Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International

Thirteenth Session

Zinoviev: We now come to the report of the second Commission on the conditions of entry into the Communist International. The reporter, Comrade Meyer, has the floor.

Meyer: The conditions for entry into the Communist International as they were formulated in Comrade Lenin’s Theses were discussed in the Commission dealing with the tasks of the Second Congress. On page 7, five conditions for entry are named. In the discussion on these conditions it was pointed out that the Congress has already adopted Theses on conditions of entry. Discussions then took place in a mixed Commission including seven members of the Commission on the Tasks of the Congress.

This joint Commission proposes to the Congress that the Theses on acceptance into the Communist International should be somewhat changed. In paragraph 7 of the conditions of entry (page 82 of the German edition), Kautsky, Turati, Hillquit, MacDonald and others are named as notorious reformists. This new Commission has decided to add Hilferding. The Commission further dealt with the proposals that were made here in the full session and referred back for consideration. The motion of the Russian delegation, that two-thirds of the members of all leading party bodies in those parties which now wish to affiliate to the Communist International must be comrades who had spoken out in favour of affiliation even before the Congress of the Communist International, was adopted by the combined Commission.

A motion was further adopted which gives all parties which now belong to the Communist International or wish to belong to it the obligation of calling an extraordinary national party conference as quickly as possible but in no case later than four months after the Second Congress of the Second International in order to examine all the conditions that have been accepted. A motion was also adopted in the Commission by which those members of the parties which wish to belong to the Communist International but who reject the conditions be expelled from the Party. The same should be true of delegates to the special party conference, who vote against entry to the Communist International.

The sub-Commission, the Commission on affiliation, dealt today with the decisions of the combined Commission and undertook a few small alterations. Thus the Executive is to retain the right to permit exceptions in relation to the proportion of party bodies of supporters of the Communist International, and in relation to the expulsion of notorious reformists. The passage in question now reads literally:

‘19. All Parties belonging to the Communist International and those which have applied for admission are obliged to convene an extraordinary congress as soon as possible and in any case not later than four months after the Second Congress of the Communist International to examine all these conditions of admission. In this connection all Party centres must see that the decisions of the Second Congress of the Communist International are made known to all local organisations.

‘20. Those Parties which now wish to join the Communist International, but which have not radically changed their former tactics, must see to it that before entering the Communist International not less than two-thirds of the members of their Central Committee and of all their leading central bodies consist of comrades who publicly and unambiguously advocated the entry of their Party into the Communist International before its Second Congress. Exceptions can be made with the consent of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. The Executive also has the right to make exceptions in the case of representatives of the centrist tendency mentioned in paragraph 7.

‘21. Those members of the party who object in principle to the conditions and Theses put forward by the Communist International are to be expelled from the Party. The same applies in particular to the delegates to the extraordinary congress.’

The Commission, which adopted these amendments by a majority vote, proposes that you should agree to these amendments. Reference must be made to these 21 conditions in the Theses on the tasks of the Second Congress.

Zinoviev: Two speakers have asked for the floor but I propose to take a vote without any further discussion. [Adopted with a small minority against.]

Zinoviev: We must now take a vote on the 21 conditions as they are now formulated. [They are adopted with 2 votes against.]

Zinoviev: We now come to the question of the Statutes. Only one amendment has been proposed. In the Statutes it was proposed to form the Executive in the following way – five representatives from the country where the Executive is to have its permanent seat and ten representatives of the other parties. On behalf of the Russian Party I should like to propose to say not ten, but from ten to thirteen. As we were composing the list it turned out that a number of important Parties would be excluded from participation in the Executive if we were to say 10. If we say from 10 to 13 then we have an Executive of at the most 18 members. If nobody wishes to speak we will take the vote on whether 10 to 13 representatives of the other parties are to be adopted. [The new proposal is unanimously adopted.]

Zinoviev: Now we must take a vote on the Statutes with these amendments. [Interjection: ‘The Statutes were adopted yesterday.'] Then we don’t need to take a vote on it. Now we are to decide where the seat of the Executive is to be for the coming period, until a fresh World Congress decides otherwise. Russia is proposed. [It is unanimously decided that for the immediate period the Executive is to remain in Russia.]

Zinoviev: All that remains now is the question of the women and the youth organisations. We propose to refer these two questions to the new Executive, not because we ascribe no importance to the questions – they are of great importance – but because we do not want to deal with them in half an hour. Therefore we want to leave the question to the new Executive, which will be somewhat extended, together with the representatives of the women’s and youth organisations. [It is decided, with a minority against, that the youth and women’s questions should be left to the Executive.]

Zinoviev: We come now to the report of the Commission on Parliamentarism.

Rosi Wolfstein: All that there remains for the Commission to do is to take a vote on the amendments brought in by Comrades Levi and Bukharin. All the members of the Commission declare themselves to be in favour. We submit to you the Theses with the amendments that were submitted in the full session and we must now vote on them. [Adopted.]

Meyer: Graziadei’s motion on the Co-operatives should still be added to the Theses. The Commission is unanimous about this. If the Congress agrees the question is settled. I do not think that there will be any debate about it.

Zinoviev: I move that the Commission should settle the final wording. [Adopted.]

Zinoviev: Then there is a motion from Pestaña on the Esperanto question. In agreement with Comrade Pestaña we propose to refer the motion to the new Executive. [Adopted.] With that the agenda is completed.

We intend to hold a ceremonial session of the Congress tomorrow, together with the Moscow Soviet and the All Russian Central Committee of the Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Soviets, in order to draw a balance sheet of the Congress, to have some speeches there and then to close the Congress. The session will take place tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock in the big theatre.

Münzenberg: Unfortunately it was not possible for the Congress to deal with the youth question. Therefore we have decided to can a conference of youth representatives tomorrow at 12 o'clock and we invite all Party comrades who have any interest in the youth movement to come there. It will begin punctually at 12 o'clock here in the Kremlin in the House of the Central Executive Committee.

Radek: Since it is probable that the delegates will want to have their passports, I ask them for their own peace of mind to take heed of the following. The Executive will discuss the organisation of the ‘evacuation’ tomorrow. You can sit at your ease in the hotel. A comrade will make all the arrangements.

Zinoviev: The question of the Executive has not yet been settled. We have decided how many Parties, but not yet which. I have a provisional list which I should like to read out to you and which reads as follows:

List of the members of the Executive Committee of the Communist International

Meyer (Levi), Germany

Rosmer, France

Serrati, Italy

Quelch, Britain

Reed (Gurwisch), United States

Steinhardt, Austria

Fries, Sweden

Shablin, Bulgaria

Milkic, Yugoslavia

Rudnyanski, Hungary

Pak, Far East

Sultan Zadeh, Middle East

Radek, Poland

Jansen, Holland

Maring, Java

Stuchka, Latvia

Tchkaya, Georgia

Shatzkin, Turkey

Manner, Finland

Gula, Czechoslovakia

Those are the Parties that are to have the right to send one member each with a full vote to the Executive Committee.

Wijnkoop: I wish to say that I cannot agree to this list. Holland has been excluded from this Executive. I have already gone through the arguments for letting Holland in. I think that the one really militant revolutionary party that has been excluded from the Executive is Holland. I shall not go into this matter any further and I hope that the Executive will consider the matter once more. If you insist that Holland should not have a vote on the Executive, I shall have to take a stand on my protest.

Radek: We have exchanged so many harsh words with the Dutch comrades already during the Congress that it is very painful to me to have to speak out once more against Comrade Wijnkoop’s protest. The reasons why Holland is not on the list of countries from among whose representatives proposals have been made to the Congress for the Executive Committee are not reasons of political tendency but purely objective reasons of the size of the Party. The same tendency represented by and large by the Dutch Party is also represented by the American delegation and part of the British delegation. What countries are on the list? They are countries with big revolutionary movements like Russia, Germany, Italy, or countries that have already been Soviet republics, like Hungary and Finland, and Poland, that has had a revolutionary mass movement for thirty years. Or they are countries like England, France and America, which although at the moment they have only a slight revolutionary significance, are of decisive importance for the policies of the International, and with whose representatives we must consult at every turn, even though they do not have any big revolutionary movement.

The Dutch Communist Party has merits which nobody here wants to diminish. It was the first Party that dared to proceed to a split with the Social Democratic Party and the Dutch comrades stood by the banner of communism in a very difficult situation. Nobody is taking that away from them and we completely recognise it. But it is a small party that does not play a decisive role in the international situation. It would come into consideration perhaps if it had theoretical forces to which one could lay claim. But the groups of Comrades Pannekoek and Gorter are, as Wijnkoop says, outside the Dutch movement. It does not have so many forces that it can put some of them at the disposal of the International. When the German comrades turned to them in their hour of greatest need they could get no help from there. The proposal is completely objectively based without the slightest animosity towards the Dutch comrades, with whom we hope to fight in comradeship despite differences of opinion. We hope that in the future they will win more forces and they will have some spare to support the International.

Wijnkoop: I am very grateful to Comrade Radek for his friendly opposition to us, but I must say that we do not want to be honorary members of the Executive. That is not what we are asking for, otherwise we would certainly get it. We are one of the most honest Communist Parties, and we have always done what has to be done by Communists. We demand it because we are a communist force and the Executive recognised that at a different stage. First, why did it set up an auxiliary bureau in Amsterdam? The matter has been discussed on the Executive. Anybody can make mistakes. I'm not talking about that. All we did was to carry out our obligations as communists. No reproaches can be made against us in this field. We were given this auxiliary bureau because of our importance and now nobody seems to know anything about this importance.

Radek spoke about Gorter and Pannekoek, but Pannekoek did not work in the Dutch communist movement, in Germany perhaps, but not in Holland. You can’t after all, measure the communist strength of a Party by two people, by Gorter and Pannekoek. Those who know the Tribune well, know that it was not Gorter and Pannekoek but Ravenstein, Seton and myself who were always the editors of the Tribune and that we directed the Tribune together with other comrades. That is the strength of the Dutch Communist movement and it still exists.

It is said that there is no big movement there. I feel that there is too much counting of big figures. Although our figures are small, we are a disciplined revolutionary party that has a great influence in the country. This is shown by the fact that we have a communist daily paper; it is shown by the fact that we have many members in the local councils and that we have a great influence in the trade union movement. I think that the Executive must examine this matter once more and that precisely the attitude that we have adopted at this Congress is one more reason why the Executive should give us a vote. We have not always been in agreement with the Executive. You don’t always need to be in agreement. You go to the Executive for discussions in which every member should get a decisive hearing. I think that the Executive has every reason to give Holland a vote. I hope that it will do so. If it does not do so I must protest against it.

Maring: We agree that the peoples of the East, although they do not yet possess a regular Party, should have representation with a full vote on the Executive Committee. This is to recognise that the East has an enormous importance for the Communist International. But I should still like to point out the following. I think that with one representative the East will not be sufficiently represented in the Communist International, precisely because conditions in the Middle East and the Far East are quite different, so that it is difficult to find a representative who can sufficiently represent the interests of the two halves of Asia, and because we are afraid that the comrades here, the Russian comrades and perhaps other comrades too, know the representatives from the Middle East better than the representatives of the Far East.

I should therefore like to ask that a seat on the Executive should be given to those parts of Asia which are most important from the standpoint of our movement and of imperialism. We therefore ask for not one, but two representatives to be given to the peoples of the East, so that the Middle East and the Far East can each send one representative with a full vote to the Executive. I hope that it will be possible and that the Congress will thus decide to make a reality of Lenin’s and Roy’s Theses in the immediate future, which will be of great importance for the future of the International.

M N Roy

Roy: For the same reasons, I ask for two delegates to the Executive to be approved because it is a question of the representation of our interests.

Wanek: For the reasons put forward by the two previous speakers I propose that the Congress adopts the following motion:

‘The Executive Committee is empowered to supplement its numbers by co-optation in order thus to make representation possible to those parties whose strength and numbers proves to be so important for the development of the conditions of the social revolution throughout the world that they have to be represented on the Executive.’

I do not need to give any further reasons for this motion as I think that this elasticity which enables the Executive Committee to supplement its own numbers corresponds with the whole authority which has already been handed over to the Executive Committee by and large.

Zinoviev: On the question of Holland I should like to state on Radek’s behalf that Comrade Wijnkoop talked as if the fact that Holland has not received a seat on the Executive was a slight to the old movement, to old comrades. It goes without saying that we did not start by intending a slight but with the fact that we could not take on all parties. There is also nothing further to say against the Middle East. It is said that an exception has been made in the case of Scandinavia, but we have taken a number of countries together. You see that we have not given a whole number of votes to the East, not because we want to deny anybody their rights but because we do not want to have a Congress but an Executive. If a big Party comes along and fulfils all the conditions the Executive should, by way of exception, have the right to co-opt such a Party.

Bringolf: I should like to say a few words more about Switzerland. We are in a situation which does not permit us to demand a seat on the Executive, although it would be very important to have a seat on the Executive. Humbert-Droz has already spoken about the fact that in supplementing the Executive attention should be paid to Switzerland which is in the process of clarification and for whom it is very important to come into direct contact with Russia. We have gone into this in our report to the Executive and hope that it will be accepted.

A vote is taken on the list. It is adopted with two amendments. Wanek’s motion is also adopted.

Zinoviev: This question is settled. There are various Draft Manifestos. A draft for a Manifesto to the KAPD. We owe them an answer since their delegates ran away from the Congress. [It is decided to refer the draft of a letter to the KAPD to the Executive.]

Zinoviev: We intend to publish a big political Manifesto which is already nearly finished. The main part of this work is being done by Comrade Trotsky, who also wrote the first Manifesto. If it is possible we will read it out tomorrow. Should that not be the case we will give the Executive complete powers in this matter too and publish the Manifesto with the signatures of all the delegations. Perhaps two delegates for each country. [Adopted.]

Zinoviev: I should also like to inform you that tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock the first meeting of the new Executive is taking place. I should like to ask ‘all delegates to agree their members provisionally. The Central Committees of the parties in question can send other delegates alternately. But, for a start, the delegations must send their representatives.

The session is closed. The Congress ends with the singing of the Internationale and with three cheers for the Soviet Republic and the World Revolution.