Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Com­mu­nist Parties,
on the Methods and Content of Their Work

Adopted at the 24th Session of the Third Congress of the Com­mu­nist International, 12 July 1921

Continued from left column

the work­ers’ cause in every conflict with the cap­ital­ists over hours, wages, working conditions, etc. In doing this the com­mu­nists must become intimately involved in the concrete questions of working-class life; they must help the work­ers untangle these questions, call their attention to the most important abuses and help them formulate the demands directed at the cap­ital­ists precisely and practically; attempt to develop among the work­ers the sense of solidarity, awaken their con­scious­ness to the com­mon interests and the com­mon cause of all work­ers of the country as a united working class constituting a section of the world army of the pro­le­tar­iat.

Only through such absolutely necessary day-to-day work, through continual self-sacrificing par­tici­pa­tion in all struggles of the pro­le­tar­iat, can the “Com­mu­nist Party” develop into a com­mu­nist party. Only thus will it distinguish itself from the obsolete socialist parties, which are merely propa­gan­da and recruiting parties, whose activity consists only of collecting members, speechifying about reforms and exploiting par­lia­men­ta­ry impos­si­bil­ities. The purposeful and self-sacrificing par­tici­pa­tion of the entire party membership in the school of the daily struggles and conflicts of the exploited with the exploiters is the indispensable precondition not only for the conquest of power, but, to an even greater extent, for exercising the dictator­ship of the pro­le­tar­iat. Only the leadership of the working masses in constant small-scale battles against the encroachments of capital will enable the com­mu­nist parties to become vanguards of the working class—vanguards which in fact sys­tem­ati­cal­ly learn to lead the pro­le­tar­iat and acquire the capacity for the consciously prepared ouster of the bourgeoisie.

24. Particularly in strikes, lockouts and other mass dismissals of work­ers, the com­mu­nists must be mobilized in force to take part in the move­ment of the work­ers.

It is the greatest error for com­mu­nists to invoke the com­mu­nist program and the final armed rev­olu­tion­ary struggle as an excuse to passively look down on or even to oppose the present struggles of the work­ers for small improvements in their working conditions. No matter how small and modest the demands for which the work­ers are ready to fight the cap­ital­ists today, this must never be a reason for com­mu­nists to abstain from the struggle. To be sure, in our agitational work we com­mu­nists should not show ourselves to be blind instigators of stupid strikes and other reckless actions; rather, the com­mu­nists everywhere must earn the reputation among the struggling work­ers as their ablest comrades in struggle.

25. In the trade-un­ion move­ment, com­mu­nist cells and fractions are in practice often quite at a loss when confronted with the simplest questions of the day. It is easy but fruitless to preach just the general principles of communism, only to fall into the negative stance of vulgar syndicalism when faced with concrete questions. This merely plays into the hands of the yellow Amsterdam leadership.

Instead, com­mu­nists should determine their rev­olu­tion­ary position in accordance with the objective content of each question that arises. For example, instead of being content to oppose every wage agreement in theory and in principle, com­mu­nists should above all fight directly against the actual content of the wage agreements advocated by the Amsterdam leaders. Since every shackle on the militancy of the pro­le­tar­iat is to be condemned and vigorously combatted, and it is well known that the aim of the cap­ital­ists and their Amsterdam ac­com­plices is to use every wage agreement to tie the struggling work­ers’ hands, it is therefore obviously the duty of com­mu­nists to expose this aim before the work­ers. But as a rule com­mu­nists can best achieve this by advancing wage proposals which do not constitute a shackle on the work­ers.

The same position applies, for example, to as­sis­tance funds and trade-un­ion benefit societies. Collecting strike funds and granting strike benefits from a com­mon pool is in itself a good thing. Op­po­si­tion in principle to this activity is misplaced. It is only the way in which the Amsterdam leaders want to collect and use these funds that contradicts the rev­olu­tion­ary class interests of the work­ers. In the case of un­ion health insurance and the like, com­mu­nists should for example demand the abolition of compulsory special payments and of all binding conditions for voluntary funds. However, if part of the membership still wants to secure sick benefits by making payments, they will not understand if we simply wish to forbid it. It is first necessary to rid these members of their petty-bourgeois as­pi­ra­tions through intensive propa­gan­da on an individual level.

26. In the struggle against the social-democratic and other petty-bourgeois leaders of the trade un­ions and various work­ers parties, there can be no hope of obtaining anything by persuading them. The struggle against them must be organized with the utmost energy. However, the only sure and successful way to combat them is to split away their supporters by convincing the work­ers that their social-traitor leaders are lackeys of capitalism. Therefore, where possible these leaders must first be put into situations in which they are forced to unmask them­selves; after such preparation they can then be attacked in the sharpest way.

It is by no means enough to simply curse the Amsterdam leaders as “yellow.” Rather, their “yel­low­ness” must be proved continually by practical examples. Their activity in joint industrial councils, in the International Labor Office of the League of Nations, in bourgeois ministries and ad­min­is­tra­tions; the treacherous words in their speeches at conferences and in par­lia­men­ta­ry bodies; the key passages in their many conciliatory hack articles in hundreds of newspapers; and in particular their vacillating and hesitant behavior in preparing and conducting even the most minor wage struggles and strikes—all this provides daily opportunities to ex­pose and brand the unreliable and treacherous do­ings of the Amsterdam leaders as “yellow” through simply formulated motions, resolutions and straight­forward speeches.

The cells and fractions must conduct their practical offensives sys­tem­ati­cal­ly. The excuses of lower-level un­ion bureaucrats, who barricade them­selves behind statutes, un­ion conference decisions and instructions from the top leadership out of weakness (often even despite good will), must not hinder the com­mu­nists from going ahead with tenacity and repeatedly demanding that the lower-level bureaucrats state clearly what they have done to remove these ostensible obstacles and whether they are ready to fight openly alongside the mem­ber­ship to surmount these obstacles.

27. Com­mu­nists’ par­tici­pa­tion in meet­ings and conferences of trade-un­ion or­gan­iza­tions must be carefully prepared in advance by the fractions and working groups, for example, drafting their own resolutions, choosing speak­ers to present and to support the motions, nominating capable, ex­pe­ri­enced and energetic comrades for election, etc.

Through their working groups, com­mu­nist or­gan­iza­tions must also prepare carefully for all general meet­ings of work­ers, election meet­ings, dem­on­stra­tions, political working-class festivals and the like, held by opponent parties. When the com­mu­nists call general work­ers’ meet­ings them­selves, as many com­mu­nist working groups as possible must coordinate their actions according to a unified plan, both beforehand and while the meet­ings are in progress, to ensure that full or­gan­iza­tional use is made of such meet­ings.

28. Com­mu­nists must learn how to be ever more effective in drawing unorganized, po­lit­ical­ly unconscious work­ers into the sphere of lasting party influence. Through our cells and fractions we should induce these work­ers to join trade un­ions and read our party press. Other work­ers associations (co­op­er­atives, or­gan­iza­tions of war victims, educational associations and study circles, sports clubs, theater groups, etc.) can also be used to transmit our influence. Where the com­mu­nist party must work illegally such work­ers associations can be founded outside the party as well, on the initiative of party members with the consent and supervision of the leading party bodies (sympathizers’ associations). For many proletarians who have remained po­lit­ical­ly indifferent, com­mu­nist youth and women’s or­gan­iza­tions can first arouse interest in a com­mon or­gan­iza­tional life through courses, reading groups, excursions, festivals, Sunday outings, etc. Such work­ers can then be drawn permanently close to the or­gan­iza­tions and in this way also induced to aid our party with useful work (distributing leaflets, circulating party newspapers, pamphlets, etc.). They will overcome their petty-bourgeois inclinations most easily through such active par­tici­pa­tion in the com­mon move­ment.

29. In order to win the semi-proletarian lay­ers of the working population as sympathizers of the rev­olu­tion­ary pro­le­tar­iat, com­mu­nists must utilize these intermediate layers’ particular conflicts of interest with the big landowners, the cap­ital­ists and the cap­ital­ist state, and overcome their mistrust of the proletarian rev­olu­tion through continual per­sua­sion. This may often require prolonged in­ter­action with them. Their confidence in the com­mu­nist move­ment can be promoted by sympathetic interest in their daily needs, free information and assistance in overcoming small difficulties which they are at a loss to solve, drawing them to special free public educational meet­ings, etc. Meanwhile, it is necessary for com­mu­nists to cautiously and untiringly counteract opponent or­gan­iza­tions and individuals who possess authority locally or have influence on laboring small peasants, cottage work­ers and other semi-proletarian elements. The most immediate enemies of the exploited, whom they know as oppressors from their own ex­pe­ri­ence, must be exposed as the rep­re­sent­atives and personification of the whole criminal cap­ital­ist system. Com­mu­nist propa­gan­da and agitation must intensively exploit in comprehensible terms all day-to-day events which bring the state bu­reauc­ra­cy into conflict with the ideals of petty-bourgeois democracy and the “rule of law.”

Every local or­gan­iza­tion in the countryside must meticulously divide the task of door-to-door agi­ta­tion among its members and extend this agi­ta­tion to all the villages, farmsteads and in­di­vidual houses in the area covered by its work.

30. For propa­gan­da work in the army and navy of the cap­ital­ist state, a special study must be made of the most appropriate methods in each individual country. Anti-militarist agitation in the pacifist sense is extremely detrimental; it only furthers the efforts of the bourgeoisie to disarm the pro­le­tar­iat. The pro­le­tar­iat rejects in principle and combats with the utmost energy all mili­tary in­sti­tu­tions of the bourgeois state and of the bourgeois class in general. On the other hand, it utilizes these in­sti­tu­tions (army, rifle clubs, territorial militias, etc.) to give the work­ers mili­tary training for rev­olu­tion­ary battles. Therefore, it is not against the mili­tary training of youth and work­ers but against the militaristic order and the autocratic rule of the officers that intensive agitation should be directed. Every pos­si­bil­ity for the pro­le­tar­iat to get weapons into its hands must be exploited to the fullest.

The rank-and-file soldiers must be made aware of the class division evident in the material privileges of the officers and the rough treatment of the ranks. Furthermore, this agitation must make clear to the ranks that their whole future is inextricably bound up with the fate of the exploited class. In the ad­vanced period characterized by incipient rev­olu­tion­ary fer­ment, agitation for the democratic election of all officers by the soldiers and sailors and for the founding of soldiers councils can be very effective in un­der­min­ing the pillars of cap­ital­ist class rule.

The greatest vigilance and incisiveness are always necessary in agitating against the bourgeoisie’s spe­cial class-war troops, especially against their vol­un­teer armed gangs. Where their social com­po­si­tion and corruption make it possible, the social decom­po­si­tion of their ranks must be sys­tem­ati­cal­ly pro­moted at the right time. If they have a ho­mo­ge­ne­ous bourgeois class character, for example in troops drawn purely from the officer corps, they must be exposed before the entire population, made so de­spic­able and hated that the resulting isolation grinds them to pieces from within.


31. For a com­mu­nist party there is no time when the party or­gan­iza­tion cannot be po­lit­ical­ly active. The or­gan­iza­tional exploitation of every political and economic situation, and of every change in these situations, must be de­vel­op­ed into or­gan­iza­tional strategy and tactics.

Even if the party is still weak, it can exploit po­lit­ical­ly stirring events or major strikes that convulse the whole economy by carrying out a well-planned and sys­tem­ati­cal­ly organized radical propa­gan­da campaign. Once a party has decided that such a campaign is appropriate, it must ener­get­ic­ally con­cen­trate all members and sections of the party on it.

First, the party must make use of all the ties it has forged through the work of its cells and working groups to organize meet­ings in the main centers of political or­gan­iza­tion or of the strike move­ment. In these meet­ings the party’s speak­ers must make the com­mu­nist slogans clear to the participants as the way out of their plight. Special working groups must prepare these meet­ings well, down to the last detail. If it is not possible to hold our own meet­ings, suitable comrades should intervene as major speak­ers during the dis­cus­sion at general meet­ings of work­ers on strike or engaged in other struggles.

If there is a prospect of winning over the majority or a large part of the meet­ing to our slogans, an attempt must be made to express these slogans in well-formulated and skillfully motivated motions and resolutions. If such resolutions are adopted, then at all meet­ings in the same town or in other areas involved in this move­ment we must work toward getting an increasing number of the same or similar motions and resolutions adopted, or at least supported by strong minorities. We will thus con­soli­date the proletarian layers in motion, whom we had initially influenced only through our ideas, bringing them to recognize the new leadership.

After all such meet­ings, the working groups which took part in or­gan­iza­tionally preparing and utilizing them must meet briefly, not only to prepare a report for the party committee in charge of the work, but also to immediately draw the lessons which are necessary for further work from the ex­pe­ri­ence gained, or from any errors.

Depending on the situation, we must make our operational slogans accessible to interested layers of work­ers with posters and flyers, or else distribute detailed leaflets to those engaged in struggle, using the slogans of the day to make communism com­pre­hensible in the context of the situation. Skillful postering requires specially organized groups to find suitable locations and choose times for effective paste-up. Leafletting in and outside the plants and in restaurants and pubs used as centers of com­mu­ni­ca­tion by the layers of work­ers involved in the move­ment, at major transit intersections, employment offices and train stations, should be combined wher­ev­er possible with the kind of dis­cus­sion whose catchwords will be taken up by the aroused masses of work­ers. Detailed leaflets should if possible be distributed only in buildings, plants, halls, apartment buildings or wher­ev­er else we can expect they will be read attentively.

This intensified propa­gan­da must be supported by parallel work at all trade-un­ion and plant meet­ings caught up in the move­ment. When necessary, our comrades must raise the demand for such meet­ings or organize them them­selves and must provide suitable speak­ers for main presentations or dis­cus­sion. Most of the space in our party news­papers, and the papers’ best arguments, must be placed at the disposal of such a particular move­ment, just as the entire or­gan­iza­tional apparatus must be wholly and unflaggingly dedicated to the general aim of the move­ment for its duration.

32. Demonstration campaigns require a very flexible and dedicated leadership which must keep the aim of the campaign clearly in mind and be able to discern at any moment whether a demonstration has reached the upper limit of effectiveness, or whether, in the given situation, it is possible to further intensify the move­ment by expanding it into mass action in the form of demonstrative strikes and finally mass strikes. The peace dem­on­stra­tions during the war taught us that a real proletarian combat party, albeit small and illegal, cannot turn aside or halt even after such dem­on­stra­tions have been suppressed when a major, immediately rele­vant goal is involved that is naturally bound to ge­ne­rate wider and wider interest among the masses.

It is best to base street dem­on­stra­tions on the major factories. First our cells and fractions must have done systematic groundwork in a suitable situation to bring the mood to a certain uniformity through oral propa­gan­da and leaflets. Then the committee in charge must bring together the party cadres with authority in the plants—the cell and fraction leaders—to discuss arrangements for the coming day so that our contingents march up in a disciplined fashion and converge punctually. They must also decide on the character of the slogans of the day, the prospects for broadening the dem­on­stra­tions, and when to break off and disperse. A thoroughly briefed and or­gan­iza­tionally ex­pe­ri­enced corps of energetic func­tion­aries must form the backbone of the demonstration from the time it leaves the plants up to the time the mass action disperses. In order for these func­tion­aries to remain in active contact with each other and be provided with the continuously necessary political directives, responsible party work­ers must be sys­tem­ati­cal­ly distributed throughout the crowd of demonstrators. This kind of flexible, political-or­gan­iza­tional leader­ship of the demonstration best lays the basis for renewed dem­on­stra­tions and for possibly broad­en­ing them into larger mass actions.

33. Com­mu­nist parties which have already achieved a certain amount of internal cohesion, a tested corps of func­tion­aries and a considerable mass following must do their utmost through major campaigns to completely overcome the influence of the social-traitor leaders over the working class and to bring the majority of the working masses under com­mu­nist leadership. The way the campaigns are organized will depend on the situation—on whether current struggles enable the party to move to the forefront as the proletarian leadership, or whether temporary stagnation prevails. The com­po­si­tion of the party will also be a decisive factor for the or­gan­iza­tional methods of campaigns. For example, the so-called “Open Letter” was used by the VKPD in order to win over the crucial social layers of the pro­le­tar­iat more effectively than was otherwise then possible for a young mass party to do in the individual districts. To unmask the social-traitor leaders, the Com­mu­nist Party approached the other mass or­gan­iza­tions of the pro­le­tar­iat at a time of increasing impoverishment and sharpening class antagonisms, demanding openly before the pro­le­tar­iat an answer as to whether these leaders—with their supposedly powerful or­gan­iza­tions—were prepared to take up the struggle together with the Com­mu­nist Party against the obvious im­pov­er­ish­ment of the pro­le­tar­iat, for the most minimal demands, for a measly crust of bread.

Wherever the Com­mu­nist Party initiates a similar campaign, it must make all or­gan­iza­tional preparations to ensure that its in­ter­ven­tion wins a response among the broadest working masses. All the party’s industrial fractions and trade-un­ion func­tion­aries must, at their next plant and un­ion meet­ings and in all public meet­ings (after tho­roughly preparing for such meet­ings), effectively present the party’s demands as the totality of the life-and-death demands of the pro­le­tar­iat. Wherever our cells or fractions seek to take the offensive to advance mass agreement with our demands, leaflets, flyers and posters must be distributed in a skillful manner to use the mood of the masses advantageously. Our party press must daily feature the issues of the move­ment during the weeks of the campaign, alternating between shorter and more detailed articles, written from continually varied standpoints. The or­gan­iza­tions must supply the press with a steady stream of material for this, and must ener­get­ic­ally ensure that the editors do not flag in promoting the party campaign in the press. The party fractions in par­lia­men­ta­ry and municipal bodies must also be sys­tem­ati­cal­ly put to work in such struggles. Following the directives of the party leadership, they must speak for the move­ment in the par­lia­men­ta­ry bodies by in­tro­duc­ing appropriate motions. These par­lia­men­ta­ry representatives must regard them­selves as conscious members of the struggling masses, as their spokesmen in the camp of the class enemy, as responsible func­tion­aries and party work­ers.

If the united, or­gan­iza­tionally concentrated work of all the party’s forces leads in a few weeks to the adoption of a large and steadily increasing number of resolutions in agreement with our demands, the party will be faced with the serious or­gan­iza­tional question of providing an or­gan­iza­tional framework for the masses who are in agreement with our slogans. If the move­ment has assumed a pre­do­mi­nant­ly trade-un­ion character, steps must be taken above all to increase our or­gan­iza­tional influence in the un­ions: our fractions must proceed with well-prepared, direct offensives against the local trade-un­ion leadership, either to defeat them or else to force them to wage an organized struggle on the basis of our party’s demands. Where plant councils, factory committees or similar bodies exist, our fraction should intervene to induce plenary meet­ings of these plant councils or factory committees to decide in favor of this struggle. If several local or­gan­iza­tions have been won over to such a move­ment fighting under com­mu­nist leadership for the bare life-and-death interests of the pro­le­tar­iat, they must be convened in conferences; plant meet­ings which have come out in support should also send their special delegates. The new leadership thus consolidating itself under com­mu­nist influence will gain new impetus by this con­cen­tra­tion of the active groups of the organized working class; this impetus must in turn be used to drive the leadership of the socialist parties and trade un­ions forward—or to expose them, including with respect to their or­gan­iza­tional affiliation.

In the economic sectors where our party pos­sess­es its best or­gan­iza­tions and where it has en­coun­tered the most widespread agreement with its de­mands, the organized pressure which has been brought to bear on the local trade un­ions and plant councils must be used to consolidate all the isolated economic struggles being waged in this sector, as well as the developing move­ments of other groups, into a unified, militant move­ment. This move­ment must transcend the framework of the particular interests of individual trades and raise several ele­men­ta­ry demands in their com­mon interest which can then be won through the joint forces of all or­gan­iza­tions in the district. It is in such a move­ment that the Com­mu­nist Party will prove itself to be the real leader of that section of the pro­le­tar­iat which wants to fight, while the trade-un­ion bu­reauc­ra­cy and the socialist parties, who would op­pose such a jointly organized, militant move­ment, would be finished—not only po­lit­ical­ly as regards their ideas, but also in practical or­gan­iza­tional terms.

34. If the Com­mu­nist Party attempts to take the lead­er­ship of the masses into its hands at a time of



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 women’s 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 party’s 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 party’s 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 party’s 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 or­gan­iza­tion’s 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 party’s 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

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