Izmir, Turkey, 18-20 October 2019

“100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist International – The fight for peace and socialism continues!”

Dear Comrades,

The Workers Party of Ireland extends greetings to the parties present in Izmir, Turkey, for the 21st International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties and extends its thanks to the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) for organising this meeting and providing the facilities for our parties to come together to discuss our common struggles and to reinforce the vital necessity of proletarian internationalism in the struggle for peace and socialism.

The IMCWP is an important event for our parties. The WPI wishes to make clear its condemnation of the provocative action of a group which sent a letter to the members of the IMCWP invited to this 21st International Meeting that goes against the Communist Party of Turkey, which, following a decision by the Working Group of the IMCWP, co-hosts this year’s IMCWP together with the KKE. We condemn this provocation and stand firmly in solidarity with our comrades in the TKP.

It is also important to record our condemnation of the recent further intervention and military invasion of Syria by Turkish armed forces and their proxies by land and air operations under the false pretext of “self-defence”. This continuing violation of Syrian sovereignty in collusion with the U.S, is part of a renewed imperialist offensive to divide and destabilise Syria which has already suffered the devastation of an imperialist war and represents a serious threat to the peace, security and prosperity of the peoples of the region and beyond.

Our Party remains committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and we express our solidarity with the people of Syria, including the Kurdish population of the region. It is for the people of Syria to decide their future free from imperialist intervention and interference.

This year we celebrate 100 years since the foundation of the Communist International. The International was formed in Moscow in March 1919 at the suggestion of Lenin at the first Congress of the Communist parties. The Communist International was born as an International of action, “the International of the deed”, an organisation committed to class struggle and workers’ power.

The Manifesto of the First Congress of the Communist International declared: “Sweeping aside the half-heartedness, lies and corruption of the outlived official Socialist parties, we Communists, united in the Third International, consider ourselves the direct continuation of the heroic endeavours and martyrdom of a long line of revolutionary generations …” and it announced: “Our task is to generalise the revolutionary experience of the working class, to purge the movement of the corroding admixture of opportunism and social-patriotism, to unify the efforts of all genuinely revolutionary parties of the world proletariat and thereby facilitate and hasten the victory of the Communist revolution throughout the world.”

Having learned the lessons of the betrayal of the working class by the Second International, Lenin recognised, as far back as 1914, that the Second International was “dead, overcome by opportunism …”. When it came to a choice between proletarian internationalism which required opposition to an imperialist war and support for the war mongering of their national bourgeoisie, the “social patriots” chose to betray their fellow workers. The Resolution of the Stuttgart Congress of the Second International in 1907 as to the duty of the workers and their parliamentary representatives in the event of the outbreak of war was soon forgotten by all bar a few notable exceptions. Workers were betrayed in the mass slaughter on the First World War. For all their talk of internationalism and the dangers of militarism, these parties chose their own nation and its ruling class. The irreconcilable differences between the social patriots and the internationalists became a harsh reality.

In a Resolution at the First Congress of the Communist International, the International also recognised that it would be “sheer nonsense to think that that the most profound revolution in history, the first case in the history of the world of power being transferred from the exploiting minority to the exploited majority, could take place within the time-worn framework of the old, bourgeois parliamentary democracy, without drastic changes, without the creation of new forms of democracy, new institutions that embody the new conditions for applying democracy”.

The delegates to the First Congress exposed the errors of opportunism and “social patriotism” and counter-posed the necessity for a revolutionary strategy and proletarian internationalism and defence of the gains of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

Lenin, of course, was aware of “the danger of dilution by the influx of wavering and irresolute groups that have not yet broken with their Second International ideology” (Terms of Admission into the Communist International)[1] while he also exposed “the infantile disorder of ultra-leftism”[2] and reformism (We Have Paid Too Much).[3]

The Communist International played a vital role in strengthening the communist parties and underlining the vital necessity of the principle of proletarian internationalism and international solidarity. It demonstrated the necessity for communist and workers’ parties to adhere to a revolutionary strategy. It highlighted the dangers of social democracy and the need for vigilance against reformism, opportunism and class collaboration within the workers’ movement. It made clear that an end to war is only possible through the abolition of capitalism. It showed that only through the establishment of workers’ power and the construction of socialism could workers’ needs be met. Of course, errors were made and mistaken assessments were from time to time adopted. That, however, does not diminish the tremendous significance of the Third International and the dissolution of the International in 1943 was a blow to the international communist movement.

Accordingly, the legacy of the Communist International remains of vital importance. We can benefit from its achievements and learn from its mistakes, particularly at a time when the international communist movement is faced with many problems and challenges and in circumstances where the growth of nationalism and fascism in many countries represent a real threat to workers’ unity and working class action and where imperialism continues to pose a threat to world peace.

The working class in many countries is confronted with the rise in bourgeois nationalism which is utilised to divide workers on ethnic, national or religious grounds, to weaken the workers’ movement, to distract workers from the class struggle and to obstruct and delay the advance towards socialism.

Whereas socialism emphasises the conflict between social classes which crosses national boundaries, nationalism, in contrast, envisages a national community which rises above class as the principal focus of individual and group allegiance. This, of course, serves the interests of the bourgeoisie. By way of contrast, the concept of proletarian internationalism is fundamental to the struggle of the working class but inimical to bourgeois nationalism.  A political ideology which demands exclusive allegiance and commitment to a nation embodied as a form of an all-class alliance is detrimental to class struggle. 

The concept of the nation-state as a political unit within capitalist society exists to maintain the class rule of the bourgeoisie. The General Rules of the First International clearly specified that “the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries”. As Lenin stated, Marx had made clear that the working class should be the last to make a fetish of the national question.

The foundation of the Communist International constituted a significant and fundamental departure from the discredited and shameful positions of the Second International which had sacrificed the workers of Europe on the altar of nationalism. 

We should never underestimate the power of nationalism of whatever hue to divide workers and to corrupt and distort the labour movement. In Ireland we are only too aware of that phenomenon and the dangers it poses to working class unity and progressive political change.

Today, the communist and workers’ parties can represent the values of what was best in the Communist International by a consistently revolutionary strategy and orientation based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, in the struggle for peace and against imperialism, by raising class consciousness so that workers identify with their class interests rather than sectional or communal concerns and by demonstrating that socialism and communism are the only alternatives to a rotten capitalist system which can only deliver war, exploitation and oppression and which must be abolished.

Long live Marxism-Leninism!

Long live international proletarian solidarity!

Gerry Grainger

Member of the Central Executive Committee