A United Front Tactics
of Trotsky in Comintern
From 'The Study of Scientific Communism' (No.28, 1970)
- United Front as a social-democratic comprehension of the slogan : To the Masses
- A slogan : Worker's Government and "Revolution" in 1923 ，in Germany
1. United Front as a social-democratic comprehension of the slogan : To the Masses
A central subject of the Third Congress of the Comintern held from June to July in 1921 was to conquer the leftist radicalism appeared in the March Action in Germany and to examine the strategies of Communist Party.Russian group of representatives and German's one made a draft of this problem and was solved by the adoption a "Thesis about strategy"which was proposed by Radek.
Thesis proposed the tactics at the time when the objective circumstances are violently ,revolutionary and some communists parties are formed but these parties don't have real leaderships of the working masses, and decided that the most important duty is to win the governing influences in the working class and to lead some of them energetic into the struggles.
A subject which the third Comintern Congress was to fight to win the working masses under the influence of Communists Party (C.P)and to prepare a revolution .
The theses also clalified "the Communists Party must form the front
of all organization of the proletariat and raise a proposal for real struggle
and show the wavered ,outstripped masses how the struggle is to be done
,by appealing strongly the struggles which are things of daily necessity.
Through such actions Communists
Party must reveal all the character of treacheries of all the parties except C.P "
" Communists Party must propagate that the eternal elevation of the situation of the proletaliat is impossible under the capitalism" but" must not deny the struggles of the real and urgent demands of the proletaliat."
Lenin explains the core of the problem as follows in the speech protecting this thesis
"Even small communists party is sufficient to advance pulling the
masses .At some instanta big party is not necessary. But to gain the victory
,Communists Party must win the sympathies of the masses ,though an absolute
majority is not necessary. But to win andto keep the power , C.P must win
not only the majority of the working class ( here Iuse the word "
working class " in a western european sense , that is , industrial
proletaliat ) but also the majority of the exploited masses in the villages
.Do you have ever thought over this? ".
Thus the third Congress of Comintern decided the duty that to gain a victory
in revolution , communists party must attract the majority of the masses
to itself. After this Congress Lenin wrote in "A letter to the German
Communists" to the Congress of the German Communist Party that I had
inteded to state my view of the lessons of the third Congress of the Comintern
in a detailed article. Unfortunately , I haven't yet been able to start
on this work because of ill-health.In December,in1921 Lenin had a long
leave because of his illness and after that it was almost impossible to
work as an executive comittee man. (there is a mention that the 6 th of
December in1921,Lenin wrote "An opioion about the Comintern 's theses
on United Front , but this article is not found in the Complete Works of
They are Zinoviev,Ldek,Trotsky et al ,not Lenin who guided real movements
on the slogan :To the masses which is raised at the third Congress of Comintern.
It is important to tell this fact clearly,because the theory of theUnited Front by Stalin,Trotsky is attributed to Lenin at present.
They understood the slogan " To the masses " as a" United
Front" of The Second International and The Two-and-a--Half International
and led the working mass in this spirit. The 18th December,Executive Comittee
of Comintern gave an instruction about " United Front of Labors ".Zinoviev
explained " The working class thought that the defeat is by the lack
of Unity and a United Front tactics will attract them " and Ladek
argued " At that time (till 1902) we never proposed the united action
to the social democratic parties ,contrary we made all means to split these
parties . we raised the Soviet Dictatorship but at present ,the concrete
,transitional demands are come to the fore ".
February-March,in 1923 at the plenum of the Executive Comittee of Comintern
representatives of France, Italy, Spain had an objection to the "
United Front " . Trotsky who had led the France explained the theory
of the " United Front " so that French Communists Party should
March In 1923, Trotsky comments in the article " About United Front"
which discussed the problem of the United Front in France "The working
masses in the movements, in the registance against the violent attacks
of capitalism, or in the offensive movements think that theUnity is necessary
as far as the life-and-death question concerned.Any political party will
be blamed by the labors if the Party opposes to the necessity of the United
Action for the working class.( Selection Works of Trotsky .vol 2)
It is undoubtedly true that communist can't oppose a Unity of action automatically
in the need of struggle born out of the working class. But Communist must
not forget that " Unity of action" is only " formal Unity
"(Lenin) in the separated fights ,that is, for the economical profits
or for the opposition to the fascism , etc. and there is a good distance
to reach the Unity of working class led by the direction of communism.
Lenin warns this in " A letter to German Communists" as follows.
"Of course ,we don't give the winning of the majority a formal interpretation,
as do the knights of philistine "democracy" of the Two -and-a-Half
International . When in Rome , in July 1921,the entire proletaliat-the
reformist proletaliat of the trade unions and the Centrists of Serrati's
party -followed the Communists against the fascists, that was winning over
the majority of the working class to our side.
This was far , very far ,from winning them decisively; it was doing so
only partially , only momentarily, only locally. But it was winning over
the majority , and that is possible even if ，formally , the majority of
the proletaliat follow bourgeois leaders, or leaders of the pursue a bourgeois
policy ( as do all the leaders of the Second and Two-and-a-Half internationals),
or if the majority of the proletaliat are wavering.
This winning over is gaining ground steadily in every way throughout the world.
Let make more thorough and careful preparations for it ; let us not allow
a single serios oppotunity to slip by when the bourgeoisie compels the
proletaliat to undertake a struggle ； let us learn to correctly determine
the moment when the masses of the proletaliat cannot but rise together
with us.( The Complete Works of Lenin. vol.32)
Lenin shows that communists party must grasp all the oppotunity precisely of the prolerarian struggle against bourgeoisie ,and to make the working masses , influenced by social democrats, rise up (in some cases overcome their leaders) and win the majority , still more advance to attract them to communism.
But Trotsky proposed " Unity of action"separating the political duty to win the working class to communism.
"At this time , the problem of the United Front is born from the urgent
necessity which assures the possibility to form the United Front ,to fight
against capitalism nevertheless it is recognized that there is an inevitable
disunion among the various political organizations based on the working
classes. For the people who don't understand such a duty ,the party is
only an organization for the propagation and isn't one for the mass movements.
(Selection Works of Trotsky. vol.2)
For Trotsky , a problem of unity of the working classes is not to advance forward to communism , that is to form a true unity of the classes ,but to form a "formal unity" of workers who support various political organization and the former is proposed apart from the latter.It is clear that this idea of unity is a standpoint of Social -democracy and of Kautsky.
According to Lenin's tactics as for the duty of "winning the majority
" proposed at the third Congress, communistic tactics,does'nt exclude
machinally a "United Front" , but it is obvious that it must
not be limited to a "United Front ". Communist party must be
free from the United Front in oder to raise up the working class for the
struggle against Capitalism through seizing the all oppotunities of the
class struggle precisely and must have a freedom to appeal them to advance
over the social democratic leaders who are agents of the bourgeois policies.
Communists party will not be able to attract the working mass formally
and to win the majority without these standpoints and pursuits. Of course
Communists party can't be forbidden to conclude a temporary treaty with
the social democratic leaders,that is ,to form a United Front in the certain
situation of the struggle. But United Front must be subject to a revolutionary
policies of Communists party.
Trotsky et al propose theitr tactics as United Front and this fact reveals their social democratic standpoints and their tendencies of "Centre".
It is clear that this United Front of Trotsky is a manifestation which considers the influences of social democracy as absolute and permanent.
By Trotsky's opinion, United Front is "adapted to the case where Communist
Party organize one third or a quarter or even one half of the advances
of the organized proletaliat and in such countries workers are much interested
to the high level of life as far as possible and to maintain their freedom
for a big struggle as far as possible." and " Communists party
must take the initiative to hold unity in the struggle.If such means are
not employed ，the party could not approach the two thirds of the workers
who don't obey C.P 's leadership and are not trusted to the party.
Communist party can only win them through such a way．"
Trotsky considers the workers 's " interests" as a problem of
" high level of life as far as possible" from the narrow -minded
standpoints like social democratic leaders .
He thinks that the worker's " interests" which is expressed by
the social democrats is unchanged , so he considers on it that the communist
party can 't approach the working masses who are influenced by social democrats,
without United Front"
But we can't despise the influences of bourgeois policies by social democrats
to the working class in the workers movement .But these influences are
not absolute but relative.They can only maintain their influences by joining
hands with the capitalism and the government of bourgeoisie. If the struggle
of the working class to the capitalism is intensified and the rule of bourgeoisie
is disturbed,their influences will become less strengthened. In this point,
the bases of tactics of communists exist.
As Lenin wrote in the "A letter to the German Communists", communists
can make the working masses raise up against the bourgeoisie even when
the majority of workers follow the leaders of social democrats and in fact
they rose up. And communists will not be able to intensify the influences
of them and to weaken those of social democrats without developing the
struggle against bourgeoisie.
So ,to win the working class to communism, it is only possible not to limit
the struggle of the working class to the Unity in the present problem which
is led by social democrats like Trotsky. Contrary , if communists limit
their tactics to the United Front , it is difficult to win the working
class under the influences of communists and this means that the leadership
of social democrats will become strong.
Trotsky proposes the problem " United Front can be only spread over the working masses or also over the oppotunists leaders ?" and says as follows.
" The problem is concerned with the fact that a few important parts
of working classes belong to the reformative organization or they support
these organizations. As far as their experiences concerned , they are not
separated from reformists and they don't join our organization yet.An important
change in such a relation will occur only after they take part in the confronted
mass movements.We are making an efforts toward this."
Here , a theory of stages of oppotunist which Economists had once insisted is brought out to support the thory of United Front by Trotsky. Such a theory ,he claims
"The organization lines must be sought to enable the unified movement at any moment between labors belong to Communists party and those belong to social democrats and so on except C.P. " " It is completely possible to organize a united action among the labors belong to three organization ( Reformist, Centralist, Comintern ) ."
This theory of the stages of Trotsky is still more expressed clearly in
his speech at the fourth Congress. He says " Every Communists party
must be trusted by the majority of the working class and this can be and
must be attained in the process of the struggle for the worker's transitional
demands, raising a slogan : Proletaliat United Front.
The first day of January in 1921, a manifest of on the United Front of Executive Committee of International and Red International of Labor Union states " As far as the party supported by proletaliat has a desire to venture a common struggle ,the proper parties are demanded to form a United Front under the existing conditions , ignoring the differences among the parties . "
So the political and class differences must be ignored between Comintern
and The Seconde and the Two-and- a-Half Internationals . This is a clear
Liquidationism and very submission to social democracy.
Trotsky points out that the party must exist as an absolutely independent
organization having an accurate platform and severe rules, and must be
clearly distinguished from Reformists and Centralists ideologically,systematically
as a guarantee to win the masses to communism. But if " Be independent
systematically " which Trotsky cosiders the most important , is separated
from "Be independent politically ", Communists party will be
degraded to a " sect ".
And if the peculiar struggle of the working class is undersized and becomes
narrow and corrupted by the United Front tactics , this will be a beginning
of Liquidationism. Because the organization of communists must not be worshiped
itsself, and is first of all the means of the class struggle and is to
be inseparable from its political standpoints.
It is quite clear how the explosures of communists are contemptible and degenerated from the explosures of United Front by Trotsky et al. Trotsky says " When we fail at agreement and can 't have a unity of action ,the cause is not our unconpromising character but the lack of the will to fight in the side of Reformists."
This is a submissin and a consscession to the criticism of the “ unconpromising
character of communists" by Reformists or Oppotunists.This is an abandonment
the principle and the class nature of communists,and this abandons the
struggle against the deceptive and hypocritic demands , that is , "
Unity of Labors" by Centralists and others .But by this tactics, communists
's explosures to the Reformists and Oppotunists are degenerated into the
moral explosures of Radicalists. United Front tactics of Trotsky is a product
of the illusion and the expectation to Reformists. He takes a middle proposition
between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks and he couldn't throw his illusion for
Mensheviks. Trotsky wrote in the article " Rising tide " as follows.
If the workers are going to demand that communists have to conclude a convention with Independent social-democratic Party and Social- Democrats to fight against Bourgeoisie , these workers will be convinced that only communist can giude them in the revolutionary movements so far as the movement develops popularly .The first wave of the rising tide puts pressure on all the labor's organizations to force them to conclude a convention with communists. And Social-Democrats and Independent Social-Democratic Party wait same fates. They will be drawned in the next wave of revolutionary rising tide one after another.(Selection Works of Trotsky vol.2)
If mass movements enhance and become revolutionary ,Social-Democrats and
Independent Social-Democratic Party will be drawned in the waves of revolutionary
struggles "So, let's fight together !".-this is Trotsky 's opioion.
He says " Whenever they, Reformists are obliged to be the tools of
struggles , we want to agree them "
Reformism is no other than a bourgeois,or petty-bourgeois labor movement,
and Reformists rise up to fight with masses only when the struggle of the
working class has no danger to shake the base of Bourgeois Society,this
is Reformists 'character.
An illusion and an expectation which Reformists might act with a revolutionary
claim of the working masses paralyse the struggle against the Reformism.
United Front tactics was the very first step to Liquidatioism and Social-Democracy
2. A slogan : Worker's Government and "Revolution" in 1923 ，in Germany
Inevitable conclusion of United Front tactics was the slogan : Worker's
Government. Trotsky tells about " Blocks of all parts of the working
class in France" in the theory on United Front as follows.
" The most reliable way to be against the feelings and thoughts of
the " Left Block " in side of the working class , this is, a
block joined hand between the workers and some part of Bourgeoisie against
the rest of Bourgeoisie , is to promote against to form the block of all
the parts of the working class against the whole Bourgeoisie patiently
and firmly." ( Selection Works of Trotsky vol.2)
To form a block between the Social -Democrats and Comintern against the
" Left Block " , propose a clear and exact problem which block
is to be chosen between Social-Democrats and Bourgeoisie or Proletaliat,
this is a political conclusion of the United Front .This tactics tells
us that to win the majority of the working class is done by advocating
a block with communists , not by explosing the inner class-connection,
inseparable with the Bourgeoisie of the leaders of Social - Democrats.
A slogan : United Front and Worker 's Government is raised at the fourth Congressof the Communist International. This Congress proposes " Worker 's Government " in the " Theses on Tactics" as follows.
" A slogan : Worker ' s Government ( or Worker 's and Peasant's Government) can be raised as a general propaganda in all countries.Especially this slogan has a great importance as a urgent political one in such countries where a bourgeois society is especially unstable , or to decide who must have the political power in the power relation between worker 's parties and Bourgeoisie is urgent .In these countries ,to adopt this slogan is naturally drawn from United Front tactics."
"In some condition communists are ready to set up Worker 's Government
combined with the worker 's parties ( not communists)and worker 's organizatios."
United Front tactics brings inevitably the Ministerial Socialism.Petit
bourgeois social-democratic government is idealised as " Worker 's
Government" and communists's aim becomes to enter and to support this
government. Lenin's revolutionary tactics " Never support anything
" against the Provisional Government in 1917 was thrown away.
After the 4th Congress , Trotsky explained the slogan and tactics of " Worker's Government " as follows.
" We communists tell like this in all adequate occasion that Socialists
, Syndicalists ，Anarchists, Nonparty Workers !Your wages are decreasing
and eight-hours labor becomes more and more rare , the cost of living is
more and more incresing . If all labors unite and settle the Worker's Government
, inspite of their different political opinions , such these situation
will not be ocurred.
Thus, the slogan of Worker's Government has become a wedge driven by Communists
between the working class and all other classes .And this wedge will have
effcts which separates the workers of left of Social-democrats from their
leaders and this separation is beginning so far as Reformists , the leaders
of Social-Democrats are united with Bourgeoisie. The slogan : Worker's
Government can be realised under certain condition in Europe.
That is , European Communists will be able to settle Worker's Government
with the left of Social-Democrats by such a way as we once settled the
Worker's and Peasant's Government in Russia. Like this stage will be a
turning point to the Proletalian Dictatorship .But at present ,the significance
of this slogan doesn't consist in the way or condition realising in worker's
lives but in the fact that this slogan makes the working class as a whole
oppose to other classes , that is , all the groups inside the bourgeois
The Unity of the working class as to winning the majority to Communism is not established by separating the working class from the Social-Democtats or left Social-Democrats who play dangerous roles in revolutionary time, but by uniting the working class with Social-Democrats formally. Trotsky considers a Social-Democratic Government settled , like a screen of Bourgeoisie in the revolutionary circumstances , though the political power still in the Bourgeoisie as a Revolutionary Government in October by Russian Revolution. This is clear idealisation to the Social-Democratic Government and is a derision and a deception to the revolutionary battle of the working classes , also to the struggle against Oppotunists.
The slogan of the United Front and Worker's Government paralized not the
struggle of the working class by the illlusion to Social-Democrats .This
slogan paralized the revolutionary struggle of the working class by the
unity with Social-Democrats , not the treachery of the Social-Democrats
by the revolutionary struggle. Through the struggles in the epoque of 1917-1921,working
class experienced the decisive treachery of the Social-Democrats and Independent
Social-Democratic Party in Russia，in Germany, in Italy etc..After the
bitter experiences of the working class , it was not permitted to beautify
the Social-Democrats and so on by this slogan.
The criminal and treacherous character of this slogan was in fact explosed in German " Revolution" ,October in 1923. Trotsky argued about the problem of entering the Saxon Government at the 4th Congress as follows.
" In Comintern, we answered like this . Camarades,German Communists
! If you have an opinion that the revolution will ocurr in a few months
in Germany, we will advise you to use your position of the Cabinet as a
fort for an imminent revolution through going into the Saxon Government.By
this you will be able to carry forward your political and systematic works
as a preparations for the revolution. But this chose is possible only when
the pressure of the revolution is felt and the revolution is close at hand."
Germany was one of the countries where "the United Front had succeeded
extremely".In Saxon , Social-Democrats became strong and there was
a condition to form a Cabinet with the support of German Communists Party.
At the 4th congress,December in 1922,the formation of the Cabinet in Saxon
was rejected but in 1923, in Saxon and Thuringean Social-Democrats formed
a Cabinet with the supprt of German Communist Party. The 12th of October
,Brandler went into the Saxon Government. This was the joining the Cabinet
under the revolutionary condition by Trotsky.
In Germany , already from August there was in the condition where Communists
might grasp the power or fascists might take the offensive.But Communists
Party pursued the old tactics , that is，United Front tactics and Worker's
Government and prepared nothing for the rising politically and systematically.
Brandler ordered to stop the rising because of the refusal of it by Saxon
Government of Social-Democrats.In this way , in Germany an antirevolutionary
movement had a victory by wasting the revolutionary time without any preparations
for the revolutionary struggle of the working class.
Trotsky wrote " A lesson of October " to the defeat of German Revolution ,he estimated " We had a classical sample of how we had overlooked the revolutionary condition which had a world historical importance in Germany.
Trotsky wote again in the foreword for the Russian edition of his Selection of Works as follows.
From the moment of the occupation of Ruhr , especially when the bankruptcyof aweak resistance was clearly revealed ，for the German Communists Party it was necessary to take its solid course for the capture the power. Only the bald conversion of the tactics could unite the German Proletaliat in the struggle for the power. If we had said at the third Congress and fourth Congress partly to the German comrades " You would gain the masses over your side , only when you would play the leading part in the struggle of transitional demands which they undertook.", the problem would have been proposed in anther way by the middle of 1923.
German proletaliat have been experienced variously in the few years. After
their experiences , we could gain them over our side , only when they have
been convinced as follows. That is " The problem is proposed completely.Communists
Party is taking the offensive and has an ability to grasp the victory.
But German Communist Party had changed very lately without giving necessary
guarantee. All the objective circumstances demanded for the Party to start
for the decisive attack,but at that time the Party had been waited a revolution
without any action to organize it .The Right and the Left of the Communists
Party answered “Revolution is not be done as a schedule." They mixed
up the total of a revolution and an insurrection which is one of the special
stage of it , that is,to come into power.(SelectionWorks of Trotsky vol.1)
Trotsky critisized that German Communists Party didn 't convert the tactics
.He critisized only saying " An oppotunity is lost " .But the
issue consists in the fact that Party's political, revolutionalry battle
is abandoned by the slogan:United Front and Worker's Government which are
the tactics of Social-Democrats. In fact , Communists Party had been degenerated
into the complement of Social-Democrats politically. German Communists
Party might be independent organization systematically, and formally (to
say so is permitted) . But in the political standpoint in the class struggle,
they had followed the Social-Democrats and had abandoned the political,
peculiar struggles of proletaliat.
Trotsky said that the change of the tactics was needed. According to his
opinion，Party had to distinguish the tactics of revolutionary time from
the tactics of the time for the preparation and Party had to jump from
one tactics to another tactics , but his opinion was only an explanation
for the defeat of Revolution actually. The essence of the problem was that
German Communists Party could'nt unite both tactics .A jump from the tactics
of preparatory time to the tactics of revolutionary time is not the way
,as Trotsky says, to jump one tactics to another ,but to develop the revolutionary
tactics and struggle totally ,in this sense it is very jump.It is clear
that Trotsky is one of the persons who are responsible for the defeat of
German Revolution in that he raised a slogan :the United Front tactics
and The Worker's Government at the Executive Comittee of Comintern. And
this United Front tactics was very the startingpoint for Comintern to the