Leon Trotsky

The First Five Years of the Communist International

Volume 2

Resolution of the ECCI
on the French Communist Party

March 2, 1922

The Communist Party of France has since the Tours Convention made major organizational endeavours which kept in its ranks the best forces of the proletariat who have awakened to political action. The Marseilles Convention provided the party with the premise for serious theoretical work from which the revolutionary labour movement will doubtless derive very great benefits.

By breaking with parliamentarian and horse-trading traditions of the old Socialist Party whose conventions set the stage only for the oratorical duels among the leaders, the Communist Party has, for the first time in France, convened a gathering of active workers for a preliminary and deep-going review of the vital problems pertaining to the development of the French revolutionary movement.

The organizational crisis in the French party, whose importance it would be equally wrong to minimize or exaggerate, constitutes one of the salient moments in the growth of the French Communist Party, its internal cleansing, its internal reconstruction and consolidation upon genuinely Communist foundations.

The split of Tours drew a basic line of demarcation between reformism and Communism. But it was absolutely unavoidable for the Communist Party issuing from this split to retain in some of its segments certain survivals of its reformist and parliamentary past, of which it can divest itself – as it is doing – through internal efforts based on participation in the mass struggle

The survivals of the past – among certain party groups – are expressed in:

  1. an urge to restore unity with the reformists;
  2. an urge toward a bloc with the radical wing of the bourgeoisie:
  3. a substitution of petty-bourgeois humanitarian pacifism for revolutionary anti-militarism;
  4. a false interpretation of the party’s relations with the trade unions;
  5. a struggle against genuine centralist leadership in the party;
  6. efforts to replace international discipline in action by a platonic federation of national parties.

Following the split at Tours, tendencies of this sort could not fully disclose themselves and hope to gain a broad influence in the party. Nevertheless under the powerful pressure of bourgeois public opinion, elements inclined toward opportunism tend naturally to gravitate toward each other and are seeking to create their own publications and points of support. However insignificant may be their successes in this direction, it would be a mistake not to assay properly the extent to which their work threatens the revolutionary character and unity of the party. A Communist organization can never serve as an arena for free propaganda of essentially the same views which resulted in the split of the reformist-Dissidents from the working-class party. Any unclarity in this connection is bound unavoidably to hinder the work of revolutionary education among the masses.

The Plenum of the ECCI affirms that the resolutions of the Marseilles Convention, imbued with the spirit of the Communist International, create extremely important points of support for the party’s revolutionary activities among the toiling masses of city and country.

Concurrently, the Plenum of the ECCI takes into cognizance with gratification the declaration of the French delegation to the effect that Journal du Peuple, the organ which serves as the rallying point for reformist and other vague tendencies, occupies a position directly counter to the program of the International, contrary to the decisions of the Tours and Marseilles Conventions of the French Communist Party, and contrary to the revolutionary irreconcilability of the class-conscious French proletariat, and will therefore shortly be removed from the party.

The ECCI Plenum sees the exceptional importance of the Marseilles Convention in this, that it has posed before the party the most important task of carrying on systematic and correct work in the trade unions in the spirit of the party’s program and tactics. Thereby it has condemned in principle the tendencies among those party members who are, under the guise of fighting for the autonomy of the trade unions – which, by the way, no one disputes – in reality fighting to retain their own autonomy in trade-union activity, free from the party’s control and leadership.

In view of the fact that the statutes of the Communist International and of its sections, founded on the principles of democratic centralism, provide ample guarantees for a correct and normal development of each Communist Party, the Plenum considers as wrong the resignation of several members of the Central Committee who were elected by the Marseilles Convention. This is wrong independently of the political motivations which provoked these resignations. Renunciations of posts delegated by the party can be construed by the broad party circles as a declaration that correct collaboration of different shadings is impossible within the framework of democratic centralism and it can serve as an impulse to the formation of factions within the party.

Expressing its complete assurance that the struggle against the above-cited manifestations of anti-Communist tendencies will be conducted by the overwhelming majority of the party and its leading bodies as a whole, and recognizing that the creation of factions would unavoidably cause the greatest injury to the party’s development and its authority among the proletariat, the Plenum of the ECCI notes with satisfaction the declaration of the French delegation to the effect that the Central Committee and the comrades who resigned are ready to take the necessary organizational measures in order to fully realize in life the decisions of the Marseilles Convention and that those who have tendered in their resignations will enter the party’s Central Committee to work harmoniously and correctly.

First 5 Years of the Comintern (Vol.2) Index

History of the Communist International Section

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Last updated on: 12.1.2007