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Leon Trotsky 19350607 The Seventh Congress of the Comintern

Leon Trotsky: The Seventh Congress of the Comintern

June 7, 1935

[Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 7, 1934-1935, New York 1971, p. 302-304]

It seems the Seventh Congress is to be convened after all (that is the news at any rate from the Paris White Russian press), after an interval of seven years.

It can be said with complete safety: had our organization not existed, had the banner of the Fourth International not been unfurled and had our French friends not met with fresh successes, the Third International would still have had to wait for its Seventh Congress.

Like the latest French congress, the Seventh Congress of the Comintern will also revolve essentially, if not solely, around the question of the Bolshevik-Leninists and the Fourth International.

After Hitler's victory, we declared the Third International politically bankrupt. The example of the Second International is there to prove that where there are political organizations with a mass base, their death — in the sense that it develops progressively — is far from being synonymous with the death of the self-preserving autocracy. Despite its shameful failure, the Third International still has immense reserves in the bureaucracy and this by itself assures it of great possibilities for continuing to vegetate and also to commit many more crimes against the world proletariat. The whole question is whether the Soviet bureaucracy still needs the Third International.

From this point of view, the Soviet bureaucracy is gripped in the vise of flagrant contradictions. Its present policies — particularly its international policy with its increasingly preponderant role — make the Comintern more of a hindrance than a help. But if the Comintern were to disappear and its place taken immediately by its adversary, the Fourth International — and that would mean the complete ideological failure of Stalin and his clique — it would be the shattering downfall of the entirely false constructions on which the general line is built Stalin could not but shudder at this unless he is prepared to show himself as a future Bonaparte, that is, to break openly with the October tradition and clap a crown on his head. However advantageous the "ideological” and political conditions for an openly Bonapartist coup d'état, it would be risking too much to commit himself to this road. The Soviet proletariat is, in fact, a much more definite and stable factor than was the French petty bourgeoisie at the beginning of the last century and, consequently, the Bolshevik tradition has much more weight at present than the Jacobin tradition had then. Stalin must hang on to the appearance of Bolshevism, and that is why, in view of the present danger represented by the Fourth International, he is compelled to convene the Seventh Congress.

War will obviously be the main question on the agenda. We must expect a tactic of retreat. Stalin certainly did not expect the extremely unfavorable reactions to his famous declaration. The leaders of the French party went to Moscow in a state of near panic. Leon Blum gave them a good lesson: We mustn't use all our patriotic powder right now or we shall find ourselves disarmed morally and physically when the war does start The Stalinists have already refused to vote the war credits in parliament And the reason? The officers are fascist; the imperialist army should be democratic, that is, should express "People's Front' principles (let us recall that Noske's speeches in the Reichstag on the Hohenzollern declaration of war [in 1914] were dressed in the same language). The resolutions of the Seventh Congress will be drawn up in approximately this way. The resolutions will say roughly the following: right now we must not openly support the imperialisms of France, Czechoslovakia, etc., but rather prepare the workers progressively and with caution to support imperialism when the war does come. In other words, the defeatist strategy that conforms to the most elementary teachings of Marxism is, for a time, replaced by the strategy of exhaustion. However, were Stalin to go on and do as he wants in the way expressed in the news, we could only be grateful to him. But that would really be too good — for the proletariat as for us.

We can be certain that not one of the hireling "leaders" summoned to the congress will have the courage to raise a question about Zinoviev's fate. Of the six congresses in the history of the Comintern to date, Zinoviev was president of five. Now he is in prison, ostensibly for having wanted to restore capitalism by a terrorist act against the Soviet bureaucracy. In his personal fate is expressed the unheard-of about-face executed by the Soviet bureaucracy. But can a Cachin or Pieck be troubled by that? As long as they preserve their positions and salaries, it is all the same to them whether Zinoviev is president of a revolutionary world congress or finds himself in prison as a counterrevolutionary.

Who will make the main speeches and draft the main resolutions this time? Bela Kun, perhaps? He is the man who suits, especially if we recall Lenin’s famous speech to the plenum of the Executive Committee on the eve of the Third Congress; the speech was devoted almost exclusively to Bela Kun and for its leitmotiv had the excellent theme, "The Stupidities of Bela Kun." It wasn't by chance that he attacked Bela Kun.

Another candidate is Dimitrov. The only reason for his sudden and very unexpected advance to the forefront was his bearing before the Nazi court We all applauded it — Especially when we compared his bearing to that of the chairman of the Stalinist parliamentary fraction, Torgler. But we mustn't exaggerate things. The Russian revolutionaries, not only the Bolsheviks but also, for example, the Social Revolutionary terrorists, in general always behaved with dignity and courage before the courts of the czar. That was the rule, not the exception. There was contempt for anyone who behaved like a coward, but there never was veneration for anyone who behaved like a man. That Dimitrov has been made a demigod because of his courageous bearing before the court is now very characteristic of the moral level of the bureaucracy of the Communist International. However, Dimitrov never found nor sought the opportunity to express himself as a Marxist, a Bolshevik, in opposition to the Stalinist general line. He took a part in all the scandalous policies of the epigones, in all its stages, and he bears full responsibility for them.

In due course we shall state our positions on the congress resolutions. These lines are no more than preliminary remarks.