The Commintern

Adam Rose adam at
Thu Oct 10 04:13:40 MDT 1996

Jon Flanders writes:
>   But I think there is a larger consideration. The Bolsheviks were scarred by
> the Second International's capitulation to war frenzy, and were determined at
> all costs to prevent that in the the Third.

>   By using organizational means to achieve a political goal, however, I think
> they created a greater problem in the end. I don't see any substitute for
> workers learning from experience, even if that means that they elect the
> "wrong" people.

This is quite a complex discussion, and also quite important. Gary has also
mentioned it in passing.

A few points :

i) The Bolsheviks did intervene in the affairs of the new CP's, but they
did so politically and not organisationally, by and large. Direct
organisational intervention was a feature of Stalinism.

ii) Unfortunately, not a single one of the other CP's had gone through their
own organic learning period, where the tradition of a non ultra left
opposition to reformism could emerge in that country itself.

iii) The CP's were formed as the revolutionary wave was in decline, ie
>from 1919 onwards. This amplified their mistakes, and made it harder
to "translate" the 14 years of Bolshevik experience "from the Russian"
in double quick time.

iv) The other CP's ultra left and opportunist fuck ups led them to rely
on Russian leadership at the precise moment ( 1923 onwards ) when the
degeneration of the Russian Revolution started to have a serious effect
on the quality of the advice coming from Russia. This is the period
when Zinoviev was the leading light in the international.

v) The short cuts adopted by the Bolsheviks to overcome the inexperience
of the new CP's VERY NEARLY worked : Germany 1923 was a VERY close thing.
They were RIGHT to try , and nearly always RIGHT in their interventions
in the other CP's. And these years have left us with a goldmine of
revolutionary strategy and tactics, which alone justifies the attempt, the
first, only, and nearly successful attempt to actually organise a world

vi) Most importantly, the Bolshevik tradition is far more than simply
"democratic centralism" , important though this is. There is also a
whole POLITICAL tradition re: ultra leftism, reformism, centrism, and
nationalism. This political tradition is MORE important than the
organisational tradition : the organisational consequences flow FROM
the politics, NOT the other way round.

By and large, attacks on this organisational tradition come from
people who have rejected this POLITICAL tradition, but who are too
dishonest politically to open a direct attack on the Bolsheviks politics.

This POLITICAL tradition arose within the context of the 2nd International,
yet represented a qualitative break from its mechanical, passive,
undialectical,  "Marxism". [ This description of 2nd International Marxism
does not exclude the ultra left tendency within the 2nd International ].


Adam Rose


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