1. The organization of the party must be adapted to the conditions and purpose of its activity. The Communist Party should be the vanguard, the front-line troops of the proletariat, leading in all phases of its revolutionary class struggle and the subsequent transitional period toward the realization of socialism, the first stage of communist society.
2. There can be no absolutely correct, immutable organizational form for communist parties. The conditions of the proletarian class struggle are subject to changes in an unceasing process of transformation; the organization of the vanguard of the proletariat must also constantly seek appropriate forms corresponding to these changes. Similarly, the historically determined characteristics of each individual country condition particular forms of adaptation in the organization of the individual parties.
But this differentiation has definite limits. Despite all peculiarities, the identity of the conditions of the proletarian class struggle in the various countries and in the different phases of the proletarian revolution is of fundamental importance to the international communist movement. This identity constitutes the common basis for the organization of the communist parties of all countries.
On this basis we must further develop the organization of the communist parties, not strive to found any new model parties in place of pre-existing ones or seek some absolutely correct organizational form or ideal statutes.
3. Common to the conditions of struggle of most communist parties and therefore to the Communist International as the overall party of the revolutionary world proletariat is that they must still struggle against the ruling bourgeoisie. For all the parties, victory over the bourgeoisie—wresting power from its hands—remains at present the key goal, giving direction to all their work.
Accordingly, it is absolutely crucial that all organizational work of communist parties in the capitalist countries be considered from the standpoint of constructing an organization which makes possible and ensures the victory of the proletarian revolution over the possessing classes.
4. Every collective action, in order to be effective, requires a leadership. This is necessary above all for the greatest struggle of world history. The organization of the communist party is the organization of the communist leadership in the proletarian revolution.
To lead well, the party itself must have good leadership. Our basic organizational task is accordingly the formation, organization and training of a communist party working under capable leading bodies to become the capable leader of the revolutionary working-class movement.
5. Leadership of the revolutionary class struggle presupposes, on the part of the communist party and its leading bodies, the organic tying together of the greatest possible striking power and the greatest ability to adapt to the changing conditions of struggle.
Moreover, successful leadership absolutely presupposes the closest ties with the proletarian masses. Without these ties the leadership will not lead the masses but will at best tail after them.
In its organization, the communist party seeks to achieve these organic ties through democratic centralism.
6. Democratic centralism in the communist party organization should be a real synthesis, a fusion of centralism and proletarian democracy. This fusion can be attained only on the basis of the constant common activity, the constant common struggle of the entire party organization.
Centralization in the communist party organization does not mean a formal and mechanical centralization but rather a centralization of communist activity, i.e., building a leadership which is strong, quick to react and at the same time flexible.
Formal or mechanical centralization would mean centralization of power in the hands of a party bureaucracy in order to dominate the rest of the membership or the masses of the revolutionary proletariat outside the party. But only enemies of communism can assert that the Communist Party wants to dominate the revolutionary proletariat through its leadership of proletarian class struggles and through the centralization of this communist leadership. This is a lie. Equally incompatible with the fundamental principles of democratic centralism adopted by the Communist International is a power struggle or a fight for domination within the party.
In the organizations of the old, nonrevolutionary workers movement a thoroughgoing dualism developed of the same kind as had arisen in the organization of the bourgeois state: the dualism between the bureaucracy and the people. Under the ossifying influence of the bourgeois environment the functionaries of these parties became estranged: the vital working collective was replaced by mere formal democracy, and the organization was split into active functionaries and passive masses. Inevitably, even the revolutionary workers movement to a certain degree inherits this tendency toward formalism and dualism from the bourgeois environment.
The Communist Party must thoroughly overcome these divisions by systematic and persevering political and organizational work and by repeated improvement and review. Back to Appendix A
7. In the reshaping of a mass socialist party into a communist party, the party must not limit itself to concentrating authority in the hands of its central leadership, while otherwise leaving its old structure unchanged. If centralization is not to exist on paper alone but is to be carried out in fact, it must be introduced in such a way that the members perceive it as an objectively justified strengthening and development of their collective work and fighting power. Otherwise centralization will appear to the masses as bureaucratization of the party, conjuring up opposition to all centralization, to all leadership, to any strict discipline. Anarchism and bureaucratism are two sides of the same coin.
Mere formal democracy in the organization cannot eliminate tendencies toward either bureaucratism or anarchism, for both have found fertile soil in the workers movement on the basis of formal democracy. Therefore the centralization of the organization, that is, the effort to achieve a strong leadership, cannot be successful if we attempt to achieve it simply on the basis of formal democracy. Necessary above all is the development and maintenance of living ties and reciprocity—both within the party between the leading party bodies and the rest of the membership, and between the party and the working-class masses outside the party.
8. The Communist Party should be a working school of revolutionary Marxism. Organic links are forged between the various parts of the organization and among individual members by day-to-day collective work in the party organizations.
In the legal communist parties most members still do not participate regularly in daily party work. This is the chief defect of these parties, which puts a question mark over their development.
9. When a workers party takes the first steps toward transformation into a communist party, there is always the danger that it will be content simply to adopt a communist program, substitute communist doctrine for the former doctrine in its propaganda, and merely replace the hostile functionaries with ones who have communist consciousness. But adopting a communist program is only a statement of the will to become communist. If communist activity is not forthcoming, and if in organizing party work the passivity of the mass of the membership is perpetuated, the party is not fulfilling even the least of what it has promised to the proletariat by adopting the communist program. Because the first condition for seriously carrying out this program is the integration of all members into ongoing daily work.
The art of communist organization consists in making use of everything and everyone in the proletarian class struggle, distributing party work suitably among all party members and using the membership to continually draw ever wider masses of the proletariat into the revolutionary movement, while at the same time keeping the leadership of the entire movement firmly in hand, not by virtue of power but by virtue of authority, i.e., by virtue of energy, greater experience, greater versatility, greater ability.
10. Thus, in its effort to have only really active members, a communist party must demand of every member in its ranks that he devote his time and energy, insofar as they are at his own disposal under the given conditions, to his party and that he always give his best in its service.
Obviously, besides the requisite commitment to communism, membership in the Communist Party involves as a rule: formal admission, possibly first as a candidate, then as a member; regular payment of established dues; subscription to the party press, etc. Most important, however, is the participation of every member in daily party work.
11. In order to carry out daily party work, every party member should as a rule always be part of a smaller working group—a group, a committee, a commission, a board or a collegium, a fraction or cell. Only in this way can party work be properly allocated, directed and carried out.
Participation in the general membership meetings of the local organizations also goes without saying. Under conditions of legality it is not wise to choose to substitute meetings of local delegates for these periodic membership meetings; on the contrary, all members must be required to attend these meetings regularly. But that is by no means enough. Proper preparation of these meetings in itself presupposes work in smaller groups or work by designated comrades, just like preparations for effective interventions in general meetings of workers, demonstrations and mass working-class actions. The many and varied tasks involved in such work can be carefully examined and intensively executed only by smaller groups. Unless such constant detailed work is performed by the entire membership, divided into numerous small working groups, even the most energetic participation in the class struggles of the proletariat will lead us only to impotent, futile attempts to influence these struggles and not to the necessary concentration of all vital, revolutionary forces of the proletariat in a communist party which is unified and capable of action.
12. Communist nuclei are to be formed for day-to-day work in different areas of party activity: for door-to-door agitation, for party studies, for press work, for literature distribution, for intelligence-gathering, communications, etc.
Communist cells are nuclei for daily communist work in plants and workshops, in trade unions, in workers cooperatives, in military units, etc.—wherever there are at least a few members or candidate members of the Communist Party. If there are several party members in the same plant or trade union, etc., then the cell is expanded into a fraction whose work is directed by the nucleus.
Should it first be necessary to form a broader, general oppositional faction or to participate in a pre-existing one, the communists must seek to gain the leadership of it by means of their own separate cell.
Whether a communist cell should come out openly as communist in its milieu, let alone to the public at large, is determined by meticulous examination of the dangers and advantages in each particular situation.
13. Introducing the general obligation to do work in the party and organizing these small working groups is an especially difficult task for communist mass parties. It cannot be carried out overnight but demands unflagging perseverance, careful consideration and much energy.
It is particularly important that, from the outset, this reorganization be carried out with care and extensive deliberation. It would be easy to assign all members in each organization to small cells and groups according to some formal scheme and then without further ado call on them to do general day-to-day party work. But such a beginning would be worse than no beginning at all and would quickly provoke dissatisfaction and antipathy among the membership toward this important innovation.
It is recommended as a first step that the party leadership work out in detail preliminary guidelines for introducing this innovation through extensive consultation with several capable organizers who are both firmly convinced, dedicated communists and precisely informed as to the state of the movement in the various centers of struggle in the country. Then, on the local level, organizers or organizational committees which have been suitably instructed must prepare the work at hand, select the first group leaders and directly initiate the first steps. The organizations, working groups, cells and individual members must then be given very concrete, precisely defined tasks, and in such a way that they see the work as immediately useful, desirable and practicable. Where necessary one should demonstrate by example how to carry out the assignments, at the same time drawing attention to those errors which are to be particularly avoided.
14. This reorganization must be carried out practically, one step at a time. Accordingly, at the outset, there should not be too many new cells or working groups formed in the local organizations. It must first be established in practice that cells formed in important individual plants and trade unions have begun to function properly, and that in other main areas of party work the crucial working groups have been formed and have consolidated themselves to some extent (e.g., in the areas of intelligence-gathering, communications, door-to-door agitation, the womens movement, literature distribution, press work, in the unemployed movement, etc.). The old framework of the organization cannot be blindly smashed before the new organizational apparatus is functioning to some extent.
Nevertheless, this fundamental task of communist organizational work must be carried out everywhere with the greatest energy. This places great demands not only on a legal party but also on every illegal one. Until a widespread network of communist cells, fractions and working groups is functioning at all focal points of the proletarian class struggle, until every member of a strong, purposeful party is participating in daily revolutionary work and this participation has become second nature, the party must not rest in its efforts to carry out this task.
15. This fundamental organizational task obligates the leading party bodies to exercise continual, tireless and direct leadership of and systematic influence on the partys work. This demands the most varied efforts from those comrades who are part of the leadership of the party organizations. The leaders of communist work must not only see to it that the comrades in fact have party work to do; they must assist the comrades, directing their work systematically and expertly, with precise information as to the particular conditions they are working in. They must also try to uncover any mistakes made in their own work, attempt to constantly improve their methods of work on the basis of experience, and at the same time strive never to lose sight of the goal of the struggle.
16. All our party work is practical or theoretical struggle, or preparation for this struggle. Until now, specialization in this work has generally been very deficient. There are whole areas of important work where anything the party has done has been only by chance—for example, whatever has been done by the legal parties in the special struggle against the political police. The education of party comrades takes place as a rule only casually and incidentally, but also so superficially that large sections of the party membership remain ignorant of the majority of the most important basic documents of their own party—even the party program and the resolutions of the Communist International. Educational work must be systematically organized and constantly carried out by the entire system of party organizations, in all the partys working collectives; thereby an increasingly high degree of specialization can also be attained.
17. In a communist organization the obligation to do work necessarily includes the duty to report. This applies to all organizations and bodies of the party as well as to each individual member. General reports covering short periods of time must be made regularly. They must cover the fulfillment of special party assignments in particular. It is important to enforce the duty to report so systematically that it takes root as one of the best traditions in the communist movement.
18. The party makes regular quarterly reports to the leadership of the Communist International. Each subordinate body of the party must report to its immediately superior committee (for example, monthly reports of the local organizations to the appropriate party committee).
Each cell, fraction and working group should report to the party body under whose actual leadership it works. Individual members must report (for example, weekly) to the cell or working group to which they belong (or to the cell or group head), and they must report the completion of special assignments to the party body from which the assignment came.
Reports must always be made at the first opportunity. They are to be made orally unless the party or the person who made the assignment requires a written report. Reports should be kept brief and factual. The recipient of a report is responsible for safeguarding information that would be damaging if made public, and for forwarding important reports to the appropriate leading party body without delay.
19. All these party reports should obviously not be limited simply to what the reporter himself did. They must also include information on those objective conditions observed during the work which have a bearing on our struggle, and especially considerations which can lead to a change or improvement in our future work. Suggestions for improvements found necessary in the course of the work must also be raised in the report.
All communist cells, fractions and working groups should regularly discuss reports, both those which they have received and those which they must present. Discussions must become an established habit.
Cells and working groups must also make sure that individual party members or groups of members are regularly put on special assignment to observe and report on opponent organizations, particularly petty-bourgeois workers organizations and above all on the organizations of the socialist parties.
20. In the period prior to the open revolutionary uprising our most general task is revolutionary propaganda and agitation. This activity, and the organization of it, is often in large part still conducted in the old formal manner, through casual intervention from the outside at mass meetings, without particular concern for the concrete revolutionary content of our speeches and written material.
Communist propaganda and agitation must above all root itself deep in the midst of the proletariat. It must grow out of the concrete life of the workers, out of their common interests and aspirations and particularly out of their common struggles.
The most important aspect of communist propaganda is the revolutionizing effect of its content. Our slogans and positions on concrete questions in different situations must always be carefully weighed from this standpoint. Not only the professional propagandists and agitators, but all other party members as well, must receive ongoing and thorough instruction so they can arrive at correct positions.
21. The main forms of communist propaganda and agitation are: individual discussion; participation in the struggles of the trade-union and political workers movement; impact through the partys press and literature. Every member of a legal or illegal party should in some way participate regularly in all this work.
Propaganda through individual discussion must be systematically organized as door-to-door agitation and conducted by working groups established for this purpose. Not a single house within the local party organizations area of influence can be left out in this agitation. In larger cities, specially organized street agitation in conjunction with posters and leaflets can also yield good results. Furthermore, at the workplace, the cells or fractions must conduct regular agitation on an individual level, combined with literature distribution.
In countries where national minorities form a part of the population, it is the partys duty to devote the necessary attention to propaganda and agitation among the proletarian layers of these minorities. This agitation and propaganda must obviously be conducted in the languages of the respective national minorities; appropriate party organs must be created for this purpose.
22. In conducting propaganda in those capitalist countries where the great majority of the proletariat does not yet possess conscious revolutionary inclinations, communists must constantly search for more effective methods of work in order to intersect the nonrevolutionary worker as he begins his revolutionary awakening, making the revolutionary movement comprehensible and accessible to him. Communist propaganda should use its slogans to reinforce the budding, unconscious, partial, wavering and semi-bourgeois tendencies toward revolutionary politics which in various situations are wrestling in his brain against bourgeois traditions and propaganda.
At the same time, communist propaganda must not be restricted to the present limited, vague demands or aspirations of the proletarian masses. The revolutionary kernel in these demands and aspirations is only the necessary point of departure for our intervention because only by making these links can the workers be brought closer to an understanding of communism.
23. Communist agitation among the proletarian masses must be conducted in such a way that workers engaged in struggle recognize our communist organization as the courageous, sensible, energetic and unswervingly devoted leader of their own common movement.
To achieve this the communists must take part in all the elementary struggles and movements of the working class and must fight for