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Communist International

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The Communist International: A critical analysis

 

 

Introduction by Richard Fidler

October 18, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — The soviet seizure of power under Bolshevik leadership, in October 1917, surprised many socialists outside of Russia, particularly in Western Europe where the tendency was to anticipate socialist victory through the election of a socialist majority and parliamentary adoption of the kind of program outlined by the prominent Marxist intellectual Karl Kautsky in The Road to Power.

How pioneer Communists assessed the Russian Soviet Republic

 

 

By John Riddell

February 6, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — The Communist International (or Comintern) was founded in Moscow in 1919, with the goal of helping to extend the socialist revolution that had taken place in Russia across Europe and around the world.  

The Russian Communist (Bolshevik) party that had led in establishing Soviet power was respected in the International as a prime source of strategic and tactical guidance. Yet the Comintern’s statutes did not accord any primacy to the Russian Communist Party (RCP). Like other Comintern sections, the Russian party was answerable to the International’s world congresses.

How socialists resist rightist coups: Lessons from the early Communist International

 

 

By John Riddell

January 14, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Parliaments and elections are no guarantee of democratic rights and fair treatment for working people. Capitalist forces displeased with an electoral outcome are all too likely to take direct action to impose their will, whether by financial manipulations, economic blockades, or military coups.

Even apparently stable parliamentary regimes in dominant countries can be challenged in this way. So it was that a military revolt brought down the French Fourth Republic in 1958 and, in 2020-21, Donald Trump mounted a campaign including an apparent coup attempt aiming to overturn the outcome of the US presidential election.

Socialists are challenged to actively oppose rightist coup attempts without lending support to any wing of the ruling capitalist class.

Party organization in Lenin’s Comintern

 

 

By John Riddell

January 7, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Many socialist groups today seek to shape their organizational principles in the spirit of “democratic centralism” identified with V.I. Lenin. Yet as historian Lars Lih has demonstrated (“Fortunes of a Formula” and “Further Fortunes of a Formula”), Lenin himself used the term only occasionally, and then with widely varying emphasis. The formula’s meaning for socialists today is in fact derived mainly from its application by the Communist International (Comintern) in Lenin’s lifetime and under his guidance (1919–23).

The Comintern’s Great Turn of 1920-21

 

 

By John Riddell

September 18 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Following its consolidation as a global organization in 1920, the Communist International (Comintern) experienced triumphant growth, then a severe setback, a leadership crisis, and finally – at the Third World Congress – a sharp reorientation toward United Front strategy.

The story of this fast-paced and complex evolution is traced in the introduction to To the Masses, a study of the Comintern’s Third World Congress (June-July 1921), which carried out the necessary change of direction.

The Comintern’s Second Congress: A Centennial Introduction

 

 

By John Riddell

July 22, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — The Second Congress of the Communist International (Comintern), convened in Moscow precisely 100 years ago, on July 19, 1920. Its deliberations, spread over almost three weeks, represent the best single introduction to the thought and dynamics of global communism during Lenin’s lifetime.

The workers’ and peasants’ government

 

 

Introduction by Mike Taber

 

July 7, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary Blog — Reproduced below are a resolution and excerpts from a report adopted in June 1923 by the Communist International (Comintern). It took place at an enlarged meeting of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI).

 

The Comintern debates the United Front

 

 

Introduction by Mike Taber

 

July 7, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary Blog — Below are excerpts from the February 1922 debate on the united front that took place at an enlarged meeting of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI). The speakers include Grigorii Zinoviev, Karl Radek, and Leon Trotsky.

 

The dawn of our liberation: The early days of the International Communist Women’s Movement

 

 

By Daria Dyakonova

 

‘If women’s liberation is unthinkable without communism,
then communism is unthinkable without women’s liberation.’ — Inessa Armand[1]

 

October 13, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentaries — On July 30, [1920] in the evening, slender columns of women workers wearing red kerchiefs and holding banners make their way to the Bolshoi Theater from remote districts and outskirts of Moscow. The slogans on the banners run: ‘Through the dictatorship of the proletariat in all countries to the full emancipation of women.’

 

The now neglected history of Soviet anti-colonialism

 

 

By Rohit Krishnan

 

September 7, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Africa is a Country — In 1920, prior to the second Congress of the Comintern, Lenin circulated a draft of his theses on “The Question of Colonized People and Oppressed Minorities.” The end-result of this was the inclusion in the “21 Conditions” for Comintern membership, of an obligation to provide “direct aid to the revolutionary movements among the dependent and underprivileged nations and in the colonies.” While often cited by Marxists as evidence of the Bolshevik’s commitment to anti-imperialism, few cite the role of colonized activists in its formation.

 

The League Against Imperialism (1927-37): An early attempt at global anti-colonial unity

 

 

By John Riddell

 

July 13, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist essays and commentary — The League Against Imperialism was launched in Brussels in 1927 with the goal of forging unity between colonized peoples and workers in the colonizing countries. Initiated by a wing of the Communist International, it was the first attempt to structure international anti-colonial unity. This brief presentation will focus on its origins and the causes of its decline.

 

The Communist International: Its present-day relevance

 

 

By John Riddell

 

May 7, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary  — Thirty-five years ago I undertook to translate and publish the record of the Communist International in Lenin’s lifetime, covering the preparatory years from 1907 to its foundation in 1919 and through 1923. Ten books totalling 7,000 pages are published or in preparation. This has been a team effort of more than 100 collaborators in several continents backed up with a broad community of readers, critics, and supporters.

 

Fruits and perils of the ‘bloc within’: The Comintern and Asia 1919-25 (Part 3)

 

 

Chen Duxiu

 

By John Riddell

 

January 28, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — The most advanced experience of Communist alliance with national revolutionists occurred in Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) prior to the Baku Congress. However, it was not mentioned at the congress, even though one of its architects – the Dutch Communist Maring (Henk Sneevliet) – was present in the hall. Maring had been a leader for many years of revolutionary socialist Dutch settlers in Indonesia, who had achieved the remarkable feat of transforming their group into one predominantly indigenous in leadership, membership, and programmatic orientation. The key to success had been a close alliance with a mass national-revolutionary organization of the type described by the Second Congress, called Sarekat Islam.

 

Their tactic, which they called a “bloc within,” involved building a Communist fraction within the Islamic organization both by sending comrades into the movement and recruiting from its ranks. The bloc with Sarekat Islam, which started up before the Comintern was formed, had resulted in consolidation of a small but viable Communist party in Indonesia.[1]

 

Should Communists ally with revolutionary nationalism? The Comintern and Asia 1919-25 (Part 2)

 

 

Turar Ryskulov (1894-1938)

 

By John Riddell

 

January 28, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — As described in part 1 of this series, the Comintern leadership concluded at the end of 1919 that “[T]he civil war of the working people against the imperialists and exploiters in all the advanced countries is beginning to be combined with national wars against international imperialism.”[1]

 

But how would the proposed alliance of workers’ and national uprisings be effected? This strategic issue was addressed in the Comintern’s Second Congress, held in Moscow 9 July-7 August 1920.

Toward a global strategic framework: The Comintern and Asia 1919-25 (Part 1)

 

 

Manabendra Nath Roy

 

By John Riddell

 

January 28, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — The revolutionary activists who founded the Communist International (Comintern) in 1919 had little contact with movements for national and colonial liberation outside Russia. Nonetheless, only a year later, in July 1920, the Comintern adopted a far-reaching strategy for national and social revolution in dependent countries, later termed the anti-imperialist united front.

 

Karl Liebknecht 1916: ‘Down with the war; down with the government!’

 

 

Karl Liebknecht addressing Berlin demonstration.

 

Introductory note by John Riddell

 

July 20, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission — One hundred years ago, on June 28, 1916, 55,000 metalworkers in Berlin went on strike to protest the sentencing of Karl Liebknecht to two and a half years in prison. It was Germany’s first mass protest strike of World War 1. Liebknecht received mass support in Germany and beyond as the first German socialist to have voted against parliamentary allocations to pay for the government war spending. He had been arrested at an illegal May Day demonstration organized by the Spartacist League, just after calling out, “Down with the war! Down with the government!” Two days after his arrest, Liebknecht explained the goals of the May Day demonstration and the Spartacist League in the following statement at his trial.

 

A missed revolutionary opportunity: The Comintern Third Congress discussion on the 1920 Italian factory occupations

 

 

Factories under control of the Red Guards in Italy, 1920

 

Introductory note by Mike Taber and John Riddell

 

July 12, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review -- As the Communist International’s Third Congress convened in Moscow in June–July 1921, the powerful working-class upsurge that had shaken Italy months earlier was fresh in delegates’ minds and posed a backdrop to their debates.

 

The September 1920 occupation of the factories in Italy is a lesser-known revolutionary experience of the post–World War I years, yet its impact was no less significant. By starkly posing the question of which class should run the economy, the occupations legitimized a new form of proletarian struggle—expressed in part through the tactic of the sit-down strike that was widely utilized during the 1930s. Possessing the potential for working-class victory, the defeat of this movement instead opened the door to the rise to power of Benito Mussolini and Italian fascism.

The Kiental Manifesto: Socialists against war, 1916

 

 

Rosa Luxemburg’s Spartacists called at Kiental for a new International.

 

By John Riddell

 

April 27, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission -- One hundred years ago this week, socialist opponents of the First World War gathered in Kiental, Switzerland, issued an appeal calling on working people to “use every means possible to bring a rapid end to the human slaughter.” The appeal, known as the “Kiental Manifesto,” appears below.

 

A workers’ International
 at a turning point: Introducing excerpts from the Communist International’s Third Congress

 

Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin addressing the
Third Congress of the Communist International in 1921.

 

By John Riddell

 

March 16, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review with the author's permission -- When revolutionary socialists met in a global congress in 1921, both their strong and their weak points were on full display. Their world alliance, the Communist International (Comintern), had built mass parties in the decisive countries of Europe. Yet, as 600 delegates from fifty-five countries gathered in Moscow that year, Lenin wrote, “Something is wrong in the International. . . . We must say Stop! . . . Otherwise, the International is lost.”[1]

 

The complete record of this tumultuous three-week event, finally available in English, enables today’s activists to make the acquaintance of their predecessors in the era of the Russian revolution and witness their efforts to map a new course. To the Masses, Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921 will be available in a Haymarket Books edition in early 2016.

 

International Socialist Review is publishing three sets of excerpts from this book, the first of which is reposted below.

 

Lenin's Comintern compromise of 1921

For more on the Communist International, click HERE. For more by or about John Riddell

By John Riddell

May 5, 2015 -- JohnRiddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 1921, a time of declining mass struggles, the Communist International (Comintern) was thrown off course by insistent demands at every level of the organisation for the young movement to launch confrontational actions, even if Communists must fight almost alone. In mid-1921, the Comintern’s Third Congress turned decisively away from this policy. Under the slogan, “To the masses”, it adopted, on Lenin’s insistence, the strategy of unifying working people in struggle that was codified six months later as the “united front”.

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