The Comintern in 1922

The Periphery Pushes Back

In: Historical Materialism
John Riddell

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The Fourth Congress of the Communist International, held in November–December 1922, shows evidence of member parties outside Soviet Russia taking initiatives and exerting significant influence on central political questions before world communism. On at least three issues, all related to united-front policy, non-Russian delegates’ pressure substantially altered Comintern Executive Committee proposals to the Congress. A central role in this process was played by leaders of the German Communist Party. The record of the Congress, newly available in English, also contains many calls for increasing the authority of the Comintern Executive. Still, the influence of non-Russian delegations, in a context of frequent division among leading Bolsheviks, suggests that influence of front-line parties was significant and possibly growing in 1922, little more than a year before the Comintern took a sharp turn toward Russian-dominated bureaucratisation.

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