Third International

The Third International was born from the ruins of the Second, in direct opposition to the imperialist war and in response to the victory of the proletarian revolution in Russia.
With the victory of the Stalinist counter-revolution in the USSR, the Third International degenerated to the point where it became nothing more than an instrument of the USSR's imperialist foreign policy.

Introduction to the Korean edition of Rosa Luxemburg’s The Crisis in German Social Democracy (the “Junius Pamphlet”)

The ICC has contributed to the first Korean edition of Rosa Luxemburg’s Junius Pamphlet, written 100 years ago in response to the carnage of the First World War. We are publishing the introduction written for the new edition here. In its 100 year ‘commemorations’ of the war, the ruling class and its propaganda machine offers us so many forms of apology for the massacre; revolutionaries on the other hand can take pride in celebrating the moral and intellectual courage of those internationalists who stood against the war and for the proletarian revolution.

Decadence of Capitalism (ix): The Comintern and the virus of “Luxemburgism” in 1924

The previous article in this series showed how rapidly the hopes for an immediate revolutionary victory, kindled by the proletarian uprisings of 1917-19 had, a mere two years later, in 1921, given way to a more sober reflection among revolutionaries about the overall course of capitalism’s historical crisis. At the Third Congress of the Communist International, a key question for debate was this: the capitalist system has certainly entered an epoch of decline, but what happens if the proletariat does not immediately respond to the new period by overthrowing the system?

CPGB: a dedicated follower of Lenin?

We publish here an article written by a sympathiser, in response to a debate going on within the CPGB ("Communist Party of Great Britain") which has found expression in a series of articles about the formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain on the 80th anniversary of its founding.

Introduction to the 2nd English edition of the “Left Wing of the Communist Party of Turkey”

The purpose of this article is to introduce the new English edition of our pamphlet on the Left Wing of the Turkish Communist Party (Türkiye Komünist Partisi, TKP), which will be serialised in the following issues of the Review. The first edition of the pamphlet was published in 2008 by the Turkish group Enternasyonalist Komünist Sol (Internationalist Communist Left, EKS), which had already at the time adopted the ICC's basic positions as a statement of principle, and had begun to discuss the ICC's Platform.

1919: Foundation of the Communist International

March 2019 marks the centenary of the foundation of the Third, Communist International, one of the high points of the international revolutionary wave which swept the globe at the end of the First World War. We will be producing a new article to celebrate and analyse this historic event, but in the meantime we are drawing readers' attention to what we wrote in 1989, 70 years after the formation of the CI; this is an article which retains its relevance today.

Decadence of capitalism (i): Revolution has been necessary and possible for a century

In 1915, as the hideous reality of the European war became ever more apparent, Rosa Luxemburg wrote "The crisis of social democracy", a text better known as the "Junius pamphlet" from the pseudonym under which Luxemburg published it. The pamphlet was written in prison and was distributed illegally by the Internationale group which had been formed immediately after the outbreak of the war...

Luxemburg's critique of the Bolsheviks

Luxemburg’s critique of national liberation struggles in general and the Bolsheviks’ nationalities policy in particular was the most penetrating of any at the time because it was based on an analysis of world imperialism which went far deeper than the one developed by Lenin. In texts such as The Accumulation of Capital (1913) and The Junius Pamphlet (1915) she showed that imperialism was not merely a form of thievery perpetrated by the advanced capitals on the backward nations but was an expression of a totality of world capitalist relations...

The theory of decadence at the heart of historical materialism, part V

In the first article in this series, published in International Review n°118, we showed how the theory of decadence is at the very heart of historical materialism in Marx’ and Engels’ analysis of the evolution of modes of production. It is central to the programmatic texts of the organisations of the workers’ movement. In the second article, which appeared in International Review n°121, we saw how the organisations of the workers’ movement from the time of Marx, through the Second International and its marxist left to the Communist International, made this analysis the foundation of their understanding of the evolution of capitalism in order to be able to determine the priorities for the period. In fact, Marx and Engels always stated very clearly that the perspective of the communist revolution depended on the objective, historical and global evolution of capitalism. The Third International, in particular, made this analysis the general framework for its understanding of the new period that opened with the outbreak of World War I. All of the political currents that formed the International, recognised that the first global war marked the beginning of capitalism’s decadent phase. We continue here our historical survey of the main expressions of the workers’ movement by examining more closely the particular political positions of the Communist International on the national, parliamentary and union questions, for which the system’s entry into its phase of decline had important implications.

100 years ago: the Russian revolution of 1905 and the Soviet of workers' deputies

In this issue, we continue the article begun in International Review n°122, where we highlighted the change in period which formed the backdrop to the events of 1905 in Russia, as capitalism entered the watershed between its ascendant and decadent periods. We also described the conditions that had favoured the radicalisation of the struggle in Russia: the existence of a modern, concentrated and highly conscious working class confronted by the attacks of a capitalism whose situation had been worsened by the disastrous effects of the war with Japan. The working class was thus led into a direct confrontation with the state in order to defend its living conditions, and organised in soviets to undertake this new historic phase in its struggle. The first part of this article recounted how the first workers’ councils were formed, and what needs they answered. This second part analyses in more detail how the soviets were formed, how they were linked to the movement of the whole working class, and their relationship with the trades unions. In fact, the unions – which already in 1905 no longer corresponded to the organisational needs of the working class in the new period, only played a positive role inasmuch as they were pulled along by the movement’s dynamic, in the wake of the soviets and under their authority.

100 years of the IWW: The Failure of Revolutionary Syndicalism

A century ago on June 27, 1905, in a crowded hall in Chicago, Illinois, Big Bill Haywood, leader of the militant Western Miners Federation, called to order “the Continental Congress of the Working Class,” a gathering convened to create a new working class revolutionary organization in the United States: the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), often referred to as the Wobblies.

4 - The theory of decadence at the heart of historical materialism

In the first article in this series, published in International Review n118, we saw how the theory of decadence is at the very heart of historical materialism, of Marx and Engels’ analysis of the evolution of modes of production. Equally, we find the same notion at the centre of the programmatic texts of the organisations of the working class. Furthermore, not resting at merely adopting this foundation-stone of marxism, some of these organisations have developed the analysis and/or its political implications. It’s from this dual point of view that we aim here to briefly review the main political expressions of the workers’ movement. In this first part we will begin with the movement in the days of Marx, the Second International, the marxist lefts which came out of it, and the Communist International at the time it was formed. In the second part, which will appear in a future issue, we will examine more closely the analytical framework for the political positions developed by the Third International and then by the left fractions which emerged from it as it began to degenerate, and from which we draw our political and organisational origins.

The Jury of Honour: a weapon for the defence of revolutionary organisations (Part 1)

Introduction (October, 2004)

At the time of its 15th international congress, in April 2003, the ICC excluded from its ranks several elements who had openly behaved like informers and who, under the name of "Internal Fraction of the ICC", had gathered around the individual Jonas (himself excluded from our organization for "behaviour unworthy of a communist militant", see 'A communique to our readers'). With regards to the attitude of Jonas and the members of the "FICCI", which consistied of refusing to defend oneself in front of the Congress of the ICC, our organisation, in accordance with the tradition of the workers' movement, had applied a policy of the defence of proletarian principles: it had proposed to them to call upon a Jury of Honour (which they refused) composed representatives of other organizations of the Communist Left, in order to make clearn the nature of their behaviour and the causes of their exclusion.

Historical lessons of the Kronstadt revolt

Recently Internationalism received a pamphlet from the Chicago Revolutionary Network (CHIREVNET), entitled "The Revolutionary Uprising of Sailors and Workers of Kronstadt, Russia, March 1921." First, we want to acknowledge the effort of the pamphlet's author to consider important events in the history of the workers' movement that have important lessons to be learned on how revolutionaries conceive of the essential problems of proletarian revolution today. The pamphlet cites our book-recently translated into English-The Dutch and German Communist Left: A Contribution to the History of the Revolutionary Movement as the source of its account of the events of the Kronstadt uprising, but it also criticizes the ICC for supposedly regarding the Bolsheviks' repression of the revolt as a "tragic necessity." In this regard, the pamphlet fundamentally misunderstands, miseads or misrepresents our analysis of the Kronstadt events. Over the years, the ICC has consistently and sharply criticized political groups that defend the incorrect view that the suppression by force of the Kronstadt rebellion was a "tragic necessity," as can been seen in the two part series we begin publishing below, or in International Review No.3, or No. 104

80 years ago - the Communist International


80 years ago, in March 1919, the Communist International held its founding Congress in Moscow. The following article, originally published in WR 122, shows why this event was of immense importance for the international working class: faced with the outbreak of a massive, revolutionary challenge to capitalism all over the world, the CI was at to capitalism all over the world, the CI was at that moment the most advanced expression of the class movement, the crucible for synthesising the political programme needed to lead the movement to victory. Today, faced with the bourgeoisie's pernicious campaigns aimed at identifying communism with Stalinism and "proving" that marxist theory has been refuted by history, revolutionaries have the duty to affirm not only that they are the heirs of the CI, but also that its most central positions remain valid for the revolution of the future. The fact that the CI subsequently degenerated and succumbed to the Stalinist counter-revolution does not alter what it had been during the most heroic phase of the revolutionary wave that made the whole ruling class shake in its shoes.

How to deal with the Russian enigma?

We are publishing below a reply to one of our contacts, who wrote to defend what the comrade called "the councilist balance-sheet of the Russian revolution". There no longer exists - since the disappearance of the Dutch group Daad en Gedachte - any organised expression of the councilist current within the proletarian movement. The councilist position nonetheless continues to enjoy a strong influence within the present revolutionary movement.

1920: The Programme of the KAPD

With the publication of the 1920 programme of the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD), we complete the section of this series devoted to the communist party programmes which came out during to the communist party programmes which came out during the height of the revolutionary wave (see International Review no.93, the 1918 programme of the KPD; International Review no.94, the platform of the Communist International; International Review no.95, the programme of the Russian Communist Party).

Understanding Kronstadt

Eighty years ago in March 1921, four years after the successful seizure of power by the working class in the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, the Bolshevik Party forcibly suppressed an insurrection at the Kronstadt garri­son of the Baltic Fleet on the small island of Kotlin in the Gulf of Finland 30 kilometres from Petrograd.

The left fractions and the question of organisational discipline

In a previous article (InternationalReview n°108), we described the emergence of the leftfractions that fought the degeneration of the old workers'parties, in particular the German SPD that supported the wareffort of its national capital in 1914, and the Russian CP and theThird International as they were being transformed intoinstruments of the Russian state with the progressive defeat ofthe October Revolution. In this process, the task of the fractionswas to struggle to re-conquer the organisation for the fundamentalpositions of the proletarian programme, against their abandonmentby the opportunist right and the complete betrayal by theleadership controlling the majority of the organisation. Topreserve the organisation as an instrument of the class struggleand to save as many militants as possible, one of the leftfractions' main concerns was to remain in the party as long aspossible. However, the process of political degeneration wasinevitably accompanied by a profound modification in the partiesthemselves, and in the relationships between the militants and theorganisation as a whole. Inevitably, this situation posed for thefractions the problem of breaking party discipline in order tofulfil their task of preparing the new party of the proletariat.

Correspondance between Bordiga and Trotsky

The letters from Bordiga and Trotsky: presentation

In International Review n°s 98 and 99 we dealt with the defeat of the German revolution as a sign of the defeat of the world revolution; we now return to this question through the debates and srough the debates and struggles that took place within the Communist International at the time. The German question and the defeat suffered by the workers’ movement in Germany in 1923 were key questions of the day for the international working class. The eclecticism and tactical oscillations of the CI produced a disaster in Germany. This put an end to the revolutionary wave of the 20s and prepared the ground for the defeats that followed: in China (a situation we have already examined in this Review) and in Britain (the Anglo-Russian Committee and the General Strike). In the end it led to the irrecoverable loss of the International when it adopted the thesis of ‘socialism in one country’ and to the crisis of the Communist Parties which were sucked into the counter-revolution and the second imperialist war.

The marxist anatomy of October 1917

The marxist anatomy of October 1917 and the present situation

The text which we are publishing below is the complete version of a text from the Marxist Labour Party in Russia, excerpts of which have been published in the print edition of the International Review. Our reply can be read here.ICC

Lenin's Theses on bourgeois democracy and proletarian dictatorship (reprint)

The 20th century has drawn to a close to the sound of a vast concert celebrating the advance of democracy all over the world, and its supposed benefits. Throughout the century, its victories are celebrated over dictatorships both red and brown, and its heroes - Gandhi, Walesa, Mandela, Martin Luther King - are fêted for the application of its "great and generous principles". If we are to believe the propaganda, the situation since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the struggles which have taken place since to defend and develop democracy are cause for hope in a future of peace and harmony which should be thoroughly encouraging for mankind as a whole. We have been treated to regular crusades by the great democracies, to impose and defend "human rights" in countries which did not respect them, by force if necessary - in other words at the cost of the most barbaric massacres. We have been offered the sight of an International Court of Justice, set up to judge and punish those found guilty of "crimes against humanity". Let the dictators tremble! And for the years to come, we are promised the emergence of a "world-wide democracy" based on a "growing role for civil society". The recent demonstrations during the WTO negotia negotiations, with the Roquefort Revolutionary José Bové at their head, are supposedly forerunners of this "world-wide democracy" or even of a "People�s International" in struggle against the dictatorship of the market, unrestrained capitalism, and bad food. For today�s proletarians, the only worthwhile struggle seems to be for the creation of democratic regimes in every country in the world, which will bring with it equal rights for both sexes and all races, and which will defend an "attitude of good citizenship". The ideology-vendors of every description, and especially on the left, are more mobilised than ever to convince the workers that this is the good fight, and to push them into it. And for any who have doubts, or hesitate to take part, the message is: "Despite its faults, democracy is the only regime which can be reformed and perfected - and anyway there�s no hope of any other". Faced with the growing poverty and barbarism imposed on us by capitalism, there is supposedly no other possibility than to behave as a "good citizen", to accept the system because we are told there is no other choice.

2 - The theory of decadence at the heart of historical materialism, part ii

In the previous issue of the International Review (n°118), we recalled at length, and with the support of passages from their major writings, how Marx and Engels defined the notions of the ascendance and decadence of a mode of production. We saw that the notion of decadence lies at the very heart of historical materialism in the analysis of the succession of different modes of production. In a forthcoming article, we will also demonstrate that this concept was central to the political programmes of the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, and of the marxist left that emerged from them, in which the groups of the Communist Left today have their origins.

Leon Trotsky: What is proletarian culture and is it possible?

Every ruling class creates its own culture, and consequently, its own art. History has known the slave-owning cultures of the East and of classic antiquity, the feudal culture of medieval Europe and the bourgeois culture which now rules the world. It would follow from this that the proletariat has also to create its own culture and its own art.


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