Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International
The session is opened at 9.30. The debate on parliamentarism is continued.
Herzog: Dear comrades, the attempt is being made here to force through a decision that the Communist Parties must apply revolutionary parliamentarism in all those countries of which Comrade Bukharin said that, up to now, no revolutionary activity at all on the Russian pattern has yet been practised in their parliaments, although the economic developments in those countries, like, for example, France, England and Switzerland, have long been ripe for a proletarian revolution.
Why is the proletariat in these countries so backward in revolutionary tactics? Precisely because, in these republics and democracies, the possibility of improving the life of the proletariat existed. It was possible there, with the help of parliamentarism, to achieve many good reforms for the proletariat, and because that was possible it is understandable why no revolutionary activity could develop there. That is the reason why the workers in these countries are so slow to arrive at revolution and find it so difficult to take on the revolutionary strength to act that is present in the Russians. In Russia it was quite different. The proletariat could not work legally. It could not force through reforms there and improve its conditions. It had to go onto the streets and carry out revolutionary actions. And therefore no parliamentarism could develop here in Russia as it did in the Western European countries. Now our Russian comrades come to us and say: ‘Things in Western Europe will now be different from what they were previously. Previously it was impossible to act in a revolutionary way in parliament, but now we are in a different situation and now such a possibility does exist, even in Western Europe and America. We will give all the Communist Parties certain guidelines. We will tell the factions how they must work, and then revolutionary work will be done there as well.'
But I do not think that that is possible. For one thing, simply because these rules themselves leave open the possibility that the Communist Parties too can work in an opportunist way. We had a long discussion in the Commission on how Communist representatives on local councils should behave, what Communist local councillors must do if they are in a majority. Comrade Bukharin said there: ‘If you are in the majority you must try to improve the conditions of the workers in order to sharpen the contradiction between the Communist local council and the state.’ That is precisely what the opportunists too tell us when they go into parliament.
They say: ‘We go in in order to sharpen from here outwards the conflicts between the proletariat and the state. We want to fight for improvements, but all that has the purpose merely of sharpening the Conflict between capital and labour.’ Here the possibility is left open for precisely these opportunist elements, which are here already inside the Communist International, to work in an opportunist way even as Communist Parties, and to bring all parliamentarism to this slippery path. Another possibility is also provided by the course the Communist International has taken in order to accept all ‘revolutionary’ parties into the Communist International. It will not be long before the majority of the USPD and of the French Socialist Party are In the Communist International. Naturally the majority of the small social-democratic parties must also come to Moscow. Platten has already been sent to Switzerland on this mission. Thus still more opportunist elements will manage to enter the Communist International, who will not become revolutionary Communists overnight. They will carry out exactly the same policies in the Communist International as they carried out previously in the Second International.
That is the danger that we see and that makes us recognise that, in the form that is proposed here, parliamentarism cannot in fact be applied in the western countries. We have a practical example of that. We have been told today that the Bulgarian Communist Party is a model example of revolutionary parliamentarism, that its parliamentary faction works splendidly. I recently read an article which said precisely the opposite. Further, I had the opportunity to talk to a Bulgarian comrade who went from Moscow to Bulgaria a parliamentarian and who, when he saw how the Bulgarian Communist parliamentary faction worked, became a supporter of anti-parliamentarism, and returned as such. That is proof that parliamentarism cannot be developed in every country in the same way that it was carried out earlier in Russia by the Communists.
The Social Democrats in Germany too, old Wilhelm Liebknecht and Bebel, declared: ‘We only go into parliament in order to exploit this rostrum in a revolutionary way.’ This revolutionary activity, however, was soon transformed into opportunism and reformism, because the possibility for it existed, and now the Social Democratic Party is an open party of social traitors.
Naturally you can decide that parliamentarism must be carried out by the communist Parties. We are not anti-parliamentarian in such a doctrinaire way as to say: ‘We shall not submit to the decision of the Communist International.’ We can try the experiment for a period, but we are convinced that it will not succeed, and that after a year or two, at the next Congress, on the basis of practice and experience, it will be said: ‘It would have been better if we had kept our hand off that and concentrated all our forces in the factories, in the army and among the peasants. That would have been much more advantageous for the development of the revolution and for the Communist International.'
Murphy: On the question of parliamentarism I do not agree with my colleague from the Shop Stewards who spoke this afternoon. I believe that all the attacks that have been made against parliamentarism today, and all the criticism that has been directed against it, referred to bourgeois parliamentarism and not revolutionary parliamentarism.
It is true that many representatives of the socialist movement who have entered parliament have become traitors. But that is not sufficient reason to condemn any activity at all within parliamentary institutions. I have never yet heard anyone claim that the tactics that Comrade Liebknecht followed in the German Reichstag and the Bolshevik representatives in the Russian Duma produced anything other than good results for the revolutionary movement.
It is senseless to claim that we must remain outside an institution simply because the people inside look bourgeois, or that one is forced to remain outside the trades unions and similar organisations because, although its members belong to the working class, no one can deny that their ideology is, in the main, petty bourgeois.
The problem before us is not one of keeping ourselves pure before the world, but of taking the revolutionary fight not only into the institutions of the working class but also into the enemy’s camp. Many arguments have been brought forward which deal with the propagandist and agitational value of revolutionary parliamentarism, arguments that I shall not repeat. In my view there are other, very important prospects which show that revolutionary parliamentarism can be of great value and is of great value even where the industrial organisations of the workers are highly developed.
No important struggle of the workers against the exploiting class can take place outside parliament without having a mighty echo inside parliament. That was especially confirmed in the experience of the shop stewards movement. From time to time, when the workers were driven into a big industrial struggle, the state machine operated against them, and even those who had declared themselves to be anti-parliamentarians invariably saw themselves forced to collaborate with the labour representatives in parliament, and thus became part of the agitation within the parliamentary institution. From time to time the members of the industrial movement, including the anti-parliamentarians, visited the labour representatives and other members of parliament in order to secure their help in the form of a protest or agitation within that institution. This tactic is forced on the militant movement precisely through the changing situation in which the workers find themselves from time to time. It is not always possible to undertake strike action, and strike movements cannot always be maintained by the enthusiasm of the workers. There are moments when it is possible to cast down the gauntlet to the enemy and refuse negotiations, that is to say when a frontal attack proves to be possible. But there are also times when enthusiasm wanes and the enemy proves to be stronger than we are. Then it is necessary to unite all possible forces, to make flanking attacks, to stage protest meetings here and there, briefly, to do everything to hold our forces together. It is especially on such occasions that we recognise the value of agitational forces inside parliament, and on such occasions our movement is forced to exploit them.
It must also not be forgotten that crises have their origins in centres other than in those of the industrial organisations. We have repeatedly seen that proposals and measures have been laid before parliament which, if they came into force, would have a vital effect on the movement outside parliament. We have seen such proposals and measures become law without the slightest agitation in the industrial and social life of the masses being carried out before their acceptance. Had there been revolutionaries in parliament who stood in living contact with the movement outside parliament, then the proposal of these measures would have been the signal not only for a protest inside parliament but also for a rising of the masses and the mobilisation of their forces for the fight outside parliament.
These situations and these experiences force us to recognise the many-sided nature of our struggle. To renounce the weapon of parliamentary representation by the Communists on the one hand, and to be in the shameful position of having to appeal to the liberal and reformist people of the Labour Party for help on the other, would be the summit of stupidity. We must fight inside parliament as revolutionaries, as revolutionaries who know how to confront the changing necessities of the struggle, and who are not afraid to go amongst the enemy when the occasion demands such a measure.
Revolutionary parliamentarism is not an end but a means , and wherever we turn our Communist Party into a really revolutionary fighting organ, parliamentarism is a very effective means of contributing to the mobilisation of the masses for the conquest of power. For these reasons I support the Theses of the Executive Committee of the Communist International on parliamentarism.
Souchy: Comrades, first of all it gives me a certain satisfaction to see that, here at the Congress, where fundamentally radical Social-Democrats are gathered, the standpoint of anti-parliamentarism is represented not only by the Anarcho-Syndicalists but also by the Communists. That is a concession to the standpoint of the Anarchists as adopted 40 years ago. When today one heard Comrade Bukharin defending his standpoint, one had the feeling that he was defending something that he himself does not rightly believe in. And I do not believe that I am the only one to have had this feeling. Comrade Bukharin defended parliamentarism as a means that cannot lead to socialism. All are agreed that parliamentarism is not a means to lead to communism. Nevertheless, this means is recommended to revolutionary workers. That is a remarkable standpoint. To recommend a means which one admits cannot lead to the end is senseless. The Executive Committee of the Communist International is committing precisely this stupidity by recommending this standpoint.
We must be agreed that it is precisely parliamentarism that has contributed most of all to lulling the masses, and that it is precisely parliamentarism that prevented them from adopting really revolutionary means and applying direct action. That is an old argument. But the standpoint that one is trying to represent here as the new parliamentarism is just as old and threadbare, and one is trying to reintroduce it here as ‘new’. Does one then not know that precisely now in Germany, Finland and Russia parliamentarism has gone most strikingly bankrupt? Is it not half-baked to recommend this bankrupt parliamentarism once more to the workers? Of course, gentlemen like the Independents, who are professional politicians, will try to recommend it to the workers; but the workers, and also a large part of the Communists, are turning away from it more and more. Those who defend parliamentarism here are those gentlemen who tried to call off the General Strike during the Kapp Week’ in Germany.
[This refers to the army putsch headed by General von Luttwitz which on March 13, 1920 ousted the government of Gustav Bauer and Gustav Noske and proclaimed Wolfgang Kapp, a reactionary politician from East Prussia, as Chancellor. The trades unions declared a general strike and Kapp fell after only four days. However, the KPD (German Communist Party) was unable to gain any advantage from the situation, one in which the working class had power in its grasp.]
The attitude of the Communist International towards parliamentarism is dished up as new, revolutionary parliamentarism. This new parliamentarism however reveals itself to be the old error of social democracy in its infancy, for social democracy adopted precisely the same standpoint in its early days. It is the same error into which one is falling here. New arguments are being sought for the old, worn-out parliamentarism. One is Marxist, and that means a lot. One is theoretically prejudiced and dogmatic. Marxists have taken the idea of parliamentarism in with their mother’s milk as children. Parliamentarism has entered the flesh and blood of these dogmatists, and has grown together organically not only with their thinking but also with their emotions and their desires. With these dogmatists parliamentarism is anchored, not in the realm of logic, but in the sub-conscious, in the realm of the psyche. If, then, even today revolutionaries talk about the applicability of parliamentarism, then we are not dealing with a logically based means of fighting, but with a psychological phenomenon. The attempt is made to prove by logic what is regarded as the best from the very start. This is where we must seek the roots of the ‘new, revolutionary’ parliamentarism, not in any logical argumentation. One is simply dogmatic from the very start. Thus parliamentarism is an opportunist illusion, but not a means of struggle of the revolutionary workers for communism. We must regard this so-called means of struggle as such an illusion, and not as a ‘new revolutionary’ parliamentarism, as Comrade Murphy has just said.
It is said that it is, admittedly, impossible to achieve communism in this way, but that the wish is to use parliament as a rostrum to reach circles that one could not otherwise reach. I tell you that this argument is very difficult to justify logically. If there was no other means, then one would have, admittedly, to adopt this one. But it is not true, there are other means; if we occupy ourselves with it in an unprejudiced way we will find them. Let us be conscious of the fact that, precisely by recommending parliamentarism, we repel the revolutionary elements of the working class who do not recognise parliamentarism. If the elements on the one hand that are repelled are weighed against those on the other that could possibly be reached, I think that the former would prove to be far more important for the social revolution than the latter. For this reason this standpoint has very weak foundations. Apart from that, if one adopts the standpoint of parliamentarism in order to carry out agitation, then it can be done without becoming a parliamentarian. Thus for example an anti-militarist in Vienna threw anti-militarist leaflets down from the public gallery of parliament. Here you have an example of how you can use parliament as a rostrum for agitation without participating in the election swindle and without wasting so much strength, energy and money on the elections. This action is much more important for the workers. Write about it in your papers and you have what you want: agitation from parliament.
Lenin: Comrade Bordiga supposedly wanted to defend the point of view of the Italian Marxists here; but he has nevertheless not answered any of the arguments advanced here by other Marxists in favour of parliamentary action.
Comrade Bordiga has admitted that historical experiences do not arise in an artificial way. He simply tells us that the struggle must be transferred to a different field. Does he then not know that every revolutionary crisis has been accompanied by a parliamentary crisis? He has, it is true, mentioned the fact that the struggle should be transferred to a different field, for example the soviets. But Comrade Bordiga has himself admitted that one cannot set up soviets artificially. The example of Russia proves that soviets can only be set up either during the revolution or immediately before it. Even in Kerensky’s days the soviets were composed in such a way (that is to say, Menshevik) that they could not form themselves into a proletarian power.
Parliament is a product of historical development which one cannot abolish from the world until one is strong enough to scatter the bourgeois parliament. Only if one is a member of parliament can one combat bourgeois society and parliamentarism from the given historical standpoint. The same means that is applied by the bourgeoisie in smuggle must also be applied by the proletariat, naturally with quite different ends. You can surely not deny that it is so, and if you deny it, then you cross out the experience of all the revolutionary events in the world. You have said that the trades unions too are opportunist, that they too represent a danger. On the other hand, however, you have said that one should make an exception for the trades unions because they represent a workers’ organisation. But that is only true to a certain degree. In the trades unions too there are very backward elements. A part of the proletarian petty bourgeoisie, the backward workers and small peasants, all these elements really think that their interests are represented in parliament, and one must combat that through work in parliament and teach the masses the truth through facts. The backward masses cannot be taught by theory, they need experiences. That has been seen in Russia, too. Even after the victory of the proletariat we were forced to call the Constituent Assembly in order to prove to the backward proletariat that it can achieve nothing that way. The soviets had to be contrasted concretely to parliament for the comparison of one experience against the other, and the soviets had to be presented to it as the only weapon.
Comrade Souchy, the revolutionary syndicalist, defended the same theory; but logic is not on his side. He said he was not a Marxist, so that is understandable. But when you, Comrade Bordiga, say you are a Marxist, we must demand more logic of you. You must know how parliament can be smashed. If you can do it by an armed insurrection in every country, then that is very good. You know that in Russia we showed our determination to destroy. the bourgeois parliament not only in theory but also in practice. But you have lost sight of the fact that that is impossible without quite lengthy preparations, and that in most countries it is not yet possible to smash parliament at a single blow. We are forced to use the parliamentary struggle for the smashing of parliament. You are substituting your revolutionary determination for the conditions that determine the political line followed by every class of modern society. Therefore you forget that, in order to destroy the bourgeois parliament in Russia, we first had to call the Constituent Assembly, and that even after our victory. You have said: ‘It is true that the Russian revolution is an example that cannot be applied to conditions in Western Europe’. But you have not advanced a single watertight argument to prove that to us. We went through the period of bourgeois democracy. We went through it quickly at a time when we were forced to call for elections to the Constituent Assembly. And even later, when the proletarian class was able to seize power, the peasants still believed that the bourgeois parliament was necessary.
Taking account of these backward masses we had to call the elections and show the masses, by example and by facts, that this Constituent Assembly, which was elected at a time of the greatest general need, did not express the aspirations and demands of the exploited classes. Thus the conflict between soviet power and bourgeois power became completely clear, and that not just for us, for the vanguard of the working class, but also for the overwhelming majority of the peasant class, for the petty clerks, the petty bourgeoisie, etc. In every capitalist country there are backward elements of the working class who are convinced that parliament is the true representative of the people, and do not see that dirty methods are used here.
It is, you say, the instrument with which the bourgeoisie deceives the masses. But this should be turned against you and it does turn against your Theses. How will you reveal the true nature of parliament to the really backward masses deceived by the bourgeoisie if you do not enter it? How will you expose this or that parliamentary manoeuvre, the attitude of this or that party, if you are not in parliament? If you are Marxists you must recognise that the relation between the classes in a bourgeois society and the relationship between the parties are closely connected. I repeat, how will you show all that if you are not members of parliament, if you reject parliamentary action? The history of the Russian revolution has clearly proved that the great masses of the working class, of the peasant class and of the petty clerks would not have been convinced by any arguments if they had not made their own experiences.
It has been said here that much time is wasted by participating in parliamentary struggles. Can one think of any other institution in which all classes participate to the same extent that they do in parliament? That cannot be created artificially. If all classes are drawn to participate in the parliamentary struggle, then it is because class interests and conflicts have their reflection in parliament. If it were possible everywhere to stage, let us say, immediately decisive general strikes to make a clean sweep all at one go, then the revolution would already have taken place in various countries. One must, however, take account of the facts, and parliament represents the arena of the class struggle. Comrade Bordiga and those that adopt his standpoint should tell the masses the truth. Germany is the best proof of the fact that a Communist faction is possible in parliament, and therefore you should tell the masses openly: ‘We are too weak to create a party with a rigid organisation’. That would be the truth, which you should speak openly. But if you were to admit this weakness to the masses, they would not become your supporters, but your opponents, supporters of parliamentarism.
If you said: ‘Comrades, workers, we are so weak that we cannot create such a disciplined party that forces its members of parliament to obey it’, then the workers would desert you, they would say to themselves: ‘How shall we set up the dictatorship of the proletariat with such weak people?'
If you believe that on the day of the victory of the proletariat the intellectuals, the middle class and the petty bourgeoisie will become communist, then you are very naive.
If you do not have this illusion, then starting today you must prepare the working class to impose its will. There is not a single exception to this rule in any field of state work. The day after the revolution we find everywhere opportunist lawyers who call themselves communists, petty bourgeois who recognise the discipline neither of the Communist Party nor of the proletarian state. If you do not prepare the workers to found a really disciplined Party that will force all its members to subordinate themselves to its discipline, then you will never prepare the dictatorship of the proletariat. I think that that is why you do not admit that it is the weakness of very many new Communist Parties that forces them to deny parliamentary action. I am convinced that the great majority of really revolutionary workers will follow us and speak out against your anti-parliamentarian Theses.
Bordiga: Comrade Lenin’s objections to the Theses I have proposed and against my arguments have opened up some very interesting questions which I do not wish to touch upon myself here and which reflect the problem of Marxist tactics in its entirety.
Without any doubt parliamentary events and ministerial crises stand in a close relation to the development of the revolution and the crisis of bourgeois organisation. However, for proletarian political action to have any influence on events, we must take into account the considerations of method which caused the Marxist left of the international socialist movement, even before the war, to reject participation in ministries and the parliamentary support of bourgeois ministries, although these were indubitably means of gaining influence on the development of events.
It is the necessity of uniting the revolutionary forces of the working class into an organisation for the final struggle of Communism that leads to a tactic that rests on certain general rules of action, even if these can be regarded as being too simple and insufficiently flexible.
I believe that the present historical mission leads us to a new tactic laid down by circumstances, i.e. the rejection of participation in parliaments. That is, indeed., merely a means of influencing events in a revolutionary sense.
The argument that the practical problem of Communist parliamentary action, subordinated to Party discipline, must be solved because, even in the post-revolutionary period, people from bourgeois and semi-bourgeois milieus will have to be organised and put in line, this argument could just as well be used to justify the appropriateness of socialist ministers under bourgeois domination.
But this is not the moment to go deeper into this problem, and I shall confine myself to stating that I shall keep my views on the argument that is occupying us to myself. I am more than ever convinced that the Communist International will never succeed in bringing about action that is parliamentary and at the same time truly revolutionary.
Finally, since it has been recognised that the Theses that I have proposed are based on purely Marxist principles and have nothing to do with anarchist and syndicalist arguments against parliamentarism, I hope that they will be voted for by the comrades whose views are anti-parliamentarian and who accept them as a whole and in their spirit, since they share the Marxist propositions that represent the content of the Theses.
Bukharin: First, comrades, a small preliminary comment. In my first speech I did not think it necessary to repeat various things that had already been explained in the Theses. Meanwhile the comrades who have opposed me have mentioned many things in their remarks that do not need to be discussed at all. In his first speech Comrade Bordiga spoke of the difference between bourgeois democracy and soviet power and about various characteristics of bourgeois democracy; all undeniable things with which we are in absolute agreement and against which we were the first to speak. Thus nine tenths of Comrade Bordiga’s first speech, like those of the others, were things that are above discussion, since we all agree with them. I shall not repeat these things in my closing speech either. Of course, when Comrade Gallacher comes and says: ‘We are in favour of direct action’, that is not a secondary matter, but one of the greatest importance. But I shall not talk about it because we are all in agreement with it, and do not need to spend any time on it. Comrade Lenin has spoken about the weaknesses of the Communists, and has aptly remarked that those Communist Parties that are weakest are anti-parliamentarian on principle. He has, so to speak, deduced this conclusion. I have proved that empirically for some. I have spoken with an anti-parliamentarian, with Comrade Herzog, and he told me: ‘Of course, if we had such a strong party as you had, then it would be a different matter.’ Comrade Marie Nielsen, who is also an anti-parliamentarian, told me: ‘If the Executive and the Communist International give us the people for parliamentary activity, then it would be a different matter’. Those are two proofs, and these two anti-parliamentarians – that is to say, forty per cent of all the anti-parliamentarians present – support Comrade Lenin’s argument that they have anti-parliamentarian views because of weakness. That is perhaps the best proof of the inner untenability of the allegedly fundamental anti-parliamentarian position. We can also prove that on a larger scale.
Russia, which has the strongest Communist Party, is in favour of the exploitation of parliament, Germany similarly, and Italy too, to a great extent. But Switzerland and Denmark, where only small groups exist, are anti-parliamentarian.
Now a few of the arguments against us. We claim that the possibility of revolutionary parliamentarism is empirically proved, and quote the example of Liebknecht and others. How are we answered? Comrade Bordiga tells us: ‘We had a Liebknecht but we also had yellow Social Democracy, and the total balance sheet of this parliamentary activity is very bad.’ The base activity of the Social Democratic Party weighs more in scales for the assessment of parliamentarism than the activity of Liebknecht. But it is clear to everybody that this argument is absolutely false. We are talking about Communist parliamentarism. One cannot take things that are different in principle into consideration. That is hocus-pocus to swindle us. Now to be sure Comrade Gallacher tells us: ‘Liebknecht did great things, but only in so far as he also worked among the masses on the streets.’ But we are precisely the representatives of the opinion that parliamentary work must be linked with work on the streets! And certainly Comrade Gallacher too knows that Liebknecht called for the insurrection from the parliamentary rostrum. Nobody will dare to claim that that was damaging. Comrades faced with this reality flee from the argument.
The third opponent, the syndicalist Comrade Souchy, said: ‘At the time when parliamentarism has gone so bankrupt in Russia and Finland, you preach parliamentarism.’ But on the one hand parliamentarism went completely broke in Russia, and on the other we also in part accelerated this bankruptcy by fighting in parliament. That is a fact. Moreover, this whole way of posing the problem for Russia at present is false. There certainly cannot be any question of parliamentarism in Russia any more. What you had to prove was that our earlier tactic was wrong, when we practised parliamentarism, but you were not able to advance a single argument for that. Because we followed the correct tactics we won the victory. Comrade Bordiga has tried to invent several very artificial arguments. He says, for example: ‘It is true that we can use various means, but parliamentarism is not a means, but an institution’, and he thinks that with that he has discovered such a weighty argument that our arguments collapse. But tell us, Comrade Bordiga, how and when a difference in principle can exist between a means and an institution?
Let us take an example: the imperialist government mobilises for war. The question now arises for us whether we should boycott the army or, on the contrary, enter the army. From the beginning of the war we were for entry into the army. Even at the beginning of the war we said: ‘The people can win victory most easily if it is armed.’ Therefore it must use the opportunity to get the rifle in its hands. Is the army an institution? Of course, it is a bourgeois institution in the hands of finance capital. Will someone now say that we did not use this army as a means? Naturally, as a means. Comrade Bordiga can easily see from this example that there is no contradiction between a means and an institution. I have quoted this example to show that even this most important instrument of oppression by capital can become a weapon against capital in our hands. We have proved that empirically. I emphasise again and again that what we are dealing with here are not personalities and forms of thought, not phrases, but real facts. In general Comrade Bordiga is vacillating between two standpoints. First of all he defended the standpoint of which I said that it was different from the standpoint of the anarchists and syndicalists. And then there is his Thesis which says that if we sit in parliament we work side by side with the bourgeoisie. That is an anarchist argument. And when he further says that one must not use parliament because of the specific conditions of today, then that is yet another kind of argument. But with him the kinds of argument are all tangled and grown together. And naturally it is rather difficult to disentangle these knots.
Now an argument from Gallacher. He says: ‘We have already repeatedly had the experience that as soon as a man enters parliament he becomes a traitor there.’ The other comrade – I believe it was Herzog – claimed in his speech that in general parliament offers big opportunities for corruption. Of course we take into account the fact that such opportunities exist; but I ask Comrade Gallacher whether he does not know that such opportunities also exist within the trades unions? There is a classical example of the corruption of a trade union secretary ... Or have we not experienced cases where the editor of a previously revolutionary newspaper became a rascal? We know of very many such cases from our practice. For example, we have had the illegal Party, and after the first, February Revolution, it often happened that half the people in our Party organisations were nothing but police spies. All the opportunists said against us: ‘Do you see where the illegal Party leads to? Illegality is always bound up with police spying. We must be against illegal work, because an illegal Party is always a nest for the most varied police spies on the Party.’ In every country the opportunists come forward with this argument. Every opportunist always says, with great pride, of those that stand to the left: ‘He is an anarchist, an agent provocateur.’ That is supposed to be an argument against illegal work. It has been analogous with this matter of parliamentarism. From the fact that in Italy and France the parliamentary factions are very opportunistic and by no means carry out communist policies, some people draw the conclusion that the whole matter is such that all parliamentarism – the revolutionary kind too – is bound up with treachery to the working class. But one cannot claim that at all, for the facts prove something else.
Two ways of looking at things are possible: either we assess the present epoch as a really revolutionary epoch or we do not.
The comrades who are anti-parliamentarian on principle hold the present epoch to be highly revolutionary. And if they start from this premise, then they must also say that precisely the revolutionary character of the epoch offers the best guarantee against corruption and against the opportunism of the parliamentary faction, and the basis for the building of truly communist, centralised parties. These two premises are the most important, and there are no others that can give us any better guarantee. The rapid revolutionary development of the working class on the one hand and the supervision of the centralised Communist Party that is being built on the other is the best guarantee against opportunism in the parliamentary faction. From my standpoint that is also an argument against Comrade Herzog. He says: ‘Bebel was an opportunist.’ Why he also said that about Wilhelm Liebknecht I cannot grasp. I can confirm that Bebel was a great opportunist. There is no doubt about that as far as I am concerned any more than I doubt that Jaurès would have become a social patriot in all the traditions of the French revolution. But Bebel is a personification of the earlier epoch. How can one therefore quote him as an example of today’s conditions? The example is somewhat unfortunately chosen.
One further small remark on the speech of the German syndicalist. He said of me that in the innermost part of my soul I was against parliamentarism, but that I was forced to defend this unjust cause. And he says that he was unable to get rid of this feeling throughout my whole speech. I too had a feeling when he was speaking, the feeling that he was weeping over somebody. And I do not think that he advanced a single factual argument at all. I at least was unable to discover one in his speech. What Comrade Bordiga said in his last speech was a testimony against his own standpoint. In that we see a further proof of the correctness of our tactics, and we call on all comrades to enter parliament with the cry: ‘Down with parliamentarism!'
Murphy: The other representatives of the Shop Stewards present assure me that on no occasion have they ever done any work in parliament or the House of Commons.
As I would not like to slander anybody, I ask permission to read their statement out and to strike from my speech any personal comments I made. I accept the statement.
That does not, however, change the course of our factual discussion.
Shablin: Comrades, in his speech Comrade Herzog had the audacity to deny the truth of facts that I laid before you concerning the parliamentary activity of the Bulgarian Communist Party. We are amazed at the audacity of this comrade who, without checking with our delegation, permits himself to slander and to insult our Party on the basis of information he has drawn from dubious sources with a vested interest. On behalf of the Bulgarian delegation I protest against this attitude and this mode of behaviour on Comrade Herzog’s part, which is by no means an appropriate attitude for a Party comrade.
The revolutionary activity of the Bulgarian Communist Party is public and known to all. In order to lay before you the details of this activity, which might interest the Comrades at the Congress, I quoted dozens of noteworthy facts, the names of our members of parliament who have been sentenced, and dates. A slander such as that uttered by Herzog cannot touch our Party.
Goldenburg: I propose the following addendum to Comrade Bordiga’s Theses:
‘At a time of revolutionary crisis, which is suitable for the armed insurrection for the conquest of power, the boycott of elections is an urgent necessity. At such a moment, in which the struggle between parliament, the organ of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and the soviet regime, the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, is unleashed, to call for participation in parliamentary elections is to confuse the heads of the workers and to betray the cause of the proletariat. Such an action can only consolidate the position of the bourgeoisie, as it gives them time to rally their forces to the detriment of the proletariat, whose revolutionary action is thus paralysed. One must not forget that parliamentary action is subordinate to extra-parliamentary action, and that the struggle for power that is carried out outside parliament is the centre of gravity of the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. That explains the slight importance of the question of parliamentarism in comparison with the question of t he dictatorship of the proletariat and that of the struggle of the masses for the conquest of power.'
Polano: Being personally in agreement with the Theses on parliamentarism proposed by the Executive Committee, I cast my vote for them, but must state that this vote on my part does not correspond to the attitude adopted on this question by the Italian Socialist Youth Federation whose representative at this Congress I am.
In anticipation of a division between the supporters of participation in elections and its opponents, the Italian Socialist Youth Federation decided at its last Congress not to deal with the question of elections and to give its individual members complete freedom, without giving up membership of the Italian Socialist Party, of joining that communist faction (supporters or opponents of elections) which most corresponded to their individual convictions.
I declare that, when I return to Italy, I shall fight with all my strength to lead the Italian Socialist Federation of Youth out of this ambiguous position and to place it on the platform of the guidelines for which I am now voting.
I further declare that my vote also has the significance of a protest against the attitude, little compatible with communist activity, of a group of Italian socialist politicians, and hope that the leadership of the Italian Party will subject this activity to strict discipline and place it on a communist basis.
Serrati: Permit me, first of all, to thank Comrade Bukharin, who has made me the leader of a political group. I am only the Editor in Chief of Avanti and a member of the Party leadership. [Bordiga laughs and asks to be allowed to say a few words.]
You do not have the right to laugh. I have never claimed to be the leader of a group. There is no Serrati tendency. There is only a fighter who has always carried out his duty as a Communist.
I declare that I shall vote for the Theses that have been proposed by the majority of the Commission, since they agree with what was decided at the Bologna Congress (1919) and what we are in the process of doing in Italy thanks to the efforts of the Party leadership, wherein of course the given conditions must be taken into account. I am particularly of the opinion that it is absolutely necessary to unite the forces of the Party, to prevent any autonomy on the part of the parliamentary faction and to place it under the strictest supervision of the Party leadership.
At the same time I declare that the classification of the Italian Socialist parliamentary faction that Comrade Bukharin has made here is somewhat arbitrary, and that it agrees only distantly with the real conditions in this faction.
It is true that anti-communist manifestations have become audible within the Italian parliamentary faction. But there are others, much more numerous, that have a revolutionary character. For example, during the first session of the Italian parliament our parliamentary faction applied Comrade Bukharin’s principles on communist parliamentary activity. Our members of parliament unfolded the red flag m front of the King and left the hall singing the Internationale. [Bordiga: ‘That is not yet the revolution.']
It is sabotage of the bourgeois parliamentary regime. We do it unceasingly and systematically. That is indeed revolutionary action in parliament.
We are also in favour of introducing draft laws in the bourgeois parliament. It is not a question of proposing laws so that they will be accepted, but of showing the proletariat what the bourgeoisie cannot do and what the proletariat must do.
I shall therefore vote unreservedly for the Theses of the Executive Committee.
Herzog: In my remarks on the activities of the Communist parliamentary faction in Bulgaria the Bulgarian delegation saw a slander. This accusation will not stand up. I believe that the source from which I obtained the material for my remarks is thoroughly reliable, and I do not need to take back anything I said. All the less so for the fact that the Bulgarian delegation accused me of slander without even trying to prove the real or alleged dubiousness of the source.
Zinoviev: I propose that we close the discussion.
The proposal is accepted.
Zinoviev: We are today in a position to hear a report on the checking of credentials, and after we have heard it we will vote by delegations.
A vote is taken on Bukharin’s Theses, which read as follows:
1. The New Epoch and the New Parliamentarism.
The attitude of the socialist parties towards parliamentarism was in the beginning, in the period of the First International, that of using bourgeois parliaments for the purpose of agitation. Participation in parliament was considered from the point of view of the development
of class consciousness, i.e. of awakening the class hostility of the proletariat to the ruling class. This relationship was transformed, not through the influence of theory, but through the influence of political development. Through the uninterrupted increase of the productive forces and the extension of the area of capitalist exploitation, capitalism, and with it the parliamentary state, gained continually increasing stability.
Hence there arose: The adaptation of the parliamentary tactics of the socialist parties to the ‘organic’ legislative work of the bourgeois parliament and the ever greater importance of the struggle for reforms in the framework of capitalism, the domination of the so-called minimum programme of social democracy, the transformation of the maximum programme into a debating formula for an exceedingly distant ‘final goal’. On this basis then developed the phenomena of parliamentary careerism, of corruption and of the open or concealed betrayal of the most elementary interests of the working class.
The attitude of the Communist International towards parliamentarism is determined, not by a new doctrine, but by the change in the role of parliament itself. In the previous epoch parliament performed to a certain degree a historically progressive task as a tool of developing capitalism. Under the present conditions of unbridled imperialism, however, parliament has been transformed into a tool for lies, deception, violence and enervating chatter. In the face of imperialist devastation, plundering, rape, banditry and destruction, parliamentary reforms, robbed of any system, permanence and method, lose any practical significance for the toiling masses.
Like the whole of bourgeois society, parliamentarism too is losing its stability. The sudden transition from the organic epoch to the critical creates the basis for a new tactic of the proletariat in the field of parliamentarism. Thus the Russian Labour Party (the Bolsheviks) had already worked out the nature of revolutionary parliamentarism in the previous period because since 1905 Russia had been shaken from its political and social equilibrium and had entered the period of storms and shocks.
To the extent that some socialists, who tend towards communism, point out that the moment for the revolution has not yet come in their countries, and refuse to split from parliamentary opportunists, they proceed, in the essence of the matter, from the conscious assessment of the coming epoch as an epoch of the relative stability of imperialist society, and assume that on this basis a coalition with the Turatis and the Longuets can bring practical results in the struggle for reforms. Theoretically clear communism, on the other hand, will correctly estimate the character of the present epoch: highest stage of capitalism; imperialist self-negation and self-destruction; uninterrupted growth of civil war, etc. The forms of political relations and groupings can be different in different countries. The essence however remains everywhere one and the same; what is at stake for us is the immediate political and technical preparations for the insurrection of the proletariat, the destruction of bourgeois power and the establishment of the new proletarian power.
At present, parliament, for communists, can in no way become the arena for the struggle for reforms, for the amelioration of the position of the working class, as was the case at certain times in the previous period. The centre of gravity of political life has at present been removed finally and completely beyond the bounds of parliament.
On the other hand the bourgeoisie is forced, not only by reason of its relations to the toiling masses, but also by reason of the complex mutual relations within the bourgeois class, to carry out part of its measures one way or another in parliament, where the various cliques haggle for power, reveal their strong sides, betray their weak sides expose themselves, etc.
Therefore it is the historical task of the working class to wrest this apparatus from the hands of the ruling class, to smash it, to destroy it, and replace it with new proletarian organs of power. At the same time, however, the revolutionary general staff of the class has a strong interest in having its scouts in the parliamentary institutions of the bourgeoisie in order to make this task of destruction easier. Thus is demonstrated quite clearly the basic difference between the tactic of the communist, who enters parliament with revolutionary aims, and the tactics of the socialist parliamentarian. The latter proceeds from the assumption of the relative stability and the indeterminate duration of the existing rule. He makes it his task to achieve reform by every means, and he is interested in seeing to it that every achievement is suitably assessed by the masses as a merit of parliamentary socialism. (Turati, Longuet and Co.).
In the place of the old adaptation to parliamentarism the new parliamentarism emerges as a tool for the annihilation of parliamentarism in general. The disgusting traditions of the old parliamentary tactics have, however, repelled a few revolutionary elements into the camp of the opponents of parliamentarism on principle (IWW) and of the revolutionary syndicalists (KAPD). The Second Congress therefore adopts the following Theses.
2. Communism, the Struggle for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and the Utilisation of Bourgeois Parliaments
1. Parliamentarism as a state system has become a ‘democratic’ form of the rule of the bourgeoisie, which at a certain stage of development requires the fiction of popular representation which outwardly appears to be an organisation of a ‘popular will’ that stands outside the classes, but in essence is a machine for oppression and subjugation in the hands of ruling capital.
2. Parliament is a definite form of state order; therefore it cannot at all be the form of communist society, which knows neither classes nor class struggle nor any state power.
3. Nor can parliamentarism be a form of proletarian state administration in the period of transition from the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie to the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the moment of sharpened class struggle, in the civil war, the proletariat must inevitably build up its state organisation as a fighting organisation, into which the representatives of the previous ruling classes are not permitted. In this stage any fiction of the ‘popular will’ is directly harmful to the working class. The proletariat does not need any parliamentary sharing of power, it is harmful to it. The form of the proletarian dictatorship is the soviet republic.
4. The bourgeois parliaments, one of the most important apparatuses of the bourgeois state machine, cannot as such in the long run be taken over, just as the proletariat cannot at all take over the proletarian state. The task of the proletariat consists in breaking up the bourgeois state machine, destroying it, and with it the parliamentary institutions, be they republican or a constitutional monarchy.
5. It is no different with the local government institutions of the bourgeoisie, which it is theoretically incorrect to counterpose to the state organs. In reality they are similar apparatuses of the state machine of the bourgeoisie, which must be destroyed by the revolutionary proletariat and replaced by local soviets of workers’ deputies.
6. Consequently communism denies parliamentarism as a form of the society of the future. It denies it as a form of the class dictatorship of the proletariat. It denies the possibility of taking over parliament in the long run; it sets itself the aim of destroying parliamentarism. Therefore there can only be a question of utilising the bourgeois state institutions for the purpose of their destruction. The question can be posed in this, and only in this, way.
7. Every class struggle is apolitical struggle, for in the final analysis it is a struggle for power. Any strike at all that spreads over the whole country becomes a threat to the bourgeois state and thus takes on a political character. Every attempt to overthrow the bourgeoisie and to destroy its state means carrying out a political fight. Creating a proletarian state apparatus for administration and for the oppression of the resisting bourgeoisie, of whatever type that apparatus will be, means conquering political power.
8. Consequently the question of political power is not at all identical with the question of the attitude towards parliamentarism. The former is a general question of the proletarian class struggle, which is characterised by the intensification of small and partial struggles to the general struggle for the overthrow of the capitalist order as a whole.
9. The most important method of struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, i.e. against its state power, is above all mass action. Mass actions are organised and led by the revolutionary mass organisations (trades unions, parties, soviets) of the proletariat under the general leadership of a unified, disciplined, centralised Communist Party. Civil war is war. In this war the proletariat must have its bold officer corps and its strong general staff, who direct all operations in all theatres of the struggle.
10. The mass struggle is a whole system of developing actions sharpening in their form and logically leading to the insurrection against the capitalist state. In this mass struggle, which develops into civil war, the leading party of the proletariat must as a rule consolidate all its legal positions by making them into auxiliary bases of its revolutionary activity and subordinating these positions to the plan of the main campaign, the campaign of the mass struggle.
11. The rostrum of the bourgeois parliament is such an auxiliary base. The argument that parliament is a bourgeois state institution cannot at all be used against participation in the parliamentary struggle. The Communist Party does not enter these institutions in order to carry out organic work there, but in order to help the masses from inside parliament to break up the state machine and parliament itself through action (for example the activity of Liebknecht in Germany, of the Bolsheviks in the Tsarist Duma, in the ‘Democratic Conference’, in Kerensky’s ‘Pre-Parliament’, in the ‘Constituent Assembly’ and in the town Dumas, and finally the activity of the Bulgarian Communists).
12. This activity in parliament, which consists mainly in revolutionary agitation from the parliamentary rostrum, in unmasking opponents, in the ideological unification of the masses who still, particularly in backward areas, are captivated by democratic ideas, look towards the parliamentary rostrum, etc., should be totally and completely subordinated to the aims and tasks of the mass struggle outside parliament.
Participation in election campaigns and revolutionary propaganda from the parliamentary rostrum is of particular importance for winning over those layers of the workers who previously, like, say, the rural toiling masses, stood far away from political life.
13. Should the communists have the majority in local government institutions, they should a) carry out revolutionary opposition to the bourgeois central power; b) do everything to be of service to the poorer population (economic measures, introduction or attempted introduction of an armed workers’ militia, etc.); c) at every opportunity show the limitations placed on really big changes by the bourgeois state power; d) on this basis develop the sharpest revolutionary propaganda without fearing the conflict with the power of the state; e) under certain circumstances replace the local administration by local workers’ councils. The whole activity of the Communists in the local administration must therefore be part of the general work of disrupting the capitalist system.
14. Election campaigns should not be carried out in the spirit of the hunt for the maximum number of parliamentary seats, but in the spirit of the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses for the slogans of the proletarian revolution. Election campaigns should be carried out by the whole mass of the Party members and not only by an elite of the Party. It is necessary to utilise all mass actions (strikes, demonstrations, ferment among the soldiers and sailors, etc.) that are taking place at the time, and to come into close touch with them. It is necessary to draw all the proletarian mass organisations into active work.
15. In observing all these conditions, as well as those in a special instruction, parliamentary activity is the direct opposite of that petty politicking done by the social democratic parties of every country, who go into parliament in order to support this ‘democratic’ institution. or at best to ‘take it over’. The Communist Party can only be exclusively in favour of the revolutionary utilisation of parliament in the spirit of Karl Liebknecht and of the Bolsheviks.
16. ‘Anti-parliamentarism’ on principle, in the sense of absolute and categorical rejection of participation in elections and revolutionary parliamentary activity, is therefore a naive, childish doctrine below any criticism, a doctrine which occasionally has a basis in healthy nausea at politicking parliamentarians, but which does not see at the same time the possibility of a revolutionary parliamentarism. Moreover, this doctrine is often linked with a completely incorrect conception of the role of the party, which sees in the Communist Party not the centralised shock troops of the workers, but a decentralised system of loosely allied groups.
17. On the other hand an absolute recognition of the necessity of actual elections and of actual participation in parliamentary sessions under all circumstances by no means flows from the recognition in principle of parliamentary activity. That is dependent upon a whole series of specific conditions. Withdrawal from parliament can be necessary given a specific combination of these conditions. This is what the Bolsheviks did when they withdrew from the Pre-parliament in order to break it up, to rob it of any strength and boldly to counterpose to it the St. Petersburg Soviet on the eve of the insurrection. They did the same in the Constituent Assembly on the day of its dissolution, raising the Third Congress of Soviets to the high point of political events. According to circumstances, a boycott of the elections and the immediate violent removal of not only the whole bourgeois state apparatus but also the bourgeois parliamentary clique, or on the other hand participation in the elections while parliament itself is boycotted, etc., can be necessary.
18. In this way the Communist Party, which recognises the necessity of participating in the elections not only to the central parliament, but also to the organs of local self-government and work in these institutions as a general role, must resolve this problem concretely, starting from the specific peculiarities of any given moment. A boycott of elections or of parliament and withdrawal from the latter is mainly permissible when the preconditions for the immediate transition to the armed struggle and the seizure of power are already present.
19. In the process, one should always bear in mind the relative unimportance of this question. Since the centre of gravity lies in the struggle for state power carried out outside parliament, it goes without saying that the question of the proletarian dictatorship and the mass struggle for it cannot be placed on the same level as the particular question of the utilisation of parliament.
20. The Communist International therefore emphasises decisively that it holds every split or attempted split within the Communist Parties in this direction and only for this reason to be a serious error. The Congress calls on all elements who base themselves on the recognition of the mass struggle for the proletarian dictatorship under the leadership of the centralised party of the revolutionary proletariat exerting its influence on all the mass organisations of the workers, to strive for the complete unity of the communist elements despite possible differences of opinion over the question of the utilisation of bourgeois parliaments.
3. Revolutionary Parliamentarism
In order to secure the actual carrying out of revolutionary parliamentary tactics it is necessary that:
1. The Communist Party as a whole and its Central Committee, already in the preparatory stage, that is to say before the parliamentary election, must take care of the high quality of the personal composition of the parliamentary faction. The Central Committee of the Communist Party must be responsible for the whole work of the parliamentary faction. The Central Committee of the Communist Party must have the undeniable right to raise objections to any candidate whatever of any organisation whatever, if there is no guarantee that if he gets into parliament, he will pursue really communist policies.
The Communist Party must break the old social democratic habit of putting up exclusively so-called ‘experienced’ parliamentarians, predominantly lawyers and similar people, as members of parliament. As a rule it is necessary to put up workers as candidates, without baulking at the fact that these are mainly simple party members without any great parliamentary experience. The Communist Party must ruthlessly stigmatise those careerist elements that come around the Communist Parties in order to get into parliament. The Central Committees of the Communist Parties must only ratify the candidatures of those comrades who have shown their unconditional devotion to the working class by long years of work.
2. When the elections are over, the organisation of the parliamentary faction must be completely in the hands of the Central Committee of the Communist Parties, irrespective of whether the whole Party is legal or illegal at the time in question. The chairman and the committee of the communist parliamentary faction must be ratified by the Central Committee of the Party. The Central Committee of the Party must have a permanent representative in the parliamentary faction with a right of veto, and on all important political questions the parliamentary faction shall ask the Central Committee of the Party in advance for instructions concerning its behaviour. Before any big forthcoming action by the communists in parliament the – Central Committee has the right and the duty to appoint or to reject the speaker for the faction, and to demand of him that he previously submit the main points of his speech or the speech itself for approval by the Central Committee. A written undertaking must be officially obtained from every candidate on the proposed communist list that, as soon as he is called upon to do so by the Party, he is prepared to resign his seat, so that in a given situation the action of withdrawing from parliament can be carried out in a united way.
3. In those countries where reformist, semi-reformist or merely careerist elements have managed to penetrate into the communist parliamentary faction (as has already happened in some countries) the Central Committees of the Communist Parties have the obligation of carrying out a thorough purge of the personal composition of the faction proceeding on the principle that it is much more useful for the cause of the working class to have a small, but truly communist faction, than a large faction without consistent communist policies.
4. On the decision of the Central Committee, the communist member of parliament has the obligation to combine legal with illegal work. In those countries where the communist members of parliament enjoy immunity from bourgeois law, this immunity must be utilised to support the Party in its illegal work of organisation and propaganda.
5. Communist members of parliament must subordinate all parliamentary action to the activity of their Party outside parliament. The regular introduction of demonstrative draft laws, which are not intended to be accepted by the bourgeois majority, but for the purposes of propaganda, agitation and organisation, must take place on the instructions of the Party and its Central Committee.
6. In the event of demonstrations by workers in the streets and other revolutionary actions, the communist members of parliament have the duty to place themselves in the most conspicuous leading place at the head of the masses of workers.
7. Communist members of parliament must use every means at their disposal (under the supervision of the Party) to create written and any other kind of links with the revolutionary workers, peasants and other toilers. Under no circumstances can they act like social democratic members of parliament, who pursue business connections with their voters. They must be constantly at the disposal of the Party for any propaganda work in the country.
8. Every communist member of parliament must bear in mind that he is not a legislator seeking an understanding with other legislators, but a Party agitator who has been sent into the enemy camp in order to carry out Party decisions there. The communist member of parliament is responsible, not to the scattered mass of voters, but to his Party, be it legal or illegal.
9. Communist members of parliament must speak a language that can be understood by every simple worker, every peasant, every washerwoman and every shepherd, so that the Party is able to publish the speeches as leaflets and distribute them to the most distant corners of the country.
10. Simple communist workers must appear in the bourgeois parliament without leaving precedence to so-called experienced parliamentarians – even in cases where the workers are only newcomers to the parliamentary arena. If need be the members of parliament from the ranks of the working class can read their speeches from notes, so that the speeches can be printed in the press and as leaflets.
11. Communist members of parliament must use the parliamentary rostrum for the unmasking not only of the bourgeoisie and its hacks, but also of the social-patriots, and the reformists, of the vacillations of the politicians of the ‘centre’ and of other opponents of communism, and for broad propaganda for the ideas of the Communist International.
12. Even in cases where there are only a few of them in the whole parliament, communist members of parliament have to show a challenging attitude towards capitalism in their whole behaviour. They must never forget that only he is worthy of the name of a communist who is an arch enemy of bourgeois society and its social democratic hacks not only in words but also in deeds.
Bukharin’s Theses are accepted. All amendments are handed over to the Commission.
Radek: I think that it is necessary for me to read out the list of delegates; it will be classified. The composition of the Congress is then the following, country by country. [He reads the list out.] We cannot reach any agreement on what we are to do with East Galicia. At the moment it has not yet been liberated; it belongs neither to Poland nor to Hungary, nor is it independent. We have admitted it as an independent country with two votes.
The credentials of the Swiss comrade, Burgsdorf, were challenged in the Commission with the claim that the delegate in question had recently been the editor of a bourgeois newspaper. It emerged that the comrade was the editor of such a paper a long time ago, but then he became a socialist and gave up the editing of the paper. The question was investigated in Switzerland and the case was resolved.
As far as the question of apportioning votes is concerned, very little was changed in the Executive’s proposals. By and large we accepted the method of apportioning that was adopted by the Executive. The number of votes was reduced in only one case that I shall talk about shortly. It was decided to grant Germany, France, England, Russia, America and Italy ten votes each, Austria and Holland seven votes each, Mexico, Persia, India, Switzerland, Turkey and Bulgaria, and possibly Ireland, Estonia and Korea four votes each, and Lithuania two votes.
The Commission decided to propose to the Congress to give Holland only four votes instead of seven.. The decision was taken by a majority of the Executive. Holland’s higher number of votes is in contradiction to the actual conditions. Neither the country nor the Party is big enough for it to march as a power of the second rank in the International. We have received a protest against the granting of credentials to Palestine, with the argument that it does not do to drive the Jewish proletariat to Palestine.
The Commission will still have to concern itself with that. The Congress has to reach a decision on two further questions, the question of the division of the American and British votes. As far as Britain is concerned, they fall into two parts; the BSP and the Shop Stewards. I personally am of the opinion that they should share the votes. The Congress will have to decide on this. As far as America is concerned, the situation is as follows: We have received the report on the unification of the American Parties, the American Communist Party and the American [Communist – Trans.] Labour Party. But the unification is not complete. Part of one of the parties does not want to participate. And now the question arises, how are we to share the votes? The unified Communist Party declares that it wants to have all the votes. But the part that has not entered the new party demands a share of the votes for itself. The Congress will have to decide on this question.
Zinoviev: The question arises: should we sanction the report of the Credentials Commission or open a discussion? I shall take a vote. Who is in favour of sanctioning all the proposals of the Credentials Commission on behalf of the Congress? [A vote is taken. The proposal is carried.]
The session is closed at 11. 30.