Written by Andre Nin just before the events of May, 1937 and originally published in the P.O.U.M.’s April 5, 1937 internal bulletin for discussion in the run-up to the party’s second congress that summer. Before the conference could happen the P.O.U.M. was suppressed and Nin murdered. Bertram D. Wolfe, then a leading member of the Communist Party Opposition, published and introduced it as an appendix of his December, 1937 book ‘Civil War in Spain.’
‘Thesis for the Convention of the P.O.U.M.’ (April, 1937) by Andres Nin from Civil War in Spain by Bertram D. Wolfe. Workers Age Publishers, New York. 1937.
Political Thesis prepared for the convention of the P.O.U.M., shortly before its suppression and the murder of Nin.
The following is a draft prepared by Andres Nin for the purpose of discussion and adoption by the P.O.U.M. at its second congress scheduled to take place this summer. It was published on April 5, 1937 in Internal Discussion Bulletin with a request for comment amendment or proposals for a counter-thesis — which may sound strange to Communist Party members who have forgotten what a convention discussion should be like.
The preparations for the convention were interrupted by the suppression of the P.O.U.M., the arrest of all its leaders and most capable and devoted members the framing-up of Andres Nin as an agent of Franco and his subsequent murder in jail without trial. The thesis even without the corrections and improvements in detail which would doubtless have resulted from the preconvention discussion, is one of the great documents of international Marxism. Few political papers, since the days when Lenin was at the head of the Communist International, have the revolutionary boldness, the insight the luminous thought and vivid language that characterize this last important writing from the hands of Nin. Let the reader compare it with the stale, sausage-machine theses of the ultra-left period and the fuzzy unscrupulous and treacherous language of Comintern documents today, and he will understand why these preachers of confusion and outworn bourgeois catchwords, could not tolerate the existence pf a clear revolutionary voice which reminded them of their own past and of the true meaning of the ideals and doctrines in the name of which they profess to speak. That is the reason why Nin lies dead, why his body, like those of Liebknecht and Luxemburg under similar circumstances was secretly buried in the dead of night in some ditch or sewer on the outskirts of Madrid, why his great voice is stilled and his clear brain has ceased to function in the cause of the working class.
But such voices cannot be stilled: his thesis is being discussed in secret in the great cities and villages of Spain and among the troops that are holding their lines desperately against fascism, in the face of the sabotage of their own government. It continues to guide and inspire the P.O.U.M. which he led, and the Spanish working class which is rallying in increasing numbers to the revolutionary standard he held high.
Our readers should study this document, read it and reread it, for it is full of lessons to revolutionists, to conscious workers everywhere. It permits us to judge the shabby forgeries perpetrated against Nin, to judge between his party of proletarian revolution and the official Communist Party of Spain, agent and executioner for the counter-revolution; it throws a great light upon the problems of present day Spain, upon the People’s Front, upon the Comintern. It calls aloud to us to give full support to the P.O.U.M. which is struggling for these things without Nin or Maurín to lead it any longer and with all the rest of its experienced leaders crowded in the jails of Republican Spain in danger of sharing his fate. We must enable the P.O.U.M., by our support, to reconstitute itself underground, to spread this thesis in hundreds of thousands and millions of copies so that the voice of Andres Nin, which they tried to still, may be heard by every worker thruout the Spanish land.
THESIS BY ANDRE NIN
The Nature of the Spanish Revolution
1. Developments in Spain since the Constituent Congress of the P.O.U.M., held in Barcelona on September 29, 1935, have confirmed the fundamental position of our party. We had affirmed that the struggle was not between bourgeois democracy and fascism but between fascism and socialism, and we were absolutely correct in calling our revolution a democratic-socialist one.
The experiences of 1931-1935 amply demonstrated that the bourgeoisie was impotent to solve the fundamental problems of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and showed the necessity of the working class to place itself decidedly at the front of the movement for emancipation, for the realization of the democratic revolution and for the initiation of the socialist revolution. The persistence of democratic illusions and the organic alliance with the Republican parties were to lead inevitably to the strengthening of reactionary positions, and in the near future, to the triumph of fascism as the only way out of a capitalist regime incapable of solving its internal contradictions within the frame of bourgeois democratic institutions.
The lessons of Asturias, where the proletariat by decisively seizing leadership of the movement of October 1934, dealt a mortal blow against reaction, and the lesson of Catalonia, where during these same days we could once more see clearly the incapacity and inconsistency of the petty-bourgeois parties, were not taken advantage of sufficiently, due to the absence of a great revolutionary party. The socialist and communist parties, instead of taking advantage of the lesson of October by pushing forward the Workers Alliance which had produced such splendid results in Asturias, and instead of canalizing all the forces towards assuring the hegemony of the working class, once more shackled the proletariat, thru the People’s Front, to the bourgeois Republican parties which had failed so miserably in October and which had virtually disappeared from the political scene.
The period immediately preceding the elections of February 16th is characterized by the bringing back to life of the Republican parties, thanks to the socialist and official communist parties, and also to a certain rebirth of democratic illusions among the masses, which seem to have been created more by the strong desire to secure the release of the political prisoners condemned for action in the October days than by confidence in the Republican parties. This desire was so unanimous and the movement so all-powerful that our party was forced to join it, but it completely preserved its personality and independence and exercised strong and pitiless criticism of Republican politics. This tactic, which saved us from complete isolation, permitted us to approach closely to large masses who until that time were inaccessible to us, and among whom we were now able to spread our views. The action of the left Republicans in power after February 16, was an absolute confirmation of our predictions. From the very first moment, a complete divorce took place between the government and the powerful impulse of the masses who forced the government to adopt the amnesty decree and initiated a vast and profound strike movement.
From below there was clamor for rapid and energetic action for a policy of revolutionary achievement and for rigorous measures against the reaction which each day was becoming more and more insolent.
From above was carried on a policy of passivity, of contemplation; a policy whose slogan seemed to be — change nothing, frighten no one, do not hurt the interests of the exploiting classes. The result of this policy was the fascist military rising of July 19, 1936. The roar of the cannon and the rattle of the machine guns awakened the proletariat, still clinging to democratic illusions, from its deep slumber. The electoral victory of February 16th had not touched the basic problems of our land. The fascist reaction applied more forceful arguments than the paper ballot. Taking advantage of the privileged position which the Republican government itself had extended to them by maintaining them in the most important strategic posts, the great majority of the officers of the army, in the service of reaction, unleashed civil war.
The Fascist Uprising and the Workers Revolution
2. The military-fascist rising provokes formidable reaction in the working class which throws itself resolutely into the combat and, despite passivity in some cases and betrayal in others, despite the Republican parties whose official representatives refused to arm the workers, defeats the insurrection in the most important industrial centers of the country.
This determined intervention by the workers has great political consequences. The organs of bourgeois power are in reality destroyed. Everywhere revolutionary committees are created. The permanent army is overthrown and replaced by militiamen. The workers take possession of the factories. The peasant seize the lands. Churches and convents are destroyed by the purifying fire of revolution. In a few hours, or at most in a few days, the workers and peasants, thru direct revolutionary action, solve the problems which the Republican bourgeoisie has been unable to solve in five years — that is to say, the problems of the democratic revolution, and the working class initiates the socialist revolution by expropriating the bourgeoisie.
For some time, the organs of bourgeois power are nothing but a shadow. The real power is in the hands of the revolutionary committees which form a close network in every region of the land not in the hands of the fascists.
Nevertheless, in this first period, revolutionary impulse is much more vigorous in Catalonia than in the rest of Spain. There is no doubt but that Catalonia marches at the head of the revolution thanks to the influence of the P.O.U.M., the C.N.T. and the F.A.I., which did not form part of the People’s Front and where therefore democratic-Republican opportunism penetrated less deeply into the ranks of the working masses.
The fascist-military insurrection then, destined principally to strangle the revolutionary working-class movement, accelerates it at a dizzying speed and clearly places the question of power: either fascism or socialism. What was planned as a counter-revolution turns into a proletarian revolution with all of its distinguishing characteristics: weakening of the bourgeois state machinery, decomposition of the army, of the forces of compulsion of the state, of the judicial institutions, arming of the working class which attacks and weakens the right of private property, direct intervention by peasants who are expropriating the landowners, and finally the conviction on the part of the exploiting classes that their rule has ended.
During the early weeks that followed July 19th, the conviction that the past cannot return, that the democratic republic has been outlived, is general. And the revolution is so powerful that the petty-bourgeois parties themselves proclaim the demise of the capitalist regime and the necessity of undertaking the socialist transformation of Spanish society.
The only immediate way out of the situation was to coordinate the push of the masses and to institute a strong government based upon the organizations born in the fire of revolution as a direct expression of the will of those who were playing a predominant role in the struggle against fascism. Such a strong government could only have been a Workers and Peasants Government. This position maintained by the P.O.U.M. since the very moment when the character of the struggle became clear, came up against the opposition of all the parties in the People’s Front, and in first place, against that of the Communist Party, and the indecision of the C.N.T. whose anarchist ideology prevented it from realizing the fundamental and decisive importance of the problem of power.
In the meantime, with the aid of a tenacious and systematic campaign of propaganda, two views of tragic consequence for working class victory, were developed. The first of these views was expressed in the term: First win the war, then make the revolution. According to the second view, which is a direct consequence of the first, in the present civil war, the workers and peasants are fighting for the maintenance of the parliamentary democratic republic and therefore one cannot speak of the proletarian revolution. Later, this conception acquired an unexpected corollary — namely, that this democratic struggle which bleeds and ruins the country is a war for national independence and for the defense of the fatherland.
Our party adopted, from the very first moment, an attitude of decided opposition to these counter-revolutionary concepts.
War and Revolution Are Inseparable
3. The formula: First win the war, then make the revolution is fundamentally false. In the struggle now going on in Spain, war and revolution are not only two inseparable terms, but synonymous. The civil war, a state of more or less prolonged, violent conflict between two or more classes of society, is one of the manifestations — the sharpest — of the struggle between the proletariat on the one hand and the big bourgeoisie and landowners on the other, who, frightened by the revolutionary advance of the proletariat, attempt to establish a bloody dictatorship which would consolidate their class privileges. The struggle on the field of battle is only a prolongation of the struggle in the rear. War is a form of politics. It is politics which directs the war in any case. Armies always defend the interests of a given class. It is a question as to whether the workers and peasants on the battle-field are fighting for the bourgeois order or for a socialist society. War and revolution are inseparable at the present moment in Spain as they were in France in the 18th century and in Russia in 1917-1920. How can we separate the war from the revolution when the war is only the violent culmination of the revolutionary process which has been developing in our country from 1930 up to the present moment?
In reality, the formula: First win the war . . . . hides the purpose of frustrating the revolution. Revolutions must be made when favorable circumstances exist and history does not offer them to order. If no advantage is taken of moments of greatest revolutionary tension, the enemy class reconquers lost positions and ends by strangling the revolution. The history of the 19th century and the more recent post-war period (Germany, Austria, Italy, China, etc.) presents us with abundant proofs of this. To postpone the revolution until after the war has been won means to give free reign to the bourgeoisie who, taking advantage of the diminishing revolutionary tension, reestablishes its machinery of repression in preparation for the systematic restoration of the capitalist regime.
War, as we have already said, is a form of politics. The political regime always serves a definite class of which it is the expression and the instrument. While the war is on, some kind of politics must be followed: In the service of whom? In the interest of what class? The whole question lies here. And the guarantee of a rapid and certain victory at the front lies in a firm revolutionary policy in the rear — capable of inspiring the fighters with the fire and confidence indispensable for the struggle; of arousing the revolutionary’ solidarity of the international proletariat, the only solidarity upon which we can count; to create a solid war industry, to rebuild, on a socialist basis, the economy broken down by civil war; to forge an efficient army in the service of the cause of the proletariat, which is the cause of civilized humanity. The instrument of such revolutionary politics can be only a Workers and Peasants Government.
The Reformist Menace in Spain
4. As in Russia in 1917 and in all of Europe after the imperialist war, the greatest obstacle to the victorious advance of the proletarian revolution is reformism, agent of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of the workers. But here in our own country, we have the paradoxical case that the most characteristic exponent of castrating reformism is precisely the Communist Party of Spain and its affiliate the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (P.S. U.C.), member of an international, the Communist International, which was born as a consequence of an ideologic and organic break with reformism. Prisoner of the Soviet burocracy which has turned its back upon the international proletarian revolution, it has pinned its hopes upon the democratic countries and the League of Nations; official communism has definitely abandoned revolutionary class politics and has turned towards the alliance with bourgeois-democratic parties (Popular Front) and is psychologically preparing the masses for the next war. From this comes the watchword: Fight for the parliamentary democratic republic , complemented by: Fight for national independence which, translated into international politics, signifies: subjection of the revolution in Spain to the interests of the imperialist Anglo-French block, of which the Soviet Union is itself a part. The fatal consequences of such policy have not been long in making themselves felt: Reformism, speculating on the difficulties of the war and the possibilities of international complications and aided effectively by the representatives of the Stalinist burocracy, who, in turn, have speculated on the help lent by the U.S.S.R., has succeeded in undermining systematically the revolutionary conquests, and is preparing the ground for the counter-revolution. Our elimination from the government of the Generalidad, the attempts to form a neutral, democratic Popular Army, the suppression of the militias in the rear and the reconstitution of public order on the basis of reestablishing the old machinery and press censorship, are the most important steps of this counter-revolutionary process, which will continue inexorably until the revolutionary movement is completely crushed if the Spanish working class does not react rapidly and vigorously, reconquering positions won in the July days and pushing the socialist revolution forward. In the present situation, unmistakably revolutionary, the watchword — Fight for the parliamentary democratic Republic can only serve the interests of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. Today more than ever, the word democracy is nothing more than a cover with which they wish to prevent the revolutionary people from rising and undertaking freely and fearlessly, on its own account, the building of a new society. (Lenin). As revolutionary Marxism has taught us, the democratic republic is only a masked form of the bourgeois dictatorship. In the period of the height of capitalism, when the latter still represented a progressive factor, the bourgeoisie could permit itself the luxury of conceding to the working class a series of democratic liberties — considerably restricted to be sure, and limited by the fact of bourgeois economic and political domination. Today, in the epoch of imperialism, the final stage of capitalism, the bourgeoisie, in order to overcome its internal contradictions, finds it necessary to resort to the setting up of brutal dictatorships (fascism) which destroy even these miserable democratic liberties. Under these circumstances, the world finds itself facing a fatal dilemma: socialism or fascism. The democratic regimes are of necessity fleeting, inconsistent and, to make matters worse, the lulling and disarming of the workers with democratic illusions effectively prepares the ground for fascist reaction.
The Stalinists, in order to justify their monstrous betrayal of revolutionary Marxism, argue that the democratic republic they have in mind will be a democratic republic different from the others. It will be a popular republic from which will have disappeared the material base of fascism. That is to say, they scandalously toss aside the Marxist theory of the state as an instrument of domination of one class and fall into the utopia of the democratic state above classes , in the service of the people — with the object of mystifying the masses and preparing the consolidation, pure and simple, of the bourgeois regime. A republic from which the material basis of fascism has disappeared ca» only be a socialist republic, since the material basis for fascism is capitalism.
The Attitude of the Working Class Tendencies
5. Anti-fascism in the abstract— shrewdly managed by the reformists who are preparing politically and psychologically for intervention in the next imperialist world war, presented as a struggle between the fascist and democratic countries — is the antidote to the proletarian revolution, the expression of the policy of national unity against which Marxism has always placed the class struggle.
If the dilemma before which history has placed the Spanish proletariat is fascism or socialism , the fundamental problem of the hour is the problem of power. All the others — the question of military organization, of war industry, of supplies, of economic reconstruction, of internal safety, etc., are subordinate to this fundamental problem whose solution depends upon the class in whose hands power lies.
What is the attitude of the different sectors of the working class movement toward this problem?
The Communist Party, the Spanish Socialist Party and the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia advocate the policy of the People’s Front, which presupposes the exercise of power by the anti-fascist governments, of coalition with the bourgeoisie and with a bourgeois-democratic program.
The C.N.T. and the F.A.I, resolutely declare themselves partisans of the socialist revolution and therefore bitter enemies of the restoration of the democratic republic; but their anti-state tradition and systematic propaganda in favor of libertarian communism, carried on during many years, makes difficult their evolution towards the concept of proletarian power.
Our attitude towards these different sectors is determined by the role they play or can play in the course of the development of actual events.
The Communist Party of Spain and the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia, by their present political position, directly inspired by the Communist International — instrument, in turn, of Soviet burocracy — must be considered as ultra-opportunist and ultra-reformist organizations. For their policy of class-collaboration, for their complete renunciation of the fundamental principles and tactics of revolutionary Marxism, for their declared and active aid in the plans for strangling the Spanish revolution, plotted by national and international capitalism, the C.P. and the P.S.U.C. play the role of agents of the bourgeoisie in the working class movement; they are more dangerous for the revolution than the bourgeoisie itself, since the Marxist label with which they adorn themselves facilitates their penetration into the ranks of the proletariat. The supreme interests of the revolution demand constant and implacable criticism of the political positions of these parties, criticism which will contribute effectively in accentuating the differentiation within them, thereby drawing the proletarian elements towards a revolutionary position.
The actual events have clearly shown the ideologic inconsistency of the so-called left of the Spanish Socialist Party, whose revolutionary phraseology had given birth to so many hopes among a goodly number of the vanguard of the working class. Virtually nothing remains of the left tendencies which existed on the eve of July 19th.
There is no fundamental difference between the tendencies of the right, left or center ; all of _ them are dominated by a common denominator — the policy of the People’s Front — which leads them to renounce the revolutionary positions of the proletariat and to play the game of the democratic bourgeoisie. But at the base of the party it is easy to discern profound uneasiness, produced principally by the attempts of Stalinism to absorb the party — as it has already absorbed the youth — and to subject it to the policy of the Third International. Many of the old militants look with grief and with a dumb feeling of despair and protest upon this work of destruction, systematically carried out against the organization which they built with so much effort, and upon the introduction of methods which are repugnant to their socialist conscience and the traditions of their party. On the other hand, the scandalously opportunist policy of the C. P., characterized by a monstrous deforming of Marxism, arouses a lively and justified fear among the thousands of workers sincerely revolutionary who have joined the Spanish Socialist Party and who realize with alarm the penetration of the Stalinists into their ranks. The mission of our party should be to help those elements to see the situation clearly, trying to guide them along the correct path in a friendly way, that is to say, to make them understand the necessity of a clear policy of proletarian intransigence served by a strong revolutionary party. Temporary agreements are desirable with those elements who, without fully accepting our revolutionary positions, are ready to fight against the Stalinist burocracy and its method of corruption.
The C.N.T. and the F.A.I, have agreed with us from the very first moment, in recognizing that the war and the revolution are inseparable; they have also agreed with us in the estimate of some fundamental problems — such as the question of the army, public order, etc. But the vacillations of these organizations on the question of power, and their strictly syndicalist position which tends to eliminate parties (which does not hinder their establishing actual collaboration with socialists and official communists thru the U.G.T.) — these things have tended to prevent our agreement from having the fruitful results that we have desired.
Anarcho-syndicalism has notably corrected its previous positions, but the weight of tradition has prevented it from carrying these corrections to their logical consequences. Thus, for example, it has renounced its inveterate apoliticalism by entering the government of the republic of Catalonia — that is to say, entering the government of collaboration with bourgeois Republican parties — without daring to adopt an affirmative attitude towards the question of the formation of a Workers and Peasants Government, which would be more easily understandable to the workers of the C.N.T. If the C.N.T. and the F.A.I, would adopt this attitude, the victorious destiny of our revolution would be guaranteed. Only the conquest of power would permit the rapid and effective solution of all the problems which the war and the revolution have posed.
Without giving up tenacious and patient work towards leading the masses of the C.N.T. to this position, so urgently demanded by the actual situation, we should orientate all our force towards bringing about closer relations between our party and the organizations of the C.N.T. and the F.A.I., our natural allies under the present circumstances. The very important agreements already manifested and the necessity of defending the revolution in danger, demand an effective alliance which does not presuppose by any means the giving up of mutual criticism nor the renunciation of the defense of our respective positions.
The Conquest of Power and the Workers and Peasants Government
6. The imperious duty of the moment then is the conquest of power by the proletariat in alliance with the peasants and the formation of a Workers and Peasants Government, the only government capable of organizing the broken-down economy and establishing a revolutionary order in the country in accordance with the needs of the people and the war.
This government, in order that it may have effective revolutionary power, cannot be chosen from above as a result of combinations more or less diplomatic, nor can it arise from a parliament constituted thru the customary bourgeois-democratic norms. A government formed by delegates from workers organizations chosen by the higher committees of the same, will undoubtedly represent a forward step with respect to the present situation, but it will not be the kind of government that the circumstances demand. Elected under such conditions, it would certainly not go much further than the position of the People’s Front.
The Workers and Peasants Government must be the direct expression of the revolutionary will of the worker and peasant masses of the country and, for that very reason, it cannot rise from the Parliament of February 16, completely outlived by events, nor can it come from elections based on universal suffrage. The bourgeois parliament must be dissolved and in its place must be called a congress which will lay down the economic, social and political bases of a Spain freed from capitalist domination, which is being forged on the fields of battle and which will choose a Workers and Peasants Government. Such an assembly cannot be of the bourgeois-democratic type, that is to say, it cannot be based on the right of representation of all classes, but it must reflect the new situation created by the civil war and the revolution, conceding all rights to those who are supporting the revolution with arms in their hands or with productive labor. In a word, the congress must be formed by delegates from the trade unions, from the peasants and from the soldiers.
Those same organs should constitute the basis for the transformation of the whole machinery of power, beginning with the municipalities, with the modifications in detail which circumstances demand. The orientation which the P.O.U.M. advances can be summarized in these two fundamental slogans:
1. Conquest of power by the working class.
2. Institution of a socialist regime.
In the present period of the revolution, the conquest of power by the proletariat does not necessarily imply armed insurrection. The positions which the working class still holds in spite of the retrogression suffered by the revolution; the specific gravity of the proletariat and its organizations, and above all the fact that it continues to hold a great part of the arms in its hands permit the peaceful conquest of power. To accomplish this, all that is needed is that the proletariat regain confidence in its own force and decide resolutely to impose its will. It depends entirely on this whether the correlation of forces of July 19th will be reestablished and whether the working class will know how to utilize that relation of forces for its own benefit, or what amounts to the same thing, for the benefit of the revolution.
The conquest of power by the proletariat signifies the absolute hegemony of the working class for the purpose of implacably crushing every attempt at counterrevolution, and of suppressing the bourgeoisie. This hegemony of the working class can under no circumstances identify itself with the dictatorship of one party, but presupposes the widest working class democracy, the most absolute right of criticism for every section of the proletariat, participation of everyone in the common task. Only the exploiting classes will be deprived of all political rights. When classes have completely disappeared, organs of compulsion will become superfluous and the state will disappear.
On conquering power, the working class will not limit itself to utilizing the old state machinery—as the democratic bourgeoisie did — but will destroy it to its very roots. With the help of committees of workers, peasants and soldiers, it will transform from top to bottom the whole governmental machine and will institute a cheap government and one that is truly democratic. A cheap government will be possible through the destruction of the old and expensive burocratic system, the elimination of high salaries, establishing the principle that no one can receive a higher wage than a skilled worker, and thru the vigilant and active control of the working class.
True democracy will be guaranteed by the effective participation of the immense majority of the country in the administration of public affairs, the filling of all posts by election, and the recall of their incumbents at any time. Finally, the Workers and Peasants Government will be the government of military victory, for only a government of such a character is capable of creating the indispensable morale for victory; only a government of such character can organize a solid war industry, nationalize banks, eliminate speculation, concentrate and mobilize all the economic resources of the country for the war.
The Working Class and the Petty Bourgeoisie
7. One of the arguments to which the reformists resort most frequently to justify their collaborationist and counter-revolutionary politics is the necessity of maintaining the block with the parties of the petty bourgeoisie so as to assure the support of an important section of the population.
The petty bourgeoisie constitutes, in effect, a factor of major importance in every country, and particularly in those countries in which, like our own, it has become a part of the capitalist system only after long delay. But because of its intermediate character, standing midway between the big bourgeoisie and the working class because of its economic dependence, it cannot play an independent role in political life. Vacillating and undecided, it always moves between the two basic classes — carrying out the policies now of one and now of the other.
The parties of the petty bourgeoisie maintain the fiction of independent politics — politics which is neither bourgeois nor proletarian — but in reality they are always an instrument in the hands of big capital and for that reason an instrument against the interests of the petty bourgeoisie itself whose representative they pretend to be. Their politics leads straight to the consolidation of the economic positions of big capital and therefore to the complete stifling of the petty bourgeoisie. The alliance with the petty bourgeois parties does not represent an alliance with the petty bourgeoisie but an alliance against it. The Spanish experience from April 14th to the present moment presents eloquent testimony to this fact. The petty bourgeoisie and, in first place, the peasants, have not seen satisfied a single one of their fundamental demands. Whatever they have secured, they owe to the independent action of the working class.
The petty bourgeoisie, potentially, is neither revolutionary nor reactionary. They want order — any kind of order — but order. And such order only the bourgeoisie or the proletariat can establish. When the working class acts decisively and gives the feeling that it knows what it wants and where it is going, the petty bourgeoisie is neutralized, and a large section will follow the proletariat, or more correctly, will be dragged along by it. But if the working class fails at the decisive moment, the petty bourgeoisie loses faith in it, turns its back upon it and once more fastens its eyes on the big bourgeoisie. If at such a moment, there were to come along .1 mm. or less demagogic leader, it would not be difficult for him to take advantage of the disenchantment of I petty bourgeois masses and convert them into a social base for a movement destined to crush the working class and institute a regime of bloody dictatorship of big capital (fascism).
The petty bourgeoisie has gone thru the experience of the democratic republic. To repeat that experience means to prepare new defeats and to create the necessary premises for the incorporation of the petty bourgeois masses in the camp of reaction. On the other hand, if the working class should appear in the eyes of the popular masses as the true leader of the revolution, as the only force capable of setting up a strong regime a new order — the petty bourgeoisie would follow it just as they followed it after the glorious July days.
The politics of attracting the petty bourgeois does not, then, consist of holding back the rhythm of the revolution but in speeding it up. The more decided and audacious the proletariat shows itself to be, the more certain it can be of the collaboration of the petty bourgeoisie, or at least of neutralizing it.
Fundamental Tasks of the Working Class
8. The division of the working class is undoubtedly one of the greatest obstacles to winning the confidence of the petty bourgeois masses in the invincible force of the proletariat. Trade union unity (the absence of which has unfavorable repercussions upon the socialist organization of production) would constitute a great step forward, but the reformist burocracy systematically sabotages such unity for it senses that a unified trade union movement would soon slip from its hands and would pass into the ranks of the revolutionary elements. To push forward and to impose this unity is the bounden duty of the working class.
On the political field, organs of unity should be built to meet these circumstances. At the end of 1933, the Workers Alliances appeared destined to play in our country, the role that the Soviets played in the Russian revolution. These Alliances showed their magnificent revolutionary efficacy during the Asturias insurrection in October 1934. Formed by all the parties and by all workers organizations without exception, the Workers Alliance of Asturias showed the world conclusively what prodigious heroism and initiative a united proletariat is capable of. But the policy of the People’s Front frustrated those splendid beginnings and once more the working class marches at the tail of the Republican parties. If the Workers Alliances had not been liquidated by the champions of class collaboration, events would have taken a completely different turn and the proletariat would undoubtedly have seized the hegemony.
To revive the Workers Alliances today would be a mistake because they belong to a stage already left behind. Congresses of delegates from the trade unions, peasants and soldiers, would represent substantially the same thing today as the Workers Alliances did in the previous stage. Upon these congresses should be based the government of the working class; from them must arise the organs of power; they must incarnate the unity of action of the workers above the differences which separate them on the trade union and political fields. Upon them will be based the future Iberian Union of Socialist Republics.
Neither trade union unity nor these assemblies of workers, peasants and soldiers delegates, exclude the possibility of the formation of alliances among the different sectors of the working class movement which may agree on the conception of the moment and the attitude of the working class. On the contrary, such alliances arc clearly indicated by the present situation.
In the concrete case of our revolution, necessity dictates the formation of a Revolutionary Workers Front formed by the C.N.T., F.A.I, and the P.O.U.M., organizations which agree on the necessity of blocking the advance of reformism and the return to the conditions which existed prior to July 19th and who agree on pushing forward the proletarian revolution to its end. A program of clear and concrete aims — aims perfectly realizable today — should be the basis of the Revolutionary Worker Front — whose formation will indisputably determine a fundamental change in the correlation of forces and will give a powerful impulse to the revolution.
Intervention and International Solidarity
9. One of the favorite arguments used by the reformists against the proletarian revolution is that the revolution will inevitably be crushed by the capitalist countries.
The working class would commit a profound blunder if it did not count upon the probability of foreign armed intervention against the Spanish revolution. But if the proletariat were not able to launch upon decisive revolutionary struggle except it were certain that no such intervention would take place, it would have to renounce before-hand every hope of emancipation. For it is evident that international capitalism will not be able to look on passively at the victory of the proletariat in any country of the world.
The danger of intervention exists and, if the decisive factor were superior military technique, the defeat of the proletariat could be considered certain. But there is a moral factor infinitely more efficacious, the expansive force of the revolution. Triumphant in Spain, it would have immediate repercussions in the other countries, particularly in Italy and Germany, to whose regimes it would deal a mortal blow.
The Russian revolution was the immediate cause of the collapse of the Central Powers; it made the capitalist regime tremble in all Europe and provoked a movement of international proletarian solidarity so intense that it contributed powerfully to the failure of the intervention. The consequences of the Spanish revolution can be no less transcendental. The victory of the working class of our country would immediately alter in favor of the proletariat , the correlation of forces in the entire world , giving a critical impulse to the international proletarian revolution.
Workers Age was the continuation of Revolutionary Age, begun in 1929 and published in New York City by the Communist Party U.S.A. Majority Group, lead by Jay Lovestone and Ben Gitlow and aligned with Bukharin in the Soviet Union and the International Communist (Right) Opposition in the Communist International. Workers Age was a weekly published between 1932 and 1941. Writers and or editors for Workers Age included Lovestone, Gitlow, Will Herberg, Lyman Fraser, Geogre F. Miles, Bertram D. Wolfe, Charles S. Zimmerman, Lewis Corey (Louis Fraina), Albert Bell, William Kruse, Jack Rubenstein, Harry Winitsky, Jack MacDonald, Bert Miller, and Ben Davidson. During the run of Workers Age, the ‘Lovestonites’ name changed from Communist Party (Majority Group) (November 1929-September 1932) to the Communist Party of the USA (Opposition) (September 1932-May 1937) to the Independent Communist Labor League (May 1937-July 1938) to the Independent Labor League of America (July 1938-January 1941), and often referred to simply as ‘CPO’ (Communist Party Opposition). While those interested in the history of Lovestone and the ‘Right Opposition’ will find the paper essential, students of the labor movement of the 1930s will find a wealth of information in its pages as well. Though small in size, the CPO plaid a leading role in a number of important unions, particularly in industry dominated by Jewish and Yiddish-speaking labor, particularly with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union Local 22, the International Fur & Leather Workers Union, the Doll and Toy Workers Union, and the United Shoe and Leather Workers Union, as well as having influence in the New York Teachers, United Autoworkers, and others.
PDF of original book: https://archive.org/download/CivilWarInSpain/CWS_text.pdf