Zinoviev: On behalf of the Bureau I propose to take a vote on the proposals of those comrades who are to edit the final version of all the Theses. [Vote.] We will now move on to the question of the Statutes. Comrade Kabaktchiev has the floor as reporter.
Kabaktchiev: Comrades, before I go over the main considerations that speak in favour of the statutes proposed by the Executive Committee of the Communist International, I shall spend some time on the most important objections that were raised in the Commission.
The downfall of the Second International took place when the bourgeoisie succeeded in destroying the international solidarity of the proletariat. One of the first tasks of the Communist International, therefore, is to restore proletarian solidarity. But it will only be possible to realise this solidarity in the revolutionary action of the proletariat of the various countries. Only the revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of capitalism will make it possible to create the necessary preconditions for the solidarity and unity of the proletariat of the various countries. The necessity for unanimity in the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of every country is also determined by the fact that there is an international association of the counter-revolution. This is today organised and led by the Entente, by the supreme council of the governments of the big capitalist countries and by their creature and agent, the League of Nations. The unification and centralisation of proletarian forces is the main condition for the success of the revolution of the proletariat against the united front of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. The Communist International is the central organ which can realise the unification of the proletarian forces of the whole world.
There is another cause of the downfall of the Second International. The Second International accepted all parties on the basis of their oral or written statements; but it did not at all concern itself with getting to know the real tactics followed by the affiliated parties. It tolerated in its midst parties whose tactics and practice were in obvious contradiction to the tactics of the revolutionary proletariat. Furthermore, it accepted petty bourgeois parties which had nothing in common with socialism. The experience of the Second International teaches us that the Communist International, in order to fulfil its task and achieve its goal, must become a strictly disciplined and rigidly centralised organisation, and that it must supervise, guide and harmonise the revolutionary activity of the proletariat of every country.
The victory of the revolutionary proletariat in Russia has clearly shown us the necessity of the strict centralisation of the organisation of every Communist Party, and consequently of the Communist International itself. The Communist Party of Russia can serve as an example and a pattern for imitation, not only for the clarity of the aims of its policies and its strictly Marxist activity, but also for its iron discipline and its strict organisation. The principle of the centralisation and the discipline of the Communist Party of Russia, which dominated the whole revolutionary activity of the Russian proletariat, was strengthened even further after the conquest of power, was extended even to the Soviet organisations of the Republic, and served to establish the revolutionary victory in an unshakeable manner. The Russian proletariat would never have triumphed without a centralised and disciplined organisation. Without a centralised and disciplined organisation the international proletariat will never break the domination of capitalism.
It is impossible to conceive of the working class overthrowing the domination of the bourgeoisie and defeating the capitalist state, that instrument of class rule with mighty and centralised means of coercion at its disposal, without centralisation. We are all agreed that the victory of the proletarian revolution is impossible without the dictatorship of the proletariat. But he who says dictatorship must presuppose in the class that exercises the dictatorship, and the Party that leads that class, the existence of a centralised and strictly disciplined organisation. Without this iron discipline and this centralised organisation the Communist International cannot count on the opening of the proletarian dictatorship. The task of the Communist International consists in fusing together and unifying the proletarian parties and other revolutionary proletarian organisations in every country into a fighting bloc.
The economic crisis, the consequences of the imperialist war, have created a revolutionary situation in most capitalist countries, which once more assures the rapid growth of the Communist International. The latter has the duty of attracting to itself the mass organisations of the proletariat. The most effective, if not the only means of defending the Communist International from the danger that the purity of its revolutionary tactics are threatened by its rapid growth is once more none other than organising it on the basis of strict centralisation. To adopt the Theses proposed at the Congress provides no guarantee that the parties that have affiliated to the Communist International will also remain true to their principles and their tactics. On the contrary, only the adoption of centralisation in organisation, and voluntary and honest subordination to the statutes of the Communist International, will form the common basis for all those Parties that have already joined the Communist International or will join it in the future.
The Statutes proposed establish the foundations of the organisation of the Communist International. But the organisation of the Communist International will unfold, particularly in the future, according to the measure of the extension of the revolutionary movement of the international proletariat.
One of the main objections in principle to the draft Statutes is directed against the paragraph following the introduction which says:
‘The Communist International sets itself the aim of fighting with all means, also with arms in hand, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international soviet republic as a transition to the complete abolition of the state.'
The objections that comrades have made about the question under discussion are:
1. One should not openly declare and admit that the Communist International should use armed force to achieve its aims.
2. On the other hand the Statutes should not speak only about armed struggle. One could conclude from that that other means of struggle are abandoned and that the Communist International knows no other means of struggle than the rifle and the machine gun.
The first objection requires no detailed criticism. Seventy years have already passed since the founders of modern socialism, Marx and Engels, closed the famous Communist Manifesto with the following declaration:
‘The Communists scorn to hide their views and intentions. They openly declare that their aims can only be achieved by the forcible overthrow of all previous social orders.'
Today we have before our eyes the example of the Russian proletarian revolution (a revolution which conquered by force of arms); the great victorious Red Army strikes deadly blows at the imperialism of the Entente and clears the way for the world proletarian revolution. Today we claim that we are going through a revolutionary epoch, the bourgeoisie openly organises White Guards against us and civil war is raging in a series of countries. Is it possible after all that to propose to remain silent, to silence the Communist International about the necessity of applying the mightiest and most effective means of struggle, the means of struggle on which above all the real ultimate success of the proletarian revolution depends? No, comrades! In its Theses, the Communist International must point out the necessity of the application of the armed struggle with all clarity. Hypocrisy about the use of this means will not save us from persecution by the ruling bourgeoisie, and it must be said loud and clear that the bourgeoisie knows our true revolutionary aims and our means of struggle very well, and for the very good reason that it knows exactly what this is all about and organises a White Guard to coerce the other institutions into its service. The Communist International must state openly in front of the entire world that the marching orders of the revolution can only be: ‘Determined struggle, struggle with arms in hand against capitalism and for communism.'
We can answer in the same way the comrades in the Commission who thought it dangerous to speak out about the necessity of forming illegal organisations besides the legal ones. (Cf. paragraph 12 of the Statutes.) If the bourgeoisie in certain countries find it to be in their interests to outlaw the Communist Party, then they will do it; if they want to do it, they will do it, as they already have in several countries.
Is it therefore sensible for the Communist Party to hide its aims and not to spread the idea of the necessity of the armed struggle? Not at all. To remain silent about the necessity of forming illegal organisations too under such circumstances is excessive caution, and gives rise to confusion. And what is more, comrades, we say that this diplomatic caution is dangerous, for today the illegal organisation is as important as the legal one. And it is not only important, but also indispensable, necessary. It is a crying necessity. For as you know the Congress has already adopted the Theses that decide the question and make the formation of illegal organisations obligatory. Comrades who have already voted for these Theses, the Congress that has already adopted them, contradict themselves if they reject the paragraph in question in the Statutes. We will not parry the blows of the bourgeoisie by dropping the article in the Statutes on illegal organisations, but by learning, by getting used to the formation of illegal organisations, which frustrate the inquiries and vigilance of the bourgeois organs. That is what we need; that is revolutionary experience and revolutionary law.
The question concerning the composition of the Executive aroused very sharp discussion in the Commission itself. I shall relate the most important objections that were made. Some comrades thought, as a result of the present weakness of their country’s Communist Party, that it was impossible to release a member to send him permanently to the Executive Committee. Others said that the Communist Parties of the various countries could not keep up a regular correspondence with their delegates to the Executive Committee, and that as a result these delegates will not be well informed about the position of their country and the state of the revolutionary movement.
This consideration does not seem to me to hold water in comparison with the role that the Communist International and its Executive Committee plays and must play. If it is true that we live in a revolutionary epoch in which the Communist International every day has important and immediate tasks to fulfil, in which questions of world importance continually arise, and will arise, which absolutely require an answer, if it is true that the Communist International must be a mighty centralised fighting organisation, then it must be led by a centre where it is represented and where the biggest Communist Parties must be represented. The tasks of the Communist International are so important that every Communist Party must select from its ranks a comrade of merit who is up to the size of the task, in order to be represented on the Executive Committee and in this way to maintain close contact with the Communist International. The Executive Committee will not be able to base itself in making its decisions on the actual international situation if it does not have in it representatives of the largest Communist Parties of the various countries. On the contrary, it is to be feared that the Communist Parties that do not have a representative on the Executive Committee will refuse to recognise the decisions of the Executive Committee as binding, in certain cases, with the excuse that the Executive Committee does not know the true situation in their countries and is taking decisions without prior discussion with them.
Some comrades have demanded that the Executive Committee should be composed of the representatives of all the parties belonging to the Communist International, and that all representatives, moreover, should have a full vote. The comrades expressed the fear if that should not be the case, the smaller countries and parties will be without representatives on the Executive Committee. I represent a small country, but the Communist Party is rigidly organised there and even unites workers and peasants. I am convinced that, in determining the members of the Executive Committee, the Congress will take into account not the territorial size of the countries but much rather the real strength of the Communist Parties.
If the right of every Party that belongs to the Communist International to have representatives with a full vote on the Executive Committee is recognised, then it will become a top-heavy apparatus, exposed to the danger of being dominated by the small and weak Parties and never having a distinctly delineated composition. The strength of the Executive Committee must be finally be determined by the Congress, which should however rather name the Parties and not the individuals who are to be represented on the Executive Committee. The Statutes give every Party the right to be represented with an advisory vote on the Executive Committee. That is enough.
The question was raised in the Commission whether the Executive Committee should be given the right to expel from the Communist International individuals, groups or even Parties that do not carry out the decisions of the World Congress. (Paragraph 9 of the Statutes.) But this right is merely the necessary material sanction for all the other rights that we will grant to the Executive Committee in the Statutes. How can the decisions of the Executive Committee have the necessary authority and obligatory force if it does not have the right of expulsion? Not to give this right to the Executive Committee would be to return to the old practice of the Second International.
Finally the Statutes give the Executive Committee the right to draw in organisations and Parties that sympathise with communism by giving their representatives an advisory vote. The question was also raised whether the Executive Committee has the right to accept two
Parties from the same country with a full vote. The Commission did not take a decision on this question; it has remained open in the Statutes. I believe that there can only be one Communist Party from each country in the Communist International. That is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the uniformity of the communist movement in each country. If the Communist International begins to follow the example of the Second International, that is to say it admits into its ranks two or more Parties from the same country, then this will hold up the development of the communist movement in those countries in which competing communist organisations exist that are created by unprincipled elements and are maintained often under the influence of the bourgeoisie itself.
The experiences that the Executive Committee has made with the auxiliary bureaux in Amsterdam and Berlin show us the necessity that all organs and bureaux created by the Executive Committee should be subordinated directly to it, and should only act within the guidelines laid down by it. Only in this way will we create a disciplined and centralised international communist organisation.
Bamatter: The Commission on the Statutes has entrusted the Editorial Commission with the wording of the editorial changes and amendments in the Statutes. That was no easy task for us, for all we had as a basis were the three drafts that had been translated from the Russian – none of which however was a correct translation. We cannot therefore submit a cleaned-up version of the Statutes, but I shall only read out the amendments and the principal stylistic changes that the Editorial Commission has undertaken. The Statutes must go back once more to the Commission. In the German version a sentence is missing in the second paragraph on page one which must be added to the quotation.
In the French Statutes this sentence is present. Then a few small stylistic changes were undertaken about which there was a big argument in the Commission. It is a question of the lines that say: ‘It is the aim of the Communist International’, etc. That has been changed to read as follows: ‘It is the aim of the Communist International to fight by all available means, including armed struggle’, etc.
A further amendment was also undertaken in the last sentence of the first paragraph of page 3, which now reads: ‘The Communist International undertakes to support every Soviet republic wherever it may be formed.’ Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 were adopted unanimously without alteration. The following alteration has been made in the second sentence of paragraph 4: instead of ‘The World Congress will as a rule...’, it now reads: ‘The World Congress meets regularly once a year.’ The third sentence in paragraph 4 has been deleted, as has the last sentence. Paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 were adopted without any essential changes. Some stylistic changes were made in paragraph 8. For example the first sentence used to read: ‘The main work and responsibility’, etc. It now reads: ‘The chief work of the Executive Committee falls on the Party’. . . etc. And then, further on, the penultimate sentence of paragraph 8, instead of ‘the ten biggest Parties’, now reads: ‘the ten to thirteen most important Communist Parties’.
The following amendment was added at the end of the ninth paragraph: ‘The representatives of the Executive Committee shall carry out their political tasks in the closest contact with the Party centre of the country concerned’. The last sentence of paragraph 10 now reads: ‘which, while not belonging to the Communist International, sympathise with it and stand near to it’. Paragraph 11 has been adopted unchanged. In paragraph 12 the following has been added to the end of the sentence: ‘The general situation all over Europe and America compels communists throughout the world to create illegal communist organisations side by side with the legal organisation’. The first sentence of paragraph 13 now reads, instead of: ‘As a rule all important political communications’, etc.: ‘As a rule political communication between the individual Parties affiliated to the Communist International is carried out through the Executive Committee of the Communist International’.
In paragraph 14 the first sentence now reads: ‘under the guidance of the Communist International’, instead of: ‘under the control’ etc. The second sentence now reads: ‘these trade union delegates’ . . . instead of: ‘the communist trade union delegate . . .’ In paragraph 15, the following has been changed: ‘As a member of the Communist International is, like any other, subordinated to it and its Executive Committee’. . . . The last sentence of paragraph 15 has been crossed out. Paragraphs 16 and 17 were adopted without alteration. It will not be possible to submit a cleaned-up version of the Statutes until later.
Bilan: Our organisational Statutes are one of the most important questions upon which we have to decide. The discipline in the Communist Party of Russia has contributed to the fact that the Party was able to play such an important role. For that reason we must check over the Statutes in detail and, if we accept them, we must be prepared to carry them out in full measure and not regard the Statutes simply as a piece of paper. In some paragraphs these Statutes read differently in different languages, and for that reason it was impossible for the members of the Commission to reach agreement on some questions.
In relation to the question of the armed struggle the previous speaker said it was necessary to change the wording. In his opinion the concept of the aim was confused with that of the means in the wording of that paragraph. These concepts must not be confused. We do not wish to present the armed struggle as the aim of the revolutionary movement, but as a means forced upon us. We must also clarify under what conditions such an armed struggle becomes a necessity. Otherwise, if we call for it in general, we could find what has already often happened, that is to is to say that people with anarchist tendencies go around conspicuously waving hand grenades, which is then interpreted as armed struggle in the sense of the Communist International. If we pose each and every armed struggle as a general rule without taking into account the conditions in each individual country, that is to say without regard for whether conditions are mature enough, and whether such an armed struggle is really necessary and practical, then it can happen’ that in some countries where the possibility of this struggle does not exist, the call for the armed struggle could act as a kind of provocation.
I refer to the example of the KAPD, where the concept of the armed struggle is not grasped in a mature, serious sense, and where it only leads to damaging results. In the Commission I proposed amendments to some of the paragraphs of the draft Statutes, but they were not adopted by the Commission. I will now submit them to the full session. I propose that the following sentences should be added :’the aim of the Communist International is the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie for the purpose of liberating mankind from the fetters of slavery and exploitation. It is determined to use the armed struggle against the international bourgeoisie as the chief means of achieving this goal.'
Paragraph 12 of the Statutes read: ‘The general situation’ ... etc. There are countries where the possibility of legal agitation and work in the interests of communist ideas still exists. If we retain the paragraph with its present wording we thus give the governments the chance to point out that the Parties in the countries in question belong to the
Communist International, which is calling for illegal organisations. That could be an excuse for the governments to persecute the comrades there too sharply, whereas otherwise they probably would still have had the chance to fight legally. Therefore I propose to undertake a small amendment in this sentence, that is to say to delete from this paragraph those words whose sense is that it is obligatory for Parties belonging to the Communist International to create illegal organisations.
Wijnkoop: I did not vote on this point in the Commission, and I am of the opinion that it cannot be done, and that the question must first of all be handed over for discussion to the Parties in the various countries. I think that Statutes are something very important, and that the people in the various countries must know exactly what has been agreed upon in this matter. This can only happen if a discussion on it takes place in the Parties in the individual countries. The discussion that we have had tonight and the discussion in the Commission is not enough. I have therefore not voted and shall also abstain in the full session.
I say that Statutes are something very important because I am of the opinion that they must also be carried out and become a reality. In this case the Statutes must contain what the various Parties in the different countries, after a thorough discussion, declare to be their will. The main point for me is paragraph 8, and there it says: ‘The chief work of the Executive Committee falls upon the Party of that country where, by the decision of the World Congress, the Executive Committee has its seat’ , etc. I say that it seems as if an international Executive Committee were being formed, but in reality that is not the case. An extended Russian Executive is being formed here.
Now do not misunderstand me. I have no objection to a Russian Executive Committee if that is necessary, and perhaps it is necessary. If we really cannot have an international Executive Committee, then we must have a Russian one, because the Russian Party is the most revolutionary and the strongest. I have nothing against it, but then one should also say so. One should not pretend that we are to have an international Executive Committee. One should say that at this time we cannot have any other than a Russian Executive, and that this Congress places the executive power in the hands of the Russian Executive Committee. I would be in favour of that without any further ado.
But why do I think that it is a question here only of an extended Russian Executive Committee, and that at this time there is no other Executive that one could have? Because I am not so optimistic about the boycott as some comrades. It exists for Russia, and it will perhaps not let up quite so quickly, although many think that it has already let up. Should that be the case, then of course my argument would no longer be in place. At present, however, it is not the case. I shall give just one example. If people are here, that is to say, if the delegates of the biggest Parties are sent here, then these delegates cannot keep a check on the international situation, for they will receive no reports on world politics. They will not hear enough about the organisations in the different countries. They will only have reports about what is happening here. Should it be possible to send ten of the best men in the international movement here, then they will lose contact with their own countries, they will only have information about Russia, and however great or small their character and intelligence is, they will be guided by Russian information and thus by the Russian Executive. It cannot be otherwise, and it cannot be conceived in any other way, because they will lose contact with their own countries.
I say, therefore, that the people who come here will lose contact with their own countries, and if decisions are taken by this Executive, people will perhaps say in those countries: ‘This or that leader of ours is staying over there. He was present after all, and still they took this or that decision that is bad because he does not take into account the real situation in the countries of Europe and America.’ The workers in these countries would separate themselves even more from their leaders who come here, after all, to maintain communications between Moscow and the world, for they would become convinced that their leaders have lost their firm grasp of the international situation. I do not think that the thing can be done in this way.
I have made the proposal to base the Executive outside Russia.. I believe that the question should be discussed here. I have proposed Italy or Norway as the residence of the Executive Committee, because I think that the labour movement in those countries is now strong enough to bring about the assembly of an international executive there. Comrade Levi has proposed Germany as the seat of the Executive. Germany would be as agreeable to me as Norway or Italy, on the one hand because a sufficiently strong labour movement is present in these countries and on the other hand because these countries are well informed about the international situation. The Russian delegation can, after all, come to Norway or Italy. Comrade Levi thinks that one could also come to Germany. I have proposed this question for discussion. If the Congress does not think that it is possible to change the seat of the Executive, then no really international Executive Committee can at the moment exist, and we must make do with a Russian one. This question is very important, because we are giving this Executive Committee very great power, which goes so far as the Executive being able to expel even entire Parties, groups and individuals. But it can only do that if it knows the situation in the various countries quite exactly. That is why I am of the opinion that the Statutes cannot be adopted in their present form without any further ado.
Zinoviev: It is proposed to close the list of speakers. Are there any objections? [The proposal is adopted.]
Levi: The questions that are being discussed here are so important that it is a pity that they are being discussed under conditions where the delegates are too exhausted to follow the matter properly. First of all I propose in paragraph 8 to cross out the words ‘no less than’. The sentence that I am concerned with would read ‘The Party of the country in question sends five of its representatives’ etc.
Misunderstandings could arise from the addition of the words ‘no less than’ and it might be possible, although it was not the intention of those who proposed it, to assume from that the right of the country in which the Executive Committee has its seat to delegate as many representatives as they like to the Executive Committee. It should be five representatives, no more and no less.
Furthermore there are in my opinion some correct things in Comrade Wijnkoop’s remarks and one of them is that every representative who is delegated here from abroad will, after a short time, lose living contact with the individual Parties of the individual countries. I do not mean this in the same way as Comrade Wijnkoop, that the delegates who are sent here will after some time have to make do only with Russian information. I mean that from the moment that he arrives on Russian soil he will only have the same sources of information as the Russian comrades. If Radek interjects that it is no different in any other country, then that is true in principle but it is different in practice. They do not have conditions there where for example letters or newspapers take ten days to arrive even from Germany. And I tell you that without a doubt big difficulties will arise from this. For if the Executive Committee has to decide things then there is no doubt the lack of sources of information will under certain conditions influence the decision, and yesterday in the Commission I quoted a case of how true that is.
The Russian comrades have given the Dutch comrades a mandate. When we in Germany saw the decision we immediately said that it was a mistake. And when the comrades in Holland saw the mandate they immediately said the same thing. My conclusion from all this is not that the Executive Committee should not stay here, for there are other reasons which argue much too much in favour of it. On the contrary I am in favour of it staying here. But I say that we must somehow make it possible to take important decisions which brook no delay in such a way that the representatives who came here for this purpose really can decide. The aim of my further proposals therefore is to say that a full session of the Executive Committee must take place every three months. In my opinion that says everything that has to be said in order to make sure that in particularly important decisions the party representatives who are precisely the best informed in such cases and who stand in the closest contact with their Parties can decide.
I further propose to change paragraph 12 of the Statutes in the following way. To cross out everything following the words ‘the Executive Committee’ and to put the following in its place: ‘The Executive Committee has the obligation’ etc.
In my opinion it is not necessary to give these illegal organisations that are anticipated here a special place in the Statutes. Whatever we have to say about illegal organisations has anyway been said in one or another of our Theses. The general statement that the Executive Committee has to see to the carrying out of the decisions of the Congress is therefore absolutely sufficient. That says everything and I believe that many of the Parties that are affiliated to the Communist International can only draw advantages from this silence about the illegal organisations.
Gallacher: On the question of the formation of a united Communist Party in Britain, I must say, precisely in relation to the programme that has been read out here, that in fact the Communists in Britain w I ho now march under the banner of the Communist Party stretch out one hand to the Communist International and another to the Second International. They have not taken a decisive stand on the position of the Communist International. The British Socialist Party (BSP) also counts as a Communist Party and at the same time belongs to the Labour Party. The Labour Party is a conglomerate of the most varied parties but which adopt the most opposed standpoints. I see here a contradiction and a reason to pose the question whether the BSP can be regarded as a really communist party. Comrade Radek has asked me whether I myself, as a trade union official, am not in the Labour Party. I replied that I am not an official but I am a member of the Labour Party. There is a difference between a man who is forced to enter a workers’ organisation and one who voluntarily enters a non-communist organisation. In order really to win power our first concern must be to stir up the masses to fight energetically the capitalists and the industrialists. That is the first important step. Our second concern must be to create an organisation for the armed struggle. The British Socialist Party, which is accepted here as a communist party, is actually not at all in favour of armed or physical struggle. Its outlook is pacifist, even if Comrade Quelch denies having said that he himself is against any use of force in this struggle.
The trade union movement in Britain can never be won for communism. On the contrary, this whole organisation must be considered as the most powerful bulwark for the defence of capitalism against the social revolution. Some delegates, representatives of the trade union movement, who have been here and have been received with open arms, appeared, when they returned to Britain, in big meetings and showed the medals they had been given here. When it is a question of really fighting for the cause of the workers they go to arbitration. Thus they endanger the revolutionary fight.
Reed: I disagree with those who do not want to adopt the point in the Theses on the armed struggle. I base myself particularly on experiences in America. Workers will not be able to understand how one can remain silent on something of that kind and, if they knew it, their interpretation of it would be that the Party was afraid of the consequences. Experience has shown that however legally one expresses oneself, every time the government needs to create laws against communists or revolutionaries, it finds ways of turning the most legal thing in the world into the most illegal. For this reason I am against silence. Moreover I do not wish paragraph 14, which talks about the Red Trade Union International, to be taken into the Statutes, or at least I do not want it to be voted on until the whole trade union question has been discussed by the Commission and debated here. It was clearly said here yesterday that all the questions connected with the trades unions would be dealt with first in the Commission and then submitted to the Congress. Moreover, I would like to point out that in general what was discussed was that the Trade Union International would have to stand in a loose relationship to the Communist International. According to what is said here in paragraph 14, however, it appears that the Trade Union International is to become a section of the Communist International. According to the new Statutes even the Youth International will have greater autonomy than the Trade Union International. For these reasons I would like to ask that no vote be taken now on this point.
Fraina: First of all I should like to emphasise what Reed has said about the Trade Union International. This is a life and death question. just as we smashed the Second Socialist International so too we must now smash the Amsterdam Trade Union International. That is an indispensable condition for our fight against world imperialism. But in our view this question must be dealt with separately and not as a part of the Statutes, since it requires serious consideration. We would like to move some amendments to it.
As far as the Statutes are concerned, I find myself in complete opposition to the proposal of Comrades Wijnkoop and Levi that the Executive of the International could be based in a different country from Russia. Many comrades feared before the Congress that because of the blockade, of the lack of sufficient information about the world movement, because of the requirements of ‘practical politics’ it might be necessary to have the Executive in some other country. But now it must be stated that all these fears were groundless. The Russian comrades know exactly what is going on. Nobody at this Congress has shown a better international spirit than the comrades of the Russian Party. The argument was also advanced that the Executive would have to be based in a country that represented for the moment the centre of the world revolution. We have gone beyond the stage of mere agitation. We are now in the stage of real action. The world revolution is a fact and the strategy and the tactics of the Communist International must be based on this fact.
All the international forces of imperialism and of the revolution come to bear on the country which is at present the centre of the world revolution (in this case Russia), and force the communist movement in this country to hold fast absolutely to an international point of view, for otherwise it would collapse. Everything that happens in the world affects the Russian comrades directly, not as a matter of theory or of tendency but as a question of life or death. What happens in England today affects Russia directly much more than the United States. What happens in the United States affects Russia much more than England, and so on with every country. International politics are concentrated around Soviet Russia. The Russian comrades are often better informed that we are about the most intimate details of the policies of our own imperialist governments. If nothing else, then objective conditions force the Russian comrades to this international standpoint. If they have control of the Executive Committee then there is a guarantee that problems will be tackled in an international spirit. It is senseless to propose transferring the Executive Committee to Berlin. We had the Western European Secretariat in Berlin and it was limited, narrow, to a certain degree nationalist and not international.
It is amazing that delegates at this Congress are opposed to including the sentence about illegal work in the Statutes. The combination of illegal and legal work is not only absolutely necessary but it must be openly proclaimed and made obligatory. If a party is legal then a tendency develops that is opposed to illegal work. And if a party is illegal a tendency develops against the exploitation of legal opportunities. We must insist on the combination of both. We cannot indulge in any illusions. Today our Party may be legal. Tomorrow it could already be illegal. We suffered a great deal from this in America when we recognised the fact that we absolutely had to become illegal, but did not work sufficiently towards this in practice. The result was that we were partially unprepared when the big oppression came. And even if a party is completely legal there is work, for example, agitation amongst soldiers and sailors, which demands an illegal organisation.
I am firmly convinced that centralisation is our fundamental problem. The great difference between the Second International and the Communist International lies precisely in the question of centralisation. One can reply that centralisation is solely an organisational and not a fundamental problem. But this argument is purely Menshevik. Centralisation is a revolutionary necessity. The Communist International is a rigidly centralised organisation for this very reason – that it is revolutionary, while the Second International was decentralised, and autonomous, because it represented a loose federation of reformist and not revolutionary organisations. World imperialism is centralising itself albeit only partially since the rivalries of different interests predominate. But the centralisation of imperialism is a fact in so far as opposition against the world revolution is concerned.
The proletariat and the communist parties of the world have completely identical interests and can create a form of centralisation that is impossible for imperialism; a fact that means an enormous advantage for us. The world revolution is a problem which requires mobility, adaptation to every particular development in the international situation in strategy and tactics. Until the International is firm, centralised and flexible in various directions according to the events at any given time, we will never win. A concentration of forces must exist, a unity in the leadership, so that the International and the organisations affiliated to it can act in unison and can concentrate on every specific phase of the world revolution. The International must have the right to issue orders to the local, national organisations. It must have the authority to say whether something shall be done or not done on the basis of events. Only in this way will we conquer.
Zinoviev: Comrades, three objections in principle have been made against our draft. First of all on the side of the American comrades who propose to cross out paragraph 14 and in general not to deal with the trade union question. The comrades have claimed that we promised them we would wait until the Trade Union Commission has finished its task. Comrades, I do not think that is right. Paragraph 14 says:
‘Trades unions adhering to the communist platform and organised internationally, under the leadership of the Communist International, shall form a Trade Union Section of the Communist International. These trades unions shall send their representatives to the World Congresses of the Communist International through the Communist Parties of the countries concerned. The Trade Union Section of the Communist International shall have one representative with full voting powers on the Executive Committee of the Communist International.'
We do not really need to wait until the Trade Union Commission has finished its work to state what should be clear for every communist. We do not want the Communist International only to organise political parties but also to embrace all the mass organisations of the proletariat that adopt the standpoint of communism. That is the first principle of the Communist International. Or do Comrades Fraina and Reed want to deny that? As we have said many times we are building on the same basis as the First International, we want to continue the traditions of the First International. Now, one of the most important traditions of the First International was that it wanted to organise not only the political parties but all mass proletarian organisations that adopted the standpoint of communism. That is what we are saying here. No more, but also no less. If we are to doubt that, then we cannot build the Communist International. We must not only include political parties but also revolutionary proletarian trades unions. And it is clear, that should the trades unions come to us then we must organise them in some way as a section of the Communist International, as a part of the Communist International. Can that be denied? In no way.
All these questions, whether one should remain in the American trades unions, whether one should immediately split the British trades unions or not, all these questions that are thrown up here have nothing to do with it. These questions are points at issue which must be discussed once more in the Commission. All that is being said here is that we do not only wish to have political organisations in the Communist International, but all proletarian organisations, in the first place the trades unions. That is the ABC of the Communist International.
Our first principle is that the trades unions must be represented at the World Congress, must organise themselves as a section of the Communist International and that there must be a mutual exchange of representatives in the two Executives. That is undeniable and every serious communist must accept that, otherwise we will have the practice of the Second International.
But we want to reconstruct the practice of the First International under new historical conditions, to carry out the traditions of Marx. These consist in this, that communism and the Party are not only leading in politics but that the Communist Party is leading in all spheres of the labour movement and that we must organise within the Communist International all branches of the movement throughout the world.
Then we come to the second question on the Executive in paragraph 8. Comrade Wijnkoop has proposed here that the Executive should be transferred say to Norway. Various plans can be proposed. All kinds of exotic republics could be found. I must however state that her c in paragraph 8, as generally in the Statutes, there is not a single word about Russia. That is a question on its own which we must discuss and decide separately. The Statutes say: ‘The seat of the Executive Committee of the Communist International shall be determined on each occasion by the World Congress of the Communist International.’ Should it be that the proletarian revolution is victorious in France or England then of course we will agree to the Executive being transferred to one of these countries. There is no talk about Russia at all. That is a question on its own. That is why we anticipate nothing. Here the principle is posed that the Congress must decide where the Executive is to have its seat.
Then we come to the composition of the Executive. The Statutes read: ‘The Executive consists of five comrades from the country in which the Executive has its seat and of one comrade each from the ten largest parties.’ I agree to Comrade Levi’s proposal that the words ‘not less than five comrades’ should be crossed out. We must say, ‘five comrades’. Comrade Wijnkoop says the Executive will be an extended Russian Committee, but I say perhaps it will be an extended Dutch committee. The only point at issue here is that the Executive Committee is to have fifteen members, five from one country and ten from the other parties of the different countries which belong to the Communist International. That will be an International Committee. So how can it be claimed it will simply be an extended Russian Committee? This will be an International Committee if all these ten parties send their delegates, and they should do that.
It was said here that it was impossible for all Parties to send one comrade each. I deny that. It seems that people think it is a luxury to have an able comrade here, for he is needed in Germany or elsewhere. That is no good. If we consider the Executive to be the chief instrument of the workers’ movement then every important party must find an important comrade who can take part in the Executive. It is the most important organisation of the international movement. It also has great significance for every communist movement. We are only asking for one comrade from each country and if the parties regularly relieve their delegates, then I think it will always be possible to maintain the numbers anticipated in the Statutes. We should, and must, make this sacrifice for the Communist International.
I also deny that it is correct to say that the comrade who remains here will lose contact with his organisation. Nobody loses contact in two or three months, particularly an old fighter. We were banned for many years and did not lose contact. The movement is now much more extensive. We imagine that the delegate in question should
become the secretary for his country on the Executive. The German comrade should be secretary for Germany and so on. Of course it would be good if the comrade was not changed too often, but it is also possible that the comrade in question remains secretary although he has been exchanged for somebody else. He can have a technical assistant. But the leadership should be left to the representative of the Party in question. Only in this way will we have a real Executive.
In many cases the Executive is more important than the Congress. We have discussed a number of questions. We cannot anticipate everything. In two weeks time, perhaps, the most important questions could be thrown up again under completely new conditions. We have just emphasised that we are working in an epoch of revolutionary struggle. The Executive must help and give answers. So its composition must be such that it has the formal and moral right to speak in the name of the Communist International. Therefore we must insist that it is composed of fifteen members and that the ten most important parties also really send their comrades to the Executive. If that is not the case then half the significance of our work is lost. The significance of our Congress consists precisely in the fact that we want to build up a firm organisation, an international general staff of the fighting proletariat. If, afterwards, we are not in a position to create an Executive then we will have destroyed at least half of our work.
For the first year we were a propaganda society. The Executive could not work as a centralised organ. It was a Russian institution. Now we want to change that. We have said that openly. We now want to have a centralised international organisation which can always give guidance. We have provided the Executive with wide-reaching rights, including that of expelling entire parties, so the parties must also make sure that they have a representative here. Otherwise we have worked in vain. We cannot tell the international proletariat that we now have no centralised international. Therefore I am against the proposal that Comrade Levi made that a full session of the Executive take place every three months. I hesitated somewhat yesterday in the Commission, I was of the opinion that we should make concessions to our German friends. But if you consider what Comrade Levi proposes, that is to say that the representative of the Party should only be delegated in special cases, or only once in three months, it is clear that what will happen is that all the parties will. act in that way. Every three months then a full-dress session will take place, but in the meantime we will not have an active Executive. For that reason we must tell our friends that although it is difficult for you always to keep a comrade here you must undertake this sacrifice because it is a sacrifice in the interests of your own Party.
Communists will not pose this question, as did for example the Independents, who play a double game by separating the struggle and the Communist International. It must be said that they are the same thing. We are an International Party which has branches in different countries. The work in the International is as important for Germany as it is for Russia. Therefore we must insist that the wording remains absolutely as it is, that we have an Executive which embraces five members from one country and ten members from various other countries, who are secretaries for their countries and work together.
Now we come to the final point at issue in paragraph 12 on the illegal organisation. This paragraph 12 reads: ‘The general situation all over Europe and America compels communists throughout the world to create illegal communist organisations side by side with the legal organisation. The Executive Committee is obliged to see that this is put into effect.’ In the Commission, too, we thought about whether it should perhaps be put somewhat more cautiously. But I am of the opinion, after having heard everything, that we will leave it as it is. There are perhaps some negative considerations, but the positive is overwhelming. In countries like England and America, in the so-called countries of classical bourgeois freedom, there has been no thought of creating illegal organisations. It has perhaps been taken up theoretically, but never carried out practically. Only now, when 5,000 Communists have been arrested in America, are people there beginning to understand that it is impossible without illegal organisation. The German experience, too, confirms that. The Party there is legal today and illegal tomorrow and from that the international proletariat draws the experience that at any event they must have an illegal organisation. That is important for every country. That is the experience of the fifteen months of the existence of the Communist International. It is important to say that and to put it into effect. We must say it in the most compelling way possible so that we know it and carry it out.
And now the practical considerations that have been advanced. Wait and see; perhaps we can make do with a legal organisation. That is not the case. Comrade Levi has stated about Germany that he thinks that in Germany the bourgeoisie has already become so used to legal work that it will not dare to do anything against it. So the German comrades are saying that, whether or not we mention it in the Statutes, the bourgeoisie cannot rob us of our legal existence. In Italy the Party is so strong the bourgeoisie cannot rob it of its legal existence. The experience of Bulgaria is that we have an old party which is legal, which has forty or more members of Parliament who were subjected to many persecutions. We are in favour of speaking out clearly and openly. The experience in the Balkans, Germany, Austria and Italy should be decisive for us. Perhaps the paragraph will create problems for one Party or another but the positive is much more important for us. And experience tells us we must make it binding in the Statutes, since for the bourgeoisie it is not decisive whether we hang them legally or illegally. What is decisive for them is whether they are really hanged, whether we are going to fight for communism. Our organisational form is not the most important thing. We have already experienced that with arms in hand.
So comrades, the public prosecutor will in any case quote from these Theses. It will all boil down to the same in the end, except that we will lose what we have not clearly expressed, what every worker must and should know. That is why we insist on the wording remaining as it is. We must tell the international proletariat: ‘You must understand that now that you have entered the epoch of decisive struggles, you must everywhere systematically build up an illegal organisation, for when the decisive hour comes the bourgeoisie will trample on your legality and you will stand there with empty hands and not have an organisation.’ Therefore we must express that very clearly. I do not think that the Congress need worry about voting for what the great majority of the Commission has decided. The Commission adopted the Statutes by and large unanimously with one abstention. I propose that the Congress adopts the Statutes unanimously. It is important that we adopt the Constitution of our International Party as unanimously as possible and show the whole world that we are no longer a loose propaganda association.
We are one united International Party which has Statutes, which knows what it wants and what sort of international obligations it has; whose members give mutual guarantees and have bound themselves in comradely discipline in order from this hour on really to fight together for Communism.
I shall first take the vote on the various amendments – first of all those on paragraph 8. [Are unanimously adopted in the original form.]
Now we shall take a vote on the Statutes as a whole which read as follows:
In London, in 1864, was established the first International Association of Workers, later known as the First International. The Statutes of the International Association of Workers read as follows:
‘That the emancipation of the working class must be carried out by the working class itself.
‘That the struggle for the emancipation of the working class does not imply a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and equal obligations and the abolition of all class domination.
‘That the economic subjection of the workers to the monopolists of the means of production, the sources of life, is the cause of servitude in all its forms, the cause of all social misery, mental degradation and political dependence.
‘That, consequently, the economic emancipation of the working class is the great aim to which every political movement must be subordinated.
‘That all endeavours directed to this great aim have hitherto failed because of the lack of solidarity between the various branches of industry in each country and because of the absence of a fraternal bond of unity between the working classes of the different countries.
‘That the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national problem, but one of a social character embracing every civilised country, and the solution of which depends on the theoretical and practical co-operation of the most progressive countries.
‘That the present revival of the workers’ movement in the industrial countries of Europe, while awakening new hopes, contains a solemn warning against a relapse into old errors, and calls for an immediate union of the hitherto disconnected movement.'
The Second International, which was established in Paris in 1889, undertook to continue the work of the First International. At the outbreak of the world slaughter in 1914 the Second International perished – undermined by opportunism and betrayed by its leaders who rallied to the side of the bourgeoisie.
The Third (Communist) International, established in March, 1919, in Moscow, the capital city of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, solemnly proclaims to the whole world that it takes upon itself the task of continuing and completing the great cause begun by the First International Association of Workers.
The Third (Communist) International was formed at a moment when the imperialist slaughter of 1914-1918, in which the imperialist bourgeoisie of the various countries sacrificed twenty million men, had come to an end.
Remember the imperialist war! This is the first appeal of the Communist International to every toiler wherever he may live and whatever language he may speak. Remember that owing to the existence of the capitalist system a small group of imperialists had the opportunity during four long years of compelling the workers of various countries to cut each other’s throats. Remember that this imperialist war had reduced Europe and the whole world to a state of extreme destitution and starvation. Remember that unless the capitalist system is overthrown a repetition of this criminal war is not only possible but is inevitable.
The Communist International sets itself the aim of fighting with all means, also with arms in hand, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international soviet republic as a transition to the complete abolition of the state. The Communist International considers the dictatorship of the proletariat an essential means for the liberation of humanity from the horrors of capitalism; and regards the Soviet form of government as the historically necessary form of this dictatorship.
The imperialist war linked the fate of the workers of each country particularly closely with the fate of the workers of every other country; it emphasised once again what was pointed out in the Statutes of the First International: that the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national problem, but one of a social and international character.
The Communist International breaks once and for all with the traditions of the Second International which, in reality, only recognised the white race. The task of the Communist International is to emancipate the workers of the whole world. In its ranks are fraternally united men of all colours – white, yellow and black – the toilers of the entire world.
The Communist International fully and unreservedly upholds the gains of the great proletarian revolution in Russia, the first victorious socialist revolution in the world’s history, and calls upon all workers to follow the same road. The Communist International makes it its duty to support, by all the power at its disposal, every Soviet Republic wherever it may be formed.
The Communist International is aware that for the purpose of the speedy achievement of victory, the international association of the workers which is struggling for the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of Communism, must possess a firm and centralised organisation.
To all intents and purposes the Communist International should represent a single universal Communist Party, of which the parties operating in the different countries form individual sections. The organisation of the Communist International is directed towards securing for the workers of every country the possibility, at any given moment, of obtaining the maximum of aid from the organised workers of the other countries.
For this purpose the Communist International confirms the following Statutes:
1. The new international association of workers is established for the purpose of organising common action between the workers of various countries who are striving towards a single aim: the overthrow of capitalism, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the international Soviet Republic, the complete abolition of classes and the realisation of socialism, as the first step to communist society.
2. The new international association of workers has been given the name of The Communist International.
3. All the parties and organisations comprising the Communist International bear the name of the Communist Party of the particular country (section of the Communist International).
4. The World Congress of all parties and organisations forming part of the Communist International is the supreme authority of this International. The World Congress meets regularly once a year. The World Congress alone is empowered to change the programme of the Communist International; it discusses and decides the more important questions of programme and tactics connected with the activity of the Communist International. The allocation of full votes at the World Congress between the constituent parties and organisations is decided by a special regulation of the Congress; it is necessary to strive for the speedy establishment of a standard of representation based on the actual membership and real influence of the party in question.
5. The World Congress elects an Executive Committee of the Communist International which serves as the principal authority of the Communist International in the interim between the World Congresses. The Executive Committee is responsible only to the World Congress.
6. The place of residence of the Executive Committee of the Communist International is determined at each World Congress.
7. A special World Congress of the Communist International may be convened either by decision of the Executive Committee, or on the demand of one-half of the parties affiliated to the Communist International at the time of the previous World Congress.
8. The greater part of the work and principal responsibility in regard to the Executive Committee of the Communist International devolves upon the Party in the particular country where, in keeping with the decision of the World Congress, the Executive Committee has its residence for the time being. The Party of the country in question sends to the Executive Committee not less than five members with a full vow. In addition, each of the ten to thirteen largest Communist Parties is entitled to send one representative with a full vote to the Executive Committee. The list of these representatives has to be ratified by the World Congress. The remaining parties and organisations forming part of the Communist International each enjoy the right of sending to the Executive Committee one representative with a consultative vote.
9. The Executive Committee directs the whole work of the Communist International between Congresses. The Executive Committee publishes, in not less than four languages, the central organ of the Communist International (the periodical, Communist International). The Executive Committee makes the necessary appeals on behalf of the Communist International and issues instructions binding on all parties and organisations forming part of the Communist International. The Executive Committee has the right to demand from affiliated parties the exclusion of members and groups guilty of the infringement of international proletarian discipline, and also to exclude from the Communist International any parties that infringe the regulations of the World Congress, such parties having the right of appeal to the World Congress. Where necessary the Executive Committee organises in different countries its technical and auxiliary bureaux, which are entirely under the control of the Executive Committee. The representatives of the Executive Committee shall carry out their political tasks in the closest contact with the Party centre of the country concerned.
10. The Executive Committee of the International has the right to include in its ranks representatives (with a consultative vote only) from parties and organisations which, while not belonging to the Communist International, sympathise with it and stand near to it.
11. The organs of all the parties and organisations forming part of the Communist International, as well as those who consider themselves sympathisers of the Communist International, are obliged to publish all official decisions of the Communist International and of its Executive Committee.
12. The general conditions prevailing in Europe and America compel communists throughout the world to form illegal Communist organisations side by side with the legal organisations. The Executive Committee has charge of the universal application of this rule.
13. As a rule political communication between individual parties affiliated to the Communist International is carried out through the Executive Committee of the Communist International. In cases of urgent need, however, direct relations are permissible, provided that the Executive Committee is informed thereof at the same time.
14. Trades unions that have accepted the Communist platform and are united internationally under the guidance of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, form Trade Union Sections of the Communist International. These trades unions send their representatives to the World Congresses of the Communist International through the medium of the Communist Parties of their respective countries. The Trade Union Section of the Communist International delegates a representative with a full vote to the Executive Committee of the Communist International. The Executive Committee of the Communist International has the right to send a representative with a full vote to the Trade Union Section of the Communist International.
15. The International League of Young Communists is as a member of the Communist International subordinated to it and its Executive Committee. One representative of the Executive Committee of the International League of Young Communists with a full vote is delegated to the Executive Committee of the Communist International. The Executive Committee of the Communist International, on the other hand, has the right of sending a representative with a full vote to the Executive Committee of the International League of ‘Young Communists.
16. The Executive Committee of the Communist International confirms the appointment of the International Secretary of the Communist Women’s Movement and organises a Women’s Section of the Communist International.
17. A member of the Communist International journeying to another country has a right to the fraternal support of the local members of the Third International.
The Statutes are unanimously adopted.
Zinoviev: Comrades, we now have Statutes for the Communist International. We have finally organised ourselves as a Party. I congratulate the Congress on this. I believe that this is one of the most important conquests of the international proletariat. We have at last formally organised ourselves. Long live the Communist International!
End of the session.