THESES OF THE FIFTH COMINTERN CONGRESS
ON THE PROPAGANDA ACTIVITIES
OF THE CI AND ITS SECTIONS
July 1924 Inprekorr, iv, 119, p. 1572, 16 September 1924
THE AIMS AND OBJECTS OF COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA
Struggles within the CI are at the same time ideological crises within the individual parties. Right and left political deviations, deviations from Marxism-Leninism, are connected with the class ideology of the proletariat.
Manifestations of crisis at the second world congress and after were precipitated by 'left infantile sicknesses', which were ideologically a deviation from Marxism-Leninism towards syndicalism. . . .
The present internal struggles in some communist parties, the beginning of which coincided in time with the October defeat in Germany, are ideological repercussions of the survivals of traditional social-democratic ideas in the communist parties. The way to overcome them is by the bolshevization of the communist parties. Bolshevization in this context means the final ideological victory of Marxism-Leninism (or in other words Marxism in the period of imperialism and the epoch of the proletarian revolution) over the 'Marxism' of the Second International and the syndicalist remnants.
The bolshevization of communist parties . . .
does not mean the mechanical adoption of measures taken by the RCP, but the concrete application of bolshevik methods to the concrete conditions of each country in the given historical epoch.
Only if the communist parties acquire theoretical understanding of revolutionary practice can they become real leaders of the masses, conscious of their aims . . .
reduce the possibility of mistakes to a minimum, and accomplish the emancipation of the working class. 'Without revolutionary theory no revolutionary movement is possible .
.. the role of vanguard can be filled only by a party which is guided by a vanguard theory' (Lenin). It is therefore one of the primary tasks of the CI and its sections to make Marxism-Leninism the common property of all members. . . .
For this purpose cadres must be created who are in full possession of these theoretical weapons, and who can in turn equip the broadest circles of the party membership with them. . . .
Before propaganda work can be built up every communist party must recognize the importance of theoretical mastery of Marxism-Leninism. They must all realize that revolutionary activity by no means implies indifference to the theoretical problems of the emancipation of the working class and to the requirements of a theoretical struggle. On the contrary: practical successes in the revolutionary struggle can be won only by clear theoretical understanding, widespread theoretical clarity within the communist parties.
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Theoretical work in the spirit of Marx, Engels, and Lenin is practically at a standstill in almost all sections of the CI. That is the more dangerous since theoretical work makes the analysis of concrete conditions possible. The discovery of the concrete forces which make for revolution, of the conditions and prospects of revolutionary change, makes it possible to determine more precisely party policy, organization, and agitation. Theoretical work of this kind gives the political work of the parties greater certainty.
It is only the indifference of some of the leading comrades to theoretical questions that explains the emergence within the Communist International of 'theories' which are completely incompatible with Marxism-Leninism. The first consequence of these 'theories' is confusion among the leading cadres or party masses
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but then they enter the field of policy and tactics in the form of 'left' or right deviations.
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Even the propagandist training of the party masses leaves much to be desired.
That is a natural result of the failure of leading party circles to grasp the necessity of this propaganda work. The overwhelming majority of the party masses came to the party because they became convinced of the treacherous character of opportunism and reformism, and of the purely proletarian class character of the communist parties; they reached this conclusion almost entirely by empirical means, in the midst of the daily economic and political struggle. This is an immense advantage to the parties and to the CI in comparison with the Second International, but it also means that the party proletarian masses may themselves be burdened with survivals of social-democratic ideology. This social-democratic heritage cannot be eliminated in a mechanical way; it must be tackled by systematic propaganda of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, by implanting in them at least its basic principles and methods. .
In the person of Lenin . . .
the CI and all communist parties had a sure guide in the domain of theory and political practice. Only Leninism, which Lenin and his collaborators, the old bolshevik guard, created as the theory of the proletarian revolution, can replace him. Lenin's death must give as great an impulse to the propaganda of the theory of Marxism-Leninism in all sections of the CI, as it has done in the RCP. Because of the ideological state of the parties, and particularly because of the shortage of capable leading cadres, this task falls to the CI. . ..
GENERAL ORGANIZATIONAL MEASURES CONCERNING PROPAGANDA
What is most characteristic of the present state of propaganda is the fact that until now neither the CI nor the individual parties have set up any special organs for propaganda work, or have only quite inadequate ones. . . .
A further serious obstacle to the propaganda of Marxism-Leninism is the inadequate distribution of Marxist-Leninist literature, both the original sources and popular studies and readers which would facilitate the conduct and popularization of propaganda work. In many western countries the classical works of Marxist literature rank as bibliographical rarities. As for new works, they appear very seldom. . . .
Another serious obstacle is the inadequate contact among Marxist theoreticians. Among the Marxists" in the various CI sections who are active or interested in matters of theory, there are no contacts which would enable them to organize a division of labour, an exchange of experience, and hence to do more fruitful work.
The immediate concrete tasks of the CI in regard to the central direction and promotion of propaganda activity are:
(a) To organize and expand the agitation and propaganda department, to staff it with trained Marxist-Leninists well versed in organizing propaganda work.
Systematic survey of the propaganda work of the sections, evaluation and exchange of experiences, helping the parties to work out concrete methods and forms of party training.
(b) To reorganize and expand the publishing work of the CI, with the object of supplying the parties with theoretical and propagandist literature. . . .
(c) Publication of a propagandist journal for the instruction of party officials, particularly propagandists. The aim of the journal will be to facilitate the exchange of experiences, work out questions of the training programme, guide and systematize party training. . . .
The journal is to be published in German, French, and English.
(d) In order to be able to meet the requirements of at least the most important parties for theoretically trained workers, the CI will summon to Moscow for a prolonged period a number of party workers from the German, English, American, Czech, Italian, French, and Eastern sections, and if possible others, who will devote themselves exclusively to the study of Marxist-Leninist theory and practice. . . .
(e) To convene and arrange a conference of those in charge of propaganda work in the most important sections, and of heads of party schools, to work out the most important concrete tasks of party education. . . .
(f) To give effective support to the Youth International in the education of young communists.
ORGANIZATIONAL TASKS OF THE SECTIONS IN PROPAGANDA WORK
Wherever possible, but at least in all the most developed mass communist parties, agitation and propaganda activities are to be treated as a special branch of the party apparatus.
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The obligation of all party members, and particularly of elected officials, to study must be raised to the level of a party decision. . . .
All party members must be asked to acquire a minimum of political and theoretical knowledge, at least enough to enable them to answer questions by non-communist workers about the programme, objects, and tactical principles of the communist party, and to rebut the most obvious forms of petty-bourgeois and social-democratic prejudice of the workers in their factories.
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THE SYSTEM OF MARXIST PROPAGANDA
Varying propaganda systems and methods must be used according to the varied conditions and stages of development of the sections. The following instructions may be regarded as applying to all countries and parties:
(a) The system of party training must cover all party members in one form or another. An effort must be made to see that every member acquires at least an
elementary knowledge of Marxism-Leninism.
(b) Every part of the system of communist training and propaganda must be directed to practical and definite ends and wherever possible cover homogeneous groups.
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(c) Every part of the system must be a self-contained whole and cover clearly defined independent work. It should not be considered merely as preparation for a higher stage of training.
To cover as high a proportion of the party membership as possible, despite the shortage of intellectual and material resources, the system of propaganda institutions must be organized on two lines: party schools and self-education.
Every party must try to set up
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(a) a central party school;
(b) elementary party courses (evening classes, lecture series, one-day Sunday schools, etc.).
The central party school will serve advanced party workers who have already mastered the principles of Marxism-Leninism.
It will systematize, extend, and deepen their knowledge, and so train new cadres of propagandists.
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The object of the elementary courses is to provide a foundation of elementary political knowledge
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to train the party membership for active party work and for individual propaganda among the working masses.
Between these two extremes various other forms of party training may be organized according to the special circumstances of the country and the party.
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Communist parties should not neglect those schools which, under the cloak of impartiality, are concerned with workers' education (workers' universities, labour colleges, trade union schools, etc.). The parties must try to combat the dangers to a proletarian class ideology in these schools, get as much influence in them as possible, and get them under their control in order to make them of use for communist training.
Since resources are inadequate for a comprehensive system of schools
and the school system by itself cannot lead to the complete and thorough acquisition of Marxist-Leninist theory, the interest of party members in self-education must be aroused and self-education organized on the widest possible scale. . . .
The Executive of the CI must see that within the next year a model school and a few model evening classes are set up at least for all the important parties.
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The parties must direct their attention to the further training of communist students and other communist intellectuals. Communist students must not be isolated and cut off from the party. Existing communist student fractions or cells are usually closed and unsystematic self-education study circles, usually of little use to the workers' movement; they must be turned into useful propaganda instruments by giving them the guidance of well trained members with experience in the practical workers' movement. The members of these student groups, without exception, must also take part in practical party work.
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THE SYLLABUS AND METHODS OF PROPAGANDA
The direct political object of the propaganda of Marxism-Leninism: To promote the bolshevization of the party, training everywhere must be connected with the current political problems, the tactical and organizational tasks of the CI and the various communist parties. The syllabus and methods of propaganda work must adhere to this principle.
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Any mechanical separation which suggests that Marxism is the theory and Leninism the practice of the revolutionary workers' movement should be avoided.
Both Marxism and Leninism contain the theory and the practice of the working-class struggle for emancipation; they signify the unity of revolutionary theory and practice, in contrast to the Marxism of the epigones, the Marxism of the Second International, which even in its so-called orthodox form separated theory and practice, and rejected revolutionary action even when it was recognized in theory.
'Leninism is Marxism in the epoch of imperialism and the proletarian revolution.
More precisely: Leninism is the theory and tactics of proletarian revolution in general, and of the proletarian dictatorship in particular' (Stalin). . . .
At the higher stages of communist training Marxist-Leninist economic theory and theory of the State must be included in the syllabus.
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Comprehensive and thorough-going propaganda of the theoretical and tactical problems of armed insurrection and civil war is very important. So are the Leninist principles concerning the national and colonial question in the countries where this subject is relevant.
At no stage of communist party training should the philosophic aspects of Marxism-Leninism be ignored. Marx and Engels and Lenin were all militant materialists. . . .
THE ORGANIZATION OF MARXIST RESEARCH AND WRITING
Leninism implies not merely the renaissance of revolutionary Marxism, but also an extension of its theoretical and practical content.
We have international centres for theoretical work in the sense of scientific research in the field of Marxism-Leninism in the Marx-Engels Institute, the Lenin Institute, and the Communist Academy. It is the task of the CI to make the results of research at these scientific institutes the common property of the international communist movement.