ON THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT IN
COLONIAL AND SEMI-COLONIAL COUNTRIES
ADOPTED BY THE SIXTH COMINTERN CONGRESS
drafted and introduced by Kuusinen
1 September 1928 Protokoll, vi, 4, p. 154
The sixth congress of the Communist International declares that the theses on the national and colonial question drawn up by Lenin and adopted at the second congress still have full validity, and should serve as a guiding line for the further work of the communist parties. Since the time of the second congress the significance of the colonies and semi-colonies, as factors of crisis in the imperialist world system, has become much more topical. . . .
. . . The insurrection in Shanghai in April 1927 raised the question of the hegemony of the proletariat in the national-revolutionary movement, and finally pushed the native bourgeoisie into the camp of reaction, pro-voking the counterrevolutionary coup d'etat of Chiang Kai-shek.
The independent activity of the workers in the struggle for power, and above all the growth of the peasant movement into agrarian revolution, also impelled the Wuhan Government, which had been established under the leadership of the pettybourgeois wing of the Kuomintang, to go over to the camp of counter-revolution. The revolutionary wave, however, was already beginning to ebb....
Its last powerful onslaught was the insurrection of the heroic Canton proletariat which under the slogan of Soviets attempted to link up the agrarian revolution with the overthrow of the Kuomintang and the establishment of the dictatorship of the workers and peasants.
In India, the policy of British imperialism, which retarded the development of native industry, evoked great dissatisfaction among the Indian bourgeoisie. Their class consolidation, replacing the former division into religious sects and castes . .
. . . confronted British imperialism with a national united front. Fear of the revolutionary movement during the war compelled British imperialism to make concessions to the native bourgeoisie, as shown, in the economic sphere, in higher duties on imported goods, and, in the political sphere, in insignificant parliamentary reforms introduced in 1919.
Nevertheless a strong ferment, expressed in a series of revolutionary outbreaks against British imperialism, was produced among the Indian masses as a result of the ruinous consequences of the imperialist war (famine and epidemics, 1918), the catastrophic deterioration of the position of wide sections of the working population, the influence of the Russian October revolution and of a series of insurrections in other colonial countries (as for example the struggle of the Turkish people for independence).
This first great anti-imperialist movement in India (1919-22) ended with the betrayal by the Indian bourgeoisie of the cause of national revolution. The chief reason for this was the fear of the growing wave of peasant risings, and of the strikes against native employers.
The collapse of the national-revolutionary movement and the gradual decline of bourgeois nationalism enabled British imperialism once more to revert to its policy of hindering India's industrial development. Recent British measures in India show that the objective contradictions between British colonial monopoly and the tendencies towards independent Indian economic development are becoming more accentuated from year to year and are leading to a new deep revolutionary crisis. . . .
In North Africa in 1925 there began a series of rebellions of the Rif Kabyle tribes against French and Spanish imperialism, followed by the rebellion of the Druze tribes in the 'mandated' territory of Syria against French imperialism. In Morocco, the imperialists only succeeded in dealing with these rebellions after a prolonged war. The greater penetration of foreign capital into these countries is already calling into life new social forces. The rise and growth of the urban proletariat is manifested in a wave of mass strikes which is sweeping for the first time over Palestine, Syria, Tunis, and Algeria. Gradually, but very slowly, the peasantry in these countries is also being drawn into the struggle.
The growing economic and military expansion of North American imperialism in the countries of Latin America is transforming this continent into one of the most important focal points of antagonism within the colonial system. The influence of Great Britain, which before the war was decisive in these countries, and reduced many of them to the position of semi-colonies, is, since the war, being replaced by their still closer dependence on the United States. By increased capital exports, North American imperialism is capturing the commanding positions in the economy of these countries, subordinating their governments to its own financial control, and, at the same time, inciting one against the other. . . .
In the majority of cases imperialism has up to now succeeded in suppressing the revolutionary movement in the colonial countries. But all the fundamental questions raised by these movements remain unsolved.
The objective contradiction between the colonial policy of world imperialism and the independent development of the colonial peoples has not been eliminated, either in China, or in India, or in any other of the colonial and semi-colonial countries; on the contrary, the contradiction is becoming more acute; it can be overcome only by the victorious revolutionary struggle of the colonial labouring masses. Until then it will continue to operate in every colony and semi-colony as one of the most powerful objective factors making for revolution.
At the same time, the colonial policy of the imperialist Powers acts as a powerful stimulant to antagonisms and wars between these Powers. These antagonisms are becoming more acute, especially in the semi-colonies, where in spite of the alliances frequently established between the imperialists, they play an important part. Of greatest significance, however, for the development of the revolutionary movement in the colonies, is the contradiction between the imperialist world on the one hand and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the revolutionary labour movement in the capitalist countries on the other.
The establishment of a fighting front between the active forces of the socialist world revolution (the Soviet Union and the revolutionary labour movement in the capitalist countries) on the one side, and between the forces of imperialism on the other, is of decisive importance in the present epoch of world history. The labouring masses of the colonies, struggling against imperialist slavery, represent a most powerful auxiliary force of the socialist world revolution. The colonial countries are the most dangerous sector of the imperialist front. The revolutionary liberation movements of the colonies and semi-colonies are rallying to the banner of the Soviet Union, convinced by bitter experience that there is no salvation for them except in alliance with the revolutionary proletariat. ...
The proletariat of the USSR and the workers' movement in the capitalist countries, headed by the Communist International, are in their turn supporting and will more and more effectively support in action the liberation struggle of all colonial and other dependent peoples; they are the only sure bulwark of the colonial peoples in their struggle for freedom from the imperialist yoke.
Furthermore, alliance with the USSR and the revolutionary proletariat opens for the masses of China, India, and all other colonial and semi-colonial countries the prospect of independent economic and cultural development, avoiding the stage of capitalist domination, perhaps even the development of capitalist relations in general. . . .
There is thus an objective possibility of a non-capitalist path of development for the backward colonies, the possibility that the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the more advanced colonies will be transformed, with the aid of the victorious proletarian dictatorship in other countries, into the proletarian socialist revolution. In favourable objective conditions, this possibility will be converted into a reality, and the path of development determined by struggle and by struggle alone.
Consequently, the theoretical and practical advocacy of this path and the most selfsacrificing struggle for it are the duty of all communists. . . .
Thus, all the basic questions of the revolutionary movement in the colonies and semi-colonies are most closely connected with the great epoch-making struggle between the capitalist and socialist systems, a struggle now being conducted on a world scale by imperialism against the USSR, and within each capitalist country between capitalist class rule and the communist movement. . . .
II. THE CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF
COLONIAL ECONOMY AND OF IMPERIALIST COLONIAL POLICY
The recent history of the colonies can only be understood if it is looked upon as an organic part of the development of capitalist world economy as a whole. . . .
Where the ruling imperialism is in need of a social support in the colonies it first allies itself with the ruling strata of the previous social structure, the feudal lords and the trading and money-lending bourgeoisie, against the majority of the people.
Everywhere imperialism attempts to preserve and to perpetuate all those precapitalist forms of exploitation (especially in the villages) which serve as the basis for the existence of its reactionary allies. . ..
The growth of famines and epidemics, particularly among the pauperized peasantry; the mass expropriation of the land of the native population, the inhuman conditions of labour (on the plantations and mines of the white capitalists, and so on), which at times are worse than open slavery—all this exerts its devastating effect on the colonial population and not infrequently leads to the dying out of whole nationalities. The 'civilizing mission' of the imperialist States in the colonies is in reality that of an executioner.
It is necessary to distinguish between those colonies which have served the capitalist countries as colonizing regions for their surplus population, and which in this way have become extensions of the capitalist system (Australia, Canada, etc.), and those which are exploited by the imperialists primarily as markets for their commodities, as sources of raw material, and as spheres for capital investment. . . .
Colonies of the first type became Dominions, that is, members of the given imperialist system with equal or nearly equal rights. . . .
... In its function as colonial exploiter, the ruling imperialism is related to the colonial country primarily as a parasite, sucking the blood from its economic organisms. The fact that this parasite, in comparison to its victim, represents a highly developed civilization makes it a so much more powerful and dangerous exploiter, but this does not alter the parasitic character of its functions.
Capitalist exploitation in every imperialist country has proceeded by developing productive forces. The specific colonial forms of capitalist exploitation, however, whether operated by the British, French, or any other bourgeoisie, in the final analysis hinder the development of the productive forces of the colonies. The only construction undertaken (railways, harbours, etc.) is what is indispensable for military control of the country, for guaranteeing the uninterrupted operation of the taxation machine, and for the commercial needs of the imperialist country. . . .
Since, however, colonial exploitation presupposes some encouragement of colonial production, this is directed on such lines and promotedonly in such a degree as correspond to the interests of the metropolis, and, in particular, to the interests of the preservation of its colonial monopoly. Part of the peasantry, for example, may be encouraged to turn from grain cultivation to the production of cotton, sugar, or rubber (Sudan, Cuba, Java, Egypt), but this is done in such a way that it not only does not promote the independent economic development of the colonial country, but, on the contrary, reinforces its dependence on the imperialist metropolis. . . .
Real industrialization of the colonial country, in particular the building up of a flourishing engineering industry which would promote the independent development of its productive forces, is not encouraged but, on the contrary, is hindered by the metropolis. This is the essence of its function of colonial enslavement: the colonial country is compelled to sacrifice the interests of its independent development and to play the part of an economic (agrarian raw material) appendage to foreign capitalism...
Since the overwhelming mass of the colonial population is connected with the land and lives in the countryside, the plundering character of the exploitation of the peasantry by imperialism and its allies (the class of landowners, merchants, and money-lenders) acquires special significance. Because of imperialist intervention (imposition of taxes, import of industrial products from the metropolis, etc.), the drawing of the village into a money and commodity economy is accompanied by the pauperization of the peasantry, the destruction of village handicraft industry, etc., and proceeds much more rapidly than was the case in the leading capitalist countries. On the other hand, the retarded industrial development puts narrow limits to the process of proletarianization.
This enormous disproportion between the rapid rate of destruction of the old forms of economy and the slow development of the new has given rise in China, India, Indonesia, Egypt, etc., to an extreme 'land hunger', to agrarian overpopulation, rack-renting, and extreme fragmentation of the land cultivated by the peasantry. . . .
The pitiful attempts to introduce agrarian reforms without damaging the colonial regime are intended to facilitate the gradual conversion of the semi-feudal landowner into a capitalist landlord, and in certain cases to create a thin stratum of kulak peasants. In practice, this only leads to greater pauperization of the overwhelming majority of the peasants, which in its turn paralyses the development of the home market. It is on the basis of these contradictory economic processes that the most important social forces of the colonial movements are developing.
In the period of imperialism, the part played by finance-capital in gaining an economic and political monopoly in the colonies is particularly prominent. This is shown most clearly in the economic results of the export of capital to the colonies. The capital is used primarily in trade; it functions mainly as usurious loan capital and is directed to the task of preserving and strengthening the imperialist machinery of suppression in the colonial country (by means of State loans, etc.), or of gaining full control over the allegedly independent State organs of the native bourgeoisie in semi-colonial countries.
The export of capital to the colonies accelerates the development of capitalist relations there. The part which is invested in production does to some extent accelerate industrial development; but this is not done in ways which promote independence; the intention is rather to strengthen the dependence of the colonial economy on the finance-capital of the imperialist country. . . .
The favourite form of investment in agriculture is in large plantations, with the object of producing cheap food and monopolizing vast sources of raw material. The transference to the metropolis of the greater part of the surplus value extorted from the cheap labour power of the colonial slaves retards the growth of the colonial economy and the development of its productive forces, and is an obstacle to its economic and political emancipation...,
The entire economic policy of imperialism towards the colonies is determined by its anxiety to preserve and increase their dependence, to intensify their exploitation and, as far as possible, to impede their independent development.
Only under the pressure of special circumstances may the bourgeoisie of the imperialist States find themselves compelled to encourage the development of largescale industry in the colonies. . . .
All the twaddle of the imperialists and their lackeys about the policy of decolonization being pursued by the imperialist Powers, about encouraging the 'free development of the colonies', is nothing but an imperialist lie. It is of the utmost importance for communists in the imperialist and the colonial countries to expose these lies.
III. ON COMMUNIST STRATEGY AND TACTICS
IN CHINA, INDIA, AND SIMILAR COLONIAL COUNTRIES
As in all colonies and semi-colonies, so also in China and India the development of productive forces and the socialization of labour stand at a comparatively low level. This circumstance, together with foreign domination and the presence of strong survivals of feudalism and precapitalist relations, determine the character of the next stage of the revolution in these countries. The revolutionary movement there is at the stage of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, i.e. the stage when the prerequisites for proletarian dictatorship and socialist revolution are being prepared. Corresponding to this, the general basic tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the colonies and semi-colonies may be laid down as follows:
A shifting in the relationship of forces in favour of the proletariat; emancipation of the country from the yoke of imperialism (nationalization of foreign concessions, railways, banks, etc.) and the establishment of national unity where this has not yet been attained; overthrow of the power of the exploiting classes at whose back imperialism stands; organization of Soviets of workers and peasants and of a Red Army; establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry; consolidation of the hegemony of the proletariat;
The carrying through of the agrarian revolution; freeing the peasants from all pre-capitalist and colonial forms of exploitation and bondage; nationalization of the land; radical measures for alleviating the position of the peasantry with the object of establishing the closest possible economic and political union between town and country;
Parallel with the further development of industry, transport, etc., and with the corresponding growth of the proletariat, the extension of trade unions, strengthening of the communist party and its conquest of a solid leading position among the working masses, the eight-hour working day. . . .
How far the bourgeois-democratic revolution will be able in practice to accomplish all its basic tasks, and how far these tasks will be achieved only by the socialist revolution, will depend on the course of the revolutionary movement of the workers and peasants, its successes or defeats in the struggle against the imperialists, feudal lords, and the bourgeoisie. In particular, colonial emancipation from the imperialist yoke will be facilitated by the development of the socialist revolution in the capitalist world and can only be completely guaranteed by the victory of the proletariat in the leading capitalist countries.
The transition of the revolution to the socialist phase demands the presence of certain minimum prerequisites, as, for example, a certain level of industrial development, of trade union organization, and a strong communist party. The most important is the development of a strong communist party with mass influence; this would be an extremely slow and difficult process were it not accelerated by the bourgeois-democratic revolution, which is already developing as a result of the objective conditions in these countries.
The bourgeois-democratic revolution in the colonies is distinguished from the bourgeois-democratic revolution in an independent country chiefly in that it is organically linked with the national liberation struggle against imperialist domination. The national factor exerts considerable influence on the revolutionary process in all colonies, as well as in those semi-colonies where imperialist enslavement already appears in its naked form and drives the masses to revolt. On the one hand, national oppression hastens the ripening of the revolutionary crisis, intensifies the dissatisfaction of the masses of workers and peasants, facilitates their mobilization, and endows their revolutionary outbursts with the elemental character of a genuine popular revolution. On the other hand, the national factor not only influences the movement of the working class and peasantry, but can also modify the attitude of all other classes in the course of the revolution. Above all, the poor urban petty bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia are during the early stages brought largely under the influence of the active revolutionary forces; secondly, the position of the colonial bourgeoisie in the bourgeois-democratic revolution is for the most part ambiguous, and their vacillations, corresponding to the course of the revolution, are even greater than in an independent country. . . .
Together with the national liberation struggle, the agrarian revolution constitutes the axis of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the more advanced colonial countries. That is why communists must follow with the greatest attention the development of the agrarian crisis and the intensification of class contradictions on the land; they must from the outset give a consciously revolutionary direction to the discontent of the workers and to the incipient peasant movement, turning it against imperialist exploitation and bondage and against the yoke of the various pre-capitalist (feudal and semi-feudal) conditions under which peasant economy is suffering, declining, and perishing. . . .
The national bourgeoisie in these colonial countries do not adopt a uniform attitude to imperialism. One part, more especially the commercial bourgeoisie, directly serves the interests of imperialist capital (the so-called compradore bourgeoisie). In general, they maintain, more or less consistently, an anti-national, imperialist point of view, directed against the whole nationalist movement, as do the feudal allies of imperialism and the more highly paid native officials. The other parts of the native bourgeoisie, especially those representing the interests of native industry, support the national movement; this tendency, vacillating and inclined to compromise, may be called national reformism. . . .
In order to strengthen its position in relation to imperialism, bourgeois nationalism in these colonies tries to win the support of the petty bourgeoisie, of the peasantry, and in part also of the working class. Since it has little prospect of success among the workers (once they have become politically awake), it becomes the more important for it to obtain support from the peasantry.
Here precisely is the weakest point of the colonial bourgeoisie. The unbearable exploitation of the colonial peasantry can only be ended by the agrarian revolution.
The bourgeoisie of China, India, and Egypt are by their immediate interests so closely bound up with landlordism, usury capital, and the exploitation of the peasant masses in general, that they oppose not only the agrarian revolution but also every decisive agrarian reform. They fear, and not without reason, that even the open formulation of the agrarian question will stimulate and accelerate the revolutionary ferment in the peasant masses. Thus, the reformist bourgeoisie cannot bring themselves to approach practically this urgent question....
In every conflict with imperialism they attempt, on the one hand, to make a great show of their nationalist 'firmness' of principle, and, on the other, to spread illusions about the possibility of a peaceful compromise with imperialism. In both respects the masses are doomed to disappointment, and in this way they gradually outlive their reformist illusions.
An incorrect appraisal of the national-reformist tendency of the bourgeoisie in these colonial countries may give rise to serious errors in the strategy and tactics of the communist parties concerned. . . .
The petty bourgeoisie in the colonial and semi-colonial countries play a very important role. They consist of various strata, which in different stages of the national-revolutionary movement play very diverse roles. . . .
The petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, the students, and others are very frequently the most determined representatives not only of the specific interests of the petty bourgeoisie, but also of the general objective interests of the entire national bourgeoisie. In the early stages of the national movement they often appear as spokesmen of the nationalist struggle. Their role on the surface of the movement is comparatively important. In general, they cannot represent peasant interests, for the social strata from which they come are connected with landlordism. The advance of the revolutionary wave may drive them into the labour movement, into which they carry their hesitating and irresolute petty-bourgeois ideology. Only a few of them in the course of the struggle are able to break with their own class and rise to an understanding of the tasks of the class struggle of the proletariat, and to become active defenders of proletarian interests. Frequently the petty-bourgeois intellectuals give to their ideology a socialist or even communist colour. In the struggle against imperialism they have played, and in such countries as India and Egypt still play, a revolutionary role. The mass movement may draw them in, but may also push them into the camp of extreme reaction, or encourage the spread of Utopian reactionary tendencies in their ranks. . . .
The peasantry, as well as the proletariat and as its ally, is a driving force of the revolution. The immense many-millioned peasant mass constitutes the overwhelming majority of the population even in the most developed colonies (in many it is 90 per cent of the population)....
The peasantry can only achieve its emancipation under the leadership of the proletariat, while the proletariat can only lead the bourgeois-democratic revolution to victory in union with the peasantry.
The process of class differentiation among the peasants in the colonies and semicolonies where feudal and pre-capitalist survivals are widespread proceeds at a comparatively slow rate. Nevertheless, market relationships in these countries have developed to such a degree that the peasants are no longer a homogeneous mass as to their class. In the villages of China and India, particularly in certain parts of these countries, it is already possible to find exploiting elements, originally peasants, who exploit the peasants and village labourers through usury, trade, employment of hired labour, the sale or leasing of land, the lending of cattle or agricultural implements, etc., etc.
In general it is possible that, in the early stages of the peasantry's fight against the landlords, the proletariat may be able to win leadership of the entire peasantry. But, as the struggle develops, some of the upper strata of the peasantry may pass into the camp of counter-revolution. The proletariat can win leadership of the peasantry only if it fights for its partial demands, for the complete carrying through of the agrarian revolution, only if it takes the lead in the struggle of the peasant masses for a revolutionary solution of the agrarian question.
The working class in the colonies and semi-colonies has characteristic features which are important in the formation of an independent working-class movement and proletarian class ideology in these countries. The greater part of the colonial proletariat comes from the pauperized village, with which the worker retains his connexion even when engaged in industry. In the majority of colonies (with the exception of some large industrial towns such as Shanghai, Bombay, Calcutta, etc.) we find, as a general rule, only the first generation of a proletariat engaged in large-scale production. The rest is made up of ruined artisans driven from the decaying handicrafts, which are widespread even in the most advanced colonies. The ruined artisan, the small property-owner, carries with him into the working class the narrow craft sentiments and ideology through which nationalreformist influence can penetrate the colonial labour movement....
... At first the interests of the struggle for their class rule compel the most important bourgeois parties in India and Egypt (Swarajists, Wafdists) to demonstrate their opposition to the ruling imperialist-feudal bloc. Although this opposition is not revolutionary, but reformist and opportunist, this does not mean that it has no special significance. The national bourgeoisie are not significant as a force in the struggle against imperialism. Nevertheless, this bourgeois-reformist opposition has a real and specific significance for the development of the revolutionary movement—and this in both a negative and a positive sense—in so far as it has any mass influence at all.
What is important about it is that it obstructs and retards the development of the revolutionary movement, in so far as it secures a following among the working masses and holds them back from the revolutionary struggle. On the other hand, bourgeois opposition to the ruling imperialist-feudal bloc, even if it does not go very far, can accelerate the political awakening of the broad working masses; open conflicts between the national-reformist bourgeoisie and imperialism, although of little significance in themselves, may, under certain conditions, indirectly serve as the starting-point of great revolutionary mass actions.
It is true the reformist bourgeoisie try to check any such outcome to their oppositional activities, and in one way or another to prevent it in advance. But wherever the objective conditions exist for a deep political crisis, the activities of the national-reformist opposition, even their insignificant conflicts with imperialism which have virtually no connexion with revolution, may acquire serious importance.
Communists must learn how to utilize each and every conflict, to expand such conflicts and to broaden their significance, to link them with the agitation for revolutionary slogans, to spread the news of these conflicts among the masses, to arouse these masses to independent, open manifestations in support of their own demands, etc.
The correct tactics in the struggle against such parties as the Swarajists and Wafdists during this stage consist in the successful exposure of their real nationalreformist character. These parties have more than once betrayed the nationalliberation struggle, but they have not yet finally passed over, like the Kuomintang, to the counter-revolutionary camp. There is no doubt that they will do this later on, but at present they are particularly dangerous precisely because their real physiognomy has not yet been exposed in the eyes of the masses. …
If the communists do not succeed at this stage in shaking the faith of the masses in the bourgeois nationalreformist leadership of the national movement, then in the next advance of the revolutionary wave this leadership will represent an enormous danger for the revolution. . . .
It is necessary to expose the half-heartedness and vacillation of these leaders in the national struggle, their bargainings and attempts to reach a compromise with British imperialism, their previous capitulations and counterrevolutionary advances, their reactionary resistance to the class demands of the proletariat and peasantry, their empty nationalist phraseology, their dissemination of harmful illusions about the peaceful decolonization of the country and their sabotage of the application of revolutionary methods in the national struggle for liberation.
The formation of any kind of bloc between the communist party and the nationalreformist opposition must be rejected; this does not exclude temporary agreements and the co-ordination of activities in particular anti-imperialist actions, provided that the activities of the bourgeois opposition can be utilized to develop the mass movement, and that these agreements do not in any way restrict communist freedom of agitation among the masses and their organizations. Of course, in this work the communists must at the same time carry on the most relentless ideological and political struggle against bourgeois nationalism and against the slightest signs of its influence inside the labour movement. . . .
An incorrect understanding of the basic character of the party of the big national bourgeoisie gives rise to the danger of an incorrect appraisal of the character and role of the petty-bourgeois parties. The development of these parties, as a general rule, follows a course from the national-revolutionary to the nationalreformist position. Even such movements as Sun Yat-senism in China, Gandhism in India, Sarekat Islam in Indonesia, were originally in their ideology radical pettybourgeois movements which, however, were later converted by service to the big bourgeoisie into bourgeois national-reformist movements. Since then, in India, Egypt, and Indonesia, a radical wing has again arisen among the petty-bourgeois groups (e.g. the Republican Party, Watanists, Sarekat Rakjat), which stand for a more or less consistent national-revolutionary point of view. In such a country as India, the rise of some such radical petty-bourgeois parties and groups is possible. . ..
It is absolutely essential that the communist parties in these countries should from the very outset demarcate themselves in the most clear-cut fashion, both politically and organizationally, from all petty-bourgeois groups and parties. In so far as the needs of the revolutionary struggle demand it, temporary co-operation is permissible, and in certain circumstances even a temporary alliance between the communist party and the national-revolutionary movement, provided that the latter is a genuine revolutionary movement, that it genuinely struggles against the ruling power, and that its representatives do not hamper the communists in their work of revolutionary education among the peasants and the working masses. In all such cooperation, however, it is essential to take the most careful precautions against its degenerating into a fusion of the communist movement with the petty-bourgeois revolutionary movement. . . .
IV. THE IMMEDIATE TASKS OF THE COMMUNISTS
The building up and development of the communist parties in the colonies and semi-colonies, the elimination of the excessive discrepancy between the objective revolutionary situation and the weakness of the subjective factor, is one of the most important and urgent tasks of the Communist International. In this task it encounters a whole host of objective difficulties, determined by the historical development and social structure of these countries. . . .
The communist parties in the colonial and semi-colonial countries must make every effort to create a cadre of party functionaries from the ranks of the working class itself, utilizing intellectuals in the party as directors and lecturers for propagandist circles and legal and illegal party schools, to train the advanced workers as agitators, propagandists, organizers, and leaders permeated by the spirit of Leninism. The communist parties in the colonial countries must also become genuinely communist parties in their social composition. While drawing into their ranks the best elements of the revolutionary intelligentsia, becoming steeled in the daily struggle and in great revolutionary battles, the communist parties must give their chief attention to strengthening the party organization in the factories and mines, among transport workers, and among the semi-slaves in the plantations. . . .
Together with developing the communist party itself, the most important of the immediate general tasks in the colonies and semi-colonies is that of work in the trade unions. . . .
Communists must conduct revolutionary propaganda in reactionary trade unions with mass working-class membership. In those countries where circumstances dictate the need to establish separate revolutionary trade unions (because the reactionary trade union leadership hinders the organization of the unorganized workers, acts in opposition to the most elementary demands of trade union democracy, and converts the trade unions into strike-breaking organizations), the leadership of the RILU must be consulted.
Special attention needs to be given to the intrigues of the Amsterdam International in the colonial countries (China, India, North Africa) and to the exposure of its reactionary character before the masses. It is obligatory for the communist party in the metropolis concerned to afford active help to the revolutionary trade union movement of the colony by advice and by the dispatch of permanent instructors. Up to now too little has been done in this connexion.
Wherever peasant organizations exist—regardless of their character, as long as they are real mass organizations—the communist party must take steps to penetrate into these organizations. One of the most urgent tasks of the party is to present the agrarian question correctly to the working class, explaining the importance and decisive role of the agrarian revolution, and making members of the party familiar with methods of agitation, propaganda, and organizational work among the peasantry....
Communists must everywhere attempt to give a revolutionary character to the existing peasant movement. They must also organize new revolutionary peasant unions and peasant committees, and maintain regular contact with them. Both in the peasant masses and in the ranks of the proletariat, it is essential to carry on energetic propaganda in favour of a fighting bloc of the proletariat and peasantry.
Special workers' and peasants' parties, however revolutionary their character may be at particular periods, may all too easily change into ordinary petty-bourgeois parties; hence it is not advisable to organize such parties. The communist party should never build its organization on the basis of a fusion of two classes; as little should it make use of this basis, characteristic of petty-bourgeois groups, in its task of organizing other parties. . . .
In China, the rising wave of the revolution will once more confront the party with the immediate practical task of preparing for and carrying through armed insurrection as the only way to complete the bourgeois-democratic revolution and overthrow the power of the imperialists, landlords, and national bourgeoisie—the power of the Kuomintang.
In existing circumstances, characterized primarily by the absence of a revolutionary impulse among the broad masses of the Chinese people, the party's chief task is the struggle for the masses.
... At the same time, the party must explain to the masses the impossibility of a radical improvement in their position, the impossibility of the overthrow of imperialist rule and of accomplishing the tasks of the agrarian revolution, unless the power of the Kuomintang and militarists is destroyed and a Soviet regime established.
The party must utilize every conflict, however insignificant, between the workers and the capitalists in the factories, between the peasants and landlords in the villages, between the soldiers and officers in the army, deepening and sharpening these class clashes in order to mobilize the broadest masses of workers and peasants and to win them to its side. The party must utilize every act of violence by international imperialism against the Chinese people, which at present takes the form of the military conquest of different regions, as well as all the bloody exploits of infuriated reaction, to widen the popular protest of the masses against the ruling classes.
Within the party, attention must be concentrated on restoring the cells and local party committees destroyed by the reaction, on improving the social composition of the party, and establishing cells in the most important industries, the largest factories and railway workshops. The most serious attention must be given by the CCP to the social composition of village party organizations, to ensure that they consist of the proletarian, semi-proletarian, and poor rural strata. . . .
The basic tasks of the Indian communists consist in the struggle against British imperialism for the emancipation of the country, the destruction of all survivals of feudalism, the agrarian revolution, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry in the form of a Soviet republic. These tasks can be successfully carried out only if a powerful communist party is created, able to place itself at the head of the broad masses of the working class, the peasantry, and all the toilers, and to lead them in armed insurrection against the feudal-imperialist bloc. . . .
The union of all communist groups and individual communists scattered throughout the country into a single, illegal, independent and centralized party is the first task of Indian communists. While rejecting the principle of building the party on a two-class basis, communists must utilize the connexions of the existing workers' and peasants' parties with the labouring masses to strengthen their own party, bearing in mind that the hegemony of the proletariat cannot be realized without the existence of a consolidated steadfast communist party, armed with the theory of Marxism. . . .
The communists must unmask the national-reformism of the Indian National Congress and, in opposition to all the talk of the Swarajists, Gandhists, etc., about passive resistance, advance the irreconcilable slogan of armed struggle for the emancipation of the country and the expulsion of the imperialists.
In relation to the peasantry and peasant organizations the Indian communists are faced first and foremost with the task of informing the peasant masses about the general demands of the party on the agrarian question, for which purpose the party must work out an agrarian programme of action. Through workers connected with the village, as well as directly, the communists must stimulate the struggle of the peasantry for partial demands, and in the process of the struggle organize peasant unions. It is essential to make sure that the newly created peasant organizations do not fall under the influence of exploiting strata in the village. . . .
It must be remembered that in no circumstances can communists relinquish their right to open criticism of the opportunist and reformist tactics of the leadership of those mass organizations in which they work.
In Indonesia the suppression of the rising of 1926, the arrest and exile of thousands of members of the communist party, seriously disorganized its ranks. The need to rebuild the destroyed party organizations demands from the party new methods of work, corresponding to the illegal conditions created by the police regime of Dutch imperialism. The concentration of party activities on the places where the town and village proletariat is concentrated, the factories and plantations; restoration of the dissolved trade unions and the struggle for their legalization; special attention to the practical partial demands of the peasantry; development and strengthening of peasant organizational work within all the mass nationalist organizations, in which the communist party must establish fractions and rally to itself the national-revolutionary elements; resolute struggle against the Dutch socialdemocrats who, supported by the Government, are attempting to secure a foothold for themselves among the native proletariat; winning over the numerous Chinese workers for the class struggle and national-revolutionary struggle, and the establishment of connexions with the communist movement in China and India— these are some of the most important tasks of the Indonesian Communist Party. . . .
In Egypt the communist party will be able to play an important part in the national movement only if it is based on the organized proletariat. The organization of trade unions among the Egyptian workers, the intensification of the class struggle, and leadership in that struggle are, consequently, the first and most important tasks of the communist party. The greatest danger to the trade union movement in Egypt at the present time lies in the bourgeois nationalists getting control of the unions.
Without a decisive struggle against their influence, a genuine class organization of the workers is impossible. One of the most marked failings of the Egyptian communists in the past has been their exclusive concentration on the urban workers.
The correct formulation of the agrarian question, the gradual drawing into the revolutionary struggle of the broad masses of agricultural workers and peasants, and the organization of these masses are some of the most important tasks for the party.
Special attention should be devoted to the building up of the party itself, which is still very weak.
In the French colonies of North Africa the communists must work in all existing national-revolutionary mass organizations in order to bring together the genuinely revolutionary elements, on a consistent and clear platform, into a fighting bloc of workers and peasants. As far as the organization Etoile Nord Africaine is concerned, the communists must work to ensure its development, not into a party, but into a fighting bloc of the different revolutionary organizations, to which the trade unions of industrial and agricultural workers, peasant unions, etc. are collectively affiliated; the leading part must be secured for the revolutionary proletariat, and for this purpose it is necessary, above all, to develop the trade union movement as the most important organizational channel for communist influence over the masses. It must be our constant task to establish ever closer co-operation between the revolutionary sections of the white proletariat and the native working class.. . .
The communist organizations in each individual country must attract into their ranks in the first place the native workers, fighting against any negligent attitude towards them. The communist parties, genuinely based on the native proletariat, must formally and in fact become independent sections of the Communist International.
In connexion with the colonial question, the sixth congress draws the special attention of the communist parties to the Negro question. The position of the Negroes varies in different countries, and accordingly requires concrete investigation and analysis. The territories in which compact Negro masses are to be found can be divided into the following groups:
the United States and some South American countries, in which the compact Negro masses constitute a minority in relation to the white population;
the Union of South Africa, where the Negroes are the majority in relation to the white colonists;
the Negro States which are actually colonies or semi-colonies of imperialism (Liberia, Haiti, Santo Domingo); the whole of Central Africa, divided into the colonies and mandated territories of various imperialist powers (Great Britain, France, Portugal, etc.). The tasks of the communist parties have to be defined according to the concrete situation. . . .
In the Union of South Africa, the Negro masses, who constitute the majority of the population and whose land is being expropriated by the white colonists and by the State, are deprived of political rights and of freedom of movement, are exposed to the worst kinds of racial and class oppression, and suffer simultaneously from pre-capitalist and capitalist methods of exploitation and oppression.
The communist party, which has already had some successes among the Negro proletariat, has the duty of continuing still more energetically the struggle for complete equality of rights for the Negroes, for the abolition of all special regulations and laws directed against Negroes, and for confiscation of the estates of the landlords. In drawing into its ranks Negro workers, organizing them in trade unions, fighting for their admission into the trade unions of white workers, the communist party is obliged to struggle by every means against racial prejudice among white workers and to eradicate such prejudices entirely from its own ranks. The party must vigorously and consistently advance the slogan of the creation of an independent Native Republic, with guarantees for the rights of the white minority, and translate this fight into action.. . .
The tasks of the communist parties of the imperialist countries in the colonial question bear a threefold character.
First, the establishment of lively connexions between the communist parties and the revolutionary trade union organizations of the metropolitan countries and the corresponding organizations of the colonies. The connexions hitherto established cannot, with a few exceptions, be regarded as adequate. This fact can only in part be explained by objective difficulties. It must be admitted that, up to now, not all the parties in the Communist International have fully grasped the decisive importance which the establishment of close, regular, and unbroken relations with the revolutionary movements in the colonies has in affording these movements active and direct practical help. Only in so far as the communist parties of the imperialist countries really support the revolutionary movement in the colonies, in so far as their help actually widens the struggle of the colonial countries against imperialism, can their position on the colonial question be recognized as a genuinely bolshevik one. This is the criterion for their revolutionary activity in general.
The second category of tasks consists in practical support of the struggle of the colonial peoples against imperialism through the organization of effective mass actions by the proletariat. In this respect, too, the activity of the communist parties of the big capitalist countries has been insufficient. The preparation and organization of such demonstrations of solidarity must without fail become one of the basic elements of communist agitation among the working masses of the capitalist countries. …
A special task in this category is the struggle against missionary organizations, which act as one of the most effective levers of imperialist expansion and of the enslavement of the colonial peoples.
While striving for the immediate recall of the armed forces of imperialism from the oppressed countries, the communist parties must work unceasingly to organize mass actions to prevent the transport of troops and munitions to the colonies.
Systematic agitational and organizational work among the troops for fraternization with the rebellious masses in the colonies must serve as preparation for the desertion of the occupation armies to the side of the workers and peasants and their armed forces.
The struggle against the colonial policy of social-democracy must be looked upon by the communist party as an organic part of its struggle against imperialism. The
Second International, by the position it adopted on the colonial question at its last congress in Brussels, has finally sanctioned what the practical activity of the different socialist [parties of the imperialist] countries during the post-war years had already made quite clear: the colonial policy of social-democracy is a policy of active support of imperialism in the exploitation and oppression of the colonial peoples. It has officially adopted the point of view which lies at the basis of the 'League of Nations', according to which the ruling classes of the developed capitalist countries have the 'right' to rule over the majority of the peoples of the globe and to subject these peoples to a frightful regime of exploitation and enslavement.
In order to deceive a part of the working class and to secure its cooperation in maintaining the robber colonial regime, social-democracy defends the most shameful and repulsive exploits of imperialism in the colonies. It conceals the real nature of the capitalist colonial system, it keeps silent about the connexion between colonial policy and the danger of a new imperialist war which is threatening the proletariat and labouring masses of the whole world. Wherever the indignation of the colonial peoples finds an outlet in the struggle against imperialism, social-democracy, for all its lying phrases, in fact always stands on the side of the imperialist executioners of the revolution.