A. Lozovsky

In the Camp of Our Enemies

Frossard in the footsteps of Levi

(1 March 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 22, 1 March 1923, p. 174.
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 decisions of the Fourth World Congress have evoked a storm of dissatisfaction from the intellectuals of the Communist Party of France. The old sickness of French socialism was strongly present in the Communist party. Abstract revolutionism, intellectual hair-splitting, estrangement from the masses, lack of proletarian discipline, freedom of action for single bodies of the party, – all these things gnawed at the roots of the French Communist Party. The Communist International has frequently taken up the French question, but the matter proceeded slowly. At last the Fourth Congress adopted a series of salutary resolutions and demanded that every “independent” or “autonomous” member of the French Communist Party declare whether he does or does not agree with these conclusions. At the conclusion of the Fourth Congress, it was plain that the great majority of the party had accommodated itself to the international discipline; but there remained about a hundred communists who kicked against the decisions of the world-congress and founded a “Committee for the Protection of Communism”, Among these were; Ferdinand Faure, Gamier, Lafont, Morizet, Meric, Pioch, Torrés and quite a number of other journalists and lawyers of such “broad” dispositions that they could not accommodate themselves to the “narrow” limits of the Communist International.

Fossard hedged at first, then announced his desertion of the party and placed himself at the head of the committee for non-ratification of the decisions of the Fourth Congress.

All these “free spirits”, who have been exiled from the party, have founded a unified communist party, the central organ of which is called l’Egalité (Equality) with the subtitle, “ In the interests of Communist unity “ In the first number of this organ we find a declaration of the program and two articles by Frossard, Who are we? and Why I have left the Communist Party. Frossard explains that he is “in agreement with the principles of the Communist International, but not with its methods and that even at Tours, he had only accepted the 21 conditions of the Comintern with reservations. “I dreamed”, he writes, “ of a great proletarian party which should combine the bold revolutionary realism of Lenin and the broad humanity of Jaurès in one harmonious synthesis”.

Against the humanism of Jaurès we have nothing to say, but we have much to say against his reformism. In vain does Frossard attempt to conceal his wish to create a synthesis between the revolutionary realism of Lenin, that is between Communism and the reformism of Jaurès under the name of Humanism. It is a reformist communism of which Frossard has teen dreaming.

Against the Communist method, Frossard cites the watchword of Blanqui “Neither god nor master”. Frossard is displeased because the Comintern revised the charter of Tours, he protests against the laborism of the Comintern, against its trade union policy, and centralization tendency. He writes:

“I regard the International as a sum of parties while Moscow regards the International as a single party which is strongly centralized and directed by a small group of people with unlimited power. This conception repeats the faults of the First International which fell because of its oligarchical centralization.”

So the “broad” Communist, Frossard, attempts to correct the errors of both the 1st and 3rd Internationals, and for this purpose the autonomy of the party and non-interference by the International in its inner affairs is of course necessary.

The central point of the entire program of the new party is the trade union movement. It is understood, of course, that in this new party the trade union has an absolutely independent position. Frossard “cannot imagine that the party in France could take upon itself the initiative for strikes and conduct them together with the union organizations.” Frossard declares that the sentimental attachment of the C.G.T.U. to the Profintern will not last long, that the “organic connection between the Comintern and the Profintern would be supplied by a permanent committee of action. The day will soon come, when the demand for autonomy in the C.G.T.U. will burst forth in a tempest.”

In the declaration To all Communists and syndicalists the independence and autonomy of the trade union movement is emphasized. Finally one finds the entire philosophy of communist independence in a special editorial on the trade union movement.

“The party frankly declares that it stands for the absolute autonomy of the trade union movement. And by the autonomy of the trade union movement the united communist Party understands that as a party it will not interfere in a single official discussion of the proletarian economic organizations. The Party expresses itself as categorically opposed to the tactics of forming nuclei and declares its purpose to be that of service to the unions and not one of taking them in tow; that the question of discipline wilt never be brought up inside the party, to restrict the freedom of its members in the field of trade union activity, that it will be left to the conscience of each single member to act in the interests of the working class. Both the adherents of the R.I.L.U. and those of the Anarcho-Syndicalist International will be free to write for the central organ, since neither organization necessarily excludes the other.”

This, then, is the theory of the new organization which “is in perfect agreement with the principles of the Comintern, but not with its methods.”

Even from these few quotations, we can judge how far this group of intellectuals is in agreement with the principles of the Comintern. It is enough to glance through the pages of this journal to see that about as much remains of the Comintern principles, as remains with Fabre, Verfeuil and others who were expelled long ago.

Here, Andre Morizet writes regarding the declaration of Bukharin at the Fourth Congress relative to the theoretical possibility of a Red intervention. There appears in the official declaration of the “Committee for the protection of Communism”, a dogmatic presentation by Stapel, of the decisions concerning the mutual relations of party and trade union. The same writer scoffs at “Revolution by means of war, revolution by means of militarism, revolution by means of cannon, aeroplanes, tanks and poison gasses.” Victor Meric reveals in Two years of Communism that he stands for the Russian Revolution and International Communism, but with perfect freedom heart and mind, not under the club, not with the howling of chained dogs or under the deluge of everlasting theses.

The exit of Frossard and his friends from the Communist Party occurred at the time of the Ruhr occupation, and the savage persecution of French communists and revolutionary syndicalists. These one-time communists have been much offended when they have been told that their conduct smacks more of political cowardice than of theoretical keenness. But the truth remains. At the moment of arrests the general secretary left the party and created his own little party in which he assembled all those who like to applaud Communism without doing anything for it. History repeats itself. Frossard, six months later, repeats the action of Paul Levi. Levi too, was quite in agreement with the principles of the Communist Party but not with its methods; he too, built up a compromise party. Levi, who, like Frossard, was so much in accord with the principles of the Comintern, is now in the arms of Renaudel and Brackes? The first number of Egalité shows, that Frossard has taken a big step in that direction. Frossard, who wished to discover a new method for the Communist International can think of nothing else but to follow in the footsteps of Paul Levi. But why let that trouble us? Communism did not die when Paul Levis left the party, nor is it likely to fall at the desertion of Frossard. On the contrary!

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