A. Lozovsky

In the R.I.L.U.

The Development of the Profintern

(December 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 117, 27 December 1922, pp. 995–996.
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 fore-runner of the Profintern was the international Trade Union Council, founded on July 15, 1920 in Moscow. Essentially, the International Council was a committee for the propagation of the ideas of the revolutionary trade union movement. It possessed no definite program and no clearly defined tactics. Its object was to unite the revolutionary trade unions under the slogan of the overthrow of capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The platform of the Council was so broad that place was found on it for the leaders of the Italian CGL on the one hand, and for a number of anarcho-syndicalist organizations on the other. The necessity for creating a crystallizing centre made itself felt, and one was created.

Between July 15, 1920 and July 1921 there proceeded the assembling of forces. The first year passed in conflicts between revolutionary ideas and reformism. The Amsterdam International, headed by the trade unions of the Entente countries, drunk with victory, was at the height of its power. To many comrades it appeared perfectly hopeless to attempt an attack on the reformist stronghold, against this mighty reformist organization. But the call of the International Council, appealing to the revolutionary trade unions to unite, found an echo in every quarter of the globe, and in July 1921 it appeared that there were many more revolutionary elements in the trade union movements of the world than had been anticipated.

The first congress of the revolutionary trade unions, in Moscow, created a theoretical and strategic foundation for the new international alliance. The propaganda committee was transformed into the Red International of Labour Unions, with clearly defined ideals. The ground was prepared for further work. This clearness and definiteness led to the withdrawal from the international of a number of labor organizations which did not care for the too clearly outlined program and the too revolutionary tactics. The reformist Italian CGL, preferring to steer a middle course between the two internationals, deserted the new organization, which was also attacked by those anarcho-syndicalist groups who do not see the necessity of an International.

The time between the first congress and the second congress now taking place has been occupied by a desperate struggle on two fronts: against Amsterdam and against the anarcho-syndicalist organizations. The 16 months of struggle have yielded definite results Syndicalism itself broke up into several groups, one part siding for the Russian revolution, another siding against it, and against the dictatorship of the proletariat and the alliance of the Profintern with the Comintern.

If we consider the results of this conflict of ideas, we may claim that the Profintern has won the struggle. There is not a single anarcho-syndicalist organization in the world adopting an attitude entirely against the Profintern. And there are large organizations like the French, in which 9/10ths are on our side. Thus the dear definition of our ideals, while causing a good deal of commotion, has at the same time rendered possible a successful development of our work.

The second conference now being held strengthens the ideal and organizatory connection with the Comintern, and creates a firm basis for common work between communists and syndicalists. The 2nd congress is adopting a number of practical measures for the struggle against capitalism and reformism.

One point especially distinguishing our second congress is its practical organizatory character. Decisions have already been come to on the most important fundamental questions. The question of the relations between the Comintern and the Profintern is still a matter of debate, but only for an inconsiderable minority of the congress. The great majority of those participating in the congress are clear as to their attitude on this question.

What resources has the Profintern at its disposal? At present we are numerically weaker than the Amsterdam International. But the power of an organization does not depend upon its numerical strength. The Amsterdam International is only a conservative power, an obstacle on the road to revolution. It is the embodiment of the inertia of the working class. The Profintern, on the other hand, is the embodiment of everything revolutionary in the trade union movement the world over. Another source of power is that we have followers within the Amsterdam International. This strengthens us and weakens the Amsterdam International.

The delegates of the congress do not shut their eyes to the difficulties in front of us. And these difficulties are great, for there are several millions of workers whose minds are still paralysed by reformism. The giant organizations of the workers in many countries, are still in the hands of agents of the bourgeoisie. To drive the reformists out of the Tabor organizations would mean to lop off the branch to which bourgeois society is today still hanging. We do not know bow many years we require to do this. But there is no doubt whatever that our powers are increasing from day to day, and that the Amsterdam International is weakening. Our opponents are also well aware of this, and therefore hate the revolutionary trade union movement in general and the Profintern in particular.

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Last updated on 3 January 2021