Open Letter



Having brought forward the general theor­et­ical bases, I will now proceed to prove, also by practice, that the Left Wing in Germany and England is right in general principles – on the quest­ions of the Trade Unions and of parli­a­ment­arism.

First we will take the quest­ion of the Trade Unions.

As parli­a­ment­arism embodies the spiritual, thus the Trade Union move­ment embodies the material power of the leaders over the masses of the work­ers. Under capi­tal­ism the Trade Unions constitute the natural organ­isations for uniting the prole­tariat, and as such Marx, already from the very beginning, has demonstrated their importance. Under a more developed capi­tal­ism, and to a greater extent even in the age of imperi­alism, the Trade Unions have ever more become gigantic unions, with a trend of develop­ment, equal to that of the bour­ge­ois State bodies them­selves. They have prod­uced a class of officials, a bureaucracy, that cont­rols all the engines of power of the organ­isation, the finances, the press, the appoint­ment of lower officials; often it is invested with even greater power, so that from a servant of the rank and file, it has become the master, identifying itself with the organ­isation. The Trade Unions can be compared to the State and its bureau­cracy, also in this: that, notwith­standing the demo­cracy that is supp­osed to reign there, the members are unable to enforce their will against the bureau­cracy; every revolt is broken against the cleverly constructed apparatus of official ordnances and stat­utes, before it has been able even to shake the highest regions.

Only the most tenacious perseverance over several years can obtain even a moderate result, which mostly remains restricted to a change of persons. In the last few years, before and after the war, in England, Ger­many, and America, this often gave rise to rebellions of the members, who started strikes on their own account, against the will of the leaders, or the decrees of the union itself. That this should seem natural, and be accepted as such, is an indication in itself that the organ­isation does not represent the totality of the members, but something alto­gether foreign to them; and the work­ers do not control their union, but that the union is placed over them as an out­side power against which they can rebel – a power which, all the same, has its origin in them­selves: again, therefore, an analogy with the State. Once the revolt is over, the old domination begins again. In spite of the hatred and impotent exasperation of the masses, this domination man­ages to main­tain itself, owing to the indiff­er­ence and lack of clear insight, and of a united, indomitable will in the masses, and upheld as it is by the inner need for the Trade Unions, the only means the work­ers have to gain strength through unity, in their struggle against capital.


Waning of TU Influence

Fighting against capital, in a constant oppos­ition against its tendency of increas­ing misery, and enabling the working class, through the restrict­ion of these tend­encies, to keep in existence the Trade Union move­ment, has play­ed its part under capi­tal­ism, and has thus become itself a member of capit­al­ist society. It is only at the beginning of the revo­lution, when the prole­tariat, from a member of capit­al­ist society, is turned into the annihil­ator of this society, that the Trade Union finds itself in oppos­ition to the prole­tariat.

That which Marx and Lenin demonstrated for the State: that its organ­isation, in spite of formal democracy, makes it impossible to turn it into an instrument of the prole­tarian revo­lution, must also hold good therefore for the Trade Union organ­isations. Their counter-revo­lutionary power cannot be destroyed or weak­ened through a change of staff, through the replacing of reactionary leaders by radical or revo­lutionary elements.

It is the form of organ­isation that renders the masses as good as power­less, and pre­vents them from turning the Trade Unions into the org­ans of their will. The revo­lution can triumph only if it comple­tely destroys this organ­isation: that is to say, if it alters the form of organ­isation so fund­a­mentally as to turn it into something altogether diff­erent. The Soviet syst­em, the construction from within, is not only able to uproot and abolish the State, but also the Trade Union bureau­cracy: it will consti­tute not only the new poli­ti­cal organs of the prole­tariat as opposed to capi­tal­ism, but like­wise the found­ation for the new Trade Unions. In the party factions in Germany, the idea of a form of organ­isation being revo­lut­ionary has been mocked at, because it is only the revo­lutionary sentiment, the revo­lut­ionary mind of the members, that matters. How­ever, if the most important part of the revo­lution consists in the masses conduct­ing their own concerns – the control of society and production – then every form of organ­isation that does not allow the masses to rule and to guide for them­selves, must needs be counter-rev­o­­lutionary and harmful, and as such it must be replac­ed by another form, which is revo­lutionary in so far as it allows the work­ers to decide matters for themselves.

Through their very nature the Trade Unions are useless arms for the West-European revo­lution! Apart from the fact that they have become tools of capi­tal­ism, and that they are in the hands of traitors, apart from the fact that through their nature they are bound to make slaves of the mem­bers, no matter what the leaders may be, they are also unfit for use generally.


The Harder Task of Europe

The Trade Unions are too weak in the contest against the most highly-organ­ised capi­tal in West­ern-European States. These latter are powerful: the uni­ons are not. To a great extent the Trade Unions are Professional Unions as yet, which cannot make a revo­lution, if it were for that fact alone. And in so far as they are indust­rial unions, they are not founded on the factories, on the workshops them­selves, and are conse­quently weak. Also they are more uni­ons for mutual aid than for struggle, dating as they do from the days of the small bour­ge­oisie. Even before the revo­lution, their organ­isation was already inadequate for the struggle; for the Revo­lution itself it cannot serve at all – in West­ern Europe. For the factories, the work­ers in the factories, make the revo­lution, not in the industries and profess­ions, but in the work­shops. More­­over, these unions are far too slow-working, complicated instru­ments, good only for the evolutionary period. Even if the revo­lution should not succeed right away, and we had once more to revert to peaceful action for a while, the Trade Unions would have to be destroyed and replaced by indust­rial unions, on a basis of indust­rial or work­shop organ­isation. And with these miserable Trade Uni­ons, that must be done away with in any case, they want to make the revo­lution! The work­ers in West­ern Europe need WEAP­ONS for the revo­lut­ion. The only weapons for the revo­lution in West­ern Europe are Indust­rial Organ­isations. And these united into ONE big whole!

The work­ers in West­ern Europe need the very best weapons. They stand alone: they have no help. And therefore they need these indust­rial organ­is­ations. In Germany and England they need them at once, because there the revo­lution is nearest at hand. The other countries must have them as soon as possible, as soon as we can build them.

It is no good at all, Comrade Lenin, your saying: in Russia we did it in such and such a way, for in the first place you had no organ­isations that were so inade­quate for the struggle as many of the Trade Unions are here. You had indust­rial unions. Secondly, your work­ers were more revo­luti­onary in spirit. Thirdly, the organ­isation of the capit­al­ists was weak: and the State also. And in the fourth place, and this is the main point: you had help. You did not need the very best of weapons. We stand alone, we must have them. We will not win unless we have them. We will be defeated over and over again, unless we have them.

Other grounds than material ones also demonstrate this.

Recall in your mind, Comrade, how things were in Germany, before and dur­ing the war. The Trade Unions, the far too weak but only means, were entir­ely in the hands of the leaders, who used them as dead machines on behalf of capi­tal­ism. Then the revo­lution broke out. The Trade Unions were used by the leaders and the masses of mem­bers as a weapon against the revo­lution. It was through their help, through their coop­er­ation, through their leaders, nay, partly even through their members that the revo­lution was murd­ered. The Comm­unists saw their own brothers being shot with the coop­eration of the Trade Unions. Strikes in favour of the revo­lution were prev­ented, rendered impossible. Do you hold it possible, Comrade, that under such condi­tions revo­lutionary work­ers should re­main in these unions? Especially when these latter are utterly inadequate instru­ments for the revo­lution! In my opinion this is a physical imposs­ibility. What would you your­self have done, as a member of a poli­ti­cal party, that of the Menshevists for instance, if these had acted thus in the revo­lution? You would have split the Party (if you had not already done so)! You will reply: this was a poli­ti­cal party, it is different in the case of a Trade Union. I believe you are mis­taken. In the revo­lution, dur­ing the revo­lution, every Trade Union, every work­ers’ union even, is a poli­ti­cal party – either pro- or counter-revo­lutionary.

In your article, however, you say, and you will do so now: these emot­ional impulses must be conquered, for the sake of unity and Comm­unist propa­ganda. I will show you, by means of concrete examples, that during the revo­lution this was impossible in Germany. For these quest­ions must also be considered quite concretely. Let us suppose that Germany had 100,000 really revo­lutionary dock labourers, 100,000 revo­lutionary metal work­ers, and 100,000 revo­lutionary miners; that these were will­ing to strike, to fight, to die for the revo­lution, and that the other millions were not. What are these 300,000 to do? They must in the first place unite, and form a fight­ing league. This you acknowl­edge. Without organ­isation work­ers can do nothing. Now a new league against old unions, even if the work­ers remain in the old ones, is a split already; if not formally, at any rate actu­ally, in reality. Next, how­ever, the mem­bers of the new league need a press, meetings, localities, a salaried staff. This requires heaps of money. And the German work­ers poss­ess next to nothing. In order to keep the new league going, they must needs, whether they like it or not, leave the old one. Thus we see that, concretely considered, that which you, Comrade, propose, is impossible.


Build on New Foundations

However, there are better material grounds yet. The German work­ers who left the Trade Unions, that wished to destroy them, that created the indust­rial organ­is­ations and work­ers’ unions, stood IN THE REVO­LUT­ION. It was necessary to fight at ONCE. The revo­lution was there. The Trade Unions refused to fight. What is the good then of saying: remain in the Trade Uni­ons, propagate your ideas, you will grow stronger, and become the majority. Apart from the fact that the minority would be strangl­ed, as is the custom there, this would be quite fine, and also the Left Wing would try it, if there were only time to do so. But it was impossible to wait. The revo­lution had begun. And it is still going on!

IN THE REVO­LUTION (mind, Comrade, it was in the revo­lution that the German work­ers split the Party, and created their Work­ers’ Union) the revo­lutionary work­ers will always separate themselves from the social-patriots. In the struggle, no other way is possible. No matter what you, and the Mos­cow Exec­utive, and the Inter­national Con­gress say, and no matter how much you dislike a split in the Party, it will always take place, on psych­ological and material grounds, because the work­ers can­not in the long run tolerate the Trade Unions shooting them, and because there has to be fighting.

That is why the Left Wing has created the Work­ers’ Unions; and as they believe that the revo­lution in Germany is not over yet, but it will proc­eed to the final victory, they keep them up.

Comrade Lenin, is there another way out, in the work­ers’ move­ment, when two trends come up, but that of fighting? And when those trends are very diver­gent, if they oppose one another, is there another way out but secession? Did you ever hear of any other? And is there anything more oppos­ed than revo­lution and counter-revo­lution?

For this reason again the KAPD and the General Work­ers’ Unions are quite right.

And, Comrade, have not these secessions, these clearances always been a blessing for the prole­tariat? Does not this always become evident after a while? I have some experience in this matter. When we as yet bel­on­­ged to the social-patri­otic party we had no influence – after our expul­sion we had some – in the beginn­ing, and very soon we won a great, a very great influence. And how about you, the Bolshevists, after the sec­ession? I believe you fared quite well. Small influ­ence at first, very much later on. And all now. It all depends on the econ­omic and poli­ti­cal devel­opment, whether a group, be it ever so small, does become the most power­ful party. If the revo­lution in Germany lasts, there is a fair hope that the importance and the infl­u­ence of the work­ers’ unions will surpass all the others. You should not be intimidated by their numbers – 70,000 against seven mill­ions. Smaller groups than these have become the strongest – the Bolsh­evists, among others!

The indust­rial unions and workshop organ­isations, and the Work­ers’ Uni­ons that are based on them and formed from them, why are they such excellent weap­ons for the revo­lution in West­ern Europe, the best weapons even together with the Comm­unist Party? Because the work­ers act for them­selves, infinitely more so than they did in the old Trade Unions, because now they control their leaders, and thereby the entire leader­ship, and because they have the supervision of the indust­rial organ­isation, and thereby of the entire union.

Every trade, every workshop is one whole, where the work­ers elect their represent­atives. The indust­rial organ­isations have been divided accor­d­ing to econ­omic districts. Representatives have been appointed for the dist­­ricts. And the distr­icts in turn elect the general board for the entire State.

All the indust­rial organ­isations together, no matter to what trade they belong, constitute the one Work­ers’ Union.

This, as we see, is an organ­isation altogether directed towards the revo­lution.

If an interval of comparatively peaceful fighting should follow, this organ­isation might moreover be easily adapted. The indust­rial organ­isations would only have to be combined, according to the indust­ries, within the compass of the Work­ers’ Unions.


The Worker has Power

It is obvious. Here the work­ers, every worker, has power, for in his work­shop he elects his own delegates, and through them he has direct control over the district and State bodies. There is strong centralisation, but not too strong. The individual and the indust­rial organ­isation has great power. He can dismiss or replace his dele­gates at any time, and compel them to replace the higher positions at the short­est notice. This is individu­alism, but not too much of it. For the central corporations, the districts and government coun­cils have great power. The indi­vidual and the central board have just that amount of power, which this present period, in which the revo­lution breaks out, requires and allows.

Marx writes that under capi­tal­ism the citizen is an abstraction, a cipher, as compared to the State. It is the same in the Trade Unions. The bureau­cr­acy, the entire system of the organ­isation plane ever so far above, and are alto­gether out of the reach of the worker. He cannot reach them. He is a ciph­er as compared to them, an abstraction. For them he is not even the man in the workshop. He is not a living, willing, struggling being. If in the old Trade Unions you replace the bureaucracy by other persons, you will see that before long these also have the same character; that they stand high, un­attain­ably high above the masses, and are in no way in touch with them. Nine­ty-nine out of every hundred will be tyrants, and will stand on the side of the bour­ge­oisie. It is the very nature of the organ­isation that makes them so.

Your tactics strive to leave the Trade Unions as they are, “down below”, and only to give them other leaders somewhat more of the Left trend, is there­fore purely a change “up above”. And the Trade Unions rem­ain in the power of lead­ers. And these, once spoilt, everything is as of old, or at the very best, a slight improvement in the layers up above. No, not even if you yourself, or we our­selves, were the leaders, we would not cons­ent to this. For we wish to enable the masses them­selves to become more intelligent, more courageous, self- acting, more elevated in all things. We want the masses themselves to make the revo­lution. For only thus the revo­lution can triumph here in West­ern Europe. And to this end the old Trade Unions must be destroyed.


Indust­rial Work­ers Decide

How utterly different it is in the indust­rial unions. Here it is the worker him­self who decides about tactics, trend, and struggle, and who intervenes if the “leaders” do not act as he wants them to. The factory, the workshop, being at the same time the organ­isation, he stands continually in the fight himself.

In so far as it is possible under capi­tal­ism, he is the maker and the guide of his own fate, and as this is the case with every one of them, THE MASS IS THE MAKER AND LEADER OF ITS OWN FIGHT.

More, infinitely more so, than was ever possible in the old Trade Unions, reformist as well as syndicalist[1].

The indust­rial unions and work­ers’ unions that make the individuals them­selves, and consequently the masses themselves, the direct fighters, those that really wage the war, are for that very reason the best weapons for the revo­lution, the weapons we need here in West­ern Europe, if ever we shall be able without help to overthrow the most powerful capi­tal­ism of the world.

But, Comrade, these are only the weaker grounds yet, as compared to the last, main actual reason, which hangs closely together with the princ­iples I have indicated at the beginning. And it is this last ground which is decisive for the KAPD and the opposition party in England. These parties strive great­ly to raise the spiritual level of the masses and individuals in Germany and England.

They are of the opinion that there is only ONE means to that end. And I should like to know whether you know of another means in the Labour move­ment? It is the form­ation of a group! That shows, in the struggle, what the mass should be. That shows, fighting, what the mass MUST be. If you know of another means, Comrade, tell me so. I know none other.

In the Labour move­ment, and especially, I imagine, in the revo­lution, there is but one way to prove the example – the example itself, the DEED.

The comrades of the Left Wing believe that this small group, in its fight against the Trade Unions and against Capi­tal­ism, will win the Trade Unions to its side, or, which is also possible, that gradu­ally the Trade Unions will be directed towards a better course.

This can be attained only through the example. For the raising of the German worker to a higher level, therefore, these new organ­isations are absolutely indispensable.

The new formation, the Work­ers’ Union, must act against the Trade Unions, in exactly the same way as the Comm­unist parties act against the Socialist parties[2].

The servile, reformist, social-patriotic masses can be converted only through example.

Next I come to England: to the English Left Wing.

After Germany, England is nearest to a revo­lution, not because in that country the situation is revo­lutionary already, but because the prole­tariat there is so numerous, and the capit­al­ist and econ­omic conditions most fav­our­able. Only a strong blow is needed there and the fight will begin, a fight which can only end in a victory. And the blow will come. This is felt, this is almost instinct­ively known by the most advanced work­ers of Engl­and (as we all feel it), and because they feel this, they have founded a new move­ment, which, whilst manifesting itself in vari­ous directions, and search­ing as yet, just as in Germany – is in general the rank and file move­ment, the move­ment of the masses themselves, without, or pract­ically with­out leaders[3].

Their move­ment is very much like the German Work­ers’ Union and its indust­rial organ­isations.

Did you observe, Comrade, that this move­ment has arisen in two of the most advanced countries only? And from the ranks of the work­ers them­selves? And in many places[4]. This proves already in itself that it is of natural growth, and not to be stopped!


Struggle in England Essential

And in England this move­ment, this struggle against the Trade Unions, is needed more almost than in Germany, for the English Trade Unions are not only a tool in the hands of the leaders, for the maintenance of capi­tal­ism, but they are at the same time far more inefficient as a means for the revo­lut­ion than those of Germany. The way they are conducted dates from the time of the small struggle, often as far back as the 19th or even the 18th century. England not only has industries where 25 Trade Unions exist, but most of the unions fight one another to the death for members!! And the members are utterly without power. Do you also wish to retain these Trade Unions, Comrade Lenin?

Must not these be opposed, split up, and destroyed? If you are against the Work­ers’ Unions you must also be against the Shop Committees, the Shop Stew­ards, and the Indust­rial Unions. Whoever is in favour of the latter, is also in fav­our of the former. For the Comm­unists in either aim at the same things.

The English Comm­unists of the Left Wing wish to use this new trend in the Trade Union move­ment to destroy the English Trade Unions in their pres­ent shape, to alter them, to replace them by new instruments in the class struggle, which can be applied for the revo­lution. The same reasons that we have brought forward for the German move­ment holds good here.

In the postscript of the Executive Committee of the Third Inter­national to the KAPD, I have read that the EC is in favour of the IWW in America, as long as this latter wishes only poli­ti­cal action and affiliation to the Comm­unist Parties. And these IWW need not join the American Trade Unions! But the Executive Committee is against the Work­ers’ Union in Germany; this latter must join the Trade Unions, although it is Comm­unist, and works in cooperation with the poli­ti­cal party.

And you, Comrade Lenin, are in favour of the rank and file move­ment in England (although this often causes a split, and although many of its mem­bers want the destruction of the Trade Unions!) and against the Work­ers’ Unions in Germany.


Executive Committee’s Oppor­tunism

I can explain your attitude and that of the Executive Committee only by oppor­tunism; and a mistaken oppor­tunism to boot.

It goes without saying that the Left Wing of the Comm­unists in Engl­and cannot go as far as in Germany, because in England the revo­lut­ion has not begun yet. It cannot as yet organ­ise the rank and file move­ment all over the country into one whole for the revo­lution. But the Engl­ish Left Wing is prep­aring this. And as soon as the revo­lution comes, the great masses of work­ers will leave the old Trade Unions as unservice­able for the revo­lution, and will join the indust­rial organ­isations.

And as the Left Comm­unist Wing penetrates everywhere into this move­ment, seeking to spread the Comm­unist ideas, it raises the work­ers by means of its example on to a higher level, also there, and already now. And, as in Germany, that is its real aim[5].

The General Work­ers’ Unions, and the rank and file move­ment, which are both founded on the factories, the workshops, and on these alone, are the fore­runners of the Work­ers’ Councils, the Soviets. As the revo­lution in West­ern Europe will be very difficult and consequently of probably very long duration, there will be a long period of transition, in which the Trade Unions are no longer any good, and in which there are no Soviets as yet. This period of transition will be filled out with the struggle against the Trade Unions, their re-forming, their replacing by better organ­isations. You need not fear, we will have ample time!

Once again this will be so, not because we of the Left Wing will it so, but because the revo­lution must needs have these new organ­isations. The revo­lution cannot triumph without them.


Hail the Rank and File Movement

All hail!, therefore, the rank and file move­ment in England, and the Work­ers’ Unions in Germany, first forerunners of the Soviets in Europe. Good luck to you, the first organ­isations that, with the Comm­unist parties, will bring the revo­lution in West­ern Europe.

You, Comrade Lenin, wish to compel us to use bad weapons here in West­ern Europe, where we stand alone, without a single ally, against an as yet extremely powerful, extremely organ­ised and armed capi­tal­ism, and where we stand in need of the very best of weapons, the very strongest. Where we want to organ­ise the revo­lution on the shop floor, and on a shop floor basis, you wish to force the mis­er­able Trade Unions on us. The revo­lution in West­ern Europe can and must be organ­ised only on the shop floor and on a shop floor basis, because here capi­tal­ism has attained such a high econ­omic and poli­ti­cal organ­isation (in all direct­ions) and because the work­ers (except for the Comm­unist Party) have no other strong weapons. The Russians were armed, and had the poor peasants. What the weapons and the peasants were for the Russians, tactics and the organ­isation must be for us for the time being. And then YOU recommend the Trade Unions! From psycho­logical, as well as from material grounds, in the midst of the revo­lution, we MUST fight these Trade Unions, and you try to hinder us in this fight. We can fight only be means of a splitting-up, and you are prev­enting us. We wish to form groups, that are to be an example, the only way of show­ing the prole­tariat what it is we seek, and you forbid this. We wish to raise the prole­tariat of Europe to a higher level, and you throw stones in our path.

You do not wish them then: the splitting up, the new formations, the higher stage of development!

And why not?

Because you want to have the big parties, and the big Trade Unions, in the Third Inter­national.

To us this looks like oppor­tunism, oppor­tunism of the very worst kind[6].

Today, in the Inter­national, your actions differ widely from what they were in the Maximalist party. This was kept very “pure” (and is so to this day, perhaps). In the Inter­national, all elements are to be accepted right away, no matter how poorly Comm­unistic they are.

It is the curse of the Labour move­ment that, as soon as it has acquired a certain “power”, it seeks to enlarge this power by unprincipled means. Soc­ial-Democracy also was originally “pure” in almost all countries. Most Soc­ial-Patriots of today were real Marxists. By Marxist propa­ganda the masses were won, and as soon as the party gained “power” they were abandoned.

Just as the Social-Demo­crats acted at that time, you and the Third Inter­nat­ional are acting now. Not on a national scale, of course, but inter­nati­onally. The Russian Revo­lution has triumphed through “purity”, through firm­ness of princ­iple. Now it has gained power, and through it the inter­national prole­tariat has obtained power, this power is to be extended over Europe, and immediately the old tactics are abandoned!

Instead of applying the same efficacious tactics in ALL the other count­ries to the inner strength­ening of the Third Inter­national, oppor­tunism is again resorted to, as before, in Social-Democracy. All elements are now to be affiliated: the Trade Unions, the Independents, the French Centre, parts of the Labour Party. To preserve the semb­lance of Marxism, cond­itions are put that have to be SIGNED, and Kautsky, Hilfer­ding, Thomas, etc., are expell­ed. The great mass, however, the med­ium quality, is admi­tted, is driven in by all possible means. And in order that the Centre shall be all the more powerful, the “Left Wing” is not admitted unless it joins that Centre! THE VERY BEST REVO­LUTIONARIES, like the KAPD, are excluded!

And when these huge masses have thus been united on one average line, they proceed to one common advance under an iron discipline, and with leaders that have been tested in this most extraordinary manner. A common advance whither? Into the abyss.


Failure of Second Inter­national

What is the use of the finest principles, of the most splendid Theses of the Third Inter­national, if in practice we exercise this oppor­tunism? The Sec­ond Inter­national also had the finest principles, yet it failed through practice.

We, however, the Left Wing, refuse to do so. In West­ern Europe we wish first to build very firm, very clear, and very strong (though at the outset perhaps quite small) parties, kernels, just as you did in Russia. And once we have those, we will make them bigger. But we always want them to be very firm, very strong, very “pure”. Only thus can we triumph in West­ern Europe. Therefore we absolutely reject your tactics, Comrade.

You say that we, the members of the Amsterdam Commission, have forg­otten or have never known the lessons former revo­lutions have taught. Well, Comrade, there is one thing about these former revo­lutions which I remember quite well. It is this: that the extreme “Left” parties have always played a prom­inent, eminent part in all of them. It was such in the revo­lution of the Netherlands against Spain, in the English revo­lution, in that of France, in the Commune, and in the two Russian revo­lutions.

In accordance with the development of the Labour move­ment, there are two trends here in the West-European revo­lution: the radical and the oppor­tunist trend. These can only arrive at sound tactics, at unity, by means of a mutual struggle. The radical trend, however, though in some parti­culars it may go too far, is much the best. And yet you, Comrade Lenin, go and support the oppor­tunists!

And not only this! The Executive in Moscow, the RUSSIAN leaders of a rev­o­lution that triumphed only through the help of millions of poor peas­ants, forces these their tactics on the prole­tariat of West­ern Europe, which stands and has to stand all alone. And in so doing annihilates the best trend in West­ern Europe!

What incredible foolishness, and especially what dialectics.

When the revo­lution in West­ern Europe breaks out, it will work for you blue wonders! But the prole­tariat will be the victim.


Counter-Revo­lutionary Trade Unions

You, Comrade, and the Executive in Moscow, know that the Trade Unions in West­ern Europe are counter-revo­lutionary forces. This is evi­dent from your Theses. And yet you wish to retain them. You also know that the Work­ers’ Union, the rank and file move­ment, are revo­luti­onary organ­isations. You say yourself, in your Theses, that the indust­rial organ­is­ations must be and are our aim. And yet you want to smother them. You want to destroy the organ­isations in which the work­ers, every worker, and therefore the mass, can attain power and strength, and to keep those in which the mass is a dead tool in the hands of the leaders. Thus you strive to bring the Trade Unions in your power, in the power of the Third Inter­national.

Why is it you wish to do so? Why do you follow these bad tactics? Because you want masses around you, no matter of what quality, as long as they are mass­es. Because you believe that if only you have masses obey­ing you on account of a strict discipline and centralisation, no matter whether they are Comm­unist, half Comm­unist, or not Comm­unist at all, you, the leaders, will win. in a word, because your tactics are leader- tactics.

By criticising leader-tactics I do not mean to advocate politics without leaders and centralisation, for without these one attains nothing (they are as indispensable as the party). I am criticising those politics that collect masses, without inquiring into their convictions, their heart; politics that assume that the leaders, once they have great masses around them, will be able to win.


Russian Tactics Useless in West­ern Europe

But these politics, which you and the Executive are now following, will lead nowhere in West­ern Europe. Capi­tal­ism here is far too powerful as yet, and the prole­tariat is much too isolated. These politics will fail here, just as those of the Second Inter­national did.

Here the work­ers themselves must become strong, and, through them, their leaders. Here the evil, the leadership-policy, must be seized by the root.

Through these tactics on the Trade Union quest­ion you and the Mos­cow Exec­u­tive have proved, to my mind, that UNLESS YOU ALTER THESE TACT­ICS, YOU CANNOT CONDUCT THE REVO­LUTION IN WEST­ERN EUROPE.

You say that the Left Wing, in following its tactics, can only talk. Well, Comrade, in the other countries the Left Wing has had next to no oppor­tunities as yet to act. But look at Germany, and the tactics and acti­ons of the KAPD in the “Kapp putsch” and with regard to the Russian revo­lution, and you will have to take those words back.


[1] It has to be borne in mind, of course, that this new combination of individualism and centralism is not given right away in its completed form, but that it is only springing up now, and is a process, which will be developed only in the struggle itself, and thus perfected.

[2] With the sarcastic remark that also the Work­ers’ Union cannot be faultless, you make little impression. It is right only in so far that the union must fight for reforms under capi­tal­ism. It is not right in so far as the union fights for the revo­lution.

[3] Shop Committees, Shop Stewards, and, especially in Wales, Industrial Unions.

[4] That this movement in Germany was made from above is slander.

[5] You, Comrade, and many with you, use here the argu­ment that the Comm­unists, by leaving the Trade Unions, lose touch with the masses. But is not the closest touch obtained in the work­shops? And have not all workshops turned more than ever into debating halls? How can the Left Comm­unists possibly lose touch, then?

[6] Already now the Trade Union quest­ion clearly demonstrates where the oppor­tunist tactics of Moscow lead. The members of the Comm­unist Parties are forced to enter the modern Trade Unions (see the thesis accepted on this point). They are forced, therefore, to become scabs and strike-breakers!!! At the same time they must openly support the Syndicalists!!! Instead of openly saying that neither of these organ­isations are any good, that new ones have to be formed, on the basis of the industries (the theses them­selves declare elsewhere that this is what should be done), they adopt this ambiguous attitude. And why? To add masses to the Third International.