Resolutions adopted by the Executive Committee of the League Against Imperialism and for National Independence
Berlin, June 2, 1931
Published by the
International Secretariat of the League Against Imperialism
Friedrichstrasse 24, Berlin SW 48
Two Revolutionary Documents of Great Political Importance
The League against Imperialism and for National Independence held a plenary session of its Executive Committee in Berlin from the 30th May to the 2nd June inclusive. This plenary session of the leadership of a great international fighting organisation took place during a period of severe world economic and agrarian crisis; at a time when the tremendous wave of struggle for national freedom in the colonies which has been evident for some time is gradually reaching its culmination and shaking the foundations of imperialist dominance.
The far-reaching revolutionary significance of the two main political resolutions adopted by the Executive Committee at its plenary session cannot be too greatly stressed, for these resolutions clearly reflect the opinions which received expression and approval during the course of the discussions. With the publication of these two resolutions in pamphlet form, the International Secretariat of the League against Imperialism offers the mass movement against imperialism a weapon of the greatest possible effectiveness. It is the duty of all the sections of the League and of all other anti-imperialist organisations to make practical use of this important weapon in their struggle against imperialism and to carry the ideas contained in these resolutions into practice.
The characteristic feature of this plenary session, a feature which distinguishes it from former international sessions, was the circumstance that not only were the anti-imperialist masses in the colonial and imperialist countries represented, in the persons of their most reliable and trusted leaders and pioneers, but that a series of organisations and fighting groups were also represented which aim at emancipating the various oppressed peoples and national minorities in Europe (for instance, in Western Ukrainia, in West White Russia, in Croatia, in Macedonia, in Thrace, in Kossovo, the Slovakian, Hungarian and German minorities in Czechoslovakia, and the national minorities in Roumania). The presence of youth representatives and the special discussion of the youth problem also increased the importance of the session. Delegates of the most varied origins and of varied political opinions took an active part in the fruitful discussions which developed out of the many reports which were presented in the name of the International Secretariat on the situation in the colonial countries, and on the situation of the oppressed peoples and national minorities in Europe. The common aim of the delegates was to give the revolutionary activity of the League a still greater impetus and to link up still more closely the anti-imperialist struggles on an international scale and thus to strengthen their effectiveness.
Without exaggeration it is possible to declare that this session whose results can be seen in the valuable reports presented, in the clear demands put forward, and in the categoric line laid down by it for the political activity of the League, will be a decisive turning point in the development of the League.
What is the meaning of this turning point? It means that the League has finally overcome all hindrances and delays in its activity and that it has now taken up a political course in the direction of a systematic revolutionary mass work on the basis of the consolidation of its organisation and with clear political principles.
The development of the League is a process which is closely connected with the whole development of the struggles for the independence of the colonial and semi-colonial countries. In the very first period of the League development, at the time of the inaugural congress in Brussels, certain groups which approached the League played a progressive role, for instance, the Chinese Kuomintang, the Mexican Nationalist Party, etc. It was not possible to refuse permission to such organisations to take part in the Brussels congress but, of course, they had to be excluded from the ranks of the League as soon as they left the front of the real anti-imperialist struggle and became the counter-revolutionary allies of the imperialists and the oppressors of the masses of their own people.
On the basis of the experiences of the first period of the development of the League, the international congress in Frankfurt am Main gave the propagandist and organisational activities of the League a new direction, a direction towards the toiling masses in town and country and their revolutionary organisations. At the same time the congress warned the masses against the bourgeois so-called anti-imperialist organisations (the national reformists and the social democrats), and against the leaders of the vacillating circles of intellectuals and petty-bourgeois which are all too prone to capitulate under certain circumstances to imperialism, whilst maintaining superficially the appearance of continuing the struggle for independence to its end. The resolutions of this congress, whose correctness has been confirmed during the course of the last two years by the development of the national-revolutionary movement in the colonial countries, abolished the danger of opportunist degeneration in the League and placed it squarely on the basis of an uncompromising anti-imperialist struggle. Despite this, however, the social democrats of the left-wing (Maxton, Fimmen) and the so-called left-wing national reformists (Nehru, Hatta, etc.) remained in the League and attempted to play the same dangerous and demoralising role as had previously been played by the exposed and expelled traitors. The struggle against these elements was not always easy. There were even moments when these treacherous deserters to the camp of the imperialist counter-revolution considered the idea of an offensive against the League with a view to obtaining control of the organisation and turning it into an instrument of corruption and deception in the services of imperialism.
However, in the period from the Frankfurt congress to the present plenary session of the Executive Committee, the prestige of the League increased considerably, particularly in the colonial countries where sympathising groups and even organised sections of the League sprang up spontaneously. In various countries the organisations affiliated to the League made an attempt to interest the masses of the toilers in the anti-imperialist struggle and to win them for active participation in this struggle.
Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that in this phase of the League development also the concrete and positive organisational results were unsatisfactory. Despite favourable objective conditions the League has not been successful in consolidating its organisations in the various countries and in fastening its roots deeply into the broad masses of the toiling population. The organisation of the anti-imperialist youth movement is also in its first stages only and must be energetically developed.
All in all it can be said that up to the present the League has contented itself with conducting anti-imperialist agitation and propaganda without succeeding in leading energetically the movements which were caused by this agitation and propaganda and without lending these movements an organisational form. Up to the present the activity of the League has consisted of nothing more than a purely moral support of the national-revolutionary movement, and an enlistment of the sympathies of others for this movement. Today a new period of development opens up: the foundation of local and central organisations which will be able to take the initiative themselves and to prepare and carry out lasting anti-imperialist mass actions and campaigns.
The plenary session has rendered the movement a great service by exposing in the resolutions which follow, the organisational and other weaknesses of the League, and by urgently stressing the necessity of a change in the sense indicated above, whilst at the .same time laying down the most important tasks to be carried out by the League.
By publicly condemning the treachery of the social democratic and national-reformist hangers-on against the cause of national independence and by finally expelling these traitors from the ranks of the League, the Executive Committee has cleared the air and assured the League of the possibility of speedy development.
From now on hangers-on of this character will be unable to enter the ranks of the League. The six main paragraphs which form the close of the general resolution and which are intended to serve as the basis for the future program of the League, leave no room for ambiguity and deprive all the conscious or unconscious supporters of imperialism of any possibility of slipping into the ranks of the real anti-imperialist organisations. Whoever is not prepared to support these principles unreservedly, whoever is not prepared to recognise them expressly as inviolable principles, whoever is not prepared to work for their realisation, may under no circumstances be permitted to enter the ranks of the League against Imperialism. Whoever raises objections to these principles must be ruthlessly condemned as an enemy of the struggle for national independence and as a supporter of imperialism. The slightest abandonment of these principles in the future must be regarded as a crime. The detailed program of the League which will be drawn up as quickly as possible, will confirm and strengthen this policy.
The work of the plenary session with regard to the oppressed nationalities and national minorities in Europe did much to give the session its special character. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted after a detailed discussion, opens the way for an understanding of the whole complex of questions raised by the struggle of the oppressed peoples and national minorities for emancipation, and shows clearly the revolutionary solution.
The discussion of these questions with the best representatives of the national-revolutionary struggle in Europe, the winning of their support and systematic co-operation on the basis of this resolution, opens up a new field of work for the League and considerably extends its basis of operations. The League never ignored the tragic fate of 42 millions of people who are nationally oppressed in Europe. A number of representatives of these people were present at former congresses and conferences, but for the first time this problem was made the subject of a thorough discussion; for the first time the International Secretariat of the League was instructed to deal with this field of work systematically; and for the first time the attitude of the League in this question was expressed in a political resolution which at the same time represents a program of action. This circumstance is of invaluable significance in connection with the rapid growth of the danger of an armed imperialist intervention against the Soviet Union and of the danger of a new imperialist war in which the masses of the oppressed peoples are intended to be used as cannon-fodder.
The League against Imperialism, which is taking the initiative in this question at the most favourable moment, thus undertakes to serve as a concentration point for all anti-imperialist national-revolutionary movements, whether these movements are in the colonial countries or movements of the oppressed peoples and national minorities in Europe. The League undertakes the tasks of uniting these movements with the revolutionary struggle of the toiling masses in the imperialist countries in a joint struggle against imperialist oppression. With this united front of all anti-imperialist forces in the colonial and semi-colonial countries and in Europe the League aims at securing full national independence for the colonial and semi-colonial countries, and the full right of self-determination, including the right to separate from the State to which they are at present attached, for all oppressed peoples and national minorities in Europe.
The main object of the League against Imperialism remains the furtherance of the national-revolutionary movement for independence in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. A simple arithmetical demonstration immediately shows the necessity of this, for while there are 42 millions of people belonging to the oppressed nationalities in Europe, there is an immense mass of over a thousand million colonial slaves who are writhing under the iron heel of a murderous imperialist system of oppression and exploitation. One thing is certain, that the system of exploitation, slavery and terror which oppresses the one is as bloody and brutal as the system which oppresses the other, and that a simultaneous and joint struggle of these two movements is necessary in order to destroy the whole apparatus of terror and oppression on which the imperialist system of exploitation is based, and at the same time to overthrow this system for ever.
We recommend an anti-imperialist fighters, and all those who sympathise with the national-revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples for freedom and wish to support this struggle, to read these resolutions with great care and to do their best to spread a knowledge of their contents as widely as possible. The realisation of the principles contained in these resolutions offers the best guarantee that within a comparatively short space of time the anti-imperialist movements will win the unity and solidarity which they lack to-day, and thus increased power to shake the foundations of imperialist dominance, and to defend the Soviet Union, the only existing anti-imperialist State in the world, against the danger of an armed imperialist intervention.
The International Secretariat of the
League against Imperialism and for National Independence
Adopted by the Executive Committee of the League Against Imperialism at its Session in Berlin on June 2, 1931
Growing Anti-Imperialist Revolt of Colonial Masses
The struggle of all the oppressed peoples to release themselves from the yoke of imperialism has increased tremendously in strength and extent. In China millions of peasants under the leadership of the working class have formed their own armies and are now carrying on a heroic struggle against the forces of the counter-revolutionary Kuomintang and against the imperialists. The magnificent struggle of the Chinese workers and peasants for national independence, for the land, and for political power shows all other oppressed and exploited colonial peoples the only way to victory in the struggle against imperialism.
In India the masses of the people are beginning to realise that emancipation from the yoke of British imperialism cannot be won with the treacherous tactics of passivity and non-violence, cannot be won by coming to compromises with the enemy. The working class in India is beginning to use the weapon of the mass strike. It is beginning to understand that a united front of hundreds of millions must be organised together with the broad masses of the toiling peasantry against British imperialism. Amongst the revolutionary youth and the revolutionary intellectuals there is a growing opposition to Gandhism and to "left-wing" social reformism. And at the same time there is an increasing tendency to take up a really revolutionary attitude towards British imperialism.
The oppressed masses of Indo-China are fighting desperately in the foremost ranks of the great anti-imperialist struggle and showing a magnificent front against the fearful white terror waged against them by French imperialism.
The revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle is surging higher and higher in Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Tripoli, Syria, Algeria and all other Arabian countries. Italian fascism has succeeded in slaughtering tens of thousands of insurrectionary Arabs in Tripoli, but it has not succeeded in breaking the fighting spirit of the insurrectionaries. The revolutionary insurrection of the masses of the Arab people in Spanish Morocco and its bloody suppression by the provisional government of the bourgeois republicans and the Spanish socialists represents only the beginning of fresh struggles in this section of Arabian territory.
Despite the brutal regime of terror established by Japanese imperialism, the colonial peoples under the Japanese yoke are conducting an heroic struggle for freedom. In Formosa there was an insurrection of the native tribes against the Japanese oppressors.
The workers of the Philippine Islands have now formed their own revolutionary working class party and under its leadership they are taking up the struggle for freedom from the yoke of American imperialism.
Despite the banishment of thousands of Indonesian national-revolutionary fighters against Dutch imperialism, mass demonstrations are taking place in Indonesia under the banner of the struggle for national freedom from the yoke of Dutch imperialism.
b) The Negro Masses.
In South Africa, Madagascar, Kenya Colony, Gambia, Nigeria, the French and Belgian Congo, Guadeloupe, Honduras, San Domingo, the Negro masses have taken up arms in the struggle against imperialism. In South Africa in particular the movement has reached the stage of a conscious class struggle on the part of the white and coloured workers (unemployed workers' demonstrations, the May Day demonstrations, strikes, etc.). New exceptional laws, the increasingly frequent confiscation of the land of the natives, the intensified terroristic measures of the white slaveholders, the new wave of terror, lynching and persecutions in the United States have been unable to stem the rising tide of the Negro struggle for emancipation from colonial imperialism. New and tremendous reserves are wheeling into the anti-imperialist fighting front.
c) Latin America.
In the countries of Latin America the anti-imperialist struggle of the workers and peasants against the "revolutionary" movements organised by various groups of capitalists and landowners and their generals, aimed at nothing further than replacing one system of imperialist oppression by another. The ceaselessly growing movement of the masses directs its blows impartially and with equal sharpness against both British and American imperialism.
The fighting in South and Central America, the interventions in China, the support of the Kuomintang government by the United States of America, the barbaric mediaeval persecutions of the Negroes, the slave relations existing in the southern States, etc., show the real face of predatory dollar imperialism.
The Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism sends its fraternal greetings to the heroic fighters for the freedom of Nicaragua who have defied American imperialism weapon in hand for three years.
The Executive Committee denounces the crimes of the Mexican fascist government which is the perfidious instrument of American imperialism and which does not hesitate to organise massacres of the working people. The Executive Committee considers the struggles which are at present taking place in Honduras (great unemployed workers' demonstrations) and in Cuba (mass strikes) to be very important factors in the development of the anti-imperialist struggle. The Executive Committee considers that the necessary conditions for the formation of League sections as mass organisations are present everywhere in the countries of Latin America and appeals for new efforts to widen the mass basis of the anti-imperialist struggle.
Insurrections and mass movements are taking place in Egypt, Syria,
Palestine, China, India, Indo-China, Morocco, Africa and Latin-America.
The terrible pressure exerted by capitalist imperialism and the
severity of the struggle in the most important colonial countries are
leading more and more to the hegemony of the working class, the most
energetic and daring section of the masses, in the struggle of the
oppressed nations against imperialism. The working class is the binding
factor in the great united front of the oppressed peoples against
Increased Imperialist Exploitation and Political Repression
The imperialists are straining every nerve in order to crush the revolutionary anti-imperialist movement for emancipation. They are attempting to find a way out of the world economic crisis, which is a crisis of the whole capitalist system, at the cost of the oppressed colonial peoples by means of increased exploitation of the masses. The world economic crisis has tremendously increased the poverty, misery and exploitation of the toiling masses in the colonial countries. The world economic crisis and in particular the agricultural crisis, is nowhere so intense in its effects as in the colonial countries, where the frightful effects of the agrarian crisis reduces millions and millions to the point of starvation. Slave labour and forced labour are becoming to an ever increasing extent essentials of the imperialist colonial regime. The masses of the peasantry are, coming more and more into movement. They are surging up against the fortresses and strongholds of imperialism.
The intensification of exploitation in the colonial countries also effects the situation of the toiling masses in the countries of imperialism and increases their impoverishment. The result is that it is becoming clearer and clearer to the masses in the imperialist countries that their interests are identical with the vital interests of the toiling masses in the colonial countries.
Parallel with the increase of economic exploitation, the system of political oppression has also been intensified to a tremendous degree. The least movement of the masses against imperialism, the least attempt to found national-revolutionary organisations, or to organise the masses of the workers and peasants in trade unions, is countered with increased oppression, imprisonment and even physical destruction of tens of thousands of workers, peasants and students.
The fascist movement in all countries, which is conducting a chauvinist campaign of race hatred, is an instrument of imperialism for holding down the revolutionary mass movement particularly in the colonial countries (for instance, German fascist officers as technical advisers to the hangman Chiang Kai-shek).
Religion in the Service of Imperialism
The growing indignation of the masses against imperialist oppression causes imperialism to use religious organisations to an increasing extent in its struggle against national and social emancipation. This can be seen in the crusade organised by the leaders of all the churches (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Mahomedan, Hindu, Buddhist and others) against the Soviet Union, and also in the warlike attitude of the Vatican towards the Soviet Union, in the Papal Encyclical against socialism and communism, in Gandhi's utilisation of religious propaganda in India, etc. All this, connected with the preparations for the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin next year, reveals the role of the leaders of religion as agents of capitalism and imperialism.
The Social Democratic Leaders -- Active Agents of Imperialist Oppression
The leaders of the Second (Labour and Socialist) International and of the Amsterdam International (I.F.T.U.) are prominent in the front ranks of the struggle against the oppressed peoples. The so-called "Labour" Government under the leadership of MacDonald uses every possible method of oppression against the Indian national-revolutionary struggle for freedom. It bombs Indian villages slaughtering men, women and children, it arrests and hangs Indian revolutionary leaders, it sends punitive expeditions to Burma to exterminate the native revolutionaries, it sends British warships up the Chinese rivers to bombard the Chinese revolutionary forces. MacDonald's government is doing its best to drown the revolutionary struggle of the Egyptian and Arabian peoples in blood. Slavery in South Africa finds a powerful supporter in MacDonald and his friends. Vandervelde, the Chairman of the Second International, travelled through China as the guest of the murderous bandit Chiang Kai-shek. The French socialist Varenne directed, as Governor-General of Indo-China, the brutal repressive action of French imperialism against the national-revolutionary movement there.
The French socialists support the bloody actions of French imperialism in Indo-China, Algeria, Tunis, Morocco and in the Negro colonies of French imperialism. Albert Thomas, the representative of the Amsterdam International and Chairman of the International Labour Office of the capitalist League of Nations, organises the struggle against the revolutionary trade union movement in the colonial countries on behalf of the yellow unions rigged up by the Kuomintang with the support of the imperialists. The Spanish socialist leaders are members of the reactionary republican government, the Spanish socialists are assisting to crush the insurrectionary movement in Morocco and the national-revolutionary movements in Catalonia and other parts of Spain. The Belgian socialists not only support the bloody oppression of the Belgian imperialists in the Congo, but they also take a direct share in the proceeds of this colonial exploitation of the Negro masses through the Belgian Workers' Bank. The Dutch socialists, and in particular the "left" socialists, are assisting in the development of plans to save Dutch colonial domination in Indonesia and are taking a direct part in the administration of these colonies, The German social democrats support the new German imperialism in its efforts to obtain mandates from the League of Nations, in other words, to obtain new colonial possessions.
There are no imperialist crimes against the oppressed peoples in which the leaders of the Second and Amsterdam Internationals have no part and which they would not defend to the working masses of their own countries. The so-called left-wing social democrats of the Maxton and Fimmen type play a very miserable role in this respect. At the last International Congress of the League against Imperialism which took place in Frankfurt am Main in 1929, these two pledged loyalty to the struggle of the oppressed peoples against imperialism, but in fact they have both betrayed this struggle. Fimmen, the leader of the Transport Workers' International did nothing to prevent the despatch of munitions and troops to China against the revolutionary forces. Fimmen made no protest against the treacherous policy of the social democrats in Holland itself. In short, Fimmen has deserted his post in the anti-imperialist struggle. Despite the resolution unanimously passed by the Frankfurt Congress to support the insurrection of the native masses in the Arabian countries, Fimmen disavowed the resolution and took the side of British imperialism and its Zionist agents. The attitude of Maxton was similar. Despite his solemn promise to the Frankfurt Congress Maxton shamelessly supported the manoeuvres of British imperialism against the national-revolutionary movement in India, and the policy of MacDonald, Irwin and Baldwin. Maxton defended the whole counter-revolutionary policy of the British government in India, China, Egypt and the other colonial countries oppressed by British imperialism, whilst at the same time trying to mislead the masses of the workers of Great Britain with radical phrases and to deflect them from the revolutionary struggle.
The League against Imperialism, which carries on an unswerving revolutionary struggle against imperialism and for national-independence, can have nothing in common with such elements. The Executive Committee therefore confirms the expulsion of Maxton from the British section of the League against Imperialism as a traitor to the anti-imperialist movement. The removal of these two persons from the League against Imperialism can only strengthen the League in its struggle.
The Nationalist Bourgeoisie Bargains with Imperialism and Betrays Cause of Independence
Apart from the rich landowners, usurers, Princes, Rajahs and compradores, imperialism is attempting with increasing success to win the national bourgeoisie by means of small concessions which do not alter the fundamental character of the imperialist colonial regime, as an ally in the struggle against the steadily growing national revolutionary movement for freedom. The national reformists in the various countries have proved by their actions that they do not represent national interests and that they do not conduct any revolutionary struggle against imperialist oppression. Experience has shown that they very often place themselves at the head of the revolutionary struggle with no other intention than that of throttling it. In return for their treachery to nationalist interests they receive small concessions from the imperialists which in no way affect the essence of the colonial system. The League against Imperialism warns its supporters against the illusions spread by these national reformists concerning the possibility of winning national independence without a revolutionary struggle, merely by utilising the conflicts between the various imperialist groups and depending on one of these groups, whereby the national-revolutionary movement is placed in the service of this imperialist group. Bloody terror against the national-revolutionary movement, small concessions, promises, concessions to the renegades who betray the anti-imperialist struggle, this is the character of imperialist policy at the present moment. Negotiations are being conducted with the Indian National Congress, with the Kuomintang in China, with the Arabian Executive in Palestine, with the Kut-el-Watan in Syria, with the Wafd in Egypt, with the Sarekat Islam in Indonesia, etc. The League against Imperialism warns the toiling masses against these manoeuvres. The League against Imperialism also appeals for the exposure of the national-reformists who take part in this treacherous bargaining.
The Indian National Congress and its "Left-Wing" Leaders
The intensification of the anti-imperialist struggle has clearly revealed the counter-revolutionary role of the leaders of the national reformist parties. The attitude of the Indian National Congress offers us a particularly valuable lesson. In return for unimportant concessions the Indian National Congress has openly abandoned the fight for the national independence of India. The Executive Committee of the Congress has ratified the treacherous agreement between the British Viceroy and Gandhi, and has thus become an open agent of British imperialism and of the rich Indian landowners and capitalists, and a traitor to the cause of Indian independence to which it has rendered so much solemn lip-service.
The so-called left-wingers, Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Bose, have played a miserable role. Nehru, who solemnly pledged himself as a member of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism at the Brussels Congress to conduct an unswerving revolutionary struggle against imperialism, has turned out to be a lieutenant of Gandhi whose treacherous policy was helped to success by the left-wing radical phrases of Nehru. Both Nehru and Bose have attempted and are still attempting perfidiously to deceive the revolutionary youth and the working masses. The Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism declares that Subhas Bose, M. N. Roy, Khandalkar and others have also chosen the path of treachery and abandoned the struggle for Indian freedom.
The session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism declares that Nehru has become a traitor to the cause of Indian independence and an agent of British imperialism. The Executive Committee denounces his treachery before the broad masses of the workers and peasants of India and expels him from the ranks of the League against Imperialism. At the same time the Executive Committee warns the Indian national-revolutionaries to be on their guard against the deceitful and confusing manoevres which will undoubtedly be carried out by Nehru, Bose, Roy and the other left-wing nationalists who have now become agents of British imperialism.
The session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism appeals to the masses who followed the Indian National Congress to break with their treacherous leaders, to destroy the treacherous pact with British imperialism made by these leaders, and to mobilise all forces for the organisation of the struggle for the complete independence of India from the yoke of imperialism.
In reply to the treacherous deception of the masses of the people by Gandhi and MacDonald with "Dominion Status", the League against Imperialism appeals for a revolutionary struggle for complete independence.
The Executive Committee appeals to all revolutionary fighters for the independence of India to link themselves up directly with the League against Imperialism.
The session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism honours the memory of the heroic Indian revolutionaries, Bhagat Singh and his comrades who have been murdered by British imperialism whilst fighting for the independence of India. The followers of these heroic martyrs must line up in the revolutionary front for the overthrow of imperialism and the independence of India. However, this struggle cannot be won by the heroic acts of individual heroes, but only by the conscious mass action of the workers and peasants, and the revolutionary youth.
The Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism congratulates the Indonesian comrades on having on their own initiative opposed Hatta who is pursuing a policy of capitulation towards Dutch imperialism.
Imperialist War Preparations against the Soviet Union
Parallel with the increasing oppression of the colonial peoples by imperialism, the preparations for a great international war of imperialist intervention against the Soviet Union are being conducted. The imperialists are even attempting to form armies composed of the toilers in the oppressed colonial countries with a view to attacking the only country in the world which has really established national freedom as an essential part of its socialist constructive work. It is quite certain that in the coming imperialist attack on the Soviet Union, the imperialists will attempt to use millions of toilers from the oppressed colonial countries against the first Workers' and Peasants' State.
The Soviet Union is the country of tremendous socialist progress on all fields. It is the bulwark of national independence. The rapid progress of the Five Year Plan, the never ceasing construction of socialism, means a tremendous advance in cultural and economic-development for all the nations united within the Soviet Union. The example of the Soviet Union shows how the more progressive peoples can assist the backward peoples on the basis of the solidarity of the peoples emancipated by the revolution, and further the economic and cultural development of these backward peoples. The session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism makes it the urgent duty of all affiliated organisations and of all individual members to use all their forces in the struggle for the defence of the Soviet Union, to expose and destroy the systematic campaign of lies and incitement organised by the imperialists against the Soviet Union, and to make it clear to the masses that this campaign of lies and incitement which serves the ideological preparation of the coming war against the Soviet Union, also aims at winning the masses of the toilers in the colonial countries as cannon fodder for this reactionary war.
The war and the intervention against the Soviet Union will also be a war against the national revolutionary struggle of the colonial peoples. The League against Imperialism protests in particular against the shameful lies about "forced labour" in the Soviet Union, lies which were originated and spread by those same people who fight for the maintenance of slave and forced labour in the colonial countries with all possible means.
Defend the Chinese Revolution
At the same time the session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism draws the attention of all honest fighters against imperialism to the fact that imperialism, and in particular American, British, French and Japanese imperialism, not only supports the counter-revolutionary war against the Chinese Soviet Revolution with money, munitions, the despatch of military technical advisers (in which German imperialism plays a leading role), and the supply of war materials to the counter-revolutionary armies, but that the imperialists directly use their own armies and warships in an open counter-revolutionary war of intervention against the Chinese workers and peasants. The greatest possible efforts are necessary on the part of the anti-imperialist front in order to defend the Chinese Revolution effectively.
New Stage in Anti-imperialist Struggle
The session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism records with pleasure the fact that the cowardly desertion and shameful treachery of certain former leaders of the anti-imperialist struggle have not succeeded in weakening this struggle, but that, on the contrary, the struggle has gained by these defections as a result of increased clarity and determination in the anti-imperialist camp.
The anti-imperialist struggle has entered into a new and higher stage. The intensification of all the capitalist contradictions and the general seriousness of the situation make it incumbent upon the League against Imperialism to intensify its struggle and to consolidate its organisational position. All those elements who are willing to fight honestly for the national independence of the oppressed peoples and who are not prepared to abandon the national-revolutionary struggle for fear of the social demands of the toiling masses in the colonial countries, must be organised together in a united revolutionary front. The decisions of the Second World Congress of the League against Imperialism in Frankfurt am Main in 1929, were fingerposts for the future tasks of the organisation. On the basis of these decisions the League against Imperialism remains a non-party organisation uniting all honest national-revolutionaries and their organisations.
The session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism points out that the national revolutionary struggle is closely connected with the struggle of the revolutionary masses in the imperialist countries. It points out further that the Soviet Union is the bulwark of the national-revolutionary and anti-imperialist struggle, and records with regret that the national sections of the League against Imperialism have not yet developed the degree of activity demanded by the tremendous nature of their task in order to organise and mobilise all the revolutionary forces in the colonial countries, and to win the masses of the workers and peasants. This remains one of the chief tasks of the League against Imperialism.
The session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism records the fact that the International Secretariat of the League pursued a correct political line in the period from the World Congress of the League in Frankfurt am Main, and took up a correct attitude, in accordance with the decisions of the World Congress towards the most important events in the colonial countries. The Secretariat worked out concrete organisational plans for certain important countries, and in particular for Great Britain, France, Belgium, and West and South Africa. However, it is necessary to record deficiencies with frank criticism in order that they may be removed from the work and organisation of the International Secretariat. Direct connections with the colonial countries were unsatisfactory. In connection with the Arabian insurrection and with the Indian events, the International Secretariat acted on its own initiative, but in connection with certain other events, for instance, the recent campaign on behalf of the Meerut prisoners, the International Secretariat lagged behind the movement. Campaigns in the various countries which were given a good send off, were directed only in their preliminary stages and the result was that they slacked off too quickly and no organisational results were obtained. Insufficient activity was carried on in connection with the organisation of protest campaigns against the terror in China and Indochina. Further, the fact that the international journal of the League has not yet been published, and that in general very little anti-imperialist literature has appeared, must be regarded as deficiencies in the work of the International Secretariat. In the future the active mass work must be led by the International Secretariat in the imperialist and colonial countries to a much greater extent than was previously the case. However, the work of the International Secretariat can only be successful if the sections seriously take up the question of enlarging their organisation and intensifying their work. The session of the Executive Committee is compelled to record the fact that with the exception of certain successes in Great Britain (as, for instance, the recent National Conference) there has been very little organisational progress in the imperialist countries, despite the efforts of the International Secretariat. The French section has distinguished itself by especial passivity. The Executive Committee expects from the sections that they will now energetically take up the task of abolishing the deficiencies of their organisational work. In those countries where no anti-imperialist organisations are in existence, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, etc., steps must now be taken to found them.
Minimum Programmatic Demands of the League
The League against Imperialism must really become a fighting association of all national-revolutionary movements in the colonial countries of all oppressed peoples and all national minorities in Europe. Through its sections and affiliated organisations the League must mobilise the working masses of the imperialist countries for an active struggle in the anti-imperialist front.
The session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism declares that in this new and higher stage of the anti-imperialist struggle, the following programmatic demands must be taken as laying down the general lines of the activity of the organisation:
1. The complete national independence of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples;
2. The full right of self-determination for all oppressed nationalities;
3. The removal of the imperialist armed forces from all colonial and semi-colonial countries;
4. Complete freedom of movement for all national-revolutionary organisations, and in particular for all revolutionary working class and peasant organisations;
5. The confiscation without compensation of all undertakings, mines, banks, plantations, lands, etc., at present in the possession of the imperialists and the nationalisation of the same. The abolition of all debts to the imperialists and the abolition of all reparations payments.
6. The confiscation without compensation of all lands at present in the possession of rich landowners and the distribution of the same amongst the working peasants.
Only those who are honestly prepared to support and fight for these demands can be regarded as revolutionary fighters against imperialist colonial oppression.
On this basis the session of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism instructs its Secretariat as follows:
a) to work out a program according to the above programmatic
demands and to submit the same to the sections of the League for
b) in view of the tremendous importance of the struggle of the national minorities, to work systematically to group these minorities around the League against Imperialism, to persuade them to affiliate to the League, and to give them the necessary representation in the Executive Committee;
c) to win the representatives of the oppressed nationalities and the oppressed national minorities to a greater extent than previously for co-operation with and representation on the organs of the Executive Committee;
d) to take all the steps necessary for the publication of a journal popularising the program and the slogans of the League against Imperialism, to carry the objects of the League to the broad masses, and to form an ideological rallying point for the struggle against imperialism;
e) to encourage the activities of the League sections particularly in the imperialist countries, and to pay special attention to individual countries by the formation of special initiative groups to establish connections with the broad masses;
f) to strengthen the League against Imperialism by rallying all revolutionary working class and peasant organisations, and all national-revolutionary organisations in the colonial and semi-colonial countries;
g) to pay particular attention to the consolidation of the anti-imperialist organisations in the Near East and Latin America;
h) to see to it that the members of the Executive Committee of the League against Imperialism take a greater personal part in the organisation and propagation of the anti-imperialist struggle;
i) to pay special attention to the extension of the youth work, to strengthen the work of the International Youth Secretariat and to extend and strengthen the youth sections in the various countries;
On the National Revolutionary Movement of the Oppressed Peoples of Europe adopted by the Executive Committee of the League Against Imperialism, June 2, 1931
A) Against National Oppression in Europe.
1. In the name of the national-revolutionary organisations all over the world the League against Imperialism and for National Independence protests indignantly against the scandalous national oppression of millions of people belonging to the national minorities in Poland, Roumania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Alsace-Lorraine and Spain, who are forced into a yoke of oppressive exploitation and national persecution by a handful of imperialists of the dominant nations.
2. During the world war and at the conclusion of the robber treaties of Versailles, St. Germain, Trianon and Neuilly, the imperialists of the victorious nations shamefully betrayed their pledges to grant national self-determination and to protect the rights of the national minorities. They robbed over 40 millions of people of their right to national freedom, including Ukrainians, White Russians, Germans, Alsatians, Catalonians, Basques, Hungarians, Slovakians, Croats, Slovenians, Macedonians, Albanians, Montenegrins, Thracians, Bulgarians and Moldavians. Even the modest beginnings of self-administration were abolished. The schools of the national minorities were destroyed and all possible efforts were made to destroy their mother tongue.
3. The imperialists built up a complicated system in which they played off the small nationalities against each other, and in which they established a whole scale of dependence and oppression. Within the new national frontiers of Europe, which were dictated by the robber interests of imperialism, a series of imperialist vassal States were founded: Poland, Roumania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Greece. A number of countries were forced into direct dependence on the victor countries. They were themselves oppressed, but at the same time they were the oppressors, of other nations whose national subjugation was "entrusted" to them by the great imperialist powers.
4. The situation of the masses of those peoples oppressed by imperialism grew more difficult after the war than ever before. Side by side with the old policy of assimilation there appear prominently to-day essential characteristics of colonial enslavement and exploitation, whereby the standards of life and the working conditions of the toiling masses are depressed more and more to a colonial level. Ruthless exploitation coupled with an arbitrary regime of brutal violence forces the workers and peasants of the oppressed nationalities deeper and deeper into poverty and misery and robs the oppressed nationalities of every possibility of independent economic development even in Alsace-Lorraine, German Bohemia und Catalonia, and still more in Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Carpatho-Ukrainia, the Bukovina, Transylvania, Voivodina, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Cyprus, Venezia Julia, the southern Tyrol, the Dodocanese, etc., where imperialist robbery, terrorism and other colonial methods of oppression are applied in their severest forms. In Western Ukrainia, West White Russia, Bessarabia, the Dobrudja, Macedonia, Thrace and Kossovo a bloody regime of repression prevails, a definite policy of exterminating the native population, with mass arrests, fearful tortures, massacres and the deportation of the "recreant" section of the native population.
5. The right of self-determination and the principle of the equality of nations could not be mocked to a greater extent than has been the case in the post-war period under the Versailles system of robber imperialism. The League of Nations and other imperialist post-war organisations and institutions are working zealously to maintain the Versailles system. The so-called Congress of the National Minorities which meets every year and unites the worst renegades and agents of imperialism, misuses the appearance of defending the rights of the national minorities in order to reconcile the nationally oppressed masses with the Versailles system, to deflect these masses from the struggle for national freedom and to cloak the national oppression carried out by imperialism. The League against Imperialism which opposes irreconcilably and determinedly all forms of imperialist oppression and exploitation resolves to organise a ceaseless mass struggle against all forms of national oppression and discrimination with a view to winning complete independence for the oppressed nationalities.
6. The only exception and the only real solution of the national question witnessed in the post-war period is the system of the Soviet Union formed on the territory of the former Czarist Empire. This system guarantees absolute equality, voluntary co-operation and economic development for the various nations united in it and makes possible the development of national culture with a socialist content.
B) The Demands of the Struggle for Freedom.
A real solution of the national question, full national independence, demands a determined and ceaseless anti-imperialist struggle on the part of the masses of the people, above all against the imperialism of the dominant nation. The struggle must be conducted for the following demands:
a) The right of self-determination for all oppressed nationalities up to and including the right to sever themselves from the countries to which they are attached;
b) Complete equality and protection against all forms of national oppression for the national minorities which live scattered on the territories of other nations;
Apart from these fundamental demands, the movement for national freedom in the various countries must put forward a series of concrete demands against all forms of national oppression, and in particular such demands as:
1. against various economic measures adopted by the bourgeoisie of the dominant countries (taxation, customs duties, price manipulations, subsidies and wage depression) which aim at exploiting and enslaving the dependent nations (for instance, in Western Ukrainia, West White Russia, Carpatho-Ukrainia, Slovakia, Croatia, Macedonia, the Dobrudja, Bessarabia, etc.).
2. against the liquidation of the school system of the national minorities, against the attempts to destroy the language of the national minorities, against the attempts to deprive the national minorities of the right at unhindered movement against the prohibition and against every attempt to limit the use of the language of the national minorities in relations with official institutions, before the courts and in the administrative apparatus, etc. and for the setting up of schools living instruction in the mother tongue of the national minorities, and for complete freedom in the use of the mother tongue in word and writing;
3. against arbitrary oppression, corruption and terrorism on the part of the foreign administrative apparatus, for the removal of foreign bureaucrats and police, against the sending of soldiers from the national minorities to other parts of the country, and the occupation of the territory of the country, and the occupation of the territory of the national minorities by soldiers of foreign nationalities;
4. against those forms of centralised administration which even abolish the moderate rights of local autonomy, against the destruction of the local and provincial self-administrations (particularly in Roumania, Yugoslavia, Alsace-Lorraine, Macedonia and the Dobrudja), whereby at the same time the national reformist policy of substituting bargaining concerning local autonomy for the struggle for self-determination must be exposed and opposed;
5. against the mass deportations of national minorities by depriving them of civil rights, by compelling them to choose one nationality or the other, by "exchanging" them with other countries (particularly in Macedonia, Thrace, Transylvania and Slovakia).
The following demands on behalf of the oppressed workers and peasants who are most threatened in their economic existence, must be put forward within the framework of the national-revolutionary struggle:
6. against violence and exploitation coupled with national oppression which particularly aggravate the position of the working class of the oppressed nations, for higher wages, for the seven hour day, for social insurance, for the right of combination for the working class;
7. against the intensified robbery by means of taxation practised by the imperialists in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, against forced auctioning of the property of the peasants for failure to pay taxation (as in West Ukrainia, West White Russia, the Carpatho-Ukrainia, Transylvania, Macedonia, etc.), against the brutal punitive expeditions (as in Kossovo and in Western Ukrainia); for the annulment of all bank and mortgage debts at present burdening the toiling peasantry.
8. For the confiscation without compensation of the land of the rich owners and its distribution amongst the landworkers, poor and middle peasants of the national minorities (particularly in Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Roumania, Greece and Spain), against the colonising policy pursued by foreign imperialism on the territory of the national minorities (as in Kossovo, Macedonia, Thrace, the Dobrudja, West Ukrainia, Croatia, Transylvania, Carpatho-Ukrainia and Slovakia), for the immediate return of the land to peasants who have been driven off, whereby the working colonists must receive full compensation at the cost of the rich landowners through the State; for the right of the deported, driven off and exchanged population to return to their land.
9. For an immediate general political amnesty for all national-revolutionary fighters for emancipation.
C) Against the Agents and Allies of Imperialism in the Ranks of the Oppressed Nationalities.
1. The struggle against the main enemy, the direct external enemy, imperialism, is closely connected with the struggle against the agents of this enemy in the ranks of the oppressed nationalities. These elements are paid agents and direct instruments of the imperialist policy of exploitation and enslavement (for instance, the Ukrainian renegades of the former Petlura type, or Archbishop Count Szepticki and Chomyczyn in Western Ukrainia, the former Raditch supporters like Karla Kovatchevitch in Croatia, etc.). These renegades act openly as the instruments of the imperialist bourgeoisie of the dominant country and are openly supported by the imperialist bourgeoisie as the most effective instruments in the struggle against the national-revolutionary movement for freedom. As a general rule these elements have no influence on the masses of the population of the oppressed nationality. They belong to the camp of the external enemy, the imperialist bourgeoisie of the dominant nation, and must be fought as such.
2. More dangerous than the open instruments of the dominant imperialist bourgeoisie, are the internal enemies of the national-revolutionary movement. These are the national reformist parties and groups amongst the oppressed nationalities, and they conduct a pseudo-opposition to national oppression for the benefit of the oppressed masses. In reality, however, their only aim is to obtain a larger share, of the exploitation of the working population of the oppressed nationality, an exploitation which they wish to carry out jointly with the dominant imperialist bourgeoisie. In this way they betray every day the anti-imperialist struggle of the masses of the people for freedom by conducting a policy of national capitulation and by flirting with other foreign imperialists. The danger of the national reformists is above all the fact that they have mass influence. The more these national reformists lose their mass influence as a result of their systematic treachery, the more necessary will it become for the bourgeoisie to utilise another internal enemy of the national-revolutionary movement, the national fascist organisations. (The best examples of such organisations are: the fascist organisation in Macedonia, the so-called "Internal Macedonian Organisation", the fascist Dobrudjan organisation in Bulgaria, the fascist Albanian organisation "Bascimi Kombatari" in Yugoslavia, and the "UNDO" in Western Ukrainia, etc.). It is of the very greatest importance that the nationalist demagogy of the national reformists and of the national fascists should be continuously exposed. This nationalist demagogy is nothing but a means of detracting the oppressed masses of the people from the path of the undeviating anti-imperialist mass struggle in the form of a united front with the revolutionary proletariat of other nations. It is also necessary to expose and fight systematically against the demagogy of the imperialists, for example, the convening of the Balkan conferences, and their slogan of a "Balkan Federation". The national reformists and the Social Democratic Parties take a zealous part in this demagogy. With this demagogy the imperialists hope to detract the oppressed nations, and the toiling masses of the Balkans from the correct revolutionary path which leads to national and social freedom, and to utilise them for imperialist ends and in particular in the preparations for imperialist war.
3. The social democrats are everywhere the most zealous supporters and defenders of the policy of oppression conducted by their own imperialist bourgeoisie, and the social democrats of the oppressed nations work together with the treacherous bourgeoisie and with the national reformists against the national-revolutionary movement for emancipation (the social democrats in Macedonia, the Dobrudja and in Croatia, the German social democrats in Czechoslovakia). The interests of the struggle for the national emancipation of the oppressed nationalities also demands a determined struggle against the Social Democratic Parties of the imperialist countries, which practically are in the services of the dominant bourgeoisie and which at the same time encourage the national-reformist policy of deception amongst the masses of the oppressed people in order to detract these masses from the national-revolutionary and anti-imperialist struggle.
D) Fighting Co-operation between the National-Revolutionary Movement and the International Proletarian Movement.
The national-revolutionary movement, which ceaselessly mobilises the working masses of the oppressed nationalities, the working class, the toiling peasantry and the working sections of the urban petty-bourgeoisie, in mass actions against all forms of national oppression, can only be really successful if it does everything possible in order to win the broadest masses of the working people of the other nationalities living within the same political State form as allies in this joint struggle. It is also necessary to draw the masses of the fugitives of the respective oppressed nations (Macedonians, Dobrudjans, Thracians, etc.) and also the emigrants into the national-revolutionary struggle for freedom. Above all it is essential for the national-revolutionary struggle for freedom that a close fighting co-operation should be established with the revolutionary proletariat of the dominant country or nation in order to secure the overthrow of the chief enemy, the imperialist bourgeoisie of the dominant nation.
National oppression cannot be separated from the essence of imperialism and can only finally be abolished by a joint and determined anti-imperialist struggle of the masses of the oppressed peoples and classes.
The example of the Soviet Union demonstrates convincingly that a
satisfactory solution of the national question and the establishment of
voluntary economic and cultural co-operation between the nations are
only possible on the basis of a revolutionary alliance which the masses
of the people of the oppressed nationalities must conclude with the
international revolutionary proletariat, with the Soviet Union and with
the national-revolutionary struggle for emancipation in the colonial
and semi-colonial countries.
Click here to return to the index of
archival material, Colonial Question