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The New International, November 1934


The Conflict in the OSP

From New International, Vol. I No. 4, November 1934, pp. 117–118.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE Amsterdam disturbances of July 4 to 10 brought to light the latent antagonisms within the OSP [Onafhankelik Sosialisties Partij: Independent Socialist Party of Holland]. They split the OSP into the camps of two factions fighting each other with increasing sharpness. This struggle ended with a victory of the Left wing under the leadership of P.J. Schmidt and the expulsion of the Right wing, led by Sal. Tas and de Kadt.

Whereas at the beginning of the disturbances the greatest unanimity prevailed in the leadership of the OSP, which expressed itself in a leaflet published for the whole country – in which the OSP placed itself behind the protesting unemployed, demanded the broadening of the action throughout the land and called upon the workers to strike in solidarity – the Right wing became terror-stricken in the further course of the action. As the sharp terror of the government made the resistance of the unemployed seem more and more hopeless, and large-scale action and solidarity strikes failed to materialize, the Right wing leaders, de Kadt and Sal. Tas hastened to disown their former standpoint and to throw off all responsibility. In the Fakkel, organ of the OSP, of July 10, they explicitly separated themselves from the views of P.J. Schmidt, the party’s leader.

This article, in which de Kadt called the desperate resistance of the unemployed against the unprecedented attack of the government upon their already meager support, a “brawl and a barricade action, a typical Stalinist undertaking”, and in which he concluded by designating the “communist danger” as the “main enemy”, was justly received by the OSP workers, persecuted by the police and fighting side by side with the unemployed, as a stab in the back. A hail of protests against this article descended upon the party leadership.

The committee session of July 16, at which vehement disputes took place between P.J. Schmidt and Sal. Tas, was a favorable opportunity for the latter to resign from her momentarily inconvenient positions. This she did in a shabby declaration on July 17. One day later Schmidt was arrested for his “inciting” articles in the Fakkel. Sal. Tas and de Kadt now sniffed something in the air. At a committee meeting they made a declaration acknowledging their withdrawal as an error and saying they were ready to resume their work. In their pamphlet they say on this point:

“... Now the OSP was a ship without a captain and we returned with the intention of steering it through the breakers.”

It immediately became clear how they intended to steer the OSP ship through the breakers, namely, into a calm and safe harbor, far from the class struggle and the hands of the state power. Their aim was first to cripple the Left wing of the party. However, they reckoned without the host. Every attempt to defame the arrested and universally beloved Schmidt, to depict him as a romanticist and a martyr (in quotation marks!), and to convince the membership of Schmidt’s stupidity and their own – de Kadt’s and Sal. Tas’ – erudition and the correctness of their defeatist conceptions, proved to be a failure. It became plainer every day that their articles were nothing but dyed-in-the-wool reformism draped with revolutionary and scholarly phrases.

The increasingly strong protest of the OSP workers soon compelled Sal. Tas and de Kadt to resign their posts for good and to withdraw from the editorial board of the Fakkel. The two then put out an Open Letter to the Members of the OSP in which they sought to justify their policy and to instruct the OSP members in the most supercilious manner. At the very outset, their pamphlet remarked that the Amsterdam events had had “a very limited significance in the long run and very limited effects”. Nevertheless, in order to make the distance between themselves and Schmidt as obvious as possible, they treat the whole question in their further remarks as if it had not been a question of a resistance of the unemployed against relief cuts which was brutally suppressed by the state power, but rather as a spontaneous attempt of the “Stalinized” masses to seize power. The majority of the OSP supporters, who supported to the maximum of their forces and sought to extend the resistance, which, moreover, was conducted by the unemployed without weapons, are characterized by de Kadt and Sal. Tas as “gangsters”, “adventurers, slum proletarians”; the Left wing leaders became “hysterical persons”. In the opinion of the two, the “revolutionary party could have conquered the respect of the masses” only if it “had unhesitatingly counterposed its thoughts, its insight [!] and its slogans to the instincts of the masses”.

And what do the thoughts and the insight of the revolutionary party look like, according to de Kadt and Sal. Tas? Summarized, as follows: The defeat of the proletariat has become inevitable in all countries, Holland included. The power of resistance of the proletariat has been paralyzed by reformism and Stalinism to such an extent that the defeat is inevitable. This is de Kadt’s perspective.

Only under, the pressure of the defeats will the best elements of the socialist movement develop into a cadre which has sufficient insight and sufficient toughness to be able to provide leadership in the future.” Thus the Open Letter. The task of the OSP, as the “revolutionary party”, thus consists, according to de Kadt and Co., not in preparing and carrying out the struggle against Fascism, but in further paralyzing the fighting power of the proletariat and in reinforcing defeatist moods by the philosophy of the inevitability of the Fascist victory. Its task consists exclusively in preparing itself for the defeat, that is, above all and in the first place – Sal. Tas and de Kadt continue, and not by accident, to repeat this constantly – to safeguard the leaders, and for the rest, to engage all the members in a study of the Communist Manifesto and Capital, and to counteract the revolutionary instincts of the masses.

The deepest contempt for the masses and the deepest disbelief in the forces which slumber in the proletariat, are the essential hallmarks of the “insight” of these terrified Right Centrists. The notions they have of the essence of the revolutionary party is shown by their attitude to party discipline.

“In a party consisting of cadres, the greatest possible freedom of thought and discussion must exist with regard to all questions relating to policies, and discipline should apply mainly to organisational, technical questions which are, of course, entirely subordinated to policies.”

Here too, evidently, the wish is the father to the thought. Under the banner of “freedom of criticism”, de Kadt and Sal. Tas would like to smuggle their opportunistic, defeatist “theories” into the OSP and in this manner prevent its evolution to a revolutionary, communist party. The working class members of the OSP understood quite well what these gentlemen, who have been enthusiastically applauded by the Dutch social democracy, really want, and they lost no time in giving them the air. The liberation of the party from such elements as de Kadt and Sal. Tas undoubtedly signifies a step forward. There is reason to expect that a closer rapproachment will again take place between the OSP and the Revolutionary Socialist Party: another serious step forward to the Fourth International.

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