Having brought forward the general theoretical bases, I will now proceed to prove, also by practice, that the Left Wing in Germany and England is right in general principles - on the questions of the Trade Unions and of parliamentarism.

First we will take the question of the Trade Unions.

As parliamentarism embodies the spiritual, thus the Trade Union movement embodies the material power of the leaders over the masses of the workers. Under capitalism the Trade Unions constitute the natural organisations for uniting the proletariat, and as such Marx, already from the very beginning, has demonstrated their importance. Under a more developed capitalism, and to a greater extent even in the age of imperialism, the Trade Unions have ever more become gigantic unions, with a trend of development, equal to that of the bourgeois State bodies themselves. They have produced a class of officials, a bureaucracy, that controls all the engines of power of the organisation, the finances, the press, the appointment of lower officials; often it is invested with even greater power, so that from a servant of the rank and file, it has become the master, identifying itself with the organisation. The Trade Unions can be compared to the State and its bureaucracy, also in this: that, notwithstanding the democracy that is supposed to reign there, the members are unable to enforce their will against the bureaucracy; every revolt is broken against the cleverly constructed apparatus of official ordinances and statutes, before it has been able even to shake the highest regions.

Only the most tenacious perseverance over several years can obtain even a moderate result, which mostly remains restricted to a change of persons. In the last few years, before and after the war, in England, Germany, and America, this often gave rise to rebellions of the members, who started strikes on their own account, against the will of the leaders, or the decrees of the union itself. That this should seem natural, and be accepted as such, is an indication in itself that the organisation does not represent the totality of the members, but something altogether foreign to them; and the workers do not control their union, but that the union is placed over them as an outside power against which they can rebel - a power which, all the same, has its origin in themselves: again, therefore, an analogy with the State. Once the revolt is over, the old domination begins again. In spite of the hatred and impotent exasperation of the masses, this domination manages to maintain itself, owing to the indifference and lack of clear insight, and of a united, indomitable will in the masses, and upheld as it is by the inner need for the Trade Unions, the only means the workers have to gain strength through unity, in their struggle against capital.

Warning of TU Influence

Fighting against capital, in a constant opposition against its tendency of increasing misery, and enabling the working class, through the restriction of these tendencies, to keep the existence the Trade Union movement, has played its part under capitalism, and has thus become itself a member of capitalist society. It is only at the beginning of the revolution, when the proletariat, from a member of capitalist society, is turned into the annihilator of this society, that the Trade Union finds itself in opposition to the proletariat.

That which Marx and Lenin demonstrated for the State: that its organisation, in spite of formal democracy, makes it impossible to turn it into an Instrument of the proletarian revolution, must also hold good therefore for the Trade Union organisations. Their counter-revolutionary power cannot be destroyed or weakened through a change of staff, through the replacing of reactionary leaders by radical or revolutionary elements.

It is the form of organisation that renders the masses as good as powerless, and prevents then from turning the Trade Unions into the organs of their will. The revolution can triumph only if it completely destroys this organisation: that is to say, if it alters the form of organisation so fundamentally as to turn it into something altogether different. The Soviet system, the construction from within, is not only able to uproot and abolish the State, but also the Trade Union bureaucracy: it will constitute not only the new political organs of the proletariat as opposed to capitalism, but likewise the foundation for the new Trade Unions. In the party factions in Germany, the idea of a form of organisation being revolutionary has been mocked at, because it is only the revolutionary sentiment, the revolutionary mind of the members, that matters. However, if the most important part of the revolution consists in the masses conducting their own concerns - the control of society and production - then every form of organisation that does not allow the masses to rule and to guide for themselves, must needs be counter-revolutionary and harmful, and as such it must be replaced by another form, which is revolutionary in so far as it allows the workers to decide matters for themselves.

Through their very nature the Trade Unions are useless arms for the West-European revolution! Apart from the fact that they have become tools of capitalism, and that they are in the hands of traitors, apart from the fact that through their nature they are bound to make slaves of the members, no matter what the leaders may be, they are also unfit for use generally.

The Harder Task of Europe.

The Trade Unions are too weak in the contest against the most highly-organised capital in Western-European States. These latter are powerful: the unions are not. To a great extent the Trade Unions are Professional Unions as yet, which cannot make a revolution, if it were for that fact alone. And in so far as they are industrial unions, they are not founded on the factories, on the workshops themselves, and are consequently weak. Also they are more unions for mutual aid than for struggle, dating as they do from the days of the small bourgeoisie. Even before the revolution, their organisation was already inadequate for the struggle; for the Revolution itself it cannot serve at all - in Western Europe. For the factories, the workers in the factories, make the revolution, not in the industries and professions, but in the workshops. Moreover, these unions are far too slow-working, complicated instruments, good only for the evolutionary period. Even if the revolution should not succeed right away, and we had once more to revert to peaceful action for a while, the Trade Unions would have to be destroyed and replaced by industrial unions, on a basis of industrial or workshop organisation. And with these miserable Trade Unions, that must be done away with in any case, they want to make the revolution! The workers in Western Europe need WEAPONS for the revolution. The only weapons for the revolution in Western Europe are Industrial Organisations. And these united into ONE big whole!

The workers in Western Europe need the very best weapons. They stand alone: they have no help. And therefore they need these industrial organisations. In Germany and England they need them at once, because there the revolution is nearest at hand. The other countries must have them as soon as possible, as soon as we can build them.

It is no good at all, Comrade Lenin, your saying:

in Russia we did it in such and such a way, for in the first place you had no organisations that were so inadequate for the struggle as many of the Trade Unions are here. You had industrial unions. Secondly, your workers were more revolutionary in spirit. Thirdly, the organisation of the capitalists was weak: and the State also. And in the fourth place, and this is the main point: you had help. You did not need the very best of weapons. We stand alone, we must have them. We will not win unless we have them. We will be defeated over and over again, unless we have them.

Other grounds than material ones also demonstrate this.

Recall in your mind, Comrade, how things were in Germany, before and during the war. The Trade Unions, the far too weak but only means, were entirely in the hands of the leaders, who used them as dead machines on behalf of capitalism. Then the revolution broke out. The Trade Unions were used by the leaders and the masses of members as a weapon against the revolution. It was through their help, through their cooperation, through their leaders, nay, partly even through their members that the revolution was murdered. The Communists saw their own brothers being shot with the cooperation of the Trade Unions. Strikes in favour of the revolution were prevented, rendered impossible. Do you hold it possible, Comrade, that under such conditions revolutionary workers should remain in these unions? Especially when these latter are utterly inadequate instruments for the revolution! In my opinion this is a physical impossibility. What would you yourself have done, as a member of a political party, that of the Menshevists for instance, if these had acted thus in the revolution? You would have split the Party (if you had not already done so)! You will reply:

this was a political party, it is different in the case of a Trade Union. I believe you are mistaken. In the revolution, during the revolution, every Trade Union, every workersí union even, is a political party - either pro- or counterrevolutionary.

In your article, however, you say, and you will do so now: these emotional impulses must be conquered, for the sake of unity and Communist propaganda. I will show you, by means of concrete examples, that during the revolution this was impossible in Germany. For these questions must also be considered quite concretely. Let us suppose that Germany had 100,000 really revolutionary dock labourers, 100,000 revolutionary metal workers, and 100,000 revolutionary miners; that these were willing to strike, to fight, to die for the revolution, and that the other millions were not. What are these 300,000 to do? They must in the first place unite, and form a fighting league. This you acknowledge. Without organisation workers can do nothing. Now a new league against old unions, even if the workers remain in the old ones, is a split already; if not formally, at any rate actually, in reality. Next, however, the members of the new league need a press, meetings, localities, a salaried staff. This requires heaps of money. And the German workers possess next to nothing. In order to keep the new league going, they must needs, whether they like it or not, leave the old one. Thus we see that, concretely considered, that which you, Comrade, propose, is impossible.

Build on New Foundations.

However, there are better material grounds yet. The German workers who left the Trade Unions, that wished to destroy them, that created the industrial organisations and workersí unions, stood IN THE REVOLUTION. It was necessary to fight at ONCE. The revolution was there. The Trade Unions refused to fight. What is the good then of saying: remain in the Trade Unions, propagate your ideas, you will grow stronger, and become the majority. Apart from the fact that the minority would be strangled, as is the custom there, this would be quite fine, and also the Left Wing would try it, if there were only time to do so. But it was impossible to wait. The revolution had begun. And it is still going on!

IN THE REVOLUTION (mind, Comrade, it was in the revolution that the German workers split the Party, and created their Workersí Union) the revolutionary workers will always separate themselves from the social-patriots. In the struggle, no other way is possible. No matter what you, and the Moscow Executive, and the International Congress say, and no matter how much you dislike a split in the Party, it will always take place, on psychological and material grounds, because the workers cannot in the long run tolerate the Trade Unions shooting them, and because there has to be fighting.

That is why the Left Wing has created the Workersí Unions; and as they believe that the revolution in Germany is not over yet, but it will proceed to the final victory, they keep them up.

Comrade Lenin, is there another way out, in the workersí movement, when two trends come up, but that of fighting? And when those trends are very divergent, if they oppose one another, is there another way out but secession? Did you ever hear of any other? And is there anything more opposed than revolution and counter-revolution?

For this reason again the KAPD and the General Workersí Unions are quite right.

And, Comrade, have not these secessions, these clearances always been a blessing for the proletariat? Does not this always become evident after a while? I have some experience in this matter. When we as yet belonged to the social- patriotic party we had no influence - after our expulsion we had some - in the beginning, and very soon we won a great, a very great influence. And how about you, the Bolshevists, after the secession? I believe you fared quite well. Small influence at first, very much later on. And all now. It all depends on the economic and political development, whether a group, be it ever so small, does become the most powerful party. If the revolution in Germany lasts, there is a fair hope that the importance and the influence of the workersí unions will surpass all the others. You should not be intimidated by their numbers- 70,000 against seven millions. Smaller groups than these have become the strongest - the Bolshevists, among others!

The industrial unions and workshop organisations, and the Workersí Unions that are based on them and formed from them, why are they such excellent weapons for the revolution in Western Europe, the best weapons even together with the Communist Party? Because the workers act for themselves, infinitely more so than they did in the old Trade Unions, because now they control their leaders, and thereby the entire leadership, and because they have the supervision of the industrial organisation, and thereby of the entire union.

Every trade, every workshop is one whole, where the workers elect their representatives. The industrial organisations have been divided according to economic districts. Representatives have been appointed for the districts. And the districts in turn elect the general board for the entire State.

All the industrial organisations together, no matter to what trade they belong, constitute the one Workersí Union.

This, as we see, is an organisation altogether directed towards the revolution.

If an interval of comparatively peaceful fighting should follow, this organisation might moreover be easily adapted. The industrial organisations would only have to be combined, according to the industries, within the compass of the Workersí Unions.

The Worker has Power.

It is obvious. Here the workers, every worker, has power, for in his workshop he elects his own delegates, and through them he has direct control over the district and State bodies. There is strong centralisation, but not too strong. The individual and the industrial organisation has great power. He can dismiss or replace his delegates at any time, and compel them to replace the higher positions at the shortest notice. This is individualism, but not too much of it. For the central corporations, the districts and government councils have great power. The individual and the central board have just that amount of power, which this present period, in which the revolution breaks out, requires and allows.

Marx writes that under capitalism the citizen is an abstraction, a cipher, as compared to the State. It is the same in the Trade Unions. The bureaucracy, the entire system of the organisation plane ever so far above, and are altogether out of the reach of the worker. He cannot reach them. He is a cipher as compared to them, an abstraction. For them he is not even the man in the workshop. He is not a living, willing, struggling being. If in the old Trade Unions you replace the bureaucracy by other persons, you will see that before long these also have the same character; that they stand high, unattainably high above the masses, and are in no way in touch with them. Ninety-nine out of every hundred will be tyrants, and will stand on the side of the bourgeoisie. It is the very nature of the organisation that makes them so.

Your tactics strive to leave the Trade Unions as they are, "down below", and only to give them other leaders somewhat more of the Left trend, is therefore purely a change "up above". And the Trade Unions remain in the power of leaders. And these, once spoilt, everything is as of old, or at the very best, a slight improvement in the layers up above. No, not even if you yourself, or we ourselves, were the leaders, we would not consent to this. For we wish to enable the masses themselves to become more intelligent, more courageous, self-acting, more elevated in all things. We want the masses themselves to make the revolution. For only thus the revolution can triumph here in Western Europe. And to this end the old Trade Unions must be destroyed.

Industrial Workers Decide.

How utterly different it is in the industrial unions. Here it is the worker himself who decides about tactics, trend, and struggle, and who intervenes if the "leaders" do not act as he wants them to. The factory, the workshop, being at the same time the organisation, he stands continually in the fight himself.

In so far as it is possible under capitalism, he is the maker and the guide of his own fate, and as this is the case with every one of them, THE MASS IS THE MAKER AND LEADER OF ITS OWN FIGHT.

More, infinitely more so, than was ever possible in the old Trade Unions, reformist as well as syndicalist (1)

The industrial unions and workersí unions that make the individuals themselves, and consequently the masses themselves, the direct fighters, those that really wage the war, are for that very reason the best weapons for the revolution, the weapons we need here in Western Europe, if ever we shall be able without help to overthrow the most powerful capitalism of the world.

But, Comrade, these are only the weaker grounds yet, as compared to the last, main actual reason, which hangs closely together with the principles I have indicated at the beginning. And it is this last ground which is decisive for the KAPD and the opposition party in England. These parties strive greatly to raise the spiritual level of the masses and individuals in Germany and England.

They are of the opinion that there is only ONE means to that end. And I should like to know whether you know of another means in the Labour movement? It is the formation of a group! That shows, in the struggle, what the mass should be. That shows, fighting, what the mass MUST be. If you know of another means, Comrade, tell me so. I know none other.

In the Labour movement, and especially, I imagine, in the revolution, there is but one way to prove the example - the example itself, the DEED.

The comrades of the Left Wing believe that this small group, in its fight against the Trade Unions and against Capitalism, will win the Trade Unions to its side, or, which is also possible, that gradually the Trade Unions will be directed towards a better course.

This can be attained only through the example. For the raising of the German worker to a higher level, therefore, these new organisations are absolutely indispensable.

The new formation, the Workersí Union, must act against the Trade Unions, in exactly the same way as the Communist parties act against the Socialist parties (2)

The servile, reformist, social-patriotic masses can be converted only through example.

Next I come to England: to the English Left Wing.

After Germany, England is nearest to a revolution, not because in that country the situation is revolutionary already, but because the proletariat there is so numerous, and the capitalist and economic conditions most favourable. Only a strong blow is needed there and the fight will begin, a fight which can only end in a victory. And the blow will come. This is felt, this is almost instinctively known by the most advanced workers of England (as we all feel it), and because they feel this, they have founded a new movement, which, whilst manifesting itself in various directions, and searching as yet, just as in Germany - is in general the rank and file movement, the movement of the masses themselves, without, or practically without leaders (3).

Their movement is very much like the German Workersí Union and its industrial organisations.

Did you observe, Comrade, that this movement has arisen in two of the most advanced countries only? And from the ranks of the workers themselves? And in many places (4). This proves already in itself that it is of natural growth, and not to be stopped!

Struggle in England Essential.

And in England this movement, this struggle against the Trade Unions, is needed more almost than in Germany, for the English Trade Unions are not only a tool in the hands of the leaders, for the maintenance of capitalism, but they are at the same time far more inefficient as a means for the revolution than those of Germany. The way they are conducted dates from the time of the small struggle, often as far back as the 19th or even the 18th century. England not only has industries where 25 Trade Unions exist, but most of the unions fight one another to the death for members!! And the members are utterly without power. Do you also wish to retain these Trade Unions, Comrade Lenin?

Must not these be opposed, split up, and destroyed? If you are against the Workersí Unions you must also be against the Shop Committees, the Shop Stewards, and the Industrial Unions. Whoever is in favour of the latter, is also in favour of the former. For the Communists in either aim at the same things.

The English Communists of the Left Wing wish to use this new trend in the Trade Union movement to destroy the English Trade Unions in their present shape, to alter them, to replace them by new instruments in the class struggle, which can be applied for the revolution. The same reasons that we have brought forward for the German movement holds good here.

In the postscript of the Executive Committee of the Third International to the KAPD, I have read that the EC is in favour of the IWW in America, as long as this latter wishes only political action and affiliation to the Communist Parties. And these IWW need not join the American Trade Unions! But the Executive Committee is against the Workersí Union in Germany; this latter must join the Trade Unions, although it is communist, and works in cooperation with the political party.

And you, Comrade Lenin, are in favour of the rank and file movement in England (although this often causes a split, and although many of its members want the destruction of the Trade Unions!) and against the Workersí Unions in Germany.

Executive Committeeís Opportunism.

I can explain your attitude and that of the Executive Committee only by opportunism; and a mistaken opportunism to boot.

It goes without saying that the Left Wing of the Communists in England cannot go as far as in Germany, because in England the revolution has not begun yet. It cannot as yet organise the rank and file movement all over the country into one whole for the revolution. But the English Left Wing is preparing this. And as soon as the revolution comes, the great masses of workers will leave the old Trade Unions as unserviceable for the revolution, and will join the industrial organisations.

And as the Left Communist Wing penetrates everywhere into this movement, seeking to spread the Communist ideas, it raises the workers by means of its example on to a higher level, also there, and already now. And, as in Germany, that is its real aim (5).

The General Workersí Unions, and the rank and file movement, which are both founded on the factories, the workshops, and on these alone, are the forerunners of the Workersí Councils, the Soviets. As the revolution in Western Europe will be very difficult and consequently of probably very long duration, there will be a long period of transition, in which the Trade Unions are no longer any good, and in which there are no Soviets as yet. This period of transition will be filled out with the struggle against the Trade Unions, their re-forming, their replacing by better organisations. You need not fear, we will have ample time!

Once again this will be so, not because we of the Left Wing will it so, but because the revolution must needs have these new organisations. The revolution cannot triumph without them.

Hail the Rank and File Movement.

All hail, therefore, the rank and file movement in England, and the Workersí Unions in Germany, first forerunners of the Soviets in Europe. Good luck to you, the first organisations that, with the Communist parties, will bring the revolution in Western Europe.

You, Comrade Lenin, wish to compel us to use bad weapons here in Western Europe, where we stand alone, without a single ally, against an as yet extremely powerful, extremely organised and armed capitalism, and where we stand in need of the very best of weapons, the very strongest. Where we want to organise the revolution on the shop floor, and on a shop floor basis, you wish to force the miserable Trade Unions on us. The revolution in Western Europe can and must be organised only on the shop floor and on a shop floor basis, because here capitalism has attained such a high economic and political organisation (in all directions) and because the workers (except for the Communist Party) have no other strong weapons. The Russians were armed, and had the poor peasants. What the weapons and the peasants were for the Russians, tactics and the organisation must be for us for the time being. And then YOU recommend the Trade Unions! From psychological, as well as from material grounds, in the midst of the revolution, we MUST fight these Trade Unions, and you try to hinder us in this fight. We can fight only be means of a splitting-up, and you are preventing us. We wish to form groups, that are to be an example, the only way of showing the proletariat what it is we seek, and you forbid this. We wish to raise the proletariat of Europe to a higher level, and you throw stones in our path.

You do not wish them then: the splitting up, the new formations, the higher stage of development!

And why not?

Because you want to have the big parties, and the big Trade Unions, in the Third International.

To us this looks like opportunism, opportunism of the very worst kind (6).

Today, in the International, your actions differ widely from what they were in the Maximalist party. This was kept very "pure" (and is so to this day, perhaps). In the International, all elements are to be accepted right away, no matter how poorly communistic they are.

It is the curse of the Labour movement that, as soon as it has acquired a certain "power", it seeks to enlarge this power by unprincipled means. Social-Democracy also was originally "pure" in almost all countries. Most Social-patriots of today were real Marxists. By Marxist propaganda the masses were won, and as soon as the party gained "power" they were abandoned.

Just as the Social-Democrats acted at that time, you and the Third International are acting now. Not on a national scale, of course, but internationally. The Russian Revolution has triumphed through "purity", through firmness of principle. Now it has gained power, and through it the international proletariat has obtained power, this power is to be extended over Europe, and immediately the old tactics are abandoned!

Instead of applying the same efficacious tactics in ALL the other countries to the inner strengthening of the Third International, opportunism is again resorted to, as before, in Social-Democracy. All elements are now to be affiliated: the Trade Unions, the Independents, the French Centre, parts of the Labour Party. To preserve the semblance of Marxism, conditions are put that have to be SIGNED, and Kautsky, Hilferding, Thomas, etc., are expelled. The great mass, however, the medium quality, is admitted, is driven in by all possible means. And in order that the Centre shall be all the more powerful, the "Left Wing" is not admitted unless it joins that Centre! THE VERY BEST REVOLUTIONARIES, like the KAPD, are excluded!

And when these huge masses have thus been united on one average line, they proceed to one common advance under an iron discipline, and with leaders that have been tested in this most extraordinary manner. A common advance whither? Into the abyss.

Failure of Second International.

What is the use of the finest principles, of the most splendid Theses of the Third International, if in practice we exercise this opportunism? The Second International also had the finest principles, yet it failed through practice.

We, however, the Left Wing, refuse to do so. In Western Europe we wish first to build very firm, very clear, and very strong (though at the outset perhaps quite small) parties, kernels, just as you did in Russia. And once we have those, we will make them bigger. But we always want them to be very firm, very strong, very "pure". Only thus can we triumph in Western Europe. Therefore we absolutely reject your tactics, Comrade.

You say that we, the members of the Amsterdam Commission, have forgotten or have never known the lessons former revolutions have taught. Well, Comrade, there is one thing about these former revolutions which I remember quite well. It is this: that the extreme "Left" parties have always played a prominent, eminent part in all of them. It was such in the revolution of the Netherlands against Spain, in the English revolution, in that of France, in the Commune, and in the two Russian revolutions.

In accordance with the development of the Labour movement, there are two trends here in the West- European revolution: the radical and the opportunist trend. These can only arrive at sound tactics, at unity, by means of a mutual struggle. The radical trend, however, though in some particulars it may go too far, is much the best. And yet you, Comrade Lenin, go and support the opportunists!

And not only this! The Executive in Moscow, the RUSSIAN leaders of a revolution that triumphed only through the help of millions of poor peasants, forces these their tactics on the proletariat of Western Europe, which stands and has to stand all alone. And in so doing annihilates the best trend in Western Europe!

What incredible foolishness, and especially what dialectics:

When the revolution in Western Europe breaks out, it will work for you blue wonders! But the proletariat will be the victim.

Counter-revolutionary Trade Unions.

You, Comrade, and the Executive in Moscow, know that the Trade Unions in Western Europe are counter-revolutionary forces. This is evident from your Theses. And yet you wish to retain them. You also know that the Workersí Union, the rank and file movement, are revolutionary organisations. You say yourself, in your Theses, that the industrial organisations must be and are our aim. And yet you want to smother them. You want to destroy the organisations in which the workers, every worker, and therefore the mass, can attain power and strength, and to keep those in which the mass is a dead tool in the hands of the leaders. Thus you strive to bring the Trade Unions in your power, in the power of the Third International.

Why is it you wish to do so? Why do you follow these bad tactics? Because you want masses around you, no matter of what quality, as long as they are masses. Because you believe that if only you have masses obeying you on account of a strict discipline and centralisation, no matter whether they are communist, half communist, or not communist at all, you, the leaders, will win, in a word, because your tactics are leader-tactics.

By criticizing leader-tactics I do not mean to advocate politics without leaders and centralisation, for without these one attains nothing (they are as indispensable as the party). I am criticizing those politics that collect masses, without inquiring into their convictions, their heart; politics that assume that the leaders, once they have great masses around them, will be able to win.

Russian Tactics Useless in Western Europe.

But these politics, which you and the Executive are now following, will lead nowhere in Western Europe. Capitalism here is far too powerful as yet, and the proletariat is much too isolated. These politics will fail here, just as those of the Second International did.

Here the workers themselves must become strong, and, through them, their leaders. Here the evil the leadership-policy, must be seized by the root

Through these your tactics on the Trade Union question you and the Moscow Executive have proved, to my mind, that UNLESS YOU ALTER THESE TACTICS, YOU CANNOT CONDUCT THE REVOLUTION IN WESTERN EUROPE.

You say that the Left Wing, in following its tactics, can only talk. Well, Comrade, in the other countries the Left Wing has had next to no opportunities as yet to act. But look at Germany, and the tactics and actions of the KAPD in the "Kapp putsch" and with regard to the Russian revolution, and you will have to take those words back.