Second Congress of the Communist International
The bourgeoisie throughout the world sorrowfully recalls its yester-years. All of its mainstays in foreign and domestic relations have been either overthrown or shaken. ‘Tomorrow’ looms like a black threat over the exploiters’ world. The imperialist war has completely destroyed the old system of alliances and mutual guarantees which lay at the bottom of the world balance of power and armed peace. The Versailles Treaty has created no new balance of power in place of the old.
First Russia and then Austria-Hungary and Germany were eliminated as factors from the world arena. The mightiest countries which had occupied first places in the system of world seizures found themselves transformed into objects of plunder and dismemberment. Before the victory-flushed imperialism of the Entente there opened up new and vast horizons of colonial exploitation, beginning immediately beyond the Rhine, embracing all of Central and Eastern Europe and extending far to the Pacific Ocean. Are either the Congo or Syria, Egypt or Mexico in any way comparable to the steppes, forests and mountains of Russia and the skilled labour power of Germany? The new colonial programme of the conquerors is self-determined: the workers’ republic in Russia is to be overthrown, Russian raw material is to be plundered, and the German worker coerced into processing it with the aid of German coal, while the armed German entrepreneur acts as overseer – thus assuring a flow of finished products and, with them, profits to the victors. The programme of ‘organising Europe’, advanced by German imperialism at the moment of its greatest military successes, has been inherited by the victorious Entente. When the rulers of the Entente place the defeated bandits of the German Empire in the defendant’s dock, the latter will truly be judged by a ‘court of peers’ – their peers in crime.
But the victors’ camp likewise contains a number of those who have themselves been vanquished. Intoxicated by chauvinist fumes of a victory which she won for others, bourgeois France considers herself the conqueror of Europe. In reality, never before has France and the very foundations of her existence been so slavishly dependent upon the more powerful states – England and North America – as she is today. For Belgium, France prescribes a specific economic and military programme, transforming her weaker ally into an enslaved province, but in relation to England, France herself plays the role of Belgium, only on a somewhat larger scale.
From time to time the English imperialists allow the French usurers to exercise their arbitrary rule within specified limits on the continent. In this way they skilfully divert from themselves, and unload on France, the sharpest indignation of the toilers of Europe and of England herself. The power of ruined and blood-drained France is illusory, almost burlesque in character; sooner or later this will penetrate even into the brains of French social-patriots.
The specific weight of Italy in world affairs has dropped even lower. Without coal, without grain, without raw materials, with her internal equilibrium completely disrupted by the war, bourgeois Italy is incapable, though not from lack of ill will, of fully realising in life her right to plunder and violate even those colonial nooks and corners allotted her by England. japan, torn within her feudal shell by capitalist contradictions, stands on the verge of the profoundest revolutionary crisis which is even now, despite a favourable international situation, paralysing her flight into the imperialist skies.
And so, there remain only two genuine world powers: Great Britain and the United States. English imperialism has rid itself of the Asiatic rivalry of Tsarism and of the terrible German competition. British naval might has reached its zenith. Great Britain encircles continents with a chain of subject peoples. Having laid violent hands upon Finland., Estonia and Latvia, she is depriving Sweden and Norway of their last vestiges of independence and is transforming the Baltic Sea into one of Britain’s bays. She faces no opposition in the North Sea. By means of the Cape Colony, Egypt, India, Persia, Afghanistan, she has transformed the Indian Ocean into a British sea. Ruling the oceans, England controls the continents. Her role as a world power is delimited only by the American Dollar Republic and by – the Russian Soviet Republic.
The World War has completely dislodged the United States from its continental conservatism (isolationism'). The programme of an ascending national capitalism – ‘America for the Americans’ (the Monroe Doctrine) – has been supplanted by the programme of imperialism: ‘The Whole World for the Americans’. After exploiting the war commercially, industrially and through stock market speculation; after coining European blood into neutral profits, America went on to intervene in the war, played the decisive role in bringing about Germany’s debacle, and has poked its fingers into all the questions of European and world politics.
Under the ‘League of Nations’ flag, the United States made an attempt to extend to the other side of the ocean its experience with a federated unification of large, multi-national masses – an attempt to chain to its chariot of gold the peoples of Europe and other parts of the world, and bring them under Washington’s rule. In essence the League of Nations was intended to be a world monopoly corporation, ‘Yankee and Co.'
The President of the United States, the great prophet of platitudes, has descended from Mount Sinai in order to conquer Europe, ‘14 Points’ in hand. Stockbrokers, cabinet members and businessmen never deceived themselves for a moment about the meaning of this new revelation. But by way of compensation the European ‘Socialists’, with doses of Kautskyan brew, have attained a condition of religious ecstasy and accompany Wilson’s sacred ark, dancing like King David.
When the time came to pass to practical questions, it became clear to the American prophet that despite the dollar’s excellent foreign exchange rate, the first place on all sea lanes, which connect and divide the nations, continued as heretofore to belong to Great Britain, for she possesses a more powerful navy, longer transoceanic cables and a far older experience in world pillage. Moreover, on his travels Wilson encountered the Soviet Republic and Communism. The offended American Messiah renounced the League of Nations, which England had converted into one of her diplomatic chancelleries, and turned his back upon Europe.
It would, however, be childish to assume that American imperialism, beaten back by England during its first offensive, will withdraw into the shell of the Monroe Doctrine. No, by continuing to subordinate the Western Hemisphere to itself more and more violently, by transforming the countries of Central and South America into its colonies, the United States, through its two ruling parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – is preparing to create, as a counterweight to the English League of Nations, a league of its own, i.e., a league with North America as the centre of the world system. To begin the job properly, the United States intends during the next three to five years to make its navy more powerful than England’s. Therewith imperialist England is confronted with the question: ‘To be or not to be?’ The ferocious rivalry of these two giants in the field of naval construction is accompanied by a no less ferocious struggle over oil.
France – who had reckoned on playing the role of arbiter between England and the United States, but found herself drawn instead into the British orbit as a second-class satellite – discerns in the League of Nations an intolerable yoke and is seeking a way out by inflaming the antagonisms between England and the United States.
These are the most powerful forces working toward and preparing a new world conflict.
The programme of liberation of small nations, advanced during the war, has led to the complete ruination and enslavement of the Balkan peoples, victors and vanquished alike, and to the Balkanisation of a large part of Europe. Their imperialist interests have impelled the conquerors onto the road of carving out isolated, small national states from the territories of the defeated great powers. There is not even a semblance here of the so-called national principle: imperialism consists of overcoming national frameworks, even those of the major states. The new and tiny bourgeois states are only by-products of imperialism. In order to obtain temporary points of support imperialism creates a chain of small states, some openly oppressed, others officially protected while really remaining vassal states Austria, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Bohemia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Georgia, and so on. Dominating over them with the aid of banks, railways, and coal monopolies, imperialism condemns them to intolerable economic and national hardships, to endless friction and bloody collisions.
What a savage irony of history is there in the facts that the restoration of Poland – which was part of the programme of revolutionary democracy and which led to the first manifestations of the international proletariat – has been achieved by imperialism with the object of counteracting the revolution; and that ‘democratic’ Poland, whose warrior-pioneers died on all of Europe’s barricades, is today playing the role of a foul and bloody tool in the thievish hands of Anglo-French gangsters – against the first workers’ republic in the world!
Alongside Poland stands ‘democratic’ Czechoslovakia, selling herself to French capitalism, supplying White Guard detachments against Soviet Russia and Soviet Hungary.
The heroic attempt of the Hungarian proletariat to break out of Central Europe’s state and economic chaos onto the road of a Soviet Federation – the only road of salvation – was strangled by the combined forces of capitalist reaction at a time when the proletariat of the strongest states of Europe, deceived by its parties, proved incapable as yet of fulfilling its duty both toward Socialist Hungary and toward itself.
The Soviet government in Budapest was overthrown with the collaboration of the social-traitors who, in their turn, after maintaining themselves in power for three and a half days, were cast aside by the unbridled counter-revolutionary scum whose bloody crimes surpassed those of Kolchak, Denikin, Wrangel and other agents of the Entente. But even though temporarily crushed, Soviet Hungary is like a beacon light to all the toilers of Central Europe.
The Turkish people refuse to submit to the ignominious peace terms concocted for them by London despots. In order to enforce these terms, England has armed and incited Greece against Turkey. Thus the Balkan peninsula and Asia Minor, Turks and Greeks alike, are condemned to utter devastation and mutual destruction.
In the struggle between the Entente and Turkey, Armenia has played the same programmatic role as Belgium did in the struggle against Germany; as Serbia in the struggle against Austria-Hungary. After the creation of Armenia – lacking any frontiers and without any possibility of remaining alive – Wilson spurned the Armenian mandate proffered him by the League of Nations: Armenia’s soil abounds neither in oil nor platinum. ‘Emancipated’ Armenia is more defenceless today than ever before.
Virtually each one of the newly created ‘national’ states has an irredenta of its own, i.e., its own internal national ulcer.
At the same time, the national struggle within the dominions of the victor countries has reached the peak of intensity. The English bourgeoisie, which seeks to be guardian over the peoples in the four corners of the world, is incapable of solving the Irish question under its very nose.
Even more grave is the national question in the colonies. Egypt, India, Persia are convulsed by insurrections. From the advanced proletarians of Europe and America the colonial toilers are acquiring the slogan: Soviet Federation.
Official, governmental, national, civilised, bourgeois Europe – as it has issued from the war and the Versailles Peace – resembles a lunatic asylum. Artificially split-up little states, whose economy is choking to death within their borders, snarl at one another, and wage wars over harbours, provinces and insignificant towns. They seek the protection of larger states, whose antagonisms are likewise increasing day by day. Italy stands hostilely opposed to France and is inclined to support Germany against France, the moment Germany is able to raise her head again. France is eaten by envy of England and in order to collect her dividends is ready to set Europe on fire again from all four corners. England, with the help of France, keeps Europe in a condition of chaotic impotence, thus untying her own hands for world operations aimed against the United States. The United States allows japan to become mired in Eastern Siberia in order meanwhile to secure by the year 1925 its naval preponderance over Great Britain provided, that is, Britain doesn’t decide to measure forces before then.
In harmony with this picture of world relations Marshal Foch, military oracle of the French bourgeoisie, has issued a warning that the next war will begin where the last one left off, namely, with airplanes and tanks, with automatic arms and machine guns instead of hand weapons, with grenades instead of bayonets.
Workers and peasants of Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australia! You have suffered ten million dead, twenty million wounded and crippled. Today you at least know what you have gained at this price!
Meanwhile the impoverishment of mankind proceeds apace. Through its mechanisms the war has destroyed those world economic ties whose development once constituted one of the most important conquests of capitalism. Since the year 1914 England, France and Italy have been cut off from Central Europe and the Near East; since the year 1917 – from Russia.
A few war years destroyed what it took a whole number of generations to create; human labour, expended even to this end, was reduced to a minimum. Throughout these years wherever it was necessary to process existing supplies of raw material into the shape of finished goods, labour was employed primarily to produce the means and tools of destruction.
In those basic branches of economy where mankind enters directly into a struggle against nature’s niggardliness and inertia, in extracting fuel and raw materials from the bowels of the earth, production has steadily waned. The victory of the Entente and the Versailles Peace have not halted the process of economic ruination and decay, but have only altered its paths and forms. The blockade of Soviet Russia and the artificial incitement of civil war on her fertile borderlands have caused and continue to cause incalculable harm to the welfare of all mankind. With a minimum of technical aid, Russia, thanks to her Soviet forms of economy, could supply Europe – and the Communist International attests to this before the entire world with double and triple the quantity of foodstuffs and raw materials that Tsarist Russia used to supply. Instead of this, Anglo-French imperialism has compelled the Toilers’ Republic to devote all its forces to self-defence. In order to deprive the Russian workers of fuel, England has kept her clutches on Baku, whence she has been able to export for her own use only an insignificant portion of the oil output. The rich Donetz coal basin has been periodically laid waste by White Guard bands of the Entente. French engineers and sappers have laboured not little over the destruction of Russian bridges and railways. japan is right now pillaging and devastating Eastern Siberia.
German technology and the high productivity of German labour, these most important factors in the regeneration of world economy, are being even more paralysed after the Versailles Peace than was the case in wartime. The Entente is faced with an insoluble contradiction. In order to exact payment, one must provide the possibility of work. In order to make work possible one must make it possible to live. And giving crushed, dismembered, exhausted Germany the possibility to live means – to make it possible for her to resist. Fear of Germany’s revenge dictates the policy of Foch: a policy of ever tightening the military vice to prevent Germany’s regeneration.
Everywhere there is scarcity; everywhere there is need. Not only Germany’s trade balance but also that of France and England is decidedly on the deficit side. The French national debt has grown to 300 billion francs, of which, according to the reactionary French Senator Gaudin de Villaine, two-thirds accrues from embezzlement, theft, and general chaos.
The work of restoring the war-ruined areas accomplished in France is a mere drop in this ocean of devastation. Lack of fuel, lack of raw materials and lack of labour-power create insurmountable obstacles.
France needs gold; she needs coal. With his finger pointed at the countless graves of the war cemeteries, the French bourgeois demands his dividends. Germany must pay! After all, Marshal Foch still has enough black-skinned regiments to occupy German cities. Russia must pay! To inoculate the Russian people with this idea, the French government is expending for the devastation of Russia billions originally collected for the regeneration of France.
The international financial agreement, intended to lighten France’s tax burden through a more or less complete annulment of war debts, has not been reached: the United States shows no sign whatever of a desire to make Europe a gift of ten billion dollars.
The issue of paper money assumes ever greater proportions. While in Soviet Russia the growth of paper money and its depreciation, side by side with the simultaneous development of socialised planned distribution of necessities and its ever-expanding payment of wages in kind, signify only one of the results of the withering away of commodity-money economy; in capitalist countries the growing mass of paper money signifies the deepening of economic chaos and an inevitable crash.
The conferences of the Entente travel from one locality to the next; they seek inspiration in all of Europe’s vacation resorts. All hands are outstretched, demanding reimbursement in proportion to the number of men killed in the war. This travelling Stock Exchange of Death, which every two weeks decides anew whether France is to receive 50 or 55 per cent of German indemnities, which Germany cannot possibly pay, is the crowning achievement of the oft-proclaimed ‘organisation of Europe’.
Capitalism has degenerated in the course of the war. The systematic extraction of surplus value from the process of production – the foundation of profit economy – seems far too boresome an occupation to Messrs. Bourgeois who have become accustomed to increase their capital twice and tenfold within a couple of days by means of speculation, and on the basis of international robbery.
The bourgeois has shed certain prejudices which used to hamper him, and has acquired certain habits which he did not formerly possess. The war has inured him to subjecting a whole number of countries to a hunger-blockade, to bombarding from the air and setting fire to cities and villages, expediently spreading the bacilli of cholera, carrying dynamite in diplomatic pouches, counterfeiting his opponent’s currency; he has become accustomed to bribery, espionage and smuggling on a hitherto unequalled scale. The usages of war have been taken over, after the conclusion of peace, as the usages of commerce. The chief commercial operations are fused nowadays with the functions of the state, which steps to the fore as a world robber gang equipped with all the implements of violence.
The narrower the world’s productive basis, all the more savage and more wasteful the methods of appropriation. Rob! Ibis is the last word of capitalist policy that has come to supplant the policies of free trade and protectionism. The raid of the Rumanian gangsters upon Hungary, whence they carried off locomotives and finger-rings, is a fitting symbol of the economic philosophy of Lloyd George and Millerand.
In its domestic economic policy the bourgeoisie scurries to and fro between the programme of more extensive nationalisation, regulations and controls on the one hand, and, on the other, protests against the state intervention which had grown so much during the war. The French parliament is busy trying to square the circle, namely, creating a ‘unified command’ for the republic’s railway network without doing damage to the private capitalist interests of the railway corporations. At the same time, the capitalist press of France is conducting a vicious campaign against ‘Etatism’ which tends to hamper private initiative. The American railways, disorganised by the state during the war, have fallen into an even worse condition with the removal of state control. Meanwhile, the Republican Party has adopted a plank in its platform, promising to keep economic life free from arbitrary government intervention.
That old watchdog of capitalism, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labour, is conducting a campaign against the nationalisation of railroads which is being advocated in America, in France and other countries as a panacea by the simpletons and charlatans of reformism. As a matter of fact, the sporadic violent intrusions of the state into the economy only serve to compete with the pernicious activity of speculators in increasing the chaos of capitalist economy during its epoch of decline. A transfer of the principal branches of industry and transport from the hands of individual trusts into the hands of the ‘nation’, i.e., the bourgeois state, that is, into the hands of the most powerful and predatory capitalist trust, signifies not the elimination of the evil but only its amplification.
The fall of prices and the rise of the rate of exchange are merely superficial and temporary phenomena, occurring against the background of unchecked ruination. The fluctuation of prices does not alter the basic facts: viz., the shortage of raw materials and the decline in the productivity of labour.
After undergoing the frightful hardships of war, the labouring masses are incapable of working with the same intensity under the same conditions. The destruction within a few hours of values it had taken years to create, the obscene dance of the billions engaged in by the financial clique which keeps rising higher and higher on heaps of bones and ruins – these object lessons of history are hardly helpful in maintaining within the working class the automatic discipline inherent in wage labour. Bourgeois economists and publicists speak of a ‘wave of laziness’, which, according to them, is sweeping over Europe and undermining its economic future. The administrators seek to mend matters by granting privileges to the topmost layers of the working class. In vain! In order to revive and further develop its productivity of labour it is necessary to give the working class the assurance that every blow of its hammer will tend to improve its own welfare and raise its level of education, without again subjecting it to the danger of mutual extermination. It can receive this assurance only from the social revolution.
The rising cost of living is the mightiest factor of revolutionary ferment in all countries. The bourgeoisie of France, Italy, Germany and other states is endeavouring by means of relief payments to ameliorate the destitution caused by high prices, and to check the growth of the strike movement. To recompense the agricultural classes for a part of their expenditure of labour power, the state, already deeply in debt, engages in shady speculation; it steals from itself in order to defer the hour of settlement. Even if certain categories of workers now enjoy higher living standards than they did before the war, this fact does not in any way tally with the actual economic condition of capitalist countries. These ephemeral results are obtained by borrowing fraudulently from the future, which, when it finally arrives, will bring with it catastrophic destitution and calamities.
But what about the United States? ‘America is the hope of humanity!’ Through the lips of Millerand, the French bourgeois repeats this phrase of Turgot in the hope of having his own debts remitted, although he himself never remits anyone’s debt. But the United States is incapable of leading Europe out of its economic blind alley. During the last six years, American reserves of raw material have been depleted. The adaptation of American capitalism to the exigencies of the World War has resulted in a narrowing of its industrial foundation. European immigration has stopped. A wave of emigration has deprived American industry of many hundreds of thousands of Germans, Italians, Poles, Serbs, Czechs, who were drawn either by war mobilisation or by the mirages of a newly acquired fatherland. Shortages of raw material and labour power hang over the trans-Atlantic republic and are engendering a profound economic crisis; and as a result, the American proletariat is entering upon a new revolutionary phase of struggle. America is becoming rapidly Europeanised.
Nor have the neutral countries escaped the consequences of war and blockade; like liquid in connected vessels, the economy of interconnected capitalist states, both large and small, both belligerents and neutrals, both victors and vanquished, is tending toward one and the same level – that of poverty, starvation and extinction.
Switzerland lives from hand to mouth and every unexpected event threatens to disrupt her equilibrium. In Scandinavia the abundant influx of gold does not solve the food problem; coal must be obtained from England in dribbles, begging hat in hand. Despite the famine in Europe the fishing industry is living through an unprecedented crisis in Norway. Spain, from where France has pumped men, horses and foodstuffs, is unable to emerge from a grave food scarcity which brings in its train stormy strikes and street demonstrations of the starving masses.
The bourgeoisie firmly relies upon the countryside. Bourgeois economists assert that the welfare of the peasantry has improved extraordinarily. This is an illusion. It is true that the peasants who bring their produce to the market have prospered more or less in all countries during the war. They sold their products at high prices and used cheap money to pay off debts contracted when money was dear. For them this is an obvious advantage. But their economy has become disorganised and depleted during the war. They are in need of manufactured goods, but prices for these have risen in proportion to the declining value of money. The demands of the state budget have become so monstrous that they threaten to devour the peasant with all his land and products. Thus after a period of temporary improvement, the condition of the small peasantry is becoming more and more intolerable. Their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the war will continually increase; and in the guise of the regular army, the peasantry has not a few unpleasant surprises in store for the bourgeoisie.
The economic restoration of Europe, about which its statesmen talk so much, is a lie. Europe is being ruined and the whole world along with it.
On capitalist foundations there is no salvation. The policy of imperialism does not lead to the abolition of want but to its aggravation owing to the predatory waste of existing reserves.
The question of fuel and raw material is an international question which can be solved only on the basis of a planned, collectivist, socialist production.
It is necessary to cancel the state debts. It is necessary to emancipate labour and its products from the monstrous tribute extorted by the world plutocracy. It is necessary to overthrow this plutocracy. It is necessary to remove the state barriers which tend to atomise world economy. The Supreme Economic Council of the Entente imperialists must be replaced by the Supreme Economic Soviet of the world proletariat, to effect the centralised exploitation of all the economic resources of mankind.
It is necessary to destroy imperialism in order to give mankind an opportunity to live.
The entire energy of the propertied classes is concentrated upon two questions: to maintain themselves in power in the international struggle and to prevent the proletariat from becoming the master of the country. The former political groupings of the bourgeoisie have exhausted their strength on these tasks. Not only in Russia, where the banner of the Cadet Party became at the decisive stage of struggle the banner of all the property owners against the workers’ and peasants’ revolution, but even in countries with an older and deeper-rooted political culture, the former programmes which used to separate diverse layers of the bourgeoisie have disappeared, almost without a trace, prior to the open outbreak of the proletarian revolution.
Lloyd George steps forward as the spokesman for the amalgamation of the Tories, Unionists and Liberals for a joint struggle against the approaching rule of labour. This hoary demagogue singles out the holy church as the central power station whose current equally feeds all the parties of the propertied classes.
In France the epoch of anti-clericalism, so noisy only a brief while ago, seems like a sepulchral ghost. The Radicals, Royalists and Catholics are now constituted in a bloc of ‘national law and order’ against the proletariat that is lifting its head. Ready to extend its hand to every reactionary force, the French government supports the Black-Hundred gangster Wrangel and re-establishes diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
Giolitti, confirmed champion of neutrality and Germanophile, has taken the helm of the Italian government as the joint leader of interventionists, neutralists, clericals and Mazziniists. He is ready to tack and veer on the subordinate questions of domestic and foreign policy in order all the more ruthlessly to repel the offensive of the revolutionary proletarians of city and country. Giolitti’s government rightfully considers itself the last serious stake of the Italian bourgeoisie.
The policy of all the German governments and government parties since Hohenzollern’s downfall has been to find in concert with the Entente ruling classes a common ground of hatred of Bolshevism, that is, of the proletarian revolution.
While the Anglo-French Shylock is tightening more and more savagely the noose around the neck of the German people, the German bourgeoisie, regardless of party affiliations, entreats its enemy to loosen the noose just enough to enable it to strangle the vanguard of the German proletariat with its own hands. This is the gist of the periodic conferences and agreements on disarmament and the delivery of war material.
In America the line of demarcation between the Republicans and the Democrats has been, completely erased. These two powerful political organisations of the exploiters, adapted to the hitherto narrow circle of American relations, revealed their total hollowness the instant the American bourgeoisie entered the arena of world plunder.
Never before have the intrigues of individual leaders and cliques in the opposition and in the Ministries alike – been marked by such open cynicism as now. But at the same time all of the leaders, cliques and parties of the world bourgeoisie are building a united front against the revolutionary proletariat.
Whilst the Social-Democratic blockheads persist in counterposing the ‘peaceable’ road of democracy to the violent road of dictatorship, the last vestiges of democracy are being trampled underfoot and destroyed in every state throughout the world.
Since the war, during which the national electoral bodies played the part of impotent but noisy patriotic stooges for their respective ruling imperialist cliques, the parliaments have fallen into a state of complete prostration. All the important issues are now decided outside the parliaments. Nothing is changed in this respect by the window-dressing display of enlarged parliamentary prerogatives, so solemnly proclaimed by the imperialist mountebanks of Italy and other countries. The real masters of the situation and the rulers of state destiny are – Lord Rothschild and Lord Weir, Morgan and Rockefeller, Schneider and Loucheur, Hugo Stinnes and Felix Deutsch, Rizello and Agnelli – these gold- , coal- , oil- , and metal-kings, who operate behind the scenes and who send their second-rank lieutenants into parliaments to carry out their instructions.
The French parliament – more discredited than any other by its rhetoric of falsehood, cynicism and prostitution, and whose chief amusement lies in the procedure of thrice reading the most insignificant legislative acts – this parliament suddenly learns that the four billions appropriated by it for the restoration of the devastated regions of France had been expended by Clémenceau for entirely different purposes, in particular for the further devastation of Russian regions.
The overwhelming majority of members of the supposedly all-powerful English parliament are scarcely more informed concerning the actual intentions of Lloyd George and Lord Curzon with regard to Soviet Russia, or even France, than are the withered old women in the villages of Bengal.
In the United States, Congress is a docile or disgruntled chorus for the President, who is himself a creature of the electoral machine, which is in its turn the political apparatus of the trusts – incomparably more so since the war than ever before.
Germany’s belated parliamentarianism, an abortion of the bourgeois revolution, which is itself an abortion of history, suffers in its infancy from every disease peculiar to cretins in their senility. ‘The most-democratic-in-the-world’ Reichstag of Ebert’s republic is impotent, not only before the Marshal’s baton of Foch but even before the stock market manipulations of its own Stinneses, let alone the military plots of its officer clique. German parliamentary democracy is nothing but a void between two dictatorships.
The very composition of the bourgeoisie has undergone profound modifications in the course of the war. Against the background of universal impoverishment throughout the world, the concentration of capital has made a sudden and colossal leap forward. Firms hitherto standing in the shadows have stepped to the forefront. Solidity, stability, a tendency toward ‘reasonable’ compromises, observance of a certain decorum both in exploitation and in the utilisation of its fruits – all this has been washed away by the torrents of the imperialist flood.
To the foreground have stepped the newly rich: war contractors, shoddy profiteers, upstarts, international adventurers, smugglers, refugees from justice bedecked with diamonds, every species of unbridled scum greedy for luxury and capable of any bestiality against the proletarian revolution from which they can expect nothing but the hangman’s noose.
The existing system stands before the masses in all its nakedness as the rule of plutocracy. In America, in France, in England, indulgence in postwar luxury has assumed a maniacal character. Paris, jammed with international patriotic parasites, resembles as admitted by Le Temps, Babylon on the eve of its destruction.
Politics, courts, the press, the arts and the church fall in line with this bourgeoisie. All restraint has been thrown to the winds. Wilson, Clémenceau, Millerand, Lloyd George and Churchill do not shrink from the most brazen deceit and the biggest lie and when caught red-handed they calmly go on to new criminal feats. The classical rules of political duplicity as expounded by old Machiavelli become innocent aphorisms of a provincial simpleton in comparison with those principles which guide bourgeois statesmen today. The law courts, which formerly concealed their bourgeois essence under democratic finery, have now openly become the organs of class brutality and counter-revolutionary provocation. The judges of the Third Republic have, without batting an eyelid, acquitted the murderer of Jaurès. The courts of Germany, which has proclaimed itself a socialist republic, give encouragement to the murderers of Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and many other martyrs of the proletariat. The juridical tribunals of bourgeois democracies have become the organs for the solemn legalisation of all the crimes of the White Terror.
The bourgeois press has openly engraved the stamp of bribery, like a trade-mark, on its forehead. The leading newspapers of the world bourgeoisie are monstrous factories of falsehood, libel and spiritual poison.
The moods of the bourgeoisie fluctuate as nervously as the prices on its market. In the initial months following the termination of the war, the international bourgeoisie, especially the French, was shaken by chills and fever from the fear of oncoming Communism. It gauged the degree of its imminent peril by the enormity of the bloody crimes it had committed. But it has been able to withstand the first onslaught. The Socialist parties and the trade unions of the Second International, bound by chains of common guilt to the bourgeoisie, have rendered it their final service by absorbing the first wrathful blow of the toilers. At the price of the complete collapse of the Second International the bourgeoisie has bought a respite. The counter-revolutionary elections to parliament engineered by Clémenceau, a few months of unstable equilibrium, and the failure of the May strike – these sufficed to imbue the French bourgeoisie with confidence in the security of its regime. Its class arrogance has risen to the same heights today as did its fears of yesterday.
Threats have become the bourgeoisie’s sole means of persuasion. The bourgeoisie has no faith in words, it demands deeds: arrests, dispersals (of demonstrations), confiscations, firing squads. Striving to impress the bourgeoisie, bourgeois ministers and parliamentarians pose as men of steel. Lloyd George daily counsels the German ministers to shoot their own Communards, following the example of France in 1871. Any third-rank functionary can bank on tumultuous plaudits in the Chamber of Deputies so long as he concludes his inane report with a few threats addressed to the workers.
While the official state apparatus is being more and more openly transformed into an organisation for the sanguinary suppression of the toilers, alongside it, and under its auspices and at its disposal, various private counter-revolutionary organisations are being formed – for breaking strikes by force, for acts of provocation, for staging frame-up trials, wrecking revolutionary organisations, raiding and seizing Communist institutions, organising pogroms and incendiarism, assassinating revolutionary leaders and other similar measures devoted to the defence of private property and democracy.
Younger sons of landlords and of the big bourgeoisie, petty bourgeois who have lost their bearings, and all other declassed elements, among whom the bourgeois-noble emigres from Soviet Russia occupy the most prominent place, form an inexhaustible reservoir for the guerrilla detachments of the counter-revolution. At their head stands the corps of officers who have gone through the school of the imperialist slaughter.
Some 20,000 professional officers of the Hohenzollern army have formed themselves – especially after the Kapp-Lüttwitz putsch into a strong counter-revolutionary nucleus which the German democracy is powerless to dissolve, and which can be crushed only by the sledge-hammer of the proletarian dictatorship. This centralised organisation of the old regime terrorists is supplemented by the White Guard guerrilla detachments organised on the Junker estates.
In the United States organisations like the ‘National Security League’, the ‘Loyal American League’ and other ‘Knights of Liberty’ constitute the storm troops of capitalism, at the extreme wings of which operate the ordinary murder gangs in the person of private detective agencies.
In France the Ligue Civique represents a socially-select organisation of strikebreakers, while the reformist Confederation of Labour has been outlawed.
The officers’ Mafia of White Hungary, which exists clandestinely alongside the government of counter-revolutionary hangmen supported by England, has given the world proletariat a sample of that civilisation and humanitarianism which Wilson and Lloyd George advocate as against the Soviet power and revolutionary violence.
The ‘democratic’ governments of Finland and Georgia, Latvia and Esthonia, are striving might and main to emulate this Hungarian model of perfection.
In Barcelona there is an underground gang of assassins, operating under police orders. And so it goes on, and so it is everywhere.
Even in a defeated and ruined country like Bulgaria, the officers, left without jobs, are uniting into secret societies, biding the first opportunity to demonstrate their patriotism upon the backs and bones of Bulgarian workers.
The programme of smoothing over contradictions, the programme of class collaboration, parliamentary reforms, gradual socialisation and national unity appears like a grim joke in the face of the bourgeois regime as it has emerged from the World War.
The bourgeoisie has entirely abandoned the idea of reconciling the proletariat by means of reform. It corrupts an insignificant labour aristocracy with a few sops and keeps the great masses in subjection by blood and iron.
There is not a single serious issue today which is decided by ballot. Of democracy nothing remains save memories in the skulls of reformists. The entire state organisation is reverting more and more to its primordial form, i.e., detachments of armed men. Instead of counting ballots, the bourgeoisie is busy counting up bayonets, machine guns and cannons which will be at its disposal at the moment when the question of power and property forms is posed point-blank for decision.
There is room for neither collaboration nor mediation. To save ourselves we must overthrow the bourgeoisie. This can be achieved only by the rising of the proletariat.
Amidst the unbridled elements, the maelstrom, of chauvinism, avarice and destruction, only the principle of Communism has revealed a great power for life and creativeness. In spite of the fact that in the course of historical development Soviet power has for the first time been established in the most backward and ruined country of Europe, surrounded by a host of mightiest enemies – despite all this, the Soviet power has not only maintained itself in the struggle against such unprecedented odds but it has also demonstrated in action the vast potentialities inherent in Communism. The development and consolidation of the Soviet power in Russia is the most momentous historical fact since the foundation of the Communist International.
In the eyes of class society the creation of an army has usually been regarded as the supreme test of economic and state construction. The strength or weakness of an army is taken as index of the strength or weakness of economy and the state.
The Soviet power has created a mighty armed force while under fire. The Red Army has demonstrated its unquestionable superiority not alone in the struggle against old bourgeois-monarchist Russia,
which imperialism is endeavouring to re-establish by the aid of the White Armies of Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich, Wrangel, et al., but also in the struggle against the national armies of those ‘democracies’ which world imperialism is implanting for its own benefit (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland).
In the sphere of economy the Soviet Republic has performed a great miracle by virtue of the single fact that it has succeeded in maintaining itself during the first three trying and most difficult years. It remains inviolate and continues to develop because it has torn the instruments of exploitation out of the hands of the bourgeoisie and has transformed them into the means of planned economy.
Amid the roar of battle along her illimitable fronts, Soviet Russia has not let slip a single opportunity for economic and cultural construction. In the interval between the crushing defeat of Denikin and the murderous assault of Poland, the Soviet power undertook an extensive organisation of labour conscription, inaugurated a more precise registration and application of the forces and means of production, attracted sections of the army to the accomplishment of industrial tasks, and above all, began to restore its system of transportation.
Only the monopoly by the socialist state of the necessities of life, coincident with a ruthless struggle against speculation, has saved the Russian cities from starvation and made it possible to supply the Red Army with food. Only the unification by the state of scattered factories, plants, privately-owned railroads and ships has assured the possibility of production and transport.
The concentration of industry and transport in the hands of the state leads, through standardisation, to the socialisation of technology itself. Only upon the principles of socialism is it possible to fix the minimum number of types of locomotives, freight cars and steamships to be manufactured and repaired, and to carry on and periodically standardise mass production of machinery and machine parts, thus securing incalculable advantages from the crucial standpoint of raising the productivity of labour. Economic progress, the scientific organisation of industry, the introduction of the Taylor system divested of its capitalist-sweatshop features – no longer face any obstacles in Soviet Russia, save for those interposed from abroad by imperialist violence.
At the time when national interests, clashing with imperialist encroachments, are a constant source of incessant conflicts, uprisings and wars throughout the world, socialist Russia has shown how painlessly the workers’ state is able to reconcile national requirements with those of economic life, by purging the former of chauvinism and by emancipating the latter from imperialism. Socialism strives to bring about a union of all regions, all provinces and all nationalities by means of a unified economic plan. Economic centralism, freed from the exploitation of one class by another, and of one nation by another and, hence, equally beneficial to all alike, can be instituted without in any way infringing upon the real freedom of national development.
The example of Soviet Russia is enabling the peoples of Central Europe, of the South-Eastern Balkans, of the British dominions, all the oppressed nations and tribes, the Egyptians and the Turks, the Indians and the Persians, the Irish and the Bulgarians to convince themselves of this, that the fraternal collaboration of all the national units of mankind is realisable in life only through a Federation of Soviet Republics.
The revolution has made Russia into the first proletarian state. For the three years of its existence its boundaries have undergone constant change. They have shrunk under the external military pressure of world imperialism. They expanded whenever this pressure relaxed. The struggle for Soviet Russia has become merged with the struggle against world capitalism. The question of Soviet Russia has become the touchstone by which all the organisations of the working class are tested. The German Social Democracy committed its second greatest treachery – greatest in point of infamy since the betrayal of August 4, 1914 – when in obtaining control of the government it sought the protection of Western imperialism instead of seeking an alliance with the revolution in the East. A Soviet Germany united with Soviet Russia would have represented a force exceeding from the very start all the capitalist states put together!
The Communist International has proclaimed the cause of Soviet Russia as its own. The world proletariat will not sheathe its sword until Soviet Russia is incorporated as a link in the World Federation of Soviet Republics.
Civil war is on the order of the day throughout the world. Its banner is the Soviet Power.
Capitalism has proletarianised immense masses of mankind.
Imperialism has thrown these masses out of balance and started them on the revolutionary road. The very concept of the term ‘masses’ has undergone a change in recent years. Those elements which used to be regarded as the masses in the era of parliamentarianism and trade unionism have now become converted into a labour aristocracy. Millions and tens of millions of those who formerly lived beyond the pale of political life are being transformed today into the revolutionary masses. The war has roused everybody. It has awakened the political interest of the most backward layers; it aroused in them illusions and hopes and it has deceived them. The craft division of labour with its caste spirit, the relative stability of the living standards among the upper proletarian strata, the dumb and apathetic hopelessness among the thickest lower layers, in short, the social foundations of the old forms of the labour movement have receded beyond recall into the past. New millions have been drawn into the struggle.
Women who have lost their husbands and fathers and have been compelled to take their places in labour’s ranks are streaming into the movement. The working youth, which has grown up amid the thunder and lightning of the World War, hails the revolution as its native element.
In different countries the struggle is passing through different stages. But it is the final struggle. Not infrequently the waves of the movement flow into obsolete organisational forms, lending them temporary vitality. Here and there on the surface of the flood old labels and half-obliterated slogans float. Human minds are still filled with much confusion, many shadows, prejudices and illusions. But the movement as a whole is of a profoundly revolutionary character. It is all-embracing and irresistible. It spreads, strengthens and purifies itself; and it is eliminating all the old rubbish. It will not halt before it brings about the rule of the world proletariat.
The basic form of this movement is the strike. Its simplest and most potent cause lies in the rising prices of primary necessities. Not infrequently the strike arises out of isolated local conflicts. It arises as an expression of the masses’ impatience with the parliamentary Socialist mish-mash.
It originates in the feeling of solidarity with the oppressed of all countries, including one’s own. It combines economic and political slogans. In it are not infrequently combined fragments of reformism with slogans of the programme of social revolution. It dies down, ceases, only in order again to resurrect itself, shaking the foundations of production, keeping the state apparatus under constant strain, and driving the bourgeoisie into all the greater frenzy because it utilises every pretext to send its greetings to Soviet Russia. The premonitions of the exploiters are not unfounded, for this chaotic strike is in reality the social-revolutionary roll call and the mobilisation of the international proletariat.
The profound interdependence between one country and another, which has been so catastrophically revealed during the war, invests with particular significance those branches of labour which serve to connect the various countries, and puts the railroad workers and transport workers in general into a most prominent position. The transport proletarians have had occasion to display some of their power in the boycott of White Hungary and White Poland. The strike and the boycott, methods resorted to by the working class at the dawn of its trade union struggles, i.e., even before it began utilising parliamentarianism, are today assuming unprecedented proportions, acquiring a new and menacing significance, similar to an artillery preparation before the. final attack.
The ever-growing helplessness of an individual before the blind interplay of historic events has driven into the unions not only new strata of working men and women but also white-collar workers, functionaries and petty-bourgeois intellectuals. Prior to the time when the proletarian revolution will of necessity lead to the creation of Soviets, which will immediately assume ascendancy over all of the old labour organisations, the toilers are streaming into the traditional trade, unions, tolerating for the time being their old forms, their official programmes, their ruling aristocracy, but introducing into these organisations an ever-increasing and unprecedented revolutionary pressure of the many-millioned masses.
The lowliest of the lowly – the rural proletarians, the agricultural labourers – are raising their heads. In Italy, Germany and other countries we observe a magnificent growth of the revolutionary movement among the agricultural workers and their fraternal rapprochement with the urban proletariat.
The poorest layers among the peasantry are changing their attitude toward socialism. Whereas the intrigues have remained fruitless which the parliamentary reformists sought to base upon the muzhik’s proprietary prejudices, the genuine revolutionary movement of the proletariat and its implacable struggle against the oppressors have given birth to glimmers of hope in the hearts of the most backward and most benighted and ruined peasant-proprietor.
The ocean of human privation and ignorance is bottomless. Every social layer that rises to the surface leaves beneath it another layer just about to rise. But the vanguard doesn’t have to wait for the ponderous rear to dome up before engaging in battle. The work of awakening, uplifting and educating its most backward layers will be accomplished by the working class only after it is in power.
The toilers of the colonial and semi-colonial countries have awakened. In the boundless areas of India, Egypt, Persia, over which the gigantic octopus of English imperialism sprawls – in this uncharted human ocean vast internal forces are constantly at work, upheaving huge waves that cause tremors in the City’s stocks and hearts.
In the movements of colonial peoples, the social element blends in diverse forms with the national element, but both of them are directed against imperialism. The road from the first stumbling baby steps to the mature forms of struggle is being traversed by the colonies and backward countries in general through a forced march, under the pressure of modern imperialism and under the leadership of the revolutionary proletariat.
The fruitful rapprochement of the Mohammedan and non-Mohammedan peoples who are kept shackled under British and foreign domination, the purging of the movement internally by doing away with the influence of the clergy and of chauvinist reaction, the simultaneous struggle against foreign oppressors and their native confederates – the feudal lords, the priests and the usurers – all this is transforming the growing army of the colonial insurrection into a great historical force, into a mighty reserve for the world proletariat.
The pariahs are rising. Their awakened minds avidly gravitate to Soviet Russia, to the barricade battles in the streets of German cities, to the growing strike struggles in Great Britain, to the Communist International.
The Socialist who aids directly or indirectly in perpetuating the privileged position of one nation at the expense of another, who accommodates himself to colonial slavery, who draws a line of distinction between races and colours in the matter of human rights, who helps the bourgeoisie of the metropolis to maintain its rule over the colonies instead of aiding the armed uprising of the colonies; the British Socialist who fails to support by all possible means the uprisings in Ireland, Egypt and India against the London plutocracy such a Socialist deserves to be branded with infamy, if not with a bullet, but in no case merits either a mandate or the confidence of the proletariat.
Yet, the proletariat is being thwarted in its international revolutionary actions not so much by the half-destroyed barbed-wire entanglements that remain set up between the countries since the war, as it is by the egotism, conservatism, stupidity and treachery of the old party and trade union organisations which have climbed upon its back during the preceding epoch.
The leaders of the old trades unions use every means to counteract the revolutionary struggle of the working masses and to paralyse it; or, if they cannot do it otherwise, they take charge of strikes in order all the more surely to nullify them by underhand machinations.
The historical treachery perpetrated by the international Social Democracy is unequalled in the annals of the struggle against oppression. It had its clearest and most terrible consequences in Germany. The defeat of German imperialism was at the same time the defeat of the capitalist system of economy. Save for the proletariat there was no other class that could pretend to state power. The success of the socialist overturn was amply assured by the development of technology and by the numerical strength and the high cultural level of the working class. But the German Social Democracy blocked the road along which this task could be accomplished. By means of intricate manoeuvres in which cunning vied with stupidity, it was able to divert the energy of the proletariat from its natural and necessary task – the conquest of power.
For a number of decades the Social Democracy had laboured to gain the confidence of the proletarian masses only in order to place when the critical moment came and when the existence of bourgeois society was at stake – its entire authority in the service of the exploiters.
The treachery of liberalism and the collapse of bourgeois democracy are insignificant episodes in comparison with the monstrous betrayal of the toiling classes by the Socialist parties. Even the part played by the Church, the central powerhouse of conservatism, as Lloyd George has defined it, is dimmed beside the anti-socialist role of the Second International.
The Social Democracy justified its betrayal of the revolution during the war by the slogan, National Defence. Its counter-revolutionary policy following the conclusion of peace it cloaks with the slogan, Democracy. National Defence and Democracy – here are the solemn formulas of the capitulation of the proletariat to the will of the bourgeoisie!
But !he depths of the fall are far from plumbed by this. In pursuance of its policy of defending the capitalist system, the Social Democracy is compelled, on the heels of the bourgeoisie, to openly trample underfoot both ‘national defence’ and ‘democracy’. Scheidemann and Ebert are licking the hands of French imperialism, whose help they seek against the Soviet revolution. Noske has become the personification of the White Terror of the bourgeois counter-revolution.
Albert Thomas becomes a hired clerk of the League of Nations, that filthy agency of imperialism. Vandervelde, the eloquent incarnation of the superficiality of the Second International which he used to head. becomes the Royal Minister, the confederate of Delacroix member of the Clerical Party, defender of the Belgian Catholic priests and advocate of capitalist atrocities against the Negroes in the Congo.
Henderson, who apes the great men of the bourgeoisie, who appears on the scene now as His Majesty’s Minister and then again as a member of His Majesty’s most loyal Labour opposition; Tom Shaw who demands of the Soviet government documentary proof that there are crooks, thieves and perjurers in the London government – who are all these gentlemen if not the sworn enemies of the working class?
Renner and Seitz, Niemetz and Tuzar, Troelstra and Branting, Dasczinski and Chkheidze – each of them translates the shameful collapse of the Second International into the language of his respective petty-government chicanery.
Finally Karl Kautsky, ex-Marxist and ex-theoretician of the Second International, has become the snivelling privy counsellor for the yellow press of the world.
Under the pressure of the masses the more pliant elements of the old Socialism have changed their appearance and colouring, without changing in essence; they break away or are preparing to break away from the Second International, and meanwhile invariably shrink, as usual, from every genuine mass and revolutionary action and even from every serious preparation for action.
In order to characterise and at the same time brand the actors in this masquerade it suffices to point out that the Polish Socialist Party, led by Dasczinski and patronised by Pilsudski, this party of petty-bourgeois cynicism and chauvinist fanaticism, has announced its break with the Second International.
The leading parliamentary elite of the French Socialist Party, which is now casting its votes against the budget and against the Versailles Treaty, remains in essence one of the mainstays of the bourgeois republic. These gestures of opposition go only so far as is necessary to regain, from time to time, the semi-confidence of the most conservative layers of the proletariat.
So far as the fundamental questions of the class struggle are concerned, French parliamentary Socialism continues as heretofore to disintegrate the will of the proletariat by instilling into the workers the idea that the present moment is not propitious for the conquest of power, because France is too ruined, just as the situation was equally unpropitious yesterday because of the war; while on the eve of the war it was the industrial boom that interfered, and still earlier it was the industrial crisis. Alongside of parliamentary Socialism – and not a whit above it – there is the garrulous and mendacious syndicalism of the firm of Jouhaux & Bros.
The creation of a strong, firmly welded and disciplined Communist Party in France is a life-and-death question for the French proletariat.
In the strikes and uprisings a new generation of workers is being educated and tempered in Germany. They are getting their experience at the price of victims whose number grows in proportion with the length of time during which the Independent Socialist Party continues to remain under the influence of conservative Social Democrats and routinists who keep sighing for the Social Democracy of Bebel’s days, who do not understand the character of the present revolutionary epoch, who flinch from civil war and revolutionary terror, who doddle along at the tail end of events and who live in the expectation of a miracle which is to relieve them of their incapacity. In the heat of battle, the party of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht is teaching the German workers to find the correct road.
Routinism among the summits of the labour movement in England is so ingrained that they have yet even to feel the need of rearming themselves: the leaders of the British Labour Party are stubbornly bent upon remaining within the framework of the Second International.
At a time when the march of events during recent years has undermined the stability of economic life in conservative England and has made her toiling masses most receptive to a revolutionary programme – at such a time, the official machinery of the bourgeois nation: The Royal House of Windsor, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the Church, the trades unions, the Labour Party, George V, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Henderson – remains intact as a mighty automatic brake upon progress. Only the Communist Party a party free from routine and sectarianism, and closely bound up with the mass organisations – will be able to counterpose the proletarian rank and file to this official aristocracy.
In Italy where the bourgeoisie itself openly admits that the keys to the country’s future destiny are in the hands of the Socialist Party, the policy pursued by the Right Wing headed by Turati is to divert the proletarian revolution, which is developing powerfully, into the channel of parliamentary reforms. At the present moment this internal sabotage represents the greatest menace.
Proletarians of Italy, remember the fate of Hungary, which has entered the annals of history as a terrible warning to the proletariat that in the struggle for power as well as after the conquest of power, it must stand firm on its own feet, sweeping aside all elements of indecision and hesitation and dealing mercilessly with all attempts at treachery!
The upheavals caused by the war, which has brought a profound economic crisis in its wake, have ushered in a new chapter in the labour movement of the United States as well as in the other countries of the Western Hemisphere. The liquidation of the Wilsonian bombast and falsehood is at the same time the liquidation of that American Socialism which was a mixture of pacifist illusions and high-pressure salesmanship and which served as a domesticated supplement from the left to the trade unionism of Gompers and Co. The integration of the revolutionary proletarian parties and organisations of the American continent – from Alaska to Cape Horn – into a firmly-welded American Section of the Communist International, which will stand up against the mighty enemy, US imperialism – this is the task which must and will be accomplished in the struggle against all the forces which the Dollar will mobilise in its own defence.
The governmental and semi-governmental Socialists of various countries have no lack of pretexts on which to ground the charge that the Communists by their intransigent tactics provoke the counter-revolution into action, and help it mobilise its forces. This political accusation is nothing but a belated parody of the hoary plaints of liberalism. The latter always maintained that the independent struggle of the proletariat is driving the rich into the camp of reaction. This is incontestable. If the working class refrained from encroaching upon the foundations of capitalist rule, the bourgeoisie would have no need of repressive measures. The very concept of counter-revolution would have never arisen if revolutions were not known to history. That the uprisings of the proletariat inevitably entail the organisation of the bourgeoisie for self-defence and counter-attack, simply means that the revolution is the struggle between two irreconcilable classes which can end only with the final victory of one of them.
Communism rejects with contempt the policy which consists in keeping the masses inert, in intimidating them with the bludgeon of counter-revolution.
To the disintegration and chaos of the capitalist world, whose death agony threatens to destroy all human culture, the Communist International counterposes the united struggle of the world proletariat for the abolition of private ownership of the means of production and for the reconstruction of national and world economy on the basis of a single economic plan, instituted and realised in life by a society of producers, a society of solidarity.
Rallying millions of toilers in all parts of the world round the banner of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the Soviet form of government, the Communist International purifies, builds up and organises its own ranks in the fire of the struggle.
The Communist International is the party of the revolutionary education of the world proletariat. It rejects all those organisations and groups which openly or covertly stupefy, demoralise and weaken the proletariat, exhorting it to kneel before the fetishes which are a facade for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie: legalism, democracy, national defence, etc.
Neither can the Communist International admit into its ranks those organisations which, after inscribing the dictatorship of the proletariat in their programme, continue to conduct a policy which obviously relies upon a peaceful solution of the historical crisis. Mere recognition of the Soviet system settles nothing. The Soviet form of organisation does not possess any miraculous powers. Revolutionary power lies within the proletariat itself. It is necessary for the proletariat to rise for the conquest of power – then and only then does the Soviet organisation reveal its qualities as the irreplaceable instrument in the hands of the proletariat.
The Communist International demands the expulsion from the ranks of the labour movement of all those leaders who are directly or indirectly implicated in political collaboration with the bourgeoisie, who directly or indirectly render any assistance to the bourgeoisie. We need leaders who have no other attitude toward bourgeois society than that of mortal hatred, who organise the proletariat for an irreconcilable struggle and who are ready to lead an insurgent army into the battle, who are not going to stop half-way, whatever happens, and who will not shrink from resorting to ruthless measures against all those who may try to stop them by force.
The Communist International is the world party of proletarian uprising and proletarian dictatorship. It has no aims and tasks separate and apart from those of the working class itself. The pretensions of tiny sects, each of which wants to save the working class in its own manner, are alien and hostile to the spirit of the Communist International. It does not possess any panaceas or magic formulas but bases itself on the past and present international experience of the working class; it purges that experience of all blunders and deviations; it generalises the conquests made and recognizes and adopts only such revolutionary formulas as are the formulas of mass action.
The trade union organisation, the economic and political strike, the boycott, the parliamentary and municipal elections, the parliamentary tribunal, legal and illegal agitation, auxiliary bases in the army, the co-operative, the barricade – none of the forms of organisation or of struggle created by the labour movement as it evolves is rejected by the Communist International, nor is any one of them singled out and sanctified as a panacea.
The Soviet system is not an abstract principle opposed by Communists to the principle of parliamentarianism. The Soviet system is a class apparatus which is destined to do away with parliamentarianism and to take its place during the struggle and as a result of the struggle. Waging a merciless struggle against reformism in the trade unions and against parliamentary cretinism and careerism, the Communist International at the same time condemns all sectarian summonses to leave the ranks of the multi-millioned trade union organisations or to turn one’s back upon parliamentary and municipal institutions. The Communists do not separate themselves from the masses who are being deceived and betrayed by the reformists and the patriots, but engage the latter in an irreconcilable struggle within the mass organisations and institutions established by bourgeois society, in order to overthrow them the more surely and the more quickly.
Under the aegis of the Second International the methods of class organisation and of class struggle which were almost exclusively of a legal character have turned out to be, in the last analysis, subject to the control and direction of the bourgeoisie, who use its reformist agency as a bridle on the revolutionary class; the Communist International, on the other hand, tears this bridle out of the hands of the bourgeoisie, conquers all the methods and organisations of the labour movement, unites all of them under its revolutionary leadership and through them puts before the proletariat one single goal, namely, the conquest of power for the abolition of the bourgeois state and for the establishment of a Communist society.
In all his work whether as leader of a revolutionary strike, or as organiser of underground groups, or as secretary of a trade union, or as agitator at mass meetings, whether as deputy, co-operative worker or barricade fighter, the Communist always remains true to himself as a disciplined member of the Communist Party, a zealous fighter, a mortal enemy of capitalist society, its economic foundation, its state forms, its democratic lies, its religion and its morality. He is a self-sacrificing soldier of the proletarian revolution and an indefatigable herald of the new society.
Working men and women! On this earth there is only one banner which is worth fighting and dying for. It is the banner of the Communist International!
Moscow, August 1920
The Second World Congress of the Communist International