The Revolutionary Legacy of the Communist International



today my task is to open the discussion on the Communist international as we're celebrating the hundred years of the founding of the Communist international as I said yesterday it was really the only truly revolutionary mass international although the second international in us in a certain period had played a similar role but it developed over a long period and degenerated along reformist lines just a little detail on that the social democracy the German social democracy which was considered like the leading party of the second international which Lenin looked up to as a model of organization became truly a massive organization with lots of local papers big trade unions etc that party had within it you could say almost from the very early days the seeds of its future degeneration one of them was when they fused with the loss aliens and if you read Marx's letters to angles on this question marks was huming at the leaders of the his his jerk that the German comrades of Marx who basically accepted a watered down version of the principles of the party in order to achieve fusion ie in order to achieve a numerically bigger organization they lost the sharpness of principle and Marx was going to come out against them on that but then he concluded that once the party had been formed the massive workers wouldn't understand such a conflict and so what he did was to work on the party advising his followers over a long period of time and educating the party and winning it over to a Marxist position but from the very early days you had this element within it which is an I think an important element in understanding what later happened and secondly as Marxist we understand consciousness determine conditions determine consciousness and the prolonged boom in the late 1800s the growth of capitalism etc the cooperative's it seemed as if things were getting better under capitalism and this actually led to an attempt to revise Marxism ie capitalism does not enter into crisis cyclically but it can be gradually reformed and socialism can be achieved peacefully and gradually this is what emerged within the German social democracy and the second international as a whole somebody referred to Rosa Luxemburg text a reformer revolution which is an answer to that so you have a process of a growth of the second international but then it's degeneration and at a key moment I'm not going to go into the details I've given other leaders on this and we can come back to this because there's a lot of interesting stuff about what was going on in the second international which if we want to have another period of history which could be compared to that you'd have to say it was the post Second World War period which had the massive boom really put the seal on the degeneration of the workers organizations because of the conditions of capitalism because of the boom again it seemed in the short term that capitalism had solved its problems and that further strengthened reformism but as Marxist we know that the system hadn't changed fundamentally he went through different periods of different cycles but the contradictions remain the same and periodically you have these big crises and the revisionism in the second international couldn't before tell what happened at the beginning of the 20th century the crisis the first world war and all the revolutions that erupted after that and again after the Second World War it seemed that capitalism had restabilized itself and in those conditions it can become difficult to defend the genuine ideas of revolutionary Marxism in those periods Marxists are inevitably condemned to being a small minority because the mass is difficult to reach in those conditions the masses need time and experience of crisis to draw the conclusions the Marxists have and even the Marxist themselves can be destroyed in such a period they can draw all kinds of mistaken conclusions which actually which also explains sectarianism it explains both phenomena are actually reformism and sectarianism are a consequence of such periods and it's it's it's it's the fortune to say that Trotsky in that difficult period of the 30s preserved the genuine ideas of Marxism and it's true to say that Ted grant after the Second World War really preserved the ideas of Marxism which allow us to exist as a tendency today going back to the to the main item of this this lead off in August the 4th of August became a famous term because it was the famous day that the social democracy betrayed the working class openly by voting for the war credits in all the Congress's previous to that of the second international in the resolutions they said they would never allow such a thing to happen they will never allow a fratricidal war between workers and that they would struggle to transform the war into civil war in all countries of workers against the capitalists instead they voted for the war credits lenin himself couldn't believe it when he first heard it he couldn't believe they could have gone so far but as a result of that discussions began about the need for a new international the the Bolshevik Central Committee of 19th November 1914 for example called for a proletarian international and from that year on the Bolsheviks began to agitate for the need to build a new International Organization in 1915 you had Zim evolved with 42 delegates which were not all revolutionary Marxists in fact the Bolsheviks were a minority even within the famous Zima valve conference and they became the Zima bald left in that period of war it was very difficult to hold together the forces of revolutionary Marxism he was even physically difficult to actually being contacted with each other because of the the war situation but the end of the war produces one first the Russian Revolution in 1917 no need to go into that I'm sure you've discussed it thoroughly followed by the revolution in Germany in November 1918 then you have the collapse of the austro-hungarian Empire torn apart by the events and revolutionary movements sweep across Europe it's that you go from the reaction of the First World War to the revolutionary wave across Europe which I can't go into the details of every single movement that took place but you have the the beginnings you have the seeds being laid of the future Comintern parties in Germany in Austria and Hungary in Holland in Poland and you see left factions developing in other countries within the socialist parties the the parties that gave origin to the Third International the groups some of them were sizable groups parties you could say others were small groups small nuclei but they they were struggling to build this new organization now March 1919 is when they found officially the Third International 51 delegates from 22 countries so it was actually a smaller meeting than this in terms of numbers but in terms of what they represented of course far bigger it was a four-day conference in Moscow and generally speaking small parties and inexperienced parties this is one of the problems which you will see throughout the subsequent years well in 1919 they even doubted whether they should launch the third international you remember Rosa Luxemburg was against the launching of the third not because she was against the launching of a new international but because she felt it was premature needed time to win over more people it was a tactical difference but in the course of the debate itself the delegates were convinced that they should in fact launch the Third International send out a beacon of hope to the workers of the world by 1921 just within two years the International had spread to all the continents and had hundreds of thousands of members and then they held the next the four Congress is from the first to the fourth were congress's which we as an organization claim as ours we take on board all the theses and conclusions of those four congresses that were genuine congresses of revolutionary communists now the the rational revolution is what gave the impetus and the wave of revolution is what gave it the the conditions in which to develop now Lenin in referring to the to the to this development he said that it shows you the enthusiasm of the moment he said that news of the International and sympathy for it was spreading among the working class of the world this situation has been brought about by the growth of the proletarian revolution which is manifestly developing everywhere by leaps and bounds this was a moment in which revolutions were breaking out everywhere the perspective was one of extremely optimistic one of the possibility of the German Revolution the hungarian revolution the italian revolution and spreading beyond which would have meant the soviet union was not going to be isolated but was going to spread and to the advanced capitalist countries which would have changed the whole of history if you think about it we would not have had the Nazis we would not have had the concentration camps we wouldn't have had the Second World War we wouldn't have had the crash of 29 we had a hundred years of socialist planning and you can imagine where we would be today if out of if that had happened a very different situation for Humanity instead of course and I will explain what happened it didn't achieve that because of the degeneration the defeats of the revolutions in several countries and then the subsequent degeneration now Lenin referred to the second international as having grown in soaring breadth but lost something in depth ie it became widespread and big but it lost its cutting edge of theory and understanding now I'll skip over that as the International was launched a process was taking place within a lot of the mass Social Democratic parties with left currents within them product products of the pre-revolutionary revolutionary situations that broke out and it was through those processes that mass splits developed and from which the mass communist parties were to develop now it in itself is a history is a lesson of history how you can envisage things developing in the future not exactly the same history never repeats itself exactly in the same way and as they say but often it rhymes it's very it's similar there are similar processes the the extreme degeneration of the social democracy today means that it's not automatic but you're just going to have the masses turning to them and a left-wing develops and we intervene just like the common communists did in nineteen eighteen twenty in Britain we have elements of it thanks to the commune who brought me the coffee don't want it to go cold he called me sir yesterday I think next time I wanna shave my beard dye my hair so you'll call me comrade anyway I got distracted there yes not exactly in Britain we have elements of this and it could it could repeat itself in some countries in others we're seeing others but I don't want to open that discussion the main thing is the masses move through mass organizations of one kind or another and then contradictions develop within that you have left wings developing you have opposition as the class struggle intensifies that develops and we as Marxists have got to know how to be flexible and how to be in the right place at the right time now an example of this is Italy the Italian Socialist Party had 60,000 members in 1918 by 1920 just within two years its membership membership hadn't gone up to about 210,000 the main trade union led by the Socialists had 250,000 members in 1918 2,100,000 in 1920 that shows you this ballooning of the mass organizations of the working class what the Socialist Party of 1920 was not the same parties in 1918 2/3 of its membership was new and mainly young workers that were radicalized by the crisis by the war and what you had the occupation of the factories in 1920 where workers took over the factories and ran them themselves you had the Red Guards in shiron the peasants were occupying the land the Italian working class in September 1920 could have taken power that's the reality of the situation actually the conditions were more favorable than in Russia the working class was actually stronger numerically the weakness was in its leadership but the radicalization of the Socialist Party pushed it so far to the left at least in words but dunno if you're aware of the fact the Italian Socialist Party joined the Third International on block and the evening – integrated into the party symbol the hammer and sickle which survived until the 1970s I remember when I join the Italian soldiers partly for a few years we did some work there the symbol of the party was it was a nice symbol it was at the open book of knowledge the Rising Sun of socialism and on top the hammer and sickle and it dates from that period but the point is the whole party joins the left-wing the centrists and the right-wing reformists and it was necessary to have some clarification what happened was that the Socialist Party de facto betrayed the movement of 1920 and in January 1921 at the National Congress of the party it's split into delegates representing about one third of the membership walked out of the conference hall moved to a local theater in Livorno in Tuscany and founded the Communist Party of Italy as a section of the Comintern and it came from the left-wing the youth this is always the case generally speaking in these processes you saw the youth wings of the social democracy democracy on mass joining the Communist party's they took all the youth the youth are always the more the more revolutionary layer of the parties in some countries it was the youth that would became the basis of the new party but as in many other countries the Italian Socialist Party emerged batang communist parties sorry emerged under an ultra left leadership they drew all the wrong conclusions Bodega was the general secretary of the party a revolutionary but ultra left in question of tactics he rejected the United Front etc are going to that a bit later on and the therefore they they actually in a second moment contributed to further weakening the working class because Mussolini in 1919 set up his party but it was only in 1921 that he started to become strong after the defeat of the working class and in 1922 organizes famous march on Rome when the king handed over to him the job of organizing a government in the rise of fascism there was an instinctive coming together of the youth of the various parties the young socialists the Young Republicans etc and they set up an organization called the Arditi del Popolo which is like the the courageous of the people roughly translated which were anti-fascist bodies the young communists were instinctively joining board eager and the leadership of the party pulled them back and said no either with the communists or against the communists in a very old tree left way further dividing and weakening the working class that's what sectarianism does in a moment like that and this wasn't just isolated to Italy the ultra-left ISM infected many of the communist parties the Communist international was not born as a pure clear Marxist organization with a clear understanding of tactics etc it was a revolutionary international that looked to the Russian Revolution but was young and inexperienced and hadn't been through all the periods of building the Bolshevik Party and all the lessons that the Bolsheviks drew from their own experience for instance the United Front tactic was ABC to the Bolsheviks it wasn't ABC to bodega and many of the leaders of the other communist parties in in Germany the roots of the Communist Party lie in the opposition within the social democracy around Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht Carly panic – the first time round actually voted for the war credits but then realized his mistake and opposed and then there was a growing opposition to the war within the social democracy and by 1917 there was a split in the SPD around the u.s. bdd independent social democracy and the spots the sparta sis group Rosa Luxemburg and liebknecht eventually became the leadership of that formation a further split clarified and Fritz from within this that the German Communist Party emerged on the back of the German Revolution we've discussed this before so I don't want to go into the details for lack of time but we have the Hungarian Communist Party which initially started with very small forces of quedas in Moscow but very quickly developed into a mass force and actually formed a government in 1919 there is a long text on the website about the Hungarian Revolution written by Allen woods who should invite you to read if you want to understand what happened there and the mistakes that were made there in France the Communist the Socialist Party which was called the SFI oh the six young Francaise the international over the year the French section of the workers international they actually by a majority vote in 1920 the Congress of Tours decided to change change their name to Communist Party and adhere to the Third International so it was the majority in France the the minority split away and kept the old name and and remained as the Socialist Party but because of the way it was born there was a lot of opportunists were in the in the Communist Party itself the British Communist Party was very different story it was not it didn't originate in a mass split but in several small groups that came together to diffuse into one group one of them was the British Socialist Party another one was the Communist unity group of the socialist Labour Party the South Wales socialist society these various groupings small groups came together with the idea of forming a communist party but they had internal friction and debate because some of them rejected the United Front and some of them accepted it in fact if Lenin it was in these conditions that Lenin wrote left-wing communism an infantile disorder because what he what he saw was this ultra leftism was the sickness of being very young that's why I called it an infantile disorder ie you'll grow up you're mature and you'll understand the real position of the Communists and the tactics that they need to to apply so they came together and it's interesting I will read it later on cause the advice that Lenin gives the British communists as a small group is to actually join the Labour Party now when you get attacked by all these sects who say once you but where do y'all come rains in Britain doing you know well we're doing what Lenin advised us to do what are you doing now the Communist Party of Poland shortly afterwards around about 1920 you have the formation of the the Communist Party of India they have in Brazil the real revolutionary events in 1917 with the you know cannons being fired on working-class neighborhoods it was in those conditions that a communist party emerged they set up a Latin American Bureau to build communist parties in in in South America in Spain initially the the Communist Party started off as a very small group of about 5,000 in 1922 but infected with ultra-left ISM the the Communist Party of Spain actually got a mass base this is not nothing to do with the first four congresses in the 1930s actually when the young socialists of the solstice party was so radicalized that they actually turned to the Fourth International and invited them to join and help to Bolshevism and if they had done that the Spanish Trotskyist would have formed would have had a mass base instead sectarians they refused the Stalinists were not so stupid they won over the leadership of the Spanish young socialists and created the base you know a mass based for the Communist Party which of course was a Stalinist party which contributed to the defeat of the Spanish but going back to the congresses of the Comintern the first Congress really was an announcement of the national manifesto and the general principles a mimic started to spread the second third and fourth are really treasure houses of theory and disciplined debate and sometimes we have debates about questions you go here and you say what are we discussing this race has already been solved wide reinvent the wheel most of the questions that we need to look at were debated here in these congresses and we should study them they're all available on the Internet the key documents let's say are available and for instance at the second Congress they discussed the National colonial question it's interesting what was the position of a lot of a lot of the leaders of the second international well they thought that colonialism was progressive because it was civilizing the colonial people's that was how because they they had this distorted view that you see the development productive forces is progressive capitalism is progressive which is true historically speaking is true because it builds the productive forces and raises human technique to a higher level but then they took from that this formalistic position that then when they colonize Africa and America rest of it they're bringing civilization that's how they saw it it's amazing how far they went on this but they didn't really develop a position they didn't even really look at the situation in the colonial countries they looked at Europe and North America mainly the in the Third International is very different it treats the colonial question in a serious way and looks to the rising revolt of the of the colonial people's and it started to develop a class outlook on this question I'll quote from the draft theses on the National question it says that the Communist Party as the as the avowed champion of the proletarian stroll to overthrow the bourgeois yoke must base its policy in the National question to this is sorry this is the this is on the National question on the colonial not on abstract and formal principles but first on a precise appraisal of the specific historical situation and primarily of economic conditions second on a clear distinction between the interests of the oppressed classes of working and exploited people and the general concept of national interests as a whole which implies the interests of the ruling class third on an equally clear distinction between the oppressed dependent and subject Nations and the oppressing exploited and sovereign nations this is how they saw the relationship with the imperialist countries and the colonized countries but as you see there's always a class distinction and they they raise the idea that the working class must take power everywhere it's interesting how they look at this question when they talk about petit bourgeois nationalism they say that it preserves national self-interest intact whereas proletarian internationalism demands first that the interests of the proletarian struggle in any one country should be subordinated to the interests of that struggle on a world scale you don't limit yourself only to appraising the national position but you see how it contributes to enhancing the world's struggle for socialism they say in the communist parties must assist the bourgeois Democratic liberation movement in these countries they're talking about the colonial countries and the duty of rendering the most active assistance rests primarily with the workers of the country the backward nation is colonial financially dependent on so what they say is we are for the liberation of the colonies and the working-class of the oppressor nation has a duty to aid the peoples of the colonial countries in liberating themselves at a certain point they raise the idea of an alliance with the bourgeois Democrats in the colonial countries you see how this change is actually from in the course of the congresses to begin with they say the Communist international must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in the colonial and backward countries because they saw it as the beginnings of a bourgeois democratic revolution and therefore we've got to assist that in taking place which is more or less the position Marx had in the 1840s in Germany where Buddhism hadn't yet come hadn't yet been established the bourgeoisie wasn't in power but then they add but should not merge with it and should under all circumstances uphold the independent independence of the proletarian movement later on I will show you how that actually evolves again on the national question this is from the report on the party program at the 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party in 1919 were Lenin refers to this he's critical of Bukharian who talks about self-determination only for the workers and Lenin says that's ridiculous because if you're calling for self-determination of Nations it's the whole nation in its identity and of course it means all the different classes and then he gives the example of what happened in Finland because he says the Finns have experienced the the tech toship of germany they are now experienced in a dictatorship of the Allied powers but thanks to the fact that we have recognized the right of Nations to self-determination the process of differentiation has been facilitated he pointed out that because the Bolsheviks were insisting on the right of Nations to self-determination which in itself was not let's be clear on this it was not that the aim was to separate all countries the aim was to remove a barrier between the working people of the oppressed nation and the working people of the oppressed nation ie the Russian working class is different from the landlords and the bourgeoisie we have no interest in oppressing the finns and we prepared to concede independence if you so wish by doing that they point out they say that the the bourgeoisie were deceiving the people were deceiving the working people by alleging that the Muscovites the chauvinist the great russians wanted to crush the finns we had to concede self-determination and by doing so he says the differentiation within finland began IE you remove this from the equation and you're left with a finished working class facing its class enemy and the class differentiation began there's a text by Lenin in 1913 it's called backward Europe and advanced Asia which is interesting to read because he refers to the the rising movement of the peoples of the colonial countries at the the second Congress the National question is discussed in the fourth session and again Lenin in his speech in he emphasizes the difference between the oppressed and the pressor Nations and they start to move away from the idea of the bourgeois democratic term they say they discussed it and I said this was the point that gave rise to some differences of opinion when they were discussing the theses we debated whether it is correct in principle and theoretically to declare the Communists international and the communist parties have a duty to support the bourgeois democratic movements in the backward countries and the outcome of this discussion was that we came to the unanimous decision to talk not about the bourgeois democratic movement but only about the national revolutionary movement they're moving away from the idea that the bourgeois in these countries could play a progressive and even revolutionary role in effect they're adopting the Trotsky's position on the permanent revolution they stress that and we should use these theses to show but fraught because often they try and say well Lenin had a position shot to get a different one the theses here they these really belong to Lenin and Trotsky together they had unity of understanding on this but they went even further later on in the same theses he says after saying the proletariat in the advanced countries can and must help the backward laboring masses they say this the question was this can we accept as correct the idea that the capitalist development of the economy is necessary for those backward peoples who are now liberating themselves and among whom now following the war progressive movements have developed ie do we support movement towards capitalism in these countries it says if the victorious revolutionary proletariat organizes systematic propaganda and the Soviet government come to its assistant with every means at its disposal it is correct to assume that the capitalist stage of development it is incorrect sorry it is incorrect to assume that the capitalist stage of development is necessary for such people's it's very clear they're saying that you don't have to have a capitalist stage of development in the colonial countries and it's here in black and white at the second Congress of the Communist international at its fourth session so it's as I said it's a treasure trove of theory and it's also something we can use to throw back at the Stalinist themselves it says further on the struggle to overthrow foreign domination in the colonies does not therefore mean underwriting the national aims of the national bourgeoisie but much rather smoothing the path the path to liberation for the proletariat of the colonies and then it says in this way the masses of the people in the backward countries will be brought to communism not by capitalist development but by the development of class consciousness under the leadership of the proletariat of the advanced countries that's for how they viewed the colonial revolution and we should I'd invite you to read them all these theses study them take them on board I have to move ahead because of time they also discussed the question of the trade unions and they define the trade unions us the trade unions proved to be in most cases during the war a part of the military apparatus of the bourgeoisie helping the latter to exploit the working class as much as possible the union's betrayed not only the cause of the social revolution but even also the struggle for the improvement of the conditions of life of the workmen ago organized by them and they talked about in an amicable arrangement with the capitalists that they were organized now you would think that therefore they'd be calling for a break but they don't they say the exact opposite they say that in spite of bureaucratic nature of the unions it has the wider masses of workers who until now have stood apart from the labor unions are now flowing into their ranks in a powerful stream remember what I said about Italy 1918 to 20 in all capitals countries a tremendous increase of the trade unions is to be noticed which now become organizations of the chief masses of the proletariat not only of its advanced elements but then he talks about the old bureaucracy resisting etc but it says specifically the the communists must join such unions in all countries it doesn't say break away it says the opposite it says all voluntary voluntary withdrawals from the industrial movement every artificial attempt to organize special unions etc represents a great danger to the communist movement it threatens to hand over the most advanced the most conscious workers to the opportunist leaders playing into the hands of the bourgeoisie this is the position of the Comintern on the trade unions and it is the idea that we have inherited and defend at the same time they weren't rigid there were moments in which there were splits mass splits took place in spite of the Communists what do communists do in such circumstances do they lecture to these advanced workers or do they go with them it says we're a split between the opportunist and the revolutionary trade union movement has already taken place the Communists are bound to support such revolutionary unions you would think they're saying the opposite of what they were saying before it's simply a question you go with the work you go with the masses it says we're within the trade unions or outside of them organizations are formed in the factories such as shop stewards factory committees for the purpose of fighting against the counter-revolutionary tendencies of the trade unions the bureaucracy the commerce must with all their energy give assistance to these organizations and so you see and we we actually publish these theses in Italy as a powerful all of them because we face the situation I'll give you a concrete example in the 1980s the Italian train drivers 90% of them walked out on mass from the trade jeans because they were they were black they were blocking them in their negotiations and they set up the rank-and-file committees which became the trade union of the train drivers now what was our position we didn't go there and say haven't you read thesis number two the Comintern we-we-we-we we went there and we participated we only had one train driver at the time I remember interviewing them and discussing with them but what we pointed out was the perspective of class struggle because they became very limited in their outlook looking only at the train drivers and we said you've got to think of the rest of the workforce in fact the tactics of the bosses were provoked the train drivers and then defeat them in the course of struggle because they were the most advanced layer they did that they were demoralized then they started attacking other sections of the railway workers and when that happened the train driver said well they didn't strike for us why was she strike for them and the boss is one and the result was a huge victory for the for the bosses so you have to have a flexible approach and it's all there in the trade union theses which come up again later on the there was a thesis on the Communist international and the red international trade unions this was in the third Congress in 1921 where in several countries there had been mass splits sometimes those splits were provoked by the bureaucracy itself in an attempt to isolate the more advanced layers just like they did in Italy but actually they literally provoked the train drivers I remember what they did it was disgusting that the things they did even in the little details but it was a conscious effort because the bourgeois need to control the trade unions and they referred to the right this idea which is often spread by the trade union leaders have so-called a political trade unions that neutral trade unions neutral trade unions means trade unions which Ally with the bosses and here's a quote which it's from 1921 but you tell me if this isn't valid today in order to maintain its rule and squeeze surplus-value from the workers the bourgeoisie needs not only the priests the policemen the general and the informer but also the trade union bureaucrat and the kind of workers in inverted commas leader that teaches trade unionists the virtue of neutrality and non participation in political struggle this is a very good description of the American trade union bureaucrats of today and also the Europeans etc in spite of this they still say the principal position taken by the communist International on the participation of communists in the trade union movement is as communists must explain to the proletariat that their problems can be answered not by leaving the old trade unions for new ones or by staying outside the unions but by revolutionising the trade unions ridding them of reformist influence and the treacherous reformist leaders and transforming them into a genuine stronghold of the revolutionary proletariat he says he says the objective is to win the majority of the workers organized in the trade unions and the Communists must not be discouraged by the present reactionary mood of the labor unions the theses are permeated with this with this idea at the same time which they should they said they should be open to the revolutionary syndicalists who are outside of the historical trade unions and that's in France in America they actually say here it says talking about the United States at the time the same revolutionary processes occurring in America though more slowly historical characteristic communists must on no account leave the ranks of the reactionary Federation of Labor it says composed in the mane of skilled workers on the contrary they should seek to gain a foothold in the old trade unions with the aim of revolutionizing them it is vital that they work with the IWW members most sympathetic to the party this this does not however preclude argue against the IWW political positions so while you stay in the unions you still open to other currents and you try and win them to to the the the party I don't have time for go to go into more detail on that but that's another very important lesson that the Communists provided at a certain point though as I said earlier they had the problem of all the opportunists will who were still members of the Comintern and there was a necessity to clarify who was and who was not a member and that's why you have the famous 21 conditions which were voted at the second Congress and the 21 conditions established what you had to adhere to if you wanted to be a member of the International but it's interesting and even here you have elements of what we've discussed sorry in some of the some of the splits we've had actually in recent periods in in the recent years for instance the the periodical and other press of the of each party must be subordinated to the party leadership none of this editorial boards which are autonomous from from the leadership all the organs a propaganda must be under the control of the elected leadership of the organization another demand to was to remove the reformists and centrists they had to be expelled they had to be purged from the organization another one was no trust in bourgeois lay out legality combine legal and illegal activity this was obviously according to the conditions of the country it raised the need for systematic propaganda within the army they talked about the poorest peasants he talked about the need to unmask social patriotism I can't go into the details have to be very very quick on the colonies it said it called for an end for the colonies obviously to supporting every liberation movement in the colonies in the trade unions building cells within all the union's members of parliament and public representatives must be under the discipline of the other of the party as a whole through its leadership democratic centralism was emphasized in essentialist manner as possible that's how the party should be organized fine discipline remains with reiha trains within it if the party center sustained by the conference to the party membership is endowed with the fullest rights and authority and the most far-reaching powers ie once you've had your democratic discussion and elected a leadership that is the leading body of the organization and it has far-reaching powers as they say and then they say from time to time it's necessary to under undertake purges now don't worry they're not talking about concentration camps in brackets it's explained re-registration of the membership of their party organizations in order to cleanse the party systematically of the petty bourgeois elements within it ie a constant battle to remove the those elements that tended to drift in an opportunist direction and maintain the revolutionary character of the organization then they refer to international control each party it's this is not a federation of separate parties it's one world party and each national party had to adhering to the Communist international was under the discipline of the International and also to maintain a clear identity it says I have to I can't say all of them but point 21 which apparently was insisted by board eager those party members who fundamentally reject the conditions and theses laid down by the Communist international are to be expelled from the party you don't get expelled simply for this minor detail or whatever if you don't understand Tigrinya national organization you cannot be a member of the organization otherwise you have the same process that took place with the second international in the third congress they had a long debate on the question of women and the work amongst women and it says the third congress they're all communist parties of the west and east need to increase work amongst female proletariat it goes into the question quite in detail it says it talks about the enormous danger presented to the revolution by the masses of passive working women who are outside the movement the housewives officer office workers and peasant women who are still under the influence of the bourgeois worldview and therefore the need to win over the working women and he says it follows that the communist parties must extend their influence over the widest layer of the female population by means of organizing special apparatuses inside the party and establishing special methods of approaching women this is particularly the case in the conditions of the backward countries where even today we have some countries where women are not allowed to be in the same room as men if you go to some parts of northern Nigeria or Pakistan or Afghanistan or other countries it literally is impossible for a man to recruit a woman and therefore you have to have special measures to educate the women that you have and then they have to do the work of penetrating the the women but it emphasizes that the emancipation of working women can only come through communism it says it says the working women of the whole world that their liberation from centuries of enslavement lack of rights and inequality is possible and this is emphasized in italics only through the victory of communism and it continues there is no special women's question ie separate from the working class nor should there be a special women's movement and that any alliance between working women and bourgeois feminism or support for the vacillating or clearly right-wing tactics of the social compromises and opportunists will lead to the weakening of the forces of the proletariat a communist society will be won not by the United efforts of women of different classes but by the united struggle of all the exploited ie working women and working men not working women and bourgeois women the third Congress of the Communist international warrant warns working women against any kind of cooperation or agreement with bourgeois feminists this runs through the whole thesis at the same time it emphasizes the need for you know special apparatus and a method etc but it does it raises the question that the schools on the woman's question shouldn't be just for women all party members men and women must be educated in the women's question that's the way they pose they pose it in practice we had women's journal journals being produced winning over working class women and you also see historically women in normal conditions because especially in the more backward countries less developed and even in the capitalist countries the advanced countries who look at the past men tended to go out to work women were isolated to the home and this tended to have they had a lower consciousness on the question of class struggle but once the movement took off in all of the revolutions you see these women who were supposedly more backward leap even over the heads of the men and become the most advanced then you see that in all the revolutions in the third Congress they also discussed the question of the communist youth they highlighted the greater radicalization of the youth but again no separate political existence a youth organization yes but not a separate organization otherwise you'd have two parties the youth is under the discipline of the party as a whole but as I said before they struggled in the in these congresses if you read them carefully you will notice that Lenin didn't go in there and simply because Lenin spoke everybody voted in favor you had bodega from the Italian you had the German ultra left's you had the Dutch Goethe Pannekoek you had in Britain you had the ultra left's it wasn't just this or that small group there was a significant layer of the International which had been won over to revolutionary politics but they had an ultra left approach they had an infantile approach to this question now how did Lenin and Trotsky solve this you see whereas they were very determined and firm about the centrists and the reformists they need to be expelled purged when it came to the ultra left they didn't have that approach they regarded them as Comrie that needed to be educated and and won over and you see that in the debates in the Congress is Lenin Trotsky intervene not by giving orders but by going through historical experience explaining themselves through facts through arguments and they even and they won the debate they won the debate on this question they didn't convince everybody but gradually they did win them over to the correct policy which was for example the United Front compare that to our friends in a CWI who claim to be Leninists and Trotskyists how do they solve differences they don't try and win over through debate they immediately go for a split which is absolutely crazy at one point Lenin was even in favor of keeping an open door to the work of Communist Party of Germany which was the ultra-left split from the Communist Party because he considered them revolutionary communists who are making mistakes and needed to be won over you don't do that by command you do that by the authority of individuals like Lenin and Trotsky and debate now why was the United Front such an important tactic at this particular moment because you see we go from the period of 1917 nineteen which was one of the revolutionary offensive revolutions were breaking out everywhere it looked like the working class was on the verge of taking power in one country after another the weaknesses the mistakes sometimes ultra-left mistakes led to a defeat of several revolutions and by 1921 it had become clear that the offensive was halting it was slowing down and capitalism was restabilizing itself it had it had gained its feet again after being shaken by the movement that followed the first world war Germany the clock that the revolution had had receded Hungary it had been defeated Italy it had been defeated counter-revolution was beginning to rise its head and if you if you read you read Trotsky in the 1921 Congress where he talks about how also there was an economic coveri taking place this was the beginning of the booming 20s particularly the United States but also elsewhere a combination of the defeats of a number of revolutions restabilization and a certain boom in the economy created new conditions the revolutionary offensive was off the agenda and therefore it was a question of how do you win the masses and at the 4th Congress they rediscover the trade unions similar conclusions were drawn working inside them how to expose the reformists they're not splitting the union's etc in Britain again if the Sparta's has ever come up to you and annoy you and they've annoyed me a few times and I tell them where to go in a I used to good anglo-saxon woods one has four letters the other has three and it begins with an F just in case you didn't get it on the British Labour Party this is the theses of the fourth Congress 1922 the British colonists must launch a vigorous campaign for their admittance to the Labour Party you know in the other countries where the the communist parties were bigger they were mass forces they had to apply the tactic of the United Front in Italy for instance the Communists split as a minority Trotsky pointed out bored eager said either with us or against us he was a sectarian Trotsky pointed out you took 60,000 members but there's a hundred thousand members who belong to the centrist faction of the Socialist Party who still believe they want to be in the Third International but they haven't understood they don't understand the Communist Party you have to win them over how by applying the United Front what is the United Front you offer unity to the Socialist Party you don't say you're traitors we won't work with you especially with the rise of fascism you you offer a United anti-fascist front in struggle and that's the way to expose the leaders of the Socialist Party if they refuse that offer they're exposed in the eyes of the best socialist party workers if they accept then they have to show their ability to struggle day by day and the communists in the day to day struggles will show their superiority and win over the ranks of the Socialist Party that means appear of winning the masses was necessary that was why they developed the United Front and in in effect I haven't got time to go into the details I invite you to read them they cause the feces on the United Front adopted by the executive committee in December 1920 to enter ISM is nothing but an extension of the United Front when you are very small that's why in Britain they didn't say United Front they say you must campaign to join the labour party because it was a small force and the 4th Congress who really was dominated by this question of the tactics they needed to adopt to win over the the workers who followed the reformists they also established the idea of international discipline he says now more than ever the strictest international discipline is necessary both within the Communist international and in each of its separate sections in order to carry out the United Front tactic at the international level and in each individual country and they reiterated the need to accept the 21 points now you had the ultra left's guy called Goethe actually reply to left-wing communism it's available if you look it up Hermann got Gorter he opposed the participating in the elections he was for splitting the unions and they he accused Lenin of opportunism Friedrich advocating parliamentary work and work in the trade unions Lenin it was actually defined as being on the right wing of the International and Lenny wants jokes about it you know obviously if I'm to the they're also left to their to my left I'm on the right but in the context of the Communist international it doesn't really mean much now the the parties as I said suffered from ultra-left ISM as a reaction a healthy reaction against the betrayal of the reformists they saw these as treacherous traitors and had to be fought they didn't understand that you've got to actually win the workers who look to these leaders and and you if you look at it and you read left-wing communism and all the rest of the texts that are available here you'll see that the method of the IMT is not against the traditions of Lenin and Trotsky we are in actual fact the only tendency which genuinely preserves this tradition and this method if you read the theses and if you read the if you see the role of Trotsky Trotsky comes out brilliantly through in these congresses in the speeches and the texts that he writes at that time and I would invite you to to read them he he his texts are gathered in the two volumes of the first five years of the Communist international and he deals all these questions he deals for instance with the example of what would the effect of a boom be he deals with the question of the the relationship between economic cycles and class struggle does a slump mean immediate class struggle he points out that not necessarily and he draws that lesson from the experience of the Russian movement where sometimes a deep slump can actually dampen the class struggle because it's it's obvious if the boss is about to sack people or there's no work a strike doesn't have the same impact the workers have their heads down a revival in the economy can encourage the workers to come out because they feel stronger because the boss needs to produce and that's when they can hit the boss and in volume two there's the text the school of revolutionary strategy which I would strongly advise the comrades to read I've gone over my time so I have to really rapidly go through the rest trotsky's advice to the French communists is is it something you should read and he hear what's happening to capitalism is it developing the productive forces or not he actually says it was in the nineteen twenties run through that and that I've mentioned the the first for Congress is 1919 to 1922 we recognize as hours I've only been able to rapidly go through the main points that were discussed but the subsequent congresses and you noticed something where as 1919 1920 1921 1922 every year in the middle of a civil war in the middle of all the difficulties they had they had annual congresses that went on for weeks where they discussed and deliberated because Lenin and Trotsky understood the need to educate the leadership of the communist parties in order to succeed in the revolution particularly in Germany the next Congress is 1924 the fifth the next one after that is 1928 the sixth and the next one 1935 the seventh these are Stalinist shows there are no longer genuine congresses and in 1943 they dissolve the the Communist international as a gesture to their bourgeois allies the Americans the British to show them what they were not interested in revolution confirming what the Trotsky had said the nationalist degeneration of the communist parties they were no longer interested in them in world revolution but simply preserving their position as bureaucrats and at the time Ted grant wrote a text the rise and fall of the Communist international published in June 1943 and he starts thus the Third International has been officially buried in the most in undignified uncuff ashin it would be possible to conceive it has passed off the stage of history hurriedly and without consultation etc just signed off the death the death certificate of the of the Comintern now that's what the Stalinist did with the with the Communist international I don't have time to go into that into in detail but as you see the United Front the trade unions the women's question the youth question the national question the colonial question and theoretical issues in general are all discussed at a very high level in these congresses and they are the heritage that we defend and we should study those texts organize discussions like the one we're having here the world school will be dedicated to this question and use it to explain what kind of organization we aspire to building it will be a mass revolutionary International which will come from processes within the existing labor movement as it is and the contradictions which will emerge under them under the pressure of events as the crisis of capitalism deepens as the class struggle evolves this will inevitably produce shifts to the left either currents within the existing parties or the emergence of new ones such as melon Sean's movement in France or podemos partially in in Spain although they're cutting across that because of their own reform ISM but we see everywhere indications of this even Sanders is to a degree an expression of this process in the United States he wouldn't exist if there wasn't a radicalization within the American working class it's early days how it's going to unfold what is going to emerge is it going to be a party that's created by the trade unions well with these trade union brat bureaucrats as they stand that's going to take a bit of time it could emerge as a political force from other developments but something from somewhere is going to come we can't we're not in the business of crystal ball gazing and looking at the details but some kind of mass force of the American workers will emerge at some stage we don't know exactly how the currents will develop but it's there we've got to educate our comrades on that and be prepared to intervene you see the lessons of history the revolutionary Marxist can sometimes lose opportunities and if you've lose an opportunity you're not gonna get a second chance very quickly it can then prepare a defeat of the working class so we're preparing to intervene in those processes and the lessons of the Third International are precious in educating our comrades in how to do this and what our aims are you




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *