Third Congress of the Communist International

On Tactics

Source: Theses Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congress of the Third International, translated by Alix Holt and Barbara Holland. Ink Links 1980;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

12 July 1921 (drafted by Russian delegation in consultation with German delegation; introduced by Radek).

I. Definition of the Question

A new international association of workers is being formed to organise the united action of the proletarians who live in different countries, but share a common aim: the overthrow of capitalism, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the transition to the first stage of Communist society – an international Soviet republic which will completely eliminate classes and will establish socialism. This definition, confirmed in the statutes of the Communist International, clearly points to all the tactical questions that have to be solved – the tactical questions, in other words, that we face in our struggle for the proletarian dictatorship: how to win the majority of the working class to Communism, and how to organise the more active section of the proletariat for the coming struggle for Communism. The statutes also touch on the questions of what attitude the proletariat should take to the proletarianised petty-bourgeois layers, the quickest ways to bring about the disintegration and destruction of the organs of bourgeois power and how to prepare for the dictatorship. There is no question of there being any other path to victory than through dictatorship. The development of the world revolution has proved beyond any doubt that in the given historical situation the dictatorship of the proletariat is the only alternative to the dictatorship of capital. The Third Congress of the Communist International is reviewing the question of tactics at a time of revolutionary developments in a whole number of countries, when several mass Communist Parties have been formed, none of which, however, has yet taken into its hands the actual leadership of the working masses in its genuinely revolutionary struggle.

II. On the Eve of New Battles

The world revolution, which is produced by the decay of capitalism, the accumulation of the revolutionary energy of the proletariat and its organisation into a militant, triumphant force, will require a long period of revolutionary struggle. Because the level of social conflict varies from one country to another, social structures and the obstacles to social change also vary. In the capitalist countries of Western Europe and North America, the World War has not been followed by the victory of the world revolution, because the bourgeoisie here is highly organised. The Communists were therefore right when they said, even during the war, that the epoch of imperialism would develop into a protracted epoch of social revolution, i.e., into a long series of civil wars in individual capitalist states and a succession of wars between capitalist governments on the one hand and proletarian states and the exploited colonies on the other. The world revolution does not develop along a straight line: at certain periods of chronic capitalist decay, the day-to-day revolutionary work aimed at undermining the system leads to heightened social tension and acute crises. However, the world revolution is developing even more slowly than was expected, because strong workers’ organisations and workers’ parties, namely the social-democratic parties and the trade unions, which were created by the proletariat to fight the bourgeoisie, turned during the war into organs of counter-revolutionary influence that ensnared the proletariat and are continuing to hold it in their grip. As a consequence, the bourgeoisie has found it easier to cope with the problems of the demobilisation period and, during the fluke period of economic prosperity in 1919 and 1920, was able to raise working-class hopes of improving their position within the framework of the existing capitalist system. The proletarian defeats of 1919 and the sluggish growth of the revolutionary movement in 1919 and 1920 can be attributed to the influence of the social-democratic parties and trade unions. However, the world economic crisis which began in 1920 and has now spread right across the world, creating and increasing unemployment on every hand, demonstrates to the international proletariat that the bourgeoisie is powerless to rebuild the world from the ruins of the war. Political conflicts at the international level are intensifying. The French campaign of plunder against Germany, the conflicting interests of Britain and America, and America and Japan, and the resulting increase in armaments on a worldwide scale are evidence that the moribund capitalist world is approaching the brink of world war. Even the League. of Nations, that international trust set up by the victors to organise the exploitation of their defeated rivals and the colonial peoples, has been split by Anglo-American rivalry. The working class is beginning to shed its illusions and understand that if it rejects revolutionary means of seizing political power in favour of acting peacefully and gradually, it can never establish political and economic rule. By fostering these illusions, international social-democracy and the bureaucracy of the trade unions have up until now managed to restrain the working masses from participation in revolutionary struggle. In Germany, however, the farcical nationalisation programme which the Schiedemann-Noske government employed in March 1919 to prevent a workers’ uprising has been shelved. Idle talk about socialisation has given way to Stinnesation i.e., the subordination of German industry to a capitalist dictatorship and its clique. The attack launched by the Prussian government under the social-democrat Horsing is merely the prelude to a general campaign by the German bourgeoisie aimed at reducing the wages of all German workers. In Britain all nationalisation projects have been thrown overboard. Instead of implementing the nationalisation plans of the Sankey Commission, the government is using military force to support the lock-out of the miners. The French government is only saving itself from economic bankruptcy by robbing Germany. It is giving no thought to the question of systematic economic reconstruction. There has been some attempt to rebuild the devastated regions of northern France, but only in so far as this serves to enrich the capitalists. The bourgeoisie in Italy, aided by the reactionary fascist groups, has taken the offensive against the proletariat. Bourgeois democracy has had to compromise itself everywhere, both in the countries where it has been long established and in the new nations which have risen from the ruins of imperialism. Witness the White Guard organisations and the dictatorial government action against the miners in Britain; the fascists and the Guardia Regia in Italy; the Pinkertons, the expulsion of socialist deputies from parliaments and lynch-law in the United States; the White Terror in Poland, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Latvia and Estonia; and its legalisation in Finland, Hungary and the Balkan States; anti-Communist legislation in Switzerland, France, etc. On every hand the bourgeoisie is attempting to push the consequences of the deepening economic chaos onto the shoulders of the working class by lengthening the working day and reducing levels of pay. Its efforts are aided by the leaders of social-democracy and the Amsterdam Trade-Union International. However, while they may succeed in temporarily delaying the development of new working-class struggles and a new wave of revolutionary activity, they cannot stem the tide. At this very moment the German proletariat is preparing a counter-attack and the British miners, in spite of being betrayed by their trade-union leaders, have been fighting heroically against the capitalist mine-owners for many weeks. The advanced sections of the Italian proletariat have learnt from their experience of the vacillating policies of the Serrati group and their will to fight has hardened, as witnessed by the creation of the Italian Communist Party.

We can see how the Socialist Party in France, now that it has split and dissociated itself from the social-patriots and the centrists, is no longer content with engaging in Communist agitation and propaganda, but is initiating mass campaigns against the outrages of imperialism. In Czechoslovakia we have seen the political strike of December in which, despite the complete absence of a united leadership, millions of workers took part and after which the mass revolutionary Czech Communist Party was founded. In February there was the railway strike in Poland led by the Communist Party, and also a general strike called in sympathy with the railway workers. We are now witnessing the disintegration of the social-patriotic Polish Socialist Party. In the present situation we must expect not the ebb of the revolutionary wave, but on the contrary the aggravation of social contradictions, the escalation of the social struggle and the transition to open civil war.

III. The Most Important Tasks of the Day

At the present moment the most important task of the Communist International is to win a dominant influence over the majority of the working class and involve the more active workers in direct struggle. Although the economic and political situation is objectively revolutionary and a revolutionary crisis could develop without warning as a result of a major strike, a colonial uprising, a new war or a serious parliamentary crisis, the majority of the working class is nevertheless outside the Communist sphere of influence. This is particularly true in countries such as Britain and America where finance capital is so powerful that it has enabled imperialism to corrupt entire sections of the working class, and effective revolutionary mass propaganda is in its early stages. From the day of its foundation the Communist International has clearly and unambiguously stated that its task is not to establish small Communist sects aiming to influence the working masses purely through agitation and propaganda, but to participate directly in the struggle of the working masses, establish Communist leadership of the struggle, and in the course of the struggle create large, revolutionary, mass Communist Parties.

Even in the first twelve months following its foundation the Communist International repudiated sectarian tendencies and demanded that all affiliated parties, however small, should work in the trade unions in order to defeat the reactionary union bureaucracy from within and transform the unions into revolutionary mass proletarian organisations that could further the proletarian struggle. In its first year the Communist International made it clear that the Communist Parties were not to act merely as propaganda circles, but were to take advantage of all the opportunities the bourgeois state provided for organising the working class and conducting agitation. Freedom of the press, freedom of association and A bourgeois representative institutions were to be used, the International argued, even if the freedoms they offered were very limited. In its resolutions on the trade-union movement and on the tactic of parliamentarianism passed at its Second Congress, the Communist International politically rejected sectarian tendencies.

The experience of the Communist Parties over the last two years of struggle has fully confirmed the position taken by the Communist International. The tactics of the Communist International have in a number of countries succeeded in separating the revolutionary workers not only from the open reformists, but also from the centrists. The latter have founded the Two-and-a-Half International which openly joins the Scheidemanns, Jouhauxs and Hendersons in accepting the positions of the Amsterdam Trade-Union International. This can only clarify the real state of affairs for the proletarian masses and make future battles easier to fight. At the time of the January and March struggles in 1919, German Communism was only an insignificant political tendency, but by pursuing the tactics of the Communist International – revolutionary work in the trade unions, open letters, etc. – it has transformed itself into a great and revolutionary mass Party. The influence the Party has gained in the trade unions has been so great that the trade-union bureaucracy, fearing the revolutionary influence of Communist activity, has been forced to expel many Communists from the trade unions and take the blame for splitting the unions. In Czechoslovakia the Communists have succeeded in winning the majority of the politically organised workers to their side. The Polish Party, in spite of incredible persecution which has forced it underground, has worked in the trade unions so effectively that it has not only maintained contact with the masses but come forward as the leader of the mass struggle. In France the Communists have won a majority in the Socialist Party. The Communist groups in Britain are consolidating their position by following the tactics and directives of the Communist International. The social-traitors have responded to the growing influence of the Communists by trying to close the doors of the Labour Party to them. The sectarian Communist groups such as the KAPD in Germany etc. have, on the other hand, not met with any success at all. The theory of promoting Communism by propaganda and agitation alone and by the formation of separate Communist trade unions has been proved utterly incorrect. Not a single Communist Party of any influence has been formed by these means.

IV. The Situation in the Communist International

The Communist International has not been totally successful in its attempts to organise mass Communist Parties. A great deal still remains to be done in some of the most important countries, where capitalism is still firmly in position.

For various historical reasons there was no large revolutionary movement in the USA in the period before the war and even now the Communists are still at the elementary stage of creating a nucleus of Party members and establishing links with the working masses. The present economic crisis, which has thrown five million people out of work, means favourable conditions for this kind of work. The American capitalists are well aware of the threat a revolutionised workers’ movement would represent and of the influence that Communism would be likely to have on such a movement. They are therefore trying to suppress and destroy the young Communist movement, employing barbarous methods of persecution to force the Party underground. They hope that the Communist Party will lose its links with the masses, degenerate into a propaganda sect and die a natural death. The Communist International reminds the United Communist Party of America that, though it is illegal, the Party must not only recruit and educate members, but must do all it can to reach beyond its underground organisations to the discontented working masses and find ways and means of uniting the broad masses in open political struggle against the American capitalists.

The British Communist movement has also failed to develop into a mass Party, despite the fact that the Communists have united in a single Party.

The British economy continues to be unstable, the strike movement is without precedent, the broad masses are growing increasingly dissatisfied with the Lloyd George government and it is possible that at the next General Election there will be a Lib/Lab victory. New perspectives for the development of the revolution are opening up in Britain, placing questions of the utmost importance before the Communists.

The most important task of the British Communist Party is to become a mass Party. The British Communists must take as their starting point the mass movement which already exists and is continuing to expand. They must study every aspect of the movement and base a persistent and militant campaign of agitation and propaganda on the various individual and partial demands of the workers.

For many thousands and millions of workers the strength of the strike movement is the test of the reliability, perseverance and good intentions of the trade-union apparatus and its leaders. The work the Communists do in the trade unions is therefore particularly important. Party criticism coming from the outside is less effective than the persistent, daily efforts of the Communist cells in the trade union to show up and discredit the hypocrites and traitors of the union movement, who, in Britain more than in any other country, have become political pawns in the hands of the capitalists.

In countries where the Communist Parties are mass Parties, they aim at taking greater initiative in launching mass action, but in Britain the Party must make it a priority to intervene in mass activity and show the masses in practice that the Communists represent working-class interests, demands and feelings effectively and bravely.

The mass Communist Parties of Central and Western Europe are not only developing methods of revolutionary agitation and propaganda that can give expression to their militancy, but are making the transition from propaganda and agitation to action. This transition is hampered by the fact that in many countries the workers became revolutionary and moved towards the Communists under leaders who had not broken with their centrism and are either incapable of conducting genuine Communist agitation and propaganda or are simply afraid of doing so, because they know that this agitation will lead the Party to revolutionary struggle.

In Italy these centrist tendencies have brought about a split in the Party. Instead of harnessing the spontaneous, growing movement of working-class activity in order to develop a conscious struggle for power, for which the conditions in Italy were ripe, the Party and union leaders of the Serrati group have allowed opportunities to slip by. They did not see Communism as a means of initiating revolutionary upsurge and uniting the working masses in the struggle. They were afraid to fight and so they diluted their ideas and gave their agitation and propaganda a centrist slant. The influence of centrists in the Party (Turati and Treves) and in the unions (d'Aragona) increased. There was nothing either in their words or deeds to distinguish these centrists from the reformists, with whom as a consequence they were loath to part company, preferring to break with the Communists. This Serrati-type policy increased on the one hand the influence of the reformists and on the other the danger of anti-parliamentary, ultra-left tendencies emerging in the Party. The split at Livorno and the formation of an Italian Communist Party uniting all the Communists on the basis of the decisions of the Second Congress of the Communist International could make Communism a mass force in Italy. This will depend on whether the Party keeps firmly to its fight against the opportunist policy of Serrati, at the same time maintaining close contact with the trade-union rank and file during strikes and in the struggle against the counter-revolutionary fascist movement. It also depends on whether the Party unites the mass action of the working class and transforms spontaneous action into well-prepared campaigns.

The chauvinist poison of ‘national defence’ and the intoxication of victory proved stronger in France than in any other country and the reaction against the war developed at a slower pace. Nevertheless, the majority of the French Socialist Party moved towards Communism even before the march of events posed decisively the need for revolutionary action. Socialists were influenced by the Russian revolution, the revolutionary struggles in other capitalist countries and the experience of their leaders’ betrayals. The more decisively the French Communists Party acts to rid its ranks, and in particular its leadership, of the national-pacifist and parliamentary-reformist ideology which still has a grip, the more completely and effectively the Party will be able to take advantage of its position. The Party must make closer contact than it has done in the past, or is doing at present, with the mass and particularly with the more oppressed layers in both town and country, in order to gain a precise and complete picture of their needs and sufferings. The Party must make a clean break with all the hypocritical formality and false courtesy of French parliamentarianism, deliberately fostered by the bourgeois to hypnotise and intimidate the working masses. The parliamentary representatives of the Communist Party must do all in their power through their tightly controlled parliamentary interventions to show the hollow nature of nationalist democratism and traditional revolutionism and present every question as one of class interests and inevitable class struggle.

Agitation must, in practice, be concentrated on a few issues and be conducted with more energy. It must be capable of adapting to the changes in the political situation.

Agitation must draw revolutionary lessons from each and every event, whether of major or minor importance, and see that they are learned by the most backward of the working masses. Only by adopting such a truly revolutionary approach can the Communist Party become something more than just a left wing of the radical Longuet bloc – a ‘bloc’ that is more and more eagerly and successfully placing itself at the service of bourgeois society, offering to shield it from the series of upheavals which are inevitably approaching. The decisive revolutionary events may come sooner or they may come later, but a disciplined, determined revolutionary Communist Party, even at this preparatory stage, can mobilise the working masses around economic and political demands and broaden and develop their world-view.

The attempts of politically impatient and inexperienced elements to resort to extreme methods, e.g., the proposal that those conscripted in 1919 resist the call-up, contain elements of a highly dangerous adventurism that demands an all-out revolution when it is a single issue that is being raised. If these methods were adopted, all the real revolutionary work done to prepare the proletariat for the seizure of power would be set back for some considerable time.

The French Communist Party and all other Parties must reject such highly dangerous methods. In no circumstances, though, must the Party use this as a pretext for inactivity.

Closer contact with the masses means, above all, closer contact with the trade unions. The aim of the Party is not to achieve the mechanical and formal subordination of the trade unions, but to ensure that the truly revolutionary elements inside the unions which are unified and led by the Party give trade-union activity a direction that accords with the general interests of the proletariat in its struggle for dictatorship. The French Communist Party must criticise in a friendly but also clear and firm manner those anarcho-syndicalist tendencies which reject the dictatorship of the proletariat and deny the need to unite the vanguard within a single centralised leading organisation – in other words through a Communist Party. The Party should also be critical of those syndicalist tendencies that are using the charter of Amiens – drawn up eight years before the war – as an excuse to avoid giving a clear and straight answer to this fundamental question of the post-war period.

The French syndicalists’ dislike of politicians is mainly the expression of a perfectly justified sense of indignation at the conduct of traditional ‘Socialist’ parliamentarians.

The Communist Party as a genuinely revolutionary Party can convince all revolutionary elements that political groups are needed if the working class is to win power. The fusion of the revolutionary syndicalist and Communist organisations is essential if the French proletariat is to engage in serious struggle. The revolutionary sydnicalists’ tendency to act prematurely, and their principles of loose organisation and organisational separatism, must be defeated and rejected. Success in this endeavour will only be achieved, we repeat, if the Party takes a revolutionary approach to the day-to-day questions of life and struggle and proves capable of attracting the French working class.

Over the last two years the working masses of Czechoslovakia have largely freed themselves from reformist and nationalist illusions. In September of last year the majority of the social-democratic workers broke away from their reformist leaders. In December one million of the three-million-strong industrial work force took part in a mass revolutionary struggle against the Czech capitalist government. In May of this year a Czechoslovak Communist Party with 350,000 members was established alongside a German-Bohemian Party with 60,000 members which had been founded some time before. The Communists therefore represented a significant section not only of the Czechoslovak proletariat, but of the population as a whole. The Czechoslovak Party now has to engage in effective Communist agitation to win still wider masses of workers to the Party and to educate them by using its clear and uncompromising Communist propaganda. The Party must unite the workers of the country’s different nationalities and form a solid proletarian front against nationalism. Nationalism is the main weapon of the Czechoslovak bourgeoisie and so if the proletariat can form a united front it will be invincible in the forthcoming battles against the government and against capitalist oppression. The clarity and determination with which the Party discards its centrist traditions of hesitation and the willingness with which it revolutionises and unites the broadest proletarian masses and prepares them for victorious struggle will depend on the establishment of the united front. Congress resolves that the Czechoslovak and German-Bohemian Party organisations should merge by a date decided upon by the Executive Committee.

The United Communist Party of Germany, formed by the fusion of the Spartacusbund and the left independent working masses, is already a mass party but the tasks facing it are enormous: to increase its influence on the broad masses, strengthen the proletarian mass organisations, win the trade unions and break the influence of the social-democratic parties and the trade-union bureaucracy, and thus lead the mass proletarian movement in future struggles. All the Party’s agitational and organisational work must therefore aim at winning the sympathy of the majority of the working class, for without their support Communism cannot defeat the power of German capital. Neither the content of the agitation nor it influence is as yet adequate for this purpose. Nor is it the case that the Party has succeeded in consistently following the course laid down in its ‘Open letter’ – the course of counterposing the practical interests of the proletariat to the right-wing policy of the social-democratic parties and the trade-union bureaucracy. The Party press and its organisation still bear the stamp of a peaceful association rather than of a militant organisation. Because of its centrist tendencies, the Party, when faced with the need to fight, is inclined to take up struggles without sufficient preparation; at the same time, it lacks vital contact with the, non-Communist masses. The German national economy continues to disintegrate and capitalism threatens the very existence of the working masses. The VKPD win soon have to move into action. This action will only be effective if, .instead of seeing agitation and organisation as a way to prepare for action, the Party maintains its. revolutionary militancy at all times, carries out agitation that can reach the people, and builds an organisation that has close contact with the masses and is capable of weighing the military situation carefully and preparing thoroughly for the struggle.

The Parties of the Communist International can become revolutionary mass parties only when they finally overcome the tradition and influence of opportunism in their ranks. They can achieve this by maintaining the closest contact with the working masses in their struggles, deriving their tasks from the battles of the proletariat, and rejecting revolutionary demagogy and the opportunist and self-deceiving policy of smoothing over irreconcilable social contradictions. The Communist Parties came out of the split in the old Socialist Parties. This split occurred because during the war these parties scabbed on the proletariat and continued to do so after the war had ended, forging alliances with the bourgeoisie or following a cowardly policy of avoiding struggle. The fundamental positions and principles of the Communist Party provide the basis for the unity of the working masses, because they sum up all the needs of the proletarian struggle. The social-democratic and centrist parties and currents atomise and divide the working masses, while the Communist Parties are a force for unity. Thus, when the majority of the German Party chose Communism, the centrists broke away. Fearing the influence of Communism, the German social-democrats and Independent democrats as well as the social-democratic trade-union bureaucracy rejected the Party’s suggestion that they work with the Communists to defend the day-to-day interests of the proletariat. In Czechoslovakia it was the social democrats who split the old Party when they saw that the Communists had won. The Communist Party in France is working to unify the Socialist and syndicalist workers, while the Longuet group has cut itself off from the majority of the French socialist workers. In Britain the reformists and centrists are afraid of the Communists’ influence; they have driven the Communists out of the Labour Party and are constantly sabotaging attempts to unite workers in the fight against the capitalists. Everywhere it is the Communist Parties which are supporting proletarian unity based on the struggle to defend proletarian interests; an awareness of their role will give the Communists new strength.

V. Single-Issue Struggles and Single-Issue Demands

The Communist Parties can only develop through struggle. Even the smallest Parties should not limit themselves to propaganda and agitation. The Communists must act as the vanguard in every mass organisation. By putting forward a militant programme urging the proletariat to fight for its basic needs, they can show the backward and vacillating masses the path to revolution and demonstrate how all parties other than the Communists are against the working class. Only by leading the concrete struggles of the proletariat and by taking them forward will the Communists really be able to win the broad proletarian masses to the struggle for the dictatorship.

All the agitation, propaganda and political work of the Communist Parties must start from the understanding that no long-term improvement in the position of the proletariat is possible under capitalism and that only the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the destruction of capitalist states will make possible the transformation of working-class living conditions and the reconstruction of the economy ruined by capitalism. This does not mean, however, that the proletariat has to renounce the fight for its immediate practical demands until after it has established its dictatorship.

Even though capitalism is in progressive decline and is unable to guarantee the workers even a life of well-fed slavery, social democracy continues to put forward its old programme of peaceful reforms to be carried out on the basis and within the framework of the bankrupt capitalist system. This is a deliberate deception of the working masses. Although it is evident that capitalism in its present stage of decline is incapable of guaranteeing workers a decent human existence, the social democrats and reformists everywhere are daily demonstrating their unwillingness and inability to fight even for the most modest demands in their programme. The demand advanced by the centrist parties for the socialisation or nationalisation of the most important branches of industry is equally a deception because it is not linked to a demand for victory over the bourgeoisie. The centrists want to divert the workers from the real, vital struggle for their immediate goals by holding out the hope that industrial forms can be taken over gradually, one by one, and that ‘systematic’ economic construction can then begin. The social democrats are thus retreating to their minimum programme, which now stands clearly revealed as a counter-revolutionary fraud.

Some centrists think that their programme of nationalisation (e.g., of the mining industry) is in line with the Lassallean idea of concentrating all the energies of the proletariat on a single demand, using it as a lever of revolutionary action that then develops into the struggle for power. However, this theory is false. In the capitalist countries the working class suffers too much; the gnawing hardships and the blows that rain down thick and fast on the workers cannot be fought by fixing all attention on a single demand chosen in a doctrinaire fashion. On the contrary, revolutionary action should be organised around all the demands raised by the masses, and these separate actions will gradually merge into a powerful movement for social revolution.

The Communist Parties do not put forward minimum programmes which could serve to strengthen and improve the tottering foundations of capitalism. The Communists’ main aim is to destroy the capitalist system. But in order to achieve their aim the Communist Parties must put forward demands expressing the immediate needs of the working class. The Communists must organise mass campaigns to fight for these demands regardless of whether they are compatible with the continuation of the capitalist system. The Communist Parties should be concerned not with the viability and competitive capacity of capitalist industry or the stability of the capitalist economy, but with proletarian poverty, which cannot and must not be endured any longer. If the demands put forward by the Communists correspond to the immediate needs of the broad proletarian masses, and if the masses are convinced that they cannot go on living unless their demands are met, then the struggle around these issues becomes the starting-point of the struggle for power. In place of the minimum programme of the centrists and reformists, the Communist International offers a struggle for the concrete demands of the proletariat which, in their totality, challenge the power of the bourgeoisie, organise the proletariat and mark out the different stages of the struggle for its dictatorship. Even before the broad masses consciously understand the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat, they can respond to each of the individual demands. As more and more people are drawn into the struggle around these demands and as the needs of the masses come into conflict with the needs of capitalist society, the working class will come to realise that if it wants to live, capitalism will have to die. This realisation will be the main motivation in their struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The task of the Communist Parties is to extend, deepen and unify the struggle around these concrete demands. The bourgeoisie mobilises to respond to every step the working masses take in fighting for even a single demand and, on the occasion of any major economic strike, the whole ruling class comes swiftly to the side of those employers threatened, in order to prevent the proletariat from winning even a partial victory (mutual employers’ aid in Czechoslovakia, the bourgeois strike-breakers in the rail strike in Britain, and the fascists in Italy are examples). In the struggle against the workers the bourgeoisie mobilises its entire government machine: in Poland and France workers have been called up into the army; emergency laws were passed in Britain during the miners’ strike. In this way, workers fighting on single issues are automatically forced to take on the whole bourgeoisie and its government apparatus. As the struggle over single issues and the separate struggles of different groups of workers develop into a general working-class struggle against capitalism, the Communist Party must extend its slogans, grouping them around the main slogan of overthrowing the enemy. The Communist Parties should make certain that the demands they put forward not only correspond to the demands of the broad masses, but also draw the masses into battle and lay the basis for organising them. Concrete slogans that express the economic need of the working masses must lead to the struggle for control of industry – control based not on a plan to organise the economy bureaucratically and under the capitalist system, but on the factory committees and revolutionary trade unions. Only the creation of such organisations and their co-ordination within the different industries and areas makes possible the organisation of a unified struggle of the working masses and a fight against the split in the mass movement – a split for which social democracy and the leaders of the trade unions bear responsibility. The factory committees will be able to accomplish their tasks only if they are established in the course of the struggle to defend the economic interests of the broad working masses and if they succeed in uniting all the revolutionary sections of the proletariat – the Communist Party, the revolutionary workers’ organisations, and those trade unions undergoing a process of radicalisation. The objections raised against single-issue demands and the accusations that campaigns on single issues are reformist reflect an inability to grasp the essential conditions of revolutionary action. This was the case with the opposition of certain Communist groups to participation in trade unions and in parliament. It is not a question of appealing to the proletariat to fight for the ultimate goal, but of developing the practical struggle which alone can lead the proletariat to the struggle for the ultimate goal. The fact that even the tiny organisations formed by the so-called Left Communists as sanctuaries of pure theory have been forced to formulate single demands, in order to attract a larger number of workers to the struggle than they have hitherto managed to muster, is the best proof that their objections to partial demands are groundless and divorced from the realities of revolutionary life. The present epoch is revolutionary precisely because the most modest demands of the working masses are incompatible with the continued existence of capitalist society, and the struggle for these demands is therefore bound to develop into the struggle for Communism.

While the capitalists are using the growing army of unemployed to put pressure on the organised workers by lowering wages, the cowardly social democrats, the Independents and the official leaders of the trade unions distance themselves from the unemployed; they regard them as objects of state and trade-union charity and categorise them politically as lumpen-proletarian. The Communists must understand clearly that in the present circumstances the army of the unemployed represents a revolutionary factor of tremendous significance. They must assume the leadership of this army. By exerting pressure on the unions through the unemployed, the Communists can hasten the liberation of the trade unions from the influence of their scab leaders. By uniting the unemployed with the proletarian vanguard in the struggle for socialist revolution, the Communist Party can restrain the more revolutionary and impatient elements among the unemployed from engaging in individual acts of desperation. If conditions are favourable, the Party can organise the mass of unemployed in support of the action of one or another section of the proletariat and, by extending the struggle beyond the limits of the original conflict, can make it the start of a major offensive. In short, the unemployed can be transformed from the reserve army of labour into an active army of the revolution.

By actively defending this layer of the working class, by supporting the most oppressed section of the proletariat, the Communist Parties are not championing one layer of the workers at the expense of others, but are furthering the interests of the working class as a whole. This the counter-revolutionary leaders have failed to do, preferring to advance the temporary interests of the labour aristocracy. The more unemployed or short-term workers there are, the more important it is that their interests become the interests of the working class as a whole, and the more important it is that they are not subordinated to the interests of the labour aristocracy. Those who promote the interests of the labour aristocracy, either counterposing or simply ignoring the interests of the unemployed, destroy the unity of the working classes and are pursuing a policy that has counter-revolutionary consequences. The Communist Party, as the representative of the interests of the working class as a whole, cannot merely recognise these common interests verbally and argue for them in its propaganda. It can only effectively represent these interests if it disregards the opposition of the labour aristocracy and, when opportunities arise, leads the most oppressed and downtrodden workers into action.

VI. Preparing the Offensive

The character of the transition period makes it imperative that every Communist Party does all it can to prepare for military combat. Any confrontation may turn into a struggle for power. The Party can only achieve a sufficient level of preparation if all its agitation is a vehement attack on capitalist society, if, through its agitation, it succeeds in making contact with the broadest layers of the people, and if it speaks to them in a language which can convince them that the vanguard at their head is fighting for power. The task of the Communist press and propaganda is not just to prove theoretically that Communism is right, but to herald the proletarian revolution. The job of the Communists in parliament is not to debate with their opponents or attempt to convert them, but to unmask ruthlessly the agents of the bourgeoisie, encourage the working masses to take up the struggle and win the semi-proletarian and petty-bourgeois layers to the side of the proletariat. Our organisational work in the trade unions and Party must not be aimed at consolidating structures and increasing membership in a mechanical way, but at preparing for the battles of the future. Only when the Party’s activity and organisation is permeated with the will to struggle can it take advantage of the opportunities for large-scale militant action.

Where Communist Parties represent a mass force and have an influence on the broad working masses outside the Party organisation, they must encourage the masses to struggle. The influential mass Parties must not limit themselves to criticising other parties and counterposing Communist demands to theirs. Such Communist Parties have a responsibility for the development of revolutionary ideology. Wherever the position of the working masses is deteriorating, the Communist Parties must do all they can to get the working masses to fight for their interests. In Western Europe and America where the working masses are organised in trade unions and political parties and the emergence of spontaneous movements is therefore only likely to be a rare occurrence, the Communist Parties must try to launch a joint struggle for the immediate interests of the proletariat by strengthening their influence in the trade unions and increasing their pressure on the proletarian-based parties. Should non-Communist parties be drawn into the struggle the Communists must warn the working masses that they could be let down by these parties at any stage of the struggle. The Communists must do all they can to intensify the conflict and consolidate their position so that, if necessary, they can continue the struggle independently. The ‘Open letter’ of the VKPD is an excellent example of this tactic. If Communist Party pressure in the press and on the trade unions is not sufficient to produce a united proletarian front in the struggle, the Communist Party must independently lead large sections of the masses into action. The Party must rouse the masses from passivity by organising a militant proletarian minority.

The most active and conscious section of the proletariat can defend the interests of the whole class with success only if it is able to involve the backward masses, if it proposes goals which stem from the actual situation and if these goals are accepted by the broad masses, who, even though they are not yet capable of fighting for these interests, recognise them as their own.

The Communist Party, however, must do more than just defend the proletariat from the dangers threatening it and the blows directed at it. In the period of the world revolution the Communist Party is essentially a party on the offensive, a party at war with capitalist society. It must extend and intensify every defensive struggle, transforming it into an attack on capitalist society. It must make every effort. whenever the conditions are right, to draw the working masses into this campaign. To reject in principle this policy of taking the offensive means to abandon the basic tenets of Communism.

Taking the offensive depends, firstly, on stepping up the struggle in the camp of the bourgeoisie at the national and international level. If the forces of the class enemy are divided by this struggle, then the Party must take the initiative into its own hands and, after careful political and – where possible – organisational preparation, lead the masses into battle.

Secondly, it depends on important sections of the working class displaying a militancy which gives grounds for hope that the working class as a whole is ready to form a united front against the capitalist government. If the movement is growing, the Communist Party must develop more militant slogans; in the event of a defeat, it must organise a disciplined and orderly retreat. The actual circumstances determine whether the Communist Party wages a defensive or an offensive struggle. What is most important is that the Communist Party should be ready and willing to fight, and that its agitational and organisational work and struggle should be capable of overcoming the centrist attitude of ‘wait and see’ which holds back even the advanced workers. The mass Communist Parties must be ready and willing to take the offensive at any moment, not only because it is their duty as mass Parties to wage such a struggle, but because the contemporary situation is one of capitalist decay and falling living standards of the masses. This period of decline must not be allowed to continue, for otherwise the material basis of Communism will be destroyed and the militancy of the working masses crushed.

VII. The Lessons of the March Events

The March Action was forced upon the VKPD by the government’s attack upon the proletariat of central Germany.

This was the first important struggle in which the Party intervened, and it committed a number of mistakes. In the first place, it failed to emphasise clearly the defensive character of the struggle. The bourgeoisie, the SPD and the USPD – unscrupulous enemies of the proletariat – were able to use the fact that the Party called for an offensive to prove to the proletariat that the VKPD was attempting a ‘putsch’. Several Party comrades made matters worse by developing the theory that this offensive was at that time the Party’s main method of struggle. The Party – through its chairman comrade Brandler has officially admitted this mistake.

The Third Congress of the Communist International nevertheless considers the March Action to have been a step forward. Hundreds of thousands of proletarians participated in an heroic struggle against the bourgeoisie. By assuming the leadership of the defence of the workers of central Germany, the VKPD has shown itself to be the party of the German revolutionary proletariat. Congress is of the opinion that by adapting its fighting slogans to the actual situation, studying more thoroughly the balance of forces and co-ordinating its actions, the VKPD will be better placed to organise mass action.

The VKPD must pay careful attention to the facts and opinions which point to the obstacles to action and must examine thoroughly the arguments put forward against action. The Party must then be in a position to weigh carefully its chance of success.

Once the Party has decided on a certain course of action, all comrades must abide by the decisions of the Party and actively assist in their implementation. Criticisms should be made only after the campaign has been completed, only inside the Party organisations and only after taking into consideration the position of the Party in relation to the class enemy.

VIII. Forms and Methods of Direct Action

The forms and methods and the scope of the struggle are dependent – as are the questions of offensive and defensive action – on certain conditions which cannot be created at will. Previous revolutionary experience has shown us various forms of partial action:

431 Action by individual sections of the working class (the action of the miners and railway workers etc. in Germany and Britain and of agricultural workers etc.).

432 General working-class action directed towards a limited objective (the action during the Kapp putsch and the action of the British miners against their government’s military intervention in the Russo-Polish war.

Such struggles may spread across individual regions or across a number of countries simultaneously.

In the course of the revolution these methods will. be employed in every country. The Communist Party must not refuse to launch actions which are confined to a particular locality, but it must strive to transform every important local working-class action into a general struggle. The Party aims to involve the whole working class in the defence of workers of any one branch of industry and similarly persuade the proletariat in other industrial areas to come out in support of a local workers’ struggle. Revolutionary experience shows that the larger the field of battle, the greater the chance of victory. In its struggle against the unfolding world revolution the bourgeoisie relies, on the one hand, on the White Guard organisations and, on the other, on the atomisation of the working class and the difficulties in forming a united proletarian front. The larger the number of people drawn into the struggle and the broader its scope, the more the enemy is compelled to divide his forces. Sometimes workers move to support the section of the proletariat under attack, but for a time have few forces at their disposal. Even in this situation the capitalists have to divide their military strength, since they have no way of knowing to what extent these workers will take part in the struggle and to what extent their intervention will escalate the conflict.

Over the last year the capitalist offensive has become increasingly bold. One can observe that the bourgeoisie is no longer satisfied with the usual state institutions and in every country has created under its protection various legal and semi-legal White Guard organisations which have been playing an important role in all the major economic confrontations.

In Germany an organisation known as Orgesh has been formed; it has government backing and receives support from parties whose political leanings range from Stinnes to Scheidemann.

In Italy the activities of the fascist gangsters have brought about a complete change in the mood of the bourgeoisie and apparently also in the balance of forces.

When the Lloyd George government in England was faced with the threat of a strike, it called for volunteers prepared to defend property and ‘the right to work’ by scabbing on the strikers and destroying their organisations.

The semi-official French paper, Le Temps, which is clearly under the influence of the Millerand clique, is waging a campaign to promote the already existing Civic Leagues and introduce the methods of fascism into France.

American liberty has always been supplemented by strike-breakers and assassins but these have now acquired an organisation – the American Legion – which recruits the riff-raff left over from the war.

The bourgeoisie boasts of its power and stability, but the bourgeois governments know perfectly well that they have only won a brief respite and that in the present circumstances any mass strike could develop into a civil war and a direct struggle for proletarian power.

Not only must Communists be at the forefront and explain the fundamental revolutionary tasks to those participating in the struggle, but they must also work with the most dedicated and active elements of the industrial work force, create proletarian military organisations and workers’ defence groups, oppose the fascists and prevent the jeunesse dorée of the bourgeoisie slandering and attacking strikers.

The Communist Party, and particularly its trade-union cells, must devote special attention to the extremely important question of counter-revolutionary organisations. A good intelligence and communication network must be organised which can keep a constant watch on the military organisations and forces of the White Guards, their headquarters and arms depots. It must check on the links between the White Guard headquarters and the police, the press, and the political parties, and must have detailed contingency plans ready for defence and counterattack.

The Communist Party must work through words and actions to convince the widest sections of the proletariat that, given the right combination of circumstances, every economic and political conflict can develop into a civil war which raises the question of the seizure of state power.

The Communist Party must not forget the horrors of the White Terror and must warn the proletariat against giving way to the enemy’s pleas for clemency at the time of the insurrection. The oppressors of the proletariat must be tried according to the principles of proletarian justice administered through the organised people’s court. When the proletariat is only preparing for struggle and is only beginning to mobilise through agitation, political campaigns and strikes, the use of weapons and acts of sabotage have a point only if they are aimed at obstructing the transport of troops intended for use against the fighting proletarian masses or at wresting strategic positions from the enemy in direct struggle. Individual acts of terrorism reflect the revolutionary indignation of the masses and can be justified as a protest against the lynch law of the bourgeoisie and its social-democratic hangers on, but they are in no way capable of raising the level of proletarian organisation and militancy, for they create the illusion amongst the masses that individual acts of terrorism can take the place of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat.

IX. Our Attitude to the Semi-Proletarian Strata

In Western Europe there is no class other than the proletariat which is capable of playing the significant role in the world revolution that, as a consequence of the war and the land hunger, the peasants did in Russia. But, even so, a section of the Western-European peasantry and a considerable part of the urban petty bourgeoisie and broad layers of the so-called middle class, of office workers etc., are facing deteriorating standards of living and, under the pressure of rising prices, the housing problems and insecurity, are being shaken out of their political apathy and drawn into the struggle between revolution and counter-revolution. The bankruptcy of imperialism in the countries which were victorious in the world war, and the bankruptcy of pacifism and semi-reformist currents in the countries which were defeated, drives these middle layers either into the camp of open counter-revolution or into the camp of revolution. The Communist Party must always be concerned with these layers of the population. One of the main prerequisites for the triumph of the proletarian dictatorship is the winning of the small farmers to the ideas of Communism. This would make it possible to take the revolution from the industrial centres out into the countryside and create organisations in the villages to arrange food distribution – one of the most vital questions of the revolution. It is also important to win the sympathy of technicians, white-collar workers, the middle- and lower-ranking civil servants and the intelligentsia, who can assist the proletarian dictatorship in the period of transition from capitalism to Communism by helping with the problems of state and economic administration. If such layers identify with the revolution, the enemy will be demoralised and the popular view of the proletariat as an isolated group will be discredited. The Communist Party must watch closely the ferment within the petty-bourgeois layers and make as effective use of them as possible, even when they still cling to bourgeois illusions. The Communist Parties must draw into the proletarian front those sections of the intelligentsia and office workers which have freed themselves from these illusions, using them to win the support of the petty-bourgeois masses who are militant but not yet committed to the revolution.

The economic disintegration and consequent dislocation of state finances will force the bourgeois to condemn to increasing poverty the lower- and middle-ranking civil servants who are the main supporters of its own state apparatus. The economic decline of these layers directly threatens the whole structure of the bourgeois state and, though conflicts may be temporarily resolved, it is becoming more and more difficult for the bourgeois state to preserve its organisational base. In the same way it becomes impossible for capital to preserve its system of exploitation while at the same time guaranteeing a decent standard of living to its hired workers. By defending the interests of the lower- and middle-ranking civil servants regardless of the state of public finances, the Communist Parties are carrying out very important preliminary work for the destruction of the bourgeois state-institutions and preparing for the construction of the proletarian state.

X. International Co-ordination of Action

We must put all our energies into achieving a united international leadership for the revolutionary struggle. Only then will it be possible to effect a breach in the international counter-revolutionary front and employ the forces of the Communist International to hasten the victory of the revolution. The Communist International demands that all the Communist Parties render each other maximum support in the struggle. The national economic battles that are developing require that the proletariat of other countries, wherever possible, intervenes immediately. The Communists must use their influence to see that the trade unions not only oppose by all the means at their disposal the dispatch of blacklegs, but ban all exports to the countries where large sections of the proletariat are engaged in struggle. Where the capitalist government of one country takes action against another with the aim of robbing or dominating it, the Communist Parties must not simply make protests, but do everything to obstruct such a campaign of plunder. The Third Congress of the Communist International welcomes the demonstrations organised by the French Communists as the beginning of a more active struggle against the counter-revolutionary role of French capitalist exploitation. Congress reminds the French comrades of their duty to do all they can to bring the French soldiers in the occupied zone to the realisation that they are acting as the policemen of French capital and that they ought to refuse to play this shameful role. The French Communist Party has to make the French people understand that by allowing the army of occupation to be organised and drilled in the spirit of nationalism, it is tying its own noose, for the occupied areas are the training-ground for troops which will subsequently be at hand to crush the revolutionary movement of the French working class. The presence of black troops in France and in the occupied territories gives the French Communist Party special responsibilities. It provides the French Party with the opportunity of approaching these colonial slaves and explaining to them that they are serving their own oppressors and exploiters, of rallying them to fight against the colonial regime and establishing links with the peoples of the French colonies.

The German Communist Party must make it clear to the German proletariat that there can be no struggle against exploitation by Entente capital unless the German capitalist government is overthrown. For despite the noises of opposition to the Entente, the German government acts as its overseer and agent. The VKPD will only be able to encourage the proletarian masses of France to fight French imperialism if it mounts a fierce and relentless struggle against the German government, which would show that far from seeking to give bankrupt German imperialism a new lease of life, the Party wishes to free itself from the domination of this imperialism and fight alongside the working masses of France and Belgium for the reconstruction of Europe on Communist lines. The Communist International has made it clear to the international proletariat that it views the indemnity demands of the Entente capitalists as a campaign of plunder directed against the working masses of the defeated nations and has denounced the attempts of the Longuists and Independents to find a way of minimising the harmful effects of this campaign for the working masses as a cowardly capitulation to the Entente stock exchanges. The International demonstrates to the proletariat of France and Germany that the only way to reconstruct the devastated areas and to improve the lot of widows and orphans is to rally the proletariat of both countries to struggle together against their exploiters. The German proletariat can assist the Russian proletariat in its uphill climb only if, by its own victories, it brings nearer the unification of Russian agriculture and German industry.

It is the duty of Communist Parties in countries whose troops are participating in the subjugation and division of Turkey to use all available means to conduct a campaign to revolutionise these troops. The Communist Parties of the Balkan countries must do their utmost to oppose nationalism by establishing a Balkan Communist federation which could hasten their victory. The victory of the Communist Parties of Bulgaria and Serbia would bring about the fall of the shameful Horthy regime and end Boyar rule in Rumania, extending the base for agricultural revolution into most of the more industrially developed neighbouring countries. Unconditional support of Soviet Russia is still the priority for the Communists everywhere. Communists must resolutely resist any attempts to attack Soviet Russia and fight to eliminate the obstacles erected by the capitalist states to prevent Soviet Russia from establishing links with the world market and with the peoples of other countries. Only when Soviet Russia has successfully reconstructed its economy and alleviated the terrible poverty caused by three years of imperialist war and three years of civil war will productivity improve and the country be in a position to help the future victorious proletarian states of the West with food and raw materials and protect them from strangulation by American capital.

The international political task of the Communist International is not to organise demonstrations when important events take place, but to make sure that the links between the different national tightly organised Communist fronts are continuously improved. It is impossible to predict in advance on which front the proletariat will succeed in making a b break-through – whether it will be in Germany, where the proletariat is harshly oppressed by the German and Entente bourgeoisie and where the choice is between death or victory, or in the agrarian countries of South-East Europe, or in Italy, where the decline of the bourgeoisie has reached an advanced stage. The Communist International must therefore do everything it can to intensify proletarian militancy on all sections of the international front. Communist Parties must do their utmost to support the major campaigns of each individual section of the Communist International. This can best be achieved if, whenever there are large-scale conflicts in one country, other Communist Parties bring any internal conflicts in their own countries to a head.

XI. The Decline of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals

The third year of the Communist International is witnessing the further political decline of the social-democratic parties and the reformist leaders of the trade-union movement.

Over the last year, however, they have attempted to achieve organisational unity and have attacked the Communist International. During the miners’ strike in Britain, the leaders of the Labour Party and the trade unions considered it their duty deliberately to destroy the workers’ front that was being formed and to protect the capitalists from the workers. The breakdown of the Triple Alliance is proof that the reformist leaders of the trade unions have no desire to fight to improve the position of the working class even within the framework of the capitalist system. When the German social-democratic party withdrew from the government, it became obvious that the party was no longer capable of even the oppositional agitation that social democracy had conducted in the pre-war period. If it made any oppositional gestures, its chief aim was to prevent the working class from engaging in struggle. In spite of the fact that, nationally, German social democracy was supposedly an opposition party, in Prussia it organised a White Guard campaign against the miners of Central Germany with the conscious aim of provoking an armed struggle before the Communists had had time to organise themselves for militant action. The German bourgeoisie had capitulated to the Entente; the Entente had dictated terms which the German bourgeoisie can only meet by reducing the German proletariat to abject poverty – but, in spite of this, German social democracy has entered the government once again and is assisting the bourgeoisie in enslaving the German proletariat.

In Czechoslovakia social democracy is mobilising the army and the police to deprive worker-Communists of their homes and organisations. The dishonest tactics of the Polish social-democratic party are helping Pilsudski to organise the intervention against Soviet Russia. The party helps the government to put thousands of Communists in prison, and throws Communists out of the trade unions where, in spite of all the persecution, they are winning more and more workers to their side. The Belgian social democrats remain in a government which is involved in subjugating the German people. The centrist parties and groups of the Two-and-a-Half International are conducting themselves just as shamefully as the counter-revolutionary parties. The German Independents have rejected outright the appeal of the German Communist Party for a joint struggle against the fall in working-class living standards, irrespective of the differences that divide them. The Independents registered their disapproval of the White Terror, but this was after they had unequivocally taken the side of the White Guard government during the battles of March, after they had helped contribute to the victory of the White Terror and had, in full view of the bourgeois republic, slandered the proletarian vanguard as gangsters, robbers and lumpen-proletarians. In spite of the fact that back at the Halle congress the party promised to support Soviet Russia, it is now conducting a slanderous campaign against the Russian Soviet republic in its press. It has joined Wrangel, Miliukov and Burtsev and the Russian counter-revolution in supporting the Kronstadt rising against the Soviet republican rising which signifies that the international counter-revolution has adopted a new tactic against the Soviet republic. It plans to overthrow the Russian Communist Party – the heart and soul, the brain and the backbone of the Soviet republic – judging that without the Party, the country is a lifeless corpse that can be dealt with easily. The French Longuetists have joined the German Independents in the campaign against Soviet Russia and, in doing so, have clearly sided with the French counter-revolutionaries who, the facts show, have supported the new tactic. It is the policy of the Italian centrist groups of Serrati and d'Aragona to retreat in the face of every struggle; this has given the bourgeoisie new strength and the possibility, with the help of the fascist bands, of dominating the Italian scene.

In spite of the fact that the centrist parties and social democracy differ only in the phrases they use, these groups have not so far united in one International. Last February the centrist parties even established their own international organisation, complete with political platform and statutes. On paper this Two-and-a-Half International hovers between the slogans of bourgeois democracy and those of proletarian dictatorship. In practice, it not only helps the capitalist class in each individual country, encouraging the development of splits within the working class, but even shows the bourgeoisie how to carry out its programme of exploitation without unleashing the revolutionary force of the masses – and this in spite of the fact that the bourgeoisie is responsible for the complete destruction of the world economy and the subjugation of part of the world by the capitalist states who, as Entente members, won the war. Both reformists and centrists are frightened of the power of capital, but the Two-and-a-Half International differs from the Second International in that it is also afraid of clearly formulating its position in order not to lose once and for all its influence over the masses, who have been radicalised but are still politically naive. The basic political similarity between the reformists and centrists, finds its expression in their common defence of the Amsterdam Trade-Union International, this last stronghold of the international bourgeoisie. In those trade unions in which they still possess some influence, the centrists have joined the reformists and the trade-union bureaucracy in fighting the Communists; they have responded to the attempt of the Communists to revolutionise the trade unions by excluding them from membership. In these ways, the centrists have shown that they can rival the social democrats as leaders of the counter-revolution and as staunch opponents of proletarian struggle.

Now and in the future the Communist International must firmly oppose not only the Second International and the Amsterdam Trade-Union International, but also the Two-and-a-Half International. Only by giving daily examples of the unwillingness of the social democrats and centrists to fight either for the overthrow of capitalism or for the most basic and pressing demands of the working class can the Communist International destroy the influence these agents of the bourgeoisie have on the working class. This struggle can be brought to a successful conclusion only if the Party completely suppresses any centrist deviations in its ranks. In its daily practice the Communist International has to show that it is an International of Communist action and not just of Communist phraseology and theory. The Communist International is the only organisation of the international proletariat which can provide the principles and the leadership needed in the fight against capitalism. Internal cohesion and international leadership and activity must be improved so that the Communist International can achieve the goals set out in its statutes: “to organise joint action by the proletarians of different countries who are pursuing a single aim: the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of an international soviet republic. “