A. Lozovsky

The Labor Movement

The Conflicting Tendencies
in the CGTU

(23 August 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 57 [35], 23 August 1923, p. 630.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2022). 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.

After Frossard had received unlimited leave of absence from the Communist Party of France, he organized the “Group of Resistance”, which then became converted into the “Unitarian Communist Party”. Frossard, as a man of experience, directed the whole of his attention to the “salvation” of the Unitarian General Confederation of Labor (C.G.T.U.).

Up to the time of the formation of Frossard’s diminutive party the C.G.T.U. possessed a united majority and a minority drawing its main support from the Building Workers’ Federation, the minority being organised in, the “Committee for the Defence of Syndicalism”. This opposition, comprising the whole of the anarchist elements dissatisfied with Moscow and communism, has been carrying on a continuous and bitter struggle against the Communist International, the R.I.L.U., the French Communist Party, and the majority of the C.G.T.U. Every possible fantastic legend relating to Soviet Russia has been brought to light by this opposition whose speciality has been the salvation of syndicalism from the supremacy of Moscow. In the ranks of this opposition there are individuals to be found who devoted themselves for months almost exclusively to chewing the cud over the Charter of Amiens, occasionally varying this with the famous §2 of the Statutes of the R.I.L.U., which deprived the anarcho-syndicalists of sleep for a considerable time. And although the II. Congress of the R.I.L.U. altered this section in accordance with the wishes of the French syndicalists, that is, annulled the reciprocal representation of the C.I. and the R.I.L.U., the opposition continues to explain and harp on this unlucky section from every conceivable standpoint, with a perseverance worthy of a better cause.

When the “Unitarian Communist Party” arose from the ashes of the “Group of Resistance”, and then underwent a further transformation into the “Socialist Communist Union”, a bloc of the pure and simple syndicalists, the anarchists, and the followers of Frossard, was formed within the C.G.T.U., with the watchword: “Syndicalism in danger!” This Anarchist-Resistance Bloc conducted an inexorable struggle against the majority of the C.G.T.U., and strove to discredit Momnousseau, Sémard, and other sincere friends and adherents of fne Russian Revolution, at any price.

About two months ago this bloc found fresh material for agitation in the trade union commissions created by the CP. Scarcely had the Central Committee of the French CP issued an appeal on the subject of the trade union commissions which had been formed by it, when the anarcho-resisters raised a savage outcry against the Communist Party. “The commissions – this signifies the interference of the Party in the trade union movement, the loss of independence, the violation of the Charter of Amiens”, etc. In a word, the trade union commissions of the Communist Party became the central point of the struggle between the different tendencies, and for two months the question of these commissions has been filling the columns of the anarchist, anarcho-syndicalist, and reformist press. The national bloc, the Ruhr occupation, the rule of the French bankocracy, the rapprochement of the radicals and the socialists and the formation of the left bloc, the aggravation of the economic struggle, the appalling impoverishment of the German proletariat and the growth of revolution in Central Europe – all this has been forced into the background The central point, to which all attention is directed, is the “danger” threatening the French labor movement.

On this question we find many elements in agreement: the anarchists, the anarcho-syndicalists, the resisters from the Frossard party, Henri Fabre – who adheres to the left bloc – the socialists and the syndical reformists. The whole of the enemies of communism discovered a common speech, formed a united front, and threw themselves into the struggle against the trade union commissions. This unhealthy bloc, founded on impudent demagogy, and the disturbance created by the commissions question, caused a section of the former majority of the C.G.T.U. to vacillate. This section formed a new group called the “Group of Revolutionary Syndicalists”. This group is headed by the two secretaries of the C.G.T.U., Guillot and Cazals. It is for the R.I.L.U., but against the trade union commissions of the Party.

The majority of the C.G.T.U. declared, after the discussion ou the question of the trade union commissions, that it held it to be impossible to interfere in the affairs of the Communist Party, which has the right to form any organizations which it requires.

This decision of the majority of the executive organ of the C.G.T.U. was the ground for severe conflicts at the recently held conference of the National Council of the C.G.T.U.

The central point round which the struggle of the different tendencies here raged, was that of the trade union commissions of the Communist Party. The position taken by Monmousseau and Sémard won by 58 votes to 37. The anarchists, the pure and simple syndicalists, and the Frossardists – resisters of every complexion – were in the minority. The struggle reached such a degree of acuteness that the National Council, in order to prevent the split threatened by the minority, resolved to convene an extraordinary conference for November, at which the whole policy of the C.G.T.U. is to be discussed.

Thus a fresh crisis has arisen in the revolutionary trade union movement of France. This is not to be specially wondered at, when we consider the inheritance bequeathed to the revolutionary workers of this country by the Anarcho-Syndicalism of the war and pre-war periods. Communism opposes every anarchist and reformist tradition. It sweeps away all old customs, it runs counter to all the demoralization which anarchism and reformism have systematically carried into the labor movement of France. For this reason the anarcho-reformist bloc was formed a considerable time ago, with the object of “freeing itself from Moscow” at any price, that is, of freeing itself from the social revolution and communism. This is the meaning of the whole outcry against the Moscow danger; this is the basis of the whole anarcho-syndicalist theory of independence.

These gentlemen are anxious to be independent of the revolution and of communism – that is their own affair. The anarchist and reformist fraternities may make themselves independent in this sense, but the working-class cannot and will not be independent of the revolution and of communism.

There is no doubt whatever that at the next congress of the C.G.T.U. the anarchist-reformist bloc, despite Frossard’s support, will meet with an even more annihilating defeat than it encountered at the Congress of St. Etienne. The time for anarcho-syndicalist phrases is over. This is the reason why the working class of France is putting on the shelf, if only gradually, all its anarcho-syndicalist talkers and dealers in confusion.

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