The Dutch Left from 1914 to early 1920's: 1918: Between revolution and opportunism, III

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The year 1915 was a decisive year for the Dutch revolutionary movement. The SDP minority, made up of different fractions, became a structural opposition against the Wijnkoop-Van Ravesteyn leadership. This opposition developed numerically in proportion to the growth of the SDP, which proclaimed itself as the Communist Party in November, when the revolution was knocking at Holland's door.

a. The offensive of the minority in the SDP: between fraction and opposition

In the Spring of 1918, the SDP went through an unprecedented crisis. The minority directly threatened with being squashed by the authoritarian leadership around Wijnkoop. The latter - and this was a hitherto unknown in the SDP's history - suspended the Hague section, one of the most militant in its opposition to Wijnkoop. This suspension came after several individual expulsions of opposition militants. These measures, in contradiction to workers' democracy, showed that the leadership were worthy successors to Troelstra.

The opposition ssoon regrouped at a joint meeting held on 26 May 1918. It was composed of groups which up till now had reacted in a dispersed manner to opportunism in the SDP:

-- the Propaganda Union of the Zimmerwald Left in Amsterdam, led by Van Reesema, which wanted the party to be aligned with the Bolshevik Left;

-- Luteraan's group in Amsterdam, working closely with Gorter;

-- the Rotterdam group;

-- the Hague section.

The opposition represented one third of the militants of the party. After June it had a bi-monthly journal, De Internationale. An editorial commission was set up. The press commission, was which met every three months and was made up of representatives of four groups[1] formed a de facto executive organ. This opposition, with its journal and its commission, was very close to forming a fraction within the SDP. However, it lacked a clearly established platform because it was not sufficiently homogenous. It also suffered cruelly from the absence of Gorter, who was in Switzerland and only contributed to the debate through articles, the appearance of which
was subjected to the bad faith of the editorial board of De Tribune, which was entirely controlled by Wijnkoop and Van Ravesteyn[2].

The cause of this regroupement of the opposi­tion was the growing hostility to the policies of the party, which was more and more turned towards elections. The elections which had been held on 1 July had been a real success for the SDP: Wijnkoop and Van Ravesteyn became deputies. This had been made possible through an alliance with the small Socialist Party, which had come out of the SDAP in 1917. The latter, led by Kolthek, top man in the NAS[3], was openly pro-Entente. Along with the Social Christians (BvSC) another component of this electoral ‘united front', it won a seat in the Assembly.

The opposition, which denounced this alliance, as a ‘monstrous union' with pro-Entente syndica­lists, underlined that this electoral success was a demagogic one. The votes gleaned from among the syndicalist militants of the NAS had been done so through a campaign which appeared to support the USA. At a time when the USA was holding the Dutch commercial fleet in its ports in order to use them in the war against Germany, in exchange for food shipments to Holland, Wijnkoop stated that any means was justified to get these shipments from the US. Such policies were vigorously denounced by Gorter and the Bussum section, but much later, in November. Like Gorter, the opposition more and more saw Wijnkoop as a new Troelstra, as a man whose love for the Russian revolution was purely platonic[4] and whose politics were essentially parlia­mentarian.

The approach of the war's end, with the revolutionary events that accompanied it, put the opposition's fight against Wijnkoop's pro-Entente policies into second place. More and it began to emphasize the danger of parliamentary politics[5]. It also forcefully combated the revolutionary syndicalism of the NAS, which had begun to work with the reformist union, the NVV, which was dominated by Troelstra's party. Here in embryo were the anti-parliamen­tary and anti-trade union policies of the future Dutch communist left. These policies meant a break with the old ‘Tribunism'.

b. The abortive revolution of November 1918.

It was a party that was growing numerically, but threatened with falling apart, that went into the ordeal of the revolutionary events in November.

The events in Germany, where the government fell at the end of October, created a real revo­lutionary atmosphere in Holland. Authentic mutinies broke out in the military camps on 25 and 26 October 1918. They had come in the wake of a permanent workers' agitation against hun­ger, in September and October in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

It was symptomatic to see Troelstra's official social democracy radicalizing itself. To the great astonishment of the other leaders of the SDAP, the party boss started making inflammatory speeches about revolution, about the seizure of power by the working class. To the stupefaction of the Dutch bourgeoisie, he proclaimed himself their implacable adversary:

"Don't you feel little by little as events unfold that you are sitting on a volcano ... The epoch of the bourgeois governmental system is over. Now the working class, the new rising force, must ask you to give up your place and allow it to take it for itself. We are not your friends, we are your adversaries, we are, as it were (sic) your most determined enemies."

Troelstra, a last minute revolutionary? In fact he was speaking a double language. In the secrecy of a meeting with organs of the SDAP, held on 2 November - that is, three days before this fiery declaration at the chamber of deput­ies - Troelstra said quite crudely that his tac­tic was to head off the action of the revolu­tionaries, who had been encouraged by the revolution in Germany.

"In these circumstances contrasts within the working class are accentuating, and a growing part of it will place itself under the leader­ship of irresponsible elements."

Judging the revolution to be inevitable and in order to neutralize a possible Dutch ‘Sparta­kism', Troelstra proposed adopting the same tac­tic as German social democracy in the workers' councils: taking over the leadership of them in order to destroy them:

"We aren't calling for the revolution now, but the revolution is calling for us ... What has happened in countries which have been through a revolution makes one say: we must take over its leadership as soon as it arrives."

The tactic adopted was to call on 10 November for the formation of workers' and soldiers' coun­cils, if the German example was to be repeated in Holland. "Wijnkoop must not be the first", said Ondegeest, one of the leaders of the SDAP.

But in fact the SDP was to call for the for­mation of soldiers' councils and a strike, on 10 November. It declared in favor of the arm­ing of the workers and the formation of a peoples' government on the basis of the councils. It also demanded the ‘immediate demobilization' of the conscripts, an ambiguous slogan because its consequence was the disarming of the soldiers.

It's this slogan that the SDAP took up, with this very intention. To this it added the prog­ram of German social democracy, in order to defuse more revolutionary demands: ‘socialization' of industry, full unemployment insurance and an 8-hour day.

But events showed that the situation in Holland was still far from revolutionary. On 13 November there was indeed the beginning of fraternization between workers and soldiers in Amsterdam; but the next day, the demonstration came up against the hussars, who fired on the crowd, leaving several dead. The SDP's call for a strike the next day in protest against the repression had little echo among the workers of Amsterdam. The revolution had been crushed be­fore it could really get going. The call for the formation of councils had only a limited success; only a few groups of soldiers, in places isolated from the capital - at Alkmaar and in Frisia - formed themselves into councils. This was of short duration. 

While the movement was not ripe for revolution, it must be said that the activities of the SDAP were decisive in stopping any strike movement in November. More than twenty years later, Vliegen, speaking as leader of the SDAP, stated without equivocation:

"The revolutionaries weren't wrong in accusing the SDAP of strangling the strike movement in 1918, because social democracy did consciously hold it in check."

But apart from the SDAP's strategy for prev­enting the revolution, the policies carried out by the syndicalists of the NAS and the RSC - to which the SDP adhered - also tended to provoke disarray in the workers' ranks. During the Nov­ember events, the NAS approached the SDAP and the NVV with the aim of establishing a joint action program. This tactic of the ‘united front' before the term was coined, strongly criticized in the assemblies of the RSC, gave the impression that the RSC, to which the NAS also belonged, and the SDAP were situated on the same terrain. The latter's policy of sabotaging the strike movement wasn't exposed. At the same time, the SDP leadership made no real critique of revolutionary syndicalism; at its Leiden Congress, on 16 and 17 September, it considered that the NAS had "acted correctly" during the revolutionary week of 11-16 September.

c. The foundation of the Communist Party of Holland (CPN).

The transformation of the SDP into a Communist Party made it the second party in the world, after the Russian party, to have abandoned the ‘social democrat' label. It was even formed bef­ore the German Communist Party.

A small party, the CPN was in full growth: at its founding congress it had 1,000 members, and this figure doubled in the space of a year. This transformation didn't put an end to the authoritarian, maneuvering politics of Wijnkoop. Three weeks before the Congress, he and Gorter announced in De Tribune that they had proclaimed themselves respectively president and secretary of the party. By anticipating the results of the congress, these two gave a curious example of democracy[6].

However, the new party remained the only revolutionary pole in Holland. This fact explai­ned that the results of the founding congress were the disintegration of the opposition. De Internationale, the organ of the opposition, ceased to appear in January 1919. The resigna­tion of 26 members of the Hague section in December 1918, refusing to become members of the CPN, appeared as an irresponsible action. Their formation of a group of ‘International Commun­ists', with the aim of linking up with the Spart­acists and Bolsheviks on the basis of anti­parliamentarism and solidarity with the Russian revolution, came to nothing[7]. Most of its members soon rejoined the party. The Zimmerwald left group, within the party, soon dissolved it­self. All that was left was the ‘Gorterian' opposition in Amsterdam around Barend Luteraan. It was this group which maintained continuity with the old opposition by bringing out its own organ in the summer of 1919: De Roode Vaan (Red Flag).

Contrary to the legend which made him a foun­der of the Communist Party, Gorter was absent from the congress. He had increasingly detached himself from the Dutch movement in order to devote himself entirely to the international commu­nist movement. At the end of December he was in Berlin, where he held a discussion with Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. From there he returned to Holland. Despite Luteraan's press­ing request, he refused to put himself at the head of the opposition in the CPN. Leading an opposition was to him "an idea as good as it was impossible" owing to his poor state of health.

This didn't mean he was rejecting any politi­cal activity. A few months later he retired from all activity within the CPN in order to devote himself entirely to the communist move­ment in Germany. He became in fact a militant and the theoretician of the opposition that was to form the KAPD in April 1920. His activity was devoted totally to the Communist Interna­tional, as part of the opposition.

Pannekoek, unlike Gorter, didn't become a member of the KAPD; he remained in the opposition within the CPN until resigning in 1921. His con­tributions were more theoretical than organizational. His main aim was to carry out his theor­etical activities within the world communist movement, but principally in Germany.

Thus, the theoretical leaders of ‘Tribunism' were to detach themselves from the CPN. They constituted the Dutch school of marxism, whose future was henceforth tied theoretically and organically to the KAPD in Germany. From then on, the Communist left in Holland was linked, until the beginning of the thirties, to the German communist left. The latter, strongly dependent on the Dutch school of marxism, cons­tituted the centre of international left communism, both on the organizational level and on the practical terrain of the revolution. As for the CPN, outside of the opposition which ended up leaving it, its history became that of a more and more ‘orthodox' section of the Communist International.


The Third International (1919 - 1920), I

In January 1919 an invitation to the congress of the ‘new revolutionary International' was sent to the different communist parties, which had only just been formed, and to the revolutionary fractions or oppositions within the old parties. Initially it wasn't going to be a congress but simply an ‘international socialist conference' to prepare the foundation of the IIIrd International; it was to be held before the first of February, in clandestinity, either in Berlin or Holland. The crushing of the January uprising in Berlin changed the original plan: the conference was to be held in Moscow, from 2-6 March 1919.

The Dutch Communist Party received the invitation. It had already decided at the congress of November 1918 to send a delegate when the congress of the IIIrd International was convened. However, the attitude of the exactly the same as it had shown towards the three Zimmerwald conferences. Although he had received all the necessary means to make the trip to Moscow, Wijnkoop didn't ‘manage' to get there. In fact he had refused to go. To explain this refusal, still camouflaged behind a sectarian phrase, he published the articles of the bourgeois journalist Ransom who claimed that the Congress of the IIIrd International had been "nothing but a Slavic operation".

In the end, the CPN was represented indirectly, and only with a consultative voice, at the first congress of the new International. Its representative, Rutgers, had not come directly from Holland: he'd left the country for the USA in 1914, where he became a member of the American League for Socialist Propaganda[8]. Arriving in Moscow via Japan, he really only represented this American group, without a mandate. It was through him that the Dutch Left was known in the USA. One of the leaders of American left communism, Fraina, was his friend and was very influenced by Gorter and Pannekoek[9].

In April 1919 the CPN did join the IIIrd International. Rutgers was associated to the work of the Executive Committee.

The Left currents in the International in 1919

The left in the IIIrd International developed during the course of 1919 under the influence of the German revolution. The latter, represented, for all the left currents, the future of the proletarian movement in industrialized Western Europe. Despite the defeat of January 1919 in Berlin, where the proletariat had been crushed by Noske and Scheideman's social democracy, the world revolution had never seemed so close. The republic of councils had been installed in Hungary and Bavaria. The situation remained revolutionary in Austria. Huge mass strikes were shaking Britain and were beginning in Italy. The American continent[10] itself had been hit by the revolutionary wave, from Seattle to Buenos Aires. The proletariat in the most industrialized countries was on the march. The question of the tactic to adopt in the central countries of capitalism, where the revolution would be more purely proletarian than in Russia, had to be examined in the light of the seizure of power - which revolutionaries thought would happen in the very near future.

The revolutionary wave that is the actual experience of the workers confronting the state, brought about a change of tactic as capitalism's era of peaceful growth came to an end. All the revolutionary currents accepted the validity of the theses of the first congress of the IIIrd International:

"1. The present period is one of the decomposi­tion and collapse of the whole world capitalist system, and will be that of the collapse of European civilization in general if capitalism, with its insurmountable contradictions, is not overthrown.

2. The task of the proletariat now consists of seizing state power. The seizure of state power means the destruction of the state apparatus of the bourgeoisie and the organization of a new apparatus of proletarian power."[11]

In the new period, it was the praxis of the workers themselves which was putting into ques­tion the old parliamentary and union tactics. The Russian proletariat had dissolved parliament after taking power, and in Germany a significant number of workers had pronounced in December 1918 in favor of boycotting the elections. In Russia as in Germany, the council form had appeared as the only form of revolutionary struggle, in place of the union structure. But the class struggle in Germany had revealed the antagonism between the proletariat and the trade unions. When the unions participated in the bloody repression of January 1919 and when there appeared organs of political struggle - the Unions (AAU) - the slogan was not the reconquest of the old unions but their destruction [12].

By accepting the program of the German Communist Party as well as that of the Bolshevik as a fundamental basis of the CI, the International was de facto accepting the anti-parliamentary and anti-union left currents. Had the Spartakusbond congress not rejected partici­pation in elections? Even if Rosa didn't agree with the majority on this point, she defended an anti-union line:

" ... the unions are no longer workers' organizations, but the most solid protectors of the bour­geois state and bourgeois society. Consequently it goes without saying that the struggle for socialization can't be taken forward without the struggle for the liquidation of the unions. We are all agreed on this."[13]

At the beginning, the Communist International accepted into its ranks revolutionary syndicalist elements like the IWW, who rejected both parlia­mentarism and activity in the old unions. But these elements rejected political activity in principle, and thus the necessity for a political party of the proletariat. This wasn't the case with the elements of the communist left, who were actually very often hostile to the revolutionary syndicalist current, which they didn't want to see accepted into the International because the latter was a political not a trade union organ[14].

It was during the course of 1919 that a left communist current really appeared, on a political and not a trade union basis, in the developed countries. The electoral question was in certain countries the key issue for the left. In March1918, the Polish Communist Party - which had come out of the SDKiL of Luxemburg and Jogisches - boycotted the elections. In Italy, on 22 December 1918 Il Soviet was published in Naples, under the direction of Amadeo Bordiga. Unlike Gramsci and his syndicalist current, which defended participation in elections, Bordiga's current was for communist abstentionism with a view to eliminating the reformists from the Italian Socialist Party and to constituting a "purely communist party". The Abstentionist Communist Fraction of the PSI was formally constituted in October 1919. In Britain, Sylvia Pankhurst's Workers' Socialist Federation took a stand against ‘revolutionary' parliamentarism in order to avoid any "waste of energy"[15]. In Belgium the De Internationale group in Flanders and War van Overstraeten's group were against electoralism[16]. It was the same in the more ‘peripheral' countries. At the congress of the Bulgarian Communist Party, in May 1919, a strong minority was in favor of condemning parliamentary action on principle.[17]  

The Dutch communists, on the other hand, despite a tenacious legend, were far from being so ­radical on the parliamentary question. While the majority around Wijnkoop was electoralist, the minority was hesitant. Gorter himself was for revolutionary activity in parliament[18]. Pannekoek on the other hand defended an anti- parliamentary position. Like all the left communists he underlined the change in historical period and the necessity to break with the democratic principle so firmly anchored in the working masses of Western Europe. For the development of class consciousness, it was necessary to break with ‘parliamentary democracy'.

In 1919 the CI didn't consider that the refusal to participate in bourgeois parliaments was a reason to exclude the left. Lenin, in a reply to Sylvia Pankhurst[19] was of the opinion that:  

"The question of parliamentarism is today a particular, secondary point ... being indissolubly linked to the working masses, knowing how to make constant propaganda within them, participating in each strike, echoing each demand by the masses, this is essential for a communist party ... The revolutionary workers whose attacks are aimed at parliament are quite right to the extent that they express the negation of the principle of bourgeois parliamentarism and bourgeois democracy."[20]

On this question, however, the circular from the Executive Committee of the CI, 1 September 1919, marked a turning point. While parliamentary activities and electoral campaigns were still defined as 'auxiliary means', the conquest of parliament appeared to be a way of conquering the state. The CI returned to the social democratic conception of parliament as the centre of the revolutionary struggle: "(militants) ... go to parliament to seize hold of this machine (our emphasis) and to help the masses, behind the walls of parliament, to overturn it".

An even more serious difference between the CI and the left was the union question. In a period when workers' councils had not yet app­eared, was it necessary to militate in the unions, now counter-revolutionary organs, or on contrary to destroy them by creating real organs of revolutionary struggle? Here the left was divided. Bordiga's Fraction leaned towards creating ‘real' red trade unions. Fraina's Communist Party of America was in favor of working with the revolutionary syndicalists of the IWW, rejecting any ‘entryism' into the reformist unions. The minority of the CPN, with Gorter and Pannekoek, were increasingly hostile to any activity in the NAS, considering that a break with the anarcho-syndicalist current was inevitable.

The exclusion of the German Left from the KPD on the grounds of anti-parliamentarism and anti-unionism was to crystallize the international left opposition. The Dutch minority in fact found itself at the theoretical forefront of German and international ‘Linkskommunismus'.

[1] De Internationale no. 1, 15 June 1918 ‘One Organ' p. 1. The lines for this regroupment were: political adherence to the Zimmerwald Left; the fight against the Dutch imperialist state; the sharpest struggle against all the reformist and imperialist tendencies among trade union members organized in the NAS and the NVV (the SDAP union).

[2] Since August 1917, Wijnkoop and van Ravesteyn had been the sole editors of the daily.

[3] Kolthek, who was elected as a deputy, collaborated in a bourgeois paper De Telegraf, which had a vigorously pro-Entente orientation. With his party, the SP, and the BvSC, the SDP won more than 50,000 votes, including 14,000 for Wijnkoop in Amsterdam - half the vote obtained by the SDAP. The three elected deputies formed a ‘revolutionary parliamentary faction' in the chamber.

[4] Gorter wrote an article assimilating Wijnkoop with Troelstra, ‘Troelstra-Wijnkoop', published in De Tribune 18 Sept, 1918. Another article, published in De Tribune on 26 October 1918,  affirmed that:

"The directing committee's love for the Russian revolution is purely platonic. In reality all the force of its love is directed towards the extension of the party's growth and popularity with the aid of the Parliament."

[5] The opposition didn't yet reject parliamentarism; it hope for a serious discussion in the worker's movement to determine the future tactic: "... important problems in this phase of the movement have yet to be clarified ... On the question of parliamentarism, the editors support the view that everyone should give their opinion in De Internationale. This question however is not yet exhausted ... The same goes for participation or non-participation in elections." (De Internationale no. 9, 12 Oct 1918 ‘Landelijke conferentie van De Internationale')

[6] De Tribune 26 Oct 1918. The anticipated nomination was announced as follows:

"Attention! Seeing that Wijnkoop is the only candidate for the post of party president, he is therefore declared elected to this post. Seeing that the only candidate for party secretary is Ceton, he is consequently declared elected. The candidates for the post of vice-president are A. Lisser and B. Luteraan."

[7] De Internationale no. 14, January 1919 ‘Colltif uittreden'. This was the last issue. The ‘International Communists' disappeared as rapidly as they had appeared.

[8] The American League for Socialist Propaganda was born inside the Socialist Party in Massachusetts, against the electoralist orientation of the party leadership. It published the Internationalist which fought the orientation towards pacifism in the majority of the party in 1917. In 1919 it assumed the title of ‘Left Wing of the Socialist Party' and published in Boston, under Fraina's direction, the weekly Revolutionary Age. In its 1919 theses it was for leaving the IInd International and joining the IIIrd, and for eliminating the reformist demands in the SP platform.

[9] Louis Fraina (1894-1953): born in Southern Italy, at the age of two he immigrated to the USA with his parents. At 15 he became a member of the De Leonist SLP, which he left in 1914. He became a member of the Socialist Party and, with John Reed, active in its left wing, which decided on a split at a conference of June 1919. From this split came Reed's Communist Labor Party and Fraina's Communist Party of America - the most advanced theoretically - in September 1919. After the Amsterdam conference of February 1920, Fraina took part in the Second Congress of the CI, after being cleared of suspicions about being an ‘agent provocateur'. After that he took charge, along with Katayana and certain Jesus Ramirez, of the Panamerican Bureau of the Comintern in Mexico, in 1920-21, under the pseudonym Luis Corey. In 1922, he became known as a journalist under this pseudonym. After that he became a university professor of economics, and was known essentially for his work in this field.

[10] The IWW headed the Seattle strike which generalized to Vancouver and Winnipeg in Canada. In the same year, 1919, very hard strikes broke out among the metal workers of Pennsylvania. These strikes were opposed by the unions and brutally repressed by the bosses' police and the federal government. In Argentina, the ‘Bloody Week' in Buenos Aires ended in dozens of dead among the workers. At the extreme south of the continent, the striking agricultural workers of Patagonia were savagely repressed.

[11] ‘Letter of Invitation to the Congress'.

[12] The first Union (AAU) which was not anarcho-sysndicalist as in the Ruhr emerged in the autumn of 1919 in Bremen. It's organ Kampfruf (‘Flugzeitung fur die revolutionare Betrieborganisation') clearly affirmed that it didn't want to "become a new trade union". Declaring itself in favor of "conquering political power", the Bremen AAU denounced the syndicalists as "adversaries of the political dictatorship of the proletariat". (Kampfruf, no. 1, 15 October 1919, ‘Was ist die AAU?')

[13] Cited by Prudhommeaux, Spartacus et la Commune de Berlin 1918-1919.

[14] Bordiga was the firmest partisan of this separation between the political International and the International of economic organizations. Up till 1920, the Communist International accepted both communist organizations and national and regional trade or industrial unions. This lasted until the formation of the Red Trade Union International (Profintern). The KAPD wanted to set up, alongside the Communist International, an International workplace organizations on a political basis: anti-parliamentarism, destruction of the counter-revolutionary unions, workers' councils, destruction of the capitalist state.

[15] S. Pankhurst Communist Thought and Action in the IIIrd International, published in Bordiga's Il Soviet, 20 Sept 1919.

[16] War van Overstraeten (1891-1981), painter, at first anarchist, he became during the war editor-in-chief of the Zimmerwald paper of the Jeunes Gardes Socialistes: Le Socialisme. He was at the origin of the Communist Group in Brussels, founded in 1919, and which on 1 March 1920 began publishing L'Ouverier Communiste (De Kommunistische Arbeider in Flemish). At the Second Congress of the CI he defended Bordiga's anti-parliamentary theses. He was one of the main artisans in the foundation of the Belgian CP in November 1920, which was joined by the Flemish Federation in December (De Internationale). At the Third Congress of the CI, he was very close to KAPD. Under the CI's pressure, he had to admit into the Party, the centrist group, Jacquemotte and Massart's ‘Les Amis de l'Exploite', at the unification congress of September 1021. Unlike Bodiga, he continued to defend anti-parliamentary positions. Hostile to the idea of the mass party and ‘Bolshevization', in 1927 he was part of the unified opposition group. In 1929 he was excluded with the opposition and became close to Hennaut's Ligue des Communistes Internationalistes, formed in 1931 after separating from the Trotskyist wing. In Spain from 1931-35, he was in contact with the groups of the communist left. After that withdrawal from all political activity.

[17] A strong opposition was formed in Bulgarian CP around Ivan Gantochev, a journalist and a translator of Goethe. It was he who translated a certain number of Gorter's works into Bulgarian. In Hungary, anti-parliamentary positions were known about thanks to a group of Hungarian Communists exiled in Vienna, after the end of the ‘Hungarian Commune'. Within this group Lukacs was an anti-parliamentarian, while Bela Kun put forward a curious tactic: participation in elections in order to denounce them; no deputies to be sent to parliament. In Sweden, C J Bjorklund's Federation of Social-Democratic Youth (Social-demokratiska Ungdomsforbundet), which had adhered to the CI in May 1919, was resolutely anti-parliamentarian; in contact with KAPD in 1920, it denounced the opportunism of Hoglund in parliament - after Lenin had presented the latter as the Swedish Liebknecht. Anti-parliamentariam reached as far as Latin America: within the Partido Socialista Internacional in Argentina - which was to become the Communist Party of Argentina in December 1920 - a strong minority had emerged in 1919, referring to Bordiga and calling for a boycott of elections.

[18] On 1 May 1920, a few weeks before writing his Reply to Lenin, Gorter wrote to Lenin saying:

"I am not adversary of parliamentarism. I am writing this only to show you - you and the central committee - how dangerous it is to talk too much in favor of the opportunist communist." 

[19] Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960) had militated in the suffragette movement founded by her mother Emma. In 1914, she had founded the East London Federation of Suffragettes which published The Women's Dreadnought. Under the effect of the war, her movement broke with feminism. In 1917 it was transformed into the Worker's Socialist Federation, whose organ The Workers' Dreadnought. Pankhurst declared for the Bolsheviks. In 1919, she was present at the Bologna congress of the PSI. she became a paid correspondent of The Communist International, organ of the CI. On returning from Italy, she participated at the Frankfurt Conference, then at the Amsterdam Conference. Rejecting any parliamentary tactic and any entryism into the Labor Party, she contributed in June 1920 to the foundation of the Communist Party (British Section of the Third International). The same year, along with the shop steward Gallacher, she defended anti-parliamentary and anti-trade union positions at the Second Congress of the CI. Her party was obliged, in Leeds in Jan 1921, to fuse with the Communist Party of Great Britain which defended the orthodoxy of the CI. Workers' Dreadnought remained the independent organ of her tendency in the ‘unified' CP. Thrown in prison by the British government, she was freed in Sept 1921 only to be expelled from the CP along with her followers. In February 1922 she and the excluded comrades founded the Communist Workers' Party, the section of Gorter's KAI, which lasted until June 1924. After this Sylvia Pankhurst ceased to be a left communist and a proletarian militant. She returned to her feminist first love and developed a passion for Esperanto. In 1928, she even became the apostle of an ‘anti-fascist' crusade. In 1932 she formed a Women's International Matteoti Committee, an anti-fascist feminist movement. She supported the Negus during the 1935 war between Italy and Ethiopia. She went off to Ethiopia and ended up a Catholic. A friend of the Negus, she died in Addis-Ababa in 1960, where she is buried.  

[20] Pankhurst's letter and the reply by Lenin (August 1919) can be found in Die Kommunistische Internationale no. 4-5, pps 91-98 ‘Der Sozialismus in England'.

Development of proletarian consciousness and organisation: