idea that the masses of unemployed used to be able to be occasionally called back by capital into the process of production; in part in order to put pressure on the wage-labourers still working. But with the present unemployment figures this idea is absurd. The masses of unemployed are not a reserve army, they are without labour, in great part, in order to perish by inches, to die of hunger, not solely themselves, but also their descendants. Capital does not openly starve people, but this occurs under the masked and attenuated form of unemployment benefits, unemployment benefits of which it used to be promised would have a destructive action on capital. Unemployment benefits have today become a means of masking the real state of things, have therefore become a defense of capital.

On the subject of unemployment benefits I want to point out that the theses also completely leave out an essential point. That is the role that the financial apparatus of the state plays today, and today more than before. The state finances whose present action consists in a large part in creating a detour, a series of outside markets that render the fleecing of the working masses and the popular masses in general by the masters of the monopolies less visible. Of course the payment of taxes, of particular taxes can be refused. At least it has been up till now. It still remains to be examined whether the old theoretical dispositions on the refusal of tax payment meet in all details with the present predominance of monopolist tendencies. At any rate, even if there are some taxes whose payment can be refused, it remains a fact that the finances have today three quarters realised their goal through detours, camouflages, outside markets, the pillage of the large masses by the capitalist monopoly, and this is the means employed in order to avoid the more difficult direct means. And when comrade Trotsky says that the most ruined states will sooner or later have to proclaim bankruptcy, and when, in the theses as well, the perspective of state bankruptcy is posed in very clear terms, there is, I believe, a very great error. Who would have an in­terest in the state bankruptcy of the prostrate countries, the weakest countries, whose financial situation is the worst? Who are the debtors, who are the creditors? There are two groups of creditors. The one is some private capitalists who have in their hands state bills, the others are the governments who want to receive war indemnities. The private capitalists have absolutely no interest in any bankruptcy that may be. For — as the theses also say — state bankruptcy introduces a strug­gle for a new division of the national wealth. The capitalists, who dominate the greatest part of the national wealth, or who, at least, control it, have no interest in unleashing this struggle, they have on the contrary an interest in suppressing it. Moreover they find the satisfaction of their requirements under other forms. Of course this is not seen in the totality of the figures that are marked as credit and debit in the account books. And this is a point on which I should want to stand in opposition to comrade Brand (Delegate of the Polish Communist Party). It is true that all the interests that exist today, as state or private title, can not be paid to the last penny, as is written on the right and the left of the account books. That isn't important. Today capitalism is no longer in a period where it must take into account absolute figures that go to infinity. It is today in a period where everything for it reverts to conserving power, if only in a rel­ative way and being able to satisfy its interests, while the interests of the large masses are not.

And if one must climb down in the accounts, if for a longtime still one cannot re­ceive everything and if credit terms must be postponed, all this is not important for the capitalists who hold the reins of power in their hands; this for them is completely equable; what counts for them is winning the class struggle, is main­taining the economy as class struggle. That is why I think that if private capi­talists have no interest in state bankruptcy — and they have no interest — this bankruptcy will not occur. For the ministers and secret councillors must there be an interest? This will not be the case. And the creditor states who perhaps have an interest. But again these are not the states -- who, seen from an economic point of view, hardly exist -- these are not the states, but the capitalists of the creditor states, who have to decide whether or not they must push for the bankruptcy of the debtor states, Germany and Austria. But it is very doubtful that these capitalists have an interest in state bankruptcy. The comrade who will speak after me will show that the capitalists obtain the satisfaction of the requirements in a completely different manner.

If I have said that capital, taken from the point of view of domestic policy, has reconstructed itself economically, that is to say preserved its profit in a concentrated nucleus of capitalist power, I can still add that the state pow­er no longer plays the same role vis-a-vis capital as in the past. Comrade Seeman will be able to say more things on this subject because they appear more distinctly at the international stage than at the national stage.

SEEMAN(Bernhard Reichenbach): Comrades, the developments by comrade Sachs, as well as the critique he has made of the theses that we must adopt, have shown that a new era is beginning to happen. The question for the capitalists is quite clear: we find ourselves in a catastrophic crisis of the world economy, how one can suc­ceed in parrying this crisis whose equivalent we have never seen and to at­tain a stabilisation and a reconstruction of the capitalist world economic appa­ratus. At the same time it appears that these new realities, the reality of new economic relations, such as have never yet existed, have themselves also found their new form. It appears that capitalism has completely conceived the difficulty of the task and of the struggle and is opposed to us with new means of struggle that we must correctly analyse in order to be able to do what Trotsky demands almost at the beginning of his theses: "We have to decide if a revision of the program or tactic of the Communist International is necessitated by the situation". In ef­fect it is an unfortunately irrefutable fact that capitalism has again become ev­erywhere the master of the situation, and this not only on the national scale but also on the international scale; and already the national scale and the interna­tional scale find themselves completely intermixed. The network of the Versailles peace begins to unravel and is reduced to its realisable possibilities. How can capitalism go about it then? “We know quite rightly that the process of impover­ishment of the last five years cannot be surpassed for capitalism if it does not happen at the expense of the labouring masses. This fact is at the bottom of the capitalist tactic of reconstruction. Capitalism has understood that all 'national limitations, all chauvinism and national imperialism (phenomena that are, as it were, inherent to its nature) must for the moment be relegated to the second rank, that it must fight the enemy in resolute fashion, and this enemy is the proletariat, is the most advanced, the most active part of the proletariat, repre­sented by the communists. Naturally it is perfectly exact, and it remains always exact, that the capitalist economy must sooner or later be destroyed. But we do not absolutely have to consider this truth which goes by itself. That would mean that we do nothing different than the Independents and the majoritary socialists. For that we have no need of a world communist congress. The question that we must resolutely deal with, is the following: how we smash capitalism, how we conduct this process, in what manner we must conduct it in order that in the process the proletariat keeps the reins in its hands. The capitalists have thus recognised that the principal enemy is not the competitor but the proletar­iat. They have recognised that the community of interests between the capitalist states is so great that it must also determine the tactic of the capitalists. And this is already a fact through the international interlacing of the economy. In the first place by the fact that in the broadest measure, English, French and American capital is invested in the German trusts in which the German national ec­onomy has already been reassembled. Things are already so advanced that objective­ly and subjectively the English or French capitalist desires that the capitalist reconstruction of Germany succeed. When one has 25 or 30% share in a business, he desires that this business trample on his feet. Now it is true that every pro­cess of national or international capitalist concentration bears within itself the germ of its death, in the very fact that is the foundation of capitalist economy in general, in the fact that profit-egoist interests are at the base of all private economy. For this concentration itself is based on a confluence of private egoist interests. That the coming world political conflict takes place between England and America, we consider, with Trotsky, as likely. But we do not believe that this may be the immediately next stage. In any case we do not think that one can foresee this conflict with a mathematical precision. At first this is the case, make that the question: war or no war depends always on imponderables which become decisive at the last moment, fortuitous phenomena that nothing foreshadows for the moment. But before all other things, this blow is not yet ready to be brought about for quite another reason. It is not yet towards this that we communists must direct our attention. It is rather properly towards the fight that is directed against the proletariat.

What leads the capitalist economy to become a communitary economy of intergrown interests, is the fact that everyone can relatively gain a lot. This pressure that weighs on these capitalists, these reunited capitalists, searches for a safety-valve. Russia made part of these safety-valves. And it seems to us that not enough account has been taken of this in the theses. The safety-valve that appears nearest to us is Russia; this is the problem for the Eastern European states. East European capital wants to realise the reconstruc­tion of Russia. And Russia is above all for a certain time indeed the safety-valve where the outlets necessary to capitalism were created.

Our task is to investigate how Russia attains its reconstruction. Russia has the [task] to realise its reconstruction with the aid of the capitalist states, this would only be because the proletariat has left it in the lurch for three years. We must seek to achieve a synthesis between Russia, its legitimate vital interests, and the task which consists of not harming revolutionary thought and progress in creat­ing this outlet for capital. We would go too far if we spoke on this here, in full meeting, and at this point on the agenda. But this is a fact, of which we have proof, that the tendency of the unified capitalists is directed toward this goal. The fact of a community of interest of the great English indus­tries that are united under the protection of the English government is one ex­ample. Likewise for the conclusion of the negotiations between the English capi­talist directors and the German trust magnates. The object of this common labour is already fixed. This object is soviet Russia. It will be necessary to speak on this at another time and in a more detailed manner.

I will point that the theses have for their function what Trotsky said at the be­ginning, but which he didn't touch in the final account, that is to say, to con­sider in a clear and incisive way the tactic of the Communist International in consequence of this economic basis for the fight. Naturally it is not the task of this meeting to speak on tactics, but this report must as it is give an approxi­mative direction. One would have to take into due consideration the fact that capital has found new forms in its struggle against the proletariat, in which it has apparently adapted itself to the proletariat, for example the factory councils, the election of factory councillors to the administration councils, things which no one would have thought even a few years ago. Faced with these new methods of struggle by capital, new forms of organisation, new methods of vigorous struggle must be opposed by the proletariat's side, in order to sup­press this attack which has opened up against it.

This is why we propose to not yet conclude on these theses, through dis­cussions that will take place today and tomorrow, and to return these theses once again to the commission. It will perhaps be possible that comrade Trotsky take part in this session in order that we examine some complements to his work, but we do not want to only criticize, but, on the contrary, to furnish an excellent material on the whole of the economic situation. We know what inspired application is hidden in this work. Perhaps then the commission that has been charged can once again occupy itself with these theses. I ask that this proposal be approved.

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Part 4: Discussion of Lenin's Report on the Tactics of the Russian Communist Party

Interventions by delegates of the KAPD at the Third Congress of the Communist International in 1921 in response to Lenin's report on the tactics of the Russian Communist Party

Submitted by waslax on July 15, 2009

HEMPEL(Jan Appel): It is first necessary that I ask something of comrade Radek who is appar­ently absent (cries: he is there). I ask comrade Radek to spare us his jokes in identifying us with the Mensheviks, because these jokes when they become repeated often become ridiculous. Next, comrades, comrade Radek has invited us to respond to the question: Is Russian policy correct for Russia and for the International? We say briefly on this subject: whether the internal policy of the RCP is cor­rect the Russian comrades can judge themselves. We were of the opinion that the tactics that the Russian comrades are following in their country are correct. Today, after comrade Kollontai has spoken, we learn that it is necessary to agree to strive more to raise the initiative of the workers, in order not to be forced to make so many concessions to the capitalists. If the state of things is as comrade Kollontai has described it, we must say that it is a fault of the Rus­sian policy. We say this because we have for Germany and for Western Europe another conception of the party dictatorship of the proletariat. According to our conception, it's true, the dictatorship was correct in Russia, because of the Russian situation, because there weren't sufficient forces, sufficiently developed forces within the proletariat and that the dictatorship must be exercised more by the top. But when we see some efforts emerge today within the Russian proletariat, when we see it want to also contribute itself to the development, then it is necessary to support these efforts, it is necessary to take notice of these thrusts upward; in this way one has a force that supports the proletarian dictatorship even more than foreign capital. If we turn this force to the widest account we will have less greater concern to make concessions to the capitalists.

Secondly, it is necessary to examine the question of knowing how the Russian policy acts on the International. In this case we say: at this moment, it is true, we can­not yet see if the path taken is totally false. But we see that the preparations that are made are false, and this is what it is necessary to analyse.

The question is: are the comrades in Russia supermen, are they men who can detach themselves from the relationships of forces, or are there actions even determined by the things that surround them? This is what we must examine. For us then, it is uninteresting to criticise; but we see the error and also the fact that it will grow and that it will have to grow. Comrade Trotsky said it clearly and it is in this way that we intend it also: to gain time. Everything depends on whether the vanguard succeeds in surpassing, whether we succeed in surpassing this state of uncertainty as comrade Lenin said. Because then will come the aid of the world rev­olution or of the revolution of some country. And this vanguard, this state power, can it survive this state of uncertainty? Such is the question. Trotsky responds from another side: we come to nought if we do not take this so simple path, that is to say which consists in making concessions to the petty bourgeoisie (which means petty capitalism) on one side, and to foreign capitalism on the other (which means state capitalism). This is the necessity. Who can refrain from doing a thing, when only this thing is possible? But if one does this, can one at the same time remain communist? Will one be as solid as this? Well, now I want to get back to the core of things. Will this communist party be able to survive doing this if it lasts for a year or some years? Will this party re­main what it is today? Won't it have, for any cause whatever, a great interest in not carrying the revolution beyond? For this means a new poverty. If the revolu­tion breaks out in Germany, it will last perhaps one year or more; then we will not be able to aid Russia. We must think it over; the entire population and with it the Russian party has gotten used to the reconstruction, to a period of rest, of stability, of security. How this goes in itself! This population will rise up against the dominant state power if troubles return, if commercial relations cease, if poverty revives. This is how the question presents itself. Consequently, it is proven that there is a need for revolutionary rest with the broad masses, a need for rest after the revolution. This already becomes perceptible, and later this will have an influence on the communist party. It must be taken into account. I ask if it will then be strong enough.

I now deal with other things. We know that the economy is put out of order when one charges oneself with the reconstruction of capitalism; this brings into each country an enormous corruption, as that which we witness today in Germany. We wit­ness then the black market which rages here also. We have heard more talk of many things, reaching and striking within the communist party, and against which some valuable people, like Lenin and Trotsky, are impotent. There is the great danger. It must not be lost from view. That is whv, we sav it is in the interest of the Russian revolution, of the world revolution and of communism that this state of uncertainty not last too long. We will arrive there quickly. We put ourselves almost in agreement in the matter. We will see how to attain an acceleration. The Russian comrades lack a comprehension of things as they happen in western Eur­ope. The Russian comrades reckon with a population such as they have in Russia. The Russians endured a long tsarist domination, they are hard and solid, whereas with us the proletariat is penetrated by parliamentarism and is completely infested with it. In Europe it is a question of doing something else. It’s a question of barring the road to opportunism (cries: Scheidemannian theory}. Absurdity! this is not a Scheidemannian theory! Since when does Scheidemann want to bar the route to opportunism? It's a question of barring the evasion of opportunism from the prole­tarian fighters, from the communist parties, who must struggle in the front line, and opportunism with us is the utilisation of bourgeois institutions in the econom­ic domain; same thing for the attempt to use the consumers' co-operatives as a means of struggle to aid Russia, not with revolutionary means, but with the means of cap­italism, insofar as the proletariat is inclined. Yes, comrades, what does this sig­nify? On acts over the international proletariat? When you propose to your consum­ers' co-operatives to enter into commercial relations with Russia, are you then do­ing something for Russia? No, nothing. The consumers' co-operatives must, exactly like any other entrepreneur., reckon with capitals. With them it will come even dear­er. This will lead away from the right path. This is the central point. The 3rd Internationa1 must see to it that Russia may not be pushed from outside by capitalist means, but by the proletariat, with revolutionary means. There is the central point. And this will not be brought about by adopting the tactics that the Third Interna­tional gives itself. We call for a harder line (Hilarity)The comrades can well laugh. Comrade Lenin laughs also, we can say no more. Such is our honest conviction. (Inter­ruption: comrade Bukharin will tell why we laugh). Each can laugh. I want once again to point out this point that in Germany, in all the countries of the world, coming after the prolonged development of democracy, democracy that is not revolu­tionary, the working class and with it the great mass communist party, in which even opportunist elements are found, without any further ado, takes the road that consists of not using difficult means, and it uses parliamentarism, the trade unions and other means in order to aid Russia. But this is not an aid; it is a deviation from the struggle. Trotsky says now: to leave this state of uncertainty as quickly as possible. Then I come to the second point: the danger that is there, if one does not exert oneself, by all means, to offer the least possibilities to foreign capitalists to expand here, if one does not attentively keep watch and if one does not allow the proletarians to control. The danger, is that the Soviet Union, in our opinion, will then run into a situation, in quite a different manner than what Trotsky thinks, that will see international capitalism rise on the martyrdom of the international proletariat. It will not rise so as to be totally healed, but in such a way that it takes more time to drag on. The policy of the Third Interna­tional must be to render this period, this development of capitalism im­possible. This can be done through the sabotage of production in the factories. We naturally don't speak of the destruction of the means of production; it's a question of not making things profitable for the capitalists. Such is the task of the prole­tarians of the entire world in order to advance the revolution in a very short time. For it is also true that the revolution is born of the poverty of the work­ing population.

Thus, comrades, what we have to say to the 3rd International, is that the Russian party must more and more recognise the dangers and express them. Then it becomes less important. The Russian party must be conscious that it is the foundation of the Third International and that the other parties have absolutely no possibility, nei­ther intellectual, nor material, to go against it. One sees in this that no opinion can be raised here against the Russian comrades. The latter must thus see and recog­nise that they are themselves more and more constrained, by the course of things — we say it one last time -- to lead their Russian state policy towards the right; they are no longer supermen, and they need a counterweight, and this counterweight must be a third international liquidating all tactics of compromise, parliamentarism and old trade unions.

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Part 5: Declaration Presented at the Conclusion of the Interventions of the KAPD

Declaration presented at the conclusion of the interventions by delegates of the KAPD at the Third Congress of the Communist International in 1921.

Submitted by waslax on July 15, 2009

We protest with extreme firmness the attempt to put us in the same sack as the Dittmanns and Serratis by means of some quotations taken out of context. We do not disregard for a moment the difficulties in which the soviet power finds itself due to the fact of the slowness of the world revolution; but we are at the same time conscious of the risk that with all these difficulties, a contradiction be­tween the world revolutionary proletariat and the momentary interests of soviet Russia not result — apparent or real contradiction.

In a commission meeting it was declared that it wasn't necessary to consider the 3rd International as an instrument of the soviet power, but that the latter was only the strongest bastion of the 3rd International. We also, we think that it must be like that. But we consider that when any contradictions arise between the vital interests of the soviet power and those of the 3rd International, it is a must to have it out openly and fraternally within the International.

Concerning the practical solidarity towards soviet Russia, we have always carried out our duties because they were a matter of course. For example, the celebration of the anniversary of October through demonstrations, the most important participation in the assistance to the imprisoned soldiers of the Red Army, preparation of a solidarity action in August 1920 (the latter having failed through the fault of the USPD and the Communist Party). The demonstrations of solidarity with soviet Russia were one of the determining motives of our party when it decided to adhere to the 3rd International, despite its very grave apprehensions concerning the tactics of this organisation.

We remain on this line, but everywhere and always we offer the hardest resistance when we observe that the policy of soviet Russia has as its effect a reformist practice on the part of the 3rd International. We are convinced that such reformism contradicts the real interests of Soviet Russia as much as those of the world proletariat.


1) The 21 conditions of the 2nd congress are even less capable in the future than
up to now of creating any one guarantee against reformist putrefaction.

2) After the creation and admission of great mass parties, the 3rd International
needs the presence of a purely proletarian revolutionary opposition more than ever.

3) Such an opposition will not be built if it is crushed by the apparatus and electorate of a party that wants to unite the masses behind it at any price (and in principle) and which can thus only be necessarily opportunist and reformist.

4) As far as its principles, the United Communist Party (VKPD), in particular, today remains on the terrain of Paul Levi. The left wing is at best imprisoned by a fatal self-deceit.

5) In conclusion, at the present time, in all the parties of the Comintern some currents connected to the KAPD are being formed, but they cannot continue to develop themselves in the interest of the proletarian revolution and the International if the KAPD can remain as an independent party within the CI.

For all these reasons we propose:

That the congress decide the maintenance of the adherence of the KAPD to the CI as a sympathising organization.


The theses presented for a vote by the 3rd Congress are the consequence and even intensified continuation of the fundamental line of the 2nd congress, as well as of the policy followed up to now by the Executive Committee. They leave the traitorous intelligentsias of the opportunists and reformists of all countries an unlimited field of action in their work of mystification, particularly if one takes them in relation to the theses on the world economic situation.

One introduces a confusion that contradicts the idea of revolution itself. Any line of clear demarcation from the Hilferdings is erased; one abandons all organic relationship with the reality of modern class struggle.

The so-called left of the Congress, pushed by the revolutionary workers who find themselves behind it, undertook some weak attempts to correct the tactic­al theses. These attempts have been rightly opposed by the majority as inconsequential. They most certainly testify to a good will to raise revolutionary activi­ty; but they do not take into account the concrete conditions of the struggle; they attack neither the bourgeois parliamentary foundation of the 21 conditions, nor the global tendency of the theses which this foundation subtends; these attempts have thereby become an obstacle to a later elucidation.

The preparation of the victory of the proletarian revolution in the capitalist countries can only be made in the struggles themselves. These struggles are necessarily born of the fact of the economic and political attacks of capital. The communist party cannot set these struggles in motion; it can no longer refuse the fight, or else it sabotages the preparation of victory. In the long run it can only obtain the leadership of these struggles if it opposes to all the illu­sions of the masses, the full clarity of the goal and of the methods of struggle. It is only thus that it can become, through a dialectical process, the core of crystallisation of revolutionary combatants who, in the course of the struggle, obtain the confidence of the masses.

By opposing ourselves – as inferred by this declaration — to the adoption under any possible forms of the theses on tactics, we refer to the theses that we have presented on the role of the party in the proletarian revolution.


The delegation of the KAPD has submitted the results of the Congress to a new ex­amination; besides what concerns the decision that it must make vis-a-vis the deci­sion of the congress that demands in an ultimative fashion the dissolution of the KAPD into the VKPD, what concerns our relationship with the 3rd International. Fully conscious of the gravity of the responsibilities that it takes, the delegation, un­animously, made the following conclusions:

The tactical struggle against the KAPD during the congress has been carried out from the beginning under the forms of a struggle against an adversary whose arguments must not be appreciated as to their essential features and whose existence as a political factor must be annihilated under the pretext of discipline:

To this correspond the following facts:

1. The participants of the congress have been given, for several weeks, a complete­ly false image of the KAPD, by some distorting articles in the Russian press, in the "Communist International" and in the journal of the Congress. While our fundamental statements and our rectifications were not printed.

2. The manner in which the congress has been conducted has resulted in our having been permanently obliged to give only a fragmentary expression of our posi­tions. That this tactic was maturely reflected comes out in a particularly clear way in the fact that we were not even given the possibility of writing a review or quite simply a complementary review on the affair that interests us directly, the question of the KAPD. Which has constrained us not to speak in order to not make ourselves involuntary accomplices in a farce.

3. As foundation of the ultimatum that has been addressed to us, a so-called resolution of the Executive Committee was brought to the knowledge of the congressists. And this although the Executive Committee would not itself be occupied with this matter at any of its sessions, although it had not heard us and it had not, a fortiori, been able to take a decision on this problem.

4. For some weeks the question of the KAPD has been considered as one of the last questions on the agenda, and as a subject to look at autonomously; well, it was not even solely discussed in particular with us in view of the report of the Executive Committee (second point on the agenda); it was settled by a "decision". It thus came to the hoped for result: to bias the judgment of the congress before it risked looking into our positions in the course of the debates on the principled questions.

The formal aspect of this behavior is in strict keeping with the political line in which the 3rd International evolved under the determinant influence of the Russian comrades. The course of the congress has demonstrated it: the political line of Paul Levi has prevailed, the formal recognition of the "March Action" has been re­vealed as "freedom of revolution”.

The Czechoslovak party has been admitted as a section of full practice, but without any real guarantee and on the basis of empty promises. Its chief opportunist Smeral has been timorously indulged. As for the Italian Socialist Party, which concludes an agreement with the fascists, one has conducted oneself in an obliging way and by losing oneself in details. The participation on principle in the bourgeois parliament has been maintained, despite the sad experiences that have been made, in Germany, Austria, France, etc. and although the caricatures of this so-called revolutionary parliamentarism have been seen in the activity. By reaffirming the fatal policy of work in the old trade unions, you have given in, in spite of all the phrases, before Amsterdam, you have supported the capitalist dupery of economic parliamentarism. The congress has even supported the ridiculous idea of the revolutionisation of the consumers' co-operatives without flinching.

All this testifies that you continue to follow the path entered into at the 2nd congress, that you continue to be on the wrong track: from revolution to reformism, from the sphere of struggle to the tactics of diplomacy, to traffickings, and the illusory faking of contradictions. All these examples justify the protest against the adoption of the theses on tactics which we have given to be published in the minutes.

These are some facts that one must have in view when one considers the resolution demanding our dissolution into the VKPD, and one must recognise that this ultimatum is totally unacceptable for the KAPD. This reunification would mean subordin­ating ourselves to the discipline of a decomposing party, in which reformism has gotten the upper hand under the influence of the congress. We would be gagged by an organisational apparatus (press, finances, leadership cliques) which has been set against us; all hope of having a saving influence in such a party would be deprived

of a real foundation. The attitude of the delegation flows itself from all of these facts. Even without a special order on the part of the party:

It unanimously rejects the ultimatum that calls on it to fuse with the VKPD.

We do not declare the exit of the KAPD from the 3rd International, although we have full power to act in the name of our party. Our comrades will speak for themselves. They will give their response to the pretention that you have had to make them march with others on the path of reformism and opportunism. The international proletariat will hear this response.

Our decision has been taken with full consciousness of its gravity. We are fully conscious of our responsibility towards the German workers, towards Soviet Russia, towards the world revolution. The revolution will not allow itself to be bound hand and foot by a congress resolution. It lives, it goes its path, we go with it, we follow our path, in its service.


Delegation of the KAPD

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