21st International Meeting of the Communist & Workers Parties
100th anniversary of Comintern and its significance today
Contribution of the Communist Party of India
-Pallab Sengupta, Secretary, National Council
At the outset let me express on behalf of the Communist Party of India our sincere gratitude and revolutionary greetings to the Communist Party of Turkey and the Communist Party of Greece for organising the 21st International Meeting of the Communist and Workers Parties in this beautiful city of Izmir dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Comintern.
Born out of the Great October Socialist Revolution in which the Russian working class stormed the heavens and established the Soviet state, and indissolubly linked with the name of its founder Lenin, the Third (Communist) International has an immortal place in human history. There is not a single other instance of any movement, any ideology, securing as many adherents and followers all over the world in a century, as have been secured by Marxism-Leninism and the international revolutionary movement unleashed by the Soviet Revolution and the Comintern.
The Communist International is also the International of Leninism, where the proletariat of the advanced capitalist countries of Europe and America found their natural and fighting ally in the surging national-liberation movement of the colonial, semi-colonial and dependent countries.
It is not coincidental therefore, that after its foundation 2nd March 1919 on Lenin’s initiative, in the very next year, in the Second Congress of the Comintern along with laying the foundation of a world communist party in Lenin’s 21-Point conditions of admission or affiliation to the Comintern, the other most important thesis on the national-colonial liberation movement was adopted. This was also drafted by Lenin himself.
Significance of the Comintern
Writing about the historical significance of the Comintern, Lenin stated that “the First International laid the foundation of the proletarian, international struggle for socialism; the Second International marked a period in which the soil was prepared for the broad, mass spread of the movement in a number of countries; the Third International has gathered the fruits of the work of the Second International, discarded its opportunist. . . dross, and has begun to implement the dictatorship of the proletariat” which he repeatedly characterised as the highest form of democracy. And then he added, “A new era in world history has begun. Mankind is throwing off the last form of slavery: capitalist or wage slavery.” History has borne out these prophetic words of Lenin to the letter.
It was not at all an accident that the national problems and the colonial liberation movement received such a prominent place in the deliberations and activities of the Communist International from the very beginning.
In fact, from the early years of the century and with growing emphasis Lenin had started highlighting the significance of the colonial, national liberation movement for the prospective proletarian revolution in Europe.
Time and again he stressed that in the epoch of imperialism the national liberation movement of the East was linked up with the socialist revolution in the West; that the focus of the national problem was shifting from Europe to the teeming millions covered by the vast empires of the Western powers; that a vital condition for the success of the revolutionary working class movement in the advanced capitalist countries was unqualified support to peoples struggling to overthrow imperialist, national oppression.
Following the founding Congress of the Comintern, the executive committee or the Executive Committee of the Communist International decided to hold the second International Congress in August 1920 despite Soviet Russia has been subjected to an armed blockade by both land and sea. Being from India, we count this Congress to be extremely significant, for it, in the history of international communist movement, delved deeply into the colonial question and tried to create a roadmap for liberating the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America by initiating a democratic revolution--much contrary to the understanding of the representatives of colonial countries, like Comrade M.N.Roy. Comrade Roy, a delegate from the newly founded Communist Party of Mexico, supplemented Comrade Lenin's theses of democratic revolution by upholding the socialist one. His incorrect suggestions, however, were outvoted by the majority of the delegates.
Comintern and India
The most important international conference of Communist and Workers' Parties after the Second Congress of the Comintern was the Sixth Congress, held at Moscow between July 17 and September 1,1928. This Congress was an important affair for India as well. By that time the CPI was established in the subcontinent, and the delegates who participated in the Congress, albeit on a personal basis, were at least able to present their views on account of the work they had done in their motherland. Another important aspect of this Congress was the updating of Comrade Lenin's theses on the Colonial question by Finnish leader Comrade Otto Kuusinen. The decisions laid down in the document had a far reaching radical impact on the working styles of Indian communists. It led to left leaning errors as well. But, at the same time, it provided the much needed impetus to the development of radical working-class offensive.
Following the Sixth Congress, Indian Communist and trade union organizers were booked under the Meerut Conspiracy Trial. It was a British conspiracy to nip in the bud the increasing popularity of the Communist ideology. But things ultimately turned counterproductive for the imperialists. The Meerut prisoners challenged the English crown from the dock, and composed the first program of the communist party in the form of the draft Platform for Action. The trial made the Indian Communist a household name in all big cities of the country and gave them International popularity as well.
But when the under trial convicts were freed of the charges levelled against them by British colonialism, the international political sphere was getting more and more tense due to the advent of fascism in Germany. Italy had already pioneered the way, and now Hitler was developing it to its cruellest form. Under such a situation the Comintern could easily fathom that it was no longer possible to stick to its sectarian Sixth Congress line. It therefore held its Seventh Congress in 1935, and carved out the weapon of popular united fronts to combat fascism. Comrade Dimitrov, in his first speech, thus, stated: "The victory of fascism arouses the deep hatred and indignation of the masses, helps to revolutionise them, and provides a powerful stimulus for a united front of the proletariat against fascism." Those, who were deeply bothered about the development of working Class Movement in India, found great hope in this understanding and therefore was born the famous Dutt-Bradley Thesis (Anti-imperialist People's Front in India), which popularised the aims and ideals of the Communist Party of India and bolstered its organisational powers.
Indeed the Soviet revolution enhanced the sweep, the pace and the militancy of all national freedom struggles particularly in Asia. It deepened their socio-economic consciousness and increased their confidence in ultimate victory. Sun Yat Sen of China, Tilak, Tagore, Nehru and many other stalwarts and thinkers of the national emancipatory movements in Asia and Africa paid glowing tributes to the national and social liberationist role of the Soviet Union. Mahatma Gandhi, with all his known views on the question of violence and non-violence, stated: “There is no questioning the fact that the Bolshevik ideal has behind it the purest sacrifice of countless men and women who have given up their all for its sake, and an ideal that is sanctified by the sacrifices of such master spirits as Lenin cannot go in vain; the noble example of their renunciation will be emblazened for ever and quicken and purify the ideal as time passes.”
Another important aspect of the Comintern under the leadership of Lenin proved that the national independence of the erstwhile colonial and semi-colonial countries can be guaranteed only if the national democratic revolution grows over into a socialist revolution; that this struggle calls for the leadership of the working class headed by a mass Communist Party capable of mobilising and uniting the peasantry and all other democratic, anti-imperialist, anti-feudal elements in the country; that, even in countries where the working class has hardly developed, revolutionary democratic parties orientated towards scientific socialism are indispensable; that in the final analysis militant mass struggles alone can bring about a decisive change in the situation—this vital truth has never been as true as it is today.
The historic victory of the anti-fascist forces in the Second World War to which, again, the Soviet Union and the international communist movement made the greatest contribution, naturally unleashed a tidal wave of national liberation struggles in all oppressed countries, a wave which has already carried almost all of them to national freedom and thoroughly disintegrated the imperialist colonial system.
Question of Communist Unity today
All we know how the Comintern was dissolved following fascist Germany’s invasion of the USSR. This attack changed the character of the war and defining it as anti-fascist and on May 15, 1943, in the midst of the war, the Comintern was dissolved. After the Second World War COMINFORM was formed for exchanging information and coordinating action among the communist parties that also dissolved in 1956.
But these developments did not stop the united actions of the Communist Parties. Twelve parties meeting in 1957, meeting of the Communist and Workers parties in 1960 and 1969 are the examples of such united actions though Sino-Soviet conflicts in sixties was responsible for the splits in many communist and Workers parties.
Today when the whole world is passing through a very difficult time due to imperialist and neo-liberal offensive where right wing forces are trying to form the fascistic rule everywhere the responsibility of the Communist and Workers parties are immense to defend the rights of the peoples and to wage relentless battle against these dark forces to continue its struggle for peace and radical changes of their respective societies for achieving socialism.
In this context the united actions of the Communist and Workers parties are very important. The forms and norms for achieving the unity of the international communist movement have naturally changed since the dissolution of the Comintern. At the time of dissolution, the ECCI clearly stated that with the maturing' and expansion of Communist Parties in various counties and considering the complicated national conditions in which they had to work and the responsibilities they had to carry as a result of their growth, guidance the world movement from an organised centre was no longer either desirable or feasible.
But we believe this position do not negate to establish a new form of cooperation among the communist and workers parties at present time.
Here we have to be very clear, however, that under any and all circumstances, the unity of the international communist movement must have a form. The CPI believes in this respect that the present form of organising international meeting of the communist and workers parties is one of the best forms to be appreciated, as present form guaranteed the right of the each party to work out its national policies in accordance with the condition in which it has to work without interference by any other Party in its internal matters.
Communists and present situation in India
Activities of Comintern were, indeed, an affair of the colonial period. But today, when Indian ruling classes, with the corporate bourgeoisie at its helm, is going by the dictates of the world finance capital and are resorting to fascist hooliganism and polarising people on religious line, curbing all democratic and human rights, attacks on all sections of the society, bypassing even Parliament - the outcome of the 7th Congress of Comintern gained significance once again. The onslaught of hindutva fascism has become so intense that the question of forging popular united front with all left, democratic, secular and patriotic sections in the country have resurfaced.
Our Party, Communist Party of India is moving forward in this direction along with all other Communist and Left Parties to build such a front which will not only fight against the communal fascist forces inside the country but also will declare its unflinching solidarity with the people of Palestine, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries who are fighting against imperialism, authoritarianism, and neo-liberal offensives for independence, peace, social justice and finally for Socialism.
We believe such political position and actions will be the best way for the Communist revolutionaries to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Comintern.