The Communist Internationals

Second World Congress of the Comintern - 1920

Second World Congress of the Comintern – 1920

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The Communist Internationals

If the principles of socialism have not international application and if the socialist movement is not an international movement then its whole philosophy is false and the movement has no reason for existence.

The International Working Men’s Association (The First International)

In the history of the world emancipation movement of the working class a special place is held by the International Working Men’s Association – the First International. Founded on September 28, 1864, at an international meeting held in St. Martin’s Hall, London, this first international proletarian mass organisation paved the way for the world communist movement of today. In the ranks of the International Working Men’s Association the advanced workers of Europe and America got a schooling in proletarian internationalism, imbibed the ideas of Marxism, and finally discarded petty-bourgeois sectarianism for the proletarian party principle. ‘For ten years the International dominated one side of European history – the side on which the future lies.’ Engels wrote in 1874.

Documents of the First International, Volume 1, 1864-1866, Minutes, The London Conference 1865, FLPH, Moscow, 1964, 483 pages.

Documents of the First International, Volume 2, 1866-1868, Minutes, Progress, Moscow, 1964, 444 pages.

Documents of the First International, Volume 3, 1868-1870, Minutes, Progress, Moscow, 1964, 534 pages.

Documents of the First International, Volume 4, 1870-1871, Minutes, Progress, Moscow, 1964, 617 pages,

Documents of the First International, Volume 5, 1871-1872, Minutes, Progress, Moscow, 1964, 626 pages.

Documents of the First International, Volume 6, The Hague Congress, September 2-7 1872, Minutes and Documents, Progress, Moscow, 1976, 758 pages.

Documents of the First International, Volume 7, The Hague Congress, September 2-7 1872, Reports and Letters, Progress, Moscow, 1978, 701 pages.

The International Working Men’s association and the Working Class Movement in Manchester 1865-85, Edmond and Ruth Frow, Manchester, 1979, 18 pages.

The Second International

‘By social-chauvinism we mean acceptance of the idea of the defence of the fatherland in the present imperialist war, justification of an alliance between socialists and the bourgeoisie and the governments of their ‘own’ countries in this war, a refusal to propagate and support proletarian revolutionary action against one’s ‘own’ bourgeoisie, etc.’ VI Lenin, The Collapse of the Second International in Lenin Collected Works, Volume 21, pp 205-259.

The War and the Second International, VI Lenin, (London, Martin Lawrence, 1931), Little Lenin Library, Volume Two, 63 pages. Two documents written in 1914, ‘The Collapse of the Second International’ and ‘The War and Russian Social-Democracy’.

The rise and fall of the Second International, J Lenz, International Publishers, New York, 1932, 285 pages.

A History of Socialist Thought, Volume 3, Part 1, 2nd International 1889-1914, GDH Cole, Macmillan, London, 1963, 519 pages.

A History of Socialist Thought, Volume 3, Part 2, 2nd International 1889-1914, GDH Cole, Macmillan, London, 1963, 1043 pages.

Resolution of the International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart, August 18-24 1907 and the Manifesto of the Extraordinary International Socialist Congress, Basel, November 24-25 1912.

The Second International, 1889-1914, Igor Krivoguz, Progress, Moscow, 1989, 393 pages.

The Communist International (The Third International – Comintern)

‘The Third International has gathered the fruits of the work of the Second International, discarded its opportunist, social-chauvinist, bourgeois and petty-bourgeois dross, and has begun to implement the dictatorship of the proletariat.’ VI Lenin, The Third International and its place in history, in Lenin Collected Works, Volume 29, pp 305-313.

The Manifesto of the Moscow International, Educational Press Association, Montreal, 1919, 12 pages.

Theses presented to 2nd World Congress of the Communist International, Petrograd-Moscow, July 1920, Editions of the Communist International, Petrograd, 1920, 121 pages.

Manifesto of the Communist International, adopted at the Congress of the Communist International at Moscow, march 2-6 1919, and signed by Comrades C Rakovsky, N Lenin, M Zinoviev, L Trotzky, and Fritz Platten, Arbeiter Zeitung, Chicago, n.d., 14 pages.

The Third (Communist) International, its aims and methods, James Clunie, Socialist Labour Press, Glasgow, 1921, 74 pages.

Resolutions and Theses of the 4th Congress of the Communist International, held in Moscow November 7 to December 3 1922, CPGB, London, 1923, 130 pages.

The Communist International between the 5th and 6th World Congresses, 1924-28, a report on the position of all sections of the World Communist Party, CPGB, London, 1928, 508 pages.

On the Road to Bolshevization, Workers Library Publishers, New York, 1929, 42 pages.

For Unity of the Wold Communist Movement, a letter to the Independent Labor Party of Great Britain from the Communist Party USA (Opposition), Communist Party USA, New York, 1934, 32 pages.

Program of the Communist International, together with its Constitution, adopted at the 46th Session of the Sixth World Congress of the Communist International, September 1 1928, Workers Library, New York, 1936, 94 pages.

The Spanish Revolution, M Ercoli (Togliatti), Workers Library Publishers, New York, 1937, 29 pages.

VII Congress of the Communist International, abridged stenographic report of proceedings, FLPH, Moscow, 1939, 604 pages.

The Communist International, No 4, 1940, Modern Books, London, 34 pages.

The Communist International, No 6, 1940, Modern Books, London, 34 pages.

The Communist International, No 12, 1940, Modern Books, London, 44 pages.

Workers of the world, Unite!, declaration on the dissolution of the Communist International, adopted May 27 1943, Labour News Co., New York, 1943, 28 pages.

The Third International and its place in history, VI Lenin, (Moscow, Progress, 1971) 51 pages.

Principles of Party Organization, JV Stalin, (Calcutta, Mass Publications, 1975), 47 pages. Thesis on the Organization and Structure of Communist Parties, adopted at the Third Congress of the Communist International in 1921. It was on this basis of this thesis that JV Stalin based his lectures reproduced in ‘The Foundations of Leninism’.

Communist International Documents, 1919-1943, Volume 3, 1929-1943, Jane Degras, Routledge, London, 2007, 494 pages.

Toward the united front, Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922, edited by John Riddell, Brill, Leiden, 2012, 1323 pages.

To the Masses, Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921, edited by John Riddell, Brill, Leiden, 2015, 1309 pages.

The Communist Movement at a Crossroads, Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923, edited by Michael Taber, Brill, Leiden, 2018, 808 pages.

History and analysis

The Communist Movement, from Comintern to Cominform, Part 1, the crisis of the Communist International, Fernando Claudin, Monthly Review, New York, 1975, 410 pages. From Marx to Mao digital reprint, 2017.

The Communist Movement, from Comintern to Cominform, Part 2, the zenith of Stalinism, Fernando Claudin, Monthly Review, New York, 1975, 450 pages. From Marx to Mao digital reprint, 2017.

The World Communist Movement, outline of strategy and tactics, edited by VV Zagladin, Progress, Moscow, 1973, 480 pages.

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1st May – May Day – International Workers’ Day

Workers of the World - Unite! - May Day 1920

Workers of the World – Unite! – May Day 1920

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1st May – May Day – International Workers’ Day

May Day, the first of May, has been the ‘official’ International Workers’ Day since 1891 when the Second International, the successor to the International Working Men’s Association (women, for some reason unknown to me, were not considered in those early days of conscious and organised socialism and in the establishment of one of its most important organisations) – which came to be known as the First International – following the outbreak and rage at the events that followed the meeting of striking workers in Chicago, USA, on May 4th 1886.

Organised labour in the United States had set the date of May 1st 1886 for the gaining of an ‘Eight hour day without any cut in pay’. This followed similar movements that had developed in Europe. The movement began as early as 1817, after the coining of the slogan ‘Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest’ in Britain, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. This was emulated in other European, industrialised countries and became an official demand of the First International soon after its formation.

When the employers refused to cede such an improvement of working conditions thousands of workers throughout the United States went on strike. In Chicago the workers were particularly well organised. By the latter part of the 19th century the city had become one of the most important in the USA (especially after the Union victory in the Civil War) as it was not only an important transport hub linking all parts of the country but also a growing industrial centre due to the advantages these links to the rest of the country offered burgeoning American capitalism. On top of this it was the stockyards, receiving, slaughtering and processing millions of cattle from the western plains, that virtually fed the country.

These conditions created the environment for a strong trade union movement which grew in reaction to the dire conditions which always reign in rapid capitalist expansion – the stockyards, especially, being as unpleasant for the workers as they were for the animals.

A series of meetings, rallies and demonstrations were organised in the days following May 1st as the workers stepped up their pressure on the employers. On the Tuesday 4th, a peaceful meeting had been taking place for some time when massed police ranks arrived and demanded that the speakers ‘desist’ and the crowd ‘disperse’. Immediately after that demand a bomb was thrown at the advancing police and seven died either there or of their wounds. Gunfire broke out, 4 demonstrators were killed, dozens wounded and about 60 police suffered from gunshot wounds of varying degrees – mainly, it was commonly accepted, from the erratic firing of fellow officers.

Who actually threw the bomb and why was never proved beyond doubt. However, what was certain was that it was the organised workers who were tried, 4 of them eventually being strangled on the gallows – they didn’t ‘hang’, by accident or design, as they didn’t fall so as to break their necks. What was also certain was the anti-red, anti-trade union purge that followed as well as a concerted press campaign to vilify the workers and promote the police as innocent victims of dangerous, out of control, anarchists. This is a circumstance that has been repeated innumerable times in the years since, in all parts of the globe.

Conspiracy trials go against even the bourgeois legal tenet of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ as the burden of proof is laid at the feet of the accused, not the accusers. In the heightened environment that often surrounds such trials the chances of the accused being found not guilty is remote and for thinking individuals the whole affair is seen as a stitch-up and a gross miscarriage of justice – in Britain it’s sufficient to mention the case of the Tolpuddle Martyrs (farm workers transported to Australia for forming a union in 1834) and the Shrewsbury 24 (tried and convicted of conspiracy, although the way the media presented it they were guilty of using and threatening violence, after the 1972 building workers strike).

Demonstrations and strikes on May Day became the focal point for struggles throughout the world as the working class started to stand up for its rights and the red banner of communism flew over more and more streets – for the truth of any society is that whoever rules the streets rules the country.

With the victory of the first workers’ and peasants’ revolution in Russia, which became the Soviet Union, May Day took on an even greater importance. Each year as the workers and peasants marched through Red Square when they took a break away from the collectivisation and industrialisation of one sixth of the worlds’ land mass, they were throwing down a challenge to the workers in the rest of the world – do you want to live in freedom or remain under the yoke of capitalism?

After the victory of the revolution in what became the Peoples’ Republic of China in 1949 the May Day holiday became one of the major public holidays in the country. This remained until just a few years ago (even after the restoration of capitalism under the ‘running dog and capitalist roader’ Deng Tsiao Ping who had led a successful counter-revolution and managed to fool the population that for individuals ‘to get rich’ was the best way forward for the country and the people). The result might be that, on paper, the country is becoming richer but that is only because more and more of the wealth of the country is in the hands and under the control of a small number of billionaires with the consequence that hundreds of millions find their conditions of life getting worse day by day. Until May Day yet again becomes a rallying point for the Chinese people they will only see the situation of the vast majority of the population becoming worse.

In capitalist countries strikes and demonstrations on, or around, May 1st were an indication of the success and effectiveness of trade unions and other working class organisations. It’s a truism that the level of international solidarity depends upon the determination and ability to fight for local advances in conditions or against attacks on workers’ rights by home-grown capitalists.

Solidarity with struggles of other workers throughout the world was at its height, in Liverpool, in the 1970s when organised labour was fighting throughout the area on issues as diverse as: shorter working hours; against factory closures – which included many occupations, takeovers and sit-ins; welfare benefit rights; rent strikes; supporting struggles to maintain the gains under the welfare state in health and education, to mention just a few. Unfortunately, for reasons of lack of leadership and lack of clarity of thinking on behalf of the workers, most of these issues were defensive and we live with the failure to go on the attack and fight for a socialist future that has led us into the situation we now find ourselves.

It was in this highly charged political environment that international solidarity found fertile ground. The flag of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front flew over the streets of Liverpool as opposition to American aggression in Indochina grew stronger and louder. The May Day of 1975 was a special affair. Coming the day after the liberation forces’ tanks had crashed through the presidential palace and the lackeys, hangers-on, whores and spivs had fought to get out on the last helicopters to leave from the roof of the American Embassy – the machines to be later pushed off the aircraft carriers of the ‘mightiest nation on the planet’ into the South China Sea – that May Day demonstration was both a celebration of a shared victory and a declaration of intent on other fronts.

Support for the struggle of the African people against the racist and apartheid regimes in Rhodesia, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bisseau were also at their height during this period. As was support for the people of Chile whose social democracy, with the electoral victory of Salvador Allende, had shown itself wanting when faced with the armed might of a fascist insurgency. The strength of support for the Chilean people in Liverpool was why so many of them found a welcome there when they fled into exile. This support for Latin American peoples was also expressed in the support for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua whose victory against the Samoza regime in June 1979 seemed to open the way of hope for the people’s of Central America.

But there are always twists and turns in the road. Lack of vigilance means that the leadership of the movement can be side-tracked and taken down dead ends. This happened after the election of Tony Blair in 1997. Any organisation in Liverpool just seemed to dissipate and the May Day demonstrations that had seen tens of thousands marching to the Pier Head became an embarrassment as a handful of people would attempt to keep the tradition going.

Even though there are even more reasons for people to be on the streets to show their anger after the ‘great bank robbery’ – where the bankers do the robbing – of the last six years and the direct involvement of Britain in disastrous, murderous and hugely expensive wars and interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, for example, as well as the present day threat that the country might get involved in such ‘adventures’ in Iran and even the Ukraine, the streets today will remain quiet – or at best we’ll hear a whimper.

It seems that today we are happy to send our sons (and, increasingly, daughters) to fight and die in other lands killing other workers but are not prepared to fight to maintain the gains of the past, let alone move forward to a better future.

In 1886 the workers in Chicago were fighting for an eight-hour day. Now we hear of people taking work home as there’s not enough time in the workplace to complete their task; many people are putting in unpaid overtime in order to try to maintain their employment; and only yesterday it was announced in a report that there are 1.4 million (and probably many more) ‘zero hour contracts’ which provide maximum benefit for the employer and insecurity and uncertainty for the employed.

Capitalism might be laughing all the way to the bank today but tomorrow we will reclaim May Day as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the great Russian Marxist, described it in 1904:

‘… the day when the workers of all lands celebrate their awakening to a class conscious life, their solidarity in the struggle against all coercion and oppression of man by man, the struggle to free the toiling millions from hunger, poverty and humiliation. Two worlds stand facing each other in this great struggle: the world of capital and the world of labour, the world of exploitation and slavery and the world of brotherhood and freedom.’

A Happy May Day to all!

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Por fin – Spain wins its first Gold Medal

El Periodico Front Page

At Last – a Gold Medal


‘POR FIN’ (at last) was headline on one of the Catalonian ‘red tops’ on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, the day after Spain had won its first gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

If those of you who lived in the UK during those two weeks thought there was nothing more important on the planet than the Olympic Games you can, perhaps, be consoled that (for some people) it was of equal importance in Spain as well.

In Britain things were muted when the first gold medal winner was tardy in stepping up to the podium. Favourites were failing to quite get that illusive piece of metal and fears were growing that Team GB (nearly always forgetting to mention Northern Ireland) might have a disastrous Olympics and the home advantage would be lost.  Nothing was said but there was definitely a sensation the country could end up with egg on its face and politicians were fearing they wouldn’t be able to make political capital out of any sporting success that came the country’s way.

Now they’ve swung in completely the opposite direction and have announced a parade as if the athletes were victors in some foreign war.  Wouldn’t it have been more in the spirit of the Olympics that such a parade was planned before the medal tally was known?  Is it only an achievement if the numbers of medal are high and the country can claim that it won the bronze medal in the international competition?  And what about poor Rio de Janeiro, having to follow the ‘greatest games EVER’?  ‘It’s not the winning that matters, it’s the competing that counts’ is obviously a thing of the past and modern states don’t like you unless you’re a winner.

But back to Spain. If it was bad in Britain imagine what it was like there, having to wait another 6 days after the British were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

The Spanish weren’t able to get much closer to Britain’s total by the time of the closing ceremony on Sunday but I’m sure the Tories in power in Spain are feeling envious of their allies in London who are able to distract the population from the crisis through which the country is living by calling on the Olympic ‘feel good factor’.

And will Spain now be encouraged to call a victory parade for its athletes or would that only be drawing attention to their 21st placing?