Go Slow on Crimea
Why Ukraine Should Not Rush to Retake the Peninsula
A COMPREHENSIVE restatement of revolutionary creed issued from the Third or Communist International at the conclusion of its six-weeks Congress in Moscow last summer. This Congress, sixth in number since the Third International was organized by Lenin in 1919, was a meeting of particular significance. Over five hundred delegates were present, one hundred of them representing countries outside of Europe. The most important result was the formulation of a "Program of the Communist International," which was unanimously adopted at the closing session on September 1. This Program, a document of over twenty thousand words, is a complete exposition of Communist theory, practical aims and methods.[i] It was supplemented by a revolutionary appeal in the form of a Manifesto.[ii] Finally, an illuminating commentary on the Program was given by Bukharin, the President of the Third International and its principal theoretician, in a report to the Moscow Communist Center.[iii] The documents taken together constitute the new bible of world revolution.
The quotations below aim to reflect the spirit of the Program and cover its principal features, particularly those of practical tactics. Unless specifically attributed to the Manifesto or to Bukharin, all of them are from the Program. The following sentences from the Manifesto will serve to indicate the spirit of all the documents, besides revealing certain characteristics of the brand of Communism that is being preached from Moscow at the present time.
The Sixth Congress of the Communist International has adopted an International Program, equally binding on all of its sections. For the first time in the annals of the revolutionary labor movement the labor class receives into its hands a document whose provisions are law for millions of organized proletarians in all parts of the world, among all races and nations of the universe. . . . It is a guide in the struggle against their oppressors for millions of toilers -- white, yellow, or black -- under the tropics and in the remotest corners of the earth -- in factories and on plantations -- in mines and on railroads--in forests and desert steppes--wherever the class struggle unfolds. . . . It is a Program of Unity for the laboring class in its struggle against the bourgeoisie. It is the Program of the inevitable World Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
Basic to the whole construction of the Program is its world character. . . . The Communist International has spread its tentacles over all countries. . . . For different countries the Program may indicate different stages of the revolutionary process. . . . Different immediate aims may be established for colonies and for more advanced countries. . . . But they all march toward the same goal.
In a general way Bukharin conceives the international proletarian revolution as
a manifold and quite complicated process, being the general resultant of proletarian uprisings, of colonial revolts, of national wars of liberation. . . . We revolutionists fully understand that international imperialism cannot be demolished without involving a common revolutionary struggle of all races and of all continents. . . . Our greatest strength, the certainty of our final victory, lies in the very prospect of unleashing on the imperialists the colossal human avalanche of the oppressed and subjected colonial masses.
Throughout the documents this new feature of tying up the revolt of backward and colonial peoples with the proletarian revolution in Europe and America is prominently displayed.
The other most interesting point is the "practical" character of the Program. While other brands of socialism may profess that the proletarian revolution does not exist and could not take place for a long time . . . our Program considers the present epoch as one of proletarian revolutions, an epoch of actual struggle for governmental power, of struggle for proletarian dictatorship.
This conception, which returns to the earlier theories of "permanent revolution," naturally colors the Program with a tone of high revolutionary fervor, and, one may say, revolutionary sincerity.
The Communists consider it unnecessary to disguise their views and purposes. They openly declare that their aims can be accomplished only through an overthrow by force of the whole of the existing social order. . . . The gain of government power by the proletariat is by no means a peaceful "conquest" of the existing bourgeois government through parliamentary majorities. . . . The hold of the bourgeoisie can be broken only by ruthless violence. . . . The conquest of power by the proletariat consists in an actual annihilation of the existing capitalistic state machine -- the army, the police, the bureaucracy, the courts, parliaments, etc. -- and in putting in their place new organs of proletarian power, intended in the first place to serve as tools to suppress the exploiters.
The Program consists of a short preamble followed by six chapters. The first of these, called "The World System of Capitalism: Its Development and Inevitable Collapse," is devoted to theoretical considerations of a general character.
The Communist International in its theoretical and practical work fully and without reserve holds to revolutionary Marxianism. . . . The history of capitalism fully confirms the teachings of Marx regarding the laws governing the development of capitalistic society, which show that the contradictions of such development must inevitably lead the whole capitalistic system to destruction.
Here we have a reiteration of Marxianism in its extreme orthodox form. The Third International is pronounced to be the heir of Marx and Engels, of the First International, who regarded the conception of class antagonism and class struggle as basic. This struggle is to grow in breadth and intensity and bring the two irreconcilable poles of society, the bourgeoisie and the toiling masses, to a revolutionary clash, in which the industrial proletariat is bound to seize government power, establish its political dictatorship and then proceed to reconstruct society on a collectivistic basis. Talk of "Social Peace," "Industrial Democracy," "Coöperation with the Bourgeoisie," is branded as "treachery;" exponents of such ideas, the Social Democrats of milder persuasion, are stigmatized as "traitors" to the laboring class, "foes of labor unity," obedient "tools of imperialism."
A new feature in the Program is the presentation of the twentieth century phase of capitalism under the specific title of "Imperialism." It is defined as
a new form of capitalism, distinguished by new relations between the different parts of the world capitalist system . . . a period of capitalistic development featured by leaps and conflicts . . . when free competition is replaced by monopoly, when all the formerly "available" colonial lands have been "partitioned," and when the struggle for spheres of influence and for the redistribution of colonial domains inevitably assumes the form of armed struggle . . . Industrial capital evolving into financial capital . . . Industrial competition being replaced by the monopoly of financial capital. . . . Export of capital becoming the specific and predominant form of link tying together the different parts of the world capitalistic system . . . Government power evolving into a dictatorship of the financial capitalistic oligarchy, the expression of its concentrated might . . . a multi-national imperialistic super-state with functions branching out in all directions.
Imperialism is supposed to have developed to the utmost the productive force of world capitalism and thus to have completed the material premises for the socialistic transformation of society. . . . Imperialism -- the epoch of dying capitalism . . . the eve of a world socialistic revolution. . . . Imperialism deepens and reveals all the contradictions of capitalistic society, strains to the limit class oppression, brings to acute edge competition among capitalistic states, and provokes inevitably imperialistic wars on a world scale, wars which shake the whole system of prevailing relations and lead with iron necessity to a world proletarian revolution.
The inevitability of world-wide armed conflict among the so-called imperialistic countries themselves is continually emphasized. Together with colonial revolt it seems to be looked upon as the principal factor which is bound to uproot the present order and unchain revolution. Such is the prophecy of "Leninism," termed "Marxianism of the Epoch of Imperialism and of Proletarian Revolutions."
No effort, however, is spared to "unmask" what is believed to be the real meaning of bourgeois attempts to reduce armaments and prevent war. These merely cloak the real military aims of the imperialists.
The history of humanity knows of no steps more hypocritical, false and repugnant than the present "pacifistic ideology" of imperialism, whose real profession is war of the most barbaric, counter-revolutionary and destructive type. . . . The fiercer the competition in armament the more energetically resounds the competition of pacifistic "rhetoric" in peace-making "Pacts," Conferences, Projects and Drafts.
The second chapter of the Program is called "The General Crisis of Capitalism and the First Phase of the World Revolution." The theories of Leninism are here applied to analyze the actual conditions growing out of the Great War, which is stated to have opened the first phase of world upheaval.
The war shook the whole system of world capitalism and initiated a period of general crisis. The dislocations and miseries which it entailed have sharpened class struggle, and this has grown into open revolutionary outbursts and into civil war.
A lengthy list of revolutionary events is given, starting from 1918. Together with the events in Europe, the deep ferment in India and the great Chinese Revolution form links in one world-wide revolutionary chain. Great masses of humanity have been drawn into the revolutionary maelstrom. . . . The history of the world has entered into a new phase, that of a protracted general crisis of the capitalistic system.
The first "round" of revolutionary upheaval (1918-21) is said to have ended, except in Russia, with the defeat of the proletariat. Taking advantage of their victory, the bourgeoisie is said to have succeeded in achieving a partial stabilization of capitalism through an increased exploitation of the masses. Against this admitted success of the bourgeoisie the Program displays
the piercing of the imperialistic front in Russia. . . . The October (Bolshevik) Revolution . . . for the first time in history has set up and consolidated the dictatorship of the proletariat in a country of immense size, has enacted into life a new "Soviet" system of government, and has opened the epoch of the international revolution of the proletariat.
The meaning of Communist victory in Russia is thus described:
The very existence of the Soviet Union, with its world influence on the toiling and oppressed masses, is in itself the most conspicuous expression of the deep crisis of the capitalistic system. Within the boundaries of the formerly homogeneous world there are battling at present two antagonistic systems, the system of capitalism and that of socialism. Class struggle is unfolding itself on a gigantic world scale; world labor is now in actual possession of its own State, the only real homeland of the international proletariat.
The stabilization of capitalism referred to above is pronounced to be partial, temporary. Forces are at hand in what is termed the "capitalistic sector," laboring toward a new and inevitable outbreak of revolution. Internal economic processes are dependent on "the growing concentration of capital and an increasing exploitation of the masses," of which some of the results are the following:
Antagonisms arising out of competition for raw material. . . . Conflicts between metropolitan and colonial and semi-colonial countries. . . . Centripetal tendencies in the British Empire. . . . Latin America aroused by the spreading imperialism of the United States. . . . The transfer of the economic center to the New World. . . . The conflict between Great Britain and America. . . . Germany once more on the imperialistic path. . . . The tangle in the Pacific. . . .
Once more the motive of a war to come is sounded:
The International Revolution is unfolding. . . . Against it the imperialists are gathering their forces. . . . The order of the day with them is: expeditions against colonies; a new World War; an onslaught against the U. S. S. R. . . . These in turn will inevitably unleash all the forces of the International Revolution, to be followed by the unavoidable collapse of capitalism.
Chapter Three -- "The Final Aim of the Communist International: World Communism" -- describes the future communist society.
Chapter Four -- "The Transitionary Period from Capitalism to Socialism and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat" -- is in many respects the most interesting part of the document. It explains the mechanism of world revolution and gives a detailed list of immediate practical aims.
Between the capitalistic order and the Communist order there lies a period of revolutionary transformation of one order into the other. Politically, in this transitionary period, government cannot be anything else but a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. . . . The transitionary period on the whole is characterized by a merciless suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, by organizing socialistic reconstruction, by "remaking" people en masse in the spirit of socialism.
This transitionary epoch is conceived of as a prolonged period of revolutions, wars, agrarian and colonial revolts, etc. By seizing government power the proletariat will destroy the bourgeoisie and establish communism in one country or another. "The victory of socialism is possible first in only a few countries, or even only in one individual country." For a time these communistic states will be coëxistent with the old capitalistic states. The world will then be divided into a capitalistic and a Communistic sector. But this will be only temporary. Country after country will become socialistic as the proletariat gains power.
When these newly formed proletarian republics join the already existing republic on a federal basis, then finally this federation will become a Union of Socialistic Soviet Republics of the World.
The "new" type of proletarian government suggested is the Soviet State. Contrary to bourgeois democracy, the Soviet proletarian democracy openly acknowledges its class character and avows as its purpose the suppression of exploiters in the interest of the overwhelming majority of the people. . . . It deprives its class enemies of the exercise of political rights. . . . Eventually it discriminates politically in favor of the proletariat so as to secure for it the leading rôle. . . . The Soviet State carries out a complete disarmament of the bourgeoisie and concentrates the holding of arms in the hands of the proletariat. . . . The Soviet State is a state of an armed proletariat.
The victorious proletariat uses government power as a lever of economic upheaval in the revolutionary transformation of capitalistic property relations into relations appropriate for socialistic production. . . . The starting point of this greatest of economic revolutions consists of the expropriation of property from the land owners and capitalists, that is, the transformation of monopolistic ownership of the bourgeoisie into government ownership by the proletarian state.
A detailed list of enterprises subject to "confiscation and proletarian nationalization" is given. It comprises:
all large industrial enterprises, -- factories, mines, power stations; railroads; means of automobile, water and air transport; telegraph, telephone, radio; banks, including gold reserve, securities and deposits; warehouses, grain elevators, wholesale and large retail stores, stocks of merchandise, etc.
Confiscated property is to be transferred to the Soviets with the purpose of organizing the management of the government on a communal basis. In particular there is to be: (1) "Labor administration of industries." (2) "A centralized government banking system." (3) "A monopoly of foreign trade." (4) "Cancellation of the national debt to foreign and domestic capitalists."
"Confiscation and proletarian nationalization" is to apply also to all large land holdings "in the cities and in the country, including lands owned by the Churches." The confiscated land is to be transferred to the Soviets, together with all
public lands, forests, mine properties, and water rights. . . . Subsequently all and every kind of land is to be nationalized. . . . Large estates are to be administered by the organs of proletarian dictatorship in the form of Soviet farms. . . . Part of the confiscated land is to be given for usage to the poor, and part to the middle elements of the peasantry. The portion of land which is to be given to the peasants is to be determined by considerations of economic expediency as well as by the necessity of "neutralizing" the peasantry and of winning them to the cause of the proletariat. . . . All purchasing and selling of land is to be prohibited.
Real estate in cities (buildings and large dwellings) is to be confiscated and transferred for management to the local Soviet. . . . Bourgeois quarters are to be peopled with laborers.
Other features are:
Nationalization of the press; government monopoly of news and of the publishing business; nationalization of the larger moving picture enterprises and of theatres; and the utilization of these nationalized means of "spiritual production" for the enlightenment of the toiling classes on a proletarian basis.
The Program makes general suggestions regarding how to utilize state-operated enterprises for the benefit of the masses. Detailed measures for protecting labor are enumerated, including the introduction of a seven-hour day. Directions are given for handling different classes -- the ruthless repression of the higher middle-class and landlords, of the loyal officer corps, of the higher bureaucracy. A discriminating attitude is to be adopted toward technical experts and the city lower middle-class, some of whom, together with the peasantry, are gradually to be won over to the cause of the proletariat. Warning is given against peasant landownership and small retail trade, and in this respect the suggestions seem to reflect the experience of the Communists in Russia.
The difference in the political and economic development of different countries naturally leads to a "difference in the path and in the tempo of the advent of the proletariat to power . . . as also in the possible forms of socialistic construction."
The Program reduces the world to three basic classes:
(1) Countries of high capitalistic development (the United States, Germany, England, etc.), with a highly centralized industrial productivity and a long-established democratic political system. In such countries the principal political requirement of the Program is the direct transition to proletarian dictatorship. Characteristic in the economic field are: expropriation of all basic means of production; establishment of a large number of Soviet farms; transfer of relatively small amounts of land to the peasantry; a small volume of trade left unregulated; a fast tempo of socialistic development in general; collectivization of farm economics in particular.
(2) Countries with a medium level of capitalistic development (Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, the Balkan States, etc.), featured by large remnants of semifeudal relations in agriculture, but with a certain minimum of material premises, indispensable for socialistic reconstruction, and with the bourgeois democratic political transformation not fully consummated. . . . In such cases a dictatorship of the proletariat may take effect not at once . . . but in the process of transition from a democratic dictatorship of the peasantry to a socialistic dictatorship by the proletariat. . . . In general the main, sometimes the decisive, rôle is to devolve upon an agrarian revolution.
(3) Colonial and semi-colonial countries (China, India, etc.) and dependent countries (Argentine, Brazil, etc.); countries with a degree of industrial development inadequate, in the main, for self-dependent socialistic reconstruction; countries where "mediaeval" relations or "oriental" methods prevail in the economic and political structure; countries where the most important industrial, commercial and banking enterprises, as well as means of transportation, large land holdings and plantations, are mostly held by foreign banking groups. . . . The prescription in this case is on the one hand a struggle against pre-capitalistic forms of exploitation and a systematically enacted agrarian revolution, and on the other hand a struggle against foreign imperialism on behalf of national self-dependence. . . . Success in socialistic construction is possible on condition . . . that direct assistance is rendered by countries where the proletarian dictatorship has already been established.
A new theory running through this closing sentence is more fully elucidated in the remarks dealing with revolutions in still more backward countries (as in Africa), where life is entirely primitive, where there is no native bourgeoisie and where foreign imperialism plays the rôle of a military occupant.
In these countries a revolt aimed at "national self-dependence" is conceived of as possibly opening the way directly towards the development of socialism, without passing through the stage of capitalism . . . in the event that active and potent assistance is given by countries where the proletarian dictatorship has already been established.
The idea is that the rôle of the pioneer in developing such backward countries, performed in the past by capitalistic states, is to be undertaken by countries where proletarian government has been established, so that the economics of these backward countries will be built up directly on a socialistic basis. This new brand of "socialistic imperialism" figures also in dealing with the practical aims in colonial revolutions. After enumerating the immediate aims, such as
the overthrow of foreign imperialism . . . the joint dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry on a Soviet basis . . . the repudiation of foreign debts . . . the nationalization of industries, banking and trade enterprises owned by imperialists . . . the confiscation of land holdings, the organization of a labor-peasant revolutionary army, etc.,
the Program elucidates the rôle of the emancipated colonies during the transition period in their relation to the highly industrialized countries which under proletarian leadership have already established socialism. The colonies are to constitute a "World Village," acting as consumers of the products manufactured by the "World City," the latter being the federation of the proletarian states.
The problem of organizing socialistic economics on a world scale, which is that of a proper relation between industry and agriculture, is in great measure the question of a proper attitude toward the former imperialistic colonies.
At later stages the Communists are supposed to help these colonies to develop on a socialistic basis, and thus "the expansion of socialism, as a new system of production, acquires its world swing."
In Chapter Five, entitled "The Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the U. S. S. R. and the International Socialistic Revolution," the rôle of the Communist Government in Russia as the active center of world revolution is once more emphasized. The capitalistic nations are portrayed as always vacillating between the advantages to be derived from trade and economic relations with Russia and the fear of the U. S. S. R. as a revolutionary center. On the whole, it is concluded,
the prevailing tendency now is toward a counter-revolutionary war aimed at the annihilation of Communism in Russia.
Against this war the Communists in all countries are expected to "react" by most courageous and decisive mass action.
The last section, Chapter Six -- "The Strategy and Tactics of the Communist International in the Struggle for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat" -- is divided into two parts. The first contains an analysis of the various forms assumed by the labor movement, a survey of the different branches of socialistic creed, and a review of revolutionary doctrines prevalent in China, India and among the colored peoples. In large part it is a bitter denunciation of the so-called "social democracy" and of its international organization, the Second International, in Brussels.
The second part of the chapter deals with revolutionary strategy and tactics. Ways and means are recommended to effect revolutionary leadership; directions are given as to how to act in periods of "peace" and during epochs of revolutionary unrest. The nucleus of revolutionary leadership is the Party.
The successful struggle of the Communistic International . . . assumes the existence in each country of a united, centralized and disciplined Communist Party, weathered in battles and closely tied with the masses. . . . The Party is a revolutionary body cemented by iron discipline. . . . It symbolizes the unity of proletarian principles, of proletarian will and revolutionary action.
For the purpose of coördination it is indispensable for the proletariat to have an international class discipline. . . . This consists of subjecting the local and particular interests of the movement to its final aims, with all Communists unconditionally carrying out the directions of . . . the Communist International. . . . Contrary to the Second International, each constituent party of which is obedient to the discipline of its "own" homeland, the sections of the Communist International recognize only one discipline, that of the international proletariat.
The Party is to establish an active influence in the first place over the labor masses, including women and youths. The Communists are to penetrate " trade unions, coöperatives, educational and sporting bodies," and to establish active leadership. Next in order to receive attention come the toiling masses of the peasantry, the artisans, the lower middle class of the cities, etc. A "hegemony" of the proletariat is to be established over all workers, a potential revolutionary army directed and commanded by a centralized staff.
Tactical lines to be followed by Communists during periods of peace, when "revolutionary unrest is absent," follow closely the "strategy" outlined above. The Communists are supposed to keep in close touch with the masses, in order to formulate demands and suggest forms of action. Conflicts are to be sharpened and economic demands turned into political issues.
The Program then outlines tactics to be followed during periods of "revolutionary unrest." At such periods the problem which the party faces is to lead the masses into direct attack on the bourgeois state.
Slogans growing more and more revolutionary are to be formulated, accompanied by organized mass action.
Forms of mass action are: strikes combined with demonstrations; strikes combined with armed demonstrations; finally a general strike, with an armed uprising against the bourgeois government. . . . This highest form of struggle must comply with the rules of military art; it requires a military plan, offensive military operations, unreserved heroism and loyalty on the part of the proletariat. Its action must be preceded by organizing the masses into combat units and by energetic revolutionary work within the army and the navy.
In a general way, the revolutionary work in so-called civilized countries . . . consists of organizing revolution under the banners of proletarian dictatorship.
In Latin America, among the negroes, among the yellow races and in countries where anti-Semitism flourishes, the Communists are to support every struggle directed against "oppression or racial discrimination."
In imperialist countries the Communist Party should openly avow and preach the right of colonies to separation . . . and their right to armed rebellion. . . . Active support should be given by all and every means. . . . An identical line of action is obligatory with regard to all oppressed nations.
In colonial and semi-colonial countries, the Communist Party should openly preach and put into effect . . . agrarian revolution, arousing the masses to overthrow the landlords. . . . They should organize propaganda within the army and navy on behalf of the oppressed nations . . . and mobilize the masses for an organized boycott in protest against any movement of arms and contingents.
Particular attention is to be paid to propaganda campaigns against the danger of imperialistic wars . . . and to the ruthless unmasking of social chauvinism and pacifistic phraseology. . . . There must be relentless organized work in this direction, and this work should combine both legal and subversive methods. . . . The principal slogans are to be: Turn an imperialistic war into civil war. Defeat one's own government. Defend by all means the U. S. S. R.
The general rôle of the Communist International is summed up in the closing words of the preamble to the Program: The Organizer of the International Revolution of the Proletariat.
[i] The Program is printed in full in Izvestia, September 5, 1928.
[ii]Izvestia, September 2, 1928.
[iii]Izvestia, September 12, 1928.