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How Pioneer Communists Assessed the Russian Soviet Republic

January 29, 2021

The following text is the second-last of a series of posts analyzing the early Communist International, which are listed at ‘Lenin’s Comintern Revisited.’


  1. Resisting Imperialist Intervention
  2. Correcting Colonialist Abuses of Soviet Power
  3. Weighing the New Economic Policy
  4. Providing Material Aid to Soviet Republic
  5. Parrying a Social-Democratic Intrusion
  6. Debating the New Economic Policy

By John Riddell: The Communist International (or Comintern) was founded in Moscow in 1919, with the goal of helping to extend the socialist revolution that had taken place in Russia across Europe and around the world.  

Emblem of Russian Federated Soviet Socialist Republic

The Russian Communist (Bolshevik) party that had led in establishing Soviet power was respected in the International as a prime source of strategic and tactical guidance. Yet the Comintern’s statutes did not accord any primacy to the Russian Communist Party (RCP). Like other Comintern sections, the Russian party was answerable to the International’s world congresses.

Comintern gatherings frequently discussed developments in Soviet Russia, organized material and political aid to the Soviet republic, and, on one occasion, proposed reforms to the Soviet structures that were rapidly implemented. Let us consider six significant occasions during Lenin’s lifetime when non-Russian Comintern parties discussed or influenced political and social issues in the Russian Soviet republic.

1. Resisting Imperialist Intervention (1919-20)

As the Comintern’s founding congress gathered in March 1919, the counterrevolutionary war against the Soviet government was approaching its most intense period. The Soviet Red Army faced hostile armies based in Siberia, the Caucasus, Ukraine, the Baltic states and, in the far North, Murmansk. Anti-Soviet “White Guard” armies based on the former Russian ruling classes were armed and reinforced by military contingents from Britain, France, the U.S., Japan and ten other countries, totalling about a quarter million interventionist military personnel.

Nonetheless, the peril of intervention as such was not discussed at the Comintern’s March 1919 founding congress. Instead, a report by Leon Trotsky, head of the Soviet armed forces, outlined how the Red Army had been constructed over the previous year, placing the Soviet republic “in an incomparably better position” than a year previously.[1]

The congress adopted a short resolution drafted by Lenin that defined key tasks of the newly formed International, stressing the need to explain the historic significance of Soviet power, organize soviets of workers and poor peasants, and winning a “stable majority” within these bodies.[2]

As the congress convened, opposition to the imperialist intervention was arising in the form of mass protests and strikes in many countries and widespread mutinies among within the interventionist armies. Only a month after the Comintern congress, sailors of France’s Black Sea Fleet seized many major warships and forced France to end its intervention in the crucial Ukrainian arena of the Russian Civil War. The French withdrawal contributed to the decisive defeat of Ukraine-based anti-Soviet army in October 1919.

In February 1920, the Polish army, in alliance with remaining Russian White forces, invaded Soviet Ukraine. The Soviet Red Army turned back the invaders and pressed into Poland. Initiatives by the British and French governments to aid the Polish regime provoked a renewed upsurge of pro-Soviet solidarity that effectively cut short such interventionist plans. In Britain, dockworkers blocked munitions shipments for Poland, and trade union leaders called for a one-day strike to halt the war against Soviet Russia.

The Comintern’s Second World Congress, meeting in July-August 1920, adopted an appeal, “Let No Ship, No Train Leave for White Guard Poland.”[3] Yet mass opposition to the war of intervention was far broader than the forces led by the nascent Comintern or by any political current. The largely spontaneous solidarity movement blocked imperialist intervention in the Polish conflict and, more generally, made a decisive contribution to the survival of the Russian Soviet republic at the time of greatest peril.


2. Correcting Colonialist Abuses of Soviet Power

In September 1920, the Comintern convened more than 2,000 revolutionary activists of 37 nationalities in Baku, Azerbaijan, to proclaim the advent of a global anti-colonial freedom struggle. The much celebrated Baku Congress is less remembered, however, for its contribution to combating colonialist abuses within Soviet Russia. This initiative stands as the only instance where a Comintern gathering was responsible for initiating a change of policy within the Soviet republic itself.[4]

Cover, Constitution of RSFSR, 1918

These chauvinist abuses had become evident in Soviet Turkestan during a lengthy period when its communications with central Soviet authorities were cut off by White Guard armies. Under tsarism, the region’s mostly Muslim population had been subjected to Russian settler colonialism and racist discrimination, and these evils persisted in the first period of Soviet rule. In the autumn of 1919, the soviets in Turkestan initiated measures to correct such abuses, but such misconduct was far from fully overcome when the Baku Congress convened a year later.

On the second day of debates at Baku, Tashpolad Narbutabekov, chair of the caucus of non-Communist delegates at the congress, condemned conditions in Turkestan. Addressing the Russian soviet government, Narbutabekov declared:

Our Turkestani masses have to fight on two fronts: against the reactionary mullahs in our midst, and against the narrow nationalist inclinations of the local Europeans…. Remove your counterrevolutionaries, we say; remove your alien elements who spread national discord; remove your colonizers who are now working behind the mask of communism![5]

Narbutabekov’s concerns were elaborated in detail in a joint resolution signed by 21 congress delegates, mostly from Soviet-ruled Asia but including three from India and Iran. The statement declared, in part:

The Commissions and commissars sent from the center to the hastily declared “eastern republics” and “regions” saw their task as being to abolish as quicky as possible the “autonomies of the Eastern peoples”…. Further, there are the colonizing elements of the settler populations, tsarist officials, and agents of Russian industrial capital – products of tsarism now cut adrift…. [T]hey support “centralization,” understanding it as the continuation of the old tsarist policy and implementing it in essentially just this way.[6]

The resolution also cited the lesson of the 1920 Soviet-Polish war, where Polish working people, long mistreated by Russian tsarism, were swayed by “mistrust and hatred of the [Russian] oppressor nation.” Anti-Russian resentments among the Polish masses played a role in the defeat of the Red Army during its advance into Poland in the second half of August.[7]

In his closing remarks to the Baku Congress, Comintern President Grigorii Zinoviev endorsed the criticisms and pledged corrective action. Action followed immediately: 27 congress delegates traveled to Moscow, where they discussed their criticisms and proposals with the Communist Party Political Bureau. A resolution was adopted, based on a draft by Lenin and incorporating several points made in the resolution of the 21 Baku delegates.[8]

During the years that followed, the Soviet government unrolled a sweeping program to assure national autonomy, counter national oppression and combat relics of colonialism; see “Nationality’s Role in Social Liberation: The Soviet Legacy.”


3. Weighing Russia’s New Economic Policy

The Comintern’s Third Congress, held in July-August 1921, is distinguished among early Comintern gatherings by the criticisms of Soviet policy voiced there by oppositional currents based both within and outside the Russian Soviet Republic.

A full day was devoted to discussion of the Russian Communist Party’s policies, including a report by Lenin; speeches by Nikolai Bukharin, Leon Trotsky, and Karl Radek; a presentation Alexandra Kollontai for the Workers’ Opposition in the Russian party; and Alexander Schwab and Jan Appel for the Communist Workers’ Party of Germany (KAPD).[9]

The discussion focused on the Russian party’s adoption in March 1921 of the “New Economic Policy (NEP),” which aimed above all at restoration of economic relations between the city and countryside. The NEP permitted peasants to freely market their grain, restored freedom of commerce, provided scope for small-scale capitalist enterprises, and subjected state-owned enterprises and administration to budgetary controls.The Russian party also proposed to seek agreements (“concessions”) with capitalists abroad for tightly regulated investment in the Soviet economy. According to Lenin, the NEP policies represented a form of “state capitalism,” a step forward toward a fully socialist economy in which workers retained control of the state and the economy’s commanding heights.

With the close of the civil war on Russian soil, “A certain equilibrium has undoubtedly set in … and a very unstable one it is, of course,” Lenin stated. “ We must take advantage of this respite.”[10]

Lenin’s report included a quotation from a private letter of Frederick Engels written in 1884 with reference to the revolution of 1848: “Pure democracy … at the moment of revolution [acquires] a temporary importance as the last sheet-anchor of the bourgeoisie … during a time of collective reaction centred round pure democracy.”[11] This passage was also included in the resolution Lenin drafted on policies of the Russian party. It was not addressed in congress discussion. The passage may be interpreted as confirming that the Soviet government did not intend to concede an open field to political currents hostile to the revolution.

Discussion of Lenin’s report began with a speech by Alexander Schwab representing the KAPD, a small ultraleft party in Germany recognized by the Comintern as a sympathizing section. Schwab argued that Soviet Russia’s efforts to forge economic ties with capitalist concerns will “simultaneously contribute to strengthening capitalism in the relevant capitalist countries…. [A] certain conflict of interest necessarily arises between the interests of revolutionary workers in the Western countries and those of the Soviet government.”

Schwab cited the case of the recent coal strike in Britain, which, he claimed, disrupted implementation of the Soviet-British trade agreement.[12]

Another KAPD delegate, Jan Appel (Hempel), repeated Schwab’s contentions in more radical form. warning against the danger that international capitalism would rise up again within the Soviet republic. Appel proposed to counter this trend by speeding up the course of revolution in the West through economic sabotage aimed at disorganizing production and undermining capitalist profits. 

Workers Opposition’ in Russia

NEP policy was also criticized by Alexandra Kollontai on behalf of the “Workers’ Opposition” in the Russian Communist Party.[13] “These concessions rob the working masses of their confidence in Communism,” she said. The Russian party was neglecting workers’ capacity for “self-activity,” she stated. “A great force in Russia that has not been fully utilised.” She hailed the “new creative force of the proletariat” that “will educate the new human being who will really help us in implementing a new social order.”[14]

The KAPD delegates spoke at length under many congress agenda points and also canvassed left-leaning delegates from nine countries regarding the notion of consolidating a left current within the International. Response was poor, and no action was taken. Shortly thereafter, the KAPD left the International.

The Workers’ Opposition submitted an appeal to the International’s next major gathering, the enlarged conference of its Executive Committee held February 21–March 4, 1922. The appeal was rejected with four abstentions; soon after the Workers’ Opposition ceased functioning.[15] Beginning in 1924, however, several oppositional currents emerged in the Russian/Soviet Communist Party, led at different times by Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Nikolai Bukharin. Criticisms of Soviet policy by such currents were echoed by sympathetic Communist currents abroad. Beginning in 1924, as bureaucratic forces strengthened their grip in the International, such dissident currents were increasingly silenced or expelled.


4. Providing Material Aid to the Soviet Republic

In 1921, the economic breakdown in Soviet Russia resulting from blockade and seven years of devastating war led to a deadly famine, which affected 40 million of its citizens. Workers abroad responded with a massive campaign of proletarian aid, termed by the Fourth Congress “the mightiest and most extended international solidarity campaign in the history of the workers’ movement.”[16]

The Soviet government reported fully on the extent of the crisis. It accepted material aid from a wide range of forces, including not only pro-Soviet associations but solidarity efforts by workers’ organizations critical of the Soviet Republic and charitable institutions linked to the capitalist class abroad, such as the American Relief Association headed by businessman and politician Herbert Hoover.

The Communist International launched its own global effort to assist victims of the famine, headed by Willi Münzenberg. The Comintern effort aimed, first, at organizing a global relief organization independent of the bourgeois efforts and, second, at unifying the entire workers’ movement in the campaign, regardless of party or trade-union affiliation. International Workers’ Aid was launched in Berlin on 12 September 1921 and lasted into the mid-1930s.

The campaign represented the Comintern’s first attempt to achieve a workers’ united front in practice. Although unity was not achieved on an organizational level, “broad masses of non-Communist workers” were involved, Münzenberg reported, including in countries where Communist parties were illegal.[17]

Comintern initiatives during the first year generated a fund of $2.5 million, which was used to send 30,000 tons of food and other relief goods to Russia. During the months of famine, Workers Aid cared for about 200,000 Soviet citizens.

These efforts also found expression in some economic initiatives within Russia. For example, relief activity brought into Russia a large quantity of tin cans; International Workers Aid organized cooperatives to recycle them into reusable metal. By autumn 1922, Münzenberg reported, Workers Aid employed 30,000 Soviet factory workers and raised funds equivalent about half of Soviet investments into heavy industry.

At the Fourth Congress, Münzenberg reported on a new campaign to raise a million-dollar loan to finance Workers’ Aid businesses in Russia. The loan had won significant investment from privileged layers, he stated, citing participation from the Deutsche Bank and the Brussels state bank.[18]

Long after the 1921 famine crisis had passed, the International Workers’ Aid effort was remembered as a significant Comintern contribution to the workers’ and peasants’ republic at a moment of great need.


5. Parrying a Social-Democratic Intrusion

In 1922 the Comintern was drawn into unexpected involvement in Soviet political life as a by-product of its newly adopted united-front policy. Comintern delegates took part in a joint conference of leadership delegations including representatives from the “Second” and “Two-and-a-Half” Internationals, which represented, respectively, openly reformist and centrist currents of world Social Democracy. The declared aim of the gathering was to convene a conference of the world workers’ movement, embracing all political currents in workers’ parties, trade unions, and other mass organizations. The 11-person Comintern delegation was headed by Karl Radek and also included Nikolai Bukharin and Clara Zetkin.

When the conference convened, April 2 1922, the Comintern was confronted with protests by Social Democratic delegates against the pending trial in Russia of members of the Socialist-Revolutionary (SR) party on charges of maintaining ties with Anglo–French imperialism and complicity in armed attacks on the Soviet state.

The SR party had led several revolts against Soviet rule during the Russian civil war. The many acts of individual terrorism by SR members included the wounding of Lenin. In order to avert total collapse of the talks, Comintern delegates agreed to make two concessions, namely that the Soviet government would (1) permit representations of the three Internationals to be present at the trial, and (2) in case of conviction, would not apply the death penalty. The Berlin conference concluded by adopting a common declaration setting up a follow-up body, the “Committee of Nine,” with three representatives of each International, whose stated purpose was to organize the world congress of labour.

We Have Paid Too Much’

Three days after the congress ended, Lenin published a comment entitled “We Have Paid Too Much,” stating that the Comintern representatives had been wrong to agree to conditions regarding the trial of SR members. Lenin did not oppose participating in the Comintern’s participation in the Conference of the Three Internationals and did not reject making concessions in principle. He stated, however:

The Socialist-Revolutionaries have shot at Communists and have organised revolts against them, and that they have done this actually, and sometimes officially, in a united front with the whole of the international reactionary bourgeoisie. The question is – what concession has the international bourgeoisie made to us in return? There can only be one reply to this question, and it is that no concession has been made to us whatever.[19]

When the Committee of Nine met on 22 April 1922, representatives of the Second International made clear their unwillingness to proceed with the hoped-for world congress of labour. Given that the Two-and-a-Half International’s representatives refused to force the issue, the Committee of Nine broke apart.

When the Second Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI convened in Moscow on 7 June 1922, the trial of the accused SR members was its first item of business. Eleven Comintern leaders were assigned to take part in the trial in various capacities, including by providing political defense for those accused who had “seen the error of their ways and now stand with the proletarian revolution.”

The Second Enlarged Plenum also approved “the activity of our delegates in Berlin” against the votes of the French delegates, who were at that time opposed to united front policy in principle.

The trial began the following day and lasted into August. The main defendants benefited from a vigorous defense, including from representatives of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals. They were ultimately convicted and condemned to death, but the sentence was subsequently commuted and modified to a five-year imprisonment. The lesser defendants who pleaded guilty were pardoned.[20]

The intrusion by the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals into the case of the SR defendants illustrated a hazard of making united-front proposals to forces hostile to the Soviet republic: such negotiations could be utilized for an attempt to undermine the Soviet government.

Assessing the experience at the Second ECCI Plenum, Radek pointed out that the Comintern had carefully restricted its proposals to measures that coincided with the declared goals of other participants, but had still not achieved agreement. Future negotiations of this sort, Radek stated, should be restricted to “cases when we can achieve solid results in this field” on “specific demands related to specific situations.”

Other such proposals soon followed but did not meet with success.[21]


6. Debating the New Economic Policy

Midway through its extended discussion of the united front and related matters, the Comintern’s Fourth Congress paused for three days to hear reports by Lenin, Trotsky, and Zetkin commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. No discussion followed these speeches; Zetkin drafted a brief resolution that was adopted as the congress closed. Taken together, the reports and resolution reflect the collective appraisal of the Soviet Republic at that time by Communists worldwide.[22]

Lenin, Trotsky, and Zetkin all described the progress of the Soviet republics in the NEP’s first year as the first stage of an economic and social recovery. The peasantry, disaffected only a year earlier, “are satisfied with their present position,” Lenin said. There had been a “general revival in light industry,” which had improved workers’ living conditions, but the condition of heavy industry was still “grave.”

Trotsky noted that Russia was still “poorer than the country was before the War and before the Revolution.” Moreover, these modest gains had been achieved through a partial reintroduction of capitalism.

Lenin and Zetkin called the resulting conditions “state capitalism.” In Trotsky’s view, the term was not appropriate as a description of economic relations in a workers’ state, but his analysis of economic conditions was similar. The grave continuing problems in Russia were depicted unsparingly, especially by Lenin (“backward and uneducated as we are”), who stressed that this was a period of retreat in which Communists must strive to study and learn.[23]

Both Lenin and Trotsky minimised the possibility of Soviet Russia’s receiving significant aid through investment from or trade with the capitalist world. In the following month, Lenin led a successful struggle to reaffirm the Soviet government’s monopoly of foreign trade, a bulwark against economic disruption by pressures of the world-capitalist market.

‘Capitalism Has Come Again’

“Capitalism has come again,” Zetkin said, “although its power . . . seemed to have been banished from the sacred revolutionary soil of Soviet Russia once and for all.” It had reappeared in the form not only of small peasant operations but “those receiving leases and concessions,” in the search for “the largest profit possible.” This meant the return of “the contradiction between capital and labour … in all its ruthlessness and severity.”

Trotsky, citing railway transport as an example, described how the controlled reintroduction of market relations facilitated planning by providing a link between production and social needs. As for privately owned industry, Trotsky emphasised that it remained relatively small in scope.

Zetkin, however, pointed out that capitalist pressures were also expressed through state enterprises – now subjected to strict accounting and forced to live mainly from market revenue – and from Russia’s renewed insertion in the world capitalist market. These pressures could bring the workers’ state into conflicts with the interests of some workers, she stated – conflicts that “must be resolved . . . in the interests of the proletariat as a class, in its entirety.”[24]

State capitalism in Russia is “of a special kind,” Lenin said, because “we hold all the commanding positions.” However, exercising control was difficult because of the character of the state apparatus: “very often this machinery operates against us.” At the top are “no more than … at the outside several thousands of our own people. Down below, however, there are hundreds of thousands of old officials whom we got from the tsar and from bourgeois society and who, partly deliberately and partly unwittingly, work against us.” Affirming the urgency of “thoroughly overhauling our state apparatus,” he prefigured the main theme of his struggle against bureaucratism in the few months left to him before his final illness removed him from political activity.[25]

Trotsky reviewed the attempts to eliminate capitalist economic relations under “war communism” (1918–21), explaining the Bolsheviks’ hopes at that time that revolution in the West would make possible the evolution of these emergency measures into a solid basis for building socialism.

The discussion on Soviet Russia wound its way through the Congress, with notable contributions by Ivan Teodorovich on the agrarian question (Session 21), Arthur Henriet and L.M. Khinchuk on cooperatives (Session 23), Sofia Smidovich and Varsenika Kasparova on the struggles of women (Session 24), and Nadezhda Krupskaya on popular education (Session 25).

‘Indigenous Village Communism’ in Russia

A comment by Zetkin on Russian village life set off a significant exchange on Soviet agriculture. Zetkin pointed to the “old and deeply felt traditions of indigenous village communism” among the peasantry, saying that “these beginnings of communist understanding are systematically encouraged and promoted” by the Soviet state. Trotsky recalled that Marx had envisaged such a possibility. However, Ivan Teodorovich, Soviet Commissar of Agriculture, hailed the efforts of peasants under the NEP to intensify cultivation by shifting authority over land use from the community to individuals. But Tahar Boudengha, a delegate from Tunisia, pointing to patriarchal communism in North Africa, said “we can nonetheless develop it, reform it, and replace it by fully developed communism.”[26]

Among the other issues raised were the implications of the NEP experience for communists outside Russia. Bukharin explained that the NEP had “general applicability” – that it is “not only a strategic retreat but is also the correct solution of a broad organisational and social problem,” namely the relationship between the portion of the economy organised directly by the state, on the one hand, and on the other the “peasants and millions of small producers.” Zinoviev had previously explained that this was the collective view of the Bolshevik leadership.[27]

The general applicability of the Soviet Russian model to other socialist revolutions was taken up in Zetkin’s speech, which spanned two days. Her remarks served in part as a tacit response to criticisms of Bolshevik policy raised by Rosa Luxemburg in her essay, The Russian Revolution, written while she was imprisoned in 1918 and published posthumously in 1922.

Zetkin strongly defended several major aspects of Bolshevik policy criticized by Luxemburg, such as on the agrarian and national questions. On another point, however, her response was more nuanced, namely: the extent to which the Soviet experience defined the shape of future socialist revolutions.

Zetkin’s Assessment: ‘Certainly Not the Only Form’

In her pamphlet, The Russian Revolution, Luxemburg had evaluated the actions of “Lenin and his comrades” as follows: 

By their determined revolutionary stand, their exemplary strength in action, and their unbreakable loyalty to international socialism, they have contributed whatever could possibly be contributed under such devilishly hard conditions. The danger begins only when they make a virtue of necessity and want to freeze into a complete theoretical system all the tactics forced upon them by these fatal circumstances, and want to recommend them to the international proletariat as a model of socialist tactics.[28]

Zetkin’s analysis of this question, while differing in emphasis, was actually similar in its basic thrust to Luxemburg’s text:

The proletarian dictatorship’s severity, its measures of terror, are not freely chosen expressions of the revolution’s will. They were, rather, forced on it by the counter-revolution. And they have a great goal. By taking bad measures, they serve to prevent what is even worse….

Soviet Russia as a proletarian state stands firm. It is the first form of proletarian state in the epoch of transformation from capitalism to full communism. Certainly, it is not the only form, and this must be borne in mind, for the historically given conditions for establishment of a proletarian state are varied. But, still, it is the first and as yet the only state with a proletarian dictatorship. Given this fact, all that it does and achieves and also its mistakes and weaknesses are fruitful and meaningful for the world proletariat and the world-revolution.[29]

A comment by Bukharin on Soviet Russia has been held by some historians to prefigure the later subordination of the Comintern to Soviet foreign-policy interests, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. In his report on the Comintern’s programme, not adopted by the Congress, Bukharin claimed that, in the event of a military alliance between a proletarian state such as Soviet Russia and a bourgeois state, workers in the bourgeois state should ‘contribute to the victory of such an alliance’ – which could conceivably mean supporting their own capitalist government in a war. The Bolshevik leader probably had in mind the Rapallo Treaty and other agreements concluded by Russia and Germany that year, which included provisions for military collaboration. The existence of these agreements, however, did not lead the German Communists to lessen their efforts to overthrow the German state.[30]

There was no suggestion during the Congress that defence of the national interests of Soviet Russia had priority for the Comintern. Soviet foreign policy and Comintern interests were regarded as identical, as Zinoviev pointed out in his opening report. He cited Lenin’s belief that the leading role of the Russian Party in the Comintern would soon be ended by the establishment of Soviet republics in advanced countries. Zetkin affirmed Marx’s statement that “the socialist revolution cannot be consummated within national limits” as a central theme of Bolshevik policy. Trotsky defined Soviet policy as “sticking it out until the working class of Europe and the rest of the world has taken state power.” According to the congress resolution on Soviet Russia, “Proletarian revolution can never fully triumph in a single country. Rather it must be victorious internationally, as a world-revolution.”[31]

A Relationship Transformed

In late 1923, the team of assigned by the Russian Communist Party to guide International, made up of Lenin, Zinoviev, Trotsky, Radek, and Bukharin, fractured. Trotsky and Radek now adhered to a left-wing opposition in the Russian party. Lenin had been forced by illness to withdraw from Comintern work in late 1922; he died in January 1924. Zinoviev and Bukharin also joined opposition currents in 1925 and 1928, respectively. The leadership of the Russian party and Comintern coalesced around Joseph Stalin and his supporters, a process completed by the end of the decade.

Opposition currents within the Soviet Communist Party won supporters in other Comintern parties, who then raised criticisms of some Soviet Communist policies. The leadership of the increasingly bureaucratized Comintern responded, beginning in 1924, by silencing or expelling such dissident groups in its member parties.



[1]. John Riddell, ed., Founding the Communist International: Proceedings and Documents of the First Congress March 1919 (hereinafter 1WC), New York: Pathfinder 1987, p. 86.

[2]. Riddell, ed., 1WC, p. 164.

[3]. Riddell, ed., Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples Unite: Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress, 1920, New York: Pathfinder, 1991, vol. 1, pp. 135–9.

[4]. Resources on the Baku Congress:

[5]. Riddell, ed., To See the Dawn, p. 107.

[6]. Riddell, ed., To See the Dawn, p. 294.

[7]. Riddell, ed., “Corrections Must Be Made and Made Quickly,” To See the Dawn, pp. 292–303.

[8]. Riddell, ed., To See the Dawn, p. 215–17; 302–9..

[9]. See Riddell, ed., To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921, Leiden/Chicago: Brill/Haymarket Books, 2015,  pp. 651–704.

[10]. Riddell, ed., To the Masses, pp. 656–7.

[11]. Riddell, ed., To the Masses,p 976.

[12]. Riddell, ed., To the Masses, pp. 672–3.

[13]. The “Workers’ Opposition” was a group within the Russian CP, formed in September 1920 and led by Kollontai together with Aleksandr Shlyapnikov, S.P. Medvedev, and others. It called for trade-union control of industrial production and greater autonomy for CP fractions in the unions.  Following its censure aat the party’s Eleventh Congress in March–April 1922, the Workers’ Opposition ceased organized activity.

[14]. Riddell, ed., To the Masses, pp. 681–82.

[15]. Mike Taber, ed., The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Minutes of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922–23. Leiden/Chicago: Brill/Haymarket Books, 2018, pp. 10, 181–82.

[16]. Riddell, ed., Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, Leiden/Chicago: Brill/Haymarket Books, 2011, p. 1070.

[17]. Taber, ed., Crossroads,p. 198-9.

[18]. For Münzenberg’s report, see Riddell, ed., United Front, p. 623–47; for the resolution, see p. 960.

[19]. V.I. Lenin, “We Have Paid Too Much,” in Taber, ed., Crossroads, pp. 374–77.

[20]. Taber, ed., Crossroads, pp. 267–71, 344, 370–77..

[21]. Taber. ed., Crossroads, p. 285; Riddell, ed., United Front, pp. 1117–8.

[22]. Riddell, ed., United Front, pp. 293–435, 1103–4.

[23]. Riddell, ed., United Front, pp. 299–300 (Lenin); 364, 354 (Trotsky).

[24]. Riddell, ed., United Front, pp. 329 (Zetkin), 355–6 (Trotsky), 330–1 (Zetkin).

[25]. Riddell, ed., United Front, pp. 301–2.

[26]. Riddell, ed., United Front, pp. 327 (Zetkin), 352 (Trotsky), 762 (Teodorovich), 705 (Boudengha). Zetkin’s interest in this topic may have derived in part from Luxemburg’s study on primitive communism, which formed part of her lectures on political economy at the SPD party school in Berlin and survive as a posthumous text. Luxemburg concluded, however, that primitive communism had collapsed totally and irredeemably under the impact of capitalist expansion. See Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson, eds., The Rosa Luxemburg Reader,New York: Monthly Review, 2004, pp. 71–110. Thanks to Kevin Anderson for this suggestion.

[27]. Riddell, ed., United Front, pp. 493 (Bukharin), 71–2, 123 (Zinoviev).

[28]. Rosa Luxemburg, The Rosa Luxemburg Reader, Chapter 8, New York: Monthly Review, 2004, p. 309.

[29]. Riddell, ed., United Front, pp. 316, 336.

[30]. Riddell, ed., United Front,pp. 496.

[31]. Riddell, ed., United Front,pp. 95, 73–4 (Zinoviev); 320 (Zetkin); 361 (Trotsky); 1103–4 (resolution).

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