Source: Published in Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 (https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/472-toward-the-united-front), pp. 935-937
Translation: Translation by John Riddell
HTML Markup: David Walters for the Marxists Internet Archive, 2018
Copyright: John Riddell, 2017. Republished here with permission.
I have asked for the floor in order to speak on Comrade Eberlein’s report on reorganising the Executive Committee of the International. In the commission, I said that this involved a reorganisation not just of the Executive Committee but of the entire International. There are important questions at stake here, involving a de facto revision of the International’s statutes with regard to all relationships between the sections and the centre and the entire organisational work of the International.
I proposed that it was necessary to revise the International’s statutes. However, Comrade Eberlein has just said that this matter should be tabled until the next congress.
In my opinion, all aspects of the draft on organisation are quite acceptable. It contains provisions that are objectively very important, in as much as they aim to wipe out the last remnants of the federative organisational methods of the old [Second] International.
If it is possible to broaden the discussion a bit at this stage of the congress, the question could be posed whether everything that is required to achieve a genuine revolutionary centralism can really be attained through a reform of the organisational apparatus.
I have already said a few words on this theme in my comments on the report of the Executive Committee. I will not repeat this now; there is no time for that. A genuine centralisation would bring about a synthesis of the revolutionary movement’s spontaneous vanguard in every country, in order to end once and for all the crises of discipline that we experience at present. However, I must reiterate that if this is what we want, we must not only centralise the organisational apparatus but also simultaneously unify our methods of struggle and specify very precisely everything that relates to programme and tactics. We must explain to all groups and all comrades who belong to the International the meaning of the pledge of unconditional obedience that they make when they join our ranks.
As regards the international congresses, I am in complete agreement with abolishing the imperative mandate and with holding of national congresses after the world congresses. I concede without reservations that these measures are consistent with the principles of centralisation. However, in my opinion, we should not limit ourselves to stating that the interests of genuine centralisation requires getting rid of imperative mandates and holding international congresses before the national congresses. Some serious words must be spoken about the work and organisation of the congresses.
We have reached the final sessions of this congress, and we must concede that the performance has not been in all respects satisfactory.
Many important questions were analysed. We are in the final days of discussions, and we see that these discussions were not particularly effective.
We must look into the question of resignations. I agree with the view that these resignations must be prevented. We could also try a rule that has been successfully applied in our party, namely, that all resignations are immediately accepted, and the comrade who resigns cannot reassume his place in the party in the next one or two years. I believe that this system would lead to a significant fall in the number of resignations.
There is also a question before us that I must take up, despite the late stage in the congress’s deliberations. This is the proposal that there be a two-year period between the world congresses. If the next congress was going to be less overwhelmed with work and issues than this one has been, it would be quite correct not to repeat this significant expenditure of organisational, financial, and other resources. But I would like to raise the specific question of the amount of time that will pass before the Fifth Congress.
We are in the process of referring to the next congress questions of great importance. We are postponing adoption of a new programme – or, better said, the first programme of the Communist International. We have postponed the revision of the statutes, that is, the organisational link between the International and its sections.
After the report from the Executive we had a lengthy discussion of tactics. But the different speakers that took the floor, one after another, did not take up the great problem of the International’s tactics. They limited themselves to discussing some remarks by the Executive Committee on the work or the situation in this or that national section. But very important questions, like that of the workers’ government, for example, were not resolved in this discussion. This text was referred to a commission, which has not yet come to a decision. The question is still not clarified, and we have no time left for that. I do not propose that the question of tactics be reopened for a broad debate. But when I consider the programme, the statutes, and tactics, it seems to me absurd to suggest that the Fifth World Congress can take place only in two years. I therefore consider it appropriate to present to the congress a proposal on behalf of the majority of the Italian delegation that, given the important decisions that are being put off, the Fifth Congress of the International take place in the summer or fall of 1923.