Source: Published in To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921 (https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/897-to-the-masses), pp. 175–179.
Translation: John Riddell.
HTML Markup: David Walters & Andy Blunden for the Marxists Internet Archive, 2018.
Copyright: John Riddell, 2017. Republished here with permission
Comrades, the Credentials Commission has not yet been able to check all mandates, since they have not yet all been submitted. So far we have recognised 291 mandates with decisive vote, 218 mandates with consultative vote, and 100 guests from abroad, who have received guest cards. The delegates come from forty-eight countries, and there are also delegates from the international youth organisation and the women. The Poale Zion and also the Jewish Workers League, which works in Poland, have been admitted with consultative vote. We also have granted consultative vote to the Near and Far East Bureau.1
The Credentials Commission had to dispose of a number of questions that were not purely of a formal nature, on which I must report. First, we rejected requests by two groups in Bulgaria to be admitted to the congress with consultative vote. These are the so-called Communist Workers Party of Bulgaria and a second current called the Group of Left Communists. In both cases, the Credentials Commission was able to establish that the groups have no significant following. The first group, the so-called Communist Workers Party, arose from a current within the social-patriotic party that split away in 1919. They appeared here in Moscow, accusing the Communist Party of Bulgaria of not being radical enough. But their newspaper printed excerpts from Kautsky’s book Terrorism and Communism.2 This fact alone enabled us to determine that this was not a left group. The majority of this group now belongs to the Communist Party of Bulgaria. The second group, the so-called Left Communists, cannot demonstrate any activity, and we do not consider it appropriate, in a country where there is a large Communist Party, to reward attempts at a split by granting them consultative vote. The group protested that we had rejected their application without giving them a hearing.
The Executive Committee of the Communist International reviewed the charges against the Bulgarian party. Based on all the submitted materials and lengthy memoranda from all quarters, a commission of the Executive Committee adopted a resolution before the congress began. This resolution formed the basis for the decision of the Credentials Commission; we also consulted the Communist Party of Bulgaria.
Our second report concerns Romania As you know, the Romanian party was not a member of the Communist International. There are substantial groups of Communists working underground in this party for its affiliation to the Communist International, while carrying out their own independent Communist agitation and propaganda. These organisations were headed by the ‘Coordinating Centre’. Shortly before the congress, the Romanian party declared it was affiliating to the Communist International. But after doing that, the party leadership and several hundred leading Romanian comrades were arrested right out of the congress on government orders.3 We have received a report of a Bulgarian comrade who went to Bucharest after these arrests. The comrades said that their party would not be in a position to send an official delegation to the congress. However, they hoped that individual comrades, working in the underground, would succeed in getting to the congress. And representatives of the underground organisation did in fact come; they are all members of the party. So the question for us in the commission was whether recognising a small segment of the Romanian comrades as representing the party would perhaps be perceived as overstepping our authority, as giving representation not to a party but to a group. The comrades from the Balkans said that this was not the case. We have recognised the representatives of the Romanian party on a provisional basis, without in any way infringing on the rights of the Romanian party. We did that out of solidarity with the jailed Romanian comrades.
A third group of questions concerns the presence of parties with consultative vote, parties that do not yet belong to the International but have begun negotiations with it. Examples are the Estonian Independent [Socialist] Party, the Jewish Workers League in Poland, and the Poale Zion world federation. The Credentials Commission states that admitting these organisations to the congress with consultative vote in no way implies their admission as parties. It will be up to the congress, its commissions, and the Executive to determine, in discussions with these parties, to what extent they conform to the requirements for admission to the Communist International, and the extent to which new requirements may be needed. We believe that these parties should be handled in the same fashion as the German Independent Party [USPD], to which we granted the right to be present here [at the Second Congress] and put forward its point of view, as long as it was still negotiating with us. I ask that you approve the decisions of the Credentials Commission.(Applause)
Koenen (Chair): Discussion is open on the report of the Credentials Commission. Does anyone wish to raise any type of objection against the commission proposals?
Seeing that no objections have been raised to the commission proposals, I declare the report and its proposals to be adopted.
We now come to determining the basis for voting.
Radek: We have decided to propose to the congress that the delegations be divided into five groups. Of course, we did not arrive at a single unified principle that could serve as a basis for this division. The size of the parties’ membership cannot alone be decisive. We have parties that, although quite weak, will over time play a decisive role, because of the overall situation of their countries. Therefore, we cannot allocate such parties to a group based solely on the size of their membership. We have therefore combined the number of members, the country’s political importance, and, thirdly, the prospects for development of the workers’ and Communist movement in that country.
We propose to establish four groups. The first group, which will have forty votes each, consists of Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and – finally – the youth association, which has 800,000 members. The second group, which will have thirty votes, consists of Britain, the United States of North America, Poland, Ukraine, Norway, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria. The two English-speaking parties are unfortunately not yet large mass organisations, but they’re convinced that – given the situation in their countries – they will become so in short order. Given the importance of the movement in their countries, we have allocated them to the second group, with thirty votes. The third group, with twenty votes, consists of Spain, Finland, Romania, Latvia, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The Belgian party remains small, but as you know, following the split of the Jacquemotte group [from the Belgian Social Democratic party] we have every prospect of a good Communist Party there. The fourth group, with ten votes, consists of small countries with an old workers’ movement, and imperialist countries where a Communist movement already exists. Included in this group are Azerbaijan with Baku, where a fine workers’ movement has existed for twenty years, Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, and Luxembourg. Also Persia [Iran] and Turkey.
The fifth group, with five votes, includes the South African organisation, Iceland, groups in Mexico, Armenia, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and the group in the Dutch East Indies [Indonesia].
We granted consultative votes to a number of countries where the movement is not yet at all consolidated, such as in China, where we see the beginnings of a workers’ movement but the Communists are not yet organised except in trade unions.4 Other such countries, where the movement is more revolutionary than political and Communist, are Turkestan, Khiva, Bukhara, and Mongolia.
As for Japan, where there is a strong workers’ movement, it must have a decisive vote. The Japanese comrades present here have told us in all modesty that they represent only a portion of the Japanese workers’ organisations of Korea and Japanese workers in the United States, and that they therefore have no claim to a decisive vote. Later, we received word that a proper delegation had left Japan. When they arrive, they will of course receive a decisive vote. The Japanese representatives here now have come on a personal basis and have a consultative vote.
These decisions of the Credentials Commission were adopted unanimously, and I ask you to adopt them as well.
Now a word about how we will vote. We took last year’s voting method as a basis, with one change. We propose that voting be done by having the elected representatives of delegations deliver the votes of the delegations on all politically decisive questions. If there is a difference of opinion within the delegation, it can either decide how to divide the votes or, in particularly difficult cases, come to an agreement with the Presidium. A number of comrades have been invited specifically because they have alternative viewpoints. They will be given an opportunity by the Presidium to take the floor, independently from their delegation. They do not have the right to vote.(Applause)
1. The reference is presumably to the Council for Propaganda and Action, established in 1920 by the Baku congress and based in that city. It carried out widespread educational activity, mainly in the Near East. In early 1922, the council was wound up and its functions transferred to the Comintern centre in Moscow.
2. Karl Kautsky’s Terrorism and Communism: A Contribution to the Natural History of Revolution was published in German in 1919, with an English edition the following year.
3. The Romanian Socialist Party’s congress of 8–12 May 1921 voted to join the Comintern and change the party’s name to Communist Party of Romania. Before the congress concluded, however, the police surrounded the building and arrested the delegates.
4. The Communist Party of China was formed in July 1921 by a congress with fifty-three participants that convened in Shanghai.
Updated on February 14, 2019