THESES

OF THE EIGHTH ECCI PLENUM ON WAR

AND THE DANGER OF WAR


29 May 1927

Inprekorr, vii, 61, p. 1285, 10 June 1927

 

EXTRACTS

 

 

 


TACTICAL QUESTIONS OF THE STRUGGLE AGAINST IMPERIALIST WAR

 

 

26.

 

Lenin's attitude to war determines communist party tactics for an entire historical epoch, the epoch of imperialist war. Slogans such as 'War on war', 'Turn imperialist war into civil war', or 'For the defeat of one' s own bourgeois government in an imperialist war', are even today classic examples of genuine revolutionary internationalism. It is one of the merits of Leninism that it deals with questions of war in terms of their concrete historical conditioning. It defines three types of war:

 

(a)

wars fought between imperialist States;

 

(b)

national-revolutionary wars, and wars of colonial peoples against imperialism (China); (c) wars of the capitalist counterrevolution against the proletarian revolution and against the countries in which socialism is being built. It remains for the Comintern to translate the general treatment of the war question into concrete terms. . . .

 

 

27.

 

(a)

Bolshevism is utterly opposed to a superficial treatment of the war question. In his draft directives for the Russian delegation to the Hague conference Lenin expressly warned it against treating the question of the methods of fighting war thoughtlessly. He recommended all communist parties to study the real circumstances in which war arose. . . .

 

(b)

Using the example of the 1914 war, bolshevism exposes the treachery of those who substitute empty phrases for serious and stubborn preparation of the struggle against war....

It also fights against both anarcho-syndicalism and the old Herve school who admittedly advocated a 'general strike', a 'revolt', the 'sabotage of mobilization', but took no single practical step in preparation for the fight against war. . . .

 

 

29.

 

. . . what conclusions are the communist parties to draw in the present situation?

 

(a)

Bolshevism focuses the anti-war struggle on the mass movement and mass struggle. Activity among the masses in the factory, the unions, the countryside, the army—that is the task of communists before and during the war, that is the way to

transform the war into a civil war.

 

(b)

The extremely difficult conditions in which workers' organizations have to work in war-time .. .

oblige the communist parties to be ready for war at any time.

Communists must begin the fight against war ... at the time when war is being prepared.

 

(c)

Both before the outbreak of war and in war-time the communist parties must work persistently to set up an illegal apparatus for the fight against war; they should not however confine themselves to these underground activities, but by

revolutionary action win freedom to agitate, and to lead the masses on to the streets in the fight to turn the imperialist war into a civil war, to capture power through the proletariat, to overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish the proletarian dictatorship.

 

(d)

... The fight against war is not a single action; it requires great sacrifices from the working class, a series of mass actions (demonstrations, strikes in armament factories, etc.) which culminate in the victorious rising of the proletariat. Communist

parties must do their utmost to extend these mass actions into a general strike. The Comintern realizes that in the case of a war between two imperialist Powers it is extremely difficult to bring off a general strike at the moment when war breaks out,

but it is none the less absolutely essential for communist parties in all capitalist countries to conduct continuous propaganda and agitation for the general strike, both before and during the war.

It should be borne in mind that the moment for making the general strike slogan a slogan of action depends on the revolutionary development of the situation, i.e. when the general strike becomes practical. During its course communists must aim steadily at turning the general strike into an armed revolt.

 

 

30.

 

War against China and the Soviet Union is not an ordinary war. It is imperialist war par excellence. . . .

 

(a)

It is a special kind of war because it is openly a class war. . . . Every honest worker in the imperialist countries understands this.

 

(b)

The 'fatherland defence' fetish is irrelevant for the peoples of the imperialist countries in the present war against China. Nobody in his senses believes that China threatens the British Isles. Therefore the bourgeoisie and their lackeys are forced to

substitute for 'defence of the fatherland' such sophistries as 'defence of property', 'defence of interests', 'defence of prestige', 'defence of the flag', 'defence of civilization against bolshevism', etc. . . .

 

31.

 

Consequently there are better possibilities for the fight against war now than there were in 1914-18. Communist parties are therefore required :

 

(a)

In imperialist war par excellence, waged against China and (prospectively) against the Soviet Union; the workers in the capitalist countries waging this war must, as in all imperialist wars, be defeatists in regard to their own capitalist

governments.

 

(b)

In an ordinary imperialist war the workers must be in favour of the defeat of their own government; still more, in the imperialist and counter-revolutionary war against the Chinese revolution (represented today by Wuhan) or against the Soviet

Union, they must fight actively for the victory of the working masses of China and the Soviet Union.

 

(c)

The slogan of fraternization . . . remains one of the most important in antimilitarist work among the soldiers and sailors of imperialist armies and navies. ...

In imperialist war against China and the Soviet Union, this slogan must be linked with the demand to the soldiers in the imperialist armies to go over at a suitable moment to the side of the revolutionary troops. . . .

 

 

 

ERRORS AND DEFECTS IN COMMUNIST PARTY WORK

 

 

37.

 

To be fully equal to the demands of the fight against war, both the Comintern as a whole and its sections must ruthlessly expose and correct their mistakes and

failings.

 

(a)

Practically all sections of the Comintern underestimate the war danger. All communist parties behave as if war were a matter of the more or less distant future, and not the bloody reality of today. . . .

 

(b)

A number of Comintern sections fail to link questions of domestic policy with international problems. . . .

 

(c)

One of the weaknesses of some comrades in our sections is their underestimation of the role of their own imperialism. . . . The error of the Dutch

Communist Party was particularly marked; in the first stage of the Indonesian revolt it confined itself to demanding the dispatch of a commission of inquiry, and quite forgot such elementary demands as the withdrawal of Dutch troops from Indonesia or recognition of the right of secession for Indonesia.

Objectively such 'mistakes' are a capitulation to imperialism. . .

 

 

 

COMMUNIST PARTY TASKS

 

 

38.

 

What are the chief tasks of the Comintern and its sections in the struggle against the present war in China and against the danger of war on the Soviet Union?

 

(i)

The central slogan must be 'Defence of the Chinese and Russian revolutions'. .

. . The communist parties must explain to the masses that without revolutionary mass action no real fight against war is possible, that pacifism is merely deception, that the fight for a lasting peace and the prevention of war is tantamount to the

overthrow of bourgeois government and the establishment of proletarian dictatorship.

 

(ii)

Unceasing propaganda . . . against the imperialist war in China, denouncing its predatory character, the treachery of the social-democratic and reformist trade union leaders. . . .

 

(iv)

Exposure of the international intrigues against the Soviet Union; mobilizing the masses in its defence under the slogan 'The international proletariat defends its fatherland'.

 

(v)

Agitation for a general strike against war. . . .

 

(vi)

Mass demonstrations before the embassies of those countries taking part in the punitive expedition against China. . . .

 

(x)

Formation of action committees under the slogan 'hands off China and the Soviet Union', drawing in the trade unions. . . . More vigorous application of united front tactics. . . .

 

(xi)

International struggle against fascism, as an armed force of the counterrevolution.

. . .

(xv)

The communist parties of all countries must give special attention to the formation of non-party organizations to bring together those who sympathize with the proletarian struggle for emancipation, with the working masses of the colonies,

and who really hate the capitalist system with its oppression, wars, and exploitation (e.g. the League of Struggle against Colonial Oppression).

 

(xvi)

More intense work in the army and navy.

 

(xvii)

More intense activity in the colonies.

 

(xix)

Greater internationalization of the Comintern sections. . . . Closer contact between the Comintern sections in the common struggle against war.

 

 

Comintern

III. International