MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations



Coalition Provisional Government

The coalition Provisional Government was formed as a result of a crisis caused by a note which the Minster of Foreign Affairs (Milyukov) had sent to the Allied governments on April 18 (May 1), 1917; confirming the Provisional Government's readiness to honour all the treaties which the tsarist government had concluded with Britain and France, which meant a continuation of World War I with the intention of destroying Germany and Austria, with the annexation of their outlying territories and the division of their overseas colonies.

Massive spontaneous demonstrations of workers and soldiers erupted against the continuation of war, which reached a head on April 20 and 21 (May 3 and 4). The Provisional Government accepted the resignation of Foreign Minister Milyukov and War Minister Guchkov, and made a proposal to the Petrograd Soviet to form a coalition government, while the war raged on.

Despite its decision of March 1 (14) forbidding members of the Soviet to join the Provisional Government, the Soviet's Executive Committee, at a special meeting held on the night of May 1 (14), accepted the proposal of the Provisional Government. At the preliminary meetings of the party groups in the Soviets, the Bolsheviks were the only group to come out against it. The decision to have representatives of the Soviet join the government was carried by 44 votes to 19 with two abstentions. A commission authorised to negotiate the terms for forming a coalition government was elected, consisting of:

Chkheidze, Tsereteli, Dan, Bogdanov – Mensheviks;
Stankevich, Bramson – Trudoviks;
Gots, Chernov – SRs;
Yurenev – member of the Inter-District group;
Sukhanov – independent Social-Democrat.

On the evening of May 2 (15) an emergency meeting of the Petrograd Soviet was called at which the action of the Executive Committee was approved by a majority vote. After the negotiations an agreement was reached on May 5 (18) for the distribution of posts in the new government as a result of which 6 Socialist ministers were to join the cabinet:

Kerensky (SR) – War and Naval Minister,
Skobelev (M) – Labour Minister,
Chernov (SR) –Minister of Agriculture,
Pesheklionov (PS) – Minister of Food Supply,
Tsereteli (M) – Minister of Post and Telegraph,
Pereverzev (~SR) – Minister of Justice.

On the evening of May 5(18) the Petrograd Soviet, after hearing Skobelev's report on the results of the negotiations with the Provisional Government, decided to have its representatives join the government on condition that they were answerable and accountable to the Soviet, and expressed full confidence in the new government. The coalition provisional government replaced the former Contact Commission



Those who actively support the interests of the working-class as a whole, without any kind of prejudice. Communists live to unite workers, instead of divide them along imaginery lines, whether based on gender, nationality, race, or ideology.

"In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole?

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.

They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.

"They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement.

"The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only:

(1) In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality.

(2) In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.

"The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the lines of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.

"The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.

"The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer.

"They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.

Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels
Manifesto of the Communist Party
Chpt 2: Proletarians and Communists

See also: Communism (the political system)

Historical Development: The first Communist program was defined in feudalist England in the 1500s, by Thomas More, in his work Utopia (1516). It was a nostalgic and idealist look to primitive communism, seeing those social relations as far superior to the feudalist system of gross inequality and extreme oppression. With the idea of a Utopian society, early Communists believed that they needed only to convince the aristocracy of the possibility of this world, and it could be achieved. Over the next two hundred years communist practice slightly evolved; instead of demanding solely for the political rights of the oppressed, Utopian Communists focused on science a little further, and began to demand a change in the existing social conditions of humanity.

It was not simply class privileges that were to be abolished, but class distinctions themselves. A Communism, ascetic, denouncing all the pleasures of life, Spartan, was the first form of the new teaching. Then came the three great Utopians: Saint-Simon, to whom the middle-class movement, side by side with the proletarian, still had a certain significance; Fourier and Owen, who in the country where capitalist production was most developed, and under the influence of the antagonisms begotten of this, worked out his proposals for the removal of class distinction systematically and in direct relation to French materialism.

One thing is common to all three. Not one of them appears as a representative of the interests of that proletariat which historical development had, in the meantime, produced. Like the French philosophers, they do not claim to emancipate a particular class to begin with, but all humanity at once. Like them, they wish to bring in the kingdom of reason and eternal justice, but this kingdom, as they see it, is as far as Heaven from Earth, from that of the French philosophers.

For, to our three social reformers, the bourgeois world, based upon the principles of these philosophers, is quite as irrational and unjust, and, therefore, finds its way to the dust-hole quite as readily as feudalism and all the earlier stages of society. If pure reason and justice have not, hitherto, ruled the world, this has been the case only because men have not rightly understood them. What was wanted was the individual man of genius, who has now arisen and who understands the truth. That he has now arisen, that the truth has now been clearly understood, is not an inevitable event, following of necessity in the chains of historical development, but a mere happy accident. He might just as well have been born 500 years earlier, and might then have spared humanity 500 years of error, strife, and suffering.

We saw how the French philosophers of the 18th century, the forerunners of the Revolution, appealed to reason as the sole judge of all that is. A rational government, rational society, were to be founded; everything that ran counter to eternal reasons was to be remorselessly done away with. We saw also that this eternal reason was in reality nothing but the idealized understand of the 18th century citizen, just then evolving into the bourgeois. The French Revolution had realized this rational society and government.

But the new order of things, rational enough as compared with earlier conditions, turned out to be by no means absolutely rational. The state based upon reason completely collapsed. Rousseau's Contrat Social had found its realization in the Reign of Terror, from which the bourgeoisie, who had lost confidence in their own political capacity, had taken refuge first in the corruption of the Directorate, and, finally, under the wing of the Napoleonic despotism. The promised eternal peace was turned into an endless war of conquest. The society based upon reason had fared no better.

The antagonism between rich and poor, instead of dissolving into general prosperity, had become intensified by the removal of the guild and other privileges, which had to some extent bridged it over, and by the removal of the charitable institutions of the Church. The "freedom of property" from feudal fetters, now veritably accomplished, turned out to be, for the small capitalists and small proprietors, the freedom to sell their small property, crushed under the overmastering competition of the large capitalists and landlords, to these great lords, and thus, as far as the small capitalists and peasant proprietors were concerned, became "freedom from property". The development of industry upon a capitalistic basis made poverty and misery of the working masses conditions of existence of society. Cash payment became more and more, in Carlyle's phrase, the sole nexus between man and man. The number of crimes increased from year to year. Formerly, the feudal vices had openly stalked about in broad daylight; though not eradicated, they were now at any rate thrust into the background. In their stead, the bourgeois vices, hitherto practiced in secret, began to blossom all the more luxuriantly. Trade became to a greater and greater extent cheating. The "fraternity" of the revolutionary motto was realized in the chicanery and rivalries of the battle of competition. Oppression by force was replaced by corruption; the sword, as the first social lever, by gold. The right of the first night was transferred from the feudal lords to the bourgeois manufacturers. Prostitution increased to an extent never head of. Marriage itself remained, as before, the legally recognized form, the official cloak of prostitution, and, moreover, was supplemented by rich crops of adultery.

The solution of the social problems, which as yet lay hidden in undeveloped economic conditions, the Utopians attempted to evolve out of the human brain. Society presented nothing but wrongs; to remove these was the task of reason. It was necessary, then, to discover a new and more perfect system of social order and to impose this upon society from without by propaganda, and, wherever it was possible, by the example of model experiments. These new social systems were foredoomed as Utopian; the more completely they were worked out in detail, the more they could not avoid drifting off into pure phantasies.

Frederick Engels
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

By the middle of the 1800s, a materialist conception of Communist practice was created by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Arising from the outstanding advances in science and technology, which had created the very beginning of the capitalist world system, Marx and Engels could see that history is the movement of class struggles and class cooperation. Marx and Engels explained that workers must unite to be able to achieve a worldwide revolution against the bourgeois class, and thus establish a socialist society. The first successful workers revolution ever carried forward, in part by Communists, was the Paris Commune.

In the later years of Engels, while the writings and ideas of Marxism were really just beginning to spread throughout the world, Communist practice was not advancing as rapidly. Social Democracy prevailed as the leading method of socialism in most countries, i.e. a compromise with bourgeois governments to achieve reforms for the proletariat through existing bourgeois institutions. Notable leaders of social democracy were August Bebel and Karl Kautsky, the latter of who, after Engels death, was considered the leading proponent of Marxism in the world.

The outbreak of the First World War became a defining moment for Communists throughout the world. The Social-Democratic movement took a social-chauvinist position, supporting their own governments in fighting the workers of other nations. A small minority of workers stood up not only in opposition to the war, but preached that soldiers take their rifles and use them on their own governments – thus was the practice of the Communists, militant parties in support of the interests of the working class as a whole. The leading Communists of this period were Rosa Luxemburg , Karl Liebknecht, and Vladimir Lenin . Thereafter, the ranks of social democracy would quickly dwindle, while Communists around the world slowly began to grow.

"The fundamental controversial question around which everything else centered was this: whether or not we should struggle for power; whether or not we should assume power. This alone is ample proof that we were not then dealing with a mere episodic difference of opinion but with two tendencies of the utmost principled significance. The first and principal tendency was proletarian and led to the road of world revolution. The other was "democratic," i.e., petty bourgeois, and led, in the last analysis, to the subordination of proletarian policies to the requirements of bourgeois society in the process of reform. These two tendencies came into hostile conflict over every essential question that arose throughout the year 1917."

Leon Trotsky
The Lessons of October

After the success of the October Socialist Revolution in Russia, led by the Bolshevik party , Communist practice gained international renown. In 1918 the Bolshevik Party changed their name to Communist Party, the first political organization to do so since the Communist League. In 1919 the Communist International (Comintern) was founded, and as a precondition for membership all national sections of the Comintern (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Spain, etc.) had to change their name to "Communist," thus moving forward towards distinguishing themselves from the crumbling Social Democracy (and the Second International) of the past.

Around this time, other groups were also using the term Communist. Throughout Europe and Russia after the Russian revolution, various groups called themselves "left-Communists", "council-communists" etc., and remained outside the ranks of the Comintern.

With the majority of Communists following the Russian revolution, Communist practice changed in adherence to the particular conditions of the early 20th-century in Russia. The main, but short-lived, principal of this communist practice was the creation of a socialism based on Soviets , locally elected councils that for a short period ruled the Soviet government . With the onset of War Communism however, Russian Communist practice became much less democratic and instead a dictatorship of the Communist Party in order to suppress counterrevolutionaries. At the end of the Civil War, due to Lenin's steadfast struggles and lucid understanding, the government greatly relaxed its repressive controls once necessary during the Civil War, allowed many political parties into the government, and the NEP was introduced. A great many Communists, however, saw these moves as compromises to capitalism, and believed from their experiences in the Civil War that the dictatorship of the proletariat meant the dictatorship of the Communist Party above all others, both in times of peace and in war.

After the death of Lenin in early 1924, the consolidation of Stalin's faction inside the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Comintern started taking place. This reaction started to reverse and eventually smashed altogether the internal democracy of the Communist Party, soon almost all the the Party leadership that made the 1917 revolution were arrested. The understanding was that since the communists support the working class as a whole, there is no need for "so-called" democracy, no need for freedom of speech or the press, because the Communist party knows all and does all that is good for the working class. Simply stated, the Soviet Communist Party, and it's major counterpart International Left Opposition, "set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which they shaped and molded the proletarian movement."

The International Left Opposition, was organized to fight against Stalinism inside the CPSU and Comintern. Later organized as the Fourth International, many of their national sections would use the term Communist in their party names as well.

In 1949, after the Chinese revolution, Chinese Communist practice slightly deviated from the Stalinist norm, forming a different approach to the creation of a socialist economy, emphasized by the Great Leap Forward. These differences in building socialism would grow over the years, and by the early 1960s, when Khrushchev was leading the Soviet Union, the differences between Chinese Communist practice and Russian Communist practice became irreconcilable, thus marking a third distinct variation of Communist practice.

Today, all these variations, Maoist, Trotskyist, and Stalinist (in addition to some anarchists, etc.) continue to use Communist in their names.


Communist International (Comintern)

Also called the Third International, created by the Bolsheviks in March 1919, setting up Communist Parties, affiliated to the International, in almost every country in the world. See History of the Communist International.

The Communist International degenerated after the Fourth Congress when in November 1922, Stalin came to power in the Soviet Union and the Comintern was disbanded in 1943 by Stalin, as a gesture of conciliation with the Allied powers. See Final Declaration of the Comintern.

See also: Congresses of the Communist International


Communist Labor Party of America


The Communist Labor Party (CLP) traces its roots to the organized Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party of America, which emerged early in 1919. Through organized bloc voting in branches affiliated with the party’s Foreign Language Federations, the favored candidates of the Left Wing Section won a majority of the 15 seats on the party’s governing National Executive Committee in the election of 1919. Facing domination by an aggressive Communist NEC, the outgoing NEC (dominated by the “Regular” faction of the party and guided by James Oneal and Executive Secretary Adolph Germer) cited voting irregularities by branches of the party’s Foreign Language Federations and invalidated the result. Suspensions and expulsions of a major part of the SPA’s membership immediately followed, including suspensions of the Russia Federation of the Socialist Party, Lithuanian Socialist Federation, Polish Federation, Lettish (Latvian) Federation, South Slavic Socialist Federation, and Ukrainian Federation of the Socialist Party in addition to the entire state socialist parties of Michigan, Massachusetts, and Ohio. In New York state the State Executive Committee suspended and “reorganized” Left Wing locals and branches representing nearly half the state’s membership.

In the interim, the suspended Foreign Language Federations and idiosyncratic Socialist Party of Michigan determined to move immediately to the formation of a Communist Party of America and issued a call for a founding convention to be held in Chicago on September 1, 1919. Alfred Wagenknecht, c. 1918

Most of the English-speaking Left Wingers, headed by NEC members Alfred Wagenknecht and L.E. Katterfeld and including prominent New York journalist John “Jack” Reed determined to fight on in an attempt to win control of the Socialist Party for the Left Wing. However, with many Left Wingers already abandoning this approach and the “Regular” faction firmly in control of a majority of the states electing delegates to the Emergency National Convention in Chicago scheduled for Aug. 30, 1919, the fight was essentially over before it began. The Credentials Committee of this convention was easily won by adherents of the Oneal-Germer “Regulars,” who froze out Left Wing-oriented delegations from California, Oregon, and Minnesota. Roughly two dozen delegates pledging allegiance to the Left Wing Section bolted the convention to meet downstairs in a previously rented room, along with about 50 other Left Wingers from around the country. These latter delegates constituted themselves as the Communist Labor Party of America on August 31, 1919.

Executive Secretary of the CLP was Alfred Wagenknecht of Ohio. The five member National Executive Committee consisted of Max Bedacht, Alexander Bilan, L.E. Katterfeld, Jack Carney, and Edward Lindgren. Initial headquarters were maintained in Cleveland, before being moved to New York City in December of 1919. The party moved to the underground in response to mass arrests and deportations conducted by the US Justice Department and its Bureau of Investigation, guided by Special Assistant to the Attorney General J. Edgar Hoover. These raids and the move to the underground virtually destroyed the organization, which only existed in skeletal form in the first half of 1920, although publication of its legal newspaper, The Toiler, was maintained.

On April 18, 1920, Executive Secretary C.E. Ruthenberg exited the Communist Party of America and along with his factional supporters (such as Jay Lovestone and Isaac Edward Ferguson) constituted themselves as the “real” CPA with a view to merger with the CLP. This organizational marriage took place at a secret “Joint Unity Convention” held at Bridgman, Michigan from May 26-31. The resulting organization, also organized along underground lines to avoid arrest, was known as the United Communist Party of America (UCP).

The Communist International to which the UCP and CPA both pledged their allegiance sought to end duplication, competition, and hostility between the two communist parties and insisted on a merger into a single organizatino. This was eventually effected in May 1921 at a secret gathering held at the Overlook Mountain House hotel near Woodstock, New York. The resulting unified group was also known as the Communist Party of America, which morphed into the Workers Party of America (December 1921), which changed its name in 1925 to Workers (Communist) Party and to Communist Party USA in 1929.

See also: Communist Party documents section on the Early American Marxism Archive

Written by Tim Davenport


Communist League

The first Communist organization of the international proletariat created in June 1847. Marx and Engels helped to work out the organizational principles of the League and wrote its programme – the Manifesto of the Communist Party, published in February 1848.

The Communist League was the predecessor of the International Working Men's Association (The First International). The league existed until November 1852, its leaders deciding to disband it immediately after the Cologne Trials.

A congress of the League of the Just opened in London on June 2, 1847. Engels was in attendance as delegate for the League's Paris communities. (Marx couldn't attend for financial reasons.)

Engels had a significant impact throughout the congress -- which, as it turned out, was really the "inaugural Congress" of what became known as the Communist League. This organization was the first international proletarian organization. With the influence of Marx and Engels materialist socialism, the League's motto changed from "All Men are Brothers" to "Working Men of All Countries, Unite!"

"In the summer of 1847, the first league congress took place in London, at which W. Wolff represented the Brussels and I the Paris communities. At this congress the reorganisation of the League was carried through first of all. ...the League now consisted of communities, circles, leading circles, a central committee and a congress, and henceforth called itself the 'Communist League'."

Fredrick Engels
History of the Communist League

The Rules were drawn up with the participation of Marx and Engels, examined at the First Congress of the Communist League, and approved at the League's Second Congress in December 1847.

Article 1 of the Rules of the Communist League:

"The aim of the league is the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the rule of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society which rests on the antagonism of classes, and the foundation of a new society without classes and without private property."

The first draft of the Communist League Programme was styled as a catechism in the form of questions and answers. Essentially, the draft was authored by Engels. The original manuscript is in Engels's hand.

The League's official paper was to be the Kommunistische Zeifschrift, but the only issue produced was in September 1847 by a resolution of the League's First Congress. It was First Congress prepared by the Central Authority of the Communist League based in London. Karl Schapper was its editor.

The Second Congress of the Communist League was held at the end of November 1847 at London's Red Lion Hotel. Marx attended as delegate of the Brussels Circle. He went to London in the company of Victor Tedesco, member of the Communist League and also a delegate to the Second Congress. Engels again represented the Paris communities. Schapper was elected chairman of the congress, and Engels its secretary.

"I was working in London then and was a member of the communist Workers' Educational Society at 191 Drury Lane. There, at the end of November and the beginning of December 1847, members of the Central Committee of the Communist League held a congress. Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels came there from Brussels to present their views on modern communism and to speak about the Communists' attitude to the political and workers' movement. The meetings, which, naturally, were held in the evenings, were attended by delegates only... Soon we learned that after long debates, the congress had unanimously backed the principles of Marx and Engels..."

Friedrich Lessner

The Rules were officially adopted December 8, 1847.

Engels wrote, "All contradiction and doubt were finally set at rest, the new basic principles were unanimously adopted, and Marx and I were commissioned to draw up the Manifesto." This would become the Communist Manifesto.


Communist Party of Belorussia

Founded as component of Russian Communist Party December 30-31, 1918, with 17,800 members; led establishment of Belorussian Soviet republic January 1919; functioned as united organization with Lithuanian CP from February 1919 until 1920.


Communist Party of Estonia

Founded 1918 by Estonian section of RCP; led Estland Working People's Commune (Estonian Soviet republic) November 1918-January 1919; first congress November 1920 representing 700 members.


Communist Party of Finland

Founded in Moscow August 29, 1918, by members of Finnish Social Democratic Party left wing forced into exile by White Terror; helped found Comintern 1919.


Communist Party of German Austria

Founded November 3, 1918, in Vienna by Left Radical group that emerged from January 1918 strikes; 10,000 members in 1919. Never mounted a serious organizational or political challenge to the Socialist Party of Austria.


Communist Party of Germany (KPD)

Founded December 30, 1918, by Spartacus League with participation of International Communists of Germany it was called the Commnunist Party of German (Sparacus) until 1922 when it dropped the "S"; joined Comintern 1919; lost half its membership in 1919 split of ultra-left forces that later formed the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD); 78,000 members at time of fusion with USPD left wing in 1920.


Communist Party of Hungary

Founded November 24, 1918, in Budapest by returned members of Hungarian Communist Group in Russia, left-wing currents in Social Democratic Party, and other forces; fused with Social Democratic Party of Hungary to form SP March 1919, which led Hungarian revolutionary government March-July 1919; SP disintegrated; CP reorganized 1925.


The Communist Party of India

In the Indian communist movement, there are different views on exactly when the Indian communist party was founded. The date maintained as the foundation day by CPI is 26 December 1925. But the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which split-off from the CPI, claims that the party was founded in 1920.

The Communist Party of India was founded in Tashkent on October 17, 1920, soon after the Second Congress of the Communist International. The founding members of the party were M.N. Roy, Evelina Trench Roy (Roy's wife), Abani Mukherji, Rosa Fitingof (Abani's wife), Mohammad Ali (Ahmed Hasan), Mohammad Shafiq Siddiqui and M.P.B.T. Acharya.

On December 25, 1925 a communist conference was organized in Kanpur. Colonial authorities estimated that 500 persons took part in the conference. The conference was convened by a man called Satyabhakta. At the conference Satyabhakta argued for a 'national communism' and against subordination under Comintern. Being outvoted by the other delegates, Satyabhakta left both the conference venue in protest. The conference adopted the name 'Communist Party of India'. Groups such as LKPH dissolved into the unified CPI. The émigré CPI, which probably had little organic character anyway, was effectively substituted by the organization now operating inside India.

Soon after the 1926 conference of the Workers and Peasants Party of Bengal, the underground CPI directed its members to join the provincial Workers and Peasants Parties. All open communist activities were carried out through Workers and Peasants Parties.

The sixth congress of the Communist International met in 1928. In 1927 the Kuomintang had turned on the Chinese communists, which led to a review of the policy on forming alliances with the national bourgeoisie in the colonial countries. The Colonial theses of the 6th Comintern congress called upon the Indian communists to combat the 'national-reformist leaders' and to 'unmask the national reformism of the Indian National Congress and oppose all phrases of the Swarajists, Gandhists, etc. about passive resistance'. The congress did however some differentiation between the character of the Chinese Kuomintang and the Indian Swarajist Party, considering the latter as neither a reliable ally nor a direct enemy. The congress called on the Indian communists to utilize the contradictions between the national bourgeoisie and the British imperialists. The congress also denounced the WPP. The Tenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, July 3, 1929 – July 19, 1929, directed the Indian communists to break with WPP. When the communists deserted it, the WPP fell apart.

On March 20, 1929, arrests against WPP, CPI and other labour leaders were made in several parts of India, in what became known as the Meerut Conspiracy Case. The communist leadership was now put behind bars. The trial proceedings were to last for four years

As of 1934, the main centres of activity of CPI were Bombay, Calcutta and Punjab. The party had also begun extending its activities to Madras. A group of Andhra and Tamil students, amongst them P. Sundarayya, were recruited to the CPI by Amir Hyder Khan.

The party was reorganised in 1933, after the communist leaders from the Meerut trials were released. A central committee of the party was set up. In 1934 the party was accepted as the Indian section of the Communist International.

When Indian leftwing elements formed the Congress Socialist Party in 1934, the CPI branded it as Social Fascist.

In connection with the change of policy of the Comintern toward Popular Front politics, the Indian communists changed their relation to the Indian National Congress. The communists joined the Congress Socialist Party, which worked as the left wing of Congress. Through joining CSP the CPI accepted the CSP demand for Constituent Assembly, which it had denounced two years before. The CPI however analysed that the demand for Constituent Assembly would not be a substitute for soviets.

In July 1937, the first Kerala unit of CPI was founded at a clandestine meeting in Calicut. Five persons were present at the meeting, E.M.S. Namboodiripad, Krishna Pillai, N.C. Sekhar, K. Damodaran and S.V. Ghate. The first four were members of the CSP in Kerala. The latter, Ghate, was a CPI Central Committee member, who had arrived from Madras. Contacts between the CSP in Kerala and the CPI had begun in 1935, when P. Sundarayya (CC member of CPI, based in Madras at the time) met with EMS and Krishna Pillai. Sundarayya and Ghate visited Kerala at several times and met with the CSP leaders there. The contacts were facilitated through the national meetings of the Congress, CSP and All India Kisan Sabha.

In 1936-1937, the cooperation between socialists and communists reached its peak. At the 2nd congress of the CSP, held in Meerut in January 1936, a thesis was adopted which declared that there was a need to build 'a united Indian Socialist Party based on Marxism-Leninism'. At the 3rd CSP congress, held in Faizpur, several communists were included into the CSP National Executive Committee.

In Kerala communists won control over CSP, and for a brief period controlled Congress there.

Two communists, E.M.S. Namboodiripad and Z.A. Ahmed, became All India joint secretaries of CSP. The CPI also had two other members inside the CSP executive.

On the occasion of the 1940 Ramgarh Congress Conference CPI released a declaration called Proletarian Path, which sought to utilize the weakened state of the British Empire in the time of war and gave a call for general strike, no-tax, no-rent policies and mobilising for an armed revolution uprising. The National Executive of the CSP assembled at Ramgarh took a decision that all communists were expelled from CSP.

In July 1942, the CPI was legalised. Communists strengthened their control over the All India Trade Union Congress. At the same time, communists were politically cornered for their opposition to the Quit India Movement, which they opposed in line with the Stalinized Comintern policy of appeasing the Allies during the war.

CPI contested the Provincial Legislative Assembly elections of 1946 of its own. It had candidates in 108 out of 1585 seats. It won in eight seats. In total the CPI vote counted 666 723, which should be seen with the backdrop that 86% of the adult population of India lacked voting rights. The party had contested three seats in Bengal, and won all of them. One CPI candidate, Somanth Lahiri, was elected to the Constituent Assembly.

In 1946 the party launched the Tebhaga movement in Bengal, a militant campaign against feudalism.


The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (abbreviated CPI(M) or CPM

It has a strong presence in the states of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. As of 2008, CPI(M) is leading the state governments in these three states. The party emerged out of a split from the Communist Party of India in 1964. CPI(M) claimed to have 982,155 members in 2007.

CPI(M) emerged out of a division within the Communist Party of India (CPI). The undivided CPI had experienced a period of upsurge during the years following the Second World War. The CPI led armed rebellions in Telangana, Tripura and Kerala. However, it soon abandoned the strategy of armed revolution in favour of working within the parliamentary framework. In 1950 B.T. Ranadive, the CPI general secretary and a prominent representative of the radical sector inside the party, was demoted on grounds of left-adventurism.

The CPI(M) was born into a hostile political climate. At the time of the holding of its Calcutta Congress, large sections of its leaders and cadres were jailed without trial. Again on December 29-30, over a thousand CPI(M) cadres were arrested, and held in jail without trial. In 1965 new waves of arrests of CPI(M) cadres took place in West Bengal, as the party launched agitations against the rise in fares in the Calcutta Tramways and against the then prevailing food crisis. State-wide general strikes and hartals were observed on August 5, 1965, March 10-11, 1966 and April 6, 1966. The March 1966 general strike results in several deaths in confrontations with police forces.

Also in Kerala, mass arrests of CPI(M) cadres were carried out during 1965. In Bihar, the party called for a Bandh (general strike) in Patna on August 9, 1965 in protest against the Congress state government. During the strike, police resorted to violent actions against the organisers of the strike. The strike was followed by agitations in other parts of the state.

P. Sundaraiah, after being released from jail, spent the period of September 1965-February 1966 in Moscow for medical treatment. In Moscow he also held talks with the CPSU.

The Central Committee of CPI(M) held its first meeting on June 12-19 1966. The reason for delaying the holding of a regular CC meeting was the fact that several of the persons elected as CC members at the Calcutta Congress were jailed at the time. A CC meeting had been scheduled to have been held in Trichur during the last days of 1964, but had been cancelled due to the wave of arrests against the party. The meeting discussed tactics for electoral alliances, and concluded that the party should seek to form a broad electoral alliances with all non-reactionary opposition parties in West Bengal (i.e. all parties except Jan Sangh and Swatantra Party). This decision was strongly criticised by the Communist Party of China, the Party of Labour of Albania, the Communist Party of New Zealand and the radicals within the party itself. The line was changed at a National Council meeting in Jullunder in October 1966, were it was decided that the party should only form alliances with selected left parties.

Under the government of the Congress Party of Jawaharlal Nehru, independent India developed close relations and a strategic partnership with the Soviet Union. The Soviet government consequently wished that the Indian communists moderate their criticism towards the Indian state and assume a supportive role towards the Congress governments. However, large sections of the CPI claimed that India remained a semi-feudal country, and that class struggle could not be put on the back-burner for the sake of guarding the interests of Soviet trade and foreign policy. Moreover, the Indian National Congress appeared to be generally hostile towards political competition. In 1959 the central government intervened to impose President's Rule in Kerala, toppling the E.M.S. Namboodiripad cabinet (the sole non-Congress state government in the country).

Simultaneously, the relations between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China soured. In the early 1960s the Communist Party of China began criticising the CPSU of turning revisionist and of deviating from the path of Marxism-Leninism. Sino-Indian relations also deteriorated, as border disputes between the two countries erupted into the Indo-China war of 1962. During the war, a fraction of the Indian Communists backed the position of the Indian government, while other sections of the party claimed that it was a conflict between a socialist and a capitalist state, and thus took a pro-Chinese position. There were three factions in the party - "internationalists", "centrists", and "nationalists". Internationalists supported the Chinese stand whereas the nationalists backed India; centrists took a neutral view. Prominent leaders including S.A. Dange were in the nationalist faction. B. T. Ranadive, P. Sundarayya, P. C. Joshi, Basavapunnaiah, Jyoti Basu, and Harkishan Singh Surjeet were among those supported China. Ajoy Ghosh was the prominent person in the centrist faction. In general, most of Bengal Communist leaders supported China and most others supported India. Hundreds of CPI leaders, accused of being pro-Chinese were imprisoned. Some of the nationalists were also imprisoned, as they used to express their opinion only in party forums, and CPI's official stand was pro-China. Thousands of Communists were detained without trial. Those targeted by the state accused the pro-Soviet leadership of the CPI of conspiring with the Congress government to ensure their own hegemony over the control of the party.

In 1962 Ajoy Ghosh, the general secretary of the CPI, died. After his death, S.A. Dange was installed as the party chairman (a new position) and E.M.S. Namboodiripad as general secretary. This was an attempt to achieve a compromise. Dange represented the rightist fraction of the party and E.M.S. the leftist fraction.

At a CPI National Council meeting held on April 11, 1964, 32 Council members walked out in protest, accusing Dange and his followers of "anti-unity and anti-Communist policies".

The leftist section, to which the 32 National Council members belonged, organised a convention in Tenali, Andhra Pradesh July 7 to 11. In this convention the issues of the internal disputes in the party were discussed. 146 delegates, claiming to represent 100,000 CPI members, took part in the proceedings. The convention decided to convene the 7th Party Congress of CPI in Calcutta later the same year.

Marking a difference from the Dangeite sector of CPI, the Tenali convention was marked by the display of a large portrait of the Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong.

At the Tenali convention a Bengal-based pro-Chinese group, representing one of the most radical streams of the CPI left wing, presented a draft programme proposal of their own. These radicals criticised the draft programme proposal prepared by M. Basavapunniah for undermining class struggle and failing to take a clear pro-Chinese position in the ideological conflict between the CPSU and CPC.

After the Tenali convention the CPI left wing organised party district and state conferences. In West Bengal, a few of these meetings became battlegrounds between the most radical elements and the more moderate leadership. At the Calcutta Party District Conference an alternative draft programme was presented to the leadership by Parimal Das Gupta (a leading figure amongst far-left intellectuals in the party). Another alternative proposal was brought forward to the Calcutta Party District Conference by Azizul Haque, but Haque was initially banned from presenting it by the conference organisers. At the Calcutta Party District Conference 42 delegates opposed M. Basavapunniah’s official draft programme proposal.

The Calcutta Congress was held between October 31 and November 7, at Tyagraja Hall in southern Calcutta. Simultaneously, the Dange group convened a Party Congress of CPI in Bombay. Thus, the CPI divided into two separate parties. The group which assembled in Calcutta would later adopt the name 'Communist Party of India (Marxist)', in order to differentiate themselves from the Dange group. The CPI(M) also adopted its own political programme. P. Sundarayya was elected general secretary of the party.

In total 422 delegates took part in the Calcutta Congress. CPI(M) claimed that they represented 104,421 CPI members, 60% of the total party membership.

At the Calcutta conference the party adopted a class analysis of the character of the Indian state, that claimed the Indian big bourgeoisie was increasingly collaborating with imperialism.

Parimal Das Gupta’s alternative draft programme was not circulated at the Calcutta conference. However, Souren Basu, a delegate from the far-left stronghold Darjeeling, spoke at the conference asking why no portrait had been raised of Mao Tse-Tung along the portraits of other communist stalwarts. His intervention met with huge applauses from the delegates of the conference.

At this point the party stood at crossroads. There were radical sections of the party who were wary of the increasing parliamentary focus of the party leadership, especially after the electoral victories in West Bengal and Kerala. Developments in China also affected the situation inside the party. In West Bengal two separate internal dissident tendencies emerged, which both could be identified as supporting the Chinese line. In 1967 a peasant uprising broke out in Naxalbari, in northern West Bengal. The insurgency was led by hardline district-level CPI(M) leaders Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal. The hardliners within CPI(M) saw the Naxalbari uprising as the spark that would ignite the Indian revolution. The Communist Party of China hailed the Naxalbari movement, causing an abrupt break in CPI(M)-CPC relations. The Naxalbari movement was violently repressed by the West Bengal government, of which CPI(M) was a major partner. Within the party, the hardliners rallied around an All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries. Following the 1968 Burdwan plenum of CPI(M) (held on April 5-12, 1968), the AICCCR separated themselves from CPI(M). This split divided the party throughout the country. But notably in West Bengal, which was the centre of the violent radicalist stream, no prominent leading figure left the party. The party and the Naxalites (as the rebels were called) were soon to get into a bloody feud.

In Andhra Pradesh another revolt was taking place. There the pro-Naxalbari dissidents had not established any presence. But in the party organisation there were many veterans from the Telangana armed struggle, who rallied against the central party leadership. In Andhra Pradesh the radicals had a strong base even amongst the state-level leadership. The main leader of the radical tendency was T. Nagi Reddy, a member of the state legislative assembly. On June 15, 1968 the leaders of the radical tendency published a press statement outlining the critique of the development of CPI(M). It was signed by T. Nagi Reddy, D.V. Rao, Kolla Venkaiah and Chandra Pulla Reddy. In total around 50% of the party cadres in Andhra Pradesh left the party to form the Andhra Pradesh Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries, under the leadership of T. Nagi Reddy.


Communist Party of Latvia

Founded by Social Democracy of the Latvian Territory, which had affiliated to RSDLP in 1904 and was allied with Bolsheviks thereafter; led Latvian Soviet republic 1919; name changed to CP in March 1919; 7,500 members in 1919.


Communist Party of Lithuania

Founded August 1918 as component of RCP; held first conference October 1-3, 1918, representing 800 members; led Lithuanian Soviet republic December 1918-April 1919; functioned as united organization with Belorussian CP until 1920.


Communist Party of Switzerland

Revolutionary grouping that originated around Forderung newspaper; expelled from Swiss Social Democratic Party October-November 1918; known as the "old Communists"; claimed 1,200 members in Zurich 1919; fused with left wing of Social Democracy to form Swiss CP 1921.


Communist Party of the Netherlands

founded November 17, 1918; traced origin to formation in 1909 of Social Democratic Party (SDP) by ex-pelled left-wing members (Tribunists) of Social Democratic Workers Party; SDP adopted internationalist position during war and aligned with Zimmerwald Left; 1,000 members in late 1918; joined Comintem April 1919.


Communist Party of the Ukraine

Formed July 1918 as autonomous component of RCP with 4,000 members; grew out of RSDLP(B) of the Social Democracy of the Ukraine, which had led Ukrainian Soviet republic Jan-uary-February 1918.


Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD)

KAPD – initials of the Communist Workers Party of Germany, which consisted of “Left Communists” who split from the German Communist Party (KDP) in 1920 because of principled differences over participating in parliament, over work in the trade unions, and so on. This tendency was strongly tainted throughout its existence with anarcho-syndicalism. Beginning its political life with a membership of several tens of thousands, the KAPD lost its best elements within two or three years and became transformed into a sect, which remained hostile to the Comintern and to Soviet Russia. By 1922 it had dissolved, with many of its cadre recruited into various German nationalist organizations. Others retured to the KDP.


Communist Workers' Party of Poland

The precurser of the Polish Communist Party formed in 1918 by leaders of the SDKPiL and PPS-Lewica. Decimated by Stalin's purges and persecuted by the Nazis, in Stalin ordered it merged in 1948 with the PPS to create the major party of the Polish People's Republic, the Polish United Workers' Party (PZRP).


Congress of Soviets

See: All-Russian Congress of Soviets


Congress Socialist Party (CSP)

Founded in 1934 as a socialist caucus within the Indian National Congress. Its members rejected what they saw as the anti-rational mysticism of Mohandas Gandhi as well as the sectarian attitude of the Communist Party of India towards the Congress Party. Influenced by Fabianism as well as Marxism-Leninism, the CSP included advocates of armed struggle or sabotage (such as Jayprakash Narayan and Basawon Singh (Sinha) as well as those who insisted upon ahimsa or nonviolent resistance (such as Acharya Narendra Deva). The CSP advocated decentralized socialism in which co-operatives, trade unions, independent farmers, and local authorities would hold a substantial share of the economic power. As secularists, they hoped to transcend communal divisions through class solidarity. Some, such as Narendra Deva or Basawon Singh (Sinha), advocated a democratic socialism distinct from both Marxism and reformist social democracy. During the Popular Front period, the communists worked within CSP. Basawon Singh (Sinha) along with Yogendra Shukla were among the founder members of Congress Socialist Party from Bihar.

JP Narayan and Minoo Masani were released from jail in April 1934. Narayan convened a meeting in Patna on May 17, 1934, which founded the Bihar Congress Socialist Party. Narayan became general secretary of the party and Acharya Narendra Deva became president. The Patna meeting gave a call for a socialist conference which would be held in connection to the Congress Annual Conference. At this conference, held in Bombay October 22-October 23, 1934, they formed a new All India party, the Congress Socialist Party. Narayan became general secretary of the party, and Masani joint secretary. The conference venue was decorated by Congress flags and a portrait of Karl Marx. In the new party the greeting 'comrade' was used. Masani mobilised the party in Bombay, whereas Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya and Puroshottam Trikamdas organised the party in other parts of Maharashtra. Ganga Sharan Singh (Sinha) was among the prominent leaders of the Indian National Congress Party as among the founders of the Congress Socialist Party. The constitution of the CSP defined that the members of CSP were the members of the Provisional Congress Socialist Parties and that they were all required to be members of the Indian National Congress. Members of communal organizations or political organizations whose goals were incompatible with the ones of CSP, were barred from CSP membership. The Bombay conference raised the slogan of mobilising the masses for a Constituent Assembly.

In 1936 the Communists joined CSP, as part of the Popular Front strategy of the ComIntern. In some states, like Kerala and Orissa, communists came to dominate CSP. In fact communists dominated the entire Congress in Kerala through its hold of CSP at one point.

In 1936, the CSP began fraternal relations with the Lanka Sama Samaja Party of Ceylon. In 1937 the CSP sent Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya on a speaking tour of the island.

The CSP had adopted Marxism in 1936 and their third conference in Faizpur they had formulated a thesis that directed the party to work to transform the Indian National Congress into an anti-imperialist front.

During the summer of 1938 a meeting took place between the Marxist sector of the Anushilan movement and the CSP. Present in the meeting were Jayaprakash Narayan (leader of CSP), Jogesh Chandra Chatterji, Tribid Kumar Chaudhuri and Keshav Prasad Sharma. The Anushilan marxists then held talks with Acharya Narendra Deva, a former Anushilan militant. The Anushilan marxists decided to join CSP, but keeping a separate identity within the party. With them came the Anushilan Samiti, not only the Marxist sector. The non-Marxists (who constituted about a half of the membership of the Samiti), although not ideologically attracted to the CSP, felt loyalty towards the Marxist sector. Moreover, around 25% of the membership of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association joined the CSP. This group was led by Jogesh Chandra Chatterji. The Anushilan marxists were however soon to be disappointed by developments inside the CSP. The party, at that the time Anushilan marxists had joined it, was not a homogeneous entity. There was the Marxist trend led by J.P. Narayan and Narendra Deva, the Fabian socialist trend led by Minoo Masani and Asoka Mehta and a Gandhian socialist trend led by Ram Manohar Lohia and Achyut Patwardan. To the Anushilan marxists differences emerged between the ideological stands of the party and its politics in practice. These differences surfaced at the 1939 annual session of the Indian National Congress at Tripuri. At Tripuri, in the eyes of the Abnushlian marxists, the CSP had failed to consistently defend Subhas Chandra Bose. Jogesh Chandra Chatterji renounced his CSP membership in protest against the action by the party leadership.

Soon after the Tripuri session, Bose resigned as Congress president and formed the Forward Bloc. The Forward Bloc was intended to function as a unifying force for all leftwing elements. The Forward Bloc held its first conference on June 22-23 1939, and at the same time a Left Consolidation Committee consisting of the Forward Bloc, CPI, CSP, the Kisan Sabha, League of Radical Congressmen, Labour Party and the Anushilan marxists. At this moment, in October 1939, J.P. Narayan tried to stretch out an olive branch to the Anushilan marxists. He proposed the formation of a 'War Council' consisting of himself, Pratul Ganguly, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee and Acharya Narendra Deva. But few days later, at a session of the All India Congress Committee, J.P. Narayan and the other CSP leaders pledged not to start any other movements parallel to those initiated by Gandhi. The Left Consolidation Committee soon fell into pieces, as the CPI, the CSP and the Royists deserted it. The Anushlian marxists left the CSP soon thereafter, forming the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

On the occasion of the 1940 Ramgarh Congress Conference CPI released a declaration called Proletarian Path, which sought to utilize the weakened state of the British Empire in the time of war and gave a call for general strike, no-tax, no-rent policies and mobilising for an armed revolution uprising. The National Executive of the CSP assembled at Ramgarh took a decision that all communists were expelled from CSP.

Members of the CSP were particularly active in the Quit India movement of August 1942. Although a socialist, Jawaharlal Nehru did not join the CSP, which created some rancour among CSP members who saw Nehru as unwilling to put his socialist slogans into action. After independence, the CSP broke away from Congress, under the influence of JP Narayan and Basawon Singh (Sinha), to form the Socialist Party of India. Basawon Singh (Sinha) went on to become the first leader of opposition in the state of Bihar (and assembly as well) and Acharya Narendra Deva became the first leader of opposition in U.P. state and assembly.


Constituent Assembly (Russian)

An Assembly whose delegates were chosen while the monarchy still ruled Russia, intended to determine a permanent constitution for Russia.

The Bolsheviks called for its convocation, pending the condition that it was in support of a government of Soviets. Lenin wrote in his April Theses (April 4, 1917):

"Without the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies the convocation of the Constituent Assembly is not guaranteed and its success is impossible."

When convened for the first time in January, 1918, the assembly refused to recognise the Soviet government and was disbanded.


Contact Commission

Set up in Russia by the Menshevik and SR parties. The commission was established (on March 8(21), 1917) as an official organ of communication between the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet with the Provisional Government. The commission intended to influence and lobby in the provisional government, predominately serving a reformist role, though without any power.

The members of the Contact Commission were Chkheidze, Steklov, Sukhanov, Fillipovsky and Skobelev (later joined by Chernov and Tsereteli). The Commission existed up to May 1917, when the Coalition Provisional Government was formed.


Council of People's Commissars (CPC)

The legislative body of the Soviet government, the Council of Peoples Commissars was formed by the Second Congress of Soviets; the first members elected to the council by the congress:

Chairman: V. I. Lenin
Commissar of Agriculture: V. P. Milyutin
Commissars of Army and Navy: V. A. Ovseyenko, N. V. Krylenko, P. V. Dybenko
Commissar of Commerce and Industry: V. P. Nogin
Commissar of Education: A. V. Lunacharsky
Commissar of Food: I. A. Teodorovich
Commissar of Foreign Affairs: L. D. Trotsky
Commissar of Interior: A. I. Rykov
Commissar of Justice: G. I. Oppokov
Commissar of Labour: A. G. Shlyapnikov
Commissar of Nationality Affairs: I. V. Stalin
Commissar of Post and Telegraphs: N. P. Avilov
Commissar of Railways: [vacant]
Commissar of Treasury: I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov


By the 1930s the CPC was no longer elected by the Congress of Soviets, but instead by the Politburo of the Communist party.