International Communism

International Communism

International Communism

International Communism

Excerpt

When the Communist international was founded in March 1919, its declared purpose was to lead the working classes of the world to immediate revolution on the model of Bolshevik Russia. When the post-war crisis receded two years later, no proletarian revolution had taken place in any industrial country; yet the new organisation with its doctrine and its discipline persisted. The split in the international socialist movement, which had arisen from the first world war and the impact of the Bolshevik revolution, had become permanent.

For in the interval, Comintern had made a lasting imprint on the ideas and organisational forms of the revolutionary wing of the labour movement. As the parties of the Second International grew both larger and more reformist during the pre-war period, revolutionary minorities had continued to exist. Some of these professed Marxist, some syndicalist beliefs; some worked inside, some outside the "reformist" organisations. But all of them combined a belief in the revolutionary mission of the working class with emphasis on the international character of that mission; and nearly all, blaming the "burocratic degeneration" of the socialist mass parties and trade unions for their reformist policies, believed that victory for their own revolutionary trend depended on restoring complete democracy in the inner life of the movement.

Because of this, the Bolsheviks with their faith in centralist discipline had been distrusted rather than respected by the pre-1914 revolutionary Left. Rosa Luxemburg in particular, who was widely accepted in these circles as an interpreter of Russian revolutionary problems, took a definitely Menshevik view of the role and organisation of the socialist party. It was only during the war that Lenin's group emerged as the crystallising centre for the revolutionary wing of the socialist internationalists, the so-called Zimmerwald Left; and only their victory . . .

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