A. Lozovsky

The Red Trade Union International

The Red Trade Union International
to the Congress of the Trade Union
of Czecho-Slovakia

(17 December 1921)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. II No. 6, 20 January 1922, pp. 46–47.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2019). 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.

Dear Comrades!

Moscow, Dec. 17, 1921

In the name of the Trade Union International we send the warmest fraternal greetings to the all workers of Czecho-Slovakia who are suffering now together with the proletariat of other lands under the fierce offensive of Capital.

Il is about two years now since the bourgeoisie passed from the defensive to the offensive. Immediately after the war the bourgeoisie was caught in full retreat; the bitter hate that had accumulated among the working masses led the far-seeing bourgeois politicians to grant “voluntary” concessions: the eight-hour working day was won; in many countries workers’ councils were organized legally, and the ruling classes were constantly talking of nationalization, socialization and other problems that were of the greatest interest to the working masses. This, however, continued only during the first two years after the war. As soon as the bourgeoisie saw that leaders of the trade unions in most Western European countries entertained the view of capitalist reconstruction, that the destiny and the welfare of the working class is closely connected with the normal life of capitalist enterprise, that these leaders, in a word, are fighting against the revolutionary workers’ movement – then the bourgeoisie felt once again solid ground under its feet and regained faith in its own power. In order to inspire the working masses with faith in the liberalism of the ruling classes an International Labor Bureau was established comprising representatives of workers, employers and the governments. This organization was to take care of Socialist legislation and the workers’ security. The most powerful labor organizations of Western Europe and America had a share in this enterprise. They held joint sessions with the representatives of the employers and the governments and discussed questions of national legislation, as if the workers of any land had ever won anything except through stubborn and persistent struggle. Despite all that the capitalist world is not and never again will be able completely to recover from the wounds it suffered in the war. The temporary revival of industry which was to be noticed in some countries soon gave place to a tremendous economic crisis. Millions of unemployed were thrown into the streets; work is plentiful only in those countries where a low rate of exchange goes hand in hand with a low wage. Cheap labor crowds out more expensive labor; the existing international labor organizations could not and would not engage in a contest on an international scale. Your country passed through the same experience as other countries: extreme liberalism, endless talk of socialization, many promises – and what is the result? Makeshift workers’ councils and workers’ control, and the offensive of capital. The employers observe the international situation, see the weakness of the reformers and become daily more impudent; they know that the reformers can and will not engage in serious struggle, because a wide social conflict in the industrial sphere might precipitate a social revolution The well-known characteristic of the reformers is the dread of social revolution. They are ready for anything to keep out of revolutionary struggles. Capital is attacking with a united front, the working-class must form a compact, steel-hard front against its exploiters. How can this be realized?

You will have to decide at your Congress the tactics for the entire coming year. You will have to outline the forms and methods of struggle for the entire proletariat of Czecho-Slovakia. Is it possible still to be confined within the old limits? Is it possible to answer the attack of capital by means of the old forms and methods of struggle, and to pass, when the moment is favorable, to the offensive? There is hardly a person who would answer in the positive. New circumstances and new situation require new forms and methods of struggle.

In what manner can the united front of the proletariat be formed? It can only be formed in struggle; under no circumstances on the basis of class cooperation. Every revolutionary worker must – is in certain sense duty-bound to – support the fight of the existing trade unions, even though its leadership is such as we know it. Every fighter belongs to us. Shoulder to shoulder we will march in fraternal unison with them against our common foe.

After you will have decided on the tactics which must be employed in your country, your Congress will have to take a stand on the International. Can the Czecho-Slovakian trade unions still remain in the Amsterdam International, an International which stands for the cooperation of the classes? Will it do that, or will the Czecho-Slovakian working-class take its place openly and in sight of the whole world under the banner of the Red Trade Unions International? That is the question which must be answered unequivocally at your Congress. There can be no compromise solution – whoever is for the cooperation of the classes, for work in common with the employers and government representatives under the leadership of an Albert Thomas and for the renouncing of the class struggle will acknowledge Amsterdam. But he who stands for the class struggle, for the revolutionary fight against the International Labor Bureau, who is opposed to all cooperation with the bourgeoisie and who stands for social revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat, will give his vote for the Red Trade Union International.

Leaving the Amsterdam International does not in any way mean a break by the single industrial organizations with their international organizations. The metal and textile workers and the miners, the chemist and other professional groups can and must remain in their international organizations and work together with the other revolutionary groups to transform these international industrial and professional groups into tools of the revolution.

Is it also true, that the entry of the trade-unions into the Red Trade Union International destroys the united front? Not in the least. This entry only strengthens the united front, for let it not be forgotten that we stand for the proletarian united front, but we reject a united front, however small, made up of a combination of workers and employers. Amsterdam is the banner of this sort of combined front. That is the reason why the revolutionary unions cannot and ought not remain under this banner. But the break with Amsterdam must under no circumstances injure the unity of the trade-union movement of your country. Quite the contrary. It is absolutely necessary that the unions remain in close connection. They must comprise the workers of all nationalities and all political tendencies. The adherents of the Red Trade Union International must strive to combine the unions of various nationalities into one proletarian family. Exploitation is an international evil; the fight against it must therefore also bear an international character.

For whatever program your Congress may vote, that of Moscow or of Amsterdam, the trade-union movement of Czechoslovakia must remain absolutely united. The Red Trade Union International calls upon its adherents to do all in their power to win over the trade-union movement of Czecho-Slovakia to the revolutionary methods. Should, however, the majority of the Congress vote against the Red International and its tactics, the minority must still remain in the unions, to work there and, without any attempts at bringing about a split, to prove by self-sacrifice and devotion to the revolutionary cause the justice of our standpoint and the correctness of the tactics we have chosen.

The Executive Committee of the Red Trade Union International expresses the hope that the proletariat of Czecho-Slovakia will adopt a clear program, establish the guiding lines of revolutionary tactics and make a systematic attempt to realize its aims.


For the Executive Committee
of the Red Trade Union International
A. Lozovsky, General Secretary

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