Leslie Goonewardene
Writing as K. TILAK

Rise And Fall Of The Comintern

Source: First to the Fourth International, Spark Syndicate Bombay, FIRST EDITION December 1947
Published: Published by Indu Shirali for Spark Syndicate, 500, 16th Road, Bombay 21 and printed by Faredun R. Mehta, at the “Sanj Vartaman” Press, Apollo Street, Fort, Bombay.
Transcription, Editing and Proofreading: Ted Crawford. Formatted for the ETOL in 2009 by D. Walters
Note by Transcriber: K. Tilak is in fact Leslie Goonewardene from Sri Lanka. See Tomorrow Is Ours, The Trotskyist Movement in India and Ceylon 1935-48, 2006 ISBN 955-9102-83-4 by Charles Wesley Ervin for details of him and the context in which this work appeared. There are numerous typos in this work and the transcriber has taken the liberty of correcting them, sometimes the punctuation and sometimes spelling of proper names.
Public Domain: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Trotskism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


Chapter One:

Chapter Two:

Chapter Three:

Chapter Four:

Chapter Five:

Chapter Six:

Chapter Seven:

Chapter Eight:

Chapter Nine:

Chapter Ten:

Chapter Eleven:


This book, RISE AND FALL OF COMINTERN, by K. Tilak, seeks to recount the principal betrayals of the international working class movement by the Third (Communist) International since 1923, to establish their interconnection, and to uncover the real causes of the degeneration of the Comintern. Consequently, the author has dealt with the betrayals and zig-zags of the Communist Party of India only incidentally and cursorily, as they entered into the general scheme of the review of the Comintern. Further the Belgrade Conference of the 9 European Communist Parties far from fundamentally altering the analysis made in this book, only confirms the author’s analysis of the Comintern, as the instrument of the foreign policy of the Soviet bureaucracy.

The post-war twists and turns in the policy of the Communist Party of India are directly traceable to the fleeting needs of the foreign policy of the Soviet Government. The end of the war brought to an end the honeymoon of co-operation of the Soviet Union and Anglo-American imperialism. The idyllic plans for a long period of peace-time co-operation laid at Teheran and Yalta crumbled to dust at the first touch of post-war reality. The realities of the struggle between two contradictory social systems proved to be more powerful than the pious declarations of their respective rulers. With the rising conflict between the Soviet Union on the one hand and Anglo-American imperialism on the other, took place a corresponding change in policy of the Communist Parties in the countries dominated by Anglo-American imperialism. The Communist Party of Great Britain took a left-turn. The left-turn in the United States took the form, of a revival of the Communist Party which had actually been dissolved in the war years. And in India the Communist Party which had been sabotaging all mass struggles during the War, now embarked on a policy of actively supporting the economic struggles of the workers and peasants. To be sure, its political line underwent no revolutionary change, but returned substantially to the National Front position of the pre-war years, consisting of the futile attempt to push the bourgeois leadership of the Congress into a revolutionary struggle against imperialism and feudalism. However, in the economic field the left-turn of the Communist Party of India was sharp and unmistakable, earning for it its full share of repression at the hands of the Congress Governments in the Provinces. But even this left turn was not destined to last long, this time due to change, not in the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, but in the policy of British imperialism in relation to India.

August 15 marked the implementation of the new British policy of replacing direct rule with indirect rule in India. Two Dominions were created in India, with a right to secede from the British Empire and with the formal right to determine their own foreign policies. The foreign policy of India in relation to the Soviet Union would henceforth be determined not by Whitehall but by the ‘free’ Indian Government. This was the signal for yet another (and this time rightward) turn in the policy of the CPI. The lead for this change in policy was given in a political resolution of the Central Committee of the CPI, passed in the latter portion of June this year. This resolution speaks of the need for bringing “new strength to the popular Governments”, calls for “national unification behind the popular Governments for the realisation of complete independence,” and declares that “The Communist Party will fully co-operate with national leadership in the proud task of building the Indian Republic on democratic foundations, thus paving the way for Indian unity”. The CPI at the same time is trying its best to wean away the Indian Union Government from the Anglo-American bloc. In other words, the CPI is offering the hand of collaboration to the Nehru Government in return for a foreign policy friendly to the Soviet Union. For such a foreign policy it is offering to pay the price of sabotaging the developing mass movement of the workers and the peasants in India—a movement which, with the removal of the direct rule of imperialism now comes into head-on collision with the capitalist Governments of Congress. The new line of the CPI is essentially the parallel of the pre-war “popular front” policy of the Communist Parties in the democratic imperialist countries, where in return for a “Peace Alliance” with the Soviet Union against Hitler, the Communist Parties were prepared to sell-out the class-struggle. The effort of the CPI to draw the Indian Government away from the Anglo-American bloc and in the direction of the Soviet Union will be no more successful than their pre-war “popular front” policy which far from holding Hitler in check plunged the entire world into the most devastating war in history. The question is, will the Communist Party policy be successful in its other task, namely, the sabotaging of the revolutionary movement of the workers and peasants? The answer to this question will depend on the speed with which the revolutionary party of the proletariat in India is able to rise.

Neither is the setting up of the “Cominform” a return on the part of the Communist Parties to Leninist internationalism. Unlike the Leninist Comintern, the Stalinist “Cominform” does not even claim to direct and lead the international working class movement; its aims are very modest indeed! They are the exchange of information and, if necessary, the co-ordination of the activities of the 9 European Communist Parties, which no longer stand for the socialist revolution. It is quite within the reach of Stalinism to found a “Cominform” or even a Comintern. But it is impossible for Stalinism to return to the programme and policy of Leninism and of the Socialist revolution. The actions of the Soviet bureaucracy in relation to its international organisations are dictated by the tactical needs of its foreign policy. But its hostility towards the socialist revolution flows inexorably from the conditions of its very existence. Stalinism cannot retrace its history and return to Leninism. The banner of Leninism has finally and irrevocably passed into the hands of the Fourth International.

Thirteen years have passed by since Trotsky first posed the task facing the working-class movement of our times, viz. the building of a new international and a new revolutionary vanguard to complete the task which the Russian Revolution had only begun. In those days, the small groups of revolutionaries who gathered round his platform were almost pushed out of the mass movements by the pressure of Stalinism and the reformist bureaucracy. Today, Trotskyism has broken through its isolation and entered into the blood-stream of the workers’ movements. The slander, terrorism and assassinations by the Stalinist henchmen have not succeeded in stamping out a movement which aimed at nothing less than the complete liberation of humanity from its bondage to capitalist and fascist reaction. Nothing can prevent the final triumph of ideas if they truly represent the historic interests of the masses. The Fourth International will triumph because it alone shows the way out of the horrors of decaying capitalism. It is the International of the World Socialist Revolution!