[Marxism] 'The Comintern as a school of socialist strategy'

John Riddell johnriddell at sympatico.ca
Mon Sep 3 16:03:07 MDT 2012

Posted today on http://johnriddell.wordpress.com

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In his review of my edition of the Communist International's Fourth Congress
(1922),1 Ian Birchall warns against a "scriptural approach" to the Comintern
record, but also affirms that studying it "can be of great value." Where can
this value be found? A controversy among Marxists over this year's elections
in Greece points our way to an answer.

A sustained upsurge of mass struggles in Greece led to elections in which a
workers' party, Syriza, made a bid for governmental power. Syriza's goal was
to unite the working class around the project of a "left government" with a
far-reaching anti-austerity program. Marxist forces internationally and in
Greece divided on whether to support the left-government project.

There is an underlying question here: When is it appropriate for workers'
parties to seek to form a government? This issue was much debated in the
Communist International (Comintern) in Lenin's time. The Fourth Congress
(1922) proposed that a workers' government might be formed, initially, in a
parliamentary framework, provided that the regime rested on a revolutionary
mass movement and took steps toward challenging capitalist power. (See
"Workers' Government") A minority disagreed, maintaining that a workers'
government could only be formed after a successful socialist revolution.

Both positions have implications for Greece today. The Fourth Congress
decision implied that the Syriza left-government project was, at least,
worth consideration. The logic of the minority position was that Syriza's
"left government" project should be rejected out of hand.

A closer look at the early Comintern record, however, shows that the
"workers' government" decision did not stand alone. It formed part of a
sweeping discussion of socialist strategy....

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For the full text, see http://tinyurl.com/chmuevr

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