THESES OF THE SEVENTH ECCI PLENUM ON THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION AND THE TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
13 December 1926
Puti Mirovoi Revoliutsii, ii, p. 390
CAPITALIST WORLD ECONOMY
The recent course of international relations confirms the appraisal given by the last enlarged plenum of the ECCI. Notwithstanding certain statements by opposition leaders (Zinoviev, Trotsky, and others) capitalist stabilization is an indisputable fact (the growth of world production, of international trade, currency stabilization, etc.).
Equally indisputable, however, is the partial and unstable character of this stabilization, as shown in the feverish fluctuations of the market, in the extreme unevenness of development, in the enormous contradiction between the capacity of the productive apparatus and the actual volume of output, in the magnitude of chronic unemployment. Among the most important factors disturbing the process of capitalist stabilization are the growth of socialism in the USSR, the decline of English capitalism, the unprecedented acute-ness of the class struggle in England, and the great national revolution in China.
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Despite this relative stabilization, capitalism is going through a special crisis, which is far from being the 'normal' crisis of capitalist overproduction.
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The present crisis of over-production, which results from the expansion of productive capacity and the fall in mass purchasing power, is to a large extent the continuation
of the post-war hunger crisis, for the present failure of demand is connected with the impoverishment of the masses and the exhaustion of internal markets as a result of the world war.
This state of affairs pushes the problem of markets into the foreground.
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The development and sharpening of imperialist conflicts is the inevitable consequence of the entire system of relations as formed. Thus the present phase may be defined as
between revolutions, as a stage leading from one surge forward of the revolutionary wave to another, to which the course of historical development must lead, and for the approach of which—perhaps fairly soon—the communist parties should be prepared.
THE REGROUPING OF THE POWERS AND THE BASIC LINES OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS
The characteristic feature of the present situation is the shift in the centres of economic power, and consequently the centres of political and military power also, to non-European countries, in the first place to the United States of America.
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Anglo-American rivalry to a large degree determines the regrouping of the imperialist Powers. England's attempt to reconquer, with the help of the Locarno pact, its position on the continent was frustrated by America. That cleared the way for Franco-German attempts at rapprochement, although America was an obstacle to the realization of close relations.
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Other important facts are the development of France into an industrial country and the economic renaissance of Germany, side by side with the economic decline of England and the advance of Italy. What we have witnessed, against this background, is the collapse of the treaty of Versailles, a radical regrouping of the Powers, the dissolution of the great Entente and the disintegration of the League of Nations as an instrument of 'Allied' policy.
The stages of this process of liquidation were as follows:
(a) Versailles and later the occupation of the Ruhr. America stands aside. In Europe—hegemony of France. Politically, Germany is prostrate.
(b) France cannot digest the occupation and suffers defeat. American and English intervention. Dawes plan. Germany begins to rise.
(c) Locarno. Hegemony of England, exploiting the French failure.
Political wooing of, and corresponding concessions to, Germany in exchange for its cooling off to the USSR. Promise to admit Germany to the League of Nations and beginning of Germany's 'westward orientation'. American capital flows into the German economy. (d) Geneva. America gently squeezes out England. Germany enters the League and receives a place on the League Council. Change in Franco- German relations.
(e) Thoiry. Regrouping takes place in the League of Nations. By its 'peaceful' policy towards Germany France attracts to its side a number of small countries and gets a majority in both the Assembly and the Council of the League. Radical regrouping of forces. At Thoiry—agreement and a number of important concessions on the part of France as the price for the purchase of the Saar and the mobilization of German railway bonds. America frustrates this agreement but the understanding remains. Collapse
of Versailles combinations accelerated. Partly to counterbalance the German-French bloc, an Anglo-Italian bloc is formed. Italy tries to round off the anti-Soviet front by taking part in it. Italian differences with France grow more acute (Mediterranean, North Africa, Balkans, Asia Minor). Together with the regrouping of the Great Powers the Little Entente begins to disintegrate. Poland, having exchanged the French orientation for the English, again begins to incline towards France; French influence in the Balkans supplants English and Italian imperialism; conflicts between the Balkan States accumulate, and from this side too the danger of a new war is maturing.
The general tendency is the anti-Soviet tendency, making its way, under England's guidance, through all imperialist contradictions. Germany's westward orientation, the latest trends in Italian policy, Poland, the treaty system in the border States and Rumania, the Italo-Rumanian and Franco-Rumanian treaties, great English activity in the Baltic, the Balkans, Persia, Afghanistan, etc.—all this is an expression of the said general tendency. Nor is there any doubt at all of a tendency to occupy China [In the German version, encircle China.],with the object of directing its development along a nationalcapitalist road under the hegemony of foreign capital if the attempt altogether to suppress the national revolution fails.
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REGROUPING OF CLASS FORCES AND THE BASIC LINES OF INTERNAL POLICY
If attempts at stabilization by the bourgeoisie take the form, externally, of a struggle for foreign markets, internally these attempts mean, from the class point of view, intensified pressure on the working class and the broad working masses generally, a decrease in their share of the total national income, a heightened degree of exploitation. . . .
In Germany the starting-point of stabilization, of the strengthening of the economy and the State apparatus, was the defeat of the proletariat in the autumn of 1923, a defeat preceded by a number of other serious battles.
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The resistance of the working class is here expressed in the movement to the left among broad masses; although it has not yet taken the form of active defensive struggle, the first beginnings of the rise of proletarian class struggle in Germany are already apparent.
In England the attack on the working class evoked tremendous resistance, expressed in the general strike and the heroic strike of the English miners. From this point of view the miners' strike is of immense importance in principle. England's crumbling position on the world market and the probability of its further decline, together with the collapse of the English world empire, give the struggle as a whole a more acute character, and so England has become the European country closest to a revolutionary situation. The polarization of class forces is proceeding rapidly.
The prospects of stabilization here too are becoming more and more questionable.
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On the basis of this attack and of the relative strengthening of the bourgeois State apparatus the social-democrats are being squeezed out of the governments, having played their part in saving the bourgeois regime at the most critical moment.
Thus in various forms is manifested one and the same regular tendency, arising from the post-war economics of capitalism. The socio-class limits to capitalist stabilization are set by the resistance of the working class, its ability to mobilize its forces and to withstand the attacks of capital.
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SOME CURRENT THEORETICAL QUESTIONS
One current theoretical question, in connexion with capitalist stabilization, is the question of super-imperialism. The impossibility, economically, of superimperialism is shown by the unevenness of development and the intense contradictions of interest between the major imperialist States (this factor is underestimated by comrade Trotsky). Politically, it is expressed in the extreme instability of political agreements between States and blocs of States, as well as in the decline of the League of Nations, reflecting Anglo-French contradictions. The growth of militarism everywhere also refutes the theory of super-imperialism, whose purpose is:
(1) to blunt the vigilance of the proletariat;
(2) among German imperialists to preach the necessity of 'common' colonial possessions, that is, the return of the German colonies;
(3) for propaganda against the USSR, which does not wish to enter the League of Nations; (4) for propaganda against colonial revolutions, disturbing the 'super-imperialist' peace.
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The Communist International considered and considers the USSR the most important fortress of the world revolution. The attempts of the social-democrats and their followers among the renegades from communism (and equally the insignificant groups of the right and 'left' opposition within the Comintern, encouraged by the speeches of the opposi-tion in the CPSU) to represent the tempestuous economic development of the USSR as a process of 'kulak' degeneration, the CI rejects vigorously. Objectively such attempts only serve the class enemies of the proletariat. The enlarged plenum of the ECCI thinks that there is no place in the ranks of the Communist International for people who regard the USSR as a land of capitalism and deny that it is a proletarian dictatorship.
The national liberation struggle in China confronts the Communist International with a question regarding the main perspective on which its Chinese section should, with the support of all other sections, be oriented. This is the road of the independent development of China, in alliance with the proletariat of the USSR and the entire world ... in opposition to its capitalist development, which in the circumstances would infallibly occur under the tutelage of foreign capital. If the main task of the present moment is the united front of all national-revolutionary forces, including the anti-imperialist strata of the bourgeoisie, on the other hand it is already necessary to raise the question of satisfying the basic needs of the peasantry, of drawing them into alliance with the proletariat of China and preparing the Chinese proletariat for the role of leader of the Chinese revolution.
In capitalist countries the main question today is the attitude to capitalist rationalization. In contrast to the social-democrats, who regard it as their task to support and strengthen the capitalist regime, and who therefore favour capitalist rationalization, communists cannot and must not help capital to improve its economy.
It is their task to fight
(1) against capitalist stabilization;
(2) against any worsening in the position of the working class as a result of capitalist pseudorationalization;
(3) for a higher standard of living for the working class;
(4) for the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist organization of economy;
(5) not for capitalist, but for socialist rationalization.
At the same time the communist party must fight against 'industrial democracy' based on class collaboration, and, by means of irreconcilable class struggle against the employers, to win an extension of the rights of factory committees up to workers' control of production and distribution. This militant task of class struggle is the communist party's answer to capitalist rationalization.
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THE MAIN CURRENT TASKS OF THE COMINTERN
At the present moment one of the basic international tasks of the Comintern is to support the most important centres of the international revolutionary movement, that is, the USSR, the English workers, and the Chinese revolution. . . .
The enlarged plenum observes that almost all parties of the CI have failed to show enough energy in support of the English strikers and the Chinese revolution. What is
necessary is a vigorous fight against the interventionist plans of imperialism, against English attempts at armed intervention in China, against the continued existence of
unequal treaties, against anti-Soviet military treaties and secret agreements, etc.
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The fight against the danger of war should also be emphasized, 'pacifist', 'pan-European', and other social-democratic and bourgeois utopias must be pitilessly exposed.
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The social power of the bourgeoisie increases with the trustification of industry, and so does the need for stronger and stronger resistance and vigorous defensive action by the proletariat. Therefore a united working-class front is now more essential than ever before. On the agenda too is the struggle against the plans of the bourgeoisie to split the workers' movement, relying on the stratum of privileged workers to exert pressure on the rest of the masses and, intensifying the difference between the workers and the unemployed, by using unemployment as a threat to keep the employed section of the proletariat in a state of subjection and depression.
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It is essential to learn how to consolidate our achievements organizationally.
The enlarged plenum observes that one of the most serious shortcomings common to practically all communist parties is the inability to exploit the positive results of campaigns organizationally. In a number of cases this leads to an insufficient growth of the party, even to stagnant membership, which is quite out of keeping with the
growth of its political influence.
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Also on the agenda is the struggle against social-democracy. Social-democracy is finally and everywhere standing, despite its posture of 'opposition', on the side of the
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Fighting to liberate the masses from the disintegrating influence of the Second International and Amsterdam, the communist parties demand: as against a policy of coalition, the most vigorous class struggle and the overthrow of capitalist governments; as against lying talk of a new and peaceful phase of capitalism, exposure of the terrible danger of war and preparation of the masses to turn such a war into a civil war; as against Pan-Europa, the Socialist United States of Europe; as against the League of Nations, a Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.
COMMUNIST PARTIES AND TRADE UNIONS
Industrial strikes and the economic struggle in general having a tendency, in conditions of trustification, to develop into political struggles, special importance attaches to communist work in the trade unions.
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Communists must not only advocate the entry of all employed workers into the unions, but also fight vigorously for retention of the unemployed in the unions and admission to the unions of organizations of unemployed proletarians, and for union support for the organizations, movement, and demands of the unemployed.
The ECCI considers correct the concrete application of united front tactics practised by the Soviet communist trade unionists on the question of the Anglo-Russian committee. The combination of the greatest possible contact with the masses through the Anglo-Russian committee with shattering condemnation of the treachery and capitulation of the right and socalled left leaders . . . can serve as an example of the correct and revolutionary application of united front tactics. The attempts made by the General Council, which helped the bourgeoisie to strangle the miners' strike, to liquidate the Anglo-Russian committee and its clearly hostile attitude to the Soviet trade unions (refusal to send a delegation to the All-Union trade union congress in Moscow, etc.) place the responsibility for what happens squarely on the shoulders of the leaders of the General Council and will help still further to expose them in the eyes of the English proletarian masses.
The struggle for international trade union unity, in which the leader was and is the Soviet unions, should gradually be internationalized, and communists everywhere must develop the work of the RILU and help to increase its influence and authority.
THE MAIN RESULTS OF THE WORK OF INDIVIDUAL
COMMUNIST PARTIES, THEIR MISTAKES AND TASKS
The enlarged plenum observes that in the past year the most important section of the Communist International—the CPSU—has achieved great successes in socialist construction, strengthening the proletarian dictatorship in the USSR, strengthening the international position of the Union, giving fraternal help to the English miners and the Chinese people, and has closed its ranks by defeating the efforts of the opposition to provoke a severe internal crisis.
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The English Communist Party achieved a series of brilliant successes.
It greatly increased its membership, and still more its influence among the masses. It worked and is working energetically in the trade unions, and is on the road to becoming a mass revolutionary party cf the proletariat. At the same time the ECCI observes that it made a number of mistakes (inadequate criticism of the 'left', incorrect formulation of the question of criticizing the General Council at the executive committee of the Minority Movement by some leading comrades, later corrected by the CC of the CPGB, incorrect appraisal of the tactics of the Soviet trade unions). The ECCI is convinced that these mistakes, in part recognized by the party and already corrected, will be fully and completely overcome.
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The Chinese Communist Party has grown in a short time into a first-class political factor in the country. While noting its successes and recognizing the general correctness of its position, the enlarged plenum points out a number of mistakes, the chief of which derive from an underestimation of the present movement, a failure to appreciate fully the necessity of the gradual introduction of agrarian reforms in those areas ruled by the Kuomintang, of satisfying other peasant demands, etc.
The chief object of the Chinese Communist Party at the present moment is to rally all forces against the foreign imperialists and 'their' militarists. The subsequent tasks
cannot be accomplished until this stage of the revolutionary struggle has been passed.
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The German Communist Party is becoming more and more a mass party.
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The weak side of the party is its failure to consolidate its successes organizationally.
Although it has had some success in trade union work, as a whole this is very weak... .
THE STRUGGLE FOR A LENINIST LINE AND THE PROBLEM OF LEADERSHIP
In assessing the 'criticism' of the CI line in the period from the beginning of the ebb of the revolutionary wave in Europe, a criticism directed against the CPSU (in the first place on the peasant question), against the 'insufferable regime' within the Comintern sections, the tactical line of the united front, etc., the enlarged plenum of the ECCI observes that these critics have either gone over completely to socialdemocracy (Hoglund, Strom, Frossard, Paul Levi, etc.) or are on the way to doing so—either organizationally or as yet only ideologically— (Tranmael, Souvarine, Maslow, Ruth Fischer).
This departure from communism had its basic pivot in the world situation, the transition from a period of stormy development and triumphant advance of communism to the opening of capitalist stabilization.*
*At the present time, stabilization, which is particularly clearly marked in Germany . . . has brought into being the so-called ultra-left deviation in Germany, turning in the case of Korsch, Schwarz, and others into outright and infamous counter-revolutionary renegacy.
The struggle against these deviations as well as against right deviations ... is an essential prerequisite for the success of the communist movement.
The enlarged plenum observes that the efforts of the opposition in the CPSU to create an international opposition fraction have suffered complete failure. The plenum, fully supporting the policy of the CC of the CPSU, observes that the opposition bloc, despite its declaration of 16 October, intends to continue its fractional struggle. Therefore the enlarged plenum of the ECCI considers it essential to continue the struggle against the views of the opposition, essentially anti-Leninist, and against any further attempts at fractional work. The enlarged plenum ratifies the resolution of the CC of the KPD expelling Maslow, Fischer, Urbahns, and others.
The enlarged plenum is of the opinion that the Leninist teaching on the impermissibility of fractions in bolshevik parties should now be applied in full.
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The enlarged plenum resolves to take all steps necessary to establish closer connexions between the ECCI and the sections and to secure a united and firm collective international leadership.