** Communism : Comintern World Socialist Movement








The Comintern and The World Socialist Movement


Figure 1.--Here East German Young Pioneers in 1961 carry a banner, "Der Sozialismus siegt". This means something like "Socialism conquers". Berlin at the time was the most dangerous flash pont of the Cold War. Despite the banner, democracyv and free markets in West Germany were proving so successful that the East German auythorities were demanding Soviet approval to prevent their citizens from escaping to the West. The nature of the World Socialist movement changed markedly in the aftermath of World war II. The Soviet Union was no longer alone. They established mosty compliant puppet Communist governments in Eastern Europe. Western European Socialists fully embraced democracy and rejected Soviet-style Communism. In the end, the Cold War struggle for Europe and the future of Socialism was decided in Germany. Many Third World nationalists in the era of decolinization, however, were more impressed with the Soviet model.

As Stalin was gaining mastery of the Soviet Union. The question of control over the Communist parties in Western democracies. Stalin's first step was to suspend the annual meetings of Communist International for 6 years. The first step was to drive out the Trotskyists. Next te mantra of "permanent revolution" was changed to "socilaism in one country". This by definition made the revolutionary aspirations in each country secondary to the defense of the Soviet Union. Thus the revolutionary parties were converted to instruments of Soviet foreign policy. Members would did not agree with this change were gradually weeded out, leaders expelled or disposed of. Were in not for the dreadful consequences of this process, what followed was almost comical. Socialist and liberals interested in improving the lives pf workers through legal processes were labeled "social-fascists". Germany Communists were known the coooerate with the NAZIs against reformers, such as in a Berlin tram strike. [Wells, p. 962.] The Communists by opposing moderate governments in Germany palyed into Hitler's hands and were a factor in the NAZI seizure of power (1933). They were the first to be arrested and incarcerated in the new concentragtion camps. The disastrous turn of events in Germany convinced Stalin that a new policy was needed. The result was the Stalin-Laval Pact and a shift in directives. Communist parties had for years throughout Europe preached anti-militarism and anti-imperialism. Suddenly they were ordered by the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern to begin to cooperate with the once revialed Socialists and Liberals and form Popular Fronts against Fascism (1935). They were instructed to support rearmament proposals abnd other policies that they had previously opposed. There were in the 1930s as a result of Stalin's control of Western European (and American) Communist Parties two political groups in virtually every country that were controlled by outside powers, the right wing pro-NAZI Fascists and the the Communists which seem irreconciably opposed. [Wells, p. 962.] As dramatic as the swings in Communist polict were in the early and mid-1930s, even more dramatic swings would be irdered by Stalin in 1939 and 1941.

Marxist Ideology and World Revolution

Karl Marx predicted the Communist revolutions would eventually occur in industrialized societies. [Marx] His work was presented as a scientific approach to history and economics. As a result it was accepted by Communists abd Socialists as an inevitable historical development. The industrial countries at the time were Western Europe and the United States. The Bolsheviks were surprised that the first Communust Revolution occurred in Russia, a still largely agricultural country. Marx has clearly indicated that the ntural evolution of history would be for Revolution to break out in the advnced industrial powers. This was basic Marxist ideology. Thus the Bolshevicks believed tht their success would be soon followed in the indstrial countries of Western Europe. And Lenin believed that an organization was needed to promote and coordinate those revolutions.

Comintern Formed (1921)

The Comintern was the Communist Third Internationl which was formed in Moscow (1919). It purpose was to lead and coordinate the world socialist movement. Lennin in the Middle of The Civil War in which the White Armies were supported by the victorious World War I Allies saw the need to promote Revolution in those and other countries, And he he believed that revolutions in those countries were ready to break out as Marx had predicted. At the time it was formed, national Socialist parties were largely independent. The Bloshevicks sought to gain control of the world Socialist movement. It becme the duty of these national Communist parties not only to promote revolution, but akso to defend the Soviet Union. This effort gained momentus as Stalin gained control in the Soviet Union. The question of control over the Communist parties in Western democracies. Stalin's first step was to suspend the annual meetings of Communist International for 6 years. The first step was to drive out the Trotskyists. Next the mantra of 'permanent revolution' was changed to "socilaism in one country". This by definition made the revolutionary aspirations in each country secondary to the defense of the Soviet Union. Thus the revolutionary parties were converted to instruments of Soviet foreign policy. Members would did not agree with this change were gradually weeded out, leaders expelled or disposed of. Were in not for the dreadful consequences of this process, what followed was almost comical. Socialist and liberals interested in improving the lives pf workers through legal processes were labeled "social-fascists". Germany Communists were known the coooerate with the NAZIs against reformers, such as in a Berlin tram strike. [Wells, p. 962.] The Communists by opposing moderate governments in Germany palyed into Hitler's hands and were a factor in the NAZI seizure of power (1933). They were the first to be arrested and incarcerated in the new concentragtion camps.

Splintering the Movement

It also lead to the splintering of the Socilist movement into Communist Parties largely under the control of the Soviet Union and Socialist Parties (under various names) more independent and wuilling to work within a democratic political structure.

Popular Front (1935-39)

The disastrous turn of events in Germany convinced Stalin that a new policy was needed. The result was the Stalin-Laval Pact and a shift in directives. Communist parties had for years throughout Europe preached anti-militarism and anti-imperialism. Suddenly they were ordered by the Seventh Comintern to begin to cooperate with the once revialed Socialists and Liberals and form Popular Fronts against Fascism (1935). They were instructed to support rearmament proposals and other policies that they had previously opposed. There were in the 1930s as a result of Stalin's control of Western European (and American) Communist Parties two political groups in virtually every country that were controlled by outside powers, the right wing pro-NAZI Fascists and the the Communists which seem irreconciably opposed. [Wells, p. 962.]

Anti-Comintern Pact (1936)

The fondation for the Axis agreement was laid with the signing of the Anti-Comitern Pact. The NAZis when they seized power were hostile to the Soviet Union. The Japanese were histile to the Bolshevicks beginning in the World War I period. Japanese relations with the Soviets which had been damaged with the seizure of Manchuria worsened when Japan and Germany signed the Anti-Comintern Pact (1936). The Japanese and Germans signed a protocol in Berlin aimed directly at the Soviet Union (November 25, 1936). The purpose was to "guard" against the Communistic International. The agreement was very simple. It was signed by Viscount Kintomo Mushakoji Imperial Japanese Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Joachim von Ribbentrop German Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. The agreement was clearly aimed at the Soviet Union. Japan and Germany agreed if attacked by the Soviets to consult on what measures were needed. The two countries also agreed that neither would conclude political treaties with the Soviet Union. Germany agreed to recognize the Japanese puppet regime of Manchuko. Italy subsequently joined the Anti-Comintern Pact (1937).The NAZIs shocked the world when despite years of vituperitive rhetoric aimed at Communism and the Soviet Union, they signed a Non-Agression Pact (August 1939). It one of the great diplomatic misnomers, the Non-Agression Pact was in fact the green light for World war II. The Non-Agression Pact violated the terms of the Anti-Comintern Pact. The NAZIs did not consult with either Japan or Italy before signing the Non-Agression Pact. This lack of consultation and joint planning was to be a feature and glaring weakness of the future Axis Alliance.

NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact (August 1939)

NAZI Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and newly appointed Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov on August 23, 1939, signed the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. At the time of thesigning, British and French delegations were in Moscow trying to reach an understanding with Stalin. Hewas convinced, however, that they were tring to draw him into a war with Hitler. The two countries which until that time had been bitter foes, pledged not attack each other. Any problems developing between the two countries were to be delt with amicably. It was last for 10 years. The Pact shocked the world and the purpose was immedietly apparent. It meant that Germany could attack Poland without fear of Soviet intervention. Thus after defeating Poland, Germany did not have to fear a full-scale European war on two fronts. What was not known at the time was that there was a secret protocol to the pact which in effect divided Eastern Europe betwen the two countries. This protocol was discoered after the end of the World War II in 1945. The Soviets continued to deny this protocol until 1989. The NAZIs 8 days after signing the Pact invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, launching World War II. Britain and France declared war September 3. Poland's fate was sealed on September 17, when the Soviets invaded Poland from the east. Although the Soviet's did not enter the War against Britain and France, the Soviets were virtual NAZI allies as they provided large quantaies of strategic materials, especially oil. Communist parties in Britainand France opposedthe war effort. The Communst Party in America opposed President Roosevelt's efforts to expand defense spending and assist Britain and France.

World War II (1939-45)

As dramatic as the swings in Communist polict were in the early and mid-1930s, even more dramatic swings would be ordered by Stalin in 1939 and 1941. The Common Front policies continued until the signing of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact (August 1939). This was essentially an alliance between Stalin and Hitler and Communists who had been denouncing Fasism had to overnight completly change thir positions. World War II followed the signing of the Pact n a mattr of days. Communists were ordered to cease criticism of the NAZIs and labeled the War as an �imperialist� launched by Britain and France. The Communist resumed opposition to defense spending, especially in America, referring to it as �war-mongering�. Communist-dominated unions staged strikes in defense plants. The Soviets disolved the Comintern during Woirld War II to reassure its Western Allies (1943). This of course was only a cometic measure.

Post-War Socialism

The nature of the World Socialist movement changed markedly in the aftermath of World war II. The Soviet Union was no longer alone. They established mosty compliant puppet Communist governments in Eastern Europe. Western European Socialists fully embraced democracy and rejected Soviet-style Communism. Communists parties were strong in Western Europe (especially France and Italy), but failed to gain power. Democratic Socialism emerged as the future of the Socialist movement in Europe. In the end, the Cold War struggle for Europe and the future of Socialism was decided in Germany. Many Third World nationalists in the era of decolinization, however, were more impressed with the Soviet model. Most nationalists failed to see the strength of democratic institutions and the power of free market economics. The result was that in much of the developing world, country after country reported economic failure, with living standards declining after independence. Even in China which embraced Communism with a patriotic fervor was forced to conced that Communist economics was a disaster. The future of democracy are still to be seen. Communism continues to exist in a fe countries, in part because the system allows rulers like Castro and Kim Jong Il to rule by fiat despite abject failure.

Sources

Marx, Karl. Das Kapital.

Webs, H.G. The Outline of History: The Whole Story of Man (Doubleday & Company: New York, 1971), 1103p.






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Created: May 24, 2004
Last updated: 12:10 AM 1/21/2013