Memoirs of a Revolutionary. Victor Serge
=== from Chapter 3.
On Second Congress of Comintern === Lenin was bending every effort to convince the ‘Left Communists’ — Dutch, German, or (like Bordiga) Italian — of the necessity for compromise and participation in electoral and Parliamentary politics; he warned of the danger of their becoming revolutionary sects. In his discussion of the ‘national and colonial question’, Lenin emphasized the possibility, and even necessity, of inspiring Soviet-type revolutions in the Asiatic colonial countries. The experience of Russian Turkestan, seemed to lend support to his arguments. He was aiming primarily at India and China; he thought that the blow must be directed to these countries in order to weaken British imperialism, which then appeared as the inveterate foe of the Soviet Republic. The Russians had no further hopes for the traditional Socialist parties of Europe. They judged that the only possible course was to work for splits that would break with the old reformist and Parliamentary leaderships, thereby creating new parties, disciplined and controlled by the Executive in Moscow, which would proceed efficiently to the conquest of power.
the growth of intolerance and servility among many officials and their drive towards privilege
they began to be enclosed within all the tricks and tomfooleries of servility
the spectre of future war would raise a question-mark over the existence of civilization itself, unless the social system of Europe was speedily transformed
= A New International =
It is true that the Second International lacked socialist spirit, revolutionary foresight and energy. It is true that the Third has, on the other hand, fallen into the grossest opportunism, authoritarian centralisation, extreme doctrinal vulgarisation, and has also completely become the vassal of the Soviet state.
the usually bourgeois psychology of the working-class aristocracies of Western Europe
Russia in 1919
The Third International
V. I. Lenin
= First Congress of the Communist International = History teaches us that no oppressed class ever did, or could, achieve power without going through a period of dictatorship, i.e., the conquest of political power and forceable suppression of the resistance always offered by the exploiters—the resistance that is most desperate, most furious, and that stops at nothing.
We responded to the bourgeois war with the proletarian war—there can be no other way. How should we reply to the bandit war, e.g. in Donbass? «Брат»?
The founding of an international Soviet republic is on the way. The International is a step towards an international Soviet, anti-capitalist republic.
The First Five Years of the Communist International
= Manifesto of the Communist International
to the Workers of the World = If the war of 1870 dealt a blow to the First International, disclosing that there was as yet no fused mass force behind its social-revolutionary program, then the war of 1914 killed the Second International, disclosing that the mightiest organizations of the working masses were dominated by parties which had become transformed into auxiliary organs of the bourgeois state!
= The Second Congress Of The Communist International = https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/jul/04.htm
the idea, common among the old parties and the old leaders of the Second International, that the majority of the exploited toilers can achieve complete clarity of socialist consciousness and firm socialist convictions and character under capitalist slavery, under the yoke of the bourgeoisie (which assumes an inIinite variety of forms that become more subtle and at the same time more brutal and ruthless the higher the cultural level in a given capitalist country) is also idealisation of capitalism and of bourgeois democracy, as well as deception of the workers. In fact, it is only after the vanguard of the proletariat, supported by the whole or the majority of this, the only revolutionary class, overthrows the exploiters, suppresses them, emancipates the exploited from their state of slavery and-immediately improves their conditions of life at the expense of the expropriated capitalists—it is only after this, and only in the actual process of an acute class strugg]e, that the masses of the toilers and exploited can be educated, trained and organised around the proletariat under whose influence and guidance, they can get rid of the selfishness, disunity, vices and weaknesses engendered by private property; only then will they be converted into a free union of free workers” <– how then is revolution possible, if by “revolution” we mean an action of the majority of population against a minority?
Victory over capitalism calls for proper relations between the leading (Communist) party, the revolutionary class (the proletariat) and the masses, i.e., the entire body of the toilers and the exploited.
Finally, it is only after they have been really emancipated from the yoke of the bourgeoisie and of the bourgeois machinery of state, only after they have found an opportunity of organising in their Soviets in a really free way (free from the exploiters), that the masses, i.e., the toilers and exploited as a body, can display, for the first time in history, all the initiative and energy of tens of millions of people who have been crushed by capitalism. Only when the Soviets have become the sole state apparatus is it really possible to ensure the participation, in the work of administration, of the entire mass of the exploited, who, even under the most enlightened and freest bourgeois democracy, have always actually been excluded 99 per cent from participation in the work of administration. It is only in the Soviets that the exploited masses really begin to learn—not in books, but from their own practical experience—the work of socialist construction, of creating a new social discipline and a free union of free workers.” Here Lenin is wrong. It is not a matter of simply “Soviets”, as a form, but of a certain, rather high level of development of productive forces, and hence consciousness of the producers, their multiple skills, that they can become engaged in administration of public affairs.
Manifesto of the Communist International, 1920
Characterizes the state of international relations after WWI: France, England, USA, etc.
Special attention to the 2 dominant imperialist powers: England and the USA.
Soviet Russia in opposition to them.
Attitude to Soviet Russia is the touchstone by which all labor and communist organizations are tested. Today, this means the attitude to the war in Donbass.
V. I. Lenin
= Terms of Admission into Communist International = https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/jul/x01.htm
3. In countries where a state of siege or emergency legislation makes it impossible for Communists to conduct their activities legally, it is absolutely essential that legal and illegal work should be combined. In almost all the countries of Europe and America, the class struggle is entering the phase of civil war. In these conditions, Communists can place no trust in bourgeois legality. They must everywhere build up a parallel illegal organisation, which, at the decisive moment, will be in a position to help the Party fulfil its duty to the revolution.” This applies directly to us. I feel I cannot say everything that I want to say because of the civil war now going on in the country, and I am “legal” and can easily be located and hit. Moreover, my wife – Ira – is one of the bureaucracy.
I absolutely don’t understand the situation in the world, and what must be done.
13. Parties belonging to the Communist International must be organised on the principle of democratic centralism. In this period of acute civil war, the Communist parties can perform their duty only if they are organised in a most centralised manner, are marked by an iron discipline bordering on military discipline, and have strong and authoritative party centres invested with wide powers and enjoying the unanimous confidence of the membership.
= The Organisational Structure of the Communist Parties, the Methods and Content of Their Work: Theses = https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/3rd-congress/party-theses.htm
In the coming period the centrally important task for all Parties is the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the seizure of power.
Accordingly, all the organisational work of the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries must be directed towards establishing organisations which can guarantee the victory of the proletarian revolution over the ruling classes.
the division between the ‘bureaucracy’ and the ‘people’. Under the paralysing influence of the bourgeois environment a separation of functions occurred; formal democracy replaced the active participation of working people, and the organisation was divided into the active functionaries and the passive masses. Even the revolutionary workers’ movement has not entirely escaped the influence of the bourgeois environment and the evils of this formalism and division” not the bourgeois environment, but material culture at the level of industrialization
Both the legal and illegal Communist Parties often understand illegal Communist organisational work to be the creation and maintenance of a closely knit and exclusively military organisation, isolated from other aspects of Party work and organisation. This is undoubtedly a mistaken view. In the pre-revolutionary period our military organisations must be built primarily by general Communist Party work. The Party as a whole must become a military organisation fighting for revolution.
very precaution must be taken to prevent suspicious or unreliable persons joining the Party. The methods to be used will depend to a considerable degree on whether the Party is legal or illegal, whether it is in a period of growth or of stagnation. One method which has had favourable results in some places and in certain circumstances is the system of candidature, according to which persons wanting to join the Party are first accepted as candidates on the recommendation of one or two Party comrades, and are only adopted as full members if they carry out successfully the Party work assigned to them.” This worked in Algiers.
Third Congress of the Communist International
V. Single-Issue Struggles and Single-Issue Demands
revolutionary action should be organised around all the demands raised by the masses, and these separate actions will gradually merge into a powerful movement for social revolution
Essentially, these are documents on the international situation, the relation of Soviet Russia and the Communist Party towards these events.
Hence, preparing for world revolution, according to Comintern, is:
1) analyzing the world situation, international relations.
Special attention to transitional states, such as Russia, China, and main imperialism, the USA
2) understanding the attitude of various left parties, organizations towards these problems, the attitude to transitional states being “a cornerstone”.
Hence, getting to know the affairs in the various international parties, their past and present. Engaging in the polemic with those of them who are close. This is a part of organizing. Larger scale of organizing includes: own publication, working for a joint congresses, working for a common worldview. Party of world revolution essentially should be a military organization, with a military discipline, but with a wider scope than an army, for it is essentially a political organization.
3) On more theoretical level, as did Lenin in “State and Revolution”, analyzing previous revolutions, and what revolutionary authorities think of these.
4) Special attention should be placed on understanding modern productive forces, first of all knowledge, as the principal productive force. This is the essential area where modernity has gone behind Marxism of XIX century. Those elements should be contacted and organizational efforts made who understand this truth.
= The Main Lesson of the Third Congress = the false theory of an initiating minority which by its heroism shatters “the wall of universal passivity” of the proletariat. The false theory of uninterrupted offensives conducted by the proletarian vanguard, as a “new method” of struggle; the false theory of partial battles which are waged by applying the methods of armed insurrection. And so forth and so on. The clearest exponent of this tendency is the Vienna journal Communism. It is absolutely self-evident that tactical theories of this sort have nothing in common with Marxism.
Undeniably these adventurist methods and theories arise as a reaction to the reformist and centrist tendencies within the labor movement, whose direct supplement they are.
(Fourth Congress) https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/index.htm
= Report on the Communist International =
Marxism teaches us that in order for the proletarian revolution to become possible there must be given, schematically speaking, three premises or conditions. In the first place the conditions of production. The technology of production must have attained such heights as to provide economic gains from the replacement of capitalism by socialism. Secondly, there must be a class interested in effecting this change and sufficiently strong to achieve it, that is, a class numerically large enough and playing a sufficiently important role in economy to introduce this change. The reference here, is of course, to the working class. And thirdly, this class must be prepared to carry through the revolution. It must have the will to carry it out, and must be sufficiently organized and conscious to be capable of carrying it out.
The second pre-requisite: the working class. It must be, come sufficiently powerful in the economic sense in order to gain power and rebuild society.” Not only “power in the economic sense”. It must be the most important in the production process. Hence, it must come to manage the economy, first of all, without being in charge of it, in charge of the society – a position attained by the capitalist elements today in the former USSR.
Revolutionary class must show a tendency towards self-organization, and hence organization of others.
Not to take the role of the party into account is to fall into pseudo-Marxist objectivism which presupposes some sort of purely objective and automatic preparation of the revolution, and thereby postpones the latter to an indefinite future. This automatism is alien to us.