November 24, 2017

The Attacks of the Opposition on Sections of the Comintern

The International Situation and the Defence of the U.S.S.R.
Speech Delivered on August 1
Comrades, I should like, first of all, to deal with the attacks of Kamenev, Zinoviev and Trotsky on sections of the Comintern, on the Polish section of the Comintern, on the Austrian, British and Chinese sections. I should like to touch on this question because they, the oppositionists, have muddied the waters here and have tried to throw dust in our eyes as regards our brother parties, whereas what we need here is clarity and not opposition twaddle.

The question of the Polish Party. Zinoviev boldly stated here that if there is a Right deviation in the person of Warski in the Polish Party, it is the Communist International, the present leadership of the Comintern, that is to blame. He said that if Warski at one time adopted—and he certainly did adopt—the standpoint of supporting Pilsudski's troops, the Comintern is to blame for it.

That is quite wrong. I should like to refer to the facts, to passages, well-known to you, of the verbatim report of the plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission held in July of last year,

I should like to refer to and cite the testimony of a man like Comrade Dzerzhinsky, who stated at the time that if there was a Right deviation in the Polish Party, it was fostered by none other than Zinoviev.

That was during the days of the so-called Pilsudski rising, 2 when we, the members of the Polish Commission of the E.C.C.I. and of the Central Committee of our Party, which included Dzerzhinsky, Unszlicht, myself, Zinoviev and others, were drafting the resolutions for the Communist Party of Poland. Zinoviev, as the Chairman of the Comintern, submitted his draft proposals, in which he said, among other things, that at that moment in Poland, when a struggle was flaring up between the forces that were behind Pilsudski and the forces that were behind the Witos government of Poland, that at such a moment, a policy of neutrality on the part of the Communist Party was impermissible and that for the time being no sharp pronouncements against Pilsudski should be made.

Some of us, including Dzerzhinsky, objected and said that that directive was wrong, that it would only mislead the Communist Party of Poland. It was necessary to say that not only a policy of neutrality, but also a policy of supporting Pilsudski was impermissible. After some objections, that directive was accepted with our amendments.

By this I want to say that it does not need much courage to come out against Warski, who made a mistake at that time and was suitably rebuked for it; but to blame others for one's own sins, to shift the blame for fostering the Right deviation in the Polish Party from the guilty one, Zinoviev, to the Comintern, to the present leaders of the Comintern, means to commit a crime against the Comintern.

You will say that this is a trifle and that I am wasting my time on it. No, comrades, it is not a trifle. The struggle against the Right deviation in the Polish Party is continuing and will continue. Zinoviev has—well, what is the mildest way I can put it—the audacity to assert that the Right deviation is supported by the present leadership of the Comintern. The facts, however, show the opposite. They show that Zinoviev is slandering the Comintern, that he is blaming others for his own sins. That is a habit with Zinoviev, it is nothing new for him. It is our duty, however, to expose this slanderous habit of his on every occasion.

About Austria. Zinoviev asserted here that the Austrian Communist Party is weak, that it failed to assume the leadership of the action that took place recently in Vienna. 3 That is true and not true. It is true that the Austrian Communist Party is weak; but to deny that it acted correctly is to slander it. Yes, it is still weak, but it is weak because, among other things, there is not yet that profound revolutionary crisis of capitalism which revolutionises the masses, which disorganises Social-Democracy and rapidly increases the chances of communism; it is weak because it is young; because in Austria there has long been firmly established the domination of the Social-Democratic "Left wing," 4 which is able, under cover of Left phrases, to pursue a Right-wing, opportunist policy; because Social-Democracy cannot be shattered at one stroke. But what indeed is Zinoviev driving at? He hinted, but did not dare to say openly, that if the Austrian Communist Party is weak, the Comintern is to blame for it. Evidently, that is what he wanted to say. But that is an impotent accusation. It is a slander. On the contrary, it was precisely after Zinoviev ceased to be the Chairman of the Comintern that the Austrian Communist Party was freed from nagging, from indiscriminate interference in its internal life, and thus obtained the opportunity to advance, to develop. Is it not a fact that it was able to take a most active part in the Vienna events, having won for itself the sympathy of the masses of the workers? Does not this show that the Austrian Communist Party is growing and becoming a mass party? How can these obvious facts be denied?

The attack upon the British Communist Party. Zinoviev asserted that the British Communist Party gained nothing from the general strike and the coal strike, 5 that it even emerged from the struggle weaker than it was before. That is not true. It is not true because the importance of the British Communist Party is growing from day to day. Only those who are blind can deny that. It is obvious if only from the fact that whereas previously the British bourgeoisie paid no serious attention to the Communist Party, now, on the contrary, it is furiously persecuting it; not only the bourgeoisie, but also both the General Council and the British Labour Party have organised a furious campaign against "their" Communists. Why were the British Communists more or less tolerated until recently? Because they were weak, they had little influence among the masses. Why are they no longer tolerated, why are they now being fiercely attacked? Because the Communist Party is now feared as a force to be reckoned with, because the leaders of the British Labour Party and General Council fear it as their grave-digger. Zinoviev forgets this.

I do not deny that, in general, the Western sections of the Comintern are still more or less weak. That cannot be denied. But what are the reasons? The chief reasons are:

firstly, the absence of that profound revolutionary crisis which revolutionises the masses, brings them to their feet and turns them abruptly towards communism;

secondly, the circumstance that in all the West-European countries the Social-Democratic parties are still the predominant force among the workers. These parties are older than the Communist Parties, which appeared only recently and cannot be expected to shatter the Social-Democratic parties at one stroke.

And is it not a fact that, in spite of these circumstances, the Communist Parties in the West are growing, that their popularity among the masses of the workers is rising, that some of them have already become, and others are becoming, really mass parties of the proletariat?

But there is still another reason why the Communist Parties in the West are not growing rapidly. That reason is the splitting activities of the opposition, of the very opposition that is present in this hall. What is required to enable the Communist Parties to grow rapidly? Iron unity in the Comintern, the absence of splits in its sections. But what is the opposition doing? It has created a second party in Germany, the party of Maslow and Ruth Fischer. It is trying to create similar splitting groups in other European countries. Our opposition has created a second party in Germany with a central committee, a central organ, and a parliamentary group; it has organised a split in the Comintern, knowing perfectly well that a split at the present time is bound to retard the growth of the Communist Parties; and now, throwing the blame on the Comintern, it is itself crying out about the slow growth of the Communist Parties in the West! Now, that is indeed impudence, unlimited impudence. . . .

About the Chinese Communist Party. The oppositionists cry out that the Chinese Communist Party, or properly speaking, its leadership, has committed Social-Democratic, Menshevik mistakes. That is correct. The leadership of the Comintern is being blamed for that. Now, that is absolutely incorrect. On the contrary, the Comintern has systematically rectified the mistakes of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Only those who are blind can deny that. You know it from the press, from Pravda, from The Communist International ; 6you know it from the decisions of the Comintern. The opposition has never named, and will not be able to name, a single directive, a single resolution of the Comintern capable of giving rise to a Menshevik deviation in the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, because there have been no such directives. It is foolish to think that if a Menshevik deviation has arisen in some Communist Party, or in its Central Committee, the Comintern must necessarily be to blame for it.

Kamenev asks: Where do the Menshevik mistakes of the Chinese Communist Party come from? And he answers: They can only come about owing to the faulty leadership of the Comintern. But I ask: Where did the Menshevik mistakes of the German Communist Party during the 1923 revolution come from? Where did Brandlerism 7 come from? Who supported it? Is it not a fact that the Menshevik mistakes committed by the Central Committee of the German Party were supported by the present leader of the opposition, Trotsky? Why did not Kamenev say at that time that the appearance of Bran-dlerism was due to the incorrect leadership of the Comintern? Kamenev and Trotsky have forgotten the lessons of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. They have forgotten that with the upsurge of the revolution Right and Left deviations are bound to appear in the Communist Parties, the former refusing to break with the past and the latter refusing to reckon with the present. They have forgotten that no revolution is without such deviations.

And what happened in our Party in October 1917? Were there not a Right and a Left deviation in our Party at that time? Have Kamenev and Zinoviev forgotten that? Do you remember, comrades, the history of the Menshevik mistakes that Kamenev and Zinoviev made in October? What were those mistakes due to? Who was to blame for them? Could Lenin, or the Central Committee of Lenin's Party, be blamed for them? How could the opposition "forget" these and similar facts? How could it "forget" that with the upsurge of the revolution Right and Left deviations from Marxism always make their appearance within the parties? And what is the task of the Marxists, of the Leninists, under such circumstances? It is to fight the Left and Right deviators.

I am surprised at the arrogance displayed by Trotsky who, you see, apparently cannot tolerate the slightest mistake being made by the Communist Parties in the West or in the East. He, if you please, is surprised that over there, in China, where there is a young party, barely two years old, Menshevik mistakes could make their appearance. But how many years did Trotsky himself stray among the Mensheviks? Has he forgotten that? Why, he strayed among the Menshe-viks for fourteen years—from 1903 to 1917. Why does he excuse his own straying among all sorts of anti-Leninist "trends" for fourteen years before he drew near to Bolshevism, but does not grant the young Chinese Communists at least four years? Why is he so arrogant towards others while forgetting about his own strayings? Why? Where is the "fairness" of it, so to speak?