Source: pamphlet published in Sydney by the Communist Party of Australia in 1934.
Transcribed: by Steve Painter.
Fifteen years ago, on March 4, 1919, in Red Moscow, the First Congress, under Lenin’s leadership, established the Communist International – the new International Workingmen’s Association. The Fifteenth Anniversary of the Communist International is the Fifteenth Anniversary of the United World Communist Party. The Communist International, the most outstanding achievement of the working class of the world, which was gained on the basis of the experience of the entire preceding world labor movement, regards itself as the historical successor of the Communist League and the First International, and is guided in its struggle by the principles of revolutionary Marxism, which found its further development in Leninism.
“The First International laid the ideological foundations of the international proletarian struggle for socialism. The Second International, in the last period of its existence, prepared the ground for the expansion of the labor movement among the masses. The Third, Communist, International, in continuing the work of the First International, and in accepting the fruits of the work of the Second International, has resolutely lopped off the latter’s opportunism, social chauvinism and bourgeois distortions of socialism, and set out to realise the dictatorship of the proletariat.” (See Introduction of the Programme of the Communist International, par. 3.)
The counter-revolutionary character of opportunism which triumphed in the Second International pre-War days, but which, under the conditions of the “peaceful epoch,” was not clear to everybody, has been plainly evident since the imperialist war of 1914, when the leaders of the Second lnternational openly went over to the side of the bourgeoisie. The bankruptcy of the Second International was also the bankruptcy of opportunism. The shameful betrayal perpetrated by the leaders of the Second International brought the greatest disorganisation and cleavage into the ranks of the world labor movement. The only correct reply to all the burning questions placed on the order of the day before the masses of workers by the war, as well as the misery caused by it and the collapse of the Second International, was given by the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin.
The Bolsheviks comprised the only consistent Marxian tendency in the socialist movement. They not only exposed all the opportunist trends in the socialist movement of Russia, but also in the international labor movement. They exposed the Right and Centrist wing of the Second International as well as the semi-Menshevist mistakes committed by the German “Lefts” (Rosa Luxemburg). Already, long before the war, the Bolsheviks severed organisational connection with the Mensheviks.
The programme adopted by the Bolsheviks in 1900 was the only programme among the programmes of all the socialist parties of the world, which proclaimed the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat as the basic task; and they subordinated all their tactical and organisational principles to this great historical task.
With this historical task as their object, the Bolsheviks, in preparing for the revolution of 1905, for the bourgeois democratic revolution, pursued the course of that revolution growing into a socialist revolution, fought for the hegemony of the proletariat in the revolutionary movement, and for winning over the peasantry and the oppressed nationalities as the allies of the proletariat. Holding that “the proletariat has no other weapon in the struggle for power except its organisation” (Lenin), they created a party as “the highest form of class organisation of the proletariat” (Stalin), as a party of a “new type,” as a party of revolution, in contradistinction to the old type of parties of the Second International, the parties of reforms, the parties which orientated themselves on collaboration between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
Starting from small underground circles, through leading broad masses in the revolution of 1905, by winning over the majority of the working class in an open struggle for power in the revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks achieved the victorious October Revolution and the creation of the Communist International, and have now become the great Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which stands at the head of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and is leading the construction of a classless socialist society in the USSR, the vanguard of the Communist International and the most powerful factor in world history.
The credit for preparing and creating the Communist International is due to Lenin. Lenin’s characterisation of the epoch of imperialism as an epoch of monopoly and moribund capitalism, its last and highest phase, Lenin’s outline of the perspective of the imminence of the proletarian revolution and of the main task of the epoch as the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, the sharp formulation of the question about the complete severance of all ties with the opportunists of the Second International and the creation of a new International constitute in the main the platform advanced by the Bolsheviks in the Manifesto of the Zimmerwald “Lefts” and subsequently adopted by the First Congress of the Communist International.
The great October Revolution, which marked the beginning of the world proletarian revolution, was the decisive factor in the birth of the Communist International.
The October Revolution utilised and extended the great experience of the Paris Commune, the revolution of 1905, and the revolution of February, 1917, began to put, into effect Marx’s slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and created a new type of state, the Soviet type of state.
The decree to transfer the land to the peasants and the manifesto of the Second Congress of the Soviets to all nations and governments proposing the immediate cessation of war created a colossal impression on all fronts and in the :rear of the imperialist war, and gave an impetus to the revolutionary activity of the broad toiling masses all over the world.
The question as to the attitude to be taken towards the October Revolution, towards the Soviets, became in 1917 the main question of the international labor movement, which had entered the period of stormy revolutionary upsurge.
The Second International, as represented by its most prominent leaders (Kautsky, Otto Bauer, Vandervelde, MacDonald), became the most vicious enemy of the October Revolution from the very outset. Advancing the slogan of “pure” (ie, never realisable) democracy, or “democracy in general;” spreading deception concerning the “above-class character” of such democracy, as opposed to the Leninist slogan of the proletarian dictatorship, the Second International completely departed from the Marxian doctrine of the class character of the state. Lenin’s struggle against Kautsky and against the whole Second International for the purity of the Marxist doctrine of the state and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was the ideological preparation for the creation of the Communist International.
Despite the counter-revolutionary position of the leaders of the Second International, the broad toiling masses, under the influence and as the allies of the October revolution, everywhere fought against the war, and the imperialists responsible for the war, in the form of mighty strikes, demonstrations, hunger riots, mutinies in the armies and navies, guerilla warfare, revolts, organisation of Soviets, and the capture of power in various places. The banner of rebellion was everywhere the banner of the October revolution and of the Soviet government.
Soviets arose spontaneously in Poland, Germany, Hungary, Finland, Norway, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, Canada, Latvia and Slovakia.
These great class battles in the lands of imperialism, and the rising wave of the national liberation movement in the colonies and semi-colonies, were an expression of the world character of the crisis of the capitalist system and of the international significance of the October revolution, as the first stage of the world proletarian revolution.
In the fire of these great battles, Communist Parties were born in a number of countries (Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Finland, Holland, Latvia, Lithuania, Esthonia, Bulgaria).
On January 24, 1919, eight Communist Parties and organisations, headed by the Communist Party of Russia, addressed to all revolutionary proletarian organisations standing “on the basis of the proletarian dictatorship in the form of a Soviet power” a platform for a new International, and urged them to take part in an international congress, which was “to adopt the title of the First Congress of the Communist International.”
The International Conference of Communists which met in Moscow on March 2, 1919, declared itself on March 4 to be the First Congress of the Communist International.
The victory of the Soviet power in Russia and the struggle for power waged by the proletariat in several countries of Europe enabled Lenin to say a few days after the First Congress that “the foundation of the Communist International is a stable affair.”
The historical service of the First Congress lies in that it laid the basis for a single world party of the revolutionary proletariat, and that it formulated its basic task as the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat throughout the world in the form of Soviets.
“The world historical significance of the Third, Communist, International lies in that it began to put into effect Marx’s greatest slogan, a slogan which sums up the century-old development of socialism and the labor movement, a slogan expressed in the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. “ (Lenin, volume 24, page 248, Russian edition)
In Lenin’s thesis “on bourgeois democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat,” which was adopted by the First Congress, in several basic documents of the Second Congress, and, later, in the programme adopted at the Sixth Congress in 1928, the Communist International proclaims its chief historic mission to be the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of the Soviet power.
The Communist International openly declares that the dictatorship of the proletariat can be accomplished only by means of violence. “The violence of the bourgeoisie can be suppressed only by the stern violence of the proletariat.” (See Programme of the CI, section 4, para. 1)
Having raised the class struggle to a higher level, the October revolution opened a new page in world history. The Communist International is leading class struggles in the epoch of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, in an epoch of struggle between two worlds, when the proletariat already holds power and is building socialism in one-sixth of the globe, and when, in its struggle for power in the remaining part of the world, it relies on the colossal power of the CPSU, the leader of the first proletarian state. The Communist International is relentlessly fighting against the Second International, as being chiefly responsible for the cleavage in the labor movement, as being the main enemy of the proletarian revolution within the ranks of the working class.
Organising and consolidating the revolutionary workers of all countries in their struggle for Soviet power, the Communist International is the only force capable of healing the breach in the working class and establishing real unity in its ranks.
Leading the struggle of the international proletariat against bourgeois domination – for the complete emancipation of the peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies subjugated by imperialism, for a Soviet government in each country, for the complete victory of socialism in the USSR, the Communist International is the first really world-embracing International.
The fifteen years of the Communist International have been fifteen years of uneven but constant development of the world proletarian revolution.
Side by side with the great lessons of the October revolution, the most significant lesson the international proletariat learned during the past fifteen years was the outcome of the November revolution in Germany of 1918.
Having been from the very outset a proletarian revolution both in regard to its character and its driving forces, the November Revolution was a fact of tremendous world significance. In Soviet Russia, the German proletariat had a mighty ally with whom a victorious proletarian revolution in Germany would have been not only in a position to repel counter-revolutionary intervention on the part of the Entente and fully to achieve the social and national emancipation of the toiling masses of Germany, but also in a position to guarantee the victory of the Soviets in the countries of Central Europe.
“History ...pursued such a peculiar course that it gave birth in 1918 to two separate halves of socialism.... Germany and Russia in 1918 embodied most clearly the material realisation of the economic, industrial and social conditions of socialism on the one hand, and the political conditions of socialism on the other.” (Lenin, volume 22, page 517, Russian edition)
The Bolsheviks, with Lenin at their head, under the slogan “All Power to the Soviets,” won the majority of the working class, the vast reserves of its allies, as represented by the peasantry and the nationalities oppressed by tsarism, created a Red Guard, organised armed insurrection, and achieved the revolutionary seizure of power. In October 1917, the working class of Russia, under the leadership of the Bolsheviks, smashed the machinery of the bourgeois state, expropriated the expropriators, and began to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of the Soviets and to strengthen fraternal contacts with the proletariat of all countries.
In view of the extreme weakness of the Communist Party, which developed out of the Spartacus Bund at the beginning of the revolution, the outcome of the November revolution in Germany depended upon German social democracy.
Having been placed at the helm of state by the revolt of the workers, the German social democratic party betrayed the proletarian revolution. Betraying the revolutionary workers to the maddened officers, disarming the revolutionary soldiers, rallying the counter-revolutionary detachments in Berlin, outlawing the Red Guard and concluding secret and open agreements with the employers and with the General Staff, the social democrats Ebert and Scheidemann left it to the “Independents,” to Kautsky and Haase, to appease the workers by glorifying the crimes the social democrats committed on the pretext of defending democracy. Flying the flag of the “democratic road to socialism,” German social democracy split and disarmed the working class, destroyed the Soviets of Workers and Soldiers’ Deputies, handed all power over to the hands of the bourgeois “National Assembly,” incited the German workers against the October revolution, and fought for the fulfillment of the terms of the Versailles Treaty. By the whole of its policy it prepared a safe road for fascism. The path of the German social democracy was followed by all parties of the Second International.
The path of October, the path of the dictatorship of the proletariat, brought the Soviet Union to socialism. The path of bourgeois democracy brought Germany to fascism.
With the active support of the international proletariat the working class of the Soviet Union has, under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, repelled the attacks of the united forces of imperialism and of the counter-revolution at home, and after restoring the economy of the country, destroyed by the war, it extensively developed its victorious socialist offensive.
Lenin’s plan of building socialism in the Soviet Union provided the basis of the First Five-Year Plan, the Five-Year Plan of laying down the economic foundations of socialism. Despite all the prophecies of bourgeois economists and of the leaders of the Second International, who predicted the collapse of the Five-Year Plan, despite the desperate resistance of the world bourgeoisie, the class enemy at home, and also his agents within the ranks of the working class and of the Party, such as the Trotskyites and Right opportunists, the proletariat of the USSR, under Stalin’s leadership, completed the First Five-Year Plan in four years and three months. On the basis of its achievements, a programme of great work has been mapped out and is being successfully fulfilled – the Second Five-Year Plan – a Five-Year Plan for the construction of classless socialist society.
As a result of these victories the proletariat of the USSR freed itself forever from the scourge of unemployment, abolished pauperisation in the villages, raised the general well-being of the broad masses of the toilers, achieved great victory on the front of cultural struggle, and created the prerequisites for the continued further raising of the material and cultural level of the masses. The liquidation of the last capitalist class – the kulaks – and the victory of the collective farm system, solved the most difficult task of the proletarian revolution – the socialist reconstruction of the village. Having demonstrated to the world the great deeds the proletariat in power is capable of, having demonstrated all the advantages of socialism over capitalism, the Soviet government has become a beacon for the toilers and the oppressed of all countries.
Increasing the split in the working class, disrupting the united front of the workers in the struggle against the offensive of capitalism and fascism, supporting the reactionary dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in the form of its Weimar Republic, sanctioning the gradual liquidation of all the gains of the working class, making one concession after another to reactionary forces, “social-democracy” has plunged Germany into Hitler’s fascist dictatorship. Economic disaster, millions of unemployed, the robbery of the workers, the new form of capitalist slavery as expressed in “labor service,” bloody terror, medievalism, and the conversion of advanced and cultured Germany into the worst centre of world reaction and war: such are the achievements of the German social democracy and the Second International.
During the years which have elapsed since the November revolution, bourgeois democracy has clearly revealed itself not only in Germany, but also in other capitalist countries, as the disguised form of bourgeois dictatorship. Under the conditions of the general crisis of the capitalist system, the ruling classes in the lands of “democracy” (United States, France, Great Britain), as well as in the lands of fascism (Italy, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Japan), are more than ever before revealing their true nature as exploiters and slaveowners.
“The ruling classes in the capitalist countries are carefully destroying or nullifying the last vestiges of parliamentarism and bourgeois democracy which might be used by the working class in its struggle against the oppressors; they are driving the Communist Parties underground and resorting to open terrorist methods in order to maintain their dictatorship.” (Stalin, Report to the Seventeenth Party Congress on the Work of the Central Committee of the CPSU, section 1, para. 2)
The whole post-war development of the world has shown that the Soviet government alone represents “proletarian democracy, democracy of the toiling masses, democracy directed against the exploiters.” (Programme of the CI)
The October revolution was the starting point of the revolutionary crisis of the countries of Western Europe. The outcome of the November revolution, on the other hand, made the success of a number of big revolutionary battles fought during the first period not only in Germany (the January days of 1919, the March uprising in 1921) but also in other countries of Central Europe, more difficult. The mighty wave of the proletarian revolution led to the formation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic on March 21, 1919. Under the leadership of Communists, the Hungarian Soviets disarmed the gendarmerie and. the police, organised a Red Army, nationalised the banks and the big industrial enterprises and buildings, and carried through a number of measures to bring about a radical improvement in the living conditions of the working class. The heroic struggle of the Hungarian Soviet Republic against the armed forces of the Entente to a considerable extent deflected the interventionist forces from Soviet Russia. After existing about four and a half months, the Hungarian Soviet Republic was betrayed by Hungarian social democracy and drowned in blood by the international counter-revolution. Not “democracy” but fascism took the place of the Soviet Power.
The mistakes of the Hungarian Communists, expressed in the liquidation of the independence of the Communist Party and its merging with the social democrats, and in its failure to distribute the land, should serve as a serious warning to all other Communist Parties. “No Communist should forget the lessons of the Hungarian Soviet Republic.” (See stenographic Report of the Second World Congress, 1921, Russian edition, p. 561.)
The Bavarian Soviet Republic, which arose on April 13, 1919, under Communist leadership disarmed the bourgeoisie, armed the proletariat, proclaimed the nationalisation of industry and the banks. But it, too, was crushed by the White Guards, with the active co-operation of German social democracy, after having existed eighteen days.
The fights in Bavaria, as in Hungary, revealed with· exceptional clarity the complete desertion of the social democratic parties to the camp of the bourgeoisie, and the decisive role of Communist leadership in the victory of the proletariat.
The outstanding role played by the Second World Congress of the Communist International (July 19–August 7, 1920), which was a powerful demonstration of the splendid successes of the October revolution and of world Bolshevism, was that in a struggle on two fronts it solved the most important problems of Communist strategy, tactics, and organisation.
In that period, Lenin regarded Centrism as the main, “colossal immediate danger” confronting the young Communist movement. Pitilessly exposing the Centrists (Dittmann, Crispien, Frossard, and others), who, under the pressure of the masses, came to the Second Congress to negotiate with the Comintern, Lenin insisted upon the absolute non-admission of Centrists into the ranks of the Communist International. The thesis of the Second Congress “On the main tasks of the Second Congress of the Communist International” and the “Twenty-one Conditions of Affiliation to the Communist International” were directed against this main danger, Centrism.
The Second Congress also combated the “infantile sickness” of “Left-Communism,” as represented by semi-anarchist elements, whose position expressed itself in the demand to boycott bourgeois parliaments and other organs of bourgeois democracy, and to withdraw from the reformist trade unions.
The whole of the subsequent struggle of the sections of the Communist International to win over the masses has shown the colossal historical importance of Lenin’s fight against the Centrist (Right) and sectarian (“Left”) deviations. The struggle of the Communist International for the correct line in trade union work acquires exceptional importance. Although the Comintern has succeeded in overcoming the social democratic and anarcho-syndicalist survivals on the trade union question (regarding the trade unions as non-political organisations, conducting only economic struggles, and the demand for the “independence” of the trade unions of the proletarian party) and in getting all the sections to recognise the necessity of work in the reformist trade unions, the greatest impediment in the struggle of the Communist Parties to win over the majority of the working class is to this day their underestimation of the importance of this work.
In its struggle against social-democratic “parliamentary cretinism” on the one hand and against the “provincial anti-parliamentarism” of the “Lefts” (Bordiga, Wynkoop, and others) on the other, the Comintern has on the basis of the decisions of the Second Congress succeeded in the matter of using the bourgeois parliament for revolutionary ends (Clara Zetkin’s position in the fascised German Reichstag was a splendid example).
The decisions of the Second Congress on the National Colonial question illuminate the path of the oppressed peoples in their revolutionary struggle for their national and social liberation and point out the leading role of the proletariat in this struggle.
These decisions, pointing out the path of the unity of the national liberation struggle of hundreds of peoples oppressed by imperialism with the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of the “foremost” capitalist countries, attract to the side of the proletarian revolution many millions of its reserves in the capacity of allies of the proletariat.
In the struggles with Menshevism and Austro-Marxism with the nationalism of the Bund, the nihilism of Rosa Luxemburg and other “Lefts” on the national question, Lenin and Stalin raised the Marxist national policy to a high level and worked out the theory, strategy and tactics of the revolutionary proletariat on the national-colonial question applied to the epoch of imperialism.
The October revolution, liberating hundreds of peoples in the land of the Soviets, gave rise to a vast wave of national-revolutionary movements, revolts and wars for national liberation, involving the Arabian East, China, India, Indo-China, Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, Korea.
The imperialist war of 1914–1918, which resulted in the breaking up and division of a number of nations between various countries (millions of Ukrainian people between Poland, Czechoslovakia and Rumania, a considerable number of Hungarians between Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Rumania, Macedonians between Yugoslavia, Greece and Bulgaria, etc.) brought about a stormy upsurge in the national-revolutionary movement in Europe. The Versailles “Peace” led to an exceptional accentuation of the national problem in Germany.
Decisively coming out against the “underestimation of the intrinsic strength of the national movement, not understanding the deep national and profound revolutionary nature of the national movement” (Stalin), the Communist International at the same time conducts a struggle against the remnants of chauvinism among the Communists of the oppressing nation, and also against deviations in the direction of national reformism, by putting forward the slogan in the struggle for national liberation about the right of nations to self-determination up to separation and the complete independence of the colonies, the Communist International proclaimed as the basis of its national policy the joint revolutionary class struggle of the toilers of the oppressed and oppressor nations. The Leninist national policy of the Communist International is an irreplaceable weapon in the struggle against fascism.
The decisions of the Second Congress on the agrarian problem have equipped the proletariat as the leader of the broad masses of the peasantry.
“Indifference and positive dislike displayed by the parties of the Second International towards the peasant question is not only to be explained by the special circumstances attending the developments in the west. It is to be explained primarily by the fact that these parties do not believe in the dictatorship of the proletariat, that they fear the revolution and do not intend to lead the proletariat to power.” (Stalin: Leninism, The Peasant Question)
The decisions of the Second Congress generalise the experience of the agrarian policy of the Bolsheviks, the policy of the alliance of the working class with the peasantry, which was based on the calculation of the class struggle in the rural districts and tested in the three revolutions in Russia, and of the lessons of the mistakes of the Hungarian, Polish and Latvian Communist Parties in the revolutionary battles of 1918–1920. These decisions were entirely embodied in the Programme of the Communist International and were subsequently enriched by the experience of the collectivisation of agriculture in the USSR, by the experience of a relentless struggle against the kulaks and drawing the masses of toiling peasants into the work of socialist construction.
During the past fifteen years the Communist International with increasing success overcame Trotskyist Right and “Left” opportunist deviations and mistakes on the peasant problem (indifference to the peasant question, the Trotskyist underestimation of the revolutionary possibilities in the villages, the glossing over of class differentiations in the rural districts, direct and indirect support of kulak theories and kulak slogans).
The Second Congress of the Comintern became a mighty factor in the further development of Communism.
The Congress of the “Independent Social-Democratic Labor Party” of Germany (held in Halle in October, 1920) and the Congress of the French Socialist Party held in Tours in December, 1920, which ended in the affiliation of the majorities of these Congresses to the Comintern, was a terrible defeat for the Second International.
In the autumn of 1920 a broad mass movement began in Italy, which rose to a high level of revolutionary class struggle; it assumed the form of the seizure of factories by the workers and the big landed estates by the peasants, and the organisation of a Red Guard. That movement, which embraced over half a million workers and peasants, was betrayed by the leaders of the Socialist Party of Italy and of the reformist trade unions.
In Italy, too, the victory of the bourgeoisie, which was made certain by the social democrats, ended not in a strengthened “democracy,” but in the triumph of fascism. The absence of an independent Communist Party was one of the main causes of the defeat of the proletariat. An independent Communist Party of Italy was formed only in January, 1921, at the Leghorn Congress, after a split in the Socialist Party.
The March uprising of 1921 in Germany, which broke out when the capitalist offensive had already commenced, was drowned in the blood of the German proletariat by the hands of German social democracy. The Communist International, headed by Lenin, resolutely repelled the renegade Levy and his friends, who tried to slander the heroic March uprising, and at the same time they called attention to the “Left” mistakes of those Communists who, after the failure of the rebellion, tried to cover up their own errors by a peculiar “theory of the offensive.” Recognising the March rebellion as a step forward, the Third Congress emphasised the task of fighting for the masses on the basis of the lessons of that rebellion.
At the Third Congress (which took place on June 22–July 12, 1921), the Comintern declared that “the first period of the post-war revolutionary movement is largely ended.” (See stenographic Report of the Third Congress of the CI, Theses and Resolutions, 1921, page 3.)
The commencing capitalist offensive threatened to weaken ideologically and organisationally the young and frail Communist Parties, which had not yet managed to consolidate their ties with the broad masses.
“In the vast majority of countries our Parties are far from being what real Communist Parties, real vanguards of a real and the only revolutionary class should be, with all their members participating in the struggle, in the movement, in the daily life of the masses.” (Lenin, volume 26, page 493, Russian edition)
In the new conditions, the Third Congress, warning the Communist Parties against sectarianism and, on the other hand combating pessimist and defeatist moods, gave the World. Communist movement the Bolshevist experience of organised retreat with a view to preparing for the new offensive. The most important historical significance of the main slogan of the Third Congress, the slogan “To the masses,” was that this slogan was a programme of struggle of all the sections of the Comintern for an entire historical period, a programme of preparation for the second round of revolutions and wars.
The consolidation of the Soviet regime, the further capitalist offensive against the working class, the victory of fascism in Italy, such was the world situation at the time of the Fourth Congress of the Comintern (November 5 to December 5, 1922), the last Congress attended by Lenin. Under the symbol of struggle for the masses, for the majority of the working class, this Congress worked out further the tactics of the united front (which had been previously adopted in principle in the December thesis of 1921 and in the decisions of the First and Second Plenums of the ECCI in 1922). The Fourth Congress fought against the underestimation of these tactics on the part of most Communist Parties and against the Right and “Left” distortions of these tactics. Distortions sometimes expressed themselves in that the united front tactics were given an opportunist interpretation, as the task of bringing closer together and uniting the Communist Parties with the social democrats (Germany, Czechoslovakia, France), and sometimes they were distorted by “Left” sectarian elements who were incapable of getting in touch with the best sections of the social democratic workers (Italy).
The united front tactics, the chief object of which in the opinion of the Comintern is the establishment of the unity of all workers in their struggle against capitalism, the unity of all their militant actions, are the tactics of irreconcilable struggle against the main obstacle in that struggle, viz, social democracy. In adopting these tactics, the Communists reserve to themselves the unlimited right to expose the social democrats even at the time of joint action; and they carry out these tactics primarily in the form of a united front from below.
The struggles of 1923 served as a particularly valuable experience for all sections of the CI.
The period of the occupation of the Ruhr by the French imperialists, which led to catastrophic development of the economic crisis in Germany, acute class struggles (powerful strikes and mass political demonstrations, especially in Upper Silesia and in the Ruhr), disorganisation in the government and confusion in the camp of the bourgeois parties, clearly indicated that “the question of the Communists seizing power was coming on the order of the day” (Stalin). As a result of the agreement between the Communists and “Left” social democrats, a “Workers’ government” was established in Saxony and Thuringia, not by an uprising, but by means of parliamentary combinations. A series of crude Right opportunist mistakes were committed by the Brandlerites (consisting of an opportunist distortion of united front tactics; a bloc with the “Left” social democrats in Saxony and Thuringia, giving the initiative to the latter and actually capitulating to them), facilitated the social democratic policy of saving capitalism. The treachery of the social democrats in Saxony determined the fate of the movement in favor of the bourgeoisie. The heroic uprising in Hamburg was not supported by the Brandlerites. The underestimation of the revolutionary perspective and the capitulatory practice of the BrandIerites found ex pression in the theories of an obvious Centrist character (“establishment of a workers’ government through parliament,” “a bloc of all workers’ parties,” interpretation of the united front as tactics of “peaceful transition to the dictatorship,” and as a “policy of coalition with the social democrats,” Thalheimer’s theory of the possibility of establishing a government of a transition type between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the dictatorship of the proletariat).
In Bulgaria, at the time of the overthrow of the Stamboliski peasant government and Tsankov’s fascist coup d’etat in 1923, a powerful wave of mass actions of the workers and peasants swept the country, which was not headed by the Bulgarian CP. The latter failed to understand its tasks owing to the adherence to an erroneous Right opportunist “neutrality” theory. The heroic uprising of the workers and peasants in September of that year, prepared and headed by the Communists, did not affect the decisive proletarian centres, and was drowned in blood.
The struggles of 1923 marked the final link in the chain of great class battles of the first period and the starting point of the second period of the general crisis of capitalism. The struggle of the proletariat in that period was a direct struggle for power. Due to the treachery of the Second International and to the weakness of the Communist Parties, the struggle ended in victory for the bourgeoisie, notwithstanding the clearly expressed revolutionary situation.
“The objective conditions for a victorious revolution were at hand. What was lacking was only the subjective factor. There was no determined, conscious revolutionary workers’ Party prepared for the fight. In other words, there was no genuine Communist Party.” (Decision of the Fourth Congress of the CI)
These struggles revealed that Communism had won over only the vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat and that the winning of the broad masses had remained the task of future stubborn fights. But these struggles enriched the working class with invaluable experience and became the starting point in the struggle of the Comintern for making all sections real Bolshevik Parties as a necessary condition for victory. All sections of the CI learned the Bolshevik science of fighting and winning in irreconcilable struggles against social democratic survivals on the one hand and against anarcho-syndicalism on the other, in a stubborn fight against the underestimation of the role of the Communist Parties as the leader of the masses (an underestimation linked up with the survivals of Luxemburgism and its incorrect theories on the question of “spontaneity and consciousness”).
As early as 1924 Stalin wrote:
“The process of the final formation of real Bolshevik Parties in the West, representing the bulwark in the impending revolution in Europe, has begun.” (Stalin, On the International Situation, see Bolshevik, 1924, No. 11, page 16)
The Fifth Congress of the CI (June 17 to July 2, 1924) was the first Congress after Lenin’s death. That great loss strengthened the sense of responsibility of all the sections of the Comintem. It rallied them more closely around the CPSU and served as an impetus towards the self-equipment of the Communist Parties with the mighty weapon of Leninism; it induced them to raise the problems of Bolshevisation on a wide scale and to fight for monolithic unity of the Party ranks.
The Fifth Congress’ of the Comintern endorsed the decision of the ECCI, which condemned the capitulatory tactics of the Brandlerites and the Trotskyists who supported them. Comrade Stalin’s splendid defence of the Leninist teachings against the attempts to distort them by the Trotskyists and the Right opportunists, and his further development of Leninism has served all the sections of the CI as a powerful instrument in mastering the historical experience of the CPSU.
The defeat of the revolution in a number of countries of Western Europe and the agreement reached among the imperialists concerning the distribution of their military conquests and colonial plunder (the Washington Treaty of 1922, the Dawes Plan of 1924, Locarno in 1925) became a starting point in the temporary stabilisation of capitalism.
In every capitalist country capitalism succeeded, by lowering the standard of the working class, by capitalist rationalisation (which is carried out not only with the forces of the bourgeoisie and the whole apparatus of the bourgeoisie, but also with the forces of the international social democracy) in consolidating its position.
The imperialists, however, did not succeed in smashing the first workers’ state, the land of Soviets, and this fact became of decisive importance for the entire subsequent development of the general crisis of capitalism and the world proletarian revolution. The bourgeoisie also failed to come to an agreement concerning a new military intervention in the USSR, and this created “a certain temporary equilibrium between two stabilisations” (Stalin).
Stabilisation of the Soviet power meant the further rapid growth of socialism. In the course of its development capitalist stabilisation revealed its temporary and relative character. Even in the years when the class struggle was at its “quietest” the working class retaliated to the capitalist offensive by strikes against lowering the standards of living of the workers and in defence of the social gains of the early post-war period. The struggle frequently assumed a political character.
The class struggles in Great Britain, Austria, China and several colonial countries were the plainest sign of, and constituted a powerful factor in, the shattering of capitalist stabilisation.
At the time of the general strike (May 3–12, 1926), which affected about 5,000,000 workers, Great Britain was turned into an arena of fierce combats between labor and capital. “The general strike has brought the British proletariat face to face with the problem of power.” (Theses of the ECCI on the lessons of the general strike in Great Britain)
The capitulation of the general council and the leaders of the Labor Party to the bourgeoisie and their betrayal of the seven months’ heroic miners’ strike inscribed another shameful page in the history of the Second International.
The Communist Party and the Minority Movement were not strong enough to frustrate the treachery of the general council.
The general strike and mass demonstrations which broke out spontaneously in Vienna on July 15, 1927, ended in an uprising. Although the Austrian social democrats suppressed that uprising jointly with the bourgeois troops, its lessons were not lost on the Austrian proletariat, as was evident in the subsequent heroic armed struggle for power waged by the Austrian proletariat in February 1934.
The revolution in China, and a series of revolts in the colonies, became a mighty factor in shattering the temporary stabilisation of capitalism. The general strike in Shanghai of May 30, 1925, the heroic struggle of the Hongkong and Canton proletariat in 1925 and 1926, the northern campaign of the Canton Army and its occupation of South and Central China, down to the Yangtsi Valley (in the winter of 1926–27), were keenly watched by the whole world. The Canton uprising (December 1927) marked the turning point from the Kuomintang to the Soviet stages. Even in the Kuomintang stage of the Chinese revolution, the Communist Party of China headed the strikes and conflicts of the workers and mass actions of the peasants of 1925–27, and fought for hegemony in the national struggle for liberation.
The years of temporary stabilisation became a period of very persistent struggle on the part of the Communist International for the Bolshevisation of its sections, for establishing parties of a new type.
The main task of the Communist Parties in those years was to establish firmer contact with the masses, “in order to link up the Communist Parties of the West with the trade unions” (Stalin).
Under the new conditions the Parties had to learn to carry on painstaking day-to-day work in a revolutionary manner among the masses and especially in the trade unions, in the factories, among the unemployed, among agricultural laborers; they had to learn the art of co-ordinating the partial with the fundamental slogans of the movement. These tasks demanded that the Party ranks be cleansed of opportunists and particularly of social democratic agents and renegades who endeavored to drag the movement back, and who had begun their retreat from Communism – to which they had come at the time of “storm and stress” – back to the fold of the Second International.
Turning its fire on the right, the Communist Party of Germany liquidated the capitulatory Brandler group. The Communist Party of Poland removed from the leadership and liquidated the Koszewa-Warsky group, which was akin to the Brandlerites, and expelled from its ranks the treacherous nationalist Wasilkov-Turjansky group. The Communist Party of France liquidated several right-wing groups (Souvarine and others). The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia expelled from its ranks the treacherous Bubnik group and removed the conciliators from the leadership. The Communist Party of China purged itself of the Right opportunist and liquidationist Chen Du-Su faction. Bolshevisation demanded struggle also against “Left” deviators, which are the “main obstacle in the process of winning over the masses” (Sixth Plenum, ECCI). The Communist Party of Italy waged a determined struggle against the anarcho-syndicalist Bordiga group. The Communist Party of Germany liquidated and later expelled from its ranks the ultra-“Left” and unprincipled Ruth Fischer-Maslov group.
All these Right and “Left” opportunists and liquidators were supported by the Trotskyists and later by the Trotsky-Zinoviev Opposition in the CPSU, who gave ideological and organisational leadership to the general anti-Party front in the struggle against the “Dictatorship of Moscow,” against the Cominrern.
Trotskyism, reflecting the counter-revolutionary vacillations of the petty bourgeoisie, actually proceeded to revise Leninism on the question of the socialist character of the October revolution by denying Lenin’s theory on the building of socialism in a single country. Under the “Left” banner of struggle against “national narrow-mindedness” and against the “Party regime,” Trotskyism sought to disrupt the ranks of the CPSU and the Communist International. The Right group, headed by Bucharin, Rykov and Tomsky, reflecting the resistance of the kulaks to the policy of collectivisation and the high rate of industrialisation, created a theory of the kulak growing into socialism, and expounded the social democratic theory of “organised capitalism,” underestimated the elements which were shattering capitalist stabilisation, underestimated the revolutionary perspective, and objectively inspired all the supporters of capitalist restoration by their ideology and fractional work.
Contrary to the social democratic theories concerning the beginning of a new “democratic” era in the development of capitalism, an era of “organised capitalism,” the Sixth Congress of the Comintern (July 18 September 1, 1928), on the basis of an analysis of the international situation, characterised the approaching third period as a period of the sharp intensification of all the internal and external contradictions of capitalism which “will inevitably lead, through the further development of the contradictions of capitalist stabilisation, to a severe intensification of the general crisis of capitalism.”
The whole work of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern proceeded under the symbol of preparation of the Comintern for the impending class battles. The Sixth Congress armed the Communist movement with a programme, with a document of world historical significance, the principles of which are “a law for millions of organised workers in every part of the world and of all races and nations of the earth.” (From the Manifesto of the Sixth Congress) On the basis of experience of the Chinese revolution and the events in India, the Sixth Congress developed Lenin’s theses for the Second Congress on the national and colonial problems. The Congress called upon the international proletariat to wage an intense struggle against imperialist wars, for the defence of the USSR.
Emphatically condemning Trotskyism and pointing out that, “On the basis of the partial stabilisation of capitalism, and owing to the direct influence of social democracy the main deviation in the Communist Parties at the present time is to the Right of the correct political line, the Sixth Congress, directing its main blow at the Right, fought every shade of conciliation with deviations, which in essence were a concealed form of opportunism, and armed the Communist Parties with the Bolshevik experience of the struggle on two fronts.
The whole world development after the Sixth Congress fully confirmed the correctness of the analysis given by the Comintem of the Third. Period of the general crisis of capitalism, which had set in.
The economic crisis which began in the middle of 1929 in the United States became the most severe and prolonged world crisis in the history of capitalism.
This “crisis affects not only industry but also the whole of agriculture. It is raging not only in the sphere of commerce and trade, but has spread also to the sphere of credit and money circulation and is destroying all the existing credit and currency relations between the various countries.” (Stalin’s Report to the Seventeenth Party Congress of the CPSU) This crisis led to a drastic lowering of the standard of living of working people, to enormous unemployment and unprecedented ruin of the peasantry.
On the one hand the completion of the Five-Year Plan of the USSR, one of the results of which was the liquidation of unemployment and a general improvement in the welfare of the masses, and on the other hand the colossal misery of the masses in the capitalist countries, extremely sharpened the class struggle within each country and hastened the growth of the revolutionary movement throughout the world.
The revolutionary fights of this period have been distinguished by their desperate and stubborn character, and frequently assumed the form of civil war and revolution, and thus hastened the end of capitalist stabilisation.
The years of 1930-33 were years of the rapid weakening of all the positions of capitalism and of the crisis of the Second International on the one hand, and of the reinforcement of the positions of socialism in the USSR, of the world revolutionary movement and of the Communist International on the other hand.
The tremendous upsurge of the strike movement in Poland (the Lodz textile workers’ strike, the stubborn miners’ struggle in Dombrova and Cracow, which lasted for a month); the rapid growth of the strike movement in the USA, which exceeded every movement of its kind in the last ten to twenty years; the strikes in India which, in the years 1928-30, held first place in the world for their immensity; the strikes in China, in which over a million people took part in 1930 alone; the rising strike wave in England, France, Belgium and Czechoslovakia – refute the theories of the capitulators about the impossibility of successful economic struggles at a time of crisis. The economic struggles of the proletariat in these years are characterised, in addition to the great extent of the movements, by the variety and intensity of the forms of struggle, by their fiercer and more tenacious character, and in a number of countries have developed into mass struggles, collisions with the police and troops and even open civil war. The general political protest strike on March 16, 1932, in Poland, in which 300,000 workers participated and which was led by the Communist Party in Poland; the Belgian miners’ strike in Borinage, which led to collisions with the military; the bloody collisions in Geneva in November 1932; the strike of the Rumanian railway workers and oil workers, which assumed the form of an armed battle with the police; the strikes of the French proletariat in Paris, Roubaix and Strassbourg, which were accompanied by barricade fighting; the great general strike in France in February, 1934; and finally, in Austria, the development of the general strike into the armed revolt of the proletariat in February, 1934 – the experiences of these struggles clearly confirm the correctness of the line of the Comintern directed towards the further launching of daily economic and political struggles with a view to the general political strike and preparation for armed insurrection in a number of countries.
The revolution in Spain (April 14, 1931), which overthrew the fascist regime and involved millions of workers and peasants in a struggle against the power of the bourgeoisie and the landlords; the heroic struggle of the workers, peasants and soldiers who broke through the military terror in Japan; the unemployed hunger marches in Great Britain and the United States; the turbulent growth of the revolutionary movement of the peasants in practically all countries of the world; the demonstrations of the war veterans, the anti-war demonstrations, mutinies in the armies and navies of the capitalist countries assuming the form of open rebellions (the strike in the British Navy on September 14, 1931, in Invergordon; the mutiny in the Dutch Navy on one of the biggest cruisers, De Zeven Provincien, of February 9, 1933; the mutinies in the Australian Navy; the spontaneous uprising in the Chilean Navy in September, 1931; mutinies in the Japanese Army of Occupation), all these represent a series of links of the chain of uneven but constant maturing of the revolutionary crisis.
The Soviet revolution in China, which is successfully developing, its leader, the Communist Party of China, and its offspring, the Red Army, are the battle flags of all subjected oriental nations which are rebelling against the yoke of imperialism.
At the time of the Japanese attack on China, the Communist Party of China was already a menacing force at the head of a powerful and invincible Soviet movement over a vast territory and the only leader in the anti-imperialist struggle of the Chinese people. On the streets of Chapei and Shanghai, on the fields of Manchuria, Jehol and Chahar, the Communists fought in the front ranks against Japanese imperialism.
From the anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution emerge the Soviets and their workers and peasants’ Red Army. Breaking the yoke of imperialism, carrying out the agrarian revolution, consolidating the Soviet State, organising trade unions, organising groups of poor peasants, rallying the middle peasants around the Soviets and strengthening the alliance of the workers and peasants, the Chinese Soviet Republic has already repelled six counter-revolutionary campaigns of the Kuomintang and imperialist interventionists, and has become one of the greatest factors in the world proletarian revolution.
The successes of the Soviet revolution in China have proved by the experience of a vast semi-colonial country that “the Soviet power is the State form of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, which ensures the growing over of the bourgeois democratic revolution into a socialist revolution.” (Theses and decisions of the Thirteenth Plenum, ECCI).
In all colonial and semi-colonial countries national reformism plays the same role of the chief impediment of revolution, as the Second International plays in the imperialist countries. The Kuomintang has paved the way for the partition of China among the imperialists. The National Congress in India, WAFD in Egypt, Kut el Vatani in Syria, the Arabian Executive Committee in Palestine, and the African National Congress, are following in the footsteps of the Kuomintang. By exposing their treachery, the Communists are undermining the influence of these organisations on the masses.
In Indo-China and in India the proletariat has already commenced a struggle under the leadership of the Communist Party for hegemony in the national liberation movement. In the Philippines, in Korea, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Algeria and in Indonesia, Communist parties have already been formed. The colonial and semi-colonial countries are approaching the second round of revolutions and wars with growing and tempered Communist Parties.
The Third Period has brought to the fore as the main task of the Communist Parties the acceleration of the radicalisation of the masses through partial economic and political battles preparatory to the decisive battles for the dictatorship of the proletariat, for a Soviet government.
Although they lag behind the revolutionary upsurge, the Communist Parties are on the upward grade, having achieved the consolidation of their ranks on the basis of the general line of the Communist International as a result of the smashing of the Right and “Left” opportunists, the counter-revolutionary Trotskyites, in all sections of the Communist International, the Right-wing Bucharin-Tomsky-Rakov group and the Right-Left Syrsov bloc in the CPSU, Serra in Italy, the Barbe group in France, the Li Li-hsian Leftist group, and the counter-revolutionary Lo-chuan-lung group in China, the group of Remmele-Neumann conciliators in Germany and Guttmann in Czechoslovakia.
The creation of genuine Bolshevik mass parties has already been achieved in the weakest links of the imperialist chain, viz., in China, Germany, Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Spain. The Communist Parties in these countries have thousands and tens of thousands of members each; their influence extends over hundreds of thousands and millions of workers and peasants, they have already scored their first successes in establishing the united front. There is not a single Communist Party whose influence has not grown among the masses since the beginning of the economic crisis. The Communists are the only leaders of the masses, the motor of every revolutionary struggle, and they are the first to receive the blows of the class enemy. Most of the Communist Parties have gained the necessary prerequisites for becoming real mass fighting parties of the proletariat in the near future.
The social democratic survivals in the Communist Parties have not yet been overcome, however. They are not yet quite able to conduct mass work, and especially to consolidate organisationally their political influence. This results in the Communist Parties lagging behind the extremely favorable objective situation.
Although the disintegration of social democracy is largely the result of the struggle of the Communists, the Communist Parties are not yet developing sufficiently their offensive against international social democracy, the unexampled treachery and collapse of which creates unusually favorable conditions for the offensive.
In the course of the last year the opportunist mistakes of the Communist Parties committed in connection with the united front tactics were expressed in the tail policy, in adaptation to the backward moods of social democratic workers (Norway, Czechoslovakia), in attempts to set up a bloc with the social democratic leaders (France).
The development of the united front in the struggle jointly, with the social democratic workers of the reformist, Christian and mass Fascist trade unions and energetic exposure of the social democratic parties by the Communists is the central task of the Communist Parties in the present circumstances. This task makes it necessary for the Communists to work in absolutely all hostile mass organisations and especially in the reformist unions, which still embrace the decisive mass of the organised proletariat.
The Communist Party of Italy began to organise its work in the Fascist organisations very belatedly. The Chinese Communist Party was similarly tardy in developing its activity in the yellow Kuomintang unions. The French and Spanish Communist Parties are still weak in the reformist unions. The Young Communist Leagues have not yet been able to carry on systematic work in the numerous bourgeois youth sport organisations and other organisations.
The task of winning over the majority of the working· class demands the transformation of the factory committees, of the trade union oppositions, of the committees of unemployed, of the peasant committees, and especially the transformation of the big enterprises, into strongholds of the Communist Parties.
Abolishing their political and organisational lagging and their opportunist passivity, fighting against the tendency to leave things to take their own course, rejecting all theories of the automatic collapse of capitalism and fatalistic ideas of the inevitability of the triumph of Fascism, the Communist Parties are rising ever higher to the level of the great tasks which history has placed before them.
A number of historical tests have already shown that the Comintern has achieved successes in “the most difficult and most important matter” (Lenin), that of creating genuine Bolshevik Parties.
The war of 1914–18 was the test which proved that the Second International was bankrupt. In the struggle on two fronts, in the struggle against the opportunist underestimation of the imminence of war, against pacifist illusions, against mechanical theories about war as “the only road to revolution,” and against the theories of vanguardism and putschisrn, the sections of the Comintern have mastered the Marxian-Leninist policy in relation to war and have accumulated rich experience in applying that policy in actual practice. The Communist Parties are conducting a constant struggle in defence of the USSR, as the fatherland of the toilers of all countries. The Communist Parties have many times led the broad masses into the streets against imperialist war and against the preparation of armed attack against the USSR and in the defence of China and the colonies, and they are exposing all anti-Soviet intrigues and provocations, are fighting first and foremost the “enemy in their own countries,” and are displaying examples of true proletarian internationalism.
Examples of this nature were displayed in the struggle of the French Communist Party against French imperialism during the war in Morocco, when, in an atmosphere poisoned with chauvinism, it organised open proletarian action against colonial plunder, for the defence of the right of Morocco and other colonies to self-determination and for the withdrawal of troops from Morocco.
An example of Bolshevik struggle against war has been provided by the Communist Party of China, which revealed itself as the only Party capable of leading the mass anti-imperialist movement, the national revolutionary war against Japanese and world imperialism, in defence of China’s independence and integrity. The Communist Party of China is organising mass resistance to Japanese imperialism, and is at the same time fighting against its own bourgeoisie and landlords, represented by the Kuomintang government of national betrayal and disgrace. Enriching the world revolutionary movement with forms of struggle such as the creation of an invincible Red Army, the experience of guerilla warfare and mass demoralisation of the enemy forces and of the rear, the Communist Party of China has already become the most dangerous enemy of imperialism in the whole East.
An example of Bolshevik struggle against imperialist war is displayed by the Communist Party of Japan, which, in an atmosphere of poisonous Japanese chauvinism and bloody terror of the monarchist-militarist dictatorship, has been able to go against the stream, to hold aloft the banner of proletarian internationalism, to organise resistance to Japanese imperialism, and to mobilise the workers, peasants and soldiers of the Japanese army under the Bolshevik slogans of “Defeat your own government,” “Transform the imperialist war into a civil war,” “Withdraw the Japanese forces from China,” and “Defence of the USSR”
The sections of the Communist International have already shown in the decisive countries that they represent a serious obstacle on the road to imperialist war, that they alone will fight to the end to prevent war by means of revolution, and in the event of an outbreak of war will organise a powerful blow in the rear of the imperialist armies and hasten the transformation of war into revolution.
Hitler’s coming to power was a test, especially for the Communist Party of Germany and also for all other sections of the Comintern. The Communist Party of Germany, far from being frightened by the severe test, turned it into a starting point for the further consolidation of the whole Party around the Central Committee and the Communist International.
Although the Fascists threw Comrade Thaelmann, the Party leader, into jail, and imprisoned thousands of active Party members, drove 60,000 revolutionary workers into concentration camps and are killing Communists daily with and without trial, the Communist Party of Germany has not discontinued its struggle for a single hour. Having gone underground as a mass Party, it is organising and is at the head of the united front of the Communist, social democratic and non-party workers in their struggle against Fascism, is leading the workers in demonstrations in spite of the fierce terror, is leading strikes, is establishing still closer contacts with the factories, is distributing a vast amount of literature and is displaying wonders of heroism, Bolshevik perseverance and Party spirit.
In the struggle against the Fascist dictatorship and bestial chauvinism and nationalism, the CPG is holding aloft the standard of proletarian internationalism. The CPG is the force which is leading and will bring the German proletariat to the victory of Soviet Germany.
Hitler’s coming to power, which increased the activity of the Fascist gangs in all other countries, far from catching the Communist Parties of these countries unawares and demoralising their ranks, has, on the contrary, consolidated them more than ever in the struggle against Fascism as the only army which is rendering the Communist Party of Germany fraternal and active international support. The Communists were at the head of the great revolutionary actions of the workers of France against Fascism in February, 1934.
The cadres of the Communist Parties display marvellous heroism and self-sacrifice. In all countries, in the home countries as well as in the colonies, in the lands of “democracy” as well as in the lands of Fascism, the Communist Parties are subjected to persecution. In some countries, such as Germany, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, China and Japan, the Communists are subjected to medieval torture. The German Fascists perpetrate incredible brutalities and acts of sadism, compared with which all that is known in the history of the persecution of revolutionaries pales into insignificance.
But the more brutal the class enemy is, the greater becomes the spirit of daring and heroism in the ranks of the fighters of the proletarian revolution. Only the great banner of Communism, the banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, only the Marxian understanding of its great class mission, only the firm conviction of its historical correctness and in the imminence of victory, a conviction deeply substantiated by the great successes of socialism in the USSR, creates heroes of the Dimitrov and Luettgens type and of thousands of unnamed heroes who fall daily in the cause of Communism in various parts of the globe.
The unshakeable unity of the ranks of the CPSU, the leading section of the Comintern, accomplished under the leadership of Comrade Stalin, is a decisive factor in the growth and consolidation of the forces of Communism throughout the world.
The Party of Lenin and Stalin is able, on the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Comintern, to report victories of world historical importance. The Seventeenth Congress of the CPSU, a Congress of the decisive victory of socialism, as admitted not only by the friends but also by the enemies of the USSR, held the attention of the whole world. Under the leadership of the CPSU, the proletarian revolution has fulfilled its fundamental tasks and has achieved splendid victories over the forces and traditions of the capitalist world. The CPSU has demonstrated to the workers of all countries that it is possible to build socialism in a single country. The CPSU has shown to the revolutionary fighters of an countries the Bolshevik art of rousing millions for the struggle for socialism and of leading them over all obstacles from. victory to victory. The Seventeenth Congress of the CPSU, having demonstrated to the world that the ranks of the CPSU and the Comintern are monolithic and solidly united around their leader, Comrade Staliri, has already become a new mighty lever in the cause of Bolshevisation of all sections of the CI.
Having intensified the struggle for foreign markets, having destroyed the last remnants of free trade, and called forth a trade and currency war, the world economic crisis strengthens nationalism in the economic policy of the bourgeoisie and places war on the order of the day as a means of bringing about a redivision of the world.
The extension of the war of Japanese imperialism against China, the extreme intensification of antagonisms in the Pacific, the preparations of Japanese and German imperialism with the support of Great Britain for a counterrevolutionary war against the USSR, the withdrawal of Germany and Japan from the League of Nations, the end of bourgeois pacifism and the fascisation of the dictatorship of finance capital, all signify the attempt of decaying capitalism to find a way out of the crisis and avert the revolutionary blow of the proletariat by demolishing the vanguard of the working class through fascism and war. “Fascism is the open, terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” (Theses of the Thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI)
The bourgeoisie chooses the way of war.
The proletariat enters the road to proletarian revolution.
The results of the First Five-Year Plan in the USSR and the colossal successes of Soviet peace policy have demonstrated to the workers of all countries what the proletarian dictatorship can give. Hitler’s Germany’ has shown them what awaits them if the bourgeoisie remains in power. The proletariat does not want the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie either in the form of fascism or in the form of bourgeois democracy. Either the dictatorship of the proletariat or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, that is how history poses the question.
“The chief slogan of the Communist International is: Soviet Power.” (Thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI).
The general strike in France and the armed uprising of the Austrian proletariat (February 1934) are another historical landmark in the struggle for the Soviet Power. The beginning of a new counter-offensive of the working class against capitalism, against fascism, for socialism, the beginning of a wave of civil war in Europe. The proletariat of Austria, doubly enslaved by its own and foreign capital, reduced to despair by starvation and unemployment, by the onslaught of fascism, the menace of war, and by the treacherous policy of the leaders of Austro-Marxism. courageously raised the banner of struggle for power and heroically threw the lives of their men, women and children on the scales of the proletarian revolution.
The armed revolt of the Austrian proletariat delivered a heavy blow to Austro-Marxism. Over the heads of Otto Bauer and Karl Renner, the united fighting front of all workers of Austria was realised in the civil war.
In those historical days of February, 1934, the united front also triumphed over the heads of the Blums and Faures in France in the form of revolutionary demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands, and in the great general strike of the French proletariat, which held the attention of the world, scared the bourgeoisie to death and revealed the invincible strength of the proletariat.
The events in Austria and France, which found a revolutionary echo in Spain, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Great Britain, the United States and other countries, revealed the sharp turn of the social democratic masses to the side of the proletarian revolution. These events will constitute a turning point in the history of the struggle of the Communist International for the united front.
Unevenly, but surely, the revolutionary crisis is growing all over the world. The extension and consolidation of the Soviet Republic of China, the rapid growth of the anti-imperialist and anti-Kuomintang struggle all over China, the growing “dangerous thoughts” in the rear of Japanese fascism, the incipient crisis in German fascism and the growth of a new revolutionary upsurge in Germany, the deepening of the revolution in Spain, the successes of the anti-war and anti-fascist movements in all countries, the new wave of revolutionary struggle of the unemployed in Great Britain, the revolution in Cuba and the demonstration of the moral power of Communism at the Leipzig trial, in which Dimitrov indicted German fascism – all these are links in the ever-strengthening united front of the world proletarian revolution. “The idea of storming the citadel of capitalism is maturing in the minds of the masses” all over the world. (Stalin) On the threshold of the new round of revolutions and wars, the role of the Communiist Party, as the organiser of revolution, is assuming decisive significance.
“The victory of the revolution never comes by itself; it has to be prepared and won. And only a strong proletarian, revolutionary party can prepare for it and win it.” (Stalin, Report at Seventeenth Party Congress)
In the conditions when the last and “decisive battle” is approaching, a cleavage in the working class is the main source of its weakness, the main obstacle in the way of winning over to the side of the proletarian revolution numerous reserves. This cleavage is a result of the treachery of social democracy, a result of its policy of saving bourgeois rule from the proletarian revolution. There can be no other unity for the working class than fighting unity against the bourgeoisie, the unity in the struggle for the fulfillment of the historical mission of the working class, for the revolutionary overthrow of bourgeois rule, for the dictatorship of the proletariat, for socialism. Such unity will be accomplished by the world proletariat in spite of all hindrances, in a relentless struggle, not only against the bourgeoisie, but also against the main social support of the latter, international democracy.
The Second International is decaying. Bankrupt at the beginning of the world war in 1914, the Second International consolidated its ranks in 1924 after the proletarian revolution was defeated in Western Europe. The Second International retained its influence on the workers by relying on the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, on the temporary stabilisation of capitalism. Under the banner of democracy it defended the bourgeois dictatorship against the revolutionary workers with the aid of machineguns used by Noske, Wels and Grzesinsky. It tore out of the hands of the German workers the weapon of the mass political strike when it became necessary for the masses to defend themselves against the fascist onslaught. It invariably sabotaged the daily struggle of the proletariat and hundreds of times broke up the united proletarian front which alone would have been able to deliver a decisive blow to fascism. The most despicable behaviour of German social democracy at the time of Hitler’s coming to power summed up the whole period of betrayal, treachery and provocation. The road pursued by the German social democrats during the last fifteen years was a road “from bloody suppression of the proletarian revolution in 1918, through an uninterrupted chain of treachery and strike-breaking, through all the coalition governments, the savage police massacres of revolutionary workers, voting for Hindenburg as the “lesser evil,” to servile endeavors to co-operate openly with the fascist gangs.” (Thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI)
The political suicide of German social democracy, the leading section of the Second International; the split of the French Socialist Party into three parts; the complete bankruptcy of Austro-Marxism; the withdrawal of the British Independent Lahor Party from the Second International; the drop in the membership of the reformist unions; the formation in practically every social-democratic party of neo-fascist on the one hand and “Left” groups on the other; the unprecedented ideological confusion in the leadership and the surging mass movement of the social democratic workers in favor of a united front with the Communists – all this clearly speaks of the disintegration of the Second International. The new crisis of social democracy, which is part of the crisis of bourgeois rule, is the result of the successful struggle of the Communist Parties to win over the majority of the working class, and is the forerunner of the new round of proletarian revolutions.
Establishing a united front against the entire system of wage slavery and colonial oppression, the international proletariat is equipped with a faultless compass, which shows the way to power and emancipation on the threshold of the great impending battles. That compass is Leninism, “Marxism of the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution.” (Stalin)
In 1914, in face of an incomparably stronger and more powerful capitalism, the international proletariat, betrayed by the leaders of the Second International, had only one Bolshevik Party, the Party of Lenin.
In 1934, the toilers and the oppressed of the world have their socialist fatherland, a living and invincible stronghold of their struggle, and the Communist International, which unites in its ranks the Communist Parties of 65 countries.
In 1914, a handful of brave fighters, headed by Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin, raised the proletarian banner in Germany against mighty imperialism and exposed themselves to the treacherous blows of the traitors of August 4. Today the Communist Party of Germany, an army of 100,000 devoted fighters, is getting ready in the firing line to storm the fascist dictatorship and to fight for the victory of Soviet Germany.
In 1914 there were no Soviets in China. Today their victories have a terrific effect on the whole structure of world imperialism, and are bringing nearer the hour of its doom.
There is not a country in the world in which the advanced workers are not waging a revolutionary struggle for a Soviet government. Even the weakest Communist Party strikes terror into the hearts of the exploiters. The world proletariat has its World Communist Party, hardened, united and trained in the course of fifteen years of struggles in the cause of the working class. The great strength of the Communist International and of its sections in face of war and fascism, lies in the iron unity they have won.
During the fifteen years of its existence the Communist International has welded the struggle of the international proletariat with the cause of October, with the victorious construction of socialism in the USSR, and the protection of the latter; and it has united the struggle of the colonial peoples against imperialism with the struggle of the proletariat for the world socialist revolution into one indivisible whole.
Ten years ago the Communist International declared over the fresh grave of Lenin: “Lenin is our immortal leader.” The prophets of the Second International at that time declared that the death of Lenin and the coming of MacDonald to power were signs of the end of Bolshevism and the beginning of a new epoch of “peaceful socialism.” The ten years which have passed under Comrade Stalin’s leadership since Lenin’s death are a period of world historical victories of socialism in the USSR and of the growth of the influence of the Communist Parties in all countries. During these ten years the struggle between the two systems rose to a new and higher level and confronted victorious and growing socialism with declining and decaying capitalism.
Comrade Stalin mapped out the path of the world proletarian revolution and the fundamentals of Bolshevik strategy and tactics in the new conditions of world development. Comrade Stalin not only defended and splendidly developed Lenin’s teachings of the possibility of building socialism in a single country; he has headed the struggle of tens of millions for the realisation of this theory and has transformed the USSR into the greatest lever of history, that is hastening the downfall of capitalism.
Stalin’s fight against Trotskyism and against the Right liquidators on the questions of the Chinese revolution placed the Communist Party of China on the right track and secured the conditions necessary for its transition to the Soviet phase of development. The struggle against all anti-Leninist deviations conducted in the CPSU and in the Comintern under Comrade Stalin’s leadership revealed to all Communist Parties the profound fundamental and practical revolutionary significance of the fight for the purity of the Marxist-Leninist teachings, the struggle on two fronts, for the leading and organising role of the Party, for winning the majority of the working class, for winning its allies, for correct, concrete and operative leadership in the class battles of all detachments of toilers. Comrade Stalin took a leading part in working out the programme of the CI. There is not a single important decision of the CI, not a single forecast that is not permeated with Stalin’s far-sightedness, his ability to map out the line of attack and strike a crushing blow at the enemy.
Lenin led the proletariat to the victory of October on one-sixth of the globe, formed the Communist International and headed its struggle in the period of the first round of wars and revolutions. In the period of the second round of revolutions and wars the Leninist Communist International, under the leadership of Stalin, will lead the proletariat of all countries to the victory of the World October.
The revolutionary workers have not in vain passed through the fifteen years of school of the Communist International. Under the banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, they will carry on to the end the building of classless society in the USSR, will convert the imperialist and counter-revolutionary offensive of the bourgeoisie into civil war against capitalism, into a victorious proletarian revolution, into the triumph of Soviet China, into the victory of the Soviet revolution in Europe, into the triumph of the dictatorship of the proletariat all over the world.
“Let the bourgeoisie rage, let it murder additional thousands of workers; victory is on our side. The victory of the World Communist revolution is assured.” (Lenin)
Last updated on 18.10.2011