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New Expulsions in the Comintern

(December 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 50, 17 December 1932, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The much-vaunted “ideological consolidation” imposed upon the Communist International by the Stalinist apparatus had for years been of a kind that went hand in hand with an organizational disintegration. The “consolidation” never took place around a straight central shaft of cohesive doctrine. Such a consolidation, absolutely necessary in the Communist movement, would have permitted the attraction of homogeneous elements in increasing number. What passes for revolutionary doctrine in the Stalinist camp, however, has formed a disjointed, eccentric, badly geared axis, put together out of odd scraps borrowed from every conceivable tendency in the working class movement. This is what accounts for the bumpy voyage on which the Stalinists have taken the Communist International, zig-zagging through the class struggle in accordance with the momentary effectiveness – not of the axis as a whole, but of this or that joint in it.

At each turn in the road, the Centrist apparatus has had to cast out elements now from the Eight, now from the Left. As its ideological baggage diminished, so also did those who carried it. The base of the bureaucracy in the International has steadily narrowed, so that nobody can say today who will be the representative spokesman of the apparatus tomorrow. The foreknowledge of their precarious position has not always helped the Stalinist functionaries to remain stable in their loyalties. In some cases, they have anticipated the inevitable and hastened the break with the apparatus, before the apparatus consummated its break (plus the attendant humiliations and petty preliminary persecutions) with them. This category includes a wide range of people – from Bessedovsky and Agabekov to J.T. Murphy of England and Paul Marion of France.

In the last few months alone, expulsions and near-expulsions have taken place in several countries. The official party press has either passed them over in silence or commented upon them with the maximum of obscurity. Each instance, however, sheds its own share of light upon the state of affairs in the Stalinist camp, the policies it has pursued and the manner in which it rules.

Almost a year ago, we commented extensively in the Militant upon the campaign begun in the French party against the so-called “Group” of Celor, Barbe, Lozeruy and others, who had only the day before been the leaders of the party. In this campaign to find a scapegoat for the stagnation and retrogression of the French party, the “Group” served admirably, for its spokesmen humbly acknowledged the justice of all the terrible accusations made against them. In one case at least, it now appears that there was method in this servility. The case is that of the principal leader of the “Group” himself, Celor. During the campaign a year ago, i was revealed that this group of leaders had associated itself without the slightest pretense of a platform, and had systematically and successfully occupied itself with taking over the whole party apparatus. It was further evident that Celor, who was a member of the ECCI, had been appointed leader of the party by none other than the central Stalin faction itself, which found in this clique (as it did in the Neumann clique in Germany) a thoroughly reliable agency. This gang of political bandits was uncovered by other, similarly virtuous bureaucrats, only when a sacrificial offering had to be thrown to the party ranks in order to put the quietus on the mounting discontentment.

A few weeks ago, it wag suddenly discovered that M. Celor was a police provocateur all the time! To our knowledge, this is the first police spy who ever penetrated as high as the Executive Committee of the Communist International. That the police send their agents into the Communist movement is a tribute to the fear which Bolshevism inspires in the hearts of the bourgeoisie. But that such agents can so easily reach the highest instances of the International, is not a tribute, but a striking commentary, on the internal regime established by the Stalinists. Celor came, so to speak, out of nowhere, like most of the figures who now adorn the Centrist household. The elementary tests to which a Communist is – rather, should be – submitted, were never put before him. He was given only one test for leadership : Was he sufficiently lacking in integrity, independence and knowledge to qualify him for the post of ever-ready servility and obedience to command from above? This test he passed with superb ease. As leader ex-machina, he had no concern about being checked up or controlled by that constant democratic interrelation between ranks and leadership. He could go his own way arbitrarily, with no fear from the “sheep” below, and none from the masters above – their support was automatic so long as his servility was unexhausted.

Need it be added that Celor fought intransigently against “counter-revolutionary Trotskyism”? It goes without saying. He probably did it with more real conviction than most bureaucrats, for his hatred of Trotsky and the Left Opposition sprang from the deep wells of a class antagonism: the bourgeoisie which employed him versus the revolutionary proletarian wing of Communism. But this too is no tribute to the Stalinists and their regime.

(To be continued)

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