Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International
Kalinin: Comrades, I declare open the joint session of the Second Congress of the Communist International, the All Russian Central Executive Committee, the Moscow Soviet and the plenum of the trades unions and the works councils. [Applause – The Internationale.]
Comrades, the workers and peasants of the Russian Soviet Republic can be proud and happy that the Second Congress of the Communist International takes place in our country. Comrades, for twenty-five years the Second International, which was moderate and stood in more or less friendly, or at least not hostile, relations to the bourgeoisie, triumphed. But it could not meet in Russia. It met in Western Europe, in hired halls. It did not have available the halls that the Second Congress of the Communist International does. As you know, the Second Congress met in gilded halls, in the halls of the great palace of the Kremlin, where only recently the might of Russian Tsarism showed itself. And as this Congress began, the death of the old order and the birth of the new proletarian order was accomplished before our very eyes.
We greet the Second Congress of the Communist International quite particularly because, to a certain extent, it frees us from the political responsibility that the Russian working class and the Russian Communist Party have carried on their shoulders. We already thought and confidently hoped that the revolutionary energy and work of the Russian proletariat would be taken up and carried further by the international proletariat, that we could count on its ready assistance. And today, comrades, in the period of the Second Congress, we see that a certain part of the revolutionary work, a part of the burden, has been transferred from the shoulders of the Russian proletariat to the shoulders of the international working class. That, comrades, is the greatest assistance that the Western European working class could give.
We need not mention here that the French and British proletariat from time to time held up war materials destined for White Poland. We saw the highest expression of solidarity just recently when the revolutionary committee was formed in Poland. While we participate in the revolutionary work and stand continually in the fire of the revolution, we miss out the greatest events which signify a new chapter in the history of the workers’ movement. Without a doubt, the emergence of the Polish proletariat at the moment that White Poland is fighting the Russian Soviet Republic is a new stage, a new phase in the. revolutionary struggle. Apart from the Russian, no proletariat has yet succeeded in seizing power at a time of the bitterest war. Now, however, we see a continuation of the tactics of the Russian proletariat in the way the Polish proletariat is taking up the fight against the Polish bourgeoisie. It is an event of the greatest importance. Not only historians but also political leaders will later learn from it.
We heartily greet the representatives of the Communist International as the best representatives of those proletarian classes that want to help us. We wish them the quickest possible return to the international proletariat and hope that we shall meet the international proletariat as soon as possible on our fighting front. Long live the Communist International. Long live the Second Congress of the Communist International. [Applause.]
The representative of the Scottish workers, Comrade Gallacher, has the floor.
Gallacher: [Speaks in English.]
Chairman: Comrade Radek has the floor to translate.
Radek: Comrades, allow me first of all to say who Comrade Gallacher is who has spoken here, and whom the workers of Moscow do not know as well as they ought to. He is a worker from an area of Britain where there are gigantic munitions factories. He was one of the main leaders of the revolutionary struggle in this area during the war. Together with Comrade McLaine, Comrade Gallacher organised this enormous struggle which was so successful that British ministers find it impossible to speak calmly of Comrade Gallagher.
Comrade Gallacher says that now, when the delegates to the Second Congress are already dispersing, he has received news that the British government is preparing a new attack on Soviet Russia, that the British government intends to appear as the defender of Polish independence. The same British government that pillages and enslaves Ireland, Egypt and India now dares to say that it appears as the defender of Polish independence. This independence is not at all threatened by the Red Army. The British government is using the flag of Polish independence dishonourably, for it is fighting to prevent the uprising of the masses of Polish workers, in order to make it impossible to create soviet power in Warsaw.
Comrade Gallacher is convinced that the threats of the British government will not deter the Russian workers. The Russian revolution has created a powerful Red Army. Comrade Gallacher calls on the whole working class of Russia to support the Red Army as one man, and to think only of supporting this Red Army so that it can break the last resistance of the hostile forces and achieve the final victory. He says that they can now rely, not only on the Red Army, but also on other armies that will come to the defence of Soviet Russia, that is to say the armies of the Western European proletariat, who have got to know Soviet Russia in the last few years, and for whom Soviet Russia has the meaning of a homeland, for it is the first country of the rising sun of socialism.
He says that he himself and his comrades, returning to Britain, will be the link that will call on British workers, not only to fight for the defence of Soviet Russia, but also to fight for the seizure of power by the British working class. [Applause.]
He knows the enormous obstacles that encumber the path of the British revolutionaries. In Britain the compromisers are still strong for whom the blood of the working class is not dear, who have spilled it in the cause of the bourgeoisie and who, when it is a question of the liberation of the proletariat, say: ‘Be careful, spare your blood, do not make sacrifices!’ But however strong these people, these bureaucrats, are in the trades union movement, however strong they are in parliament, he is convinced that the British working class will chase them to the devil, for the British working class is becoming more and more convinced that the only way out of the situation is the path trodden two and a half years ago by the Russian proletariat. In his own name and that of his comrades he swears that, having returned, the British comrades will only have one thought: How to help Soviet Russia in her struggles, how to make it clear to the British working class that here was born the great Red Army on which the Russian working class rests, and that the British workers must unite with Russian workers for a common victory over world imperialism. [Applause.]
Chairman: Comrades, Britain is making efforts to force White Finland into a war with Soviet Russia. I give the floor to the best representative of the Finnish workers, Comrade Manner.
Manner: [Speaks in Finnish.]
Chairman: Comrade Rakhia has the floor to translate.
Rakhia: Comrade Manner, the representative of the Communist Party of Finland at the Second Congress of the Communist International, is one of the oldest leaders of the workers’ movement in Finland. Even when Finland stood under the banner of Social Democracy, Comrade Manner was one of the best representatives of the workers’ movement. At one time he was President of the Diet, when the Finnish workers had 103 out of 200 seats. In 1918, Comrade Manner was President of the Council of Peoples Commissars, in socialist Finland, which fell under the blows of German imperialism.
He greets you, and in your persons the revolutionary proletariat of Russia, and says that he does so at a time when the imperialists of the whole world, under the leadership of the British government and British capital are once more. preparing a blow in order finally to smash Soviet Russia. For this blow they will use all the forces they have to hand, chiefly the small border territories that wait like dogs for the master’s command. At the very moment when the Finnish bourgeoisie is holding peace negotiations at Dorpat with the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, Britain is trying to influence White Guard troops to make them attack Petrograd.
Comrade Manner says that two years ago, in 1918, the Finnish proletariat was the first to follow the call of the Russian proletariat and begin the fight with and alongside the Russian proletariat. At that time the Finnish proletariat had no idea how a revolution is to be carried out, and suffered a defeat. Now, however, after the fearful blows of the terror, the Finnish proletariat, which was beaten two years ago, has learnt that you must have a strongly forged revolutionary organisation if you want to win. Such an organisation which, however small, is well organised, is now present in Finland, and therefore Comrade Manner declares on behalf of the revolutionary proletariat of Finland that, if the Finnish bourgeoisie should dare to carry out Britain’s instructions, and attack Petrograd, the revolutionary proletariat of Finland will fall upon them from the rear. [Applause.]
Two years of fearful White terror have taught the Finnish proletariat one thing: a small country, a country that can hardly be seen on the map, has at least this destiny in the international revolutionary struggle – to die, if its death can help the working class of the whole world to victory, and the Finnish proletariat will know how to do this. [Applause.]
Chairman: The member of the Congress and representative of the Communist Party of Germany Spartakusbund, Comrade Levi, has the floor.
Levi: [Speaks in German.]
Chairman: Comrade Radek has the floor to translate.
Radek: Comrades, since the death of Comrades Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, Comrade Levi has led the whole illegal work of the Communist Party of Germany.
He says that world capital was of the opinion that it had ended the World War at Versailles, but that now, after four years of war and a year and a half after the ‘end’ of the war, the whole world is still where it was in August 1914. It is once more faced with a great war which will perhaps break out between Soviet Russia and the Allies, but which cannot leave Germany indifferent, which will draw Germany into the struggle and force the German proletariat and bourgeoisie to participate in the solution of the international question.
The German bourgeoisie returned home defeated from the war. The German bourgeoisie expected a handsome sum from British capital in order to turn once more against the proletariat. Now, however, the German proletariat is no longer the same as it was in 1914, when it accepted the decision of the bourgeoisie without objection, sent its sons to the battlefield for the cause of the bourgeoisie, and at that time did not see its own path. The German proletariat lost millions of its sons on the battlefield. It knows now that capitalism means poverty and death.
When, after four and a half years of the war that the bourgeoisie forced it into, it returned home, it found the streets of Germany stained with the blood of the proletariat for whose liberation Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht had died. It grasped that there was no other salvation than revolutionary war, for otherwise slavery would once more be imposed. This proletariat has already learnt how to fight; it has not yet been able to take power into its hands, but it has already learnt how to use the means that stand at its disposal. The position of this proletariat, hundreds and thousands of whom are now thrown out of work onto the streets. is a terrible one, and it will now have to choose between its rum and the fight against the whole capitalist world.
The moment the Entente dares to incite Germany against Soviet Russia, the moment the Entente tries to reach White Poland through Germany, the German proletariat will understand that the decisive hour has struck, and that it must fight for the world revolution. And Comrade Levi is profoundly convinced that the German working class will do this without hesitating. For the struggle to save Soviet Russia is the struggle of the German proletariat against poverty and slavery. He is convinced that the cry that echoes through Russia, the cry: ‘Long live Soviet Russia!’ will find a loud echo in the masses of millions of the German proletariat. And if, in its fight with Poland’s White Army, the Red Army approaches the frontiers of Germany, then it will hear from the other side, over the bayonets, the cry of the German proletariat, the cry: ‘Long live Soviet Russia!’ [Applause.]
Chairman: Comrade Radek has the floor as the representative of the Polish proletariat.
Radek: Comrades, I am convinced that our Red Army will continue to be in a position to deal blows to the Polish landowners who are attacking Soviet Russia, and I am convinced that no efforts on the part of Polish capital and the Polish landowners will be able to stifle the Polish proletariat. In the last few days we have received the news that Pilsudsky’s government, the government of bankrupts, is trying to hold up the course of events by throwing hundreds more Communists in gaol. The majority of the leaders of the Polish Communist movement known to us are now under lock and key, and the Polish government threatens them and their families that, if the Polish White Army has to abandon Warsaw, they will leave the corpses of the Polish communists behind them in the city, just as they already killed our old comrades Wesselowski and Fabrikevitch.
Precisely this cry of desperation from the Polish bourgeoisie proves not only that the Red Army threatens its domination, but that the Polish working class too knows very well that Russia does not threaten the independence of the Polish people, but that she wants to help the Polish workers to sunder the chains forged for them by Poland’s capitalists and the Entente. Poland is now an absolutely dependent country. Even the Polish bourgeoisie is saying at the moment that its army is receiving munitions from the Entente, and that its army is fed with bread that the Entente gives so that Poland can fight.
The campaign, however, that Soviet Russia is fighting against White Poland, is support for Poland and not its conquest. It is the assistance of the Russian working class which for twenty years has fought in alliance with the Polish working class against its enemies and now wants to unite itself once more with the Polish proletariat. Once the Polish insurgents, trying to unite with the Russian revolutionaries, put forward the slogan ‘For our Freedom and Yours.’ We have not buried this slogan. Now we stride forward to victory in order to go to work together to build the temple of socialism with our own hands, with our own strength, in the devastated countries.
Comrades, I am firmly convinced that the Polish proletariat, which throughout has fought side by side with the Moscow and Petrograd proletariat in the front ranks of the Russian revolution, will prove by deeds that it knows how to deal with the terrible, ferocious pressure of the world bourgeoisie. I am certain that our Red Army, which is coming to the assistance of the Polish proletariat with powerful blows, will find there iron divisions of old Polish workers steeled in struggle, who – I am firmly convinced of this – will march as your allies until the final victory. [Applause.]
Trotsky [Stormy ovation – the Internationale is sung.]: Comrades, the Second Congress of the Communist International has met a year and a half after the First Congress. One and a half years are only a few months, but they have more historic content than whole years did previously, and for us the Second Congress of the Communist International is not simply an international period, not simply a parade. Comrades, on the path that leads upwards over obstacles and abysses, we must cast a glance backwards to ascertain the path we have covered, without losing sight of the enemy. We must set up signposts on the path before us and stride forward without delay. And if now we look back over these 17-18 months that lie between the First and the Second Congresses of the International, and check our consciousness, our revolutionary conscience, with the greatest care, we have the right to say that the path that we sketched for ourselves at the First Congress of the International of the World Commune was the correct path, and that, if we have achieved successes, then it was on this path.
If the world proletariat has suffered defeats and has often had to go into retreat, then it was because it did not take the path shown by the Communist International. The 18 months that have passed since the First Congress have drawn a bloody line under this whole epoch of the development of humanity. This epoch had its laws, its methods, its equilibrium, its international relations, its alliances, its struggle, its lies, the democratic lie of official science, the lie of the Church. The World War has drawn up the balance sheet of all this. And the bourgeois classes who hailed the peoples into this world slaughter at the same time promised them a new Testament, a new order, a new regime.
But what do Europe and the whole world show us, what do they look like after the World War, in what condition have they emerged from the workshops of the Versailles Peace? There is not one single basis of support for the bourgeois order. Everything has been thrown into motion, all the supports are tottering, all the state programmes of the bourgeoisie have been crossed out, all the international alliances have been torn up, and the bourgeoisie, trembling before the new day, seeks a way out of this situation created by centuries of robbery and rape, and finds no way out.
Britain, France and the United States promised to give the peoples an international association, the ‘League of Nations’, which would put an end to imperialist collisions, international wars. And now we have the League of Nations before us. Scarcely had it emerged from the chancelleries of the diplomats, when he who was its creator shrank back from it: the American President Wilson. Comrades, only recently, ten or twelve months ago, all the leaders of the Second International were greeting Wilson’s plans and calling on workers to support him. Against this our International was already saying a year and a half ago in Moscow that Wilson’s campaign is an attempt by the American plutocracy, the New York Stock Exchange, to subordinate Europe and the whole world to itself, that the League of Nations will be an international company headed by United States capital. American capital is used to expanding through associations and drawing ever new millions of people into its area of exploitation. And it has attempted to extend its conditions to Europe, Asia and the whole world.
When Wilson, however, came from his great American province to Europe and ran head on into all the life and death questions of the whole world, he saw that Britain had its hand on the helm. Britain has the strongest fleet, the longest telegraph cables, the richest experience in matters of world pillage and rape. And this small-town American, Wilson, who carried the dollar’s excellent international exchange rate not only in his pocket but also on his sleeve, who thought that his Fourteen Points would become the Gospel of the world, stumbled upon the British Navy and on something even more menacing: he stumbled upon Soviet Russia and Communism. Thereupon the troubled American apostle returned to his Mount Sinai, the White House in Washington.
However, comrades, we cannot assume that this means a renunciation of world domination. American capital has no other path. As long as American capital was in the early stages of accumulation, expansion and liberation, it took as its theory the Monroe Doctrine, which said: ‘America for the Americans’, that is to say, let no one dare to intervene in the affairs of America, where American capital alone rules, exploits and robs. The frontiers of America, of the Northern part, which it had made into its colony, became too narrow for American capital. During the war, American heavy industry was raised like a gigantic pillar to heaven, and therefore American capital rejected the slogan ‘America for the Americans’, or rather changed it to say: ‘Not only America, but the whole world for the Americans’. Thereupon it sent forth the Apostle Wilson with a New Testament.
We know that Wilson did not carry out the mission. But the mission has remained. and the American oligarchy is now drawing its conclusions and saying: ‘Our navy is weaker than the British Navy by so many tons and by so many guns of this and that calibre’. And the American Navy Department works out a new programme which by 1925 – many claim even quicker, within three years – will make the American Navy bigger than Britain’s. But what does that mean? Britain’s strength is her navy. Britain guards all the sea lanes, and that gives her the power to plunder the world. Britain’s naval programme consists in this, that at any given time its navy is stronger than those of her two closest rival sea-powers put together. And now America, with its shining dollar, whose exchange rate stands high in the heavens of the stock exchanges, says: ‘In three years my navy must be stronger than Britain’s.’ That means that British imperialism is faced with the question: ‘To be or not to be?’ It further means that Britain and the United States are headed at full steam for a new, great, bloody conflict, for there can be no dual power in the world of imperialist states. The crown of world dominion must, in the final analysis, belong to Britain or America, unless the world proletariat wrenches it from them first. And after four years of terrible world war, which has laid the mightiest states of Central Europe in ruins, which has devastated Europe and ruined the whole world, we see that a new, even more violent struggle is being prepared on the bones of the fallen.
France is Soviet Russia’s main enemy, the bitterest and most rabid enemy of the international proletariat. She now thinks she is a victor, or rather, the simpletons, the petty bourgeoisie, the social patriots, and a deluded section of the working class think that France won. That is a cruel mistake. Long before German imperialism was beaten, Austro-Hungary was a defeated country. It was maintained by German militarism, just as French imperialism was maintained by the Entente. And now France is one of the most exhausted and ruined of the independent countries in the world. France can of course plunder the Black Sea, but only until it is the turn of Britain. France can dictate laws to tiny Belgium, which she has turned into a province. France herself, however, is no more than a big Belgium in her relations with Great Britain. Without American and British support, France would be defenceless both economically and militarily; but in her petty bourgeois obtuseness she raises claims to dominion, and thinks to play the role of chairman and umpire between the United States and Britain. The United States did not even join the League of Nations, and France had to beg on its knees, as if for alms, for a guarantee of its state independence.
And the small nations, the small states? They were all promised freedom and independence, and Britain has laid her imperious hand on all of them: on Finland, as on white Esthonia and Latvia. Where are the remnants of Swedish and Norwegian independence? They have disappeared. What does the Baltic represent? A bay in which Britain takes little outings. What does the Indian Ocean represent, surrounded by peoples who are subjected to Britain? Through Egypt, Persia, Afghanistan and India, the Indian Ocean has become a British lake. From the corpse of Austro-Hungary, from old Tsarist Russia, a whole series of small states have been carved out that are not viable and which the Entente and the League of Nations, that is to say, Britain, for the moment will not allow to die.
We have an Austria nailed to the cross and mangled. We have a Hungary that made the heroic attempt to lead Central Europe out of the chaos and to tread the path of soviet federation, that is to say of a fraternal league of victorious workers in economic, cultural and other respects. She was trampled and thrown back into chaos. We have a Poland, a wretched Poland whose liberation fills the earliest pages of the history of the First International. It was created by moribund imperialism for its dirty purposes and tasks. This democratic republic, for which whole generations of Polish patriots struggled who fled to the West in great waves from Tsarism and fought and died on every barricade of the revolution, this democratic Poland is at present a dirty and bloody tool, in the hands of French capital. Comrades, if the First International in its struggle against Tsarism inscribed an independent Poland on one of the first pages of its history, then Russia, liberated from Tsarism, will now fulfil its great mission and give crucified, violated Poland back to the Polish worker and the Polish peasant. [Applause.]
From all the parliamentary platforms there is talk of the economic reconstruction of Europe. There is no greater lie than this. Europe has been unable to reconstruct herself during the year and a half that have passed since our First Congress. She is incomparably poorer and more hopeless than she was, and with her the whole world. Can Europe be reconstructed without Russian raw materials and Russian corn? Can Europe be reconstructed without German technique, without the German working class? It is impossible. Returning home, the representatives of every country will say: ‘Workers of Europe and of the whole world, on the basis of the little that we have seen, we testify that, if imperialism leaves Soviet Russia in peace, if we come to the aid of Soviet Russia, even only slightly, with our technique, then in two, three, or at the most, five years Soviet Russia will give you six times more corn and raw materials than Tsarist, bourgeois Russia did, precisely because it is a Soviet Republic based on the principles of Communism.’
Hot on the tracks of victory, Anglo-French capital thinks that boundless areas for colonisation lie before it. Tsarism was formerly Britain’s competitor in Asia, and Germany was an even bigger competitor of Britain on the world market. Germany is defeated. Germany is nailed to the cross. Austria even more so. And they believe that the colonies start immediately to the East: the German people, who are subjected to France, and then Soviet Russia. To overrun Soviet Russia, to take Russian raw materials and corn, to force German workers to work like slaves and transform Russian raw materials into finished products that are then at the disposal of Anglo-French capital, that is the dazzling programme of the first period of the League of Nations. And it is trying to carry it out. It is trying to overthrow the Soviet Republic in order to bring our steppes, our lakes, our woods and our subterranean wealth under its control and to use German coal and German labour power to process them.
A year and a half of hard struggle have passed, and with justified pride we can tell our Western European brothers: ‘Your bourgeoisie has not overthrown us, we are still alive, we are receiving you in Moscow.’ And if that is so, then it is only thanks to the powerful efforts of the Russian working class and the army it has created. We know our efforts and our sacrifices, and now the envoys of the working class of the world have become more closely acquainted with them. We must however say that the main reason that we have stood firm is that we felt and knew the growing assistance in Europe, America and every part of the world. Every strike of the Scottish proletariat on the Clyde, every movement in the towns and villages of Ireland, where not only the green flag of Irish nationalism but also the red flag of proletarian struggle is flying, every strike, every protest, every uprising in whatever town in Europe, America or Asia, the powerful movement of Britain’s colonial slaves in India and the growth of the development of consciousness, the growth of one central slogan – the slogan ‘Soviet World Federation’ – that is what gave us the certainty that we are on the right path. That is what, in the darkest hours, when we were surrounded on all sides and it seemed that they would strangle us, permitted us to stand up and say: ‘We are not alone, the proletariat of Europe and Asia and the whole world is with us, we will not give way, we will stand firm.’ And we stood firm. [Applause.]
Europe cannot be reconstructed without Russia and without Germany. To reconstruct Germany she must be allowed to live, to feed herself to work. But if crucified and oppressed Germany is not allowed to live, to feed herself and to work, then she will rise up against French imperialism. And therefore French imperialism, which only knows one commandment – pay up! Germany must pay up! Russia must pay up! – these French usurers are prepared to set fire to the world from all four corners if only they receive their interest payments properly. And they have one single prescription for realising the terms of the Versailles Treaty. This prescription is the Senegalese, the African Negroes and Arabs they send over the Rhine to occupy German cities. And if too little coal comes to France from Germany, if the German gold does not arrive on time, the French bourgeoisie grinds its teeth and says: ‘Why don’t they pay up on time? Has Marshal Foch no blacks left?’
Comrades, we greet at this Congress Comrade Roy, the representative of the toiling masses of India. [Applause] I hope, comrades, that at the Third Congress of our International African Communists, Arabs, Senegalese and other Negro peoples from the colonial possessions of France and Britain will be among us. Today four or five hundred Senegalese brought our Russian soldiers, who were slaves in France for years, back to the harbours of Odessa. Despite the precautionary measures that were taken to keep the Senegalese away from the Russian soldiers, we know that no foreign regiment, no foreign company has ever entered a Russian harbour with impunity.
Comrades, the policies of Marshal Foch who supplies sea-planes to Wrangel, who helps Poland in her hopeless struggle, these policies will not restore the economy of Europe, these are the policies of a gambler who has hopelessly gambled away everything, who has already gambled away millions. Only recently the French parliament discovered that, of the 4,000 million francs set aside for the reconstruction of the devastated Northern departments of France, Clémenceau has only spent 11/2 million for this purpose, and that he has used 3,998 1/2 million, not for the reconstruction of the devastated departments of France, but for the devastation of the Gubernias and Districts of Russia. These policies, this squandering of thousands of millions, are the policies of a gambler who is possessed by the hope of winning something on the last throw, and who usually wins nothing. At the present moment we can say with quiet certainty that the hour is at hand when, in alliance with the French proletariat, we will break the bank of the French banker. [Applause.]
The Senegalese in Odessa harbour, the French Generals in Warsaw are perhaps still there, but they are facing West, not East any more. [Stormy applause.] Altogether they will not increase by a single pood the amount of coal and other raw materials, the amount of corn that France needs.
The whole world is suffering from the deepest crisis, the lack of fuel and raw materials, and the fact that during the war the whole of labour was directed not at creating values but at their destruction cannot fail to bear results, for the most basic labour is that in which men apply their thoughts and their machines to taking the most important materials, corn and coal, from the bosom of the earth. This labour has constantly fallen. Now the whole policy of world production must be aimed at securing free trade with Germany, Russia and Austro-Hungary. All countries have survived up to now on the supplies remaining to them, and the whole policy of imperialism amounts to trading relations in the coming year standing under the sign of mutual exclusion. Now, moreover, we have the policy of robbery; but we have seen that during the many months that the British were in Baku they only succeeded in taking away a few million poods of oil, while they could have taken some tens of millions of poods. The world economy suffered its greatest losses when the British and French mercenaries devastated the Don area, when the French blew up the bridges and wrecked the railway lines, when British battleships blockaded the shipping lanes to every country and thus undermined production. Those are the last word in the Entente’s economic policy.
Therefore, comrades, when we look back over a year and a half of our work in the Soviet economy, when we know all its shortcomings, all its wants, we have no cause to mask these shortcomings, but unfold this picture of our work before all our Western brothers, the Americans and the other representatives of all countries, all parts of the world. I think that if anybody came here with any doubts, he will have convinced himself that we have chosen the right path, and that the only possible way out of the poverty of the world is the planned socialisation of the world economy, the removal of all artificial state obstacles and barriers, and the pursuit of the policies that are necessary for a unified economy. And comrades, if we were able, despite the war and the blockade, not only to supply our army, but also to live for the last three years, especially the last year and a half – this fact alone is the greatest historical fact – then we were able to do so thanks to the circumstance that our economy was based on the principles of communism.
Finally, comrades, if we proceed from the questions of international politics and the economy to the questions of the political struggle, then we must say that the path sketched out by the First Congress of the Communist International was the correct path and that it has been confirmed by experience m all its basic features. If there are still honest thinking workers who still expect something from democracy, then it is an empty phantom. Where is there a democracy in Europe? The new-born democracy of Germany possesses the democratic form of suffrage. At its head stands the social-democrat Ebert. This democracy murders the best labour leaders, the best representatives of the working class, in whose names Comrade Levi has spoken. Who rules there? The magnates of capital who do their most important business in the caves of the stock exchange. During the war the French bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie of other countries still clung on to a few remnants of the old democratic ideology. The bourgeoisie had to deceive the workers, it spoke of defence of the fatherland, it said that this war would be the last one, it spoke of a League of Nations. Now, however, after the war and the Versailles Peace, when the hangman has shown himself in all his nakedness, when the toiling masses are robbed and brought to beggary, now the last remnants of this ideology are thrown aside, now the bourgeoisie itself almost renounces any reference to the Old Testament of democracy which earlier served it to deceive the working class, now it demands a firm, steel-hard will.
We can take any parliamentary report of any country we have to hand, and we see that the most miserable bourgeois minister, any petty official, can harvest a storm of applause if he wants to by shaking a threatening fist in the direction of the revolutionary proletariat. From its proteges, servants and ministers the bourgeoisie demands blood and iron; for it has grasped that we – we: the whole world have entered not the epoch of parliamentary arbitration between the classes, but the epoch of relentless and hard struggle ... And what did the working class, that is to say, the part of it that returned home from the war, find at home? The working class found in its towns and villages a new bourgeoisie, even more brazen and bloody than the one it left behind. War contractors, internationally known black-marketeers, have climbed up, parvenus with a dubious past, who have robbed millions and more millions and thousands of millions by speculation in blood. This rapacious and unbridled scum have polluted the air of the European and American towns with their poisoned breath. Their ostentation has taken on the form of a reckless fever, the recklessness of the drunkard, a nervous delirium. The workers have returned home from the trenches and see before them this ‘bourgeoisie dorée’ that has taken possession of everything, that tramples on everything, that wants to enjoy everything, that is ready at any given moment to shoot the working class down with its cannons merely in order to secure the possibility of living, ruling and enjoying.
And the outrage of the working class is fanned in every country to ever brighter flames. The rise in prices produces strikes and demonstrations by the starving workers. And what a great factor in the labour movement, in the history of the whole of mankind, is the circumstance that women, the subjugated slaves, have awoken and that the proletarian youth are arising in ever greater masses, are coming to our aid and relieving us. With the women and the revolutionary youth a new powerful stream of revolutionary lava is poured into the revolutionary movement of the world proletariat, which will bring new, inexhaustible supplies of energy to the movement of the Communist International. [Applause.]
Comrades, there is no doubt that the proletariat of every country would already be in power if there were not between it and the masses, between the revolutionary masses and the advanced groups of the revolutionary masses, still a big, strong, sophisticated machine, still the parties of the Second International and the trades unions of the world who, in the epoch of the decay, of the death of the bourgeoisie, have placed their apparatus in the service of that bourgeoisie. Precisely the Second International, which bound its fate to the fate of the bourgeoisie by mutual guarantees during the war, has assumed responsibility for the old world and has intercepted the first rush of rebellion and indignation on the part of the toiling masses. Its authority has sunk, it has fallen apart. Larger and larger parts, millions of the toiling masses, are splitting from it. But the first rush of the proletariat against bourgeois society, the first outbreak of rebellion, was met by the Second International like a buffer. And if the German working class has suffered and will suffer tens of thousands of victims, then German social democracy is guilty. At the most responsible moment in world history, it was transformed into a counter-revolutionary apparatus, just as all the leading parties of Second International have been transformed into a counter-revolutionary apparatus in the service of bourgeois society.
And if we look back over the whole of past history and seek counter-revolutionary forces there, we can find nothing comparable. We know the world history of the Catholic Church which, like all other churches, was a mighty tool, a strong and mighty means, in the hands of the possessing classes for the defence of their privileges and dominion. But the services that the world church and world catholicism performed for the possessing classes are nothing compared with the role played by the parties of the Second International at the critical moment of world history. For decades they led the working class, enjoyed its confidence, organised it and sustained it with their authority. But at the moment the working class had to harness all its ability to act to its liberation from the yoke of capital, they used this apparatus to tie the working class hand and foot, to make them not only the material, physical slaves of world capital, but also its intellectual slaves.
As we hold the Second Congress here in Moscow, there meets in Geneva the Congress of the Second International which, in its programme and its spirit – opposes itself to our International of the Red Proletarian Commune. And from this day on, from this Congress on, from these two Congresses on, the split inside the world working class will be carried out with tenfold speed. Programme against programme, tactics against tactics, method against method. We, the Communist International, forced the German Independent Social Democratic Party, which hesitated and vacillated, and whose upper layers are still vacillating to this day, to send its representatives here through the pressure of the German working class. The Party of French parliamentary socialism was also forced by the revolt of the proletarian masses to send envoys to us. But we will not agree to any concessions: The Communist International is not an International of compromises and agreements. We have a banner and a programme. Whoever wants to can place himself under this banner. That is what we told the representatives of the German Independent Social Democratic Party and of the French parliamentary party. We asked them: ‘Do you hope to introduce reforms through your parliaments that will gradually lead to the realm of socialism?’ We asked that ironically, for the facts of life have already given us the bitter answer. And if the German Independent Party and even the Party of French parliamentary socialism have not yet learnt to lead the proletariat on the path of the civil war and the proletarian dictatorship, they have at least already learnt to place no more faith in the path of parliamentary reformism. And the French and German workers have learnt to place no more faith in their hesitant and vacillating leaders.
This Congress that coincides with the Congress of the Second International, which – and that is important and significant for us and for the workers of the whole world – coincides with the threatening struggles that the Entente is waging against the Soviet Republic through the medium of white Poland; this Congress, that coincides with the glorious victories of the Red Army on the Southern and South Western fronts, will set up big signposts for the further development of the proletarian world revolution. In its decisions this Congress has drawn up a balance sheet of the whole experience of the working class of the world. This Congress turns to the working men and women of the whole world with a manifesto whose essential content I have set out here in my report, a manifesto that will be published in every language, which draws up a balance sheet of the work of imperialism in the field of international relations and in the economic field, which correctly assesses the last remnants of bourgeois democracy and bourgeois parliamentarism and shows the proletariat of the whole world and the subjugated toiling masses of the colonial countries the sure, clear and distinct path of struggle.
And what joy, what pride, do we workers of Moscow and of the whole of Russia feel that the best fighters of the working class of the world have been able to meet for a second time in our country, that we have been able, on the basis of our experience, to help them to forge their weapons. With your hands, comrades, we have fanned a blaze in our Moscow forge. In this blaze we have heated the proletarian steel to white heat, we have worked it with the hammer of our proletarian soviet revolution, we have tempered it with the experience of the civil war and forged a splendid, and incomparable sword for the international proletariat. We will arm ourselves with this sword, we will arm the others with it. We say to the workers of the whole world: ‘We have forged a strong sword in the Moscow fire. Take it in your hands and plunge it into the heart of world capital.’ [Applause.]
Zinoviev: Comrades, during the last fourteen days meetings have taken place in Moscow of the representatives of the workers’ organisations of the whole world and during this whole time we have seen how the fraternal league of workers of the whole world has become firmer each day.
When we first raised the question of the possibility of illegally convening the Congress in Moscow some time ago, many were doubtful of the success of this plan. They very thought of it seemed daring for it goes without saying that the bourgeoisie of the whole world persecutes its worst enemy, the Communist International, with the greatest hatred, with all the scourges possible.
But comrades, the striving of workers all over the world to reach us was so great, the cry ‘to Moscow’ was so general, that despite the resistance of the world bourgeoisie, despite all the obstacles that were placed in our way, as you see, the Congress convened and we can now say in front of the whole world that this Congress was completely successful and that it was a world Congress of the proletariat. [Applause.]
Comrades. just as the earth, after a long drought, pants for rain, so the workers of the world pant for the end of the accursed war, for unification. This striving of the workers for unification is the greatest factor in world history. It is the driving force of the Communist International. The class consciousness of workers all over the world expresses itself in this: they recognise that they can only achieve what history has promised them in close unity. This consciousness is the most important world-historical life-force of the Communist International and thanks to it we have succeeded in holding the Congress although the blockade has only just been lifted, although it still exists in part, and although our comrades have to work illegally in a whole series of countries.
The register of the delegations fills several pages. I shall only mention the countries that were represented. [He reads out the list.] From some of these countries we only had a few representatives, but nevertheless the delegations represent everything that exists throughout the world of vital revolutionary fighting spirit. Of great importance is the circumstance that among us there are not only representatives of the European and American proletariat but also representatives of the workers and the poorest peasants of the whole East – of Turkey, Persia, India, the British colonies and so forth. In this we see proof of the fact that the movement in the East is beginning and that it will also develop further, that no power in the world will succeed in holding this movement back, which in India has a purely proletarian character. These movements will unite with those of Europe and America to deliver the death-blow to capitalism.
The most varied shadings of the labour movement were represented at our Congress. At the present moment the labour movement is still in a process of fermentation and crystallisation. That is understandable. After the terrible crisis that the working class of the world has experienced, after the gigantic collapse of the Second International and after the blood-letting that was carried out on the workers of the whole world, it is completely understandable that there cannot now be complete political clarity among the workers. But if the working class was united, if it was completely clear about its fundamental tasks, we would have defeated the bourgeoisie long ago. The curse of our class is this: part of our brothers were for many decades deceived by our enemies; another part is organised in associations which actually help the bourgeoisie. In some countries the working class today is in a certain sense at a parting of the ways. After the fearful storm that was unleashed on mankind during the imperialist war, it seeks the correct way. We have set ourselves the task of uniting all the vital, rich and powerful forces that the working class can muster under the banner of the Communist International for the struggle against the bourgeoisie. We have intentionally also called upon the organisations that have not taken on complete form to enter the Communist International.
Representatives of the best section of the syndicalists, representatives of the best section of the anarchists, have taken part in our Congress. In our midst there are representatives of the shop stewards of Britain, of the Austrian factory committees and representatives of the IWW. The mainstream of the world labour movement flows in the river-bed of communism. We see a mighty communist stream before us. But besides it also, a series of smaller rivers must flow into the great stream of the Communist International. We see a whole number of such proletarian movements which are still in ferment, that are only half turned towards us, which are in many ways infected with anarchist and syndicalist prejudices, which do not entirely share our programme but which nevertheless fight with us against the bourgeoisie and on whom we look as brothers. We break with the hated traditions of the Second International which treated badly the revolutionary workers, the best fighters. When in the Second International there were a handful of venerable representatives of the yellow imperialist bodies and other organisations, at every attempt by this or that group of workers to dare to subject the policies of the Second International to criticism, the door was slammed shut. We open our doors wide to all honest proletarian, revolutionary organisations which today are not yet communist, but which tomorrow will be, which today are ready, arms in hand, to fight together with us against world capital. [Applause.]
Apart from the group which in the opinion of some formed an opposition from the left – but which in reality was not at all revolutionary-minded since for the working class, for communism, there can be no opposition from the left – there took part in our Congress a group of penitent sinners. I mean the representatives of the French Socialist Party, of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany and of the Italian Socialist Party. All these parties are among those big workers’ organisations who still stand with one foot in the old camp but which attempt to take a new path. It seems to me that our Congress gained an even greater significance from the fact that these representatives of old parties appeared before it, that some of them asked for an amnesty and would have been glad to receive from the Communist International the answer: ‘Guilty under extenuating circumstances.’ Insofar, however, as it is a question of leaders who are responsible for the imperialist war, we have adopted a completely irreconcilable position. You have read our answer to the French Socialist Party, the letter which we have them to take on their way so that they could study it at their leisure In it we gave an exact description of all the characteristics of the French Socialist Party in the person of the leaders of their yellow socialists. What we gave them was what the Germans call a Steckbrief. That is to say a letter from which any honest worker can immediately recognise the criminal who at the moment stands in the path of the world proletariat; a letter that says: ‘See, you workers, this is what a leader of the working class should not look like.’
Comrades, there is a significant number of workers in the ranks of the French Party. 50,000 copies of its central press organ are printed. The party of the Independents in Germany numbers around a million members. Some 11,000 members of the party, predominantly workers, are languishing in jail. It goes without saying that the workers who are languishing in the jails of the German Republic fill us with the greatest respect and we are prepared to take our hats off to them. Of course what we say to the ranks of the German Independent Party is the same as what we say to the French Socialist Party. We try to make their mistakes clear to them. We try to unify with them.
Comrades, in this connection the Congress has worked out a whole number of Conditions (there are 21 of them) for admission to the Communist International. Comrades, I think that when you have become acquainted with these Conditions, you will say with us that it can truly be said if it is not easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle then, I hope, it will not be easy for the supporters of the Centre who are always going to remain such, to slip through these 21 Conditions set up by the Communist International. [Applause.] We have set these Conditions so that the workers in the ranks of the French Socialist Party, the USPD and of the American and of the Italian Socialist parties, all organised workers in general, know what the international staff of the proletarian revolution is demanding of them so that they can drive them into a corner and receive an answer on all the questions mentioned in the conditions. And, comrades, we hope that these Conditions will achieve their purpose. If we were told a year and a half ago that the Communist International ran the danger of having too few members, then now we are faced with a different danger.
For many the Communist International is becoming a fashion. The Brussels International which is now meeting in Geneva has, it is said, taken the decision to declare a General Strike. It seems that the Second International wants to follow in the footsteps of Moscow. We do not know how many living ghosts have gathered there, but it is clear to everybody that the Second International now represents a heap of ruins and that among the old leaders of these crown-socialists, as they could be called, there are many who always want to be with the majority and to lean upon some power or other. On the international scale this power is now the Communist International. They want to lean on us, to make concessions in words and thus assure themselves a certain autonomy in order to carry on with the old routine. We hope that our second Congress of the Communist International has shut the door sufficiently firmly to these gentlemen. We hope that the decisions we have taken will be sufficient to draw such a line between the parties that all workers who honestly want to fight for communism will step into our ranks, but everything that is rotten will fly like chaff into the dustbin and will never again hold back the advance of the working class.
A whole series of questions has been dealt with by the Second Congress, the most important of which was the question of the role of the Communist Party. It is not necessary to prove its necessity in a hall in which I may say a great majority of Communist Party members are gathered. But at an international Congress where representatives of the most different countries with completely different histories, with different traditions, were present, it was necessary finally to clarify the role and the significance of the Communist parties. The old parties have gone bankrupt and it is understandable that they have dinned into a number of workers the thought that it is not the Second International that collapsed but the policy of the leaders in general. It was necessary to become clear on the role and the significance of the proletarian revolution and I hope that you realise that it was a great victory when the best representatives of revolutionary syndicalism voted for our resolutions as did also the best representatives of other workers’ organisations.
Now we must say to the syndicalist workers, the anarchists and other elements who did not believe in the significance of the Party, ‘You did not believe that there could be other parties than the Scheidemanns, that there is a real workers’ party which leads the working class in the fight against capital. Look here and convince yourselves. Here is the Communist Party of Russia. That is the work of the Russian worker. Here is the Hungarian Communist Party. There is the German party of the Spartacists; see what they have done for the enlightenment of the German working class. There are the Communist parties of a whole series of countries. Look and learn. Here is an example of what we are striving for. We must build such parties!
The national and colonial question was also discussed and it seems to me that the resolution passed unanimously on this question similarly signifies a great moral victory for us. You know that the Second International approached the question of so-called national policies, that in general a policy of patience was suggested and that in 1907 the majority spoke out in favour of socialists supporting the policy of so-called cultural nationalism. Towards the peoples of the black and yellow races the Second International adopted an attitude calculated to arouse the deepest mistrust in these peoples. The Communist International had to return to the traditions of the First International. It was its duty to say, and it did say, that it did not only want to be an International of the toilers of the white race but also an International of the toilers of the black and yellow races, an International of the toilers of the whole world. [Applause.] I am convinced that the fraternal alliance that we have concluded in the Congress with the representatives of India, Korea, Turkey and a whole number of other countries will strike to the heart of international capital. This is the greatest conquest of the working class.
We have also discussed the question of the trades unions. You know that in Moscow we have created the first international cell of the trade union federation. I contend that this also has a general historical significance for the whole world. The last support of capitalism is the yellow Amsterdam labour organisation. If we bring the best part of the workers of this organisation to us what we thus achieve is that the Second International will lose the masses and that we will gather around us everything that is vital in the working class. At the Congress we had to carry out a sharp polemic with a number of our English and American comrades who have had to fight against the enormous betrayal of their leaders, who have no strong Communist Party and who have broken with parliamentarism. The Second Congress of the Communist International had told all these parties what the most important thing for them is. As the experiences of the Russian Revolution teach us – remember this in England and America! – the most important thing of all is to stay in the midst of the masses of workers. You will often go wrong with them, but never leave the mass organisations of the working class, however reactionary they may be at any given moment.
The bourgeois state we must destroy. But the workers’ organisations, on the contrary, we must conquer, transform and take into our ranks, otherwise the victory of Communism is impossible. We have already broken many lances with some of our comrades on this question. But what the Communist International has said on this becomes a law for all, including the comrades who defended a different point of view. The aim of the Communist International is to found a Communist Party in every country so that all the currents of the present healthy, revolutionary, proletarian movements come together into one mighty river. And those who know what enormous authority the Communist International possesses in the eyes of the world working class will not doubt that this task will be easy to perform and that a successful unification will be achieved.
Comrades, it would be of special interest to draw up a comparison between what happened at our Congress and what is being done in bourgeois circles. Comrade Trotsky has clearly depicted what is happening in the upper layers of the ruling bourgeoisie. Comrades, is it not significant that while we in Moscow, within a short space of time have reached agreement on a whole number of important questions with workers who have come here from Australia and America despite differences in culture, history and tradition, and feel that our fraternal alliance is becoming firmer with every hour, is it not significant that in the same period among bourgeois ruling circles each group is trying to put a spoke in the other’s wheel. The British bourgeoisie rages at us and attempts to outwit its French rivals. They persecute each other and are not in a position to create unity.
In 1919, the Second International attempted to come back to life by binding its fate to the ‘League of Nations’ according to the old principle: ‘There is no animal stronger than the cat.’ By thus leaning on the League of Nations it believed it would obtain decades of world domination. A year and a few months have passed and we can already see the League of Nations collapsing before our eyes, turning into a fiction where all elbow each other and deceive each other. The Second International tied its fate to the League of Nations with which it will go under, whose bankruptcy it will share. At the same time, however, the true international fraternity of workers with the toiling peasantry is growing. I am profoundly convinced that the Second World Congress will be the precursor of another world congress, the World Congress of Soviet Republics. [Applause.]
Comrades, it is a significant fact that the only resolution that was adopted unanimously without the slightest debate by all representatives was the resolution on the soviets. Because the soviet idea, the idea of the creation of a soviet state, of this form of the proletarian dictatorship, has penetrated into the broadest masses of workers and into the lowest layers and has won millions and tens of millions of workers. There not only needs to be no conflict about it at the World Congress, but there does not even need to be discussion. Much rather, this idea is our fundamental conquest. Comrades, the idea of soviets is a simple thought but it forms the firm iron foundation on which our Communist International stands.
Our work is approaching its end. We have exchanged our experiences with the representatives of the most varied countries. We have considered a series of contested questions. We have mapped out the path that we shall have to follow in struggle in the course of long months. We do not know what blows of fate lie in wait for this or that of our sister parties. But one thing we do know; that we will build up an organisation which at any given moment will give the workers of the whole world the greatest possible help. We have adopted the Statutes of the Communist International. That is no mere formality. It is confirmation of the fact that we are creating a unified, international Communist Party with branches in all the various countries. [Applause.]
In these Statutes we remember the words of the Statutes of the First International, founded by Karl Marx? the words: ‘If the working class is now in chains and not free then that is because up to now there has been no unity in the working class and the workers of different countries have not proceeded in solidarity.’ That is a simple truth, a simple thought, and yet it took several decades for the working class of the whole world to assimilate this thought. And we have added in the Statutes of the Communist International: ‘Remember the imperialist war and its countless victims! This is the first appeal of the Communist International to every toiler wherever he may live and whatever language he may speak. If you support capitalism you can have new wars. Our international fraternity was born after difficult experiences. If you want to take responsible decisions think of the imperialist murders that destroyed workers’ organisations and cost tens of millions of workers their lives and which can reignite any moment if we do not destroy capitalism.’
The adoption of the Statutes means that we have finally closed our ranks, that we have an international fraternity of workers, that we possess an organisation, centralised on an international scale, welded together with blood. And we will tell our comrades that so that they understand how we in Russia had to create in the civil war a centralised organisation of iron cast in one piece, with military discipline which was often very difficult for individual party members and demanded the greatest effort and sacrifice.
In the same way we must create on an international scale an international organisation that is cast in one piece with the same iron discipline and the same centralisation, with unconditional mutual confidence and with the same unselfish preparedness for self-sacrifice for the common cause of the victory of the proletarian revolution. [Applause.]
Comrades are travelling from here to a number of countries where states of emergency, prison, punishment and betrayal on the part of the Western European social democracy and of capitalism’s hirelings are waiting for them. We wish our comrades courage for this struggle and we ask them in difficult moments to think of this, that the Soviet Republic is prepared to share everything that it possesses with them. The Communist Party of Russia thinks it an honourable duty to come to the aid of sister parties with everything that it has. To those of our brothers who are now setting off to carry out the highest historical mission and the highest historical tasks that have ever faced the proletariat, we wish courage, strength and certainty.
Long live the Communist International. Long live our comrades who are setting off to the bourgeois countries to carry out propaganda for world communism. [Stormy applause. Cheers.]
Comrade Kalinin declares the session closed.