Guido Baracchi January 1921
Source: "Reason in Revolt", Source documents of Australian Radicalism;
First Published: in The Proletarian Review, Editorial “Proletarian Comment” by the Editor (Guido Baracchi), January 1921;
Transcribed: by Chris Clayton.
TWO recent European events provide illustrations on a large scale of what Communists can do by persistent work within labor organisations which are dominated by reactionary leaders. In 1919 a call was sent out from Moscow for the formation of the Third International. This call included proposals for the winning f the rank and file of the “centre” parties of Socialism away from the counter-revolutionary influence of their leaders and to the acceptance of Communism. Within eighteen months the end sought by these proposals has been practically accomplished in the case of the great Independent Socialist Party of Germany. Journeying to the recent congress of this party at Halle, Zinoviev, thanks to devoted Communist work which preceded his visit, had little difficulty in persuading the majority of the delegates to renounce their allegiance to such traitors as Crispien, Hilferding and Kautsky in favor of adhesion to the Communist International. Still more striking is the signal victory gained by the Third International at the congress of the powerful but hitherto reformist French Socialist Party at Tours, where the “centrist” leader, Louguet, was confronted by the renowned German Communist, Clara Zetkin. Achievements like this obtrude sharply upon Australian Communists the following question: If such a result is possible in the case of a thoroughly non-revolutionary organisation like the French Socialist Party, what practical line of action shall Communists pursue in relation to the Australian Labor Party? It is high time to grapple seriously with this problem.
JOB control is being prominently featured by the capitalist press in connection with the present industrial hold-up. G. Moate, of the Stewards’ Union, also says that every ship is going to have its board of control henceforth. What is the attitude of Communists on this question? On the one hand, they are fully alive to the fact that, in the way of positive results, job-control will not yield much to teh workers this side of the proletarian revolution. On the other hand, Communists must take the lead in the economic as well as in the political struggle of the workers, both in order to win the confidence of the mass of these, and because, with the ripening of revolutionary conditions, the economic struggle itself becomes political; further, because, after the revolution, the political struggle becomes in its turn economic, a struggle no longer between bourgeois and proletariat, but now solely between man and nature. Job committees or control boards make for the more efficient conduct of the everyday struggle, serve “as a school for the preparation of the vanguard of the working class for the administration of the industries after the Dictatorship of the Proletariat has been established,” and, in the hour of revolution, help to develop the Soviets. Communists, therefore, must lend their assistance to the organisation of these committees and energetically participate in their activities.
IN some other countries the Communist movement is split into sections because these have failed to agree on some minor aspects of their programme; it has remained for the movement in Australia to introduce an ingenious variation of this procedure by first reaching complete agreement in the matter of its programme and then splitting. The A.S.P. brought the different Communist elements together; having done so, the A.S.P. has now left them. Its defection from the Communist Party is most decidedly a loss; a loss, however, which only necessitates that the Communist Party proceed to its work with redoubled vigour. We have no intention of entering any discussion of the merits or otherwise of the A.S.P.’s action; on that score quite sufficient has already been written. We simply accept the fact that at a moment when the present epidemic of strikes, the trade depression, and the growing amount of unemployment, make it increasingly plain to the workers that the property relations which the forces of production operate have turned from forms of development these forces into their fetters when a united Communist Party is urgently required to drive home the lesson that these fetters must be snapped by the proletariat — at this precise moment a section of the Communist Party of Australia has split off from the body which called itself into being. But, accepting this fact, we say also that we shall lose no opportunity to work for the reunion of this section with the rest of the Communists.
THIS magazine has been operating over a wide area of Australia for a period of eight months, during which time it has consistently expounded the theory of revolutionary Marxism or Communism. Scattered about the land, and as yet unattached to any revolutionary organisation, are an appreciable number of its readers; these must by now have gained at least a rudimentary knowledge of Marxism, and, with the new year, we venture ot approach them with a suggestion. We suggest that readers of “The Proletarian” should get in touch with other reader of “The Proletarian” resident in the same locality. If they cannot do this in any other way, they can do so through the man from whom they buy the magazine. Those in any locality having come together, they will then be in a position to discuss the concerns of their class from a Marxist standpoint, and with an eye to their own practical activity in a revolutionary direction. The obvious thing for them to do is to form a Communist group and link up with the Communist Party of Australia. In our initial number, we stressed the fact that clear understanding is the indispensable preliminary to correct action on the part of the working class. We now wish to add that “philosophers have only interpreted the world differently, but the point is to change it.” Readers of “The Proletarian” should, therefore, get together with a view to the formation of Communist Party groups.