On the Radicalisation of the Masses
by Bill Hopwood, 1988
Trotsky was one of the great teachers of the school of revolutionary struggle. Many of his lessons remain as valid today as when he wrote. Therefore Northern Militant supporters [forerunner of the Socialist Party, CWI, England & Wales] are republishing an edited version of Trotsky’s article “The ‘Third Period’ of the Comintern’s Errors”.
He explains the nature of economic development and the relation with the radicalisation and struggles of the masses. He stresses that this is not a simple process but is full of uneven and contradictory characteristics.
This article was written in early 1930; mush of the detail is about events at that time in France and has been edited to concentrate on the analysis of the processes in society.
The Communist International
The Comintern, founded in 1919 on the inspiration of the Russian Revolution, represented the best militants of the working class. However by 1930 it was dominated by the bureaucratic clique which had come to power in Russia due to the isolation of the Russian Revolution. Under Stalin, the leadership of the Comintern had ceased to be that of a party of world revolution. They had abandoned the methods of Marxism. This article was part of the struggle of the Left Opposition, led by Trotsky, to re-win the Comintern to Marxism.
The Comintern had adopted the policy of the so-called ‘Third Period’. This claimed that capitalism was in its final crisis and that anyone who was not a member of the Comintern was an implacable enemy. This policy was totally false. There is no such thing as a final collapse of capitalism. It will survive until it is overthrown. Today the only other option is nuclear annihilation. The international overthrow of capitalism cannot be left to an inevitable piling up of its economic contradictions or the actions of a tiny minority. Only the working class can achieve its own emancipation.
The working class today has the potential power to carry out the socialist revolution. The objective impasse of the economic system is intensifying. The crucial issue is the building of a Marxist leadership with a programme and method to give the required direction to the socialist transformation.
The approach of the ‘Third Period’, of the Comintern against the rest, meant the communist parties built huge barriers between themselves and the mass of the workers coming into struggle. This policy reached its most extreme form in Germany where the Communist Party branded the SPD, the socialist party, which had more support among workers, as “social fascist”. They claimed the socialists were no different from the Nazis. This split in the most powerful working class in Europe of the time paved the way for the victory of Hitler.
The article was written just after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 which was the prelude to the worst slump in capitalist history. France was one of the last countries hit by the slump.
The inter-war era was one of economic instability, similar to the period since the end of the long post war boom of 1950-75 [or the period since the onset of the 2008 World Economic Crisis]. Within an era of crisis there is still a cycle of growth and recession. The article deals with such a growth phase, parallels to the present upturn since 1981.
As well as economic crisis, the years between the wares were a time of revolution and counter-revolution. Time and again workers moved into struggle even after partial defeats and the mass unemployment created by the slump. Only the bloody crushing of the victory of fascism or the outbreak of World War II stopped the revolutionary wave.
The working class was determined enough to win several revolutions; only the failures of the leaders of the workers’ organisations saved capitalism.
On the Radicalisation of the Masses
(from The “Third Period” of the Comintern’s Mistakes)
by Leon Trotsky, 1930
The radicalisation of the masses for the Comintern has become, at present, an empty catechism and not the characterisation of a process. Genuine Communists – teaches l’Humanité – should recognise the leading role of the party and the radicalisation of the masses. It is meaningless to put the question that way. The leading role of the party is an unshaken principle for every Communist. Who does not follow it can be an anarchist or a confusionist, but not a Communist, that is, a proletarian revolutionary. But radicalisation itself is not a principle, but only a characterisation of a state of the masses. Is this characterisation correct or is it not correct for the given period? That is a question of fact. In order to estimate seriously the state of the masses, correct criteria are necessary. What is radicalisation? How does it express itself? What are its characteristics? With what tempo and in which direction does it develop? The deplorable leadership of the French Communist party does not even pose these questions. At most an official article or a speech will refer to the growth of strikes. But even there only bare figures are given, without serious analysis, without even a simple comparison with the ones of the preceding years.
Such an attitude to the question flows not only from the unfortunate decisions of the Tenth Plenum of the E.C.C.I. but, as a matter of fact, from the Comintern programme itself. It speaks of the radicalisation of the masses as a continuous process. It believes: today the mass is more revolutionary than it was yesterday, and tomorrow it will be more revolutionary than it is today. Such a mechanical idea does not correspond with the real process of development of the proletariat or of capitalist society as a whole.
The social democratic parties, especially before the war, had imagined the future as a continual growth of social democratic votes, which will grow till it comes to the very moment of the complete possession of power. For a vulgar or pseudo-revolutionary this perspective still retains, essentially, its force, only instead of a continuous growth of votes, he talks of the continual radicalisation of the masses. This mechanical conception is sanctioned also by the Bukharin-Stalin program of the Comintern. It goes without saying that from the point of view of our epoch as a whole the development of the proletariat goes in the direction of the revolution. But this is not at all a straight process, just as the objective process of the sharpening of capitalist antagonism is not straight. The reformists see only the ups of the capitalist road. The formal “revolutionaries” see only its downs. But a Marxist sees the line as a whole, with all its conjunctural rises and declines, without for a moment losing sight of is main direction – to the catastrophes of wars, to the outburst of revolutions.
The political mood of the proletariat does not change automatically in one and the same direction. The upturns in the class struggle are followed by downturns, the flood-tides by the ebbs, depending upon complicated combinations of material and ideological conditions, national and international. The activity of the masses, if not utilised at the right moment, or misused, goes to its opposite and ends in a period of decline, from which the masses recover faster or slower, again due to the influence of new objective stimuli. The characteristic of our epoch is the especially sharp changes of different periods, the extraordinary abrupt turns in the situation and this puts upon the leadership unusual obligations in the matter of correct orientation.
The activity of the masses, even when it is quite correctly ascertained, may have different expressions depending upon different conditions. The mass may, at certain periods, be completely absorbed in an economic struggle, and show very little interest in political questions. On the other hand, suffering from a series of failures on the field of the economic struggle, the mass may abruptly transfer its attention to the realm of politics. But here too – depending upon a series of conditions and on the experience with which a mass entered these conditions – its political activity may go either by the purely parliamentary way or by way of extra-parliamentary struggle.
We take only a very few examples, which characterise the contradictions of the revolutionary development of the proletariat. Those who know how to follow facts and understand their meaning, will admit without difficulty that the variations traced above are not some kind of theoretical combination but an expression of the living international experience of the last decade.
In any case, it is clear from what has been said that when the radicalisation of the masses is being discussed, a concrete definition of it should be demanded. The Marxist Opposition should, of course, put the same demand to itself. A simple denial of radicalisation brings just as little as its complete affirmation. We should have an estimate of what the situation is and of what it is becoming.
Start with the facts
The official leaders speak of the radicalisation of the French working class almost exclusively in connection with the strike movement. The growth of the latter is an incontestable fact, systematically established. We will take this fact as a starting point.
After the high point of strikes in 1919–20, the diminishing progression takes place until 1928, with a very small break in 1923. In the years of 1928–29 we observe an unmistakable, and, what is more, a considerable increase of the strike movement, connected it is not hard to understand – it will be shown further on – with the rise in industry under the influence of the stabilisation of the currency.
We can say with perfect confidence that the period of 1919–27 forms a certain independent cycle in the life of the French proletariat, including the cyclonic rise of the strike movement immediately after the war, as well as its defeats and its decline especially acute after the catastrophe in Germany in 1923. In the most general of its aspects this cycle is characteristic not only of France alone, but of the whole of Europe, and in considerable degree, the whole world. What is characteristic of France as such is the comparatively moderate extent of fluctuation between the highest and lowest points of the cycle: victorious France did not go through a genuine revolutionary crisis. In the rhythm of the French strike movement the gigantic events developing in Russia, Germany, England, and other countries found only a weakened reflection.
Other statistics establish these same trends of the French workers strike movement. The number of strikers and the number of days of each strike, fell sharply beginning with the year 1922. In 1921 each strike had an average of 800 strikers and lasted more than 14,000 days. In 1925 each strike already had less than 300 strikers and a little more than 2,000 days. We can assume that in 1926–27, these averages did not in any case, grow bigger. In 1929, we already have 400 men per strike.
What do the facts mean?
Do the statistics confirm the thesis of the radicalisation of the masses or do they refute it? First of all, we answer, it takes it out of the realm of abstractions in which Monmousseau says “Yes” and Chambelland says “No”, without giving any definition of what is meant by radicalisation. The data of the strike struggle given above are indisputable proof of certain moves in the working class. At the same time, they give a very important estimate of the number and quality of these moves. They outline the general dynamics of the process and make it possible, to a certain degree to anticipate the future, or more exactly, the possible variations of the future.
In the first place, we can affirm that the data for 1928–29, compared with the preceding period, characterise the beginning of a new cycle in the life of the French proletariat. They give us the right to assume that deep molecular processes have taken and are taking place in the masses, as a result of which the momentum of the decline begins – if only on the economic front now – to be overcome.
Nevertheless, the same data show that the growth of the strike movement is still very modest, and does not in the least give a picture of a tempestuous upsurge, which would allow us to draw conclusions about a revolutionary or at least a pre-revolutionary period. In particular, there is no marked difference between 1928 and 1929. The bulk of the strikes continued to be in light industry.
From this fact, Chambelland comes to a general conclusion against radicalisation. It would be a different matter, he says, if strikes were taking hold of the large enterprises in heavy industry and the machine shops. In other words, he imagines that radicalisation falls from the sky ready-made. As a matter of fact these figures testify not only that the new cycle of proletarian struggle has begun, but also that this cycle is only now passing through its first stage. After defeat and decline, a revival, in the absence of any great events, could only start in no other way than from the industrial periphery, that is, from the light industries, from the secondary branches, from the smaller establishments of heavy industry. The transfer of the strike movement into the metal industry, machine shops, and transportation, would mean its transition to a higher stage of development, and would signify not only the symptoms of the beginning of a movement but the fact of a decisive break in the mood of the working class. It has not come yet. But it would be absurd to shut our eyes to the first stage of the movement only because the second has not begun yet or the third, or the fourth. Pregnancy even in its second month is pregnancy. To force it may lead to a miscarriage. But it is possible to arrive at the same result by ignoring it. It may be well, though, to add to this analogy that in the social realm dates are by no means as stable as in the realm of physiology.
Facts and Phrases
In discussing the question of the radicalisation of the masses, it should not for a moment be forgotten that the proletariat attains “unanimity” only in periods of the highest revolutionary flood tide. In the conditions of “everyday life” in capitalist society, the proletariat is far from being homogeneous. Moreover, the heterogeneity, of its layers manifests itself most acutely precisely at the turning points in the road. The most exploited, the least skilled, or the politically most backward layers of the proletariat are frequently the first to enter the arena of struggle, and, in case of failure, are often the first to desert it. It is exactly in the new period that those groups which did not suffer defeats in the preceding period are easily attracted to the movement, if only because they did not generally take part in big fights. In one way or another, these phenomena are bound to appear also in France.
Even in relation to the purely economic front, one cannot speak of the offensive character of the struggle, as Monmousseau and company do. They base this definition on the fact that a considerable percentage of the strikes are conducted in the name of increased wages. The thoughtful leaders forget that such a form of demands is forced upon the workers on the one hand by the rise of prices in food products, and on the other by the intensified physical exploitation of the worker as a result of new industrial methods (rationalisation). A workman is compelled to demand an increase in his nominal wages in order to defend his standard of living of yesterday. These strikes can have an “offensive” character only from the standpoint of capitalist bookkeeping. From the standpoint of trade union policies they have a purely defensive character. It is precisely this side of the question that every serious trade unionist should have clearly understood and brought to the forefront by every means. But Monmousseau and company believe they have a right to be good-for-nothing trade unionists because they are, if you please, “revolutionary leaders”. Shouting till they are hoarse about the offensive, political and revolutionary character of purely defensive strikes, they do not, of course, change the nature of these strikes and do not increase their significance by a single inch. But on the other hand, they do their best to arm the bosses and the government against the workers.
It does not improve matters when our “leaders” point out that the strikes become “political” on account of … the active role of the police. An astounding argument! The beating up of strikers by policemen is designated … a revolutionary advance of the workers. The history of France knows quite a few massacres of workers in purely economic strikes. In the United States, a bloody settlement with strikers is the rule. Does this mean that the workers in the United States are leading the most revolutionary struggle? The shooting of strikers has in itself, of course, a political significance. But only a loudmouth could identify it with the revolutionary political advance of the working masses – thus unconsciously playing into the hands of the bosses and their police.
When the British General Council of Trade Unions represented the revolutionary strike of 1926 as a peaceful demonstration, it knew what it was doing: that was a deliberately planned betrayal. But when Monmousseau and company represent scattered economic strikes as a revolutionary attack on the bourgeois state, nobody will think of accusing them of a deliberate betrayal: it is doubtful of these people can act with deliberation. But it is certainly no help to the workers.
In the next section we will see how these terribly revolutionary heroes render some other services to the bosses, ignoring the rise of commerce and industry, underestimating its significance, that is, underestimating the profits of the capitalists – and by the same token undermining the foundation of the economic struggles of the workers.
Capitalist development is generally inconceivable without conjunctural contradictions; they existed before the war and will exist in the future. It is doubtful if even Chambelland would deny this commonplace. But from this there does not as yet flow any revolutionary perspective. On the contrary: if for the past century and a half the capitalist world passed through eighteen crises, then there is no basis for the conclusion that capitalism must fall with the nineteenth or twentieth. In actuality, conjunctural cycles in the life of capitalism play the same role as is played, for example, by the cycles of blood circulation in the life of an organism. From the periodicity of the crises, there flows just as little the conclusion of the inevitability of the revolution, as the inevitability of death – from a rhythmic pulse.
At the Third Congress of the Comintern (1921), the ultra-Leftists of the time (Bukharin, Zinoviev, Radek, Thaelmann, Thalheimer, Pepper, Bela Kun and others) calculated that capitalism would never again know an industrial revival because it had entered the final (“Third”?) period, which would develop on the basis of a permanent crisis until the very revolution. Around this question, a big ideological struggle took place at the Third Congress. My report was devoted to a considerable extent to proving the idea that in the epoch of imperialism the laws determining the change in industrial cycles remain in effect and that conjunctural vacillations will be characteristic of capitalism as long as it exists: the pulse ceases only with death. But from the state of the pulse, in conjunction with other symptoms, a doctor can determine whether he is dealing with a strong or weak organism, a healthy or a sick one.
Crisis and Radicalisation
If Vassart does not know the mechanics of business cycles and does not understand the relationship between conjunctural crises and revolutionary crises of the capitalist system as a whole, then the dialectical interdependence of the economic conjuncture and the struggle of the working class is just as unclear to him. Vassart conceives this dependence just as mechanically as his opponent Chambelland, although their conclusions are directly contrary, and moreover erroneous to the same degree.
“Radicalisation of the masses is in a certain sense the barometer which makes it possible to evaluate the condition of capitalism in a given country. If capitalism is in a state of decline the masses are necessarily radicalised.”
From this Chambelland draws the conclusion that because the strikes embrace only the periphery of the workers, because metallurgical and chemical industries are affected only to a slight degree, capitalism is not as yet in decline. Before him there is still a forty years’ period of development.
What does Vassart answer to this? Chambelland, according to him, “does not see the radicalisation because he does not see the new methods of exploitation.” Vassart in every respect repeats the thought that if one recognises the intensified exploitation and understands that it will develop further, “that in itself compels you to reply affirmatively to the question of the radicalisation of the masses.”
Reading these polemics one gets the impression of two blindfolded men trying to catch each other. It is not true that a crisis always and under all circumstances radicalises the masses. Example: Italy, Spain, the Balkans, etc. It is not true that the radicalism of the working class necessarily corresponds with the period of capitalism’s decline. Example: Chartism in England, etc. Like Chambelland, Vassart also ignores the living history of the labour movement in the name of dead forms. And Chambelland’s conclusion is also wrong. You cannot deny a beginning of radicalisation because strikes have not yet embraced the main sections of the workers; what can and must be made is a concrete evaluation of the extent, depth and intensity of this radicalisation. Chambelland, evidently, agrees to believe in it only after the whole working class is engaged in an offensive. But such leaders who wish to start only when everything is ready, are not needed by the working class. One must be able to see the first, even though weak, symptoms of revival, while only in the economic sphere, adapt one’s tactics to it and attentively follow the development of the process. Meantime one must not disregard, even for an hour, the general nature of our epoch, which has proved more than once and will yet prove, that between the first symptoms of revival and stormy upsurge which creates a revolutionary situation, not forty years but perhaps only a fifth or a tenth of that are required.
This matter stands no better with Vassart. He simply establishes a mechanical parallel between exploitation and radicalisation. How can the radicalisation of the masses be denied, Vassart says irritably, if exploitation grows from day to day? This is childish metaphysics, quite in the spirit of Bukharin. Radicalisation must be proved not by deductions but by facts. The conclusion of Vassart can be turned into its opposite without difficulty. It is sufficient to put a question like this: How could the capitalists increase exploitation from day to day if they were confronted by the radicalisation of the masses? It is precisely the absence of fighting spirit in the masses that permits an increase of exploitation. True, such reasoning without qualifications would also be one-sided, but still a lot nearer to life than Vassart’s constructions.
The trouble is that the growth of exploitation does not under all circumstances raise the fighting spirit of the proletariat. Thus, with a declining conjuncture, with the growth of unemployment, particularly after lost battles, increased exploitation does not breed radicalisation of the masses, but quite the contrary, the falling of spirit, dispersal and disintegration. We saw, that, for example, in the English coal mining industry right after the strike of 1926. We saw it on a still larger scale in Russia when the industrial crisis of 1907 fell with the wrecking of the 1905 revolution. If in the past two years the growth of exploitation in France brought about the evident growth of the strike movement, the ground for it was created by the rise in the economic conjuncture and not its decline.
The Monmousseau school – if one may give such a title to an institution where people are taught to unlearn thinking, reading and writing – is afraid of an economic rise. It must be said plainly that for the French working class, which has renewed its composition at least twice, during the years of the war and after the war, having included in its ranks tremendous numbers of youth, women and foreign-born – and is far from having fused this raw mass together in its melting pot – for the French working class, the further development of an industrial rise would have created an incomparable school, would have welded its strength, would have proved to the most backward sections their meaning and role in the capitalist mechanism, and would thereby have raised class consciousness as a whole to new heights. Two or three years, even one year, of a broad, successful economic struggle would give rebirth to the proletariat. After a properly utilised economic rise, a conjunctural crisis might give a serious impetus to a genuine political radicalisation of the masses.
At the same time, it must not be forgotten that wars and revolutions in our epoch result not from conjunctural crises but from the contradictions between the development of the productive forces on the one hand and the national boundaries of the bourgeois state on the other, carried to their climax. Imperialist war and the October revolution have succeeded in showing the strain of these contradictions. The new role of America has developed them further. The more serious a character the development of the productive forces has in one country or another, or in a series of countries, the faster a new rise in industry will find itself confronted with the basic contradiction of world industry and the sharper will be the reaction – economic, political, domestic and international. A serious industrial rise would be at all events, not a minus but a tremendous plus for French Communism, creating a mighty strike forerunner to a political offensive. Conclusion: there will be no lack of revolutionary situations. It is quite likely, however, that there will be a lack of ability to utilise them.
But is the continuing upward trend in the French industrial conjuncture guaranteed? This we cannot dare to assume. Here all sorts of possibilities remain open. At any rate, it does not depend on us. What does depend on us, and what we are obliged to do, is not to close our eyes to facts in the name of pitiful schema, but to take the course of economic development as it really is and to work out trade union tactics on the basis of real facts. We speak in the given case of tactics in distinction to strategy, which is determined, of course, not by conjunctural changes but by basic tendencies of development. But if tactics are subordinated to strategy then, on the other hand, strategy is realised only through tactics.
The question of the radicalisation of the masses is not exhausted, however, with the strike movement. How do matters stand with the political struggle? And above all: how do matters stand with the numbers and influence of the Communist Party?
It is remarkable that in speaking of radicalisation the official leaders, with a striking light-mindedness, ignore the question of their own party. Meanwhile, the facts are that beginning with 1925 the membership of the party has been falling from year to year.
It may be said that quality is more important than quantity, and that there now remain in the party only the fully reliable Communists. Let us assume that. But this is not at all the question. The process of the radicalisation of the masses can by no means signify the isolation of the cadres, but on the contrary, the influx into the party of reliable and semi-reliable members and the conversion of the latter into “reliables.” The political radicalisation of the masses can be reconciled with the regular decline in party membership only if one sees the role of the party in the life of the working class as a fifth wheel to a wagon. Facts are stronger than words: we observe a steady decline of the party not only during the years 1925–27, when the strike wave was ebbing, but also during the last two years, when the number of strikes was beginning to grow.
At this point, the honorable Panglosses of official Communism will interrupt, pointing to the “disproportion” between the numbers of the party and its influence. This is now the general Comintern formula, created by the shrewd for the simpleton. However, the canonised formula not only fails to explain anything but in some respects even makes matters worse. The experience of the labour movement testifies that the difference between the extent of organisation and the extent of the influence of the party – all other conditions being equal – is all the greater the smaller the revolutionary and the bigger the “parliamentary” character of the given party. Opportunism is a lot easier than Marxism, for it bases itself on the diffused mases. This is especially evident from the simple comparison of the socialist and Communist Party. The systematic growth of the “disproportion,” with the decline in the number of organised Communists, can mean only that the French Communist Party is being transformed from a revolutionary into a parliamentary and municipalist party. That this process to a certain degree took place in the last years, of that the recent “municipal” scandals are incontestable witness; and it may be feared that “parliamentary” scandals will follow. Nevertheless, the difference between the Communist party in its present form, and the social-democratic agents of the bourgeoisie, remains enormous. The Panglosses in the leadership merely slander the French Communist Party when they discourse on some kind of a gigantic disproportion between its numbers and its influence. It is not difficult to prove that the political influence of Communism, unfortunately, has grown very little in the last five years.
For Marxists – it is no secret that parliamentary and municipal elections sharply distort and even falsify the underlying mood of the masses. Nevertheless, the dynamics of political development find their reflection in parliamentary elections: this is one of the reasons why we Marxists take an active part in electoral struggles.
Other indications of political life speak just as fully against, to say the least, premature parrotings on the so-called political radicalisation of the masses, which is to have taken place in the last two years. The circulation of l’Humanité, to our knowledge, has not grown in the past two years. The collections of money for l’Humanité undoubtedly represent a gratifying fact. But such collections would have been considerable, in view of the demonstrative attack of reaction on the paper, a year, two and three ago as well.
On the First of August – it must not be forgotten for a minute – the party was incapable of mobilising not only that part of the proletariat which voted for it but not even all the unionised workers. In Paris, according to the undoubtedly exaggerated accounts of l’Humanité, about fifty thousand workers participated in the First of August demonstrations. That is, less than half of the unionised. In the provinces, matters stood infinitely worse. This fact proves, by the way, that the “leading role” of the Political Bureau among the C.G.T.U. apparatus people does not guarantee the leading role of the party among the unionised workers. But the latter contain only a tiny fraction of the class. If the revolutionary rise is such an irrefutable fact then what good is a party leadership which, in the acute moment of the Soviet-Chinese conflict, could not bring out at an anti-imperialist demonstration even a quarter (more correctly stated, even a tenth) part of its electorate in the country. No one demands the impossible of the leadership of the party. A class cannot be maniupulated. But what gave the August First demonstration the character of a flat failure is the monstrous “disproportion” between the victorious shouts of the leadership and the real response of the masses.
So far as the trade union organisations are concerned, they went through the party’s decline – judging by the official figures – after a delay of one year. In 1926, the C.G.T.U. numbered 475,000 members. In 1927, 452,000. In 1928, 375,000. The loss of 100,000 members by the trade unions at a time when the strike struggles in the country increased, represents an irrefutable proof that the C.G.T.U. does not reflect the basic processes at work in the field of the economic struggles of the masses. As an enlarged shadow of the party, it merely experiences the decline of the latter after some delay.
The data given here doubly confirm the preliminary conclusions we came to on the basis of our analysis of the strike movement. Let us recall them once more. The years 1919–20 were the culminating point of the proletarian struggle in France. After that, an ebb set in, which, in the economic field, began to change six years later by a new, but still slow tide: but in the political field the ebb-tide or stagnation continues even now, at any rate, in the main mass of the proletariat. Thus, the awakenings of the activity of certain sections of the proletariat in the field of economic struggle, is irrefutable. But this process too is only passing through its first stage, when it is primarily the enterprises of light industry that are drawn into the struggle, with an evident preponderance of the unorganised workers over the organised and with a considerable specific gravity of the foreign-born workers.
The impetus to the strike struggles was the rise in the economic conjuncture, with a simultaneous rise of the cost of living. In its first stages the strengthening of economic struggles is not accompanied ordinarily with a revolutionary rise. It is not evident now either. On the contrary, the economic rise for a certain time may even weaken the political interests of the workers, at any rate, of some of its sections.
If we take further into consideration that French industry has been on the upturn for two years now; that there is no talk of unemployment in the basic branches of industry and that in some branches there is even an acute shortage of workers, then it is not difficult to conclude that with these exceptionally favourable conditions for trade union struggle the present swing of the strike movement must be acknowledged as extremely modest. The basic indications of the moderate character are: the quiescence of the masses that still remains from the last period and the slowness of the industrial upturn itself.
What Are the Perspectives?
Regardless of the tempo of the conjunctural changes, it is only possible to approximate the change in the phases of the cycle. This was true also of pre-war capitalism. But in the present epoch the difficulties of conjunctural prediction have multiplied. The world market has not attained, after the shake-up of the war, the establishment of a uniform conjuncture, even though it has now approached it appreciably compared to the first five years after the war. This is why one must now be doubly careful in attempting to determine beforehand the alternating changes in the world conjuncture.
At the present moment the following basic variations appear likely:
- The New York stock market crisis proves to be the forerunner of a commercial-industrial crisis in the United States, which reaches great depths in the very next months. United States capitalism is compelled to make a decisive turn toward the foreign market. An epoch of mad competition opens up. European goods retreat before this unrestrained attack. Europe enters a crisis later than the United States but as a result the European crisis assumes extraordinary acuteness.
- The stock market crash does not immediately call forth a commercial-industrial crisis, but results only in a temporary depression. The blow at stock market speculation brings about a better correlation between the course of paper values and commercial-industrial realities, just as between the latter and the real buying power of the market. After the depression and a period of adjustment, the commercial-industrial conjuncture rises upward once more, even though not as steeply as in the previous period. This variation is not excluded. The reserves of American capitalism are great. Not the last place among them is held by the government budget (orders, subsidies, etc.).
- The withdrawal of funds from American speculation generates commercial and industrial activities. The further fate of this revival will in turn depend just as much upon purely European factors. Even in case of a sharp economic crisis in the United States, a rise may yet be maintained in Europe for a certain time, because it is unthinkable that capitalism in the United States will be able in the period of a few short months to reconstruct itself for a decisive attack on the world market.
- Finally, the actual course of developments may pass between the above-outlined variations and yield an equivalent in the form of a shaky, broken curve with weak deviations upward or downward.
The development of the working class, especially as expressed in the strike movement, from the very beginning of capitalism, has been closely bound with the development of the conjunctural cycle. But this must not be considered mechanically. Under certain conditions that overflow the boundaries of the commercial-industrial cycle (sharp changes of the world economic or political environment, sharp social crises, wars and revolutions), the strike wave may express fundamental historical revolutionary tasks of the working class, not their immediate demands evoked by the conjuncture. Thus, for instance, the post-war strikes in France did not have conjunctural character but reflected the profound crisis of capitalist society as a whole. If we approach the present strike in France with this criterion, it will present itself primarily as a movement of conjunctural character; the course and tempo of the labour movement will depend in the most immediate sense on a further movement of the market, on alternating conjunctural phases, on their fullness and intensity. The instability of this current period makes it all the more impermissible to proclaim the “third period” without any regard for the real development of economic events.
There is no need to explain that even in case of a renewal of the favourable conjuncture in America and the development of a commercial-industrial rise in Europe, the coming of a new crisis is entirely unavoidable. There is not the least doubt that when a crisis actually arrives, the present leaders will declare that their “prognosis” was fully justified, that the stabilisation of capitalism proved its weakness, and that the class struggle took on a sharper character. It is clear, however, that such a “prognosis” costs very little. One who started to predict daily the eclipse of the sun would finally live to see his prediction fulfilled. But it is doubtful if we would consider such a prophet a serious astronomer. The task of the Communists is not to predict crises, revolutions and wars every single day, but to prepare for wars and revolutions, soberly evaluating the situation, the conditions which arise between wars and revolutions. It is necessary to foresee the inevitability of a crisis after a rise. It is necessary to warn the masses of the coming crisis. But to prepare them for the crisis will be more easily possible the more fully the masses under a correct leadership, utilise the period of rise.
Dorelle demanded that the revolutionary Communist trade unionists – there are no other revolutionary trade unionists at the present time – show the workers in every strike the dependence of isolated examples of exploitation to the contemporary regime as a whole, and consequently the connection between the immediate demands of the workers and the task of the proletarian revolution. This is an ABC demand for Marxists. But this in itself does not determine the character of a strike. A political strike is not a strike in which Communists carry on political agitation, but a strike in which the workers of all trades and enterprises conduct a struggle for definite political aims. Revolutionary agitation on the basis of strikes is a task of Communists under all circumstances; but the participation of workers in political, that is, revolutionary strikes, presents by itself one of the sharpest forms of struggle and occurs only under exceptional circumstances, which neither the party nor the trade unions can manufacture artificially according to their desires. To identify economic strikes with political strikes creates chaos which prevents the trade union leaders from correctly approaching economic strikes, from preparing them and working out an expedient program of workers’ demands.
Matters are worse still in respect to general economic orientation. The philosophy of the “third period” demands an economic crisis immediately at all costs. Our wise trade unionists, therefore, close their eyes to the systematic improvement of the economic conjuncture in France in the past two years although without a concrete estimation of the conjuncture it is impossible to work out correct demands and to struggle for them with success. Claveri and Dorelle would do well if they would think the question through to the end. If the economic rise in France should last for another year (which is not out of the question) then primarily the development and deepening of the economic struggles would soon be on the order of the day. To be able to adapt themselves to such circumstances is a task not only of the trade unions but also of the party. It is insufficient to proclaim the abstract right of Communism to a leading role; it is necessary to conquer this by deeds, not only within the narrow frame of the trade union apparatus but on the whole field of the class struggle. To the anarchist and trade unionist formula of autonomy of the trade unions, the party must counterpose serious theoretical and political aid to the trade unions, making it easier for them to orientate correctly in questions of economic and political developments, and consequently, the elabouration of correct demands and methods of struggle.
The unavoidable shift in the upturn caused by a crisis will change the tasks, putting economic struggles into the background. It has already been said above that the coming of a crisis will serve in all probability as an impetus to the political activity of the masses. The strength of this impetus depends directly on two factors: on the depth and duration of the previous rise and the sharpness of the crisis that has come. The more abrupt and decisive the change, the more explosive will be the action of the masses. The reason for this is not difficult to understand. By the power of inertia, strikes generally acquire the greatest impetus at the moment when the economic rise begins to pass into depression. It is as if in the heat of running, the workers encounter a solid wall. With economic strikes you can then accomplish very little. The capitalists, with the depression under way, easily utilise the lockout. It is natural if the class consciousness of the workers which has risen begins to seek other means of expression. But which? This already depends not only upon conjunctural conditions but on the whole situation in the country.
To declare in advance that the next conjunctural crisis will create an immediate revolutionary situation in France, for that there is at present no basis. Under the juncture of a series of conditions overflowing the boundaries of conjunctural crisis, this is quite possible. On this count only theoretical suppositions are thus far possible. To put forward today the slogan of a general political strike as an actual one, on the basis that the coming crisis may push the masses on the road of revolutionary struggle, means to attempt to appease the hunger of today with the dinner of tomorrow.
The tide of political activity of the masses, before it assumes a more decisive form, may, for a certain and for that matter a lengthy period, express itself in a greater attendance of meetings, in a wider distribution of Communist literature in the growth of electoral votes, increase in the number of Party members, etc. Can the leadership adopt in advance a purely a priori orientation on a stormy tempo of development at all events? No. It must have its hands united for one and for the other tempo. Only under this condition can the party, not deviating from the revolutionary direction, march in step with the class.
The Art of Orientation
The art of revolutionary leadership is primarily the art of correct political orientation. Under all conditions. Communism prepares the political vanguard, and through it the working class as a whole, for the revolutionary seizure of power. But it does it differently in different fields of the labour movement and in different periods.
One of the most important elements in orientation is the determination of the moods of the masses, their activity and readiness for struggle. The mood of the masses however does not fall from the skies. It changes under the influence of certain laws of mass psychology, which are set into motion by objective social conditions. The political condition of the classes is subject, within certain limits, to a quantitative determination (press circulation, attendance at meetings, demonstrations, strikes, elections, etc., etc.). In order to understand the dynamics of the process, it is necessary to determine in what direction and under the influence of what reasons the mood of the working class changes. Combining the subjective data with the objective, it is possible to establish a tentative perspective for the movement that is a scientifically based prediction without which a serious revolutionary struggle is in general inconceivable. But prediction in politics has the character, not of a rigid schema, but of a working hypothesis. While leading the struggle in one or the other direction, it is necessary to attentively follow the changes in the objective and subjective elements of the movement, in order to introduce opportunely corresponding corrections in tactics. Even though the actual development of the struggle never fully correspond with the prognosis, that does not absolve us from making political predictions. One must not however, get intoxicated with finished schemas but continually check-up the course of the historic process and adjust oneself to its indications.
The Communist Parties in the capitalist countries, which still have to struggle for power or to prepare for such a struggle, cannot live without prediction. A correct, everyday orientation is a question of life or death for them. But they do not learn this most important art because they are compelled to leap and skip interminably at the command of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Bureaucratic Centralism which is able to live for a time off the interest on the capital of already captured proletarian power, is entirely incapable of preparing the young Parties for the conquest of power. In this lies the principal and most formidable contradiction of the Comintern today.
Is it not a suspicious circumstance that the revolutionary situation emerges simultaneously in the whole world, in the advanced countries and the colonies, completely ignoring in this period “the law of uneven development”, that is, that single historic law which, at least by name, is known to Stalin? In reality, there can be no talk of such simultaneousness. The analysis of world conditions is replaced by the summing up of isolated conflicts occurring in different countries under different conditions.
Economic Changes and Strikes
The rise of the strike movement in a series of countries was caused, as we already know, by the improvement of this economic conjuncture in the course of the past two years. This refers primarily to France. True, industrial revival which is far from general for the whole of Europe remained until now very retarded even in France and its future is far from certain. But in the life of the proletariat, even a small conjunctural turn in one direction or the other does not take place without leaving its mark. If they continue daily to lay off workers in the factories, then those at work will not have the same spirit which is bred with them by the hiring of new workers, even though in limited numbers. The conjuncture has no less an influence on the ruling classes. In the period of an industrial revival which always breeds hopes for a still greater revival in the future, the capitalists are inclined to a softening of the international contradictions precisely in order to secure the development of a favourable conjuncture. And this is the “spirit of Locarno and Geneva”.
In the not distant past, we had a great illustration of the correlation of conjunctural and fundamental factors.
The years of 1896–1913 were with few interruptions years of a powerful industrial rise. In 1913, this changed to depression, which for all informed, clearly opened the long and drawn out crisis. The threatening break of conjuncture, after the period of an unprecedented boom, created an extremely nervous mood in the ruling classes and served as a direct impetus to the war. Of course, the imperialist war grew out of basic contradictions of capitalism. This generalisation is known even to Molotov. But on the road to war, there were a whole series of stages when the contradictions either sharpened or softened. The same applies also to the class struggle of the workers.
In the pre-war period, the basic and the conjunctural processes developed much more evenly than in the present period of abrupt changes and sharp downturns, when comparatively minor shifts in economy breed tremendous leaps in politics. But from this it does not at all flow that it is possible to close one’s eyes to the actual development and to repeat three incantations: “Contradictions sharpen”, “the working masses are turning to the Left”, “the war is imminent” – every day, every, day, every day … If our strategic line is determined in the last analysis by the inevitability of the growth of contradictions and the revolutionary radicalisation of the masses, then our tactics, which serve this strategy, proceed from the realistic evaluation of each period, each stage, each moment, which may be characterised by a temporary softening of contradictions, a rightward turn of the masses, a change in the correlation of forces in favour of the bourgeoisie, etc. If the masses were to turn leftward uninterruptedly, then any fool could lead them. Fortunately or unfortunately, matters are more complicated, particularly under the present inconstant, fluctuating “capricious” conditions.
The General Strike
It would seem that isolated and episodic strikes occur in different countries for quite different reasons but, in general, arising as they do out of a conjunctural upturn in the world market, are not yet – precisely because they are isolated and episodic – “tremendous revolutionary events”. But Molotov wants to combine the isolated strikes. A praiseworthy task. But in the meantime, only a task, and not an accomplished step. To unite isolated strikes – Molotov teaches – is possible by means of mass political strikes. Yes, having at hand the necessary conditions, the working class may be united by revolutionary mass strikes. The problem of the mass strike is then, according to Molotov, “that new, that basic and most characteristic problem which stands in the centre of the tactical tasks of the Communist Parties at the given moment”. “And this means” – continues our strategist – “that we have approached (this time only “approached”! – L.T.) new and higher forms of class struggle”. And in order definitely to affirm the Tenth Plenum religion of the Third Period, Molotov adds: “We could not have advanced the slogan of a mass political strike, if we had not found ourselves in a period of ascent.” This trend of thought is truly unexampled! At first both strategic feet entered the most tremendous revolutionary events, later on it appeared that before the theoretical head stands only the task of the general strike – not the general strike itself, but only its slogan. And from here alone, by the inverse method, the conclusion is made that we “have approached the highest forms of class struggles”. Because, don’t you see, had we not approached them, then how could Molotov advance the slogan of the general strike? The whole construction is based on the word of honour of the newly made strategist. And the powerful representatives of the parties respectfully listened to the self-confident blockhead and upon roll call reply: “Right you are!”
At any rate, we find out that all countries, from Great Britain to China – with France, Germany and Poland at the head have now attained the slogan of the general strike. We are finally convinced that not a trace is left of the unhappy law of uneven development We might manage to be reconciled to this, if they would only tell us in the name of what political aims the slogan of the general strike is advanced in every country. It should at least not be forgotten that the workers are by no means inclined towards general strikes just for the sake of general strikes. Anarcho-syndicalism broke its head on the failure to understand this. The general strike may sometime have the character of a protest demonstration. Such a strike is realisable, generally speaking, in cases when some clear, sometimes unexpected, event stirs the imagination of the masses and produces the necessity for unanimous resistance. But a strike demonstration is not yet, in the true sense, a revolutionary political strike, it is only one of the preparatory rehearsals for it. As far as the revolutionary political strike is concerned, in the real sense of the word, it constitutes, so to speak, the final act in the struggle of the proletariat for power. Paralysing the normal functions of the capitalist state, the general strike, brings forward the question: Who is master in the house? This question is decided in no other way than by armed force. That is why a revolutionary strike which does not lead to an armed uprising ends finally with the defeat of the proletariat.
“The Conquest of the Street”
Along with the general strike is set the task of “the conquest of the street”. The question here – at any rate in words – is not that of the defence of one of the “democratic” rights, trampled upon by the bourgeoisie and social democracy, but of the determination of the “right” of the proletariat – to barricades. That is precisely how “the conquest of the streets” has been interpreted in the numerous articles of the official Communist press immediately after the July Plenum. It is not for us to deny the right of the proletariat to the “conquest of the streets” by means of barricades. But it is necessary to clearly understand what this means. Above all, it must be understood that the proletariat does not go on the barricades for the sake of the barricades, just as it does not participate in strikes for the sake of strikes. Immediate political ends are required, which weld together millions and give firm support to the vanguard. That is how revolutionaries pose the question. The opportunists gone mad approach the question quite differently.
For the revolutionary “conquest of the street” – like art for art’s sake – special days are set aside. The latest invention of this sort appeared, as is known, on the first of August. Ordinary mortals wondered: why the first of August, the failure of which was pre-determined by the failure of the first of May? What do you mean, why? – the official strategists answered excitedly: “for the conquest of the streets!” Precisely what is to be understood by that: the conquest of the sidewalk or the pavement? Up to now we thought that the task of the revolutionary party is the conquest of the masses, and that the policy which can mobilise the masses in the greatest numbers and actively inevitably opens up the street, no matter how the police guard and block it. The struggle for the street cannot be an independent task, separated from the political struggle of the masses and subordinated to the office schedule of Molotov.
And what is more important, you cannot fool history. The task is not to appear stronger, but to get stronger. A noisy masquerade will not help.
“No Alliance with Reformists”
But there is another important tactical deduction from the “Third Period”, which Molotov expresses in these words: “Now more than at any other time the tactic of coalition between the revolutionary organisations and the organisations of the reformists is inadmissible and harmful.”
Agreements with the reformists are inadmissible now “more than at any other time”. Does it mean that they were inadmissible before too? How then shall we explain the whole policy of the years 1926–1928? And precisely why have agreements with the reformists, inadmissible in general, become particularly inadmissible now? Because, they explain to us, we have entered a period of revolutionary ascent. Yet we cannot but recollect that the conclusion of a bloc with the General Council of the British trade unions was motivated at the time precisely by the fact that England had entered a period of revolutionary ascent, and that the radicalisation of the British working masses pushed the reformists to the Left. By what incident is yesterday’s tactical super-wisdom of Stalinism stood on its head?? We would look in vain for a solution to the riddle. It is quite simple: the empiricists of Centrism burned their hands on the experiment of the Anglo-Russian Committee and with a strong oath they want to guard against scandals in the future. But an oath will not help, for our strategists have not yet understood the lessons of the Anglo-Russian Committee.
The mistake was not in making the episodic agreement with the General Council, which was actually going “Left” in that period under the pressure of the masses. The first mistake was in the fact that the bloc was concluded not on concrete practical tasks clear to the working class but on general pacifist phrases and false diplomatic formulas. The chief mistake, however, which grew into a gigantic historical crime, lay in the fact that our strategists could not immediately and openly break with the General Council when it turned its weapons against the general strike, that is, when it turned from an unreliable semi-ally into an open enemy.
The influence of the radicalisation of the masses on the reformists is quite similar to the influence that the development of a bourgeois revolution has on the liberals. In the first stages of the movement of the masses the reformists move leftward, hoping in this way to retain the leadership in their hands. But when the movement overflows the limits of reform and demands from the leaders an outright break with the bourgeoisie, the majority of the reformists sharply change their tone. From cowardly fellow-travellers of the masses, they turn into strike-breakers, enemies, open betrayers. At the same time, however, part of them, consisting not entirely of their better elements, jump over into the camp of the revolution. An episodic agreement with the reformists, at the moment when under the influence of conditions, they happen to be compelled to make a step or a half-step forward, may be unavoidable. But it must be understood beforehand that the Communists are ready to break mercilessly with the reformists the moment they take a jump backward. The reformists are betrayers not because they carry out, at every given moment and in every one of their acts, the direct instructions of the bourgeoisie. If that is how the matter stood, the reformists would have no influence on the workers, and consequently would not be needed by the bourgeoisie. Precisely in order to have the necessary authority for the betrayal of the workers at the decisive moment, the opportunists are compelled at the preparatory period to assume the leadership of the workers’ struggle, particularly at the beginning of the process of the radicalisation of the masses. From here follows the necessity of the united front tactic, in connection with which we are compelled for the sake of a broader unification of the masses to enter into practical agreements with their reformist leaders.
The United Front
Only a hopeless ignoramus can imagine that due to the miraculous power of the “Third Period”, the working class as a whole will turn away from the social democracy driving the whole reformist bureaucracy into the camp of Fascism. No, the process will develop by more complicated and contradictory roads. A growing dissatisfaction with the Social Democratic government in Germany, with the Labourites in England, the transformation of partial and isolated strikes into mass movements, etc. (when all these developments actually do take place) will have as their unavoidable consequence – all the Molotovs had better mark it well! – a leftward turn of very wide circles of the reformist camp, just as the inner process in the U.S.S.R. necessitated the leftward swing of the Centrist camp – to which Molotov himself belongs.
The social democrats and those of the Amsterdam International with the exception of the more conscious Right wing elements (types like Thomas, Herman Mueller, Renaudel, etc.) will be compelled, under corresponding conditions, to assume the leadership of the advance of the masses – in order to confine these advances within narrow limits, or in order to attack the workers from the rear when they overstep these limits. Although we know that in advance, and openly warn the vanguard about it, nevertheless, in the future there will still be tens, hundreds and thousands of cases when the Communists will not only be unable to refuse practical agreements with the reformists, but will have to take the initiative in such agreements in order, without letting the leadership out of their hands, to break with the reformists the moment they turn away from shaky allies into open betrayers. This policy will be unavoidable primarily in regard to the Left Social Democracy, which during an actual radicalisation of the masses, will be compelled to oppose the Right wing more decisively, even to the point of a split. This perspective in no way contradicts the fact that the head of the Left Social Democracy most often consists of the most degraded and dangerous allies of the bourgeoisie.
How is it possible to refuse practical agreements with the reformists in those cases where, for instance, they are leading strikes? If there are very few of such cases now, it is because the strike movement itself is very weak as yet and the reformists can ignore and sabotage it. But with the drawing into the struggle of great masses, agreements will become unavoidable for both sides. It is just as impossible to block the way for practical agreements with the reformists – not only with the Social Democratic mass, but in many instances also with their leaders or what is more likely with part of the leaders – in the struggle against Fascism.
Let the present leaders of the French Communist Party and in addition all the other Parties in the International recall their own recent past. All of them, with the exception of the youth, came from the ranks of the reformists under the influence of the leftward swing of the workers. That did not prevent us Bolsheviks from entering into agreements with the leftward moving reformists, putting very precise conditions to them. One of these innumerable agreements was, for instance, Zimmerwald. It is true, the capacity of opportunists for moving leftward is not unlimited. When the Rubicon – the decision, the uprising – is reached, the majority of them jumps back to the right. The desertion of such rotten elements is a gain for the party. But the sad part of the situation is that the simultaneously false, irresponsible, adventurist, smug, and cowardly policy of the official leadership creates a very favourable cover for the deserters and pushes toward them proletarian elements whose place belongs in the ranks of communism. In order to further entangle matters, the imminent revolutionary situation is combined with an immediate war danger.
There is no doubt that, in case of war or even an actual and clear approach of one, the reformists will be completely with the bourgeoisie. An agreement with them for a struggle against war is just as impossible as a bloc to carry out the proletarian revolution. Precisely for this reason, Stalin’s justification of the Anglo-Russian Committee as an instrument of struggle against imperialism was a criminal deception of the workers.
But history knows not only wars and revolutions but also periods between wars and revolutions, that is, periods when the bourgeoisies makes preparations for war, and the proletariat for revolution. This is the period we are living in today. We must win the masses away from the reformists, who, far from declining, have grown in recent years. By this growth, however, they have become dependent on their proletarian base. It is upon this dependence that the tactic of the united front is directed toward.
There is no doubt, however, that right-wing elements will actually attempt to make use of some of our points of criticism. This is absolutely unavoidable. Not all of the arguments of the right-wingers are wrong. Quite often they have a basis for their criticism in the goat-leaps of left opportunism.
A straight line is determined by two points. For the determination of a curve it is necessary to have not less than three. The lines of politics are very complicated and curved. In order to evaluate correctly the different groupings, it is necessary to take their activities must be examined during different stages: at the moments of revolutionary upsurge and at the moment of ebb. Marxists view the problem as a whole, carrying out their basic strategy consistently despite changes in circumstances. This method does not give instantaneous results but it is the only reliable method. Let the spoilers despoil. We will prepare tomorrow.
 L’Humanite was the newspaper of the French Communist Party.
 Tenth Plenum of the ECCI. Tenth full meeting of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
 Monmousseau and Chambelland were both members of the French CGTU, the left trade union confederation, which was dominated by the Stalinists. They disagreed over policy, Chambelland was a syndicalist while Monmousseau supported the Stalinists.
 The 1926 British General Strike was described, correctly, by the ruling class as a political struggle for power. As the Trade Union Congress refused to wage a political struggle, the strike was defeated.
 Vassart was a leader of the French Communist Party and CGTU.
 Pangloss was a character from Voltaire’s Candide who had an unfounded optimism, saying, “All was for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”
 The Comintern declared 1 August an international ‘Red Day’ of demonstrations. In words, this day appeared to be the start of the revolution while in deeds it was a fiasco.
 Dorelle was a member of the French CGTU.
 Bureaucratic Centralism was Trotsky’s initial description of the developing bureaucracy in Russia which, at that stage, had not fully consolidated its grip on power.
 The “spirit of Locarno and Geneva” describes moves in the mid-1920s to reduce rivalries between capitalist countries through diplomatic efforts and organisations such as the League of Nations.
 Molotov was a leading member of the Russian Communist Party and the Comintern. He was a strong supporter of Stalin’s policies.
 The failure of 1 May 1929 was a demonstration called in Berlin by the Communist Party against government orders. It was poorly prepared and 25 workers were killed.
 The Anglo-Russian Committee was a joint committee of British and Russian trade union leaders. The British Trades Union Congress used this committee as a left cover after they betrayed the general strike of 1926.
 The Amsterdam International was an international federation of reformist trade unions.
 Zimmerwald, Switzerland, was where a conference of socialists against World War I was held.