Source: The Communist International, 1922, Nos. 16–17, p. 31–43.
Transcription: Ted Crawford.
HTML Mark-up: Brian Reid.
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The collapse of the Second International which look place August 4th, 1914, proved that, it had been undermined from within, that it had outlived its time, even before the war, historically, by the course of events. The growth of the influence of the opportunists during the last decade before the war, which was to be observed in spite of the growing acuteness of class inconsistencies among the separate Socialist parties, and the incapacity of the Second International to expose seriously the dangers of a war, proved that only an external cause was lacking for the collapse to take place. Nevertheless the belief in the possibility of its resurrection, the illusion of its possible reform, were so great, even among the revolutionary elements, that the Manifesto of the Central Committee of the Russian Bolsheviki which proclaimed its decease in November, 1914, sounded like a premature post mortem speech by the bedside of a man who is dangerously ill, but whose recovery is not yet quite hopeless. All the attempts of the Bolsheviki, the Polish and Dutch Marxists and the German Left wing radicals in Zimmerwald, to arouse at least the consciousness of the necessity of founding a new bona fide revolutionary International, were futile. Up to the very end of the war the elements which had made it their aim to create a revolutionary International constituted but an insignificant minority. Even after it had become clear that after three years of war the Second International was still unable to stand out for peace, at the Stockholm conference of the Zimmerwaldists, the influential group of “Internationalists” deemed it possible to attend the conference of the social patriots in Stockholm. More than that after the victory of the Russian October Revolution and even eighteen months later, after the victory of the German November Revolution, such advanced revolutionary members of the Communist International as Rosa Luxemburg and Leo Jogiches considered the foundation of a Third Communist International as premature, And now when one reads the newly published minutes of the First Congress of the Communist International, which was held March 6th 1919, one sees clearly how slowly the masses were grouping together for the revolutionary struggle, without which no Communist International can be possible.
The breakdown of the Second International was more decisive than could have been expected by the greatest pessimist. It consisted not only in the treachery of the leaders but also in the fact that before the war the Second International was supported chiefly by the skilled workers, the labour aristocracy, which in spite of all Socialist phrases, were living in comparatively tolerable conditions in the capitalist State, and these conditions in their turn served as a basis for all the democratic and pacifist illusions which the Socialist bureaucracy conscientiously implanted in the minds of the workers. Notwithstanding the enormous sacrifices which had been demanded of the masses, the war had not led to an immediate change in their frame of mind. The workers fighting at the front allowed themselves time and again to be lulled by the hope that they were purchasing for themselves a better future at the price of these sacrifices and sufferings. The workers at the base were bribed by high wages and good food rations which were given to all those who were engaged in hard work in industries that were necessary for the war. The first protests began to be heard in Western Europe on the part of the masses of working women and proletarian youth, and although later on they were caught up by the wider circles of the working class, they did not go further than platonic pacifist complaints against the war and endeavours to induce the Governments to conclude an equitable peace. In two countries only did the opposition weld together the wider masses: in Russia and in Italy. This is to be explained not only by the fact that in these countries the imperialist nature of the war had shown itself particularly openly and cynically, or that the bourgeoisie and its whole State apparatus were specially flabby and rotten, but also and chiefly by the weakness and undeveloped state of the labour aristocracy in both countries. This passivity of the international working class explains the fact that the war did not end in an uprising of the proletariat, but in the victory of one of the Imperialist camps. And for the defeated side the defeat was not the result of an open revolt of the workers in soldiers’ uniforms, but, that of passively borne sufferings, physical exhaustion under the weight of privations bloodshed and the superior forces of the enemy.
In the victorious countries the workers returned home partly intoxicated with the fumes of patriotism partly under the conviction that the bourgeoisie would prove grateful for the sufferings and sacrifices that had been borne and that a democratic era, an epoch of peace, would follow.
Not a proletarian revolution but Wilsonianism, was the slogan of the working masses in the victorious countries. In the defeated countries, on the contrary, the thirst for peace and quiet predominated over all other proletarian feelings: a morsel of bacon was of more value than dreams for the liberation of mankind. All the dangers threatening this liberation did not exist for the masses. In December 1918 animated crowds of workers filled the streets of the larger towns of Germany, enjoying every little source of pleasure accessible to them then, however humble it might be, not stopping to think for a moment what the forthcoming “peace” would bring them.
In all the countries the bourgeoisie managed to carry out demobilisation without any difficulties. And as after the war industry developed rapidly everywhere in consequence of the lack of commodities, the consumers paid willingly any prices that were asked, and the bourgeoisie did not stop at any rise in wages; whole months elapsed before the social conflict entered its acute phase.
In Western Europe the eyes of but an insignificant group of workers were directed towards the banner raised by the Communist International in the spring of 1919. Not only the British Independent Labour Party, not only the French Longuetists, who had just acquired the majority, but also the German Independents found it possible, with a calm conscience, to go to Berne, and there, in co-litany with the followers of Scheidemann, Renaudel and Henderson, endeavour to find methods for the regeneration of the Second International.
Two factors produced a change in this stale of affairs. In all the countries the bourgeoisie rapidly recovered from the fright which the October Revolution had aroused in it, as well as from the fear that demobilisation would induce the workers to settle accounts with it. The bourgeoisie usually makes concessions under pressure; it considers itself bound to pay only when it feels the fist of the proletariat on its neck. But as the proletariat did not clutch its throat, the bourgeoisie tried gradually to shake it off, and at any rate did not dream of making any concessions.
In Germany, by the help of the Social Democrats, the bourgeoisie proceeded to re-establish the elements of its own power by depriving the workers’ and peasants’ councils of all their State functions. In England it would not listen to any nationalisation of the mining industry. In France it united all its reactionary elements under the slogan of a struggle against Bolshevism. Simultaneously with the growing acuteness of the social situation in all countries, the masses began to see clearly, in spite of the Wilsonian illusions with which they were being fed, that the bourgeoisie was totally incapable of establishing even capitalist peace. The peace of Versailles showed openly to the masses what the Communist propaganda had not been able to teach them, namely: that not only no equitable peace, but in general no peace at all can be realised so long as the bourgeoisie is not removed from the helm of State administration.
Instead of consolidating peace, the capitalism of the Entente has ruined Central Europe by the harmful conditions of the Versailles Treaty, and it has begun an open destruction of Eastern Europe by its attacks on Soviet Russia, rapidly putting an end to the period of the temporary economic prosperity which had ensued after the Armistice.
And by degrees, as it became even more evident that the world public economy will not be able to recover if half of the world is condemned to ruin, the workers were faced ever more rigorously with the question: who is to pay for the war? The working masses are growing ever more revolutionised owing, on the one hand, to internal and external circumstances, owing, on the other hand, to the ever more obvious collapse of the capitalist world and its incapacity of restoring even the former capitalist order. In the victorious countries, even in the United States, a wave of strikes broke out, organised by the trade unions in spite of Gompers, or carried out without any preliminary preparation.
In England the Labour movement manifested itself in a revolutionary form. The workers did not limit their demands by pressing for an increase of wages, but they insisted on the nationalisation of the railways and the mines.
In France the working masses did not only with ever growing frankness express their sympathies with the Russian Soviets, but they adopted an even more hostile attitude towards bourgeois democracy. The more they became revolutionised, the more they diverged from the doctrines of their misleaders. In Germany the democratic illusions disappeared rapidly one after another. In Italy also strike followed upon strike and one armed collision with the authorities was followed by another.
This position could not be kept up any longer by the proletarian parties which did not openly accept the platform of coalition with the bourgeoisie, while representing a mobile cadre of the working class. They could not any longer defend their negative attitude towards the Communist International. In order to retain the masses on their side they had to make concessions to their new ideology and youthful thirst for action. Already before the war there had existed a middle tendency between the radical wing of the Labour movement and its opportunist wing, which maintained the radical doctrines of Marxism while at the same time refraining from all consecutive practical inferences in regard to the same. This treble face of the Labour movement showed itself particularly clearly in Germany, which had, independently of Russia, even before the war, passed through a few preparatory skirmishes of the Communist International namely: in the struggle of Kautskyism against the Left wing radical movement and in the questions of mass strikes, as well as Imperialism. If in the other countries the division into open reformists, bona fide Marxists and pseudo radicals (Centrists) was theoretically not so clearly manifested, nevertheless there had everywhere existed elements which professed radical doctrines without putting them into practice. During the war these elements either openly passed over to the side of reformism, or limited themselves to passive protests against the social patriotic policy; they remained true to themselves in this case also. They could not become active workers in the radical Labour movement, nor could they, like the reformists, openly make a stand against it.
In their policy they had to make it their object to attract the masses by a more or less open acceptance of their new revolutionary ideology, but with a view of restraining them from all revolutionary demonstrations.
What support did these elements find and what were the bases of their policy? The reformists found their support in two social strata: the labour aristocracy of the larger centres, which did not recognise the necessity of a revolutionary, struggle, hoping to manage without revolutionary demonstrations, and the dispersed petit bourgeois worker units which could not deride as yet to raise the banner of revolt in their patriarchal provincial milieu.
The representatives of the Centre found their support in the same elements before the war. In the countries with old Socialist traditions like Germany or France, there were not a few materially well provided for workers who had nevertheless acquired Socialist trains of thought, and they experienced a need of Socialist ideology like a good Sunday cigar.
With the beginning of the war and after it, the position of the labour aristocracy became less solid and in this respect led to the revolutionising of a great part of the former labour aristocracy, bringing a new social basis to the Centre.
This very same old labour aristocracy, losing ever more its former assurance, is now craving for demonstrations, but naturally at the same time it is gazing fearfully around, paling at the very thought of the consequences of the struggle and in decisive moments striving to avoid it. Richard Müller, now a Communist, an honest minded worker with a profound class consciousness, during his gradual development towards Communism in 1919 as chairman of the Berlin Workers’ Soviet, when he had already placed himself in opposition to the German Centre and Independent Social Democrats, made a speech in which he described, more clearly than could be done in any document, the cowardly, pusillanimous attitude of the skilled workers towards revolutionary action.
At the time of his speech Richard Müller had already theoretically adopted the idea of a dictatorship of the proletariat, and nevertheless in one of the critical moments of action he had exclaimed anxiously: if matters will continue so, then Germany must expert much greater disasters, for which we shall not be responsible and which we are unable to avert! And he clutched at the idea of some positive saving clause. This instance shows up, as in a picture of an historian, the weird awe in the soul of even a bona fide proletarian fighter at the prospect of the necessity and inevitability of the struggle. At that moment he drew back before it with fear, and though, to his honour be it said, he had managed to overcome this awe and entered into the ranks of militant Communism, millions or proletarians are passing through this course of development but very slowly. This slowness is the material basis for the policy of the Centre.
One cannot in any way look upon the leaders of the middle stratum of the working class as class conscious counter-revolutionists; they either belong to the educated class, and, according to the ideas inherent in it, are unable to become penetrated with faith in the creative role of the working masses; or they are bureaucrats from the labour aristocracy who have become so impregnated with bourgeois and reformist heresy that they are unable to shake it off even when they formally acknowledge the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the revolution. Their policy consists in bringing down the idea of revolution, which they recognise theoretically on paper, to a programme phrase, which they, have recourse to in important cases and in times of parade without expecting to move a finger for the triumph of this revolution by enlarging, and deepening the class struggle, and rendering it more acute. The chief motive driving them to this policy is the everlasting reference to the international situation. They are always awaiting a revolution in some other country, where the conditions are more favourable than in their own, The partisans of such a policy may be found in all countries, The German Independent Social Democrats and the French. Longuetists are typical representatives of this policy.
It is quite superfluous to repeat here the history of the German Independent Social Democratic Party. We shall cite a few data from memory. It was formed as a result of a split in the old radical wing of the German social democracy, which divided the latter into Kautskyites and Left radicals: While it yet belonged to the German Social Democrats its chief objects were: the propagation of pacifist illusions regarding the possibility of reforming Imperialism, the rejection of propaganda and agitation in favour of a mass protest against the dangers of a war and against progressive capitalist reaction, and the support (together with Seheidemann and Ebert) of the electoral union with the Liberals in 1912. When the war broke out, the majority of the present Independent Social Democratic Party stood on the same platform as the social patriots. When later on, under the pressure of the workers, the party entered into the struggle against social patriotism and the war, it still only limited itself to simple protest. When the German revolution broke out it formed a Government together with Scheidemann and Ebert, and the first act of this Government was a proclamation of the inviolability of private property. It helped to organise the first White Guard in the Baltic provinces, and proclaimed itself to be in favour of democracy and against dictatorship. And when as a consequence of such a policy it was expelled from the Government in order that the social patriots should he able to enter into a union with the bourgeoisie; when the struggle of the workers had grown so acute that the struggling Independent workers were shot down by the White Guards of the democratic Government and began to cry out for the dictatorship of the proletariat then the leaders of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany tried to restrain the development of the party, throwing out to the masses the idea of a compromise between a bourgeois and a proletarian dictatorship—the idea of the introduction of workers Soviets into Noske’s Constitution. When the workers remained indifferent to this brilliant idea and definitely and clearly adopted the platform of the proletarian dictatorship and the system of Soviets, the Right wing leaders of the Independents also took hold of this idea only for the purpose of keeping the worker in their hands. But at the same time at the party conference in Leipzig they decisively pronounced themselves against terror; that is to say, against an unconditional defence of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The French Longuetists represented during the war a very weak copy of the German Independents. During the whole course of the war they not only voted for war credits, but they strove to represent the war as a defensive one on the part of France. They proclaimed the aim of the war to be the defence of democracy, and bowed down before the most desperate pacifism without demur. During the whole war they did not publish a single illegal leaflet, or deliver a single revolutionary speech in Parliament. Their opposition to the policy of the French bourgeoisie and the French social patriots showed itself only in their efforts at peace negotiations with Germany, and in protests against the falsification of the aims of the war as carried out by the Imperialists. When the Entente, headed by France, proceeded to a war against Soviet Russia, when the heroic struggle of Soviet Russia began to arouse ever greater sympathies in the working masses, when the working masses in France began to advocate the dictatorship of the proletariat ever more energetically—then the Longuetists could not but defend Soviet Russia. Against the attacks on Soviet Russia they had to advance the ideology of the great French Revolution. Everything that is now brought against the Russian Revolution by the counter-revolution was at the time brought against the French Revolution by the feudal counter-revolution. By this means Jean Longuet and his partisans arrived at the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. And it is quite clear, that in the country of the oldest bourgeois democracy, in the country of the most corrupt bourgeois Parliamentarism, in the country where the working class, struggling against bourgeois democracy and Parliamentarism, constructed a Syndicalist theory recognising in the trade unions a source of strength and the of the social revolution—in such country the proletariat passed by bourgeois Parliamentarism most, easily. But when the Lenguetists agreed with the dictatorship and the Soviet system as an acceptable prospect, they naturally did not propose in any way to make the idea of dictatorship and Soviets the axis of their agitation and propaganda, and still less did they think of using all the levers of the mass movement in order to realise it or to concur in its realisation. Their Press and their Parliamentary activity did not at all serve to arouse the revolutionary energy of the masses. In the best of cases they served as a weak defence for the growing bourgeois reaction. And as Longuet and his friends looked upon the revolution as a subject for conversation and in the best of cases for sentimental dreams, they could not see any reason for breaking with the social patriots and open reformists. In the same way as during the discord between Marxism and reformism in the French Labour movement, Longuet had swung like a pendulum between one and the other, now he is preaching the unity of the party and endeavouring to prove to the working masses that the innocent lambs of reformism—Renaudel and Thomas—cannot sully the water for any one. They are ready to conform to discipline just as he is conforming to it in respect to them. It is obvious that this position of the Longuetists could not please the radical wing of the Labour movement, which was growing ever more Communist.
The British Independent Labour Party formed a third in the union of the European Centre. It arose as an opportunist reaction against the dry-as-dust radicalism of Hyndman, who never could connect the idea of a social revolution with a practical struggle of the proletariat. Against the bookworm Marxism of Hyndman it advanced the dull-headed Anglo Saxon empiricism and soft religiously tinted effort towards reforms. The latter circumstance grouped around it a nucleus of unenlightened but living proletarians thirsting for action. The pacifism of the Independent Labour Party formed a bridge between it and the idea of “Little England” of the Liberal commercial bourgeoisie, which hoped to keep its profits safer in peace than in war. When the great world war broke out, the majority of the English Liberals did not know what decision to take; in favour of, or against participation in the war. This wing represented in the Government by Simon, Trevelyan and John Burns, was headed by the leader of the Independent Labour Party, MacDonald, and as, in addressing the workers, he was compelled naturally to speak in a much stronger and more radical spirit, he had no possibility of changing his policy after the beginning of the war. The party took up the position of a struggle against the war, and in practice this position was reinforced by two elements: the revolutionary honest minded proletarian elements, which were against the war because it was a capitalist one, and the Quaker elements, which were opposed to the war because, according to their convictions, it was sin against God and mankind. United, these elements brought the party during the course of the war even to a refutation, in principle, of the defence of the capitalist, fatherland, an idea which Macdonald and Snowden repudiated with all their might. The partisans of the ILP not only took part in the mass demonstrations in England during the war, but they drew the greatest persecutions upon themselves for following the dictates of their conscience and not taking part in the war. When after the war, at the December elections in 1918, the Liberal Conservative Coalition obtained a decisive victory and mass demonstrations again took place, the Left wing of the ILP, under the leadership of Clifford Allen and Newbold, gradually developed towards Communism, whereas the Right wing, with MacDonald and Snowden at its head, speculated on the forthcoming victory of the Labour Party and its coalition with the Left wing Liberals of the Asquith type. Between them, stands the Centre of the party under the leadership of Wallhead, an agitator and organiser of no particular tendency. Under the pressure of the Left wing he had to recognise officially the idea of the revolution, but as he does not wish to break with the eminent old leaders of the party, he cannot forsake his dual policy. Meanwhile, Macdonald and Snowden are preparing to play the role of saviours of democratic England from the proletarian revolution. They are using the ILP only as a springboard, in order to share future power with the Liberal or semi-Liberal leaders of the Labour bureaucracy, Henderson and Thomas.
Around these three principal parties of the Centre are grouped similar elements of other countries. Thus, the leaders of the majority of the Swiss social democracy, like energetic Robert Grimm, are feeling intuitively that it is necessary to repeat what radical masses of the capitals are saying, but at the same time they are loathe to break with the old leaders, who in the name of the Swiss proletariat are furnishing police and financial directors to the Swiss bourgeoisie. The leaders of the Austrian social democracy, who, like Friedrich Adler and Otto Bauer, had recently participated in the Government together with Renner and Seitz and the Christian Socialists, who saw in the idea of a coalition the anchor of safety for the proletariat, who with the help of coalitions tried to obtain help from the Entente, who betrayed the Hungarian revolution for the sake of coalition, are now, when the coalition has broken down, when the poverty of the proletariat has grown immeasurably, throwing radical slogans to the proletariat. This is in complete correspondence with their past. Before the war they had also intermingled the Marxist theory with the thoroughly opportunist policy of the Austrian social democracy. During the war Friedrich Adler had ventured to carry on the struggle against the shameless treachery of the Imperial royal social democracy only in closed party meetings. His Hamletism went even so far that out of pure political cowardice he had become a personal hero by his murder of Stürgk, only because he did not dare to stand up against his party. From the very moment of the Austrian revolution both he and Otto Bauer played a pitiable dual game. While Friedrich Adler, as chairman of the German Austrian Workers’ Soviet, played the role of a future Marat of the approaching Austrian proletarian revolution, and thus prevented the working class from actively showing its discontent, Otto Bauer played that of Talleyrand in the Social-Democratic-Christian-Socialist Government, and in anonymous pamphlets consoled the hungry Austrian workers with the approaching world revolution in the victorious countries. At present, when social democracy has disappeared from the Government they are both playing the role of international revolutionists with a parachute. Otto Bauer, who in his pamphlet, “Bolshevism or Social Democracy,” gives the theory of an international of the Centre, and Friedrich Adler, who but six months ago had been doing his best to prove that it will be possible to think of the formation of an international only when all the inconsistencies which are now dividing the working class are removed—both are now standing at the head of the efforts tending towards all international unification of the Centre.
And as if on purpose to show what this International is going to be, the Russian Mensheviki have joined the number of its promoters. During the war, before the moment of the Russian Revolution, they had split into a Minority group of internationalists headed by Martov and enjoying no influence at all, which took part in the Zimmerwald movement; a Majority group which had taken part in the committees of war industries; and finally a Parliament faction playing the part of intermediary between the other two. When the revolution broke out the majority of the Mensheviki accepted the platform of the defence of bourgeois democracy. It took part in the bourgeois Government, and helped it to hamper the struggle of the proletariat for power. The minority was indignant with the treacherous policy of its party comrades, but it did not venture to withdraw from the party. When the Russian proletariat swept away the Government of Kerensky, the minority in the Menshevist Party united with the majority against the workers’ Government. This struggle was carried on by some of them, as for instance by Martov, only in principle; many others fought with arms in their hands on the side of the counter-revolution. The Mensheviki, with Martov at their head, called the proletarian Soviet Russia a new Czarism. But at the moment when the danger of the victory of the counter-revolution arose, then they called the masses to the defence of the Soviet Government and the achievements of the revolution. When the Russian proletariat fought against the bourgeois Government, the Mensheviki looked upon the desire to realise Socialism in Russia as romanticism. In the first months of the proletarian dictatorship their Press demanded the return to capitalism. At present they are demanding a “moderate Socialism” without explaining what they mean by this. The party of the Mensheviki, whose history we have given here, is the favourite child of the international Centre. The latter is demonstrating in the fate of the Mensheviki in Soviet Russia, the malignancy of Communism which is crushing and persecuting even a Socialist party. The fate of this party is undoubtedly most significant for the whole Centre. Having enjoyed mercy and support under the power of the bourgeoisie and taken part in this power, they had to submit to persecution on the part of the proletarian Government, as they had either openly struggled against it, or sown confusion among the workers. They explained their participation in the bourgeois government by their mistrust in the proletarian world revolution, and now they are appearing as promoter of a new international, which also aspires to become the international of the world revolution.
In the beginning the Centrists of all countries looked down upon the Communist International, not considering it as a force to be reckoned with. Called to life during the period of the greatest difficulties of Soviet Russia, it seemed to them to be fated to a certain death just like the first country of proletarian dictatorship. Already in September, 1919, the leader of the German Independents, Rudolf Hillerding declared at the September party congress that the Third International is Soviet Russia, and that it would be well to wait and see what its fate would be; one should not book a passage on a sinking ship. This outspoken and shameless representative of the Centre only expressed with great frankness what all the Centrist Pappenheimers were thinking. At the same time they were convinced that the loss of the chastity of the Second International in the war was a matter that could be remedied; it was not in vain that they had taken part in the conferences of Berne and Lucerne, these distractions of the world bourgeoisie. However, when before their very eyes the workers, who had not broken with them and whom they still hoped to retain, began to raise their voices ever more decisively in favour of the Third International, the leaders of the Centre adopted the decision to join it if only they could manage to extract its poisonous fangs. The most dangerous point of the Communist International for these experienced politicians was certainly not the doctrine of Communism. The theory of modern Communism is the theory of Marx on social development and the social struggle. During long years they have been distorting Marx and passing resolutions on principles, but without in the least modifying their opportunist tactics. The dictatorship of the proletariat, even terror, might have been accepted with reservations in the form of a couple of buts and ifs, because they did not lose the hope that the restoration of capitalism would protect them from the necessity of having recourse to such horrors. But what they could in no wise agree to was the liability to undertake any concrete steps which might have served as a preparation to a revolutionary struggle, or to join any one of the organisations of the Third International, after which the way would have been cut off for retreat from the fundamental regulations of the Communist International. Recurring to the old method of the opportunists of all countries, they declared their conformity in principle with the Communist International. They would only like to discuss, together with it, the question of the methods for the fusion of all the social revolutionist parties. The meaning of this declaration was that the international Centre as a whole was proposing to the Communist international to discuss, together with it, on what basis it might be possible to create an organisation of compromise for the purpose of achieving a fusion between Communist principles and the tactics of the Centre. This manoeuvre did not meet with success. The party of the Centre did not succeed in obtaining a joint meeting with the representatives of the Communist International. In consequence of the circumstances, the pressure of the working masses in the separate parties of the Centre was not equally strong; first the representatives of the French Centre had to open relations with Soviet Russia, and afterwards the English and German Independents. After these conferences the French Centrists became divided into two camps the majority, headed by Cachin and Frossard, decisively took the course proposed by the Communist International. The traditions of Headism and the ferocity of the French reaction played a decisive role in this case. There was no need for the representatives of the English Centre, under the leadership of Wallhead, to pass a resolution immediately. After the English Labour movement had developed to the threat of a general strike in the event of England declaring war against Russia, it again fell after the failures of the Red Army in Poland. Mr. Wallhead and his partisans carried away with them to England an open letter of the Executive Committee revealing to the English workers the game which was intended to mask their affected underlining of the extreme peculiarity of the English conditions. They did not trouble further. Thus the international delivered a decisive blow to the most important mass party of the Centre—the Independents.
The Dittmans and Crispiens who had from time to time been making “critical” declarations in their country in regard to the Marxist defects observed by them in the programme of the Communist International, kept silence in Moscow, or asserted confusedly that in general they could find no objection to the fundamental lines “as far as the latter were clear to them.” The central point of the struggle was the question of the expulsion of the reformists from the German Independent Party.
Although fully acknowledging that in the given case the question does not lie in Kautsky and Hilferding alone but in hundreds and hundreds of minor bureaucrats from among the trade unions and the reformist party, and in a certain part of the Parliamentary faction, who are not capable in general of carrying out the conditions of the Communist International, they tried by all means in their power to save Hilferding and Kautsky—the former by denying his opportunism, the latter by representing him as a very old man who had lost all influence and whom it is necessary, out of respect, to allow to end his days peacefully in voluntary exile in Vienna. But a still greater danger threatened their policy in that the Communist International was to be, not a loose federation of different parties, but a single centralised international militant party.
This nature of the construction of the International deprived them once for all of every possibility of sabotaging the resolutions of the congress and the Executive Committee of the Communist International. In this way their plan broke down. At the congress in Halle they passed over to furious unprincipled attacks against the Communist International, which they endeavoured to represent as a mixture of romantic publications and the most unprincipled opportunism, as a party created for the purpose of serving as an instrument for the external policy of Soviet Russia. They permitted the nucleus of revolutionary workers to break away from the party, rather than to compromise by a union with the labour bureaucracy. They chose as their banner the Amsterdam Yellow International, forming out of the union of the Legiens with the Hendersons a palladium of international proletarian struggle.
After the intention of the international clique of the Centre to sabotage the Communist International from within had failed, it only remained to them either to decide to join the Second International or to replace it by another one. This led to the formation of the Second and a Half International to which they have now passed over.
(a) Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the International Centre.
The Berne manifesto of December 10th, 1920, by which the fathers of the Second and a Half International appeal to the Socialist parties of all countries, is remarkable not only for what it says but for what it keeps silence upon. If under the present conditions of the world situation a proletarian party is being formed, not to speak of the formation of an international union, then the first question which demands a clear and, definite answer is the question of the world situation, Naturally the matter does not lie in general meanderings on the baseness of Imperialism or of one of the Imperialist groups; the question to be solved definitely is: are we in a period of the development of the world revolution or not? One may blame Imperialism in all severity, one may agree completely with the Communist International regarding views in principle on the Imperialist policy, but nevertheless it will be necessary to follow a totally different policy in regard to Imperialism, if one deviates from the position of the Communist international in discussing the question: are we in the midst of a process of world revolution, or in that of the chances of success by consolidating a new system of Imperialist States? In the first case the policy of the proletarian parties will be directed towards the overthrow of the capitalist State by means of mass action, and all the historically prescribed political and organisational means must serve for the preparation of such action; in the second case it will be necessary to avoid consciously all collisions with the capitalist State power, making it one’s immediate aim to organise the proletariat for the improvement of its position within the limits of capitalism, while the maintenance of the final Socialist aim must serve only for lighting up the way for the proletariat and for keeping it from entering the path of reformism.
The manifesto of the Second and a Half International is trying to pass this decisive question over in silence. Not a word does it let fall regarding the world revolution. It talks of the revolution in Russia and Central Europe, of the world reaction threatening this revolution, it speaks of facts regarding which no capitalist politician would dare to be silent, only because they are facts whose existence can be denied only by the veriest blockhead. But in the same way as Lloyd George talks quite openly of the German and Russian revolution, taking care, however, not to touch upon the developing proletarian revolution of the whole world (on the one hand, by reason of the petit bourgeois cowardice preventing a man from looking facts boldly in the face; on the other, from the fear that a clear definition of the situation might elucidate to the struggling classes their political point of view), the parties of the Second and a Half International are also afraid to express their views on the world situation. They are afraid, to say openly, although many of them think that for a time, to which a limit may be set, capitalist society is saved, therefore forget all revolutionary illusions. They do not venture to say so because they are afraid of driving the revolutionary proletariat away from them. They do not dare to say: the world revolution is developing, in spite of its defeats, although not so rapidly as many wish it to do, and the guarantee of its final victory lies in the increasing disorganisation of capitalist economic management. Because, should they say so, then they would be compelled in all countries, not withstanding the difference in the degree of capitalist disorganisation in each separate country, at least to concentrate agitation and propaganda on the work of proving to the proletariat the necessity and inevitability of the revolutionary struggle. In view of this they are trying to evade the necessity of having to explain clearly their true point of view, and they have recourse to the following phrase: “The capitalist system is growing ever more inconsistent with the economic and social requirements of the proletarian masses even in the victorious countries.” This slogan, as flexible as rubber, says nothing at all, because Imperialism has never been consistent with the vital requirements of the proletariat, and it is quite clear that the longer it exists the more inconsistent it becomes.
The leading theses, elaborated on February 22nd at Innsbruck by the preparatory Commission to the Congress of the Second and a Half International (Adler, Ledebour, Wallhead), leave the question: a world revolution or the preservation of the capitalist system—no nearer solution than before. In reply to our statement of this fact, the spiritual leaders of the Second and a Half International, the Hilferdings, Bauers, Martovs, will say: only Communist blindness will deny that in the conditions of the world situation the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces become intersected, that side by side with the tendencies leading to the disorganisation of the capitalist regime, there are also forces working for the restoration of capitalist power. In virtue of considerations of historical foresight one must be very cautions in predicting which of these two tendencies may acquire the upper hand. Should the above mentioned learned men have recourse to such arguments—and no other issue is left them—we would have to reply: the matter does not lie in the denying of historical possibilities; the Communist International is not blind and understands perfectly well that should no important revolutionary movement take place in countries where capitalism is still but slightly shattered, or should these revolutionary movements suffer a defeat, then the possibility of a capitalist restoration is in no wise excluded. In the opening speech to the Congress of the Communist International it was no one but Lenin himself who said: “There is a way out of every difficulty; should the international proletariat not find in itself sufficient forces to overthrow the bourgeoisie, then the latter will find the means somehow to restore the capitalist social order at the cost of the enslavement of millions of proletarian masses.” The difference between the Marxist revolutionist Lenin and opportunists like Hilferding and Bauer does not lie in that the latter are considering possibilities, while the former is following the policy of an ostrich, but the difference lies in the conclusions arrived at. Revolutionist Lenin says to the proletariat: “The world revolution is undoubtedly developing; it is being fed by the ever increasing revolutionary streams springing up and flowing out of the very depths of society; but simultaneously the forces of inertia and counter-revolution are also at work. If you will not find in yourselves sufficient force and resolution for the struggle and victory, then suffer a defeat. Therefore you must with all your energy collect and utilise all the forces of the revolution in order to enable it to gain the victory.” Lenin makes the prospect of the developing world revolution the starting point of his tactics and shows how to act concretely for the realisation of the world revolution. Meanwhile, the opportunist, playing with the dream of a world revolution, but fearing it in his heart of hearts, leaves the future unsolved so as to avoid a clear definition of his immediate actions, and thus be able to wait and see what history will say. In the depth of his soul he cries with a groan: “O Lord, let this cup pass by me!” But pressed on by his own partisans, he dares not speak out frankly and clearly in favour of the restoration of capitalism, as do the reformists, who openly start from the prospects of a counter-revolution.
History’s amiability does not extend so far as to give to the political workers prospects of unfailing precision. Facts alone are indubitable. Consequently, after estimating all the active forces of a given epoch, the politician must endeavour to establish their general tendency, to determine which of the struggling forces will be able to win the victory and to decide in what direction the forces of the class which he represents should be led. Every prospect has a corresponding definite policy. The revolutionary prospect of the Communist International has a corresponding definite revolutionary policy. The definite counter-revolutionary prospect of the reformists, who honestly declare that a revolution does not enter into their considerations, has a corresponding counter-revolutionary policy. As the Second and a Half International does not dare to advocate either one of the two prospects, its indefinite prospect must result in an indefinite policy. We know this both from the practice of all two and a half parties, and by the confirmation of this point of view by the Berne manifesto in respect to the question of dictatorship and the Soviet system.
(b) Dictatorship of the Proletariat, its Forms, and the Second and a Half International.
A struggle has been raging for three years in the working class concerning the question of the course which it must follow. The minds of the international proletariat are struggling with two questions. The first is: Is it possible to attain the defeat of capitalism on the basis of a bourgeois democracy and by its means, or will it be necessary to have recourse to a revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship? The second is: What forms should the proletarian dictatorship adopt? Let us see what answer is given by the leaders of the Second and a Half International, not only after an international three year old discussion of the question, but, what is of much greater importance, after a three year old experience acquired by the European proletariat in the Russian, Finnish, Hungarian, German, and Austrian revolutions and counter-revolutions, and in the “peaceful” development of the countries which constitute the Entente. The leaders of the Second and a Half International give not one but two answers to the above two questions. One of them is published in the manifesto of December 7th, and the other in the leading theses of January 10th.
“As soon as the proletariat seizes political power—wherever the bourgeoisie sabotages the proletarian State power, or shows resistance to it the proletariat will apply measures of dictatorship”—thus runs the manifesto. But may one ask where will one find a country or a place where the bourgeoisie would not sabotage the proletarian State power? Is it possible that it should not offer resistance? Let us ask briefly and clearly: do the theorists of the Second and a Half International really consider the hope of a voluntary abdication of the bourgeoisie, which is the fundamental point of view of the reformists, as actually realisable? If so, then they are reformists, what we have always asserted, whereas they have always denied it with indignation. If they are not reformist illusionists, if this is only a tactical trick, then these “two and a halfists” are sowing dangerous illusions in the minds of the proletarians for which the latter will have to pay by defeat. The greatest obstacle to the development of the revolution is that a great majority of the world proletariat, has not lost the hope of a peaceful escape from want and penury. Only because the proletariat still believes that it will be able to avoid the burdens and horrors of a civil war does it allow the bourgeoisie and its reformist agents to deceive it. The task of every revolutionary Labour party consists in repeating day by day and instilling into the minds of the proletariat that there is no third way out, that it is bound to choose between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and its own dictatorship, i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat. Only when the proletariat becomes penetrated with this conviction will it find in itself the force for a decisive struggle. The Second and a Half International is arousing a hope in the proletariat as to the possibility of a solution of the problems with which it is confronted, other than that of a proletariat dictatorship, thus diverting its mind from the revolutionary struggle and acting like an international of confusion and entanglement.
With equal success does the Second and a Half International decide in regard to the question of the form of dictatorship.
“The application of one or other form of dictatorship depends on the economic, social, and political conditions of the separate countries. Should the proletariat succeed in acquiring power by means of democracy, then in the event of resistance on the part of the bourgeoisie even the democratic State power would be compelled to establish its dictatorship. If, however, during the period of the decisive struggle for power, the democracy should prove to be defeated, or be overcome by the growing acuteness of class inconsistencies, the dictatorship would inevitably have to assume the form of a dictatorship of the organisations of the proletarian class struggle. Depending on the conditions of each separate country, the organs of dictatorship may be: Soviets of workers, soldiers, peasants, local organisations of self-government (communities) or any other class organisations, inherent in the given country.”
What does the Second and a Half International say? Firstly, that the rule of the working class may be realised also by means of the democratic institutions, as for instance, through the Parliaments. Secondly, that the rule of the proletariat must be realised by means of its class organisations only in the event of the resistance of the bourgeoisie. The manifesto does not know what these class organisations will be: they may be Soviets, they may be communities—the manifesto does not demand the exclusion of the bourgeoisie from the make-up of the local organisations of self-government—finally, they may be any other, not precisely specified, labour organisations. The manifesto is also silent on the point of how the central revolutionary power should be organised in the latter cases. What does such a position signify? It means a complete zero, advanced by the Second and a Half International as a war slogan.
In what lay the meaning of the slogan of the Soviet system? First of all this slogan showed the proletariat that it had to create its own class organisations, its own ruling apparatus. Secondly, it said to the proletariat that the former class organisations which united the proletariat in accordance with its political convictions or its trades were unable to serve for this purpose. For this purpose it would be necessary that the organisations should unite the proletariat as a class, according to the branches of production, to the enterprises, independently of the different trades and independently of political convictions. During the formation of workers’ Soviets in the Russian Revolution it was not known whether they would become also a form of proletarian dictatorship in the world revolution. The Finnish, Austrian, and German revolutions have proved that wherever the proletariat is struggling for the power, it elects—in its search for a most suitable organisational form—that of workers’ Soviets, as one already predestined by history. And everywhere, in Italy and in England, wherever the proletariat is just beginning its revolutionary movement, its tendency towards the formation of workers’ Soviets is manifesting itself. The Second and a Half International does not recognise the slogan of “workers’ Soviets” as the bearer of the world revolution; the counter-revolutionary nature of this refusal proves first of all that the rejection of this slogan is equal to a rejection of the slogan which serves for the uniting and organisation of the workers in the struggle for power.
Wherever the revolution is entering upon its acute period, the slogan of “workers’ Soviets” points out to the workers the basis on which, they may assemble their forces as a class in order to set them against the bourgeoisie. Hence, the question of the ultimate form of organisation of the dictatorship—the question of the workers’ Soviets—is transformed into a political question as a struggle for the dictatorship.
It is possible that with the further development of the world revolution there may be different forms of organisation of the dictatorship as, for instance, the Russian Revolution has shown. It is possible that at certain stages of special acuteness of civil war it will be found necessary to defend the power of the proletariat, although only temporarily, by means of a still severer selection of proletarian forces; a still more energetic carrying on of the struggle than this may be demanded from the workers’ Soviets, which by their nature are rather cumbrous organisations. However, one thing is clear, during the period of the struggle “the workers’ Soviets”, are a central politically organising slogan. Renunciation of it, the endowing it with all kinds of fanciful political possibilities—is equivalent to renunciation of the revolutionary organising role of the International.
The Hilferdings, Bauers, and Martovs are trying to clothe their rejection of it in a historical form and to give it a historical basis. With an air of deep learning, they explain: “in the same way as the bourgeois revolution in the different countries had assumed different forms, so the proletarian revolution in the different countries will also acquire different forms, especially as the degree of capitalist development in the separate countries is not alike.” The historical information of the theorists of the Second and a Half International is on a par with their revolutionary will. The bourgeois revolutions have everywhere assumed the form of a revolutionary struggle for a Parliament. The history of the bourgeois revolutions teaches us that notwithstanding the degree of development in different countries the historically leading class of a given epoch struggled everywhere for the same aim with the same means. The proletarian revolution of separate countries will present some great differences. But as it will be always carried out by the same class for the same aim, it will in its fundamental forms present the same process. By not recognising these facts the theorists of the Second and a Half International are proving only that theoretically they do not see the wood for the trees, so as to avoid the duty of creating a bona fide International.
A month after the drawing up of their manifesto the sages of the Second and a Half International try to rectify their statements. Laying aside their wise sentences on the different forms of dictatorship in separate countries, they pronounce themselves in their leading theses on the methods and organisation of the class struggle, suddenly, unconditionally, and, for the first time, in favour of the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as this dictatorship—by whatever means the proletariat shall have attained the power—will be necessary for the maintenance of this power. Even more than that; in their Berne manifesto, as we have seen, they declared: “depending on the conditions prevailing in the different countries, the organs of the dictatorship may be Soviets of workers, soldiers, peasants, local organisations of self-government (communities), or any other class organisations inherent in the given country.” Now they are writing: it is necessary to realise the dictatorship of the proletariat on the basis of workers’, soldiers’ and peasants’ Soviets, trade unions and other similar proletarian class organisations. As you see, during the interval of time from December 7th to January 10th, “the democratic organs of self-government”—in the character of organs of dictatorship—have had time to disappear. And as all “other proletarian class organisations,” besides workers’ Soviets’ and trade unions are simply the pseudonyms of zero, it follows that the wiseacres of the Second and a Half International have in the end discovered that a proletarian dictatorship can only be based on workers’ Soviets and trade unions, and we heartily wish them joy of their discovery. Because, if the trade unions, which have been grouped according to the trades, are regrouped according to the enterprises, which is demanded by the spirit of the times, and demanded not only by the Communists but by all the advanced trade unionists as well, then the difference between the workers’ Soviets and the factory committees—the lowest organs of the trade unions will disappear almost completely. The resolution contains also further improvements. It says that in the open struggle for the acquisition and sustaining of the proletarian dictatorship “in future it will not be the election bulletins which will decide but the economic and military forces of the struggling class. The working class will win the power only by means of mass action, mass strikes, and armed uprisings.” The Independent German social democracy is preparing for an armed uprising! Rudolf Hilferding and Arthur Crispien behind a machine-gun! What progress! What progress!
In what does the Second and a Half International differ from the Third? It has pronounced itself against a blind copying of the methods of the Russian workers’ peasant revolution. But should those who have signed the resolution (Adler, Ledebour, Grimm and Wallhead) be placed before the mouth of a machine gun, they even then would not be able to say, what other methods differing from those mentioned in their own resolution, does the Communist International propose. The second difference on which they wish to base the existence of the Second and a Half International is the alleged incorrect estimation by the Communist International of the great variety in the structure of the different countries and the tactics which must be applied to them. But should they be pressed for an explanation they would again not be able to say what other tactics except those already recommended they consider admissible. Maybe this should be understood thus: as general tactics we recommend a revolutionary demonstration even up to a mass strike and armed uprising, but as special tactics we admit a coalition with the Christian Socialists, together with whom Friedrich Adler’s party participated in the same government? We think that the question has exactly this and no other meaning, otherwise these gentlemen would not be so anxious for the separate parties to retain their independence which Moscow is supposed to be threatening, because if autonomy serves only for the application of general revolutionary principles to the separate countries, then it is in no wise inconsistent with a close international centralisation, but it is even a weapon of the latter. The attitude of the above four prophets towards the question of their separation from the reformists proves that for them the matter lies in carrying out in practice a reformist policy while jotting down revolutionary slogans on paper. With the mien of respectable people they assert that the nature of parties changes; the nature of men also undergoes changes. Under the influence of mistakes committed they grow wiser. One cannot exclude any one from the International on the ground that such a person had formerly been social patriot. One should not humiliate him for this either. One should not demand from him that he should make a pilgrimage to Canossa, barefoot, in the garb of a repentant sinner with ashes on his bald head, All this is very touching and humane, but the Communist International has hitherto never demanded from any one of the affiliated parties that it should in honour of Lenin make a sacrifice at the altar in the Kremlin of the reformists who have repudiated reformism. The Communist International is only demanding the exclusion of the reformists and social patriots who are remaining such. The Ledebours, Grimms, Adlers and Wallheads object to this—why, should such a poor human being, called reformist, remaining in the party, quietly, with observance of all the rules of etiquette and submitting to the party discipline be expelled, like a rabid dog, from the party circle? He may die of grief. What rogues are those who wrote these words! Robert Grimm knows perfectly well that in the pigsty which bears the name of the Swiss Social Democratic Party, the conductor’s staff is not in his (Grimm’s) hand, but in that of the reformist minority. The Gustav Müllers, Greilichs, Jean Siegs and the swarm of police and finance authorities buzzing around them are occupying all the seats in the Parliamentary and communal factions; the party apparatus of power is in their hands. At the party conference they submit to the party discipline, and at the same time every day they snap their fingers at the party’s resolutions. And what is the situation in the Social Democratic Party of German Austria? Maybe Messrs. Seitz, Ellenbogen, Leutner and Renner will trouble themselves about the revolutionary principles which Friedrich Adler in Innsbruck dug out from the depths of his heart? They will send them to the deuce, because the fact that they are allowed to remain in the party proves that, in order to preserve party unity, a split is being avoided. Jean Longuet has united now with the old flunkeys of the French bourgeoisie, with Renaudel and his clique in a party which will belong to the Second and a Half International. Is there any one who could for a moment believe that out of considerations of party discipline Renaudel would renounce in practice when circumstances demanded this, national defence, on which the Innsbruck theses insist? The reservation in regard to the tolerant tactics of the Second and a Half International transforms it from a militant collaboration for a struggle against capitalism into a boarding-house where any one may be put up; some for modest sleep, some for immodest “vigils.”
The attitude towards the reformists—therein lies the central point of the whole question of the constitution of the International. Whoever does not wish to separate from the reformists who are voicing bourgeois tactics in the Labour movement, will never carry out proletarian theses in practice, however revolutionary they may sound. The latter will serve only for lulling the revolutionary mass, and the reformists—for establishing a contact with the bourgeoisie. Camille Huysmanns, a clever cynic, was perfectly right when he said of the representatives of the Second and a Half International: “They think as we do, but they talk like the Moscovites.” We can only add: “They do not only think like social patriots, but they act like social patriots.” There is nothing that so clearly shows up the substance of the Second and a Half International as the fact that its chief promoters are the very same Crispiens and Hilferdings who at the moment when they are creating a so-called revolutionary international, that is to say, when they wish to lead the proletariat to a general active demonstration against capitalism are simultaneously against uniting with the communists for joint action, thus binding themselves with the Social Democrats by their joint tactics of inaction. It is by these acts that the Second and a Half International must be judged, but in no wise by its words or proclaimed principles. The opportunists estimate principles as cheap as common chaff, and recur to them only in so far as they can be useful in restraining the proletariat from revolutionary demonstrations.
The Second and a Half International is an organisation which lacks an independent complex of political ideas. It is an organisation which is very far from carrying out the ideas borrowed by it from the Communist International and which it has made commonplace. It is in general not an international organisation of the proletariat, but it is consciously striving to be an international weakly welded federation of national Centrist Socialist parties. How very small is its confidence in its own vitality and fighting capacity is proved by its convulsive holding on the Yellow Amsterdam International of Trade Unions. Nevertheless it would be a mistake to presume that the Second and a Half International is not capable of life. In case the revolutionary movement in the West European countries does not acquire a mere rapid development in the immediate future, if the process of revolutionising the working masses proceeds slowly, then the Second and a Half International will know how to keep the revolutionary masses which are standing at the cross roads from joining the Third International. The Second and a Half International will become the refuge for such homeless souls as cannot as yet decide which way to turn. Its existence will naturally be that of a phantom. Incapable of action, incapable of embodying the living spirit of the revolutionary vanguard of the world proletariat, it will be only an illusion of the rearguard of the proletariat until such time as such a rearguard is moved forward by the course of events towards the front of the world revolution.
How great are these masses of still undecided people has been shown by the latter day events in the Italian Socialist Party. The latter was considered to be one of the most considerable parties of the Communist International. The tens of thousands (and more) of workers forming it have proved their bravery in the vanguard fights of the Italian revolution. They had in practice shown their sympathies with Soviet Russia when the latter was threatened by the greatest danger. They have pronounced themselves in favour of the dictatorship of the proletariat. They had the idea of workers’ Soviets, and had even attempted by revolutionary means to realise a control over production through industrial Soviets. But in spite of all this, close ties are still continuing to bind them to their reformist past—ties whose meaning is not quite clear to them, although they threaten to stifle the Italian revolution. Owing to the split among the reformists before the war and to the fact that part of them openly professing Imperialism had withdrawn from the party, the majority of the Italian proletariat does not perceive the danger of obstructing the party leadership with democratic pacifist elements, hostile to the social revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. And this proletarian mass which has considered itself as the vanguard of the Communist International, pronounced itself in favour of the reformist leaders, when it found itself compelled to choose between them and the Communist International. The fact that the workers who are following Serrati are deeply convinced that they have nevertheless remained faithful to the Third International serves as a proof not against but in favour of the existence of a great danger for the Labour movement on the part of the Centrists.
The venom of the Centrist course of thought has deeply penetrated the psychology of the working class. Only a continuing development of the world revolution is capable of bringing it out. Neither the course of theoretical investigations nor that of propaganda will lead to a victory over it. It is only possible to master this venom by means of a struggle which will instil into the masses a spirit of firmness and the conviction that the least hesitation at the decisive moment is equal to death.
The consideration that the Centrist spirit must be vanquished under the conditions of the world revolution, and by means of it, does not mean at all that the Communist International must offer peace to this spirit in its midst, in order that in may be ultimately overmastered by the revolution. Naturally, the infected organs into which the Centrist venom has had time to penetrate unnoticed must be removed, so that they shall not infect the whole body.
Let the Hilferdings laugh at their ease, calling us sectarians, who turn away from the masses, as soon as the latter do not express their readiness to adopt without discussion all our instructions. The Communist International is the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat. And the more it recognises the necessity of keeping in touch, or of a permanent contact, with the slowly developing working masses, the more must it be careful that in its own ranks, in the ranks of the vanguard of the revolution, a sound and clearly defined conception of the forthcoming tasks and ways should reign. Whoever wishes to lead the masses to the revolutionary war must, naturally, be in the closest contact with them. He must not strive to determine according to his own judgment the way for their arbitrary movement. The Communist International has never done this. The aims it sets itself are based on the understanding of the tendencies of the development of the world revolution. To follow the aims of the Communist International in no wise means to set one’s own wishes against the working masses. It means, on the basis of the present to think of the future of the working class, not to lose sight of the aim which is glimmering among the sinuosities of the road; it means, during the process of the movement of the masses, which are vacillating, often drawing back before the consequences of the struggle and only developing as yet—to form a closely welded vanguard, and by its help to carry the masses ever forward, leading them to victory.
From the above ensues not only the necessity of a contact with the still vacillating working masses, but also the duty of carrying on a most relentless struggle against all their illusions, their irresolution and first of all against the ideology of the Centre with its leaders and organisations. The relations between the Communist International and the Second and a Half International must therefore be a state of war.
The more relentless, the more systematic our struggle against lies and deceit, the closer shall we weld our ranks and the stronger will our influence be on the masses standing behind the Second and a Half International. With them we wish to act as one, wherever and whenever they may enter the fight. Against their leaders we shall fight mercilessly everywhere and always, wherever and whenever they may mislead the working masses, or whenever and wherever they may betray their cause.
The history of the Right wing German Independents shows that after the split in Halle, when they lost the cargo which was composed of the revolutionary Labour elements, they have rapidly deviated to the Right. By taking off their masks they will accelerate the victory of the Communist International, The Second and a Half International is the product of the revolutionary process through which the whole world is passing, but this is not a product showing the creative spirit of the world revolution; it is the scum of history, a product which becomes separated during the boiling of the world revolution. Therefore the Second and a Half International will be washed away by the stream in the world revolution as soon as its movement grows more rapid. Until then we shall fight with it, as with a narrow minded tradition which is delaying the moment when the proletariat will awaken from its sleep and rush to the revolutionary battle.
Last updated on 18.10.2011