Leon Trotsky

The First Five Years of the Communist International

Volume 1

Manifesto of the Second World Congress

(Part 1)

International Relations After Versailles

THE BOURGEOISIE throughout the world sorrowfully recalls its yesteryears. All of its mainstays in foreign and domestic relations have been either overthrown or shaken. “Tomorrow” looms like a black threat over the exploiters’ world. The imperialist war has completely destroyed the old system of alliances and mutual guarantees which lay at the bottom of the world balance of power and armed peace. The Versailles Treaty has created no new balance of power in place of the old.

First Russia, and then Austria-Hungary and Germany were eliminated as factors from the world arena. The mightiest countries which had occupied first places in the system of world seizures found themselves transformed into objects of plunder and dismemberment. Before the victory-flushed imperialism of the Entente there opened up new and vast horizons of colonial exploitation, beginning immediately beyond the Rhine, embracing all of Central and Eastern Europe and extending far to the Pacific Ocean. Are either the Congo or Syria [1], Egypt or Mexico in any way comparable to the steppes, forests and mountains of Russia and the skilled labor power of Germany? The new colonial program of the conquerors is self-determined: the workers’ republic in Russia is to be overthrown, Russian raw material is to be plundered, and the German worker coerced into processing it with the aid of German coal, while the armed German entrepreneur acts as overseer – thus assuring a flow of finished products and, with them, profits to the victors. The program of “organizing Europe,” advanced by German imperialism at the moment of its greatest military successes, has been inherited by – the victorious Entente. When the rulers of the Entente place the defeated bandits of the German Empire in the defendant’s dock, the latter will truly be judged by a “court of peers” – their peers in crime.

But the victors’ camp likewise contains a number of those who have themselves been vanquished.

Intoxicated by chauvinist fumes of a victory which she won for others, bourgeois France considers herself the commandress of Europe. In reality, never before has France and the very foundations of her existence been so slavishly dependent upon the more powerful states – England and North America – as she is today. For Belgium, France prescribes a specific economic and military program, transforming her weaker ally into an enslaved province, but in relation to England, France herself plays the role of Belgium, only on a somewhat larger scale.

From time to time the English imperialists allow the French usurers to exercise their arbitrary rule within specified limits on the continent. In this way they skillfully divert from themselves, and unload on France, the sharpest indignation of the toilers of Europe and of England herself. The power of ruined and blood-drained France is illusory, almost burlesque in character; sooner or later this will penetrate even into the brains of French social-patriots.

The specific weight of Italy in world affairs has dropped even lower. Without coal, without grain, without raw materials, with her internal equilibrium completely disrupted by the war, bourgeois Italy is incapable, though not from lack of ill will, of fully realizing in life her right to plunder and violate even those colonial nooks and corners allotted her by England Japan, torn within her feudal shell by capitalist contradictions, stands on the verge of the profoundest revolutionary crisis which is even now, despite a favorable international situation, paralyzing her flight into the imperialist skies.

And so, there remain only two genuine world powers: Great Britain and the United States.

English imperialism has rid itself of the Asiatic rivalry of Czarism and of the terrible German competition. British naval might has reached its zenith. Great Britain encircles continents with a chain of subject peoples. Having laid violent hands upon Finland, Esthonia and Latvia, she is depriving Sweden and Norway of their last vestiges of independence and is transforming the Baltic Sea into one of Britain’s bays. She faces no opposition in the North Sea. By means of the Cape Colony, Egypt, India, Persia, Afghanistan, she has transformed the Indian Ocean into a British sea. Ruling the oceans, England controls the continents. Her role as a world power is delimited only by the American Dollar Republic and by – the Russian Soviet Republic.

The World War has completely dislodged the United States from its continental conservatism (“isolationism”). The program of an ascending national capitalism – “America for the Americans” (the Monroe Doctrine [2]) ” has been supplanted by the program of imperialism: “The Whole World for the Americans.” After exploiting the war commercially-industrially and through stock market speculation; after coining European blood into neutral profits, America went on to intervene in the war, played the decisive role in bringing about Germany’s debacle, and has poked its fingers into all the questions of European and world politics.

Under the “League of Nations” flag, the United States made an attempt to extend to the other side of the ocean its experience with a federated unification of large, multi-national masses – an attempt to chain to its chariot of gold, the peoples of Europe and other parts of the world, and bring them under Washington’s rule. In essence the League of Nations was intended to be a world monopoly corporation, “Yankee and Co.”

The President of the United States, the great prophet of platitudes, has descended from Mount Sinai in order to conquer Europe, 14 Points in hand. Stockbrokers, cabinet members and businessmen never deceived themselves for a moment about the meaning of this new revelation. But by way of compensation the European “Socialists,” with doses of Kautskyan brew, have attained a condition of religious ecstasy and accompanied Wilson’s sacred ark, dancing like King David.

When the time came to pass to practical questions, it became clear to the American prophet that despite the dollar’s excellent foreign exchange rate, the first place on all sea lanes, which connect and divide the nations, continued as heretofore to belong to Great Britain, for she possesses a more powerful navy, longer transoceanic cables and a far older experience in world pillage. Moreover, on his travels Wilson encountered the Soviet Republic and Communism. The offended American Messiah renounced the League of Nations, which England had converted into one of her diplomatic chancelleries, and turned his back upon Europe.

It would, however, be childish to assume that American imperialism, beaten back by England during its first offensive, will withdraw into the shell of the Monroe Doctrine. No, by continuing to subordinate the Western Hemisphere to itself more and more violently, by transforming the countries of Central and South America into its colonies, the United States, through its two ruling parties – the Democrats and the Republicans – is preparing to create, as a counterweight to the English League of Nations, a league of its own, i.e., a league with North America as the center of the world system. To begin the job properly, the United States intends during the next three to five years to make its navy more powerful than England’s. Therewith imperialist England is confronted with the question: “To be or not to be?” The ferocious rivalry of these two giants in the field of naval construction is accompanied by a no less ferociou struggle over oil. France – who had reckoned on playing the role of arbiter between England and the United States, but found herself drawn instead into the British orbit as a second-class satellite – discerns in the League of Nations an intolerable yoke and is seeking a way out by inflaming the antagonisms between England and the United States.

These are the most powerful forces working toward and preparing a new world conflict.

The program of liberation of small nations, advanced during the war, has led to the complete ruination and enslavement of the Balkan peoples, victors and vanquished alike, and to the Balkanization of a large part of Europe. Their imperialist interests have impelled the conquerors onto the road of carving out isolated, small national states from the territories of the defeated great powers. There is not even a semblance here of the so-called national principle: imperialism consists of overcoming national frameworks, even those of the major states. The new and tiny bourgeois states are only by-products of imperialism. In order to obtain temporary points of support imperialism creates a chain of small states, some openly oppressed, others officially protected while really remaining vassal states – Austria, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Bohemia [3], Finland, Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Georgia, and so on. Dominating over them with the aid of banks, railways, and coal monopolies, imperialism condemns them to intolerable economic and national hardships, to endless friction and bloody collisions.

What a savage irony of history is there in the facts that the restoration of Poland – which was part of the program of revolutionary democracy and which led to the first manifestations of the international proletariat – has been achieved by imperialism with the object of counteracting the revolution; and that “democratic” Poland, whose warrior-pioneers died on all of Europe’s barricades, is today playing the role of a foul and bloody tool in the thievish hands of Anglo-French gangsters – against the first workers’ republic in the world!

Alongside Poland stands “democratic” Czechoslovakia, selling herself to French capitalism, supplying White Guard detachments against Soviet Russia and Soviet Hungary.

The heroic attempt of the Hungarian proletariat to break out of Central Europe’s state and economic chaos onto the road of a Soviet Federation – the only road of salvation – was strangled by the combined forces of capitalist reaction at a time when the proletariat of the strongest states of Europe, deceived by its parties, proved incapable as yet of fulfilling its duty both toward Socialist Hungary and toward itself.

The Soviet government in Budapest was overthrown with the collaboration of the social-traitors who, in their turn, after maintaining themselves in power for three and a half days, were cast aside by the unbridled counter-revolutionary scum whose bloody crimes surpassed those of Kolchak, Denikin [4], Wrangel [5] and other agents of the Entente. But even though temporarily crushed, Soviet Hungary [6] is like a beacon light to all the toilers of Central Europe.

The Turkish people refuse to submit to the ignominious peace terms concocted for them by London despots. In order to enforce these terms, England has armed and incited Greece against Turkey. [7] Thus the Balkan peninsula and Asia Minor, Turks and Greeks alike, are condemned to utter devastation and mutual destruction.

In the struggle between the Entente and Turkey, Armenia has played the same programmatic role as Belgium did in the struggle against Germany; as Serbia in the struggle against Austria-Hungary. After the creation of Armenia – lacking any frontiers and without any possibility of remaining alive – Wilson spurned the Armenian mandate proffered him by the League of Nations: Armenia’s soil abounds neither in oil nor platinum. “Emancipated” Armenia is more defenseless today than ever before.

Virtually each one of the newly created “national” states has an irredenta of its own, i.e., its own internal national ulcer.

At the same time, the national struggle within the dominions of the victor countries has reached the peak of intensity. The English bourgeoisie, which seeks to be guardian over the peoples in the four corners of the world, is incapable of solving the Irish question under its very nose.

Even more grave is the national question in the colonies. Egypt, India, Persia are convulsed by insurrections. From the advanced proletarians of Europe and America the colonial toilers are acquiring the slogan: Soviet Federation.

Official, governmental, national, civilized, bourgeois Europe – as it has issued from the war and the Versailles Peace – resembles an insane asylum. Artificially split-up little states, whose economy is choking to death within their borders, snarl at one another, and wage wars over harbors, provinces and insignificant towns. They seek the protection of larger states, whose antagonisms are likewise increasing day by day. Italy stands hostilely opposed to France and is inclined to support Germany against France, the moment Germany is able to raise her head again. France is eaten by envy of England and in order to collect her dividends is ready to set Europe on fire again from all its four corners. England, with the help of France, keeps Europe in a condition of chaotic impotence, thus untying her own hands for world operations aimed against the United States. The United States allows Japan to become mired in Eastern Siberia in order meanwhile to secure by the year 1925 its naval preponderance over Great Britain – provided, that is, Britain doesn’t decide to measure forces before then.

In harmony with this picture of world relations Marshal Foch, military oracle of the French bourgeoisie, has issued a warning that the next war will begin where the last one left off, namely, with airplanes and tanks, with automatic arms and machine guns instead of hand weapons, with grenades instead of bayonets.

Workers and peasants of Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australia! You have suffered ten million dead, twenty million wounded and crippled. Today you at least know what you have gained at this price!


Meanwhile the impoverishment of mankind proceeds apace.

Through its mechanisms the war has destroyed those world economic ties whose development once constituted one of the most important conquests of capitalism. Since the year 1914 England, France and Italy have been cut off from Central Europe and the Near East; since the year 1917 – from Russia.

A few war years destroyed what it took a whole number of generations to create; human labor, expended even to this end, was reduced to a minimum. Throughout these years wherever it was necessary to process existing supplies of raw material into the shape of finished goods, labor was employed primarily to produce the means and tools of destruction.

In those basic branches of economy where mankind enters directly into a struggle against nature’s niggardliness and inertia, in extracting fuel and raw materials from the bowels of the earth, production has steadily waned. The victory of the Entente and the Versailles Peace have not halted the process of economic ruination and decay, but have only altered its paths and forms. The blockade of Soviet Russia and the artificial incitement of civil war on her fertile borderlands have caused and continue to cause incalculable harm to the welfare of all mankind. With a minimum of technical aid, Russia, thanks to her Soviet forms of economy, could supply Europe – and the Communist International attests to this before the entire world – with double and triple the quantity of foodstuffs and raw materials that Czarist Russia used to supply. Instead of this, Anglo-French imperialism has compelled the Toilers’ Republic to devote all its forces to self-defense. In order to deprive the Russian workers of fuel, England has kept her clutches on Baku, whence she has been able to export for her own use only an insignificant portion of the oil output. The rich Donetz coal basin has been periodically laid waste by White Guard bands of the Entente. French engineers and sappers have labored not little over the destruction of Russian bridges and railways. Japan is right now pillaging and devastating Eastern Siberia.

German technology and the high productivity of German labor, these most important factors in the regeneration of world economy, are being even more paralyzed after the Versailles Peace than was the case in wartime. The Entente is faced with an insolvable contradiction. In order to exact payment, one must provide the possibility of work. In order to make work possible one must make it possible to live. And giving crushed, dismembered, exhausted Germany the possibility to live means – to make it possible for her to resist. Fear of Germany’s revenge dictates the policy of Foch: a policy of ever tightening the military vise to prevent Germany’s regeneration.

Everywhere there is scarcity; everywhere there is need. Not only Germany’s trade balance but also that of France and England is decidedly on the deficit side. The French national debt has grown to 300 billion francs, of which, according to the reactionary French Senator Gaudin de Villaine, two-thirds accrues from embezzlements, thefts and general chaos.

The work of restoring the war-ruined areas accomplished in France is a mere drop in this ocean of devastation. Lack of fuel, lack of raw materials and lack of labor forces create insurmountable obstacles.

France needs gold; she needs coal. With his finger pointed at the countless graves of the war cemeteries, the French bourgeois demands his dividends. Germany must pay! After all, Marshal Foch still has enough black-skinned regiments to occupy German cities. Russia must pay! To inoculate the Russian people with this idea, the French government is expending for the devastation of Russia billions originally collected for the regeneration of France.

The international financial agreement, intended to lighten France’s tax burden through a more or less complete annulment of war debts, has not been reached: the United States shows no signs whatever of a desire to make Europe a gift of ten billion dollars.

The issuance of paper money assumes ever greater proportions. While in Soviet Russia the growth of paper money and its depreciation, side by side with the simultaneous development of state-ized economy, its planned distribution of necessities and its ever-expanding payment of wages in kind, signify only one of the results of the withering away of commodity-money economy; in capitalist countries the growing mass of paper money signifies the deepening of economic chaos and an inevitable crash.

The conferences of the Entente travel from one locality to the next; they seek inspiration in all of Europe’s vacation resorts. All hands are outstretched, demanding reimbursement in proportion to the number of men killed in the war. This traveling Stock Exchange of Death, which every two weeks decides anew whether France is to receive 50 or 55 percent of German indemnities, which Germany cannot possibly pay, is the crowning achievement of the oftproclaimed “organization of Europe.”

Capitalism has degenerated in the course of the war. The systematic extraction of surplus value from the process of production – the foundation of profit economy – seems far too boresome an occupation to Messrs. Bourgeois who have become accustomed to double and decuple their capital within a couple of days by means of speculation, and on the basis of international robbery.

The bourgeois has shed certain prejudices which used to hamper him, and has acquired certain habits which he did not formerly possess. The war has inured him to subjecting a whole number of countries to a hunger-blockade, to bombarding from the air and setting fire to cities and villages, expediently spreading the bacilli of cholera, carrying dynamite in diplomatic pouches, counterfeiting his opponent’s currency; he has become accustomed to bribery, espionage and smuggling on a hitherto unequaled scale. The usages of war have been taken over, after the conclusion of peace, as the usages of commerce. The chief commercial operations are fused nowadays with the functions of the state, which steps to the fore as a world robber gang equipped with all the implements of violence.

The narrower the world’s productive basis, all the more savage and more wasteful the methods of appropriation [of surplus value].

Rob! This is the last word of capitalist policy that has come to supplant the policies of free trade and protectionism. The raid of the Rumanian gangsters upon Hungary, whence they carried off locomotives and finger-rings, is a fitting symbol of the economic philosophy of Lloyd George and Millerand.

In its domestic economic policy the bourgeoisie scurries to and fro between the program of more extensive nationalization, regulations and controls on the one hand, and, on the other, protests against the state intervention which had grown so during the war. The French parliament is busy trying to square the circle, namely, creating a “unified command” for the republic’s railroad network without doing damage to the private capitalist interests of the railway corporations. At the same time, the capitalist press of France is conducting a vicious campaign against “étatism[1*] which tends to hamper private initiative. The American railways, disorganized by the state during the war, have fallen into an even worse condition with the removal of state control. Meanwhile, the Republican Party has adopted a plank in its platform, promising to keep economic life free from arbitrary government intervention.

That old watchdog of capitalism, Samuel Gompers [8], head of the American Federation of Labor, is conducting a campaign against the nationalization of railroads which is being advocated in America, in France and other countries as a panacea by the simpletons and charlatans of reformism. As a matter of fact, the sporadic violent intrusions of the state into the economy only serves to compete with the pernicious activity of speculators in increasing the chaos of capitalist economy during its epoch of decline. A transfer of the principal branches of industry and transport from the hands of individual trusts into the hands of the “nation,” i.e., the bourgeois state, that is, into the hands of the most powerful and predatory capitalist trust, signifies not the elimination of the evil but only its amplification.

The fall of prices and the rise of the rate of exchange are merely superficial and temporary phenomena, occurring against the background of unchecked ruination. The fluctuation of prices does not alter the basic facts: viz., the shortage of raw materials and the decline in the productivity of labor.

After undergoing the frightful hardships of war, the laboring masses are incapable of working with the same intensity under the same conditions. The destruction within a few hours of values it had taken years to create, the obscene dance of the billions engaged in by the financial clique which keeps rising higher and higher on heaps of bones and ruins– these object lessons of history are hardly helpful in maintaining within the working class the automatic discipline inherent in wage labor. Bourgeois economists and publicists speak of a “wave of laziness,” which, according to them, is sweeping over Europe and undermining its economic future. The administrators seek to mend matters by granting privileges to the topmost layers of the working class. In vain! In order to revive and further develop its productivity of labor it is necessary to give the to improve its own welfare and raise its level of education, without again subjecting it to the danger of mutual extermination. It can receive this assurance only from the social revolution.

The rising cost of living is the mightiest factor of revolutionary ferment in all countries. The bourgeoisie of France, Italy, Germany and other states is endeavoring by means of relief payments to ameliorate the destitution caused by high prices, and to check the growth of the strike movement. To recompense the agricultural classes for a part of their expenditure of labor power, the state, already deeply in debt, engages in shady speculation; it steals from itself in order to defer the hour of settlement. Even if certain categories of workers now enjoy higher living standards than they did before the war, this fact does not in any way tally with the actual economic condition of capitalist countries. These ephemeral results. are obtained by borrowing fraudulently from the future, which, when it finally arrives, will bring with it catastrophic destitution and calamities.

But what about the United States? “America is the hope of humanity!” Through the lips of Millerand, the French bourgeois repeats this phrase of Turgot [9] in the hope of having his own debts remitted, although he himself never remits anyone’s debt. But the United States is incapable of leading Europe out of its economic blind alley. During the last six years, American reserves of raw material have been depleted. The adaptation of American capitalism to the exigencies of the World War has resulted in a narrowing of its industrial foundation. European immigration has stopped. A wave of emigration has deprived American industry of many hundreds of thousands of Germans, Italians, Poles, Serbs, Czechs, who were drawn to Europe either by war mobilization or by the mirages of a newly acquired fatherland. Shortages of raw material and labor forces hang over the trans-Atlantic republic and are engendering a profound economic crisis; and as a result, the American proletariat is entering upon a new revolutionary phase of struggle America is becoming rapidly Europeanized.

Nor have the neutral countries escaped the consequences of war and blockade; like liquid in connected vessels, the economy of interconnected capitalist states, both large and small, both belligerents and neutrals, both victors and vanquished, is tending toward one and the same level – that of poverty, starvation and extinction Switzerland lives trom hand to mouth and every unexpected event threatens to disrupt her equilibrium. In Scandinavia the abundant influx of gold does not solve the food problem; coal must be obtained from England in dribbles, begging hat in hand. Despite the famine in Europe the fishing industry is living through an unprecedented crisis in Norway. Spain, from where France has pumped men, horses and foodstuffs, is unable to emerge from a grave food scarcity which brings in its train stormy strikes and street demonstrations of the starving masses.

The bourgeoisie firmly relies upon the countryside. Bourgeois economists assert that the welfare of the peasantry has improved extraordinarily. This is. an illusion. It is true that the peasants who bring their produce to the market have prospered more or less in all countries during the war. They sold their products at high prices and used cheap money to pay off debts contracted when money was dear. For them this is an obvious advantage. But their economy has become disorganized and depleted during the war. They are in need of manufactured goods, but prices for these have risen in proportion to the declining value of money. The demands of the state budget have become so monstrous that they threaten to devour the peasant with all his land and products. Thus after a period of temporary improvement, the condition of the small peasantry is becoming more and more intolerable. Their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the war will continually increase; and in the guise of the regular army, the peasantry has not a few unpleasant surprises in store for the bourgeoisie.

The economic restoration of Europe, about which its statesmen talk so much, is a lie. Europe is being ruined and the whole world along with it.

On capitalist foundations there is no salvation. The policy of imperialism does not lead to the abolition of want but to its aggravation owing to the predatory waste of existing reserves.

The question of fuel and raw material is an international question which can be solved only on the basis of a planned, collectivist, socialist production.

It is necessary to cancel the state debts. It is necessary to emancipate labor and its products from the monstrous tribute extorted by the world plutocracy. It is necessary to overthrow this plutocracy. It is necessary to remove the barriers which tend to atomize world economy. The Supreme Economic Council of the Entente imperialists must be replaced by the Supreme Economic Soviet of the world proletariat, to effect the centralized exploitation of all the economic resources of mankind.

It is necessary to destroy imperialism in order to give mankind an opportunity to live.


The entire energy of the propertied classes is concentrated upon two questions: to maintain themselves in power in the international struggle and to prevent the proletariat from becoming the master of the country. In conformity with this, the former political groupings of the bourgeoisie have lost their power. Not only in Russia, where the banner of the Cadet Party [10] became at the decisive stage of struggle the banner of all the property owners against the workers’ and peasants’ revolution, but even in countries with an older and deeper-rooted political culture, the former programs which used to separate diverse layers of the bourgeoisie have disappeared, almost without a trace, prior to the open outbreak of the proletarian revolution.

Lloyd George steps forward as the spokesman for the amalgamation of the Tories, Unionists [11] and Liberals for a joint struggle against the approaching rule of labor. This hoary demagogue singles out the saintly church as the central power station whose current equally feeds all the parties of the propertied classes.

In France the epoch of anti-clericalism, so noisy only a brief while ago, seems like a sepulchral ghost. The Radicals, Royalists and Catholics are now constituted in a bloc of “national law and order” against the proletariat that is lifting its head. Ready to extend its hand to every reactionary force, the French government supports the Black-Hundred gangster Wrangel and reestablishes diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

Giolitti [12], confirmed champion of neutrality and Germanophile, has taken the helm of the Italian government as the joint leader of interventiori.ists, neutralists, clericals and Mazziniists. [13] He is ready to tack and veer on the subordinate questions of domestic and foreign policy in order all the more ruthlessly to repel the offensive of the revolutionary proletarians of city and country. Giolitti’s government rightfully considers itself the last serious stake of the Italian bourgeoisie.

The policy of all the German governments and government parties since Hohenzollern’s downfall has been to find in concert with the Entente ruling classes a common ground of hatred of Bolshevism, that is, of the proletarian revolution.

While the Anglo-French Shylock is tightening more and more savagely the noose around the neck of the German people, the German bourgeoisie, regardless of party affiliations, entreats its enemy to loosen the noose just enough to enable it to strangle the vanguard of the German proletariat with its own hands. This is the gist of the periodic conferences and agreements on disarmament and the delivery of war material.

In America the line of demarcation between the Republicans and the Democrats has been completely erased. These two powerful political organizations of the exploiters, adapted to the hitherto narrow circle of American relations, revealed their total hollowness the instant the American bourgeoisie entered the arena of world plunder.

Never before have the intrigues of individual leaders and cliques – in the opposition and in the Ministries alike – been marked by such open cynicism as now. But at the same time all of the leaders, cliques and parties of the world bourgeoisie are building a united front against the revolutionary proletariat.

Whilst the Social-Democratic blockheads persist in counterposing the “peaceable” road of democracy to the violent road of dictatorship, the last vestiges of democracy are being trampled underfoot and destroyed in every state throughout the world.

Since the war, during which the federal electoral bodies played the part of impotent but noisy patriotic stooges for their respective ruling imperialist cliques, the parliaments have fallen into a state of complete prostration. All the important issues are now decided outside the parliaments. Nothing is changed in this respect by the window-dressing display of enlarged parliamentary prerogatives, so solemnly proclaimed by the imperialist mountebanks of Italy and other countries. The real masters of the situation and the rulers of state destiny are – Lord Rothschild and Lord Weir [14], Morgan and Rockefeller, Schneider and Loucheur [15], Hugo Stinnes and Felix Deutsch [16], Rizello and Agnelli [17] – these gold, coal, oil, and metal kings – who operate behind the scenes and who send their second-rank lieutenants into parliaments – to carry out their instructions.

The French parliament – more discredited than any other by its rhetoric of falsehood, cynicism and prostitution, and whose chief amusement lies in the procedure of thrice reading the most insignificant legislative acts – this parliament suddenly learns that the four billions appropriated by it for the restoration of the devastated regions of France had been expended by Clemenceau for entirely different purposes, in particular for the further devastation of Russian regions.

The overwhelming majority of members of the supposedly all-powerful English parliament are scarcely more informed concerning the actual intentions of Lloyd George and Lord Curzon [18] with regard to Soviet Russia, or even France, than are the withered old women in the villages of Bengal.

In the United States, Congress is a docile or disgruntled chorus for the President, who is himself a creature of the electoral machine, which is in its turn the political apparatus of the trusts – more so since the war than ever before.

Germany’s belated parliamentarianism, an abortion of the bourgeois revolution, which is itself an abortion of history, suffers in its infancy from every disease peculiar to curs in their senility. “The most-democratic-in-the-world” Reichstag of Ebert’s republic is impotent, not only before the Marshal’s baton of Foch but even before the stock market manipulations of its own Stinneses, let alone the military plots of its officer clique. German parliamentary democracy is nothing but a void between two dictatorships.

The very composition of the bourgeoisie has undergone profound modifications in the course of the war. Against the background of universal impoverishment throughout the world, the concentration of capital has made a sudden and colossal leap forward. Firms hitherto standing in the shadows have stepped to the forefront. Solidity, stability, tendency toward “reasonable” compromises, observance of a certain decorum both in exploitation and in the utilization of its fruits – all this has been washed away by the torrents of the imperialist flood.

To the foreground have stepped the newly rich: war contractors, shoddy profiteers, upstarts, international adventurers, smugglers, refugees from justice bedecked with diamonds, every species of unbridled scum greedy for luxury and capable of any bestiality against the proletarian revolution from which they can expect nothing but the hangman’s noose. The existing system stands before the masses in all its nakedness as the rule of plutocracy. In America, in France, in England, indulgence in postwar luxury has assumed a maniacal character. Paris, jammed with international patriotic parasites, resembles, as admitted by Le Temps [19], Babylon on the eve of its destruction.

Politics, courts, the press, the arts and the church fall in line with this bourgeoisie. All restraint has been thrown to the winds. Wilson, Clemenceau, Millerand, Lloyd George and Churchill [20] do not shrink from the most brazen deceit and the biggest lie and when caught red-handed they calmly go on to new criminal feats. The classical rules of political duplicity as expounded by old Machiavelli [21] become innocent aphorisms of a provincial simpleton in comparison with those principles which guide bourgeois statesmen today. The law courts, which formerly concealed their bourgeois essence under democratic finery, have now openly become the organs of class brutality and counter-revolutionary provocation. The judges of the Third Republic have, without blinking an eye, acquitted the murderer of Jaurès. The courts of Germany, which has proclaimed itself a socialist republic, give encouragement to the murderers of Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and many other martyrs of the proletariat. The juridical tribunals of bourgeois democracies have become the organs for the solemn legalization of all the crimes of the White Terror.

The bourgeois press has openly engraved the stamp of bribery, like a trade mark, on its forehead. The leading newspapers of the world bourgeoisie are monstrous factories of falsehood, libel and spiritual poison.

The moods of the bourgeoisie fluctuate as nervously as the prices on its market. In the initial months following the termination of the war, the international bourgeoisie, especially the French, was shaken by chills and fever from the fear of oncoming Communism. It gauged the degree of its imminent peril by the enormity of the bloody crimes it had committed. But it has been able to withstand the first onslaught. The Socialist parties and the trade unions of the Second International, bound by chains of common guilt to the bourgeoisie, have rendered it their final service by absorbing the first wrathful blow of the toilers. At the price of the complete collapse of the Second International the bourgeoisie has bought a respite. The counter-revolutionary elections to parliament engineered by Clemenceau, a few months of unstable equilibrium, and the failure of the May strike – these sufficed to imbue the French bourgeoisie with confidence in the security of its regime. Its class arrogance has risen to the same heights today as did its fears of yesterday.

Threats have become the bourgeoisie’s sole means of persuasion. The bourgeoisie has no faith in words, it demands deeds: arrests, dispersals (of demonstrations), confiscations, firing squads. Striving to impress the bourgeoisie, bourgeois ministers and parliamentarians pose as men of steel. Lloyd George drily counsels the German ministers to shoot their own Communards, following the example of France in 1871. Any third-rank functionary can bank on tumultuous plaudits in the Chamber of Deputies so long as he concludes his inane report with a few threats addressed to the workers.

While the official state apparatus is being more and more openly transformed into an organization for the sanguinary suppression of the toilers, alongside it, and under its auspices and at its disposal, various private counter-revolutionary organizations are being formed – for breaking strikes by force, for acts of provocation, for staging frame-up trials, wrecking revolutionary organizations, raiding and seizing Communist institutions, organizing pogroms and incendiarism, assassinating revolutionary leaders and other similar measures devoted to the defense of private property and democracy.

Younger sons of landlords and of the big bourgeoisie, petty bourgeois who have lost their bearings, and all other declassed elements, among whom the bourgeois-noble émigrés from Soviet Russia occupy the most prominent place, form an inexhaustible reservoir for the guerrilla detachments of the counter-revolution. At their head stands the corps of officers who have gone through the school of the imperialist slaughter.

Some 20,000 professional officers of the Hohenzollern army have formed themselves – especially after the Kapp-Luettwitz putsch [22] – into a strong counter-revolutionary nucleus which the German democracy is powerless to dissolve, and which can be crushed only by the sledge-hammer of the proletarian dictatorship. This centralized organization of the old regime terrorists is supplemented by the White Guard guerrilla detachments organized on the Junker estates.

In the United States organizations like the “National Security League,” the “Loyal American League” and other “Knights of Liberty” constitute the storm troops of capitalism, at the extreme wings of which operate the ordinary murder gangs in the person of private detective agencies. In France the Ligue Civique represents a socially-select organization of strikebreakers, while the reformist Confederation of Labor has been outlawed.

The officers’ Maffia of White Hungary, which exists clandestinely alongside of the government of counter-revolutionary hangmen supported by England, has given the world proletariat a sample of that civilization and humanitarianism which Wilson and Lloyd George advocate as against the Soviet power and revolutionary violence.

The “democratic” governments of Finland and Georgia, Latvia and Esthonia, are striving might and main to emulate this Hungarian model of perfection.

In Barcelona there is an underground gang of assassins, operating under police orders. And so it goes, and so it is everywhere.

Even in a defeated and ruined country like Bulgaria, the officers, left without jobs, are uniting into secret societies, biding the first opportunity to demonstrate their patriotism upon the backs and bones of Bulgarian workers.

The program of smoothing over contradictions, the program of class collaboration, parliamentary reforms, gradual socialization and national unity appears like a grim joke in the face of the bourgeois regime as it has emerged from the World War.

The bourgeoisie has entirely abandoned the idea of reconciling the proletariat by means of reform. It corrupts an insignificant labor aristocracy with a few sops and keeps the great masses in subjection by blood and iron.

There is not a single serious issue today which is decided by ballot. Of democracy nothing remains save memories in the skulls of reformists. The entire state organization is reverting more and more to its primordial form, i.e., detachments of armed men. Instead of counting ballots, the bourgeoisie is busy counting up bayonets, machine guns and cannons which will be at its disposal at the moment when the question of power and property forms is posed pointblank for decision.

There is room for neither collaboration nor mediation. To save ourselves we must overthrow the bourgeoisie. This can be achieved only by the rising of the proletariat.

Part 2

Translator’s Note

1*. Étatism – a word coined in France at the start of state intervention. To convey the meaning in English it is likewise necessary to coin a word in the same way, i.e., state-ization, state-ize. – Trans.]


1. Syria, which had been a French protectorate, became in effect a French colony after the Versailles Treaty.

2. Monroe Doctrine – proclaimed December 2, 1823, by President Monroe; recognized foreign sovereignty only in those American colonies securely held by European powers, pledged support of the United States to all colonies fighting for independence, and banned future American colonization by any European power. Several Spanish-American colonies were in revolt. Russia, coveting territory in the northwest, proposed joint European action against the uprisings. But England, having established a lucrative trade in the Spanish colonies after Madrid’s monopoly was broken, refused aid to Spain and suggested Anglo-American cooperation in the controversy. Thus, backed by the British fleet, the then relatively weak United States could proclaim and enforce the Monroe Doctrine. By 1895, the United States had grown so powerful that President Cleveland, under threat of war, could force England to arbitrate a boundary dispute between British Guiana and Venezuela. Yankee imperialism had become supreme in the Western Hemisphere.

3. The reference here is to Czechoslovakia.

4. Denikin – a prominent Czarist general who became one of the leaders of the counter-revolution during the years of the Civil War. In the autumn of 1919 Denikin’s troops almost reached Tula. After the annihilation of the Whites Denikin departed for Europe to write his memoirs.

5. Wrangel came to the fore during the Russian Civil War. After Denikin’s defeat, Wrangel – as a “more liberal” general – was elected by the Whites to the post of commander-in-chief. For almost a year Wrangel succeeded in remaining in Crimea. It was only in the autumn of 1920 that the heroic offensive of the Red Army liquidated Wrangel’s rule in Crimea and he was compelled to flee with the remnants of his army to Turkey and the Balkans.

6. Soviet Hungary was proclaimed March 21, 1919, when the bourgeois government of Karolyi voluntarily ceded power to the Soviets. On August 1, 1919, this workers’ government was overthrown by the intervention of the White Armies of the Little Entente. The power of the Soviets was replaced by the savage dictatorship of Admiral Horthy which maintained itself throughout the period between the two world wars.

7. In order to smash Turkey and establish her undisputed dominion over the Near East, the English imperialists embroiled their vassal state, Greece, in a war with Turkey. The struggle lasted from 1921 to the autumn of 1922. Supported by Soviet Russia and by France, who feared the complete entrenchment of English rule in Asia Minor, Turkey in the end succeeded completely in defeating the Greek army.

8. Samuel Gompers – ultra-conservative leader of the AFL bureaucracy who considered even the yellow Amsterdam Trade Union International as too “red.” Gompers was the bitterest enemy of the revolutionary movement, and invariably aided the government and the employers in fighting against it.

9. Turgot – French nobleman, financier and minister of Louis XVI. He tried to resolve the contradiction between the reign of absolute monarchy and the needs of capitalist development by making some concessions to the bourgeoisie. The French autocracy in this epoch was hopelessly in debt.

10. Cadet Party, Cadets – the party of the Russian bourgeoisie, Constitutional Democrats. The term “Cadets” comes from the Russian letters in this party’s name.

11. “Unionists” – an English political grouping, headed by Churchill and others, whose chief plank was the unification of the Tories and Liberals. [The basis for this note is questionable. In this period “Unionists” were those political forces opposed to Home Rule for Ireland and committed to the preservation of the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, i.e. the then current constitutional order. The full name of the modern British Conservative Party is still “The Conservative and Unionist Party”. – TIA]

12. Giolitti – hoary leader of the Italian bourgeoisie who specialized in using reformists to avert the revolution following the First World War. He served as premier several times. After Mussolini’s assumption of power, he passed into “opposition.” Giolitti died before the Italian bourgeoisie could utilize him again after Mussolini’s downfall, as it has one of his colleagues, Bonomi.

13. Mazzini-ists – followers of Mazzini, the leader of the Italian national revolutionary movement of unification during the first part of the nineteenth century. Mazzini’s movement was aimed primarily against reactionary Austria.

14. Rothschild, Weir & Co. was at the time one of the largest banking firms in England.

15. Schneider – French industrialist, owner of the largest munition plants and other enterprises.

Loucheur – another big French capitalist who often served as Minister of Finance in various cabinets.

16. Hugo Stinnes – the uncrowned king of post-Versailles Germany. During that period he controlled a vast industrial empire and the entire economic life of the country. His name became synonymous with the tendency of a single group to dominate a country’s industry (“Stinnezation”).

Felix Deutsch – large German industrialist.

17. Rizello and Agnelli – large Italian industrialists and bankers. They financed Mussolini and his Black Shirts.

18. Lord Curzon – English Tory who specialized in foreign policy. In the pre-1914 days he served as Viceroy of India; in the ’twenties as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the latter post he distinguished himself, together with his colleague Churchill, as the avowed and rabid enemy of Soviet Russia.

19. Le Temps (Paris Times) – organ of the French bourgeoisie, class sister of the London Times and the New York Times.

20. Winston Churchill – the most class-conscious representative of the English bourgeoisie, mortal enemy of the world working class. Churchill early displayed the greatest facility and flexibility in politics. From 1900 to 1906 he belonged to the Tory party and ran on the Tory ticket for parliament; from 1906 to 1922 he functioned as a member of the Liberal Party, and then resumed the Tory label. He held many cabinet posts. In 1910–11 he distinguished himself as Home Secretary (Minister of Internal Affairs) by calling out troops against the strikers in Liverpool and elsewhere. Churchill was Curzon’s predecessor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one of the chief inspirers of imperialist intervention in Russia after the October Revolution. He greatly admired Mussolini and just as thoroughly abominated Trotsky. His role as premier in the second imperialist world slaughter is a fitting climax to his lifetime career as watchdog of British imperialism.

21. Machiavelli, famous politician, diplomat, historian and writer of the early sixteenth century. He is recognized as the founder of political science. Marx considered his History of Florence a masterpiece. Machiavelli was a progressive and original thinker in his time. Organizer of the first popular militia and author of a treatise on war, he is credited with being the “first military thinker of modern Europe.” He advocated the unification of Italy. Machiavelli favored a republic, but the “ideal” regime in his days was the centralized absolute monarchy. In his books, The Prince and The Discourses, Machiavelli demonstrated that for the preservation of class rule, any and all means are employed and justified by the spokesmen of the ruling class. Ironically enough, his name has become associated with the use of demagogy, deceit and ruthlessness in politics and the methods he probed into – the methods now utilized by the imperialist politicians to preserve dying capitalism – are termed “Machiavellianism.”

22. Kapp-Lüttwitz putsch occurred in 1920 and was the first attempt of the German counter-revolution to liquidate the Weimar Republic and its “democracy” by armed force. Despite the passivity of the Ebert-Scheidemann government, this putsch was crushed by the elemental resistance of the workers. This putsch served to discredit both Scheidemann and Noske.

First 5 Years of the Comintern (Vol. 1) Index

History of the Communist International Section

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Last updated on: 19.1.2007