G. Zinoviev

[Summing up the Congress]

(December 1922)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 118, 30 December 1922, pp. 1009–1012.
On-line Publication: Zinoviev Internet Archive, January 2021.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Our Congress was held in a situation when no new special tasks could be formulated. We have a different task before us, with which I have already briefly dealt, namely, the task to proceed with the definition and the differentiation of the decisions arrived at at the first three congresses and especially at the Third Congress. I am of the opinion that this task has been brilliantly carried out by our Congress. For the first time, we met here as a truly International World Party. This was exemplified by the fact that we have dealt with the most important affairs of a large number of parties.

The greatest part of our work at this Congress consisted in selecting the most important questions with which they are concerned, – in Commissions, everyone of which was a miniature International Conference. We had before us a French, and Italian, a Czecho-Slovakiau, Norwegian, Danish, Yougoslavian, Polish, American, Spanish and some other questions. All these questions were of vital interest for the movements of the respective countries and all of them were studied and solved with the assistance of the best representatives of other parties, viz., by making use of the collective experience of all our parties. This means that our International is at last beginning to be a real world party. The Commissions have very carefully studied all the political and organisational questions with which the various parties were concerned. We may say that our Congress has treated every separate party like a good medical practitioner treats his patient, for it carefully investigated every tendency and every contentious question within the parties. Thus, the decisions which were taken are really and truly the result of the collective experience and collective spirit of our International organisation. If on some questions there are minorities within our parties (and this is unavoidable), these minorities must realise that what was decided here on the various questions, is really what the entire International considers to be right. This was the first time that we could allow ourselves the luxury to study so minutely the internal questions of a large number of our parties.

We had to deal with the French question. I trust that we have at last assisted our brother partv in France in overcoming the survivals of the old party. We discussed quite openly with our French comrades the weak points of their party, we have given them instructions which are the result of the collective experience of the International. We can therefore quietly await the results of these deliberations, trusting that our French brother party will eradicate the disease which is undermining its strength.

We had an Italian question, which was of a quite different nature. This was a question of giving the disrupted revolutionary working class new inspiration, fresh courage and confidence; of amalgamating the best elements of the Socialist Party with the Communist Party and of making proper use of the hard lessons of the past.

We had a Czech crisis which, I hope, is now overcome. This was a question of bringing back on the right path a small group of workers who, owing to the difficulty of the existing situation had got out of hand. We have every reason to feel proud that the majority of the Czech delegation, while having every justification for being indignant over the breach of discipline which occurred in Czecho-Slovakia, nevertheless fully agreed with the decisions of the Congress, which we trust, will put everything right in Czechoslovakia.

We had a Norwegian question, with one part of which we have just dealt. A struggle is going on there, the purport of which Comrade Bukharin explained today very clearly and minutely. Norway is still afflicted with semi-reformist and semi-syndicalist tendencies. Federalist traditions are mixed up within the party with semi-social-democratic elements. It therefore behoves us to tell the unvarnished truth to our Norwegian party, which is one of the strongest parties of the Communist International, and of the working class movement in general.

We dealt with a number of other questions, and I trust that we have solved them in a satisfactory manner.

Those minorities which are not quite satisfied with the decisions of our Congress will become convinced by their future experience, as the Congress became convinced in the Italian question, that the Communist problems of the Communist International as a whole are more important thin those of the individual Parties which belong to it.

At this Congress, we had 65 delegations representing 62 countries. Only 52 were represented at the Third Congress. This shows that our International is growing, and this is why it is necessary to prepare our work in detail, to define it carefully, and to give the Parties not only general political slogans and tactical formulas, but concrete advice. This process signifies that the Communist International is not only an organization, but that it is becoming a unified world organization of the proletariat.

We have also dealt with a number of general questions and our task therein was also to define the decisions which we have already reached on those questions. The resolution on tactics which we adopted today had only the modest purpose of enlarging upon the policies of the Second and especially the Third Congresses, and to adapt them to the concrete political tasks required by the present situation.

At this Congress we have also discussed for the first time the question of the workers government. Much had to be changed during the course of the discussion. This is just the purpose of the Congress that we may be able to influence each other and formulate the final experience of the whole International. Comrade Hoernle with whom we worked in the subcommission said to us: The problem of the workers government today is not quite clearly formulated; and I agree with him. But I answered him: We must have one or two workers governments and collect their experience and carry on a real revolutionary struggle under this slogan. I hope that it will not take long before we will have such experience in one or more countries.

In the question of the United Front, we have formulated quite precise tactics. This policy had already been issued, in a general form, in December; at the Fourth Congress we had to sum up the experience of almost a year and characterise the opposition with which this policy met. I hope that we have now formulated this policy of the United Front clearly for the coming period; our problem lies now in its application.

The case is the same for the agrarian problem. We had to adapt the theoretical resolutions of the Second Congress to the concrete circumstances and conditions in the various countries at the present period. This is what the Fourth Congress has done. At the Fourth Congress we did not want to bear the objection that the Communists had nothing to do with the peasantry, as some members expressed at the Second Congress. This is another victory for the Communist International. We have now a clear policy for the agrarian problem, and this is one half the preparation for victory. The working class can conquer power and hold it only if it can rally to the banner of Communism the majority ot the workers. But the second part of our task consists in neutralising a section of the peasantry in the struggle against the bourgeoisie and winning over the other to our side.

The theoretical resolution of the Second Congress and the practical programme of action of the Fourth have created a firm basis for agitation in the country, for our whole work among the agrarian population.

Let us go over to the problem of the Orient. Our general theoretical policy was formulated at the Second Congress. Our relation to the revolutionary non-Communist national movements has been clearly defined in the resolution of the Second Congress, and our theoretical policy remains the same. We have now a more important task before us, we must apply these decisions to the concrete conditions of a great number of countries which show a revolutionary movement. And 1 hope that the Fourth Congress has been able to make great progress in regard to our practical activity among the hundreds of millions of Oriental peoples.

At this Fourth Congress, we have not yet adopted a programme for the Communist International, but the cornerstone has been laid for this work. The drafts which were laid before us must naturally be changed. During the coming year we will try to collect the opinions of the whole International. Nevertheless, the first step has been taken, the first rules have been formulated, we now have a general line for our future programme.

We have dealt thoroughly with the Youth and Women problems. We have discussed the consumers co-operatives and every practical problem of our movement which forms the sum of the work of this Congress.

We have come to an important decision in regard to the Trade Union problem. We have united with the best elements in the Syndicalist movement of the world. Our understanding with the Syndicalists has nothing diplomatic about it, it is a frank and fraternal understanding, as befits Communists. Naturally, there are very important differences of opinion between us and our Syndicalist comrades who are not Communists although they claim this name. We differ with them on many theoretical and practical points. What we have done, however, openly, so that every worker may read it, is to form an alliance between revolutionists, an alliance between our International which claims to represent the true spirit of the working class, and a section of the working class which does not yet belong to us, but is ready to fight for Communism. This understanding with the Syndicalists is an important decision and a very important factor in the preparation of the International proletarian revolution.

To sum up; Look at the agrarian problem; the problem of winning over the peasants; look at the Oriental problem, the problem of winning over the oppressed peoples; look at the problem of winning over an important section of the working class which does not belong to us yet; look at the decisions of the workers government, the decisions to draw into our ranks the non-partisan, syndicalist, even Christian workers who are willing to fight against the bourgeoisie, that section of the Social-Democratic Party who are willing to fight on our aide: all this gives you a picture of the methodical, practical, conscious, serious preparations of all factors required to bring about the victory of the proletarian revolution.

At the present moment we cannot adopt any direct resolutions to begin the offensive. The time is not ripe for this. But we have taken all the measures which enable us to call the working class to the offensive when the time has come.

In this respect, I believe that the Congress has accomplished a gigantic work This Congress has been a great university for all of us. All of us have learned much. For the first time, we have made a thorough study of our affiliated Parties, we have become well acquainted with them. We know, not only the Central Committee of these Parties, but the Parties themselves, their weaknesses, their problems, their internal difficulties, their aims, their spirit. This is an important result for the whole International working class movement.

In the Trade Union problem, we have emphasised once again, with special force, the slogan of unity of the Trade Unions because these times require it. We must defend as one man the slogan of Unity of the Trade Unions because the Amsterdamers are trying to split them. This does not mean that we must compromise our Communist principles. Far from it.

On the 10th of December, a peace Congress will open in the Hague called by the gentlemen of the Amsterdam International They have been so good as to invite the Russian Trade Unions and the Russian consumers co-operatives. Of course they have not invited our Third International. They probably believe that we do not wish to fight against war or that our contribution to this struggle would be insignificant. We do not take this amiss. They have invited the Russian Trade Unions and the Russian consumers co-operatives. Our comrades have accepted the invitation. The Russian comrades have informed me that a member of our Executive, comrade Radek, has also left for the Hague as a representative of the Russian Trade Unions. If the gentlemen from Amsterdam do not give us the floor, which may well be expected from Social-Democrats, our comrades will take up the fight openly, and tell the Social Democrats openly to their face what is their due. That is, they will tell them: Well, gentlemen, if you wish to fight against war, you must give up the slogan of National defence. No one can fight against war who stands on the platform of national defence. If you wish to fight against war, you must recognise the necessity of propaganda in the army and conduct illegal work among the soldiers. If you are willing to proclaim the general strike against war, you must prepare it, you must first begin perhaps with a few one-day strikes against militarism, you must turn the army against war. For if we educate the Youth in bourgeois ideas for 20 years, how can we in the 21st year say to them: Now we propose to the army to enter on a general strike?

This is what we will tell the gentlemen from Amsterdam to their faces. We will remind them that they have signed the Versailles Treaty, and that therefore they are responsible for the present situation. We will remind them that the Trade Union International in 1914 was the chief support of the belligerent bourgeois governments. We will tell them all this to their faces, we will not spare them.

However, comrades, in spite of all this, we will fight for Trade Union unity at any price so that the eve of the revolution may not find us unprepared. We must prevent the destruction of this single real mass organization of the proletariat, this essential weapon in the class war for emancipation; we must preserve the unity of the Trade Unions at all costs.

This, in general, is the significance of our resolutions. We have made no flourishes. We have now to begin a relentless work of preparation in every Party, we must cleanse the Party of every doubtful element. It may not seem very important that here and there some bourgeois journalist has been expelled from our Party. No, comrades, this is no small matter; it means that the preparatory work of purification demanded by the Congress has begun. This is a prosaic and not always very pleasant task. But to prepare a real struggle, we must cleanse the Parties, test every member of our organizations so that we are sure of possessing a real Communist Party ready to play its historical role at the given time. We have adopted organisatory resolutions of the greatest importance; we have dissolved all federalist elements in our Party. We hope that a debate on the election of the Executive will not take place again at our Fifth Congress. We may disagree as to whether this or that comrade belongs to the Executive. We have a right to declare who has our confidence and who does not have it; but such a situation as the present, when blocs of two or three delegates demanded a representative in the Executive, and based their claims on nationalist grounds must never happen again. I hope that we have seen such a spectacle for the last time. We are a unified world party. That is why we must have a unified Central Executive. The members of this Executive may come from the Balkans, from Japan, from Germany, from Russia. We take the best proletarian forces of the movement wherever they exist. We will combat all federalist tendencies and insist upon a strict discipline.

A few more words on the question of discipline. Sometimes comrades declare that they are disciplined because they carry out the decisions with which they agree. This is no discipline; discipline first begins when one has to carry out the decision with which one is not in agreement. (A voice – Quite true!) We demand of those minorities who do not quite accept this or that decision referring to them that they submit to discipline. There is no question of discipline when one agrees – it is conviction. The international discipline begins from the moment when one has to carry out that which doesn’t quite please him.

I believe that the reorganisation of the Executive is of great importance.

It is not only a measure of organisation, but a political measure of great importance, a measure winch means that we shall become a world Party and shall really practise international discipline in all cases. In our resolution we emphasised what we have already said in the Third Congress. We have simply repeated it. We said: “Every big strike, every sporadic revolt, every important parliamentary, crisis, may under certain conditions, become the starting point for a great revolutionary movement, and even for a revolution itself. In this resolution we weighed and considered every word before we finally decided upon its insertion. This clause is absolutely correct and can be scientifically proven. No-one can say how much longer the period of stability will last or how much longer the offensive of capitalism will continue. No one can say when the moment will come when our defensive will proceed to an attack. But it is clear that we must no longer think in decades, but in single years.

And just as, from the point of view of time, we no longer deal with decades but with years, so, from the point of view of the dimensions of the revolution, it is no longer a question of single parties, but of the world situation. That is the present position We must however state frankly that one should not be too optimistic. Our immediate principal task is to win over the masses of the workers to us so that we may have power. The most widely extended work is needed for this, and this means the Communist International. In another couple of years we shall have a good solid basis of Communist Parties and then we shall be in a position to fear nothing.

The five years of the Russian Revolution have not been in vain. The greatest pride of the Russian workers and peasants lies m their ability to say: “In spite of all, you may see that in my own country I have been able to do something to arouse the workers of other countries and to organise them.”

Therefore, as I have said, in another couple of years we shall have time to breathe. We may see already that the preparatory work has been accomplished. In every country we have a Communist Party, and this has real historical importance. The creation of a strong nucleus of a Communist Party in a distant country has now more historical importance than the Versailles Treaty, than the Lausanne Conference, or than the so-called World Conferences with which the great diplomats are playing. The creation of the nucleus of a Communist Party in India for example is, from the historical point of view, a much more important matter than all these conferences.

Therefore, comrades, to work! We are going through hard times. We have shown in our resolution that fascism advances on an international scale. This means that hundreds and thousands of our best fighters will be imprisoned and killed by the bourgeoisie and by the social patriots who are hand in glove with the white Guards. We shall have to go through hard times. But that which has already been, has not been in vain the bourgeoisie, together with the Second and Two and a Half Internationals, has done its utmost to conquer us. But they have not succeeded. In the United Front we have found the tactical key to the whole situation.

We shall send an open letter to the Second International and to the Amsterdam International. They will decline as the social patriots have declined. Today 1 read an article in the Populaire the central organ of the French social patriots. When our French comrades called upon them to reply, they answered: “How can we make a United Front with you? Just see by the following quotations what Lenin wrote about us.” And then follow amiable remarks of Lenin about the French social-patriots. Then, they say, “Now see what Trotzky wrote about us.” And then follow a number of still better quotations. Then come a number of my little things. I have also treated them to several compliments. They collect all this together and say: “We can form no United From with you.” Perhaps the Second International will do the same. They probably think that we are going to coddle them, that we shall forget their crimes against the working class, and that we shall cease flagellating them before the eyes of the working class: Never! Our principal task in the near future will be continually to remind the Second International of this. The Amsterdam International is an International of traitors, because it is the tool of the bourgeoisie. But, above everything, we must have the United Front with all those workers who are for the fight against the bourgeoisie

In this sense, comrades, we finish our work; and we are convinced that the Fourth World Congress has rendered important services to all the 62 parties which are affiliated with us. To our tasks, comrades! And we wish you the greatest success in all those struggles which we have to accomplish, the difficulties which we have to overcome. You will take home with you the news that the Communist International is now greatly strengthened through many concrete decisions; that it has thoroughly studied all its plans and done its utmost in the present difficult situation. You will bring them the tidings that we stand as united as ever; that the Party has entered upon a period of the rallying of all truly revolutionary forces; in short, that we have begun to be a real united world party of Communism. Therefore let the tyrants, the bourgeoisie and their White and Yellow Internationals tremble. The future belongs to us: Long live the World Party of Communism.

(Loud and prolonged applause. The Kremlin Military Academy Band plays the International. All present rise and join in singing. This is followed by the singing of the Carmagnole and Bandiera Rossa (Red Flag) by the Italian and French comrades.)

Last updated on 5 May 2021