Looking back it can be asserted with confidence that the voluntarist theory of revolution is wrong. The Comintern owed its early success in 1920 not to any power to bend things its own way, but to the post-war unrest which had not yet spent itself completely. It was its basic mistake not to regard this unrest as a passing phase. Actually, the later post-war years turned out to be a period of reaction, much in contrast to the two first decades of the twentieth century. And whatever the Comintern might do, it was dragged down with the decline of the spontaneous mass movement. In fact, Leninism itself, with its implicit contempt for the masses and its authoritarian bent, was one of the factors which had prepared the coming of that period of reaction. At first, its affinity to other movements of the same kind, soon to be known as Fascism, Nazism, etc., had been hidden by the powerful appeal it had exerted upon the Russian lower classes. But during the years of the civil war the 'Soviet' element of the communist règime, always more façade than reality, had been completely subordinated to the emergence of a totalitarian one-party dictatorship. Also, when, at the end of 1920, the civil war could be regarded as over, the communist règime in Russia was as much in quest of 'normalcy' and as tired of revolutionary upheaval as any part of the West.
The history of European communism during the twenties (as distinct from its history in Asia, where it was at times raised to a pinnacle owing to the action of profound spontaneous revolutionary forces), is therefore of small importance as an element of the general history of that decade. Not in a single country was communism able to influence national politics substantially. Leaving aside all details, European communism, during those years, declined rather than grew. It was mainly the experience of