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Fourth International, June 1944


Hakim Mizra

It is Time to Break With Stalinism


From Fourth International, vol.5 No.6, June 1944, pp.180-183.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


Hakim Mizra, the author of the following article, is an Indian Revolutionist who participated in the founding of the Communist International at its first World Congress. His article originally appeared in Workers International News, February 1944, theoretical organ of the WIL, one of the British Trotskyist groups that have recently merged to form the Revolutionary Communist Party. [His name is incorrectly transcribed from the Workers International News as Mizra. It was the pseudonym of Kamlesh Bannerji. The original title in the WIL was After Thoughts on Dissolution of the Comintern. – Note by MIA transcriber, Ted Crawford, April 2008.]

* * *

On the 15th March 1919, the Communist International was established by Comrade Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, with the object of helping and developing International Socialism. At its inception, Lenin declared that the fulfilment of the cause of the International would only be realised when Capitalism was overthrown and Socialism established throughout the world. Thus, to the colonial and oppressed people, the Soviet Union, as the citadel of the October revolution and the Communist International, was an object, not only of admiration, but of hope and guidance for their own struggle for independence.

The people of India are inherently anti-fascist and anti-imperialist. When Spain was attacked by the Fascists, the Indian people’s sympathy was with the workers and peasants of Spain. They gave all the material and moral help possible. When China was attacked by Japan, the Indian people declared their solidarity with the Chinese Republic and gave every possible help. During Mussolini’s rape of Abyssinia, Indian sympathy with our Negro comrades was pronounced and unequivocal. During the period of Hitler’s accession to power, Indian leaders were the first to condemn it in no uncertain terms.

During the last 25 years, the struggles and successes of the Soviet Union have fired the imagination and revolutionary zeal of Indian youth, worker and peasants. From the beginning, hundreds of Indians, tried to get into direct touch with the Soviet Union and its leaders. The Indian Communist Party had to work through the British Party. In spite of many hitches, the Indian comrades always put their faith in the Communist International and accepted its guidance and help. There had been many misunderstandings between the British Communist Party and the Indian Comrades, and there has been much disillusionment; but in spite of all this, the Indian comrades stood by their loyalty to the Communist International and Soviet Union.

The Dissolution of the Comintern

When the Communist International was suddenly dissolved, it confused and shocked most of the genuine revolutionaries. We then did not subscribe to the line put forward by the Trotskyists who declared that the CI had been already been dead and the declaration of the 22nd May 1943 was only its final burial. After overcoming the initial shock and watching the subsequent events, we were anxious to find out the causes for these developments. The purpose of this article is to clarify the situation and to place before Indian and colonial Communists a series of facts in order to help them to review their ideas and views on the basis of current events.

On the 22nd May 1943, the ECCI recommended the dissolution of the Communist International. The ECCI gave several reasons. Let us discuss some of them. Firstly, that the fundamental aims of the Third International have now been achieved. According to the Constitution and Rules of the Communist International, Section 1 – Names and Objects – Clause 1:–

The Communist International – The International Workers’ Association – is a union of Communist Parties in various countries; it is a World Communist Party. As the leader and organiser of the world revolutionary movement of the proletariat and the upholder of the principles and aims of Communism, the Communist International strives to win over the majority of the working class and the broad strata or the propertyless peasantry, and fights for the establishment of the world dictatorship of the proletariat, for the establishment of a World Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, for the complete abolition of classes and for the achievement of socialism – the first stage of Communist society.

Again, to quote Section II – The World Congress of the Communist International – Clause 8:–

The supreme body of the, Communist International is the World Congress of representatives of all Parties (Sections) and organisations affiliated to the Communist International. The World Congress discusses and decides the programme, and tactical and organisational questions connected with the activities of the Communist International and of its various Sections. Power to alter the programme and rules of the Communist International lies exclusively with the World Congress of the Communist International. The World Congress shall be convened once every two years.

It must be evident to everybody that the power of dissolution must also exclusively lie with the World Congress and not the ECCI who in fact dissolved it.

Here we also quote Stalin’s vow on Comrade Lenin’s death:

Lenin never regarded the Republic of Soviets as an end in itself. He always regarded it as a necessary link for strengthening the revolutionary movements in the lands of the West and the East, as a necessary link for facilitating the victory of the toilers of the whole world over Capital. Lenin knew that only such an interpretation is the correct one, NOT ONLY FROM THE INTERNATIONAL POINT OF VIEW, BUT ALSO FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF PRESERVING THE REPUBLIC OF SOVIETS ITSELF. Lenin knew that only in this way is it possible to inflame the hearts of the toilers of all countries for the decisive battles of emancipation. That is why this genius among the great leaders of the proletariat, on the very morrow of the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship, laid the foundation of the Workers’ International. That is why he never tired of expanding and strengthening the league of the toilers of the whole world, the Communist International. In departing from us, Comrade Lenin bequeathed to us the duty of remaining loyal to the principles of the Communist International. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we will not spare our lives to strengthen and expand the league of the toilers of the whole world – the Communist International. (Stalin, Writing on the death of Lenin in Pravda, No.23, 30.1.24.)

We ask ourselves, had the Comintern become “the necessary link for strengthening the revolutionary movements in the lands of the West and the East”? If so, the other reason given by Stalin, that it is difficult to call congresses in war time is incorrect. The International was started in March 1919, when the Soviet. Union was in the throes of civil war and attacked by 13 invading armies, and only a few hundred square miles around Moscow was left in the hands of the Bolsheviks. The Soviet Union was a backward country, hardly at all industrially developed. The situation was far more critical even than when Hitler’s forces had advanced as far as Stalingrad. The workers of the world were just beginning to understand the value of International solidarity. In spite of far more adverse circumstances between 1919 and 1921, five international Congresses were and these built up the Communist Parties in various countries, thus strengthening the position of the Soviet Union. Comrade Lenin and the Bolsheviks at that period had full confidence in the class instinct of the working class of the world. They rather put their faith in the workers and peasants of all lands than in the Churchills, Roosevelts and other class enemies. Hence, we saw incidents like the stopping of the Jolly George and other ships; mutiny in the French ships in the Black Sea, fraternisation of invading soldiers with the Bolsheviks, etc. which saved the Soviet Union. If under the war conditions it is difficult to call an international congress, then why during the period between 1921-1939, which was a peace period, only two International Congresses were called – which was against the constitution of the CI. The Fifth Congress of 1924 did not instruct the ECCI to wait for four years before calling the sixth Congress in 1928.

We are told that the various Communist Parties are now matured. From our association with the British Party, we can say that this is definitely not so. We know the events in India – also various sectarian lines taken by some of the British members re Indian organisations – the starting of sectarian Trade Unions, the Sectarian Workers’ and Peasants’ Parties, the attitude towards the National. Movements – there are many such examples of the British Party misleading the Indian revolutionary movement, which have been admitted by Ben Bradley and others in their books. Also, the British Party’s history up to the present period shows one blunder after another – at one time, a sectarian deviation to the right, at another, a left-wing deviation. No wonder that, apart from a few thousand workers, the British Party is not trusted by the militant section of the working class. Moreover, it is a fact that at least twice the number of members have left the British Party than the total membership of the Party, at the present time. If the British Party had become matured, the situation would have been different. The British Party would have been a mass Party and would have led the struggle – perhaps the war would have been avoided, and humanity would have been well on the path to Socialism, peace and plenty. The American Party would not find itself in a position of dissolving itself and advocating co-operation between “labour, farmer and capital” Surely that is not the fulfilment the aims of the Communist International!

While the CI has been dissolved, Capital still reigns supreme and the toilers of the world are far more under the bondage of Imperialism and Fascism. According to the pronouncements of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, there is full understanding for co-operation for act least 20 years. The American Communist Party dissolves itself in order to avoid “civil war” in the post war period, supports free enterprise, i.e. the exploitation of man by man, accepts Capitalist democracy as an end in itself. (Lenin stood for Workers’ democracy – Lenin believed in class war and partisan interest, i.e. the interest of the working class at the expense of the capitalist class.) All these, are, accepted by a so-called “mature” party as a result of the Moscow, Cairo and Teheran Conferences! Lenin and the other Bolshevik leaders pointed out that the attempts by the capitalists to forcibly repress the working class and its rights in any movement they would take to overthrow capitalism. would inevitably lead to civil war. The task of genuine leaders of the working class was to explain this to the workers and prepare them for the inevitable struggle; not sow illusions in the possibilities of achieving their aims peacefully, as did the reformist renegades such as MacDonald and Kautsky, while the capitalist reaction prepared a bloody trap for them.

The British Party, in its Daily Worker editorial, fully supports the policy of the American Party.

Changes Within the Soviet Union

The dissolution of the Communist international is concurrent with other fundamental changes in the Soviet Union, such as:

  1. Reorganising the Red Army on Capitalist lines, creating an officer caste. The difference between the pay of an ordinary soldier and officer is much greater than in Capitalist countries such as Great Britain and the USA. Revival of Czarist uniform and creation of Orders and Decorations in the names of old Czarist soldiers, rather than revolutionary lenders who gave their lives for the revolution. Introduction of Prussian discipline; “Nowadays, privates and NCOs travelling in a bus, tube or tram, must give up their seats to men of senior ranks, should they be standing” (Daily Worker 9/7/43). Even in Capitalist countries, an ordinary soldier has not to undergo such insults. This is just as bad as the worst type of caste distinction. Perhaps such measures and changes were necessary to counter the discontent of the Red Army men!
  2. We find in the Daily Worker, as well as in a special pamphlet by Reg. Bishop, the support of “Soviet Millionaires”. This is the result of acute differences in wages and privileges between various sections of the workers in a “Socialist country”!
  3. Recognition by the State of the Greek Orthodox Church – the excuse is that now “Religion” is a friend of Socialism! The opium of the people has now become its balm. Marxists always recognised the right of religious freedom, and under Lenin this was certainly so in the Soviet Union. But the new attitude represents a definite departure from the militant and uncompromising stand taken up by Bolshevism towards religion.
  4. Abolition of co-education and introduction of paid higher education in place of free education and opportunities for all.
  5. Replacement of the Internationale – which was the anthem of Lenin and the Bolshevik Party by a national anthem, such as Sing to our Motherland, Glory Undying in the same vein as Land of Hope and Glory.

Those of us who have up to now, supported the line of “Socialism in one Country” will no doubt get a shock, and be forced to review the situation on Marxian lines. Instead of regarding it “not as an end in itself, but as a necessary link for facilitating the victory of the toilers of the world over Capital”, the present rulers consider the Soviet Union as a specific country (not as part of the world struggle for Socialism and the citadel of the world revolution) and, following a Nationalist line, are prepared to subordinate the cause of Socialism for their immediate gain; are prepared to overturn the whole ideology of the October Revolution.

Effects on the Colonial Struggle

The series of changes mentioned above, force one to conclude that it is the present policy of the Russian Government which has deviated from the ideology of the October Revolution which has led the Communist Parties to such a sorry pass. The attitude of Soviet Government towards the colonial struggles has undergone simultaneous changes with its foreign policy. As a result of the Soviet Union deciding to join the League of Nations and forming peace alliances with France, England and other Capitalist states (dabbling in Power politics), the Colonial struggles all over the world were watered down and subordinated to the interest of the Stalinist bureaucracy. A few examples will suffice.

“It was in 1927 that the Indian National Congress took part in the foundation of, and affiliated to, the International League of oppressed people against Imperialism” – Page 488, India Today, R.P. Dutt. Again: “The National Congress affiliated to the LAI in 1928”. All these steps were endorsed by the ECCI, the British Party and R.P. Dutt personally. In the middle of the thirties, the League against Imperialism was dissolved and, simultaneously, the anti-imperialist struggles were watered down. The anti-war movement, which gained. a footing in India and other colonies, was simultaneously wound up. The workers of India manifested their anti-war attitude at the beginning of the second world war – for example, 80,000 workers of Bombay took part in a political anti-war strike.

In his speech on India, Wang Ming, at the 7th World Congress (Aug. 7, 1935) said: “The Indian Communists are able to lead these masses to victorious anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution in India”, and that the Communists are really the vanguard of the people of India in the struggle for national emancipation – “this is now the main task of the Indian comrades”. He ended up: “Raise high the banner of the Communist International – Forward to the victory of the world Socialist Revolution”. R.P. Dutt ends up his India To-day (Page 536):

The decisive battles of India for freedom are in the near future. Whether the transition to freedom will be stormy and achieved at the cost of heavy sacrifices, or whether it will be relatively smooth and rapid depends, not only on the strength of the Indian National Movements, but also on the co-operation of the British working class and of the British Democratic movement. The war only accelerated the issues which are already maturing in India – the issues of the decisive struggle for national liberation, and eventually of the struggle for social liberation.

To contrast the above – in the World News & Views April 25th, 1942, Ben Bradley writes

The Congress proposal, that a National Government be set up which commands the confidence of the people, was rejected by the British Government, but is receiving widespread support in India, even from such British semi-official newspapers as the Calcutta “Statesman”. All sections are agreed on the postponement of major issues until after the War.

What are the major issues? – No doubt the struggle for national independence and the overthrow of British Imperialism’s bloody rule, which was the line laid down by the last world congress and put forward by his immediate leader, R.P. Dutt. “All sections”, of course includes the CPI members who support the policy of a “National Government” (not Constituent Assembly on the basis of Universal Franchise – which was the line laid down by the Leninist Bolshevik Party), no doubt a popular front policy including semi-official imperialist organs! Moreover they do not state that such a coalition Government of Princes, Congress, Moslem League, Liberal, Hindu Mahasabha, Communists and others has been put forward to deceive the masses and cover up the continued rule of the oppressors. Even if such a Government is formed, it will not achieve National Independence, as due to conflicting class interests within it, it is bound to remain dependent on the foreign Imperialist power. Perhaps it is intended to be the same policy as now being followed by the American CP unity of labour, capital and farmers, and free enterprise.

The change of line promulgated by the British “Communist” Party (no longer CPGB) for India, their protégé – is supposed to help Russia against the Nazis. Even from that angle this policy is futile and treacherous – firstly, it has not alleviated the discontent of the masses, hence Britain and USA have been forced to keep a large army of occupation in India – secondly, it is the deliberate policy of Great Britain to isolate the Indian National emancipation struggles from the progressive forces of the outside world, they would rather allow the whole of India to fall under the temporary subjugation of the Axis powers (as in Burma, Siam and occupied Europe) than relax their grip over the masses of India.

The British CP knows that it was this stranglehold, and the policy of British Imperialism, which prevented the Indian people from taking part in the common struggle for Socialism, peace and plenty. By enforcing the policy of a “People’s War” on the CPI they are but serving their new master, British Imperialism. This notorious thesis of R.P. Dutt, which demands Unity with the Moslem League and a National Government of all classes, is nothing but a deliberately dishonest and treacherous sell-out. Dutt has scores of times mentioned in India To-day that the Muslim League is nothing but an organisation set up at the instigation and with the blessing of British Imperialism in order to divide the National Front. Such a policy only leads some of the Indian CPers to form so-called “People’s Volunteers” with the Muslim Leaguers, in order to sabotage the struggle for independence and act as the SS of local Muslim League ministries, as in Dacca. When this double crossing policy was at first put forward by Dutt & Co., our comrades thought that it was a genuine mistake. But subsequent events show that they are only echoing Stalin, who has adopted full co-operation with Capital in order to prevent “disorder” and civil war after this war. Thus, the policy of a People’s War” in India is the precursor of the policies laid down in the three conferences at Moscow, Cairo and Teheran (and Harry Pollitt praises these conferences in the World News & Views for being a greater event than the October Revolution!). This is the outcome of the right-wing nationalist line adopted by the present riders of the Soviet Union.

The International Still Lives

Stalin has deliberately broken his vow on Lenin’s death that “Lenin never regarded the republic of Soviets as an end in itself,” and is prepared to sacrifice future social revolutions and civil wars to please his present friends, Churchill and Roosevelt. No wonder the American Party dissolves itself and is wholeheartedly prepared to support the policy of coalition between Labour, Farmer and Capital, and free enterprise – no doubt other Communist Parties will follow suit and return to the fold of Capital as prodigal sons.

To a genuine Marxist and revolutionary there are only two tests by which to judge all political ideas and personalities, namely: (1) Loyalty to the interests of the working class, and (2) Belief in the continuance of the Class Struggle until the whole world is Socialist. The Party which advocates cooperation in making Capitalism work effectively in the post war period and subscribing to the idea that “Capitalism and Socialism have begun to find the way to peaceful co-existence and collaboration in the same world” – such a party is acting as a traitor to the working class and betraying the world revolution.

Stalin may cling to the illusion of 20 years of uninterrupted peace relations with Capital to serve his purpose. He may refuse to respond to the appeal of the Indian National movement against his newly made friends, Churchill & Co., but the workers of the world, who have seen the success of the October revolution under the leadership of the Bolsheviks will not forget anything, nor will they forgive anything. The masses of the Soviet Union, who made the Soviet Republic, will never forget this betrayal. The time of reckoning and judgment will come, and the class enemies will be justly dealt with by the workers of the world under the banner of the “International Workers’ Association” which lives and fights, though the Communist International is dissolved.

The true Communist International created by Comrade Lenin under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, lives and fights for world Socialism, peace and the happiness of mankind – the Fourth International.

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