To the Masses

Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921

Series:

Editor: John Riddell
Debates at world Communism’s 1921 congress reveal Lenin’s International at a moment of crisis. A policy of confrontational initiatives by a resolute minority contends with the perspective of winning majority working-class support on the road to the revolutionary conquest of power. A frank debate among many currents concludes with a classic formulation of Communist strategy and tactics. Thirty-two appendices, many never before published in any language, portray delegates’ behind-the-scenes exchanges. This newly translated treasure of 1,000 pages of source material, available for the first time in English, is supplemented by an analytic introduction, detailed footnotes, a glossary with 430 biographical entries, a chronology, and an index. The final instalment of a 4,500-page series on Communist congresses in Lenin’s time.
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Biographical Note

John Riddell has translated and edited eight volumes of documents of the Communist movement in the era of the Russian revolution, such as Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 (Brill, 2012). A further Brill volume now in preparation will complete this ambitious project.

Review Quotes

" To the Masses is the last volume of a hugely ambitious project to make the proceedings of the (four) congresses of the Communist International held during Lenin's time available in English. It's an extraodrinary achievement for John Riddell, a Canadian revolutionary socialist historian and activist. With good reason the publisher can boast of "this newly translted treasure of 1,000 pages of source material.... supplemented by an analytic introductioin, detailed footnotes, a glossary with 430 biographical entries, a chronology, a comprehensive index". The volume also includes 32 appendices which portray behind the scenes exchanges between delegates at the congress. A brief review cannot begin to do justice to a a resource like this. It will justifiably demand the attention of generations of professional and amateur historians, socialist activists and curious general reaers who want to deepen their understanding of the desperate struggle to internationalise the world's first socialist revolution in Russia in October 1917."
- John Rose, International Socialism, January 2017

"This collection is the first complete scholarly publication in English of the proceedings, the theses and resolutions of the Third Congress of the Third International. [...] The volume also contains a third type of source material in the form of 32 appendices translated from archival and published sources in German, Russian and French, given here in chronological order. These and the extensive editorial introduction are welcome contributions to the contextualizing of the proceedings. Both help to understand the complex and confusing political situation the delegates and the ECCI leadership were in after the revolutionary prospects in Europe had dwindled, and the deep fractures that divided them about the correct strategy to undertake. [...] Specialists will be particularly interested in Riddell’s interpretation of the leading figures of the congress and their respective roles. These seven historical actors comprise, not surprisingly, Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev and Radek, but also three non-Russian
Communists – Clara Zetkin, the absent Paul Levi, who had been excluded from the German Party for his criticisms of the March Action, and the mostly silent Béla Kun, who had probably acted on his own initiative when he actively supported the infamous March Action as the
head of the ECCI mission to Germany. [...] Proceedings of a Comintern congress are not exactly something that one reads systematically from the first page to the last. The detailed introduction and the glossary with its short biographical notes are thus useful guides through the book. I have been picking what interested me most, but I ended up reading much more than I had intended."
- Brigitte Studer (University of Bern), The International Newsletter of Communist Studies, Vol 22/23 (2016/17), Nos. 29-30, pp. 95 - 96

Table of contents

List of Speakers

Editorial Introduction
Background to the Congress
The Third Congress
School of Strategy

About This Edition
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations

Preliminary Statements
Provisional Congress Agenda
Call for the Third World Congress
Invitation to the Third Congress of the Communist International

Proceedings
Session 1. Opening Session (22 June)
Session 2. World Economy – Report (23 June)
Session 3. World Economy – Discussion (24 June)
Session 4. Executive Committee Report (25 June)
Session 5. Executive Committee Report – Discussion (26 June)
Session 6. Executive Committee Report – Discussion (27 June)
Session 7. Executive Committee Report – Discussion (27 June)
Session 8. The KAPD; the Italian Question (28 June)
Session 9. Italian Question; Executive Report (29 June)
Session 10. Tactics and Strategy – Report (30 June)
Session 11. Tactics and Strategy – Discussion (1 July)
Session 12. Tactics and Strategy – Discussion (1 July)
Session 13. Tactics and Strategy – Discussion (2 July)
Session 14. Tactics and Strategy – Discussion (2 July)
Session 15. Trade Unions – Reports (3 July)
Session 16. World Economy; Trade Union Discussion (4 July)
Session 17. Russian Communist Party (5 July)
Session 18. Trade Unions – Discussion (6 July)
Session 19. Trade Unions – Discussion (7 July)
Session 20. Youth and Women’s Movements (8 July)
Session 21. Tactics and Strategy, Germany, Cooperatives (9 July)
Session 22. Cooperatives, Organisation (10 July)
Session 23. Eastern Question (12 July)
Session 24. Closing Session (12 July)
List of Delegations

Theses, Resolutions, and Appeals
Theses on the World Situation and the Tasks of the Communist International
Resolution on the Report by the Executive Committee of the Communist International
Theses on Tactics and Strategy
The March Action and the Situation in the VKPD
Appeal for Max Hoelz
Theses on the Communist International and the Red International of Labour Unions
Resolution on Work in the Cooperative Movement
Theses on the Work of Communists in the Cooperatives
Theses on the Report Concerning the Policies of the Communist Party of Russia
Resolution on the Policies of the Communist Party of Russia
Theses on the Organisational Structure of the Communist Parties and the Methods and Content of their Work
Resolution on Organising the Communist International
Theses on Methods and Forms of Work of the Communist Parties among Women
Resolution on International Ties between Communist Women and the International Communist Women’s Secretariat
Resolution on Forms and Methods of Communist Work among Women
The Communist International and the Communist Youth Movement
Forward to New Work and New Struggles (ECCI Appeal)
Addendum: Amendments to the Theses on Tactics and Strategy (Not Approved)

Appendices
1. Before the Congress: The Open Letter
1a. Open Letter to German Workers’ Organisations, 8 January 1921
1b. ECCI Debate on Open Letter, 22 February
2. Before the Congress: The March Action
2a. Radek to VKPD Leaders in Berlin, 14 March
2b. VKPD Theses on March Action, 7 April
2c. Resolution by Clara Zetkin on March Action, 7 April
2d. Lenin to Zetkin and Levi on Open Letter, Livorno, and VKPD Leadership, 16 April
2e. Béla Kun Defends March Action to Lenin, 6 May
2f. Paul Levi Appeals to Third Congress, 31 May
3. The Political Struggle at the Congress: June 1921
3a. Lenin to Zinoviev on Tasks at Congress, 10 June
3b. Lenin on the Theses on Organisation, 10–11June, 9 July
3c. German Delegation to ECCI on Zetkin’s Role, 10 June
3d. German Delegation Gives Conditional Support to Draft Theses, 16 June
3e. Lenin Withdraws Harsh Language, 16 June
3f. ECCI Debate on French Communist Party and Leftism, 16-17 June
3g. Zetkin on March Action Resolution, 18 June
3h. Radek on Differences among Bolshevik Leaders, 21 June
3i. Zetkin on Discussions with Lenin
3j. Zetkin Sends Levi a Congress Update, 22 June
3k. Zetkin to Lenin on Personal Attacks, 28 June
4. The Political Struggle at the Congress: July 1921
4a. Trotsky Reports to Lenin on Congress Debate, 3 July
4b. Lenin on Šmeral and Czechoslovak Party, 6 July
4c. Lenin Reassures Hungarian Delegates, 7 July
4d. German Delegation Meets with Bolshevik Leaders, 9 July
4e. Lenin Speaks to Central European Delegates, 11 July
4f. Zetkin on Taking Leave from Lenin
4g. Lenin on His Final Meeting with Zetkin, 28 July
4h. Lenin on the Outcome of the Levi Initiative, 14 August
5. The Colonial Question 000
5a. M.N. Roy: Theses on the Eastern Question
5b. Ahmed Sultanzade: Theses on the Eastern Question
5c. Zhang Tailei: Theses on the Colonial Question
5d. Ivon Jones: The Black Question
5e. Against Repression in Palestine

Chronology
Glossary
Selected Bibliography
Index

Readership

All those interested in Communist and labour history, the political theory of radical movements, global efforts at social change, and movements for colonial and women’s emancipation.

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