Uphold Proletarian Internationalism; Intensify Efforts to Rebuild Communist International! - KN Ramachandran
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!