G. Zinoviev

The IV. World Congress

(January 1923)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 1, 3 January 1923, pp. 1–2.
On-line Publication: Zinoviev Internet Archive, January 2021.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The IV. Congress of the Communist International made a gigantic stride on the way to the transformation of the Comintern from an alliance of separate parties into a really united International Communist Party. The IV. Congress has most successfully defined the tactical resolutions of the previous congresses, especially of the III. Congress, and has determined the manner of their application to the present situation; it has further dealt with communist tactics in each separate country, with the variation of the work in accordance with the conditions prevailing in the various countries. At the same time the IV. Congress undertook the first great step towards formulating general program of the Comintern.

This was the chief task of the IV. Congress.

The Comintern has greatly increased in extent and power. At the IV. Congress 65 delegations were present (at the III. Congress 52). The greater mass of the work was done in the commissions and sections. Three quarters of the essential activity of the congress consisted of conferences held by the various parties, in the presence of representatives of tile most important brother Parties, for the discussion of their internal affairs, and for the passing of resolutions founded on the experience of the advanced workers of the whole world. The greatest work of the Comintern lies in having accomplished this.

It marks the essential character of the IV. Congress.

The United Front

The IV. Congress conclusively formulated the views of the Comintern with regard to the united front tactics in general and the workers’ government in particular. The III. Congress merely opened up these questions in a general form, and issued the watchword: “To the masses!” The executive Committee and its two enlarged sessions first called into existence the tactics of the united front. The IV. Congress has overcome the last obstacles in the way of successfully carrying out these tactics, and characterizes the united front as a slogan for a whole period. The united front tactics encountered the greatest opposition in the Latin countries, in France, Italy, and Spain. The traditions of the labor movement in these countries at first caused the real nature of these new and complicated tactics to be incomprehensible. The IV. Congress noted with much satisfaction the declarations of the Spanish, French, and Italian comrades, from which was to be seen that the United front tactics are beginning to achieve notable results in their countries. After the IV. Congress the Comintern is in a position to carry through “as one man” the united front tactics the tactics forming the key to the present situation – in complete comradeship and on an international scale.

The Unity of The Trade Union Movement

The IV. Congress emphasized with special stress and decision the importance of unity in the trade union movement. Although at one time there were many comrades, embittered by the treachery of the Amsterdamers, who let their feelings run away with them and who declared: “We are not afraid of a split in the trade unions”, the IV. Congress now distinctly declares to the contrary: “We fear the split in the trade unions, we do not want it, we shall not permit it”. It is the leaders of the Amsterdam and Second Internationals who want the split. Objectively considered, they fulfil a special task of the bourgeoisie with their eagerness for a split. The Amsterdamers and the leaders of the Second International feel that the ground is slipping from beneath their feet. They know that the future belongs to the communists. And before they leave the trade unions, before they abandon their places to the communists, they at least want to slam the door behind them with such violence that all the window panes rattle. They want to leave nothing but the debris of the trade unions for the communists. Therefore the Comintern must exert every effort to save the unity of the trade unions. At the IV. Congress comrade Rosmer said that the Comintern saved the labor movement in the year 1920 when it successfully opposed the “left” tendencies to leave the trade unions. This is correct. In our opinion the IV. Congress has saved the international labor movement for the second time by issuing the slogan: “Maintain the unity of the trade unions under all circumstances”.

The IV. Congress brought about an approach to nearer relations with the best elements of syndicalism: with the [text missing] communist syndicalists, and the elements closely connected [with] them. The IV. Congress made slight organi[sational con]cessions to these syndicalists in consideration [text missing] they represent considerable masses of really s[text missing] [revolu]zionary French workers. These are at present [text missing]old French traditions and by the weakness of the French communist party, from adopting the correct attitude in the question of the relations between party and trade unions. If we stand for the united front, we must do our utmost to preserve the unity of the best syndicalist dements. This has been attained, and is another point of no little value which has been gained by the IV. Congress.

The Purification of the International C.P.

The IV. Congress was obliged to spend much time in liquidating the relics of social democracy, for all parties belonging to the Comintern have not yet succeeded in getting rid of these. No doubt much malicious joy will be felt in some quarters, that after the Comintern has existed for four years, we are still obliged to occupy the time of our congress with such a question as that of freemasonry. At the time of the second congress of the Comintern, Serrati proposed that we should include, as a 22nd condition, one forbidding members of our party from being freemasons. At that time I replied to Serrati that we were just as unable to include such a special condition in our statutes as we were unable to make special mention of the fact that it was not permitted to extract handkerchiefs from strange pockets. Alas, we were much too optimistic Some of the parties joining us brought with them the whole of the social democratic incumbrances. The greater the number of old social democrats who came over to us, the more difficult it became to organize a real communist party in the country in question. This was also the case with our French brother party. There we suddenly won over a great majority of the old party. The old party belonged to the second International at one time, and this majority brought with it not only social democratic prejudices, but also problems of freemasonry. There is no use attempting to disguise the fact that the IV. Congress of the Comintern had to occupy itself with the “problem’’ of freemasonry. We are however convinced that the Comintern will not be obliged to return to this and similar questions.

Almost all the larger parties of the Comintern came under the review of the congress, and especially before its commissions. The congress helped the French party to overcome the old traditions of parliamentarism and centrism. The congress aided the Italian communists in their task of establishing unity with that section of the old socialist party which deserted communism at Leghorn, and which returned to the ranks of the Comintern after bitter disappointments and severe lessons. The congress helped the Norwegian party to settle with the remains of semi-syndicalism, semi-reformism, with federalist principles of organization, and with the social democratic intellectuals. The congress aided the American comrades in creating the right relations between the illegal party and the legal mass movement. The congress joined with the American comrades in emphasizing with all possible force the need for the formation of a broad legal labor party (after the type of the English Labor Party). The Czecho-Slovakian comrades, who can boast of great success, are helped by the congress to overcome the semi-syndicalist danger just at the moment when this danger is beginning to arise. The congress helped the Spanish comrades to find the right way to win over the masses from the irreconcilable anarcho-syndicalists and assisted the Yugoslavian comrades, by efficient advice, to carry on the fight against the bourgeoisie, etc. etc.

Capital threatens a Siege

The IV. Congress established with perfect certainty the fact that in a number of countries the workers are confronted with an approaching state of siege and White Terror. Fascism may before long become an international phenomenon. The IV. Congress recognizes this clearly. But it does not take a stereotype view. It is aware that a new page of history may be turned to-morrow, and that there are at least some countries (England, France), where episodal rebirth of democratic pacifist illusions is very well possible.

On to the land

The IV. Congress laid down in detail the tactics of the Comintern in the agrarian question. The congress completely rejected the crude Marxism which is of the opinion, in accordance With the traditions of the “good old’’ social democracy, that the communists should not concern themselves too much with the peasantry. The congress was also obliged to note another aberration – the idea that all peasants are the same, that they are all “agricultural workers”; and do not differ in any way from the workmen in the factories and workshops.

The Negroes in our midst

The Negroes were represented for the first time at the IV. Congress, and they brought reports full of interest to us. The IV. Congress created an exhaustive program of action for the parties and revolutionary organizations of the Near and Far East, and in this question it was only necessary for the IV. Congress to put m more concrete and definite form the resolutions of the II. World Congress. The work to be executed will be of tremendous practical significance.

Towards the United World Party

The IV. Congress has at last altered the structure of the leading organ of the Comintern. Every vestige of federalism in the structure of the Executive Committee of the Comintern has been laid aside. From now onwards the congress itself will elect the Executive Committee, and the IV. Congress has determined that this committee is to be a real central committee of the International Communist Party.


The IV. Congress was a gigantic university for us and for all participators. All advanced workers in the world should acquaint themselves with the magnificent work done by the 4. congress. The path of the Comintern was outlined at the 4. congress with a care, and clarity and distinctness hitherto unknown. A few years more of such work, and the Comintern will form such a solid foundation of workers’ parties of the world that it will be able to take up the fight, with the fullest confidence, against every attack of reaction and against every attack of international Fascism. At the 4. congress we felt, more than ever before, that the international community of communist workers lias joined hands, and will not retreat, even in face of the powers of hell.

Last updated on 5 May 2021