V. I. Lenin

To G. V. Chicherin{3}

Written: December 27 or 28, 1918
Published: First published in 1965 in the Fifth Russian Edition of the Collected Works, Volume 50. Printed from the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 119.2-121.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2003 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

Comrade Chicherin,

We must urgently (to be endorsed in the C.C. before departure of the Spartacist{4}) prepare an international socialist conference for founding the Third International. (in Berlin (openly) or in Holland (secretly), say, for 1.11.1 9 1 9)
| | |

[generally very soon]

For this we must

(a) formulate platform principles (I think we could

(b) define the basis (organisational) of the Third International (nothing in common with the social-patriots);

(c) give a list of parties, roughly under three headings

I am offering a tentative list (p. 4){2} ; additions should be made with care.

Who are we inviting to our conference? Only αα + ββ + γγ and only those (1) who resolutely stand for a break with the social-patriots (i.e., the people who, directly or indirectly, supported the bourgeois governments during the imperialist war of 1914-18); 2) who are for a socialist revolution now and  f o r  the dictatorship of the proletariat; 3) who are in principle for “Soviet power" and against limitation of our work by bourgeois parliamentarism, against subordination to it, and who recognise the fact that the Soviet type of government is higher and closer to socialism.

Perhaps we should add that we do not suggest that the whole of the Third International immediately start calling itself “communist”, but we do place on the order of the day (for discussion) the question of resolutely rejecting the names of “Social-Democratic”and “socialist”parties, and adopting that of “communist” parties.

Arguments theoretical Engels and Marx
historical breakdown of the Second International
disgrace of social-patriotism
practical already accepted by
{ Russia
{ Finland
{ German
{ Austria
{ Holland
{ Hungary

Please tackle this job urgently, and together with Bukharin draw up a draft on all these points. Answer me at once, if only briefly.

Greetings! Lenin

On no account must the Zimmerwaldists be taken as a gauge.

(αα) Spartacusbund (Germany) The Communist Party of Finland German Austria Hungary Holland
Social-Democrats αα of Poland and Lithuania ” ” ” ” Russia Ukraine Estonia Latvia

ββ  The Tesnyaki of Bulgaria Rumanian Party? γγ  ((the Lefts and the young in     ((the Swiss Social-Democratic Party ββ  The Socialist Party of Scotland αα   the Left S.D. of Sweden ββ  the Norwegian S.D. Party ββ  the Danish S.D. group (Marie Nielsen) and the syndicalists, close to Bolshevism γγ  Loriot’s group in France ββ  the “League”in the United States (or followers of Debs?)

We count alignment on closer affiliation with……the British Socialist Party…ββ the Italian Socialist Party…{5} ββ


{1} Lenin is referring to the material for the draft of the Party’s new programme (see Vol. 24, pp. 455-79 and Vol. 27, pp. 152–58 of this edition).—Ed.

{2} The list is given at the end of this letter—Ed.

{3} Lenin’s letter to Chicherin was written in connection with the preparations for the first congress of the Comintern.

Already at the beginning of the first world war, when the collapse of the Second International occurred as a result of most of the leaders of the socialist parties in the West adopting a social-chauvinist stand, Lenin put forward the idea of founding a new, truly revolutionary International and pressed forward with a campaign to unite the Left socialist forces in the international labour movement. The victory of the October Socialist Revolution and its growing impact upon the international revolutionary movement, and the emergence of Communist Parties or groups in a number of capitalist countries made this task more urgent than ever and created favourable conditions for its solution.

The urgent need for uniting the Communists was further dictated by the fact that the opportunist, social-chauvinist leaders had made an attempt to revive the Second International. The leadership of the British Labour Party had addressed a proposal to the socialists of all countries to convene in Lausanne on January 6, 1949, an international socialist conference to rehabilitate the Second International. In reply to this proposal the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) circulated on December 24, 1918, a radio-telegram calling on all revolutionary internationalist elements to refuse to take part “in conferences of enemies of the working class wearing the mask of socialism”(Pravda No. 281, December 25, 1918). At the sametime Lenin, as his letter to Chicherin shows, raised the question of convening without delay an international conference of Communists and Left Social-Democrats with the aim of founding the Third International. p. —Ed.

{4} This refers to E. Fuchs, a member of the Central Council of the Sportakusbund. He arrived in Moscow from Berlin at the end of December 1918 to inform Lenin of the situation in Germany.

{5} A report was drawn up for Lenin on December 31 characterising the parties and organisations mentioned in his list In addition to those given by Lenin the report gave the names of eight more organisations. It also suggested inviting representatives of the Chinese, Korean and Persian revolutionary workers to the conference in the capacity of guests.

The same day Lenin received the draft of an appeal “To the First Congress of the Communist International”written at his request and in keeping with his proposals. Lenin made a number of important amendments to the draft.

In January 1919 the draft appeal “To the First Congress of the Communist International”was submitted by Lenin at ameeting of representatives of a number of communist and socialist parties and organisations. After a discussion, the meeting adopted the draft. The appeal was published in the press on January 24, 1918.

The First Congress of the Communist International was held on March 2-6, 1919 (see present edition, Vol. 28, pp. 453-77).—Ed.

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