100 years


"Left-Wing Communism, an infantile disorder

June 1920 - June 2020


In April and May 1920, Lenin wrote his remarable book "Left-Wing" Communism, an infantile disorder, which he described as "A popular essay in Marxist strategy and tactics". Indeed, it is the finest handbook extant on the strategy and tactics of Leninism. It contains an outline of the art of leadership of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, and generalizes the experience of the great revolutions. For revolution, wrote Lenin, it is not enough that the exploited and oppressed masses should realize that it is impossible to go on living in the old way and should demand a change; it is also necessary that the exploiters should not be able to live and govern in the old way. Revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploites and the exploiters).

Moreover, to lead the whole of the working class and the broad masses of the working people generally to revolution, propaganda and agitation is not enough. These masses must aquire independent political experience.

Lenin severely criticises the Left doctrinaires, their dogmati, stereotyped approach to revolutionary tasks and their aversion for activities among the broad masses.

First of all it is necessary to vin the vanguard to the side of Communism, he writes. But the vanguard alone cannot win victory. The revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist parties, must win over to their side the majority of the working class and of the masses of the working people generally. They must be able to lead these masses to revolution, skilfully training them with the aid of their own political experience and making allowance for the different national and national-political conditions.

The strategy and tactics of the Communist parties must be as flexible as possible.

The parties must learn to utilize all methods of waging the struggle, from armed insurrection to the revolutionary utilization of even the most reactionary trade unions and parliaments.

They must be able to combine legal and underground activities.

They must be able to attack boldly and fearlessly, but must also be able to retreat in an organized manner, to maneuver, to enter into practical compromises "even with the Decil and his grandmother".

They must be able to take advantage of the friction, conflicts and quarrals of the enemy camp, and quickly and unexpectedly, substitute one form of struggle for another when circumstances demand it.

They must be organized on the basis of the principles of revolutionary Marxism.

They must be closely linked up with the masses.

They must display great determination and skill in wielding Marxist strategy and tactics in preparing for the victorious socialist revolution.

(Lenin - Biography prepared by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute, published 1943)




Comrade Stalin implemented the Leninist strategy and tactics successfully, namely in demarcation line to "leftist" and rightist deviations, as can be read in his:

12 Thesis for the Bolshevisation of a Communist Party


    The Party must regard itself not as an appendage of the parliamentary electoral machinery, as the Social-Democratic Party in fact does, and not as a gratuitous supplement to the trade unions, as certain Anarcho-Syndicalist elements sometimes claim it should be, but as the highest form of class association of the proletariat, the function of which is to lead all the other forms of proletarian organisations, from the trade unions to the Party's group in parliament.


    The Party, and especially its leading elements, must thoroughly master the revolutionary theory of Marxism, which is inseparably connected with revolutionary practice.


    The Party must draw up slogans and directives not on the basis of stock formulas and historical analogies, but as the result of a careful analysis of the concrete internal and international conditions of the revolutionary movement, and it must, without fail, take into account the experience of revolutions in all countries.


    The Party must test the correctness of these slogans and directives in the crucible of the revolutionary struggle of the masses.


    The entire work of the Party, particularly if Social-Democratic traditions have not yet been eradicated in it, must be reorganised on new, revolutionary lines, so that every step, every action, taken by the Party should naturally serve to revolutionise the masses, to page 39 train and educate the broad masses of the working class in the revolutionary spirit.


    In its work the Party must be able to combine the strictest adherence to principle (not to be confused with sectarianism!) with the maximum of ties and contacts with the masses (not to be confused with khvostism!); without this, the Party will be unable not only to teach the masses but also to learn from them, it will be unable not only to lead the masses and raise them to its own level but also to heed their voice and anticipate their urgent needs.


    In its work the Party must be able to combine an uncompromising revolutionary spirit (not to be confused with revolutionary adventurism!) with the maximum of flexibility and manoeuvring ability (not to be confused with opportunism!); without this, the Party will be unable to master all the forms of struggle and organisation, will be unable to link the daily interests of the proletariat with the fundamental interests of the proletarian revolution, and to combine in its work the legal with the illegal struggle.


    The Party must not cover up its mistakes, it must not fear criticism; it must improve and educate its cadres by learning from its own mistakes.


    The Party must be able to recruit for its main leading group the best elements of the advanced fighters who are sufficiently devoted to the cause to be genuine spokesmen of the aspirations of the revolutionary proletariat, and who are sufficiently experienced to become real leaders of the proletarian revolution, capable of applying the tactics and strategy of Leninism.


    The Party must systematically improve the social composition of its organisations and rid itself of corrupting opportunist elements with a view to achieving the utmost solidarity.


    The Party must achieve iron proletarian discipline based on ideological solidarity, clarity concerning the aims of the movement, unity of practical action and an understanding of the Party's tasks by the mass of the Party membership.


    The Party must systematically verify the execution of its decisions and directives; without this, these decisions and directives are in danger of becoming empty promises, which can only rob the Party of the confidence of the broad proletarian masses. In the absence of these and similar conditions, Bolshevisation is just an empty sound.


* * *


On occasion of the 100th anniversary, the Comintern (SH) publishes the following book in German language:

The "left" opportunism
- Twin brother of right-wing opportunism


also available in PDF

8th of June, 2020

written by Wolfgang Eggers



"Left-Wing" Communism,

an infantile disorder


now in 19 languages



Left-Wing Communism, an infantile disorder




مرض اليسار الطفولي في الشيوعية






»Venstre«-kommunismen, en børnesygdom



بيماری کودکی "چپ روی" در کمونيسم




"Vasemmistolaisuus" lastentautina kommunismissa



La maladie infantile du communisme



Der „Linke Radikalismus“, die Kinderkrankheit im Kommunismus







L'estremismo, malattia infantile del comunismo





De linkse stroming, een kinderziekte van het communisme




«Radikalismen» - Kommunismens barnesykdom



Dziecięca choroba "lewicowości" w komunizmie




Doença Infantil do Comunismo



„Stîngismul“ — boala copilăriei comunismului







La enfermedad infantil del izquierdismo en el comunismo




Kommunismens Barnsjukdom





"Sol" Komünizm
Bir Çocukluk Hastalığı