THESES OF THE THIRTEENTH PLENARY SESSION OF THE ECCI

ON FASCISM, THE WAR DANGER, AND THE TASKS

OF COMMUNIST PARTIES

 

EXTRACTS

December 1933

Thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI

 

 


The development of the general crisis of capitalism, after the end of the relative stabilization that was noted by the last (twelfth) Plenum of the ECCI, has already shaken the capitalist system to a far-reaching degree all over the world.

. . .

The tremendous strain of the internal class antagonisms in the capitalist countries, as well as of the international antagonisms, testify to the fact that the objective prerequisites for a revolutionary crisis have matured to such an extent that at the present time the world is closely approaching a new round of revolutions and wars.

 

 

I.

FASCISM AND THE MATURING OF THE REVOLUTIONARY

CRISIS

 

 

1. Fascism is the open, terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital. Fascism tries to secure a mass basis for monopolist capital among the petty bourgeoisie, appealing to the peasantry, artisans, office employees and civil servants who have been thrown out of their normal course of life, and particularly to the declassed elements in the big cities, also trying to penetrate into the working class.

The growth of fascism and its coming into power in Germany and in a number of other capitalist countries means:

 

(a) that the revolutionary crisis and the indignation of the broad masses against the rule of capital is growing;

 

(b) that the capitalists are no longer able to maintain their dictatorship by the old methods of parliamentarism and of bourgeois democracy in general;

 

(c) that, moreover, the methods of parliamentarism and bourgeois democracy in general are becoming a hindrance to the capitalists both in their internal politics (the struggle against the proletariat) and in their foreign politics (war for the imperialist redistribution of the world);

 

(d) that in view of this, capital is compelled to pass to open terrorist dictatorship within the country and to unrestrained chauvinism in foreign politics, which represents direct preparation for imperialist wars.

Born in the womb of bourgeois democracy, fascism in the eyes of the capitalists is a means of saving capitalism from collapse. It is only for the purpose of deceiving and disarming the workers that social-democracy denies the fascization of bourgeois democracy and draws a contrast in principle between the democratic countries and the countries of the fascist dictatorship. On the other hand, the fascist dictatorship is not an inevitable stage of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in all countries. The possibility of averting it depends upon the forces of the fighting proletariat, which are paralysed by the corrupting [disintegrating] influence of social-democracy more

than by anything else.

 

2. While the general line of all bourgeois parties, including social-democracy, is towards the fascization of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the realization of this line inevitably gives rise to disagreements among them as to forms and methods of

fascization. Certain bourgeois groups, particularly [including] the social-fascists, who in practice stick at nothing in their acts of police violence against the proletariat, urge the maintenance of parliamentary forms when carrying through the fascization of the bourgeois dictatorship. The fascists, however, insist on the full or partial abolition of these old, shaken forms of bourgeois democracy, on carrying through fascization by means of the establishment of an open fascist dictatorship and by a wide application of both police violence and the terrorism of fascist gangs.

Having come to power, fascism pushes aside, splits and disintegrates the other bourgeois parties (for instance, Poland) or dissolves them (Germany and Italy). This striving of fascism for political monopoly intensifies the discord and conflicts in the ranks of the ruling classes which follow from the internal contradictions in the position of the bourgeoisie who are becoming fascized.

 

3. The establishment of the fascist dictatorship in Germany has unmasked German social-democracy before the whole world. From the bloody crushing of the proletarian revolution in 1918, through an uninterrupted chain of treachery and strike-breaking, through all the coalition governments, the savage police massacres of revolutionary workers, voting for Hindenburg as the 'lesser evil,' to servile endeavours to co-operate openly with the fascist gangs—such is the record of

German social-democracy, the leading party in the Second International.

...

Social-democracy continues to play the role of the main social prop of the bourgeoisie also in the countries of open fascist dictatorship. In fighting against the revolutionary unity of the proletariat and against the USSR, it helps the bourgeoisie to prolong the existence of capitalism by splitting the working class. In the majority of countries, however, it is already in the

process of disintegration. The radicalization of the social-democratic workers intensifies the squabbles among the leading circle of the social-fascists. Avowed neo-fascist groups are arising; 'left' fragments break away and try to patch together a new Two-and-a-half International. Trotsky, the lackey of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, is unsuccessfully trying to prevent the social-democratic workers from coming over to the side of communism by his despicable attempts to form a Fourth International and by spreading anti-Soviet slanders. On the basis of the sharp antagonisms between the imperialist countries, the international organization of

social-democracy is disintegrating. The crisis of the Second International is a fact.

 

4. The economic policy of the financial oligarchy for overcoming the crisis (the robbery of the workers and peasants, subsidies to the capitalists and landlords) is unable to restore the stabilization of capitalism; on the contrary, it is helping still

further to disintegrate the mechanism of capitalist economy (disorganization of the money system, of the budget, state bankruptcies, a further deepening of the agrarian crisis), and to sharply intensify the fundamental contradictions of capitalism.

In this situation, all the capitalist countries are developing their war industries to unprecedented dimensions, and are adapting all the principal branches of industry, as well as agriculture, to the needs of war. The 'demand' thus created for means of extermination and destruction, combined with open inflation (USA, Great Britain and Japan), super-dumping (Japan), and hidden inflation (Germany), has in the past year caused an increase in output in some branches of industry in a number of countries (particularly iron, steel, non-ferrous metals, the chemical and textile industries). But this whipping up of production for non-productive purposes, or the speculative leaps in production on the basis of inflation, is accompanied by stagnation or a fall in production in a number of other branches (machine construction, building, the production of articles of [mass] consumption), and in the

near future cannot but lead to the still greater disturbance of state finances and to a still further intensification of the general crisis of capitalism.

The furious struggle for foreign and colonial markets has already assumed the

form of an actual international economic war.

 

5. Therefore the social-democratic estimation of the present world situation as one in which capitalism has succeeded in consolidating its position, in which it is already on the path towards overcoming its general crisis, is completely wrong. As

distinguished from the first wave of the fascization of capitalist states which took place at the time of the transition from a revolutionary crisis to partial stabilization, the capitalist world is now passing from the end of capitalist stabilization to a

revolutionary crisis, which determines other perspectives of development of fascism and the world revolutionary movement of the toilers.

Even the most savage terror, which the bourgeoisie employs in order to suppress the revolutionary movement cannot, in the conditions when capitalism is shaken, for long frighten the advanced strata of the toilers and restrain it from taking action; the indignation which this terror has roused even among the majority of the workers who followed the social-democrats, makes them more susceptible to communist agitation and propaganda. When the bourgeoisie reorganizes its tottering

dictatorship on a fascist basis in order to create a firm, solid government, this, in the present conditions, leads to the strengthening, not only of its class terrorism, but also of the elements which disrupt its power, to the destruction of the authority of bourgeois law [legality] in the eyes of the broad masses, to the growth of internal friction among the bourgeoisie and to the acceleration of the collapse of its main

social support—social-democracy. Finally, when the bourgeoisie tries, by an aggressive war policy, to strengthen its foreign position, it extremely intensifies international antagonisms and the danger for capitalism which arises from them.

 

6. It would, therefore, be a right opportunist error to fail to see, now, the objective tendencies of the accelerated maturing of a revolutionary crisis in the capitalist world. But the presence and operation of these tendencies, both economic and

political, do not imply that revolutionary development is proceeding upwards by itself, or unhindered, without resistance from counteracting forces. Revolutionary development is simultaneously hindered and accelerated by the fascist fury of the bourgeoisie. The question of how soon the rule of bankrupt capitalism will be overthrown by the proletariat will be determined by the fighting preparedness of the majority of the working class, by the successful work of the communist parties in undermining the mass influence of social-democracy.

.. .

The mainstays of capitalism are already being destroyed by virtue of its profound, insoluble contradictions. The world economic crisis is most closely interwoven with the general crisis of capitalism, and sharpens all the cardinal contradictions of the capitalist world to such an extent that a turn may take place at any moment, a turn which will signify the transformation of the economic crisis into a revolutionary

crisis. The great task of the international proletariat is to turn this crisis of the capitalist world into the victory of the proletarian revolution.

 

 

II.

THE IMPERIALIST PREPARATIONS FOR A NEW WORLD WAR

 

 

The growing uncertainty of the bourgeoisie as to the possibility of finding a way out of the crisis only by the intensified exploitation of the toilers of their own countries has led the imperialists to put their main stake on war. The international situation bears all the features of the eve of a new world war.

 

1. The flames of a new world war are flaring up in the Pacific.

 

The Japanese militarists, spurred on by the profound internal crisis which the bourgeois-landlord monarchy is undergoing, are continuing the predatory war against China and, with the aid of the Kuomintang, are subjugating Northern China and are preparing a blow against the Mongolian People's Republic. British imperialism is stretching out its hand to the Southeastern provinces of China, Tibet, Szechwan, while French imperialism is stretching out its hand towards Yunnan. The fascist military clique of Japan is acting as the battering ram against the anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution in China. The American, Japanese and British imperialism[s] are behind

the Kuomintang in its sixth campaign against the only people's government in China, against the Chinese Soviets. The victories of the Soviet revolution in China, the partisan war in Manchuria, the growth of the revolutionary forces in Japan and of the liberation movement of the colonial peoples, create a new front in the rear of the imperialists. The Soviet revolution in China has become a big factor in the world revolution.

 

2. The Japanese militarists are calling to the German fascists and the British imperialists to unleash a counter-revolutionary war against the USSR from the East and from the West.

...

At the same time, German fascism is inviting the international

bourgeoisie to purchase its national-socialist mercenaries to fight against the USSR, intriguing with British, Italian and Polish imperialism (the German-Polish negotiations). The British imperialists at the present time have taken the place of the French as the chief organizers of an anti-Soviet war.

The Soviet Union has achieved considerable successes in the unswerving and firm policy of peace it has pursued in the interests of all the toilers (a number of pacts of non aggression, a number of new recognitions, the definition of the

aggressor, the forced raising of the embargo by Great Britain). The land of the Soviets is the only bulwark of peace and of the independence of the weak states against the attacks of the predatory imperialists.

. . .

3. The fascist government of Germany, which is the chief instigator of war in Europe, is provoking trouble in Danzig, in Austria, in the Saar, in the Baltic countries and in Scandinavia and, on the pretext of fighting against Versailles, is trying to form a bloc for the purpose of bringing about a new bloody carving up of Europe for the benefit of German imperialism. Imperialist blocs, headed either by France or Italy or by Great Britain which intrigues behind their backs, are being feverishly reorganized around the key-points of imperialist contradictions. Europe has become a powder-magazine which may explode at any moment.

. . .

 

4. In this situation social-democracy sticks at nothing in the support of the imperialist interests of its own bourgeoisie and combines this support with service to international capital against the USSR.

. . .

At the same time, the Second and Amsterdam Internationals are adapting their policy to the situation of the eve of war, trying to safeguard the interests of their own bourgeoisie and to ensure that the main blow will be directed at the USSR; they

hypocritically mask this by expressing readiness to reply to war by a general strike and a boycott, but they declare in advance that they will do so only against the government that will be declared the aggressor by the League of Nations. They pretend to be leading a boycott against goods from fascist Germany, but they persecute the workers who really carry out this boycott. Under the slogans of pacifism and of a fight against war and fascism, they act as pioneers in working up public

opinion in the capitalist countries in favour of a counter-revolutionary war against the USSR.

The bourgeoisie want to postpone the doom of capitalism by a criminal imperialist war and a counter-revolutionary campaign against the land of victorious socialism. The great historical task of international communism is to mobilize the broad masses against war even before war has begun, and thereby hasten the doom of capitalism. Only a Bolshevik struggle before the outbreak of war for the triumph of revolution can assure the victory of a revolution that breaks out in connection with war.

 

 

III.

THE TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTIES

 

 

In the conditions of the maturing of the world revolutionary crisis, when the bourgeoisie is trying to divert the ferment, the discontent and the indignation of the masses into the channel of fascization and war in order to strengthen its dictatorship,

the main task of the communists is to direct this mass movement towards the fight for the overthrow of the dictatorship of the exploiting classes.

 

A. The Fight Against Fascist Ideology

 

The communist must:

 

(a) daily and concretely expose chauvinism to the masses in every country and oppose it by proletarian internationalism;

 

(b) in the imperialist countries, come out determinedly for the independence of the colonies, for the liberation of the dependent nations from all national oppression; in the keypoints of national antagonisms communists must struggle against imperialist occupation and violence, for the right of self-determination (Upper Silesia, the Saar, Northern Bohemia, etc.), coming out in all these regions, and also in Austria and Danzig, against the chauvinism of their national bourgeoisie and against incorporation in the hangmen's 'third empire' of German fascism;

 

(c) widely popularize the solution of the national question in the USSR and the tremendous economic social and cultural successes achieved by the peoples which were liberated by the October Revolution.

 

 

 

B. The Fight Against the Fascization of the Bourgeois Governments and Against War

 

In the fight against the fascization of the so-called 'democratic' countries, the communist parties must first of all brush aside [repudiate] the fatalist, defeatist line of the inevitability of a fascist dictatorship and imperialist war and also the opportunist underestimation of the tempo of fascization and the threat of imperialist wars, which condemn the communist parties to passivity.

In carefully explaining the economic and political slavery which the fascist dictatorship is bringing to the toilers, in showing the masses that the fascists are not socialists and are not bringing in a new [social] order, but are lackeys, lickspittles of

capital, the communists must: rouse the masses in time for the defence of the trade unions, of the labour press, of the workers' clubs, of the freedom to strike and of workers' meetings, organizing protests, demonstrations, strikes and setting up

fighting self-defence detachments to resist the terrorist gangs.

In the fight against the fascist dictatorship, the communists must:

 

(a) taking as the starting point the defence of the everyday economic and political interests of the toilers, rouse the masses against the fascist dictatorship which deceived the workers, the peasants and the urban toilers; expose the

demagogy and all provocations of fascism (the burning of the Reichstag, the faking of the Reichstag elections, etc.), stirring up strikes and leading the proletariat up to mass political strikes;

 

(b) penetrate all the fascist mass organizations and also carry on revolutionary work in the forced labour camps; while fighting against the revolutionary workers leaving the fascist trade union individually, but not calling upon the workers to join the fascist trade unions, the communists must utilize all mass movements as well as all manifestations of discontent shown by the masses in the fascist trade unions in order to form and consolidate independent class trade unions, while at the same time continuing their revolutionary work inside the fascist organizations;

 

(c) expose in the eyes of the peasants the policy which fascism pursues in the interests of the landlords and the kulaks, illustrating this by concrete examples from their own farm life; join the mass fascist organizations in the rural districts in order to split off the toiling peasants; organize the agricultural proletariat in independent trade unions which are to serve as the main lever for the whole work in the rural districts.

 

In fighting against war, the communists must prepare even now for the transformation of the imperialist war into civil war, and concentrate their forces in each country at the vital parts of the war machine of imperialism.

In addition to increased agitation, the communist parties must by all means in their power ensure the practical organization of mass action (preventing the shipping of arms and troops, hindering the execution of orders for belligerent countries,

organizing demonstrations against military manoeuvres, etc.) and must intensify political, educational work in the army and in the navy.

The thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI calls upon all the sections of the Communist International, upon all the workers and the toilers of the world self-sacrificingly to defend the USSR against the counter-revolutionary conspiracy of the imperialists, and to defend the Chinese revolution and its Soviet power from imperialist intervention.

 

 

C. Against Social-Democracy and For a United Front from Below

 

 

In their fight against social-democracy the communists must prove to the workers that the new bankruptcy of social-democracy and the Second International was historically inevitable. While carefully exposing to the masses and refuting the hypocritical and treacherous sophistries of social-democracy, the communists must win over the social-democratic workers for active revolutionary struggle under the

leadership of the communist parties.

The thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI fully approves the appeal for a united front issued by the Presidium of the ECCI, and the position of the Political Secretariat of the ECCI in the correspondence with the British Independent Labour Party. Socialdemocracy, which split the working class by its treachery at the time of the imperialist war and the October Revolution, has in all countries, in accordance with the directives of the Second International, refused the offers made by the communist

parties for united working-class action, and sabotaged the united anti-fascist and anti-war movements created in Amsterdam and Paris, and in the face of fascism and war, strove to deepen the split in the ranks of the proletariat.

The thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI calls upon all sections of the Communist International persistently to fight for the realization of a united militant front with the social-democratic workers, in spite of and against the will of the treacherous

leaders of social-democracy.

The Plenum fully approves the resolution of the Presidium of the ECCI of April 1, 1933 on the situation in Germany and the political line pursued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany, headed by Comrade Thalmann,

before and at the time of the fascist coup. The Plenum notes the heroic Bolshevik struggle waged by the Communist Party of Germany against the fascist dictatorship.

 

 

D. The Tasks of Mass Work and the Strengthening of the Communist Parties

 

The fulfilment of these fundamental tasks demands the genuine reorganization of the whole of the mass work of the communist parties, especially the work in the factories and trade unions, which still represents their weakest sector. In the situation when the toilers are in a state of great ferment, the communists, while taking into account the moods of the masses, must formulate slogans and demands in such a way as to make them arise from the present level of the movement; at the same time they must show the workers the revolutionary way out. This means:

 

(a) that the content and language of agitation and the press must henceforth be addressed to the broadest strata of the proletariat and the toilers .

. . .

(b) securing within the shortest possible time a decisive turn to work in the factories, concentrating the forces of the party organization in the decisive enterprises and raising the political level of the leadership given by the factory nuclei to the daily class struggles;

 

(c) putting an end to the opportunist, defeatist neglect of trade union work and, in particular, work inside the reformist unions and the mass fascist and Christian trade unions .

. . .

(d) really developing mass work among the unemployed, carrying on an untiring fight for social insurance, for all kinds of municipal relief;

 

(e) intensifying revolutionary work in the rural districts, opposing the landlordkulak slogan of a 'united countryside' by the class slogans of the toilers and by the agrarian programmes of the Soviet revolution; developing the fight for all the partial

demands of the peasantry, at the same time opposing the kulak demands which conflict with the interests of the proletariat and the village poor; obtaining a foothold (trade unions of agricultural workers; peasant committees) among the farm

labourers, poor peasants and the semi-proletarian elements of the villages; to win over the basic masses of the small and middle peasants.

. . .

The whole situation demands that the communist parties prepare in good time cadres for underground work, that they seriously tackle the questions of combating provocateurs, that they combine the methods of strict secrecy with securing the best contacts with the masses, and avoiding a schematic structure and work of the underground organizations.

Only the concentration of all the efforts of the party organizations on forming underground factory nuclei and intensifying the work of the communist fractions in all the mass organizations can ensure contacts with the masses and also the

maximum of secrecy and efficiency.

In carrying out these tasks, the communists must utilize all legal possibilities to develop mass work, and to link up legal and illegal work.

 

The thirteenth Plenum of the ECCI calls on all sections of the Comintern to ruthlessly root out opportunism in all its forms, and, above all, right opportunism ([Guttman,] Remmele, Neumann, the defeatists in other countries in their estimate of

the prospects of the German revolution), for unless this is done the communist parties will not be able to lead the working masses up to the victorious struggles for the Soviet power.

 

 

E. For a Revolutionary Way Out of the Crisis—For a Soviet Government

 

 

1. The communist parties must with all resoluteness raise before the masses the task of the revolutionary way out of the crisis of capitalism.

Against the quack recipes of the fascists and the social-fascists for saving decaying capitalism, the communists must prove to the masses that the ills of capitalism are incurable. Therefore, the communists, while defending in every way the demands of the toilers, must untiringly disclose to the masses who are suffering from starvation and exploitation the whole truth, viz, that their catastrophic conditions will grow worse and worse under the blows of the continuous offensive of capitalism, until the toilers succeed in uniting their forces for a counter-blow and the crushing of bourgeois rule.

There is no way out of the general crisis of capitalism other than the one shown by the October Revolution, viz, the overthrow of the exploiting classes by the proletariat, the confiscation of the banks, of the factories, the mines, transport, houses, the stocks of goods of the capitalists, the lands of the landlords, the church and the crown.

 

2. It is necessary to increasingly popularize the living example of the Land of the Soviets and to explain to the toilers and the exploited masses in all capitalist countries how Soviet economy, freed from the anarchy and the crisis [crises] of

capitalism, is in the position to develop unhindered the productive forces on the basis of a socialist plan.

. . .

It is necessary to unfold before the toilers of each country a programme which, basing itself on the experience of the great triumphs of the Soviet workers and collective farmers on all fronts of the class struggle and socialist construction, should, while making allowance for the peculiar conditions of the different countries, show what the Soviet power will give them in their own country.

. . .

3. It is necessary with all insistence to raise the question of power in the mass work of the communist parties. The chief slogan of the Communist International is: Soviet power.

 

The example of the USSR is the example of Bolshevism. Only this example shows the way out, and the way to save the exploited and oppressed in all the imperialist and colonial countries.

The example of Bolshevism is the example of proletarian internationalism. The victory of the socialist revolution is possible only by strengthening the international ties of the revolutionary proletariat. The way of Bolshevism is the way

of uniting the proletarian forces of all nationalities and races, it is the way of their joint struggle hand in hand with the Soviet proletariat against the oppressors and exploiters.

The Plenum of the ECCI obliges all sections of the Communist International to be on their guard at every turn of events, and to exert every effort, without losing a moment, for the revolutionary preparation of the proletariat for the impending

decisive battles for power.



 

 

Comintern

III. International