Comrade Zinoviev

The Enlarged Executive: Eleventh Day of Session

Concluding Speech

(23 June 1923

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 52, 23 July 1923, p. 549.
On-line Publication: Zinoviev Internet Archive, October 2021.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

June 23, 1923

Comrade Zinoviev, who was greeted with prolonged and hearty cheers, said:

I believe you all feel in common with me that this has been one of the most fruitful sessions of the Communist International, and that its importance was equal to that of a Congress. Our work was divided into two parts. First, the concrete situation in the different sections, and secondly, questions of principle for the entire International. Of the questions affecting the individual Sections, the most important ones were the Italian, the Norwegian and the Bulgarian question. With regard to the Italian question, we must now declare, after having, subjected our Italian Party to a fair amount of criticism, that our Party is after all the only hope for the revolutionary proletariat of Italy. At this point we think of our friend Bordiga, who is now languishing in jail, and of all the other Communist leaders who are fighting nobly at their posts and have saved the honour of the Italian working class. We do not know how our relations with the Italian Socialist Party are going to shape themselves. At any rate, we are prepared to do everything to achieve the unity of the Italian proletariat in the fight against the reaction. But our strong post is the Italian Communist Party, and notwithstanding some of its weaknesses and the differences which we have had with its leaders, we say with all our heart: Long live the Italian Communist Party!

Now we come to the Norwegian question. In Norway we have a kind of Labor Party, not like the English Labor Party which breathes the reformist spirit, but a Labor Party which, although organised on the same lines, is on the whole, impregnated with the Communist spirit. It is the duty of the Communist International to safeguard the broad basis of the Party and, at the same time, to purge it of all the survivals of Federalism. I hope that the resolutions adopted by us will contribute towards this end. With regard to the Bulgarian question, we have now to make the best of a severe lesson. We are now confronted with two tasks. The first one is that the severe lesson of the Bulgarian Party should not be lost on all the other Parties. Particularly the Czecho-Slovakian and the German Party must learn by this example. Secondly, we must help our Bulgarian Party in its present trials, so that it may speedily recover front its defeat, and with the least amount of losses.

At this Congress, we had to adopt a resolution, which defines our attitude towards religion. Hitherto, at all our meetings we almost never touched upon questions of this kind. We now do it for the reason that we still have to get rid of some of the traits inherited from the Second International. We need not be ashamed to confess that we have grown out of the lap of the Second International. But I hope that at this session, we will deal for the last time with questions of this kind, and that we have now disposed of all, or nearly all, the survivals of the Second International.

The most important result of this session is the political resolution on the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government. In nearly all the important sections this slogan has been well prepared for. Just today, I saw in the Humanité, that Comrade Renaud Jean was making propaganda in France for this very slogan, without our initiative. The conditions are ripe for the formulation of this slogan, and I hope that its realisation will be much quicker and more unanimous than has been the case with the United Front. With this slogan we will penetrate into new masses and create a new basis. The Bulgarian example furnishes the best illustration of the importance of this slogan. The Stambuliski Government has shown the impossibility of the peasantry, conducting an independent policy, that the peasantry must follow either the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. It is our principal task to educate the peasants and to convince them that they must join hands with us for the protection of their own interests.

We also discussed here, a way of transforming the psychology of our parties, of arousing in them the desire for power. It has always been the distinguishing feature of the Mensheviks, to refuse to take power at tne decisive moment and to declare that the bourgeoisie was the only class that should exercise power. There should be no room for such ideology in the Communist International. It is the historic mission of the working class to take the destinies of the world in its own hands.

A black spot has recently beclouded the political horizon. The Italian example was emulated in Bulgaria. For the present, the balance of forces is such, that the reaction dare not venture a direct assault against Soviet Russia. But let us not delude ourselves. If these black spots were to multiply, they would grow into a tremendous menace for Soviet Russia. Fascism would then pass from the minimum program to the maximum program, i.e. to an attack against Soviet Russia.

As against this, we have to record some encouraging facts which have occurred among the working class. The negotiations with the Transport Workers’ Unions are signs of the times. They prove the soundness of our judgement as to the situation of the Amsterdam International, and we hope that the session of the R.I.L.U., which is to commence in a few days, and to which we extend our heartiest greetings, will make the best use of these new factors. Some other symptoms are characteristic of the new trend among the working class. We are informed by our Czecho-Slovakian comrades that the Central Organ of the Social Democracy, one of the most reactionary parties of the Second International, has published a series of articles in favor of the United Front. It were really a miracle if such tendencies should not manifest themselves within the social democracy. Day by day, as the pressure of Fascism becomes stronger, these manifestations are bound to appear among the working class. We must fully appreciate these tendencies, and do our best to foster the idea of the United Struggle of the entire proletariat. This will bring into our ranks the whole of the working class and a large portion of the peasantry, and will accelerate the approach of the final struggle lor power.

For the first time we have a common feeling that the Communist International has become a militant organisation in practice, that we are right in saving that there is only one international world organisation of the proletariat, namely, the Communist International. For the aims of this world organisation we will fight, and we will conquer.