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Albert Gates

Stalin Announces the ‘Dissolution’ of the Communist International

He Long Ago Destroyed It
as an Instrument of Socialism!

(May 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 22, 31 May 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The announcement on May 22 by the Praesidium of the Executive Committee of the Communist International that it was proposing its dissolution to its affiliated sections came with the suddenness we have become accustomed to expect from Stalin’s Russia. The parties affiliated to the Comintern were not advised beforehand that its Praesidium had such a proposal under consideration. In a completely totalitarian manner, the proposal was given to the capitalist press and the “Communist” parties learned of it from this source. As was to be expected, those parties which continue to exist have declared their complete agreement with the Moscow action.

What is the significarice of this FORMAL action taken by the Communist International? Does it mean that the Comintern will actually dissolve? Does it mean the end of an international organization of socialism?

In order to answer these questions it is necessary to understand that with the advent of Stalinism, the Communist International ceased to be an organization devoted, to the task of fighting for the establishment of a world socialist society. With the degeneration of the Russian Revolution and the destruction of the workers’ state, Stalinist society has evolved a new type of state, a state of bureaucratic collectivism – the rule of a new class of bureaucrats owning and controlling the nationalized property.

Stalin’s Russia is a nationalist society; it is the enemy of socialism and any movement which seeks to establish the socialist society – the free order of the exploited peoples of the world. Under Stalin, the Communist International was made to conform to the. nationalist interests of Russia. Every situation which developed in other countries, promising to further the new world order of socialism, was brutally destroyed – not only by the forces of reaction and fascism, but by international Stalinism acting through its agents in the “Communist” parties of other countries, and through the GPU, which operates throughout the world.

Why the Comintern Was Formed

The Communist International was formed in March of 1919 in Moscow. The victory of the Russian workers in the Revolution of November 1917 made it possible to convene the representatives of the revolutionary socialist parties of the world and to form this once brilliant international of socialism. But its real origin lay in the ruins of the labor movement brought about by the chaos of the First World War. The men responsible for the convening of the 1919 Congress were Lenin and Trotsky and their international co-thinkers.

They regarded the victory of the Russian workers as only the first step in the triumph of world socialism. As Marxists, they knew that socialism could exist only as a world society, , and that the task of the Communist International was to gather the independent revolutionary socialist parties of the world into one united organization, to exchange ideas and experiences for the single purpose of advancing the international interests of the oppressed.

This concept was not based on the idea that the problems of the workers were the same in all countries. On the contrary, the leaders of the Communist International understood full well that the problems of the various parties were quite different and that their specific tactics would be different. What, then, would bind these parties in one international organization?

This bond was the recognition that the principal aim of the workers everywhere – that is, the establishment of the power of the workers as the first step toward socialism – was the same, that it was an international problem. Moreover, the concept of socialism as an international social order based on the cooperative relationship of the peoples of all countries made such a world organization necessary ...

This was not wishful thinking. It was the outgrowth of the conditions prevalent in capitalist society. Marxism pointed out that in an economic sense, capitalism was itself an international order. Modern capitalism is based upon world trade, a world division of labor, and the interdependence of nations. One of the main contradictions of this capitalist order is that, while it is international in character, it remains national in form. Thus the national capitalist states remain in competition with each other, reaching periodic stages of crisis, war, destruction, poverty and unemployment.

Because capitalism had outlived its usefulness, that is, its progressive function, socialism was on the order of the day. To realize socialism, an international organization of the revolutionary socialist movements was indispensable. This was the underlying purpose behind the organization of the Communist International of Lenin and Trotsky.

Thus, when the Praesidium of the Stalinist International declares the contrary, it lies. In this lie, it pays verbal allegiance to the idea of internationalism while it carries out in practice the reactionary doctrines of nationalism, a nationalism based on a new type of ruling class (the Stalinist bureaucracy) resting upon a new type of property (nationalized property). Listen to what the Comintern says about the reasons which prompted its action:

“But long before the war it had already become increasingly clear that to the extent that the internal as well as the international situation of the individual countries became more complicated, the solution of the problems of the labor movement of each individual country through the medium of some international center would meet insuperable obstacles.

“The deep difference in the historical roads of development of each country of the world; the diverse character and even the contradiction in their social orders; the difference in level and rate of their social and political development, and finally, the difference in the degree of consciousness and organization of the workers, conditioned also the various problems which face the working class of each individual country.

“The entire course of a century, as well as the events for the past quarter accumulated experiences of the Communist International, have convincingly proved that the organizational form for uniting the workers as chosen by the First Congress of the Communist International, and which corresponded to the needs of the initial period of the rebirth of the labor movement, more and more outlived itself in proportion to the growth of this movement and to the increasing complexity of problems in each country; and that this form even became a hindrance to the further strengthening of the national workers’ parties.”

The three paragraphs are filled with distortions. What it actually says is that the organization of the Communist International was a mistake! Reading it, one would believe that the Communist International was formed because it believed the conditions in all countries to be alike, that the rate of political development was the same internationally, and that the problems of the workers’ organizations everywhere were the same. This is an utter falsification.

World Situation – Then and Now

When the Communist International was formed it was also extremely difficult to maintain good relationships between the parties and the international because of the persecution of the movement and the objective situation in which the Soviet Russia of Lenin found itself. That, however, did not prevent the formation of the International and its functioning.

The outbreak of the present war did not prevent Stalin’s International from functioning. Witness how well the Communist Parties in Great Britain, France and the United States carried on a struggle against the war during the Hitler-Stalin pact. Communicating its decision to sabotage the Allies was found to be quite easy.

Recall the First World War. The Socialist International destroyed its basis for existence when the national parties supported their respective imperialist governments. The International could not meet, and it too experienced “difficulties,” but not even the Social Democratic misleaders of that body dared to “formally” dissolve it.

In its founding Congress, the Communist International clearly stipulated the reasons for its formation. It was based on world conditions not unlike the present. The “internal as well as the international situation of the individual countries” was “complicated,” and “the solution of the problems of the labor movement of each individual country through the medium of some international center ... (met) ... insuperable obstacles.”

At that time there also existed a “deep difference in the historical roads of development of each country of the world.” Their characters were “diverse” and even their social orders were “contradictory.” The whole Communist International understood that capitalism developed “unevenly,” that the degree of consciousness and organization of the workers in all countries were different, and that their problems were different.

Here is what Lenin had to say about the formation of the Communist International:

“The Third International was in reality created in 1918, after the protracted struggle with opportunism, and ‘social chauvinism,’ especially during the war, had resulted in the formation of a Communist Party in various countries. The formal recognition of the International dates from the first congress of its members held in Moscow in March 1919. The most prominent feature of the Third International, namely, its mission to carry out the principles of Marxism and to realize the ideals of socialism and the labor movement, manifested itself immediately in that this ‘third international association of working men’ has to a certain extent BECOME IDENTICAL WITH THE LEAGUE OF SOCIALISTIC ‘SOVIET’ REPUBLICS.

“The First International laid, the basis of the international struggle of the proletariat for socialism.

“The Second International marked a period of preparation, a period in which the soil was tilled with a view to the widest possible propagation of the movement in many of the countries....

“The importance of the Third Communist’ International in the world’s history is that it was the first to put into life the greatest of all Marx’s principles, the principle of summarizing the process of the development of socialist and the labor movement, and expressed in the words, the dictatorship of the proletariat” (the democratic workers’ state – Ed.).

As if in anticipation of the present decision of the Praesidium of the Comintern, Lenin added:

“Any Marxist, nay, anyone conversant with modern science, if asked whether he believed in the probability of a uniform, harmonious and perfectly-proportioned transition of various capitalist countries to the dictatorship of the proletariat, would undoubtedly answer that question in the negative. In the capitalist world,there had never been any room for uniformity, harmony and perfect proportions. Every country has brought into prominence now one, then another, feature or features of capitalism, and of the labor movement. The rate of development has been varied.”

In the early years of the Communist International, this was the prevailing theory. Difficulties of communication, objective difficulties of functioning, uneven development of capitalist countries, different tactics for different parties, varying rates in the growth and activities of the national parties, had nothing whatever to do with the necessity for the existence of the international organization of the revolutionary socialists of the world. It only stressed the nature of the problems which had to be overcome, and the general difficulty of ushering in the new society of genuine freedom and security for the whole of mankind.

Stalin’s Totalitarian Rule

But this Communist International died a long time ago. Only the formal structure and the name remained. For it truly became a Stalinist International, interested only in the preservation of the rule of Stalin’s bureaucratic regime in Russia. Its chief role has been to act as the shock troops of Russian diplomacy. The national parties enjoyed ho independence. Their policies were decided in Moscow; their leaderships were changed at will. The question Which interested Stalin and his cohorts was simply this: What service can these organizations render me? And thus the Communist International was completely subordinated to the interests of the new Russia of Stalin!

When it was first formed, the Communist International was a democratic body. Its statutes required that it meet at least once every two years, to examine its policies, to correct them if necessary, to adopt new ones, and in general to take an inventory of the condition of the world organization and to ELECT its international leadership. Between the years 1919 and 1922, four congresses were held. The Fifth Congress met in 1924. Under Stalin, however, the Sixth Congress met four years afterward in 1928, and the Seventh Congress, or the last held by the. Comintern, convened in 1935. Thus, in a period of almost nineteen years, the Communist International, under Stalin, met only twice!

The war has undoubtedly changed Stalin’s mind about how to use his international apparatus, in what form it may further be; employed. For his present purpose, the establishment of a closer working alliance with Great Britain and the United States, the formal existence of the Comintern seems to be cumbersome and expensive. Moreover, in the present campaign to make Stalin and his state acceptable to millions in both countries and to enhance the alliance which is being worked oat by these nations, the Comintern is a stumbling block. Thus, if it stands in the way of the national interests of the bureaucratic collectivist state in Russia, then there is nothing left to do but to dissolve it.

How? By the simple expedient of killing it at the top. The Praesidium, meeting in Moscow under the patronage of the Kremlin regime, needed only a signal from Stalin. It acted at once. The decision was made. The parties throughout the world are “freed” from their obligations and with their customary docility they accept this formal self-destruction.

Only a Formal Dissolution

Will these parties actually dissolve? This is very unlikely. They will in their “new form” continue as they have in the past to serve the best nationalist interests of Stalinist Russia. That is, the ONLY basis for their existence: as the international arm of the Stalin dictatorship.

When the Comintern says that it hopes the end of the war will make possible the reorganization of an international upon a new basis, it merely signifies that the present Stalinist organizations throughout the world will hold themselves in readiness for whatever order will come from Moscow. Thus the present “dissolution” is merely a subterfuge to improve the international position of Stalin in the war, and in preparation for a post-war period.

Nothing has fundamentally been changed by the action of the Comintern. One of the greatest menaces to the international working class remains organized Stalinism throughout the world, whether in a functioning international or in one FORMALLY, BUT NOT ACTUALLY, dissolved.

The future of the workers’ movement, the future of socialism, depends upon the quickest divorcement of the labor movement from the cancerous influence of international Stalinism – that enemy of the free society of world socialism.

The future lies in a reorganization of the international movement of the oppressed of the world, in the re-establishment of a true socialist international based on the teachings and the spirit of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, those valiant, fighters against oppression, exploitation, war and poverty.

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