A. Lozowsky

Another Step Forward

(22 March 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 30, 29 March 1923, pp. 233–234.
Also from International Press Correspondence (Weekly), Vol. 3 No. 12, 29 March 1923, pp. 182–183.
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.

Berlin, March 22, 1923

The lnternational Conference at Frankfort carried us another step forward on the road to uniting all proletarian forces for the struggle against war and Fascism. This conference aroused the greatest interest among the workers, and rightly so. It was the first international conference which had been held since the occupation of the Ruhr valley, at which all questions were thoroughly debated. The soul-saving speeches which the leaders of the Amsterdam International delivered on the subject of the Ruhr invasion need not be counted. Of course nobody has thought of taking these reformist tea-parties seriously; even those who took part in them knew perfectly well that nothing would come of them. When Fimmen reflected on the passivity of the Amsterdam International, and began to shed tears, his colleague Oudegeest wrote an article in which he endeavored to prove that these speeches of Fimmen were to be explained by his “exhaustion”. We do not know whether Fimmen is really exhausted or not, or whether it was the proletarian conscience which spoke in him – but it is an unalterable fact that the leaders of the Amsterdam International admitted their own impotence; nay more, they admitted that they have no wish to carry out the resolutions passed at the Hague.

That which both the Amsterdam and the 2. International failed to do has been accomplished by the Communist International and the Red International of Labor Unions. The communist parties and the revolutionary trade unions, and these alone rose up determinedly against the predatory invasion by French imperialism; they alone roused the masses to a real struggle. These revolutionary actions have been welcomed with the greatest sympathy by many workers still belonging to reformist organizations. The Frankfort conference was not only attended by communists and revolutionary syndicalists, but also by workers belonging to the German social democratic and independent social democratic parties. The social democratic workers took part in the conference against the will of their leaders. When they were faced by the alternative of either submitting to the anti-proletarian decisions of their leaders, and of thus weakening the struggle against war, or of acting against their leaders’ decisions and lending their aid to strengthen the anti-imperialist and anti-Fascist front, they chose the latter course: they acted as real proletarians. In this way a united front has been actually created, a front upon whose strength the life of the working masses hangs in the most literal sense of the word, It is true that but few social democratic workers attended the Frankfort Conference (only ten in all), but this small group, which preferred a united front with the revolutionary workers to a united front with the bourgeoisie, mirrored the ever-growing indignation of the broad masses against the anti-class policy of their leaders.

But the Frankfort Conference was not only a manifestation of the ever-increasing united front of the proletariat, it was above all a consultation held by men of ripe revolutionary experience, who set themselves concrete questions as to the most effective methods to be adopted in the struggle against war danger and Fascism, as to the means to be taken for combining the broad masses in united organizations with one united wilt, and for assembling the scattered proletarian forces in order to lead them against the growing reaction. The Frankfort social democratic journal, the Volksstimme, ironically named our conference a “conference of war”. This newspaper wanted to stigmatize us by such a designation, as the social democrats were not pleased with my declaration that we were no peace conference, but a class war conference. In this sense the Frankfort Conference really was a war conference. Its task was to collect the experiences gained in the class struggle in every country, to sum up these experiences, and to work out practical forms and measures for the class war. – We are quite prepared to admit the designation of our conference as a war conference, for it indicated the lines on which the class war is to be carried on. Our army is the whole working class; our front forms a zigzag line, traversing every country in a thousand directions. We have the largest army in the world. But a part of our army is still in a state of complete passivity, is still under the influence of bourgeois ideology; one part of it is poisoned by reformism, and only one part of it is gathered round the flag of class war. It was the work of our conference to weld the revolutionary workers ‘more closely together, to build a bridge between the revolutionary workers and the workers who are members of reformist organizations, or who belong to no labor organization and stand apathetically aside from the social struggle developing around them to draw all these over to the side of irreconcilable class war.

Was the Frankfort Conference successful in fulfilling these tasks? Undoubtedly. Above all, the conference adopted a number of practical measures calculated to create new fulcrums for our struggles: the control commissions, committees of action, international fraternities. etc. All these are new centres of organization, whose task lies in drawing the masses more closely together for their struggle against imperialism. The culmnation of all the organizations formed is the International Committee of Action, a body standing outside of party, and commissioned to lead the work of the revolutionary workers of every political trend, to enter into close relations with all labor organizations, and to do its utmost to convene an international labor congress.

The International Conference passed a number of concrete organizatory resolutions, and in addition to this imparted concrete instructions to the revolutionary workers of the most important countries as to their immediate tasks under present circumstances, and pointed out the subjects on which the proletariat of each country must concentrate under existing international conditions. The program has been worked out carefully; and this program is no product of a mere national movement. It is a product of the experiences gained by the revolutionary movement in all countries.

The Frankfort Conference differed from the Hague conference in that it did not occupy itself with pacifist speechmaking. The men who met in Frankfort were no pacifists, but. revolutionists; no phrase-makers, but men of action; and they were thus able to enter into every question of our complicated class strategy.

The most important strategic question for the working class is that of the international co-ordmation of action. We have seen how the Amsterdam and 2 Internationals which were restored with so much trouble after the war, resolved themselves into their national constituents as soon as the war clouds lowered in Europe. The pacifist gossipers of all countries made lame speeches on the League of Nations, and inveighed against Poincaré for his ungentlemanly behavior, but all the same they continued to prefer the cultivation of national narrow-mindedness, and the preference of “national interests” to class interests. The Frankfort Conference has provided an actual object lesson of what the international solidarity of the proletariat really means. While the French and Belgian reformists were making drawing-room speeches, the French communists and revolutionary syndicalists appeared at the Frankfort Conference and there declared, before the workers of all countries, that they would exert every endeavor to break the neck of rampant imperialism. And they were not deterred from attending the conference by the fact that dozens of communists and syndicalists are still in prison for participating in the Essen conference. In such manner do the revolutionary workers of all countries regard the duties imposed upon them by the international complications and international conflicts of today.

The leaders of the Amsterdam and 2. Internationals did not wish to appear at the Frankfort Conference, but as they had to do something in view of the Ruhr occupation, or otherwise they might lose the support of all workers, the reformists of Italy, France, England, and Belgium assembled in Paris at the same time as the Frankfort Conference was being held, for the purpose of seeking a solution for the problems agitating the international proletariat Vandervelde, Renaudel, MacDonald, and Modigliani, resolved to send a deputation to Berlin to negotiate with the German social democrats on the reparations and on the Ruhr occupation. A strange decision to come to! In the first place, why was it necessary to call the reformists of the Entente lands together first, why not have invited the German reformists at once? The thing is perfectly clear: The reformists of France, Belgium, and of the countries diplomatically connected with them, felt themselves to be in the position of victors with regard to the German reformists, and settled [?] upon a course with regard to them just as the Entente bourgeoisie acts towards the German bourgeoisie. As soon as two representatives of Entente reformism are gathered together, they begin to cry out about the reparations, as if it were only France and Belgium which were devastated by the war. All this is perfectly incomprehensible so long as we regard the reformists as representatives of the working class, but as soon as we regard them as representatives of the “Nation”, that is, of their own bourgeoisie, tne’r proceedings become perfectly comprehensible.

Fascism, recognized as a preventive counter-revolution, was accorded great attention by the Frankfort Conference. Fascism is raising its head everywhere, it hopes to finally suppress the discontented masses, and to establish the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie for long decades. But what is the difference between Fascism and ordinary, non-Fascist reaction? The fact that Fascism misuses the working masses by demagogic methods, that it endeavors to utilize the most radical watchwords, that it attempts to form labor organizations of its own. Fascism disintegrates the labor organizations, tries to split them up from within, to demoralize them, in order to be better able to strangle them. Not only is Fascism the highest form of reaction, it is at the same time the embodiment of the extremest bellicose nationalism, leading inevitably to fresh wars. Therefore the Frankfort Conference not only worked out a program for combatting war, but at the same time it laid down the lines of struggle against Fascism.

The Frankfort Conference has shown us that it is not only the communists and revolutionary syndicalists in the working class who are desirous of fighting against war, but many other working class elements as well; it has shown that the united front tactics proclaimed by the Comintern and the R.I.L.U. have their source in a profound need of the broad masses.

the Frankfort Conference was the highest cousummation of international solidarity in another sense also, in that the separate groups faced the possible results of their impending joint struggles against the whole bourgeoisie. The International Conference, in declaring that the first task of the revolutionary workers of Germany is the overthrow of the Cuno government and the establishment of a workers’ government, faced the fact that this may, lead to a war on the part of the Great and Little Ententes against the social revolution in Germany. No one doubts for a moment that the workers’ government in Germany signifies an alliance for life or death between revolutionary Germany and Soviet Russia. To a conference of internationalists such an alliance is a nutter of course. It would be a strange thing if Soviet Russia would permit the strangulation of the social revolution in Germany. This was so perfectly obvious to everyone that the question did not even give rise to a debate. All were fully convinced that when the German proletariat has overthrown its bourgeoisie, and finds itself confronted by European imperialism, then the Russian proletariat and the Red Army will fight hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder with the German workers until the end, until complete victory over the bourgeoisie.

The most obstinate and conservative reformist is now forced to recognize that it is only the revolutionary workers who are carrying on any effective struggle against the Ruhr occupation. It is true that the German bourgeoisie, and its allies, the German social democrats, continue to repeat, day after day, that the German communists are agents of Poincaré; at the same time the whole yellow press of France maintains that the French communists and revolutionary syndicalists are the paid hirelings of Cuno. This insolvence is nothing new. It is a well known line of tactics, invariably followed by ruling classes and disciples: to represent the revolutionists of their country to be agents of a foreign power. Let them say what they will: let the dogs bay the moon! The revolutionary workers of alt countries took the first step in Essen. The Frankfort Conference has taken the second step in the same direction: Ail international committee of action has been formed, national and district committees, commissions, fraternities, etc. have been called into existence. The path is traced out before us. It only remains to work, to work, and once more to work – and the viclory is ours!

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