Presidium of the Central Council
of the Russian Trade Unions

The Labor Movement

To the Workers of all Countries!

(6 March 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 23, 6 March 1923, p. 181.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2021). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


The Ruhr valley, the spring of Germany’s industrial life, has been occupied by French troops, and the workers are exposed to double exploitation: from the capitalists at home and from the foreign conqueror. Europe is standing on the threshold of a new world war. A flood of nationalism, a precursor of fresh butchery among the peoples, is spreading among a section of the workers, and those infected with this nationalist venom are the old opportunist leaders of the socialist and trade union movement. The threatened war confronts every worker with the question: how imperialism and its results are to be best combatted.

The German proletariat groans under double exploitation. Hie soft hope of the German worker is the activity of the international proletariat, the help of the worker of all countries. And in tile face of these events, what are the leaders of the Amsterdam International doing? Those leaders who recently swore at The Hague, that they would prevent the outbreak of a fresh war by an international general strike? When the delegation of the central council of the Russian trade unions proposed that the question of the impending occupation of the Ruhr be placed on the agenda of the peace congress, the motion was rejected. When the Russian delegation expressed its doubts whether the organizations affiliated to the Amsterdam International would really carry out the threat of a general strike, it was attacked on all sides. When the Russian delegation proposed that a united front of all Workers, regardless of political tendencies, be formed against the danger of war, this proposal was also rejected.

Today, weeks after the end of the Hague congress, it can be plainly seen who was in the right. What has become of the vow to proclaim a general international strike? What are the French reformist trade unions doing? Why are we hearing nothing from Vandervelde and Martens, the representatives of the labor party and the trade unions of Belgium, and why are they not trying to influence their government by a strike?

Why does the Amsterdam International remain inactive? The whole of these elements are proving their bankruptcy. The Belgian labor party and the trade unions, the Socialist Party of France and the reformist Labor Confederation, the Amsterdam International – their only recourse, in this hour of danger for the labor movement of all countries, is the League of Nations. The same thing, however, has happened before. The Amsterdam International has done nothing else in the three years of its existence. It is plain to all observers that this procedure leaves the French government unmoved, and that French imperialism can only be curbed by the organized action of the proletariat. But the Amsterdamers refuse to hear anything of violence against their own bourgeoisie. They evade all such action, for they, the Belgian and French followers of the Amsterdam International, defend the economic interests of “their” bourgeois native country; they are convinced that the reparation demands are just, and those who recognize the right to reparations must also recognize the right to use force for obtaining their payment.

And what are the lenders of the German trade unions doing in the meanwhile? They have already formed a bloc with their bourgeoisie, and have called for that civil peace, that unity between employers and employed, which marked the events of August 1914. Thus, on the occasion of the first international collision after the Hague peace conference, the Amsterdam International and its affiliated organizations reveal their complete bankruptcy. They have failed because they have continually subordinated the interests of the international proletariat to national interests. This has led to the substitution of the national front for the class war. The war of class against class has been transformed into the conflict of one state against another, one people against another. They have failed, because this has led to the fate of each of these organizations being bound up with the fate of its own bourgeoisie, and the interests of the working class being pushed aside in favor of the interests of the bourgeois state.

The occupation of the Ruhr district, and the prompt betrayal on the part of the Amsterdam International, again prove the complete hollowness of this organization. The Amsterdam International loves to call attention to its 24 million members. Where are they, these 24 million proletarians? With what means has the Amsterdam International held them together, in what way has it induced them to act in the face of recent events? If the 24 million workers alleged to lie in the Amsterdam International really expressed their readiness for active and earnest struggle under the leadership of the Amsterdamers, if they really wished to prevent the adventure of the French imperialists – nothing could resist their mighty force, imperialism would collapse before the impact of their united and determined attack.

Workers of all countries! The national policy of the leaders of proletarian organizations has already cost the working class countless victims. The years of the world war were years of mass annihilation of the working class. To-day. we are confronted by all ever-increasing acuteness of imperialist conflicts, and again witness how the interests of the working class are subordinated to those of the bourgeoisie. Once again nationalism occupies the forefront of daily interest, once again we hear speeches on unity between employers and employed, and all this is evoked by the Amsterdam International.

May this fresh treachery, in the face of the danger of war, serve as a grave warning to all sincere proletarians. The workers of France, Germany, Belgium, and England will now understand why the Russian delegation voted against all the resolutions moved at the Hague by the leaders of the Amsterdam International. They will now understand our justifiable mistrust of those who pursue a national policy, and at the same time threaten ail international general strike in case war should break out This threat was a pure deception, a miserable farce, a petty demagogic device, a derision of the workers. And therefore were the representatives of the Russian trade unions so emphatic in rejecting all the declarations of the Hague congress. We know the past of these initiators of the congress loo well to be able to place any faith in their promises. Each of the different groups is chained to the capital of its native country, and they will disappear from the earth with the disappearance of capital.

While the leaders of the Amsterdam trade union federation and of the Second International are forming a national united front and drawing up empty protests, only the communists and revolutionary trade unions are fighting against war. In France and Germany alike they are carrying on a ruthless fight against their bourgeoisie, following Karl Liebknecht’s slogan: “The enemy of the proletariat is in his own country”.

Tl»e salvation of the Ruhr workers, and of the whole German proletariat, now threatened with strangulation by French imperialism, is only possible if the international proletariat increases its activities and renounces all coalition with the bourgeoisie, that is, if the international proletariat recognizes the program represented by the Russian trade unions and the international organizations of the proletariat, the Communist International and the the Red International of Labor Unions.

Down with international capital!

Down with the shameful peace of Versailles!

Down with Imperialism!

Down with the reformist lackeys of Imperialism!

Long live the united front of the proletariat against the united front of the bourgeoisie!


Presidium of the Central Council of the Russian Trade Unions:
Chairman: M. Tomsky. Secretary: A. Dogadov.

Members of the presidium:
Andreyev, Antipoff, Yevdokimov, Lepse, Lozovsky, Lutovinoff, Melnichansky, Rudsutak, Rykov, Senyushkin, Ugarov, Schmidt.

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