Karl Radek

Report of Comrade Radek on the Break-Up
of the Commission of Nine

(9 June 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 46, 9 June 1922, pp. 361–362.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2019). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Events since the 2nd of April, i.e., since the beginning of the Conference of the Three Internationals in Berlin, provide rich political material on the united front “from above”. We must now critically sift this material.

After the dissolution of the Commission of Nine the press of the Second International and in a still more shameless manner that of the 2½ International tried to prove that we had merely used the united front as a sort of manoeuvre for the Genoa Conference.

In the opinion of these gentlemen we attempted to mobilize the working class on the occasion of the Genoa Conference and afterwards in view of the alleged splendid results of the Conference, had no more use for the united front and presented our ultimatum. However, the historic development of our struggle for the united front proves just the contrary.

Already in January 1921 we approached the problem of the united front as an experiment, empirically as it were, by means of the Open Letter in Germany. In Autumn 1921 the Communist International debated this problem and already at that time the united front became a practical task of the Communist International. At a time when nobody even dreamed of the Genoa Conference, we already carried on animated discussions on the united front. It is a simple perversion of the facts when somebody affirms that the Genoa Conference played a role in the development of the idea of the united front. This problem resulted as a natural consequence of the struggle of the masses. As to the Genoa Conference, we were conscious of the fact that this Conference was no ordinary Conference, that it would deal with extremely important problems, the solution of which was awaited by the working masses of Europe with certain hopes. This Conference was to show the new proportion of forces between the capitalist powers which arm for new raids. We on our part were imperatively obliged to see to it that all the working class would not only be a silent looker-on at these activities of the bourgeoisie. The Berlin Conference was the result of our tactics of the united front. We did not intend to discuss at this Conference the great theoretical problems of the labor movement. We put up only such questions as were comprehensible from the standpoint of the policy of the Second and the 2½ Internationals. The old united International was split in consequence of the reformist policy of the leaders and as long as this reformist policy is not replaced by revolutionary class struggle there can be no question of organizational and intellectual unity with the Second and the 2½ Internationals. What we immediately need is not that unity, but a political bloc under concrete conditions for the realization of definite demands. We pointed to a series of concrete demands which they also must defend, as for instance the problem of wage reductions, of the offensive of capital against the eight-hour day; we mentioned the situation of Soviet Russia, which is weakened as a consequence of long struggles against all capitalist states. Even the Amsterdam International had to recognize that the overthrow of Soviet Russia would signify the victory of world reaction.

Our demand for the united front was answered with a series of conditions. “If you,” they said, “appeal to us as to petty bourgeois Socialists and demand the united front, we declare we are ready to conclude an agreement if you grant the corresponding concessions to your own petty bourgeois Socialists, i.e. to the S.R.’s, to the Mensheviks, to the Separatists of the Ukraine, Georgia, etc.” Demands of this kind are a complete misinterpretation of the idea of the united front. The Georgian and Ukrainian problems have nothing to do with it. The financial blockade of world capital forces us to make concessions; the Second International, however, demands that we grant full liberty to those parties which in their programs demand the complete political and economic re-establishment of capitalism. Petlura- Ukraine and Menshevik Georgia were all the time practically instruments in the hands of the Entente only with the support of which were they able to live and to maintain themselves. We would do too much honor to these Socialists if we would believe them able to put up a well-contrived political plan, in reality it was only a quite obvious manoeuvre: to make the united front impossible. On the opening day of the Berlin International Conference, the Berlin Vorwärts wrote: “The united front with the Communists is impossible.” The Vorwärts proposed unity between the Second and the 2½ Internationals, between which there existed practically no differences.

Comrade Radek then outlined how reluctant he was to sit at one table with the Social Democrats who are responsible for so many proletarian victims and for the fact that the prisons are still overcrowded with our comrades. He then treated the significance of our concessions with regard to the S.R.’s, and of our promise that the S.R.’s would not have to pay for their crimes with their lives. The speaker agreed with Comrade Lenin that this was a high price. Comrade Lenin was right when he said that our concession would be considered an encouragement, for new attempts and that Europe would call these murderers angels. We, on our part, however, were conscious of the magnitude of the price. Especially now, after the break-up of the Commission of Nine we realize the utility and the importance of this sacrifice. Thanks to this concession we succeeded, in following the line of the united front and enforcing the convocation of a conference to deal with the problem of the calling of the World Labor Congress. Comrade Radek analyzed the later events and dealt with the Genoa Conference and the attitude of the various parties towards it The bourgeois Cologne Kölnische Zeitung characterized the Genoa Conference aa a struggle between two worlds: The world of the satisfied and possessing and that of the hungry and poor. Even the Leipziger Volkszeitung, the organ of the German independent Social Democrats had to admit that the Genoa Conference was the first conference in which the bourgeoisie and Communism fought against each other. The representatives of the Second and the 2½ Internationals after the Genoa Conference have been carrying on the most shameless and cynical campaign against Soviet Russia, which according to their statements has concluded an alliance in Genoa with the world bourgeoisie. Longuet writes articles every day against Soviet Russia of which one is baser than the other. On the occasion of the Treaty of Rapallo with Germany, Longuet reached the acme of his cynicism and protested against this treaty on behalf of European peace. The “most honorable” Independent leader, Crispien, interprets the treaty, according to which within the term of eight months no attack must be undertaken, as the “4th of August, 1914” of the Third International. In their denunciations, the representatives of the Second and the 2½ Internationals state that we have bound ourselves in Genoa to carry on no propaganda and that we therefore had to oppose the Labor Congress. However, if is obvious to everybody that the attitude of the Second International — which opposed the united front from the beginning — has been the reason for the failure of the Labor Congress. Comrade Radek mentioned the letter of Abramovitch already pointed do by him in Germany, in which the latter writes that the English Labor Party fears a bloc with the Communists on the eve of the elections and that the SPD, in view of the coming struggle against the increase the of taxes, opposes the bloc with the Communists. The attitude of the Second International towards the united front has not changed since the beginning of the negotiations. The attitude of the 2½ International, which formerly supported the idea of the united front, has changed, however. This alteration of its course took place at the Separate Conferences in Brussels participated in by the English Labor Party and the Socialist Party of Belgium and which decided to convoke a Labor Congress in the Hague without the Communists. The Socialist Party of France has altered its attitude. The Longuet Wing is advancing more and more towards the Right. Under the influence of Blum and Renaudel it prepares a bloc with the bourgeois parties as a counterpoise against the Communists. At the eve of the elections it will not expose itself by a united front with the Communists. The attitude of the Longuetists in France determines the attitude of the German Independents. This became evident when Wels and Friedrich Adler voted at the Conference against the admission of the workers’ delegations. We will also in the future fight for the united front of the masses, for the united front and for the struggle, an idea, which the reformists are not able to understand.

Then Comrade Radek dealt with the experiences of the first phase of the struggle for the united front. He summed up the results thus: It is necessary that the Communist International itself forms a closed united front. The Communist Parties of France and Italy which signed our decision on the united front have submitted to this decision only in words and not in deeds. Comrade Radek points to the incorrect tactics of the French and Italian comrades, who hold the opinion that this decision does not correspond to the force ratio in their countries. He stresses the necessity of a complete and strict execution of the adopted decisions by all parties. The view of those who consider the failure of the attempted united front from above a proof of the dispensableness of the united front in general is completely incorrect. In reality this attempt was only a step on the way to the formation of the true united front of the masses. We have proved that the Social Democratic gentlemen have refused to form the united front. The more sacrifices we make to the cause of the united front, the more plentiful will be the fruit which these sacrifices will bear.

Finally Comrade Radek emphasized the correctness of the tactics of the Communists in Saxony, who in spite of the split of the Commission of Nine and of the failure of the World Congress continue to work for the united front by supporting the Labor government.

The Saxon Labor Government has invited our Genoa Delegation to call on it on their return from Genoa through Germany. It even agreed to the appearance of our delegates at labor meetings in Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig. How can we explain this? In Saxony the Communists hold the fate the government in their hands. The Menshevik Government of Saxony desired therefore to show itself before the working masses of their country in our society. This invitation, however, was made at a time when it was already sure that the Commission of Nine would be split. This proves that even in Germany the conditions for the united front are not everywhere the same. Therefore we should not work mechanically.

Every success in the struggle for the united front is a weakening of our adversary. The Communist International can be content with the results of the Berlin Conference, which proved to the masses that we stand for the united front.

At present, however, the problem does not gravitate around the world Labor congress, but around the concrete action of the proletariat in the various countries with regard to its vital problems.

Last updated on 27 December 2019