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Comintern - Tenth Session August 4

Zinoviev: The session is open. Comrade Balabanova has the floor to make an announcement.

Balabanova: Comrades, unfortunately we are in the sad position of having to make an announcement that is as distressing for you as it is for us. The day before yesterday, when one of our best and most active comrades, Comrade Augusta Aasen, who comes from Norway, and who has been active in the movement for twenty years, visited the aerodrome to see our Red Air Force, an accident occurred to which she fell victim. We do not need to tell you how terribly and how deeply we feel this great loss. We ask you to rise to honour this comrade’s memory. [The assembly rises from its seats.] I thank you. We ask all comrades to take home with them the assurance that the Russian proletariat will not forget the comrade who has died, and even if her death was due to an accident, then it is still true that she came here and died in the struggle for the proletariat and out of love for the Communist International.

Zinoviev: The Bureau proposes, on behalf of the Congress, to express our deepest sympathy for our sister party in Norway. We will now proceed with the agenda. The agrarian question will be dealt with. The reporter, Comrade Meyer, has the floor.

Meyer: Comrades, since the real reporter on this question, Comrade Marchlewski, is prevented from speaking here in connection with the gratifying advances of the Red Army, I must make a substitute report in his place, bringing together briefly Comrade Lenin’s Theses and the work of the Commission.

The agrarian question has been placed on the agenda by the revolution in Eastern and Central Europe, and demands not only theoretical but also practical solution. The preparatory work for this has up until now been very slight, and the Second International has done as good as nothing in this area. In general one was satisfied with sketching beautiful pictures of the agricultural production of the future after the introduction of socialism. But how the rural population can be won for the proletarian revolution, and what struggles must be carried out to achieve this ideal goal – on that the Second International said very little, nor did it do anything to prepare something in practice.

The best elements of the Second International were satisfied with polemicising against the opportunist wing, which, on the basis of an incorrect reading of the statistical data, claimed in general that there was no question of the socialisation of landed property, and over and above that, that the social revolution could not take root in the countryside. On the basis of German statistics, the revisionists tried to prove that Marxist theories did not apply to the countryside, and on the basis of these theories they rejected the social struggle and rejected the social revolution. Those who did oppose these reformists did so like Kautsky – essentially for the purpose simply of proving that Marxist theory did apply after all in this field. Further practical conclusions were not however drawn from this.

The attitude of the Communist International to this question is a different one. For us it is a question of really revolutionising the countryside. For there can be no doubt about this, that without the active participation of broad layers of the rural population, it is impossible to secure and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. For us, for the Communist International, the securing of the revolution comes first, and all the questions connected with the agrarian question can only be considered and answered from this angle.

The task of the Communist International with relation to the agrarian question can be briefly summarised in the question: ‘How do we take the class struggle, the revolutionary struggle, out into the countryside?’ The revolutionising of the rural population, whose needs can only be satisfied by the revolution, stands on the agenda of history. Even the few experiences that it was possible to make here in Russia, the experiences that were made with agrarian reforms in Central Europe, confirm the thesis that forms the guiding star of the discussions of the whole Congress: bourgeois democracy is incapable of solving this question, and a satisfactory solution can only be achieved by the revolution and by the dictatorship of the proletariat. The parties that allegedly represent the interests of the rural population, like for example the Socialist Revolutionaries in Russia and the peasant-bourgeois parties in Europe, betrayed their own programmes when they had power in their hands and were able to turn their programme into deeds. Bourgeois democracy is incapable of solving this question.

It is not only the practical activity of the Socialist Revolutionaries in the Russian border states that proves this. In the other countries too all attempts at agrarian reform amount to destroying and dividing up a portion of large landed property, in order thus to create a new proletarian or semi-proletarian element that is to provide a cheap object of exploitation for existing large landed property. Whatever smallholding laws have been passed in Germany have remained on paper, or consist of creating elements of exploitation for large landed property. The single exception of a somewhat more serious looking agrarian reform has perhaps been created in Bohemia; but that too is only because the national differences between the Czech, Jewish and German elements have been emphasised, so that the Czech peasants have in part been satisfied by the expropriation of the other elements.

The Communist International must go beyond what bourgeois democracy has done and must especially strive to cancel the opposition between town and country, to forge together the urban and rural proletarian population for the common struggle, for the proletarian revolution. That happens, among other things, by making sure that the rural workers share all the advantages that are available to the urban workers, and further by raising the urban workers’ consciousness of the necessity of rural work.

The question of how the proletarian revolution can be taken out into the countryside, into the village, can only be solved if a detailed and precise analysis of the various layers of the rural population is drawn up. The Theses before you make the attempt to classify the rural population into various layers: first the agricultural proletarians, the wage-workers, secondly the semi-proletarians and small-holders, thirdly the small-peasants, fourthly the middle peasants, fifthly the large peasants, and sixthly the large landowners. Of course, this way of formulating the Theses only gives a general scheme. Given the variegated character of the composition of the rural population in the various countries, the conditions in every country must be studied accurately in order to be able to determine in detail where the revolutionising of the rural population can start. Here at the Congress only general outlines for judging the situation of the rural population and for working over by the Communist Parties can be given.

The group that comes into question for the proletarian revolution in the first place and completely is the rural workers, the forestry workers, and further the workers who are active in industrial enterprises that are connected with agriculture, such as dairies, distilleries, etc. The big market-gardening concerns, which employ a large number of wage-labourers, also come into question. The social position of this layer of the rural population is very difficult and bad, but also so wen known that we do not need to talk about it in greater detail. Their bad economic position, low wages and bad housing conditions, are connected with the political and social pressure exerted by the Junkers, so that this proletarian element will join the revolution without any further ado. This layer is among the most active elements within the proletarian revolution and, despite all the bad experiences of the past, its organisational ability is at the moment very great.

I only need to remind you that the agricultural workers union in Germany is today one of the biggest free trades unions and counts 500,000 members. In so small a country as Italy the agricultural workers’ union has over 800,000 members. That proves what importance this layer has for the social revolution and at the same time how relatively easy it will be to incorporate these layers in our ranks. This organisation must not be limited to the trade union field, but equally and even more these layers must be embraced by our political organs, by the Communist Parties. Over and above that, everything must be done in every other respect to win these layers, through educational work, etc.

I should like to add here something about activity among women in the countryside. That applies not only to women servants but also to the wives of small peasants who are forced to go to work by the war and by today’s social conditions. The fact that they do these jobs promises us success and can by no means be neglected. The questions that have already been settled by the Congress, work in the trades unions and in parliament, take on a special importance seen from this angle. When it is said by the opponents of activity in the trades unions that one has opportunity enough to organise the proletariat and carry out agitation, then this objection could perhaps apply to the industrial proletariat.

Getting a grip on the rural proletariat, on the other hand, can be done most easily through the work of communists in the agricultural workers’ unions and through participation in election campaigns. Big layers of the rural population can be brought into the sphere of revolutionary activity comparatively easily in both ways. The success of systematic agitation is very great.

Take the experiences in Russia and in Germany. In the March action, in replying to the Kapp putsch, Germany’s rural population behaved well and boldly. The landowners were chased out or locked up, agricultural concerns were maintained. The agricultural workers delivered the surplus of food to the towns without any further ado. Over and above that the rural workers got together and provided revolutionary fighting cadres for the proletariat in the towns. Not only during this struggle before the seizure of power, but also after the seizure of power the rural proletariat will be one of the strongest supports of soviet power. The question is to give an organisational form to this mainly, or provisionally, elemental movement of the rural proletariat. The formation of estate councils is the best way to bring the turbulent, elemental forces together.

The second layer of the rural population, the semi-proletarians and small-holders,, can also be won for the proletarian revolution in a similar way, if not so easily as the agricultural workers. This layer too is dependent upon the big landowners. They suffer the same difficulties as the agricultural workers. Indeed, their position is perhaps even more difficult, for the small-holders have in addition their own personal worries about their little piece of land. In most countries it would be to the point to enrol these semi-proletarian elements in the organisations of the actual agricultural labourers. The question is more difficult in the case of the small peasants and tenant farmers who are able to earn their keep by working their land, but do not employ any outside labour. Among them are also the small fruit and vegetable farmers and market gardeners. They are not revolutionary-minded, but nevertheless they come partially under consideration for our fighting ranks. The question is to educate them about the necessity of the social revolution and about their own interests.

In reality these small peasants are suffering greatly under present conditions. They too, even if usually indirectly, are dependent on the big landowners and on capital. They too perform unpaid labour in the way that they meet the interest payments on mortgages, pay inflated prices for agricultural machinery, and so on. The living standard of this layer is often purely proletarian. The pressure of taxes, deposit money and so forth, the general price increase under which this layer suffers, these are all questions that we must bring home to them through systematic agitation. It is not excluded that a professional organisation can be created within this layer also. Only last year an association of rural labourers and small peasants was set up in this way in Germany. It then emerged that there was no purpose in forming such an association outside the trades unions, and the association was dissolved. Nevertheless the small peasants in South Germany asked us to maintain it and to continue to publish our paper for it, saying that they had especial interest in our ideas. And so we have reached the point in Germany of forming an organisation for the peasants which, however loose, nevertheless has its importance.

In just the same way we encourage the small peasants in Germany to form themselves together in councils of small peasants in order not only to pursue economic interests, but also to take up the political and social struggle. I must add that this work has not as yet had any success. We have had estate councils in very many villages. The participation of small peasants has not yet been obtained. Nevertheless we are not backing down in this agitation. We have partially succeeded in convincing small peasants that a division of the land would bring no special advantages to them, and that it would be more to the point to form themselves together in councils of small peasants and co-operatives to run in common the large landed estates that are to be expropriated.

Admittedly, it must be emphasised that in many countries, particularly in the small western democracies, the small peasants are very reactionary, and in general therefore it must be assumed that during the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat a vacillation will make itself manifest in this layer, now to the side of private property, now to the side of communism. These small proprietors are demoralised by views of a private capitalist kind. In order to remove these vacillations and win support for ourselves we must bring them to an understanding that they too are suffering under the present system, and tell them what advantages they will enjoy in the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat and after the establishment of the proletarian state power.

We must assure them that they will be able to keep their little landed property, as there would be no sense in expropriating this little landed property, since at the time of the struggle neither the political nor the technical possibility would exist of farming this little property in common against the will of its proprietor. We must not only assure them that they will be able to keep their property, but we must also do everything to remove the usury under which these small peasants suffer. Liberation from the pressure of taxes, from rents, from the mortgage burden and from deposit money are advantages that must be granted to the small peasants by the proletariat without any further ado. Furthermore their rights to common grazing land and woods must be freed from dependence upon the big landowners. What is more, they must be promised help through being given buildings, machines, equipment and seeds which will be taken from the big landowners.

Finally they must be told that the co-operatives, which today in almost every country stand at the disposal of the rich peasants, must be transformed into organisations that exclusively serve the interests of the small peasants. In countries where there are certain limitations to free trade, and the obligation to make deliveries in kind, they must also be told that these forced deliveries of food must be maintained, but that the organisational apparatus necessary to carry them out will be taken from the bureaucracy and placed in the hands of the small peasants themselves. The small peasants must be made aware that they will obtain advantages from the socialisation of big firms and the cheapening of agricultural machinery. For that reason, systematic educational work must be carried out among the small peasants. They must be enlightened about their social position. If agitation is carried out in this way it is to be expected that the peasants will in part go with the proletariat, or at least will not become opponents of the proletarian dictatorship. Taken together, the groups of agricultural workers, semi-proletarians and small-holders form a splendid field for Communist Party work, and after the conquest of power by the proletariat all three layers will become clear that affiliation to the proletarian state is the best means to satisfy their own interests.

The question is even more difficult in the case of the middle peasants than it is in that of the small peasants. In part they use outside labour power and have large enough holdings to be able to produce a surplus of food. This layer is by no means small. It is pointed out in the Theses that this middle layer, with holdings of from 5 to 10 hectares, includes over half a million people in Germany. It is clear that it is impossible to drive this layer from its landholdings, as that would mean a cut in food production. What comes into question therefore is treating this layer differently. The attempt must be made to neutralise them. Kautsky pointed out that it is necessary to treat the peasantry in such a way that they do not give the bourgeoisie any active help. With these middle peasants too there is no question of the immediate abolition of private property. It will even be possible to give the middle peasants even more land, insofar as it is a question of land already rented by them, and in the process the middle peasants will also have the further advantage that for them too rents will be abolished.

Of course, all these advantages can only be granted to the middle peasants on condition they recognise soviet power, make food deliveries and offer no resistance. Here too experience in Russia shows that with such treatment it is possible to bring the middle peasants to a loyal attitude towards soviet power. This treatment of the middle peasants, maintaining private property, is necessary for the attitude of this layer of peasants amounts more or less to what one of the Russian peasants expressed in the bad joke: ‘We are for soviet power but against communism.’ The Russian example shows that these peasants will adapt and come to terms with proletarian state power if they are treated properly. In the Red Army a great-number of middle peasants are doing their duty against external enemies.

The peasants on the other hand, who as a rule employ outside labour power, are among the most numerous and determined opponents of soviet power, and it is to be expected that not only now, but also later, after the setting up of soviet power, they will carry out all sorts of sabotage and even offer military resistance. This danger must be clearly faced, and all preparations must be made to thwart this resistance and beat it down wherever it shows itself. The disarming of the large peasants must be carried out. But even with these large peasants there is no question of expropriation as an immediate task of the revolution. The rented land that is needed for small and middle peasants must be taken from them, and they will be completely expropriated without any further ado if they offer obstinate resistance. But should this condition not be present we will let the big peasants keep their land. It is important to eliminate the political and military resistance of this layer. And here too, experience in Russia shows that it is possible to call forth such a half-way loyal attitude in this layer. As soon as the victory of the proletarian revolution has been assured, it will emerge that the large peasants too will come to terms with the new conditions.

The big landowners, who in part even during the war undertook big land purchases, must immediately be expropriated without exception and without compensation. There can be no question of their being paid compensation for the expropriation, as Kautsky and other Independents propose. What happens with the land that has been expropriated? The simplest and most appropriate thing to do is to hand it over in common to the agricultural workers who previously worked on it. Soviet farms must be set up which run these estates on behalf of and as organs of proletarian state power, maintain themselves, and deliver the surplus to the soviet power. Under certain circumstances it will be possible to create collective enterprises that work the land co-operatively.

These two solutions are the best not only for the agricultural workers and the semi-proletarians, but also for the urban population, which will thus become partially independent of the peasantry in the question of supplies. It is a precondition for this solution that the rural proletariat has collected a certain wealth of technical experience. Since this precondition is not everywhere present, one must reckon with the fact that in special cases exceptions must be made. Such exceptions have been made in Russia, where big landed properties have in part been divided up. This exception is not the infringement of the principles of Communism that Kautsky tried to make out; for the main task of proletarian power consists in securing itself and the proletarian revolution, creating the foundations for Communism. All other questions must take second place to this main historical consideration. Even cuts in production, which can indeed have a painful effect even today, must take second place to this question.

When is it permissible to divide up big landed property? A division can only come into question when it is leased to small peasants, that is to say when this big landed property is not farmed as a unit. In this case the division does not at all mean relinquishing large-scale operation. Further, this division is possible when the big property is scattered in small peasant settlements. Here land hunger is so great that under certain conditions it has to be satisfied for the security of the revolution. In Southern Germany it is conceivable that the few big estates that exist will be divided up. And finally a division among the experienced peasants comes into question where the rural proletariat is too backward. The most important thing in any case is that the landowners should not be left on their estates, that they must be driven out, and if large-scale enterprise cannot be maintained without them, then the peasants must be won to working this land. After the establishment of proletarian power it will become possible to win bourgeois experts for this work under the control of soviet power.

The precondition for the winning of the rural proletariat is a determined struggle by the urban proletariat for the social revolution, without flinching at sacrifice, and in this the Communist Parties must be in the forefront as a vanguard. In order to win the layers that are still vacillating or are accessible to communist ideas, they must be granted economic advantages immediately after the victory of the proletarian revolution. The semi-proletarians; and the small and middle peasants must feel that they themselves gain advantages in the new order, and moreover these advantages must be granted at the expense of the exploiters.

In order to encourage the movement in the countryside it is necessary to establish relations with the economic struggle on the land, in the first place with the strike movement. Big strike movements have started on the land in almost every country, and these must be utilised by the Communist Parties in order to convince the rural proletariat that a real improvement of its position cannot be achieved by the granting of higher wages, but only by the victory of the proletarian revolution. In connection with these economic struggles the Communist Parties must also win the rural proletariat for themselves, and must create their own organisations. The rural proletariat must be convinced that they themselves must organise for the liberation struggle in the form of estates’ councils. A particular role falls to the industrial workers in the countryside, who mainly originate from the urban proletariat, in strengthening this movement. The Communist Parties must turn to them to carry the movement out into the countryside and strengthen it with their help. Special agitation among the small peasants is also necessary. It must be carried out by every available means. In the Theses further suggestions are made about how, through agitation, meetings, through the collaboration of the trades unions and the treatment of the agrarian question in parliament, the countryside can be revolutionised.

These, then, are briefly the tasks put before the Congress by the Theses. The Commission occupied itself, in several sessions, with the Theses, and undertook a large number of amendments, particularly a large number of stylistic amendments in the German edition. These Theses are intended only as a general framework for the activity of the Communist Parties in the countryside. It would be appropriate for the communists of every country to create their own agrarian programme, containing particular proposals. I should like to point out that in Germany for example such an agrarian programme of the KPD already exists.

As far as material amendments are concerned, in paragraph 2, on page 33, add: ‘The industrial rural workers, the forestry workers.’ after ‘wage labour in the capitalist. ...'

On page 34 add: ‘that a common organisation of agricultural workers ...’.

On page 38, point 4, several sentences have been deleted in which the interests of the middle peasants are opposed to those of the wage labourers. Where it says: ‘for the world outlook...’, to: ‘the victorious proletariat’, on page 39, add: ‘that there is no question of an immediate abolition of private property in the case of the middle peasants, on the contrary...'

The biggest amendments have been undertaken in paragraph 6. In the original version there is too much emphasis on the exception to the rule that the land cannot be divided up. The Commission deleted the sentence in the paragraph which says that it would be a mistake not to undertake the division of the land, and inserted a new sentence’... the principle that large-scale production must be maintained.’ The amendments are so numerous that I shall not read out the whole of the new version. The amendment corresponds almost word for word with a proposal from Comrade Marchlewski. In the German version on page 43, everything is deleted from the place where the section starts: ‘It would however be a great mistake...’, to the section on page 45: ‘the inventory of the large-scale concerns,’ and replaced by a new version. From then on the old text has been retained with few amendments. And then on page 46, a polemic against the Second International, against the German and English Independents, and against the French Longuetists has been deleted because the same thought has been expressed in another place.

Those are the essential amendments. In concluding I should like to point out how important it is for the Communist Parties to take the social revolution out into the countryside. It is impossible to secure the victory of the revolution, particularly in Central and Western Europe, without lining the rural proletariat up in the ranks of the urban proletariat. The particularly favourable conditions that existed in Russia through the fact that the peasantry has an interest in proletarian power through the question of ‘peace and land’, are in part missing in Central and Western Europe. That makes it all the more necessary for the Communist Parties to base themselves in the countryside on those parts of the rural proletariat that suffer in the same way as the urban proletariat, and in part even worse under present conditions. And the Commission hopes that the initiatives taken here will also bear fruit in the practice of the various Communist Parties in the various countries.

Graziadei: Comrades, I shall speak for myself, personally. First of all I should like to state that in general I accept the Theses that have been proposed to us by Comrade Lenin, particularly after the very interesting amendments that the Commission introduced especially in Thesis 6.

There exists a very striking similarity between Comrade Lenin’s Theses on the national and colonial question and the Theses on the agrarian question, even if the subject is a very different one. It is the same method, which is applied in different questions, and which consists in assessing the opponents and making concessions according to the requirements of the moment, or to what the people to whom one is making the concessions demand.

That is a method that one can define as the method of the minimum of effort, a method that aims at structuring the conquest of power more easily and quickly and creating conditions for the maintenance of power after its conquest.

I shall content myself with pointing out that this tendency reveals a danger that one could characterise as the danger of an opportunism from the left.

But the fact that these Theses and their application are entrusted to such comrades as Comrade Lenin and other Russian comrades can give us the certainty that this danger remains theoretical. However, I assure you that there are other countries and other situations where I would not be able to evince such confidence.

In order to facilitate the conquest of political power by the proletariat, Comrade Lenin’s Theses have a look at the peasant masses, divide them – analysing them all quite correctly – into various groups, and say: ‘We can take part of them with us, another part can be neutralised. But there is a further section among them that will always remain hostile to us, and we must fight indefatigably against it.'

The second part of Comrade Lenin’s Theses deals with the question of what is to be done after the conquest o f power. With the corrections proposed these Theses can be adopted. I must however make some practical comments.

In the Thesis on the petty and middle proprietors, Comrade Lenin shows himself to be very original. He tries to avoid two opposite errors which socialists have up till now made.

Many socialists believed that they could get round the great question of the petty and middle proprietors by saying: ‘In reality their fate is to disappear in bourgeois society, consequently we do not need to interest ourselves in them.’ That is a completely erroneous conception, since above all it is by no means true that the law of the concentration of capital is everywhere carried out as Marx described it. In any case, the form in which the attempt was made to apply the law of the concentration of capital to the petty proprietors, was simply nonsensical. Furthermore we recognise that, if we declare that the small peasants are condemned to disappear, we open ourselves to two dangers: our attention is directed away from the small peasants and they are driven into the arms of our opponents. Then it is obvious that, if we tell the small peasants that they have to disappear and that we want to abolish them artificially, we will turn millions of people into our opponents through such policies.

The other mistake – the opposite of the first – which our socialists committed was their belief that, since the small peasants were not fated to disappear, they would have to be organised, and that the revolution could not be carried out until this was done. That would mean a postponement of the revolution until the Greek Calends. That is not possible.

Between these two errors, which are diametrically opposed, Comrade Lenin proposes an attitude which I find pretty exact and acceptable. He says that we must show the small peasants that if they go with us they have everything to gain. That is good. But I have some reservations about the part that deals with the forms of organisation and struggle that have to be applied during the period preceding the conquest of political power.

In the Thesis before last, i.e. Thesis 8, there is talk about the strike of agricultural workers in which, in certain cases, the small peasants could also join. I am far from denying the importance of the revolutionary factor in these rural strikes. In Italy we had considerable rural strikes, and these broad movements had deep effects. But I must nevertheless make two objections. I do not understand why it is said that in certain cases the small peasants could participate in the strikes. I do not believe that they can. On the other hand it is also an error to think that the strike is the main weapon in every country, for there are countries where the organisations of the agricultural wage-labourers have achieved such strength that they can prepare the revolution and even start a policy of realising the proletarian dictatorship in bourgeois society itself.

In Italy we have workers’ organisations that directly take on public works. Similarly there are co-operatives which buy or rent land in order to cultivate it in common. Here lies a force of struggle and construction that has great significance and which we cannot ignore. That is why I wanted to propose to add the following at the end of Thesis 8:

‘Only at an advanced level of organisation, under certain conditions and in certain countries can the exploited rural masses organise themselves in co-operatives (to carry out public works, to cultivate bought or rented land in a completely or partially collective way, etc.). The Communists must take an interest in these organisations and try to lead them – with the goal, among others, that these organisations should not become involved in political compromises.'

I shall also turn to the question of the small peasants. In many countries the petty proprietors are already organised in co-operatives for purchasing and marketing and for the processing of their products (co-operative societies). It also often happens that they are organised by our opponents. The main aim of the socialists is not to organise the small peasants, but if they have a tendency to organise themselves we must intervene in these organisations, for one must go into every organisation where there are workers. I therefore propose to add the following at the end of Thesis 8:

‘As far as the small peasants are concerned, the Communists must enter their co-operative organisations for purchasing and marketing (co-operative societies) with the aim of awakening opposed tendencies here and giving them a character as little as possible limited to private property.'

I must make a further remark. I accept the conception, with the Commission’s amendments, on what the proletarian government must do as soon as it is in a position to deal with the agrarian question. But to fill it out I would make a small insertion in the 6th Thesis at the end of the second paragraph.

It is very correct not to permit compensation to be paid to the former big landowners. I think it is very good to remind socialists and communists that that would be an anti-socialist and anti-communist action. And I think it is strange that the proposal to give compensation was supported by the comrades from Italy, Austria and Germany.

That would mean burdening the rural masses with an enormous weight. But since one should always facilitate the revolution within the bounds of possibility, one should try after the first period of the struggle, to make use of the abilities of certain proprietors. This situation must be taken into account. I therefore propose the following insertion at the end of the second paragraph of Thesis 6:

‘If the question of compensation money absolutely must be touched on, then it must be pointed out in this question that the former big landowners must be granted a personal pension if their age no longer permits them to work and to get used to the new conditions of life quickly.

‘Of course this will depend on their personal attitude, for it would be ridiculous to grant anything to counter-revolutionaries. But if they submit to the new order, one must bring about some alleviation of their fate.'

Finally, I am of the opinion that in the 3rd Thesis, line 2, one should not say ‘in every capitalist country’, but that one should say ‘in almost every capitalist country’, for it is not quite right to say: ‘In every capitalist country the rural masses form the majority of the population’. In Britain, for example, the rural masses form the minority.

Shablin: Comrades, in the towns of Bulgaria there are important industries. In the villages the predominant form of ownership is that of petty landed property. The workers are concentrated in the towns, and it is from there that the Communist Party draws its main forces. But thanks to the fact that the process of the proletarianisation of the small peasants is proceeding very quickly, and that the position of the small peasants who are able to hang on to a bit of land has become very poor because of the consequences of the war, the influence of the Communist Party is beginning to spread to the countryside too.

The predominant form of ownership in the countryside in Bulgaria is petty landed property. In Bulgaria there are 495,000 landowners and the average area of each property is 0.9 hectares. But these holdings are shared out in the following way:

1. less than 5 hectares 225,000
2. less than 10 hectares 175,000
3. less than 100 hectares 95,000
4. more than 100 hectares 936

The first category, which is also the most numerous, consists of semi-proletarians, whose land is not even enough to satisfy their own needs. For a good part of the year they are obliged to work for the rich peasants or in mines, factories and towns. This category forms the largest part of our cadre in the countryside. The second category is the petty proprietors, whose land is scarcely sufficient to satisfy their family’s needs. They do not exploit the labour of others, and cultivate their land themselves. The Communist Party works among this layer, where it has marked up some remarkable results. As a consequence of the significant reduction of the productivity of agriculture, which was a result of the destruction of the stock of farm animals during the war, the economic position of this category has in fact become very insecure. These two semi-proletarian and small peasant categories embrace approximately four fifths of the whole peasant population of Bulgaria. All they can expect from the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois state is an increase in their financial burdens in order to cover the cost of the war and as a result an increase of their poverty.

The Communist Party is carrying out strong agitation and intensive propaganda among them. Our Party does not hide its maximum programme, that is to say the nationalisation of the land, from the semi-proletarians and small peasants. The profitability of small landholdings is so small in our country, the poverty of the semi-proletarians and the small landowners is so great, that the idea of increasing agricultural productivity through the common ownership of the land is gaining ground every day. But at the same time we explain to them that when the proletariat takes power it will carry out the expropriation of the big landowners, and not that of the small peasants and semi-proletarians, and that even the middle peasants will be left the right of free possession of their land. The semi-proletarians and the small landowners will come to the idea of the collective possession and cultivation of the land by themselves if by its actions the proletarian state shows them the advantages of the new socialist government; they themselves will come to the idea that the use of advanced agricultural machinery, the electrical cultivation of the land and the development of agricultural knowledge will make the collective possession and the collective cultivation of the land economically possible.

That is the direction that our agitation essentially follows, which takes into account the true position of the semi-proletarians and the petty landowners. We also make efforts to tear the toiling mass of the peasant population free from the influence of the bourgeoisie in the towns and in the countryside, from the influence of the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties, and to win them for the cause of the proletarian revolution.

I must particularly stress here that in this respect we have already marked up significant successes. The Communist Party has established a communist newspaper for the peasants; it has in the countryside almost a thousand communist organisations and groups which embrace 25,000 agricultural workers, semi-proletarians and small landowners whom it is preparing for the revolution. The slogan of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Councils is greeted with enthusiasm by these masses, who have lost their confidence in the bourgeoisie, the bourgeois state and the bourgeois parliament. We are working to have the majority of these masses with us at the moment of the revolution and with their help to paralyse the attempts of the bourgeoisie through the peasantry to drown the revolutionary proletariat in the towns in blood, the proletariat which – I must note here – is already completely won over to communist ideas.

The middle peasants, that is to say those who sell their agricultural products on the market, have piled up not a few banknotes during the war, and many among them have become rich. They represent the reactionary class in the countryside, but in our country they form a numerically weak and unimportant layer. Even fewer in number are the big landowners who, together with the middle peasants, form the peasant reaction on which the power of the bourgeoisie rests today. In our country – just as in the other capitalist states – the peasant bourgeoisie (the middle and big landowners has quite a large influence and, because of its overwhelming role in the market for agricultural products, whose prices have undergone an enormous increase, plays a significant political role. This peasant bourgeoisie stands in the camp of reaction and of counter-revolution. Today they are in league with the bourgeoisie in the towns for the purpose of speculation and for the exploitation of the masses, not only through the banks and the limited liability companies, but also through their bloodthirsty policy of stifling the proletarian revolution through the cruellest means that the bourgeois dictatorship uses.

But it must be repeated: in our country the peasant bourgeoisie only forms a very weak layer of the rural population, and if we succeed in winning the majority of the semi-proletarians and small peasants to us, we will be able to break the resistance of the peasant bourgeoisie at the moment of the revolution. For that reason we are making the greatest efforts as far as the organisation of agricultural workers (who are united in a trade union) is concerned: but what we want above all is to attract to us the semi-proletarians and small peasants in the countryside, who form the overwhelming majority of the rural population, and win them for communism.

We also recognise clearly the necessity of working towards neutralising the middle peasants for the revolution. We do not terrify them with the idea of expropriating their land, for in fact, with the technical means at our disposal at the moment, we cannot immediately organise collective agricultural production in the place of private agricultural production. Our aim is the expropriation of the big landowners. If we succeed in neutralising the middle peasants, then we shall have split the force of the reactionary block into two parts, and then it will be much easier to defeat it.

As far as the question of the creation of peasants’ councils is concerned, we think that it is closely connected with the creation of workers’ councils in the towns. When the revolutionary struggle has reached its climax and the working class and the class of the poor decides during the growth of the movement to proceed to the creation of soviets and the armed uprising – for in order for the workers’ and peasants’ councils to exist as revolutionary organs for the conquest and exercise of proletarian power, they must be defended by the workers and peasants with arms in hand – only then will it be possible and permissible to proceed to the creation of peasants’ councils which will be formed by the poor, the proletarians and semi-proletarians in the countryside.

Therefore the Bulgarian delegation accepts the Theses presented by the Executive Committee with the Commission’s amendments and submitted to the Congress by the reporter, Comrade Meyer, and supports them.

Serrati: I have asked for the floor in order to do Comrade Wijnkoop a favour and not be forced to make a statement in the last second before the vote. In my opinion this question does not interest the Congress. This is a Congress of comrades who come from industrial countries and do not know how interesting this question is. As far as I am concerned, I am merely making a statement. I think that it will not be possible to discuss this question thoroughly until the next Congress, when more experience will have been collected.

I shall abstain from voting. Personally I am against the Theses, which do not seem to correspond sufficiently to the necessities of the revolution in the Western countries. Our Party has not yet finally decided on this very serious question, and I do not think that I have the right to place my own personal will in the place of that of the comrades who delegated me to the Congress.

In general it seems to me that the necessities of the postrevolutionary period, during which the proletarian state will necessarily have to adapt to certain necessities, are being confused with the pre-revolutionary period, during which the Communists must adopt an exact and definite attitude towards all bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties.

These Theses, just like the Theses on the colonial and national question, take no account of the fact that the concessions made to various social layers in order to influence them in our favour or to neutralise them can be very dangerous for the proletarian layers in the moment of the revolutionary fray, and can lead them into a more and more opportunist path of concessions. In general the small peasants of Western Europe are very greedy for profit, and know very well what their political attitude must be to defend their interests. It is not sufficient to make them declarations of sympathy; they want something practical. They are in favour of protective tariffs, against the industrialisation of the land, for autonomy in the administration. And the parties in which they are organised have promised them that. Will they believe us? Furthermore it is necessary to remember that in the advanced countries the peasants – small and medium proprietors already have their parties, and they are reactionary parties. The small and medium proprietors and the tenant farmers in those countries are in struggle against the agricultural workers, who already want to expropriate them. In Italy this struggle has already been going on for twenty years, and from time to time it has had bloody consequences. Can we go to them and say: ‘We were mistaken?'

Petty proprietorship is an economic form whose existence is justified in certain places, particularly in the mountains. The Communists must not do any harm to the small peasants. During and after the revolution they must find certain inevitable solutions. They must understand and make understood the fact that, after the overthrow of the bourgeois regime, agreement must be possible even with the middle peasants; but before the revolution the Communists have the particular duty of not making concessions to the rural petty bourgeoisie, in order not to harm the interests of the proletarian masses.

For these reasons, and because I am not sufficiently acquainted with the views of my Party on this subject, I shall abstain from voting.

Sokolnikov: Comrade Graziadei tells us that he considers Marxist theory in its application to the agrarian question to be a piece of childishness.

Graziadei: I did not say that. I said that the law of the concentration of capital has not worked out in practice everywhere in the way Marx dealt with it in Capital. I said that it is childishness on the part of some comrades to start from the law of the concentration of capital and to try to reach the conclusion that all petty proprietors would have to disappear in the bourgeois world.

Sokolnikov: The word is not of great importance. Comrade Graziadei says that Marxist theories are erroneous as far as the concentration of capital in the area of agriculture is concerned.

Comrade Graziadei is, if I am not mistaken, an excellent professor of political economy. But in the present case, which touches on Marxist theory, I really think that it is he that is wrong, and that he is following the example of the professors of political economy who have often declared that Marxist theory in general is of no value when it is applied to a specific point. If it really were true that Marxist theory does not work out in practice, in the field of agriculture, then one would have to draw the necessary conclusions, one would then have to admit that the whole of socialist and communist construction would have to collapse, if one admits that Marxist theory cannot stand up in the field of agriculture.

If it is impossible to organise socialist production in agriculture on the basis given by capitalist development, that obviously means the collapse of the socialist regime in industry. Moreover, I believe that Comrade Graziadei has spoken against the application of Marxist theories in agriculture without establishing that the centres of agricultural production have shifted. Central Europe has ceased to be the granary of Europe. Large-scale agricultural production is now sited on the other side of the Atlantic. It is North America, and in recent years South America, which feed European industry and make possible the provisioning of the masses of European workers.

That forces us to talk about the changes that have taken place in Europe and America in the course of the war and of the last few years. I should also like to comment about Comrade Serrati’s remark that the war did not proletarianise, but on the contrary enriched the peasant. He quoted the example of the Italian peasants, who have their woollen sock full of gold. I believe that there is an error here.

Certainly part of the peasants, those who were able to sell their corn, the products of their little holdings, enriched themselves, but in a completely conventional way. I shall return to this point, but I should like to remark straight away that on the contrary a large part of the peasants were ruined by the war. The war tore hundreds of thousands from the mass of the peasants, and that means a terrible blow, a death-blow for all small proprietors. They are condemned to black poverty. Countless peasants want to emigrate or work in factories. There is no doubt that the war delivered a terrible blow to the small proprietors and peasants by ruining them.

If one now considers the mass of those who were able to sell their agricultural products, one can be sure that they put a lot of money by in woollen socks. But I doubt very much whether it is gold. It is banknotes, paper. And that is a form of the expropriation of peasant property by the imperialist war. In reality they became propertyless, and their holdings were expropriated. For their real commodities they received paper, which is only worth a little, and whose devaluation is increasing.

You quoted the example of Switzerland, which did not take part in the war, and is a little country. It is undeniable that in France, Germany and Russia the war was a form of the expropriation of the small peasants. If Comrade Serrati tells us that he does not believe in the true worth of the general change. in our tactics in relation to the small peasants, then I must establish that there is nevertheless a change in our tactics. There is no change in the policy of the Communist Party, but there is a change in the position of the small peasant. You cannot compare the position of a small peasant in Europe at the time of Napoleon’s coup d'état in 1801 with the present position of a small peasant in Europe. A great task has been achieved during the development of capitalism. The small peasant has been proletarianised in quite specific forms, and has fallen into great dependency upon capitalism.

The big banks, the export companies, the capitalist organisations, have in different ways brought the small peasant, the petty proprietor, into a position which is not far removed from that of a proletarian. And on the basis of this change in the position of the small peasant the latter has become the slave and enemy of capitalism. For these reasons the Communist Party turns today to these petty proprietors, these small peasants, with great prospects of success.

The position of the small peasant has been changed by the development of capitalism in the last few years. The war transformed it yet more profoundly. Hence the proletarianisation of the peasants that we are now establishing. The war was the cause of the expropriation of the small peasant. Therefore the Communist Party can today count on the fact that the small peasants, the semi-proletarians, will enter its ranks and , together with the workers in the towns, will fight against capitalism for the social revolution.

Lefebvre: Comrades, I have asked for the floor to speak about some statements by Serrati, who has supplied proof of his irreconcilable position on opportunist considerations and has claimed that the tactics of the communists are based purely and simply on an alliance with the agricultural workers against the small peasants, since, if the communists immediately after the seizure of power tell the peasants: I you will retain your privileges and even gain new ones’, they will not believe us.

It seems to me (please excuse me for the expression) to be careless demagogy only to defend and support a thing in so far as we hope that it is of momentary propaganda value. We did not, however, only come here to prepare momentary propaganda for the purpose of seizing power, but also in order to clarify under what conditions we can organise communist society back home. Moreover, Serrati spoke in the name of Western Europe. He seemed to be saying that the situation in Western Europe was such that the tactics proposed in the Theses were not sufficient for the requirements of propaganda there.

I do not share this view. I believe on the contrary that they meet the situation in France in a satisfactory way (I can only speak of France, as I know France relatively well). On the one hand it seems almost impossible to start anything if we have the whole mass of French peasants against us. On the other hand, without going so far as Sokolnikov, and without sharing his optimism, I believe that nonetheless something can soon be done in France. What I mean by that is that, even if the war did not proletarianise the petty proprietors in France, it nevertheless did have a great effect.

Apparently, the small French peasants were enriched by the war. But in a society that is victim to decay, fortunes disappear as quickly as they have arisen, and we can already say in advance for what reasons and as the result of what process of development petty proprietorship has suffered since the war.

The bourgeoisie in France, for electoral reasons, appeared to support the interests of the small peasants. Now however, since this law was debated about a month and a half ago, the big bourgeoisie has dropped the interests of the small peasants in the corn question in such a way that the position of the small peasants in our country will in a short time be extremely serious.

Sokolnikov is right when he claims that the wealth of the peasants is only paper wealth. We must add that the petty bourgeoisie benefited previously from the war in the sense that they freed themselves from their mortgage debts by means of this paper. The settlement of mortgages has been completed in our country, and the paper is in the land banks. The French peasants know now exactly how much this paper is worth, for they cannot get rid of it.

Our peasants (and I believe it is the same all over the world) despise all those who get into debt. Thus the peasant is led to despise the capitalist state, since the only policies in France are the policies of continual indebtedness. For this reason communist propaganda too is failing on fruitful ground in our country. Where previously it encountered no sympathy it is met nowadays in a completely different way. Policies on the other hand that would lead to making this class into one’s enemy can only bring disaster. Moreover, it would be impossible to organise agricultural production after the conquest of power without the co-operation of the small peasants.

I am not protesting against the standpoint of Comrade Graziadei, who wants to insert an addendum favouring big landowners in the Theses. It goes without saying that those who submit to the soviet government must be involved in common work. But it us not necessary to insert an addendum referring to it in the Theses, since that could easily be interpreted as something they receive by right.

Meyer: Comrades, I can be brief. I am glad that the Italian comrades have taken part in the discussion and have told us something about the agrarian question in Italy. Unfortunately they were not represented in the Commission for factional reasons. I hope that they will make further information available to the Agrarian Commission. I propose to refer Comrade Graziadei’s proposals to the Commission for consideration. I take the same point of view as Comrade Lefebvre that the compensation of the former big landowners does not need to be mentioned. The Agrarian Commission will be glad to adopt the other additions on the co-operatives in some form or another, since the Commission itself has already discussed this question.

Now, as far as the role of the small peasants is concerned, I agree with what Comrade Sokolnikov has said. It is correct that during the war, not only in the belligerent states, but also in the neutral ones, a section of the small peasants not only covered their own needs out of their production, but also converted a surplus into capital. That happened, and is continuing to happen partially even today. Meanwhile, however, the prices for all articles of consumption, particularly for clothing and agricultural equipment, have risen so sharply, and furthermore the burden of taxation has become so much heavier for the less prosperous layers, that the previous advantages have been wiped out for the small peasants too. If that has not shown itself in every country, it will and must emerge to a much sharper degree in the coming period. I am of the same opinion as Comrade Sokolnikov that we must make the small peasants aware now of the sharpening of their own living conditions that must be expected.

There is no breach with the socialist programme in the Theses. Comrade Serrati is against the Theses because he thinks that the Communist International has given up the idea that the big enterprises are to be nationalised. That is by no means correct. It has merely been pointed out that at this time it is practically impossible to socialise small landed property. That is because the rural proletariat in general is not sufficiently prepared for common enterprise and the technical resources are also lacking. That is why we are making the concession that for the time being private property will be retained for the small and middle peasants and a section of the big peasants.

Provision is made for meeting all the preparations to overcome this transitional stage, to influence the small and middle peasants mentally in the sense of co-operative enterprise, and to show them the advantages of collective enterprise. Secondly the technical preparations for the extension of large-scale enterprise must take place, even if that involves concessions to individual layers of the rural population. The proletarian state power must establish itself so firmly that it dominates large-scale industry entirely, so that it is in a position to produce more agricultural machinery. As soon as these technical prerequisites are present it will be possible to weld together the small and middle peasants.

There is therefore no breach with our earlier programme, but we are being shown in detail the ways in which we will attain the socialisation of agriculture. That is the sense of the Theses. In this way I think I have answered the questions that have been raised here in the discussion. I propose the adoption in principle of the Theses and the reference of the proposals Comrade Graziadei has made to the Commission. No further essential changes will then be made.

Zinoviev: We come now to the vote on the Theses. [The Theses are adopted with one abstention. The session is closed at 4 o'clock.]

Evening Session of August 4

Zinoviev: On behalf of the Bureau I propose to take a vote on the proposals of those comrades who are to edit the final version of all the Theses. [Vote.] We will now move on to the question of the Statutes. Comrade Kabaktchiev has the floor as reporter.

Kabaktchiev: Comrades, before I go over the main considerations that speak in favour of the statutes proposed by the Executive Committee of the Communist International, I shall spend some time on the most important objections that were raised in the Commission.

The downfall of the Second International took place when the bourgeoisie succeeded in destroying the international solidarity of the proletariat. One of the first tasks of the Communist International, therefore, is to restore proletarian solidarity. But it will only be possible to realise this solidarity in the revolutionary action of the proletariat of the various countries. Only the revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of capitalism will make it possible to create the necessary preconditions for the solidarity and unity of the proletariat of the various countries. The necessity for unanimity in the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of every country is also determined by the fact that there is an international association of the counter-revolution. This is today organised and led by the Entente, by the supreme council of the governments of the big capitalist countries and by their creature and agent, the League of Nations. The unification and centralisation of proletarian forces is the main condition for the success of the revolution of the proletariat against the united front of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. The Communist International is the central organ which can realise the unification of the proletarian forces of the whole world.

There is another cause of the downfall of the Second International. The Second International accepted all parties on the basis of their oral or written statements; but it did not at all concern itself with getting to know the real tactics followed by the affiliated parties. It tolerated in its midst parties whose tactics and practice were in obvious contradiction to the tactics of the revolutionary proletariat. Furthermore, it accepted petty bourgeois parties which had nothing in common with socialism. The experience of the Second International teaches us that the Communist International, in order to fulfil its task and achieve its goal, must become a strictly disciplined and rigidly centralised organisation, and that it must supervise, guide and harmonise the revolutionary activity of the proletariat of every country.

The victory of the revolutionary proletariat in Russia has clearly shown us the necessity of the strict centralisation of the organisation of every Communist Party, and consequently of the Communist International itself. The Communist Party of Russia can serve as an example and a pattern for imitation, not only for the clarity of the aims of its policies and its strictly Marxist activity, but also for its iron discipline and its strict organisation. The principle of the centralisation and the discipline of the Communist Party of Russia, which dominated the whole revolutionary activity of the Russian proletariat, was strengthened even further after the conquest of power, was extended even to the Soviet organisations of the Republic, and served to establish the revolutionary victory in an unshakeable manner. The Russian proletariat would never have triumphed without a centralised and disciplined organisation. Without a centralised and disciplined organisation the international proletariat will never break the domination of capitalism.

It is impossible to conceive of the working class overthrowing the domination of the bourgeoisie and defeating the capitalist state, that instrument of class rule with mighty and centralised means of coercion at its disposal, without centralisation. We are all agreed that the victory of the proletarian revolution is impossible without the dictatorship of the proletariat. But he who says dictatorship must presuppose in the class that exercises the dictatorship, and the Party that leads that class, the existence of a centralised and strictly disciplined organisation. Without this iron discipline and this centralised organisation the Communist International cannot count on the opening of the proletarian dictatorship. The task of the Communist International consists in fusing together and unifying the proletarian parties and other revolutionary proletarian organisations in every country into a fighting bloc.

The economic crisis, the consequences of the imperialist war, have created a revolutionary situation in most capitalist countries, which once more assures the rapid growth of the Communist International. The latter has the duty of attracting to itself the mass organisations of the proletariat. The most effective, if not the only means of defending the Communist International from the danger that the purity of its revolutionary tactics are threatened by its rapid growth is once more none other than organising it on the basis of strict centralisation. To adopt the Theses proposed at the Congress provides no guarantee that the parties that have affiliated to the Communist International will also remain true to their principles and their tactics. On the contrary, only the adoption of centralisation in organisation, and voluntary and honest subordination to the statutes of the Communist International, will form the common basis for all those Parties that have already joined the Communist International or will join it in the future.

The Statutes proposed establish the foundations of the organisation of the Communist International. But the organisation of the Communist International will unfold, particularly in the future, according to the measure of the extension of the revolutionary movement of the international proletariat.

One of the main objections in principle to the draft Statutes is directed against the paragraph following the introduction which says:

‘The Communist International sets itself the aim of fighting with all means, also with arms in hand, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international soviet republic as a transition to the complete abolition of the state.'

The objections that comrades have made about the question under discussion are:

1. One should not openly declare and admit that the Communist International should use armed force to achieve its aims.

2. On the other hand the Statutes should not speak only about armed struggle. One could conclude from that that other means of struggle are abandoned and that the Communist International knows no other means of struggle than the rifle and the machine gun.

The first objection requires no detailed criticism. Seventy years have already passed since the founders of modern socialism, Marx and Engels, closed the famous Communist Manifesto with the following declaration:

‘The Communists scorn to hide their views and intentions. They openly declare that their aims can only be achieved by the forcible overthrow of all previous social orders.'

Today we have before our eyes the example of the Russian proletarian revolution (a revolution which conquered by force of arms); the great victorious Red Army strikes deadly blows at the imperialism of the Entente and clears the way for the world proletarian revolution. Today we claim that we are going through a revolutionary epoch, the bourgeoisie openly organises White Guards against us and civil war is raging in a series of countries. Is it possible after all that to propose to remain silent, to silence the Communist International about the necessity of applying the mightiest and most effective means of struggle, the means of struggle on which above all the real ultimate success of the proletarian revolution depends? No, comrades! In its Theses, the Communist International must point out the necessity of the application of the armed struggle with all clarity. Hypocrisy about the use of this means will not save us from persecution by the ruling bourgeoisie, and it must be said loud and clear that the bourgeoisie knows our true revolutionary aims and our means of struggle very well, and for the very good reason that it knows exactly what this is all about and organises a White Guard to coerce the other institutions into its service. The Communist International must state openly in front of the entire world that the marching orders of the revolution can only be: ‘Determined struggle, struggle with arms in hand against capitalism and for communism.'

We can answer in the same way the comrades in the Commission who thought it dangerous to speak out about the necessity of forming illegal organisations besides the legal ones. (Cf. paragraph 12 of the Statutes.) If the bourgeoisie in certain countries find it to be in their interests to outlaw the Communist Party, then they will do it; if they want to do it, they will do it, as they already have in several countries.

Is it therefore sensible for the Communist Party to hide its aims and not to spread the idea of the necessity of the armed struggle? Not at all. To remain silent about the necessity of forming illegal organisations too under such circumstances is excessive caution, and gives rise to confusion. And what is more, comrades, we say that this diplomatic caution is dangerous, for today the illegal organisation is as important as the legal one. And it is not only important, but also indispensable, necessary. It is a crying necessity. For as you know the Congress has already adopted the Theses that decide the question and make the formation of illegal organisations obligatory. Comrades who have already voted for these Theses, the Congress that has already adopted them, contradict themselves if they reject the paragraph in question in the Statutes. We will not parry the blows of the bourgeoisie by dropping the article in the Statutes on illegal organisations, but by learning, by getting used to the formation of illegal organisations, which frustrate the inquiries and vigilance of the bourgeois organs. That is what we need; that is revolutionary experience and revolutionary law.

The question concerning the composition of the Executive aroused very sharp discussion in the Commission itself. I shall relate the most important objections that were made. Some comrades thought, as a result of the present weakness of their country’s Communist Party, that it was impossible to release a member to send him permanently to the Executive Committee. Others said that the Communist Parties of the various countries could not keep up a regular correspondence with their delegates to the Executive Committee, and that as a result these delegates will not be well informed about the position of their country and the state of the revolutionary movement.

This consideration does not seem to me to hold water in comparison with the role that the Communist International and its Executive Committee plays and must play. If it is true that we live in a revolutionary epoch in which the Communist International every day has important and immediate tasks to fulfil, in which questions of world importance continually arise, and will arise, which absolutely require an answer, if it is true that the Communist International must be a mighty centralised fighting organisation, then it must be led by a centre where it is represented and where the biggest Communist Parties must be represented. The tasks of the Communist International are so important that every Communist Party must select from its ranks a comrade of merit who is up to the size of the task, in order to be represented on the Executive Committee and in this way to maintain close contact with the Communist International. The Executive Committee will not be able to base itself in making its decisions on the actual international situation if it does not have in it representatives of the largest Communist Parties of the various countries. On the contrary, it is to be feared that the Communist Parties that do not have a representative on the Executive Committee will refuse to recognise the decisions of the Executive Committee as binding, in certain cases, with the excuse that the Executive Committee does not know the true situation in their countries and is taking decisions without prior discussion with them.

Some comrades have demanded that the Executive Committee should be composed of the representatives of all the parties belonging to the Communist International, and that all representatives, moreover, should have a full vote. The comrades expressed the fear if that should not be the case, the smaller countries and parties will be without representatives on the Executive Committee. I represent a small country, but the Communist Party is rigidly organised there and even unites workers and peasants. I am convinced that, in determining the members of the Executive Committee, the Congress will take into account not the territorial size of the countries but much rather the real strength of the Communist Parties.

If the right of every Party that belongs to the Communist International to have representatives with a full vote on the Executive Committee is recognised, then it will become a top-heavy apparatus, exposed to the danger of being dominated by the small and weak Parties and never having a distinctly delineated composition. The strength of the Executive Committee must be finally be determined by the Congress, which should however rather name the Parties and not the individuals who are to be represented on the Executive Committee. The Statutes give every Party the right to be represented with an advisory vote on the Executive Committee. That is enough.

The question was raised in the Commission whether the Executive Committee should be given the right to expel from the Communist International individuals, groups or even Parties that do not carry out the decisions of the World Congress. (Paragraph 9 of the Statutes.) But this right is merely the necessary material sanction for all the other rights that we will grant to the Executive Committee in the Statutes. How can the decisions of the Executive Committee have the necessary authority and obligatory force if it does not have the right of expulsion? Not to give this right to the Executive Committee would be to return to the old practice of the Second International.

Finally the Statutes give the Executive Committee the right to draw in organisations and Parties that sympathise with communism by giving their representatives an advisory vote. The question was also raised whether the Executive Committee has the right to accept two

Parties from the same country with a full vote. The Commission did not take a decision on this question; it has remained open in the Statutes. I believe that there can only be one Communist Party from each country in the Communist International. That is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the uniformity of the communist movement in each country. If the Communist International begins to follow the example of the Second International, that is to say it admits into its ranks two or more Parties from the same country, then this will hold up the development of the communist movement in those countries in which competing communist organisations exist that are created by unprincipled elements and are maintained often under the influence of the bourgeoisie itself.

The experiences that the Executive Committee has made with the auxiliary bureaux in Amsterdam and Berlin show us the necessity that all organs and bureaux created by the Executive Committee should be subordinated directly to it, and should only act within the guidelines laid down by it. Only in this way will we create a disciplined and centralised international communist organisation.

Bamatter: The Commission on the Statutes has entrusted the Editorial Commission with the wording of the editorial changes and amendments in the Statutes. That was no easy task for us, for all we had as a basis were the three drafts that had been translated from the Russian – none of which however was a correct translation. We cannot therefore submit a cleaned-up version of the Statutes, but I shall only read out the amendments and the principal stylistic changes that the Editorial Commission has undertaken. The Statutes must go back once more to the Commission. In the German version a sentence is missing in the second paragraph on page one which must be added to the quotation.

In the French Statutes this sentence is present. Then a few small stylistic changes were undertaken about which there was a big argument in the Commission. It is a question of the lines that say: ‘It is the aim of the Communist International’, etc. That has been changed to read as follows: ‘It is the aim of the Communist International to fight by all available means, including armed struggle’, etc.

A further amendment was also undertaken in the last sentence of the first paragraph of page 3, which now reads: ‘The Communist International undertakes to support every Soviet republic wherever it may be formed.’ Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 were adopted unanimously without alteration. The following alteration has been made in the second sentence of paragraph 4: instead of ‘The World Congress will as a rule...’, it now reads: ‘The World Congress meets regularly once a year.’ The third sentence in paragraph 4 has been deleted, as has the last sentence. Paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 were adopted without any essential changes. Some stylistic changes were made in paragraph 8. For example the first sentence used to read: ‘The main work and responsibility’, etc. It now reads: ‘The chief work of the Executive Committee falls on the Party’. . . etc. And then, further on, the penultimate sentence of paragraph 8, instead of ‘the ten biggest Parties’, now reads: ‘the ten to thirteen most important Communist Parties’.

The following amendment was added at the end of the ninth paragraph: ‘The representatives of the Executive Committee shall carry out their political tasks in the closest contact with the Party centre of the country concerned’. The last sentence of paragraph 10 now reads: ‘which, while not belonging to the Communist International, sympathise with it and stand near to it’. Paragraph 11 has been adopted unchanged. In paragraph 12 the following has been added to the end of the sentence: ‘The general situation all over Europe and America compels communists throughout the world to create illegal communist organisations side by side with the legal organisation’. The first sentence of paragraph 13 now reads, instead of: ‘As a rule all important political communications’, etc.: ‘As a rule political communication between the individual Parties affiliated to the Communist International is carried out through the Executive Committee of the Communist International’.

In paragraph 14 the first sentence now reads: ‘under the guidance of the Communist International’, instead of: ‘under the control’ etc. The second sentence now reads: ‘these trade union delegates’ . . . instead of: ‘the communist trade union delegate . . .’ In paragraph 15, the following has been changed: ‘As a member of the Communist International is, like any other, subordinated to it and its Executive Committee’. . . . The last sentence of paragraph 15 has been crossed out. Paragraphs 16 and 17 were adopted without alteration. It will not be possible to submit a cleaned-up version of the Statutes until later.

Bilan: Our organisational Statutes are one of the most important questions upon which we have to decide. The discipline in the Communist Party of Russia has contributed to the fact that the Party was able to play such an important role. For that reason we must check over the Statutes in detail and, if we accept them, we must be prepared to carry them out in full measure and not regard the Statutes simply as a piece of paper. In some paragraphs these Statutes read differently in different languages, and for that reason it was impossible for the members of the Commission to reach agreement on some questions.

In relation to the question of the armed struggle the previous speaker said it was necessary to change the wording. In his opinion the concept of the aim was confused with that of the means in the wording of that paragraph. These concepts must not be confused. We do not wish to present the armed struggle as the aim of the revolutionary movement, but as a means forced upon us. We must also clarify under what conditions such an armed struggle becomes a necessity. Otherwise, if we call for it in general, we could find what has already often happened, that is to is to say that people with anarchist tendencies go around conspicuously waving hand grenades, which is then interpreted as armed struggle in the sense of the Communist International. If we pose each and every armed struggle as a general rule without taking into account the conditions in each individual country, that is to say without regard for whether conditions are mature enough, and whether such an armed struggle is really necessary and practical, then it can happen’ that in some countries where the possibility of this struggle does not exist, the call for the armed struggle could act as a kind of provocation.

I refer to the example of the KAPD, where the concept of the armed struggle is not grasped in a mature, serious sense, and where it only leads to damaging results. In the Commission I proposed amendments to some of the paragraphs of the draft Statutes, but they were not adopted by the Commission. I will now submit them to the full session. I propose that the following sentences should be added :’the aim of the Communist International is the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie for the purpose of liberating mankind from the fetters of slavery and exploitation. It is determined to use the armed struggle against the international bourgeoisie as the chief means of achieving this goal.'

Paragraph 12 of the Statutes read: ‘The general situation’ ... etc. There are countries where the possibility of legal agitation and work in the interests of communist ideas still exists. If we retain the paragraph with its present wording we thus give the governments the chance to point out that the Parties in the countries in question belong to the

Communist International, which is calling for illegal organisations. That could be an excuse for the governments to persecute the comrades there too sharply, whereas otherwise they probably would still have had the chance to fight legally. Therefore I propose to undertake a small amendment in this sentence, that is to say to delete from this paragraph those words whose sense is that it is obligatory for Parties belonging to the Communist International to create illegal organisations.

Wijnkoop: I did not vote on this point in the Commission, and I am of the opinion that it cannot be done, and that the question must first of all be handed over for discussion to the Parties in the various countries. I think that Statutes are something very important, and that the people in the various countries must know exactly what has been agreed upon in this matter. This can only happen if a discussion on it takes place in the Parties in the individual countries. The discussion that we have had tonight and the discussion in the Commission is not enough. I have therefore not voted and shall also abstain in the full session.

I say that Statutes are something very important because I am of the opinion that they must also be carried out and become a reality. In this case the Statutes must contain what the various Parties in the different countries, after a thorough discussion, declare to be their will. The main point for me is paragraph 8, and there it says: ‘The chief work of the Executive Committee falls upon the Party of that country where, by the decision of the World Congress, the Executive Committee has its seat’ , etc. I say that it seems as if an international Executive Committee were being formed, but in reality that is not the case. An extended Russian Executive is being formed here.

Now do not misunderstand me. I have no objection to a Russian Executive Committee if that is necessary, and perhaps it is necessary. If we really cannot have an international Executive Committee, then we must have a Russian one, because the Russian Party is the most revolutionary and the strongest. I have nothing against it, but then one should also say so. One should not pretend that we are to have an international Executive Committee. One should say that at this time we cannot have any other than a Russian Executive, and that this Congress places the executive power in the hands of the Russian Executive Committee. I would be in favour of that without any further ado.

But why do I think that it is a question here only of an extended Russian Executive Committee, and that at this time there is no other Executive that one could have? Because I am not so optimistic about the boycott as some comrades. It exists for Russia, and it will perhaps not let up quite so quickly, although many think that it has already let up. Should that be the case, then of course my argument would no longer be in place. At present, however, it is not the case. I shall give just one example. If people are here, that is to say, if the delegates of the biggest Parties are sent here, then these delegates cannot keep a check on the international situation, for they will receive no reports on world politics. They will not hear enough about the organisations in the different countries. They will only have reports about what is happening here. Should it be possible to send ten of the best men in the international movement here, then they will lose contact with their own countries, they will only have information about Russia, and however great or small their character and intelligence is, they will be guided by Russian information and thus by the Russian Executive. It cannot be otherwise, and it cannot be conceived in any other way, because they will lose contact with their own countries.

I say, therefore, that the people who come here will lose contact with their own countries, and if decisions are taken by this Executive, people will perhaps say in those countries: ‘This or that leader of ours is staying over there. He was present after all, and still they took this or that decision that is bad because he does not take into account the real situation in the countries of Europe and America.’ The workers in these countries would separate themselves even more from their leaders who come here, after all, to maintain communications between Moscow and the world, for they would become convinced that their leaders have lost their firm grasp of the international situation. I do not think that the thing can be done in this way.

I have made the proposal to base the Executive outside Russia.. I believe that the question should be discussed here. I have proposed Italy or Norway as the residence of the Executive Committee, because I think that the labour movement in those countries is now strong enough to bring about the assembly of an international executive there. Comrade Levi has proposed Germany as the seat of the Executive. Germany would be as agreeable to me as Norway or Italy, on the one hand because a sufficiently strong labour movement is present in these countries and on the other hand because these countries are well informed about the international situation. The Russian delegation can, after all, come to Norway or Italy. Comrade Levi thinks that one could also come to Germany. I have proposed this question for discussion. If the Congress does not think that it is possible to change the seat of the Executive, then no really international Executive Committee can at the moment exist, and we must make do with a Russian one. This question is very important, because we are giving this Executive Committee very great power, which goes so far as the Executive being able to expel even entire Parties, groups and individuals. But it can only do that if it knows the situation in the various countries quite exactly. That is why I am of the opinion that the Statutes cannot be adopted in their present form without any further ado.

Zinoviev: It is proposed to close the list of speakers. Are there any objections? [The proposal is adopted.]

Levi: The questions that are being discussed here are so important that it is a pity that they are being discussed under conditions where the delegates are too exhausted to follow the matter properly. First of all I propose in paragraph 8 to cross out the words ‘no less than’. The sentence that I am concerned with would read ‘The Party of the country in question sends five of its representatives’ etc.

Misunderstandings could arise from the addition of the words ‘no less than’ and it might be possible, although it was not the intention of those who proposed it, to assume from that the right of the country in which the Executive Committee has its seat to delegate as many representatives as they like to the Executive Committee. It should be five representatives, no more and no less.

Furthermore there are in my opinion some correct things in Comrade Wijnkoop’s remarks and one of them is that every representative who is delegated here from abroad will, after a short time, lose living contact with the individual Parties of the individual countries. I do not mean this in the same way as Comrade Wijnkoop, that the delegates who are sent here will after some time have to make do only with Russian information. I mean that from the moment that he arrives on Russian soil he will only have the same sources of information as the Russian comrades. If Radek interjects that it is no different in any other country, then that is true in principle but it is different in practice. They do not have conditions there where for example letters or newspapers take ten days to arrive even from Germany. And I tell you that without a doubt big difficulties will arise from this. For if the Executive Committee has to decide things then there is no doubt the lack of sources of information will under certain conditions influence the decision, and yesterday in the Commission I quoted a case of how true that is.

The Russian comrades have given the Dutch comrades a mandate. When we in Germany saw the decision we immediately said that it was a mistake. And when the comrades in Holland saw the mandate they immediately said the same thing. My conclusion from all this is not that the Executive Committee should not stay here, for there are other reasons which argue much too much in favour of it. On the contrary I am in favour of it staying here. But I say that we must somehow make it possible to take important decisions which brook no delay in such a way that the representatives who came here for this purpose really can decide. The aim of my further proposals therefore is to say that a full session of the Executive Committee must take place every three months. In my opinion that says everything that has to be said in order to make sure that in particularly important decisions the party representatives who are precisely the best informed in such cases and who stand in the closest contact with their Parties can decide.

I further propose to change paragraph 12 of the Statutes in the following way. To cross out everything following the words ‘the Executive Committee’ and to put the following in its place: ‘The Executive Committee has the obligation’ etc.

In my opinion it is not necessary to give these illegal organisations that are anticipated here a special place in the Statutes. Whatever we have to say about illegal organisations has anyway been said in one or another of our Theses. The general statement that the Executive Committee has to see to the carrying out of the decisions of the Congress is therefore absolutely sufficient. That says everything and I believe that many of the Parties that are affiliated to the Communist International can only draw advantages from this silence about the illegal organisations.

Gallacher: On the question of the formation of a united Communist Party in Britain, I must say, precisely in relation to the programme that has been read out here, that in fact the Communists in Britain w I ho now march under the banner of the Communist Party stretch out one hand to the Communist International and another to the Second International. They have not taken a decisive stand on the position of the Communist International. The British Socialist Party (BSP) also counts as a Communist Party and at the same time belongs to the Labour Party. The Labour Party is a conglomerate of the most varied parties but which adopt the most opposed standpoints. I see here a contradiction and a reason to pose the question whether the BSP can be regarded as a really communist party. Comrade Radek has asked me whether I myself, as a trade union official, am not in the Labour Party. I replied that I am not an official but I am a member of the Labour Party. There is a difference between a man who is forced to enter a workers’ organisation and one who voluntarily enters a non-communist organisation. In order really to win power our first concern must be to stir up the masses to fight energetically the capitalists and the industrialists. That is the first important step. Our second concern must be to create an organisation for the armed struggle. The British Socialist Party, which is accepted here as a communist party, is actually not at all in favour of armed or physical struggle. Its outlook is pacifist, even if Comrade Quelch denies having said that he himself is against any use of force in this struggle.

The trade union movement in Britain can never be won for communism. On the contrary, this whole organisation must be considered as the most powerful bulwark for the defence of capitalism against the social revolution. Some delegates, representatives of the trade union movement, who have been here and have been received with open arms, appeared, when they returned to Britain, in big meetings and showed the medals they had been given here. When it is a question of really fighting for the cause of the workers they go to arbitration. Thus they endanger the revolutionary fight.

Reed: I disagree with those who do not want to adopt the point in the Theses on the armed struggle. I base myself particularly on experiences in America. Workers will not be able to understand how one can remain silent on something of that kind and, if they knew it, their interpretation of it would be that the Party was afraid of the consequences. Experience has shown that however legally one expresses oneself, every time the government needs to create laws against communists or revolutionaries, it finds ways of turning the most legal thing in the world into the most illegal. For this reason I am against silence. Moreover I do not wish paragraph 14, which talks about the Red Trade Union International, to be taken into the Statutes, or at least I do not want it to be voted on until the whole trade union question has been discussed by the Commission and debated here. It was clearly said here yesterday that all the questions connected with the trades unions would be dealt with first in the Commission and then submitted to the Congress. Moreover, I would like to point out that in general what was discussed was that the Trade Union International would have to stand in a loose relationship to the Communist International. According to what is said here in paragraph 14, however, it appears that the Trade Union International is to become a section of the Communist International. According to the new Statutes even the Youth International will have greater autonomy than the Trade Union International. For these reasons I would like to ask that no vote be taken now on this point.

Fraina: First of all I should like to emphasise what Reed has said about the Trade Union International. This is a life and death question. just as we smashed the Second Socialist International so too we must now smash the Amsterdam Trade Union International. That is an indispensable condition for our fight against world imperialism. But in our view this question must be dealt with separately and not as a part of the Statutes, since it requires serious consideration. We would like to move some amendments to it.

As far as the Statutes are concerned, I find myself in complete opposition to the proposal of Comrades Wijnkoop and Levi that the Executive of the International could be based in a different country from Russia. Many comrades feared before the Congress that because of the blockade, of the lack of sufficient information about the world movement, because of the requirements of ‘practical politics’ it might be necessary to have the Executive in some other country. But now it must be stated that all these fears were groundless. The Russian comrades know exactly what is going on. Nobody at this Congress has shown a better international spirit than the comrades of the Russian Party. The argument was also advanced that the Executive would have to be based in a country that represented for the moment the centre of the world revolution. We have gone beyond the stage of mere agitation. We are now in the stage of real action. The world revolution is a fact and the strategy and the tactics of the Communist International must be based on this fact.

All the international forces of imperialism and of the revolution come to bear on the country which is at present the centre of the world revolution (in this case Russia), and force the communist movement in this country to hold fast absolutely to an international point of view, for otherwise it would collapse. Everything that happens in the world affects the Russian comrades directly, not as a matter of theory or of tendency but as a question of life or death. What happens in England today affects Russia directly much more than the United States. What happens in the United States affects Russia much more than England, and so on with every country. International politics are concentrated around Soviet Russia. The Russian comrades are often better informed that we are about the most intimate details of the policies of our own imperialist governments. If nothing else, then objective conditions force the Russian comrades to this international standpoint. If they have control of the Executive Committee then there is a guarantee that problems will be tackled in an international spirit. It is senseless to propose transferring the Executive Committee to Berlin. We had the Western European Secretariat in Berlin and it was limited, narrow, to a certain degree nationalist and not international.

It is amazing that delegates at this Congress are opposed to including the sentence about illegal work in the Statutes. The combination of illegal and legal work is not only absolutely necessary but it must be openly proclaimed and made obligatory. If a party is legal then a tendency develops that is opposed to illegal work. And if a party is illegal a tendency develops against the exploitation of legal opportunities. We must insist on the combination of both. We cannot indulge in any illusions. Today our Party may be legal. Tomorrow it could already be illegal. We suffered a great deal from this in America when we recognised the fact that we absolutely had to become illegal, but did not work sufficiently towards this in practice. The result was that we were partially unprepared when the big oppression came. And even if a party is completely legal there is work, for example, agitation amongst soldiers and sailors, which demands an illegal organisation.

I am firmly convinced that centralisation is our fundamental problem. The great difference between the Second International and the Communist International lies precisely in the question of centralisation. One can reply that centralisation is solely an organisational and not a fundamental problem. But this argument is purely Menshevik. Centralisation is a revolutionary necessity. The Communist International is a rigidly centralised organisation for this very reason – that it is revolutionary, while the Second International was decentralised, and autonomous, because it represented a loose federation of reformist and not revolutionary organisations. World imperialism is centralising itself albeit only partially since the rivalries of different interests predominate. But the centralisation of imperialism is a fact in so far as opposition against the world revolution is concerned.

The proletariat and the communist parties of the world have completely identical interests and can create a form of centralisation that is impossible for imperialism; a fact that means an enormous advantage for us. The world revolution is a problem which requires mobility, adaptation to every particular development in the international situation in strategy and tactics. Until the International is firm, centralised and flexible in various directions according to the events at any given time, we will never win. A concentration of forces must exist, a unity in the leadership, so that the International and the organisations affiliated to it can act in unison and can concentrate on every specific phase of the world revolution. The International must have the right to issue orders to the local, national organisations. It must have the authority to say whether something shall be done or not done on the basis of events. Only in this way will we conquer.

Zinoviev: Comrades, three objections in principle have been made against our draft. First of all on the side of the American comrades who propose to cross out paragraph 14 and in general not to deal with the trade union question. The comrades have claimed that we promised them we would wait until the Trade Union Commission has finished its task. Comrades, I do not think that is right. Paragraph 14 says:

‘Trades unions adhering to the communist platform and organised internationally, under the leadership of the Communist International, shall form a Trade Union Section of the Communist International. These trades unions shall send their representatives to the World Congresses of the Communist International through the Communist Parties of the countries concerned. The Trade Union Section of the Communist International shall have one representative with full voting powers on the Executive Committee of the Communist International.'

We do not really need to wait until the Trade Union Commission has finished its work to state what should be clear for every communist. We do not want the Communist International only to organise political parties but also to embrace all the mass organisations of the proletariat that adopt the standpoint of communism. That is the first principle of the Communist International. Or do Comrades Fraina and Reed want to deny that? As we have said many times we are building on the same basis as the First International, we want to continue the traditions of the First International. Now, one of the most important traditions of the First International was that it wanted to organise not only the political parties but all mass proletarian organisations that adopted the standpoint of communism. That is what we are saying here. No more, but also no less. If we are to doubt that, then we cannot build the Communist International. We must not only include political parties but also revolutionary proletarian trades unions. And it is clear, that should the trades unions come to us then we must organise them in some way as a section of the Communist International, as a part of the Communist International. Can that be denied? In no way.

All these questions, whether one should remain in the American trades unions, whether one should immediately split the British trades unions or not, all these questions that are thrown up here have nothing to do with it. These questions are points at issue which must be discussed once more in the Commission. All that is being said here is that we do not only wish to have political organisations in the Communist International, but all proletarian organisations, in the first place the trades unions. That is the ABC of the Communist International.

Our first principle is that the trades unions must be represented at the World Congress, must organise themselves as a section of the Communist International and that there must be a mutual exchange of representatives in the two Executives. That is undeniable and every serious communist must accept that, otherwise we will have the practice of the Second International.

But we want to reconstruct the practice of the First International under new historical conditions, to carry out the traditions of Marx. These consist in this, that communism and the Party are not only leading in politics but that the Communist Party is leading in all spheres of the labour movement and that we must organise within the Communist International all branches of the movement throughout the world.

Then we come to the second question on the Executive in paragraph 8. Comrade Wijnkoop has proposed here that the Executive should be transferred say to Norway. Various plans can be proposed. All kinds of exotic republics could be found. I must however state that her c in paragraph 8, as generally in the Statutes, there is not a single word about Russia. That is a question on its own which we must discuss and decide separately. The Statutes say: ‘The seat of the Executive Committee of the Communist International shall be determined on each occasion by the World Congress of the Communist International.’ Should it be that the proletarian revolution is victorious in France or England then of course we will agree to the Executive being transferred to one of these countries. There is no talk about Russia at all. That is a question on its own. That is why we anticipate nothing. Here the principle is posed that the Congress must decide where the Executive is to have its seat.

Then we come to the composition of the Executive. The Statutes read: ‘The Executive consists of five comrades from the country in which the Executive has its seat and of one comrade each from the ten largest parties.’ I agree to Comrade Levi’s proposal that the words ‘not less than five comrades’ should be crossed out. We must say, ‘five comrades’. Comrade Wijnkoop says the Executive will be an extended Russian Committee, but I say perhaps it will be an extended Dutch committee. The only point at issue here is that the Executive Committee is to have fifteen members, five from one country and ten from the other parties of the different countries which belong to the Communist International. That will be an International Committee. So how can it be claimed it will simply be an extended Russian Committee? This will be an International Committee if all these ten parties send their delegates, and they should do that.

It was said here that it was impossible for all Parties to send one comrade each. I deny that. It seems that people think it is a luxury to have an able comrade here, for he is needed in Germany or elsewhere. That is no good. If we consider the Executive to be the chief instrument of the workers’ movement then every important party must find an important comrade who can take part in the Executive. It is the most important organisation of the international movement. It also has great significance for every communist movement. We are only asking for one comrade from each country and if the parties regularly relieve their delegates, then I think it will always be possible to maintain the numbers anticipated in the Statutes. We should, and must, make this sacrifice for the Communist International.

I also deny that it is correct to say that the comrade who remains here will lose contact with his organisation. Nobody loses contact in two or three months, particularly an old fighter. We were banned for many years and did not lose contact. The movement is now much more extensive. We imagine that the delegate in question should

become the secretary for his country on the Executive. The German comrade should be secretary for Germany and so on. Of course it would be good if the comrade was not changed too often, but it is also possible that the comrade in question remains secretary although he has been exchanged for somebody else. He can have a technical assistant. But the leadership should be left to the representative of the Party in question. Only in this way will we have a real Executive.

In many cases the Executive is more important than the Congress. We have discussed a number of questions. We cannot anticipate everything. In two weeks time, perhaps, the most important questions could be thrown up again under completely new conditions. We have just emphasised that we are working in an epoch of revolutionary struggle. The Executive must help and give answers. So its composition must be such that it has the formal and moral right to speak in the name of the Communist International. Therefore we must insist that it is composed of fifteen members and that the ten most important parties also really send their comrades to the Executive. If that is not the case then half the significance of our work is lost. The significance of our Congress consists precisely in the fact that we want to build up a firm organisation, an international general staff of the fighting proletariat. If, afterwards, we are not in a position to create an Executive then we will have destroyed at least half of our work.

For the first year we were a propaganda society. The Executive could not work as a centralised organ. It was a Russian institution. Now we want to change that. We have said that openly. We now want to have a centralised international organisation which can always give guidance. We have provided the Executive with wide-reaching rights, including that of expelling entire parties, so the parties must also make sure that they have a representative here. Otherwise we have worked in vain. We cannot tell the international proletariat that we now have no centralised international. Therefore I am against the proposal that Comrade Levi made that a full session of the Executive take place every three months. I hesitated somewhat yesterday in the Commission, I was of the opinion that we should make concessions to our German friends. But if you consider what Comrade Levi proposes, that is to say that the representative of the Party should only be delegated in special cases, or only once in three months, it is clear that what will happen is that all the parties will. act in that way. Every three months then a full-dress session will take place, but in the meantime we will not have an active Executive. For that reason we must tell our friends that although it is difficult for you always to keep a comrade here you must undertake this sacrifice because it is a sacrifice in the interests of your own Party.

Communists will not pose this question, as did for example the Independents, who play a double game by separating the struggle and the Communist International. It must be said that they are the same thing. We are an International Party which has branches in different countries. The work in the International is as important for Germany as it is for Russia. Therefore we must insist that the wording remains absolutely as it is, that we have an Executive which embraces five members from one country and ten members from various other countries, who are secretaries for their countries and work together.

Now we come to the final point at issue in paragraph 12 on the illegal organisation. This paragraph 12 reads: ‘The general situation all over Europe and America compels communists throughout the world to create illegal communist organisations side by side with the legal organisation. The Executive Committee is obliged to see that this is put into effect.’ In the Commission, too, we thought about whether it should perhaps be put somewhat more cautiously. But I am of the opinion, after having heard everything, that we will leave it as it is. There are perhaps some negative considerations, but the positive is overwhelming. In countries like England and America, in the so-called countries of classical bourgeois freedom, there has been no thought of creating illegal organisations. It has perhaps been taken up theoretically, but never carried out practically. Only now, when 5,000 Communists have been arrested in America, are people there beginning to understand that it is impossible without illegal organisation. The German experience, too, confirms that. The Party there is legal today and illegal tomorrow and from that the international proletariat draws the experience that at any event they must have an illegal organisation. That is important for every country. That is the experience of the fifteen months of the existence of the Communist International. It is important to say that and to put it into effect. We must say it in the most compelling way possible so that we know it and carry it out.

And now the practical considerations that have been advanced. Wait and see; perhaps we can make do with a legal organisation. That is not the case. Comrade Levi has stated about Germany that he thinks that in Germany the bourgeoisie has already become so used to legal work that it will not dare to do anything against it. So the German comrades are saying that, whether or not we mention it in the Statutes, the bourgeoisie cannot rob us of our legal existence. In Italy the Party is so strong the bourgeoisie cannot rob it of its legal existence. The experience of Bulgaria is that we have an old party which is legal, which has forty or more members of Parliament who were subjected to many persecutions. We are in favour of speaking out clearly and openly. The experience in the Balkans, Germany, Austria and Italy should be decisive for us. Perhaps the paragraph will create problems for one Party or another but the positive is much more important for us. And experience tells us we must make it binding in the Statutes, since for the bourgeoisie it is not decisive whether we hang them legally or illegally. What is decisive for them is whether they are really hanged, whether we are going to fight for communism. Our organisational form is not the most important thing. We have already experienced that with arms in hand.

So comrades, the public prosecutor will in any case quote from these Theses. It will all boil down to the same in the end, except that we will lose what we have not clearly expressed, what every worker must and should know. That is why we insist on the wording remaining as it is. We must tell the international proletariat: ‘You must understand that now that you have entered the epoch of decisive struggles, you must everywhere systematically build up an illegal organisation, for when the decisive hour comes the bourgeoisie will trample on your legality and you will stand there with empty hands and not have an organisation.’ Therefore we must express that very clearly. I do not think that the Congress need worry about voting for what the great majority of the Commission has decided. The Commission adopted the Statutes by and large unanimously with one abstention. I propose that the Congress adopts the Statutes unanimously. It is important that we adopt the Constitution of our International Party as unanimously as possible and show the whole world that we are no longer a loose propaganda association.

We are one united International Party which has Statutes, which knows what it wants and what sort of international obligations it has; whose members give mutual guarantees and have bound themselves in comradely discipline in order from this hour on really to fight together for Communism.

I shall first take the vote on the various amendments – first of all those on paragraph 8. [Are unanimously adopted in the original form.]

Now we shall take a vote on the Statutes as a whole which read as follows:

The Statutes of the Communist International

In London, in 1864, was established the first International Association of Workers, later known as the First International. The Statutes of the International Association of Workers read as follows:

‘That the emancipation of the working class must be carried out by the working class itself.

‘That the struggle for the emancipation of the working class does not imply a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and equal obligations and the abolition of all class domination.

‘That the economic subjection of the workers to the monopolists of the means of production, the sources of life, is the cause of servitude in all its forms, the cause of all social misery, mental degradation and political dependence.

‘That, consequently, the economic emancipation of the working class is the great aim to which every political movement must be subordinated.

‘That all endeavours directed to this great aim have hitherto failed because of the lack of solidarity between the various branches of industry in each country and because of the absence of a fraternal bond of unity between the working classes of the different countries.

‘That the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national problem, but one of a social character embracing every civilised country, and the solution of which depends on the theoretical and practical co-operation of the most progressive countries.

‘That the present revival of the workers’ movement in the industrial countries of Europe, while awakening new hopes, contains a solemn warning against a relapse into old errors, and calls for an immediate union of the hitherto disconnected movement.'

The Second International, which was established in Paris in 1889, undertook to continue the work of the First International. At the outbreak of the world slaughter in 1914 the Second International perished – undermined by opportunism and betrayed by its leaders who rallied to the side of the bourgeoisie.

The Third (Communist) International, established in March, 1919, in Moscow, the capital city of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, solemnly proclaims to the whole world that it takes upon itself the task of continuing and completing the great cause begun by the First International Association of Workers.

The Third (Communist) International was formed at a moment when the imperialist slaughter of 1914-1918, in which the imperialist bourgeoisie of the various countries sacrificed twenty million men, had come to an end.

Remember the imperialist war! This is the first appeal of the Communist International to every toiler wherever he may live and whatever language he may speak. Remember that owing to the existence of the capitalist system a small group of imperialists had the opportunity during four long years of compelling the workers of various countries to cut each other’s throats. Remember that this imperialist war had reduced Europe and the whole world to a state of extreme destitution and starvation. Remember that unless the capitalist system is overthrown a repetition of this criminal war is not only possible but is inevitable.

The Communist International sets itself the aim of fighting with all means, also with arms in hand, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international soviet republic as a transition to the complete abolition of the state. The Communist International considers the dictatorship of the proletariat an essential means for the liberation of humanity from the horrors of capitalism; and regards the Soviet form of government as the historically necessary form of this dictatorship.

The imperialist war linked the fate of the workers of each country particularly closely with the fate of the workers of every other country; it emphasised once again what was pointed out in the Statutes of the First International: that the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national problem, but one of a social and international character.

The Communist International breaks once and for all with the traditions of the Second International which, in reality, only recognised the white race. The task of the Communist International is to emancipate the workers of the whole world. In its ranks are fraternally united men of all colours – white, yellow and black – the toilers of the entire world.

The Communist International fully and unreservedly upholds the gains of the great proletarian revolution in Russia, the first victorious socialist revolution in the world’s history, and calls upon all workers to follow the same road. The Communist International makes it its duty to support, by all the power at its disposal, every Soviet Republic wherever it may be formed.

The Communist International is aware that for the purpose of the speedy achievement of victory, the international association of the workers which is struggling for the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of Communism, must possess a firm and centralised organisation.

To all intents and purposes the Communist International should represent a single universal Communist Party, of which the parties operating in the different countries form individual sections. The organisation of the Communist International is directed towards securing for the workers of every country the possibility, at any given moment, of obtaining the maximum of aid from the organised workers of the other countries.

For this purpose the Communist International confirms the following Statutes:

1. The new international association of workers is established for the purpose of organising common action between the workers of various countries who are striving towards a single aim: the overthrow of capitalism, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the international Soviet Republic, the complete abolition of classes and the realisation of socialism, as the first step to communist society.

2. The new international association of workers has been given the name of The Communist International.

3. All the parties and organisations comprising the Communist International bear the name of the Communist Party of the particular country (section of the Communist International).

4. The World Congress of all parties and organisations forming part of the Communist International is the supreme authority of this International. The World Congress meets regularly once a year. The World Congress alone is empowered to change the programme of the Communist International; it discusses and decides the more important questions of programme and tactics connected with the activity of the Communist International. The allocation of full votes at the World Congress between the constituent parties and organisations is decided by a special regulation of the Congress; it is necessary to strive for the speedy establishment of a standard of representation based on the actual membership and real influence of the party in question.

5. The World Congress elects an Executive Committee of the Communist International which serves as the principal authority of the Communist International in the interim between the World Congresses. The Executive Committee is responsible only to the World Congress.

6. The place of residence of the Executive Committee of the Communist International is determined at each World Congress.

7. A special World Congress of the Communist International may be convened either by decision of the Executive Committee, or on the demand of one-half of the parties affiliated to the Communist International at the time of the previous World Congress.

8. The greater part of the work and principal responsibility in regard to the Executive Committee of the Communist International devolves upon the Party in the particular country where, in keeping with the decision of the World Congress, the Executive Committee has its residence for the time being. The Party of the country in question sends to the Executive Committee not less than five members with a full vow. In addition, each of the ten to thirteen largest Communist Parties is entitled to send one representative with a full vote to the Executive Committee. The list of these representatives has to be ratified by the World Congress. The remaining parties and organisations forming part of the Communist International each enjoy the right of sending to the Executive Committee one representative with a consultative vote.

9. The Executive Committee directs the whole work of the Communist International between Congresses. The Executive Committee publishes, in not less than four languages, the central organ of the Communist International (the periodical, Communist International). The Executive Committee makes the necessary appeals on behalf of the Communist International and issues instructions binding on all parties and organisations forming part of the Communist International. The Executive Committee has the right to demand from affiliated parties the exclusion of members and groups guilty of the infringement of international proletarian discipline, and also to exclude from the Communist International any parties that infringe the regulations of the World Congress, such parties having the right of appeal to the World Congress. Where necessary the Executive Committee organises in different countries its technical and auxiliary bureaux, which are entirely under the control of the Executive Committee. The representatives of the Executive Committee shall carry out their political tasks in the closest contact with the Party centre of the country concerned.

10. The Executive Committee of the International has the right to include in its ranks representatives (with a consultative vote only) from parties and organisations which, while not belonging to the Communist International, sympathise with it and stand near to it.

11. The organs of all the parties and organisations forming part of the Communist International, as well as those who consider themselves sympathisers of the Communist International, are obliged to publish all official decisions of the Communist International and of its Executive Committee.

12. The general conditions prevailing in Europe and America compel communists throughout the world to form illegal Communist organisations side by side with the legal organisations. The Executive Committee has charge of the universal application of this rule.

13. As a rule political communication between individual parties affiliated to the Communist International is carried out through the Executive Committee of the Communist International. In cases of urgent need, however, direct relations are permissible, provided that the Executive Committee is informed thereof at the same time.

14. Trades unions that have accepted the Communist platform and are united internationally under the guidance of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, form Trade Union Sections of the Communist International. These trades unions send their representatives to the World Congresses of the Communist International through the medium of the Communist Parties of their respective countries. The Trade Union Section of the Communist International delegates a representative with a full vote to the Executive Committee of the Communist International. The Executive Committee of the Communist International has the right to send a representative with a full vote to the Trade Union Section of the Communist International.

15. The International League of Young Communists is as a member of the Communist International subordinated to it and its Executive Committee. One representative of the Executive Committee of the International League of Young Communists with a full vote is delegated to the Executive Committee of the Communist International. The Executive Committee of the Communist International, on the other hand, has the right of sending a representative with a full vote to the Executive Committee of the International League of ‘Young Communists.

16. The Executive Committee of the Communist International confirms the appointment of the International Secretary of the Communist Women’s Movement and organises a Women’s Section of the Communist International.

17. A member of the Communist International journeying to another country has a right to the fraternal support of the local members of the Third International.

The Statutes are unanimously adopted.

Zinoviev: Comrades, we now have Statutes for the Communist International. We have finally organised ourselves as a Party. I congratulate the Congress on this. I believe that this is one of the most important conquests of the international proletariat. We have at last formally organised ourselves. Long live the Communist International!

End of the session.
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