The General Line: The Hitler- Stalin Pact
In Comintern affairs, the Hitler-Stalin pact clinched developments which for years had proceeded gradually and, partly, beneath the surface. It clinched, in the first place, that evolution towards the extreme right which had been the most dominant trend of the Popular Front period. Far from being, as is generally assumed, a complete and sudden break with the past, the Hitler- Stalin pact and its defence by the Comintern parties was the crowning event of a political development which had carried the communists from the position of allies of the left-wing socialists into an alliance with the right-wing socialists, then with the bourgeois liberals, then with the conservatives, then with the conservative autocracies, and was now finally leading them into an alliance with the Nazis. The inner consequence and coherence of that development is indeed surprising.
In close parallel with this evolution, the Comintern had also evolved as an instrument of Russian foreign policy. It had been nothing but such an instrument during its earliest days; but at that time the cause of communist Russia and the cause of world revolution were completely identified. Then the two had separated, Stalin's doctrine of 'Socialism in One Country', proclaimed in 1924, had expressly severed the ties between communism in Russia and communism abroad; and in Europe, all through the following decade, no relevant contact had existed between Russian foreign policy and the Comintern. Nor was it the dominant factor in the emergence of the Popular Front policy. But we have observed how, in the course of that policy, its importance gradually grew: first because it was necessary, after the end of the period of isolationism, to co-ordinate somehow a very active foreign policy with a very active Comintern policy; later because, in Spain, it