THESES

ON THE CURRENT QUESTIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIST MOVEMENT

PASSED BY THE SIXTH ECCI PLENUM

March 1926

Inprekorr, vi, 68, p. 1025, 5 May 1926

 

EXTRACTS

 

I.

CAPITALIST 'STABILIZATION' AND THE TACTICS OF WORLD REVOLUTION

 

... In the past year it was hoped to conceal the true picture of the situation in the capitalist world, that immense complex of contradictions created by the war, behind a mask intended to mislead the working masses. That mask is the treaty of Locarno.
The objective significance of this treaty is:

 

1.

American capitalism is consolidating its interests, as opposed to the interests of capitalist Europe ('pacification' of Europe as a guarantee that the debtors will 'work' and so be in a position to pay interest to America). At the same time Locarno represents the first, albeit weak, attempt on the part of the debtors to unite against America. . . .

 

2.

English imperialism, through this treaty, is defending its special interests as against France. . . .

3.

The French bourgeoisie are protecting their special interests as against Germany....

At the same time Locarno registers the failure of the French attempt to establish hegemony over the European continent.

 

4.

With the support of French imperialism, English imperialism is using Locarno to build up a front against the Soviet Union, to isolate it and to win Germany over to this policy.
These methods of 'ensuring peace' through the League of Nations . . . have turned out in practice to be methods of preparing new wars. Pacifist illusions, bound up with belief in the League of Nations, and particularly in Locarno, undoubtedly exist to a certain degree among the working masses. They are nourished by the socialdemocratic leaders, who take a hand in the deceitful policy of the League of Nations and are converting the Second International into an instrument of that policy. But
the course of events has itself dispelled these illusions. . . .

The idea is gaining ground among ever wider strata of the labouring people that new imperialist wars can be avoided only by a proletarian revolution, that the surest pledge against new
wars is the strengthening of the Soviet Union, and that the only leader of the working masses against predatory wars is the Communist International. . . .
The Communist International rejects the premature conclusion that there can no longer be any kind of capitalist stabilization, but also emphatically rejects, now as before, the conclusion drawn by the social-democratic leaders that capitalism has
already consolidated its position for the duration of an entire historical epoch. . . .

 

 

II.

NEW PHENOMENA IN THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR MOVEMENT
AND UNITED FRONT TACTICS

 


The desire for unity has recently become very marked among the broad working masses of the different countries. . . .

Today it means unity on the platform of class struggle. This is the result of a whole series of circumstances.

 

1.

In a number of the biggest capitalist countries economic development is again making the position of the broad working strata worse, ...

In England unemployment is steadily mounting. The experience of the first 'Labour Government' dealt a serious blow to reformist illusions. The capitalist offensive, which is generating ever broader conflicts (the miners), awakens the consciousness of the need for organized mass action by the working class.
In Germany unemployment has attained gigantic proportions. The economic position of the working class is getting worse from day to day. The ruling classes intend to give the dethroned princes 2 1/2 milliard marks compensation. The government crisis is becoming a permanent one. The burden of taxation is growing heavier.

In France it is the working masses alone who will have to shoulder the consequences of the financial crisis. Events in Syria and Morocco are gradually bringing home to the workers that these are the prelude to new imperialist conflicts.
The chronic parliamentary and cabinet crisis reveals the rottenness of the whole system of bourgeois democracy. . . .

 

2.

In a number of the more important countries of Europe the coalition policy (i.e. the policy of social-democratic participation in bourgeois coalition governments, which will allegedly bring happiness to the workers by peaceful, reformist means) has suffered shipwreck. In the social-democratic parties of France, Germany, and Poland an open struggle is going on about future participation in coalition governments. The representatives of the 'left' wing, who are opposed to
collaboration with the bourgeoisie, voice the misgivings of the social-democratic rank and file. . . .

This does not mean that these social-democratic workers have
finally given up their reformist illusions. Relapses are possible and to some degree inevitable. But, with correct tactics on our part, the period in which reformist illusions can again exert their effect can be shortened, until the social-democratic
workers get rid of them once and for all.

 

3.

A tremendous effect on the broad masses of the social-democratic working class is exercised by the economic progress of the Soviet Union....

The USSR will gradually become a magnet for them. The old calumnies spread by the leaders of international social-democracy about the Soviet Union are being visibly dispelled.
The workers' delegations which have visited the Soviet Union have played and are playing an immense part in the struggle to liberate the social-democratic proletarian from reformist influence.

 

4.

Recently in a number of European countries the social-democratic workers have begun instinctively to sense the approach of the danger of a new imperialist war. . . .

All this generates a spontaneous mass pressure towards unity. . . .
The Communist International and its sections must be resolute and honest in meeting half-way this genuine desire for unity among social-democratic workers.. . .
Of course there can be no question of merging the communist parties with the social-democratic parties. This would be open treachery to the cause of the proletarian revolution, it would be the abandonment of the leading role in history which the proletariat is called on to play. Recognition of the necessity for the existence of an independent communist party is part of the ABC of Marxism- Leninism. The most valuable achievement of the working class in the recent past has been precisely the formation, despite tremendous obstacles, of independent
communist parties in the individual countries, which openly castigate the treachery of the social-democratic leaders, openly propagate the idea of proletarian revolution, and work to prepare it. It is only under the banner of the communist party that the proletariat can—and, we are certain, will—come together in a closed front....
The enlarged Executive of the Communist International calls imperatively on all its sections to act decisively, vigorously, and sincerely in meeting the wish of the social-democratic workers to establish a united front to fight the bourgeoisie, to unite with them in carrying through tactical actions, even under the most modest slogans, and to adopt towards them an attentive, comradely, and correct attitude, in order to make it possible for them to proceed jointly with us against the bourgeoisie.
Nevertheless the Communist International has no reason to revise its estimate of the objective role of social-democracy, and particularly of the social-democratic leaders, including the 'lefts' among them. ... It does not doubt that, in the future as in
the past, the majority of them will sabotage the united front. ... It adheres to the point of view that in no circumstances does the united front mean a parliamentary bloc with the social-democratic leaders, or the amalgamation of the communist with the social-democratic party, the renunciation by the communist party of independent propaganda and agitation. Now as before the Communist International is of the opinion that the united front tactic is but a method of conducting revolutionary
agitation among the masses, mobilizing them and winning the majority of the workers for the Communist International. ... If in so doing our agitation is directed against the social democratic leaders, that is solely because they stand in the way of bringing the workers together in the struggle for their elementary demands. . . .

 

 

III.

THE CRISIS IN THE COMINTERN SECTIONS AND THE FIGHT
AGAINST DEVIATIONS

 

. . . The ultra-left crisis in the Italian Communist Party (Bordiga), which lasted many years, was brought to an end at the last congress. . . .

The correct political line of the Italian CP has already given it substantial successes among the masses and will no doubt yield even better results in the future. . . .
The crisis in the German Communist Party has not yet been completely overcome. After the defeat in the autumn of 1923 and the collapse of the Brandler Zentrale, the Communist International was compelled to give its consent to the 'lefts'
taking over the leadership, although it knew that comrades Maslow, Ruth Fischer, and Scholem were capable of all kinds of marked ultra-left deviations. . . .

Again and again the Communist International warned the party against the incorrect tendencies of these leaders. When at last it became obvious that this group was incapable of adhering to a correct line, and a group of the best workers from among the left had separated themselves from them, resolutely rejecting the Fischer- Maslow group and capable of taking over the leadership of the party, the Communist International supported the removal of the Maslow-Fischer group from the party leadership. For this purpose the International, together with the German delegation then in Moscow, addressed an open letter in August 1925 to all members and organizations of the KPD. Since then the correctness of the open-letter policy has been amply confirmed...
The state of affairs in France is of particular significance for the Communist International. Because of the situation in the country, the CPF will in the near future have a very great part to play. The objective situation is very favourable. The chief
danger threatening this party comes from the right. . . .

The present tasks of the CPF are:

(1)

by a comprehensive educational campaign based on the decisions of the conference of 1-2 December, as well as by democratizing the entire life of the party, to create a state of affairs which will promote differentiation among the right-wing
opposition and win back the best among them to the party;

(2)

to restore discipline in the party, and not to shrink from expelling those elements which refuse to break off relations with Souvarine and Co. . . .
The enlarged Executive of the Communist International approves wholeheartedly the decision of the presidium of the ECCI not to carry over into the sections of the Comintern the discussion about the questions in dispute at the fourteenth congress of the CPSU.

 

 

IV.

THE TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL

1.

Conditions favourable to the triumph of socialism in Europe are maturing steadily; therefore the subjective factors, that is, the determination of the working class, the internal cohesion of the communist parties, their bolshevik character, and the degree of their readiness to accomplish the great historical tasks awaiting them, have a growing importance. While bearing constantly in mind the possibility of delay in the development of the proletarian revolution, the communist parties must nevertheless continue their work of reinforcing their revolutionary character, in order to be equal at any time to the requirements of an accelerated revolutionary tempo. . . .

2.

... In propagating the idea of establishing a United States of Socialist Europe as a means of liberating the proletariat and peoples of Europe from the dual yoke of national and North American capital, the following considerations must be kept in
mind:

(i)

the slogan of a United States of Europe must be regarded as the political expression of relations between socialist Soviet republics arising as the result of a victorious proletarian revolution in the various countries;

(ii)

the victorious European proletarian revolution predicated by this slogan need not be the simultaneous victory of the proletariat in the whole of Europe, but should be understood as an entire period of revolutionary upheavals in the course of which the proletarian revolution triumphs at first in a few countries, or even in only one, and gradually spreads to other countries. ...

A United States of Socialist Europe, in alliance with the Soviet Union, the oppressed peoples, and the socialist core of the American proletariat, would represent such a tremendous force that imperialist America would be powerless against it. . . .

5.

The pressure for unity is the characteristic feature of the mood of the workers throughout the world. The desire for unity, the realization that unless working-class unity is restored the situation is bound to get worse, and the popularity of the unity
slogan, particularly trade union unity, among the working masses are the most prominent features of the present phase of the labour movement.

 

6.

On this foundation united front tactics must be applied with special vigour. Their comprehensive application is only just beginning. . . .

 

7.

At present these tactics are concentrated on the trade union movement. The 'left wing' which is being formed in the labour movement of various countries is largely trade unionist; it follows that communist work in the unions is of growing
importance. Support for the left elements in the unions and their efforts towards unity, the fight to re-establish trade union unity in every country and to form a unified International of unions standing on the platform of class struggle are the principal levers for operating united front tactics. The Communist International declares that in the interests of unity all communists will be prepared to see the Red International of Labour Unions cease to exist as a separate body, and amalgamate with the Amsterdam International on the basis of convening a joint world congress of the two Internationals, each retaining freedom of agitation. It is obvious that until
such an amalgamation occurs every communist must support the RILU to the utmost. The Communist International is in complete agreement with the declaration made by the CC of the CPSU that the affiliation of the Soviet trade unions, which form part of the RILU, to the Amsterdam International is impossible, since in its present form Amsterdam is a tool of the imperialist League of Nations, does not conduct a proletarian class policy, sabotages working-class unity, etc...

 

8.

Two mistakes were frequently made in applying united front tactics:

(a)

In making proposals to social-democratic workers, our parties put forward demands, to be accepted before joint action was organized, which were from the outset unacceptable to workers still thinking along reformist lines. ...

(b)

In their anxiety to reach agreement with the social-democrats, our organizations occasionally undertook not to agitate against the social-democratic party. In other words they renounced the right to conduct communist agitation. . . .


9.

The organizational amalgamation of communist and social-democratic parties, or the fusion of the Second and Third Internationals (recently proposed by the Independent Labour Party in England) are wholly excluded. Impossible proposals of this kind are made by the social-democratic leaders in order to frustrate measures which are possible. . . . The re-establishment of international workingclass unity, the creation of a single International covering all working-class forces is a task of epochal significance which will in time be accomplished by the Communist International. It was precisely to carry out this task that the proletarian vanguard, in severe struggles and faced by tremendous difficulties, created independent proletarian communist parties. . . .

The foundation of independent communist parties, which are alone able to defend the interests of the proletariat as a class consistently and to the end, is an achievement which communists will never renounce.

 

10.

As to the Independent Labour Party's proposal, the enlarged Executive recognizes that it was mainly the result of pressure from the proletarian section of the ILP, who were indignant at the ILP's rejection of the CPGB's proposal for a united front against the capitalist offensive. The enlarged Executive agrees with the CPGB in believing that readiness to establish a united front at home would be the best proof of the sincerity of the demand for an international united front.

 

11.

United front tactics are of course intended primarily for working-class action. But this does not exhaust their possibilities. In favourable circumstances communists should put forward partial demands designed to attract semi-proletarian
and petty-bourgeois strata. . . .

 

12.

In a number of countries differentiation among the peasantry is visibly proceeding, and is having its effect on bourgeois (and Catholic) peasant associations, in which left wings are arising. . . . All CI sections must intensify their work in this field, and bring it into harmony with Comintern activities as a whole.

 

13.

The rise of the national liberation movement and the gradual strengthening of the labour movement in the East are new factors of the utmost significance. It is one of the most urgent tasks today to direct the attention of the European and American workers to them, explaining their importance in the proletarian struggle for emancipation, and the necessity of supporting and collaborating with the struggle for freedom in the East.
It is the duty of the Communist International to give all support to workers' organizations in the East and to draw them into the international proletarian struggle.
The Second International is suddenly beginning to take an interest in these questions. ...

It is trying to check the influence of the Comintern and the Soviet Union in the East. It wants to bring the labour movement of Japan, India, and China under reformist control.
The decision of the ILO to call an all-Asiatic workers' conference is a decisive step in this direction. Attempts are also being made to corrupt the young Indian labour movement by transplanting the reformist ideology of the British trade union
leaders to India. The Communist International must bear this in mind and fight vigorously against such actions of the representatives of the labour aristocracy, designed to serve the imperialist bourgeoisie.

 

14.

The plenum instructs the Executive to pay greater attention to the labour movement in Japan, where there are all the prerequisites for a proletarian mass movement. This is the more necessary as the reformists are already setting out to capture the newly-rising organizations of the Japanese labour movement. . . .

 

15.

Awareness of the inevitability of a new world war ... is growing among the proletarian vanguard throughout the world. The workers are realizing more and more that they can wage the fight against war only in closest co-operation with the Soviet Union. The fight against the war danger takes first place in the question of establishing an international united front. . . .

 

18.

In view of the mass character of unemployment in some important European countries, the Comintern sections in the countries concerned must give the greatest attention to the unemployed. They must organize the unemployed and take over the leadership of this movement. . . .

 

19.

In a few Comintern sections (Bulgaria, Poland) the danger has recently arisen of a terroristic deviation. Because of the regime established by hangman Tsankov, the Bulgarian workers have been seized by a certain enthusiasm for terroristic forms of defence, as seen for example in the Sofia Cathedral explosion,
although the CC of the Bulgarian CP came out strongly against individual acts of terrorism. In Poland also a passing terroristic tendency is to be observed.
The Communist International decisively rejects individual terrorism. In rejecting this method of struggle it is guided exclusively by the principles of revolutionary expediency. This has nothing in common with the petty-bourgeois attitude to the
revolutionary use of force. Every class-conscious proletarian knows that without the use of revolutionary terror the bourgeoisie cannot be overthrown . . . but that is precisely why communists reject the employment of individual terror, since
individual acts which attempt to take the place of the mass struggle can only demoralize our movement, split our forces, and diminish our striking power.

 

20.

The Communist International notes further that in a number of parties there is not even the elementary minimum of inner-party demo-cracy. This has made many recent party crises more acute. . . .

Demo-cratic centralism means not only discipline, but discipline plus the genuine election of the leading committees, freedom of discussion within the party on all questions of concern to the membership (except those on which, with the decision already taken, the party is proceeding to take action), and genuine
individual initiative. . . .

 

21.

The reconstruction of the party on a factory-cell basis has been completely justified. The objections of the French right and the Italian ultra-left are the outcome of their incorrect, anti-bolshevik line of thought.

 

 

Comintern

III. International