G. Zinoviev

The Victory of the Communist International

(10 October 1922)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 87, 10 October 1922, pp. 655–656.
On-line Publication: Zinoviev Internet Archive, September 2020.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

I have just received from Rome the following telegram dated October 4th:

“The Italian Socialist Party, after expelling the reformist centrist block, reaffirms unanimously its adhesion to the Third International. – Maffi”

The telegram refers to the present Congress of the Italian Socialist Party in Rome in which, at last, the break between the reformists and the centrists on one side and the maximalists on the other has taken place. Comrade Maffi is one of the three comrades who were present at the Third Congress of the Communist International and represented till now the small fraction of the Communist International in the Socialist Party of Italy. They seem at the present time to have conquered the whole party, at last cleansed of all avowed reformists and centrists.

At the time when we write, we do not know the details as yet. It is very probable that the Maximalist Party, even after the breach with the reformists, will find the greatest difficulties before it becomes a true Communist Party. The acceptance of the 21 conditions of the Communist International will be brought before the Italian Maximalists. The Italian question will probably be debated most carefully before the Fourth World Congress. At any rate the events which took place within the Socialist Party of Italy are of great importance for the whole International, the great moral victory of the Communist International leaves no doubt.

The I.S.P. went through two hard years of errors before it adopted the right way which the Communist International had long shown it. During these two years the bourgeoisie, in league with the reformists, inflicted a severe blow to the Italian proletariat. The position of the Italian working class has been greatly weakened as a result of those mistakes of the Socialist Party. But with the honest desire to correct those mistakes, all may be well again.

Let us recall the basic facts. In 1919 the I.S.P., under the influence of the masses, was one of the first parties to signify their adhesion to the Third International. The reformists with Turati and D’Aragona at their head did not dare to oppose this decision. In 1920 a large Italian delegation came to Moscow. In it were the future Communist leaders, Bordiga and Bombacci, as well as the chief leaders of the reformists, D’Aragona, Dugoni and Company, and the leader, of the maximalists, Serrati.

The whole delegation at first unanimously accepted the Communist International. It is only towards the end of their stay in Russia that D’Aragona and Company came out openly with the reformist program. The first difference of opinion with Serrati and his group became apparent at the Second Congress of the Third International. D’Aragona and Company returned to Italy and began there a pernicious campaign against Soviet Russia and the C.I.

In the fall of 1920 a most important movement appeared in Italy which finally took form in the occupation of plants and factories by the workers. At the most decisive moment, the reformists betrayed the working class. The bourgeoisie celebrated its victory. Serrati and his adherents, instead of overthrowing the treacherous reformists, attempted to defend them.

The Communists were too weak to take an independent stand. The bourgeoisie had won its first great victory over the proletariat. The offensive of capital developed. Fascism became daily more, arrogant. The leaders of tne I.S.P. sank lower and lower. It became apparent at that time that the international working class movement had become weakened. The reformists gained power. Led by the reformists, the I.S.P. sank to an agreement with the Fascists The bitter cup of humiliation had been drunk to the dregs.

And now, after two years, the I.S.P. seems to have found the right way again. At the Leghorn Congress, the reformists presented only a small minority. Of 160 000 party members they counted only about 40,000. The mistakes of Serrati’s adherence made it possible for the reformists to become a respectable power. The vote in Rome gave 29,000 votes for the reformist-centrist bloc and 32,000 for the maximalists of the CI.

The reformists were supported by the trade union bureaucracy, by the cooperative officials, by the majority of the Parliamentary leaders and all the petty-bourgeois sympathizers. In the Summer of 1922, the reformist leaders believed their time to have come. Turati went to the king. The Parliamentary fraction declared that it no longer recognizes its subordination to the Central Committee. D’Aragona and other reformist trade union leaders openly broke the agreements of the trade unions with the I.S.P. The understanding between the reformists and Fascisti went on. The entrance of the reformists into a bourgeois government was openly discussed.

This overran the patience of the Socialist workers. The work of the young Communist Party of Italy has not been in vain. The eyes of the vanguard of class-conscious workers have been opened and the reformists finally driven out of the Socialist Party of Italy. The expulsion of the reformists was one of the most important of the 21 conditions which the Communist International had put up to the Italian as well as to other parties. Two years of defeats had been necessary to convince the Italian Socialists how justified were the demands of the Communist International.

Italy is not the greatest country of the working class movement. But certain tendencies, especially characteristic for the international working class movement, appear with unusual clearness m Italy. This fact may be explained in that this country has always stood objectively next to a possible revolution. The counter-revolutionary role of the Second International has nowhere been so apparent as in Italy. D’Aragona, the leader of the Italian reformists, declared recently in the heat of debate:

“We reformists have nevertheless accomplished our purpose. We remained in the party to prevent that it go the way of revolution. We have been successful. The revolution has been avoided, and Italy spared the horrors of a civil war.”

Never before has a reformist stated so openly why the reformists remained in the ranks of the Socialist Party. [1]

The Italian example also reveals the danger of the vacillations of those honest Socialists who up to now could not accept a final break with the reformists and half-reformists and are often convinced that the 21 conditions of the C.I. are a result of dogmatism and unnecessary impatience.

We told the members of the Independent Social Democratic Party in Halle that they would again fall into the nets of the Scheidemann Social Democracy if they did not accept the 21 conditions of the Communist International. This prophecy has been fulfilled. Two years ago the C.I. had declared to the Italian Socialist Party that they must either follow the traitors d’Aragona, Turati and others, or return to the ranks which the C.I. was pointing out to them. The whole working class International may now see that the C.I. was right.

The decision of the Rome Socialist Congress is a significant sign of the times. The labor movement of the world is proceeding forward in spite of all obstacles. One year, half a year ago, our enemies spoke of the “decline of the Communist International”. The class-conscious worker will now see that really revolutionary forces of the whole world are gathered only under the banner of the C.I.

The decision of the Rome Congress of the maximalists is a moral victory for our young Italian Communist Party. This young party is still suffering from many of the sicknesses of the growing period. But this party has done much for the Italian labor movement. Its splendid, heroic work accomplished a very responsible task and saves the honor of the Italian working class movement.

We wish success to all honest and earnest adherents of Communism in Italy.

The way of the Italian proletariat is difficult and thorny, but the most difficult has been accomplished. The reformists, the agents of the bourgeoisie will be defeated in Italy also. Their mask will be thrown down. Better days are coming for the Italian working class movement.

We hope that the Italian example will be a lesson to the revolutionary proletariat of all countries. We especially advise the French Communist Party, meeting in Congress on the 15th of this month in Paris, that they think long and clearly about it. I here is only one way open to all workers fighting against capital, a way over temporary retreats, over small and large mistakes, over partial defeats.



1. To our French comrades: The declaration of D’Aragona should give food for thought to our French comrades. They will then readily understand why such gentleman as Raoul Verfeuil, Fabre and Company have remained so long in the French Communist Party.

Last updated: 3 December 2020