First Published: 1911 in
Rabotnicheski Vestnik No. 60, October 3rd.
Source: Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works Sofia Press, Sofia, Volume 1, 1972, pp. 31-35
Transcription/HTML Markup: Mathias Bismo
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2003
The International Trade Union Conference in Budapest will remain memorable for the workers in Bulgaria, because, as is known, it finally cleared the deck for a genuine repreof the Bulgarian proletariat in the Trade Unions International, and for its complete merger with the life and struggles of the workers in other countries.
For seven whole years it was not the fighting Bulgarian proletariat that was represented in the International, but the centre management of semi-existent rival trade unions which, owing to their anti-worker activity, were always outside the pale of the international workers' movement. During this long period the right-wing socialist politiand careerists most unscrupulously misused the prestige and funds of the Trade Unions International in interand for aims that were utterly alien to the proletariat and which exposed the International. For a few strikes, which happened to be headed by them, they wrested from the international proletariat some 33,000 leva, half of which sum vanished without a trace in the pockets of various political loafers.
Moreover, these right-wing socialist politicians and careerists exploited these strikes, for which international aid was sent, to further their petty politics and gross career which was particularly true of the general railwaystrike in 19061) and of the strike of the Eastern railin 1908.2)
The former strike, as is known, was turned into a lever in the hands of the then 'patriotic' bloc,3) to overthrow the Stambolovist Government. The Democratic Party, which took over the government, made wide use of this, of course; many right-wing socialist careerists also won, as they man to get well-paid jobs, and 'special missions' under the beneficial wing of 'democracy'; the bureaucratic elements in the railways got big raises, while the mass of the railwaymen, who shouldered the vast burdens and adversities of the prolonged strike, was basely tricked.
The heroic strike of the Eastern railwaymen was sold out by these right-wing socialist politicians to the demogovernment, thanks to which the latter had no trouble in seizing the Eastern railway lines and in preparing the formal grounds necessary for proclaiming 'independence'.4) At the very moment when the entire bourgeoisie, headed by its monarch, now adorned with a royal title, exulted at what had been accomplished, when the corrupt were writing boring articles and making grandiloquent speeches, to prove that the seizure of the Eastern Railways by the government was the realization of a 'socialist principle' - 400 Eastern railwaymen, together with their families, were fired and thrown into the throes of starvation and misery!
In the face of these and a whole series of other irrefutestablished shameful facts, made public by our delegation at the Budapest Conference of the International, there was nothing more natural and imperative for the latter than to throw the right-wing socialist trade union centre out of the Trade Unions International. Nor could the Conference have acted otherwise. It was bound to do this. The honour of the International had to be saved, an end had to be put to the vulgar misuse of its prestige and funds by a political clique under the guise of some kind of a 'trade union centre' ; the doors of the International had to be flung open to the genuine trade union centre of the Bulgarian proletariat, to thrust its liberating movement forward and to deal a mortal blow to the separatist endeavours to form and suprival trade unions, which could solely serve the interof the Bulgarian bourgeoisie.
And the Budapest International Conference, to the honof the International and the good fortune of the Bulgarian workers, did this - it should be stressed - unanimously and without any hesitation.
This is the true and profound meaning of the resolution on the 'Bulgarian question' voted in Budapest. Although this resolution is imbued with great tact and international courtesy, and although it has a most seemly form, its core nevertheless remains the indisputable fact that the rightsocialist trade union centre was kicked out of the International as unworthy of being in its midst, and that the deck was cleared for the final entry of our trade union, which undoubtedly all delegates to the Conference, familiar with matters in Bulgaria, considered as the sole representative of the Bulgarian proletariat.
The exertions of the politicians around the Workers' Struggle and the supermen of Napred to give another interpretation to the said Budapest resolution, clinging only to its flexible form, and to fragmentary foreign press comon it, will remain fruitless. Their reasoning today that the right-wing socialist centre was not thrown out of the International but merely temporarily suspended, so as to facilitate the merger of the two trade union centres in Bulgaria, can serve as a consolation to the few incorrinaive persons of the rival trade unions. However, they will not mislead a single serious worker, because actually the matter is perfectly clear.
It does not require much intelligence to grasp that if the Conference looked at the situation in Bulgaria the way our politicians and supermen do, if it desired a 'merger' such as they keep whining about, there would be no need whatever to have the right-wing socialist trade union cen'suspended' from the International. On the contrary, such a 'merger' would have stood much better chances if the right-wing socialist centre had remained in the International and the Conference had told us: you want to enter the General Trade Unions International - very well! We do not object. Merge with the trade union centre from Bulgaria, which joined us seven years ago, and by virtue of this fact you, too, will be in the International. If you do not wish to do this, then you will remain outside the infamily of the proletariat.
We know that this is precisely what the Conference did in the case of America. The new American trade union centre was frankly and categorically told that, if it wanted to he in the International, it should join the old American centre5) (known as Gompers' American Federation of Labour), which has belonged to the International Trade Union Secresince the Paris Conference (1909).6) Why did not the Budapest Conference 'temporarily suspend' the old Americentre, too, so as thereby to facilitate and accelerate the 'merger' of the two federations in America?
Can one believe that the tried and experienced trade union and social-democratic militants, who were in session in Budapest, did not know what they were doing? Though they are thousands of times more modest than the braggarts around the Workers' Struggle and Napred, they had enough sense and brains to realize that there was absolutely no contradiction and no inconsistency in their two different decisions concerning the dispute on Bulgaria and that on America.
That is why when Jouhaux7), the Secretary of the French Confederation of Labour,8) who had certain sympathies for the new American centre, stated his regret, after the reson the 'Bulgarian question' had been voted that the Conference had not taken the same decision on the American case, he was quietly told that the two cases differed greatly, and hence two quite different decisions had been taken.
And indeed, whereas in the old American Federation of Labour the Conference saw a real centre of the American proletariat, which had to be in the International, on the con it had good grounds to look upon the right-wing socialist trade union centre as a fictitious trade union centre, which only shamed the International, misusing its prestige, despoiling its funds and obstructing the real merger of the Bulgarian proletariat by its international relations.
To facilitate the unity of the trade union movement in America, the Budapest International Conference rejected the new American centre and left the old federation in the International. To achieve the same unity in Bulgaria, it threw the right-wing socialist trade union centre out of the International and opened its doors to our trade union.
So today we are gratified to note that the Budapest resolution on the 'Bulgarian question' has already given beneficent result for the unity of the proletariat in our country and for the complete disintegration of the rival trade unions rejected by the International.
But more about this in the following issue.
1) On December 20, 1906, the railwaymen spontaneously went on strike, the biggest until then in the annals of Bulgaria. It was preceded by a petition to the National Assembly, signed by more than 3,000 workers and employees, but Prime Minister Dimiter Petkov refused to receive the delegation. Instead, the Government hastened to pass two laws, the one forbidding state workers to strike, and the other depriving them of their pension in case they take part in strikes, as well as of the right to organize in trade unions and to publish their own newspapers. The bourgeois opposition tried to take advantage of the 42-day strike to overthrow the Petkov Government. Railwaymen's Trade Union under the guidance of the Party joined the strike but did not head it, confining itself to publishing a leaflet in which it exposed the demagogical policy of the bourgeois opposition parties.
2) The plight of the railwaymen on the Eastern Company's Belovo-Plovdiv-Svilengrad-Istanbul line, most of whom were foreigners, set off a general strike both in Turkey and, almost simultaneously in Bulgaria (September 5, 1908). The strikers demanded higher wages, shorter working hours and regulated relations with the management of the company.
3) Early in 1907, the bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties in opposition: the Populists, Tsankovists, Democrats, Radicals and Right-Wing Socialists formed the 'Patriotic Bloc', a coalition against the National-Liberal Party (Stambolov's followers). Masking its factional aspirations, it pretended to fight against the 'personal regime', but at the end of May 1907, when the position of the National Liberals became shakey and Ferdinand showed an inclination to call to power a party of the Bloc, it disintegrated.
4) Taking advantage of the crisis in Turkey, following the Young Turk coup d'etat, the Government of the Democrats proclaimed Bulgaria an independent kingdom on September 22, 1908, and awarded Prince Ferdinand the title of 'King of the Bulgarians'. In 1911 the Fifth Grand National Assembly was called to amend the Constitution; it voted an amendment to Art. 17, granting the king the right to conclude secret political agreements without consulting the national assembly.
5) The American Federation of Labour (AFL), founded in 1881, comprising mainly the workers' aristocracy under a mercenary clique of reactionary leaders, such as Gompers up to 1925 (whom Lenin compared to Zubatov), Green and Carey, adopted a hostile attitude to the Russian Revolution. Refusing to join the World Trade Union Federation, it is actively working to split the world trade union movement.
6) At the International Trade Union Conference in Paris (August 17-18, 1909) the delegate of the Bulgarian trade union participated with a deliberative vote, as the union had not yet established official relations with the International Secretariat. In connexion with the central question discussed at the conference, the Arbitrary Measures of the Prussian Government against Foreign Workers, it was decided that a joint campaign be launched by the International Trade Union Secretariat and the International Socialist Bureau. The American and British delegates proposed that measures be taken against the passing of blacklegs from one country into another. The attention of the Secretariat was drawn to the fact that it had to contact the Russian trade unions, which at that time were subjected to hard reprisals by the tsarist Government. A cable was received at the conference from the workers on strike at the Kostenets Match Factory, asking the international Secretariat to do all that was within its power to boycott the sale of Bulgarian matches to other states.
7) Jouhaux, Léon (born in 1878), leader of the French reformist trade union movement, one of the foremost leaders of the Amsterdam Trade Unions International. Prior to the First World War he was an anarchist anti-militarist, but then became an outspoken advocate of 'civil peace'. Lenin called him one of the most disgusting social conciliators. Jouhaux tried to split the French Confederation of Labour but failed: he organized the 'Force ouvrière', a reformist trade union organization.
8) The Confederation Generale de Travail (CGT) was from 1895 to 1921 the leading trade union centre in France. During and after the First World War it advocated conciliation with capitalism, which at the end of 1921 led to a split and to the expulsion of the revolutionary' elements who later established the Confederation General de Tray-ail (unitaire), while the former CGT became the main prop of the Amsteram International. At first the anarchist trade unionists tried to capture the CGTU, but in 1924 they left it, realizing that most of the trade union members stood for revolutionary tactics and for the principles of the Trade Unions International (Profintern). Today the CGT is a member of the World Trade Union Federation and takes an active part in the fight for peace. Its daily paper is 'La vie ouvrière'.