Duncan Hallas

The Comintern

2. The Mass Parties

‘Parties and groups only recently affiliated to the Second International are more and more frequently applying for membership in the Third International, though they have not become really communist ... The Communist International is, to a certain extent, becoming fashionable ... In certain circumstances, the Communist International may be faced with the danger of dilution by the influx of wavering and irresolute groups that have not yet broken with their Second International ideology.’
Lenin, The Terms of Admission into the Communist International, 1920.

IN MARCH 1919 the executive of the Italian Socialist Party voted to recommend that the party affiliate to the Third International. In September the Bologna congress of the party voted to affiliate by a large majority. The PSI was a big and growing organisation. In the elections of November 1919 it got one third of the total vote and returned 156 deputies. The Norwegian party, the DNA, confirmed its affiliation and the Bulgarian, Yugoslav (formerly Serbian) and Romanian parties joined as well.

The first three of these were important organisations. The DNA, which was based on trade union affiliation like its British counterpart, completely dominated the Norwegian left. The Bulgarian Communist Party had the support, from the beginning, of virtually the whole Bulgarian working class. The Yugoslavian Communist Party returned 54 deputies in the first (and only) free elections held in the new state.

In France the SFIO, which had more than doubled its membership from 90,000 in 1914 to 200,000 in 1919, had swung far to the left, and was flirting with Moscow. Its leadership really wanted to reconstruct the international movement on a ‘Zimmerwald majority’ basis, excluding out-and-out social patriots such as the leaders of the British Labour Party and the German SPD, but including all those who, like themselves, had moved verbally sharply leftward in response to mass discontent.

In short, they wanted a centrist international. So did the leaders of the German USPD, which was rapidly gaining ground at the expense of the SPD. The Swedish left social-democrats, the Czechoslovak left wing and smaller parties in other countries (including the British ILP) had essentially the same line. But pressure from their ranks forced them to pay lip service to the October revolution and to negotiate for admission to the Communist International.

‘The desire of certain leading “centre” groups to join the Third International’, wrote Lenin, ‘provides indirect confirmation that it has won the sympathy of the vast majority of class-conscious workers throughout the world, and is becoming a more powerful force with each day.’ [1] But these parties were not revolutionary communist organisations. Their traditions were those of pre-war social democracy, revolutionary in words, passive in practice. And they were led by men who would try any twist or turn in order to keep control . and prevent the adoption of genuine revolutionary strategy and tactics.

Without the bulk of the members of these parties the new International could not hope to exert a decisive influence in Europe in the short term. Without breaking with their centrist leaders it could not hope to exert a revolutionary influence. Nor was the situation much different with the mass parties already inside the Comintern. The PSI, for example, had centrists and even some thorough-going reformists in its leadership.

The struggle against centrism was complicated by another factor. Strong ultra-leftist currents – which wanted to reject all participation in bourgeois democratic institutions – existed inside many of the communist organisations. And outside them were some important syndicalist trade union organisations which rejected the workers’ party as the instrument for achieving the overthrow of capitalism, looking instead to the mass organisation of workers in trade unions. These had moved close to the Third International, but still rejected the need for communist parties.

The Spanish syndicalist federation, the CNT, which had about a million members at the time, had voted for affiliation in December 1919. A strong minority of the French trade union federation, the CGT, was also in favour. Other syndicalist groups, such as the American IWW, were undoubtedly revolutionary and were thought to be winnable. To gain and integrate these big forces was a difficult and complex operation. It required a struggle on several different fronts.

At the Second World Congress of the Comintern (July-August 1920) 217 delegates from 67 organisations in some 40 countries debated these various issues. Centrists and ultra-lefts were well represented. Both the SFIO and the USPD had delegations, but these were not permitted to vote. The decisions of the Congress were of fundamental importance. In an important sense this was the real founding congress. It took place at the height of the war between revolutionary Russia and Poland, when the Red Army was nearing Warsaw. In Germany a right-wing attempt to establish a military dictatorship, the Kapp putsch, had just been defeated by mass working-class action. In Italy the factory occupations were about to begin. The mood of revolutionary optimism was stronger than ever.

Zinoviev, president of the International, declared: ‘I am deeply convinced that the second world congress of the Communist International is the precursor of another world congress, the world congress of Soviet Republics.’ [2] All that was needed were real mass communist parties to lead the movement to victory.

The 21 Conditions

‘Just as it is not easy for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle so, I hope, it will not be easy for the adherents of the centre to slip through the 21 conditions. They are put forward to make clear to the workers in the USPD and in the Italian and French Socialist Parties, and to all organised workers, what the international general staff of the proletarian revolution demands of them.’
Zinoviev, Speech at the Second World Congress.

THE Second International had been a loose federation of national parties. The Third was to be a centralised world party with national sections, although the International must take into account ‘the varying conditions in which the individual parties have to fight and work and ... must take decisions of general validity only when such decisions are possible’. [3]

The various national programmes were to be based on the International’s programme and subject to international approval. All decisions, not only those of congresses but also those of the Comintern executive between congresses, were to be binding on all the parties. This was the substance of the 15th and 16th of the 21 conditions for affiliation to the Third International put forward by the executive.

In the light of later events many critics have seen in these conditions the seeds of degeneration. They were put forward, it is argued, solely to ensure Russian dominance, to enable the Russians to manipulate the international movement in their own interests. The centrist critics of the conditions did not argue this case at the second congress. The reasons for this are obvious. After the experience of the 1914–18 war no one addressing an audience of revolutionaries could defend the methods and practices of the Second International. Everyone, apart from the syndicalists, paid at least lip service to the ideals of international unity and a world party.

Moreover everyone, not least the Russians themselves, expected that the exceptional position of the Russian party, as the only one in power, would be a strictly temporary affair. Lenin had written shortly before the congress:

‘Soon after the victory of the proletarian revolution in at least one of the advanced countries, a sharp change will probably come about: Russia will cease to be the model and will once again become a backward country (in the “Soviet” and socialist sense).’ [4]

The conditions which the USPD delegates, in particular, most objected to were the ones requiring ‘a complete and absolute break with reformism and with the policy of the centre’ [5] and the expulsion of a number of named ‘notorious opportunists’, including Karl Kautsky and Rudolf Hilferding of the USPD, Turati and Modigliani of the (affiliated), pSI, Jean Longuet of the SFIO and Ramsay MacDonald, a future British Prime Minister, of the ILP. ‘They overlooked entirely’, argued Crispien for the USPD, ‘that we have separated from the Right Socialists, that we did not shrink from this break as soon as it became historically inevitable. Just the same this break should not be treated slightingly. I admit that a separation was a necessity ... The workers can be split much easier than they can be won and kept together for the revolution in Germany.’ [6] No more splits could be countenanced, he said.

The centrist leaders were prepared to make very radical noises. ‘We took a definite stand at the party conference in March,’ said Crispien, ‘and already then put into our programme the dictatorship of the proletariat in unmistakable terms ... we pointed out that parliamentarianism is not going to achieve socialism.’ [7]

The USPD would not, however, accept the 21 conditions, because that would mean a split with its own right wing. That at the beginning of 1919 the USPD had collaborated with the SPD to establish the Weimar Republic; that without this collaboration the operation would have been much more difficult if not impossible; that the revolutionism of most of the USPD leaders was purely verbal: all these things were carefully glossed over.

The USPD was of course a very heterogeneous party. Even in its leadership there were some whose subjective political ideas were revolutionary. But that leadership has to be judged not by words, or even good intentions, but by its deeds in the crucial months of November and December 1918.

On 10 November 1918 three thousand delegates of the Berlin workers’ and soldiers’ councils appointed as provisional government of Germany a Council of People’s Commissars. They were Ebert, Scheidemann and Landsberg of the SPD and Barth, Dittman and Haase of the USPD. There was no other government. The last Chancellor of Imperial Germany, Prince Max von Baden, had dissolved his government on 9 November and appointed Ebert as his successor. On the evening of the 10th General Groener, the new Chief of Staff of the army, telephoned Ebert, ‘placing the army at the disposal of the new government’.

All these actions, von Baden’s and Groener’s no less than those of the Berlin delegates, were entirely illegal. There was a revolution. The old regime had collapsed. Von Baden saw no hope for the German bourgeoisie except the SPD. Groener saw no hope of holding the army together except through the SPD.

Actually, and this is centrally important, the army disintegrated nonetheless. After the signing of the armistice with the Western allies on 11 November, the German General Staff moved the entire western group of armies, two million soldiers, back across the Rhine. Once across the river, in Groener’s own words, ‘the units simply melted away’. The core of the state machine dissolved.

Now the SPD leaders, from the start, set out to reconstitute that state machine. Their two key decisions were the convening of a National Assembly and the creation of a small new volunteer army under right-wing officers, which was then used against the revolutionary left in January 1919. The USPD leaders – half the government – supported the first move, and although they were opposed to the second they did not fight it.

These were the centrist leaders that the 21 conditions were designed to exclude. It is crystal clear that, given their recent record, no verbal commitment to workers’ power or anything else by these leaders was of the slightest value. A split was absolutely necessary. Fortunately two of the three USPD leaders at the second congress, Crispien and Dittmann, opposed it openly – thereby facilitating a sharp debate.

The French centrists adopted a different tactic. Their main spokesman was the notorious opportunist Marcel Cachin. Cachin had not only been violently in favour of the First World War until 1917, but had acted as an agent of the French government in an attempt to create a pro-war wing in the Italian Socialist Party and had cooperated for this purpose with the renegade (and future fascist dictator) Benito Mussolini. Cachin was willing to promise anything.

‘We are in full agreement ... We are convinced that if our friend Longuet had been able to be here, his opinion, after consideration, would not have been different from ours [Longuet was an outspoken opponent of the Bolsheviks]. We shall return to France carrying your conditions.’ [8]

A party led by Longuet, Cachin, Frossard and their friends would never be a revolutionary party, whatever promises it made. Clearly, it was not going to be as easy as Zinoviev had supposed to prevent the centrist camels slipping through the needle’s eye. For this reason a number of left-wing delegates sharply criticised the executive of the Comintern for allowing the centrists to be present at all. Lenin disagreed. ‘When Kautsky attacks us and brings out books against us,’ he said, ‘we polemicise with him as our class enemy. But when the USPD, which has expanded as a result of an influx of revolutionary workers, comes here for negotiations, we must talk to its representatives, since they are a section of the revolutionary workers.’ [9]

After the congress these workers could be reached more easily. After an intense debate in their party, the USPD leaders were compelled to call a congress at Halle, in October, to consider affiliation to the Comintern. The left won by 236 votes to 156. The right split. The new party, after uniting with the original German Communist Party (KPD),which had formed in 1919, counted some 350,000 members. The Comintern now had a mass party in the most important country in Europe. In December the Tours congress of the French SFIO voted by a three-to-one majority (3,208 votes to 1,022) to affiliate and accept the 21 conditions. The resulting new French Communist Party (PCF) started with 150,000 members. But though the more uncompromising right-wingers, led by Longuet and Blum, had split away to re-establish the SFIO, the PCF itself was led by ‘reconstructed’ centrists such as Frossard and Cachin. Events were to prove that the reconstruction was only skin deep.

That same December, 1920, the Czechoslovak Social-Democratic Party split, the communist left taking over half the membership and establishing a communist party 100,000–strong. A separate split in the social-democratic party of the German-speaking minority in Czechoslovakia (Sudetenland) added further forces and, after the unification of these, the party claimed 170,000 members.

By early 1921, parties affiliated to the Comintern had the support of the majority of politically conscious European workers in six countries (France, Italy, Norway, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia) and of a substantial minority in others (Germany, Sweden and Poland). The most important exception was Britain, where the Communist Party, founded in 1920, had perhaps 3,000 real members (although claiming 10,000) and was not yet a serious force.

It is useful at this point to look at some others of the 21 conditions. ‘The entire party press must be run by reliable communists ...’ stated one of these. ‘The periodical press and other publications, and all party publishing houses must be completely subordinated to the party, regardless of whether the party as a whole is at a given moment legal or illegal. Publishing houses must not be allowed to abuse their independence and pursue a policy which is not wholly in accordance with the policy of the party.’ This condition was aimed at the notorious way in which, in many social-democratic parties, individuals with money, or wealthy supporters, ran allegedly party publications which were not under party control and which commonly accommodated to petty-bourgeois prejudices.

Another condition declared ‘no confidence in bourgeois legality’: ‘Where ... communists are unable to do all their work legally, it is absolutely essential to combine legal and illegal work.’

Again, ‘every party which wishes to join the Communist International is obliged to expose not only avowed social-patriotism, but also the insincerity and hypocrisy of social-pacifism; to bring home to the workers systematically that without the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism no international court of arbitration, no agreement to limit armaments, no “democratic” re-organisation of the League of Nations will be able to prevent new imperialist wars.’ The modern equivalent of the League of Nations is the United Nations.

‘Every party ... must carry on systematic and persistent communist activity inside the trade unions, the workers’ councils and factory committees, the cooperatives and other mass workers’ organisations. Within these organisations communist cells must be organised which shall by persistent and unflagging work win the trade unions, etc, for the communist cause.’ This was, of course, directed against ultra-lefts in the communist parties – but it is worth noting that the problem of labour bureaucracies, as a conservative layer inside the mass workers’ organisations, is not specifically considered. ‘Parties belonging to the Communist International must be based on the principle of democratic centralism ... the communist party will be able to fulfil its duty only if its organisation is as centralised as possible, if iron discipline prevails, and if the party centre, upheld by the confidence of the party membership, has strength and authority and is equipped with the most comprehensive powers.’

The key phrase here is ‘upheld by the confidence of the party membership’, for discipline in a revolutionary party is 90 per cent a matter of conviction. The clause was aimed, first of all, against members of parliament, councillors, trade union officials, and other relatively privileged people within the party. An organisation which does not force these to submit to the discipline of the party – or expel them when they do otherwise – is not a revolutionary socialist organisation.

Naturally the emphasis, on democracy at one time, on centralism at another, depends on the requirements of the situation. Who decides what these requirements are? There can be no simple reliance on an ‘infallible’ leadership, for there is no such thing. It is a matter of developing a layer of experienced members within the party – ‘cadre’ – who are able to judge. But this takes time – something of which the Comintern parties had precious little in the crucial early years.

Other points in the 21 conditions dealt with party work in the armed forces, among the peasantry, in relation to colonies and with international trade union affiliations, which will be considered later.

In practice, the new mass communist parties did not yet even approximate to the model set out by the 21 conditions. They had all kinds of defects. But their very existence was an enormous step forward.

In the summer of 1920 still further forces, the big syndicalist organisations of France and Spain and smaller ones elsewhere, seemed open to influence. The problem was to convince them of the need for a revolutionary party. An important debate at the second world congress was on the nature of the revolutionary party and the syndicalist objections.

The role of the Party

‘The Communist International decisively rejects the view that the proletariat can achieve its revolution without having an independent political party of its own. Every class struggle is a political struggle. The goal of this struggle, which is inevitably transformed into civil war, is the conquest of political power. Political power cannot be seized, organised and operated, except through a political party.’
Resolution of the Second World Congress.

‘IT MAY SEEM fairly strange that, three-quarters of a century after the appearance of the Communist Manifesto, discussion should arise at an international communist congress over whether a party is necessary or not,’ wrote Trotsky. In fact, he continued, the events of recent years ‘compel us to pose the question whether the party is necessary or not.’ [10]

The revolutionary syndicalists identified political parties with parliamentarianism – and identified participation in parliaments with opportunism and betrayal. Their alternative was militant trade unionism, based on direct action and leading ultimately to the revolutionary general strike. Parties were not only unnecessary, according to this viewpoint, they were a positive handicap to the working class. The betrayal of 1914 proved it.

‘What matters most is that the spirit should be revolutionary ...’ said Pestana, delegate of the Spanish CNT.

‘The important thing is that the trade unions as such should be revolutionary and militant organisations.’ [11]

Jack Tanner, a future president of the British engineering workers’ union, but speaking at the Congress for the British Shop Stewards and Workers’ Committee Movement, developed the argument.

‘Most of the active men in the shop stewards’ movement have been members of the political socialist parties but have left them because they considered they were not travelling along the right path ... There is no question of returning like repentant sinners to the fold ... Now efforts are being made again to get the workers to resort to parliament, although all are agreed that it must be abolished as soon as possible. The English workers are losing faith in parliamentary action ... You will get nothing but antagonism from the class-conscious workers on the question of affiliation to the Labour Party.’ [12]

The Russian leaders badly wanted to win over the syndicalists as a revolutionary counterweight to the centrist waverers who were slipping into the Comintern.

‘Just because I know that the party is indispensable ... and just because I see Scheidemann (leader of the German SPD) on the one side and, on the other, American or Spanish or French syndicalists who not only wish to fight against the bourgeoisie but who, unlike Scheidemann, really want to tear its head off, Trotsky declared, ‘I prefer to discuss with these Spanish, American and French comrades ... to prove to them in a friendly way ... and not by counterposing to them Scheidemann’s long experience and saying that for the majority this question has already been settled.’ [13]

Zinoviev stressed the contrast between a social-democratic and a communist party.

‘We need no parties which are actuated by the simple principle of getting into their ranks the greatest possible numbers of members, parties which degenerate into petty bourgeois parties ... We want no such parties in which, for example, during election campaigns candidates are put up who only yesterday joined the party. We want no such parliamentary representation in which there are 46 professors and 45 lawyers or more ... It is understandable why there are good working men who say, “It is better to have no party at all than to have such a party”.’ [14]

Bukharin, at the same congress, claimed that ‘of the 68 socialist deputies in the French Chamber, 40 were reformists, 26 centrists and only two communists ... Of the 19 socialists in the Norwegian Storting (parliament) only two were communists’. [15]

The communist organisation proposed by the Comintern, Zinoviev emphasised, was totally different.

‘The members of our party must be the best men in every industry. They will be a minority at first; but since they have a clearly defined programme, since they are the best men, since they are known among the working people, they will, when the right hour comes, become immediately the leaders of the masses. The struggle that is coming is a gigantic one ...

‘Not shapeless Labour unions which live from hand to mouth, but the party is what we need most, the party which comprises the best elements of the working class, who have been organised for years, who have formed the nucleus and who will point out to the working class the right road. The task is to organise the advance guard of the working class who will really be in a position to lead the masses in this struggle. In this fight we cannot do without a general staff; we must create it, meaning that we must organise at once the best elements of the working class.’ [16]

The essence of the matter was summed up in the ‘theses’ on the party question which were adopted at the congress.

‘A sharp distinction must be made between the concepts of party and class. The members of the Christian and Liberal trade unions of Germany, England, and other countries are undoubtedly part of the working class. The more or less numerous groups of workers who still follow Scheidemann, Gompers [head of the American Federation of Labour] and their like are undoubtedly part of the working class. In certain historical circumstances it is even possible for the working class to include very numerous reactionary elements. It is the task of communism not to adapt itself to these backward sections ... but to raise the entire working class to the level of the communist vanguard ...

‘The revolutionary syndicalists often speak of the great part that can be played by a determined revolutionary minority. A really determined minority of the working class, a minority that is communist, that wants to act, that has a programme, that is out to organise the struggle of the masses – that is precisely what the communist party is.’ [17]

A number of important syndicalist leaders, notably the Frenchmen Monatte and Rosmer, were won over. But clearly the affiliation of syndicalist trade union bodies, as such, was not a real possibility. It was partly to meet this difficulty that the Red International of Labour Unions was set up later.

‘No Compromise, No Manoeuvres’

‘It would be absurd to formulate a recipe or general rule (“No Compromises!”) to suit all cases. One must use one’s own brains and be able to find one’s bearings in each particular instance. It is, in fact, one of the functions of a party organisation and of party leaders worthy of the name, to acquire, through the prolonged, persistent, variegated and comprehensive efforts of all thinking representatives of a given class, the knowledge, experience and – in addition to knowledge and experience – the political flair necessary for the speedy and correct solution of complex political problems.’
Lenin, ‘Left Wing’ Communism.

IN LATE DECEMBER 1918 the national congress of German workers’ and soldiers’ councils had voted by 344 to 98 to allow the election of a National Assembly. The SPD leaders who pressed this line, which in effect meant the suicide of the workers’ councils, undoubtedly enjoyed the support of a large majority of the working class at that moment. Almost immediately afterwards the German Communist Party (KPD) held its founding congress. It voted by a big majority (62 to 23) to boycott the election.

In this debate, those who had joined the KPD from the leadership of the old Spartakus League were almost unanimously in favour of participation. Rosa Luxemburg argued: ‘We wish to be prepared for all possibilities, including utilising the National Assembly for revolutionary purposes, should the Assembly ever come into being.’ [18]

It was of course possible, in the circumstances, to make out a case of sorts for the boycott. It could have been argued that the workers’ and soldiers’ councils were still in existence and could be maintained; that the SPD was rapidly losing ground; that its majority in the councils could be quickly overturned; that an insurrection with mass support against the SPD-USPD government was possible in the near future. Such a case would have been based on a misreading of the situation but it would not have been absurd.

This was not the case argued by most of those who advocated boycotting the election. For them, such calculations were irrelevant. They were for workers’ councils and against parliaments. Therefore they must have nothing to do with any parliament. To do so could only confuse the workers: ‘All reversion to parliamentary forms of struggle, which have

become politically and historically obsolete’, a group of the boycottists wrote a little later, ‘and any policy of manoeuvring and compromise must be emphatically rejected.’ [19]

Politically obsolete for whom? In the National Assembly elections held on 19 January 1919, the SPD won eleven and a half million votes, overwhelmingly the votes of working men and women (this was the first German election held on the basis of universal suffrage). Parliamentarianism was certainly obsolete from the point of view of the few thousand members of the KPD and even, at that time, for a wider circle of working class militants, perhaps some hundreds of thousands. But it was evidently not at all obsolete from the point of view of the millions of workers who voted for the SPD or the USPD.

The ultra-lefts assumed that what was clear to the advanced militant must also be clear to workers at large and that those who did not accept it were either scoundrels who had been corrupted or sheep who were merely waiting for the correct lead to be given. These were the underlying assumptions of the young militants who had joined with the handful of old Spartakists to form the KPD. Such assumptions led to a policy of adventurism alternating with abstentionism.

On 5 January 1919 the still tiny KPD, with the support of local sections of the USPD, attempted to seize power in Berlin. The rising, which later came to be known as the Spartakus Rising, had not been planned in advance on the basis of a calculation of the balance of forces. It was the spontaneous reaction of KPD and some USPD militants to the attempt of the government to dismiss Emil Eichhorn, a left-wing USPD member who had taken over as chief of the Berlin police during the November 1918 revolution. The dismissal was a calculated provocation.

Luxemburg, Liebknecht and the majority of the national leadership of the party were opposed to the rising. Liebknecht then changed his mind. The others were overruled and, reluctantly, put themselves at its head. The revolutionaries had some military support, notably that of about 3,000 armed sailors from Kiel, but they were a definite minority in the still existing Berlin council of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies.

Lacking majority working-class support, even in Berlin, the rising was soon crushed. Ebert, Scheidemann and Noske, the SPD leaders, gave the cover of ‘socialist’ and ‘republican’ legality to hastily reconstructed right-wing army units led by former Imperial officers. In the repression that followed, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and many others were murdered.

The KPD, or rather its local leadership in Munich, behaved better during the brief life of the Bavarian Soviet Republic which followed three months later (7 April to 1 May 1919). It opposed the formation of the republic, correctly assessing it as an adventure resting on slender support, and only took over the leadership when the coalition of anarchists, USPD men and some SPD supporters (which formed the ‘government’) fell to pieces. The result of the defeat was that ‘Bavaria became the Land (province) with a perpetual state of emergency which hampered all attempts at socialist organisation. The KPD went underground. Leaders not killed in the first days [of the counter-revolution] were sentenced by civil courts to long prison terms ...’ [20] The local KPD leaders could hardly be blamed for this outcome. They had done all they could have done.

But they were not typical of the membership nationally. What Lenin called ‘the infantile disorder of ultra-leftism’ flourished. A majority of the party was not only opposed to participation in elections; it was equally opposed to working in the existing unions. ‘New forms of organisation must be created ... ’ declared the group previously quoted. ‘A Workers’ Union, based on factory organisations, should be the rallying point for all revolutionary elements. This should unite all workers who follow the slogan “Get out of the trade unions”. It is here that the militant proletariat musters its ranks for battle. Recognition of the class struggle, of the Soviet system and of the dictatorship should be sufficient for enrolment.’ [21]

Against this ‘old and familiar rubbish’ Lenin had written, shortly before the 1920 congress of the Comintern, one of his most powerful polemics, titled ‘Left Wing’ Communism. At the congress itself a firm line was taken against abstentionism:

‘Communists in all countries must join the trade unions in order to turn them into conscious fighting organs for the overthrow of capitalism ... All voluntary abstention from the trade unions, all artificial attempts to create separate trade unions ... are extremely dangerous for the communist movement.’ [22]

On the boycotting of parliaments, mindful of the struggle against centrism, the ‘theses’ adopted by the congress carefully restated that

‘The form taken by the proletarian dictatorship is the Soviet Republic ... The task of the proletariat is to shatter the.bourgeois state machine, to destroy it, and to destroy with it parliamentary institutions ... Consequently communism repudiates parliamentarianism as the form of the future society, as the form of the class dictatorship of the proletariat. It denies the possibility of winning parliament over permanently; its object is to destroy parliamentarianism.’ [23]

On the other hand,

‘“Anti-parliamentarianism” on principle, that is, the absolute and categorical rejection of participation in elections and in revolutionary parliamentary activity, is ... a naive and childish doctrine which is beneath contempt, a doctrine which is ... blind to the possibility of the revolutionary parliamentarianism ... The boycotting of elections or of parliament are permissible primarily when the conditions for the immediate transition to armed struggle for power are at hand.’ [24]

Opposition to these views was by no means confined to Germany. The biggest section of the left of the PSI in Italy was strongly ‘boycottist in principle’. A good proportion of the membership of the British, United States, Dutch and other communist parties was ultra-left. Thus the Dutch majority favoured an ‘elite’ organisation of politically educated and sophisticated members, carefully selected, ‘undiluted’ by raw militant workers, essentially propagandistic in practice and very far from the ‘best representatives of the working class’ approach of the Comintern. Its abstentionist attitude, expressed most clearly at the third congress of the Comintern in 1921, flowed from this.

By contrast, the US Communist Party was ultra-revolutionary. A majority of its members were in favour of ‘underground and secret operations only’. All attempts at open and ‘legal’ activity were denounced as ‘opportunism’. The British Communist Party, although never committed to either of these absurdities, nevertheless had a strong ultra-left streak in its first year or two. In fact ultra-leftism, both of the abstentionist and adventurist variants, was strong in the early years of the Comintern and was to re-assert itself powerfully in 1924–5 as well as, under different circumstances, in 1928–34, as we shall see.

Where it mattered most, in Germany the ultra-left wing had been excluded from the KPD at the party’s second congress which was held, illegally, at Heidelberg in October 1919. The surviving Spartakist leaders – Levi, Meyer and others – had forced through resolutions making acceptance of trade union work and rejection of election boycotts ‘on principle’ a condition of membership. It was done with scant regard for democratic procedures (some of the ‘left’ delegates were not told the time and place of the meeting) and it cost the party half or more of its growing membership. [25] But it was essential if the KPD was ever to become a real force and, in particular, it was a necessary condition for the fusion with the left wing of the USPD which was achieved a year later.

The ‘lefts’ later formed the Communist Workers’ Party (KAPD) which claimed, initially, 38,000 members but which fell to pieces in the next few years. It was allowed a non-voting delegation at the second world congress of the Comintern.

Yet even after the exclusion of the ‘lefts’ the KPD was far from having acquired the ‘political flair’ of which Lenin had written. On 13 March 1920 a section of the reconstituted German army under General Lüttwitz, the conqueror of the Spartakus rising, turned and bit the hand that fed it. It seized Berlin and deposed the Social-Democratic government of the Weimar Republic, appointed by the National Assembly. Ebert and his colleagues fled to Stuttgart. The rest of the army stayed ‘neutral’: it would not fight for the Weimar Republic. This was the Kapp putsch, so called after a civilian reactionary, Dr Kapp, who acted as Lüttwitz’s frontman.

The German trade union federation called an unlimited general strike. More than 12 million workers came out. Armed resistance to the putsch developed, especially in the Ruhr and in Saxony, led by individuals and groups of members of the USPD and of both communist parties. Yet the first reaction of the KPD centre was to declare its neutrality in a fight between ‘two counter-revolutionary gangs’!

‘The proletariat will not lift a finger for the democratic republic,’ [26] it stated. This staggering failure to realise what was at stake, the assumption that there is no difference between a military dictatorship and a bourgeois-democratic republic, indicates the extent to which ultra-leftism had affected even its declared opponents.

This abstentionist stand was quickly reversed. Fortunately most of the party members were in advance of their leaders and ignored it from the beginning. The Kapp putsch collapsed after a few days of intense and increasingly violent working-class resistance. The result was a marked swing to the left amongst German workers. The USPD gained five million votes in the subsequent election and the KPD, which became a legal organisation after the defeat of the putsch, half a million.

‘The Kapp putsch was decisive in the development of German Communism. Until this time, the Spartakists had been an isolated minority ... The Kapp putsch stimulated new impulses in the USPD. After a two-year experience with Lüttwitz, von Seeckt, von Walter, Eberhardt, the workers were convinced that these men would not be disarmed by well-rounded formulas: they had lost their hope that the Social-Democratic government would act against the open and secret rearmament of the restoration.’ [27]

The members of the KPD and USPD grew closer together. The basis for the victory at Halle had been laid in united action between them. But a strong streak of ultra-leftism survived in the new mass united communist party (VKPD) which resulted from their fusion, as the ‘March Action’ of 1921 was to prove. An experienced cadre, such as the Bolsheviks had in Russia, could not easily be improvised. [28]

The British Communist Party and the British Labour Party

‘It should be borne in mind that the British Labour Party is in a very special position: it is a highly original type of party, or rather, it is not at all a party in the ordinary sense of the word. It is made up of members of all trade unions, and has a membership of about four million, and allows sufficient freedom to all affiliated political parties. It thus includes a vast number of British workers who follow the lead of the worst bourgeois elements, who are even worse than Scheidemann, Noske and similar people. At the same time, however, the Labour Party has let the British Socialist Party into its ranks, permitting it to have its own press organs in which members of the self-same Labour Party can freely and openly declare that the party leaders are social-traitors ... This is a very original situation: a party which unites enormous masses of workers, so that it might seem a political party, is nevertheless obliged to grant its members complete latitude ... In such circumstances it would be a mistake not to join the party.’
Lenin, Speech at the Second World Congress.

THE MAIN FACTS about the British Communist Party (CPGB), formed at the end of July 1920, were its extreme weakness and its political inheritance – the sectarian, propagandist traditions of British Marxism.

Its main forces came from the British Socialist Party, the lineal descendant of Hyndman’s Social-Democratic Federation (later the Social-Democratic Party and then, from 1912, the British Socialist Party). Engels had regarded the SDF as hopelessly sectarian, passive and propagandistic. The SDF-SDP-BSP had always been a sect, although at times a fairly large sect. Other forces had joined the Communist Party from the Socialist Labour Party, a breakaway from the SDF, still sectarian but a much more activist and interventionist group; from the remnants of the wartime shop stewards’ movement, and from a few other sources. The new party had, nevertheless, only about 3,000 members altogether, and many of these were to drop out in the next couple of years.

This weakness was not, of course, merely an accident of personalities or ideas. In the last resort it was the product of the overwhelming dominance of British capitalism throughout most of the nineteenth century. After the historic defeats of the British working class in the first half of the century, this had shaped the working-class movement along very narrow, sectionalist and ‘subordinate’ lines.

For these reasons there had been no mass social-democratic party in Britain before 1914. Now this was changing. The Labour Party, which had been a small and very moderate parliamentary pressure group closely allied to the dominant Liberal Party, declared itself a socialist organisation in 1918 and began to set up local branches open to individual members. In the general election of that year it fought independently of – and against – the Liberals for the first time and, profiting from the radicalisation produced by the First World War, gained 22 per cent of the total vote. It was still very much a federal body (‘not at all a party in the ordinary sense of the word’) and the British Socialist Party was one of its affiliated constituents. Of course this state of affairs could not be expected to last long but, in 1920, the situation was still to some degree fluid.

The Comintern executive, and Lenin in particular, urged the British Communist Party to intervene in the Labour Party by affiliating to it and carrying on a fight for revolutionary politics inside its ranks. Although Lenin called the Labour Party ‘a thoroughly bourgeois party, because, although made up of workers, it is led by reactionaries, and the worst kind of reactionaries at that’ [29], he argued:

‘If the British Communist Party starts by acting in a revolutionary manner in the Labour party, and if the Hendersons [he was Labour Party general secretary] are obliged to expel this party, that will be a great victory for the communist and revolutionary working-class movement in Britain.’ [30]

The idea was to wrench the British Communist Party away from its propagandist heritage, to win layers of the newly-awakened workers away from the Hendersons and Macdonalds of the Labour Party, and so lay the basis for an interventionist communist party of some size and substance.

The twelve British delegates at the congress were divided on the issue, but, back in Britain, the British Communist Party’s founding conference had voted by 100 votes to 85 to apply for affiliation to the Labour Party a few days before Lenin’s speech on the question.

The application for affiliation in August 1920 was rejected by the Labour Party executive but the Communist Party persisted. ‘Our tactic then’, wrote party leader Tom Bell, ‘was not to accept a refusal by the Labour Party but to carry the campaign into the country, that is, to go to the local Labour Parties, to the trade union branches ... we were met by a variety of circumstances. Some local Labour Parties, dominated by the reactionary elements who found the Communists troublesome, naturally took the opportunity to follow the lead of Henderson and the Labour Party Executive, to exclude the Communists from the local Labour Parties, In other localities, where the Communists had already been working well and had influence in trade union organisations and the local workers’ movement, the local parties were inclined to be sympathetic and not to take any action against the Communists. The whole content of this campaign raised the question of Soviets versus the parliamentary democracy and brought to the front the question of the role of violence in the struggle for power.’ [31]

Undoubtedly it was a fruitful operation in the circumstances, especially in terms of orienting the new Communist Party on the mass movement. If the gains were less than had been hoped for, this was, above all, due to the sharp downturn of the class struggle in Britain following the betrayal of the miners by the Triple Alliance of trade unions and their subsequent defeat by the employers in 1921. That, and the wage cuts successfully imposed on the engineering workers, shipyard workers, seamen, cotton-trade operatives and printers, naturally strengthened the right wing in the unions and so, inevitably, strengthened the right wing in the Labour Party against the Communist Party.

Nevertheless, the affiliation campaign, at least in its first years, laid the basis for the subsequent application of the united front tactic around the National Minority Movement in the unions. Of course, the Communist Party’s attempt to affiliate to the Labour Party was not an ‘entry’ operation, as that term later came to be understood. There was never any

question of the British Communist Party giving up either political or organisational independence. It remained an open revolutionary party. The campaign was an example of the combination of firm, principled political positions with a great tactical flexibility, a characteristic of the Comintern leadership in these early years, though not, unfortunately, of the Comintern parties as a whole.

The Peasants and the Colonial World

‘The question was posed as follows: are we to consider as correct the assertion that the capitalist stage of economic development is inevitable for backward nations ... ? We replied in the negative. If the victorious revolutionary proletariat conducts systematic propaganda amongst them, and the Soviet governments come to their aid with all the means at their disposal – in that event it will be mistaken to assert that the backward peoples must inevitably go through the capitalist stage of development.’
Lenin, Speech at the Second World Congress.

IN 1847 Marx had predicted the development of large-scale industry, the growth of a large modern working class and the destruction of the older classes in society: the independent craftsmen, peasants and petty producers. The prediction had been brilliantly vindicated, but the process was an uneven one. Essentially, in 1920 large-scale industry was still confined to Europe and North America, apart from a few enclaves in the rest of the world. For the majority of the world’s population, primitive forms of production were still the norm.

Even in Europe uneven development was marked, above all in agriculture, where the process of capitalist concentration was very slow. Apart from Britain (or more exactly England and Lowland Scotland) numerically large peasantries survived in every European country, including such advanced countries as France and Germany. No doubt, in the long run, peasant agriculture was doomed. Meanwhile a perspective of revolution in the near future required a policy to win the mass of the peasants.

In Russia, where the peasants were a large majority of the population, the Bolsheviks had, as Lenin wrote, ‘entered into an informal (and very successful), political bloc with the petty bourgeois peasantry by adopting the Socialist-Revolutionary agrarian programme in its entirety, without a single alteration’. [32] The Socialist-Revolutionary Party was the main peasant party during 1917 and the substance of its agrarian programme was ‘the land to the peasants’. Many European communists were uneasy about this policy. They pointed to the undeniable fact that a land-owning peasantry was an obstacle to the development of socialism. They failed to see that peasant support was essential to the overthrow of capitalism.

The centrists took the same line. At the Second World Congress, Crispien of the USPD accused the Russians of opportunism on the agrarian question. Serrati, leader of the centre group in the PSI, took a wholly negative view of peasant movements. ‘Everyone knows that the movement for the occupation of lands – which was carried out, especially in Sicily, by veterans and Populari [a catholic party with substantial peasant support] – was a demagogic and petty bourgeois movement.’ [33] Therefore turn one’s back on it! This was in a country with a massive peasantry.

Crispien was also speaking after the disastrous experience of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Hungary in 1919 was a country in which the peasant majority of the people lived on the estates of great landowners under near-feudal conditions. The Soviet Republic was established peacefully on 21 March. The old regime had collapsed under the impact of military defeat, mass strikes, army mutiny and the insistence of France and Britain on the cession of territories, which meant that 30 per cent of all Magyar (Hungarian) speakers were to be transferred to the Anglo-French client states of Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

The Hungarian Soviet Government included the social-democrats, who played a vacillating and treacherous role, as well as the communists, and it enjoyed the support of practically the whole working class. A Red Army was hastily organised.

‘The Soviet Government nationalised industry and the banks, introduced an eight hour working day, disestablished the Church (the biggest single landowner), introduced free school tuition and handed over palaces, villas and sanatoriums for the use of the working people.’ [34]

What it did not do was to give the mass of the Magyar people, the peasants, a stake in the new order. In spite of advice and entreaties from Moscow, the great estates were simply nationalised and ‘the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship hardly changed anything in the Hungarian countryside, the day labourers saw no changes, and the small peasants got nothing’. [35]

Romanian and Czechoslovak armies, directed by French officers, invaded Hungary. The Red Republic held out with desperate determination for 133 days, until 1 August. After its fall a white terror practically destroyed the workers’ movement. The great magnates recovered their estates.

The Soviet government, headed by Bela Kun, had made a number of avoidable errors but the one great error that was decisive was the doctrinaire refusal to compromise, to make serious concessions to the peasants. As a result some three Hungarians out of four had, as they saw it, nothing to lose by the defeat of the working class. The Second World Congress declared:

‘It is urgently necessary that the conditions of the rural masses, the most exploited of them, should be immediately and appreciably improved by the victory of the proletariat, at the expense of the exploiters, for without that the industrial proletariat cannot rely confidently on support from the countryside or on the provisioning of the towns with food.’ [36]

These considerations were of still greater importance in the colonial world. By world standards even Hungary was an advanced society. ‘The vast majority of the world’s population, over a thousand million, perhaps even 1,250 million people, if we take the total population of the world at 1,750 million,’ Lenin declared in his report on the national and colonial questions, ‘in other words about 70 per cent of the world’s population belong to the oppressed nations, which are either in a state of direct colonial dependence or are semi-colonies, as, for example, Persia, Turkey and China ... It would be Utopian to believe that proletarian parties in these backward countries, if indeed they can emerge in them, can pursue communist tactics and a communist policy, without establishing definite relations with the peasant movement and without giving it effective support.’ [37]

But what, in any case, was the perspective for these countries? The material basis of socialism, a developed industry and a high productivity of labour, hardly existed there. The necessary human basis of socialism, a modern working class, was weak or even absent. Must they, then, follow the path taken by the advanced countries, the path of capitalist development?

Lenin’s answer, endorsed by the Second World Congress, was a conditional negative. If the working class gained power in a number of advanced countries, if it came to the aid of the backward ones ‘with all the means at ... [its] disposal’, then the capitalist road of development was not inevitable.

Nearly 40 years earlier Engels had written to Kautsky in a similar though less confident vein.

‘Once Europe is reorganised (i.e. socialist), and North America, that will furnish such colossal power and such an example that the semi-civilised countries will of themselves follow in their wake; economic needs, if anything, will see to that’, but he cautiously added: ‘But as to what social and political phases these countries will then have to pass through before they likewise arrive at socialist organisation, I think we today can advance only rather idle hypotheses.’ [38]

There was, nonetheless, a difference between Lenin’s view in 1920 and Engels’ view in 1882. For Engels, the role of the backward countries was essentially passive. For Lenin, they had an active part to play. The difference arose from Lenin’s conception of the development of imperialism, especially the export of capital from advanced imperialist states to backward colonial and semi-colonial ones, leading to developed capitalist states becoming ‘the rentier state ... a state of parasitic, decaying capitalism’. [39] This meant that the ‘rentier capitalism’ of Britain and France could be attacked in India and China as well as in Britain and France.

Therefore ‘our policy must be to bring into being a close alliance of all national and colonial liberation movements with Soviet Russia.’ [40] The problems of the relations of communist parties in backward areas with these bourgeois national liberation movements were already a matter of some controversy in 1920.

Lenin, presenting the report of the commission on the national and colonial questions at the second world congress, said:

‘I should like especially to emphasise the question of the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward countries. This is a question that has given rise to certain differences. We have discussed whether it would be right or wrong, in principle and in theory, to state that the Communist International and the Communist parties must support the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward countries ... we have arrived at the unanimous decision to speak of the national revolutionary movement rather than of the bourgeois-democratic movement.

‘It is beyond doubt that any national movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic movement, since the overwhelming mass of the population in the backward countries consists of peasants who represent bourgeois-capitalist relations ... It would be Utopian to believe that proletarian parties in these backward countries, if indeed they can emerge in them, can pursue communist tactics and a communist policy, without establishing definite relations with the peasant movement and without giving it effective support. However, the objections have been raised that, if we speak of the bourgeois-democratic movement, we shall be obliterating all distinctions between the reformist and revolutionary movements. Yet that distinction has been very clearly revealed of late in the backward and colonial countries ... There has been a certain rapprochement between the bourgeoisie of the exploiting countries and that of the colonies, so that very often – perhaps even in most cases – the bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries, while it does support the national movement, is in full accord with the imperialist bourgeoisie, i.e. joins forces with it against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes ... we, as communists, should and will support bourgeois liberation movements only when they are genuinely revolutionary and when their exponents do not hinder our work of educating and organising in a revolutionary spirit the peasantry and the mass of the exploited.’ [41]

But the ‘bourgeois liberation movement’ which does not fear the arousal of ‘the mass of the exploited’ is not to be found in the twentieth century. What then? The Chinese revolution of 1925–27 was decisively to expose the contradictions in this.

However, the actual ‘theses’ adopted at the second world congress were unequivocal on the central practical question: ‘A resolute struggle must be waged against the attempt to clothe the revolutionary liberation movements in the backward countries which are not genuinely communist in communist colours. The Communist International has the duty of supporting the revolutionary movement in the colonies and backward countries only with the object of rallying the constituent elements of the future proletarian parties – which will be truly communist and not only in name – in all the backward countries, and educating them to a consciousness of their special task, namely, that of fighting against the bourgeois-democratic trend in their own nation.

‘The Communist International should collaborate provisionally with the revolutionary movement of the colonies and backward countries, and even form an alliance with it, but it must not amalgamate with it; it must unconditionally maintain the independence of the proletarian movement, even if it is only in an embryonic stage.’ [42] (Emphasis added.)

In pursuit of these policies a ‘Congress of the Peoples of the East’ was organised in Baku in September 1920. 1,891 ‘delegates’ reportedly attended, the great majority of them Turks, Iranians, peoples of the Caucasus or of Russian Central Asia. The theme was ‘a modern crusade of oppressed people against the imperialist oppressors, with Britain as the main target of attack’. [43] Although two-thirds of the ‘delegates’ were said to be communists, most of them seem to have been from the territories of the old Tsarist empire. The Turks, the biggest group from outside Russia, were for the most part simply nationalists opposed to the British and Greek intervention against Turkey. At that time there was hardly a genuine communist party in Asia outside the lands held by the Red Army.

A subsequent ‘Congress of the Toilers of the Far East’ (January-February 1922), although much smaller (144 delegates) was probably more significant. The delegations were real, representing actual organisations, and the Chinese, Koreans and Mongols, at least, represented embryonic communist parties.

For the communist parties of the advanced countries the line was clear and sharp. The eighth condition for affiliation to the Comintern required:

‘A particularly explicit and clear attitude on the question of the colonies ... Every party ... is obliged to expose the tricks and dodges of “its” imperialists in the colonies, to support every colonial liberation movement, not merely in words but in deeds, to demand the expulsion of their own imperialists from these colonies ... and to carry on systematic agitation among the troops of their country against any oppression of the colonial peoples.’ [44]

This was not only a decisive break with the ‘Euro-centrism’ of the Second International but also a deepening of the gulf between reformist and revolutionary politics in the advanced countries.

Women and Revolution

‘The Third Congress of the Communist International declares that the tasks of the Communist Parties ... include the following: to educate women in communist ideas and draw them into the ranks of the party; to fight the prejudices against women held by the mass of the male proletariat.’
Methods and forms of work amongst Communist Party women, Theses of the Third Congress of the Communist International (emphasis added).

IT IS A MYTH that the Comintern, in its period under Lenin, ignored the question of women’s liberation. The subject was on the agenda of both the first and second congresses. Although the definitive ‘theses’ were adopted at the third congress – by which time two international communist women’s conferences had been held – it is convenient to consider them here.

First the analysis. The thesis stated: For

‘working women of the whole world ... their liberation from centuries of enslavement, lack of rights and inequality is possible only through the victory of communism ... the bourgeois women’s movement is completely incapable of guaranteeing women that which communism gives.

‘So long as the power of capital and private property exists, the liberation of women from dependence on a husband can go no further than the right to dispose of her own property and her own wage and to decide on equal terms with her husband the future of her children ... The experience of working women in all those capitalist countries in which, over recent years, the bourgeoisie has introduced formal equality of the sexes makes this clear.

‘The vote does not destroy the prime cause of women’s enslavement in the family and society. Some bourgeois states have substituted civil marriage for indissoluble marriage. But so long as the proletarian woman remains economically dependent on the capitalist boss and her husband, the breadwinner, and in the absence of comprehensive measures to protect motherhood and childhood and provide socialised child-care and education, this cannot equalise the position of women in marriage or solve the problem of relationships between the sexes.

‘The real equality of women, as opposed to formal and superficial equality, will be achieved only under communism, when women and all other members of the working class will become co-owners of the means of production and distribution and will take part in administering them, and women will share on an equal footing with all members of the labour society the duty to work; in other words it will be achieved by overthrowing the capitalist system of production and exploitation which is based on the exploitation of human labour, and by organising a communist economy.’ [45]

Second, the solution in terms of struggle. Liberation will be won ‘not by the united efforts of women of different classes but by the united struggle of all the exploited ... nor should there be a special women’s movement and ... any alliance between working women and bourgeois feminism, or support for the vacillating or clearly right-wing tactics of the social-compromisers and opportunists, will lead to a weakening of the forces of the working class, thereby delaying the great hour of the emancipation of women.’ [46]

The ‘united struggle of all the exploited’ means participation in the class struggle. On these grounds the Comintern rejected ‘a special women’s movement’. On the other hand, given the ‘prejudices against women held by the mass of the male proletariat’, special measures were necessary by communist parties, both to fight male prejudice in their own ranks (as well as in the working class at large) and to draw women into active and leading roles in the parties themselves.

All this, in the early 1920s, when many social-democrats could not yet agree that women should be allowed even to vote on the same terms as men, and when the bourgeois women’s movements had supported the First World War!

The Comintern set up an elaborate structure of an international women’s secretariat, international conferences, national women’s secretariats and so on. No doubt much of this remained on paper. But in the light of reformist – and worse – criticisms by feminists today, it can reasonably be said: This is our tradition: where were your political friends at the time?




1. Lenin, vol. 31, p. 206.

2. Degras, vol. 1, p. 109.

3. Degras, vol. 1, p. 172.

4. Lenin, vol. 31, p. 21.

5. Degras, vol. 1, p. 170.

6. Proceedings of the Second World Congress (CPGB London 1920), p. 186. The Second Congress of the Communist International, vol. 1 (New Park Publications, London 1977), p. 247, gives this version: ‘But splits are not something to undertake lightly. I can imagine a situation where a split is necessary. The proof of that is the USPD in Germany. But that is a bitter necessity. Before splitting one should try to win the workers for a fundamentally clear attitude. For that one needs time and patience. It is much easier to split the workers than it is to win them and hold them together for the revolution in Germany.’

7. Proceedings, p. 184.

8. Proceedings, pp. 217–8.

9. Lenin, vol. 31, pp. 250–1.

10. Trotsky, The First Five Years of the Communist International, vol. 1, p. 97. [Speech on Comrade Zinoviev’s Report on the Role of the Party]

11. Proceedings, p. 65.

12. Proceedings, pp. 66–7.

13. Trotsky, First Five Years, p. 98. [Speech on Comrade Zinoviev’s Report on the Role of the Party]

14. Proceedings, pp. 56–7.

15. Braunthal, History of the International (London 1967), vol. 2, p. 175.

16. Proceedings, pp. 55–6.

17. Degras, vol. 1, pp. 129 and 131.

18. Solidarity, Spartakism to National Bolshevism: the KPD 1918–24 (Aberdeen 1970), p. 9.

19. Lenin, vol. 31, p. 40.

20. Fischer, Stalin and German Communism (London 1948), p. 108.

21. Lenin, vol. 31, p. 40.

22. Degras, vol. 1, pp. 146–7.

23. Degras, vol. 1, p. 152.

24. Degras, vol. 1, pp. 153–4.

25. Fischer, p. 119.

26. Degras, vol. 1, p. 82.

27. Fischer, p. 134. Von Seeckt was the Chief of Staff of the new German Army.

28. See Cliff, Lenin, vols. I and II (London 1975 and 1976) and also Zinoviev, History of the Bolshevik Party (London 1973).

29. Lenin, vol. 31, p. 258.

30. Lenin, vol. 31, p. 263.

31. Bell, The British Communist Party (London 1937), pp. 67–68.

32. Lenin, vol. 31, p. 72.

33. Cammett, Antonio Gramsci and the Origins of Italian Communism (Stanford 1967), p. 132.

34. Institute of Marxism-Leninism of USSR, An Outline History of the Communist International, p. 61.

35. Lenin, vol. 31, pp. 149–50.

36. Degras, vol. 1, p. 160.

37. Lenin, vol. 31, pp. 140–1.

38. Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, p. 351.

39. Lenin, vol. 22, p. 278.

40. Degras, vol. 1, p. 141.

41. Lenin, vol. 31, pp. 241–2.

42. Degras, vol. 1, pp. 143–4.

43. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution, vol. 3 (London 1966), p. 263.

44. Degras, vol. 1, p. 170.

45. Adler (ed.), Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congresses of the Third International (London 1980), pp. 214–5.

46. Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos, p. 216.


Last updated on 26 July 2018