Sixth Congress


17 July – l September

Theses on the Revolutionary Movement in the Colonies and Semi-Colonies

1. Introduction

Changes in the International Situation

1. The Sixth Congress of the Communist International declares that the “Theses on the National and Colonial Questions” drawn up by Lenin and adopted at the Second Congress are still valid, and should serve as a guiding line for the further work of the communist parties. Since the time of the Second Congress the actual significance of the colonies and semi-colonies, as factors of crisis in the imperialist world system, has vastly increased.

On the one hand, as necessary objects of exploitation for imperialism, the colonies have become a perpetual source of conflicts and wars between the imperialists to an even higher degree than in the past. Wars, and new plans for wars, by individual imperialist states against various peoples which have remained more or less independent, as well as intensified preparations of the imperialist powers for wars against each other for a new division of the colonies, continue without ceasing.

On the other hand, the vast colonial and semi-colonial world has become an unquenchable blazing furnace of the revolutionary mass movement. The basis of this phenomenon, which is of colossal historical importance, is furnished in part by changes which have taken place, during and after the imperialist world war, in the internal situation of the most important colonies and semi-colonies – in their economic and social structure – e.g. the strengthening of the elements of capitalist and of industrial development, the intensification of the agrarian crisis, the growth of the proletariat and the beginning of its organisation, the pauperisation of the mass of the peasantry, etc. In part also the basis is to be found in changes in the international situation; on the one hand, the difficulties encountered by the leading imperialist powers during the world war and in the post-war crisis of world capitalism, and afterwards, as a result of the imperialist “peace”, the intensified rapacious aggressiveness of the colonial policy of Great Britain, Japan, the United States, France, Italy and Holland; on the other hand, the transformation of Russia from an imperialist into an anti-imperialist proletarian power, the victorious struggle of the peoples of the Soviet Union in defence of their independence, the example of the revolutionary solution of the national question in the Soviet Union and of the revolutionising influence of the work of building up socialism there, and, furthermore, the strengthening of the communist movement in the capitalist countries and the activity of this movement in the defence of the colonies.

All these circumstances immeasurably accelerated the process of the political awakening of the vast human masses in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, and led to a whole series of important revolutionary mass risings, in most cases, moreover, on the basis of a close-knit, characteristic association of the anti-imperialist emancipatory struggle with the development of the forces of internal class struggle.

The Chinese Revolution

2. Of first-rate international importance was the Chinese revolution. The shooting down of the Chinese workers in Shanghai on 30 May 1925 was the signal for the letting loose of a revolutionary wave until then unparalleled in China. The most important industrial centres of China-Shanghai, Tientsien, Hankow, Canton and the British colony of Hong-Kong – were the arena of a mass revolutionary strike struggle which called forth an answering wave of mass peasant revolts against the Chinese landlords and gentry in the rural districts. Already, at this early stage of the wide national-revolutionary front, the national bourgeoisie attempted to limit the revolutionary struggle exclusively to such national tasks as the fight against the imperialists and the anti-imperialist boycott. Almost simultaneously with the rise of the revolutionary wave, the counter-revolution began to organise its forces (Chiang Kai-shek’s coup d’etat in March 1926, the firing on student demonstrations in Peking, the formation of a right group in the Kuomintang, the start of the struggle against the peasantry in Kwantung and Kwansi, etc.). The Northern Expedition, which began in the summer of 1926, the capture of a number of provinces and the defeat and disintegration of a whole series of reactionary militarist groups were accompanied by an enormous growth of the mass movement (the seizure of the British concessions in Hankow and Kiukiang, the general strike in Shanghai, which developed into an armed insurrection, and the gigantic growth of the peasant movement). The successful insurrection in Shanghai in April 1927 posed the question of the hegemony of the proletariat in the national-revolutionary movement, finally impelled the native bourgeoisie into the camp of reaction and called forth the counterrevolutionary coup d’etat of Chiang Kai-shek.

The independent activity of the workers in the struggle for power, and above all the further growth of the peasant movement, which developed into agrarian revolution, impelled also the Wuhan government, which had been established under the leadership of the petty-bourgeois wing of the Kuomintang, to go over to the camp of the counterrevolution. The revolutionary wave, however, was near to subsidence. In the course of a number of uprisings (the rising led by Ho-Lung and Ye-Ting, and the peasant uprisings in Hunan, Hupeh, Kwantung and Kiangsu) the working class and peasantry still strove to tear the power from the hands of the imperialists, bourgeoisie and landlords, and in this way to avert the defeat of the revolution. But in this they were not successful. The last powerful onslaught of this revolutionary wave was the insurrection of the heroic Canton proletariat, which under the slogan of Soviets attempted to link up the agrarian revolution with the overthrow of the Kuomintang and the establishment of the dictatorship of the workers and peasants.

The Indian Movement

3. In India the policy of British imperialism, which used to retard the development of native industry, evoked great dissatisfaction among the Indian bourgeoisie. The class consolidation of the latter which replaced its former division into religious sects and castes, and which was expressed in the fusion of the Indian National Congress (organ of the Indian bourgeoisie) with the Muslim League effected in 1916, confronted British imperialists with a national united front in the country. Fear of the revolutionary movement during the war compelled British imperialism to make concessions to the native bourgeoisie which found expression, in the economic sphere, in insignificant parliamentary reforms introduced in 1919. Nevertheless, a strong ferment, expressing itself in a series of revolutionary outbreaks against British imperialism, was produced among the masses of the Indian people as a result of the ruinous consequences of the imperialist war (famine and epidemics, 1918), the catastrophic deterioration of the position of wide sections of the working population, the influence of the October revolution in Russia and of a series of insurrections in various colonial countries (as, for example, the struggle of the Turkish people for independence). This first great anti-imperialist movement in India (1919-1922) ended in the betrayal of the cause of the national revolution by the Indian bourgeoisie, which in the main was caused by terror before the rising wave of peasant insurrections, and also by the workers’ strikes against native employers. The collapse of the national-revolutionary movement and the gradual decline of bourgeois nationalism enabled British imperialism once more to return to a policy of hindering the industrial development of India. The recent measures of British imperialism in India show that the objective contradictions between British colonial monopoly and the tendencies in the direction of the independent economic development of India are becoming more accentuated from year to year, and are leading to a new revolutionary crisis.

The real threat to British domination comes, not from the bourgeois camp, but from the growing mass movement of the Indian workers, which is developing in the form of large scale strikes; at the same time the accentuation of the crisis in the village bears witness to the maturing of an agrarian revolution. All these phenomena are leading to a radical transformation of the whole political situation in India.


4. In Indonesia Dutch imperialism is compelled in an ever-increasing degree to give its more powerful neighbours (American and British imperialism) the opportunity of importing foreign commodities and foreign capital into this colony. Thus Dutch imperialism itself in Indonesia is actually more and more compelled to play a subordinate role, as, so to say, that of a “commissionaire” who at the same time is compelled to perform the functions of a policeman and an executioner. The immediate impulse of the insurrection which broke out in Java in November 1926 was given by the economic crisis, and the resulting worsening of the conditions of the mass of the population, as well as by the cruel repression exercised by the government against the national-revolutionary movement. To a considerable degree the rebellion was carried out under the leadership of the communists. The government succeeded in drowning the insurrection in blood, in suppressing the Communist Party, and in executing or throwing into prison thousands of the best leaders of the proletariat and peasantry. Insignificant reforms, instituted thereafter by the government in order to weaken the hatred of the masses and to purchase the assistance of the national-reformist leaders for the work of “pacification” of the masses, have in no way improved the conditions of the working sections of the people. The continuing economic crisis in the country, especially in the sugar and rubber industries, the capitalist offensive with the object of worsening the conditions of labour, and growing unemployment create the objective preconditions for the inevitable new rising of the masses of workers and peasants against the ruling imperialism.

Northern Africa and Syria

5. In North Africa in 1925 there began a series of rebellions of the Kabyle tribes of the Riff against French and Spanish imperialism, followed by the rebellions of the Druse tribes in the mandated territory of Syria against French imperialism. In Morocco the imperialists only succeeded in dealing with these rebellions after a prolonged war. The intensified penetration of foreign capital into these countries is already calling into life new social forces. The appearance and growth of an urban proletariat manifests itself in a wave of mass strikes that are, for the first time, sweeping over Palestine, Syria, Tunis and Algiers. Gradually, but very slowly, the peasantry also is being drawn into the struggle in these countries.

Latin America

6. The growing economic and military expansion of North American imperialism in the countries of Latin America is transforming this continent into one of the most important meeting places of the antagonisms of the whole imperialist colonial system. The influence of Great Britain, which before the war was the decisive influence in these countries, and which reduced many of them to the position of semi-colonies, is being replaced since the war by a still greater dependence on the United States. By means of its increased export of capital, North American imperialism is conquering the commanding positions in the economy of these countries, subordinating their governments to its own financial control and at the same time swallowing them one after other. This aggressive policy of American imperialism is more and more taking on a character of undisguised violence, passing over into armed intervention (e.g. Nicaragua). The national-emancipatory struggle against American imperialism which has begun in Latin America is taking place for the most part under the leadership of the petty-bourgeoisie. The national bourgeoisie, which represents a thin stratum of the population (with the exception of. Argentine, Brazil and Chile), and which is connected, on the one hand, with the big landowners, and, on the other hand, with American capital, is in the camp of the counterrevolution.

The Mexican revolution, which began as a revolutionary peasant struggle for land against the landowners and the church, at the same time to a considerable degree assumed the character of a mass struggle against American and British imperialism, and led to the formation of a government of the petty-bourgeoisie, which endeavoured to keep itself in power by means of concessions to the big landowners and to North-American imperialism. The peasant risings, strikes of workers, etc. in Ecuador directed against the government of the landlords of the Guayaquil bankers and commercial bourgeoisie ended in a military coup d’etat and the establishment of a military dictatorship in 1925. The series of military revolutions in Chile, the guerilla war in Nicaragua against North-American imperialism, the series of risings in South Brazil, the uprising of the agricultural labourers in Patagonia and Argentine, the revolt of the Indians in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, the mutinies and spontaneous general strikes and mass demonstrations in Venezuela and Colombia, the mass anti-imperialist movement in Cuba and throughout the whole of Central America, Colombia, etc. – all these are events of the last few years which bear witness to the widening and deepening of the revolutionary process and, in particular, to the ever-growing popular indignation in the Latin-American countries against world imperialism.

Contradictions of Imperialism

7. In the majority of cases imperialism has up to now succeeded in bloody suppression of the revolutionary movement in the colonial countries. But all the fundamental questions raised by these movements remain unsolved.

The objective contradiction between the colonial policy of world imperialism and the independent development of the colonial peoples is by no means done away with, neither in China, nor in India, nor in any other of the colonial and semi-colonial countries; on the contrary, the contradiction only becomes more acute and can be overcome only by the victorious revolutionary struggle of the toiling masses in the colonies. Until this contradiction is overcome it will continue to operate in every colony and semi-colony as one of the most powerful objective factors making for revolution. At the same time, the colonial policy of the imperialist powers acts as a powerful stimulant to antagonisms and wars between these powers. This antagonism is becoming more and more acute, especially in the semi-colonies, and notwithstanding the blocs that are frequently established between the imperialists, it plays a fairly important role. The greatest significance, however, for the development of the revolutionary movement in the colonies is borne by the contradictions between the imperialist world, on the one hand, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the revolutionary labour movement in the capitalist countries on the other hand.

The Colonies and the Social Revolution

8. The establishment of a fighting front between the active forces of the socialist world revolution (the Soviet Union and the revolutionary labour movement in the capitalist countries) on the one side, and between the forces of imperialism on the other side, is of fundamental importance in the present epoch of world history. The toiling masses of the colonies struggling against imperialist slavery represent a most powerful auxiliary force of the socialist world revolution. The colonial countries at the present time constitute for world imperialism the most dangerous sector of their front. The revolutionary emancipatory movements of the colonies and semi colonies more and more rally around the banner of the Soviet Union, convincing themselves by bitter experience that there is no salvation for them except through alliance with the revolutionary proletariat, and through the victory of the world proletarian revolution over world imperialism. The proletariat of the USSR, and the workers’ movement in the capitalist countries, headed by the Communist International, in their turn are supporting and will more and more effectively support in deeds the emancipatory struggle of all the colonial and other dependent peoples; they are the only sure bulwark of the colonial peoples in their struggle for final liberation from the yoke of imperialism. Furthermore, the alliance with the USSR and with the revolutionary proletariat of the imperialist countries creates for the toiling masses of the people of China, India and all other colonial and semi-colonial countries the possibility of an independent, free, economic and cultural development, avoiding the stage of the domination of the capitalist system or even the development of capitalist relations in general.

Thus, the whole perspective of development of the colonial peoples is bounded by a new framework in the epoch of imperialism, of wars and of revolution, an epoch in which is born the proletarian dictatorship. Since the analysis of contemporary world economy as a whole in no way leads to the perspective of a new prolonged period of flourishing capitalism, but, on the contrary, leads to the inevitability of the overthrow of capitalism, which has already fulfilled its progressive historical role, has already become a brake on further development, is already in process of disintegration (and giving place to the proletarian dictatorship, e.g. the USSR), and is leading humanity to ever new catastrophes – all this denotes the presence of the objective possibility of a non-capitalist path of development for the backward colonies, the possibility of the “growing-over” of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the leading colonies into the proletarian socialist revolution with the aid of the victorious proletarian dictatorship in the other countries. Under favourable .objective conditions this possibility is converted into reality, whereby the true path of development is determined by struggle and by struggle alone. Consequently the theoretical and practical defence of this path, and the most self-sacrificing struggle for it, is the duty of all communists. In connection with this perspective there arises before the colonies also the problem of revolutionary power on the basis of soviets.

Thus all the basic questions of the revolutionary movement in the colonies and semi-colonies are found to have an immediate connection with the great epoch making struggle between the capitalist and socialist systems – a struggle which at present is being conducted by imperialism against the USSR on a world scale, and inside each separate capitalist country between bourgeois class rule and the communist movement.

In this struggle the cooperation of the revolutionary proletariat of the whole world and of the toiling masses of the colonics represents the surest guarantee of victory over imperialism. In this struggle every conflict between two imperialist states and war of the imperialists against the USSR must be utilised in the colonies for the mobilisation of the masses and for drawing them into a decisive struggle against imperialism, for national emancipation and for the victory of the workers and peasants.

II. The Characteristic Features of Colonial Economics and of Imperialist Colonial Policy

Effects of Imperialism in the Colonies

9. The recent history of the colonies can only be understood if it is looked upon as an organic constituent part of the development of capitalist world economy as a whole, beginning with its earliest forms and ending with its latest stage, viz imperialism.

In proportion as capitalism more and more strongly draws the immense colonial areas into the sphere of its world economy based on exploitation and profit-hunting, there is seen, reflected as in a mirror, in the economic and political history of the colonial and semi-colonial countries all the characteristic features of the so called “civilising” and cultural mission of the capitalist mode of production and of the bourgeois social order. In particular, it reveals with merciless accuracy all the methods and practices of “primary capitalist accumulation”. Its policy of conquest and oppression, unsurpassed in cruelty, bound up as it has been with colonial robbery and punitive expeditions, with opium wars and piratical raids for the compulsory provision of the native populations with Bibles, whisky and other trash, as conducted by the most Christian countries of Europe and America, was one of the most important factors which hastened the consolidation of the capitalist structure.

In spite of the disgusting lies of the imperialists and of their reformist lackeys (MacDonald, Otto Bauer and Co), who maintain that imperialism “educates the backward races for prosperity, progress and culture”, the transition to the epoch of monopolist capitalism in no way lightened the yoke weighing upon the many millions of the mass of humanity in the colonial countries. The devastating consequences everywhere brought about by capitalist development, in particular in the first stage of its existence, are reproduced in the colonies to a monstrous degree and at an accelerated rate, owing to the penetration of foreign capital. The progressive results of capitalism, on the other hand, are, for the most part, completely lacking in the colonies. Where in the colonies the ruling imperialism is in need of social  support, it first of all allies itself with the ruling strata of the previous social structure, with the feudal lords and with the trading and money-lending bourgeoisie, against the majority of the people. Everywhere imperialism attempts to preserve and to perpetuate all those pre-capitalist forms of exploiting (especially in the villages) which serve as the basis for the existence of its reactionary allies. The mass of the people in these countries are compelled to payout enormous sums for the upkeep of the military, police and administrative apparatus of the colonial regime. The growth of famines and epidemics, particularly among the pauperised peasantry, the mass expropriation of the land of the native population, the inhuman conditions of labour (on the plantations and mines of the white capitalists, and so on), which at times are worse than open slavery – all this exerts its devastating effect on the colonial population and not infrequently leads to the dying out of whole nationalities. The “cultural role” of the imperialist states in the colonies is in reality expressed in the role of an executioner.

The Dominions

10. In the colonial countries it is necessary to distinguish between those colonies of the capitalist countries which have served them as colonising regions for their surplus population, and which in this way have become a continuation of their capitalist system (Australia, Canada, etc.), and those colonies which are exploited by the imperialists primarily as markets for their commodities, as sources of raw material and as spheres for the export of capital. This distinction has not only a historic but also a great economic and political significance. The colonies of the first type on the basis of their general development became ‘‘dominions’’, that is, members of the given imperialist system with equal, or nearly equal, rights. Capitalist development reproduces among the white population the class structure of the metropolis,* while the native population was, for the most part, exterminated. There cannot be there any talk of the colonial regime in the form that it shows itself in the colonies of the second type. Between these two types is to be found a transitional type (in various forms) where, alongside the numerous native population, there exists a very considerable population of white colonists (South Africa, New Zealand, Algiers, etc.). The bourgeoisie, which has come from the metropolis, in essence represents in these countries (emigrant colonies) nothing else than a colonial extension of the bourgeoisie of the metropolis. The interests of this bourgeoisie coincide to a considerable degree with the colonial interests of the metropolis. The metropolis is interested to a certain extent in the strengthening of its capitalist subsidiary in the colonies, in particular when this subsidiary of imperialism is successful in enslaving the original native population or even in completely destroying it. On the other hand, the competition between various imperialist systems for influence in the semi-independent countries can lead also to their breaking off from the metropolis and even to a union with the competitors of the latter. These reasons frequently compel imperialism to reconcile itself to a certain political and economic independence of its agencies in such colonies (dominions), which arise on the basis of its united and native strength in relation to the corresponding imperialism.

*The imperial centre – the “mother country”.

Parasitic Nature of imperialism

11. The imperialist colonial regime is essentially based not only on economic pressure but also on the extra economic compulsion of the monopoly of the bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries in the corresponding dependent countries. This monopoly, however, expresses itself in two basic functions: on the one hand it serves the purpose of merciless exploitation of the colony (various forms of immediate and indirect exaction of tribute, super-profits in connection with the sale of its own industrial goods, with the obtaining of cheap raw material for its own industry and with the utilisation of very cheap labour power, etc.); on the other hand the imperialist monopoly serves for the preservation and development of the conditions of its own existence, the functions of enslavement of the colonial masses.

In its function as colonial exploiter, the ruling imperialism in relation to the colonial country acts primarily as a parasite sucking the blood from the economic organism of the latter. The fact that this parasite in relation to its victim represents a society with a highly-developed culture makes it a so much the more powerful and dangerous exploiter, but, from the point of view of the colonial country, this in no way alters the parasitic character of its function. Capitalist exploitation in every imperialist country has proceeded by way of the development of productive forces. The specific colonial forms of capitalist exploitation, put into operation by the same British, French or any other bourgeoisie, in the final analysis hinder the development of productive forces of the colonies concerned. The carrying through of the minimum of constructive activity (railways, harbours, etc.) is indispensable both for military domination in the country and for guaranteeing the uninterrupted activity of the taxation machine, as well as for the trading needs of the imperialist countries. Agriculture in the colonies is compelled to a considerable degree to work for export, but peasant economy is thereby no means liberated from the oppression of its pre-capitalist features. As a general rule it is converted to a “free” trading economy by means of the subordination of the pre-capitalist forms of production to the needs of finance capital, the deepening of pre-capitalist methods of exploitation through subjection of peasant economy to the yoke of rapidly-developing trade and usury capital, the increase of tax burdens, etc. The exploitation of the peasantry is increased, but the productive methods of the latter are not improved. As a general rule, the industrial working up of the colonial raw material is not carried out in the colonies themselves, but in the capitalist countries, and primarily in the metropolis. The profits obtained in the colonies are, for the most part, not expended productively, but are sucked out of the country and are invested either in the metropolis or in new spheres of expansion on the part of the imperialism concerned. Thus the fundamental tendency of colonial exploitation acts in the direction of hindering the development of the productive forces in the colonies, of despoiling them of their natural riches, and, above all, of exhausting the reserves of human productive forces in the colonial countries,

Development Hindered by Imperialism

12. In as much, however, as colonial exploitation presupposes a certain encouragement of the development of production in the colonies this development, thanks to the imperialist monopoly, is directed on such lines and accelerated only in such a degree as corresponds to the interests of the metropolis, and, in particular, to the interests of the preservation of its colonial monopoly. It may cause a part of the peasantry, for example, to pass over from grain cultivation to the production of cotton, sugar or rubber (Sudan, Cuba, Java, Egypt), but this takes place in such a way and by such means that it not only in no way corresponds to the interests of the independent economic development of the colonial country, but, on the contrary, still further strengthens the dependence of the latter on the imperialist metropolis. With the object of widening the raw material base for world imperialism, there are created new agricultural crops in the place of those destroyed by colonial policy. New systems of irrigation are constructed with the same object in view in the place of the old ones that have been destroyed, and become in the hands of the imperialists a weapon for increasing the exploitation of the peasantry. With a view to widening the internal market, attempts are undertaken to adapt to the capitalist mode of production the agrarian relationships which are partly created by colonial policy itself. Plantations of various kinds serve the interest of metropolitan finance capital. The exploitation of the mineral wealth of the colonies is conducted in accordance with the needs of the metropolitan industry, especially its need to put an end to dependence on sources of raw materials in other countries to which the monopoly of this imperialism does not extend.

These are the main spheres of colonial production. Only where manufacture constitutes a very simple process (tobacco industry, sugar refineries, etc.) or where the expense of transporting raw material can be considerably decreased by the first stage of manufacture being performed on the spot, does the development of production in the colonies attain comparatively large dimensions. In any case, the capitalist enterprises created by the imperialists in the colonies (with the exception of a few enterprises established in case of military needs) are predominantly or exclusively of an agrarian-capitalist character, and are distinguished by a low organic composition of capital. Real industrialisation of the colonial country, in particular the building up of a flourishing engineering industry, which might make possible the independent development of the productive forces of the country, is not accelerated, but, on the contrary, is hindered by the metropolis. This is the essence of its function of colonial enslavement: the colonial country is compelled to sacrifice the interests of its independent development and to play the part of an economic (agrarian-raw material) appendage to foreign capitalism, which, at the expense of the labouring classes of the colonial country, strengthens the economic and political power of the imperialist bourgeoisie in order to perpetuate the monopoly of the latter in the colonies and to increase its expansion as compared with the rest of the world.

Just as the “classical capitalism” of the pre-imperialist epoch most clearly demonstrated its negative features of destruction of the old without an equivalent creation of the new precisely in its policy of plunder, in the colonies, so also the most characteristic side of the decay of imperialism, its essential feature of usury and parasitism, is especially clearly revealed in its colonial economy. The endeavour of the great imperialist powers to adapt to an ever-increasing degree their monopolised colonies to the, needs of the capitalist economy of the metropolis not only evokes the destruction of the traditional economic structure of the indigenous colonial population, but, side by side with this, leads to the destruction of the equilibrium between separate branches of production, and, in the final analysis, leads to an artificial retardation of the development of the productive forces in the colonies.

A general tendency on the part of all the metropolitan centres is the endeavour to draw the colony into, and make it a subordinate constituent part of, the particular imperialist system concerned, in order to guarantee the latter’s economic supremacy, and so as to be able, on the one hand, to maintain it in opposition to other imperialist systems, and, on the other hand, to cut off the colony from immediate relations with world economy as a whole, and to keep to themselves the function of intermediary and supreme regulator in all its economic relations with the outer world. This tendency of the imperialists to strengthen the one-sided dependence of the colonies leads to a growth of competition between the different imperialist powers and international trusts, etc.

As conditioned by these circumstances, the development of capitalist relationships and of the exploitation of the masses of the people in the colonies assumes very varied forms.

Impoverishment of the Peasantry

13. In as much as the overwhelming mass of the colonial population is connected with land and lives in the villages, the plundering character of the forms of exploitation of the peasantry made use of by imperialism and its allies (the class of landowners and trading-usury capital) acquires a specially important significance. Owing to the interference of imperialism (imposition of taxation, import of industrial wares from the metropolis, etc.), the drawing of the village into the sphere of monetary and trading economy is accompanied here by a process of pauperisation of the peasantry, destruction of village handicraft industry, etc., and proceeds at a much more rapid rate than was the case when the same process took place in the leading capitalist countries. On the other hand, the delayed industrial development in the colonies has put sharp limits to the process of proletarianisation. This enormous disproportion between the rapid rate of destruction of the old forms of economy and the slow development of the new has given rise in China, India, Indonesia, Egypt, etc. to an extraordinary “pressure on agriculture”, and to agrarian immigration, rack-renting and extreme fragmentation of the land cultivated by the peasantry. At the same time, the whole burden of the previous feudal or semi-feudal conditions of exploitation and bondage, in somewhat “modernised”, but in no way lighter, forms, lies as before on the shoulders of the peasantry. Capitalism, which has included the colonial village into its system of taxation and trade apparatus, and which has overturned pre-capitalist relations (for instance, the destruction of the village commune), does not thereby liberate the peasants from the yoke of pre-capitalist forms of bondage and exploitation, but only gives the latter a monetary expression (feudal services and rent in kind are partially replaced by money rent, while payment of taxes in kind is replaced by money taxes, and so on), which still more increases the suffering of the peasantry. To the “assistance” of the peasants in their miserable position comes the usurer, robbing them and under certain conditions (e.g. in some localities of India and China) even creating a hereditary slavery based on their indebtedness.

Notwithstanding the great variety of agrarian relationships in different colonial countries, and even in different parts of one and the same country, the poverty-stricken position of the peasant masses is almost everywhere the same. Partly owing to unequal exchange, and partly to direct exploitation, the peasants in these countries are not in a position to raise the technical or organisational level of their economy. The productivity of their labour, as also the demand for it, is falling. The pauperisation of the peasantry in these countries is a general phenomenon. In India, China and Indonesia the pauperisation of the peasantry has reached such a height that, at the present time, the most characteristic figure in the village is the poor peasant, almost or entirely deprived of land and not infrequently suffering starvation. Big landownership is here hardly connected in any way with large-scale agriculture, but serves only as a means for extorting rents from the peasants. There is frequently to be found a hierarchy of many stages, consisting of landlords and sub-landlords, parasitic intermediate links between the labouring cultivator and the big landowner (zamindar) or the state. The ancient systems of artificial irrigation, which in these countries is of great importance for agriculture, thanks to the interference of imperialism, first of all fell into decay, and when later they were re-established on a capitalist basis, then they were found to be too dear for the peasants to make use of. Famines became a more and more frequent occurrence. The peasant finds himself completely helpless in the face of epidemics and various kinds of elemental misfortune. Wide masses of the peasantry are thrown out of the process of production; they have no chances of finding work in the towns and rarely find work in the village, where they develop into miserable coolies.

This poverty-stricken position of the peasantry denotes at the same time a crisis in the internal market for industry, which in its turn represents a powerful obstacle to the capitalist development of the country. Not only the national bourgeoisie of India, China, Egypt, etc., but also imperialism itself is sensible of this peasant misery as an obstacle in the path of the expansion of their exploitation; but the economic and political interests of both of them are so closely bound up with large ownership, as also with trading and usury capital in the village, that they are not in a position to carry through an agrarian reform of any wide significance.

Peasant domestic production and artisan production becomes more and more disintegrated. The development of trade creates an important stratum of native trading bourgeoisie, which fulfils also the functions of purchasing agent, usurer, etc. The predominance and hegemony of trading and usury capital, in the specific conditions of colonial economy, delays the growth of industrial capital. In the struggle for the internal market, national capital again and again meets with the competition of imported foreign capital in the colonial country itself and the retarding influence of pre-capitalist relations in the villages. In spite of these obstacles, there does arise in certain branches of production a native large-scale industry (chiefly light industry). National capital and national banks come into being and begin to develop.

The pitiful attempts at carrying through agrarian reforms without damaging the colonial regime are intended to facilitate the gradual conversion of semi-feudal landownership into capitalist landlordism, and in certain cases to establish a narrow stratum of kulak peasants. In practice this only leads to an ever-increasing pauperisation of the overwhelming majority of the peasants, which again, in its turn, paralyses the development of the internal market. It is on the basis of these contradictory economic processes that the most important social forces of the colonial movement have their development.

The Role of Finance Capital

14. In the period of imperialism there stands out with especial prominence the role of finance capital in the seizure of economic and political monopoly in the colonies. This especially finds expression in definite economic consequences resulting from the export of capital to the colonies. The exported capital here flows predominantly into the sphere of trade, it functions mainly as usurious loan capital and it pursues the task of preserving and strengthening the oppressive apparatus of the imperialist state in the colonial country (by the aid of state loans etc.), or of achieving full control over the so-called independent state organs of the native bourgeoisie in the colonial countries.

The export of capital to the colonies hastens the development in them of capitalist relations. A portion of the exported capital, dispatched to the colony for productive purposes, does in part conduce to an acceleration of industrial development; by no means, however, in the direction of independence, but rather in a direction which strengthens the dependence of colonial economy on the finance capital of the imperialist country. In general, imported capital is concentrated in the colonies almost exclusively for the extraction and supply of raw materials, or for the first stages of their utilisation. Exported capital is used also for extending the system of communications (railways, shipbuilding, harbour works, etc.), thus facilitating the transport of raw material and binding the colonies more closely to the metropolis. A favourite form of investment of capital in agriculture is in large plantations, with the object of cheap production of food products and the monopolisation of vast sources of raw material. The transference to the metropolis of the greater portion of the surplus value extorted from the cheap labour power of the colonial slaves retards to a correspondingly enormous degree the upward growth of the economy of the colonial countries and the development of their productive forces, and serves as an obstacle to the economic and political emancipation of the colonies.

Another basic feature in the mutual relations between the capitalist states and the colonial countries is the endeavour of various monopolist groups of finance capital to monopolise the whole external trade of the separate colonial and semi-colonial countries, and in this way to subordinate to their control and regulation all the channels which connect the colonial economy with the world market. The direct influence of this monopolisation of external trade by a few monopolist exporting firms on the course of capitalist development in the colonies is expressed, not so much in the development of a national internal market, as in the adaptation of the scattered internal colonial trade to the needs of export, and in the “bleeding” of the national wealth of the colonial countries by the imperialist parasites. This peculiar development of colonial trade finds its specific expression also in the form and character of the imperialist banks in the colonies, which mobilise the savings of the native bourgeoisie chiefly for financing the foreign trade of the colonies etc.

Imperialist Economic Policy

15. The entire economic policy of imperialism in relation to the colonies is determined by its endeavour to preserve and increase their dependence, to deepen their exploitation and, as far as possible, to impede their independent development. Only under the pressure of special circumstances may the bourgeoisie of the imperialist states find itself compelled to cooperate in the development of big industry in the colonies. Thus, for example, requirements for preparation or conduct of war may, to a limited extent, lead to the creation of various enterprises in engineering and chemical industry in certain of the most strategically important colonies (e.g. India). Competition on the part of more powerful competitors may compel the metropolis to grant definite concessions in matters of tariff policy, in which case it safeguards itself by means of preferential duties.

With the object of buying up definite strata of the bourgeoisie in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, especially in periods of a rising revolutionary movement, the metropolis may, to a certain degree, weaken its economic pressure. But, in the measure that these extraordinary and, for the most part, extra-economic circumstances lose their influence, the economic policy of the imperialist powers is immediately directed towards repressing and retarding the economic development of the colonies. Consequently the development of the national economy of the colonies, and especially their industrialisation, the all-round independent development of their industry can only be realised in the strongest contradiction to the policy of imperialism. Thus the specific character of the development of the colonial countries is especially expressed in the fact that the growth of productive forces is realised with extreme difficulties, spasmodically, artificially, being limited to individual branches of industry.

The inevitable result of this is that the pressure of imperialism on the colonial and semi-colonial countries is reproduced each time in a higher degree and evokes an ever more powerful resistance on the part of the social-economic factors originating from imperialism itself. The continual hindrance to independent development more and more deepens the antagonism of the colonial peoples in relation to imperialism and leads to revolutionary crises, boycott movements, nationalist revolutionary insurrections, etc.

On the one hand, the imminent objective contradictions in the capitalist development of the colonies become strengthened, which itself deepens the contradictions between the independent development of the colonies and the interests of the bourgeoisie of the imperialist states; on the other hand, the new capitalist forms of exploitation bring into the arena a genuine revolutionary force – the proletariat, around which the many millions of the peasant masses rally more and more strongly in order to offer organised resistance to the yoke of finance capital.

All the chatter of the imperialists and their lackeys about the policy of decolonisation being carried through by the imperialist powers, about cooperation in “free development of the colonies”, reveals itself as nothing but an imperialist lie. It is of the utmost importance that communists, both in the imperialist and in the colonial countries, should completely expose this lie.

III. Communist Strategy and Tactics in China and Similar Colonial Countries

Tasks of the Democratic Revolution

16. As in all colonies and semi-colonies, so also in China and India the development of productive forces and the socialisation of labour stands at a comparatively low level. This circumstance, together with the fact of foreign domination and also the presence of powerful relics of feudalism and pre-capitalist relations, determines the character of the immediate stage of the revolution in these countries. In the revolutionary movement of these countries we have to deal with the bourgeois-democratic revolution, i.e. of the stage signifying preparing of the prerequisites for proletarian dictatorship and socialist revolution. Corresponding to this, the following kinds of tasks can be pointed out which may be considered as general basic tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the colonies and semi-colonies:

(a) A shifting in the relationship of forces in favour of the proletariat: emancipation of the country from the yoke of imperialism (nationalisation of foreign concessions, railways, banks, etc.), and the establishment of the national unity of the country where this has not yet been attained: overthrow of the power of the exploiting classes at the back of which imperialism stands: organisation of soviets of workers and peasants: establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry: consolidation of the hegemony of the proletariat.

(b) The carrying through of the agrarian revolution: emancipation of the peasants from all pre-capitalist and colonial conditions of exploitation and bondage: nationalisation of the land: radical measures for alleviating the position of the peasantry with the object of establishing the closest-possible economic and political union between the town and village.

(c) In correspondence with the further development of industry, transport, etc., and with the accompanying growth of the proletariat, the widespread development of trade-union organisations of the working class, strengthening of the communist party and its conquest of a firm leading position among the toiling masses: the achievement of the eight-hour day.

(d) Establishment of equal rights for nationalities and of sex equality (equal rights for women): separation of the church from the state and the abolition of caste distinctions: political education and raising of the general cultural level of the masses in town and country, etc.

How far the bourgeois-democratic revolution will be able in practice to realise all its basic tasks, and how far it will be the case that part of these tasks will be carried into effect only by the socialist revolution, will depend on the course of the revolutionary movement of the workers and peasants and its successes or defeats in the struggles against the imperialists, feudal lords and the bourgeoisie. In particular, the emancipation of the colony from the imperialist yoke is facilitated by the development of the socialist revolution in the capitalist world, and can only be completely guaranteed by the victory of the proletariat in the leading capitalist countries. The transition of the revolution to a socialist phase demands the presence of certain minimum prerequisites, as, for example, a certain definite level of development in the country of industry, of trade-union organisations of the proletariat and of a strong communist party. The most important is precisely the development of a strong communist party with a big mass influence, which would be in the highest degree a slow and difficult process were it not accelerated by the bourgeois-democratic revolution which already grows and develops as a result of the objective conditions in these countries.

Character of Colonial Democratic Revolution

17. The bourgeois-democratic revolution in the colonies is distinguished from the bourgeois-democratic revolution in an independent country chiefly in that it is organically bound up with the national-emancipatory struggle against imperialist domination. The national factor exerts considerable influence on the revolutionary process in all colonies, as well as in those semi-colonies where imperialist enslavement already appears in its naked form, leading to the revolt of the mass of the people. On the one hand, national oppression hastens the ripening of the revolutionary classes, strengthens the dissatisfaction of the masses of workers and peasants, facilitates their mobilisation and endows the revolutionary mass revolts with the elemental force and character of a genuine popular revolution. On the other hand, the national factor is able to influence not only the movement of the working class and peasantry, but also the attitude of all the remaining classes, modifying its form during the process of revolution. Above all, the poor urban petty-bourgeoisie, together with the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, is during the first period to a very considerable extent brought under the influence of the active revolutionary forces; secondly, the position of the colonial bourgeoisie in the bourgeois-democratic revolution is still for the most part an ambiguous one, and its vacillations in accordance with the course of the revolution are even more considerable than in the bourgeoisie of an independent country (e.g. the Russian bourgeoisie in 1905-17). It is very important, in accordance with the concrete circumstances, to investigate very carefully the special influence of the national factor, which to a considerable degree determines the special character of the colonial revolution, and to take it into account in the tactics of the communist party concerned.

Along with the national-emancipatory struggle, the agrarian revolution constitutes the axis of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the chief colonial countries. Consequently communists must follow with the greatest attention the development of the agrarian crisis and the intensification of class contradictions in the village, they must from the very beginning give a consciously-revolutionary direction to the dissatisfaction of the workers and to the incipient peasant movement, directing it against imperialist exploitation and bondage, as also against the yoke of the various pre-capitalist (feudal and semi-feudal) relationships as a result of which peasant economy is suffering, disintegrating and perishing. The incredible backwardness of agriculture, the prevalence of oppressive rent relations and the oppression of trading-usury capital represent the greatest hindrance to the development of productive forces in village economy in the colonies, and stand in monstrous contradiction with the highly-organised forms of exchange between the village agricultural production of the colonies and the world market created by monopoly imperialism.

Attitude of the National Bourgeoisie

18. The national bourgeoisie in these colonial countries does not adopt a uniform attitude in relation to imperialism. A part of this bourgeoisie, more especially the trading bourgeoisie, directly serves the interests of imperialist capital (the so-called compradore* bourgeoisie). In general, it more or less consistently defends the antinational imperialist point of view directed against the whole nationalist movement, in common with the feudal allies of imperialism and the more highly-paid native officials. The remaining portions of the native bourgeoisie, especially the portion reflecting the interests of native industry, support the national movement and represent a special vacillating compromising tendency which may be designated as national reformism (or, in the terminology of the theses of the Second Congress of the Communist International, a “bourgeois-democratic” tendency). This intermediate position of the national bourgeoisie between the revolutionary and imperialist camps is no longer to be observed, it is true, in China after 1925; there the greater part of the national bourgeoisie from the beginning, owing to the special situation, took the leadership in the national-emancipatory war; later on it passed over finally into the camp of counterrevolution. In India and Egypt we still observe, for the time being, the typical bourgeois-nationalist movement – an opportunist movement, subject to great vacillations, balancing between imperialism and revolution.

* Native merchants, engaged in trade with imperialist centres, whose interest are in continuation of imperialist exploitation. They act as agents for exploiting the masses in the colonial countries.

The independence of the country in relation to imperialism, being to the advantage of the whole colonial people, corresponds also to the interests of the national bourgeoisie, but is in irreconcilable contradiction to the whole essence of the imperialist system. Various native capitalists, it is true, are by their immediate interests to a great extent bound by numerous threads to imperialist capital. Imperialism is able directly to buy up a considerable portion of them (it may be even a greater portion than heretofore), and to create a definite compradore position, a position of intermediary trader, sub exploiter or overseer over the enslaved population. But the position of slave-owner, of monopolist supreme exploiter, imperialism reserves for itself alone. Independent rule, a future of “free” independent capitalist development, hegemony over an “independent” people – this imperialism will never voluntarily yield to the national bourgeoisie. In this respect the contradiction of interests between the national bourgeoisie of the colonial country and imperialism is objectively of a radical character. In this respect imperialism demands capitulation on the part of the national bourgeoisie.

The native bourgeoisie, as the weaker side, again and again capitulates to imperialism. Its capitulation, however, is not final as long as the danger of class revolution on the part of the masses has not become immediate, acute and menacing. In order, on the one hand, to avoid this danger, and, on the other hand, to strengthen its position in relation to imperialism, bourgeois nationalism in these colonies strives to obtain the support of the petty-bourgeoisie, and in part also of the working class. Since, in relation to the working class, it has little prospect of success (as soon as the working class in these countries has at all begun to awake politically), it becomes the more important for it to obtain support from the peasantry. But just here is the weakest point of the colonial bourgeoisie. The unbearable exploitation of the colonial peasantry can only be put an end to by the way of the agrarian revolution. The bourgeoisie of China, India and Egypt is by its immediate interests, so closely bound up with landlordism, with usury capital and with the exploitation of the peasant masses in general, that it takes its stand not only against the agrarian revolution but also against every decisive agrarian reform. It is afraid, and not without foundation, that even the mere open formulation of the agrarian question will stimulate and accelerate the growth of the process of revolutionary fermentation in the peasant masses. Thus the reformist bourgeoisie hardly dares to decide to approach practically this basic urgent question.

Instead it attempts by means of empty nationalist phrases and’ gestures to keep the petty-bourgeois masses under its influence and to induce imperialism to grant certain concessions. But the imperialists draw the reins ever tighter, and the national bourgeoisie is incapable of offering any serious resistance. Accordingly, the national bourgeoisie in every conflict with imperialism attempts, on the one hand, to make a great show of its nationalist “firmness” of principle, and, on the other hand, it sows illusions as to the possibility of a peaceful compromise with imperialism. Through both, the one and the other, the masses inevitably become disillusioned, and in this way they gradually outlive their reformist illusions.

Proletarian Leadership in Colonial Emancipation

19. An incorrect estimation of the basic national-reformist tendency of the national bourgeoisie in these colonial countries gives rise to the possibility of serious errors in the strategy and tactics of the communist parties concerned. In particular two kinds of mistakes are possible:

(a) A non understanding of the difference between the national-reformist and national-revolutionary tendency can lead to a “khvostist”* policy in relation to the bourgeoisie, to an insufficiently accurate political and organisational delimitation of the proletariat from the bourgeoisie, and to the blurring of the chief revolutionary slogans (especially the slogans of the agrarian revolution), etc. This was the fundamental mistake into which the Communist Party of China fell in 1925-27.

* Khvost equals “tail”. Following behind events in policy rather than leading.

(b) An underestimation of the special significance which the bourgeois national-reformist, as distinct from the feudal-imperialist camp, possesses, owing to its mass influence on the ranks of the working class, at least in the first stages of the movement, may lead to a sectarian policy and to the isolation of the communists from the toiling masses.

In both these cases insufficient attention is given to the realisation of precisely those tasks which the Second Congress of the Communist International had already characterised as the basic tasks of the communist parties in the colonial countries, i.e. the tasks of struggle against the bourgeois-democratic movement inside the nation itself. Without this struggle, without the liberation of the toiling masses from the influence of the bourgeoisie and of national-reformism, the basic strategical aim of the communist movement in the bourgeois-democratic revolution – the hegemony of the proletariat – cannot be achieved. Without the hegemony of the proletariat, an organic part of which is the leading role of the communist party, the bourgeois-democratic revolution cannot be carried through to an end, not to speak of the socialist revolution.

Role of the Petty-Bourgeoisie and Peasantry

20. The petty-bourgeoisie in the colonial and semi-colonial countries plays a very important role. It consists of various strata, which in different periods of the national-revolutionary movement play very diverse roles. The artisan, who is hit by the competition of foreign imported goods, is hostilely disposed towards imperialism. At the same time he is interested in the unlimited exploitation of his journeymen and apprentices, and accordingly he is hostilely disposed towards the class-conscious labour movement. At the same time, also, he usually suffers himself from the exploitation of trading and usury capital. The exceedingly ambiguous and hopeless position of this stratum of the petty-bourgeoisie determines its vacillations, and it frequently falls under the influence of utopian reactionaries. The small trader – both in town and village – is connected with village exploitation through usury and trade, and he clings to the old forms of exploitation in preference to the prospects of an expansion of the internal market. These strata, however, are not homogeneous. These sections of the trading bourgeoisie, which in one form or another are connected with the compradores, occupy a different position from those sections the activity of which is limited mainly to the internal market.

The petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, the students and such-like, are very frequently the most determined representatives, not only of the specific interests of the petty-bourgeoisie, but also of the general objective interests of the entire national bourgeoisie, and, in the first period of the national movement, they often come out as the spokesmen of the nationalist struggle. Their role on the surface of the movement is comparatively important. In general they cannot act as representatives of peasant interests, for the very social strata from which they come are time and again connected with landlordism. The upward growth of the revolutionary wave may drive them into the labour movement, bringing with them their petty-bourgeois ideology of vacillation and indecision. Only a few of them in the course of the struggle are able to break with their own class and rise to an understanding of the tasks of the class struggle of the proletariat, and to become active defenders of the interests of the latter. It frequently happens that the petty-bourgeois intellectuals give to their ideology a socialist or even communist colour. In the struggle against imperialism they have played, and in such countries as India and Egypt they even now still partially play a revolutionary role. The mass movement may draw them after it, but it may also push them into the camp of extreme reaction or, at least, cause the spread of utopian reactionary tendencies in their ranks.

Alongside of these strata there are to be found in the colonial towns considerable sections of urban poor, the position of which objectively drives them to the support of revolution-artisans who do not exploit the labour of others, street traders, unemployed intellectuals, ruined peasants seeking work, etc. Further, the colonial town, as also the village, has a populous section of “coolies”, semi-proletarians who have not passed through the school of factory production and who live by casual labour.

The peasantry, along with the proletariat and in the character of its ally, represents a driving force of the revolution. The immense many-millioned peasant mass constitutes the overwhelming majority of the population even in the most developed colonies (in some colonies it is 90 per cent of the population). The many millions of starving tenant-cultivators, petty-peasants oppressed by want and groaning under all kinds of pre-capitalist and capitalist forms of exploitation, a considerable portion of them deprived of the possibility of cultivation even on the lands that they rent, thrown out from the process of production and slowly dying from famine and disease, village agricultural labourers – all these are the allies of the proletariat in the village. The peasantry can only achieve its emancipation under the leadership of the proletariat, but the proletariat can only lead the bourgeois-democratic revolution to victory in union with the peasantry. The process of class differentiation of the peasantry, in the colonies and semi-colonies which possess important relics of feudalism and of pre-capitalist relationships, proceeds at a comparatively slow rate. Nevertheless, market relationships in these countries have developed to such a degree that the peasantry already no longer represent a homogeneous mass, as far as their class relations are concerned. In the villages of China and India, in particular in certain parts of these countries, it is already possible to find exploiting elements derived from the peasantry, who exploit the peasants and village labourers through usury, trade, employment of hired labour, the sale or letting out of land on rent, the loaning of cattle or agricultural implements, etc. In general, it is possible that, in the first period of the struggle of the peasantry against the landlords, the proletariat may be able to carry with it the entire peasantry. But, in the further development of the struggle some of the upper strata of the peasantry may pass into the camp of counterrevolution. The proletariat can achieve its leading role in relation to the peasantry only under the conditions of unflinching struggle for its partial demands, for complete carrying through of the agrarian revolution, and only if it will lead the struggle of the wide masses of the peasantry for a revolutionary settlement of the agrarian question.

The Working Class

21. The working class in the colonies and semi-colonies has characteristic features which play an important role in the building up of an independent working-class movement and proletarian class ideology in these countries. The predominant part of the colonial proletariat is derived from the pauperised village, with which the worker remains in connection even when engaged in production. In the majority of colonies (with the exception of some large factory towns such as Shanghai, Bombay, Calcutta, etc.) we find, as a general rule, only a first generation of proletarians engaged in large-scale production. Another portion is made up of the ruined artisans who are being driven out of the decaying handicrafts, which are widely spread even in the foremost colonies. The ruined artisan, a petty owner, carries with him into the working class a guild tendency and ideology which serves as a basis for the penetration of national-reformist influence into the labour movement of the colonies. The mobile composition of the proletariat (frequent renewal of the labour force in the factories owing to workers returning to the village and the inflow of new masses of poverty-stricken peasants into production); the considerable percentage of women and children, the numerous different languages, illiteracy, the wide distribution of religious and caste prejudices – all make difficult the work of systematic agitation and propaganda and retard the growth of class-consciousness among the workers. Nevertheless, the merciless exploitation, practised in the most oppressive forms by native and foreign capital, and the entire absence of political rights for the workers, create the objective preconditions on the basis of which the labour movement in the colonies is rapidly overcoming all obstacles, and every year draws greater and greater masses of the working class into the struggle against the native exploiters and the imperialists.

The first period of the growth of the labour movement in the colonial and semi-colonial countries (approximately 1919-1923) is organically bound up with the general growth of the national revolutionary movement which followed the world war, and which was characterised by the subordination of the class interests of the working class to the interests of the anti-imperialist struggle headed by the native bourgeoisie. In so far as the labour strikes and other demonstrations bore an organisational character, they were usually organised by petty-bourgeois intellectuals who restricted the demands of the workers to questions of the national struggle. The most important characteristic of the second period of rapid growth of the labour movement in the colonies, on the other hand, the period which began after the Fifth Congress of the Communist International, was the emergence of the working class of the colonies into the political arena as an independent class force directly opposing itself to the national bourgeoisie, and entering upon a struggle with the latter in defence of its own immediate class interests, and for hegemony in the national revolution as a whole. The history of the last few years has clearly confirmed this characteristic of the new stage of the colonial revolution, first of all in the example of the great Chinese revolution, and subsequently in the insurrection in Indonesia. There is every ground to believe that in India the working class is liberating itself from the influence of the nationalist and social reformist leaders, and is being converted into an independent political factor in the struggle against the British imperialists and the native bourgeoisie.

Tasks of the Communists

22. In order to correctly determine the immediate tasks of the revolutionary movement it is important as a starting point to take into consideration the degree of maturity attained by the movement in the separate colonial countries. The revolutionary movement in China is distinguished from the present movement in India by a series of essential features, characterising the different degrees of maturity of the movement in the two countries. The previous experience of the Chinese revolution must undoubtedly be utilised in the revolutionary movement in India and other analogous colonial countries. But it would be a completely mistaken application of the Chinese experience if, at the present time in India, Egypt, etc., we were to formulate the immediate tasks, slogans and tactical methods in exactly the same form as took place in China, for example, in the Wuhan period, or in the form in which it is necessary to formulate them there at the present time. The tendency to skip over the inevitable difficulties and special tasks of the present stage of the revolutionary movement in India, Egypt, etc. can only be harmful. It is necessary to carry through much work in the building up and consolidation of the communist party and trade union organisations of the proletariat, in the revolutionisation of the trade unions, in the development of economic and political mass demonstrations, and in the winning over of the masses, and their liberation from the influence of the national-reformist bourgeoisie, before it is possible to advance in these countries, with definite prospects of success to the realisation of such tasks, as those which were fully carried out in China during the Wuhan period as the immediate tasks of the struggle of the working class and peasantry.

The interests of the struggle for the class rule of the national bourgeoisie compel the most important bourgeois parties in India and Egypt (Swarajists, Wafdists) still to demonstrate their opposition to the ruling imperialist-feudal bloc. Although this opposition has not a revolutionary but a reformist and class-collaborationist character, this by no means signifies that it has not a special significance. The national bourgeoisie has not the significance of a force in the struggle against imperialism. Nevertheless, this bourgeois-reformist opposition has its real special significance for the development of the revolutionary movement – and this both in a negative as well as in a positive sense – in so far as it possesses any mass influence at all. Its chief feature is that it exerts a braking, retarding influence on the development of the revolutionary movement, in so far as it is successful in drawing the toiling masses in its wake and holding them back from the revolutionary struggle. On the other hand, however, the demonstrations of the bourgeois opposition against the ruling imperialist-feudal bloc, even if they do not have any deep foundation, can exert a certain accelerating influence on the process of the political awakening of the wide masses of toilers; the concrete open conflicts of the national-reformist bourgeoisie with imperialism, although of little significance in themselves, may, under certain conditions, indirectly serve as the cause of the unleashing of even greater revolutionary mass actions.

It is true that the reformist bourgeoisie itself endeavours not to allow any such effect of its oppositional activities, and in one way or another seeks to prevent it in advance. But wherever the objective conditions exist for a far-reaching political crisis, there the activities of the national-reformist opposition, even their insignificant conflicts with imperialism which are least of all connected with the real source of the revolution, can become of serious importance. The communists must learn how to utilise each and every conflict, to develop such conflicts and to broaden their significance, to connect them with the agitation for revolutionary slogans, to spread the news of these conflicts among the wide masses, to awaken these masses to independent, open manifestations in support of their own demands, etc.

National-Reformist Danger

23. The correct tactics in the struggle against such parties as the Swarajists and Wafdists during this stage consist in the successful exposure of their real national-reformist character. These parties have already more than once betrayed the national-emancipatory struggle, but they have not yet finally passed over to the counterrevolutionary camp in the manner of the Kuomintang. There is no doubt that they will do this later on, but at the present time they are so particularly dangerous precisely because their real physiognomy has not yet been exposed in the eyes of the wide masses of toilers. For this exposure there is still needed a very large amount of communist educational work, and a very great deal of new political experience on the part of the masses themselves. If the communists do not already succeed in this stage in shaking the faith of the toiling masses in the bourgeois national-reformist leadership of the national movement, then this leadership in the coming upward growth of the revolutionary wave will represent an enormous danger for the revolution.

Consequently it is necessary, by means of correct communist tactics, adapted to the conditions of the present stage, to help the toiling masses in India, Egypt, Indonesia and such colonies to emancipate themselves from the influence of the bourgeois parties. This is not to be achieved by any noisy phrases, however radical they may sound superficially, about the absence of any distinction between the oppositional national-reformists (Swarajists, Wafdists, etc.) and the British imperialists or their feudal counterrevolutionary allies. The national-reformist leaders would easily be able to make use of such a deviation in order to incite the masses against the communists. The masses see the chief immediate enemy of national emancipation in the form of the imperialist-feudal bloc, which in itself is correct at this stage of the movement in India, Egypt and Indonesia (as far as one side of the matter is concerned). In the struggle against this ruling counterrevolutionary force, the Indian, Egyptian and Indonesian communists must proceed in advance of all, they must fight more determinedly, more consistently and more resolutely than any petty-bourgeois section or national-revolutionary group. Of course, this fight must not be waged for the organising of any kind of “putsch” or premature attempt at a rising on the part of the small revolutionary minority, but for the purpose of organising the widest possible strata of the masses of toilers in demonstrations and other manifestations so that in this way the active participation of these masses can be guaranteed for a victorious uprising at a further stage of the revolutionary struggle.

At the same time, it is no less important to mercilessly expose before the toiling masses the national-reformist character of the Swarajist, Wafdist and other nationalist parties, and in particular of their leaders. It is necessary to expose their half-heartedness and vacillation in the national struggle, their bargainings and attempts to reach a compromise with British imperialism, their previous capitulations and counterrevolutionary advances, their reactionary resistance to the class demands of the proletariat and peasantry, their empty nationalist phraseology, their dissemination of harmful illusions about the peaceful decolonisation of the country and their sabotage in relation to the application of revolutionary methods in the national-emancipatory struggle.

It is necessary to reject the formation of any kind of bloc between the communist party and the nationalist-reformist opposition; this does not exclude the formation of temporary agreements and the coordinating of separate activities in connection with definite anti-imperialist demonstrations, provided that these demonstrations of the bourgeois opposition can be utilised for the development of the mass movement, and provided that these agreements do not in any way limit the freedom of the communist parties in the matter of agitation among the masses and among the organisations of the latter. Of course, in this work the communists must know how at the same time to carry on the most relentless ideological and political struggle against bourgeois nationalism and against the slightest signs of its influence inside the labour movement. In such cases the communist party must take particular care not only to maintain its complete political independence and to make quite clear its own character, but also, on the basis of facts, to open the eyes of the masses of toilers who are under the influence of the bourgeois opposition, so that they will perceive all the hopelessness of this opposition and the danger of the bourgeois-democratic illusions that it disseminates.

Need for Communist Independence

24. An incorrect estimation of the chief tendency of the parties of the big national bourgeoisie gives rise to the danger of an incorrect estimation of the character and role of the petty-bourgeois parties. The development of these parties, as a general rule, follows a course from the national-revolutionary to the national-reformist position. Even such movements, as Sun Yat-senism in China, Gandhism in India, Sarekat Islam in Indonesia, were originally radical petty-bourgeois ideological movements which, however, as a result of their service to the big bourgeoisie, became converted into a bourgeois nationalist-reformist movement. After this, in India, Egypt and Indonesia, there was again founded a radical wing from among the different petty-bourgeois groups (e.g. the Republican Party, Watanists, Sarekat Rayat), which stands for a more or less consistent national-revolutionary point of view. In such a country as India the rise is possible of some new analogous radical petty-bourgeois parties and groups. But the fact must not be lost sight of that these parties, essentially considered, are connected with the national bourgeoisie. The petty-bourgeois intelligentsia at the head of these parties puts forward national-revolutionary demands, but at the same time appears more or less conscious as the representative of the capitalist development of their country. Some of these elements can become the followers of various kinds of reactionary utopias, but when confronted with feudalism and imperialism they, in distinction from the parties of the big national bourgeoisie, appear at the outset not as reformists but as more or less revolutionary representatives of the anti-imperialist interests of the colonial bourgeoisie. This is the case, at least, so long as the development of the revolutionary process in the country does not put on the order of the day in a definite and sharp form the fundamental international questions of the bourgeois revolution, particularly the question of the realisation of the agrarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. When this happens then it usually denotes the end of the revolutionary character of the petty-bourgeois parties. As soon as the revolution has placed the class interests of the proletariat and the peasantry in critical contradiction not only to the rule of the feudal-imperialist bloc, but also to the class rule of the bourgeoisie, the petty-bourgeois groups usually go back to the position of the national-reformist parties.

It is absolutely essential that the communist parties in these countries should from the very beginning demarcate themselves in the most clear-cut fashion, both politically and organisationally, from all the petty-bourgeois groups and parties. In so far as the needs of the revolutionary struggle demand it, a temporary cooperation is permissible, and certain circumstances even a temporary union between the communist party and the national-revolutionary movement, provided that the latter is a genuine revolutionary movement, that it genuinely struggles against the ruling power and that its representatives do not put obstacles in the way of the communists educating and organising in a revolutionary sense the peasants and wide masses of the exploited. In every such cooperation, however, it is essential to take the most careful precautions in order that this cooperation does not degenerate into a fusion of the communist movement with the bourgeois-revolutionary movement. The communist movement in all circumstances must unconditionally preserve the independence of the proletarian movement and its own independence in agitation, in organisation and in demonstrations. To criticise the half-heartedness and vacillation of the petty-bourgeois groups, to anticipate their vacillations, to be prepared for them and at the same time to utilise to the full all the revolutionary possibilities of these strata, to carry on a consistent struggle against petty-bourgeois influence over the proletariat, employ all means to liberate the wide masses of the peasantry from the influence of the petty-bourgeois parties, and to win from them the hegemony over the peasantry – these are the tasks of the communist parties .

Development of the Revolutionary Movement

25. How rapidly the revolutionary movement in India, Egypt, etc. will reach such a high degree of maturity as it has already reached in China depends to an essential extent on how quickly there arises a big revolutionary wave. In the event of its postponement for a considerable time the political and organisational ripening of the driving forces of the revolution can only proceed by way of a gradual and relatively slow process of development. If, however, the coming powerful revolutionary wave rises earlier, then the movement may quickly be able to attain a much higher stage of maturity. Under exceptionally favourable circumstances it is not even excluded that the revolution there may be able in one single mighty wave to achieve the conquest of power by the proletariat and peasantry. It is also possible that the process of the development of the revolution from one stage to another more mature stage will be interrupted for a more or less prolonged period of time, in particular if the coming wave of revolutionary upheaval reaches a relatively small height, and is not of great duration. Consequently it is necessary in every case to subject the concrete situation to the most detailed analysis.

The following factors are of decisive significance for the immediate growing over of the revolution from one stage to another higher stage: (1) the degree of development of the revolutionary proletarian leadership of the movement, i.e. of the communist party of the given country (the number of its members, its independent character, consciousness and fighting readiness, as well as its authority and connection with the masses and its influence on the trade-union and peasant movements), (2) the degree of organisation and the revolutionary experience of the working class, as well as, to a certain extent, of the peasantry. The revolutionary experience of the masses signifies experience of struggle; in the first place, liberation from the influence over them of the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties. Since these prerequisites, for the first big mass outburst of the revolution, even in the best circumstances, are present only to an insufficient degree, an unusually deep revolutionary crisis and an unusually high and persistent revolutionary wave are required for it to be possible for the bourgeois-democratic revolution with the aid of this one wave of upheaval to lead to the complete victory of the proletariat and peasantry. Such a possibility is most easily presented, for example, when the ruling imperialism is temporarily distracted by a long continued war outside the frontiers of the colonial country concerned.

Chinese CP and the Revolution

26. Living, concrete, historical dialectics such as were demonstrated by the now completed first period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in China, will give to the communists, especially those working in the colonial countries, a valuable experience which it is necessary to study diligently in order to draw the correct conclusions, especially from the mistakes committed in the course of communist work in the colonies. The rise of the revolutionary wave in China was usually prolonged (over two years), since it was connected with a protracted internal war. Inasmuch as the Northern Expedition was not conducted directly against the great imperialist powers, and inasmuch as the latter, owing to competition between them, were partially passive during the first period, while the bourgeois leadership of the national movement had already for some years held Canton in its hands – a definite, though limited territory – as well as a centralised power backed up by the army, etc., it is accordingly understandable that in this exceptional case a great part of the bourgeoisie in the beginning looked upon the national-emancipatory war as its own particular affair. The Kuomintang, in which it practically played a leading role, in the course of a short time came to be at the head of the national-revolutionary movement, a circumstance which in the course of further events represented an extremely great danger for the revolution.

On the other hand, among the peculiarities of the situation in China must be numbered the fact that the proletariat there was: stronger in relation to its bourgeoisie than the proletariat of other countries. It is true that it was weakly organised, but during the upward growth of the revolutionary wave the growth of labour organisation proceeded at a very rapid rate. The Communist Party also rose in a short time from being a small group to a party with 60,000 members (and presently even more), and possessing a wide influence among the workers. Naturally in these conditions many bourgeois elements also entered the party. The party was lacking in revolutionary experience and, even more, in traditions of Bolshevism. In the beginning the upper hand in its leadership was taken by wavering elements, which were still only to a very small degree liberated from petty-bourgeois opportunist tendencies, which inadequately understood the independent tasks and role of the Communist Party, and which came out against any decisive development of the agrarian revolution.

The entry of the communists for a certain period into the leading party of the national revolution, the Kuomintang, in itself corresponded to the requirements of the struggle and of the situation, and was also in the interests of the indispensable communist work among the fairly wide masses of toilers who followed this party. In addition, at the beginning the Communist Party of China received in the territory under the rule of the Kuomintang government the possibility of independent agitation among the masses of workers and peasants and among the soldiers of the national army and their organisations. At that time the party possessed greater possibilities than it actually made use of. At that time it did not sufficiently carefully explain to the masses its proletarian class position in distinction from Sun Yat-senism and other petty-bourgeois tendencies. In the ranks of the Kuomintang the communists did not carry out any independent policy, leaving out of account that in any such inevitable bloc the communists must conduct themselves in an unconditionally critical fashion towards the bourgeois elements and always come out as an independent force. The communists neglected to expose the vacillations of the national bourgeoisie and of bourgeois-democratic nationalism, just at the time when this exposure ought to have constituted one of the most important tasks of the Communist Party. The inevitable disruption of the Kuomintang drew nearer and nearer as the national army advanced, but the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party undertook nothing, or almost nothing, in order to prepare the party in case of a breach, and in order to guarantee its independent position and to unite the revolutionary workers and peasants in an independent fighting bloc which would oppose itself to the leadership of the Kuomintang.

Thus the bourgeois counterrevolutionary coup of Chiang Kai-shek found the revolutionary proletariat completely unprepared, and threw its ranks into confusion. Further, the leadership of the Communist Party even at that time badly understood the process of the development of the revolution from one stage to another and did not carry through the correct changes in the line of the party made necessary by this coup. In as much as the leftwing of the petty-bourgeois leaders of the Kuomintang during the course of a certain time still went together with the Communist Party, there took place a territorial separation; there arose the separate governments of Nanking and Wuhan. But the Communist Party did not occupy a leading position even in Wuhan. Very quickly in the Wuhan territory there commenced a second period, characterised, among other things, on the one hand, by the presence of elements of an incipient, still indefinite dual power (the seizure by peasant unions of a number of ruling functions in the villages, and the extension of the functions of the trade unions, determined by the endeavour of the masses to reach a “plebeian” independent solution of the question of power), and, on the other hand, by the absence of sufficiently mature conditions for the organisation of soviets as organs of revolt against the Wuhan government, in so far as the latter still carried on a revolutionary struggle against the Nanking government, which represented the treachery of the bourgeoisie to the revolution.

The Communist Party at that time directly hindered the independent actions of the revolutionary masses, it did not facilitate their task of gathering and organising forces, it did not assist in breaking down the influence of the leaders of the Left Kuomintang and their position in the country and in the army. Instead of utilising its participation in the government for these purposes, it, on the contrary, disguised the whole activity of this government (individual petty-bourgeois leading members of the party went so far that they even participated in the disarming of the workers’ pickets in Wuhan and in sanctioning the punitive expedition to Changsha!).

At the bottom of this opportunist policy lay the hope of avoiding a rupture with the petty-bourgeois leaders of the Wuhan government. But, as a matter of fact, this rupture could only be put off for a short space of time. When the mass risings acquired a threatening character the leaders of the Wuhan Kuomintang also began to reach out towards unity with their allies on the other side of the barricades. The revolutionary movement of the workers and peasants still continued to exert all its forces in order to achieve victory. The Communist Party of China now also corrected its line, elected a new leadership, and took its place at the head of the revolution. But the revolutionary wave was already falling. The heroic mass struggles under the slogan of Soviets could only achieve a few temporary successes. Only in individual localities did the uprisings of the agrarian revolution begin sufficiently early, in the remainder the many millions of the peasant rearguard were delayed in their advance. Instead of the former gross errors of opportunist leadership, there were now revealed, on the contrary, in various places extremely harmful “putschist” mistakes. The preparations for risings also did not take place without great mistakes on the part of the communists. The heavy defeats once more threw back the revolution, which in the south had already entered into the second stage of development, to the starting point of this stage.

Tasks of the CP of China

27. Thanks to the fact that the Chinese national bourgeoisie obtained participation in power, the composition of the former bloc of the imperialists and militarists was partly altered, and the new ruling bloc now represents the immediate chief enemy of the revolution. In order to overthrow it, it is necessary to win over the decisive masses of the proletariat and peasantry to the side of the revolution. This constitutes the most important task of the Chinese Communist Party for the immediate future. The Chinese workers have already acquired an enormous experience. The further strengthening and revolutionisation of the trade-union movement and the further strengthening of the Communist Party is essential. A certain portion of the Chinese peasantry has already outlived bourgeois-democratic illusions and shown considerable activity in the revolutionary struggle, but this is only an insignificant minority of the huge peasant population of China. It is very probable that some petty-bourgeois groups will take up the position of national reformism (inside or outside the Kuomintang) in order by a certain display of bourgeois-democratic opposition to conquer influence over the toiling masses (to these petty-bourgeois reformists belong also Tang Ping-san and the social-democratic leaders). Under no circumstances must the significance of these attempts be underestimated. The isolation of these groups and their exposure before the masses by means of correct communist tactics constitutes an absolutely essential precondition for the Communist Party to be able to take a really leading position in the moment of the coming new rise of the revolutionary wave in China. At the present time the party must everywhere propagate among the masses the idea of soviets, the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, and the inevitability of the coming revolutionary mass armed uprising. It must already now emphasise in its agitation the necessity of overthrow of the ruling bloc and the mobilisation of the masses for revolutionary demonstrations. Diligently studying the objective conditions of the revolution as they continue to mature, utilising every possibility for the mobilisation of the masses, it must consistently and undeviatingly follow the line of seizure of state power, organisation of soviets as organs of the insurrection, expropriation of the landlords and big property owners, expulsion .of the foreign imperialists and the confiscation of their property.

IV. The immediate Tasks of the Communists

Difficulties in Colonial Countries

28. The building up and development of the communist parties in the colonies and semi-colonies, the removal of the excessively marked lack of correspondence between the objective revolutionary situation and the weakness of the subjective factor, represents one of the most important and primary tasks of the Communist International. This task comes up against a whole host of objective difficulties, determined by the historical development and social structure of these countries. Corresponding with the weak development of industry, the working class in these countries is still young and, for their population, relatively small in numbers. The colonial regime of terror, as also the presence of illiteracy, numerous different languages, etc., renders difficult the organisation and development of the working class in general and the rapid development of the communist party in particular. The fluidity of composition and the large percentage of women and children are characteristic features of the colonial proletariat. In many places seasonal workers predominate, and even the basic ranks of the proletariat still have one foot in the village. This facilitates the connection between the working class and the peasantry, but makes more difficult the development of the class-consciousness of the proletariat.

Experience has shown that, in the majority of colonial and semi-colonial countries, an important if not a predominant part of the party ranks in the first stage of the movement is recruited from the petty bourgeoisie and, in particular, from the revolutionarily-inclined intelligentsia, very frequently students. It is not uncommon that these elements enter the party because they see in it the most decisive enemy of imperialism, at the same time not always sufficiently understanding that the communist party is not only the party of struggle against imperialist exploitation and oppression, but is the party which, as the party of the proletariat, leads a decisive struggle against all kinds of exploitation and expropriation. Many of these adherents of the party in the course of the revolutionary struggle will reach a proletarian class point of view, another part will find it more difficult to free themselves to the end from the moods, waverings, and half-hearted ideology of the petty bourgeoisie. It is precisely these elements of the party that find it especially difficult at the critical moment to estimate correctly the role of the national bourgeoisie and to act consistently, and without any kind of vacillation in the questions of the agrarian revolution etc. The colonial countries do not possess social-democratic traditions, but neither do they possess Marxist traditions. Our young parties in the process of struggle, in the process of building up the party, will have to overcome the relics of national petty-bourgeois ideology in order to find the road to Bolshevism.

These objective difficulties make it all the more obligatory for the Communist International to give an absolutely special attention to the tasks of building the party in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. An especially great responsibility in this connection lies with the communist parties of the imperialist countries. This demands not only assistance in the matter of working out the correct political line, accurate analysis of experience in the sphere of organisation and agitation, but also systematic education of the party ranks, the creation of a certain minimum of Marxist-Leninist literature and its translation into the languages of the different colonial countries, most active assistance in the matter of study and Marxist analysis of the economic and social problems of the colonies and semi-colonies and in the creation of a party press, etc. The communist parties in the colonial and semi-colonial countries are bound to exert all their efforts for the creation of a cadre of party functionaries from out of the working class itself, utilising members of the party – intellectuals – in the role of leaders and lecturers for propagandist circles and legal and illegal party schools, so as to educate from the leading workers the necessary agitators, propagandists, organisers and leaders permeated by the spirit of Leninism. The communist parties in the colonial countries must become genuinely proletarian parties also in their social composition. Including in their ranks the best elements of the revolutionary intelligentsia, becoming steeled in the process of the daily struggle and of big revolutionary fights, the communist parties must give their chief attention to the task of strengthening the party organisation in the factories and mines, among the transport workers and among the semi-slaves in the plantations. Everywhere where capitalism herds together the proletariat, the communist party must establish its nuclei, including the working-class tenements, the big working-class barracks of the factories, and the barrack like plantations so strictly guarded from working-class agitation. Nor should work be neglected among the journeymen, apprentices and coolies employed in small handicraft workshops. The native workers and the workers who have come from the metropolis must unite together in one and the same party organisation. The experience of the older parties in the matter of a correct combination of legal and illegal work must be utilised in accordance with the situation in the different colonial countries, in order as far as possible to avoid that which took place, for example, in China, where the vast mass organisations were broken up comparatively easily and without any great internal resistance under the blows of the reaction, thus greatly weakening the connection between the communist party and the masses.

Trade-Union Work in the Colonies

29. Alongside the development of the communist party, the most important of the immediate general tasks of the communists in the colonies and semi-colonies is that of work in the trade unions. The organisation of the unorganised workers, above all in the largest branches of industry (engineering, mining, transport, textiles, etc.), the conversion of the existing organisations into real class trade unions, the fight with the national-reformists and reactionary trade-union leaders for the leadership in these organisations – all these things must be included in the tasks of trade-union work. Another category of tasks consists in support of the economic interests and immediate demands of the workers in the struggle with the employers and, in particular, in resolute and correct leadership of strikes. It is obligatory for the communists to carry on revolutionary propagandist work in the reactionary trade unions which contain masses of workers. In those countries where circumstances dictate the necessity for creating special revolutionary trade unions (because the reactionary trade-union leadership hinders the organisation of the unorganised workers, destroys the most elementary demands of the trade-union democracy and converts the trade unions into strike-breaking organisations, etc.), it is necessary to consult on this question with the leadership of the RILU.* Special attention needs to be given to the intrigues of the Amsterdam International in the colonial countries (China, India, North Africa), and to the exposure of its reactionary character before the masses. It is obligatory for the communist party in the metropolis concerned to afford active help to the revolutionary trade-union movement of the colony by its advice and by sending permanent instructors. Up to now too little has been done in this connection.

* Red International of Labour Unions.

Work among the Peasants

30. Wherever peasant organisations exist – entirely irrespective of their character, as long as they are real mass organisations – the communist party must adopt measures in order to penetrate into these organisations. One of the immediate tasks of the party is the correct formulation of the agrarian question in the ranks of the working class, explaining to the latter the importance and decisive role of the agrarian revolution and acquainting members of the party with methods of agitation, propaganda and organisational work among the peasantry. Every party organisation has the duty of studying the specific agrarian situation in the region of its activity and of formulating the corresponding current demands of the peasants. The communists must everywhere attempt to give a revolutionary character to the existing peasant movement. They must organise both new revolutionary peasant unions and peasant committees, between which and the communist party it is necessary to establish regular connections. Both in the peasant masses and in the ranks of the proletariat it is essential to carryon energetic propaganda in favour of a fighting bloc of the proletariat and peasantry.

Special “workers’ and peasants’ parties”, whatever revolutionary character they may possess, can be too easily at particular periods converted into ordinary petty-bourgeois parties; and, accordingly, the communists are not recommended to organise such parties. The communist party can never build its organisation on the basis of a fusion of two classes, and in the same way also it cannot make it its task to organise other parties on this basis, which is characteristic of petty-bourgeois groups. The fighting bloc of the masses of workers and peasants can find expression in carefully prepare and periodically convened joint conferences and congresses of representatives of revolutionary peasant unions (or their committees) and of trade unions; in certain circumstances it may be found expedient to create revolutionary committees of action, coordinating the activity of the organisations of the workers and peasants which stand at the head of various mass activities, etc. Finally, during the revolution one of the fundamental tasks of the communist party is to promote the creation of elected soviets of workers’ and peasants’ deputies. Under any and all circumstances, the communist party is bound to exert a decisive influence on the peasant movement, to find out and apply those organisational forms of bloc between the workers and peasants which will most of all facilitate the task of leadership in the peasant movement and to create the prerequisites for the further transformation of these forms into soviets as organs of struggle and power

Youth in the Colonies

31. In the colonial countries the proletarian youth is exposed to especially grievous suffering, and the relative part played by the youth in the composition of the working class is considerably higher in the colonial countries than in the old capitalist countries. The exploitation of the working youth is subject to no legal limitations; there is no legal restriction of the working day, the conditions of labour are unbearably burdensome and are accompanied by inhuman conduct on the part of the employers and overseers. Matters are no better with the peasant youth. It is not remarkable that the worker-peasant youth is taking an active part in all the revolutionary movements of the colonial countries. From this youth was derived a great part of the revolutionary organisations and peasant armies in China, the guerilla armies of Korea, which have carried on the struggle against Japanese colonisers, as well as the participants in the heroic risings in Indonesia, etc.

An immediate fundamental task of the Communist Youth International in the colonies is the creation of revolutionary mass organisations of the proletarian youth under communist leadership, i.e. mass communist youth leagues. In this connection the training of genuinely communist leading cadres of the youth movement is just as important as securing a mass character and basic proletarian composition for the communist youth organisations. Together with the working youth, it is desirable to attract the best and most devoted revolutionary elements taking part in the peasant youth movement in order to strengthen the proletarian elements in the leading organs of the communist youth leagues. A mass recruitment of the youth from non-proletarian strata into the communist youth leagues is only permissible to the degree that there is guaranteed in the latter an overwhelming proletarian composition and firm communist leadership.

While taking part in all struggles of the communist party, the communist youth organisation must avoid both efforts to put itself in the place of the party as regards leadership of the working class (the so-called “vanguard” tendency) as also the peculiar liquidatory tendencies expressed in the denial of the necessity for a youth communist movement and in the reduction of the significance of the communist youth organisation to the role of student or other general indefinite youth organisations.

Young communist leaguers of the colonies, with the object of winning over the wide masses of the youth taking part in the workers’, peasants’ and revolutionary movements, and of liberating them from the influence of national-reformism and pseudo-revolutionary tendencies, must also make use of a system of auxiliary and, in relation to the YCL legal organisations, building them on the basis of a revolutionary programme and securing the leadership for the communist party and YCL.

The YCL must work in the already existing organisations in such a fashion as to draw them into revolutionary activity and to win influence and leadership within them. While utilising all these organisations and drawing the working masses of the young workers into the revolutionary struggle, the YCL organisations must not lose their independence or diminish their immediate work. The loss of the communist youth character and the consequent possible loss of their leadership over the revolutionary youth movement represents a great danger to be faced. Consequently, while utilising, developing and working in auxiliary organisations, the YCL must strengthen its own immediate work, coming out openly before the masses of working youth and attracting the best elements of the mass organisations into the ranks of the YCL. In the number of these organisations must be reckoned the youth sections of the trade unions and peasant unions, associations of working youth, antimilitarist unions, sports associations, local unions, etc.

The Sixth Congress of the Communist International makes it obligatory for all communist parties in the colonies to render all possible assistance in the creation and development of the communist youth movement, and to struggle against any deviations or backward views in the working class and trade unions which express themselves in ignoring the interests of the working youth and in disinclination to participate in the struggle for the demand for improvement of the conditions of the exploited young workers.

The Position of Women and Children

32. The exploitation of the labour of women and children in the colonial countries takes on especially wide dimensions and plunderous forms. The most miserable starvation wages, an unbearably long working day, the association in some regions of women and children for work under slave condition in plantations, etc., prison-like life in working class dwellings, barbarous and inconsiderate treatment – such are the conditions of labour of these sections. At the same time, there is carried on a widespread reactionary work among the proletarian women on the part of the bourgeoisie, missionaries, etc., who have at their disposal considerable monetary resources. But the women workers of the colonies, driven to desperation, are gradually awakening to class consciousness, are entering upon the revolutionary path and decisively and boldly joining the ranks of the struggling colonial proletariat. This was evident, above all, in the self-sacrificing participation of the Chinese working women in the events of the revolution (mass strikes of women workers, individual acts of heroism of women workers, the entrance of peasant women into the ranks of guerilla fighters). The communist parties of the colonies and semi-colonies must pay great attention to work among these strata, particularly in enterprises where women’s labour predominates, systematically attracting the women into trade-union organisations and winning over the best of them for the communist party. In struggling against the influence of hostile organisations, the party must use all the resources of oral, written, legal and illegal agitation and propaganda at its disposal in order to win over the working women.

Alongside these general tasks, the communist parties in the various colonies have a series of special tasks, resulting from the particular social-economic structure and political situation in each country. In proposing to the particular communist parties concerned the working out of the whole of these tasks in their concrete plans of action, the congress indicates below some of the most important of these immediate tasks.


33. In China, the future growth of the revolution will place before the party as an immediate practical task the preparation for and carrying through of armed insurrection as the sole path to the completion of the bourgeois-democratic revolution and to the overthrow of the power of the imperialists, landlords and national bourgeoisie – the power of the Kuomintang. Under existing circumstances, characterised fundamentally by the absence of .a revolutionary impulse among the wide masses of the Chinese people, the general line of the party must be the struggle for the masses. The carrying through of this line under the conditions of the strengthening of the anti-imperialist movement, of a certain revival of the strike struggle and of the continuing peasant activity, demands from the party the application of all its strength for gathering, consolidating and uniting the proletariat around the basic slogans of the party, an immense organisational work for the strengthening of the revolutionary trade-union and peasant associations, maximum attention to the conduct of the everyday economic and political work among the masses of the proletariat .and peasantry, and intense activity in explaining to the proletariat the experience of the preceding period of the revolution. At the same time, the party must explain to the masses the impossibility of a radical improvement in their position, the impossibility of the overthrow of imperialist domination and solution of the tasks of the agrarian revolution, without the overthrow from power of the Kuomintang and militarists and the creation of the rule of soviets.

The party must utilise every conflict, however insignificant, between the workers and capitalists in the factories, between the peasants and landlords in the villages, between the soldiers and officers in the army, deepening and sharpening these class clashes, in order to mobilise the widest masses of workers and peasants and to win them over to its side. The party must utilise all occurrences of violence on the part of international imperialism against the Chinese people, which at the present time take the form of a military seizure of different regions, as well as all the bloody exploits of infuriated reaction, in order to widen the popular protest of the masses against the ruling classes.

The success of this struggle for the masses will be determined to a considerable degree by the extent of the success achieved in applying tactics based on a correct estimate of the situation, and in outliving the mistakes and tendencies of an extreme-left character (putschism, military adventurism, individual terror, etc.) which have occurred in the party, as well as those of an opportunist character such as found their expression in the demands for summoning a national assembly and for the revival of the Kuomintang mass movement. Simultaneously, the party must conquer every tendency in the direction of replacing methods of convincing and educating the masses by methods of compulsion and commandment, which in the present conditions of cruel class terror, serve so seriously to enhance the danger of a rupture between the party and the toiling masses.

In the sphere of internal party work, the party must strive to re-establish the nuclei and local party committees which have been destroyed by the reaction, to improve the social composition of the party, and, in so doing, to concentrate especial attention on the creation of party nuclei in the important branches of production in the big factories, workshops and railway shops. The Communist Party of China must also devote most serious attention to regulating the social composition of the village organisations, so that these organisations shall be recruited basically from the proletarian, semi-proletarian and the poorest elements of the villages. The putting into effect of the principles of democratic centralism; the guaranteeing, as far as illegal conditions of work permit it, of inner-party democracy; transition to collective discussion and decision of questions; and, along with this, struggle against ultra-democratic tendencies in certain organisations, leading to breach of party discipline, to the growth of irresponsibility and to the destruction of the authority of the leading party centres.

It is necessary to strengthen the work in the theoretical training of the membership of the party, in the raising of their political level; the establishment of systematic propaganda of Marxism and Leninism; the investigation of the experience and lessons of the preceding stages of the Chinese revolution (the Wuhan period, the Canton insurrection, etc.). In relation to “third” parties (Tan Ping-san, Wang Tsin-wei), representing a weapon of the bourgeois-landlord counterrevolution, the task of the Chinese Communist Party consists in a decisive struggle against them, and in the exposure, on the basis of the practical anti-imperialist and mass movement, of the national-reformist activity of these parties as agencies of the ruling classes.

The fundamental slogans, through which the party must seek to win over the masses, are the following:

  1. Overthrow of imperialist domination.
  2. Confiscation of foreign enterprises and banks.
  3. Union of the country, with recognition of the right of each nationality to self-determination.
  4. Overthrow of the power of the militarists and the Kuomintang.
  5. Establishment of the power of soviets of workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ representatives.
  6. The 8-hour working day, increase of wages, assistance to the unemployed and social insurance.
  7. Confiscation of all lands of big landlords, land for the peasants and soldiers.
  8. The abolition of all governmental, militarist and local taxes and levies; a single progressively graduated income tax.
  9. Union with the USSR and the world proletarian movement.


34. The basic tasks of the Indian communists consist in struggle against British imperialism for the emancipation of the country, for destruction of all relics of feudalism, for the agrarian revolution and for establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasant in the form of a soviet republic. These tasks can be successfully carried out only when there will be created a powerful communist party which will be able to place itself at the head of the wide masses of the working class, peasantry and all the toilers, and to lead them in the struggle against the feudal-imperialist bloc.

The strike movement of Indian proletariat now taking place, its independence from bourgeois nationalism, the all-India character of this movement, its distribution over almost all branches of industry, the frequent and protracted strikes, the stubbornness and great resoluteness with which the workers have carried them on, the coming forward of leaders of the strikes from the midst of the workers themselves – all these things denote a turning point in the history of the struggle of the Indian proletariat, and prove that in India the preconditions have matured which are essential for the creation of a mass communist party. The union of all Communist groups and individual communists scattered throughout the country into a single, independent and centralised party represents the first task of Indian communists. While rejecting the principle of the building of the party on a two-class basis, the communists must utilise the connections of the existing workers’ and peasants’ parties with the toiling masses for strengthening their own party, bearing in mind that the hegemony of the proletariat cannot be realised without the existence of a consolidated, steadfast communist party armed with the theory of Marxism. The agitational work of the Communist Party must be bound up with the struggle for the immediate demands of the workers, at the same time explaining to them the general aims which the Communist Party sets out to achieve and the methods which it applies for their realisation. It is essential to establish nuclei in the various industrial and other enterprises, and these must take an active part in the labour movement, in the organisation and conduct of strikes and political demonstrations. The communist organisations must from the very beginning devote special attention to the training of leading party cadres from the ranks of the workers.

In the trade unions, the Indian communists must mercilessly expose the nationalist-reformist leaders and carryon a decisive struggle for the conversion of the trade unions into genuine class organisations of the proletariat and for the replacement of the present reformist leadership by consistent revolutionary representatives from the mass of the workers. It is especially necessary to expose the method so much favoured by Indian reformists of deciding conflicts by means of petition to the representatives of British imperialism, as well as to “impartial” courts for adjudication between workers and employers. In this struggle, it is necessary to push forward the demands for trade-union democracy, for putting the trade-union apparatus into the hands of the workers, etc. The levers for party work in the trade unions must be the communist fractions as well as groups founded by the communists and sympathising with them. It is necessary to utilise the present strike wave in order to organise the unorganised workers. The miners and engineering workers, the coolies working on the plantations and agricultural labourers in general represent the least organised sections of the Indian proletariat and the communists need to devote the necessary attention to them.

The communists must unmask the national reformism of the Indian National Congress and oppose all the phrases of the Swarajists, Gandhists, etc., about passive resistance, with the irreconcilable slogan of struggle for the emancipation of the country and the expulsion of the imperialists.

In relation to the peasantry and peasant organisations the Indian communists are faced above all with the task of acquainting the widest strata of the peasantry with the general demands of the party in the agrarian question, for which purpose the party must work out an agrarian programme of action. Through workers connected with the village, as well as directly, the communists must stimulate the struggle of the peasantry for partial demands, and in the process of struggle organise peasant unions. It is essential to pay particular attention to make sure that the newly-created peasant organisations do not fall under the influence of exploiting strata in the village. It is necessary to give to the existing peasant organisations a concise programme of concrete demands and to support the activities of the peasants through demonstrations of workers in the towns.

It must be remembered that under no circumstances can the communists relinquish their right to open criticism of the opportunist and reformist tactics of the leadership of those mass organisations in which they work.


35. In Indonesia, the suppression of the rising of 1926, the arrest and exile of thousands of members of the Communist Party, greatly disorganised its ranks. The need for rebuilding the destroyed party organisation demands from the party new methods of work, corresponding to the illegal conditions created by the police regime of Dutch imperialism. The transference of the centre of gravity of all activity of the party to the places where the town and village proletariat is aggregated – to the factories, and plantations; the restoration of the dissolved trade unions and the struggle for their legalisation; special attention to the partial practical demands of the peasantry; the development and strengthening of the peasant organisations; work within all the mass nationalist organisations, in which the Communist Party must establish fractions and rally round it national-revolutionary elements; decisive struggle against the Dutch social-democrats who, utilising the support of the government, are attempting to secure a base for themselves in the native proletariat; winning over the numerous Chinese workers for the class struggle and national-revolutionary struggle and the establishment of connections with the communist movements in China and India – these are some of the most important tasks of the Indonesian Communist Party.


36. In Korea, the communists must strengthen their work in the ranks of the proletariat, and in their efforts for a general increase of activity and strengthening of the workers’ organisations and peasant federations, they must attempt to secure the reorganisation of the trade unions so that they include the most important strata of the working class and combine economic struggle with political demands. At the same time, they must associate in the closest possible fashion the demands for the national emancipation of the country with the slogan of the agrarian revolution, which is acquiring evermore pressing importance in consequence of the growing pauperisation of the peasantry under the plundering colonial regime.

In the ranks of the toiling masses, from which are derived the big religious-national unions (Chun-Dokyo, etc.), it is necessary to carry on a patient, revolutionary educational work in order to liberate them from the influence of the national-reformist leaders. The communist movement must be strengthened in all existing revolutionary mass organisations; instead of attempting to create a general national-revolutionary party, on the basis of individual membership, endeavours must be made to coordinate and unite the activities of the different national-revolutionary organisations with the aid of local committees of action, so as to create, in fact, a bloc of revolutionary elements under proletarian communist leadership, criticising in so doing the half-heartedness and vacillations of the petty-bourgeois nationalists and continually unmasking them before the masses. New forces must be drawn into the Communist Party, above all from among the industrial workers; this will be the best guarantee for the Bolshevik development of the party, and especially it will facilitate the absolutely necessary liquidation of the harmful spirit of factionalism in its ranks.


37. In Egypt, the Communist Party will be able to play an important role in the national movement, but only if it bases itself on the organised proletariat. The organisation of trade unions among the Egyptian workers, the strengthening of the class struggle and leadership in the class struggle are consequently, the first and most important tasks of the Communist Party. The greatest danger to the trade-union movement in Egypt at the present time lies in, the bourgeois nationalists getting control of the workers’ trade unions. Without a decisive struggle against their influence, a genuine class organisation of the workers is impossible. One of the essential defects of the Egyptian communists in the past has been that they have worked exclusively among the urban workers. A correct setting out of the agrarian question, the gradual drawing into the revolutionary struggle of the wide masses of agricultural workers and peasants, and the organisation of the these masses, constitutes one of the most important tasks for the party. Special attention needs to be devoted to the building up of the party itself, which is still very weak.

Northern Africa

38. In the French colonies of North Africa, the communists must carry on work in all the already existing national-revolutionary mass organisations in order to unite through them the genuine revolutionary elements on a consistent and clear platform of a fighting bloc of workers and peasants. As far as the organisation “Etoile Nord Africain” is concerned, the communists must secure that it develops, not in the form of a party, but in the form of a fighting bloc of various revolutionary organisations, collectively associating with it as a whole the trade unions of industrial and agricultural workers, peasant unions, etc. In so doing, it is necessary to guarantee the leading role of the revolutionary proletariat, and for this purpose it is necessary, above all, to develop the trade-union movement as the most important organisational mass basis for communist influence. The achievement of .an ever closer cooperation of the revolutionary sections of the white proletariat with the native working class must be our constant task. In the agrarian question, it is necessary to be able to direct the growing hatred of the village population, evoked by the policy of expropriation conducted by French imperialism into the channels of useful organised struggle (improved organisation of strikes of agricultural workers, strengthening of unions of agricultural workers in Algiers, etc.). The communist organisation in each individual country must attract into its ranks in the first place native workers, fighting against any negligent attitude towards them. The communist parties, actively basing themselves on the native proletariat, must formally and in fact become independent sections of the Communist International.

The Negro Question

39. In connection with the colonial question, the Sixth Congress draws the close attention of the communist parties to the negro question. The position of the negroes varies in different countries and accordingly requires concrete investigation and analysis. The territories, in which compact negro masses are to be found, can be divided according to their general features into the following groups:

  1. The United States and some South-American countries, in which the compact negro masses constitute a minority in relation to the white population.
  2. The Union of South Africa, where the negroes are the majority in relation to the white colonists.
  3. The negro states which are actually colonies or semi-colonies of imperialism (Liberia, Haiti, San-Domingo).
  4. The whole of Central Africa divided into the colonies and mandated territories of various imperialist powers (Great Britain, France, Portugal, etc.). The tasks of the communist parties have to be defined in their dependence on the concrete situation.


In the United States are to be found 12 million negroes. The majority of them are tenants, paying rent in kind and living under semi-feudal and semi-slave conditions. The position of these negro tenant-farmers is exactly the same as that of agricultural labourers, being only formally distinguishable from the slavery that the constitution is supposed to have abolished. The white landowner, uniting in one person the landlord, merchant and usurer, employs the lynching of negroes, segregation and other methods of American bourgeois democracy, reproducing the worst forms of exploitation of the slavery period. Owing to the industrialisation of the South a negro proletariat is coming into existence. At the same time, the emigration of the negroes to the North continues at an ever-increasing rate, where the huge majority of negroes become unskilled labourers. The growth of the negro proletariat is the most important phenomenon of recent years At the same time there arises in the negro quarters – the negro ghetto – a petty bourgeoisie, from which is derived a stratum of intellectuals and a thin stratum of bourgeoisie, the latter acting as the agent of imperialism.

One of the most important tasks of the Communist Party consists in the struggle for a complete and real equality of the negroes, for the abolition of all kinds of racial, social and political inequalities. It is the duty of the Communist Party to carry on the most energetic struggle against any exhibition of white chauvinism, to organise active resistance against lynching, to strengthen its work among negro proletarians, to draw into its ranks the most conscious elements of the negro workers, to fight for the acceptance of negro workers in all organisations of white workers, and especially in the trade unions (which does not exclude, if necessary, their organisation into separate trade unions), to organise the masses of peasants and agricultural workers in South, to carry on work among the negro petty-bourgeois tendencies such as “Harveyism” and to carry on a struggle .against the influence of such tendencies in the working class and peasantry. In those regions of the South in which compact negro masses are living, it is essential to put forward the slogan of the “Right of self-determination for negroes!” A radical transformation of the agrarian structure of the Southern states is one of the basic tasks of the revolution. Negro communists must explain to non-negro workers and peasants that only their close union with the white proletariat and joint struggle with them against the American bourgeoisie can lead to their liberation from barbarous exploitation and that only the victorious proletarian revolution will completely and permanently solve the agrarian and national questions of the Southern United States in the interests of the overwhelming majority of the negro population of the country.

In the Union of South Africa, the negro masses, which constitute the majority of the population, are being expropriated from the land by the white colonists and by the state, are deprived of political rights and of the right of freedom of movement, are subjected to most brutal forms of racial and class oppression, and suffer simultaneously from pre-capitalist and capitalist methods of exploitation and oppression. The Communist Party which has already achieved definite successes among the negro proletariat has the duty of continuing still more energetically the struggle for complete equality of rights for the negroes, for the abolition of all special regulations and laws directed against negroes, and for confiscation of the land of the landlords. In drawing into its organisation non-negro workers, organising them in trade unions, and in carrying on a struggle for the acceptance of negroes by the trade unions of white workers, the Communist Party has the obligation to struggle by all methods against every racial prejudice in the ranks of the white workers and to eradicate entirely such prejudices from its own ranks. The party must determinedly and consistently put forward the slogan for the creation of an independent native republic, with simultaneous guarantees for the rights of the white minority, and the struggle in deeds for its realisation. In proportion as the development of capitalist relationships disintegrates the tribal structure, the party must strengthen its work in the education in class consciousness of the exploited strata of the negro population, and cooperate in their liberation from the influence of the exploiting tribal strata, which become more and more agents of imperialism.

In the Central African colonies of imperialism, colonial exploitation takes on the very worst forms, uniting slave-owning, feudal and capitalist methods of exploitation. In the post-war period, capital from the imperialist metropolitan countries has flowed in an ever-growing stream to the African colonies, compelling the concentration of considerable masses of the expropriated and proletarianised population in plantations, mining and other enterprises. The congress makes it a duty of the communist parties in the metropolitan countries to put an end to the indifference which they have exhibited in regard to the mass movements in these colonies, and instead to afford energetic support both in the imperialist centres and in the colonies themselves to these movements, at the same time attentively studying the situation in these countries for the purpose of exposing the bloody exploits of imperialism and of creating the possibility of organisational connections with the developing proletarian elements there which are so mercilessly exploited by imperialism.

Latin America

40. In Latin America, the communists must everywhere actively participate in the revolutionary mass movements directed against the landlord regime and against imperialism, even where these movements are still under the leadership of the petty bourgeoisie. In so doing, however, the communists may not under any circumstances politically subordinate themselves to their possibly temporary ally. While struggling for the hegemony during the revolutionary movement, the communists must strive in the first place for the political and organisational independence of their party, securing its transformation into the leading party of the proletariat. In their agitation, the communists must especially emphasise the following slogans:

  1. Expropriation without compensation and the handing over of a part of the big plantations and latifundia* to the collective cultivation of the agricultural workers, and the distribution of the other portion between the peasants, tenant-farmers and colonists.
  2. Confiscation of foreign enterprises (mines, industrial enterprises, banks, etc.), and of the big enterprises of the national bourgeoisie and big landlords.
  3. The repudiation of state debts and the liquidation of any kind of control over the country on the part of imperialism.
  4. The introduction of the 8-hour working day and the stamping out of semi-slavelike conditions of labour.
  5. The arming of the workers and peasants and the conversion of the army into a workers’ and peasants’ militia.
  6. The establishment of the soviet power of the workers, peasants and soldiers, in place of the class rule of the big landlords and of the church. The central place in communist agitation must be occupied by the slogan of a workers’ and peasants’ government, in contradistinction to the so-called “revolutionary” governments of the military dictatorship of the petty bourgeoisie.
< style="font-family: arial;">* Huge farms or plantations worked by serf labour.

The fundamental prerequisite for the success of the whole revolutionary movement in these countries lies in the ideological and organisational strengthening of the communist parties and in their connection with the toiling masses and with the mass organisations. The communist parties must unceasingly strive for the organisation of the industrial workers into class trade unions, especially the workers in big enterprises owned by imperialism, for the raising of the level of their political and class consciousness and for the eradication of reformist, anarcho-syndicalist and corporate ideology. At the same time it is necessary to organise the peasants, tenant-farmers and cultivators into peasant unions. It is necessary to assist the extension of sections of the League Against Imperialism, in which communist fractions must carry on work. Very important is the closest possible mutual cooperation between all the revolutionary mass organisations of workers and peasants, and primarily of the communist parties, in the countries of Latin America and their connection with the corresponding international organisations and also with the revolutionary proletariat in the United States.

Tasks in Imperialist Countries

41. The immediate tasks of the communist parties of the imperialist countries in the colonial question bear a threefold character. In the first place, the establishment of regular connections between the communist parties and the revolutionary trade-union organisations of the imperialist centres, on the one hand, and the corresponding revolutionary organisations of the colonies, on the other hand. The connections hitherto established between the communist parties of the imperialist centres and the revolutionary organisations of the corresponding colonial countries, with the exception of a few cases, cannot be regarded as adequate. This fact can only in part be explained by objective difficulties. It is necessary to recognise that so far not all the parties in the Communist International have fully understood the decisive significance of the establishment of close, regular and constant relations with the revolutionary movements in the colonies for the purpose of affording these movements active support and immediate practical help. Only in so far as the communist parties of the imperialist countries render in fact practical assistance to the revolutionary movement in the colonies, in so far as their help actually facilitates the struggle of the corresponding colonial countries against imperialism, can their position in the colonial question be recognised as a genuinely Bolshevik one. In this lies the criterion of the revolutionary activity in general.

The second series of tasks consists in genuine support of the struggle of the colonial peoples against imperialism through the organisation of mass demonstrations and other effective activities of the proletariat. In this sphere, the activity of the communist parties of the big capitalist countries has also been insufficient. The preparation and organisation of such demonstrations of solidarity must undoubtedly become one of the basic elements of communist agitation among the mass of the workers of the capitalist countries. The communists must expose the true spoliatory character of the capitalist colonial regime by all the agitational means at their disposal (press, public demonstrations, parliamentary platform); they must mercilessly tear aside the network of lies with the help of which the colonial system is represented as an affair of civilisation and general progress. A special task in this sphere is the struggle against missionary organisations, which act as one of the most effective levers for imperialist expansion and for enslavement of the colonial peoples.

The communists must mobilise the wide masses of workers and peasants in the capitalist countries on the basis of the demand for granting, unconditionally and without reservation, complete state independence and sovereignty to the colonial peoples. The fight against the bloody suppression of colonial risings, .against armed intervention of the imperialists against the national revolutions, against the growth of the military aggressiveness of imperialism, with its new armed seizures of territory, demands from the international proletariat a systematic, organised and self-sacrificing struggle. It is necessary to take into account the lessons to be drawn from the fact that not a single section of the Communist International in the capitalist countries has succeeded to an adequate degree in mobilising the masses for active support of the Chinese revolution against the unceasing attacks of world imperialism. The preparation for world war, the attack of the .imperialists against the peoples of “their” colonies, with a view to their “pacification”, places the task of active support for the colonial revolution in the centre of attention and struggle for the proletariat of the capitalist countries.

Striving for the immediate recall of the armed forces of imperialism from the oppressed countries, the communist parties must work unceasingly for the organisation of mass action in order to prevent the transport of troops and munitions to the colonies.

The struggle against the colonial policy of social-democracy must be looked upon by the communist party as an organic constituent part of its struggle against imperialism. The Second International by the position it adopted on the colonial question at its last congress in Brussels has finally given sanction to what has already always been the practical activity of the different socialist parties of the imperialist countries during the post-war years. The colonial policy of social-democracy is a policy of active support of imperialism in the exploitation and oppression of the colonial people. It has officially adopted the point of view which lies at the basis of the organisation of the “League of Nations”, according to which the ruling classes of the developed capitalist countries have the “right” to rule over the majority of the peoples of the globe and to subject these peoples to a cruel regime of exploitation and enslavement. In order to deceive a portion of the working class and to secure its cooperation in the maintenance of the colonial regime of plunder, social-democracy, in the most shameful and repulsive manner, defends the exploits of imperialism in the colonies. It disguises the real content of the capitalist colonial system, it wilfully ignores the connection between colonial policy and the danger of a new imperialist war, which is threatening the proletariat and toiling masses of the whole world. Wherever the indignation of the colonial peoples finds vent in the emancipatory struggle against imperialism, social-democracy, notwithstanding its lying phrases, in practice always stands on the side of the imperialist executioners of the revolution. During the last few years, the socialist parties of all the capitalist countries have been voting for the credits which the governments of these countries demand for the carrying on of war against the colonial peoples struggling for their freedom (Morocco, Syria, Indonesia), they themselves take a direct part in the business of colonial exploitation (French socialists act as governors in the colonies at the appointment of imperialist governments, the socialist cooperatives of Belgium participate in colonial enterprises for the exploitation of the negro population of the Congo), and they approve of the most cruel measures for the suppression of colonial uprisings (defence by the leaders of the British Labour Party of intervention in China, the activity of the Dutch Socialist Party in defence of the suppression of the insurrection in Indonesia). The social-democratic theory, alleging that the capitalist colonial regime can be reformed and converted into a “good colonial regime”, is a mask behind which the social-democrats attempt to conceal their true social-imperialist character. The communists must tear this mask from them and demonstrate to the toiling masses of the imperialist countries that the socialist parties are the collaborators and direct accomplices of imperialist colonial policy, that they have in this sphere betrayed in the most flagrant fashion their own socialist programme and that they have become an agency of imperialist plunder in the imperialist countries and in the colonies.

The communists must pay the greatest attention to the attempt of the social-democrats, made with the aid of the capitalist governments, to extend their influence in the colonies and to establish there their own sections and organisations. These attempts correspond to the policy of that portion of the imperialist colonisers which makes it its aim to reinforce its position in the colonies by the buying up of definite strata of the native population. The specific conditions obtaining in some colonies may lend a certain success to these attempts and lead to the temporary development of a reformist movement in these countries under the influence of the social-democracy of the capitalist countries. The task of the communists must be to wage a decisive struggle against such attempts, to expose the colonial policy of the socialists before the native masses and in this way to direct against the social-democratic leaders – servants of imperialism – the same well-deserved hatred which the oppressed colonial peoples bear against the imperialists.

In all these spheres, the communist parties of the capitalist countries can only achieve success if they also carryon an intensive propaganda in their own ranks in order to explain the communist attitude to the colonial question, in order to eradicate completely every vestige of social-democratic ideology in this question and to resist any possible deviation from the correct Leninist line.

(PPH edition: 1948)

Click here to return to Comintern and National & Colonial Questions: Documents of Congresses