THESES OF THE TWELFTH ECCI PLENUM
ON THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION AND THE TASKS OF THE
COMINTERN SECTIONS

September 1932

Checked against the German version in Inprekorr, xii, 82, p. 2629, 4 October 1932;

corrections are
shown in square brackets.

EXTRACTS

 



I.

THE END OF CAPITALIST STABILIZATION AND THE
GROWTH OF THE USSR


The sharpening of the general crisis of capitalism is proceeding with enormous strides which are carrying this crisis to a new stage. The fundamental changes which are taking place in the world situation are characterized by a number of recent
important facts.

 

1.

A tremendous change has taken place in the relation of forces between the socialist and the capitalist worlds, due primarily to the increase in the relative importance of the USSR, which is carrying out its great programme of socialist industrialization, collectivization and the cultural revolution at a tremendous rate.
That country has completely established itself in the position of socialism; the second Five Year Plan provides for the final abolition of classes and for the conversion of the whole of the toiling population of the country into active and conscious builders of classless socialist society. The successes achieved in socialist construction are securing to an increasing degree the economic independence of the Soviet Union in relation to the capitalist world, and its international power, its revolutionizing influence on the toilers and the exploited of all countries, and its significance as the basis of the world socialist revolution have increased.

 

2.

Meanwhile in the capitalist world there is a continuation of:


(a) the sharpening of the economic crisis—industry has contracted to such a degree that more than half of the working class is partially or totally unemployed:
the expropriation and impoverishment of the peasants has reached unprecedented dimensions;


(b) the growing revolutionary upsurge both in imperialist and colonial countries (stubborn and turbulent strikes, revolutionary demonstrations, fierce clashes between the workers and the police and fascists, militant activity by the peasant masses, etc.); the sharpening of the struggle of the colonial peoples against the imperialists;


(c) a further sharpening of the antagonisms between the imperialist powers (trade war, acceleration of the imperialist race for armaments, rifts in the Versailles system, the Japanese war against China, an acute sharpening of the relations between Japan and the USA, between Great Britain and USA, between Italy and France, between Germany and France, etc.);


(d) intensified preparation for a counter-revolutionary war against the USSR.

 

3.

The domination of monopolist capital which, at the present day, has brought under its sway almost the whole economy of capitalist society, makes it extremely difficult, in the conditions of the general crisis of capitalism, to overcome the
economic crisis in the way that was usual for capitalism in the period of free competition.

. . .

This, however, does not imply that capitalism will break down
automatically; it implies the inevitable further growth of the revolutionary upsurge and a further sharpening of the fundamental antagonisms which drive the bourgeoisie to seek a violent solution of these antagonisms, both within their own
countries and on the international arena.

 

4.

All these facts taken together completely confirm the estimate of the tendencies of development given in the decisions of the tenth and eleventh plenums of the ECCI, and also reveal, in the course of the development of the general crisis of capitalism, a definite change, a peculiar swaying [gathering momentum] of the antagonistic forces, very rapid in some places and slow in others. In certain extremely important key points, the antagonistic forces are already becoming unleashed for the conflict. The end of relative capitalist stabilization has come. But a directly revolutionary situation has not yet arisen in the important and decisive capitalist countries. What is taking place at the present moment is the transition to a new round of big clashes between classes and between states, a new round of wars and revolutions.
This transition, which in international relations is especially accelerated by the military aggression of Japan and France, is taking place in the form of an uneven process in the various countries. In Spain a revolution is taking place. In China there
is a revolutionary situation, and a Soviet revolution has been victorious over a large territory. In Germany there is a tremendous sharpening of class antagonisms — on the one hand the growth of fascism, and on the other hand, the growth of the revolutionary mass struggle, the accelerated maturing of the prerequisites for a revolutionary crisis.
Certain other countries are either approaching very closely to a revolutionary crisis (Poland), or, as a result of the extreme sharpening of antagonisms at home and abroad, may find themselves in the situation of a revolutionary crisis in the near
future (Japan). In India and the Latin American countries the development of the revolutionary crisis is retarded, primarily by the low degree of organization of the proletariat and the immaturity of the communist parties. In all capitalist countries
the forces of the international proletarian revolution are steadily growing, but in such important countries of world capitalism as the USA, Great Britain and France, the upsurge of the revolutionary movement, although developing, is still greatly lagging behind the high intensity of the whole international situation.

 


II.

THE DANGER OF A NEW WORLD WAR,

THE WAR OF
JAPAN AGAINST CHINA,

THE NEW PHASE IN THE PREPARATIONS
FOR INTERVENTION AGAINST THE USSR

 

1.

The fierce struggle the imperialists are waging for markets and colonies, the tariff wars and the race for armaments, have already led to the immediate danger of a new imperialist world war. French imperialism, in developing feverish activity in the struggle for hegemony on the European continent, is trying to strengthen its old military and political alliances and to form new ones (Danube Federation), but encounters the resistance of Germany, USA and Italy. Germany demands the equal status of an imperialist power (the annulment of reparations, equality of armaments, the revision of Eastern frontiers, etc.), while Poland is preparing to seize Danzig and East Prussia. Thus Germany is one of the main centres of the sharpest and most
intense world imperialist conflicts.


2.

The seizure of Manchuria by Japan and the attack on Shanghai have upset the compact that has hitherto existed between the USA, Japan and Great Britain regarding the establishment of spheres of influence in China. Japanese imperialism, in alliance with France and with the actual support of England, is converting Manchuria into its colony and has thus put the armed struggle for the partition of China and intervention against the USSR on the order of the day. The League of Nations, acting at the behest of France and England, supports Japan. The United
States, in pursuing its imperialist aims in the Far East, openly threatens another race for armaments. The agglomeration of antagonisms in the Pacific form[s] the chief hotbed for breeding a new imperialist world war.

 

3.

For the purpose of preparing a counter-revolutionary war against the USSR under the cloak of the peace declarations of the League of Nations and the Second International, there is proceeding the [arming of Japan by the imperialists of Europe and the USA, the] concentration of the Japanese army in Manchuria, the formation and arming of white-guard units in the Far East, and also the organization of an expeditionary army in France, feverish preparations of the army in Poland,
Rumania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland, and the strengthening and activization of specially selected fascist formations, unceasing provocation, etc. It is only the firm peace policy pursued by the USSR, and the fears the bourgeoisie entertain of the prospects of imperialist war being converted into civil war and of colonial uprisings, that restrain them from slipping into war and intervention.


4.

Under these circumstances of rapidly approaching criminal war, especially hastened by fascism, the communist parties must, as an offset to the abstract and hypocritical pacifist statements of the social-democrats, commence a real struggle against the preparations for war. The ECCI imposes the duty upon all communist parties to apply with greatest persistence and energy the decisions of the Comintern on the question of struggle against imperialist war and intervention.

 


III.

BOURGEOIS DICTATORSHIP,

NATIONALISM,

FASCISM AND SOCIAL-FASCISM


1.

The bourgeois dictatorship continues to undergo transformation in the direction of the further strengthening of political reaction and the fascization of the State and in this is revealing a contraction of the basis of bourgeois rule and manifestations of fissures and disintegration. The bickerings in the camp of the
bourgeoisie frequently result in [take the form of] splits into hostile camps (Germany, Finland, Yugoslavia), in some cases — the assassination of prominent bourgeois politicians (Japan). As a rule, the bourgeoisie are finding it more and more difficult to smooth over the conflicts which arise among them.
In most capitalist countries, the big bourgeoisie are organizing fascist units for civil war, are making a system of political banditism, white terror, the torture of political prisoners, provocation, forging documents, the shooting down of strikers
and demonstrators, the dissolution and suppression of the organizations of the workers. But while doing this the bourgeoisie do not cease to utilize parliament and the services of the social-democratic party [parties] to deceive the masses.
In Germany, in an atmosphere of sharpening antagonism abroad and extreme tension in class relations at home, the von Papen-Schleicher Government, with the help of the Reichswehr, the 'Steel Helmets', and the national socialists has established a form of fascist dictatorship, for which the social-democrats and the Centre prepared the way. The further development or breakdown of this dictatorship depends on the revolutionary
struggle of the working class against fascism in all its forms.
In those countries where a fascist dictatorship existed before the world economic crisis, a process of disintegration of fascism is observed as a consequence of the growing revolutionary mass upsurge (Poland, Yugoslavia, Italy).

 

2.

The destruction caused by the present world economic crisis, the breakdown of the economic contacts of world capitalism and thesharpening of the struggle for markets favour the spread of [unbridled] nationalism and chauvinism among the
ruling nations. In Germany a wave of chauvinist sentiments and passions has arisen out of the hatred which has accumulated against the humiliating and predatory conditions of the Versailles peace treaty, and out of the impotent desire for
'revenge' combined with fear of the prospects of the further decline and collapse of German capitalism. In France, chauvinism is cloaked by the slogan of 'safety of the
frontiers', in Great Britain, by the theory of 'unity of the Empire', in Japan, by the pan-Asiatic idea, in Italy, by the theory of overpopulation, etc. A stubborn struggle must be carried on everywhere for internationalism and against the dangerous ideology of chauvinism, and account must be taken of the peculiar character and the special forms of chauvinism in each separate country.


3.

Both fascism and social-fascism (social-democracy) stand for the maintenance and the strengthening of capitalism and bourgeois dictatorship, but from this position they each adopt different tactical views. In view of the fact that the position of the ruling bourgeoisie of every country is one of inherent [most
extreme] contradiction at the present time, which compels them now and again to manoeuvre between a course for determined struggle against their enemies at home and abroad, and the more prudent course, this inherent [most extreme] contradiction in the position of the bourgeoisie is also reflected in the difference in the positions taken up by fascism and social-fascism. The social-fascists prefer a [more] moderate
and [more] 'lawful' application of bourgeois class coercion, because they do not want to contract the basis of the bourgeois dictatorship; they guard its 'democratic' drapings, and strive chiefly to preserve its parliamentary forms, for without these,
the social-fascists would be hampered in carrying out their special function of deceiving the working masses. At the same time, the social-fascists restrain the workers from revolutionary action against the capitalist offensive and growing fascism, play the part of a screen behind which the fascists are able to organize their forces, and build [clear] the road for the fascist dictatorship.


4.

To the extent that the economic policy of monopolist capital is adapted to the special conditions and difficulties of the economic crisis, social-democracy adapts its ideology to the requirements of the crisis policy of the financial oligarchy. The social-democratic leaders are again unearthing their threadbare slogans of the nationalization of certain branches of industry.

. . .

They even draw up for the bourgeoisie ultra-reactionary schemes of forced labour and present these quack schemes as plans to establish socialism under capitalism.


5.

The mass influence of the social-fascists has declined [in almost all countries].
For that very reason their manoeuvres have become more energetic and varied (leading strikes with the aim of throttling them, in some cases, even demonstrative declaration of general strikes, sham fight against fascism, for peace, in defence of the USSR, etc.). In these manoeuvres particular zeal is displayed by the 'left' socialdemocratic groups, who simultaneously carry on a frenzied campaign of slander against the communist party and the USSR. Only by taking fully into account the variety of the forms of the policy and manoeuvres of the social-fascist in all their concreteness will the communists be able really to expose and isolate the socialfascists.
Only by directing the main blows against social-democracy, this social mainstay of the bourgeoisie — will it be possible to strike at and defeat the chief class
enemy of the proletariat — the bourgeoisie. And only by strict differentiation between social-democratic leaders and workers will the communists be able, by means of the [revolutionary] united front from below, to break down the wall which often
separates them from the social-democratic workers.

 

IV.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE REVOLUTIONARY UPSURGE AND THE PREPARATION OF THE STRUGGLE FOR THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT


1.

The growth of the revolutionary upsurge has become particularly evident since the XI Plenum of the ECCI.

. . .

 

2.

During this period the communist parties have increased their strength. In Germany, the party achieved great successes in the last Reichstag elections, and the anti-fascist struggle is developing under the leadership of the party on the basis of
the united front from below. A growth of the mass influence of the communist parties is observed in China, Poland and Bulgaria. In France, in spite of the fact that the Communist Party lost considerably in the parliamentary elections and that the membership of the Unitary Confederation of Labour has declined, there is a considerable upsurge of the revolutionary anti-war movement.

. . .

Despite the weakness of the mass influence of the communist parties in a number of countries, the communists in all parts of the capitalist world, in numerous fights and trials, under conditions of merciless terror, have shown themselves to be courageous and truly revolutionary, advanced fighters of the proletariat.



3.

 

The end of capitalist stabilization, the rapidly growing prerequisites of a revolutionary crisis in a number of capitalist states, and the international situation in general, sharply raises the problem of solving the main task of the communist parties at the present time, i.e., of preparing the working class and the exploited masses, in the course of the economic and political struggles, for the impending fight for power, for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Precisely because little time remains before the revolutionary crisis matures, it is necessary, without losing a moment, to intensify and accelerate our bolshevik mass work to win over the majority of the working class, to increase the revolutionary activity of the working class. The opponents of the revolutionary movement have not yet lost the support of an enormous section of organized and unorganized workers, and this circumstance,
which enables them to impede the revolutioniza-tion of the proletariat, constitutes the fundamental danger from the point of view of preparing for the victory of the proletariat.

. . .

 

4.

The successful accomplishment of this task requires that every communist party shall establish, extend and strengthen permanent and intimate contacts with the majority of the workers, wherever workers may be found. For this it is first of all necessary:

 

(a) to organize on a sound basis constant bolshevik work among noncommunist workers in the factories, in the reformist and other trade unions, and among the unemployed, and systematically to expose the treachery of the socialdemocratic
and reformist leaders, and to win over the workers who have come under the influence of the fascists;

 

(b) to defend the everyday interests of the workers, to
be able to respond to every attack of the class enemy, always putting forward concrete slogans that will effectively mobilize the masses for struggle; systematically to pursue the policy of the united front from below, to establish an alliance between the proletariat and the small farmers, to draw into the struggle the office workers and exploited sections of the urban petty-bourgeoisie under the leadership of the proletariat;

 

(c) to strengthen the communist party itself, by training cadres, who are closely connected with the masses and trusted by them.


5.

In the practical work of our parties it is necessary to put an end to a number of repeated weaknesses and mistakes which hinder the development of their mass work. The chief of these shortcomings and mistakes are as follows: most of our party workers are isolated from the reformist and other non-communist workers; work in the reformist unions meets with actual resistance; agitation is abstract and stereotyped, and this applies also to the press, and especially to slogans; there is a lack of ability to defend in a practical manner the vital interests of the workers and to take advantage of practical causes which specially excite the workers, for the purpose of organizing the activity of really broad masses, using various forms of the struggle according to the situation; there is a
lack of bold application of the forms and methods of proletarian democracy for the purpose of building up the united front from below; and on the other hand, there is an opportunist slurring over of differences of principle when applying the tactics of
the united front; there is a lack of ability to combine the struggle against the employers, the government and the fascists, with the struggle for winning the workers away from the influence of the social-fascist agents of the bourgeoisie;
there are shortcomings and mistakes in the tactics and strategy of strikes; there is a lack of ability to develop the movement of the broad masses from comparatively elementary movements to higher and higher forms of struggle, big economic and political strikes and other revolutionary actions.

 

6.

The twelfth plenum emphasizes the importance and the urgent necessity of overcoming these shortcomings and mistakes in the practice of the communist parties. There must be determined dissociation from right opportunist 'tailism' which
frequently manifests itself in capitulatory moods, in disbelief in the possibility of revolutionizing the reformist working masses, and from 'left' opportunist subjectivism which wishes to substitute for the necessary, difficult work of the bolshevik education and mobilization of the masses and of really developing these struggles by organizing and winning the leadership of the everyday struggle of the workers and peasants, empty phrases about developing revolutionary struggles. The correct bolshevik mass policy can be carried out only in an irreconcilable struggle against right opportunism as the chief danger and against 'left' deviations from the
line of the Comintern.

. . .


V.

THE IMMEDIATE TASKS OF THE SECTIONS OF THE CI

 

1.

The general task of the Comintern and its sections in all capitalist countries at the present time is to wage a concrete struggle:

 

(1) against the capitalist offensive;


(2) against fascism and reaction;

 

(3) against the impending imperialist war and
intervention in the Soviet Union.

. . .

 

2.

The specific tasks of the major communist parties are as follows:

 

CP OF GERMANY:

To mobilize the vast masses of toilers in defence of their vital
interests, against the bandit policy of monopolist capital, against fascism, against the emergency decrees, against nationalism and chauvinism, and by developing economic and political strikes, by struggle for proletarian internationalism, by means of demonstrations, to lead the masses to the point of the general political strike: to win over the bulk of the social-democratic masses, and definitely overcome the weaknesses of trade union work. The chief slogan which the CPG must put forward to offset the slogan of the fascist dictatorship (the 'Third Empire') and the slogan of the social-democratic party (the 'Second Republic') is the slogan of the workers' and peasants' republic, i.e., Socialist Soviet Germany, which will guarantee the possibility of the voluntary affiliation of the people of Austria and other German territories.

 


CP OF FRANCE:

To turn its work in the direction of defending the interests of
the workers and peasant masses (fight against wage cuts, for social insurance, for immediate relief for the unemployed, against the burden of taxes, etc.) and to link up this defence with the struggle against the Versailles system, against the subjection of Alsace-Lorraine and the colonies, and against the war policy of French imperialism

. . .

and patiently and tirelessly fight for the liberation of the syndicalist and socialist workers from their reformist, parliamentary and pacifist illusions.

. . .

 

CP OF GREAT BRITAIN:

A sharp turn must be made towards work in the reformist trade unions and in the factories, and to rouse the working masses, on the basis of the united front from below, for a struggle:

 

1. against the new capitalist offensive on the wages of the workers and unemployment insurance benefits;


2. against the government policy of supporting and encouraging the anti-Soviet aggression of Japanese and French imperialism;

 

3. for the independence of the British colonies and Ireland.

 


CP OF USA:

The American Party must mobilize the masses and concentrate
chiefly on the struggle:

 

1. for social insurance, against wage cuts, for immediate
assistance for the unemployed;

 

2. for assistance for the ruined farmers;

 

3. for equal rights of the Negroes and the right of self-determination for the Black Belt;

 

4. for the defence of the Chinese people and the Soviet Union. It is necessary to carry out the decision on the turn in the work of the party and the Trade Union Unity League.

 


CP OF JAPAN:

The Japanese Party has the task of transforming its struggle
against war and the seizure of the territory of China into a real mass movement of the workers and peasants, linking it up closely with the struggle for the immediate needs of the masses. Workers' and Peasants' Self-defence Committees and the combined action of villages must be organized against the forcible collection of rents and taxes from the peasants and the seizure of land from tenants; the party must explain to the masses the necessity for a revolutionary struggle for the
confiscation of the land of the landlords without compensation for the benefit of the peasants.

 


CP OF CHINA:

 

1. To mobilize the masses under the slogan of the national
revolutionary struggle against the Japanese and other imperialists and for the independence and integrity [unification] of China;

 

2. to develop and unite the Soviet territories, to strengthen the Red Army;

 

3. to fight for the overthrow of the Kuomintang regime;

 

4. to pursue a resolute policy of converting the Red trade unions into mass organizations, to win over the workers belonging to the Kuomintang unions;

 

5. to develop the guerrilla movement, putting forward in Manchuria slogans calling for the formation of peasant committees, for boycotting taxes and
government decrees, the confiscation of the property of the agents of the imperialists, the establishment of an elected people's government;

 

6. the popularization of the achievements of the Soviet districts and the slogan of the fraternal alliance of the workers and peasants of China with the USSR.

 


CP OF INDIA:

To strengthen the Communist Party, politically and organizationally; to train bolshevik cadres, to wage a stubborn struggle in the reformist trade unions, develop a wide anti-imperialist front, to liberate the masses from the influence of the National Congress, to make agitational and organizational
preparations for a general strike, to give the greatest possible support to the peasant movement for the non-payment of taxes, rent and debts, to popularize the basic slogans and tasks of the agrarian revolution.


[3.] In regard to organization, the chief tasks of the sections of the CI are:

(a)
carefully to conceal the communist nuclei in the factories, combining this with fearless mass work;

 

(b) to create immediately nuclei in military detachments and in
the militarized organizations of the bourgeoisie, in war factories, railways and ports;


(c) to wage a determined struggle against provocation in all forms;

 

(d) to take measures to ensure that the party can promptly pass to an illegal basis in case of necessity;

 

(e) to transform the party press into real mass organs which must deal with all questions that concern the workers in simple language, intelligible to the workers;

 

(f) there must be a thorough elimination from the leadership of all branches of party work of super-centralism, of the mere issuing of orders. The maintenance of a big central apparatus while the local organizations are bereft of forces must not be
permitted.

 

 

THE TWELFTH PLENARY SESSION OF THE ECCI

from 27 August to 15 September 1932

174 delegates (38 with voting powers) from 35 countries.

 

The four items on the agenda were the international situation and the tasks of the sections, the lessons of strikes
and the struggle of the unemployed, the Far Eastern war and the struggle against imperialist war and anti-Soviet intervention, and socialist construction in the USSR.

 

Comintern

III. International