March 12, 2021

Revolutionary Crisis, Fascism and War

Speech By D. Z. MANUILSKY 

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

Revolutionary Crisis, Fascism and War 

The content of the work of the present Plenum consists, firstly, in revealing any new development that has occurred since the time of the Twelfth Plenum, both in the world crisis and in the general world situation; secondly, in giving an analysis of the shift­ings which have taken place during the past year in the correlation of class forces both within capitalist countries and on the interna­tional arena; thirdly, on the basis of this analysis, in giving a correct appraisal of the forces of revolution and of reaction. The Com­munist Parties expect from this plenum an answer to the question of what constitutes the present stage of world development, what is the relative importance at this stage of the elements of revolutionary crisis on the one hand and the elements of fascism and imperialist war on the other; whether the coming to power of the fascists in Germany has interrupted the maturing of the elements of revolu­tionary crisis there, in what concretely, at the present stage of the correlation of class forces, does the maturing of the world revolu­tionary crisis find its expression. Fourthly and lastly, in conformity with the appraisal given of the forces of revolution and reaction, the Plenum should outline the basic tasks of the world Communist movement. 

I. The New Factors in the International Situation

The new factors which are to be observed in the development of the world economic crisis are the following: 

1. In individual capitalist countries (U.S.A., Japan, Germany) a certain revival of economic life was to be observed in the summer of 1933, connected in the first place with the growth in orders for armament , in the second place with the introduction of inflation, in the third place with certain government measures directed toward an artificial, albeit short-lived, increase of production and raising of prices. This revival only lasted a few months and was followed in the United States by another sharp decline in industrial production and prices. Nevertheless, it is essential to emphasize that this new decline has not yet reached the very lowest point which character­ized the development of the crisis in the past. 

2. The intertwining of the world economic crisis with the general crisis of capitalism has gone so far that though the possibility of isolated improvements in the economic situation is not excluded, yet the basic line of development of world capitalism, determined by its general crisis, will go downward. It is becoming ever increasingly clear to millions of people that there can be no return of capitalism to its pre-crisis condition, that "prosperity" was only a short-lived episode on the background of capitalist stabilization. In con­nection with this the crisis on the one hand grows ever more "po­litical," while on the other hand the factors of the general crisis of capitalism-fascism, war, the revolutionary movement of the masses -appear in it ever more markedly as factors in the destruction of the capitalist system. 

3. The attempts of the bourgeoisie to rescue capitalist society from ruin (Roosevelt's plan, the Ottawa Conference, economic autarchy ), even though they may have brought about some im­provement of a temporary character in the economic situation, have nevertheless proved bankrupt as a means of overcoming the gen­eral crisis of capitalism. The statesmen, appearing in the role of sorcerers who have found a remedy for curing the doomed system, remind us ever more and more of the Swiss hanker Necker on the eve of the Great French Revolution. 

4. During the past year the elements of fascism and war have matured more rapidly than the elements of revolutionary crisis. And none the less the revolutionary cri is, which up to the time of the Twelfth Plenum. of the E.C.C.I., had matured only in indi­vidual capitalist countries, is now on the way to growing over into a revolutionary crisis of the whole world system of capitalism. This does not mean that this revolutionary crisis will embrace all capital­ist countries at the same time. It only means that the quantitative change􀁥 caused by the economic cns1s m world capitalist economy will bring such qualitative changes in their train that though there may not be a revolutionary crisis in this or that individual country, there will nevertheless be a revolutionary crisis of the entire system of world capitalism. Such a revolutionary crisis will develop on the basis of the further deepening and sharpening of the general crisis of capitalism. The inner dialectical connection of the processes of the maturing of the revolutionary crisis, of fascism and war is stipulated by the extremely rapid shiftings in the correlation of class forces. Fascism, if it does not receive an adequate repulse from the toilers, will grow over into imperialist war, and imperialist war, if it is not converted into a victorious proletarian revolution, breeds fascism, as may be seen from the example of Italy. On the other hand, imperialist war will bring revolution in its train (as we see from the examples of tsarist Russia and the Central Empires), and revolution will call down an attack upon itself by the capitalist world, as is shown by the experience of the intervention in the U.S. S.R. And if at the present time there is a force which is holding back imperialist war, then it is the threat of proletarian revolution and the fear felt by the bourgeoisie for the U.S.S.R. 

5. The feverish preparations of capitalist states for new im­perialist wars have created a pre-war atmosphere. The years of clandestine work by the general staffs, the years of work of the League of nations as a weapon of imperialist wars, the years of pernicious, pseudo-pacifist propaganda by Social-Democracy, which has been preparing for war, are now being brought to completion. All the characteristic factors of a ·pre-war atmosphere are present: the rupture of international treaties and agreements ( the violation of the Versailles and Washington pledges), the growth of secret and open armaments, the militarization· of economic and public life in the capitalist countries, the intensification of political reaction. Economic war, as the prelude of imperialist war, is in full swing. Fascism, with its unbridled chauvinist propaganda, with its gospel of savage nationalist man-hatred, is creating a psychological at­mosphere for bloody massacres; a crusade is going on against the Communists, manifestations of mass discontent are stifled with merciless cruelty, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is taking on an ever more terrorist character, creating the possibility that the bour­geoisie will once again risk throwing the peoples into a bloody slaughter. And the toiling masses of the whole world must know that from the first day after its outbreak the new imperialist war will still further accelerate the process of fascization of all capitalist states; it will create an atmosphere of reaction in which it will be difficult to breathe, unless the toilers put an end to the capitalist system before it drags them into the catastrophe of war.

But the greatest event of the past year was the coming to power of the fascists in Germany. This was an event of no small im­portance. In the first place, the setting up of fascist dictatorship in Germany has driven one of the most powerful parties of the Communist International, the Communist Party of Germany, into illegality, into an illegality more grievous than has ever been seen in history before. Millions of toilers followed this Party. Of all the Communist Parties in capitalist countries it was closest to winning over the majority of the working class. This fact alone makes it imp6ssible for us to disregard this event, to neglect to make use of the lessons which all the other sections of the Communist Interna­tional have to learn from this murderous blow that has been struck at the German proletariat. The setting up of fascist dictatorship in Germany is bringing about a new re-grouping of forces among the capitalist powers; it brings nearer to a tremendous degree the out­break of new imperialist wars; it is a blow not only at the German proletariat, but it is directed in all its sharpness against the focus ­point of world Bolshevism-the U.S.S.R. It has drawn the whole of Central Europe into the orbit of fascist development; it has accelerated the process of fascization in all capitalist countries, in­tensifying the hurricane of reaction, rousing, with its fitful blasts, the storm of revolution. Another reason why the Plenum cannot disregard this event is because it has caused a tremendous trans­valuation of values in the minds of the world proletariat--of less extent, it is true, than at the time of the World War but none the less a transvaluation the importance of which should not be un­derestimated. It has accelerated the process of the disintegration of world Social-Democracy, and this likewise constitutes a new factor of the political development since the Twelfth Plenum of the E.C.C.I. The successes of socialist construction in the U .S.S.R. on the one hand and the economic crisis in capitalist countries on the other have brought in their train a crisis of Social-Democracy. The bankruptcy of German Social-Democracy in the face of fas­cism, together with the feverish preparations of the capitalist world for an imperialist war, have converted this crisis into the incipient disintegration of the Second International.

But the setting up of fascist dictatorship in Germany has caused some vacillations in the less stable links of the Communist Parties. In France, England, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Austria, and even in Germany itself, there were found individual persons for whom this test proved too severe. The stand taken on the German question has become a touchstone showing the degree of bolshe­vization of the various sections of the Communist International, the degree of their Bolshevik stamina, of their ability to meet abrupt changes in the course of events----changes with which the end of capitalist stabilization is inevitably connected-with their heads held high. And we must say at this Plenum with supreme satisfaction that the sections of the Comintern have stood this test with honor. Only think, comrades, what would have happened if this event had occurred a few years ago when the bolshevization of the sec­tions of the Comintern was going forward in alternating crises. Such an event would inevitably have been followed by a profound crisis in the Comintern. And in contrast to this at the present day the German Communist Party has not only not had this crisis but it is upholding the banner still more heroically, raising it still higher, drenched in the blood of its best sons, of the best fighters in the working class. The conduct of Dimitrov at the Leipzig trial alone causes our hearts to beat with pride at the thought that our world communist Party ha reared many Dimitrovs, that tens of thous­ands of German Communists arc evoking respect even among their enemies by their steadfastness and by their supreme devotion to the cause of world proletarian revolution. And against the background of this mass heroism all the more shameful is the desertion of the Remmeles and Neumanns, who in their political line reflect the demoralization of those sections of the backward workers who have followed Social-Democracy and who have lost their bearings after the capitulation of German Social-Democracy to fascism. Engels once wrote: "The movement of the proletariat necessarily passes through different stages of development; at each stage some people get stuck and do not go further." And Remmele and Neumann have got stuck in the Social-Democratic swamp, have got stuck be­cause they were criminally anxious to take advantage of the blow inflicted on the German working class in order to defame the Party and its Bolshevik leadership. 

There cannot be the slightest doubt that the line of the C.P.G. and of its leader, Comrade Thaelmann, in not joining open armed battle with the fascist gangs, was absolutely correct. At the present time, as is clear from the trial on the burning of the Reichstag, it was the plan of the fascist scoundrels to provoke this battle in order to cut off and physically annihilate the vanguard of the German working class. And this was also what German Social-Democracy and the whole Second International wanted when they rejected the Comintern's proposal of March 5 for a united front of struggle against fascism. To lead the German Communists under the axe of fascism, to finish off at one stroke one of the advance detach­ments of world Bolshevism, the C.P.G.-this was also in line with the wishes of the Welses. It was just for this reason that the Welses, who did not want to fight fascism, declined the repeated attempts of the C.P.G. to organize a joint struggle of the Social-Democratic and Communist workers against fascism. 

The scoundrel Trotsky, who has become the chief purveyor of "ideas" for international reaction, was likewise trying to bring about the rout of Thaelmann's Party, which remained loyal to the Com­intern. And these malicious plans of German fascism and social-­fascism in regard to the C.P.G. are most intimately connected with the whole position of the Second International in regard to world Bolshevism and the U.S.S.R. International Social-Democracy, in conjunction with Trotsky, would have liked to see the armed de­struction of the U.S.S.R., for it knows that the victory of socialism brings with it the death of Social-Democracy. 

And it would have been pure adventurism if the German Com­munist Party, relying on a part of the proletariat split by Social­-Democracy-a part which was moreover isolated from the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie, and which did not have any armed forces at its disposal-had got involved in a battle with the united fascist gangs and the Reichswehr. 

To the same category belong the accusations launched by in­dividual defeatists against the C.P .G. to the effect that after Social­ Democracy had declined its proposal for a united front of struggle, it did not develop actions on its own initiative, not actions of an armed character but actions in general. And here it is perfectly clear that we have to do with parrot-like imitators of Social-Democ­racy who have succumbed to the pressure of Social-Democracy and are trying to shift the responsibility from it on to the German Com­munist Party. Instead of pillorying German Social-Democracy be­fore the working class of their own country--German Social ­Democracy which has forsaken the proletariat in its direst need, which has deliberately led it, unarmed both materially and politically, under the axe of the fascist hangmen-these people are casting a stone at the Party which has courageously done its duty and continues to do its duty by the proletariat. Such people represent an obstacle to the winning over of the Social-Democratic workers, and it is necessary to expose them in order to wage a successful struggle against Social-Democracy. 

Next

II. The Shifting in the Correlation of Class Forces