First Published: The Communist International [Petrograd], Vol.I, No.1, 1919.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) August 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
The Tsars and the priests – the former lords of the Moscow Kremlin – never foresaw, we may imagine, that within its hoary walls would one day gather the representatives of the most revolutionary part of contemporary humanity. Nevertheless, this has happened. In one of the halls of the Palace of Justice, where still are wandering the wan ghosts of the criminal paragraphs of the Imperial code, at this moment the delegates of the Third International are in session. Verily, the mole of history has dug his tunnel well beneath the Kremlin walls.
These material surroundings of the Communist Congress are merely the outward expression; the visible embodiment, of the gigantic changes which have taken place in the world during the last ten or twelve years.
In the days of the First, and again in those of the Second Internationals, Tsarist Russia was the chief stronghold of world reaction. At the International Socialist Congresses, the Russian revolution was represented by emigrants, towards whom the majority of the opportunist leaders of European Socialism adopted an attitude of ironical condescension. The bureaucrats of Parliamentarism and Trade Unionism were filled with an unshakeable certainty that the miseries of a revolution were to be the lot only of semi-Asiatic Russia, while Europe was assured of a gradual, painless, peaceful development from Capitalism to Socialism.
But in August, 1914, the accumulated antagonisms of Imperialism tore to pieces the “peaceful” cloak of capitalism, with its Parliamenterism, its established “liberties,” and its legalised prostitution, political and otherwise. From the heights of civilization mankind found itself hurled into an abyss of terrifying barbarism and bloodstained savagery.
Notwithstanding that Marxist theory had foreseen and foretold the bloody catastrophe, the social-reformist parties were taken completely by surprise. The perspectives of peaceful development became smoke and dust. The opportunist leaders could find no work left for them but to call upon the toiling masses to defend the capitalist national State. On August 4, 1914, the Second International perished with dishonour.
From that moment, all true revolutionary heirs of the Marxian spirit placed before themselves the task of creating a new International – an International of unquenchable revolutionary struggle against capitalist society. The war let loose by Imperialism upset the balance if the whole of the capitalist world. All questions revealed themselves as revolutionary questions. The old revolutionary cobblers applied all their arts in order to preserve the balance of the old hopes, the old lies, the old organisations. All was of no avail. The war – not for the first time in history – showed itself the mother of the revolution. An imperialist war brought forth a proletarian revolution.
The honour of having taken the first step belongs to the Russian working class and its veteran, battle-scarred Communist Party. By its November revolution the Russian proletariat not only opened the gates of the Kremlin to the representatives of the international proletariat, but also laid the foundation stone for the building of the Third International.
The revolutions in Germany, Austria and Hungary; the stormy tide of the Soviet movement and of civil war that has poured over Europe, crested by the martyrdom of Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and many thousands of nameless heroes; these have shown that the paths of Europe are not other than those of Russia. The unity of method in the struggle for Socialism, revealed by practice, has laid the ideal foundations for the creation of a Communist International, while, at the same time, it has rendered impossible the postponement of a Communist Congress.
At this moment, that Congress is sitting within the walls of the Kremlin. We are witnesses of and participants in one of the greatest events in the history of the world.
The working class of the whole world has wrested the most impregnable fortress of all – that of former Imperial Russia – from its enemies. On it as its base, it is uniting its forces for the last decisive battle.
What happiness – to live, and fight at such a time!
Last updated on: 27.12.2006