Proletarians of all countries, unite!
There is one goal, the conquest of power!
On Refounding the Communist Party of Switzerland
1ST PLENARY SESSION
PROVISIONAL CENTRAL COMMITTEE
COMMUNIST PARTY OF SWITZERLAND (RED FACTION)
Provisional Central Committee
Communist Party of Switzerland (Red Faction)
The Red Flag
ON REFOUNDING THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF SWITZERLAND
«Finally now, listen to this. As we see in the world, maoism is marching unstoppably to lead the new wave of proletarian world revolution. Listen well and understand! Those who have ears, use them. Those who have understanding — and we all have it — use it! Enough of this nonsense. Enough of these obscurities! Let us understand that! What is unfolding in the world? What do we need? We need maoism to be embodied, and it is being embodied, and by generating Communist Parties to drive and direct this new great wave of the proletarian world revolution that is coming.»
Abimael «Gonzalo» Guzmán: «The Speech from the Cage» (24.09.1992)
«Our Sections must everywhere, in every connection with workers, keep the initiative, be the arousing, organizing and teaching element. Every labor union founded through its initiative must at the same time be a political and socio-economic — actually communist — educational institution. Every Section must work toward its spiritually independent members standing at the head of every workers‘ society. […] Thereby you will blaze the trail for us and we will win moral influence and strengthen our class to become a material force. […] The main thing is that we reach unanimity and unity in all of our efforts. If only some of those who grasp the cause once do their duty, then we will in a few years be an undefeatable world power.»
J. P. Becker: Letter to F. A. Sorge (30.05.1867)
«If the avowed social-patriots and opportunists, the Swiss Grütlians who, like the social-patriots of all countries, have deserted the camp of the proletariat for the camp of the bourgeoisie; if these people have openly called upon you to fight the harmful influence of foreigners upon the Swiss labour movement; if the disguised social-patriots and opportunists who constitute a majority among the leaders of the Socialist Party of Switzerland have been pursuing similar tactics under cover — then we consider it our duty to state that on the part of the revolutionary, internationalist, socialist workers of Switzerland we have met with warm sympathy, and have greatly benefited from comradely relations with them.
To these comrades, whose views we share, and with whom we worked hand in hand, we convey our fraternal greetings.
Transformation of the imperialist war into civil war is becoming a fact.
Long live the proletarian revolution that is beginning in Europe!»
V. I. Lenin: «Farewell Letter to the Swiss Workers» (26.03.1917)
«Out of the darkness. Up out of the petty group tactics, out of the bogged-down, incoherent activity and the useless waste of energy within the Social-Democratic Party. Forward to the unification of all socialists who are revolutionary in deeds into a solidly united Communist Party of Switzerland.
If the coming struggles in our country are to be fought out under the banner of communism, it is high time that the fragmented organizational system finally be broken up and that the confused collaboration between social-democrats and communists be stopped. Only in this way is it possible to lift the Swiss labor movement out of the opportunist swamp — into which Social-Democracy has led it — with a fresh jolt. Only in this way can communism attain influence and power among the people.»
Communist Party of Switzerland: «Into the Light» (07.06.1919)
1. BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
1.1. THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN CAPITAL AND LABOR
Swiss capitalism emerged from within feudal society in the Old Swiss Confederation following the Black Death and the 30 Years‘ War. Switzerland developed independently after it left the Holy Roman Empire. A State form which allowed for the mercantile bourgeoisie to seize partial State power in the country emerged. Through the watch-making industry (16th century) and the textile industry (15th century), manufacturing began to emerge along with a primitive working class.
The Great French Revolution had great repercussions in Switzerland. The bourgeoisie, previously only controlling a few cantons or towns, was propelled to political power in the Helvetic Republic under the leadership of Napoléon. When Napoléon was defeated by the reactionary great powers, a feudal restoration took place in our homeland. Following the July Revolution in France, the bourgeoisie was once more allowed to control parts of the political power in Switzerland — this was the period of regeneration.
The Napoleonic Wars had forced the Swiss bourgeoisie to industrialize. No longer able to depend on English machinery, the formerly mercantile Swiss capitalists now set up chemical plants, machine-building workshops and modern industry all across the country. And with the emergence of the industrial bourgeoisie, so emerged the industrial proletariat.
But the class struggle was headed for a show-down. The bourgeoisie controlled almost all economic power in the country, especially in the French-speaking region and in the northern cities. However, the German-speaking peasants, ideologically controlled by the Jesuit Order, controlled political power. A civil war had to break out, and it did, when the bourgeoisie took control of the Federal Diet and proclaimed a new Constitution. The conservative cantons formed the Special Union and attempted to secede from the Confederation. This led to the Special Union War. The Federal Diet raised an army, commanded by General Dufour, Napoléon‘s former right-hand man in Switzerland. The radical cantons won the war, dissolved the Special Union, expelled the Jesuits, abolished the Old Confederation in favor of the present-day Swiss Federation and thus allowed the free development of capitalism across the country.
At the same time as the rise to power of the industrial bourgeoisie, the modern proletariat emerges. The proletarians first organize machine-breaking actions, then collective struggles in individual workplaces, and finally organize into labor unions. Throughout the 19th century, the field of activity of the labor unions grows, until the founding of the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions in 1880. Through strikes, local and general, rights are conquered, with the first federal labor law being passed as a result in 1877.
With the emergence of the modern proletariat, utopian socialism emerges as a primitive expression of its interests in a period in which class struggle between proletarians and capitalists has not yet become the main contradiction in Swiss society. In 1838, the Grütli Association, the foremost utopian-socialist organization in the country, is founded under the slogan «Through Education Comes Freedom». It became an early center of the Swiss labor movement.
Following the defeat of the German revolution of 1848-49, Switzerland becomes a safe haven for liberal and communist political refugees. Johann Philipp Becker, a comrade of Marx and Engels, flees to Switzerland; he later founds the Swiss-German Section of the Workers‘ 1st International, led by Marx and Engels. This section adhered to marxism and played a key role in the struggle against Bakunin‘s anarchist faction in the 1st International. Becker personally led the class-conscious labor movement during the 1860s and ‘70s and founded the first Swiss socialist party in 1878.
After the dissolution of the 1st International in 1876, the Swiss socialists immediately worked to refound the International. In 1881, an international socialist conference was held at Chur, in which it was decided to found the Socialist 2nd International. In 1888, the Social-Democratic Party of Switzerland was founded — not as a marxist party, because after Becker‘s death, a compromise had been made between the marxist, proudhonist and lassallean factions of the labor movement to create a joint party. In 1889, the Social-Democratic Party joined the 2nd International led by Engels.
1.2. FIRST MOMENT OF CONTEMPORARY (IMPERIALIST) SWISS SOCIETY
During the final two decades of the 19th century, world capitalism develops into imperialism, that is, monopolistic, parasitic or decaying and moribund capitalism. Swiss capitalism is no different. Through the prestigious and dominant position of Swiss banking, Swiss bank capital is able to gain access to large amounts of capital from the colonial great powers, and thus Switzerland does not need to gain its own colonies. The capital invested in Swiss banks is used to transform industrial and agricultural enterprises into stock companies. Bank and industrial capital merges — financial capital appears.
In the labor movement, the emergence of Swiss imperialism has great repercussions. There is a general polarization of society and a sharpening of the class struggle. While small-scale production had previously dominated, large-scale production now becomes the main aspect. The Grütli Association‘s utopian socialism is no longer viable and it must formally adopt the title of a proletarian class organization, joining the Social-Democratic Party in 1902. In 1904, the Aarau Congress of the Social-Democratic Party is held, at which a marxist programme is adopted amidst great class struggles and repression.
In 1912, the 2nd International convenes its Extraordinary World Congress at Basle and adopts a Manifesto Against War. However, with the outbreak of the 1st World War in 1914, many Social-Democratic Parties betray the international proletariat under the slogan «defense of the homeland». At the initiative of the Social-Democratic Labor Party of Russia, headed by Lenin, the Social-Democratic Party of Switzerland convenes an international socialist conference at Zimmerwald in 1915, which condemns the social-patriots and the imperialist war. The Social-Democratic Party here is itself split into three factions — the Right being the Grütli Association, the Center being in the majority at Zimmerwald and headed by Robert Grimm, and the Left being in the minority at Zimmerwald and headed by Fritz Platten.
Lenin joined the Social-Democratic Party. At its Zürich Congress in 1916, on Lenin‘s proposal, the Right was expelled from the Party — which now makes Grimm‘s faction the Right, and Platten‘s the Center. Shortly thereafter, after a series of polemics against the revisionist Center of Grimm, Lenin was forced to leave for Russia due to the development of the revolution there.
The Great October Socialist Revolution would have great repercussions for the Swiss revolution. Immediately following its outbreak, the November Uprising took place in Zürich. Demonstrations against the war were transformed by the Left of the Party (headed by Kascher, Herzog and others) into supporting the October Revolution with illegal actions (shut-down of a munitions factory). Discontent grows within Grimm‘s Right of the Party and Platten‘s Center of the Party against the Left. The demonstrations turn into armed struggles and the Swiss armed forces, headed by the counter-revolutionary General Wille-Bismarck, occupy Zürich militarily.
After the November Uprising, the Party seemingly has unity around the need for a socialist revolution in Switzerland. Throughout 1918, the Party prepares for the General Strike of November 1918. The Left sees the General Strike as a means to advance the struggle for reorganizing the Party as a Communist Party (or alternatively, founding such a Party themselves) and for the establishment of council power. However, the strike, as predicted by the Left, is betrayed by Grimm after only four days. The Party Right and Center (including Platten) unite to expel the Left on the eve of the General Strike. At a public meeting, the Left proclaims the need for founding a Communist Party. Immediately thereafter, the communist leaders are arrested and the General Strike is smashed in deeds through military occupation, betrayal and massacres. Kascher drafts the Manifesto of the Communist Party of Switzerland in prison before her deportation to Council Russia, while Herzog drafts the Programme of the Party in prison as well.
In March 1919, the Swiss communist groups meet and decide to prepare for founding the Communist Party. At the same time, Kascher participates in the 1st World Congress of the Communist 3rd International on Lenin‘s invitation. She struggles against Platten‘s opportunism and proclaims the founding principles of the Communist Party, such as revolutionary violence, electoral boycott, the council system and the general arming of the people. On 25.05.1919, the Party is formally founded in Bienne, where the draft Manifesto and Programme are adopted and Herzog is elected Chairman of the Party while still imprisoned.
From 1919 to 1921, the revolutionary situation ebbs out, while the Communist Party under Herzog‘s leadership struggles to maintain the conquests of the revolution — mainly the workers‘ councils. The dual power continues to exist clandestinely in Zürich. But the Communist International insists on a merger of the Communist Party with the Left-social-democrats, despite the insistence of the Party that only individuals may apply for Party membership, not groups. The Party is forced by the International to accept a merger, which takes place at a Congress in March 1921. Here, the majority of social-democrats revise the marxist programme of the Party to water-down the final goal of communism and remove the communist principles of revolutionary violence and building the council system, replacing the correct tactic of electoral boycott with a parliamentary strategy that — if one reads between the lines — boils down to «first winning a majority in parliament, then building councils». The social-democrats headed by Welti and Platten liquidate the council power, usurp the Central Committee and negate Herzog‘s Leadership and the Party‘s guiding thought. This is the rise to power of the 1st Right-opportunist line.
Throughout the 1920s, a struggle against this revisionism unfolds in the Party. In the late 1920s, Herzog leads the Workers‘ Guard, the paramilitary organization of the Party, which he bases among the proletarians (regardless of Party affiliation) and which develops as a red faction. The Left headed by Herzog wins some important positions at the 5th Party Congress in 1930 and the 1st Right-opportunist line is removed from power. However, the Left is not strong enough to win power back, and the former Centrists (as well as easily-influenced novices) are put in power. They soon become the 2nd Right-opportunist line, headed by the Bukharinite Humbert-Droz. Herzog dies in an accident before the next Party Congress can be held, which is an immeasurable loss to our Party and the revolution. Humbert-Droz is later expelled for proposing to liquidate the Party into the Social-Democratic Party, but his faction continues to control the Party.
The struggle against the 2nd Right-opportunist line becomes very acute as the threat of a 2nd World War and a fascist government in Switzerland grows. Due to the threat of the Party being destroyed, the Left manages to impose that the Party be reorganized clandestinely, which is the case by 1940 at the latest. Of particular importance is that the Party had already partly been banned, and in the French-speaking region, they could only escape repression by liquidating into social-democratic organizations under the leadership of Léon Nicole. The Winterthur Party Committee represents the core of a new red faction, which includes both young comrades and members of Herzog‘s old guard.
In 1939, the 2nd World War breaks out. The Federal Assembly votes to approve emergency rule by the Federal Council and approves the election of Henri Guisan as General. This is the turning point leading to 13 years of fascist rule by decree in our homeland. The Communist Party is banned country-wide. Due to the risk of repression, most of the leaders of the 2nd Right-opportunist line can no longer direct the Party organizations. The Left gains new positions and begins putting forward its own line of clandestine organizing for the armed insurrection from within and the attack of the Red Army from without — the same strategy which was later successfully applied in countries like Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Armed sabotage actions are carried out in different cities, mainly by the Young Communist League, the Free Youth and the Socialist Youth, among others targeting German and Italian imperialism.
During the period of clandestinity, the 2nd Right-opportunist line, under the guise of the people‘s front and a return to semi-legality, attempts to liquidate the Party. The result is the declaration on 30.05.1943, taking advantage of the dissolution of the Communist International, that the Communist Party and Léon Nicole‘s Swiss Socialist Federation, as well as some Left-social-democrats, would merge into a single party — later called the «Party of Labor».
This open move toward the liquidation of the Party is rejected by the Left of the Party, who establish an Emergency Central Committee and convene a plenary session on 10.03.1945, which condemns the 2nd Right-opportunist line and expels its members from the Communist Party. At the same time, they reorganize the Party as the «International Communist Party of Switzerland». This does not manage to revive the Party, however — it is condemned by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which supports the liquidators, and by the 1950s, very few members of the «International Communist Party of Switzerland» remain.
1.3. SECOND MOMENT OF CONTEMPORARY (IMPERIALIST) SWISS SOCIETY
As the 2nd World War comes to an end, fascist rule continues in Switzerland. Swiss imperialism gains from having been «neutral» in the war, first having sided with French imperialism, then German imperialism and finally U.S. imperialism. But the world has been stirred up and struggles are breaking out everywhere — Switzerland has gained, but the imperialist system as a whole has lost. A new period of storms is opening up.
During the 1950s, the struggle between marxism and revisionism inside of the «Party of Labor» is protracted and largely under the surface. It is only with the Great Polemic between the Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the 1960s that it comes up to the surface. In 1963, an attempt is made to refound the Party by a group which claims adherence to Mao Zedong thought — the second such group outside of China, after the Communist Working Circle in Denmark.
But the leader of this group turns out to be an agent provocateur by the name of Gérard Boulliard. The Left, headed by Comrade Andersson, founds the Lenin Center in Lausanne in 1964. In 1967, the Organization of Communists of Switzerland/Marxist-Leninist is founded. At the same time, Comrade Andersson is expelled from Switzerland, much like Comrade Kascher previously. The Communist Party of Switzerland/Marxist-Leninist is founded in his absence in January 1972.
The Communist Party of Switzerland/Marxist-Leninist takes up Mao Zedong thought in name and begins to apply it in Switzerland. It manages to become a country-wide organization. However, while Andersson never takes up anti-maoist positions, even as he lives in exile in Albania, the Party degenerates into Deng Xiaoping-ism, even to the point of giving the imperialist Swiss military advice on how to better organize itself. At the same time, a different party, calling itself the Communist Party of Switzerland, emerges from a different Organization of Swiss Communists founded in 1969.
The situation in the 1960s and ‘70s is extremely complex and it is necessary to investigate it further. What is clear, however, is that the Communist Party of Switzerland/Marxist-Leninist begins soon after its founding to unfold as a 3rd Right-opportunist line, being completely revisionist by the time it supports the counter-revolution in China in 1976. The 3rd Right-opportunist line continues its process of degeneration right up until its dissolution into a Trotskyite-led organization in 1987.
In the 1970s, other forces begin to emerge in our homeland, new forces which take up the necessity of the Communist Party, take up the necessity of armed struggle and take up Mao Zedong thought — at least to some degree. The center of this new movement is the people who would later found the organization Revolutionary Construction. This organization is full of contradictions, acting as a double-edged sword for the Swiss communist movement.
On the one hand, Revolutionary Construction is fundamentally an amalgamation of various circles, which only «draws attention to the need for» refounding the Communist Party. Its entire work style and method contradicts the necessities of refounding the Party and it mainly serves to divert revolutionary energy into aimless anarchism.
On the other hand, Revolutionary Construction takes up proletarian internationalism in a very practical way. It acts as an outpost for the Communist Party of Peru in Europe, for the first time translating its documents into German and being the first to publish Chairman Gonzalo‘s works outside of Peru. It supports the people‘s war in Turkey/North Kurdistan, and one of its activists, Comrade Kinem (Barbara Kistler) becomes a fighter of the people‘s army of the Communist Party of Turkey (Marxist-Leninist), today the Maoist Communist Party, and she falls in the people‘s war. Revolutionary Construction, while obstructing the necessary work of refounding the Party, at the same time keeps marxism-leninism-maoism alive in our country.
2. ON THE GUIDING THOUGHT OF THE PARTY
From the above, it can be clearly seen that in the history of the Swiss proletariat and socialist revolution, the Communist Party of Switzerland was founded on a clear marxist basis by a defined historic Leadership (a group of leaders including Leonie Kascher and headed by Jakob Herzog), sustained in a guiding thought, which was the source of the historic basis of Party unity. It is also clear that revisionism has always fought and negated this historic Leadership, guiding thought and basis of Party unity, but that the red line has constantly fought to reimpose marxism in the ranks of the proletariat in our homeland.
Let us use the following outline to better grasp the historic guiding thought of the Communist Party of Switzerland.
2.1. HISTORICAL CONTEXT
The international context in which the guiding thought emerged was characterized by:
- The struggle against revisionism in the Socialist 2nd International, in particular at Zimmerwald.
- The 1st World War, an imperialist war for the redivision of the world.
- The Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia and the building of socialism in the Union of Socialist Council Republics.
- The first great wave of the proletarian world revolution, in which power was taken and lost in Germany, Hungary, Finland and other European countries.
The domestic context in which the guiding thought emerged was characterized by:
- The growing impoverishment of the Swiss people under the conditions of «neutrality» in the imperialist world war.
- The struggle against revisionism in the Social-Democratic Party.
- The revolutionary situation of 1917-19, in which the November Uprising and the General Strike took place and council power was conquered.
- The struggle to retain and consolidate council power during the revolutionary downswing.
2.2. IDEOLOGICAL BASIS
The ideological basis of the guiding thought was marxism-Lenin thought, mainly Lenin thought. That is to say, it was Lenin who personally shaped the comrades who would constitute the historic Leadership and found the Party, and this process took place on the basis of marxism and the ideas of Lenin. It is important to clarify that it was not on the basis of marxism-leninism, which would only be defined and synthesized by Stalin in 1924 — from this can be seen the origins of some deviations in the guiding thought.
Firstly, the content of the guiding thought is expressed in how it handles the marxist theory practically — an emphasis on the political aspect, on revolutionary strategy and tactics, on the role of the masses and their action in making the revolution. There is not an ounce of dogmatism in the thought of our historic Leadership.
Secondly, the content of the guiding thought is mainly contained within the articles of The Demand and later newspapers, the works of Jakob Herzog, the speeches and autobiography of Leonie Kascher and the documents of the Party during the period of 1919-21. The main part of its content is expressed in the Manifesto and Programme of the Party.
Thirdly, the content of the guiding thought is not structured and it contains contradictory aspects. In order to fulfill the first criterion established by Mao — theoretical coherence — it is necessary to correct the ideas in the guiding thought in the light of the marxism of today, marxism-leninism-maoism-Gonzalo thought. As for the criterion of a good understanding of history, Herzog concerned himself with the study of Swiss history, and it is necessary to study his works to grasp the guiding thought better. As for a practical handling of politics, nobody could accuse the founders of our Party of not having known how to listen to and lead the masses.
2.4. WHAT IS FUNDAMENTAL
What is fundamental in the guiding thought is the conquest and defense of political power by means of class war. Leonie Kascher expressed this in her famous statement: «There is one goal, the conquest of power!», which was expressed in the clear focus on the council system during the Swiss revolution of 1917-21. To move the masses to build up the council power and eliminate the power of the capitalist State by means of revolutionary violence, so that we may move toward socialism and communism — this basic thought runs through all the work and thought of our founders.
2.5. FORGING IN TWO-LINE STRUGGLE
The guiding thought was forged in the struggle of the red proletarian line against the white bourgeois lines inside of first the Social-Democratic Party and then the Communist Party; first under Lenin‘s leadership and then independently by the historic Red Faction. It is in the struggle against the social-patriotism of the Grütli Association, Grimm‘s capitulationism and the 1st Right-opportunist line that the guiding thought was forged; it was in the struggle against the 2nd and 3rd Right-opportunist lines that experiences were made which will greatly enrich the guiding thought once lessons are drawn from them. […]
3. THESES ON REFOUNDING THE PARTY
3.1. THE MAIN CONTRADICTION
The main contradiction in refounding the Communist Party of Switzerland is (marxism ↔ revisionism). More specifically, it is (guiding thought ↔ historical revisionism), (correct aspects of guiding thought ↔ incorrect aspects of guiding thought), (marxism-leninism-maoism-Gonzalo thought ↔ domestic revisionism), (marxism-leninism-maoism-Gonzalo thought ↔ international revisionism) and (marxism-leninism-maoism-Gonzalo thought and guiding thought ↔ internal revisionism). «Refounding the Party […] is, in sum, a struggle against revisionism», as Gonzalo pointed out. In terms of the struggle against revisionism to refound the Party, fighting revisionism in our own ranks is the main task because this revisionism is the main danger for us.
3.2. THE KEY TO REFOUNDING THE PARTY
The key to refounding the Communist Party of Switzerland is to identify, retake and further develop («correct» and «modernize») the guiding thought of the Party in the light of the marxism of today — marxism-leninism-maoism-Gonzalo thought, mainly Gonzalo thought. That is not just to say that we must do this with the historic guiding thought, but also with the red line generally in the entire history of the Swiss proletariat, from Johann Philipp Becker through the historic Leadership to the Winterthur Committee and Nils Andersson. Without reestablishing the historic basis of Party unity on a modern footing, it will not be possible to refound the Party.
3.3. THE PARTICULARITY OF REFOUNDING THE PARTY
Unlike in countries where the Party was refounded by a red faction acting inside of a previously existing Party organization, the Communist Party of Switzerland has actually been organizationally liquidated by revisionism. Therefore, it falls to the Red Faction not to liquidate itself into one of the rump organizations claiming to descend from the Party, such as the «Party of Labor» or the 4th Right-opportunist line social-patriots in Tessin (the aspiring fifth column of Russian and Chinese imperialism), but to shoulder the task of refounding the Communist Party on its own.
The main difference between refounding the Party on our own and acting within the Party organization is that we have to face the task of rebuilding the liquidated Party organizations and building new ones as well — not win them over from revisionists controlling them. This task is daunting, but can be carried out according to the red line from the beginning, which is an advantage.