International Communism and World Revolution: History & Methods

By Günther Nollau | Go to book overview
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I T will soon be a hundred years since the International Working Men's Association was founded at a big meeting in St Martin's Hall in London on 28 September 1864. Since then the short-lived First International, as it became known, has been succeeded by a Second and yet by a Third or Communist International which, in turn, was dissolved in 1943. Both the First and Second Internationals foundered, as so many other attempts at international co-operation have foundered, on the nationalist aspirations and interests of the units which composed them. The Third Communist International, founded by Lenin some time after the October revolution which put the Bolsheviks in power, differed from its predecessors in that it included a strong disciplined central organization. But if the earlier bodies failed because of excess of nationalism, Lenin's creature failed because of excess of centralism: what had been proclaimed at the outset as an association of equals soon became little more than a network of agencies dominated by Moscow, to whose policy interest the Communist parties throughout the world were firmly subordinated. Of internationalism there remained no trace. So solid was this control by Moscow that by 1943 it was possible for the Soviet Union to dissolve the Third International without in the slightest impairing its hold over the Communist parties of the world -- so long as Stalin was alive -- if exception be made for the momentous assertion of its independence by the Communist party of Yugoslavia in 1948. Indeed, the Third International as an organization had become a cipher long before its demise. The reality which survived it was the strictly controlled network of obedient agencies which Stalin had created, for the effective operation of which in the interests of Soviet foreign policy or intelligence work the organizational control of the Communist party in Moscow was fully adequate. In this sense, the demise of the Third International, like that of its two predecessors, was also in some measure due to an excess of nationalism.

The death of Stalin brought new problems. When once the dictator was gone and his reputation was shattered by the


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