A. Lozovsky

Lecture No. 1

The World’s Trade Union Movement Before and After the War


IN order to understand the development and the ways of the world trade union movement in the post-war period, we will have to give a short characterization of its conditions before and during the war. Before the war the trade union movement could be characterized as follows, first of all from the geographical point of view it was not yet a world movement; it was mostly developed in Europe and in the Anglo Saxon countries, and on the other hand in the British colonies, such as Canada, Australia, South Africa. All Asia without mentioning Africa — this great area of working masses — which by its population is much greater than the so-called civilized world, had not been drawn into the world’s socialist nor into the world’s trade union movement, for the simple reason that the labor movement began to crystalize in these countries only at the end of the war and mainly in the post-war period. So from the geographical point of view we have a trade union movement which is confined within a certain territorial frame, which can only be called a world movement with certain reservations.


In the whole world before the war there were about ten million organized workers, which were organized into unions of all kinds of political shades, beginning with anarcho-syndicalists and ending with Catholic, democrat, Protestant and so forth. The bulk of these organized workers were in Europe. Taking the main countries we get the following picture: Before the war in Great Britain in round numbers were about 4,000,000 organized workers; in Germany, about 3,00,000; in the United States, 2,700,000; in France, about 1,000,000; in Italy, 900,000; in Belgium, 200,000; in Holland, 220,000, etc., etc. We will stop with these figures in order to show the real value, to show what they really contain.

France before the war was showing 1,000,000 members in the trade unions; but in the General Confederation of Labor, the only organization which could be called a class organization, there were no more than 500,000. The rest were unions of agricultural workers which stood on the other side of the national trade union movement — almost on the other side; unions of government employees, which in fact were in opposition to the CGT; here we also find some little yellow unions; in short the official statistics include in the trade unions every organization, which under the law of 1884 had to register its by-laws — and even without such registration was under that law.

It is clear such figures cannot give the real picture of the trade union movement, for such a picture we can get only when we know not only the amount but also the contents—in other words the political composition and the political movements which exist in that group of workers.

The same about Germany. Here were 3,500,000 members, at a time when the reformist unions show only 2,500,000.

The same about England, where instead of four million and a couple of hundred thousand, we should say a maximum of about three million workers had, if not a class conscious platform, at least very close to it.

In the whole world we had about ten million organized workers. In the first question which naturally comes up—What actually did that big army represent?—we have to look behind the figures. That ten million is a big army is shown by the last war. Ten million well organized workers, knowing what they want, distributed all over the world, are a great power. We can say without exaggeration that, if these ten million organized workers had been not only revolutionary in mood but revolutionary in fact, the world war would have never come about. You will see farther on that this mass of workers represented a very vivid and varied picture.


The trade union movement of that time was divided on the main lines, between those having a class-conscious point of view and those of non-class viewpoint. Among those with a class conscious viewpoint we can count the principal trade union bodies of Germany, England, France, Italy and the Scandinavian countries, which in their programs, resolutions, etc., pointed out the class struggle and which theoretically, at least, were opposed to class collaboration.

The non-class unions, were those which in their programs declared openly for cooperation between classes and for social peace; these were the Catholic, democratic, Protestant, and other unions. We should also count here the yellow unions, which theoretically recognized the class and social peace, but, in practice had been conducting a class struggle—but not on the side of the workers; rather on the side of the bourgeoisie. This is the first grouping which divided the great mass of organized workers and which is the primary classification of the trade unions existing at that time.

But this rough division of the class and non-class is, in itself, not enough if we do not explain what the class unions at that time really were.

Examining that part of the unions which, before the war, united about three-fourths of all organized workers on a class basis, we can point out in general three political groupings which had been formed during a long historical period. On one side was trade unionism—taking here trade unionism as a certain ideological and political movement—then anarcho-syndicalism and third, social-democratic trade unions. These are the three different clear political divisions into which the class trade union movement was divided. Let us take up the characteristics of each one of these movements.


What do we understand in the trade union literature and politics under trade unionism? This name, which was adopted from the Anglo-Saxon countries, became during the long period of development of the English and American trade union movement not only an external formula or symbol for a certain trade union in a certain country, but it represented also a certain ideological and political content of the trade union movement. Under trade unionism we understand such a form of the labor and trade union movement which has for its purpose only the narrow economic problems of bettering conditions of labor, higher wages, etc.

Trade unionism is a theory which has grown out of the practical Anglo-Saxon labor movement, which in fact does not have in its program, in theory or in practice, the overthrowal of capitalism, but only the betterment of conditions within the capitalist system.

So the main characterization of trade unionism (also a characterization of reformism, which is understood widely outside the borders of Anglo-Saxon countries) is the struggle within the frame of the capitalist system and the conception of that system as a permanent one within the frame of which we have to struggle and better the conditions of the working class. Most of the practical and theoretical workers of the Anglo-Saxon labor movement openly construed the problems of the trade union only in the sense of bettering the conditions of the working class under capitalism and even put up the theory of the existence of three main factors, Labor, Capital, and Society (public).

What the trade union leaders understood by the “public” somewhat reminds us in Russia of our term “the third element.” There was such a third element in the zemstvo (councils of the rural citizenry), the intelligenzia, which was objectively counted as revolutionary but which played a somewhat separate role between the two main struggling classes. Under “public” they understood that part of the bourgeoisie which under the pressure of the working class came to the conclusion of the usefulness of the gradual betterment of the conditions of labor in the interests of capital itself.

The further characterization of the trade union form of the labor movement is its organizational division (structure) and the domination of the local over the general interest. These local or craft organizations which have been built up during decades still retain their local power at the present time, notwithstanding the fact that objective conditions force the labor movement to unite the small, loose parts, to amalgamate the unions into wider organizations uniting the workers of a whole industry. As a result of the domination of the sectional interests over the interests of the whole industry, we have now the domination of the narrow economic interests over the interests of the whole class. This is pure trade unionism.


The second movement, which represents the opposite side of the trade union movement is known by the name of “anarcho-syndicalism.” If trade unionism is connected with Anglo-Saxon countries, anarcho-syndicalism is connected with the Latin. The birth place of anarcho-syndicalism is France, there it had its greatest development and there also was created the theory which united numbers of workers of the Latin countries.

What are the main characteristics of anarcho-syndicalism? Trade unionism as we said, is devoted to the interests of one craft. Anarcho-syndicalism—and this is surely the progressive side of it—is devoted to the interests of the working class. It was a healthy reaction of a certain part of the proletariat against the opportunism and reformism which had existed in labor organization, trade union as well as political. The first characteristic of anarcho-syndicalism which differentiates it is that it puts first the general class interests and struggles—not for betterment within capitalism, but for the overthrow of the system.

The second characterization of the anarcho-syndicalist movement within the international labor movement is its anti-political character. Anarcho-syndicalists consider the union as the primary organ for the class struggle. They believe there are no other organizations except the trade unions which can conquer capitalism. All political parties—say the anarcho-syndicalists—beginning with the bourgeois and ending with the socialist, and at the present time with the Communist, are, from the social point of view, mixed organizations; while the trade unions represent a purely labor organization.

A party is a union of citizens. A trade union unites the producers. In the party there may be workers and also people from other classes. In a trade union—only workers. That is why the anarcho-syndicalists place the union ahead of the party. This is why the trade union happens to be the main weapon of the social revolution.

Besides that, in the opinion of the theoreticians and active workers of anarcho-syndicalism (of whom we may name Sorel, LaGuardelle, Grifuel) the characterization which differentiates the trade unions is that they not only are the basic stronghold of the working class in its struggle to overthrow capitalism, but also organizations around which the new society will be built. According to the belief of the anarcho-syndicalists the trade unions will not only make the revolution but will also create the new society. The trade unions will organize production, regulate production within the industries, will govern the public economy. This is the social philosophy of anarcho-syndicalism. But this is not all.

There is one more characteristic of anarcho-syndicalism which is, in full, inherited from the anarchist theory concerning the State: The State, independently of its form or contents, is an enemy. The structure of the State in itself—the anarchists always write the State with a capital “S”—is an organ of exploitation, of one part of the people by the others, and that exploitation is always used against the workers. Therefore, before the war, the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat was a very vague and theoretical one. The anarcho-syndicalists were always out-spoken against the dictatorship of the proletariat, for, from their theory, the latter will mean the continuation of exploitation. They are anti-state, claiming that the State should be destroyed. They thought of the new society which will arise from the social revolution as one in which the trade union will play the leading role. They imagined it as a non-state society, which would be regulated only by the trade unions and which would be occupied only by the problems of production, distribution, etc.

However, this is only in the future; but what differentiates the anarcho-syndicalists from the other trade unionists? Anarcho-syndicalism in its direct struggle uses some methods which differentiate it from other movements. First of all, it believed in the initiative of the minority, and according to its ideas that minority with initiative could in many cases take the place of the mass. The anarcho-syndicalists in general shared the anarchist distrust of the masses. The individual plays the more important role. The minority with initiative can not only start something, drag the masses along, but also build for the masses, instead of them.

This role of the “militant minority” is one of the main characteristics of the anarcho-syndicalist point of view. And, from this angle, they brought into the every-day struggle things that we do not see in other movements. They brought into the struggle an element of adventure which could always be seen in their custom of exaggeration of the role of the strike. Organizing strikes as often as possible, they even created a special terminology—“revolutionary exercises,” figuring that every strike is a good thing. They claim that a strike is always for the benefit of the working class and it drags in a certain amount of workers into the movement and sharpens the social relations and the struggle between the classes. A careful and long preparation, the study of the objective conditions of strikes, the realistic calculation of the relation of forces and the calculation of the role of the masses and the relation between the masses and the militant minority, all this has been entirely ignored by the anarcho-syndicalists and considered as of no importance at all.

They imagined the social revolution as beginning suddenly, without the necessary organizational, political and other historical surroundings. At last they present the idea of sabotage, or what we call the “economic terror;” as a means of compulsion against employers. They have been out-spoken against large, strong trade union treasuries, looking at it from the point of view that the trade unions are, as a matter of fact, like plain people, the one that has much money is not very active in the struggle; and therefore, the trade union that has much money in its treasury, will be afraid of losing it and will not be as militant and ready for strikes as necessary. This is, in short, the characterization of anarcho-syndicalism within the trade union movement of the world, and which is especially characteristic of the Latin countries, France, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Mexico, etc. In Italy, notwithstanding the fact that it is a Latin country, the trade union movement took another form.


Finally, we have the third movement, the social-democratic trade union movement, the most representative of which has been the German and Austrian trade unions. What are the characteristics of this type of trade union organization? It has to a certain degree been between trade unionism and anarcho-syndicalism. In theory, the social-democratic trade union movement arose from the necessity of creating a new social order. Therefore, it has been different than the pure trade unionism in that it had as its aims the problem of creating a new society, or the destruction—under certain conditions—of capitalism. It was socialistic in the sense that it had socialistic ideas. But we would be greatly mistaken if we would mix the socialist ideas, or in other words the socialist theory and resolutions about socialism, with the everyday practice—with the preparation of the coming of socialism.

The characteristic of the pre-war social-democratic trade union movement was the thought of the possibility of arriving at the new society by gradual transition, separate victories and separate changes of society. In this way, the overthrow of capitalism was not the aim of these unions, but the gradual change of society. And this development of socialism from a capitalist society they visioned as a developed form of democracy, a developed democratic society which spreads its democracy to the maximum. It is the development from political democracy, gradually becoming an economic and social democracy. This is the basis of the theory of the social-democratic trade union movement. Socialism, from their point of view, is the legal son of democracy. It should gradually grow out of the development of democratic forms.

And now we see that the characteristic of the social-democratic trade union movement which differentiates it is what we call “graduation” or slow evolutionary steps from one form into another. This idea has different names in different countries, but in general and more correctly it may be understood as “reformism,” which means the idea of gradual change of society by means of reforms. In France that which we call “gradation” has had the name of “possibilism.” In England the same thing has been called “Fabianism,” adopted by the so-called Socialists who are for a slow, gradual transition from one system into another.

The social-democratic trade union movement stands separate from the Social-Democratic Party. It believes somewhat in a division of function: The party has to do with politics, we, the trade unions, have to do with economics. The general problems of the labor movement are under the jurisdiction of the party, but we, the trade unions, should only have to deal with economics. And it is interesting that there were many cases where the trade unions of Germany refused to consider the question of a general strike under the pretext that it was not under their jurisdiction, that it was the business of the party.

We have, therefore, three ideological factions in the world's trade union movement, which, before the war, were often in conflict with each other. These conflicts were mostly conflicts of leaders of different countries, notwithstanding the fact that these factions existed in every country. In Germany, where the socialist movement was most influential, the anarcho-syndicalist movement was very weak and mostly in so-called “local unions.” In France, where the anarcho-syndicalist movement was the stronger, alongside with it there existed a powerful reformist trade union movement of pure German type. In America, and England where they have a specific type of trade union movement, other forms of the trade union movement also existed.


The ideological differences which existed in the trade union movement and the factional struggle within it found their expression also within the organizational struggle, and the last, in its order, found its expression in the International which was created before the war. The careful study of these various factions within the trade union movement will give an explanation—why the beginning of war was also the beginning of bankruptcy of the world-wide trade union and socialist movement.

What is the difference between the labor movement and the other forms of social movements? First of all, it is an international movement. Capital played a big role in malting it an international movement, if not by creating the same conditions of labor, as least by the same forms and methods of exploitation, which were the forerunners of the creation of international organization for the working class. Thus, the necessity of creating international organization—Internationals—was growing as long as capitalism was expanding into new countries. It was growing also because capitalism itself has been becoming more international and called forth as a power against itself the international labor organization.

What are the characteristics of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries? In that time capitalism created new organizations for better exploitation, it created new combines, trusts, syndicates, etc., in which it concentrated its power, thanks to which is was able to hold down the working masses. All that, and the development of capitalist exploitation beyond the border of the given nation, forced the working masses to such forms of unity which would also extend beyond the borders of the separate country, which would unite the workers independently of their belonging to one or the other nation or state.

Thus, the growth of capitalism, the growth of forms and methods of capitalist exploitation, the growth of the centralized State, the progress of technique, the means of communication, etc., all together forced the working class to seek new forms of connections in order to be able, by centralized effort in a united fight, to compel consideration from the employers.

But, notwithstanding the great necessity of a struggle in a united front, on an international scale, neither the international trade union movement nor the political movement had risen to united international action, although they did create political and trade union internationals.


In the trade union sphere of the pre-war period we have the International Secretariat of Trade Unions, which was created in 1902. Its conferences usually were connected with the International Socialist Congresses, as these trade unions usually sent their delegates to the latter Congresses. This International Secretariat was not an international organization in the sense which especially we, the Communists, understand it. It was not an organization for struggle; but an international organization for the exchange of information. We could easily call it an “international information bureau,” an international bureau for sending statistics to each other, an international post-office box, or anything but an international labor unison. It lacked the characteristic of a real labor international; that is, the domination of interests of the class as a whole over the interests of separate parts of the international.


Besides the International Secretariat of Trades Unions, there were international units of trade unions—or internationals—by industries The International Textile Union, the Metal Workers Union, The Wood Workers Union; the Barbers’ Union; the Cap Makers’ Union, the Needle Trades, etc., over twenty international unions, which could be more correctly called a semblance of international unity than real unity. In fact we cannot remember one time in the international labor movement before the war where any industrial international played a leading role in the international struggle, where the unions would take concurrent action in different countries.

Therefore, if we look at these internationals from the point of view of those problems which an international in general should solve, we must openly state that no such international in fact existed. They were organizations which called themselves “internationals.” They had stationery with their names upon it, but they were only indications of the necessity of militant internationals, which they themselves were not. The existence of these internationals proved the necessity of creating real international units. Their weakness characterized the degrees of the development of these international connections—otherwise the degrees of the development of the working class movement of the world.

Again, if we wish to get a clear understanding of those causes which led up to the disintegration of the labor movement of the world with the beginning of the war, let us see what these labor organizations represented, and what were the connections between them.

Only after we carefully acquaint ourselves with these organizations, will we understand why 1914 was the year of the complete disintegration, demoralization and disorganization of the international labor movement. The competition between international capitalist groups before the war, was reflected in the industrial international unions, and with the coming of the war, came out .more boldly. After the international Congress of Metal Workers in 1914, one of the former delegates at that Congress, Merrheim, at that time a revolutionary syndicalist, stated in an article that at that Congress the competition between the British and German metallurgy showed itself.

The labor movement of that period, although officially connected in international unity, in fact was filled with national prejudices, national separatism, and national interests. The questions of “fatherland” were superior to the interests of the working class, and the question of “defending the fatherland” was a principle accepted by the whole labor movement.


This was the situation in the international trade union movement at the moment the war came. From the point of view of the amount of the trade union membership of all countries, they at once began to shrink. The mass mobilizations which seized upon the adult population, tools from the ranks of the working class hundreds of thousands and millions of people, and therefore, the unions naturally began to shrink. For instance, in Germany, which before the war had 3,500,000 members in trade unions, at the end of 1915 had only 1,500,000.

In the reformist unions there were instead of the 2,500,000, less than 1,000,000. The French Confederation of Labor, which before the war had 500,000 members, at the end of 1915 not more than 150,000. Colossal changes also took place in other countries, in the amount of memberships. Thus we see that the direct influence of the war upon the trade unions was to shrink the membership and to empty the ranks of the unions.


But this was not the most important thing, as not only by the emptying of the ranks of the unions did the war attack the trade union movement, but this process also changed the old ideology, creating a new one, the ideology of the war period. This ideology in different countries had different names, but mainly it was called “war socialism.” What was the main feature of this ideology which was created by the leaders of the trade union and political movement during the war?

We think it can be characterized in the following short formula: “Fatherland, first of all.” Let us remember that at the beginning of the war one of the most talkative “left socialists” of France, Gustave Hervè, who turned over to social patriotism with lightening agility, has explained this evolution in the following way: “The workers”—said he—“were caught by the iron hand of the war by the throat, raised into the air and thrown back by the strong hand to the ground, and they felt first of all their own ground. Every one of the workers who was thrown by the hurricane of events fell to the ground of his own country.”

We have to say that although the reformists of all countries as it was already mentioned in the social sense have been believers in evolution, but in their own personal viewpoint, they have been developing in an entirely different way. In this case we may rather use the conception of revolution than evolution, for they have been changing their views literally over night. And this may be said not only about the reformists but also about a very great number of anarcho-syndicalists, who suddenly, somehow, began to feel that they had a “fatherland” although anti-patriotism was previously their hobby.


The military ideology of the labor movement brought great changes in the relation of forces. The modern war is not a war of small groups, or small armies. Modern war is a war of masses, a war of nations in the real sense of the word. It is a war of industry against industry. The tactics of the working class in this war, the tactics of its unions, the methods of struggle, play a decisive role in the modern war.

Not without reason did the garrulous Lloyd-George in 1916 say to the Metal Workers, “In this victory on the northern front won by the British Army, you, metal workers, played a great and decisive part.” Yes, the influence of industry played a decisive role in the war. The growth of military industry explains the numerical changes of the unions beginning in 1916-1917. But, on the other hand, this growth also explains the lowering of the level of the labor movement, for in the war industry, which was the basis of war and which concentrated all workers not gone to the front, the conditions of work were such that those who participated in it were in fact ideological and political participants in the war.

When we talk about the war between France and England on one side and German on the other, we have to talk not only about the war between the two groups of bourgeoisie, but also the war between the socialists and trade unions of these fighting countries. Here, the war was not only in the sense that the workers had been organized into unions and sent to the front and ordered to fire at their comrades with machine guns. The war which began in 1914 started a war also between the trade unions of the Allies and the unions of the Central Powers. It started a polemic and an ideological fight where the representatives of one side—the Allies, tried to prove to the German trade unions, that they were traitors to the principles of international socialism when they were supporting the Kaiser, and Legien, the leader of the German unions, tried to prove that the traitors were the unions of the Allies, because they were supporting the bourgeoisie allied to the Russian Czar.

This war between the leaders of the trade unions is most characteristic of the unions of the whole war period. It is even more characteristic than the c nduct of the trade unionists in every country who in the name of “defense of the fatherland” gave up the gains which had cost them man years of bitter struggle against their bourgeoisie. In England, by way of compromise between the cabinet ministers and the trade unions, they did away with the working rules which benefited labor. In Germany and other countries, by agreement with the trade unions was created an indefinite working day. In short, the trade unions during the war period were the basis of the struggle. They took an active ideological and political and, more than that, a military, participation in the international slaughter.

This division into military coalitions brought about the attempt in 1916 by the trade unionists of the Allies to organize their own conference in Leeds, England, and at that conference to create the new Trade Union International of the Allies. Every time that the representatives of the neutral countries, as for instance the Swiss, Norwegian, Holland, Sweden, tried to organize an international conference in order to bring together the members of one and the same trade union international, the representatives of “democracy” and “civilization,” that is, of France, England and other countries, bitterly refused to sit at one table with representatives from the Countries of the Central Powers.

Why did they refuse? Why did they not want to meet the representatives from the German trade unions in order to talk over the methods and forms of stopping the slaughter?—Because they were tied up with their bourgeoisie and a meeting between the allies of the bourgeoisie of the Allied powers and the allies of the bourgeoisie of the Central Powers would be a meeting between the two bourgeoisie themselves. And, as the war had been conducted for the destruction of the countries, for the economic destruction, for the economic exhaustion, it is natural that neither the French nor the British or the American unions, could agree to meet the Germans. The Germans expressed heir willingness to meet, but the French and Belgians considered themselves citizens of attacked countries which were fighting for “Right” and “civilization.”

The trade union movement was broken up into different coalitions along the lines of diplomacy, which is, perhaps, the lowest form of disgrace, the most extreme point reached by the trade union movement in its disintegration.


The war, which ended in a victory of “democracy” over “barbarism,” resulted in the famous Versailles, Trianon, and Sevres Treaties, which brought “peace to humanity.” It would be a mistake to consider the victory only as a victory of one bourgeoisie over the other. It was not only of the bourgeoisie of the Allied countries over the German and Austrian people,—it was something more than that — it as the victory of the trade unions of the allied countries over the trade unions of Germany and Austria. It was a victory of one part of the workers over the other. The dominant position which the German trade unions occupied before the war, was destroyed by the victor of the Allies. The British unions became the dominant factor in the international trade union movement, which corresponds to the economic hegemony of their bourgeoisie. In this way the development of the labor movement, the development of international organizations is closely related to the destiny of capitalism, and the victory of the bourgeoisie of one country reflects on the position which the workers of the other country had in one or another international.

The victory of the Allies signified a victory of the trade unions of the Allied countries which very boldly was demonstrated at the international conferences which were held at the end of the war and which also reflected itself in the whole post-war period.


In the picture which we are presenting here it seems there is no light at all. Everything shows up colored in black or yellow-black. Being dependent on the national flag, everything is tinted with the national color. But a clear-cut red color could not be noticed and it seems difficult to understand how from such a dark prospect could be born that new thing about which we are to speak. We will answer that question which comes up naturally.

Alongside of the process of adjustment of the labor movement to the war, another process has been in development, the process of collecting the hatred to the war. In what are the roots of reformism and of Communism? How could one and the same working class create two opposite movements, fighting each other with arms in hand? What are the causes of it?

The answer is, that the working class is the basis and builder of capitalist society, and, at the same time, the destroyer of capitalist society: It is at once trying to adapt itself to capitalist society and trying to destroy it. Thus Communism and reformism taking their origins in the working class, reflect the different stages of its development, the different tendencies of that class which day by day shows more and more of that side which leads to the destruction of bourgeois society. It would have been a mistake if we would have considered the war period from the point of view that because Legien and Jouhaux have been the representatives of the working class, the class itself was filled with war ideology. It is a fact that these gentlemen became traitor to their principles. There is not the slightest doubt about that. But why did millions of proletarians in every country follow these leaders? Why? That’s the root of the question.

Here we come to that side of the problem which has not been clear enough to us before the war. We did not estimate the real degree of influence of the bourgeoisie on the working class. We had been fighting against reformism even before the war, we fought against the bourgeoisie. But that the bourgeois relations, the bourgeois ideology, the bourgeois literature, the bourgeois church and philosophy, and in general all that was created by the bourgeoisie could so much dominate the working class, this—to be frank—every Bolshevik may say we did not expect.

And for us, the left wing of the labor movement, which had been the left wing before the war and remained as such during the war, was the degree of the collapse entirely unexpected. We underestimated the influence of bourgeois society on the labor movement. We did not calculate that organic connection which existed between the labor movement and that society in which the labor movement developed.

However, during the war, concurrently with the maximum influence of the bourgeois society on the working class, began to develop that tendency which is within the working class of antagonism toward bourgeois society.

This tendency which in the first period was very weak and very insignificant in some countries found its reflection only in individual actions, such as Liebknecht in Germany (and he, among other things, did not vote the first time against the war credits, he voted against them the second time), appeared in the trade union movement of France. I happened to participate directly in the creation of the first international nucleus in the Confederation of Labor together with Monatte, Rosmer and the “dead-in-life” Merrheim. That was the first nucleus from which grew the Zimmerwald and Kienthal Conferences. The labor movement from within itself began to develop a new movement, new powers....

The whole post war period of the labor movement can be understood only when we come up to the war period from the point of view, not only of the changing of leaders, but also the objective forces which lead the workers in the political and spiritual sense; also from the point of view of the growing, new forces within these anti-patriotic groups, which by the end of the war took a definite form and in the post war period brought about the creation of the Communist International and the Red International of Labor Unions.

The trade union movement after the war, as the labor movement in general, could be understood only by a careful study of the labor movement as it existed during the war period, by calculating those contradictory forces within the capitalist state which create the class struggle and create organizations which have on their banners the overthrow of capitalist society.

We have therefore acquainted ourselves in a general way with the basic factors in the development of the trade union movement before and after the war period. It is natural that these basic lines drawn by us could be fully understood only by better acquaintance with more material which depicts the situation of the labor movement in every country. Only by studying the particular forms of the labor movement of our epoch can we form an opinion not only about the causes which brought about new forms of the labor movement but also to understand the organizational and other forms which were taken by the newly-formed national and international organizations.

Next: II. The World’s Trade Union Movement at the End of the War