Communist International

95th Anniversary

March 4, 1919 - March 4, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minutes of the
Second Congress of the
Communist International
Petrograd, July 19 – August 7 1920

 

 

Overview

Summonsing of the Congress

Proceedings

First Session, July 19

Second Session, July 23

Third Session, July 24

Fourth Session, July 25

Fifth Session, July 28

Sixth Session, July 29

Evening Session of July 29

Seventh Session, July 30

Eighth Session, August 2

Evening Session of August 2

Ninth Session, August 3

Evening Session of August 3

Tenth Session, August 4

Evening Session of August 4

Eleventh Session, August 5

Thirteenth Session, August 6

Fifteenth Session, August 7

Documents of the Congress
Delegates to the Second World Congress

 

 

The Summoning of the Second World Congress of the Communist International

 

To all Communist Parties and groups, to all red trades unions, to all Communist women’s organisations, to all Communist youth leagues, to all workers’ organisations standing on the basis of communism, to all honest toilers!

Comrades!

The Executive Committee of the Communist International has decided to call the Second Congress of the Communist International for July 15, 1920 in Moscow.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International has proposed the following provisional draft agenda for the Second Congress.

1. Report of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.

2. Reports of the representatives of the various countries. The reports should be presented in writing.

3. The present international situation and the tasks of the Communist International.

4. The question of parliamentarism.

5. The trades unions and the factory councils.

6. The role and structure of the Communist Party before and after the conquest of power by the proletariat.

7. The national question and the colonial question.

8. The agrarian question.

9. Attitude towards the new ‘centrist’ currents that only pay lip service to the communist programme, and on the conditions for entry to the Communist International.

10. The statutes of the Communist International.

11. The question of organisation (legal and illegal organisations, women’s organisations, etc.).

12. Youth movement.

13. Elections.

14. Any Other Business.

All Communist Parties, groups and trades unions that have officially joined the Communist International and are recognised by its Executive Committee are invited to participate in the Congress with full voting rights.

Those groups and organisations that stand on the basis of the Communist International but are in opposition to the officially affiliated Communist Parties are also called upon to take part in the Congress, which will itself decide what voting rights they are to have.

All groups of revolutionary syndicalists, the branches of the IWW and other organisations with whom the Executive Committee of the Communist International has entered into relations are also called upon to take part in the Congress.

[The Industrial Workers of the World or ‘Wobblies’, the militant American industrial union founded in 1905 in the face of the AFL’s opposition to organising unskilled workers. Opposed the 1914 war and supported the Russian Revolution, and was persecuted for this, many members being arrested. Dominated by anarcho-syndicalism, it was subsequently racked by disputes over its position in relation to the American Communist movement.]

The youth leagues should not only be represented by the Executive Committee of the Youth International but also by the Communist organisations of all the individual countries.

The calling of an international conference of Communist women and an international conference of Communist youth leagues are also planned in conjunction with the impending Congress.

If it is at all possible, the first international conference of the red trades unions is also to be held in conjunction with the Congress.

All parties and organisations are called upon to send the greatest possible number of delegates to the Congress. (The question of the number of valid votes in the Congress will naturally be decided independently from the number of delegates.)

The Executive Committee of the Communist International firmly insists that all Communist Parties represented at the Congress absolutely must nominate one of their delegates as the permanent representative to the Executive Committee of the Communist International. This comrade must be able to stay for a lengthy period in Russia.

It can be seen from the draft agenda that the Congress will discuss the most important questions with which the communists of the whole world are engaged. The rapid growth of the ideas of communism throughout the whole world forces us to speed up the calling of the Congress. The Congress will give the proletarians of all countries an exact and clear answer to all the questions which are on the agenda and await an answer.

The First Congress of the Communist International raised the banner of communism. Today millions of class conscious workers throughout the world are already standing beneath this banner. Now it is no longer a matter of propaganda for communist ideas. Now the epoch dawns of the organisation of the communist proletariat and the immediate struggle for the communist revolution.

The Second International has collapsed like a house of cards. The attempts of a few ‘socialist’ diplomats to found a new bastard International that is to stand between the Second and the Communist International are simply ridiculous and find no support on the part of the workers. Separated by the military censorship, the state of siege and the slander campaign of the yellow Social Democrats and the bourgeois press, the workers of each country nevertheless stretched out to each other a fraternal hand. During the one year of its existence the Communist International has won a decisive moral victory in the working masses throughout the world. Millions and millions of workers throng to the honest international association of workers that calls itself the Communist International.

Let these ordinary workers make their parties and organisations choose once and for all; let them put an end to the unworthy game that some of the old diplomats, the ‘leaders’ are playing, in trying to hold their parties back from joining the Communist International.

Let the trade union members especially, who formally still belong to the white-guard International organised in Amsterdam by those agents of capital Legien, Albert Thomas and others,’ strive to make their workers’ organisations break with the betrayers of the Workers’ cause and send their delegates to the Congress of the Communist International.

[This refers to the reformist or ‘yellow’ International Federation of Trades Unions re-established in 1919 at Amsterdam. It comprised trade union federations of European countries for the most part dominated by reformist and centrist socialist parties and also the British Trade Union Congress. Trades unions controlled by or sympathetic to parties affiliated to the Communist International formed the Red International of Labour Unions.]

The Second Congress of the Communist International that meets on July 15 should in reality become an international congress of the working class and at the same time a congress of really convinced comrades, true followers of a really communist programme and of revolutionary communist tactics.

Let every workers’ organisation, every circle of workers, discuss the agenda proposed by the Executive Committee of the Communist International. Let the workers themselves bring in their drafts for the resolutions on the questions raised and let the whole Communist press in the coming weeks dedicate its columns to the discussion of the important problems confronting us. The preparatory work must be carried out with energy and zeal. Only if that happens will our Congress be able to draw the balance-sheet of the experience of class-conscious workers from all over the world and express the real will of communist workers of all countries.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International sends fraternal greetings to the class-conscious proletarians all over the world and summons them into the common fraternal ranks.

Long live the international Communist association of workers!

Long live the Communist International!

Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Communist International
G. Zinoviev

Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International
K. Radek.

 

 

 

First Session
July 19, 1920

 

Zinoviev: Comrades, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Communist International I declare the Second World Congress of the Communist International open. [Stormy, continuous applause, cheers. The orchestra plays the ‘Internationale’.] Comrades, our first words, the words of the workers of the whole world who are gathered here, must be dedicated to the memory of our best friends and leaders who have given their lives in the cause of the Communist International. You know that in the course of the last year there has been no country in which the blood of Communist workers and of the best leaders of the working class has not flowed. It is sufficient to recall the names of our Hungarian friends, it is sufficient to think of Comrades Leviné, Tibor Szamuely, Jogiches and many others who have followed the revolutionaries who fell at the very beginning of the German and Russian revolutions. In Finland, Estonia and Hungary hundreds and thousands of the best sons of the working class have lost their lives in this period. In opening this congress we want above all to honour the memory of our best comrades who have died for the cause of the Communist International.

I propose to the Congress that it rise in honour of the fallen comrades. [All rise. The orchestra plays the funeral march.]We want furthermore to remember today those comrades who are at the present moment languishing in the gaols of various bourgeois republics. We wish to remember our French friends, Comrades Loriot, Monatte and a number of others who were thrown into gaol shortly before the Congress. To the countless fighters of the workers’ revolution who are languishing in German, Hungarian, French, British and American gaols we send hearty greetings. The American Communist workers, who have been particularly cruelly persecuted in the last year, we shake fraternally by the hand. The Communist workers and revolutionaries in general are being literally starved out by the American bourgeoisie. Our friends there cannot find work, they are kept under lock and key. There is no cruelty that is not applied by the American bourgeoisie against the workers who are in the ranks of the Communists or the ranks of the IWW or other revolutionary organisations following the same path as the Communist International.

We express the firm conviction that the words that a French comrade spoke recently, after the arrest of Loriot, Monatte and others, will come true. He said: ‘Yes, we are living at a time when the ruling bourgeoisie, the “democrats”, and the so-called “socialists” are throwing the best leaders of the Communists into gaol; but we are convinced that the roles will soon be reversed and that the working class will soon put into gaol those who are at the moment sitting in bourgeois governments and will bring to power tomorrow those who are being thrown into gaol by the bourgeoisie today.’ [Applause.]

Comrades, it is only a year and a half since the Communist International was founded. It is completely understandable that it had above all to cross swords with the Second International, with which we entered into an immediate struggle. Both enemies and friends must recognise, faced with today’s Congress, which has become a World Congress in the literal sense of the word, faced with the fact that representatives from the whole of Europe and also from America are taking part, that our fight against the Second International has been crowned with success. Today we have a complete right to declare that the Second International has been beaten over the head by the Communist International. [Stormy applause.]

Comrades, what does this fact mean? What does it mean: ‘We have beaten the Second International'? The struggle between us and the Second International is not a struggle of two factions of one revolutionary movement, it is not a struggle of shades of opinion, not a struggle of different tendencies within a homogeneous class camp, it is in fact a struggle of classes. Certainly there are many of our class brothers in the ranks of the Second International. And irrespective of that our struggle against the Second International is not a struggle of factions within a class but something significantly greater.

The collapse of the Second International reflects the collapse of the bourgeois order itself. That is the hinge around which everything turns. We have beaten the Second International because the ‘Twilight of the Gods’ of capitalism has begun. We have beaten the Second International because nowhere in the world can the bourgeoisie execute the testament of the imperialist war, nor will it be able to do so. We have beaten the Second International because the League of Nations and the whole Entente and the entire bourgeoisie are powerless to do anything at all for the restoration of Europe’s economic life.

[The League of Nations was created by the victors of the First World War in 1919 to serve as an instrument of imperialist policy. Helped to prepare the outbreak of the Second World War. Lenin called it the ‘thieves’ kitchen’. The alliance of France, Russia and Britain that fought the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary in the First World War. It was also joined by Italy, Rumania, Portugal and the United States.]

We have beaten the Second International because the bourgeoisie is powerless to finish the tasks which stand imperiously before it and which it must solve if it does not want to take its historical departure.

Since the first shot in 1914 the Second International has tied its fate to that of the bourgeoisie. The social patriots of every country supported their ‘own’ bourgeoisie and their ‘own’ bourgeois ‘fatherland’.

So it went on until the end of the war. When it was over the Second International once more linked its fate to the bourgeoisie, this time with the group of bourgeois countries who had carried off the victory in the imperialist war.

You remember the first attempt to recreate the Second International when the imperialist bloodbath was over. You remember the conferences in Berne and Lucerne where the so-called leading part of the Second International ‘wished to be associated with’ the League of Nations. The leaders of the ‘resurrected’ Second International hung onto Wilson’s coat-tails. You remember, comrades, that at the Berne conference the Chairman, in opening this conference , greeted Wilson and set him alongside Jaures – an insult to the shade of the fallen tribune of the French workers. When the war was over the Second International wished to unite its fate with the bourgeoisie, and what is more with the section of the bourgeoisie it assumed to be the strongest – the League of Nations. That was its wish. Therefore the blows that the working class of the whole world and its vanguard, the Communist International, have dealt the bourgeoisie in the course of this year have also hit the Second International. The yellow Second International has indissolubly bound its destiny to the class that is sinking before our eyes. That is precisely why our victory over the Second International is of such great significance. It is, I repeat, not the victory of one faction of the workers’ movement over another, it is not the victory of one party over another. No, here we are concerned with something immeasurably greater: every organisation that tries to tie its destiny to the bourgeois class will itself sink. That is the historic meaning of the victory of the Communist International over the Second International. As a young class the working class is a rising star. It is rising to power while the star of the bourgeoisie, which has choked itself on the blood of the working class, is finally setting. The bourgeoisie has become decrepit and is decaying. And as the dying man grasps at the living, so the bourgeoisie clings to the half-dead Second International and strangles it in its deadly embrace. They are both perishing before our eyes. The bourgeoisie like its assistant, the yellow International, is near its end – in the historical sense a year counts as a minute – the death rattles of both are already to be heard. Soon the world will be freed from the bourgeois yoke, from all the organisations that have held the working class in spiritual imprisonment. Soon the international association of workers will be able to start calmly on the construction of a new world on the basis of communism.

Comrades, in the course of this year the idea of ‘democracy’ has faded away before our eyes and is now at its last gasp. I think that the most significant document of the first, founding Congress of the Communist International, indeed the most important document of the Communist movement in recent years generally, is the Theses on Bourgeois Democracy that were adopted by the First Congress. The workers of the whole world and the enlightened part of the peasants and the soldiers have studied them. And the course of events in the last 15 to 16 months has confirmed step by step the correctness of the analysis that the First Congress of the Communist International gave in the evaluation of bourgeois democracy contained in these Theses. When, in the eyes of the whole world, the American bourgeoisie abolished all its own laws and all constitutional guarantees for the working class – it went so far that the Communists, elected on a legal basis according to all the rules of the parliamentary art, are not allowed into parliament but thrown into prison – when America, that classical country of bourgeois democracy, step by step violated the foundations of democracy, this was a visible lesson of how very correct the Communist International was to point out in its programme and in its theses the real historical role of so-called democracy.

Comrades, we have before us the World Congress of the Communist International. At this Congress is represented the vanguard, ready for battle, of workers from all over the world. We will pose to the Congress a number of questions which at present are being disputed inside the international communist movement. We have brought to the Congress a whole number of workers’ organisations which cannot yet be called completely communist and are still crystallising. The international situation of the working class after the long war and the desperate crisis is such that many workers’ organisations are standing at the crossroads; their voice is breaking, as happens in a young man. They have not yet finally established their tactics, they have not yet chosen their final path. We have called upon to work together with us all those workers’ organisations of which we are convinced that they honestly want to fight against capitalism. We will talk to them as to our companions in struggle and in suffering, as to our class brothers who are ready together with us to give their lives for the liberation of the working class. We will not do the same as the Second International, which only knew how to laugh at and persecute revolutionaries with opinions different from their own, which showed a Janus face: to the right – a sweet smile, to the left – spitefully gaping jaws. We are firmly convinced that life educates. The imperialist war taught the workers much. The honest revolutionary elements of syndicalism, anarchism, industrialism and the shop stewards will go over to the side of communism and are already doing so. Our business is to help them to do this faster.

On the other hand there are taking part in our Congress the representatives of the USPD, the French Socialist Party and the Italian Socialist Party who only recently – finally – left the ranks of the Second International.

[The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, formed in 1916-1917 when the Social Democratic Party split. Included centrists led by Kautsky as well as the revolutionary tendency of Luxemburg and Liebknecht. After the ‘Spartacists’ formed the Communist Party in January 1919, a current developed in the USPD which favoured affiliation to the Third international. At its Halle Congress in October 1920, the USPD voted to accept the conditions for entry into the Third International and a united Communist Party was formed. The rump of the USPD continued to function as a centrist party until it returned to the SPD in 1922.

In 1919 the right-wing leadership had taken part in efforts to revive the Second International. During the war the left wing had adhered to Zimmerwald and it called for affiliation to the Third International. At the party congress in February 1920 a large majority voted against affiliation to the Second International but an equally large one voted not to affiliate immediately to the Third. At the Tours Congress a majority favoured affiliation and formed the Communist Party.

The party formally broke with the Second International in March 1919 and at its Bologna congress in October declared support for the Third International but without taking action against Turati and the right wing.]

We are glad to form a communist alliance with the honest revolutionary workers who are in the ranks of these parties.

Comrades, you know that, as the Communist International has grown stronger, about ten big old parties – I shall not list their names – have left the ranks of the Second International. Already a new stage is now beginning: we see that the old parties are not only leaving the Second International but also making immediate attempts to join the Communist International. A number of representatives of these parties are, as I have already said, present here. The Communist Congress will openly broach all the sensitive questions in front of the French and German workers. Under no circumstances will the Communist Congress permit intellectual dishonesty, nor will it make the slightest concessions on principle. The basic questions of the proletarian revolution must be posed sharply. We need clarity, clarity and once more clarity. We will not permit the Communist International simply to become a fashion. The questions on the agenda interest millions of workers. We will put in front of the German workers who belong to the USP13 and the French workers who belong to the French Socialist Party our point of view on all the acute questions of the day. We will wait until the enormous majority of the French and German workers carry out the necessary purge of their ranks and are then able to join the ranks of the Communist International, so that no one can think that this is simply ballast for the Communist International, but that they come to us in order, in common and unanimous work together with us, to carry out the fight against the bourgeoisie.

We intend to lay the Statutes of the Communist International in front of the present Congress. We assume that, just as the Communists, in order to beat the bourgeoisie in their own country, need above all a centralised, powerful, strong party cast all in one piece, so too the time has come to take in hand the creation of such an organisation on the international scale. We are fighting against the international bourgeoisie, against a world of enemies who are armed to the teeth, and we must have an iron international proletarian organisation that is able to beat the enemy everywhere, which must be able to give any one of its troops the greatest possible help at any given moment, which must elaborate the most powerful, flexible and mobile forms of organisation it possibly can in order to face fully armed the enemy it has to fight. In the draft Statutes of the Communist International we quote a sentence from the Statutes of the First International Working Men’s Association, whose leaders were Marx and Engels. In these Statutes Marx and Engels say: ‘If the struggle of the working class has not yet been crowned by success, then this is the case among other things because the workers lack international unity, tight international organisation and mutual support on an international scale.’ Indeed, comrades, that is a simple truth. But we have had to wait for over fifty years, to experience the four years of the bloodbath and all the terrors that humanity has lived through in recent times, for this simple thought not only to be grasped by a few or by individual groups, but for it to enter the flesh and blood of millions of workers. We are firmly convinced that this idea at present has really become the property of the masses. We know that, for victory over the bourgeoisie, it is necessary to make a reality of this simple, elementary idea referred to by the First International, the first International Working Men’s Association, whose traditions and principles we now adopt on many questions in order to turn them into reality. There are present here representatives of the workers and women workers of Petrograd who were the first to begin the uprising in October 1917. I say to you: comrades, today a great historical event is being accomplished in Petrograd. The Second Congress of the Communist International entered history the moment this session was opened. Keep this day in your memory. Know this: that this day is the recompense for all your privation and your courageous and steadfast struggle. Tell your children of this day and describe its significance to them! Imprint this solemn hour on your hearts!

We have a finished event before us, sublime in its simplicity. What could be simpler? The workers of the various countries unite to free themselves from the yoke of the rich. And what could at the same time be more sublime? Comrades, do you not hear the wings of victory beating? Our Earth shall be free. Wage slavery shall be abolished, communism shall triumph ...

Comrades, at the end of my speech I would like to remind you that, in a few months, fifty years will have passed since the first great historical uprising of the European working class which pointed the way for us and for you. I speak of the Paris Commune. I speak of the heroic uprising of the Paris proletariat which, despite all its weaknesses and mistakes (we shall endeavour to avoid them) contributed a golden page in the history of the international proletarian movement and showed us the way that millions of toilers are now taking.

I permit myself to express the hope that by the fiftieth Jubilee of the Paris Commune we will have the Soviet Republic in France. [Loud, stormy applause.]

Comrades, in an article that was written immediately after the founding Congress of the Communist International and carries the title The Perspectives for the International Revolution I said, somewhat over-zealously, that when perhaps only a year had passed we would have already forgotten that a struggle had been carried out in Europe for Soviet power, since this struggle in Europe would already be over and it would have carried over into the rest of the world. A bourgeois German professor has seized hold of this sentence and a few days ago I read an article in which he takes malicious pleasure in quoting this passage and saying: Soon the Second Congress will open. More than a year has passed. It does not look as if the complete victory of the Soviet power has yet come about.

Hereupon we can calmly reply to this learned bourgeois: that is how it really is; probably we allowed ourselves to be carried away; in reality not one year but probably two or three years will be needed for the whole of Europe to become a Soviet republic. But if you yourself are so modest as to regard a reprieve of a year or two as unheard – of good luck, we can only congratulate you on your modesty; and we can express the certainty that, give or take a year or two – we will hold out for a while yet – we will have the international Soviet republic whose leader will be our Communist International.

Long live the working class of the whole world! Long live the Communist International! [Continuous stormy applause.]

Zinoviev: The Congress will proceed to the election of the Presidium. Comrade Bukharin has the floor on behalf of the Executive Committee.

Bukharin: On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Communist International the following candidates are proposed for the Presidium: Levi (Germany), Rosmer (France), Serrati (Italy), Lenin and Zinoviev (Russia).

Zinoviev: Are there any other nominations for the composition of the Presidium? No. The Presidium will be made up as proposed by the Executive Committee of the Communist International: Levi (Germany), Rosmer (France), Serrati (Italy), Lenin and Zinoviev (Russia) have been elected.

Comrades, a whole number of organisations wish to greet our Congress, but we must economise on our time. On behalf of the Executive Committee I propose to give the floor to the representative of the Russian Federative Soviet Republic which today has the great good luck to welcome the Congress on to its territory, to the Chairman of the All Russian Executive Committee, Comrade Kalinin. [Applause.]

Kalinin: Comrades, on behalf of the workers and peasants of Soviet Russia I welcome the Second World Congress of the Communist International. Comrades, members of the Communist International! The Communist Party of the Bolsheviks and the Russian working class have not been pampered in the past by legality and parliamentarism. The last few decades were years of hard, direct struggle by the working class against Russian Tsarism. In this dark period the Communist Party of the Bolsheviks never lost hope that the moment was not far off when the workers would rise under their leadership and overthrow Russian Tsarism and the Russian bourgeoisie. In the last three years, comrades, the Russian working class and the Russian peasantry have made countless sacrifices, they have had to overcome monstrous difficulties and prove the ability to fight unreservedly for the ideals of humanity. And, comrades, this three-year fight has steeled the Russian working class and peasantry and taught them to stand up and fight directly for the interests of the working class. It gave us the opportunity to set up our invincible and renowned Red Army which is at the moment dealing hard blows at the enemy on the Polish Front.

Comrades, the Russian worker and even the backward Russian peasant is better enlightened by the developing struggle against the Russian bourgeoisie and international capital, in which he is participating more and more, than by books and speeches. If earlier it had to be explained to the workers and peasants in propaganda that it was necessary to overthrow the world bourgeoisie too if one wanted to overthrow the Russian bourgeoisie, it is at present clear to every Russian worker and peasant that we are not only fighting against the bourgeoisie of Russia, against the Tsarist landowners – we could have finished them off long ago, we would have had peace long since – but behind their backs stands the world counter-revolution supporting them decisively. And thus it is completely natural that the Russian working class and the mass of the Russian peasants direct their gaze with the greatest attentiveness to the oppressed classes of the West and the oppressed masses of the East. They are awaiting the moment when the oppressed classes in unity with the Russian peasants and the Russian workers will plunge into the direct struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

From the bottom of my heart I wish that the opening of the Second Congress of the Communist International may become the beginning and the pledge of the direct struggle of the oppressed masses of the East and oppressed classes of the West, of the direct struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Long live the Second Congress of the Communist International!

Zinoviev: The first item on the agenda is the report of the Executive Committee, the second is the reports of the parties concerned. The Executive Committee has decided with regard to items one and two to confine itself to distributing written reports. Some of the reports of the individual parties have been presented, some are going to be presented. Thus all delegates will be able to familiarise themselves with the written reports. We will proceed to the third item on the agenda: The current international situation and the fundamental tasks of the Communist International.

Comrade Lenin has the floor for the report. [Loud applause. All present rise and applaud. The speaker tries to speak, but the applause and cries in all languages continue. The ovation goes on for a long time.]

Lenin:

 

Comrades,

the Theses on the International Situation and the Fundamental Tasks of the Communist International have been published in all languages and offer nothing materially new (especially for the Russian comrades), for in the main they only extend a few basic features of our revolutionary experience and the lessons of our revolutionary movement to a number of Western countries, to Western Europe. For that reason I shall dwell in my report somewhat longer, even if in brief outline, on the first part of my subject, on the international situation.

The economic relations of imperialism form the basis of the international situation as it now presents itself. In the course of the twentieth century a new, highest and final stage of capitalism has taken shape. You all know of course that the most characteristic and essential feature of imperialism is the fact that capital has reached enormous dimensions. Giant monopolies have taken the place of free competition. An insignificant number of capitalists have, on occasion, been able to concentrate entire industries in their hands. These have passed into the hands of combines, cartels, syndicates and trusts, frequently international in scale. Thus entire industries, not only in individual countries but all over the world, have fallen into the hands of monopolists either in relation to finance or on the basis of property rights or with reference to production. On this basis there developed an unprecedented domination by a small number of great banks, financial tycoons and magnates who turned even the freest republics into financial monarchies. This was quite openly recognised before the war even by such by no means revolutionary writers as, for example, Lysis in France.

This domination by a handful of capitalists reached its full development when the whole globe had been divided up, not only in the sense that the various sources of raw materials and means of production had been seized by the capitalists, but also in the sense that the preliminary division of the colonies had been concluded. About forty years ago the population of the colonies was scarcely more than 250 million held in subjection by six capitalist powers. Before the war in 1914 the population in the colonies was already assessed at 600 million, and if such countries as Persia, Turkey and China, which are in the position of semi-colonies, are taken in addition, we reach the round figure of a thousand million people who are enslaved through colonial dependence by the richest, most civilised and freest countries. And you know that apart from being directly political and legal, this colonial subjection also involves a whole series of relations of financial and economic dependence and means a whole series of wars which cannot really be called wars because they so often degenerate into butchery, when European and American imperialist troops armed with the most perfected weapons of destruction slaughter the unarmed and defenceless inhabitants of the colonial countries.

It was from this division of the whole world, from this domination by the capitalist monopolies, from this universal power wielded by a very small number of great banks – from 2 to 5 in each state, no more – that the imperialist war of 1914-1918 inevitably sprang. The war was waged for the re-division of the whole world. The war was waged to decide which of the two groups of world powers – the English or the German – was to have the opportunity and the right to pillage, enslave and exploit the whole world. And you know that the war decided this question in favour of the British group. As a result of this war we have an immeasurable sharpening of all the contradictions of capitalism. At a stroke the war relegated some 250 millions of the world’s population to what amounts to colonial status, that is to say Russia, whose population is put at around 130 million, and Austro-Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria with no fewer than 120 million. 250 million people in countries which in part, Eke Germany, are among the most advanced, enlightened and cultured and stand technically at the pinnacle of modern progress. Through the Versailles Treaty the war has forced such conditions upon them that advanced nations have fallen into colonial servitude, misery, starvation, ruin and loss of rights. They are bound by the Treaty for many generations into the future and placed under circumstances such as no civilised nation has yet lived under. Thus you have a picture of the world that shows that after the war a population of at least 1,250 million is suddenly subjected to the colonial yoke, to the exploitation of a brutal capitalism. This capitalism once boasted of its love of peace, and perhaps it had some right to do so fifty years ago when the world had not yet been divided up, when the monopolies did not yet rule, when capitalism still had room for comparatively peaceful development without enormous military conflicts.

Now, after this peaceful epoch, the yoke becomes enormously more oppressive. We can already see the return to an even worse colonial and military subjugation than before. For Germany and a whole number of the defeated nations the Versailles Treaty has created conditions which make economic existence physically impossible, deprive them of rights and humiliate them.

How many nations profit from this?

In order to answer this question we must recall that the United States of America, the only country to profit fully from the war, which was transformed from a country burdened with debts into a country to which everybody owed money, has a population of no more than 100 million. The population of japan, who also made great profits by standing aside from the Euro-American conflict and seizing the enormous continent of Asia, is some 50 million. The population of Britain who, next to these countries, made the biggest profits, is about 50 million. And if we add the neutral states who also enriched themselves during the war we have in round figures 250 million.

Thus you have in a few short strokes a picture of the world as it has emerged after the imperialist war. A population of 1,250 million in enslaved colonies; countries like Persia, Turkey and China whose living bodies have been dismembered; countries defeated and turned into colonies. No more than 250 million people five in those countries that have maintained their former position, but they too have become economically dependent upon America and were, during the war, also militarily dependent upon her, for the war involved the whole world and did not permit a single state to remain really neutral. Finally we have a population of no more than 250 million in those countries in which, of course, only the ruling class, the capitalists, profited from the division of the world. The sum total, some 1,750 million people, equals the Earth’s total population. I wanted to remind you of this picture of the world since all the fundamental contradictions of capitalism, of imperialism, that lead to revolution, all the fundamental contradictions in the labour movement that have led to the bitter struggle against the Second International that the Comrade Chairman spoke of – all this is connected with the division of the world’s population.

Certainly these figures illustrate the world economy only in crude outline. And comrades, in reality exploitation by finance capital on the basis of this division of the world’s population has grown even greater.

Not only have the defeated colonial countries fallen into this state of subjugation, but also within each victorious country all the conflicts are taking sharper and sharper form, all the contradictions of capitalism are becoming more acute. I shall give a few examples to sketch what I mean.

Let us take the national debt. We know that the debts of the most important European countries grew no less than sevenfold between 1914 and 1920. I shall quote from another economic source of especially great significance. This is Keynes, the British diplomat and author of the book The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Keynes took part in the peace negotiations at Versailles on behalf of his government and observed them directly from a purely bourgeois point of view; he studied the matter thoroughly step by step; he took part in the discussions as an economist. In the process he arrived at conclusions that are more cogent, graphic and instructive than any that a revolutionary communist could draw because they are drawn by an avowed bourgeois, an implacable enemy of Bolshevism. Like the petty-bourgeois Englishman that he is, he distortedly imagines this Bolshevism to be ferocious and brutal. He has come to the conclusion that, thanks to the Treaty, Europe and the whole world are heading for bankruptcy. He has resigned. He has thrown his book in the government’s face saying: ‘What you are doing is lunacy.’ I shall quote figures from Keynes’s book which by and large show the following.

How do the reciprocal debts of the great powers relate to one another? I shall convert British pounds sterling into gold roubles at a rate of ten gold roubles to one pound sterling. And now we see that the United States has assets of 19,000 million while they have no liabilities at all. Before the war it was indebted to Britain. At the last Congress of the Communist Party of Germany, in his report of April 14, 1920, Comrade Levi correctly referred to the fact that there are now two powers in the world that can act independently: Britain and America. Only America is absolutely financially independent. Before the war it was a debtor, now it emerges as a creditor. All the other world powers are debtors. Britain is reduced to a position where her assets are 17,000 million and her liabilities are 8,000 million. She is already half-way to being a debtor. In addition these assets include some 6,000 million of these assets owed by Russia. The military supplies received by Russia during the war are counted as part of her debt. When recently Krassin, as the representative of the Russian Soviet government, had the opportunity of talking to Lloyd George on the question of the debts, he made it extremely plain to the scholars and statesmen who lead the British government that they were suffering under an illusion if they assumed they were ever going to receive any of these debts. The British diplomat Keynes has already seen through this illusion. It is not merely, or rather not at all, a question of the Russian revolutionary government being unwilling to pay the debts. No government could have paid them, as they are the usurious interest for what has already been paid twenty times over. The very same bourgeois, Keynes, who certainly has no sympathies with the Russian revolutionary movement, says: ‘It is obvious that these debts cannot be taken into account.’

In relation to France Keynes quotes figures that give assets of 3,500 millions but liabilities of 9,500 million. And this was the country of which the French themselves said that it was the world’s moneylender, for her ‘savings’ were colossal; the colonial and financial robbery that brought them a gigantic capital enabled them to lend thousands and thousands of millions, especially to Russia. Gigantic revenues were thus gained. And despite all this, despite her victory, France has fallen into the position of a debtor.

An American bourgeois source quoted by Comrade Braun. a Communist, in his book Who Must Pay the War Debts? (Leipzig 1920) determines the ratio of debts to the national wealth as follows: in England and France they form over 50 per cent of the total national wealth, in Italy the ratio is expressed as from 60 to 70 per cent and in Russia as 90 per cent. But as you know these debts do not disturb us, for we followed Keynes’s excellent advice shortly before his book appeared, and annulled all our debts. [Stormy applause.].

Here however Keynes only displays a common petty-bourgeois idiosyncrasy; in advising annulment of all debts he says that France of course will only gain by it and Britain will not lose very much since in any case there is nothing to be had from Russia. As is only fitting, America will lose, but Keynes counts on American ‘generosity’. In this respect our views diverge from those of Keynes and the rest of the petty-bourgeois pacifists. We think that if we are to manage to annul the debts we will have to put our hopes elsewhere and work in a direction other than faith in the ‘generosity’ of the capitalists.

From these few figures it is evident that the imperialist war has created a situation that is impossible even for the victorious countries. This is also indicated by the enormous disparity between wages and price rises. The Supreme Economic Council, a body that is supposed to protect the bourgeois order internationally from the rising revolution, adopted on March 8 of this year a resolution that ended with an appeal for order, industriousness and thrift, on condition, of course, that the workers remain the slaves of capital. This Supreme Economic Council, the organ of the Entente and of the whole capitalist world, presented the following summary.

On average, food prices in the United States have risen by 120 per cent while wages have only risen by 100 per cent. In Britain food prices have gone up 170 per cent, wages by 130 per cent; in France food prices by 300 per cent and wages by 60 per cent (I am quoting the figures from Comrade Braun’s pamphlet mentioned above and the Supreme Economic Council’s figures from The Times of March 10, 1920).

Clearly, under such conditions the growth of workers’ resentment. the growth of revolutionary moods and ideas and the growth of elemental mass strikes are inevitable, for the workers’ situation is becoming intolerable. The workers are convinced by experience that the capitalists have immeasurably enriched themselves in the war and are loading the burden of its costs and debts onto the workers. We recently learnt by cable that America wishes to deport another 500 Communists to Russia in order to get rid of these ‘dangerous agitators’.

If America deports not 500 but 500,000 Russian, American, Japanese and French ‘agitators’ it would make not the slightest difference, for the disparity between wages and prices, about which they can do nothing, would still remain. They can do nothing about it because private property is strictly safeguarded there, because in their country it is ‘sacred’. Only in Russia has the exploiter’s private property been abolished. The capitalists can do nothing about these disproportionate prices but the workers cannot live with the old wages. This misery cannot be fought with the old methods. No individual strikes, no parliamentary struggle, no vote can achieve anything here, for ‘private property is sacred’ and the capitalists have piled up such debts that the whole world is enslaved by a handful of people while the living conditions of the workers become more and more intolerable. There is no way out apart from the abolition of the ‘private property’ of the exploiter.

In his pamphlet Britain and the World Revolution, valuable extracts from which were published in our Bulletin of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs of February 1920, Comrade Lapinsky points out that the export prices of British coal were twice as high as expected in official industrial circles.

Things have gone so far in Lancashire that share prices have risen 400 per cent. The banks’ net profits were at least 40 to 50 per cent, and even then it should be noted that in establishing the banks’ net profits the bank directors can juggle the figures by syphoning off the lion’s share of the net profits as repayments, commissions, etc. Here too, therefore, undeniable economic facts show that a tiny handful of people have grown unbelievably wealthy, that they live in unprecedented, excessive luxury, and that at the same time the poverty of the working class is constantly growing. We must also underline the circumstance that Comrade Levi brought out very graphically in his report, that is to say the change in the value of money. Money is everywhere becoming valueless as a result of debts, the issue of paper money. etc. The same bourgeois source that I have already quoted, the statement of the Supreme Economic Council, calculated that the fall in the value of money in relation to the dollar comes to almost a third in England, two thirds in France and Italy and as much as 96 per cent in Germany.

This fact proves that the mechanism of the international capitalist economy is falling apart completely., The trading relations on which the supply of raw materials and the sale of products rest under capitalism can no longer be maintained, particularly when a single country dominates a whole number of other countries as a result of the change in the value of money. Not one of the richest countries can continue to exist and to trade, because they cannot sell their products and obtain raw materials.

Thus we see America, this richest of all countries, to which all countries are subordinate, unable either to buy or sell. And the same Keynes who waded through all the fire and the water and the confusion of the Versailles negotiations is obliged to acknowledge this impossibility despite his obstinate determination to defend capitalism, despite his hatred of Bolshevism. As I have said, I do not think that there is a single communist or any kind of revolutionary appeal that can compare in its power with Keynes’s lines where Keynes describes Wilson and ‘Wilsonism’ in practice. Wilson was the idol of the petty bourgeois and the pacifists of the Keynes variety, and of a whole number of the heroes of the Second and also of the Two-and-a-half International who swore by the ‘Fourteen Points’ and wrote ‘scholarly’ books on the ‘roots’ of Wilson’s policies, in the hope that Wilson would save the ‘social peace’, reconcile the exploiter with the exploited and bring about social reforms. Keynes has shown graphically what a fool Wilson made of himself, and how all these illusions fell to dust at the encounter with the businesslike, experienced and practical policies of capital personified by Clemenceau and Lloyd George. The working masses are seeing more and more clearly as a result of their living experience, and the learned pedants can now even read in Keynes’s book, that the ‘roots’ of Wilson’s policy were only sanctimonious, petty-bourgeois phrase-mongering and a complete inability to grasp the class struggle.

In consequence of all this, two conditions, two fundamental circumstances have arisen of iron necessity: on the one hand the impoverishment and want of the masses has risen to an unprecedented degree, and that among 1,250 million people, that is 70 per cent of the total world population. This affects the colonial countries and the dependent countries whose inhabitants have no legal rights, whose administration has been handed over to the brigands of finance as a 4 mandate’. And moreover the Versailles Treaty has enslaved the defeated nations for all eternity, just like those secret treaties affecting Russia which, it must be admitted, have the same real force as the bits of paper that say that we owe so many thousands of millions. We have the first case in history of legal backing for the plundering, enslavement, subjugation, impoverishment and starvation of 1,250 million people.

On the other hand the workers in all the creditor nations have found themselves in a situation that is intolerable. The war brought about an intolerable sharpening of all the contradictions of capitalism. This is the source of the deep revolutionary ferment that is constantly growing. For during the war men were placed under the constraint of military discipline, were driven to their deaths or threatened with summary punishment. Conditions during the war gave no opportunity to see economic realities; writers, poets, priests, the whole press dedicated themselves to the glorification of war, and it is only now, when the war is over, that the revelations begin. German imperialism is unmasked with its Brest-Litovsk Treaty, the Versailles Treaty is unmasked which was meant to be a victory for imperialism but turned out to be a defeat. Amongst other things, the example of Keynes shows us that thousands and hundreds of thousands of people from the petty bourgeoisie, from among the intellectuals, in short from the ranks of the most highly developed and educated people in Europe and America must take the same path that Keynes trod when he resigned his office and threw into his government’s face a book that unmasked it. Keynes shows what is going on in the consciousness of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people and what will go on as soon as they realise that all the speeches about a ‘war for freedom’ and so on were uninterrupted deceit, that in the final analysis only a very small number of people enriched themselves and the rest were ruined and reduced to slavery. Even the bourgeois Keynes says that it is vital for the salvation of British lives and the British economy to renew free trading relations between Germany and Russia. But how is that to be achieved? By cancelling all debts, as Keynes suggests! The learned economist Keynes is not alone in holding this idea. Millions will come to and reach this idea. And thousands of people will listen when the bourgeois economists say that there is no way out apart from cancelling the debts. And therefore ‘Damn the Bolsheviks’ (who cancelled the debts), let us appeal to America’s ‘generosity'! I think that such an economist and agitator for Bolshevism deserves to be sent a message of thanks in the name of the Congress of the Communist International.

If on the one hand the economic conditions of the masses are becoming intolerable, and if on the other hand the disintegration Keynes describes has set in and is growing in the insignificant minority of all-powerful victor nations, then we can see clearly the maturing of the two preconditions for the world revolution.

We now have before us a more or less complete picture of the whole world. We know what it means to have 1,250 million people robbed of the means of existence and dependent on a handful of the rich. But when on the other hand the League of Nations offered the nations a Covenant that declared an end to war and forbade anybody to disturb the peace, when this Covenant, the last hope of the world’s labouring masses, came into force, it was one of our greatest victories. So long as the Covenant was not in force they said: a country like Germany cannot be subjected to any special conditions. Wait until the Covenant comes out, then you will see how all will be well. And when the Covenant was published the most rabid opponents of Bolshevism had to repudiate it! When the Covenant started to become operative it became apparent that a tiny group of the richest countries Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Orlando and Wilson – had sat down to thread the new relations together. When they put the machinery of the Covenant into operation there was a complete breakdown.

We saw this in the war against Russia. Weak, ruined and crushed, a backward country, Russia proved to be the victor against the world, against the League of the richest and most powerful states dominating the whole world. We had no forces that even in the slightest degree equalled theirs, and yet we were nonetheless the victors. Why? Because there was not a shadow of unity between them, because each power worked against the other. France wanted Russia to pay her debts and threaten Germany. Britain wanted Russia to be divided up. Britain attempted to lay her hands on the Baku oilfields and conclude Treaties with the Russian border states. And among the official British documents there is a book where there are listed with the most extraordinary conscientiousness the names of all the states (there are 14 of them) who six months ago, in December 1919, promised to occupy Moscow and Petrograd. Britain based all her policies on these states, gave loans of millions to these states. Now however all these calculations have come to nothing and all the loans are gone with the wind.

Such are the conditions created by the League of Nations. Every day this Covenant exists provides splendid propaganda for Bolshevism, for the most influential supporters of the capitalist ‘order’ show that on every issue they are putting a spoke in one another’s wheels. A furious wrangle is raging between japan, England, America and France over the division of Turkey, Persia, Mesopotamia and China. The bourgeois press in these countries is full of furious invective and bitter reproaches against their allies for snapping up the booty in front of their noses. We see complete discord among the leaders of this tiny handful of the richest countries. For 1,250 million people it is impossible to live in the way that the most ‘progressive’ and civilised capitalism is trying to make them live, and that is 70 per cent of the population of the entire world. The tiny handful of the richest countries, England, America and japan (who had the opportunity to plunder the Eastern, Asiatic countries, but can have no independent financial and military power without the support of another country), these two or three countries are not able to restore order in the world economic situation and are pursuing policies which are undermining the policies of their partners and participants in the League of Nations. It is from this that the international crisis arises, and these economic roots of the crisis are the main reasons for the brilliant successes of the Communist International.

Comrades, we come now to the question of the revolutionary crisis as the basis of our revolutionary activity. But here we must deal above all with two widely-held errors. On the one hand the bourgeois economists always present this crisis, in the elegant English phrase, as mere ‘unrest’. On the other hand however revolutionaries sometimes try to prove that there is absolutely no way out of the crisis. This is a mistake. There are no absolutely hopeless situations. The bourgeoisie is behaving like an impudent robber who has lost his head; it is committing folly after folly, thus aggravating the situation and hastening its own downfall. All this is the case, but one cannot ‘prove’ that the bourgeoisie has absolutely no possibility of lulling some minority or other of the exploited by means of some small concessions or suppressing the movement or uprising of some section of the oppressed and exploited. The attempt to ‘prove’ ‘absolute’ hopelessness in advance is empty pedantry or juggling With concepts and words. Only experience can provide a real ‘proof of this or similar questions. The bourgeois order is now undergoing an exceptional revolutionary crisis all over the world. We must now ‘prove’ through the practice of the revolutionary parties that they are sufficiently conscious, that they possess sufficient organisation, links with the exploited masses, determination and understanding to utilise this crisis for a successful and victorious revolution.

The preparation of this ‘proof’ is the main reason why we have gathered here for this Congress of the Communist International.

I would like to quote the leader of the British ‘Independent’ Labour Party, Ramsay MacDonald, as an example of how strong opportunism still is in the parties which seek to join the Communist International, how far the work of many of the parties is still removed from the preparation of the revolutionary class to exploit the revolutionary crisis. In his book Parliament and Revolution, which deals with the very basic questions that concern us now, MacDonald describes the state of affairs in more or less the spirit of the bourgeois pacifists. He recognises that the revolutionary crisis exists, that the revolutionary mood is growing, that the masses of the workers sympathise with soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat (he is speaking of Britain, mark you) and that the dictatorship of the proletariat is better than the present dictatorship of the British bourgeoisie.

But MacDonald remains a thoroughgoing bourgeois pacifist and compromiser, a petty bourgeois who dreams of a government that stands above the classes. Like all the liars, sophists and pedants of the bourgeoisie, MacDonald recognises the class struggle as a fact to be written about. MacDonald is silent on the experience of Kerensky, of the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries in Russia, on the similar experiences in Hungary and Germany and so on, the experience of the formation of a ‘democratic’ government allegedly above the classes. MacDonald lulls his party and the workers who are unfortunate enough to think that this bourgeois is a socialist and that this philistine is a leader with the following words: ‘We know that all this (i.e. the revolutionary crisis, the revolutionary ferment) will pass ... will settle down.’ The war inevitably provoked the crisis, but after the war it will all ‘settle down’, if not all at once.

And the man that writes this is the leader of a party that wants to join the Communist International. We have here a revelation – all the more valuable for its extreme frankness – of what can be seen no less often in the leading layers of the French Socialist Party and the German Independent Socialist Party, and of the fact that it is not only a lack of understanding but an unwillingness to utilise the revolutionary crisis in a revolutionary way, or in other words it is a lack of understanding how and of willingness to carry out a revolutionary preparation of the Party and the class for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

This is the basic fault in many parties that have now left the Second International. For this particular reason I am spending a greater amount of time on the Theses that I have put before the Congress, in order to define if possible more exactly and more concretely the tasks of the preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

One further example. A new book against Bolshevism was recently published. Unusual numbers of such books are now appearing in Europe and America, but the more books that appear against Bolshevism the stronger and quicker sympathies for it will grow among the masses. The book I am talking about here is Otto Bauer’s Bolshevism or Social-Democracy. Here the Germans are graphically shown what precisely the Mensheviks are whose contemptible role in the Russian revolution is well enough known to workers all over the world. Otto Bauer has supplied us with a thoroughly Menshevik pamphlet although he tries to conceal his sympathy with Menshevism. It is now necessary to spread a precise knowledge of Menshevism in Europe and America, for it is the generic term for all those allegedly socialist, social-democratic and other tendencies that are hostile to and oppose Bolshevism. It would be boring if we Russians described to the Europeans what Menshevism is. Otto Bauer has really shown it in his book, and we thank in advance all those bourgeois and opportunist publishers who publish it and translate it into different languages. Bauer’s book is a useful if rather unique supplement to the text books of communism. Take any paragraph, any argument you like in Bauer’s book and you will see in it what Menshevism looks like, how it is the same fundamental outlook that the representatives of socialism, the friends of Kerensky, Scheidemann, and so on, have translated into deeds. This is a task that could usefully and successfully be set at ‘examinations’ to test whether somebody has assimilated communism. If you cannot solve this task you are not yet a communist and it would be better if you did not yet join the Communist Party. [Applause.]

Otto Bauer has expressed the essential content of international opportunism in an excellent manner in a single phrase for which, if we had a free hand in Vienna, we would erect a memorial for him while he is still alive. ‘To use force in the class struggle in modern democracy,’ says Bauer, ‘would be violating the social relationship of forces.’

No doubt you think this sounds strange and incomprehensible? Here you have an example of what Marxism can be reduced to, to what banality and defence of the exploiters revolutionary theory can be reduced. It takes the German variety of the petty-bourgeois outlook to create the ‘theory’ that the ‘social relationship of forces’ are number, organisation, place in the process of production and distribution, activity and education. If the village labourer or the urban worker commits an act of revolutionary violence against the landlord and the capitalist, this is not at all the dictatorship of the proletariat, not at all an act of violence against the exploiters and oppressors of the people. Nothing of the kind. It is ‘violating the social relationship of forces’.

Possibly my example is somewhat humorous. But by the very nature of modem opportunism its struggle against Bolshevism turns to humour. The most urgent and useful task for Europe and America is to divert the working class and all its more thoughtful members into the struggle of international Menshevism (the MacDonalds, Otto Bauers and Co.) against Bolshevism.

We must ask how the persistence of this current in Europe is to be explained and why this opportunism is stronger in Western Europe than it is here. This is the case because the more advanced countries made and make their culture possible at the expense of thousands of millions of oppressed people, because the capitalists of these countries make more profits than just from plundering the workers of their own country.

Before the war it was calculated that the three richest countries Britain, France and Germany – made from 8,000 to 10,000 million francs each year from their capital investments abroad alone, not counting what they made from other sources.

It goes without saying that alms of at least 5,000 million from this hefty sum can be thrown to the labour leaders and the labour aristocracy in all imaginable forms of bribes. The whole thing amounts to bribery anyway. It can be done in thousands of different ways: by improving the cultural facilities in the great centres, by creating educational facilities, by providing thousands of jobs and official positions for the leaders of the Co-operative Societies and the trades unions and for parliamentary leaders. And all this goes on everywhere modern civilised capitalist relations exist. These super-profits of thousands of millions form the economic basis on which opportunism in the labour movement is built. In America, Britain and France we encounter much more obstinacy on the part of the opportunist leaders, the leading layers of the working class, the aristocracy of labour. They put up the strongest opposition to the Communist movement. For that reason we must be prepared for the fact that the liberation of the European and American workers’ parties from this evil will be much more difficult than it was here. We know that since the formation of the Communist International we have already achieved enormous successes in the process of curing this disease, but we have not yet finished the job; the purging of the workers’ parties, the revolutionary parties throughout the world, from bourgeois influence, from the opportunists in their own ranks, is far from complete.

I shall not go into detail on how this should concretely be done. This is what the Theses I have already published deal with. My aim is only to point out the deep economic roots of this phenomenon. This disease is protracted, its cure has taken a long time, longer than the optimists could have hoped for. Opportunism is our main enemy. The opportunism in the upper layers of the working class is not proletarian but bourgeois socialism. The practical proof of this is the fact that the leaders who belong to the opportunist tendency inside the workers’ movement defend the bourgeoisie better than the bourgeoisie itself. Without their support the bourgeoisie could not defend itself against the workers . This is proved not only by the history of the Kerensky government in Russia but also by the democratic republic in Germany led by its social-democratic government and by Albert Thomas’s relations with his bourgeois government. It is proved by the corresponding experiences in Britain and the United States. Here is our main enemy and we have to defeat this enemy. We must go away from the Congress with the firm resolve to carry on this struggle right to the end in every party. That is our main task. In comparison with this task the correction of the mistakes of the ‘left’ trend in Communism will be an easy one. In a whole series of countries we can observe the phenomenon of anti-parliamentarism, which is less a product of the petty bourgeoisie than of a few advance guards of the working class who spread it out of contempt for the old parliamentarism, out of a justifiable, correct and downright urgently needed contempt for the behaviour of the parliamentary leaders in Britain. France, Italy, in all countries. It is necessary for the Communist International to give practical hints on this, to acquaint the comrades more fully with the Russian experience, with the significance of the really proletarian revolutionary party. Our work lies in the fulfilment of this task. But then the struggle with the faults of the proletarian movement will be a thousand times easier than the struggle with the bourgeoisie which, in the guise of the reformists, has found its way into the old parties of the Second International and carries out all their work not in the proletarian but in the bourgeois spirit.

Finally, comrades, I want to raise one more point. The Comrade Chairman has already spoken of the fact that the Congress truly deserves the name of a World Congress. I believe that it has a particular right to call itself that because there are among us not a few representatives of the revolutionary movement in the backward colonial countries. It is only a modest beginning, but the important thing is the fact that the beginning has been made. The unification of the revolutionary proletarians of the advanced capitalist nations with the revolutionary masses of the countries which have no or almost no proletariat, with the oppressed masses of the Eastern colonial countries, this unification will follow on from the present Congress. And cementing this unification – and I am convinced that we will do so depends on us. World Imperialism must fall when the revolutionary impetus of the exploited and subjugated workers inside each country defeats the opposition of the petty-bourgeois elements and the influence of the numerically small aristocracy of labour, and unites with the revolutionary pressure of the hundreds of millions of people who previously stood outside history and were only regarded as its object.

The imperialist war helped the revolution; the bourgeoisie withdrew soldiers from the colonies and the backward countries to take part in the war. The British bourgeoisie impressed upon the Indian peasants that it was their duty to defend Great Britain as soldiers against Germany. The French bourgeoisie impressed upon the soldiers from the French colonies that they, the Negroes, had to defend France. They taught them how to use arms. This is extremely useful knowledge: we can be very grateful to the bourgeoisie for it and thank them on behalf of all Russian peasants and workers and of the Russian Red Army in particular. The imperialist war dragged all the dependent peoples along with it into world history. One of our important tasks is to consider how to lay the foundation stone of the organisation of the Soviet movement in the non-capitalist countries. Soviets are possible there too; they will not be councils of workers but councils of peasants or of labouring people.

This will require a lot of work; mistakes will be inevitable; we will encounter many difficulties along this path. The main task of the Second Congress will be to work out practical guidelines so that the work, which has up to now been taking place in an unorganised way among hundreds of millions of people, can become organised, unified and systematic.

A little more than a year has passed since the First Congress of the Communist International, and in this time we have defeated the Second International. The ideas of soviets are not now spread only among the workers of the civilised countries, known to them and understood by them. Workers all over the world laugh at those super-clever people, among whom there are not a few who call themselves socialists, who learnedly or half learnedly condemn the ‘soviet system’ as the systematic Germans love to express it, or the ‘soviet idea’, as the British guild socialists love to say. This philosophising about the ‘soviet system’ or the ‘soviet idea’ not infrequently clogs the vision and the understanding of workers. But they cast this pedantic conflict aside and seize the weapon that the soviets give them. The understanding of the role and the significance of the soviets has now spread to the countries of the East.

A start has been made on the soviet movement throughout the East, throughout Asia.

The principle that the exploited should rise against their exploiters and form soviets is not too complicated. This will become clear to hundreds of millions of the oppressed and exploited masses throughout the world through the experience that we have made in two and a half years of the Soviet Republic in Russia and since the First Congress of the Communist International. If we in Russia now are not seldom forced to reach compromises and to wait, since we are weaker than the international imperialists, we nonetheless know that we are defending the interests of 1,250 million people. We are still held back by old prejudices and old ignorance, but they are disappearing by the hour. We are defending and representing more and more forcefully 70 per cent of the population of the Earth, the labouring and exploited masses. With pride we can say: at the first Congress we were only really propagandists. We sketched the basic ideas, the call to struggle to the international proletariat. We asked merely: where are the people to feel capable of taking this path? Now the advanced proletariat everywhere is on our side. Everywhere there are proletarian armies, even if they are poorly organised and in need of reorganisation. And if our comrades internationally help us to create a unified army, no shortcomings can hold us back from our intention. This work is the cause of the proletarian world revolution, the work of creating the world Soviet Republic. [Long continuous applause. The orchestra plays the ‘Internationale’.]

Zinoviev: Comrade Lenin’s speech will not be translated into the other languages during the session. The written translation of his speech will be distributed among the delegates. [Thereupon he gives the floor to Comrade Rosmer.]

Rosmer: On behalf of the French workers and peasants I give thanks for the reception, which has deeply moved all the French delegates. It was a happy thought to welcome all the delegates in Smolny in order to show here what torments and suffering the Russian proletariat had to put up with to achieve the victory we are celebrating today. Comrade Kalinin’s words when he said that it is time for the international proletariat to prove its solidarity with the Russian people have printed themselves deeply in the memory of all present. The French workers are conscious that they have not yet come actively enough to the assistance of the Russian people, partly because they did not know about their conditions, partly because they were misled by malicious propaganda, partly because they were not strong enough to translate their will into reality. Now the French delegates will have the opportunity, on their return to France, to inform the French workers and peasants about what is happening in Russia. They promise to strive with ten times more energy so that French workers and peasants will grasp that here people are fighting and dying for the common cause of the world. They promise to be more energetic in order to move the French workers to enter the ranks of proletarian action. They think it is their duty to salute particularly heartily the proletariat of red Petrograd which scattered the enemy with unusual heroism, self-sacrifice and persistence and has earned the special respect of the world proletariat.

He then proposes the text of the greeting directed to the Petrograd proletariat, which runs as follows:

To the Workers of Petrograd

Brothers, the Second World Congress of the Communist International, which is opening its sessions in red Petrograd, sends its first greetings to you Petrograd workers, women workers, Red Army men, sailors and all toilers. We delegates of the workers’ organisations of the whole world thought it was our duty to open the first session of the Congress at your home in Petrograd in order to pay the debt of respect and love to the proletariat of red Petrograd who were the first to rise against the bourgeoisie and, heroically harnessing their powers and their will, overthrew the power of capital in one of the most important fortresses of the bourgeois world.

The proletarians of all lands know how much you proletarians of Petrograd have suffered in the course of the last three years, how you have gone hungry, many of the best of your sons have died at the front in defence of the sublime cause of communism. The workers of the whole world love you particularly warmly because in the moment of the greatest danger for Petrograd and the whole Soviet Republic you never hesitated, but defended the blood-stained red flag with the lion-like courage, the fearless heroism and steadfastness of the Petrograd proletariat. The Communist International says to you: the Petrograd Commune is worthy to carry forward the cause of the Paris Commune and, avoiding its mistakes and weaknesses, to lead the proletarian battalions to victory. The Communist International is convinced that the workers will henceforward also form the best troops of the international workers’ army.

Long live the magnificent Petrograd proletariat! Long live the Communist International!

Zinoviev: The Congress wishes to turn to the Red Army of the Russian Republic with a greeting. Comrade Serrati, representative of the Italian workers, has the floor.

Serrati: On behalf of the Italian Socialist Party, which has joined the Communist International, I greet the renowned Red Army of Russia, the defender of the sublime ideal of the world proletariat. When the World War broke out, the betrayers of the Italian working class tried to persuade them to go over to the side of the bourgeoisie. At that time they spread the doctrine that the proletariat would win peace and achieve its own objectives if it had weapons in its hands. The Italian Socialist Party however repudiated these social traitors. It said that it would always fight, with or without a rifle, on the side of the working class against the bourgeoisie. And now the great Red Army has proved this by deeds. It has written in golden letters in the book of history that not only rifles but also iron are only weapons when the working class understands how to use them, when it knows that all this only serves for the conquest of the sublime ideal of the proletariat and against the bourgeoisie of the whole world. That great and famous army that is fighting and winning victory after victory, that is fighting against Wrangel in the South and Poland in the West, does not stand alone. The English workers and the Italian sailors and the German sailors in Kiel are also fighting together with it.

[The Kiel sailors had a history of revolutionary struggle in the post-war years. In November, 1918 a revolt broke out in the German navy there, spread to the army and won the support of the workers who declared a general strike. The red flag was hoisted over the ships of the fleet and a workers’ and soldiers’ council was set up. This was the signal for the spread of revolution throughout Germany.]

And wherever workers five they are preventing the weapons of death from reaching the Polish front by strikes and other means. Wherever they prove by their bloody struggle that they do not want to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie, there are defenders and supporters of the great proletarian Red Army. May the day be near when the Red Army will not consist only of Russian proletarians, but of proletarians from all over the world, the day when all the workers, united by the consciousness of the sublime ideal of socialism, will form a single great and invincible army which will defeat capitalism once and for all, put an end to everything that forms its heritage, finally liberate the proletarians of the world and the brave Red Army men from obligatory military service, and be able to free the whole world from what has always oppressed the working class, not with cannons but through the return to peaceful labour. In the name of this high idea, irrespective of the services the Red Army has already rendered to the world proletariat, I propose, on behalf of all the parties represented in the Communist International, the following greetings to the Red Army and the Red Fleet of the Russian Federative Soviet Republic.

To the Red Army and the Red Fleet of the Russian Socialist Federative Republic.

Brothers! The Second World Congress of the Communist International sends its warmest fraternal greeting to the whole Red Army, the whole Fleet, every Red troop unit from the smallest to the largest, to you, Red Army men and Red sailors, all together and to each individually – especially the comrades at the front. The labouring people of the whole world are watching with bated breath and full of love your fight against the capitalists and the landlords, the Tsarist Generals and the imperialists.

The workers of the whole world have lived through your defeats with you and celebrate your victories together with you. The labouring population of the whole world is following full of enthusiasm how, at the cost of great exertions, you have beaten Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich and Miller, and how you have put to shame the swindles of the English and French capitalists.

The Second World Congress of the Communist International greets most warmly the Red Army that is at the present moment fighting on the Western and South-Western front against the White Polish ‘Pans’ who were sent by the bourgeoisie of the Entente to strangle the Russian Soviet Republic of workers and peasants.

Brothers in the Red Army, know this: that your war against the Polish ‘Pans’ is the most just war that history has ever known. You are not only fighting for the interests of Soviet Russia but also for the interests of the whole of labouring humanity, for the Communist International.

The labouring masses cannot destroy the yoke of the rich and of wage slavery other than weapons in hand. You were the first to turn your weapons against the oppressors. You were the first to create a mighty and disciplined Red Army of workers and peasants. You were the first to point the way to all the oppressed and exploited people of the world. For this the proletarians of all lands bless you.

The Communist International knows that your victories over the enemies of the workers and peasants were bought with countless sacrifices and privations.

We know that you do not spare yourselves. We know that many of the best sons of the Red Army have sacrificed their lives for our cause. Your heroic courage will never be forgotten in history. Comrades, know this: that the Red Army is at present one of the main forces in world history. Know this: that you are no longer alone. The labouring people of the whole world are on your side. The time is near when the international Red Army will be created.

Long live the great, invincible Red Army!

Long live the Army of the Communist International!

Zinoviev: The Congress intends to direct a special appeal to all the workers of the world concerning a section of our troops who are in an especially difficult position and are making enormous sacrifices. I am speaking of the Hungarian proletariat. The representative of the Austrian Communists, Comrade Steinhardt, has the floor.

Steinhardt: Comrades, when, in March last year, the First Congress of the Communist International was ending and directly following it the Eighth Party Congress of the Communist Party of Russia was beginning, we received in Moscow a telegram from Comrade Bela Kun in which he reported that the Hungarian workers had taken power into their hands and that the Hungarian Soviet Republic had been set up.

This news filled us, it is true, with great joy, but at the same time we viewed with some concern the immediate circumstances under which this great event had taken place. For Soviet power had not been conquered in Hungary through years and years of bloody struggle against the bourgeoisie, but power had been taken over from the bourgeoisie without a struggle, and that with comrades in arms who were known in the International as the most backward layers of the Social Democratic Parties of any country, that is to say with the Hungarian Social Democrats. What we feared did in fact happen.

From the very first days the Hungarian Social Democrats, who had amalgamated with the Communist Party, were saboteurs. This amalgamation was the Hungarian Communist Party’s greatest mistake. The organs of the trades unions committed sabotage, the bourgeoisie, international capital, all united to overthrow the Hungarian Soviet government. The inevitable happened. Threatened by the Rumanians, those boyars, those libertines; hard pressed by the English mercenaries who, in the name of Horthy, have covered themselves in eternal shame throughout history; threatened by Czechoslovakia in the North; with no support from German Austria because the Social Democracy in German Austria has declared war on us, and with no support from Germany, the Soviet government was forced from the very first days to carry out a desperate struggle. But, comrades, despite all this it was a great event, for, for the first time, there arose a Soviet Republic in the midst of the Western capitalist countries, in the midst of the enemy camp. In the eyes of the capitalists, that was a crime that had to be expiated by all the means in their power. It is repugnant even to express what kind of bestialities have been taking place in Hungary in the last year. Nothing can be more inhuman than what is being done to the workers, completely irrespective of whether they are Communists, Social Democrats or even Christian Socialists, by Horthy’s bands. As a result, Hungary stands completely defence less. On this historical spot, at this extraordinarily historical hour, it is the duty of the Communist International to raise a protest, and not only a protest in words, but a protest of powerful deeds, against these bands of Horthy’s.

In just the same way as the workers in Czechoslovakia have united in order to send not a weapon, not a single wagon-load of war material to Poland, in just the same way as in German Austria and Germany our Workers Councils have united so that not a single wagon-load is sent against Soviet Russia, so we must unite so that, together with our brothers, we can quickly turn Horthy’s Hungary once more into Soviet Hungary, a civilised country. Comrades, I therefore ask you to adopt the following appeal to all workers unanimously and without debate, and to act in accordance with it at every hour in every country. For that, comrades, is what matters.

To the Workers of all Countries.

Working men and women!

In the days when Soviet Russia is victoriously repulsing the attack of the criminal clique of Polish aristocrats, when all over the world the wave of workers’ indignation is rising against the capitalist governments, when the revolutionary proletariat, at the Congress of the Communist International, is carrying out the unification of a workers’ army of many millions of heads, there is a country that is covered with the corpses of the best revolutionaries. This country is Hungary. International capital, that repulsive and base monstrosity, has slain the young Hungarian Soviet Republic. All the powers of the old world had united in the campaign against it: the professional murderers in generals’ tunics and the Christian priests, the London bankers and the aristocratic scum of Rumania, the French profiteers and the social traitors of every country, the black mercenaries and the ‘civilized’ men of culture. Surrounded on all sides, its arms and legs broken, the Hungarian Soviet Republic died amidst the terrible tortures of the Golgotha of counter-revolution to rise again as soon as we can rush to its assistance. This bestial counter-revolution, led by the scum of officer gangs of the English hireling Admiral Horthy, is now dancing its detestable dance on the corpses of the workers. There is no cruelty, no baseness, no bestial cynicism that the unrestrained violence of the Christian ‘order’ of the generals has not used. Thousands have been hanged and shot, tens of thousands thrown into prison, slain, murdered by stealth, thrown into the sewers, vanished without trace, robbed, raped, crippled by torture – this is the order that has been restored by the democratic ‘League of Nations’ with the help of the heroes of the Second International. ‘Woe to the conquered!’ cries the English Colonel – and shoots down the communist worker. ‘Woe to

the conquered!’ cries the brutish landowner, and rapes a working-class woman. ‘Woe to the conquered!’ cries the White Guard prison warder and puts the worker who has not yet been put under the soil behind lock and key.

Working men and women!

In the hour when we hear the bones of the defeated Hungarian proletariat grinding, you have the duty to raise your voice and to check the criminal hand of the bourgeois hangmen who flay people alive, force them to eat human excrement, rape women and slit open the bellies of women communists.

Even the lackeys of capital, the heroes of the social-patriotic Amsterdam trades union International, have, frightened by their own baseness, boycotted White Hungary. And its Commission has established thousands of piratical misdeeds by the Hungarian government and the whole Horthy gang. And thus they are traitors enough to betray even their own treachery.

In the name of millions of workers on the threshold of world war against capital, the Communist International at its World Congress directs to the whole proletariat the appeal:

– All rise to fight the executioners of Hungary!

– Stop the munition trains! Blow up all military transport that is heading for Horthy’s Hungary!

– Render harmless the officers who are rushing to the murder of workers!

– Disorganise the production of all arms without exception by a mighty wave of rotating strikes! Arm only yourselves! Make every effort in word and deed to disrupt the armies of imperialism. Surround the land of murderers and butchers with a wall of hatred!

Workers! If you remain indifferent you yourselves will be the hangmen’s assistants!

Join the ranks of the fighters! Save your proletarian honour! Save the suffering Hungarian proletariat!

Hungarian workers! Take courage! The proletariat of the whole world is with you. The Communist International sends you the expressions of its fraternal love.

Soviet Hungary is dead! Long live Soviet Hungary!

Marchlewski: Permit me to describe here the situation in Poland. The Russian workers know that in the years 1905-1906 the Polish revolutionary workers were the pioneers of the revolution against Russian Tsarism. Regardless of the fact that the cause of the liberation of the Polish state – only, it must be admitted, an apparent liberation, since this state is a tool of the Entente – regardless of the fact that the removal of the yoke under which the Polish people groaned was the cause of the revolution, the Polish workers have not understood how to exploit this fortunate conjunction of conditions. The thing is that the European war, the imperialist war, has scattered the Polish proletariat in all directions. Hundreds of thousands of Polish workers were driven towards Russia, hundreds of thousands were driven towards Germany. For that reason imposters, those gentlemen who only have petty-bourgeois layers behind them, were able to seize power and thereupon, with the help of the Entente, form powerful forces for the struggle against Soviet Russia. From the very first moment the Polish Communists have fought against this crime, and this fight has cost much blood. You know that the attack on Russia began with a shameful, scandalous murder committed by the Polish Gendarmes on the Red Cross mission that was led by one of our best, Comrade Wesselowski. You have read that the excesses committed in Poland against the communists are equalled only in Hungary. You know that there our social traitors – Daszinski and his consorts who are, if possible, even more questionable than the Russian Mensheviks and the German Scheidemanns – work in league with the bourgeoisie. But now the hour has come when the Polish proletariat will see clearly, when the imperialist stupor which had seized a part of the Polish working class will be put aside; and now, with the Red Army advancing and helping to destroy that force that has up to now ruled over Poland, we entertain the firm hope that the cause of the Polish revolution will make rapid progress. But comrades, we must be mindful of the fact that we have a serious matter before us, we must consider that Lord Curzon’s impudent act, which the Soviet government had to reject, contains threats.

[This refers to the ‘Curzon note’ of July 11, 1920, which proposed that the Soviet Union should hand over the Crimea to Baron Wrangel, the pro-British counter-revolutionary. The same note proposed British mediation in the war in Poland.]

Perhaps the English and French armies will not rush to the assistance of White Guard Poland against the Polish revolution and Soviet Russia; but our enemies will endeavour to stir up the Rumanian army against us and perhaps that army that Herr Noske has already organised for them. And therefore, comrades, we must remember the fact that we distinguish ourselves from the Second International, and that we do not wish to be an International of words, but an International of deeds. It is your duty to help to end this criminal war quickly. And then, as I have not the slightest doubt, the hordes of the bourgeoisie that are menacing us will end as all previous armies have ended who suffered defeats. When the Russian, German and Austrian armies suffered defeats they became revolutionary. The same will happen in Poland too, and then the Polish Soviet Republic will triumph. We will, however, have to struggle hard still for this fight, for this victory. We Polish Communists swear to you that we will not back down, and we ask for your support, comrades.

Zinoviev: The Congress intends to issue a political manifesto on this important question. I give the floor to the delegate of the German Communists, Comrade Levi.

Levi: Comrade Serrati has just eloquently described the feelings that the European proletariat and the proletariat of the world have towards the Red Army. You applauded his words enthusiastically, and I must say I am amazed that you still applaud when the feelings of the European proletariat are reported to you. For the feelings of the European proletariat for the Russian Revolution and for the Red Army have long been the same. And despite all their feelings, it was European, it was German proletarians who imposed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on Russia, and it was German proletarians who marched through the Baltic region and beat down the revolution in the Ukraine and Southern Russia. For the German and for the European proletariat however the hour will now come when it must show that it is able to go beyond feelings of sympathy to what alone can help the Russian Revolution – to the living deed.

At this very moment the Red troops are advancing further and further into Poland, and approaching Warsaw. But this is the first time, here in Poland , that the Red Army has measured itself eye to eye with European imperialism. What it previously fought – the Denikins, Yudeniches and Kolchaks – were only very miserable hired executioners. But around Poland is grouped the European reaction. In general Poland is not simply a wandering mercenary of the Entente but a buttress of European imperialism. Here then the forces are measured the one against the other and here the European proletarians must show how much they grasp and how far they are able to beat not only the Polish bourgeoisie but Polish capitalism too, to beat and beat it until it breaks. Here waits the first common task on which the proletarians of all countries must work together. And in this sense we propose that you issue the following appeal from this spot on which today the eyes of the proletarians of all the world are turned:

To the Working Men and Women of all Countries!

The Second World Congress of the Communist International is meeting at a time when White Poland, the bulwark of international capitalist reaction, is collapsing under the heavy blows of the Red Army of Russian workers and peasants. What all revolutionary workers and women workers keenly desire has been fulfilled.

The Russian workers and peasants stood against the impudent Polish White Guards with the same force with which they rose up to overthrow the Russian counter-revolution, the armies of Yudenich, Kolchak and Denikin. The Polish capitalists and junkers who spurned Soviet Russia’s peace proposals and, in the hope of help from international capital and in the conviction that Soviet Russia had used up all its strength in the fight against the counter-revolution, flung their troops at Soviet Russia, are now faced with a great military defeat.

Their armies are pouring panic-stricken back out of the Ukraine and White Russia and the armies of Soviet Russia are in hot pursuit. The bandits of international capital, the Polish junkers and capitalists, are now raising a great lamentation that Poland is in great danger.

They are turning to the governments of the capitalist countries with requests for the quickest possible help if European civilisation is not to be annihilated by the barbarians of the Russian Revolution, and we see how the English government, which armed the Poles for their criminal campaign against Soviet Russia, refused, together with its allies, to hold Poland back when Soviet Russia proposed negotiations on April 8 in London. We see that that very same capitalist England impudently threatens Soviet Russia with a new attack organised by the allies, ‘if Soviet Russia does not conclude a cease-fire with the Polish invaders. The profiteers of international capital, who have played with the destiny of nations like chess-pieces, are now playing at being the defenders of independent Poland. The French government which, even in 1917, was prepared to hand Poland over to Russian Tsarism if in return it would recognise the claims of French imperialism to the left bank of the Rhine; the English government which on many occasions during the war confidentially announced to the German government through its agents that it would hand over Poland to the Central Powers if only German imperialism would give up Belgium, from whence England could be threatened; all these traders in human flesh are now screaming that Poland’s independence is being threatened by Soviet Russia, and are seeking by this slogan to prepare world public opinion for a new campaign against the Russian workers and peasants.

Working men and women of the world! We do not need to tell you that Soviet Russia has not the slightest intention of planning conquest against the Polish people. Soviet Russia is defending the independence of Poland against the attacks of the hangmen of the Polish people, against the attacks of the Hoffmanns and the Beselers. Soviet Russia was even prepared to sign a treaty with the Polish capitalists not only recognising the independence of Poland but even granting it large frontier zones, in order only to achieve peace. Soviet Russia numbers in her ranks thousands of brave Polish fighters. Soviet Russia is most closely tied to the masses of Polish workers by decades of common struggle. The right of the Polish people to self determination is for Soviet Russia a holy, inviolable right, and if there was not a single soldier who would defend Poland, Polish sod would remain the property of the Polish people, and the Polish people would be able to decide freely its own destiny.

But as long as the clique of capitalist and junker adventurers, who thrust Poland into the criminal adventure of war, rule in Poland. as long as the Entente capitalists provide Poland with arms, the Soviet Union is involved in a defensive war. If today Soviet Russia gives the Polish White Guards a breathing space, if Soviet Russia allows them to reorganise their beaten army and re-arm it with the help of the Entente, Soviet Russia will tomorrow be obliged once more to call hundreds of thousands of her best sons from the land and from the workshop and send them into the field for a new defensive war.

Working men and women! If the international capitalist rabble is screaming about the threat to the independence of Poland in order to prepare a new campaign against Soviet Russia, you should know one thing: your slave-owners are terrified that one of the pillars of their rule, of their international system of reaction, exploitation and enserfment is collapsing; they are afraid that, if White Guard Poland collapses under the blows of the Red Army and the Polish workers seize power, it will be easier for the German, Austrian, Italian and French workers to free themselves from their exploiters, and that then the English and American workers will follow. If the capitalist rabble wails and rages over the threat to Polish independence, they do it out of fear that your serfdom, your dependence, working men and women, could give way to liberation from the chains of capitalist enslavement. Therefore it is the task of the proletarians of every country to do everything to prevent the governments of England, France, America and Italy from giving any kind of help to the Polish White Guards. Proletarians of the Entente countries! Your governments will continue to lie, they will continue as before to claim that they are not supporting Poland. It is your duty to stand guard at every port and at every frontier so that not a single train and not a single ship with food or with weapons sets off for Poland. Stand guard, do not let yourselves be tricked by false declarations of the purpose of the consignment. They can also be sent indirectly to Poland, and where the government or the private capitalists do not heed your protests, go on strike, lend a hand, for under no circumstances can you help the Polish junkers and capitalists to slaughter your Russian brothers.

German proletarians! If White Guard Poland collapses the Entente capitalists will sign peace with the German generals, with the German capitalists; it will help them to arm great mercenary armies; with these armies it will beat down the German proletariat in order to turn Germany into the base for the struggle against Soviet Russia; it will not hesitate to knock Germany into ruins in order to make it into a rampart for the fight against Soviet Russia and Soviet Poland. Working men and women of Germany! The hour has struck when you can make a reality of what you have commended on thousands of occasions on great demonstrations: standing by your Russian brothers and fighting alongside them for your freedom. Do not allow any attempts to support White Guard Poland to be undertaken, do not permit any new recruitment of mercenaries on German soil. Keep all railway trains heading east under the strictest supervision, keep Danzig under the strictest supervision and do everything that the situation demands. Not a single wagon, not a single ship may go from Germany to Poland.

Proletarians of all other countries! Remember: the enemy is now white Poland. To annihilate it is now the task of the hour.

Proletarians of all countries! Consider this: Now you cannot permit yourselves to be led astray by the phrases of treacherous or wavering workers’ leaders or deluded by any promises by your governments. Now is the time to act, now is the time to gather all your forces to blockade White Guard Poland, to gather all your forces to turn the solidarity of the international proletariat with Soviet Russia into a reality.

Working men and women! Your solidarity with Soviet Russia is your solidarity with the Polish proletarians. Under the leadership of the Communist Party the Polish proletariat has fought uninterruptedly against the war with Soviet Russia. Poland’s prisons are full of our Polish brothers, with the communists of Poland. The defeats of the Polish White Guards have awoken the greatest enthusiasm in the hearts of the Polish workers. The Polish workers are seeking to use the defeats of their exploiters to finish off their weakened class enemy, to unite with the Russian workers in a common fight for liberation.

The blockade of Poland is direct help for the liberation struggle of the Polish workers, it is the way to free Poland from the chains with which it is riveted to the chariot of the victorious capitalists of London and France, for it to develop into an independent republic of workers and peasants.

The Second World Congress of the Communist International calls on you, workers and women workers of every country: take to the streets and show your government that you are not willing to permit any aid at all to White Poland, any intervention at all against Soviet Russia. Stop every job, paralyse all transport if you see that, despite our protests, the capitalist clique in your country is preparing a new intervention against Soviet Russia! Let not a single train or ship through to Poland! Show that proletarian solidarity exists in deeds and not just in words!

Long live Soviet Russia! Long live the Red Army of Russian workers and peasants! Down with White Poland! Down with intervention! Long live Soviet Poland!

This is the deed that we call on every proletarian in the world to perform, and ‘Russia expects that every man will do his duty.’

Thereupon voting takes place on the four greetings, which are all adopted. The first session of the Congress is closed.

 

 

 

Second Session
July 23

 

Lenin opens the session Serrati has the floor to read out the Standing Orders:

1. The full sessions of the Congress take place between 11 and 3 o'clock and 6 and 9 o'clock.

2. Main speakers will have one hour to present their reports and will receive in addition one half hour to reply to discussion.

3. The same time will be available for the presentation of minority reports.

4. Speakers who raise points on standing orders will have two minutes in which to speak. They may do so only once.

5. Each delegate may speak twice on each question (the first time for ten minutes and the second time for five minutes)

6. Requests to speak must be handed in in writing.

7. Votes on any particular issue will take place on the request of three delegations with full voting rights.

8. Every motion (including motions on Standing Orders) must be placed in writing before the Bureau (in one of the two official languages). The mover will not be allowed to speak until this formality has been carried out.

 

Serrati reads out the agenda proposed by the Bureau.

1. The role and structure of the Communist Party before and after the conquest of power by the proletariat.

2. The trades unions and the works councils.

3. The question of parliamentarism.

4. The national and colonial questions.

5. The agrarian question.

6. Attitude to the new ‘centrist’ currents and conditions for entry into the Communist International.

7. Statutes of the Communist International.

8. The question of organisation (legal and illegal organisations, women’s organisations etc.)

9. The youth movement.

10. Elections.

11. Any Other Business.

 

Reed: On behalf of 29 Comrades I propose changing the agenda to read as follows: 1. On the role of the Communist Party in the revolution; 2. Parliamentarism; 3. The trade union question. This is a very important matter for us. We must discuss the trade union question very thoroughly and have time to translate and study all the material on it. I move that English should be permitted as an official language in the discussion on this question.

Serrati: On behalf of the Bureau I ask the Congress to reject this motion. The comrades who today are demanding that the trade union question should be dealt with as the third item on the agenda were at first demanding that it should be dealt with first. The Executive Committee was fully conscious of the situation when it drew up the agenda. As far as the question of official languages is concerned we declare that we cannot permit English as an official language as this would make the debates too difficult. The English comrades can as it is speak English and everything will be done to provide an immediate translation.

 

Comrade Reed’s motion is put to the vote. It is rejected by a majority of 14 votes

Comrade Zinoviev has the floor on the question of the role and structure of the Communist Party before and after the conquest of power by the proletariat.

Zinoviev: Comrades, I must unfortunately discuss a question that is somewhat complicated in a language of which I do not have a thorough command. Exhaustive Theses on this question in all four languages are however available and I can therefore limit my present remarks to some of the more important of these theses.

We live at a time when all values are being re-evaluated and in which in many quarters such a question as the role and even the necessity of the party is being denied. It is very strange that even among workers in the advanced countries like Britain, America and France currents are to be seen that do not understand the role of their own political party, or even directly negate it. It is perhaps most characteristic of this difficult situation that such a question is thrown up. I see in this the climax of the crisis that the labour movement and socialism have been undergoing during the war. The fact that this question is raised at all in quite broad layers, and often in quite a sharp form, is the result and the expression of this crisis, of the bankruptcy of the Second International.

You know that a whole number of comrades who have contact with the mass movement and call themselves communists nevertheless negate or misunderstand the Party. We found the most exhaustive expression of their standpoint (or rather of their mood) in Comrade Pannekoek, whose pamphlet on this question we have published and will distribute today or tomorrow. You will find in this pamphlet a blind worship of the masses and the attempt to oppose them as such to the Party. I believe that Pannekoek’s pamphlet is on this question the best propaganda against the group that does not understand or negates the role of the Party, as does for example the Communist Workers’ Party of Germany (KAPD) I together with Pannekoek.

[KAPD: Formed as the result of a serious split in the KPD in April 1920, the Kommunistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands took almost half its membership. The KAPD leadership Fritz Wolfheim, Otto Rühle and Meinrich Laufenberg took up an ultra-left position similar to that of the Dutch ‘Tribunites’, with whom they were associated, in opposition to participation in parliament or work in the reformist unions. Lenin tried to avert the split which seriously weakened the KPD at a critical moment. However, although the KAPD sent two delegates to the Second Congress, Otto Rühle and Otto Merges, they withdrew after a few days. The influence of the KAPD rapidly declined.]What is the Communist Party?

I declared in my Theses: the Communist Party is part of the working class, and moreover the most advanced, class-conscious and therefore most revolutionary part. One can reply to this: that is what it should be like, but it is not always. And that is true. Many parties that belonged to the Second International followed such policies, degenerated so far that in the end the best, the most conscious part of the working class really did not belong to them. And nevertheless I still believe that we must insist that the developing Communist Party organises the best and the most conscious part of the working class. In our opinion it is impossible to oppose the masses to the party in relation to this. You cannot oppose a man’s head to his rump, his right hand to his head. And the party is precisely the head of the working class. Organisation is the right hand of the proletariat in its struggle for emancipation.

In the Russian revolution we have seen masses of thousands, millions. We have worked step by step with them, suffered defeats, won victories. But step by step we have also been able to establish that the masses of the workers could only act successfully when they had a powerfully organised party at their head to show them the way.

Often the comrades who oppose the necessity of the Party feel that they are a ‘left’ opposition. In my opinion this is not the case. It is not an opposition on the left, but the opposite. In this mood against the party is expressed a remnant of bourgeois influence on the Party. The bourgeoisie drinks wine and gives the proletariat water. Every good bourgeois joins a political party as soon as he is 2 1. But to the workers he comes with propaganda against joining parties, and quite often he catches workers hook, line and sinker.

Even now, after three years of revolution, we can still see that quite big layers of the working class, even in Russia, can be caught with this line.

When the bourgeoisie propagandises against joining the party among the working class it is a completely conscious policy. It cannot go to the workers and tell them: ‘come into our bourgeois party’, for the workers would not follow them. So they lay down a ‘theory’ that says to the workers: ‘You do not need a party, you can make do with your trades unions and other organisations. You do not need to rack your brains over political theories.’ And since the bourgeoisie has powerful propaganda media in its hands, like the schools, the press and parliament, it has learnt to alienate quite a big part of the working class from the idea of the Party and talk them into the false idea that the worker needs no party.

The layers that struggle against the Party and think that they are on the left do not understand what is happening and are repeating the things with which the bourgeoisie has injected them over decades. One more thing. The comrades who think that in our epoch it is possible to fight without the leadership of the Party thus prove that they do not really understand the revolutionary epoch, that they mistake it. If they really grasped that we live in an epoch of obstinate, bitter class struggles, the first thing to strike them would be that in such an epoch we need a general staff, a centralised party. It is clear that, after the collapse of the Second International and the failure of a whole series of parties with the German Social Democrats and the French Party in the forefront, that the idea will occur to many workers at such a time that it is the party type of organisation itself that is bankrupt. It is often said that it is the party type of organisation as such that has suffered bankruptcy in this war. To this we reply as follows in point four of the Theses:

The Communist International holds tenaciously to the conviction that the collapse of the old ‘social democratic’ parties of the Second International can under no circumstances be presented as the collapse of the proletariat party type of organisation in general. The epoch of the direct struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat brings a new party into the world: the Communist Party.

And we insist on this too against the revolutionary syndicalists, whom we regard as friends and brothers, but who take up an erroneous position on this question. The bankruptcy of the social-patriotic parties, the bankruptcy of the Second International, is not the bankruptcy of the party type of organisation. One could turn the tables and say to the syndicalists: ‘Legien has suffered bankruptcy and the so-called “free”, the free yellow trades unions of Germany and the French syndicalists led by Jouhaux have after all also suffered bankruptcy.’ But we would not assume from that that the idea of trades unions is bankrupt. Neither can we say therefore that, because the Second International and a whole series of political parties have suffered bankruptcy, the principle of the party type of organisation is bankrupt. The ‘left’ master of confusion Rühle solemnly declared not long ago that the party type of organisation in general must undergo bankruptcy along with bourgeois democracy. Now this is simply stupidity. The soviet system does not exclude the proletarian party but on the contrary it presupposes a proletarian party; a party to be sure made of different stuff from the social democratic parties of the Second International, that is to say a true Communist Party that organises the vanguard of the working class and through it leads the whole working class to victory.

If we wish to investigate the roots of this negation of the Party, they are as follows: Its deepest roots lie in the fact that on this question we are faced with the effects of bourgeois ideology, that we have been infected by the propaganda the bourgeoisie have been broadcasting for decades saying that the workers can be ‘non-party’, that one does not need to have a political party and that the trades unions are sufficient. That is a concession to the ideology of the bourgeoisie, nothing else.

The second root lies in the fact that a whole series of old social democratic parties have turned in front of our eyes in the epoch of the imperialist war into parties that betray the cause of the working class. We say to our comrades from the ranks of the syndicalists, from the IWW and from the shop stewards’ movement that the sign of the times does not consist in the fact that we should negate the Party. The sign of the epoch in which we live, in which the struggles will become ever harder, ever more obstinate, consists in the fact that we must say: ‘The old parties have been shipwrecked; down with them. Long live the new Communist Party that must be built under new conditions.’ It will be exactly the same with parliamentarism. The betrayal of a whole number of social democratic parliamentarians has made a large part of the working class thorough-going opponents of parliamentarism. But it is already clear that the new epoch must bring forth new personalities, even in the bourgeois parliaments, comrades who emerge as fighters and by their deeds show the working class that there can be true Communists like Karl Liebknecht even in bourgeois parliaments. We will not convince people by the propaganda of words, but by deeds.

A whole series of parties are proving by their activity that a new, truly proletarian party can be built. In our Theses we have told the syndicalists that the propaganda against the necessity of an independent workers’ party that the revolutionary syndicalists and the supporters of the IWW carry out has objectively only contributed to the support of the bourgeoisie and the counter-revolutionary ‘social democrats’. To the extent that the syndicalists and industrialists agitate against the Communist Party, which they wish to replace exclusively by trades unions or some kind of formless ‘general’ workers’ union, they rub shoulders with open opportunists. After the defeat of the 1905 revolution the Russian Mensheviks preached for some years the idea of the so-called workers’ congress, which was to replace the revolutionary party of the working class. ‘Labourites’ of every kind in Britain and America preach to the workers the creation of formless workers’ societies instead of the political party and carry, out in fact completely bourgeois policies. The revolutionary syndicalists and ‘industrialists’ wish to fight against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, but they do not know how. They do not realise that without an independent political party the working class is a rump without a head.

In comparison with the old, stuffy, counter-revolutionary ideology of the Second International, revolutionary syndicalism and ‘industrialism’ mean a step forwards. In comparison, however, with revolutionary Marxism, that is to say with communism, syndicalism and ‘industrialism’ mean a step backwards. The declaration of the German ‘Left’ Communists at their founding congress in April that they were founding a party, but ‘not a party in the traditional sense’, means a mental capitulation to the outlook of syndicalism and industrialism, which is reactionary.

I have spoken to good friends, revolutionary syndicalists, who ten us: ‘We will do everything you propose to us, we will form a soviet government and lead the working class against the bourgeoisie. But the trades unions will do all that. What then do you need a party for?’ I ask these friends: ‘If you really want to form a soviet government, you must immediately have a programme for this government, you must have a programme on the agrarian question, on foreign and domestic policy, you must explain to us what your attitude is going to be towards the middle peasants, how you are going to build up an army, what your programme for education is, and so forth. And as soon as you begin to formulate and establish exactly your attitude on all of these questions you immediately begin to develop into a party!’ We also say exactly the same thing to our non-party workers in Russia.

There are here many thousands of workers who are still non-party, but who support us and go along with us. We organise conferences of such non-party workers, we discuss all the complicated questions with them, we tell them: ‘We must solve the food question, the question of the war against Poland, we must have an answer on the agrarian question and on the question of education. Do you want to find this answer together with us? Yes? Then we want to discuss. If we have a common answer to all these questions then that is precisely a large part of the programme of the Communist Party. If we wish to unite the best elements then we need an organisation. This organisation is the Communist Party.'

We must also say the same thing to the comrades whom yesterday we adopted with full voting rights, who will and must develop into communists. We must tell them that the bigger the class party that we have the quicker and easier will be the path to victory. And since we already have the struggle to fight out, this party should work out its programme, not in the heat of battle, but now, day by day, and gather around itself the best, most conscious elements of the working class so that, when the decisive hour has struck, it can absorb the best elements. In every factory the best people should be members of our party. At first of course they will be in the minority, but since they have a clear programme, since they are the most clear-sighted, since the workers have confidence in them, they will when the hour strikes immediately become the leaders of the mass movement. The struggle that is being prepared is a monstrous struggle, whose real dimensions nobody has yet visualised. Only now are we beginning to understand how big this struggle will be that we have to fight out.

No formless workers’ unions, living from hand to mouth, can show the working class the correct path, but a party that embraces the best out of the working class, that in the course of decades organises itself and forms a firm nucleus. It is for us a matter of organising the vanguard of the working class so that they can really lead the masses in this struggle.

It is logically clear that the comrades who are against forming parties often, without realising it, take their starting point not from an epoch of merciless struggle but from an old peaceful epoch, in which almost all party work was merely propaganda (even if only bad propaganda). They do not understand that, although propaganda must and ought to make up a large part of our party work, it is not the only thing, but that deeds now matter, that the civil war is here, that we must have the revolutionary deed day by day, hour by hour, and cannot make a start with organisations that do not even themselves know today what they will say tomorrow on the acutest questions of proletarian politics.

We need a party. But what kind of party? And here we must say very clearly what we have to say to the elements on the right. We CIO not need a party like the parties of the Second International or a party such as some parties of the centre still are now. Such parties play objectively a reactionary role. It is clear that for example the German Social Democracy plays and has played not a revolutionary but a directly counter-revolutionary role in the true sense of the word. To prove that would be superfluous. It is clear that in Germany the struggle of the working class is now so difficult because there exists there a large, well organised, but bourgeois Social Democratic Party. We do not need parties that continue the worst traditions of the Second International, we do not need parties that have the simple principle of gathering as many members as possible around themselves, which become petty-bourgeois parties, in which the aristocracy of labour is organised, in which very often the bureaucracy of labour becomes a caste and only follows its own interests. We do not need parties which for example put up people who only joined the party yesterday as candidates in elections. We do not need parliamentary factions in which, instead of workers, we have 46 professors, 45 barristers, or more, and of which one must say: 45 barristers: proletarian revolution, you are betrayed! [Applause] We do not need the kind of parliamentary factions there are in Italy and Germany, in which there are people who, at the most important hour – we know this very well – will either stand on the side of the bourgeoisie or sit between two stools and sabotage our struggle. We must follow the social composition of our parties attentively, as if under a lens. We must watch out that anti-proletarian elements do not come to us. We must endeavour to have truly proletarian parties. It is understandable that at present a great number, and not the worst section of the workers – those workers that take the fight against the bourgeoisie honestly – are confused when they see parties like the Social Democratic Party, when they see parliamentary factions like the one in Italy. Italy has nearly reached boiling point. The working class is in favour of communism, but in parliament a man like Turati is still speaking in the name of the party, a man who has carried out bourgeois policies for years and is still doing so. Under these conditions it is understandable that currents arise which negate the party as such. The same is the case with the German Independents who have a parliamentary faction in which men like Henke in the main often say the same thing as Scheidemann but in slightly different words. It is understandable that there too quite good revolutionaries say: ‘Better no party at all than a party like that’. But when they say: ‘Better no party at all than a party like that’, this is an incorrect conclusion. ‘No’, we say, ‘if this or that party is bad, we should at all costs build a good party, we should organise ourselves at first as a minority, we should work step for step to win the best elements of the working class into our ranks.’

When therefore we are asked what kind of party we need we must reply that we have a great number of parties that even want to join the Communist International and of which nevertheless we must say: ‘There you have an example of what a Communist Party should not look like. You should sound the alarm, convince the best part of the working class and purge the party, split it if necessary, and at any price build a truly Communist Party.'

I would like to add one more thing on the question of what kind of party we must have. We must also touch upon the question of organisation in general here.

What kind of party do we need looked at from the point of view of organisation? In each individual case we must accommodate ourselves to the respective circumstances. In the labour movement there are phenomena that emerge in every country, but there are also cases in which we must accommodate ourselves to the prevailing national conditions. I will not talk about these concrete cases. I only want to mention one point. There is a current against the principle of the strict centralisation of the party. There are circles that are in agreement with the need for a party, but not for a centralised party with iron discipline. This is found not only among intellectuals but also among a section of the IWW and the shop stewards. Let us consider the general question of whether or not we really need a centralised party.

People often talk about the experience of the Russian revolution. The most important experience of this revolution consists in the fact that if we had not had a centralised, military, iron-disciplined party, which we organised for twenty years, we would have been beaten twenty times over. That is the experience of the Russian revolution, and every simple worker, every member of our party will confirm it. That is what we have learnt.

You should not take this matter lightly. You should consider what a civil war really means. It is easy to say: ‘Now we start the civil war!’ But it is rather difficult to fight the civil war out, when you must wage it for one, two or three years, when you must send thousands of comrades to the front where thousands are killed, when you have to demand the greatest sacrifices from the members of the Party, when you have to make decisions of enormous importance within 24 hours or even 24 minutes, when you must have the absolute confidence of the workers to achieve anything at all. The fact that we now face a titanic struggle, that now the hour really has struck when the sword speaks against the bourgeoisie, gives us cause to say, in relation not only to the national parties but also to the International: ‘We need a centralised organisation with an iron military discipline.’ Only then will we achieve what we really need. In this respect we must learn from our enemies. We must understand that, in this extremely difficult situation, we can only win if we are really well and tightly organised. We will speak about this in more detail when we come to work out the Statutes of the Communist International and have to discuss the question on an international scale.

Often we hear some comrades say: ‘Yes, as long as we live under the bourgeois order, as long as we have not yet seized power, we do perhaps still really need the party, but when we have won the victory we will not need any party at all.’ I have discussed this with good German Communist workers, have heard their reflections and permit myself once more to appeal to the experience of the Russian Party. Just after we had seized power, after we had formed the government, the role of the Party did not become smaller, but grew from day to day. Never was the significance of the Party so great here in Russia as it is precisely now, after we have carried off the victory. On all important questions real supervision by the party is necessary.

Nowadays people like Kautsky come along and say: ‘There in Russia you have not got the dictatorship of the working class but the dictatorship of the party.’ You would think that this was a criticism of us. Not at all! We have the dictatorship of the working class and for that very reason we also have the dictatorship of the Communist Party. [Applause.] The dictatorship of the Communist Party is only a function, a characteristic, an expression of the dictatorship of the working class. What is our Party? You should not confuse it with other parties that are made up of barristers. It is made up of between 600,000 and 700,000 of the best workers, the vanguard of the proletariat. And it is clear that the affairs of the working class are well looked after by these, its best representatives. That is why the dictatorship of the proletariat is at the same time the dictatorship of the Communist Party. The supervision of the various organisations and the right to purge them belongs to the party. So it has to be during the proletarian revolution. The role of the party does not diminish after the victory, but on the contrary it increases.

The idea of soviets has captured the minds of workers all over the world. The working class is half consciously and half unconsciously of the opinion that humanity is moving towards the soviet system. That is correct. But the conclusion is often drawn from this that when we have soviets we do not need a party; the soviets are supposed to replace the Party, the Party is supposed to be absorbed into the soviets, the Party is supposed to ‘accommodate’ itself to the idea of the soviets. Here too we must call on the experience of the first victorious proletarian revolution. In 1917 in Russia we won the soviets, which for eight months were opposed to working class policies, so quickly precisely because we had a firm, powerful, determined party. And the influence of Communism is so strong in the soviets now because we have a strong party. The soviets do not exclude the Party. On the contrary the Party is their direct precondition. That is the leading force, the most important part, the head, the brain of these soviets. We wish also to tell the comrades quite clearly: Not only when we are speaking of the soviets, but precisely when we already have them, we need a strong Communist Party that will grow from day to day. People often reply to us: ‘Almost the whole of the working class is organised in the Soviets, but only a minority is organised in the Party, and so it will remain.’ So it will not remain, and even now it is already no longer true. In the epoch of the Second International it was often said: ‘The majority of the working class will never be organised within the Social Democratic Party.’ At that time it was correct. As long as power belongs to the bourgeoisie, as long as it rules the press, education, parliament and the arts, a significant part of the working class will be spoilt by the propaganda of the bourgeoisie and their agents and driven into the bourgeois camp. It goes without saying that the bourgeois press robs the party of a part of the working class. But as soon as freedom of the press exists for the working class, as soon as we have the schools in our hands, a time will come, and it is not so far off, when gradually, day by day, big groups in the working class join us in the party, until one day we will have the majority of the working class organised in our party. The perspective is already very different. We therefore need the party even when we have soviets.

The old, so-called classical division of the workers’ organisations into Party, trades unions and co-operative societies is now wrong. There is now another one: Party, soviets, trades unions. Perhaps there will be modifications and new forms. Perhaps this or that revolution will produce something new. This will probably happen, but as far as we can see at the moment, as far as the Russian revolution is an example, the present division runs thus: Communist Party, soviets, trades unions. We must spread Communism in the parliaments, in the trades unions and in the Party organisations. But the leading force, the spirit of the whole movement, is the Party.

Neither the soviet government nor the revolutionising of the trades unions excludes the Party. Perhaps people will tell us that we need a party if the unions are yellow but not if they are good, revolutionary; then we do not need a party. I say – no. Even if the trades unions are revolutionary, even if they are consistently communist through and through, as they are here, we still need the Party.

We have seen a graphic description from the IWW of how they imagine the future. They imagine the whole thing as a Central Council of trades unions at the centre and a whole number of individual trades unions on the periphery. Good. But by what means are they going to seize power? How are they going to form a Red Army? It is surely clear that there is no workers’ revolution without a Red Army? Will they perhaps set up a Red Army on a trade union basis, with an engineering workers’ Red Army parallel with a textile workers’ Red Army, and with a General Council of the Red Armies of all these trades unions? That is impossible. With a structure like that we could not even solve the problem of feeding the army.

We must have a state organisation and this can only be led by the party because a state political organisation is that which embraces the best elements of the working class of the whole country. We have trades unions in Russia which now go hand in hand with us. It was not always so. Before the October revolution the trades unions were in the hands of the Mensheviks; at the beginning of the July days the majority was with the Mensheviks. We formed Communist cells and then factions in the trades unions and now we have the great majority on our side. And nevertheless the role of the party has not diminished but increased. For, to the extent that they are Communist, these trades unions have subordinated themselves to the party, and that is the only way of doing it. Marx himself took this point of view when he said it was wrong to say that the Party only dealt with the political side of the movement and the trades unions the economic. This is not so. In the opinion of Marxism the Communist Party is an organisation that touches all sides of the workers’ movement without exception. It should be the guiding spirit of the soviets and the trades unions, the schools, the co-operatives and all organisations embracing the working class. That is real Marxism.

The Communist Party is not only a political organ, it does not only deal with political questions, it is not an electoral machine in the way the opportunists want it to be, it is an organisation to which the best part of the working class belongs, which guides all the social organs and the struggle of the working class in its full extent and in all its expressions. That is why we say to those here who think that formless workers’ unions can replace the Party: ‘You are not right.’ In this case too we need a Communist, Marxist Party to guide the trades unions, give them fresh blood, show them the way and be their guiding star.

That is why we are of the opinion that the Communist Congress must now say very clearly that sin ce we are faced with the proletarian revolution every worker must be conscious that not only before the seizure of power but also during and after the armed uprising, after we have seized power, we need a Communist Party which, in its composition, is a workers’ party, which does not take in petty-bourgeois elements. It can form temporary political alliances with the latter, but not within the Party. It cannot take in petty-bourgeois elements and form an alliance with them inside the Party. It must carry out parliamentary work in counter-revolutionary parliaments in the spirit of Karl Liebknecht, and send simple revolutionary workers into the parliaments and not skilled barristers who are only really skilled at defending the cause of the bourgeoisie. We must have a party that can always show the soviets the correct path every instant, in every difficult situation.

Comrades, just imagine for a moment that we had had a Communist Party during the Paris Commune in 1871. It is clear why we did not have one. The necessary, important preconditions for it were missing. But if at that time we had had a definite Communist Party, however small, the French working class would perhaps still have been beaten, but it is clear that a great number of the mistakes our French pioneers committed would not have been made. Of course we do not want to diminish the heroism of the Paris Commune, but we want to avoid its mistakes.

A great number of countries now find themselves in a situation where from one day to the next a full-scale uprising can break out. Unless we have everywhere at least a small but conscious Communist Party we will suffer great and unnecessary losses. We must make up for lost time. In countries like Britain and America, where we have no strong Communist Party and where the comrades struggle against a Communist Party this will in time be bitterly regretted. When the fight has begun you will see from the consequences how frivolous it was not to have forged the necessary weapons in time, to have missed out the very thing with which the working class could have been shown the way in time.

I think, Comrades, that I can close my remarks with this and say once more in summing up that, if we want to use the experience of the Russian revolution, we must adopt above all others the idea that we need a Communist Party, and what is more a centralised, an iron-disciplined party. There is no other way during the raging civil war through which we are living. There is no way apart from an iron party cast all in one piece. You should take from the Russian workers the thing that really deserves to be imitated. Certainly, our movement too has great weaknesses. We are conscious of them and do not at all want

to appear as schoolmasters. But I tell you this, that we forged this weapon day by day for twenty years, the Party, the Bolshevik Party, which then became the Communist Party. That is a good example. In the prisons, in Siberia, in exile, in foreign lands – the guiding star was always the Party. The best thing that we have injected into the Russian worker is the love of the Party. For the advanced Russian worker the Party is something sacred, the best system, dearer than his life, more beloved than anything else, the highest, the lodestar. And in this the working class of the whole world should follow that of Russia. [Loud and prolonged applause]

 

Ramsay (Shop Stewards): I am sorry that, despite all our reports and documents, the Communist International does not seem to be sufficiently informed of what the shop stewards movement really represents. I would remind you what a state of disunity the workers’ organisations were in when the shop stewards movement arose, what efforts the shop stewards movement has made to kindle a communist movement. Even now we are making every effort to do our best for the growth of the communist movement. All our propaganda and all our work is carried out in this direction, and we call on all our members and organisations that belong to the communist tendency to work in this direction.

McLaine(BSP): I suggest that point 6 of the Theses should be changed to add a final sentence which is of especial interest particularly for the British comrades.

[BSP: British Socialist Party. Affiliated to the Labour Party. Founded 1911 as result of a merger of the Social Democratic Party and other socialist groups. It conducted Marxist propaganda but remained small in membership. During the First World War it split over the issue of internationalism and in 1916 the Social chauvinists withdrew. The BSP greeted the Russian Revolution and in 1919 voted for affiliation to the Comintern. In 1920 it joined the newly formed Communist Party.]

We need guidelines on a point that is especially interesting particularly for Britain. In Britain there exists a large workers’ party which is not communist and which embraces various communist parties – the Labour Party. A discussion has arisen among the various parties in Britain on whether the communist parties should remain a part of this party which is not communist and not socialist and to which they are affiliated. The BSP has answered the question in the affirmative. The Labour Party is not socialist but it has at its disposal a large apparatus. It has the press at its disposal and has its representatives in parliament and on the town councils, and it would be suicide to exclude the possibility of propagandising in the trades union movement and everywhere through this big apparatus. The group I represent does not want to commit suicide in this way. We would like to have an appropriate instruction from the Communist International on this. Moreover I must emphasise that. the BSP have been all the more strengthened in their position by the fact that the Labour Party, which is not socialist and not revolutionary, has nevertheless been moving gradually more and more to the left. The fact that, under pressure from the masses, the right-wing leaders and their organisations are gradually disappearing is one more reason for remaining affiliated to this organisation. Before I finish my speech I should like to propose a motion that in all the countries where a non-communist workers’ party is the dominant factor in the labour movement the communist groups should remain affiliated to it in order to carry out propaganda in it for communist ideas and to guide the masses of workers into communist channels. This can only take place on condition that the Communist Party retains its freedom of action and carries on the work of propaganda. This motion is signed by both representatives of the BSP. Finally I would like to refer to the previous speaker’s remarks. I am glad to hear from the representative of the shop stewards movement that they are now determined to help the Communist Party. Up until now the shop stewards movement has had a negative and hostile attitude to the Communist Party. If it is now officially declared that that will no longer be the case and that the shop stewards undertake to help the Communists in future, that can only please the other Communist Parties, especially the BSP.

Pestaña (Spain): The trade union movement as such is much more important than you seem to assume, and moreover both trade union movements, not only the left but also the right. You must not judge them by their degree of separation from communism. Russia is the best example of this. What matters is the spirit of the trades unions, this spirit should be revolutionary. It has been claimed that one of the reasons why the workers do not want a revolutionary party is to be attributed to the influence of the bourgeoisie. It is too easy an explanation to believe that revolutionary currents such as for example syndicalism can simply be described as reactionary without any further ado. That is a mistake. It is also not correct that the leaders of the trades unions say they want to keep away from politics. They do not keep aloof from any work, it is not like that. There were times when the bourgeoisie in Spain pointed out that the working class should become involved in politics because that corresponds to the workers’ interests. The fact that I do not represent a political party makes my position difficult, and for that reason my policies can be misinterpreted. I have never said that the trades unions are an end in themselves. It depends what spirit guides them. I am not in agreement with the opinion that having created a Red Army that stands at its disposal is one of the merits of the Communist Party. That is not the case. I refer to the French Revolution which proves that one always has an army and a political party to help one to power. The main thing is that the trades unions as such are revolutionary and able to fight and are such organisations as will hasten the fight and the revolution.

Tanner (Shop Steward): Comrade Zinoviev placed the main emphasis in his report on the necessity of a Communist Party. This seems to me to be mistaken, as does the idea that the dictatorship of the proletariat coincides with the dictatorship of the Communist Party. What has now taken place in Russia cannot be a valid pattern for every country. In Britain for example the situation in general is completely different from the position as it was in Russia before the revolution. The shop stewards mean by dictatorship of the proletariat something very different from what is meant by it in Russia. By that they mean the dictatorship of a minority as represented by the shop stewards. You may not agree with that in particular, but we are of the opinion that we command a larger and a broader layer of class conscious proletarians than is the case in Germany. We are reproached by Comrade McLaine for being apolitical and for refraining from any political activity. That does not correspond with the truth. We are anti-parliamentarian, but that does not mean that we are apolitical. Comrade McLaine was glad that the shop stewards want to work with the BSP. He cannot claim that the BSP is the only revolutionary party in Britain. Very many of those who are now active in the shop stewards movement and in other economic movements opposed the building of the party because they believe and are convinced that it is a waste of time to be active in a political party. They are still in favour of the revolution. Now public opinion seeks to hold workers back from direct action and make them regard parliament as the means to effect their class interests. We were among the first to come out in favour of direct action, and not only for economic but also for political aims. Comrade Zinoviev said that one can only take an active part in the different areas of social and cultural life through a political party. One can also do this in other ways. I will only be able to give a final verdict on my attitude to the revolution when I have been back to Britain and once more compared British and West European conditions with those in Russia. I ask the Russians and the other representatives whether they have not also something to learn from the others, that is to say that one should also learn from the economic movement and the revolutionary movement of other countries and not simply teach them. I refer also to the fact that the political parties have learnt a great deal from other organisations, precisely on the question of direct action. Not long ago political parties opposed direct action. Recently at least their attitude has become different. Finally I would like to emphasise that the Second International collapsed because it was characterless and did not give clear guidelines. I am afraid that the Communist International is falling into the opposite extreme and becoming too dogmatic. All organisations should be given freedom of movement within their own country. The suggestion of using parliament as a means of fighting arouses misgivings in many people. The Communist International must create a wide, broad basis on which the individual parties can reach agreement on the important principled questions. Everything else should be left to each party itself.

Rakosi (Hungary): Soviet Hungary encountered conditions which were, in every respect, more developed than those encountered by Soviet Russia. The Hungarian workers were more intelligent, the country more centralised, the railways more developed, the roads in a better condition and agriculture at a higher stage.

In every respect we stood closer to the Western countries than we did to Soviet Russia. Our experiences confirm however in every point the correctness of the Russian conception of the Communist Party. As long as our Communist Party, following the Russian pattern, was strictly centralised and strictly disciplined and its members were only accepted after certain tests and treated very strictly, our party like the Russian represented the vanguard of the working class. As soon as the party amalgamated with the Social Democrats and thus took into itself the backward part of the proletariat and a large part of the petty bourgeoisie, the party lost this significance.

Moreover, during the setting-up of the dictatorship there arose a monstrous shortage of class-conscious, independent workers. It became necessary to employ all the useable forces of the united party in the different soviets. Thus the party was completely exhausted. So we were forced, even on political questions where we had to appeal to the whole proletariat, to turn to the trades unions which embrace it in its entirety. There thus arose more or less the situation that the IWW people or the shop stewards want: the trade union was also fulfilling the functions of the Party. It emerged that with the dictatorship an enormous change in the function and the tasks of the trades unions came about. The trades unions had to fulfil a whole series of new tasks such as the re-organisation of production, the restoration of work discipline and so forth. They were so heavily engaged in the absorption of a flood of new members that they could not even fulfil these tasks in a satisfactory manner.

After the setting up of the dictatorship new difficulties and shocks will inevitably follow, partly because the trades unions are not in a position to solve correctly the enormous number of pressing questions that face them in the very first hours of the revolution, which gives rise to a certain disruption. We in Hungary were forced by the weakness of the Party to give, in addition to these tasks, political tasks like the formation of the Red Army, education, the distribution of food and suchlike, to the trades unions. But it emerged that these questions could not be solved by them. They did indeed take on these tasks, but in no area did they achieve a satisfactory solution to them. Not only because they were mostly reactionary – there were some trades unions which were revolutionary even before the dictatorship – but also because they were not created to solve political questions. After a few months we were faced with the absolute necessity of forming a strong new Communist Party. We were thus forced, besides the difficult tasks that the dictatorship brought with it, to fulfil another task that had already been solved in Russia before the dictatorship by the presence of a Communist Party.

We were forced to build up in a very short time a party which, in every respect, had to follow the Russian pattern. Internal collapse and the military defeats brought this attempt to nothing. I must however repeat once more that the experience of the Hungarian Soviet republic confirms the Russian experience in every respect. When we diverged from it we committed mistakes and had to pay for them with enormous sacrifices. Later, when we started on the re-organisation of our forces, we saw the greatest weakness of the rule of the soviets in Hungary in the fact that we did not possess a stronger and better disciplined party during the dictatorship. Since then we have started on the organisation of a strictly centralised party with iron discipline. I am convinced that the new party will continue along the lines followed by the Communist Party in Russia in a new Hungarian Soviet Republic, and will support and strengthen the Russian experience.

Wijnkoop (Holland): I am told that I should speak German. I would have preferred to say what I have to say in English as it refers to what the British comrades have said. I do not think it would be wise of the Congress to vote for Comrade McLaine’s addendum. There is nothing about these matters in Comrade Zinoviev’s Theses, and I dare say the British comrades are very glad that there is nothing about them in the Theses, as this permits them to fight out their own affairs in their own country. Now Comrade McLaine comes along and says: We want the International Congress to confirm that we can go into the Labour Party, and one knows that the BSP wishes to remain in the Labour Party. Now I say we should not do that here. It is very difficult to decide, as Comrade Lenin said in his pamphlet Left Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder. Therefore I want to leave it to the British comrades for the very reason that they are trying to achieve their own Communist Party in England. Comrades Ramsay and Tanner have spoken very well on this question, and they know that the question of the Labour Party can create many problems for unity.

Should the International Congress pronounce in advance in favour of the BSP remaining in the Labour Party, this will mean either that the British Communist Party will not come into being or that it will come into being without the BSP. Neither would in my opinion be a good thing. The Communist Party will have to come into being in Britain with the help of the BSP, and agreement should be reached on the conditions in Britain itself. If we are to accept such an incisive resolution on the British question here you will first of all have to discuss the whole affair, and it will be difficult to broach here the whole story of the special conditions of the Labour Party. I would not like to comment on something else Comrade Tanner said here. My party does not share Comrade Tanner’s point of view, but I would nevertheless like to say that I listened to Comrade Tanner because in his words I detected the desire to come into the Communist International. Comrade Tanner warned us not to be too dogmatic, and he is quite right. In the pamphlet that I mentioned Comrade Lenin warned us not to be too dogmatic on the left. He said that in reality pure dogmatism was only phraseology, and we should avoid phraseology. If you do not accept dogmatism on the right, you must not do so on the left. Comrade Tanner has correctly drawn our attention to the fact that conditions in other countries are very different from those in Russia. The Russian comrades know this very well. We have said often enough that, however difficult it was, the Russian revolution was still easier than the revolution in other countries is going to be. Construction is a different thing from a revolution. You should not follow the Russian example in a doctrinaire way. You should learn from the Russian revolution, but you should not simply impose the Russian pattern on the conditions of Western Europe or America. Comrade Tanner said that we should not be dogmatic but a little flexible and pliant. This is the only way to achieve an International that will and must bring together the really revolutionary groups.

Levi: When we are speaking about the nature of the Party we must start from the contradiction between the Party and the class, which relate the one to the other as subject to object, or as the kernel to the shell, which together form the fruit. If we then ask how the Party is different from the class, we can only say that one thing in particular characterises the Party as such, and that is its clarity; its clear head, its clear aim, its clear and sharply defined nature and its clear, sharply defined programme. If this uniform conception of the sense and the aims of the Party is what we have in mind, then I agree completely with Comrade Zinoviev when he says in his theses: ‘Only if the proletariat has as its leader an organised and tested party, with strongly marked aims and a concretely worked out programme for the next step not only in the area of domestic but also of foreign policy, will the conquest of political power appear not as a coincidental episode but as the starting point to the lasting communist construction of society by the proletariat.’

Just as the kernel withers without the shell, so too the Party must wither and become a sect if it neglects to find ways by which it can penetrate into the life of the revolutionary masses. And I think that, to the extent that we here are communists, we are in agreement that a party must be clear and decisive. We do not need to discuss that here. The main question for us is how we find the way to the masses, and I am of the opinion that we must try all the ways that lead to the masses. These are the trades unions, workers’ councils where such organisations arise, the parliamentary battlefield and even non-party organisations to the extent, at least, that they grow out of the subsoil of social life, out of the social and economic stratification of society. It is because of these reservations that I think I must differ from the main speaker when he says in point six of the Theses: ‘The Communists support in every way the formation of broad, non-party organisations of workers besides the Communist Party. The Communists take as their most important task the systematic work of organisation and education within these broad workers’ organisations. But precisely in order to frame this work correctly and to prevent the enemies of the revolutionary proletariat from taking over these broad workers’ organisations, the advanced Communist workers must always form their own, independent, closed Communist Party.'

There is nothing to meet my reservation in this thesis, and it seems to me that something on these lines must be said, so that the formation of factions of workers and non-party workers’ organisations does not simply become a game, and so that we do not make up new organisational forms that do not grow purely and simply out of economic and social necessity. We must be careful in the highest degree in the formation of new organisations, and where such organisations exist we must avoid spreading them arbitrarily and unconditionally. In saying this I am thinking particularly of Germany, where the trades unions have grown to almost 9 million members and where despite that there were comrades who went so far in the drive for new types of organisation that they tried to mislead us communists into abandoning this big field of work.

I am also of the opinion that we should proceed most carefully with the formation not only of new non-party but also of new party organisations. In this respect we will have to draw many lessons from our history in Germany, from the experience of the German Communists. For that reason too, the question that the British comrades have raised will indeed have to be decided by this Congress.

I am completely of the opinion – and we in the Western European Secretariat stand on this point in complete opposition to the Amsterdam Bureau – that the BSP absolutely must remain in the Labour Party, through which it has a connection with the masses.

[The Western European Secretariat was set up in Berlin in the autumn of 1919 to publish information about the Soviet regime and coordinate the work of Communist Parties. A leading part in its formation was taken by Karl Radek. It seems to have acted independently of the International and to have had little, influence. After the dissolution of the West European Bureau in Amsterdam it took over the functions of that body. The Amsterdam Bureau was set up in February, 1920 to carry on propaganda tor the Communist International in Holland and the Anglo-Saxon countries. It came under the control of the ‘ultra-lefts’ and was closed down in May.]

But one must be especially careful in the creation of new formations that call themselves ‘non-party’. I believe that there are delegates at this Congress who diverge from us Communists on the question of, how far it is necessary to form non-party organisations instead of party organisations with clear aims. I shall leave it to better qualified comrades like the Spanish comrade to answer this question, but I must say that, on the basis moreover of a certain experience, I cannot be optimistic about the result. It seems to me that the controversy between communism on the one hand and the view of the Spanish comrades on the other is not at all in line with the tasks of this Congress, and is not in the interest of what the world today demands of the Communist International: a clear, uniform line. This is not strengthened by the fact that, instead of showing a uniform clear line, we are here discussing questions that the majority of the Western European working class solved decades ago.

On the contrary, the task of the Congress is to tell the British comrades not to scorn the non-party organisations and not to leave the Labour Party. The Congress must show once and for all a uniform clear line for all similar cases.

McLaine: In view of the late hour (10 pm) I move that we adjourn the continuation of the debate until the next session.

Serrati:On behalf of the Bureau I move that we continue the session and ask the commission to explain Comrade Zinoviev’s Theses point for point.

Comrade Serrati’s motion is put to the vote and passed.

Serrati: The Italian delegation fully adopts all of Comrade Zinoviev’s Theses because, by analysing Corporatism,’ Syndicalism, Industrial Unionism, Anarchism and Relativism and bringing out the petty-bourgeois spirit of these currents, they fight for the cause of the proletariat, for centralisation and discipline in the name of the establishment of the dictatorship by the Communist Party. But we find that the formulation of some of the Theses is not clear, for example on the question of the middle peasants. The content of this expression must be established more exactly, otherwise we will run into the danger of Possibilism. For those whom we call middle peasants often form the most backward element.

[Serrati uses the word Korporativwesen, but it is not mentioned in the resolution and its meaning is not clear. Relativismus: another term introduced into the debate by Serrati. The Possibilistes were the reformist wing of the French socialist movement at the end of the nineteenth century whose chief figure was Paul Brousse. They aimed for what was ‘possible’ by reforms within capitalist society and, after the style of the Fabians in Britain, emphasised ‘municipal socialism’ – locally owned gasworks, transport, etc. They had some success in local elections in Paris and other towns. Their official name was Fédération des Travailleurs Socialistes – Federation of Socialist Workers. They later joined with other reformist groups in the Parti Socialiste Français and became part of the SFIO in 1905.]

As far as Point 6 is concerned we agree with Comrade Levi’s point of view. The Communists must apply all their energy to build not neutral but Communist organisations, although they have a duty to work in the former as well. Comrade McLaine has asked us to permit the BSP to remain in the Labour Party. But in this case I am personally in agreement with the representatives of the Shop Stewards who regard the Labour Party as a political party. During the war it took a purely political direction, as was proved by Henderson’s activities. And if we permit the Communists to remain in such organisations we are opening the door wide – open once more to Possibilism.

Another point in the Theses says that Communists can also join neutral or even reactionary organisations, for example Christian trades unions. But a Christian trade union is not under any circumstances neutral. To join it means you are a Christian. Then the Congress must also deal with the question of the entry of Communists into the Freemasons, which are a very model of the kind of organisation where the spirit of’ petty-bourgeois radicalism and political opportunism reigns supreme. We ask the Congress to forbid Communists to enter such organisations.

Lenin: Comrades, I should like to make a few comments on the speeches of Comrades Tanner and McLaine. Comrade Tanner spoke of the fact that he and the others were for the dictatorship of the proletariat, but that by that they meant something other than we do here. He said that by the dictatorship of the proletariat we actually mean the dictatorship of the organised and class-conscious minority.

Now it is precisely one of the main characteristics of workers’ political parties that, under the conditions of capitalism where the masses of workers are always exploited and are not in a position to develop their human abilities, they can only include the minority of their class. A political party can only comprise a minority of the class in the same way that really class-conscious workers only form the minority of workers in any capitalist society. Therefore we are forced to recognise that the great mass of workers can only be led and guided by the conscious minority. If Comrade Tanner says he is against the Party but in favour of a revolutionary minority of the most determined and class-conscious proletarians leading the whole proletariat, then I say that in reality there is no difference between our points of view. What is the organised minority? If this minority is really class-conscious and able to lead the masses and give an answer to every question that stands on the agenda, then it is actually the Party. If comrades like Comrade Tanner, who are particularly important for us because they represent a mass movement, which you could scarcely say of the BSP, want a minority that will fight with determination for the dictatorship and educate the mass of workers along these lines, then what they want is a party. Comrade Tanner has spoken of the fact that this minority should lead and organise the whole mass of workers. If Comrade Tanner and the other comrades from the Shop Stewards Movement and the IWW recognise – and we see every day in every discussion with them that they really do recognise – that the conscious Communist minority of the working class can lead the proletariat, then they must admit that this is the meaning of all our resolutions. Then the only difference between us is that they avoid the word ‘party’ because among the British comrades there is a kind of prejudice against the political party. They probably think that a political party is something like the parties of Gompers and Henderson, the professional parliamentarians, the traitors to the working class. If by parliamentarism they mean the present British or American variety of parliamentarism, then we are also opposed to it. We need new, different parties. We need parties that really have constant contact with the masses and are able to lead the masses.

Now I come to the third question that I want to touch on here. Comrade McLaine was in favour of the Communist Party of Britain remaining in the Labour Party. I have already expressed my opinion on this question in my Theses on entry into the Communist International. I left this question unanswered. But after discussing the question with several comrades I have come to the conclusion that remaining in the Labour Party is the only correct tactic. And then Comrade Tanner comes along and tells us not to be too dogmatic. This expression is entirely out of place h ere. Comrade Ramsay says: ‘Let us British comrades decide the question ourselves.’ What kind of International would this be if a small group could come and say: ‘Some of us are in favour, some of us are against. Let us decide for ourselves.’ What then do we need an International for, and a Congress and a discussion? Comrade McLaine spoke only of the role of the political party. But the same applies to the trades unions and to parliamentarism. It is true that the great mass of the best revolutionaries is against affiliation to the Labour Party because they do not accept parliamentarism as a method of struggle. For that reason it would perhaps be best to refer this question to the Commission. It should discuss and study the question, it should whatever happens be decided by the present Congress of the Communist International. We cannot say that this only affects the British Communists. Our general opinion on the correct tactic must be expressed.

Now I shall deal with Comrade McLaine’s arguments concerning the British Labour Party. We must say openly that the Communist Party can be affiliated to the Labour Party if it is free to criticise and to conduct its own policies. That is the most important thing. If Comrade Serrati talks about class collaboration, then I say this is not class collaboration. If the Italian comrades tolerate opportunists like Turati and Co., that is to say bourgeois elements, in the Party, that really is class collaboration. In the case of the Labour Party it is a question of the co-operation of the advanced minority with the great majority of British workers. All trade union members participate in the Labour Party. It is a very unusual formation of a kind that is not found in any other country. It comprises some 6 to 7 million workers in all the trades unions. They are not asked to state their political beliefs. Prove to me, Comrade Serrati, that we will be prevented from exercising our right of criticism there. Only if you prove that will you be able to prove that Comrade McLaine is wrong. The BSP can openly say that Henderson is a traitor and still remain in the Labour Party. This is the collaboration of the vanguard of the working class with the backward workers, the rear-guard. This is so important for the whole movement that we absolutely insist that the British Communists must form a link between the Party, that is the minority of the working class, and the remaining masses of the workers. If the minority does not understand how to lead the masses and make contact with the masses, it is not a party; it is worthless, whether it calls itself a party or a National Shop Stewards’ Committee. As I understand, the British shop stewards have a National Committee, a central leadership, and that itself is a step towards the Party. So if it is not disproved that the British Labour Party consists of proletarians, then this is the collaboration of the vanguard of the working class with the backward workers, and if this collaboration is not developed systematically, the Communist Party is worthless, and in that case there can be no question of the dictatorship of the proletariat. If the Italian comrades have no convincing arguments we will shortly have to make a final decision on the question, and on the basis of what we know we will have to conclude that affiliation is the correct tactic.

Now Comrade Tanner and Comrade Ramsay come along and say that the majority of British Communists will not accept that. Must we then inevitably agree with the majority? Not at all. Perhaps if they have not yet understood the correct tactic we can wait. Even the existence of two parties would be better than leaving the question of the correct tactic unanswered. Naturally they will not claim on the basis of the experience of all the participants in the Congress and of the arguments that have been brought forward that a unified Communist Party can be formed in every country. That is impossible. What we can do is speak our opinion openly and issue guidelines. We must study the question of the British delegation in a special commission and then say that the correct tactic is affiliation to the Labour Party. If the majority is against that we should organise the minority separately. That will be training. If the great mass of British workers still believe in the old tactic, we will test the results at our next Congress. We cannot say that these are purely British questions – that is copying the worst habits of the Second International. We must speak our minds openly. If the Communists in Britain are not agreed and a mass party cannot be built, then a split is inevitable.

Trotsky: Comrades! It may seem fairly strange that three-quarters of a century after the appearance of the Communist Manifesto discussion should arise at an International Communist Congress over whether a party is necessary or not. Comrade Levi has underscored just this aspect of the discussion, pointing out that for the great majority of the Western European and American workers this question was settled long ago, and that in his opinion a discussion of this question will hardly help to clarify the standpoint of the Communist International. For my part I proceed from the assumption that there is a rather sharp contradiction between the march of historical events and the opinion expressed here with such Marxist magnanimity to the effect that the broad masses of workers are already excellently aware of the necessity of the party. It is self-evident that if we were dealing here with Messrs.

Scheidemann, Kautsky or their English co-thinkers, it would, of course, be unnecessary to convince these gentlemen that a party is indispensable to the working class. They have created a party for the working class and handed it over into the service of bourgeois and capitalist society.

But if what we have in mind is the proletarian party, then it is observable that in various countries this party is passing through different stages of its development. In Germany, the classic land of the old Social Democracy, we observe a titanic working class, on a high cultural level, advancing uninterruptedly in its struggle, dragging in its wake sizeable remnants of old traditions. We see, on the other hand, that precisely those parties which pretend to speak in the name of the majority of the working class, the parties of the Second International, which express the moods of a section of the working class, compel us to pose the question whether the party is necessary or not. just because I know that the party is indispensable, and am very well aware of the value of the party, and just because I see Scheidemann on the one side and, on the other, American or Spanish or French syndicalists who not only wish to fight against the bourgeoisie but who, unlike Scheidemann, really want. to tear its head off – for this reason I say that I prefer to discuss with these Spanish, American and French comrades in order to prove to them that the party is indispensable for the fulfilment of the historical mission which is placed upon them – the destruction of the bourgeoisie. I will try to prove this to them in a comradely way, on the basis of my own experience, and not by counterposing to them Scheidemann’s long years of experience and saying that for the majority this question has already been settled. Comrades, we see how great the influence of anti-parliamentary tendencies still is in the old countries of parliamentarianism and democracy, for example France, England, and so on. In France I had the opportunity of personally observing, at the beginning of the war, that the first audacious voices against the war – at the very moment when the Germans stood at the gates of Paris – were raised in the ranks of a small group of French syndicalists. These were the voices of my friends – Monatte, Rosmer and others. At that time it was impossible for us to pose the question of forming the Communist Party: such elements were far too few. But I felt myself a comrade among comrades in the company of Comrades Monatte, Rosmer and others with an anarchistic past.

But what was there in common between me and a Renaudel who excellently understands the need of the party; or an Albert Thomas and other gentlemen whose names I do not even wish to mention in order not to violate the rules of decency.

Comrades, the French syndicalists are conducting revolutionary work within the unions. When I discuss today, for example, with Comrade Rosmer, we have a common ground. The French syndicalists, in defiance of the traditions of democracy and its deceptions have said: ‘We do not want any parties, we stand for proletarian trades unions and for the revolutionary minority within them which applies direct action.’ What the French syndicalists understood by this minority – was not clear even to themselves. It was. a portent of the future development, which, despite their prejudices and illusions, has not hindered these same syndicalist comrades from playing a revolutionary role in France, and from producing that small minority which has come to our International Congress.

What does this minority mean to our friends? It is the chosen section of the French working class, a section with a clear programme and organisation of its own, an organisation where they discuss all questions, and not alone discuss but also decide, and where they are bound by a certain discipline. However, proceeding from the experience of the proletarian struggle against the bourgeoisie, proceeding from its own experience and the experience of other countries, French syndicalism will be compelled to create the Communist Party.

Comrade Pestaña says: ‘I don’t want to touch this question – I am a syndicalist and I don’t want to talk politics, still less do I want to talk about the party.’ This is extremely interesting. He does not want to talk about the Communist Party so as not to insult the revolution. This means that the criticism of the Communist Party and of its necessity appears to him within the framework of the Russian Revolution as an insult to the revolution. That’s how it is, for in the course of development the Party has become identified with the revolution. It was the same in Hungary.

Comrade Pestaña, who is an influential Spanish syndicalist, came to visit us because there are among us comrades who to one degree or another take their stand on the soil of syndicalism; there are also among us comrades who are, so to speak, parliamentarians, and others who are neither parliamentarians nor syndicalists but who stand for mass action, and so on. But what do we offer him? We offer him an International Communist Party, that is, the unification of the advanced elements of the working class who come together with their experience, share it with the others, criticise one another, adopt decisions, and so on. When Comrade Pestaña returns to Spain with these decisions his comrades will want to know: ‘What did you bring back from Moscow?’ He will then present them with the theses and ask them to vote for or against the resolution; and those Spanish syndicalists, who unite on the basis of the proposed theses, will form nothing else but the Spanish Communist Party.

Today we have received a proposal from the Polish government to conclude peace. Who decides such questions? We have the Council of People’s Commissars but it too must be subject to certain control. Whose control? The control of the working class as a formless, chaotic mass? No. The Central Committee of the party is convened in order to discuss the proposal and to decide whether it ought to be answered. And when we have to conduct war, organise new divisions and find the best elements for them – where do we turn? We turn to the Patty. To the Central Committee. And it issues directives to every local committee pertaining to the assignment of Communists to the front. The same thing applies to the agrarian question, the question of supplies, and all other questions. Who will decide these questions in Spain? The Spanish Communist Party – and I am confident that Comrade Pestaña will be one of the founders of this party.

Comrade Serrati – to whom it is, of course, unnecessary to prove the need of a party, for he is himself the leader of a large party – asks us ironically: ‘Just what do we understand by a middle peasant and a semi-proletarian? and isn’t it opportunism for us to make them various concessions?’ But what is opportunism, comrades? In our country the power is in the hands of the working class, which is under the leadership of the Communist Party and which follows the lead of the party that represents it. But in our country there exists not only the advanced working class, but also various backward and non-party elements who work part of the year in the village and the other part in the factory; there exist various layers of the peasantry. All this has not been created by our party; we inherited it from the feudal and capitalist past. The working class is in power and it says: ‘Now I can’t change all this today or on the morrow; I must make a concession here to backward and barbaric relations.'

Opportunism manifests itself whenever those who represent the toiling class make such concessions to the ruling class as facilitate the latter’s remaining in power. Kautsky reproaches us because our party is seemingly making the greatest concessions to the peasantry. The working class, in power, must hasten the evolutionary process of the greatest part of the peasantry, helping it to pass over from a feudal mode of thinking to communism; and must make concessions to the backward elements. Thus I think that the question for which a solution has been found that appears opportunist to Comrade Serrati is not at all a question that lowers the dignity of the Communist Party of Russia. But even if such were the case, even if we had committed this or that mistake, it would only mean that we are operating in a very complex situation and are compelled to manoeuvre. Power is in our hands but just the same we had to retreat before German imperialism at Brest-Litovsk and, later, before British imperialism. And, in this particular instance, we are manoeuvring between the various layers of the peasantry – some we attract to us, others we repel, while a third layer is crushed by us with an iron hand. This is the manoeuvring of the revolutionary class which is in power and which is capable of committing mistakes, but these mistakes enter into the Party’s inventory – an inventory of the Party which concentrates the entire experience accumulated by the working class. That is how we conceive of our Party. That is how we conceive of our International.

Souchy (Free Workers Union, Germany): In drawing up Theses for the international labour movement we cannot start from theoretical preconceived assumptions, but must recognise the tendencies that are emerging in the labour movement in various countries and attempt to develop them further and in a more revolutionary way. Our theories should be nothing more than the conscious continuation of the tendencies and forms of struggle that arise in the fight of the working class against the bourgeoisie. In Britain that is the shop stewards’ movement, in America the IWW and in Norway the Works Councils. These are all tendencies that are born out of the conditions of the struggle between capital and labour.

It is wrong to try to guide these movements into different paths starting from a theoretical standpoint, saying that these movements are not communist. If we leave the empirical path and take the doctrinaire path we cannot create an international of struggle. For this reason I would not like to theorise so much as to discuss precisely those tendencies that have emerged during the revolution. We must take notice of these tendencies and attempt to develop them. We must try to grasp the soul of the living workers’ movement which has not arisen from the heads of individual theoreticians but has sprung from the heart of the working class itself. If I appear here as the representative of the syndicalists, and have no desire to go into the arguments of the Russian comrades, I must attempt to prove, since syndicalism has been called a semi-bourgeois movement here, to prove that this is not the case. I shall nevertheless have to proceed to the area of theory in order to deal with the theories expounded here.

Thus Comrade Zinoviev claims that the bourgeoisie tells the working class not to organise itself politically and that, if the tendency is present in syndicalism not to organise the workers into a party, it must be traced back to the fact that these prejudices, which derive from the bourgeoisie, determine that tendency in syndicalism. This does not correspond to the facts. What does the bourgeoisie say, for example, about the syndicalist movement, about the IWW and similar movements? Comrade Zinoviev, do you believe that the bourgeoisie would approve of the industrial movement and not attempt to proceed against it in the same way that it does against the political parties? The bourgeoisie does not want the proletariat to found political parties. Does the bourgeoisie want the proletariat to found industrial movements? Not at all.

We can see from the persecution of the syndicalists in every country that this movement is as much feared by the bourgeoisie as any political movement. For this reason we cannot accept the point of view that the industrial movement is not so dangerous for the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, as can be proved from examples, the syndicalist movement is just as damaging to the bourgeoisie as the political revolutionary movement, – even if political parties as such are not feared by the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, political parties are rooted in the bourgeoisie. If we consider the French revolution, we can see that the Jacobins, in whose footsteps the bourgeoisie trod, encouraged the idea of forming political parties. Not the idea of forming industrial parties but that of forming political parties is an inheritance from the bourgeoisie. If we want to juggle with theory I could very easily prove this to you.

Comrade Zinoviev further says that we do not simply want to adopt the old parliamentarism but new forms of it. Here too I do not want to throw light on the question from the theoretical standpoint but to go back to the tendencies that exist in the modern workers’ movement. It must be admitted that the parliamentarian tendency is more and more disappearing among revolutionary workers. On the contrary, a strongly anti-parliamentary tendency is evident in the ranks of the

advanced part of the proletariat. Look at the shop stewards’ movement and the Spanish syndicalists – they are anti-parliamentary. The IWW are absolutely anti-parliamentary. And not only that. You will say that the syndicalists are absolutely insignificant in Germany. But there are over 200,000 of us. I must point out that the idea of anti-parliamentarism is penetrating more and more in Germany, not only through the influence of syndicalist theories but through the revolution itself. We must take notice of this. Most communists in Germany today are anti-parliamentary. We must consider the question in this light and not try, from a doctrinaire theoretical standpoint, to smuggle parliamentarism in by the back door, saying it is good for agitational purposes, when you have just drummed it out of the front door.

Comrade Trotsky has dealt with the most important points in his speech. Comrade Zinoviev says that the trades unions have no programme for the day following the outbreak of the revolution. He pointed out that the trades unions were not in a position to solve the economic and social tasks. Now I should like to ask what are the chosen organisations that are to reorganise the economic life of a society; some bourgeois elements that come together to form a party, who have no contact with economic life, or the elements that stand at the roots of production and consumption? Everybody must admit that only those organisations that stand in the closest contact with production are called upon to organise economic life and take it in hand. There can be no doubt – we can see it in Russia too – that a gigantic role in economic life devolves upon the trades unions.

Ramsay: I shall be as brief as possible. I speak here as a communist who rejects the standpoint of the BSP and does not recognise affiliation to the Labour Party. I have ascertained that only the BSP represents this point of view. The various other groupings are all against participation in the Labour Party. I think it would be a tactical mistake to give guidelines on this question from here, for you would have to be familiar with the whole situation in Britain to be able to establish that here and give guidelines, and what is more to give the BSP or any other party the right to affiliate to the Labour Party or not. This would do great damage to the British party, for the whole British working class is sick and tired of the tactics of the Labour Party.

Serrati: It has been moved that we close the debate. All those in favour please raise your hands. All those against, please raise your hands. The motion has been carried. The Bureau proposes to nominate a commission this evening to decide this point on the agenda. We propose Comrades:

Fraina, United States of America
Ramsay and McLaine, England
Meyer, Germany
Graziadei, Italy
Bukharin, Russia
Kabakchiev, Bulgaria
Steinhardt, Austria
Wijnkoop, Holland
Zinoviev, Executive of the CI

Comrade Levi is proposed in place of Comrade Meyer

All those in favour of this Commission are asked to raise their hands. [The vote takes place] Who is against? [The vote takes place] The Commission is elected. The comrades on the Commission are asked to remain here a few more minutes.

The session is closed.

 

 

Third Session
July 24

 

Serrati: The Commission we elected last night has finished its work and is prepared to report on it. Since the members of the Bureau have not yet appeared I propose to postpone the opening of the session.

The session is opened at 10. 00 am.

Serrati: We are beginning with a delay of two hours. But the Bureau proposes to undertake a division of labour that will make it possible to perceptibly shorten the debates. Five commissions, each consisting of 11 members, are to be elected to make themselves familiar with the various Theses. Every delegation is to have the right to propose one representative each for the Commissions. The Bureau will make its selection from the names proposed by the delegations. The Commission will fix upon a reporter, and the Congress will have the final say.

Pestaña:The Bureau’s proposal does not seem logical to me. I propose we leave it to the individual nationalities to determine themselves the membership of the Commissions.

Serrati:The Bureau would gladly fall in with your proposal if it was familiar with the majority of the delegates. But we are seeing many of them for the first time.

Pestaña: Since the Bureau admits that it does not know the members of the delegations sufficiently well, I think it would be more logical to leave to the delegations themselves the responsibility of determining the membership of the Commissions.

Serrati: The Bureau will not determine the quality but only the quantity. The quality will be determined by the individual delegations.

Pestaña: Is the question to be discussed?

Serrati:Certainly, and the Congress is to speak out freely on it. I propose to take the vote on the Bureau’s proposal.

The Bureau’s proposal is carried by a large majority

Serrati:I shall read out the resolution:

The Congress will be divided up into Commissions which are to discuss the Theses on the main questions on the agenda of the Congress.

Every Commission is composed of from 7 to 11 members.

Every national delegation has the right to nominate one member for each of the Commissions.

The Bureau makes the final choice of the membership of the Commissions.

Each Commission elects a reporter to report to the Congress on the decisions of the Commission in question.

The Commissions must work on the following questions on the agenda and make their proposals on the individual questions:

1. Parliamentarism.

2. Trades unions.

3. The national and colonial question.

4. The agrarian question.

5. Conditions for entry into the Communist International.

6. Statutes and the question of organisation (youth and women’s organisations).

7. The current international situation and the tasks of the Communist International.

Serrati:The Bureau has received the following declaration by the American delegation, addressed to the Second Congress of the Communist International:

In accordance with the decision of the Executive Committee of the Communist International and the desires of the American Communists themselves it is necessary to unite the two Communist Parties.

We therefore salute the formation of the United Communist Party comprising the Communist Labour Party and a considerable part of the Communist Party. But this unification is not complete.

Since the complete unification of the American Communist movement is an unconditional necessity, we, the representatives of the Communist Party and the Communist Labour Party, declare ourselves ready:

1. To work together at the Congress as a single group.

2. To ask the Executive Committee of the Communist International to instruct the elements who refuse to recognise a complete unification to unite on the basis of the Communist International. 3. To subordinate ourselves on the question of unification to the decision of the Executive Committee of the International. [Applause]

Signed for the Communist Party of America by L.C. Fraina and A. Stocklitzki, and for the Communist Labour Party of America by John Reed, J. Jurgis and A. Bilan. Both these organisations had been formed in September 1919 on the same day, in the same building in Chicago. Each claimed to represent the Third International in the USA. An agreement on unification worked out by the ECCI broke down early in 1920, and two delegations were accepted into the Second Congress of the CI. After the Congress had begun, a further delegate arrived, representing a unified body, which had, however, split again. Only in May 1921 did a final unification take place.

The following telegram has reached us from the International Socialist League of South Africa:

At the Annual Congress of the International Socialist League of South Africa, which took place on January 4, 1920 in Johannesburg, it was unanimously decided to affiliate to the Communist International. I entered into communication with the Socialist Labour Party of England and through their mediation with Comrade Rutgers of the Amsterdam Bureau, who advised me to send you this application for entry through his mediation. Herewith a resolution and decisions that will convince you that our policies are in complete agreement with those of the Communist Parties of Europe and the whole world. We will be glad to give further information in reply to your questions. [Applause]

Serrati: The various national delegations are asked to decide their members for the Commissions.

The Bureau has proposed to form a Commission to check credentials. That is Comrades Rosmer, Meyer, Bombacci, Bukharin, Radek and Rudnyansky.

The proposal is accepted by the Congress. The discussion on the role of the Communist Party in the proletarian revolution is continued.

Reed: I ask that the use of the English language should also be officially permitted by the Congress. The number of comrades with a command of the English language is larger than the number of comrades who speak other languages. We were promised an English interpreter, but we have not seen one.

Serrati:We will try to satisfy Comrade Reed as far as the interpreter is concerned. But as has already been explained to the comrade on several occasions, the Bureau cannot accept Reed’s proposal that the use of English as an official language should be permitted.

Balabanova: Comrade Reed, this is the third time you have raised this proposal. The question has already been decided.

Zinoviev: Comrades, I must report to you on the work of the Commission that we elected yesterday. The Commission consisted of the representatives of eight countries: Germany, Russia, France, England, America, Italy, Holland and Bulgaria. The representatives of the shop stewards’ movement and the revolutionary syndicalists were also present. I am delighted to be able to tell you that the resolution was adopted unanimously. [Applause]

I shall tell you the alterations upon which the Commission decided, and must warn you in advance that the stylistic work still has to be done. The Commission elected a small editorial commission of three who have, however, not been able to complete their work. That is a matter of purely stylistic alterations.

The Commission has first of all decided another Introduction to the Theses, since the Introduction was written before the Congress and we now want to formulate it differently. The new Introduction is to read as follows. [Comrade Zinoviev reads out the new Introduction]

We have decided the third Thesis, which deals with the confusion of the concepts party and class, and in which exclusively Russian examples were quoted, to quote a whole series of parallel examples from the workers’ movement of different countries.

Paragraph five deals with our differences of opinion with the revolutionary syndicalists and the supporters of the IWW. This paragraph was also adopted unanimously. It was decided to insert two more sentences. The first is intended to point out that for us not the general strike but the armed uprising is the ultimate means. And this is one more reason for us to have a rigidly disciplined party.

It seems to us that many comrades from the ranks of the revolutionary syndicalists, the IWW and perhaps even of the shop stewards'

movement underestimate the significance of a rigidly disciplined party because many of them imagine that the folded-arms tactic, the general strike, is what comes into question as our ultimate method of fighting. This is not the case.

Our most extreme method of fighting is the armed uprising, and precisely that requires the organisation of revolutionary force, a military organisation and for that reason a centralised party.

And we have decided to insert that once more to make it comprehensible for any worker who is a revolutionary syndicalist.

The best section of the syndicalists has always declared that the role of the revolutionary minority (la minorité initiative) is very large in the revolution. This is very true. We take them at their word and say that, since it is true, they should grasp that a revolutionary minority that is Communist-minded is precisely a Communist Party. This argument is therefore also inserted.

Then the Commission spoke a considerable extent about paragraph six, which was also criticised on many sides yesterday. Paragraph six deals with the question of our relationship to non-party organisations. In order to avoid misunderstandings we decided not to use the word ‘non-partisan’ but to put the expression ‘non-party’ in its place. But that is only a stylistic alteration. The discussion in the commission showed us that this is a very important point on which we will have to reach somewhat deeper-going agreement.

Several comrades thought that this was a question of neutral trades unions. That is not the case. We are decisively against the neutrality of the trades unions and declare that it is simply impossible. We are dealing with something completely different here.

We need a rigidly disciplined party. But we also need a party that always has contact with the masses. The most important thing that we have to say to the Communists of every country is that at every stage of the struggle they must have close contact with the masses of workers, which can be achieved in many ways, by way of co-operation with non-partisan, non-party organisations, groups and conferences. A few examples will show best what we have in mind here.

In Britain the organisation called ‘Hands Off Russia’, which is winning a great deal of influence, is making itself felt. This is a non-party movement that has nonetheless laid hold of the masses. In our opinion the Communists should unquestionably take part in such a movement. They should play the leading role in it and give this movement its direction. Also national and international conferences of the ‘Victims and Invalids of the World War’ have recently been called. We are dealing here with millions of people who are organising themselves, even if only temporarily, on this basis. Should the Communists stand aside here? On the contrary! We must influence these organisations.

A third example, which we take from Austria, is the housing question. It is becoming very acute in Vienna and the workers are becoming very agitated. We have in Vienna a workers’ council which, however, is in the hands of the social patriots. The social patriots do not wish to meet the workers’ needs. Great agitation therefore reigns in Vienna and other towns, and perhaps temporary loose organisations of proletarian tenants could arise. Should the Communists stand aside here? Not at all. Although we have a Communist Party organisation in Vienna, we should and must support such a non-party alliance and guide it in order thus to lead people to communism.

And now an example from the Russian revolution. Our party is reasonably strong, yet nevertheless we organise conferences of non-party workers and even non-party peasants. These conferences have great importance for us. There are groups of workers who say with pride: We are not party members. We take such a worker at his word and say to him: you are not a party member, but you are a proletarian. We want to organise a conference of all the non-party members in this factory or in this district or of the town. Do you want to take part in such a conference? He says yes. Such a conference takes place. What questions will it deal with? The most acute questions, the food question, the question of the Polish war, the debt question, and so forth. Should we stand aside there? Not at all. We go into such a conference, we take part in it, we organise the communist nucleus for it and thus we lead into our Party today masses of workers who yesterday were non-party. This is one of the best kinds of contact with the masses. These conferences are loose organisations, perhaps semi-organisations, although they enjoy great privileges here by reason of our decrees. They can for example elect Inspectors who have the same rights as state Inspectors in many matters. It can perhaps be organised in other ways, but this example is very important. We recommend this Thesis to the attention of those Parties which, like the American and the British Party and some others are still very young and still unfortunately have very little contact with the masses. It is very important to grasp that a much closer contact with the workers and the poor peasants can be achieved in this way. We think that there is still a great deal to be done in this respect in every country, even in Germany, in order to take up not only the best but also the broadest layers of the proletariat into the party and to lead them to communism.

Only small changes have been undertaken in the other Theses. For the British and American Comrades it is very important to know that where we speak of the Labourites and say: ‘The Labourites of every kind in Britain and America preach to the workers the creation of formless workers’ organisations instead of political parties’, we have put ‘yellow Labourites’. We are not talking about the shop stewards here but the Hendersons. The yellow Labourites spread opposition to party-building or they form vague parliamentary-political associations, as we put it. The Labour Party is precisely such a vague association. At least, the Hendersons want their party to look like that.

These are the most important alterations that we have carried out. We have decided to deal with McLaine’s addendum separately. He has given his agreement to this. We will deal with the position in the British party, and perhaps that in the American also, in a special Commission, and give the British and American comrades a precise answer on this question.

This is what the work of the Commission looks like, and, as I have emphasised, the Commission accepted the resolution unanimously.

I would like to say a few words about some of the arguments that were raised against my speech yesterday and have not yet been refuted. First of all the objection of the Spanish syndicalist Comrade Pestaña. He says: yes indeed, if there is to be a party at all, then, as it was in France, it will be as the result of the revolution. The Jacobin Party was, after all, only born as the result of the French revolution. Comrade Pestaña meant by this that we should now also proceed in the same way when faced with the proletarian revolution. He raises the perspective of the party only as a result of the revolution. Is that correct? I think not. If it really were so – and it is not – is it then really an argument in favour of posing the question, now in 1920 when we have to fight against a whole world of bourgeois parties armed to the teeth, as if we are only to build a party ‘as the result’ of the revolution? But what do we do during the revolution? Who will organise the best ranks of the workers at the beginning of the revolution? Who will prepare, work out the programme, spread it? I think we must tell every worker, and every revolutionary syndicalist who takes the proletarian revolution seriously – and I know that Comrade Pestaña is one of those comrades who take the cause of the revolution seriously – that the conclusion we draw from this must be that we do not wait for the revolution to come and surprise us, and for a party to crystallise out as a result, but that we begin to organise the Party now, without wasting a single hour.

Comrade Pestaña goes on to say that it was not the Communists who made the revolution in Russia, but the people. That is correct. We do not at all want to deny that the people made the revolution, if you can talk of ‘making’ revolutions. But the Communist Party is the best section of the working people, no more, but no less. And that is no small thing, to be an organised nucleus, that precedes the masses of the people, collects the best people round it, and leads the masses of the workers forward.

I would also like to say something about the ‘autonomy’ that was discussed yesterday. We heard from various sides yesterday that the decision on this or that question should be left to the parties of the countries in question and that their autonomy should not be tampered with. I think these are the echoes of the kind of autonomy the Second International propagated. We must say this openly. Of course there must be a certain autonomy for every party, there can be no objection to that. But there is autonomy and autonomy. We know that the revisionists adopted the slogan of autonomy fifteen years ago and that they always press this line, not only on an international scale but within their own party, where they say that every town, Berlin, Leipzig, must be autonomous. The experience of our Russian revolution teaches us that if we have that conception we do not have a party but a number of parties. It is like that in France now. People there say ‘the Paris party’ or ‘the Lyons party’, and so on. That is the technical expression. That is autonomy in the sense handed down by the Second International We do not need a party in which every town is ‘autonomous’, we need a party that is centralised on a national as well as an international scale.

I know very well that if we now create statutes for the Communist International that are based on the principles of centralism, this does not mean that we already have a uniform revolutionary International. We still have to fight for that. And it goes without saying that sometimes you have no choice but to submit. It is often better to submit to the common whole and to make mistakes than it is to introduce the kind of ‘autonomy’ that means splitting the working class. In the statutes of the First International Marx said: if we remain wage slaves, if the struggle of the working class has remained unsuccessful so long, it is because we are so disunited, because the workers do not understand that we must have a united organisation. During the last fifty years a whole historical epoch has passed. The imperialist war has shown us, and every worker understands today, that the fate of the working class in each country is bound up with the fate of the working class of all countries. The war has shown us that only too vividly. It is a matter now of drawing the correct conclusions and persuading the masses so that they understand that such a centralised international organisation is needed.

The unanimous acceptance of the resolution that expresses the historical significance of the role of the Communist Party in the proletarian revolution, the unanimity which we shall, I hope, achieve at the Congress itself, is of great historical importance. Socialism has been through a terrible crisis. There is ferment everywhere. There are various groups in every country; the workers are seeking the correct path. We must not persecute the workers who are not yet completely with us, as the Second International did, we must not laugh them out of court as soon as leftward tendencies become noticeable, as happened in the Second International. On the contrary, we must take such comrades into our ranks, study the questions with them, discuss with them, and uncover their mistakes so that they can be cured of them. This fact is the best proof that the Communist International is a viable organism. This is precisely its essence, that it embraces all the revolutionary elements of the working class, whether yesterday they were syndicalists, whether they belonged to the shop stewards movement, as long as they are comrades who understand what revolutionary struggle means, who are for the dictatorship and who have shown that they want to fight together with us. They must be in our ranks. Then they will become clearer on every question as each day passes.

If we carry out these guidelines in our daily lives and turn every word into deeds, that will mean that we are finally starting to build a really international, united Communist Party, and that is what we ought to be. We should be one single Communist Party with departments in different countries. [Applause] That should be the meaning of the Communist International. When the Russian Communists, who were the first to do so, changed their name from Social Democrats to Communists, someone among us suggested that we should not call ourselves the Communist Party of Russia, but simply the Communist Party. We ought to be a single party that has its sections in Russia, in Germany, in France and so on, a party that proceeds completely consciously and systematically. Only then will we achieve the concentration of our forces, only under these preconditions will every group of the international working class at any given moment always have the highest possible support of other countries. We must say this clearly and distinctly to the comrades.

Now there is still in the Communist International, within the parties affiliated to us, a foreign body that does not belong to us. I mean the reformists. We say that in every speech and will go on repeating it until an end has been put to it. At the beginning of the imperialist war the phrase was coined: The enemy is at home. That meant the bourgeoisie. As long as we still tolerate a reformist wing in a party that calls itself Communist, as for example the Italian Party, as long as we have complete reformists, that is to say bourgeois ideologists, in our ranks, we must sound the alarm and declare that the enemy is at home. [Applause]

That is why we say to the Italian comrades: Your enemy is at home, you must drive him out.

Since we are on our way to victory the reformists want to sneak into our ranks. They have a good nose, these gentlemen. They can smell their defeat, and when you throw them out of the window they come back in through the door. [Applause]Often they sign our resolutions and remain as they were. They remain reformists, they remain champions of the cause of the bourgeoisie in the camp of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie only exists today with the help of the social patriots, who do not understand that the bourgeois class is our enemy. The bourgeoisie could not last six months if it did not have these social-patriotic gentlemen, if we did not have the yellow International in Amsterdam, if we did not have people who sit in the workers’ parties and the trades unions to sabotage our struggle.

An ordinary worker from Helsinki in Finland who worked illegally under the White terror in Finland for a year and a half recently told me how difficult the struggle is there and how, nevertheless, the Finnish workers organise. At the same time he said that at home every ordinary revolutionary worker knew that when the time came the first job would be to break with the White social democrats and the second job would be to settle accounts with the traitors. [Great applause] The bourgeoisie will have its turn soon enough, their hour will strike. But first of all we must settle accounts with these traitors to the working class who bear the guilt for the fact that thousands of our comrades were slaughtered and that the White terror rages everywhere.

This Finnish worker’s simple feelings are true political reality, unlike the results of the bad diplomacy of some of our worthy comrades. Twenty-five years ago Turati wrote a good workers’ anthem, and even today he is probably a good father, but should we for that reason let this saboteur of the proletarian party into the party? Perhaps Hilferding will again he so good as to admit that the bourgeoisie must be thrown out. Should we therefore entrust to this treacherous social Patriot and social pacifist the editorship of our organ?

No. It is not good enough. It is the simple Finnish worker who is right, who has grasped the situation very well after everything he has suffered in his own person during these terrible years. We want to tell our comrades openly and clearly, although it is perhaps very tragic for many an old comrade who has to break with old friends, there is nothing to be done about it; a new epoch in history has begun. To this best part of the old leadership we say that you must understand that a new epoch has dawned. You must say: ‘We were mistaken, we are coming to join you, we want to lead the proletarian revolution onwards with you now.'

That would be the significance of a unanimous acceptance of the Theses on the important role of the Communist Party in the coming, growing, approaching proletarian revolution.

Great applause. Break.

 

After break. Third Session.
July 24

 

Zinoviev: I declare the session open. We will now discuss the issue of the role of the Communist Party. Whether we need a discussion, or whether we can simply put it to the vote, is open to question. I feel that we can simply put it to the vote, but the Congress should decide. The Theses read as follows:

Theses on the Role of the Communist Party in the Proletarian Revolution

The international proletariat faces decisive struggles. The epoch in which we now live is the epoch of open civil war. The decisive hour is approaching. In almost every country in which there is a workers’ movement of any importance, the working class faces a series of bitter struggles, arms in hand.

More than ever before the working class requires strict organisation. It must prepare itself untiringly for this struggle now, without wasting a single hour of valuable time.

If the working class had possessed a disciplined Communist Party, even a small one, at the time of the Paris Commune of 1871, the first heroic uprising of the French proletariat would have been much more powerful and many mistakes and weaknesses could have been avoided.

The struggles that the proletariat now face in a different historical situation will be far more fateful than those of 1871. The Second Congress of the Communist International therefore draws the attention of the revolutionary working class throughout the world to the following:

1. The Communist Party is a part of the working class, and moreover its most advanced, most class-conscious and therefore its most revolutionary part. The Communist Party is created by the method of the natural selection of the best, the most class-conscious, the most self-sacrificing, and the most far-sighted workers. The Communist Party has no interests that differ from the interests of the whole working class. The Communist Party differs from the whole working class because it has an overall view of the whole historical road of the working class in its totality and because at every turn in this road it strives to defend not just the interests of a single group or a single trade, but the interests of the working class in its totality. The Communist Party is the organisational and political lever with whose help the advanced part of the working class can steer the whole mass of the proletariat and the semi-proletariat on to the correct road.

2. Until the time when state power has been conquered by the proletariat, and the proletariat has established its rule once and for all and secured it from bourgeois restoration, until that time the Communist Party will only have the minority of the working class organised in its ranks. Until the seizure of power and during the period of transition the Communist Party is able, under favourable conditions, to exercise undivided mental and political influence over all the proletarian and half-proletarian layers of the population, but is not able to unite them organisationally in its ranks. Only after the proletarian dictatorship has wrested out of the hands of the bourgeoisie such powerful media of influence as the press, education, parliament, the church, the administrative machine and so on, only after the defeat of the bourgeois order has become clear for all to see, only then will all or almost all workers start to enter the ranks of the Communist Party.

3. The concept of the party and that of the class must be kept strictly separate. The members of the ‘Christian’ and liberal trades unions of Germany, England and other countries are undoubtedly part of the working class. The more or less significant sections of workers who still stand behind Scheidemann, Gompers and company are undoubtedly part of the working class. It is very possible that, under certain historical circumstances, the working class can become interspersed with numerous reactionary layers. The task of communism does not lie in accommodating to these backward parts of the working class, but in raising the whole of the working class to the level of the communist vanguard. The confusion of these two concepts party and class can lead to the greatest mistakes and confusion. Thus it is clear, for example, that during the imperialist war, despite the moods and prejudices of a certain section of the working class, the workers’ party had to oppose these moods and prejudices at any cost and represent the historical interests of the working class, which demanded that the proletarian party declared war on war.

Thus, at the beginning of the imperialist war in 1914, the parties of the social traitors in every country, in supporting their ‘own’ bourgeoisie, could point to corresponding expressions of the will of the working class. But in the process they forgot that, even if that was the case, the duty of the proletarian party in such a state of affairs would have to be to oppose the mood of the majority and to represent, despite everything, the historical interests of the proletariat. In the same way at the beginning of the twentieth century the Russian Mensheviks of the day (the so-called Economists) rejected the open political struggle against Tsarism with the argument that the working class as a whole had not yet ripened to an understanding of the political struggle.

[At the 1903 Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, a split took place on Rule 1 of the constitution. Lenin’s group won a majority over that of Martov, advocating a looser type of organisation. The two factions were thereafter known as ‘Bolshevik’ and ‘Menshevik’, from the Russian words for majority and minority. In the course of the 1905 Revolution, the breach widened, and in 1912 two separate parties were formed. In 1917, some of the left-wing Mensheviks joined the Bolshevik Party, and the right wing became open enemies of the Soviet state. In exile, they organised, first in the centrist Two-and-a-Half International, and then in the Second.]

And in the same way the right-wing Independents in Germany in all their half-measures point to the fact that ‘the masses wish it’, without understanding that the party is there for the purpose of going in advance of the masses and showing them the way.

4. The Communist International remains firmly convinced that the collapse of the old ‘social democratic’ parties of the Second International can under no circumstances be portrayed as the collapse of the proletarian party type of organisation in general. The epoch of the direct struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat brings a new party of the proletariat into the world: the Communist Party.

5. The Communist International rejects most decisively the view that the proletariat can carry out its revolution without having an independent political party. Every class struggle is a political struggle. The aim of this struggle, which inevitably turns into civil war, is the conquest of political power. Political power can only be seized, organised and led by a political party, and in no other way. Only when the proletariat has as a leader an organised and tested party with well marked aims and with a tangible, worked-out programme for the next measures to be taken not only at home but also in foreign policy, will the conquest of political power not appear as an accidental episode but serve as the starting point for the permanent communist construction of society by the proletariat.

The same class struggle demands in the same way the centralisation and common leadership of the different forms of the proletarian movement (trades unions, co-operatives, works committees, cultural work, elections and so forth). Only a political party can be such a unifying and leading centre. To renounce the creation and strengthening of such a party, to renounce subordinating oneself to it, is to renounce unity in the leadership of the individual battle units of the proletariat who are advancing on the different battlefields. The class struggle of the proletariat demands a concerted agitation that illuminates the different stages of the struggle from a uniform point of view and at every given moment directs the attention of the proletariat towards specific tasks common to the whole class. That cannot be done without a centralised political apparatus, that is to say outside of a political party. The propaganda carried out by the revolutionary syndicalists and the Industrial Workers of the World against the necessity of such a party therefore contributes and has contributed objectively only to the support of the bourgeoisie and the counter-revolutionary ‘social democrats’. In their propaganda against a Communist Party, which they wish to replace exclusively by trades unions or some formless ‘general’ workers’ unions, the syndicalists and industrialists rub shoulders with open opportunists. For several years after the defeat of the 1905 revolution the Russian Mensheviks preached the idea of the so-called Workers’ Congress, which was supposed to replace the revolutionary party of the working class. The ‘yellow Labourites’ of every kind in Britain and America preach to the workers the creation of formless workers’ organisations or vague, merely parliamentary associations instead of the political party and at the same time put completely bourgeois policies into deeds. The revolutionary syndicalists and industrialists want to fight against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, but do not know how. They do not see that without an independent political party the working class is a rump without a head.

Revolutionary syndicalism and industrialism mean a step forward only in comparison with the old, musty, counter-revolutionary ideology of the Second International. In comparison however with revolutionary Marxism, that is to say with communism, syndicalism and industrialism mean a step backwards. The declaration by the ‘left’ Communist Workers’ Party of Germany (KAPD) at its founding conference in April that it is founding a party, but ‘not a party in the traditional sense’ means an ideological capitulation to those views of syndicalism and industrialism that are reactionary.

With the general strike alone , with the tactic of folded arms, the working class cannot achieve victory over the bourgeoisie. The proletariat must take on the armed uprising. Whoever understands that will also have to grasp that an organised political party is necessary and that formless workers’ unions are not sufficient.

The revolutionary syndicalists often talk about the great role of the determined revolutionary minority. Well, a truly determined minority of the working class, a minority that is Communist, that wishes to act, that has a programme and wishes to organise the struggle of the masses, is precisely the Communist Party.

6. The most important task of a truly Communist Party consists in always remaining in the closest contact with the broadest layers of the proletariat.

In order to achieve this, the Communists can and should work in those associations that are non-party but nonetheless embrace big layers of the proletariat, such as for example the organisations of war invalids in the various countries, the ‘Hands off Russia’ Committees in Britain, proletarian tenants’ associations, etc. The Russian example of conferences of so-called ‘non-party’ workers and peasants is particularly important. Such conferences are organised in almost every town, in every workers’ district and also in the countryside. The broadest masses even of the backward workers take part in the elections to these conferences. The most important current questions are placed on the agenda: the food question, the housing question, military questions, education, the political tasks of the day, etc. The Communists influence these ‘non-party’ conferences most zealously – and with great success for the party.

The Communists think that one of their most important tasks is the work of organisation and education within these broad workers’ organisations. But precisely in order to organise this work successfully, to prevent the enemies of the revolutionary proletariat from taking over these broad workers’ movements, the advanced Communist workers must form their own, independent, closed Communist Party, which always proceeds in an organised fashion and is able to perceive the general interests of communism at every turn of events and in all forms of the movement.

7. Communists by no means avoid non-party mass organisations of workers. Under certain conditions they do not hold back from participating in them and using them even if they are of an emphatically reactionary character (yellow unions, Christian unions, etc.) The Communist Party constantly carries out its propaganda within these organisations and tirelessly convinces the workers that the idea of not joining a party on principle is consciously encouraged among the workers by the bourgeoisie and their assistants to divert the proletarians from the organised struggle for socialism.

8. The old ‘classical’ division of the workers’ movement into three forms – the party, the trades unions and the co-operatives – has obviously been overtaken. The proletarian revolution in Russia has created the basic form of the proletarian dictatorship – the soviets. The new division that we are everywhere encountering is (1) the party, (2) the soviet, (3) the productive association (the trade union). But the workers’ councils too, as well as the revolutionary production associations, must constantly and systematically be led by the party of the proletariat, that is to say by the Communist Party. The organised vanguard of the working class, the Communist Party, which must lead the struggle of the whole working class to the same extent in the economic and political and also in the cultural field, must be the guiding spirit not only of the producers’ associations and of the workers’ councils, but also in all the other forms of proletarian organisation.

The rise of the soviets as the basic historical form of the dictatorship by no means decreases the leading role of the Communist Party in the proletarian revolution. If the ‘left’ Communists of Germany (cf. their appeal to the German proletariat of April 14, 1920 signed ‘Communist Workers’ Party of Germany') declare: ‘That the Party too adapts more and more to the idea of Soviets, and takes on a proletarian character’ (Kommunistische Arbeiterzeitung, no. 54), then this is a confused expression of the idea that the Communist Party must dissolve itself into the soviets, that the soviets can replace the Communist Party.

This idea is fundamentally false and reactionary.

In the history of the Russian revolution we experienced a whole period in which the soviets marched against the proletarian party and supported the policies of the agents of the bourgeoisie. The same thing could be observed in Germany. The same thing is also possible in other countries.

On the contrary, the existence of a powerful Communist Party is necessary in order to enable the soviets to do justice to their historic tasks, a party that does not simply ‘adapt itself’ to the soviets, but is in a position to make them renounce ‘adaptations’ of their own to the bourgeoisie and White Guard social democracy, a party which, by means of the Communist factions in the soviets, is in a position to take the soviets under the leadership of the Communist Party.

Whoever suggests to the Communist Party that it should ‘adapt’ to the soviets, whoever sees a strengthening of the Party’s ‘proletarian character’ in such an adaptation, is doing the Party and the soviets a highly questionable favour, and understands the significance neither of the soviets nor of the Party. The ‘soviet idea’ will be all the sooner victorious, the stronger are the parties that we create in every country. Many ‘Independents’ and even right-wing socialists announce their support for the ‘soviet idea’ in words now. We will only be able to prevent these elements from distorting the soviet idea if we have a strong Communist Party that is in a position to influence decisively the policies of the soviets.

9. The working class does not only need the Communist Party before and during the conquest of power, but also after the transfer of power into the hands of the working class. The history of the Communist Party of Russia, which has been in power for almost three years, shows that the importance of the Communist Party does not diminish after the conquest of power by the working class, but on the contrary grows extraordinarily.

10. On the day the working class conquers power its party nevertheless remains as before only a part of the working class. It is precisely that part of the working class that organised the victory. For two decades in Russia and for a number of years in Germany the Communist Party has carried out its fight not only against the bourgeoisie but also against those ‘socialists’ who are the bearers of the bourgeois influence in the working class. It took into its ranks the most steadfast, far-sighted and advanced fighters in the working class. Only the existence of such a close organisation of the elite of the working class makes it possible to overcome all the difficulties that place themselves in the path of the workers’ dictatorship on the day following the victory. In the organisation of a new proletarian Red Army, in the actual liquidation of the bourgeois state apparatus and its replacement by the nucleus of a new proletarian state apparatus, in the fight against the craft tendencies of individual groups of workers, in the fight against local and regional ‘patriotism’ and in opening up paths to the creation of a new work discipline – in all of these areas the decisive word of the Communist Party belongs. Its members must fire and lead the majority of the working class by their own example.

11. The need for a political party of the proletariat will only disappear with the complete dissolution of the classes. On the way to the final victory of communism it is possible that the historical significance of the three fundamental forms of proletarian organisation of the present (party, soviets, production associations) will change, and that the uniform type of the workers’ organisation will gradually crystallise out. The Communist Party will not however completely dissolve into the working class until communism has ceased to be an object of struggle and the whole of the working class has become communist.

12. The Second Congress of the Communist International not only confirms the historical tasks of the Communist Party in general, but tells the international proletariat, if only in general outline, what kind of Communist Party we require.

13. The Communist International is of the opinion that, particularly in the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Communist Party must be built on the basis of an iron proletarian centralism. To lead the working class successfully in the long and hard civil wars that have broken out, the Communist Party must create an iron military order in its own ranks. The experiences of the Communist Party that led the working class during three years of the Russian civil war have shown that, without the strictest discipline, complete centralism and full comradely confidence of all the party organisations in the leading party centre, the victory of the workers is impossible.

14. The Communist Party must be built up on the basis of democratic centralism. The chief principle of democratic centralism is the election of the higher party cells by the lower, the unconditional and indispensable binding authority of all of the instructions of the higher bodies for the lower and the existence of a strong party centre whose authority is generally recognised for all leading party comrades in the period from one party conference to another.

15. A series of Communist Parties in Europe and America have been forced as a result of the state of emergency declared against the Communists by the bourgeoisie, to lead an illegal existence. It must be remembered that in such a state of affairs one is from time to time obliged to abandon the strict observance of the principle of election and to permit the leading party institutions the right of co-option, as was the case in Russia on occasion. Under a state of emergency the Communist Party is not able to use a democratic referendum to solve every serious question, but is rather forced to give its leading centre the right whenever necessary to make important decisions for every party member.

16. The spreading of a broad ‘autonomy’ for the individual local party branches at present only weakens the ranks of the Communist Party, undermines its ability to act and favours the petty-bourgeois, anarchist, liquidationist tendencies.

17. In the countries in which the bourgeoisie or counter-revolutionary social democracy is still in power, the Communist Parties must learn to link the illegal work with the legal in a planned manner. In the process the legal work must constantly be under the actual control of the illegal party. The Communist parliamentary factions, not only in the central (national), but also in the local (regional and local council) institutions of the state, must be subordinate to the control of the whole party – regardless of whether the whole party is legal or illegal at any given moment. Those members of parliament who refuse in any shape or form to subordinate themselves to the party must be expelled from the ranks of the Communist Party.

The legal press (newspapers and publishing) must be subordinated totally and unconditionally to the whole party and its Central Committee.

18. The basis of the organisational activity of the Communist Party must everywhere be the creation of a Communist cell, however small the number of proletarians and semi-proletarians involved may be from time to time. In every soviet, in every trade union, in every factory, in every co-operative society, in every residents’ committee (tenants’ association), wherever there are even only three people who fight for communism a Communist cell must be formed immediately. Only the unity of the Communists gives the vanguard of the proletariat the possibility of leading the whole working class. An Communist Party cells that work in non-party organisations are unconditionally subordinated to the whole party organisation, completely irrespective of whether the Party is working legally or illegally at that given moment. The Communist cells of every kind must be subordinated the one to the other on the basis of the strictest order of precedence according to the most precise system possible.

19. The Communist Party arises almost everywhere as an urban party, as a party of industrial workers who for the main part live in towns. For the easiest and quickest possible victory of the working class it is necessary for the Communist Party to become not only the party of the towns but also the party of the villages. The Communist Party must develop its propaganda and its organisational activity among rural workers and the small and middle peasants. The Communist Party must work with especial care on the organisation of Communist cells in the countryside.

The international organisation of the proletariat can only be strong if the views on the role of the Communist Party formulated above take root in every country in which Communists live and fight. The Communist International has invited to its Congress every trade union that recognises the principles of the Communist International and is prepared to break with the yellow international. The Communist International will organise an international section of red trades unions standing on the foundation of communism. The Communist International will not refuse to work with any non-party workers’ organisation that wishes to carry out a serious revolutionary fight against the bourgeoisie. In the process, however, the Communist International will make the following points to the proletarians, of the whole world:

1. The Communist Party is the main and fundamental weapon for the liberation of the working class. In every country we must have not just groups or currents, but a Communist Party.

2. In every country there should exist only one single unified Communist Party.

3. The Communist Party should be built up on the principle of the strictest centralisation, and in the epoch of the civil war it should have military discipline reigning in its ranks.

4. Wherever there are only a dozen proletarians or semi-proletarians the Communist Party must have an organised cell.

5. There must be – in every non-party institution a Communist Party cell subordinate to the whole party.

6. Firmly and persistently defending the programme and revolutionary tactics of communism, the Communist Party must constantly be linked as closely as possible with the broad workers’ organisations and avoid sectarianism as much as opportunism.

Serrati: What proposals are there? Does anyone propose a discussion? That does not seem to be the case. We will therefore vote immediately. All those in favour of the Theses with the amendments that have been reported here are asked to raise their hands. All those against please raise their hands. Are there any abstentions, perhaps? The Theses are adopted unanimously. We propose a break of half an hour or so so that the delegations can immediately nominate their candidates for the Commissions. The Bureau will then check the lists and place a final list before the Congress.

Balabanova: We will now vote on the Bureau’s proposal. All those in favour raise their hands. Who is against? The proposal is accepted unanimously. [A half-hour break. ]

Serrati reads the Commission lists.

Shatskin: I have an amendment to propose on the Organisation Commission. I would like to propose that representatives of the Youth International should be sent into the Commission, which is also discussing the question of the international youth movement. The youth have put forward Theses that will be discussed on this Commission; they must therefore have the right to defend them. It is strange that the authors of these Theses have not been taken on to the Commission despite their proposal.

Zinoviev: The Presidium has provided for the election of two sub-committees for the women’s question and the youth question. Not one or two but several youth, and not one but several representatives of the women’s movement are to participate in these subcommittees. This is how we see it: the organisational question, the Statutes of the Communist International, is very important. Then there are still other questions. Therefore the Presidium has decided to form two sub-committees of the Organisation Commission: for the women’s movement and the youth question. I believe it is most appropriate that way. The Congress should agree.

The vote is taken. The Bureau’s proposal is adopted unanimously without amendment.

Zinoviev:We have elected a Commission to work out the conditions of acceptance into the Communist International. It is proposed on behalf of the Congress to invite the representatives of the Independent Socialist Party of Germany (USPD) and of the French Socialist Party into this Commission also. It is a question of their parties, and their presence during the discussion of these questions would be very desirable.

Wijnkoop: If I understand the proposal correctly, comrades, the USPD and the French Socialist Party are to be invited to our Commission on affiliation to the Communist International. I must say that I cannot understand it, and that on behalf of my party I declare myself against.

We have already proposed on the Executive that these two parties should not be allowed into the Congress at all, because they are not Communist Parties. My party is of the opinion that we should not negotiate at all with the USPD, with a party that is now sitting in the Presidium of the Reichstag, that is to say, with a governing party. In our opinion one cannot at all negotiate with such a party.

Things are somewhat different with the French party, not much, but a little better.

I do not need to tell you how we stand in relation to accepting these parties into the Communist International. I shall speak on that later. I can understand that the question of accepting such a party into the Communist International can be raised, but that it can only be dealt with if the party has made an official application to be let into the Communist International. At the moment I know nothing of any such application, and we will speak about it if it comes. In the same way such parties and their delegates should not be given the right to take part in the Congress unless they have sought affiliation to the Communist International.

At the moment we do not know whether applications from one or the other of these parties to join the Communist International have been sent to us. Should one come, however, from the USPD, it would have to be rejected out of hand. One cannot negotiate with a government party.

As far as the French Party is concerned, the application will first of all have to be to hand. If it is not to hand, we cannot permit these parties which do not belong to us, which are not revolutionary and not communist, into the Commission in which we are to consider the proposals for the future conditions of entry. I do not want to say any more. I have made other proposals to the Executive and they were rejected. Now I propose we should not let these parties into our Commission.

Radek: Comrades, the Dutch delegate’s motion first of all contradicts the entire healthy line of thought of the Congress. The delegates of the USPD were admitted in an advisory capacity by the Credentials Commission. If someone has the right to consult, he also has the right to learn under what conditions he can join an international association. But irrespective of the formal side the motion is against healthy logic. Every one of us knows that we are involved in negotiations with the USPD over the question of their entry into the Communist International. Everybody knows that millions of German workers who support this party have fought in the most energetic manner for its entry into the Communist International. If these great masses of workers send their delegates to us here so that they can discuss the conditions of entry into the Communist International with us, to adopt Comrade Wijnkoop’s motion would not only be an act of discourtesy towards those delegates, but it would be an act – I shall not describe it in greater detail – towards the German workers. It goes without saying that the USPD must have the opportunity not only to find out what they want but also to find out what we want. Entry into the Communist International does not take place in the way Comrade Wijnkoop imagines: ‘Prisoner at the bar, what do you have to say in your defence?’ It is an act of negotiation between parties who wish to amalgamate. For this reason I propose Comrade Wijnkoop’s motion be rejected without any further ado.

Van Leuven: Comrades, my fellow delegate Comrade Wijnkoop said that, on behalf of the Dutch Party, he was against the proposal to let the USPD and also the French party into the Commission. Perhaps, or rather probably, he is right. But it must be established that the question has not been discussed in our party. We could not know that we were going to encounter this situation. So perhaps he is right. Personally, I have a slightly different opinion on the matter. I think that for example the delegates of the USPD have come here under pressure from the left wing of the party, the worker masses. But when Comrade Wijnkoop speaks against letting them in here I agree with him. We have had the opportunity in the Executive of putting questions to these German delegates. Radek put nine questions and the others also put a number. I too put some questions there, that is to say those that are raised on page 107 of Comrade Lenin’s Theses. The conditions for full unification are quoted there. As I have mentioned, other comrades such as for example Comrade Levi put questions as I did. Now it seems extraordinary to me that you want to let these men in here without receiving the answer to these questions, that is to say without testing the correctness of their journey here. It seems extraordinary and strange to me. If Comrade Radek says that Comrade Wijnkoop’s remarks contradict healthy logic, then I ask him if it is logical to let these people in here without having had an answer to the questions that have been put.

Guilbeaux: I am of the opinion that the representatives of the USPD and the French party should not be let in because they have made no formal application to join the Communist International. The representatives of the French party have been in Moscow for some time and have had the opportunity to answer the questions that have been put. Meanwhile the French party has sent letters and telegrams to Moscow that were calculated to increase the confusion and make our job more difficult. I therefore move that we should not permit particularly the representatives of the French party to participate in any common work.

Radek: Comrades, when you admit a delegation of a big party in an advisory capacity, you should know what this advisory capacity means and not carry out a discussion about it. But since the two Dutch comrades and Comrade Guilbeaux have given serious reasons why the ‘advisory capacity’ should consist of a muzzle, I permit myself to go into the question once more.

Comrade Van Leuven said the Executive had put a whole series of questions to the representatives of the USPD, and that they had not yet answered these questions. As Secretary of the Executive I must state that they have not yet answered the questions because as yet the subsequent session has not taken place, and because we asked the comrades to wait before giving their answers in order to orientate themselves on the questions in front of the Congress. But if you put a question you should wait for an answer.

Comrade Van Leuven’s best hope of gazing into the soul of the USPD is precisely to let them participate in the Commission that is to discuss affiliation to the Communist International.

We have raised a great number of accusations against the USPD and I think I have done as much in combating the USPD in the Communist International as Van Leuven and Wijnkoop together. But if the USPD representatives think that a part of these accusations are factually incorrect, they must be given the opportunity to defend and prove their point of view. As far as the French party is concerned, it has also been said here that neither party had made an application for affiliation. If that is true, why have we given them the right to speak in an advisory capacity? Why are we negotiating with them? I do not think that this is a discussion that can contribute to clarification, but the expression of a radicalism in words that is not backed up by the will to deeds.

Däumig: I do not intend to go into the material content of the questions now occupying the Congress. Let the Congress decide as it sees fit on the question of letting us in. I have also no occasion to go into Comrade Wijnkoop’s remarks, unencumbered as they are by any knowledge of the facts. You should accept the word of an old politician that he knows that the USPD is not a government party, that is not a ruling party, but that it is in opposition to the government. I protest most decisively against the characterisation of my party as not being a revolutionary party. My party numbers thousands of casualties who have given their blood, thousands of dead and wounded, thousands in prison and in front of the courts. I oppose the characterisation of our party as a non-revolutionary party. We will talk on all the other issues when the Commission meets.

Wijnkoop: I think it is shameful that even at the Congress Däumig tries his demagogy. As far as I know I must state that this Däumig was the man, even during the Kapp putsch, who told the workers that they should not arm themselves. And this man turns up here in Russia, where everybody knows that the victory can only come through the civil war. But Comrade Radek said here that we were carrying on a radicalism of words. [Interjection from Radek: ‘Stupid man.’] He thinks I am a stupid man ... he takes it back. I say that because you can see how Radek is always dragging down the level of the discussion. But the comrades here do not seem to know what it means in Western European countries when men like Däumig, politicians like Cachin are put on the same footing here at the Communist International as Communist and revolutionary parties that have already been involved in the work for a long time. I warn you against it. I hope that the comrades will give these people here nothing more than they deserve, and that is, in the case of the USPD, nothing, and in the case of the French socialists, if they apply to be let in, whatever confidence they have a right to.

Zinoviev: Comrades, I do not even have to say that we fight against the vacillations and indecision of the right wing of the USPD and will continue to fight. But what Comrade Wijnkoop has said here is simply laughable, and does not compromise our Congress but Wijnkoop and the party that sent him here. It is clear that we have and should have the greatest respect for the 10,000 or 11,000 members who are now in gaol. They are fighters and proletarians who fight for the cause of socialism. I do not know how many members of Wijnkoop’s party are in gaol now, and how many times Wijnkoop has personally faced a bourgeois court, and how many times he has been in prison for the cause of the proletariat. We will argue with the comrades of the USPD and cross swords with them twenty times over. But we must not forget this, that thousands of independent workers have been shot by the bourgeoisie and the capitalist scum, and we will not forget that in all these struggles the members of the USPD were at the centre of the fight. I say clearly that – for the Communist International the objective revolutionary role of 800,000 workers, badly led as they are, with vacillation and indecision, will weigh more heavily in favour of the proletarian revolution on the scales of history than a couple of thousand Dutch Tribunites together with the Christian Socialists.

[The journal De Tribune had been founded in Holland in 1907 by Wijnkoop, Corter and Van Ravestyn. This group had been the basis for the formation of the Dutch Social Democratic Workers Party, which split from the Social Democratic Party in 1909, and then the Communist Party in 1918. It was then a centre for ‘Leftism’.]

We have said and will repeat that we will negotiate with every mass party, even though it makes mistakes, that wants to fight with us for the cause of the proletariat, and we will seek to come to terms with it. We will deal with the revolutionary workers in the USPD just as we deal with the workers from the shop stewards’ movement, although they are not communists. If we were to make concessions to the rotten ideology of Kautsky you would be right, but we have not done so. It would be laughable, and Comrade Wijnkoop is laughable, speaking on behalf of a party that has only 1,500 members after fifteen years of activity, to reject the representatives of a party in whose ranks are organised hundreds of thousands of ordinary workers who always fight shoulder to shoulder with the Communists, honest and revolutionary, as workers always are. Therefore I insist on my motion that we invite these comrades in, talk with them openly and tell them our conditions, and we are convinced that two months later the great majority of the workers from the USPD will be organised not only morally but also formally in the Communist International.

Levi: Comrades, until this evening I believed that, ignorant as he was, Comrade Wijnkoop was one of those people who could at least be taught. Two days ago I was at great pains to explain to him that the Presidium of the German Reichstag is made up purely mechanically according to the numbers of votes of the parties, that the Presidium has no connection with government appointments and that you cannot argue any participation in the government from it, since the Presidium of the Reichstag has got nothing to do with the government. Two days ago it looked as if Comrade Wijnkoop had taken in at least something from this instruction. If therefore this evening he throws everything to the four winds and comes back with the phrase about the government party, he only proves that all he is interested in is phrases and nothing else. And he proves that by coming here and talking about German conditions like someone who has never even read a German newspaper. I tell you, you would not laugh so stupidly if you had experienced one tenth of the revolutionary struggles that we have experienced side by side with the Independents.

Yes, we have fought the USPD, we still fight them step by step, drive them before us and tell them to their faces where they go wrong. But when people come from Holland, people who have not yet stirred a finger for the German revolution and the world revolution, when they come and raise criticisms, then we must stand testimony for Hector and say that there are tens and hundreds of thousands of German workers who forced these comrades to come here. The whole intellectual and organisational apparatus of the party opposed the hundreds of thousands, and the hundreds of thousands forced the issue: they had to come to Moscow. And in Moscow there appears the man who was so ready to do great revolutionary deeds when it was a question of winning the Dutch mandate with the promise not to fight against the Entente, at the moment when Soviet Russia was in deadly danger. That is what I have to say to you, Comrade Wijnkoop. Yes indeed, you still have to justify yourself against this criticism. And I tell you if we have occasion to speak to these comrades from the USPD about their errors and tell them what we demand of them, then you, Comrade Wijnkoop, are the last person to appear in that role.

I want to remind you of something else. I want to remind you of the summer of last year, of the most difficult time of our period of illegality, when almost all our comrades were in prison. We turned then to your party for support, we asked your party comrades to come to us. We asked the party comrades on whose behalf you are becoming so indignant here to send us Gorter and Pannekoek. [Interjection from Wijnkoop and Van Leuven: ‘That is a big lie.’] I tell you, in that most difficult moment, when it was not even possible for us to staff our newspaper’s editorial board, when we demanded that the Dutch comrades should just send us some editors, not a single one came! [Interjection from Van Leuven: ‘Dittmann and Crispien are not in their graves yet.’] If the comrade who is so outraged says that Dittmann and Crispien are not yet in their graves, I would like to reply that I am not in my grave yet either, and you are in no danger of being there at all, comrade. You too had the opportunity to die in Germany, and hundreds and thousands of workers from the USPD did die, and you stayed behind on your coffee bags in Holland, and today you are a revolutionary. [Interjection from Radek: ‘Stockbroker.’]

Bukharin: I am not in favour of making a great din about the representatives of a party that is so greatly revolutionary that they supplied a member of a Christian priests’ organisation with a further mandate. I therefore suggest that we immediately break off any further discussion and proceed with the agenda.

The Bureau proposes to put Bukharin’s motion to the vote. The motion is carried by an overwhelming majority. Comrade Zinoviev takes the vote on whether the representatives of the USPD and the French Socialists should be invited to take part in the discussions. The motion is accepted by a large majority.

The sub-committees are elected.

The Bureau announces Comrade McLaine’s proposal that a special Commission should be appointed to study the question of the Labour Party in England. The vote is taken and the proposal accepted.

Zinoviev: I would like to suggest that we fix the times at which the Commissions are to meet. The Presidium proposes that the following Commissions should work tomorrow: (1) the National and Colonial Question at 12; (2) the Trades Unions, also at 12; (3) Parliamentarism also at 12, and (4) the Commission to discuss terms of entry into the Communist International at 5 pm. All four Commissions work here; two in the main hall and the two others, in the side rooms.

And then on Monday the other three Commissions. The Organisation Commission at 1I am; the Agrarian Commission at 1I am; the Commission that is concerned with the main tasks of the Congress at 1 pm. Should the Commissions not finish their work tomorrow they will also work on Monday. Then at 8 pm on Monday evening a full session, for which we hope that at least one or two of the Commissions will have completed their work.

Serrati: The session of the Congress is adjourned.

 

 

 

Fourth Session
July 25

 

 

Zinoviev: I declare the session open. Would all the delegates hand in the written reports on the situation in their parties as soon as possible. Up until now we have only received three reports, and we call on you to make the material available to us over the next two or three days.

Since the last full session several Commissions have been at work, but they have not yet finished. The Commission that was concerned with the National and Colonial Question has made the most progress and is in a position to give a report. We propose to the Congress that the National and Colonial Question should be discussed today. Is nobody against? That seems to me to be the case. We will therefore proceed with the discussion. Comrade Lenin has the floor as reporter.

 

 

Lenin:

 

Comrades,

I shall only give a short introduction and then Comrade Maring, the secretary of our Commission, will give an exact report on the changes that have been made in the Theses. After that Comrade Roy, who formulated the Supplementary Theses, will have the floor. Our Commission adopted both the former and the latter unanimously. You will see from the Theses that we have taken unanimous decisions on the most important questions, and I should like now just to make a few short remarks.

What is the most important, the fundamental idea of our Theses? It is the difference between the oppressed and the oppressor nations. We emphasise this difference – in contrast to the Second International and bourgeois democracy. It is especially important for the proletariat and the Communist International during the epoch of imperialism to establish concrete economic facts and to approach all colonial and national questions not from the abstract but from the concrete point of view.

Imperialism is characterised by the fact that the whole world is now divided into a large number of oppressed nations and a very small number of oppressor nations that are enormously rich and strong in the military sense. The enormous mass, more than 1,000 million, most probably 1,250 million, and thus if we estimate the population of the world at 1,750 million some 70 per cent of the world population belong to the oppressed nations which are either in direct colonial dependence, or appear as semi-colonial states like, for example, Persia, Turkey and China, or which, defeated by a great imperialist army, have fallen into marked dependency after the peace treaties. This idea of the difference between nations, their division into the oppressed and the oppressors runs through all the Theses, not only the first ones that I signed and which have already been printed, but also through Comrade Roy’s Theses. These were written predominantly from the point of view of India and the other great Asian peoples who are oppressed by Britain, and are thus particularly important for us.

The second main idea of our Theses is that, in the current world situation, after the imperialist war, the mutual relations between states, the world system of states, is determined by the struggle of the smaller number of imperialist nations against the Soviet movement and the Soviet powers with Soviet Russia at their head. If we overlook this question, we cannot pose correctly a single national or colonial question even in the most distant part of the world. It is only from this standpoint that the political questions of the Communist Parties, not only in the civilised but also in the backward countries, can be posed and answered correctly. Thirdly, I would like to emphasise the question of the bourgeois-democratic movement in the backward countries. This was the point that gave rise to some differences of opinion. We debated whether it is correct in principle and theoretically to declare that the Communist International and the Communist Parties have a duty to support the bourgeois-democratic movements in the backward countries, and the outcome of this discussion was that we came to the unanimous decision to talk not about the ‘bourgeois-democratic’ movement but only about the national-revolutionary movement. There can be no doubt of the fact that any nationalist movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic movement, because the great mass of the population of the backward countries consists of the peasantry, which is the representative of bourgeois capitalist relations. It would be utopian to think that proletarian parties, insofar as it is at all possible for them to arise in these countries, will be able to carry out Communist tactics and Communist policies in the backward countries without having a definite relationship with the peasant movement, without supporting it in deeds. But objections were raised that, if we say ‘bourgeois-democratic’, we lose the distinction between the reformist and revolutionary movement which has become quite clear in the backward countries and the colonies recently, simply because the imperialist bourgeoisie has done everything in its power to create a reformist movement among the oppressed peoples too. A certain understanding has emerged between the bourgeoisie of the exploiting countries and that of the colonies, so that very often, even perhaps in most cases, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries, although they also support national movements, nevertheless fight against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes with a certain degree of agreement with the imperialist bourgeoisie, that is to say together with it. This was completely proven in the Commission, and we believed that the only correct thing would be to take this difference into consideration and to replace the words ‘bourgeois-democratic’ almost everywhere with the expression ‘national-revolutionary’. The point about this is that as communists we will only support the bourgeois freedom movements in the colonial countries if these movements are really revolutionary and if their representatives are not opposed to us training and organising the peasantry in a revolutionary way. If that is no good, then the communists there also have a duty to fight against the reformist bourgeoisie, to which the heroes of the Second International also belong. There are already reformist parties in the colonial countries, and on occasion their representatives call themselves Social Democrats or Socialists. This distinction is now made in all the Theses, and I think that our point of view is thus formulated much more precisely.

The next comment I wish to make is about peasants’ councils. The practical work of the Russian Communists in the former Tsarist colonies, in backward countries such as Turkestan and others, has posed the question of how communist tactics and policies are to be applied to pre-capitalist conditions. The most important characteristic of these countries is that pre-capitalist conditions still prevail there, and therefore there can be no question of a purely proletarian movement there. Nevertheless we have taken over the leading role in them and must take it over. Our experience has shown us that the difficulties there are truly enormous, but the practical results of our work have also shown that despite these difficulties it is possible to awaken independent political thinking and independent political activity even where there is almost no proletariat at all. This activity was more difficult for us than for the comrades in Western European countries as the proletariat in Russia is overburdened with tasks of state.

Obviously the peasants, who live under conditions of semi-feudal dependency, can grasp the idea of soviets and also carry out practical work in this field. It is also clear that the exploited masses, who are exploited not only by merchant capital but also by the feudalists and the state on a feudal basis, can apply this weapon, this type of organisation, under these conditions too. The idea of soviet organisation is simple and can be applied not only under proletarian conditions but also under feudal and semi-feudal peasant conditions. Our experiences in this area are not yet very extensive. But the discussions in the Commission, at which several representatives of the colonial countries were present, proved to us quite decisively that in the Theses of the Communist International we must take up the question that peasants’ councils, the councils of the exploited, are not only appropriate for capitalist countries but are also suitable for pre-capitalist conditions, and that it is the unconditional duty of the Communist Parties and those elements that are prepared to build Communist Parties to propagate peasants’ councils, the councils of the toilers, everywhere, including the backward countries and the colonies, and to make the practical attempt to set up councils of the labouring people immediately wherever conditions permit it.

This opens up for us a very interesting and important field of activity. Our general experiences are not yet particularly extensive, but we will collect more and more material, and there can be no doubt that the proletariat in the advanced countries can and must help the backward labouring masses, and that the development of the backward countries would change its present level as soon as the victorious proletariat of the Soviet Republics can reach out a hand to these masses and give them help.

There was a somewhat lively discussion on this question in the Commission, not only in connection with the Theses I have signed, but even more with those of Comrade Roy, which he will defend here and in which a few amendments were unanimously made.

The question was this: can we accept as correct the idea that the capitalist development of the economy is necessary for those backward peoples who are now liberating themselves and among whom now, following the war, progressive movements have developed? We have come to the conclusion that we have to deny it. If the victorious revolutionary proletariat organises systematic propaganda, and the Soviet Government come to its assistance with every means at its disposal, it is incorrect to assume that the capitalist stage of development is necessary for such peoples. We must not only build cadres and parties in all colonies and backward countries, we must not only immediately propagate peasants’ councils and try to make soviet organisations fit pre-capitalist conditions, but theoretically the Communist International must also declare and explain that with the help of the proletariat of the advanced countries the backward countries can arrive at soviet organisation and, through a series of stages, and even avoiding the capitalist system, can arrive at Communism.

What means will be necessary for this we cannot say in advance. Practical experience will tell. But it is established that the idea of soviets is accessible to all the labouring masses, even among the most isolated peoples, that these organisations must be adapted to pre-capitalist conditions, and that the work of the Communist Parties all over the world in this direction must begin immediately.

The last remark I would like to make here is about the role of the revolutionary work of the Communist Parties not only in their own countries but also in the colonial countries, and particularly among the troops used by the exploiting nations to hold down the colonial peoples.

Comrade Quelch of the BSP spoke about this in our Commission. He said that the ordinary British worker would regard it as treachery if he was to help the dependent peoples to rebel against English domination. It is correct that the jingoist and chauvinist mood of the labour aristocracy in England and America forms the greatest danger for communism and the greatest support for the Second International, and is the greatest treachery on the part of the leaders and workers who belong to such a bourgeois international. There was talk about the colonial question in the Second International also. The Basle manifesto spoke very clearly about it. The parties of the Second International promised to act in a revolutionary manner. But in the parties of the Second International there was no question of doing real revolutionary work to help the exploited and dependent nations in their revolt against the oppressing nations, nor even, I think, in most of the parties that have left the Second International and seek entry into the Communist International. We must say this openly, it cannot be refuted. We shall see whether the attempt will be made to refute it.

Because of these considerations we arrived at resolutions that were, without doubt, too long. But I think that they will nevertheless be useful and contribute to encouraging and organising really revolutionary work on the national and colonial question, and that is our main task.

Zinoviev: The secretary of the Commission, Comrade Maring, now has the floor.

Maring: Comrades, I am giving the report on the work of the Commission on the National and Colonial Question. The Commission checked over Comrade Lenin’s Theses and also Comrade Roy’s supplementary Theses. The following amendments and additions to Comrade Lenin’s theses were accepted:

The end of Thesis I to read ‘abolition of the classes’ instead of ‘annihilation’.

In the first sentence of the 3rd Thesis you can read: ‘The imperialist war of 1914 has shown all nations and all oppressed classes in the whole world with particular clarity, etc. [Reads the text of the Thesis]This sentence has been changed as follows: [reads it out].

The 4th Thesis (German Edition p. 52, 3rd line from the bottom) is to read ‘and labouring masses of every nation and country’.

5th Thesis (p. 52 line 16) strike out ‘masses around itself’ and add ‘and is to mass the oppressed peoples around itself. The same Thesis (line 20): ‘That there is no salvation for them outside of their connection with the revolutionary proletariat and the victory of Soviet power.'

6th Thesis, 10th line from the top: Instead of ‘the bourgeois-democratic liberation movement’ read ‘the revolutionary liberation movement’. In line 11 of this Thesis the words ‘workers and peasants’ are deleted.

In the 8th Thesis, 5th line from the top, for ‘without any basis’ read ‘on the basis.'

9th Thesis lines 7 to 11 are to read ‘to which the bourgeois democrats limit themselves, however much they call themselves “socialist”.'

Line 13 after the word ‘prejudices’ add in brackets ‘which appear in all possible forms, such as racial hatred, nationalist propaganda, anti-semitism’.

11th Thesis paragraph I should read ‘all Communist Parties must’ etc.

Paragraph 2 should read: ‘A struggle must necessarily be carried out against the reactionary and medieval influence of the clergy, the Christian missions, and similar elements.'

Paragraph 3 should read ‘a fight is necessary against Panslavism, and the Panasiatic movement, and similar currents.'

In paragraph 4 add after the words ‘to give’, ‘if possible to organise the peasants and all the victims of exploitation in Soviets.'

In paragraph 5, lines 2, 6 and 17 the words ‘bourgeois-democratic’ are to be changed to ‘revolutionary’.

Paragraph 6 line 5 should read ‘the imperialist powers with the help of the privileged classes’.

In Thesis 12 delete the whole sentence from ‘on the other hand’ to ‘appear’.

Comrade Roy’s Theses were thoroughly checked by the Commission and accepted in full, as Comrade Roy will inform the Congress. I think it is possible to introduce all these amendments into the Theses straight away.

Roy: Comrades, I have submitted to the Congress and the Commission some Supplementary Theses which I shall have to read out as they have not been printed. I shall start by reading these supplementary theses which are as follows:

Supplementary Theses On The National And Colonial Question

1. One of the most important questions that faces the Second Congress of the Communist International is to establish exactly the mutual relations between the Communist International and the revolutionary movement in the politically oppressed countries dominated by their own capitalist system, like India and China. The history of the world revolution is living through a period which requires a correct conception of this mutual relationship. The great European war and its consequences have shown clearly that the masses of people in the oppressed non-European countries have, as a result of the centralisation of world capitalism, been indissolubly bound up with the proletarian movement in Europe, which found an expression during the war for example in the sending of colonial troops and numerous masses of workers to the front.

2. European capitalism draws its strength in the main not so much from the industrial countries of Europe as from its colonial possessions. Its existence depends on control of extensive colonial markets and a broad field of opportunities for exploitation. England, the bulwark of imperialism, has already suffered from overproduction for a century. Without the extensive colonial possessions that are essential for the sale of her goods and at the same time form the source of her raw materials, the capitalist order in England would long since have collapsed under its own weight. At the same time that British imperialism makes hundreds of millions of the inhabitants of Asia and Africa into slaves, it also keeps the British proletariat under the domination of the bourgeoisie.

3. The super-profits made in the colonies form one of the main sources of the resources of contemporary capitalism. The European working class will only succeed in overthrowing the capitalist order once this source has finally been stopped up. The capitalist countries try, not indeed without success, to restore their shaky position by extensive and intensive exploitation of human labour and the natural wealth of the colonies. As a result of the exploitation of the colonial population European imperialism is in a position to grant the labour aristocracy in Europe a whole range of concessions. While on the one hand European imperialism tries to force down the absolute minimum level necessary to keep the proletariat alive by the import of goods produced by the cheaper labour power of the workers of the colonial countries, it is on the other hand prepared to sacrifice the increased profits it could make in the home country in order to receive the super-profits it can obtain by exploitation in the colonies.

4. The loss of the colonies and the proletarian revolution in the mother countries will bring the downfall of the capitalist order in Europe. In consequence the Communist International must extend its field of activity. The Communist International must enter into much closer connection with the revolutionary forces that are at present participating in the overthrow of imperialism in the politically and economically oppressed countries. The collaboration of these two forces is necessary for the complete success of the world revolution.

5. The Communist International is the concentrated will of the world proletariat. Its task is the organisation of the working class of the whole world for the overthrow of the capitalist order and for the spread of communism. The Communist International is a warlike unity that must unite the revolutionary forces of every country in the world. The Second International, permeated through and through with bourgeois culture and led by a handful of political dilettantes, underestimated the whole importance of the colonial question. The world outside simply did not exist as far as they were concerned. They did not recognise the necessity of the collaboration of the revolutionary movement in Europe and the other parts of the world. Instead of supporting the revolutionary movement in the colonies both materially and morally, the members of the Second International themselves became imperialists.

6. The foreign imperialism violently forced upon the peoples of the East has without doubt hindered their social and economic development and robbed them of the opportunity of reaching the same level of development as has been achieved in Europe and America. Thanks to the imperialist policies whose efforts are directed towards holding up industrial development in the colonies, the native proletariat has only come into existence fairly recently. The dispersed local cottage industries have given way to the centralised industries of the imperialist countries. As a result the vast majority of the population was forced to engage in agriculture and export raw materials abroad. On the other hand we ban observe a rapidly growing concentration of the land in the hands of big landowners, capitalists and the state, which again contributes to the growth of the number of landless peasants. The vast majority of the population of these colonies lives under conditions of oppression. As a result of these policies the underdeveloped spirit of outrage that lives in the masses of the people can only find an expression in the numerically small intellectual middle class. Foreign domination constantly obstructs the free development of social life; therefore the revolution’s first step must be the removal of this foreign domination. The struggle to overthrow foreign domination in the colonies does not therefore mean underwriting the national aims of the national bourgeoisie but much rather smoothing the path to liberation for the proletariat of the colonies.

7. Two movements can be discerned which are growing further and further apart with every day that passes. One of them is the bourgeois-democratic nationalist movement, which pursues the programme of political liberation with the conservation of the capitalist order; the other is the struggle of the propertyless peasants for their liberation from every kind of exploitation. The first movement attempts, often with success, to control the second; the Communist International must however fight against any such control, and the development of the class consciousness of the working masses of the colonies must consequently be directed towards the overthrow of foreign capitalism. The most important and necessary task however is the creation of Communist organisations of peasants and workers in order to lead them to the revolution and the setting up of the Soviet Republic. In this way the masses of the people in the backward countries will be brought to communism not by capitalist development but by the development of class consciousness under the leadership of the proletariat of the advanced countries.

8. The real strength, the foundation of the liberation movement, will not allow itself to be forced into the narrow framework of bourgeois-democratic nationalism in the colonies. In the greater part of the colonies there already exist organised revolutionary parties which work in close contact with the working masses. The Communist International must make contact with the revolutionary movement in the colonies through the mediation of these parties and groups, for they are the vanguard of the working class. At present they are not numerous, but they express the will of the working class and lead the revolution behind them. The Communist Parties of the various imperialist countries must work in the closest contact with the proletarian parties of the proletarian countries and through them support the revolutionary movement in general both materially and morally.

9. In the first period the revolution in the colonies will not be communist; if however from the very start the communist vanguard emerges at its head the revolutionary masses will be brought on to the correct path along which, through the gradual gathering of revolutionary experience, they will reach the hidden goal. It would be a mistake to try to solve the agrarian question straight away according to purely communist principles. In the first stage of its development the revolution in the colonies must be carried out according to the programme of purely petty-bourgeois demands, such as distribution of the land and so on. But from this it must not be concluded that the leadership in the colonies can be allowed to fall into the hands of the bourgeois democrats. On the contrary, the proletarian parties must carry out an intensive propaganda of communist ideas and found workers’ and peasants’ councils at the first opportunity. These councils must work in the same way as the Soviet Republics in the advanced capitalist countries in order to bring about the final overthrow of the capitalist order throughout the whole world.

For the more precise information of the Congress I have the following to add. I would like to draw the Congress’s attention particularly to these very important questions. I am glad to have the opportunity for the first time to participate seriously in a discussion on the colonial question at a congress of the revolutionary proletariat. Until now the European parties have given far too little attention to this problem, for they were always occupied with their own affairs and usually passed over the colonial questions, although they are at the present moment of very great importance for the international movement. Since the war the colonial question has become a matter of the greatest importance. Britain is now one of the greatest colonial powers in the world and has an enormous significance, an enormous strength and a strong social position as a result of its colonial possessions. Although the same cannot now be said of Germany, since Germany no longer has any colonial possessions, the question does not, nevertheless, have an exclusively British significance. The German comrades too, therefore, have to give this question their attention as it has become an international question. The economic relations between Europe and the colonies have now become the foundation of capitalism. The surplus value that was in previous ages produced in England has now in part been invested in the colonies. Moreover the surplus products that were produced in Britain itself have been taken to the colonial market. In this way Britain has so ordered her production that she can produce food for no more than three months of the year. Britain has always exploited her workers in the most brutal manner. The same system of exploitation, expropriation and the suppression of the human being in the worker is now applied in the conquered countries. British India alone has a population of no less than 315 million. Apart from British India, England exploits many other millions of coloured peoples in the colonies.

If the Communist International understands clearly that it must take this matter to heart, then the second question, how the colonial movement can best be encouraged and developed, still remains to be solved. Until recently there were in the colonies only national-revolutionary movements of the middle class, whose only wish was to supplant the ruling foreigners in order themselves to exploit their own proletariat. If we do not look at the matter in too doctrinaire a manner, if we look at it somewhat more closely here at the Congress, then one can estimate correctly the great value to the Communist International of the national-revolutionary movement among the peoples of the East Indies also. Great changes took place in India during and after the war. Whereas earlier British capitalism had always prevented the development of industry in British India, this has no longer been the case in recent years. Industry has developed at a greater pace in recent years in British India than anyone can imagine here in Europe. If one considers that in the same period that the industrial proletariat in British India increased by 15 per cent the capital invested in Britishowned industry increased by 2,000 per cent, one can form some impression of the rapid development of the capitalist system in British India. This is also true of Egypt, the Dutch East Indies and China. The same development that is taking place in British India is also to be noted in these countries. In recent years there has been a new movement among the exploited masses in India that has spread very quickly and expressed itself in mighty strike waves. This mass movement does not stand under the control of the revolutionary nationalists. It develops independently, although the nationalists try to use this movement for their own purposes. One can say of this mass movement that it is at all events revolutionary, although no-one would say that the workers and peasants who form this movement are also clearly class-conscious. This is evident day by day in the forms it takes. Comrades, I think that at this stage of the revolutionary mass movement the field of work lies open for the Communist International. It is only a question of taking the correct measures to harvest the fruits of work among these masses very quickly. Naturally a revolution by these masses would not at the first stage be a communist revolution, naturally revolutionary nationalism will play a role in the first stage. But at any event this revolutionary nationalism too win lead to the collapse of European imperialism, which is of enormous significance for the European proletariat.

Finally I direct an urgent appeal to all the delegates to the Congress under no circumstances to refuse the support that the colonial peoples of the revolutionary proletariat of British India are now offering, and I hope that the Congress will take my views very seriously into account. I hope that comrades will be moved by my Theses to oppose their views to mine, that they will use the opportunity that offers itself to them to create greater clarity among the communists of Europe and America through debate. [Applause]

Reed: In America there live ten million Negroes who are concentrated mainly in the South. In recent years however many thousands of them have moved to the North. The Negroes in the North are employed in industry while in the South the majority are farm labourers or small farmers. The position of the Negroes is terrible, particularly in the Southern states. Paragraph 16 of the Constitution of the United States grants the Negroes full civil rights. Nevertheless most Southern states deny the Negroes these rights. In other states, where by law the Negroes possess the right to vote, they are killed if they dare to exercise this right.

Negroes are not allowed to travel in the same railway carriages as whites, visit the same saloons and restaurants, or live in the same districts. There exist special, and worse, schools for Negroes and similarly special churches. This separation of the Negroes is called the ‘Jim Crow system’, and the clergy in the Southern churches preach about paradise on the ‘Jim Crow system’. Negroes are used as unskilled workers in industry. Until recently they were excluded from most of the unions that belong to the American Federation of Labour. The IWW of course organised the Negroes, the old Socialist Party however undertook no serious attempt to organise them. In some states the Negroes were not accepted into the party at all, in others they were separated off into special sections, and in general the party statutes banned the use of Party resources for propaganda among Negroes.

In the South the Negro has no rights at all and does not even enjoy the protection of the law. Usually one can kill Negroes without being punished. One terrible white institution is the lynching of Negroes. This happens in the following manner., The Negro is covered with oil and strung up on a telegraph pole. The whole of the town, men, women and children, run up to watch the show and take home a piece of the clothing or the skin of the Negro they have tortured to death ‘as a souvenir’.

I have too little time to explain the historical background to the Negro question in the United States. The descendants of the slave population, who were liberated during the Civil War, when politically and economically they were still completely underdeveloped, were later given full political rights in order to unleash a bitter class struggle in the South which was intended to hold up Southern capitalism until the capitalists in the North were able to bring together all the country’s resources into their own. possession.

Until recently the Negroes did not show any aggressive class consciousness at all. The first awakening of the Negroes took place after the Spanish-American War, in which the black troops had fought with extraordinary courage and from which they returned with the feeling that as men they were equal to the white troops. Until then the only movement that existed among the Negroes was a semi-philanthropic educational association led by Booker T. Washington and supported by the white capitalists. This movement found its expression in the organisation of schools in which the Negroes were brought up to be good servants of industry. As intellectual nourishment they were presented with the good advice to resign themselves to the fate of an oppressed people. During the Spanish War an aggressive reform movement arose among the Negroes which demanded social and political equality with the whites. With the beginning of the European war half a million Negroes who had joined the US Army were sent to France, where they were billeted with French troop detachments and suddenly made the discovery that they were treated as equals socially and in every other respect. The American General Staff approached the French High Command and asked them to forbid Negroes to visit places used by whites and to treat them as second-class people. After the war the Negroes, many of whom had received medals for bravery from the English and French governments, returned to their Southern villages where they were subjected to lynch law because they dared to wear their uniforms and their decorations on the street.

At the same time a strong movement arose among the Negroes who had stayed behind. Thousands of them moved to the North, began to work in the war industries and came into contact with the surging current of the labour movement. High as they were, their wage rates trailed behind the incredible increases in the prices of the most important necessities. Moreover the Negroes were outraged by the way all their strength was sucked out and the terrible exertions demanded by the work much more than were the white workers who had grown used to the terrible exploitation in the course of many years.

The Negroes went on strike alongside the white workers and quickly joined the industrial proletariat. They proved very ready to accept revolutionary propaganda. At that time the newspaper Messenger was founded, published by a young Negro, the socialist Randolf, and pursuing revolutionary propagandist aims. This paper united socialist propaganda with an appeal to the racial consciousness of the Negroes and with the call to organise self-defence against the brutal attacks of the whites. At the same time the paper insisted on the closest links with the white workers, regardless of the fact that the latter often took part in Negro-baiting, and emphasised that the enmity between the white and black races was supported by the capitalists in their own interests.

The return of the army from the front threw many millions of white workers on to the labour market all at once. The result was unemployment, and the demobilised soldiers’ impatience took such threatening proportions that the employers were forced to tell the soldiers that their jobs had been taken by Negroes in order thus to incite the whites to massacre the Negroes. The first of these outbreaks took place in Washington, where civil servants from the administration returning from the war found their jobs occupied by Negroes. The civil servants were in the main Southerners. They organised a night attack on the Negro district in order to terrorise the Negroes into giving up their jobs. To everybody’s amazement the Negroes came on to the streets fully armed. A fight developed and the Negroes fought so well that for every dead Negro there were three dead whites. Another revolt which lasted several days and left many dead on both sides broke out a few months later in Chicago. Later still a massacre took place in Omaha. In all these fights the Negroes showed for the first time in history that they are armed and splendidly organised and are not at all afraid of the whites. The results of the Negroes’ resistance were first of all a belated intervention by the government and secondly the acceptance of Negroes into the unions of the American Federation of Labour.

Racial consciousness grew among the Negroes themselves. At present there is among the Negroes a section which preaches the armed uprising of the Negroes against the whites. The Negroes who returned home from the war have set up associations everywhere for self-defence and to fight against the white supporters of lynch law. The circulation of the Messenger is growing constantly. At present it sells 180,000 copies monthly. At the same time, socialist ideas have taken root and are spreading rapidly among the Negroes employed in industry.

If we consider the Negroes as an enslaved and oppressed people, then they pose us with two tasks: on the one hand a strong racial movement and on the other a strong proletarian workers’ movement, whose class consciousness is quickly growing. The Negroes do not pose the demand of national independence. A movement that aims for a separate national existence, like for instance the ‘back to Africa’ movement that could be observed a few years ago, is never successful among the Negroes. They hold themselves above all to be Americans, they feel at home in the United States. That simplifies the tasks of the communists considerably.

The only correct policy for the American Communists towards the Negroes is to regard them above all as workers. The agricultural workers and the small farmers of the South pose, despite the backwardness of the Negroes, the same tasks as those we have in respect to the white rural proletariat. Communist propaganda can be carried out among the Negroes who are employed as industrial workers in the North. In both parts of the country we must strive to organise Negroes in the same unions as the whites. This is the best and quickest way to root out racial prejudice and awaken class solidarity.

The Communists must not stand aloof from the Negro movement which demands their social and political equality and at the moment, at a time of the rapid growth of racial consciousness, is spreading rapidly among Negroes. The Communists must use this movement to expose the lie of bourgeois equality and emphasise the necessity of the social revolution which will not only liberate all workers from servitude but is also the only way to free the enslaved Negro people.

Fraina: The last speaker talked about the Negroes as an oppressed people in the United States. We have at the same time two other kinds of oppressed people: the foreign workers and the colonial inhabitants. The terrible suppression of strikes and of the revolutionary movement in general is in no way a result of the war, it is much more a more forceful political expression of the earlier attitude towards the unorganised and unskilled workers. These workers’ strikes are suppressed violently. Why? Because these workers are in the main foreigners (they form 60 per cent of the industrial proletariat), who are in fact in the same position as a colonial population. After the Civil War (1861-1865) capitalism developed at a great pace. The West, which had been underdeveloped until then, was opened up by the construction of the overland railways. The investment capital for this development came from Europe and the Eastern states. The immigrants however were the human raw material who were developed by imperialist violence in exactly the same way as the inhabitants of backward colonial countries. The concentration and monopolisation of industry, all these typical preconditions of internal imperialism, grew up before the United States could develop its foreign imperialism. The terror that the colonial population had to face was no different from the terror that workers had to face who migrated to the United States. Thus in 1912 the coal miners in Ludlow went on strike. The miners were driven out of their homes with the help of soldiers and quartered in huts. One day, while the men were fighting the army some miles away, a troop of soldiers surrounded the huts and set light to them, and hundreds of women and children perished in the flames. Under these conditions the class struggle in the United States often becomes a racial struggle. And just as a Negro revolt can be the signal fir a bourgeois counter-revolution, and does not represent a proletarian revolution, so too the same thing can happen in a revolt of the immigrant workers. The great task is to unite these movements among the Americans into a revolutionary movement.

The whole of Latin America must be regarded as a colony of the United States, and not only its present colonies such as the Philippines etc. Central America is under the complete control of the United States through her forces of occupation. The same control is however also exercised in Mexico and South America, where it has a two-fold expression: first of all through economic and financial penetration, which has increased since the expropriation of German business in these countries, and secondly through the application of the Monroe Doctrine, [Proclaimed in 1823 by President Monroe, the Doctrine pledged opposition to colonisation of the Americas by European powers. Used in late 19th and 20th centuries to establish US imperialist domination over Central and Southern America.] which has changed from being originally the defence of America against the monarchist system into being the tool of the hegemony and the strengthening of United States imperialism over Latin America. A year before the war President Wilson interpreted the Monroe Doctrine in such a way that it became a way for the American government to prevent British capitalists from obtaining new sources of oil in Mexico. In other words – Latin America is the colonial basis of imperialism in the United States. While the economic circumstances of the countries of the rest of the world become shakier and shakier, United States imperialism strengthens its position by throwing itself into the exploitation and development of Latin America. It is absolutely necessary to fight against this imperialism by starting revolutionary movements in Latin America, just as it is necessary to proceed against British imperialism by setting up revolutionary movements in its colonies.

The movement in the United States did not previously pay any attention to the movement in Latin America. As a result the latter reached back to Spain for its ideology instead of to the United States. The movement in Latin America must free itself from this backwardness as well as from its syndicalist prejudices. The American Federation of Labour [Bureaucratised trade union federation led by Samuel Gompers, described by Trotsky as ‘that old watchdog of capitalism’. In the period after the First World War its leadership campaigned against nationalisation and supported the victimisation and witch-hunting of militant unionists in the IWW and other left organisations.] and the reactionary Socialist Party strive to build all-American organisations, but not for revolutionary purposes.

The Communist movement in the United States in particular and the Communist International in general must intervene actively in the movement in Latin America. The movement in the United States and in Latin America must be regarded as one single movement. Our strategy and tactics must start from the standpoint of an American revolution involving the whole of America. The fundamental task of the Communist International, the realisation of which alone will secure the world revolution, is the annihilation of United States imperialism; and its annihilation will only be made possible by a giant revolutionary movement embracing the whole of America, where every national unit subordinates itself to the common problems of the American revolution.

Radek: At every Congress of the Second International numerous protests were raised against the brutality of imperialist governments in colonial countries. Even now the colonial question is discussed endlessly at Conferences of the Second International, and we see how Huysmans, Henderson and Company dish out independence left and right to different nations, even when they do not even demand it. If it was simply a question of trumpeting protests about imperialist policies out into the world and ‘recognising’ the independence of colonial peoples, our task would be a very simple one. But in the area of the practical struggle in the colonial countries we are setting foot in completely new territory. Here it is not simply a question of sketching the foundations of communist policies, of sucking them out of our fingers, but of developing them out of a study of concrete colonial conditions. It is a question of taking practical steps to support the struggle in the colonies. Comrade Lenin quotes a statement by Comrade Quelch who declared in the colonial commission that if an uprising were to break out in India the jingoist press would succeed in influencing a section of the British workers into sacrificing themselves to suppress the uprising. If all that Quelch is pointing out is that there is among British workers a strong imperialist current, then that is a matter of fact. But if this fact is supposed to lead our English comrades to a passive posture towards a colonial revolt, and to saying that, because of this mood, they can do no more than pass protest resolutions, then one could say that the Communist International will first of all have to teach its members the ABC of politics. If British workers, instead of opposing bourgeois prejudices, support British imperialism or tolerate it passively, then they are working for the suppression of every revolutionary movement in Britain itself.

It is impossible for the British proletariat to liberate itself from the yoke that capitalism has laid upon it without stepping into the breach for the colonial revolutionary movement. When the time comes for the British workers to rise against their own capitalist class, they will face a – situation in which Britain can, at the best, cover 30 per cent of her food needs out of her own production. They will face a situation in which American capitalism will try to blockade proletarian Britain. For even if the American capitalists’ ships will not be able to cut off the food supplies of proletarian Europe for any length of time, since the Americans must sell, it is none the less very possible that the British capitalists will be in a position for a year or two to buy up American wheat in order to stop it going to Britain. In this situation the fate of the British revolution will depend on whether the peasants and workers of Ireland, India, Egypt, etc. are accustomed to seeing the servants of the British imperialists in the British working class. The Labour Conference at Scarborough passed an important resolution in which it demanded the independence of India and Egypt. Not a single Communist stood up to tell the Conference that the MacDonalds support the British bourgeoisie fooling British workers when they talk about the independence of India, Ireland and Egypt. It is simple hypocrisy and swindling that these same people, who could not even rise to the level of characterising General Dwyer as a common murderer in Parliament on the occasion of the Amritsar bloodbath, pretend to be the defenders of colonial independence. We greatly regret that our party comrades who are in the Labour Party did not tear the mask off these swindlers’ faces. The International will not judge the British comrades by the articles that they write in the Call [The Call was the paper of the British Socialist Party. The Workers’ Dreadnought was the paper of Sylvia Pankhurst’s ultra-left group, the Workers’ Socialist Federation.] and the Workers Dreadnought, but by the number of comrades who are thrown into gaol for agitating in the colonial countries. We would point out to the British comrades that it is their duty to help the Irish movement with all their strength, that it is their duty to agitate among the British troops, that it is their duty to use all their resources to block the policy that the British transport and railway unions are at present pursuing of permitting troop transports to be shipped to Ireland. It is very easy at the moment to speak out in Britain against intervention in Russia, since even the bourgeois left is against it. It is harder for the British comrades to take up the cause of Irish independence and of anti-militarist activity. We have a right to demand this difficult work of the British comrades.

We will have more to say on this question and on the question of parliamentarism, but it is important here today to show the British comrades from the shop stewards movement who want to support the Communist movement how childishly they are behaving, how they are throwing away an opportunity to fight, if they do not participate in parliament. The peasants of India have no way of knowing that our shop stewards are fighting against their oppression. But if someone, without making a long speech, was to call things by their right name in parliament, quite certainly he would be thrown out by the Speaker of the House, and Reuters would tell the world that a traitor had been found in the British parliament who had called a murderer – a murderer. British capital, based on a strong bourgeoisie, cannot be overthrown only in London, Sheffield, Glasgow and Manchester, it must also be beaten in the colonies. They are its Achilles heel, and it is the duty of the British Communists to go to the colonies and to fight at the head of the rising masses of the people and to support them. We scarcely know of a single case in the old International where a Social Democratic Party made itself the champion of the liberation of the colonial peoples. When the Hereros were being driven in their thousands into the desert, the German Socialists abstained from voting because they declared that they did not know the causes of the revolt and had no opinion on the matter. It is the duty of the Communist International to create an atmosphere in which it is not possible to take part in the Congress here without proving that one has helped the revolt in the colonies practically. This is one of the biggest and most important life-or-death questions for the Communist International. just as in every country we must try to win for our struggle those petty-bourgeois elements who are driven in the direction of the working class, the Communist International must be a beacon to light the way to the rebellious peoples in Asia and Africa. The Communist International must beat world capitalism not only through the popular masses of Europe but also those of the colonies. Capitalism will draw not only economic but also military support from the colonial peoples. The social revolution in Europe will have black troops to deal with yet. The duty of the Communist International is to proceed to deeds. The Russian Soviet Republic has taken this path, and if in Britain our painstaking work in the East, our conscious agitation for the formation of soviet organisations in Turkestan and in the Caucasus, and stretching out the first feelers to Persia and Turkey, are thought to be things that the Soviet Republic does in order to make difficulties for the British, then that is a misunderstanding of the foreign policy of the Soviet government. It is part of the programme of the Communist International, it is Soviet Russia fulfilling her duties as part of the Communist International. We do not regard the agitation in the East as a makeshift expedient in the fight against European capitalism, we regard it as a struggle we have a duty to carry out in the lasting interests of the European proletariat. This assistance does not consist in building artificial Communist Parties where there is no basis for them. It happens when we help these people. Comrade Lenin has pointed out that there is no theoretical necessity for every nationality to pass through the stage of capitalism. All the people who today are capitalists have not come to capitalism through the stage of manufacture. japan passed straight from feudal conditions to the culture of imperialism. If the proletarian masses in Germany, France and Britain succeed in winning socialism, then we will go to the colonial peoples not only with the most modern means that capitalism has left us, but also with the production methods that socialism will create. We will help them to find a direct path from feudal barbarism to a form of production where they can apply the resources of modern technology without having to go through the stages of craft production and manufacture. We stand at the beginning of a new epoch. European capitalism fears the awakening of the oriental peoples; it talks about the ‘yellow peril’, and one can say that as long as capitalism exists there will be a yellow peril. The proletarianised peasants of China or Turkey, who are being skinned alive, will have to emigrate to seek work, will have to defend themselves in great mass migrations. But communism has no yellow peril to fear, it can reach out its hand to all oppressed peoples, for it brings them not exploitation but fraternal aid.

Rosmer: I move the closure of the list of speakers.

Wijnkoop: I do not think that the list can be closed now. The matter is important, at least for the future. The debate has not even started. Perhaps there will be no debate.

Serrati: I note that another twelve speakers have put their names forward. Perhaps Comrade Wijnkoop is right. I can see that the debate is taking a direction in which we are encountering a series of separate questions. What we have to do here is deal with the questions in general. I think we should adjourn the question until tomorrow and close the list of speakers in the sense that we ask the individual comrades to consider the question in general and not go into details.

Guilbeaux: I suggest that we close the session now but not the list of speakers. The question is very important and it is absolutely necessary for all the representatives of the colonial peoples to report to the Congress. The time available for each speaker could be cut, but the comrades should not be prevented from speaking.

Maring: I would like to insist that Comrade Serrati’s motion should not be accepted. It would not be good if the representatives of the colonies were not given an opportunity to say a few short words on the movement. Comrade Serrati himself knows that not one of the Italians was represented at the Commission today. It is very surprising that he should make such a proposal.

Radek: I am opposed to the proposal from the Presidium. I understand that those present are orientated on the question. But in the discussion you cannot start from the standpoint that one or the other person is acquainted with things. It is the political significance of the colonial question that we are concerned with here. We have a political interest in the fact that workers will read the minutes of the Congress and see that the representatives of the oppressed colonial peoples spoke here and took part in our discussions. It is impossible to set up general rules of communist tactics for everybody, but even a simple worker can contribute a lot to the depiction of conditions in his own country. It is a question of everybody saying what he knows, and the more concretely he speaks the better. I see that the representatives from Ireland want to speak. It is very important for British imperialism to see that there are elements there that are allied to us and want to fight with us.

I do not want anybody to think that suggested we should not have a discussion. Most of all I must state that I did not make my proposal either in the name of the Bureau or in the name of the Italian delegation. We have already spent ten minutes here talking about the question of the blacks in Chicago. We cannot split the question up into its smallest parts, we must summarise it in very clear and very concrete speeches. I would not like anybody to think that I am opposed to the representatives of the backward countries, as they are called in Comrade Lenin’s Theses, speaking. If I have proposed the closure of the list of speakers, then it is because all the representatives of the backward countries – China, Persia, Korea, japan and Turkey – have already been entered. If there are still more comrades from backward countries who put their names forward we will have the histories of all the different nationalities in the world to listen to here. I propose, however, that we close the session and wait and see whether we close the list or keep it open.

Wijnkoop: I propose that we vote on Comrade Serrati’s motion. We will see in the next session how we are to proceed.

Serrati: I withdraw my motion.

Rosmer: The discussion will be continued tomorrow morning in the full session. There will be a further full session the day after tomorrow at 10.00 a.m.

The session is closed at 2.30 a.m.

 

 

Fifth Session
July 28

 

 

The session is opened at 11 am with Comrade Zinoviev as Chairman. The debate on the national and colonial question is continued.

Sultan-Zade (Persia): At most of its Congresses the Second International studied the colonial question and drew up choice resolutions on it which could never be put into practice. Very often these questions were debated and decisions taken without the participation of representatives of backward countries. What is more, when the first Persian revolution was suppressed by the Russian and English hangmen and the Persian Social Democracy turned for help to the European working class, which was at that time represented by the Second International, it was not even given the right to vote on a resolution on that question. Today at the Second Congress of the Communist International is the first time that this question has been dealt with thoroughly and moreover with the representatives of almost all the colonised or semi-colonised countries of the Orient and of America. The resolution adopted by our Commission completely fulfils the expectations of the labouring masses of the oppressed peoples and serves especially to stimulate and encourage the soviet movement in these countries. At first glance it may seem peculiar to speak of a soviet movement in completely or partially dependent countries. However, if we pay full attention to the social position of these countries our doubts disappear. Comrade Lenin has already talked about the experiences of the Russian Communist Party in Turkestan, among the Bashkir and in Kirgizstan. If the soviet system is successfully ripening in these countries, the soviet movement must spread powerfully in India and Persia, that is to say in countries where the differentiation between the classes is proceeding with giant steps.

In 1870 all these countries were dominated by merchant capital. The position has only changed slightly. The colonial policies of the great powers turned these countries into markets and sources of raw materials for the great European centres by preventing the development of their national industries. The imports of European consumer goods into the colonies finished off native industry.

Although the rapid growth of capitalist industry quickly proletarianised the old mass of craft workers in the European countries and gave them a new ideology, this was not the case in the Orient, where conditions forced thousands of unfortunates to emigrate to Europe and America. In these colonised or semi-colonised countries there are also masses of peasants whose living conditions are almost impossible. The burden of taxes and dues falls mainly on this unfortunate part of the population throughout the Orient. Since the peasants are almost the only people who produce food, they have to feed the legions of merchants and exploiters, employers and tyrants. As a result of the oppression that bears down on them this suppressed class in the Orient has not been able to build a powerfully organised revolutionary party. A great diversity of demands can be observed among the ruling classes. The interests of the trading circles demand the continuation of the colonial policies of the great powers, while those of the bourgeoisie on the other hand are damaged by foreign intervention. While the priesthood protests against the import of goods from countries with different religious beliefs, the merchants on the other hand do not hesitate to ally themselves with those countries. There is no unity among the ruling classes, nor can there be.

These facts have created a revolutionary atmosphere, and the next storm of nationalism in these countries can quickly turn into a social revolution. That is in general the situation in the majority of Asian countries. Does it not follow from this that the fate of communism throughout the world depends on the victory of the social revolution in the East, as Comrade Roy assures you? Certainly not. Many comrades in Turkestan are caught up in this error. It is true that the behaviour of the capitalists in the colonies awakens a revolutionary spirit. But it is just as true to say that through capitalist exploitation in the centre a counter-revolutionary spirit is created among the labour aristocracy. Capitalism seeks consciously to hold up the revolution by trying to win small privileged layers of workers for itself. Let us assume that the communist revolution has begun in India. Will the workers of that country be able to withstand the attack by the bourgeoisie of the entire world without the help of a big revolutionary movement in England and Europe? Of course not. The suppression of the revolution in Persia and China is clear proof of the fact. If the revolutionaries in Turkey and Persia are now throwing down the gauntlet to omnipotent England, it is not because they themselves are now stronger, but because the imperialist bandits have become powerless. The revolution that has started in the West has also warmed the soil in Turkey and Persia and strengthened the revolutionaries. [Led by young officers, the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 forced the Sultan to grant a constitution and initiated a process of modernisation and secularisation. It was a strongly nationalist movement. In Persia in 1908 the parliament granted by the Shah two years earlier was suppressed with the aid of the Persian Cossack Brigade. This ushered in a period of social and political upheaval in which the masses took part.] The epoch of the world revolution has begun.

The point in the Theses that provides for the support of the bourgeois-democratic movement in the backward countries can, it seems to me, only have reference to those countries in which this movement is in its very early stages. If one were to try to proceed according to the Theses in countries which already have ten or more years of experience, or in those where the movement has already had power, it would mean driving the masses into the arms of the counter-revolution. The task is to create and maintain a purely communist movement in opposition to the bourgeois-democratic one. Any other judgement of the facts could lead to regrettable results.

Graziadei (Italy): I should like to remark first of all that I shall only represent my own personal views.

After the latest amendments made to Comrade Lenin’s Theses in their final form, after the improvements and explanations carried out by the Commission, particularly with respect to the second Thesis, which created many difficulties for me in its original form, I can announce that I am prepared to sign everything that Comrade Lenin proposes.

If I have understood it correctly, Comrade Lenin poses the question in the following way: just as in every nation there are exploiters and exploited, so too in international relations there are nations that are exploited by other nations. The petty-bourgeois conception and abstract idea of human rights adopted by the Second International had the role of masking the class struggle; the idea of the equality of nations amounts to covering over the economic and moral opposition that exists between the imperialist and the oppressed nations. Previously two opposite errors used to be made. The Second International tended to take the national problem as it was presented by the bourgeoisie. On the other hand another group of socialists who fought against this first and fatal error thought they could free themselves from this important problem by simply ignoring it. Comrade Lenin however has tried to look at this problem realistically and as a Marxist. I say ‘Marxist’ in the sense that Comrade Lenin remains true to the only part of Marxism that is inviolable: the method. In fact Comrade Lenin’s critical and materialist conception corresponds to the situation before the war and even more to the situation that exists at the end of the imperialist war.

There is no contradiction between Comrade Lenin’s Theses and our definition of the war in 1914. The war, which we called an imperialist war, was not imperialist in the same degree for every nation. This distinction must be drawn since the smaller nations and especially the colonies were drawn into the war together with the great powers and were rather the victims of imperialism.

Only the richest and strongest nations could draw any advantage from such a long and destructive war; it cost the smaller nations the greater or lesser extent of economic independence they previously had. Even where their earlier territorial frontiers have remained the same, their position has become exceptionally difficult.

Two facts that emerge from this predominate at the moment: on the one hand the struggle of the great imperialist powers against Soviet Russia, against whom the smaller nations (Poland, Rumania, etc..) are sent into the field, and on the other hand the possibility that Soviet Russia can forge in the revolts of the smaller nations, and of the colonies against the exploitative imperialism of the capitalist countries, a mighty weapon against imperialism.

However true all this is, I should still like to comment that one cannot, it seems to me, separate the Communist International from the Soviet government. The victory of the latter alone made the foundation and success of the Communist International possible, just as the fall of the Paris Commune brought with it the collapse of the First International. It cannot however be denied that the work that our Russian comrades have performed with such heroism and talent in the face of a crowd of enemies could, under the pressure of necessity and against their will, lead to a left opportunism that an organisation like the Communist International should try to avoid. A very strict definition of principles is also necessary. It is important to emphasise that action in countries where true imperialist capitalism exists should be distinguished from that in backward countries and colonies. The local parties should moreover be given certain guarantees. That is all that I propose to add to Comrade Lenin’s Theses. In doing so I would like to say that I insist on the spirit of these additions rather than the word.

I propose to start the 11th Thesis as follows:

‘In those countries where the position of the ruling class permits them to carry out a national imperialist policy, and where as a consequence there is a sufficiently strong industrial proletariat, the Communist Parties must start an open and inexorable struggle.’ The text will then continue: ‘in relation to’, etc.

Further on in the 11th Thesis, section 1 line 1, instead of ‘the necessity to support’, read: ‘the duty of an active interest.'

Lines 3-4 instead of ‘the duty of supporting them’, ‘the duty of an active interest’.

Section 5 line 5, instead of ‘should not support them’, read: ‘should not take an interest in’.

Line 13, instead of ‘must make temporary contacts’, read: ‘must maintain temporary relations’.

Instead of the Commission’s amendment ‘and the form must be discussed with the Communist Party in question,’ read: ‘The interest of the Communist International in such a movement is determined at any given time by the fact that the Communist Party in question have discussed the nature of their activity and that the following conditions are fulfilled, as well as all the other conditions dictated by the situation and by experience.'

In the 12th Thesis the last part of the penultimate sentence, from the words ‘and the duty’ to the words ‘of this distrust’, must be left out.

The conception of the word ‘support’ which is used in the Theses is narrower than that of the term ‘active interest’. The necessity of (active interest’ describes the ‘support’, but only as one among many possibilities. It would be better if nationalist movements were quickly used everywhere to create a revolutionary movement. The same can be said of ‘contacts’. They are only individual cases, and by no means the most desirable.

Lao Hsiu-Tao (China): The end of 1918 found China embroiled in a civil war. The South was under the temporary rule of a provisional revolutionary government whose chief purpose was the most bitter struggle with the Pekin government. At the head of the southern government there stood at first the famous leader of the first Chinese revolution, Sun Yat-Sen, who meanwhile soon withdrew from the government as a result of the conflicts that broke out between him and the representatives of the old bureaucracy who had remained within the southern government. Since then he has not officially participated in the business of government. The southern government is still carrying on the struggle against the Pekin government. This struggle proceeds under the slogans proclaimed by the Sun Yat-Sen group, whose basic principle is the restoration of the rights of the old parliament and the old President and the forced resignation of the Pekin government. This struggle is being carried out with varying success, but the southern government has undeniably more prospects of a successful outcome than the northern, although the latter has a better right to expect it with its strong financial position. In the last few days we have been informed that the southern government’s troops have occupied Hunan, that is, one of the central provinces bordering on Pekin. When the old reactionary Pekin government first entered with the allies in the coalition against Germany in 1917, they promised the country the most varied advantages from participation in the war. The revolutionary parties protested in vain; war was declared. The Chinese people however had some faith in these promises, and until the calling of the Versailles conference they nourished hopes. How great then was their disappointment when Versailles gave nothing to China, but on the contrary assured to japan the rights and territorial conquests she had won during the war at China’s expense. After the return of the delegation from Versailles a movement began against the government and against the Japanese which must not be underestimated. Students organised in associations whose centre was in Shanghai placed themselves at the head of this movement. The students started a widespread agitation with mass meetings, strikes, manifestos, etc. They also agitated for a boycott of Japanese goods. The results of this movement were extremely small; they were forcibly suppressed. In a few cases demonstrators were even shot. Nevertheless the movement played a significant role in that it awoke a feeling of outrage against the government in the masses.

Recently, since they have realised that they can achieve nothing on their own, the students have begun to draw the mass of workers along with them. The Chinese workers too have begun to show what they are capable of, and that as the representatives of an industrial working class that is still very young. Thus in the course of the past year we have experienced in Shanghai a series of strikes, although admittedly with purely economic aims. The Socialist Party of Shanghai is winning more and more popularity among the workers. This party is Marxist. From the weekly newspaper it publishes it can be seen that this movement is to be taken seriously. In its issue of the first of May we find the slogans: ‘Those who do not work should not eat’, and: ‘The whole world should belong to the proletariat’. This newspaper uninterruptedly propagates the idea of socialism in opposition to nationalism. It insists on a fraternal alliance with Soviet Russia. It protests against last year’s Sino-Japanese Treaty whose aim was conquest of Siberia. In all its articles the newspaper defends the point of view that the proletariat should fight the bourgeoisie and that the principle of nationalism and state independence should give way to the principle of internationalism. This newspaper is extremely popular. Thus we see here the beginnings of an organisation that embraces not only the industrial proletariat but also the craftsmen. The crisis of European industry also found an echo in China. China is flooded with an extraordinary amount of foreign goods. Chinese industry does not develop and the Chinese proletariat is in a pitiable position. Put briefly, China’s intellectuals, the students and the working class possess rich material for revolutionary agitation. Although there are no great landed properties in China, we can nonetheless already see how, where the peasantry is concerned, the richer peasants are gradually buying up the land, which has as a result the growth in the number of poor peasants. It goes without saying that this part of the population readily follow the urban proletariat in the revolutionary movement.

China consists at present of a series of almost autonomous provinces headed by Governors with full powers. All these Governors are, like the members of the government, members of the Anfu military party, that is to say the party of the bureaucrats, most of whom had important posts under the monarchy. All of these Governors are almost completely independent of the Pekin government, and if they stay in the fight against the South then they do so for their own interests. The fiscal system is entirely in the hands of the Governors, who determine the income of the central government as they think fit. As a result the government’s means are of course extremely slender, so that it is forced to raise loans, which it does mainly in Japan. Since this kind of service is naturally not performed for nothing, japan is winning more and more privileges and material advantages in China in return. In a whole series of Chinese provinces japan is all-powerful, as if it were conquered territory. On the other hand the autocracy of governors we have described and the existence of an undisciplined and corrupt army of two million, offer a picture of complete anarchy. When we taken this into consideration, the opposition and the continual revolutionary ferment among the masses also become comprehensible.

At present the whole opposition against the two existing governments in China is to be found in Shanghai in the persons of its main representatives. Sun Yat-Sen is to be found there with the supporters of the first revolution. The Central Federation of Students, the workers’ unions and the Socialist Party are also to be found there. In the fight against japan, against the Chinese government and against the bourgeoisie, all these groups are permeated with a uniform revolutionary consciousness.

To summarise what I have said it must once more be emphasised that there is at present in China a wide field for revolutionary propaganda. The Congress of the Communist International must pay great attention to this circumstance. Support for the Chinese revolution is of importance not only for China but for the revolutionary movement throughout the world, for at the moment there is only one single factor to oppose the avaricious Japanese imperialism that has taken firm root in Asia. This single factor is a strong and mighty Chinese revolutionary movement among the working masses of China.

Pak Chin-Sun (Korea): At the present moment we are discussing the colonial questions under conditions that are quite different from those at the time of the foundation of the Second International thirty years ago. The whole task of the Communist International in the colonial question consists in correcting the mistakes made by the leaders of the Second International. The whole history of the ignominious collapse of the Second International has shown that the western European proletariat cannot win the fight against its bourgeoisie as long as the bourgeoisie has a source of strength in the colonies.

The official leaders realised this; however, these ideologists of parliamentarism stood aloof from the heroic struggles of the colonial peoples, and whenever they approached the problem of the East, the problem of the colonial peoples, they trembled no less than the ideologists of the bourgeoisie. But here, at our Congress, the work of the Commission has already shown that all the delegates from the East as well as those of the western European proletariat are conscious of the fact that the happy day – the day of the triumph of the Communist International, the day of the social revolution – will only dawn when all the colonial peoples rise in revolt, when the western European proletariat deliver the death blow to their bourgeoisie, when the colonial peoples strike the bourgeoisie of the West to the heart. The consciousness of the necessity of a common struggle grew more and more, and Russia, the link between the whole proletarian West and the revolutionary East, has now really given us the opportunity to discuss the sore point that was the origin of opportunism, the origin of the indecision of the Second International. I hope that our Congress will now take decisions on the colonial question which will speed the revolutionary ferment, the revolution, in the East.

I should now like to say something about the revolutionary movement that is in the process of fulfilment in our country, in Korea. We have already decided some questions. I should just like to spend a short time on the practical realisation of some of the questions that have been raised here, since the revolutionary movement has already posed us with questions that have also been brought up here. Ten years ago the Korean people were completely apathetic towards the annexation of Korea. They were equally apathetic towards the fiery speeches about democracy, the independence of Korea and a free and happy life. And now, all at once, it has been fighting for eighteen months and showing exemplary dedication and self-sacrifice. We cannot say that the general cultural level of the Korean people has improved so significantly in the course of ten years. In these ten years, the Japanese were not only unable to raise the class consciousness of the Korean masses, they were unable to raise the national consciousness of the masses either. If our teachers here have said that the revolution is the locomotive of history, then we must say that the fuel that drives the locomotive along the track of history is economics.

And at present, what with the occupation, Korea is the most unhappy country. Let us take the peasantry. They are laden with taxes that are 300 to 350 per cent higher than they were before annexation. Naturally that ruins the peasantry, and the policy of the Japanese Agrarian Bank, which wants a forced emigration from japan proper to Korea, annoys the majority of the peasants, particularly the middle peasants. Moreover the Japanese do not give the Koreans the opportunity to achieve an education that is any use in life and do not permit young students to go to institutions of higher education that train engineers and good military instructors. That is why not only a section of the intellectuals but also the whole of the students are opposed to the Japanese occupation. Let us now look at the bourgeoisie. Through its colonial policy of treating Korea as a colony, the Japanese rob the Korean bourgeoisie of the possibility of building factories and works in Korea. That is also one of the reasons why the Korean bourgeoisie is hostile to japan. Thanks to these reasons the Korean bourgeoisie has fought in alliance with the working masses and in the last two or three years we have been unable to draw a boundary between the two. And as long as economic circumstances make this impossible we will be unable to do it. Our party will however take pains to carry out this class differentiation and to lead the revolutionary movement, which in Korea bears the stamp of an agrarian movement. Every landlord and every landed proprietor in Korea now knows what the national liberation movement is in Korea. It is a movement that is not only directed against Japanese imperialism but also against their own bourgeoisie, which in Korea consists mainly of big landed proprietors. Finally, when the time comes for Korea to shake off the national yoke, perhaps two or three years will be sufficient for the bourgeoisie to grasp that an independent Korea cannot bring them the happiness that they expected. It knows that an independent Korea means the withdrawal of all their material advantages, and therefore they are against the Korean revolution and tie their fate to that of Japanese imperialism.

The Versailles Conference formed the centre of the differences of opinion among revolutionaries in the last year. The right wing, in which are united all the nationalists, the great political parties, which form a united national bloc and the unions of petty-bourgeois organisations, who were all in favour of the League of Nations and expected that Wilson, that supposed saviour, would bring freedom to the enslaved peoples of the East, all insisted on sending a delegation to the peace conference. We knew very well that under no circumstances would the imperialists of America, Japan and England be so generous as to give up advantages their colonies gave them. Therefore we posed the question: Paris or Moscow? Our historical evaluation proved to be correct. Our Korean delegation had no success at the Versailles Conference and our influence among the masses began to grow and is still growing. Our party is now one of the big parties and has a significant influence on the masses. And I hope they will accept the Theses adopted by the present Congress as their guidelines. Our party, which always marches under the banner of the Communist International, has now linked its fate indissolubly with the revolutionary movement of the proletariat throughout the world and will do its duty. United with the revolutionary proletariat throughout the world it will march to the final goal – the construction of communism. Our party will be one of the main forces that will turn enslaved Korea into a part of the federated World Soviet Republic.

Connolly (Ireland): Comrade Lenin’s Theses have sketched the basic features of the general tactics of the Communist International towards the national revolutionary movement in the oppressed countries. In order actually to apply these Theses, the Communist International must be correctly informed about the economic and historical movement in these countries and moreover have the opportunity to be able to assess the revolutionary significance of the various forces at work in the countries in question. Therefore we would like, without discussing the Theses as a whole, to give a detailed report on the situation in Ireland.

The Irish question can be considered as a question of national oppression from three standpoints: from the standpoint of the national revolutionary movement, from the standpoint of the petty-bourgeois social democrats and liberals, and from the standpoint of the Communist International. The first tendency considers Ireland as a separate national unit economically and politically oppressed by England over the last seven hundred years and sees the solution to the question purely and simply in the complete independence of Ireland from Great Britain. For that purpose however a bourgeois-democratic Irish state must be set up after the pattern of the democratic republics of western Europe. In no other case could Ireland ever succeed in developing fully in the economic and cultural respect.

From the standpoint of the liberals, which is shared with slight differences by the petty-bourgeois social-democrats, Ireland is already economically and politically a part of Great Britain. Therefore it is sufficient to satisfy national demands by means of sensible political concessions within the framework of limited self-government.

Meanwhile this independence must be prevented from becoming a danger to the realm.

From the standpoint of the Communist International the position is very different. In the last phase of capitalism the position of all national minorities and colonies is exceptionally complicated. Among the majority of these oppressed peoples and races there is a revolutionary movement directed against imperialism. Even if the struggle of the Communist International is proceeding in another direction, it cannot simply turn its back on these revolutionary uprisings, whose purpose also is to free themselves from imperialism. It must rather support every movement that can contribute to the advancement of the world revolution. The Communist International must encourage and support every movement that strives to weaken the imperialist powers and to advance the growing world revolution. The Communist International must strengthen and unite all communist groups involved in such struggles. Such policies would lead to the formation of a Communist Party in which, under the pressure of the military dictatorship of imperialism, a strict centralisation and a good discipline develop, and which thus will be rendered capable of carrying on a bitter struggle for power against its own national bourgeoisie, after liberating itself from the imperialist yoke. Taking these circumstances into account we demand the support of national revolutionary movements by the Communist International. The only means which promises success is the active support of national movements with the help of the communist groups in the countries in question, however weak they may be. This is especially true of Ireland, where support for the national movement by the Communist International and its British section, without the inclusion of communist groups, would only weaken the latter. Support by the Communist International is the only means that permits them, even in the very first stages of revolutionary struggle, to play a significant role. In their struggle against British imperialism the Irish nationalists will use any means, and if the struggle of the Communist International is only carried out through the mediation of the little communist groups I have mentioned, the nationalists will be forced to remain neutral towards the communists, who will meanwhile be able to develop and attract new forces. Indeed, they may perhaps have to support these communist groups actively, thus unconsciously making their propaganda easier.

If there was no communist movement in Ireland, the direct result, regardless of whether it remained subject to the military dictatorship ruling it at the moment or formed a bourgeois state, would be that it would be turned into the basis for the counter-revolutionary attack on the coming social revolution in Britain. And here we must pay particular attention to the fact that in the British struggles the fleet would play no small role, and that Ireland possesses splendid harbours and submarine bases for a white fleet destined to blockade Britain. This takes us back to the first part of our report which considered Ireland’s strategic position in its importance for communism. If we consider the international situation as a bitter struggle between the centre of the world revolution, Soviet Russia, with the small states grouped around Russia on the one hand, and the League of Nations led by British imperialism on the other, then Ireland, that constant hearth of revolution in the heart of the empire, which keeps an English army of 200,000 men permanently occupied, is of great importance for the international revolutionary movement. On the other hand we must strain every nerve to prevent Ireland from being converted into a kind of basis for the hangmen of the English revolution in the sense that we mentioned above.

As far as the Irishmen are concerned who live in America and scattered throughout the British Empire, everybody knows of the lively interest that they take in the political development of their homeland, as well as of the speed with which they react to events there.

This being so, the tendency of Irish politics towards communism will draw with it the masses of Irishmen living in British possessions and in the United States, strengthen the communist movement in these countries, and lend power to the international proletarian movement in general.

Comrade Connolly then reads the report that is published unabridged in issue 12 of the ‘Communist International’.

MacAlpine: I would like to draw the attention of the Congress to the 12th Thesis:

‘The centuries of oppression of the colonial population and of the weaker nationalities by the imperialist powers has awoken not only hostility in the labouring masses of the oppressed countries but also distrust of their oppressors in general, including the proletariat of those nations.'

As an example of this one can quote the attitude towards the English proletariat of the working masses of Ireland, who often make no distinction between the ruling class of England and the English workers. This attitude on the part of the Irish workers also explains the fact that the English labour movement has up to now failed to understand the problems raised by Ireland.

Most of the Polish revolutionaries I have talked to about current conditions in Ireland are amazed by the similarity with conditions in Poland in 1905. The similarity is striking, and while the revolutionary times are favourable to us we cannot afford to ignore the possibility that Ireland’s national claims can be exploited by the English bourgeoisie during a social crisis. The attitude of the British revolutionary movement towards Ireland has up to now neither been distinguished by tolerance nor has it adopted the attitude of the social democrats, who support the demands of the Irish nationalists in words. The fact that Ireland is an important weapon against British imperialism and that on the other hand it can be turned into a dangerous tool against the social revolution seems to have been forgotten. It seems that the shop stewards’ movement is the first to give fun recognition to the importance of the Irish question and its relationship to the British revolutionary movement. The discussions that took place at its Conference in London at the beginning of the year, and its resolutions, aroused the interest of Irish workers in this movement and contributed to creating better relations between the proletariat of the two countries.

It is extremely important that the British communists actively support Ireland, that they agitate among the British troops in Ireland and that they prevent troops and munitions from being shipped to Ireland. It is interesting to note that the result of the activity of the British labour movement on this question was the withdrawal of the Irish railwaymen from the National Union of Railwaymen, and that in the last few months the engineering workers in the southern part of Ireland have left the Amalgamated Engineering Union.

Nevertheless, no direct links can be permitted between the English communists and the Irish nationalist movement except through the mediation of the Irish communists or after consultation with them. Equally important is the condition that, while the English communists support the national struggle, they nevertheless distinguish strictly between the national and the communist revolution. They must point out that their attitude towards Ireland is no bourgeois humanitarian reaction to oppression but the result of common class interests between the proletariat and the peasantry of the two countries.

Hermann Gorter recently said that the attitude of the English workers towards Ireland is the barometer of revolutionary socialist feeling in Great Britain, and we could add that the attitude of the British communists towards Ireland is the measure of the clarity of the communist mode of thought in Britain. In relation to the claim made in the Commission that English workers would regard support for the revolutionary struggle of the colonies against British imperialism as treason, it must be said that the faster English workers learn to commit such treason against the bourgeois state the better it will be for the revolutionary movement. Such support is very necessary, even if it is only limited to the education of the English working masses.

I protest violently against our Italian Comrade Graziadei’s proposal to put ‘show active interest’ in place of ‘give support’ in number 11 of the Theses. That is a Wilsonian phrase and meaningless, like all that gentleman’s phrases. It is an underhand way of abolishing this point completely, and is reminiscent of the methods applied by the Second International towards the smaller nationalities.

I wanted to touch upon various other points, but since I have very little time available I will only mention them briefly. The position in Ulster or at least in the northern part of that province is different from that in the other parts of Ireland. In many respects it offers the communists a less complicated problem than is the case in the other parts of Ireland.

The majority of the inhabitants of this part of Ireland consists of anti-nationalists and of opponents of the other part of Ireland. Even if at first glance this makes the situation more complicated, the necessity of class struggle is thus clearer here. Political oppression is not confused with economic oppression by the workers. The circumstance that Ulster is the industrial centre of Ireland and that it thinks itself to be an equal component of the United Kingdom means that it is on an equal footing with the great industrial centres of England.

I would gladly also speak about the question of the co-operative which is developing to be an important part of Irish economic life, but I cannot do so because of lack of time. The growth of co-operatives in the countryside is neutralising that ideology of private property, which creates so many problems for communists, especially when it is present among the peasantry. The co-operatives are developing the idea of a whole range of production on a communist basis and are combating the land hunger of the rural labourers and the semi-proletarians.

We support the Theses including the additions proposed by Comrade Roy.

Ismael Hakki-Pasha (Turkey): I would like to talk about Comrade Lenin’s Theses, particularly the part that deals with Islam. This is precisely a question which demands that one should become more closely acquainted with it. From the time when the Turkish Sultans conquered Syria and Assyria, when the road to the holy places of Islam fell into their hands, from that time on those in power in Turkey have striven to unite all those peoples living in the East, Africa and other countries who are followers of Islam. From the time when the holy places and particularly the railway fell into the hands of the Sultans, from the time when the heart of Islam fell into their hands, the Turkish Sultans have preached every kind of Panislamism and have tried to unite around Turkey all the Muslim peoples and countries in the East and in Africa.

When however the Young Turk revolt broke out in 1908, power passed into the hands of the Young Turks. The liberal bourgeoisie which took power into its hands began to seek new ways to unite all these peoples. At the same time, in Russia, the Tartars, the Turkestanis, the Bashkirs and a whole series of other peoples were groaning under the Tsarist knout, and here at the same time the idea of Panturkism emerged, which was opposed to Panislamism. Panislamism was unable to unite all the different nationalities with their different languages. The idea of Panturkism which the Young Turks later took over, this idea strove to fuse all the Turkish peoples from Kazan to Turkestan and to the Caucasus with the whole of Turkey and a part of Persia. The endeavour of the Young Turks was to unify this huge territory. But all these dreams were condemned to remain on paper.

After the Russian Revolution and the partition of Turkey by the European imperialists, when the Janus face of the English and French capitalists showed itself openly to the Turkish people, a new movement began in Turkey, a liberation movement. The Anatolian movement, which is now led by the Democratic Party, is the best answer to the ruthless exploitation to which Turkey was subjected by the countries of the Entente. The occupation of Constantinople particularly poured oil on the flames and the movement grew even faster. Now the revolutionary state in Anatolia, which is gathering around itself all the forces hostile to the Entente which are driven by a century-old hatred of imperialism, is preparing for the struggle against European imperialism. The toilers of Turkey will not permit themselves to be enslaved once more by the Entente, and thanks to the Russian revolution, which is the best friend of toiling Turkey, the Turkish people will very shortly achieve complete freedom and, together with the toilers of every country, take up the struggle against imperialism throughout the world.

Serrati: It is proposed to close the list. There are still 12 comrades on the list. Are there any other proposals?

Walcher: There is still a lot to say on the subject under discussion. I do not think, however, that one can arrive at a positive outcome through this kind of discussion. For that reason I propose that we close the debate.

Maring: I must warn you strongly against accepting Walcher’s motion. It is absolutely senseless. We have just decided to give the representatives of the backward countries the opportunity to speak their minds to the Congress. I would like to point out that the representatives of all the colonies have spoken apart from Java, and that this is the major colony after British India, that only on Java is there a Marxist experience and has the work been carried out in a Marxist spirit, and I should like to hope that the German delegation is just slightly interested in hearing about conditions about which we know nothing.

I ask the Congress to give the representatives of the colonial peoples this opportunity, as was agreed last night.

Serrati: Comrade Frumkina moves that we give the floor to those who have proposed any motion.

Wijnkoop: I am against the floor Being given to those who have proposed a motion. We have already heard important motions which have not been discussed at all. We must have the opportunity of discussing the most important motions. I think that the floor must be given to all speakers.

Serrati: I should like to note that nobody has said that the speakers whose names are on the list should not be given the floor.

Lozovsky: I propose that the floor is only given to the representatives of those countries that have not yet spoken.

Serrati: But a general proposal has been made, that is to say the closure of the debate. All those in favour of the proposal to close the debate please raise their hands’. The majority is against. We will take the vote on Comrade Lozovsky’s proposal. It is carried by a large majority of votes.

Comrade Maring has the floor.

Maring (Dutch East Indies): Comrades, the question of the Dutch East Indies is one of the most important questions. I would like to talk about three points here. In the first place I would like to tell you of some of the experiences of the movement in the East Indies, secondly to make some comments on principle on the Theses and thirdly to make some practical suggestions for the work in the colonies. I hope that some Javanese and Malayans will be present at the next Congress in order to be able to take part in the debates. Nevertheless, since in the last seven years my work has been as closely bound up as possible with the movement in the East Indies, I hope the Congress will be interested in the experiences that I have had as a revolutionary Marxist in those countries. In my opinion there is not a single question on the agenda that is as important for the further development of the world revolution as the national and colonial question. The other questions are only controversies which are always cropping up again and again in the labour movement when the revolution stagnates. There is no time at all for such discussions when the revolution starts to march forward.

The Dutch colonies are the most important after British India. They are among the richest colonies in the world. Their population is larger than that of japan and almost as large as that of Germany. Of the 50 million inhabitants the majority live on the four main islands – Java, Sumatra, Bali and Lombok – with 40 million inhabitants. Of the 300 years of colonial exploitation in these countries it is the recent period which is most important for us. Since 1870 there has been a capitalist development there. In contradiction to what the Italian comrade said, since 1905 an imperialist period has begun in Holland which has developed very markedly. Within ten years the Dutch rule over a great part of Sumatra, over Borneo, Celebes and New Guinea was consolidated. What Comrade Rosa Luxemburg said on this matter in her Accumulation of Capital and what Comrade H. Roland-Holst established is exactly right here, that is to say that capitalism’s hunger for booty is boundless, that it stirs as soon as it hears of new goldfields, oil wells, etc. that are not being exploited, that it incites the government to mount new expeditions, and that it never thinks that enough money and men are being used to plunder the world and to suppress the tribes and the peoples of the backward areas.

Since 1905 the development of capitalism in these Asian countries has been very rapid. One only needs to emphasise the fact that 1,500 million – a third of the whole of Holland’s capitalist property – has been invested in the colonies. When one realises that in 1917 at least £25 million sterling flowed from the colonies into Holland, that besides Dutch capital, American, Japanese and English capital is making money out of the sugar, cocoa, coffee and other plantations, one can imagine the importance for the whole reconstruction of world capitalism of the new capital in the Far East. I should like to point out that the most respectable Dutch capitalist newspaper has said that, even if it were possible to nationalise all the firms in Europe, if we were to abolish private property here, there are new possibilities in the colonies, richer and greater than in Europe, for the whole capitalist class.

To finish this short sketch I would like to say a few words on the position of the population. 150,000 Europeans are the brigands of the Far East, and what Rudyard Kipling says of their daily practice is true, that is to say that, east of the Suez Canal, the ten commandments cease to apply. Apart from the Europeans there are also a million Chinese and a number of Japanese who are now bringing about a development of large-scale industry on Java. One only needs to hear the one statistic, that on Java alone there are now 200 large sugar refineries with a big proletariat, in order to understand that the Orient too is important for the revolution. The position of the peasants who make up the majority of the population – on Java alone there are 25 million including families – is such that they have a yearly budget of 110 Dutch florins taxed at a rate of 20 per cent, and that for the upkeep of their homes they can spend only six florins a year and for their agricultural implements only three florins. The peasants have possession of their land, but in reality they are thoroughly proletarianised as they must lease part of their land to European capital and are completely exploited by the privileged classes of Java, so that they cannot live as peasants and must go into the sugar refineries. When one considers that in Java now there is a proletariat of over a million with an average income of half a florin a day, when one knows that Java is also caught up in the price increases and that the Javanese for the greater part do not even have their rice each day all the year round, one can form an idea of how ripe the soil is here for revolutionary propaganda. When one knows that illiteracy is so widespread that out of a’ thousand grown men only 15 can read or write, and that of the children not even 10 per cent go to school, one can perhaps understand how a Marxist feels who sees what mighty work is being done in Russia in the field of education and how his heart yearns to see the people of the East also taking part in this cultural work.

I shall not now go into more detail on the position of the population. I have handed in to the Secretariat a written report which will be published in the Communist International. I have only given these facts here because I have the impression that, with a few exceptions, even this Congress of the Communist International has not fully understood the significance of the oriental question. I would like to say something about the movement in Java which arose in 1907 as a nationalist movement and was at the beginning a revolutionary movement. An Indian Zubatov changed its character, and one can say that the influence of the really revolutionary nationalist movement in the Dutch East Indies is very slight. Much more important than this movement is the mass movement which has about 1 1/2 million members and since 1912 has united workers and peasants in one association and has made rapid progress. This organisation, although its name – Sarekat-Islam – is religious, has taken on a class character. When one sees that in the programme of this movement stands the fight against the evils of capitalism, that the struggle is not only directed against the government but also against the Javanese nobility, one can judge that it is a duty for the socialist revolutionary movement to knit firm links with this mass organisation, with the Sarekat-Islam. In 1916 the government tried to interest this movement in its military propaganda, but the result was that a strong opposition developed on the part of young members from Samarang.

When the European socialists finally decided to do their duty in the Far East and develop a movement there, they succeeded in forming links with the local Sarekat-Islam associations. A significant part of this mass organisation is not consciously socialist, but they are nevertheless revolutionary in the sense that Comrade Roy established for British India.

In the Commission yesterday, I heard from an English comrade that mass action in India can only lead to failure and bloodshed because the masses are not yet ripe. I am of the opinion that a really socialist movement of mass resistance can only be organised through mass action, that this is the only way that a real force can be opposed to capitalism.

We found in Java that the middle class had no success in its attempts to interest the masses in the national question. However, when we went to the workers in the towns and in the sugar districts and talked about the low wages and the mortality figures, the heavy taxes and so forth, a degree of confidence was won in the revolutionary socialist movement. The feeling exists in the masses. They are very sensitive to our propaganda. In every Malayan newspaper in Java one can read of the progress that the ideas of Soviet Russia are making in the world. That has a great significance for a Congress such as this. While the socialist movement has for years been neglecting the colonies, the capitalists have assessed the significance the colonies have far better than has been the case on the part of many a revolutionary socialist. The capitalists grasped what oriental development can bring to capitalism.

In 1917 a strong movement among the revolutionary socialists developed in such a way that they said of our friends: these men are bringing us exactly the same misfortune as Trotsky and Lenin brought in Russia. When one hears that in 1918 there was not a single mass meeting in the towns and in the area of the sugar industry where there were not 3,000 to 4,000 workers present, one can understand that there has awoken in these brown people a new spirit that is of the greatest importance for our whole movement.

We have also of course, as is proper for revolutionaries, worked among the sailors of the colonial fleet and the soldiers. At the end of this year a strong reaction emerged. The leaders of the soldiers and the sailors and myself were hunted out of the East Indies by the government, and several friends were arrested and sentenced. The 13 members of a soldiers’ council were given 90 years in prison. Since then we have had proof that this movement has developed further, not through the will of trouble-makers, but because the economic conditions have developed to the point where a mass movement is possible and the basis is there for revolutionary agitation and propaganda.

On the second point I would like to say that I can see no difference between Comrade Lenin’s Theses and those of Comrade Roy. They are at one with another in their meaning. The difficulty consists only in finding the correct attitude towards the relations between the revolutionary nationalist and the socialist movements in the backward countries and the colonies. In practice this difficulty does not exist. There is the necessity of working together with the revolutionary nationalist elements, and we are only doing half the job if we deny this movement and play at being doctrinaire Marxists. We must not now adopt the so-called Marxism of Cunow for the colonies, but we must grasp that the capitalist development can be by-passed in the colonies. just as Comrade Radek showed that the development of japan was different from that in Europe, so too the colonies can develop in a different way. I was especially delighted that Comrade Radek made it clear to the Congress last night that we do not go to India to exploit but to bring them the best achievements of the proletariat, the hope of a new fife and of cultural and economic freedom, and that he pointed out their duty to the English working class, that he showed that the English working class must not forget the colonies in their political and trades union agitation, and that if they do not support the revolutionary struggle in the colonies they are only the handmaidens of the capitalists. And I say that, until the English workers understand that, they may be able to win a lot of votes at the elections but they have done no work of any real revolutionary significance. We cannot be satisfied with passing long resolutions, we must perform some practical service to the Far East.

I have shown what possibilities exist for agitation. We are shortly going to the Congress in Baku. [Called by the Communist International the Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East, it was attended by 1,891 delegates the majority of whom were not Communists. It was presided over by Zinoviev and passed two manifestos and several resolutions calling for a struggle against foreign and domestic oppressors and for the establishment of Soviet government. The Congress set up a Council for Propaganda and Action of the Peoples of the East.] But we do not have any illusions that this Congress will have any great significance for the Far East. That is impossible. I would like to propose that the Theses adopted here should be published in a number of oriental languages by the Communist International and distributed particularly among Chinese and Indian revolutionaries. I would like further to propose that a propaganda bureau of the Communist International should be set up for the Far East too and also for the Middle East. Since the movement is so important now it would be very useful to unify the work that already exists there and to carry on concentrated propaganda which cannot be led satisfactorily from Moscow.

To finish I have one more request. Comrade Reed said yesterday that the Negroes must come here to see conditions in Russia for themselves. I propose that the Communist International gives the Far Eastern leaders the opportunity to live here for six months and study some courses on communism so that they understand correctly what is happening here and can carry out the ideas of the Theses, so that they can achieve the soviet type of organisation in practice and perform communist work in the colonies. I demand this because Moscow and Petrograd form a new Mecca for the East and the capitalist governments will all try to prevent our communist hadjis [one who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca] from travelling to Moscow and Petrograd. We must give oriental revolutionaries the opportunity of training themselves theoretically here in Russia so that the Far East can become a living member of the Communist International.

Frumkina: I think that the national minorities, that is to say minorities who occupy a specific territory, must also be taken into account. I am amazed to see repeated here the error which the Second International permitted itself to make. Territorial autonomy is talked about and national minorities are not taken into account. I think that the national minorities in different countries ought to be taken into account. I propose to make an addendum to point 9. Before that however I think that the experience of the Communist Party and of the soviet order in Russia ought to be remembered. The organisations of the Communist Party of Russia and the soviet institutions possess special departments for national minorities which are concerned. with the national minorities and everything to do with for example the Jewish question, etc. I propose the following addendum on page 43 at the end of the Thesis, before point 10:

‘At the same time the Communist Parties in every country must carry out a decisive struggle, not only in their propaganda but also in their general policies, against the bourgeois concept of the exclusive right of this or that national majority to possess the territory they inhabit and against the concept held by national socialists who consider the national majority as absolute rulers and treat extra-territorial national minorities of workers who live on their territories as foreigners (Poland, the Ukraine).

‘Unless the categorical demand of the practical exercise of the rights of the national minorities living in various countries is assured (rights which can only be absolutely guaranteed by the dictatorship of the proletariat), the unconditional support of the revolutionary tendencies in oppressed countries with variegated populations could turn the previously oppressed petty-bourgeois masses into oppressors.

‘The experience of the soviet power and of the Communist Party of Russia, which gives the working masses of all nations the true opportunity to develop intellectually, thanks to the great ramification of the organs of state (sections for the education of national minorities, Commissariats for National Affairs, etc.), whereby a truly fraternal co-existence between all nations is achieved, must form the basis of the national programme valid for all Communist Parties.'

One is tempted to regard all extra-territorial minorities as foreigners. That is what it is like in Poland and the Ukraine. It is important for every country to take as its example the Communist Party of Russia, which gives all the toiling minorities of every nationality the opportunity to develop culturally by placing the necessary organisations at their disposal, such as for example organisations for the enlightenment of national minorities and Commissariats to defend the interests of national minorities.

This example must be taken into consideration by every Communist Party during the discussion of the national question.

I also propose to add in the same 11th Thesis, page 46, under the heading (g) section 6 after the words ‘in these countries’ the following words: ‘as also in those where a struggle by the national minorities to extend their rights is taking place’.

Section 6 after the words ‘the backward countries’ add: ‘and nations’.

After section 6 the following comment:

‘An example will show what lies the working masses of an oppressed nationality have had to fall victim to, lies which are great assets to the Entente and to the bourgeoisie of the nations in question. This is the case of the Zionists in Palestine who, under the pretext of founding an independent Jewish state, suppress the working population and the Arabs who live in Palestine under the British yoke, although the. Jews are still the minority there.

‘This unparalleled lie must be combated, and in a very energetic way, since the Zionists in every country work by approaching all the backward masses of Jewish workers and trying to create groups of workers with Zionist tendencies (Poale Zion), which have recently been striving to adopt a Communist turn of phrase.

[Poale Zion – The Socialist Labour Party of Palestine, although it applied to join the Communist International, was permeated with bourgeois nationalism and Zionist tendencies. The Poale Zion World Federation, however, rejected the conditions of admission and after the Third Communist International Congress the ECCI called on Poale Zion to call a congress and dissolve itself. This it refused to do and Communist members later left the organisation and joined their national Communist Parties, while in Poale Zion, Zionist and reformist tendencies became dominant.]

I would like to quote here one of the most striking examples of the Zionist movement.

In Palestine we are not dealing with a population whose majority is Jewish. We are dealing with a mere minority which is trying to subjugate the majority of the workers in the country to the capital of the Entente.

We must combat these efforts in the most energetic way. The Zionists are seeking to win supporters in every country, and through their agitation and their propaganda serve the interests of the capitalist class. The Communist International must combat this movement in the most energetic way.

Murphy: Since we were forced to leave the hall we were not able to take part in the vote on the election of the representatives of the individual nations who were to speak on the colonial question. I ask you to allow the British delegation to choose two of its comrades, that is to say a representative of each of the two tendencies represented here.

Serrati: Does the Congress agree to re-open the vote and to grant the British delegation’s request? [Signs of agreement. The British comrades are asked to choose two delegates.]

McLaine: I shall not waste any time over the question of which of the British revolutionary movements has done more to fight British imperialism and to support the oppressed colonial people.

The British revolutionary movement is not a strong one and has done little in this direction. Nevertheless I must protest against Comrade Radek’s claim that the British did nothing to prevent England’s attacks on Russia apart from passing a few resolutions on the question. To that we can answer what General Golovin said to Sasanov in a secret report, in which he reported an interview with Churchill and regretted that he could not give more support to Kolchak and his friends, and that the help Great Britain had sent to the Whites had to be set in motion secretly because of the opposition of the British working class.

A false construction has been placed upon the words of Comrade Quelch, who said in a session of the Commission that a great revolutionary uprising in India could be thought of as treason to Great Britain and could give the British government the opportunity, through the control of the press, to incite the British people against Indian workers. Comrade Quelch did not mean that we should therefore give up our revolutionary activity, but that we should keep sight of the facts and avoid events like those at Amritsar.

The task of the Communist International consists in establishing guidelines for the activity and the principles that lead to the world revolution. The biggest obstacle to the world revolution is imperialist capitalism, and the biggest capitalist state is Great Britain.

Therefore the colonial question consists to a great extent of the question of how best to attack British capitalism. British capitalism is powerful by virtue of the exploitation of workers at home and the exploitation of the colonial population. When British capitalism began, it needed support itself, but now the whole world must pay tribute to it. All the oppressed peoples are exploited by the parasitical capitalism of Britain.

Imports are now far larger than exports – a proof of the fact that England is a parasite’ . In future, British capitalism will try to measure workers’ wages by the full value of the work that they do, but only on condition that they cast their votes for the exploitation of the oppressed peoples.

Therefore it is our duty to take part in the revolutionary struggle at home and to support all truly revolutionary movements. Every national revolutionary movement that fights for liberation from Great Britain contributes to the development of the world revolution, since it fights against imperialist reaction. All such movements must be supported.

Wijnkoop: I said yesterday that the question discussed here is a very important one, and that is now evident. We should think about the fact that imperialism and the world war have made it downright impossible for the industrial countries to continue to send the necessary machines and finished products to the agrarian countries and that, vice-versa, the political phenomena of the world war have also prevented agricultural products from reaching the mass of the proletariat in the industrial countries. If we think it through seriously, then we know that this problem goes much further than all the other problems on the agenda. Now we must keep clearly in sight what we actually decide upon in Comrade Lenin’s and Comrade Roy’s Theses. The Theses were agreed upon jointly through discussion, and now these Theses actually say that we have not to work in the colonial countries for national rule, as the bourgeoisie preaches, but for the soviets of workers and peasants, and it is established that in order to achieve this goal we must support the revolutionary movements. The word ‘support’ is used materially, because we really mean it, we really want to support. We want to support the revolutionary action of these masses, even if it is not a socialist movement, through the mediation of whatever Communist Parties there are in the colonies. With this tactic we start from the fact that it is not necessary for foreign imperialism to bring capitalism into non-capitalist countries as an inevitable stage in the transition to communism. On the contrary, we want, whenever possible, to prevent this by our tactics and by support of the revolutionary movement. We are therefore fighting not only against the political rule of foreign imperialism but also against the growth of national capitalism. If we do that, then I think that the support of the revolutionary nationalist mass movements, and the fight against the conviction that the penetration of capitalism into the colonies is a necessary precondition for the transition to socialism, are the main things in the Theses of Comrades Lenin and Roy.

If we look at the matter in this way we cannot agree with Comrade Graziadei’s amendment , for if I have understood him correctly he is proposing not to apply these Theses to Italy, so that the rising nationalist movement will receive no support on the part of the communists. He is afraid that we are perhaps counting Italy in with those backward countries, and for this reason he thinks that his amendment is necessary. I, however, think it is superfluous, since it seems to me that nobody here could assume that the paragraphs listed here under section 11 could apply to a country like Italy. These only refer to those states and nations that have a backward character, so that a country like Italy cannot at all be brought under this heading. We also considered in the Commission whether it would not be to the purpose to describe in greater detail what we mean by a backward country. The question was answered in the negative. If we were to accept Comrade Graziadei’s proposal there would immediately be new difficulties with, for example, Bulgaria and Greece. Such questions will always arise and they can only be solved practically by the Communist Parties of the individual countries with the help of the Theses and of the guidelines that the Communist International will give here. It would therefore not be wise to accept Comrade Graziadei’s addendum here, although I think that his practical aim is good. It is the same with the other special amendments that he proposes. The Irish comrade has already polemicised against his proposal to amend ‘active support’ to ‘active interest’. Perhaps this speaker did not understand Comrade Graziadei but if this construction can be placed on these words then it is a misconstruction. We must oppose it. We want the workers to have an active interest in the struggles of the communists. We want them also to support revolutionary nationalist movements. Comrade Graziadei wants the same thing but he thinks it is expressed better in the words he uses.

We say in the Theses that there must be support. I do not think therefore that it would be good to accept Comrade Graziadei’s wording. I agree with what Comrade Frumkina. said. I do not know whether the motion is good. If it does not fit some country or other we must deal with the question in the Commission.

Comrade Maring said so much about Java that we do not need to say any more here. I associate myself completely with him. In order to show that there is really a capitalist development there with all its characteristics it is sufficient to say that the two hundred sugar refineries of which Comrade Maring spoke are in the hands of three trusts which are also expanding into other firms and industries. That is the phenomenon of the highest stage of capitalism. The proletarians must fight it and that is what they are doing.

Now to talk about Comrade Radek’s remarks. I am glad that Comrade Radek said that English imperialism cannot be beaten in London but in the colonies. I really believe that many English comrades do not understand this. Comrade Radek understands it very well but it must be understood in general and not in a petty manner. When Comrade Radek asks how many of the English comrades have been to jail for agitating in the colonies, then I say that the English comrades do not need to answer such a question. We do not ask whether comrades have been to jail or not. We ask whether comrades have done their duty and Comrade McLaine has answered that to a certain extent. In this respect Comrade Radek has in my opinion exaggerated the role of parliamentarism. He thinks that if a comrade

speaks out against imperialism in parliament Reuters will report it. In fact Reuters does not carry such reports. We in Holland did not learn until much later and from different sources that some women held a demonstration in parliament. Reuters does not report such things. [Interjection from Walcher: ‘Comrade Radek did not say that at all'].

And now I would like to finish off with one more question. They say that we must go to the colonies. That is of course not the most important thing for the Communist Parties in the various countries. We cannot all send our agitators to the colonial countries. We must create the necessary preconditions so that every colonial country can develop its own revolutionary movement. Admittedly we need agitators for this but it is not a question of us. sending our agitators into the colonies. If you take the work in the colonies as the barometer of a party’s revolutionary significance, then precisely the Dutch party has done everything in its power. It had comrades in the colonies who support and developed the revolutionary movements of the natives. The Tribunites and the Dutch communists were the most active at this and for that reason it is wrong to speak about their party in the way people already have done. It was precisely the Dutch party which showed what a close connection existed between this question and the revolutionary struggle. If we are hated and persecuted in Holland this does not happen because we can start a revolution in this country for in fact we cannot do it without uniting with England or Germany – but because we create problems for Messrs the capitalists in their colonial affairs.

Mereshin: The Jewish sections of the Communist Party of Russia are in complete agreement with the judgement of Zionism and of the Jewish Communist Party Poale Zion expressed in Comrade Frumkina’s speech and I do not wish to repeat the same thing. I would like now to deal with another question, the question of the defence of the rights of national minorities living in territories with a mixed population. The parties of the Second International found a way of defending these rights through national personal autonomy (the theory of Otto Bauer and Renner). In the Ukraine, in White Russia and in Lithuania, the attempt has been made to put this theory into practice. There under the Central Rada and other petty-bourgeois governments a national personal autonomy was created.

[The Ukrainian Central Council, or Rada, was first set up in Kiev in March 1917, under bourgeois nationalist control and became the effective government at the time of the Kerensky Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks entered the Rada but with the downfall of Kerensky a conflict broke out and an all-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets was called for December, 1917. It fell into the hands of the nationalists and the Bolsheviks walked out and joined another Congress of Soviets meeting in Kharkov which proclaimed the Rada an ‘enemy of the people’. A civil war followed, the Red Army entered Kiev and the leaders of the Rada fled. They returned when German troops marched into the Ukraine and took Kiev. In April, 1918 the Rada was dispersed by German troops and a puppet government was set up for the Ukraine.]

This attempt must be taken into account and evaluated. We must establish that the attempt has proved that national personal autonomy does not work.

The transfer of power from the big bourgeoisie to the petty bourgeoisie, to the democratic republican government, has in no way lessened the national pressure. The social traitors who had come to power while in words granting national personal autonomy in fact performed more cruelties in the fight against the dictatorship of the proletariat than even Tsarism. A forcible naturalisation was irresistibly introduced despite the official proclamation of national personal autonomy. But what are we to say about naturalisation when the same petty-bourgeois parties who had on paper declared themselves ready to recognise national personal autonomy even went so far as to introduce physical annihilation of the national minority, particularly through the so-called ‘Ukrainian People’s Directory’ and the governments of Pilsudsky, Moraczevsky, etc., etc. (the cruellest pogroms, raids, etc.).

However we must make a further comment. It must be established that in and of itself, national personal autonomy worsens the position of the proletariat of the national minorities. This comes from the fact that the petty bourgeoisie of the national minorities is predominantly urban, and that this urban petty bourgeoisie is significantly less revolutionary than the petty bourgeoisie of the national majorities. For in the national majorities the petty bourgeoisie, particularly in Eastern Europe, consists predominantly of peasants who are revolutionised in the struggle with the landlords. In fact the proletariat of the national minorities have frequently had to appeal to ‘foreigners’ against the national personal autonomy ‘granted’ to them. In the face of its own bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie it was isolated and in a worse position than if it had never possessed national personal autonomy.

For the reasons that I have mentioned I propose to add the following Thesis after the third Thesis:

‘The experience of the mutual relations between the majority and minority nationalities in territories with a mixed population (in the Ukraine, in Poland and in White Russia) hag shown that the transfer of power from the hands of the big bourgeoisie into the hands of petty-bourgeois groups forming democratic republican states, does not reduce national tensions but on the contrary sharpens them in the extreme. The republican democracy, which is forced, in the struggle against the working class, to confuse the class struggle with national war, is quickly permeated with national exclusiveness and easily adapts itself to the experience of older teachers of national oppression. This experience is eagerly repeated in the area of the incitement of one mass of people against another and in the area of the organisation, with the help of the state apparatus, of mass national violence for the purpose of fighting against the dictatorship of the proletariat. There is the example of the growth of anti-semitism in the Ukrainian ‘democracy’ at the end of 1917 and the beginning of 1918 under the Central Rada, the vicious race riots organised at the end of 1918 and in the first half of 1919 that were organised by the organs of the “Ukrainian People’s Directory”, and the pogrom movement in the “Polish Democratic Republic”, not only under the mixed regime (Pilsudsky-Skuisky) but also under the rule of the party of the Second International (PPS – the Moraczevsky government). The same experience has shown that there are no “democratic’ forms (and that includes the national personal autonomy defended by the Austrian Social Democracy) that can secure the rights and the cultural interests of the national minorities in areas of mixed population in the republican-democratic order, and guarantee true equality and equal influence on the course of the business of state. National personal autonomy, based on universal suffrage, leads not only to the division of the proletariat into national groups, but also to the complete cessation of the revolutionary struggle and even to the worsening of the cultural position of the working class in the national minority. This arises because within every national minority the national petty bourgeoisie, which is larger and stronger than the proletariat and consists predominantly of town dwellers, is significantly more reactionary than the petty-bourgeois majority of the nation, which consists of peasants revolutionised by the fight against the landlords.'

I would like also to touch on the special problem of pogroms.

The Jewish section of the Communist Party of Russia propose the following resolution on this question:

‘1. In its bloody campaign against the dictatorship of the proletariat the world counter-revolution falls with especial cruelty on the poorest Jewish population of Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Palestine, etc.

‘2.. Through its oppression of the poorest Jewish inhabitants, beside which the atrocities not only of Tsarism but also of the medieval inquisition pale into insignificance, the world counter-revolution is striving to introduce splits and disagreements into the ranks of the workers of different nationalities in order to distract their attention from the immediate struggle against the bourgeois order.

‘The Second Congress of the Communist International establishes in front of the whole world:

‘1. That responsibility for all the pogroms against the Jews in recent times in the Ukraine, Poland, Rumania, Hungary, Palestine, etc. falls fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Entente, which heads all counter-revolutionary enterprises against the Communist Revolution.

‘2. That the Entente, who supply every species of White Guard, who cover the territory they occupy with hundreds of thousands of innocent victims with every possible means of destruction, and justify them morally, do not move a finger to check the instigators of the pogroms and do not pay the slightest attention to the protests of the toiling masses against the pogroms.

‘Indeed the agents of the Entente whom we find in the counter-revolutionary armies of Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and other countries, take a direct part in these pogroms. We saw this most clearly in the pogrom in Jerusalem in April of this year, which was organised by the agents of the English government.

‘3. That the parties of the yellow Second International in power, in the shape of the ‘Ukrainian Peoples’ Directory’ in the Ukraine and of the Pilsudski government in Poland, are moral and physical participants in the pogroms which have had the extermination of hundreds of thousands of women and children as a result. In their struggle against the dictatorship of the proletariat they have drowned the Ukraine and Poland in floods of innocent blood.

‘The Second Congress of the Communist International, which expresses the will of the revolutionary proletariat of the world, therefore raises the most decisive protest against the pogroms against the Jews, which are the work of the international counter-revolution. It calls on the workers of every country to fight against them actively in word and deed in order to unmask the hypocritical diplomats of the ‘League of Nations’, reveal their true shameful role and to set up everywhere the dictatorship of the proletariat which alone is able to put an end to all pogroms, to do away with all national prejudices, to tear down all the barriers that divide nations and to bring about the true fraternity of nations all over the globe.

‘In particular the Second Congress of the Communist International addresses itself to the workers of all the enslaved nations with the call to form up more closely around the banner of the Communist International, which brings to all of mankind the final liberation from the injustices of the capitalist order.'

Murphy: I cannot say everything that I wanted to say because the English delegation has not been given the opportunity of deepening the discussion to a sufficient degree.

I shall content myself with drawing the attention of the Congress to the close links that exist between the revolutionary movements in Europe and those in the colonies. The movement in Egypt is one of the most serious revolutionary movements. The struggle in India is assuming significant proportions. The Communist International has the duty of supporting these movements. It is a question of grouping them together so that all together they produce a mighty international movement in which national interests are subordinated to international interests. The Communist International must build sections in every country so that it is able to bring the different revolutionary movements into harmony and transform them into an international communist movement.

Cohn-Eber: As a result of some of the speakers who have intervened in it unexpectedly, the debate has taken a. turn with which nobody can be in agreement who knows the exigencies of a communist policy towards the nationalities. I would like to make one remark before I deal with the motions of Comrades Frumkina and Mereshin, who have brought this turn into the discussion. The main emphasis in the Theses is on peoples living in territorial concentrations, that is to say on oppressed nationalities who are ruled by a foreign power. There is no talk in general of minorities living in mixed populations. Only the 9th Thesis talks about guaranteeing the rights of national minorities. In the Commission I had moved an addendum to this Thesis, to the second sentence of the paragraph following the words ‘united in struggle with the bourgeoisie’, to read as follows: ‘secondly to fight for social institutions which make possible the satisfaction of the cultural and socio-economic needs of the toiling masses of the minorities.’ It is necessary to create quite specific organisational preconditions which the Communist Parties in the individual countries should encourage and defend. The Commission agreed, however, that the 9th Thesis expresses quite clearly, although only in general, the defence of the rights of the national minorities and the creation of the social institutions that are to realise these rights, and that they should avoid adopting detailed demands in the Theses. For that reason I was prepared to withdraw my addendum. Faced with the danger however that for lack of opposition Mereshin’s motion may perhaps be passed, I am readopting the motion I read out and submitting it to the Congress. This Thesis corresponds exactly to the demands of the party I represent, the Poale Zion. The Jewish proletariat is completely satisfied to be granted social institutions that make an answer to their cultural and socio-political needs possible, insofar as this can be carried out within the framework of the Soviet Constitution and does not contradict the needs of the soviets in struggle.

Comrade Mereshin’s resolution on national personal autonomy is based on an incorrect view of the facts and above all on incorrect conclusions. When he says that the attempts to introduce national personal autonomy in the Ukraine had damaging results, in that as a result the majority in the institutions of national autonomy fell into the hands of the Jewish bourgeoisie, which is reactionary, he forgets that this happened at a time when there was a democratic government, that a general suffrage had just been introduced into these institutions and that these results could not have been a surprise for any communist. If on the other hand institutions are set up to satisfy the cultural and socio-economic needs of the national minorities with specific, sharply delineated autonomy under the control of the soviet power and under the leadership of the communist proletariat of the nation in question, then no higher degree of damaging results are to be expected than would be the case from any other social institution. I do not think anyway that either Comrade Frumkina’s motion or my own need to be put explicitly, since the soviet power, driven by the needs of the proletariat and on the basis of their own constitution, will have to grant. the opportunity for self-government to the national minorities as well. I would also like briefly to point out that Comrade Mereshin, has fallen victim to a misunderstanding which is, it must be said, characteristic. He says that Renner and Otto Bauer theoretically demanded national personal autonomy. That is a mistake. These two leaders of the Austrian opportunists only developed the theory of the national autonomy of the majorities, and merely demanded legal guarantees for the minorities.

As far as Comrade Mereshin’s resolution on anti-semitism is concerned, I must merely point out the passage that was added to the 10th Thesis by the Commission and sufficiently emphasises the necessity of combating this reactionary phenomenon. Comrade Mereshin’s long resolution would only give the impression that we are trying to use the Congress to mount a campaign on the role of the Entente on this question too among the representatives of the Jewish proletariat. I think that the Congress has more important things to worry about.

What has to be said on the phenomenon of national hatred and xenophobia and the pogroms created by the reactionary powers is said clearly enough in the Thesis I have mentioned.

Partly for the same reason I would like to speak out in the most decisive way possible against Comrade Frumkina’s resolution. We are of course in agreement with the content of the first part. Bourgeois Zionism, which needs must enter the service of British imperialism if it does not wish to condemn itself to being utopian from the very start, this bourgeois movement must of course be fought as sharply as possible under all circumstances. And it is precisely the communist Poale Zion movement which is the most energetic in this fight. But what the Congress and the whole of the Communist International has to say about this has already been expressed *in Thesis 11, paragraph 6. Comrade Frumkina’s resolution is therefore completely superfluous and not at all inspired by the intention to fight bourgeois Zionism. Otherwise we could have the Congress passing long-winded resolutions on other bourgeois nationalist so-called liberation movements in the service of individual Entente powers. The real aim of this resolution can be seen in the second part. You have here an absolute model of the kind of evil squabbling that has for years poisoned the political life of Jewish workers. Comrade Frumkina’s party, the Communist Bund, is simply trying to use the opportunity to start a petty fight between parties at the Congress. Comrade Frumkina, the representative of a party which only yesterday supported all the counter-revolutionary governments in Russia, whose leaders Dan and Lieber were among the most important figures in the Menshevik counterrevolution, claims that we – Poale Zion – are hiding our activities under a communist veil. She says that about us, who were the first of the Jewish parties in Russia to take the side of the Bolsheviks in the fight against the counter-revolution and who took up the struggle for the world revolution in all the other countries too before all the other tendencies in the Jewish working class.

[The General Jewish Workers’ Union in Russia and Poland. Founded in Vilna in 1897 by russified Jewish intellectuals as a Social-Democratic movement but demanding national cultural autonomy for the Jews. Condemned by the Second Congress of the RS MP in 1903 it continued to attract many Jewish workers until the Russian Revolution. After 1917, the left wing of the Bund joined the Bolsheviks, as Communist Bundists.]

She justified her resolution with some general statements that show no knowledge of the territories in question. I shall give some information on this as we are dealing with countries that have not been discussed today although they come within the sphere of British imperialism and will in the future play a role that will be important in every respect. I am talking about the countries of Arabian Asia: Mesopotamia, Syria and Arabia. Frumkina would like to pass off the movement which seized the Arabian Orient during the world war as a national liberation movement. What we are in fact dealing with is the attempt by the nomad tribes of the Arabian desert, mainly the Hadji, under the influence of their religious leaders to impose on the settled population of these countries the oldest kind of slavery, that is to say the feudal organisation of the rule of the tribal leaders over the peasants. The Communist International supports this movement and its leader the King of the Hadji, the Emir of Fezan and similar ‘liberation fighters’ – a remarkable beginning!

What is the real situation in the Arabian Orient? The great mass of the population consists of Arab fellahin who have remained in the most primitive economic conditions through the heavy pressure of the Turkish government. But there was one favourable circumstance which seemed to prevent complete impoverishment, and that was the existence of a kind of common ownership of the land and of property which seemed to be based on certain primitive communist regulations in the law of Islam. The Bedouins who are leading the allegedly $national’ movement are striving to set in motion the worst exploitation of the working population by expropriating the fellahin’s land. They are completely supported in this by English imperialism. The English bourgeoisie after all started off by ‘liberating’ the peasant population from the land in the most radical manner, as we read in Volume I of Capital on primitive accumulation. Comrade Frumkina would like to see the Communist International encourage this ‘liberation’ carried out by the Bedouin chiefs under the protection of the English bourgeoisie.

How do we stand, then, the Communist Poale Zion, in relation to Palestine? First of all we do not want to set up a state, least of all with the support of British imperialism, but we are convinced that in the process of rendering the Jewish masses productive, of attracting them to useful and socially necessary work, a certain number of Jews will emigrate from the countries in which they at present live in their masses, such as, for example, the Ukraine, Lithuania and especially Poland. Some of these emigrants will also go to Palestine and there be attracted to agriculture. The only thing that follows from that as far as we are concerned is the demand for the opportunity to emigrate and to colonise this country as long as it is m the hands of the British or any other bourgeoisie. We only raise this demand in order to regulate the emigration and the colonising activity of the Jewish and every other proletariat with the support and the fraternal help of the Communist International and in the sharpest struggle with the Jewish and the world bourgeoisie, to the extent that such activity is at all possible for the working class under the capitalist order. If in the development of the social revolution Palestine becomes a soviet state that joins the federation of other soviet states, then the question of the Jewish colonisation of this country will become part of the question of the attraction of the Jewish masses to productive work, of their participation in the construction of the free society of working people. The solution of this question occurs in the framework of the rational use of the natural resources in the lightly populated colonial countries and the appropriate application of the hitherto unused or very badly used human labour power in industry.

But these views of ours have nothing to do with the thought of a bourgeois state. On the contrary our movement, which has arisen in every country out of the needs of the Jewish proletariat, is everywhere in the front rank of the struggle against imperialism. In Palestine, indeed all over Arabian Asia, it is the socialist party of Palestine (Poale Zion) affiliated to us which is the only proletarian communist group that fights British imperialism under the most difficult conditions and has the task of leading the working masses of the Arabian Orient in this struggle. [The chairman interrupts the speaker.] The proposed resolution also ignores the most important social facts and tries to lay the Congress open to ridicule. It is namely a fact that, just as the Jewish bourgeoisie was the first to introduce modern capitalist economic forms of exploitation into the country (forms which, moreover, if we were to be given a choice between the various forms of exploitation as the Communist Bund wishes, we would still prefer to the feudal forms that Comrade Frumkina recommends), so too the Jewish immigrant workers are the only modern, truly propertyless proletariat which is for that reason filled with class consciousness and inspired by the revolutionary will to fight. The Arab masses who work on the estates of Jewish landlords and Arab effendis usually possess their own land and can only be characterised as semi-proletarians. Their natural champion which has to draw them into the revolutionary struggle and fill them with proletarian consciousness is our party there which, true to the principles of the Communist International, has carried out very lively revolutionary propaganda among them.

The speaker is called upon to wind up his remarks.

Comrade Frumkina’s resolution contradicts not only all the given facts but also the spirit and the letter of the Theses, which demand support of the proletarian communist groups against the efforts of the bourgeois national revolutionaries wherever the former exist. It would do extraordinary damage to the communist movement of the Jewish proletariat all over the world and to the communist movement in the Arabian Orient in particular. I therefore ask the Congress not to permit itself to be used for the purposes of the worst sectarian squabbling and to reject this resolution in whose favour I have not a single polite word to say.

Frumkina: I protest against the accusation that has been raised against the Bund. It has always stood on the side of the soviet power, even when it was not in the ranks of the Communist Party.

Zinoviev: I propose that we take a vote for and against the Theses and send the proposals to the Commission. I hope that in its evaluation the Commission will reach a unanimous verdict. Should differences of opinion arise, they will be put before the Congress.

Serrati: Actually I wanted to speak on this question further, but I prefer now to limit myself to making a statement about the way I shall vote.

In the Theses proposed to the Congress by Comrades Lenin and Roy on the national and colonial question I find not only several contradictions but also a great danger for the position of the Communist proletariat in the advanced countries, which must reject any kind of class collaboration particularly in the period leading up to the revolution.

The definition of the ‘backward’ countries is too indefinite and too imprecise for it not to be open to various chauvinist interpretations.

In general national liberation action undertaken by bourgeois-democratic groups is not revolutionary action even if it adopts the methods of insurrection.

It is undertaken in the interests of a developing national imperialism or in the struggle of the capitalist imperialism of a new state against the previous ruling state. National liberation can never be revolutionary if the working class does not participate in it. Even in the so-called backward countries the class struggle can only proceed if the independence of the working class is preserved from all its exploiters, even from the bourgeois democrats who call themselves ‘revolutionary nationalists’.

The true liberation of the enslaved peoples can only be carried out through the proletarian revolution and the soviet order, and not by a temporary and accidental alliance between the Communist Parties and the nominally revolutionary bourgeois parties.

On the contrary, such alliances can only lead to the weakening of proletarian class consciousness, particularly in those countries that are less accustomed to the struggle against capitalism.

The Theses’ lack of clarity conceals within itself the danger of giving weapons to the pseudo-revolutionary chauvinism of Western Europe against truly communist international action.

I therefore declare that I shall not cast my vote.

Wijnkoop: This is fantastic. If Comrade Serrati is going to abstain then that of course is his own affair. But he has not contributed at any point in the discussion and brought his arguments forward, which he could have done and which he had a duty to do. Instead of that he stands up now and says that these very well-prepared Theses are counter-revolutionary. That has got to be discussed. By waiting until now to bring his claims forward he robs us of the opportunity of speaking against him. And the comrade who does this is very well known. The bourgeoisie and the workers who stand to the right and to the left of us will come along and say that all our policies on the colonial question are counter-revolutionary.

If the Congress has any self-respect it must force Comrade Serrati to discuss this matter here, and I therefore propose to start a discussion on the content of this protest and abstention here and now.

Serrati: I do not know if Comrade Wijnkoop has as much respect for me as Comrade Levi claims to have for him. I have never given reactionaries a pretext to attack my party. MY activity in the international communist movement is so clear that none of my declarations can be used as a weapon by our opponents. I have never deviated from my revolutionary standpoint, I have never made statements in favour of Germany or France in order to collect votes in an election, as Comrade Wijnkoop is accused of doing. I have always been very independent, and that is – why my statements have had weight in the international movement. I have duties towards this movement which I shall fulfil. I do not care what the bourgeoisie think of me or whether they think I am a ‘traitor’. The reason why I made this statement here and did not join the discussion are quite different. I think it is quite obvious that the Theses read out here can and must be adopted as such by the Congress. I however am in a completely different position. For six years I have struggled against the nationalist movement in my country, and if I were to vote for such a resolution it would give grounds for the claim that there was a contradiction between my attitude in Italy and the resolution that I vote for here.

Zinoviev: I would like to declare on behalf of the Russian delegation that we find Comrade Serrati’s statement very uncomradely. Comrade Serrati had every opportunity to take part in the discussion in the Commission and raise his objections. That is what discussions are for.

The International Congress has met to test individual experiences and draw the balance. It is incomprehensible why the Congress should be put in such a position. We cannot force anybody to discuss, but if Comrade Serrati has made an official statement against us then we must make an official statement in reply. He is trying to make out that we say that we want to support bourgeois revolutionary movements.

That is not what we want. What has been said here is that the communists support every revolutionary movement. I do not know what particular struggles have come up in Italy. We have experience in a number of countries and we think that, as communists, we must support each and every revolutionary movement. I repeat, we have no choice b ut to make a counter-statement. We cannot understand why Comrade Serrati did not wish to voice his objections in the Commission. We cannot start a new discussion. Let the Italian workers judge who is right and who is wrong, and I believe that out of 100 Italian workers, 99 will say that the Congress was right, and not Comrade Serrati.

Roy: Serrati has called my Theses and Comrade Lenin’s counter-revolutionary.

Serrati: No, no!

Roy: I am firmly convinced that no proletariat in any country can see support for reaction in the support of oppressed peoples in the fight against their oppressors. In the backward countries the national revolution is a step forwards. It would be unscientific to distinguish between different kinds of revolution. All revolutions are various stages of the social revolution. The population of the exploited countries whose economic and political evolution cannot proceed, have to pass through different revolutionary phases from the European peoples. Whoever thinks that it is reactionary to help these peoples in their national struggle is reactionary himself and speaks the language of imperialism.

I protest against Comrade Serrati’s declaration and ask for it to be struck from the minutes.

Wijnkoop: No representative of the revolutionary movement has the right to say that kind of thing. Serrati has boasted that he has never made a statement in favour of France or Germany. In my opinion that is an innuendo. I propose to speak against the arrangements that have been made here. I ask for an inquiry to be set up into this matter. I ask for Comrade Serrati’s statement to be struck from the minutes since it was not made in the Congress. Comrade Serrati will be quite free to submit all his ideas to the next Congress of the Italian Party.

Serrati: I can see nothing improper in an investigation being set up into the allegations that have been made against the Dutch Party. I did not make the accusations. I merely called to mind what Comrade Levi said. That is something completely different. I would remind you, since the comrade offers me the opportunity to do so, that one does not need to speak on, a declaration on how a vote is to be cast. I have not raised this question because I do not want a discussion, but I think it strange that the comrades allow de to speak when in fact they do not have the right to discuss my declaration on how I am going to vote. I find it even stranger that a comrade claims that my declaration should be struck from the minutes. I could have proposed that all the stupid things that have been said here should be struck from the minutes. I could have proposed that the accusation Comrade Levi hurled at Comrade Wijnkoop should not be mentioned in the minutes. It is much more serious than the specific, clear and precise statement that I made and which I ask to be included in the minutes.

Comrade Roy did not understand my statement. I say that he did not understand it because I think I have expressed myself with sufficient clarity. I was trying to say that in the form proposed the Theses are not clear enough and could give rise to chauvinist and nationalist interpretations. If I had thought, my dear Comrade Roy, that it was a question of adopting counter-revolutionary Theses, then I am honest and open enough to vote against them, and there would have been nothing wrong with somebody voting against an already formulated proposal at a communist Congress.

Comrade Roy said that every revolution has a social character, but that means that during the war we would have had to serve as the agents and servants of the bourgeoisie. They told us that revolutionary war is social war, and that we must participate in it. And we answer no, we will not participate in it.

Comrade Zinoviev made a statement on behalf of the Communist Party of Russia in which he calls on me to speak clearly and simply. I have always done so. But I have also said quite clearly that I feel incapable of discussing this question which cannot be debated in the form in which it is put.

I had intended to propose a motion, and I did not do so because I thought that it would not be possible to keep to a certain objective discussion.

I wanted to propose the following motion: ‘The Congress sends warm fraternal greetings to all those peoples suffering under the oppression of imperialist states. It expresses its full and active sympathy for their struggle directed against all exploiters, and declares that, in its struggle against the oppression of capital, the working class has the right to use national uprisings in order in the end to transform them into the social revolution.’ The thought behind this is very simple. Instead of saying that, in specific cases under specific circumstances and with specific guarantees the Communist Party and the working class can unite with the petty-bourgeois movement, I say: No, the working class can use a petty-bourgeois revolutionary movement for the purposes of a social revolution. But it may not support the bourgeoisie, particularly in backward countries, since it would otherwise run the danger of losing its class position and its class orientation, and the masses in backward countries that are more advanced since the proletariat there does not yet have a firm class consciousness and often follows its leaders blindly.

Comrade Zinoviev declared that the workers must judge the behaviour of their representatives at the International Congress. It goes without saying that on their return the delegates will have to give an account of themselves to those who sent them. And the masses will judge our behaviour. I have always adopted an implacable attitude towards the petty bourgeoisie. I also maintained this attitude at the national congress in Florence, and the congress approved of my attitude.

Wijnkoop: Comrade Serrati has tried to cast suspicion on our Party and he has tried to cast suspicion on me, and that because I have already spoken once. But he wants to speak twice. I scarcely think that Comrade Serrati, who himself moved the closure of the discussion, will be given the right to speak a second time in his own defence. I would like to propose that I am at least given the right to speak.

Zinoviev: I propose that we take a vote on the motion to close the debate. It is useless to continue these personal attacks. Comrade Serrati has the right to insist that the declaration he has made should be included in the minutes. [Interjection from Wijnkoop.] The minutes reflect what has taken place, and for that reason it must go down in the minutes. We propose that all resolutions and motions be referred to the Commission.

Wijnkoop: Not without a discussion.

Levi: We will take the vote on the closure of the debate.

The motion to close the debate is passed with 5 votes against

Wijnkoop: I have moved that it is completely impossible to close the discussion.

Levi: Who is in favour of Comrade Wijnkoop’s motion? Who is in favour of opening the debate when it has just been closed?

Comrade Wijnkoop’s proposal is rejected, with 8 votes in favour.

Levi: Comrade Wijnkoop’s motion has been rejected by an overwhelming majority. We come now to the vote on the Theses in general. The vote on the Theses is to take place now. All amendments will be referred to the Commission. If differences of opinion arise in the Commission it will make a second report to the Congress.

A vote takes place on whether all outstanding questions should be referred to the Commission, This is passed unanimously.

Frumkina: It has been said that the Bund participated in the counter-revolutionary agitation of the Second International. The Bund never participated in the agitation against the socialist revolution, but on the contrary applied all its energies to the defence of the Soviet government even before the Bund was communist. If the question of the Second International arises, then somebody ought to remind Comrade Cohn that the Poale Zion Party in Palestine turned to the Second International for support and got it. The Executive rejected Poale Zion’s request to have their representative admitted.

Serrati: Comrade Wijnkoop said that he would like to institute an inquiry into the allegations I made against the Dutch Party. I must emphasise that I did not make any allegations but merely repeated what Comrade Levi said without any refutation on the part of Comrade Wijnkoop and what the comrades on the Executive also said without arousing any protest.

Bombacci: I declare that I do not share the opinions expressed in Comrade Serrati’s declaration.

Wijnkoop: I did not ask for the right to speak for personal reasons, but in order to make a proposal. Now that I have the floor, however, I must state that everything that Comrade Serrati has said in this connection about our Party bears no relation to the truth. Whether or not he leans on Comrade Levi in spreading these untruths is no affair of mine. They are and remain untruths, so much must be established. The comrades on the Executive did not say the same as Comrade Serrati. The Amsterdam Bureau is not identical with the Dutch Party, and our Party has nothing to do with the allegations that Comrade Serrati was free to bring against it because I criticised him. I propose that Comrade Serrati’s protest should be struck from the minutes because it has not been discussed here.

Pestaña: Since I represent not a political party but a syndicalist organisation and cannot assume any responsibilities that I not sure I can fulfil, I shall abstain.

Graziadei: My attitude is known from the statement that I have already made here. I shall vote for the Theses including the amendments I proposed.

Zinoviev: We have a motion from Comrade Wijnkoop to strike Comrade Serrati’s statement from the minutes. We are of the opinion, and I ask comrades to support the Bureau’s opinion, that such a vote is impossible. All those who agree with this opinion please raise your hands. Who is against? There seems to be no one against. The Congress now proposes to take the vote on the Theses and close the debate.

The proposal is passed.

Zinoviev: The next item on the agenda is the Theses on the colonial and national question, which read as follows:

Theses on the national and colonial question

1. An abstract or formal conception of the question of equality in general and national equality in particular is characteristic of the bourgeoisie by its very nature. Under the pretence of the equality of the human person in general, bourgeois democracy proclaims the formal legal equality of the proprietor and the proletarian, of the exploiter and the exploited, and thus deceives the oppressed classes in the highest degree. The idea of equality, which is itself a reflection of the relations of commodity production, is transformed by the bourgeoisie, under the pretext of the absolute equality of the human person, into a tool in the struggle against the abolition of classes. The true significance of the demand of equality lies only in the demand for the abolition of classes.

2. As the conscious expression of the proletarian class struggle to throw off the yoke of the bourgeoisie, and in accordance with its main task, which is the fight against bourgeois democracy and the unmasking of its lies and hypocrisy, the Communist Party should not place the main emphasis in the national question on abstract and formal principles, but in the first place on an exact evaluation of the historically given and above all economic milieu. Secondly it should emphasise the explicit separation of the interests of the oppressed classes, of the toilers, of the exploited, from the general concept of the national interest, which means the interests of the ruling class. Thirdly it must emphasise the equally clear division of the oppressed, dependent nations which do not enjoy equal rights from the oppressing, exploiting, privileged nations, as a counter to the bourgeois democratic lie which covers over the colonial and financial enslavement of the vast majority of the world’s total population, by a tiny minority of the richest and most advanced capitalist countries, that is characteristic of the epoch of finance capital and imperialism.

3. The imperialist war of 1914 has shown all the enslaved nations and oppressed classes throughout the world with particular clarity the mendacity of bourgeois-democratic phraseology. justified on both sides by phraseology about peoples’ liberation and the right of nations to self determination, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and Bucharest on the one side and the Treaty of Versailles and St. Germain on the other have shown that the victorious bourgeoisie determines even ‘national’ frontiers to suit its economic interests. Even ‘national’ frontiers are merely objects of trade for the bourgeoisie. The so-called ‘League of Nations’ is merely the insurance policy by which the victors in this war mutually guarantee their booty. The strivings to re-establish national unity, for ‘reunification with ceded territories’ are for the bourgeoisie nothing other than the attempts by the vanquished to gather strength for new wars. The reunification of nations that have been artificially torn apart also corresponds to the interests of the proletariat. The proletariat can however only achieve real national freedom and unity by the path of revolutionary struggle and over the body of the defeated bourgeoisie. The League of Nations and the whole post-war policy of the imperialist states reveal this truth even more clearly and sharply, everywhere strengthen the revolutionary fight not only of the proletariat of the advanced countries but also of the toiling masses of the colonies and the dependent countries, and hasten the collapse of petty-bourgeois illusions in the possibility of peaceful coexistence and the equality of nations under capitalism.

4. From the principles set forth it follows that the whole policy of the Communist International on the national and colonial question must be based mainly on the union of the workers and toiling masses of all nations and countries in the common revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of the landlords and of the bourgeoisie. For only such a union can secure victory over capitalism, without which the destruction of national oppression and inequality is impossible.

5. The international political situation has now placed the dictatorship of the proletariat on the order of the day, and all the events in international politics are concentrated inevitably around one single central point, around the struggle of the international bourgeoisie against the Russian Soviet Republic. The latter rallies around itself, on the one hand, the soviet movements of the vanguard of the working class in every country and, on the other hand, all the national liberation movements of the colonies and the oppressed nationalities who have been convinced by bitter experience that for them there is no salvation outside an alliance with the revolutionary proletariat and the victory of soviet power over world imperialism.

6. Consequently it is impermissible today to limit oneself to mere recognition or proclamation of sympathy with the toilers of various nations, but it is necessary to pursue a policy of bringing about the closest possible alliance between all the national and colonial liberation movements with Soviet Russia. The forms of this alliance will be determined by the stage of development of the communist movement among the proletariat of every country, or of the revolutionary liberation movement in the backward countries and among the backward nationalities.

7. Federation is a transitional form on the way to the complete unification of the toilers of all nations. Federation has already showed its expediency in practice, not only in the relations between the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic and the other Soviet Republics (the Hungarian, Finnish and Latvian in the past, those of Aserbaijan and the Ukraine at present), but also within the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, even in relation to nationalities who possessed neither political existence nor self-government (for example the Bashkir and Tartar Republics in the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, which were set up in 1919 and 1920).

8. The task of the Communist International in this respect consists not only in the further development of this federation based on the soviet order and the soviet movement, but also in its study and the testing of our experiences with it. Recognising that Federation is a form in the transition to complete unification, we must strive for an ever closer federal link. What must be taken into consideration is first the impossibility for the Soviet Republics, surrounded as they are by the militarily significantly stronger imperialist states of the whole world, of continuing to exist without closer links with other Soviet Republics; secondly the necessity of a close economic alliance between the Soviet Republics, without which it is impossible to restore the productive forces destroyed by capitalism and assure the welfare of the toilers; and thirdly the efforts to create a unified world economy according to a common plan regulated by the proletariat of all nations. This tendency has already emerged quite openly under capitalism and insistently seeks its further development and completion under socialism.

9. In the sphere of relations within states the national policy of the Communist International cannot confine itself to the bare formal recognition of the equality of nations, expressed only in words and entailing no practical obligations, to which the bourgeois democracies confine themselves, even those that call themselves ‘socialist’.

It is not sufficient for the Communist Parties to expose unflinchingly in their propaganda and agitation both on the parliamentary tribune and elsewhere the continually repeated offences in every capitalist state, in spite of all the ‘democratic’ constitutions, against the equality of nations and the guaranteed rights of national minorities. It is also necessary first to clarify constantly the point that only the soviet order is capable of assuring nations true equality by uniting first the proletariat and then the whole mass of the toilers in the fight against the bourgeoisie, and secondly to give direct support to the revolutionary movements in dependent nations and those deprived of their rights, through the Communist Parties of the countries in question.

Without the last particularly important condition the struggle against the oppression of the dependent nations and the colonies and the recognition of their right to a separate political existence remains the kind of mendacious hypocrisy that we see in the parties of the Second International.

10. Recognising internationalism in words alone and watering it down in practice with petty-bourgeois nationalism and pacifism is a common phenomenon not only among the parties of the Second International but also among those that have left the International. This phenomenon is frequently seen even in those parties that now call themselves Communist. The fight against this evil, against the most deeply-rooted petty-bourgeois nationalist prejudices, which appear in every possible form such as racial hatred, the baiting of minorities and anti-semitism, must be brought all the more into the foreground the more burning becomes the question of transforming the dictatorship of the proletariat from a national dictatorship (i.e. a dictatorship existing only in one country and incapable of pursuing an independent international policy) into an international dictatorship of the proletariat in at least a few advanced countries which is capable of exercising a decisive influence on international politics). What petty-bourgeois nationalism means by internationalism is the mere recognition of the equality of nations (irrespective of the fact that such recognition is granted in words alone) which leaves national egoism untouched. Proletarian internationalism on the other hand demands: 1) the subordination of the interests of the proletarian struggle of the one country to the interests of this struggle on a world scale, and 2) the ability and the readiness on the part of the nation that carries out its victory over the bourgeoisie to make the greatest national sacrifice in order to overthrow international capitalism.

Therefore the first and most important task in those countries that are already completely capitalist and have workers’ parties that really do represent a vanguard of the proletariat, is to combat the petty-bourgeois pacifist distortions of the conceptions and policies of internationalism.

11. In relation to those states that have a more backward, predominantly feudal, patriarchal or peasant patriarchal character, special attention must be paid to the following points:

a) All Communist Parties must support the revolutionary liberation movements in these countries by their deeds. The form the support should take must be discussed with the Communist Party of the country in question, should such a party exist. This obligation to offer active assistance affects – in the first place the workers of those countries on which the backward countries are in a position of colonial or financial dependence.

b) An unconditional struggle must be carried out against the reactionary and medieval influence of the clergy, the Christian missions and similar elements.

c) A struggle is necessary against Panislamism, the Panasiatic movement and similar currents which try to tie the liberation struggle against European and American imperialism to the strengthening of the power of Turkish and Japanese imperialism, the nobility, the big landlords, the clergy, etc.

d) Support for the peasant movement in the backward countries against the landowners and every form and remnant of feudalism is particularly necessary. What must be striven for above all is to give the peasant movement as revolutionary a character as possible and wherever possible to organise the peasants and all victims of exploitation in soviets and thus bring about as close a link as possible between the Western European communist proletariat and the revolutionary movement of peasants in the East, in the colonies and in the backward countries.

e) A determined fight is necessary against the attempt to put a communist cloak around revolutionary liberation movements that are not really communist in the backward countries. The Communist International has the duty to support the revolutionary movement in the colonies only for the purpose of gathering the components of the future proletarian parties – communist in fact and not just in name in all the backward countries and training them to be conscious of their special tasks, the special tasks, that is to say, of fighting against the bourgeois-democratic tendencies within their own nation. The Communist International should accompany the revolutionary movement in the colonies and the backward countries for part of the way, should even make an alliance with it; it may not, however, fuse with it, but must unconditionally maintain the independent character of the proletarian movement, be it only in embryo.

f) It is necessary continually to lay bare and to explain among the broadest masses of all, but in particular of the backward, countries the deception committed by the imperialist powers with the help of the privileged classes in the oppressed countries when, under the mask of politically independent states, they bring into being state structures that are economically, financially and militarily completely dependent on them. The Zionists’ Palestine affair can be characterised as a gross example of the deception of the working classes of that oppressed nation by Entente imperialism and the bourgeoisie of the country in question pooling their efforts (in the same way that Zionism in general actually delivers the Arab working population of Palestine, where Jewish workers only form a minority, to exploitation by England, under the cloak of the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine). In today’s economic conditions there is no salvation for the weak and dependent nations outside of an alliance with Soviet Republics.

12. The centuries of enslavement that the weak and colonial nationalities have suffered at the hands of the great imperialist powers has left in the toiling masses of the enslaved countries not only a feeling of combativity, but also a feeling of mistrust towards the nations that have exploited them in general, including the proletariat of those nations. The base betrayal of socialism by the majority of the official leaders of that Proletariat between 1914 and 1919, when the social patriots masked the defence of ‘their’ bourgeoisie’s ‘rights’ to enslave and plunder the financially dependent countries under ‘defence of the Fatherland’ – this betrayal could only strengthen that completely justified mistrust. Since this mistrust and national prejudices can only be rooted out after the destruction of imperialism in the advanced countries and the radical transformation of the whole basis of economic life in the backward countries, the removal of these prejudices will only be able to proceed very slowly. This means that the class conscious communist proletariat of every country has the duty of giving special care and attention to national feelings, in themselves outdated, in those long-enslaved countries and nationalities, and at the same time the obligation to make concessions in order to overcome this mistrust and these prejudices all the more rapidly. Without the voluntary alliance of the proletariat and with them the toiling masses of every country and nation in the world united as one, the victory over capitalism cannot be drawn to a completely successful conclusion.

The Congress proceeds to the vote. The Theses are unanimously accepted with 3 abstentions. Applause.

Zinoviev: All outstanding questions will be referred to the Commission. If the Commission is unanimous in its decisions they are to be reported to the Congress, otherwise they will have to be submitted to the decision of the Congress. I will put this motion to the vote. [The motion is carried.]

Zinoviev: There will be a full session tomorrow at 11 o'clock. The question of the conditions of entry into the Communist International will be up for discussion. This discussion must be speeded up as the French delegation will leave Moscow tomorrow.

The session is closed at 5 o'clock.

 

Sixth Session
July 29





Serrati opens the session. The discussion is on the conditions for entry into the Communist International. Zinoviev gives the report.



Zinoviev: We come now to one of the most important questions on the agenda, the question that is to decide what we, the Communist International, actually are and what we want to be.

First of all a short formal report on the work of the Commission. The Commission was, as you know, extended to include the representatives of the USPD and of the Socialist Party of France. Both delegations participated in the meetings and took an active part in the discussions. Much has been changed in the Theses but the main content remains as it was. We will of course present them to you with the changes, and you will have the opportunity to judge them for yourselves. In those cases where we were able to take the advice of the comrades in question into account, we have of course met them half way and accepted it. Paragraph 2 of the French edition is missing in the German edition. It reads:

‘Every organisation that wishes to affiliate to the Communist International must, in a regular and planned manner, remove all reformists and centrists from all posts of any responsibility in the labour movement (party organisations, editorial boards, trades unions, parliamentary factions, co-operatives and local government) and replace them with reliable communists, without baulking at the fact that, especially at first, ordinary workers from the masses will replace “experienced” opportunists.’

Then an important amendment has been made in the 7th Thesis, which previously read:

‘The Communist International will not tolerate notorious reformists like Turati, Modigliani and others having the right to pass as members of the Communist International.’

The Commission did not think it right merely to name Italian opportunists, for we are after all a Communist International, and we must therefore also brand reformists of other countries for what they are. It therefore decided to name at least one of these people from every country. Instead of ‘Turati, Modigliani and others,’ the list therefore reads ‘Turati, Modigliani, Kautsky, Hilferding, Longuet, MacDonald, Hillquit and others.’ [Interjection: ‘Grimm’.] The list is incomplete, I must agree. Perhaps the Congress can complete it.

Then paragraphs 18 and 19 have been added. They read:

‘Paragraph 18. All the leading press organs of the parties of every country have an obligation to reprint all the important official documents of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.

‘Paragraph 19. All parties that belong to the Communist International or have applied to join must call a special congress to check all these conditions as soon as possible and at the latest four months after the Second Congress of the Communist International. In doing this, the Central Committees must make sure that the local organisations are acquainted with the decisions of the Second Congress.’

Comrade Lenin then moved a personal motion.

This motion was discussed in the Commission and adopted by five votes to three with two abstentions. I must state however on behalf of the Russian delegation that we are inclined to withdraw it in its previous form and only to express it as a wish, not as a condition and a directive. We are of the opinion that it is sufficient for the Congress to express such a wish.

Then some amendments of a stylistic nature were undertaken, particularly in the part where we talk of legal and illegal work. These will be laid before you in good time.

I come now to the reasons for these Theses. Page 79 previously read: ‘Under certain circumstances the Communist International can be threatened by the danger of being watered down by inconstant and half-hearted elements which have still not finally cast aside the ideology of the Second International.’

The Commission changed that and decided to be much more categorical here. It decided to say not ‘under certain circumstances’ but ‘communism now runs the danger of being watered down’, and it was right to do so. It really is correct that the Communist International already runs the danger of being watered down by parties that until quite recently belonged to the Second International and come to us under the pressure of the masses – come to us out of necessity. They cannot lay aside the old Adam of their bourgeois and petty-bourgeois background so easily, even if they wanted to. When we held our founding Congress we were also threatened with a number of dangers. The danger however of being watered down and having to take in too many diverse elements did not exist then. Fifteen months ago we were still a small group that people tried to laugh off by saying: ‘Your whole Communist International can be seated on ten chairs; it has no influence. The big old parties are staying in the Second International.’ Now things are different. Now the old parties want to join the Communist International. To the extent that the masses of workers have developed towards communism we must accept them. We must not however forget that they come to us with all the old baggage, that is to say with the old leadership, which waged an obstinate fight against communism during and also after the war.

What was the Communist International when it was founded in March 1919? At that time it was nothing more than a propaganda society. That is what it has remained during the whole year of its existence. That is no small thing, to be a propaganda society on a world scale at a time when the working class is seeking a path after the terrible, destructive war Europe has been through. But I must say openly that at that time it was only a propaganda society organised on a large scale that tried to take the ideas of communism to the working class. Now we want to become something greater and something different. Now we do not want to be a propaganda society, now we want to become a fighting organisation of the international proletariat. We want to organise ourselves as a fighting organisation that not only propagates communism but also wants to turn it into deeds, and to create an international organisation for the purpose.

I have just read an article by Paul Louis in which he states that the First International collapsed because it could not prevent the war of 1870-1871. The same is supposed to have happened with the Second International. The World War broke out, it could not be prevented, and that was why it collapsed. The First International is supposed to have been in the same position in its day as the Second International is today.

That is no less a social-patriotic lie for the fact that it is probably only half-conscious. The First International tried to prevent the war. It fought, and fell in struggle. The Second International tried to avoid this struggle and did avoid it. The First International fell heroically; its best fighters were murdered during the Paris Commune in the fight against the bourgeoisie. The Second International collapsed shamefully. We must say that loud and clear to the working class; that is why we must brand this comparison for what it is, for it tends to support social patriotism and Kautskyism.

The First International was a strictly centralised organisation. It even tried to lead every big economic strike from a central point. And to a certain extent it succeeded in doing that because the movement was still young and weak. Today we cannot have such a centre that can directly lead every big economic strike. We now have economic strikes day by day, hour by hour, and we do not even know that they have taken place. There can be no question of such a centre as far as we are concerned, precisely because the movement has grown so enormous.

The Second International was not a central body. At the most it was a point of concentration. The First and the Second Internationals were a sort of thesis and antithesis. Now that we can set conditions for new relations we come to the synthesis in the social sense. We must recognise that clearly if we want to discuss the conditions for entry.

A large number of leading comrades who until recently still belonged to the Second International are of the opinion that membership of the Communist International will not place any great obligations upon them at all. I have a press-cutting from the Berner Tagwacht (Robert Grimm’s paper) which contains an article by Grimm. He declares that the Second International and its Executive was merely a letter-box. Quite correct. But what does the author of this article propose to the Communist International? The Communist International must, indeed, become something different. It must organise ‘big actions’ for different countries, that is to say it must arrange to form an information service, it must make arrangements so that ‘parliamentary action’ can be ‘synchronised’. Well you can see that it amounts to the same thing. A letter-box that will be a little deeper and more capacious, but still a letter-box.

We need an information service; I have no objection to that. Our information service is very bad, we must organise it better. In relation to parliamentary action too it would be good if we could synchronise it in the various countries and for example all brand the League of Nations as a robber band at the same time, or formulate a motion against the reformists. But that is very far from being a fighting organisation on a world-wide scale. Even financial support is not the most important thing now. The conception of the Communist International held by Grimm and his co-thinkers is basically exactly the same as that of the Second International: a letter box, bigger and better equipped, and painted red. That the Communist International must never become!

I have also read some remarks by various ‘left’ reformists, like for example Claude Trèves, in the French comrades’ Revue. Trèves is in favour of immediate entry into the Communist International, but on condition that nobody is tied down and no political slogans are issued for the individual countries. What they mean is they want to join immediately, but only without tying themselves down and with a degree of ‘autonomy’ that permits these people to carry on in the way they have up until now. Mr. Modigliani, a self-appointed Italian socialist, expressed this most crudely. Formally speaking he is now a member of the Communist International, but he is no comrade of ours. Recently he was in Paris and he tried to persuade Longuet to join the Communist International with the following arguments: ‘Why not join the Communist International? It does not place us under any obligation. All that has to be done is to send the Executive a postcard once a fortnight. That is all. Why do we not do this?’

Those who know him and his opportunist cynicism will recognise the whole Modigliani in these words. These gentlemen from the camp of the reformists think that they can come into the Communist International as if it were a public house. Our whole past, our short but significant fifteen months of past history, has shown every serious politician that there is no room in the Communist International for people who come and continue to do just as they please. We want to build an international of deeds. We are not of the same opinion as Kautsky that the International is merely an ‘instrument of peace’. No, it is to be an instrument of struggle, during peacetime, during the insurrection, before and after the insurrection, a rallying point, a fighting organisation of that part of the international proletariat that is conscious of its goal and wants to fight for its goal.

The question is often posed as if there was some sort of contradiction between the ‘West’ and the ‘East’. The attempt has been made to din into the workers that the Communist International is an organisation of the working class of the East, and that that of the West stands aloof from it. The French leaders and the literati of the USPD have tried to present the matter thus: ‘We (the centrists) do not wish to join the Communist International immediately on our own, but we must first bring the whole working class of the West in with us.’ There is another contradiction, the contradiction between communism and reformism, between social patriotism and communism; but the contradiction between East and West has been plucked out of thin air. We have the same division of the movement into three in every country: 1) an outright opportunist right wing, which is now the main support of the bourgeoisie, 2) a more or less pronounced middle section, the swamp, the centre, which is also a support of the bourgeoisie, 3) a left wing which is more or less clearly communist or at least tends towards communism. It is clear that the western working class, let us say for example in Britain, knows quite well what is happening in Moscow. It knows what the Soviet government means. Every demonstration shows that the British working class is clear on this question. It is high time to abolish from the world the legend about the abyss between ‘East’ and ‘West’ and to stop preaching to the German working class that they should wait for the ‘West’.

Above all, we should not forget the lessons of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. The Hungarian comrade has already spoken about the role of the party on this question. It is a question of great historical importance. Remember how it was. The Communist Party of Hungary made it very easy for the Social Democrats to be affiliated. It was done in a hand’s turn. When we were discussing the affiliation in the Commission, some of the Hungarian comrades said that they felt that many parties from the Second International would now accept our conditions as easily as was the case in the Hungarian Soviet Republic.

The Hungarian party called itself ‘Socialist-Communist’. At first it seemed simply to be an argument about the name. The Hungarians were in a struggle and we did not want to stab them in the back. Our Executive was guilty of weakness and agreed to the fusion of the parties. We told each other that it did not matter what they called themselves but it turned out later that it was a question of historical importance and the fact that the communists unfortunately took the greater part of the old social democrats into their own house, and that these gentlemen went over to the bourgeoisie at the decisive hour, perhaps determined fifty per cent of the development of the Soviet Republic in Hungary.

Some of our Italian comrades said that at the next congress they would propose to call their party, which is now called Socialist, Socialist-Communist also. But let us not forget the Hungarian example. This is not a question of verbal hair-splitting but of whether we can have confidence in these old socialist gentlemen who do not want to break with the old ideology and would like to patch it up. This lesson has cost the working class of Hungary and of the whole world enough sacrifice in order to know that if you give reformism a little finger it will take your whole hand and later your head and in the end it will destroy you completely.

The question is that we must have an unambiguously communist International. We must fight for communism; it will not be won in a month but only after many struggles through an organisation that is as centralised as possible and has clear and definite tactics. We will show the door to the gentlemen who think that a post-card is enough before they can come.

There is a real danger that the Communist International will become the fashion once the Second International has shamefully collapsed. Today the Second International is only a stinking swamp, a corpse that is rotting. It goes without saying that the parts are splitting off and trying to turn the Communist International into the same thing but with slightly different words. Many of them only do it half-consciously but objectively it is so.

This danger exists and we must take quite decisive steps against it. Today I received an article from the Freiheit of July 13. It is entitled ‘The Problem of the International’. The Freiheit is of the opinion that if we stand by our open letter to the USPD of February 5, 1920 (which I signed) an agreement is impossible.

[On February 5, 1920, the Executive Committee of the Comintern sent a letter to the USPD, drafted by Lenin and Zinoviev. Perhaps because it had been delayed by Levi for his own reasons, the letter did not reach the USPD leadership until April. While it expressed communist criticism of the USPD in the sharpest way, and condemned the attempts to form a middle of the road ‘International’, the letter ended with a call for negotiations with the Third International, which eventually led to the USPD delegation coming to Moscow.]

Now I can state quite decisively and quite officially, and I hope the Congress will agree with me, that by and large we will set today the same conditions that we set in the letter of February 5, and I can say quite categorically that we reject any collaboration with the leaders of the right wing such as Kautsky, Hilferding and Longuet. The French tell us that Longuet may now be of a different opinion, that he may change his mind. If he agrees with us now so much the better; we will greet him if he is being honest and serious. I say the same thing to the German comrades who will perhaps change.

We declare however quite officially that we do not wish to collaborate with this right wing and its leaders. I should also like to declare, not as the reporter from the Commission, but as the representative of the Russian delegation, that should the case occur that our Italian or other comrades say that they demand a fusion with these right-wing elements, then our party would sooner be prepared to remain completely alone than to fuse with such elements. which we regard as bourgeois elements. I should like to make this statement on behalf of our party.

I should like to consider concretely the situation in the parties that want to affiliate to the Communist International and are courting it as well as the position in those parties that already belong to it. I shall try to do this separately country by country.

First of ail then the parties that did not belong to us previously but now wish to do so. I have gathered extensive material on the French party. I cannot place it all before you; I shall only show the most important. I should like to state in advance that we do not wish to turn anybody’s past remarks into a noose around his neck. It is obvious that anybody can make a mistake and later repent. We only want to quote matters of principle and confine ourselves to the most important points.

There can be no doubt at all as to the personal uprightness of Cachin. Everybody who knows his past knows that he has erred, but that he is an upright fighter. I have his article of January 7, 1920 on the League of Nations. In January he was still calling Wilson the ‘last great bourgeois of our times’. He further stated that ‘American democracy’ had done everything in its power to prevent what had happened. It goes without saying that for a communist that is an explicitly social pacifist remark. And social pacifism is not socialism. That is the spirit of the dead leader, Jaurès, who unfortunately was also only a social pacifist. We must say that, for all the respect we have for his great merits. His tradition lives on in France and other countries. This pacifism and Wilsonism is a very obstinate phenomenon which even many communists are not spared. We had the following example at our previous Congress: Fritz Platten, a left comrade from Switzerland brought a printed shorthand report of a speech he had made in parliament in which he stated that Wilson was, after all, an honourable man who would like to solve the problems of the war peacefully.

Thus even our own people, professed communists, are still often led into temptation by this social pacifism, because great masters have trained us in it for decades. We have not fought against it sufficiently. We must put an end to it and tell our French friends quite clearly: it is very much easier to accept the formal conditions for entry into the Communist International than it is to get a real grip on social pacifism. Social patriotism is a dangerous bourgeois ideology that impedes us in our fight. You can adopt 18 or even 18,000 conditions, but if you stay a social pacifist you are simply not a communist and you do not belong in the Communist International. You must therefore honestly state whether you are finally willing to finish with it or not.

I have a few more things to say about the French comrades. There is an article by Frossard on relations with the Communist International which was written on February 13, 1920. In it Frossard declares: ‘as far as our party’s policies are concerned it is very probable that even after entry into the Communist International they will remain the same. The elections are coming and the Communist International can on no account stop us from forming pacts with other parties.’

So you see, he is of the opinion that the Communist International is a nice public house where the representatives of different countries sing the Internationale and compliment each other. Then they all disperse and carry on with the old practice. We will never tolerate this damnable practice of the Second International.

I shall make do with these quotations on the French comrades’ practice although I could quote from a whole number of other sources. There is with reference to the lead articles in the Humanité a kind of proportional system, as Cachin and Frossard explained to me. The centrists are allowed 8 lead articles in the week, the Lefts 4 and Renaudel and Co. 2 or 3. You understand that such a system is quite impossible. It is a kind of chemical mixture: 8 drops of distilled water, 3 drops of poison and then, to counteract the poison, 3 drops of milk. [Applause.] This cannot go on. This practice can perhaps be explained from the history of the French movement: but this old tradition must simply be cancelled. Frossard declared before his departure from Paris: ‘I would gladly go to Moscow without Renaudel. We will have a difficult discussion with the Russian comrades. It is better if he stays at home.’ But in the letter in question Mr. Renaudel is called ‘our friend’ by Frossard. We must abolish these French manners. They are not even entirely French. Modigliani also writes ‘my friend’ to

Serrati, and Serrati to Prampolini. This French and Italian method cannot be our method. I hope that you will give the Executive the task of demanding a monthly report from each party so that it has a mirror in which it can see what is happening.

I come now to the German Independents.

I shall do no more than to quote to you some extracts from the last official answer from the USPD Central Committee that was brought to us by the USPD representatives. Their first reproof reads:

‘It is peculiar that the Executive Committee of the Communist International, which, if only in consideration of its position, should be conscious of the duty to treat the workers’ organisations that enter into negotiations with it with all due loyalty, bases its reply to us on the thesis that “the workers who belong to the USPD have a very different temper from ‘the right wing of their leaders’,” a sentence that runs like a red thread through the whole reply.’

It is true that this sentence runs like a red thread through the whole of our declaration of principles. If at the present moment of comparative political calm some 10,000 members of the USPD find themselves in gaol, then I have full respect for these comrades. I say that they are serious fighters and serious workers in addition. We must try to get together with these workers. That does not however contradict my statement that there exists a right wing led by Kautsky, Hilferding and Ströbel. Crispien was at Lucerne with Hilferding and did not want to leave the Second International. There is a right wing.

People say to us: ‘Who bothers about Kautsky now? Nobody.’ To that I reply: That is not true. Kautskyism is an international phenomenon, and many of the leaders of the USPD centre who think that they have freed themselves from Kautsky are in fact repeating the policies that Kautsky carried out. The best we could do was to take into account that there are workers in the ranks of the USPD who seriously fight and stand in contradiction to the right wing leadership who have sabotaged the revolutionary struggle and have until now given the best service to the bourgeoisie. It is said that there are no right-wing leaders in Germany. It is disloyal on the part of the Executive, we are told, to undertake such a partition into left- and right-wing leaders. We should have the greatest loyalty towards our brothers in other countries who are really fighting against the bourgeoisie, bat loyalty towards people like Kautsky, Hilferding and Ströbel would be synonymous with treachery to the working class, and we shall not cultivate such loyalty. There is an abyss between Hilferding, who is able to negotiate in a comradely manner with high-ranking English officers, and us. The red thread that runs through our letter is precisely this difference between the workers who fight alongside us and the right-wing leaders who sabotage the struggle. The USPD Central Committee goes on: ‘What basis the reproof is supposed to have that the “right-wing leaders” of the USPD are “orientated towards the Entente” is a complete mystery to us. Previously it has been mainly the right-wing parties that have reproached us with this. Last year particularly, when we had to wage a fight for the signature of the treaty against all the nationalist agitation and military machinations, we were reproached, especially by the reactionary bourgeois parties, with being “agents of the Entente governments”. The further course of events fully justified our attitude, just as previously it had proved that the attitude on the peace question of the Russian Communists, who as we know were reproached with having allied themselves with German Imperial militarism as a result of that attitude, was dictated by harsh necessity.’

When we in Russia were faced with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the situation was very clear. The working class had the power in its hands in our country. It was starving, but it fought on. German imperialism got a grip on us and the German working class was too weak to come to our assistance. We said to ourselves that, in order to win a breathing space – great emphasis was laid on this at the time – in order to gain time, we would have to reach a temporary pact with these robbers. But what was the situation in Germany in 1918-1919? Power was in the hands of the bourgeoisie, or in the hands of Scheidemann, which amounts to the same thing. What happened in Germany was not the same as what happened in Russia. The sly fox Scheidemann said: ‘I shall wash my hands in innocence; I am against the signing of the Versailles Treaty’. He carried out the most artful deception of the heroic German working class. It was put about that Scheidemann was against the Versailles Treaty. Then along came the USPD and set to work to help Scheidemann. It shouted in every key: ‘Peace must be signed!’ And now you say that the position in Germany was the same as the position in Russia at the time of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk! You Germans overlooked the slight difference that in Russia the working class was in power and the bourgeoisie was on the ground, while in Germany the bourgeoisie was in power and the working class, sold out a thousand times over, was on the ground.

Where does this ‘slight’ confusion come from? It comes from the fact that in March 1919 many right-wing leaders of the USPD pictured the situation like this: ‘Scheidemann or us, it makes no great difference. [Applause.] We are both part of the same working class. It is the same old Social Democracy.’ It was this unconscious state of mind within the USPD that led to the fact that a claim of such crying injustice could be made and that a situation where the working class was in power could be confused with a situation where the bourgeoisie was in power, where the Hindenburgs and the Scheidemanns were grinding the working class under their boots and oppressing them. We are often told: ‘We have no great differences with you. Kautsky has no great significance in our party.’ Does not the whole spirit of Kautsky speak in this letter that was brought to us by the delegates of the USPD?

‘As it is with the question of the dictatorship, so it is with the question of terror and the civil war. Here too the specifically Russian form of the dictatorship has been elevated to the level of a principle for the international proletariat. In this, the form stifles the content and renders the course of the revolution more difficult by failing to give sufficient consideration to the conditions which, where there is a different sociological content, could also make a different form of the revolution necessary. In examining the problem of force we must take into account the fact that we must distinguish between force and terror. Unable as the dictatorship of the proletariat is, like any other dictatorship, even if it cloaks itself in a democratic robe, to renounce the use of force, the extent of its use still depends on the resistance of the counter-revolution. Terrorism as a political method means setting up a reign of terror, means the use of state force even against the innocent, in order to break any intended resistance by intimidation and deterrence. It must be said in opposition that international Social Democracy has rejected such terror on the grounds not only of humanity and justice but also of expedience. If it can be said of force that it is only the midwife of every old society that is pregnant with the new, and that it cannot bring the new society into the light of day until it has ripened in the womb of the old, then we must say of terror and history has proved this one hundred fold – that its application does not express the strength of a movement but much rather its inner weakness. Our party is therefore in harmony with the teachings of Marxism and the experiences of history when it rejects the glorification of terror. The fact that we stand by this principle does not signify, as the reply of the Executive Committee reproaches us, the “demoralization of the revolutionary consciousness of the workers”. It signifies much rather the securing the lasting interests of socialism.’

This is written after the January uprising in Berlin, after the bourgeoisie has robbed the working class of its most valuable possessions.

[January uprising in Berlin – sparked off when on 4 January the government sacked the Berlin police chief, the Independent Social-Democrat Emil Eichhorn. A general strike was called and for a few days the workers were masters of the streets. However, without clear leadership or preparation for an insurrection the movement was soon crushed by the army and in the repression which followed Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were hunted down and murdered.]

This is written after everything that we know about the civil war in Russia, Finland, Georgia, Hungary and so forth! A petty-bourgeois machine has written this, and not the heart of a revolutionary! I think that ‘the lasting interests of the bourgeoisie’ should have been written in place of ‘the lasting interests of socialism’. This statement stands foursquare on the basis of Kautskyism. If Kautsky, as Dittmann and Crispien declared here, is no longer of any importance, then why have they copied in this reply all the platitudes, stupidities and counter-revolutionary rubbish that Kautsky ever scribbled?

When we asked the left-wing USPD representatives here in Moscow whether they had signed this, they were not in a position to say that they had not signed it. They said that they had had no time, that it had been done ‘at a gallop’. These are completely non-political reasons. That such questions should be settled at a gallop at the USPD headquarters is bad in itself. We can see how the dead Kautsky is dragging the living Däumig deep into the water by the hair, instead of the active Däumig shoving old Kautsky to one side with all his counter-revolutionary filth.

So much for the USPD.

Let us proceed! We must set the same standard whether a party already belongs to us or not. The fact that it already belongs to us should not free it from criticism. We must make criticisms and say what is.

I come next to the Italian Party. We have always emphasised, and we emphasise now: It is one of the best of the parties that left the Second International. The Italian working class is a heroic working class which we all love because it is serious about the revolution and communism. However, we cannot, unfortunately, say the same thing about its leaders. ‘You are always talking about Turati’, Comrade Serrati tells us, ‘it becomes boring’. Yes, Comrade Serrati, we will not cease so long as people like Turati are still our members. At the moment, in fact, Turati is a member of the Communist International because he is a member of the Italian Party. Is that not a scandal? If we had a card for every member of the Communist International, Turati and Modigliani too would have membership cards of the Communist International. And these people after all are carrying out counter-revolutionary propaganda in Italy. In the last few days Turati has stood up in the Italian parliament and made the kind of big speech of which he has already made a few in his life. Turati made the following speech: ‘You bourgeois gentlemen see that you are in a difficult position, just like the working class. So we should help each other. In the agrarian question, in the housing question and in the question of food, I propose to you a consistently semi-bourgeois programme.’ The Avanti does not report how the Italian bourgeoisie reacted to that. The Italian party has since then instituted legal action against Turati. When you have such conditions within the party nobody can say that it is a serious party. If it was, it would have better things to do than instituting legal action against people who have been saying the same thing for thirty years because they are consistent reformists.

I have at hand a collection of some 200 to 300 quotations on the Italian Party. I am not in a position to put them all forward. We will publish a red book on the Italians and other countries. Comrade Serrati will receive a copy of this book from me. A bouquet of sweet-smelling quotations, and he will enjoy this book thoroughly. When Turati was asked why he stayed in the Party he replied that this way he could exercise an influence on the working class. Turati has nothing to hide; he openly states that he belongs to the party because he can present himself as a reformist with the halo of a socialist, as a member of the Party in parliament and at meetings. He can tend his affairs bette r inside the party. Why should he go away? We advise our friends to pay attention to what Turati himself has said. These gentlemen should not be allowed to remain in our party and sabotage our fight. We have too many open enemies to allow our concealed enemies into our party.

After a speech made by Bombacci as the representative of the party at a chemical industry trades union conference, in front of a meeting of trades unionists from all over the country, Turati was the next speaker, and babbled his reformist rubbish. The Italian communist Bombacci reacted rather mildly. I ask: Why is Turati allowed to come into a meeting of trades unionists and make a reformist speech to the workers, to which Bombacci replies in a very mild way? As long as Turati is a party, member, Comrade Bombacci of course cannot say that he is our class enemy. We have better things to do than give these gentlemen the opportunity to propagate reformist views in our name in front of ordinary workers.

I come now to the Swedish Party. Comrade Höglund and the others who were with us at the foundation of the Communist International are unfortunately not here. In this matter too, however, we must say what is. Up to now the Swedish left has refused to call itself communist, and it is now clear that that was no accident. The comrades publish a theoretical journal that they call Zimmerwald. It seems they got no further than Zimmerwald. In this journal are printed articles by right-wing German Independents. And that too is no accident, because there are mutual sympathies. The most important thing is that there are out and out reformists in the Swedish left. I do not want to talk about Lindhagen, although he is still a member of the party. On March 12, 1920 he quite openly proposed that Sweden should join the League of Nations, and he carefully proposed 5 amendments to the statutes of the League of Nations.

The Party has, it is true, disavowed one of Mr. Lindhagen’s articles, but Lindhagen remains nonetheless in the Party and is thus formally speaking a member of the Communist International.

One of the Swedish Party’s members of Parliament, Einberg, declared in an article that raised the social-patriotic demand for disarmament that the War Office. could quite easily be wound up, that is to say with the agreement of the government. He then went on to say that he hoped that the right social democrats, that is to say, Branting, would largely support him on this question. There is further the well known member of parliament or leading party comrade, the Swede Ivar Vennerström, who made such approaches that Branting stated: ‘It looks as if the Left Social Democratic Party want to marry us.’ To that Höglund replied that he personally would not like to marry the ageing Branting. But it was declared in the Left’s party press that there were conditions under which such a match could be discussed.

We must recognise the services that the Swedish Left Social Democracy has rendered. It is a movement that arose out of the youth movement. We know that we have there a number of people who are really revolutionary. We must however tell them clearly that we must have a really communist party that will not discuss marriage with Branting and will have had to have thrown disarmament overboard long ago, and that it is not our job to improve the statutes of the League of Nations, but to bury the League of Nations.

The draft programme of the Danish Left states that the Party ascertains that the abolition of militarism raises the prospects of a bloodless revolution. Yes, certainly. Should bourgeois militarism be abolished, then we have a better prospect for a bloodless revolution. But the whole question is how we are to abolish militarism without shedding our own blood and that of the bourgeoisie.

I come now to the Norwegian Party. The party headquarters tolerates a right wing within the party. Scheflo stated in the Commission that part of their membership was anti-socialist. How does this happen? Because they accept entire trades unions in the party. This is no good. We can have good relations with the trades unions. We can form communist factions in the trades unions, but to accept entire trades unions with 10 per cent Christian Socialists and other anti-socialist elements is a mistake. We must draw our Norwegian Party’s attention to that.

The Yugoslav Party now calls itself a Communist Party. We have however read a whole series of reformist articles in our Yugoslav comrades’ central organ. The party opposes it, it is true. But these are conditions that nobody can or should tolerate. We must draw our Yugoslav Party’s attention to the fact that it is impossible to have out-and-out reformists in the party, to place the press at their disposal, and so forth. In everything else the Communist Party of Yugoslavia is splendid.

It is possible that other parties will also have something to tell us Russians. It goes without saying that every party that belongs to the Communist International must tell our Russian Party when it commits a sin. That is its international duty. We should regard ourselves as a single international party with its branches in every country, and every branch should have the right to ‘intervene’ and say what is. We have Communist Parties that are really Communist and form the nucleus of the Communist International. Unfortunately however we also have a number of parties that give the reformists the opportunity to deceive the working class and to steal from us part of the confidence the working class has in us. It is obvious: As a member of the Senate, Trèves daily robs us of part of the confidence of the masses, and Bombacci and Serrati are robbed of the confidence of the masses by Turati and Modigliani.

We have sections of big old parties that want to come to us. Part of the workers in these parties are for us, for the setting up of the dictatorship, and part is still hesitating. We do not propose to accept the French Party and the USPD immediately, but to give the Executive full authority to negotiate further and to examine whether the conditions will be fulfilled, to study the press from day to day and after some time to reach a decision. The French comrades have stated to us in the Commission that they are by and large in agreement with our conditions. The representatives of the USPD have stated more or less the same thing. We will do everything possible to make a rapprochement easier. The most important thing is to study carefully and conscientiously all the articles that are published and for the Congress to give us official authorisation to follow through on its behalf for a specific period the question of whether these conditions will be fulfilled. It is possible to accept 18,000 conditions and still remain a Kautskyite. What matter are deeds. We have put forward these conditions in order to have a standard so that we can have the opportunity of an objective examination of what the Congress wants. I hope in any case that the Congress will clarify things and give us a point of reference, so that every worker can clearly see what the Communist International wants. I can say one thing with complete certainty: whatever the attitude of the USPD headquarters, whatever the attitude of the leadership of the French Socialist Party, the hearts of the workers of every country still belong to us. They will belong to us more each day, because the last hour of the bourgeoisie and of the half bourgeois Second International has struck. The time for a real fight for socialism has come.

Sooner or later all workers will understand that. They will come to us over the heads of their vacillating leaders, and a real fighting organisation of the revolutionary working class will be formed.

Great and prolonged applause.





Balabanova: The following motion has been proposed: ‘The parties that belong to the Communist International are ordered to exclude from their ranks all members of the Freemasons as members of a petty-bourgeois organisation, that is to say that comrades belonging to the Communist International, particularly in the West, have no right to belong to the Freemasons.’ This motion was put by Comrade Serrati. The question will be discussed later. We put it forward here so that comrades know that it will be put forward for discussion here.

Radek: After the meeting of the Commission to negotiate on the conditions of entry into the Communist International, after the French and German comrades had expressed their agreement with these conditions, almost all of us who were in the Commission remembered the words that Béla Kun spoke after unification with the Hungarian Social Democracy. He said he had the impression that it had all been too easy. At that moment we too had that feeling, and none of us can get rid of it.

Those who have judged the French Party and USPD on the basis of more than a few articles in their press will understand why I cannot adopt the point of view that what is past is past, and why here, at this Congress, I would like to call to mind how we regard the development of the USPD. It is impossible for a party to change its character from one day to the next by signing a piece of paper, by signing conditions. We have to take two facts into account. The first fact is the lasting radicalisation of the German working class, a fact that urges and forces us and gives us the obligation to put out feelers towards the Independents and to see in them our comrades in struggle. After the first few months of the Ebert-Scheidemann government the Independent workers took up the struggle against this government. When I arrived in Germany, my first impression was that nine tenths of the working class were participating in the struggle against the government. In the struggles of January and March the Independent workers stood shoulder to shoulder with the communist workers and fought with them, where necessary with arms in hands. Wherever our comrades were in prison they were alongside Independent workers. At the same time, however, we can see that the majority of the USPD leaders, those leaders who, seen from the outside, appear to be the decisive factor in the party, were not only not a progressive factor in this development, but they were a factor that held it back, that they only went forwards because they were pushed by the actual working class, and that at every step forwards they tried to confuse the workers.

A few extracts from the USPD’s letter have already been quoted by Zinoviev. I should like to establish a few things as briefly as possible. The letter denies the fact that the USPD broke solidarity with Russia and that it shares responsibility for the breaking of diplomatic relations expressed in the expulsion of the Russian Embassy. It was the Scheidemann government under Prince Max that first brought about the breach. But the USPD was already in the government when the Russian mission was in Borissov under the muzzles of German machine guns, and despite the mission’s numerous telegrams and despite the negotiations with their leaders they did not move a finger. They said that Joffe would first of all have to return to Russia, that first of all it would have to be checked whether or not he had insulted His Majesty’s throne, and then a resumption of relations could be discussed. I need only quote the following. Here are the minutes of the session of the Council of People’s Commissars of November 19, 1918. In these minutes it says: ‘Continuation of the discussions on Germany’s relations with the Soviet Republic. Haase advises dilatory progress... Kautsky joins with Haase; the decision would have to be postponed. The Soviet Government would not last much longer, but would be finished in a few weeks...’

These are the official minutes of the sessions of the government, and these minutes are confirmed in the memoirs of an Independent, Barth, who sat in the government together with Dittmann and Haase. When we reproach the Independents with having collaborated in guiding the German revolution into Entente channels this is confirmed by the following fact: when the Soviet government, as a symbolic act, informed the then Peoples’ Commissars that it was sending two trainloads of corn, not that we were claiming that we could send two train-loads of corn every day, but that it was necessary to link the fate of the two peoples, an answer arrived from Haase in which he said that the American government had pledged itself to supply corn to Germany, that he was very grateful for the shipment, but that it should be used to relieve the hunger of the suffering people of Russia. As we stood by the telegraph and received this answer we could feel how the bonds that had continued to exist despite the criticisms of Zimmerwald and Stockholm were cut through and snapped. We were being given to understand: ‘You are starving; therefore we are setting our hopes on the mighty of the earth, on American capitalism.’

We will come together with the Independent workers of Germany, but at the same time there are things in the history of a workers’ party that cannot be forgotten. We want to have nothing to do with the leaders who, together with Haase, are responsible for the policies of November 1918. There are some things that a revolutionary does not do, however misled he may be, and one of those is a breach of solidarity with a working class that offers its help. If the USPD says that it is against the League of Nations, then we reply that to be against the League of Nations nowadays is nothing very special. After the Versailles Treaty, when Hilferding, Dittmann and Longuet met in Lucerne, they even proposed a revision of the Treaty. What does that mean? It means calling for the world revolution without giving up hope that Wilson, Lloyd George and Clémenceau will condescend to talk to you. At that time the character of the USPD emerged very clearly. We must not forget that, while the cannon were still thundering Noske’s mercy, the USPD adopted the fight for the dictatorship in its programme. And where the workers fought for the dictatorship the USPD placed itself at their head to confuse them. We have a duty to be careful and to say to the workers of the USPD: Always be prepared, always be careful, for in your party there are people in the leadership who can put the train on the wrong track at the decisive moment, who are capable of betraying your trust out of lack of revolutionary insight or lack of revolutionary will.

The question has been put: ‘Why did the comrades not go to the Communist International when they withdrew from the government and became a revolutionary party?’ I have before me the discussions at the national conference of the USPD on September 10, 1919 according to the September 11, 1919 issue of Freiheit. In these discussions Hilferding, of whom one cannot say that he died for the party, like Kautsky, for he is the spiritus rector, the guiding spirit of the party, said that on the question of affiliation to the Moscow International the fact must be taken into account that perhaps they were tying their skiff to a sinking ship; for Russian Bolshevism was the Communist International. At the very moment when the armies of the counter-revolution, especially those of Denikin and Kolchak, were waging their campaign against Soviet Russia, when it was clear to every worker who with his feelings, with his soul, stood on the side of the revolution that at the present hour it was necessary to rush to the assistance of Soviet Russia with every available means, at that very moment the man who leads the USPD stands up and says: ‘This ship is threatened by storms, let us for God’s sake not tie our skiff to it, we could go under.’

The Congress has not pledged itself to draw up a list of those comrades whose expulsion we demand. It has however pledged to demand of the workers that they shall not have as their leader a speculator on the revolution who dares to tell the German workers: ‘Do not join the Russian workers, for they are in danger’. We tell the German workers: ‘If you rely on the written conditions and leave people in the leadership who act like that in the moment of danger, then you are sold out and betrayed. We do not know when the hour of danger will strike but we know very well how these speculators on the revolution will act. However, we still count on the independence of the party. It must keep its own house clean. Clean your house, not with a broom, but with red-hot iron, for it is not simply a matter of expelling Hilferding from the party, but of driving the pettiness of spirit, the weakness of revolutionary spirit out of the party with red-hot iron.’ If the USPD does not do that the expulsion will only be a gesture and we will only have won dead souls for the Communist International.

I have the firm conviction that the workers of the USPD and the left wing will act differently from the way they have acted previously. We must say openly that it is not as if there was on the one hand the right wing of the USPD and on the other hand the masses tested in struggle. If until now the left wing has avoided fighting for its rights publicly, then this is because it counted on forcing the USPD right wing out of the party by some kind of manoeuvre. If you do not fight shoulder to shoulder with the Communists against the party’s past, which consists of calling for revolution and still not believing in it and in saying ‘now it’s here’, just like something that drops on your head – if you do not fight against this past your affiliation to the Communist International will be purely verbal. It is not a matter of Stöcker being theoretically in favour of communism or of Däumig writing articles on the dictatorship of the soviets, but of pursuing your own policies against the leaders when the leaders want to hold the party back. In the Commission the leaders have spoken unconditionally in favour of affiliation to the Communist International. However, Crispien stated in the second edition of his pamphlet ‘that the formation of the Communist International was a premature attempt’. And further on: ‘How easy the solution of the question of the Communist International seems to many people: “To Moscow! Let’s go to Moscow!” But this road does not lead to a solution, unless we want to commit suicide as a revolutionary socialist party.’ (p.36)

There are many living corpses in the International. Crispien is our guest, and we are very glad to see him alive here. The fact that he came here is a result of the pressure of the workers. Crispien further stated at the party conference: ‘The Muscovites themselves have closed the road to Moscow to us through their decisions and their basis against the Independents. On the basis of these decisions we could only get into the Kremlin by blindly subordinating ourselves to the communists and be absorbed into the inter national communist-syndicalist organisation.’ (Crispien in Die Internationale, p. 39). The USPD was forced to go to Moscow under pressure from the workers. It came to us, without any objections to our policies and tactics, after it had learnt that the French delegates had already been sent here. The workers should draw some conclusions from this and change the conditions they work under, for, with the USPD representatives, it is not a question of us, but of the revolutionary workers beating the leaders as bad leaders of the German working class. We see in the USPD a good revolutionary party as far as its worker masses are concerned. The task of the German workers is to carry this work to a conclusion and to turn the USPD into a revolutionary party that does not let its principles remain on paper but carries them out in practice every day.

Cachin: Comrades, I shall confine myself to reading to you the declaration signed by Comrade Frossard and myself. It reads:

Comrades, since Comrade Frossard and I were sent to you here for the specific and exclusive purpose of a mutual exchange of information, we can – as you will understand, comrades – only make a short statement in our own names.

We have read the Theses on the conditions of entry submitted to the competent Commission on behalf of the Executive Committee with the greatest attention and discussed them with many comrades who speak with authority. We have just heard Comrade Zinoviev’s remarks. We are not authorised to discuss them in detail. We shall therefore take from all these sources of information only the most important guiding thoughts. You demand that the parties that wish to affiliate to you should, in word and in deed, in their press and in their propaganda, renounce reformist and opportunist ideas. You wish them to show the nullity of these ideas, oppose their dissemination in every field and advance the necessity of revolutionary deeds in every form. We are in complete and total agreement with this.

These important demands will have practical consequences with which the parties that wish to affiliate to you will have to reckon.

In the first place every party member will have to make a choice and finally decide in favour of reformism or revolution. This is not a matter of individuals, and you are completely correct to insist on a thorough purge of the party. Under the present historical conditions those who still seek to collaborate with bourgeois society at a time when the decisive social fight is bursting out everywhere do not belong in the ranks of the party of the working class.

We are prepared to demand of all our comrades that they proceed in the trades unions and the party as true socialists. We are prepared to collaborate fraternally with all active revolutionaries in the syndicalist organisations who concede the necessity of political action.

Further, propaganda against the imperialist ideology and its adherents and supporters must be carried on with greater energy than ever.

For the last two years now our socialist group in parliament has voted against the approval of credits and against the budget in general. It has condemned in the most decisive terms any participation in the government. It has done that since the conclusion of peace. Should the World War break out again one day, then the present criminal imperialist policy of the French bourgeoisie will bear the main responsibility.

We will refuse to support this policy in the slightest, be it in the form of approving credits or of participating in ministries. We will be able to remember that, under conditions where national interests are confused with the interests of the plutocracy, the highest duty of the proletariat is to its own class.

The programme of our party must be examined and brought into harmony with the programme of the Communist International. Greater centralisation, strict control of parliamentary activity and of the press, strict discipline for all members – these seem to us to be the fundamental conditions for the kind of renewed action that the present time demands.

You call on us to support the Soviet Republic unconditionally in its struggle against the counter-revolution. We shall clarify to the workers with greater energy than before the necessity of refusing to transport munitions and equipment for the counter-revolution. We will agitate with every means at our disposal against intervention among the troops sent to fight the Soviet Republic.

Comrades, these are the statements that we are able to make within the narrow frame of reference of our mission. We are convinced that if our friend Longuet could be here he would, after some consideration, be of the same opinion as ourselves. We shall take your conditions back with us to France and faithfully lay them before our party with the whole literature of the Communist International. At the same time

we will wage a zealous campaign to depict the position of the Russian Revolution.

When all the sections of the party have been put in possession of the facts and have seriously discussed them, a Congress will, within a very few weeks, be held. Frossard and I will speak in favour of affiliation to the Communist International. Until then it would be superfluous to repeat our assurances and promises. We will therefore break finally with the past and proceed with determination to deeds, the judgement of which we will leave to the Communist International.

Lefebvre: Comrades, at the Strasbourg Congress the Socialist Party decided to make contact with several socialist parties in order, as the majority of the French Party expressed it, to reconstruct the International. A visit was also planned to the Communist International, and it seems that during this visit, Comrades Frossard and Cachin, dazzled by the achievements of the Russian revolution, have completely changed their standpoint. Indeed recently our Comrade Cachin said: ‘Reconstruction – what a senseless word.’ That is a simple and brutal condemnation of an entire past. In fact, comrades, since the Strasbourg Congress, the French Socialist Party – I am speaking here of the majority – has mechanically developed continually to the left. Since the left faction, which has declared itself to be the faction of the Communist International, the Loriot faction, as people call it, has grown more and more and continues to grow even now, and since on the other hand the old faction, the faction of Renaudel, has shrunk in the same proportion, so that for practical purposes it no longer counts in our party, at least among militants (in the parliamentary group and in local government it still retains an absolute majority), it was natural that the active majority of the party turned against those whose increasing influence disturbed them. We saw in Strasbourg the marriage of Renaudel and Paul Faure and we were present when the right-wing faction and the centre applauded Paul Faure who, in order to call the bluff of the revolutionaries, turned ironically to the supporters of the Communist International with the words: ‘You talk all the time about the revolution of the masses. You do not know what a revolution is, you do not know what is necessary in order to call forth a revolutionary movement in the French masses that are conservatively minded, as was shown on November 10, and who are afraid of you (for electoral affairs have for the French Socialist Party an almost religious significance). The masses will not follow you in your demagogic evolution. You imagine that you are carrying out propaganda because you have the old traditional assemblies in your hands, where the same people make the same agitational speeches again and again. But call on the working class to perform a mighty and clear action to prevent the expedition against Russia, or even to take power, and you will see what a small following you have.’

Pressemane, who spoke particularly about the French peasants, used analogous arguments. He contrasted those of the masses who in France are still called the ‘extreme left’ with the old militants as some kind of madmen, as some kind of epileptics who do not know what a political organisation is. Pressemane forgot to add that, true to their demagogic traditions, he and his friends only gave the masses the minimum of information about the revolution necessary to win their applause, without meanwhile doing anything that could take them to victory.

I would like to ask the permission of the Congress to make the accusations I am expressing here clearer with a short example out of the internal life of the French Party. The activity of the French Socialist Party is defined in the eyes of the masses by the activity of the parliamentary group. But what takes place inside the party is known only to the members themselves, or can be discovered during their propaganda trips. But the people who do not go to meetings and do not read revolutionary newspapers, the man in the street, as he is called in England, know only the parliamentary group and its debates, which for them embodies socialism. I do not exaggerate when I say that the French Socialist group in parliament is as conservative as all the other bourgeois groups m this assembly. In my opinion their manner of speaking lacks the vengeful passion of men who are constantly fighting a hostile faction. If I had sufficient time I would try to give you a series of short biographies of such people as Paul Boncour, Varenne and Albert Thomas, who is the undisputed leader of the socialist parliamentary group. Does the International really know the full extent of Varenne’s activities, the journalistic activity of this publisher of a series of bourgeois newspapers, that appear and disappear one after the other but for all that never lack a supply of funds? Albert Thomas is an intimate friend of Jouhaux, a member of the staff of Information Ouvriere et Sociale, which is maintained by M. Dulot, the editor of Temps, the official organ of the French bourgeoisie. Each one of these men, finally, has found his way into parliament, and that, thanks to a peculiar electoral system, not through the general will of socialist workers but at the whim of some anti-clerical members of the bourgeoisie.

That is why even people like Léon Blum ascribe such great importance to the question, in itself unimportant, of relations with the Vatican. I would like to quote a series of individual examples to you but I shall not have sufficient time for that. As a typical example I shall tell you of the case of the member of parliament Aubry, a young teacher from the ranks of the extreme left of the French Socialist Party, who was so far affected by the infectious treachery of this group in the course of a few weeks that, shortly after he was elected, he signed an appeal in favour of a national loan together with General de Boissoudy and the Archbishop of Rennes, which is a completely normal phenomenon in the socialist group that is customary there and surprises nobody. A strange case that shows the uprightness of the revolutionary outlook of a socialist member of parliament happened recently. The examining magistrate of Rouen demanded the prosecution of a member of parliament from the Pas-de-Calais region, Barthélemy, who had staged a public meeting with our comrade Meric in Sotteville. Barthélemy was accused of having said that, should there be a revolution, he would place himself in the front rank on the barricades and that he would die at the head of the proletarian troops. The member of parliament Barthélemy immediately went to the rostrum. ‘What’, he cried, ‘a French socialist member of parliament dares to say things like that, dares to talk about placing himself at the head of the revolutionaries and letting himself be killed? Such words have never passed my lips.’ And parliament immediately believed him, so solid is the conservative reputation of the socialist group. I repeat that phenomena of this sort are to be observed daily. Some time ago when our comrade Maurin of the left wing of the ‘reconstruction’ faction was talking in the party’s Administrative Commission about the ways and means that would have to be used to carry out propaganda in France, he declared with an honesty that was nothing short of cynical that propaganda must be allowed so that comrades who were already elected could be re-elected and in order to prepare the election of comrades who had not yet been elected. Before every speech therefore the speaker would have to ask the local powers that be who the party’s petty bureaucrats were in the area. The speaker would have to say something opportunistic, something that assisted the immediate material interests of the electoral situation.

But there are more important things than the parliamentary life of a group that has been discredited in the eyes of the masses. Nowadays members of parliament, with very few exceptions, are thought of as traitors or as people who simply do not count. The French parliament is completely discredited in the eyes of the masses. Perhaps that is the best result of the treachery of the socialist group in parliament. The municipalities are more important. The French Socialist Party had great success in the elections. We dominate the largest part of the local administration of the greatest cities in France. We run between 1,500 and 1,800 local councils, which represents an imposing total. On the day of my departure from France a Congress opened in Boulogne the main purpose of which was to unify the activities of the local councils. At it several questions were raised. It was decided above all, instead of allowing concessionary companies to go bankrupt, to burden the workers living in the local council areas with new and larger taxes. The demand that these concessionary companies should be allowed to collapse was declared to be revolutionary and immediately rejected. When the question came up – I am obliged to quote examples chosen at random which will enable the Communist International to judge what sort of gift people are trying to give it – as I was saying when the attempt was made to forbid these local councils from taking part in the chauvinist celebrations of July 14, the proposal was withdrawn. And Mistral, the representative of the present majority, refused to submit this motion to the National Council (Conseil National). As far as the majority of the assembly of councils was concerned, they were decisively opposed to this proposal, and it was not so long ago – shortly after the May strike, when the government was fighting the active comrades most energetically – that a local councillor was found, the honourable Delory, an old party worker whom you all know, who himself asked for the great honour of being allowed to receive in the town of Lille, of which he is the Mayor, two ministers who were to invest the town with a military decoration. This is how business is conducted in the local councils run by the French Socialist Party.

Finally, comrades, is it not strange that, after the best elements in the party have turned away from if in disgust, we, the supporters of the Communist International, are accused at every Congress of trying to destroy unity? To that we have always replied that you cannot destroy what does not exist, and that unity does not exist. It, does not exist because there are people in the party who ought not to the there and because people who ought to be there are not in the party. Unity will only emerge when there has been a thorough purge of the party (a purge which has long since been promised by the party majority but for which we are still waiting). Is it not strange also that, in a Communist Party that is finally pure, with a strict discipline, the revolutionary syndicalists, who today still stray to the side of anarcho-syndicalism, direct their work according to the Theses of communism worked out here? I would like to tell you what happened during our May strike, what the results of this strike (which were, moreover, immeasurable) were, and what lessons we have had to draw from it. One thing at least you should know, that those people lied who said at Strasbourg that the masses would not move. They moved, fundamentally and in great numbers, and the only cause of their defeat was the lack of revolutionary will among the leaders. That is why one can also say that the only conclusion that one can draw from this bloody experience is the necessity of the creation of a Communist Party.

The conversion of our comrades Cachin and Frossard is only a personal fact. They will return to France and pronounce their declaration to an attentively listening crowd. It is to be feared that, under the influence of a long opportunist past and their peculiar school of thought – in saying this I am casting no doubt on the personal uprightness of our comrades – it is greatly to be feared, I say, that in driving the party towards the Communist International they will lumber it with a minimum programme that will have the disadvantage for you that the treacherous spirit of the Second International will penetrate into your ranks. I claim that the atmosphere in France is unbearable. That must be changed. Changing the minds of two individuals can have no influence. We must remain intransigent, and I assure you that the masses in France will follow you unflinchingly if you yourselves remain firm. The French hypothesis from the Palais Bourbon must not be allowed to be stuck onto the Marxist Theses worked out in Moscow. The application of these Theses would merely be laughable, because we are trusting people who for six years have compromised the word ‘socialism’ and have thus made the proclamation of communism necessary.

Graziadei: I have asked for the right to speak in order to touch on a question that Comrade Serrati has raised. Since however in the form Comrade Serrati has given it a discussion is impossible, I insist on proposing the addition of the following Thesis to the Theses before the Congress:

‘No party that wishes to join the Communist International may under any circumstances permit its members to belong to the sect of Freemasons.’ – The Freemasons do in fact in various countries form political organisations which, through their abstract, formalist and petty-bourgeois conception of social relations and through their whole composition serve the interests of the national and international bourgeois system. Its influence is all the more dangerous for the fact that the Freemason sect is a secret organisation.

A mere glance at the writings of the Freemasons is sufficient to justify my motion. The question is of little interest for the Russians. All the greater however is its importance for the Latin countries, for England and for America. Freemasonry exercises quite a big influence in those countries. It is a political organisation that strives for the conquest and the retention of power. It gathers civil servants, academics and businessmen around itself. The teachings upon which it is based are directly opposed to Marxist socialist conceptions. It endeavours to veil national and class differences under an abstract and formalist conception of theoretical rights. Moreover it is a secret organisation and since, in many countries, we do not yet have secret organisations, we are in their opinion in an inferior position to them.

The comrades who are members of the Freemason sect can check up on us but we for our part have no opportunity to check their organisation. We have had an interesting experience in this matter in Italy. At the Party Congress in Ancona before August 1914, we laid down that membership of the party and of the Freemasons were incompatible. After a few months the war broke out. We were then able to convince ourselves that without the decision I have mentioned our party would never have been able to take up the hostile attitude to the war that it did. In any case it would have split at this most difficult moment. One of the main causes of the present crisis in the French Party is the circumstance that there are in their ranks a great number of Freemasons. I therefore ask the Congress to take Comrade Serrati’s motion and my addendum into account and to add the latter to the Theses proposed by the commission as a supplementary Thesis. The Congress must take up a firm attitude on this question which is in the highest degree important for many countries.

Guilbeaux: The first year of existence of the Communist International was a year of the formation and the setting up of communist parties and groups. I believe that we have now entered into a new phase in the development of the Communist International, the phase of the struggle of the different tendencies within the framework of the Communist International. The debates we have participated in since the start of the Congress are proof of this struggle between left and right. I see in this a sign of the great vitality of communism. But I believe that I note a tendency among the right wing that can grow extensively and which consequently must be fought unhesitatingly by the leaders of the left wing.

In the manifesto of the first, founding Congress of the Communist International, it said that it was necessary to fight centrism, which was correctly held to be the most dangerous tendency in the socialist movement. This manifesto demanded a complete break with centrism and the formation of purely communist groups and parties in every country. It is in my opinion characteristic that the Second Congress of the Communist International adopts a different standpoint on how to approach the centre. The very fact that the possibility is conceded of accepting certain centrist elements into the Communist International marks the beginning of negotiations with the reformists and the centrists.

In the proposed Theses the right wing of the Italian Socialist Party, whose representative is Turati, is condemned on the one hand, but on the other hand a turn is made towards centrist parties such as for example the USPD and the French Socialist Party. In this I see a contradiction. The difference that exists between Cachin and Turati is not big, but it does exist. The attitude the Italian Socialist Party took up during the war was far worthier of a socialist party than that taken up by the French Socialist Party, which was guilty of the basest treachery.

I do not find particular cause for joy in the fact that, under the influence of the revolutionary atmosphere in which they suddenly find themselves in Moscow, the representatives of certain centrist parties profess their communism. I have no doubt as to their honesty, but I ask myself whether, when they return to Paris and the tainted atmosphere of the Socialist Party or the Chamber of Deputies, they will not fall back into their old mistakes. Think about the fact that the preparations for the formation of the Second International, which was set up in 1889, took several years. The comrades who are now negotiating with the socialist parties think that an organisation and a press that can serve the purposes of the revolution can be created from one day to the next. They are sinning against the limitations of possibility. We must first organise the cadre of a strong Communist Party. We must draw the masses into this cadre organisation, but we cannot graft them to it artificially. I insist upon one fact that Comrade Lefebvre has already mentioned. The French Socialist Party is in general a parliamentary party which we should in no case admit, despite its representatives’ statements. The split that should happen has unfortunately not yet happened. Only when it has really come about will there be in France a Communist Party that Comrade Loriot’s supporters and the syndicalists represented by Rosmer and Monatte will join. Then we will have the masses on our side as well. We will however never be able to bring the French masses over to us if we try to transform the French Socialist Party artificially into a Communist Party. If after a trial period of six months or a year we want to accept parties that have for many years betrayed us and gone astray, then I am afraid that in the end they will perhaps be a majority in the Communist International, and that they will replace the red banner of the Communist International with another that is very similar to that of the Second International. We cannot carry on negotiations with parties which, despite their statements, offer no guarantees at all for the future.

Herzog (Switzerland): In this discussion it is also necessary to go briefly into party conditions in Switzerland. As you know the last conference of the Swiss Party decided to leave the Second International and join the Communist International. At the same time however a motion was passed whereby that decision would first of all have to be laid before all the members of the Social Democratic Party in a ballot. In the ballot it was decided to leave the Second International but not, however, to join the Communist International, but on the contrary to give the party leadership the authority and the duty to make contact with all revolutionary parties in order to bring together a big revolutionary international, a Fourth International. The party leadership did everything possible to comply with this decision. Discussions took place with the French Socialists in Berne. The party leadership also sent comrades to Germany to start negotiations with the USPD. When we communists exposed this manoeuvre the Basler Vorwärts in particular tried, to whitewash it. They covered up for the party leadership in this matter. Social Democracy in Switzerland has constantly carried out this policy of hesitation in recent times, this policy of rushing hither and thither that we have seen during the

withdrawal from the Second International. As you know, it decided to associate itself with Kienthal and Zimmerwald, and when we revolutionary workers insisted that these decisions should be put into practice, that association with Kienthal and Zimmerwald did not exhaust the matter, but that the programme also had to be carried out, and that the attempt would have to be made to carry out revolutionary actions, that the army would have to be approached with propaganda, that the soldiers would have to be revolutionised, the party did everything it could to make our activity impossible. We were forced to bring the revolutionary workers together in separate groups within the party. We tried to form communist groups in all the larger localities. We extended these into a central organisation and gave ourselves a programme. We did not stand still at that. We said that we had to start on actions and propaganda in the army, in accordance with the Theses proposed at Zimmerwald, that we would have to say to the workers that they had to carry out great mass actions and, if the party leaders did not want it, against their will. This is the basis of the conflict and of the expulsion of the communists from the Swiss Social Democratic Party. We carried out this propaganda systematically; we distributed tens of thousands of leaflets to the army, which was only our duty as revolutionary communists. That is the reason why we were thrown out.

There was a big general strike in Zurich. I said that the general strike must be carried out, and when we said that in our propaganda we were expelled from the party. The whole organisation of the old revolutionary groups was expelled. We were forced to take the step of founding the Communist Party in order to stay politically alive. We were able by intensive work to set up communist sections in every major locality. We succeeded in winning the sympathies of larger masses of workers. The centre of the party now fears that the great mass of workers will go over to us. That was the reason for the manoeuvre of calling together in Olten a party conference of left socialists and the centre where it was decided to send two representatives to Moscow so that the Communist International would accept Switzerland. Then these people can say: ‘We are in the Communist International, we are revolutionary communists.’ They think that by affiliating to the Communist International they will keep the mass of workers with them. The task of the Congress is to tell these people from the Swiss Social Democracy also: ‘You must prove in practice that you really want to fight in a revolutionary way. Only when you have proved that can you be accepted into the Communist International. This danger must be fought most energetically, and we must apply to the Swiss Social Democratic Party the principle we apply to the Independents and to the French Party. Only by sifting these elements strictly can we prevent the germs of disruption from coming into the Communist International and prevent the revolutionary activity that is present in the masses from being weakened in the next few years.

Goldenberg: For my part I shall not vote for Comrade Zinoviev’s Theses because it seems to me that they contain a great error in method. I shall try to portray this false method briefly.

When we supporters of the Communist International are asked why we do not remain in the Socialist Party, we reply: ‘The war has split the international proletariat into two opposed camps, into the counter-revolutionary camp on the one hand, which is represented by the labour aristocracy, by the layer of the proletariat which, through the development of capitalism, has come closer and closer to the lower layers of the bourgeoisie, and into the revolutionary camp on the other. These two factions also existed before the war within the framework of the individual national parties. The war has shown that there is no possibility of bringing about a reconciliation of these two factions. If in those days, before the war, this contradiction was expressed in strife about the direction to be taken within the framework of the socialist parties of the various nations, it is expressed now, after the war, no longer in factional strife but in a struggle that is waged weapons in hand. In Comrade Lenin’s words, the weapon of criticism has made way for criticism by weapons. One of these two opposed factions has made common cause with the bourgeoisie, the other has shown itself to be the real representative of the revolutionary proletariat. We stand by the latter.’

What standpoint the Communist International, the international organisation of the revolutionary proletariat, will take up towards the socialist parties, or in the split between social reformists and counter-revolutionaries and revolutionary socialists and communists, has not yet been decided. That is a question that we have to answer today.

The Theses proposed by Comrade Zinoviev enumerate a series of conditions the fulfilment of which will enable the socialist parties, the so-called ‘centrists’, to enter the Communist International. I cannot state my agreement with this mode of procedure.

The Communist International, an international organisation of the revolutionary proletariat, which is supposed to consist solely and alone of representatives of the revolutionary proletariat of every country, cannot tolerate in its midst non-communist elements who have proved themselves to be counter-revolutionary elements, the agents of the bourgeoisie.

The conditions that have been laid down for the centrist parties have been posed in a form that permits the French Socialist Party, the USPD, the Norwegian Socialist Party and so forth to join the Communist International if only they declare themselves to be prepared to fulfil the conditions or start to apply communist tactics.

I declare that this way of proceeding will only increase the confusion that already reigns in these parties. I should like to speak here particularly about the French Socialist Party, which I know better than the others. The French Socialist Party more or less as a whole represents that special layer of the labour aristocracy which proved during the war to be completely reactionary. During the war all the leaders of the French Socialist Party without exception placed themselves on the side of the bourgeoisie against the international working class. They voted for war credits right up to the end of the war and even several months after the armistice. We have here a representative of this parliamentary faction who voted for the war credits. We also have here a French member of parliament who declared last year in the French chamber that he refused to vote for the tax rate of three twelfths demanded in the provisional budget by the government, but that he was prepared to vote for a provisional rate of two twelfths. Part of these credits was destined for the counter-revolutionary expeditions of Kolchak and Denikin. While the Russian proletariat was fighting desperately against these international robbers, the representatives of the French Socialist Party were voting in the chamber for war credits for the support of counter-revolutionary armies.

What position has the French Socialist Party adopted since the war? Comrade Lefebvre has just said that a step backwards was to be observed at the Strasbourg Congress. I say, however, that there was no step backwards to be observed, but that this Congress merely showed what the French Socialist Party really is. The leaders of the French Socialist Party had adopted a revolutionary phraseology in order to deceive the masses. They had declared themselves in favour of the dictatorship of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. They said that they were supporters of historical materialism; however, when they were posed with the problem of national defence, it became clear that there was nothing incredible about the link between Paul Faure and Renaudel, but that it reflected the true outlook of those who had grouped themselves whether on the right, in the centre or even on the left of the party. The French Socialist Party is a rotten party of petty bourgeois reformists. Its affiliation to the Communist International will have the consequence that this rottenness will also be dragged into the Communist International. Comrade Zinoviev’s Theses contain at the beginning a series of conditions for entry. You can see how readily these Theses have been accepted even by those who only yesterday were their most determined opponents.

The representatives of the French Socialist Party who are participating in this Congress are among those who strove most zealously, with all the means at their disposal, to discredit the Communist International. Even if they are here among us in person, their hearts are not with us, and for this very reason, that they feel that the Communist International is the only revolutionary force in the world and that no other organisation can stand up to it.

They have done everything they could to create a diverging organisation, in opposition to this Communist International, which was to accept all those elements that wished to affiliate to it. The only condition was that they declared themselves to be opposed to the principles of the Communist International. They searched the whole of Europe for parties that could be led into the field against the Communist International.

I still remember their conduct in the party and in the socialist press. They tried not only to sully the ideas of the Communist International but also to blacken the names of the best-known militants of the French Socialist Party. I am thinking of the campaign of slander that was led against those who defended the Communist International in France. Should we now ask these people to join the Communist International because they declare that they wish to accept the principles of the Communist International and to be in agreement with these principles? I have no intention of checking the sincerity of Cachin and Frossard. I want to keep off that issue. I simply wish to state that people who have shown themselves, despite their revolutionary talk, to be determined counter-revolutionaries, cannot have become communists in the course of a few weeks. The tone of the declaration that has just been read out shows the true extent of what Cachin and Frossard conceive to be acceptance of the principles of communism.

When they return to France, how will they behave towards those who have long been defending the principles of the Communist International there? There is in France a committee dedicated to spreading the ideas of the Communist International among the masses and in the party itself. What attitude will Cachin and Frossard adopt towards this committee and the party comrades of whom it is composed, Cachin and Frossard, who were previously their most zealous opponents? I ask you, how are we to behave when Cachin and Frossard come back to France and say: ‘We are in complete agreement with the leaders of the Communist International. We have discussed with them. In reality nothing separates us from them.’ I have just read a few copies of Humanité which report on Cachin and Frossard’s visit to Russia, how marvellously they were received by our Russian friends, how they had attended a session of the Moscow Soviet and how a friendly exchange of views had taken place without any difference of opinions being perceptible. That is the opinion of Humanité, and Cachin and Frossard will also represent this opinion when they return from Russia. They will repeat the claim they made before their departure from France, that if Comrade Lenin was in France he would agree with them and not with us.

I protest against this artificial way of accepting into the Communist International elements that are not even in favour of it. In the name of my comrades languishing in gaol, in the name of the true interests of the French proletariat, I declare that I am not in agreement with this way of proceeding. There is for the revolutionary French proletariat only one means of waging the fight against the Second International, and that is the setting up of a well-organised Communist Party in France that only contains communist elements. What is tragic about the situation in France is the circumstance that up until now it has been impossible to approach this task. We were forced to confine ourselves to the faction struggle within the party. We were unable to take up the task of organisation and training through which alone it is possible to create a well organised party.

The standpoint that I am defending here is that the French Socialist Party cannot be told: ‘Under these conditions you will be allowed to join the Communist International.’ Instead we want to adopt an attitude that forces the revolutionary and reformist elements of the party to break from each other, which could not previously happen. Only thus will it be possible to create a Communist Party that will consist only of left socialists. This will make possible the communist work of organisation and training which alone can create a powerful and successful element, not only for the Communist International, but for the whole proletarian revolution.

Bordiga: I should like to submit to you some observations that I propose to use as an introduction to the Theses proposed by the Commission, and also a further concrete condition which reads as follows: ‘Those parties which have until now maintained their old social-democratic programme have the obligation to subject the latter to immediate revision and to work out a new communist programme that corresponds to conditions in their countries in the spirit of the Communist International. It is a rule that the programmes of the parties that join the Communist International must be ratified by the International Congress or by the Executive Committee. Should the latter withhold its approval from a party, the party shall have the right to appeal to the Congress of the Communist International.’

This Congress has an extraordinary importance. It has to confirm and defend the eternal principles of the Communist International. When Comrade Lenin, I think it was in April 1917, returned to Russia and submitted a short draft of the new programme of the Communist Party, he too spoke of the revitalisation of the International. He said that this work would have to rest on eternal foundations, that on the one hand the social patriots and on the other hand the social democrats would have to be removed, these supporters of the Second International who think it is possible to achieve the liberation of the proletariat without armed class struggle, without the necessity of introducing the dictatorship of the proletariat after the victory, at the time of the insurrection.

The foundation of the Communist International in Russia led us back to Marxism. The revolutionary movement that was saved from the ruins of the Second International made itself known with its programme, and the work that now began led to the formation of a new state organism on the basis of the official constitution. I believe that we find ourselves in a situation that is not created by accident but much rather determined by the course of history. I believe that we are threatened by the danger of right-wing and centrist elements penetrating into our midst.

When the watchword ‘Soviet Order’ was flung to the Russian and the international proletariat at the end of the war the revolutionary waves rose and the proletariat was set in motion all over the world. A natural selection took place in the old socialist parties all over the world. Communist parties arose that took up the fight with the bourgeoisie.

The following period was a time of standstill, since the revolution was suppressed in Germany, Bavaria, and Hungary by the bourgeoisie.

The war is now over. The problem of war and the question of national defence are no longer of immediate interest. It is very easy to say that, in a new war, one would not fall into the same errors, that is to say the mistakes of the ‘union sacrée’ and national defence. ‘The revolution is still far off,’ our opponents say, ‘it is not an immediate problem for us,’ and they will accept all the Theses of the Communist International: the power of the soviets, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the red terror.

We would therefore be in great danger if we made the mistake of accepting these people in our ranks.

The Communist International cannot speed up the course of history. It can neither create the revolution nor bring it about by force. It only stands in our power to prepare the working class. But our movement must remember the lessons of the war and the Russian Revolution. In my opinion we must pay great attention to them.

The right-wing elements accept our Theses, but in an unsatisfactory manner and with certain reservations. We communists must demand that this acceptance is complete and without restrictions for the future.

We have seen the first application of the Marxist method and theory in Russia, that is to say in a country where the development of the classes has not yet reached a very high level. This method must therefore be applied with greater clarity and consistency in Western Europe, where capitalism is better developed.

There is talk here about the difference between the reformists and the revolutionaries. That is an outmoded expression. There cannot be any more reformists, even if, as supporters of socialism, they admit the class struggle, but at the same time hope that the form this struggle takes will be different from what it is in Russia. I am of the opinion, comrades, that the Communist International is standing fast, that it is holding its revolutionary political character upright without flinching.

We must put up insurmountable barricades against the reformists.

These parties must be forced to make an exact declaration of their principles. A common programme ought to be introduced for every party in the world, which is unfortunately not possible at the moment. The Communist International possesses no means of convincing itself that these people follow the communist programme.

Where the 16th Thesis says: ‘Parties that previously have retained their old social-democratic programme have the duty of changing this programme in the shortest possible time and working out a new programme in harmony with the decisions of the Communist International according to the particular circumstances in their countries’, the following words after ‘and working out a new programme’ should be struck out: ‘In harmony with the decisions of the Communist International according to the particular circumstances of their countries’. They should be replaced with the words: ‘In which the principles of the Communist International are established in a manner that is unambiguous and in complete agreement with the resolutions of the International Congresses. The minority of the party that declares itself to be in opposition to this programme must be expelled from the party organisation. The parties that have changed their programme and joined the Communist International and have not fulfilled this condition must immediately call an extraordinary congress to reach agreement on it.’

This condition, about which the representatives of the French Socialist Party have expressed no opinion, and have not said that they are going to expel Renaudel and others from their party, must be posed clearly and distinctly.

All those who vote against the new programme must be expelled from the party. As far as the programme is concerned there is no disciplinary problem: either it is accepted or it is not accepted. Those who do not accept it leave the party. The programme is something that is common to all. It is not something drawn up by the majority of party militants. It is what is laid before those parties that wish to be accepted into the Communist International. It must be the difference between the wish to join the Communist International and the fact of being accepted by it.

I think that, after the Congress, the Executive Committee must be given time to find out whether all the obligations that have been laid upon the parties by the Communist International have been fulfilled. After this time, after the so-called organisation period, the door must he closed.

The aim of my proposal is to bring back Comrade Lenin’s condition that was withdrawn, the condition, that is to say, that in those parties that wished to be accepted a certain number of communists should take over the running of the party organs. I would prefer them all to be communists.

Opportunism must be fought everywhere. But we will find this task very difficult if, at the very moment that we are taking steps to purge the Communist International, the door is opened to let those who are standing outside come in.

I have spoken on behalf of the Italian delegation. We undertake to fight the opportunists in Italy. We do not, however, wish them to go away from us merely to be accepted into the Communist International in some other way. We say to you, after we have worked with you we want to go back to our country and form a united front against all the enemies of the communist revolution.

Serrati: We would like to announce that the International Communist Women’s Conference will open tomorrow, Friday, in the Great Theatre at 6 o'clock. We ask you to attend the opening.

The session will be continued tonight at 8.30 pm.



The session is closed.

 

 

 

Evening Session of
July 29





Milkic: I had not intended to take the floor on this question. I wanted to confine myself to voting.

But I think that it is my duty to declare from the rostrum, as a reply to what Comrade Zinoviev said here, that the Yugoslav party is not an opportunist party.

Zinoviev: That is true.

Milkic: I am glad to hear that Comrade Zinoviev confirms what I say. In 1905 the Yugoslav Socialist Party expelled some of its leaders who were in favour of class collaboration. It did the same in 1912.

Certainly many will say: ‘It was once a courageous party, but it has ceased to be so.’ Comrades, that is a mistake.

Today Comrade Zinoviev gave me some Serbian newspapers and in them I read that the Yugoslav Socialist party has changed its name and from now on calls itself the Communist Party. And the first act of the party centre was to publish a spirited appeal in favour of the Hungarian communists.

After taking note of all the documents on their activity, I can say without exaggeration that the Communist Party of Yugoslavia can serve as an example to all other Communist Parties. I am firmly confident that their tactics in the future will produce good results.

Our comrades have distributed a manifesto among the peasants in which they call upon them to free themselves from the yoke of the landlords. The government has used this occasion to persecute the authors of the manifesto.

I end this short statement by saying that the Communist Party of Yugoslavia is a party of which the Communist International can be proud. It does not deserve what Comrade Zinoviev said about it. He no doubt said it in order to console the German Independents, who are one of the parties which he criticised just as he criticised the South Slavs.

Bombacci: I do not believe that it can be particularly useful to go deeply into a subject that only concerns us as a theoretical question.

Does the adoption of this or that point correspond to the interests of the Communist International? That is the question. It is a difficult one when we are dealing with parties that have a history of thirty years of reformist habits behind them that does not permit them to adopt the spirit of the revolutionary epoch. The Italian Socialist Party joined the Communist International; but since the Bologna Congress, where, in contrast to Comrade Bordiga, I opposed the expulsion of the reformists and the change of the Party’s name, nothing has changed there.

Unfortunately, this fact proves that there are in it elements that are not capable of being really true to the Communist International. It would not be sufficient to expel Turati since Modigliani and fifty or sixty others lead the reformist tendency. The whole party would have to be split, without stopping at the old chiefs of reformism.

I am even more opposed to the acceptance of the French Socialist Party and the German Independents into the Communist International, since these parties cannot adopt a revolutionary communist mode of thought.

With reference to this subject I shall propose an amendment to the Theses we have discussed. It would deal with setting up an inquiry among the mass of members of the parties in question and giving the Executive Committee the right to expel various parties and their individual members who obviously cannot be tolerated in communist organisations. With this big reservation I would be, strictly speaking, in favour of the acceptance of those parties which in principle I condemn. I think that it is impermissible for any communist to be a member of the Freemasons, that purely bourgeois movement. [Applause.]

Polano: I am speaking today on behalf of the Italian Socialist Youth and in order to report to you on its activities. This organisation has existed since 1907. In general its line is in complete agreement with the Italian Socialist Party, which, however, it has constantly pushed to the left. We have never ceased to demand that the Italian Socialist Party should be purged of its reformist elements, and we hope that the Communist International will help us. The International must seek

closer links with the Italian Socialist Party, which will come about through a clear understanding of its historical mission. Its most important task is preparing the revolution. This work is delayed by the struggle inside the ‘party between the two ideologies, between social democracy on the one hand and the communist elements on the other. There does not exist the slightest possibility of uniting these two tendencies. How is it possible that the Marxist elements of the Socialist Party have not yet noticed this contradiction? How could they not grasp the importance, not take measures in order to remove from the party all those elements which obstruct it in action when, after all, it has the duty of leading the masses?

The Italian Socialist Party affiliated to the Communist International en bloc. Nevertheless there are still in its midst men like Modigliani who have never ceased to carry out the most energetic propaganda against the Communist International and the dictatorship of the proletariat. It was Modigliani himself who demanded not so long ago that close links should be created between the Socialist Party and petty-bourgeois elements. Turati, who also, as you know, belongs to the Italian Socialist Party, similarly declared recently that communist tactics were childishness and stupidity.

A real communist party cannot be formed from such contradictory elements. The Communist International must come to the aid of the socialist youth in its work of purging. Permit me to draw the attention of the Congress to paragraph 7 of the Theses which says that all the parties that wish to join the Communist International must immediately break with the opportunist and centrist elements. I would also like to remind the Congress of paragraph 18, which says that all parties that affiliate to the Communist International must adopt the name ‘Communist Party’. I cherish the firm hope that the Italian Socialist Party will consider the Theses that we have discussed and that it will soon present itself as a real communist party. But we must be helped to achieve this task. This must not be forgotten. The Communist International will now, however, be able to help the socialist youth and the Italian Socialist Party in its work if it lets in such groups as the French Socialist Party and the USPD. For it is in fact impossible on the one hand to purge the Italian Socialist Party of its opportunist elements and on the other hand to let such elements once more into the Communist International.

Rakosi: The question with which the Communist International is faced resembles in many respects the question we were faced with about sixteen months ago when in our country all the groupings in the social democracy, including those parts that had a dangerous similarity to the USPD, saw their complete bankruptcy and, under the pressure of the masses, were forced to give up their programme and base themselves completely on the dictatorship of the proletariat and the Communist International. It then emerged that these people had given way to this pressure solely in order to remain in power, and not because they had seen that their previous views were wrong. We have had the saddest experiences with these left social democrats, and I would like to warn the comrades against repeating these examples now on a far larger scale. I must warn you energetically because I can see at every step in the speeches of Comrades Crispien and Dittmann the characteristics of our social democrats. They recognised the dictatorship of the proletariat without any further ado, but, like Däumig they spoke out against terror and demanded a ‘mild form’ of the dictatorship at a time when the experiences of the Finnish, Ukrainian and other atrocities of the White Guards were known.

If after three years of revolution, after they have seen the murder of tens of thousands of Independents and communists, Comrades Dittmann or Crispien can come quite calmly to Moscow to speak against terror, this means that these people are not capable of understanding this system. Even in their own soviet dictatorship they will speak against terror and wait until the white terror teaches them a correct understanding of terror. I can see from the examples of Comrades Crispien and Dittmann that their minds run along the same lines as those of our Hungarian comrades, and that they drink from the same spring. Our comrades investigated the Russian experience carefully, not, indeed, to avoid mistakes, but in order to find out from it ways of justifying their own behaviour. The Hungarian social democrats made every effort to justify themselves wherever they were sloppy. Apart from a complete inability to understand the proletarian dictatorship, the right wing Independents have a very dangerous routine, which they showed by being able to force the other left-wing comrades to present a scandalous USPD resolution against the Executive Committee of the Communist International as if it was the general opinion of the USPD.

Dittmann: Where did you get that pearl of wisdom from?

Rakosi: From you and Comrade Däumig. I know quite well how such things are done. I have warned against this because I can see from the example of the Hungarian proletariat that people who do not know what terror and dictatorship are after three years of revolution are not going to become any wiser in the next few years, and that they will make exactly the same mistakes, which the German proletariat will then have to pay for with its blood. When the dictatorship fell our social democrats did not become any wiser at all, although they should have seen that they were wrong. I do not know whether Comrade Dittmann knows that part of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party calls itself ‘Independent, and that one of its leaders is the worst enemy of the dictatorship who has done the greatest damage to the proletariat. He is the Vienna correspondent of Freiheit and writes whole columns in the spirit of Kautsky on conditions in Eastern Europe. These articles pass unnoticed because they fit in with the spirit of Freiheit. I should like to say that I am in favour of the proposal to link acceptance of the USPD to a new condition not yet mentioned in the Theses, and I would like to support all those conditions that limit the indiscriminate acceptance of the USPD and other such centrists into the Communist International, because I know from experience that these people only change in words and give themselves the appearance of fighting for the dictatorship, while in reality they do what they are doing now in Germany and what they did during – the dictatorship in Hungary.

Serrati: I see in the Russian evening paper a statement made by Dugoni, a member of the Italian delegation, on his visit to Russia.

I must admit that I do not know whether these statements by Dugoni are authentic, but I can state in any case that no member of the Italian delegation has empowered Dugoni to make these statements. We have sent the Avanti radio messages and information on our stay in Russia. In them we have expressed our views very clearly. All other statements ascribed to us are completely false. I heard something of this this morning and entrusted Comrade d'Aragona, who departed for Italy today, with the task of finding out from the party leadership whether the statements published in the Italian press which are ascribed to Dugoni actually come from him.

Should the answer be in the affirmative I shall demand his immediate expulsion from the party.

Meyer: Comrades, if we are here concerned with the question of the acceptance of the USPD into the Communist International, then this concern has shown once again how extremely difficult it is to form a clear all-round picture of the character of the USPD. To every objection, to every criticism its representatives reply by pointing to other phrases, other statements by other members, and all in all the picture we see is that the USPD is not something homogeneous or clear, but that in all its parts it cannot show a clearly outlined attitude. Typical of the character of the USPD, which has indeed been manifest since its foundation, is its behaviour towards the Communist International. The Party Conference at Leipzig did, it is true, decide to affiliate to the Communist International. If however this decision is examined carefully it will emerge that it is not a decision to affiliate, but a resolution demanding first of all negotiations with so-called social-revolutionary parties in order to reach an agreement with them, and contact with Moscow only if these negotiations break down. In the declaration that Comrade Crispien made on this in Leipzig he explicitly established that the decision did not mean straightforward affiliation to Moscow but first of all negotiations. This decision is unclear, and when we inquire as to its execution, then we really are groping in the dark. What have the Independents done since the Leipzig conference to carry out the decision? Why have they sent their representatives here? It is not clear from the behaviour of the delegation here what they want. The delegation has not brought a message or an application saying that the USPD now wants to join the Communist International. When we asked them in the Commission whether they want to negotiate on entry with the Communist International – a similar question was put at the Executive – we did not receive a clear answer, but the following statement: ‘These negotiations do not mean that we set special conditions for our entry to the Communist International, but our negotiations have the purpose of clearing away the lumber of misunderstandings that obviously exists in Moscow and in the Communist International about us.’ But these alleged misunderstandings need not prevent anyone from saying whether he agrees with the Communist International or not.

The latest letter from the headquarters of the USPD similarly casts no light on the attitude of the USPD to Moscow. In it the attempt is made to refute certain sentences in the Executive’s letter, but nothing is said about what they think, in what form and under what conditions they are prepared to carry out affiliation to the Communist International, and why this affiliation has not yet been carried out. The answer to that, however, is given by the arguments that have taken place within the USPD between the left wing and the right wing. It is quite clear that elements like Kautsky, Hilferding and Ströbel, who even today within the USPD are looking out of the corner of their eyes at the Second International, would much prefer to go to Basle or Geneva instead of Moscow, and that only because the masses have barred the road to Lucerne do they grope their way slowly towards Moscow, in order to correspond to the wishes of the masses for affiliation to the Communist International. For there can be no doubt that the broad masses of the USPD want direct affiliation with Moscow. When Moscow’s answer to the USPD was published by the KPD and discussed at public meetings, the members of the USPD said almost everywhere: ‘It is wrong that our headquarters has taken the road of mere negotiations and has not published this letter.’

Many of the USPD leaders are still looking out of the corner of their eyes at the Second International, and that is why they do not want to come straight away to the Communist International. This section has been afraid and is still afraid to declare its solidarity with Russia and the Communist International. The headquarters’ reply to the Moscow Executive finds fault in all sorts of ways with Moscow’s behaviour, not only with their letter but also with the politics that are pursued here. The Executive is reproached with trying to impose Moscow methods quite schematically on to other conditions. That means nothing other than rejecting solidarity with Russia, criticising – however timidly – the behaviour of the communists, and refusing to apply so-called purely Russian methods to Germany, and therefore rejecting pure communist tactics in general and trying to tread an opportunist path which basically means the negation of communism. The thing which most of all holds the Independents back from going to Moscow is the demand, clearly expressed and posed by the whole International, for the expulsion of the reformist elements in the USPD. They do not want this split within the USPD which is necessary. Through its headquarters t he USPD replied to Moscow that they would not allow this split to be imposed on them, that they regarded the demand for it as interference in relations within the German party and that they valued the unity of the party higher than purely communist tactics. This is pretty clearly expressed in the reply.

It follows from this that we have in the USPD a left wing and a right-wing; a right wing that is still based on bourgeois democracy and has only made certain verbal concessions to the dictatorship of the proletariat and a left wing that is, indeed, based on the dictatorship of the proletariat, but Which in practice makes continual concessions to the right wing, to bourgeois democracy. At the Leipzig conference even representatives of the left wing spoke out quite clearly against carrying the dictatorship of the proletariat to its logical conclusion. This also emerges from those parts of the letter that deal with the use of terror. Here too that contrast between force and terror is once again emphasised, a contrast which in reality does not exist and which is only posed artificially in order to be able to express in veiled terms the rejection of the Russian Party and the Communist International, in order not to declare solidarity with the revolution and the Communist International. When Comrade Radek says in his speech today that he hopes that the left will finally decide to adopt clear policies and reject the ideology of bourgeois democracy, then I must admit I do not share this hope. The left wing has adapted in practice to the policies of the right. We have an example of this at this Congress itself, for the speakers were not the representatives of the left but of the right Comrades Dittmann and Crispien. We have, it is true, heard that many sharp conflicts have occurred between the left and the right, but none of this is made public; the left wing renounces an open conflict in front of the broad masses. Even here at the Congress the representatives of the left have declared that they do not want a split in the party, and the same thing is expressed in the reply signed by Däumig and Stöcker.

If we put forward here the point of view that we put forward in Germany, that is to say that, in order to be communist, the USPD must split from the opportunist elements, then we do not do this for reason of party interests. The criticisms that are made within our party show that we do not flinch from speaking out ourselves about what we do wrong in order to correct it. If we criticise another party in the same way, then that does not happen in order to destroy the party as such, but in order to advance the revolutionary movement and to set the whole mass of the workers on the right road. The left wing that neglected to publish the Moscow Executive’s letter to the workers itself signed the reply to Moscow and hushed it up from the public. A certain arrogance speaks out of this letter, based on the electoral successes, on the great number of votes, and perhaps also on a certain fear of radical changes within the party if Moscow speaks directly to the masses of the USPD.

This is typical: the USPD does not lead the revolution, it runs after the masses. In 1918 the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils demanded collaboration with the Scheidemanns. The USPD obeyed and followed these immature sections of the masses. When in Moscow circles the coupling of the Councils with parliament was criticised, there too the USPD had an excuse: in that situation there was a danger that the Councils would be completely swept aside, and that was why such a compromise was necessary.

It is not possible, in the framework of a short speech, to go into every question in detail. But it is sufficient to point out a few details in order to see that we will have to be very careful over accepting this party. The condition for accepting the USPD is that it carries out a purely communist practice and does not flinch from expelling the reformists and opportunists. We in the KPD have no confidence that this practice can be achieved by the path of negotiations, but we are of the opinion that the masses of the USPD will find the road to Moscow on their own, and that from here we must enter into direct contact with the masses, more or less in the same way as happened with the Executive’s first letter. Nor do we think that the negotiations here will lead to any particular conclusion, but we want the Executive to turn directly to the masses of the Independents and tell them what we think of the USPD and that we expect not the committees of the USPD but the workers of the USPD to impose their will, that is to say, to tread the same path as communists all over the world, as the Russian communists, as Soviet Russia.

Wijnkoop: Many of the remarks that I wanted to make have already been made. I must say that if the vote had to be taken now the Executive’s proposal would be overwhelmingly defeated. We have heard people here who have put all the good arguments against the Executive’s proposal. At least, their arguments spoke against it; whether or not they themselves drew the necessary conclusions from them I do not of course know. No doubt we will now be told that if I and others vote against the Executive’s proposal it is because we are reckoning on the past and not on the masses. In this matter, however, I agree with what Comrade Radek said. He said that it was a fact that the masses of the USPD are moving towards revolution, that they are becoming more and more revolutionary. I agree with that. Comrade Meyer has explained very well that it is not true that the left-wing leaders of the USPD are leading the revolution or revolutionising the movement, but that they are running after the masses. This raises the question of how the work of revolutionising the masses is to be carried out, and on this I think that the road the Executive is taking is wrong. This way the work of revolutionising the masses that stand behind the USPD in Germany and the masses in other countries is not advanced but pushed back. That is my opinion. You should not tell me that I am not taking into consideration the masses that in fact stand behind this party. I am taking them into consideration, but I tell you that if the Executive of the Communist International gives fresh support to the bourgeois leaders of the German Independents and the French Socialists, these masses will be disillusioned once more in what the great revolution and the Communist International has already taught them. That is what our opposition is based on.

Other comrades have already spoken of the fact that the leaders in all these countries are applying the brake, always applying the brake. Only if we fight these gentlemen ruthlessly in every situation will we be able to defeat them. Then the masses will be freed for the revolutionary struggle. If concessions are made to them, in whatever way it may be, that will strengthen their own false conception and they will go back and carry on their work more boldly than before. Comrade Bombacci has told us of his experiences in Italy. He regrets his earlier weaknesses in this matter. He well knows that at that time he was too mild, but now he feels that he acted wrongly then, for as a result of his softness the party in Italy is not more but less revolutionary, and he feels that he must now tread the path that he did not then want to tread. He has judged correctly, and we in the International should learn from it.

The Swiss comrades have confirmed this experience. What is a piece of paper to an opportunist? He will sign it if he has to, and he will still do what he wants to do. He is always two-faced and speaks with two tongues. This is how they operate, these gentlemen in Switzerland, the Troelstras in Holland, the Cachins, the Crispiens and all the rest of them. To retain their influence on the masses they will sign anything and then carry on as they think fit. Of course I know the Executive will say to itself: ‘As the Executive we have a different power over them than the left leaders at home. Once they have signed we will be able to force them to keep to their pledges.’ That is a mistake. I agree completely with the Executive of the Communist International that much more discipline must be introduced, that the Executive must have more influence, that this must come and will come. But I am of the opinion that the Executive does not possess this influence today, and that simply by its willingness to make concessions it shows these gentlemen that it is not capable of really forcing them to take the path that, as revolutionaries, they must take. I must say that if we look at the results that have been achieved up to now we must realise how mistaken these tactics are.

This morning the French were severely criticised and the Independent gentlemen less severely, although they are worse. There is naturally no great difference between them, but the latter suffered only mild, and the Cachins much sharper, criticism. This is a result of the attitude of the Executive who have created a situation where the criticism of the KAPD against the KPD could not be heard here. We ought to have heard it here, but we have not heard it. The USPD say that we should also make friendly criticism of the Communist Parties. That is the best way to teach the masses what they have to do to their opportunist leaders, that is to say: chase them out. By concentrating all the criticism here on the USPD, on a reformist party, we have avoided hearing the criticism, not, it must be admitted, friendly, but good criticism of the KPD by the KAPD. Has the KPD always been in front of the masses? That is the question that must be posed and answered here. Now, however, in the presence of the USPD, it would be no good. We are not on our own, we are together with the socialist gentlemen who are in a government. But we should be on our own, and tell the truth. The Executive’s moves have prevented that.

This morning Comrade Serrati gave a good answer to the question why Turati remains in the Italian Party: because in this way he can make propaganda on his own behalf. And if we ask why these opportunists have come here now and let us pose questions to them, then Comrade Meyer has already emphasised that we get no clear answers from them. They are more shameless here than they are in Germany. That is precisely the reason why these gentlemen enter into negotiations here with the Communist International, because they want to make propaganda on their own behalf in the big Communist Party that must and will grow in Germany. As has been very well said by Comrade Meyer, we must go over the heads of these leaders to the masses to whom the reformist gentlemen want to go in order to spread among them their propaganda, which is so harmful to the revolution. They cannot say so. openly, but it is the truth. If they said so openly we would reply to them: ‘Thank you kindly, please go.’ That is why they must speak diplomatically.

This morning Comrade Zinoviev said something else that was very correct. He characterised the whole machinery of these Independents as philistine. It is precisely this philistine machine that we are trying to take over here. That will not do. We must stand on the principle that Comrade Radek has laid down. We should go to the masses. But then we cannot sort the matter out with the leaders in this way. I must point out that these gentlemen from the USPD and also Cachin and Frossard have been given a special position here. That is wrong, and something that will take its own revenge. Altogether two questions have been confused here. The question in general has been dealt with here as to what the conditions for entry to the Communist International should be like. That should be in the Theses, and in general I think that there are many good things in the Theses. It may be of course that something will yet be changed by this or that amendment. And there is the further question of what we want those parties to be like that already belong to the Communist International. People expect decisions on that from us communists, and these gentlemen should have no part in them. And nevertheless these gentlemen take part in the Commission to draw up these Theses!

The other main question that is up for discussion here is whether we continue to negotiate in this way with these gentlemen, yes or no. These questions have become confused. I have already said that the Executive has given these gentlemen a special position. I have already protested over this in the Commission, but it did no good. These gentlemen are together with us communists, they are here. I have nothing against individuals, but I have something against bourgeois leaders because history has shown us that these people can never shake off their old weaknesses. They can only be forced into a change of front by the masses; but that is achieved by means that are very different from those that are being tried here.

To wind up: this kind of behaviour by the Communist International will have a bad effect not only on Germany and France but all over the world. It will make a very bad impression on England and America. It will also make a very bad impression because it will be felt that the Communist International has here adopted a rightward orientation with the leaders of the Independents. There is no difference between Hilferding and Crispien, and although Hilferding has been attacked here, Crispien has not. How can the masses be revolutionised in all these countries? Only by refusing to stretch out a hand to treacherous parliamentarians, and that is what is being done here with the Independents and also Cachin. When Cachin returns to France, the masses, who have just learnt that parliamentary matters must be approached differently from the way the social democratic gentlemen previously approached them, will see that this new International is once more reaching compromises with the old leaders. The treacherous old parliamentarism will in this way become strong again, and the masses will feel that and turn away from us. It is wrong just to go by the numbers of the masses who nominally stand behind a party but who, in reality, have already come to us through the experience of the Communist International. I therefore hope that the negotiations with the leaders of these parliamentary parties will be broken off, that the Congress will not ratify the present tactics of the Executive, that all the means that we previously had in mind will be applied and a direct address made to the masses in France and Germany. This way, in any case, one of the next goals, the splitting off of the revolutionary sections of the old parties, will come about much more quickly.

Münzenberg: Comrades, I cannot understand how Comrade Wijnkoop can raise here as a reproach against the Executive the fact that the KAPD is pot represented. If it is not represented then that is solely the fault of its delegation. It was decided to allow them into the Congress with an advisory vote, and they were even given the prospect of presenting a minority report on all the points at issue. They did not take the opportunity, they did not appear at the Congress, they left the battlefield before the battle. I do not know what the members of the KAPD think of this, but by far the largest percentage of the German proletariat will be united in their condemnation of such a procedure, and the two comrades who have acted in this irresponsible manner have, in my mind, put themselves beyond the pale in the revolutionary movement in Germany.

Now on the question of the conditions of entry to the Communist International. The political events of the last year have brilliantly proved that the programme and the tactical guidelines of the First Congress of the Communist International in Moscow were correct, those tactics of which the Manifesto said: ‘If the First International predicted the development of the future and tried to find the paths it would take, and if the Second International rallied and organised the proletariat, then the Communist International is the International of open mass action, the International of revolutionary realisation, of the deed.’

Comrades, this method of revolutionary propaganda, of appealing directly to the revolutionary working masses themselves, ignoring the official party channels and institutions, mercilessly criticising every mistake the labour movement makes, has contributed enormously to the awakening and development of the subjective forces of the proletarian revolution in Western Europe. In my opinion the success of the Communist International in the last year lies not so much in today’s Congress as in the fact that, despite the pitiful organisation of the Communist Parties in the last year, and despite the firm boundary drawn on the right – the line was not drawn, as it is today, at Turati, Kautsky, Longuet and Grimm, but at Däumig and Nobs – hundreds of thousands of workers in Germany, Hungary and other states have, in the past year, fought and bled with weapons in their hands for the aims of the Communist International. That is the great practical success of revolutionary propaganda, and it is far more valuable for the proletarian revolution than the issue of a thousand new party cards. The influence of the Communist International on the German workers was so strong that, even when they were called out onto the streets by the USPD, it did not demonstrate in favour of the ideological content of that party, but in favour of the Communist International. The cry constantly rang out: ‘Long live Soviet Russia, Long live the Communist International, Long live the Proletarian Revolution!’

The same thing is expressed in the attitude of the workers in England, France and America. Even if it has not yet been possible to bring the masses to the point where, going over to the final revolutionary struggle, they have overthrown the bourgeoisie in these countries, they have nevertheless been morally so elevated that they will under any circumstances prevent a military invasion of Soviet Russia by their governments. The decisions recently taken by the most varied organisations who are striving for the rejection of the production and transport of munitions to Poland also testify to this. Admittedly, this is not all that the comrades there must demand, but it is the beginning of practical international solidarity. And it is important for that very reason, because the coming epoch of the proletarian revolution will be characterised by a series of revolutionary wars. The Polish war is only one link in the chain of military attacks that is being developed by the Entente and the nations that assist it on Soviet Russia.

Comrades, if we look over the past year of the development of communism, we have no reason to change our tactics and to put a question mark against the winning of great masses for living revolutionary actions for the sake of possible gains of party groups.

It has been said at a session of the Executive that the foundation of the Communist International was premature. I do not share this view, but I think that its boundaries have been extended prematurely. Comrade Zinoviev has already referred in his report to the various opportunist manifestations in the Italian Party, the Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Yugoslav Parties. There has been talk of the enemy within.

There is in addition the fact that in England, America and France there do not yet exist firm, strong and disciplined parties. The Socialist Party of Spain has now declared itself in favour of affiliation to the Communist International. Similarly the Swiss Party is trying to smuggle itself into the Communist International. If we take in addition the French Socialist Party and the USPD in their present composition, then I cannot get rid of the feeling that the Communist International faces a big danger, the danger that our revolutionary propaganda and action will run aground and be weakened. [Lenin: ‘Who wants to accept the USPD?'] The negotiations in the Executive show that. The fact that comrades who only a few weeks or even a few days ago were fighting the Communist International with every means at their disposal can today say that they are prepared to sign any conditions they are set is surely proof that the conditions are not severely and sharply enough formulated. At the present point in the revolutionary struggle it cannot only be a question of making propaganda for communism and founding communist parties, but of directly initiating revolutionary mass actions, thus contributing a rapid politicisation of the masses, their revolutionary education and the development of all the subjective revolutionary forces and, at the same time, piling up difficulties for moribund imperialism, sharpening the conflicts and thus working for a more rapid accomplishment of the proletarian revolution. It is this above all that must be demanded of those parties and organisations that want to become members of the Communist International. How important it is to follow the method of revolutionary mass action also emerges clearly from the report of the Executive Committee. It was the Executive Committee that stated in one of its manifestos that more thousands of Petrograd workers had to bleed because of the collapse of the international mass actions planned on July 21, 1919. The international actions planned for November 7, 1919 and on the anniversary of the death of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg failed in the same way. It is therefore absolutely necessary that strict conditions are laid down for all parties precisely in this respect.

The demands that have been laid down in relation to military preparations are also completely unsatisfactory. It is not enough to carry out propaganda in the bourgeois armies and form agitational cells. On the contrary the present situation of the bourgeoisie imperiously demands that everywhere, in every country, we go over to making the organisational and technical military arrangements for the last conflict with the bourgeoisie. I hand over to the Presidium two proposed amendments that correspond to this.

Lozovsky: The question of the acceptance of the centrist parties is one of the most serious questions facing the Congress. If we take the French Socialist Party as being typical of the parties that are at present developing towards communism, then we can see that this party is a very peculiar combination of different tendencies.

When Comrades Cachin and Frossard introduced themselves to the Executive Committee a series of questions was put to them. In particular they were asked what they would do with Albert Thomas, who is at present director of the Labour Office of the League of Nations, and whether they did not think it impossible to bring socialists of this ‘kind into the Communist International. Comrade Frossard officially answered that the case of Albert Thomas would be dealt with at the next party conference of the French Socialist Party.

The French Socialist Party includes centrist elements like Cachin and Frossard as well as bitter enemies of socialism, members of the League of Nations, in short, people who, in the course of the last few years, have fought every workers’ movement, revolutionary or trade union.

The French Socialist Party suffers from a disease that is not only opportunism, but which one can call ‘unity at any price’ regardless of with whom.

When in the Executive Committee Cachin and Frossard were posed the question of national defence, they avoided tying themselves down in the future. They would only give an ambiguous answer. This question is however essential; it is the pillar, the meaning of every communist movement, the foundation of the Communist International. It is obvious that even after the purge [Goldenburg: ‘They will not carry it out ‘I that will be carried out at the next Congress they will not join the Communist International. But it is on the French workers that the duty falls of coming to the Communist International on their own and leaving those leaders who cannot make up. their minds to do what is necessary outside the door.]

I should like to direct your attention to another essential point. If you read the Humanité you will see how they have fought (as Cachin says) against the Treaty of Versailles. It is a peculiar fight altogether and is all too reminiscent of a children’s game. It is true that the socialist members of parliament voted against the Treaty of Versailles. But you should know how. They confined themselves to protesting against certain articles in the Treaty and not against the Treaty of Versailles in its entirety.

There is another fact that we must establish. Here this morning Cachin read out a new declaration that bears no resemblance at all to the one he made a few days ago. Since he knows that this declaration will be published in France he has chosen words that are much less clear than those in the declaration he made eight days ago, when he was not faced with an immediate return to France.

This declaration, which avoids all the awkward questions, openly proves that the majority of the French Socialist Party, from the standpoint of ideas as much as from the standpoint of action, is incapable of working inside – the Communist International. In his declaration Cachin says not a word on the future tactics of the party. He passed over the question of the class struggle and the overthrow of capitalism in silence – a mere nothing, of course.

Among the Socialist Parties that have affiliated to the Communist International there has been much said from this rostrum about the Italian Socialist Party. I must emphasise that in this party Bolshevism and Menshevism rub shoulders.

If we were, however, to ask our Italian comrades whether Bolshevism and Menshevism can be united, they would surely answer in the negative. They would perhaps add that Italy has not yet entered its revolutionary period. But it was not the revolution that divided us from the Mensheviks in Russia. The abyss between us and them had been dug long before. And we , who have been through these experiences, can tell our Italian comrades: ‘Take good care! You will feel the blows of your opportunism during the revolutionary movement, at a vital moment, when the masses are already on the street.’

I remember on this occasion an unforgettable event that took place in Petrograd during the October Revolution. Negotiations were taking place between the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries with a view to common participation in the action. Do you know what the Mensheviks officially proposed to us? To disarm the workers and march the Cossacks into the workers’ districts! I know all about this because I took part in the negotiations. At that time I myself was an eager compromiser, and I was raging about the implacability of our comrades on the Central Committee. They, the Mensheviks, said to us: ‘If you disarm the workers we will guarantee that the workers will not be murdered.’ That is what our opportunists proposed!

And comrades, on the basis of our revolutionary experience, we are afraid that one day, during the decisive struggle that you will have to withstand, the opportunists in your own country will propose something similar to you.

Crispien: Comrades, we would like to answer briefly the question of why we are in Moscow and what we want here. I must, to be sure, say that this question appears really somewhat strange to me. We did not, of course, come to Moscow to see the town but, as we informed the Executive Committee quite officially, as a result of an invitation in the course of the written correspondence that we had with the Executive Committee in order, in accordance with the decision of our party conference, to negotiate here in Moscow with the Communist International about unification with our party. I shall also explain in my remarks why, in my opinion, we had to choose the path of negotiations.

Allow me first of all to say a few words about our party.

From everything that has been said here I can hear that the comrades from abroad are informed neither about German conditions in general nor about party conditions in particular. It is known that the German Social Democracy too simply abdicated at the outbreak of the war. It may however be less well known that from that hour onwards there were also comrades present within the old Social Democracy who, unswervingly and unhesitatingly, immediately made a front against the old party and against the war, not only through protests, not only through resolutions, but also through very difficult practical work during the four war years. Please just imagine: A mighty party that for decades had drawn into its sphere of influence the most advanced part of the German working class – there were a million members in the old Social Democracy, 2 1/2 million members in the trades unions – and in addition the great mass of indifferent workers caught up in the war fever, in addition the military dictatorship, then you can form a picture of what it meant, and how difficult it was, to hold high the flag of socialism in this situation. It was a small handful which then, by the distribution of illegal literature and Spartakus Letters ... [Cry from Fuchs: ‘Who?']

[The Spartakus Letters were issued from December, 1914 by the left wing of German Social Democracy which opposed the war. At first duplicated, they were later printed and appeared regularly under the title ‘Politische Briefe (Spartakus). Leo Jogiches was in charge of production and the principal contributors were Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Franz Mehring and Julian Karsky. On New Year’s Day, 1916, the group formed its own organisation, the Spartacus League, which was to become the basis for the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1919. Spartacus was the leader of a Roman slave revolt.]

We were there too. The comrades will confirm that I for example was also involved in that. [Cry from Walcher: ‘You were not in favour of the Working Group then!'] I am talking now about the start of the war, and ask whether you can deny that I did my duty as a revolutionary socialist. [Walcher agrees.]

Even during the war we staged mass actions against the war. It was not only the masses that bled and made sacrifices, but also the ‘notorious traitors’, the ‘rascals’, the leaders, who are sitting among you today, who also took part in the mass actions and had to pay for it, like all the other proletarians, against whom all the well-known punishments to which capitalism condemns every revolutionary proletarian were used. An opposition rallied more and more around this little handful of social democrats who fought against the war, and it is understandable that in the process elements came into the opposition that did not fundamentally reject war in general and oppose national defence, but were opposed to the war for some other reason. This was natural and understandable, and in this difficult struggle we had neither the time nor the opportunity to show the workers the correct path in big meetings to clarify the issue. We were not even allowed to meet, we were persecuted, had to work underground and could not approach the masses. Those comrades in parliament who had at first submitted to party discipline came out in writing in favour of the class struggle even during the war. Then came the collapse of the war. That gave us the opportunity to come out into the open. [Fuchs: ‘You came out against Liebknecht.’ Dittmann: ‘I shall refute that.'] Comrade Dittman, who was in parliament, says that he will answer that.

When the war was ended by the uprising of workers and soldiers, the German proletariat was suddenly faced with an enormous task.

That it was not solved in a socialist sense by the proletariat is because, in the first place, it was not possible to shape and drive on the great action of the workers and soldiers to a conscious proletarian and revolutionary action. That is one of the main reasons. You should not make the question so simple and think that some leaders betrayed the cause, and that was why it collapsed. [Interjection: ‘You were against the dictatorship’.] The dictatorship of the proletariat is not some new discovery by the Communist International, it was already in the programme of the old socialist party. It said there that the conquest of political power by the working class is the precondition for the realisation of socialism. That is an old Marxist principle. Whether it was followed in practice by the Social Democracy is another matter. As social democrats, we too were in favour of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The fact that it could not be introduced immediately after the end of the war was because no force existed upon which it could be based. The Soldiers’ Councils offered it no basis, the majority of them were not revolutionary socialists. They were not so far advanced, for it was only at the outbreak of the revolution that we were able to approach the masses. And then the process of clarification, of orientation, began, for our party as well. At the party conference in March we took up an attitude towards the situation, and even then we quite clearly articulated and formulated the dictatorship of the proletariat in our programme. [Interjection: ‘Institutionalisation of the Council system.']

[During the German Revolution of 1918-19 Councils of Workers, Soldiers, Sailors and in some areas Peasants were set up. Taking over certain governmental functions in the post-war breakdown they were embryonic organs of dual power. Owing to the lack of leadership and the betrayals of the Social-Democrats, who fought to restore the bourgeois state in co-operation with the army, the Councils became increasingly ineffective and in the course of 1919 they disappeared or were dissolved. However, in the discussions at Weimar, preceding the drawing up of the new Constitution, there was talk of representation of producers through the institution of Industrial Workers’ and Employees’ Councils and in the final document provision was made for such bodies. In practice these councils proved to be harmless organs of class collaboration concerned mainly with social welfare.]

As early as then we too were emphasising that parliament does not bring us socialism, that it is only a weapon that the proletariat needs in its struggle. In the midst of the great confusion of historical development no single party has ever stepped onto the stage as pure as an angel, and moved without guilt and error. I should like to say to you that he who stands in the middle of the white heat of the political struggle can always be criticised. It is very easy. The criticisms of the communists towards us are repeated towards the communists in Germany by the KAPD in full measure. In your eyes we are traitors, in the eyes of the KAPD you are traitors to the working class. You cannot deny that our party developed between March and Leipzig, and that at Leipzig it undertook a clearer formulation of our programme, and I should like to draw your attention to the fact that this took place under the guidance of precisely those ‘infamous leaders’. These leaders put the programme forward. It was not forced on us by the masses, but submitted to the conference and defended by the then party leadership. We in the party leadership acted honestly and honourably in accordance with the party’s decisions. We have had mass actions in Germany, in many cases in common with the German communists. If we are accused of vacillation in our policies and tactics, I would like to say that we can direct the same accusation against the German communists, who once spoke out against parliamentarism and are now in favour of it. The KPD has vacillated on many questions, and if you were to look into your own eyes you would see beams enough there.

It is said that the masses are different from the leaders, the traitors, that we have here. All we need now is for Wijnkoop to call us police agents. You are making a big mistake if you think that the tactic of blackening the leaders here at the Congress in the hope of turning the masses from us is going to make any impression in Germany. You have to go to the masses with facts in Germany. The German comrades and workers have known us for decades, and they would not elect us to responsible positions again and again if we were traitors. In your opinion the masses of the Independents are communist, and it was these communist USPD masses that elected themselves the leaders whom you are trying to tear down. Something must be wrong with your calculations. If you think you are going to play off the masses against the leaders of the party, your tactics will not lead to success. We discuss this in Germany, and we have no fear of coming off the worst in Germany.

And now your excitement about our letter. Why are you suddenly as sensitive as a virgin? We received a sharp letter from the Executive. We did not weep and say that we would turn the other cheek, but we answered it clearly and set down what we thought without beating around the bush. We did not say, as Comrade Zinoviev thinks, that only the right wing leaders were in conflict with the masses. In its letter to us the Executive says that the whole leadership stands in contradiction to the masses, and the politics of the masses are determined by the right-wing leaders of the USPD. To my surprise I find that here I am counted in with the right-wing leaders. You can say that here in Moscow, but you could not say so in Germany. The policies of our party are determined by the party conference and the decisions are taken by the party comrades. Those who do not want to carry out the decisions cannot join the party leadership; they are not elected. Radek says that in Lucerne I spoke in favour of the League of Nations. That is an error. I spoke against the League of Nations in Lucerne. [Interjection from Radek.] Comrade Radek, I do not know if you have a copy of the text of my speech. I spoke against the League of Nations there. As early as the winter of 1918 I wrote in our paper that the League of Nations was not a league of nations but an instrument of the capitalist government for the oppression of nations. I said it then and I stand by this point of view now. I protested against the League of Nations. We went to Lucerne because we thought it important to unmask the right-wing German socialists in front of the international proletariat. It was surely not a crime for us to assume that German conditions were not sufficiently well known abroad, and that the right-wing socialists could easily have made capital out of it in order to capture other nations for their ideas. We declared that the Second International cannot be resurrected and that historically speaking it is finished.

If I wrote in my pamphlet that the foundation of the Moscow International was premature then I say that I am still convinced of this today. Comrade Radek should have read on to see why I said that the Moscow International had been founded too early. I explained in my pamphlet that the foundation of a new International must be preceded by a clarification of the workers in every country. The workers must be clear on the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat and on the international class struggle, and when they have become clear in their own country they can play an international role. Comrade Zinoviev’s speech proves that that is not such a bad thing at all. Who, anyway, is called and chosen for the Communist International? The Russian Communists are the only ones who were not criticised. Apart from them there was not a single affiliated party that escaped criticism. And the same leaders of those very parties that were criticised here are trying to outlaw the evil Independents in Germany. They completely overlook the fact that we split from the right-wing socialists, that we did not baulk at the split when it was historically inevitable.

But splits are not something to undertake lightly. I can imagine a situation where a split is necessary. The proof of that is the USPD in Germany. But that is a bitter necessity. Before splitting, one should try to win the workers for a fundamentally clear attitude. For that one needs time and patience. It is much easier to split the workers than it is to win them and hold them together for the revolution in Germany. It is one of the greatest tragedies that in Germany the whole left wing of the workers is split into three or four parties, the USPD, the KPD, the KAPD and the Workers’ Union that there has been propaganda for recently. That is very damaging for the German movement, for the world proletarian revolution and particularly for the International. What we need is an International that is capable of acting, and that requires that we must organise the workers in a firmly united way. Otherwise we will not be able to carry out any international action at all. It all depends on holding the masses together and bringing them onto the basis of the proletarian revolution, if they do not stand on it already.

It is true that at Leipzig I opposed immediate affiliation to Moscow. Why? Well, comrades, at the First Congress in Moscow it was decided to annihilate the USPD, to destroy it, to wear it down, to abolish it from the world. You will be able to understand that a representative of a party that is to be annihilated may wish first of all to have a discussion with the comrades that want to do that in the hope of bringing about a negotiated unification. We were not against unification, but we were in favour of first of all abolishing the hostile decisions against us. You cannot beat somebody and then expect him to say: ‘I am your friend because you have beat me.’ These are all things that you must understand and grasp. [Interjections.] As far as signing the peace treaty is concerned, the masses in Germany stood foursquare behind our party on this question. At that time it was the struggle against chauvinism in Germany, and we were glad that for once nationalism was forced back. The German nationalists wanted to turn the question of peace into a nationalist and chauvinist witches’ sabbath. [Interjection from Walcher: ‘You helped them out of their difficulty.'] That is nonsense. Germany had been so weakened by the war that if the blockade had been reimposed the impoverishment of the masses in Germany would have been even more fearful. We thought that the question was to make the masses better able to fight, to bring them up to the highest possible standard of living in a continual fight against the tendency of capitalism towards impoverishment. It is not the completely impoverished layers down to the lumpenproletariat who stand in the front rank, they will not make the revolution, but those layers of workers who can keep their standard of living relatively high. Thus the accusations against us concerning the signing of the peace treaty are also unjustified.

Now the question of force and terror. We are of the opinion that these are two different things. We cannot renounce force if we wish to fight for the dictatorship. Where force is applied it will under some circumstances happen that here and there people are hurt who should have been spared if we had been able to examine carefully their guilt or their innocence. But to say now, before we have the power, that we must apply terror as a political principle, we must set up a reign of terror, is different from saying that we cannot renounce the use of force. Our standard for the use of force is what we are forced to do under the circumstances obtaining at the time.

I can say that we have never slandered the Bolsheviks; even more, I can say that I have always felt myself to be in solidarity with the Russian comrades. When the communists in Nuremberg were accused of taking money from the Russians, I stated that I would be proud to do so as it would have been an act of international solidarity. We have always fought for the Bolsheviks and explained that they must carry out a hard fight, and we have no right to disparage them. [Interjection: ‘Kautsky.'] Kautsky, certainly, he criticised you, but he does not determine the party leadership. That is a big mistake. [Interjection: ‘Ledebour.'] Ledebour never disparaged the Bolsheviks either. You are wrong. Ledebour fought openly for the party without regard for his life. He thinks that you cannot establish terror as a political principle.

I should just like to say here that our friends in Russia are also opportunist sinners, that accuse us of not supporting their demands in the agrarian question. On this question we said the following in our reply:

‘As far as the agrarian question is concerned we find that to our amazement the Executive Committee recommends to the revolutionary proletariat of Germany methods that signify a relapse into petty-bourgeois ways of thinking that have long since been overtaken. Thus we are recommended to make it clear to the small peasants that the proletariat, immediately after the seizure of power, will improve their situation at the expense of the expropriated big landlords, liberate them from the yoke of the big landlords, give the big estates to them as a class, free them from debt, etc. This proposal means nothing other than the rejection of our Marxist conception according to which the big estates should immediately be socialised and worked m common. Instead of that the small peasants are now to be told that they can keep the big estates, that they will be freed from debt, etc. That means the abandonment of the interests of the proletariat in favour of the peasants. It means willy-nilly transferring conditions in Russia, where the land has been given to the peasants, to Germany, whose social and economic development could be most seriously prejudiced by such a measure.’

Do you think that it would be revolutionary for Germany if we gave the land to the small peasants? [Walcher: ‘In order to bring the small peasants to our side.'] You will not bring them to our side by opportunist means. The big landowners must be expropriated and the estates must be farmed on a co-operative basis, and not divided among the rural labourers and small peasants. We must make them ripe for the co-operative farming of the land for society.

Comrade Meyer has asked what we have done in order to bring about unification. I believe that Comrade Meyer has read our official report on this subject. What have we done? We have worked tirelessly to get together with Moscow. Finally, after four months, we received an answer when we were in the middle of preventing a military putsch, we were in an election campaign, and immediately afterwards went to Moscow. That we come together with other parties was the decision that the party conference gave us to take with us, and we have to carry out decisions the party has taken. We avoided holding an international conference with other parties. We wanted to give Moscow the first chance.

It is not true that Koenen in Switzerland said that we are forming a new International. We said that if Moscow rejects us then we must consider what is to happen next. Should we allow ourselves to be excluded from international politics? Do you think it possible for so big a movement as the USPD represents not to be active internationally? To be sure, you communists from Germany have called us dead ever since we were born as a party. Your hopes that we will soon be dead do not worry us any more.

I should like also to say that, in general, I feel the lack of any thinking about historical development in the discussions. Many comrades think that Marxism came into the world all of a sudden with the Communist International, and that now something quite new is present. That is not correct. The First International that was founded in the faith that the proletarian revolution would follow on immediately after the bourgeois revolution, that was attuned to the immediate realisation of socialism, ceased to exist for the reasons that Comrade Zinoviev indicated. What emerged, and what Marx said, was that at that time the proletariat itself lacked the preconditions for the taking and the holding of political power, and that the first thing that came into question was to organise the proletariat and develop in the proletariat the abilities necessary for the fight for the conquest of political power. Those were the historical tasks of that epoch that was dominated by the Second International. Today, the preconditions for the fight for the conquest and maintenance of power are also present in the working class, just as today the conditions for socialism are present in capitalist society. We are now in the epoch when what counts is the seizure of political power. In Russia it has already been seized. I hope that it will very soon be possible to seize it in other countries also. Thus it is necessary to appreciate the development through which the working class has passed in order to see that the Communist International is building on where their predecessors in previous epochs have stopped. If then the parties that are still rightwing socialist today have not recognised their tasks, they will have to pay for that with their collapse and destruction. We have recognised that, we are acting in accordance with it, and in Germany we are carrying out revolutionary policies. I make this claim with complete emphasis, and we can also back it up at any time from the documents.

Formulate your answer as you will, we are striving honestly, we desire honestly, to set up a common front with the Communist International. You cannot deny us our revolutionary convictions, conceptions and activity. We still remain revolutionaries, however much we are suspected of being opportunists. judge as you will; we will not cease to apply all the forces at our disposal in Germany in the future for the proletarian world revolution. But if you give us an answer that the German proletariat that stands in our ranks will receive with joy, then so much the better for the setting up of an international proletarian front.

Dittmann: Comrades, pure coincidence gives me the floor immediately after my friend Crispien. I beg you not to draw from that the conclusion, as has been insinuated by Comrade Wijnkoop, that we intend to act even more impudently here than we do in Germany.

[Amusement.] It really is a pure coincidence that we follow one another on the list of speakers.

We have been accused, particularly Crispien and myself, with not having fought for immediate, direct affiliation to the Communist International. The same people that have accused us of this have also recounted a whole register of sins that they think they have to reproach us with in order to prove that we are not worthy to be accepted into the Communist International. I think that there is a great contradiction here, and it does justify the decision our party took in Leipzig to negotiate with the Communist International in order to find out whether unification or a unified common front is possible or not. It was for this purpose that we have come here now, and we were given the Action Programme on which our Leipzig party conference decided as the basis for our negotiations. This Action Programme – I assume you are familiar with it – has taken as its basis the conquest of political power by the proletariat, the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the soviet system, clearly and frankly, and I do not think that many of the parties whose representatives here have criticised us Independents can show a programme that is so clear and unambiguous on precisely these decisive points as ours is.

Comrades, after what my friend Crispien has explained here I do not want to go any further into these general questions. I asked for the right to speak above all in order to reject some of the accusations that have been made by some of the speakers in the course of the debate.

I must concern myself particularly with Comrade Radek. He raised above all two accusations against the Independents whose representatives belonged to Germany’s first revolutionary government. He has accused the USPD that its representatives at that time rejected the symbolic action of the Russian proletariat in offering two train-loads of corn. And he further criticised the fact that the USPD at that time prevented diplomatic relations between the Germany of the first weeks of the revolution of November 1918 and Soviet Russia from being restored. I know that Comrade Radek is among those foreign comrades who know conditions in Germany better than any other foreign comrades. But nevertheless it very often shows that he does not know conditions in Germany thoroughly enough to be able to give a really authoritative verdict.. I do not say that as a reproach here, but in order to establish the facts. Nor do I know a single person in this room who has mastered conditions in every country with such a universal spirit that he would be able, in any given situation, to establish the necessary political guidelines according to which the proletariat has to march at each point in each country in order to serve the revolution best. That is beyond any human power. That is why I do not say what I say as a reproach. He who wants to judge the conditions that obtained in Germany in November and December 1918 cannot be satisfied with being given a variety of facts by some of the comrades when he comes to Germany. He cannot believe that he can reach an absolutely accurate verdict on the basis of these facts.

What was it like? When Germany suffered a military collapse on the battlefield there was also an economic collapse inside the country. The people had collapsed physically and morally. It was immediately faced with the acute danger of actual starvation. That was what the situation was like in Germany. Despite everything that had happened, the German militarists would not have given up the game for lost in October 1918 had it not been declared from a responsible source that our corn supplies would only last until the beginning of January 1919. That was the end; after that the people would starve.

That was what it was like, and the government which at that time took the reins in its hands had to keep in mind that it had to take care to prevent the people from dying of acute starvation and that, by the time all the supplies at hand had been consumed, corn would have to be obtained from no matter where, even the moon. Nobody could have assumed responsibility for carrying out a policy that would have exposed the whole people to starvation. It was in this situation that the telephone conversation between Radek and Haase on the Hughes Apparatus came. What was Comrade Haase’s reply? I could have wished that Radek had given Haase’s full answer. He declared: ‘We see in this offer an act of solidarity of the Russian with the German proletariat. We see international solidarity symbolised in it. But we know that Russia is also suffering from starvation, and insofar as the supplying of Germany comes into question, America has already agreed to supply enough corn to Germany to make it possible to continue the present level of rations until the new harvest.’ This is what Comrade Haase stated at the time to Comrade Radek on the telegraph. And I would like to ask: where is the abandonment of the international solidarity of the proletariat here?

Comrade Haase acted completely correctly when he stated that we knew that you needed corn yourselves and that, on the other hand, we knew that we would be supplied with corn. So you could keep the corn for yourselves. Did the value of the offer fie in the fact that the trains actually set out? The offer’s value lay in the fact that it was made. That was enough to prove solidarity, and if Haase said that we saw in that an act of solidarity and that we were grateful for it, then that was appropriate in the given situation, and I do not see how Comrade Radek can accuse us for this action of having fallen victim to Wilsonism because we as a government accepted corn from America.

From whom else then should we in Germany have received corn in order to protect our people from starvation, if not from the only country in the world that was then in a position to supply corn to our half-starved people? We can think what we like about America, but America supplied the corn, and not only corn, but other food as well.

And now the expulsion of the Russian Embassy. I think it was on November 4 or 5, 1918 that the government of Prince Max of Baden, the last Imperial Chancellor of the Wilhelmine regime, decided to expel the Russian Embassy from Berlin, allegedly because Joffe was abusing his position as Ambassador by carrying out revolutionary propaganda in Germany. That is why the German Imperial government expelled him. When the German revolution broke out, Comrade Joffe was waiting on the German-Russian frontier. There were still some formalities to be finalised in relation to crossing the frontier; that is why he was waiting there. In this situation, telegrams were sent to Berlin by Comrade Joffe as soon as he knew that the revolution had broken out in Germany and that there were Independents in the government. He sent a telegram to Comrade Haase, and Haase immediately stated in the Council of Peoples Commissaries – that was the name of the government of the day, whose member I was together with Haase and Barth – that we Independents were all three of the opinion that Joffe should be called back immediately. That was the position that we adopted straight away, but the right-wing socialists, supported by the Foreign Minister, Solf, told us there could be no question of it. [Interjection from Walcher: ‘The minutes tell a different story.'] I am coming to the minutes. just let me explain things; I know more about it than anyone else here because I was one of those involved. Then Solf, and with him Landsberg, Scheidemann and Ebert, declared that it was immaterial whether Joffe had tried to support the revolution in Germany or whether he had carried out reactionary propaganda; as an Ambassador, they said, he had to avoid interference in the internal relations of the country under all circumstances. In vain we emphasised that this was a formalistic point of view, which we as revolutionaries, could not support; that Joffe had acted in the interests of the German and the world revolution, and that we felt ourselves to be in solidarity with him, and had to insist that he return as Ambassador. We fought this question out not just once but a number of times. [Interjection from Wolfstein: ‘Vote!'] The Council of Peoples’ Commissars was composed of three right-wing socialists and three Independents. Thus we could have prevented the right wingers from getting a decision through to expel Joffe from Berlin had that not already happened, but we lacked the majority to get through the positive motion to bring Joffe back. It was three against three, and it was impossible for us to have Joffe brought back to Germany. – You clapping there behind me on the platform doesn’t prove a thing. You can’t ask anybody to do more than fight for what he can get through. If you want to interrupt me in this way I shall wait, since it is difficult for me to make myself understood.

What could they ask of us in a situation like that? Only what we could achieve, and we went as far as was possible. We declared however that we would return to the matter, that it had not been settled as far as we were concerned, and we took it up again at every suitable opportunity. But this was rendered very difficult for us precisely by Comrade Radek’s behaviour. One day Comrade Haase said to me in great excitement: ‘You know Comrade Radek; can you imagine that such a clever man could do something so stupid. I have just had a call from Moscow on the Hughes apparatus’ – that is an apparatus that writes out the message simultaneously, so that it is impossible to hold a conversation free from eavesdropping on such an apparatus, a fact that Comrade Radek also doubtless knows, and ought to have made him be careful about what he was saying – ‘and Radek said that a delegation would come to Germany to the first Congress of Soviets, and that at the same time the delegation would bring with it people with foreign language skills who would have the job of going to the Prisoner of War Camps in Germany to carry on propaganda among the English and French prisoners.’ [Cries of ‘Bravo’. Interjection from Radek: ‘Terrible!’] I greet that as a revolutionary socialist, but it is a different matter to inform a government officially, and at the same time officials that are opposed to the revolution, that the intention exists to send agents into the prisoner of war camps to carry on revolutionary propaganda there. That means in other words informing the entire bourgeois world in Germany of the fact, and also taking care to inform the Entente, the same Entente with which the German government was forced to conclude a four week armistice. If the German government had approved of it, the Entente would obviously have interpreted this propaganda as a breach of the armistice. Therefore there was nothing else for Haase to do but to answer Radek on the machine that there could be no question of us agreeing to this offer. Radek thereupon stated that he renounced it. [Interjection from Levi and Radek: ‘And so?’] Your ‘and so’ proves nothing since the offer had been made, it was known in the Foreign

Ministry and it was known to Solf and the bourgeois officials we had to reckon with. [Interjection from Radek: ‘Why did you not throw them out?’] I am the last person to condemn the carrying out of revolutionary propaganda, but we must take some account of the circumstances and understand the situation as it existed. We do not need to fall out over what we want.

As a result of this a situation was created for us Independents in the cabinet that made extraordinarily difficult our efforts to have relations with Soviet Russia resumed, for Landsberg, Scheidemann and Ebert, not forgetting Solf, immediately told us: ‘There you can see what we are to expect if this embassy comes back. They will create the greatest complications with the Entente, they will create a breach of the armistice now, when our troops are being brought back from the left bank of the Rhine. The Entente will march in after them, and Germany will be occupied.’ That was a situation that nobody could conjure up at that time if he did not want to turn the whole mood of the country in Germany against himself, even among working class circles; you should be clear about that. And when Solf and the others repeated that there could be no question of Joffe returning there was nothing left for us to do but to shelve the matter for the time being. We did not want to let it drop. We still hoped we would have an opportunity to get it through despite everything, and it was from this situation that arose the minutes that Vorwärts published once. But the paper avoided publishing the other minutes, from which everything that I have explained here would have emerged very clearly. [Interjection from Walcher and Radek: ‘Barth has confirmed it.'] I was not so discourteous as to quote Barth. He expresses himself in very discourteous terms about you, my dear Comrade Radek. I assume you have seen an extract that was printed in Vorwärts. In his book on the other hand Barth says: ‘The right-wing socialists came with a cable from Radek in which he proclaimed a joint fight on the Rhine against the capitalist Entente. This stupid phrase was a great piece of stupidity and did the worst possible damage to the world revolution.’ That is how Barth expressed himself. You would have done better not to have quoted Barth. I can also read out the piece about Joffe, who is supposed to have given Haase and Barth money for the revolution. The book says about this: ‘I must say that Joffe’s cable was worse than stupid; if I too had named names, those comrades would now surely no longer be alive; the counter-revolution would have murdered them.’ With the greatest efforts on my part, I have been unable to find a single place in Barth’s entire pamphlet that has anything good to say about you, Comrade Radek. I only found the two extracts which I would not have quoted if you had not interrupted me.

Meanwhile we left the government and we are not responsible for what happened afterwards. We always came out publicly in favour of resumption not only of diplomatic but also of economic relations with Soviet Russia. just recently we proposed another motion of that kind in the Reichstag. Comrades Stöcker and Crispien have been entrusted with the task of proposing this motion in parliament. In it we adopt the point of view that of course relations between Soviet Russia and Germany have to be resumed. Quite recently, when the Polish imperialists began their campaign of robbery against Soviet Russia, our party staged a mighty demonstration under the slogan: ‘Hands off Russia! Restore peaceful relations with Russia!’ I do not know whether those comrades who are always receiving reports and information about the Independents, according to which we are hostile towards Soviet Russia, know all these things. I should like to think that they do not know these things. Otherwise they could not have reached the verdict on the Independents that has been expressed here.

A word in conclusion. A whole series of speakers have expressed the opinion that in their view, apart from some other parties, our party too should not be let into the Communist International as it is not revolutionary. My friend Crispien has shown in broad outline how false this accusation is, and if we had the opportunity to unfold the whole history of our party since the German revolution before you, many of you would surely change your verdict on our party. An honourable man would have to change it. Convince yourselves: 5 million people do not vote for a party against which the papers of the Communist Party raise the accusations that have been raised here and a hundred others unless they themselves have been able to form a judgement on whether these accusations are justified. We won our positions in the hardest fight against the majority socialists and the bourgeoisie. We can claim on our behalf that the masses of the revolutionary proletariat in Germany stand behind the Independent Party, and we have come to Moscow because we know that the world revolution is advancing and that it is necessary for the proletariat of every country to march in a unified common front and to try to defeat capitalism, and not, as you say, in response to the pressure of the masses. We ourselves are workers and proletarians, we are workers in our origins and our upbringing, we have been in the labour movement for more than a quarter of a century. Our whole existence is absorbed in the movement and we stood our ground in the darkest days of the war, flinched from no sacrifice, and even stood up against the executioners of the capitalist class state. If here one is put down as somebody who lacks all revolutionary feeling, one has a right to point out the scars one has received in the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat.

And if you want the same thing as us, to bring together the proletariat of Russia and of Germany, and beyond them the proletariat of the whole world, united and in closed ranks, then endeavour as seriously as we have endeavoured to find in the negotiations that are to come a way that will enable us to come together soon and carry on the common fight against capitalism to the benefit of the entire world proletariat.

Rosmer: It is 1.00 a.m. The session is closed.

 

 

Seventh Session
July 30





Serrati opens the session.





Zinoviev: I should like to inform you that a discussion on the trade union question has been planned for tomorrow, not only for the Commission but for all those comrades who are interested in the trade union question. Details can be obtained from Comrade Steinhardt. The meeting has been planned for ten o'clock tomorrow morning. Although we have already asked you on several occasions to hand in written reports to us as quickly as possible, we have as yet only received a small number of reports. We urgently ask every delegation to do this by Monday at the latest. We have to send them to be printed. Those who have not handed in their reports by Monday must accept the fact that their reports will not be printed.

Radek: This arrangement on Comrade Steinhardt’s part means a disruption of the Commission. We have been sitting there discussing for three days. The discussion should reach a conclusion. If we meet as a body tomorrow we will be starting the general discussion of the full session of the Congress anew, and the Trade Union Commission will never be able to come forward with a report that reflects its conceptions. If Comrade Steinhardt and other comrades feel the need to talk about the trade union question, not in a full session of the Congress but in an enlarged group, then they should choose a day when the work of the Trade Union Commission has been completed.

Steinhardt: A big misunderstanding exists on Comrade Radek’s part. What we wanted was for the comrades in Russia to give us information on the role of the trades unions in the process of production and on the changes that have taken place in the process of production in the last three years so that we can form an accurate picture of the movement in those three years. [Interjection from Walcher: ‘That is what the full session is for!'] No, that is not true. Not all of the comrades are interested in this particular question. It is not a question that is linked to any particular part of the agenda. We must choose a day when there is no full session of the Congress. We could take the Saturday when the women’s conference is being held. We need not fear that the work of the Trade Union Commission will be disrupted in this way. [Interjection from Walcher: ‘You have no authorisation!'] We are not in Germany now, Comrade Walcher, and I do not need any authorisation, least of all from Comrade Walcher. It is my sense of duty that gives me authorisation and not the Prussian authorities. I shall discuss it with Comrade Lozovsky and if a number of comrades show interest we will set a date. If Comrade Walcher is not interested in this he does not need to be there. Perhaps he is only interested in political questions.

Zinoviev: I would like to propose a procedural motion that we close this discussion. Comrade Steinhardt can get together with some comrades and set a date.



The motion is carried.



Rakovsky: I shall take the liberty of spending some time on the French comrades’ declaration that Comrade Cachin read out. But first I should like to say a few words about the question that Comrade Dittmann raised yesterday, that is to say on the Russian embassy in Berlin. I shall confine myself to an evaluation of the facts.

The attitude of the so-called revolutionary movement in Germany was much more serious than has been depicted. It was not merely a question of expelling the Russian embassy from Berlin. On the contrary, the government of Haase and of Kautsky, who was then in charge of foreign affairs, intended to bring about a complete breach with Russia.

They did not even have the power and the authority to allow the Russian embassy that was arrested in Berlin and wanted to go to Austria to travel to Vienna. While the Russian mission to Berlin was held up for ten days in Borissov under the surveillance of German soldiers and officers and diplomatic emissaries of the Imperial Government, some petty Count usurped our functions until the end of our imprisonment. None of the telegrams we sent to Berlin was answered.

Yesterday we heard Comrade Dittmann’s declaration. He said that if they refused the Russian corn, the corn that had already reached the frontier of Germany, then this only happened because they could not accept this great responsibility, but for all that they did not disparage this display of solidarity by the Russians. He said that they had been unable to bring about the return of the Russian embassy to Berlin despite all their efforts. Comrade Dittmann could well have added that they were not even able to let the Russian embassy through to Vienna, an embassy that was already recognised by Victor Adler’s Austrian government, for the very simple reason that the Independents formed a minority in the government. The majority consisted of the bourgeoisie or right-wing socialists; none of the demands of the independent socialists was satisfied. But that is not the question. Basically, all I can see in what Comrade Dittmann said is a historic repetition of what all of us already know. The question is to know whether they have drawn the logical conclusions from this ministerial collaboration, to know that socialists can never impose their will in a bourgeois government. This is well known and has been of old, and that is also one of the reasons why we are against ministerial collaboration and class collaboration. Moreover, I failed to perceive in comrade Dittmann’s speeches a single word of regret over the fact that the Independents participated in the government of Scheidemann and Ebert and thus betrayed the interests of the German working class and the Russian Revolution. Comrade Dittmann took a certain pleasure in reading out a document that contains the text of a telegram from Comrade Radek; I do not know whether the content was accurately reproduced.

Radek: It does not exist.Rakovsky: Even if this telegram does exist! Whether or not it ever had a material existence, every revolutionary was conscious of the fact that the Germany that had just thrown off the yoke of Wilhelm II, the Germany that had undergone a proletarian revolution, this new Germany would fight together with Soviet Russia against the Entente. Yes, that is a fact which to this very day the Independents have not understood, tell us as they may that they found themselves in an extraordinarily difficult situation in Germany, conditioned by the famine and the high mortality rate in the country. In order to save Germany they joined a government in which, as they should have known in advance, they had, like the majority socialists, to be the servants of the German bourgeoisie and the capitalist Entente. And in order to justify themselves they keep saying the same thing: ‘We had no bread.’

But if this is a serious justification it should also have served as a means of proving the majority party and the bourgeoisie wrong. They should have told the bourgeoisie: ‘We do not want to take power, but unless you want to accept responsibility for leaving Germany without bread you should hand over power to the German workers.’

A proletarian government must be created in Germany. But the way you accept the validity of the bourgeoisie’s arguments when bread is short leads you to approving the old theory of ministerial collaboration. Until now we have heard almost the same arguments m Britain, France, Russia and everywhere. At a given moment the bourgeoisie finds itself in a difficult position. Then it turns to the working class and says: ‘Share the responsibilities of power with us.’ But it seems to me that when the bourgeoisie is in a difficult position then the precise moment has come to back the bourgeoisie against the wall and overthrow it and not to start collaborating with it. I have not spent time on this question in order to answer Comrade Dittmann’s speech but purely and simply in order to establish the fact, and to draw the general conclusion from it, that unfortunately the German Independents as represented here by Comrades Dittmann and Crispien seem, in the course of the last two or three years, to have forgotten nothing but also to have learnt nothing.

This is the central point of the debate.

The mistakes of the past have two different meanings. One can and must (and the proletariat also does so necessarily) draw from them the lessons they bring with them, and not make long speeches here that are more self-justification than professions of revolutionary feeling. It is wrong to try to use every possible means and argument to justify the behaviour of the USPD.

The question we are dealing with is the following: If the International has shown the Independent Socialists to have made a single main mistake in relation to the proletariat, to the German workers, then it is this, that at the crucial moment – I mean at the time of Borissov – they were unable to choose between revolution and imperialism and in the end chose imperialism. They did not save Germany. That is a mistake. They lost it. They bear the responsibilities for all the consequences of the collaboration they declared themselves to be ready to carry out from the very first moment. They bear the responsibility for the collapse of the proletarian revolutionary movement that followed this collaboration. Yes, the German proletariat slept and, deceived by the collaboration of the Independents and the majority socialists, it hoped to find the salvation of Germany with the Entente, it expected it from Wilson and Versailles. And now that it is clear that from all this has sprung only misery for Germany, the responsibility for this must fall on the Independents and the right-wing socialists.

I come now to the declaration by the French section. Unlike the German Independent Socialists, the declarations of the French socialists, both public and private, and indeed, even their silence, show that in a certain sense their conscience has been awakened. It looks as if they regret their past and can draw a balance sheet of the mistakes they have committed. I too shared this common impression. A careful reading of their declaration however proved that I had deceived myself somewhat. I have the declaration in front of me. When Comrade Cachin read it out there was much that astonished me. In reading the text I am amazed not only at the careful way in which the declaration expresses itself but also at the reservations, the things that are passed over in silence and what I think are the mental limitations that emerge in it.

In the first place the declaration was completely silent about the past and, even more disquieting than the silence in and of itself, it was not, as one might assume, that they were ashamed of confessing their mistakes to the comrades, but that they had reservations for the future, as the declaration that was read to us testifies.

Talking about class collaboration, the declaration starts with the following words: ‘Under the present historical conditions those who still seek to collaborate with bourgeois society at a time when the decisive social fight is bursting out everywhere do not belong in the ranks of the party of the working class.’ That is to say that there are times and historical conditions when class collaboration is permitted, and if this collaboration existed in the past, it happened because historical conditions demanded it. Since historical relations are now favourable for a revolution we will renounce this collaboration. But should the bourgeoisie’s strength be restored, let us say tomorrow, should it succeed in overcoming certain difficulties, then the historical circumstances of French socialism, which has only just become revolutionary, could also change, and there exists no reason why it should not fall back into its old errors. I further read the following: ‘Should the world war break out again one day, then the present criminal imperialist policy of the French bourgeoisie will bear the main responsibility.’

In the French parliamentary debates and the French press the word ‘present’ will be the password for the French Socialist Party’s delegation. It is a hint that gives them the opportunity to say: ‘In the past things were different. Responsibility for the war does not fall on our bourgeoisie alone but also on German imperialism, and our whole policy of national defence is, as far as the past is concerned, completely justified.’

Further: ‘We will refuse to support this policy in the slightest, be it in the form of approving credits or of participating in ministries. We will be able to remember that, under conditions where national interests coincide with the interests of the plutocracy, the highest duty of the proletariat is to its own class.’

I repeat: ‘Under conditions where the national interests coincide with the interests of the plutocracy,’ as if in bourgeois society there could be moments when the interests of the plutocracy and the bourgeoisie did not coincide with the national interests. That is once more a justification of the tactics of the pact, leaving a door open to sneak through secretly.

Comrades, what we see here is a means of justifying every treachery in the future. We must meanwhile say that if we have a lively interest in the proletariat of any particular country being revolutionary, then that country is France. France is today the fortress of the counter-revolutionary army. The question is therefore to know what difficulties we still have to overcome.

As opportunists the French socialists resemble all other opportunists, and we must combat the particular views through which this opportunism expresses itself in each country in case it supports class collaboration.

As far as France is concerned there is one thing that we must say. Before the war the French Socialist Party was influenced by the democratic socialism of the French Revolution and not by Marxism. At the given moment the Allemanists and the Possibilists were against the Constant cabinet, not in order to go with General Boulanger, but in order to make the revolution; they had already decided that it was necessary to seize power.

[Allemanists was the name given to the followers of Jean Allemane (1843-1935), worker and Communard. who broke with the Possibilistes in 1891 to form the Parti Ouvrier Socialiste Revolutionnaire which joined with other parties to form the Socialist Party (SFIO) in 1905. The following of the POSR came mainly from workers in small enterprises, especially in Paris. Its programme was eclectic, owing something to Marx but looked back to the Babeuf tradition of action by revolutionary minorities, mainly through the general strike.]

The French Socialist Workers Party made arrangements to use the war and to start an uprising. See how great is the difference between then and now, how low, one might say, French socialism has fallen, which in 1889, despite its weakness, thought that it was the duty of the working class to seize the power at certain moments where there was a danger of counter-revolution.



[Founded in 1882 on a Marxist programme it failed to provide revolutionary leadership and lapsed into dogmatism, which it combined with opportunist practice. Its main leader was Jules Guesde – who became a patriot in 1914 – and its only theorist was Paul Lefargue. It gained ground during the 1890s, mainly in the industrial and mining areas but then stagnated. joined with the Blanquists in 1901 to form the Parti Socialiste de France. Some former Guesdists supported the Russian Revolution and were among the founders of the Communist Party; others opposed affiliation and ended up in the right wing of the Socialist Party.]



But this revolutionary socialism was buried at Amsterdam in 1904 and Jules Guesde killed Guesdism when he agreed to unification. All that was left was reformism, that is to say, Jaurès. Jaurès had adopted the revolutionary programme when he joined the party but he died a reformist. It is superfluous to follow the discussions that took place between the Jaurès method and the Ferry method.

Comrades, this point must be insisted on energetically in France. It is not merely a question of subjecting the programme to examination, of putting everything we want into it. What matters above all is examining the methods and the tactics.

Before I finish I should like to say something further in relation to Comrade Bordiga’s speech. I do not think that his methods will produce good results, but much rather that through them false ideas about the revolution will take root.

Bordiga has told us that we do not prepare for the revolution, but that we prepare the working class for the revolution. I am afraid that such formulae on the question of the revolution will only revive and strengthen outside the party those mistakes that are making them selves felt at present in the workers’ movement, in the socialist movement and even in certain communist movements, particularly in Italy. A correction is absolutely necessary here.

Comrades, it is not the conditions of entry into the Communist International that offer us guarantees. They must be regarded as a minimum and if necessary they must be sharpened.



Serrati: I believe however that the Communist International will find another guarantee.

Only by building a real centre of the international movement, by creating a true general staff of the revolution armed with full powers to lead the movement all over the world, will we be able to convince people to carry out the conditions of entry into the Communist International. It is in any case extremely important for the centre to possess far-reaching powers.

Serrati: I agree with Comrade Bordiga when he says that the discussion on the conditions of entry into the Communist International should not take place until we have discussed the general programme of the Communist International and the other theses, for we cannot allow or refuse entry into the Communist International until we have a general overall view of what it is supposed to be. This is all the truer, comrades, for the fact that we are in a highly peculiar position. The people who assembled at the Congress of the Second International had known each other for a Icing time. One knew beforehand that this comrade was an excellent orator, the other a good one, and so forth. It was in general an assembly of barristers. That is not the case here. We do not know one another sufficiently, perhaps because we are far too unclear about the present historical conditions of the different countries for us to be able to carry the conditions of one country over into others and form a definite and clear judgement of every country. It is sufficient, my dear comrades, to recall that we were divided for five or six years not only by the battle-fronts but also by the bourgeois press, which spread lies and slanders and so forth unhindered in every country, in order to see that our way of thinking must have been greatly influenced by this exceptionally serious and difficult situation. I do not want to quote any examples of how little we know one another. I only want to quote one of very slight significance which is however not without value.

Comrade Zinoviev thought he could draw conclusions here on my state of mind and my way of thinking from the circumstance that I use the familiar second person singular ‘thou’ when talking to Prampolini. But my dear friend Zinoviev, our ancestors the Romans called the Emperor ‘thou’. We Italian socialists all call each other ‘thou’. Calling each other ‘thou’ is an old custom among socialists, who are all supposed to be brothers. I do not think that this is a matter in which we can be criticised. On the contrary, it is rather a merit. We do not like serving idols, we have always taken pains never to call our factions after their leaders, and those who claim that there is in Italy a Serrati faction, a Bombacci faction and a Turati faction are mistaken, for we do everything in our power to make sure that the factions are named after ideas and not men. Let us not repeat the errors of the Second International. As you know the anarchists were first of all allowed in only to be thrown out later on. One went too far to the left and later too far to the right.

We keep to a quite definite guideline and we must follow it to the end, all the more so, dear comrades, for the fact that this Congress is really an extraordinary one. I have never felt so weak and powerless at a national congress as is the case here in Moscow.

I have never seen such disparity at a congress. I am not speaking of the epoch and the culture of the people, but of their power. What am I compared with Comrade Lenin? He is the leader of the Russian revolution. And I represent a very-small communist socialist party. I keep saying ‘socialist’ since I know no socialism other than communism. But what are the others like if our party is one of the best? And despite this you British comrades have the same voting rights as Comrade Lenin. Wijnkoop weighs very little in comparison with Lenin, whose weight. is enormous. If this is our position, then it is obvious that we must take it into account.

After these general comments on the composition of the Congress I would like to say a few words on the position of the individual countries.

Above all, we must say whether we are for the revolution, whether we want the international revolution. In Basle we said that the socialists must use the economic, political and moral situation created by the war to carry out the revolution.

You, my dear Russian comrades, were able to carry out your task. You did well. It is the duty of the whole industrial proletariat to follow you, for everywhere the economic, political and moral conditions allow us to declare war on the bourgeoisie and speed up the revolution.

All means must serve to this purpose. But let us take care at this Congress not to be teachers giving their pupils good marks and bad marks. We have come here in order to be able to assess the revolutionary forces of the international proletariat. I shall not argue whether the French have a greater right to enter the Communist International than the Germans.

I say that we must open the doors of the Communist International to all parties that are able to carry out a revolution with us, and we should discuss afterwards.

Wijnkoop: And the anarchists?

Serrati.: If you will permit me, my dear Wijnkoop, I shall come not only to the anarchists but also the Dutch. It is not necessary to discuss the behaviour of Crispien or Dittmann. It is sufficient to enquire what the situation is in France and Germany, what is the position of the French Socialist Party and the USPD.

I tell you openly: although I am a Roman myself, I have not the slightest confidence in revolutionary action on the part of the French Socialist Party since the situation in France is not revolutionary.

One fine day the French socialists told us: Yes, dear Italian and Russian comrades, we want to call a general strike in support of the Russian revolution. I do not deny I thought they were sincere when they made this promise.

Goldenburg: They were not.

Serrati: But my friend, we do not have a ‘sincerometer’ in our pocket.



Lenin: We will find this sincerometer.



Serrati: I can only hope so, as it will support my argument. I repeat, I thought that they were sincere when they made us this promise. But what did they do at the decisive moment? The general strike was not proclaimed. They betrayed us during the elections. Comrade Sadoul was used. It was said that he was a man who had been condemned to death and that he would have to be placed in the front line. The elections should have been fought on the basis of support for the Soviet Republic, but the elections were a disappointment for the French socialists. They took fright and said that their success would have been bigger if they had spurned Bolshevism and relied on the reformists.

This is what it is always like. The situation brings obscure and ambiguous behaviour with it, a nod to the left and a nod to the right, without knowing what is really wanted. I say that we cannot accept people who are in such a state. A party that does not want to fulfil its tasks cannot be accepted.

In Germany and France we must have a very strong vanguard that marches firmly forward and does everything in its power to draw the proletariat behind it. France was the victor in the war. The small peasants have stuffed their pockets with money. Here the economic situation is better than perhaps anywhere else in the world. In Germany matters are completely different. I have no information on the facts with which Comrades Dittman and Crispien are being reproached. But I do know that the situation in Germany is revolutionary and I know that the USPD represents a major force in the working class.

The historical situation in Germany is, I repeat, revolutionary. Therefore we must be close to the proletariat in that country. That goes without saying. We must separate the wheat from the chaff. 1 am of the opinion that we can go further with the USPD than we can with the French socialists. Our Congress should not pass judgement on individuals but only on the revolutionary situation in each country. It must be convinced that the general situation makes men, and not the other way around.

Permit me, having said this, to return to conditions in Italy. Despite your criticism, my dear Russian friends, we like each other very much. You like, it is true, to give us a dig in the ribs from time to time, but that is the sort of thing you only do to somebody you like ... [Laughter]

What is at stake is not talking about Turati and Modigliani all the time but organising the revolution in Italy. The revolutionary situation in Italy is more favourable than in the other victorious countries.

The economic position is dismal. The state is collapsing before our eyes and the peasants are dissatisfied. They have, it is true, more money than they did before the war, but nobody wants to work for the landlord any more. I want to work in my factory, in my field, says the worker. The situation really is revolutionary, not only from the economic but also the psychological standpoint.

We are carrying out zealous propaganda in the countryside. It is true that aimless people let themselves be drawn into the Turati current. ‘You still read Critica Soziale,’ people tell us. It is a long time since we read it. I know their circulation exactly. It is 953 copies.

Bordiga: Which the bourgeois press reproduces.

Serrati: It is a magazine of scientific socialism which for thirty-years educated the young socialists in the Marxist socialism that has defeated Bakuninism in Italy. Today the magazine does not have the slightest influence any more. just like Turati it does not play a role in the party any more. When we discussed the question of the attitude of our party in Bologna and looked through our old programme of 1892, Turati had to hide behind Constantino Lazzari in order to keep a few supporters. He adopted a resolution that expressed itself very ambiguously about the dictatorship of the proletariat, the seizure of power, etc. At the national congress in Florence the reformists did not even dare to propose a motion after they had made their speeches. They felt that their speeches had made no impact on the congress.

There is a certain movement among the workers that we will have to reckon with. It is not our fault, and not to our merit, that we are Italians and that you are Russians. The Italians have always felt sympathy for those who have constantly spoken their thoughts straight out and have not betrayed the party. Those people are honoured in Italy who promise little and give a lot.

For years and years we have had there the Labriolas and the Ambris who preached to the masses that they should split from the leaders who betrayed them. But they are the very ones who carried out a betrayal. Turati has always kept his promises and has kept party discipline.

And while we are demanding the expulsion of such people we are preparing to accept parties into the Communist Party in whose midst are people who filled their pockets with banknotes during the war and travelled all over Europe to ruin the working class.

We are told we should drive out Turati, Turati who voted against the war, not merely as a pacifist, but also as a socialist and an enemy of bourgeois opportunism. There is an obvious contradiction here.

At the Rome congress Comrade Bombacci made a great speech in his praise and against his expulsion. He correctly stated that Turati would never fire on the people. As for myself, I am not concerned with the question of personalities. Only the question of utility comes into consideration. If Turati is useful to us we will keep him, if he is dangerous we will throw him out. I cherish no personal feelings for anybody.



Lenin: No sentimentality, please.



Serrati: You know very well that my attitude is not that of a sentimentalist. I have said, then, that we must free ourselves of these people without in the process losing contact with the masses. We must try to draw conclusions from certain circumstances. I have already tried to do this on several occasions.

Comrade Zinoviev has mentioned the chemical workers’ congress where Turati supported class collaboration. I carried out a fierce fight against him on that occasion. And it was the workers who defended him and said: Yes, he is wrong, but he is a brave man. We must wait until it is no longer possible to say that of him, but that will not be so easy. Turati’s latest speech in Parliament, about which Comrade Zinoviev has spoken, did not have the meaning that the latter read into it. On the contrary, it was a very skilful speech. Listen to what he said about the bourgeoisie: ‘I tell you you are no longer capable of maintaining power, you can no longer rule the people. Stand down. It is our turn now. We will take the power for ourselves and use the bourgeois experts as technical specialists and set them to work for us as we see fit.’ This thought is very different from the one Comrade Zinoviev ascribes to him. I have already said on many occasions that I am for a purge of the party, from which Turati should resign, but he must not be expelled. I have discussed this with Comrade Lenin and written about it in Avanti and Il Communismo. One must understand how to tackle the matter correctly to keep the masses of the workers and even to avoid losing those of their leaders whose significance is purely decorative. The Theses moreover demand the same thing. And I accept them by reason of the following considerations. We are told that all the parties that still contain social-democratic elements must undertake a revision of their forces and form new communist parties on the basis of the new conditions. I believe, however, although I am a decided supporter of centralisation (to the extent that, in Italy, people say that I am too dogmatic and too brutal in the eyes of those comrades who do not completely fulfil their communist duty), that the particular conditions in every individual country must be taken into account. This thought, moreover, is confirmed in another part of the theses: ‘The Communist International and its Executive Committee must take account of the different conditions under which the parties have to fight and work, and only take generally valid decisions in such questions where such decisions are possible.’

I ask you, comrades: If for example today we return to Italy and find reaction up in arms against us, which is very possible, if we found imperialism directed against us, could you then advise us, you comrades of the Executive Committee, to undertake a split in such a situation?

No, dear friends. Give the Socialist Party of Italy the chance to decide for itself the moment for the purge. We all assure you – and I do not think that anybody can say that we have ever broken our word – that the purge will be carried out, but give us the chance to do it in a way that will be of use to the party and to the revolution that we are preparing in Italy.



Lenin:

Comrades, Serrati has said that we have not yet invented a sincérometre – that is a new French word that means an instrument for measuring sincerity. Such an instrument has not yet been invented. We do not need such an instrument, but we already have an instrument for judging trends. Comrade Serrati’s mistake – of which I shall speak later – is that he did not use this instrument, which has been known for a long time.

I would like to say only a few words about Comrade Crispien. I am very sorry that he is not present. [Interjection from Dittmann: ‘He is ill!'] I am sorry to hear it. His speech is a most important document, and contains precisely the political line of the right wing of the USPD. I am not speaking about personal matters or individual cases, but the ideas clearly expressed in Crispien’s speech. I think I shall be able to prove that on the whole it was a thoroughly Kautskyite speech and that Comrade Crispien has a Kautskyite conception of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Replying to an interjection, Crispien said: ‘Dictatorship is nothing new; it was already mentioned in the Erfurt Programme.’ The Erfurt Programme says nothing about the dictatorship of the proletariat, and history has proved that that is no accident. When we were working out our party’s first programme in 1902-03 we always had the example of the Erfurt programme before us. Plekhanov, the same Plekhanov who calmly said at the time: ‘Either Bernstein will bury Social-Democracy or Social-Democracy will bury Bernstein’, laid special emphasis on the fact that the Erfurt Programme’s failure to mention the dictatorship of the proletariat was theoretically wrong and in practice a cowardly concession to the opportunists. And the dictatorship of the proletariat has been in our programme since 1903.

When Comrade Crispien now says that the dictatorship of the proletariat is nothing new, and goes on to say: ‘We were always in favour of the conquest of political power’, then he is evading the essence of the matter. Conquest of political power is recognised, but not the dictatorship. The entire socialist literature, not only German but also English and French, proves that the leaders of the opportunist parties – like for example MacDonald in Britain – are in favour of the conquest of political power. They are all sincere socialists, joking apart, but they are against the dictatorship of the proletariat! As soon as we have a good revolutionary communist party worthy of the name we should conduct propaganda for the dictatorship of the proletariat against the conceptions of the Second International. Comrade Crispien glossed over this and obscured it, and that is the basic error common to all Kautskyite positions.

We are leaders elected by the masses’, Comrade Crispien continues. That is a formal standpoint and incorrect, because at the last conference of the German Independents we quite clearly saw the struggle of the tendencies. One does not need to look for a sincerometer and make jokes about it like Comrade Serrati in order to know the simple fact that there is and must be a struggle of tendencies. One tendency is the revolutionaries, the workers who have just come to us, the enemies of the labour aristocracy. The other tendency is the labour aristocracy, which in all the civilised countries is represented by the old leaders. Does Crispien stand with the tendency of the old leaders and the labour aristocracy or with the tendency of the new, revolutionary mass of workers, who are opposed to the labour aristocracy? That is precisely what Comrade Crispien glossed over.

In what terms does Comrade Crispien speak of the split? He said that the split was a bitter necessity and he deplored it at length. That was Kautskyian. Split from whom? From Scheidemann? Yes indeed! Crispien said: ‘We made the split.’ First of all you did it too late! While we are talking about it we must say this. And in the second place the Independents must not weep about it, but say: ‘The international working class is still under the yoke of the labour aristocracy and the opportunists.’ That is a fact in Britain and France too. Comrade Crispien does not think about the split in a communist way but completely in the spirit of Kautsky, who is not supposed to have any more influence. Then Crispien went on to talk about high wages. He said that conditions in Germany were such that, in comparison with workers in Russia and Eastern Europe in general, workers there had a reasonably good standard of living. He says that a revolution can only be carried out if the workers do not suffer ‘excessive’ impoverishment. I ask myself whether it is permissible to talk in such terms in a communist party. It is counter-revolutionary. We in Russia certainly have a living standard that is lower than in Germany, and when we set up the dictatorship the result was that the workers were even hungrier and their living standard dropped still further. The victory of the workers is impossible without sacrifice, without the temporary worsening of their conditions. We must tell the workers the opposite of what Crispien says. To wish to prepare workers for the dictatorship and to talk to them about ‘not excessive’ impoverishment is to forget what is most important, that is that the labour aristocracy arose by helping their ‘own’ bourgeoisie to conquer and strangle the whole world by imperialist means and by thus being able to secure better wages. If the German working class want to do revolutionary work now they must make sacrifices and not shrink from it.

In the general historical sense it is correct that a Chinese coolie in a backward country cannot carry out the revolution. But to tell the workers in the few rich countries where the standard of living is better thanks to imperialist robbery that they should shrink from ‘excessive’ impoverishment is counter-revolutionary. The opposite must be said.

A labour aristocracy that fears sacrifice and ‘excessive’ impoverishment during the revolutionary struggle cannot belong to the party. Otherwise no dictatorship is possible, especially in the countries of Western Europe.

What did Crispien say about terror and force? Those are two different things, he said. One can make such a distinction in a handbook of sociology perhaps, but not in practical politics, and particularly not in relation to conditions in Germany. Against people who behave like the German officers who murdered Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, against people like Stinnes and Krupp who buy up the press, against such people one is forced to use force and terror. Of course it is not necessary to declare in advance that we will positively resort to terror, but if the German officers, the Kappists, Krupp and Stinnes remain as they are we will have to employ terror. Not only Kautsky but also Ledebour and Crispien speak about terror in a completely counter-revolutionary sense. A party guided by such ideas cannot carry out the dictatorship, that is clear.

And then the agrarian question. Crispien was particularly vehement on this, and felt himself able to accuse us of being petty-bourgeois. He says we have to expropriate the big landlords and hand the land over to co-operatives. This is a pedantic conception. Even in highly developed countries such as Germany there is a sufficient number of latifundia, of landed estates that are worked in a semi-feudal and not a large-scale capitalist way, parts of which areas could be given to the small peasants without dislocating the economy. Large-scale production can be kept and the small peasants can still be given something that is very important to them. No thought is given to this unfortunately, but it must be done in practice, otherwise mistakes are made. This is proved for example by the book by Varga (the former People’s Commissar for the National Economy in the Hungarian Soviet Republic), who says that scarcely any changes took place in the Hungarian village after the proletarian dictatorship and that the labourers saw nothing and the small peasants gained nothing. There are big latifundia in Hungary. Large stretches of land are farmed there in a semi-feudal manner. It is always possible and necessary to find parts of the big landed estates which can be given to the peasants, perhaps not in outright possession but on lease, so that even the smallest peasant may gain something from the confiscated estates. Otherwise the small peasant will see no difference between the old order and the Soviet dictatorship. If the proletarian state authority does not act in this way it will be unable to retain power.

If Crispien has said: ‘You cannot deny our revolutionary convictions,’ then I reply: ‘I deny them most emphatically.’ I do not deny them in the sense that you do not want to act in a revolutionary manner; but in the sense that you do not understand how to think in a revolutionary manner. I wager that if we choose any commission you like of educated people and give them Crispien’s speech, the commission would say: ‘This speech is Kautskyian through and through. It is thoroughly dominated by the Kautskyian mode of thought.’ All Crispien’s methods of arguing are Kautskyian through and through, and then Crispien comes along and says: ‘Kautsky no longer has any influence in our party.’ Perhaps not over the revolutionary workers who have just joined. But it is an absolutely proven fact that Kautsky has had and still has an enormous influence on Comrade Crispien and on Comrade Crispien’s whole way of thinking and all his ideas.

Comrade Crispien’s speech proved this. That is why one can say, without inventing any sincerometers, any instruments for measuring sincerity, that Crispien’s tendency does not correspond with that of the Communist International. If we say that, then it will be a guideline for the whole Communist International.

I think Comrades Wijnkoop and Münzenberg are wrong An they say they are dissatisfied with us for inviting the USPI) and talking to its representatives. When Kautsky comes out against us and writes books we polemics against him as the class enemy. But when the USPD, which has grown large because revolutionary workers are streaming to it comes here to negotiate, we must discuss with its representatives because they represent part of the revolutionary workers. We cannot reach immediate agreement on the International with the German Independents, the French and the English. Every one of Comrade Wijnkoop’s speeches shows that he shares almost all of Comrade Pannekoek’s mistakes. Wijnkoop has, it is true, declared that he does not share Pannekoek’s ideas, but his speeches prove the opposite. That is the basic error of this left group, it is in general an error of the proletarian movement in the process of growing. The speeches of Comrades Crispien and Dittmann are thoroughly bourgeois speeches with which one cannot prepare the dictatorship of the proletariat. But when Comrades Wijnkoop and Münzenberg go even further on the question of the USPI) we do not agree with them.

Certainly we have no sincerometer, as Serrati calls it, to test people’s good faith, and we agree completely that it is not a question of judging men but of assessing the situation. I am sorry that Serrati spoke without saying anything new. His speech was the kind of speech we used to hear in the Second International.

Serrati was wrong when he said: ‘In France the situation is not revolutionary. In Germany and Italy it is revolutionary.’

But even if the situation is counter-revolutionary the Second International is wrong and shoulders a great burden of guilt if it refuses to organise revolutionary propaganda and agitation; for even if the situation is not revolutionary, revolutionary propaganda can and must be carried out. The whole history of the Bolshevik Party proves this. The difference between the socialists and the communists lies precisely here in the fact that the former refuse to do what we do in any given situation, that is conduct revolutionary work.

Serrati only repeats what Crispien said. We do not mean to say that Turati must definitely be expelled on such and such a date. This question has already been touched on by the Executive Committee, and Serrati told us: ‘A party purge but no expulsions.’ We will simply have to tell the Italian comrades that it is the line of the members of Ordine Nuovo that corresponds to the line of the Communist International, and not that of the present majority of the Socialist Party leaders and their parliamentary faction. The latter wish, it is claimed, to defend the working class against reaction. Chernov, the Mensheviks and many others in Russia similarly defended the proletariat against reaction, but that was certainly no reason to take them into our ranks.

[Ordine Nuovo: the paper published by the communist group in Turin led by Antonio Gramsci, Palmiro Togliatti, Angelo Tasca and Umberto Terracini, and thus known as the ‘ordinovisti’. There were serious differences within the group which was heavily criticised by Amadeo Bordiga, then leader of the dominant tendency in Italian communism. The paper carried Gramsci’s renowned articles on factory councils; during the strikes and occupations it attained the peak of its influence. The paper’s offices were destroyed by fascists in December 1922.]

Therefore we must tell the Italian comrades and all those parties that have a right wing that these reformist tendencies have nothing in common with communism.

We ask you Italian comrades to call a congress and submit these Theses and resolutions of ours to it. I am convinced that the Italian workers will want to remain in the Communist International.



Serrati: You are always confusing me with Turati. Does that perhaps happen on purpose?



Lenin: Nobody confuses Serrati with Turati, unless Serrati himself does so by defending him.



Levi: Comrades, first of all I must thank Comrade Wijnkoop for his forbearance in dealing with the KPD and for stating that he is not able to say everything he wanted to say about the German Party in the present company because there are not only communists here. I am all the more grateful to Comrade Wijnkoop for his forbearance for the fact that I do not approve of the grounds on which he conceded us mitigating circumstances. On the contrary, these grounds show us why he was earlier so opposed to the four Independents being allowed to stay in the hall. Wijnkoop seems to have had good reason to fear that he would be the first to succumb to infection by the Independents. The reasons that Wijnkoop has given for not wanting to criticise us here show that this fear is justified. It is typical of the reasons that the USPI) give and with which they try to cover all their sins. He takes up the argument of the left wing of the USPD, which we have continually fought. This wing is also always saying: ‘We do not want to lay bare our differences; we do not want to say anything about them when others are present.’ We say that this position involves a fatal misunderstanding of the significance of the controversies m the German proletariat. If mistakes have been committed they have to be laid bare, whether enemies are present or not. Comrade Wijnkoop’s ideology is so typical of the Independents that this formula explains the whole behaviour of the Independent delegation at this Congress and the whole politics of the Independents during the German revolution.

What really is the deep meaning of the controversies with Dittmann and Crispien that took place yesterday? It is the fact that was repeated until we were tired of it: ‘We had a relationship with the masses, we stood where the masses stood, our attitude was approved by the masses.’ This is a fundamental error concerning the role of the party towards the masses. For, true as it is that the party cannot wage the revolutionary struggle without the masses, it is just as fatal for a party to confine itself all the time to asking ‘What are the masses doing?’ and at every point to say only what will flatter the masses. That has anyway up till now been the political method of the USPD, which has even boasted about the fact that at every point it has only represented what the masses want. Thus its history is a history of mistakes and failures, the history of the failure of the German masses in general. Where the masses failed the German Independents also failed. Where the masses were not conscious of their strength the Independents did not call on them to be strong but became weak with the masses. [Interjection: ‘Behind the masses! They never understood the leading role of a revolutionary party.'] Thus even today they still fall back on demonstrating that they were right in all their mistakes, while the important thing would be to say what their mistakes were, to establish what was; not in order to give us the pleasure of seeing contrite sinners – we are not concerned about Crispien and Dittmann doing penance, but and in my opinion this must be the most important part of the controversy between the Independents and the Communist International – about the, masses of German workers who are today in the USPD recognising their whole weakness and their mistakes in the past. For this reason and for the sake of these worker masses our controversy must take place under the motto: ‘Let there be truth between us’.

I am of the opinion that, for all the subjective truthfulness that Comrades Dittmann and Crispien have shown here, what they have said here is false, false, every line of it. It is a bit much, I must say, for Crispien, who once knew better, to use his earlier connection with the Spartakusbund to identify the Spartakusbund opposition with the origins of the USPD when he knows only too well that the organisation of the USPD has a different origin, that it consisted in the main not of the members of the Spartakusbund but of the confused, indistinct opposition of 1914 – of Bernstein, Ledebour, Kautsky and others – who were not clear about a single question and were not united among themselves on any question. I remember the position Ledebour took up in October 1914 when he declared that if the Russians reached Frankfurt-an-der-Oder he would vote for credits. It would be misleading the German masses to tell them that the USPD grew out of a small, well thought-out and consistent opposition to the war. And what is more, just as what Comrade Crispien said about the early history of the USPD was unclear, what Dittmann and Crispien said about the attitude of the USPD during the war was false. It is not true that the USPD carried out propaganda against militarism and circulated illegal literature. Quite the opposite. Comrade Dittmann, one of the most shattering moments in the war for me was that session of the Reichstag when the Imperial Chancellor Michaelis remonstrated with the Independents about their anti-militarist propaganda in the fleet, and the USPD disowned Riechpietsch and other comrades, the first swallows of the German revolution, the first people to give their lives for the revolution, even when they were in the grave. [Interjection from Dittmann: ‘The opposite is true!]

No, it is true that at the time the Independents used the excuse that they had not carried out any anti-militarist propaganda, that they had only handed out the programme of the USPD. They did not say: ‘These are our comrades’. They did not say: ‘Thousands must follow the path that our fallen heroes took’. [Interjection from Dittmann: ‘Lies!']

Be careful who you call a liar; I shall read the short-hand report to you. Exactly the same untruths that were told here about the attitude of the USPD during the war, exactly the same untruths are being told about the attitude of the USPD after the war. Dittmann has given a detailed account of the circumstances that led to the final rupture of relations with Russia. He appeals to the fact that the actual expulsion of Comrade Joffe was ordered by Prince Max. But it is well established, and can be proved at any time from the documents, that Joffe was still on territory controlled by the German government when the ‘socialist’ government took the helm. It was this ‘socialist’ government that actually carried out the expulsion order. I shall briefly quote the facts. In its session of November 10 the Berlin Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council decided the following: ‘The Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council decides that the government will immediately resume relations with the Russian government and awaits the representative of this government in Berlin.’ The Council of Peoples Commissars, however, had already unanimously decided not to carry out this decision.

On November 19 there took place a meeting of the Cabinet, the minutes of which were published. Comrade Radek read from these minutes yesterday. Apart from the Peoples’ Commissars, those who took part in the meeting were Dr. David, Kautsky and Privy Councillor Nadolny. The minutes say, and I quote: ‘Continuation of the discussion on Germany’s relations with the Soviet Union. Haase advises that we proceed in a dilatory (hesitant) fashion.... Kautsky supports Haase. He says that a decision must be postponed, that the Soviet Government would not be able to hold out for long, but that it would be finished in a matter of weeks.’

According to Vowärts this Haase-Kautsky-Barth position was unanimously adopted by the Cabinet (Vorwärts of December 18, 1918). Comrade Dittmann has had the bad luck to prove more than he set out to prove. For if what Comrade Dittmann said was true, that in fact the Independents were in favour of resuming relations with Russia all the time, then it would not have been necessary to prove that the non-resumption of relations was excused by the difficult situation Germany was in at the time. And further, we know that the Berlin Executive Council decided to invite delegates from the Russian Soviet Republic to the first Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils. Moscow accepted the invitation and the Soviet delegation set off under the leadership of Radek. The Central Council at Kaunas now asked the cabinet by telegraph for information about how it was to behave towards the delegation. The Council of Peoples’ Commissars decided, with Barth voting against, but Haase and Wilhelm Dittmann voting in favour, to send the following telegram: ‘We beg to convey to the Russian delegation that, in view of the situation in Germany, they should desist from coming here. They are therefore refused entry.’

At a Reichstag session of February 15, 1919, Noske said that he would like to say to the comrades of the USPI) that even if, at the Leipzig congress, Ledebour had said that entry into the Communist International would rob the USPI) of the moral right to polemics against Noske, Ledebour and the others would nonetheless see that there were still other things that gave him, Noske, occasion to attack the Independents. During the session of February 15, then, Noske said the following:

Herr Haase has complained about the relations with Russia that the government has set up. A colleague informs me that during a cabinet meeting in November 1918, in which Herr Haase took part, Kautsky proposed that relations with Bolshevik Russia should not be resumed because to do so would make the Entente more unfriendly. Herr Haase agreed with this. When the Berlin Executive Council issued an invitation to Radek and the Ambassador, Joffe, who had previously been expelled from Berlin, the Cabinet, to which Herr Haase and Herr Dittmann belonged, and of which all the members were present, decided by five votes to one to refuse them entry as undesirables.

There is documentary proof that the Independents were by no means out-voted, for their own press justified their attitude. A press-cutting from Freiheit no 57 of December 10, 1918, reads as follows:

In appealing to the Russian comrades to desist from their journey to Germany the Council of Peoples’ Commissars was acting only under the most extreme pressure of circumstances. In view of the greatly superior position of the Entente it could not assume responsibility for any deterioration of the peace prospects as a result of the visit by the Russian comrades.

And now you still say there was no Wilsonism in the party! Here the world-historical question – Wilson or the Russian revolution – was opened up in all its greatness. And you were for Wilson. You say: ‘Then, perhaps, yes, but meanwhile we have overcome all the Wilsonism in our party.’ I have more to tell you. On June 4, 1920 the Freiheit, which you cannot deny has some authority in the USPD, printed the following:

A questionnaire from the German Pacifist Association which was sent to all the election candidates and the leaders of all the parties contained among others the questions whether Germany should enter the League of Nations, whether a revision of the Versailles Treaty could only be striven for by peaceful means and whether education was to be carried out in all the schools, in accordance with the constitution, in the spirit of international reconciliation. The leaders of the Centre Party (Zentrum) and the National Democratic Peoples Party (NDVP) answered with an unconditional affirmative, as did the central committees of the right-wing socialists and the Independents. Numerous candidates of the parties named answered in the same way. No answer was received from the two right-wing parties.

But there is still more. Even today the struggle in Germany between the West and the East, between Wilson and the Russian revolution, has not been fought out to a conclusion. The situation will become difficult and tragic for Germany. Once more there will be a moment of time when the fate of the world revolution will be placed for months, perhaps for years, in the hands of the German proletariat. If the conflict between the Entente and Russia becomes even sharper, and it comes to clashes, the attitude of the German proletariat will be decisive. And what do we read in the face of this prospect in the latest issue of Freiheit? I have just received the Berliner Tageblatt of July 23, 1920 which quotes what Breitscheid has to say about Russo-German relations:

In the present partition of forces Germany can – it must be recognised get into a very difficult situation by pursuing these policies. Armed resistance is as good as impossible. There is no hope of imitating the example of Belgium in 1914. We must not permit it to come to a new war against Britain and France. However, we have to emphasise our rights to the extreme, and to make an infringement of our neutrality as difficult as possible for the Allied governments.

And do you know, comrades of the USPD, what these lines contain? It is nothing but an offer to the Entente to haggle over the neutrality of the German proletariat, no, over the will of the German proletariat to take up the fight hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder with the Russian proletariat, in the same way that the German proletariat has already been sold out to the Entente. I shall not quote the parts of Hilferding’s speech in Leipzig that have already been quoted several times here, where he justifies his refusal to collaborate with Russia on the basis that Russia is faced with almost immediate bankruptcy, and where he declares with full confidence in victory: ‘We in Germany are not faced with defeat.’ What was Ledebour’s position? He spoke against terrorism and in favour of higher political morals, and in order to explain what he meant by terrorism he said the following:

The acts I have in mind here are not what is said about the Bolsheviks by their opponents, but what the latter themselves admit. That is the suppression of the free expression of opinions, the suppression of the whole hostile press and of the whole right of assembly and the setting up of Extraordinary Commissions which are armed with full juridical powers, without the accused being given any legal guarantee in the face of the exercise of these juridical functions. It is this, Comrade Stöcker, that we must disapprove of, although we must admit that the Bolsheviks have mitigating circumstances in the highest degree.

But in his speech Hilferding said the following: ‘It is this that we cannot approve of, terror, and where this is concerned we can recognise no mitigating circumstances’. He went on to say that on this point there could be no reconciliation. Ledebour stuck to the same line. On top of all this came the ominous Leipzig Action Programme. It is more or less like a lump of clay that one can make into a face or a gargoyle at will. The only thing I know about the Action Programme decided on at Leipzig is that the most varied trends existed at Leipzig.

When tendencies existed in our party we said so openly, and we did not do what we are accusing you of doing. The only thing that I can see clearly about the action programme is that Kautsky and Hilferding agreed to it on one side and Däumig and Stöcker agreed to it on the other. That was what you were so proud about. [Interjection: ‘Kautsky didn’t agree to it.'] But Hilferding agreed to it. And if Kautsky didn’t agree to it, why do you have people in your party who don’t agree with your Action Programme? What did you do with the people who did not agree with it? And you come to Moscow with this Action Programme that is neither fish nor fowl and you say: ‘If the Moscow programme agrees with our programme we will join.’ This Action Programme of yours is so broad that you can make anything ‘agree’ with it. That is why we demand precise answers on this point. In the French press, in L'Humanité, there is a report by Comrade Frossard on his discussions with Crispien in Switzerland, where Crispien also adopted the same standpoint: ‘We have our Action Programme, and we will not enter the Communist International ni sans conditions ni sans concessions (either unconditionally or without concessions).’ just tell us what your Action Programme is, put the whole business just for once on a political basis, and then Crispien can tell us what conditions and concessions he means. Just for once, instead of an Action Programme that can stretch to include Hilferding and Stöcker and consists only of phrases, give us a real political programme ‘so that we can see what you mean’. Then you will have what the Independents so badly need just now. And I am not talking about the split you try to scare us with. I am talking about the fact that you will be forced to tell the masses what you want and what the others want. And this development of the political line, which in my opinion is decisive and significant, is the point at which the Communist International must apply itself. I myself am too much of a barrister [Dittmann: ‘Very true!'] not to know the limitations of a barrister’s work. And that is why I must admit that I am very sceptical about the formulation of the H paragraphs. This is not the way to achieve the thing that is most important within the life of the USPD today, for the masses to grasp what it is all about. This is not the way to achieve what the masses are looking for and what the Independents as yet have failed to give them: a clear political programme. And I think that that will be the main task of the Congress, to talk in clear and comprehensible words to the German workers who are in sympathy with us and to tell them what, where and how the right wing is that up to now has been hiding itself so skilfully by finding revolutionary phrases as the masses needed them. It is in this framework that I have, up until now, conceived the struggle against the German Independents. We must express in clear words the criticism that people in the ranks of the USPD have not yet found the courage and the strength to utter, the feeling of gloomy dissatisfaction, of striving beyond the framework that the USPD has provided up to now. This is how we must serve our party and the USPD masses and continue our criticism. We must tell the masses what they have not yet heard from their own leaders, even the lefts. We know quite well that the attempt will be made to disparage this criticism of ours by saying that we are only concerned about the KPD and have our eyes only on our own party interests. We will, however, nevertheless win the understanding of the masses and more quickly force the right wing finally to show its true colours. We will carry on our criticism in this sense, not for our own sakes. but for the sake of the masses of the USPD, to whom we must say, every time we aim a critical blow at them:

Cupid, who loves and tortures you Wants you blissful and purified. (Amor, der dich liebt und peinigt, Will dich selig und gereinigt.)

Zinoviev: In order to close the discussion today I propose to refuse all those who wish to speak a second time and to allow the speakers to speak for no more than ten minutes. [The proposal is rejected.]

Humbert-Droz: The main question in the present discussion seems to me to be the question of the affiliation of the USPD and the French Socialist Party to the Communist International. The general Theses on entry into the Communist International are not being discussed. There are, meanwhile, two completely different questions before us. On the one hand we have to establish the general conditions for all the parties that wish to affiliate to the Communist International, including the USPD and the French Socialist Party. The affiliation of the USPD and the French Party is a different question. We cannot talk about that until later, when the parties have discussed our general conditions and have expressed a definite request for affiliation. That is not the case today, and we must widen the scope of our debate, since there are other, less important, parties in the same position as the USPD and the French party, like for example the Spanish party, the Swiss party and others. If the left wing of the Swiss party had not sent its own delegation, then the Central Committee would have sent a delegation that would have been similar to the French delegation or that of the USPD, and we would perhaps have seen Naine or Grabe, who have up until now been the most determined opponents of the proletarian dictatorship, taking part in the conference with an advisory vote.

The Swiss party is known for its centrist, vacillating tendency, which inclines first to the right and then to the left, according to the dominant influence. At the congress that took place in the August of last year the Swiss Party unanimously disaffiliated from the Second International and by a great majority of the votes affiliated to the Communist International. But it elected as Secretaries two representatives who, at the congress, had been opponents of the Communist International: Hegler and Grabe. In the ballot, which stood under the influence of the elections, affiliation was rejected by 15,000 votes to about 8,000. Thereupon the leadership of the party itself took the initiative for the reconstruction of the International. At first, what they intended in this reconstruction was the creation of a centrist International excluding the right socialist elements and the ‘anarchist agitators’ of the Communist International.

After the USPD congress this concept was taken up in the theses of the Independents, who wanted to enter the Communist International, in that they posed their conditions and tried to extend the theoretical basis.

On several occasions negotiations took place in Berne between the representatives of the French party, the USPD and the Swiss Party. We reproached the Independents with the fact that, although they told us that their negotiations would have to be based on their Leipzig programme, they nevertheless started negotiations with the Central Committee of our party, which has fought the general theses of the Leipzig programme, the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the soviet system. The party central committee did not sanction this tactic of reconstruction. In April an objection from Grimm was adopted which protested against Grabe’s resolution on reconstruction. This resolution of Grimm’s declared affiliation to the Communist International since the Communist International permitted the work of democracy in the pre-revolutionary period. The next day the party central committee assured the French reconstructionists in a telegram to the Populaire that this resolution was only a tactical operation on Grimm’s part to avoid a split with the left. Negotiations were continued. While the delegations of the USPD and the French Socialist Party came to Russia, Paul Faure, a representative of the USPD and the Swiss Party continued their negotiations over reconstruction in Berne. The party Central Committee had decided to send a delegation to Russia so that it could do there the same work of reconstruction that the Independents were doing. It gave up the idea when the left sent its own delegation.

One thing is clear now: reconstruction is impossible. This attempt was a failure from the start, since it had all the weaknesses of the Second International, whose convictions and tendencies it represented. The lack of a programme and theoretical bases, the absence of any international centralisation, the poverty of principles, the many splits – these formed the weaknesses of the Second International and made ‘reconstruction’ impossible. Recognising the impossibility of breathing new life into the corpse of the Second International and of reconstructing the Second International, the old socialist parties approached the Communist International without sharing its convictions and principles and without possessing its firm discipline and control. In order not to remain isolated, however, these centrist parties will accept all the conditions in the hope that they will be able to transform the Communist International from the inside. Grabe declared at a party conference that the party was forced to join the Communist International but that it reserved the right to work on the extension of its basis within it. The International is defenceless in the face of the danger menacing it from the centrist and opportunist parties that threaten to submerge and stifle it. These elements will endorse every condition they are set. We must not allow even twenty Theses to mislead us into accepting these opportunist elements in our midst.

At the same time I think that Bordiga’s proposal to force these parties to expel those who vote against the programme of the Communist International is thoroughly useful in order to undertake the first purge of the extreme right. The word ‘split’ terrifies all opportunists, who place unity before all else. This first purge will of course be incomplete, but it is the first step in the creation of a truly communist party.

A second important condition seems to me to be a strict and lasting supervision by the Executive Committee of the Communist International over the parties that affiliate. The reconstructionists and opportunists of every country have one thing in common, and that is the demand for the independence of the national party in relation to the International Executive. ‘We demand guarantees’, they chorus in every key. They want to have the same freedom in the Communist International – the freedom to betray – that they enjoyed in the Second International. The Executive must have the right to dictate, according to circumstance, to certain parties special conditions corresponding to their situation in addition to the general conditions accepted by the Congress. The Executive must exercise control over the activities of the parties and undertake the necessary purges in those parties that still stand under the influence of opportunists or accept them into their ranks.

Däumig: I have followed the debates on this point on the agenda attentively and with good will because I attach to the outcome of these deliberations great importance not only for the sake of the party that sent me here but for the sake of the whole International. When I review the speeches made in the discussion yesterday and today, and above all the speeches made by the representatives of small groups, I could easily form the conviction that the Communist International is and is to remain an International of sects and groups, an International of propaganda societies which can very easily be brought among themselves to a common theory and a common line. I know definitely that our Russian comrades do not share this conception. I do not think that there is any desire to present Kautsky with any cheap reputation as a prophet. Starting from his well-known democratic, social-reformist, anti-bolshevik convictions, Kautsky writes in his new pamphlet on the Past and Future of the International that ‘the Communist International is prevented in advance from managing to unite all the mass socialist parties in its midst by its exclusive character as the organisation of a mere sect. It will remain confined to Eastern Europe and a few splinter groups in Western Europe.’ I do not think that the Russian comrades are of the opinion that that is to be the future of the Communist International. If not, then the Congress will have to get used to the idea that other big parties will also have to be attracted into the Communist International, if the Communist International is not to remain a propaganda society but is to become a powerful organisation of the world proletariat. And it is quite natural, when one is involved in controversy with parties that are numerically large, that have behind them a past, a political activity of decades, that with these parties one can find. far more points of attack, far more grounds for criticism, than one can with parties that have not had to swim in the stream of political life.

It is not my intention to plead here any particular mitigating circumstances for my party. But I should like to say one thing, that one cannot criticise my party simply on the basis of general factors, of the theoretical utterances, the newspaper statements that have until now formed the basis of the criticism of the USPD here. One cannot generalise in the way that, for the most part, has been done here. One cannot say: ‘The USPD has done this and that. It has sinned in this and that area.’ The situation at home in Germany is very special, and in the same way it is true of Germany that, since the war, all the parties are in a state of ferment and flux.

A lot could be said in answer to many of the things that have been brought up here. I want to establish just one thing: Since the November revolution of 1918, two sharply opposed tendencies have emerged within the USPD. The one was still caught up in the old democratic-reformist outlook that had been inherited from the right-wing socialist party, and the other placed itself, from the very first day of the revolution, from the very first day of the formation of the coalition government, on the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat, on the basis of the soviet system. The part that followed the creed of the dictatorship of the proletariat was at first a minority. But nevertheless, from that very day to the present day, that minority has done everything in its power to bring the USPD more and more onto the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat. You know that the last word has not yet been spoken, that it requires hard struggles to achieve the ultimate. But nevertheless we have already gone a pretty long way along that road.

If, for example, there has been controversy between various speakers, Radek etc., and Dittmann and Crispien, and there has been not unjustified criticism of the attitude at that time of the government of Peoples’ Commissars, I should still like to emphasise that besides the Peoples’ Commissars there was also a Berlin Executive Council which, although it consisted in its overwhelming majority of rightwing socialists and soldiers, constantly fought with all its energy for the abolition of the Solf type of diplomacy, for the assumption of relations with Russia and for the acceptance of the delegation from Russia. If we were unable to get our way, if our efforts were not crowned with success, then you must take into account that the phrase that Trotsky coined was very applicable for us in Germany, that ‘we had to struggle hard against the resistance of matter’. One must therefore draw distinctions. Nowhere, except in England, is the proletariat so deeply split as it is in Germany. We have to fight with not inconsiderable stratum of workers who run along behind the right-wing socialist party, who are still spellbound by clericalism, and who hang onto our legs like a ball and chain. Then we still have a number of workers who stand on the basis of the bourgeoisie, and an amorphous mass that is not yet politically organised, that is still politically indifferent and can only be driven forwards by the revolutionary workers.

In the face of these facts we have left no stone unturned in order to clarify for the workers, who for decades have been trained in parliamentary ideology, the idea of the practical application of the dictatorship. That the soviet system can be the only system on which the dictatorship of the proletariat can be built, on that point there has been a very sharp difference of opinion in our party. We must establish that in this struggle success has been and remained more and more on the side of the champions of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In this struggle against the outlook of democratic opportunism, which was undoubtedly present and still is partly, the outlook of the left wing has won through more and more.

Beside that there has also been very sharp revolutionary action in Germany. I should just like to say by way of an indication that since 1918 we have not confined ourselves to reciting our conceptions merely theoretically at meetings and on public occasions, but that to this very day, so far as our forces and our means permitted, we have done our duty in every area and will continue to do so. That we have not found uniform support in the party is understandable from the point of view of the development of the party and its fundamental outlook. The attitude that it is necessary to use illegal methods, and the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, have now, as I can say with a good conscience, won the day throughout our entire party and we have gone over to turning this recognition into practical deeds. At our March party conference the democratic tendencies and ideas were still very strong, but on the other hand the propaganda for the idea of soviets had become so strong that it could not be kept down, and thus the formulation about the anchoring of the soviet system in the’ constitution came into being. The whole subsequent development has brought about a situation where our party has, in its actions, been driven unconditionally along the path of revolution, and is to be regarded as thoroughly revolutionary.

Even if this clarification has not yet been completely carried out on the theoretical level, it must still be said that, in comparison with the March conference in Berlin, the Leipzig party conference represented a historical step forward in development. But even the Leipzig party conference is not something eternal. I am convinced that in a few months, stimulated precisely by what we have seen here, we will create a programme that will look a lot more concrete than the present Leipzig Action Programme. And since on the other hand the Communist International, I repeat, is, in its entirety, not an association for propaganda but an association for action, I am convinced, and I will do everything to bring it about, that the organisation and the action of my party will be transformed in the sense of the demands that the Communist International of the deed is making of it.

That will not be so easy since our organisation, in order to counterbalance the democratic-reformist centralisation of the old Social Democratic Party, has been decentralised. When we were still an opposition in the old party we experienced how the party leadership of Scheidemann and Ebert acted with dictatorial Powers,. had party funds at their disposal, seized newspapers and adopted every conceivable violent measure. For that reason there arose among the advanced workers of Germany a powerful dislike of the central leadership, of the structure of the leadership. The result of this dislike was that the party was to a large extent decentralised. We do not have the authority that the Russian Central Committee has, and must have, in the revolutionary epoch in which we find ourselves. The harsh constraint of the revolutionary development in Germany would doubtless also have driven us to the point of adapting our organisation to revolutionary necessity. Now comes the stimulus to Germany from Russia, and we can and must overcome the decentralised mode of organisation.

For the state of affairs is that the theoretical difficulties that do exist in our party, which can be shown in any party including my own, have a strong corrective – the example of our Russian comrades, whom I am not trying to flatter, but at whom one can take a calm and sober look and say that here a clear and determined will has taken an entire people in hand, a will which, through the channels radiating out from the International, cannot fail to have an effect in Germany too. The second stimulus is this, that every kilometre the Red Army advances is a spur to the revolution, is a step towards the revolution in Germany [Applause], and this fact forces us to prepare for the necessities of the moment.

Things do not always go as one would like, but I am convinced, when we now hear that the Berlin workers staged a big demonstration over the arrest of Béla Kun, that it was not least the activity of the USPD that called on the workers to struggle for Soviet Russia, to struggle for the German revolution, and that the USPD itself will continue to work and to act in order to become a valuable part of the Communist International. It is not true that our party is a government party. One should – I do not think that this is a very important argument – one should also judge a party according to the judgement passed on it by its opponents. Follow the press – not only the Vorwärts but also the whole right-wing press in the provinces – and you will get some idea of the desperate struggle that is being waged against the USPD, and you will see that the USPD is regarded, alongside the Communist Party, as an enemy of the state.

I should like to say something about the KPD. It was founded at a time which, as I am convinced and as many others are convinced, was not exactly favourable to the communist camp. [Interjection: ‘But at that time you wanted to found a joint party!']

We wanted to do that, and why did nothing come of it? Because the first conference of the communists placed itself in principle on a basis which it later rejected, and because at the founding conference of the party there were a number of elements whom the Communist Party later had to expel. And it was these elements under whose influence the conditions were formulated, under whose influence the Communist Party was founded. But by setting up an organisation for these purposes, it became an end in itself, and a lot has been done this last year that must be characterised as lack of clear tactics or as unjustified attacks on the USPD. I can say this in relation to the question of soviets and also in relation to other questions. There can be no twisting and getting off the hook on this question.

It is very easy from the height of your theoretical wisdom to look down on the people who have to do the petty work. Revolutionary work also demands a lot of petty work. I spoke to Comrade Levi about it once, and said that in Germany the Communist Party was the schoolmaster of the revolution and the USPD the whipping-boy of the revolution. I think that the historical moment we are now in is so important that the most important thing is before us. I am firmly convinced that oil the unfortunate obstacles that block the progress of the revolution in Germany can and must be removed by the stimulus that goes out from this Congress, in which we are participating. I believe it will be possible to bring the USPD onto the same basis as the Communist International. If we pursue the theoretical controversy to the end the result will be that there will no longer be any difference between the Independents and the Communists. And then, with good will on both sides, the other, organisational question, will be solved without any further ado.

We have to furnish proof in the form of deeds, which will come in the immediate future, and which I picture to myself in the following way: insofar as I can speak for myself, we will take all the stimuli and Theses of the Communist International back to Germany with us and harness all our strength to make sure that no organisation is excluded from learning about, discussing, carrying out and practically applying these necessities. When we have informed our party apparatus – our whole party apparatus is to participate in this direction – what the Communist, International wants, we will convene our party conference, and then it will emerge whether the majority of the party adopts the standpoint of the Communist International. If that happens, then straight away there will be no room any more for people like Kautsky, who ought to be honest enough to say a public farewell to the party, and you will always be in a position, on the basis of the centralisation, of the gathering together of all our forces, to supervise our press, our party leadership, etc. We will exclude all those elements that do not adopt the standpoint of the Communist International.

We were not entrusted with the mission of affiliating, but only of listening to the conditions and saying that we have the firm intention of taking the Communist International far beyond the inadequacies of earlier Internationals to be a strong, powerful, regular International of the whole international proletariat.

Dahlströhm: If I asked for the right to speak, it was not in order to reply to the insignificant comments that Comrade Zinoviev made against my party but in order to give the Congress a little insight into conditions* in our party.

When the Socialist Left Party was formed in Sweden, this happened because of the attempt by the social-patriot, Branting, to expel our comrades L. Höglund, Kilbom and others, who were the most radical forces in the youth league, from the Social Democratic Party.

From the old party Karl Lindhagen, Ivar Vennerström and Karl Einberg, among others, took part in the formation of the new party.

The social-democratic youth league formed the nucleus of the new party. In order not to be immediately crushed by the old, powerful party, we were forced to place the party upon as broad a basis as possible. Karl Lindhagen never submitted to the decisions of the party and still does not. He calls himself ‘wild’ and has not the slightest conception of party discipline. Recently he has formed a humanist league. This league very often fights our party.

The position Lindhagen takes up in relation to the League of Nations is absurd. The Socialist Left Party has nothing to do with this bourgeois, imperialist institution.

Karl Einberg’s attitude on the disarmament question is as follows: ‘We must’, he says, ‘work for disarmament in parliament and refuse war credits.’ At the same time he recognises the arming of the working class as a necessary result of the revolutionary epoch in which we live, in which class fights against class. The same attitude is adopted by Ivar Vennerstrom, who has not, as Comrade Zinoviev said, undergone a ‘spiritual marriage’ with Branting and his party. We have nothing further to do with this Branting party. The Swedish Left Socialist Party, whose foundation is the social-democratic youth league, forms the nucleus of the party, and this youth league was the occasion of the breach with the old party and the formation of the new.

Höglund has been the leading force for many long years, and together with Frederik Strom he has led the party through the manifold difficulties it has had to undergo.

I agree completely with Comrade Zinoviev that such comrades as Karl Lindhagen do not belong in our party or even any party at all.

We have placed ourselves unreservedly on the basis of the Communist International and we recognise unreservedly the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx. The dictatorship of the proletariat and the arming of the working class is for us the precondition of the successful carrying out of the social revolution..

Comrade Zinoviev went on to say that it is characteristic that we call our theoretical magazine Zimmerwald. For us in Sweden, Zimmerwald had the significance of a turning point in the movement; in this sense the name $till lives on as the symbol of this turning point as a mere name, which has no other meaning for us.

Stöcker: Comrades, Comrade Ernst Meyer of the KPD yesterday publicly demanded that the USPD should split. To my great amazement this statement stands in open contradiction to the whole tactics of the KPD since our Leipzig party conference. Meyer has told me privately that it was a slip of the tongue, but such an important statement must be taken back publicly. At the time – in December 1918 – I considered the splitting of the KPD from our party to be a fatal mistake. That split has exacted a bitter revenge.

A split in the USPD now would be a similar serious mistake. We left no one in doubt of the fact that we very much regretted the Communists splitting off from us. We have further also declared here that, should we affiliate to the Communist International, the first thing we would want would be a rapprochement with the KPD with the aim of a complete reconciliation. If the relationship between the Communists and ourselves in the last eighteen months has at times been very troubled, then the cause was not least the many mistakes and errors from which your party has suffered as much as ours. They have undergone a process of clarification in bitter internal struggles, and we too have undergone a process of development. It is no secret that sharp differences of opinion were represented in our party. Thus we had different opinions during the war on the pacifist ideas and utterances that many of our comrades stood for and later on the question of entering the first revolutionary government, on ways and means of collaborating with the right-wing socialists and on many of that government’s measures. Later came the struggles on the questions: ‘National Assembly or soviet system’ and ‘democracy or proletarian dictatorship’. No one will be able to deny that all these questions were resolved in our party in a way that lay in the interest of the further development of the revolution.

Today our whole party stands on the standpoint of the social revolution and the proletarian dictatorship and rejects the fraudulent democracy of the bourgeoisie, even if not always with all the necessary clarity on the nature and methods of the proletarian dictatorship.

I could wish that many of our comrades had a stronger revolutionary will and sharper theoretical clarity. But our party has undergone an enormous process of development to the left, and it will develop further. At Leipzig we gave ourselves a Communist programme that has had a powerful effect on the revolutionary thought of the German proletariat. Nobody will be able to dispute that it is our party that has born the brunt of all the revolutionary mass actions in Germany in the last eighteen months in Germany. The Executive Committee of the Communist International itself said that the major part of the best elements of the German proletariat is in our party. That would certainly not be the case if our party did not have a thoroughly revolutionary practice and strong fundamental development to the left behind it. Who can today distinguish us from the Communists, since the latter have placed themselves upon a clear Marxist foundation? [Interjections.]

Certainly there are still differences of opinion within our party today. In this way Comrade Levi has reproached us with Ledebour’s remarks on terrorism. Ledebour stands more or less in isolation with his somewhat peculiar remarks. On the question of the use of force we are completely united, with perhaps one or two exceptions which are unavoidable in a mass party. And as far as terrorism is concerned, I myself declared to Comrade Ledebour in Leipzig that I could very well imagine revolutionary situations in which terrorist measures would be unavoidable. And you can be sure that if the German revolution has a knife at its throat, as you had with Denikin at Orel, Yudenich at Petrograd and Kolchak on the Volga, then the German revolution will without a doubt adopt the same revolutionary measures that were applied here in Russia. But to be clear on the necessity of doing this and to propagate terrorism openly as a programmatic tactic are two different things. I am firmly convinced that not a single communist party affiliated to the Communist International has accepted in its programme terrorism as a tactical measure.

Let us take for example the KPD. In the programme of the party written by Comrade Luxemburg it says: ‘In the bourgeois revolution bloodshed, terror and fury were an indispensable weapon in the hands of the rising classes. The proletarian revolution does not need terror to achieve its ends, it hates and curses murder.’ [Interjection from Radek: ‘Read on!'] just wait, Comrade Radek, I shall read on. Since terrorism is clearly rejected here, the use of force is recommended. On this it says: ‘The proletarian revolution is not the desperate attempt of a minority to mould the world according to their ideal, but the action of the great masses of millions of people ... the force of the proletariat must be counterposed to the force of the bourgeois counter-revolution. The fight for socialism is the most violent civil war that world history has ever seen, and the social revolution must prepare itself the necessary armaments for this civil war and must learn to use them – to struggle and to win.’ These propositions are self-evident for us. The civil war in Germany is there, we are in the middle of it, and we will do everything in our power to prepare the working class for the coming decisive struggles.

Just a few words more on two of the questions in our letter that have excited criticism. First of all the continuity of economic life during the revolution. Obviously the process of production will suffer serious disruption during the coming revolutionary struggles, first of all because of the serious consequences of the civil war and its military occurrences, secondly as a result of the transformation that we must immediately undertake of capitalist production into socialist production, and the resistance and sabotage of the employers that this will call into being. Whoever wants the social revolution will have to accept the disruption of the process of production as well. An the same, in an industrial country like Germany, we will have to place more emphasis upon maintaining economic life than is the case in an agricultural country like Russia. And thus I come to our statement that Russian methods cannot be applied mechanically to the countries of Western Europe. We do not have an army of millions of revolutionary peasants in Germany, as you do in Russia, but a counter-revolutionary peasantry that will probably place the greatest difficulties in our path. Moreover, we do have an army of millions of intellectual workers, commercial clerks, bank employees, technicians, engineers, petty officials, etc., a considerable part of whom must join us as the conscious exponents of the proletarian dictatorship if the latter is not to be doomed to failure from the very start. Thus in Germany we have other preconditions for the achievement of the dictatorship of the proletariat and perhaps in detail other forms for the exercise of the dictatorship. In general of course the lessons of the proletarian revolution in Russia are also valid for us in Germany. If our party has been slower than we could have wished in coming to the Communist International, then one reason for this, and by no means the least, is that in Germany we have a Communist Party by which the masses judge the Communist International, and we cannot and must not pass over in silence the fact that, with the exception of its Central Committee, all the local and area organisations of this party have for a long time pursued the policies of elements of what is now the KAPD.

If I mentioned the greater difficulties the social revolution faces in Germany, this was not at all because I look into the future in any sense pessimistically. On the contrary, capitalism in our country is approaching its end more and more. Economically, financially and in relation to food policy we are coming ever closer to the catastrophe of capitalism. We will soon be in the middle of new revolutionary struggles in Germany, perhaps in only a few months. We will do everything to sharpen the contradictions. We will beat the bourgeoisie and set up the German Soviet Republic. Hand in hand with Soviet Russia and the Communist International we will fight for the world revolution.

Jörgensen: I had not intended to take the floor in this discussion, but some remarks that Comrade Zinoviev made on the programme of the Danish Left Socialist Party force me to say a few words on the activity and the programme of that party.

It is obviously impossible to deal with the conditions in the Danish party in every detail in a comparatively short discussion. I should only like to point out that our party was formed by the fusion of three different parties.

1. The Socialist Workers’ Party of Denmark, which has a pure communist programme and affiliated to the Communist International as early as the beginning of 1919.

2. The Independent Social Democracy of Denmark, which was formed simultaneously with the Socialist Workers’ Party in April 1918 and had a petty-bourgeois character.

3. The Social Democratic Youth League which, until the time the unified party was formed, had thought it possible to remain in the Social Democracy.

These facts alone show that our party is composed of the most disparate elements. But developments both economic and political have driven our party more and more to the left, and our programme is the result of this rapid development. At our founding congress on February 29 and March 1 of this year, not only was it unanimously decided to affiliate to the Communist International but there was also almost unanimous acceptance of a programme that must be described as communist.

Comrade Zinoviev has found a weak point in this programme. And Comrade Zinoviev has good reason to wax ironical over the sentence he quoted. But I must draw your attention to the facts:

1. That the translation in which the sentence in question was read was very bad.

2. That the context in which the sentence occurs proves that we Danish communists do not claim that the revolution can at all events be peaceful, but that we only claim that it could perhaps take place peacefully.

You will perhaps permit me to read out the part of the programme that lays down our position on the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. [Reads].

As can be seen from our programme, there is not a single word there about the necessity for a peaceful, bloodless revolution. It is only said that it is possible that the revolution in Denmark will be bloodless. In this conception of ours we are in complete agreement with Comrade Lenin, who has often stated and written that a bloodless revolution is possible in certain economically backward countries.

The important question anyway is not whether the revolution will be bloody or bloodless. The main thing is that the working class takes the power – what means it uses is immaterial. I personally have the conception that the revolution in the economically developed countries will everywhere be bloody, probably much bloodier than the Russian revolution, since the European bourgeoisie is much stronger and better armed than the Russian bourgeoisie was.

Denmark is an economically backward country, and the Danish people are small peasants and petty bourgeois. A revolution in Denmark is unthinkable until a revolution has taken place in Germany. We are totally and utterly dependent on the development in the great states.

I admit that our programme is not complete. And yet in the paragraph concerning the dictatorship of the proletariat it is much clearer and sharper than for example the programme of the Swedish Left Socialist Party.

There would be many more grounds for criticising our activities than for criticising our programme. We have, however, in our short life carried out work that we do not at all need to be ashamed of . In the comparatively short time from December 9 to June 1 we founded and developed 45 sections of the party. We have also carried out propaganda work, particularly with our daily paper, Arbejdet.

We have to struggle against great difficulties, and all those who have the slightest knowledge of conditions in Denmark will confirm that Denmark has relatively the largest and most corrupt Social Democratic Party.

Precisely because of our conception of the necessity of the proletarian dictatorship we have to fight not only against the social democrats but also against the syndicalists, who are thoroughgoing opponents of any dictatorship.

But I will admit that we Danish communists must be driven more and more to the left, and we can be thankful when we get from the Communist International the stimulus to ever more revolutionary agitation and action.

Development has completely and utterly proved that all belief in a gradual, imperceptible growing over into socialism must be regarded as a utopia. The socialisation of the means of production can only come about through ever more violent class struggles culminating in the social revolution. _Whether this is concluded quickly and bloodlessly depends on whether the bourgeoisie itself realises that its role has been played out.

How long the subsequent dictatorship of the proletariat, which is necessary to transform production and distribution, will last, is also indirectly dependent on the behaviour of the bourgeoisie. The takeover of all means of production and all property, as well as the cultivation of the land, is to be carried out by town and country soviets, which at the same time take over political power and replace the bourgeois parliament.

Denmark’s Left Socialist Party considers it to be its duty to rally the working class on this basis and to prepare them for the great decisive fight between the upper and lower classes.

The party does not strive only for the dictatorship of one social class, but considers it to be a necessary transitional state. This dictatorship can never be achieved by unplanned attempts at putsch or revolution. What the party strives for as a final goal is harmonious social relations under which the system of exploitation and violence is abolished, and it therefore opposes militarism with all its might.

In its fight the party will ascribe the greatest value to the socialist enlightenment of the masses and extra-parliamentary action, but it will at the same time use parliamentarism (participation in parliamentary and local elections) until the revolutionary moment in time has come when, through the town and country soviets, it can create a form of government for the political and economic equality of all – the democracy of labour.

Friis: [Reads the following declaration]: The Norwegian delegation draws your attention to the fact that in the Conditions for Entry into the Communist International the special form of organisation of the Norwegian Labour Party, the collective affiliation of the trades unions to the party, is not taken into account.

Referring to its report on party activity, the delegation proposes that negotiations should be started between the Executive Committee and the parties in question that permit collective membership.

Zinoviev: On this I can only say that we will take the opportunity to examine the situation thoroughly and we advise the Norwegian party to introduce a new party structure, so that individual membership replaces collective membership.

The Swedish party has also confirmed what has been said here.

The Yugoslav party is not an opportunist party, and I did not mean .that, but a revolutionary party. But it should not tolerate opportunists in its ranks.

I should like moreover to propose the following motion: [The motion is read out.]

It would be very good for the parties of every county if they were a little afraid of the Communist International. We should always have a mirror in which the parties can see their reflections.

The Executive Committee was asked yesterday why the KAPD is not represented. The representatives of the KAPD, Rühle and Merges, declared at the last minute that they did not want to attend the Congress. We had at the outset granted them an advisory vote, but at the last minute we proposed they should have a full vote because we wanted to force them to a discussion. They nevertheless refused to attend the Congress with the declaration that they had read our Theses and were convinced that we were too opportunist for them. They ran away from the Congress. They did not have enough confidence in themselves to represent their views before a forum like the Communist International. They are therefore not here because they did not want to be here.

I agree with those comrades who said that the last declaration of Cachin and Frossard was a sort of retreat. After I received their declaration I wrote them the following letter. [The letter is read out.]

They wrote me a letter in answer. [The letter is read out.]

So now we must wait and see what follows.

Now I come to the group of speakers who have criticised the Executive Committee from the ‘left’. Wijnkoop and others said that it was wrong of the Executive Committee to allow such people as the Independents and the French in at all. I ask the Congress, have we lost anything by negotiating so clearly and so exhaustively with these representatives? Will it be bad if yesterday’s and today’s minutes are published and workers read them? On the contrary. It is good that these opinions will now be clear to the whole world. Comrade Goldenberg made a whole long speech about how impossible it would be to accept such elements into the Communist International. Well, we are not proposing to do that. We are only asking you to give the Executive a mandate to check after the Congress whether the conditions have been followed. We have, in the name of the praesidium of the Congress, given the French delegation a letter which you have perhaps read today in the Russian press. We told them that Longuet was a social pacifist and not a revolutionary, that his past and that of his friends was a shameful one. Unity with Renaudel and Thomas means the same as unity with the dog Noske. We told them straight out what we had to tell them. This letter will be published in France by the Communists and perhaps by Humanité, and the French will be able to read it and judge it. In this way we will talk to the workers who still have confidence in the centrists. What would we have told them if we had not negotiated with Cachin and Frossard?

We have nothing to fear from Crispien’s Kautskyanism. We have not proposed to the Congress that these elements should be accepted into the Communist International, so you do not need to slam any open doors. We will not accept the USPD and the French Socialist Party as they are now. We demand a purge and a transformation of the entire politics of these parties. And we will get it.

It will be a step forward if these Theses are read out everywhere in the factories and at meetings.

Let the centrists write counter-theses and present them to the masses. The action has started to move now. That is why I say that this so-called opposition from the ‘left’ is groundless and is limping with both feet. That is precisely the ‘futurism’ that Guilbeaux spoke about. I repeat, the only thing that we have proposed is this, that first of all the Executive should be convinced that all the conditions are really being fulfilled, and afterwards the Executive must have the mandate to accept these parties and also, in accordance with the statutes of the Communist International, the right to expel them at any time. We are sufficiently armed and need have nothing to fear.

To Comrade Serrati I should like to say the following: The position in Italy is intolerable for the Communist International. The whole trades union movement in Italy is in the hands of reformists. For that the party is to blame. Comrades, I must inform you that the Italian trades unions have now failed to convene a Congress for the seventh year in succession, and this is tolerated by a party that belongs to the Communist International! The people of D'Aragona’s stamp know that the workers will throw them out as soon as they convene a congress. Such concessions are a scandal! How can you carry out a proletarian revolution when the leaders of the trades unions are dyed-in-the-wool reformists?! So, comrades, you can see that matters are not so harmless and friendly as Serrati described them in his speech. The Communist International cannot tolerate that. If the leaders of the Italian party want to continue to tolerate it, we will appeal over their heads to the Italian workers.

One more word, comrades, on the left in the USPD. We know very well that the USPD is a formless bloc of two tendencies. When one listens to Crispien, one has to say that he says the same as Kautsky. The representatives of the left USPD comforted us. The comrades said: ‘But things are moving forwards. Don’t be so impatient. Everything will sort itself out. just wait.’ I ask: Is that all you have to tell us, Comrade Däumig? I think it is very unsatisfactory, comrade. Are the difficulties that place themselves in our path really a reason for us to bring our actions to a standstill?’ But things are moving forwards none the less’, says the left in the USPD comfortingly, instead of acting. We used to be proud of the fact that our party is a factor in history, that we accelerated the course of history. The comfort offered by the USPD is no good. You signed a statement of the USPD Central Committee, Comrade Däumig, which is really no brilliant chapter in the history of the USPD. How was that possible? Because the left in the USPD is not organised because it does not know what it wants, because it cannot liberate itself from the embrace of the moribund right-wing opportunists. The proletariat had to show you the way.

We passed a resolution on the role of the party. Why have you not said anything on this point? We have shown how the Bolsheviks were able, at the beginning of the war, in the stream of chauvinism, to swim against the stream when it was necessary.

It is our historical task to lead the way for the working class, and not to wait until we are dragged forward. We have waited long enough. The working class has waited long enough, now the decisive struggles have come.

It is possible that even in the next few months the working class in Germany will be faced with decisive struggles. How can you still waver on the question of terror? I think we have taken enough punches in Russia. You should learn from our mistakes too. We experienced how, after we released him, General Krasnov organised the civil war. You are forgetting the lessons of your own German revolution, of the murder of Liebknecht. There is scarcely a single street in the working-class districts of the big German towns where workers’ blood has not flowed. We must take these lessons to heart.

I ask the Congress that we should now adopt the Conditions, hand them over to the Commission for final editing, and then vote on them. But whoever signs these 21 points is not being baptised a communist. We must follow whether the parties are really carrying out these conditions, and I hope that the Executive Committee will do this. We do not need people to genuflect before the Russian revolution and the Communist International. All we need is for people in other countries to do their duty and carry out their obligations. We do not only feel ourselves to be a party that rules a great country, but also – and that is our pride – a Communist Party which, together with other parties, has founded the Communist International. It is, indeed, not for nothing that we talk about a world revolution, and the Communist International is not a Russian but a world organisation. We are proud that the Congress can take place on our territory. Naturally we are also proud when we hear many of you say that something has been achieved here in Russia. But we must demand that you do not come at us with phrases, but that you tell us openly and clearly when the Italian trades union movement, the magnificent Italian working class is at last going to be liberated, when really communist parties are finally going to be built everywhere.

That is why, comrades, I ask you to accept the following Theses:

Theses on the conditions of admission to the Communist International

The First Congress of the Communist International did not draw up precise conditions for admission to the Communist International. Until the time the first congress was convened there were in most countries only communist trends and groups. The Second Congress of the Communist International meets under different conditions. At the present time there are in most countries not only communist trends and tendencies, but communist parties and organisations.

Now parties and groups often turn to the Communist International which quite recently belonged to the Second International, which wish to join the Communist International but which have not, in fact, become communist. The Second International has been finally smashed to pieces. The parties in between and the ‘centre’ groups, which realise the hopelessness of the Second International, now try to lean upon the Communist International, which is becoming more and more powerful. In the process, however, they hope to retain an ‘autonomy’ that will permit them to continue their previous opportunist or ‘centrist’ policies. To a certain extent the Communist International is becoming fashionable.

The desire of certain leading ‘centrist’ groups to join the Communist International is an indirect confirmation of the fact that the Communist International has gained the sympathy of the overwhelming majority of class-conscious workers all over the world and that it is becoming a force that grows more powerful each day.

The Communist International is threatened by the danger of being watered down by elements characterised by vacillation and half-measures, which have not yet finally discarded the ideology of the Second International.

Moreover, to this very day there remains in some big parties (Italy, Sweden, Norway, Yugoslavia, among others), whose majorities have adopted the standpoint of communism, a significant reformist and social-pacifist wing which is only waiting for the opportunity to raise its head again, to start active sabotage of the proletarian revolution and thus to help the bourgeoisie and the Second International.

Not a single communist may forget the lessons of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. The fusion of the Hungarian communists with the so-called ‘left’ social democrats cost the Hungarian proletariat dear.

Consequently the Second Congress of the Communist International considers it necessary to establish quite precisely the conditions for the admittance of new parties and to point out to those parties that have been admitted to the Communist International the duties incumbent on them.

The Second Congress of the Communist International lays down the following conditions of membership of the Communist International:

1. All propaganda and agitation must bear a really communist character and correspond to the programme and decisions of the Communist International. All the party’s press organs must be run by reliable communists who have proved their devotion to the cause of the proletariat. The dictatorship of the proletariat must not be treated simply as a current formula learnt off by heart. Propaganda for it must be carried out in such a way that its necessity is comprehensible to every simple worker, every woman worker, every soldier and peasant from the facts of their daily lives, which must be observed systematically by our press and used day by day.

The periodical and other press and all the party’s publishing institutions must be subordinated to the party leadership, regardless of whether, at any given moment, the party as a whole is legal or illegal. The publishing houses must not be allowed to abuse their independence and pursue policies that do not entirely correspond to the policies of the party.

In the columns of the press, at public meetings, in the trades unions, in the co-operatives – wherever the members of the Communist International can gain admittance – it is necessary to brand not only the bourgeoisie but also its helpers, the reformists of every shade, systematically and pitilessly.

2. Every organisation that wishes to affiliate to the Communist International must regularly and methodically remove reformists and centrists from every responsible post in the labour movement (party organisations, editorial boards, trades unions, parliamentary factions, co-operatives, local government) and replace them with tested communists, without worrying unduly about the fact that, particularly at first, ordinary workers from the masses will be replacing ‘experienced’ opportunists.

3. In almost every country in Europe and America the class struggle is entering the phase of civil war. Under such conditions the communists can place no trust in bourgeois legality. They have the obligation of setting up a parallel organisational apparatus which, at the decisive moment, can assist the party to do its duty to the revolution. In every country where a state of siege or emergency laws deprive the communists of the opportunity of carrying on all their work legally, it is absolutely necessary to combine legal and illegal activity.

4. The duty of propagating communist ideas includes the special obligation of forceful and systematic propaganda in the army. Where this agitation is interrupted by emergency laws it must be continued illegally. Refusal to carry out such work would be tantamount to a betrayal of revolutionary duty and would be incompatible with membership of the Communist International.

5. Systematic and methodical agitation is necessary in the countryside. The working class will not be able to win if it does not have the backing of the rural proletariat and at least a part of the poorest peasants, and if it does not secure the neutrality of at least a part of the rest of the rural population through its policies. Communist work in the countryside is taking on enormous importance at the moment. It must be carried out principally with the help of revolutionary communist workers of the town and country who have connections with the countryside. To refuse to carry this work out, or to entrust it to unreliable, semi-reformist hands, is tantamount to renouncing the proletarian revolution.

6. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International has the obligation to unmask not only open social-patriotism but also the insincerity and hypocrisy of social-pacificism, to show the workers systematically that, without the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, no international court of arbitration, no agreement on the limitation of armaments, no ‘democratic’ reorganisation of the League of Nations will be able to prevent new imperialist wars.

7. The parties that wish to belong to the Communist International have the obligation of recognising the necessity of a complete break with reformism and ‘centrist’ politics and of spreading this break among the widest possible circles of their party members. Consistent communist politics are impossible without this.

The Communist International unconditionally and categorically demands the carrying out of this break in the shortest possible time. The Communist International cannot tolerate a situation where notorious opportunists, as represented by Turati, Modigliani, Kautsky, Hilferding, Hillquit, Longuet, MacDonald, etc., have the right to pass as members of the Communist International. This could only lead to the Communist International becoming something very similar to the wreck of the Second International.

8. A particularly marked and clear attitude on the question of the colonies and oppressed nations is necessary on the part of the communist parties of those countries whose bourgeoisies are in possession of colonies and oppress other nations. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International has the obligation of exposing the dodges of its ‘own’ imperialists in the colonies, of supporting every liberation movement in the colonies not only in words but in deeds, of demanding that their imperialist compatriots should be thrown out of the colonies, of cultivating in the hearts of the workers in their own country a truly fraternal relationship to the working population in the colonies and to the oppressed nations, and of carrying out systematic propaganda among their own country’s troops against any oppression of colonial peoples.

9. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International must systematically and persistently develop communist activities within the trades unions, workers’ and works councils, the consumer co-operatives and other mass workers’ organisations. Within these organisations it is necessary to organise communist cells which are to win the trades unions etc. for the cause of communism by incessant and persistent work. In their daily work the cells have the obligation to expose everywhere the treachery of the social patriots and the vacillations of the ‘centrists’. The communist cells must be completely subordinated to the party as a whole.

10. Every party belonging to the Communist International has the obligation to wage a stubborn struggle against the Amsterdam ‘International’ of yellow trade union organisations. It must expound as forcefully as possible among trades unionists the idea of the necessity of the break with the yellow Amsterdam International. It must support the International Association of Red Trades Unions affiliated to the Communist International, at present in the process of formation, with every means at its disposal.

11. Parties that wish to belong to the Communist International have the obligation to subject the personal composition of their parliamentary factions to review, to remove all unreliable elements from them and to subordinate these factions to the party leadership, not only in words but also in deeds, by calling on every individual communist member of parliament to subordinate the whole of his activity to the interests of really revolutionary propaganda and agitation.

12. The parties belonging to the Communist International must be built on the basis of the principle of democratic centralism. In the present epoch of acute civil war the communist party will only be able to fulfil its duty if it is organised in as centralist a manner as possible, if iron discipline reigns within it and if the party centre, sustained by the confidence of the party membership, is endowed with the fullest rights and authority and the most far-reaching powers.

13. The communist parties of those countries in which the communists can carry out their work legally must from time to time undertake purges (re-registration) of the membership of their party organisations in order to cleanse the party systematically of the petty-bourgeois elements within it.

14. Every party that. wishes to belong to the Communist International has the obligation to give unconditional support to every soviet republic in its struggle against the forces of counter-revolution. The communist parties must carry out clear propaganda to prevent the transport of war material to the enemies of the soviet republics. They must also carry out legal or illegal propaganda, etc., with every means at their disposal among troops sent to stifle workers’ republics.

15. Parties that have still retained their old social democratic programmes have the obligation of changing those programmes as quickly as possible and working out a new communist programme corresponding to the particular conditions in the country and in accordance with the decisions of the Communist International.

As a rule the programme of every party belonging to the Communist International must be ratified by a regular Congress of the Communist International or by the Executive Committee. Should the Executive Committee of the Communist International reject a party’s programme, the party in question has the right of appeal to the Congress of the Communist International.

16. All decisions of the Congresses of the Communist International and decisions of its Executive Committee are binding on all parties belonging to the Communist International. The Communist International, acting under conditions of the most acute civil war, must be built in a far more centralist manner than was the case with the Second International. In the process the Communist International and its Executive Committee must, of course, in the whole of its activity, take into account the differing conditions under which the individual parties have to fight and work, and only take generally binding decisions in cases where such decisions are possible.

17. In this connection all those parties that wish to belong to the Communist International must change their names. Every party that wishes to belong to the Communist International must bear the name Communist Party of this or that country (Section of the Communist International). The question of the name is not formal, but a highly political question of great importance. The Communist International has declared war on the whole bourgeois world and on all yellow social-democratic parties. The difference between the communist parties and the old official ‘social-democratic’ or ‘socialist’ parties that have betrayed the banner of the working class must be clear to every simple toiler.

18. All the leading press organs of the parties in every country have the duty of printing all the important official documents of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.

19. All parties that belong to the Communist International or have submitted an application for membership have the duty of calling a special congress as soon as possible, and in no case later than four months after the Second Congress of the Communist International, in order to check all these conditions. In this connection all party centres must see that the decisions of the Second Congress are known to all their local organisations.

20. Those parties that now wish to enter the Communist International but have not yet radically altered their previous tactics must, before they join the Communist International, see to it that no less than two thirds of the central committee and of all their most important central institutions consist of comrades who even before the Second Congress of the Communist International spoke out unambiguously in public in favour of the entry of the party into the Communist International. Exceptions may be permitted with the agreement of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. The Executive Committee of the Communist International also has the right to make exceptions in relation to the representatives of the centrist tendency mentioned in paragraph 7.

21. Those party members who fundamentally reject the conditions and Theses laid down by the Communist International are to be expelled from the party.

The same will apply particularly to delegates to the special party congress.

Zinoviev: The general discussion is over. Some comrades have asked for the right to speak in order to make personal declarations.

Serrati: It is possible that the short declaration I made in my speech on the Theses that were being discussed was not understood. What I said here was that I am in complete agreement with them and that I shall vote for them because I think that the Executive Committee of the Communist International conceives them in a broad sense, in accordance with Paragraphs 16 and 17. I would also like to say that Zinoviev is right to regret the fact that the Italian CGT has not called a Congress in the last six or seven years. I am not replying to Comrade Zinoviev for personal or political reasons, but simply for the sake of order. The congress of the Italian CGT is being prepared.

I would like to make a short remark with reference to Dugoni. I alone was opposed to the parliamentary group being sent to Russia. Yesterday I sent off a telegram demanding that Dugoni, if he really made the declaration that has been ascribed to him, should be immediately expelled from the party.

Wijnkoop: Comrade Levi understood my remarks to mean that I did not wish to criticise the KPD because the USPD was present. He is mistaken. I only want to establish the fact that, since the USPD was present, the KPD was not subjected to any criticism. I regretted that and I said that the conclusions drawn from that fact were mistaken.

Dittmann: When this morning Comrade Levi accused us of having disavowed the sailors murdered at Kiel and Willielmshaven, he forgot that I declared from the rostrum that these sailors died as heroes and martyrs of the German revolution, a declaration that the reactionary press was not slow to emphasise. The role of these sailors and of their deeds is anyway known only through its consequences. Levi has therefore stated a false fact from the rostrum.

Levi: I did not blame the USPD, but three men, three leaders of that party, who disavowed our revolutionary sailors. They did not disavow them in the literal sense of the word, they confined themselves to disavowing this deed from the political standpoint. Otherwise they would have had to call upon the proletariat and the army to follow them, which they prudently avoided doing. [Applause.]

Dittmann: I do not think that a distinction can be drawn here. You will appreciate that I do not carry all the minutes of all the Reichstag debates I have ever spoken in around in my pocket. What I said about the facts of the case itself in the Reichstag was the literal truth. We only exchanged a few words in passing with the sailors and gave them our party’s agitational pamphlet. We did not know at that time what the sailors intended to do.

Levi: Comrade Wijnkoop misunderstood me. I accused him of having fallen victim to the ideology of the USPD since he did not want to talk openly about the KPD in the presence of the USPD.

Comrade Dittmann is right to emphasise here that the three USPD representatives did not forget themselves so far as to rob the sailors of their personal honour too. They let the executed sailors keep their personal honour. But the question is whether at that moment the USPD stood up for the sailors politically and declared its solidarity with them. The USPD disavowed the fallen sailors. It did not seize the opportunity to carry out propaganda for the end of the war. It distanced itself from these people and has remained’ at a distance to this very day.

Dittmann: I think that drawing distinctions between personal and political defence is a barrister’s method.

Levi: I would like to remind the comrade that we have often drawn a distinction between the personal and the political standpoint. I could point to the Russian anarchists whose political methods we reject but whose personalities on the other hand we respect.

Dittmann: Unfortunately, comrades, the whole affair has been misrepresented. The leadership turned against the representatives of the USPD to rob them of their parliamentary immunity. This is the basis of the whole affair. In our speeches in parliament we always fought for the ending of the terrible slaughter.

And I can really see no difference between my personal evaluation of what the sailors did, which I expressed in the Reichstag, and our political evaluation.

Levi: I am forced to remind you once again that it is normal to draw a distinction between a political and an individual action. The Russian anarchists’ terror filled us with personal sympathy for those who carried it out, but we certainly refused to approve of it politically.

Dittmann: I firmly maintain the opinion I expressed before.

Goldenberg: I shall vote against the Theses proposed to us by the Executive Committee. I ask you to allow me to read out a declaration or to hand it over to the bureau to be included in the minutes.

Serrati: If it is a question of a personal declaration you have a right to read it out.

Goldenberg: It is a personal declaration. It reads:

‘The normal process of development of the capitalist order, which has been accelerated by the imperialist war of 1914-1918, has divided the proletariat of every country into two mutually opposed camps the faction of the reformists and the faction of the revolutionaries. The Communist Party expresses the revolutionary tendency. The Communist International, which embraces all the Communist Parties of every country, is the international organisation of the revolutionary proletariat.

‘Since it has set itself the goal of violently overthrowing the capitalist order and setting up communism with the help of the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is very important that it contains no elements which can betray the interests of revolution at the decisive moment. Consequently all non-communist elements must be expelled from the Communist International.

‘There can therefore be no question of any possibility of admitting so-called centrist parties to the Communist International. As representatives of the labour aristocracy who have adopted bourgeois ideology they in no way fulfil any of the preconditions for entry into it. They are its most determined opponents. It is purely and simply the failure of the attempt to gather the parties and factions hostile to the Communist International around themselves that has forced them to knock on our door. Under these conditions the adoption of communist principles can only be enormous hypocrisy.

‘The tactic that the Communist International must adopt towards these “centrist” parties in which the split between the reformists and the revolutionaries has not yet taken place must consist in supporting that split and the formation of a purely communist party that is the expression of the revolutionary faction of the proletariat.

‘But this split cannot be called forth from outside in an artificial manner. It must be the result of a profound movement of the masses. Oral acceptance of the principles of communist tactics on the part of the opportunist leaders, who are very far from carrying out this transformation in deeds, can on the contrary only damage it by increasing the confusion reigning in peoples’ heads. It can have no other result than to discredit communism and thus to render the creation of a real party of the working class more difficult.

‘The Communist International will therefore reply to these “centrist “ parties’ applications for admission with open and inexorable criticism of these parties. It will have to show the masses that follow them that they must break with the petty bourgeois ideology of their opportunist leaders and adopt the standpoint of the communist minority completely and without reservation. They must in any case work in close agreement with this minority and make their activity in their narrow circle easier. Finally, everywhere that a split has become possible, this must be encouraged as the only means to unite the working class on a purely revolutionary programme. To abandon this standpoint to make it easier for the centrist parties to enter the Communist International would mean bringing gangrene into a healthy body and accepting into its midst enemies who will stab it in the back at the decisive moment.’

Serrati: Comrade Zinoviev informs me that he. does not accept Comrade Goldenberg’s theses.

Guilbeaux: The bureau has several motions which are, I believe, to be referred back to the commission. But I propose we should vote on the motion from Serrati and Graziadei that forbids communists to belong to the Freemasons.

Serrati: We will take a vote on Guilbeaux’s proposal. [Unanimously accepted.]

Serrati: I propose that we vote on the Theses as a whole and refer the proposals back to the commission. [Accepted.]

Wijnkoop: I propose that we discuss at least one motion here and not in the commission. I mean the proposal that in every party that wishes to join the Communist International at least two thirds of the membership of the central committee must have been in favour of entry into the Communist International before this Congress.

Radek: I propose that we refer this motion to the commission. We must discuss seriously whether we can see the situation in the USPD saved by having specifically nine tenths or three quarters of the central committee. Personally, after the performance of Comrades Däumig and Stöcker, I have lost any hope that they will be able to carry out any real changes in the party’s tactics, even if they have nine tenths of the central committee. I propose that we leave this motion to the commission.

Serrati: I shall now take a vote on Comrade Wijnkoop’s motion [A vote is taken.] The motion is rejected. It will be referred to the commission for amendment.

I shall now take a vote on Comrade Zinoviev’s Theses in the form in which they are presented here. [The vote follows. The Theses are passed with two votes against.]

We must now establish the agenda for our work. The bureau proposes to close the discussion at 5 o'clock. It is now 6 o'clock. Today’s work is finished. Tomorrow there will be a women’s conference. All the commissions must work on Sunday. On Monday at 11 o'clock in the morning there will be a full session on parliamentarism. The commission on the agrarian question will meet at 8 o'clock in the evening in the small hall.

Wijnkoop: We must take a vote on whether we wish to give the Executive a mandate to continue the negotiations with the USPD and the French party in the same way that it started them and carried them out.

Serrati: Since this motion has been introduced at the last minute I ask Comrade Wijnkoop to withdraw his motion and raise it again tomorrow.

Wijnkoop: Gladly.



Radek demands the floor. Serrati refuses him, as the session has already been closed. The session is closed at 6 o'clock.

 

 

 

Eighth Session
August 2



Zinoviev: The session is open.

It was precisely a year ago today that the Hungarian Soviet Republic fell. During this year we have, as you know, lost thousands and thousands of our best comrades in Hungary. It was also a year ago that one of our best friends, Comrade Tibor Szamuely, fell as the first victim of the Hungarian counter-revolution. I ask the Congress to rise in this comrade’s honour, and I express the hope that the time is no longer far off when we will once more have a soviet republic in Hungary. The soviet republic fell last year. Long live the Soviet Republic of Hungary!

Dittmann: On behalf of Comrade Crispien, who cannot attend the Congress because of illness, I have read the following declaration:

‘In the session of the Congress of July 30, 1920, in which I unfortunately could not take part because of illness, the reporter in his winding-up described me as a social-pacifist, that is he represented me as a man who dreams of the reconciliation of the classes or believes that class contradictions can be abolished peacefully.

‘In my more than 25 years of activity in the workers’ movement I have never represented social-pacifist ideas. I reject them decisively.

‘I am convinced that capitalist class society can only be overcome by the ruthless independent class struggle of the proletariat, by the conquest of political power by the working class and by the dictatorship of the proletariat.'

Wijnkoop: I already said during the last session that a further vote must take place. The chairman Serrati did not carry this out then. I therefore propose that a vote now take place on the question of whether the Executive be given a mandate to continue to negotiate with the USPD and the French Socialist Party in the way that is happening now or not. This mandate must be voted on, and I propose that we take this vote now. But I also propose, together with the delegates from Bulgaria and Mexico, that we do not take this vote in the way that has been done up until now, but that every country casts a vote here.

Radek: One could have hoped that, having had time on Saturday and Sunday to sleep on this question, Comrade Wijnkoop would not have put it, as it has already been decided. That is to say that we have passed a resolution calling on the Executive Committee to decide, after the parties in question have accepted our conditions at their congresses and it has been shown in practice whether or not they are going to carry them out, whether the parties will be accepted into the Communist International or not. If we give the Executive the right to decide whether or not a party will be accepted, then we cannot deny it the right to continue negotiations with that party. The motion cannot be discussed, it has already been decided, and I propose that we carry on with the agenda without any further discussion.

Zinoviev: It is proposed to close the debate. I shall first of all take a vote on this question. [Vote.] The Bureau’s proposal is accepted. Now we come to the material vote. All those in favour of Comrade Wijnkoop’s proposal please raise their hands. [Vote.] The motion is rejected.

I propose to use the English language now instead of the French language for the following reasons. Six or seven more comrades have come who do not understand French. We have held half of the Congress in French. We must now save time, and since the question of the trades unions and of parliament is now particularly being discussed we must speak English.

The next point on the agenda is Comrade Bukharin’s report.

Bukharin: Comrades! First of all I ask your forgiveness for my German. It will not be the German language at all, but a substitute language. We have shared the work in the following way: First of all I shall report on the principal questions raised and the appropriate solution of these questions: secondly Comrade Wolfstein will report on the work of our Commission, and then comes the report by Comrade Bordiga, who believes that in this epoch of the destruction of the world capitalist system in general we cannot take part in any parliaments at all.

And now to the matter in hand. We must, whenever we pose any problem, always start from the concrete epoch. And here we have a principal difference between the previous epoch of peaceful development and the present one, which is the epoch of the collapse of the capitalist system, the epoch of the class war, civil war and the proletarian dictatorship. The ‘peaceful’ epoch – and even this epoch, it must be said, was not peaceful if we take the colonies into account can be characterised as the epoch of a certain community of interest between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This community of interest rested, particularly with the proletariat of the highly developed capitalist countries, on the fact that the big capitalist countries followed terrible imperialist policies. For that reason the capitalist classes of the countries in question were in a position to make super-profits and from these super-profits to pay out higher wages to the proletariat of their own countries. What in his day Kautsky said, that imperialist policies were of no advantage at all to the working class, is in principle incorrect. If we were to regard the matter from the standpoint of the temporary interests of the working class, one could claim that imperialist policies brought a certain advantage, and that was the higher wages of the workers which could be paid out of the capitalists’ super-profits.

If we can regard this epoch as the epoch of a certain community of interest between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, then we are thus given a second characteristic of this epoch, that is to say that it was also the epoch of the growing over of the workers’ organisations into the bourgeois state apparatus. What the reformists described as the growth of socialism was the growing over of the working class and also of the workers’ organisations into the bourgeois state apparatus. This phenomenon emerged particularly blatantly in the period of state capitalism, when in fact practically all the workers’ organisations and quite large workers’ organisations – appeared as components of the state-capitalist state apparatus. If we consider the great political parties of the working class, the yellow social democracy and the trades unions during the war, we can find that all these mass organisations at that time became components of the capitalist state. They were nationalised in a bourgeois way. The starting point of this development lay already in the period before the war. It was implicit in the process of growing over into capitalism just as before the war almost all the organisations of the working class were in this process of growing over. Thus we can also claim that the parliamentary representatives of the working class and the factions of the workers’ parties grew over into the bourgeois parliament. Instead of being something that was directed against the system as a whole in general and against the bourgeois parliament, they became a component of the parliamentary apparatus as such. That was the earlier epoch of peaceful capitalism. We also see such phenomena at the beginning of the war.

Then came the new epoch of the collapse of capitalism and the civil war. As far as the working class as a class is concerned it has , in this process, lost its earlier, rather imperialist ideology. This ideology, which reached its highest point in the slogan of ‘national defence’, collapsed and all the phenomena consequent upon it collapsed with it. Instead of being components of the capitalist system, the workers’ organisations gradually became instruments of the class struggle. Thus, from being tools upon which the capitalist system rested, they became instruments of its destruction. Parallel with this occurred the transformation of the parliamentary factions which, from being a component of the whole parliamentary apparatus, became instruments of its destruction. And thus the new parliamentarism arose, whose supporters we Communists can and must be.

Comrades, I shall not by any means comment on all the paragraphs of our Theses, which are very detailed. I shall select a few main points and speak about them. And then we can solve the disputed questions.

If we have before us these two epochs of completely different character, then we can already say a priori that the process of transition from one epoch to the other, from the old parliamentarism to the new, must be regarded as a process which will bring with it at every concrete moment various remnants of earlier conceptions among the working class. The more this process develops, the more these remnants will disappear. But now we can see these left-overs of earlier conceptions in many parties very clearly, even in those that are already to be found in the Communist International. In general, opportunism and the vacillating parties are still present in the working class, the ideology of collaboration with the bourgeoisie still exists in part, and that is reflected in the presence of the earlier parliamentarism.

Let us consider first the whole picture of the parliamentary activity of the working class. Let us take the composition of the various parliamentary factions, and we will gain a peculiar picture. For example the USPD: This party now has 82 members in parliament. But if, in the framework of this party, which of itself is already rather moderate and opportunist, we were to consider the composition of its parliamentary faction, we would obtain more or less the following figures: of these 82 members of the parliamentary faction 20 belong more or less directly to the right, about 40 to the ‘swamp’, and more or less 20 to the left USPD. Let us take the Italian Party and its parliamentary faction. This party belongs to us and is in the Communist International: If we were to divide the members of this parliamentary faction into three, that is to say into the supporters of Turati and Lazzari, those of Serrati, and the so-called Bombaccists, then we would have the following figures: 30 per cent of the whole faction belong to the Turati tendency, 55 per cent to the centre and 15 per cent to the left.

[In the struggles inside the Italian Socialist Party, Turati and Treves led the right-wing reformists, Serrati represented the ‘maximalist’ majority, Bombacci favoured adhesion to the Communist International and became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Later moved to the right, was expelled in 1928 and became a leading supporter of Mussolini; shot by partisans in 1945.]

Comrade Serrati has given me a few other figures. In his opinion the reformists count 41 seats. That is an official figure given by Comrade Serrati and represents a very big percentage within the Communist Party. If we consider the French Party we have the following figures: 68 parliamentarians, among them 40 explicit reformists within a party which is already opportunist, and 26 in the centre – not in our sense of the word, here the word means the centre of the French Party, which means the centre to the power 4! As for the Communists, they have perhaps two seats. In the Norwegian Party, which is quite a good party, the parliamentary faction has 19 members. Of these, approximately 11 are right wingers, 6 centrists and 2 are Communists. The Swedish parliamentary faction has quite a few comrades who cannot be called Communists in any sense. To sum up then, a rather sad picture. The composition of the parliamentary factions is below any criticism. And if we consider the cause of this phenomenon, then it is given in the fact that these parties even as parties are not sufficiently clearly communist, because quite a large number of opportunists are to be found within them.

I shall now proceed from the composition of the parties to the politics, that is to say their parliamentary policies, and here we can justifiably claim that these policies ‘are as far from revolutionary parliamentarism as heaven is from earth. I shall take the USPD as a model. During the war, when the thing to do was to call on the peoples to subdue the war, they appealed to the government. I remember a conversation with Comrade Haase. He wanted to prove to us, when we were in Berlin, that he was carrying out a really revolutionary parliamentarism. As the best proof of this he quoted one of his speeches in which he claimed that the German government had committed an abuse in sending German troops to Finland. These troops could be misused. Thus, if these troops are sent to the French front that is not an abuse, only sending them to Finland is an abuse. That is a proof not of revolutionary but of opportunist parliamentarism.

Let us take everything that has been written and said in the German parliament about the question of nationalisation. It is laughable. If we look at these speeches we see no trace of a revolutionary point of view. And as late as 1920, as I know, Comrade Däumig represented this opportunist way of posing the question in writing on the plans for nationalisation. Or, for example, the speech on the Constitution by Oscar Colin, the USPI) representative. This speech is rather long, but it contains not a trace of the revolutionary way of posing the question. Here we hear that the Constitution is sick. Not a word on Noske. That is the method of Kautsky. For when he discusses the question of bourgeois democracy he talks about apes and wild men. The speech by Comrade Oscar Cohn is just the same. Here our principled point of view could be developed in quite a revolutionary way. Let us take for example the story of the Commission of Inquiry into those who were responsible for the war. The Independents want to investigate the question of guilt in a parliamentary way through this pure farce, which was carried out on the basis of the material supplied by the German Foreign Office. In this, however, there is not the slightest trace of any sort of revolutionary activity at all.

Let us take Comrade Oscar Cohns’s motion in the German parliament on the abolition of the law of protective custody. This law applied only to political prisoners. We have everything possible here except the revolutionary standpoint of the revolutionary Communist. Let us take what we have heard here in this room from the comrades of the USPD. When they were excusing themselves for not having sent us an answer in time, Comrade Dittmann, or another representative, if I am not mistaken, said: ‘We had elections at the time, and because we had such a big thing as the elections, we could not immediately compose an answer’. That is a crying example that kills the comrades who quote it. If they have the elections on the one hand and the cause of the whole International on the other, then it is clear to every revolutionary that he must fight the elections under the watchword of the International. To set up a contradiction between the International and the elections is anything you like but nothing that has anything to do with membership of the Communist International. We can follow through the whole parliamentary activity of the USPD comrades without ever finding clear, conscious activity in the sense that we mean.

If we look at the French Socialist Party or other parties we will find the same sad picture. I shall not draw your attention to this since it suffices to quote one example in order to reconstruct the whole position. In all these phenomena, not only in the composition of the parliamentary factions but also in their tactics, remnants of the earlier parliamentarism show themselves which we must literally root out, for as long as we have this practice and these methods and such a composition of the parliamentary factions, we will not be able to develop revolutionary activity. To go into revolutionary struggle with such rubbish is absolutely out of the question.

Now we come to another question, that is to say the question of anti-parliamentarism in principle. This anti-parliamentarism is the legitimate child of the opportunism described above and the earlier parliamentary activity with all its sins. We much prefer this anti-parliamentarism on principle to opportunist parliamentarism. We can, I think, distinguish two main groups among the supporters of anti-parliamentarism: One group which really denies any participation in parliamentary activity, and the second group, which is against parliamentarism because of a special and specific assessment of the possibilities of parliamentary activity. In our epoch we can characterise the American IWW as the representatives of the first tendency. Comrade Bordiga will speak here today as the representative of the second tendency.

As far as anti-parliamentarism on principle is concerned, it can be claimed of the first group that these theories or these tactics, if they are followed theoretically, are based on a complete confusion of the basic concepts of political life. The IWW for example has no clear concept at all of what the political struggle really is. They do not think that to have a general strike of an economic nature, which in fact is directed against the bourgeois state, is a political struggle, if it is not led by the political party but by the trades unions. Thus they absolutely do not understand what political struggle really means. They confuse the political struggle with parliamentary activity. They think that by the political struggle can be understood only parliamentary activity or the activity of parliamentary parties.

It is quite clear that this negative attitude towards parliamentarism rests on various errors of a principled nature, above all on the false concept of what political struggle really is. Looked at historically, American parliamentarism displays so much vileness and corruption that many honest elements pass over to the camp of anti-parliamentarism in principle. The worker does not think abstractly at all, he is a rather crude empiricist, and if it cannot be proved to him empirically that revolutionary parliamentarism is possible, he simply rejects the whole thing. Such elements who have only seen the vileness go over to the camp of anti-parliamentarism on principle on a very large scale.

I come now to the second group, which is represented here in this room by Bordiga. He tells us that his standpoint is on no account to be confused with the standpoint of anti-parliamentarism on principle and I must say that, looked at formally, his standpoint has all the theoretical starting-points, but that’s all. Comrade Bordiga claims that precisely from the standpoint of the present epoch of the mass struggles of the proletariat, from the standpoint of the assessment of this epoch as an epoch of civil wars, only from this specific historical standpoint, one cannot enter parliament. That is what he thinks. But I think that there is a bridge in principle between the tactics of Comrade Bordiga and the tactics of those who are against it in principle. Comrade Bordiga has worked out his own Theses, and in them we read for example:

‘It is necessary to break with the bourgeois lie once and for all, the lie that tries to make people believe that every clash of the hostile parties, every struggle for the conquest of power, must be played out in the framework of the democratic mechanism, in election campaigns and parliamentary debates. It will not be possible to achieve this goal without renouncing completely the traditional method of calling on the workers to participate in the elections, where they work side by side with the bourgeois class, without putting an end to the spectacle of the delegates of the proletariat appearing on the same parliamentary ground as its exploiters.'

Here Comrade Bordiga says that if the delegate of the working class is to be found physically in the same room as a bourgeois, he is, ipso facto, working side by side with the bourgeois class. That is a naive idea that is typical of the IWW.

At the end of the 9th Thesis we read: ‘Therefore the Communist Parties will never achieve any great success with the propaganda of the revolutionary Marxist method if they do not base their work directly on the dictatorship of the proletariat and the workers’ councils and abandon any contact with bourgeois democracy.'

So physical contact in a room is in itself original sin, and then the whole thing goes wrong. I think, however, that this mistake will become even bigger because we do not always have the workers’ councils. Comrade Bordiga agrees with us that we cannot organise the workers’ councils straight away in every country. The councils are fighting organisations of the proletariat. If no conditions exist to carry out this direct struggle there is no sense in setting up these councils. Then they are transformed into cultural appendages of other institutions which become absolutely reformist, and the great danger exists that the workers’ councils will then so to speak be organised after the French pattern, where a couple of people come together and a humanitarian-pacifist organisation is formed. And none of these organisations yet exists at all, they are not yet given realities. But the bourgeois parliament is a given reality.

We say in our Theses that we must have our revolutionary agents here in these institutions, here our proletarian scouts must work side by side with the bourgeois class. Here a completely negative notion is given which is not logically worked out, but which is comprehensible from the emotional point of view. From the standpoint of revolutionary logic and expediency the decisive factor in the whole question is that we Communists claim that there is a possibility of going into the bourgeois parliaments to try to blow them up from inside. Earlier, when the parliamentary factions grew over into parliamentary institutions, they became parts of the system as such. We, however, want to develop our activity in such a way that an ever-sharper contradiction arises between the parliamentary system and our faction. We do not need to say that what is primary for us is that our parliamentary activity must be co-ordinated with the masses of the working class. Let us follow Comrade Bordiga’s Theses further.

First of all a small comment. I claim that anti-parliamentarism on principle exists in some comrades because they are afraid to emerge as revolutionary parliamentarians, as this ground is too dangerous for their liking and because they try in every possible way to run away from this most difficult revolutionary task. Big parties are quoted in order to prove that this activity is completely impossible. I do not say this of Comrade Bordiga; but in his faction there are such elements and when he comes to us and says in his 12th Thesis:

‘The actual character of the debates that take place in parliament and in other democratic organs excludes any possibility of moving on from a criticism of the opposing parties to propaganda against the principle of parliamentarism, to action that exceeds the limits of the parliamentary constitution.'

Comrade Bordiga says that it is technically impossible to exploit parliament; but that has to be proved. Nobody would say that we had better conditions under Tsarism in our Duma than today in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Nobody has tried to talk like that, as you know. Why have you already claimed a priori that it is impossible? Try it first; have a few scandals; get yourselves arrested; have a political trial in the grand style. You have done none of this. This tactic must be developed to an increasing degree. And I claim that this is possible. French comrades, for example Comrade Lefebvre, claim that it is impossible to say a sharp word against Clémenceau in the French Chamber. Nobody has tried it, nobody has made the attempt. I think there is simple fear here. People say: yes, that is too dangerous. We can only carry out purely legal work in propaganda. You have unmasked yourselves here. Because this ground is too dangerous you want to run away from this difficult task. Comrade Bordiga, in paragraph 10, as an argument against parliamentary election, says the following:

‘The excessively great importance ascribed in practice to the election campaigns and their results, the fact that the Party dedicates all its forces and human, press and economic resources to them for quite a long period of time, means on the one hand that, despite all the speeches at meetings and all the theoretical statements to the contrary, the conviction is strengthened that this really is the main action for the achievement of communist goals. On the other hand it leads to an almost complete renunciation of any work of revolutionary organisation and preparation by giving the party organisation a technical character that stands in complete contradiction to the requirements of legal and illegal revolutionary work.'

Perhaps something like that exists in Italy, but you must prove to us why that is logically necessary. If you adopt Comrade Dittmann’s point of view and say: ‘The election campaign is an opposite to the question of the International’, then you are right. But our standpoint consists in developing the whole election campaign from the revolutionary point of view. Then there can be no such opposite. It is not a logical contradiction when we say that we must develop the whole election campaign under the sharpest revolutionary slogans in order to go to the villages and to work where there is no political interest and in order to weld the people together as a mass organisation, to keep all these campaigns of various kinds in contact. ‘Yes,’ you say, ‘that is precisely to kill off revolutionary work.’ Comrade Bordiga wrote that because he has seen very little of really revolutionary election campaigning, just as the comrades of the IWW have never seen revolutionary parliamentarism. That is why Comrade Bordiga raises such claims, but he at least ought to substantiate them.

Nevertheless, I think that there are many empirical proofs of revolutionary parliamentarism. I shall repeat them, the names are known to us. There was the activity of Liebknecht, the activity of Höglund, then there were the Bulgarian comrades and ourselves. We had revolutionary parliamentarism under the most varied historical conditions, for example during the second Duma, during Kerensky’s Pre-parliament and during the Constituent Assembly. We were not afraid to put ourselves alongside the bourgeoisie, the Socialist Revolutionaries or the Cadets because we had a firm revolutionary tactic and completely clear tactical lines. For that reason this whole question, that is to say the question of the Party, is now the cardinal question. If you have a really Communist Party then you need not be afraid of sending one of your people into the bourgeois parliament, for he will act as a revolutionary must act. But if you have in the Party ‘a mish-mash where 40 per cent are pure opportunists, then of course precisely these gentlemen will sneak into the parliamentary faction, to the places that suit them best. That is why they are almost all members of the parliamentary factions. Then they cannot carry out their parliamentary duties as revolutionary communists. That is a Party question.

I repeat, if we have among the parties of the Communist International really Communist Parties that do not shelter any opportunists or reformists in their bosoms, if we have already carried out this purge, then we have the guarantee that we will not have the old parliamentarism but a really revolutionary parliamentarism and a reliable method of destroying the bourgeoisie, the whole bourgeois state apparatus and the bourgeois system.

Wolfstein: Comrades, let me briefly say the following on the work of the Commission on Parliament: Instead of paragraph 1 on page 60 an exhaustive historical introduction to the question of parliamentarism, written by Comrade Trotsky, has been decided upon. The main heading of the Theses now reads ‘The Communist Parties and Parliamentarism’. The first paragraph, in place of the former paragraph 1, ‘The New Epoch and the New Parliamentarism’, reads:

‘The attitude of the socialist parties towards parliamentarism was in the beginning, in the period of the First International, that of using bourgeois parliaments for the purpose of agitation. Participation in parliament was considered from the point of view of the development of class consciousness, i.e. of awakening the class hostility of the proletariat to the ruling class. This relationship was transformed, not through the influence of theory, but under the influence of Political development. Through the uninterrupted increase of the productive forces and the constant extension of the area of capitalist exploitation, capitalism, and with it the parliamentary states, became firmer and more permanent.

‘Hence there arose the adaptation of the parliamentary tactics of the socialist parties to the “organic” legislative work of the bourgeois parliament, and hence was derived the ever greater importance of the struggle for reforms within the framework of capitalism. The result was the dominance of the so-called minimum programme of social democracy and the transformation of the maximum programme into a debating formula for an exceedingly distant ‘final goal’. On this basis then developed the phenomena of parliamentary careerism, of corruption and of the open and concealed betrayal of the most elementary interests of the working class.

‘The attitude of the Communist International towards parliamentarism is determined, not by a new doctrine, but by the change in the role of parliamentarism itself. In the previous epoch parliament performed to a certain degree a historically progressive task as a tool of developing capitalism. Under the present conditions of unbridled imperialism, however, parliament has turned into a tool for lies, deception, violence and enervating chatter. In the face of imperialist devastation, plundering, rape, banditry and destruction, parliamentary reforms, robbed of any system, permanence and method, lose any practical significance for the toiling masses.

‘Like the whole of bourgeois society, parliamentarism too is losing its stability. The sudden transition from the organic epoch to the critical creates the basis for a new tactic of the proletariat in the field of parliamentarism. Thus the Russian Labour Party (the Bolsheviks) had already worked out the nature of revolutionary parliamentarism in the previous period, because since 1905 capitalist Russia had been shaken from its political and social equilibrium and had entered the period of storms and shocks.

‘To the extent that some socialists, who tend towards communism, point out that the moment for the revolution has not yet come in their countries and refuse to split from the parliamentary opportunists, they proceed, in the essence of the matter, from the conscious estimate that their country is still in an epoch of the relative stability of imperialist society, and assume that on this basis a coalition with the Turatis and Longuets can bear practical results in the struggle for reforms.

‘Theoretically clear communism, on the other hand, will correctly estimate the character of the present epoch. (Highest point of capitalism; imperialist self-negation and self-destruction; uninterrupted growth of civil war, etc.) The forms of political relations and groupings can be different in different countries. The essence however remains everywhere one and the same; what is at stake for us is the immediate political and technical preparations for the insurrection of the proletariat, the destruction of the bourgeois power and the establishment of the new proletarian power.

‘At present, parliament, for communists, cannot at all become the arena for the struggle for reforms, for the amelioration of the position of the working class within the capitalist economic mode, as was the case at certain times in the previous period. The centre of gravity of political life has at present been removed finally and completely beyond the bounds of parliament. On the other hand the bourgeoisie is forced, not only by reason of its relations to the toiling masses, but also by reason of the complex mutual relations within the bourgeois class, to carry out part of its measures one way or another in parliament, where the various cliques haggle for power, reveal their strong sides, betray their weak sides , expose themselves, etc.

‘Therefore it is the historical task of the working class to wrest this apparatus from the hands of the ruling class, to smash it, to destroy it and replace it with new proletarian organs of power. At the same time however, the revolutionary general staff of the working class has a strong interest in having its scouts in the parliamentary institutions of the bourgeoisie in order to make this task of destruction easier. Thus is demonstrated quite clearly the basic difference between the tactics of the communist, who enters parliament with revolutionary aims, and the tactics of the socialist parliamentarian. The latter proceeds from the assumption of the relative stability and the indeterminate duration of the existing rule. He makes it his task to achieve reforms by every means, and he is interested in seeing to it that every achievement is suitably assessed by the masses as a merit of parliamentary socialism. (Turati, Longuet and Co.).

‘In the place of the old adaptation to parliamentarism the new parliamentarism emerges as a tool for the annihilation of parliamentarism in general. The disgusting traditions of the old parliamentary tactics have, however, repelled a few revolutionary elements into the camp of the opponents of parliamentarianism on principle (IWW) and of the revolutionary syndicalists (KAPD). The Second Congress therefore adopts the following Theses:'

Thereafter various things are changed in all the paragraphs.

After amendment by the Commission, paragraph 1 reads:

‘Parliamentarism as a state system has become a “democratic” form of the rule of the bourgeoisie which at a certain stage of development requires the fiction of popular representation, which appears externally to be the organisation of a “popular will” that stands outside of the classes, but which, in reality, is a machine for oppression and subjugation in the hands of the rule of capital.'

In paragraph 4 line 3 is added: ‘can as such not be conquered in the long run’.

Further paragraph 9 line 4: ‘Mass actions will be organised and led by the revolutionary mass organisations (trades unions, party, workers’ councils) of the proletariat under the general leadership of a unified, disciplined, centralised Communist Party.'

Paragraph 11 line 8 now says: ‘But from inside Parliament to help the masses to smash the state machine and parliament itself by action.'

In paragraph 12 there must be added to line 5: ‘Caught up in democratic illusions, look towards the parliamentary tribunal.'

Then paragraph 13 has been completely taken out in its previous form and replaced with a new paragraph on behaviour in local government institutions, should a majority be won there:

‘Should the communists have the majority in local government institutions, they should: a) carry out revolutionary opposition to the bourgeois central power; b) do everything to be of service to the poorer population (economic measures, introduction or attempted introduction of an armed workers’ militia, etc.); c) at every opportunity show the limitations placed on really big changes by the bourgeois state power; d) on this basis develop the sharpest revolutionary propaganda without fearing the conflict with the power of the state; e) under certain circumstances replace the local administration by local workers’ councils. The whole activity of the communists in the local administration must therefore be part of the general work of disrupting the capitalist system.'

In the last sentence of paragraph 15 Höglund’s name has been deleted because Höglund only developed this revolutionary activity in parliament for a certain time. Today he is no longer active in this sense.

Section 3 is now called ‘Revolutionary Parliamentarism’. Only unimportant, more editorial alterations have been undertaken in it.

The main work of the Commission, which, with two votes against, was in agreement with the contents of the Theses, consisted mainly in producing a good German, French and English text. That was definitely a more difficult task than disposing of Bordiga’s Theses, for which only two votes were cast in the Commission. The results of the other votes were: Trotsky’s introduction adopted with 2 votes against; paragraphs 1-6 unanimous; paragraphs 7 and 10 with 2 votes against; 8-9 unanimous; 11-18 with one vote against; 19 unanimous. Section 3 paragraphs 1-4 with 1 vote against, paragraph 5 with 2 votes against, paragraphs 6-7 unanimous, the remaining paragraphs with 1 abstention. The two votes cast against the Theses in principle were the representatives of Switzerland and of the IWW. The representative of the IWW was not present at the last session of the Commission as a result of illness.

Bordiga: The left faction of the Italian Socialist Party is antiparliamentarian in its views, and that for reasons which are not valid for Italy alone but which have a general character.

Are we dealing here only with a question of principle? Certainly not. In principle we are all, after all, opponents of parliamentarism, because we reject it as a means of liberating the proletariat and as a political form of the proletarian state. The anarchists are antiparliamentarian on principle since they declare themselves to be against any agency of power. The syndicalist opponents of the political action of the Party, who have a completely different conception of the process of the liberation of the proletariat, are also against it. As far as we are concerned, our anti-parliamentarism is based on the Marxist critique of bourgeois democracy. I shall not repeat here the arguments of critical communism, which unmask the bourgeois lie of political equality as a means to blur economic inequality and the class struggle. This conception is based on the idea of a historic process in which the liberation of the proletariat is achieved after a violent class struggle which is supported by the dictatorship of the proletariat.

This theoretical conception, which is elucidated in the Communist Manifesto, found its first historical realisation in the Russian revolution. Between these two facts there is a long time-span. During this the development of the capitalist world has advanced a long way. The Marxist movement has been debased into a social-democratic one, and has created a field of common work for the petty interests of the collaboration of individual groups of workers and bourgeois democracy. The same phenomenon is to be observed in the trades unions and in the socialist parties.

The Marxist task of the Marxist party, which ought to have spoken on behalf of the whole working class and remembered its old historical tasks, has therefore been almost completely forgotten. A new ideology has been fabricated which has nothing in common with Marxism, which rejects violent measures and ignores the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to put in its place the illusion of a social development on peaceful and democratic paths.

The Russian revolution has realised Marxist theory in an admirable manner by proving the necessity of a violent struggle and the introduction of the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the historical conditions under which the Russian revolution developed are different from the conditions for the proletarian revolution in the countries of Western Europe and America. The position in Russia could perhaps be compared with the position in Germany in 1848, where two revolutions broke out one after the other, one bourgeois-democratic and one proletarian.

The tactical experiences of the Russian revolution cannot be transferred to other countries where bourgeois democracy has already long since been introduced and where the revolutionary crisis will consist of a direct transition from this order to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The Marxist significance of the Russian revolution lies in this, that in its final phase (the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the seizure of power by the soviets) it was built up on a Marxist basis and prepared the ground for the development of every new movement, the development of the Communist International, which has finally broken with the social democrats who, be it said to their shame, completely failed during the war.

The revolutionary problem demands, above all in Western Europe, an abandonment of the ground of bourgeois democracy, the proof that the bourgeoisie’s demand that every political struggle should only be carried out through the mechanism of parliament is false, and that the struggle for the conquest of power must be carried out in a new way, through direct revolutionary activity.

The Party needs a new technical organisation, that is to say a new historical formation. This is realised through the Communist Party which, as the Executive Committee’s Theses on the question of the role of the party say, was born ‘in the epoch of the direct struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat’. (Thesis 4.)

The first mechanism of the bourgeoisie that must be destroyed before one can move on to the economic construction of communism and create the new mechanism of the proletarian state that is to represent the government apparatus, is parliament.

Bourgeois democracy works among the masses with indirect means of defence, while the state apparatus stands ready to apply direct means of violence which are set into activity as soon as the last attempts to draw the proletariat onto the ground of legal democratic politics have failed.

It is therefore of extreme importance to unmask this ploy of the bourgeoisie and to show the masses the whole deception of bourgeois parliamentarism.

Even before the world war the practice of the traditional Socialist Parties had brought about an anti-parliamentarian reaction in the ranks of the proletariat: the anarcho-syndicalist reaction that denied the value of ‘any political activity in order to concentrate the activity of the proletariat in the field of economic organisation and which thus spread the false idea that there is no political activity outside of electoral and parliamentary activity. This idea must be fought, as must social democratic illusions. This conception is far removed from the true revolutionary method and leads the proletariat on a false road in its struggle for liberation.

Great clarity is needed in propaganda; the masses need a clear and simple mode of expression.

Starting from Marxist principles, we propose that, in countries where the democratic order has long since developed, the agitation for the dictatorship of the proletariat should be built up on the spreading of the boycott of the elections and of the bourgeois democratic organs.

The great importance that is ascribed to electoral activity in practice contains a double danger: on the one hand it gives the impression that that is the main activity, and on the other it absorbs all the party’s forces, which paralyses the work of all the other branches of the Party. The social democrats are not the only ones who ascribe a great importance to the elections. Even the Theses proposed by the Executive say that it is important to use all means of agitation in the election campaigns. (Thesis 15).

The organisation of the Party which carries out electoral activity, develops a quite special technical character which is sharply different from the character of the organisation which corresponds to legal or illegal revolutionary needs. The Party divides into a number of election committees which are solely concerned with the preparation and mobilisation of the electors. If the Party in question is an old social democratic party that has affiliated to the Communist movement, there is a great danger in the carrying out of parliamentary action as it was previously practised. We have numerous proofs of this.

As far as the Theses proposed and defended by the speakers are concerned, they are preceded by a historical introduction with the first part of which I am in almost complete agreement. It says there that the First International used parliamentarism for the purposes of agitation, criticism and propaganda. Later, in the Second International, there emerged the harmful effects of parliamentarism, which led to reformism and class collaboration (the ‘Burgfrieden'). In the Introduction the conclusion is drawn from this that the Communist International should return to the parliamentary tactic for the purpose of destroying parliament from the inside. The Communist International must, however, if it adopts the same doctrine as the First International, take the completely different historical circumstances into account and develop a completely different activity, that is to say, not collaborate with bourgeois democracy.

The first part of the Theses that follow do not stand in any way in contradiction to the ideas I support either. The difference only begins where it is a question of the use of the election campaign and the parliamentary tribune for mass actions. But they cannot be used in the same way as the press, the freedom of association, etc. Here it is a question of a means of action, there of a bourgeois institution which must be replaced by proletarian institutions, by workers’ soviets. We are not thinking of giving up the use of the press, of propaganda, etc. after the revolution; but we do strive before all else to destroy the democratic apparatus and to set up the dictatorship of the proletariat in its place. We do not put forward that argument any more than we do the one about the ‘leaders’ of the movement. There can be no question at all that leaders can be abolished.

We know very well, and we have told the anarchists since the beginning of the war, that it is not correct to reject parliamentarism in order to abolish leaders. We will always need them as propagandists, journalists, etc.

Certainly in a revolution a centralised party that leads the activity of the working class is necessary. Naturally this party also needs leaders. But the role of the party, the role of the leaders, is completely different from what it was with the social democrats. The party leads the activity of the proletariat in the sense that it carries out the most dangerous work which demands the greatest sacrifice. The leaders of the party are not only the leaders of the victorious revolution, they are also the first to fall under the enemy’s blows in a defeat. Their position is quite different from the position of the parliamentary leaders, who occupy the most advantageous posts in bourgeois society.

We are told: ‘One can also carry out propaganda from the rostrum of parliament.’ I would like to answer that with a somewhat childish argument: What one says on the rostrum of parliament is repeated in the press. If it is the bourgeois press, everything will be distorted, and if it is our press, then it is a waste of time to say from the rostrum what will later be printed.

The evidence quoted by the speaker will not harm our Theses. Liebknecht worked in the Reichstag at a time when we recognised the possibility of parliamentary activity, all the more so for the fact that it was not then a matter of sanctioning parliamentarism itself, but of criticising bourgeois power.

But if we weigh Liebknecht, Höglund, and the few other cases of revolutionary activity in parliament, against the whole mass of the treachery of the social democrats, then the result will be thoroughly unfavourable to revolutionary parliamentarism.

The parliamentary activities of the Bolsheviks in the Duma, in Kerensky’s Pre-parliament and in the Constituent Assembly were carried out under conditions completely different from those under which we propose to abandon the parliamentary tactic. I shall not come back to the difference there is between the development of the revolution and the revolution in the other bourgeois countries.

I am also not in favour of the idea that elections for bourgeois local government institutions must be used. But I cannot pass over a very important problem in silence. I mean using the election campaign for the purposes of agitation and propaganda for the communist revolution. But this agitation will be all the more effective, the more powerfully we preach the boycott of bourgeois elections to the masses.

It is moreover impossible to foresee what the disruptive activity that the communists could carry out in parliament is to consist of. The reporter proposed to us the draft of a rule concerning the activity of communists in bourgeois parliaments. That is, so to speak, the purest utopia. It will never develop a parliamentary activity that contradicts the principles of parliamentarism and goes beyond the bounds of parliamentary rules.

Now a few words on the arguments quoted by Comrade Lenin in his pamphlet on ‘left’ communism.

I do not think that one can take our anti-parliamentary tendency to be one that demands withdrawal from the trades unions.

However rotten, the trade union is still a workers’ milieu. To withdraw from the social democratic trades unions would be to share the conception of the syndicalists, who wish to unite themselves in revolutionary fighting organs of a different economic type.

From the Marxist standpoint that is a mistake that has nothing to do with the argument on which our anti-parliamentarism rests.

The Theses, however, say that the question of parliamentarism is only secondary for the communist revolution; but with the question of the trades unions, matters stand differently.

I do not think that one can pass a final judgement on individual comrades or Communist Parties on the basis of opposition to parliamentary activity. In his interesting work, Comrade Lenin describes a communist tactic, by deciding his very broad activity, on the basis of a very attentive analysis of the situation in the bourgeois world, and he proposes that the experience of the Russian revolution should be applied in this analysis in the capitalist countries.

He also emphasises the necessity of taking account of the differences between the various countries.

I shall not here undertake a discussion of this method.

I would only like to note that a Marxist movement in the democratic Western countries requires a much more direct tactic than the tactic that was applied during the Russian revolution.

Comrade Lenin accuses us of trying to avoid the problem of communist action in parliament because his slogan seems too difficult to us and because the anti-parliamentarian tactic costs the least effort.

We completely agree that the tasks of the proletarian revolution are very great and difficult. We are convinced that if, after dealing with the problem of parliamentary action, we go on to discuss and decide on the other, far more important, problems, we will still not have made any progress, and that their solution will not be as simple as we think.

Therefore we intend to use the main forces of the communist movement in fields that are more important than parliament.

We do not flinch in the face of any difficulties. We only note that the opportunist parliamentarians, who also chose an easy tactic, are not for that reason any the less burdened with work by their parliamentary activity.

From that we conclude that we will need enormous effort and tireless activity for the solution of the problems of communist parliamentarism according to the proposed Theses (if we adopt this solution), and that then little energy and few resources will remain for really revolutionary activity.

In the bourgeois world, one cannot go through those stages in the political field that will have to be fought out only after the revolution, through the economic transformation of capitalism into communism.

The transfer of power from the exploiters to the exploited brings behind it a change in the apparatus of representation. Bourgeois parliamentarism must be replaced by the soviet system. The old democratic mask of the class struggle must be torn up so that direct revolutionary action can be introduced.

That is our standpoint on parliamentarism, a standpoint that is in complete harmony with the revolutionary Marxist method.

I can close with a view that we share with Comrade Bukharin. This question can and must not lead to a split in the Marxist movement.

If the Communist International wishes to take on itself the creation of a communist parliamentarism, we will submit to its decision. We do not think that this plan will succeed; but we declare that we will do nothing to disrupt this work.

I hope that the next congress of the Communist International will not need to debate the results of parliamentary action, but will much

rather examine the victory of the communist revolution in a great number of countries.

Should that not be possible, then I wish for Comrade Bukharin’s sake that he will be able to present us with a less dreary picture of communist parliamentarism than that with which he had to begin his introduction this time.



Comrade Bordiga thereupon reads the following Theses:



Theses on parliamentarism, drawn up by Comrade Bordiga on behalf of the communist abstentionist faction of the Socialist Party of Italy.

1. Parliamentarism is the form of political representation peculiar to the capitalist order. The principled criticism by revolutionary Marxists of parliamentarism and bourgeois democracy leads in general to the conclusion that the franchise granted to all citizens of all social classes in the elections to the representative bodies of the state cannot prevent every government apparatus of the state from becoming the committee for the defence of the interests of the ruling capitalist class, and the state from organising itself as the historical organ of the struggle of the bourgeoisie against the proletarian revolution.

2. Communists deny the possibility that the working class will ever conquer power through a majority of parliamentary seats. The armed revolutionary struggle alone will take it to its goal. The conquest of power by the proletariat, which forms the starting point of communist economic construction, leads to the violent and careful abolition of the democratic organs and their replacement by organs of proletarian power – by workers’ councils. The exploiting class is in this way robbed of all political rights and the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e. a government system with class representation, is set up. The abolition of parliamentarism becomes a historical task of the communist movement. Even more, representative democracy is precisely the first form of bourgeois society that must be brought down, and moreover even before capitalist property, even before the bureaucratic state machinery.

3. The same must happen with local government institutions, which should not be theoretically posed as an opposite to the state organs. In reality their apparatus is identical with the state mechanism of the bourgeoisie. They must similarly be destroyed by the revolutionary proletariat and replaced by local soviets of workers’ deputies.

4. At the present moment, the task of the communists in mentally and materially driving forward the revolution is to free the proletariat above all from the illusions and prejudices that were spread in the muses by the treachery of the old social democratic leaders. In those countries which have been ruled for a longer time by a democratic order which is rooted in the habits and thoughts of the masses, and also in the old socialist parties, this task is of special importance, and assumes the first place among the problems of the preparation of the revolution.

5. Participation in elections and in parliamentary activity at a time when the thought of the conquest of power by the proletariat was still far distant and when there was not yet any question of direct preparations for the revolution and of the realisation of the dictatorship of the proletariat could offer great possibilities for propaganda, agitation and criticism. On the other hand, in those countries where a bourgeois revolution has as yet only started and is creating new institutions, the entry of communists into the representative bodies, which are still in the formative stage, can have a big influence on the development of events in order to bring about a favourable outcome of the revolution and the final victory of the proletariat.

6. In the present historical epoch, which has opened with the end of the world war and its consequences for the social organisation of the bourgeoisie – with the Russian revolution as the first realisation of the idea of the conquest of power by the working class, and the formation of the new International in opposition to the traitors of the social democracy – and in the countries where the democratic order was introduced a long time ago, there is no possibility of exploiting parliamentarism for the revolutionary cause of communism. Clarity of propaganda no less than preparation of the final struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat demand that communists carry out propaganda for a boycott of the elections on the part of the workers.

7. Under these historical conditions, under which the revolutionary conquest of power by the proletariat has become the main problem of the movement, every political activity of the Party must be dedicated to this goal. It is necessary to break with the bourgeois lie once and for all, with the lie that tries to make people believe that every clash of the hostile parties, every struggle for the conquest of power, must be played out in the framework of the democratic mechanism, in election campaigns and parliamentary debates. It will not be possible to achieve this goal without renouncing completely the traditional method of calling on workers to participate in the elections, where they work side by side with the bourgeois class, without putting an end to the spectacle of the delegates of the proletariat appearing on the same parliamentary ground as its exploiters.

8. The ultra-parliamentary practice of the old socialist parties spread the dangerous conception that all political action consists only of election campaigns and parliamentary activity. On the other hand the proletariat’s aversion for this treachery has created a fertile soil for syndicalist and anarchist tendencies which deny that the political action and activity of the party have any value. Therefore the Communist Parties will never achieve great success in propagating the revolutionary Marxist method if they do not base their work directly on the dictatorship of the proletariat and on the workers’ councils, and abandon any contact with bourgeois democracy.

9. The excessively great importance ascribed in practice to the election campaigns and their results, the fact that the party dedicates to them all its forces and human, press and economic resources for quite a long period of time means on the one hand that despite all the speeches at meetings and all the theoretical statements to the contrary, the conviction is strengthened that this really is the main action for the achievement of communist goals. On the other hand it leads to an almost complete renunciation of any work of revolutionary organisation and preparation by giving the party organisation a technical character that stands in complete contradiction to the requirements of legal and illegal revolutionary work.

10. As far as those parties are concerned that have affiliated to the Communist International by a majority decision, further participation in election campaigns prevents the required sifting out of the social democratic elements, without whose removal the Communist International will not be able to carry out its historic role.

11. The actual character of the debates that take place in parliament and in other democratic organs excludes any possibility of moving on from a criticism of the opposing parties to propaganda against the principle of parliamentarism, to action that exceeds the limits of the parliamentary constitution. In exactly the same way it is impossible to obtain a mandate that gives the right to speak if one refuses to submit to all the formalities of the electoral process.

Success in the parliamentary fight can be achieved merely by skill in the use of the common weapon of the principles on which the institution bases itself and by using the nuances in the rules, just as success in the election campaign will be judged more and more according to the number of votes and seats obtained.

Every attempt by the Communist Parties to lend the practice of parliamentarism a totally different character will simply lead to a bankruptcy of the energies that will have to be sacrificed to this labour of Sisyphus. The cause of the communist revolution calls summarily for direct action against the capitalist system of the exploiters.

Zinoviev: I have the following proposal to submit to you on behalf of the Bureau . Nineteen speakers have asked for permission to speak. We think, however, that from today we should work somewhat more quickly, so that we can finish on Thursday. There are now two Draft Theses, and therefore we propose to nominate general speakers, for example three speakers for Bukharin’s Theses and three for Bordiga’s Theses, and to make do with that on this question.

Radek: I propose to let one speaker speak for and one against participation in parliament. People are sick and tired of this parliamentary business. The general arguments have already been sufficiently dilated upon. I propose that on this question we give the floor to one speaker in favour and one against, and then the two reporters. [Both proposals are voted upon. Zinoviev’s proposal is adopted.]

Zinoviev: We must now carry out a little research. I shall ask who is in favour of Bordiga’s Theses and who is in favour of Bukharin’s Theses.

Both groups should gather together and nominate their general speakers.

Gallacher: I am very sorry to have to say that the Communist International too is on the road to becoming opportunist. Instead of finding ways and means to bring the spirit of revolt into the masses, people here are thinking of how they are to participate in parliamentary elections. It is naive to think that, if unreliable elements come into parliament, they will fight in the direction of the Communist International and the revolution.

There are many examples of this in Britain. What is done there? The main consideration is how to participate legally in the elections. It has often been said that if one goes into parliament one can make speeches there and thus agitate. The result is, however, that the proletariat becomes accustomed to believing in the democratic institutions. One cannot demand agitation from those who enter parliament. The Communist Parties all over the world have now something other to do than wasting time on parliamentary elections. What is important now is to study revolutionary ways and means and tactics under the leadership of the Executive. And now instead of that you wish to divert attention from this goal. The Communist Party that is forming in Britain swears by its membership of the Communist International. But that is a fashion, just as it is also a fashion to speak out in favour of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

What are we to say? Are people prepared to work for the dictatorship of the proletariat? I say no. Liebknecht certainly did great things, but only in so far as he also worked among the masses outside parliament. If he had merely spoken in parliament, he would have stayed alive like MacDonald and many others too. As far as the Russian example is concerned, it has its own history, from which one cannot, however, generalise. The struggle and the experience of the Russian revolutionaries was forged by tears and blood. The attitude of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Duma is the result of many years of hard struggle by the mass of workers. There is now an alternative in front of the Communist International, as there is in front of the people of every country. There are two tactics; one that, through all kinds of democratic phrases, develops the feeling of submission in the people, and the other that consists in developing the revolutionary spirit in the masses. The example of the Member of Parliament, Maclean, who, in big election meetings, said he was a Bolshevik and would overthrow parliament, is typical. Since Maclean has been in parliament he has been a petty-bourgeois socialist who states that he is not a Bolshevik. Our energies must now be applied to sharpening the revolutionary struggle in the masses. The Communist International finds itself now faced with the alternative of taking either the road of submission or that of struggle.

Shablin: Comrades, the Bulgarian Communist Party has already had experiences in relation to parliamentarism which show that, where there still is a bourgeois parliament, Communist Parties can and must carry on the struggle of the revolutionary masses of workers hand in hand with the struggle in parliament. Even if the Theses Comrade Bordiga proposes to us proclaim a Marxist phraseology, it must be said that they have nothing in common with the really Marxist idea according to which the Communist Party must use every opportunity offered us by the bourgeoisie to come into contact with the oppressed masses and to help communist ideas to be victorious among them. These Theses only contain the remnants of the petty bourgeois prejudices that still exist in the labour movements of many countries. I think that the Bulgarian experiences are the best answer to Comrade Bordiga’s Theses, and I therefore ask you to pay some attention to my short introduction to this question, all the more so for the fact that it contains no empty, so-called Marxist phrases, but facts drawn from life itself.

The Bulgarian Communist Party fought energetically against the Balkan War of 1912-13, and, when this war ended with a defeat and a deep-going economic crisis for the country, the influence of the Party in the masses had grown so far that in the elections for the legislative bodies in 1914 it won 45,000 votes and 11 seats in parliament on the basis of a strictly principled agitation. The parliamentary group protested violently on several occasions against the decision of the Bulgarian government to participate in the European war, and voted each time demonstratively against war loans. With the help of pamphlets and illegal leaflets, through zealous agitation and propaganda, the Party carried out a violent struggle against the imperialist war once it had been declared, not only inside the country but also at the front.

This revolutionary activity brought about the persecution of the parliamentary group and the whole Party. Three Communist deputies, Lukanov, Dimitrov and Ziporanov, were condemned to 3 to 5 years in prison by field court martial during the war, imprisoned for a few months and then set free. Hundreds of comrades were condemned to the most varied punishments, and a number of communists were shot. The Army General Staff had forbidden the soldiers to read our Party organ, Raboinitscheski Vestnik, and the soldiers who broke the ban were arrested, persecuted and shot.

This bitter struggle against the war, the complete bankruptcy of the bourgeoisie’s policy of conquest and the serious crisis caused by the war gave the Communist Party the opportunity to extend its field of work and its influence among the masses and to become the strongest political party in our country. In the parliamentary elections of 1919 the Communist Party received 120,000 votes and entered parliament with 47 Communist deputies. The social-patriots, the ‘socialists’, could only muster 34 representatives, although the Ministry of the Interior was in the hands of one of the leaders of this party, in the hands of the Bulgarian Noske of sad memory, Pastuchov.

The success of the Communist Party and its exploitation of the parliamentary rostrum for revolutionary purposes caused the alarmed bourgeoisie to dissolve the chamber. New elections were called which took place in March 1920. These elections, too, yielded a brilliant victory for the Communist Party, despite the terror directed exclusively against us by the government; thousands of comrades were arrested, hundreds maltreated and beaten in the prisons, and many killed; courts martial, the censorship, the gendarmerie, the regular army, the white army and the whole government machine of annihilation and oppression was directed against us.

The Party not only maintained the position it had won, but greatly strengthened it. It obtained 187,000 votes and 50 deputies, and the number of ‘socialist’ seats fell from 39 to 9. The government now found itself in the minority. In order to make a majority, nine Communist deputies were then deprived of their seats and thrown out of parliament. In this way the Communist parliamentary group was reduced to 41 deputies by the government. By this fact the bourgeoisie had to take off the mask of hypocritical loyalty. The basis of the legality of the democratic bourgeois parliament was thus destroyed in the eyes of the masses, and its influence on the toiling masses of the country impaired. The workers and peasants of the two constituencies of Philippopel (Plovdiv) and Vratsa, whose representatives had been driven out of parliament, gathered in great protest meetings, at which they struggled for the destruction of the bourgeois parliament to which the real representatives of the people have no access, and at which they declared themselves in favour of the creation of workers’ and peasants’ soviets.

The Communist Party carried out the election campaign on the basis of the communist programme adopted at the congress of May 1919; it openly declared that it did not defend any illusions with regard to parliament and that the conquest of power by the proletariat is only possible through the revolutionary action of the masses, which has to be taken as far as the armed uprising of the workers and peasants and the destruction of parliament and the bourgeois state itself.

The Communist Party is carrying out an unrelenting struggle in parliament against the left as against the right bourgeois parties. It subjects all the government’s draft laws to strict criticism and uses every opportunity to develop its principled standpoint and its slogans. In this way the Communist Party exploits the parliamentary rostrum in order to develop its agitation on the broadest basis among the masses. It shows the toilers the necessity of fighting for workers’ and peasants’ soviets, destroys the authority of and belief in the importance of parliament, and calls on the masses to put the dictatorship of the proletariat in the place of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

The Bulgarian Communist Party fights simultaneously in parliament and among the masses. The parliamentary group participated in the most energetic way in the great strike of the transport workers, which lasted 53 days from December 1919 until February 1920. For this revolutionary activity the Communist deputies were robbed of their legal protection by the government, and several deputies were arrested. Comrades Stefan Dimitrov, the representative from Dubnitza, and Temelke Nenkov, the representative from Pernik, were sentenced, the first to 12, the second to 5 years imprisonment, because they had opposed the state power arms in hand. Both comrades are today languishing in jail. A third Communist deputy, Comrade Kesta Ziporanov, is being prosecuted by the military authorities for high treason. The members of the Central Committee, three members of parliament, were prosecuted because in parliament and in the masses they carried out an energetic struggle against the government, which was supporting Russian counter-revolutionaries. They were provisionally released from custody on a bail of 300,000 Leu, which was guaranteed and paid in in the course of two days by the proletariat of Sofia. All the Communist members’ speeches in the chamber against the bourgeoisie are of such violence that they frequently end in a great scandal, and the government majority and the Communist group come to blows.

The Communist parliamentary group is under the direct supervision of the Central Committee. The deputies work constantly among the masses and use their privileged position to play the most active part in all the struggles of the proletariat.

At the beginning of 1919 a weak current that was opposed to participation in the parliamentary elections arose in the Party. The representatives of this tendency demanded a boycott of the bourgeois parliament. But the national party congress that met in May 1919 in Sofia unanimously rejected this standpoint and adopted the standpoint of the Central Committee. It decided to exploit the elections for the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeois parliamentary system and for the workers’ and peasants’ soviets. After a short time this standpoint was confirmed by a circular of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, as well as by the results that we had achieved for the development of our political and trade union organisation in the elections for parliament and for local government bodies.

The election campaign, like the struggle in parliament, and in local government, have contributed greatly to developing and consolidating the Communist organisations and awakening the Communist self-consciousness of the proletarian masses. Today the Party numbers 40,000 members, the trade union federation 35,000 workers, and the Party’s daily organ prints 30,000 copies.

The Communist Party has also participated in the elections for the provincial and local government bodies. In the local government elections in December 1919 and in the provincial elections of January 1920 the Party received 140,000 votes and won the majority in local government in almost all the towns and in about a hundred villages. In many other town and village councils the Party is represented by large minorities. For local and provincial government bodies the Party possesses a programme for the organising of workers’ and peasants’ soviets in the towns and villages, the particular sections of which will substitute themselves for and take over the functions of the local and provincial government bodies at the moment of the revolution.

So far, in the councils in which it has possessed a majority, the Communist Party has fought for their autonomy; it calls on the workers and poorer peasants to support by mass action the budgets adopted by the Communist councils, by which the bourgeoisie is to be burdened with a progressive tax, which can be extended as far as the confiscation of their capital, and frees the working class from all taxes. Big sums can then be spent for public works, elementary schools, and other purposes that serve the interests solely of the working class and the poor, and the special interests of the minority of the bourgeoisie and of the capitalists go completely unheeded.

We use the struggle carried out in the Communist local government to make it comprehensible to the masses that their organisation of the central power alone is the way to inculcate respect for the decisions taken by the Communist councils on the question of food, housing and price increases, and on all the other immediate needs of the working population.

All the proposals of the Communist local government bodies are put before the local Party committee and then submitted to a general discussion in the meetings, in which the whole working population take part and can express their opinions. Disputed questions are then submitted to a vote. Communist members of the local government bodies in every district are led by a central commission which is based on Sofia and is under the supervision of the Central Committee of the Party.

It is understandable that the bourgeois central power cannot tolerate such activity by Communist local governments. It used ridiculous excuses to persecute the Communist assemblies in order to paralyse the revolutionary activity of our Party in these local governments. The government arrested the Communist majority in Philippopel and dissolved the town council. The government has persecuted and murdered several comrades from various Communist local councils. But through all these persecutions the mass of the workers and of the dissatisfied group themselves all the closer around the Communist Party.

In order to defend our ‘communes’ we call on the masses to support us with every means. We show them the necessity of extending the struggle to the conquest of the central power, which frustrates all the workers’ attempts to defend their interests in local government by decisions adopted by the majority. Through the struggle carried out by the masses for the defence of the Communist local councils, they themselves come to be convinced that the bourgeois state must be directly attacked, and that not simply with the ballot form, but above all through direct mass actions and armed insurrections.

In this way parliamentarism in the local councils is, in the hands of the Communist Party, transformed into a powerful means of setting the masses into motion, of organising them, of deepening their class-consciousness and uniting all their forces into one common revolutionary fighting front for the conquest of the central stronghold of bourgeois power, the capitalist state.

The experiences of our Party have shown that it is possible to unite revolutionary mass actions on the streets with the revolutionary struggle in parliament and in bourgeois local government. Our delegation therefore supports the Theses proposed to the Congress by the Executive Committee.



The session is closed at 5. 15.


 

Evening Session of August 3





Labor-Achunde Salimov: Esteemed Comrades, we plenipotentiary representatives of Khiva greet you in the name of the toiling poor population of Khiva. The present Second Congress of the Communist International is the symbol of the unification of the toilers of the whole world. Therefore we congratulate you for having the opportunity to join together in this great assembly and we count it to be our especial good fortune to be able to be present here at this happy hour.

Comrades, at the time of the domination of the European capitalists Khiva was stifled by the political and economic yoke of their Tsars and parliaments, for they caused small nations like our own to languish in chains, and only granted freedom to the rich.

At present, with the aid of the Russian Soviet power, we the oppressed have drawn ourselves erect, liberated ourselves from the heavy hand of the oppressor and declared our country an independent Soviet Republic.

We sincerely believe that, with the help of the East which, thanks to the Russian Soviet power, has recently awoken, the toilers of the whole world will in the near future be liberated from the violators and capitalists, and that the peoples of the East will not let fall their weapons until the toilers of the whole world have united into a single family.

Long live the unity of the toilers of the whole world!

Long live the European proletariat and the vanguard of the world revolution, the Communist Party!

Long live the Communist International!

Long live the World Soviet Republic!

Long live the leader of the world revolution, Comrade Lenin, and Comrade Broido, who established the revolution in Khiva!

Long live the Communist Party of Khiva and the Soviet Republic of Khiva!

Walcher: Comrades, the speaker this morning pointed out the important fact that at the beginning of the revolution many of us believed that the trades unions had no tasks to fulfil in the future. He is however wrong if he believes that Comrade Rosa Luxemburg was also one of those who defended this conception. I must establish here that at the founding conference she explicitly turned against those who tried to solve the whole problem with the slogan: ‘leave the trades unions!’ On the matter itself, I would like to say that I am sceptical towards Comrade Radek’s report and the remarks of the following speakers, which indicated that unity in principle had been achieved in the Commission on the questions at issue. So many remarks were made in the Commission that indicate that the comrades in Europe and America are determined to carry out the struggle against the old, ossified trade union bureaucracy by setting up new trades unions and leaving the old ones. Many a remark that was made there breathed the spirit of the KAPD and sounded very familiar to me.

Conditions in England and America are certainly very complicated; but if the English comrades wish to stay in the trades unions and at the same time work in the shop stewards movement, then I cannot grasp why they spoke out against the Theses so sharply and emphatically from the start.

We have already pronounced the principle that Communists have the duty of building communist cells and carrying out propaganda in all organisations. The English comrades therefore have not just the right but the duty, irrespective of their activity in the trades unions, to be active according to our ideas in the shop stewards committees. If they nevertheless fundamentally oppose the Theses, that seems to me to prove that the English and American comrades approach the trade union question just as emotionally as they do the question of parliamentarism. In my opinion we must avoid considering this question emotionally, above all during the revolution. We cannot, as Marxists, ever forget that the trades unions did not become what they are today by some accident, but that we see before us the outcome of a reformist era of decades which gave rise to the trades unions growing together with capitalist society to an increasing degree. The objective revolutionary situation that we have before us today gives us the opportunity to revolutionise the old trades unions. If some comrades have doubts about this possibility, then they are overlooking the fundamental change in the objective situation, which today makes a duty out of what may have seemed utopian before the war. Comrades think that it takes too long, that the way is too hard. But every comrade after all should know precisely this, that we cannot fulfil our task without the millions that are in the trades unions, and that we absolutely must do this laborious work in the trades unions. The slogan ‘leave the unions!’ is an attempt to get round uncomfortable obstacles which does not, unfortunately, abolish them from the world.

I do not understand how those who say that the masses are ripe and that we could conquer the whole world can deny the possibility of winning the minds of the trade union masses. I say this is possible, we can and must do it. It is then further objected: ‘Well, we don’t need the great masses, revolutions are always the work of small minorities.’ I think that when they say this the comrades are thinking of a palace revolution like the one in Portugal or elsewhere. A revolution like the one we have to carry out can only be the work of the great masses.

It will be said: ‘Yes, the masses are ripe, but the leaders are to blame.’ This conception results in the assumption: ‘The thing to do is to remove the leaders, and everything is well’. The whole tactics of the German Independents in the trades unions is based on placing their supporters in individual leading positions. In the process revolutionary activity in the masses themselves is neglected. The Wolffheims and the Rühles on the other hand say: ‘Even if the bureaucracy were to be removed, nothing would in fact be changed’. The English comrades, too, argue the same way in their Theses.

That is a remarkable contradiction. On the one hand, the leaders are to blame, and on the other, it is unimportant whether the leaders are there or not. In Germany the Wolffheim-Rühles have put it to a practical test. It is our duty to warn urgently against following in their footsteps. We have had hard struggles on precisely this question, and the split in the KPD had its origins mainly in the attitude towards the trade union question. We have not one, but a hundred, proofs of the fact that the trade union bureaucracy will festively greet the day that the Communists leave their ranks. I personally had to fight for a long time for my membership of the metal workers’ union. We will not give the trade union bureaucracy that pleasure. Our comrades know that would be just like uncoupling the locomotive from a train and driving around with it, but leaving the train itself to its fate. It has also been pointed out very correctly not only in the Theses but also in the speakers’ remarks, that in the trades unions we have not only to carry out communist propaganda, but also to protect all the interests of the working class and to make an energetic stand on every question. Precisely in the trades unions – my own experience has proved this to me – the more selflessly and energetically the communist becomes the champion of all the cares and needs of his colleagues, the more easily he wins the confidence of the masses.

Now I could have wished that what Comrade Radek said about sabotage and passive resistance could have found a place in the Theses. After the experiences that we have had of sabotage as a weapon in the trade union struggles, it seems to me to be very much to the point. There are of course situations in which we are forced to use sabotage; but in general it is unsuitable, and we should warn against its use.

I should like to say a word more about the position of the works councils. The Theses before us say, quite correctly, that the division of labour between the works councils and the trades unions is the result of historical development. But Comrade Radek has said that any attempt to hand the works councils over to the trades unions is counter-revolutionary. In principle this proposition seems to me to be correct. But in the current situation in Germany it is possible for it to give rise to misunderstandings. That is to say, for months past in Germany, the question has to be fought out whether the works councils should be brought together as independent organisations or whether they should be incorporated into the trades unions. The fight was led by the trade union bureaucracy on the one hand and the works’ council centre on the other. We supported the left Independents in their efforts to bring together the works councils as independent organisations, but these efforts have been unsuccessful until now, for reasons that I do not wish to go into here. I will only say that it is the case in this fight, and that it was previously the case, that one half of the USPI) stood on one side and the other half stood on the other side, that they cancelled each other out, and that what it came down to in practice was that the trades unions, leaning on the right wing of the USPD, were able to impose their views.

Now the fight can be considered as closed, and we can say that Legien emerged as the provisional victor from it, for the trade union federation of the old German trades unions adopted its guidelines unanimously, and it has already been announced that a national congress of works councils is to take place shortly. Our comrades are prepared to participate in it and to carry on the fight against Legien in this arena. The Legiens aim to make the works councils into organs of the collaborationist Arbeitsgemeinschaft, but we are certain that they will not succeed. We will try to stop them by rigidly holding together our comrades everywhere, by bringing our comrades in the works councils too together in factions. And if they make themselves the attorneys for all the needs that arise for the working class out of the decay of the capitalist order, then we are certain that we will succeed in turning the works councils and trades unions into organs which will quite consciously direct their impetus against capitalist society and will consciously stand up for Communism.

Bombacci: I should like to say a few words about why I cannot accept Comrade Radek’s Theses. Nothing that has been said here corresponds either with the historical development of the trades unions or with the historical movement in general. I fear – and, moreover, I would like you to direct your eyes to Western Europe that in Radek’s Theses one can see a danger that the trades unions must replace the Party. I emphasise that the thought is clear enough to me not to conceive the sense of the Theses in such a way that the Party is to be replaced by the trades unions without further ado. But the tendency is such. I absolutely dispute that the trades unions have any revolutionary functions at all. I refer to the examples of America and Western Europe. Especially in Russia, although one has a trade union movement there, it has not fulfilled a revolutionary function. It was a sort of intermediary between the working class and the bourgeoisie, and therefore it would be a mistake to ascribe any revolutionary role to the trades unions, and it would be all the less permissible to give the trades unions the opportunity to replace the Party.

I would like to say that the trades unions also provide a rostrum for propaganda. In parliament this propaganda is limited to turning towards a certain number of people, while in the trades unions it turns to the whole working class. During the war a new tendency arose in Italy which wants to found a new party out of the trades unions. In Germany too, during the Kapp days, the trades unions said: ‘If power is handed to us, we will exercise that power on behalf of the trades unions.’ In all these manifestations I see a dangerous symptom. In Italy too there is talk of setting up a labour party. That is not the task of the trades unions. The trades unions should not be permitted to exercise political functions. The trades unions have carried out reformist political functions. The trades unions have carried out reformist activity, and they are not equal to revolutionary tasks. I should like to draw the attention of the English and American comrades to this danger. I refer to Italian experiences, where the attempt was made to unite the various movements, but where this did not succeed.

What does the Communist Party face in the trades unions? The example of Italy shows that some of the trades unions were syndicalist and some were reformist. It is a question, above all, in the trades unions of replacing the opportunist leaders with Communists, so that the leadership in the trades unions too is a communist one. To the trades unions themselves I should not like to ascribe any political role.

Lozovsky: Comrades, the question of the trades unions and their significance for the resolution that we are considering is extremely important, not only for this Congress, but also in the struggle that is now being played out in every country.

In my opinion many of the comrades who have spoken on the trade union movement are labouring under a great error, since they consider the trade union movement from a false standpoint.

Thus, for example, Comrade Bombacci has just spoken about the trade union movement and claimed it is absolutely impossible to win the trades unions, for example in Italy, for the communist movement.

Other comrades, mainly the Americans and the British, have, after testing the trades unions in their countries, also come to quite pessimistic conclusions. They declare that the trade union movement cannot be utilized for the social revolution.

When we pronounce the words ‘trade union’ and ‘trade union movement’ do we understand by that the trades unions themselves or the leaders? If we have only the leaders in mind, then it is clear that it is not they that will form the material for the social revolution. But if we speak of the trades unions and the trade union movement, we want to talk about the masses who are to be found in these organisations. And if the pessimistically-minded comrades inform us that it is absolutely impossible to win the trades unions, and if on the other hand it were true that the trades unions in France and Italy are and win always remain reformist trades unions, then they must tell themselves that the social revolution in these countries is not possible at all, for the modern trade union is not a small organisation, but a mass organisation embracing millions of workers. And if it is true that we cannot win this organisation, then we must despair of the world revolution.

Simultaneously, however, Comrade Bombacci tells us that the revolution is making progress in Italy, and that its realisation is only a question of a few weeks. On the strength of that, I ask him: ‘With whom will you make this revolution? And who will make it? What will the trades unions do in the revolution? What role will they play?’ The comrade must give us an answer to these questions. In any case, it cannot be claimed that one can count on these organisations.

We cannot quote as an example the Russian trades unions, which are scarcely three years old. They were in fact only born in 1917. They are still very young.

If we turn to the old capitalist countries, particularly America or Germany, where the trades unions have existed for a long time, or England, where they have been in existence for a century, we have seen in the course of recent years and months that millions of workers have entered the trades unions and have transformed them.

It is not the leaders who come under consideration here. We have to drive them out. The question is to win the masses. Any tactic that aims to make the most advanced elements of the proletariat leave the trades unions is a reactionary tactic, an admission that we are so weak that we are unable to win the masses.

Comrades, the more difficult the task is, the greater the efforts that have to be made to carry it out. We must go into the trades unions and win them. If we have an already constituted trade union, like the metalworkers’ trade union in Germany, should we build a new one by its side? If, as in England, we have a firmly constituted trade union movement, must we then form a new one?

It can be seen clearly from this that some comrades who appear in their speeches to be revolutionary, in reality propose a reactionary tactic which must be rejected. A communist who understands the situation and hopes and believes that the mass of workers will go hand in hand with the communists, says: ‘Join the trades unions and win them for our cause! That is a major precondition for the conquest of power and the overthrow of the bourgeois state!'

Here arises the question of the works councils, which takes different forms in different countries. I asked a German comrade: ‘How many workers have you organised in these works councils in Germany?’ He answered: ‘We had 17 million.'

There has also been talk here about the shop stewards committees in Britain. These are not factory committees, as in Russia, or works councils, as in Germany. They are groups of workers who are of a like wind who have come together and formed committees that are called shop stewards’ committees. They form communist or revolutionary factions in the works. When people talk to us about shop stewards’ committees, we reply that we are dealing here with quite a special question, since their position has nothing in common with the position of the works councils in Germany and of the factory committees in Russia.

We must reach agreement on this question. If you are trying to tell us that a communist or vanguard faction must be built in the trades unions, then do so. But if you want to organise works councils outside of the trade union committees that embrace all workers, then we reply that you are wrong, to form them outside of the trades unions. Many say: ‘The trades unions are reactionary, therefore a counter-organisation must be set up outside the trades unions.’ No, this organisation must be formed inside the trades unions themselves.

If you form works councils as organisations standing outside the trades unions, you will have the mass of trade union workers against you. But if you organise in the works and the factories works councils that carry out the same work as the trades unions and which, through their work, transform and shake up the trades unions, then through your persistence, your work and your propaganda you will in the end revolutionise the trades unions. That is a result that cannot be achieved by speeches, but by deeds. And these deeds must be carried out by the soviets, by the works councils. Only from this standpoint can the work of the works councils be understood , only in this way can one understand why they must be organised.

Before the October revolution we transformed the factory committees, not by verbal propaganda, but by deeds. We will yet transform the trades unions before the social revolution, for the trades unions must become the organ of this revolution. If we do not win the trades unions before the decisive battle, if we cannot utilise trade union discipline in every country for the social revolution, we will be beaten. These trades unions must he won before the social revolution, so that they can form the basis for the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is the experience that one can draw from the Russian revolution.

A few words more on the international movement. We have discussed The prospects for an international trade union organisation with some American comrades. They said that the organisation that has been created is not sufficiently revolutionary. Here in Moscow we have created the basis for a new organisation.

We have discussed with the English comrades for six days and six nights. Where did our differences of opinion lie? I will tell you. The same comrades that today accuse us of not being revolutionary enough were unwilling to subscribe to the point on the dictatorship of the proletariat. They told us that the state must be overthrown. We asked them, which state? They said the bourgeois state must be overthrown. We told them that we want a revolution but we do not want any ambiguities.

These are the differences of opinion that have prevented the shop stewards’ committees and the IWW from joining in the declaration that we have signed. I hope that this declaration will be adopted in the minutes of the Congress. Signed by the representatives of seven countries, it contains three important sections.

1. We create an organisation now that is directed against the Amsterdam International.

2. This organisation is based on the dictatorship of the proletariat, on the violent overthrow of bourgeois society.

3. The main elements of the vanguard cannot leave the workers’ trades unions, but must win them.

Those who feel too weak to fight to win the trades unions do not share this point of view. We, however, believe that the labour movement in every country is progressing with giant steps and driving the workers to the social revolution. It depends on the communists doing all they possibly can to win the trades unions (which today are still opportunistically minded) and utilising trade union discipline for the greater good of the social revolution.

I have not said everything that I wanted to say, but it is about all I could say in the short time I have been given.

Zinoviev: The Presidium proposes to close the discussion and proceed to the vote. There are still 16 speakers on the fist. We have had a main report and two co-reports, which have explained the points of view sufficiently. The Commission has had six sessions of five hours each, and the question has also been gone into sufficiently in the literature.

Reed: I have no objection to the list being closed, but I am opposed to a closure of the discussion. The discussion is being closed on purpose in order to avoid a discussion with the English and American delegation on this point. In the Commission sessions, Comrade Radek avoided discussing the trade union question, because there were differences on principle there, and today he has declared that there were no differences present. All this proves that a discussion is necessary, even if it is to last all night, for the matter has not really been discussed at all here.

Radek: Reed’s speech is not distinguished by excessive fear of distorting the truth. The whole description of the state of affairs in the Commission is an objective untruth. In the Commission we had the following situation: for two sessions we could not get a thought out of Comrade Reed for love or money. Finally Comrade Reed and his comrades produced some theses. In these theses the point of view was developed that trade union organisations must be demolished on principle. He defended in principle the standpoint of the destruction of the trades unions.

Thereupon I declared that there was a difference in principle between his theses and ours. Consequently there did not seem to be any purpose in a point by point discussion. Comrades Murphy and Fraina were also present in the Commission. One could perceive in their remarks a factual content that was not available in Reed’s speeches. Yesterday we had a session on this question. The American and English delegates were of the opinion that we had reached an agreement, that there were no differences on principle. Reed’s standpoint was dropped. Reed personally did not propose a single motion. Even though the other point of view did not exist, the English and American comrades had two co-reporters today. And if after that Reed has the cheek to say that the discussion is being broken off because of fear of the great light of John Reed, then that is impudence. He has time to discuss until tomorrow morning. Other people do not have the time.

MacAlpine: I ask that the discussion should not be closed, but only the speakers’ list. What Radek took two hours to say was reproduced in a translation of twenty minutes. It is very strange that people are so economical with their time here in Russia. I urgently ask for another six or seven hours for the discussion, and that the English-speaking comrades should be given the opportunity to speak out.

Gallacher: Radek should stand up for himself here. There was a bad translation in the Commission too. People did not want to give us enough time to discuss the Theses. And we English-speaking comrades have the impression that people just want to push through the Theses. We therefore ask for a discussion to be opened and for Comrade Reed to be given the opportunity to set forth his point of view.

Zinoviev: We have had six sessions of the Commission. All day today we have had discussions in the plenum, and now we are told: ‘You want to shut us up, you do not want to stand up for yourselves, and so on.’ But we do not go on speaking until we collapse. Seven speakers have spoken. Three speakers were from the Anglo-American group, three speakers were supporters of Radek’s Theses, and the seventh speaker was Bombacci, who took up a position that is pretty close to that of the English. The discussion was shared absolutely correctly. The English-speaking comrades had half or more of the speakers. That is why I think that our English friends are wrong to speak so heatedly here. After we have discussed so much, they now declare that we have been disloyal towards them. It is unheard-of to take up such a standpoint after they have been treated in this way. I propose we take a decision to end the discussion.

Tanner: I insist that we are given the right to speak and that the speakers’ list is not closed now. In the Commission we were promised that the question would be discussed exhaustively, since it is one of the most important questions. The Theses, the motions and the proposals before us had not been translated, and the members of the Commission scarcely had the opportunity to take cognisance of them. It took two and a half days to discuss the question of accepting the French socialists and the USPD. And for that reason this question, which is much more valuable, ought to be dealt with in greater detail.

Radek: I have never heard of a group disavowing its own reporters. The Anglo-American group sent forward two reporters. After they have spoken, Tanner comes and says that their arguments were not developed. Does Reed think that one has to take two days over developing his ideas? It is not a question of long discussions here. Reed, after all, is not an independent political party and an independent tendency. The tendency he represents was defended by the Anglo-American reporters. If they did not send Reed forward as a co-reporter, then they have proved that they did not see in him the representative of an independent tendency. They had the opportunity to discuss their standpoint here. It was Fraina and Tanner who spoke on behalf of this group. If it is claimed here that it is not true that Reed demanded withdrawal from the trades unions, then I have here the Theses that he proposed.

In them, it says: ‘The trade union apparatus must be destroyed, just as we must destroy the bourgeois state.'

I do not understand what will be left of the trades unions after the trade union apparatus has been destroyed. Moreover, you should consider the fact that we shall not take any final decisions during today’s session. I shall not make a winding-up speech. The matter will go back to the Commission, since an extension of the discussion is not a resolution of the matter.

Zinoviev: Nobody has asked for the floor. A vote will now be taken. All those in favour of the Bureau’s proposal to break off the discussion and take a vote on the Theses, please raise your hands. Those in favour of closing the discussion, please raise your hands with the red cards. 50 are in favour and 25 against. The discussion is closed. [Reed wants to make a statement.]

We come to the vote on the Theses. If various groups want to make statements on the vote, I shall give them the floor for two minutes.

Reed: On behalf of the American delegates I should like to say that we refuse to vote on these Theses.

Tanner: On behalf of the English delegates I declare that if the bureau does not think the matter is so important, we refuse to participate either in the vote or in the Commission.

Serrati: I declare that I shall vote for Comrade Radek’s Theses. I have not proposed any motions, but I think that they will be important in the life of our organisation. At the next Congress we will see what sort of motions we will propose. The question of the American delegation can be organised in the same way. I do not, it is true, agree completely with Comrade Radek’s thoughts, for I do not think it is possible to change the directives of the AF of L. It is an organisation that has not changed in 25 years and is becoming more and more reactionary. It is impossible to fight against that. I shall however vote for the Theses as they correspond with the line of our Party. And we have always supported them, with the exception of the question of the organisation of the Red Trades Union International. This organisation should not be dependent on the Communist International, but should represent something independent that goes fraternally alongside it.

Radek: I think there is a misunderstanding here. Comrade Serrati did not know that it is a matter here of the final vote, but thought that it was a question of referring motions back to the Commission, as has been done in all other questions, and as I announced.

Wijnkoop: When Radek was speaking I understood that he meant to say that we would vote on these motions and not on his Theses. I am sorry that, after Comrade Radek has introduced the matter in this way, further development is impossible and the discussion is broken off in this way. The way I understood the discussion, comrade Radek himself proposed that a vote should not yet be taken on the Theses. If he had said that the Theses would only be voted on as a basis, then there would be no difference as compared with the procedure that was observed with the other Theses. However, I thought that he was trying to make a difference here. I think that some other members also thought, when they voted to close the discussion, that a session of the Commission would take place here at six o'clock, at which the discussion, which has been rejected here, would be continued. Since, however, the vote is to take place without discussion, I do not think we are in a position to cast our votes on such a question.

Pestana: I protest against the incorrect way the discussion is run. Nothing is being translated into French for us. The trade union question is of great importance, indeed, it is the most important question of the Congress. Consequently I shall not vote.

Zinoviev: The question is of voting for the Theses as a basis. The question goes back to the Commission and will be dealt with again there. I should also like to point out that one should be sparing with threats to withdraw from the Congress, firstly because nobody is frightened of threats and secondly because that will not do at a communist Congress.

Maring: Comrades, I believe that this matter can be sorted out. It was done this way with the colonial question, too. The matter was referred back to the Commission. If complete unity had not been achieved there, the Commission would have to have re-appeared before the Congress. Thus, if the Trade Union Commission does not come to complete agreement – and I do not see any possibility of it at the moment – then the question will come back from the Commission to the Congress. If that is the way it goes, I can state my agreement with the agenda proposed.

Zinoviev: We come to the vote. All those in favour of the Theses read out by comrade Radek and in favour of the motions going back to the Commission, and, should no agreement being reached, coming back here once more, please raise your hands. [Vote. ] The proposal is adopted by 64 votes against 13 abstentions. The Bureau has the following proposals to make: We must have an accurate text of all our resolutions. We have four big groups, and we ask the groups in question each to elect a responsible comrade to take the text in hand, to check them, and to produce the final text in all four languages. Tomorrow at 11 o'clock there is a plenary session to deal with the agrarian question, tomorrow afternoon the organisation question.



End of the session.

 

 

 

Tenth Session
August 4



Zinoviev: The session is open. Comrade Balabanova has the floor to make an announcement.

Balabanova: Comrades, unfortunately we are in the sad position of having to make an announcement that is as distressing for you as it is for us. The day before yesterday, when one of our best and most active comrades, Comrade Augusta Aasen, who comes from Norway, and who has been active in the movement for twenty years, visited the aerodrome to see our Red Air Force, an accident occurred to which she fell victim. We do not need to tell you how terribly and how deeply we feel this great loss. We ask you to rise to honour this comrade’s memory. [The assembly rises from its seats.] I thank you. We ask all comrades to take home with them the assurance that the Russian proletariat will not forget the comrade who has died, and even if her death was due to an accident, then it is still true that she came here and died in the struggle for the proletariat and out of love for the Communist International.

Zinoviev: The Bureau proposes, on behalf of the Congress, to express our deepest sympathy for our sister party in Norway. We will now proceed with the agenda. The agrarian question will be dealt with. The reporter, Comrade Meyer, has the floor.

Meyer: Comrades, since the real reporter on this question, Comrade Marchlewski, is prevented from speaking here in connection with the gratifying advances of the Red Army, I must make a substitute report in his place, bringing together briefly Comrade Lenin’s Theses and the work of the Commission.

The agrarian question has been placed on the agenda by the revolution in Eastern and Central Europe, and demands not only theoretical but also practical solution. The preparatory work for this has up until now been very slight, and the Second International has done as good as nothing in this area. In general one was satisfied with sketching beautiful pictures of the agricultural production of the future after the introduction of socialism. But how the rural population can be won for the proletarian revolution, and what struggles must be carried out to achieve this ideal goal – on that the Second International said very little, nor did it do anything to prepare something in practice.

The best elements of the Second International were satisfied with polemicising against the opportunist wing, which, on the basis of an incorrect reading of the statistical data, claimed in general that there was no question of the socialisation of landed property, and over and above that, that the social revolution could not take root in the countryside. On the basis of German statistics, the revisionists tried to prove that Marxist theories did not apply to the countryside, and on the basis of these theories they rejected the social struggle and rejected the social revolution. Those who did oppose these reformists did so like Kautsky – essentially for the purpose simply of proving that Marxist theory did apply after all in this field. Further practical conclusions were not however drawn from this.

The attitude of the Communist International to this question is a different one. For us it is a question of really revolutionising the countryside. For there can be no doubt about this, that without the active participation of broad layers of the rural population, it is impossible to secure and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. For us, for the Communist International, the securing of the revolution comes first, and all the questions connected with the agrarian question can only be considered and answered from this angle.

The task of the Communist International with relation to the agrarian question can be briefly summarised in the question: ‘How do we take the class struggle, the revolutionary struggle, out into the countryside?’ The revolutionising of the rural population, whose needs can only be satisfied by the revolution, stands on the agenda of history. Even the few experiences that it was possible to make here in Russia, the experiences that were made with agrarian reforms in Central Europe, confirm the thesis that forms the guiding star of the discussions of the whole Congress: bourgeois democracy is incapable of solving this question, and a satisfactory solution can only be achieved by the revolution and by the dictatorship of the proletariat. The parties that allegedly represent the interests of the rural population, like for example the Socialist Revolutionaries in Russia and the peasant-bourgeois parties in Europe, betrayed their own programmes when they had power in their hands and were able to turn their programme into deeds. Bourgeois democracy is incapable of solving this question.

It is not only the practical activity of the Socialist Revolutionaries in the Russian border states that proves this. In the other countries too all attempts at agrarian reform amount to destroying and dividing up a portion of large landed property, in order thus to create a new proletarian or semi-proletarian element that is to provide a cheap object of exploitation for existing large landed property. Whatever smallholding laws have been passed in Germany have remained on paper, or consist of creating elements of exploitation for large landed property. The single exception of a somewhat more serious looking agrarian reform has perhaps been created in Bohemia; but that too is only because the national differences between the Czech, Jewish and German elements have been emphasised, so that the Czech peasants have in part been satisfied by the expropriation of the other elements.

The Communist International must go beyond what bourgeois democracy has done and must especially strive to cancel the opposition between town and country, to forge together the urban and rural proletarian population for the common struggle, for the proletarian revolution. That happens, among other things, by making sure that the rural workers share all the advantages that are available to the urban workers, and further by raising the urban workers’ consciousness of the necessity of rural work.

The question of how the proletarian revolution can be taken out into the countryside, into the village, can only be solved if a detailed and precise analysis of the various layers of the rural population is drawn up. The Theses before you make the attempt to classify the rural population into various layers: first the agricultural proletarians, the wage-workers, secondly the semi-proletarians and small-holders, thirdly the small-peasants, fourthly the middle peasants, fifthly the large peasants, and sixthly the large landowners. Of course, this way of formulating the Theses only gives a general scheme. Given the variegated character of the composition of the rural population in the various countries, the conditions in every country must be studied accurately in order to be able to determine in detail where the revolutionising of the rural population can start. Here at the Congress only general outlines for judging the situation of the rural population and for working over by the Communist Parties can be given.

The group that comes into question for the proletarian revolution in the first place and completely is the rural workers, the forestry workers, and further the workers who are active in industrial enterprises that are connected with agriculture, such as dairies, distilleries, etc. The big market-gardening concerns, which employ a large number of wage-labourers, also come into question. The social position of this layer of the rural population is very difficult and bad, but also so wen known that we do not need to talk about it in greater detail. Their bad economic position, low wages and bad housing conditions, are connected with the political and social pressure exerted by the Junkers, so that this proletarian element will join the revolution without any further ado. This layer is among the most active elements within the proletarian revolution and, despite all the bad experiences of the past, its organisational ability is at the moment very great.

I only need to remind you that the agricultural workers union in Germany is today one of the biggest free trades unions and counts 500,000 members. In so small a country as Italy the agricultural workers’ union has over 800,000 members. That proves what importance this layer has for the social revolution and at the same time how relatively easy it will be to incorporate these layers in our ranks. This organisation must not be limited to the trade union field, but equally and even more these layers must be embraced by our political organs, by the Communist Parties. Over and above that, everything must be done in every other respect to win these layers, through educational work, etc.

I should like to add here something about activity among women in the countryside. That applies not only to women servants but also to the wives of small peasants who are forced to go to work by the war and by today’s social conditions. The fact that they do these jobs promises us success and can by no means be neglected. The questions that have already been settled by the Congress, work in the trades unions and in parliament, take on a special importance seen from this angle. When it is said by the opponents of activity in the trades unions that one has opportunity enough to organise the proletariat and carry out agitation, then this objection could perhaps apply to the industrial proletariat.

Getting a grip on the rural proletariat, on the other hand, can be done most easily through the work of communists in the agricultural workers’ unions and through participation in election campaigns. Big layers of the rural population can be brought into the sphere of revolutionary activity comparatively easily in both ways. The success of systematic agitation is very great.

Take the experiences in Russia and in Germany. In the March action, in replying to the Kapp putsch, Germany’s rural population behaved well and boldly. The landowners were chased out or locked up, agricultural concerns were maintained. The agricultural workers delivered the surplus of food to the towns without any further ado. Over and above that the rural workers got together and provided revolutionary fighting cadres for the proletariat in the towns. Not only during this struggle before the seizure of power, but also after the seizure of power the rural proletariat will be one of the strongest supports of soviet power. The question is to give an organisational form to this mainly, or provisionally, elemental movement of the rural proletariat. The formation of estate councils is the best way to bring the turbulent, elemental forces together.

The second layer of the rural population, the semi-proletarians and small-holders,, can also be won for the proletarian revolution in a similar way, if not so easily as the agricultural workers. This layer too is dependent upon the big landowners. They suffer the same difficulties as the agricultural workers. Indeed, their position is perhaps even more difficult, for the small-holders have in addition their own personal worries about their little piece of land. In most countries it would be to the point to enrol these semi-proletarian elements in the organisations of the actual agricultural labourers. The question is more difficult in the case of the small peasants and tenant farmers who are able to earn their keep by working their land, but do not employ any outside labour. Among them are also the small fruit and vegetable farmers and market gardeners. They are not revolutionary-minded, but nevertheless they come partially under consideration for our fighting ranks. The question is to educate them about the necessity of the social revolution and about their own interests.

In reality these small peasants are suffering greatly under present conditions. They too, even if usually indirectly, are dependent on the big landowners and on capital. They too perform unpaid labour in the way that they meet the interest payments on mortgages, pay inflated prices for agricultural machinery, and so on. The living standard of this layer is often purely proletarian. The pressure of taxes, deposit money and so forth, the general price increase under which this layer suffers, these are all questions that we must bring home to them through systematic agitation. It is not excluded that a professional organisation can be created within this layer also. Only last year an association of rural labourers and small peasants was set up in this way in Germany. It then emerged that there was no purpose in forming such an association outside the trades unions, and the association was dissolved. Nevertheless the small peasants in South Germany asked us to maintain it and to continue to publish our paper for it, saying that they had especial interest in our ideas. And so we have reached the point in Germany of forming an organisation for the peasants which, however loose, nevertheless has its importance.

In just the same way we encourage the small peasants in Germany to form themselves together in councils of small peasants in order not only to pursue economic interests, but also to take up the political and social struggle. I must add that this work has not as yet had any success. We have had estate councils in very many villages. The participation of small peasants has not yet been obtained. Nevertheless we are not backing down in this agitation. We have partially succeeded in convincing small peasants that a division of the land would bring no special advantages to them, and that it would be more to the point to form themselves together in councils of small peasants and co-operatives to run in common the large landed estates that are to be expropriated.

Admittedly, it must be emphasised that in many countries, particularly in the small western democracies, the small peasants are very reactionary, and in general therefore it must be assumed that during the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat a vacillation will make itself manifest in this layer, now to the side of private property, now to the side of communism. These small proprietors are demoralised by views of a private capitalist kind. In order to remove these vacillations and win support for ourselves we must bring them to an understanding that they too are suffering under the present system, and tell them what advantages they will enjoy in the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat and after the establishment of the proletarian state power.

We must assure them that they will be able to keep their little landed property, as there would be no sense in expropriating this little landed property, since at the time of the struggle neither the political nor the technical possibility would exist of farming this little property in common against the will of its proprietor. We must not only assure them that they will be able to keep their property, but we must also do everything to remove the usury under which these small peasants suffer. Liberation from the pressure of taxes, from rents, from the mortgage burden and from deposit money are advantages that must be granted to the small peasants by the proletariat without any further ado. Furthermore their rights to common grazing land and woods must be freed from dependence upon the big landowners. What is more, they must be promised help through being given buildings, machines, equipment and seeds which will be taken from the big landowners.

Finally they must be told that the co-operatives, which today in almost every country stand at the disposal of the rich peasants, must be transformed into organisations that exclusively serve the interests of the small peasants. In countries where there are certain limitations to free trade, and the obligation to make deliveries in kind, they must also be told that these forced deliveries of food must be maintained, but that the organisational apparatus necessary to carry them out will be taken from the bureaucracy and placed in the hands of the small peasants themselves. The small peasants must be made aware that they will obtain advantages from the socialisation of big firms and the cheapening of agricultural machinery. For that reason, systematic educational work must be carried out among the small peasants. They must be enlightened about their social position. If agitation is carried out in this way it is to be expected that the peasants will in part go with the proletariat, or at least will not become opponents of the proletarian dictatorship. Taken together, the groups of agricultural workers, semi-proletarians and small-holders form a splendid field for Communist Party work, and after the conquest of power by the proletariat all three layers will become clear that affiliation to the proletarian state is the best means to satisfy their own interests.

The question is even more difficult in the case of the middle peasants than it is in that of the small peasants. In part they use outside labour power and have large enough holdings to be able to produce a surplus of food. This layer is by no means small. It is pointed out in the Theses that this middle layer, with holdings of from 5 to 10 hectares, includes over half a million people in Germany. It is clear that it is impossible to drive this layer from its landholdings, as that would mean a cut in food production. What comes into question therefore is treating this layer differently. The attempt must be made to neutralise them. Kautsky pointed out that it is necessary to treat the peasantry in such a way that they do not give the bourgeoisie any active help. With these middle peasants too there is no question of the immediate abolition of private property. It will even be possible to give the middle peasants even more land, insofar as it is a question of land already rented by them, and in the process the middle peasants will also have the further advantage that for them too rents will be abolished.

Of course, all these advantages can only be granted to the middle peasants on condition they recognise soviet power, make food deliveries and offer no resistance. Here too experience in Russia shows that with such treatment it is possible to bring the middle peasants to a loyal attitude towards soviet power. This treatment of the middle peasants, maintaining private property, is necessary for the attitude of this layer of peasants amounts more or less to what one of the Russian peasants expressed in the bad joke: ‘We are for soviet power but against communism.’ The Russian example shows that these peasants will adapt and come to terms with proletarian state power if they are treated properly. In the Red Army a great-number of middle peasants are doing their duty against external enemies.

The peasants on the other hand, who as a rule employ outside labour power, are among the most numerous and determined opponents of soviet power, and it is to be expected that not only now, but also later, after the setting up of soviet power, they will carry out all sorts of sabotage and even offer military resistance. This danger must be clearly faced, and all preparations must be made to thwart this resistance and beat it down wherever it shows itself. The disarming of the large peasants must be carried out. But even with these large peasants there is no question of expropriation as an immediate task of the revolution. The rented land that is needed for small and middle peasants must be taken from them, and they will be completely expropriated without any further ado if they offer obstinate resistance. But should this condition not be present we will let the big peasants keep their land. It is important to eliminate the political and military resistance of this layer. And here too, experience in Russia shows that it is possible to call forth such a half-way loyal attitude in this layer. As soon as the victory of the proletarian revolution has been assured, it will emerge that the large peasants too will come to terms with the new conditions.

The big landowners, who in part even during the war undertook big land purchases, must immediately be expropriated without exception and without compensation. There can be no question of their being paid compensation for the expropriation, as Kautsky and other Independents propose. What happens with the land that has been expropriated? The simplest and most appropriate thing to do is to hand it over in common to the agricultural workers who previously worked on it. Soviet farms must be set up which run these estates on behalf of and as organs of proletarian state power, maintain themselves, and deliver the surplus to the soviet power. Under certain circumstances it will be possible to create collective enterprises that work the land co-operatively.

These two solutions are the best not only for the agricultural workers and the semi-proletarians, but also for the urban population, which will thus become partially independent of the peasantry in the question of supplies. It is a precondition for this solution that the rural proletariat has collected a certain wealth of technical experience. Since this precondition is not everywhere present, one must reckon with the fact that in special cases exceptions must be made. Such exceptions have been made in Russia, where big landed properties have in part been divided up. This exception is not the infringement of the principles of Communism that Kautsky tried to make out; for the main task of proletarian power consists in securing itself and the proletarian revolution, creating the foundations for Communism. All other questions must take second place to this main historical consideration. Even cuts in production, which can indeed have a painful effect even today, must take second place to this question.

When is it permissible to divide up big landed property? A division can only come into question when it is leased to small peasants, that is to say when this big landed property is not farmed as a unit. In this case the division does not at all mean relinquishing large-scale operation. Further, this division is possible when the big property is scattered in small peasant settlements. Here land hunger is so great that under certain conditions it has to be satisfied for the security of the revolution. In Southern Germany it is conceivable that the few big estates that exist will be divided up. And finally a division among the experienced peasants comes into question where the rural proletariat is too backward. The most important thing in any case is that the landowners should not be left on their estates, that they must be driven out, and if large-scale enterprise cannot be maintained without them, then the peasants must be won to working this land. After the establishment of proletarian power it will become possible to win bourgeois experts for this work under the control of soviet power.

The precondition for the winning of the rural proletariat is a determined struggle by the urban proletariat for the social revolution, without flinching at sacrifice, and in this the Communist Parties must be in the forefront as a vanguard. In order to win the layers that are still vacillating or are accessible to communist ideas, they must be granted economic advantages immediately after the victory of the proletarian revolution. The semi-proletarians; and the small and middle peasants must feel that they themselves gain advantages in the new order, and moreover these advantages must be granted at the expense of the exploiters.

In order to encourage the movement in the countryside it is necessary to establish relations with the economic struggle on the land, in the first place with the strike movement. Big strike movements have started on the land in almost every country, and these must be utilised by the Communist Parties in order to convince the rural proletariat that a real improvement of its position cannot be achieved by the granting of higher wages, but only by the victory of the proletarian revolution. In connection with these economic struggles the Communist Parties must also win the rural proletariat for themselves, and must create their own organisations. The rural proletariat must be convinced that they themselves must organise for the liberation struggle in the form of estates’ councils. A particular role falls to the industrial workers in the countryside, who mainly originate from the urban proletariat, in strengthening this movement. The Communist Parties must turn to them to carry the movement out into the countryside and strengthen it with their help. Special agitation among the small peasants is also necessary. It must be carried out by every available means. In the Theses further suggestions are made about how, through agitation, meetings, through the collaboration of the trades unions and the treatment of the agrarian question in parliament, the countryside can be revolutionised.

These, then, are briefly the tasks put before the Congress by the Theses. The Commission occupied itself, in several sessions, with the Theses, and undertook a large number of amendments, particularly a large number of stylistic amendments in the German edition. These Theses are intended only as a general framework for the activity of the Communist Parties in the countryside. It would be appropriate for the communists of every country to create their own agrarian programme, containing particular proposals. I should like to point out that in Germany for example such an agrarian programme of the KPD already exists.

As far as material amendments are concerned, in paragraph 2, on page 33, add: ‘The industrial rural workers, the forestry workers.’ after ‘wage labour in the capitalist. ...'

On page 34 add: ‘that a common organisation of agricultural workers ...’.

On page 38, point 4, several sentences have been deleted in which the interests of the middle peasants are opposed to those of the wage labourers. Where it says: ‘for the world outlook...’, to: ‘the victorious proletariat’, on page 39, add: ‘that there is no question of an immediate abolition of private property in the case of the middle peasants, on the contrary...'

The biggest amendments have been undertaken in paragraph 6. In the original version there is too much emphasis on the exception to the rule that the land cannot be divided up. The Commission deleted the sentence in the paragraph which says that it would be a mistake not to undertake the division of the land, and inserted a new sentence’... the principle that large-scale production must be maintained.’ The amendments are so numerous that I shall not read out the whole of the new version. The amendment corresponds almost word for word with a proposal from Comrade Marchlewski. In the German version on page 43, everything is deleted from the place where the section starts: ‘It would however be a great mistake...’, to the section on page 45: ‘the inventory of the large-scale concerns,’ and replaced by a new version. From then on the old text has been retained with few amendments. And then on page 46, a polemic against the Second International, against the German and English Independents, and against the French Longuetists has been deleted because the same thought has been expressed in another place.

Those are the essential amendments. In concluding I should like to point out how important it is for the Communist Parties to take the social revolution out into the countryside. It is impossible to secure the victory of the revolution, particularly in Central and Western Europe, without lining the rural proletariat up in the ranks of the urban proletariat. The particularly favourable conditions that existed in Russia through the fact that the peasantry has an interest in proletarian power through the question of ‘peace and land’, are in part missing in Central and Western Europe. That makes it all the more necessary for the Communist Parties to base themselves in the countryside on those parts of the rural proletariat that suffer in the same way as the urban proletariat, and in part even worse under present conditions. And the Commission hopes that the initiatives taken here will also bear fruit in the practice of the various Communist Parties in the various countries.

Graziadei: Comrades, I shall speak for myself, personally. First of all I should like to state that in general I accept the Theses that have been proposed to us by Comrade Lenin, particularly after the very interesting amendments that the Commission introduced especially in Thesis 6.

There exists a very striking similarity between Comrade Lenin’s Theses on the national and colonial question and the Theses on the agrarian question, even if the subject is a very different one. It is the same method, which is applied in different questions, and which consists in assessing the opponents and making concessions according to the requirements of the moment, or to what the people to whom one is making the concessions demand.

That is a method that one can define as the method of the minimum of effort, a method that aims at structuring the conquest of power more easily and quickly and creating conditions for the maintenance of power after its conquest.

I shall content myself with pointing out that this tendency reveals a danger that one could characterise as the danger of an opportunism from the left.

But the fact that these Theses and their application are entrusted to such comrades as Comrade Lenin and other Russian comrades can give us the certainty that this danger remains theoretical. However, I assure you that there are other countries and other situations where I would not be able to evince such confidence.

In order to facilitate the conquest of political power by the proletariat, Comrade Lenin’s Theses have a look at the peasant masses, divide them – analysing them all quite correctly – into various groups, and say: ‘We can take part of them with us, another part can be neutralised. But there is a further section among them that will always remain hostile to us, and we must fight indefatigably against it.'

The second part of Comrade Lenin’s Theses deals with the question of what is to be done after the conquest o f power. With the corrections proposed these Theses can be adopted. I must however make some practical comments.

In the Thesis on the petty and middle proprietors, Comrade Lenin shows himself to be very original. He tries to avoid two opposite errors which socialists have up till now made.

Many socialists believed that they could get round the great question of the petty and middle proprietors by saying: ‘In reality their fate is to disappear in bourgeois society, consequently we do not need to interest ourselves in them.’ That is a completely erroneous conception, since above all it is by no means true that the law of the concentration of capital is everywhere carried out as Marx described it. In any case, the form in which the attempt was made to apply the law of the concentration of capital to the petty proprietors, was simply nonsensical. Furthermore we recognise that, if we declare that the small peasants are condemned to disappear, we open ourselves to two dangers: our attention is directed away from the small peasants and they are driven into the arms of our opponents. Then it is obvious that, if we tell the small peasants that they have to disappear and that we want to abolish them artificially, we will turn millions of people into our opponents through such policies.

The other mistake – the opposite of the first – which our socialists committed was their belief that, since the small peasants were not fated to disappear, they would have to be organised, and that the revolution could not be carried out until this was done. That would mean a postponement of the revolution until the Greek Calends. That is not possible.

Between these two errors, which are diametrically opposed, Comrade Lenin proposes an attitude which I find pretty exact and acceptable. He says that we must show the small peasants that if they go with us they have everything to gain. That is good. But I have some reservations about the part that deals with the forms of organisation and struggle that have to be applied during the period preceding the conquest of political power.

In the Thesis before last, i.e. Thesis 8, there is talk about the strike of agricultural workers in which, in certain cases, the small peasants could also join. I am far from denying the importance of the revolutionary factor in these rural strikes. In Italy we had considerable rural strikes, and these broad movements had deep effects. But I must nevertheless make two objections. I do not understand why it is said that in certain cases the small peasants could participate in the strikes. I do not believe that they can. On the other hand it is also an error to think that the strike is the main weapon in every country, for there are countries where the organisations of the agricultural wage-labourers have achieved such strength that they can prepare the revolution and even start a policy of realising the proletarian dictatorship in bourgeois society itself.

In Italy we have workers’ organisations that directly take on public works. Similarly there are co-operatives which buy or rent land in order to cultivate it in common. Here lies a force of struggle and construction that has great significance and which we cannot ignore. That is why I wanted to propose to add the following at the end of Thesis 8:

‘Only at an advanced level of organisation, under certain conditions and in certain countries can the exploited rural masses organise themselves in co-operatives (to carry out public works, to cultivate bought or rented land in a completely or partially collective way, etc.). The Communists must take an interest in these organisations and try to lead them – with the goal, among others, that these organisations should not become involved in political compromises.'

I shall also turn to the question of the small peasants. In many countries the petty proprietors are already organised in co-operatives for purchasing and marketing and for the processing of their products (co-operative societies). It also often happens that they are organised by our opponents. The main aim of the socialists is not to organise the small peasants, but if they have a tendency to organise themselves we must intervene in these organisations, for one must go into every organisation where there are workers. I therefore propose to add the following at the end of Thesis 8:

‘As far as the small peasants are concerned, the Communists must enter their co-operative organisations for purchasing and marketing (co-operative societies) with the aim of awakening opposed tendencies here and giving them a character as little as possible limited to private property.'

I must make a further remark. I accept the conception, with the Commission’s amendments, on what the proletarian government must do as soon as it is in a position to deal with the agrarian question. But to fill it out I would make a small insertion in the 6th Thesis at the end of the second paragraph.

It is very correct not to permit compensation to be paid to the former big landowners. I think it is very good to remind socialists and communists that that would be an anti-socialist and anti-communist action. And I think it is strange that the proposal to give compensation was supported by the comrades from Italy, Austria and Germany.

That would mean burdening the rural masses with an enormous weight. But since one should always facilitate the revolution within the bounds of possibility, one should try after the first period of the struggle, to make use of the abilities of certain proprietors. This situation must be taken into account. I therefore propose the following insertion at the end of the second paragraph of Thesis 6:

‘If the question of compensation money absolutely must be touched on, then it must be pointed out in this question that the former big landowners must be granted a personal pension if their age no longer permits them to work and to get used to the new conditions of life quickly.

‘Of course this will depend on their personal attitude, for it would be ridiculous to grant anything to counter-revolutionaries. But if they submit to the new order, one must bring about some alleviation of their fate.'

Finally, I am of the opinion that in the 3rd Thesis, line 2, one should not say ‘in every capitalist country’, but that one should say ‘in almost every capitalist country’, for it is not quite right to say: ‘In every capitalist country the rural masses form the majority of the population’. In Britain, for example, the rural masses form the minority.

Shablin: Comrades, in the towns of Bulgaria there are important industries. In the villages the predominant form of ownership is that of petty landed property. The workers are concentrated in the towns, and it is from there that the Communist Party draws its main forces. But thanks to the fact that the process of the proletarianisation of the small peasants is proceeding very quickly, and that the position of the small peasants who are able to hang on to a bit of land has become very poor because of the consequences of the war, the influence of the Communist Party is beginning to spread to the countryside too.

The predominant form of ownership in the countryside in Bulgaria is petty landed property. In Bulgaria there are 495,000 landowners and the average area of each property is 0.9 hectares. But these holdings are shared out in the following way:

1. less than 5 hectares 225,000
2. less than 10 hectares 175,000
3. less than 100 hectares 95,000
4. more than 100 hectares 936

The first category, which is also the most numerous, consists of semi-proletarians, whose land is not even enough to satisfy their own needs. For a good part of the year they are obliged to work for the rich peasants or in mines, factories and towns. This category forms the largest part of our cadre in the countryside. The second category is the petty proprietors, whose land is scarcely sufficient to satisfy their family’s needs. They do not exploit the labour of others, and cultivate their land themselves. The Communist Party works among this layer, where it has marked up some remarkable results. As a consequence of the significant reduction of the productivity of agriculture, which was a result of the destruction of the stock of farm animals during the war, the economic position of this category has in fact become very insecure. These two semi-proletarian and small peasant categories embrace approximately four fifths of the whole peasant population of Bulgaria. All they can expect from the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois state is an increase in their financial burdens in order to cover the cost of the war and as a result an increase of their poverty.

The Communist Party is carrying out strong agitation and intensive propaganda among them. Our Party does not hide its maximum programme, that is to say the nationalisation of the land, from the semi-proletarians and small peasants. The profitability of small landholdings is so small in our country, the poverty of the semi-proletarians and the small landowners is so great, that the idea of increasing agricultural productivity through the common ownership of the land is gaining ground every day. But at the same time we explain to them that when the proletariat takes power it will carry out the expropriation of the big landowners, and not that of the small peasants and semi-proletarians, and that even the middle peasants will be left the right of free possession of their land. The semi-proletarians and the small landowners will come to the idea of the collective possession and cultivation of the land by themselves if by its actions the proletarian state shows them the advantages of the new socialist government; they themselves will come to the idea that the use of advanced agricultural machinery, the electrical cultivation of the land and the development of agricultural knowledge will make the collective possession and the collective cultivation of the land economically possible.

That is the direction that our agitation essentially follows, which takes into account the true position of the semi-proletarians and the petty landowners. We also make efforts to tear the toiling mass of the peasant population free from the influence of the bourgeoisie in the towns and in the countryside, from the influence of the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties, and to win them for the cause of the proletarian revolution.

I must particularly stress here that in this respect we have already marked up significant successes. The Communist Party has established a communist newspaper for the peasants; it has in the countryside almost a thousand communist organisations and groups which embrace 25,000 agricultural workers, semi-proletarians and small landowners whom it is preparing for the revolution. The slogan of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Councils is greeted with enthusiasm by these masses, who have lost their confidence in the bourgeoisie, the bourgeois state and the bourgeois parliament. We are working to have the majority of these masses with us at the moment of the revolution and with their help to paralyse the attempts of the bourgeoisie through the peasantry to drown the revolutionary proletariat in the towns in blood, the proletariat which – I must note here – is already completely won over to communist ideas.

The middle peasants, that is to say those who sell their agricultural products on the market, have piled up not a few banknotes during the war, and many among them have become rich. They represent the reactionary class in the countryside, but in our country they form a numerically weak and unimportant layer. Even fewer in number are the big landowners who, together with the middle peasants, form the peasant reaction on which the power of the bourgeoisie rests today. In our country – just as in the other capitalist states – the peasant bourgeoisie (the middle and big landowners has quite a large influence and, because of its overwhelming role in the market for agricultural products, whose prices have undergone an enormous increase, plays a significant political role. This peasant bourgeoisie stands in the camp of reaction and of counter-revolution. Today they are in league with the bourgeoisie in the towns for the purpose of speculation and for the exploitation of the masses, not only through the banks and the limited liability companies, but also through their bloodthirsty policy of stifling the proletarian revolution through the cruellest means that the bourgeois dictatorship uses.

But it must be repeated: in our country the peasant bourgeoisie only forms a very weak layer of the rural population, and if we succeed in winning the majority of the semi-proletarians and small peasants to us, we will be able to break the resistance of the peasant bourgeoisie at the moment of the revolution. For that reason we are making the greatest efforts as far as the organisation of agricultural workers (who are united in a trade union) is concerned: but what we want above all is to attract to us the semi-proletarians and small peasants in the countryside, who form the overwhelming majority of the rural population, and win them for communism.

We also recognise clearly the necessity of working towards neutralising the middle peasants for the revolution. We do not terrify them with the idea of expropriating their land, for in fact, with the technical means at our disposal at the moment, we cannot immediately organise collective agricultural production in the place of private agricultural production. Our aim is the expropriation of the big landowners. If we succeed in neutralising the middle peasants, then we shall have split the force of the reactionary block into two parts, and then it will be much easier to defeat it.

As far as the question of the creation of peasants’ councils is concerned, we think that it is closely connected with the creation of workers’ councils in the towns. When the revolutionary struggle has reached its climax and the working class and the class of the poor decides during the growth of the movement to proceed to the creation of soviets and the armed uprising – for in order for the workers’ and peasants’ councils to exist as revolutionary organs for the conquest and exercise of proletarian power, they must be defended by the workers and peasants with arms in hand – only then will it be possible and permissible to proceed to the creation of peasants’ councils which will be formed by the poor, the proletarians and semi-proletarians in the countryside.

Therefore the Bulgarian delegation accepts the Theses presented by the Executive Committee with the Commission’s amendments and submitted to the Congress by the reporter, Comrade Meyer, and supports them.

Serrati: I have asked for the floor in order to do Comrade Wijnkoop a favour and not be forced to make a statement in the last second before the vote. In my opinion this question does not interest the Congress. This is a Congress of comrades who come from industrial countries and do not know how interesting this question is. As far as I am concerned, I am merely making a statement. I think that it will not be possible to discuss this question thoroughly until the next Congress, when more experience will have been collected.

I shall abstain from voting. Personally I am against the Theses, which do not seem to correspond sufficiently to the necessities of the revolution in the Western countries. Our Party has not yet finally decided on this very serious question, and I do not think that I have the right to place my own personal will in the place of that of the comrades who delegated me to the Congress.

In general it seems to me that the necessities of the postrevolutionary period, during which the proletarian state will necessarily have to adapt to certain necessities, are being confused with the pre-revolutionary period, during which the Communists must adopt an exact and definite attitude towards all bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties.

These Theses, just like the Theses on the colonial and national question, take no account of the fact that the concessions made to various social layers in order to influence them in our favour or to neutralise them can be very dangerous for the proletarian layers in the moment of the revolutionary fray, and can lead them into a more and more opportunist path of concessions. In general the small peasants of Western Europe are very greedy for profit, and know very well what their political attitude must be to defend their interests. It is not sufficient to make them declarations of sympathy; they want something practical. They are in favour of protective tariffs, against the industrialisation of the land, for autonomy in the administration. And the parties in which they are organised have promised them that. Will they believe us? Furthermore it is necessary to remember that in the advanced countries the peasants – small and medium proprietors already have their parties, and they are reactionary parties. The small and medium proprietors and the tenant farmers in those countries are in struggle against the agricultural workers, who already want to expropriate them. In Italy this struggle has already been going on for twenty years, and from time to time it has had bloody consequences. Can we go to them and say: ‘We were mistaken?'

Petty proprietorship is an economic form whose existence is justified in certain places, particularly in the mountains. The Communists must not do any harm to the small peasants. During and after the revolution they must find certain inevitable solutions. They must understand and make understood the fact that, after the overthrow of the bourgeois regime, agreement must be possible even with the middle peasants; but before the revolution the Communists have the particular duty of not making concessions to the rural petty bourgeoisie, in order not to harm the interests of the proletarian masses.

For these reasons, and because I am not sufficiently acquainted with the views of my Party on this subject, I shall abstain from voting.

Sokolnikov: Comrade Graziadei tells us that he considers Marxist theory in its application to the agrarian question to be a piece of childishness.

Graziadei: I did not say that. I said that the law of the concentration of capital has not worked out in practice everywhere in the way Marx dealt with it in Capital. I said that it is childishness on the part of some comrades to start from the law of the concentration of capital and to try to reach the conclusion that all petty proprietors would have to disappear in the bourgeois world.

Sokolnikov: The word is not of great importance. Comrade Graziadei says that Marxist theories are erroneous as far as the concentration of capital in the area of agriculture is concerned.

Comrade Graziadei is, if I am not mistaken, an excellent professor of political economy. But in the present case, which touches on Marxist theory, I really think that it is he that is wrong, and that he is following the example of the professors of political economy who have often declared that Marxist theory in general is of no value when it is applied to a specific point. If it really were true that Marxist theory does not work out in practice, in the field of agriculture, then one would have to draw the necessary conclusions, one would then have to admit that the whole of socialist and communist construction would have to collapse, if one admits that Marxist theory cannot stand up in the field of agriculture.

If it is impossible to organise socialist production in agriculture on the basis given by capitalist development, that obviously means the collapse of the socialist regime in industry. Moreover, I believe that Comrade Graziadei has spoken against the application of Marxist theories in agriculture without establishing that the centres of agricultural production have shifted. Central Europe has ceased to be the granary of Europe. Large-scale agricultural production is now sited on the other side of the Atlantic. It is North America, and in recent years South America, which feed European industry and make possible the provisioning of the masses of European workers.

That forces us to talk about the changes that have taken place in Europe and America in the course of the war and of the last few years. I should also like to comment about Comrade Serrati’s remark that the war did not proletarianise, but on the contrary enriched the peasant. He quoted the example of the Italian peasants, who have their woollen sock full of gold. I believe that there is an error here.

Certainly part of the peasants, those who were able to sell their corn, the products of their little holdings, enriched themselves, but in a completely conventional way. I shall return to this point, but I should like to remark straight away that on the contrary a large part of the peasants were ruined by the war. The war tore hundreds of thousands from the mass of the peasants, and that means a terrible blow, a death-blow for all small proprietors. They are condemned to black poverty. Countless peasants want to emigrate or work in factories. There is no doubt that the war delivered a terrible blow to the small proprietors and peasants by ruining them.

If one now considers the mass of those who were able to sell their agricultural products, one can be sure that they put a lot of money by in woollen socks. But I doubt very much whether it is gold. It is banknotes, paper. And that is a form of the expropriation of peasant property by the imperialist war. In reality they became propertyless, and their holdings were expropriated. For their real commodities they received paper, which is only worth a little, and whose devaluation is increasing.

You quoted the example of Switzerland, which did not take part in the war, and is a little country. It is undeniable that in France, Germany and Russia the war was a form of the expropriation of the small peasants. If Comrade Serrati tells us that he does not believe in the true worth of the general change. in our tactics in relation to the small peasants, then I must establish that there is nevertheless a change in our tactics. There is no change in the policy of the Communist Party, but there is a change in the position of the small peasant. You cannot compare the position of a small peasant in Europe at the time of Napoleon’s coup d'état in 1801 with the present position of a small peasant in Europe. A great task has been achieved during the development of capitalism. The small peasant has been proletarianised in quite specific forms, and has fallen into great dependency upon capitalism.

The big banks, the export companies, the capitalist organisations, have in different ways brought the small peasant, the petty proprietor, into a position which is not far removed from that of a proletarian. And on the basis of this change in the position of the small peasant the latter has become the slave and enemy of capitalism. For these reasons the Communist Party turns today to these petty proprietors, these small peasants, with great prospects of success.

The position of the small peasant has been changed by the development of capitalism in the last few years. The war transformed it yet more profoundly. Hence the proletarianisation of the peasants that we are now establishing. The war was the cause of the expropriation of the small peasant. Therefore the Communist Party can today count on the fact that the small peasants, the semi-proletarians, will enter its ranks and , together with the workers in the towns, will fight against capitalism for the social revolution.

Lefebvre: Comrades, I have asked for the floor to speak about some statements by Serrati, who has supplied proof of his irreconcilable position on opportunist considerations and has claimed that the tactics of the communists are based purely and simply on an alliance with the agricultural workers against the small peasants, since, if the communists immediately after the seizure of power tell the peasants: I you will retain your privileges and even gain new ones’, they will not believe us.

It seems to me (please excuse me for the expression) to be careless demagogy only to defend and support a thing in so far as we hope that it is of momentary propaganda value. We did not, however, only come here to prepare momentary propaganda for the purpose of seizing power, but also in order to clarify under what conditions we can organise communist society back home. Moreover, Serrati spoke in the name of Western Europe. He seemed to be saying that the situation in Western Europe was such that the tactics proposed in the Theses were not sufficient for the requirements of propaganda there.

I do not share this view. I believe on the contrary that they meet the situation in France in a satisfactory way (I can only speak of France, as I know France relatively well). On the one hand it seems almost impossible to start anything if we have the whole mass of French peasants against us. On the other hand, without going so far as Sokolnikov, and without sharing his optimism, I believe that nonetheless something can soon be done in France. What I mean by that is that, even if the war did not proletarianise the petty proprietors in France, it nevertheless did have a great effect.

Apparently, the small French peasants were enriched by the war. But in a society that is victim to decay, fortunes disappear as quickly as they have arisen, and we can already say in advance for what reasons and as the result of what process of development petty proprietorship has suffered since the war.

The bourgeoisie in France, for electoral reasons, appeared to support the interests of the small peasants. Now however, since this law was debated about a month and a half ago, the big bourgeoisie has dropped the interests of the small peasants in the corn question in such a way that the position of the small peasants in our country will in a short time be extremely serious.

Sokolnikov is right when he claims that the wealth of the peasants is only paper wealth. We must add that the petty bourgeoisie benefited previously from the war in the sense that they freed themselves from their mortgage debts by means of this paper. The settlement of mortgages has been completed in our country, and the paper is in the land banks. The French peasants know now exactly how much this paper is worth, for they cannot get rid of it.

Our peasants (and I believe it is the same all over the world) despise all those who get into debt. Thus the peasant is led to despise the capitalist state, since the only policies in France are the policies of continual indebtedness. For this reason communist propaganda too is failing on fruitful ground in our country. Where previously it encountered no sympathy it is met nowadays in a completely different way. Policies on the other hand that would lead to making this class into one’s enemy can only bring disaster. Moreover, it would be impossible to organise agricultural production after the conquest of power without the co-operation of the small peasants.

I am not protesting against the standpoint of Comrade Graziadei, who wants to insert an addendum favouring big landowners in the Theses. It goes without saying that those who submit to the soviet government must be involved in common work. But it us not necessary to insert an addendum referring to it in the Theses, since that could easily be interpreted as something they receive by right.

Meyer: Comrades, I can be brief. I am glad that the Italian comrades have taken part in the discussion and have told us something about the agrarian question in Italy. Unfortunately they were not represented in the Commission for factional reasons. I hope that they will make further information available to the Agrarian Commission. I propose to refer Comrade Graziadei’s proposals to the Commission for consideration. I take the same point of view as Comrade Lefebvre that the compensation of the former big landowners does not need to be mentioned. The Agrarian Commission will be glad to adopt the other additions on the co-operatives in some form or another, since the Commission itself has already discussed this question.

Now, as far as the role of the small peasants is concerned, I agree with what Comrade Sokolnikov has said. It is correct that during the war, not only in the belligerent states, but also in the neutral ones, a section of the small peasants not only covered their own needs out of their production, but also converted a surplus into capital. That happened, and is continuing to happen partially even today. Meanwhile, however, the prices for all articles of consumption, particularly for clothing and agricultural equipment, have risen so sharply, and furthermore the burden of taxation has become so much heavier for the less prosperous layers, that the previous advantages have been wiped out for the small peasants too. If that has not shown itself in every country, it will and must emerge to a much sharper degree in the coming period. I am of the same opinion as Comrade Sokolnikov that we must make the small peasants aware now of the sharpening of their own living conditions that must be expected.

There is no breach with the socialist programme in the Theses. Comrade Serrati is against the Theses because he thinks that the Communist International has given up the idea that the big enterprises are to be nationalised. That is by no means correct. It has merely been pointed out that at this time it is practically impossible to socialise small landed property. That is because the rural proletariat in general is not sufficiently prepared for common enterprise and the technical resources are also lacking. That is why we are making the concession that for the time being private property will be retained for the small and middle peasants and a section of the big peasants.

Provision is made for meeting all the preparations to overcome this transitional stage, to influence the small and middle peasants mentally in the sense of co-operative enterprise, and to show them the advantages of collective enterprise. Secondly the technical preparations for the extension of large-scale enterprise must take place, even if that involves concessions to individual layers of the rural population. The proletarian state power must establish itself so firmly that it dominates large-scale industry entirely, so that it is in a position to produce more agricultural machinery. As soon as these technical prerequisites are present it will be possible to weld together the small and middle peasants.

There is therefore no breach with our earlier programme, but we are being shown in detail the ways in which we will attain the socialisation of agriculture. That is the sense of the Theses. In this way I think I have answered the questions that have been raised here in the discussion. I propose the adoption in principle of the Theses and the reference of the proposals Comrade Graziadei has made to the Commission. No further essential changes will then be made.

Zinoviev: We come now to the vote on the Theses. [The Theses are adopted with one abstention. The session is closed at 4 o'clock.]

 

 

Evening Session of August 4



Zinoviev: On behalf of the Bureau I propose to take a vote on the proposals of those comrades who are to edit the final version of all the Theses. [Vote.] We will now move on to the question of the Statutes. Comrade Kabaktchiev has the floor as reporter.

Kabaktchiev: Comrades, before I go over the main considerations that speak in favour of the statutes proposed by the Executive Committee of the Communist International, I shall spend some time on the most important objections that were raised in the Commission.

The downfall of the Second International took place when the bourgeoisie succeeded in destroying the international solidarity of the proletariat. One of the first tasks of the Communist International, therefore, is to restore proletarian solidarity. But it will only be possible to realise this solidarity in the revolutionary action of the proletariat of the various countries. Only the revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of capitalism will make it possible to create the necessary preconditions for the solidarity and unity of the proletariat of the various countries. The necessity for unanimity in the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of every country is also determined by the fact that there is an international association of the counter-revolution. This is today organised and led by the Entente, by the supreme council of the governments of the big capitalist countries and by their creature and agent, the League of Nations. The unification and centralisation of proletarian forces is the main condition for the success of the revolution of the proletariat against the united front of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. The Communist International is the central organ which can realise the unification of the proletarian forces of the whole world.

There is another cause of the downfall of the Second International. The Second International accepted all parties on the basis of their oral or written statements; but it did not at all concern itself with getting to know the real tactics followed by the affiliated parties. It tolerated in its midst parties whose tactics and practice were in obvious contradiction to the tactics of the revolutionary proletariat. Furthermore, it accepted petty bourgeois parties which had nothing in common with socialism. The experience of the Second International teaches us that the Communist International, in order to fulfil its task and achieve its goal, must become a strictly disciplined and rigidly centralised organisation, and that it must supervise, guide and harmonise the revolutionary activity of the proletariat of every country.

The victory of the revolutionary proletariat in Russia has clearly shown us the necessity of the strict centralisation of the organisation of every Communist Party, and consequently of the Communist International itself. The Communist Party of Russia can serve as an example and a pattern for imitation, not only for the clarity of the aims of its policies and its strictly Marxist activity, but also for its iron discipline and its strict organisation. The principle of the centralisation and the discipline of the Communist Party of Russia, which dominated the whole revolutionary activity of the Russian proletariat, was strengthened even further after the conquest of power, was extended even to the Soviet organisations of the Republic, and served to establish the revolutionary victory in an unshakeable manner. The Russian proletariat would never have triumphed without a centralised and disciplined organisation. Without a centralised and disciplined organisation the international proletariat will never break the domination of capitalism.

It is impossible to conceive of the working class overthrowing the domination of the bourgeoisie and defeating the capitalist state, that instrument of class rule with mighty and centralised means of coercion at its disposal, without centralisation. We are all agreed that the victory of the proletarian revolution is impossible without the dictatorship of the proletariat. But he who says dictatorship must presuppose in the class that exercises the dictatorship, and the Party that leads that class, the existence of a centralised and strictly disciplined organisation. Without this iron discipline and this centralised organisation the Communist International cannot count on the opening of the proletarian dictatorship. The task of the Communist International consists in fusing together and unifying the proletarian parties and other revolutionary proletarian organisations in every country into a fighting bloc.

The economic crisis, the consequences of the imperialist war, have created a revolutionary situation in most capitalist countries, which once more assures the rapid growth of the Communist International. The latter has the duty of attracting to itself the mass organisations of the proletariat. The most effective, if not the only means of defending the Communist International from the danger that the purity of its revolutionary tactics are threatened by its rapid growth is once more none other than organising it on the basis of strict centralisation. To adopt the Theses proposed at the Congress provides no guarantee that the parties that have affiliated to the Communist International will also remain true to their principles and their tactics. On the contrary, only the adoption of centralisation in organisation, and voluntary and honest subordination to the statutes of the Communist International, will form the common basis for all those Parties that have already joined the Communist International or will join it in the future.

The Statutes proposed establish the foundations of the organisation of the Communist International. But the organisation of the Communist International will unfold, particularly in the future, according to the measure of the extension of the revolutionary movement of the international proletariat.

One of the main objections in principle to the draft Statutes is directed against the paragraph following the introduction which says:

‘The Communist International sets itself the aim of fighting with all means, also with arms in hand, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international soviet republic as a transition to the complete abolition of the state.'

The objections that comrades have made about the question under discussion are:

1. One should not openly declare and admit that the Communist International should use armed force to achieve its aims.

2. On the other hand the Statutes should not speak only about armed struggle. One could conclude from that that other means of struggle are abandoned and that the Communist International knows no other means of struggle than the rifle and the machine gun.

The first objection requires no detailed criticism. Seventy years have already passed since the founders of modern socialism, Marx and Engels, closed the famous Communist Manifesto with the following declaration:

‘The Communists scorn to hide their views and intentions. They openly declare that their aims can only be achieved by the forcible overthrow of all previous social orders.'

Today we have before our eyes the example of the Russian proletarian revolution (a revolution which conquered by force of arms); the great victorious Red Army strikes deadly blows at the imperialism of the Entente and clears the way for the world proletarian revolution. Today we claim that we are going through a revolutionary epoch, the bourgeoisie openly organises White Guards against us and civil war is raging in a series of countries. Is it possible after all that to propose to remain silent, to silence the Communist International about the necessity of applying the mightiest and most effective means of struggle, the means of struggle on which above all the real ultimate success of the proletarian revolution depends? No, comrades! In its Theses, the Communist International must point out the necessity of the application of the armed struggle with all clarity. Hypocrisy about the use of this means will not save us from persecution by the ruling bourgeoisie, and it must be said loud and clear that the bourgeoisie knows our true revolutionary aims and our means of struggle very well, and for the very good reason that it knows exactly what this is all about and organises a White Guard to coerce the other institutions into its service. The Communist International must state openly in front of the entire world that the marching orders of the revolution can only be: ‘Determined struggle, struggle with arms in hand against capitalism and for communism.'

We can answer in the same way the comrades in the Commission who thought it dangerous to speak out about the necessity of forming illegal organisations besides the legal ones. (Cf. paragraph 12 of the Statutes.) If the bourgeoisie in certain countries find it to be in their interests to outlaw the Communist Party, then they will do it; if they want to do it, they will do it, as they already have in several countries.

Is it therefore sensible for the Communist Party to hide its aims and not to spread the idea of the necessity of the armed struggle? Not at all. To remain silent about the necessity of forming illegal organisations too under such circumstances is excessive caution, and gives rise to confusion. And what is more, comrades, we say that this diplomatic caution is dangerous, for today the illegal organisation is as important as the legal one. And it is not only important, but also indispensable, necessary. It is a crying necessity. For as you know the Congress has already adopted the Theses that decide the question and make the formation of illegal organisations obligatory. Comrades who have already voted for these Theses, the Congress that has already adopted them, contradict themselves if they reject the paragraph in question in the Statutes. We will not parry the blows of the bourgeoisie by dropping the article in the Statutes on illegal organisations, but by learning, by getting used to the formation of illegal organisations, which frustrate the inquiries and vigilance of the bourgeois organs. That is what we need; that is revolutionary experience and revolutionary law.

The question concerning the composition of the Executive aroused very sharp discussion in the Commission itself. I shall relate the most important objections that were made. Some comrades thought, as a result of the present weakness of their country’s Communist Party, that it was impossible to release a member to send him permanently to the Executive Committee. Others said that the Communist Parties of the various countries could not keep up a regular correspondence with their delegates to the Executive Committee, and that as a result these delegates will not be well informed about the position of their country and the state of the revolutionary movement.

This consideration does not seem to me to hold water in comparison with the role that the Communist International and its Executive Committee plays and must play. If it is true that we live in a revolutionary epoch in which the Communist International every day has important and immediate tasks to fulfil, in which questions of world importance continually arise, and will arise, which absolutely require an answer, if it is true that the Communist International must be a mighty centralised fighting organisation, then it must be led by a centre where it is represented and where the biggest Communist Parties must be represented. The tasks of the Communist International are so important that every Communist Party must select from its ranks a comrade of merit who is up to the size of the task, in order to be represented on the Executive Committee and in this way to maintain close contact with the Communist International. The Executive Committee will not be able to base itself in making its decisions on the actual international situation if it does not have in it representatives of the largest Communist Parties of the various countries. On the contrary, it is to be feared that the Communist Parties that do not have a representative on the Executive Committee will refuse to recognise the decisions of the Executive Committee as binding, in certain cases, with the excuse that the Executive Committee does not know the true situation in their countries and is taking decisions without prior discussion with them.

Some comrades have demanded that the Executive Committee should be composed of the representatives of all the parties belonging to the Communist International, and that all representatives, moreover, should have a full vote. The comrades expressed the fear if that should not be the case, the smaller countries and parties will be without representatives on the Executive Committee. I represent a small country, but the Communist Party is rigidly organised there and even unites workers and peasants. I am convinced that, in determining the members of the Executive Committee, the Congress will take into account not the territorial size of the countries but much rather the real strength of the Communist Parties.

If the right of every Party that belongs to the Communist International to have representatives with a full vote on the Executive Committee is recognised, then it will become a top-heavy apparatus, exposed to the danger of being dominated by the small and weak Parties and never having a distinctly delineated composition. The strength of the Executive Committee must be finally be determined by the Congress, which should however rather name the Parties and not the individuals who are to be represented on the Executive Committee. The Statutes give every Party the right to be represented with an advisory vote on the Executive Committee. That is enough.

The question was raised in the Commission whether the Executive Committee should be given the right to expel from the Communist International individuals, groups or even Parties that do not carry out the decisions of the World Congress. (Paragraph 9 of the Statutes.) But this right is merely the necessary material sanction for all the other rights that we will grant to the Executive Committee in the Statutes. How can the decisions of the Executive Committee have the necessary authority and obligatory force if it does not have the right of expulsion? Not to give this right to the Executive Committee would be to return to the old practice of the Second International.

Finally the Statutes give the Executive Committee the right to draw in organisations and Parties that sympathise with communism by giving their representatives an advisory vote. The question was also raised whether the Executive Committee has the right to accept two

Parties from the same country with a full vote. The Commission did not take a decision on this question; it has remained open in the Statutes. I believe that there can only be one Communist Party from each country in the Communist International. That is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the uniformity of the communist movement in each country. If the Communist International begins to follow the example of the Second International, that is to say it admits into its ranks two or more Parties from the same country, then this will hold up the development of the communist movement in those countries in which competing communist organisations exist that are created by unprincipled elements and are maintained often under the influence of the bourgeoisie itself.

The experiences that the Executive Committee has made with the auxiliary bureaux in Amsterdam and Berlin show us the necessity that all organs and bureaux created by the Executive Committee should be subordinated directly to it, and should only act within the guidelines laid down by it. Only in this way will we create a disciplined and centralised international communist organisation.

Bamatter: The Commission on the Statutes has entrusted the Editorial Commission with the wording of the editorial changes and amendments in the Statutes. That was no easy task for us, for all we had as a basis were the three drafts that had been translated from the Russian – none of which however was a correct translation. We cannot therefore submit a cleaned-up version of the Statutes, but I shall only read out the amendments and the principal stylistic changes that the Editorial Commission has undertaken. The Statutes must go back once more to the Commission. In the German version a sentence is missing in the second paragraph on page one which must be added to the quotation.

In the French Statutes this sentence is present. Then a few small stylistic changes were undertaken about which there was a big argument in the Commission. It is a question of the lines that say: ‘It is the aim of the Communist International’, etc. That has been changed to read as follows: ‘It is the aim of the Communist International to fight by all available means, including armed struggle’, etc.

A further amendment was also undertaken in the last sentence of the first paragraph of page 3, which now reads: ‘The Communist International undertakes to support every Soviet republic wherever it may be formed.’ Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 were adopted unanimously without alteration. The following alteration has been made in the second sentence of paragraph 4: instead of ‘The World Congress will as a rule...’, it now reads: ‘The World Congress meets regularly once a year.’ The third sentence in paragraph 4 has been deleted, as has the last sentence. Paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 were adopted without any essential changes. Some stylistic changes were made in paragraph 8. For example the first sentence used to read: ‘The main work and responsibility’, etc. It now reads: ‘The chief work of the Executive Committee falls on the Party’. . . etc. And then, further on, the penultimate sentence of paragraph 8, instead of ‘the ten biggest Parties’, now reads: ‘the ten to thirteen most important Communist Parties’.

The following amendment was added at the end of the ninth paragraph: ‘The representatives of the Executive Committee shall carry out their political tasks in the closest contact with the Party centre of the country concerned’. The last sentence of paragraph 10 now reads: ‘which, while not belonging to the Communist International, sympathise with it and stand near to it’. Paragraph 11 has been adopted unchanged. In paragraph 12 the following has been added to the end of the sentence: ‘The general situation all over Europe and America compels communists throughout the world to create illegal communist organisations side by side with the legal organisation’. The first sentence of paragraph 13 now reads, instead of: ‘As a rule all important political communications’, etc.: ‘As a rule political communication between the individual Parties affiliated to the Communist International is carried out through the Executive Committee of the Communist International’.

In paragraph 14 the first sentence now reads: ‘under the guidance of the Communist International’, instead of: ‘under the control’ etc. The second sentence now reads: ‘these trade union delegates’ . . . instead of: ‘the communist trade union delegate . . .’ In paragraph 15, the following has been changed: ‘As a member of the Communist International is, like any other, subordinated to it and its Executive Committee’. . . . The last sentence of paragraph 15 has been crossed out. Paragraphs 16 and 17 were adopted without alteration. It will not be possible to submit a cleaned-up version of the Statutes until later.

Bilan: Our organisational Statutes are one of the most important questions upon which we have to decide. The discipline in the Communist Party of Russia has contributed to the fact that the Party was able to play such an important role. For that reason we must check over the Statutes in detail and, if we accept them, we must be prepared to carry them out in full measure and not regard the Statutes simply as a piece of paper. In some paragraphs these Statutes read differently in different languages, and for that reason it was impossible for the members of the Commission to reach agreement on some questions.

In relation to the question of the armed struggle the previous speaker said it was necessary to change the wording. In his opinion the concept of the aim was confused with that of the means in the wording of that paragraph. These concepts must not be confused. We do not wish to present the armed struggle as the aim of the revolutionary movement, but as a means forced upon us. We must also clarify under what conditions such an armed struggle becomes a necessity. Otherwise, if we call for it in general, we could find what has already often happened, that is to is to say that people with anarchist tendencies go around conspicuously waving hand grenades, which is then interpreted as armed struggle in the sense of the Communist International. If we pose each and every armed struggle as a general rule without taking into account the conditions in each individual country, that is to say without regard for whether conditions are mature enough, and whether such an armed struggle is really necessary and practical, then it can happen’ that in some countries where the possibility of this struggle does not exist, the call for the armed struggle could act as a kind of provocation.

I refer to the example of the KAPD, where the concept of the armed struggle is not grasped in a mature, serious sense, and where it only leads to damaging results. In the Commission I proposed amendments to some of the paragraphs of the draft Statutes, but they were not adopted by the Commission. I will now submit them to the full session. I propose that the following sentences should be added :’the aim of the Communist International is the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie for the purpose of liberating mankind from the fetters of slavery and exploitation. It is determined to use the armed struggle against the international bourgeoisie as the chief means of achieving this goal.'

Paragraph 12 of the Statutes read: ‘The general situation’ ... etc. There are countries where the possibility of legal agitation and work in the interests of communist ideas still exists. If we retain the paragraph with its present wording we thus give the governments the chance to point out that the Parties in the countries in question belong to the

Communist International, which is calling for illegal organisations. That could be an excuse for the governments to persecute the comrades there too sharply, whereas otherwise they probably would still have had the chance to fight legally. Therefore I propose to undertake a small amendment in this sentence, that is to say to delete from this paragraph those words whose sense is that it is obligatory for Parties belonging to the Communist International to create illegal organisations.

Wijnkoop: I did not vote on this point in the Commission, and I am of the opinion that it cannot be done, and that the question must first of all be handed over for discussion to the Parties in the various countries. I think that Statutes are something very important, and that the people in the various countries must know exactly what has been agreed upon in this matter. This can only happen if a discussion on it takes place in the Parties in the individual countries. The discussion that we have had tonight and the discussion in the Commission is not enough. I have therefore not voted and shall also abstain in the full session.

I say that Statutes are something very important because I am of the opinion that they must also be carried out and become a reality. In this case the Statutes must contain what the various Parties in the different countries, after a thorough discussion, declare to be their will. The main point for me is paragraph 8, and there it says: ‘The chief work of the Executive Committee falls upon the Party of that country where, by the decision of the World Congress, the Executive Committee has its seat’ , etc. I say that it seems as if an international Executive Committee were being formed, but in reality that is not the case. An extended Russian Executive is being formed here.

Now do not misunderstand me. I have no objection to a Russian Executive Committee if that is necessary, and perhaps it is necessary. If we really cannot have an international Executive Committee, then we must have a Russian one, because the Russian Party is the most revolutionary and the strongest. I have nothing against it, but then one should also say so. One should not pretend that we are to have an international Executive Committee. One should say that at this time we cannot have any