Summary: Part III of this feature
Lenin knew that a successful international would be impossible without
the Germans. The big problem was Eberlein who was under orders to do all he
could to keep the international from becoming reality. Eventually, due to
pressure from the Austrian delegate, Steinhart, Eberlein agreed to be silent
and abstain from voting. Thus, he did not support the new organization, neither
did he suppress it.
At the end of the first Congress, it was easily determined that Moscow would be the headquarters with Grigori Sinoviev the Comintern's president. The basic premiss of the International was the ideal of Soviet dictatorship and the obligation of of all members to separate themselves from all patriots and pacifists.
Sinoviev was not supposed to run the international single handed. All decisions making was to be in collaboration with Nikolay Bukharin and Karl Radek. Bukharin was not a dynamic politician but was known for his high morals and found favor with Lenin. Radek opposed Lenin, was a student of Rosa Luxemburg and was against the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty with Germany. He was very much in favor of resistance at any cost. Radek knew the German labor movement and socialism extremely well and had begun to try and set up a liaison between the Soviet Union and German manufacturers which was seen as tantamount to treason.
Despite their differences, Sinoviev, Bukharin and Radek constituted the leadership of the Comintern. On occasion Trotsky would be consulted, especially regarding decisions concerning France. All decisions were cleared by Lenin. These leaders truly believed that there efforts were for an international workers' revolution, of which Russia's was a part. In reality, the Comintern was run by Russians (Radek was considered Russian because he was member of the Bolshevik Party) which alienated other members, making them subordinate to the Russia workers' cause. During the Russian civil war, little attention was paid to the other member nations' revolutions. As a result, Russia was quickly cut off from the rest of Europe.
Being now isolated caused the Russian leaders to interpret world affairs in an unrealistic light. Trotsky felt certain that the Red Army would conquer Europe and lay siege on the U.S. Sinoviev believed that, by 1920, the whole of Europe would be a single soviet state. In truth, the International now had little if any influence in European affairs.
Lenin's concept of the Comintern was a body whose strength would lay in solidarity of purpose and action. New members of 1919, came into the Comintern with a range of ideals, purposes and motives. The only member which saw communism the same way Lenin did was the Bulgarian Testyaki, a close friend of the Bolsheviks. During the first year of the Comintern and immediately following the First Congress, groups of anarchists from Holland, France and Spain adhered to Lenin's ideals. A small labor groups, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), based in the U.S. was sympathetic to the Comintern and Russia's revolution. The IWW exercised considerable influenced over smaller groups in Britain. Marxist revolution is to be carried out through general strikes, avoiding bloodshed. This was not the course that the Bolsheviks took and, thus, made them appealing to these small groups of anarchists.
Pure anarchism is a philosophy which states that any and all forms of government are wrong; that each individual has the freedom and right to do whatever he/she wants. Regulations or governments which do not enable people to do what they want, when and were they want, is considered to be oppressive and dictatorial. The word anarchy comes from the Greek, arkhe^, which refers to the absence of authority. Over the centuries, it has become apparent that human society and some sort of structure go hand in hand. Thus, anarchy has come to refer to rebellion, disorganization and chaos.
Lenin considered himself and the Revolution to be anarchist. The battle was against the tyrannical status quo in favor of individual freedoms and rights, against revolutionary socialism. Socialism was defined by Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876) as, society in such a manner that every individual, man or woman, should find, upon entering life, approximately equal means for the development of his or her diverse faculties and their utilization in his or her work. And to organize such a society that, rendering impossible the exploitation of anyone's labor, will enable every individual to enjoy the social wealth, which in reality is produced only by collective labor, but to enjoy it only in so far as he contributes directly toward the creation of that wealth. .
Communists believe it necessary to organize the massive working class
and to take control of the State. Revolutionary Socialism concentrates on the
destruction of the State, thus freeing the working class. Communism relies on
authority and control while revolutionary Socialism believes only in individual
The Comintern had influence for roughly two years. Soon, true anarchists, once enthusiastic about the Comintern's ideals, broke away in disgust. The dictatorial nature of the Russian leaders and the ever present Red Army were to blame. Russia was a communist state whose leaders seemed to honestly believe that a powerful, central government which dictated the work and lives of the masses could produce the best and most equal quality of life for all.
The Communist International managed to last for 23 years with meetings held annually. In 1943, the Comintern was eliminated by Joseph Stalin who determined that it would never be possible to accomplish international Communist solidarity. After this, many world wide Communist activities were still coordinated secretly from inside the Kremlin. The fathers of Communism, Marx and Engels, and the father of Russian Communism, Lenin, would have considered the dissolution of the Comintern to go against the very grain of what true Communist philosophy was about.
The First Five Years of the Communist International