On 2-6 March 1919 the future of humanity started to organise itself in defiance of the entire power structure of the past and the present. The future was the Communist International, aka the Comintern or Third International, declaring not only to the international proletariat but to all the wretched of the earth that the age of revolutions had started and would soon result with their victory. The past and the present, imperialist capitalism and all the pre-capitalist ruling classes around the world that had already become its handmaids trembled with fear.
Not that the Comintern was the first and only international organising drive of the world proletariat. These was the International Workingmen’s Association (1864-1872), aka as the First International, under the leadership of Marx and later also Engels. There was the Second International (1889-1914), morally guided by Engels at its birth, which organised almost all countries of Europe, but ended up in outright betrayal of internationalism when World War I broke out. There was later the Fourth International established in 1938 by Trotsky and his comrades, which was an audacious attempt to give continuity to the revolutionary Marxist instrument created by the Comintern in the face of the second betrayal to the cause of proletarian internationalism, this time by Stalinism. However, under the circumstances of the post-war period, it never attained the mass character of the Comintern.
Hence the Comintern was not and is not the only attempt at international organising. However, it was totally different from others in various respects. For one thing, it was the result of the Great October Revolution and also subsumed the experience of other contemporary revolutions (German, Hungarian etc.) and thus stood firmly on the ground of the unity of theory and practice. Secondly, this was the first time that a revolutionary programmatic and strategic outlook aiming for world revolution was firmly and unswervingly embedded in the international organisation of the proletariat. Thirdly, the Bolshevik conception of the democratic centralist combat party of the political vanguard of the proletariat became, for the first time, an instrument to be made use of universally. Fourthly, as opposed to the previous instances, in which the frontiers of the organising coincided roughly with those of Europe and North America, the Comintern immediately spread to all the other continents, most notably to the entire world oppressed by imperialism with the complicity earlier of a part of social democracy. Finally, despite its extremely radical programmatic and strategic outlook, it was a mass International. It was truly a world party. It created revolutionary hope across the globe.
We invite all who value this immensely important experience of the international proletariat to join us in celebrating the centenary of the Comintern in Istanbul, Turkey on 10 February 2019 at an event organised by the Christian Rakovsky Balkan Socialist Center and the RedMed web network.
This will also be the occasion to remember the German (later Bavarian) and Hungarian revolutions as this year is also their centenary. We will also commemorate the two great leaders of the German revolution, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, on the centenary of their murder by right-wing paramilitary forces at the behest of the Social Democratic leadership of the country.
But we will not gather only to celebrate and to commemorate. We will also use this opportunity to draw on the lessons of the Comintern in moving forward once again to the international organising of the forces of the proletariat who are fighting for communist emancipation along the lines of revolutionary Marxism.
Today, in the epoch of the Third Great Depression, we confront once again the dilemma expressed clearly by Rosa Luxemburg in her last major speech before her death: “Socialism or barbarism!” The death agony of capitalism as a mode of production, of which the Third Great Depression is but an expression, leads to the excretion of fascism and war from its bowels. At the antipode of this development creating catastrophic prospects for humanity is the rebellion of the masses, extending from the Arab revolutions, first and foremost Tunisia and Egypt, in 2011, all the way to the gilets jaunes of France recently. None of these rebellions and revolutions has yet been successful for a very clear reason: the collapse of the experience of socialist construction of the 20th century has completed the filthy work of wrecking communist parties around the world started earlier by Stalinism and finally left the working class entirely decapitated. We urgently need revolutionary workers’ parties at the national level and a general staff of the revolution at the international level, i.e. a new revolutionary International. This is why celebrating the foundation of the Comintern and commemorating the internationalist revolutionaries of a full 100 years ago is so topical today. The Comintern is important for us because it shows us the way forward.
Today there is ephemeral talk of creating new Internationals of all kinds. But any initiative in this direction is doomed to failure and/or destined to become cogwheels of the world capitalist order unless it has drawn the lessons of the Great October Revolution and of the Comintern.
Come join us comrades in this effort to look at the past in order to leap all the more strongly towards the reorganising of the future.
21 December 2018
(Revolutionary Workers Party)