Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International
Serrati opens the session.
Zinoviev: I should like to inform you that a discussion on the trade union question has been planned for tomorrow, not only for the Commission but for all those comrades who are interested in the trade union question. Details can be obtained from Comrade Steinhardt. The meeting has been planned for ten o'clock tomorrow morning. Although we have already asked you on several occasions to hand in written reports to us as quickly as possible, we have as yet only received a small number of reports. We urgently ask every delegation to do this by Monday at the latest. We have to send them to be printed. Those who have not handed in their reports by Monday must accept the fact that their reports will not be printed.
Radek: This arrangement on Comrade Steinhardt’s part means a disruption of the Commission. We have been sitting there discussing for three days. The discussion should reach a conclusion. If we meet as a body tomorrow we will be starting the general discussion of the full session of the Congress anew, and the Trade Union Commission will never be able to come forward with a report that reflects its conceptions. If Comrade Steinhardt and other comrades feel the need to talk about the trade union question, not in a full session of the Congress but in an enlarged group, then they should choose a day when the work of the Trade Union Commission has been completed.
Steinhardt: A big misunderstanding exists on Comrade Radek’s part. What we wanted was for the comrades in Russia to give us information on the role of the trades unions in the process of production and on the changes that have taken place in the process of production in the last three years so that we can form an accurate picture of the movement in those three years. [Interjection from Walcher: ‘That is what the full session is for!'] No, that is not true. Not all of the comrades are interested in this particular question. It is not a question that is linked to any particular part of the agenda. We must choose a day when there is no full session of the Congress. We could take the Saturday when the women’s conference is being held. We need not fear that the work of the Trade Union Commission will be disrupted in this way. [Interjection from Walcher: ‘You have no authorisation!'] We are not in Germany now, Comrade Walcher, and I do not need any authorisation, least of all from Comrade Walcher. It is my sense of duty that gives me authorisation and not the Prussian authorities. I shall discuss it with Comrade Lozovsky and if a number of comrades show interest we will set a date. If Comrade Walcher is not interested in this he does not need to be there. Perhaps he is only interested in political questions.
Zinoviev: I would like to propose a procedural motion that we close this discussion. Comrade Steinhardt can get together with some comrades and set a date.
The motion is carried.
Rakovsky: I shall take the liberty of spending some time on the French comrades’ declaration that Comrade Cachin read out. But first I should like to say a few words about the question that Comrade Dittmann raised yesterday, that is to say on the Russian embassy in Berlin. I shall confine myself to an evaluation of the facts.
The attitude of the so-called revolutionary movement in Germany was much more serious than has been depicted. It was not merely a question of expelling the Russian embassy from Berlin. On the contrary, the government of Haase and of Kautsky, who was then in charge of foreign affairs, intended to bring about a complete breach with Russia.
They did not even have the power and the authority to allow the Russian embassy that was arrested in Berlin and wanted to go to Austria to travel to Vienna. While the Russian mission to Berlin was held up for ten days in Borissov under the surveillance of German soldiers and officers and diplomatic emissaries of the Imperial Government, some petty Count usurped our functions until the end of our imprisonment. None of the telegrams we sent to Berlin was answered.
Yesterday we heard Comrade Dittmann’s declaration. He said that if they refused the Russian corn, the corn that had already reached the frontier of Germany, then this only happened because they could not accept this great responsibility, but for all that they did not disparage this display of solidarity by the Russians. He said that they had been unable to bring about the return of the Russian embassy to Berlin despite all their efforts. Comrade Dittmann could well have added that they were not even able to let the Russian embassy through to Vienna, an embassy that was already recognised by Victor Adler’s Austrian government, for the very simple reason that the Independents formed a minority in the government. The majority consisted of the bourgeoisie or right-wing socialists; none of the demands of the independent socialists was satisfied. But that is not the question. Basically, all I can see in what Comrade Dittmann said is a historic repetition of what all of us already know. The question is to know whether they have drawn the logical conclusions from this ministerial collaboration, to know that socialists can never impose their will in a bourgeois government. This is well known and has been of old, and that is also one of the reasons why we are against ministerial collaboration and class collaboration. Moreover, I failed to perceive in comrade Dittmann’s speeches a single word of regret over the fact that the Independents participated in the government of Scheidemann and Ebert and thus betrayed the interests of the German working class and the Russian Revolution. Comrade Dittmann took a certain pleasure in reading out a document that contains the text of a telegram from Comrade Radek; I do not know whether the content was accurately reproduced.
Radek: It does not exist.
Rakovsky: Even if this telegram does exist! Whether or not it ever had a material existence, every revolutionary was conscious of the fact that the Germany that had just thrown off the yoke of Wilhelm II, the Germany that had undergone a proletarian revolution, this new Germany would fight together with Soviet Russia against the Entente. Yes, that is a fact which to this very day the Independents have not understood, tell us as they may that they found themselves in an extraordinarily difficult situation in Germany, conditioned by the famine and the high mortality rate in the country. In order to save Germany they joined a government in which, as they should have known in advance, they had, like the majority socialists, to be the servants of the German bourgeoisie and the capitalist Entente. And in order to justify themselves they keep saying the same thing: ‘We had no bread.’
But if this is a serious justification it should also have served as a means of proving the majority party and the bourgeoisie wrong. They should have told the bourgeoisie: ‘We do not want to take power, but unless you want to accept responsibility for leaving Germany without bread you should hand over power to the German workers.’
A proletarian government must be created in Germany. But the way you accept the validity of the bourgeoisie’s arguments when bread is short leads you to approving the old theory of ministerial collaboration. Until now we have heard almost the same arguments m Britain, France, Russia and everywhere. At a given moment the bourgeoisie finds itself in a difficult position. Then it turns to the working class and says: ‘Share the responsibilities of power with us.’ But it seems to me that when the bourgeoisie is in a difficult position then the precise moment has come to back the bourgeoisie against the wall and overthrow it and not to start collaborating with it. I have not spent time on this question in order to answer Comrade Dittmann’s speech but purely and simply in order to establish the fact, and to draw the general conclusion from it, that unfortunately the German Independents as represented here by Comrades Dittmann and Crispien seem, in the course of the last two or three years, to have forgotten nothing but also to have learnt nothing.
This is the central point of the debate.
The mistakes of the past have two different meanings. One can and must (and the proletariat also does so necessarily) draw from them the lessons they bring with them, and not make long speeches here that are more self-justification than professions of revolutionary feeling. It is wrong to try to use every possible means and argument to justify the behaviour of the USPD.
The question we are dealing with is the following: If the International has shown the Independent Socialists to have made a single main mistake in relation to the proletariat, to the German workers, then it is this, that at the crucial moment – I mean at the time of Borissov – they were unable to choose between revolution and imperialism and in the end chose imperialism. They did not save Germany. That is a mistake. They lost it. They bear the responsibilities for all the consequences of the collaboration they declared themselves to be ready to carry out from the very first moment. They bear the responsibility for the collapse of the proletarian revolutionary movement that followed this collaboration. Yes, the German proletariat slept and, deceived by the collaboration of the Independents and the majority socialists, it hoped to find the salvation of Germany with the Entente, it expected it from Wilson and Versailles. And now that it is clear that from all this has sprung only misery for Germany, the responsibility for this must fall on the Independents and the right-wing socialists.
I come now to the declaration by the French section. Unlike the German Independent Socialists, the declarations of the French socialists, both public and private, and indeed, even their silence, show that in a certain sense their conscience has been awakened. It looks as if they regret their past and can draw a balance sheet of the mistakes they have committed. I too shared this common impression. A careful reading of their declaration however proved that I had deceived myself somewhat. I have the declaration in front of me. When Comrade Cachin read it out there was much that astonished me. In reading the text I am amazed not only at the careful way in which the declaration expresses itself but also at the reservations, the things that are passed over in silence and what I think are the mental limitations that emerge in it.
In the first place the declaration was completely silent about the past and, even more disquieting than the silence in and of itself, it was not, as one might assume, that they were ashamed of confessing their mistakes to the comrades, but that they had reservations for the future, as the declaration that was read to us testifies.
Talking about class collaboration, the declaration starts with the following words: ‘Under the present historical conditions those who still seek to collaborate with bourgeois society at a time when the decisive social fight is bursting out everywhere do not belong in the ranks of the party of the working class.’ That is to say that there are times and historical conditions when class collaboration is permitted, and if this collaboration existed in the past, it happened because historical conditions demanded it. Since historical relations are now favourable for a revolution we will renounce this collaboration. But should the bourgeoisie’s strength be restored, let us say tomorrow, should it succeed in overcoming certain difficulties, then the historical circumstances of French socialism, which has only just become revolutionary, could also change, and there exists no reason why it should not fall back into its old errors. I further read the following: ‘Should the world war break out again one day, then the present criminal imperialist policy of the French bourgeoisie will bear the main responsibility.’
In the French parliamentary debates and the French press the word ‘present’ will be the password for the French Socialist Party’s delegation. It is a hint that gives them the opportunity to say: ‘In the past things were different. Responsibility for the war does not fall on our bourgeoisie alone but also on German imperialism, and our whole policy of national defence is, as far as the past is concerned, completely justified.’
Further: ‘We will refuse to support this policy in the slightest, be it in the form of approving credits or of participating in ministries. We will be able to remember that, under conditions where national interests coincide with the interests of the plutocracy, the highest duty of the proletariat is to its own class.’
I repeat: ‘Under conditions where the national interests coincide with the interests of the plutocracy,’ as if in bourgeois society there could be moments when the interests of the plutocracy and the bourgeoisie did not coincide with the national interests. That is once more a justification of the tactics of the pact, leaving a door open to sneak through secretly.
Comrades, what we see here is a means of justifying every treachery in the future. We must meanwhile say that if we have a lively interest in the proletariat of any particular country being revolutionary, then that country is France. France is today the fortress of the counter-revolutionary army. The question is therefore to know what difficulties we still have to overcome.
As opportunists the French socialists resemble all other opportunists, and we must combat the particular views through which this opportunism expresses itself in each country in case it supports class collaboration.
As far as France is concerned there is one thing that we must say. Before the war the French Socialist Party was influenced by the democratic socialism of the French Revolution and not by Marxism. At the given moment the Allemanists and the Possibilists were against the Constant cabinet, not in order to go with General Boulanger, but in order to make the revolution; they had already decided that it was necessary to seize power.
[Allemanists was the name given to the followers of Jean Allemane (1843-1935), worker and Communard who broke with the Possibilistes in 1891 to form the Parti Ouvrier Socialiste Revolutionnaire which joined with other parties to form the Socialist Party (SFIO) in 1905. The following of the POSR came mainly from workers in small enterprises, especially in Paris. Its programme was eclectic, owing something to Marx but looked back to the Babeuf tradition of action by revolutionary minorities, mainly through the general strike.]
The French Socialist Workers Party made arrangements to use the war and to start an uprising. See how great is the difference between then and now, how low, one might say, French socialism has fallen, which in 1889, despite its weakness, thought that it was the duty of the working class to seize the power at certain moments where there was a danger of counter-revolution.
[Founded in 1882 on a Marxist programme it failed to provide revolutionary leadership and lapsed into dogmatism, which it combined with opportunist practice. Its main leader was Jules Guesde – who became a patriot in 1914 – and its only theorist was Paul Lefargue. It gained ground during the 1890s, mainly in the industrial and mining areas but then stagnated. Joined with the Blanquists in 1901 to form the Parti Socialiste de France. Some former Guesdists supported the Russian Revolution and were among the founders of the Communist Party; others opposed affiliation and ended up in the right wing of the Socialist Party.]
But this revolutionary socialism was buried at Amsterdam in 1904 and Jules Guesde killed Guesdism when he agreed to unification. All that was left was reformism, that is to say, Jaurès. Jaurès had adopted the revolutionary programme when he joined the party but he died a reformist. It is superfluous to follow the discussions that took place between the Jaurès method and the Ferry method.
Comrades, this point must be insisted on energetically in France. It is not merely a question of subjecting the programme to examination, of putting everything we want into it. What matters above all is examining the methods and the tactics.
Before I finish I should like to say something further in relation to Comrade Bordiga’s speech. I do not think that his methods will produce good results, but much rather that through them false ideas about the revolution will take root.
Bordiga has told us that we do not prepare for the revolution, but that we prepare the working class for the revolution. I am afraid that such formulae on the question of the revolution will only revive and strengthen outside the party those mistakes that are making them selves felt at present in the workers’ movement, in the socialist movement and even in certain communist movements, particularly in Italy. A correction is absolutely necessary here.
Comrades, it is not the conditions of entry into the Communist International that offer us guarantees. They must be regarded as a minimum and if necessary they must be sharpened.
I believe however that the Communist International will find another guarantee.
Only by building a real centre of the international movement, by creating a true general staff of the revolution armed with full powers to lead the movement all over the world, will we be able to convince people to carry out the conditions of entry into the Communist International. It is in any case extremely important for the centre to possess far-reaching powers.
Serrati: I agree with Comrade Bordiga when he says that the discussion on the conditions of entry into the Communist International should not take place until we have discussed the general programme of the Communist International and the other theses, for we cannot allow or refuse entry into the Communist International until we have a general overall view of what it is supposed to be. This is all the truer, comrades, for the fact that we are in a highly peculiar position. The people who assembled at the Congress of the Second International had known each other for a Icing time. One knew beforehand that this comrade was an excellent orator, the other a good one, and so forth. It was in general an assembly of barristers. That is not the case here. We do not know one another sufficiently, perhaps because we are far too unclear about the present historical conditions of the different countries for us to be able to carry the conditions of one country over into others and form a definite and clear judgement of every country. It is sufficient, my dear comrades, to recall that we were divided for five or six years not only by the battle-fronts but also by the bourgeois press, which spread lies and slanders and so forth unhindered in every country, in order to see that our way of thinking must have been greatly influenced by this exceptionally serious and difficult situation. I do not want to quote any examples of how little we know one another. I only want to quote one of very slight significance which is however not without value.
Comrade Zinoviev thought he could draw conclusions here on my state of mind and my way of thinking from the circumstance that I use the familiar second person singular ‘thou’ when talking to Prampolini. But my dear friend Zinoviev, our ancestors the Romans called the Emperor ‘thou’. We Italian socialists all call each other ‘thou’. Calling each other ‘thou’ is an old custom among socialists, who are all supposed to be brothers. I do not think that this is a matter in which we can be criticised. On the contrary, it is rather a merit. We do not like serving idols, we have always taken pains never to call our factions after their leaders, and those who claim that there is in Italy a Serrati faction, a Bombacci faction and a Turati faction are mistaken, for we do everything in our power to make sure that the factions are named after ideas and not men. Let us not repeat the errors of the Second International. As you know the anarchists were first of all allowed in only to be thrown out later on. One went too far to the left and later too far to the right.
We keep to a quite definite guideline and we must follow it to the end, all the more so, dear comrades, for the fact that this Congress is really an extraordinary one. I have never felt so weak and powerless at a national congress as is the case here in Moscow.
I have never seen such disparity at a congress. I am not speaking of the epoch and the culture of the people, but of their power. What am I compared with Comrade Lenin? He is the leader of the Russian revolution. And I represent a very-small communist socialist party. I keep saying ‘socialist’ since I know no socialism other than communism. But what are the others like if our party is one of the best? And despite this you British comrades have the same voting rights as Comrade Lenin. Wijnkoop weighs very little in comparison with Lenin, whose weight is enormous. If this is our position, then it is obvious that we must take it into account.
After these general comments on the composition of the Congress I would like to say a few words on the position of the individual countries.
Above all, we must say whether we are for the revolution, whether we want the international revolution. In Basle we said that the socialists must use the economic, political and moral situation created by the war to carry out the revolution.
You, my dear Russian comrades, were able to carry out your task. You did well. It is the duty of the whole industrial proletariat to follow you, for everywhere the economic, political and moral conditions allow us to declare war on the bourgeoisie and speed up the revolution.
All means must serve to this purpose. But let us take care at this Congress not to be teachers giving their pupils good marks and bad marks. We have come here in order to be able to assess the revolutionary forces of the international proletariat. I shall not argue whether the French have a greater right to enter the Communist International than the Germans.
I say that we must open the doors of the Communist International to all parties that are able to carry out a revolution with us, and we should discuss afterwards.
Wijnkoop: And the anarchists?
Serrati.: If you will permit me, my dear Wijnkoop, I shall come not only to the anarchists but also the Dutch. It is not necessary to discuss the behaviour of Crispien or Dittmann. It is sufficient to enquire what the situation is in France and Germany, what is the position of the French Socialist Party and the USPD.
I tell you openly: although I am a Roman myself, I have not the slightest confidence in revolutionary action on the part of the French Socialist Party since the situation in France is not revolutionary.
One fine day the French socialists told us: Yes, dear Italian and Russian comrades, we want to call a general strike in support of the Russian revolution. I do not deny I thought they were sincere when they made this promise.
Goldenburg: They were not.
Serrati: But my friend, we do not have a ‘sincerometer’ in our pocket.
Lenin: We will find this sincerometer.
Serrati: I can only hope so, as it will support my argument. I repeat, I thought that they were sincere when they made us this promise. But what did they do at the decisive moment? The general strike was not proclaimed. They betrayed us during the elections. Comrade Sadoul was used. It was said that he was a man who had been condemned to death and that he would have to be placed in the front line. The elections should have been fought on the basis of support for the Soviet Republic, but the elections were a disappointment for the French socialists. They took fright and said that their success would have been bigger if they had spurned Bolshevism and relied on the reformists.
This is what it is always like. The situation brings obscure and ambiguous behaviour with it, a nod to the left and a nod to the right, without knowing what is really wanted. I say that we cannot accept people who are in such a state. A party that does not want to fulfil its tasks cannot be accepted.
In Germany and France we must have a very strong vanguard that marches firmly forward and does everything in its power to draw the proletariat behind it. France was the victor in the war. The small peasants have stuffed their pockets with money. Here the economic situation is better than perhaps anywhere else in the world. In Germany matters are completely different. I have no information on the facts with which Comrades Dittman and Crispien are being reproached. But I do know that the situation in Germany is revolutionary and I know that the USPD represents a major force in the working class.
The historical situation in Germany is, I repeat, revolutionary. Therefore we must be close to the proletariat in that country. That goes without saying. We must separate the wheat from the chaff. 1 am of the opinion that we can go further with the USPD than we can with the French socialists. Our Congress should not pass judgement on individuals but only on the revolutionary situation in each country. It must be convinced that the general situation makes men, and not the other way around.
Permit me, having said this, to return to conditions in Italy. Despite your criticism, my dear Russian friends, we like each other very much. You like, it is true, to give us a dig in the ribs from time to time, but that is the sort of thing you only do to somebody you like ... [Laughter]
What is at stake is not talking about Turati and Modigliani all the time but organising the revolution in Italy. The revolutionary situation in Italy is more favourable than in the other victorious countries.
The economic position is dismal. The state is collapsing before our eyes and the peasants are dissatisfied. They have, it is true, more money than they did before the war, but nobody wants to work for the landlord any more. I want to work in my factory, in my field, says the worker. The situation really is revolutionary, not only from the economic but also the psychological standpoint.
We are carrying out zealous propaganda in the countryside. It is true that aimless people let themselves be drawn into the Turati current. ‘You still read Critica Soziale,’ people tell us. It is a long time since we read it. I know their circulation exactly. It is 953 copies.
Bordiga: Which the bourgeois press reproduces.
Serrati: It is a magazine of scientific socialism which for thirty-years educated the young socialists in the Marxist socialism that has defeated Bakuninism in Italy. Today the magazine does not have the slightest influence any more. Just like Turati it does not play a role in the party any more. When we discussed the question of the attitude of our party in Bologna and looked through our old programme of 1892, Turati had to hide behind Constantino Lazzari in order to keep a few supporters. He adopted a resolution that expressed itself very ambiguously about the dictatorship of the proletariat, the seizure of power, etc. At the national congress in Florence the reformists did not even dare to propose a motion after they had made their speeches. They felt that their speeches had made no impact on the congress.
There is a certain movement among the workers that we will have to reckon with. It is not our fault, and not to our merit, that we are Italians and that you are Russians. The Italians have always felt sympathy for those who have constantly spoken their thoughts straight out and have not betrayed the party. Those people are honoured in Italy who promise little and give a lot.
For years and years we have had there the Labriolas and the Ambris who preached to the masses that they should split from the leaders who betrayed them. But they are the very ones who carried out a betrayal. Turati has always kept his promises and has kept party discipline.
And while we are demanding the expulsion of such people we are preparing to accept parties into the Communist Party in whose midst are people who filled their pockets with banknotes during the war and travelled all over Europe to ruin the working class.
We are told we should drive out Turati, Turati who voted against the war, not merely as a pacifist, but also as a socialist and an enemy of bourgeois opportunism. There is an obvious contradiction here.
At the Rome congress Comrade Bombacci made a great speech in his praise and against his expulsion. He correctly stated that Turati would never fire on the people. As for myself, I am not concerned with the question of personalities. Only the question of utility comes into consideration. If Turati is useful to us we will keep him, if he is dangerous we will throw him out. I cherish no personal feelings for anybody.
Lenin: No sentimentality, please.
Serrati: You know very well that my attitude is not that of a sentimentalist. I have said, then, that we must free ourselves of these people without in the process losing contact with the masses. We must try to draw conclusions from certain circumstances. I have already tried to do this on several occasions.
Comrade Zinoviev has mentioned the chemical workers’ congress where Turati supported class collaboration. I carried out a fierce fight against him on that occasion. And it was the workers who defended him and said: Yes, he is wrong, but he is a brave man. We must wait until it is no longer possible to say that of him, but that will not be so easy. Turati’s latest speech in Parliament, about which Comrade Zinoviev has spoken, did not have the meaning that the latter read into it. On the contrary, it was a very skilful speech. Listen to what he said about the bourgeoisie: ‘I tell you you are no longer capable of maintaining power, you can no longer rule the people. Stand down. It is our turn now. We will take the power for ourselves and use the bourgeois experts as technical specialists and set them to work for us as we see fit.’ This thought is very different from the one Comrade Zinoviev ascribes to him. I have already said on many occasions that I am for a purge of the party, from which Turati should resign, but he must not be expelled. I have discussed this with Comrade Lenin and written about it in Avanti and Il Communismo. One must understand how to tackle the matter correctly to keep the masses of the workers and even to avoid losing those of their leaders whose significance is purely decorative. The Theses moreover demand the same thing. And I accept them by reason of the following considerations. We are told that all the parties that still contain social-democratic elements must undertake a revision of their forces and form new communist parties on the basis of the new conditions. I believe, however, although I am a decided supporter of centralisation (to the extent that, in Italy, people say that I am too dogmatic and too brutal in the eyes of those comrades who do not completely fulfil their communist duty), that the particular conditions in every individual country must be taken into account. This thought, moreover, is confirmed in another part of the theses: ‘The Communist International and its Executive Committee must take account of the different conditions under which the parties have to fight and work, and only take generally valid decisions in such questions where such decisions are possible.’
I ask you, comrades: If for example today we return to Italy and find reaction up in arms against us, which is very possible, if we found imperialism directed against us, could you then advise us, you comrades of the Executive Committee, to undertake a split in such a situation?
No, dear friends. Give the Socialist Party of Italy the chance to decide for itself the moment for the purge. We all assure you – and I do not think that anybody can say that we have ever broken our word – that the purge will be carried out, but give us the chance to do it in a way that will be of use to the party and to the revolution that we are preparing in Italy.
Lenin: Comrades, Serrati has said that we have not yet invented a sincérometre – that is a new French word that means an instrument for measuring sincerity. Such an instrument has not yet been invented. We do not need such an instrument, but we already have an instrument for judging trends. Comrade Serrati’s mistake – of which I shall speak later – is that he did not use this instrument, which has been known for a long time.
I would like to say only a few words about Comrade Crispien. I am very sorry that he is not present. [Interjection from Dittmann: ‘He is ill!'] I am sorry to hear it. His speech is a most important document, and contains precisely the political line of the right wing of the USPD. I am not speaking about personal matters or individual cases, but the ideas clearly expressed in Crispien’s speech. I think I shall be able to prove that on the whole it was a thoroughly Kautskyite speech and that Comrade Crispien has a Kautskyite conception of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Replying to an interjection, Crispien said: ‘Dictatorship is nothing new; it was already mentioned in the Erfurt Programme.’ The Erfurt Programme says nothing about the dictatorship of the proletariat, and history has proved that that is no accident. When we were working out our party’s first programme in 1902-03 we always had the example of the Erfurt programme before us. Plekhanov, the same Plekhanov who calmly said at the time: ‘Either Bernstein will bury Social-Democracy or Social-Democracy will bury Bernstein’, laid special emphasis on the fact that the Erfurt Programme’s failure to mention the dictatorship of the proletariat was theoretically wrong and in practice a cowardly concession to the opportunists. And the dictatorship of the proletariat has been in our programme since 1903.
When Comrade Crispien now says that the dictatorship of the proletariat is nothing new, and goes on to say: ‘We were always in favour of the conquest of political power’, then he is evading the essence of the matter. Conquest of political power is recognised, but not the dictatorship. The entire socialist literature, not only German but also English and French, proves that the leaders of the opportunist parties – like for example MacDonald in Britain – are in favour of the conquest of political power. They are all sincere socialists, joking apart, but they are against the dictatorship of the proletariat! As soon as we have a good revolutionary communist party worthy of the name we should conduct propaganda for the dictatorship of the proletariat against the conceptions of the Second International. Comrade Crispien glossed over this and obscured it, and that is the basic error common to all Kautskyite positions.
‘We are leaders elected by the masses’, Comrade Crispien continues. That is a formal standpoint and incorrect, because at the last conference of the German Independents we quite clearly saw the struggle of the tendencies. One does not need to look for a sincerometer and make jokes about it like Comrade Serrati in order to know the simple fact that there is and must be a struggle of tendencies. One tendency is the revolutionaries, the workers who have just come to us, the enemies of the labour aristocracy. The other tendency is the labour aristocracy, which in all the civilised countries is represented by the old leaders. Does Crispien stand with the tendency of the old leaders and the labour aristocracy or with the tendency of the new, revolutionary mass of workers, who are opposed to the labour aristocracy? That is precisely what Comrade Crispien glossed over.
In what terms does Comrade Crispien speak of the split? He said that the split was a bitter necessity and he deplored it at length. That was Kautskyian. Split from whom? From Scheidemann? Yes indeed! Crispien said: ‘We made the split.’ First of all you did it too late! While we are talking about it we must say this. And in the second place the Independents must not weep about it, but say: ‘The international working class is still under the yoke of the labour aristocracy and the opportunists.’ That is a fact in Britain and France too. Comrade Crispien does not think about the split in a communist way but completely in the spirit of Kautsky, who is not supposed to have any more influence. Then Crispien went on to talk about high wages. He said that conditions in Germany were such that, in comparison with workers in Russia and Eastern Europe in general, workers there had a reasonably good standard of living. He says that a revolution can only be carried out if the workers do not suffer ‘excessive’ impoverishment. I ask myself whether it is permissible to talk in such terms in a communist party. It is counter-revolutionary. We in Russia certainly have a living standard that is lower than in Germany, and when we set up the dictatorship the result was that the workers were even hungrier and their living standard dropped still further. The victory of the workers is impossible without sacrifice, without the temporary worsening of their conditions. We must tell the workers the opposite of what Crispien says. To wish to prepare workers for the dictatorship and to talk to them about ‘not excessive’ impoverishment is to forget what is most important, that is that the labour aristocracy arose by helping their ‘own’ bourgeoisie to conquer and strangle the whole world by imperialist means and by thus being able to secure better wages. If the German working class want to do revolutionary work now they must make sacrifices and not shrink from it.
In the general historical sense it is correct that a Chinese coolie in a backward country cannot carry out the revolution. But to tell the workers in the few rich countries where the standard of living is better thanks to imperialist robbery that they should shrink from ‘excessive’ impoverishment is counter-revolutionary. The opposite must be said.
A labour aristocracy that fears sacrifice and ‘excessive’ impoverishment during the revolutionary struggle cannot belong to the party. Otherwise no dictatorship is possible, especially in the countries of Western Europe.
What did Crispien say about terror and force? Those are two different things, he said. One can make such a distinction in a handbook of sociology perhaps, but not in practical politics, and particularly not in relation to conditions in Germany. Against people who behave like the German officers who murdered Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, against people like Stinnes and Krupp who buy up the press, against such people one is forced to use force and terror. Of course it is not necessary to declare in advance that we will positively resort to terror, but if the German officers, the Kappists, Krupp and Stinnes remain as they are we will have to employ terror. Not only Kautsky but also Ledebour and Crispien speak about terror in a completely counter-revolutionary sense. A party guided by such ideas cannot carry out the dictatorship, that is clear.
And then the agrarian question. Crispien was particularly vehement on this, and felt himself able to accuse us of being petty-bourgeois. He says we have to expropriate the big landlords and hand the land over to co-operatives. This is a pedantic conception. Even in highly developed countries such as Germany there is a sufficient number of latifundia, of landed estates that are worked in a semi-feudal and not a large-scale capitalist way, parts of which areas could be given to the small peasants without dislocating the economy. Large-scale production can be kept and the small peasants can still be given something that is very important to them. No thought is given to this unfortunately, but it must be done in practice, otherwise mistakes are made. This is proved for example by the book by Varga (the former People’s Commissar for the National Economy in the Hungarian Soviet Republic), who says that scarcely any changes took place in the Hungarian village after the proletarian dictatorship and that the labourers saw nothing and the small peasants gained nothing. There are big latifundia in Hungary. Large stretches of land are farmed there in a semi-feudal manner. It is always possible and necessary to find parts of the big landed estates which can be given to the peasants, perhaps not in outright possession but on lease, so that even the smallest peasant may gain something from the confiscated estates. Otherwise the small peasant will see no difference between the old order and the Soviet dictatorship. If the proletarian state authority does not act in this way it will be unable to retain power.
If Crispien has said: ‘You cannot deny our revolutionary convictions,’ then I reply: ‘I deny them most emphatically.’ I do not deny them in the sense that you do not want to act in a revolutionary manner; but in the sense that you do not understand how to think in a revolutionary manner. I wager that if we choose any commission you like of educated people and give them Crispien’s speech, the commission would say: ‘This speech is Kautskyian through and through. It is thoroughly dominated by the Kautskyian mode of thought.’ All Crispien’s methods of arguing are Kautskyian through and through, and then Crispien comes along and says: ‘Kautsky no longer has any influence in our party.’ Perhaps not over the revolutionary workers who have just joined. But it is an absolutely proven fact that Kautsky has had and still has an enormous influence on Comrade Crispien and on Comrade Crispien’s whole way of thinking and all his ideas.
Comrade Crispien’s speech proved this. That is why one can say, without inventing any sincerometers, any instruments for measuring sincerity, that Crispien’s tendency does not correspond with that of the Communist International. If we say that, then it will be a guideline for the whole Communist International.
I think Comrades Wijnkoop and Münzenberg are wrong An they say they are dissatisfied with us for inviting the USPI) and talking to its representatives. When Kautsky comes out against us and writes books we polemics against him as the class enemy. But when the USPD, which has grown large because revolutionary workers are streaming to it comes here to negotiate, we must discuss with its representatives because they represent part of the revolutionary workers. We cannot reach immediate agreement on the International with the German Independents, the French and the English. Every one of Comrade Wijnkoop’s speeches shows that he shares almost all of Comrade Pannekoek’s mistakes. Wijnkoop has, it is true, declared that he does not share Pannekoek’s ideas, but his speeches prove the opposite. That is the basic error of this left group, it is in general an error of the proletarian movement in the process of growing. The speeches of Comrades Crispien and Dittmann are thoroughly bourgeois speeches with which one cannot prepare the dictatorship of the proletariat. But when Comrades Wijnkoop and Münzenberg go even further on the question of the USPI) we do not agree with them.
Certainly we have no sincerometer, as Serrati calls it, to test people’s good faith, and we agree completely that it is not a question of judging men but of assessing the situation. I am sorry that Serrati spoke without saying anything new. His speech was the kind of speech we used to hear in the Second International.
Serrati was wrong when he said: ‘In France the situation is not revolutionary. In Germany and Italy it is revolutionary.’
But even if the situation is counter-revolutionary the Second International is wrong and shoulders a great burden of guilt if it refuses to organise revolutionary propaganda and agitation; for even if the situation is not revolutionary, revolutionary propaganda can and must be carried out. The whole history of the Bolshevik Party proves this. The difference between the socialists and the communists lies precisely here in the fact that the former refuse to do what we do in any given situation, that is conduct revolutionary work.
Serrati only repeats what Crispien said. We do not mean to say that Turati must definitely be expelled on such and such a date. This question has already been touched on by the Executive Committee, and Serrati told us: ‘A party purge but no expulsions.’ We will simply have to tell the Italian comrades that it is the line of the members of Ordine Nuovo that corresponds to the line of the Communist International, and not that of the present majority of the Socialist Party leaders and their parliamentary faction. The latter wish, it is claimed, to defend the working class against reaction. Chernov, the Mensheviks and many others in Russia similarly defended the proletariat against reaction, but that was certainly no reason to take them into our ranks.
[Ordine Nuovo: the paper published by the communist group in Turin led by Antonio Gramsci, Palmiro Togliatti, Angelo Tasca and Umberto Terracini, and thus known as the ‘ordinovisti’. There were serious differences within the group which was heavily criticised by Amadeo Bordiga, then leader of the dominant tendency in Italian communism. The paper carried Gramsci’s renowned articles on factory councils; during the strikes and occupations it attained the peak of its influence. The paper’s offices were destroyed by fascists in December 1922.]
Therefore we must tell the Italian comrades and all those parties that have a right wing that these reformist tendencies have nothing in common with communism.
We ask you Italian comrades to call a congress and submit these Theses and resolutions of ours to it. I am convinced that the Italian workers will want to remain in the Communist International.
Serrati: You are always confusing me with Turati. Does that perhaps happen on purpose?
Lenin: Nobody confuses Serrati with Turati, unless Serrati himself does so by defending him.
Levi: Comrades, first of all I must thank Comrade Wijnkoop for his forbearance in dealing with the KPD and for stating that he is not able to say everything he wanted to say about the German Party in the present company because there are not only communists here. I am all the more grateful to Comrade Wijnkoop for his forbearance for the fact that I do not approve of the grounds on which he conceded us mitigating circumstances. On the contrary, these grounds show us why he was earlier so opposed to the four Independents being allowed to stay in the hall. Wijnkoop seems to have had good reason to fear that he would be the first to succumb to infection by the Independents. The reasons that Wijnkoop has given for not wanting to criticise us here show that this fear is justified. It is typical of the reasons that the USPI) give and with which they try to cover all their sins. He takes up the argument of the left wing of the USPD, which we have continually fought. This wing is also always saying: ‘We do not want to lay bare our differences; we do not want to say anything about them when others are present.’ We say that this position involves a fatal misunderstanding of the significance of the controversies m the German proletariat. If mistakes have been committed they have to be laid bare, whether enemies are present or not. Comrade Wijnkoop’s ideology is so typical of the Independents that this formula explains the whole behaviour of the Independent delegation at this Congress and the whole politics of the Independents during the German revolution.
What really is the deep meaning of the controversies with Dittmann and Crispien that took place yesterday? It is the fact that was repeated until we were tired of it: ‘We had a relationship with the masses, we stood where the masses stood, our attitude was approved by the masses.’ This is a fundamental error concerning the role of the party towards the masses. For, true as it is that the party cannot wage the revolutionary struggle without the masses, it is just as fatal for a party to confine itself all the time to asking ‘What are the masses doing?’ and at every point to say only what will flatter the masses. That has anyway up till now been the political method of the USPD, which has even boasted about the fact that at every point it has only represented what the masses want. Thus its history is a history of mistakes and failures, the history of the failure of the German masses in general. Where the masses failed the German Independents also failed. Where the masses were not conscious of their strength the Independents did not call on them to be strong but became weak with the masses. [Interjection: ‘Behind the masses! They never understood the leading role of a revolutionary party.'] Thus even today they still fall back on demonstrating that they were right in all their mistakes, while the important thing would be to say what their mistakes were, to establish what was; not in order to give us the pleasure of seeing contrite sinners – we are not concerned about Crispien and Dittmann doing penance, but and in my opinion this must be the most important part of the controversy between the Independents and the Communist International – about the, masses of German workers who are today in the USPD recognising their whole weakness and their mistakes in the past. For this reason and for the sake of these worker masses our controversy must take place under the motto: ‘Let there be truth between us’.
I am of the opinion that, for all the subjective truthfulness that Comrades Dittmann and Crispien have shown here, what they have said here is false, false, every line of it. It is a bit much, I must say, for Crispien, who once knew better, to use his earlier connection with the Spartakusbund to identify the Spartakusbund opposition with the origins of the USPD when he knows only too well that the organisation of the USPD has a different origin, that it consisted in the main not of the members of the Spartakusbund but of the confused, indistinct opposition of 1914 – of Bernstein, Ledebour, Kautsky and others – who were not clear about a single question and were not united among themselves on any question. I remember the position Ledebour took up in October 1914 when he declared that if the Russians reached Frankfurt-an-der-Oder he would vote for credits. It would be misleading the German masses to tell them that the USPD grew out of a small, well thought-out and consistent opposition to the war. And what is more, just as what Comrade Crispien said about the early history of the USPD was unclear, what Dittmann and Crispien said about the attitude of the USPD during the war was false. It is not true that the USPD carried out propaganda against militarism and circulated illegal literature. Quite the opposite. Comrade Dittmann, one of the most shattering moments in the war for me was that session of the Reichstag when the Imperial Chancellor Michaelis remonstrated with the Independents about their anti-militarist propaganda in the fleet, and the USPD disowned Riechpietsch and other comrades, the first swallows of the German revolution, the first people to give their lives for the revolution, even when they were in the grave. [Interjection from Dittmann: ‘The opposite is true!]
No, it is true that at the time the Independents used the excuse that they had not carried out any anti-militarist propaganda, that they had only handed out the programme of the USPD. They did not say: ‘These are our comrades’. They did not say: ‘Thousands must follow the path that our fallen heroes took’. [Interjection from Dittmann: ‘Lies!']
Be careful who you call a liar; I shall read the short-hand report to you. Exactly the same untruths that were told here about the attitude of the USPD during the war, exactly the same untruths are being told about the attitude of the USPD after the war. Dittmann has given a detailed account of the circumstances that led to the final rupture of relations with Russia. He appeals to the fact that the actual expulsion of Comrade Joffe was ordered by Prince Max. But it is well established, and can be proved at any time from the documents, that Joffe was still on territory controlled by the German government when the ‘socialist’ government took the helm. It was this ‘socialist’ government that actually carried out the expulsion order. I shall briefly quote the facts. In its session of November 10 the Berlin Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council decided the following: ‘The Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council decides that the government will immediately resume relations with the Russian government and awaits the representative of this government in Berlin.’ The Council of Peoples Commissars, however, had already unanimously decided not to carry out this decision.
On November 19 there took place a meeting of the Cabinet, the minutes of which were published. Comrade Radek read from these minutes yesterday. Apart from the Peoples’ Commissars, those who took part in the meeting were Dr. David, Kautsky and Privy Councillor Nadolny. The minutes say, and I quote: ‘Continuation of the discussion on Germany’s relations with the Soviet Union. Haase advises that we proceed in a dilatory (hesitant) fashion.... Kautsky supports Haase. He says that a decision must be postponed, that the Soviet Government would not be able to hold out for long, but that it would be finished in a matter of weeks.’
According to Vowärts this Haase-Kautsky-Barth position was unanimously adopted by the Cabinet (Vorwärts of December 18, 1918). Comrade Dittmann has had the bad luck to prove more than he set out to prove. For if what Comrade Dittmann said was true, that in fact the Independents were in favour of resuming relations with Russia all the time, then it would not have been necessary to prove that the non-resumption of relations was excused by the difficult situation Germany was in at the time. And further, we know that the Berlin Executive Council decided to invite delegates from the Russian Soviet Republic to the first Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils. Moscow accepted the invitation and the Soviet delegation set off under the leadership of Radek. The Central Council at Kaunas now asked the cabinet by telegraph for information about how it was to behave towards the delegation. The Council of Peoples’ Commissars decided, with Barth voting against, but Haase and Wilhelm Dittmann voting in favour, to send the following telegram: ‘We beg to convey to the Russian delegation that, in view of the situation in Germany, they should desist from coming here. They are therefore refused entry.’
At a Reichstag session of February 15, 1919, Noske said that he would like to say to the comrades of the USPI) that even if, at the Leipzig congress, Ledebour had said that entry into the Communist International would rob the USPI) of the moral right to polemics against Noske, Ledebour and the others would nonetheless see that there were still other things that gave him, Noske, occasion to attack the Independents. During the session of February 15, then, Noske said the following:
Herr Haase has complained about the relations with Russia that the government has set up. A colleague informs me that during a cabinet meeting in November 1918, in which Herr Haase took part, Kautsky proposed that relations with Bolshevik Russia should not be resumed because to do so would make the Entente more unfriendly. Herr Haase agreed with this. When the Berlin Executive Council issued an invitation to Radek and the Ambassador, Joffe, who had previously been expelled from Berlin, the Cabinet, to which Herr Haase and Herr Dittmann belonged, and of which all the members were present, decided by five votes to one to refuse them entry as undesirables.
There is documentary proof that the Independents were by no means out-voted, for their own press justified their attitude. A press-cutting from Freiheit no 57 of December 10, 1918, reads as follows:
In appealing to the Russian comrades to desist from their journey to Germany the Council of Peoples’ Commissars was acting only under the most extreme pressure of circumstances. In view of the greatly superior position of the Entente it could not assume responsibility for any deterioration of the peace prospects as a result of the visit by the Russian comrades.
And now you still say there was no Wilsonism in the party! Here the world-historical question – Wilson or the Russian revolution – was opened up in all its greatness. And you were for Wilson. You say: ‘Then, perhaps, yes, but meanwhile we have overcome all the Wilsonism in our party.’ I have more to tell you. On June 4, 1920 the Freiheit, which you cannot deny has some authority in the USPD, printed the following:
A questionnaire from the German Pacifist Association which was sent to all the election candidates and the leaders of all the parties contained among others the questions whether Germany should enter the League of Nations, whether a revision of the Versailles Treaty could only be striven for by peaceful means and whether education was to be carried out in all the schools, in accordance with the constitution, in the spirit of international reconciliation. The leaders of the Centre Party (Zentrum) and the National Democratic Peoples Party (NDVP) answered with an unconditional affirmative, as did the central committees of the right-wing socialists and the Independents. Numerous candidates of the parties named answered in the same way. No answer was received from the two right-wing parties.
But there is still more. Even today the struggle in Germany between the West and the East, between Wilson and the Russian revolution, has not been fought out to a conclusion. The situation will become difficult and tragic for Germany. Once more there will be a moment of time when the fate of the world revolution will be placed for months, perhaps for years, in the hands of the German proletariat. If the conflict between the Entente and Russia becomes even sharper, and it comes to clashes, the attitude of the German proletariat will be decisive. And what do we read in the face of this prospect in the latest issue of Freiheit? I have just received the Berliner Tageblatt of July 23, 1920 which quotes what Breitscheid has to say about Russo-German relations:
In the present partition of forces Germany can – it must be recognised get into a very difficult situation by pursuing these policies. Armed resistance is as good as impossible. There is no hope of imitating the example of Belgium in 1914. We must not permit it to come to a new war against Britain and France. However, we have to emphasise our rights to the extreme, and to make an infringement of our neutrality as difficult as possible for the Allied governments.
And do you know, comrades of the USPD, what these lines contain? It is nothing but an offer to the Entente to haggle over the neutrality of the German proletariat, no, over the will of the German proletariat to take up the fight hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder with the Russian proletariat, in the same way that the German proletariat has already been sold out to the Entente. I shall not quote the parts of Hilferding’s speech in Leipzig that have already been quoted several times here, where he justifies his refusal to collaborate with Russia on the basis that Russia is faced with almost immediate bankruptcy, and where he declares with full confidence in victory: ‘We in Germany are not faced with defeat.’ What was Ledebour’s position? He spoke against terrorism and in favour of higher political morals, and in order to explain what he meant by terrorism he said the following:
The acts I have in mind here are not what is said about the Bolsheviks by their opponents, but what the latter themselves admit. That is the suppression of the free expression of opinions, the suppression of the whole hostile press and of the whole right of assembly and the setting up of Extraordinary Commissions which are armed with full juridical powers, without the accused being given any legal guarantee in the face of the exercise of these juridical functions. It is this, Comrade Stöcker, that we must disapprove of, although we must admit that the Bolsheviks have mitigating circumstances in the highest degree.
But in his speech Hilferding said the following: ‘It is this that we cannot approve of, terror, and where this is concerned we can recognise no mitigating circumstances’. He went on to say that on this point there could be no reconciliation. Ledebour stuck to the same line. On top of all this came the ominous Leipzig Action Programme. It is more or less like a lump of clay that one can make into a face or a gargoyle at will. The only thing I know about the Action Programme decided on at Leipzig is that the most varied trends existed at Leipzig.
When tendencies existed in our party we said so openly, and we did not do what we are accusing you of doing. The only thing that I can see clearly about the action programme is that Kautsky and Hilferding agreed to it on one side and Däumig and Stöcker agreed to it on the other. That was what you were so proud about. [Interjection: ‘Kautsky didn’t agree to it.'] But Hilferding agreed to it. And if Kautsky didn’t agree to it, why do you have people in your party who don’t agree with your Action Programme? What did you do with the people who did not agree with it? And you come to Moscow with this Action Programme that is neither fish nor fowl and you say: ‘If the Moscow programme agrees with our programme we will join.’ This Action Programme of yours is so broad that you can make anything ‘agree’ with it. That is why we demand precise answers on this point. In the French press, in L'Humanité, there is a report by Comrade Frossard on his discussions with Crispien in Switzerland, where Crispien also adopted the same standpoint: ‘We have our Action Programme, and we will not enter the Communist International ni sans conditions ni sans concessions (either unconditionally or without concessions).’ just tell us what your Action Programme is, put the whole business just for once on a political basis, and then Crispien can tell us what conditions and concessions he means. Just for once, instead of an Action Programme that can stretch to include Hilferding and Stöcker and consists only of phrases, give us a real political programme ‘so that we can see what you mean’. Then you will have what the Independents so badly need just now. And I am not talking about the split you try to scare us with. I am talking about the fact that you will be forced to tell the masses what you want and what the others want. And this development of the political line, which in my opinion is decisive and significant, is the point at which the Communist International must apply itself. I myself am too much of a barrister [Dittmann: ‘Very true!'] not to know the limitations of a barrister’s work. And that is why I must admit that I am very sceptical about the formulation of the H paragraphs. This is not the way to achieve the thing that is most important within the life of the USPD today, for the masses to grasp what it is all about. This is not the way to achieve what the masses are looking for and what the Independents as yet have failed to give them: a clear political programme. And I think that that will be the main task of the Congress, to talk in clear and comprehensible words to the German workers who are in sympathy with us and to tell them what, where and how the right wing is that up to now has been hiding itself so skilfully by finding revolutionary phrases as the masses needed them. It is in this framework that I have, up until now, conceived the struggle against the German Independents. We must express in clear words the criticism that people in the ranks of the USPD have not yet found the courage and the strength to utter, the feeling of gloomy dissatisfaction, of striving beyond the framework that the USPD has provided up to now. This is how we must serve our party and the USPD masses and continue our criticism. We must tell the masses what they have not yet heard from their own leaders, even the lefts. We know quite well that the attempt will be made to disparage this criticism of ours by saying that we are only concerned about the KPD and have our eyes only on our own party interests. We will, however, nevertheless win the understanding of the masses and more quickly force the right wing finally to show its true colours. We will carry on our criticism in this sense, not for our own sakes, but for the sake of the masses of the USPD, to whom we must say, every time we aim a critical blow at them:
Cupid, who loves and tortures you Wants you blissful and purified. (Amor, der dich liebt und peinigt, Will dich selig und gereinigt.)
Zinoviev: In order to close the discussion today I propose to refuse all those who wish to speak a second time and to allow the speakers to speak for no more than ten minutes. [The proposal is rejected.]
Humbert-Droz: The main question in the present discussion seems to me to be the question of the affiliation of the USPD and the French Socialist Party to the Communist International. The general Theses on entry into the Communist International are not being discussed. There are, meanwhile, two completely different questions before us. On the one hand we have to establish the general conditions for all the parties that wish to affiliate to the Communist International, including the USPD and the French Socialist Party. The affiliation of the USPD and the French Party is a different question. We cannot talk about that until later, when the parties have discussed our general conditions and have expressed a definite request for affiliation. That is not the case today, and we must widen the scope of our debate, since there are other, less important, parties in the same position as the USPD and the French party, like for example the Spanish party, the Swiss party and others. If the left wing of the Swiss party had not sent its own delegation, then the Central Committee would have sent a delegation that would have been similar to the French delegation or that of the USPD, and we would perhaps have seen Naine or Grabe, who have up until now been the most determined opponents of the proletarian dictatorship, taking part in the conference with an advisory vote.
The Swiss party is known for its centrist, vacillating tendency, which inclines first to the right and then to the left, according to the dominant influence. At the congress that took place in the August of last year the Swiss Party unanimously disaffiliated from the Second International and by a great majority of the votes affiliated to the Communist International. But it elected as Secretaries two representatives who, at the congress, had been opponents of the Communist International: Hegler and Grabe. In the ballot, which stood under the influence of the elections, affiliation was rejected by 15,000 votes to about 8,000. Thereupon the leadership of the party itself took the initiative for the reconstruction of the International. At first, what they intended in this reconstruction was the creation of a centrist International excluding the right socialist elements and the ‘anarchist agitators’ of the Communist International.
After the USPD congress this concept was taken up in the theses of the Independents, who wanted to enter the Communist International, in that they posed their conditions and tried to extend the theoretical basis.
On several occasions negotiations took place in Berne between the representatives of the French party, the USPD and the Swiss Party. We reproached the Independents with the fact that, although they told us that their negotiations would have to be based on their Leipzig programme, they nevertheless started negotiations with the Central Committee of our party, which has fought the general theses of the Leipzig programme, the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the soviet system. The party central committee did not sanction this tactic of reconstruction. In April an objection from Grimm was adopted which protested against Grabe’s resolution on reconstruction. This resolution of Grimm’s declared affiliation to the Communist International since the Communist International permitted the work of democracy in the pre-revolutionary period. The next day the party central committee assured the French reconstructionists in a telegram to the Populaire that this resolution was only a tactical operation on Grimm’s part to avoid a split with the left. Negotiations were continued. While the delegations of the USPD and the French Socialist Party came to Russia, Paul Faure, a representative of the USPD and the Swiss Party continued their negotiations over reconstruction in Berne. The party Central Committee had decided to send a delegation to Russia so that it could do there the same work of reconstruction that the Independents were doing. It gave up the idea when the left sent its own delegation.
One thing is clear now: reconstruction is impossible. This attempt was a failure from the start, since it had all the weaknesses of the Second International, whose convictions and tendencies it represented. The lack of a programme and theoretical bases, the absence of any international centralisation, the poverty of principles, the many splits – these formed the weaknesses of the Second International and made ‘reconstruction’ impossible. Recognising the impossibility of breathing new life into the corpse of the Second International and of reconstructing the Second International, the old socialist parties approached the Communist International without sharing its convictions and principles and without possessing its firm discipline and control. In order not to remain isolated, however, these centrist parties will accept all the conditions in the hope that they will be able to transform the Communist International from the inside. Grabe declared at a party conference that the party was forced to join the Communist International but that it reserved the right to work on the extension of its basis within it. The International is defenceless in the face of the danger menacing it from the centrist and opportunist parties that threaten to submerge and stifle it. These elements will endorse every condition they are set. We must not allow even twenty Theses to mislead us into accepting these opportunist elements in our midst.
At the same time I think that Bordiga’s proposal to force these parties to expel those who vote against the programme of the Communist International is thoroughly useful in order to undertake the first purge of the extreme right. The word ‘split’ terrifies all opportunists, who place unity before all else. This first purge will of course be incomplete, but it is the first step in the creation of a truly communist party.
A second important condition seems to me to be a strict and lasting supervision by the Executive Committee of the Communist International over the parties that affiliate. The reconstructionists and opportunists of every country have one thing in common, and that is the demand for the independence of the national party in relation to the International Executive. ‘We demand guarantees’, they chorus in every key. They want to have the same freedom in the Communist International – the freedom to betray – that they enjoyed in the Second International. The Executive must have the right to dictate, according to circumstance, to certain parties special conditions corresponding to their situation in addition to the general conditions accepted by the Congress. The Executive must exercise control over the activities of the parties and undertake the necessary purges in those parties that still stand under the influence of opportunists or accept them into their ranks.
Däumig: I have followed the debates on this point on the agenda attentively and with good will because I attach to the outcome of these deliberations great importance not only for the sake of the party that sent me here but for the sake of the whole International. When I review the speeches made in the discussion yesterday and today, and above all the speeches made by the representatives of small groups, I could easily form the conviction that the Communist International is and is to remain an International of sects and groups, an International of propaganda societies which can very easily be brought among themselves to a common theory and a common line. I know definitely that our Russian comrades do not share this conception. I do not think that there is any desire to present Kautsky with any cheap reputation as a prophet. Starting from his well-known democratic, social-reformist, anti-bolshevik convictions, Kautsky writes in his new pamphlet on the Past and Future of the International that ‘the Communist International is prevented in advance from managing to unite all the mass socialist parties in its midst by its exclusive character as the organisation of a mere sect. It will remain confined to Eastern Europe and a few splinter groups in Western Europe.’ I do not think that the Russian comrades are of the opinion that that is to be the future of the Communist International. If not, then the Congress will have to get used to the idea that other big parties will also have to be attracted into the Communist International, if the Communist International is not to remain a propaganda society but is to become a powerful organisation of the world proletariat. And it is quite natural, when one is involved in controversy with parties that are numerically large, that have behind them a past, a political activity of decades, that with these parties one can find far more points of attack, far more grounds for criticism, than one can with parties that have not had to swim in the stream of political life.
It is not my intention to plead here any particular mitigating circumstances for my party. But I should like to say one thing, that one cannot criticise my party simply on the basis of general factors, of the theoretical utterances, the newspaper statements that have until now formed the basis of the criticism of the USPD here. One cannot generalise in the way that, for the most part, has been done here. One cannot say: ‘The USPD has done this and that. It has sinned in this and that area.’ The situation at home in Germany is very special, and in the same way it is true of Germany that, since the war, all the parties are in a state of ferment and flux.
A lot could be said in answer to many of the things that have been brought up here. I want to establish just one thing: Since the November revolution of 1918, two sharply opposed tendencies have emerged within the USPD. The one was still caught up in the old democratic-reformist outlook that had been inherited from the right-wing socialist party, and the other placed itself, from the very first day of the revolution, from the very first day of the formation of the coalition government, on the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat, on the basis of the soviet system. The part that followed the creed of the dictatorship of the proletariat was at first a minority. But nevertheless, from that very day to the present day, that minority has done everything in its power to bring the USPD more and more onto the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat. You know that the last word has not yet been spoken, that it requires hard struggles to achieve the ultimate. But nevertheless we have already gone a pretty long way along that road.
If, for example, there has been controversy between various speakers, Radek etc., and Dittmann and Crispien, and there has been not unjustified criticism of the attitude at that time of the government of Peoples’ Commissars, I should still like to emphasise that besides the Peoples’ Commissars there was also a Berlin Executive Council which, although it consisted in its overwhelming majority of rightwing socialists and soldiers, constantly fought with all its energy for the abolition of the Solf type of diplomacy, for the assumption of relations with Russia and for the acceptance of the delegation from Russia. If we were unable to get our way, if our efforts were not crowned with success, then you must take into account that the phrase that Trotsky coined was very applicable for us in Germany, that ‘we had to struggle hard against the resistance of matter’. One must therefore draw distinctions. Nowhere, except in England, is the proletariat so deeply split as it is in Germany. We have to fight with not inconsiderable stratum of workers who run along behind the right-wing socialist party, who are still spellbound by clericalism, and who hang onto our legs like a ball and chain. Then we still have a number of workers who stand on the basis of the bourgeoisie, and an amorphous mass that is not yet politically organised, that is still politically indifferent and can only be driven forwards by the revolutionary workers.
In the face of these facts we have left no stone unturned in order to clarify for the workers, who for decades have been trained in parliamentary ideology, the idea of the practical application of the dictatorship. That the soviet system can be the only system on which the dictatorship of the proletariat can be built, on that point there has been a very sharp difference of opinion in our party. We must establish that in this struggle success has been and remained more and more on the side of the champions of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In this struggle against the outlook of democratic opportunism, which was undoubtedly present and still is partly, the outlook of the left wing has won through more and more.
Beside that there has also been very sharp revolutionary action in Germany. I should just like to say by way of an indication that since 1918 we have not confined ourselves to reciting our conceptions merely theoretically at meetings and on public occasions, but that to this very day, so far as our forces and our means permitted, we have done our duty in every area and will continue to do so. That we have not found uniform support in the party is understandable from the point of view of the development of the party and its fundamental outlook. The attitude that it is necessary to use illegal methods, and the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, have now, as I can say with a good conscience, won the day throughout our entire party and we have gone over to turning this recognition into practical deeds. At our March party conference the democratic tendencies and ideas were still very strong, but on the other hand the propaganda for the idea of soviets had become so strong that it could not be kept down, and thus the formulation about the anchoring of the soviet system in the’ constitution came into being. The whole subsequent development has brought about a situation where our party has, in its actions, been driven unconditionally along the path of revolution, and is to be regarded as thoroughly revolutionary.
Even if this clarification has not yet been completely carried out on the theoretical level, it must still be said that, in comparison with the March conference in Berlin, the Leipzig party conference represented a historical step forward in development. But even the Leipzig party conference is not something eternal. I am convinced that in a few months, stimulated precisely by what we have seen here, we will create a programme that will look a lot more concrete than the present Leipzig Action Programme. And since on the other hand the Communist International, I repeat, is, in its entirety, not an association for propaganda but an association for action, I am convinced, and I will do everything to bring it about, that the organisation and the action of my party will be transformed in the sense of the demands that the Communist International of the deed is making of it.
That will not be so easy since our organisation, in order to counterbalance the democratic-reformist centralisation of the old Social Democratic Party, has been decentralised. When we were still an opposition in the old party we experienced how the party leadership of Scheidemann and Ebert acted with dictatorial Powers, had party funds at their disposal, seized newspapers and adopted every conceivable violent measure. For that reason there arose among the advanced workers of Germany a powerful dislike of the central leadership, of the structure of the leadership. The result of this dislike was that the party was to a large extent decentralised. We do not have the authority that the Russian Central Committee has, and must have, in the revolutionary epoch in which we find ourselves. The harsh constraint of the revolutionary development in Germany would doubtless also have driven us to the point of adapting our organisation to revolutionary necessity. Now comes the stimulus to Germany from Russia, and we can and must overcome the decentralised mode of organisation.
For the state of affairs is that the theoretical difficulties that do exist in our party, which can be shown in any party including my own, have a strong corrective – the example of our Russian comrades, whom I am not trying to flatter, but at whom one can take a calm and sober look and say that here a clear and determined will has taken an entire people in hand, a will which, through the channels radiating out from the International, cannot fail to have an effect in Germany too. The second stimulus is this, that every kilometre the Red Army advances is a spur to the revolution, is a step towards the revolution in Germany [Applause], and this fact forces us to prepare for the necessities of the moment.
Things do not always go as one would like, but I am convinced, when we now hear that the Berlin workers staged a big demonstration over the arrest of Béla Kun, that it was not least the activity of the USPD that called on the workers to struggle for Soviet Russia, to struggle for the German revolution, and that the USPD itself will continue to work and to act in order to become a valuable part of the Communist International. It is not true that our party is a government party. One should – I do not think that this is a very important argument – one should also judge a party according to the judgement passed on it by its opponents. Follow the press – not only the Vorwärts but also the whole right-wing press in the provinces – and you will get some idea of the desperate struggle that is being waged against the USPD, and you will see that the USPD is regarded, alongside the Communist Party, as an enemy of the state.
I should like to say something about the KPD. It was founded at a time which, as I am convinced and as many others are convinced, was not exactly favourable to the communist camp. [Interjection: ‘But at that time you wanted to found a joint party!']
We wanted to do that, and why did nothing come of it? Because the first conference of the communists placed itself in principle on a basis which it later rejected, and because at the founding conference of the party there were a number of elements whom the Communist Party later had to expel. And it was these elements under whose influence the conditions were formulated, under whose influence the Communist Party was founded. But by setting up an organisation for these purposes, it became an end in itself, and a lot has been done this last year that must be characterised as lack of clear tactics or as unjustified attacks on the USPD. I can say this in relation to the question of soviets and also in relation to other questions. There can be no twisting and getting off the hook on this question.
It is very easy from the height of your theoretical wisdom to look down on the people who have to do the petty work. Revolutionary work also demands a lot of petty work. I spoke to Comrade Levi about it once, and said that in Germany the Communist Party was the schoolmaster of the revolution and the USPD the whipping-boy of the revolution. I think that the historical moment we are now in is so important that the most important thing is before us. I am firmly convinced that oil the unfortunate obstacles that block the progress of the revolution in Germany can and must be removed by the stimulus that goes out from this Congress, in which we are participating. I believe it will be possible to bring the USPD onto the same basis as the Communist International. If we pursue the theoretical controversy to the end the result will be that there will no longer be any difference between the Independents and the Communists. And then, with good will on both sides, the other, organisational question, will be solved without any further ado.
We have to furnish proof in the form of deeds, which will come in the immediate future, and which I picture to myself in the following way: insofar as I can speak for myself, we will take all the stimuli and Theses of the Communist International back to Germany with us and harness all our strength to make sure that no organisation is excluded from learning about, discussing, carrying out and practically applying these necessities. When we have informed our party apparatus – our whole party apparatus is to participate in this direction – what the Communist, International wants, we will convene our party conference, and then it will emerge whether the majority of the party adopts the standpoint of the Communist International. If that happens, then straight away there will be no room any more for people like Kautsky, who ought to be honest enough to say a public farewell to the party, and you will always be in a position, on the basis of the centralisation, of the gathering together of all our forces, to supervise our press, our party leadership, etc. We will exclude all those elements that do not adopt the standpoint of the Communist International.
We were not entrusted with the mission of affiliating, but only of listening to the conditions and saying that we have the firm intention of taking the Communist International far beyond the inadequacies of earlier Internationals to be a strong, powerful, regular International of the whole international proletariat.
Dahlströhm: If I asked for the right to speak, it was not in order to reply to the insignificant comments that Comrade Zinoviev made against my party but in order to give the Congress a little insight into conditions* in our party.
When the Socialist Left Party was formed in Sweden, this happened because of the attempt by the social-patriot, Branting, to expel our comrades L. Höglund, Kilbom and others, who were the most radical forces in the youth league, from the Social Democratic Party.
From the old party Karl Lindhagen, Ivar Vennerström and Karl Einberg, among others, took part in the formation of the new party.
The social-democratic youth league formed the nucleus of the new party. In order not to be immediately crushed by the old, powerful party, we were forced to place the party upon as broad a basis as possible. Karl Lindhagen never submitted to the decisions of the party and still does not. He calls himself ‘wild’ and has not the slightest conception of party discipline. Recently he has formed a humanist league. This league very often fights our party.
The position Lindhagen takes up in relation to the League of Nations is absurd. The Socialist Left Party has nothing to do with this bourgeois, imperialist institution.
Karl Einberg’s attitude on the disarmament question is as follows: ‘We must’, he says, ‘work for disarmament in parliament and refuse war credits.’ At the same time he recognises the arming of the working class as a necessary result of the revolutionary epoch in which we live, in which class fights against class. The same attitude is adopted by Ivar Vennerstrom, who has not, as Comrade Zinoviev said, undergone a ‘spiritual marriage’ with Branting and his party. We have nothing further to do with this Branting party. The Swedish Left Socialist Party, whose foundation is the social-democratic youth league, forms the nucleus of the party, and this youth league was the occasion of the breach with the old party and the formation of the new.
Höglund has been the leading force for many long years, and together with Frederik Strom he has led the party through the manifold difficulties it has had to undergo.
I agree completely with Comrade Zinoviev that such comrades as Karl Lindhagen do not belong in our party or even any party at all.
We have placed ourselves unreservedly on the basis of the Communist International and we recognise unreservedly the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx. The dictatorship of the proletariat and the arming of the working class is for us the precondition of the successful carrying out of the social revolution..
Comrade Zinoviev went on to say that it is characteristic that we call our theoretical magazine Zimmerwald. For us in Sweden, Zimmerwald had the significance of a turning point in the movement; in this sense the name $till lives on as the symbol of this turning point as a mere name, which has no other meaning for us.
Stöcker: Comrades, Comrade Ernst Meyer of the KPD yesterday publicly demanded that the USPD should split. To my great amazement this statement stands in open contradiction to the whole tactics of the KPD since our Leipzig party conference. Meyer has told me privately that it was a slip of the tongue, but such an important statement must be taken back publicly. At the time – in December 1918 – I considered the splitting of the KPD from our party to be a fatal mistake. That split has exacted a bitter revenge.
A split in the USPD now would be a similar serious mistake. We left no one in doubt of the fact that we very much regretted the Communists splitting off from us. We have further also declared here that, should we affiliate to the Communist International, the first thing we would want would be a rapprochement with the KPD with the aim of a complete reconciliation. If the relationship between the Communists and ourselves in the last eighteen months has at times been very troubled, then the cause was not least the many mistakes and errors from which your party has suffered as much as ours. They have undergone a process of clarification in bitter internal struggles, and we too have undergone a process of development. It is no secret that sharp differences of opinion were represented in our party. Thus we had different opinions during the war on the pacifist ideas and utterances that many of our comrades stood for and later on the question of entering the first revolutionary government, on ways and means of collaborating with the right-wing socialists and on many of that government’s measures. Later came the struggles on the questions: ‘National Assembly or soviet system’ and ‘democracy or proletarian dictatorship’. No one will be able to deny that all these questions were resolved in our party in a way that lay in the interest of the further development of the revolution.
Today our whole party stands on the standpoint of the social revolution and the proletarian dictatorship and rejects the fraudulent democracy of the bourgeoisie, even if not always with all the necessary clarity on the nature and methods of the proletarian dictatorship.
I could wish that many of our comrades had a stronger revolutionary will and sharper theoretical clarity. But our party has undergone an enormous process of development to the left, and it will develop further. At Leipzig we gave ourselves a Communist programme that has had a powerful effect on the revolutionary thought of the German proletariat. Nobody will be able to dispute that it is our party that has born the brunt of all the revolutionary mass actions in Germany in the last eighteen months in Germany. The Executive Committee of the Communist International itself said that the major part of the best elements of the German proletariat is in our party. That would certainly not be the case if our party did not have a thoroughly revolutionary practice and strong fundamental development to the left behind it. Who can today distinguish us from the Communists, since the latter have placed themselves upon a clear Marxist foundation? [Interjections.]
Certainly there are still differences of opinion within our party today. In this way Comrade Levi has reproached us with Ledebour’s remarks on terrorism. Ledebour stands more or less in isolation with his somewhat peculiar remarks. On the question of the use of force we are completely united, with perhaps one or two exceptions which are unavoidable in a mass party. And as far as terrorism is concerned, I myself declared to Comrade Ledebour in Leipzig that I could very well imagine revolutionary situations in which terrorist measures would be unavoidable. And you can be sure that if the German revolution has a knife at its throat, as you had with Denikin at Orel, Yudenich at Petrograd and Kolchak on the Volga, then the German revolution will without a doubt adopt the same revolutionary measures that were applied here in Russia. But to be clear on the necessity of doing this and to propagate terrorism openly as a programmatic tactic are two different things. I am firmly convinced that not a single communist party affiliated to the Communist International has accepted in its programme terrorism as a tactical measure.
Let us take for example the KPD. In the programme of the party written by Comrade Luxemburg it says: ‘In the bourgeois revolution bloodshed, terror and fury were an indispensable weapon in the hands of the rising classes. The proletarian revolution does not need terror to achieve its ends, it hates and curses murder.’ [Interjection from Radek: ‘Read on!'] just wait, Comrade Radek, I shall read on. Since terrorism is clearly rejected here, the use of force is recommended. On this it says: ‘The proletarian revolution is not the desperate attempt of a minority to mould the world according to their ideal, but the action of the great masses of millions of people ... the force of the proletariat must be counterposed to the force of the bourgeois counter-revolution. The fight for socialism is the most violent civil war that world history has ever seen, and the social revolution must prepare itself the necessary armaments for this civil war and must learn to use them – to struggle and to win.’ These propositions are self-evident for us. The civil war in Germany is there, we are in the middle of it, and we will do everything in our power to prepare the working class for the coming decisive struggles.
Just a few words more on two of the questions in our letter that have excited criticism. First of all the continuity of economic life during the revolution. Obviously the process of production will suffer serious disruption during the coming revolutionary struggles, first of all because of the serious consequences of the civil war and its military occurrences, secondly as a result of the transformation that we must immediately undertake of capitalist production into socialist production, and the resistance and sabotage of the employers that this will call into being. Whoever wants the social revolution will have to accept the disruption of the process of production as well. An the same, in an industrial country like Germany, we will have to place more emphasis upon maintaining economic life than is the case in an agricultural country like Russia. And thus I come to our statement that Russian methods cannot be applied mechanically to the countries of Western Europe. We do not have an army of millions of revolutionary peasants in Germany, as you do in Russia, but a counter-revolutionary peasantry that will probably place the greatest difficulties in our path. Moreover, we do have an army of millions of intellectual workers, commercial clerks, bank employees, technicians, engineers, petty officials, etc., a considerable part of whom must join us as the conscious exponents of the proletarian dictatorship if the latter is not to be doomed to failure from the very start. Thus in Germany we have other preconditions for the achievement of the dictatorship of the proletariat and perhaps in detail other forms for the exercise of the dictatorship. In general of course the lessons of the proletarian revolution in Russia are also valid for us in Germany. If our party has been slower than we could have wished in coming to the Communist International, then one reason for this, and by no means the least, is that in Germany we have a Communist Party by which the masses judge the Communist International, and we cannot and must not pass over in silence the fact that, with the exception of its Central Committee, all the local and area organisations of this party have for a long time pursued the policies of elements of what is now the KAPD.
If I mentioned the greater difficulties the social revolution faces in Germany, this was not at all because I look into the future in any sense pessimistically. On the contrary, capitalism in our country is approaching its end more and more. Economically, financially and in relation to food policy we are coming ever closer to the catastrophe of capitalism. We will soon be in the middle of new revolutionary struggles in Germany, perhaps in only a few months. We will do everything to sharpen the contradictions. We will beat the bourgeoisie and set up the German Soviet Republic. Hand in hand with Soviet Russia and the Communist International we will fight for the world revolution.
Jörgensen: I had not intended to take the floor in this discussion, but some remarks that Comrade Zinoviev made on the programme of the Danish Left Socialist Party force me to say a few words on the activity and the programme of that party.
It is obviously impossible to deal with the conditions in the Danish party in every detail in a comparatively short discussion. I should only like to point out that our party was formed by the fusion of three different parties.
1. The Socialist Workers’ Party of Denmark, which has a pure communist programme and affiliated to the Communist International as early as the beginning of 1919.
2. The Independent Social Democracy of Denmark, which was formed simultaneously with the Socialist Workers’ Party in April 1918 and had a petty-bourgeois character.
3. The Social Democratic Youth League which, until the time the unified party was formed, had thought it possible to remain in the Social Democracy.
These facts alone show that our party is composed of the most disparate elements. But developments both economic and political have driven our party more and more to the left, and our programme is the result of this rapid development. At our founding congress on February 29 and March 1 of this year, not only was it unanimously decided to affiliate to the Communist International but there was also almost unanimous acceptance of a programme that must be described as communist.
Comrade Zinoviev has found a weak point in this programme. And Comrade Zinoviev has good reason to wax ironical over the sentence he quoted. But I must draw your attention to the facts:
1. That the translation in which the sentence in question was read was very bad.
2. That the context in which the sentence occurs proves that we Danish communists do not claim that the revolution can at all events be peaceful, but that we only claim that it could perhaps take place peacefully.
You will perhaps permit me to read out the part of the programme that lays down our position on the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. [Reads].
As can be seen from our programme, there is not a single word there about the necessity for a peaceful, bloodless revolution. It is only said that it is possible that the revolution in Denmark will be bloodless. In this conception of ours we are in complete agreement with Comrade Lenin, who has often stated and written that a bloodless revolution is possible in certain economically backward countries.
The important question anyway is not whether the revolution will be bloody or bloodless. The main thing is that the working class takes the power – what means it uses is immaterial. I personally have the conception that the revolution in the economically developed countries will everywhere be bloody, probably much bloodier than the Russian revolution, since the European bourgeoisie is much stronger and better armed than the Russian bourgeoisie was.
Denmark is an economically backward country, and the Danish people are small peasants and petty bourgeois. A revolution in Denmark is unthinkable until a revolution has taken place in Germany. We are totally and utterly dependent on the development in the great states.
I admit that our programme is not complete. And yet in the paragraph concerning the dictatorship of the proletariat it is much clearer and sharper than for example the programme of the Swedish Left Socialist Party.
There would be many more grounds for criticising our activities than for criticising our programme. We have, however, in our short life carried out work that we do not at all need to be ashamed of . In the comparatively short time from December 9 to June 1 we founded and developed 45 sections of the party. We have also carried out propaganda work, particularly with our daily paper, Arbejdet.
We have to struggle against great difficulties, and all those who have the slightest knowledge of conditions in Denmark will confirm that Denmark has relatively the largest and most corrupt Social Democratic Party.
Precisely because of our conception of the necessity of the proletarian dictatorship we have to fight not only against the social democrats but also against the syndicalists, who are thoroughgoing opponents of any dictatorship.
But I will admit that we Danish communists must be driven more and more to the left, and we can be thankful when we get from the Communist International the stimulus to ever more revolutionary agitation and action.
Development has completely and utterly proved that all belief in a gradual, imperceptible growing over into socialism must be regarded as a utopia. The socialisation of the means of production can only come about through ever more violent class struggles culminating in the social revolution. _Whether this is concluded quickly and bloodlessly depends on whether the bourgeoisie itself realises that its role has been played out.
How long the subsequent dictatorship of the proletariat, which is necessary to transform production and distribution, will last, is also indirectly dependent on the behaviour of the bourgeoisie. The takeover of all means of production and all property, as well as the cultivation of the land, is to be carried out by town and country soviets, which at the same time take over political power and replace the bourgeois parliament.
Denmark’s Left Socialist Party considers it to be its duty to rally the working class on this basis and to prepare them for the great decisive fight between the upper and lower classes.
The party does not strive only for the dictatorship of one social class, but considers it to be a necessary transitional state. This dictatorship can never be achieved by unplanned attempts at putsch or revolution. What the party strives for as a final goal is harmonious social relations under which the system of exploitation and violence is abolished, and it therefore opposes militarism with all its might.
In its fight the party will ascribe the greatest value to the socialist enlightenment of the masses and extra-parliamentary action, but it will at the same time use parliamentarism (participation in parliamentary and local elections) until the revolutionary moment in time has come when, through the town and country soviets, it can create a form of government for the political and economic equality of all – the democracy of labour.
Friis: [Reads the following declaration]: The Norwegian delegation draws your attention to the fact that in the Conditions for Entry into the Communist International the special form of organisation of the Norwegian Labour Party, the collective affiliation of the trades unions to the party, is not taken into account.
Referring to its report on party activity, the delegation proposes that negotiations should be started between the Executive Committee and the parties in question that permit collective membership.
Zinoviev: On this I can only say that we will take the opportunity to examine the situation thoroughly and we advise the Norwegian party to introduce a new party structure, so that individual membership replaces collective membership.
The Swedish party has also confirmed what has been said here.
The Yugoslav party is not an opportunist party, and I did not mean .that, but a revolutionary party. But it should not tolerate opportunists in its ranks.
I should like moreover to propose the following motion: [The motion is read out.]
It would be very good for the parties of every county if they were a little afraid of the Communist International. We should always have a mirror in which the parties can see their reflections.
The Executive Committee was asked yesterday why the KAPD is not represented. The representatives of the KAPD, Rühle and Merges, declared at the last minute that they did not want to attend the Congress. We had at the outset granted them an advisory vote, but at the last minute we proposed they should have a full vote because we wanted to force them to a discussion. They nevertheless refused to attend the Congress with the declaration that they had read our Theses and were convinced that we were too opportunist for them. They ran away from the Congress. They did not have enough confidence in themselves to represent their views before a forum like the Communist International. They are therefore not here because they did not want to be here.
I agree with those comrades who said that the last declaration of Cachin and Frossard was a sort of retreat. After I received their declaration I wrote them the following letter. [The letter is read out.]
They wrote me a letter in answer. [The letter is read out.]
So now we must wait and see what follows.
Now I come to the group of speakers who have criticised the Executive Committee from the ‘left’. Wijnkoop and others said that it was wrong of the Executive Committee to allow such people as the Independents and the French in at all. I ask the Congress, have we lost anything by negotiating so clearly and so exhaustively with these representatives? Will it be bad if yesterday’s and today’s minutes are published and workers read them? On the contrary. It is good that these opinions will now be clear to the whole world. Comrade Goldenberg made a whole long speech about how impossible it would be to accept such elements into the Communist International. Well, we are not proposing to do that. We are only asking you to give the Executive a mandate to check after the Congress whether the conditions have been followed. We have, in the name of the praesidium of the Congress, given the French delegation a letter which you have perhaps read today in the Russian press. We told them that Longuet was a social pacifist and not a revolutionary, that his past and that of his friends was a shameful one. Unity with Renaudel and Thomas means the same as unity with the dog Noske. We told them straight out what we had to tell them. This letter will be published in France by the Communists and perhaps by Humanité, and the French will be able to read it and judge it. In this way we will talk to the workers who still have confidence in the centrists. What would we have told them if we had not negotiated with Cachin and Frossard?
We have nothing to fear from Crispien’s Kautskyanism. We have not proposed to the Congress that these elements should be accepted into the Communist International, so you do not need to slam any open doors. We will not accept the USPD and the French Socialist Party as they are now. We demand a purge and a transformation of the entire politics of these parties. And we will get it.
It will be a step forward if these Theses are read out everywhere in the factories and at meetings.
Let the centrists write counter-theses and present them to the masses. The action has started to move now. That is why I say that this so-called opposition from the ‘left’ is groundless and is limping with both feet. That is precisely the ‘futurism’ that Guilbeaux spoke about. I repeat, the only thing that we have proposed is this, that first of all the Executive should be convinced that all the conditions are really being fulfilled, and afterwards the Executive must have the mandate to accept these parties and also, in accordance with the statutes of the Communist International, the right to expel them at any time. We are sufficiently armed and need have nothing to fear.
To Comrade Serrati I should like to say the following: The position in Italy is intolerable for the Communist International. The whole trades union movement in Italy is in the hands of reformists. For that the party is to blame. Comrades, I must inform you that the Italian trades unions have now failed to convene a Congress for the seventh year in succession, and this is tolerated by a party that belongs to the Communist International! The people of D'Aragona’s stamp know that the workers will throw them out as soon as they convene a congress. Such concessions are a scandal! How can you carry out a proletarian revolution when the leaders of the trades unions are dyed-in-the-wool reformists?! So, comrades, you can see that matters are not so harmless and friendly as Serrati described them in his speech. The Communist International cannot tolerate that. If the leaders of the Italian party want to continue to tolerate it, we will appeal over their heads to the Italian workers.
One more word, comrades, on the left in the USPD. We know very well that the USPD is a formless bloc of two tendencies. When one listens to Crispien, one has to say that he says the same as Kautsky. The representatives of the left USPD comforted us. The comrades said: ‘But things are moving forwards. Don’t be so impatient. Everything will sort itself out. just wait.’ I ask: Is that all you have to tell us, Comrade Däumig? I think it is very unsatisfactory, comrade. Are the difficulties that place themselves in our path really a reason for us to bring our actions to a standstill?’ But things are moving forwards none the less’, says the left in the USPD comfortingly, instead of acting. We used to be proud of the fact that our party is a factor in history, that we accelerated the course of history. The comfort offered by the USPD is no good. You signed a statement of the USPD Central Committee, Comrade Däumig, which is really no brilliant chapter in the history of the USPD. How was that possible? Because the left in the USPD is not organised because it does not know what it wants, because it cannot liberate itself from the embrace of the moribund right-wing opportunists. The proletariat had to show you the way.
We passed a resolution on the role of the party. Why have you not said anything on this point? We have shown how the Bolsheviks were able, at the beginning of the war, in the stream of chauvinism, to swim against the stream when it was necessary.
It is our historical task to lead the way for the working class, and not to wait until we are dragged forward. We have waited long enough. The working class has waited long enough, now the decisive struggles have come.
It is possible that even in the next few months the working class in Germany will be faced with decisive struggles. How can you still waver on the question of terror? I think we have taken enough punches in Russia. You should learn from our mistakes too. We experienced how, after we released him, General Krasnov organised the civil war. You are forgetting the lessons of your own German revolution, of the murder of Liebknecht. There is scarcely a single street in the working-class districts of the big German towns where workers’ blood has not flowed. We must take these lessons to heart.
I ask the Congress that we should now adopt the Conditions, hand them over to the Commission for final editing, and then vote on them. But whoever signs these 21 points is not being baptised a communist. We must follow whether the parties are really carrying out these conditions, and I hope that the Executive Committee will do this. We do not need people to genuflect before the Russian revolution and the Communist International. All we need is for people in other countries to do their duty and carry out their obligations. We do not only feel ourselves to be a party that rules a great country, but also – and that is our pride – a Communist Party which, together with other parties, has founded the Communist International. It is, indeed, not for nothing that we talk about a world revolution, and the Communist International is not a Russian but a world organisation. We are proud that the Congress can take place on our territory. Naturally we are also proud when we hear many of you say that something has been achieved here in Russia. But we must demand that you do not come at us with phrases, but that you tell us openly and clearly when the Italian trades union movement, the magnificent Italian working class is at last going to be liberated, when really communist parties are finally going to be built everywhere.
That is why, comrades, I ask you to accept the following Theses:
The First Congress of the Communist International did not draw up precise conditions for admission to the Communist International. Until the time the first congress was convened there were in most countries only communist trends and groups. The Second Congress of the Communist International meets under different conditions. At the present time there are in most countries not only communist trends and tendencies, but communist parties and organisations.
Now parties and groups often turn to the Communist International which quite recently belonged to the Second International, which wish to join the Communist International but which have not, in fact, become communist. The Second International has been finally smashed to pieces. The parties in between and the ‘centre’ groups, which realise the hopelessness of the Second International, now try to lean upon the Communist International, which is becoming more and more powerful. In the process, however, they hope to retain an ‘autonomy’ that will permit them to continue their previous opportunist or ‘centrist’ policies. To a certain extent the Communist International is becoming fashionable.
The desire of certain leading ‘centrist’ groups to join the Communist International is an indirect confirmation of the fact that the Communist International has gained the sympathy of the overwhelming majority of class-conscious workers all over the world and that it is becoming a force that grows more powerful each day.
The Communist International is threatened by the danger of being watered down by elements characterised by vacillation and half-measures, which have not yet finally discarded the ideology of the Second International.
Moreover, to this very day there remains in some big parties (Italy, Sweden, Norway, Yugoslavia, among others), whose majorities have adopted the standpoint of communism, a significant reformist and social-pacifist wing which is only waiting for the opportunity to raise its head again, to start active sabotage of the proletarian revolution and thus to help the bourgeoisie and the Second International.
Not a single communist may forget the lessons of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. The fusion of the Hungarian communists with the so-called ‘left’ social democrats cost the Hungarian proletariat dear.
Consequently the Second Congress of the Communist International considers it necessary to establish quite precisely the conditions for the admittance of new parties and to point out to those parties that have been admitted to the Communist International the duties incumbent on them.
The Second Congress of the Communist International lays down the following conditions of membership of the Communist International:
1. All propaganda and agitation must bear a really communist character and correspond to the programme and decisions of the Communist International. All the party’s press organs must be run by reliable communists who have proved their devotion to the cause of the proletariat. The dictatorship of the proletariat must not be treated simply as a current formula learnt off by heart. Propaganda for it must be carried out in such a way that its necessity is comprehensible to every simple worker, every woman worker, every soldier and peasant from the facts of their daily lives, which must be observed systematically by our press and used day by day.
The periodical and other press and all the party’s publishing institutions must be subordinated to the party leadership, regardless of whether, at any given moment, the party as a whole is legal or illegal. The publishing houses must not be allowed to abuse their independence and pursue policies that do not entirely correspond to the policies of the party.
In the columns of the press, at public meetings, in the trades unions, in the co-operatives – wherever the members of the Communist International can gain admittance – it is necessary to brand not only the bourgeoisie but also its helpers, the reformists of every shade, systematically and pitilessly.
2. Every organisation that wishes to affiliate to the Communist International must regularly and methodically remove reformists and centrists from every responsible post in the labour movement (party organisations, editorial boards, trades unions, parliamentary factions, co-operatives, local government) and replace them with tested communists, without worrying unduly about the fact that, particularly at first, ordinary workers from the masses will be replacing ‘experienced’ opportunists.
3. In almost every country in Europe and America the class struggle is entering the phase of civil war. Under such conditions the communists can place no trust in bourgeois legality. They have the obligation of setting up a parallel organisational apparatus which, at the decisive moment, can assist the party to do its duty to the revolution. In every country where a state of siege or emergency laws deprive the communists of the opportunity of carrying on all their work legally, it is absolutely necessary to combine legal and illegal activity.
4. The duty of propagating communist ideas includes the special obligation of forceful and systematic propaganda in the army. Where this agitation is interrupted by emergency laws it must be continued illegally. Refusal to carry out such work would be tantamount to a betrayal of revolutionary duty and would be incompatible with membership of the Communist International.
5. Systematic and methodical agitation is necessary in the countryside. The working class will not be able to win if it does not have the backing of the rural proletariat and at least a part of the poorest peasants, and if it does not secure the neutrality of at least a part of the rest of the rural population through its policies. Communist work in the countryside is taking on enormous importance at the moment. It must be carried out principally with the help of revolutionary communist workers of the town and country who have connections with the countryside. To refuse to carry this work out, or to entrust it to unreliable, semi-reformist hands, is tantamount to renouncing the proletarian revolution.
6. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International has the obligation to unmask not only open social-patriotism but also the insincerity and hypocrisy of social-pacificism, to show the workers systematically that, without the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, no international court of arbitration, no agreement on the limitation of armaments, no ‘democratic’ reorganisation of the League of Nations will be able to prevent new imperialist wars.
7. The parties that wish to belong to the Communist International have the obligation of recognising the necessity of a complete break with reformism and ‘centrist’ politics and of spreading this break among the widest possible circles of their party members. Consistent communist politics are impossible without this.
The Communist International unconditionally and categorically demands the carrying out of this break in the shortest possible time. The Communist International cannot tolerate a situation where notorious opportunists, as represented by Turati, Modigliani, Kautsky, Hilferding, Hillquit, Longuet, MacDonald, etc., have the right to pass as members of the Communist International. This could only lead to the Communist International becoming something very similar to the wreck of the Second International.
8. A particularly marked and clear attitude on the question of the colonies and oppressed nations is necessary on the part of the communist parties of those countries whose bourgeoisies are in possession of colonies and oppress other nations. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International has the obligation of exposing the dodges of its ‘own’ imperialists in the colonies, of supporting every liberation movement in the colonies not only in words but in deeds, of demanding that their imperialist compatriots should be thrown out of the colonies, of cultivating in the hearts of the workers in their own country a truly fraternal relationship to the working population in the colonies and to the oppressed nations, and of carrying out systematic propaganda among their own country’s troops against any oppression of colonial peoples.
9. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International must systematically and persistently develop communist activities within the trades unions, workers’ and works councils, the consumer co-operatives and other mass workers’ organisations. Within these organisations it is necessary to organise communist cells which are to win the trades unions etc. for the cause of communism by incessant and persistent work. In their daily work the cells have the obligation to expose everywhere the treachery of the social patriots and the vacillations of the ‘centrists’. The communist cells must be completely subordinated to the party as a whole.
10. Every party belonging to the Communist International has the obligation to wage a stubborn struggle against the Amsterdam ‘International’ of yellow trade union organisations. It must expound as forcefully as possible among trades unionists the idea of the necessity of the break with the yellow Amsterdam International. It must support the International Association of Red Trades Unions affiliated to the Communist International, at present in the process of formation, with every means at its disposal.
11. Parties that wish to belong to the Communist International have the obligation to subject the personal composition of their parliamentary factions to review, to remove all unreliable elements from them and to subordinate these factions to the party leadership, not only in words but also in deeds, by calling on every individual communist member of parliament to subordinate the whole of his activity to the interests of really revolutionary propaganda and agitation.
12. The parties belonging to the Communist International must be built on the basis of the principle of democratic centralism. In the present epoch of acute civil war the communist party will only be able to fulfil its duty if it is organised in as centralist a manner as possible, if iron discipline reigns within it and if the party centre, sustained by the confidence of the party membership, is endowed with the fullest rights and authority and the most far-reaching powers.
13. The communist parties of those countries in which the communists can carry out their work legally must from time to time undertake purges (re-registration) of the membership of their party organisations in order to cleanse the party systematically of the petty-bourgeois elements within it.
14. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International has the obligation to give unconditional support to every soviet republic in its struggle against the forces of counter-revolution. The communist parties must carry out clear propaganda to prevent the transport of war material to the enemies of the soviet republics. They must also carry out legal or illegal propaganda, etc., with every means at their disposal among troops sent to stifle workers’ republics.
15. Parties that have still retained their old social democratic programmes have the obligation of changing those programmes as quickly as possible and working out a new communist programme corresponding to the particular conditions in the country and in accordance with the decisions of the Communist International.
As a rule the programme of every party belonging to the Communist International must be ratified by a regular Congress of the Communist International or by the Executive Committee. Should the Executive Committee of the Communist International reject a party’s programme, the party in question has the right of appeal to the Congress of the Communist International.
16. All decisions of the Congresses of the Communist International and decisions of its Executive Committee are binding on all parties belonging to the Communist International. The Communist International, acting under conditions of the most acute civil war, must be built in a far more centralist manner than was the case with the Second International. In the process the Communist International and its Executive Committee must, of course, in the whole of its activity, take into account the differing conditions under which the individual parties have to fight and work, and only take generally binding decisions in cases where such decisions are possible.
17. In this connection all those parties that wish to belong to the Communist International must change their names. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International must bear the name Communist Party of this or that country (Section of the Communist International). The question of the name is not formal, but a highly political question of great importance. The Communist International has declared war on the whole bourgeois world and on all yellow social-democratic parties. The difference between the communist parties and the old official ‘social-democratic’ or ‘socialist’ parties that have betrayed the banner of the working class must be clear to every simple toiler.
18. All the leading press organs of the parties in every country have the duty of printing all the important official documents of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
19. All parties that belong to the Communist International or have submitted an application for membership have the duty of calling a special congress as soon as possible, and in no case later than four months after the Second Congress of the Communist International, in order to check all these conditions. In this connection all party centres must see that the decisions of the Second Congress are known to all their local organisations.
20. Those parties that now wish to enter the Communist International but have not yet radically altered their previous tactics must, before they join the Communist International, see to it that no less than two thirds of the central committee and of all their most important central institutions consist of comrades who even before the Second Congress of the Communist International spoke out unambiguously in public in favour of the entry of the party into the Communist International. Exceptions may be permitted with the agreement of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. The Executive Committee of the Communist International also has the right to make exceptions in relation to the representatives of the centrist tendency mentioned in paragraph 7.
21. Those party members who fundamentally reject the conditions and Theses laid down by the Communist International are to be expelled from the party.
The same will apply particularly to delegates to the special party congress.
Zinoviev: The general discussion is over. Some comrades have asked for the right to speak in order to make personal declarations.
Serrati: It is possible that the short declaration I made in my speech on the Theses that were being discussed was not understood. What I said here was that I am in complete agreement with them and that I shall vote for them because I think that the Executive Committee of the Communist International conceives them in a broad sense, in accordance with Paragraphs 16 and 17. I would also like to say that Zinoviev is right to regret the fact that the Italian CGT has not called a Congress in the last six or seven years. I am not replying to Comrade Zinoviev for personal or political reasons, but simply for the sake of order. The congress of the Italian CGT is being prepared.
I would like to make a short remark with reference to Dugoni. I alone was opposed to the parliamentary group being sent to Russia. Yesterday I sent off a telegram demanding that Dugoni, if he really made the declaration that has been ascribed to him, should be immediately expelled from the party.
Wijnkoop: Comrade Levi understood my remarks to mean that I did not wish to criticise the KPD because the USPD was present. He is mistaken. I only want to establish the fact that, since the USPD was present, the KPD was not subjected to any criticism. I regretted that and I said that the conclusions drawn from that fact were mistaken.
Dittmann: When this morning Comrade Levi accused us of having disavowed the sailors murdered at Kiel and Willielmshaven, he forgot that I declared from the rostrum that these sailors died as heroes and martyrs of the German revolution, a declaration that the reactionary press was not slow to emphasise. The role of these sailors and of their deeds is anyway known only through its consequences. Levi has therefore stated a false fact from the rostrum.
Levi: I did not blame the USPD, but three men, three leaders of that party, who disavowed our revolutionary sailors. They did not disavow them in the literal sense of the word, they confined themselves to disavowing this deed from the political standpoint. Otherwise they would have had to call upon the proletariat and the army to follow them, which they prudently avoided doing. [Applause.]
Dittmann: I do not think that a distinction can be drawn here. You will appreciate that I do not carry all the minutes of all the Reichstag debates I have ever spoken in around in my pocket. What I said about the facts of the case itself in the Reichstag was the literal truth. We only exchanged a few words in passing with the sailors and gave them our party’s agitational pamphlet. We did not know at that time what the sailors intended to do.
Levi: Comrade Wijnkoop misunderstood me. I accused him of having fallen victim to the ideology of the USPD since he did not want to talk openly about the KPD in the presence of the USPD.
Comrade Dittmann is right to emphasise here that the three USPD representatives did not forget themselves so far as to rob the sailors of their personal honour too. They let the executed sailors keep their personal honour. But the question is whether at that moment the USPD stood up for the sailors politically and declared its solidarity with them. The USPD disavowed the fallen sailors. It did not seize the opportunity to carry out propaganda for the end of the war. It distanced itself from these people and has remained’ at a distance to this very day.
Dittmann: I think that drawing distinctions between personal and political defence is a barrister’s method.
Levi: I would like to remind the comrade that we have often drawn a distinction between the personal and the political standpoint. I could point to the Russian anarchists whose political methods we reject but whose personalities on the other hand we respect.
Dittmann: Unfortunately, comrades, the whole affair has been misrepresented. The leadership turned against the representatives of the USPD to rob them of their parliamentary immunity. This is the basis of the whole affair. In our speeches in parliament we always fought for the ending of the terrible slaughter.
And I can really see no difference between my personal evaluation of what the sailors did, which I expressed in the Reichstag, and our political evaluation.
Levi: I am forced to remind you once again that it is normal to draw a distinction between a political and an individual action. The Russian anarchists’ terror filled us with personal sympathy for those who carried it out, but we certainly refused to approve of it politically.
Dittmann: I firmly maintain the opinion I expressed before.
Goldenberg: I shall vote against the Theses proposed to us by the Executive Committee. I ask you to allow me to read out a declaration or to hand it over to the bureau to be included in the minutes.
Serrati: If it is a question of a personal declaration you have a right to read it out.
Goldenberg: It is a personal declaration. It reads:
‘The normal process of development of the capitalist order, which has been accelerated by the imperialist war of 1914-1918, has divided the proletariat of every country into two mutually opposed camps the faction of the reformists and the faction of the revolutionaries. The Communist Party expresses the revolutionary tendency. The Communist International, which embraces all the Communist Parties of every country, is the international organisation of the revolutionary proletariat.
‘Since it has set itself the goal of violently overthrowing the capitalist order and setting up communism with the help of the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is very important that it contains no elements which can betray the interests of revolution at the decisive moment. Consequently all non-communist elements must be expelled from the Communist International.
‘There can therefore be no question of any possibility of admitting so-called centrist parties to the Communist International. As representatives of the labour aristocracy who have adopted bourgeois ideology they in no way fulfil any of the preconditions for entry into it. They are its most determined opponents. It is purely and simply the failure of the attempt to gather the parties and factions hostile to the Communist International around themselves that has forced them to knock on our door. Under these conditions the adoption of communist principles can only be enormous hypocrisy.
‘The tactic that the Communist International must adopt towards these “centrist” parties in which the split between the reformists and the revolutionaries has not yet taken place must consist in supporting that split and the formation of a purely communist party that is the expression of the revolutionary faction of the proletariat.
‘But this split cannot be called forth from outside in an artificial manner. It must be the result of a profound movement of the masses. Oral acceptance of the principles of communist tactics on the part of the opportunist leaders, who are very far from carrying out this transformation in deeds, can on the contrary only damage it by increasing the confusion reigning in peoples’ heads. It can have no other result than to discredit communism and thus to render the creation of a real party of the working class more difficult.
‘The Communist International will therefore reply to these “centrist “ parties’ applications for admission with open and inexorable criticism of these parties. It will have to show the masses that follow them that they must break with the petty bourgeois ideology of their opportunist leaders and adopt the standpoint of the communist minority completely and without reservation. They must in any case work in close agreement with this minority and make their activity in their narrow circle easier. Finally, everywhere that a split has become possible, this must be encouraged as the only means to unite the working class on a purely revolutionary programme. To abandon this standpoint to make it easier for the centrist parties to enter the Communist International would mean bringing gangrene into a healthy body and accepting into its midst enemies who will stab it in the back at the decisive moment.’
Serrati: Comrade Zinoviev informs me that he does not accept Comrade Goldenberg’s theses.
Guilbeaux: The bureau has several motions which are, I believe, to be referred back to the commission. But I propose we should vote on the motion from Serrati and Graziadei that forbids communists to belong to the Freemasons.
Serrati: We will take a vote on Guilbeaux’s proposal. [Unanimously accepted.]
Serrati: I propose that we vote on the Theses as a whole and refer the proposals back to the commission. [Accepted.]
Wijnkoop: I propose that we discuss at least one motion here and not in the commission. I mean the proposal that in every party that wishes to join the Communist International at least two thirds of the membership of the central committee must have been in favour of entry into the Communist International before this Congress.
Radek: I propose that we refer this motion to the commission. We must discuss seriously whether we can see the situation in the USPD saved by having specifically nine tenths or three quarters of the central committee. Personally, after the performance of Comrades Däumig and Stöcker, I have lost any hope that they will be able to carry out any real changes in the party’s tactics, even if they have nine tenths of the central committee. I propose that we leave this motion to the commission.
Serrati: I shall now take a vote on Comrade Wijnkoop’s motion [A vote is taken.] The motion is rejected. It will be referred to the commission for amendment.
I shall now take a vote on Comrade Zinoviev’s Theses in the form in which they are presented here. [The vote follows. The Theses are passed with two votes against.]
We must now establish the agenda for our work. The bureau proposes to close the discussion at 5 o'clock. It is now 6 o'clock. Today’s work is finished. Tomorrow there will be a women’s conference. All the commissions must work on Sunday. On Monday at 11 o'clock in the morning there will be a full session on parliamentarism. The commission on the agrarian question will meet at 8 o'clock in the evening in the small hall.
Wijnkoop: We must take a vote on whether we wish to give the Executive a mandate to continue the negotiations with the USPD and the French party in the same way that it started them and carried them out.
Serrati: Since this motion has been introduced at the last minute I ask Comrade Wijnkoop to withdraw his motion and raise it again tomorrow.
Radek demands the floor. Serrati refuses him, as the session has already been closed. The session is closed at 6 o'clock.