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"A foreigner to THEM (the upper classes) not to YOU, I
hope. Though my English may not be pure, yet you will find
it PLAIN English.
"No working man in England-nor in France, either, bye-
the-bye,-ever treats me as a foreigner. With the greatest of
pleasure I observed you to be free from that blasting curse, CONTENTS
national prejudice and national pride, which after all means
nothing but WHOLESALE SELFISHNESS-I observed you
to sympathise with everyone who earnestly applies his powers WHAT IS INTERNATIONALISM? 11
I: 12
to human progress-may he be an Englishman or not- (1) Human Brotherhood . , ali
to admire everything great and good, whether nursed on your . Nati·onalism and Intemation sm
(2 ) Bourgeo1s 16
native soil or not-I found you to be more than mere (3) Cosmopolitanism . . 18
ENGLISHMEN, members of a single isolated nation, I found (4) Working-Class Int~mationalism 21
you to be MEN, members of the great and universal family of 27
mankind, who know their interest and that of all the human II: THE FORERUNNERS .
0 . . from the Democratic Revolution 27
race to be the same."
(1) ngms1·
(2) Eng 1s
h R di
a c al and Working-Class Inter- 31
ENGELS "To the Working Classes of Great Britain", nationalism . ·
March 15, 1845: Introductory Dedication to the origin- (3) German Workers• International Orgarusation
in Europe 34
al edition of "The Condition of the Working Class in 38
England", 1845: rep1'inted in Marx-Engels Gesamtaus- (4) The Communist League .
gabe, Vol. IV, p. 6 (5) From the Communist League to the Fll'st
International 41

{aco l"Lo\_\..°\~ Ill: THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL 45

.,;\ CX:CXE C\ I£+I L\-- (1) Foundation . .
(2) Composition and Orgarusation . against
(3) Battles and Victories of Mannsm
Opposing Trends . . 59
(4) CongrAessesf aWnd ~rung· J::s~ts~~~stical Power for
Copyright© R. Palme Dutt, 1964
(i) im o or .- . 60
Social Emancipation 61
(ii) Collective Ownership 61
(iii) Trade Unions and Sb'ikes 64
(iv) Cooperatives 05
( ) Labour Legislation al
(~) Necessity for an Independent Politic
Party of the :Working Class 66
MADE AND PRJ?iTED IN GRJ!.AT BlUTAIN (vii) National Question . .
BY CHARLES BIRCRA.LL & SONS, LTD. 0 (viii) War a nd Peace and Foreign Pohcy
(5) The Franco-German War and the Commune 183
72 (3) The Defeat of Trotskyism .. .
(6) Divisions and Dissolution 189
77 (4) Towards the End of Relative Stabilisation •
(7) Historical Significance of the First Inter-
IV: THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL (1) Definition of Fascism 194
84 202
Foundation Congress 85 (2) How Fascism came t~ Power
(2) Battle Against Anarchism (3) Responsibility of Social-Democracy 205
(3) Battle Against Revisionism 91 (4) Tactical Problems and Shortcommgs of the
(4) Beginning of Distortion of Marxism International Communist Movement 207
(5) Fabianism and Revisionism 98
(7) Bernstein, Kautsky and Bolshevism
(8} WM PU
Open.i)lg of the Era of Revolution 106 (1) Fascist War Offensive and Soviet Peace o. cy 215
(9} Second International and Colonialism 108 (2) The Fight for the United Front Against
{10) Socialism and War 110 Fascism and War 218
(11) Achievement and Weaknesses of the Second (3) Positive and Negative Expe~ences of the
International 118 United Front and the People 5 Front 220
(1) Marxism and the First World War X: SOCIALIST ACHIEVEMENT AND PROBLEMS
(2) Collapse of the Second International 129
(3) International Socialist Fight Against the War (1) Socialism Victorious and the Peace Policy of
133 the Soviet Union 228
(4) Beginning of the World SocialiSt Revolution 139
(5) Revolution and Counter-Revolution in (2) Rearmament and the Costs of Rearmament 236 231
Europe 145 (3) Emergency Regime
(4) The Role of Stalin 239
VI: (5} Trials and Purges . 243
(l} The Split in the Working Class (6) Trotskyism and Counter-Revolution
158 249
(2) Foundation of the Communist International 155 (7) Drawing the Balance
(3) Extending Affiliations to the Communist
International 159 252
(4) From the Second to the Fourth Congress of XI: THE SECOND WORLD WAR
(1) Prelude of the ~econd World,:War
the Communist International 160 254
(5) Resurrection of the Second International (2) Mythology of Appeasement
16.5 (3) The Figlit for the Peace Front 257
(6) The "Two-and-a-Half' International 168 260
(7) United Front and Rejection of the United (4) Munich Test
(5) Sequel of Munich.. 263
Front 169 265
(6) The "Phoney War
(7) Communism and the First Phase of the W~r 269
VII: CAPITALIST STABILISATION AND PROSPECT (8) The Peoples' War of Liberation Agamst
(1) Ebb of the Revolution:r Tide Fascism
177 (9) Seeds of the Cold War 278
(2) The Soviet Union an the Advance to 280
Socialism (10) Peoples' Victory over Fascism .
178 (11) Dissolution of the Communist International 282


(1) Change in the Balance of the World 286
(2) People's Democracy and Socialism in Europe 288
(3) The Struggle Against Counter-Revolution 295
(4) The Chinese People's Revolution 300
(5) Korea-Vietnam-Cuba 304
(6) National Liberation and Socialism 307
(7) Successes and Problems 313
(1) New Conditions-New Problems 319
(2) The Fifst Against the Cold War 321
(3) Towar s a New Perspective 325
(4) Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party One hundred years' ago the First International or In~emational
of the Soviet Union 328 Working Men's Association was founded. The gmdanc~ and
(5) Defeat of the Revisionist Offensive 333 leadership of Marx inspired its work throughout, and hud the
(6) International Communist Declaration of 1957 336 foundations of the modem working class movement and inter-
(7) International Communist Statement of 1960 338 national communism.
During this century international communism hru:
THE SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC INTERNATIONAL 3.53 vanced from a handful of tiny groups to embrace one third of
(1) Comisco 1946-1951 356
(2) Foundation of the Frankfurt International in mankind.
At the moment of this centenary stormy controversies are
1951 360
(3) Imperialist Limitations of the Social-Demo- raging in the international communist mov?~ent, affecting
cratic International even the relations of the most powerful socialist states, and
(4) Platform of Repudiation of Marxism and bringing threats of splits.
Socialism 367 At such a moment critics might judge it inappropriate to
(5) Question of United Working-Class Action 372 celebrate this centenary or speak of the advance of a century
of international communism.
XV: PERSPECTIVE 377 On the contrary. It is more appropriate than ever today to
(1) The Path of Marx and Lenin 379 recall the record and the lessons of these hundred years. The
(2) Con.Bict and the Future 387 most violent controversies, conflicts, crises, sharp turns, breaks
(3) Towards the Goal of Communism 395 and renewals have characterised this record of one hundred
years. The path has been no easy broad road of automat;ic
INDEX: 401 progress, but precipitous and arduous throughout, full of pit-
falls and explosions and dangers of wrecking the whole
caravan. But through it all the inteq1ational communist move~
ment has always emerged in the end, stronger and more
united, to go forward to new triumphs.
Today more than ever it is necessary to learn the lessons of
this record. The immediate outcome is never guaranteed. The

future of international communism depends on those who considerable part of the world and consequent difference of
represent the international communist movement today, the social systems, and giving time for the peoples to advance by
generation inheriting the work of previous generations to their own will and according to their own conditions equally
hand on to those that follow. It depends on their conscious- to national freedom and to a new social order based on social
ness, responsibility, and sense of the necessity of Wlity. The ownership. .
old motto of the working class holds: Unity js Strength. The It is in this deeper sense that, despite all the present diffi-
old slogan of Marx in the Communist Manifesto still calls to us culties, and in the midst of all the host of problems that beset
today : Workers of all countries I Unite I mankind today, international communism is. and remains the
In the modem world, with the speed of conununications hope of the world. The epoch in which we live is the epoch of
annihilating distance, and rendering the divisions of the old the transition of mankind from capitalism to socialism to
state barriers more and more manffestly incompatible with advance to world communist society.
new requirements, and with the parallel technical advance The present brief survey of a century of development on the
of weapons making possible the destruction of the earth in occasion of this centenary lays no claim to original or pro-
the shortest space of time, the problem of intemationalism- found historical research. It is no more than a very rapid and
of international cooperation without domination of one nation elementary sketch for the new reader. Many tangled ques-
by another-has become widely recognised as the key tions are involved in the record, which are still the subject of
immediate problem of our era. Technically the transition to a controversy, and may become further cleared by future re-
world social order is becoming imperative. International com- search or fuller evidence. The account here given cannot re-
munism led the way a century ago, at a time when the most present any final verdict on these disputed questions, still less
enlightened thinkers of capitalist civilisation could only see as any official viewpoint of the Communist Party in this country
their ultimate "international" conception a free trade world or communists elsewhere. It can be no more than the best
(actually the breeding ground of monopoly and imperialism, judgement the writer can reach on the basis of the available
with all the consequences of titanic imperialist rivalries and evidence. There are bound to be errors, either of information
world wars). Communism showed the path to the solution of or of judgement, for which the writer apologises in advance.
But it is hoped that, until a further and more authoritative
these problems through the elimination of the rivalries of
account becomes available, this brief survey may prove help·
private ownership and the achievement of an international
community based on national freedom and social ownership,
ful for readers newly interested in communism, to increase
their awareness of the record and achievement of a century of
and iadvancing to a world communist society with the elimina-
the international communist movement; to arouse among all
tion of the state. International communism was able to present
those privileged to take part in the movement today just pride
this solution, no longer as a vague aspiration for peace or world
in its record; and on the basis of this record to strengthen,
unity, but as a concrete movement, based on the working
despite all the problems of the present phase, renewed and
people in the living world, capable of expanding to embrace
the whole world. At the same time, precisely because inter- indomitable confidence in the future.
national communism is a concrete movement of people in the R.P.D.
living world, and not some abstract ideal or blueprint for the May Day, 1964
future, the international communist movement seeks to tackle
the present urgent problem, at a time when the ultimate solu-
tion is delayed and the menace of a new world conflict
is apparent, by leading the way in presenting and fighting for
the immediate aim of peaceful co-existence, to be achieved
also now despite the continuance of the old social order over a


"INTERNATIONALISM. International character or

spirit; the principle of community of interests or action
between different nations; specifically with capital I. doc-
trine or principles of the International Working Men's
Oxford English Dictionary

"The Internationale" is the universally recognised song of the

international working class and of international communism.
Just as "the Marseillaise", 'the song of the French Revolution,
became the widely recognised anthem of the democratic
revolution and of national patriotism, so "the Internationale",
also the product of a gifted French composer, and sprung from
the French working-class movement, has become in the
twentieth century the universally recognised anthem of the
international working class and communism. But with
this difference. The range of "the Marseillaise" has been
mainly European. The range of "the Internationale" is world-
In every country in the world "the Internationale" is known
and sung and honoured, wherever working people are
gathered together for the common aims of liberation, the end-
ing of exploitation and all national and class oppression, and
the building of socialist and comm~nist society. Its refrain
proudly proclaims :
''Tomorrow the tribal community, even though this might be ac~om­
The Internationale panied by wars between tribes.
Will be the human race." Primitive communism was certainly no golden age. The
Across all the barriers of language, nation, race and colour, conditions of life were harsh, poverty-stricken and super-
the melody of this refrain will find comradeship in every stition-ridden. Man, only recently emergent from the animal
country in the world. This is a new phenomenon in the history stage, through the development of tools, was still very helpless
of mankind upon this planet. before nature. Then came the painful transitional period of
class society, arising when the first advance of production
1. HUMAN BROTHERHOOD beyond bare subsistence opened the way to the beginnings
The tradition and aspiration of human brotherhood has deep of private property and exploitation for the appropriation of
roots in the memory and consciousness and instinctive feelings surplus. This stimulated, however violent and cruel the
of all mankind. Although frustrated and strangled by the means, the further advance of production. So the condi-
social and economic conditions in which we live, by the rat- tions came into existence which made it possible to move
race and beggar-my-neighbour economics and jungle law of forward to a higher level. Today we have reached such a high
capitalism, by imperialist oppression and barbarity, and by stage of productive technique as to make more and more
power politics, and by the cold war and the arms race, yet manifestly necessary the corresponding advance to a new
always, the deep feeling of human solidarity breaks through stage of social classless organisation. Although the battle to
again and again in moments of emergency and common peril, end class society, for the victory of national liberation and
of a natural disaster or shipwreck. The cruel laws of the rat- socialism, has still to be won over the great part of the world,
race and economic competition, or of the enforced mutual in the most advanced sector of the modem world man
slaughter of millions against millions of other human beings has already entered into the era of the beginnings of the
who have never seen or known one another, cause deep un- transition to communist society, based on abundant produc-
happiness to those who find themselves compelled to obey and tion, the mastery of nature and the highest fulfilment of
live according to these laws-to all save a tiny handful com- human beings.
pletely bruralised by the social conditions in which they have Neverthefess, althoug~ the conditions of life of. Prin?1ti~e
been brought up and which they have come to regard as the communism were squalid and backward, there did enst m
order of nature. general in those early societies, corresponding to the low level
of technique and absence of surplus, an elementary sense of
This instinct of hwnan brotherhood may be regarded in one
social solidarity and brotherhood, which subsequent class
aspect as surviving from the era of primitive communism, society has done much, although not entirely, to destroy-
before there was division of classes or private property or divi- until it could arise again in new and more advanced forms,
sion of "mine" and "thine", when survival in the hard and as we shall see, in the modern working class and socialist
precarious struggle against nature for a bare existence movement.
depended on solidarity. Echoes of this may be found in the A remarkable confirmation of this Marxist analysis of the
universal legends of a lost "golden age" before "the fall". It early elementary sense of social brotherhood arising in these
was only after the loss of Eden that Cain raised his hand societies of low productive technique and absence of surplus
against Abel and slew him in a conflict over the possession was provided when the islanders of Tristan da Cunha, follow-
of flocks and herds. Even in the fragmentary distorted ing the volcanic explosion of 1961, were transplanted to
remnants of primitive societies still scattered in remote places Britain and employed as wage-workers there until their return
of the earth until recently explorers and researchers have been to their island in 1963. These islanders were no ancient
able to find traces of this code of social brotherhood within primitive society. They were descendants of a handful of early
nineteenth century English sailors and soldiers. They spoke In this confrontation (which might have been tho,ught to
the English of the early nineteenth century like characters have provided a unique opportunity for study of almost a
from ~i~ens. .But the ~cult conditions of maintaining life laboratory case by serious theorists of the science of society)
on their isolated rocky island home had found expression in we can see, as by the operation of a magical time machine,
a ?1~~y subsiste!1ce economy with some analogies with a remote and accidentally arising partial expression of the out-
pnnutive commumsm, and this has found reflection in a social look of early commwlism sudderuy placed in the midst of late
consciousness completely at variance with the basic tenets of monopoly capitalism.
English property-owning society of capitalists and wage The great ancient religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism
earners. The enlightened official mind in Britain had assumed and Confucianism, all reHected, even though under a cover
that the marvels of English mid-twentieth century civilisation of much subsequent dross, this sentiment of human brother-
would leave them gasping with admiration and awe and the hood and the one-ness of all life-but in a passive rather than
desire to remain. Instead, their one desire was to get back in an active sense, that is, as a spiritual belief a'n d aspiration,
to their island home, despite volcanic destruction and possible alongside acceptance of existing social and political forms as
further volcanic risks, away from what they regarded and an inevitable expression of the transient world.
openly described as a detestable form of society based on The more recent-and unfortunately more bellicose and
money and worry. Their explanations given to assiduous bloodthirsty-religions, such as Christianity and Islam, both
reporters were revealing. The disparity of wages was found in- deriving in part from Judaism, did also express some under-
comprehensible : lying conception of human brotherhood, though in a narrower
"H'it h'aint fair. They's payin' me for one man's time. sense, confined to believers, with relegation of unbelievers to
My time's wuth as much to me as h'anybody damnation. Within the ranks of believers there was formal
h'else's." equality, irrespective of social status, race or colour, even
(interview, Time, July 20, 1962) though this was accompanied, as in all the religions, by
"We was like brothers and sisters. We never done had practical acceptance of existing social institutions, such as
any crimes. We done never need any keys at home, does slavery, with only the offer of consolation in the hope of a
we? The doors was always open, we was all like brothers future life of bliss for believers (alongside torment for un~
and sisters/' believers) after death. This narrowing of the conception of
(interview, Sunday Times, August 19, 1962) brotherhood in the later religions to the ranks of believers,
"There was no worry. There was always food on the with ferocious crusading zeal (unknown in the older religions,
island,.?sh in de sea. We did not have to worry about such as Hinduism, BudClhism and Confucianism) against the
money. unbelieving world found expression in the unexmnpled
(interview, Daily Herald, July 20, 1962) violence and barbarity of the wars between Christianity and
Similarly the final verdict of their elected head man, William Islam-only later surpassed in the modern era by the full
Repetto, before departure, in his answers to press questions on flower of Western imperialist "Christian" civilisation in its
March 16, 1963: colonial conquest and exploitation of the world and therefrom
"You never have crime on Tristan. You can go any~ developing world wars.
where you like at night and lie down in the open. In Nevertheless, while the upper classes sought to use religion
Tristan there's no rent, no electricity. You get all your as an instrument to hold down the people with the justification
taters free, all your beef free, your fruit free. We ain't got of the existing social order of oppression as a supposed divine
to use money for it. ordainment, or with the hope of a life hereafter as a consola-
"England? In England ifs money, money, money; tion for their sufferings, the masses of the people sought again
worry, worry worry all the time." and again to flnd in the deep tradition of human brotherhootl
enshrined at the heart of all the religions, the banner and philosopher of the rising bourgeoisie, Jere my Benthap-i, in
inspiration of their revolt to change the existing social order. 1780 :
Buddhism arose and spread so rapidly as a revolt against the "The law may be referred to the head of international
priestly hierarchy of Hinduism. The ceaseless Christian jurisprudence. Note: the word 'international', it must be
heretical sects, which were suppressed with such relentless- acknowledged, is a new one; though i~ is h oped suffi-
ness in the mediaeval era, were the manifest expression of ciently analogous and intelligible. It is calculated to
gathering and increasing social revolts from below, until they express in a more significant way the branch of law which
cuhninated in the Reformation, which was the preliminary commonly goes by the name of the law of nations."
stage of the bourgeois and democratic revolution. (Jeremy Bentham, Princip. Legisl. XVII. 25)
But it was only in the era of the modem democratic, work- The word is thus offered very tentatively as a new invention.
ing-class andsocialistmovementthat the conception of human F urther, it is used only as a purely legal term, to refer to the
brotherhood could take form and shape, no longer as an legal relations b etween nation-states, or what previously used
isolated and impotent spiritual aspiration or belief in the midst to be termed fus gentium, the law of the relations between
of a world of evil and injustice, but as a concrete and fully peoples or communities.
realisable social and political order to be achieved on earth In contrast to the arid legal limitation of Bentham's concep -
in this life by scientifically directed human effort. tion, the revolutionary fighters for democracy recognised a
From this point increasing numbers of sincere religious- bond of brotherhood, reaching across countries, in t heir
minded people, whether Christian, Jewish, Mohammedan, common cause and the common struggle against the holy
Hindu or Buddhist, who found their social inspiration in the alliance of tyrants. The Frenchman Lafayette fought in th e
religious conception of human brotherhood, could find the American Revolution. The Englishman Thomas Paine, the
path of its realisation in unity with the democratic, working- immortal author of the Rights of Man, both played a foremost
class and socialist movement. These representatives have inspiring part in the American Revolution and was elected
brought a significant cUITent to swell the advancing tide of the a Deputy for Calais t o the Convention in the French
modem socialist and communist movement.
Revolution. H e died in exile and poverty on American soil,
When we consider the relatively modem conception of
outlawed by the ch arge of high treason brought against him
internationalism which has only reached its full definition and
by the Government of Pitt.1 It was Paine who declared in
completion in international communism, we must never for-
get the deep underlying tradition of human brotherhood his Rights of Man :
which has its roots in the conditions of human existence from "My,, country is the world, and my religion is to do
very early times and which remains enshrined in the heart of good .
so many ancient religions. This early revolutionary internationalist tradition of the first
stages of democratic revolution could not b e continued by the
2. BOURGEOIS NATIONALISM AND INTERNATIONALISM. representatives of the victorious bourgeoisie, since their
The term "international" dates from the period of the victory found expression in the establishment of the modern
modem democratic revolutions in the latter part of the eigh- nation-states based on the single market dominated by a given
teenth century. This is understandable, since only with the bourgeois grouping, with mutually con.Bicting interests.
formation of the modem nations and nation-states arising Bourgeois nationalism b ecame the expression of the larger
from the develor,ment of capitalism could the conception of
an "international · order arise. 1
Pitt "used to say", accord.i.Dg to Lady Hester Stanhope, "that Tom Paine was
quite in the right, but then he would add "What nm I to do? As things nre. if
The earliest example of the use of the term "international" l were to encourage Tom Paine's opinions, we ~hould have a bloody rev-
is offered by the Oxford Dictionary from the old utilitarian olution·".
egoism of rival groups of exploiters. Hence the revolutionary Previously over the ages there were not a few cases where a
internationalist tradition passed to communism. sage or thinker would declare, to show his freedom from
For the victorious bourgeoisie the "international" concep- narrow local prejudices, that he regarded himself as "a citizen
tion remained on the level of the law of relations between of the world". Plutarch relates how Socrates, when banished
states. Thus Hallam in his History of Literature in 1838 wrote from Athens, said "I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a
of "the great system of international law". citizen of the world." William Lloyd Garrison could declare in
The highest conception which the nineteenth cenrury 1830 his Motto for his journal The Liberator, dedicated to
bourgeoisie could reach of a perspective of conciliation and the abolition of slavery in the United States: "Our country
peace between nations lay in the doctrine of Free Trade as is the world; our countrymen are all mankind."
the supposed panacea for establishing amicable and mutually But when the further development of capitalism had passed
profitable commercial relations between all nations. The Great from its early progressive era associated with the liberation of
Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851 was the characteristic nations from colonial bondage in the American continent or
expression of this ideal. The subsequent exhibition of 1862 monarchical bondage in Europe to the further extension of
was officially called the "International Exhibition". the world domination of the handful of victorious capitalist
When liberal free trade capitalism developed to the stage of powers enslaving the rest of the world and destroying national
monopoly capitalism and imperialism, the term "internation- freedom, then to profess indiHerence to the national liberation
al" in bourgeois usage began to take on a more sinister conno- struggle of the dependent and oppressed peoples in the name
tation to describe systems of joint colonial exploitation. Thus of a supposed "higher" loyalty to the principle of "cosmopoli-
in 1882 the constitutional lawyer F. Dicey, wrote: tanism" becomes in practice identification with imperialism
"The intemationahsation, if I may use the conception, for the enslavement of nations.
of Egypt." For the citizen of an oppressed nation to profess "cosmo-
In 1883 the Contemporary Review in its June issue expressed politan" indifference to the national liberation struggle of his
"an earnest appeal to the Government at Berlin to unite people is to be a slave and toady of the oppressors of
with England in internationalising the Congo." his country. For a citizen of an imperialist oppressor country
In 1884 the Times Weekly Edition of October 31 wrote of to proclaim "comsmopolitan" superiority to the liberation
"questions affecting the internationalisation of the struggle of peoples oppressed by his country is equally to
Congo, the Niger and other fields of commerce." choose identity with imperialism on the side of slavery. Above
In 1885 the Spectator declared on May 30 : all, for a socialist in an imperialist oppressor country to express
"The Suez Canal must be internationalised." himself as superior to "the obsolete nineteenth cen-
And in 1888 Sir Charles Moncrieff wrote in the Pall Mall tury national sentiments" of the nations oppressed by his im-
Gazette of September 11 : perialist rulers, and to describe this outlook as "international
"On a par with most of the others which inter- socialism" (save the mark), means in fact to unite with his
nationalism has advised for the welfare of Egypt." imperialist rulers and to betray socialism.
Thus the wheel has come full circle. The "internationalism" In his controversies with Rosa Luxemburg and other Polish
of the bourgeoisie has turned into its opposite, to become the socialists over the question of Polish national self-determina-
system of destroying the national independence of other tion (which they opposed as a reactionary slogan cutting
peoples. across the fight for socialism), and in his comments on the
significance of the Irish Easter Rising in 1916 (which many
3. COSMOPOLITANISM would-be socialists treated as a "putsch", while reformist and
It is in this connection that the conception of "cosmopolitan- even some militant socialists in Britain proclaimed their
ism" takes on its special significance in the era of imperialism. amazement at the socialist Connolly sacrificing his life in a
mere national cause), Lenin clarified this question for those who had done away with nationalities, had spoken
socialists who sought to counterpose the fight for "pure 'French' to us, i.e. a language which nine tenths of. the
socialism" to the national struggle and who on this basis audience did not understand. I also suggested that by the
assumed an air of lofty contempt for "obsolete nineteenth cen- negation of nationalities he appeared, quite uncon-
tury notions" of national independence and sovereignty. sciously, to understand their absorption by the model
"To imagine that a social revolution is conceivable French nation." ·
without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in (MARX, letter to Engels, June 20, 1866)
Europe, without the revolutionary outbursts of a section Cosmopolitanism is the characteristic outlook of modem
of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without finance-capital, concealed behind a tawdry fa\:ade of
the movement of non-class-conscious proletarian and nationalist-jingo slogans to deceive the people. Finance-
semi*proletarian masses against the oppression of the capital recognises no national frontiers, seeks only the highest
landlords, the church, the monarchy, foreign nations etc. profit, penetrates and se~ks to dominate eve~y nation w~er­
-to imagine this means repudiating socitil revolution. ever it can reach. In the Frrst World War the biggest combmes
Only those who imagine that in one place an army will and armaments trusts, at the same time as they fought (by
line up and say, 'we are for socialism', and in another place proxy) with one another for the redivision of the world,
another army will say, 'we are for imperialism', and that secretly traded with one another and protected their inter-
this will be the social revolution, only those who hold locking interests to extract colossal profits from the business of
such a ridiculously pedantic opinion, could vilify the the war. The same happened in the Second World War. Such
Irish Rebellion by calling it a 'putsch'. cosmopolitanism has nothing in common with international
'Whoever expects a 'pure' social revolution will never socialism.
live to see it. Such a person pays lip service to revolution
without understanding what revolution is." 4. WORKING-CLASS lflt"TERNATIONALISM
(LENIN Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Wherein, Marx and Engels asked in their Manifesto of the
Up, 1916, Selected Works V p. 303) Communist Pm·ty in 1848, do the Communists differ from
Already in the nineteenth century Marx had poured scorn other working-class parties? They gave the answer:
on this supposedly "supra-national" outlook of certain would- "The Communists are distinguished from the other
be very "revolutionary" representatives, French Proud- working-class parties by this only:
honists and some French socialists, including Lafargue, who (1) In the national struggles of the proletarians of the
had sought to dismiss nationality as an "antiquated" prejudice, different countries they point out and bring to the front
and to concentrate on "the social question" to the exclusion the common interests of the entire proletariat, in-
of national issues. In the International Council of the First dependently of all nationality
International in 1866 a discussion followed, which Marx (2) In the various stages of development which the
describes: struggle of the working-class against the bourgeoisie has
"The representatives of 'Young France' (non-workers) to pass through, they always and everywhere represent
came out with the announcement that all nationalities the interests of the movement as a whole."
and even nations were 'antiquated prejudices'.... The Thus the first distinguishing feature of Communism on
whole world waits until the French are ripe for a social which Marx and Engels lay stress is its international character.
revolution.... Whoever encumbers the 'social' question Indeed, the two distinguishing features described may be re-
with the 'superstitions' of the old world is a 'reactionary'. garded as in fact one ("this only"): that the Communists
"The English laughed very much when I began my represent the basic long-term interests of the whole working
speech by saying that our friend Lafargue and others, class, as against either sectionalism or national division.
In the preceding analysis we have seen how the early inter- against the common class enemy. This was still more.power-
nationalism of the bourgeois-democratic revolution broke fully shown with the victory of the first socialist revolution in
down once the bourgeoisie had won power. Just as the dreams 1917 and the whole subsequent history. Therefore at every
of ''liberty, equality and fraternity" dissolved in the reality of level, from the most elementary to the highest, international
the bourgeois property state of class division, so the parallel unity has always been and remains the .vital interest of the
dreams of the international alliance of the peoples against the working class.
tyrants dissolved in the reality of the bourgeois nation-states But this internationalism of the working class brings in a
of competing traders, exploiters and colonialists. So far from new element which was not present in the generalised con-
ushering in an era of peace and friendship between the ception of the brotherhood of man expressed in the outlook
nations, as anticipated by the sponsors of the Great Exhibition of the early revolutionary democratic movement. What is now
of 1851, the victory of the bourgeoisie brought ;in its train the expressed is no longer the idealised brotherhood of abstract
most destructive arms race. barbarous colonial wars and "man" in the existing class society, whose antagonism of
aggression all over the world, and finally world wars on a exploiter and exploited has shattered the idealised vision.
scale never before known. Such a future vision of the brotherhood of man can only be
Therefore the banner of international brotherhood could realised by the ending of class society and class exploitation.
only be carried forward by the working class. For the working What is expressed in working-class internationalism is the
class had no separate interests, like the conflicting interests international unity and cooperation of all who work against all
of rival exploiters. Only the emancipation of the working class who exploit their fa.hour. This is a new feature. This inter-
can end the conflicts of rival property interests, bring the nationalism of the working class extends to all who are
emancipation of all sections of the population oppressed by oppressed by capital, equally to the colonial slaves, to the
capitalist property relations, and, through the establishment masses of the peasantry in dependent counmes exploited by
of a social order based on common ownership of the means of the big overseas combines, and to all the nations oppressed
production, finally end class society and open the way to the or dominated by imperialist rule or penetration.
fulfilment of the age-old ideal of human brotherhood. The second new feature of working-class internationalism
The internationalism of the working class does not arise fully is that it represents, not only the aspiration of internationalism
formed and conscious in a single moment, but is only as an ideal or goal for the future, but its practice in the living
achieved through a long process of experience and successive present world-that is, practical solidarity of the working
struggles. On the other hand, the conditions of existence and people against the exploiters, of the working class against
struggle of the working class from the outset create the soil capitalism, and of the alliance of the working class and
for the development of this internationalism from the most oppressed nations against imperialism. This practical
elementary beginnings. solidarity finds expression at every level. It finds expression
From the outset, the workers in all countries, wherever they at the basic and most elementary level through practical
were exploited, had a common enemy, capital. That common solidarity across countries in strikes, support from the
enemy often combined against them, as in operations for workers in one country to the workers on strike in another
strike-breaking, or in the use of low wages in one countrv as country, resistance to black-legging or attempts of
artillery to attack wages in another. H the workers sought to employers to organise strikebreaking or transit of black
achieve political advance against their enemy and to move to goods in relation to workers on strike in another country.
political power, as was most powerfully demonstrated in the It finds further expression in political cooperation,
nineteenth century by the Paris Commune of 1871, the rival campaigns for the release of political prisoners in a country
capitalist powers, which a moment before had been engaged under an oppressive regime; against political repression, the
in mutual war, laid aside their conflict to help one another colour bar or apartheid; and for support of national liberation
struggles. It reaches its highest level in joint struggle united humanity of the coming era. But this is music of the
in the cause of the socialist revolution against counter- fu~m .
revolution. The fourth distinctive feature of working-class inter-
The third new feature of working-class internationalism is nationalism is that it has consistently led and leads the fight
that it leads the way forward, through the partial struggles, for peace against the ever more destructive wars let loose by
practical solidarity and partial victories of today, to the future capitalism and by its modem phrase, imperialism. When the
fulfilment of internationalism as the realisable principle of Franco-German War broke out in 1870 the General Council
world organisation on the basis of international socialism. of the First International, uniting French and German sec-
International socialism does not represent the denial of tions, denounced the joint responsibility of the French and
national liberation and national sovereignty, which is the in- German Governments; Liebknecht and Behel, the leaders of
dispensable next stage from the preceding imperialist system the German workers, were imprisoned for high treason; the
of national enslavement, but is built on the foundation of end- French workers rose and established the Commune, the first
ing equally national and class oppression and thereby ends victory of the working class. The Second International in suc-
the conflicts between rival groups of exploiters, which are cessive resolutions called on the workers in all countries to
presented as national conflicts, and opens the era of inter- struggle against the impending First World War. When the
national cooperation along the common path of socialist con- First World War broke out, and the test revealed the falling
struction and the transition to communism. away of many leaders and sections, the Russian working class,
The first victory of the socialist revolution in Russia in 1917 under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, fulfilled the
brought also the national liberation of all the nations resolutions of the International, in unity with sections in all
previously oppressed by Tsarism, with full recognition of the countries faithful to the principles of internationalism; and as
right of secession (carried out at once in the case of Finland, soon as the Russian workers had won the victory of their re-
and as soon as possible in other cases), and annulment of the volution in 1917, their first Decree was the Decree on Peace.
"unequal treaties" imposed by Tsarist imperialism, like every Since then, the Soviet Union for close on half a century has
other imperialism, against a number of nominally in- been always in the vanguard in the fight for peace and dis-
dependent, but in fact dependent, countiies. From 1917 on- armament; in their disarmament proposals in the nineteen-
wards, as Lenin repeatedly pointed out, the world socialist twenties; in their fight for the Peace Front during the nine-
revolution comprised the unity and common action of three teen-thirties, which could have stopped Hitler's aggression
related fronts ; the advance of the first socialist state; the and prevented the Second World War; and in the modern
struggle of the working class against capitalism; and the period in the fight to end the cold war and for peaceful co-
national hberation struggle of the oppressed peoples against existence, and for the abolition of nuclear weapons and pre-
colonialism. Following the victory of the joint struggle of the vention of a third world war.
peoples against fascism; and the further victories of the Such is the high theme of working-class internationalism,
socialist revolution, we have now reached the stage of a world expressed in all these four distinctive features. When we con-
system of socialism, extending over one-third of the world, sider the progress dw-ing the short span of a century and a
and anticipating the future world order of international quarter, from the handful of groups of the International Com-
socialism, which will embrace the whole world. munist League of 1847-48, through the First International the
The victory of international socialism will establish the Second International and the Communist International, t~ the
foundation for the futher advance to international communiSt present world system of socialist states, comprising one-third
society, which will finally end the divisions between advanced of the world, with the international communist movement
and backward nations, and eventually all national divisions, exten_dingthrnughall countries and the general advance of the
leading, as communists foresee, to the fusion of nations in the working-class movement, we cannot but recognise a historical

development without parallel in the record of mankind.

Storms and ordeals there have been in plenty, strains and
stresses, failings by the wayside, partial breakdowns and
resumed advance. But through it all the path has gone for-
ward. Over this century and a quarter the principle of
working-class internationalism, of international communism,
has proved itself, and will further prove itself, as the indis-
pensable principle to solve the problems of our epoch.


"The Jacobin of 1793 has become the Communist of

KARL MARX, Speech to the Democratic Association
in Brussels, February 22, 1848

Communism did not spring into existence ready-made from

the inspiration of a genius. Lenin has traced the three com-
ponent sources of Marxism or Communism : French Social-
ism, Geiman philosophy and English political economy. The
genius of Marx consisted in drawing together these threads
and developing therefrom his all-embracing theory, which has
become the guiding theory of the modem world.
Similarly the international communist movement did not
arise as a coterie of disciples of an individual teacher or leader.
Marx and Engels did not first write the Communist Manifesto
and then found the Communist League to propagate its prin-
ciples. They first became members of the Communist League
(in its initial form as the Federation of the Just, which they
helped to transform into the Communist League); and it was
the Second Congress of the Communist League which
instructed them to prepare the statement of its programme
and principles, published in the following year as the
Manifesto of the Communist Party.


The international communist movement developed in direct
line of descent from the left wing of the democratic revolution signed his own death warrant at the hands of counter-
and the first beginnings of the working-class movement. The revolution, whose victorious Thermidor followed ns soon as
great democratic revolutions which ushered in the modern the left had been struck down.
era, in England in the seventeenth century, and j.n the United Babeu£ and Buonarroti, who organised the "Union du
States and France in the eighteenth century, were torn from Pantheon" with a considerable membership until its suppres-
the outset by the contradiction between the ideal aims for the sion by the Directory, represented a more consistent and con-
ending of all privilege and the foundation of a new society of scious form of embryonic communism. The Manifesto of the
human liberty and brotherhood, and the reality of social in- Equals proclaimed: "Nature has given to every man an equal
equality based on property which their limitations and pre- right to the enjoyment of all goods." Wiser then the Heber-
suppositions could not overcome. tists, they supported the Democratic Constitution of 1793
This contradiction inevitably gave rise among the more (which was never put in practice) as a step forward. They
militant elements to the demand to complete the revolution advocated a temporary revolutionary dictatorship, based on
by following up the victorious political revolution with a the workers, as a transition, during which all private property
social and economic revolution corresponding to the interests would be expropriated within a generation and pass into com-
of the poor and establishing a new social order based on com- munal ownership, and the establishment of a democratic con-
mon ownership. In the English Revolution this found its stihttion in which labour would be compulsory for all, and
fullest expression in the Levellers and the theories of only persons engaged in useful labour would have the right to
Winstanley. In the French Revolution, at a more advanced vote. After the counter-revolutionary coup of Thennidor and
stage of social development and class antagonisms, it found the execution of the Jacobin leaders in 1794, the revolutionary
partial expression among the more radical left wing sections section which had been organised in the legal "Union du
of the Jacobins, and its most consistent and conscious expres- Pantheon" had to move over to illegal organisation, and were
sion in the organisation led by Buonarroti and Babeu£, whose joined in this by the remnants of the radical left wing of the
unsuccessful plan for insurrection, known to historians as the Jacobins. It was this undergronnd organisation, carrying for-
"Conspiracy of the Equals", was crushed by the young ward the fight of the left wing of Jacobinism with a communist
Napoleon in 1796, with the arrest and execution of its leaders. type of programme, and preparing for an armed insurrection
In neither case was there yet in existence the working class as to overthrow the counter-revolution and carry forward the
a class to make possible the fulfilment of the programme. revolution, which was betrayed to the police in 1796, and its
The radical left wing of the J acobins, represented by Hebert leaders arrested and placed on trial as organisers of the
and Roux (the "Enrages") demanded a revolution in property "Conspiracy of the Equals", and sentenced to death er exile.
relations, and sharply criticised the Democratic Constitution Marx paid high honour to Babeuf, and jn the Manifesto
of 1793 and the more conservative democratic conceptions of of the Communist Party cited him at the head of the section
Robespierre and St. Just upholding private property. Roux on "Critical~Utopian Socialism and Communism" as having
declared: "given voice to the demands of the proletariat". Marx wrote
"Freedom is only a delusion if one class is able to starve of Babeu£ in 1845 :
another, if the rich man through his monopoly has power "The first appearance of a really effective communist
of life and death over the poor.... The war which the party takes place during the progress of the bourgeois
rich wage against the poor is more terrible than the war revolution at the moment when the constitutional
which the foreigner wages against France. It is the bour- monarchy is abolished. The most logical communists (in
geoisie who have enriched themselves out of the revolu- England, the Levellers, and in France, Babeu£, Buonar-
tion for four years." roti and so forth), are the first to stress social questions.
Robespierre sent the Hebertists to the guillotine and thereby In Gracchus Babeu/ et la Conjuration des Egaux written
by Babeufs friend and comrade, Buonarroti, (Englished "Federation of the Just" (the members of both organisations
by Bronterre O'Brien as Buonarroti's Hi,story of Babeuf's fought shoulder to shoulder in the 1839 rising), which sub-
Conspiracy for Equality), we read how these republicans sequently took on an international character, was eventually
learned by experience that, even if such 'social questions' joined by Marx and Engels, and became the Communist
as monarchy versus republic could be settled, this would League. .
not solve one single 'social question' in the proletarian Thus the international communist movement derives
sense of the words." directly from the radical and embryonic communist left wing
(MARX, to Heinzen; Mehring, Nachlass) of the French Revolution and from the militant German
Similarly Marx and Engels in the first joint exposition of their emigration. But there were further strands went into its com-
views wrote : position, drawing together elements especially from the then
"The French Revolution brought forth ideas which led three leading countries of capitalism, England, France and
beyond the ideas of the entire old world system. The Germany.
revolutionary movement which began in 1789 in Cercle
Social, which in the middle of its course had as its chief 2. ENCLlSH RADICAL AND WORKING CLASS INTERNATIONALISM
representatives Leclerc and Roux, and which finally was The revolutionary democratic movement in England had
temporarily defeated with Babeufs conspiracy, brought deep-rooted international traditions and connections. In the
forth the communist idea which Babeuf's friend Buonar- seventeenth century Milton had conducted his polemical
roti re-introduced into France after the Revolution of championship of regicide in England against the denunciation
1830. This idea, consistently developed, is the idea of the of the counter-revolutionaries on the Continent. And when he
new world system." composed his sonnet "On the late massacre in Piedmont" to
(MARX and ENGELS, The Holy Family, call on the Lord to "avenge thy slaughter'd Saints whose bones
1844, Chapter VI) lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains" and to "forget not"
At the same time they warned against regarding Babeuf as a and wreak vengeance on "the bloody Piedmontese", beneath
theoretician of communism. "To take Babeuf as the theoretical the religious form was visible the sense of international
exponent of communism could only have entered the head of solidarity of the revolution.
a Berlin schoolmaster." (Marx and Engels, The German The French Revolution, which inspired Shelley> Byron,
Ideology, 1845-46, Section III). Burns and the youthful Wordsworth, led to the formation of
Buonarroti, the associate of Babeu£, wrote his account of the the Corresponding Societies, which in their composition and
"conspiracy" and its aims in his book published in 1828, which, spirit in the majority of centres constituted an elementary
as Marx mentioned, was translated by the Chartist leader form of the beginnings of working-class organisation. The
Bronterre O'Brien and exercised its revolutionary influence slogan of the French Revolution "War to the Palaces, Peace
among the left wing of Chartism. In Paris secret revolutionary to the Huts I", and the spirit of the Carmagnole, won its echo
organisation was carried forward after the 1830 Revolution, in Britain. Indeed, the response was so widespread that the
under the leadership of Blanqui, the disciple of Buonarroti, authorities acutely feared revolution in Britain. Vve have seen
who bad returned to Paris after the 1830 Revolution, and how Pitt, wiser than the servile sycophant of Tory patrons,
Barbes, through successive forms of the "Societe des Burke, admitted in private that "Paine was in the right", but
Families" and the "Societe des Saisons", culminating in the deemed it his duty to suppress Paine for fear of revolution.
unsuccessful insurrection of 1839, following which Blanqui The hideous counter-revolution of Pitt and Castlereagh
and Barbes were sentenced to death, commuted to life irn· strangled the revolt of the people of Britain, and organised
prisonment. In close association with the "Societe des Saisons" the coalition with ·gold and arms to strangle the French
was the organisation of militant German refugees in Paris, the Revolution.
Following the Napoleonic wars, with the industrial revolu- good, this society repudiates the term 'Foreigner', no
tion in Britain and the growth for the first time of a numerous matter by or to whom applied. Our moral creed is to re-
industrial working class in the towns, the radical movement ceive our fellow men, without regard to 'country', as
in Britain took on a more and more directly working-class members of one family, the human race; and citizens of
character. This was shown already in a preliminary stage with one commonwealth-the world."
the Luddites and the battle of Peterloo, then in a more At a meeting organised by the Fraternal Democrats in 1847
developed stage of organisation with early trade unionism, to proclaim solidarity with the Portuguese rising Harney said :
and finally in the .first political working-class movement, "The people are beginning to understand that foreign
Chartism. as well as domestic questions do affect them; that a blow
With the many political refugees in Britain, international struck at Liberty on the Tagus is an injury to the friends
links and a keen sense of international solidarity characterised of Freedom on the Thames; that the success of Republic-
the radical and working-class movement from the outset. We anism in France would be the doom of Tyranny in every
have seen how Bronterre O'Brien translated Buonarroti's His- other land; and the triumph of England's democratic
tory of Babeufs Conspiracy for Equality, and this became a Charter would be the salvation of the millions through-
revolutionist's handbook for the left wing of Chartism. The out Europe." (Northern Star, June 19, 1847)
Democratic Association, founded in 1838 by the Chartist In 1848 at a meeting in honour of the second anniversary of
leader, Julian Hamey, maintained close conne.ctions with the the Cracow rising Harney proclaimed the aim of a combined
foreign refugees in London and the Chartist organ, the international victory of the European working class over the
Northern Star, which was transferred to London in 1844, bour~eoisie :
followed closely events abroad. In 1844 an organisation, the •But let the working men of Europe advance together
Fratemal Democrats, was formed by German, Polish and and strike for their rights at one and the same time, and
Italian refugees living in London. In 1845 these approached it will be seen that every tyrannical government and
the Chartist leaders to join; and prominent Chartist leaders, usurping class will have enough to do at home without
including Ernest Jones, Cooper, Harney and others became attempting to assist other oppressors. The age of Demo-
members, and took thenceforth an active part. cratic ascendancy has commenced . . . the role of the
The internationalist outlook of the Fraternal Democrats was bourgeoisie is doomed." (Northem Star, Febmary 26,
expressed in its motto ''All men are brothers". The programme 1848}
laid down: From 1847 the Fraternal Democrats association was organ-
"We declare that the earth with all its natural produc- ised with a regular constitution of general secretary, an
tions is the common property of all .... We declare that international executive and national secretaries for each
the present system of society, which permits idlers and
nation, England (Harney), France, Germany, Poland, Italy)
schemers to monopolise the fruits of the earth and the
Switzerland and so on. The Marxist historian, Theodore Roth-
productions of industry, and compels the working
classes to labour for inadequate rewards, and even con- stein, has commented :
demns them to social slavery, destitution and degrada- "There can be no doubt whatever that this form of
tion, is essentially unjust." organisation, which was repeated in all subsequent
On internationalism the programme stated: similar organisations, served as the prototype of the Inter~
"Convinced ... that national prejudices have been, in national. Only seventeen years elapsed before the foun-
all ages, taken advantage of by the people's oppressors dation of the latter, and throughout this period the
to set them tearing the throats of each other, when they traditions of the Fraternal Democrats remained in force."
should have been working together for their common (Theodore Rothstein, Aus der V orgeschichte der
Internationale, Supplement to the N eue Zeit, membership of the Federation of the Just-the organisation
October 31, 1913) which, originating in Paris, and then centred in London,
This was the second foundation on which the international eventually became the Communist League :
communist movement was built. "The proletarian part of the membership consisted
entirely of manual workers. They were exploited by men
3. GERMAN WORKERS' INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION IN EUROPE who, even in the great metropolis, were nearly always
The third constituent element arose from the organisation small masters. The exploitation of large-scale tailoring,
of German emigrant workers in the capitals of Western so-called 'confection', the transformation of the work into
Europe-organisations which often took on an international domestic industry on behalf of a great capitalist, was still
character. in its infancy in the London of that epoch. The exploiter
Since we are not here considering the theoretical origins was a small master, and the workers in the trade lived
of Communism, we are not in this context referring to the GerM in hopes of themselves becoming small masters. In addiM
man philosophical element in these origins (the development tion, vestiges of the guild spirit still adhered to the
of Marxism from the critical dialectical method of Hegel), still Gennan craftsmen. They were not as yet fully Hedged
less the scholastic absurdities on which Marx and Engels proletarians, were only on the way to becoming members
poured scorn in the Communist Manifesto under the title of the modern proletariat, were still hangers.on of the
"German or 'True' Socialism" : petty bourgeoisie, had not at that date become the direct
'1t is well known how the monks wrote silly Jives of opponents of the bourgeoisie, the largeMscale capitalists.
Catholic Saints over the manuscripts on which the classiM These craftsmen, to their eternal honour, instinctively
cal works of ancient heathendom had been written. The foresaw the future development of their class, and,
German literati reversed this process with the profane
though not fully conscious of the fact, were pressing forM
French literature. They wrote their philosophical nonM
sense beneath the French original. For instance, beneath ward toward organising themselves as the party of the
the French criticism of the economic functions of money,
they wrote 'Alienation of Humanity'." (Engels On the History of the Communist League, 1885)
What is important for the organisational origins of the interM The heroic character of the revolutionaries of this period
national communist movement as an organised international was described by Engels when he wrote of Karl Schapper-
movement is the role of the German emigrant workers' the former university student of forestry who, after participatM
organisations in the European capitals, which often refiected ing in the 1832 conspiracy led by George Buchner in Germany
the theoretical outlook of the German utopian worker-comM and the storming of the police station in Frankfurt·onMtheM
munist, Weitling, and in some cases drew in representatives of Main in 1833, fled abroad, joined Mazzini's forces in Savoy
other nationalities. in 1834, built up organisation in Paris, fought in the 1839 inM
This signiBcant politi~al role of the organisations of German surrection alongside Blan.qui, was arrested and expelled to
refugees and workers in the European capitals, especially London and there fulfilled a leading role in the organisation
Paris, Brussels and London, arose, not only from the police which became the Communist League. Engels wrote :
persecution in Germany, but also from the traditional practice "Built on a heroic scale, resolute and energetic by
of the Wanderjahr or year of travel of the German craftsman- temperament, ever ready to risk life and limb, Schapper
worker in completing the mastery of his trade. The principal was the prototype of the professional revolutionist of the
trades were tailoring and carpentry. Engels has described the eighteenMthirties .... He was a man of genuine metal all
outlook of the craftsmenMworkers of this epoch, in describing through, and his services to the German workingMclass
the character of the predominantly proletarian sections of the movement will never be forgotten."
This admiring reference of Engels in 1885 to Schapper as "the Russians and Alsatians. In 1847 a British grenadier in full
prototype of the professional revolutionist of the eigh~een­ uniform was a regular attendant at the meetings."
thirties" is worth recalling today to destroy the current Wldely (Engels, ibid)
spread myth according to which the conception of ·the "pro- The motto on the membership card "All men are brothers"
fessional revolutionary" is supposed to have been a peculiar was translated in twenty languages. An open or public
invention of Lenin previously unknown to Marxism-how- organisation was formed, the Communist Workers'
ever much Lenin may have developed the conception to meet Educational Association, with.in which the Federation func-
modem conditions. tioned as a secret society, the former serving as a recruiting
The organisation which eventually became the Commumst ground for the latter.
League originated as a secret society of German refugees and Marx and Engels, whose working partnership began from
workers in Paris, then the revolutionary centre of the world, the summer of 1844, were in contact with the Federation, as
founded as the Exiles' League in 1834, and reconstituted in they were with the Chartist leaders and the French revolu-
1836 by the more militant section as the Federation of the Just. tionary movement, but had initially refused in 1843 an
At the outset, Engels says, the Federation was "a German invitation to become members of the Federation, since they
outlyer of French working-class communism", and "in reality were convinced of the necessity first to replace the confused
not much more than a German branch of the French secret utopian-communist theories and secret limited organisation
societies"; and its members fought alongside the French re- by the scientific theory and methods which they were jointly
volutionaries in the rising of 1839. After its leaders, Schapper developing. For this purpose they established an initial base
and Bauer, had he?n e~elled to London, .they )o~ed forces and nucleus in Brussels, working with Wilhelm Wolff,
with others there, mcluding Joseph Moll, m building up the Weydemeyer and others, and established the German
organisation and made London the new headquarters. There Workers' Society of Brussels, with an organ the Deutsche
in 1834 Engels made their acquaintance: "they were the first Briisseler Zeitung. The aim was from the outset international;
proletarian revolutionists I had ever met." and a Komunistisches Korrespondenzkomm.ittee was estab-
With the establishment of the headquarters in London the lished in Brussels, with a parallel committee in London, which
Federation of the Just took on an international character. was joined by Hamey and others. The new theories made
Branches or sections ("communes" or "huts") were established
rapid headway; and by the spring of 1847 Moll on behalf of
widely in Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland (where
the Federation visited Marx in Brussels and Engels in Paris to
Weitling, whose utopian communist theory Engels described
negotiate with them an agreement that they should join the
as "the Srst stirring of an independent philosophy of the Ger-
Federation, which could then consider reorganisation with a
man proletariat", was active, with Becker and others) and
other countries. In addition, the London headquarters became new programme corresponding to their conceptions. Marx:
international in character. and Engels agreed and became members of the Federation.
"No sooner was the centre of gravity transferred from In the summer of 1847 the first Congress of the Federation
Paris to London than a new phenomenon came to the was held in London, with Engels attending as the delegate
fore. The Federation, from being a German organisation, from Paris and Wolff from Brussels. The reorganisation was
gradually became transformed into an international carried through along the lines advocated by Marx and
affair. In addition to German and Swiss, persons of other Engels·
nationalities to whom the German language could serve "The main theme for discussion was the question of
as a medium of communication, where to be found in the reorganisation. Every vestige of its old mystical nature,
Federation: there were Scandinavians, Dutch, Hun- the heritage of conspiratorial days, was now discarded.
garians, Bohemians, Southern Slavs; also there were The Federation was organised into communes, circles,
leading circles, central committee and congress. It took December, 1847, and was attended by Marx. In the debates,
the name of Communist League." (Engels, ibid.) which are stated to have lasted ten days, Marx expounded the
new theories; the proposed new principles were unanimously
4. THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE adopted; and Marx and Engels were commissioned to draw up
The Communist League was the first international organi- a Manifesto along the lines agreed. This was done; and the
sation of the communist movement. Strictly speaking, the Manifesto of the Communist Party, to give it its correct title,
claim could be made that it should be correctly termed the although since more familiarly known as the Communist
First International. But this term has become associated with Manifesto was first published in German in London in
the International Working Men's Association of 1864; and it is February, 1848, just before the outbreak of the February
true that the other was the first coming together of developing Revolution in France.
working-class movements, whereas the Communist League The Communist Manifesto remains the classic foundation
was still an association of small groups. document of the international communist movement.
The Communist League existed from 1847 to 1852. Twenty-five years later, in the 1872 Preface, Marx and Engels
Its foundation congress in the summer of 1847 arose in the stated that "the general principles laid down in this Manifesto
conditions described. The old motto of the Federation of the are, on the whole, as correct today as ever"; and that only the
Just "All men are brothers" was replaced by the new motto immediate demands and the current tactical relations to other
'Workers of all countries, unite I". This slogan appeared parties and organisation are dated.'
ah·eady for the first time under the title of a new journal In the revolutions and revolutionary struggles which shook
Kommunistische Zeitschrift published by the London mem- Europe in 1848 and the immediately ensuring phase Marx
bers of the League in September, 1847. The Preamble to the and Engels and the principal members of the Communist
Rules, drawn up b y Marx for the first congress, remitted for League played an active part, whose record belongs to the
discussion to the branches and sections, and finally adopted history of the period. The Communist League did not directly
at the second congress later in the year, proclaimed the aim: play a part as an organisation; the break-up and prevention of
"The aim of the League is the overthrow of the functioning of its successive central committees, transferred
bourgeoisie, the rule of the proletariat, the abolition of from London to Brussels to Paris, by arrests and states of siege,
the old bourgeois society based on class antagonisms and are described in Engels' brief record.
the foundation of a new society without classes and with- By the autumn of1849, with the ebb of the revolution, most
out private property." of the members of the previous central committees and con-
The conditions of membership were laid down in the Rules, gresses, with the exception of those still in prison or killed,
and included : "Revolutionary energy and zeal in pro- were able to meet again in London. The League was reorgan-
paganda", adherence to Communism; non-participation in ised, and the Address of March, 1850, drafted by Marx and
other political societies, and duty to inform the competent Engels, and a further classic document of Communism,
League authority on membership of any other body; especially for the relations of the democratic revolution and
obedience to League decisions; not to disclose information
of the internal life of the League. The organisation followed It is characteristic that in a Centenary Edition of the Communist Manifesto
published by the Labour Party in 1948, with a lengthy and dreary conven-
the principles of democratic centralism (all officials and com- tional anti-communist Introduction hr Harold Laski (Laski 95 pages· Marx
:in~ Engels text, 64 pages), the ofilcial Foreword by the Labour' Party
mittees to be elected and subject to recall, and subordination pomted out that, while the general principles laid do'vn in the Manifesto
of lower organs to higher). must be regarded as affected by changeil conditions, "the detailed pro-
~me they.put forward is of great interest to us" as closely parallel, in the
The decisive Second Congress of the League was held in opnuon of this Foreword, to the policy of the Labour Government. Needless
London at the end of November and the beginning of to. s.ay, the 1872 Preface of Marx and Engels was not reprinted in this
~ .....
................... .,f..................______THE

the working-class revolution, was adopted and iss~ed. ~ut ~y and economic emancipation of the proletariat , and to
1850 divisions arose in the estimation of the situation m carry through the communist revolution. The League
Europe. As London became the headquarters of the refugees represents in the various stages of development through
from the defeated revolutions in Europe; the League was which the proletarian struggle has to pass the interests
inundated with an inHux of new adherents of varying out- of the whole movement. It always seeks to rally round it-
looks, French Blanquists, Polish and Hungarian social revolu- self and to organise all revolutionary forces of the
tionaries, English Chartists. At the same !ime there were proletariat. It is secret and indissoluble until the
gathered in London the followers of Lows Blanc, Ledru- proletarian revolution has achieved its object.
Rollin, Mazzini, Kossuth and others, all dreaming of forming (2) The conditions of membership are:
Provisional Governments to lead victorious renewals of the (a) freedom from all religious ties; withdrawal from
revolution in their respective countries. ecclesiastical associations;
By the summer of 1850 Marx and Engels had reached a (b) insight into the conditions, development and ulterior
negative view of these too sanguine hopes of a rapid renewal aims of the proletarian movement;
of the revolution in Europe. . (c)abstentionfrom all associations and partial movements
'With this general prosperity, in which ~e produc.tive whose objects are inimical or destructive to the
forces of bourgeois society develop as luxuriantly as is at object of the League;
all possible with.in bourgeois relationships, there can be (d) capacity and zeal in propaganda, u.nH:inching fidelity
no tal,k of a 1·eal tevolution." to our convictions, revolutionary energy;
(Marx and Engels, "Review of May to October, 1850", (e) strict secrecy in all League matters.
N eue Rheinische Zeittmg. Politisch-okonomische Propaganda was conducted from the Cologne headquarters
Revue, Nos. V and VI, Hamburg) until the arrest of the principal leaders there and the historic
As shown in his other w1itings at the time (quoted in my Cologne Communist Trial in November, 1852. Following this,
Problems of Contemporary History, pp. 81-83), Marx by 1850 it was decided to dissolve the League; and the separate organ-
had developed the view that, with the world extension of isation which the Schapper-Willich group had endeavoured to
capitalism, West Europe had become too narrow. a basis ~or maintain came to an end also a few months later. The League
the world socialist revolution, and began to turn his attention had fulfilled its initiating role. The next stage required a
increasingly during the eighteen-fifties and after, alongside ~1is further development of the working-class movement.
deeper study of the functioni?g capitalis~ .economy, ~~ch
found a preliminary expression m the Cntique of Political 5. FROM THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE TO THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL
Economy in 1859, to developments in the United States, It would be a mistake to imagine that during the dozen
India, China and Russia. _years between the dissolution of the Communist League and
This view met with resistance from the more ardent spirits, the foundation of the First International, between 1852 and
including some of the tried old fighters of the Communist 1864, there was a cessation of international revolutionary
League like Schapper and Willich. These disagreements led to solidarity or international working-class contacts. Despite
a split. Marx moved the headquw.ters of the League to unfavourable conditions following the victory of counter-
Cologne, where the programme of the League was revised jn revolution and seemingly triumphant expansion of capitalism,
December, 1850, to meet the new conditions. The revised expression of international solidarity and attempts to create
Rules read: anew some type of international working-class organisation
(1) The object of the Communist League is the destruc- arose repeatedly dilling these years.
tion of the old society by means of propaganda and the Already in 1850 the London workers had shown in un-
political struggle, in order to effect the mental, political mistakable fashion their attitude to the counter-revolution
ing the Crimean War was proclaimed and publicly demon-
when the Austrian General Haynau, notorious for his bloody strated the principle of international fraternisation of the
suppression of the workers, came to London. On being taken peoples in the midst of war between their governments. This
on a visit to Barclay and Perkins' brewery, be was seized by principle of internationalism was further expressed, this time
the draymen and his moustache cut off; he was dragged out clearly on the basis of international working-class solidarity,
from the dustbin, where he had sought to take refuge, and by the parallel exchange of fratemal messages between the
flogged through the streets-an incident any refer~nce to French and German sections of the International during the
which won applause thereafter at every popular mee~&· . Franco-German war in 1870. It received a further historic
In 1854 the Chartist leader, Ernest Jones, took the m1tiative expression during the Russo-Japanese war, when the Russian
in the formation of a Welcome and Protest Committee towel- socialist leader, Plekhanov, and the Japanese socialist leader,
come the French revolutionary Barbes, liberated "from the Katayama, publicly embraced at the International Socialist
dungeons of Napoleon", and protest against a proposed visit Congress at Amsterdam in 1904. It received its highest
of Napoleon UL From this developed an International Com- expression with the Leninist tactic in the fight against the
mittee under the presidency of Ernest Jones, with elected imperialist First World War-the tactic which led the way to
national secretaries for the English, the French, the Germans, the first victory of the socialist revolution.
the Poles, the Italians and the Spaniards. Various proposals for some kind of permanent international
Many demonsb·ations in support of international democratic organisation of the workers or working-class and democratic
solidarity were organised by the International Committee, forces were made during these years. These proposals came
either alone or in association with other bodies, between 1855 from various sources and were often confused in character. In
and 1860; their record will be found in Theodore Rothstein's Apri.l, 1856, a deputation came to London from Paris, repre-
From Chartism to Labourism (pp. 169-180). It is significant sen~g supporters of the very confuse~ petty-bourgeois
that the first demonstration in February, 1855, took place dur- socialist, Proudhon, to propose the formation of a Universal
ing the Crimean War in which Britain and France were League of ·workers which would, in accordance with the
ranged against Russia. Popular hostility to Tsarism as the bul- recipe of Proudhon, painlessly eliminate capitalism by using
wark of reaction in Europe brought a measure of support for the contributions of twenty million workers to found produc-
the war, despite the parallel popular hostility to Napoleon and tive and distributive cooperatives. In May, 1856, the Inter-
distrust of the British ruling class. But in the expression of pro- national Committee in London issued a Manifesto announcing
gressive spokesmen a distinction ~as made between ~saris~ a "plan" to enlarge its ranks "into an International Association,
and the Russian people. At this first demonstration m open to men of all countries, and which ought not to
February 1855, summoned to commemorate the French count only one International Committee in one of the towns of
Revolution of 1848, a resolution was adopted calling for an Europe, but International Committees in as many of the towns
"alliance of the peoples" and "a conference of the representa- ?f the worl~ as possible". In August, 1856, at a meeting held
tives of all democracies" to establish a "permanent inter- m London m honour of the French Revolution of 1792, con-
national committee consisting of representatives of all the vened by the International Committee in conjunction with
democracies" for the purpose of "promoting the advent of the the "Revolutionary Commune" (an organisation of French
Democratic and Social Republic". This resolution was moved political refugees with communist sympathies in London) a
by the Englishman, Finlen, and seconded by the famous Rus- resolution was adopted calling on the International Com-
sian democratic leader, Herzen. The chairman explained that mittee, the Revolutionary Commune, the Society of German
this procedure in the midst of the Crimean War was adopted Co~muni~ts •. the Soc~,ety of English ~hartists, the Society of
"in order to show their repudiation of national hatred", and Polish Soc1al1sts, and all those who, without belonging to any
that their fight against the despots should not be confused with of these societies, were eligible members of the International
one against the peoples oppressed by them. Thus already dur-

Association" to enter into an alliance for cooperation in the

common aim to achieve "the triumph of the universal demo-
cratic and social republic". Following this, the evi~ence
indicates that an organisation described as the Interna~~~al
Association came into existence and conducted some activities
up to the beginning of the sixties.
Thus it was not a bolt from the blue, but the successor of
a series of preceding efforts, when at a great popular demon-
stration held in St. Martin's Hall, London, on September 28, CHAPTER III
1864, to commemorate the Polish revolt, a delegation of
French workers put forward a proposal, which had already
been discussed between French and British working-class THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL
representatives during the preceding year, for the foundation
of an international working-class organisation with its head·
quarters in London, and a resolution was carried with "To conquer political power has therefore become the
enthusiasm establishing such an organisation. But this time great duty of the working classes. . . . One element of
the conditions were more fully prepared. This demonstration success they possess-numbers; but numbers weigh only
hecame the foundation of the First International. in the balance, if united by combination and led by
First International, 1864.

Of course the true title was not "The First International".

This arithmetical term, by which it is nowadays known, was
only attached to it after the foundation of the Second Inter~
national. Its official title was the International Working Men's
Association (at first, in the foundation documents, "Working
Men's International Association"). In general contemporary
expression, equally of friends and of enemies, it was referred
to as "the International".
The International Working Men's Association was founded
in 1864, and reached its effective end in 1872, although it
was not actually wound up then, but formally transferred to
the United States for its headquarters, where it was finally
dissolved in 1876.

The foundation at the St. Martin's Hall meeting in London
on September 28, 1864, was the outcome of a series of pre-
paratory steps during the preceding two years.
At the International Exhibition in London in August, 1862, with representatives from the workers of all countries, and
an elected delegation of French trade union representatives with sub-commissions in the capital cities of Europe, to draw
(the trade unions were permitted under Napoleon III, al- up the constitution and rules and prepare an International
though political organisation was forbidden) had met English Congress in the following year. This plan was accepted in a
trade union representatiyes and discussed the project of resolution unanimously adopted by the meeting:
forming an international workers' organisation. Contact was 'The meeting, having heard the reply sent by our
maintained. In the following year this was brought to a higher French brothers to our address, once more welcomes the
level when the American Civil War and consequent cotton French delegates, and as their plan i~ calculated to
famine brought extreme hardship to the textile workers of further unity among the workers, the meeting accepts
Lancashire and also in France. The British ruling class openly the draft just read as the basis of an International
sympathised with the slaveowners of the South, and sought to Association."
whip up popular feeling, on the basis of the suffering of the ~he resolution was moved on behalf of the, English delega-
cotton workers, against the North. In vain. The Lancashire tion, seconded by the German workers representative
cotton workers, to their eternal honour, and the whole Eccarius, who had been nominated by Marx to attend the
British working class and popular movement stood finnly by meeting on behalf of the German workers, and supported by
the North for the abolition of slavery. It was to this stand that the French, Polish, and Irish representatives. A Provisional
Marx paid tribute when he wrote : Committee, which was empowered to increase its members
"This is a new and brilliant proof of the indestructible by co-option, and subsequently became known as the
excellence of the English popular masses: of that excel- General Council, was elected, including Karl Marx, who had
lence which is the secret of England's greatness." been present as (in his own words) "a dumb figure on the
(Marx, "A London Workers' Meeting", article in Die platform".
Presse, February 2, 1862) It was Marx who drew up the Inaugural Address and
Committees were formed and meetings held both in Britain Statutes which were adopted by the Provisional Committee
and France in support of the cotton workers and the cause of and finally confirmed by the First Congress at Geneva in
the North, and also in support of the Polish insurrection of 1866. '
In July, 1863, a demonstration was held in London in 2. COMPOSITION AND ORGANISATION
support of the Polish Insurrection, with the joint participa- The First International represented in its composition a
tion of French and English workers' leaders, who carried stage of development, corresponding to the considerable ex-
forward the contacts of the preceding year. On the initiative tension of capitalist industry in Western Europe by the third
of the London Trades Council (there was not yet a Trades quarter of the nineteenth century, in advance of that which
Union Congress) a joint meeting was held with the French was :possible at the time of the Communist League. The Com-
representatives, and also with Polish and German workers' mumst League was an association of small groups of
representatives, and a committee appointed to draw up an revolutionary workers and fighters, united by a common doc-
Address to the French workers proposing the holding of an trine and a single leadership. The First International was able
international workers' congress. to draw together for the first time the beginning of the
The reply of the French workers was brought and read out or~a~ised working-class m~vement as a whole, especially in
by their delegation to the St. Martin's Hall meeting on Bntam and France, and m varying degree in the other
September 28, 1864. The French representatives presented a countries of Europe.
plan for the formation of an international workers' organisa- This ~dvanc~ in extent, .as the first attempted organisation
tion by the establishment of a central commission in London, of the mternational working class as a united force, meant
that at this stage of historical development ~e association was disciple of Babeu£ and Buonarotti. Marx had over a decade
composed of very vruied elements m the different countries, previously signed a joint statement with Blanqui in 5upport
corresponding to the character and stage of development of of the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the political con-
the working-class movement in each country, and represent- ception of Blanqui was entirely concentrated on the isolated
ing different and often confilcting trends and theoretical out- aim of the armed insurrection by a conspiratorial elite,
looks. opposed all reforms, and ignored the tasks of building
Britain, as the metropolis of capitalism and the cra~le of up trade union and mass political parties of the working class.
the organised movement, constituted the stronges~ section of In Germany the principal political influence among the
the First International, whose headquarters were m London. workers at that time was that of Lassalle, who had founded
Their representatives on the General Council ;-rere som.e of his General Union of German Workers in 1863, and had thus
the principal progressive leaders of the craft UIUons of skilled led the way in the political organisation of the German work-
workers and democratic working-class reform movements: ing class. Lassalle had learned. some of his ideas from Marx,
men such as Applegarth and Cremer, of th~ ~arpenters (but though in a distorted form; but he mixed his very confused
William Allan of the Engineers opposed affiliation), or Odger, exposure of capitalism (e.g. his theory of the "iron law of
Secretary of the London Trades Council. Their outlook was wages", which Marx refuted, and which illiterate commenta-
mainly that of reformist trade unionism; they were. not tors today, including the late Strachey, still insist on attri-
revolutionaries; they attached importance to the.Intero.atio~al buting to Marx), with dangerous utopian schemes for
as a means of promoting international trade u~on solidanty, government-subsidised cooperatives to replace capitalism. On
at the same time as they supported progressive democratic this basis he entered into a H.irtation and alliance with Bis-
movements. marck, whose strategy was aimed to penetrate and disorganise
France was the second strongest section. Here the majority the nascent labour movement. Lassalle himself was killed in
were supporters of the ideas of Proudhon, the very co~sed the famous duel a month before the foundation of the
prophet of petty-bourgeois socialism, eventu~y anar7h1s~, International; and his followers in general abstained from
with whose theories Marx had dealt mercilessly m ~s participation on the alleged grounds that this would invite
Poverty of Philosophy in 1847 (in answer to Proudhon s police persecution. Subsequently in 1869 the German Social-
Philosophy of Pove1·ty). Proudhon opposed political action, Democratic Workers' Party was founded at Eisenach under
political parties, strikes or cl~s struggle, and ad~ocated the the leadership of Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Behel, on
painless supression of capitalism by the ~xtens1~n. o~ p~o­ the general basis of Marxism, and affiliated to the Inter-
ers' and consumers' cooperatives or mutualist societies with national.
free credit through "people's banks". Proudhon himself died Another influence indicating the elementary stage of
in 1865; and his supporters had begun to move away from development of the working-class movement at the time,
some of his ideas by entering on some ~lement~ forms ?£ especially in Spain and Italy, and to some extent in Switzer-
political action. But the influenc~ of his the.ones was still land and other countries, was that of Anarchism. The role of
strong among tl1ose who took part m the foundmg and leader- Bakunin, who was the principal representative of this trend,
ship of the International: men such as Tolain, the engraver, and his subsequent attempts to disrupt the International
who subsequently went over to the Versailles~ against the belong to its later history.
Commune and was expelled from the International, or Var- W~th. this very v:aried and disparate composition and
lin, the bookbinder, who became a member of the Commune ~onfilcting _trends which went to make up the international at
and was shot by the Versaillese. . . its foundation, a contemporary observer might well have con-
The other main influence among a mmority of the French cluded that the attempt would rapidly break down without
movement was that of Blanqui, the revolutionary communist result, like previous attempts. Indeed, only a very mature
theoretical and practical understanding of the conditions of where, after a strike had received support from the Inter-
development of the working-class movement, and of .the national, all the members of the union involved were stated
actual situation within each country, could have possibly to have joined the International in a body.
navigated the shoals and stormy w~ters without. shi~wreck, In the Paris police prosecution of the French members of
held the disparate forces together ~thout collapsmg mto. the the International in June, 1870, the police prosecutor gave the
alternative of meaningless compromises, and found a basis of figures of membership of the International as follows : France,
common action. But such a theoretical and practical under- 433,785; Switzerland, 45,000; Germany, 150,000; Austria-
standing was forthcoming to save the International and make Hungary, 100,000; Great Britain, 80,000; Spain, 2,728. These
it a permanent historical achievement. This was provid.ed ~y statistics from police records can be treated with suitable
the scientific theory of Marxism which found expression m reserve.
the guiding leadership of Marx from the beginning to the end There is no doubt that the International aroused panic fears
of the First International. of the ruling class in all countries, not merely because of its
The organisation of the International was at the same time proclaimed revolutionary aims to end capitalism and establish
loose and centralised. This was its peculiar and distinctive the political power of the working class, but because of the
character. Its membership was direct individual membership measure of solid support it had won, demonstrated also in
of the International in all countries, by individual member- elementary acts of practical working-class solidarity in strikes
ship card and subscription. Thus it was already the proto~e and immediate issues. "The International Working Men's
of a single international working-class party. At the same time Association," wrote Marx in 1867 (letter to S. Meyer, April 30,
trade unions, cooperatives and all kinds of working-class 1867), "has become a power in England, France, Switzedand
organisations were affiliated, not to the lnterna~onal ~s such, and Belgium."
but to its national sections or Central Committees m each The role of the General Council in giving continuous poli-
country. Over all was the General Council, situated in tical and practical international leadership was the key to this
London, with representatives from each country. success of the International. The key to this leadership of the
The Congress, which met annually, in 1866, 1867, 1868, General Council-a voluntary and moral leadership, not
1869 and (after the conditions of the Franco-German War and "authoritarian'', as Bakunin later falsely complained-was the
Commune had compelled a delay) in 1872, was the supreme continuous and tireless active role of Marx in its midst. Marx
sovereign body, and expressed the democratic character of the was offered in 1866 the position of President of the Inter-
International. national, but declined and in the following year secured the
The General Council was the expression of the centralised abolition of this office and its replacement by the election of a
leadership of the International; and its fearless leading chairman at each weekly meeting of the General Council. The
political role was in marked contrast to the post office char- Minutes of the General Council, now at last in process of
acter of the International Socialist Bureau of the later Second publication in book form (Volume I, covering 1864-1866, was
International. published in the English edition in 1963, and at the time of
At the Basie Congress in 1869 Applegarth reported that in writing Volume II in the Russian edition has also been
Britain there were 230 branches of the International with published) show this continuous active work and leadership
95,000 members, and funds totalling £1,700. In Belgium there of Marx on every issue, large and small-and incidentally once
were stated to be 64,000 members. In Austria there were re- again give the lie to the hoary old legend of the 'bookworm in
ported 13,850 members, despite legal prohibition. In France the British Museum" without "contact with the real world".
and other countries police persecution made reports of It is worthy of note that the publication of the highest
membership difficult. In all cases the statistics available could theoretical work of Marx, Volume I of Capital in 1867 (the
not of course be firmly checked. Occasions were reported work "to which", as he wrote, '1 have sacrificed health, hap~
piness and family") coincided with his highest activity in the amateur experiments which sought to assert themselves
political and practical leadership of the International, involv- within the International against the real movement of the
ing close contact and guidance in relation to the developing working class. The struggle was conducted at the con-
movement in a number of countries, and especially close gresses, but far more in the private negotiations between
association with all the activities of the labour movement in the General Council and the individual sections."
England. (Marx, letter to F. Bolte, November 23, 1871)
This was no easy task to accomplish. For, as has already
3. BATTLES AND VICTORIES OF MARXISM AGAINST OPPOSING been indicated, the initial forms of the working-class move-
TRENDS ment and of socialist or semi-socialist theories in the various
The First International was not only the first organisation countries were extremely different and confused. There is no
and leadership of the international working class through all more brilliant and enlightening demonstration of the theoxe-
the economic and political issues of the eight years of its effec- tical and practical method of Marxism than the way in which
tive existence. It was also the battle ground where in the fire Marx tackled the complex problems of this situation. It would
of debate at successive Congresses, as well as in the General have been contrary to the whole spirit of Marxism to have
Council and within the national sections, all the conflicting attempted to impose a ready-made doctrine like a dogma. The
trends and theories within the working-class movement were method of Marx was to draw out from the existing movement
tested and fought out, and where the supremacy of Marxism and its problems the elementary basis, in terms acceptable to
was established once and for all in the working-class move- them, of common agreement for common action, and then,
ment. Thenceforward the subsequent Internationals (Second out of the struggle and the needs of the struggle, to deepen
and Third) were built on the publicly proclaimed basis of the understanding and carry forward the approach to more
Marxism. fundamental problems, while waging relentless war against
Reviewing the experience in retrospect during the last every sectarian trend and theoretical confusion which could
period of the International Marx summarised this role : retard and disrupt the movement.
"The International was founded in order to replace In preparing the Inaugural Address which laid down the
the socialist or semi-socialist sects by a real organisation basic constitution and programme of the International, and
of the working class for struggle. The original Rules and set out the aim of the conquest of political power by the work-
the Inaugural Address show this at a glance. On the other ing class, Marx recognised, as he explained in a private letter
hand the International could not have maintained itself if to Engels, that it was no longer possible to use the old forth-
the course of history had not already smashed sectarian- right language of the Communist League, if the support of
ism. The development of socialist sectarianism and that the existing stage of the working-class movement as repre-
of the real working-class movement always stand in sented by the English trade union leaders was to be secured.
inverse ratio to each other. Sects are justified (historically) "It was very difficult to frame the thing so that our
so long as the working class is not yet ripe for an view should appear in a form acceptable from the present
independent historical movement. As soon as it has standpoint of the workers· movement. In a few weeks
attained this maturity all sects are essentially reactionary. the same people will be holding meetings for the fran-
Nevertheless, what history exhibits everywhere was chise with Bright and Cobden. It will take time before the
repeated in the history of the International. What is anti- reawakened movement allows the old boldness of speech.
quated tries to re~establish itself and maintain its position It will be necessary to be f01titer in re, suaviter in modo.''•
within the newly acquired form. (Marx, letter to Engels, November 4, 1864)
"And the history of the International was a continual
struggle of the General Council against the sects and •Firm in substance, gentle in mo.oner.
Similarly he noted in the same letter: experience, common struggle and discussions of the move-
"I was obliged to insert two phrases about 'duty' and ment:
'right' into the Preamble to the Rules, ditto about 'truth, "As the stage of development reached by different sec-
morality and justice', but these are placed in such a way tions of workers in the same country and by the working
that they can do no harm." class in different countries necessarily varies very much,
It is amazing how many foolish comments have been made the actual movement necessarily expresses itself in very
about this profound and elementary statement. Some apolog- diverse theoretical forms.
ists have sought to explain it away as "ironic" or "jesting" "The community of action which the International
("half-jesting"-Cole). Others, hostile to Marxism, have sought Working Men's Association called into being, the ex-
to find in it the proof that Marxism (whose revolutionary change of ideas by means of the different organs of the
morality is the most exacting morality that history has known, sections in all countries, and finally the direct discussions
and has inspired the noblest examples of human behaviour at the General Congresses will by degrees create for the
on record) is "immoral" ala Nechaev, i.e. dismisses all concep- general workers' movement its common theoretical pro-
tion of moral obligation or concern for justice or truth as a gramme a1so."
'bourgeois superstition" to be discarded in favour of a kind (Marx, letter to Engels, March 5, 1869)
of nihilism. In reality, the statement is so clear and penetrating At the ve1y outset Marx had the problem of cotmtering the
that it is a very illuminating guide to the Marxist approach. attempted dire.ct influence of the bourgeoisie, of the bour-
To a trained philosopher and historian like Marx the Mazz:ini geois-democrats and republicans, who sought to make the
type of chatter about some abstract eternal "right" and "duty" new International an organ under their control. The first draft
and "truth, morality and justice" outside classes and history for the rules had been drnwn up by a secretary of Mazzini,
must have been felt as repulsive balderdash (only too familiar Major Wolff (later discovered to be a Bonapartist spy), and
as the smokescreen adopted by every rogue and swindler). Marx found "the stuff" when he saw it "a crude compilation
Nevertheless, rather than let the main objective at this point of Mazzini's". A draft programme had been prepared by an
be sidetracked by a general philosophical discussion, he was old Owenite manufacturer, Weston, "a very amiable and
ready to put up with the necessity ("obliged") of swallowing worthy man", but his draft "a programme of indescribable
the insertion of such phrases, provided the main class analysis breadth and confusion" in the view of Marx. A draft "declara-
and presentation of the aim of the working-class conquest of tion of principles" had been prepared by the French emigrant
Le Lubez, "in which Mazzini could be detected everywhere,
political power could be agreed, and the unwanted phrases
the whole being crusted over with the vaguest tags of French
were inserted "in such a way that they can do no harm". socialism". After discussion in sub-committee (Marx wrote to
This realist tactical line was illustrated when he wrote the Engels that he was "determined that if possible not one single
programme for the London delegation to the First Congress line of the stuff should be allowed to stand") Marx secured
at Geneva: agreement that he was given all the drafts to "edit". On this
"I deliberately restricted it to those points which allow basis he wrote the entirely new Inaugural Address and Rules
of immediate agreement and concerted action by the which were adopted unanimously "with great enthusiasm" by
workers, and give direct nourishment and impetus to the the whole General Council and subsequently confirmed by
requirements of the class struggle and the organisation the Congress at Geneva. The Inaugural Address remains,
of the workers into a class." alongside the Communist Manifesto, a permanent classic
(Marx, letter to L. Kugelmann, October 9, 1866) statement of the aims and principles of the working-class
He described his method of progressively carrying forward movement. During the first year there were still various
the advance of theoretical understanding through the actual attempts in different sections, particularly in France, and also
in Britain, by the bourgeois-liberal democrats to take the ignorant scribblers who still seek to perpetuate the hoary cari-
leadership out of the hands of the representatives of the work- cature of Marx as an "impossible cantankerous, opinionated
ing-class movement. But these attempts were defeated; the and quarrelsome old gentleman".
number of representatives of the working class in the General Marx wrote:
Council was increased; and by the latter part of 1865 most of "We have succeeded in drawing into the movement
the representatives of bourgeois-liberal democracy had with- the one really big workers' organisation, the English
drawn. Trades Unions, which formerly concerned themselves
A more complex tactical problem was presented by the key exclusively with wage questions. With their help the Eng-
role of the English Liberal trade union leaders who con- lish society which we founded for achieving universal
stituted the main representation and basis of strength of the suffrage (half of its Central Committee consists of workers
General Council. London was the headquarters of the Inter- -members of our Central Committee} held a monster
national; the English movement was the direct concern of the meeting a few weeks ago at which only workers spoke.
General Council; there was no intermediate separate com- You can judge of the effect by the fact that the Times
mittee for England. Marx always stressed the key importance dealt with the meeting in leading articles in two con~
of England for the International Indeed, on one occasion he secutive issues."
went so far as to write in a letter: (Marx, letter to Kugelmann, January 15, 1866)
"England, being the metropolis of capital, the power There is no doubt that the agitation of the Reform League,
which has hitherto ruled the world market, is for the which was organised by the more progressive trade union
present the most important country for the workers' leaders who were at the same time members of the General
revolution, and moreover the only country in which the Council of the International, played an important part in win-
material conditions for this revolution have developed up ning the extension of the suHrage by the Act of 1867.
to a certain degree of maturity. Therefore to hasten the Trade union affiliation took place directly to the General
social revolution in England is the most important object Council of the International in Britain, since the General
of the International Working Men's Association." Council functioned as the committee for Britain. These
(Marx, letter to S. Meyer and A. Vogt, April 9, 1870) affiliations included the Amalgamated Society of Engi-
With this basic conception of the significance of capitalism neers, with 35,000 members; the Operative Bricldayers; the
and the working-class struggle in England in this epoch, and Bootmakers (by decision of their Congress in March, 1866). By
with this main weight of the English working-class movement the time of the Geneva Congress in 1866 thirteen unions were
in the composition of the International, it is evident that the reported by the General Conncil to be affiliated in Britain;
key question for the success of the International was the and by the Lausanne Congress in 1867 another thirteen. The
achievement of cooperation with the English trade union and Trade Union Conference at Sheffield in 1865 carried a resolu-
radical working-class representatives. The success of Marx in tion recommending all unions represented at the Conference
solving this problem, in developing close and active co- to affiliate to the International. The London Trades Council,
operation with the trade union and labour movement in Eng- the premier body prior to the foundation of the Trades Union
land in the conditions of this period, despite all the obvious Congress in 1868, carried a resolution in 1866 to establish an
limitations of the leadership of the old aristocracy of labour, alliance with the International. In 1869 the newly formed
on the basis of plain common immediate interests for common Trades Union Congress urged all trade unions to affiliate to the
action in the current economic and political struggle, without International.
ever yielding on principle, but without raising unnecessary At the same time Marx had no illusions as to the limitations
battles, is a lesson of permanent significance in Marxist of the reformist leaders of the labour aristocracv, and some~
strategy and tactics-and incidentally the answer to the time in his private letters expressed his frank opinion of their
character and role in no uncertain terms. And when it came national, first from outside, and then from within. This be-
finally to a basic battle of principle, over support of the Paris longs to the record of the closing period.
Commune, Marx had no hesitation in facing a break with
them. Odger, the Secretary of the London Trades Council, 4. CONGRESSES AND MAIN DECISIONS
and Lucraft publicly repudiated the Add1'ess on the Civil Congresses of the International were held at Geneva in
War in France, the magnificent defence of the Commune 1866; Lausanne in 1867; Brussels in 1868; Basle in 1869; a
which was written by Marx and adopted and issued by the Conference in London in September, 1871; and the last effec-
General Council, and resigned from the General Council on tive Congress at the Hague in 1872.
this issue. But Marx noted that "the other nineteen British During these Congresses all the great questions of the
members present acclaimed the Address" (A Reply on the working-class movement were grappled with by the delegates.
First International, 1878).' Intense polemical debates took place between rival trends and
During the early years of the International the main currents. Important debates also took place in the proceedings
polemical controversy had to be conducted with the theories of the General Council, as well as many further discussions
of Proudhon which still to a considerable degree dominated and assessments of controversial questions in the communi-
the majority of the French workers' representatives. Intense cations between the General Council and the national sections
battles had to be conducted at the Geneva Congress in 1866 (there were periods when Marx had to grapple with all the
and the Lausanne Congress in 1867 against the negative correspondence single-handed). .
theories of Proudhon on the key questions of political Through all this procedure results and decisions were
action and working-class political power; the role of trade achieved which highlighted the path forward for the working
unions and strikes; labour legislation; and collective owner- class towards the aims of political power and the conquest of
ship. On all these issues victories were won. The supporters the means of production; for the development of working-
were able to win some successes by securing majorities at class organisation; and for the tactics of the working-class
Geneva for the establishment by the International of movement on key questions of trade unionism and strikes;
a mutual credit bank (nothing came of this), and at Lausanne economic and political reforms and labour legislation; the
for their proposals in favour of people's banks and free worker national question; and war and peace. Not the whole pro-
credits. But on all the great issues the confusions of Proud- gramme of Mandsm or socialism could be embodied in these
honism were exposed and defeated, and Marxism led a vic- decisions, since the movement was not yet ripe for majority
torious fight for the essential elements of a working-class pro- agreement on all questions or on basic theory. Some decisions
gramme and working-class strategy. After Lausanne the were adopted which reflected opposing views, and on which
influence of Proudhonism waned. the supporters of the Marxist view were defeated. Such was
During the later years serious battles had to be conducted the approval of the Proudhonist panaceas of mutualist credit
against the very unscrupulous offensive of anarchism, led by associations and people's banks at Geneva and Lausanne.
Bakunin and his Alliance, which sought to disrupt the Inter- Similarly the Bakuninist nostrum (taken over from the Utopian
Saint-Simon) for the legislative abolition of the right of in-
j Marx's Rsply on the First International was written in answer to a dis-
gi:aceful falsification written by a right wing Labour leader and ex-member heritance as the supposed path to the '1iquidation" of private
of the General Council, George Howell, under the title "History of the property, was carried at the Basle Congress. This last was
International Working Men's Association", in the Ninateeth Century
of July, 1878. The Edltor of Nineteenth Century, in accordance with the not carried by majority vote against the reasoned statement of the
unfamiliar tradition of the scrupulous ethics of anti-communist journalism in General Council on this issue, which pointed out that the
Britain, as elsewhere, refused to publish the authoritative reply by Marx
giving the facts. The Reply was published in the Secular Chronicle in right of inheritance was the consequence and not the cause of
August, 1878, edited by Mrs. Harriet Law, earlier the only woman member the existing economic system, that its abolition could only
of the General Council. It was reprinted for the first time in English in
Labour Monthly of September, 1954. follow on the general transformation of society with the
abolition of private ownership in the means of production, but classes is therefore the great end to which every political
thatmeanwhiletransitionalmeasures could be carried through movement ought to be subordinate as a means." ,
such as an increase of legacy duties and restrictions of the
right of bequest. The General Council resolution on this issue (ii) Collective Ownership
is a striking example of the patient care and reasoning with The :first concrete formulation on this question was adopted
which Marxism dealt with even an obviously impracticable at the Lausanne Congress in 1867, when a resolution was
fancy nostrum; although in this case the majority of the adopted declaring that all means of transport and exchange
delegatesweresweptaway by the glitter of the fancy nostrum, should be taken over by the State, in order to destroy the mon-
and adopted it by thirty-two votes against nineteen votes for opoly of the great companies. An amendment was .moved to
the General Council resolution. add land nationalisation; but this was held over for considera-
However, these occasional decisions adopted in opposition tion at the next Congress. At the Brussels Congress in 1868
to the outlook of Marxism, and reflecting backward or the battle on common ownership was joined. The British and
sectarian views, were in the main of secondary importance. German delegates favoured complete collective ownership,
The general body of the programme, principles and policy both of the l~nd and of the instruments of production. The
adopted by the First International remain a permanent trea- French and Italians stood out for private ownership of the
sure house, not of the complete exposition of Marxism, but land. A special committee of nine prepared a resolution which
of the elementary aims and guiding principles of the working- advocated collective ownership of mines and quarries; rail-
class movement. Some of the most important issues on which ways; arable land and forests; roads, canals, telegraph and
programmatic decisions of lasting historic significance were other means of communication. This was adopted by thirty
adopted may be noted: votes to five, with ££teen abstentions. At the Basle Congress
(i) Aim o-f Working-Class Political Power for Social Emancipa- in 1869 this policy was again challenged by the French repre-
tion. sentatives on the question of land nationalisation. A special
The Inaugural Address, drawn up by Marx in 1864, and committee prepared two resolutions. The first
adopted by the General Council and confirmed by the Geneva "The Congress declares that society is entitled to
C?ngress in 186~. as the basic programme of the International, abolish individual ownership of the soil and to make the
laid down that to conquer political power has become the land communal property"
great duty of the working class". The Preamble to the Rules, was carried by fifty-four votes to four, with thirteen absten-
similarly drawn up by Marx, adopted and confumed, further tions. The second
defined this aim : "It declares, further, that it is essential today that the
"That the emancipation of the working classes must be land s~ould become communal property"
conquered by the working classes themselves; that the was earned by fifty-three to eight with ten abstentions. This
struggle for the emancipation of the working classes outcome w~s u~versa~y reco~ised as expressing the victory
means not a sb-uggle for class privileges and monopolies, of commumsm m the mternabonal working-class movement
but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all and the defeat of Proudhonism or other varieties of petty-
class rule; bourgeois reformism.
"That the economical subjection of the man of labour (iii) Trade Unions and Strikes
to the monopoliser of the means of labour, that is, the One of the most important achievements of the First Inter-
sources of life, lies at the bottom of servitude in all its national was the clarification of the attitude to trade unionism
forms, of all social misery, mental degradation a~d and strikes. On the one hand, the English reformist trade
political dependence; union leaders saw the wage struggle as an end in itself within
"That the economical emancipation of the working a permanent capitalist framework. On the other hand, the
disciples of Proudhon saw the trade unions mainly as a means The Brussels Congress in 1868 gave fwther consideration
for raising funds for mutual credit schemes, and looked with to the question of strikes, on the basis of written reports of the
hostility on strikes, even boasting that the representatives of practical experience of the strike movement during the pre-
the International in France that is, the Proud.honists, had ceding years. The Congress concluded that, while strikes
succeeded in frustrating plans for strikes. could not secure the complete enfranchisement of the workers,
At the Geneva Congress in 1866 a Report of the General they were often necessary under the actual conditions of the
Council, drafted by Marx, on "Trade Unions, their Past, struggle between labour and capital. It recommended the for-
Present and Future", was adopted, and remains a classic state- mation of trade unions in all trades which were not yet
ment on this question. organised, and the federation of these unions in all trades both
"The trade unions, uniting the wage workers and put- nationally and internationally. Delegates from the various
ting an end to the mutual competition which weakens trade unions federated in each locality should appoint dele-
them, make it possible for them to escape from the un- gates to form a council which would decide upon the oppor-
favourable situation in which the units of labour power tuneness and legitimacy of any proposed strike.
are placed in face of the concentrated force of capital. The International not only dealt in principle with the ques-
The immediate task of the trade unions is restricted to the tion of trade unionism and strikes, but directly organised
needs of the daily struggle between labour and capital- international solidarity. When employers in Britain imported
in a word, to questions of wages and working hours. On workers from Belgium, Holland and France to break strikes
the other hand, the trade unions involuntarily become of British workers, the General Council intervened directly
organising centres for the working class, just as in the with the imported workers to induce them to return, and the
Middle Ages the communes and municipalities served as British unions compensated the imported for their loss of time
centres of organisation for the bourgeoisie. While, how- after they had refused to act as scabs. Similarly, when the
ever, the trade unions are absolutely indispensable in the Paris bronze workers came on strike in 1867, the General
daily struggle between labour and capital, still more im- Council appealed to British unions for support, and more than
portant is their other aspect as instruments for transform- £1,000 was sent, leading to the victory of the Paris strikers.
ing the system of wage-labour and for overthrowing the The reports of the General Council to successive Congresses
dictatorship of capital. give many instances of such organisation of practical inter-
"At the present time, the trade unions a.re too much con- national aid and solidarity. This led to the very rapid growth
cerned with the problems of the immediate struggle, and of the influence and high repute of the International among
do not sufficiently recognise the necessity for grappling the workers of the various European countries, and also to
with the very foundations of the capitalist system. In this some extent in the United States. It also contributed to the
respect, however, there has already been a change for the corresponding ferocious hatred and panic fear of the Inter-
better.... Henceforward the trade unions, in addition to national among the employers and ruling class, whose press
carrying on the struggle against capitalist oppression, began to paint fantastic scare stories of the International as
must consciously function as organising centres for the some sinister all-powerful organisation with vast funds (the
working class in its desire to achieve the sublime purpose finances were always pitifuls) and agents everywhere.
of complete emancipation. The unions must support
every social and political movement tending in this direc- 1
tion. Marching forward as the leaders, the champions, the ·'The Council in its published Report to the Congress of Basie (1869) ridi-
cules the ~ug~ tre&:sur~s with which ~e. busy ton~e of the European police
representatives of the whole working class, they will nod the wild unngmation of the capitalist had endowed it. It says, 'If these
attract to their side all the proletarians, even the most b~~~· ~ough good Christians, had happened to live at the time of nascent
Stw-Puularpty1 they would have hurried to a Roman bank there to .Pry into
backward, even the agricultural workers." · a s oalarice.' " (Marx, A Reply in the First Intematfonal, 1878.)
(iv) Cooperatives regard itself as "a specialist in cooperation" to lay down one
In view of the very wide prevalence at that time of theories particular system of cooperation, but should only ,clarify cer-
of the transformation of society by means of cooperatives, put tain principles. Rea.ffirmin.g the line of the Inaugural Address,
forward in varying forms by the followers of Proudhon in the Report emphasised the positive value of "the cooperative
France, the followers of Lassalle in Germany, and by many movement" as "one of the forces transforming contemporary
Owenites and Cooperators in Britain, this question had to be society, which is based on class antagonism"; and from this
considered by the International. standpoint especially emphasised the importance of pro-
Already the Inaugural Address had made clear the position ducers' cooperatives, urging that consumers' cooperatives
in principle. The Address emphasised "the value of these great should endeavour to advance to this level. At the same ti.me
social experiments" represented by the cooperative movement the Report, adopted by the Congress, warned that
and cooperative factories as having "shown that production "The cooperative movement is incompetent, by its own
on a large scale, and in accord with the behest of modem unaided powers, to achieve a transformation of the
science may be carried on without the existence of a class of capitalist order of society. This transformation can only
masters employing a class of hands". At the same time the be effected by a general change in the whole social struc-
Address warned : ture, which can be brought about in no other way than
"However excellent in principle, and however useful by the organised forces of society. That is why the
in practice, cooperative labour, if kept within the narrow workers must seize the administrative power, wresting it
circle of the casual efforts of private workmen, will never from the hands of the capitalists and the landlords."
be able to arrest the growth in geometrical progression
(v) Labour Legislation
of monopoly, to free the masses, nor even to perceptibly
Sharp controversy existed on the question of labour protec-
lighten the burden of their miseries. It is perhaps for this
tive legislation. Thus the supporters of Proudhon opposed
very reason that plausible noblemen, philanthropic
legislation for the protection of women in industry on the
middle-class spouters, and even keen political economists,
grounds that the place of woman was in the home, and that
have all at once turned nauseously complimentary to the
women should not be employed in industry. Others criticised
very cooperative labour system they had vainly tried to
labour protective legislation on the grounds that this meant
nip in the bud by deriding it as the Utopia of the dreamer,
to mitigate and thereby perpetuate the existing capitalist
or stigmatising it as the sacrilege of the Socialist. To save
system. The Geneva Congress in 1866, in accordance with the
the industrious masses, cooperative labour ought to be
views of Marx on this question, followed up the emphatic
developed to national dimensions, and, consequently, to
declaration of the Inaugural Address that
be fostered by national means. Yet the lords of land and
the lords of privilege will always use their political "The Ten Hours' Bill was not only a great practical
privileges for the defence and perpetuation of their success; it was the victory of a principle; it was the first
economical monopolies." time that in broad daylight the political economy of the
Hence the conclusion that the main task must be the conquest middle class succwnbed to the political economy of the
of political power by the working class. working class."
The General Council's Report to the Geneva Congress in The Congress endorsed the aims of the eight hour working
1866 returned to this question. The Report trod the delicate day, and the regulation of the work of women and young
ground with care. It began by pointing out that one of the people in industry (in the latter case to combine industrial
tasks of the International must be to extend and unify the training with general education). The Congress resolution
spontaneous movement of the working class without imposing declared that
on it any doctrinaire system. Hence the Congress should not 'by compelling the adoption of such laws, the working
class will not consolidate the ruling powers, but, on the the working-class struggle for social emancipation with the
conb:ary, it will be turning that power which is at present national liber:ation struggle. The foundation of the Inter-
used against it, into its own instrument." national had taken place at the demonstration held in honour
The resolution of the Geneva Congress is of especial import- of the Polish uprising of 1863. This theme was continued in
ance for illuminating the revolutionary understanding of the the Inaugural Address.
fight for reforms. The General Council's Report to the Geneva Congress in
(vi) Necessity for an Independent Political Party of the 1866 proclaimed "the need for annulling Russian influence in
Working Class. Europe" (that is, the influence of Tsarist reaction as then the
In the mortal battle which developed during the later years bulwark of rea?tio1.1 in Europe) "through enforcing the right
of the International against the anarchist views and disruptive of self-detenmnatrnn, and through the reconstitution of
activities of the followers of Bakunin, who denounced what Poland upon democratic and social foundations."
they were pleased to call the "centralisation" and "authoritar- Similarly in relation to Britain's rule over Ireland the
ianism" and "dictatorship" of the elected General Council, led initiative of Marx was tireless in rallying the General Council
by Marx,andadvocatedspontaneity from below, with no lead- including the very moderate trade union leaders in Britain,
ing organ above, it became necessary to define the key role on the side of the Irish national struggle. In 1866 the General
of the independent political party of the working class. This Council sent a delegation to the Secretary of State for Ireland
was done at the London Conference in 1871 and the Hague to protest against th.e outrages committed by the British forces
Congress in 1872. The London Conference laid down that {l) of coercion. Numerous resolutions were adopted by the
against the collective power of the propertied classes, the General Council, and in January, 1870, a conlidential circular
proletariat could only act as a class by forming itself into a of the General Council was drawn up which brought out the
distinct/olitical party opposed to all the old political parties key importance of the Irish national struggle for English work-
that ha been formed by the propertied classes; (2) that this ing-class emancipation:
formation of a proletarian political party was an indispensable "It is the task of the International everywhere to put
preliminary to the b:iumph of the social revolution and to the the conflict between England and Ireland in the fore-
achievement of its supreme aim, the abolition of classes; and ground, and everywhere to side openly with Ireland. And
(3) that the union of working-class forces which had already it is the special task of the Central Council in London to
been achieved by the industrial struggle, must also serve as awaken a consciousness in the English workers that for
a lever which the working masses could use in their struggle them the national emancipation of Ireland is no question
against the political power of the landlords and the capitalists. of abstract justice or humanitarian sentiment, but the first
The Hague Congress resolution of 1871 declared : condition of their own emancipation.
"In its fight against the collective forces of the posses- "These roughly are the main points of the Circular
sing classes, the proletariat can only act as a class by Letter, which thereby at the same time gave the raison
organising its forces into an independent political party, d'etre of the resolution of the Central Council on the Irish
working in opposition to all the old parties formed by the amnesty."
possessing classes. Such an organisation of the proletariat (Marx, letter to S. Meyer and A. Vogt, April 9, 1870)
as a political party is indispensable in order to achieve
{viii) War and Peace and F o1'eign Policy.
the b:iumph of the social revolution, and above all, to
attain its Ultimate aim, the abolition of classes." The era of the First International was an era of successive
wars. During the first year of its existence the American Civil
(vii) National Question War was still raging. The troops of Napoleon III were
From the outset the First International consistently linked engaged in Mexico. The victorious war of Prussia and Austria.
over Denmark had secured the annexation of Schleswig- carried the destiny of their class". Similarly after the assassi-
Holstein just after the foundation of the International. There nation of Lincoln the General Council sent in May, 1865, a
followed the war of Prussia on Austria in 1866, and the Franco- message to his successor, President Andrew Johnson, pro-
German War of 1870-71. This is to leave out of account the claiming the "universal outburst of popular feeling" against
normal colonial wars of the British and other imperialists, such the "infamy" of the assassination, and looking forward to "the
as the war against the Maoris in New Zealand, the suppression arduous work of political reconstruction and social regene-
of the Jaroaican rising in 1867, the suppression of the Fenian ration" in the United States "to initiate the new era of the
rising in Ireland in the same year, or the British invasion of emancipation of labour".
Ethiopia also in that year. The Geneva Congress in 1866, alongside the call for "the
From the outset the International concerned itself with right of self-determination" in Europe, dealt with the question
questions of war and foreign policy. In a famous passage the of the armed forces. The resolution called for the abolition of
Inaugural Address declared : standing armies, and their replacement by a general arming
"If the emancipation of the working classes requires of the people through people's militias, with a temporary
their fraternal concurrence, how are they to fulfil th.at transitional period of small standing armies for the purpose
great mission with a foreign policy in pursuit of criminal of training officers of the militia.
designs, playing upon national prejudices, and squander- On the outbreak of the war between Prussia and Austria
ing in piratical wars the people's blood and treasure?" in 1866 the General Council published a resolution denounc-
Recent events, continued the Address, referring to the sup- ing the war as a quarrel between two despots, with neither
pression of the Polish rising, and the endeavours of the rulers of whom the proletariat could have any sympathy. The work-
of Western Europe to intervene on the side of slavery in ing class must be permeated with one idea and with one will,
America, endeavours only defeated by the resistance of the to overthrow all the tyrants at a single blow, and to achjeve
English working class, its own complete emancipation.
"have taught the working classes the duty to master The Lausanne Congress in 1867 adopted a resolution on
themselves the mysteries of international politics; to the question of war and peace declaring :
watch the diplomatic acts of their respective Govern- "That the burden of war is borne mainly by the working
ments; to counteract them, jf necessary, by all means in class, inasmuch as war does not only deprive the workers
their power; when unable to prevent, to combine in of the means of subsistence but compels them to shed one
simultaneous denunciations, and to vindicate the simple another's blood;
laws of morals and justice, which ought to govern the "That armed peace paralyses the forces of production,
relations of private individuals, as the rules paramount asks of the workers nothing but useless labour, and scares
of the intercourse of nations. production by the pe1petual threat of war;
"The fight for such a foreign policy forms part of the "That peace, since it is the first requisite of general
general struggle for the emancipation of the working well-being, must be consolidated by a new order of things
classes." which shall no longer recognise in society the existence
On the re-election of Abraham Lincoln as President the of two classes, one of which is exploited by the other."
General Council in November, 1864, unanimously adopted a On this basis the Congress sent a delegation to the Peace Con-
congratulatory message to him as "the single-minded son of gress about to be held at Geneva and pledged support "in any
the working class" in the battle against the "counter- activities to achieve the abolition of standing armies and the
revolution" of the South, and affirming that "from the com- maintenance of peace, the aim of the Association being to
mencement of the Titanic-American strife the working men bring about with the utmost dispatch the emancipation of the
of Europe felt instinctively that the star·spangled banner working class and its liberation from the power and influence
of capital, and also to effect the formation of a confederation "It invites all the sections of the Association in their
of free States throughout Europe". respective countries, and also all working class societies,
On the question of bourgeois pacifism, represented by the and all workers' groups of whatever kind, to take the most
League for Peace and Freedom, which organised the Geneva vigorous action to prevent a war between the pe<Yples,
Congress, there was a difference at the outset. Marx had which today could not be considered anything else than
opposed the participation agreed at Lausanne, regarding the a civil war, seeing that, since it would be waged between
League as an attempted bourgeois alternative to the Inter- the producers, it would only be a struggle between
national, and source of confusion, and making clear that all brothers and citizens;
individuals and organisations who wished to support the aims "The Congress urges the workers to cease work should
of internationalism and peace could join the International. war break out in their respective countt'ies;
By the following year the General Council had become con- "The Congress has sufficient confidence in the spirit of
vinced of the correctness of Marx's viewpoint, and the solidarity animating the workers of all lands, to hope that
Brussels Congress in 1868 rejected an invitation from the their support will not be wanting to this war of
League and invited its members to join the International. peoples against war."
By the time of the Brussels Congress in 1868 the war ques- This most far-reaching and uncompromising resolution of
tion was the first item on the agenda. The shadows of the the old First I~temational breathes the spirit of the working-
Franco-German War were already gathering. The Congress class .fight against capitalist wars. The method proposed at
adopted a resolution calling for working-class action to that time was the then still untried formula of the general
prevent the outbreak of war. This resolution declared: strike against war, which subsequent experience, as in the
"That, although the chief and persistent cause of war Franco-German war two years later, showed to be easier to
is a lack of economic equilibrium, and that therefore proclaim in peacetime than to fulfil in the conditions of the
nothing can put an end to war except social reorganisa- outbreak of a major capitalist war. For this reason the later use
tion, nevertheless an auxila.ny cause of war is the arbitrary of this formula in the debates of the Second International by
use of force which results from centralisation and from would-be-fire-eaters like Gustave Herve (who became with
despotism; the outbreak of the war of 1914 a fire-eating chauvinist) turned
"That therefore the peoples can henceforward lessen into the brandishing of an empty formula in place of a serious
the frequency of war by opposing those who make war political approach to the problem. The formulation presented
or declare war; by Lenin and Luxemburg in the debates of the Second Inter-
"That this right belongs especially to the working national on the fight against war, and adopted by the Con-
classes, who are almost exclusively subject to military ser- gresses of the Second International in 1907, 1910 and 1912,
vice, and that they alone can give it a sanction; provided a more profound and realist approach to the problem
"That they have, to this end, a practical, legitimate and of the working-class fight against war, which proved its
immediately realisable method; efficacy and success in the victory of the Russian revolution.
"That in fact social life cannot be carried on if produc- . M.arx, who was not present at the Brussels Congress, had no
tion be suspended for a certain time; that it will therefore illus1ons about the formula of the general strike against war,
suffice that the producers should cease producing for and made clear his realist view in a letter at the ti.me
them to put a stop to the enterprises of the personal and to Eccarius, whom he regarded as the representative of his
despotic governments; viewpoint at the Congress. He warned that the Congress
"The Congress of the International Working Men's would not be effectively representative, with dominantly
Association, assembled at Brussels, records its most French representation, and that therefore "decisions on
emphatic protest against war; general theoretical problems must be avoided".
sentiments, we join hands with you.... We assure you that
''The public is of course mostly interested in the ques-
there is no trace of national hatred in our hearts." A Manifesto
tion of war. Lengthy declamations and high-flown phrases of the Paris Federation on July 12, 1870 denounced "the war
will not hurt here. The decision to be adopted on this cries of those who run no risks". The reply of the Berlin
question seems to be simply this: that the working class
Federation proclaimed:
is not yet sufficiently organised to throw any substantial "With heart and with hand we endorse your proclama·
weight into the scales; that the Congress, however, ti.on. We solemnly declare that neither the beating of the
protests in the name of the working class and denounces drums, nor the thunder of the guns, nor victory, nor
the instigators of the war; that a war between France defeat, shall hinder our efforts to bring about a union of
and Germany is a civil war, ruinous for both countries
the proletarians of all lands."
and ruinous for Europe in general." Within four days of the outbreak of the war the General
(Marx, letter to J. G. Eccarius and F. Lessner,
Council of the International issued on July 23 a manifesto,
September 10, 1868) drafted by Marx, which laid the blame for the war jointly on
The correctness of this realist approach of Marx, in contrast ~apoleon and the Prussian Government, and, while recognis-
to the rhetoric of the Brussels resolution, was proved in the ing that the war at the outset bore a defensive character for
outcome. The last Congress of the First International before Germany (the facts of the forged Ems telegram designed to
the Franco-German War was held at Basle in 1869, a year provoke the French declaration of war were not then known),
before the outbreak of war. As chance would have it, the last warned the German workers against allowing it to become a
Congress of the Second International before the war of 1914 war of conquest. In the midst of war the Manifesto
was also held at Basie, in 1912. The next Congress of the First
proclaimed :
International was due to have been held in Paris in "At a time when official France and official Germany
September, 1870. The next Congress of the Second Inter- are engaged in a fratricidal war> the German and the
national was due to have been held in Vienna in August, 1914. French workers are exchanging peaceful and fraternal
In each case the outbreak of war swept aside the arrange- messages. This one great fact, unparalleled in history
ments for the impending Congress. But unlike the Second justifies the hope of a brighter future." '
International, the First International met the stem test of war All s~ctions of. the Intemational responded in support of
with honour. the anti-war Manifesto. In the North-German Reichstag Behel
and Wilhelm Liebknecht, the leaders of the German Social
5. THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR AND THE COMMUNE Democra!ic Party founded at Eisenach in the preceding year,
Already in 1867, as the shadows of the Franco·German war and affiliated to the International, voted against the war
gathered, public messages were exchanged, from the Berlin credits, and were soon after prosecuted for high treason. On
workers to the Paris workers, and from the Pa1is workers to the. other hand, the followers of Lassalle, organised in the
the Berlin workers, proclaiming solidarity against the Uruon of German Workers, which was not affiliated to the
threatening war. International, voted for the war credits. It is characteristic
On the very eve of the war within four days of its outbreak, ~at. the present-~ay ext;,eme right-wing and anti-Marxist
the Paris section of the International sent an address, signed Social Democra~c Party in West Germany should have in
by all their leading members (including Tolain, one of the co- 1963 cele~rat~d its centen~ry, thus claiming its descent from
founders of the International, Eugene Pottier, subsequently the organisation of the B1smarckian associate Lassalle and
the author of "L'Internationale", Camelinat and others), to the the Prussian social·patriots rather than Bebel a~d Liebk~echt.
German workers proclaiming solidarity; "German Brothers I ~ter the defeat of the French army at Sedan and the capitu-
... war between us would be frahicidal." The Berlin section lation of Napoleon III, and following the proclamation of the
of the International sent their reply: "Inspired with fraternal
French Republic on September 4, the General Council on ship, in most cases led by the followers of Blanqui, who were
September 9 issued a further manifesto, drafted by Marx, especially strong in Paris (Blanqui, who had led the insurrec-
which declared that "the Prussian war camarilla is determined tion which held Paris for a few hours on October 31, was
to transform the war into a war of conquest", called on the arrested on March 17, the day before the Commune, and was
German workers to oppose the annexation of Alsace and Lor- held prisoner all through the Commune, so that the Commune
raine, and warned that the forcible annexation of Alsace and was, as Marx said, deprived of a head), and in some cases
Lorraine by Prussia would throw France into the arms of provoked by the anarchist followers of Bakunin. The General
Tsarisrn and thus prepare the way for a new European war Council of the International in its manifesto of September 9
between Germany and a Franco-Russian alliance. Against ~is had warned the French workers against the "desperate folly"
menace the manifesto called on the workers of all countries of premature attempts to overthrow the newly constituted
to rally: bourgeois republic. At the same time the leaders of the Paris
"Let the branches of the International Working Men's Federation of the International were active participants in the
Association in all lands summon the working class to revolutionary vigilance councils of the twenty Paris districts
action. If they fail to fulfil this duty, if they remain pas- and in the central republican committee which linked the
sive, thepresentdisastrous war will be merely the prelude councils of the twenty districts and acted as the focus of the
to yet more murderous international confticts, and every- revolutionary movement. When Thiers at the head of the
where the lords of war, land and capital will triumph bourgeois government surrendered besieged Paris to the Ger-
anew over the workers. Long live the Republic." mans (who did not dare occupy more than a fraction of it, for
In Germany already on September 5, the day after the fear of the resistance of the Paris workers and soldiers), and
proclamation of the French R~public, t~e Brunswick .com- made his truce with the German High Command in order
mittee of the Social-Democratic Party issued a manifesto, to organise the election of a reactionary "National Assembly"
drafted by Marx, addressed to the German workers. This with a monarchist majority, the class confrontation between
manifesto demanded an honourable peace with the French Thiers with his counter-revolutionary "National Assembly"
Republic, and called for working-class demonstrations and the mass of the Paris workers and 200,000 National
throughout Germany to protest against the annexation of Guards, who had elected their Central Committee, became
Alsace Lo1Taine from France. On September 9 the members inescapable. When Thiers sought to disarm the National
of the committee were arrested, followed by arrests of social- Guard, the workers and people of Paris rose in unity with the
democrats in other German towns; and Behel and Wilhelm resistance of the National Guard, and took over Paris. Thiers
Liebknecht were tried for high treason and sentenced to two Hed to Versailles, to organise the counter-revolution under the
years confinement in a fortress. . protection of the German troops. The Commune was pro-
In France, with the collapse of Napoleon, the Republic had claimed on March 18, 1871.
been proclaimed on September 4, but under the leadership of The Paris Commune was the first demonstration in history
the bourgeoisie, whose _political and military representatives of working-class power, of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
were more concerned tas in 1940) to defeat the internal For six weeks the Paris workers held power, and blazed the
enemy than to put up any resistance to the German armies. trial for all the world to follow. When the revolution was
Varied attempts at working-class and radical revolt took place crushed in blood, with thirty thousand shot (the "September
in Paris and the leading towns of France against the treachery massacres" of the French Revolution, which aroused such still
of the bourgeoisie and for revolutionary aims. In Marseilles echoing expressions of horror from the "civilised" world, num-
the town hall was held by the insurgents for four days from bered three hundred), with 45,000 more arrested, and masses
October 31 to November 4. All these attempts were crushed in deported or exiles and refugees, the example was set for the
blood. These attempts were mixed in character and leader- subsequent limitless brutality of the modem bourgeois
counter-revolution since 1917, the White Terror and fascism. were drawn the lessons to point the way to the future victory
Marx and the International, irrespective of previous warn- of the working-class revolution. In the forefront were the two ·
ingsagainstthe dangers of a premature uprising, and irrespec- lessons. First, in the words of Marx, to make the task "no
tive of the many grave errors of revolutionary strategy on the longer, as before to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine
part of the still confused and all too tolerant and dilatory from one hand to the other, but to smash it" as "essential for
leadership of the Commune, rallied without hesitation to the every real people's revolution on the Continent" (Letter to
support and vindication of the Com~une. T~e su~port ~f ~ Kugelmann, April 17, 1871). Second, the indispensable neces-
sections in all countries was orgamsed to give aid. W1thm sity of a revolutionary working-class party to lead the
two davs of the fall of the Commune the General Council put working-class revolution to victory, mainl'ain it against its
out its' immortal Manifesto in honour of the Commune and enemies, and carry forward the construction of socialism. This
to expose for ever the lies of its traducers; one of ~~ greate~t lesson was underlined in the resolution (given on page 66) of
and most inspiring of the works of Marx, The Civil War m the ensuing London Conference of the International in 1871
Fmnce. and of the Hague Congress in 1872.
The International was neither the initiator, nor the leader
of the Commune. Of the ninety-two members of the Com- 6. DIVISIONS AND DISSOLUTION
mune, the elected leading organ after the bourgeoisie and The Commune was the culmination and high point of the
counter-revolutionaries had departed to Versailles, only seven- International. After its overthrow the disintegration began.
teen were members of the International. Tolain, who betrayed Police persecution outlawed the International in most of the
the Commune and fled to Versailles, was expelled from the countries of Europe.
International. The members of the International while The coalition of the very varied and conflicting elements of
occupied in the particular spheres.of work of the Cmn~une, the nascent working-class movement (the "naive conjunction
mainly in the economic and social field, were not m the of all factions", as Engels described it, looking back in 1874),
dominant leadership of the Commune. Among those who gave which had been held together by the genius and tactical skill
their lives for the Commune was Varlin. Many nationals from of Marx during the eighteen-sixties, could not survive the
other countries, inspired by the principles of the International, shock of revolutionary events and testing.
took part in the Commune; and a special del~gation sent by On the one hand, the English trade union leaders, who had
the International became a permanent delegation to the Com· s~pported th~ Inte~ati~nal mainly as an instrument for prac-
mune. tical trade umon sohdanty and as an organ for the expression
In a deeper sense the Commune was, in the words of Engels, of general democratic and peace sentiments, drew away after
"the child of the International intellectually" (letter to Sorge, the Commune and proceeded to disassociate themselves from
September 12, 1874): The aim of the po~tical power of. the the spectre of continental revolution. It is true-and there is
working class, proclaimed by the International, here received no more remarkable testimony to the eloquent persuasiveness
its first practical demonstration. In the words of Marx: and mor~ authority of Marx-that nineteen of the twenty-
"The struggle of the working class with the capitalist one Enghsh members of the General Council signed one of the
class has, thanks to the Parisian fight, entered a new greatest .revolutionary documents of the century, the burning
phase. However the affa~ ma~ end, from this time ~e panegync of the Commune and indictment of the counter-
have attained a new starting-pomt and one of world wide revolution, embodied in The Civil War in France. Only two,
historical significance." Odger and Lucraft, refused to sign and resigned from the Jn.
(Marx, letter to Kugelmann, April 17, 1871) temational. But in practice after the Commune, and in face of
From the experience of the Commune, not only from its the hysterical press campaign of denunciation which was
positive achievements, but also from its errors and weaknesses, whipped up, the "solid... respectable leaders of English trade
unionism dropped away from the International. In the end announcement of voluntary dissolution of the Alliance, and
all but one of the English trade union leaders on the General the decision of the Basle Congress giving the Genernl Council
Council resigned from it, and some of them set up a separate the right to grant or refuse affiliation to any organisation,
Federal Council for Britain apart from the General Council, subject to appeal to a following Congress, and on this basis
though with its agreement. declared the question of the Alliance "settled". The most im-
On the other hand, the anarchists, who sought to present portant political decision of the London Conference was the
themselves as the supposedly ultra-revolutionary ultra-left resolution setting out the necessity of an independent poli-
"liberation" opposition to the "authoritarianism" and . tical party of the working class as indispensable for the victory
"dictatorship" of Marx, saw their moment of opportunity, with of the social revolution. The Conference further decided that
the weakening of working class support, the main cadres of the next Congress should be held in the following year.
the French movement destroyed or in prison, and police per- Bakunin and the anarchists challenged the decisions of the
secution crippling organisation everywhere, to pursue their London Conference, and held a separate conference in
intrigues for factionalism and disruption. Already Bakunin, Switzerland, constituting what was called the Jura Federation.
the representative of anarchism, had characteristically at first In the name of the Jura Federation a circular was sent out to
refused to join the International, and instead joined the bour- all organisations of the International. This circular consisted
geois League for Peace and Freedom, becoming a member of of a violent denunciation of the General Council and its lead-
its executive committee. Breaking with this in 1868, he had ership, obviously directed against Marx in particular, although
then formed his own International Social Democratic the name of Marx was not mentioned. The General Council
Alliance, with a programme described by Marx as "a hash was accused of "authoritarianism" and "dictatorship"; impos-
scraped together from the right and from the left''. In 1869 he ing "orthodoxy" and treating dissident opinions as ''heretical";
proposed that the Alliance should enter the International as introducing "the authoritarian spirit" into the International;
an organised body, or its sections enter as organisations, and, and seeking to transform the International into "a hierarchical
when this was refused, promised to dissolve the Alliance and organisation guided and governed by an executive". The
join as individuals. In practice, however, the organisation of General Council should only be "a correspondence and
the Alliance was maintained as a faction, and conflicts were statistical bureau".
already opened at the Basle Congress. ''The unity which the Council i.s endeavouring to estab-
The main offensive of anarchism developed after the over- lish by means of centralisation and dictatorship, we shall
throw of the Commune and the offensive of counter-revolution realise by means of a free federation of autonomous
had weakened the working-class basis and organisation of the groups.... How could we expect an equalitarian and free
International <and thus rendered it more vulnerable to attack. society to issue from an authoritarian organisation? Such
The Alliance built up rival organisations in countries with a thing would be impossible. The International, that germ
more backward development of the working class, of the human society of the future, must be ... a faithful
principally in Spain, Portugal, Italy and French-speaking representation of our principles of freedom and of
Switzerland. The offensive was especially directed against the federation; it must reject any principle which may tend
conception of working-class political party organisation, and towards authoi;itarianism and dictatorship."
against the rights and powers of the General Council as a The terms of the anarchist anti-communist language directed
central leadership. A preliminary Conference of the Inter- against Marx in his day, and exactly parallelled against Lenin
national was accordingly convened in London in September, in his day, are still familiar, even with identical repetition of
1871, to consider the new questions arising and prepare a the old nineteenth century "libertarian" catchwords, in some
Congress. The London Conference dealt with the question of the most recent would-be '1eft" and "new thinking" anti-
of the factional activities of the Alliance by recalling the communist quarters today.
The battle was joined at the Hague Congress in September, the social revolution (the text of the key passage is given on
1872-"a life-or-death matter for the International", in the p.66). '
words of Marx referring to the coming Congress in a letter On the question of Bakunin and the factional activities of
to Sorge on June 21, 1872. Both Marx and Engels attended as the Alliance, the Congress appointed a committee of investi-
delegates. The Congress showed the widest international gation, and on the report of the committee finding the charges
representation of any Congress of the International, includjng proved and recommending expulsion -of those responsible,
delegates from branches in Australia and America. The con- carried the expulsion of Bakunfu. and his main associate, and
flict was already sharp over credentials. The Marxists, in the warned the others.
broad sense of supporters of political action and organisation Victory has thus been won for Marxism at the Hague Con-
of the working class and of effective powers of the General gress, though it had required a heavy battle. But in view of the
Council, were in a majority. The Bakuninists were in a altered conditions of the working-class movement, as already
minority. described, after the fall of the Commune, and the dangerous
Two issues were the centre of the battle. The first was signs of weakened organisation and disintegration opening the
democratic centralism or the powers of the General Council. way to attempts at :factional disruption, to have attempted to
"The General Council," said Sorge, speaking for the majority, continue the International in the old way would have played
"must be the General Staff of the Association." The Congress into the hands o~ the disrupters. Marx and Engels accordingly
adopted amendments to the Rules to strengthen the powers moved a resolution for the transfer of the General Council to
of the General Conncil, including the right to suspend New York, and for its members to be composed from members
branches or federations, but with the right of appeal to the of the Federal Council for North America. The resolution was
next Congress, and to strengthen internal discipline. This carried, against the opposition, not only of the Bakuninists, b11t
power of the General Council was, as Marx emphasised in the also of the Blanquists who had supported the Marxists
debate, not a physical power, but a moral one. In his speech over the other issues, but who now withdrew from the
to the rally in Amsterdam following the Congress Marx again Congress.
emphasises this character of democratic centralisation as The transfer?nce to New York was in political reality,
representing a moral authority : though not yet m form, the end of the First Intemational. It is
'Who but our enemies have any reason to feel true that Marx and Engels entertained some hopes at first that
suspicious of the powers of the General Council? Does the rapid development of capitalism and the working~class
it possess a bureaucracy? Does it command the services movement in North America might provide an effective basis
of an armed police force whereby it can force obedience? for further growth, unimpeded by the anarchist confusions
Is not its authority purely moral? When it comes to any at the moment affecting some sections, mainly in South.em
Europe. But these hopes were not fulfilled. An attempt was
declarations, does it not communicate these to the federa-
made to hold another Congress of the International at Geneva
tions, and is it not the federations that are charged with
in 1877; but this was a failure. The anarchists attempted to
carrying them out? Kings in such a position, kings with-
form an Anarchist International, which held congresses, but
out soldiers, policemen or officials, would be able to offer gradually petered out. The history of the First International in
little resistance to the progress of the revolution, had they the United States from 1872 to 1876 belon:gs really to the
to rely solely upon moral ini:luence and moral authority." history of the American labour movement. In 1876, after a
The second issue was political action and organisation of the Congress of the International had been convened at
working class. Here the Congress carried the weighty resolu- Philadelphia, but only one foreign delegate, from the German
tion on the necessity of an independent political party of the Social-Democratic Party, had arrived, the General Council
working class as the indispensable condition for the victory of of the International was formally dissolved, the North
American Federal Council being commissioned to maintain in a new and strengthened form was expressed by Engels in
the documents and international connections and convene a 1874:
future International Congress if opportunity arose. "With your resignation the old International is anyhow
entirely wound up and at an end.... Any further effort
7. lDSTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL to galvanise it into new life would be folly and a waste
The record and example of the First International, guided of energy. For ten years the International dominated one
by the teaching and direct leadership of Marx, remains a per- side of European history-the side on which the future
manent inspiration for the working-class movement. Its weak.- lies-and can look back upon its work with pride. But in
nesses sprang from the still elementary stage of the organised its old formithas outlived its usefulness. I believe the next
working-class movement. But the courage, initiative and International-after Marx's writings have exercised their
leadership displayed on every issue arising in the world dwing influence for some years-will be directly Communist
those eight years of its effective existence, and the masterly and will Eroclaim precisely our principles."
definition of guiding principles on so many of the till then {Engels, letter to Sorge, September 12-17, 1874)
uncleared and hotly contested key questions of the economic The immediately next International, the Second Inter-
and political struggle, the programmatic aims of working-class national, only partially fulfilled this prediction. Marxist theory
political power and collective ownership, tactical methods was in principle accepted, but became increasingly corroded
and the role of the trade unions and political party in the leading democratic parties of Western and Central
organisation, and democratic centralism, remain an immortal Europe by reformism and revisionism, with the consequent
inheritance and treasurehouse for all subsequent develop- collapse of 1914. The prediction of Engels of a future Com-
ment. Directly from the First International and its initial munist International received its fulfilment forty-five years
organisation and influence arose the main political working- later with the foundation of the Communist International in
class parties, based on the aim of socialism and guided by 1919.
Marxist theory, of the subsequent period. From the First It is of interest to note that in March, 1870, a Russian section
International derives the modem international working-class of the First International was founded in Geneva. The
movement and modem communism. members of the Russian section of the First International
Commenting on the transfer of the General Council to New nominated Karl Marx as their representative on the General
York, Marx wrote in 1873 : Council, and at the same time sent Marx their programme and
"As I view European conditions it is quite useful to let rules for approval. Marx wrote with amusement to Engels
the formal organisation of the International recede into in 1870 that he had become "the representative of Young
Russia". In the last days of the First International the links
the background for the time being .... Events and the
with the future had begun to appear.
inevitable development and complication of things will
of themselves see to it that the International shall rise
again in improved form. . . . Furthermore it upsets the
calculations of the Continental governments that the
spectre of the International will fail to be of service to
them dwing the impending reactionary crusade; besides,
everywhere the bourgeoisie considers the spectre laid for
(Marx, letter to Sorge, September 27, 1873)
Similar confidence in the future rebirth of the International
leading theorist, Kautsky, and organ Die Neue Zeit were re-
garded generally as the oracles of Marxism after the death of
Engels until the First World War), and as the most successful
electorally in winning mass support. Already by 1890 it ob-
tained one and a half million votes, or one fifth of the total poll.
During the seventies Social-Democratic Parties were
formed in Austria, Denmark, France, Holland, Hungary,
Spain, Switzerland and the United States. During the eighties
parties were formed in Belgium, Britain, Norway, Russia and
CHAPTER IV Sweden. In other countries groups existed, or parties were in
process of formation.
Thus by the end of the eighties conditions had ripened for
THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL the renewed establishment of a working-class International,
on a broader representative basis, and with a general accept-
ance of the principles of Marxism by most of the constituent
"The Second International (1889-1914) was an inter-
national organisation of the proletarian movement whose
growth was in breadth, at the cost of a temporary fall in 1. FOUNDATION CONGRESS
the revolutionary level, a temporary increase in the ~he aim of international socialist and working-class organi-
strength of opporhmism, which in the end led to the sation was by no means dormant during these intervening
disgraceful collapse of this International." years. In 1877 an International Socialist Unity Congress was
LENIN The Third International and Its Place in held at Ghent, and a Federal Bureau was established, includ-
ing Liebknecht and other veterans of the First International·
and this organised a further Congress at Coire in Switzerland
in l 881. But it was there decided that conditions were not yet
Thirteen years passed between the end of the First Inter- ready for re-establishing a Socialist International. In 1888 an
national and the foundation of the Second. During these years International ~abour Conference was organised in London by
Social-Democratic or socialist Parties on the general basis of ~e Trades Umon Congress, but excluding socialist organisa-
Marxism developed in most of the countries of Europe and in tions. It became clear that Marxism would have to take the
a few outside Europe. lead to establish international socialist organisation. The
The First International had prepared the ground for this London Conference of 1888 adopted a decision for the con-
developm.ent. The parties in the leading countries developed vening o~ an International Labour Congress in Paris in 1889,
from parties or groups ah·eady associated with the First Inter- to est~blish ~ p~rmane::it international labour organisation,
national. The battles within the First International had clari- excluding socialist bodies. This exclusion was laid down by
fied the essential principles of socialism and socialist tactics, the Trades Union Congress. Accordingly the Marxist parties
and had established the supremacy of Marxism against the ~ook s~eps to. c?nvene an International Workers' Congress,
various rival theories which threatened confusion. including socialist organisations, to meet in Paris on the cen-
The German Social-Democratic Party was the oldest Social- tenary of the storming of the Bastille, on July 14, 1889.
Democratic Party, founded at Eisenach in 1869 under the . Th~s ~e Foundation Congress of the Second International
direct inspiration of Marx and Engels, and already affiliated m Pans m 1889, organised by the Marxist Socialist Parties was
to the First International. For decades it was regarded as the confronted by a rival reformist anti-Marxist internatlonal
model party, both as the guardian of Marxist theory (its
gathering organised by the French "possibilists" or the re- the Possibilist Congress of the opponents of Marxism.
formist party led by Brousse. The Organising Commission for The Foundation Congre~s was held in a revolutionary
the Marxist Congress included Behel and Liebknecht for the atmosphere. On th~, red banner behind the p_latform wer~ in,:
German Social-Democratic Party, Paul Lafargue for the scribed the words : Proletarians of all countnes, let us umte I
SocialistFederationofFrance, and delegates from the Belgian, On an emblazoned shield was inscribed the greeting of the
Dutch and Swiss parties, while William Morris for the Socialist French comrades : ·
League in Britain and delegates for the Danish party '1n the name of the Paris of June, 1848, and of March,
expressed agreement. The invitation to the Foundation Con- April and May, 1871, and of the Franc~ of Babeuf,
gress was signed by the representatives of sixteen countrie~, Blanqui and Varlin, greetings to the socialist workers of
including from Britain William Morris, Tom Mann and Kerr both worlds I"
Hardie. A further inscription proclaimed over the hall the slogan
Some moves were made for unification of the two gather- expressing the aims of the Congress :
ings. Gompers, the anti-socialist leader of the American "Political and Economic Expropriation of the Capitalist
Federation of Labour sent greetings to both gatherings, and Class ! Socialisation of the Means of Production I"
urged unification. Engels poured scorn on the proposals for Co-Chairmen of the Congress were Valliant and Wilhelm
amalgamation of the two Congresses, since he was convinced, Liebknecht. In his Chairman's address Vaillant declared that
as he wrote in a letter to Sorge on July 17, 1889, that it was the Congress represented "one of the greatest events in the
more important to let the workers see which represented the history of the peoples", and that it was the beginning of "a
real movement and which was a swindle, than to make a false new era of conscious and systematic efforts to represent the
show of unity. The moves for unification irrespective of prin- rights of the oppressed, an era of systematic and united action
ciple came to nothing. Subsequent unity was achieved on the on the part of the international proletariat for socialism".
basis of the Marxist International, while the would-be Such were the high hopes with which the Second Inter-
"Possibilist" International never came to life. national opened.
The International Congress convened by Marxism was over~ The principal immediate decision of the Congress was to
whelmingly stronger and more representative than the Pos- establish May Day as the international day of working-class
sibilist gathering. The latter consisted mainly of French demonstrations in all countries for the aims of the eight hour
reformist followers of Brousse, with very weak and limited day and the other resolutions of the Congress. The text of this
representation from outside France. The Marxist Congress historic resolution ran :
was attended by 467 delegates from twenty countries. "A great manifestation will be organised on a fixed date,
For the representation from Britain, it is interesting to note in such a way that simultaneously in all countries and in
that the Marxist Congress was attended by William Morris all towns on the same agreed day the workers will call
from the Socialist League, Eleanor Marx from the Hoxton upon the public authorities to reduce the working day by
Labour Association, and Keir Hardie on behalf of the Sheffield law to eight hours and to put the other resolutions of the
Socialist group (so entered in the official credentials report
Congress of Paris into effect.
of the Congress; in the letter of invitation to the Congress
"In view of the fact that a similar manifestation has
Hardie had been entered as representing the Ayrshire Mine-
workers' Union). Hyndman, on the other hand, the former already been decided for May 1, 1890, by the American
Tory who had come to profess a kind of Marxism (though dis- Federation of Labour at its Congress held at St. Louis in
owned by Marx) and founded the Social-Democratic Federa- December, 1888, this date is adopted for the international
tion, but never freed himself from his basic Tory jingo manifestation.
outlook of a wealthy capitalist, characteristically attended "The workers of the various countries will have to
parties and organisations which recognise the necessity of the
accomplish the manifestation under the conditions im- organisations of the workers and of political a~tion". This
posed on them by the particular situation in each Congress was participated in by the Trades Union Congress
country." ' Committee and Miners' Federation from Britain. At the
The plain aim of this resolution was to establish on May Day London Congress in 1896, out of 476 members of the British
a simultaneous international manifestation of working-class delegation, 185 came from trade unions or from local trades
strength-which, if May Day fell on a working day, would and labour councils. It was not until 1901 that a separate inter-
mean a strike. However, the last paragraph was added on the national trade union conference was held at Copenhagen, and
request of the German Social~Democrats, who did not wish in 1903 an International Secretariat of National Trade Union
to risk a renewal of the Anti-Socialist Law, due to expire in Centres was established, which grew into the Intemati~nal
1890. The German party insbucted their members not to strike Federation of Trade Unions in 1913.
on May Day, but to confine the celebration to meetings in the This loose composition facilitated the disruptive role of
evenings; the Blitish preferred the first Sunday in May. On anarchism duling the early years of the Second International.
the other hand, the French, Austrians, Hungarians and many We hav~ already se~n how anarchism disrupted the last phase
others sbuck on May Day and demonstrated working-class of the First I~t~ational. ~thoug~ successive Congresses laid
solidarity and internationalism in the streets, often in face of down the pnnc1ple~ of political act1?n and the aim of political
considerable police brutality {in North France in 1891 ten power of the working class, to which the anarchists were in
were killed). A bitter controversy followed, echoes of which fact opposed, anarchis~ participation continued during the
are still familiar today. Finally at the Third Congress at first seven years, both directly and through trade wiion repre-
Ziirich in 1893 a resolution was adopted which reaffirmed
in principle the "duty" of the international strike on May 1, Anarchism, reflecting the petty-bourgeois '1ibeitarian" out-
and added to the aim of the eight hour day the aim of "the loo~ of s~all property ground down by big capital, set the
social revolution" (revised to "social transformation" on the ultimate aim of communism, the elimination of any form of
request of the Germans), but left the form of manifestation to sta~e or co~rcio~, as an immediate aim. But the path to this
be decided by each party for itself. This compromise on May ulti~~ate aun lies t~ough ~he working-class conquest of
Day, carried with the support of the Germans and British political power, or d1ctatorsh1p of the proletariat, as the only
against the French, illustrated the subsequently familiar power strong eno~gh to break.the resistance of big capital and
method of the Second International to combine revolutionary its old state .machine, expropnate the capitalists and estabUsh
terms in principle with concessions to right-wing trends in the new social order. By opposing this, anarchism under cover
practice. of "revolutionary" phrases, actually places itself ~n the side of
counter-revolution, as the experience in Russia in 1917
The Second International was initially mixed in composi· ~~ilarly anarchism, in the name of the same "revolutionary"
tion, including both political working-class and trade· union pnnc1ples, opposes political action in the conditions of
organisations, and both socialist (revolutionary and reformist) capitalist ~ociety, that is, the b~ding of political working-
and anarchist trends. The First Congi:ess was officially called class parties, the struggle for unmediate reforms and the
an "International Workers' Congress". The Fourth Congress ele~toral struggle. This is to deny the necessity of preparing,
in London in 1896 was officially called the "International d~g the pr~-revolutionary relatively peaceful period, the
Socialist Workers' and Trade Union Congress". politi?al consc1ousness, action and or.ganisation of the working
Trade union affiliation was formally recognised by the class ~ order to be capable of conquering political power.
Ziirich Congress in 1893, which laid down that "all trade This necessary battle of Marxism against anarchism during
unions shall be .admitted to the Congress; also those socialist

the early years of the Second International was described by "This Congress understands by political action all forms
Lenin in the following terms : of the organised struggle for the conquest of·political
"In those days, after the defeat of the Paris Commune, power, and the use of the constitutional and legal
history made slow organisational and educational work provisions in the state and municipalities by the working
the task of the day. Nothing else was possible. The class for the aim of emancipation."
anarchists were then (as they are now) fundamentally The resolution laid down the aim of "the international socialist
wrong, not only theoretically, but also economically and republic", the necessity for independence of the working-
politically. The anarchists misjudged the charac~er o~ the class parties from the capitalist parties (opposed by the
times, for they failed to understand the world situation : Fabians), and adopted demands for universal and equal
the workers of England corrupted by imperialist profits, suffrage, the second ballot, the initiative and referendum, and
the Commune defeated in Paris, the recent (1871) for the full right of self-dermination of •a ll nations.
triumph of the bourgeois national movement in Germany, In the conditions of admission which were adopted it was
the age-long sleep of semi-feudal Russia. laid down that "anarchists are excluded". This ended the
"Marx and Engels gauged the times accurately; they direct representation of the anarchists, while in respect of the
understood the international situation; they understood trade unions participation of the unions was made conditional
that the approach to the beginning of the social revolu- on their recognition of the necessity for political and parlia-
tion must be slow." mentary activity.
(Lenin, The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our This :final settling of accounts with the anarchists was ren-
Revolution, April, 1917) dered less difficult because the fight for political action united
Lenin did not fail to add that this principle of "slowness", equally the revolutionary Marxists and the reformists in one
appropriate to that period, was no eternal principle (like "the camp. But meanwhile the deeper battle between revolution-
inevitability of gradualness") to apply to all periods, also after ary Marxism and reformist, which had already revealed itself
the opening of the revolutionary era. "Let us not," he warned, in preliminary forms at the earlier congresses during the
"imitate those sorry Marxists of whom Marx said : 'I have eighteen-nineties, was now to develop and reach an increas-
sown dragons and have reaped a harvest of fleas.'" ingly critical character.
At the Ziirich Congress in 1893 a specific resolution was
adopted on the necessity of "political action", which was de- 3. BA'ITLE AGAINST REVISIONISM
fined in very limited terms as meaning that "the working-class _ The battle of Marxism against revisionism constituted the
parties use or seek to ~n ~ccording t? their strength ~e I main battle of theory, policy and tactics in the Second Inter-
political rights and constitutional machmery for furthenng national.
the interests of the working class and the winning of political Revisionism is a special form of reformism in the era of
power". This definition was inadequate, and was strengthened developing or fully developed imperialism when Marxism has
at the next Congress; but it served to provide a line of demar- become the recognised theory of the working-class movement
cation from the anarchists. When this resolution was carried Reformism in general was already long familiar as the
by a majority, the anarchists left the hall in protest. Engels, expression of capitalist influence in the working class. The
who was present at the last session of this Congress and made politics of reformism are the politics of adaptation to capital-
the closing sp.eech, emphasised ~e necessity for an organisa· ism; denial of revolutionary aims; substitution of the fight for
ti.onal separation from the anarchists. reforms, not as a path to the conquest of political power and
This exclusion of the anarchists was accomplished at the the socialist revolution, but as an alternative to the socialist
London Congress in 1896. A resolution on political action laid revolution; attempt to soften the class struggle, and belief in
down: a harmonious progressively developing capitalism. Since the
facts of life contradict these smooth theories, the logic of re- 4. BEGINNING OF DISTORTION OF MARXISM
formism, whatever the initial subjective benevolent inten- Already before their deaths Marx and Engels warned
tions of its exponents, leads them, in sharp moments of class against the growth of petty-bourgeois reformist trends in Ger-
struggle or catastrophic world events, to place themselves man Social-Democracy. Marx wrote in 1877:
openly on the side of capitalism against the working class, and "A rotten spirit is making itself felt in our Party in Ger-
even to become the militant agents of capitalism for the many, not so much among the masses as among the
betrayal or violent suppression of the working class. leaders (upper class and 'workers'). The compromise with.
All this is today an old story from the experience of Social- the Lassalleans had led to a compromise with other half-
Democracy over the past half century. But in the early years way elements too; in Berlin (like Most) with Diihring and -
of this century these approaching battles were being fought his 'admirers', but also with a whole gang of half-mature
out on the theoretical field in the grand forum of the Second students and super-wise diplomaed doctors who want
International. to give socialism a 'higher, idealistic' orientation, that is
Open reformism of the early style already dominated the to say, to replace its materialistic basis (which demands
British labour movement during the second half of the nine- serious objective study from anyone who tries to use it)
teenth century, in the form of the Liberal-Labour leadership by modem mythology with its goddesses of Justice,
of the old skilled trade unions, who did indeed to their credit Liberty, Equality and Fraternity."
take part in the First International, but broke away after the (Marx, letter to Sorge, October 19, 1877)
Paris Commune, and opposed socialism and independent Similarly Engels in 1885:
working-class political action until the end of the century. '1n a petty-bourgeois country like Germany the Party
This phenomenon reflected the position of Britain as the first is bound to have also a petty-bourgeois 'educated' Right
capitalist world power, with vast colonial possessions and wing, which it shakes off at the decisive moment."
domination of the world market, and thus able to afford con- (Engels, letter to Becker, June 15, 1885)
cessions to win over the upper sections of the working class In a letter to Bernstein on June 5, 1884, Engels seriously
and its leadership. discussed the necessity of a split in German Social-
With the development of capitalism in the direction of in- Democracy on basic questions of programme against
creasing concentration, monopoly and towards imperialism in the opportunist tendencies; he only advocated waiting with
Britain during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and the split until the repeal of the Anti-Socialist Law, as until
with the rapid parallel development in the leading countries then the opportunist tendencies, assisted by police persecution
of Western Europe, especially Germany, France and Belgium, of the militant working class fighters, might be able to secure
and in the United States, the same type of phenomenon of the majority. In 1891.::Eagc;Js' strong griticism of the weak-
reformism or opportunism began to become marked in varying nesses !Jf the draft Erfurt Proy.amme dealfSpecilically: with_
fonns in all these countries. Thus it came about that in the the menace of op~m an "the way o portunism is ain-
most advanced capitalist countries, which first reached the in~und in the Social=Dertrocrntiffi&ress :
objective conditions requiring the transition to socialism, and --"Wliat else can result from ~ than that the party
where the modem working-class movement first developed, may suddenly at the first critical moment prove helpless,
the growth of opportunism in the upper sections and leader- that on decisive questions confusion and division will
ship of the labour movement retarded the fulfilment of the arise within the party because these questions had never
revolutionary task, and the world socialist revolution had to been discussed?
develop in a diHerent way from the original anticipation (dis- "T e n of reat fundamental considerations for
carded by Marx after 1850) of its beginning in the most ~e of the momentary interests of e day, this chase .
advanced industrial countries. ~ s s and this race after them with-

CJ\) o-1(
out account of ultimate results, this sacrifice of the future French Revolution, on September 4 and on October 31
'ffiovement for the resent, is erha s the result of 'honest' in Paris, prefer the method of open attack to th~ passive
motives, but is an remains, none e ess, o ortunism barricade tactics."
an onest opportunism is per aps m · ngerm1s than The accuracy of this prediction was brilliantly proved in the
any other.' • victory of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, with the eight
Tills critique, sent from Engels to Kautsky in 1891, was with- months development of the revolution before the working-
held from publication until ten years later, when the class conquest of power; the peaceful winning of a majority
revisionist offensive led by Bernstein was aheady in full blast. of the workers and mass support; in the tr~de unions, in the
On the eve of his death in 1895 Engels wrote his final warn- Soviets, in the elections in Petrograd and Moscow, in the
ing in his famous Preface to Marx's Class Stmggles in France. Northern armies; the endeavour first for a peaceful transition
The Preface is dated March 6, 1895. Engels died on August 5, if possible; and finally the rapid armed conquest of power with
1895. In this, his last writing for the international working such overwhelming mass support as to be almost bloodless-
class, Engels sketched out with a masterly hand the future of the heavy costs in blood came afterwards in the defeating of
the revolutionary struggle in the contemporary conditions o~ the foreign-supported wars of intervention, consequent on
advanced capitalism, the gradual massing of the workers the delay of the working-class revolution in the rest of Europe.
battalions through the forms of legality, leading up to the This Preface of Engels, giving his political testament to
final struggle and the conquest of power. In dialectic fashion the working class for the new problems opening with the
he analysed the two aspects of the revolutionary struggle, twentieth century, proved the litmus paper to reveal the
peaceful and non-peaceful, in the modem conditions in dangerous inner weakening which increasingly affected and
prospect at the beginning of the twentieth century. He showed corrupted the majority of the leadership of Social-Democracy
how the old style of 1848 barricade insurrection was out of and the Second International during the imperialist era. The
date: German Social-Democratic leadership, confronted with this
"The newly built quarters of the large cities, erected Preface, carefully suppressed the key revolutionary passages
since 1848, have been laid out in long, straight, wide in it, such as the one quoted above, and thus in the published
streets, as if made for the effective use of cannons and version replaced the balanced picture of the relationship of
rifles. The revolutionary would be mad who would of peaceful and non-peaceful forms of struggle by a one-sided
himself select the new working class districts qf the north doctrine of the rejection of old-style barricade revolutionary
and east of Berlin for barricade struggle." tactics as out of date and consequent preaching of legality at
Immediately after this, as. if anticipating the ~ne-sided mi~use all costs as the only future path. The meaning of the Preface
that might be made of this passage by defeatists and legalists, was thus turned into the exact reverse of what Engels wrote.
he continued : The correct text of what Engels wrote, that is, the original
"Does this mean that in the future the street struggle manuscript, was in the possession of Bernstein, who after the
has no role to play? Not at all It only means that the con- death of Engels became the Father of Revisionism and utilised
ditions since 1848 are far more unfavourable for the the falsified text to prove his case. When challenged by
insurrectionaries, far more favourable for the military. Kautsky four years later to produce the true text, which
Accordingly, a street struggle can only be victorious, if Kautsky, then fighting for Marxism, declared would blow up
this unfavourable nature of the situation is compensated Bernstein's whole case, Bernstein refused to comply. In its
for by other factors. Therefore it will more seldom come mutilated form this falsified text was circulated by right-wing
in the beginning of a great revolution than in its later Social-Democracy for thirty years in every country in the
developments, and must be undertaken with greater world as "proof' that Marxism finally abandoned the concep-
forces. These, however, will then probably, as in the great tion of violent revolution as out of date. It was not unti.l 1924,
after this lie had done its work for thirty years, that the true without abbreviation in the Neue Zeit, in order that this
text was at last discovered and photographed by the Russian shameful imp1'ession shall be wiped out."
scholar Riazanov from the German Social-Democratic Party But the fuller text in Neue Zeit still appeared without the
archives and published to the world by the Marx-Engels crucial passages, which were omitted, it was explained to
Institute in Moscow. Engels, for police reasons (although no steps were taken to
The effect of this veritable Ems forgery at the root of right- explain privately the real views of Engels to the membership).
wing Social-Democracy was far-reaching. The Preface in Kautsky wrote later with regard to this omission that "the
its falsifled form was circulated as the "Political Testament of fault for this does not lie with Engels, but with German friends
Engels", and at the critical point of the advancing imperialist who compelled the omission of the conclusion as too revolu-
epoch opened the full floodgates to opportunist legalism. tionary" (Neue Zeit, XVII, 2, 1899). On April 3, 1895 Engels
Bernstein made this falsified Preface of Engels the essential wrote to Lafargue to express his anger that the extracts from
basis and starting point of his revisionist campaign, as set out his Preface had been used to make him appear "in support of
in his book P1·esuppositions of Socialism, published in 1899, peaceful and anti-violent . tactics at any price", whereas
and translated into English as Evolutionary Socialism. The "I preach those tactics only for the Germany of today and
opposition of the Left was disorganised. The combined revolu- even then with many reservations. For France, Belgium, Italy,
tionary and also military authority of Engels appeared too Austria such tactics could not be followed as a whole, and
great to be contradicted. The effect can be traced through the for Germany they could become inapplicable tomorrow."
whole utterances and line of the Marxist Left in German With this symbolic direct distortion of Marxism by the then
Social-Democracy, in the lack of clearness and certainty on dominant leaders of Social-Democracy the new phase opened.
the question of the state and the conquest of power. Even Marx and Engels were dead. The last work of Marx, the
as late as 1918, at the Foundation Congress of the German merciless Critique of the Gotha Programme in 1875, had been
Communist Party, Rosa Luxemburg could still declare, refer- withheld from publication for sixteen years by the German
ring to this Engels Preface without awareness of its falsifi- party authorities, and finally only published under the strong
cation: pressure of Engels. The last work of Engels, the Preface to the
"I will not say that Engels, by this Preface, made him- Class Struggles in F1·ance was directly falsified to produce an
self a sharer in the guilt for the whole line of development exactly opposite and counter-revolutionary meaning. The
in Germany; I will only say: Here is a classic document voices of Marx and Engels were silenced; the majority of the
for the conception which was living in German Social- succeeding leaders of Social-Democracy were not strong
Democracy, or rather, which killed it." enough to carry on their work, were even assisting to conceal
The courage, clear-sightedness and tenacity of Lenin and the and distort the teaching of Marxism, at first half-consciously
Bolsheviks in maintaining the line of revolutionary Marxism, through "honest" opportunism (in Engels' words), later, more
including on the question of armed revolution, in the face of and more consciously, until 1914 laid bare the fruit in open
such "authoritative" falsi£cation, stands out all the more treachery. Thereafter, and especially after 1917, the direct
powerfully. role of anti-communist Social~Democracy became to slander
Engels' fury at this falsification was extreme. Although in and distort Marxism by gross, dishonest, deliberate misrepre-
bis last illness, he wrote at once to Kautsky on April 1, 1895 : sentation. In the preliminary phase of this battle, which took
"To my amazement I see today in Vorwii.rts an the form of the theoretical battle against the revisionist offen-
extract from my Preface printed without my previous sive, the revolutionary Marxist Left in the old Second Inter-
knowledge, and chopped up in such a fashion that I am national were still in the process of gathering their forces.
made to appear a pacilic worshipper of legality at any Imperialism was able to find the path open for it in the
price. All the more I desire that the Preface be printed working-class movement, to divide the workers, to buy off
sections with concessions, to bribe and corrupt the leadership. the Empire" at the time of the South African War, affirming
Revisionism, Fabianism, Progressivism, Liberal·Labourism, the objective superiority of large empires to small independent
Evolutionary Socialism, all rose to the surlace upon this basis nations, made the term "Fabian Imperialism" a term of
of social corruption, expressing it into political systems, and reproach also in all sections of the British labour movement
had their short-lived day. "The dance of all the dirt began." (Ramsay MacDonald resigned in protest from the Fabian
Society). The war of 1914 came as a complete shock to Fabian-
5. FABIANISM AND REVISIONISM ism; its leaders admitted that they had never given attention
Revisionism was the theoretical expression of this trend in to what they called "international politics", that is, the real
the initial period of imperialism before the onset of the general world. When the further development of world events, includ-
crisis and before the beginning of the socialist revolution. The ing the experience of successive Labour Governments and
essence of Revisionism was the presentation of the approach- of the advance of Socialism in the Soviet Union, demonstrated
ing era of wars and revolutions as an era of increasing by experience the bankruptcy of their original theories, the
harmony and diminishing contradictions, making necessary founders of Fabianism had the same sterling honesty to
the revision of Marxism as "obsolete" in the light of twentieth recognise this and in a final testament to place on record their
cenhlry conditions. recognition of the vindication of Marxist theory. 0
Revisionism in its time was seen as an ideological and poli- On the Continent, where Marxism was the recognised basis
tical contro.versy of doctrines and tactics. Today historical of the socialist movement, the penetration of reformism, re-
experience has demonstrated its character as an expression of flecting the inHuence of imperialism, could not at the outset
the illusions of the initial period of imperialism leading up to take this openly anti-Marxist form. It had to be disguised as
the First World War-when imperialism could still be seen by the "revision" of Marxism. Marxism was not out and out
philistines and idiots as "r,rogressive", "liberal", extending rejected. Only its ideas and theories and strategy and tactics
"social reforms", and even 'pacific". In class terms it was an were declared to be largely obsolete, rendered out of date by
expression of certain social strata (mainly petty-bourgeois pro- the contrary facts of contemporary capitalism, and therefore
fessional, civil servants, sections of the aristocracy of laboW") requiring a "revision" to accord with modem capitalism. This
closely connected with the process of imperialist corruption, was the work of Bernstein, a former bank clerk, who had acer-
and temporarily riding on the wave. tain authority as the literary executor in charge of, and in
Fabianism was the characteristic British form of this trend practice sitting on and largely suppressing, (just as Hyndman
and of these strata. Sidney Webb, its main founder, had destroyed all the letters of Marx to himself) the remaining un-
gained his political experience as an official of the Colonial ../ published manuscripts and letters of Marx. Bernstein's book,
Office. Corresponding to the earlier development of British The Presuppositions of Socialism, published in 1899, which
capitalism towards imperialism, Fabtanism was the pioneer in fact challenged all the basic theories of Marxism in the
in this development. Fabian Essays was published in 1889, name of the supposed miracles of the new capitalism, aroused
whereas Bernstein's book, which became the bible of Revi- a storm of controversy in the international social-democratic
sionism on the Continent, was not published until 1899. Bern- movement.
stein in London had learned his ideas from Webb. Of course there were new facts revealing themselves in the
But Fabianism was honestly and openly anti-Marxist from
•"In the years before the Great War, and for some time afterwards, we did
the outset, and boasted of its main initial achievement, in the not foresee the collapse of Western civilisation... Where we went hope-
words of its Secretary and historian, to have "broken the spell lessly wrong was in ignoring Karl Marx's forecost of the eventual breakdown
of the capitalist system ...
of marxism in Britain". Fabianism openly based its theory on . "~n ~ase I should not live to Jinish this autobiography, here is a short
bourgeois econonomic theory. Fabianism openly accepted the mdication of the successive stages of our conversion to the Marxian theory
of the historical development of profit-making capitalism." (Beatrice Webb,
framework of imperialism, and its publication "Fabianism and Our PartneTship (Postscript), 1948.)
further development of capitalism in the early twentieth cen- ing; and that in consequence the goal of socialism had lost
tury, which were not present when Marx wrote Capital in significance, and that the real task was to win: continuously
1867, and which required new theoretical treatment to carny expanding reforms within ~e capita?st .~mework (''.~e ~oal
forward the analysis of Marx to modem conditions. Such is nothing; the movement is everythmg ). Thus RevlSlorusm,
renewal is always necessary. Marxism is no dead dogma, but under cover of a ceremonial obeisance to Marxism as a kind
. a living creative theory, whose strength is precisely the of antiquated tribal shibboleth, in practice repudiated all its
capacity to grapple with the new facts of the ever changing essential teachings, and substituted-of course as the sup-
real world. Lenin accomplished this task for the new era of . posedly most "modem" wisdom of "new thinking"-the most
the first decade and half of the twentieth century in his antiquated and exploded liberal-reformist illusions.
Imperialism. In this work he showed the method of Marxism
to understand and master new facts, neither by throwing the 6. Mn.LERANDISM
theory of Marxism overboard, nor by repeating mechanically The battle within the Second International against the
old formulas as eternally sufficient, but by analysing the new trends which eventually received articulate expression as
facts in the light of Marxist theory and thereby drawing the Revisionism first develaped,not around the theory of Bernstein
necessary conclusions for the action of the working class and which was still in process of formation, initially in a
socialist movement. By the twentieth century capitalism had memorandum to the party congress in the latter part of 1898,
developed, through the further fuIBlment of the laws of motion but on the question of the participation of a socialist in a capi-
of capitalism laid bare by Marx, through the further process talist coalition government. This arose over the Dreyfus aHair
of concentration and centralisation, from the old nineteenth in France. The anti-democratic offensive of French reaction,
century free trade capitalism to monopoly capitalism. A hand- anticipating some of the later characteristics of fascism, with
ful of monopoly capitalist powers had partitioned the world, the military caste as its ·spearhead and the vilest anti-semitism
and on this basis were at the same ruthlessly exploiting the as its technique of propaganda, concentrated its attack on a
colonial peoples, the majority of mankind, and using a frag- Jewish mili~ary officer, Dreyfus, and by fals.e evidence secw:ed
ment of the spoils to corrupt an upper section of the working- his conviction for treason. All democratic and progressive
class movement in the imperialist metropolitan countries. opinion in France and internationally fought against this in-
With the continuous accumulation and drive to expansion famous sentence, exposed the lies and forgeries on which it
beating against the barriers of an already divided world, the was based, thereby exposing the whole bloc of militarist and
imperialist powers were advancing to a new gigantic war for clerical reaction and its backers in the state apparatus, and
the redivision of the world. The class struggle and real con- eventually secured his release and by 1906 the quashing of
tradictions were thus deepening, despite the show of reforms the false charges. Many of the most distinguished progressive
in the metropolitan countries. The era opening out was one democratic representatives and writers in France, like Zola
of wars and revolutions. and Anatole France, took a foremost part in this fight.
Revisionism pursued the opposite method. Faced with the It is evident that around this issue had developed a critical
new facts of contemporary capitalism, Revisionism did no fight for democracy against the anti-democratic offensive of
attempt to use the master tool of Marxist theory. Instead, clerical-militarist reaction, of vital concern to the working
Revisionism in practice threw Marxist theory overboard, an class. Hence the interests of the working class manifestly
declared it out of date and disproved by the facts o required the most active vanguard role in cooperation with
the modern world. Revisionism challenged the labour theo the broadest common front of all democratic forces on this
of value; alleged that capital was not becoming more con issue, while at the same time maintaining the independence of
centrated, as Marx had expected, but was becoming mor the working class in order not to become the prisoner of
widely spread; that contradictions and crises were diminish bourgeois-liberal democracy. This type of tactical problem
situation. 'Whether in any given instance such an emer-
later be~ame f~miliar in the experience of the popular
gency situation exists is a question of tactics ap.d not of
front agamst fascism. But the response at that time in the ranks
principle. The Congress does not have to decide that."
of the socialist movement in France (which was divided into
This resolution became known as "the indiarubber resolution"
different parties prior to the unification in 1905) revealed the
-that is, capable of being stretched in any direction desired.
difficulties at that stage of the movement in attempting to
It represented the first major demonstration of the role of what
solve the problem. On the one hand, Guesde, who was
became later known as the "Marxist Centre", represented by
regarded as the leader of the Marxist section, adopted the type
Kautsky, which combined the abstract form of a Marxist
of wooden dummy attitude which so often caricatured..
theoretical analysis with a practical evasion of the issue, thus
Marxism in a number of Western countries during this period,
in pr~ctice leaving the door open to the Right-Wing. Hence in
and declared that the issue was only a quarrel between rival
its real significance it reJ?resented a victory for the emergent
sections of the capitalist class and of no concern to the working
trend to the right (Jaures ·a nd the Right rallied behind the
class. On the other hand, Jaures, who had come over from
resolution of Kautsky) and a defeat for the Left. The example
hi~ liberal ?eginning~ to socialism, and whose group of some
of "socialists" hiving off to join Liberal Cabinets became a
thirty Radical deputies had been admitted into the Second
familiar feature of the ensuing period in France and Britain,
In~ernational in 1894, threw all his passionate fervour into the
with the role of Briand and Viviani in France. or John Burns
Wllted democr.atic fight; and, arising from this situation, a
member of his group, Millerand, entered the Waldeck- in Britain.
Rousseau Cabinet in 1899-a Cabinet which also included
Gallifet, the notorious butcher of the working-class heroes of
By the time of the Amsterdam Congress in 1904 the full
~e Commune. The po~ce of Gallifet were presently engaged
theoretical debate on Revisionism or "Bernsteinism" was the
m the customary purswt of shooting strikers.
centre of attention. At the Dresden Congress of the German
A storm of controversy over "Millerandism" followed in the
Social~Democratic Party Bebel and Kautsky led the fight for
1900 Congress of the Second International in Paris. Guesde
upheld the principle of absolute rejection of socialist the adoption of a resolution which explicitly condemned
participation in capitalist governments. Jaures defended the Revisionism:
"The Congress most decisively condemns the Revision-
action of Millerand, and presented the case for participation,
ist endeavours to change our hitherto consistently main-
not only as necessary for the defence of democracy, but as a
tained and victorious tactics based on the class struggle.
step on the path to socialism.
The Revisionists seek to replace the conquest of political
Finally a compromise resolution, formulated by Kautsky
power through the defeat of our opponents by a policy
and moved by Vandervelde, was adopted by twenty-nine
votes to nine. This resolution declared that the question of of meeting the existing order of things hallway. The con-
sequences of such Revisionist tactics would be to trans-
entry. w~s a question of tactics and not of principle, but that
f?nn our party from one working for the speediest pos-
a ~oc1alist should o~ly enter a capitalist Ministry with the
sible transformation of the existing bourgeois order of
umted approval of his party (Millerand had not consulted his
society into a socialist order, that is a revolutionary party
party before entering), and should resign if the Ministry sup-
in the best sense of the word, into a party satisfied with
ported capital in an industrial dispute between capital and
merely reforming bourgeois society."
This resolution was carried by an overwhelming majority.
"The entry of a single Socialist into a bourgeois
Revision.ism as a theory was thus routed and rejected. But
Ministry cannot be regarded as the normal beginning for
the developing trends in practice continued and increased
winning political power; it can never be anything but a
during the ensuing years. For the practical conclusion of the
temporary and exceptional makeshift in an emergency
resolution was not drawn. In the name of party unity the opposing outlooks of the leadership of tJ:e two major p~es
Revisionists were left free to continue to operate within of Western Social-Democracy at that time (not -so enti~ely
the party. The proposal of Rosa Luxemburg for the exclusion opposing as might appear on the surface, fo~ ea~h was ,_?h1ec-
of the Revisionists was opposed by Behel and Kautsky and tively proclaiming the positive features of thel!' own state
rejected. -the path which was to lead later to identification of their
In the same year as the Dresden Congress of German Social- parties "vith it in the war) could be sensed already the over-
Democracy took place the Second Congress of the Russian tones of the approach of 1914. The year 1904 was also the
Social-Democratic Party. At this Congress the battl~. for. year of the formation of the Anglo-~rench E~tente against the
revolutionary Marxism against the varied forms of Revmon- Triple Alliance of Germany, Au~~a-Hungary .a?d ~tal~.
ism was not only fought and won on the theoretical field, but A compromise amenchnent omitting the exphc1t re1ection of
was carried to its practical conclusion. Bolshevism, represent- Revisionism was moved by Adler for Ausb·ia and Vanderv~lde
ing revolutionary Marxism both in theory and in organ~sa~on, for Belgium. This amendment won twenty-one votes agamst
and led by Lenin, emerged as a separate trend orgamsati?n- twenty-one, and thus fell to the ground. The Dresden resolu-
ally distinct from Menshevism, and within a few years takmg tion was finally adopted by twenty-five to five, with twelve
on the full character of a separate party. The split from abstentions.
reformism, which was never accomplished in the pre-1914 era Revisionism was thus condemned in theory and Marxism
in Western Social-Democracy, was accomplished in time in upheld by the International Socialist Congress. B~t the
Russian Social-Democracy, and proved the indispensable Revisionist trends in practice continued to extend m the
basis for the victory of the socialist revolution. majority of Social-Democratic Parties between 1904 and 1914.
At the Amsterdam Congress of the Second International in The victory of Marxism against Revisionism had been won
1904 the battle against Revisionism was the cenh·e of the by the combined strength of ~o distinct trend~ a1:11ong the
agenda. The Dresden resolution was presented on behalf of supporters of Marxism, whose difference was begmmng to be-
German Social-Democracy and won general support from all come apparent. The Marxist Ce~tre, rep~e~en~ed by Ka.utsky,
sections of Marxism, equally from the Marxist Centre and the fought for Marxist theory agamst RevlSlorusm, but m the
Marxist Left. The protagonists in the debate were Behel and name of the supreme principle of party unity sought. to find
Jaures. Jaures met the charge of reformism with the claim that compromises in practice, and for this purpose tended mcreas-
French Socialism had maintained the democratic republic and ingly to look for formulas which combine~ fo.rmal a~erence
secular state, whereas German Social-Democracy, for all its to Marxist theory with loopholes for evasion m practice. The
claims to Marxist theoretical perfection and electoral suc- Marxist Left, represented consistently by Lenin and the
cesses, was hopelessly passive and helpless in an impotent Bolsheviks, and also to some extent, though less consistently
Reichstag to end the autocracy of the Kaiser. Behel, fresh and clearly, by Rosa Luxemburg and the Left in German
from the German Social-Democratic electoral victory of Social-Democracy and other parties, fought alongsid~ ~e
1903, winning 24 per cent of the votes, retorted that the Centre against revisionism, but combated the comprom1smg
French Republic was owed, not to the efforts of French trends, and in the case of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, recognised
Socialists and Republicans, but to Bismarck; and he indicted the necessity of a split with the reformists.
the French Republic for its failure to provide the French This division of trends among the anti-Revisionist sup-
workers with social insurance or labour protective laws such as porters of Marxism was revealed when the Amsterdam Con-
they had won in Germany, its taxation system with no honest gress carried a resolution for a single socialist party in each
income tax and resting on heavy indirect taxes on the country, and on this basis the International Socialist Bureau
workers' food, and its use of troops to suppress strikes and proposed to set up an arbitration commission under Behel to
shoot down the strikers' leaders. In this confrontation of the solve the division between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks in the
Russian party. The Mensheviks accepted this proposal and confumation and new triumphs. But a still greater
nominated Kautsky and Klara Zetkin as their representatives. triumph awaits Marxism, as the doctrine of the proletar-
Lenin refused such intervention, declaring that this issue of iat, in the period of history that is now ensuing."
principle could only be settled by a party congress. This The Russian Revolution of 1905 was the opening of the
attitude met with criticism also from representatives of the modem revolutionary era. The upsurge of the whole popu-
Left in other parties. Kautsky proclaimed that in this division lation of a leading imperialist power, the formation of Soviets,
his 'Sympathies were with the Mensheviks, while Rosa Luxem- the political general strike and the anned insurrection in
burg came out against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Among the Moscow opened new vistas before the international socialist
general body of Social-Democracy at that time, also among movement. Here the role of the different classes and parties,
the Left, there was no understanding yet of the principles of and, above all, the rival tactics of Bolshevism and Menshevism
Bolshevism, which were eventually to prove the salvation of were tried and tested on the anvil of revolution. 1905 was, in
the international socialist movement in the coming ordeal. the words of Lenin, the "dress rehearsal" for the victorious
socialist revolution of 1917.
8. OPENING OF THE ERA OF REVOLUTION The effects of the Russian Revolution of 1905 echoed round
The main thesis of Revisionism had been to declare that the the world. Its influence sparked the Persian, Turkish and
contradictions of contemporary capitalism in the twentieth Chinese revolutions. In India it gave rise to the first mass
century were growing less, and that consequently the old con- movement under the banner of the boycott, stirring the
ceptions of class struggle and revolution were out of date. hitherto placid waters of the Congress and splitting the
Scarcely had the grand debate of the Amsterdam Congress "Extremists" from the "Moderates". In Austria the entire
in 1904 routed Revisionism on the theoretical field th.an the working class came out in a political general strike in October,
Russian Revolution of 1905 proved the true character of the 1905, organised by the Social-Democratic Party for the
modem era in practice. demand of universal su1frage; barricades went up in Prague;
Already in 1900, in moving the resolution against militarism and when universal su1frage was finally conceded by the
at the Paris Congress of the Second International, Rosa beginning of 1907, Social-Democratic representation in-
Luxemburg had offered the prediction: creased from eleven to eighty-seven seats in parliament, with
"It is becoming ever more probable that the downfall over a million votes. In Britain Toryism went down, after
of the capitalist order will arise, not from an economic twenty years of rule, in the biggest landslide of its history,
crisis, but from a political crisis brought about by world and the Labour Party emerged as a parliamentary force with
politics." thirty seats. It is true that almost all these seats were given
Lenin, writing in 1913 on "The Historical Destiny of the to Labour by the Liberal Party on the basis of a secret pact
Doctrine of Karl Marx'', defined three main periods of world between Ramsay MacDonald and the Liberal Chief Whip;
history since the publication of the Communist Manifesto in but the emergence of Labour as a parliamentary force was
1848: recognised as a political phenomenon in the conditions of
"Subsequent world history clearly falls into three main Britain, where a political labour movement had previously
periods: 1) from the Revolution of 1848 to the Paris Com- been declared impossible; and the shrewd old Tory leader,
mune (1871); 2) from the Paris Commune to the Russian A. J. Balfour, noted that his emergence of Labour was a reflec-
Revolution (1905); 3) since the Russian Revolution." tion of the Russian Revolution.
He concluded with a prediction which was soon to receive its In 1908 the Labour Party was admitted into the Second
powerful fulfilment : International on the basis of a resolution drafted by
"Each of the three great periods of world history since K~utsky which declared that "the British Labour Party be ad-
the appearance of Marxism has brought Marxism new mitted to International Socialist Congresses, because while
not expressly accepting the proletarian class struggle, in prac- to wax, came to dominate the discussions of international
tice the Labour Party conducts this struggle and adopts its socialMdemocracy during the years between 1905-and 1914.
standpoint, inasmuch as the Party is organised independently Colonialism was in the forefront of the agenda at the
of the bourgeois parties". Lenin presented an amendment to Stuttgart Congress in 1907. Alrea?y at the Paris Con~ess in
substitute the words "because it represents the first step on the 1900 a resolution had been unammously adopted calling on
part of the really proletarian orgamsat;ions of Britain towards the parties to fight by every means the colonial expansio~ist
a conscious class policy and towards a socialist workers' policies of the capitalist pow~rs and to ~ssist ~e forma~on
Party". The confusion, aud even element of double-dealing,, of socialist parties in the colorual and senu-c?lomal countnes.
arising from ~autsky's inadequate formulation was demon- This resolution was carried with unanimous enthusiasm at a
strated when it was discovered that, while the German text time when the predatory South African war of British
of Kautsky declared that the Labour Party "adopts the stand- imperialism had aroused angry condemnation among all
point of the class struggle", the English version published in socialists. But within a few years the links of Revisionism with
Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Leader, presented this as colonialism were to reveal themselves.
"adopts the position of international socialism". At the Stuttgart Congress in 1907 the majority of the
Following the Revolution of 1905, the question of the poli- Colonial Commission of the Congress, led by the Dutchman
tical mass strike dominated discussion in Social-Democratic Van Kol, and supported by Bernstein, came out to denounce
circles. The Marxist Left, represented by Rosa Luxemburg the negative anti-colonialism of previous Congresses and to
and Liebknecht, conducted ardent propaganda for this advocate what they were pleased to call a "socialist colonial
revolutionary strategic conception. The right-wing, now policy". This, it was explained> meant to recognise the
strongly entrenched in the leadership of the trade unions in historical inevitability of colonial empires, and to put forward
Germany, opposed. Jhe Centre, represented ~ Behel and concrete proposals for the improvement of the conditions of
Kautsk)!:.__took the halfway line which was adopt at the Jena the natives and the development of the resources of the
"congress of the German Social-Democratic Party in colonial territories for the benefit of the whole world. Against
September, 1905, recognising the general strike as a legitimate this surrender to colonialism, which was thus revealed as an
defensive weapon of the working class in the event of an integral part of the Revisionist offensive, the Marxists con-
attack on universal suffrage or the rights of working-class ducted the most vigorous fight, and, although in a minority
organisation. Subsequently at Mannheim in 1906 an agree- on the Commission, won a majority in the full Congress by 127
ment was reached between the Social-Democratic Central votes to 108 for a resolution which condemned colonialism in
Committee and the Central Commission of the trade unions uncompromising terms and exposed the hypocrisy of the sup-
not to raise further the question of the general strike. This posed "civilising" mission:
was in practice a capitulation to the increasingly right-wing "Congress considers that capitalist colonial policy by
trends of the trade union leadership. As a result of fhis slide its very essence leads to enslavement, forced labour and
totherightonthe part of the centrist social-democratic leader- destruction of the native peoples in the colonial terri-
ship, the general strike became in the subsequent period up to tories. The civilising mission proclaimed by capitalist
1914 increasingly a slogan of anarcho-syndicalism, and pre- society serves only as a cover for the greed for conquest
sented as a supposed revolutionary alternative to political and exploitation. Only socialist society will offer to all
action. peoples the possibility to advance to full civilisation."
But it was significant that the minority view (majority on the
9. SECOND INTERNATIONAL AND COLONIALISM Commission), proclaiming that "Congress does not on prin-
At the same time other major political questions, reflecting ciple and for all time reject all colonial policy, which under a
the further advance of imperialism, colonialism and the drive socialist regime can fulfil a civilising role", received so large
a vote. Even more significant was the line of division. The vote against war, as the supposed answer to the outbreak of war,
for a "socialist colonial policy" included the representatives but were rejected. This was the same proposal which had been
of all the European colonial powers except Russia : that is, the adopted by the 1868 Congress of the First International, and
majority in Britain7 and France; and as a whole, Germany, whose illusory character had been exposed by Marx. Never-
Austria, Belgium, Holland, also Sweden and Denmark, and theless, this proposal was still to have a long history (even
South Africa (a party of Whites only). The majority rejecting after the First World War, in the mouths of reformists who
colonialism included Russia, Japan, the United States, and had supported the imperialist war) as a supposedly "left" non-
smaller European countries or those suffering national oppres- Marxist answer to the menace of war.
sion. Here also could be seen ominous foreshadowings of The Paris Congress in 1900 adopted a resolution, moved by
1914. Rosa Luxemburg, against militarism and colonialism, which
Closely linked in fact with the colonial issue was the major exposed the roots of these and of war in capitalism, and set
question which dominated the Stuttgart Congress and each concrete tasks for the fight : first, to vote against all military
succeeding Congress before 1914-the question of the fight and naval estimates or colonial expenditure; second, to train
against the ever more visibly threatening European war, and the youth in anti-militarism; third, for simultaneous demon-
against militarism and the arms race, and the determination strations in all countries in the event of an international crisis
of the duty of international socialism in the event of war. developing. The resolution for the general strike against war
was moved in a flamboyant speech by Aristide Briand, who
was soon after to become notorious as an anti-socialist Prime

From the outset the Congresses of the Second International} Minister using troops against the workers; was opposed by
ere occupied with the problems of the fight against the the leader of the German trade unions, Legien, and was re-
enace of war, and against militarism and armaments. With- mitted for further study.
two years of the foundation of the Second International The Amsterdam Congress in 1904 took place in the midst of
the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1891 foreshadowed the future the Russo-Japanese war. A historic demonstration of inter-
war of 1914. The Congresses of 1891 and 1896 all carried national working-class solidarity against war was ac-
resolutions for the fight against war and armaments. The complished at this Congress when Plekhanov at the head of
resolution of the Zurich Congress in 1893 called on all the Russian delegation and Sen Katayama at the head of the
socialist parliamentary representatives to vote against war Japanese delegation joined hands in comradeship amid the
credits, and adopted the demand for disarmament. Up to 1896 applause of the entire Congress. Although Plekhanov failed
the anarchists were also represented in these Congresses, and ten years later, Katayama remained faithful to his pledges and
from their side resolutions were moved for the general strike became a member of the Executive Committee of the Com-
munist International.
1 How completely the international socialist condemnation of colonialism By the time of the Stuttgart Congress in 1907 the menace
was blandly dismissed as inapplicable to the British Empire by the British of a European war hung over the international situation. The
social imp~rialists was shown in the standard History of Socialism by
Thomf!S. Kll'kup'. revist;d by E. R. Pease, Se~retil!Y of. the Fabinn Society, in crisis over Morocco in 1905, when the Kaiser made his
the edition published m 1913. Pease added m this edition a chapter on "The demonstrative visit to Tangier and the French Foreign
Modem International" in which he sununarised the policy on colonialism as
follows: M.O:Uster, Delcasse, boasted that he had pledges of British
"The majority at Congresses has without reserve condemned the milit~ ,~upp~rt, showed that the Anglo-French "Entente
system of establishing colonies in the tropics as merely an extension of the
field of exploitation of the capitalist class. Thl.s does not refer to ths col- Cordiale (which Jaures had fulsomely praised as a burial of
onial system of England, insofar as it consists in the development of self- ol~ enmities. and a pledge of peace) was already a military
qoveming communities; and the Congresses have perhaps hardly appreci·
ated the value to India of the peace, order and progress established thllt'B alliance agamst Germany. The new Liberal Asquith-Grey*
under British nJle." {italics added). Haldane combination, entering office in January, 1906, after
UnBappable Mr. Fabian Pecksniff.

the anti-Tory landslide, took over the military allianc~ in- against military credits, for the shortening of the period of
herited from the Tories and authorised Anglo-French military military service, and for the replacement of standing armies
staff consultations without informing the rest of the Cabinet, by a people's militia were included.
still less parliament or the nation. The Anglo-Germ~ co~.ct, The fourth resolution, submitted by Herve, repudiated
open since the German Navy Law of 1900 ch~engm~ Bn~sh 'bourgeois and governmental patriotism", denounced all wars
naval supremacy, now dominated the international situation. except for the establishment or maintenance of communism,
By 1907 the negotiation of the Anglo-Russian Treaty was com- and called on the working class to respond .to any declaration
pleting the formation of the Triple Entente ~o confront ~e of war by a military strike and insurrection. When the test of
Triple Alliance. The outlines of the approa~g war of .1914 1914 arrived, Herve became a violent chauvinist.
were· inescapable to all who followed international affaus. Thus the inadequacy of the alternatives proposed was re-
Hence the question of war dominated the Stuttgart Con- vealed, and was further underlined in the highly polemical
gress. The debate and the four resolutions which were sub- exchanges of the debate. First, verbal Marxism, with a correct
mitted revealed the extreme confusion of approach and un- theoretical analysis, but extreme vagueness on the question
certainty of the future course of action. Behel for the German of action. Second, national defencism, served with a B.ourish
party presented the basic Marxist resolution, which provided of revolutionary phrases. Third, ossified Marxism, ending in
the main text for the :final resolution. This draft analysed in passivity. Fourth, the ultra-revolutionary phrase, meaning in
correct Marxist.terms the inseparable connection of capitalism practice nothing.
and war; the task of the working class to fight against war and In this difficult situation which, alongside the universal
armaments, and to refuse all financial support for such pm- intense emotional feeling against war, already in 1907
poses; and to organise defence on a democratic basis by the revealed the danger of bankruptcy in practice when the test-
substitution of a people's militia for standing armies. The draft ing time should come, Lenin, in association with Rosa Luxem-
called for all forms of working-class pressure and activity, burg, came to the rescue. A sub-commission had been
allowing for "differences of national condition~, ru;ne and appoin~ed to work over the four drafts and prepare an agreed
place", to avert threats of war and demand arbitration and resolution. Rosa Luxemburg was on this sub-commission.
disarmament. What to do in the event of the outbreak of war Lenin, in association with her, prepared certain amendments,
was less clear. The draft called on the parties to seek ''to which were also signed by Martov for the Mensheviks, to be
prevent its outbreak by using the. means which se~med t.o moved on behalf of the Russian and Polish delegations. These
them most effective, and, should it break out despite their amendments, while adapted to the general text of Bebel's
efforts, to bring it rapidly to an end". resolution, despite its weaknesses, clarified and strengthened
The resolution submitted by Jaures and Vaillant for the it in certain key pass.ages, ~d at the end replaced the very
French majority called for the use of all means, including the vague final formulation with regard to practical action in
general strike and insurrection, in the fight against war, and Bebefs text by two sentences whjch set out an inescapably
simultaneously affinned the duty of socialists to participate plain and clear directive of action for the entire international
in national defence against aggression. . . socialist movement in relation to the threatening European
The resolution submitted by Guesde for the French m.monty war. These two sentences, whose realist clarity (despite cer-
offered the customary caricature of "Marxism" by declaring tain verbal softening insisted on by the German delegation
opposition to any special campaign against militarism, since for police reasons) bore all the unmistakable hallmark of
militarism was only the product of capitalism, and that there- Lenin's drafting, became the most famous decision of the
fore campaigning against militarism or for peace would be a Second International, known thereafter to all international
diversion from the essential task to destroy capitalism. At the socialists as their marching orders in the event of the onset
end the generally accepted immediate measures, to vote of the impending European war. The two sentences ran :

"If a war threatens to break out, it is the duty of the ment of the movers the proposal was remitted for further
working class and of its parliamentary representatives in study. '
the countries involved to exert every effort to prevent the The years 1910-1914 saw a rapid acceleration of the advance
outbreak of war, using all the appropriate means, which towards the coming European war, at the same time as a rising
naturally vary and rise according to the degree of s~~­ tempo of working-class militancy and even semi-revolutionary
ening of the class struggle and of the general political struggle in many countries. ·
agitation. 1911 was the year of the Agadir crisis which already brought
"Should war none the less break out, it is their duty the confrontation of the Triple Alliance and the Triple
to intervene to bring it promptly to an end, ~d to striv~ Entente close to the point of war, when the Kaiser sent a war-
with all their energies to utilise the economic and poli- ship to Agad.ir to stake out his claims against France over
tical crisis brought about by the war in order to stir up Morocco, and when Lloyd George in his Mansion House
politically the masses of the people and hasten the down- speech gave the first public warning of the military alignment
fall of capitalist class rule." of Britain with France and Russia against Germany, and also
The preamble of the resolution made clear that the reference of his own future war role. In the same year Italy went to war
was to "wars between capitalist states". with Turkey for the conquest of Tripoli. The First Balkan War
The resolution as amended, with the final Lenin-Luxem- in 1912 and the Second Balkan War in 1913 were recognised
burg conclusion, was carried unanimously amid enthusiasm. It on all sides as the prelude to the European War.
was confirmed and adopted anew, including the final section, The Socialist Parties of Italy and of the Balkan counbies
at the subsequent Congresses at Copenhagen in 1910 and stood by their internationalist pledges in their opposition to
Basle in 1912. But this unanimity meant that the real diver- these wars.
gences revealed in the debate, especially with regard to the Parallel with this headlong advance of imperialism towards
question of national defence in an imperialist war, were never general war the militancy of the working class soared to new
brought to an issue and cleared by a vote. The right-wing heights in all countries. These years saw the great strike move-
opportunists and revisionists, who by no means shared the ment in Britain and the formation of the Triple Alliance of
viewpoint of the revolutionary Marxist formulation set out miners, railwaymen and transport workers with its implicit
in the amended resolution, preferred to vote for it rather than challenge to the capitalist state; in France the stormy struggles
challenge a division. Thus the policy of the International was led by the G.G.T. (General Confederation of Labour) under
in fact laid down and pledged by every party (also by the strong influence of revolutionary syndicalist doctrines; in the
Labour Party at Copenhagen and Basle). But the real diver- United States the mass upsurge of the most exploited sections
gences were buried out of sight, only to burst out the more associated with the l.vV.W. (Industrial Workers of the World).
violently when the test of practice came. The German Social-Democratic Party won in the 1912 elec-
At the Copenhagen Congress in 1910 the anti~war resolu- tions the record total of 4,250,000 votes, or 34.8 per cent of the
tion, alongside a number of general peace proposals, repe~ted total poll, with anincrease of their representation from 43 seats
the operative last two sentences of the Stuttgart resolution. to 110 in the Reichstag of 397 members. In Italy, Spain and
The familiar formula of the "general strike of workers, Austria mass struggles led to clashes with the armed forces
especially in the indusbies which supply the instruments of of the state. In Russia the Lena goldfields strike of 1912
war" as the "particularly effective" method to "prevent and opened a new revolutionary wave, which had reached a point
hinder war" was moved on behalf of the Labour Party and by the eve of the war of 1914 when barricades were up in St.
Independent Labour Party by Keir Hardie and on behalf of Petersburg.
the French Socialist Party by Vaillant. The commission It was in this developing situation that a special
defeated this amendment by 119 to 58, and with the agree- International Socialist Congress was held at Basie in 1912 for
the sole purpose of confronting the menace of the general parties of the old Socialist International (including the Labour
European War, now visibly close after the First Balkan Party) for revolutionary action against the war and directed to
War. the aim of the overthrow of capitalism, in the event of the out-
The Manifesto of the Basle Congress analysed with preci- break of the impending imperialist world war of 1914, whose
sion the impending menace of a European war arising from an character was precisely and accurately described.
Ausrro-Serbian dispute, and emphasised the special respon- Nevertheless, the real situation within the majority of the
sibility of the worldng-class movement in Germany, France leading parties and their leadership was far from correspond-
and Britain to prevent the "criminal madness" of "a war be- ing to the words. The Basle Congress itself took on the char-
tween the three great leading civilised peoples because of the acter of a deeply emotional demonstration for peace rather
Serbo-Austrian dispute". The Basie Manifesto reaffirmed the than of a Congress for the preparation of action in the event
famous two sentences of the explicit revolutionary instruction's of war. The delegates marched in procession to the Cathedral,
in the event of the menace of outbreak of war, and during by the invitation of the church authorities, and to the sound
an imperialist war if the efforts to prevent it should fail, of the cathedral bells, to demonstrate for peace, headed by
as already adopted in 1907 and 1910. The text of the Mani- children robed in white and waving palm branches and
festo made still more explicit the revolutionary meaning of mottos "It is more honourable to dry your tears than to shed
these instructions by recalling concrete historical examples of streams of blood", while on a flower-wreathed waggonette a
such action : white-clad Queen of Peace was heralded by the emblem
"Let the governments not forget that, with the present (drawn from the book of the famous pacifist authoress Bertha
situation of Europe and temper of the working class, von Suttner) "Lay down your arms".
they cannot unloose a war without danger to themselves. In the parliamentary political 'Situation in the leading
Let them remember that the Franco-German war was fol- Western European countries, and in the upper ranks of the
lowed by the revolutionary outbreak of the Commune, leadership of the labour movement in these countries, the
and that the Russo-Japanese war set in motion the revolu- opportunist trends, which had already been strongly visible
tionary forces of the peoples of the Russian Empire." in practice at the time of the controversy over revisionism,
Nevertheless, this threat of revolution was simultaneously re- despite the rejection of the latter in theory, became still more
garded ·as a guarantee of peace rather than as a call to action : entrenched, entered into conflict with the militancy of the
"The fear of the ruling classes of a proletarian revolu- working class, and even began to become entangled in the
tion as the sequel of a world war has proved to be a real arms race and the preparation of the war. Opportunism was
guarantee of peace." sliding towards chauvinism. In Britain the Labour Party,
This optimistic sentiment £ailed to take into account the re- while maintaining criticism of the diplomacy of the Foreign
verse truth that the fear of the ruling classes of the already Secretary Grey during the Liberal Government of 1906-1914,
developing revolutionary situation in Europe on the eve of ~~of th~ increase of arms expenditure, was simultaneously
1914 had its influence in accelerating their decision to m mcreasmgly close unofficial coalition behind the Liberal
plunge into the desperate alternative of war as a supposed Go~ernment of Asquith, Grey and Haldane, which was pre-
solution-a temporary solution, as it proved, in the short run, pa~g the ~ar. The ~abour Party enthusiastically supported
by setting the workers to mutual slaughter and submerging the People s Budget of Lloyd George which, under cover
the Socialist Intern·ational in a wave of chauvinist frenzy, but ?f taxing the rich and providing for some social reforms, was
in the end none the less bringing the outcome of the opening m fa.ct. at the same time--as Lloyd George later boasted-
of the world socialist revolution. proVIding the cash for the vast expansion of the Navy. Blatch-
The words of the Basie Manifesto thus did in fact express ~rd and Hyndman, who had been the popularisers of socialist
the plainest pledge and call, unanimously adopted by all the ideas, joined in the Big Navy agitation engineered by the
Tories. In 1913 the German Social-Democratic Party (by a and to defeat the openly opposing trends of the petty-
close majority of eight in the parliamentary group) voted for bourgeois theories of Proudhon, anarchism or, liberal trade
the Military Taxation Bill, on the grounds that the bill placed unionism, Marxism in the Second Intemational---:after the
the burden on the rich by direct taxation to provide for the early: settling of accounts with anarchism-was in prin.2!1.>le_
vast increase in arms expenditure. recogiiise(!_ qy_aJI tkparties_ except th_e LaboJ:JI_Party as the _
Thus the signs of the impending collapse of 1914 were not acce ted oveming theo~eYea..though _und.er_the mantle of
lacking beforehand. a _ eoretical acceptance the majority practice may..ed in-
The next Congress of the Socialist International was due to creasingfy in an opportunist direction. Nevertheless. under
be held in Vienna in August, 1914. However, in August 1914, ~s of the Second International a far-reachin work of
other business came on to the agenda of history and brought education, Iro a an a a 10n m a soc1 spirit an
to an inglorious end the old Second International. extending t e · uence o Marxism was conducted among the
working class of the Europ~~ountries and some countrie_s__
11. ACHIEVEMENT AND WEAKNESSES OF THE SECOND INTER- outside Europe. This work, strengthened by the tire1ess Hglit
NATIONAL of the left wing fo?reVoiution~ MarxismJielpeCI to ttain a
During the quarter of a century of jts existence the positive wliOiegeneration of cadres of 1li fililitant work~-class move-
achievement of the Second International found expression in m.ent, who were later to form the Communist Parties.
the growth of an organised mass socialist movement, on the Thus the epoch of the Second International corresponded
general basis of Marxist theory, in all European capitalist to the mainly peaceful legal development of the working-
countries, and with parties affiliated also in the United States, class movement in the leading European: countries after the
Canada, Japan, the Argentine, South Africa (whites only) and downfall of the Commune and up to 1914. Lenin showed {in
Australia. the "Answer of the Communist International to the I.L.P."
In contrast to the relatively limited groupings of the sections in 1920, drafted by Lenin) how the leadership of Marx and
of the First International, the Social-Democratic Parties of the .Engels in the second half of the nineteenth century pointed
Second International comprised an aggregate membership of to this necessary task of preparatory work for future revolu-
some four millions, with an aggregate parliamentary vote of tionary struggles, to organising work, to the daily struggle, to
twelve millions. The largest parties were the British Labour mass work, to the building of legal parties and trade
Party with over one and a half million affiliated members, and unions:
the German Social-Democratic Party with over one million "When after the failure of the revolution of '48 capital-
individual members. Closely associated were the trade unions ism entered upon a period of further development,
in these countries with over twelve million trade unionists spreading and gaining new strength every day; when the
affiliated to the International Federation of Trade Unions. The idea of the direct seizure of power proved erroneous;
cooperative movement in the various countries had usually Marx and Engels, boldly confronting the facts, indicated
close associations with the social-democratic and trade union a method of preparing the working class for its future
movement. There was also linked with the Second Inter- decisive revolutionary battles for power.
national a Women's International Council of Socialist and "They pointed out to the working class that capitalism
Labour Organisations, holding its own international con- affords it the possibility of organisation and union, that
ferences, with Klara Zetkin as Secretary, and a similar organi· it gives the advanced section of the working class the
sation for youth, with Willi Miinzenberg as Secretary. possibility of exercising its influence upon the backward
In contrast also to the pioneering battles of Marxism in the sections, infusing into them the consciousness of class
First International to establish recognition as the theory and solidarity of all the oppressed; they demanded from the
outlook and tactical guide of the working-class movement, class-conscious workers that they should, without waiting
for the final and decisive battle, utilise every possibility From this arose the fundamental weaknesses of the Second
which had been forced from the capitalists for the estab- International which led finally to its collapse in 1914.
lishment of legal open Workers' Parties and for the First, the theoretical weakness. Despite the formal accept·
organisation of Trade Unions, being guided by the prin· ance of Marxist theory, this acceptance took on increasingly
ciple that the working class will be able to utilise every the character of a verbal or formal acceptance, again and
capitalist crisis with the greater facility the greater its again evading rather than grappling with .t he real problems,
unity, organisations and class consciousness will be. smoothing over controversies under cover of amb.iguous for-
"They called upon the workers to fight for universal mulas (the notorious "indiarubber resolutions"), and thus
suffrage and democracy, in order thnt the masses might peacefully co-existing with and even condoning opportunism
be able from the parliamentary tribune to tear the mask in practice.~por~sm J'~Uy: dominated the leading
from every capitalist deceit, proving to the workers how sections ament re resentatives and trade 1mjan _
every kind of transaction between the various sections of o c1 circl~ T e r v lutionary~arxist Left conducted an
capitalism is made at the expense of the working class. active and !!f~Iess struggle, led bfuLenin, Rosa Luxemburg__
They called upon the workers to make use of the conflicts and Karl Liebknecht, anaoften a ·eved imp~?tive
arising between the various sections of the capitalist class e ts as in ous Stutt art-Co ellha en- as e.snln- -
in order to secure economic and social reforms which tion-the most famous reso ution of e econa International
wouldtendtoamelioratethe position of the working class, -on the task of socjaltsts i n refo.fion to the impending Euro- =-
to strengthen it and afford it an opporhmity of making ~an war. The clearest and most consistent expression of the
progress in its struggle against capitalism. Marxist Left in the Second International was represented by
"They called upon the working masses directly to take Bolshevism, which alone among the leading parties had
part in politics and to exercise direct pressure upon the broken also organisationally with opporhm.ism in Russia, and
bourgeoisie. They appealed to the working class never to was under constant pressure from the dominant leadership 0£
forget that all this struggle for democracy, that all this • the Second International, represented by Kautsky and Van-
struggle for reform, is only preparatory work whose aim dervelde (also supported by Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg)
is to strengthen the organisation and class-consciousness to re-unite. Among the majority of the Left in the Second
of the workers, and to prepare them for the epoch of International there was not yet understanding of Bolshevism;
decisive battles with capitalism." the principle of maintaining party unity was in general
B t Lenin further showed in this same analysis how this guid- regarded as pararoount~1:_he Marxist Centre, as it came to be
ing line of Marx and Engels in the second half of the nine· called, led 1iJi Kautsk~ occu.e_ied The dominant theorettcaL
teenth century for the necessary preparatory task of building rcosition in e Secon International. Tbe Maajst Centre
up organisation and developing class-consciousness through . Ought sometimes alongside the Lef.Lto upholcLthc general
partial struggles and the fight for democracy and economic .Rrin~.fil!l ~ainst the offens~ve of ReYi_sionism but
and social reforms became misunderstood and distorted and ig, practice. in the name <if umfr. !ffiri §led _iif!qne Right-
falsified under the conditions of capitalist corruption in the yY~ ":~ar!ta¥K-more and O:B!!! jnt~e position of pro-
imperialist period to opportunism : Yl:- ____ _ st' Ja#e for opportunjsm 1~ practtce. _
"In the long process of the peaceful development of The second main weakness of the Second International, cor·
capitalism, the object of this preliminary struggle, of this responding to this political weakness, was in the sphere of
organising period of struggle, was forgotten, the aim hav- organisation. Here there was ·a complete falling away from
ing become in the eyes of most of the leaders of the work- the principles of the First International. The General Council
ing class, and of a considerable number of the workers nf the First International was a central international leader·
themselves, largely an aim in itself instead of a means." ship of the working class, democratically elected, exercising

authority over national sections, and giving continuous


of the leading· imperialist countries in Europe and North

leadership, not only on broad questions of principle ham- America, and especially reflected the outlook of the leadership
mered out at Congress or in the Council debates, but in the of the labour aristocracy in the Western European countries.
active struggles of the working class in the various countries While strongly worded resolutions were carried against
and in the direct organisation of working class solidarity. colonialism (although by diminishing majorities, and with a
During the first eleven years of its existence the Second growing section openly supporting a so-called "socialist
International was constituted only by the Congresses, without colonial policy"), the revolutionary significance of the national
any organised centre of any kind. In 1900 the International liberation struggle in the extra-European countries oppressed
Socialist Bureau was set up in Brussels, with a full-time secre- by imperialism was not yet seen. Describing this weakness,
tary, and providing for a quarterly meeting of delegates from Stalin later wrote:
the affiliated sections. In practice the meetings of the Bureau "Formerly, the national question was usually confined
tended to be annual. In the intervals the Belgian section pro- to a small group of questions chiefly affecting 'cultural'
vided an Executive of three members alongside the Secretary. nationalities. The Irish, the Hungarians, the Poles, the
Neither the Executive nor the Bureau attempted to fulfil any Finns, the Serbs and several other nationalities in Europe
role of international leadership, nor had they any authority made up the list of disfranchised nations in whose
over the national parties. The centre took on the character of destinies the heroes of the Second International were
what was described as a "post office", or a technical secretarial interested. The countless millions of Asiatic and African
centre for preparing Congresses, recording and publishing the peoples who were suHerlng under the yoke of national
decisions and proceedings, or transmitting correspondence. At oppression in its crudest and most horrible form usually
the most it attempted a moral intervention in favour of remained outside of their field of vision. They could not
socialist unity, where there was a division of parties in one make up their minds to put white and black, 'cultured'
country. In practice such intervention was only pursued with and 'uncultured', on the same plane. Two or three mean-
vigour against Bolshevism; and one of the last acts of the ingless noncommittal resolutions, which carefully evaded
International Socialist Bureau, which had never intervened the question of colonial emancipation, were all the leaders
against the menacing trends of opportunism and chauvinism of the Second International could boast of. Such duplicity
in the various parties, was to issue, on the eve of its own and half measures with regard to the national question
collapse, a peremptory demand to Lenin and the Bolshevik must now be regarded as a thing of the past. Lenin-
Party to amalgamate unconditionally with the Mensheviks. ism laid bare this shocking incongruity, tore down the
Thus the principle of socialist internationalism found no wall between whites and blacks, between European and
· corresponding expression in the organisation of the Second Asiatics, between the 'cultured' and 'uncultured' slaves
International, which was in practice, despite formal common of imperialism, and thus linked the national question
acceptance of Marxism and working class internationalism, a with the question of the colonies."
loose debating association of separate national parties each (Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, 1924)
pursuing its own path. Such a situation left free play for the • Any review of the Second International needs accordingly
advance of nationalist and opportunist trends, and prepared to take into account both its positive achievements and the
the way for the collapse of 1914. serious negative features which led to its downfall. Lenin
The third main weakness of the Second International, cor- summed up the significance of the stage represented by the
responding to the general phase of development of the Second International, in the development of the three succes-
organised working class movement during this period, was sive Internationals, when he said :
a certain narrowness of its basis of organisation and outlook, "The First International laid the foundation of the
in that it was mainly based on the organised working class proletarian international struggle for Socialism.

"The period of the Second International was a period

of preparation of the soil for the broad, the mass spread of
the movement in a number of countries.
"The Third International gathered the fruits of the
work of the Second International, discarded its opportu-
nist, social-chauvinist, bourgeois and petty-bourgeois
dross, and has begun to realise the dictatorship of the
(Lenin, The Third International and Its Place in CHAPTER V
History, 1919)
But before this transition from the Second to the Third
International could be fulfilled, the working class and all the THE FIRST WORLD WAR
peoples of the world had to pass through the searing
experience of the First World War.
"If these men must die, would it not be better to die in
their own country fighting for freedom for their class, and
for the abolition of war, rather than to go forth to strange
countries and be slaughtering and slaughtered by their
brothers that tyrants and profiteers may live."
(JAMES CONNOLLY in the Glasgow Forward,
August 15, 1914)

Contrary to the conventional myth, the First World War did

not come as a bolt from the blue. The general staffs had
elaborately prepared and planned its outlines for a quarter
of a century, ever since the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1891.
The arms magnates and the journalists in their pay had used
every device, including wholesale lies and forgeries, to
exacerbate the arms race and pile up ever more monstrous
(and profitable) weapons of destruction. The diplomats had
toiled assiduously to construct the rival alliances whose
mutual threats and successive crises finally blazed into war.
The innermost political circles in each country knew all that
was preparing, and consciously concealed it from the public.
The Socialist International had given the most explicit warn-
ing of its approach, and two years before its outbreak had
even precisely predicted its starting point from an Austro-
Serbian clispute.
Only in the subsequent nostalgic memoirs of ivory-tower
dons and Fabian utopian dreamers, looking back on the
Edwardian era as a golden afternoon, and blind to the cruel This first and deeply human expression of Engels, voicing his
realities of imperialism, did the war of 1914 appear as a sudden horror at the prospect of the world war of 1914, even though
and startling interruption of their dreams. it might bring revolution, and proclaiming peace to be the
But the immediate conditions of the outbreak of the war in vital interest of the international socialist movement, is the
1914, as commonly in major historical events, went beyond the damning answer to the enemy calumnies which still dare to
calculations of any single set of schemers, and represented the assert that Marxism staked its calculations on world war as the
cumulative and collective outcome of all their schemes rather most favourable path to revolution.
than any single will. The further outcome completely defeated In 1890 Engels wrote in the Russian socialist organ Social
all their calculations. Democrat published by Plekhanov and Axelrod in Geneva,
International socialism alone correctly anticipated both the in an article entitled "The Foreign Policy of Russian Tsarism",
character and the consequences of the First World War. that a Russian revolution would immediately do away with
the danger of a world war; but that if the change in Russia
1. MARXISM AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR were long delayed, Europe would slip down with ever increas-
Already on September 9, 1870, in the Manifesto of the First ing speed into the abyss of a world war of unexampled viol-
International after the collapse of Napoleon III at Sedan and ence and universality.
the formation of the French Republic, Marx had warned that In 1891, following the conclusion of the Franco-Russian
if Bismarck and the "Prussian war camarilla" went forward Alliance, Engels wrote in an article on "Socialism in Germany"
with the plan for the forcible annexation of Alsace and for the Almanach du Parli Ouvrier, republished in the Neue
Lorraine to Prussia, the outcome would be to throw France Zeit in 1892 :
into the arms of Tsarism and lead to a new European war "Peace guarantees the victory of the German Social-
between Germany and a Franco-Russian Alliance. Democratic Party in some ten years or so. War brings it
In 1889, as the moves towards the fulfilment of this predic- either victory in two or three years or complete ruination
tion were becoming increasingly evident, Engels wrote with for a.t least fifteen to twenty years. Consequently the
alarm of the prospect of the impending general European war German Socialists would be mad to desire war, whereby
as "the most terrible contingency" which "fills me with they would stake everything on a single card instead of
horror", and emphasised the importance for the international awaiting the certain triumph of peace."
socialist movement to make every effort to fight for peace : Socialists could not wish for the victory of either group of
"As for war, this represents in my view the most terrible powers in the threatening war;
contingency. . . . A war in which there will be ten to "No Socialist, whatever his nationality, can desire the
fifteen million combatants, an unheard of devastation, triumph in war either of the present German Govern-
universal violent suppression of our movement, the re- ment or of the French bourgeois republic and least of all
crudencence of chauvinism in every country, and at the of the Tsar which would be equivalent to the enslavement
end an enfeeblement ten times worse than after 1815, a of Europe."
period of reaction based on the exhaustion of all the Hence the importance of the fight for peace. War could delay
peoples bled white-all that against what slender hope the revolution; but the ultimate outcome would be the victory
there is that this ferocious war results in revolution-th.is of the socialist revolution :
is what horrifies me. Above all in relation to our move- "Therefore the socialists in all countries are for peace.
ment in Germany, which would be overwhelmed, If nevertheless war comes, then one thing is certain. This
crushed, stamped out by violence, whereas peace holds war, where fifteen and twenty million armed men would
out almost certain victory." slaughter one another and lay waste Europe as never
(Engels, letter to Paul Lafargue, March 25, 1889) before, this war must either bring about the immediate
victory of Socialism or so shatter the old order of things an entirely different light. One thing is certain : there will
from top to bottom, and leave behind such a heap of ruins, be no more quick decisions and triumphal marches either
that the old capitalist society will become more impos- to Berlin or Paris."
sible than ever before, and the social revolution, though it (Engels, letter to W. Liebknecht, February 23, 1888)
might be set back for ten or fifteen years, would, however, This generalised anticipation over a quarter of a century be-
in this case also have to conquer and in so much the more fore the event received very striking confirmation in the war
speedy and thorough fashion." of 1914 and its outcome; the halt of the German advance on
In 1893, continuing the fight for peace, Engels brought to Paris at the Mame; the transition of the war in the West to a
the front the question of disarmament in a series of articles in "war of positions" or trench warfare; the advance of the Ger-
Vorwiirts in February and March, 1893, under the title Can man armies in the East; and eventually the revolution in
Europe Disarm? Tackling the problem of the already then Petrograd transforming the whole situation.
rapidly increasing arms race and scale of armaments, he
pointed out the danger that, if peace should begin to appear 2. COLLAPSE OF THE SEOOND INTERNATIONAL
as almost more costly than war, war might come to be Basing itself on the general theory of Marxism, the Socialist
regarded, not as a terrible scourge, but as a saving crisis to International in the Basie resolution of 1912, reaffirming the
end an impossible situation. Since he wished to do all in his previous Stuttgart and Copenhagen resolutions, had de.lined
power to prevent the "general war of annihilation", he with very precise accuracy the character of the impending
deliberately limited his proposals to immediate measures for European war, the opposing alliances, the secret treaties, the
disarmament by "the gradual diminution of the term of mili- criminal aims of ·all the capitalist powers, and even specifying
tary service by international agreement" and the "gradual the prospective immediate occasion of the war in "the Austro-
abolition of the regular army" as measures capable of Serbian dispute". The resolution thus left no room for sub-
realisation also in the existing society by capitalist govern- sequent excuse that the war which broke out jn 1914 was in
ments: any essential respect different from that which had been anti-
"It is my intention to show that these changes are pos- cipated, and with regard to which all the parties had
sible at this moment. They can be made by the existing unanimously pledged themselves to pursue a policy of uncom-
governments and in the existing political situation. That promising opposition.
is the basis of my position : I limit myself to such The Basle resolution no less emphatically proclaimed the
proposals as any existing government can accept without absolute hostility of the international working class to such a
endangering the security of its country." war, which it would be "a crime" to support:
Anticipating the concrete conditions of the war which "The proletarians consider it a crime to fire at each
threatened, Engels had already made a remarkable prediction other for the benefit of the capitalists' profits, the ambi-
in 1888: tions of dynasties or the greater glory of secret diplomatic
"How things will turn out when it comes to war it is treaties."
impossible to foresee. Attempts will no doubt be made to Further, in the terms of the universally accepted Lenin-
make it a sham war, but that will not be easy. If things Luxemburg amendment, the Basle resolution laid down
turn out as we would like it, and this is very probable, explicitly the task and duty of international socialists and of
then it will be a war of positions with varied success on all socialist parties in the event of the outbreak of this war to
the French frontier; a war of attack leading to the capture fight to bring it to an end and to exert all their efforts to utilise
of the Polish fortresses on the Russian frontier; and a the crisis brought about by the war in order to arouse the
revolution in Petersburg, which will at once make the masses of the people for the overthrow of capitalism.
gentlemen who are conducting the war see everything in These pledges were unanimously endorsed by all the
affiliated parties of the Second International, including the of their war governments. Lenin, for Russia, and the Bolshevik
British Labour Party, the German Social-Democratic Party Party stood firm. ·
and the French Socialist Party, as well as the Bolshevik Party. In Britain as late as August 2 a Trafalgar Square meeting
When the test came in August, 1914, the majority leader- was held, addressed by Arthur Henderson, Kejr Hardie,
ship of the dominant parties in the countries of Western and George Lansbury and others, denouncing the war and de-
Central Europe involved in the conflict repudiated their manding in the resolution adopted that "the Government of
pledges in practice, and joined up with their respective Great Britain should rigidly decline to engage in war". A
Governments in calling on the workers to slaughter one Manifesto on August 3, signed by Hencferson and Keir
another. Opportunism thus became open chauvinism and Hardie as British representatives on the International Socialist
betrayal. This was the collapse of the Second International. Bureau, called on the workers :
The last meeting of the International Socialist Bureau took "Hold vast demonstrations against war in every indus-
place in Brussels on July 29, 1914. The resolution adopted on trial centre. Compel those of the governing class and
behalf of "the representatives of all nations threatened with their press who are eager to commit you to cooperate with
a world war" called on the workers in every country to Russian despotism to keep silence and to respect the
increase their pressure on their governments for peace, and, decision of the overwhelming majority of the people, who
in particular, "the International Socialist Bureau congratulates will have neither part nor lot in such infamy...•
the Russian workers on their revolutionary attitude". At a Workers, stand together for peace. Combine and conquer
mass demonstration organised by the Bureau in Brussels on the militarist enemy and the self-seeking imperialists
July 30, Jaures, representing France, spoke: today, once and for all."
"For the absolute masters the ground is undermined. On August 4 the British Government issued its ultimatum to
If in the mechanical seduction and intoxication of first Germany, and by mid.night was at war. The Labour Party
struggles they succeed in luring the masses, just as immediately switched to support the Government for the war.
typhoid will finish the work of the shells and as death Thepretextineach case was the violation of Belgian neutrality
and misery will aid in striking down men, so the masses, and the obligation of Britain wider the terms of the Treaty
sobered down and come to their senses, will tum towards of Belgian neutrality. That this was a pretext was notorious,
the directing Germans, French, Russian, Italians, and since the secret commitments had in practice been entered
will ask what reasons they can give for all these corpses. into the staH conversations over many years, while any obliga-
And then revolution freed from its chains, will say to tion under the Belgian Treaty of Neutrality had been dis-
them: counted by the Foreign Office.* Ramsay MacDonald, who
·Away and seek pardon from God and man'."
This declaration was received with a prolonged ovation, as 1 "The liability undoubtedly exists as stated above, but whether we would

the entire audience rose, waved their hats and applauded for be called upon to carry out our obligation and to vindicate the neutrality of
Belgium in opposing its violation must ne<:essarily depend upon our policy
more than five minutes. at the time and the circumstances of the moment. Supposing that France
This was the last declaration, with its renewal of the threat violated the neub'ality of Belgium in a war against Germany, it is, under
present circumstances, doubtful whether England or Russia would move a
of revolution as the outcome of war, of the old International 6nger to mnilltain Belgian neutrality, while if the neutrality of Belgium
Socialist Bureau. Jaures was murdered in Paris by French were violated by Germany it Is probable that the converse would be the
reaction on July 31. Behel, the veteran leader of German (Minute of Sir Charles Hardinge, Pennancnt Under-Secretazy of St.ate
Social-Democracy, who had voted against the war credits and for Foreign Affairs, in 1908, reprinted in Gooch and Temperley,
British Documents of the Origin of the War, Vol. VIII).
had been prosecuted for treason and sentenced to ten years in The comment of Sir E dward Grey on this minute was: "Sir C. Hardinge's
the Franco-German war, had died in 1913. The leaders who reHection is to the point''. According to Marshal Jofhe's Memoirs, Anglo-
Freoch militruy convenatioos had already taken place in 1911 for the poss-
succeeded them in France and Germany rushed into support ible invasion of Belgium to "forestall a German aggression''.
adopted a critical attitude with regard to the diplomacy lead- In all the parties where the majority leadership supported
ing up to the war, was replaced as Leader of the Labour Party the imperialist war there were minority group9 of varying
by Henderson. Henderson and other Labour representatives degrees of strength who campaigned against this policy. The
entered the War Coalition Government in the following year. history of international socialism during the First World War
MacDonald at the head of the Independent Labour Party, is the history of the growth of this international socialist
while supporting the war recruiting campaign, continued a opposition to the war, alike in numbers and volume of mass
critical attitude on the diplomatic issues and urged peace by support, and in the development of political clarity on the
negotiations. The British Socialist Party, representing the issues.
Marxist Socialists, was for an initial period misrepresented by
the extreme chauvinist Hyndman, until a delegate conference 3. INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST FIGHT AGAINST THE WAR
in 1916 was able to make effective the wishes of the member- The decision of the leadership in the main parties of the
ship, finish with Hyndman, and establish the British Socialist belligerent countries in Western and Central Europe to sup-
Party as the main organ of Marxist socialist opposition to the port the war was in no case unanimous. Thus in the German
war. Social-Democratic Party the decision to vote for the war
Not all the official parties of the Second International in the credits on August 4 was reached only after sharp division in
counbies involved in the First World War supported the war. the parliamentary fraction; a right-wing group of thirty
The alignment of parties showed a contrasting picture. delivered an ultimatum proclaiming their intention to vote for
The British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party, the the war credits in any case; the left-wing group of flfteen
German Social-Democratic Party, the Austrian Social Demo- urged opposition; when the centre joined with the right-wing,
cratic Party, the Belgian Labour Party and the Australian and the left accepted the decision in the name of party unity. By
South African Labour Parties supported the war and their December 2, 1914, the gravity of the issue broke for the first
Governments. The British, French and Belgian leaders joined time this rigidity of party discipline. Karl Liebknecht, to his
eternal honour, the worthy son of a worthy father, cast a
the capitalist war coalition Governments. In Australia the
solitary vote against the war credits; fifteen other social·demo-
Labour Government was already in office and gave full sup-
cratic deputies abstained. Here appeared in embryo form
port to the war. the three groupings which developed in the German socialist
The Russian Bolshevik Party and the Serbian Social- movement; the right-wing dominant leadership, fully com-
Democratic Party, as also the Hungarian Social-Democratic mitted to the imperialist war and the betrayal of international
Party, stood by the principles of the International, opposed the socialist principles; the minority group, which became voiced
war and conducted revolutionary agitation. The Mensheviks by Kautsky and later formed the Independent Socialist Party,
in Russia, after their deputies had initially joined with the expressing some critical reservations, but in practice covering
Bolshevik deputies in voting against the war credits, moved up the right-wing with Marxist phrases; and the Spartacus
over to accepting the slogan of ''national defence"; the Group of consistent international socialists, led by Karl Lieb-
Socialist-Revolutionaries were divided, as were also the knecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Klara Zetkin and Franz Mehring,
Mensheviks, between "internationalists" and "defencists". which later became the Communist Party.
As the war extended to additional countries, official parties Similar groupings and alignments could be traced in the
which maintained opposition included the Bulgarian main various countries involved in the war.
Social-Democratic Labour Party (the so·called "Narrow" From the outset a variety of efforts were made on behalf of
Socialists or historic organisation of Blagoev, Kolarov and various parties and sections in neutral countries to resume the
Dimitrov); the Rumanian Social-Democratic Party, the Italian shattered Jinks of international socialist contact. After the
Socialist Party and the Socialist Party of the United States. invasion of Belgiwn the office of .the International Socialist
Bureau was transferred to Holland, but in practice played no through the initiative of the Italian Socialist Party which had
effective role. In September, 1914, an Italian-Swiss Confer- maintained its anti-war position in face of the decision of the
ence was held at Lugano, which condemned the war as Italian Government to enter the war. A joint meeting
imperialist and expressed sympathy with the minority sections of Italian and Swiss socialists at Berne in July prepared the
in the parties supporting the war. The Lugano Conference conference and issued invitations to all parties and groups
called for a convening of the International Socialist Bureau, known to be in sympathy. · ·
but this was vetoed by Vandervelde as Chairman. In January, The Zimrnerwald Conference was attended by the official
1915, a Conference of the parties of Holland, Sweden, Norway delegates of parties from seven countries: Italy, Russia
and Denmark was held at Copenhagen, which discussed terms (Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries),
of peace and led to the formation of the Dutch-Scandinavian Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Rumania and Bulgaria. From
Committee to promote a common socialist approach to the Britain the Independent Labour Party and British Socialist
question of negotiations. Party appointed delegates, but they were unable to obtain
These initiatives on the part of parties in neutral countries passports. Minority opposition groups were represented from
did not yet represent any step towards united action of France, Germany, and Holland; Sweden and Norway were
socialists in the belligerent countries for the fight against the represented through the Youth organisation; and the Swiss
war. Separate conferences were also held of the parties in the Party was unofficially represented.
countries of the Triple Entente and in the countries of the At Zimmerwald a joint declaration was adopted by the
Central Powers to elaborate rival conceptions of war aims. French and German delegates, thus recalling the exchange of
Such conferences only revealed all the more sharply the real fraternal messages between the French and German sections
division. of the First International during the Franco-German war. A
The first international conference of socialists in the general manifesto was adopted, proclaiming international
belligerent countries for the fight against the war was con- working-class solidarity against imperialism. This was signed
vened by the International Socialist Women's Bureau of the by all the delegates, incluiling Ledebour and Hoffman for the
Second International, whose Secretary was Klara Zetkin, and Germans, Merrheim and Bourderon for the French, Lazzari
was held at Berne in March, 1915. This was a historically and Modigliani for the Italians, and Lenin, Axehod and
significant conference, attended among others by Krupskaya Bobrov for the Russians.
in the Bolshevik delegation, as the first international anti-war A permanent "Intemational Socialist Commission" was
conference of socialist representatives from the belligerent formed at Zimmerwald, which held together the parties con-
countries. In the following month an International Socialist cerned in an unofficial bloc, and received fresh affiliations.
Youth Conference, organised by the Secretary of the Inter- This Commission organised further conferences at Kienthal in
national Socialist Youth Bureau of the Second International, April, 1916, and at Stockholm in September, 1917. Thus the
Willi Miinzenberg, was also held in Berne. basis of the ne~. Internatio~al had begun to ~evelop.
The first general international socialist conference of The composition of the Z1mmerwala grouping was initially
opponents of the war was held at Zimmerwald in September, very mixed, on a general anti-war platform. There were paci-
1915. Whereas the Lugano and Copenhagen Conferences bad fist elements opposed on principle to all wars, which had found
been held with the official sanction and recognition of the a home in the Independent Labour Party in Britain. There
moribund International Socialist Bureau, and the Women's were all varieties of Centrism, ranging from the highly equi-
and Youth Conferences had at any rate been convened vocal attitude of the parliamentiarian MacDonald confined to
through machinery inherited from the old Second Inter- criticism in the diplomatic sphere, to the Marxist phrases and
national, the Zimmerwald Conference broke new ground as confused line of the German Independents or the "neither
an unofficial international socialist conference convened victory nor defeat" slogan of Trotsky. On the left were the
consistent Marxist internationalists led by Lenin and the Engels made in 1891 immediately after the Franco-Russian
Bolshevik Party. Alliance, and partially modified by him in a suJ?plementary
In this considerable confusion of the varied left socialist note in 1892, belonged to the pre-imperialist era). In fact, in
trends of criticism or opposition to the war it was Lenin and the imperialist world war of 1914, while the mass of the people
the Bolshevik Party who from the outset brought clarity on the were called on to fight and give their lives in the name of
complex theoretical issues and a firm strategic line for prac- national defence, that is, to save their countries from invasion
tice. This was accomplished especially by the resolution of and subjh~ron, their rulers were in reality fighting for secret
the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party "The War and aims to colonial ambitions and redivide the world. The
Russian Social-Democracy", based on theses prepared by truth of Lenin's analysis was proved when the Bolshevik
Lenin, and published in October, 1914, and by the subsequent Revolution laid bare the archives of Tsarism and revealed to
activities of the Bolshevik representatives in all international the world the secret treaties of the British, French and Russian
gatherings along these lines. Governments for expansionist ambitions and especially the
While the bankruptcy of the Second International and the domination of the Middle East as the real war aims. Fourth,
betrayal of their pledges by the majority leaders of the pro- the only practical revolutionary socialist fight against the war
war socialist parties was recognised by all serious socialists, (in place of rhetorical denunciation of war in general or im·
the further questions were at the outset far less clear to the perialist war in general) must be directed against "one's own"
majority of socialist opponents of the war. The conception of Government, for the defeat of "one's own" Government and
the aim to revive the International Socialist Bureau and the victory of the working-class revolution, as already pre-
Second International was widely expressed. On the question cisely laid down in the Basle resolution, with its reference to
of national defence, aggressive and defensive war, and the the example of the Paris Commune-that is, to transform the
attitude of socialists to participation in the war there was imperialistwarintocivil war. As Karl Liebknecht proclaimed:
especial confusion. In the pre-imperialist era Engels had "If the German Socia1ists, for instance, were to combat
spoken of the necessity of German socialists defendlng Ger- the English Government ·and the English Socialists the
many in the event of a two-front war, or of French socialists German Government, it would be a farce or something
defending France in the event of an attack by Germany; and worse. He who does not attack the enemy imperialism
these quotations were freely used by the pro-war socialists to represented by those who stand opposed to him face to
justify their policy. Revolutionary agitation against the war face, but attacks those from whom he is far away. and
was often side-tracked and replaced by discussion about peace who are not within his shooting range, and that even with
aims or advocacy of a negotiated peace. the help and approbation of his own Government (i.e.
Lenin's analysis cut through this confusion. First, it showed those representatives of imperialism who are directly con-
the character of the war as an imperialist war, recalling the fronting him) is no socialist, but a miserable hack of the
very precise definition of it already given by the Basle resolu- ruling class."
tion. Second, it clarified the Marxist attitude to wars; the dis- Fifth, the bankruptcy of the Second International was no
tinction between just and unjust wars; and the judgement of mere temporary interruption of contact through the war, but
each war concretely, not on the basis of categories of aggres· was the consequence of the domination of opportunism in the
sive or defensive wars or allegations who began it, but accord- main parties. Hence it was necessary to break with the bank-
ing to the class waging the war, and the policies and aims rupt Second International, since continuance of unity with the
of the class waging the war. Third, the plea of "national opportunists would mean unity with the bourgeoisie, and to
defence" was thus exposed as a sophistical alias for imperialist prepare the foundation of a new Third International on the
aims in an imperialist war. This was not a question of indiffer- basis of the principles of revolutionary socialist international-
ence of socialists to national independence (the statements of ism, of communism.
On this basis the practical tasks of socialists in the countries supreme international struggle for the final triumph of the
involved in the imperialist world war were declared to be: proletariat; and set the nex~, objectiv~ for a united .fig~~ for
(1) unconditional refusal to vote for war credits, and an immediate armistice and peace without annexations .
immediate withdrawal of all socialists from bourgeois govern" By the time of the third Internation:J ~ocialist Conferen:e
ments; (2) rejection of any agreement with the bourgeoisie and convened by the Zimmerwald Comnussion at Stockholm m
of "class peace"; (3) establishment of illegal organisations in September, 1917 (after the collapse of the projected Stock-
countries where they did not exist and where work in legal holm Conference summoned by the Dutch-Scandinavian
organisations was difficult; (4) support of fraternisation by the Committee in consultation with the lnte1'.11ational Socialist
soldiers at the front; (5) support for all revolutionary mass Bureau for the summer of 1917), an entirely new situation had
actions of the proletariat. arisen with the development of the Russian Revolution.
Already at the Zimmerwald Conference a Zimmerwald Left
grouping of eight delegates was organised on the initiative 4. BEGINNING OF THE WORLD SOCIALIST REVOLUTION
of Lenin, and set up its own Bureau. The Zimrnenvald Left The conventional view that the beginning of the world
issued a statement criticising the inadequacy of the manifesto socialist revolution in 1917 was caused by the First World War
adopted by the Conference, but joined in signing it as repre· is a shallow and superficial analysis. We have seen that in the
senting a first step in developing the international .fight against majority of European countries a semi-revolutionary situation
the war. was developing on the eve of 1914. The explosion of the con"
When the second International Socialist Conference was tradictions of imperialism into the war of 1914 exposed the
held at Kienthal in Switzerland seven months later in April, bankruptcy of the old social order and entry into the era of
1916, the advance of the movement was revealed, not only the general clisis of capitalism, and through its further con-
in the growth of support, but in the more militant (though sequences of deepening horror for the peoples eventually
still confused) political formulations and in the strengthened sharpened the conditions for revolutionary development. But
position of the Zimmerwald Left. The Kienthal Conference the first effect of the outbreak of war in 1914 was to drown the
was attended by forty"three delegates, including official repre" revolution in a flood of chauvinism.
sentatives from the socialist parties of nine countries (Britain, Already in 1886 Engels predicted this initial outcome of
Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, Switzer- the outbreak of the threatened European war:
land and the United States). The Left, with Lenin leading the "The bourgeois Republicans in France are in the same
Bolshevik delegation, was still in a minority, with the adher- boat as the Tsar in Russia: they see revolution raising its
ence of twelve of the forty-three delegates; and their pro- head before their eyes and they see but one means of sal-
posals for a draft resolution to set out clearly the aims of the vation : war....
transformation of the imperialist war into civil war and for "For my part, I believe that the decisive fact for us
the establishment of a new Third International were not must be that the war, if war there be, will be made only
accepted by the centrist majority. The resolutions adopted by with the purpose of preventing revolution.... Therefore
the Conference did sharply criticise the International Socialist I am for peace at any price· since it is not we who will
Bureau; combined repudiation of the pro-war socialists (des- pay the price."
cribed ias "Social-Nationalists") with condemnation of "bour- (Engels, letter to Paul Lafargue, October 25, 1886)
geois pacifism"; called for "the conquest of political power and At the outset, with the dominant leadership of the main
the ownership of capital by the people themselves; the real Social-Democratic Parties in the belligerent countries (out-
durable peace will be the fruit of triumphant socialism"; urged side Russia) failing in the hour of trial and joining up with
the intensification of the mass movement against reaction and "their'' ruling class, the masses of the people entered into the
the economic consequences of the war to culminate in the war in a higb tide of national patriotic ardour to defend, as
they believed, their countries or their ideals against the assault peaceful form of constructive work the socialist can
of a criminal enemy. They knew nothing of the secret engage in." .
imperialist intrigues which had led to the war, or the secret Qames Connolly, speech to the Glasgow May Day
imperialist expansionist aims for which they were really being demonstration, 1915J
called upon to give their lives. This initial mood received With the insight of genius Connolly saw how the struggle in
characteristic poetic expression in the na'ive ignorance of Ireland during the war could be the ·starting point to kindle
Rupert Brooke's "Now God be praised who has matched us all Europe:
with this hour". "Starting thus, Ireland may yet set the torch to a
The realities of war soon shattered these na'ive illusions European conflagration that will not burn out until the
(save for the leader-writers snugly ensconced on the home last throne and the last capitalist bond and debenture
front). The Christmas fraternisation on the Western Front in will be shrivelled on the funeral pyre of the last war lord."
the first year of the war was a temporary manifestation of rank.- In the Easter Rising he made good his words.
and-file solidarity, which higher authority was concerned by Connolly, a wounded prisoner of war, was bound to a chair
every means to suppress. %en the millions of soldiers, in to be executed by decision of the British War Cabinet which
place of the "hurrah" patriotism of the first days, found them- included Henderson, Leader of the Labour Party. All the old-
selves condemned to limitless senseless mutual slaughter as fashioned schools of socialism in Britain, not only on the right,
they were dragged deeper and deeper down the dark, dirty, but also on the left, failed to undersl'and the meaning of his
bloodstained unending tunnel of "war to the bitter end", and role and of his death, and thereby exposed their links, con-
when the millions at home suffered increasing shortage while scious or unconscious, to imperialism. The Labour Party,
the profiteers made fortunes, the mood changed, not yet to through Arthur Henderson, executed him. MacDonald and
revolutionary awakening, since the socialist leadership had the I.L.P. denounced him as a "militarist". Tom Johnston and
failed the peoples in their hour of need, but to black moods the left-wing Glasgow Forwa1'd proclaimed his action inex-
of bitterness, resentment and angry tired hopelessness re- plicable: "it remains a mystery." A few days before his death
flected also in the subsequent war poems, as of Owen and the wounded Connolly, still conscious, asked for "any socialist
Sassoon. papers" and said : "They will never understand why I am
The first revolt was the Easter Rising in Ireland. This was here." But there were those who understood. From afar Lenin
a national liberation revolt against British imperialism, not yet understood, and castigated those who dared to denounce the
successful, but preparing future success. Within this national Irish Rising as "a putsch" :
revolution the working class, through Connolly and the Irish "To imagine that ia social revolution is conceivable
Citizens' Army led by him, played its independent vanguard without revolts of small nations in the colonies and in
role in the common national front. The proclamation of the Europe . . . to imagine that is only tantamount to re-
unity of the working-class struggle for socialism and the pudiating social revolution.
national liberation struggle against imperialism as the specific "The misfortune of the Irish is that they rose prema-
form of the world socialist revolution in the imperialist era was turely, when the European revolt of the proletariat has
the great independent contribution of Connolly to Marxist not yet matured. Capitalism is not so hannoniously
theory, already before the teachings of Lenin, which clari.Bed built that the various springs of rebellion can im·
the whole question, were known in the Western working-class mediately merge into one, of their own accord, without
movement. reverses and defeats."
"War waged by the oppressed nationalities against the (Lenin, The Results of the Discussion on Self-
oppressors, and the class war of the proletariat against Determination, 1916)
capital ..• is par excellence the swiftest, safest and most The Rising of 1916 was a forerunner of the victory of 1917.
The Russian Revolution of 1917, beginning with the over- the conditions of the war and the first stage of the 1917 revolu-
throw of Tsarism in March, and culminating in the victory of tion through the Theses of April, 1917. The analysis of this
working-class power and the socialist revolution in November, classic development from the beginning of the bourgeois
was the fulfilment of the predictions and teachings of Marx, democratic revolution in March, 1917, belongs to the history
Engels and Lenin. As Marx had predicted in the years before of the Russian Revolution.
his death, the role of the revolutionary vanguard had passed It is important to recognise that the revolution was from
to Russia. As Engels had predicted in 1888, in tracing the pro- the outset a mass revolt from below. The strike movement had
bable course of the future European War between a Franco- risen from 250,000 in January to 400,000 in February and
Russian Alliance and the Germany of the Kaiser, "revolution March. The flashpoint was the International Women's Day
in Petersburg" would transform the whole situation. As Lenin demonstration on March 8, the day originally fixed by the
had predicted in 1902, the task before the Russian working International Women's Socialist Conference of the old Second
class was "more revolutionary than all the immediate tasks International. The strike movement developed to the level of
that confront the proletarfat of any other country", namely, the political general strike, clashes with the police, and in-
"the destruction of the most powerful bulwark, not only of surrection against Tsarism under the slogans "Down with the
Emopean, but also of Asiatic reaction"; and the fulfilment of War!", "Down with Tsarism!" and "Give us Bread!". The
this task "places the Russian proletariat in the vanguard of the political and organising leadership of the movement at each
international revolutionary proletariat" ("What Is To Be stage was the Bolshevik Party Committee in Petrograd. When
Done?"). the soldiers in increasing numbers began to respond to the call
The reason why the world socialist revolution began of the Bolshevik Party Committee for fraternisation, refused
in Russia, and not, as Marx had originally anticipated prior to fire upon the workers, and by March 12 the main body of
to 1850, in Western Europe, lay in two decisive factors. First, the Petrograd garrison had come over to the workers, the fate
the world system of imperialism broke initially at its weakest of Tsarism was sealed. The bourgeois-liberal leaders of the
Jjnlc, Russian imperialism, which was most economically and type of Miliukov or the extreme right-wing chauvinist labour
politically backward and vulnerable. Second, the subjective leaders of the type of Kerensky had no part in the action and
factor was ready: that is, within the backward social system victory of the first revolution of March, 1917, but only after
of Russia the working class, concentrated in developed large. their initial attempts to salvage Tsarism had failed, they pro-
scale industry (larger-scale in general than the average in claimed themselves a "Provisional Government" on the basis
Western Europe), was more advanced in political conscious- of their position in the Tsarist Duma. Thus this "Provisional
ness and organisation than in Western Europe, through the Government" of bourgeois reaction was from the outset
role of the Bolshevik Party, under the leadership of Lenin, as counterposed to the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers• Deputies,
the majority party of the working class, strongly based in the which was the real organ of the revolution. But since the
factories, and already obtaining the overwhelming majority revolution brought into participation for the first time tens of
of working-class votes (1,008,000 to 214,000) in the elections millions who had no previous polltical experience, the
of workers' deputies to the Duma before the war. Bolsheviks were at the beginning in a minority in the Soviets.
The development of the Russian Revolution from the The leaders of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary
February Revolution (so called from the old calendar; on Parties who dominated them in the early stages voluntarily
March 8 by the new) to the October Revolution (November 7 sunendered power to the bourgeoisie and pledged support to
by the new) brilliantly confirmed and fulfilled the strategy and the bourgeois Provisional Government, which was in fact
tactics outlined and developed by Lenin during the years maintaining the imperialist secret treaties and determined to
1900-1917, elaborated with further precision in the light of prosecute the imperialist war.
the experience of the 1905 revolution, and carried forward in From this situation arose the eight months of "dual power"
of the Provisional Government and of the Soviets. To the November 7, showed: 390 Bolsheviks; 179 Left Social
Bolshevik Party fell the task of first peacefully winning the Revolutionaries (allied with the Bolsheviks); 35 International-
support of the majority of the working class and the Soviets ist Mensheviks and only 51 Mensheviks and Right Socialist-
before the aim of Soviet power could be realised. This task Revolutionaries. Thus there was no question that by October
was accomplished through eight months of complex political the Bolsheviks had won decisive majority support among the
development, during which Kerensky and his Government masses, above all in the big centres. This was the basis of the
sought to suppress the Bolshevik Party with arrests and round- Bolshevik Revolution, and of the completeness of the victory,
ing up of its leaders, denounced Lenin and the Bolsheviks as on November 7. The final transfer of power was able to take
German agents, whipped up an imperialist war offensive, and place with such speed, apparent ease and virtual lack of
installed the counter-revolutionary General Kornilov as Com- resistance, because the majority support had been won
mander in Chief who proceeded to march on Petrograd with through the long preceding process. The Bolshevik Revolution
his so-called "Savage Division" to suppress the revolution. was, in fact, the most democratic revolution in history. It was
This attempted counter-revolutionary coup was defeated by also the most bloodless. The bloodshed and heavy anned
the workers and peasants and their newly formed Red Guard struggles only came during the subsequent years through the
detachments, organised through the leadership of the Bol- interventionist wars, military plots and subsidised civil wars
sheviks, who simultaneously exposed the complicity of organised by Western imperiausm.
Kerensky in the attempted counter-revolutionary coup and
led the fight for its defeat. All this experience helped to open 5. REVOLUTION AND COUNTER-REVOLUTION IN EUROPE
the eyes of the masses. The Bolsheviks, refusing to be All this complex political development of the Russian
provoked into premature insurrection, by their tireless agita- Revolution during the eight months of "dual power" culminat-
tion, propaganda and organisation among the working ing in the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution, was inter-
people and the soldiers and in the Soviets, and by the demon- twined at each stage with the international situation and the
stration of the justice and correctness of their political leader- rising development of the international revolutionary move-
ship at each stage and turn of the revolution, step by step won ment in the other European belligerent countries, and in the
effective majority support for their policy and leadership. neutral countries, against the imperialist war. The mass de-
By the autumn of 1917 the Bolsheviks had won more and mands which were the driving force of the Russian Revolu-
more completely the overwhelming majority of the masses tion, and which found concrete expression in the programme
behind them, in Petrograd, Moscow and the big industrial of the Bolshevik Party, were the demands for peace, bread
centres, in the trade unions, in the Northern armies, in the and land. Within the Soviets the struggle against the .right-
Baltic fleet. The Bolsheviks won the majority in the Petrograd wing leadership which supported the Provisional Government
and Moscow Soviets by the beginning of September. At the of Kerensky and Miliukov developed in the forefront as a
"Democratic Conference" summoned by Kerensky in Septem- struggle against the imperialist war and for peace. The Petro-
ber, the trade union delegation, the Soviet delegation, and grad Soviet adopted the slogan "No Annexations and No
the national groups all voted overwhehningly for the Indemnities", and called for an international conference of
Bolshevik line. The Moscow municipal elections, which in socialist parties to orgruiise the fight for peace along these
July had shown 70 per cent of the votes for the Mensheviks lines.
and Socialist-Revolutionaries, in September gave these only The effects in stimulating the movement within all the
18 per cent and 51 per cent to the Bolsheviks. Finally, the belligerent countries were far-reaching. In France the military
Second All-Russian Soviet Congress, elected from all over revolts of the spring of 1917 were only with difficulty sup-
Russia under the auspices of the old right-wing Central pressed. In Germany the Social-Democratic Party split, with
Executive Committee, and meeting under their auspices on the formation of the centrist Independent Socialist Party
under Kautsky, Haase and Ledebour in April, 1917, alongside of the projected Stockholm Conference, since the Govern-
the illegal Spartacus Alliance led by Liebknecht and Rosa ments of the Entente countries refused passports. But a Con-
Luxemburg, which had been organised on the basis of the ference of the Zimmerwald Left was held at Stockholm and
Spartacus Letters in 1916, and which participated as a group- adopted a decision for the formation of a new International.
ing within the Independent Socialist Party. In July, 1917, the The Russian socialist revolution of November, 1917, with
Reichstag adopted a resolution for a negotiated peace. In the Peace Decree as its first decree, appealing to all the war-
Britain the Leeds Convention for the formation of Workers' ring governments and peoples to end the bloodshed and
and Soldiers' Councils was organised by a wide range of left- make peace, transformed the situation. It was in response to
wing elements in June, 1917. The general line of the centrist an urgent appeal from the American envoy in Petrograd that
social-democratic leadership, and of some of the right-wing President Wilson proclaimed in January, 1918, his famous
(although intensely opposed by the most extreme chauvinist Fourteen Points as a proposed basis for peace. To right-wing
right-wing) became to ·seek to divert the rising revolutionary social-democracy, and to many of the Centre like Kautsky,.the
ferment into the channels of a campaign for a negotiated victory of the socialist revolution was an outrage and a
peace. This proposition had already been presented by more disaster. Thus H. N. Brailsford (who was later to boast of his
far-seeing representatives of the bourgeoisie, as in the early support of the Russian socialist revolution) wrote at the
famous letter of the veteran Lord Lansdowne in November, time:
1916 (not published till a year later); the similar proposals of "This month is likely to stand in our memories as the
the Austrian Emperor Karl in the same month; the readiness blackest of the war. It began with the disaster in Italy;
of the Asquith Cabinet to negotiate in December, 1916, which that has been followed by a second Russian revolution."
led to its replacement by Lloyd George; President 'Wilson's (H. N. Brailsford in the Herald-wartime weekly
"Peace Without Victory" speech in January, 1917; and the form of the Daily Hernld November 17, 1917)
Austrian peace negotiations of the spring of 1917 with the But to all militant workers, socialists and anti-war fighters this
accompanying Count Czernin memorandum ("the basis of my historic victory of the working people for peace and socialism
argument is the danger of revolution"). brought new inspiration and confidence. In Germany
The Dutch-Scandinavian Committee, whose formation in throughout January and February, 1918, while the Brest-
1915 has been described, in association with the derelict Inter- Litovsk negotiations were tearing the mask from German
national Sociahst Bureau of Camille Huysmans, proposed an imperialism, a vast strike movement spread, with the forma-
intemational socialist conference on peace aims to be held in tion of Workers' Councils in the principal towns. By June
Stockholm in August, 1917. The Petrograd Soviet, still under there were bread riots in Vienna.
Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary leadership, associated Nevertheless, despite the growing unrest of the war-weary
itself with this project. The Social-Democratic Parties in the masses in Germany, France and Britain, reflected in the rising
countries of the Central Powers and the neutral countries sup- strike movement and military revolts, the more strongly
ported this proposal, while those in the Entente countries organised ruling machine of imperialism in these countries,
were divided. The British Labour Party had been originally with the aid of the jingo social-democracy, was able to main-
opposed; but after Henderson had visited Petrograd on an tain control. Therefore the Brest Peace Treaty, the shameful
official mission and recognised the urgency of the situation, annexationist "robbers' peace'', had to be signed in March,
he came back and recommended participation, which was 1918. The customary howl of denunciation followed from
carried by a majority at a Special Labour Party Conference in right-wing social-democracy and its associates in the Entente
August, 1917. Henderson was disowned by the Wm Cabinet, countries against Lenin's "betrayal" of socialism by signing
and resigned; but the Labour Party continued participation a peace treaty with the robber German imperialism and
in the War Cabinet through Barnes. In the end nothing came receiving a German Ambassador in Moscow. The same Bra:ils-
ford, oalready during the Brest negotiations, declared that the clusion of a Separate and Annexationist Peace,
Bolsheviks had placed themselves "beyond the pale of inter- January7, 1918)
national socialism". Indeed, there was sharp division within And again .
the Soviet leadership before signature. Trotsky fought Lenin "Yes we will see the international world revolution;
on this issue, proffering as a substitute for signature the mean- but for' the time being it is a very good fairy tale-I quite
ingless formula "Neither war nor peace"; the resultant delay understand children liking beautiful fairy tales. But I
lost Eastern Latvia and Estonia to imperialism, as the German ask, is it becoming for a serious revolutionary to believe
armies advanced. Trotsky was supported by some "Left" fairy tales?"
Bolshevik leaders, Bucharin, Radek and others, and by the (Lenin, Report on War and Peace to the Seventh
Left S.R.s. The latter withdrew from the Coalition Govern- Congress of the Russian Communist Party, March
ment in June, 1918, assassinated the German Ambassador, and 7, 1918)
attempted to stage a coup, but won no mass support. Lenin's judgement, equally his confidence in the future
Lenin and the Bolsheviks watched keenly for every sign of advance of the revolution in Europe, and especially in Ger-
the advance of the working-class revolt in Central and many, and his refusal to base any calculations on its date, "":as
Western Europe. They were confident that the Brest Treaty justified by the event. The tide of revolution continued to nse
would be eventually wiped out by the German working class. in Germany and Central Europe. By October the Austro-
But they did not count on any quick easy solution by the Hungarian Empire was in collapse before the rev~lt of the
immediate advance of the world socialist revolution; hence nationalities alongside the insurgence of the working class.
their realist recognition of the necessity of signature. It is From the beginning of October the G~rman imJ?erialist :nle:s
characteristic of the conventional anti-Marxist falsification of were suing for an annistice on the basis of President Wilson s
history that the viewpoint of the Left Communists and the Fourteen Points. The Western Powers delayed to haggle over
Left S.R.s, to stake all on "revolutionary war" and the rapid terms of surrender, not understanding the speed with which
spread of the socialist revolution in Central and Western the revolution was advancing. By October 28 the naval revolt
Europe as the indispensable condition for the survival of the at Kiel was followed by the establishment of the rule of the
Russian revolution (the latter standpoint being also voiced by Workers' Council in Kiel on November 5. During the next
Trotsky), is now presented in every standard ill~formed days Workers' and Soldiers' Councils took over the principal
account as the supposed viewpoint of Lenin and the Bol- towns of Germany. By November 9 the Kaiser fled. On
sheviks. Lenin made the position clear beyond the possibility November 11 the armistice was signed. The speed and extent
of confusion when he wrote in January, 1918: of the revolution took the Western powers by surprise; right
"That the socialist revolution in Europe must come> up to the last their general staffs were engaged in preparing
and will come, is beyond doubt. All our hopes for the elaborate plans for the campaigns of 1919.
final victory of socialism are founded on this certainty The initial phase of the international socialist revolution
and on this scientific prognosis .... But it would be a mis- thus brought an end to the war which imperialism had proved
take to base the tactics of the Russian Socialist Govern- incapable of ending. The Russian revolution ended the war
ment on an attempt to detem1ine whether the European, in the East. The German revolution ended the war in the
and especially the German, socialist revolution will take West.
place in the next six months (or some such brief period) On the other hand, imperialism, with the aid of right-wing
or not. Inasmuch as it is quite impossible to determine social-democracy, was able to crush the revolution in Central
this, all such attempts, objectively speaking, would be and Western Europe. In Germany power had in fact passed
nothing but a blind gamble." for the moment into the hands of the Workers' and Soldiers'
(Lenin, Theses on the Question of Immediate Con- Councils, and was so proclaimed by the Berlin Council. But
the leaders of right-wing social-democracy, who by the to crush the working-class socialist revolution; after the defeat
strength of traditional party discipline and organisation held of Germany the British took over the support of General
the dominant official positions and voting majority in the First Mannerheim and his White Terror, in which 30,000 workers
National Congress of Councils, had formed a Provisional were massacred. In Hungary a Soviet Republic in the spring
Government composed equally of Majority and Independent of 1919, established by a completely peaceful transfer of
Social Democrats. The right-wing social-democratic leaders power from Count Karolyi to a Communist-Socialist Coalition,
united with the militarist officers and White Guards, whom endured for six weeks. Under the direction of the Entente
they anned, to suppress the working-class revolution in blood, Rumanian and Czechoslovak armies were sent in to destroy
murder Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the leaders of the the workers' regime and establish the White Terror of General
newly formed German Communist Party, and in the name of Horthy, with whom the right-wing Hungarian Social-Demo-
"democracy" restored the rule of the bourgeoisie in close cratic Party drew up and signed a written treaty of alliance,
alliance with the militarist counter-revolutionary armed for- which later became public knowledge. The international
mations which later developed to Nazism. working class rallied to the support of the Soviet Union
The world revolutionary wave which followed the First against the interventionist wars, with the French naval revolt
World War and the Russian revolution rose to great heights, in the Black Sea in 1919; the mutiny of the American soldiers
but was nowhere finally victorious during these years except and the unrest of the British soldiers at Archangel in the same
in the Soviet Union, where the leadership of Communism year; and the British dockers' action, inspired by Harry Pollitt
defeated every attempt at counter-revolution and interven- in May, 1920 to stop the supply of munitions to Poland for
tion. These years witnessed a wide range of struggles of re- use against the Soviet Union, followed in August by the for-
volution and counter-revolution, of civil wars and interven- mation of Councils of Action (for which the Communist Party,
tionist wars, as well as national-liberation revolts throughout a fortnight old, had issued a call responded to in mass meet-
the colonial empires. Already before the end of the war British ings all over the country) by the entire labour movement to
and German forces, nominally at war with one another, were stop the wars of intervention.
cooperating in the Baltic against the working-class revolution. Through all these vicissitudes the rule of capitalism was in
Interventionist wars were conducted by all the Western the outcome saved and restored throughout Central and
powers against the Soviet Union, \vith British, French, Ameri- Western Europe thanks to the role of right-wing social-demo-
can and Japanese invasions on countless fronts; and with cracy. Communist Parties were still only in process of
the organisation of sabotage, conspiracy and assassination (on formation during this period. If the labour and sociialist move-
August 30, 1918, Lenin was shot and heavily wounded by ment had been politically equipped and ready in leadership
a Socialist-Revolutionary agent; although he fought his way and organisation to rise to the heights of its opportunities
to recovery and resumption of work, the consequences of this during these critical years, if the working-class socialist
wounding were in great part responsible for his early death). revolution had been carried through in Germany alongside
Counter-revolutionary generals and brigands were anned and Russia, and probably in that case in most of Europe; there
subsidised by the Western powers; and in their Cabinets right would have undoubtedly been a far happier future of rapid
wing Social Democrats, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolution- and harmonious development, equally for the Russian people,
aries, sat in coalition with Tsarist officers and White Guards and for all the peoples of the rest of Europe. There would have
like Generals Kolchak and Denikin. In Finland, where the been no fascism and no second world war.
Socialist Party had a parliamentary majority, and the Bol- The leaders of social-democracy preached to the workers
sheviks had granted to Finland the independence refused by that their path represented the alternative to the horrors and
Kerensky, the German armed forces invaded in 1918 to assist bloodshed of Bolshevism, and would lead through a peaceful
the former Tsarist General Mannerheim and his White Guards evolutionary development of restored capitalism and rising

prosperity to the goal of socialism. But the real outcome was

different from the picture they painted. The real outcome was
the most devastating world economic crisis in capitalist
history, the horror of fascism and nazism, and the infinite
bloodshed and destruction of the Second World War. Ramsay
MacDonald, Scheidemann and the other Western social-
democratic leaders, in warning against the horrors of Bol-
shevism, had promised the peoples of Western and Central
Europe that their path would bring socialism without blood- CHAPTER VI
shed. The outcome for these peoples proved to be bloodshed
without socialism. A heavy price had to be paid, not only by
the working class in the Western European countries who had THE TWO INTERNATIONALS
followed social-democratic leadership, but also by the Soviet
people, who did not bear the guilt of fascism, but who had
to bear the main brunt to destroy it and save the peoples "I believe that the next International, after Marx's writ-
of Europe and the world. The decades since the First World ings have exercised their influence for some years, will
War have seen the working out of this experience. A bitter be directly Communist, and will proclaim precisely our
ordeal has had to be gone through by the peoples of Europe principles."
and the world in order to learn the lessons of Marxism- ENGELS, letter to Sorge, September 12-17, 1874
This prediction of Engels, as often with the predictions of
Marxism, took longer to fulfil than anticipated. The Second
International, which came into existence sixteen years after
he expressed this expectation, did indeed accept in general
principle the theory of Marxism, but was far from "directly
Communist", and sank into opportunism and ignominious
collapse. It was only after the lesson of this experience had
been drawn that the hope of Engels found fulfilment in the
foundation of the Third or Communist International.


The split in the organised working-class movement, both
internationally and within the leading capitalist countries, has
now continued for half a century; and there is not yet any
immediate prospect of its being healed.
This split did not originate from the war of 1914, although
it only reached its public organised form since then. The split
was not due to the physical rupture of contacts which accom-
panied war conditions and the collapse of the Second Inter-
national. Lenin showed how the split arose from the con-
sequences of imperialism, through the corruption of the
greater part of the upper leadership and an upper section of Up to 1914, however, it had been possible for all the oppos-
the working class sharing in the crumbs of imperialist colonial ing trends and sections, from the Fabians to t;he Bolsheviks,
exploitation, thereby developing a common interest of class to be members of a single International. This was possible
cooperation with the ruling class against any militant mass because the differences and divisions, however acute, were
revolt or colonial revolt, and sacrificing for the sake of this still differences and divisions in the realm of theory, of debate,
limited and temporary sectional advantage the interests of the of polemics, of tactics-vital theoretical and practical
working class as a whole, of the international working class differences, but not yet direct and open differences of revolu·
and socialism. tion and counter-revolution.
Marx and Engels had already exposed this process in the After 1914, however, after the opening of the general crisis
conditions of Britain in the second half of the nineteenth of capitalism, after the direct coalition of the opportunist
century, where the establishment of Britain's world industrial leadership with their rival capitalist masters, and still more
and trading monopoly, alongside vast colonial possessions, after the beginning of the world socialist revolution, the
had made it possible to suffocate the flaming spirit of working- differences and divisions were transferred to opposite sides
class revolt expressed in Chartism and revolutionary trade of the barricades; and such formal organisational unity could
unionism, and to replace it by the "respectable" relatively no longer be possible.
limited aims and methods of struggle of the skilled craft When Henderson executed Connolly; when Scheide-
unions of the labour aristocracy, politically following in the mann and Noske murdered Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg;
wake of the capitalist Liberal Party. But with the development when the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary leaders
of imperialism as the general character of all advanced capital- united in the Cabinets of the White Guard Terrorists Kolchak
ism on a world scale by the beginning of the twentieth cen- and Denikin to make war on the Soviet revolution : to speak
tury, this process was carried very much further in all the of unity in a single "socialist" organisation could only be a
leading imperialist countries and their immediate capitalist mockery.
subsidiaries. The pickings of the opportunist upper leadership A new International had to be formed to correspond to the
became very much more considerable, still more manifestly era of the opening of the world socialist revolution.
with the shift of war conditions (lucrative posts on govern-
ment commissions, ministerial posts, appointments on nation- 2. FOUNDATION OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL
alisation boards, business connections, etc.), leading to in- The Communist International or Third International was
creasing integration with the capitalist state. At the same time formally founded in March, 1919. In fact the aim of its founda-
class contradictions grew; the foundations of the old Jabour tion was already explicitly proclaimed by Lenin in November
aristocracy began to crack with the advancing challenge of the 1914, when he wrote:
organisation of the unskilled and the rising national-liberation "Overwhelmed by opportunism, the Second Inter-
struggle; and there was a simultaneous growth of working- national has died. Down with opportunism, and long live
class militancy directly struggling against the opportunist the Third International, purged of opportunism I"
leadership and finding its political champion in revolutionary (Lenin, Position and Tasks of the Socialist Intm·-
Marxism. Such was the developing situation within the inter· national, November 1, 1914)
national socialist and working-class movement from the begin- This aim was also officially proclaimed by the resolution of
ning of the twentieth century, which reached its culmination the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party on the same
and inevitable outcome with the collapse of the Second Inter· date, which declared "Long live a proletarian International
national on the outbreak of the war of 1914. The collapse of freed from opportunism I " '
the Second International was not the beginning of the split, After the opening of the Russian Revolution Lenin wrote
but rather, as Lenin said, the bursting of anabscess. in April, 1917, that the Russian party had now the duty to take
the initiative for the formation of the Third International: the Congress) and the Group of Oriental Nationalities in
'We must take the initiative in creating a revolutionary Russia: all with voting rights. In addition, there w~re
International directed against the social-chauvinists and observers without voting rights from a nun1ber of countries,
against the Centre." including Britain (J. Fineberg of the British Socialist Party),
(Lenin, The Tasks of the P1'0letariat in the Present Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, France, Holland, Korea,
Revolution, April 20, 1917) Persia, Turkey and Yugoslavia. ·
After the opening of the German revolution, and with the This Congress launched the new International. At the out-
foundation of the German Communist Party from the former set there was some division whether to go forward at once or
Spartacus League in December, 1918, the t.ask b~came to wait, in view of the still fluid situation of the development
imperatively urgent, however g~eat ~~ difficulties of of the left and emergence of Communist Parties in the
communication on account of the imperialist blockade. On majority of countries. The delegate of the German party had
January 24 the invitation to the ~ounda~on Co~gress was been originally mandated for delay on ~ese groun~. But
sent out in the name of six Communist Parties (Russia, Poland, the argument of urgency, strongly emphasised by Lenm, pre-
Hungary, Austria, Latvia and Finland), the Balkan Revolu- vailed. The resolution establishing the Communist Intema-
tionary Social Democratic Federation and an indivi.dual repre- national or Third International (both terms were used in the
sentative of the Socialist Labour Party of the Uruted States. resolution) was carried with the abstention of the German
The invitation set out in summary form the proposed basis and delegate. The pla~form of th~ ~ew Int~m~,tional, its
principles of the new International, and was addressed .to provisional constitution and orgamsation, and its Appeal to
thirty-nine organisations or groups, including all Communist the Workers of All Countries", which became known as the
Parties, five Socialist or Social-Democratic Parties regarded New Communist Manifesto, were adopted on behall of all the
as ranged with the left, and nineteen left minorities within parties and groups participating in the Congress.
socialist parties or militant industrial groupings. . . The achievement of the First Congress was not only to
Urgency was increased by the fact that the discredited found the new International, but to set out in clear and
leaders of the old Second International were planning to meet memorable terms the principles of revolutionary communism,
at Beine in February, 1919, in order to resurrect the old carrying forward the theory of Marxism or communism in the
Second International. For this leadership, favoured by the era of the general crisis of capitalism and opening of the
Governments, there were none of the difficulties of coming to- world socialist revolution; analyse the experience of the war
gether which faced the still develo~ing revoluti~n.ary sections and the international situation after the war; demonstrate the
of the working~class movement lil the conditions of the necessity of the break with social-chauvinism and centrism;
beginning of 1919. clarify the basic questions of capitalist democracy and work-
The First Congress of the Communist International held at ing-class dictatorship; proclaim the tasks ahead in this era of
Moscow on March 4-7, 1919, had to be held under these revolution; and lay down the provisional organisation of the
extremely difficult practical conditions. It was attended by Communist International (or "intematione.l communist
representatives of eleven Communist Parties (~~nia, party", as the Manifesto described it). The Congress appointed
Austria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithu- a provisional Executive Committee, consisting of representa-
ania, Poland, Russia and Ulaaine); five Socialist or Social- tives of the parties of seven countries or regions (Austria,
Democratic Parties (Norway, Switzerland, the Swedish Left- Balkan Federation, Germany, Hungary, Russia, Scandinavia,
Socialist Party, the Balkan Revolutionary Socialist Federation Switzerland). This was to serve until the definitive constitu-
and an individual from the Socialist Labour Party of the tion which was left for the Second Congress to draw up and
United States); and three groupings, including the Left~­ adopt.
merwald Bureau (which was wound up and merged m The term "Communist" was adopted in place of the term
"Social-Democrat" previously used in the period of the had already adopted the new name "Russian Communist
Second International. This change had been advocated by party (Bolsheviks)". Lenin, in his speech at the Congress
Lenin after the collapse of the Second International, on advocating the change, declared that the name "Commwtist"
the grounds that this was the correct Marxist term which Man: was the only correct one to describe the aim :
and Engels always used to describe their position; Marx and "In starting on socialist changes, we must clearly set
Engels had explicitly condemned the term "Social-Democrat" before ow·selves the goal to which they are directed in
as scienti.ficall.v inaccurate, even though they had tolerated the final analysis, namely, the creation of a communist
it in the Second International; since 1914 the term had become society."
identified with the betrayal of socialism.
'We must call ourselves a Communist Pmty-just as 3. EXTENDING AFFILIATIONS TO THE CO:t.!MUNIST INTERNATIONAL
Marx and Engels called themselves. We must repeat that The formation of the Communist International aroused
we are Marxists and that we take as our basis the great enthusiasm and response in the working class and
Communist Manifesto, which has been perverted and socialist movement in all countries. The extent of this response
betrayed by the Social-Democrats.... proved the correctness of the decision to go ahead with the
"The term 'Social-Democracy' is scientifically incorrect, launching of the International, despite the initial limited basis,
· as Marx frequently pointed out in particular, in the in the confidence that its existence would prove a powerful
Critique of the Gotha Programme in 1875, and as Engels centre of attraction and stimulate the development with.in
reaffirmed in -a more popular form in 1894.... Demo- each country.
cracy is one of the forms of the state, whereas we Marxists This swing to join the Third International drew in its wake
are opposed to all and every kind of state .... Our new the majority of the leading parties of the old Second Inter-
state, now in process of being born, is no longer a state in national, apart from the British Labour Party, the German
the proper sense of the term, for in many parts of Russia Right-Wing Social Democrats, the Austrians, the Swedes, the
these detachments of armed men are the masses them- Belgians and the Dutch. In some cases, with the ebb of the
selves, the entire people.... revolutionary tide, or by right-wing manipulation of the party
"The majority of the 'Social-Democratic' leaders, of the machine, or through division over the principle of exclusion
'Social-Democratic' parliamentarians, of the 'Social- I of the old discredited right-wing or centrist leadership, deci-
Democratic' papers-and these are the organs for in- ·, sions of adhesion were subsequently reversed, and only
Huencing the masses-have deserted Socialism, have \ a minority remained as the Communist Party. During 1919
betrayed Socialism and have gone over to the side of decisions to join the Communist International were taken by
'their' national bourgeoisie. The masses have been con- a number of parties including the Italian Socialist Party; the
fused, led astray and deceived by these leaders. And are Norwegian Labour Party; the Swedish Left-Socialist Party;
we to aid and abet that deception by retaining the old the Swiss Socialist Party Conference (reversed by a
and antiquated Party name, which is as decayed as the referendum); the Hungarian Social-Democratic Party (which
Second International? . . . ' amalgamated with the Communists until the fall of the Soviet
"It is time to cast off the soiled shirt and don a clean regime); the British Socialist Party; the Bulgarian main Social
one." Democratic Party (the "Narrows"); the Greek Socialist Labour
(Lenin, The Tasks of the Proletariat in our Revolution, P~y; the Socialist Labour Party of Yugoslavia; the Inter-
19: "A Scientifically Sound Name for Our Party nati_on.al Socialist League of South Africa; the Japanese
that will Politically Help to Clarify Proletarian Soc_ial~st Party; the United States Socialist Party referendum
Class-Consciousness," April, 1917) ma1ortty (by ,3,475 to 1,444, but resisted by the leadership);
The Seventh Congress of the Bolshevik Party in March, 1918, and left sections of minorities in parties dominated by the
right wing. The Czech Social-Democratic Congress majority the French Socialist Party, in a talk with the present writer
in the summer of 1920 was for affiliation to the Communist in the summer of 1920, when he anticipated the .victory of the
International, but the Executive postponed the Congress to vote for the Third International at the coming Tours Congress
prevent the affiliation talcing place; and the Czech Communist in October) that the best thing to do was to let the tide How
Party, representing the majority of the old Czech Social- and the affiliation take place to satisfy the emotional aspira-
Democratic Party, had in consequence to be formed at a Con- tions of the membership, but that Moscow could not exercise
gress called independently. Various trade union organisations control from a distance, and that the practical working of the
declared for affiliation, including the Spanish General Con- party would go on as before. .
federation of Labour, the Italian Synicalist Union, and later Lenin and the Second Congress of the Communist Inter-
in 1921 the South Wales Miners' Federation. In the key cases national cut the Gordian knot of this problem by a unique
of France and Germany, the French Socialist Party decided and drastic method. At the same time as the Statutes of the
to join at its Tours Congress in December, 1920, by a majority Intemational were drawn up, and gave clear expression to the
of 3,208 to 1,082, and became the French Communist Party revolutiona1y aims, the practical obligations, and the basic
(the defeated minority carrying on as the "Socialist Party"); principles of international discipline and democratic central-
and the German Independent Socialist Party, founded under ism, of the new International, carrying forward the traditions
the leadership of Kautsky, Haase arid Ledebour in 1917, and of the First, there were adopted •at the same time the famous
with a membership of 850,000 in 1920, decided at its Halle Twenty-One "Conditions of Admission to the Communist
Congress in October, 1920, to join by a majority of 237 to International". This document, noting the flood of appli-
156, and united with the Communist Party to form the U.nited cations of parties and groups of mixed character and leader-
Communist Party of Germany. ship, moving from the bankrupt Second International and
seeking to join the new International, and remarking that "the
4. FROM THE SECOND TO THE FOURTH CONGRESS OF THE COM- Communist International is becoming, to some extent,
MUNIST INTERNATIONALE fashionable", focused attention on "the danger of dilution by
By the time of the Second Congress in July and August, unstable and irresolute elements which have not yet com-
1920, there were delegates from parties and organisations in pletely discarded the ideology of the Second International".
forty-one counb:ies, as well as consultative delegates from the This applied especially to some of the larger parties, where
French Socialists, German Independents and others. This there was a majority of the membership adhering to com-
rapid extension of support among a wide range of the old munism, but where there continued a reformist, social-pacifist
socialist parties, while it reflected the undoubted wave of or centrist wing still in8uentially placed in the leadership.
enthusiasm for the new Communist International, also pre- The fate of the Hungarian revolution had demonstrated the
sented problems. For these parties, at the same time as con- danger of this situation. Hence very precise conditions were
ference or referendum votes truly expressed the desire of the laid down obligatory on all parties desiring to become com-
rank and file to advance to the platform and policy of com- munist parties: the brealc with reformism, social-pacifism and
munism, were still the old social-democratic parties of the centrism, not only in words, but in practice, by the removal of
Second International, retaining in a number of leading cases all representatives of such trends from leading positions; strict
the old right-wing or centrist leadership. However strong the control of parliamentary groups and the party press to be
mass desire to advance to the basis of communism, the tradi- subordinate to the party; consistent activity in mass workers·
tion of unity, including the maintenance of an old existing o.rganisations; fulfilment of precisely defined practical revolu-
leadership, despite ideological differences, was also strong. tionary tasks in every sphere, including active support of the
Some of the key leaders of these parties even expressed the national-liberation movement; unconditional support of any
view in private conversation (so L. 0. Frossard, Secretary of Soviet republic against counter-revolutionary forces; demo-
cratic centralism and iron discipline in organisation. The Communist International is to liberate the working
declaration explicitly named "notorious opportunists, such as people of the entire world. In its ranks the white, the
Turati, Modigliani, Kautsky, Hilferding, Hilquit, Longuet, yellow, and the black-skinned peoples-the working
MacDonald, etc.", as ineligible "to appear as members of the people of the entire world-are fraternally united."
Communist International. That could only lead to the Com- The aim was proclaimed to establish "an international Soviet
munist International becoming in many respects similar to the republic as a transitional stage to the complete abolition of
Second International, which has gone to pieces". the State".
The response to these stringent conditions varied in the key The Second Congress was the most important initiating and
larger parties from Western and Central Europe which had creative Congress of the Communist International, in that it
entered or were proposing to enter the Communist Inter- laid down, not only the constitution and rules, but set out and
national. The French Socialist Party and the German Indepen- defined the basic theses, both of principle and of practical
dents accepted the conditions. The Itia.lian Socialist Party, policy, of communism on all the great questions, not only of
which had been one of the earliest to affiliate in March, 1919, the general international situation, but also in each sphere of
clung to its tradition of a united composite leadership includ- activity: parliamentarism; trade unionism and the factory; the
ing the right-wing Turati, and the Leghorn Congress in agrarian question; the national and colonial question; the role
January, 1921, rejected the conditions by a vote of 92,029 for of the communist party.
the centrist wing led by Serra.ti and 14,695 for the right wing, The Theses on the National and Colonial Question, which
against 54,785 for the Communists, who thereon formed a were drafted by Lenin, broke new ground in setting out the
separate Communist Party. The Norwegian Labour Party conception of the development of the international revolution
broke away in 1923 on the issue of refusal to accept inter- against world imperialism on the basis of the "close alliance"
national central direction. of the Soviet Republic and working class in the advanced
The Statutes of the Communist International adopted at the countries with the national-liberation movement of the
Second Congress cited the rules of the First International and oppressed peoples in all the subject countries of imperialism,
proclaimed the undertaking "to continue and to carry through and indicated the practical tasks of the communist parties to
to the end the great work begun by the First International support the revolutionary liberation movement in these coun-
Working Men's Association". In accordance with the declara- tries, at the same time as "rallying the constituent elements of
tion of the rules of the First International that "the emancipa- the future proletarian parties".
tion of the workers is not a local, not a national, but an inter- In pursuance of these principles there was held at Baku in
national problem", the Statutes of the new International the month following the Second Congress, in September, 1920,
sought to make a break with the loose and impotent federalism the first Congress of the Peoples of the East, attended by
of the Second International which had ended in· disaster, and 1,891 delegates, and setting up a Council of forty-seven
to return to the principle and methods of "a strongly central- members, representing twenty nationalities. A Communist
ised organisation" as in the First International. "The Com- University of Toilers of the East was set up in Moscow in
munist International must in fact and in deed be a single com- 1921. During these and the following years Communist Parties
munist party of the entire world." Similarly in contrast to the were formed in the leading Asian countries : in Indonesia in
Second International the new International must unite the 1920; in India, initially by emigres in Tashkent, in 1920 or
working people of the entire world without distinction of 1921 : in China in 1921, developing from previous groups since
colour or race : 1918; in Japan in 1921, carrying forward from the old pre-1914
"The Commtmist International breaks once and for all Socialist Party of Katayama, who continued on the Executive
with the traditions of the Second International, for whom of the Communist International; and in the subsequent years
in fact only white-skinned people existed. The task of the in Burma, Malaya, Indochina, Korea and other countries.
In the trade union field the Red International of Labour By the time of the Fourth Congress in November, 1922,
Unions was formed in July, 1921, and claimed to have the attended by delegations from sixty-two countries, Lenin was
affiliation of two fifths of world trade unionism in opposition to stricken in health, after his first stroke in May, 1922, and was
the reformist International Federation of Trade Unions recon- only by iron will and at the cost of exhaustion able to give
stituted at Amsterdam in 1919 under right-wing leadership. one Report on "Five Years of the Russian Revolution and
The Third Congress of the Communist International in July, Prospects of the World Revolution", This Report was the last
1921, met at a time when, as the resolution on the international public speech he was able to make to the international
situation recognised, the immediate post-war revolutionary working-class movement, and in every passage threw memor-
offensive had met with defeats outside the Soviet Union and able light on the perspective of the Russian and international
capitalism had succeeded to re-establish itself and was resum- situation. It was in the course of this Report that he laid his
ing the offensive. Hence the task became to concentrate on final main emphasis on the fulfilment of the Third Congress
the new tactical tasks appropriate to this situation, defensive resolution on the organisation of Communist Parties as the
struggles, partial demands, patient work in mass organisations key to the future success of the world revolution. Recognising
and immediate limited mass struggle, and the. organisation of the objection of "foreign comrades" that the resolution was
the newly formed communist parties to end the social-demo- "too Russian" and "unintelligible to foreigners", he suggested
cratic traditions of organisation and become capable of ful- in his accustomed profoundly ironic fashion that the Russian
filling their revolutionary tasks of mass leadership. "A number people were of course very backward, and still learning to read
of mass communist parties have been formed which, however, and write, and that the Western comrades were far more
nowhere yet possess the actual leadership of the majority of advanced and "need something higher", but that the example
the working class in real revolutionary struggle." The most im- of the Italian Fascisti (the Itallan fascist coup of Mussolini
portant Theses of the Third Congress were those on Tactics had just taken place in October, 1922} might yet "render us a
and on Organisation; there were also theses on work among great service" by revealing to the "enlightened" ·western
women, the cooperative movement, the young communist comrades that they still needed to learn the elementary prin-
movement and the Red International of Labour Unions. ciples and practice of revolutionary organisation. These last
The key slogan of the Third Congress was: ''To the Masses I" warning words of Lenin to the international working class,
It had become necessary to combat various left sectarian and with the immediate sensing of the significance of fascism as
adventurist trends, illustrated in the "theory of the offensive" the testing of the Western movement, threw a searchlight on
in Germany or anti-parliamentarism in Italy, or anarcho- the whole character of the epoch in front.
syndicalist tendencies in France and Britain and opposition to
working in reactionary trade unions. The Third Congress first 5. RESURREC"flON OF THE S"ECOND INTERNATIONAL
put forward the conception of the "united front", or limited As soon as the war was over the right-wing leaders of the
agreements for common action for immediate iaims. This line bankrupt Second International, who had joined up with their
was further developed in the Executive Directives on the respective imperialist masters, and had reviled one another as
United Front in December, 1921. the enemy and called on the workers to slaughter one another,
These first three Congresses of the Communist International now hastened to get together again on the basis of the
were the decisive formative Congresses for the formation of common platform of hostility to the socialist revolution.
the foundations of communist programme, policy and tactics, Th?r~ was. some initial difficulty in this resumption of
and the initial shaping and development of the newly formed association, smce the mutual accusations on the basis of ser-
commWlist parties on this basis. In all these three Congresses vility to thei: rival imperialist masters had been very violent,
Lenin played the most direct active part and drafted many ~d sore feelmgs remained. The right-wing leaders of the Bel-
of the key documents. gian Labour Party refused to participate in the initial Berne
Conference in 1919, on the ground that they could not meet Democracy. The parties associated with Zimmerwald, includ-
in a common conference with the German Social-Democrats. ing the official parties of Italy, Switzerland,· Serbia and
The American Federation of Labour took the same attitude. Rumania refused to attend a conference called by pro-war
Controversy over "war guilt" occupied a prominent place in representatives. Italy was only represented by the tiny
the earlier conferences. A solution was eventually found on reformist group of Bissolati and Bonomi, who had been
the basis of blaming everything on the vanished "old regime" expelled from the party already in ·1912 for supporting the
in Germany, •and regarding the abortive 1918 German predatory war of Italian imperialism in Tripoli. Poland was
revolution, in which the White Guard "Free Corps", armed by only represented by Pilsudski's Polish Socialist Party, and not
Social-Democracy, were slaughtering the militant w~rkers by the Polish Social-Democrats. Russia was "represented" by
and the most heroic leaders of the old Second International, Mensheviks and Right-Wing Socialist-Revolutionaries who
as having satisfactorily wiped the slate clean. Community of were allied with the White Guards, Tsarist officers and
hatred of communism covered a multitude of sins, and out- Westem imperialists in making war on the Russian socialist
weighed the differences of rival imperialist interests which the revolution. The same applied to the "representatives" of
various right-wing social-democratic leaderships in fact Estonia, Latvia, Armenia and Georgia. On this basis the
represented. claimed representation of twenty-six countries was much
The Berne Conference in February, 1919, was called by a narrower in practice. The main representation was in practice
Committee of right-wing social-democratic leaders (Hender- the British Labour Party and Germany, with the Dutch and
son, Vandervelde, Albert Thomas) appointed during the war Scandinavians, Austria and Spain, and temporarily France
by the "Inter-Allied Labour and Socialist Conference", (shortly to affiliate to the Communist International).
in March, 1918. This was a gathering of Entente Powers pro- The. first Congress of the resurrected Second International
war social-democratic representatives, and had no standing was held at Geneva in July and August, 1920, with seventeen
in relation to the old Second International. Thus the countries represented. By this time the French Socialist Party,
attempted resurrection of the Second International by right- the German Independents and the Spanish Socialist Party had
wing social-democracy after the war had no. claim to legiti- withdrawn. The two major parties were the British Labour
macy in relation to the old Second International, save that Party and the German Majority Social-Democratic Party. A
the old secretary Camille Huysmans, continued to function. resolution was drawn up on "The Political System of Social-
The Berne Conference was mainly called to meet parallel to ism", expressing the thesis of parliamentary democracy versus
the Versailles Peace Conference and present demands on dictatorship. Another resolution on "Socialisation" still
behalf of the organised labour movement with regard to the expressed the paper aim of "ownership and control by the
proposed League of Nations, t~rr~torial questions and an Int~r­ community of all the industries and services essential for the
national Labour Charter. Invitations were sent both to social- satisfaction of the people's needs"; the formal aim of socialism
ist and to trade union organisations. In the case of Britain had not yet been explicitly abandoned, as was to happen later.
this was interpreted to mean the Labour Party and the Trades The headquarters was transferred to London, where the
Union Congress to have the monopoly of representation, and secretariat could be run under the practical control of the
to exclude the socialist parties (British Socialist Party, Labour Party.
Independent Labour Party, F abian Society) which had been
1 Thus the· international working-class movement was pre-
directlv affiliated to the old Second International from the sented with the confrontation of two opposing international
early days before the Labour Party was affilia~ed, also after the organisations in place of the previous Second International:
Labour Party had been admitted in 1908/fhe Belgian Md the Communist International, carrying forward the com-
American Federation of Labour rejected the invitation, as munist teachings of Marx and Engels and the First Inter-
explained, on the grounds of hostility to German Social- national in the era of the world socialist revolution; and the
right-wing social-democratic International, which claimed to 7. UNITED FRONT AND REJECTION OF THE UNITED FRONT
represent-a resurrection of the Second International. The bankruptcy of the pre-war Second Intetnational had
made necessary the foundation of the new Communist Inter-
6. THE "TWO-AND-A-HALF" INTERNATIONAL national, purged of opportunism, as Engels had predicted
During this initial phase a number of parties were still un- would arise from the outcome of the prospective European
decided, or sought to pursue a centrist line and to reconcile war. But the indispensable break with opportunism was made
the opposing principles and Internationals. A Conference of with the aim, not to divide the working class, but to open
parties and groups representing this standpoint was held at the road for the unity of the working class on the basis of
Vienna in February, 1921, and formed the '1nternational common class interests, without the disruptive role of the
Working Union of Socialist Parties", which during its short spokesmen and allies of capitalism within the labour move-
existen<!e came to be generally known as the "Vienna Union" ment.
or "Two-and-a-Half International''. The main participants As soon as the immediate post-war revolutionary upsurge
were the Independent Labour Party from Britain; the French had ended in defeat in Western and Central Europe, mainly
minority after the adhesion of the French Socialist Party to the because the grip of the old social-democratic leadership on
Communist International; the minority from the Gennan the machine of the organised labour movement was still suffi-
Independents after the adhesion of the latter to the Com- ciently strong to disorganise and paralyse every militant
munist International; the Austrian Social-Democrats who had offensive of the workers, it was clear that a dangerous situation
been the traditional representatives of the so-called "Austro- was developing of capitalist restoration and defensive
Marxism" or centrism (right-wing social-democracy under a struggles, in which the working class was in fact divided be-
cover of highly elaborate Marxist phrases); the Czech Social- tween reformist and revolutionary leadership. Therefore the
Democrats, after the withdrawal of the communist majority; urgent need became to find the means, even while the
the Hungarian Social-Democrats after breaking the union differences of principle and organisation remained, to make
with the Communist Party; and the Russian Menshevik and possible the common united action of the working class in the
Right-Wing Socialist-Revolutionaries. The Vienna Union immediate struggle recognised by all sections of the working
passed a resolution which sought to reconcile capitalist demo- class, irrespective of ultimate outlook or division of organi-
cracy and working-class dictatorship, parliament and soviets, sation.
in an all-inclusive synthesis, and called for an all-inclusive This was the conception of the United Front. The Com-
Intematioual with simultaneous autonomy and independence munist International at its Third Congress in July, 1921, was
for each national section and binding decisions to be accepted the first to sense this need and take the initiative in putting
voluntarily by all national sections. forward this aim. The conception and method of fulfilment
The Vienna Union, which disclaimed the intention of being was further developed in the Executive statement on the
a separate International, was included in the Conference of United Front in December, 1921, and the joint manifesto
the three Internationals in 1922, following the initfative of "For the United Working Class Front!" addressed to the
the Communist International for negotiations for a united "workers of all countries" by the Communist International and
front. After the failure of these negotiations, the Vienna Union Red International of Labour Unions in January, 1922.
passed out of the picture, and merged with the right-wi~g In addition to encouraging the a:im of united front agree-
social-democratic International at the Hamburg Congress m ments and action within each country, the Communist Inter-
May, 1923, to form the "Labour and Socialist International", national made direct approaches to the other Internationals
with the headquarters continuing in London. for joint action in relation to urgent current issues, against the
whi~e terror and persecution of workers in Spain and Yugo-
slaVIa, for Russian famine relief, and, in relation to the open-
ing of the Washington Conference, for unity against the The contrast between the two sets of proposals is revealing.
menace of a new imperialist war. These approaches did not The Communist representatives not unnatura~ly replied in
obtain any response. However, following this, the Vienna the face of this onslaught (the opening statement of the Com-
Union proposed a joint conference of the three Internationals. munists had been presented in the most restrained form with
The Conference of the Executives of the three Inter- no word of polemical attack against Social-Democracy) that
nationals met in the Reichstag in Berlin during April, 1922. this zeal of the Second International for "self-determination"
The representation included many of the leading figures of in the case of Georgia, Armenia and the Ukraine against the
the international communist and social-democratic move- Soviet regime had never been expressE'.d on their behalf
ment. The delegation of the Communist International was led against their subjection to Tsarist rule, nor did this zeal for
by Klara Zetkin, and included Radek, Bucharin, Frossard, "self-determination" make any reference to India, Egypt or
Smeral and Katayama. The delegation of the Second Inter- the Congo; and that similarly the zeal for the release of
national was led by Vandervelde, and included Ramsay Mac- political prisoners did not apparently extend to the thousands
Donald, Wels, Ernest Bevin, De Man and Camille Huysmans. of Communist prisoners held in jail in Germany by Social-
The delegation of the Vienna Union was led by Friedrich Democracy. But the Communists reiterated their view that
Adler, and included Longuet, Bauer, Grimm and Martov. an International Labour Conference, to be of value, should be
The Communist representatives opened the proceedings by devoted, not to recrimination, but to united working-class
presenting their proposals for the convocation of an Inter- action against capitalism :
national Labour Conference to consider "We propose a Conference for action : a Conference
1) defence against the capitalist offensive; to decide what is to be done at this moment when capital
2) struggle against reaction; is gathering together, not to reconstruct the world, but to
3) preparation of the fight against new imperialist wars; plunder the whole world. What are we to do about un-
4) assistance in the reconstruction of the Russian Soviet f'mployment? What are we to do about the wave of
Republic; capitalist lock-outs? That is our programme. Do you want
5) the Treaty of Versailles and the reconstruction of the to discuss it? We are ready for discussion."
devastated regions. This approach did not please the representatives of the
The representatives of the Second International replied by Second International, who insisted on their anti-Soviet
objecting to the raising of the question of the Treaty ultimatum demands as the price for agreeing to any Inter-
of Versailles as a proposal reflecting the interests of the national Conference. The Communist delegation finally
capitalist Stinnes; proceeded to a denunciation of "Bolshevik
agreed to some of these extortionate demands (Commission
imperialism"; and demanded, as a prior condition for agreeing
on Georgia; no death sentences for the forty-seven S.R.s, and
to any conference, the fulfilment of a series of ultimatum de-
mands for intervention in the internal aHairs of the Soviet right to choose their own defenders, with attendance of repre-
sentatives of the three Executives at the trial), which it
Union, including:
l} a Commission on Georgia, Armenia, the Ukraine and accepted, as was made plain in a written decl:aration, 'because
other states in the Soviet Federation, and their of its desire to further, and not to obstruct, the slightest
right of self-determination; advance in the direction of the united front". On the basis
2) release of political prisoners in Soviet Russia; of this concession from the Communist delegation agreement
3) the forty-seven Socialist-Revolutionaries under trial was reached in principle to convene an International Labour
for terrorism and armed insurrection against the Conference at an unspecified date "as soon as possible", and to
Soviet revolution to be given "rights of defence, call for mass working-class demonstrations in April or on May
under the control of International Socialism". Day.
1) for the eight-hour day; Court; and the death sentences were not carried out on them.
2) for the struggle against unemployment; Lenin's own view at this date on the necessity•of the death
3) for united action of the working class against the sentence for political fomenters of disorganisation or counter-
capitalist offensive; revolution in a critical phase had been expressed when he
4) for the Russian revolution, for starving Russia, for reported to the Eleventh Congress of the Russian Communist
the resumption by all countries of political and Party in March 1922, and described the indispensable import-
economic relations with Russia; ance of stem dicipline during the retreat (the retreat to which
5) for the re-establishment of the working-class front in he referred being the phase of Nep or the New Economic
every country and in the International. Policy):
A Commission of Nine was set up from the three Executives to "When a real army is in retreat, machine guns are
prepare the International Conference. placed in the rear; and when an orderly retreat degener-
Lenin sharply criticised the concessions made by the Com- ates into a disorderly one, the command is given : 'Fire I'
munist delegation as unjustified : And quite right....
"In my opinion our representatives were wrong in "When a. Menshevik says : 'You are now retreating; I
agreeing to the following two written conditions : first, have been m favour of retreating all the time. I agree
that the Soviet Government does not apply the death ~th you, ~ am your ma~, let us retreat together; we say
penalty in the case of the forty-seven Socialist-Revolu- m reply : For the public advocacy of Menshevism our
tionaries; second, that the Soviet Government permits revolutionary courts must pass sentence of death, other-
representatives of the three Internationals to be present wise they are not our courts, but God knows what.'
at the trials. 'They cannot understand this and exclaim : 'What
"These two conditions are neither more nor less than a dictatorial manners these people have I '. . . But had we
political concession on the part of the revolutionary pro- listened to what they said we should have been unable to
letariat to the reactionary bourgeoisie. If anyone has any hold power for two months."
doubt of the correctness of this definition then, in order (Lenin, Political Report to the Eleventh Congress of
to remove the political hesitation of such a person it is the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) March
sufficient to present the following questions : would the 27, 1922}
British or any other modern government permit repre- Th~ fate. of Liebkn~cht and R~sa Luxemburg (who from the
sentatives of the three Internationals to attend a trial of most idealist revolutionary motives had mistakenly criticised
Irish workers charged with rebellion? Or the trial of the the "dictatorial" and "authoritarian" character of Lenin's con-
workers implicated in the recent rebellion j.n South ception of the party and of the working-class dictatorship and
Africa? Would the British or any other government, in had advocated more "libertarian" forms), as well as the fate of
such, or similar circumstances, agree to promise that they the Hung~ian revol~tion, and subsequently the experience of
will not apply the death penalty to its political the Sparush revolution and a hundred similar experiences
opponents?" have ~?undantly .proved the justice of Lenin's stem judge-
(Lenin, We Have Paid too Much, April 9, 1922. ment. Had we listened to what they said, we should have
See Vol. X, p. 301, Selected Works) been unable to hold power for two months."
But Lenin insisted thiat the concessions, once made and The outcom~ of the meeting of the representatives of the
signed by the delegation on their behalf, must be scrupul- tluee lnt~mationals proved the justice of Lenin's criticism.
ously fulfilled. Vandervelde was allowed to appear for the The protnis~d.return f?r the concessions was never carried out.
defence of the Socialist-Revolutionary leaders, though he de- The Comrruss1on of Nme met in May, 1922, but broke up with-
parted after he had found that he could not influence the out result. The declaration of the Second International justify-

ing the breakdown made clear their opposition in principle to

a united conference :
"The Second International cannot participate in any
undertaking which would deceive the proletariat with
a mere appearance of unity, while in reality the unity is
only deception and a tactical manoeuvre, ..• The present
position forces the Second Intemati?nal t? ~mphasise 8;S
emphatically as possible the purely rmp:nahst an~ cap1.-
tilist attitude of the Soviet Government m Genoa. CHAPTER VII
Similarly MacDonald condemned "the ill-ju~ged attempt to
bring socialists and communists together without any pre-
liminary effort to pave the way for the success of the project": CAPITALIST STABILISATION AND
"So far from praising the promoters of such a crude THE PROSPECT OF ·woRLD SOCIALISM
project, they ought to be censured."
(J. Ramsay MacDonald, "The International
Conference", Daily Herald, June 17, 1922) "Genuine revolutionaries will perish (not that they will
The united front was thus rejected by Social-Democracy. be defeated from outside, but that their internal affairs
The grave consequences were to make themselves felt in the will collapse) only if-and they certainly will, if they do
subsequent years, as the way was opened for the advance of -they lose their sobriety of outlook and take it into their
fascism. heads that 'the great, victorious, world revolution' can
and must solve all problems in a revolutionary
manner under all circumstances and in all spheres of
LENIN, The Impo1·tance of Gold Now and Afte1· the
Complete Victory of Socialism, November, 1921.

In contrast to the utopian socialists, or to some of the enemy

caricatures of supposedly "Marxist" revolutionary socialism,
Marxism has always taught that the world socialist revolution
can be no dream of a millenium or sudden conquest
of power by the international working class, but can only con-
stitute a prolonged and complex epoch, with many ups and
downs, extending over many decades.
As far back as 1851 Marx wrote :
"We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through
fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international
wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but
also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for
the exercise of political power.'"
(M1arx, Revelations on the Communist Trial at
Cologne, 1851)
Similarly Lenin wrote : for decades, if need be, while the tide is low, with inextin-
"The transition from capitalism to socialism occupies guishable confidence in the future victory, .and with the
an entire historical epoch." ability to arouse that same confidence among those with
(Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution, 1918) whom he works.
And again: .
"The socialist revolution cannot take place m any other 1. EBB OF THE REVOLUTIONARY TIDE·
form than that of an epoch, uniting the civil war of the By 1923 the successful maintenance or restoration of
proletiariat against the bourgeoisie in the advanced. coun- capitalist rule in Western and Central Europe had been com-
tries with a whole series of democratic and revolutionary pleted, and the revolutionary wave after the First World War
movements, including movements for national liberation, bad ended in defeat outside the Soviet Union. In Britain Black
in the undeveloped, backward and oppressed nations. Friday in April, 1921, had marked the turning point, with the
Why' is this? Because capitalism develops unevenly." collapse of the Triple Alliance and the full onslaught of the
(Lenin, On a Caricature of Marxism and ImperiaUst capitalist offensive; and by 1922 the Coalition Government of
Economism, 1916) Lloyd George had given place to the first purely Conservative
This uneven development of the world socialist revolution, Government since the earliest years of the century. In Ger-
with zig-zags, with ups and downs, with variations in the many in the summer of 1923 a renewed revolutionary situation
tempo, as well as in the conditions in different countries, had Hared up with the French occupation of the Ruhr and the
brings corresponding problems for the international working- inflation crisis; but at that time the leadership of the still
class movement. As the fust tumultuous revolutionary upsurge recently formed Communist Party was not able to respond
of 1917-1920 began to subside, and give place to victories of to the possibilities.
the imperialist old order outsjde the Soviet Union, the Third This ebb in the revolutionary tide did not mean that the
and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International general crisis of capitalism was solved, or that the revolu-
in 1921 and 1922 were increasingly occupied, as indioated in tionary ferment did not continue to be manifested in major
the proposal for the united front already described, with the struggles or uprisings at one point or another during the fol-
consequent problems for the working-class movement. A fight lowing years. In Britain the working-class militancy which
had to be conducted, not only against opportunism and had been betrayed on Black FridQy in 1921, won the engage-
centrism, but also against ultra-left would-be "revolutionary" ment of Red Friday in 1925, leading on to the general strike
trends which could only isolate, disrupt and destroy the van- in 1926, culminating in a renewed betrayal on a larger scale
guard. Lenin wrote his Left-Wing Communism, An Infantile and a consequent heavy depression of the movement. 1927
Disorder in 1920. The task of the newly formed com- saw the Vienna rising and the Indonesian revolt. 1925 to 1927
munist parties, it was again emphasised at these congresses, were the years of the sweeping advance of the Chinese
was to win the majority of the working class, and to develop national. revolution up to the .betrayal by the Kuomintang
their entire organisation and structure and methods of work leadership represented by Chiang Kai Shek and the con· t
to become capable of fulfilling the requirements of mass sequent transition to a new stage. The Meerut trial of 1928
leadership, both in the immediate daily struggle, and for the revealed the advance of the Indian working class, followed
future advance to the conquest of political power. Again and by the mass national movement of civil disobedience of 1930-
again it was emphasised at the.se congresses that the true com- 1932.
munist is not he who only swims with the stream when it is But what did follow the defeat of the working·class revolt
rising to a high point, but the serious revolutionary who is in Western and Central Europe by 1923 was a measure of
capable of consistently carrying forward the daily, slogging, economic restor~tion and stabilisation of capitalism, mainly
seemingly unrewarding tasks of the movement for years, and based on the direct economic-political intervention of the
wealthier and more powerful United States capitalism in tion from war communism to the New Economic Policy. The
Europe, through the Dawes Plan to regulate the German regime of war communism had been imposed by necessity,
economy with the aid of massive dollar credits. This operation and had no place in the original plans of the Bolsheviks for the
was accomplished through the agency of the MacDonald path of advance to reconstruction and socialism (outlined in
Labour Government in Britain and the Herriot Radical Lenin's address of April 29, 1918, in "The Immediate Tasks
Government in France. The success of this operation was fol- of the Soviet Power"), which had contemplated a step-by-step
lowed by the temporary return of Britain, now agmn under transition following the establishment of working-class power
Conservative rule, to the gold standard in 1925, and the in alliance with the peasantry. The hardships of the years of
Locarno Treaties in the same year combining Britain, France, war communism, shortage, rationing and the requisitioning of
Belgium, Germany and Italy in a West European alliance, the peasants' surplus gave rise to wide discontent among the
with the point obviously directed iagainst the Soviet Union. backward sections, especially •among the peasantry. So long
The Fifth Congress of the Communist International in 1924 as the menace of the restoration of the landlords by the White
analysed the character of this relative stabilisation of capital- Guards and the Entente was imminent, the alliance of the
ism, and its political expression in some cases through social- working class and peasantry held firm to defeat it. Once this
democratic or radical-bourgeois governments, and in other menace had been thrust back, the growth of discontent
cases through methods of fiascism and suppression of the could endanger the alliance. The Kronstadt rising in March,
militant working class. The meeting of the Enlarged Execu- 1921, spotlighted the danger. This rising was not of the famous
tive in March and April, 1925, characterised the stabilisation revolutionary sailors of Kronstadt, who had already either
as "partial, relative and temporary". given their lives or transferred to other fronts of the revolu-
tionary battle, but of new politically inexperienced recruits
2. THE SOVIET UNION AND THE ADVANCE TO SOCIAIJSM from the peasantry. The slogan sr,read among them by the
This period of setback of the international working-class counter-revolutionary agents was' Soviets Without the Com-
movement also involved problems for the development of the munist Party", thus revealing that support for Soviet power
Soviet revolution. The prolonged years of imperialist war, was too strongly entrenched among the masses to be directly
interventionist wars and civil wars had left a devastated challenged, and that the method had to be chosen of trying
economy. By 1920 the output of large-scale industry was to undermine it by robbing it of its vanguard, the dynamo
barely one seventh of pre-war. If the working-class revolution which alone could maintain it and make it effective, the
had conquered also in an advanced industrial country like Communist Party. In the same way the Hungarian counter-
Germany, the tasks of reconstruction would have been by revolutionary attempt in 1956 at fust spoke only of the "re-
comparison easier. But, as Lenin insisted from the outset, form of communism", withdrawal from the socialist camp, and
already most notably in the controversy against Trotsky over the like, and only later began to reveal openly its fascist aims.
the Brest Treaty, reality had to be faced, however distasteful, Lenin and the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist
and the future of the Russian revolution could not be staked Party in March, 1921, were quick to respond to the emer-
on assuming the date of the European revolution. In face of gency. At the same time as the Red Army, including delegates
the delay of the working-class revolution in the rest of Europe, from the Tenth Congress who hastened straight to the field of
the path of reconstruction and of the advance to socialism battle, stormed the reputed impregnable Kronstadt fortress
would have to be found also in the conditions of the and crushed the rising, the Tenth Congress adopted the New
devastated Russian economy, with limited resources, and sur- ~conomic Policy. The New Economic Policy, or Nep as
rounded by a hostile capitalist world. at came to be called, replaced the requisitioning of the pea-
Before his death Lenin was able to give guidance on the sants' surplus by the agricultural tax in kind, leaving them
path forward in these conditions. The flrst step was the transi- free to sell the remainder in the open market. The free market
of commodity relations, also for small traders and artisans, or of the free market and eventually challenging the proletarian
small-scale capitalism was thus restored at the lower levels, state. But they saw Nep as a necessary stage of·reconstruction,
but with the commanding heights of major industry, banking permitting the first recovery of the economy from war-time
and the monopoly of foreign trade remaining in the hands of devastation, and involving at the same time continuous
the workers' state. At the same time the Soviet Government struggle between the socialist and capitalist elements. In this
offered the lease of enterprises as concessions to foreign struggle the working class held the decisive levers of power
capitalists, provided the Soviet labour code was observed. At through its control of the state and through its ownership of
the Genoa Conference in 1922 the Soviet Government offered the main means of production, the land, the larger industrial
to negotiate on the question of repayment of pre-war debts enterprises, the banks and the monopoly of foreign trade. On
and compensation to expropriated foreign capitalists, and this basis the working class would be able to lead the way in
even to withdraw counter-claims for compensation for damage building large-scale industry and developing electrification.
through the interventionist wars, if large-scale credits were This in tum would prepare the conditions for the transition to
agreed and aid in industrial reconstruction. These offers were large-scale cooperative agriculture in place of the domination
not taken up by the Western capitalists, who preferred to see of the kulak. Along this road would be achieved the successful
the workers state having to struggle to develop industry from advance of backward Russia to socialism, despite the delay of
its own devastated resources and backward conditions with no the revolution in the West.
outside aid and no treasurehouse of primary accumulation Such was the vision set out by Lenin in the last years of his
(like the colonial plunder of Asia and Africa, on the basis of life. Already before the 1917 revolution he had indicated (in
which the Western capitalist industrial revolution was carried his article on The United States of Europe Slogan in 1915)
through). that, in consequence of the uneven development of capitalism,
Nep was, as Lenin said, a "retreat". But it was a controlled "the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in
retreat in order to advance. Needless to say, the entire capital- one capitalist country", and that "the victorious proletariat of
ist world and all the spokesmen of social-democracy joyfully that country" would "expropriate the capitalists and organise
proclaimed the bankruptcy of socialism and the return to its own socialist production", and on this basis, having
capitalism. successfully established its own socialist production, would
"It is a capitalist economy that we see rising again; a confront the capitalist world, "afuacting to ,its cause the
capitalist economy ruled by the new bourgeoisie, which oppressed classes of other countries".
supports itself upon the millions of peasant economy." By 1922, at the Eleventh Congress in April, Lenin declared
(Otto Bauer, The New Course in Soviet Russia, that the retreat had ended and the time had opened for the
Vienna, 1921) offensive against the capitalist elements and the mastering of
All the customary denunciations were uttered by super- all the tasks of building large-scale industry and the state
revolutionaries in the Western capitalist world, castigating organisation of tr.ade as the next phase in the advance to social~
Lenin and the leadership of the Russian Communist Party ism. In his final speeches and article he concentrated on this
for_their "surrender to c.:apitalism", "surrender to j.mperialism"', theme. In November, 1922, in his last public speech, before
or "the purely imperialist and capitalist attitude of the Soviet the Moscow Soviet, he said :
Government at Genoa" (Declaration. of the Second Inter- "We have brought socialism into everyday life. Nep
national in May, 1922, justifying their refusal of the united Russia will become Socialist Russia."
front). Similarly in one of his last articles, On Cooperation, in the
Lenin and the Communist Party were well aware of the beginning of 1923, he wrote that with "the power of the state
danger of the small capitalist elements released by Nep, over all large-scale means of production, the power of the state
especially the kulaks in the countryside, growing on the basis in the hands of the proletariat, the alliance of the proletariat
with the many millions of small and not very small peasants", what the final outcome of the world struggle will be. In
and with the role of the cooperatives in the new phase, they this sense, the complete victory of sociallim is fully and
had "all that is necessary in order to build complete socialist absolutely assured."
society". (Lenin, Bef:ter Fewe1', But Bef:ter, March 1923)
This vision of Lenin is fulfilled today in the mighty Socialist Thus in Lenin's view the perspective of the future advance
Soviet Union, already the first industrial power in Europe and of the Soviet Union and the world socialist revolution did not
the second in the world, and with the near prospect approach- depend on the pri01· development of the working-class revolu-
ing of outstripping also the United States. A far cry from the tion in Western Europe. The victory of the working-class
ruined backward Russia of 1920, when all the fainthearts like socialist revolution in Russia in 1917 was accelerating revolu-
the Western socialistic novelist H. G. Wells could see only tionary development in the most vulnerable regions of im-
devastation and hopelessness, and Lenin's piercing vision perialism, in China, India and other countries oppressed by
could with con£dence see the future. imperialism, and thereby, alongside the key factor of the con-
Could the Soviet Union survive and successfully build structfon of socialism in the Soviet Union, changing the
socialism if the delay of the working-class revolution in balance of forces in the world, undermining the foundations of
Western Europe were to continue? Lenin examined this ques- the imperialist economic and political systems in the countries
tion in the last article that he wrote, in March, 1923, and gave of Western Europe, with their reflection in the temporary
his answer: dominance of reformism, and so preparing the conditions for
"Shall we be able to hold on . . . while the West the advance to socialism also in all Western countries. This
European capitalist countries are consummating their de- perspective carried forward the similar perspective already
velopment to socialism? But they are consummating it not indicated by Marx subsequent to 1850, and exposes the cari-
as we formerly expected. They are not consummating it cature presented by cun-ent capitalist and social democratic
by the gradual 'maturing' of socialism, but by the exploita- theorists as the supposed theme of "classical Marxism".
tion of some countries by others, by the exploitation of the
first of the countries to be vanquished in the imperialist 3. THE DEFEAT OF TROTSKYISM

war, combined with the exploitation of the whole of the Nevertheless, there was also in some circles of the Russian
East. On the other hand, precisely as a result of the first Communist Party a defeatist trend, a small minority group
imperialist war, the East has been definitely drawn into of misceltaneous opposition elements gathered around Trot-
the revolutionary movement, has been definitely drawn sky, who echoed the Western capitalist and social-democratic
into the general maelstrom of the world revolutionary scepticism about the possibility of building socialism in
Russia, and who declared that this programme could not be
fulfilled unless the working class won power in the advanced
It was in the conteA.1: of this analysis of the world situation,
countries of Western Europe.
including the situation in Western Europe, that he made his
Trotsky was a brilliant orator and writer, a dynamically
famous prediction : energetic mass agitator and leader and ruthless administrator;
"In the last analysis, the upshot of the struggle will but in the political sphere wildly erratic, with a bigger bag of
be determined by the fact that Russia, India, China, etc., bumptious over-confident .assertions and predictions all his life
account for the overwhelming majority of the population completely falsified by history than ahnost any other political
of the globe. And it is precisely this majority that during leader, and with a venomous, almost pathological hatred of the
the past few years has been drawn into the struggle for basic principles of Lenin and Bolshevism, and the Communist
emancipation with extraordmary rapidity, so that in this Party, resulting in a long record of slander and disruption.
respect there cannot be the slightest shadow of doubt Before the revolution Trotsky fought Lenin continuously
during a long period of years over the basic questions of the of the Communist Party as comparable to that of the leaders
Russian revolution, and especially over Lenin's conception of of the old Second International. All this belongs to the history
the party. "The whole structure of Leninism," he wrote in of the Russian Communist Party, but had its international
1913, "is built up on lies and distortions, and contains the bearing as affecting the vanguard of the socialist revolution.
poisonous seed of its own decay" (Trotsky, letter to the Men- The issue was brought before the Communist International,
shevik leader, Chkheidse, April, 1913). He found the outlook and the Fifth Congre~s in 1924 condemned the line of Trotsky
of Lenin an "evil-minded and morally repugnant" one, which and his groups as a petty-bourgeois deviation threatening the
"must be liquidated at the present moment at all costs, other- unity of the party and therefore threatening the rule of the
wise the party is threatened by moral and theoretical decay" working class in the Soviet U Dion.
(Trotsky, Our Political Tasks, 1906). Lenin in 1911 wrote of After Lenin's death the offensive of Trotsky and his
"Judas Trotsky"; described "men like Trotsky with hjs inflated associates was developed on a major scale against the basic
phrases" as "the disease of our age"; found him "shameless and programme championed by Lenin before his death, accepted
unprincipled" (The New Faction of Conciliators or the Virtu- by the party, and championed by Stalin as spokesman of the
ous, October, 1911) and in 1915 exposed ''the inBated phrase- party after the death of Lenin: the conception of the possi-
ology with which Trotsky always justifies opportunism". bility of buildmg socialism in the Soviet Union, despite the
(Defeat of "Ottr" Government in the Imperialist War, July, delay of the working-class revolution j.n the West. The plat-
1915). It was not until the end of July, 1917, that Trotsky form of Trotsky condemned the conception of "socialism in
joined the Bolshevik Party, when his tiny group had no mass one country" and falsely counterposed it to the world socialist
support. He was able to play an outstanding positive role in revolution, presenting these as two supposedly contradictory
the Russian Socialist revolution during the initial years alternatives between which a choice must be made. The
under the guidance of Lenin and the party. But even during Russian socialist revolution was supposed to be doomed unless
these years he was repeatedly in conflict with Len.in on crucial the working class won power in Western Europe. This was
issues, as over the Brest Treaty in 1918, when bis bloc with the in fact a continuance of the previous fight against Lenin over
"Left Communists" (Bucharin, Radek and others) to defeat the Brest Treaty. As the battle developed, Trotsky was able to
Lenin and prevent signature brought heavy losses to the draw into association with him over this issue Zinoviev and
revolution, and later over the trade union question. In 1921 Kamenev, the two waverers who had deserted on the eve of
his fight against Lenin for dictatorial anti-democratic methods the Bolshevik revolution to divulge the plan of the insurrec-
in the blade unions, presented as a public opposition platform tion to the enemy press, and whose expulsion Lenin had at
against Lenin's viewpoint, was accompanied, in the discussion that time consequently demanded. The controversy over the
preceding the Tenth Congress, by parallel opposition plat- future of the socialist revolution became a key international
forms of the "Workers' Opposition" (anarcho-syndicalist) and issue.
"Democratic Centralism" (for the right of factions inside the Trotsky had already in the first decade of the twentieth
party). This situation led Lenin to move the resolution, century made clear his standpoint in opposition to that
adopted by the Tenth Congress in 1921, to ban henceforth of Lenin on the future of the Russian revolution. Echoing, as
"all groups formed on the basis of a particular platform" on in all his main conceptions beneath the cover of ultra-revohi-
pain of "unconditional and immediate expulsion' . During the tionary phrases, the outlook of West European Social-
last year of Lenin's incapacitation through illness, Trotsky Democracy and Menshevism, with its contempt for the back-
intensified his disruptive factional campaign, with his "Plat- ~~dness of Russia and consequent scepticism of the possi-
form of the Forty Six" in October, 1923, circulated in defiance bility of a socialist revolution succeeding in Russfa without
of the ban on factions, and published writings describing the the aid of the "advanced" West (not the outlook of Marx who
alleged opportunist degeneration of the Old Bolshevik leaders before his death recognised that the vanguard of revoiution
had passed to Russia), he presented his theory in the name of a and the Soviet Communist Party : to build socialism in the
formula borrowed from Marx, "permanent revolution", but first base of the victorious working-class revolution, in spite of
with a complete caricature of what Marx meant by this the delay of the working-class revolution in Western Europe;
formula. In opposition to Lenin's theory of the democratic and through this triumphant construction of socialism to
dictatorship of the working class and peasantry, representing influence and stimulate the advance of the West European
the majority of the people, he counterposed to Tsarism as the working class and the international revolution, as well as to
direct alternative a Workers' Government, which after the create an impregnable fortress of the international socialist
defeat of Tsarism and the bourgeoisie with the aid of the pea- revolution. It was in this latest phase after Nep that Lenin
santry would inevitably next come into conflict with the wrote:
peasantry as a reactionary mass, and would in consequence be "Now we are exerting our influence on the
doomed to isolation and defeat unless the victory of the work- international revolution mainly by our economic policy.
ing-class revolution in Western Europe would come to the . . . The struggle has been transferred to this sphere on
rescue: a world scale. If we fulfil this task, we shall have won on
'1n the absence of direct State support on the part of the an international scale for certain and for all time."
European proletariat, the Russian working class will not (Lenin, Speech to the Tenth Conference of the
be able to keep itseH in power and to transform its tem- Russian Commttnist Party, May 28, 1921)
porary rule into a stable socialist dictatorship. There js no Already in 1920, when introducing the electri£cation pro-
doubt about that." gramme, Lenin had said :
(Trotsky, Our Revolution, 1906) "H Russia becomes covered by dense network of
In 1922 he repeated the same thesis : electric power stations and powerful technical installa-
"A steady rise in socialist economy in Russia will not tions, our communist economic development will become
be possible until after the victory of the proletariat in the a model for the future socialist Europe and Asia."
leading countries of Europe." (Lenin, Report to the Eighth Congress of Soviets,
(Trotsky, Epilogue to Programme of Peace, 1922) December 22, 1920)
To the careless non-Marxist reader this advocacy of the So far from the "state support on the part of the European
"world socialist revolution" or a West European socialist re- proletariat" coming to the rescue of the otherwise doomed
volution as the alternative to the "narrow" "nationalist" Russian revolution, as laid down by Trotsky to be the only
"philistine" conception of "socialism in one country" might path to salvation, it was the socialist power of the Soviet Union
appear highly daring, "advanced", "revolutionary" and the which had to come to the rescue of the West European work-
true voice of what Fleet Street loves to call "classical ing class crushed under the heel of fascism in consequence
Marxism". In fact it was the expression of defeatism; of having followed social-democratic leadership.
of lack of confidence in the powers of the Russian revolution; The defeatist opposition programme of Trotsky and of
of black pessimism and hopelessness with regard to the Zinoviev and Kamenev was rejected by the Soviet Communist
prospect of the Russian revolution unless what Lenin Party and condemned by the Communist International. The
ironically called the "fairy tale" with regard to the im- last manifestation of the Trotsky-Zinoviev opposition bloc
mediate situation in Western Europe were to come within the party was the "Platform of the Eighty Three" in
miraculously true; unless, that is, the guardian angel of the 1927, which violated the ban on group platforms or fractions
victorious West European working class establishing the and led to their expulsion from the Central Committee. The
dictatorship of the proletariat in advanced Western Europe voting throughout the party organisations showed 724,000 for
were to come to the rescue. The really audacious, creative, the line of the Central Committee against 4,000 for the
revolutionary policy and perspective was that of Lenin, Stalin Trotsky-Zinov.iev opposition bloc. Defeated within the party,
the Trotskyist faction, led by Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev, employers. Ultra-revolutionary phrases to cover an anti-Soviet
attempted on the tenth anniversary of the socialist revolution and anti-communist content became the hallmark of Trotsky·
to call directly on the masses in the streets with speeches and ism during the middle decades of the twentieth century.
hostile posters against the leadership of the party and the
Soviet Government. The call won no response; but the signi- 4. TOWARDS THE END OF RELATIVE STABILISATION
ficance of this transition from inner-party factionalism to what The Sixth Congress of the Communist International in 1928
was in fact, whatever the subjective intentions or grievances gave the warning that the period of relative stabilisation of
of those committing it, public anti-party and anti-Soviet capitalism, analysed by the Fifth Congress in 1924, was now
incitement was unmistakable, and would have meant, if it dra\ving to an end, and would give place to a new period, as
could have won any mass support, the disruption of the Soviet a result of the forces let loose by the measure of restoration
regime and its replacement by civil war. Trotsky was expelled. of capitalism, which would be characterised by extreme
from the party, and later from the Soviet Union. sharpening of economomic contradictions and crises, major
It was in this counter-revolutionary aspect that Trotskyism political conflicts and the advance to war. The experience of
took on any significance in the international situation outside the nineteen-thirties proved the truth of this prediction.
the Soviet Union during subsequent years. The issue was duly This was precisely the time when all the prophets of the
discussed in the international corrununist movement, and the Second International, and the established economic and poli-
Sixth Congress of the Communist International in 1928 tical theorists and publicists of the capitalist world were
unanimously rejected the appeal for re-instatement of the celebrating the success of the restoration of capitalism, the
Trotsky group, characterising the group as "objectively an elimination of economic crises, the conquest of poverty and
organ of struggle against the Soviet Power" and condemning unemployment, and the final disproof of Marxism and all
"the counter-revolutionary political content of the Trotskyist revolutionary theories.
platform". In practice no more than negligible and transient President Hoover proclaimed in 1928, on the very eve of the
fragments of support were obtained by Trotskyism in a few crash of 1929, that "the outlook for the world today is for the
countries. Some of these attempted to combine later in a so- greatest era of expansion in history" (speech on July 27, 1928),
called ''Fourth International" in 1938, whose subsequent his~ and again that "unemployment in the ~ense of distress is finally
tory was a history of feuds and schisms of grouplets. disappearing; we in America today are nearer to the final
The main international repercussion of Trotskyism was in triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any
Western capitalist circles which eagerly acclaimed and repro- land" (speech on August 11, 1928 accepting Republican re-
duced on a large scale for mass consumption the formulas nomination for President). Similarly the Encyclopaedia
about the banlcruptcy of socialism in the Soviet Union, the re- Britannica in its Fourteenth Edition, in a special editorial
storation of capitalism, the degeneracy of the leadership, the article under the heading "Capitalism", proclaimed the
betrayal of the revolution, Thermidor and the general theme triumph of capitalism in ending the era of violent slumps and
of "the light that failed". Fleet Street during the subsequent large-scale unemployment :
years became full of Trotskyists who were "too revolutionary "Capitalism is still accused of responsibility for avoid-
for the Communist Party", and who consequently found a able unemployment, arising from periodic alternations of
home in lucrative editorial posts, from which they could pour climaxes and depressions in trade activity, of 'booms' and
out their venom against Communism and the Soviet UDion 'slumps'. It is certain, however, that though there must
as a betrayal of all the original ideals of Marxism and the always be some tidal movement of rise and fall, the former
revolution, thus simultaneously relieving their sensitive violence of these rhythms is now much abated in times of
revolutionary consciences, shocked at the horrors of the Soviet peace, owing to longer experience and fuller knowledge;
Union and modem communism, and serving their millionaire to swifter information jn every part of the globe of wl:i.at
is happening in every other; to quicker transport, to bet- Marx and Engels wrote, applies to the period of early
ter calculated control exercised by the great trusts and capitalism."
syndicates as indirectly by the great banking combina- yet another spokesman of German trade unionism pro-
tions and to the better adjusbnent altogether of supply claimed:
and demand." "One must not lose sight of the fact that the working
This judgement of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was penned class is a part of the capitalist system, the downfall of
at the height of the boom in the summer of 1928, that is, at which system is its own downfall, and therefore the great
the same time as the Sixth Congress of the Communist Inter- historical duty of the working class is to obtain by means
national was making its opposite analysis of the growth of of the regulation of its place in that system the improve-
contradictions leading to the near approaching crash of ment of all social structure, which is again equivalent to
stabilisation. Unfortunately for the reputation of the learned the betterment of its own situation."
oracle of Western Anglo-American capitalism, the Fourteenth Nor were these illusions of blind faith in capitalism con-
Edition was published in 1929, the year of the outbreak of the fined to German social-democracy. They were common to all
worst world economic crisis in the history of capitalism. the parties of the Second International in the period of ~apital­
Social-Democracy, as always, repeated all the illusions of ist stabilisation and boom preceding the crash. Welcoming the
vVestern capitalism. The theorist of German Social-Demo- Bankers' Manifesto in 1926, Vandervelde, the leader of Bel-
cracy, Hilferding, stated at the Kiel Congress of his party gian Social-Dem?cracy, found that the o~tlo~k of finance-
at Kiel in 1927 that "we are in the period of capitalism which capital and of social-democracy was approxlillatmg:
in the main has overcome the era of free competition and the "The language of the International of the Financiers
sway of the blind laws of the market, and we are coming to is not very different from that of the Socialist Inter-
a capitalist organisation of economy . . . to organised national."
economy", and that "organised capitalism in reality signifies (Vandervelde, speech on October 29, 1926)
the supersession, in principle, of the capitalist principle of free In Britain the same conceptions were spread by what became
competition by the socialist principle of planned production". known as Mondism (so called from the joint talks of Sir Alfred
The conception of "organised capitalism" as equivalent to Mond, representing the employers, and the General Council
"socialist planned production", thereby superseding Marx, of the Trades Union Congress, initiated in 1928, for class co-
was thus no new discovery of Gaitskell, Harold Wilson or the operation) after the General Strike. The slogan of "Ford versus
younger Fabians after the Second World War, but was already Marx" was popularised by the Independent Labour Party.
the standard dogma of German Social-Democracy in the later Even as late as 1931 a belated younger theorist of the Labour
nineteen-twenties during the boom on the eve of the world Party was declaring :
economic crisis and Nazism. Similarly Tarnov, the leading ''There are grounds for thinldng that ·the situation is
theorist of German trade unionism, declared at the Breslau changing for the good. The wave of world revolution, on
Congress of the German Trade Union Federation: which the advance of communism is depending, has sub-
"Marxism as a leading ideology of the working-class sided. Capitalism has been successful up to a point in
movement has outlived itself." stabilising itself-though at the price of admitting into its
For "the first epoch" of capitaJism, as he described it, "Marx structure socialist elements which will ultimately super-
and Engels were typical", but for modem capitalism "Ford is sede it.... There is a good deal in the communist picture
typical". Another theorist of German trade unionism, Naph- of a world in the grip of ineluctable conflict that is out of
thali, wrote : date."
"Cyclical development, under which there was a (A. L. Rowse, Politics and the Younger Generation,
regular succession of prosperity and crisis, of which 1931)
The writer argued that the most modem capitalist monopolies It is not surprising that, when the crash followed in 1929
were showing an enlightened and benevolent tendency of and spread out by 1931 to the most devastating world
scientific world organisation which held out the prospect of economic crisis on record, with fifty million unemployed, and
an ultimate "synthesis of common aims" with socialism. Un- ·the opening of the war offensive of Japanese imperialism in
fortunately for the writer, he chose as his example of this pro- 1931, the United Senate Commission of Enquiry recalled the
gressive tendency of modem monopoly capitalism and prediction of the Sixth Congress ·o f the Communist Inter-
potential ally with socialism-Kreuger : national in the summer of 1928, made under what all Western
"It is noteworthy that one of the greatest and most pro- capitalist and social-democratic observers had thought to be
gressive of modem finance corporations, the Swedish a clear sky, and gravely considered whether the world
Kreuger and Toll Co., in a brilliant review of world condi- economic crisis might not possibly be a communist plot.
tions comes to conclusions not dissimilar. . . . When a Once again the outlook of international communism or
great capitalist concern speaks in these terms, one seems Marxism-Leninism was proved by the test of historical
to see ia glimpse of the future in which the existing conflict experience to be closer to reality than the outlook of the
between socialism and it is resolved in a synthesis of com- spokesmen of capitalism and social-democracy.
mon aims."
The Preface of this book was dated 29 July, 1931. The col-
lapse and exposure of Kreuger and his swindles, and Kreugers
own suicide, took place within eight months. A symbolic
In contrast to these illusions and false conceptions of the
parties of the Second International during the period of
capitalist smbilisation, the Communist International, which
had already analysed the temporary and precarious character
of the period of relative stabilisation, was able in 1928 at jts
Sixth Congress to predict the close approach of the end of the
~eriod of stabilisation, and the advent of a new period or
' third period", following the first period of revolutionary up-
surge after the war and the second period of relative stabili-
"This third period, in which the contradiction between
the growth of the productive forces and the contraction
of markets becomes particularly accentuated, is inevit-
ably giving rise to a fresh series of imperialist wars ...
will inevitably lead-through the further development of
the contradictions of capitalist stabilisation-to capital-
ist stabilisation becoming still more precarious, and to the
severe intensification of the general crisis of capitalism.
. . . The development of the contradictions of capitalist
stabilisation inevitably leads in the final analysis to the
present 'stabilisation' period growing into a period of
gigantic cataclysms."
dislikes. Some academic historians, with their customary lack
of any sense of history, have sought to describe Plato's political
theory of a slave-owning aristocracy holding property in
common as a form of fascism. American senators, who fell
over themselves with admiration of Mussolini and Hitler dur-
ing the thirties, subsequently during the cold war phase
sought to cash in on the popular hatred of fascism by describ-
ing communism as "red fascism". Of course the use of terms
CHAPTER VIII is anyone's free choice; there are no laws with sanctions. Any-
one can describe communism as "red diabolism" or "red
incest" if it helps to relieve their feelings.
COMMUNISM, SOCIAL DEMOCRACY However, fascism is in fact a definite historical phenomenon
AND FASCISM of a definite historical period and corresponding to specific
conditions and characteristics which can be defined. Fascism
arose as a special form of counter-revolution in the period of
"Perhaps the Fascisti in Italy, for example, will render the general crisis of capitalism and following the opening of
us a great service by explaining to the Italians that they the world socialist revolution in 1917. The term was first used
are not yet sufficiently enlightened and that their country in Italy, where the revolutionary tide at the end of the First
is not yet ensured against the Black-Hundreds. Perhaps World War reached a high point, with the workers' occupation
this will be very beneficial." of the factories, and the mass Socialist Party temporarily
LENIN, Report to the Fourth Congress <Jf the adhering to the Communist International, but where the re·
Commtmi8t International, November 13, 1922. formist leadership was finally able to dominate the majority
of the working class and frustrate the revolution. The con-
The decade of the nineteen-thirties bore a distinctive sequent situation of explosive disillusionment and frustration
character which has been universally recognised and unfor- among wide sections was utilised to stage a mock "revolu-
gettably stamped in the conscious record of human tionary" movement with "radical" slogans, which was in fact
experience. There were dark horrors in those years with the backed by the monarchy, the Army Command and the big
extending grip of fascism and the deepening descent into war industrialists, to preserve the old social order and deliver the
through the complicity of the rulers of the West. But there was most violent gangster offensive against the working-class
also great heroism in those years, and an upsurge of the organisations and democratic forms. Such was the classic first
popular movement in the struggle against fascism and to pre- manifestation of fascism which was subsequently reproduced
vent the impending war. If victory was not won by the popu- in varying forms in other countries.
lar movement at that stage, if the war of fascism came despite Fascism is thus a form of counter-revolution. But not every
all the efforts to avert it, nevertheless it was through the counter-revolution is fascism. The conventional ideological
popular struggle of those years that the foundations were laid anti-fascist interpretations of fascism see in fascism only the
for the subsequent victory of the peoples of the world against pri~cip~e of "dictatorship" or "violence". This approach,
fascism and the great advance which has followed. which is the hallmark of the liberal and social-democratic
schools of thought in relation to fascism sees fascism as the
~arallel extreme to communism, both being counterposed to
Fascism as a term has come to be used to describe any form liberal-capitalist democracy. Fascism is defined as "dictator-
of reactionorcounter-revolution, or even anything the speaker ship from the right" in contrast to communism as "dictatorship
from the left". This line was expressed by the Labour Party make war on the organised working-class movement and thus
manifesto of March, 1933, on "Democracy versus Dictator- prepare the way for the establishment o~ the terrori_st dictato~­
ship" to justify the Labour refusal of the united front against ship of the most aggressive and reactionary sections of big
fascism. capital.
This definition, however, which ignores class relations, will :Klara Zetkin, the veteran leader of the old socialist move-
not stand up to analysis. "Dictatorships from the right" have ment, declared in a brilliant report on fascism at the Enlarged
existed for generations, and can exist in hundreds of forms, Executive of the Communist International in July, 1923, that
without constituting fascism. Tsarism was a "dictatorship "historically, fascism is the punishment of the proletariat in
from the right". ButTsarism was not fascism. The White Guard Western and Central Europe for failing to carry on the revolu-
dictatorship of a Kolchak or a Denikin set up temporarily tion begun in Russia". The same Executive gave a preliminary
with Westem subsidies and arms in regions of Russia after analysis of the character of fascism as seen in 1923 :
1917 were "dictatorships of the right" (with social-democratic "F-ascism is a characteristic phenomenon of decay, a
ministers participating); but they were not yet fascism. reflection of the progressive dissolution of capitalist
Fascism is certainly a reactionary dictatorship. But not every economy and of the disintegration of the bourgeois state.
reactionary dictatorship is fascism. Fascism can only be de- "Its strongest root is the fact that the imperialist war
fined in terms of class relations and the specific type of class and the disruption of the capitalist economy which the
situation in which it arises. war intensified and accelerated meant, for the broad
Fascism arose, not only in a specific historical period, in strata of the petty and middle bourgeoisie, small peasants
the period of the general crisis of capitalism and following and the 'intelligentsia', in contrast to the hopes they cher-
the revolutionary upsurge at the end of the First World War, ished, the destruction of their former condition of life
but also in a specific region : in capitalist Europe beyond the and especially their former security. The vague expe:ta-
frontiers of the victorious socialist revolution in Russia; that tion which many in these social strata had of a radical
is, in the countries of imperialism or closely linked with social improvement, to be brought about by reformist
imperialism, and especially at first in the countries of Central socialism, have also been disappointed. The betrayal of
and Southern Europe defeated in the First World War or the revolution by the refonnist party and trade union
most adversely affected by its consequences. It arose in coun- leaders . . . has led them to despair of socialism itself.
tries racked by intense class contradictions, where there w.as The weakness of will, the fear of struggle shown by the
a potential revolutionary siruation, but where there was not way in which the overwhelming majority of the pro-
yet a sufficiently developed revolutionary working-class letariat outside Soviet Russia tolerates this treachery, and
leadership to be able to carry through a victorious socialist under capitalist whips drudges to consolidate its own
revolution; where the social-democratic leadership was able exploitation and enslavement, has robbed these small and
to maintain its hold on the majority of the working class to middle bourgeois, as well as the intellectuals, brought
come to the rescue of capitalism and bar the road to into a state of ferment, of their belief in the working class
the revolution, but in face of increasing working-class dis- as the mighty agent of a radical social transformation.
content; and where the discredited capitalist regime was able They have been joined by many proletarian elements
in consequence to utilise a motley array of demagogues, who, looking for and demanding action, feel dissatisfied
mouthing radical-sounding, chauvinist and racialist slogans, with the behaviour of all political parties. Fascism also
and in £act financed by big capital, in order to mobilise a attracts the disappointed and declassed, the rootless in
reactionary "mass movement" of the most miscellaneous dis- every social stratum, particularly ex-officers who have
illusioned and frustrated elements, mainly from the middle lost their occupation since the end of the war. This is
strata, but also from backward sections of the workers, to particularly true of the defeated Central Powers ....
strongest development of the organised social-democzqtic
"The old allegedly non-political apparotus of ~e working-class movement ~ the w.orl~. Th,e subs~que~t
bourgeois state no longer guarantees the ~ourge01s.1e development of the Nazi dictatorship smce 1933, with its
adequate security. They have set about.creatin~ special elaborate apparatus of terror, pogroms, concentration c.amps,
class-struggle troops against the proletariat. Fascism pro- gas-chambers, extermination of millions and open dnve to
vides these troops." war for wholesale conquest and expansion horrifle~ ~e
Thus the distinctive character of fascism is not merely its peoples of the entire world-although not the multi-mil-
counter-revolutionary role, but its method of organisation fol- lionaire rulers of the West until to their amazement the sharp
lowing the frustration of the socialist revolution,. ~ough ~e point was also turned against their own domination. .
leadership and policy of social-democracy, to mobilise a special This special social composition of the mass army of fascrsi:n,
type of mass movement and semi-military army, initially out- as also of most of its agitators and leaders, from the most mis-
side the regular state macbine9', ~omposed of ~e most cellaneous middle strata and declassed and rootless elements
miscellaneous disillusioned and dissatisfied elements, m order (the one case, in Br~tain, where a representativ~ of the old
to conduct an extra-legal war against the organised working- landed aristocracy, Su Oswald Mosley, Baronet, tried to found
class movement and democracy, and finally, their initial job a fascist movement, ended in a conspicuous fiasco) led in
done to be absorbed into the state machinery of the resulting the early stages to a considerable confusion on the class role
fascist' state.
of fascism. Fascism was widely described as a "revolution of
Early embryonic forms of fascism in this spe.cific. sen~e can the middle class" against both capitalism and the organised
be traced in the White Guard counter-revolution m Finland working-class movem~nt. Ce~ainly ~,e ~~cist,~ them~elves
in 1918 and in Hungary in 1919. In Finland, ~~r tJ:ie Socialist loved to describe their doctrine as a spmtual doctrine of
Party had won an absolute parliamentary. ma1onty 11:1 the elec- "the nation" above all classes. In their early agitational phase
tion of 1916, reaction began to orgamse a special ~ed especially they would make much play with the rrofessed
"Security Corps" outside ~e regular army an~ state machine. aim of "socialism". German fascism called itself 'National
In self-defence the workmg class orgamsed 1ts Red Guards; Socialism" (it was really Imperialist Anti-Socialism). The Nazi
and the civil war between these began by the end of 1917. programme of Twenty Fiv~,Poin.t~, proclaimed "unal.terable::.
With the aid of German troops the bourgeoisie won, and in- contained such items as abolition of unearned mcome ;
augurated the White Terror, in which "~ut of about 80,000 ''breaking of interest-slavery"; "nationalisation of all trusts";
Red prisoners taken at the end of April, or subsequently "confiscation without compensation of land for communal
arrested, more than 30,000 men and women are dead" (Times, purposes". Of course all this was su?ject to "";,terpretati?n".
February 11, 1919). Subsequently this "Security Corps" con- The "confiscation without compensation of land was offic1ally
tinued to be maintained in the Finnish state, also after the explained later as "directed in the first instance at the Jewish
re-establishment of a measure of parliamentary democracy, companies who speculate in land". With regard to the "break-
as .an extra-legal, yet officially recognised organisation. ing of interest-slavery" it was reported that when two earnest
It was in Italy, however, that the formal and conscious students and devotees of Nazism approached Goebbels for
organisation of fascism first developed. Even .in Italy th~ con- an explanation how it was to be done, they received the reply
stitution of the fascist dictatorship went through a senes of that the only 'breaking" likely to take place would be of the
tentative stages during the initial years after the so-called heads of those who tried to understand it. Nevertheless,
"March on Rome" (conducted in fact by six Army gener~ls; many gullible press journalists in the West, and also many of
Mussolini arrived in a sleeping-car) in 1922, before reaching the reformist social-democratic leaders and organs swallowed
its completed form. Nazism in Germany revealed ~e full~st this myth and peddled for a long time stories of the "socialist"
development of fascism in a highly advanced and rodustria- and "anti-capitalist" character of fascism and Nazism. Thus
lised Western state, where there had been the earliest and
even after Hitler had come to power, the editorial of the Daily to hold the masses, but could only prepare the way to hand
Herald, then the official organ of the Trades Union Congress over to the Hitlers and Goebbels and Goerings and Streichers,
and Labour Party, declared: the lower-class rabble-rousers and gangsters as their nominees.
"The 'National-Socialists', it is essential to remember, The real multi-millionaire interests which financed fascism,
call themselves 'socialist' as well as 'national'. Their placed it in power, drew enormous profits from its power, and
'socialism' is not the socialism of the Labour Party, or that remained in · possession of gigantic Tesultant profits and for-
of any recognised Socialist Party in other countries. B1:1t tunes, long after the Hitlers, Goerings, Goebbels and Mus-
in many ways it is a creed that is anathema to the. big solinis had reached their dishonoured deaths, remained
landlords, the big industrialists and the big fin~c1ers. unmistakable. The financial backing of Hitler by big industry
And the Nazi leaders are bound to go forward with the was already laid bare in the Hitler-Ludendodl trial of 1924
'socialist' side of their programme." and in the Bavarian Diet Investigation Committee. "In later
(Daily Herald, editorial on "Hitler's May Day", years the list of the alleged financial patrons of the National-
May 2, 1933) Socialist movement became extremely long. Factory owners,
Thus Nazism in the view of the Labour Party was seen as managers, general counsel (syndici) were as thick as they
almost a wing of socialism, a rather unorthodox variety of might be on the subscription list of the Republican National
socialism, but "anathema to the bjg landlords, the big indus- Committee of the United States" (Mowrer, "Germany Puts
trialists and the big financiers" (who, curiously enough, main- the Clock Back", 1933). The Ruhr combines imposed a levy on
tained it in funds and finally placed it in power). every ton of coal to pay to the Nazis, and raised the price of
This confusion on the class role of fascism will not stand coal to pay for this. For the Presidential election of 1932 alone
up to the demonstration of inescapable facts. The fallacy arises Thyssen provided the Nazis with more than three million
from the confusion of the social composition of the member- marks in a few days. Foreign supporters were stated to include
ship of a party; or its ideological propaganda to win that Deterding, Kreuger and Ford. Paul Faure st>ated in the French
membership, withits real class role which is determined by the Chamber of Deputies on February 11, 1932, that the foreign
class interests that it represents. Thus the Conservative Party financial backers of the Nazis included the directors of the
assembles its millions of members and voters from the most Czech Skoda armaments firm, controlled by Schneider-
diverse sections of the population, not merely from the hand- Creusot. The multi-millionaire Rothennere publicly pro-
ful of the upper class and the wealthy, but mainly from the claimed the Daily Mail to become an organ of Nazism and
salaried, small trading and other middle sections, and from fascism. The open and avowed supporters of fascism in every
millions of politically backward workers. The Conservative country were the representatives of big capital, the Thyssens,
Party claims to represent "the nation" and be above classes. .Krupps, Monds, Deterdings and Owen Youngs.
Nevertheless, the Conservative Party is in fact the party of Did the German multi-millionaires find themselves fooled
big business, of the City, ?f the bankers, landlords an~ indus- and fleeced by the Nazis, in accordance with all the threats
trialists; all the rest is voting-fodder. Here the analysis of the of confiscation and abolition of unearned income, after the
real class role is relatively simpler, because of the public com- latter had come to power with the aid of millionaire finance
manding positions are still held by the scions of the top landed and anti-millionaire propaganda? On the contrary. The
and finance-capitalist aristocracy (Cabinets of Etonians), al- Thyssens and Krupps amassed bigger profits and fortunes than
though the biggest monopoly interests remain in the back- ever, through all the network of state regulation, "corporate
ground and supply the funds. But in a situation of extre~e systems", limitation of dividends and the rest of the parade
class contradictions and social convulsions as in Germany 1n of state monopoly capitalism, and had the additional advan-
the twenties the old type of German National Party of the tage of prohibition of strikes, extermination of militant work-
Hugenbergs and the Hindenburgs would no longer suffice ing-class leaders and abundant imported slave labour obtained
by the gangster wars. Between 1932 and 1939 the number Austria, France and Spain, to the last the Second International
of multi-millionaires in Germany increased by 180. When refused every approach of the Communist International for
Alfred Krupp came over to the Western Allies in 1945 :im- unity against fascism.
mediately after the fall and death of Hitler, he stated that his How did fascism come to power? Not by superior strength
private fortune, as sole owner of the Krupp combine, was 160 over the strength of the working class, nor by superior support
million marks, on which he drew tax-free dividends of six per of the majority of the population. Consider the crucial
cent, or a tax-free income of nearly ten million marks a year. example of Germany, where Nazism brought such evils to the
What subsequently happened, with the supposed expropria- world. In the 1918 revolution Kautsky himself, the recognised
tion of Thyssen and Krupp by the Western Allies, as a punish- theorist and spokesman of German Social~Democracy, a<l-
ment for their crimes in accordance with the Potsdam Agree- mitted that the working class had won complete power
ment, and their subsequent reinstatement in the West through the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils and that the
Germany of Adenauer and Erhard, so that they are once again bour~eoisie was powerless :
richer than ever, is another story, which belongs to the record 'In November, 1918, the revolution was the work of
of the cold war after the Second World vVar. the proletariat alone. The proletariat won so all-powerful
After Hitler had come to power, and the full character of a position that the bourgeois elements at first did not dare
the Nazi dictatorship had been demonstrated, the Executive to attempt any resistance."
of the Communist International in 1933 gave the short defini- (Kautsky, Introduction to the Third Edition of
tion, repeated by the Seventh Congress in 1935: The Proletarian Revolution, 1931)
"Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most How was this absolute power of the proletariat turned in fif-
reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist ele- teen years into its exact opposite-into the absolute power of
ments of finance-capital." the bourgeoisie and militarists and the absolute subjection of
the working class? The answer to this question, in which is
2. HOW FASCISM CAME TO POWER expressed the tragedy of the German revolution of 1918, is
The fascist offensive after the First World War raised the contained above all in the continued domination of the
most acute problem for the entire international working majority of the German working class by the extreme right-
class. This offensive required to be met by the fullest and most wing leadership of Social-Democracy. The German Social-
active combined and united strength of the whole inter- Democratic leadership which had opposed the November
national working class, irrespective of ideological differences. revolution ("the imputation that Social-Democracy wanted or
But this unity was not forthcoming in the most critical stages. prepared the November revolution is a ridiculous, stupid lie of
After Hitler had come to power, the lesson of unity began to our opponents," affirmed Scheidemann, the leader of German
be learned for a period in France, with a consequent rebuff to Social-Democracy, in a libel suit in 1922), hastened to hand
the fascist offensive in that country (it was not until after the back the power to the bourgeoisie and dissolve the Workers'
front in France had been opened by the right-wing generals and Soldiers' Councils, armed the White Guard monarchist
to Hitler's unresisted military invasion that the Vicby fascist officers, shot down the militant workers and murdered the
regime was installed, with the supporting vote of the majority most famous and honoured working-class leaders, in order to
of the Socialist Party deputies), and in Spain after the Asturian restore capitalism in the name of "democracy". Thus the way
revolt, and partially in Britain by the mass of the labour move· was prepared for the reactionary offensive during the follow-
ment successfully defeating Mosley, although the top Labour ing fifteen years and the development of the extra-legal
Party and Trade Union Congress leadership to the last militarist and Nazi armed organisations. The final outcome
opposed united resistance to Mosley. At the top unity was was the Nazi dictatorship.
never achieved. Even after all the lessons of Italy, Germany, Even as late as the election of November, 1932, on the eve
of Hitler being placed in power, the combined working-class had been previously Hung into prison) voted for the Nazi
vote, Social-Democratic and Communist, amounting to Government's resolution and joined in the· unanimous
13,241,000 was greater than the Nazi vote of 11,729,000 acclamation of Hitler.
(indeed, the fall of the Nazi vote by over two millions since This subservience to Hitler proved as disastrous as the pre-
the preceding election, and the consequent fear of impending vious betrayal of the working-class revolution, which had
disintegration of the Nazi party, was the main factor whicli paved the way for Hitler. "The Leiparts and the Grassmanns,"
led the ruling class, through President Hindenburg, to place declared Dr. Ley, the leader of the Nazi Labour Front, re-
Hitler in power from above, although the Nazis were a ferring to the trade union leaders, "may profess their devotion
parliamentary minority and sinking in popular support). Yet to Hitler, but they are better in prison." On June 22 the
to the last the German Social-Democratic leadership rejected Social-Democratic Party was banned. Thus the lesson was
the repeated appeals of the Communist Party of Germany taught that, while the fascist offensive may begin against the
addressed during this crucial final phase directly to the Social- communist vanguard, thereafter, if other sections acquiesce,
Democratic Executive and to the Executive of the Trade joining in the hue-and-cry against communism, and thinking
Union Federation for a nation-wide united front against that they themselves will be immune, then the offensive will
Nazism: in July, 1932, filter the von Papen dictatorship had be turned against them, against social-democracy, against the
expelled the Social-Democratic Government of Prussia; in liberals, and finally against all democracy. The only salvation
January 1933, after Hitler had been appointed Chancellor by lies in united resistance.
Hindenburg (whose preceding election as President had
been carried by the support of the Social-Democratic Party, 3. RESPONSIBILITY OF SOCIAL-DEMOCRACY
which had proclaimed him the champion against Hitler); and This same basic lesson, and the same role of the reformist
a third time in March, 1933, after the burning of the Reichstag leadership of social-democracy in disarming the working class,
and the wtloosing of full Nazi terror. frustrating the working-class revolution for which the objec-
The German Social-Democratic leadership made the fatal tive conditions were ripe after the First World War, building
mistake of refusing the united front with the Communists, up reaction and turning the offensive against the militant
who represented six million electors, against Nazism because workers, and thus opening the gates to fascism. could be
they clung to the hope of reaching an accommodation with illustrated in varying forms in the other countries where
Hitler to continue as a tolerated Social-Democratic Party after fascism came to power dwing this period.
the Communist Party was suppressed. Wels, as leader of the Thus the decisive factor in the transition to fascism in an
party, publicly resigned from the Executive of the Second extending series of European countries during these inter-
International in protest against the spreading of "atrocity war years was the disorganisation of the working class
stories" by the latter against Hitler. The trade union leader- throu~h the role of the dominant social-democratic leader-
ship announced their readiness to cooperate with Nazism, pro- ship, first by strangling the working-class revolution at the
claiming the Nazi "revolution" as a triumphant continuance time when its victory was possible, and then by building up
of the 1918 revolution, and urging that the common enemy reaction in the name of "democracy'', conducting the most
was Communism (Sozial Demokratischer Pressedienst, March active offensive, including a police offensive, against the
9, 1933). On this basis the trade union central leadership militant section of the working class, and in the culminating
officially called on the workers to participate in Hitler's May phase by refusing the united front against fascism.
Day. "The union leaders," declared the Labour Daily Herald In the long-term historical perspective fascism was the con-
on April 24, 1933, "have sealed their reconciliation with the sequence of the delay of the sociaUst revolution in Western
new rulers of Germany." On May 17 the entire Social-Demo- and Central Europe after the First World ·war, when the
cratic Party in the Reichstag (while the Communist deputies whole objective situation ca:Ued for the socialist revolution as

the only decisive solution and ever more visibly raised the 4. TACTICAL PROBLEMS AND SHORTCOMINGS OF THE INTER-
issue of the working-class struggle for power, but when the
wo~king-cla~s m~vemen~ was not strong enough and ready,
This is not to say that there were no faults on the side of
owmg to bemg disorgamsed and paralysed by reformism, and the international communist movement dwing these critical
thus fet the initiative pass to capitalism. Fascism may be des- years. The newly formed and developing Communist Parties,
cribed as the abortion consequent on a miscarriage of the grown out of the shell of the old social-democratic traditions
proletarian revolution. and the early pre-1914 manifold and often confused militant
In the short-term aspect, when the final crucial struggle left workin~-class :6g~t, had to find themselves and shape
developed, the victory of fascism was due to the refusal of the themselves 111 the midst of all the complex situations and
united working class and popular front to fight and defeat it. struggles of the post-war years; were not yet masters of the
Apologists of reformist social-democracy have sought to situation even in those countries where they inherited from
argue that fascism developed as the consequence of com- the outset a wide body of mass support; and had to pass
mun~sm. "Reaction ,?.f th.e Left," accor?IDg to the Labour Party
through many sharp struggles of policy and leadership in the
Manifesto of 1933, is displaced by triumphant reaction of the process of development.
!tight:" Similarly the Conservative leader, Baldwin, declared: After the basic platform of communism had been accepted,
Fascism is begotten of Communism out of civil discord. the task of successfully applying the principles of Marxism-
Whene':~r you get Communism and civil discord, you get
Leninism to the concrete conditions of a particular country
Fascism (House of Commons, November 23, 1933). was not easily solved. In Germany, whose party, with
This picture is demonstrably contrary to the facts. Un- its heroic fighting traditions, was long the premier Communist
doubtedly, the parallel advance of the forces of revolution and Party after the Russian party, the problems were exceptionally
counter-revolution represents the two sides of the single pro- acute. One of the most original and successful of parties in
cess of the break-up of the old capitalist social order. The con- finding the path of adaptation to national conditions was the
tinuous inter-action of the opposing forces of revolution and Chinese Communist Party, which, after the initial factional
counter-revolution was long ago described by Marx. But the difficulties had been overcome, found the way to combine
inference attempted to be drawn from this that, if the working its communist role with the broad stream of the national
class follows communist policy and leadership, fascism will revolutionary struggle, and tluough the leadership of Mao
biumph, is the direct opposite of historical experience. Reality Tse Tung and his associates brilliantly combined closeness to
has shown the exact contrary. Where the majority of the ~e .people, man~euvring flexibility and revolutionary dis-
working class has followed communist leadership (the Soviet cipline and audacity through the most varied vicissitudes to
Union), fascism was not able to appear-although it later the final victory of the revolution.
caused plenty of trouble from outside, after reformism bad !he Communist International was the inspiration and
allowed it to conquer elsewhere in Europe. But where, in guide of the newly formed Communist Parties during these
ear~y years, ~specially .through the first three Congresses,
conditi~ns. of social tensio~ and crisis of the capitalist regime,
the ma1onty of the working class followed reformist social- which were drrectly gwded by Lenin, and which elaborated
. democratic policy and leadership (Germany, Italy, Austria, the essential programme, principles and strategical, tactical
etc.}, there at a certain stage fascism grew and conquered. and organisational lines of the international communist move-
men~. These included the final guiding lines, worked out by
The strength of the working-class state built by communism
proved in the final outcome the decisive factor for the defeat Lenm d~g the latter part of 1921 and the beginning of
of fascism throughout Europe and on a world scale. 1922, as his last general contribution to the international
1?ovement before lie had to withdraw from active participa-
tion (apart from his memorable last speech to the Fourth Con-
gress in November, 1922, when he gave the warning on to form new unions as the instruments of revolution. Lenin
fascism), setting out the aim of the united working-class front at the time of the Second Congress wrote his Left-Wing Com~
at all levels, including approaches between the two Inter- munlsm in 1920 to correct these errors, which he described as
nationals, as the essential strategical and tactical line in the a "children's disease of communism".
new phase following the ebb of the revolutionary tide. After Lenin's death, with the further development of the
During the succeeding years the principle of centralised relative capitalist stabilisation and consequent reformist
leadership by the International Executive, also in concrete illusions among wide sections of the workers, and as the right-
questions of particular situations in particular countries, cor. wing leadership of the social-democratic parties became in-
responding originally to the period of international revolu· creasingly merged with the capitalist state machinery and
tionary upsurge requiring an international general staff, and intensified the fight against the communists and militant
understandable also in reaction against the impotent "post workers, not only with bans and verbal denunciations, but
office" principle of the old Second International of inglorious with the state coercive machinery and shooting, the justified
memory, became less appropriate in the increasingly varied, anger and resentment of the communist workers and intensi-
complex and rapidly changing conditions in the various conn. fied ideological battle began to endanger the basic long-term
tries, defeating the possibility of adequate and prompt analy· tactical aim of the united front, proclaimed since 1921. This
sis and judgement for action from a single international centre. situation grew graver with the transition to the phase of the
Gradually this began to be recognised; and by the mid· break-up of stabilisation, when the growth of working class
thirties the Seventh Congress concentrated mainly on broad discontent led to increasing state repressive measures by the
general lines of international significance for the united fight social-democratic leadership and the consequent sharpening
against fascism and war. Eventuaily, during the Second World of the conflict between the two sections of the working·class
War, with the maturity of a wide range of Communist Parties, movement, at the very moment when the advance of fascism
and with the extreme variety of national conditions of the was rendering more indispensable than ever the united
struggle, the Communist International was finally dissolved in working-class front and the utmost flexibility of tactics. Initial
1943, not because its role was condemned, but because it had signs of some trends to sectarianism appeared in some of the
completed its function in the formation and development of formulations of the Sixth Congress in 1928, especially in its
the Communist Parties, and on the foundation of that success· potentially misleading main slogan "Class Against Class", as
ful fulfilment a new era of the international communist move· also in some narrowness in the othenvise valuable treatment
ment had opened. of the colonial question, the results of which caused some set-
During these formative years of the Communist Parties in back in the movement in India. But these trends went further
the nineteen-twenties there took place, alongside heroic in the immediately succeeding period.
leadership of mass struggles, errors of tactics and direction in When the Prussian Social-Democratic Government of
particular countries, normally corrected by the International Braun and Severing prohibited the historic working-class
Executive,butsometimes,especially during the later twenties, demonstration on May Day in Berlin, and shot down the
with some participation of the International Executive. From workers who dared to demonstrate, the Tenth Plenum of the
the initial heritage there were trends both to the right and Executive Committee of the Communist International in
to the left. There were errors of opportunism and passivity; of July, 1929> declared that social~dernocracy, in those countries
failure to respond promptly to decisive moments. There were where it was strongly established, had taken on the character
errors of sectarianism and adventurism, of "theories of the of "social-fascism, which to an ever-increasing extent serves
offensive" of the advanced vanguard separately from the the bourgeoisie as an instrument for the paralysing of the
majority of the working class, or contempt for the use of parl~a­ activity of the masses in the struggle against the regime of
ment or hostility to the old reformist trade unions and desJ.re fascist dictatorship". The use of the term was clearJy intended

to parallel Lenin's use of the term "social-chauvinism" to caused more deaths on the Left than on the Right, and
describe the degeneration of the right-wing leadership of that police measures have caused more wounds on the
social-democracy during the First World War to identify with Left than on the Right."
chauvinism. But there were flaws in the parallel which made (Braun-Severing Memorandum to President Hinden-
its use harmful. It is true that certain sections of the social- burg protesting against deposition, July 18, 1932)
democratic leadership in certain countries had reached very Thus in respect of the most powerful extreme right-wing sec·
close links with fascism. The Hungarian Social-Democratic tions of social-democracy there was justi£cation for saying
Party signed an official secret treaty on December 22, 1921, that it was acting as a parallel instrument of the bourgeoisie,
with the White Guard dictatorship pledging cooperation and alongside fascism, for dealing blows against the militant work-
support of "the Magyar standpoint" in return for legality, and ing class and paralysing the working-class struggle against
thereafter served as an agency for passing on to the police fascism.
reports of activities or of names of members of the illegal Nevertheless, the use of this term was a political error. It
Communist Party. 9 The Chairman of the Belgian Labour gave an easy handle for the enemies of communism to spread
Party, De Man (who in 1928 in a stirring address "Beyond Wilful misunderstanding of the serious analysis intended,
Marxism" had called for "the substitution of the sentiment of and to imply that it was meant to designate the millions of
justice as the basis of socialism in place of class interest" and rank-and-file members of the social-democratic parties.
had proclaimed "Marxism is dead l Long live socialism I") was Thereby the social-democratic workers were antagonised at
later, after the invasion of Belgium, found to have been a Nazi the very moment when it was most important to dispel their
agent; his last act in 1940 was to dissolve the Labour Party. prejudices and hostility and win their cooperation. A
Varjonen of Finland was a member of the fascist "Brother- similar error was made over the question of the referendum to
hood in Arms" during the Second World War, preached a demand the resignation of the Braun-Severing Government
march of conquest and rapine "as far as the Urals", repeatedly and new elections in 1931. This referendum had first been pro-
visited Hitler Germany, and after the armistice became the posed by the Nazis; and the German Communist Party had
Secretary of the Finnish Social-Democratic Party. The BraUll- for this reason initially opposed voting for the demand for
Severing Prussian Social-Democratic Government boasted in resignation. Subsequently the decision was adopted to reverse
an official memorandum in 1932 that it had "caused more this policy and endeavour to take the initiative out of the
deaths on the Left than on the Right" : hands of the Nazis by presenting the campaign for a "Red
"The Prussian Government is in a position with Referendum" to express the working-class protest against the
police-statistics to prove that police interference has reactionary policies of the Braun-Severing Government. This
decision (which, according to Walter Ulbricht, who was Secre-
11 After the victory of the Hungarian anti-fascist revolution the following tary of the Berlin Commtmist Party organisation at the time,
letter was found in the Hungarian police archives from Karoly Peyer, the
General Secretary of the Hungarian Trade Union Federatioo and Chairman in his subsequent report on the "Outline History of the Ger-
of the Hungarian Social-Democrat Party, sent on July l, 1941 (the original man Working-Class Movement 1863-1963" given to the
of the letter is on display in the Museum of the Revolution in Budapest):
The Right Honourable Dr. Aladar Bodr, Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Under-Secretary of State, in 1963, was not a reflection of the judgement of the German
During the last few days individuals have repeatedly appeared at the Communist Party, but was "guided by Stalin's dogmatic and
premises of the trade unions under my leadershi.P and attempted to per- schematic ideas on the role of social-democracy ... the expres-
suade the workers present to commit various unlawful deedS. I have the
honour to present with respect the reports I received. sion 'social-fascism' was not invented in Karl-Liebknecht
Your sincere admirer, House e~~er") again gave a handle to enemies to misrepresent
Member of Parliament. the position of the German communists as supporting a
General Secretary referendum which had been originated by the Nazis. So also
a speech of a left Social-Democrat deputy, Breitscheid, advo- Democratic Party Executive. In July, 1932, the German Com-
cating negotiations for a united front was not taken up, but munist Party, after the dismissal of the Braun-Severing
dismissed as "a manoeuvre". Elaborate distinctions were made Government, put out its first direct proposal on a national
between the united front "from above" and "from below". scale to the Social-Democratic Executive and Trade Union
These undoubted negative aspects of serious tactical errors Executive for a united working-class front. This was rejected.
of the communist movement during these critical years, which. The Social-Democratic leadership under-rated and belittled
it is easier to judge today in the light of fuller subsequent the Nazi danger, seeing always the main enemy on the left.
knowledge, should not for one moment obscure from view the After the November, 1932, elections, with Hitler's loss of over
foremost active, courageous, disciplined and devoted role of two million votes, the social-democratic press spoke of "the
the communists in Germany and in every country throughout final annihilation of Hitler". "One thing is now clear," wrote
this period in the interests of the working class and against the leading Second International organ, the Vienna A1·beiter-
fascism. There can be no comparison of these tactical errors, zeitung, "Germany will not be fascist." "I think it is a safe
committed within the context of a general line of tireless un- prophecy," wrote the British Labour publicist, Harold Laski,
yielding daily struggle in the working-class cause against in the Daily Herald on November 19, 1932, "that the Hitlerite
capitalism and against fascism and reaction in every field, with movement has passed its apogee.... The day when they were
the basic line of the right-wing social-democratic leadership a vital threat is gone." Only the Communists sounded the
of coalition with capitalism, governmental toleration of the warning with regard to the election defeats of the Nazis:
fascist extra-legal para-military organisations, banning of the "However great the defeat of National-Socialism may have
militant working-class defence organisations, and direction of been, it woulcl be criminally foolish to talk of the smashing
the main offensive, including the police offensive, against the up of the mass-movement of fascism" (Communist Inter-
left. The tactical errors of the communists were errors of national, December 1, 1932). Similarly the Social-Democratic
excess of zeal, of partisanship, of anger against social-demo- leadership followed the policy of "tolerating" Hitler to the
cratic treachery : serious in their consequences, while they point of favouring his coming into governmental position as a
lasted, but springing from passionate devotion to the working- desirable development. Thus Severing declared in April,
class cause temporarily outstripping cool political judgement. 1932: "The Social-Democratic Party is strongly inclined to
As soon as the increasing gravity of the fascist menace became see Herr Hitler's Nazis share the Governmental responsi-
manifest, the communists were the first to throw aside the pre- bility." And the party organ Vonoi:irts wrote in the same
vious errors, and urge without conditions, again and again period : "It is a precept of political sagacity to allow
from the summer of 1932 onwards, the united working-class the Nazis to come to power before they have become a
front, both above and below, of social-democrats and com- majority." Only the Communists opposed this line and pro-
munists, to halt the offensive of fascism. It was the social- claimed in the same period (Rote Fahne, April 26, 1932):
democratic leadership which refused the united front. "We shall do everything to bar Hitler's way to Governmental
Already in 1931 the German Communist Party made pro· power." But the Communists were unfortunately in a minority
posals to the Braun-Severing Social-Democratic Government in the working class.
in Prussia for cooperation on the basis of a joint programme Once Hitler had come to power, and the full Nazi terror
against fascism and reaction. This was rejected. In 1932 a pro- unloosed had at last opened the eyes of the world to the
visional agreement was reached between the Secretaries of menace threatening all Europe and the world, the entire
the Berlin organisations, Franz Kuenstler, Secretary of the strength of the international communist movement was
Berlin Social-Democratic organisation, and Walter Ulbricht, directed to the supreme aim to build up the united working-
Secretary of the Berlin Communist organisation, for joint talks class &ont and united popular resistance to defeat the offen-
with a view to cooperation; but this was vetoed by the Social- sive of fascism and war. The heroic stand of Dimitrov on trial

in 1933 inspired all mankind. In France in 1934 the ~st suc-

cess of united communist-socialist resistance to fascism was
achieved. The Seventh Congress of the Communist Inter-
national in 1935, through the trumpet voice of Dimitrov,
sounded the call to all the working people in every country
for unity to defeat fascism and war. The decade of the nine-
teen-thirties became the decade of the greatest popular move-
ment of unity yet known, led by the communists everywhere,
to check the advancing offensive of fascism and of war. CHAPTER IX



"The Communist International puts no conditions for

unity of action except one, and that an elementary condi-
tion acceptable for all workers, viz., that the unity of
action be directed against fascism, against the offensive
of capital, against the threat of war, against the class
enemy. This is our condition."
GEORGI DIMITROV, Report to the Seventh Con-
gress of the Communist International, August, 1935.

From 1933 onwards until the outbreak of the European war

in 1939 the question of the united front against fascism and
war dominated the situation of the international working-class
movement, and was the crucial question for the outcome of
the increasingly menacing world situation of the nineteen-


The victory of fascism in Central Europe reflected the
sharpening of the crisis of capitalism and class contradictions
after the world economic crisis and breakdown of the tem-
porary stablisation of the twenties.
Simultaneously the sharpening of imperialist antagonisms
led to a new increasingly open drive to war, local wars and
aggressions, culminating in major war.
The distinctive feature of this drive to war during the
nineteen-thirties was that it was spearheaded by the countries
of fascist dictatorship. Thus the offensive of fascism and war uni~e:sality ne~er before known, stopped at the frontiers of
was inextricably linked, and the fight against both was equally socialism. The impetuous rate of economic growth ascended
linked. ever more rapidly, while it descended in the capitalist world.
Basically, the drive to a new world war during the nineteen- T~e .completioD: of the. construction of socialism by the mid-
thirties reflected the same inherent drive of imperialism to thirties was registered m the new constitution of 1936 which
war for the re-division of the world as during the period pre- had not fas.cism intervened to bring harsh new requirements:
ceding 1914. But its form differed in that the dissatisfied inl- had been mtended to introduce the relaxation and further
perialist powers, especially the defeated German imperialism, democratic extension that was in practice delayed in fulfil-
which were now most aggressively pressing for a re-division ment until the later nineteen-fifties.
of the world had become the countries of fascist dictatorship. The triumph of socialist co~struction and industrialisation
Hence the new war offensive took on the character of a fascist in the Soviet Union, and the consequent emergence of the
war offensive. Soviet Union as a major world power, meant that alongside
The imperialist powers in possession, on the other hand, the capitalist world powers there was now also a socialist
which h11d been the main victor powers in the First World wo~ld power as the main force on the side of peace. Fascism,
War, were inclined at first to see mainly the counter-revolu- whi~h .had de~eloped as the terrorist weapon of monopoly
tionary aspect of fascism, which they sought to stimulate and cap1t~sm agamst th~ c?mmunis~ movement, the organised
assist with all practical support, and even initially encouraged working class and socialism, saw its supreme aim as the con-
its aggression, not realising until too late that its point was que~ an~ de~truc.tio~ of th: first socialist state, and envisaged
also directed against themselves. also m this direction its roam field for expansion and limitless
Alongside these changes within the balance of the capitalist plunder and enslavement of a subject population. The fascist
world, the most important new feature of the international powers, Germany, Italy and Japan, organised themselves as
situation of the nineteen-thirties, in contrast to that preceding an "Anti-Com.intern Pact". This did not preclude their aim for
the First World War, was that it was no longer a single the prior subordination or conquest of the Western European
capitalist world. The first socialist state extended over one powers, who remained to the last fatally blind to the mortal
sixth of the land surface of the earth and united one twelfth danger confronting them.
of mankind. This new situation of the parallel existence of The Soviet Union was now able to act in the forefront of
capitalism and socialism had already begun at the end of the world politics on the side of peace. The Soviet Union joined
First World War. But the new socialist state was then still the League of Nations in 1934; proclaimed to the world from
very weak in terms of power, and had to win recognition jn the that forum the doctrine of ",indivisible peace" and collective
diplomatic field of international relations (by the United security against the fascist war offensive; signed treaties of
States not until 1933). By the mid-thirties, however, the mutual assistance with France and Czechoslovakia in 1935;
main construction of socialism had been completed; and this stoo_d by Spain, inclu~g the supply of arms and militaiy
transformed the world situation. adVJse~s;_offered to fight, if necessary, alone alongside Czecho-
In place of the derelict economy of 1920, which had fallen slovakia m the hour of the Munich betrayal in 1938; strove to
to one seventh the industrial level of even the former already the last for agreement with the Western powers in order to
backward and ~ependent Tsarist economy, there was now a bar the road to the Second World War; and only when the
major independent industrial power with collectivised agri- refusal o~ the Western powers made war inevitable, spiked
culture, and a united people, masters of the resources of their the. Munich Fom: Power Pact conspiracy against the Soviet
country, and among whom class divisions had come to an Umon by the Soviet-German Non-Agression Pact of 1939, and
end. The world economic crisis of capitalism, which ravaged thereby, even though it had now to be the hard wad
every country of the capitalist world with an extent and of experience for Britain and France to learn the lesson, made
possible the future alliance which in the end won the victory The Seventh Congress of the Communist International in
over fascism. the summer of 1935 rose to the height of the challenge of this
international situation, and charted the path forward for man-
2. THE FIGHT FOR THE UNITED FRONT AGAINST FASCISM AND WAR kind in this hour of ordeal and danger. The Seventh Congress,
Such was the complex international situation of the nine- with the report of Dimitrov on fascism and the struggle for the
teen-thirties within which the international working-class unity of the working class against- fascism, and the report of
movement had to find its path in the fight against fascism Togliatti on the question of war, elaborated the lines for:
and war. (1) the united working-class front . against fascism, to
It was necessary to build up the united working-class front, include agreements between social-democratic and com-
with specifi.c agreements between the social-democratic and munist parties' and trade unions, and also all workers' organi-
communist parties as its core, against fascism and the offen- sations, Catholic, syndicalist, anarchist or other;
sive of fascism. (2) the united anti-fascist people's front, including the
It was necessary to build up the broadest unity of all sec- working peasants, urban petty bourgeoisie, intelligentsia and
tions of the people, including the middle strata, all progres- office employees;
sive supporters and the intellectuals, and all parties willhi~ to (3) the united anti-imperialist people's front in colonial
participate in a broad popular front around the ce~tral pillar countries;
of working-class unity for resistance to the offensive of fas- (4) the perspective, in conditions of political crisis and
cism. upsurge of the mass movement, of establishing a working
It was necessary to combine the fight against the offensive class united front government or an anti-fascist people's front
of fascism within each country with the fight against the war government, which would not yet be a government of
offensive of fascism; for active support of the people of every working-class dictatorship, but would be prepared to put
country subjected to fascist aggression; for collective security into effect decisive measures against fascism and reactioni
against the fascist war offensive; for support of the peace (5) the further perspective of advancing to a single united
policy of the Soviet Union; and for a peace alliance of states mass political party of the working class in every country on
prepared to cooperate ~th the Sovie~ Union in mak~g the basis of five indispensable conditions : (a) complete
a stand against the fascist war offensive and preventing independence from the bourgeoisie; (b) prior achievement of
a second world war. united action of the working class; (c) recognition of the aim
In the fight for these aims the international communist of overthrow of the rule of the bourgeoisie and establishment
movement fulfilled its responsibilities with honour. The role of the dictatorship of the proletariat; (d) rejection of support
of the international communist movement in all countries dur- of one's own bourgeoisie in imperialist war; (e) democratic
ing these crucial years of the ni~eteen-~irties, jn the. fight centralism;
for working-class and popular umty agamst the offensive of (6) the united people's front in the struggle for peace and
fascism and war, belongs to the historical record of these against the instigators of war, with the specific naming of the
years. main instigators of war at the given time as the fascist powers
The first volunteers and the first and heaviest casualities beaded by Nazi Germany and Japan; for the defence of the
everywhere in the fight against fascism were the communists. U.S.S.R.; and for the support of national liberation struggles
Losses were heavy-long before the nations of the world and wars of national liberation, including wars of peoples in a
had awoken to unite in the fight against fascism. In the fulHl- weak state attacked by a big imperialist power against such
ment of this role the communist parties grew rapidly in .all attack and for national independence.
countries, both in numbers and in the respect and affection The Seventh Congress was the last Congress of the Com-
of the peoples. munist International. At this Congress the International,
representing now a very considerable development of the 10 to 73 and the Socialist from 101 to 148. A Socialist and
communist movement throughout the world, performed R~dical coalition government was formed under the premier-
a high role in the fulfilment of its responsibility of leadership ~p of ~e we~-kneed reformist soc~alist Blum. This govern~
to the international working class :and the peoples of the world roent did not mclude the Commwusts. Blum rapidly went
to meet the new problems of the world situation. back on the reforms introduced, and shamefully allowed him-
self to be used by the British Foreign Office to appear as
3. POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES OF THE UNITED FRONT the sponsor of the criminal "non-intervention" policy in
AND THE PEOPLE'S FRONT 193~, b>: w~ch the Spanish lef?al Republican Government was
The fulfilment of this broad strategic line indicated by the denied its nght to arms, while German: and Italian fascism
~e.v~nth Congress of the Communist International, already poured in armies and arms for its overthrow. Finally he
initiated before the Seventh Congress (with the approach of handed over in 1937 to the Radical leader Chautemps, and
the Communist International in March, 1933, to the Second after a short second Ministry in 1938 to the Radical Daladier,
International for a united front .against fascism), and further who later became one of the criminals of Munich.
developed and amplified after it, is bound up with the history This .experience showed both the strength and weakness of
of. ea.ch party and of the working-class and popular movement the uruted front and popular front. The strength, insofar as
within each country, as well as with the great campaigns con- the ~obili~ati~n _of the overwhelming majority of the people
ducted on an international scale. on this basis did m fact bar the road to fascism, so that fascism
In France in February, 1934, when the fascist armed forma- could only come to power in France under the heels of the
tion Croix de Feu tried to repeat Hitler's conquest of power invading Nazi armies. The weakness, insofar as the mobilisa-
and marched on the Chamber of Deputies to remove the pas- tion and political consciousness of the mass movement was
sive and inert Daladier bourgeois "left bloc" government not yet sufficient to overcome the vacillations and treacheries
which promptly resigned to make way for the ultra-right of the reformist leadership.
Doumergue "Cabinet of National Concentration", the French In Austria in February, 1934, when Dollfuss established his
working class immediately responded to the call of the Com- fascist dictatorship, although the Social-Democratic leader-
munist Party for a giant demonstration on February 9, which ship, as in ?ennany, counselled passivity and negotiation, and
was held in the face of the government ban and the mobili- onl.r the still weak Communist Party called for resistance, the
sation of 40,000 troops and police to break it up, resulting in social-democratic workers organised in the prohibited
ten workers killed and many wounded. The united front Defence Corps, entered into a united front in a number of
swept forw~rd. On February I~ the general strike, called by localities, against the orders of their leaders, and embarked,
the revolutionary and refomust trade union leaderships, again against the express orders of their leaders, on a heroic
brought out four million workers. On July 14 the march of anned struggle which in Vienna held at bay the troops of the
half a million in Paris was headed by the leaders of the Com- fascist Heimwehr for four days. Subsequently the Social-
munist, Socialist and Radical-Socialist Parties. In July, 1934, Democratic leader, Otto Bauer, admitted that, if the full
the united front pact was signed between the Communist str~ngth of the working class had been mobilised, if a general
Party and the Socialist Party, followed by the first steps to the strike had been called in time, and if the railwaymen had
formation of the People's Front in October, and the unification not continued in accordance with the orders of the reformist
of the trade union movement in the single Confederation of trade unio~ leadership to run the trains and carry the troops
Labour, completed by the spring of 1936. of .the fascist government to suppress the rising even at the
In the general election of April, 1936, the People's Front of h.e1ght of the battle, the victory could have been won. Refer-
the Communist, Socialist and Radical parties won an absolute nng to the decisive moment of the opening of the crisis in
majority, with the Communist representation increasing from March, 1933, when, according to Bauer, "the masses of the
workers were awaiting the signal for battle", he admitted in his Government remained passive and hesitant, until it was re-
subsequent review of the events : "At that time we might placed in September by a new People's Front government
have won. But we shrank dismayed from the battle.... under the trade union leader and left socialist, Caballero, and
We postponed the fight, because we wanted to spare the with the participation of two Communist Minister~. Then at
country the disaster of a bloody civil war. The civil war, last active resistance was organised, and the Republican army
nevertheless, broke out eleven months later, but under condi- built up to counter the fascist armies.
tions that were considerably less favourable to ourselves. It The subsequent history of the Spanish war from 1986 to
was a mistake-the most fatal of all our mistakes" (Otto Bauer, 1939 became the centre of the international situation during
The Rising of the Austrian Workers published in English those years. Here were tried out the armies and weapons and
under the title Austrian Democracy Under Fire). Yet although strategic methods of German and Italian fascism for later use
this fatal role of the reformist social-democratic leader- for the conquest of Europe. Here was revealed the infamy of
ship made possible the victory of fascism, the united the British and French rulers in strangling even the legal
front armed struggle of the communist and many social demo- supply of arms to the ~egal democratic. Sp~nish government,
cratic workers in those days of February, 1934, under the most in violation of international law, and winking at (at first even
difficult and disorganised conditions, to defeat fascism saved pretending to deny) the pouring in of troops and ·arms by
the honour of the Austrian working class and provided to that Germanandltalianfascism to invade Spain. The Labour Party
extent a contrast to the unhappy defeat without a battle of the conference was also mobilised in support of this policy in 1936
German working class. and by the time rank and file oposition compelled a reversal
In Spain, following the democratic revolution of 1931 and in the autumn of 1937, it was too late to reverse the disastrous
the initial refusal by the Socialist Party of the united front pro- consequences of the support of this policy during the initial
posals of the Communist Party, the revolutionary mass crucial year. The Communist International appealed to the
struggle of united action below flamed into the general strike Second International for a united front in support of Spanish
and armed uprising in the Asturias in October, 1934, which democracy against fascism. The Soviet Government fought in
held the government troops at bay for .fifteen days and was the forefront for the legal rights of the Spanish democratic
only crushed with wholesale butchery and 80,000 arrests. By government, and when this was denied, and the military inter-
1935, on the initiative of the Communist Party, the Peoples vention of the fascist powers continued with the coil:nivance
Front was organised, uniting the Communist and Socialist of the Western powers, gave practical support to Spanish
and Republican and other parties, as well as the Trade Union democracy under attack. The Communist parties in all coun-
Federation and important regional organisations. The People's tries united with all progressive democrats, irrespective of
Front won the elections of February 1936, with an absolute party affiliation, to organise support for Spanish democracy
majority of 253 seats against 218 for the remaining parties against fascism. Anti~fascist volunteers from the widest range
of the riight and the centre. By July the fascist counter-revolu- of countries fought alongside their Spanish comrades. The
tionary coup was launched under Franco and other generals, Spanish anti-fascist war was the opening stage in Europe of
With the backing of all the forces of reaction and the direct the international war of the peoples against fascism which
guidance and leading role of the German and Italian fascist finally reached its full range in June, 1941.
dictatorships providing troops, arms and bombing planes. In Britain the rigid hostility of the top leadership of the
The weak government of Republican and Socialist Ministers Labour Party and Trades Union Congress to the united front
under the Republican Premier Azafia had ignored the warn- could not prevent the rising mass movement of the widest
ings of the Communist Party on the counter-revolutionary sections of the people, with the vanguard role of the Com-
plot and the necessity to remove the generals before they munist Party, against fascism and for peace. The united mass
could stage their coup. Even after the coup the Azana movement fought the offensive of Mosley fascism to a stand-
still, despite the obvious connivance of the National Govern. at the last moment on behalf of the Trades Union Congress
ment, the police and the magistrates to seek to enforce and in practice saved him. The subsequent fight around
acceptance of fascist gangster provocations by the people and Munich (which was only opposed at the time, and not after
to penalise anti-fascist resisters, and despite the repeated the event, by the Communist Party and the Communist
admonitions of the top leadership of the Labour Party and representative in Parliament, William Gallacher) belongs to
Trade Union Congress, along the same lines as the disastrous the history of the British political situation and the descent
record of German Social-Democracy, calling for passivity of into the war.
the people in face of fascist provocation to leave to the fascists In China, where the conditions arose for the realisation of
unchallenged domination of the streets. The climax of this the national anti-imperialist people's front envisaged by the
struggle was reached in 1936, when the loudly publicised Seventh Congress of the Communist International, the Com-
march of Mosley's storm troopers through East London was munist Party, after the epic achievement of the Long March
stopped by the people of London, despite an unprecedented of 1934-35 and the establishment of the base of the liberated
massing of police to force acceptance of the march. In regions in Shensi, in 1936 proposed to Chiang Kai Shek the
January, 1937, a united front agreement was reached be- formation of a broad national front against the Japanese in-
tween the Communist Party, the Independent Labour Party vaders. Chiang refused; but after his capture at the end of
and the Socialist League, the leaders of the latter body includ- 1936, and the generous terms offered by the Chinese Commun-
ing Cripps of the Labour Party Executive. When the Labour ists, at length in 1987 the agreement for the united national
Party ban led to the dissolution of the Socialist League, a front was signed. In practice Chiang and the clique around
campaign for the People's Front was opened by Cripps and him by no means kept to the agreement, so that the brunt of
Bevan of the Labour Party Executive, together with many the struggle against the Japanese invaders fell on the national
prominent Labour, trade union and Liberal leaders, the Com~ movement and armies led by the Communists, while Chiang
munist Party, and many progressive representatives con- regarded the Communists and popular movement led by them
cerned to stop the disastrous Chamberlain policy of "appease- as his main enemy and directed his main offensive against
ment" of fascism. Cripps and Bevan were expelled from the them. Thus during the. succeeding years the Chinese Com-
Labour Party for their pains. The movement for peace against munists were continually faced with a struggle on two fronts,
the fascist war offensive won very wide support. This was against the Japanese invaders and against the treacherous
reflected in the International Peace Campaign, initiated in attacks of Chiang's forces. Nevertheless through all the
Britain, and organised in countries all over the world. A vicissitudes and variations of this complex situation the
Peace Ballot organised under the auspices of the League of Chinese Communist Party became established in the eyes
Nations Association won eleven million signatures; and six of the people as the true representative of the national
million of these declared support for collective security to interests of the entire people, and the way was thereby
include armed resistance, if necessary. The British Battalion prepared for the future victory of the Chinese People's
of the Intemational Brigade reached such wide support that Revolution.
Attlee, Leader of the Labour Party, was honoured to be The Communist International throughout these years
invited to go out to Spain to greet the volunteers and accept directly took the initiative to approach the Second Inter-
the offer for a company of the Battalion to be named after national for cooperation and joint action against fascism and
him. When Foreign Minister Eden resigned in the spring of thefascistwaroffensive.Such appeals were made in February,
1938 through disagreement with the policy of Chamberlain 1933, after Hitler came to power; in October, 1934, in sup-
in relation to Mussolini, the resultant height of popular port of the Asturias workers; in September, and again in
demonstration and demand for a change of government could October, 1935, against Mussolini's war on Ethiopia; in
have brought down Chamberlain, had not Citrine intervened October1 1936, on behalf of Republican Spain; in June, 1937

(after the bombing of Almeria by a fascist squadron) again on

behalf of Republican Spain.
The Second International opposed the united front and at
first banned any agreement by affiliated parties with com-
munist parties. After the official united front agreement of the
French Socialist and Communist Parties the Second Inter-
national had to lift this ban, and a minority declaration was
published on behalf of a section on the Executive favour-
ing the united front. In October, 1936, following the appeal CHAPTER X
of the Communist International for joint action in support of
Republican Spain, a meeting of representatives did take place;
but no agreement for joint action was reached. After the SOCIALIST ACHIEVEMENT AND
appeal of June, 1937, a meeting of representatives of the two PROBLEMS BEFORE THE SECOND
Internationals took place in Annemasse, on which the workers WORLD WAR
placed great hopes; but no agreement for joint action or for
mobilisation of the peoples for aid to Spain followed. "The historical dividing line between the forces of
The record of these years thus revealed that, despite the fascism, war and capitalism on the one hand, and the
heroic united mass struggles which took place, and the signi- forces of peace, democracy and socialism on the o~er
ficant partial successes in the fight for the united front, the hand, is in fact becoming the attitude towards the SoVIet
campaign for the united front against facism and against the Union, and not the formal attitude towards Soviet power
fascist war offensive was not able to reach sufficient strength and socialism in general, but the attitude to the Soviet
to be capable of preventing the Second World War. But it Union which has carried on a real existence for twenty
laid the foundations for the indomitable struggles of the years."
resistance movements of the peoples in the countries overrun GEORGI DIMITROV, On the Twentieth Anniversary
by fascism, and for the eventual world alliance of the peoples of the U.S.S.R., November 6, 1937.
with the Soviet Union which made possible the final victory
over the war bloc of fascism. The dangerous world situation, following the advent of
Nazism to power in Germany and the development of the
extending fascist war offensive, which brought so many
critical problems for the international working-class move-
ment, brought also new and grave problems for the first
socialist state, the Soviet Union.
The decade of the nineteen-thirties was for the Soviet Union
at once a period of high achievement and of serious negative
features cutting across the proud record of achievement.
On the one hand, the decade saw gigantic advances. The
building of socialism was completed. For the first time in his-
tory a socialist society now existed and functioned over one
sixth of the earth. The strength of the Soviet Union was built
up which was able to withstand and finally defeat the assault
of Naz.ism.
On the other hand, the dangerous international situation the beginning of 1933 ahead of time in four years and three
found reHection in serious negative features. The pace of months. The completion of this first Five Year- Plan had suc-
industrialisation and rearmament was forced forward at a cessfully laid the foundations of socialist economy in the Soviet
harsh and relentless tempo to meet the dangerous inter- Union. By its achievement the Soviet Union had been con-
national situation, with consequent limitation in garnering the verted from a backward agrarian country to a developed in-
fruits of socialism; vigilance against foreign agents and fascist dustrial country. By 1932 the volume of output of large-scale
penetration was accompanied by ruthless quelling of internal industry was already more than three times the level of 1913
opposition or suspected opposition, to such a degree that large and more than double the level of 1928. Vast new industrial
numbers of loyal Soviet citizens and devoted communists enterprises had been established for the production of iron
suffered unjustly; and in these emergency conditions and steel, tractors, automobiles and aircraft. At the same time
dangerous violations of socialist legality and democracy took the completion of agricultural collectivisation, although it had
place. been undoubtedly accompanied by excesses in forcing the
Both the positive and the negative features of this period pace, which became the target of criticism at the time, and
were closely associated with the leading role of Stalin by violence in expropriating the kulaks, as well as by lteavy
as Gener.al Secretary of the Communist Party. initial losses in livestock, did in fact achieve a qualitative
Any review of the record of this period and its problems change without precedent in history, the transition from
belongs to the history of the Soviet Union. But the problems ancient traditional petty peasant fanning to a solidly based
are inevitably bound up with the history of the international large-scale collective farm system, with state machine and
communist movement, since the Soviet Union was the fortress tractor stations to supply up-to-date agricultural machinery.
of socialism confronting fascism and the capitalist world, and In contrast to the fifty million unemployed in the capitalist
every section of the international communist movement was world during the period of the first Five Year Plan, full em-
engaged in the fight on behalf of the Soviet Union and its ployment was achieved for the first time in any country in the
party, represented on an international scale by the political world, and the employment exchange buildings were trans-
leadership of Stalin, against fascism and the pro-fascist ferred to other uses, as they were no longer needed.
"appeasers" and the apologists of the fascist filth column or The second Five Year Plan, initiated in 1933, and also ful-
anti-Soviet slanderers. filled ahead of time, by April, 1937, completed the construc-
Hence some of the features of this record need here to be tion of socialist economy, equally in industry and agriculture,
taken into account, insofar as they are linked with the general in the Soviet Union. By 1937 total industrial output was more
problems of the international working-class movement and than double the level of 1932 and eight times the level of 1913.
the international fight against fascism. Collective agriculture was finnly established, drawing in 93
per cent of peasant households, and equipped with 456,000
1. SOCIALISM VICTORIOUS AND TIIE PEACE POLICY OF 11tE SOVIET tractors and 129,000 combine-harvesters. The national income
UNION. was more than doubled during the period of this plan; the
The same decade which saw the ravages of the worst world wages and salaries fund increased two and a half times, dis-
economic crisis in capitalist history, and the placing of Nazi tributed among less than one filth more workers and
barbarism in power in the most developed industri9.l state of employees; the money incomes of collective farms increased
capitalist Emope saw the victorious completion of the con- more than threefold. The number of students in higher educa-
struction of socialism in the Soviet Union. tional institutions reached half a million.
The first Five Year Plan, which set the original example and With the completion of the construction of socialism the
precedent for hundreds of subsequent "five year plans" also final elimination of the division of exploiting and exploited
in capitalist countries all over the world, was completed by classes, and its replacement by the cooperation of friendly
classes, the working class, the peasantry and the intelligentsia, Soviet Union was under the necessity, alongside its efforts for
engaged jointly in building and carrying forward socialism, peace and for a common front against fascist. aggression, to
found expression in the new Socialist Constitution of 1936, build up its industrial and military strength to meet such an
which replaced the previous class weighting of the franchise onslaught. This meant a forced pace of industrialisation, with
to exclude exploiters and ensure the dominant position of the special emphasis on military rearmament; and extreme
industrial working class, by equal universal suffrage, with the security measures against enemy penetration. It was in this
Soviets no longer indirectly elected, but directly elected by abnormal emergency situation, reftecting the dangerous .inter-
universal suffrage and the secret ballot. . national situation arising from the reactionary and war trends
Such was the developing socialist society which had to con- of the outside capitalist world, that the 'serious negative fea-
front the hostility and menace of a capitalist world lurching tures developed in the internal situation in the Soviet Union.
into fascism and the fascist war offensive.
In the face of this offensive the Soviet Union was in the 2. REARMAl\l!ENT AND THE COSTS OF REARMAMENT
forefront of efforts for peace and disarmament throughout this The conquest of Central Europe by fascism, with the exten-
period, and, as the fascist war offensive advanced, for collec- sion of fascist dictatorships along all the Western borders of
tive resistance to halt fascist ~ggression and prevent a second the Soviet Union, and especially the establishment of the Nazi
world war. The record of the Soviet Union in this critical militarist-terrorist dictatorship in Germany, with the openly
international situation was the counterpart of the parallel proclaimed aim of a war of aggression and conquest for the
striving of the international working class and democratic destruction of the Soviet Union, and the unconcealed enthus-
movement, with the communist parties in the forefront, for iasm of reactionary ruling circles in the West for this
the united front against fascism and war. This record found project, constituted the gravest problem for the Soviet Union
expression in the League of Nations, through the representa- since the critical days of the civil war and wars of intervention.
tive role of Litvinov; the proposals for disarmament; the aid to Indeed, the problem and menace was in many respects
China against the Manchurian offensive of Japanese military graver than in those early days. In the wars of intervention
fascism; the Franco-Soviet and Czech-Soviet Pacts; the aid to the Western powers, with armies exhausted by four years of
the Spanish Democratic Government against the German- world war, affected by revolutionary sentiments, and conduct-
Italian fascist aggression; the steadfast stand by Czecho- ing strikes and mutinies for rapid demobilisation, had not in
slovakia at the time of the Munich betrayal; the ceaseless fact the forces to be capable of successfully fuIBlling their
efforts, even up to the very latest point of danger, to achieve a malignant wills. The solidarity of the Western working class,
Three-Power Mutual Security Agreement between Britain, especially of the German working class through the revolu-
France and the Soviet Union, which could have prevented tion of 1918, was able to give practical help to the indomitable
the Second World War. All this has been brieHy reviewed in struggle of the Soviet people. Thus, although the Soviet armed
the preceding chapter, and will be examined more fully in power was at the outset in a condition of breakdown and dis-
considering t1ie prelude to the Second World War. organisation, and even after reorganisation had to fight with
It is against this background of triumphant socialist achieve- the most inadequate equipment, the revolution prevailed
ment at home, and of pre-eminent sponsorship of the cause against all the efforts both of the vastly more powerful Ger-
of peace and collective resistance to fascist aggression in the man imperialism and of the still more powerful Western
international field, that need to be seen the parallel unfavour- imperialism. The wheelbarrow, as Lenin said, got by because
able and unhappy developments in the internal situation the formidable high-powered locomotive engines threatening
which accompanied and marred this record. to overrun it were themselves locked in collision.
In the face of the open threats of the fascist war offensive In the. new situation the "wheelbarrow" would no longer
and its backers in the other Western imperialist countries, the be sufficient. Repeated schemes for renewed Western im-
perialist intervention, especially after Locarno and in the She was beaten because to beat her was profitable and
open provocation of 1927, came up against the obstacle every could be done with impunity. . . . ·
time that, so long as the power of the German working class "Such is the law of capitalism-to beat the backward
remained unbroken, the base for a decisive war was insecure, and the weak. The jungle law of capitalism. You are back-
since the cordon sanitaire of White Guard dictatorships estab- ward, you are weak, so you are wrong; hence you. can
lished on the borders of the Soviet Union could not serve be beaten and enslaved. You are mighty, so you are nght;
independently for a successful aggressive strategy, as the hence we must be wary of you....
experiment to use Poland for the purpose in 1920 had shown. "We are fifty to one hundred years behind the ad-
Hence the policy of Western reaction became first to smash vanced countries. We must cover this distance in ten
the power of the German working class, and for this purpose years. Either we do this or they will crush us."
the Nazi dictatorship was established in Germany with the · (J. V. Stalin, speech to the first All-Union Conference
aid of the Western powers, both by direct subsidies from of Managers of Soviet Industry, February 4, 1931)
Western finance-capital, and by deliberate connivance over Ten years. That points forward to 1941. In 1941 the on-
the violations of the Versailles Treaty through the building up slaught came of the most powerful milita~ mac~ne . yet
of illegal reactionary armed formations. known, which had swept the French and Bntish arnues mto
From this moment the problem confronting the Soviet headlong rout, an oHensive delivered with 190 divisions,
Union was the prospect of an impending attack, no longer by backed by all the resources of the whole Continental Europe
some dispersed outlying forces of exhausted imperialist outside the Soviet Union. No wonder the entire capitalist
powers preoccupied with other problems, but by the full con- world counted on the collapse of the Soviet Union within a
centrated strength of the most advanced industrial and mili- few weeks. Stalin's prediction of the date by which the Soviet
tary power in Europe, with an elaborately organised internal Union would require to have accomplished an industrial and
counter-revolutionary discipline, and backed in practice by military advance with seven-league boots at a rate un·
the ruling classes of the West. paralleled in history during one decade, in order to be pre-
Already before the final installation of Hitler in power, in pared for the coming onslaught and not be crushed, proved
1931, with the advent of the world economic crisis ending remarkably accurate.
stabilisation and b1inging the prospect of a new era, as the The impossible was achieved during that decade-even
Sixth Congress of the Communist International had pre- though the cost was heavy. The heroism and sacrifice of the
dicted, of international collisions, Stalin had given explicit Soviet people during the nineteen-thirties paralleled the
warning of the herculean task confronting the Soviet people heroism and sacri£ces of the revolution and the civil wars and
to be prepared for such a major assault and war within a short interventionist wars, or of the great patriotic war which fol-
space of years; lowed, in accomplishing against every obstacle this miracle of
"To slacken the pace means to fall behind. And the economic achievement and military rearmament, no less than
backward are always beaten. But we do not want to be in tireless vigilance to check every weakness, faintheartedness
beaten. . . . The history of old Russia is the history of or attempted penetration by the enemy-even though the
defeats due to baclnvardness. She was beaten by the human cost was great, and heartbreaking self-inflicted injuries
Mongol Khans. She was beaten by the Turkish beys. She were also caused in the conditions of strain of this superhuman
was beaten by the Polish-Lithuanian squires. She was effort. But the miracle was achieved.
beaten by the Anglo-French capitalists.Shewasbeatenby Other nations may have slept. The Soviet Union did not
the Japanese barons. All beat her for her backwardness; sleep. From the moment of Hitler's coming to power the
for military backwardness; for cultural backwardness; for Soviet Union understood the danger-signal and more than
industrial backwardness; for agricuJtural backwardness. trebled its arms expenditure during the very next year,
nearly doubled it again in the next year, nearly doubled nineteen-thirties which made possible the further gigantic
this increased figure yet again in the following year, and so on expansion and achievement during the war, so that, alongside
right up to the outbreak of war. Here is the table of Soviet the large and valuable supplies from the United States and
rearmament preparation during these critical years : Britain, no less than 96 per cent of the total of tanks, artillery,
SOVIET ARMS EXPENDITURE 1933-1939 aircraft and other weapons of war used by the ~oviet arm~d
million roubles forces during the Second World War were supplied by SoVIet
1933 1,500 industry.
1934 5,000 But the cost was heavy. After the years of strain and
1935 8,000 shortage, after the seven years of imperialis.t war an~ c~vil
1936 14,800 wars and interventionist wars, after the pamful rebwlding
1937 20,100
from the shattered foundations of the country's economy,
1938 27,000 after the back-breaking effort of the first Five Year Plan to
1939 40,800 begin large-scale industrialisation without any foreign aid or
capital, and the harsh class strains of agricultural coll~ctivi­
A multiplication by twenty-seven times during these seven sation, which ended forever the threat of a kulak revi:aI of
years between 1933 and 1939. The Soviet Union did not sleep. capitalism, but was pushed through at a forced pace m the
Here was laid the foundation of the strength which was to ceaseless race against time, it was natural that there should
save the world. have been a universal desire and expectation for some years
This does not mean that the military preparedness was of relief and relaxation and opportunity to enjoy the fruits of
adequate when the final shock of the Nazi assault came in all these efforts and sacrifices. "Life is becoming more joyous,"
June, 1941. The military higher command had been weakened was the popular theme song which reflected the first signs of
by the purging of a number of outstanding generals and senior the new abundance following from the construction of
officers during the period of excesses of the security organs socialism. In this spirit, too, the preparations had been put
before the war. Although military units had been concen- in hand for drawing up the new liberalising constitution,
trated on the western frontier as a precaution against attack which was actually adopted in 1936, to remove many restric-
during the period 1989-41, and had been further reinforced tions of the period of the battle of revolution and counter-
after the signing of the neutrality treaty with Japan in April, revolution and correspond to the character of the new society
1941, on the eve of the Nazi offensive the intelligence without class divisions.
reports of Nazi military concentration and manifest prepara- Across all these hopeful signs the black shadow of fascism
tions for an offensive were discountenanced by Stalin as Com- swept from Western Europe. Fascism was not the fault of the
mander-in-Chief on political grounds as a provocation Soviet people. Fascism was the guilty consequence of the
designed to draw the Soviet Union into acts which would political weakness, reformist iJlusions and spinelessness and
serve the Western imperialist aim of a German-Soviet conflict. direct betrayals by the social-democratic leadership of the
Further, as often happens when a country after a period of working-class movement in the vVest, who had not only failed
relative absence of hostilities is suddenly launched into major to win power themselves and end capitalism, but had let this
war, there were found to be deficiencies of equipment and hideous monster grow in their midst to threaten the world.
insufficient modem tanks and aircraft. It was only following But it was the Soviet people who had to pay most heavily,
the outbreak of hostilities, after key territories and industrial both in the war which followed, when they had to make the
regions had been lost, that industry was fully mobilised and main sacrifices to destroy fascism, and in the harsh ordeals of
converted to war production. Nevertheless, it was the foun- the years of preparedness during the nineteen-thirties. In
dations of the war industries and rearmament laid during the place of relaxation, there had to be new restrictions, forgo-
ing of many otherwise possible immediate material benefits, Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet
intensification of effort and sacri£ce to be capable of confront- Union declared in its resolution of June, 1956:
ing the new foul monster which capitalism had engendered. "This complicated international and internal situation
demanded an iron discipline, a continuously growing
3. EMERGENCY REGIME vigilance and the strictest centralisation of leadership,
Political emergency measures had also to be taken. Fascism which could not help but have a negative effect on the
boasted of having its "fifth column" in every country. The development of certain democratic forms. In the course
experience of the war, with its crop of Quislings in every of a fierce struggle against the whole world of imperial-
country overrun by fascism, except the Soviet Union, proved ism our country had to submit to certain restrictions of
the truth of this. In no country was fascism more concerned democracy, justified by the logic of our people's struggle
to build its fifth column than in the Soviet Union, the land for socialism under circumstances of capitalist environ-
of socialism, the main tariget of fascist aggressive aims and ment. But these restrictions were at that time regarded by
dreams of conquest. But in the Soviet Union alone fascism the Party and the people as temporary, subject to removal
failed. As Lord Avon, then Anthony Eden, testified: as the Soviet state grew stronger and the forces of
"In all the territory that Hitler has overrun there is not democracy and socialism developed the world over. The
one Russian Quisling." people consciously assumed these temporary sacrifices,
(Anthony Eden, broadcast, January 4, 1942) seeing as they did new successes of the Soviet social
Similarly Churchill : system every day."
"Hitler had hoped to find Quislings, fifth columnists in In the operation of such an emergency regime, and
the wide Soviet regions he oven-an. He looked for them, especially in the operation of security organs with powers,
he searched for them, but he found none." however indispensable for the maintenance of the socialist
(Winston Churchill, broadcast, February 16, 1942) state in the midst of a hostile capitalist environment and cease-
This does not mean that there were no weaklings, deserters less attempted penetration, there was always the risk of abuse
or traitors in the population of the vast regions overrun by of such powers by individuals and in particular cases, and
Nazism. But whereas in all the other occupied countries of therefore the necessity of ceaseless vigilance against such a
Europe the Nazis were able to find leading political figures risk. Lenin well understood this risk and the necessity of vigi-
(Petains, Lavals, Quislings etc.) to constitute collaborationist lance when he said :
governments to serve them, in the case of the occupied Soviet "It is not at all surprising to hear the activities of the
territories they had to import Quislings from White emigre Extraordinary Commissions attacked, not only by
leaders who had taken refuge in Berlin eighteen to twenty enemies, but often enough by friends too .... It is only
years earlier, and could only recruit underlings from among natural that the mistakes of the Extraordinary Commis-
Soviet prisoners or dispossessed kulaks. sions strike the eye most .... People harp on individual
This achievement was also won at a heavy cost. An emer- mistakes the Extraordinary Commissions make, and raise
gency regime had to be established with some limitation of the a howl and lamentation over them.
normal democratic processes. To deal with the stream of spies "We, however, say that we learn from our mistakes. In
and saboteurs and agents from the West, as well as with this field, as in all others, we say that we will learn by
vulnerable elements of corruption or treachery within the self-criticism. The root of the matter is not, of course, the
country, the security organs had to be strengthened and their personnel of the Extraordinary Commissions, but the
powers increased. Describing this background of the viola- nature of their functions, which demand determined,
tions of legality which subsequently took place, following the swift and, above all, unerring action. When I consider
murder of Kirov, alongside the successes of vigilance, the their function and see how they are attacked, I say that
this is all philistine and futile talk. It reminds me of why it was accepted at the time, in the belief that these mea-
Kautsky'shomilyonthe dictatorship, which is tantamount sures were necessary, by the Soviet people, was examined
to supporting the bourgeoisie.... subsequently in a ruthless analysis and self-criticism by the
"That alien elements should try to worm their way into Communist Party of the Soviet Union at its Twentieth Con-
the Extraordinary Commissions is quite natural. With the gress in 1956 and later, although there is no doubt that much
help of seH-criticism we shall get rid of them. The still remains to be cleared on the full record of the develop-
important thing for us is that the Extraordinary Com- ments of this period.
missions are directly exercising the dictatorship of the
proletariat, and in that respect their services are inestim- 4. THE ROLE OF STALIN
able." It is in the nature of the functioning of security organs
(Lenin, Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage, and organs of counter-espionage, to some extent in all coun-
speech to the staff of the All-Russian Extraordinary mes, but with sharper executive problems in a revolutionary
Commission, November 7, 1918) regime for the protection of the revolution, where powers of
With this understanding, equally of the indispensable im- immediate action may have to be assumed inappropriate for
portance of the work of the security organs and combating conditions of peacetime stability, that this functioning has to
counter-revolution, and of the dangers of mistakes and abuses be in the main secret, and the chain of immediate control has
arising or "alien elements" trying to "worm their way in", to be narrow. Hence, unless the control is very strict, there is
Lenin placed in the key position of charge of these functions always the danger of misuse of powers by individuals for per-
Dzerzhinsky, one of the noblest-hearted and most selfless of sonal or factional reasons. The experience of the resistance
revolutionaries in the records of Communism. With the same movements in the Nazi-occupied countries of Europe, and
deep understanding of the dangers inherent in such work their indispensable need to exercise very summary justice in
Lenin took the initiative to ensure that those who were given the case of treachery, weakness or passing on of information,
the charge of fulfilling the functions of the special political or even grave suspicion of the same, may aHord some analogy
police were simultaneously given the responsibility to look in a non-Russian context. In these conditions the pivotal role
after orphan children. and essential safeguard against abuse depends in the first
This system worked effectively enough, whatever the faults, place on the character of the man in charge at the top; and
until the era of fascism, and subsequently of the initial intense above him on the character, judgement and personality of the
phase of the cold war. But during this critical period, while highest political chief, whether Head of Government or
the essential task continued to be effectively accomplished, as General Secretary, to whom he reports; and only ultimately on
the outcome showed, much also was done which was the Central Committee or governing political body. During
grievously harmful and not justified by the emergency, and this critical period all these essential safeguards failed to fulfil
which reHected an abnormal phase of political functioning their function, that is, of combining the relentless execution
during this emergency period. Alongside the guilty many of every measure necessary for the protection of the revolution
innocent also suffered, and were arrested and sentenced either with vigilance against abuses. It should be noted that this dis-
to death or terms of imprisonment and exile in the camps, tortion of functioning did not take place during the period of
although in some cases they were only representatives of Lenin, nor during the period of Stalin's earlier leadership.
political dissent who were not guilty of criminal actions and Thus it was not inevitable or inherent in the system. The
therefore should not have been dealt with administratively, distortion took place in the period of fascism and the fight
or in other cases were outstanding revolutionary lighters against fascist penetration, and in the period of the initial
against whom no charge could be justified, and who have since most dangerous phase of the cold war and the fight against
been rehabilitated. How this state of affairs came about, and Western cold war penetration, until such time as the ending
of Western nuclear superiority made possible some relaxation political shortcoming. His criticism of Stalin folln;? no poli;,
of international tension. tical shortcoming, but pointed out that he was too rude
During this period the chiefs of security, were no longer and urged in consequence the transfer of the post of General
of the mould of a Dzerzhinsky, and were later adjudged Secretary to an alternative who would "differ from Comrade
criminally unworthy of their trust. But the key responsibility Stalin only by one advantage--namely, more tolerant, more
rested with the direct political control in the hands of the loyal, more polite, and more attentive to comrades, less
General Secretary; and this in tum depended on the character caprice, etc.". He added that this "may seem an insignificant
and personality of the General Secretary, J. V. Stalin, an~ the trifle", but that "from the point of view of what I have written
special position of authority he had come to occupy. It is about the relations of Stalin and Trotsky, it is not a trifle, or it
important to note that there was no formal decision of any is such a trifle as may acquire decisive importance". Thus
change in the constitution, either in respect of the govern- Lenin wished to see in the leading post held by Stalin one
ment, or in respect of the party, to give Stalin this special who would combine the political capacity of Stalin ("differ
authority. Initially he had earned it in practice by his record, from Comrade Stalin only by one advantage") with the quality
proved capacity of political leadership in the most difficult of being "more tolerant" to comrades. Unfortunately, after re-
conditions, and the consequent universal con£dence placed viewing the principal "other members of the Central Com-
in him. Thus at the outset Stalin's authority, which came to mittee", Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and Pyatakov, on all of
be in practice overriding in every sphere, was only based on whom he made severe strictures, he did not find it possible to
his recognised higher political capacity and strength of make a positive alternative recommendation. Stalin offered
leadership. But later this special authority was arti.fi.cally and his resignation from his post both to the Congress and to the
harmfully reinforced by gross violation of the normal provi- Central Committee; but the Thirteenth Congress, according
sions for the functioning and regular meeting of the higher to the official account published in Kommunist in 1956,
democratic organs of the party, and by administrative and decided to retain him as Secretary, takjng it that he would
coercive measures which took on a criminally extreme charac- "be able to correct his shortcomings"; and the Central Com-
ter. Such was the abnormal situation which developed during mittee elected by the Thirteenth Congress voted unanimously,
this period of emergency calling for the greatest heights of including with the vote of Trotsky, to maintain Stalin as
leadership and which the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet General Secretary.
, "
Communist Party subsequently analysed as the cult of During the subsequent critical years after the death of
personality", finding therein the root cause of the evils wID:ch Lenin, Stalin ful6lled an outstanding role of revolutionary
marred this period of heroic achievement of the SoVIet leadership of the party and the Soviet people in the collective
people. fulfilment of the gigantic tasks of building the first socialist
So it came about that the personal character and role of one society in history; of industrialisation and agricultural collec-
individual leader became during this prolonged abnormal tivisation (here harsher aspects began to creep in); of rearma-
period of emergency a decisive historical factor, both for good ment against fascism, of the complex diplomacy to seek to
and for evil. build an alliance against the war offensive of fascism or, fail-
Stalin was the fore~os_t revolutionary political le~der of ~~ ing that, to prevent a world capitalist and fascist alliance for
working class and socialism after the death of Lenw. Lerun s the destruction of the Soviet Union; of the supreme ordeal and
final letter of personal guidance, which was read to the dele- triumphintheSecond World War against fascism; and to meet
gates of the Thirteenth Con~ess after his death, singled out the complex: new problems of the international situation and
Stalin and Trotsky as the 'two outstanding leaders in the requirements of rapid technological advance after the Second
Central Committee" of the Communist Party. His criticism of World War. At the same time the Communist Party, with the
Trotskv referred to his record of "non-Bolshevism''-that is, a guidance of his leading role, canied forward in this way the
policies indicated by Lenin and routed the defeatist and began to be suspected everywhere. Lenin's warning proved
disruptive offensives conducted by successive opposition fac- justified. From this exceptional situation the cruel and harm-
tions associated with Trotsky, with Zinoviev and Kamenev, ful consequences followed, even at the same time as the giant
and later with Bukharin and Rykov. On the basis of this re- tasks were successfully achieved.
cord of epic achievement of the Soviet people under the
leadership of the Communist Party, with Stalin at its head, the 5. TIUALS AND PURGES
confidence in Stalin's judgement and leadership, and the The dangers of this combat in the dark against fascist fifth
popularity and political authority of Stalin, reached an un- column penetration and real or suspected plots were illustrated
paralleled high point, not only in the Soviet Union, but in the case of the Army leaders, Marshal Tukhachevsky and
throughout the world. The name of Stalin became identified others, who were executed after secret trials in the summer
with the triumph of socialism and the heroic achievement of of 1937, and were alleged to have entered into treasonable
the Soviet people in the Second World War. communication with the fascist powers. The incriminating
There is evidence that during the earlier years of this period evidence had been passed on by President Benes of Czecho·
Stalin paid heed to the warnings of Lenin. As late as the Fif- slovakia, who implicitly believed in its authenticity, as made
teenth Congress at the end of 1927, even after Trotsky, clear in his Memoirs written after the war, in which he
Zinoviev and Kiamenev had made their ill-fated attempt to in- recorded:
cite the masses in the street against the Soviet government, "In the middle of January, 1937, I received unofficial
and thereby incurred inevitable expulsion, Stalin came out to news from Berlin that the Prague conferences were con-
resist those who demanded strong measures against sup- sidered to have failed; I was also very confidentially in-
porters of the opposition with.in the party, and in his report to formed that Hitler was now carrying on other negotia-
the Congress warned against "introducing administrative tions which, if successful, might have some effect on our
methods in the party, and replacing the method of persuasion, affairs. We discovered from an unconscious slip of the
which is of decisive importance for the party, by the method tongue by Trauttmannsdorl that these 'other nego-
of administration". But subsequently he was carried away by tiations' were with the Soviet anti-Stalin conspirators-
his position of exceptional political authority to take on him- Marshal Tukhachevsky, Rykov and others. Hitler fully
self to an increasing extent personal decisions, or decisions believed these moves would be successful and therefore
with a very small inner group of the leadership, and to for the time being had no further interest in pressing con-
diminish the regular meeting and functioning of the demo- clusions in our case. The whole European situation would
cratic organs of the party. As the crisis years grew, and with truly have been altered had he succeeded in overturning
them the manifest strain of his realisation, indicated in his the Soviet regime. But Stalin acted in time. I immediately
speech of 1931 already quoted, of the superhuman efforts informedAlexandrovsky,Soviet minister in Prague, about
which would have to be made during the coming decade to what I had learned."
meet the impending test of 1941; and above all, as the shadow Similarly Churchill in his History cf the Second World War
of fascism darkened the horizon, and the investigations after also believed in the truth of the evidence and the justification
the murder of Kirov began to reveal the extent of attempted of the harsh measures taken: President Benes, Churchill
enemy penetration real and suspected; all the passionate and writes, was advised that if he wished
ruthless revolutionary intensity of his character, derived from "to take advantage of the Fuehrer's offer he had better
a lifetime of indomitable and for long illegal revolutionary be quick, because events would shortly take place in
activity, with the consequent training in universal suspicion Russia rendering any help he could give to Germany in-
and vigilance, manifested itself increasingly in relentless significant.
harshness to rout out and destroy the hidden enemy, who "While Benes was pondering over this disturbing hint,
he became aware that communications were passing mises of astronomical numbers of millions alleged to have
through the Soviet Embassy in Prague between important beensentenced. These surmises need to be regarded with some
personages in Russia and the German Government. This suspicion, not only because the factual basis is lacking, but
was a part of the so-called military and Old-Guard Com- because such a presumed mass scale of terror would have
munist conspiracy to overthrow Stalin and introduce a been incompatible with the overwhelming manifest
new regime based on a pro-German policy. President popularity of the regime and unity of the regime and the
Benes lost no time in communicating all he could find out people shown equally in the creative achievement of the
to Stalin. thirties and in the gruelling ordeal of the war. Here was no
"Thereafter there followed the merciless, but perhaps cowed population as under Hitler, but a revolutionary people
not needless, military and political purge in Soviet who had shown themselves capable of overthrowing the
Russia." tyranny of Tsarism, hurling back th~ ar_mi~s of ~e E~tente,
(Winston Churchill, History of the Second World War, and finally routing the supposed mvmc1ble blitzkrieg of
Vol. II. pp. 125-6) Hitler.
All this would indicate that the charges of treasonable com- The complete contrast with the terror regime of Nazism
munications, which might today sound incredible to modem was demonstrated by the experience of the war. When the
readers unacquainted with the conditions of the nineteen- Allied armies advanced into Nazi Germany, as soon as the
thirties, were not by any means regarded as incredible by official governing structure of Nazism fell, there was not a
leading and well-informed Western statesmen during those whimper of popular resistance. In the Soviet Union, wherever
dark and dangerous days. Yet in the case of the military chiefs the Nazi annies advanced with unexampled terror, the people
information has since become available, and has been officially in the rear of the Soviet .armies, so far from submitting, carried
announced in the Soviet Union, that the incriminating forward their fight for their Soviet regime in unvanquishable
evidence, whose supposed authenticity convinced Benes, partisan warfare. All the record~ of the Nazi invaders. now
Churchill and Stalin, and led to the execution of the military made available have revealed theu amazement and bewilder-
chiefs, was in reality poisoned evidence concocted by the Nazi ment over the intractable problem with which they were
secret service in order to create disruption and disorganise the faced, that here they found a unity between the people and
Soviet Aimy High Command. The costs of this were felt in regime which they had never before seen paralleled jn the
1941. Westem countries they had invaded.
Thus a question mark hangs over the justification or other- From this the conclusion may be drawn that the heavy hand
wise of all the arrests, purges, trials and sentences of this of the arrests and sentences during this period probably hit
period. Although an elaborate process of legal review has been mainly a special section, that is, among a serious proportion
conducted from 1953 onwards, and many partiaJ results in of the leading and middle cadres of the apparatus in the
particular cases have been published, as well as releases of bureaucracy and in the party. The direction of these blows
survivors who were still in the camps, no completed record may even have increased the confidence of the masses of the
of conclusions has so far been -available, giving comprehensive people in the leadership at the top and the role of Stalin, that
statistics of the numbers arrested, the numbers and types of there was no fear to deal, when necessary, even with those
sentences, and the subsequent findings, after review, of guilt who might regard themselves as too big and important to be
or innocence. It may well be that in the nature of the con- touched. Thus, as in other revolutionary periods, relentless
ditions and records, and with the passage of time, such a final executive action (though often unjustified) against prominent
comprehensive review is no longer possible. This has left the individuals suspected of counter-revolutionary aims or plots,
ground free for the not inconsiderable band of hostile anti- so fur from reflecting a general atmosphere of tyranny and
Soviet commentators to produce endless contradictory sur- enslavement, could be accompanied by a high level of mass
revolutionary enthusiasm and confidence in the leadership of way as the Kronstadt rising was in fact counter-revolutionary,
the regime. irrespective of the subjective intentions of the participants,
All this is no excuse for the evils, persecutions and injustices save that in the case of Trotsky's attempt in 1927 there was not
which took place, but only n help to understand how it was even a fragment of mass support.
possible that, in the midst of such heroic socialist achieve- 2) Subsequently, developing his analysis of the Soviet
ment of the entire socialist people, such evils could be toler- regime which was building socialism as ''Thermidor" or
ated, or accepted through belief in their necessity. "Bonapartism", he adopted the position that the Soviet gov-
ernment would have to be overthrown by force :
6. TROTSICYISM AND COUNTER-REVOLUTION "The bureaucracy can be compelled to yield power
A complicating factor in the tangled story of this era was into the h.ands of the proletarian vanguard only by force."
the political line promulgated during these critical years by (Trotsky, The Soviet Union and the Fourth Inter-
Trotsky from outside the Soviet Union and the illegal or national, 1933)
conspiratorial faction of his followers which he claimed to This, incidentally, is the same conclusion which Kautsky had
have organised inside the Soviet Union. proclaimed in 1930, when he published a book expressing the
Whatever the final verdict of history on the public trials extreme anti-Soviet social-democratic viewpoint, that Bol~
during 1936-38 of leading political figures, who were shevism had degenerated into Bonapartism, and that the
sentenced for alleged counter-revolutionary conspiracy in armed overthrow of the Soviet government should be sup-
association with Trotsky (no re-assessment of these trials has ported by all socialists.
so far been made in the course of the review of this period 3) Following the victory of Nazism in Germany, Trotsky
by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which alone combined this advocacy of the violent overthrow of the Soviet
has access to all the available information and evidence to µovernment with the view that the coming war would lead to
reach a judgement), there can be no question of the actual the inevitable defeat of the Soviet Union and collapse of the
political line which was put forward by Trotsky in his writ· Soviet regime (failing a revolution in the West), and that this
ings and given as his directive for his followers inside the would create the conditions for the violent overthrow of the
Soviet Union. This line was for the violent overthrow of the Soviet government :
Soviet Government, and openly calculated on an .impending "Can we expect that the Soviet Union will come out
military defeat of the Soviet Union by Nazism as providing the of the coming great war without defeat? To this frankly
opportunity. posed question we will answer as frankly. If the war
The final verdict on the trials, whose validity is disputed by should remain only a war, the defeat of the Soviet Union
many living, will rest with future historians. Leaving this would be inevitable. In a technical, economic and mili-
controversy aside, what can usefully be done is to assess the tary sense imperialism is incomparably more strong. If it
available evidence which is outside the sphere of dispute, is not paralysed by revolution in the West, imperialism
entirely apart from the disputed evidence of the trials, on the will sweep away the regime which issued from the
political position taken by Trotskyism during this period. On October revolution."
this certain facts are indisputable from his own actions and (Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, 1936, p. 216)
published writings. 4) Within the context of this "inevitable defeat of the Soviet
1) Since 1927, when, as already reported, Trotsky had Union" by fascism and Western imperialism, Trotsky looked
attempted, after failing to win support in the party, to jncite forward to this as only a "short episode" to be followed by the
the non-party workers and masses in the street against the victory of his followers ("victory of the proletariat") over
party leadership and Soviet government, he had already Europe as a whole in accordance with his theory of the
passed over in principle to counter-revolution, in the same "permanent revolution":
"Even a military defeat of the Soviet Union would be Soviet regime, and creation thereby of the conditions for the
only a short episode, in case of a victory of the proletariat ultimate triumph of Trotskyism. '
in other countries. And on the other hand, no military vic- The conclusion accordingly to be drawn from the evidence
tory can save the inheritance of the October revolution if provided by Trotsky himself in his own published writings
imperialism holds out in the rest of the world." (ibid., does undoubtedly establish that the political line and
pp. 219-220) organised activity of Trotskyism and its supporters inside the
5) The violent overthrow of the Soviet government is de- Soviet Union during this period did constitute counter-
fined as the key task of the organised "Soviet section of the revolutionary conspiracy requiring the vigilance and counter-
Fourth International", that is, of the Trotskyist organisation in action of the security organs and courts of revolutionary
the Soviet Union: justice. But from this acorn of Trotskyist or other organised
"There is no peaceful outcome of this crisis. No devil counter-revolutionary conspiracy during this period, and
ever yet voluntarily cut off his claws. The Soviet bureau- attempted fascist fifth column penetration, a monstrous oak
cracy will not give up its positions without a fight. The tree grew. Trotskyism provided the starting point and the pre-
development leads obviously to the road of revolution. text for the security organs to spread their net wholesale and
... The bureaucracy can only be removed by a revolu- carry through the most indiscriminate and indefensible arrests
tionary force. And, as always, there will be fewer victims and sentences of thousands of innocent people, who at the
the more bold and decisive is the attack. To prepare this most represented only some trend of political dissent and were
andstandatthe head of the masses in a favourable historic wrongfully treated as "enemies of the people", and who in
situation-that is the task of the Soviet section of the many cases were the unhappy victims of completely
Fourth International." (ibid. p. 271) fabricated charges without being given any opportunity to
This was written in 1936, the year when the major public trials clear themselves. Such was the black side of this period of
of the groups associated with Trotsky ("Soviet section of the Soviet history.
Fourth International") began.
6) The existence of the illegal Trotskyist organisation in the 7. DRAWING THE BALANCE
Soviet Union at the time of the trials was testified by Trotsky Nevertheless, this black page in the history of the revolu-
when he wrote: tionary movement should not for one moment obscure from
"The Fourth International possesses already today its the view the predominant and far more powerful positive
strongest, most numerous and most hardened branch in character of this period, which was in fact an era of triumph~
the U.S.S.R." ant and heroic mass revolutionary achievement, equally in the
(Bulletin Oppozitsii, February, 1936) building of socialism, the preparedness to resist tlie assault of
This was six months before the series of the three major trials fascism, and the final smashing of fascism in the supreme test
of the leaders of the three main Trotskyist groups began. of war.
Thus an examination of the available external evidence pro- Three essential considerations should be borne in mind.
vided by Trotsky him.sell during the period of the trials, and First, even during the gravest period of violations of
disregarding the disputed evidence of the trials, would indi- socialist legality and of proper democratic functioning of the
cate that the actual political line of Trotskyism during this higher party and administrative organs, not only was the basic
~eriod was the establishment of an illegal organisation of socialist character maintained and strengthened, but the basic
'hardened" cadres within the Soviet Union for the purpose of democratic life of Soviet democracy below, with mass parti-
the violent overthrow of the Soviet government; and specu- cipation in the running of affairs, on a scale unparalleled in
lation on the "inevitable" defeat of the Soviet Union by any other state, continued and even Hourished, as anyone visit-
Nazism in an impending war, consequent collapse of the ing the Soviet Union during those years could see. The des-
cription by the Webbs of the Soviet system during these years finally had to turn to the help of the Soviet people and of the
as "multiform democracy" was not entirely a case of these socialist state to destroy it. This consideration should certainly
hardbitten old experts in analysing political instihltions hav- be in the minds of Western critics, especially Western liberal
ing sand thrown in their eyes under cover of paper formulas, and social-democratic critics, who imagine they can assume
but a reHection of observation of practice. As explained al- airs of superiority to rebuke the Soviet people for these distor-
ready, the violations hit mainly the cadres of the tions, rather than themselves. Those who have not succeeded
apparahls. to carry through their socialist revolution, who still live
"The crude violation of the standards of party life in under daily toll to the landlords and capitalists whom they
the practical work of the central organisations at the time have not yet been able to throw off their backs, should show
of the personality cult did not in the least paralyse the a certain becoming modesty in laying down the law to those
activities of the party and of the state as a whole, and did who have achieved their socialist revolution, however hard
not change the social nahlre of Soviet socialist society. and painful the road.
"In spite of the personality cult, democratic principles Third, and most important of all, the great historical tasks
continued to prevail in the Republican, Territorial, set .in this era, on which the fuhlre of mankind depended,
Regional and local party organisations which made up were successfully accomplished, despite the costs. Socialism
the foundation of the party and do the daily work or was built. Fascism did not succeed to penetrate the Soviet
organisation and education among the masses of the order, as it had penetrated every other social order. In the
people. Party meetings and conferences, reports and elec- Soviet Union alone, as Eden and Churchill subsequently
tions of party organs were regularly held locally. testified, Hitler was unable to build his fifth column or find
"Extensive and varied work was also done locally by a single Quisling in the regions overrun. It was the strength
the Soviets of Workers' Deputies, the trade unions and and valour and sacrifice of the united socialist people which,
the Young Communist League. The personality cult, by the recognition of all, played the decisive part in the
naturally, impeded these activities and set obstacles in Second World War to destroy the power of fascism and save
the path of the development of the creative jnitiative and mankind from fascist slavery.
of the active work of the masses of the people. But it could No great revolution has ever yet been a path of roses all the
not check the onward march of society along the road to way. But whatever the incidental unhappy pages in the
socialism, and could not change our socialist system." record, the Soviet people, by their vanguard role in carrying
(The Twenty-Second Congress of the Communist through the first victorious working-class revolution, ;in build-
Party of the Soviet Union on the Abolition of the ing the first socialist society, .in confronting and breaking the
Cult of Personality, Pravda, November 21, 1961) fascist monster which threatened all peoples, and now in every
Second, what went wrong was not inherent in socialism or sphere of social and culhlral and scientific and educational
in communism or in Soviet democracy, since it did not arise advance on the pioneer path to communism, have performed
dur.ing the first decade and a half of its existence, but was an a service in human history whose radiance will never be
alien growth which arose in the era of fascism and in the dimmed.
extreme emergency conditions created by the necessities of
the fight against fascism and against fascist penetration. But
fascism was the consequence, not of any failings of the Soviet
people, but of the failings of the Western working-class move-
ment and democracy, which, in place of uniting with the
socialist revolution, allowed the fascist monster to arise,
proved incapable to combat it or prevent its expansion, and
the Chinese People's Revolution in 1949. Further, from the
standpoint of Neo-Nazism, as expressed by the West ?enn~
Defence Minister Strauss in his speech at Santa Rosa m Cali-
fornia on July 25, 1961: "For us the Second World War is
not yet finished." •
For present pwposes we need not concern ourselves with
this battle over dates. We can accept for current use the
conventional dating of the Second World War from 193~ to
CHAPTER XI 1945, provided it is understood that the fascist war offe~s1ve,
which developed continuously from the Far E~t to Afn~a to
Europe on an ascending scale, and the succeed.in~ short-hved
THE SECOND WORLD WAR "phoney" war conducted by Britain and France m 1939-40-
a kind of last fling of imperialist Munichism-were all only
successive temporary phases in the unfolding of a larger his-
"The experiences of the war, as the experiences of every torical conflict which reached its full scope in 1941.
edsis in history, of every great calamity jUld sudden turn
in human life, dull and break one set of people, while they 1. I'RELUDE OF THE SECOND WORLD WAB
enlighten and harden others." The First World War was preceded by the Russo-Japanese
LENIN, The Collapse of the Second International. war in 1905, the Italian war for the conquest of Tripoli jn 1910,
and the two Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913. The history of
When did the Second World War begin? Or end? Conven- these, as well as the tense imperialist rivalries in Morocco! is
tional history, with its still customary West European bias, bound up with the history of the antecedents of the Frrst
dates the begirming of the Second World War from the World War. But the prelude of the Second World War,
moment when Britain and France declared war on Germany, expressed in the extending fascist war offensive of Germany,
in September, 1939. In fact, however, the fascist war offen~ive, Italy and Japan in the Far East, Africa and Europe from 1931
which grew into the second world war, developed continu- to 1939, is far more intimately bound up with the Second
ously from the Japanese assault on Manchuria in 1931. In th.is World War than in the case of the local wars preceding the
sense the true beginning might be thrown back to 1931. On First World War.
the other hand, the West European regional war of 1939-40 The Second World War dHfered fundamentally from the
did not become a world war until 1941, with the involvement first in one essential aspect which governed its whole char-
of the great powers extending beyond Europe, of the Soviet acter and development. This was that it took place in a world
Union the United States and also Japan. In this sense all the already divided between socialism and imperialism, with
succes~ive phases which developed from 1931 to 1941 might the first socialist state extending over one sixth of the globe
be regarded as the prelude to the real world war which began and constituting a completely independent great power. The
in 1941. contradiction between imperialism and sociallsm was the
Similarly conventional history is accustomed to date ~e governing contradiction of the international situation; and to
ending of the war as VE day in May, 1945, when the fighting this basic contradiction all other contradictions, including the
ended in Europe. Some supplement is allowed for the con- ever more fiercely renewed inter-imperialist rivalries, were
tinuance of hostilities until VJ Day in August, 1945, when subordinated.
Japan surrendered. Yet even here it might be argued that the The defeated and prostrate German imperialism, chained
war in this region did not reach completion until the victory of and disarmed and sentenced to permament disarmament by
the victor powers' Versailles Treaty, was able within two to have destroyed for ever the challenge of the rival German
decades to climb back to become once more the strongest imperialism, had seized all its colonies and divided them up
and most formidably armed imperialist power in Europe and among themselves as booty, now found themselves also com-
the world, by skilfully exploiting the basic contradiction pelled to commit the most humiliating somersault jn accord-
between imperialism and socialism. From the outset the secret ance with the requirements of the new major contradiction
violation of the disarmament clauses of Versailles was winked of the world situation, the contradiction between imperialism
at by the Anglo-French Commissioners of jnspection and and socialism. This major contradiction had made out-dated
control on the grounds that this was essential for the battle their solemnly proclaimed pre-1917 intentions of the fust im-
against the menace of a communist revolution in Germany. perialist world war. They themselves tore up the Versailles
Similarly the draconian imposition of economic spoliation of Treaty which they had imposed. They themselves led the way
the already war-devastated Germany in the name of repara- for the rearmament of German militarism which they had
tions by the terms of the Versailles Treaty was never in prac- previously sworn would never again be allowed to raise its
tice carried out, but was within a few years transformed into he1met.
the opposite process of wholesale pouring in of dollar credits Subsequent apologies and explanations are today offered
to rebuild a booming German capitalist economy-once again by the statesmen and pub1icists of Anglo-French imperialism
in the name of combatting the menace of communism. When that this deliberate connivance and encouragement for the
the boom gave place to the crash of the world econom,i.c crisis, rearmament of German militarism and its aggressive expan-
with mass unemployment and renewed menace of the sion-oddly disguised by them under the phrase the "appease-
working-class revolution in Germany, finance was once again ment" of fascism, as if the object had been peace-was ren-
poured out without limit, not only by German big bankers dered necessary only because German military power was too
and industrialists, but also by the Anglo-French-American great, while the peace-loving British and French peoples had
finance-capitalists to build up the national-chauvinist foolishly disarmed and were at the mercy of pacifist
demagogy and anti-communist gangster storm-troopers of illusions and unwilling to rearm. Therefore it is argued, time
Hitler as the only salvation against the menace of a communist had to be won by the sagacious British and French states-
Germany. Finally, when Hitler was placed in power from men to enable their countries to rearm against the German
above, because his mass support had begun to dissolve, and menace. All these "explanations" are, to put it frankly, balder-
it had therefore become necessary to place state power in his dash. When Hitler came to power, Germany was disarmed
gangster hands in order to smash the organised working class, save for the very limited home army permitted by Versailles
the clauses of the Versailles Treaty were tom up by the and the still very weak illegal armed formations connived at
Western powers in order to clear the way for the rearmament by the Entente, but with no major armaments capable of con-
of Hitler, with financial and material support from the West, ducting a modem war or confronting the power of the French
and diplomatic support to facilitate his extending agt:;on anny and the British navy. Hitler could have had the most
in Central Europe, because he had publicly pledged .· eH megalomaniac dreams in the world; he would have been in-
to lead the grand crusade for the destruction of the Soviet capable of carrying them out without the direct connivance
Union. Such was the path of development to the Second and assistance of Britain and France in the initial stages. The
World War. destruction of Versailles and rearmament of Germany was the
?eliberate policy of the leaders of British imperialism, and
2. MYTHOLOGY OF "APPEASEMENT" unposed by them on their weak-kneed colleagues jn France,
The victor powers of the First World War, the Western wlio were also at the mercy of the anti-communist obsession.
imperialist powers, Britain, France and the United States, As soon as Hitler came to power, the green light for German
which had originally dreamed through the Versailles Treaty rearmament was given by Britain when the British Prime
Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, hastened to Geneva to call for tion of the policy of the British Conservative Gove~ment dur-
"justice for Germany", and to propose the immediate doub- ing the nineteen-thirties is a double lie. First, the lie. that the
ling of the German army and drastic reduction of the French connivance at German rearmament and aggression and
army (described with siniste1· irony as the British "disarma- destruction of Versailles, was an unwilling concession to Ger-
ment plan"), and then proceeded to Rome to draw up with man superior military power, in order to gain time for Britain
Mussolini the project for the Four Power Pact or bloc of Hitler to rearm. Second, the lie that the ·object of this policy of re-
Mussolini, MacDonald and Daladier. Thus the way was building the monster of German militarism was peace.
prepared for the first open breach of Versailles by the re-
introduction of conscription in Germany through the Military 3. THE FIGHT FOR THE PEACE FRONT
Law of March, 1935. Within ten days of the adoption of the Naturally this disastrous policy led to sharp divisions within
Military Law the British Foreign Secretary, Simon, hastened British ruling circles. A section, while maintaining un~anged
to Berlin to meet Hitler "in the friendliest spirit" (in the words their hostility to commwiism, began eventually to realise (not
of the communique). in the initial stages, not at the time of the fatal step of the
There followed immediately the Anglo-German Naval Anglo-German Naval Agreement, which passed through with
Agreement of June, 1935, which was the first Western official very little challenge, nor in relation to the German-Italian
step to tear to shreds the Versailles disannaJllent provisions, invasion of Spain) that the menace of resurgent German
prohibiting a German navy. The Anglo-German Naval Agree- imperialism was becoming the major immediate menace for
ment of 1935 provided for the re-establishment of the German Britain, outweighing for the moment the long~term contra-
navy at 35 per cent of the strength of the British, then the diction of imperialism and socialism. This section was repre-
strongest in the world, and for Germany to have 100 per cent sented by Churchill in opposition to Baldwin and Neville
equality with the British Empire in submarines. The special Chamberlain. Churchill had been the main protagonist
clause with regard to the submarines revealed the placid of anti-communism and the anti-Soviet interventionist wars;
assumption that the submarines would of course be for use he had expressed ardent admiration both of Mussolini and
in the Baltic in accordance with Hitler's anti-Soviet plans. In of Hitler; he did not understand the deeper character of the
fact, the submarines, so gaily presented by British Conserva- fascist war offensive, as expressed in the German-Italian
tive statesmen to a disarmed Hitler, were used to sink British aggression in Spain, in relation to which he remained neutral.
merchant shipping and kill British sailors all over the world, But he was genuinely hostile to German imperialism, and pre-
and brought Britain into mortal danger. pared even for temporary cooperation with the Soviet Union
Even as late as the armed re-occupation of the Rhineland to check the menacing renewed German imperialist advance,
in 1936, when the German general staff wrung their hands which he understood earlier than most Conservatives, ob-
and declared that, if Britain and France used their superior sessed by their admiration for Hitler as their champion against
power to prevent this illegal step, Germany would not stand communism and the Soviet Union, to be directed also against
a chance, Hitler pledged them that in that case he would Britain.
commit suicide, that is, recognise the game was up (as he did The international working-class movement during this
finally when the Soviet troops reached his bunker); but he period had to operate in these conditions. It was necessary
reassured his alarmed generals that Britain and France would to take into account the specific character of the fascist war
not use their superior power to resist. He proved correct; the offensive, entirely different in significance from the local and
French Ministers were bullied by the British imperialist rulers regional wars preceding the First World War, and requir.ing
into acceptance; and France from that point disappeared as to be resisted by full support of the just cause of the victims
a power. of fascist aggression. It was also necessary to take advantage
Thus the myth of "appeasement" as the supposed explana- of the opportunity provided by the division within the
ruling class in the non-fascist countries jn order to broaden British imperialism in association with their satellites jn
the front of resistance to fascist aggression. Hence the require- France. But a heavy responsibility lay also with' the righ~g
ment of the situation of the nineteen-thirties was not only to leaders of social-democracy and of the Second International,
build up the strongest possible united working-class front and who to the last opposed every approach of the Communist
popular front against the offensive of fascism and reaction International and of the Communist parties for unity against
within each country. The parallel and no less indispensable the fascist war offensive. This applied most conspicuously
requirement was also to build up the broadest peace front, over the war of Mussolini to conquer Ethiopia. The Labour
including those sections of the imperialists prepared to parti- Party leadership accepted at face ~alue th~ hypocriijcal
cipate or ca.mpaign for similar objectives, for resistance to the electoral promises of the Conservative Foreign Secretary
fascist war offensive, and for the aim of a broad peace Hoare to stand for collective security. As soon as the Con-
alliance of states, associating Britain and France with the servatives had won the 1935 election on this basis, the
Soviet Union, on the basis of collective security, through the notorious Hoare-Laval pact followed for the carving up of
League of Nations and also mutual assistance treaties, to bar Ethiopia. Similarly in face of the German-Italian fascist offen-
the road to fascist aggression and thus prevent the Second sive against Spanish democracy Blum at the head of the
World War. French Socialist Party and the Labour Party leadership at the
Had such a peace front of states, specifically of Britain and Edinburgh Conference in 1936 supported the denial of the
France and Czechoslovakia with the Soviet Union, been built legal rigbt of the Spanish democratic government to the
up in time, before Europe was surrendered to Hitler, and supply of arms. Finallr this total line was most disastrously
maintained with firmness and unity, it is universally recog- exposed over the culminating test of ~unic~ ~ 1938.
nised today that such a combination, with its overwhelming This role of the dominant leaders of 1D1penalism, and of the
superior strength, would have been fully able to bar the road right-wing leadership of social-democracy, in hindering the
to Hitler's aggression1 and thereby would have prevented the establishment of the peace front which could have prevented
Second World War. the Second World War, was facilitated in part by some con-
For this aim the Communist International and all com- fusion among some sincere left socialist sections d~ng ~is
munist parties, together with all progressive sections of the period. These sections failed to understand the new s1tuat10n
working class, including wide sections of the social- created by the fascist war offensive, and its basic difieren:e
democratic parties, and all progressive democrats, and even from the conditions preceding the First World War, and m
some more far-sighted conservative elements, ceaselessly consequence regarded with suspicion any proposals for sup-
worked during these critical years. For this aim the Soviet port of collective security or for a peace alliance of Britain
Union and Soviet diplomacy tirelessly and patiently worked, and France with the Soviet Union against Hitler as an attempt
as shown in the French-Soviet Mutual Assistance Treaty to entangle them in a "capitalist imperialist war".10 The main
and the Czech-Soviet Mutual Assistance Treaty. But the
10 An amusing illustration of these difficulties arose in the experience of the
rulers of British imperialism stood in the way; repeatedly re- united front campaign for the Socialist League, Commwrlst Party and In-
fused a similar treaty with the Soviet Union; wrecked the dependent Labour Party in the early months of 1937. The formation of this
united front was in fact a positive and signillcant expression of the advance
Mutual Assistance Treaties of France and Czechoslovakia by of the progressive trends in the socialist and worldng-class movement during
bullying their weak rulers into repudiating their obligations this critical phase. The united front programme extended to many questions
of home politics and working class conunon action. However, it did not
and accepting surrender; and thereby made the Second World include the aim of the eace front, that is, of a united stand of Britain,
War inevitable. 0
France and the Soviet nion, through the League of Nations or a direct
alliance, to check the aggression of Hitler, which was advocated by the
The main responsibility for this disastrous policy, which Communist Porty, since tbis objective was opposed by the Socialist Lea~ue
opened the way for the Second World War of fascism against and the I.L.P. In the negotiations and weekly meetings of representatives
of these bodies, with the Socialist League represented by Cripps and Bevan.
the peoples of the world, lay with the dominant rulers of the Independent Labour Party by Maxton and Brockway, and the
function also of the Trotskyist sections in the Western British Government. For this purpose the Runciman Mission
countries during this period was to promote such confusions was sent to prepare the ground during the summer, and official
and in this way, in the name of the usual "ultra-revolutionary': propaganda began to be spread in Britain on the necessity to
pr~ciples, to, disorganise the left and oppose the necessary dismember Czechoslovakia and concede to Hitler his
umted people s front, peace front and peace alliance against territorial demands in the name of "national" justice for the
fascism. Sudeten Germans (a comic plea from the leaders of British
imperialism holding at that time nearly a quarter of mankind
4. MUNICH TEST in colonial subjection). A noisy display of war preparations
Munich proved the culminating decisive test of the align- was made by Hitler, ·a nd of parallel war preparations by
ment of forces on the road to the Second World \.Var. Czecho- Britain, with a distribution of gas masks to the population to
slovakia~ with its strongly fortified frontier confronting Ger- create a psychology of war alarm. On this basis Chamberlain
many, and its binding alliances with France and the Soviet flew to Berchtesgaden to meet Hitler on September 15, and
Union for defence against aggression, represented the after a dramatic session in parliament with a production of a
s~at~gic bastion blockirig the way to Hitler's further expan- letter from Hitler at the last moment as representing a last
s10n m Europe. In May, 1938, Hitler made his :first attempt hope of peace, Hew to Munich and there on September 30
and failed; the alliance stood :firm, and the pa..tli was barred. signed the shameful four-power pact of Hitler, Mussolini,
As Generals Keitel and Jodi admitted at the Nuremburg trial Chamberlain and Daladier for the betrayal of Czechoslovakia.
after the war, there was no military possibility for Germany President Benes of Czechoslovakia was bullied into surrender.
to break the Czechoslovak bastion if the alliance stood firm The Soviet Government made clear that, if Czechoslovakia
since Germany had under fifty divisions to face simultane~ resisted, the Soviet Union would fulfil its treaty pledges and
ously the forty Czechoslovak divisions, the one hundred stand by Czechoslovakia, even alone. The Communist Party
French divisions and the far greater armed forces of the Soviet of Czechoslovakia, representing the feeling of the mass of the
Union. The gate for Hitler could only.be unlocked from with- people, stood firm for resistance. But Benes, subjected to the
in. This was the job of Neville Chamberlain at the head of the most brutal intimidation and threats by Chamberlain and
Daladier, finally surrendered. The outcome was presented as
Communist Party by Pollitt and the present writer a stumbling bloc a victory for "peace in our time", as Chamberlain proclaimed
proved that Cripps was especially insistent, togethe: with his Socialist:
League coll~agues and -th.e I.L.P.~ tha~ the Communist P.a.rty must not tiy to at the airport on his return, triumphantly waving a piece of
drag t.!ie unite~ front :igamst fasCJsm mto support of a united peace front for paper signed by Hitler (who sneered, as soon as Chamberlain's
coyect:ive secunty or allia.n?e of Britain, France and the Soviet Union against
~1tler! s!nce a~)' w~ ansmg ~m such an nllinnce would be a "capitalist back was turned : "This old gentleman has signed away the
unpenal~st :v,ar which he,_ Cripps, and true socialists could never support. British Empire"). But within the inner ruling circles in
T~ ob3ective had accordingly to be omitted from the programme of the
u~ted; front; and the Communists had t9 campaign independently for this Britain the explanation was whispered that, while a combined
obiective. Whenev~r the Communist Party in association with other support- resistance of Britain, France and the Sovief Union with
ers ~d held n major de';llonstr~tion for this aim (one very Jarge rally was
~e4l m the Empress Stadium with LloycJ George, Pollitt and other speakers), Czechoslovakia would have been fully capable in a military
l:ilack looks :ind ruu·d words would follow at the weeklymeeting of the united sense to check Hitler, the outcome would have been a com-
fron~ CO~J1!!ttee OD the ~oUDds that .th~ Communist Party was trying to sully
the punty of the working-class pnnciples of Cripps and entangle him into munist Czechoslovakia, the collapse of Hitler and the prospect
support for a ','capitalist imperialist wax". The somersault duly followed iD of a communist Germany.
1~39 w~~ Cnpps supportea the "phoney war" of Chamberlnm and Dala-
~er, as if. it had ~een a wax against Hitler, while the Comm1.1nist Party. con- Munich is today recalled as a day of shame and guilt in the
~~rt to its pnncipl.~ exJ?Osed ~e truly imperialist hypocrisy of the "phoney history of Britain. Indeed, the anti-Soviet devotees of Munich
\.\ ar. of actual pass1v1ty m relation to Hitler aDd concentration on an anti-
~OVlet Offensive, and J!IObilised mass supl?ort as soon as the conlition, which have sinoe sought to cash in on the popular hatred of Munich
lt had ,!>een the first to advocate as t11e indi.spensable condition for the defeat and justify their continuance of the same basic policy through
of fasCJsm, of the Western powers with the Soviet Union against Hitler was
realised. ' the anti-Soviet "cold war" Nato alliance and renewed rearma-
ment of German militarism by declaring that "the lesson of predicted "We stood Alone", that after the supposed victory
Munich" must be learned, to "stand up to dictators". But at the for peace war between Britain and Hitler would come none
time it was celebrated in the entire official press, including by the less, but under immeasurably worse conditions, with
the Labour Party organ, as by Blum in France, as a triumph Britain fighting alone and without allies. 11
of peace; and on October 3 the Labour Party leadership,
which had already wished Chamberlain "Godspeed" on his 5. SEQUEL OF MUNICH
way to Munich, refused to accept the proposition of a motion Munich was the watershed. Thereafter war had in fact been
of censure on Chamberlain. made inevitable, although there were still Hurries in the
After Munich minority voices of opposition were heard, ;in- current sweeping to war; the mass movement rose still higher
cluding Churchill. Indeed today, to judge from their present for the peace alliance with the Soviet Union which could have
statements, all men in public life in Britain were really prevented the war; and the Soviet Union sought indefatigably
opposed to Munich, just as jn the present West Germany of to the last, even to the point of danger on the very eve of the
Adenauer and Erhart all men in public life were in reality war, to reach such an alliance with Britain and France. In
secret opponents of Hitler, harboured Jews for protection in May, 1939, Stalin took over the premiership; this was the sign
their households, and only took part in drafting tlie racial laws that the hour of final decision and action was near. After
and similar suppressions as a cover for their secret and until Hitler's seizure of the remainder of Czechoslovakia, and the
now unknown opposition. storm of popular disillusionment and anger which followed,
But at the time of Munich, while there was still time to Chamberlain sought to appease the popular demand for an
prevent it, the only voice of oppositicm was that of the Com- alliance with the Soviet Union (newspaper polls showed 87 per
munist Party. In the hysterical scene j.n parliament on cent for a British-Soviet alliance) by making an alliance and
September 28, when all the other parties joined in to acclaim Treaty of Guarantee with fascist Poland and fascist Rumania.
Chamberlain on his prospective visit to Munich, and speeches This was an empty and meaningless gesture, jf jt had been in-
in support of Chamberlain were made by the Labour Party tended to constitute a military check to Hitler's expansion,
leader, Attlee, the Liberal leader, Sinclair, the I.L.P. leader, as Lloyd George immediately pointed out, and as the outcome
Maxton and the pacifist Lansbury, only one voice of opposi-
tion was heard. It was not the voice of Churchill, who 11 "No one who has followed the events of the past week can fail to see that
the Government has been deliberateIT encouraging a certain war atmos·
remained silent. It was the voice of the single Communist phere, an atmosphere similar to that o 1914. The war crisis is real enough.
M.P., William Gallacher> who, having to shout to make him- 'Fhe Government is playing a double game in this. It is using the war crisis
to stage a deception. They are spreadfug everywhere a picture that the issue
self heard above the din of acclamation, proclaimed : "I am of war is the issue, that tomorrow we may find Britain, France and the
no party to what is going on here. I object to the sacrifice of Soviet Union at war with Germany. Speculation spread.. as to what we will
do then, and has also affected members of our party. Why is the Government
Czechoslovakia.., concerned to spread this? Is it because they intend to make such a united
Similarly at the Fifteenth Congress of the Communist Party stand? That is the last thing they mean to do if they can help it. If there
were such a united stand that would mean not war but peace. But their aim
at Birmingham on September 16-19, 1938, immediately after is on this basis to smash the idea of the peace front by associatiJlg it in the
Berchtesgaden and before Munich, the warning was sounded minds of the people with war. Their aim is on this basis to put across their
policy of breaking the peace front, betraying Czechoslovakia, betraying
in the political report presented by Harry Pollitt. From the peace, nod ~_,put it across in such a way that it is received as a triumph for
Congress platform on September 18 a speaker (the present peace, that Chamberlain is the saviour of peace ....
"But if Chamberlain's policy, which will be celebrated as a policy of
writer) predicted> not only Munich, that under cover of the peace, goes through, then fascism, enormously sb'eogthened in Europe, will
war crisis and deliberate spreading of a war scare the real oe
at last able to turn its forces upon the democracies, and the British people
will then have to fight all the same, but under immeasurably worse condi-
aim of the Government was to prepare acceptance of the tions".
betrayal of Czechoslovalda as a supposed victory for peace, ("Report of the Fifteenth Congress af the Communist Party af Great
Britain", September 16-19, 1938; proceedings on September 18, 1938;
but also, looking further ahead to the consequence, pp. 90-92).
proved, unless it were accompanied by a military alliance with given away. Not for the defence of Poland; the sequel showed
the Soviet Union. The probable real purpose was to incite the that no finger was stirred in defence of Polancr. But against
Polish fascists to resist, who would otherwise not have done "the great apostasy" of Hitler, as Lord Lloyd called it in his
so ("The only true word spoken by Hitler was when he said official apologia The British Case (with a Preface by the
that, but for British intervention, Poland might have accepted Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax), who had accepted all their
these terms" : Lord Lloyd, The British Case, 1939, p. 50), and gifts and support on the basis of promises to march against the
thus ensure that Hitler's armies should sweep east to the Soviet Union, and now had bilked them and signed a non-
borders of the Soviet Union. Finally under overwhelming aggression pact with the Soviet Union. Of course neither
popular pressure Chamberlain and Daladier at the last signatory to the Non-Aggression Pact was deceived for a
moment sent a very low-powered delegation by the slowest moment into the belief that it was pennament. But, since
possible route to the Soviet Umon to discuss the possibility of war had been made inevitable by Munich and the refusal of
an alliance. The Soviet representatives, on the highest mili- the peace alliance, the pact ensured that there would be no
tary level, pointed out that Hitler's offensive in Poland was single counter-revolutionary bloc of the imperialist powers;
now about to take place; that the offensive would be con- that the war would open first between the imperialist powers;
ducted with such and such forces along such and such routes; that the Soviet Union would gain further time to prepare for
that the Soviet Union was ready to put such and such forces the inevitable onslaught; and that the division of the
in the field at such and such points to withstand them; what imperialist powers might then make possible, after the price
were the ·w estern powers prepared to do? The unhappy minor of Munich had had to be paid, and the lesson learned the hard
officials of the Anglo-French. delegations explained that they way, upon the bodies of the British and French peoples, the
were not empowered to disGuss anything concrete of this final fulfilment of the alliance of the Western powers and the
nature; and the Polish fascists affirmed that they would never Soviet Union which could alone make possible the destruction
permit Soviet troops to come into Poland to defend Poland. of the military power of fascism.
It became evident that there was no serious approach from
the Anglo-French side, the attention of whose governments 6. THE "PHONEY WAR"
was more concerned with the parallel Anglo-Nazi negotiations At the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the
in progress; and that the moment of war was at hand, with Soviet Union in March, 1939, Stalin warned the British and
Hitler's armies about to begin their march to the East, and French Governments that their Munichite policy of encour-
with the menace of the Munichite four-power bloc against the aging the Nazi war offensive, in the expectation that it would
Soviet Union coming into operation. The Soviet Union, hav- be directed against the Soviet Union, might turn into a
ing waited until the last moment of danger j.n order to strive dangerous .fiasco for them, since the attack might first be
to achieve the alliance with the western powers which it directed to the West :
would have preferred as the best course for peace, acted "One might think that the districts of Czechoslovakia
promptly to meet the danger and signed the Non-Aggression were yielded to Germany as the price of an undertaking
Pact with Germany which the German Government had been to launch war on the Soviet Union, but that now the
offering for mon~. Germans are refusing to meet their bills and are sending
The Soviet-German Non~Aggression Pact1 the second best them to Hades.
alternative after the peace alliance had been refused, smashed "Far be it from me to moralise on the policy of non-
the Four-Power Pact combination of Munich. Within eleven intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It
days of the signing of the pact Britain and France, which had would be nai.Ve to preach morals to people who recognise
tolerated every Nazi aggression until then, declared war on no human morality. Politics is politics, as the old case-
Germany. Not for the sake of Danzig; much more had been hardened bourgeois diplomats say. It must be remarked,
however, that the big and dangerous political game when there were only seven divisions in the West, and thus no
started by the supporters of the policy of non-interven- possibility of resisting a French offensive if one had been
tion may end in a serious fiasco for them:" . launched (Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945,
This prediction proved correct. The offensive of Hitler, after Series D, Volume IX). The offensive was not launched. The
he had taken the fullest advantage of the support and British Ambassador in Paris, Duff-Cooper, boasted that they
encouragement from the West, was first twned against the had discovered "a new way of making war, without
West, which under its corrupted Munichite politicians offered casualties".
easier and more vulnerable spoils, in order to have all the This was the "phoney war", or, as a Times editorial later
advantages and additional resources from the conquest of described it :
Western Europe before embarking on his main: war, ~e war "the period of sham war that led inevitably as it now
against the more formidable opponent, the Soviet Uruon. seems to the collapse of 1940." (Times March 2, 1942)
The declaration of war by Chamberlain and a reluctantly The purpose of Chamberlain and Daladier in declaring war
obedient Daladier on Hitler in September, 1939, was a diplo- on Germany in September 1939, was thus not to make war
matic act, rather than a military act. Certainly the object was on Germany, nor to defend Poland, but to exercise pressure on
not the defence of Poland; no attempt was made to help Germany in order to secure a shift in the regime or leadership
Poland. The moment when the main German forces were of Nazism such as would annul the Non-Aggression Pact with
concentrated in Poland, and only very weak German forces the Soviet Union and cooperate with the West against the
were left in the west, with an Anglo-French superiority of five Soviet Union. Hitler, complained Lord Lloyd in the official
to one, was the moment of opportunity for a decisive blow statement of The B1·itish Case (oddly echoing Stalin's warn-
against Germany if that has been the objective. At the ing description of the dissatisfied customer who feels he has
Nuremburg trial General Jodl admitted on behalf of the Ger· been bilked) had "falsely pretended to be the champion" of
man ~eneral staff: the West against the Soviet Union. This was the indictment.
"Neither in 1937 nor in 1938 could Germany have with· All other crimes and aggressions could be forgiven, but not
stood a concentric attack by France, Czechoslovakia and making peace with the Soviet Union:
Poland with their war establishment of 190 divisions. If "However abominable his methods, however deceitful
Germany did not collapse during the Polish campaign it his diplomacy, however intolerant he might show him-
was because the 110 French and British divisions opposed self of the rights of other European peoples, he still
to 23 German divisions in the West were completely claimed to stand for something which was a common
inactive." (Times report, June 5, 1946) European interest, and which could therefore con-
General Keitel at the Nuremburg trial put the position even ceivably provide some day a basis for understand-
more sharply : ing with other nations equally determined not to
"We soldiers always expected intervention by the sacrifice their traditional institutions and habits on the
Western powers during the Polish campaign, and were bloodstained altars of the World Revolution. The con·
swprised when there were only slight skirmish~s .~ong clusion of the German-Soviet pact removed even this
the West wall, which was protected by only five d1v1Slons. faint possibility of an honourable peace.
A French attack during the Polish campaign would have "... an alliance with the Con:imunist dictator of the
met with no German resistance. But since they did not Kremlin ... This was Herr Hitler's :final apostasy."
take place we no longer thought the Western powers (Lord Lloyd, The B1'itish Case, with approving
would actively enter the war." Introduction by the Foreign Secretary, Lord
Similarly Hitler wrote to Mussolini on March 18, 1940, that Halifax, 1939)
Germany's position had been critical in September, 1939, The only barring of the road to the further advance of the
Nazi forces in Poland was provided by the armies of the Soviet storming the supposedly impregnable Mannerhe.im Line (con-
Union, which, in accordance with the terms of the Non- structed under the direction of the British General Sir Walter
Aggression agreement, re-occupied the regions of Western Kirke) by March 11 threw all the Anglo~French plans into dis·
Byelorussia and Western Ukraine that the old Poland had array.
robbed and annexed from Soviet Russia in the era of the inter- Parallel with the passivity in relation to Germany, and the
ventionist wars. The Soviet armies stood on the so-called concentration on war measures against the Sovjet Union, the
Curzon line, that is the line which the Allied Supreme opportunity of the "phoney war" was taken to institute the
Council in 1919 had adjudged to be the legitimate frontier most active anti-communist drive in the Western countries,
of Russia. The positive helpfulness of this Soviet stand for especially in France, where the Coffimunist Party was
the W estem powers was recognised by Churchill and respons- declared illegal, and the Death Law carried against the com-
ible Conservative organs at the time (although social-demo- munists, with the support of the socialist deputies.
cratic expression took the opportunity only to indulge in a
familiar volley of anti-Soviet abuse): 7. COMMUNISM AND THE FIEST PHASE OF THE WAR
"The presence of a powerful Russian army on his Such was the complex situation of the "phoney war" which
Eastern frontier will immobilise a large part of Hitler's the Communist Parties in the Western countries, the leaders
forces at a time when they are needed in the west." of the fight against fascism and the fascist war offensive and
(Daily Telegraph, September 18, 1939) against all the policies of Munichism, had to confront in order
'That the Russian armies should stand on this line was to determine the path of the working class and anti-fascist
clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi fight. It was not surprising that this complex and rapidly
menace. At any rate the line is there, and an Eastern changing situation should give rise in this initial phase to sin-
Front has been created which Nazi Germany does not cerely held differences of opinion, estimation and tactical con-
dare assail." clusions at different stages. At the outset, when the British
(Winston Churchill, broadcast, October 1, 1939) and French governments declared war on Germany, the Com-
Anglo-French strategy during this phase, in accordance munist Parties in the Western countries, as in Britain, France
with the Munichite policy, was concentrated, not on making and the United States, while entertaining no illusions on the
war on Germany, but on developing a front against the Soviet policy of Chamberlain and Daladier, sought to utilise the
Union. Attempts were made, both in Finland, and through opportunity in order to develop it into a genuine fight against
Bal<U. During the winter of 1939-40 British and French Hitler and fascism, at the same time as combatting the
Expeditionary Forces were equipped for dispatch to fight reactionary policies of Chamberlain and Daladier. Thus the
the Soviet Union in Finland. Three times as many British statement of the British Party at the beginning of September,
planes were sent to serve Finni'Sh fascism against the Soviet on the occasion of the declaration of war, called for "a struggle
Union (120 fighters and 24 bombers) as were three months on two fronts"; that is, simultaneously against Hitler and
later available for the British Expeditionary Force (50 fighters against the policies of Chamberlain, and demanded the
-Lord Gort on May 12, 1940) in the hour of extremity on removal of the Chamberlain Government. Experience of the
the Western Front. According to Chamberlain's statement in "phoney war" rapidly showed that this policy of the "struggle
parliament on March 19, 1940, in response to the Finnish on two fronts" met with serious difliculties in practice, since
Marshal Mannerheim's request for 30,000 men to be sent by support for the Government's war measures in the name of
May, no less than 100,000 "heavily armed and equipped" men anti-fascist aims meant in practice, not any conduct of war
had been ready to sail at the beginning of March in order against Hitler, but misuse of the anti-fascist sentiments of the
to conduct the war against the Soviet Union. But the entirely people to conduct incitement and prepare war measures
unexpected and brilliant military feat of the Soviet Army in against the Soviet Union. Hence, when the Central Committee
of the British Communist Party met for the first time after the lished at Vichy by a vote of a National Assembly excluding
outbreak of war during ~he l~st week o~, September !11d was the Communists and carrying the emergency powers for
able to review the reaf situation of the phoney war , a new Petain by 569 to 80. Of the 186 Deputies of the French
statement of policy was adopted and published on October 2, Socialist Party, 110, or the majority, voted for the full po~ers
corresponding to this situation, which exposed the hypocrisy for Petain, 40 abstained or were absent, and 36 voted agamst.
of the anti-fascist pretensions of Chamberlain and Daladier Thus the shameful record of the German Social-Democratic
and attacked the reactionary imperialist character of the type Party in the vote for Hitler on May 17, 193~, was repeated.
of war they were conducting as contrary to the interests of In this beginning of the real struggle .a gamst Naz1sm the
the people. The French Communist Party fearlessly carried French Communist Party led the way inside France, just as
forward its fight along similar lines, with its general secretary, De Gaulle in exile led the struggle from outside France. In
Thorez, having to operate from illegality, in the face of every the first days of July 1940, the French Communist Party,
repression, and maintained its confidence among the people, dogged by the Vichy police and the Gestapo, launched
as was shown by its leading role in the resistance movement its historic appeal for the resistance movement of the French
when the real fight developed against Nazi occupation. The
people: . . .
Communist International, in an analysis of the genesis of the "A great nation hke ours will never become a nation
war, showed the responsibility both of Nazism and of of slaves ... France with her glorious past will never kneel
Munichism and said: "In this war the blame falls on all the before a gang of lickspittles ready for any dirty work. It
capitalist governments, and primarily the ruling classes of the is with the people that the great hopes of national and
belligerent states." social liberation lie. And it is around the working class,
By 1940 a new situation developed. The storming of the keen and self-sacrificing, full of con£dence and courage,
Mannerheim Line in March 1940 was a turning point of the that there can be built the front of liberty and in-
war. The plans of the Anglo-French Munichite Governments dependence."
to establish their anti-Soviet war front were smashed beyond Around the vanguard leadership of the French Communist
repair. At the same time the dangerous opening on Leningrad Party was built the resistance movement of the French people,
through Finland was closed, and the road rendered thereby with the participation of many patriotic sections of the widest
more difficult for the fulfilment of the further Nazi aim of the political views. The French Communists, in the forefront of
offensive against the Soviet Union. Under these conditions, the struggle, including those killed in partisan warfare,
Hitler and his generals determined to open the offensive for executed in France, or deported and massacred in Nazi camps,
the conquest of Western Europe before attacking the Soviet lost 75,000 dead, and became known as le Parti des fusilles,
Union. The successive assaults on Denmark, Norway, the "the Party of the executed"; that is, of those who gave their
Low Countries and France followed. The British Expedi· lives in the struggle against Nazism. This helped to give the
tionary Force was swept into the sea at Dunkirk; but accord- French Communist Party during the years after the war its
ing to the German Generals' subsequ~nt accoun~, Hi~er's indestructible place of honow· in the hearts of the French
special orders halted any measures for its destruction, smce people, in the face of all cold war repression and campai~s,
Hitler still hoped to reach an agreement with Britain. with a countinuing vote of one quarter of the people mam-
In France the right wing and pro-fascist generals, who made tained under the most adverse conditions.
no concealment of their view that they preferred Hitler to the In Britain the collapse of the passive phase of the "phoney
Communists, opened the front, and let Hitler's blitzkrieg war" and the opening of Hitler's offensive to the West, also
sweep through with scarcely a show of resistance. Peace w.as brought political change, but the beginning of change in the
signed between Petain and Hitler, and a satellite fascist opposite direction to France. Chamberlain was replaced in
regime under Petain and the ex-Socialist, Laval, was estab- May, following the fiasco of the expeditionary force sent to
Norway and Hitler's conquest of Norway, by Churchill as Anti-fascist popular sentiment rose ever higher in Britain,
Premier, although Chamberlain and many of his prominent France .and all ~e European countries threatened by Nazism,
colleagues remained in the Cabinet of Churchill. The British as also m the Umted States and beyond Europe. When Hitler
Communist Party accordingly responded to the new situation delivered his offensive in the Balkans during the first half of
and put forward as its immediate slogan the removal of the 1941 preliminary to his offensive against the Soviet Union his
Municbite Ministers from the Government, while continuing ~es found themselves, after the collapse of the rotten
its basic fight during this stage for the mobilisation of the fascist governments, confronted with an indomitable guerilla
people, conducted on a broad front through the People's Con- resistanc:e of the peoples led by the Communist Parties,
vention in the beginning of 1941, to establish a People's notably m Yugoslavia and in Greece. ·
Government, which woulO repudiate imperialist aims, appeal Thus during the twelve months preceding June 1941, all
to the German people against Hitler, and take all measures the conditions were preparing for the transformation of the
necessary to win an anti-fascist people's peace. initial imperialist phase of the "phoney war", which had been
The replacement of Chamberlain by Churchill took place ope~ed in 1939, into a genuine war of the peoples against
only just in time, since after the fall of France, Hitlers next fascism.
objective was to secure the capitulation of Britain. For this Lenin bad already during the First World War shown how
purpose, bombing was conducted and threats proclaimed of a w~ can change its character at different stages, and
the intention to invade, with an elaborate staging of conspicu- specifically how an imperialist war could turn into a national
ous preparations for such an invasion (after the war admitted war of liberation or a national war into an imperialist war :
by the German military and naval chiefs under interrogation "The fundamental proposition of Marxist dialectics is
to have been a camouflage, "the greatest deception in the his- that all boundaries in nature and society are conventional
tory of war" according to Admiral Raeder; "the proposed in- and mobile, that there is not a si.ngle phenomenon which
vasion of England was nonsense," was the statement of cannot under certain circumstances be transformed into
General Rundstedt; "we looked upon the whole thing as a its opposite. A national war can be transformed into an
sort of game ... I have a feeling that the Fiihrer never really imperialist war, and vice versa."
wanted to invade England; he definitely hoped that England . (~enin, The Pc:mphlet by Junius, August, 1916)
would make peace overtures").u Strategically the large-scale Thi~ pe?etrating observation .was to receive powerful confir-
transport of troops across the Channel was not practicable, mation m the practical expenence of the successive stages of
since Britain had command of the seas, unless air mastery the Second World War.
could be established. Hence the importance of the Battle of
Britain. In this critical situation the Soviet Union concentra· 8. THE PEOPLES' WAR OF LIBERATION AGAINST FASCISM

tion of military and air force on Germany's eastern frontier June 22, 1941, the day of Hitler's offensive against
immobilised, according to the subsequent German account, a the Soviet Union, and of the immediately following pro-
serious proportion of Germany's Air Force. The valiant British clamation of the British-Soviet alliance by Churchill's broad-
Air Force was able to gain a hard-won victory. The British cast later on the same day, was the decisive day of
people faced without flinching the Nazi threats and bombing. ~hange on which the ·west European war broadened out
mto world war, and the war of imperialist governments be-
u There is some reason for judging that Churchill, nlthousili making the come £nally transformed into a war of the alliance of the
utmost play with the menace of a Gennno invasion for the purpose of
pepping up the morale of the population at home, and continuing tal.lc of peopl~s against ~as~ism, with the parallel participation of im-
the invasion menace for years after it had any seriow basis, was not entirely penalist and socralist governments in unity with the guerilla
taken in by the deception; since at the most critical moment in the summer
of 1940 he despatched Britain's best troops 11.nd main armour to the Middle and .resista~ce movements of the peoples, led b y the Com-
East, which from the imperialist point of view was, of coime, the main mUIUst Parties, wherever Nazism extended its assault.
theatre of the war.
parties ad?pted the same ~iewpoint. Thus the German Social-
It is important to note that, while June 22, 1941, was the
Democrabc Party Executive declared in July, 1941:
decisive turning point of the war, this transformation of the
"From the Arctic to the Black Sea the world.'s strongest
character of the war was not the sudden creation of the events
armies are locked in battle. Should one of the two
of that momentous day. Indications had already been given
achieve a quick victory, that army would henceforth be
to show bow during the preceding twelve months, as
irresistible on the continents o~ Europe and Asia. It is
the initial "phoney war" faded out in face of the Nazi offen·
only by. exhausting each other in prolonged struggle that
sive, and as the notorious profascist political leaders in the
Western countries either passed over to direct collaboration
t?e nations of the Continent can be relieved of oppres·
s1on, and that the power of Anglo·American Democracy
or into general discredit, the conditions developed for ·the
can become the dominant factor in shaping a new World
tran~forma~on of the war ~to ? war of the peoples against
fascism, w1th the commumsts m the vanguard in a whole
In this situation it was the historic achievement and
series of countries.
strength of realist statesmanship of Premier Churchill to have
On the other hand, the completion of the extension to full
responded with such promptness to the opportunity of June
world war was not reached until December, 1941, with Pearl
22, 1941, and proclaimed at once, irrespective of the sharpness
Harbour and the involvement of the United States of America
and Japan. All Asia now became drawn into the war, as the of s?cial .~nd poli~cal differences, the principle of a British-
Soviet military alliance as corresponding to the true interests
ruthless offensive of Japanese fascism and militarism swept
of both peoples. The British-Soviet alliance, which h:ad been
over the rotting bulwarks of British, French and Dutch
spurned and publicly refused by Chamberlain even as late
colonialism in South East Asia; and once again it was the
as April, 1939, was now, when the bitter consequences of that
Communist Parties which led the anti.fascist liberation war of
policy had been learned through the fall of France and the
the peoples, after the colonial rulers had fled, in Burma,
mortal danger of Britain, universally recognised as the rock of
Malaya and Indonesia.
This transformation of the character of the war, expressed
At the same time it has to be noted that also in the strategic
in the British·Soviet Alliance, which broadened into the
calculations of Churchill and of all the British military staffs
American-British·Soviet Alliance, did not mean that the
and political leaders it was assumed that the Soviet Union
Munichite trends in the imperialist camp disappeared. Hope·
would collapse within a few weeks. The Nazi blitzkrieg, which
fol calculations for the mutual destruction of Germany and
had destroyed the Polish army in a matter of days, and which
the Soviet Union continued. Thus Senator Truman who later
had taken less ~an a month to ·send the French army, reputed
became President Truman of cold war notoriety, declared on
the strongest m Europe, in headlong rout, and the British
June24, 1941:
army hastily escaping from Dunkirk, would of course, it was
"If we see Germany winning we ought to help Russia,
assumed, go through an incompetent communist army (whose
and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and
in that way let them kill as many as possible." ~amp.ai~ in .the F~sh winter. war had been described by
unagmative 1ournalists at the time far from the front as a
Similar sentiments were promulgated by the British Minister,
?ornic opera spectacle of imbecility and helplessness, reveal-
~oore-Bra~azon, in a notoriou~ indiscretion at a private meet·
mg as Churchill had said at the time, how communism rots the
mg, accordmg to ~e re~ort of 1~ made by the President of the
soul of a nation and destroys its efficiency) like a knife through
Amalgamated Engmeenng Umon to the Trades Union Con·
butter, in the favourite phrase then used. Three months was
gress and taken up with the Government, when he was
the maximum which optimists in British ruling class circles
alleged to have e>..'Pressed the hope that Nazi Germany and the
gav~ for the continued existence of the Soviet Union. The
Soviet Union would destroy one another, leaving the British
Nazi attack on the Soviet Union was universally represented
Empire on top. The leadership of some social-democratic
in official expression, not as an opportunity for action, but as
a short "respite", a '1ull", a welcome relief from air raids, an powers, while holding the role of the Western powers in
opportunity to rest and re-equip ("ChieHy, it has given us a reserve to come in as final victors. ·
lull to re-equip and to rest.... It has given us a valuable rest The Nazi blitzkrieg inflicted heavy losses and drove deep
here": General Wavell in a press interview, Times, July 3, into the heart of the Soviet Union. The Nazi hordes had the
1941). At the Atlantic Charter meeting of Churchill and advantage, not only ·of war expef;ience, but of ovenvhelming
Roosevelt in August, 1941, in response to every anxious numerical superiority, since they had behind them the 400
question of Roosevelt as to the possibility of the Russians millions of enslaved Europe to provide the resources and man
holding out, Churchill was emphatic in rejecting any such the war industries, as well as some armed forces, so that they
possibility. could mobilise the greater part of German man-power for the
"Every now and then, Father would throw in a ques- anned forces. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, with a
tion: 'The Russians?' population of 175 millions, had to provide both for the war
" 'The Russians I' There was an edge of contempt in industries (96 per cent of Soviet armaments came from Soviet
his voice, and then he seemed almost to catch himself. 'Of production) and the armies. Stalin informed Churchill at Pots-
course they're much stronger than we ever dared hope. dam that the Germans had mobilised 18 million men, apart
But no one can tell how much longer... .' from the industries, while the Russians had 12 million. The
" 'Then you don't think they'll be able to hold out?' Nazi armies had also the initial advantage of surprise attack.
" 'When Moscow falls .... As soon as the Germans are Initial intelligence reports of Nazi troop concentrations and
beyond th~ Caucasus.... When Russian resistance finally offensive preparations had been disregarded owing to political
ceases.... suspicions of the aims of hostile imperialist circles to promote
"Always his answers were definite, unconditional. a German-Soviet confilcti and in consequence Stalin as Com-
There were no 'ifs', there was little or no credence put in mander-in-Chief had given instructions against any corres-
Russian resistance." ponding military concentration on the Soviet side, and
(Elliott Roosevelt, As He Saw It, 1946, p. 30) warned against being led by provocations or incidents into
Churchill and Roosevelt met in August, 1941, to discuss the major military operations. Further, the Soviet military com-
terms to be established after the war. While the colossal Nazi mand at the outset had been weakened by the preceding
forces were mauling the Soviet Union, for five months after purge, before the war, of many outstanding generals and
the assault until the campaign in Libya in November, 1941, higher officers, who have since been rehabilitated. All this
not a single British soldier (the Americans were not yet in the helped to facilitate the depth of the initial Nazi offensive
war) was in action against the Nazis on any front. Although thrust into Soviet territory.
the two-front war had always been the nightmare of German The contrast between the First World War, when Germany
strategists, for three years the second front in the West was had to fight on two fronts, and the Second World War, when
delayed. Thus the special Churchillian strategy of the formal, the Nazis were left free to concentrate all their main forces
but relatively passive alliance with the Soviet Union, applaud- on the Eastern front, was made by Stalin in his speech on the
ing the Soviet armies with the hightest rhetoric, and provid- twenty-filth anniversary of the Soviet Revolution delivered in
ing some assistance, but sparing in action on the Western Moscow on November 6, 1942. He said that in the First World
side until the issue had been decided by the arduous effort War Germany had 220 divisions, of which 85 were on the
of the Soviet armies, and then hurrying in to garner the fruits Russian front, or, with allies, 127 divisions facing the Russian
of victory, bore something of the character of a more subtle troops. In November, 1942, out of 256 German divisions 179
version of the basic strategic aim of Chamberlain, to promote were fighting on the Soviet front, or with their allied forces,
a German-Soviet conHict with the maximum cost for both 240 divisions; the remainder were mainly on garrison duty in
occupied Europe, while the British forces in North Africa
were engaging 4 German divisions and 11 Italian divisions. States for the purpose, as the general in command of the
. Consequently the fight for the opening of the second front project subsequently made clear was fully Jmown to him at
m the West became the key q~estion of Western strategy· that time, of providing the decisive future weapon against
~ventually th.e Ame1~can military command also pressed fo; the Soviet Union. 18 Thus the organisation of the cold war
began in 1942.
it, b?t m.et with cons1~erable obstruction and delay in British
of~i.cial ci.r~les; ~e ~ntire popular movement campaigned for The Nazi leaders, when they saw defeat staring them in the
thi~ essenti~ ob1ecttve, and the communist parties played an face, also laid down the future line for a defeated Germany
active part m these campaigns. to develop the closest cooperation with Anglo-American im-
The Soviet armies and people eventually drove back the perialism against the Soviet Union as the best way to rebuild
~azi invaders, but at heavy cost. The Anglo-American front German power. This line was explicitly laid down in the final
m Western Europe was only opened in June, 1944, three statements of Goering, Goebbels and Admiral Doenitz, the
yea.:s after. the Nazi assault on the Soviet Union, when the successor of Hitler, and has been faithfully carried out by their
Soviet armies had already routed the main Nazi armies ("torn heirs through Nato. Even after the opening of the second
the guts out of them," in Churchill's forceful phrase) and front in the West, the Nazi military chiefs still concentrated
could have completed the victory alone. The purpose C:f this all their main forces and roost stubborn resistance on the
bel~ted se~ond front was thu~ no longer primarily to help the eastern front, and continually sought to reach acconunodation
Soviet Union, but the essentially counter-revolutionary aim with the Anglo-Americans on the West. However, the firm
explained by the British Ambassador Hoare to Franco earlie; military agreements for the joint ending of the war and fixed
to throw in at the last moment the numerous heavil~ lines of demarcation of the stationing of forces at the end of
ann~d and unexh~usted Anglo-American forces, ~fter the the war defeated these initial manoeuvres, although even here
maximum destruction and exhaustion of the Nazi and Soviet there was some confusion with the capitulation on the west
~orces: ~o ensure the predominance of Anglo-American taking place a day before the capitulation on the east.
tmpen~Usm ?ver as much as possible of Europe and prevent Similarly with the ending of the war jn the Far East against
the anti-fascist popular revolution, arising from the resistance Japan in August, 1945, the same symptoms of the future were
movements led by the Communist Parties in all Nazi-occupied visible. Although the entry of the Soviet Union into the war
Europe, extending over the whole of Europe. bad been fixed by agreement between the allies for August
8, and the destruction of the main Japanese armies in Man-
9. SEEDS OF THE COLD WAR churia by the Soviet armies was given in the final Japanese
A~ soo~ as the S~viet armies had begun to drive back the Cabinet minutes as the decisive factor compelling capitula-
Nazi ~1es, followwg the pivotal victory of Stalingrad (with tion, the two American atom bombs were needlessly dropped
the encrrclement and destruction of a German army of 11 "I must admit my thought resbl primarily in Europe . • . It would
300,000,andsurrender of the Field-Marshal and main generals be a measureless disaster if Russian barbarism overlaid the culture and inde-
and 50,000 men), and the great offensives of the summer of pendence of the ancient States of Europe."
(Wlnston Churchill, secret memorandum drawn up in October 1942
1.942, the W~ster:i leaders realised that their original assump- and disclosed by Harold Macmillan at the Strasbourg "European'." C<m~
tio~s of the mev1table collapse of the Soviet Union were not ference in September, 1949.)
..I think it is important to state-I think it is well known-that there was
gomg to be fulfilled. Accordingly by the autumn of 1942 new never from about two weeks from the time I took charge of the Project any
strategic calculations were begun by the West to prepare the illusion on my pa.rt that Russia was the enemy and that the Project was con-
ducted on that basis."
cold war after the war, with Churchill's secret memorandum (U.S. General Groves, in charge of the "Manhattan Project'' the oode
of ?ct?,b~r, 1942, for the future stand against "Russian bar- name for the atom bomb projecthin his evidence given to a s~bsequent
U.S. official enquiry and publis ed in the report In the Matter of ].
bansm m Europe, and with the inauguration of the Man- Robert Oppenheimer, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington
hattan Project or construction of the atom bomb in the United 1954.) •
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, not in order men, women and children in the Soviet territories occupied
to ensure the defeat of Japan, which was already suing for numbered over three million; indeed the fuU total of Soviet
peace, but to constitute, as Professor Blackett has shown1 and losses in the war, military and civilian, has been estimated by
as has since been widely recognised, the first act of the cold Western sources at 25 millions. Premier Khrushchov wrote to
war to demonstrate the Anglo-American monopoly, which was the Swedish Prime Minister in 1961 : "The war against the
expected to last for ten to fifteen years, of the "ultimate Soviet Union swept away the -lives of 20 million Soviet
weapon" against the Soviet Union. people." This total is reproduced in the Statistical YeMbook
Thus dangerous signs of the future were visible even in of the Statistical Department of the U.S.S.R. (1963 edition,
the moment of the victory which was being won. p. 8). In addition, one third of Soviet territory and economic
resources was devastated; 1,710 towns and 70,000 villages
10. PEOPLES' VICTORY OVER FASCISM completely or partly destroyed; 6 million homes and buildings
The victory of the peoples of the world over the Axis bloc demolished; 31,800 industrial plants stripped; and 98,000 col-
of th~ fascis.t powers, Germany, Italy and Japan, and their lective or state farms broken up and their livestock, amount-
satellite fascist governments in a series of countries in Europe ing to 64 millions, destroyed or deported to Germany. From
and Asia was a turning-point ,in world history. It opened the the Nazi-occupied countries the peoples, conducting the
way for a new advance of the peoples everywhere. But the struggle through the resistance movements, not only contri-
~osts of this victory had been heavy for all the peoples buted the heavy total of casualties from the partisan fighters
mvolved. or hostages shot on the spot, as well as whole villages like
The relative costs of the war revealed the strategy which had Oradour and Lidice razed to the ground, while their fascist
been followed. According to the official report of the United rulers collaborated with the Nazis, but also lost millions de-
States Chief of Staff, General Marshall, his estimate of the total ported and massacred in the concentration camps. No less
number of soldiers killed in the Second World War was: terrible was the trail of rapine and deaths spread by the
U.S.S.R., 7,500,000; Germany, 2,850,000; British Empire, Japanese fascists and militarists in South East Asia, and the
450,000 (of which the United Kingdom, 305,770); U.S.A., limitless sacrilices of the Chinese people in their long and
2~5,904. These were heavy losses, far exceeding those of the arduous struggle against the Japanese invaders and home
First World War; and the level of civilian losses exceeded any traitors.
comparison with the First World War. Three quarters of a mil- The victory of the peoples of the world over fascism was
lion soldiers of the United States, Britain and the British thus won at a heavy cost. Nevertheless, it was the greatest
Empire countries gave their lives in the common cause. At the victory of liberation since 1917. The alliance of the United
same ~e it ~~ be see~ that the combined military losses of States, Britain and the Soviet Union was the indispensable
the entire Bnt1sh Emprre and the United States in the war framework for the organisation of this victory, whatever the
were less than one tenth those of the Soviet Union. The British limitations and frictions arising from the special role of
official return for the numbers of soldiers killed from the imperialist interests within the alliance. The Three-Power
British Empire w~s ~53,652, including from the United King- Summit Conferences of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin at
dom, 244,723. Bntam also suffered civilian air raid deaths, Teheran in 1943 and Yalta in February, 1945, were signs of
amounting to 60,000, merchant shipping losses and some war ~he new wor~d co~ditions and of the new opportunities open-
d~ma~e. The United States suffered no war damage, and made mg out, which, if fulfilled, could have brought a happier
gigantic profits from the war, while the lend-lease war aid to future for international relations during the years immediately
the allies was cut off abruptly as soon as the war ended. The after the war. The pledges then undertaken, for Three-
Soviet Un.ion civilian losses through the Naz.i wholesale Power cooperation in the United Nations to constitute the
massacres, deportations, enslavement and extermination of essential condition for the success of that organisation, and
for the banning of Germ.an rearmament, were in practice vio- the national struggle of their peoples, and on the way to be--
lated after the war by the Western powers who adopted in- coming the governments of their counmes the old form of
stead the diplomacy and strategy of the cold war. Neverthe- organisation of a single directing centre was no longer appro-
less, the lessons of the succeeding years, and of the harmful priate to meet the complexity of these conditions or the
consequences of such violations, have driven home the neces- national responsibilities confronting the various parties.
sity to return to the path of East-West cooperation and to Therefore in June, 1943, the Communist International was
guard against the menace of a new focus of war arising from dissolved, on the basis of a resolution adopted by the Pre-
the rearmament of German militarism. sidium of the Executive in May, submitted to all the parties
1945 opened a new era in world history, with the greatest and agreed by all the parties.
advance yet Jmown of the peoples of the world, but at the The resolution stated :
same time with new and critical problems and dangers. "Long before the war it became more and more clear
that, with increasing complications in internal and inter-
11. DISSOLtmON OF TIIE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL national relations of various counmes, any sort of inter-
In the new conditions of the peoples' war of liberation national centre would encounter insuperable obstacles in
against fascism, the international communist movement swept solving the problems facing the movement in each
forward in scope, mass support and responsibility, and out- separate country....
grew the old forms of organisation of the Communist Inter- "The whole development of events in the last quarter
national. of a century and the experience accumulated by the
The initial role of the Communist International in the Communist International has convincingly shown that
period of the international revolutionary upsurge following the organisational form of uniting workers chosen by the
the First World War, to fulfil the function of a general staff First Congress of the Communist International answered
of the international revolution, gave place to a different stage conditions of the first stages of the working-class move-
with the ebbing of the world revolutionary tide and tlie ment, but it has been outgrown by the growth of this
development of highly varied national situations. The role of and by the complications of its problems in separate coun-
the Communist International as guide and leader in the foun- tries and has even become a drag on the furtlier strength-
dation and early growth of the communist parties, and in ening of the national working-cfass parties."
tackling the basic tactical problems of the newly formed The resolution recalled that the Seventh Congress had al-
parties, reached completion as the parties developed in ready emphasised the need for "great flexibility and indepen-
maturity with the evolution of relatively stable and dence of its sections'' and that the Executive Committee
experienced leaderships. In the era of the extending offensive should "make a rule of avoiding interlerence in the internal
of fascism in the nineteen-thirties the Communist Inter- organisational affairs of the Communist Parties".
national fulfilled a new and all-important role of international In reaching this decision the resolution recalled the example
leadership, demonstrated most conspicuously through the of Marx and the First International :
Seventh Congress, in leading the way for development of "Guided by the judgement of the founders of Marxism-
unity of the worldng class and the peoples against the offen- Leninism, Communists have never been supporters of
sive of fascism and war. the conservation of international forms that have outlived
But once the war of liberation of the peoples against fascism themselves. They have alwayssubordinatedforms of organ-
had opened out, and the coalition of states of varying social isation of the working-class movement, and methods of
composition for victory jn this war had been formed, and working such organisations, to the fundamental political
when the communist parties in a number of countries had interest of the working-class movement as a whole, to
become the principal parties in their countries, were leading peculiarities of the concrete historical situation and

to problems immediately resulting from this situation.

"They remember the example of the great Marx, who
united foremost workers in the ranks of the International
Working Men's Association, and when the First Inter-
national had fulfilled its historical task of laying the
foundations for the development of working-class parties
in the countries of Europe and America, and, as a result
of the matured situation creating mass national working-
class parties, dissolved the First International, as thls
form of organisation no longer corresponded to the tasks CHAPTER XII
confronting it."
The decision was further stated to be based on "taking into
account the growth and the political maturity of Communist THE WORLD SYSTEM OF SOCIALISM
parties and their leading cadres in separate counbies".
This decision for a change in forms of organisation did not
meananychangefrom the basic principles of communist inter- "The world communist movement has become the most
nationalism which continued and continues with full force as influential political force of our time."
indispensable guiding principles for all communists and com- Statement of the World Meeting of 81 Communist
munist parties in judging national situations. The removal of and Workers' Parties, November, 1960.
external organisational forms of expression of international
communist unity and discipline only increases the importance The two decades since the close of the Second World War
of the voluntary self-discipline of all communists and com- have seen the greatest advance of international communism
munist parties in maintaining unity, cooperation and common throughout the world. In place of a single socialist state,
understanding between communist parties and fidelity to the extending to one twelfth of mankind, there had developed a
obligations of international workfu.g-class solidarity. The wide array of socialist states, led by communist parties, and
subsequent period has shown the practical problems arising composed of one third of mankind. National liberation from
in finding under the new conditions the best forms of imperialism, defined by Lenin as since 1917 an integral part
association and cooperation to maintain and ensure this of the world socialist revolution, has swept forward, dealing
essential free and voluntary unity of the international com- shattering blows to the chains of colonialism and leading to
munist movement. The communists in all countries, leading the establishment of an extending range of new independent
the struggle of the masses of the people in their counbies and states over the greater part of the former colonial territories,
faithful to that responsibility, and working in widely varied even though the battle against colonialism in old and new
conditions and with diJferent concrete tasks, are united by forms continues tense. The balance of the world has changed.
their common revolutionary understanding and theory, the The superiority of the socialist economic system -has been
theory of Marxism-Leninism, by indestructible international demonstrated with a rate of advance bringing into close view
working-class solidarity, and by their common devotion to the the prospect of the output of the socialist world exceeding the
aims of the working class, of the interests of the people, of ?utput of the capit~list world. The achievements of socialism
peace and of socialism. The coming era of the greatest advance m the spheres of science, technology, education and all-round
of the international communist movement was simultaneously social provision for the advancement of the people have
to bring the severest testing of the fulfilment of these prin- created a profound impression also in the non-socialist world.
ciples in the new world conditions. This does not mean that the problems are ended or the road
forward henceforth smooth. On the contrary, the imperialist
powers during this period have sought to organise the most and in Asia, will do their best to strike a blow in the rear
elaborate counter-offensive, through all the apparatus of the at their oppressors who start a criminal war against the
cold war with its anned outposts spread in every continent, fatherland of the working class of all countries. And let
against the advance of socialism and national liberation. While not Messieurs the bourgeoisie blame us jf some of the
the initial imperialist dreams of nuclear monopoly and supre- governments so near and dear to them, which today rule
macy as the ultimate weapon of power against socialism have happily 'by the grace of God', are missing on the morrow
been exploded, the subsequent nuclear arms race has reflected after such a war.... It can hardly be doubted that a
the still precarious and dangerous stage of jntemational rela- second war against the U.S.S.R. will le?,d to the complete
tions. In the sphere of relations between the new socialist defeat of the aggressors, to revolution in a number of
states, and within the international communist movement new countries in Europe and in Asia, and to the destruction of
problems have arisen, and sharp controversies, which the bourgeois-landlord governments in these countries."
clamour for solution. This era of triumphant advance is not The truth of this prediction was proved in the sequel of the
yet the era of final triumph. Second World War. And sure enough, the spokesmen of
In any record of the development of the international com- Western capitalism have indeed sought to "blame" the Soviet
munist and working-class movement this modem period has Union, as predicted, for the fall of the Fascist dictatorships
outgrown the old forms of specific international organisations "so near and dear to them" jn Eastern Europe and their
whose history and achievements can be narrated and replacement by socialist states.
reviewed. The old Communist International js dissolved since From 1917 until the end of the Second World War, that
1943. The so-called "Socialist International", mainly of West is, for nearly three decades there was only one socialist state,
European social-democracy, is of little political importance, the Russian Federation of Soviet Socialist Republics, which
and has long repudiated any connection with Marxism or became the Union of Soviet Socialist republics. The Soviet
working-class socialism. This situation does not mean that the Union extended over one sixth of the land surface of the globe,
international working~class movement and the fight for and comprised one twelfth of the human race. Beginning from
socialism and communism has grown weaker. It means that the utmost devastation and backwardness, the first socialist
the movement has so branched out and grown as to become state had to struggle forward in the midst of a hostile capitalist
coincident with the history of our times. Any record of its environment, interventionist wars, ceaseless provocations and
development would therefore have to be a complete history aggressions and organisation of economic blockades. Never-
of the modern world and the various countries during the past theless, on the basis of socialism the Soviet Union overcame
two decades. All that can usefully be attempted liere is to this devastation and backwardness, and was able to emerge
add a few brief notes on these newer developments. within two decades, at a rate of advance never before
paralleled, as a foremost industrial and military power, just
1. CHANGE IN THE BALANCE OF THE WORLD in time to withstand the shock of the assault of fascism,
At the Seventeenth Congress of the Communist Party of to smash the power of fascism, and thereby to save the world
the Soviet Union in 1984, when Hitler had newly come to from fascist slavery and open the greatest era of liberation in
power, and Western reactionary circles were publicly human history.
speculating on a war led by Nazi Germany and Japanese Following the victory over fascism jn 1945, the consequent
militarism against the Soviet Union, the Politi.cal Report of emergence into public political life of the anti-fascist popular
the Central Committee, delivered by Stalin, sounded the resistance movements in the countries overrun by fascism, the
warning: advance of the international communist movement and the
"The bourgeoisie need have no doubt that the numerous leading role of the communist parties in the popular resistance
friends of the working class of the U.S.S.R., in Europe movements, and the parallel advance of national liberation
against imperialism, there have come into exi~tence .an countries the leading role of the communist parties at the head
extending series of socialist states led by communist parties. of the national anti-fascist liberation movement of the people
At the time of writing (1964) there were fourteen socialist was recognised and effective from the beginning. Hungary
states: the Soviet Union in Europe and Asia; eight others in had been from the outset one of the strongest bases of support
Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German in the foundation of the Communist International; and the
Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Rumania and Yugo- Hungarian working class, with the communists at their head,
slavia; four in Asia, the Chinese People's Republic and the had led the way in 1919 to establish the first Soviet Republic
Korean, Mongolian and Vietnam People's Republics; and one outside the Soviet Union-a Soviet Republic which was only
in (or, more strictly, adjoining) the American continent, the overthrown, not by the Hungarian people, but by the invasion
Republic of Cuba. In addition a number of the newly indepen- of foreign armies. But·during the subsequent quarter of a cen-
dent states have proclaimed the aim of socialism; and while tury of fascist dictatorship the prolonged White terror (along-
in some cases this label has been used to cover reactionary side the signed treaty of the dictator Horthy with the Hun-
social conditions, in others significant progressive develop- garian Social-Democratic Party) had exterminated a heavy
ments have taken place, with increasing in.8uence of the ideas proportion of the leaders of the old illegal party. In
and principles of Marxism-Leninism. consequence the Hungarian Workers' Party had to a large
extent to be built up anew; and in the first elections the Small-
2. PEOPLE'S DEMOCRACY AND SOCIALISM IN EUROPE holders' Party (behind whose mask reaction hid) secured the
The forms of advance to socialism have varied according to largest vote of any single party. In Poland the many outstand-
the different conditions. In Europe the overthrow of the fas~ ing Marxist leaders had from early days played an outstanding
cist dictatorships, following the advance of the Soviet armies, part in the international working-class movement, although
led to the formation of governments of people's democracy, often, owing to the conditions of partitioned Poland prior to
based on the democratic anti-fascist parties which had parti- the First World War, in other parties, as Rosa Luxemburg in
cipated in the struggle against fascism. While these carried the German party and Dzerzhinsky in the Russian party. Here
through democratic social, economic and agrarian reforms, also fascist dictatorship had caused heavy losses. The back-
expropriating the great landowners and industrialists who had ground conditions at the time of liberation, with a pre-
backed the fascist dictatorships or collaborated with the fas- dominantly Catholic population, and the remains of strong
cist invaders, there was no question of the immediate estab- nationalist anti-Russian traditions, dating from the ti.me of
lishment of socialism, and the communist party or Marxist Tsarism, but which had been deliberately carried forward and
workers' party was not at the outset the leading party in all fostered by the Pilsudski type of national-socialism and the
these countries. The preceding background led to varying fascist rulers, created special problems which required patient
conditions. In Bulgaria, where the Communist Party had a and skilful leadership from the Polish United Workers Party.
long tradition of mass popular support and leadership of the In Czechoslovakia the decisive turning point in the advance
people's struggle; in Yugoslavia, where the partisan forces led to socialism took place with the defeat of the attempted
by the communists had engaged considerable Nazi forces; in reactionary coup in February, 1948. In the 1946 parliamentary
Rumania, where the partisans led by the communists had been general election the Communist Party had won 38.1 per cent
able to complete the liberation of Bucharest before the arrival of the votes, and the Social-Democrats 12.1 per cent, so that
of the Soviet armed forces; or in Czechoslovakia, where the the Communist and Social-Democrats had just over half the
Communist Party had been formed from the outset from the total vote and representation, and the bourgeois parties just
majority of the old Social-Democratic Party of the Second under half. A coalition ministry was formed of all the
International, and had emerged as the largest party from the parties on the basis of this representation, with the Com-
first elections after the expulsion of the Nazis : in all these munist leader, Gottwald, as Premier. In February, 1948, with
the prospect of the Communist Party winning 51 per cent of after a temporary phase of four-power military control to carry
the votes (its confidently declared aim) at the approaching through these provisions. The Communists ana
general election, the bourgeois Ministers sought to stage a crats in the resistance movement, which had been maintained
crisis by simultaneously resigning, expecting President Benes inside Germany throughout the whole period of the Nazi
on this basis to install a "caretaker" Cabinet of high officials regime in spite of all the terror and ceaseless heavy losses, u
to displace the Communist Prime Minister and conduct the had vowed to learn the lesson of the victory of Hitler and
election. But the entire united working class came out with rebuild their parties after Hitler's downfall as a single united
a gigantic mass general sbike (~ million workers and working-class party. The Western powers, however, were
employees, or, in proportion to population, equivalent to IO determined once again to rebuild the dominance of the same
millions in Britain), in a one hour token general strike, and reactionary industrialists in Western Germany who had
mass demonstrations all over the country, in support of their installed Hitler and sustained his power, and to rearm
parliamentary majority and government. Premier Gottwald German militarism once again under Hitler's generals, regard-
refused to resign, and held on with ms coalition Communist ing this as the indispensable safeguard against the spectre of a
and Social-Democrat Ministry and parliamentary majority. working-class revolution in Germany, and thus repeating their
President Benes had no choice but to accept the situation. This disastrous error of between the wars. Hence they sabotaged
victory of the working class in defeating an attempted the fulfilment of the inter-allied agreements and Potsdam;
reactionary coup (which in fact followed on the previous built up the three Western zones as a single economic-political
similar United States actions to break up the post-war coali- entity; bilked on the payment of the reparations agreed from
tion governments in France, Belgium, Italy and other coun- West Germany, which was already gorged with Nazi loot, to
tries in 1947, and secure the exclusion of the Communist the plundered and devastated Soviet Union, and instead
Ministers) was oddly described by Western official propa- poured colossal dollar subsidies and supplies into West Ger-
gandists as "the rape of Czechoslovakia by Russia", although many; vetoed the unification of the communists and social-
there was not a single Russian soldier in Czechoslovakia and democrats, ordering them to remain two separate parties (after
the action of the working class was taken in defence of the which the communist party was banned); and finally
programme for which they had returned a parliamentary proclaimed a West German State jn 1949, and followed this
majority at elections freely participated in by all parties, in- up by provision for its rearmament and inclusion in the
cluding the bourgeois reactionary parties. Indeed, it would be Western military bloc of Nato.
closer to reality to describe it as the first example of a peaceful In consequence of this policy in the West, the agreements
transition to socialism by a united working class returning and for wiping out the remains of Nazism and militarism and of
supporting a parliamentary majority and defeating the assault the big industrialist interests supporting them were only car-
of reaction without a civil war. Subsequently the Western ried out in East Germany. Here, in the heart of the old
official propagandists have even sought to refer to the victory Junkerism which had been the scourge of Europe for genera-
of the working class in Czechoslovakia in 1948 as the initial tions, its very basis in the large landed estates was destroyed
cause and justification of the Western cold war, which had in for all time (a service which should have made every nation
fact been planned by the Western strategists, as previously in Europe thankful, instead of rewarding this service by non-
shown, already in 1942. recognition); the properties of the big industrialists were taken
In Germany, which had been the focus of Nazism, a special over; the communist and social-democratic parties united to
situation existed. The provisions of the interMallied war
1' Allen Dulles reported to the United States Government in 1944: "There
agreements and of the Potsdam Treaty had called for the exists in Germany a Communist Central Committee which directs and co-
destruction of all military and fascist organisations and the ordinates communist activities in Germany . . . The drift to the extreme left
has assumed stupendous proportions o.nd steadily __gains momentum": (Allen
establishment of a united democratic disarmed Germany Dulles, Germany's UndeTground, New York, 1947).
form the Socialist Unity Party. Only after the illegal West Ger- ceaseless harassment of saboteurs and agents organised
man state ("German Federal Republic") was founded, the in scores of counter-revolutionary agencies stationed in West
German Democratic Republic was founded in the east. On the Berlin and maintained with lavish American subsidies (as
basis of fulfilment of the inter-allied agreements and Potsdam indeed the whole of the artificial entity of "West Berlin" was
the German Democratic Republic was in reality the only legal maintained by colossal subsidies from the West to the tune of
German successor state. From the outset the leaders of the £100 million a year), and operating easily across the open
German Democratic Republic and the Soviet representatives frontier of the streets of Berlin until the building of the wall
strove for a united Germany. Even as late as 1954, on the eve in 1961. For the fulfilment of the task of political, social and
of the fatal step of West German rearmament, the Soviet economic reconstruction under these conditions tribute must
Union made a final approach to the Western powers in a Note be paid to the working-class leadership of the German Demo-
proposing free democratic elections throughout Germany cratic Republic, including the cream of the old German
under international supervision to establish a united demo- socialist leadership who had survived, represented by Walter
cratic disarmed Germany not attached to any military bloc; Ulbricht, the secretary of the party and Chairman of the
but at the same time they warned that if a rearmed Western Council of State, who had been the associate of Karl Liebk-
Germanywereestablishedin a Western military bloc, then this necht in the fight against German militarism under the Kaiser
would close the door thereafter to German reunification. The before 1914, and in the old Spartacus League during the First
Western powers, however, including the West German social- World War, and so right through the fight against Hitler to
democratic leaders, deliberately preferred and chose the the days of the German Democratic Republic.
division of Germany, in order to secure the rearmament of Thus the forms and stages of development of the new states
V: est Germany as a part of Nato, since the dominant aggres- of people's democracy, and the process of advance to the
building of socialism, differed according to the different con-
sive elements among them calculated on this basis to have the
superior military power eventually to force the annexation of ditions in the various countries of Eastern Europe. Nothing
the German Democratic Republic to their State of the Krupps could be a more fantastic parody of the truth than the con-
and the Thyssens, as well as to fulfil the further expansionist ventional story offered by Western official propagandists that
aims (described as recovering the '1ost territories" formerly the regimes of people's democracy in Eastern Europe were
ruled by Hitler) at the expense of Poland and Czechoslovakia. artificial satellite creations of the Soviet armies. This parody
This policy of the Western powers to repudiate their comes with ill grace from the representatives of those Western
Potsdam pledges, and to promote the restoration of the old powers who in the period between the wars installed, main-
Hitlerite reactionary industrialist and military forces, and tained, financed and armed the most brutal fascist dictator-
even neo-Nazism, in West Germany, meant that the working- ships against the peoples in the countries of Eastern Europe,
class anti-fascist leadership in East Germany and sub- without a hint of dissatisfaction with their anti-democratic
sequently the German Democratic Republic had the most practices. It is certainly true that those fascist dictatorships
difficult task to fulfil of any leadership in the countries which backed finally by the Nazi military machine, could only be
had been freed from the fascist yoke. They had to oEerate in overthrown by the power of Soviet arms, and not by internal
the impoverished eastern section of their country, deprived factors ~one. It is no matter for surprise that, after repression
of the main industrial and richer regions; in the original home :m:d. White te~ror, the anti-fascist democratic parties were
and centre of Junkerism and Prussian militarism; and to find m1tially weak m some of the countries which had been sub-
the cadres and re-educate a population where most of the jected t~ .a prolonged fascist reg~me, and that consequently
bravest working class and democratic fighters had been the coalition governments of anti-fascist democratic parties,
exterminated, and Nazi indoctrination had been driven in by formed in accordance with the principles of the "Declaration
every means for twelve years. They were subjected to the on Europe" agreed between the allies for the sequel to the
fascist regime, had an initially difficult task and situation in 3. THE STRUGGLE AGAINST COUNTER-REVOLUTION
these countries, although in other countries, as indicated, their The victorious establishment of the regimes of people's
mass basis was strong from the outset. But indeed it would democracy in the countries of Eastern Europe, replacing the
be nearer the truth, although also only a hall-truth, to say that previous fascist tyrannies and domination by the big landlords
the old social order was only restored in other parts of Europe and militarists, opened a new era of popular social, economic
as far as the writ of the Anglo-American armies ran. and political advance in these countries. This does not mean
It is probable that, so far as internal conditions went, had the path was smooth and easy, or that there were no defects
there been no Anglo-American imperialist intervention, the and shortcomings in the countries of the new regime of
fall of fascism would have been followed over the greater part people's democracy in the countries of Eastern Europe. The
of Europe by regimes of popular democracy, that is, coalition new anti-fascist political representatives taking over
governments of communist, social-democratic and other anti- responsibility for their countries were in the main without
fascist democratic representatives from the resistance move- previous government experience. Trained personnel for all the
ment, excluding the fascists and collaborators and their manifold tasks was in very short supply, sjnce such previous
parties, a:i;id with the communist parties in the leading role, training as had been available for the few had been bound
and carrymg through far-reaching democratic political, social up with the fascist regime. There were still not inconsiderable
and economic reforms to strike at the basis of the big finance- sections of the population who had been part of the official
capitalist interests which had maintained fascism. But the apparatus of fascism, or expropriated large landowners or in-
conditions in Western Europe during the closing phase of the dustrialists or former White Guard officers, filled with hostility
war were complicated by the fact that, while the democratic to the new regimes and ready for desperate ventures. There
anti-fascist popular movement had reached a high degree of was ceaseless infiltration of agents and incitement from the
maturity, with the manifest leading role of the communist West, as well as smuggling in of money and arms, to promote
parties in France and Italy, the overthrow of the Nazi sabotage and insurrections. In the combat against these
satellite collaborationist regime of Petain in France or of the enemy forces during the earlier years of these regimes, some
fascist regime of Mussolini in Italy took place at a time when of the same defects which had characterised the later years
the main overriding task was still the military defeat of of Stalin's leadership in the Soviet Union were reHected.
Nazism, and the responsibility of the democratic anti~fascist Western agencies were not slow to take advantage of any
movements therefore required the fullest cooperation with the such defects, popular grievances, or moments of instability
Anglo-American armies, whatever the justified suspicions during the correction of defects, jn order to exploit these
whi.ch might be held of the ulterior aims of the reactionary opportunities to stage attempts at armed forays by their
sections of the Western ruling class. The true feelings of the agents, which had in fact no relation to popular feeling or the
people were shown immediately after the defeat of Nazism, popular movement, but which were presented to outside
when it was precisely in Western Europe, in France and Italy, public opinion by Western propaganda as supposed uprisings
that the communist parties emerged in the elections held after of the people. The first example of this technique was in Berlin
the war as the recognised strongest parties of the working in 1953, where a strike of building workers over work norms
class and the people. Indeed, coalition governments on this and rates on June 16 had been peacefully settled with conces-
basis were initially formed in France, Italy and other West sion of the just demands of the building workers, and then on
European countries. Within a couple of years, however, by the next day the Western agencies, having received reports of
1947 American influence, economic and financial (later also the strike on June 16, organised an armed foray of their agents
with military occupation) was brought to bear to secure the on June 17, which had to be dealt with by the Soviet anned
exclusion of the communists and thus pave the way for the forces and was then presented to Western public opinion as
return of reaction. a supposed uprising of the Berlin working people.
In 1956 a new stage of positive and fruitful advance agents were able to organise a short-lived counter-revolu-
opened in all the socialist countries, as throughout the inter- tionary armed putsch. The correction of the faults of the pre-
national communist movement, following the Twentieth Con- ceding regime under the leadership of Rakosi (who had a
gress of the Communist Party of the S~viet Unio?, w1:'Jch previous record without equal as a fearless fighter of the
made decisive correction of the shortcomings and distortions revolutionary working-class movement from before the First
which had arisen during the last two decades of the period of World War, had taken part in the first Hungarian Soviet
Stalin's leading role, broke many dogmatic shackles and Government, and had become an international legend with
opened a new perspective for the future. This rectification his fifteen years of imprisonment under the dictator Horthy,
proved of vital importance in its outcome, not only in the but had in this later period of political leadership developed
Soviet Union, but in opening the way for corresponding trends similar to those of the later period of Stalin); the
advance in the countries of people's democracy in Eastern exposure of the monstrous fabrication of the trial of Rajk;
and Central Europe. At the same time, during the first phase the beginning of the correction of other injustices and
immediately after the Twentieth Congress, the sharpness of arbitrary bureaucratic practices, and the resistance of some of
the correction, which appeared more sudden and abrupt in the more rigid elements of the older official apparatus : all this
countries outside than inside the Soviet Union, where it had led to a situation of general popular ferment and justified de-
been prepared during the preceding years, brought some mands for reforms and extended democratisation. This created
trends of instability in some sections, affecting weaker ele- an atmosphere in which it was easy for the hostile elements,
ments. The steeled and experienced revolutionary Soviet ex-fascists and Western agents to operate. The special danger
people were able to take the sha1p tum without disturbance, arose from the fact that in this situation the party became
and swept forward along the path of triumphant new advance demobilised. The party had been too rapidly expanded from
opened up by this correction. But in the new and still a handful to one million, or one in ten of the population with-
relatively less experienced regimes of popular democracy (as in a few years, therefore without adequate concern for its
also in some of the parties in the countries of the capitalist composition and leaving an easy road for the entry of hostile
world) the shock of the revelation of previous evils, the open- elements. In the conditions of unrest the hostile conspirators
ing to critics and hostile elements, and the process of neces- were easily able to mix with, and pose as the genuine serious
sary self-criticism and reform, found reflection in a measure critics, especially among the younger intellectuals, and secure
of instability and difficult political situations in certain key positions in the apparatus, mainly in the press and on the
countries, especially in the countries where fascism had radio, and to some extent in the police.
previously been strongly entrenched, in Poland and Hungary. These were the conditions under which on October 23,
In Poland the difficulties were overcome by the strength, unity 1956, a peaceful popular mass demonstration was used by the
and skilful leadership of the party under the guidance of counter-revolutionaries to begin armed violence (their allega-
Gomulka, who had himself suffered under the preceding tion was that hidden police had fired first). The Central Com-
repression, as well as by the mass popular understanding, and mittee of the party met that night at once and took three
also among the conservative nationalist elements traditionally decisions; (1) to arm the workers; (2) to carry out prompt
far from friendly to communism or the Soviet Union, that measll.res against the armed counter-revolutionary fomenters
the maintenance of the independence of Poland and the Oder- of disorder; (3) to invite, if necessary, the fraternal aid of the
Neisse frontier against the open aggressive aims of resurgent Soviet armed forces in order the more speedily to restore peace
Gennanmilitarismin West Germany depended on the alliance and order. These decisions were voted wianimously, includ-
with the Soviet Union. ing by Imre Nagy, who was known to be the representative
In Hungary, on the other hand, a temporary breakdown of a right-wing revisionist grouping in the Central Committee.
of the functioning of the party happened, and the Western In order to demonstrate to the people the unity of the Central
Committee and the party it was agreed that Nagy should on a basis freed equally from the rigid bureaucratic eleme~ts
become Prime Minister to carry out these decisions. associated with the regime of Rakosi and from the wavenng
What was not known at the time was that Nagy was already and treacherous elements. This was accomplished under the
conspiratorially linked with the counter-revolution, and had leadership of Janos Kadar, who had himself suffered from the
circulated secret illegal literature advocating destruction of repression under Rakosi. Meanwhile the coun!er-revolu-
the regime of people's democracy and ~e associati~ of tionary fascist forces, encouraged by the confusion of the
Hungary with the Western powers. Once mstalled as Prime party, now came into the open, threw off the mask of professed
Minister, Nagy sabotaged the fulfilment of the decisio~s of the aims only for the so-called democratic reform of communism,
Central Committee, which he had only accepted m order began to proclaim their real aims with Cardinal Mindzsenty's
to become installed as Prime Minister. He refused to arm the broadcast for the repudiation of socialism and the restoration
workers-the key to any successful popular struggle against of the privileges of the Church and 0e old prop~rty owners,
an armed counter-revolutionary coup. When the workers of and instituted a gruesome orgy of White Terror, with pogroms
a factory in Budapest, which had been invaded by a handful of Jews, torture and massacre of veteran socialist workers,
of armed counter-revolutionary terrorists, including the son public burning of the red flag and Marxist literature and other
of the former factory owner and a former White Guard officer, similar familiar phenomena of I-Iitlerism. Accordingly on
who had then constituted themselves a "Revolutionary November 4, in response to the request of the Workers' and
Workers' Council", had telephoned urgently to the Budapest Peasants' Government led by Kadar, the Soviet armed forces
Chief of Police for arms to deal with the bandits, the Chief moved in to stop the orgy and prevent the restoration
of Police, who was a Nagy man, had replied on no a~count of fascism in the heart of Central Europe, with all the con-
to take to arms but to use only methods of reason with the sequences which would have fl.owed from such a restoration,
armed invaders. Nagy on bis personal authority counter- as already experienced in the period preceding the Second
manded the orders to capture the counter-revolutionary World War. This inte1vention of the Soviet armed forces on
headquarters. Na~ replaced the .de~ocratic fu.~ctio?fil~. of November 4, which was in fact delayed until the mounting
the Council of Mm1sters by establishmg a small Cabinet of White terror made such intervention an inevitable necessity,
himself and a few associates and proclaiming unconstitutional not only saved the Hungarian people from fascism, but saved
decisions on this basis. On October 30 he proclaimed the all the peoples of Europe, although the danger still remains
dissolution of the Hungarian \Vorkers' Party. On November 2 from the hotbed of neo-Nazism in West Germany.
he reorganised his Cabinet to consist of a majority of anti· The unhappy events in Hungary in November, 1956, were
Communist representatives, including representatives of the the only example, during the close on two decades since 1945,
Social-Democratic and Smallholders' Parties. Equally jn viola- in all the eight countries of people's democracy in Eastern
tion of the Constitution and his Prime Minister's oath he Europe, of even a temporary success of the Western agents
unilaterally announced the withdrawal of Hungary from the and hostile elements in promoting even a short-lived counter-
Warsaw Mutual Defence Pact of socialist states, without revolutionary coup. In view of the stormy previous history of
authorisation either from his Council of Ministers or the this region, the hostile survivals from the preceding fascist
National Assembly. Directives were sent out to the party dictatorships, and the ceaseless activity of Western agents,
organisations and through the party ~entral press ~rgan not this is a considerable testimony to the popular support of the
to oppose the counter·revolution, which was d~scn?,ed as a new regimes and the advance to socialism. After 1956 the
great national revolution, and to obey the spurious Revolu- stability of the socialist regime in Hungary, which had learned
tionarv Workers' Councils". In consequence the party and the from the previous mistakes, was further safeguarded against
workers were thrown into confusion. a similar future attempt at a counter-revolutionary putsch by
In this difficult situation the party had to be reconstituted, the arming of the workers, with the formation of the
voluntaryfactoryworkers' armed detachments in the factories strug.gle of the Chinese people swept forward anew. Sun Yat-
while the democratic economic and social advance in the sub~ sen, its leader and the Father of the Chinese revolution the
sequent years and rise of standards has been testified to by ~riginal President of the Chinese Republic in the 1911 re~olu­
observers of all political outlooks. tio~, and the founder of the Kuomintang as the organ of the
national democratic revolution, after 1917 looked with
4. THE CHINESE PEOPLE'S REVOLUTION en~usiasm to Lenin and Soviet Russia as the inspiration and
The formation and development of the new socialist states in guide for future advance. From the Soviet Union came
Asia has taken place under very different conditions from those volunteers to fight alongside the Chinese patriots and political
of Europe, just as the emergence of the first socialist state on and military advisers. On March 11, 1925, the day before his
the American conti.nenthas taken place againinnewconditions. death, Sun. Yat-sen wrote his final tec;tament of guidance for
The victory of the Chinese People's Revolution in 1949 the future m a letter to the Central Executive Committee of
represents the greatest sweep forward of the world socialist the U .S.S.R. :
revolution since 1917-the second greatest working~class "While I lie here in a malady against which men are
socialist revolution after the Russian socialist revolution. This powerless, my thoughts are turned towards you and to-
victory brought one quarter of mankind, the most numerous w~ds the fate of my Party and my country.
nation in the world, into the array of socialist states. It You are at the head of the Union of Free Republics-
changed for all time the balance of the world. It disproved for that he~itage left to ~e o_ppressed. peoples of the world
all ~e the hoary fallacy th~~ Marxism was only a European by ~e ~ortal .LE:run.With the aid of that heritage the
doctnne for European conditions. It exercised and continues ':ictims of impe~1alism ~ill inevitably achieve emancipa-
to exercise a tremendous awakening and inspiring inftuence tion from that mternational regime whose foundations
for.all th~ p~oples ~f A~ia, Africa and.La~ America subjected ?~ve . been rooted for ages in slavery, wars and
~o I.IDpenalist dom~ati~n an~ e~lo1tation and still engaged
m the struggle agamst IIllpenalism. As Lenin foretold in his 'With this object. I have instructed the Party to be in
last article already in 1923, the victory of the Chinese socialist cons~ant touch with you. I firmly believe in the
revolution alongside the Russian socialist revolution has made continuance of the support which you have hitherto
the future of world socialism assured. And this irrespective of accorded to my country.
any temporary tactical differences which may have arisen in "Taking my leave of you, dear comrades, I want to
the present phase. express the hope that the day will soon come when the
The Chinese national democratic revolution opened in U.~.S.R. will welcome a friend and ally in a mighty, free
1911, and was seen by Lenin as part of the upsurge follow- Chma, and that our two united countries will march hand
ing the 1905 Russian revolution (Persian revolution in 1907, in hand in the great struggle for the emancipation of the
and Turkish in 1908). This democratic revolution of the oppressed peoples of the world."
Chinese people w~s conducted equally against the decaying The Communist Party .of China, which was formed in 1921,
feudal-?ureaucratlc Manchu Empire, which was incapable of thus sprang f~om th~ m1~st of. the already existing national
prot:cting. the pe?ple from imperialism, and against the armed revolution agamst unpenalism and feudalism, and was
dommant nnpenalist overlords who ruled directly the treaty f?rmed by the most advanced younger vanguard representa-
po.rts along the coas~ an~ therefrom maintained their octopus ~ve~ of. the national revolutionary movement, who had won
gnp for the exploitation of the whole of Chjna. The msp~ation £i:om the ~~ssian socialist revolution and sought to
imperialists sought to strangle the democratic revolution by fin~ Jn Manusm-Lemmsm the solution of the problems of the
backing reactionary warlords who feuded with one another. Chmese people. The salvos of the October revolution as Mao
After the Russian revolution of 1917 the national democratic Tse-tung said, brought Communism to China. '
"The Russians carried out the October revolution and victory in the anti-fascist Second World War, had Japan-
created the first socialist state in the world .... All man- ese imperialism not been defeated (which iS especially
kind, including the Chinese, then viewed the Russians importantforus), had there been no People's Democracies
differently. Then, and then only, did those Chinese work- in Europe, had there been no growing struggle of the
ing in the sphere of ideology enter a completely new oppressed countries of the East, had there been no
era. The Chinese discovered the universal truth of struggle of the masses in the United States, Britain,
Marxism-Leninism-which is applicable everywhere, and France, Germany, Italy, Japan and other capitalist coun-
the face of China changed. The Chinese acq~ed tries against the ruling reactionary cliques-had none of
Marxism as a result of its application by the Russians. these factors existed, then the pressure of the inter-
Before the October revolution the Chinese clld not know national reactionary forces would, of course, have been
who Lenin and Stalin were; nor did they know of Marx much stronger than it is today. Would we have been able
and Engels. The salvos of the October revolution brought to achieve victory in these circumstances? Of course
us Marxism-Leninism.... The conclusion reached was not."
that we must advance along the path taken by the (Mao Tse-tung, The Dictatorship of People's Demo-
Russians." cracy,July, 1949)
(Mao Tse-tung, The Dictatorship af People's Democracy, The victory of the Chinese People's Revolution was at the
July, 1949) same time made possible through the indomitable and skilful
When the right-wing leadership of the national bourgeoisie, political, strategic and tactical leadership of the Communist
represented by Chiang Kai-shek, in control of the Kuomint~g Party, the discipline of the Red Army and the closeness to
went over to imperialism in 1927 and betrayed the revolution, the masses of the people. Therefore the support of the people
turning the Kuomintang into an in~trument of reaction and went to the Communists and not to the reactionary Kuomin-
capitulation to imperialism, it was the Chinese Communist tang, despite the massive external imperialist support for the
Party which carried forward the leadership of the struggle of latter. The United States General Stilwell, American military
the Chinese people. Through twenty-two years of epic representative to China in 1942, noted in his private diary
struggle, against the W'estem imperialist overlords, against the contrast between the Kuomintang and the Communist
the Japanese imperialist invaders, and against the reactionary Party:
comprador and bureaucratic clique associated with Chiang "I judge Kuomintang and Communist Party by what
Kai-shek {in the latter case with alternations of united front I saw:
and struggle, in view of ~e claims of the latter still t~ re~res~nt "Kuomintang: corruption, neglect, chaos economy,
the national cause) a difficult path was trodden with infinite taxes, words and deeds. Hoarding, black market, trading
vicissitudes to the final victory of the Chinese People's with enemy.
Republic in October 1949. This victory was made possible "Communist Prograrrune . . . reduce taxes, rents, in-
both by international and internal factors. It was made pos- terest. Raise production and standard of living. Parti-
sible by the development of the new world situation and the cipate in government. Practise what they preach."
advance of socialism following the victory over fascism in (The Stilwell Papers, General Joseph W. Stilwell,
1945, and especially by the role of the Soviet armies in destr?y- arranged and edited by T. H. White, New York,
ing the Japanese armies in Manc:huria and thereby ~owmg 1948)
open key regions and vast supplies of arms and matenals for The victory of the People&