August Thalheimer

Strategy and Tactics of the Communist International: What are Transitional Slogans?

Taken from: What Next? No. 13, 1999
Translated by: Mike Jones
HTML Markup: Mathias Bismo

This piece is a section of a much longer document written by Thalheimer in response to the programme drafted (mainly by Bukharin) for the Communist International's Sixth Congress in 1928. The document was retrieved from the SED (East German Communist Party) archives and published in 1993 by Decaton, Mainz, as Programmatische Fragen: Kritik des Programmentwurfs der Komintem (V1. Weltkongreis), with a foreword by Theodor Bergmann. We are grateful to Mike Jones for providing a translation.

This part seems to me to be the weakest in the whole draft. It is also the most important for those sections of the CI [Communist International] which still face the task of winning the majority of the working class for the principles and aims of Communism, thus to create the organisational and ideological preconditions for the struggle for the proletarian dictatorship.

This task still faces such important sections of the CI as the German, French, Italian, Polish, Czechoslovak, etc. I have mentioned here sections of the CI which are already mass parties. Some sections of the CI have not even reached this level yet. They are not yet mass parties, but rather small groups with small circles around them, whose activity is dominated by propaganda. Other sections may still be in the very early stage of circles. The borders here are of course not fixed, but fluid. However, it seems useful to us to make this classification.

In this part, the insufficient participation of the non-Russian sections in elaborating the draft is most perceptible. The tactical and strategical experiences of the individual sections are much richer, more multifarious, more specific, than it appears in this part. Of course, this part of the programme of the International cannot merely consist of a juxtaposition, nor a mere addition, to the experience of the individual sections. It should represent the general viewpoints which result from these tactical experiences. This also accords with the well-known decision of the Fourth Congress [of the CI], in which Lenin played a decisive role. Moreover, it also accords with the conception that I represented here. I would not have considered it worth mentioning if some comrades had not tried to distort the conceptions represented there by me (on behalf of, and in agreement with, the KPI) [German Communist Party]). One has only to compare the texts of the reports, such as that of the resolution drawn up at the Fourth Congress, to completely clarify things. If necessary that can be checked later. I am not in possession of the texts in question at present

It would also surely have been beneficial for the elaboration of this part if the most important sections of the Comintern had complied with the instructions by the ECCI [Executive Committee of the CI] years ago: namely, to elaborate Action Programmes for their countries. As far as I know, an elaborated draft of a long-term Action Programme only exists on the part of the Italian section. In this regard, it indicates a maturity above the average of the other sections.

In our German section there is, as is known, a toing and froing in opinion on whether a long-term Action Programme is in accordance with the principles of the CI or not. The view was presented here that an Action Programme should only contain partial or day-to-day demands (minimum demands as they used to be called), which could be shifted out within 24 hours.

I regard this view as false. It is not in accord with the above-mentioned instruction from the Executive to the individual sections to elaborate their Action Programmes. It certainly did not intend a mere collation of partial and day-to-day demands. These might have to be changed a short notice, often from one day to the next. They shun a concrete fixation for longer periods. In addition, this view contradicts the fact of the Action Programme of the Italian section. It also contradicts the decisions of the Third Congress, in which Lenin played such a decisive role. And, finally, it contradicts the conception of the practice of Marx and Engels.

On the other hand, it accords with the Erfurt Programme. It is a relapse into an obsolete stage of the workers' movement.

Now we come to the question of transitional slogans in general, and to the question whether transitional slogans may be propagated in non-acute revolutionary situations.

According to rumours of which I have become aware, some comrades have accused me of a frightful theoretical misunderstanding of the meaning of the transitional slogans of Marx and Engels. In the opinion of Marx and Engels they should only be propagated in an acute revolutionary situation, in the revolutionary overturn itself.

Furthermore: with transitional slogans in the sense of Marx and Engels are meant slogans that could only be realised after the conquest of power by the working class. The grave theoretical mistake here is wholly on the side of the comrades who mention the above described conception.

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels speak of 'despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, m the course of the movement outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production'. Which transition should these demands or measures effect? That from the capitalist to the socialist mode of production. Which force should effect this transition? The working class, which 'raises itself to the position of ruling class', which conquers 'political power', which has won 'the battle of democracy'. The word democracy, used here by Marx and Engels without further definition, would appear to mean the workers' and peasants ' democratic dictatorship. The revolutionary democracy of the Jacobins and not the parliamentary form. The proletarian dictatorship was defined in more detail by them to signify the smashing of the bourgeois stale machine only after the experience of the Commune.

Which demands or measures are posed here by Marx and Engels for fulfilment after the conquest of power?

The Communist Manifesto says in this regard:

'These measures will of course be different in different countries. Nevertheless, in the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable

  1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels..
  5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
  7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
  10. Free education for an children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.'

As one can immediately see, here it is a question of exclusively transitional measures after the conquest of power by the working class. Hence, they are mostly maximum slogans (except for the 'heavy progressive tax', although it too has a revolutionary meaning here).

Transitional slogans in the sense of the tactical theory of the Third Congress of the CI are, by their nature, as by the period of their use, something else. They are slogans which in the course of the struggle for power, that is, in an acutely revolutionary situation, are take:n up and partially realised, even before the working class has established its state power, but where it is already capable, in a number of areas, if not yet in a centralised form, of weakening capitalist rule in the factories and the bourgeois state power, and of strengthening its own class power. The implementation of these measures against the resistance of the bourgeoisie, the attempt to extend them, unfolds the question of power in its full extent. The resistance of the bourgeoisie poses for the working class the alternative: either to wholly lose the partial gains again or to continue advancing further.

In Soviet Russia in 1917, the most important of these transitional slogans were workers' control of production and the arming of the workers.

Upon the establishment of the proletarian state power these slogans are out of date, as the struggle advances.. Control of the factories by the workers is superseded by complete expropriation of the capitalist factory manager and management of the factories by the organs of the workers' state. Then workers' control assumes new forms and becomes a subordinate issue. At the same time it becomes generalised. The aiming of the workers in the course of the struggle for power is replaced, after the seizure of power, by the state aiming of the workers and disarming of the bourgeoisie. The Red Army, etc., takes the place of the Red Guards, etc.

One has simply allowed oneself to be led astray by the common word 'transitional' in the expressions transitional measures in the sense of the Communist Manifesto and transitional slogans in the sense of the Third Congress. In the one and the other case it concerns in essence different transitions and therefore different periods of struggle. In the one case it means measures of the victorious proletarian revolution, in the other case slogans and actions of the working class struggling for power. If I envisage only the word 'transition', without considering from what to what is the transition, then the change of the socialist society into the communist is also a 'transition' with corresponding transitional measures, slogans and phenomena. In the first case it concerns the period of the proletarian dictatorship; in the second, the period of the conquest of power. But maximum slogans as well as transitional slogans are propaganda slogans, before they become slogans of action- And, indeed, in the propaganda, maximum and transitional slogans must be linked to each other, the maximum slogans must be derived from the transitional slogans.

Demands of the second character, that is in the sense of transitional slogans, are not contained in the Communist Manifesto, but in the 17 demands formulated by the Central Committee of the Communist League in March 1848, that is in the already begun revolution, and moreover m the well known circular of the Central Committee of March 1850, hence after the defeat of the German revolution, in the midst of the high tide of the reaction, in the expectation of a new upturn of the revolution

This circular said that, of course, at the start of the movement, the workers could not yet propose any directly communist measures, but they could compel the Democrats to intervene in as many sides of the hitherto existing social order as possible, to disturb its regular functioning and to compromise themselves, as well as to concentrate as many productive forces, means of transport, railways, etc., as possible in the hands of the state.

In this case, Marx, or the Central Committee, have in mind the transition from the bourgeois to the proletarian revolution and, at the same time, the of the workers fighting for power.

It is obvious that the transitional slogans formulated here are not relevant for Germany today, where the bourgeois revolution lies behind us (even if it has still left a vast quantity of rubbish, like the separate states, the legal system amalgamated with elements left over from princely absolutisn, etc.) and which faces the proletarian or socialist revolution as the next direct link.

Here the question for us was only one of characterising the general nature of 'transitional slogans' in the stage of the working class struggle for power, as opposed to transitional measures in the sense of the Communist Manifesto, which are, in truth, maximum demands. But the comrades who look here for an incomprehensible theoretical error of mine commit one themselves, as they confuse different things.

Firstly, transitional slogans and transitional measures in the sense of the Communist Manifesto, that is, maximum slogans. Secondly, transitional slogans that are effective, transform themselves into action, in an immediate revolutionary situation, that is, in the course of the working-class struggle for power. Transitional slogans in our sense were posed and propagated by Marx and Engels only at the emergence of the revolutionary situation, at the outbreak of the revolution, then (1850) also in a time of profound reaction, the ebb of the revolution.

The situation will be fully clarified if one considers the situation in which the 1850 circular of the Central Committee was drafted. It was a period 'between two revolutions'. The revolution had, for the time being, been defeated. Reaction ruled. Marx and Engels expected a new revolutionary upswing in connection with a new economic crisis, but this new revolutionary upturn had not yet arrived. The members of the Communist League are, of course, not meant to put the transitional slogans from the circular m their pockets until the appearance of the new revolutionary outbreak, but they should already now, before the outbreak, propagate them within the working class. The circular serves not only to develop the perspectives of the new revolutionary struggles for the members, to show them the basic lines of strategy and tactics, but also to nourish the present propaganda of the Communists in the working class. Through this propaganda the Communists shall prepare the working class for the coming revolutionary struggles. To start with propaganda for the struggle for power when it has already begun is typical chvostism (tail-endism). This was typical of the liquidatory Mensheviks and Trotsky in the years of reaction in Russia after 1907. The liquidators wanted those key slogans to be posed which presupposed a Tsarist regime with liberal additions. As the most important one they raised the freedom of combination In opposition to them Lenin represented the viewpoint that a second revolution would be necessary, and that accordingly one should raise the unabridged revolutionary slogans: the well-known three whales - democratic republic, eight-hour day, landlord's land to the peasants. The Leninist slogans were presented in the big mass strikes of 1912.

I assumed that these simple things would be well known. That was evidently a mistake.

Now we go to the twentieth century

Lenin deals with the question of transitional demands in his text on the 'Infantile Disorders of Leftism', where he speaks of the still not fully Communist slogans or measures which are necessary to draw the majority of the proletariat and working people close to the (already convinced) revolutionary vanguard. That was written in 1920. Lenin was careful and prudent enough not to put any time limit on when the majority of the working class and working people had or ought to be drawn around the vanguard. In any case, it is clear that for Lenin the transitional slogans ought to be propagated at a time when the Communist Party has not yet won the majority of the working class and the working people, in a generally revolutionary but not yet acutely revolutionary situation.

The issue will become clearer when we consider the Third Congress of the CI.

Let us look at Radek's report on tactics. Of course, what Radek expressed here was not his personal view, but that of the leading Russian comrades, above all that of Lenin

On transitional slogans, the following general viewpoints were developed:

The minimum demands in the programme of pre-war Social Democracy were 'a system of demands which should improve the situation of the working class on the basis of capitalism, which should arm the working class against the depressing tendencies of capitalism. Rosa Luxemburg once characterised the real function of the Social Democratic (minimum) programme, in a polemic with Sombart, in such a way that she declared: 'Really we only struggle for the commodity labour power to be sold at its real price, so that the worker receives the wage which allows him to reproduce his own labour power.'

The Social Democratic minimum programme remained economically within the framework of the capitalist economic form, practically within the framework of the bourgeois-democratic state, the 'well known democratic litany', as Marx put it in his remarks on the Gotha Programme. The objective precondition for it was that the Social Democracy still envisaged 'a long period of existence of capitalist society'.

The minimum programme of the pre-war Social Democracy posed demands 'which were attainable within capitalist society, and which functioned in a revolutionary way, since capitalist society time and again, opposed these attainable and, for the working class, necessary demands'.

Here one should have added that the revolutionary effect of the political minimum demands, for example, in the Erfurt Programme, was connected to the fact that here, in the political area, the bourgeois revolution had been stuck in mid-course. In Bismarck-Hohenzollern Germany, the bourgeois-parliamentary republic slogan must, naturally, have a revolutionary effect. As is known, it was not contained in the Erfurt Programme, allegedly purely for police reasons. In reality, there was more to it, as was demonstrated by the opposition to the proposal by Rosa Luxemburg to propagate the republic (1910), and later (1918) by the Social Democratic attempts, even in the last hours, to save the monarchy. At the foundation congress of the KPD (Spartakusbund), in late December 19 18, Rosa Luxemburg declared: 'For us now there is no minimum programme, no maximum programme; socialism is one and the same, that is the minimum we have to achieve today.'

In the Spartacus programme, this minimum and maximum was posed as: 'all power to the worker councils, arming of the proletariat, cancellation of state debts, seizing possession of the factories', etc.

'In which situation', commented Radek, 'did this programme arise? The workers' councils were the highest power in Germany. Formally, the working class., had the power in its hands. And the task of the Spartacus League consisted in just saying to these workers' councils what the power of the working class consists of, and nothing more.'

'It is clear', continued Radek, 'that now we do not find ourselves in this situation. The bourgeoisie has the power. The first working-class assault in the epoch of demobilisation was repelled. The proletarian revolution is now only growing.'

What is the consequence?

'Primarily, it is this: one must try to lead all struggle over wage rises, over working hours, against unemployment towards the intermediate aim of control over production, not towards the system of production, control effected by the government, by passing a law, which the proletariat has then to respect, that the worker does not steal, and the capitalist has to watch that the worker works. Control over production means education in proletarian struggle, all factory organisations to be subject to elections, their local and district-wide connection on the basis of industrial groups in the proletarian struggle.'

Radek named 'the arming of the proletariat, the disarming of the bourgeoisie' as the second slogan.

And he draws the following general conclusion:

'One could mention even more slogans of that type. I will not do so. They grow out of the practical struggle. What we say to you, give to you as a general slogan, as a general orientation is, not to counterpose yourselves to the proletariat in all the struggles Which the masses undertake, but to sharpen, to extend the struggles of the masses for their practical necessities, and to teach them to have greater necessities: the necessity to conquer power.'

I mention one more passage from the report:

The preparatory work is not in opposition to the epoch of agitation... struggle is revolutionary agitation, struggle is revolutionary propaganda, struggle is illegal organisations, the military training of the proletariat, party school, demonstration, uprising, is struggle.'

The Third Congress Theses on Tactics sum up the ideas in the report then as follows:

'The action tasks which will soon confront the VKPI) [United Communist Party of Germany - the name initially adopted by the KPI) after the fusion of the KPD (Spartakusbund) with the left of the Independent Social Democratic Party], because of the breakdown of the German economy and the capitalist threat to the living standards of the working masses, can only be accomplished if the party, instead of opposing the tasks of organisation and agitation to those of action, of the deed, keeps constantly on the alert the spirit of militancy in its organisations, makes its agitation really popular in character, and builds its organisations in such a way that through its ties with the masses, it develops the ability to weigh up situations most carefiffly, to determine the moment for fighting, and to prepare thoroughly for the fight.' (Thesen und Resolutionen des 3. Weltkongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, Hamburg 1921, part 4, pp.43-44.)

'The Communist Parties do not put forward any minimum programme to strengthen and improve the tottering structure of capitalism The destruction of that structure remains their guiding aim and their immediate mission. But to carry out this mission the Communist Parties must put forward demands whose fulfilment is an immediate and urgent working-class need, and they must fight for these demands in mass struggle, regardless of whether or not they are compatible with the profit economy of the capitalist class or not-

'It is not the viability and competitive capacity of capitalist industry, nor the profitability of capitalist finance to which Communist Parties should pay regard, but the limits of want which the proletariat cannot and should not endure any longer. If the demands correspond to the vital need of broad proletarian masses, if these masses feel that they cannot exist unless these demands are met, then the struggles for these demands will become the starting points of the struggle for power In place of the minimum programme of the reformists and centrists, the Communist International puts the struggle for the concrete needs of the proletariat, for a system of demands which in their totality disintegrate the power of the bourgeoisie, organise the proletariat, represent stages in the struggle for the proletarian dictatorship, and each of which expresses in itself the need of the broadest masses, even if the masses themselves are not yet consciously in favour of the proletarian dictatorship.' (Thesen und Resolutionen, part 5, pp.46-7.)

1... To the extent that the struggles for partial demands, and the particular struggles of particular groups of workers develop into the general struggle of the working class against capitalism, the Communist Party must also intensify and generalise its slogans, up to the slogan of the direct defeat of the enemy In formulating their partial demands, the Communist Parties have to consider that these demands - anchored in the needs of the broadest masses - not only lead the masses in the struggle, but by their very nature also are organising demands. Every practical slogan which derives from the economic needs of the working masses must be channelled into the struggle for the control of production, not as a plan for the bureaucratic organisation of the national economy under the capitalist regime, but as the struggle against capitalism, through the factory councils and revolutionary trade unions.' (Ibid., pp.47-8.)

Between the beginning of the struggle for power by the working class and the classes allied to it, the outbreak of the acute revolutionary period and its provisional closure at the conquest of power by the establishment of the council-power (provisional closure, since after the establishment of the council-power, the struggle continues for its maintenance), lies the period of the struggle for power itself. Many comrades 'forget' that. In Russia in 1917, the struggle of the working class for power lasted from March to October - eight months. Its starting point was the 'dual-government', the coexistence of the bourgeois-democratic state power (Kerensky government) and the workers', peasants' and soldiers' councils, the latter of which realised in an original form the workers' and peasants' democratic dictatorship. Its end-point was the establishment of the soviet power in October, the destruction and removal of the bourgeois-democratic state power and state machine.

The main contents of the resolution are as follows:

(1) The rise of the councils of workers', peasants' and soldiers' deputies as organs of struggle of the revolutionary classes, their struggle with the organs of bourgeois democracy and finally their victory over them, which transforms the councils into the organs of the proletarian state power.

(2) The aiming and the armed struggles of the workers, peasants and soldiers, the undermining and destruction of the Tsarist army, finally the armed uprising, the victory of the armed workers, peasants and the creation of the Red Guards and the Red Army.

(3) The sporadic workers' control of production, where the employers are still formally owners of the factories, but the control and, in part, management is subordinate to the factory councils. The end-point is, with the conquest of power, the seizure of the big enterprises by the council-state, their management by the organs of the workers' state, simultaneously, systematic extension of workers' control which, however, now assumes a wholly different character, where the employer is now replaced as owner and manager by the workers' state. Workers' control is integrated by, and subordinate to, the council-state leadership, generalised and transformed.

(4) The local, spontaneous and direct occupation of the land of the big landlords by the peasants. The end-point here is: the decree nationalising the land, the general confiscation of large-scale landed property by the state.

These eight months also constitute the transition or the change from the bourgeois-democratic into the proletarian-socialist revolution.

There is no doubt that Marx and Engels had in mind not only transitional measures after the conquest of power, after the establishment of the workers' and peasants' democratic dictatorship (as stated in the Communist Manifesto), but also transitional slogans for the preceding period, for the conquest of power itself (Engels 1847, the 17 denmds of March 1848, the Central Committee circular of 1850).

This was a transition from the bourgeois-democratic to the proletarian-socialist revolution also under the conditions prevailing at the time in Germany. In present-day Germany, which has left the completed bourgeois-democratic revolution behind, the section of the struggle of the workers, and of those classes allied to and led by them, for state power cannot any longer, of course, be a transition from the bourgeois democratic to the proletarian-socialist revolution. In Germany, the different stages of the bourgeois and proletarian revolution, which were compressed into the space of time from 1905/06 to 1917 in Russia, that is12 years, are separated by over 70 years (the bourgeois revolution in Germany began in 1848, and is concluded in 1919; simultaneously, the proletarian revolution began in 1918).

One thing is certain, the struggle of the working class and its allies for power, in Germany and also in other counties with similar economic and administrative preconditions, will last for a determined period, not just a fleeting moment As its main contents one can already today indicate an outline as follows:

1) The formation of workers' (small peasants' and possibly soldiers') councils as organs of struggle, their struggle against the organs of the bourgeois state power.

2) The arming and armed struggles of the workers, the undermining and finally the smashing of the bourgeois military and police power, and other military forces of the bourgeoisie.

3) The conquest of new positions of power by the workers against the employers in the factories, the control and partial management of individual factories by the workers; in probability, also already the partial expulsion or flight of capitalist employers from 'their' enterprises.

4) Probably also the local occupation of large scale landed property, big farm land, by farm labourers, rural semi-proletarians, dwarf- and small-holders and lower layers of the middle peasantry.

What kind of slogans?

If we take as an example the slogan of the local occupation of large-scale landed property and the land of large farmers by farm labourers, rural casual labourers, dwarf- and small-holders and part of the middle peasantry. Is that a partial slogan? Surely not. It is more. It already breaks the framework of the bourgeois order. Is it a maximum slogan? Not yet. It is less. A maximum slogan is the expropriation of the big landlords (and big farmers) and the appropriation of the land by the council state.

What we have here is a type of transitional slogan. There will be quite a few of them. Some can be foreseen, others cannot.

A second example - the slogan of the councils. They will arise in acute revolutionary situations. For a longer or shorter period they become organs of struggle of the working class and its allies, rather than organs of power. The maximum slogan is that of council power: 'All power to the councils!' But what is the 'Workers' and Peasants' Government!' slogan? It is surely not a bourgeois-democratic slogan. It already breaks the framework of the bourgeois state. Hence it is not a partial, reform or minimum slogan. It is a revolutionary slogan. Is it already a maximum slogan, the ready-made council-power, its 'synonym or pseudonym'? Two names or slogans for the same thing are superfluous. It is again a transitional slogan for the struggle for power: the council-power of the council state in its not yet perfect or finished, but still incomplete and transitory, form. (For example, in Russia, from 7 November up to the breaking-up of the alliance with the Left SRs in the soviets.)

This is also a type of transitional slogan, and as a condition a transitional one or a transitional measure in the here-mentioned sense.

Moreover, one must see that this period of struggle must be prepared agitationally, propagandistically, organisationally, that is, that the transitional slogans must be propagated before the struggle for power has begun, until and so that they become slogans of action in the struggle for powert

When and which specific transitional slogans are agitated for and propagated before the immediate struggle for power, depends on the concrete conditions, but must be investigated in each single case. In other words, that is the task of leading the masses to the struggle for power.

This task, which Lenin saw as the main task of the Communist Party in the most important countries in 1920, at a time when capitalism was much more convulsed than today, seemed attainable in a relatively short time. Today the objective circumstances indicate that it will necessitate a longer time.

But the essence of this task remains the same today as it did then.

To want to overlook or forget' or argue away this task is to commit a great theoretical as well as a practical error. It means ignoring the subjective conditions necessary for the realisation of the transitional slogans. It means to forget the role of the Communist Party as the leader of the working class, which has to show it the next step. It means to limit oneself to 'tail-ending', to remaining behind the movement of the masses. It is Kautsky's famous strategy of attrition.

The general result is this:

1) A limiting to a minimum programme, like that of the pre-war Social Democracy, which holds itself within the framework of the capitalist order and the bourgeois-democratic state, is not permissible in a time when capitalism finds itself in a revolutionary crisis and where the bourgeois-democratic state already exists in fact in the country in question.

2) Just as impermissible is limiting oneself to maximum slogans, in a time when capitalism finds itself indeed in revolutionary crisis, but the working class is not immediately fighting for power and the bourgeoisie has again consolidated itself in power for a longer of a shorter time.

3) In a period like that the task is, apart from propagating maximum slogans: agitation, propaganda and organisation of struggles around partial demands and transitional slogans.

The posing of the one or the other must conform to the concrete circumstances of the struggle.

Where do we find ourselves now? Not in the first period of struggle of the still unshaken capitalism. The draft programme is absolutely correct to speak of the general crisis of capitalism, which denotes the whole actual period of struggle. Even if the particular postiwar crisis has been overcome, the general crisis of capitalism has in any case remained. This crisis is already proved by the fact that the Soviet Union, an oasis with a dominating socialist economic form, exists and grows in the middle of the capitalist world.

Is world capitalism in 1928 different from that of 1921, that of the Third Congress? Certainly. Capitalism has, in the meantime, consolidated itself more firmly (but so have the Soviet Union and the Communist International).

But is the situation different in its fundamental characteristics, which determine the posing and propagating of transitional slogans? No!

Hence what follows?

Two things:

1) The continuing general crisis of capitalism proves today as in 1921 the necessity of posing and propagating transitional slogans.

2) The overcoming of the particular post-war crisis of capitalism, the 'relative stabilisation of capitalism', the development of contradictions, crises, conflicts on new bases, stipulates that the transitional slogans are adapted to a new situation, given new contents and forms, that their utilisation will have different forms, etc. It is not simply a question of repeating the old formulas and forms.

I content myself here with this general result. To deal with one of these transitional slogans, such as that of control of production, its actual possible content in a country like Germany or Italy, its form of propagation adapted to the situation, the organisational utilisation, etc., would go too far here.

The programme must give clear information over the question: what are transitional slogans, under what conditions should they be propagated, when do they become slogans of action, etc.

The questions are thrown up in the movement; they must be clearly and precisely replied to, in a general form, in the programme.