Remarks and Proposals to the Draft Decision for the Comintern Executive Following the Conference of the Three Internationals

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The Conference of the Three Internationals was held in Berlin from April 2 to 5, 1922.

A sharp struggle developed at the conference between the representatives of the II and II 1/2 Internationals on the one hand, and the Communist International on the other. The Comintern delegation put forward a proposal that a world congress should be convened, in which the trade unions and other organisations of the workers would participate, to discuss questions concerning the fight against the onset of capital, against reaction, and against preparations for new imperialist wars, concerning aid for the rehabilitation of Soviet Russia, the Treaty of Versailles, and the rehabilitation of the devastated areas. The representatives of the II International, supported by the delegation of the II 1/2 International, tried to impose unacceptable terms on the Comintern delegation, namely: the separation of Georgia from the Soviet state, renunciation of communist cells in the mass workers’ organisations and the release of political criminals. The Comintern delegation (Bukharin, Radek and C. Zetkin), while rejecting these terms, nevertheless agreed to the condition that the Soviet authorities would not apply the death penalty in the case of the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and would allow representatives of the II and II 1/2 Internationals to attend the trial. In his article “We Have Paid Too Much”, Lenin severely criticised these concessions on the part of the Comintern delegation at the Berlin Conference, which he considered erroneous (see present edition, Vol. 33, pp. 330-34).

A general declaration was adopted at the conference recognising the possibility of holding joint meetings and issuing joint statements on concrete issues. The declaration called upon all the working people to hold mass demonstrations during the Genoa Conference with slogans to fight for an eight-hour day, against unemployment, against the onset of capital upon the working class, in defence of the Russian revolution, in aid of Russia’s famine-stricken areas, for the resumption by all states of political and economic relations with Soviet Russia, for the establishment of a united proletarian front in all countries on a national and international scale. The conference went on record for the speedy convocation of a world congress and set up a steering committee of nine members (three from each International) to prepare further conferences and a congress.

However, the reformist leadership of the II and II 1/2 Internationals who accepted this agreement under pressure from the broad masses of the working people, torpedoed and sabotaged the united struggle of the working class. On May 21, 1922, a number of parties of the II and II 1/2 Internationals passed a decision to call a world congress at the Hague without the Communists. By this means the reformist leaders blocked the efforts to create a united front of the workers. In view of this the Comintern delegation at the meeting of the steering committee on May 23, 1922, in Berlin, announced its withdrawal from the Committee of Nine.

Lenin’s remarks and proposals were made to the following draft decision for the Presidium of the Comintern Executive in connection with the Berlin Conference of the Three Internationals: “1) To step up the campaign against the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries throughout the international communist press. 2) To start making systematic use of the material of the Berlin Conference for attacking every weak spot of the opponent. 3) The general appeals of the Nine not to be issued for the time being. 4) In agitation during the demonstration on April 20, to be free-spoken in criticising our opponents. 5) The various sections act according to the concrete conditions. 6) Any new steps by the delegation to be postponed until the question of ratifying the Berlin results is dealt with” (Central Party Archives, Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the CC, CPSU).

Zinoviev sent this draft to Lenin with a request that he give his opinion on it the same day before the Presidium of the Comintern Executive met.

Letters to G. Y. Zinoviev

1[edit source]

Dictated over the telephone April 11, 1922

First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI

Printed from the secretary’s notes (typewritten copy)

On Point 1 I propose the addendum: dwell at greater length 1) on the real links between our Mensheviks and S.R.s and the common front of the landowners and bourgeoisie against the Soviet government, special attention being given for this purpose to Savinkov’s pamphlet Fighting the Bolsheviks (Warsaw, 1920) and S. Ivanovich’s pamphlet The Twilight of Russian Social-Democracy, as these booklets very clearly reveal what is known, of course, from a number of other documents—namely, that Right-wing Mensheviks and S.R.s take refuge behind the name of a common party, as a matter of form, while in fact they act quite independently; 2) pay special attention to showing up the identity of our Menshevik˜ and S.R.s with the leaders of the II and II’12 Internationals, the highly pernicious nature of Otto Bauer’s recent pamphlet, which virtually proposes and preaches panic retreat in the face of capitalism. Such preaching we regard as tantamount to preaching panic flight at the front during war.

Point 2, I accept.

Re Point 3:

I have my doubts about this, as I believe that a precisely worded ruling calling for unanimity should save us from making mistakes, while general appeals on subjects clarifying the points endorsed at the Berlin Conference (defence of Soviet Russia, etc.) will be extremely useful to us, as we shall repeatedly make use of them in future to expose the muddle our opponents have got themselves into.

Re Point 4—I definitely support this.

Re Point 5—I have no objection.

Re Point 6:

The purport of this point is not clear to me. I believe that the Berlin agreement should be ratified immediately upon receipt of the official text of the adopted decisions, or, better still perhaps, it should be ratified at once with the reservation that the text being ratified was the one that was published in Pravda on 9/IV.

I would particularly ask you to arrange for the full text of the minutes of the Berlin Conference to be dispatched as quickly as possible by special courier and to check whether these minutes have been signed by the official representatives of each of the three Internationals.


2[edit source]

Dictated over the telephone April 11, 1922

First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI

Printed from the secretary’s notes (typewritten copy)

Comrade Zinoviev,

The following should be added to those points of the Comintern Executive’s decision on which we exchanged notes this morning:

Criticism of the policy of the II and II 1/2 Internationals should now be given a somewhat different character, namely, this criticism (especially at meetings attended by workers who support the II and II 1/2 Internationals, and in special leaflets and articles written for them) should tend to be of a clarifying nature, made with particular patience and thoroughness, so as not to scare away these workers with harsh words, and bring home to them the irreconcilable contradictions between the slogans their representatives have adopted in Berlin (for example, the fight against capital, the eight-hour day, defence of Soviet Russia, aid to the famine-stricken) and the entire reformist policy.

Perhaps, before publishing this, we ought to verify whether the Berlin decisions have been ratified by the II and II 1/2 Internationals.