On the dissolution of the Third International

Submitted by AWL on 6 June, 2008 - 12:38

The Stalinist bureaucrats have dissolved the Comintern. “Warning”, declares the Axis propaganda, “this is just a manoeuvre, a chimera, playing dead”. “Hurrah!” the Anglo-Saxon imperialist press cries with joy, “our allies are not communists, they are good Russian patriots”. “Of course, it’s just a manoeuvre” is the rationalisation the communist worker still committed to the Third International despite all the defeats uses to reassure himself; they are tricking their capitalist adversaries, folding up the flag only to unfurl it again in the future. Such manoeuvres, he tells himself as he reflects, can and must be made when faced with the class enemy. But he starts to have doubts: is the dissolution of the International really another move to trick the class enemy, or might it be a manoeuvre against the workers of the world?

Might the dissolution of the International be a manoeuvre which impacts on the proletariat’s class struggle? “The struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat necessitates a single, joint, international organisation of all communist forces fighting for that goal” declared the resolution which founded the Third International. But now the man who dissolved this organisation (even if he only ‘appeared’ to do so) and only in order to wrong-foot the enemy, is also confusing the workers about the task to be accomplished, which is indeed the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Today when millions of oppressed people hope that the end of the second imperialist war will bring the end of all oppression and the end of all war, today when society readies itself for violent revolutionary struggles, the dissolution of the International can only serve to paralyse the fighting strength of the proletariat, to discourage it and sow confusion in its ranks. No, such a manoeuvre as this is not directed against the class enemy, but it is an effort to trick the workers and above all the International’s adherents themselves. This move is a clear rejection of communist revolution.

It is not the first move of this character made by the Russian bureaucracy. We shall only mention the most recent and the worst. In Spain, the proletariat’s struggle against fascism and for the establishment of a Soviet Republic was labelled a “national liberation struggle”: the workers’ councils were strangled, revolutionary workers were submitted to GPU terror and the cornerstone of the resistance to Franco was broken. In France in June 1936 it put the brakes on the strike wave and buried the nascent revolutionary movement by trapping it into the Popular Front. In Germany it recommended the creation of a Popular Front wide enough to include the Stahlhelm and set as the objective of the struggle the establishment of a “national-popular government”.

The dissolution of the proletarian front just before the rise of the new revolutionary wave is not simply abandonment or rejection of revolution. It is above all a declaration of war against the coming proletarian uprising. The sole task of the surviving national sections of the Comintern is to suffocate any revolutionary proletarian struggle, following the Spanish model. The communist revolution is international, but it will be strangled country by country.

None of this is very surprising for the German proletariat. They can see for themselves in the East that the Russia of the Stalinist bureaucracy has replaced the Russia of Lenin’s day, the Russia of workers, peasants and their soviets. The bureaucracy has long been characterised by its deep, deep hostility towards mass revolutionary struggles. That is why the bureaucrats have always portrayed themselves as intelligent and terribly ‘realistic’. “We will thank you a thousandfold”, said Roosevelt, “if you will dissolve the International”. A thousand thanks and the confidence of Roosevelt, the bureaucrats say, are worth more than the coming revolution and the confidence of the masses”.

But these days no politics are ‘realistic’ apart from the politics of revolution. Through their aversion of revolution, which they have betrayed and sold out to Anglo-American capitalism, through their dogged chauvinism and their barbarous treatment of their prisoners, the bureaucrats have only succeeded in exasperating the German soldier, masking the possibility of revolution and so throwing him disarmed into the hands of Goebbels and his his propaganda: in so doing they have prolonged the war. One German worker, upon receiving revolutionary propaganda from a comrade, said: if these publications were distributed widely it would surely take only a few days before revolution broke out in Germany and the war was over. This worker had a more ‘realistic’ political outlook than that of the bureaucrats over their corrupt twenty-five year rule.

The German media, which tries to pass off the rapacious war of capitalists like Krupp, Kloeckner, Roechling and Borsig as a crusade against “Bolshevik chaos” must of course do all in its power to expose this “manoeuvre”. Thus it argues that the dissolved Third International will just turn into a Fourth International. The first part of this story serves to flatter the Stalinist bureaucracy — the second part is an outrage against the organ of the coming revolution: the Fourth International has indeed been created, but as a rallying point for authentic revolutionary communists. It follows the tradition of Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, Liebknecht and Luxemburg. The organisation has been created to struggle against the treachery of Stalin and his followers, not as some new version of the Comintern. To the extent that it represents a continuation of the Third International, this is only insofar as it will fight to accomplish the tasks set by Lenin — long betrayed by Stalin — in the coming revolutionary struggles: building a single, joint, international organisation to struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Revolutionary communists welcome the dissolution of the Comintern. Of course, at first it will serve to discourage the workers and sow confusion among their ranks. However, in the last analysis — against the will of the Stalinist clique — it will facilitate the struggle for the proletariat’s goals in the coming revolution. It will expose the treachery of the Russian bureaucrats and their Comintern before the eyes of all proletarians. In the last analysis, it can only help to convince the workers of the need to build a new revolutionary International.


You want to fight for a proletarian revolution. You are convinced of the need for a new revolutionary communist party. You want to win your work colleagues and your comrades on the front and in the barracks over to these ideas. You are yet to succeed in doing so. Many among them are still Stalinists, others hope to see the SPD resurrected, a third group want to re-live the “good times” of before 1933 and a fourth group is totally uninterested in any talk of politics. But this must not stop you talking to all of them when resistance arises confronting a boss, a tyrannical foreman, an officer or reprisals by the Nazi clique. On the contrary. You, as revolutionary communists, must be the first to prove your courage, energy and prudence. Many who would today be unwinnable even with the best arguments could be won over by your attitude. Many will only find the courage to join us when struggle emerges.

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