William Henry Chamberlin | Soviet Russia: A Living Record and a History
To overthrow the existing political, economic, and social order in every country on the face of the globe and to establish a world federation of socialist Soviet Republics is the avowed goal of the Communist International, sometimes called "the general staff of the world revolution." In its constitution, adopted at its first congress, held in Moscow in March 1919, the International is described as "a union of Communist parties of all countries into one proletarian party, which fights for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the creation of a world union of socialist Soviet Republics, for the complete destruction of classes and the achievement of socialism - that first stage of communist society." The Sixth Congress of the Communist International, which ended its sessions in the Trade-Union Hall (formerly the Noblemen's Club) in Moscow early in September 1928, reasserted these basic objectives, simultaneously publishing a detailed pro-gramme of revolutionary strategy and tactics.
Governments have reacted in very different ways to the audacious challenge to their authority represented by the International. In the democratic countries of Western and Northern Europe and in the United States of America the Communists are free to carry on propaganda by speech and press, to organize political parties and elect representatives to national and local legislative bodies. In nearly all the countries of Eastern and Southern Europe identification as a Communist is apt to entail a long and indefinite prison sentence. And in China even the false suspicion of being a Communist, during the last two years, has been likely to stimulate the. activity of the local general's beheading squad.
The Communist International is a product of the World War and the Russian Revolution. The War created an irreparable split in the ranks of the Second International, which up to that time had united the Socialist parties of the world in a loose federation. The majority of the Socialists in the various warring countries placed national defense ahead of loyalty to the international working-class movement and collaborated more or less heartily with the war-time governments. In every Socialist party there was a pacifist minority, which sought to end the War by negotiation and agreement. As against both these viewpoints, Lenin in his Swiss exile, and small extremist groups in the European Socialist movement which shared his ideas, championed the theory that the World War must end in a world revolution, which should sweep away completely the capitalist system. The slogan which Lenin propounded in response to the World War was not "Peace," but "Turn the imperialistic war into a civil war."
The Bolshevik seizure of power in November 1917 placed Russia in the hands of a Party which was thoroughly committed to the theory that the final victory of socialism could be achieved only through violent revolution, supported by the combined efforts of the working classes of various capitalist countries. But war-time legislation, the geographical isolation of Russia, and. the desperate internal struggle which the Bolsheviks were obliged to wage in order to maintain them-selves in power were all factors delaying the spread of Bolshevik ideas beyond Russia's frontiers.
The end of the War marked for Eastern and Central Europe a period of political confusion and economic hardship which provided the most favorable soil for the rapid spread of extreme revolutionary doctrines among the hungry, war-weary, and embittered masses. The year 1919 witnessed the establishment of short-lived Soviet republics in Hungary, Bavaria, and Latvia, two rebellions of the Spartacides, or extremist wing of the German Social Democrats in Berlin itself, and many smaller outbursts of revolutionary discontent. And in March 1919 the Third, or Communist, International was formally launched in Moscow at a meeting of some twoscore representatives of the Russian Communist Party and of various revolutionary groups in other countries.
More important in the history of the Communist International was the Second Congress, held in Moscow in July and August 1920, with a much fuller attendance from, countries in all parts of the world. By this time the post-war mood of revolt among the more radical elements in the European working class, which at first had been largely spontaneous and comparatively unorganized, had begun to crystallize in the formation of national Communist parties, while at the same time the growing unrest in India, Egypt, and the countries of the Near and Middle East suggested to "the general staff of the world revolution" in Moscow that Asia, as well as Europe, presented a promising field for agitation.
At the Second Congress of the International the Indian Communist, M. N. Roy, propounded the thesis that European capitalism draws much of its strength from colonial countries, so that the liberation of these countries is a direct aid to the revolutionary struggle of the European workers. The resolution adopted by the Congress on the national and colonial question emphasizes in the following terms the obligation of all Communist parties to support movements of nationalist revolt in the East: -
"Help from all Communist parties to revolutionary movements in nations which are in a dependent and unequal position (for instance, in Ireland, among the Negroes of America, etc.) is indispensable. . . . All Communist parties must show to revolutionary liberating movements in colonial countries help in fact; and the form of support must be considered with the Communist Party of the country concerned, wherever such a party exists. The obligation to show most active help first of all lies on the workers of the country on which the back-ward nation depends in its colonial and financial relations."
Karl Radek, then an active figure in the councils of the Inter-national, summed up the policy of colonial revolution more succinctly when he said: "We shall unite the workers of the West with the peasants of the East in a common struggle against imperialism."
The First and Second Congresses worked out a constitution for the International which has survived, with minor changes and additions, to the present time. In strong distinction to the Second International, where the individual member par-ties went their own way with practically no control from any central organ, the Communist International lays down as a fundamental rule the observance of strict, almost military discipline and the complete subordination of the individual parties to the decisions of the Executive Committee of the International in Moscow. In the resolutions of the Second Congress one finds the following significant observations on the role and character of the parties which make up the Inter-national: -
"All class war is political struggle. The object of this struggle, which unavoidably turns into civil war, is the con-quest of political power. . . . To lead the working class successfully in the approaching long and stubborn civil war the Communist Party itself must create iron military order within its own ranks."
The resolutions of the Communist International on constitutional questions bristle with points designed to avert any out-cropping of factional indiscipline within individual parties and to prevent a relapse into nonrevolutionary methods of parliamentary and trade-union activity during the intervals between periods of sharp upheaval. Communist parties are required to participate in electoral campaigns in countries where they enjoy a legal existence; but every Communist candidate for public office must sign a declaration to the effect that he will be responsible to the Party Central Committee in all his work and will lay down his office at the demand of the Central Committee. Every Communist newspaper must be controlled absolutely by the Party of the country in which it is published. Under the third and fourth of twenty-one conditions, which the Second Congress laid down as obligatory for all parties desiring to affiliate with the International, Communists are required to create a parallel illegal apparatus, even in countries where they are permitted to function legally, and to carry on illegal agitation among the soldiers and sailors. A number of French Communists have been arrested and sentenced to terms in prison on charges of carrying on "antimilitaristic work" of this sort, and British and American Communists have claimed credit for distributing anti-imperialistic leaflets among British and American troops en route to China and Nicaragua, although without any great visible success.
Just as the individual Communist in all his political activities is subordinated to the Central Committee of the Party to which he belongs, so this Central Committee, in turn, is subordinated to the supreme authority in the International, the Executive Committee, with its seat in Moscow. Decisions of the Executive Committee take precedence over those of any national Communist party; the programme of every affiliated party must be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval; and the latter organization is supposed to receive a copy of the minutes of all sessions of Central Committees of national parties. Moreover, the Executive Committee possesses and makes extensive use of the right to send its representatives to watch over the activities of the national parties. These representatives are entitled to participate in the councils of the national Party Central Committees; and a word from one of these direct envoys from Moscow is sometimes sufficient to deflect the course of policy pursued by a national party. The initiative for the recent decision of the British Communist Party to oppose Labor Party candidates actively in elections is generally believed to have come from the Executive Committee of the Communist International, and instructions from Moscow in 1924 caused the Workers' Party (the name adopted by the Communist Party of America for purpose of legalization) to reverse an earlier decision to support the presidential candidacy of the late Senator La Follette, thereby doubtless giving that statesman much relief. More recently a minor squabble in the German Communist Party, in which the well-known German Communist, Ernst Thalmann, was subjected to a vote of censure by the Central Committee of the German party, was promptly and vigorously straightened out by the Executive Committee of the International, which upheld Thalmann and induced the majority of the German Party Central Committee to repudiate their vote of censure.
The supreme authority in the Communist International, according to its constitution, is the World Congress, a body which has been convened at irregular and steadily lengthening intervals. Four hundred and seventy-five delegates, representing fifty-eight parties, participated in the last World Congress, which sat in Moscow from the middle of July until the beginning of September, 1928. The number of delegates which each Party is entitled to send is determined on the double basis of the numerical strength of the Party and the political importance of the country which it represents.
After concluding its sessions the World Congress elected a new Executive Committee of fifty-nine members, which will function as the highest authority until the next Congress. This Committee chose from its members a smaller group of twenty-nine, the so-called Presidium, which will meet more often than the rather large and unwieldy Executive Committee. The Presidium in turn put out a still smaller group of thirteen as members of the Political Secretariat, a body which super-vises much of the routine technical work of organization and administration and to a certain extent steers and directs the deliberations of the Executive Committee. The office of President of the Executive Committee, formerly held by Gregory Zinoviev, has been abolished since Zinoviev fell into political disfavor in Russia and was removed from his post. Nikolai Bukharin, editor of the All-Union Communist Party official daily newspaper, Pravda, delivered the leading speeches at the Congress and seems to have inherited the substance of Zinoviev's former power.
As a result of its numbers and its possession of many prominent Marxist theoreticians the German Social Democracy always played a conspicuous role in the pre-war Second Inter-national. By force of circumstances the All-Union Communist Party plays an even more dominant role in the Communist International. Theoretically a combination of other parties could outvote the delegates of the Soviet Union on a question of tactics or policy. Between seventy and eighty of the delegates at the Congress and three of the thirteen members of the Political Secretariat belong to the All-Union Communist Party. But in practice the opinion of the All-Union'Communist Party has always become the opinion of the International. The foreign Communist parties are dependent on Russia for everything, from subsidies and a political asylum to the ideological excuse for their own existence. For the programme of the International, adopted by its Sixth Congress, is nothing but a universalization of the Russian Revolution, an attempt to apply all over the world, with minor variations for individual national peculiarities, the methods and tactics of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution. Therefore, it is not surprising that every new declaration of Russian Communist policy, every change in the personnel of Russian Communist leadership, should be promptly and unreservedly approved by the foreign Communist parties. The appeals which Trotzky and other heretics of Russian Communism have addressed to the International against decisions of the All-Union Communist Party were condemned in advance to contemptuous rejection.
The iron discipline imposed by the International has produced its fair share of rebels and dissidents. Paul Levy, Ruth Fischer, and Maslov in Germany, Souvarine and Treint in France, Bordiga in Italy, Walton Newbold in England - these are only a few names of persons who played more or less prominent roles in the Communist movements of their respective countries and ultimately left or were expelled from the ranks. Some of these former Communists were drawn into opposition by personal or political sympathy with Trotzky or Zinoviev; others disagreed with the policies which the International prescribed for their countries; but all were summarily dealt with under the strict disciplinary rules of the organization. In no case, however, have these individual seceders organized effective rival Communist parties of their own or seriously weakened the numerical strength of the parties which they left. The explanation for this fact is fairly simple. Not only are the Ruth Fischers and Maslovs, the Souvarines and Treints, necessarily lacking in the resources of the world-wide organization of the International, but also they are deprived of one of the most effective arguments in appealing to workers to abandon their traditional Social Democratic organizations: the argument based on the real or supposed achievements of the Soviet Union. Opposition to the policies of the International almost inevitably leads to criticism of certain features of the Soviet regime in Russia; Trotzky and his foreign associates justify their campaigns of opposition on the ground that the All-Union Communist Party is yielding to capitalist influences. Criticism of this kind cannot be expected to please any large number of the more radically-minded workmen who have broken with their Social Democratic ties and have come to look on Russia as a sort of proletarian Zion.
A question that often occurs in connection with the activities of the Communist International is whether the Soviet Government may be held responsible for its programme of world revolution. Soviet officials have consistently taken the line that there is no connecting link between the Soviet Government and the International, that the latter is a private organization which enjoys the right. of political asylum in Russia because no other country would tolerate its presence.
Formally a fairly distinct line of separation has been drawn between the activities of the International and those of Soviet state institutions. The International has its own staff of agents and workers, not all of whom, of course, are Russian citizens; and the men whom it delegates for special propagandist and organization missions in foreign countries are not in the foreign diplomatic and commercial service of the Soviet Government. The Russians who hold posts in the governing boards of the International, such as Bukharin, Stalin, and Molotov, are prominent in the Communist Party, but do not hold posts in the Soviet state apparatus. (One exception to this rule may be noted in the recent election of Premier Rykov as a member of the Executive Committee of the International. This was probably due to some exigency of internal Communist Party politics which for the moment took precedence over other considerations.)
At the same time every member of the All-Union Communist Party (and every high Soviet official is a Communist) is ipso factobound by the resolutions of the Communist International, of which the All-Union Communist Party is an important component part. A hostile foreign minister will always be able to pick a quarrel with the Soviet Government on the issue of the Communist International.
From time to time rumors are circulated to the effect that the Soviet Government in some unspecified way will repudiate more strongly the Communist International and its works. Such rumors usually originate in ignorance of Russian conditions and Communist psychology. The Soviet Government already has gone as far as it can in formally professing its dissociation with the propagandist activities of the International and in offering to sign agreements with any country on the basis of mutual nonintervention in each other's affairs.
That the Communist Party will cease to play its present outstanding role in the councils of the International seems most unlikely. That the Russian Revolution is an integral part of a world revolutionary process, which may require decades and generations for completion but which is historically inevitable, is a cardinal tenet of Communist doctrine; and this belief logically imposes on the victorious Communist Party in Russia the obligation to give all practical aid to Communist parties in other countries. Moreover, while the activities of the International at times create difficulties and embarrassments in the matter of advancing Russia's diplomatic and commercial interests abroad, the institution is by no means a pure liability even from the standpoint of the national interests of the Soviet Union. In the work of foreign Communists, who in Germany and France, in Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, have a consider-able measure of working-class support, the Russian Communists see a guaranty of help in the shape of strikes, demonstration, prevention of troop and munition shipments, etc., in the event of any new clash between the Soviet Union and foreign countries. It was not without reason that Bukharin said at the recent Congress of the International: -
"In the present situation our Polish Party stands on a very responsible post. It is clear what a big role our fraternal Polish Party is destined to play in the event of war." (See Communist Party official newspaper, Pravda, July 22, 1928.)
There is no evidence to show that the Communist International receives financial support from the Soviet Government. The budget of the International for 1927 is officially stated at the figure of 1,374,944.60 rubles (about $700,000). The largest item of income in this budget (1,029,367.18) is ascribed to dues and contributions from member parties. The sum of 690,206.85 rubles was assigned in subsidies to Party newspapers and publishing houses and cultural-educational work through schools, circles, clubs, etc. The administrative expenses of the International were given as 595,059.04 rubles.(Published in Pravda ofMarch 8, 1928.)
Part of the appropriation for "cultural-educational work" probably goes for the upkeep of a training school for agitators and propagandists maintained in Moscow and attended by students from foreign Communist parties who are supposed to return to their native countries well grounded in the principles of Marx and Lenin. Training for future Chinese Revolutionists is provided in the Sun Yat Sen University, an institution which was founded in the autumn of 1925, when the relations between the Soviet Union and the Chinese nationalist movement were more cordial than they are at the present time. The Sun Yat Sen University is not directly supported by the Communist International; but the teaching of history, economics, and all related subjects there, as in all Russian higher educational institutions, is distinctly Marxist in tendency, and the two or three hundred Chinese students in the Sun Yat Sen University take a prominent part in all revolutionary demonstration with red banners picturesquely ornamented with Chinese characters. The problem of imparting instruction to these Chinese students at first presented considerable difficulties; lectures had to be translated from Russian into English, the most generally known foreign language in China, and then retranslated into Chinese by the students who possessed a knowledge of English. With longer residence, however, the Chinese students usually acquire a working knowledge of Russian.
Inasmuch as they aim at the conquest of political power and domination of the state by the proletariat, or industrial working class, the Communists naturally attach much importance to spreading their ideas in the trade-unions, which are the chief organizations of the working class. The general line of Communist policy in the trade-union question, as laid down by Lenin, is not to leave or attempt to break up the existing unions, but to capture their leadership by means of the process which the American Communist, William Z. Foster, has described as "boring from within" - that is, working actively in the unions and taking every opportunity to discredit their conservative leadership. In exceptional cases the policy of utilizing the existing unions has been abandoned or modified. In America, where Communist attempts to "bore from within" have encountered a rough reception from the American Federation of Labor officials, efforts have been made to create new unions under Communist leadership in the mining and textile industries. There is a clean split in the French unions, the minority accepting while the majority rejects Communist. leadership; and among the British miners, where Communist influence is especially strong because of the widespread poverty and unemployment, the struggle for control of local organizations, particularly in Scotland, is so bitter as to threaten a complete schism in the organization.
Trade-union groups which accept Communist leadership and guidance are united in the Red Trade-Union International, which, although a separate organization, works in the closest harmony with the Communist International. It is the Communist opposition to the Social Democratic International of Trade-Unions, with headquarters in Amsterdam. The Red Trade-Union International claimed 13,862,209 members for its affiliated labor organizations in 1927. Of this number 10,248,000 belonged to the trade-unions of the Soviet Union, while 2,800,000 were members of Chinese unions which during the last year have been broken up and have ceased to function, at least in the open. In no case have the majority of the workers in a highly industrialized country given their allegiance to the Red Trade-Union International. That organization devotes special attention to work in the young labor movements of the East and of Latin-America, where it attempts to win the workers away from the conservative leadership of the Pan-American Federation of Labor, in which the American Federation of Labor plays a leading role.
The Soviet trade-unions have contributed liberally to the support of strikes in other countries, the contributions from Russia in aid of the British miners' strike in 1926 alone amounting to eleven million rubles. Apart from this, international committees of propaganda, created in every important industry and chiefly financed by the Soviet trade-unions, with a little aid from the revolutionary unions of France and Czecho-Slovakia, have made contributions totaling 632,990.98 rubles in support of strikes in thirty countries during the four-year period from the beginning of 1924 until the end of 1927.(1)
The relations between the Red Trade-Union International and its Socialist rival at Amsterdam have been consistently hostile. On several occasions and in various ways the Red International has made overtures for a conference with the Amsterdam body ostensibly for the purpose of restoring unity in the international working-class movement. Amsterdam has invariably rejected these proposals on the ground that they represent merely a Communist propaganda manoeuvre.
For a time the Soviet trade-unions achieved a noteworthy diplomatic success by establishing friendly contact with the British Trade-Union Council, one of the largest organizations in the Amsterdam International. British labor delegations toured Russia and published laudatory reports about Soviet conditions; the President of the Soviet Trade-Union Council, Mikhail Tomsky, was invited to address the British Trade-Union Congress in Scarborough in the autumn of 1925; and an Anglo-Russian trade-union committee was set up to pro-mote closer cooperation between the labor movements of the two countries.
This state of affairs, however, did not survive the unsuccessful general strike and miners' strike in England in 1926. The Russian Communist trade-unionists regarded the general strike as a revolutionary struggle which must be fought to the bitter end and did not spare words in denouncing the "treachery" of the British labor leaders who called it off.
The British trade-union leaders, on their side, strongly resented what they considered Russian dictation in British internal labor matters; and the Edinburgh Congress of the British trade-unions in 1927 voted to abolish the Anglo-Russian Committee. Since that time the British labor leaders have been further exasperated by the Communists' attempt to undermine their leadership through the agency of the so-called Minority Movement, which unites the radical insurgent elements in the British unions. Official British trade-unionism is now thoroughly hostile to communism.
Despite their strenuous and persistent efforts, there seems little likelihood that the Communists will achieve their end of capturing the leadership of the trade-union movement in Western Europe and America. The more experienced organizers and skillful bargainers in the trade-unions of every country are most often to be found in the camp of the moderate Socialists. The inevitable political-mindedness of the Communists sometimes leads them to overlook the details of preparation which are important in labor strategy and to rush the workers into strikes where there is little prospect of success, thereby creating bitter subsequent disillusionment. Trade-unions, like parliaments, are institutions which the Communists can scarcely hope to conquer except in the sweep of a major social upheaval.
The Communist International possesses several other subsidiary organizations, including the Communist International of Youth, a young people's organization which claims 127,232 members outside of Russia, and the Sport International, which unites the radical working-class sport clubs of Europe. Zinoviev once hailed the participants in the athletic contests of the Sport International as the future Red Guard of the European revolution. There is a Peasant International; but the influence of this body is very limited.
What are the present forces at the disposal of the International, and what are the prospects of partial or complete success in realizing its programme of world revolution ? The total membership of the Communist parties of the world, outside of the Soviet Union, was stated to be 583,105 in a report submitted to the last Congress of the International. The largest of these parties are those of Germany, with 125,000, and Czecho-Slovakia, with 138,000. After these countries come France, with 56,000 Communists; China, with 30,000; and Sweden, with 17,000. There are about 14,000 Communists in America and 7000 in Great Britain.(2) In other countries the strength of the Communist parties is either negligible or, as in Poland and Italy, impossible to ascertain exactly because of the illegal conditions under which the parties of these countries carry on their work.
The events of the last decade have demonstrated the fallacy of one theory which for a time was strongly championed by Lenin and which animated the deliberations of the first two Congresses of the International: the theory that the World War sounded the immediate or imminent death knell of the capitalist system all over the world. The stabilization of capitalism in Europe to-day is grudgingly conceded even by Communists, although they qualify this admission with the adjectives "partial" and "temporary."
The European political horizon to-day nowhere reveals any very threatening clouds of Communist revolt. In Germany and France, in Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, as recent election returns indicate, the Communists possess the support of a substantial minority of the industrial working class. But there is little prospect that, given the continuance of peaceful and normal conditions, this minority will be transformed into a majority, and among other social classes communism enjoys little support.
The Italian Communist Party has been deeply submerged in the wave of Fascism; and the prompt and ruthless suppression of Communist rebellions in Bulgaria in 1923 and in Esthonia in 1924 indicates little chance for a repetition of the Russian Revolution in the Balkan and Baltic states, where the industrial proletariat is weak and the factor which makes peasants revolutionary, the existence of big landed estates, has been to a large extent removed or diminished by the radical agrarian legislation of the post-war period. Of all the Eastern European countries Poland has perhaps been the most susceptible to Communist agitation; the illegal Communist Party of that country mustered 850,000 votes in the last election, despite the repression of the authorities. These Polish Communist votes were recruited not only in such industrial regions as Warsaw, Lodz, and the Dombrowa coal basin, but also in Ukrainian and White Russian peasant districts, where the population is dissatisfied with the intolerant attitude which many Polish officials display toward the non-Polish nationalities. But the ranks of the Polish Communists are rent with internal factional dissensions, and the strong Polish national spirit creates a handicap for the work of a party which its enemies represent as an advance-guard of Russia.
The small size of the British Communist Party is the best indication of its failure to detach any large number of workers from the Labor Party. The results of the new Communist policy of fighting Labor candidates actively at elections, instead of giving them conditional support, as in the past, remain to be seen. Should the Labor Party continue its evolution toward more moderate policies, a part of its more radical membership might conceivably secede to the Communists; but a very large secession indeed would be necessary to bring the British Communists to numerical equality with their colleagues in Germany and France.
The Communists of America, organized in the Workers' Party, constitute a formidable revolutionary force only in the eyes of their own more humorless members and in those of individuals and organizations inclined to conjure up imaginary "menaces" for the benefit of the credulous and ill-informed. The comparatively high standard of living of the American workers, the social fluidity which makes it much easier to pass from one class to another in America than in Europe, and the racial division which finds expression in the filling of the highly paid skilled trades with native Americans while the more poorly paid unskilled labor falls in large part to immigrants of recent arrival - all these factors have hitherto held back the development of even the most moderate forms of socialism and trade-unionism in America.
The Workers' Party has a resounding programme: To unite the workers and farmers in movements of revolutionary pro-test, to rouse the Negroes to cast off the shackles of racial discrimination,' to organize the masses of Latin-America against the imperialism of Washington and Wall Street, to fill up mighty revolutionary trade-unions with millions of America's now unorganized workers, etc. But the achievements of the 14,000 American Communists, the vast majority of whom belong to the later immigrant stocks of Eastern and Southern Europe, in carrying out this programme can only be described as microscopically slight.(3) There is no country where communism seems less likely to play a significant role in the predictable future than America.
During recent years China has served as an interesting experimental field for the efforts of the Communist International to promote revolution in oriental lands. Pursuing a policy of cooperating with the Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Party, the Chinese Communist Party for a time seemed to achieve a considerable measure of success, growing in numbers and organizing labor and peasant unions in the wake of the advancing Nationalist armies.
But this process of cooperation between the Communists and the progressive young generals, liberal merchants and business men and intellectuals, who led the Kuomintang inevitably ended in a breach. The Kuomintang leaders in the beginning were glad to have Russian generals to plan their campaigns, Russian financial experts to work out their taxation system. They found the political counsels of the Russian High Adviser, Michael Borodin, almost indispensable in building up a governmental apparatus. But when the labor and peasant unions, organized under Communist 'influence, began to put forward extremist demands, when the cities were tied up with strikes and the countryside in some provinces was covered with peasant uprisings, the attitude of the Kuomintang sharply changed; and in the final trial of strength in 1927 the young and weak Chinese Communist Party was decisively defeated. The Communists were expelled from the Kuomintang and from all government offices; their uprising in Canton in December 1927 was crushed. To-day they are a persecuted remnant, completely driven underground in the cities, here and there stirring up guerrilla uprisings in the more turbulent peasant districts.
Notwithstanding its failure to promote any successful revolutions outside of the Soviet Union up to the present time, it would be premature to dismiss the Communist International and its affiliated parties as a force which need not be reckoned with in the future. For there is one unpredictable factor that can upset an established social order almost overnight. This is the factor of modern war. No one in 1914 foresaw the things which the strain of the War made possible in Russia: the first socialist experiment in industry, a federation of Soviet Republics in the place of the Tsarist Empire, the Moscow Hall of the Nobles housing the sessions of the General Staff of the World Revolution. And no one to-day can foresee with certainty what new changes might accompany another large-scale war. The Communists themselves regard war as the stimulus which will hasten the realization of their programme. Here is a significant excerpt in this connection from the pro-gramme of action adopted by the Sixth Congress of the Inter-national: -
"Imperialism with elemental force uncovers and deepens all the contradictions of capitalist society, brings class oppression to its extreme limit, sharpens to the point of exceptional strain the struggle between capitalist states, makes inevitable imperialistic wars of world dimensions which shake up the whole system of governing relations, and with iron necessity leads to the world revolution of the proletariat." (Published in Pravda of September 4, 1928.)
And Nikolai Bukharin, ending his opening speech before the Congress, where one could see side by side Germans who fought on the barricades of Hamburg and Chinese who escaped from the shambles of Canton, American Negroes, Hindu Brahmins, French and German strike-leaders, political refugees of East-ern and Southern Europe, revolutionaries of every race and color, shouted amid applause and the strains of the familiar revolutionary hymn, the "Internationale": -
"When the hour draws near when the fighting banners of imperialism will be raised, our Communist International, all our parties, the endless broad masses of the toilers, will say their word. This word will be the slogan of civil war, the slogan of a life-and-death struggle against imperialism; it will be the victory call of the Communist International."
A fantastic boast or a prophecy ? Only the next great war, if and when it materializes, can give the answer.
(1) Mezhdunarodnoe Profdvizhenie ("International Trade-Union Movement"), 1924-1927. Published by Red Trade-Union International, Moscow, 1928, pp. 82-91 and 536-539.
(2) These figures on the membership of individual Communist parties are taken from semiofficial reports published in the book, Kommunisticheskii International pered shestim vsemirnim kongressom ("The Communist International before the Sixth World Congress"). State Publishing Company, Moscow, 1928.
(3) Belief in the revolutionary potentialities of the Negro is deeply rooted in the circles of the Communist International. Several American Negro orators appeared before the Sixth Congress, and one British delegate suggested that a Negro Soviet Republic should be organized in the Southern States.