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The founding, action and dissolution of the Communist International through the prism of the current tasks of the international communist movement
On December 18, 2020, the newspaper Pravda of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) published an article by the Russian journalist and philosopher Viktor Truskov on the founding and action of the Communist International, under the title “Did we overestimate our strength, when we founded the International?”.
The author, based on the diary of the communist leader Georgi Dimitrov, notes that this phrase belongs to Joseph Stalin, and that he simply put it in the form of a question. The article gives a brief overview of important decisions of the Communist International (CI), among other things praises the orientation towards the founding of popular fronts, while also making an attempt to justify the decision for the self-dissolution of the Communist International. The main argument used is that “there can be no guidance of the international communist movement from one center”. At the same time, the founding of the Cominform for the exchange of information between the CPs is assessed as positive, and it is estimated that neither the International Conferences of the CPs in the 1980s, initiated by the CPSU, nor the annual International Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties, which started on the initiative of the KKE, could not fill this information gap.
First of all, the attempt to examine serious issues in the history of the international communist movement and to draw conclusions about the current struggle should be viewed as a positive fact. At the same time, we must note that by studying the specific historical course of the CI, our Party has drawn different conclusions than those of the author of the article.
The connection of the historical course of the KKE with the CI
Our comrades in other countries should know that the KKE was founded as the Socialist Workers' Party of Greece (SEKE) in the radiance of the October Revolution and proclaimed at its Founding Conference (November 17-23, 1918) that it “declares itself a section of the International, of the united and associated parties of all the Countries that struggle for the overthrow of International capitalism and the triumph of International socialism”. The First National Council of SEKE (31 May - 5 June 1919) renounced the opportunist line of the 2nd International and instructed the CC to begin preparations for the Party's affiliation with the Communist International. The first of the thousands of dead martyrs of our Party that fell for the cause of workers' power were Dimosthenis Ligdopoulos and Orion Alexakis, who were killed on the way back to Greece from Moscow, where they participated in the 2nd Congress of the Communist International. The 3rd Extraordinary Congress of the SEKE (November 26 - December 3, 1924) decided on the unequivocal acceptance of the CI and the Balkan Communist Federation Resolutions and the renaming of the Party as the Communist Party of Greece (Greek Section of the Communist International), which remained as a section of the CI until its dissolution in 1943.
The decisions of the Communist International had a catalytic effect on the course and action of our Party. Thus, evaluating the action of the KKE, our Party objectively examined the action of the Communist International as well. Our Party, studying its history, held a rich internal party discussion, which culminated in a Panhellenic Conference on history in 2018, where its four-volume History Essay was approved. The History Essay examines the period from the party's founding in 1918 to 1949, which marked the end of the heroic epic of the Democratic Army of Greece, a struggle that shook the foundations of bourgeois power in Greece, but failed to overthrow them.
Unfortunately, the History Essay has not yet been translated into other languages, however, basic assessments of the Essay on the issues of the Communist International are presented in the “Statement of the Central Committee of the KKE on the 100 years since the founding of the Communist International” (February 2019) , which has been translated into many languages. On the occasion of the article of “Pravda”, we want to remind and examine some tasks for the communist and workers' parties at an international level.
The contribution of the CI and the critical examination of its course
First of all, we must note that regarding the CI, the KKE recognizes its contribution to the international workers' and communist movement, while underlining the need to derive important lessons from the experience accumulated from its action. The CI, progeny of the victory of the October Socialist Revolution in Russia (1917), answered to the need for coordination and unity in the international revolutionary workers' movement. The contribution of the CI was important in the support and the strengthening of the Communist Parties on a worldwide scale, its internationalist selfless solidarity towards the struggling and oppressed peoples, such as that which it offered with the formation of the “International Brigades” at the side of the Republican Army of Spain (1936 – 1938). The CI provided multi-faceted support towards persecuted militants throughout the world, carrying out publishing – educational actions, organizing schools for cadres on the revolutionary theory of Marxism – Leninism, and operating a network for political information sharing, also including journalists.
The problems and conflicts in the strategics of the CI that had a negative influence on all of the Communist Parties – members, do not negate its contribution to the International Communist Movement. The legacy of the CI and the study of its experience, are valuable today for the regroupment of the International Communist Movement, for the creation of a unified revolutionary strategy against capitalist power.
At the same time, the KKE makes a critical evaluation in a series of decisions of the CI, such as the following: “the contradictory course of alternation in its stance towards social democracy, gradually weakened the front against it, although the latter had clearly developed as a counter-revolutionary political force of bourgeois power. Thus, the right opportunist positions were strengthened in the ranks of the CI parties”.
Our party criticizes the Program of the CI [6th Congress], which distinguished three main types of revolutions in the struggle for the global dictatorship of the proletariat, based on the position of each capitalist country in the international imperialist system. It notes that in this way, the international character of the epoch of monopoly capitalism and the sharpening of the fundamental contradiction between capital and labor were underestimated. Moreover, the analysis of the CI was not guided by the objective fact that the uneven development of capitalist economies and unequal relations between states cannot be abolished on the grounds of capitalism. Ultimately, the character of the revolution in every capitalist country is objectively determined by the basic contradiction it is called upon to resolve, irrespective of the relative change in the position of each country in the international imperialist system. The socialist character and the tasks of the revolution arise from the sharpening of the fundamental capitalist-labor contradiction in every capitalist country, in the era of monopoly capitalism.
The character of the era was underestimated, as a period of transition from capitalism to socialism, and the ability of socialist production relations to give great impetus to liberating the development of the productive forces, as proven in the Soviet Union.
Imperialism was mistakenly considered as a form of violent foreign policy of some - the most powerful - states, while within the imperialist system were dozens of countries (monopoly capitalism had been formed in both China and Brazil). At the same time, their characterization as dependent did not take into account the interplay of interests between the foreign and the domestic bourgeoisie.
Another fundamental problem was that powerful bourgeois and political forces, already in power, engaged in the revolutionary process, as in Turkey, as well as the bourgeois classes of Morocco, Syria, and so on.
The KKE critically assesses the resolutions of the 7th Congress of the CI concerning the change in the definition of fascism and the formation of Popular Fronts as a form of political co-operation between the Communist Parties and the social democratic and other bourgeois parties and opportunist movements that took part or supported governments that did not challenge capitalist power. Our party stresses that this directions “created illusions and a spirit of reconciliation, confusion and attenuation of the ideological-political front against social democracy and opportunism”.
We also critically assess the fact that following fascist Germany's invasion of the USSR, the CI changed its position on the character of the war, defining it as anti-fascist, and stating that “... the basic strike is now directed against fascism ...” and that “at this stage, we do not call for the overthrow of capitalism in the various countries, nor for a global revolution ... From this struggle we must not rebuff that section of the petty bourgeoisie, the intellectuals and the peasantry which leans openly in favor of the national liberation movement. Instead, we must win them as allies, and the Communists must become part of this movement as its guiding core”.
This position underestimated the fact that the character of the war is determined by which class wages the war and for what purpose, whether it is originally and at that particular moment on the defense or on the attack. The struggle against fascism and the liberation from foreign occupation, for democratic rights and freedoms, was detached from the struggle against capital.
The contradictions in the CI's line on the character of World War II were also influenced by the aspirations of the USSR's foreign policy and by its attempt to defend itself from an imperialist war. However, in any case, the needs of the foreign policy of one socialist state cannot supplant the necessity of a revolutionary strategy for every capitalist country. The ultimate security of a socialist state is determined by the worldwide victory of socialism or its prevalence in a powerful group of countries and hence, the struggle for revolution in each country.
On the self-dissolution of the CI
Our party believes that “the decision to self-dissolve the CI was in complete opposition to the principles that served its founding. It was in contradiction with the spirit and the letter of the Communist Manifesto, with the principle of Proletarian Internationalism, with the need, under all circumstances, for a united revolutionary strategy of the Communist parties against international imperialism”.
The History Essay of the KKE notes the words of the American communist leader and historian, William Foster: “It is characteristic that this historic decision was taken at the crucial moment of the struggle for the opening of the second front. This front was extremely necessary for a quick and decisive victory, but the reactionary forces of the West (which also believed in Goebbels's lies about the Communist International) opposed its opening. Undoubtedly, the favorable impression that the dissolution of the Communist International caused on the whole bourgeois world, decisively contributed to the elimination of this opposition. Only a few months later (November-December 1943) the famous Tehran Conference met, where the final date for the opening of the second front was finally set”.
In the Essay it is noted that: “Surely, the causes that led to the self-dissolution of the CI need to be studied further, in the light of the study of the overall experience offered by the course of the CI. However, some estimates can be made and some conclusions can be drawn.
The decision to dissolve the International, taken during the development and culmination of the war, was not a step towards promoting the workers' and people's struggle against fascism, in relation to a war against the womb that gave birth to it, i.e. capitalism. The decision was in complete opposition to the principles on which the founding of the First International was based, which was formed while there were no communist parties yet. It was in contradiction with the spirit and the letter of the Communist Manifesto, with the principle of proletarian internationalism, and also with the very reasons for which the CI was founded. According to Lenin: “To the Third International falls the task of organizing the proletarian forces for a revolutionary onslaught against the capitalist governments, for civil war against the bourgeoisie of all countries for the capture of political power, for the triumph of socialism!”.
The decision for the self-dissolution of the CI weakened the revolutionary forces in the short, medium and long term and of course it was not a measure to defend the USSR. On the contrary, it led to the intensification of the pressures exerted by every bourgeoisie against the CPs, at a time when the war was deeply shaking not only the bourgeoisie itself, but also capitalist property, depending on the damage caused by the military operations. It did not prepare the labor movements for a counterattack in conditions of a crisis of the bourgeois power in its fascist or any other form, and even at a time when the prestige of the USSR and the admiration of millions for the achievements of the Soviet people and the Red Army had peaked and when the influence and prestige of a series of CPs had significantly increased, due to their leading role in the anti-fascist and national liberation struggle.
It cannot be accepted that the CI had to be dissolved in order to overthrow Hitler's anti-communist propaganda, as well as the propaganda of all the opponents of the CPs that characterized them as foreign-led.
The decision downplayed the sharpness of the intra-imperialist contradictions that had led to World War II. For example, the immediate and long-term interests of the Japanese bourgeoisie in the Pacific and East Asia, which were threatened by the US, were the ones that forced Japan not to attack the USSR, but the US instead.
The decision absolutized the differences in the conditions of action of the CPs, thus degrading or even nullifying the basic and common characteristic of all CPs: the fact that they acted in conditions of capitalism, especially in the conditions created by the imperialist world war.
After all, the necessity for the existence of an international communist center is not determined by the strength and maturity of the CPs, but by the need, under any circumstances, to have a unified revolutionary strategy of the CPs against international imperialism. Therefore, the claim that the CPs had become stronger and more mature and that for this reason the CI was becoming obsolete, was unfounded.
On the other hand, what was done in practice, that is the informal function of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) as an international communist center, was not right, no matter how well-established it was, as it led socialist construction in the USSR after the first victorious October Socialist Revolution and played a leading role in crushing fascism.
In the statement of the CC of the KKE on the 100 years of the CI, it is also noted that “it is a different matter to explore the organizational form that the unity of the International Communist Movement must have, its way of functioning and, of course, always on the condition of formulating a single revolutionary strategy”.
At the same time, it is assessed that “after World War II, it projected the need for unitary action of the International Communist Movement against the united international counter-attack of imperialism. Its expression was in the formation of the Information Bureau (Cominform) by representatives of 9 Communist and Workers' Parties (USSR, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, France and Italy) in Sklarska Poruba, Poland (22-28 September 1947). The founding meeting set itself the objective of exchanging information and coordinating action. In reality, the Information Bureau played a leading role in the International Communist Movement, although it could in no way cover the need for the formation of a new Communist International. It was dissolved in 1956, as a result of the right-wing opportunist turn (after the 20th CPSU Congress) and the crisis in the International Communist Movement.
New, more relaxed forms of co-ordination of the action of the International Communist Movement were established later via the international conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties, however these did not form the basis for a single revolutionary strategy confronting the international imperialist system”.
On the current efforts in the international communist movement
Pravda's article identifies the need for an international communist center and revolutionary strategy with the erroneous practice of transforming the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) into an informal international communist center. Thus it concludes that all that is required is the mutual information of the CPs, as in the opinion of the author the Cominform tried to do. The article makes the following assessment: “Unfortunately, the dissolution of the Cominform, as a result of the report of N.S. Khrushchev at the closed session of the XX Congress of the CPSU about the personality cult surrounding of J.V. Stalin, led to the elimination of tools of systematic information about the activities of the Marxist-Leninist parties around the world. Neither the periodic meetings of the Communist and Workers' parties, which met until the late 1980s, nor the annual meetings of the Communist and Workers' parties, which began from the KKE in the late 1990s, fulfill this function. And that negatively affects the state of the international communist movement”.
Based on the above assessment, the following question arises: Does the current state of deep retreat of the international communist movement simply have its root cause in the lack of information?
First of all, we would like to note that in the International Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties (IMCWP), which started on the initiative of the KKE but are now held under the collective responsibility of their Working Group, more than 120 parties included in the SOLIDNET list can take part each year. All these years, 21 annual IMCWPs have taken place, where the parties could communicate their positions. There is also the digital version of the “Information Bulletin”, which contains the materials of the meetings of the CPs. In 2020, due to the pandemic, it was not possible to conduct the IMCWP, thus a special digital edition of the “Information Bulletin” was published, containing the positions of the parties.
In addition, on the basis of IMCWPs, there is also the joint website of CPs, under the name SOLIDNET (http://www.solidnet.org ), operating under the responsibility of the KKE, and where the CPs can publish news, as well as their programs, resolutions of their Central Committees, their guiding bodies, and other documents. For example, in the last 10 years more than 16,000 materials sent by Communist and Workers' parties have been published on this website. Indicatively, in 2020, 3,338 materials were published, while in 2019, the various materials were 3,158, written in languages which the parties chose (English, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, etc.).
Moreover, on the basis of SOLIDNET there is an additional system of rapid mutual information of CPs. Through this system more than 500 subscribers, mainly CPs, their newspapers and other media, as well as their cadres, receive by e-mail on a daily basis the publications on SOLIDNET by various CPs all over the world.
It is no coincidence that in both 2019 and 2020, tens of thousands of people visit SOLIDNET for information. Thus in 2020 the statistics show that the SOLIDNET website was visited by people from 161 countries (176 in 2019), i.e. from many more countries than the Communist and Workers' parties that have been included in the SOLIDNET list, even from countries were there are no CPs yet.
Finally, we must note that today, unlike 20-30 years ago, a significant number of parties have their own party or newsletter pages, where anyone can get information. Thus, the KKE has its party website https://www.kke.gr/ in Greek and in ten more languages, while those who know Greek can be informed on a daily basis by the digital version of its newspaper https://www.rizospastis.gr/ and its information portal https://www.902.gr/, or its political theoretical magazine, the “Communist Review” - https://www.komep.gr/.
Of course, much can still be done in matters of information, but does the problem of the current negative situation lie in the issue of information?
In our opinion, we need to get to the root of the problem. Some aspects are the following:
“Many parties retain the title “communist”, but their ideological-political and organizational formation is not in line with the communist characteristics, the ideology of scientific communism, the revolutionary strategy - program that corresponds to a revolutionary workers', Leninist party.
Without downplaying the importance of a number of parties invoking Marxism-Leninism and thus separating their position from those that openly rejected our ideology, many of them still have a very weak class approach regarding the contemporary phenomena of capitalism, the class struggle on the basis of communist ideology, the dialectical materialist analysis of history and contemporary social phenomena...
...The CPs' approaches are often dominated by bourgeois - opportunist ideological influences, turning any invocation of our worldview from a theoretical basis and a scientific methodological tool for understanding and changing society into a “wish list”.
Briefly, the overall negative picture remains, both in the leading capitalist countries (USA, countries of the EU, UK, Japan, China, Russia) and also in countries and regions that are hotbeds of imperialist interventions”.
In general, the problem lies in the opportunist strategy of stages that has been entrenched for many decades, which in one way or another promotes a governmental goal on the ground of capitalism (anti-dictatorship, anti-occupation - liberation, democratic anti-imperialist, anti-fascist anti-liberal etc.) .
In general, the main problem expressed is the long-established opportunist strategy of the stages “setting a governmental aim on the ground of capitalism (anti-dictatorship, anti-occupation – liberating, democratic – anti-imperialist, anti-fascist – anti-neoliberal etc).”
“The situation is similar in the labor – trade union movement, where trade union leaderships and trade unions compromised with bourgeois governments and employers prevail, while the bonding of most CPs with the working class and its movement remains a great issue, in order to acquire new positions and a leading role in the class struggle...”
...A fierce ideological-political struggle is being waged among the ranks of the international communist movement on a number of issues, such as the approach of capitalism and the international imperialist system. Opinions prevail on the endurance of capitalism, on the possibilities of its “humanization” and “democratization”, the use of its technological achievements for the benefit of the popular forces with the active political intervention of the CPs even at a governmental level...
...On this ground, erroneous positions about “ the unity of the left”, “democratic or patriotic forces”, “the cooperation with the left-wing social democracy”, “center-left governments”, “new anti-fascist and anti-neoliberal fronts”, etc. are reproduced in the CPs...
...A struggle is also being conducted on the economic and political laws of the socialist revolution and the communist society, focusing on the interpretation of socialist-communist construction in the 20th century, the causes of the counter-revolutionary overthrow...
...A series of CPs form the opportunist position that “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is being constructed in China, with a certain compromise with the capital and the misconception that Russia is not an imperialist power, but a capitalist country of the “periphery” of the imperialist system, which, together with “socialist China”, plays a positive role in international developments. This approach, which detaches politics from the economy, opposes the Leninist conception of imperialism.
Our Party believes that the study of socialist construction in the USSR is an important achievement. Most CPs, who have not conducted any relevant studies, remain very confused about the character of today's China, Russia, and other states, which are part of the imperialist system. This can have tragic consequences for their stance on the issue of war in the epoch of imperialism, where the communist movement, having a decisive front against the imperialist centers of the US, NATO, EU, should not side with any imperialist power, but it must consistently defend the class interests of the working class in conflict with the bourgeoisie of its country, not to choose a “foreign flag” under the pressure of petty bourgeois forces but also nationalist pressures on the working class.
The communists must strengthen the front both against the conceptions of cosmopolitanism, which approach the international alliances of the bourgeoisies (EU, NATO, BRICS, etc.) in a non-class way, as well as nationalism, the “racial purity of the nation and culture” and the other racist perceptions, developed against refugees and immigrants.”
The 20th Congress of the KKE (March 30 - April 2, 2017) confirmed that “the regroupment and development of the international communist movement is a permanent, consistent task of our Party, which “flows from the global character of the class struggle”. That “the International Communist Movement is in retreat, finds it difficult to react against the offensive of the class enemy, which is taking place not only with repressive measures, but also with ideological-political means, with the impact of opportunism”. The KKE develops initiatives to form the conditions that will give impetus to the adoption of a common strategy of the Communist Parties through various appropriate forms, e.g. the European Communist Initiative, the “International Communist Review”, while our party still has the goal of forming a Marxist-Leninist pole in the international communist movement. The KKE is well aware that “the process of the revolutionary regroupment is slow, difficult, vulnerable, will be based on the ability of the communist parties to comprehensively strengthen themselves ideologically, politically and organizationally in their countries. Overcoming mistaken positions that dominated in the International Communist Movement in the previous decades and are being reproduced in different forms today. Building solid bases in the working class, in strategic sectors of the economy, reinforcing their intervention in the labour-people's movement” will strengthen each CP, will combine revolutionary action with revolutionary theory.
The slogan of the Communist Manifesto “Proletarians of all countries, unite!” remains timely.
 V.I. Lenin Collected Works, Synchroni Epochi publications, volume 26, page 42
 Theses of the CC for the 21st Congress of the KKE
 Theses of the CC for the 21st Congress of the KKE
 Theses of the CC for the 21st Congress of the KKE