From Fourth International, vol.4 No.6, June 1943, p6.173-175.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
In dissolving the Communist International, the treacherous Stalin clique has provided official recognition of the fact that the Comintern has long been dead as a revolutionary international. Its place has been taken by Trotsky’s Fourth International, which lives and fights and which nobody can dissolve.
The degeneration of the Comintern began in 1924, after Lenin’s death. The degeneration was caused by the isolation of the first workers’ state in capitalist encirclement and the rise in the Soviet Union of a privileged bureaucracy, product of the economic and cultural backwardness of the agrarian country inherited from the Czars. The bureaucracy was a fusion of the conservative wing of the Bolshevik Party and millions of state functionaries retained from the former Czarist and capitalist apparatus. The bureaucracy took advantage of the exhaustion of the masses after the civil war and was able to seize control of the party, the unions and the state and to transform them into totalitarian instruments of the privileged caste. This process of degeneration could have been baited and turned back by victories of the proletarian revolution in advanced countries, but the Soviet bureaucracy in turn became the principal cause of the uninterrupted series of defeats sustained under its leadership by the workers of the world.
The Soviet bureaucracy consolidated its power under the banner of Stalin’s reactionary and Utopian theory, first promulgated in October 1924, of building “socialism in one country” as against the Lenin-Trotsky program of international revolution. Events since then have fully demonstrated that “socialism in one country” means in reality socialism in no country. Instead of fighting for the extension of the October revolution to other countries, the Communist parties were deformed into puppets of Stalin’s reactionary foreign policy. Instead of the World Congresses of the Comintern under Lenin and Trotsky (the first four Congresses, 1919-22), the Soviet bureaucracy has held one Congress (1924) to seize control of the Comintern machinery; another (1928) to secure formal endorsement for the already accomplished expulsion, exile and imprisonment of the Left Opposition and to transfer the Comintern machinery into the hands of the Stalin clique at the top of the bureaucracy; and a final Congress (1935) to record the conversion of the Comintern to chauvinistic support of any capitalist government allied with Stalin. Having thus sold the services of the Comintern to his capitalist “allies,” Stalin could scarcely be expected to show any more compunction in similarly selling them its formal dissolution.
In 1933, in proclaiming the necessity for the Fourth International we, and our co-thinkers throughout the world, declared that the Comintern was dead as a revolutionary body, by which we meant that there could be no longer any hope of halting its degeneration and turning it back to its revolutionary origins. Like the Second International which preceded it, the Third International had become too ossified to permit of regeneration. This conclusion was rendered inescapable when the Stalinized Communist Party of Germany, with 600,000 members and six million followers, capitulated to Hitler fascism without a fight.
Stalin’s monstrous crime in Germany climaxed other catastrophes which this organizer of defeats had perpetrated upon the international working class – by his collaboration with the British trade union bureaucrats which facilitated their betrayal of the General Strike of 1926, his collaboration, with Chiang Kai-shek which enabled the Chinese bourgeoisie to crush the Chinese revolution (1925-27), etc. Since 1933 we have seen the most deliberate betrayals of the workers by Stalin’s Comintern, first in the service of the France-Soviet pact, then in the service of the pact with Hitler, and since 1941 again for the “democracies.” In France the Comintern agents joined with Leon Blum in halting the revolutionary strike wave of 1936, giving full support to Daladier who ended by crushing the labor movement; the Hitler-Stalin pact completed the demoralization of the French proletariat on the eve of the war. In Spain the Comintern agents led the most reactionary bourgeois and reformist elements in crushing the Spanish revolution, breaking the morale of the fighters against Franco and facilitating his victory. When these treacherous acts failed to win from the “democracies” sufficiently substantial guarantees of an alliance for the coming war, Stalin made his pact with Hitler, including the “peace offensive” and “anti-war” activities of the Comintern. When this policy in turn collapsed and Hitler was able to attack the Soviet Union, Stalin turned the Comintern to the service of his new “allies.” Already in 1933, as the price of diplomatic relations with Washington, the Roosevelt-Litvinov agreement pledged Stalin not to permit the residence on Soviet territory “of any organization or group which has as an aim the overthrow” of the US government. The Comintern and the Communist Party of the United States ceased to have that aim; now the Comintern ceases official existence altogether.
Stalin’s latest act merely completes the demonstration of how correct were the genuine revolutionists in all countries when, in 1933, they joined with Leon Trotsky in calling for the Fourth International, a decision given complete organizational expression by the World Congress of the Fourth International in Paris in 1938.
Before Stalin dared to bury the Comintern, he first had to assassinate Leon Trotsky in August 1940, for Lenin’s great co-worker, the only one who had escaped the Moscow Trials and purges, remained as the living embodiment of proletarian internationalism. But neither the assassination of Trotsky, nor Stalin’s murders of Trotskyists in Spain, France, Switzerland, etc., nor his ferocious physical destruction of the Trotskyists in the Soviet Union, nor his present attempt to discredit the very idea of an international, can halt the growth of the international workers’ party. The proletarian international cannot be dissolved! It is the imperishable idea and irrepressible need of world unity, which can only be achieved through the proletarian world revolution. The Communist International of Lenin and Trotsky, the Communist International of the first four Congresses, still lives on in the Fourth International, the World Party of Socialist Revolution. Stalin, usurper of the mantle of Lenin, long ago abandoned the revolutionary heritage of Lenin to the Bolshevik-Leninists – the Trotskyists. Not internationalism but Stalin’s degenerate caricature of it has been thrown into the discard. The Third International is dead. Long live the Fourth International!
The real character of the Comintern was illumined by the method employed by Stalin in dissolving it. In complete violation of the Comintern’s own statutes, a ukase by Stalin’s puppets in Moscow is sufficient, without any pretense of prior discussion in the constituent parties. The members of the Communist Party learned about the dissolution from the capitalist press. The ostensible excuse for this totalitarian method is the impossibility of calling a Congress in wartime to settle the question. But the question still could have been posed privately to the constituent parties, discussed by the membership and voted upon. It is ludicrous, however, to suggest such a method when in reality the line has been handed down from Moscow to a totalitarianized Comintern for nearly two decades.
The arguments for dissolution adduced by Stalin’s puppets in their “resolution of the Executive Committee” are reactionary to the core. It says not one word about the fact that the International arose as the product of the world-wide character of modern economy – a character which of course is not obliterated by Stalin’s ukase. It does not even mention the original goal of the International – world socialism. It is equally silent about the method for achieving that goal – the class struggle. At the very height of the growth of the Communist International, when great mass parties were represented from many countries at the Fourth Congress in 1922, no one dreamed of arguing that these powerful parties could do without an international center; yet today, when Stalin’s policy has led those parties to destruction and only a handful of parties remain, the resolution has the effrontery to assert that “the growth and political maturity of the Communist Parties” renders an international center no longer necessary!
It was the proud and justified boast of the founders of the International that it united the “cavalry of the West” – the industrial proletariat of the advanced countries – with the “infantry of the East” – the great masses of the colonial world. Just as the revolutionary party in a given country serves to unite the heterogeneous elements of the workers and the oppressed masses, so the International was to give world cohesion to the workers of different tongues and cultures and stages of economic and political development. The International was to coordinate the different stages of development of the workers’ movement into one united activity, to aid the weaker with the services of the stronger, the new parties with the rich experience of the older parties. In a word, the International was to make up for the heterogeneity of the world proletariat. Yet precisely this heterogeneity is now adduced by the Comintern resolution to justify its dissolution! It declares that the “deep difference in the historical roads of development of each country of the world” and “the difference in the degree of consciousness and organization of the workers” is an “insuperable obstacle” to the functioning of an international center – a center which was founded for just these reasons! The resolution solemnly recalls that Bolsheviks “never advocated the preservation of those organizational forms which have become obsolete” – as an argument for dissolving organization altogether!
Finally, hunting for a historical precedent, and unable even with Stalinist falsifications to pretend that Lenin ever envisaged anything like this, Stalin’s puppets write that they “remember the example of the great Marx” who dissolved the First International. They pretend that Marx did so “as a result of the growing need to create national workers’ mass parties.” It is true that Marx and his collaborators dissolved the First International. But, unlike Stalin, Marx never pretended that its dissolution represented a victory. On the contrary, he called its last Congress (at Geneva 1873) “a fiasco” and recorded honestly the fact that the defeat of the Paris Commune and the development of opportunism and anarchism in the European labor movement had disintegrated the International by internal conflict. Lest its great historical example be disgraced by its falling into the hands of anti-Marxist elements, he sponsored its removal to New York and its final dissolution in 1876. At the very first opportunity for a second Marxist International it was launched by Marx’s followers in 1889. The First International went down in defeat, but with its revolutionary integrity unimpaired and its great lessons clear to all the workers of the world. The Third International, like the Second, goes down in defeat as an anti-revolutionary body which long ago lost every vestige of honor.
It is characteristic of Stalin’s International that its first and only public declaration since Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union is the declaration of its dissolution. The argument that the International is an instrument which was good for peacetime but not for wartime is not a new argument. Last time, however, it was made by one who was openly an enemy of Leninism – Kautsky, the apologist for the chauvinistic disintegration of the Second International during World War I. That international ceased to function during the war and in reality never functioned again. The profoundly symbolic act of the dissolution of the Comintern during war indicates that it is following in the footsteps of its predecessor in this as in all its treachery to internationalism.
The dissolution does not of course mean an end to the utterly reactionary interference of Stalinism in the labor movement. The services of Stalinism in this field are too valuable to the capitalists at present for them to insist on immediate dissolution of the Communist Party and its various agencies in the trade unions. The most open and vicious strikebreakers in the United States today are Stalin’s agents, and they will not cease their dastardly work. So long as it suits their master they will serve Wall Street as its most valuable agency today in fighting against the interests of the American workers.
For the moment the dissolution is a substantial gesture by Stalin to curry favor with Washington and Wall Street. But tomorrow they will demand still more, meeting Stalin’s requests for food and equipment with ever-greater pressure upon the Kremlin. The capitalists want from Stalin a free hand in their attempt to crush the European revolution which will inevitably follow the collapse of Hitler; they want indeed not only a free hand but Stalin’s participation with them in the counter-revolutionary attempt. In return for goods and frontier concessions, Stalin will accede to their demands. But this too will not satisfy the capitalists. They fear not only the revolutionary proletariat but also the continued existence of the nationalized economy of the Soviet Union. For the capitalists understand very well that the very source of Stalin’s power – the nationalized economy of the Soviet Union created by the October revolution – cannot be kept indefinitely in the narrow nationalistic limits to which Stalin attempts to assign it The capitalists understand that eventually either private property or the nationalized economy must prevail in the world. Hence they will not only press Stalin for help in crushing the European revolution but will also make demands designed to undermine the nationalized economy of the Soviet Union. So long as they have not succeeded in decisive steps toward the restoration of private property in the Soviet Union, the capitalists will insist on retention of all possible jumping-off points in Europe for an assault on the USSR. Stalin’s attempts to appease the “democracies” thus endanger the very existence of the nationalized economy of the Soviet Union.
How far he is prepared to go to appease them is indicated by his attitude toward the German proletariat. The final document of the Comintern does not by a word express solidarity with the Communists and class-conscious workers of Germany! The German Communists neither exist nor are accorded any tasks now or in the future by the Comintern resolution. But this follows logically from the vile Stalinist propaganda which blames the German proletariat for the rise of Hitler and thus paves the way for oppression of the German nation as a whole by the victorious “democracies.” With Germany at its disposal, Wall Street would inevitably dominate the Soviet Union.
Fortunately for the future of humanity, neither the German workers nor the European proletariat as a whole are Stalin’s to barter. The German working class is the largest, most advanced and most powerful in Europe. It is destined to play the decisive role in the coming European revolution. Steeled and hardened under the terrible oppression of Hitler fascism, the cadres of the German proletariat will lead into the revolution masses steeped in the most advanced industrial technique and military training. Likewise the workers of France and Belgium and all Europe will never go back to capitalist oppression and a divided Europe. No deal between Stalin and Roosevelt will prevent the revolution whose task of establishing the Socialist United States of Europe has been hammered home by two World Wars.
The lightning of the European revolution will in turn explode the powder keg on which Stalin is sitting. The Soviet masses have endured the totalitarian oppression of the Kremlin because the capitalist invader stood poised to strike at the frontier. The European revolution will free them from that fear. The Soviet proletariat has made three revolutions. We are confident that it will settle accounts with the usurper in the Kremlin when the horizons of the Soviet Union are ringed with, red instead of brown. That is what the “democratic” capitalists fear when they refer to the danger of a revival of “Trotskyism” in the Soviet Union – the revival of the political independence of the Soviet masses, which can only mean a policy of revolutionary internationalism by the regenerated Soviet state.
All this can and shall be achieved by the Fourth International!
Members of the Communist Party! Stalin’s latest act has demonstrated, if further proof were necessary, that his false policy cannot be combatted from within the Comintern; even the semblance of the machinery for opposing him from within no longer exists. Every Communist worker who remains true to internationalism must draw the necessary conclusions. The defense of the Soviet Union, the defense of the interests of the international working class, requires now more than ever a genuine Communist International. The national Communist Parties are neither communist nor parties. You must leave them and enter the Communist International of Lenin and Trotsky – the Fourth International. Join the ranks of the Socialist Workers Party, unite with us and the Fourth International parties throughout the world. No one shall, no one can, dissolve our International. Join us and help make the International what our traditional anthem has declared it must be: the International Party shall be the human race!
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Last updated on 26.8.2008