|Jorge Aliaga Cacho and comrades in Edinburgh.|
Por Jorge Aliaga
The First International was formed in London, the year 1864. It was named the International Workingmen's Association. Among the articles ot its constitution there is one which establishes:
'that the economic liberation of the working class is the greatest object to which all political movements as a means must be subordinated: that all attempts to attain this end have so far remained unsuccessful becauseof the lack os solidarity between the workers of different industries in each separate country, and the absence of brotherly union between the workers of different countries.'
The First International very clearly recognised that the liberation of laboour is neither local nor national but an international task, and accordingly it needed a theoretical and practical mutual action . In Paris, in the year 1889, the Second International was formed to continue the work of its predecessor. However, at the beginning of the War in 1914, it suffered a total collapse. Its functions expired according to documents published by its successor, undermined by opportunism and slain by the treachery of the leaders who had passed over to the bourgeoisie.
In March of 1919 in Moscow, the First Congress of the Communist International made a world wide appeal for the formation of communist parties around the globe. It claimed to continue the work initiated by the Firtst International. This appeal was implemented very effectively and rapidly in Europe and some months later in Latin America: in Mexico in SEptember 1919, a Hindu, a North American and a Russian organised the Communist Party of that country. From the beginning internationalism was an idea accepted not just in theory but also in practice, as can be shown by our last example.
'Remember the imperialist war!' These were the first words used by the Third International to address each worker, wherever he might live, whatever language he might speak. They sought to remember the 20 million victims sacrificed by the bourgeoisie of different countries. 'Remember that the bourgeois war has cast Europe and the whole world into terrible famine and poverty'. According to the Third International, without the overthrow of capitalism the repetition os such wars for plunder is not only possible, but eve inevitable.
It was the Third International which took the name the Communist International and therefore recommended the formation of communist parties around the world or the remaining of existing Marxist Revolutionary Parties as communist.
The organ of the Executive Committee of the Communist International appeared simultaneously in English, Russian, French and German. Its editor was Zinoviev, comrade and collaborator of Lenin. Zinoviev, founder and also president of de Communist Interantional , had great prestige among the members of the movement. Under his presidency the Communist International grew, gaining far away countries and achieving efffective international organisation. After Lenin's death, Zinoviev was gradually removed from positions of influence and later accused of being the instigator of Kirov's assassination by Stalin.
After Lenin's death millions of communists were sacrificed bye Stalin. The purge of Lenin's supporters seems to have been the first task of Stalin's madess. The undemocratic features of his government, the suppression and murder of his critics, the elimination of democratic forms of debate and the rubber stamp policies of the Comintern made Stalin's legacy the most damaging inheritance for Communists, Socialists and other Marxists around the world.
An evaluation of this tragedy is essential in order to correct the errors and to understand the contradictions of our struggle. Surely, by understanding our history we cn be better prepared to take action in pursuit of this unity which our movement requires if is to succedd in the struggle for socialism.
Throughout 1924, Trotsky on one side against Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin on the other were involved in a 'literary debate'. Zinoviev and Kamenev accused Trotsky of being a Menshevik and that he had belatedly converted to bolshevism in 1917. Znviev and Kamenev were accussed of having lacked revolutionary nerve in opposing the Bolsheviks in 1917. Stalin, who did not play a crucial role during those times of insurrection was excluded from these mutual vituperations. Trotsky, surrounded by hostility within the miliary cells, resigned as Commissar of War in January 1925.
Although factions had existed under Lenin's command, these had been transitory and their members had frequently changed sides. The emerging realignment under Stalin represented hardened positions based on conflicting programmes and slogans and was unresponsive to compromise or individual manoeuvres. After the fall of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev seemed to awaken to the tremendous power which Stalin had gathered and the implementation and interpretations of the NEP (New Economic Plan) found the Russian eadership divided into two contending parts.
Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky assumed the left position while Bukharin, Alesksei Rykov and Tomsky, the right. Stalin posisioned himself in the centre although he invariably allied himself with the right. The right's view was that economic development depended on the peasant and on incentives that would lead to agricultural surplus. Therefore, further concesions to the kulaks, 'rich' peasants, would have to be made. It eas their view that the Kulaks were the only ones able to produce a surplus. The right further argued that industry would follow the lead of agriculture. They believed that the kulaks would eventually be absorbed into a socialist economy.
The left's view was that fast industrialisation was the path towards socialism. Therefore, they supported policies of increased taxation for the kulaks and decreased taxation for the middle and poor peasans. They supported the colectivization of farms which would solve the food suply crisis and would create the initial socialist accumulation indispensable for industrial growth. They regarded the kulaks as the potential force of a capitalist rrestoration.
New developmente moved Zinoviev and Kamenev further to the left. However, they did not make an alliance with Trotsky. (The Fourteenth Party Congress in December 1925, a dramatic and tense Congress, was the last to allow an open confrontation. Zinoviev and Kamenev led the attack against Stalin. They viewed him as a dictatorial threat to the revolution. In July 1926 Zinoviev was removed from the Politburo. The same year the Communist Party of Germany (KDP) became a victim of the purges among the old Bolsheviks. By February 1926 the Comintern had altered the French Communist Party by 180 degrees and thereby, according to Helmut Gruber, returned to the same course from which the German leaders had been condened and purged in 1924. n 1927 Treint and Girault were dropped from the Politburo of the French Communist Party and expelled from the Party. The French Communist Party became a docile member of the Comintern.
Gruber argues that because the defeats of united front policies in Poland, Britain and China, during 1926-1927 were attributed to the right wing tendencies of the respective parties, this helped shield the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) from criticism.
'Stalin forced Bukharin to expel or neutralise the very leaders in the parties to whom he might have appealed later for support against Stalin. Thus Stalin succeeded in making Bukharin an accomplice to his own destrucction, justa as he manoeuvre Zinoviev to remove his own followers from the Comintern two years earlier.' (Gruber, page 193), 'Soviet Russia Masters the Comintern', Anchor Books, 1974.
In Britain the Communist Party of Great Britain refused to see why a 'class against class' doctrine should be applied to the Labour Party, which still commanded the loyalty of the mayority of the working class. The CPGB seeking refuge in Lenin's advice of 1920, mantained that its task was to help a Labour Party government into office in 1928 and to promote the communist position among the rank and file in both the Labour Party and the, Trade Union Council, (TUC). By 1931 the Communist International resported that seven executive committee members of the Communist International had been espelled for deviations and that the leadership of twelve communist parties had been completely changed.
The renewal of the Communist International is of vital importance at the preseent time. however, it is indispensable to recognise the mistakes which contributed to the abnormal developmente of our revolutionary movement. The cult of personality, the improper practice of democratic centralism, authoritarianism and tyranny were the signs of Stalin's regime.
'Escesses...were due in part to the fact that there was not clear explanation of the nature of the methods and forms of the wholesale collectivization, or the criteria for its completion....Many officials interpreted it....as the immediate incorporation of all toiling peasants in kilkhozy'
'Stalin and his closer co-workers did not consider it essential to discuss the Party's new policiy for the villages in a broad party forum, such as a congress or conference.'
Despite al our vicissitudes, we beleive that there is a bright future for communist organisations. The Communist Party of Great Britain, after seventy years, was re-named Democratic Left and abandoned its Marxist tradition. In 1990 the communists in Scotland called a Conference in Glasgow and agreed t retain their Marxist identity by re-launching the Communist Party of Scotland. The few hundred Scots whotook that decision are not alone in their endeavour.
In France the Communist Party claimed a membership of 200,000 members. Its 27th Congress in 1990 vote down a proposal to change its name or eliminate the hammer and sickle emblem. In Italy, in contrast to France, the Italian communists were re-named the Democratic Party of the Left (DPL) and eliminated the hammer and sickle symbol in 1991. In Spain the largest communist movement has 83,000 members. The Spanish communists (PCE) have resused to change their name, although its leader is co-ordinator for the United Left Coalition. In Portugal, the CP has acted similarly with a United Peoples' Alliance Coalition. In Portugal the Part claims to have 200,000 members. In Turkey a United Communist Party of Turkey (UCPT) unites all communists; however, it has remained under an official ban. The Turkish comrades seek to have a cover organisation for the communists. should they be declared ilegal again. In Greece the Communist Party (KKE) registers 50,000 members. West Germany's communists have stopped receiving financial subsidies from their sister movement in East Germany. In December 1990 the KKP's 10,000 members supported the list of the PDS (Party for Democratic Socialism).
There are nearly 2 million communists in Western Europe alone. China has 48 million communist party members. Russia has suffered a 2.7 mullion fall in communist membership but, according to 'Pravda' accounted for 16.5 million members in April 1991. The Northern Korean Communist Party has 2 million members. The National Salvation Front, successor to the Rumanian Communist Party became legal in 1990. The United Left in Nepal comprises seven communist factions, from radical to centrists. In Cuba the Communist Party has over 5000,000 mmbers. In Vietnam the Communist Party has over 2 million members. in India the communists hold power in Calcutta. Around the world there is an estimated 82 million communist party card holders.
The Struggle Continues
The future of the former socialist republics is uncertain. Political and economic instability, the practice of chauvinism and local nationalism, together with the intervention of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the republics' affairs will be the elements which will put the former socialist republics in a position reminiscent of their 'third world' counterparts. however, the struggle continues. Communists in Russia, for istance, in aliance with other democratic forces opposed the undemocratic banning of the Russian Parliament. Mr Yeltsin, like Stalin before him, is using repression in order to silence his critics. Hundreds of Russians, many communists, have died defending the democratic rights of the Russian people. The dictator Yeltsin, like Pinochet or Franco, will meet, sooner rather than later, the growing protest of the masses. In order to reinstate democracy in Russia, Haiti, or any part of the world, international solidarity is needed. Successes like the electoral victory in Poland or the new communist contingents in Italy, Mongolia, Spain and Nicaragua, suggest hat the political terrain is fertile to re-organise, to correct mistakes and to re-launch, the Communist International.
(First published in 1994).
(First published in 1994).