The Programme of the Communist International. Comintern Sixth Congress 1929
THE epoch of imperialism is the epoch of moribund capitalism. The world war of 1914-1918 and the general crisis of capitalism to which it led, being the direct result of the sharp contradictions between the growth of productive forces of world economy and the national State barriers which intersect it, have shown and proved that the material pre-requisites for socialism have already ripened in the womb of capitalist society, that the shell of capitalism has become an intolerable hindrance to the further development of mankind and that history has brought to the forefront the task of the revolutionary overthrow of the yoke of capitalism.
Imperialism subjects large masses of the proletariat of all countries-from the centres of capitalist power to the most remote corners of the colonial world – to the dictatorship of a finance – capitalist plutocracy. With elemental force, imperialism exposes and accentuates all the contradictions of capitalist society; it carries class oppression to the utmost limits, intensifies the struggle between capitalist governments, inevitably gives rise to world-wide imperialist wars that shake the whole prevailing system of relationships to their foundations and inexorably leads to the world proletarian revolution.
Binding the whole world in chains of finance capital; forcing its yoke upon the proletariat and the nations and races of all Countries by methods of blood, iron and starvation; sharpening to an immeasurable degree the exploitation, oppression and enslavement of the proletariat and confronting it with the immediate task of conquering power, imperialism creates the necessity for close union of the workers of all countries, irrespective of State frontiers, and of differences of nationality, culture, language, race, sex or profession into a single international army of the proletariat. Thus, while imperialism develops and completes the process of creating the material prerequisites for socialism, it at the same tie musters the army of its own grave-diggers and compels the proletariat to organise in a militant international association of workers.
On the other hand, imperialism splits off the best provided for section of the working class from the main mass of the workers. Bribed and corrupted by imperialism, this upper stratum of the working class constitutes the leading element in the social democratic parties; it is interested in the imperialist plunder of the colonies, is loyal to its own bourgeoisie and “its own” imperialist State, and, in the midst of decisive battles, has fought on the side of the class enemy of the proletariat. The split that occurred in the socialist movement in 1914 as a result of this treachery, and the subsequent treachery of the social democratic parties (which in reality have become bourgeois labour parties), demonstrated that the international proletariat will be able to fulfil its historical mission-to throw off the yoke of imperialism and establish the proletarian dictatorship- only by ruthless struggle against social democracy. Hence, the organisation of the forces of the international revolution becomes possible only on the platform of Communism. In opposition to the opportunist Second International of social democracy-which has become the agency of imperialism in the ranks of the working class-inevitably rises the Third, Communist International, the international organisation of the working class, the embodiment of real unity of the revolutionary workers of the whole world.
The war of 1914-1918 gave rise to the first attempts to establish a new, revolutionary International, as a counterpoise to the Second, social-chauvinist International, and as a weapon of resistance to bellicose imperialism (Zimmerwald and Kienthal). The victorious proletarian revolution in Russia gave an impetus to the formation of Communist Parties in the centres of capitalism and in the colonies. In 1919, the Communist International was formed, and for the first time in world history the most advanced strata of the European and American proletariat were really united in the process of practical revolutionary struggle with the proletariat of China and of India and with the coloured toilers of Africa and America.
As the united and centralised international Party of the proletariat, the Communist International is the only Party to continue the principles of the First International, and to carry them out upon the new foundation of the revolutionary proletarian mass movement. The experience gathered from the first imperialist world war, from the subsequent period of revolutionary crises of capitalism, and from the series of revolutions in Europe and in the colonial countries; the experience gathered from the dictatorship of the proletariat and the building up of socialism in the U.S.S.R. and from the work of all the Sections of the Communist International as recorded in the decisions of its Congresses; finally, the fact that the struggle between the imperialist bourgeoisie and the proletariat is more and more assuming an international character; all this has created a need for a uniform programme of the Communist International that will be common for all Sections of the Communist International. This programme of the Communist International, being the supreme critical generalisation of the whole body of historical experience of the international revolutionary proletarian movement, thus- becomes the programme of struggle for world proletarian dictatorship, the programme of struggle for world communism.
Uniting as it does the revolutionary workers, who lead the millions of oppressed and exploited against the bourgeoisie and its “socialist” agents, the Communist International regards itself as the historical successor to the “Communist League” and the First International led by Marx, and as the inheritor of the best of the pre-war traditions of the Second International. The First International laid the ideological foundation for the international proletarian struggle for socialism. The Second International, in the best period of its existence, prepared the ground for the expansion of the labour movement among the masses. The Third, Communist International, in continuing the work of the First International, and in accepting the fruits of the work of the Second International, resolutely lopped off the latter’s opportunism, social-chauvinism, and bourgeois distortion of socialism and set out to realise the dictatorship of the proletariat. In this manner the Communist International continues the glorious and heroic traditions of the international Labour movement of the English Chartists and the French insurrectionists of 1831; of the French and German working class revolutionaries of 1848; of the immortal warriors and martyrs of the Paris Commune; of the valiant soldiers of the German, Hungarian and Finnish revolutions; of the workers under the former Tsarist despotism-the victorious bearers of the proletarian dictatorship; of the Chinese proletarians-the heroes of Canton and Shanghai.
Basing itself on the experience of the revolutionary labour movement of all continents and of all peoples, the Communist international, in its theoretical and practical work, stands wholly and unreservedly upon the ground of revolutionary Marxism, and its further development, Leninism, which is nothing else than Marxism of the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution.
Advocating and propagating the dialectical materialism of Marx and Engels and employing it as a revolutionary method of conceiving reality, with a view to the revolutionary transformation of this reality, the Communist International wages an active struggle against all forms of bourgeois philosophy and against all forms of theoretical and practical opportunism. Standing on the ground of consistent proletarian class struggle and subordinating the temporary, partial, group and national interests of the proletariat to its lasting, general, international interests, the Communist International mercilessly exposes all forms of the doctrine of “class peace” that the reformists have accepted from the bourgeoisie. Expressing the historical need for an international organisation of revolutionary proletarians-the gravediggers of the capitalist order-the Communist International is the only international force that has for its programme the dictatorship of the proletariat and Communism, and that openly come out as the organiser of the international proletarian revolution.