Proletarian Internationalism Demands Initiating Reorganization of the Communist International
Proletarian Internationalism Demands Initiating Reorganization of the Communist International.
Edited by: K N Ramachandran
- Uphold Proletarian Internationalism, Intensify Efforts to Rebuild Communist International – KN Ramachandran.
- LENIN On the Collapse of the Second International.
- Lenin: Opportunism, and the Collapse of the Second International
- Lenin: First Congress of the Communist International, 2nd to 6th March, 1919.
- Lenin: THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL AND ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
- Lenin: THE SECOND CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
- LENIN: FIVE YEARS OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION AND THE PROSPECTS OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION
- ECCI: Statement: Dissolution of the Communist International
- THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL AND THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY -- Zhou Enlai
On the occasion of the Centenary of the Communist International formation, the Red Star Publications is bringing out this collection of articles, with the prime intention of re-establishing the Marxist-Leninist orientation demanding energetic efforts for the rebuilding of the CI, dissolved in 1943, according to present concrete conditions.
This is a cardinal task before the revolutionary forces today. For, if the opportunism of the old brand of social democrats during the Second International led to its liquidation, the present day social democrats are also indulging in all heinous efforts, not only to spread their revisionist gospels, but also to scuttle all efforts for the rebuilding of the Communist International. Along with them, there are various hues of pseudo- Marxist forces who are propagating against the CI and its rebuilding by vulgarizing its history and contributions. The revisionists as well as the left sectarians are going against the basic tenets of proletarian internationalism.
Presently, when internationalization of production and of finance capital is taking place at maddening pace, the efforts of the bourgeoisie to rebuild the world in its own image are intensifying day by day, the significance of rebuilding the CI ideologically, politically and organizationally according to present conditions has become one of the cardinal tasks before the Marxist-Leninists
So, when the proletarian internationalism demands energetic efforts for rebuilding the Communist International, let us observe the Centenary of its formation to intensify the efforts in this direction. It does not mean creating a copy or replica of the CI reconstituted in 1919. Firstly, it should be rebuilt according to present concrete situation, taking in to consideration the vast changes that have taken place in the objective conditions during the last century, especially after the dissolution of the CI. Secondly, it should be rebuilt based on a thorough evaluation of the experience of the CI during the 24 years of its existence. Thirdly, it should be taken up as a process involving ever increasing number of the Marxist-Leninist parties and Organizations and through continuous deliberations among them. It is based on these concepts the International Coordination of the Revolutionary Parties and Organizations is constituted as an initial step towards rebuilding the CI. The whole process calls for serious discussions among the constituents as well as all other revolutionary organizations which have not become part of this process still.
We present this book with the hope that it will help advancing the discussions towards this direction.
Red Star Publications.
- Uphold Proletarian Internationalism; Intensify Efforts to Rebuild Communist International!
The 2nd March, 2019, marks the centenary of the Communist International (CI) launched under the leadership of Lenin a hundred years ago with the slogan Workers and Oppressed Peoples of the World Unite. Presently when the imperialists of all hues and their lackeys are intensifying their neocolonial/neoliberal attacks on all classes and sections of toiling masses all over the world through counter revolutionary ultra rightist, neo-fascist offensive, the importance of the slogan Workers and All Oppressed Peoples of the World Unite has increased manifold. Of course, the vast spectrum of all left, who wave the red flag, ranging from the social democrats on the one hand to the left adventurists and anarchists on the other, shall also be observing this centenary of the CI. But, with their opportunist interpretations, almost all of them have in practice abandoned the significance of rebuilding the CI according to present concrete conditions. This is yet another cardinal point on which the Communist Revolutionary (CR) forces basically differ from them.
The CR forces like the CPI (ML) Red Star uncompromisingly uphold the historic significance of the slogan raised by Marx and Engels in Communist Manifesto: Workers of the World Unite against the international system of capitalism. They continuously strive to learn lessons from the experience of the First, Second and Third (Communist) Internationals and to rebuild it according to the conditions and needs of the present situation. The experience of the CPI (ML) Red Star during the last four decades, started with issuing the joint statement of six revolutionary organizations in 1979 upholding Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and denouncing the usurpation of power by the capitalist roaders in China immediately after the death of Mao. Then we struggled against the erroneous concepts put forward by the RCP(USA) while building the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) and dissociated from it because of them. Following it, after becoming a constituent of the broad platform of International Conference of Marxist Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO), we proceeded to play an important role in the formation of the International Coordination of the Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR) in 2011 along with the MLPD (Germany) and other revolutionary forces.
For us in the CPI (ML) Red Star, observing the Centenary of the CI is not a ritual or mere academic exercise, but an organic process. It entails taking lessons from the experiences of the First and Second Internationals, from the collapse of the Second International, from the founding of the CI, its experience till its dissolution in 1943, the experience of the Cominform, the repeated efforts by the revisionists of all hues to defame proletarian internationalism in practice which has influenced the large number of social democratic forces whose concept of proletarian internationalism is limited to occasional international conferences for issuing joint statements devoid of any practice, the struggle against the erroneous concepts that emerged in the Communist Party of China against rebuilding the CI which has influenced vast sections of the Marxist-Leninist forces that emerged in the 1960s, and our four decades long struggles which have reached the phase of building ICOR as a step towards the rebuilding of the CI. So, for the struggling communist forces, the observation of the Centenary of CI is an opportunity for intensifying the campaign for rebuilding the CI according to present conditions and challenges.
The capitalist system had emerged and strengthened as an international exploitative system by the time of 18th century. As the newly emerged working class was reduced to wage slavery, they were forced to wage numerous struggles. Initially utopian socialist and anarchist streams of thoughts were dominating them. It was by challenging them, the theory of scientific socialism, of class struggle, and the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat were put forward. By that time, as pointed out in the beginning of the Communist Manifesto, all the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies joined hands against the spectre haunting Europe -- the spectre of Communism. The Manifesto concluded with the declaration: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!”
In order to put this call in to practice, the Communist League, an international association of workers was formed which commissioned Marx and Engels, at the Congress held in London in November 1847, to draw up for publication a detailed theoretical and practical program of the Party. Such was the origin of the Communist Manifesto. The International Workingmen's Association (IWA), often called the First International (1864–1876), was formed based on the orientation provided by the Manifesto as an international organization which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist groups and trade unions that were based on the working class and class struggle. It was founded in 1864 in a workmen's meeting held in St. Martin's Hall, London. Its First Congress was held in 1866 in Geneva.
Marx agreed to outline the purpose of the organization. The General Rules of the International Workingmen's Association was published in October 1864. Marx's introduction pointed out what they hoped to achieve: "That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves, that the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule... That the emancipation of labor is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries."
Marx pointed out: "The International was founded in order to replace the socialist and semi-socialist sects with a genuine organization of the working class for its struggle..” Along with many revolutionary movements which broke out in Europe, the Franco-German war led to the uprising in March 1871and to the Paris Commune. In spite of its great contributions to create a new form of society, the Commune was suppressed by the joint might of the bourgeoisie.
But the anarchists and the opportunists were not ready to take lessons from this experience. At the Hague congress a report was presented advocating the stand of anarchists and trying to establish a secret society within the IWMA. Marx wrote in 1874 that "in England the International is for the time being as good as dead". However, it was not until 1876 that the IWMA was officially dissolved. After this it became known as the First International.
Not disheartened with the dissolution of the First International, efforts were continuing for its rebuilding. The Second International (1889–1916) (SI), as an organization of socialist and labour parties was formed in Paris on 14 July 1889. At the Paris meeting, delegations from twenty countries participated. The International continued the work of the dissolved First International. It was during the Second International the 1889 declaration of 1 May (May Day) as International Workers' Day and its 1910 declaration of the International Women's Day, first celebrated on 19 March and then on 8 March after the main day of the women's marches in 1917 during the Russian Revolution.
During this period the capitalist system had transformed to monopoly capitalism, imperialism, on the evaluation of which sharp differences emerged among the constituents. The imperialist powers had, in the main, completed the territorial division of the countries under colonial domination and the new contradiction for the re-division of the world among them went on intensifying. As the focus of plunder shifted from against the working class of their own countries to the natural resources and labour of the colonized countries, the imperialists by sharing a small part of this loot, could win over increasing sections of labour aristocracy to pacifist positions.
Lenin explained the significance of the period represented by the SI as follows: “The First International laid the foundation of the proletarian, international struggle for socialism. The SI marked a period in which the soil was prepared for the broad, mass spread of the movement in a number of countries.” The Congresses of the SI in 1891 and 1896 carried resolutions against war and armaments. The Resolution of the Zurich Congress of 1893 called on all socialist parliamentary representatives to vote against war credits, and adopted the demand for disarmament. The Paris Congress in 1900 adopted a Resolution, moved by Rosa Luxemburg, against militarism and colonialism, which exposed the roots of these and of War in capitalist imperialist period, and set concrete tasks for the fight; First, to vote against all military and naval estimates, or colonial expenditure; second, to train the youth in anti-militarism; third, for simultaneous demonstrations in all countries in the event of an international crisis developing.
At the Stuttgart Congress of 1907 the question of war dominated all issues. Its Resolution urged: “If a war threatens to break out, it is the duty of the working class and of its parliamentary representatives in the countries involved to exert every effort to prevent the outbreak of war, using all appropriate means, which naturally vary and rise according to the degree of sharpening of the class struggle and of the general political agitation. Should war nonetheless break out, it is their duty to intervene to bring it promptly to an end, and to strive with all their energies to utilize the economic and political crisis brought about by the war in order to stir up politically the masses of the people and hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule.” The Resolution was carried unanimously.
At Basle Congress in 1912 a manifesto was adopted, which emphasized the revolutionary meaning of these decisions. But when the imperialist war actually broke out in August 1914, the parties of the SI voted with their respective imperialist governments for conducting the war. Only the Bolshevik Party in Russia led by Lenin, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg in Germany and a few others voted against war. Though the struggle continued in the Zimmerwald Conference of 1915 and in the conference at Kienthal of 1916 against the opportunist trend under the leadership of Lenin, the liquidation of the SI could not be prevented. The struggle waged by Lenin against the liquidationists is explained in detail in the two articles given as appendix in this booklet.
In 1916 “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” was published in which Lenin scientifically explained the transformation of capitalism to imperialism, the class analysis and nature of contradictions in the new era, and the shifting of the centre of revolution to the ‘weak links of imperialism like Russia’. Based on these, Lenin developed the strategy and tactics of revolution in Russia, developed the Bolshevik Party capable of leading this revolution by struggling against the Mensheviks and Narodniks, and led the October Revolution to victory. Soon the Soviet Union was formed and the socialist transformation was launched. As the imperialist powers were alarmed by these developments, they ended the First World War, and jointly tried to destroy the first socialist country. In the middle of all these crucial developments, recognizing the significance of reorganizing the SI assimilating the developments following its liquidation by the opportunist forces, Lenin spent precious time to launch the Third (Communist) International (Comintern) with its First Congress starting from 2nd March, 1919.
Lenin’s preliminary draft thesis contained the essential guidelines for developing an integrated theory, strategy and tactics of socialist revolution in the imperialist countries and democratic revolution in the colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries. He pointed out (1) clear distinction between reformist and revolutionary tendencies in the national liberation movement, fighting the former; (2) adapting the Soviet idea to the specific conditions of the democratic revolution in these countries, and (3) indicating how this revolution can pass over to socialist revolution avoiding the capitalist stage.
The significance of the Second Congress in 1920 was that it worked out the political line of the World Communist Movement in the struggle against imperialism according to the then concrete conditions when revolution looked possible in Germany and few other countries. It gave guidelines for establishing a lasting alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry and the national liberation movement of the oppressed peoples, closed the door of the Comintern to opportunists, mapped out ways for rectifying leftist errors in the communist movement and set the task of strengthening the communist parties ideologically and organizationally, strengthening their ties with the masses. With the Second Congress adopting the 21 ‘conditions’ and the statutes, the Comintern assumed its organizational shape as ‘united world party of the international proletariat’.
As far as the perspective put forward by Lenin is concerned, the primary task was to advance towards World proletarian Socialist Revolution’ with Soviet Union (SU) serving as its base. Building socialism in SU should serve this international task. With this spirit the building of communist and workers parties was taken up with urgency all over the world. Besides Marxist-Leninist literature was made available in most of the languages. International forums of the workers, women, youth etc were launched. Students from most of the countries were given opportunity to take up studies in SU and learn from the Soviet experience. On the whole, Comintern served as the anti-imperialist centre for the world people.
During these post-War years, the crisis faced by the imperialist system went on intensifying. It took a dangerous turn by the 1930s with the finance capital reaching a period of Great Depression. Coupled with the inter-imperialist contradiction for re-division of the colonies, it led to the emergence of ultra rightist, fascist forces to power in a number of countries led by Nazi Germany. In his speech to 7th Congress, CI’s general secretary Dimitrov explained: “Comrades, as early as the Sixth Congress , the Communist International warned the world proletariat that a new fascist offensive was under way and called for a struggle against it. With the general crisis of capitalism becoming sharply accentuated, the ruling bourgeoisie more and more sought salvation in fascism, with the object of taking exceptional predatory measures against the working people, preparing for an imperialist war of plunder, attacking the Soviet Union, and by all these means preventing revolution”.
Fascism in power was defined as: “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital”. His Report added: “But whatever the masks that fascism adopts, whatever the forms in which it presents itself, whatever the ways by which it comes to power
- Fascism is a most ferocious attack by capital on the mass of the working people;
- Fascism is unbridled chauvinism and predatory war;
- Fascism is rabid reaction and counter-revolution;
- Fascism is the most vicious enemy of the working class and of all working people”.
In order to combat this increasing danger, the Report called for: “..striving to establish the widest united front with the aid of joint action by workers' organizations of different trends for the defense of the vital interests of the laboring masses. This means:
- First, joint struggle really to shift the burden of the consequences of the crisis onto the shoulders of the ruling classes, the shoulders of the capitalists and landlords -- in a word, onto the shoulders of the rich.
- Second, joint struggle against all forms of the fascist offensive, in defense of the gains and the rights of the working people, against the abolition of bourgeois-democratic liberties.
- Third, joint struggle against the approaching danger of an imperialist war, a struggle that will make the preparation of such a war more difficult.
We must tirelessly prepare the working class for a rapid change in forms and methods of struggle when there is a change in the situation”
In spite of this, in the main, correct tactical line put forward, including the call for independent communist assertion, as the fascist offensive led by Nazis aggravated to open attack on the SU, the Comintern changed its stand. It analyzed that the anti-imperialist, anti-war stand should be changed to the line of people’s War against the fascist axis powers. The SU put forward ‘defense of the fatherland’ as the strategic slogan. All united front tactics were changed accordingly. Though the SU could be saved and crushing defeat could be inflicted on the fascist forces, how far the tactics adopted during the War and in the years following the War, as well as the dissolution of the CI in 1943 helped the advance of the forces of revolution at a time when the US led imperialist camp was launching an all out offensive to impose its hegemony in all fields calls for serious evaluation.
When the Second Congress of the Comintern took the decision to build it as a ‘united world party of the international proletariat’, the CPSU was the only leading party and the possibility for revolution breaking out in a number of countries had looked imminent. But soon the international scene had changed with the imperialists re-establishing their dominance. Along with this, in the following decades many communist parties emerged which were leading the revolutionary struggles in their country. They were developing their tactical line according to conditions in their country. As pointed out in the Statement dissolving the Comintern in 1943 itself:“The Seventh Congress of the Communist International held in 1935, taking into consideration the changes which had come to pass in the international situation as well as in the labor movement, changes which demanded greater flexibility and independence for its sections in solving the problems facing them , then emphasized the need for the E.C.C.I., when deciding upon all problems of the labor movement, “to proceed from the concrete situation and specific conditions obtaining in each particular country and as a rule avoid direct intervention in internal organizational matters of the Communist Parties.”
According to this 1943 Statement: “Proceeding from the above-stated considerations, and taking into account the growth and political maturity of the Communist Parties and their leading cadres in individual countries, and also in view of the fact that during the present war a number of sections have raised the question of dissolution of the Communist International”, after seeking opinion of the presidium members, the ECCI decided to dissolve the Comintern in June, 1943.
As pointed out in the beginning, in spite of so many pressing problems soon after the October Revolution, the CPSU under Lenin’s leadership took urgent steps by 1919 to launch the Third (Communist) International, convening its First Congress. Its Second Congress was convened which took significant decisions when possibilities for revolutionary upsurges were visible in number of countries. Even when these possibilities subsided soon and the imperialist forces once again started taking aggressive positions, the 3rd and 4th Congresses were convened in 1921 and 1922 and Lenin played active role in developing the Colonial Thesis. Though Lenin could not attend, he had prepared the ground work for the 5th Congress in 1924 also. But after Lenin’s death, the 6th Congress was convened only in 1928, and the function of the Comintern was mostly carried out by the ECCI. The 7th Congress was convened only in 1935 and the CI was dissolved in 1943. It shows that during Stalin’s period adequate regular attention was not given to analyze the unfolding situation and to amend the structure of Comintern according to the new situation. Besides, though constant discussions among the leaders of the communist parties were required to develop the strategy and tactics to be followed in the fast changing new situation, it did not take place. So, the form and content of the Comintern could not be developed according to the needs of the fast changing world situation, The differences in the approach to various problems went on increasing, creating a situation when the CI had to be dissolved. Communist parties should learn from this.
In the very year in which the CI was dissolved, the US imperialists convened the Brettenwood Conference and decided to launch the IMF and World Bank in preparation for the neocolonial offensive it had started planning. By 1945 while nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the other hand, the UN was launched, along with the Human Rights Declaration on the other. The post- WW 2 years saw the US-led imperialist camp initiating the ‘decolonization’, replacing colonization with more pernicious neo-colonization. The imperialist plan was to fight the mighty socialist offensive through an admixture of counter-revolutionary and reformist measures.
In order to defend and expand the socialist gains, a revolutionary offensive was called for. The rebuilding of the CI according to the needs of the post-War situation was an important step needed. Launching of the Cominform in 1947, launching of the World Peace Movement against US led aggressions, struggle against revisionist stand of Yugoslav leadership, resisting US led aggression in North Korea etc were positive steps taken in these years by the socialist camp against the imperialist offensive. But a theoretical offensive was needed analyzing the transformation taking place in the content and strategy of imperialist system, about its post-War plans and by putting forward the socialist alternative against the counter revolutionary offensive of the imperialist camp. Concrete steps were needed to go beyond Cominform for rebuilding the CI according to new situation.
But, instead of taking up this challenge, the post-Stalin leadership in SU, based on basically erroneous evaluation that the imperialist camp has become weaker and a ‘peaceful transition is possible to socialism’, embraced class-collaborationist line, betraying the ICM. Even the Cominform wast abandoned. The meetings of the communist and workers parties in 1957 and 1960 could not yield any positive results, except postponing an inevitable split. As a result of all these, rom the great heights it had reached in early 1950s, within a few years the ICM fell to total disarray, with most of the communist parties formed during the Comintern period tailing behind the Soviet revisionist line put forward by Krushchov.
It was at this time, in continuation to the struggle waged during the 1957 and 1960 Moscow conferences, in 1963 the CPC came out with the Great Debate documents, putting forward the General Line of the ICM based on the concrete analysis of the contemporary situation and out rightly rejecting the Soviet revisionist line. It was supported by PLA of Albania like parties and the Marxist-Leninist forces emerging in large number of countries in the 1960s. The CPC could take initiative to convene a meeting of these forces based on the General Line document and try to form at least a platform of these forces as an initial step towards rebuilding the CI. But sighting the bad influence under the Comintern, it refused to do so, limiting its fraternal relations to party to party talks. After usurpation of power by the capitalist roaders reducing it to a social imperialist power, the CPC was interested only to use those organizations tailing behind it and eulogizing it as its propagandists.
Presently, when the imperialists of all hues are intensifying neo-colonial/neo-liberal offensive, leading to ultra rightist, neo-fascist forces coming to dominance in increasing number of countries, when the internationalization of production is the intensifying phenomena, the significance of rebuilding the communist international to challenge the imperialist system and to create conditions for internationally united initiative for revolutionary advances have unprecedentedly increased. But, not only such a unity is taking place, but numerous pseudo theories are put forward to oppose any unity efforts.
For example, though the revisionist parties present in almost all countries who have become parties serving the ruling system, convene international conferences and issue pseudo left statements, they are consistently opposing formation of any international organization. Though on the extreme left, the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) was formed in the 1980s, and it had advanced the concept of Maoism, it has become almost dysfunctional now. The international platform created by the forces upholding the Hoxhaite line is limited to issuing joint statements. The large number of ML forces between the social democratic and extreme left forces, even while claiming to uphold proletarian internationalism, are against putting it to practice in any form. For justification they misquote the Statement dissolving the Comintern, or articles of Chou Enlai like leaders opposing any form of international communist organization. So, even though many of them may observe the Centenary of the Comintern, in practice, they are against any more internationals or even building broad platforms!
The CPI(ML) Red Star approaches this problem of rebuilding the Communist Internal upholding proletarian internationalism as a question of paramount importance, as a task to be taken up based on basic Marxist-Leninist positions. As far as Marx and Engels were concerned, after putting forward their analysis of capitalism as a global system, right from the beginning they called for, and worked for the formation and development of the First International for the overthrow of it and to advance towards socialist future. So, when the international developments, and the struggle within the FI, called for its dissolution, it was dissolved, and within a decade it was reorganized as Second International. When the opportunist tendencies led to its liquidation, analyzing the transformation of capitalism to imperialism, according to the need of the new situation Lenin led the struggle for reorganizing the SI as the Third (Communist) International very soon. In spite all the weaknesses later, it contributed enormously for the great advances made by the socialist forces by the 1950s. When we look back 76 years after its dissolution in 1943, it is not difficult to understand that absence of any major initiative for its rebuilding, learning from its positive contributions and weaknesses, played a major role in leading to the severe setbacks suffered by the communist movement. Objective reality demands such a platform to help the people’s democratic/socialist revolutions in the neo-colonially dependent and capitalist countries to lead the world socialist revolution forward. This basic understanding has guided us right from the time the reorganization of the CPI(ML) was taken up by us four decades ago, as a matter of primary importance.
As far as rebuilding the CI is concerned, the formation and functioning of the ICOR is only a beginning. Observing the Centenary of the formation of the Communist International in an inspired manner, let us study from its past experience, and take up its rebuilding as a process according to the present realities, always giving emphasis to the theoretical offensive and to seeking truth from facts, so that World proletarian Socialist Revolution can march forward!
Uphold Proletarian Internationalism; Intensify Efforts to Rebuild Communist International as Mighty Weapon for Victory of World Proletarian Socialist Revolution!
3.. V. I. LENIN
On the Collapse of the Second International.
[In 1915 Lenin wrote extensively on the collapse of the Second International (SI), refuting the positions of the opportunist trend which had came in to control of it, leading to its liquidation. This lengthy analysis written in the middle of 1915, analyze the whole history of the SI and how the opportunist came in to dominance once the War broke out in 1914 going against the Sttutgart and Basle Resolutions. We are reproducing only the last part he wrote summarizing the in depth analysus]
The collapse of the Second International has been most strikingly expressed in the flagrant betrayal of their convictions and of the solemn Stuttgart and Basle resolutions
by the majority of the official Social-Democratic parties of Europe. This collapse, however, which signifies the complete victory of opportunism, the transformation of the Social- Democratic parties into national liberal-labour parties, is merely the result of the entire historical epoch of the Second International—the close of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. The objective conditions of this epoch—transitional from the consummation of West-European bourgeois and national revolutions to the beginning of socialist revolutions engendered and fostered opportunism. During this period we see a split in the working- class and socialist movement in some European countries, which, in the main, was cleavage along the line of opportunism (Britain, Italy, Holland, Bulgaria and Russia); in other countries, we see a long and stubborn struggle of trends along the same line (Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland). The crisis created by the great war has torn away all coverings, swept away conventions, exposed an abscess that has long come to a head, and revealed opportunism in its true role of ally of the bourgeoisie. The complete organisational severance of this element from the workers’ parties has become imperative. The epoch of imperialism cannot permit the existence, in a single party, of the revolutionary proletariat’s vanguard and the semi-petty-bourgeois aristocracy of the working class, who enjoy morsels of the privileges of their “own” nation’s “Great-Power” status.
The old theory that opportunism is a “legitimate shade” in a single party that knows no “extremes” has now turned into a tremendous deception of the workers and a tremendous hindrance to the working-class movement. Undisguised opportunism, which immediately repels the working masses, is not so frightful and injurious as this theory of the golden mean, which uses Marxist catchwords to justify opportunist
practice, and tries to prove, with a series of sophisms, that revolutionary action is premature, etc. Kautsky, the most outstanding spokesman of this theory, and also the leading authority in the Second International, has shown himself a consummate hypocrite and a past master in the art of prostituting Marxism. All members of the million-strong German party who are at all honest, class-conscious and revolutionary have turned away in indignation from an “authority” of this kind so ardently defended by the Südekums and the Scheidemanns.
The proletarian masses—probably about nine-tenths of whose former leaders have gone over to the bourgeoisie—have found themselves disunited and helpless amid a spate of chauvinism and under the pressure of martial law and the war censorship. But the objective war-created revolutionary situation, which is extending and developing, is inevitably engendering revolutionary sentiments; it is tempering and enlightening all the finest and most class-conscious proletarians. A sudden change in the mood of the masses is not only possible, but is becoming more and more probable, a change similar to that which was to be seen in Russia early in 1905 in connection with the “Gaponade”, when, in the course of several months and sometimes of several weeks, there emerged from the backward proletarian masses an army of millions, which followed the proletariat’s revolutionary vanguard. We cannot tell whether a powerful revolutionary movement will develop immediately after this war, or during it, etc., but at all events, it is only work in this direction that deserves the name of socialist work. The slogan of a civil war is the one that summarises and directs this work, and helps unite and consolidate those who wish to aid the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against its own government and its own bourgeoisie.
In Russia, the complete severance of the revolutionary Social-Democratic proletarian elements from the petty-bourgeois opportunist elements has been prepared by the entire history of the working-class movement. Those who disregard that history, and, by declaiming against “factionalism”, make themselves incapable of understanding the real process of the formation of a proletarian party in Russia, which has developed in the course of many years of struggle against various varieties of opportunism, are rendering that movement the worst possible service. Of all the “Great” Powers engaged in the present war, Russia is the only one that recently experienced a revolution. The bourgeois content of that revolution, in which the proletariat nevertheless played a decisive part, could not but cause a split between the bourgeois and proletarian trends in the working-class movement.
In the approximately twenty years (1894-1914) that Russian
Social-Democracy has existed as an organisation linked with the mass working-class movement (and not only as an ideological trend, as in 1883-94), there was a struggle between the proletarian-revolutionary trends and the petty-bourgeois, opportunist trends. The Economism of 1894-1902 was undoubtedly a trend of the latter kind. A number of its arguments and ideological features—the “Struvist distortion of Marxism, references to the “masses’ in order to justify opportunism, and the like—bear a striking resemblance to the present vulgarised Marxism of Kautsky, Cunow, Plekhanov, etc. It would be a very grateful task to remind the present Generation of Social-Democrats of the old Rabochaya Mysl and Rabocheye Dyelo, as a parallel to the Kautsky of today. The “Menshevism”of the next period (1903-08) was the direct successor, Both ideological and organisational,to Economism. During the Russian revolution, it pursued tactics that objectively meant the dependence of the proletariat upon the liberal bourgeoisie, and expressed petty-bourgeois, opportunist trends. When, in the ensuing period (1908-14), the mainstream of the Menshevik trend produced liquidation-
ism, the class significance of that trend became so apparent that the best representatives of Menshevism were continually protesting against the policy of Nasha Zarya group. It is that very group—the only one which, during the past five or six years, has conducted systematic work among the masses in opposition to the revolutionary Marxist party of the working class—that has proved to be social-chauvinist in the war of 1914-15! And this in a country where absolutism still exists, the bourgeois revolution is far from consummated, and forty-three per cent of the population oppresses a majority consisting of non-Russian nations. The “European” type of development, in which certain strata of the petty bourgeoisie, especially the intelligentsia and an insignificant section of the labour aristocracy can share in the “Great-Power” privileges of their “own” nation, could not but have its Russian counterpart.
All their history has prepared the working class and the workers’ Social-Democratic Party of Russia for “internationalist” tactics, i.e., such that are truly revolutionary and consistently revolutionary.
- Lenin: Opportunism, and the Collapse of the Second International
[As the transformation of capitalism to monopoly capitalism, imperialism was taking place, followed with the division of the world among the imperialist powers, the contradiction between the opportunist and revolutionary trends within social democracy also intensified on the question of how to fight and defeat the global imperialist system. This struggle soon extended to what approach the proletarian forces in each country and the Second International (SI) should take towards the impending war among the imperialist powers. Though Basle Manifesto gave a revolutionary orientation, when the war broke out in 1914 the opportunist section rejected it and under the slogan of ‘defense of fatherland’ joined hands with the bourgeoisie of their own country. This soon led to the liquidation of the SI. The following analysis by Lenin (Collected Works, Volume 21, pages 438-454, published in 2016} analyses the struggle between the two trends during this period}.
It is instructive to compare the attitudes of the various classes and parties towards the collapse of the International, which has been revealed by the 1914-15 war. On one hand, the bourgeoisie extols to the sky those socialists who have expressed themselves in favour of “defending the fatherland”, i.e., in favour of the war and of aiding the bourgeoisie. On the other hand, the bourgeoisie’s more outspoken or less diplomatic representatives are expressing malicious joy over the collapse of the International, the collapse of the “illusions” of socialism. Among socialists who are “defending the fatherland” there are also two shades: the “extremists” like the Germans W. Kolb and W. Heine, who admit the collapse of the International, for which they blame the “revolutionary illusions”; these are out to restore a still more opportunist International. In practice, however they agree with the “moderates”, the cautious socialist “defenders of the fatherland”, such as Kautsky, Renaudel, and Vandervelde, who stubbornly deny that the International has collapsed, consider it merely suspended temporarily, and defend the Second International’s viability and right to exist. Revolutionary Social-Democrats in the various countries recognise the collapse of the Second International and the need to create a Third International.
To decide who is right, let us examine an historic document which bears upon the present war, and carries the unanimous and official signatures of all socialist parties in the world. That document is the Basle Manifesto of 1912. Noteworthy enough, no socialist would, in theory, dare deny the need for a concretely historical analysis of every war. Today, however, none but the “Left” Social-Democrats, who are but few in number, would be so bold as to publicly and definitely repudiate the Basle Manifesto, or declare it erroneous, or analyse it carefully, comparing its decisions with the conduct of the socialists after the outbreak of the war.
Why is that so? It is because the Basle Manifesto ruthlessly exposes the wrong reasoning and conduct of the majority of official socialists. There is not a single word in this Manifesto on either the “defence of the fatherland” or the difference between a war of aggression and a war of defence! Not a syllable on a subject the official S.D. leaders both in Germany and in the Quadruple Entente have been talking and vociferating about most. In a perfectly clear, precise, and definite manner, the Basle Manifesto analyses the concrete clashes of interests which led towards war in 1912 and brought about war in 1914. The Manifesto says that these are clashes arising on the basis of “capitalist imperialism”, clashes between Austria and Russia for domination over the Balkans, clashes between Britain, France, and Germany over their “policies of conquest in Asia Minor” (the policies of all of them!), clashes between Austria and Italy over their attempt to “draw Albania into their sphere of influence”, subject her to their “rule”, and clashes between Britain and Germany because of their mutual “antagonism”, and further, because of “tsarism’s attempts to grab Armenia, Constantinople, etc.” It will be seen that this applies in full to the present war. The undisguised predatory, imperialist and reactionary character of this war, which is being waged for the enslavement of nations, is most clearly recognised in the Manifesto, which draws the necessary conclusion that war “cannot be justified on the slightest pretext of being in the least in the interests of the people”, that war is prepared “for the sake of the profits of capitalists and ambitions of dynasties”, and that on the part of the workers it would be “a crime to fire at one another”.
These propositions contain the fundamentals for an understanding of the radical distinction between two great historical periods. One was the period between 1789 and 1871, when, in most cases, wars in Europe were indubitably connected with the most important “interests of the people”, namely, a powerful bourgeois-progressive movement for national liberation which involved millions of people, with the destruction of feudalism, absolutism, and foreign oppression. It was on this basis alone that there arose the concept of “defence of the fatherland”, defence of a bourgeois nation that is liberating itself from medievalism. Only in this sense did socialists recognise “defence of the fatherland”. Even today it must be recognised in this sense ; for instance, the defence of Persia or China against Russia or Britain, of Turkey against Germany or Russia, of Albania against Austria and Italy, etc.
The 1914-15 war, as clearly expressed in the Basle Manifesto, pertains to an entirely different historical period and is of an entirely different character. This is a war among predators for division of the loot, for the enslavement of other countries. Victory for Russia, Britain, and France means the strangulation of Armenia, Asia Minor, etc.—this is stated in the Basle Manifesto. Germany’s victory means the strangulation of Asia Minor, Serbia, Albania, etc. This is stated in the selfsame Manifesto, and has been recognised by all socialists! All phrases about a war of defence or about the defence of the fatherland by the Great Powers (i.e., the great predators), who are fighting for world domination, markets and “spheres of influence”, and the enslavement of nations, are false, meaningless and hypocritical! It is not surprising that “socialists” who are in favour of defending the fatherland are afraid to recall or to exactly quote the Basle Manifesto, for it exposes their hypocrisy. The Basle Manifesto proves that socialists who stand for the “defence of the fatherland” in the 1914-15 war are socialists only in word and chauvinists in deed. They are social-chauvinists.
Recognition of this war as connected with national liberation leads to one line of socialist tactics; recognition of a war as imperialist, predatory and aggressive, leads to another line. The latter has been clearly defined in the Basle Manifesto. The war, it says, will evoke an “economic and political crisis”, which, it continues, must be “utilised” to “hasten the collapse of the rule of capital”. These words recognise that social revolution is ripe, that it is possible, that it is approaching in connection with the war. The “ruling classes” are afraid of a “proletarian revolution”, says the Manifesto, quoting the example of the Paris Commune and of 1905, i.e., the examples of revolutions, strikes, and civil war. It is a lie for anybody to say that the socialists “have not discussed”, or “have not decided” the question of their attitude towards the war. The Basle Manifesto has decided this question; it has mapped out the line of tactics—that of proletarian revolutionary action and civil war.
It would be erroneous to think that the Basle Manifesto is a piece of empty declamation, a bureaucratic phrase, a none-too-serious threat. Those whom the Manifesto exposes are prepared to say such things. But that is not the truth! The Basle Manifesto sums up the vast amount of propaganda and agitation material of the entire epoch of the Second International, namely, the period between 1889 and 1914. This Manifesto summarises, without any exaggeration, millions upon millions of leaflets, press articles, books, and speeches by socialists of all lands. To declare this Manifesto erroneous means declaring the entire Second International erroneous, the work done in decades and decades by all Social-Democratic parties. To brush aside the Basle Manifesto means brushing aside the entire history of socialism. The Basle Manifesto says nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. It provides only and exclusively that which enabled the socialists to lead the masses—recognition of “peaceful” work as preparation for a proletarian revolution. The Basle Manifesto repeated what Guesde said at the 1899 Congress, where he ridiculed socialists’ ministerialism manifesting itself in the event of a war for markets, “brigandages capitalistes” (En garde! pp. 175-76), or what Kautsky said in 1909, in his pamphlet Der Weg zur Macht, in which he spoke of the end of the “peaceful epoch” and the advent of an epoch of wars, revolutions, and the proletariat’s struggle for power.
The Basle Manifesto incontestably proves the complete betrayal of socialism by those socialists who voted for war credits; joined governments, and recognised the defence of the fatherland in 1914-15. This betrayal is undeniahle. It will be denied by hypocrites alone. The only question is: how is it to be explained.
It would be unscientific, absurd and ridiculous to reduce the question to personalities, to refer to Kautsky, Guesde, Plekhanov (and say: “even” such persons!). That would be a wretched subterfuge. Any serious explanation calls, in the first place, for an economic analysis of the significance of present-day politics, then for an analysis of their fundamental ideas, and, finally, for a study of the historic trends within socialism.
What is the economic implication of “defence of the fatherland” in the 1914–15 war? The answer to this question has been given in the Basle Manifesto. The war is being fought by all the Great Powers for the purpose of plunder, carving up the world, acquiring markets, and enslaving nations. To the bourgeoisie it brings higher profits; to a thin crust of the labour bureaucracy and aristocracy, and also to the petty bourgeoisie (the intelligentsia, etc.) which “travels” with the working-class movement, it promises morsels of those profits. The economic basis of “social-chauvinism” (this term being more precise than the term social-patriotism, as the latter embellishes the evil) and of opportunism is the same, namely, an alliance between an insignificant section at the “top” of the labour movement, and its “own” national bourgeoisie, directed against the masses of the proletariat, an alliance between the servants of the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie, directed against the class that is exploited by the bourgeoisie. Social-chauvinism is a consummated opportunism.
Social-chauvinism and opportunism are the same in their political essence; class collaboration, repudiation of the proletarian dictatorship, rejection of revolutionary action, obeisance to bourgeois legality, non-confidence in the proletariat, and confidence in the bourgeoisie. The political ideas are identical, and so is the political content of their tactics. Social-chauvinism is the direct continuation and consummation of Millerandism, Bernsteinism, and British liberal-labour policies, their sum, their total, their highest achievement.
Throughout the entire period between 1889 and 1914, two lines in socialism—the opportunist and the revolutionary—are to be seen. Today there are also two lines in socialism. Let us not follow the method of referring to persons, which is practised by the bourgeois and opportunist liars, and let us take the trends to be seen in a number of countries. Let us take ten European countries: Germany, Britain, Russia, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Belgium and France. In the first eight countries, the division into the opportunist and revolutionary trends coincides with the division into social-chauvinists and revolutionary internationalists. The main nuclei of social-chauvinism in the social and political sense are: Sozialistische Monatshefte and Co. in Germany; the Fabians and the Labour Party in Britain (the Independent Labour Party entered in a bloc with both, the influence of social-chauvinism in the latter being considerably stronger than in the British Socialist Party, in which about three-sevenths are internationalists, namely, 66 to 84); Nasha Zarya and the Organising Committee (as well as Nashe Dyelo) in Russia; Bissolati’s party in Italy; Troelstra’s party in Holland; Branting and Co. in Sweden; the “Shiroki” in Bulgaria; Greulich and “his” people in Switzerland. It is from revolutionary Social-Democrats in all these countries that a more or less sharp protest has emanated against social-chauvinism. Two countries out of the ten are the exception, but even there internationalists are weak, but not absent; the facts are rather unknown (Vaillant has admitted having received letters from internationalists, which he did not publish) than non-existent.
Social-chauvinism is a consummated opportunism. That is beyond doubt. The alliance with the bourgeoisie used to be ideological and secret. It is now public and unseemly. Social-chauvinism draws its strength from nowhere else but this alliance with the bourgeoisie and the General Staffs. It is a falsehood for anybody (including Kautsky) to say that the “masses” of proletarians have turned towards chauvinism; nowhere have the masses been asked (with the exception, perhaps, of Italy, where a discussion went on for nine months prior to the declaration of war, and where the masses also were against the Bissolati party). The masses were dumbfounded, panic-stricken, disunited, and crushed by the state of martial law. The free vote was a privilege of the leaders alone—and they voted for the bourgeoisie and against the proletariat! It is ridiculous and monstrous to consider opportunism an inner-party phenomenon! All Marxists in Germany, France, and other countries have always stated and insisted that opportunism is a manifestation of the bourgeoisie’s influence over the proletariat; that it is a bourgeois labour policy, an alliance between an insignificant section of near-proletarian elements and the bourgeoisie. Having for decades to mature in conditions of “peaceful” capitalism, opportunism was so mature by 1914-15 that it proved an open ally of the bourgeoisie. Unity with opportunism means unity between the proletariat and its national bourgeoisie, i.e., submission to the latter, a split in the international revolutionary working class. We do not say that an immediate split with the opportunists in all countries is desirable, or even possible at present; we do say that such a split has come to a head, that it has become inevitable, is progressive in nature, and necessary to the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, and that history, having turned away from “peaceful” capitalism towards imperialism, has thereby turned towards such a split. Volentem ducunt fata, nolentem trahunt.
Since the onset of the war, the bourgeoisie of all countries, the belligerents in the first place, have united in lauding socialists who recognise the “defence of the fatherland”, i.e., the defence of the bourgeoisie’s predatory interests in the imperialist war, against the proletariat. See how this basic interest of the international bourgeoisie is making its way into the socialist parties, into the working-class movement, to find expression there! The example of Germany is particularly instructive in this respect, since the epoch of the Second International saw the growth of the greatest party in that country, but the very same thing is to be seen in other countries, with only minor variations in form, aspect and outward appearance.
In its issue of April 1915, Preussische Jahrbücher, a conservative German journal, published an article by a Social-Democrat, a member of the Social-Democratic Party, who concealed his identity behind the pseudonym of Monitor. This opportunist blurted out the truth regarding the substance of the policy pursued by the entire world bourgeoisie towards the working-class movement of the twentieth century. The latter can neither be brushed aside nor suppressed by brute force, he says. It must be demoralised from within, by buying its top section. It was exactly in this manner that the Anglo-French bourgeoisie has been acting for decades, by buying up the trade-union leaders, the Millerands, the Briands and Co. It is in this manner that the German bourgeoisie is now acting. The Social-Democratic Party’s behaviour, Monitor says to (and in essence in the name of) the bourgeoisie, is “irreproachable” in the present war (i.e., it is irreproachably serving the bourgeoisie against the proletariat). The process of the transformation” of the Social-Democratic Party into a national liberal-labour party is proceeding excellently. It would, however, be dangerous to the bourgeoisie, Monitor adds, if the party were to turn to the right; “it must retain the character of a workers’ party with socialist ideals. On the day it gives that up, a new party will arise to take up the rejected programme, giving it a still more radical formu lation” (Preussische Jahrbücher, 1915, No. 4, pp. 50-51).
These words openly express that which the bourgeoisie has always and everywhere done covertly. “Radical” words are needed for the masses to believe in. The opportunists are prepared to reiterate them hypocritically. Such parties as the Social-Democratic parties of the Second International used to be are useful and necessary to the opportunists because they engendered the socialists’ defence of the bourgeoisie during the 1914-15 crisis. Exactly the same kind of policy as that of the German Monitor is being pursued by the Fabians and the liberal trade-union leaders in Britain, and the opportunists and the Jaurèsists in France. Monitor is an outspoken and cynical opportunist. Then there is another shade, a covert or “honest” opportunist (Engels was right when he once said that the “honest” opportunists are the most dangerous to the working-class movement). Kautsky is an example of such an opportunist.
In Die Neue ZeitNo. 9, of November 26, 1915, he wrote that the majority of the official party was violating its programme (Kautsky himself upheld the policy of the majority for a whole year after the outbreak of the war, justifying the “defence of the fatherland” lie!). “Opposition to the majority is growing,” he said (p. 272). (“Die Opposition gegen die Mehrheit im Wachsen ist.) The masses are “in opposition”……
Kautsky wants to represent the golden mean, and to reconcile the “two extremes” which “have nothing in common”! Today (sixteen months after the outbreak of war) he admits that the masses are revolutionary. Condemning in the same breath revolutionary action, which he calls “Abenteuer” “in den Strassen” (p. 272), Kautsky wants to “reconcile” the revolutionary masses with the opportunist leaders, who have “nothing in common” with them—but on what basis ? On the basis of mere words! On the basis of “Left-wing” words of the “Left-wing” minority in the Reichtag! Let the minority, like Kautsky, condemn revolutionary action, calling it adventurism, but it must feed the masses with Left-wing words. Then there will be peace in the Party, unity with the Südekums, Legiens, Davids, and Monitors!
But that is Monitor’s selfsame programme in its entirety, a programme of the bourgeoisie, only expressed in dulcet tones and in honeyed phrases! The same programme was carried out by Wurm as well, when at the session of the Social-Democratic group in the Reichstag, March 18, 1915, …….Let us note the acknowledgement, on behalf of the “Marxist Centre” (including Kautsky), that the masses were in a revolutionary temper! This was March 18, 1915! Eight and a half months later, on November 26, 1915, Kautsky again proposed that the revolutionary masses be appeased with Left phrases!
Kautsky’s opportunism differs from Monitor’s only in the wording, in shades, and the methods of achieving the same end: preservation of the opportunists’ influence (i.e., the bourgeoisie’s) over the masses, preservation of the proletariat’s submission to the opportunists (i.e., the bourgeoisie)! Pannekoek and Gorter have very properly dubbed Kautsky’s stand “passive radicalism”. (It is verbiage, to quote the French who have had occasion to make a thorough study of this variety of revolutionism, from their “home-made” models!) I would rather prefer to call it covert, timid, saccharine and hypocritical opportunism.
In substance, the two trends in Social-Democracy now disagree, not in words or in phrases. When it comes to the art of blending “defence of the fatherland” (i.e., defence of bourgeois plundering) with phrases on socialism, internationalism, freedom for the peoples, etc., Vandervelde, Renaudel, Sembat, Hyndman, Henderson, and Lloyd George are in no wise inferior to Legien, Südekum, Kautsky, or Haase! The actual difference begins with a complete rejection of defence of the fatherland in the present war, and with acceptance of revolutionary action in connection with the war, during and after it. In this question, the only serious and business-like one, Kautsky is at one with Kolb and Heine.
Compare the Fabians in Britain and the Kautskyites in Germany. The former are almost liberals, who have never recognised Marxism. Engels wrote of the Fabians on January 18, 1893: “A gang of place hunters, shrewd enough to understand the inevitability of the social revolution, but totally unwilling to entrust this gigantic work to the immature proletariat alone. . . . Their fundamental principle is fear of revolution....” And on November 11, 1893, he wrote: “Haughty bourgeois, benevolently descending to the proletariat to liberate it from above, if only it is willing to understand that such a raw, uneducated mass cannot liberate itself, and can attain nothing without the charity of those clever attorneys, litterateurs, and sentimental females.” How far from these the Kautskyites seem to be in their “theory”! In practice, however, in their attitude towards the war, they are quite identical ! This is convincing proof of how the Marxism of the Kautskyites has withered, turned into a dead letter, a piece of cant.
The following instances will reveal the kind of obvious sophisms used by the Kautskyites since the outbreak of war, to refute the tactics of revolutionary proletarian action, as unanimously adopted by the socialists in Basle. Kautsky advanced his theory of “ultra-imperialism”. By this he meant the substitution of “joint exploitation of the world by internationally united finance capital, for the struggle of capital of some nations against that of other countries” (Die Neue Zeit No. 5, April 30, 1915, p. 144). At the same time, Kautsky himself added: “Can such a new phase of capitalism be at all achieved? Sufficient premises are still lacking to enable us to answer this question!” On the ground that a new phase is “conceivable”, though he himself lacks the courage even to declare it “achievable”, he now rejects the revolutionary tasks of the proletariat at a time when the phase of crisis and war has obviously arrived! Revolutionary action is rejected by the selfsame leader of the Second lnternational who, in 1909, wrote a book entitled Der Weg zur Macht. Translated into almost all the principal European languages, the book revealed the connection between the impending war and the revolution, and proved that “revolution cannot be premature”!
In 1909, Kautsky proved that the epock of “peaceful” capitalism had passed, and that the epoch of wars and revolutions was at hand. In 1912, the Basle Manifesto made this view the basis of the entire tactic of the world socialist parties. In 1914 war came, followed by the “economic and political crisis” foreseen at Stuttgart and Basle. At this juncture Kautsky invented theoretical “subterfuges” to be used against revolutionary tactics!
Axelrod has advanced the same ideas, only clothed in a phraseology a little more to the “Left”. He writes in free Switzerland, and it is his desire to exert an influence on Russian revolutionary workers. In his pamphlet, Die Krise und die Aufgaben der internationalen Sozialdemokratie, Zurich, 1915, we find a discovery that is so pleasing to the opportunists and the bourgeois of the whole world, ……
It goes without saying that such “internationalism” has the full approval, not only of the Südekums, Legiens and Hyndmans, together with the Vanderveldes, but also of the Lloyd Georges, Naumanns and Briands! Axelrod defends Kautsky’s “internationalism” without even quoting or analysing any of the latter’s arguments for defence of the fatherland. Like the Francophile social-chauvinists, Axelrod is even afraid to mention that it is revolutionary tactics that the Basle Manifesto speaks of. Against the future—the uncertain and unknown future—Axelrod is prepared to advance the most Left-wing and blatantly revolutionary phrases, such as saying that the future International will meet,…… The example of Russia exposes Axelrod most strikingly. Four years elapsed between 1901 and 1905, and nobody could guarantee, in 1901, that the revolution in Russia (the first revolution against absolutism) would take place four years later. Prior to the social revolution, Europe is in exactly the same situation. Nobody can tell whether the first revolution of this kind will come about in four years. That a revolutionary situation, however, actually exists is a fact that was predicted in 1912 and became a reality in 1914. The 1914 demonstrations of workers and starving citizens in Russia and Germany also undoubtedly “ankündigen das Herannahen entscheidender Kämpfe”. It is the bounden duty of socialists to support and develop such demonstrations and every kind of “revolutionary mass action” (economic and political strikes, unrest among the troops, right up to insurrection and civil war); furnish them with clear slogans; create an underground organisation and publish underground literature, without which the masses cannot be called upon to rise up in revolution; help them get a clear understanding of the revolution, and organise for it. It is in this way that the Social-Democrats acted in Russia in 1901, on the eve (“am Vorabend”) of the bourgeois revolution which began in 1905, but has not ended even in 1915. In the very sameway, the Social-Democrats are obliged to act in Europe in 1914-15 “am Vorabend der sozialistischen Revolution”. Revolutions are never born ready-made; they do not spring out of Jupiter’s head; they do not kindle at once. They are always preceded by a process of unrest, crises, movements, revolts, the beginnings of revolution, the latter not always developing to the very end (if, for instance, the revolutionary class is not strong enough). Axelrod invents pretexts so as to distract Social-Democrats from their duty of helping develop the revolutionary movements burgeoning within the existing revolutionary situation. Axelrod defends the tactics of David and the Fabians, while masking his own opportunism with Left-wing phrases.
“Den Weltkrieg in einen Bürgerkrieg umwandeln zu wollen wäre Wahnsinn gewesen,” writes David, leader of the opportunists (Die Sozialdemokratie im Weltkrieg, Berlin, 1915, p. 172), in objecting to the manifesto of the Central Committee of our Party, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, which was published on November 1, 1914. The manifesto advanced the civil war slogan, ….It is noteworthy that a month before David’s book appeared (May 1, 1915), our Party published (in Sotsial-Demokrat No. 40, March 29) resolutions on the war, which advocate systematic “steps towards turning the present imperialist war into a civil war”, these steps being defined in the following way: (1) refusal to vote for war credits, etc.; (2) rejection of “Burgfrieden” ; (3) formation of an underground organisation; (4) support for fraternisation by the men in the trenches; (5) support for every kind of revolutionary mass action by the proletariat in general. …..
Plekhanov, a typical representative of the social-chauvinists of the Quadruple Entente, has given an appraisal of revolutionary tactics, which is fully in accord with David’s. He has called the idea on... to wit, the Vorabend of the social revolution, from which a period of four years or more may elapse before the entscheidende Kämpfe. These are, in fact, the first beginnings—weak as yet, but beginnings, nevertheless—of the “proletarian revolution” which the Basle resolution spoke of and which will never become strong suddenly, but will inevitably pass through the stages of relatively weak beginnings.
Support for and the development, extension and intensification of revolutionary mass action and the revolutionary movement; the creation of an illegal organisation for propaganda and agitation in this direction, so as to help the masses understand the movement and its tasks, methods and aims—these are the two points that any practical programme of Social-Democratic activity in the present war must inevitably boil down to. All the rest is opportunist and counter-revolutionary phrases, no matter what Leftist, pseudo-Marxist and pacifist contortions those phrases may be disguised with. … I suppose these Berlin women workers must have been led astray by the “Bakuninist” and “adventurist”, “sectarian” (see Kolb and Co.) and “reckless” manifesto of the Russian Party’s Central Committee, dated November 1
- First Congress of the Communist International, 2nd to 6th March, 1919.
- Lenin: SPEECH AT THE OPENING SESSION OF THE FIRST CONGRESS On 2nd March, 1919.
On behalf of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party I declare the First Congress of the Communist International open. First I would ask all present to rise in tribute to the finest representatives of the Third International: Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. (All rise.)
Comrades, our gathering has great historic significance. It testifies to the collapse of all the illusions cherished by bourgeois democrats. Not only in Russia, but in the most
developed capitalist countries of Europe, Germany for example, civil war is a fact.
The bourgeoisie are terror-stricken at the growing workers’ revolutionary movement. This is understandable if we take into account that the development of events since
the imperialist war inevitably favours the workers’ revolutionary movement, and that the world revolution is beginning and growing in intensity everywhere.
The people are aware of the greatness and significance of the struggle now going on. All that is needed is to find the practical form to enable the proletariat to establish its rule. Such a form is the Soviet system with the dictatorship of the proletariat. Dictatorship of the proletariat—until now these words were Latin to the masses. Thanks to the spread of the Soviets throughout the world this Latin has been translated into all modern languages; a practical form of dictatorship has been found by the working people. The mass of workers now understand it thanks to Soviet power in Russia, thanks to the Spartacus League in Germany and to similar organisations in other countries, such as, for example, the Shop Stewards Committees in Britain.
All this shows that a revolutionary form of the dictatorship of the proletariat has been found, that the proletariat is now able to exercise its rule.
Comrades, I think that after the events in Russia and the January struggle in Germany, it is especially important to note that in other countries, too, the latest form of the workers’ movement is asserting itself and getting the upper hand. Today, for example, I read in an anti socialist news paper a report to the effect that the British Government
had received a deputation from the Birmingham Workers’ Council and had expressed its readiness to recognise the Councils as economic bodies.
The Soviet system has triumphed not only in backward Russia, but also in the
most developed country of Europe—in Germany, and in Britain, the oldest capitalist country. Even though the bourgeoisie are still raging, even though they may kill thousands more workers, victory will be ours, the victory of the worldwide communist revolution is assured.
Comrades, I extend hearty greetings to you on behalf
of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party.
I move that we elect a presidium. Let us have nominations.
- RESOLUTION TO THE THESES ON BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY AND THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT
On the basis of these theses and the reports made by the delegates from the different countries, the Congress of the Communist International declares that the chief task of the Communist Parties in all countries where Soviet government has not yet been established is as follows:
1) to explain to the broad mass of the workers the historic significance and the political and historical necessity of the new, proletarian, democracy which must replace bourgeois democracy and the parliamentary system;
2) to extend the organisation of Soviets among the workers in all branches of industry, among the soldiers in the Army and sailors in the Navy and also among farm labourers and poor peasants;
3) to build a stable Communist majority inside the Soviets.
- CONCLUDING SPEECH AT THE CLOSING SESSION OF THE CONGRESS,
That we have been able to gather, despite all the persecution and all the difficulties created by the police, that we have been able without any serious differences and
in a brief space of time to reach important decisions on all the vitally urgent questions of the contemporary revolutionary epoch, we owe to the fact that the proletarian masses of the whole world, by their action, have brought up these questions in practice and begun to tackle them.
All we have had to do here has been to record the gains already won by the people in the process of their revolutionary struggle. Not only in the East European but also in the West European countries, not only in the vanquished but also in the victor countries, for example in Britain, the movement in favour of Soviets is spreading farther and farther, and this movement is, most assuredly, a movement pursuing the aim of establishing the new, proletarian democracy. It is the most significant step towards the dictatorship of the proletariat, towards the complete victory of communism.
No matter how the bourgeoisie of the whole world rage, how much they deport or jail or even kill Spartacists and Bolsheviks—all this will no longer help. It will only serve to enlighten the masses, help rid them of the old bourgeois-democratic prejudices and steel them in struggle. The victory of the proletarian revolution on a world scale is assured. The founding of an international Soviet republic is on the way.
- Lenin: THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL AND ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
The imperialists of the Entente countries are blockading Russia in an effort to cut off the Soviet Republic, as a seat of infection, from the capitalist world. These people, who boast about their “democratic” institutions, are so blinded by their hatred of the Soviet Republic that they do not see how ridiculous they are making themselves. Just think of it, the advanced, most civilised and “democratic”
countries, armed to the teeth and enjoying undivided military sway over the whole world, are mortally afraid of the ideological infection coming from a ruined, starving, backward, and even, they assert, semi savage country!
This contradiction alone is opening the eyes of the working masses in all countries and helping to expose the hypocrisy of the imperialists Clemanceau, Lloyd George, Wilson and their governments. We are being helped, however, not only by the capitalists’ blind hatred of the Soviets, but also by their bickering
among themselves, which induces them to put spokes in each other’s wheels. They have entered into a veritable conspiracy of silence, for they are desperately afraid of the spread of true information about the Soviet Republic in general, and of its official documents in particular. Yet, Le Temps, the principal organ of the French bourgeoisie, has published a report on the foundation in Moscow of
the Third, Communist International. For this we express our most respectful thanks to the principal organ of the French bourgeoisie, to this leader of French chauvinism and imperialism. We are prepared to send an illuminated address to Le Temps in token of our appreciation of the effective and able assistance it is giving us.
The manner in which Le Temps compiled its report on the basis of our wireless messages clearly and fully reveals the motive that prompted this organ of the money bags. It wanted to have a dig at Wilson, as if to say, “Look at the
people with whom you negotiate!” The wiseacres who write to the order of the money bags do not see that their attempt to frighten Wilson with the Bolshevik bogey is becoming, in the eyes of the working people, an advertisement for the
Bolsheviks. Once more, our most respectful thanks to the organ of the French millionaires!
The Third International has been founded in a world situation that does not allow prohibitions, petty and miserable devices of the Entente imperialists or of capitalist
lackeys like the Scheidemanns in Germany and the Renners in Austria to prevent news of this International and sympathy for it spreading among the working class of the world. This situation has been brought about by the growth of the proletarian revolution, which is manifestly developing everywhere by leaps and bounds. It has been brought about by the Soviet movement among the working people, which
has already achieved such strength as to become really international. The First International (1864-72) laid the foundation of an international organisation of the workers for the preparation of their revolutionary attack on capital. The Second International (1889-1914) was an international organisation of the proletarian movement whose growth proceeded in breadth, at the cost of a temporary drop in the revolutionary level, a temporary strengthening of opportunism, which in the end led to the disgraceful collapse of this International. The Third International actually emerged in 1918, when the long years of struggle against opportunism and socialchauvinism, especially during the war, led to the formation of Communist Parties in a number of countries. Officially, the Third International was founded at its First Congress, in March 1919, in Moscow. And the most characteristic
feature of this International, its mission of fulfilling, of implementing the precepts of Marxism, and of achieving the age old ideals of socialism and the working class
movement—this most characteristic feature of the Third International has manifested itself immediately in the fact that the new, third, “International Working Men’s Association” has already begun to develing, to a certain extent, into a union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The First International laid the foundation of the proletarian, international struggle for socialism. The Second International marked a period in which the soil was prepared for the broad, mass spread of the movement in a number of countries.
The Third International has gathered the fruits of the work of the Second International, discarded its opportunist, social chauvinist, bourgeois and petty-bourgeois dross, and has begun to implement the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The international alliance of the parties which are leading the most revolutionary movement in the world, the movement of the proletariat for the overthrow of the yoke of capital, now rests on an unprecedentedly firm base, in the shape of several
Soviet republics, which are implementing the dictatorship of the proletariat and are the embodiment of victory over capitalism on an international scale.
The epoch-making significance of the Third, Communist International lies in its having begun to give effect to Marx’s cardinal slogan, the slogan which sums up the centuries old development of socialism and the working class movement, the slogan which is expressed in the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
This prevision and this theory—the prevision and theory of a genius—are becoming a reality.
The Latin words have now been translated into the languages of all the peoples of contemporary Europe—more, into all the languages of the world. A new era in world history has begun.Mankind is throwing off the last form of slavery: capitalist, or wage, slavery. By emancipating himself from slavery, man is for the
first time advancing to real freedom. How is it that one of the most backward countries of Europe was the first country to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, and to organise a Soviet republic? We shall hardly be wrong if we say that it is this contradiction between the backwardness of Russia and the “leap” she hasmade over bourgeois democracy to the highest form of democracy, to Soviet, or proletarian, democracy—it is this contradiction that has been one of the reasons (apart from the dead weight of opportunist habits and philistine prejudices that burdened the majority of the socialist leaders) why people in the West have had particular difficulty or have been slow in understanding the role of the Soviets.
The working people all over the world have instinctively grasped the significance of the Soviets as an instrument in the proletarian struggle and as a form of the proletarian state. But the “leaders”, corrupted by opportunism, still continue to worship bourgeois democracy, which they call “democracy” in general.
Is it surprising that the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat has brought out primarily the “contradiction” between the backwardness of Russia and her “leap” over bourgeois democracy? It would have been surprising
had history granted us the establishment of a new form of democracy without a number of contradictions. If any Marxist, or any person, indeed, who has a general
knowledge of modern science, were asked whether it is likely that the transition of the different capitalist countries to the dictatorship of the proletariat will take place
in an identical or harmoniously proportionate way, his answer would undoubtedly be in the negative. There never has been and never could be even, harmonious, or proportionate development in the capitalist world. Each country has developed more strongly first one, then another aspect or feature or group of features of capitalism and of the working-class movement. The process of development
has been uneven.
When France was carrying out her great bourgeois revolution and rousing the whole European continent to a historically new life, Britain proved to be at the head of the counterrevolutionary coalition, although at the same time she was much more developed capitalistically than France. The British working class movement of that period, however, brilliantly anticipated much that was contained
in the future Marxism. When Britain gave the world Chartism, the first broad,
truly mass and politically organised proletarian revolutionary movement, bourgeois revolutions, most of them weak, were taking place on the European continent, and
the first great civil war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie had broken out in France. The bourgeoisie defeated the various national contingents of the proletariat one by one, in different ways in different countries.
Britain was the model of a country in which, as Engels put it, the bourgeoisie had produced, alongside a bourgeois aristocracy, a very bourgeois upper stratum of the proletariat. For several decades this advanced capitalist country lagged behind in the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. France seemed to have exhausted the strength of the proletariat in two heroic working class revolts of 1848 and 1871 against the bourgeoisie that made very considerable contributions to world historical development. Leadership in the International of the working class movement then passed to Germany; that was in the seventies of the nineteenth century, when she lagged economically behind Britain and France. But when Germany had out stripped these two countries economically, i.e., by the second decade of the twentieth century, the Marxist workers’ party of Germany, that model for the whole world, found itself headed by a handful of utter scoundrels, the most filthy blackguards—from Scheidemann and Noske to David
and Legien—loathsome hangmen drawn from the workers’ ranks who had sold themselves to the capitalists, who were in the service of the monarchy and the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie. World history is leading unswervingly towards the dictatorship of the proletariat, but is doing so by paths that are anything but smooth, simple and straight.
When Karl Kautsky was still a Marxist and not the renegade from Marxism he became when he began to champion unity with the Scheidemanns and to support bourgeois democracy against Soviet, or proletarian, democracy, he wrote an article—this was at the turn of the century—entitled “The Slavs and Revolution”. In this article he traced the historical conditions that pointed to the possibility of leadership in the world revolutionary movement passing to the Slavs.
And so it has. Leadership in the revolutionary proletarian International has passed for a time—for a short time, it goes without saying—to the Russians, just as at various periods of the nineteenth century it was in the hands of the British, then of the French, then of the Germans. I have had occasion more than once to say that it was easier for the Russians than for the advanced countries to begin the great proletarian revolution, but that it will be more difficult for them to continue
it and carry it to final victory, in the sense of the complete organisation
of a socialist society. It was easier for us to begin, firstly, because the
unusual—for twentieth century Europe—political backwardness of the tsarist monarchy gave unusual strength to then revolutionary onslaught of the masses. Secondly, Russia’s backwardness merged in a peculiar way the proletarian
revolution against the bourgeoisie with the peasant revolution against the landowners. That is what we started from in October 1917, and we would not have achieved victory so easily then if we had not. As long ago as 1856, Marx spoke, in reference to Prussia; of the possibility of a peculiar combination of proletarian revolution and peasant war. From the beginning of 1905 the Bolsheviks advocated the idea of a revolutionary democratic dictatorship of
the proletariat and the peasantry. Thirdly, the 1905 revolution contributed enormously to the political education of the worker and peasant masses, because it familiarized their vanguard with “the last word” of socialism in the West and also because of the revolutionary action of the masses. Without such a “dress rehearsal” as we had in 1905, the revolutions of 1917—both the bourgeois, February revolution, and the proletarian, October revolution—would have been impossible. Fourthly, Russia’s geographical conditions permitted her to hold out longer than other countries could have done against the superior military strength of the capitalist, advanced countries. Fifthly, the specific attitude of the proletariat towards the peasantry facilitated the transition from the bourgeois revolution to
the socialist revolution, made it easier for the urban proletarians to influence the semi proletarian, poorer sections of the rural working people. Sixthly, long schooling in strike action and the experience of the European mass working class movement facilitated the emergence—in a profound and rapidly intensifying revolutionary situation— of such a unique form of proletarian revolutionary organisation as the Soviets
.This list, of course, is incomplete; but it will suffice for the time being. Soviet, or proletarian, democracy was born in Russia. Following the Paris Commune a second epoch making step was taken. The proletarian and peasant Soviet Republic has proved to be the first stable socialist republic in the world. As a new type of state it cannot die. It no longer stands alone. For the continuance and completion of the work of building socialism, much, very much is still required. Soviet republics in more developed countries, where the proletariat has greater weight and influence, have every chance of surpassing Russia once they take the path of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The bankrupt Second International is now dying and rotting alive. Actually, it is playing the role of lackey to the world bourgeoisie. It is a truly yellow International. Its foremost ideological leaders, such as Kautsky, laud bourgeois
democracy and call it “democracy” in general, or—what is still more stupid and still more crude—“pure democracy”. Bourgeois democracy has outlived its day, just as the Second International has, though the International performed historically necessary and useful work when the task
of the moment was to train the working class masses within the framework of this bourgeois democracy. No bourgeois republic, however democratic, ever was
or could have been anything but a machine for the suppression of the working people by capital, an instrument of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the political rule of capital. The democratic bourgeois republic promised and proclaimed majority rule, but it could never put this into effect as long as private ownership of the land and other means of production existed.
“Freedom” in the bourgeois democratic republic was actually freedom for the rich. The proletarians and working peasants could and should have utilised it for the purpose of preparing their forces to overthrow capital, to overcome bourgeois democracy, but in fact the working masses were, as a general rule, unable to enjoy democracy under capitalism. Soviet, or proletarian, democracy has for the first time in the world created democracy for the masses, for the working people, for the factory workers and small peasants.
Never yet has the world seen political power wielded by the majority of the population, power actually wielded by this majority, as it is in the case of Soviet rule. It suppresses the “freedom” of the exploiters and their accomplices; it deprives them of “freedom” to exploit, “freedom” to batten on starvation, “freedom” to fight for the restoration of the rule of capital, “freedom” to compact with the foreign bourgeoisie against the workers and peasants of their own country.
Let the Kautskys champion such freedom. Only a renegade from Marxism, a renegade from socialism can do so. In nothing is the bankruptcy of the ideological leaders of the Second International, people like Hilferding and Kautsky, so strikingly expressed as in their utter inability
to understand the significance of Soviet, or proletarian,
democracy, its relation to the Paris Commune, its place
in history, its necessity as a form of the dictatorship of
the proletariat.The newspaper Die Freiheit, organ of the “Independent”
(alias middle class, philistine, petty bourgeois) German Social Democratic Party, in its issue No. 74 of February 11,
1919, published a manifesto “To the Revolutionary Proletariat of Germany”.
This manifesto is signed by the Party executive and
by all its members in the National Assembly, the German
variety of our Constituent Assembly.
This manifesto accuses the Scheidemanns of wanting to
abolish the Workers Councils, and proposes—don’t laugh!—that the Councils be combined with the Assembly, that the Councils be granted certain political rights, a certain place in the Constitution.
To reconcile, to unite the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie
and the dictatorship of the proletariat! How simple! What
a brilliantly philistine idea!
The only pity is that it was tried in Russia, under
Kerensky, by the united Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, those petty bourgeois democrats who imagine
Anyone who has read Marx and failed to understand that
in capitalist society, at every acute moment, in every
serious class conflict, the alternative is either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or the dictatorship of the proletariat, has understood nothing of either the economic or
the political doctrines of Marx.
But the brilliantly philistine idea of Hilferding, Kautsky
and Co. of peacefully combining the dictatorship of the
bourgeoisie and the dictatorship of the proletariat requires
special examination, if exhaustive treatment is to be given
to the economic and political absurdities with which this
most remarkable and comical manifesto of February 11 is
packed. That will have to be put off for another article.
Moscow, April 15, 1919
British documents there is a Paper which scrupulously enumerates all the states (fourteen in all) which some six months ago, in December 1919, pledged themselves to take Moscow and Petrograd. Britain based her policy on these states, to whom she granted loans running into millions. All these calculations have now misfired, and all the loans are unrecoverable.
Such is the situation created by the League of Nations. Every day of this Covenant’s existence provides the best propaganda for Bolshevism, since the most powerful adher-
ents of the capitalist “order” are revealing that, on every
question, they put spokes in one another’s wheels. Furious
wrangling over the partitioning of Turkey, Persia, Mesopo-
tamia and China is going on between Japan, Britain, Amer-
ica and France. The bourgeois press in these countries is
full of the bitterest attacks and the angriest statements
against their “colleagues” for trying to snatch the booty
from under their noses. We see complete discord at the top,
among this handful, this very small number of extremely
rich countries. There are 1,250 million people who find
it impossible to live in the conditions of servitude which
“advanced” and civilised capitalism wishes to impose on
them: after all, these represent 70 per cent of the world’s
population. This handful of the richest states—Britain,
America and Japan (though Japan was able to plunder
the Eastern, the Asian countries, she cannot constitute
an independent financial and military force without sup-
port from another country)—these two or three countries
are unable to organise economic relations, and are directing
their policies toward disrupting policies of their colleagues
and partners in the League of Nations. Hence the world
crisis; it is these economic roots of the crisis that provide
the chief reason of the brilliant successes the Communist
International is achieving.
Comrades, we have now come to the question of the revo-
lutionary crisis as the basis of our revolutionary action.
And here we must first of all note two widespread errors.
On the one hand, bourgeois economists depict this
crisis simply as “unrest”, to use the elegant expression
of the British. On the other hand, revolutionaries sometimes
try to prove that the crisis is absolutely insoluble.
This is a mistake. There is no such thing as an absolutely
hopeless situation. The bourgeoisie are behaving like bare-
faced plunderers who have lost their heads; they are com-
mitting folly after folly, thus aggravating the situation
and hastening their doom. All that is true. But nobody
can “prove” that it is absolutely impossible for them to
pacify a minority of the exploited with some petty con-
cessions, and suppress some movement or uprising of some
section of the oppressed and exploited. To try to “prove”
in advance that there is “absolutely” no way out of the
situation would be sheer pedantry, or playing with concepts
and catchwords. Practice alone can serve as real “proof”
in this and similar questions. All over the world, the bour-
geois system is experiencing a tremendous revolutionary
crisis. The revolutionary parties must now “prove” in
practice that they have sufficient understanding and
organisation, contact with the exploited masses, and deter-
mination and skill to utilise this crisis for a successful,
a victorious revolution.
It is mainly to prepare this “proof” that we have gathered
at this Congress of the Communist International.
To illustrate to what extent opportunism still prevails
among parties that wish to affiliate to the Third Internation-
al, and how far the work of some parties is removed from
preparing the revolutionary class to utilise the revolution-
ary crisis, I shall quote the leader of the British Independ-
ent Labour Party, Ramsay MacDonald. In his book,
Parliament and Revolution, which deals with the basic
problems that are now engaging our attention, MacDonald
describes the state of affairs in what is something like a
bourgeois pacifist spirit. He admits that there is a revo-
lutionary crisis and that revolutionary sentiments are
growing, that the sympathies of the workers are with the
Soviets and the dictatorship of the proletariat (note that
this refers to Britain) and that the dictatorship of the
proletariat is better than the present dictatorship of the
British bourgeoisie. But MacDonald remains a thorough-paced bourgeois
pacifist and compromiser, a petty bourgeois who dreams of
a government that stands above classes. Like all bourgeois
liars, sophists and pedants, MacDonald recognises the class
struggle merely as a “descriptive fact”. He ignores the
experience of Kerensky, the Mensheviks and the Socialist-
Revolutionaries of Russia, the similar experience of Hun-
gary, Germany, etc., in regard to creating a “democratic”
government allegedly standing above classes. MacDonald
lulls his party and those workers who have the misfortune
to regard this bourgeois as a socialist, this philistine as
a leader, with the words: “We know that all this [i.e., the
revolutionary crisis, the revolutionary ferment] will pass ...
settle down.” The war, he says, inevitably provoked
the crisis, but after the war it will all “settle down”, even
if not at once!
That is what has been written by a man who is leader of
a party that wants to affiliate to the Third International.
This is a revelation—the more valuable for its rare out-
spokenness—of what is no less frequently to be seen in the
top ranks of the French Socialist Party and the German
Independent Social-Democratic Party, namely, not merely
an inability, but also an unwillingness to take advantage,
in a revolutionary sense, of the revolutionary crisis, or,
in other words, both an inability and an unwillingness
to really prepare the party and the class in revolutionary
fashion for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
That is the main evil in very many parties which are
now leaving the Second International. This is precisely
why, in the theses I have submitted to the present Congress,
I have dwelt most of all on the tasks connected with preparations for the dictatorship of the proletariat, and have given as concrete and exact a definition of them as pos-
sible. Here is another example. A new book against Bolshevism was recently published. An unusually large number of books of this, kind are now coming out in Europe and America; the more anti-Bolshevik books are brought out, the more strongly and rapidly mass sympathy for Bolshevism grows. I am referring to Otto Bauer’s Bolshevism or Social-Democracy?
This book clearly demonstrates to the Germans the essence
of Menshevism, whose shameful role in the Russian revolu-
tion is understood well enough by the workers of all coun-
tries. Otto Bauer has produced a thoroughgoing Menshevik
pamphlet, although he has concealed his own sympathy
THE SECOND CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
with Menshevism. In Europe and America, however, more
precise information should now be disseminated about what
Menshevism actually is, for it is a generic term for all
allegedly socialist, Social-Democratic and other trends
that are hostile to Bolshevism. It would be dull
writing if we Russians were to explain to Europeans what
Menshevism is. Otto Bauer has shown that in his book,
and we thank in advance the bourgeois and opportunist
publishers who will publish it and translate it into various
languages. Bauer’s book will be a useful if peculiar sup-
plement to the textbooks on communism. Take any para-
graph, any argument in Otto Bauer’s book and indicate the
Menshevism in it, where the roots lie of views that lead
up to the actions of the traitors to socialism, of the friends
of Kerensky, Scheidemann, etc.—this is a question that
could be very usefully and successfully set in “examina-
tions” designed to test whether communism has been prop-
erly assimilated. If you cannot answer this question, you
are not yet a Communist, and should not join the Communist
Otto Bauer has excellently expressed in a single sentence
the essence of the views of world opportunism; for this,
if we could do as we please in Vienna, we would put up
a monument to him in his lifetime. The use of force in the
class struggle in modern democracies, Otto Bauer says,
would be “violence exercised against the social factors of force”.
You may think that this sounds queer and unintelligible.
It is an example of what Marxism has been reduced to, of
the kind of banality and defence of the exploiters to which
the most revolutionary theory can be reduced. A German
variety of philistinism is required, and you get the “theo-
ry” that the “social factors of force” are: number; the degree
of organisation; the place held in the process of production
and distribution; activity and education. If a rural agri-
cultural labourer or an urban working man practices revo-
lutionary violence against a landowner or a capitalist,
that is no dictatorship of the proletariat, no violence
against the exploiters and the oppressors of the people. Oh,
no! This is “violence against the social factors of force”.
Perhaps my example sounds something like a jest. How-
ever, such is the nature of present-day opportunism that its
struggle against Bolshevism becomes a jest. The task of
involving the working class, all its thinking elements,
in the struggle between international Menshevism (the
MacDonalds, Otto Bauers and Co.) and Bolshevism is highly
useful and very urgent to Europe and America.
Here we must ask: how is the persistence of such trends
in Europe to be explained? Why is this opportunism strong-
er in Western Europe than in our country? It is because the
culture of the advanced countries has been, and still is,
the result of their being able to live at the expense of a
thousand million oppressed people. It is because the
capitalists of these countries obtain a great deal more in this
way than they could obtain as profits by plundering the
workers in their own countries.
Before the war, it was calculated that the three richest
countries—Britain, France and Germany—got between
eight and ten thousand million francs a year from the ex-
port of capital alone, apart from other sources.
It goes without saying that, out of this tidy sum, at
least five hundred millions can be spent as a sop to the
labour leaders and the labour aristocracy, i.e., on all sorts
of bribes. The whole thing boils down to nothing but brib-
ery. It is done in a thousand different ways: by increasing
cultural facilities in the largest centres, by creating edu-
cational institutions, and by providing co-operative, trade
union and parliamentary leaders with thousands of cushy
jobs. This is done wherever present-day civilised capitalist
relations exist. It is these thousands of millions in super-
profits that form the economic basis of opportunism in the
working-class movement. In America, Britain and France
we see a far greater persistence of the opportunist leaders,
of the upper crust of the working class, the labour aris-
tocracy; they offer stronger resistance to the Communist
movement. That is why we must be prepared to find it
harder for the European and American workers’ parties
to get rid of this disease than was the case in our country.
We know that enormous successes have been achieved in
the treatment of this disease since the Third International
was formed, but we have not yet finished the job; the purg-
THE SECOND CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
ing of the workers’ parties, the revolutionary parties of
the proletariat all over the world, of bourgeois influences,
of the opportunists in their ranks, is very far from
I shall not dwell on the concrete manner in which we
must do that; that is dealt with in my published theses.
My task consists in indicating the deep economic roots of
this phenomenon. The disease is a protracted one; the cure
takes longer than the optimists hoped it-would. Opportunism
is our principal enemy. Opportunism in the upper ranks of
the working-class movement is bourgeois socialism, not
proletarian socialism. It has been shown in practice that
working-class activists who follow the opportunist trend are
better defenders of the bourgeoisie than the bourgeois them-
selves. Without their leadership of the workers, the bour-
geoisie could not remain in power. This has been proved,
not only by the history of the Kerensky regime in Russia;
it has also been proved by the democratic republic in Ger-
many under its Social-Democratic government, as well as
by Albert Thomas’s attitude towards his bourgeois govern-
ment. It has been proved by similar experience in Britain
and the United States. This is where our principal enemy
is, an enemy we must overcome. We must leave this Con-
gress firmly resolved to carry on this struggle to the very
end, in all parties. That is our main task.
Compared with this task, the rectification of the errors
of the “Left” trend in communism will be an easy one.
In a number of countries anti-parliamentarianism is to be
seen, which has not been so much introduced by people
of petty-bourgeois origin as fostered by certain advanced
contingents of the proletariat out of hatred for the old par-
liamentarianism, out of a legitimate, proper and necessary
hatred for the conduct of members of parliament in Bri-
tain, France, Italy, in all lands. Directives must be issued
by the Communist International and the comrades must
be made more familiar with the experience of Russia, with
the significance of a genuinely proletarian political party.
Our work will consist in accomplishing this task. The fight
against these errors in the proletarian movement, against
these shortcomings, will be a thousand times easier than
fighting against those bourgeois who, in the guise of
reformists, belong to the old parties of the Second Interna-
tional and conduct the whole of their work in a bourgeois,
not proletarian, spirit.
Comrades, in conclusion I shall deal with one other aspect
of the subject. Our comrade, the chairman, has said that
our Congress merits the title of a World Congress. I think
he is right, particularly because we have here quite a number
of representatives of the revolutionary movement in the
colonial and backward countries. This is only a small begin-
ning, but the important thing is that a beginning has
been made. At this Congress we see taking place a union
between revolutionary proletarians of the capitalist,
advanced countries, and the revolutionary masses of those
countries where there is no or hardly any proletariat, i.e.,
the oppressed masses of colonial, Eastern countries. It is on
ourselves that the consolidation of unity depends, and I am
sure we shall achieve it. World imperialism shall fall when
the revolutionary onslaught of the exploited and oppressed
workers in each country, overcoming resistance from petty-
bourgeois elements and the influence of the small upper
crust of labour aristocrats, merges with the revolutionary
onslaught of hundreds of millions of people who have
hitherto stood beyond the pale of history, and have been
regarded merely as the object of history.
The imperialist war has helped the revolution: from
the colonies, the backward countries, and the isolation
they lived in, the bourgeoisie levied soldiers for this
imperialist war. The British bourgeoisie impressed on the
soldiers from India that it was the duty of the Indian peas-
ants to defend Great Britain against Germany; the French
bourgeoisie impressed on soldiers from the French colonies
that it was their duty to defend France. They taught them
the use of arms, a very useful thing, for which we might
express our deep gratitude to the bourgeoisie—express our
gratitude on behalf of all the Russian workers and peasants,
and particularly on behalf of all the Russian Red Army.
The imperialist war has drawn the dependent peoples into
world history. And one of the most important tasks now
confronting us is to consider how the foundation-stone of
the organisation of the Soviet movement Can be laid in the
non-capitalist countries. Soviets are possible there; they
THE SECOND CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
will not be workers’ Soviets, but peasants’ Soviets, or
Soviets of working people.
Much work will have to be done; errors will be inevitable;
many difficulties will be encountered along this road. It
is the fundamental task of the Second Congress to elabo-
rate or indicate the practical principles that will enable
the work, till now carried on in an unorganised fashion
among hundreds of millions of people, to be carried on in
an organised, coherent and systematic fashion.
Now, a year or a little more after the First Congress of
the Communist International, we have emerged victors over
the Second International; it is not only among the workers
of the civilised countries that the ideas of the Soviets have
spread; it is not only to them that they have become known
and intelligible. The workers of all lands are ridiculing
the wiseacres, not a few of whom call themselves socialists
and argue in a learned or almost learned manner about the
Soviet “system”, as the German systematists are fond of
calling it, or the Soviet “idea” as the British Guild
Socialists call it. Not infrequently, these arguments about
the Soviet “system” or “idea” becloud the workers’ eyes
and their minds. However, the workers are brushing this
pedantic rubbish aside and are taking up the weapon pro-
vided by the Soviets. A recognition of the role and signifi-
cance of the Soviets has now also spread to the lands of
the East. The groundwork has been laid for the Soviet movement
all over the East, all over Asia, among all the colonial peoples.
The proposition that the exploited must rise up against
the exploiters and establish their Soviets is not a very com-
plex one. After our experience, after two and a half years
of the existence of the Soviet Republic in Russia, and after
the First Congress of the Third International, this idea
is becoming accessible to hundreds of millions of people
oppressed by the exploiters all over the world. We in Rus-
sia are often obliged to compromise, to bide our time, since
we are weaker than the international imperialists, yet we
know that we are defending the interests of this mass of a
thousand and a quarter million people. For the time being,
we are hampered by barriers, prejudices and ignorance which
are receding into the past with every passing hour; but we
are more and more becoming representatives and genuine
defenders of this 70 per cent of the world’s population, this
mass of working and exploited people. It is with pride that
we can say: at the First Congress we were in fact merely
propagandists; we were only spreading the fundamental
ideas among the world’s proletariat; we only issued the
call for struggle; we were merely asking where the people
were who were capable of taking this path. Today the ad- vanced proletariat is everywhere with us. A proletarian army exists everywhere, although sometimes it is poorly organized and needs reorganising. If our comrades in all lands help us now to organise a united army, no shortcomings will prevent us from accomplishing our task. That task is the world proletarian revolution, the creation of a world Soviet republic. (Prolonged applause)
- THE SECOND CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
The Second Congress of the Communist International ended on August 7. A little over a year has elapsed since its foundation, during which brief period immense and decisive successes have been achieved. Held a year ago, the First Congress only unfurled the banner of communism, around which the forces of the revolutionary proletariat were to rally. War was declared on the yellow Second International, which unites the social-traitors, who have sided with the bourgeoisie against the proletariat and are in alliance with the capitalists against the workers’ revolution.
The huge measure of success achieved in a year can be
seen, among other things, in the fact that the growing
sympathy with communism among the masses of workers has
compelled the withdrawal from the Second International of
some of its leading European and American parties, namely,
the French Socialist Party, the German and the British
“Independent” parties, and the American Socialist Party.
In every country of the world the finest representatives
of the revolutionary workers have already ranged themselves
on the side of communism, Soviet rule and the dictatorship
of the proletariat. In all the advanced countries of Europe
and America, there already exist Communist parties or
numerous Communist groups. At the Congress which ended
on August 7, it was not only the heralds of the proletarian
revolution who joined forces, but delegates from strong and
powerful organisations linked with the proletarian masses. A world army of the revolutionary proletariat—that is what now stands for communism, and, at the Congress just ended, received organisational form and a clear, precise and detailed programme of action.
The Congress refused to admit immediately into the Communist International such parties that still retain in their ranks influential representatives of “Menshevism”,
social-treachery and opportunism, similar to the above- mentioned parties which have withdrawn from the yellow Second International.
In a number of precisely worded resolutions, the Congress
blocked every avenue of access for opportunism, and
demanded a total break with it. The incontestable facts
reported to the Congress showed that the working-class masses
are with us, and that the opportunists shall now be utterly
The Congress rectified the errors committed in certain
countries by Communists who were bent on turning to the
“Left” and denied the need to work in bourgeois parliaments,
reactionary trade unions, and wherever there are millions of
workers who are still being duped by the capitalists and
by their lackeys from among the workers, i.e., by members
of the yellow Second International.
The Congress created a degree of unity and discipline
among the world’s Communist parties such as has never
before existed and will make it possible for the vanguard of
the workers’ revolution to march forward with giant strides
to its great goal, the overthrow of the yoke of capital.
Thanks to the international conference of working women
which was organised simultaneously, the Congress will
strengthen ties with the communist women’s movement.
Communist parties and groups in the East, in the colonial
and backward countries, which are so brutally robbed,
oppressed and enslaved by the “civilised” league of preda-
tory nations, were likewise represented at the Congress.
The revolutionary movement in the advanced countries would in fact be nothing but a sheer fraud if, in their struggle against capital, the workers of Europe and America were not closely and completely united with the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of “colonial” slaves, who are oppressed by that capital.
Great are the military victories of the workers’ and peasants’ Soviet Republic over the landowners and the capitalists, over the Yudeniches, the Kolchaks, and the
Denikins, the Polish Whites and their accomplices—France, Britain, America and Japan. But greater still is our victory over the minds and hearts of the masses of the workers, of all those who toil and are oppressed by capital—the victory of the communist ideas and communist organisations all over the world.
The revolution of the proletariat, the overthrow of the yoke of capitalism, is on the march and shall come about in every country in the world.
[Collected Works, Vol 31, pages 270 to 272]
- I. LENIN:
- FIVE YEARS OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION AND THE PROSPECTS OF THE WORLD REVOLUTION
REPORT TO THE FOURTH CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL,
NOVEMBER, 13, 1922
[Excerpts from Lenin’s speech. In this Lenin Ctegorically states that the organizational principles adopted by the 2nd and 3rd Congresses of the CI should not be mechanically imposed. He wants more studies and development of all such documents based on discussions raised by different parties according to concrete conditions of their own countries. So contrary to to the misunderstandings about there was sufficient democratic space in it as these excerpts from Lenin’s speech reveal)
…….At the Third Congress, in 1921, we adopted a resolution on the organisational structure of the Communist Parties and on the methods and content of their activities. The resolution is an excellent one, but it is almost entirely Russian, that is to say, everything in it is based on Russian conditions. This is its good point, but it is also its failing. It is its failing because I am sure that no foreigner can
read it. I have read it again before saying this. In the first place, it is too long, containing fifty or more points. Foreigners are not usually able to read such things. Secondly, even if they read it, they will not understand it because
it is too Russian. Not because it is written in Russian— it has been excellently translated into all languages—but because it is thoroughly imbued with the Russian spirit. And thirdly, if by way of exception some foreigner does understand it, he cannot carry it out. This is its third defect. I have talked with a few of the foreign delegates and hope to discuss matters in detail with a large number
of delegates from different countries during the Congress, although I shall not take part in its proceedings, for unfortunately it is impossible for me to do that. I have the
impression that we made a big mistake with this resolution, namely, that we blocked our own road to further success. As I have said already, the resolution is excellently drafted; I am prepared to subscribe to every one of its fifty or more points. But we have not learnt how to present our Russian experience to foreigners. All that
was said in the resolution has remained a dead letter. If we do not realise this, we shall be unable to move ahead.
I think that after five years of the Russian revolution the most important thing for all of us, Russian and foreign comrades alike, is to sit down and study. We have only
now obtained the opportunity to do so. I do not know how long this opportunity will last. I do not know for how long the capitalist powers will give us the opportunity to
study in peace. But we must take advantage of every moment of respite from fighting, from war, to study, and to study from scratch. The whole Party and all strata of the population of Russia prove this by their thirst for knowledge. This striving to learn shows that our most important task today is to study and to study hard. Our foreign comrades, too, must study. I do not mean that they have to learn to read and write and to understand what they read, as we still have to do. There is a dispute as to whether this concerns proletarian or bourgeois culture. I shall leave that question open. But one thing is certain: we have to begin by learning to read and write and to understand what we read.
Foreigners do not need that. They need something more advanced: first of all, among other things they must learn to understand what we have written about the organisational structure of the Communist Parties, and what the
foreign comrades have signed without reading and under-
standing. This must be their first task. That resolution must be carried out. It cannot be carried out overnight; that is absolutely impossible. The resolution is too Russian, it reflects Russian experience. That is why it is quite unin-
telligible to foreigners, and they cannot be content with hanging it in a corner like an icon and praying to it. Nothing will be achieved that way. They must assimilate part of the Russian experience. Just how that will be done, I do not know. The fascists in Italy may, for example, render us a great service by showing the Italians that they are not yet sufficiently enlightened and that their country is not yet ensured against the Black Hundreds.
Perhaps this will be very useful. We Russians must also find ways and means of explaining the principles of this resolution to the foreigners. Unless we do that, it will be absolutely impossible for them to carry it out. I am sure that in this
connection we must tell not only the Russians, but the foreign comrades as well, that the most important thing in the period we are now entering is to study. We are studying in the general sense. They, however, must study in the special sense, in order that they may really understand the organisation, structure, method and content of revolutionary work. If they do that, I am sure the prospects of the world revolution will be not only good, but excellent.
- Statement: Dissolution of the Communist International
The statement set out hereunder was submitted to all Communist Parties by the Executive Committee on May 15, 1943. Upon receiving endorsement by these parties, the Communist International was dissolved forthwith.
The historical role of the Communist International, organised in 1919 as a result of the political collapse of the overwhelming majority of the old pre-war workers’ parties, consisted in that it preserved the teachings of Marxism from vulgarisation and distortion by opportunist elements of the labor movement. In a number of countries it helped to unite the vanguard of the advanced workers into genuine workers’ parties, helped them to mobilise the mass of the toilers in defence of their economic and political interests for the struggle against fascism and the war which it been prepared for support of the Soviet Union as the main bulwark against fascism. The Communist International tirelessly exposed the base undermining activity of the Hitlerites in foreign states, who masked these activities with outcries about the alleged interference of the Communist International in the internal affairs of these states.
But long before the war it became increasingly clear that, to the extent that the internal as well as the international situation of individual countries became more complicated, the solution of the problems of the labor movement of each individual country through the medium of some international centre would meet with insuperable obstacles.
The deep differences in the historical roads of development of each country of the world, the diverse character and even the contradiction in their social orders, the difference in the level and rate of their social and political development and finally the difference in the degree of consciousness and organisation of the workers’ conditioned also the various problems which face the working class of each individual country.
The entire course of events for the past quarter of a century, as well as the accumulated experiences of the Communist International, have convincingly proved that the organisational form for uniting the workers as chosen by the First Congress of the Communist International, which corresponded to the needs of the initial period of rebirth of the labor movement, more and more outlived itself in proportion to the growth of this movement and the increasing complexity of problems in each country, and that this form even became a hindrance to the further strengthening of the national workers’ parties.
The world war unleashed by the Hitlerites still further sharpened the differences in the conditions in the various countries, drawing a deep line of demarcation between the countries which became bearers of the Hitlerite tyranny and the freedom-loving peoples united in the mighty anti-Hitler coalition. Whereas in the countries of the Hitlerite bloc the basic task of the workers, toilers and all honest people is to contribute in every conceivable way towards the defeat of this bloc by undermining the Hitlerite war machine from within, by helping to overthrow the Governments responsible for the war, in the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition the sacred duty of the broadest masses of the people, and first and foremost of progressive workers, is to support in every way the war efforts of the Governments of those countries for the sake of the speediest destruction of the Hitlerite bloc and to secure friendly collaboration between the nations on the basis of their equal rights. At the same time it must not be overlooked that individual countries which adhere to the anti-Hitler coalition also have their specific tasks.
Thus, for instance, in countries occupied by the Hitlerites and which have lost their State independence, the basic task of the progressive workers and broad masses of the people is to develop the armed struggle which is growing into a war of national liberation against Hitlerite Germany.
At the same time the war of liberation of freedom-loving peoples against the Hitlerite coalition, irrespective of party or religion, has made it still more evident that the national upsurge and mobilisation for the speediest victory over the enemy can best and most fruitfully be realised by the vanguard of the labor movement of each country within the framework of its state.
The Seventh Congress of the Communist International held in 1935, taking into consideration the changes which had come to pass in the international situation as well as in the labor movement, changes which demanded greater flexibility and independence for its sections in solving the problems facing them, already then emphasised the need for the E.C.C.I., when deciding upon all problems of the labor movement, “to proceed from the concrete situation and specific conditions obtaining in each particular country and as a rule avoid direct intervention in internal organisational matters of the Communist Parties.”
The E.C.C.I. was guided by these same considerations when it took note of and approved the decision of the Communist Party of the U.S.A. in November, 1940, to leave the ranks of the Communist International.
Communists guided by the teachings of the founders of Marxism-Leninism never advocated the preservation of organisational forms which have become obsolete; they always subordinated the organisational forms of the labor movement and its methods of work to the basis political interests of the labor movement as a whole, to the peculiarities of given historical conditions and to those problems which arise directly from these conditions.
They remember the example of the great Marx who united the progressive workers into the ranks of the International Workingmen’s Association and after the First International fulfilled its historical task, having laid the basis for the development of workers’ parties in the countries of Europe and America, Marx, as a result of the growing need to create national workers’ mass parties, brought abut the dissolution of the First International inasmuch as this form of organisation no longer corresponded to this need.
Proceeding from the above-stated considerations, and taking into account the growth and political maturity of the Communist Parties and their leading cadres in individual countries, and also in view of the fact that during the present war a number of sections have raised the question of dissolution of the Communist International, the Presidium of the E.C.C.I., unable owing to the conditions of the world war to convene the Congress of the Communist International, permits itself to submit for approval by sections of the Communist International the following proposal:
To dissolve the Communist International as a guiding centre of the international labor movement, releasing sections of the Communist International from the obligations ensuing from the constitution and decisions of the Congresses of the Communist International.
The Presidium of the E.C.C.I. calls upon all adherents of the Communist International to concentrate their forces on all-round support for, and active participation in, the Liberation War of the peoples and States of the anti-Hitler coalition in order to hasten the destruction of the mortal enemy of the working people – fascism and its allies and vassals.
Signed by members of the Presidium of the E.C.C.I.: Gottwald, Dimitrov, Zhdanov, Kolarov, Koplonig, Kuusinen, Manuilssky, Mary, Pieck, Thorez, Florin, Ercoli, and immediately endorsed by the representatives of the following Communist Parties, who were living in exile in Moscow: Bianco (Italy), Dolores Ibarruri (Spain), Lehtinen (Finland), Pauker (Rumania), Rakosi (Hungary),
- THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL AND THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY
July 14 and 15, 1960, From the Selected Works of Zhou Enlai, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing 1989, Vol. II, pp. 306-19.
[Note: We had published this speech of Chou Enlai with the following Explanatory Note by its Editorial Board in the August, 2010, issue of The Marxist-Leninist: “We are reproducing this speech of Zhou Enlai on international relations, particularly the relation between the Communist International and the Chinese Communist Party to show how simplistically this cardinal question of proletarian internationalism was dealt by such top leaders of the CPC. In his whole speech there is no effort to mention even once about proletarian internationalism or about its significance in advancing the socialist transformation in China.
“After mentioning that Communist International played an important role in helping to form communist parties in various countries and in stimulating their growth, he states outrightly: “But by the time these parties grew up and matured, there was no longer any need for the Communist International to exist”. So he saw the Communist International isolated from the First and Second Internationals and from the Communist slogan: Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite. For him the Communist International had only the limited role of helping the formation of the communist parties. He continues his negative approach to the Communist International again as follows: “Under the present circumstances if a new international organisation should be established it would be difficult to achieve political and economic equality among its members.” Then he goes on explaining the negative experience of the CPC during the so-called ‘Second Period’ (1927-’35). He does not mention even once about the necessity to re-organise the Communist International.
“It is a fact that though the concrete conditions underwent important changes from the time of formation of the Communist International in 1919 both objectively and subjectively, corresponding changes were not introduced to transform it in to a democratic organisation of the Communist Parties engaged in developing revolutionary movement in their own countries according to concrete conditions there. But there is nothing on record to show whether the CPC or any other party had put any concrete proposals to transform the Communist International in this manner. On the contrary in the name of certain mistaken positions of the Communist International towards Chinese Revolution, the CPC accepted its dissolution in 1943. And it never called for re-organising the Communist International. Nor it took any steps in this direction even after putting forward A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the ICM in 1963 openly condemning the capitalist path of the Soviet leadership. This negative attitude of the CPC leadership towards the Marxist-Leninist approach of building the unity among the Communist Parties at international level along with its failure to develop the understanding about neo-colonisation put forward in 1963 based on developing the understanding about imperialism led by US imperialism in the post-World War II decades played an important role in the setbacks suffered by the ICM.
“A study of this article by Zhou Enlai calls for intensifying the need to fight this erroneous tendency, which goes against the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism”.
Presently when we are observing the Centenary of the CI, we want to add the following points also as a critic of the stand taken by the CPC towards rebuilding the CI. If one goes through the speeches and articles of Lenin on developing the CI, it can be seen that though the Second and Third Congresses of the CI put forward conditions for entry in to it as if it is a World Communist Party, in his speech prepared for the Fourth Congress he had made fun of all efforts to mechanically implement positions which are Russian in essence. He was always emphasizing on concrete analysis of the situation in different countries for building and developing the communist parties there. From the writings of Mao it is clear that the CPC had no basic criticism on the general line put forward during the period of the CI.
Along with this two more points have to be added to this critic. First, when Chou Enlai was rejecting the demand for rebuilding the CI based on the mistaken advices of the Soviet Party representatives during 1927-1935 period, even he himself admits in his speech that they happened mainly due to the opportunist line of some of the then leaders of the CPC. At this point naturally one has to ask what he or the CPC leadership did when the CPI(ML) had raised the slogan “Chinese Path is Our Path and China’s Chairman Our Chairman”, and was trying to copy the Chinese Path mechanically. Did he or the CPC leadership do anything when the Lin Piao’s book ‘Long Live the Victory of People’s War’ was published in 1965 calling on all newly formed ML organizations to mechanically copy the CPC line? As far as we know the first critic of some of these aspects came only in 1971 when Souren Bose met them. Nobody knows what self-criticism Chou or CPC leadership did for these grievous mistakes. Was it not a fact that, by rejecting all efforts to rebuild the CI as an international platform of the communist organizations, the CPC leadership was shutting down all possibilities for discussion and development of the 1963 General Line according to fast developing international situation?
Secondly, as the CPC article ‘Apologists of Neocolonialism’ explains, the US led imperialist camp had made vast changes to the imperialist system; neo-colonization was later speeded up through neoliberal policies from the 1970s and internationalization of production and finance capital became much faster. The imperialists, in spite of their internal contradictions, were building many platforms to suppress people’s upsurges. Even then why Chou and the CPC leadership do any re-thinking on the necessity for rebuilding the CI according to emerging new situation? Of course, we know that there is no meaning in raising such questions to present leaders of the CPC who have degenerated China in to a social imperialist super power. These questions are raised to help those among the ML forces who copy Chou’s article and still oppose the need for rebuilding the CI- Ed. ]
I have been asked by the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee to speak on international relations, particularly the relations between the Communist Internationaland the Chinese Communist Party.
I wish to make six brief points:
- It was necessary to establish the Communist International and it was also necessary to dissolve it. From its inception to its dissolution, the Communist International existed for 24 years (1919-43), which can be divided into three eight-rear periods. Comrade Mao Zedong once commented that the Communist International functioned well during the first and third periods, but not very well during the second. By that, he did not mean that everything was good during the first and third periods and nothing was good during the second. There is no question that it was necessary to establish the Communist International, which played an important role in helping to form Communist Parties in various countries and in stimulating their growth. But by the time these Parties grew up and matured, there was no longer any need for the Communist International to exist.
During its initial days, the Communist International succeeded in expounding the theory and principles of Marxism-Leninism and in promoting worldwide development of the communist movement. Although Lenin enjoyed great authority at that time, the International made its decisions on the basis of democratic centralism, and there was a lively atmosphere in which the representatives of various Parties voiced their opinions freely. The International drew a clear line between the Communist Parties and the social-democratic parties, and at the same time it criticized the "Left-wing" infantile disorder. In the spirit of internationalism, it mobilized the revolutionary people of different countries to support the Soviet Union and promoted the revolutionary struggles and national revolutionary movements of various peoples.
Nevertheless, the dissolution of the Communist International also came at an appropriate moment. In 1935 it adopted a resolution to the effect that it should not interfere with the internal affairs of the various Parties, and after that it did give them a freer hand. But at the time, there was still reason for its existence, because it was playing an active role in the struggle to fight fascism and establish the united front. In June 1943, with the outbreak of the Soviet-German war, the Communist International was dissolved.
The weaknesses and mistakes of the Communist International, particularly during the second period, can be summarized as follows: it failed to conform its general calls with the realities of different countries, and it gave specific instructions to individual Parties instead of providing them with guidance in principle, thus interfering in their internal affairs and hindering them from acting independently and bringing their own initiative and creativity into play.
This is only a rough evaluation of the International.
- A country's revolution and construction depend on the practice of the people of that country. Only by integrating the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the country can one enrich and develop Marxism-Leninism. It is essential to sum up one's experience, both positive and negative, in the course of practice. The Chinese Communist Party has gained rich experience. In spite of the errors it has made by following "Left" or Right lines on different occasions, it has acquired important positive experience.
- Each Party must think independently with regard to revolution and construction in its own country. Only independent thinking will prevent it from repeating the negative experience of other countries and enable it to draw on their positive experience. I understand that there are many people who do not think independently and who merely follow others blindly; it is not easy to change this mentality. Of course, independent thinking does not mean arrogance or arbitrariness and it does notmean refusal to accept the Communist International's good ideas. Chen Duxiu was arrogant and arbitrary. So was Comrade Li Lisan, who held that we should try to take Wuhan and win victory first in one province or several provinces; that one or more victories of this kind would herald nationwide victory; that we should argue it out with the Communist International after we had taken Wuhan; that the Soviet Union should send troops to help when there was an upsurge in the Chinese revolution; and that with the success of the Chinese revolution, the capitalist class in Britain, the United States, France and other countries would be doomed and world revolution would begin. Comrade Li Lisan would certainly laugh at those ideas if he reviewed them now.
- In revolution and construction, a country should act independently and rely on its own efforts. Comrade Mao Zedong once observed that both revolutions in the two big countries, the Russian October Revolution and the Chinese revolution, succeeded when the Communist International was not in existence. Under the present circumstances, if a new international organization should be established, it would be difficult to achieve political and economic equality among its members.
- When examining the experience of the Communist International, we should take an all-round view. Stalin was in charge for a long time, and there were many shortcomings and mistakes. But not everything during his period was wrong. Even in the second period of the International during Stalin's late years, he did more to encourage than to discourage revolutionary movements. When we held our ground, he could still accept our views and implicitly acknowledge his mistakes. Once his doubts proved to be misplaced, he was willing to change his mind. For instance,he doubted if we were genuine Marxists and if we wanted to oppose the imperialists, but he changed his views at the time of the Korean war. So Stalin was reasonable. It is true that he erred on the question of the Chinese revolution, but the Chinese comrades should take greater responsibility for the mistakes made in that revolution, because we were the decisive factor. Moreover, we have already realized and corrected our mistakes, and our revolution has already succeeded.
- Unity is paramount, and long live internationalism. This is a matter of principle now, just as it was in the past. By unity, we mean unity based on principle. If there are differences, we should try to proceed from the desire for unity and resolve them by means of appropriate criticism and struggle so as to achieve unity on a new basis. At the same time, criticism should be made on the right occasion and in a friendly way, and it should be based on facts and reasoning. If this approach doesn't work right away, one must be patient, because it takes time. The Chinese Party has had much experience in this regard. The Party committed "Left" errors three times in a periodof eight years during the Second Revolutionary Civil War (1927-37), and it took us ten years, from the Zunyi Meeting in 1935 to the Seventh Party Congress in 1945, to correct them. If this is the case with a single Party, it is all the more so with the Communist International. We must hold high the banner of unity. That means unity with millions of Party members and 200 million other people in the Soviet Union, with members of other fraternal Parties and with the more than 90 per cent of the people throughout the world who want to make revolution.
Now I should like to deal with the relations between the Communist International and our Party in different periods.
- The First Period of the Communist International (March 1919-July 1927).
In this period the Communist International was helpful to the Chinese revolution, although it made mistakes on a few questions of principle.
After its inception in March 1919, the International sent missions to different countries to visit prominent public figures and work on them. In China they approached not only Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao but also Jiang Kanghu, Huang Jiemin and Dai Jitao; they called on Wu Peifu in the north and on Sun Yat-sen in the south. With the help of the International, the Chinese Communist Party was founded in a very short time, because the May 4th Movement had already laid the foundation for it. The Chinese Party soon identified itself with the struggle of the masses. By that time the International had begun to devote more time to China issues in its discussions. The question of revolution in the East was discussed at both its Second Congress in 1920 and its Third Congress in 1921. During its Fourth Congress the International held a serious debate on the Chinese revolution, and after that it recruited many Chinese intellectuals to study in Moscow. In 1923 it adopted a resolution on co-operation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, which allowed Party members to join the Kuomintang but stipulated that the Party should maintain its independence. It also discussed the possibility of launching an agrarian revolution in China and sent us instructions on the matter. When the Chinese Communist Party convened its Third Congress in June 1923, there were two dominant views, the "Left" and the Right. The Right view, represented by Chen Duxiu, was that the Chinese revolution was a bourgeois-democratic revolution and should therefore be led by the bourgeoisie, with the proletariat only playing a supporting role; and there was no mention at all of the question of leadership to be exercised by the proletariat. The "Left" view, represented by Zhang Guotao, was that only a few Communist Party members, and none from the working class, should join the Kuomintang. In fact, both views denied leadership by the proletariat. Although at its Fourth Congress the Party adopted resolutions criticizing these views, the problem still remained. As we see it now, the criticism was not directed at the real issue. The mass movement was already in full swing at the time, but wrong decisions were made on major issues because the opportunism represented by Chen Duxiu still held sway. During the Second Congress of the Kuomintang, its right-wingers, such as the Western Hills Clique, became much more aggressive than before. But prior to that there had been a rapid increase in the strength of the left-wing forces in the Kuomintang, after its defeat of the Merchants' Corps in Guangdong and its Eastern Expeditions against Chen Jiongming. The policy of the period, which could have been successful, should have been to support the left wing while excluding the right wing. But Chen Duxiu insisted on the right-wingers returning to the Kuomintang and being elected at its Second Congress. As a result, the right-wingers became more arrogant. We also made concessions on military matters. Our Party was caught off guard when Chiang Kai-shek attacked us by launching the Zhongshan Warship Incident and destroyed part of our power base in the military. We were by no means weak and should have fought back, but we failed to do so. As a result, we only had the Independent Regiment in the National Revolutionary Army, which expanded into two divisions when it reached Wuhan. At the time of the Northern Expedition, we should have tried to gain the support of the masses and the military. But while the Northern Expedition was going on, our Party organ, The Guide, which was based in Shanghai and expressed Chen Duxiu's views, opposed the expedition, arguing that as it was a time of wars between the warlords, our people in Guangdong should not have started the Expedition, but should have defended themselves and engaged in mass struggle. Thus, our Party gave up its leadership in the Expedition. When the agrarian revolution was in full swing and Comrade Mao Zedong's article was published, the Central Committee gave them no support. At that time, Chen Duxiu was really afraid of the revolution and the masses. The Executive Committee of the Communist International likewise made an inaccurate analysis of the China question, and its Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Plenums made mistakes in their analysis of the strength of various classes in China. In particular, the Eighth Plenum, held in May 1927, concluded that the bourgeoisie as a whole had turned traitor. Furthermore, the International maintained that after the betrayal by the Wuhan Government, the petty bourgeoisie had also given up the revolution. As for the question of leadership, proletarian leadership was already in embryonic form during the period of Kuomintang-Communist co-operation in 1924, and by the time of the First Congress of the Kuomintang, the Communist Party had already assumed a leading role. As a matter of course, our Party should have taken hold of the army, and it was entirely possible for us to have done so during the time of the revolutionary regime in Guangdong, but the Central Committee gave up the leadership. Then Lenin died, and Stalin, preoccupied with his fierce struggle with the opposition in the Party, was entirely unable to formulate a precise policy because he was not well informed about the Chinese revolution. As the centre of the Chinese revolution was in Guangdong, the centre of the Party -- its headquarters -- should also have been moved there. But the Party was still headquartered in Shanghai, and Chen Duxiu simply refused to go to Guangdong when he was asked to. Thus, the two centres often came into conflict. It was long after Wuhan was taken that the Party's headquarters were finally moved to Wuhan. In view of all this, our Party's leaders should assume greater responsibility for the mistakes in the first period. At that time Comrade Mao Zedong had not yet established his authority; it was impossible for him to do so. Moreover, the leaders of the Party had not yet acquired a deep understanding of Marxism-Leninism, and there was factionalism among them, which was aggravated by Chen Duxiu's patriarchal style of work. All this hindered the political and ideological development of the Party.
- The Second Period of the Communist International (July 1927-July 1935).
During this period the line of the Communist International was basically wrong, and its influence on our Party was most serious. In July 1927 the Wuhan Government betrayed the revolution, exposing the bankruptcy of Chen Duxiu's capitulationist line. At this critical moment, the Executive Committee of the International sent a letter to our Central Committee. In this letter the Executive Committee expressed optimism about the future of the revolution but failed to make a correct analysis of its motive power and of the relations among classes, asserting that the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie had all betrayed the revolution. It proposed seven tasks for the revolution: 1) to withdraw from the Wuhan Government; 2) to issue a declaration 3) to stay in the Kuomintang and organize a left wing within it; 4) to organize workers' struggles; 5) to arm the workers and the peasants; 6) to prepare for the possibility of going underground; and 7) to oppose opportunism. These tasks did not include organizing, armed forces, setting up local governments or deepening the agrarian revolution, which were precisely the things we should have been concentrating on.
The question of opposing Chen's opportunism, must be related to the question of organization. The International sent Borodin to our Party, and at a meeting of the Political Bureau he directly interfered with our internal affairs by setting up a provisional-standing committee. This decision was approved in haste. A declaration issued by the Central Committee on July 13 only mentioned withdrawing from the Wuhan Government. At that time our Party still had some armed forces, such as those commanded by Ye Ting, so we decided to start the Nanchang Uprising. The aim of the uprising was to march south to Shantou, occupy the port there and then proceed to Guangzhou. It was a correct move, but the leadership did not understand the uprising correctly. They conceived of it as a purely military action, based on the view that the cities were of primary importance, without any notion of integrating with the local peasants to establish base areas in the countryside. The International sent a few representatives to China, and under the direction of B. Lominadze, a meeting of the Party was held in Hankou on August 7. At this meeting the Party took a clear-cut stand against opportunism, but it failed to make a correct summary, give correct instructions or set forth definite tasks in connection with such important questions as how to integrate our struggle with the agrarian revolution, how to push forward the mass movement and how to organize armed forces, governments and base areas. When Zhang Tailei came to Shantou to brief us on the meeting, he only criticized opportunism and didn't tell us how to do our work. As I still held the view that cities were of primary importance and had not drawn any lessons from the Shang-hai-Uprisings and the Nanchang Uprising, I did not see the need to go up into the mountains and engage in rural struggles.
The failure of the Chinese revolution made the opposition faction attack Stalin more fiercely. In 1927 Stalin wrote a series of articles in an attempt to refute their views, but his theoretical analysis of the Chinese revolution and his appraisal of the situation were in large part incorrect. He maintained that the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie had left the revolutionary camp one after the other, that the revolution would soon reach high tide and that it was rapidly turning into a socialist revolution. Influenced by the theoretical analyses and estimate of the situation made by Stalin and by the Communist International, the enlarged meeting of the Provisional Political Bureau of the Central Committee held in November 1927 adopted a putschist line, calling for insurrection everywhere and insisting that the revolution was already at high tide. Organizationally, many people in the Party were given disciplinary punishment, one of the outstanding cases being the expulsion of Tan Pingshan. Comrade Mao Zedong and people like myself were all disciplined. At the November Meeting the Central Committee decided to stage the Guangzhou Uprising, but without setting forth any definite aims. A German and a man from the Soviet Union helped to direct the insurrection. After the failure of the uprising and the death of Comrade Zhang Tailei, the Central Committee sent Comrade Li Lisan to Hong Kong to direct the work in Guangdong Province. This was the zenith of putschism. Guangdong suffered from it most, and the number of cadres killed there was the largest. Because the Party failed to draw the lesson of the uprisings in Shanghai, Nanchang and Guangzhou, the political line still called for insurrection everywhere, which resulted in a great loss of revolutionary strength, especially in the White areas. Another mistake that was made, organizationally, was to replace the Party leaders with people from the working class, which caused more confusion in the leading body and aggravated factionalism. The root cause of this too lay in the instructions of the Communist International.
Now a few words about the Sixth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The Sixth Congress was convened in accordance with a resolution adopted by the Ninth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. A delegation from the Chinese Communist Party, including Xiang Zhongfa and others had taken part in that Plenum. With regard to the Sixth Congress, there was first of all a problem concerning the delegates who attended it. Because of the emphasis on working-class origin, there were 41 workers among the 75 delegates. Fourteen of the 16 delegates who later turned traitor were workers. The persons who directed the work of the Sixth Congress on behalf of the Communist International included Bukharin, a French comrade and Togliatti, but the practical work was under the charge of Mif. When members of the Central Committee were elected, too much emphasis was placed on working-class origin. Many of the 20-odd members elected were workers, while some comrades who really had high prestige in the Party were left out. After the Congress, Qu Qiubai and Zhang Guotao stayed in Moscow to serve as executive members of the Communist International. In its resolutions the Sixth Congress made a correct analysis of the nature of the Chinese revolution (a bourgeois-democratic revolution) and its tasks (to oppose imperialism and feudalism), but an incorrect analysis of class relations and so on; alleging that the entire bourgeoisie and the whole upper stratum of the petty bourgeoisie had betrayed the revolution. On the land question, the resolutions stated only that the land of the landlord class should be confiscated and handed over to a peasants conference for redistribution, and the military question was given no special mention. After the Sixth Congress, the faction in Sun Yat-sen University headed by Wang Ming mustered its forces to oppose the Chinese delegation to the Communist International. Sun Yat-sen University, which was founded in Moscow in 1925 with Mif as its Vice-President, had enrolled some of our Party cadres from the period of the Great Revolution and also some young people, including ones like Wang Ming and some left-wingers from the Kuomintang. Factional strife was rife at the University, and it continued after the Sixth Congress. In opposing the Chinese delegation, the Wang Ming faction was in fact opposing the Central Committee of the Chinese Party, asserting that it was no longer competent and its members must be changed. Under the influence of the purge carried out by the C.P.S.U.(Bolsheviks), things had gone from bad to worse in 1929 and 1930; people were expelled from the Party on the merest suspicion and some were even banished.
After the Sixth Congress, the Communist International sent a Polish comrade and a German comrade to China. In 1929 four letters came from the International. In the first letter it enjoined us to oppose the Right tendency, in the second to oppose alliance with the rich peasants, in the third to make the Red trade unions public and in the fourth to oppose the Reorganization Clique (Wang Jingwei and Chen Gongbo) and the third force. All these letters had an influence on Li Lisan's line. The fourth letter claimed that the situation was growing ripe for direct revolution and called for political strikes to prepare for it.
I went to the Communist International in March 1930. In July I saw Stalin, who was closely following the military struggles in China. A resolution about the China question was adopted by the Political Secretariat of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, with the six resolutions of the Far Eastern Bureau attached to it as an appendix. Stalin said that there were too many resolutions for China to implement, that it would be better for us to consider them as mere drafts. In China, on June 11, the Li Lisan line was adopted. According to this line, the Party should win victory first in one or more provinces, and such a victory would mark the beginning of the revolution in the whole of China. At the same time, plans were made to stage insurrections throughout the country and to seize Wuhan, Nanchang, Changsha and other big cities. Later, Changsha was taken, and two enlarged meetings of the Political Bureau were held in succession on August 1 and 3. Li Lisan said that he would argue it out with the Communist International after seizing Wuhan. Although the Li Lisan line was followed for only three or four months, it brought great losses to Party organizations in many places. The Central Committee therefore convened its Third Plenary Session in September. There were still "Left" influences because the seven resolutions of the Communist International were relayed to the Session. Xiang Zhongfa and I made reports, Qu Qiubai delivered a concluding speech, and Li Lisan gave a talk. Li Lisan was sharply criticized at the Session, but the wording in the final resolution was not so sharp. The Third Plenary Session also made some mistakes. For example, He Mengxiong was criticized and so was Chen Shaoyu (Wang Ming). Some of the criticisms were correct but others were not. At the Session a number of people were added to the Central Committee, but He Mengxiong was not among them. In fact, however, many of He's opinions were correct. The practice of sending inspectors to local areas like imperial envoys also started with the Third Plenary Session. At that time, the Communist International complained that the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party was not paying enough attention to the Soviet areas. Accordingly, the Central Committee sent quite a few people to those areas, adversely affecting the work there.
In October 1930 a letter came from the International saying that the Central Committee was wrong and was following a "line of conciliation". Wang Ming and others began to make trouble. Furthermore, the coming of Mif threw the Party into crisis. Wang Ming wrote a pamphlet asking the Central Committee to hold an emergency meeting and change its leadership. Hence the Fourth Plenary Session. The Session rejected the draft resolutions we had prepared and Mif himself drafted new ones. The Third Plenary Session had followed the resolution on China adopted by the Political Secretariat of the Executive Committee of the International. The Fourth Plenary Session did likewise and, backed by the letter from the International, took an ultra-"Left" approach opposing Li Lisan's "Left" line and adopted a resolution condemning it. After the Fourth Plenary Session, Wang Ming's pamphlet became increasingly influential. Taking an even more "Left" stand, he opposed Li Lisan's so-called Right tendency and the "line of conciliation" of the Third Plenary Session and formulated an even more "Left" line. This, together with the betrayal of some leading members of the Central Committee, caused great losses to our Party.
In August 1931 Mif returned to the Soviet Union. In August the Communist International adopted a resolution that criticized the Third Plenary Session of the Central Committee, asserting that the Chinese Party was much strengthened after the Fourth Plenary Session when, in fact, it was in greater disarray. The Fourth Plenary Session retained me in the Political Bureau but expelled Qu Qiubai. Later, Wang Ming went to the International, Zhang Guotao and Chen Changhao to the Hubei-Henan-Anhui Soviet Area and I to the Central Soviet Area. At that time, only a few people were left in the central organ, most of the members having been sent to different places to seize power. A provisional central leadership of the Party was formed in Shanghai with the approval of the International. It adopted a resolution on the September 18th Incident of 1931, and in January 1932 it adopted another which called for winning victory first in one or more provinces and seizing major cities. Some comrades who held correct views, like Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi, were accused of being guilty of "Right deviation". After the Ningdu Meeting, Comrade Mao Zedong was removed from the leadership of the army. In 1933 there was another struggle against the Luo Ming line and against Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zetan, Xie Weijun and Gu Bai -- all the comrades who held correct views were attacked. Jiangxi Province suffered the most, because in early 1933 the provisional central leadership was moved there to carry out the line of the Communist International. As a result, the Party lost almost 100 per cent of its strength in the White areas and 90 per cent in the Soviet areas. On military matters, Li Teh, though just an advisor, acted like an overlord and had the final say. He agreed with the military line of Bo Gu, and his line prevailed until the Zunyi Meeting. The implementation of that line ended in the withdrawal from Jiangxi Province and the forced Long March. Looking back, we must admit that there was no alternative. It was at the Zunyi Meeting that Comrade Mao Zedong corrected the erroneous line on military matters and saved the Chinese revolution. But for the Zunyi Meeting, the success of the Chinese revolution would have been delayed indefinitely. After the Meeting, although the Party suffered losses during the Long March and was shaken by Zhang Guotao's attempt to split it by setting up a separate "central committee", it weathered storms and difficulties under the leadership of Comrade Mao Zedong and surmounted the crisis it was in.
So in its second period the Communist International made serious mistakes in directing of the Chinese Party. During this period the Chinese Party too made many mistakes that brought great losses to the revolution. Surely we Chinese should bear the responsibility for our mistakes, but the Communist International also had much to do with them.
- The Third Period of the Communist International (1935-43).
In this period the Chinese Party maintained fewer contacts with the Communist International. The International held its Seventh Congress in July-August 1935. Stalin was more concerned with domestic problems, and Dimitrov was in charge of the International. A resolution was passed to the effect that the Executive Committee should shift the focus of its work to formulating the basic political and tactical lines for the international workers' movement and that in general it should not interfere in the internal affairs of the Parties in various countries. At that time the International developed the Anti-Fascist United Front, which coincided with the formation of the anti-Japanese National United Front in China. When Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng arrested Chiang Kai-shek in the Xi'an Incident, the International openly declared that Zhang was a running dog of the Japanese imperialists and that the arrest of Chiang Kai-shek suited the needs of Japan. This judgement was completely wrong. Our own approach to the Xi'an Incident was, on the whole, correct.
Although Comrade Mao Zedong was in charge of the Chinese Party during this period, the Communist International still had its influence. The main problem was the reappearance of the Wang Ming line. Wang Ming came back from the International at the end of 1937 and said that he had talked with Stalin. Claiming to speak for the International, he proposed that "everything should go through the united front" and declared that the Kuomintang, like the Communist Party, had rallied excellent young people around it. After his return Wang Ming was placed in charge of the Changjiang Bureau. He deceived a number of people and pushed through his line a second time. Though this line was implemented for only a short time, it had an influence on the north, on the New Fourth Army and on Shanghai. It cannot be denied that the reappearance of the Wang Ming line had something to do with the Communist International. Stalin trusted Wang Ming, and Dimitrov was on friendly terms with him. Later, when I went to Moscow to talk about Wang Ming's errors, Dimitrov was surprised by what I had to say. After the Zunyi Meeting a new situation appeared in our Party under the leadership of Mao Zedong. At the Sixth Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee Wang Ming was criticized, and as many cadres began to know him better, he gradually became isolated. Even Chiang Kai-shek rejected him, refusing to make him a minister. Comrade Mao Zedong said that things would have been worse if Wang Ming had been given a ministerial post.
In 1939 Hitler's Germany launched the Second World War. The mutual non-aggression pact signed by the Soviet Union and Germany placed the Parties in the capitalist countries in a difficult position and caused much ideological confusion. On September 1 Comrade Mao Zedong gave his "Interview with a New China Daily Correspondent on the New International Situation", a transcript of which I brought to the Communist International to be distributed to the other fraternal Parties. The International thought very highly of it, saying that the leaders of the Chinese Party were right and giving them great support.
During this period the Communist International still interfered to some extent in the internal affairs of our Party, even on organizational matters. But it interfered less than in the first period and much less than in the second period. After the war broke out it interfered very little. Also, by that time our Party had become mature and maintained little contact with the International. In 1943 the Communist International was dissolved.