Source: Published in Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 (https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/897-to-the-masses), pp. 1149-1163.
Translation: Translations by John Riddell
HTML Markup: David Walters & Andy Blunden for the Marxists Internet Archive, 2018
Copyright: John Riddell, 2017. Republished here with permission.
The Fourth World Congress affirms, first of all, that the resolutions of the Third World Congress:
have been fully confirmed by the course of events and the development of workers’ movement during the period between the Third and Fourth Congresses.
Based on its estimation of the world economic situation, the Third Congress was able to determine with complete certainty that capitalism, having completed its mission of developing the productive forces, had fallen into irreconcilable contradiction to the demands not only of current historical development but also of the most elementary conditions of human existence. This fundamental contradiction found expression in the last imperialist war and was itself deepened by the war, subjecting relations of production and circulation to the most severe disruption. Obsolete capitalism has reached the stage where the destructive effects of its unbridled power are crippling and demolishing the economic achievements that the proletariat has created, even within the chains of capitalist subjugation.
The overall picture of capitalist economic decline is not contradicted by the inevitable conjunctural fluctuations characteristic of the capitalist system in periods both of its rise and its decline. An improvement in economic conditions began in the second half of 1921 in the United States and to a much lesser degree in Japan and Britain, and to some extent also in other countries. The attempts of bourgeois and Social Democratic economists to interpret this as a sign of renewed capitalist stability are based in part on wilful falsification of the facts and in part on a lack of insight by these servants of capitalism.
Even before the beginning of the present industrial revival, the Third Congress predicted that such an upturn was inevitable sooner or later, and characterised it precisely, even then, as a superficial fluctuation in the basic trend of the capitalist economy’s progressive decline. We can already foresee with certainty that the present revival of industry is completely incapable of restoring the capitalist stability or even of healing the gaping wounds left from the war. Moreover, the next cyclical crisis, whose impact will coincide with the general line of capitalist decline, will reinforce every expression of this decline and thus render the revolutionary situation much more acute.
Capitalism will be subject to cyclical fluctuations until its last hour. Only the seizure of power by the proletariat and the socialist world revolution can rescue humanity from the catastrophe caused by the existence of present-day capitalism.
What capitalism is experiencing today is nothing other than its downfall. The collapse of capitalism is inevitable.
The international political situation also reflects the continuing decline of capitalism.
The problem of reparations has not yet been solved. While the Entente states hold one conference after another, Germany’s economic disintegration continues inexorably, threatening capitalism’s existence across all Central Europe. The catastrophic worsening of Germany’s economic situation will either force the Entente to give up on reparations, hastening the economic and political crisis of France, or it will lead to the creation of a German-French industrial alliance on the continent, worsening Britain’s economic situation and its position on the world market and placing Britain in political opposition to the continent.
In the Near East, the policies of the Entente have landed in complete bankruptcy. The Treaty of Sèvres was torn up by Turkish bayonets. The Greek-Turkish war and related events have graphically demonstrated how unstable the present political balance is. The spectre of a new imperialist world war was clear for all to see. After imperialist France, motivated by its competition with Britain, helped to demolish the common achievement of the Entente in the Near East, its capitalist interests are now driving it back into a common front of capitalism against the peoples of the East. In this way, capitalist France is demonstrating once again to the peoples of the Near East that only in alliance with Soviet Russia and with the support of the revolutionary proletariat of the entire world can they carry out their defensive struggle against oppression.
In the Far East the victorious Entente powers tried in Washington to revise the Versailles Treaty. Nonetheless, they succeeded only in achieving a breathing spell by reducing just one type of armaments, namely the number of large battleships, in the coming years. They reached no solution to their problem. The struggle between the United States and Japan continues, inflaming the civil war in China. The Pacific coast remains now as before a breeding-ground of major conflicts.
The example of national liberation movements in India, Egypt, Ireland, and Turkey shows that the colonial and semi-colonial countries are hotbeds of a growing revolutionary movement against the imperialist powers. They are inexhaustible reservoirs of revolutionary forces that in the present situation are objectively working against the very existence of the bourgeois world order.
The Versailles Treaty is being liquidated by events. However, it is being replaced not by a general reconciliation of capitalist states and the dismantling of imperialism, but by the creation of new contradictions, new imperialist alignments, and new armaments. The reconstruction of Europe is impossible under these circumstances. The capitalist United States does not want to sacrifice for the economic reconstruction of capitalist Europe. Vulture-like, the capitalist United States eyes the decline of capitalist Europe, of which it will be the heir. The United States will enslave capitalist Europe, unless the European working class seizes political power and sets about clearing the rubble of world war and constructing a federated Soviet republic of Europe.
Recent events in even such a small country as contemporary Austria are important as a symptom of the political situation in present-day Europe. By a stroke of the pen in Geneva, an edict of Entente imperialism – gladly welcomed by the Austrian bourgeoisie – has destroyed Austria’s celebrated democracy and replaced it by the undisguised dictatorship of an Entente agent. This democracy was the pride of the leaders of the Two-and-a-Half International. Protecting it provided them with a pretext for abandoning workers’ interests. They confided its protection to the right-wing Monarchists, the Christian Social Party, and the Greater Germany advocates, who utilised it only to re-establish their power. Even the bourgeois parliament has in fact been eliminated; its place has been taken by a bailiff appointed by the Entente bankers. After a brief and demagogic pretence at resistance, the Social Democrats have capitulated and are voluntarily helping to bring the shameful treaty to reality. They have even declared themselves ready to re-enter the coalition, in a scarcely disguised form, in order to block any resistance by the proletariat.
These events in little Austria, like the recent fascist coup in Italy, have suddenly highlighted the instability of the whole situation. They provide the best demonstration that democracy is only an illusion, representing in reality the veiled dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. And wherever it seems expedient, the bourgeoisie substitutes for this democracy the brutal face of White Guard, terrorist reaction.
At the same time the international political situation of Soviet Russia, the only country where the proletariat has defeated the bourgeoisie and held power for five years, despite enemy attacks, has become enormously stronger. In Genoa and the Hague, the capitalists of the Entente tried to force the Russian Soviet republic to abandon the nationalisation of industry, to unload on its shoulders a burden of debt, and to convert Soviet Russia into a de facto colony of the Entente. However, the proletarian state of Soviet Russia was strong enough to resist these arrogant demands.
In the chaos of capitalist’s collapsing state system, Soviet Russia stands – from the Beresina to Vladivostok, from Murmansk to the mountains of Armenia – as a growing force in Europe, the Near East, and the Far East. Despite the attempts of the capitalist world to strangle Soviet Russia with a financial blockade, it will be capable of undertaking its own economic reconstruction. It will utilise to this purpose both its own economic resources and the competition of capitalist powers with each other that will compel them to conduct separate talks with Soviet Russia. One-sixth of the world’s surface is under Soviet power. The very existence of the Soviet Republic of Russia constantly weakens bourgeois society, acting as the strongest force for world revolution. The more that Soviet Russia is restored economically, the stronger grows the influence of this outstanding revolutionary factor on international politics.
Except in Russia, the world proletariat was not able to take advantage of the weakened condition of capitalism, resulting from the war, to deliver a decisive blow. It was thus possible for the bourgeoisie, with the help of the Social Democrats, to strike down the militant revolutionary workers, consolidate their political and economic power, and begin a new offensive against the proletariat. Every effort of the bourgeoisie to get international production and distribution going again, after the upheavals of war, was carried out at the expense of the working class. A capitalist offensive against the gains of the working class, organised systematically on a world scale, has swept all countries like a whirlwind. Everywhere, without mercy, a reorganised capitalism is beating down the real wages of workers, lengthening the working day, curtailing the modest rights of workers in the factory, and, in countries with a devalued currency, forcing the destitute workers to pay for all the disasters caused in economic life by the depreciation of money.
The capitalist offensive, which has grown to enormous dimensions during the last year, is driving the working class everywhere to defensive struggles. Thousands and thousands of workers in the most important spheres of production have taken up the struggle. The struggle is being reinforced by new layers of workers who play a crucial role in economic life, such as railway workers, miners, metalworkers, state and municipal employees. So far, most of these strikes have not led to any immediate victories. But this struggle is generating among powerful layers of previously backward workers a boundless hatred for the capitalists and the state power that protects them. These struggles, forced on the proletariat, explode the policy of partnership with the employers pursued by the social reformists and trade union bureaucrats. The struggles show even the most backward layers of the proletariat that there is an obvious connection between economics and politics. Every great strike today becomes a major political event. In the process, it has become evident that the parties of the Second International and the leaders of the Amsterdam trade unions, far from providing help to the working masses in their arduous defensive struggles, are simply leaving them in the lurch and betraying them to the employers and the bourgeois governments.
One of the tasks of Communist parties is to pillory this outrageous and ongoing betrayal and to portray it through examples from the daily struggles of the working masses. It is the duty of Communist parties of every country to broaden the many economic strikes that are breaking out, to deepen them, and, when possible, to lead them toward becoming political strikes and struggles. The Communist parties have the obvious duty of strengthening these defensive struggles and the revolutionary understanding and will to struggle of the proletarian masses so that they, when sufficiently powerful, can shift from defence to attack.
As the struggle spreads, the contradictions between proletariat and bourgeoisie will inevitably become more acute. Objective conditions remain revolutionary, and even the slightest impulse can now set up major revolutionary struggles.
Closely linked with the capitalist offensive in the economic sphere is the bourgeoisie’s political offensive against the working class, expressed most blatantly by international fascism. Since increasing poverty is revolutionising the masses more and more, including the middle layers and civil servants, the bourgeoisie is now shaken in its confidence that its bureaucracy represents an absolutely compliant and sufficient tool. The bourgeoisie no longer finds the legal methods of gaining support to be sufficient. It is therefore resorting everywhere to the creation of special White Guards, which are directed against all revolutionary movements of the proletariat and more and more serve to brutally strike down every attempt of the working class to improve its conditions.
The characteristic feature of Italian fascism – the ‘classical’ fascism that for now has got the entire country in its grip – is that the fascists do not merely form narrow counter-revolutionary fighting organisations, armed to the teeth, but also attempt through social demagoguery to achieve a base among the masses – in the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie, and even certain sectors of the working class. To achieve this, they cleverly utilise the masses’ inevitable disappointment with so-called democracy for their reactionary purposes. The danger of fascism now exists in many countries: Czechoslovakia, Hungary, almost all the Balkan countries, Poland, Germany (Bavaria), Austria, the United States, and even in countries like Norway. It is also not excluded that fascism may arise in one or another form even in countries like France or Britain.
One of the most important tasks of the Communist parties is to organise resistance against international fascism. They must go at the head of the entire working class in struggle against the fascist gangs and energetically utilise, in this arena as well, the tactic of united front, in which it is indispensable to employ underground methods of organisation.
But lunatic fascist organisations are the last card in the bourgeoisie’s hand. Open rule by the White Guards works against the very foundations of bourgeois democracy. This fact convinces the broadest masses of working people that bourgeois rule is only possible through undisguised dictatorship over the proletariat.
The international political situation at this time is characterised by fascism, state of siege, and the growing wave of White terror against the working class. This does not rule out, however, the possibility that open bourgeois reaction will be replaced in very important countries by a ‘democratic-pacifist’ period. In Britain (where the Labour Party gained strength in the recent elections) and in France (the unavoidably approaching period of the so-called Left Bloc), such a ‘democratic-pacifist’ transitional period is likely and can set loose a revival of pacifist hopes in bourgeois and Social Democratic Germany. Between the present period of rule by open bourgeois reaction and the complete victory of the revolutionary proletariat, various stages and transitional episodes are possible. The Communist International and its sections must keep these possibilities in mind. It must be able to defend revolutionary positions in every situation.
Even as the capitalist offensive has driven the working class onto the defensive, a rapprochement and finally a fusion is taking place between the parties of the Centre (Independents) and the open social traitors (Social Democrats). During the period of revolutionary upsurge, even the centrists, bending to the pressure of the masses, declared for the dictatorship of the proletariat and sought to find a way to the Communist International. As the revolutionary wave ebbs, temporarily, these centrists have retreated back into the camp of Social Democracy, which inwardly they had never left. In the period of revolutionary mass struggles, they always hesitated and vacillated. Now they renounce the defensive struggle and return to the camp of the Second International, which was always consciously anti-revolutionary.
The centrist parties and the entire centrist Two-and-a-Half International are in a state of disintegration. The best of the revolutionary workers who, for the moment, stand in the camp of centrism will, with time, come over to the Communist International. In some cases this transition has already begun (Italy). On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the centrist leaders who now ally with Noske and Mussolini will become hardened counter-revolutionaries.
Objectively, the fusion of the parties of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals can only be helpful for the revolutionary workers’ movement. The illusion that there is a second revolutionary party standing outside the Communist camp will disappear. Only two groupings now remain, contending for the majority of workers: the Second International, which represents the influence of the bourgeoisie within the working class, and the Communist International, which has raised the banner of socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Without any doubt, the fusion of the parties of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals is designed to create a ‘favourable atmosphere’ for a campaign against Communists. Part of this campaign is a systematic split in the trade unions carried out by the leaders of the Amsterdam International. The Amsterdamers recoil from any struggle against the capitalist offensive, while continuing their policy of collaboration with the employers. To ensure that the Communists do not hinder this alliance with the employers, they are seeking to eliminate systematically the influence of the Communists in the trade unions. Given that the Communists, in many countries, have nonetheless already won the majority in the trade unions or are in the process of winning it, the Amsterdamers do not shrink from expulsions from or formal splits in the unions. Nothing so weakens proletarian resistance against the capitalist offensive as a split in the unions. The reformist union leaders know this well. But with the ground slipping away from under their feet, they see that their bankruptcy is imminent and unavoidable. Thus they make haste to split the unions, which are an indispensable tool of proletarian class struggle, so that the Communists will be able to inherit only fragments and splinters of the old trade union organisation. The working class has seen no such dreadful betrayal since August 1914.
Under these circumstances, the fundamental directive of the Third World Congress, ‘to establish Communist influence among the majority of the working class and to lead the decisive sectors of this class into struggle’, is still completely valid.
Even more than at the time of the Third Congress, it remains true today that given the present unstable equilibrium of bourgeois society, an acute crisis may break out at any time as a result of a major strike, a colonial uprising, a new war, or even a parliamentary crisis. But precisely for that reason, the ‘subjective’ factor – that is, the degree of self-confidence, will to struggle, and organisation of the working class and its vanguard – acquires enormous importance.
Winning the majority of the American and European working class remains, now as before, the Comintern’s central task.
In the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the Comintern has two tasks:
The need for the united front tactic flows from all these considerations. The Third Congress slogan, ‘To the masses’, is now more valid than ever. In a considerable number of countries, the struggle to build the proletarian united front is only now beginning. Only now are we beginning to overcome the difficulties associated with this tactic. France serves here as the best example: the course of events has convinced even those who were recently opposed on principle to this tactic that it absolutely must be applied. The Comintern instructs all Communist parties and groups to adhere strictly to the united front tactic, because in present circumstances it offers Communists the only sure road to winning the majority of working people.
The reformists now need a split. The Communists have a stake in uniting all working-class forces against capitalism.
Using the united front tactic enables the Communist vanguard to lead the immediate struggles of the working masses for their most vital interests. In this struggle the Communists are ready to negotiate even with the traitorous leaders of the Social Democracy and the Amsterdam leaders. The attempts of the Second International to present the united front as an organisational fusion of all ‘workers’ parties’ must of course be decisively rejected. The attempts of the Second International to utilise the concept of united front to absorb the workers’ organisations to its left (fusion of the Social-Democratic Party and the Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany) signify in reality merely an opportunity for the Social Democratic leaders to deliver new layers of the working masses over to the bourgeoisie.
The existence of independent Communist parties and their complete freedom of action with respect to the bourgeoisie and counter-revolutionary Social Democracy is a crucially important historical achievement of the proletariat, one that Communists will not under any circumstances abandon. Only the Communist parties defend the interests of the proletariat as a whole.
By no means does the united front tactic mean so-called electoral alliances at the leadership level, in pursuit of one or another parliamentary goal. The united front tactic is an initiative for united struggle of the Communists with all workers who belong to other parties and groups, with all unaligned workers, to defend the most basic vital interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie. Every struggle for the most limited immediate demand is a source of revolutionary education, for it is the experiences of struggle that will convince working people of the inevitability of revolution and the significance of communism.
A particularly important task in implementing the united front is to achieve results not just in agitation but in organisation. Not a single opportunity should be missed to create organisational footholds among the working masses themselves: factory councils, workers’ control commissions including workers of all parties and the unaligned, action committees, and so forth.
The key element in the united front tactic is and remains to bring the working masses together through agitation and organisation. The real success of the united front tactic arises from ‘below’, from the depths of the working masses themselves. However, in this process, the Communists cannot abstain from negotiating, under certain circumstances, with the leaders of opponent workers’ parties. The masses must be given ongoing and complete information on the course of these negotiations. During negotiations on a leadership level, the Communist Party’s freedom of agitation must not be compromised in any way.
Obviously, the united front tactic should be applied in different ways, depending on the specific circumstances in different countries. But in the most important capitalist countries, where the objective conditions for socialist revolution are ripe and where the Social Democratic parties, with their counter-revolutionary leadership, are consciously working to split the working class, the united front tactic will be decisive in importance for a whole period.
As a general propagandistic slogan, the workers’ government (or workers’ and peasants’ government) can be used almost everywhere. As an immediate political slogan, however, the workers’ government is most important in countries where bourgeois society is particularly unstable, where the relationship of forces between the workers’ parties and the bourgeoisie places the question of government on the agenda as a practical problem requiring immediate solution. In these countries, the slogan of the workers’ government flows unavoidably from the entire united front tactic.
The parties of the Second International attempt to ‘rescue’ the situation in these countries by advocating and achieving a coalition of the Social Democrats with bourgeois forces. Recently, some parties of the Second International (for example, in Germany) have attempted to reject open participation in such a coalition government while carrying it out in disguised form. This is simply an attempt to appease the indignant masses, a subtle betrayal of the working masses. Instead of a bourgeois-Social Democratic coalition, whether open or disguised, Communists propose the united front of all workers and a coalition of all workers’ parties, in both the economic and political arena, to struggle against the power of the bourgeoisie and ultimately to overthrow it. Through united struggle of all workers against the bourgeoisie, the entire state apparatus can pass over into the hands of the workers’ government, thus strengthening the power of the working class.
The most basic tasks of a workers’ government must consist of arming the proletariat, disarming the bourgeois counter-revolutionary organisations, introducing [workers'] control of production, shifting the main burden of taxation to the shoulders of the rich, and breaking the resistance of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie.
Such a workers’ government is possible only if it is born from the struggles of the masses themselves and is supported by militant workers’ organisations created by the most oppressed layers of the working masses. Even a workers’ government that arises from a purely parliamentary combination, that is, one that is purely parliamentary in origin, can provide the occasion for a revival of the revolutionary workers’ movement. Obviously, the birth and continued existence of a genuine workers’ government, one that pursues revolutionary policies, must result in a bitter struggle with the bourgeoisie, and possibly a civil war. Even an attempt by the proletariat to form such a workers’ government will encounter from the outset most determined resistance from the bourgeoisie. The slogan of the workers’ government thus has the potential of uniting the proletariat and unleashing revolutionary struggle.
Under certain circumstances, Communists must state their readiness to form a workers’ government with non-Communist workers’ parties and workers’ organisations. However, they should do so only if there are guarantees that the workers’ government will carry out a genuine struggle against the bourgeoisie along the lines described above. There are obvious conditions for the participation by Communists in such a government, including:
1. Participation in a workers’ government can take place only with the agreement of the Communist International.
2. Communist participants in such a government must be subject to the strictest supervision of their party.
3. The Communists participating in this workers’ government must be in very close contact with the revolutionary organisations of the masses.
4. The Communist Party must unconditionally maintain its own public identity and complete independence in agitation.
For all its great advantages, the slogan of a workers’ government also has its dangers, as does the whole united front tactic. To head off these dangers, the Communist parties must keep in mind that although every bourgeois government is also a capitalist government, not every workers’ government is truly proletarian, that is, a revolutionary instrument of proletarian power.
The Communist International must consider the following possibilities.
1. A liberal workers’ government, such as existed in Australia and may exist in Britain in the foreseeable future.
2. A Social Democratic workers’ government (Germany).
3. Government of workers and the poorer peasants. Such a possibility exists in the Balkans, Czechoslovakia, and so on.
4. A workers’ government with Communist participation.
5. A genuinely proletarian workers’ government, which in its pure form can be embodied only in the Communist Party.
Communists stand ready to march with the workers who have not yet recognised the necessity of a dictatorship of the proletariat. Communists are also ready, under certain conditions and with certain guarantees, to support a workers’ government that is not purely Communist, indeed even a merely illusory workers’ government – of course, only to the degree that it defends the workers’ interests. However, the Communists state just as plainly to the working class that without a revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie, a true workers’ government can neither be achieved nor maintained. The only type of government that can be considered a genuine workers’ government is one that is determined to take up a resolute struggle at least to achieve the workers’ most important immediate demands against the bourgeoisie. That is the only type of workers’ government in which Communists can participate.
The first two types, the illusory workers’ governments (liberal and Social Democratic), are not revolutionary governments but can, under certain circumstances, speed up the decomposition of bourgeois power. The next two types of workers’ government (workers’ and peasants’ government; Social Democratic-Communist government) do not yet signify the dictatorship of the proletariat and are not even a historically inevitable transitional stage to this dictatorship. Rather, wherever they come into being, they are an important starting point for a struggle for this dictatorship. Only the genuine workers’ government consisting of Communists (#5), represents the fully achieved dictatorship of the proletariat.
No Communist party can be regarded as a serious and solidly organised mass party unless it has firm Communist cells in the factories, mills, mines, railways, and so on. In present conditions, a systematically organised, proletarian mass movement is conceivable only if the working class and its organisations succeed in creating factory councils as the backbone of this movement. In particular, the struggle against the capitalist offensive and for control of production has no prospects unless Communists have a firm foothold in all factories, and the working class has created its own proletarian organisations of struggle there (factory councils, workers’ councils).
The congress therefore considers it one of the main tasks of all Communist parties to strengthen their roots in the factories and to support the factory council movement or take the initiative in getting it under way.
The Communist International must strive increasingly not only to structure itself organisationally as a Communist world party but, at the same time, to act as one politically. In particular, it should direct its attention to leading the necessary campaigns in entire groups of countries.
In order to carry out the united front tactic internationally and in each individual country, strict international discipline is needed, now more than ever, in the Comintern and in each of its individual sections.
The Fourth Congress categorically demands strict discipline of all its sections and members in carrying out this tactic, which can bear fruit only if carried out unanimously and systematically in every country, not only in words but also in deeds.
Agreement with the Twenty-One Conditions includes the carrying out of all the policy decisions of world congresses and the Executive, which acts on behalf of the Comintern in the periods between world congresses. The congress directs the Executive to promote and supervise the strict application of all policy decisions by all parties. Only the Comintern’s clearly defined revolutionary policies will ensure the quickest possible victory for the international proletarian revolution.
The congress decides to attach as an appendix to this resolution the December 1921 theses of the Executive on the united front, which fully and correctly explain the united front tactic.
18 December 1921
1. The international workers’ movement is at present going through an unusual transitional period, which poses important tactical problems for the Communist International as a whole as well as each of its sections.
Basically, this stage can be characterised as follows: The world economic crisis is worsening. Unemployment is growing. International capitalism has launched a systematic offensive against the workers in almost every country, expressed above all in the capitalists’ rather open efforts to reduce workers’ wages and living conditions. The bankruptcy of the Versailles Treaty is ever more obvious to the broadest layers of working people. If the international proletariat does not overthrow the bourgeois system, a new imperialist war, or even several such wars, is inevitable. The Washington Conference confirmed that eloquently.
2. The revival of reformist illusions among broad layers of workers, which arose for a whole number of reasons, is now, under the blows of reality, beginning to give way to a different mood. After the end of the imperialist slaughter, the revived ‘democratic’ and reformist illusions of the workers (both privileged workers and also those who were backward and politically inexperienced) are withering even before they have fully bloomed. The course and outcome of the Washington Conference deliberations will shake these illusions even more. Six months ago, there was some justification in speaking of a general shift of the working masses in Europe and the United States to the right. Today, by contrast, the beginning of a shift to the left is undoubtedly perceptible.
3. On the other hand, under the impact of the mounting capitalist attack, a spontaneous striving for unity has awakened among the workers, which literally cannot be restrained. It is accompanied by the gradual growth of confidence among the broad working masses in the Communists.
A steadily growing number of workers are only now beginning to fully appreciate the courage of the Communist vanguard, which threw itself into the fight for the interests of the working class at a time when the vast majority of the working masses remained indifferent or even hostile to communism. A steadily growing number of workers are now becoming convinced that only the Communists have defended the economic and political interests of the working class, under the most difficult conditions and sometimes with the greatest sacrifices. Working-class respect for and trust in its uncompromising Communist vanguard is now beginning to grow again, since even backward layers of the workers have perceived the futility of reformist hopes and understood that without struggle there is no salvation from capitalist banditry.
4. The Communist parties can and must now reap the benefits of the struggle that they previously conducted in an unfavourable environment of indifference among the masses. But as the working masses gain confidence in the Communists as uncompromising and militant working-class forces, they display, as a whole, an unprecedented longing for unity. New layers of politically less tested workers, awakened to activity, yearn to achieve the unification of all workers’ parties and even of the workers’ organisations as a whole, hoping in this way to increase their capacity of resistance against capitalism. New layers of workers, who previously often did not take an active part in political struggle, are now undertaking to test the practical plans of reformism through their own experience. Like these new layers, significant sectors of the working class that belong to the old Social-Democratic parties are no longer happy with the Social-Democratic and centrist campaign against the Communist vanguard. They are now beginning to demand an understanding with the Communists.
But at the same time, they have not yet given up their belief in the reformists. Significant layers still support the parties of the Second and Amsterdam Internationals. These working masses do not formulate their plans and strivings all that precisely, but by and large their new mood can be traced to a desire to establish a united front, attempting to bring the parties and organisations of the Second and Amsterdam Internationals into struggle together with the Communists against the capitalist attacks. To that extent, this mood is progressive. Essentially, their faith in reformism has been undermined. Given the general conditions affecting the workers’ movement today, every serious mass action, even if it starts only with immediate demands, will inevitably place more general and fundamental questions of the revolution on the agenda. The Communist vanguard can win only if new layers of workers become convinced through their own experience that reformism is an illusion and that compromise on policy is fatal.
5. When conscious and organised protest against the betrayal of the Second International’s leadership first began to germinate, these leaders had control of the entire apparatus of the workers’ organisations. They utilised the principles of unity and proletarian discipline in order to ruthlessly stifle revolutionary proletarian protest and, without encountering protest, to place the entire power of the workers’ organisations in the service of national imperialism.
Under these conditions, the revolutionary wing had to achieve freedom of agitation and propaganda, whatever the cost. That is, it had to be able to explain to the working masses this historically unprecedented betrayal, one that the parties created by these masses themselves have committed and are still committing.
6. The Communist parties of the world, having achieved organisational freedom for their intellectual influence on the working masses, must now strive everywhere to achieve unity of these masses, as broad and complete as possible, in practical action. The Amsterdam leaders and the heroes of the Second International preach this unity in words, but do the opposite in practice. After the reformist compromisers of Amsterdam failed to organisationally suppress the voice of protest and revolutionary uprising, they are now looking for a way out of the dead end that they blundered into, and they are bringing the split, disorganisation, and organisational sabotage into the struggle of the working masses. One of the most important present tasks of the Communist Party is to catch in the act and expose these new blatant forms of the old treachery.
7. However, profound internal processes are now forcing the diplomats and leaders of the Second, Two-and-a-Half, and Amsterdam Internationals themselves to push the question of unity into the foreground. For new layers of workers, inexperienced and just awakening to conscious life, the slogan of the united front represents a genuine and honest desire to unify the forces of the oppressed class against the capitalist offensive. However, for the leaders and diplomats of the Second, Two-and-a-Half, and Amsterdam Internationals, raising the slogan of unity is a new attempt to deceive the workers and lure them, in a new way, onto the old path of class collaboration. The approaching danger of a new imperialist war (Washington Conference), the growth of armaments, the new secret treaties concluded behind the scenes – all this has not induced the leaders of the Second, Two-and-a-Half, and Amsterdam Internationals to sound the alarm, in order to achieve international unity of the working class not only in words but in deeds. On the contrary, these developments will only arouse inevitable frictions and divisions inside the Second and Amsterdam Internationals, along the same fault lines that exist in the camp of the international bourgeoisie. This is inevitable, because solidarity of reformist ‘socialists’ with the bourgeoisie of their own particular country is the foundation stone of reformism.
Those are the general conditions in which the Communist International as a whole, and each of its sections, must determine their attitude to the slogan of the socialist united front.
8. Given this situation, the Executive Committee of the Communist International considers that the slogan of the International’s Third World Congress, ‘To the masses’, and the general interests of the Communist movement as a whole demand that the Communist parties and the Communist International as a whole support the slogan of the workers’ united front and take the initiative on this question. In this, the tactics of each Communist Party must be worked out specifically in accordance with the conditions of that country.
9. In Germany the Communist Party adopted the slogan of the united front at its last national conference and declared its readiness to support a unified workers’ government that is willing to mount a reasonably serious challenge to capitalist power. The Executive Committee of the Communist International considers that this decision is absolutely correct. It is confident that the Communist Party of Germany, while fully protecting its independent political positions, is capable of penetrating broader layers of workers and increasing communism’s influence among the masses. In Germany, more than in any other country, the broad masses will daily become more convinced how right the Communist vanguard was when, in the most difficult time, it did not lay down its weapons and stubbornly stressed the uselessness of the reformist remedies that were being proposed to end a crisis that only proletarian revolution can resolve. By pursuing this tactic, the party will over time draw around it all the revolutionary forces of anarchism and syndicalism that at present are abstaining from the mass struggle.
10. In France the Communist Party holds a majority among politically organised workers. The question of the united front is therefore posed in France in a somewhat different way than in other countries. But here too it is essential to place the entire responsibility for the split in the unified workers’ camp on our opponents. The revolutionary section of French syndicalism is quite rightly combating the split in the trade unions, in other words, defending working-class unity in the economic struggle against the bourgeoisie. But the workers’ struggle is not limited to the factory. Unity is also necessary against the growing wave of reaction, imperialist policies, and so on. The reformists’ and centrists’ policies, by contrast, have resulted in the split in the party and now threaten to split the union movement, showing that Jouhaux, just like Longuet, is objectively serving the cause of the bourgeoisie. The slogan of a proletarian united front in both the economic and the political struggle against the bourgeoisie remains the best means to thwart these plans for a split.
The reformist CGT led by Jouhaux, Merrheim, and company betrays the interests of the French working class. Nonetheless, the French Communists and the revolutionary forces in the French working class as a whole must, before every mass strike, revolutionary demonstration, or any other revolutionary mass action, propose to the reformists that they support this action. If they refuse to rally to the workers’ revolutionary struggle, they should be systematically exposed. This is the easiest way to win workers who are outside the party. Of course, that does not mean that the Communist Party of France should in any way restrict its independence, for example by giving any support during an election campaign to the ‘Left Bloc’ or by showing any tolerance toward vacillating Communists who are still bewailing the separation from the social patriots.
11. In Britain the reformist Labour Party has refused to allow the Communist Party to affiliate on the same basis as other workers’ organisations. Influenced by the growing mood for unity among the workers, the London workers’ organisations recently passed a resolution supporting the acceptance of the Communist Party of Britain into the Labour Party.
It goes without saying that Britain is an exception in this regard, because the British Labour Party, as a result of the unusual conditions there, is a kind of general workers’ association for the whole country. The British Communists must launch a vigorous campaign for their admission into the Labour Party. The union leaders’ recent betrayal during the coal miners’ strike, the systematic campaign by the capitalists to reduce workers’ wages, and so on – all this has led to strong ferment among the revolutionary forces of the British proletariat. The British Communists should make every effort to extend their influence into the depths of the working masses, utilising the slogan of the revolutionary united front against the capitalists.
12. In Italy the newly formed Communist Party has been bitterly and irreconcilably hostile to the reformist Socialist Party of Italy and the social traitors of the Confederation of Labour [CGL], who recently carried out open betrayal against proletarian revolution. Nonetheless, the Communist Party is beginning to conduct its agitation using the slogan of the proletarian united front against the capitalist offensive. The Executive Committee of the Communist International considers such agitation by the Italian Communists to be completely correct and asks only that it go further in this direction. The Executive Committee of the Communist International is convinced that the Communist Party of Italy, with sufficient far-sightedness, can provide the entire International with an example of militant Marxism, which pitilessly exposes at every step the treacherous half-measures of reformists and centrists (who have adopted the guise of communism), while at the same time carrying out a tireless campaign for the united front of the workers against the bourgeoisie, which should expand continually and involve larger and larger sectors of the masses.
In this process, the party must do everything possible to involve all revolutionary forces of anarchism and syndicalism in the common struggle.
13. In Czechoslovakia, where the Communist Party enjoys the support of a significant sector of politically organised workers, the tasks of Communists are in some respects similar to those of Communists in France. While strengthening its independence and eliminating the last traces of centrism, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia will also succeed in popularising the slogan of a workers’ united front against the bourgeoisie. In this way it will conclusively expose the leaders of Social Democracy and the centrists to backward workers as agents of capitalism. At the same time the Communists of Czechoslovakia must redouble their efforts to win the trade unions, which are still to a significant extent in the hands of scab leaders.
14. In Sweden the recent parliamentary elections led to a situation in which the small Communist fraction can play an important role. One of the most prominent leaders of the Second International, Branting, who is also the Swedish bourgeoisie’s prime minister, now finds himself in a situation in which, in seeking a parliamentary majority, he cannot be indifferent to the attitude of the Communist deputies. The Executive Committee of the Communist International believes that the Communist fraction in the Swedish parliament, under certain circumstances, should not refuse support to a Menshevik ministry led by Branting – following on the example of the German Communists in some of that country’s provincial governments (Thuringia). That does not imply that Sweden’s Communists should in any way limit their independence or cease to expose the character of the Menshevik government. On the contrary, when the Mensheviks increase in power, they betray the working class even more, and the Communists must increase the vigour of their efforts to expose the Mensheviks before broad layers of workers. The Communist Party must also continue efforts to draw the syndicalist workers into united struggle against the bourgeoisie.
15. In the United States, the unification of all left forces in the trade-union and political movement is under way. This gives Communists the possibility of winning influence among the broad masses of the American proletariat and of playing a central role in this unification of the Left. American Communists should form Communist groups wherever a few Communists are present. Aided by such groups, they should take the lead in the movement to unify all revolutionary forces and emphatically raise the slogan for a workers’ united front, for example in defence of the unemployed. Their main accusation against the unions led by Gompers should from now on be their refusal to take part in building a workers’ united front against the capitalists in order to defend the jobless, and so on. The Communist Party has a special task in attracting the best forces of the IWW.
16. In Switzerland our party has achieved some success along these lines. Thanks to Communist agitation for a revolutionary united front, they succeeded in forcing the trade-union bureaucracy to convene a special congress. At the congress, which is to take place soon, our comrades will be able to expose the lies of reformism and drive forward the work of achieving revolutionary unity of the proletariat.
17. In a number of other countries, the question is posed differently because of local conditions. Having explained the general line, the Executive Committee of the Communist International is confident that each Communist Party will be able to apply it in conformity with the conditions existing in its country.
18. The Executive Committee of the Communist International considers that the main condition for this work is for the Communist Party to maintain absolute autonomy and complete independence. This applies equally, unconditionally, and categorically to every Communist Party, in every country, that arrives at any kind of agreement with the parties of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals. It includes complete freedom in presenting their point of view and in criticising the opponents of communism.
While Communists should accept the discipline required for action, they must not under any conditions relinquish the right and the capacity to express, not only before and after the action but when necessary while it is under way, their opinion regarding the policies of all working-class organisations without exception. This capacity must not be surrendered under any circumstances. While supporting the slogan of the greatest possible unity of all workers’ organisations in every practical action against the united capitalists, the Communists must not abstain from putting forward their views, which are the only consistent expression of defence of the interests of the working class as a whole.
19. The Executive Committee of the Communist International considers it useful to remind all sister parties of the experiences of the Russian Bolsheviks, which is the only party so far to have succeeded in achieving victory over the bourgeoisie and in taking power into its own hands. During the fifteen years that elapsed from the appearance of Bolshevism to its victory over the bourgeoisie (1903 – 17), Bolshevism never ceased in its unremitting struggle against reformism, or Menshevism, which is the same thing. But during these fifteen years, the Bolsheviks frequently arrived at agreements with the Mensheviks.
The formal separation took place in the spring of 1905. But under the influence of a tumultuous workers’ movement, the Bolsheviks formed a common front with the Mensheviks at the end of 1905. The second formal separation from the Mensheviks took place in January 1912, and it was definitive. However, between 1905 and 1912 there were both splits and unifications and semi-unifications in the 1906 – 7 period and again in 1910. These unifications and semi-unifications took place not just in the course of the factional struggle but also under the immediate pressure of the broad working masses, who had awakened to active political life and demanded that they be given the opportunity to test through their own experience whether the Menshevik path was really fundamentally different from that of the revolution.
Before the new revolutionary movement that followed on the Lena strike, shortly before the outbreak of the imperialist war, a strong desire for unity was evident among the working masses of Russia. The leaders and diplomats of Russian Menshevism sought to utilise this striving for unity for their own purposes, in much the same way as is done by the present-day leaders of the Second, Two-and-a-Half, and Amsterdam Internationals.
The Russian Bolsheviks did not respond to the workers’ eagerness for unity by repudiating any united front. On the contrary. As a counterweight to the Menshevik leaders’ diplomatic game, the Bolsheviks advanced the slogan of ‘unity from below’, that is, unity of the working masses in the practical struggle for the workers’ demands against the capitalists. Experience has shown that this was the only correct response. And as a result of this tactic – which varied according to circumstances, time, and location – a large proportion of the best Menshevik workers were won over to communism.
20. Given that the Communist International is advancing the slogan of the workers’ united front and of agreements of individual sections with the parties and associations of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals, it cannot repudiate similar agreements on an international level. The Executive Committee of the Communist International made a proposal to the Amsterdam International regarding the campaign for famine relief for Russia. It repeatedly made such proposals in regard to the white terror and the persecution of workers in Spain and Yugoslavia. The Executive Committee of the Communist International is now making a new proposal to the Amsterdam leaders and the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals with regard to the initial work of the Washington Conference, which has shown that the international working class is threatened with a new imperialist slaughter.
So far, the leaders of the Second, Two-and-a-Half, and Amsterdam Internationals have shown through their conduct that in practice they drop the slogan of unity whenever it involves practical activity. In all such cases, the Communist International as a whole and all its sections will have the task of explaining the hypocrisy of the leaders of the Second, Two-and-a-Half, and Amsterdam Internationals, who prefer unity with the bourgeoisie to unity with the revolutionary workers. For example, they remain in the International Labour Office of the League of Nations; they are taking part in the Washington imperialist conference rather than organising the struggle against it.
However, the fact that the leaders of the Second, Two-and-a-Half, and Amsterdam Internationals reject this or that practical proposal of the Communist International will not induce us to abandon the united-front tactic, which has deep roots among the masses. We will develop it systematically and unwaveringly. In cases where a proposal for a united struggle is rejected by our opponents, it is necessary that the masses hear this, and thus learn who are the genuine destroyers of the workers’ united front. In cases where our opponents accept such a proposal, we must seek gradually to broaden the struggle and raise its intensity. In both variants, the attention of the broad working masses must be drawn to the Communists’ negotiations with other organisations, for it is necessary to interest the working masses in every stage of the struggle for the revolutionary workers’ united front.
21. In proposing this plan, the Executive Committee of the Communist International draws the sister parties’ attention to the dangers which it may entail under certain circumstances. Not every Communist Party is sufficiently developed and consolidated. They have not all broken completely with centrist and semi-centrist ideology. There are instances where it may be possible to go too far, tendencies that would genuinely mean the dissolution of Communist parties and groups into a formless united bloc. In order to apply this new tactic successfully and in the interests of communism, it is necessary that the Communist parties carrying out the policy be strongly and firmly united and that their leaderships be distinguished by ideological clarity.
22. In the groupings within the Communist International that are with greater or lesser justification termed rightist or even semi-centrist, there are without doubt tendencies of two kinds. Some forces have really not broken with the ideology and methods of the Second International, have not freed themselves from reverence to its earlier organisational strength, and are seeking semi-consciously or unconsciously a path to ideological agreement with the Second International and thus also with bourgeois society. Other forces, which struggle against formal radicalism and against the errors of the so-called ‘leftists’, seek to endow the policies of new Communist parties with more flexibility and capacity for manoeuvre, in order to enable them to win influence more quickly among the rank and file of the working masses.
Given the rapid pace of development of the Communist parties, these two tendencies appear from time to time to be in the same camp, indeed to some degree in the same grouping. The best way to reveal genuinely reformist tendencies inside the Communist parties is to implement the methods proposed here, which aim to win for Communist agitation a base in the unified mass action of the proletariat. When properly applied, this tactic contributes extraordinarily to the revolutionary consolidation of the Communist parties, both by educating through experience forces that are impatient or inclined to sectarianism and by freeing the parties of reformist ballast.
23. The workers’ united front should be understood as unity of all workers who want to fight against capitalism, including workers who still follow the anarchists or syndicalists. In many countries, such workers can assist the revolutionary struggle. Since the first days of its existence, the Communist International has followed a course of friendship with such working-class forces, who are gradually overcoming their prejudices and moving towards communism. It is all the more necessary to be attentive to them now that the united front of workers against capitalism is becoming a reality.
24. In order to finally determine the course of future work along the indicated lines, the Executive Committee of the Communist International resolves to hold in the near future a meeting of the Enlarged ECCI to include twice the usual number of delegates from each party.
25. The Executive Committee of the Communist International will closely follow every practical step taken in this difficult area of work and asks that all parties inform it of every attempt and every success in this area, giving full factual details.
1. The Russian text of this resolution, found in Béla Kun, Kommunisticheskii internatsional v dokumentakh, (Moscow: Partiinoe Izdatel’stvo, 1933), pp. 293 – 303, does not encompass the amendments to these theses (see Toward the United Front 1923, pp. 1096-1100), most of which aimed to strengthen the description of workers’ governments. (The Russian edition of the abridged proceedings, IV vsemirnyi kongress Kommunisticheskogo internatsionala, does not include the Theses on Tactics). This Kun 1933 text also served as the basis for English translations in Resolutions and Theses of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (London, Communist Party of Britain, 1923); Jane Degras, ed., The Communist International 1919-1943 (London: Oxford University Press, 1956), vol. 1, pp. 425 – 7; Alan Adler, Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congresses of the Third International (London: Ink Links, 1980) . The proceedings, however, leave no doubt that these amendments were adopted. Major discrepancies between the adopted text and the Béla Kun Russian version are noted below. There are also discrepancies between the adopted text and the version found in the German collection of congress resolutions, Thesen und Resolutionen des IV. Weltkongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale (Hamburg: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale, 1923).
2. In May 1919, the Greek army occupied the region around Izmir (Smyrna) in Turkish Anatolia, against weak resistance, and this territory was granted to Greece in August 1920 by the Treaty of Sèvres. Fighting intensified in 1920 as the Greek forces continued their advance. In January 1921, the Greek army launched an offensive into central Anatolia, seeking to overthrow the revolutionary nationalist regime in Angora (Ankara) that rejected the Sèvres treaty. The Turkish nationalist forces, led by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), repelled this offensive, defeated the Greek armies, and occupied Izmir (September 1922). Meanwhile, widespread mutinies in the Greek army forced the abdication of the king of Greece.
3. Representatives of nine governments met at the Washington Conference (12 November 1921 – 6 February 1922) to discuss naval disarmament and conflicting interests in the Pacific. The Soviet republic protested its exclusion and declared it would not be bound by conference decisions. The Comintern warned against a U.S.-British bid for world hegemony at Japan’s expense. The conference adopted a five-power agreement for naval arms limitations, which lasted until 1936.
4. Postwar Austria, as delimited by the Paris peace treaties, was economically unviable – cut off by tariff barriers from traditional markets, barred from seeking economic integration with Germany, and burdened by reparations. By 1922, the Austrian currency had collapsed; the government, deeply indebted to foreign powers, was bankrupt; and much of the population was destitute. In August 1922, Austria appealed for help to the League of Nations, which demanded in return full control of Austrian national finances. The Austrian government accepted this condition, which was embodied in a protocol adopted by an international conference in Geneva on 4 October. The League appointed a Commissioner-General to take charge of Austrian finances; control of Austria’s currency was transferred to a League-supervised bank; and eighty-four thousand public employees were dismissed. Austria obtained additional loans of US$130 million during the League’s trusteeship, which lasted until 1926.
5. Monarchists in Austria favoured restoration of the Hapsburg dynasty; the Christian Social Party was the main right-wing bourgeois party; Greater Germany advocates called for Austria’s absorption into Germany.
6. The preceding two sentences are not found in the Russian text.
7. The preceding sentence is not found in the Russian text.
8. The Genoa conference (10 April – 19 May 1922) was convened to discuss economic reconstruction in Eastern Europe, and especially measures to improve relations with Soviet Russia. The inclusion of Russia among the thirty-four invited governments was a significant gain for the Soviet republic. However, negotiations broke down over French and British insistence that Russia fully pay the debts incurred under tsarism before 1914 and fully restore nationalised foreign-owned property.
It was during the conference (16 April) that Russia and Germany signed the Rapallo Treaty to normalise relations and strengthen economic and military cooperation.
An attempt was made to overcome the Genoa deadlock at the Hague conference (26 June – 20 July 1922), with equally negative results.
9. This sentence is not found in the Russian text.
10. The Left Bloc was formed in 1899, encompassing forces that had fought against the reactionary frame-up of Dreyfus. Led by the Radical party, it united left-bourgeois and some Socialist forces in a parliamentary alliance.
11. As a minister in a Social Democratic-led government, Noske organised the military assault on the German revolutionary workers’ movement in the first months of 1919. However, unlike Mussolini, Noske did not direct his attacks against the socialist trade unions and political party, which formed his base of support. This difference came to the fore the following year, at the time of the extreme rightist ‘Kapp putsch’, when Social Democratic labour leaders initiated a general strike that overturned the military coup.
12. In August 1914, the Social Democratic and Labour parties of Germany, France, Belgium, and Britain broke their pledge to oppose imperialist war and supported the war efforts of their respective ruling classes.
13. This paragraph is not found in the Russian version.
14. The Russian version includes, at this point, the words, ‘and to combat illusions that the stage of “democratic coalition” is inevitable’.
15. In the version published: in the German collection of congress resolutions (Thesen und Resolutionen des IV. Weltkongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale), the two subheads are absent. They are also missing from the Russian version, which offers a different text for the five points that follow.
16. Beginning in 1904, the Australian Labour Party formed several national governments, which introduced some reforms but made no attempt to initiate a transition to socialism, while also defending the country’s racist ‘white Australia’ policy.
17. In Germany, the November 1918 revolution brought to power a provisional government of the SPD and USPD, which introduced some reforms, while organising a transition to bourgeois parliamentary rule. Between February 1919 and November 1922, the SPD remained in government but was now in coalition not with workers’ but with bourgeois parties. In some states, however, the SPD formed governments together with the USPD.
18. The preceding two paragraphs exist in three published: versions, which differ significantly. The Russian text is much shorter and represents an earlier draft. It is translated as follows in Adler, Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congresses of the Third International, p. 399:
“Communists are also prepared to work alongside those workers who have not yet recognised the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Accordingly Communists are also ready, in certain conditions and with certain guarantees, to support a non-Communist workers’ government. However, the Communists will still openly declare to the masses that the workers’ government can be neither won nor maintained without a revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie.
“The first two types of workers’ governments (the workers’ and peasants’ and the social-democratic/Communist governments) fall short of representing the dictatorship of the proletariat, but are still an important starting-point for the winning of this dictatorship. The complete dictatorship of the proletariat can only be a genuine workers’ government (type 5) consisting of Communists.”
The version published: in the collection of congress resolutions (Thesen und Resolutionen des IV. Weltkongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, 1923) is close to that in the congress proceedings and substantially the same as the text of the amendment adopted. The 1923 version reorders the material and also includes the following passage, not found in either of the two other published: texts:
The first two types are not revolutionary workers’ governments but, in reality, disguised coalition regimes of the bourgeoisie and anti-revolutionary workers’ leaders. Such ‘workers’ governments’ are tolerated by the bourgeoisie at critical moments, in order to deceive the proletariat regarding the true class character of the state or even, utilising the help of corrupt worker leaders, to repulse the proletariat’s revolutionary assault and to win time. Communists cannot participate in such a government. On the contrary, they must stubbornly expose to the masses the real character of such a false workers’ government. However, objectively, in the present period of capitalist decline, in which the most important task is to win the majority of the proletariat for proletarian revolution, these governments can help speed the process of decomposition of bourgeois power.
19. This point is not found in the Russian text.
20. In the September 1921 parliamentary elections in Sweden, the CP won seven seats, out of the 230 in the chamber.
21. On 4 April 1912, an attack by soldiers on striking workers in the goldfields near the Lena River in eastern Siberia killed approximately 240 miners and wounded 270. News of the massacre provoked a wave of strikes and protest meetings across Russia.
22. For example, a 19 October 1921 appeal ‘To the Workers of the World. Help the Workers of Spain and Yugoslavia’ issued by the ECCI and the RILU Executive Bureau, stated: ‘We propose to the Amsterdam International to examine and discuss, conjointly with us, the methods and forms of the organisation of an international proletarian action. We believe that the best answer to the cynic[al murders and the smashing up of the organisations [of Spain and Yugoslavia would be a blockade on the part of the proletariat and a boycott of these countries; these must be organised by all the workers’ organisations without difference of tendencies.’ In Bulletin of the Communist International, no. 4 (23 December 1921), pp. 106 – 8.