MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Events



Cold War

The ‘Cold War’ was the war waged by the U.S. against the Soviet Union and its allies and the workers’ movement, by means of economic pressure, selective aid, diplomatic manoeuvre, propaganda, assassination, low-intensity military operations and full-scale war from 1947 until the collapse of the USSR in 1991. The term was coined by the American political adviser and financier Bernard Baruch in April 1947 during a debate on the Truman Doctrine.

At a series of Conferences in Teheran, Moscow, Yalta and Potsdam between November 1943 and August 1945, Stalin, Churchill and US Presidents Roosevelt and Truman made an agreement dividing the world between "east" and "west". However Stalin proved unable to deliver his side of the bargain, with many countries such as Yugoslavia and Hungary refusing to accept the right-wing regimes imposed on them under the pact. Ultimately, it was the decision of the Greek Communist Party in October 1946, to defy Stalin and launch a campaign against British troops and US-backed Royalists still holding one-third of the country, that triggered the beginning of the "Cold War".

In late 1946 US President Harry Truman abruptly terminated aid to the Soviet Union and a policy paper written by George Kennan spelt out the strategy to be followed:

“... we have in Russia today a population which is physically and spiritually tired ... There are limits to the physical and nervous strength of people themselves. These limits are absolute ones and are binding even for the cruellest dictatorship. ... [thus the USSR could be] sensitive to contrary force ... and flexible in its reaction to political realities. [Thus the US should commit itself to] longterm, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies ... [through] the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points.”

In a speech on 12 March 1947, Truman proposed a new global role for the United States as “policeman of the world”. $400m of aid for Greece was followed up by the Marshall Plan and was virtually a declaration of war on the Soviet Union.

U.S. military power was combined with U.S. financial power to systematically destroy anti-capitalist, pro-worker movements and install right-wing, dictatorial governments wherever possible: – massive economic and military support to “friendly” governments in every part of the world, while economically isolating the USSR, China and Eastern Europe behind an ‘iron curtain’ (a term first used by Churchill in March 1946), backed up by a massive nuclear arsenal, and waging all-out covert war against the workers’ and national liberation movements.

Marshall Aid was used systematically to pressure governments and voters in countries like Britain, France and Italy into rejecting communism in exchange for aid, while Keynesian economic policies were used to provide welfare and jobs for the workers.

The most significant military actions of the Cold War were the invasion of Korea in July 1950 which led to three years of bitter warfare, the invasion of Vietnam which began in July 1955 leading to twenty years of warfare, ending in defeat for the U.S. in 1975. But altogether between the dropping of the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945, and the 11th September 2001 when the first blow at mainland USA was struck, the US bombed 21 different countries, installed right-wing, military governments in countless others and forced still more into submission by mounting blockades depriving unfriendly countries of trade.

The Cold War, in which the most powerful state the world had ever known waged an all-out war against the working class, using techniques ranging from thermonuclear extermination to bribery on a vast scale to MacCarthyite witchhunting, had a profound effect on politics during this period. Communism was fought for either with machine guns and Soviet support, or through ‘Mothers Clubs’ and other ‘front’ organisations where the participants pretended that they were not communists at all.

Although the Cold War continued up until the fall of the USSR, it was the Tet Offensive of January 1968 in Vietnam, which struck US bases in the heart of Saigon and dealt a mortal blow to the seeming invincibility of the US, which ended the dominance of anti-communism in the West.



Cologne Communist Trial (1852)

From October 4 to November 12, 1852; a trial of 11 members of the Communist League occured, tried by the Prussian Government. Held in prison for over 18 months before going to trial, the members of the party were charged with high treason on the basis of faked documents and false evidence, seven of the accused were sentenced to imprisonment in a fortress for terms from three to six years. The provocations of the Prussian police state against the international working-class movement were exposed by Marx and Engels (see Engels's article "The Late Trial at Cologne", and also Marx s pamphlet "Revelations about the Cologne Communist Trial"). The events at the trial caused the dissolution of the Communist League, and a general dampening of revolutionary activity. A decade latter, a revolutionary movement burst through the irons of police persecution in the form of the International.


Company promotion scandals (Germany, 1870s)

Scandals that occurred during the period of the intense floating of joint-stock companies in Germany in the beginning of the seventies of the 19th century. The promotion of these companies was accompanied by swindling and wild speculation in real estate and securities.


Congress of Berlin

The Congress of Berlin was held in June-July 1878 under the chairmanship of Bismarck. The Congress revised the Treaty of San Stefano (created in March 1878) which had ended the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78. [...]


Congress in Halle

See: Halle Party Congress


Congress of Peasants Deputies

April 13-17, 1917


Communist International, Congress of

First Congress (March 2-6, 1919)


Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Congress of

Fifteenth Congress


Communist Party of Russia: Extraordinary Seventh Congress

The Extraordinary Seventh Congress of the R.C.P.(B.), the Communist Party’s first Congress after the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, was held March 6-8, 1918 in the Taurida Palace in Petrograd to decide the question of concluding peace with Germany, over which a fierce internal controversy had sprung up within the Party.

Lenin and the members of the Central Committee who supported him were striving to bring Soviet Russia out of the imperialist war. The principles on which Lenin’s position was based were most fully expressed in his Theses on the Question of the Immediate Conclusion of a Separate and Annexationist Peace. The conclusion of the Brest peace was opposed by a group of “Left Communists” led by N. I. Bukharin. L. D. Trotsky took up a position opposed to the Left-Communists and in favour of peace, but disagreed with Lenin on how to implement such a position and not sow confusion into the ranks of the German communists. The “Left Communists”, who held leading posts in the Moscow, Petrograd, Urals and some other Party organisations, launched a violent campaign against Lenin’s policy. The Moscow Regional Bureau passed a resolution expressing distrust of the Party Central Committee and made what Lenin described as the “strange and monstrous”; that it would be expedient in the interests of international revolution to “accept the possibility of losing Soviet power”. The adventuristic slogans of the “Left Communists” were rejected by the majority of lower Party organisations. By the time the Congress took place Lenin’s policy of concluding peace enjoyed the support of the majority of Party organisations.

Such were the conditions in which the Congress assembled. Of the delegates attending the Congress 47 had a vote and 59 had a voice but no vote; they represented over 170,000 Party members, including members of the big Party organisations—Moscow, Petrograd, Urals and Volga Region. By the time the Congress opened the Party numbered nearly 300,000 members (50 per cent more than at the time of the Sixth Congress). But a considerable number of organisations were unable to send delegates because of the haste with which the Congress was assembled, or were unable to do so because of the temporary occupation of various parts of the country by the Germans.

The agenda and procedure were considered on March 5 at a preliminary meeting of delegates. At this first meeting the Congress approved the following agenda: report of the Central Committee, the question of war and peace; revision of the Programme and changing the name of the Party; organisational matters; election of the Central Committee.

Lenin directed all the work of the Congress. He delivered the Central Committee’s political report and the report on revision of the Programme and changing the name of the Party, and took part in discussing all questions on the agenda. Altogether he spoke 18 times.

After the Central Committee’s political report the leader of the “Left Communists” Bukharin delivered the second report, in which he upheld the adventuristic demand for war with Germany.

Eighteen delegates took part in the hard-hitting debate on the two reports. Lenin was supported by Y. M. Sverdlov, F. A. Sergeyev (Artyom), I. T. Smilga, the delegate from Yaroslavl Rozanova, and others. Some of the “Left Communists” were moved by the force of Lenin’s arguments to revise their position.

Having unanimously approved the Central Committee’s report, the Congress went on to discuss the resolution on war and peace. The Congress rejected the “Theses on the Present Situation”, which had been submitted as a resolution by the “Left Communists”. A signed vote was taken and by 30 votes to 12 with 4 abstentions Lenin’s resolution on the Brest peace was passed.

The Congress discussed the question of revising the Programme and changing the name of the Party. Lenin delivered a report on these subjects. The basis of his report was his “Rough Outline of the Draft Programme”, which had been handed round to the delegates at the beginning of the Congress. Lenin pointed out that the name of the Party should reflect its aims, and proposed renaming the Party the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and altering its Programme. The Congress voted unanimously in favour of Lenin’s resolution and approved his proposal for the name of the Party. The Congress elected a seven-man commission headed by Lenin to draw up the final version of the new Programme.

By a secret vote the Congress elected a Central Committee consisting of 15 members and 8 candidates. The “Left communists N. I. Bukharin, A. Lomov (G. I. Oppokov) and M. S. Uritsky, who were elected to the Central Committee, stated at the Congress that they would not work in the Central Committee, and did not begin work there for several months in spite of the insistent demands of the Central Committee.

The Extraordinary Fourth All-Russia Congress of Soviets, which was held soon afterwards (March 14-16), ratified the Peace Treaty of Brest.