March 12, 2021

IV. The Tasks of the Communist Parties

Speech By D. Z. MANUILSKY 

Thirteenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist international - December, 1933

From the Pamphlet "Revolutionary Crisis, Fascism and War "

But if there are contradictory tendencies in the course of world development, the international situation is rendered all the more complicated by the fact that the effects of the general crisis of capitalism make themselves felt unevenly in the various capitalist countries; and hence it follows that the degree of capitalism' col­lapse in individual countries , and the sharpness of class relation in them is uneven, that the processes of fascization proceed unevenly in view of the different levels attained by the labor movement, and also the different gradations in the maturing of the revo­lutionary crisis. This must be all the more forcibly stressed be­cause, however great the role played by Germany in the intricate complex of world relations, it is nevertheless impossible to inter­nationalize German fascism and tie down all parties to identical tactical tasks made to fit the condition in Germany. There can be no doubt that the elements of fascism are maturing in all capitalist countries, but in the first place its forms will be different, and in the second place the type of German fascist development is by no means obligatory for other capitalist countries which arc moving to­wards the setting up of the fascist form of bourgeois dictatorship. The French bourgeoisie, for example, finds the hu k of bourgeois democracy, serving as it does as a convenient screen for fascist methods, more advantageous at the present stage than open fascist dictatorship. Firstly, this democratic hu k give the French bour­geoisie a ready-made ideology in the future war with Germany; secondly, it permits French imperialism better to achieve it aims both in the colonies and among the vassal states; thirdly, by upholding democratic illusions among the workers, it permit the French bourgeoisie to consolidate the regime of political bondage and economic exploitation of the proletariat. 

Taking these factors into account, we must warn the sections of the Comintern against a dilettante universalism which may tend  o base the tactics of the Communist Parties on general tendencies of development without considering the peculiarities of each indi­vidual country. The tasks of the Communist Parties must be strictly differentiated in conformity with the concrete situation of the present day and with the given correlation of force in their own country. If we are to sum up these tasks according to the types of develop­ment of individual countries, they may be reduced to the following propositions: 

Firstly, the Communist Parties must do all in their power not to permit an imperialist, out-and-out reactionary war of the capitalist world against the Soviet Union, the fatherland of all the toilers and the bulwark of the world proletarian revolution. And here, com­rades, it is not a question of war in general, of war in the abstract, preparations for which are designed for a period of many year , but of a concrete war with which the Soviet Union is being threat­ened at the present time by predatory Japanese imperialism. Today, we must give the theses of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern about the struggle against imperialist wars a more concrete inter­pretation in regard to the situation which is being created in the Far East. And here the most important part falls to the young Com­munist Party of Japan, to the Korean Communists and to the Chinese Communists of Manchuria. The work of the Communist in fighting the menace of war against the Soviet Union is most in­timately bound up with the struggle against the robber war which is already being waged by Japanese imperialism in China. Defense of the Chinese toiling masses by all means which the situation may dictate-this also means the defense of the Soviet Union. The Communists of England, the U.S.A., France, have not done enough, as Comrade Wan Min has emphasized, to defend rev­olutionary China. You were not able to remove the dirty hand of your imperialists from China, you were not sufficiently strong-let us grant that! But your agitation was deficient in fire, in a live feeling of indignation impressing the worker by its sincerity; there were too few of those acts of struggle which would have made the Chinese worker and peasant feel that their cause is the blood-cause of world Communism. The Communists of England the U.S.A. and France must unfold a struggle against the help which their governments are rendering to Japanese imperialism in arming it for war against China, for aggression against the Soviet Union. 

Secondly, the Communists of France, Germany and Poland must do everything in their power not to permit a new Franco­ German or German-Polish war. 

Thirdly, the Communists must be on the alert not to permit the setting up of fascist dictatorship in those countries where the bour­geoisie has set about fascizating the state apparatus. Not one inch to the bourgeoisie without resistance from the Communist Party, mobilizing the masses for this struggle. For every particle of liberty for the working class and the toilers an indefatigable struggle must be waged-a struggle linked up with the defense of the daily needs of the proletariat. Bear in mind, comrades, that the unpre­cedented sharpening of the class struggle does not remove the par­tial demands of the toilers right up to the last decisive struggle, but lend these demands a tremendous revolutionary sting, directed against the whole system of bourgeois dictatorship. In the struggle against fascism which aims at seizing the state apparatus, in the struggle against fascist dictatorship which is being set up, the Com­munist Parties cannot dispense with such a weapon of class re­sistance as the mass political strike. 

Fourtly, the Communists must exert all their strength to overthrow facist dictatorship where it has already been set up. The view that fascist dictatorship can be replaced only by the proletarian dictatorship smacks of "automatism." Without doubt, in such a country as Gerrnany, proletarian dictatorship is coming to replace fascism. But experience also tells us that where the Communist Parties are weak, where the working class has not come under their leadership as an independent force, fascist dictatorship has been re­placed by bourgeois dictatorship in the form of a republic, as for example in Spain. Therefore the possibility of a fascist-democratic see-saw is by no means precluded, if the Communist do not inflict a decisive blow on Social-Democracy. An especially important in­ternational task of the whole world Communist movement is to struggle against German fascism and to support the heroic struggle of the German Communist Party in every way. To hasten the bankruptcy of German fascism, to achieve its overthrow-this would be a tremendous blow at all world reaction. 

And all these four tasks bring us to the central slogan of our theses, the slogan of overthrowi111g bourgeois dictatorship and set­ting up Soviet power throughout the whole world. We intentionally put the task of proletarian dictatorship in a concrete form, clothing it in Soviet form, and we do this in order to expose the attempts of Social-Democracy, which is playing with the slogan of proletarian dictatorship as a preliminary political school, leading the masses to­wards bourgeois democracy. Our path towards the realization of this central slogan is the old one-winning over the majority of the working class as a condition for establishing the unity of the pro­letariat in revolutionary action, and attracting to our side the reserves of the revolution. And this presupposes the destruction of the agency of the class enemy among the workers-international So­cial-Democracy. By putting forward the slogan of Soviet power we want to emphasize more forcibly the importance of the armed uprising of the masses as the only means to overthrow the dictator­ship of the bourgeoisie. And thereby we want to attract the attention not only of the Communists but of all the toilers as well to the necessity of winning over the armies to the side of the insurgent people, to the necessity of work by the Communists among the soldiers and sailors, so as to guarantee the victory of the armed uprising. 

We do not disguise our aims, they were written in the Com­munist Manifesto eighty-five years ago. But the ruling classes un­der whose feet the earth is beginning to tremble open their eyes in astonishment and accuse the Communists of plots. What stupidity! Millions of people have been set in motion, but the fascist lawyers, donning their fools' caps, want to confine the tremendous revolu­tionary movement of the masses within the bounds of a provocational police plot. But the frenzy of the ruling classes against Com­munism puts in the foreground with especial sharpness the question of the transition of the Communist Parties to a state of illegality. This is no longer "music of the future," comrades. The prepara­tion of the Communist Parties for illegality on the basis of intensified mass work is a most important task of this Plenum. We do not know how many of the Communist Parties will remain in a semi-­legal position up to the outbreak of war, but we know for certain that on the outbreak of war the sections of the Comintern will have to go underground. Do not let the Communist Parties tell us that their cadres are weak and not prepared for underground work. We answer in the words of Lenin: 

"It is not true to say that 'the French are incapable' of systematic illegal work. Untrue ! The French quickly learned to conceal themselves in trenches; they will quickly learn the new conditions of illegal work and the systematic preparation of a revolutıonary mass movement."

Even today, taking into account the experience of Germany and Italy, the Communist Parties must reconstruct the system of their work in the shortest possible time on the basis of illegal factory nuclei. This is the first elementary condition of preparation for underground work. 

The second condition is to take immediate steps to rid the Com­munist Parties of the reptile of provocation which is undermining the work of certain sections of the Comintern. 

The third condition is the ability to combine methods of legal and semi-legal work with methods of underground work on the basis of the whole experience of the world revolutionary movement. And here the question of work in the fascist organizations acquires exceptional importance. 

Fourthly, the structure of the organization and the methods of its work must be so reconstructed as to guarantee a definite de­centralization calculated to insure the best methods of hiding our workers from the police and the realization of the old principle of underground work-each one should know not what he may know, but only what he must know. 

The fifth condition is the training of cadres. For the period which is opening before us, we do not need simply Communists but Communist underground workers. They must be people tried and tested in every respect; they must know how to conduct them elves under cross-examination, how to behave at trials, making use of the dock as a tribune for exposing the class enemy. They must be people of ideological firmness and political stamina, who continue to be Bolsheviks during their everyday work and do not lose their head at moments when there is an abrupt change in the situation. They must be independent people, capable of quickly and boldly making responsible decisions in the most intricate circumstances. Finally, they must be revolutionaries and mass workers, sensing the processes which are going on among the masses, able to speak in the language of these masses, to clothe every revolutionary thought and every revolutionary action in the setting of class struggle. For this period we do not want people of the type of Neumann, who are fruitless alike in the theory and the practice of the labor movement, but fighters and mass workers of the type which the C.P .S. U ., the German, Chinese and Polish Communist Parties have given us and continue to give us. Where are such cadres to be trained? They must be trained i11 militant action in the very bosom of the working class. The growth of such cadres is connected with the whole pro­cess of the bolshevization of the Communist Parties. During the process of the bolshevization the Communist Parties have been through a great schooling. But the historic stage which is now open­ing before the world Communist movement confronts the Com­munist Parties with higher demands in respect of their bolshevization. 

In the fire of revolutionary battles the sections of the Comintern will grow stronger, reaching the level of the C.P .S. U. But for the success of these battles what is needed today is a still more resolute fire against Right opportunism, as the main danger, and against Leftist deviation . The feeling of organic hatred towards opportunism in all its forms, as an obstacle which hinders the win­ning over of the masses to the side of Communism, must be nur­tured in every Communist. 

The road which the sections of the Comintern are going is a hard one. That stern school through which the C.P.G. is passing is hardening it like high-class revolutionary steel. Not one grievous ordeal befalls the Communist Parties and the working class without bringing its fruits, without enriching their revolutionary experience, without raising the Communist Party to a higher level of Bolshevik stamina. 

The class whose historical course is upward, and its Party are growing strong under the severe blows, but the classes which are doomed by history to the scrap-heap, and their parties are collapsing under the weight of their own victories. The victories of the U.S. S.R. are strengthening the new world which is being born; the victories of fascism are only prolonging the agony of the old world which is in its death throes. The German Communist Party, hunted down and persecuted, feel itself more assured before the future that is opening before it than fascism which is persecuting it. That is why at the Leipzig trial it was not Dimitroff who was on trial; it was Dimitroff trying fascism. That is why the hangman Goering, his face distorted with fury, stand in the Leipzig dock a a criminal spat upon and loaded with universal contempt, while Dimitrov, bound in chains, becomes a mighty mouthpiece, calling upon the toilers of all countries to unite under the banner of Communism. 

Let the fascist bloodhounds rave as they will-the Communists are marching onward, assured of their right, of their strength and of their victory.