Newspaper Page Text
SATURDAY, OCT. 23rd, 1920
The French Labor Congress
By Max Worth.
European Correspondent for the Federated Press
The Special Congress of the General Federat
ion of Labor opened at Orleans on Monday, Sep
tember 27 exactly three weeks after the opening
of the British Trades Union Congress at Ports
mouth. The French Congress began with a sharp
attack by a revolutionary minority, on the Federa
tion and its officers.
Since the General Strike of last May, there
has been a large element of discontent with the
direction of the Federation. This discontent was
finally focussed in a "minority movement" that
began with a regional congress in Lyons, and that
was continued at similar conference in Paris,
Marseilles, and finally in Orleans. The final session
of the minoritarians at Orleans closed on the day
before the Congress opened.
At the Lyons meeting there were about one
hundred minoritarian delegates. At the Orleans
session, there were delegates from 331 local
unions; 6 departmental unions (like our state
federations), and 3 industrial federations (like our
Censure The C. 6. T.
The total number of local unions having
delegates at the Congress of the Federation is
2,178; with 68 departmental unions and 35 in
dustrial federations. As yet, therefore the minor
itarian movement is not numerically very strong.
It is its existence rather than its strength that
makes the situation significant.
The final session of the minoritarian mov
ement, on Sunday the 26th of September, passed
a resolution severely censuring the Federation for
its failure to adhere to the principles of revolution
ary syndicalism laid down at the Congress of
According to the Amiens' decision, the motion
insists, "the union must organize and absorb the
technicians, and not be absorbed by them, for
fatally, in that case, it is no longer the spirit of
the worker and the communist that remains pre
dominant, but the bourgeois and hierarchical spirit
of the technicians."
The decisions at Lyons (1919) were clear
cut, asserts the motion, but in the year that follow
ed the Congress of Lyons, "the C. G. T., which
should have moved toward the left, has navigated
the waters of the right, wholly abandoning direct
action, in principle as well as in method."
Minority Wants Action.
It is action that the minoritarians want. They
have had enough of resolutions. It is in revolution
ary action, the resolution contends, and not in af
filiation with the International of Amsterdam
that the hope of the C. G. T. really lies. There
are, in this resolution, more than two thousand
words, some of constructive suggestion, but for
the most part of criticism, and insistence that the
C. G. T. has been failthless to its traditions.
But what to do? The minoritarian finds him
self in this predicament. His group is not strong
enough to control the Federation. Therefore he
has two courses one, to remain in the Federation
and carry on propaganda there ; the other to form
a new organization. Moscow has insisted that the
Communists remain in the Federation; La Vie
Ouvriere, organ of the Communists, has taken
this attitude consistently.
On the other hand, there is a strong mov
ement, particularly in the South, for a new organ
ization. The capitalist papers are hailing this sign
of division with glee. The labor press is opposing
Majority Socialists in conference in Cassel,
Germany, are evidently looking for a split in the
ranks of the Independent Socialists. The Herald
correspondent is informed that the Right wing
of the Independents will probably reunite with
the Majority Socialists.
Krassin, soviet representative, presented the
Russian reply to the British government. The
Soviets offer to begin the repetriation of British
prisoners immediately. The reply does not refer
to the other points of note sent to Moscow by