The Communist International and Imperialism

Letatlin
Presentation of Vladimir Tatlin’s Letatlin, 1932

The 1914–1918 war was an imperialist war. Britain’s aim was to prevent German colonial expansion in North Africa and Latin America, and to exclude Germany from other foreign markets. In addition Britain had made a secret deal with France and Russia to carve up the Ottoman Empire. British “victory” in World War I meant that the British Empire was larger in the 1920s than it had ever been before. And despite their rhetoric, the European empires had no intention of “liberating” the colonial peoples. After World War I there was national self-determination for European nations, but certainly not for the countries of Africa and Asia.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 offered an alternative, a source of hope to the exploited and oppressed throughout the world. The Russian leaders understood that it was necessary to spread the revolution. If it remained isolated it could not survive. After 1917 they suffered an appallingly cruel so-called “civil war” (in fact an invasion by troops from various countries including Britain and the United States). Revolutions in Hungary and Bavaria in 1919 were rapidly crushed. As yet nobody was talking about socialism in one country. So the new Soviet state needed allies, in its own interests and in the interest of the workers of the whole world. Either socialism would extend its victory, or exploitation and oppression would continue and new wars would break out.

It was with this perspective that the Communist International (Comintern) was founded in 1919, with the object of encouraging world revolution. The Second Congress of the International, held in Moscow in July and August 1920, had brought together a large number of socialists and syndicalists who were going to form the new Communist parties which could overthrow world capitalism once and for all. But the great majority of delegates came from Europe. It was also necessary to look for allies elsewhere, in what Grigory Zinoviev, the president of the Communist International, called “a second step forward.” 1  This was the Baku Congress of September 1920, with which the Bolsheviks made a symbolic declaration of their opposition to imperialism and attempted to lay the foundations for an organizational expression of this opposition.

It is worth recalling the Baku Congress because it demonstrated the Bolshevik commitment to fighting imperialism, establishing a tradition which remained powerful for some years, but which was later lost with the rise of Stalin. I shall try to set out briefly the strengths and weaknesses of Baku, and then give a short account of the subsequent developments of the Comintern.

The Bolsheviks’ vision was of a world where colonialism and racism would be abolished and forever forgotten. According to the Bolshevik Radek, it was necessary to “reconstruct  mankind on a new basis of freedom, where there will not be people of different-coloured skins with different rights and duties, where all men share the same rights and duties.” 2 Hence the Manifesto adopted by the Second Congress of the International had stressed the importance for Communists in imperialist countries of the struggle against their own imperialism:

The socialist who directly or indirectly helps to perpetuate the privileged position of one nation at the expense of another, who accommodates himself to colonial slavery, who makes distinctions between peoples of different race and colour in the matter of rights, who helps the bourgeoisie of the metropolis to maintain their rule over the colonies instead of aiding the armed uprising of the colonies; the British socialist who fails to support by all possible means the uprisings in Ireland, Egypt, and India against the London plutocracy – such a socialist deserves to be branded with infamy, if not with a bullet, but in no case merits either the mandate or the confidence of the proletariat. 3

It was in this context that the Executive Committee of the International had invited representatives of the oppressed peoples to gather at Baku. It was an appropriate place. Baku was in Azerbaijan, one of the countries of the former Tsarist Empire which had become independent in 1918, and which was “at the junction between Russia and the East.” 4 But also it was a center of oil production, and the Bolsheviks recognized the importance that oil would have in the 20th century. When the American John Reed addressed the delegates, he asked them: “Don’t you know how Baku is pronounced in American? It’s pronounced oil!” 5

The journey was a dangerous one. The British government made every effort to prevent the delegates from getting to Baku. A steamboat carrying Iranian delegates was attacked by a British aircraft; two delegates were killed and several wounded. British warships tried to prevent Turkish delegates from crossing the Black Sea. Two Iranians were killed on the Azerbaijan border by the Iranian police. 6 Delegates coming from Moscow had to pass through regions devastated by the civil war. The French delegate, Alfred Rosmer, recalled:

The trip … allowed us to see at first hand the vast extent of damage done by the civil war. Most of the stations had been destroyed, and everywhere the sidings were full of the half-burnt wrecks of coaches. When the Whites had been beaten, they destroyed everything they could as they retreated. One of the most important stations in the Ukraine, Lozovaia, had just recently been attacked by a band of Whites, and we had right before our eyes the damage caused by such attacks, which were still frequent in these regions. 7

Nonetheless delegates came in large numbers. It is difficult to establish precise figures, but according to the stenographic report of the Congress there were 1891 delegates, including 1273 Communists. Non-Communist delegates were warmly welcomed; as Zinoviev, president of the Communist International, put it:

We did not ask you: “What party do you belong to?” We asked each one: “Are you a man who lives by his labour? Do you belong to the working masses? Do you want to put a stop to the strife between the peoples? Do you want to organise a struggle against the oppressors? That is enough. Nothing more is required, you will not be asked for any Party card.” 8

Many of the delegates came from the countries of the former Tsarist empire and from the Middle East. There were 100 Georgians, 157 Armenians, 235 Turks, 192 Persians and 82 Chechens – but also  14 Indians and 8 Chinese. Translation took up a lot of time; Asian languages were heard which had been suppressed in the Tsarist period. Alfred Rosmer recalled that “the auditorium was extremely picturesque. All the Eastern costumes gathered together made an astonishingly rich and colourful picture.” 9

In his introductory address, Zinoviev explained clearly why the Russian revolutionaries recognized that their struggle was only a small part of a general struggle against world imperialism and that the Russian Revolution could not succeed unless it was part of a much broader movement:

We are mindful that in the world there are living not only people with white skins. … There are also in the world hundreds of millions of people who live in Asia and Africa. We want to put an end to the rule of capital everywhere in the world. And this will become possible only when we have lit the fire of revolution not merely in Europe and America but throughout the world, and when behind us march all the working people of Asia and Africa.

The Communist International wants to unite under its banners speakers of all the languages of the world. The Communist International is sure that under its flag will rally not only the proletarians of Europe but also the mighty mass of our reserves, our infantry – the hundreds of millions of peasants who live in Asia, our Near and Far East. 10 

Zinoviev also argued that the Russian Revolution would only be a small episode in a much bigger process, predicting “when the East really gets moving, then not only Russia but all of Europe will seem only a small corner of the vast scene.” 11 But for workers in the West it was not simply a moral question. Zinoviev reminded them that they had a very urgent material interest in supporting the struggles of the colonial peoples: “The Italian bourgeoisie is now threatening its workers that, if they should revolt, Italian capital will move coloured troops against them.” 12 Of course unity between European workers and the oppressed in the colonies would not be easy. Many workers had acquired imperialist attitudes, while the victims of colonialism might imagine that workers in the imperialist countries were getting at least crumbs from the table of their own imperialists.

But the British delegate, Tom Quelch, reminded his listeners that there was an objective basis for unity. He began his speech with a quotation from Karl Marx, who said that “the British working class would be free only when the peoples of the British colonies were free.” Therefore he insisted that “the enemy of the British working class, the British capitalist class, is at the same time the enemy of the peoples of the East, the oppressed East.” 13

In his closing speech Zinoviev went so far as to propose a revision to Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Marx had said “Workers of all lands, unite!” but now, according to Zinoviev, this should be replaced by: “Workers of all lands and oppressed peoples of the whole world, unite!14

The Congress aroused great enthusiasm. For Zinoviev, a fine speaker who sometimes lapsed into wish fulfillment, the task was “kindling a real holy war against the British and French capitalists.” 15

A more realistic and honest perspective was given by Karl Radek:

We approach these peoples not in order to use their strength for our struggle against capitalism, but in order to help them to escape not only from the yoke of capital but also from medieval relations, from the yoke of feudalism and ignorance, and to give them the opportunity to begin living as human beings. We approach them knowing that the young Communist world which is being born amid unheard-of suffering cannot yet bring them the wealth of the West, that this has still to be created, but we approach them so as to free them from the yoke of capital, to help them build a new, free life in whatever way they will consider corresponds to the interests of their working masses. 16

The Congress was only a beginning. It should be said that, strictly speaking, it was an assembly rather than a congress. There was very limited time, reduced even further by the need for translations. It is hard to know exactly how the delegates had been elected. The great majority of them did not have any chance to speak and it was scarcely possible to take genuinely democratic decisions. Nonetheless several questions of great importance were raised.

Alfred Rosmer, who had been one of the French delegates at the Congress of the Communist International, made a searing attack on the hypocrisy of French imperialism:

When the world war began, the bourgeois press of all countries asserted that this world war would bring freedom to the oppressed nations, in opposition to barbarous Germany. But if that was so … why did the great powers not begin by freeing the peoples they themselves oppressed? Why did Britain not give freedom to Ireland? Why did it keep the three hundred million people of India under its yoke? Why did France, which said it was fighting against German barbarism, oppress and hold down Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria and other Moslem countries? And why is France now carrying on a war in Cilicia and Syria in order to enlarge her empire by adding a piece of Asia?

When the war ended France and Britain tried to take back from these peoples even the miserable crumbs they had given them. When it was necessary to fight the Germans, when hundreds of thousands of Algerians, Tunisians, and Moroccans had to be mobilized, they were promised various freedoms; but the very day after Germany had been defeated all these miserable freedoms were withdrawn, and when the representatives of Tunisia sent a delegation to France and pointed out that 45,000 Tunisians had fallen on the battlefield, and recalled the promises that had been made to them, these delegates were themselves put in prison, and those native newspapers which took the liberty of publishing the fact were closed down and confiscated. 17

But if the Congress backed struggles against imperialism, the organizers insisted that there was no point replacing imperialists with indigenous exploiters. As Zinoviev put it:

What sense does it make to a Georgian peasant if [Georgia’s Menshevik rulers] sing like nightingales about the “independence” of Georgia, when the land remains as before the property of the old landowners, when the same old oppression continues, and when at any moment some British general can trample with his jackboots on the throat and on the chest of the Georgian peasant and worker? … The great importance of the revolution that is beginning in the East lies not in requesting the British imperialist gentlemen to take their feet off the table, and then permitting the Turkish rich to put their feet on the table. … No, we want … [the world to be] ruled by the working man with toil-hardened hands. 18

Naturally there were delegates of various different religions, but in particular there were many Muslims. For the Bolsheviks the aim was to draw out the radicalism which was integral to the Muslim tradition. According to the Russian delegate Skachko:

Even according to the shariat, the land can belong only to him who tills it, and not to the clergy who have grabbed it, like the mujtahids [Shi’ite divines] in Persia, who were the first to violate the fundamental law of the Moslem religion. They are not defenders of this religion but perverters of it. They are just such parasites and oppressors as the feudal landlords, except that they are also hypocrites who disguise their character as oppressors behind the white turban and the Holy Koran. This mask of sanctity must be torn from them, comrades, and the land they own must likewise be wrested from them and given to the working peasantry. 19

But practice did not always conform to theory. Critical voices were heard. One of the presidents of the Congress, Narbutabekov, used very vigorous language to protest against the actions of Bolshevik bureaucrats in  Turkestan:

I tell you, comrades, our Turkestani masses have to fight on two fronts. On the one against the reactionary mullahs in our own midst, and on the other against the narrow nationalist inclinations of the local Europeans. Neither Comrade Zinoviev, nor Comrade Lenin, nor Comrade Trotsky knows the real situation, knows what has been going on in Turkestan these last three years.  …  But now, as we travel about, Moslems come up to us and say that our beliefs are being trampled on, that we are not allowed to pray, not allowed to bury our dead in accordance with our customs and religion. What is this? It is nothing but a sowing of counter-revolution among the toiling masses. 20

It appeared that, despite the good intentions of the Bolsheviks, what Lenin called “Great-Russian chauvinism” was far from dead.

Of the 1891 delegates there were only 55 women. Nadzhiya, a Turkish woman, mocked Western feminists who were obsessed with the veil, and at the same time made a powerful challenge to Eastern men, proposing very concrete demands:

The women’s movement beginning in the East must not be looked at from the standpoint of those frivolous feminists who are content to see woman’s place in social life as that of a delicate plant or an elegant doll. This movement must be seen as a serious and necessary consequence of the revolutionary movement which is taking place throughout the world. The women of the East are not merely fighting for the right to walk in the street without wearing the chadra, as many people suppose. For the women of the East, with their high moral ideals,  the question of the chadra, it can be said, is of the least importance. If the women who form half of every community are opposed to the men and do not have the same rights as they have, then it is obviously impossible for society to progress: the backwardness of Eastern societies is irrefutable proof of this.

Comrades, you can be sure that all our efforts and labours to realize new forms of social life, however sincere and however vigorous our endeavours may be, will remain without result if you do not summon the women to become real helpers in your work. …

But we know too that the position of our sisters in Persia, Bukhara, Khiva, Turkestan, India and other Moslem countries is even worse. However, the injustice done to us and to our sisters has not remained unpunished. Proof of this is to be seen in the backwardness and decline of all the countries of the East. Comrades, you must know that the evil done to women has never passed and will never pass without retribution. …

The women Communists of the East have an even harder battle to wage because, in addition, they have to fight against the despotism of their menfolk. If you, men of the East, continue now, as in the past, to be indifferent to the fate of women, you can be sure that our countries will perish, and you and us together with them: the alternative is for us to begin, together with all the oppressed, a bloody life-and-death struggle to win our rights by force. I will briefly set forth the women’s demands. If you want to bring about your own emancipation, listen to our demands and render us real help and co-operation.

  1. Complete equality of rights.
  2. Ensuring for women unconditional opportunity to make use of the educational and vocational-training institutions established for men.
  3. Equality of rights of both parties to marriage. Unconditional abolition of polygamy.
  4. Unconditional admission of women to employment in legislative and administrative institutions.
  5. Everywhere, in cities, towns and villages, committees for the rights and protection of women to be established. 21

For other important questions there was no time. Three documents on Palestine and Zionism were presented to the Congress, but they were not discussed. 22 A statement from the Central Bureau of the Jewish sections of the Russian Communist Party described Zionists as serving British imperialism and condemned the artificial establishment of a privileged Jewish minority in the population of Palestine.

In the short-term, the results of the Congress were quite modest. A Council of Propaganda and Action was set up with 35 Communist and 13 non-party members. But already world capitalism was beginning to stabilize itself.  Alfred Rosmer comments: “In the following months there were no uprisings significant enough to worry or seriously involve the imperialist powers.” 23 The Council of Propaganda and Action was short-lived – it lasted only until the beginning of 1922. But it played a part in 1921 in the founding of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, with 700 students of 57 nationalities and branches at Baku and Irkutsk. 24

But, to quote Rosmer again, in the longer term the Congress had a real influence on political developments in Asia:

A deep disturbance had been caused, but the effects were visible only later on. Time was needed for the debates and resolutions to bear fruit, and the gathering together of sufficient forces who understood the struggle that would have to be carried on against masters who hitherto had been all-powerful. 25

Communist Parties were founded in Turkey (1920), Iran (1920), China (1921) and elsewhere.

If the ideas of Baku lived on, and still live on, many of the participants met a more tragic fate. Several, including Zinoviev, Radek, and Narbutabekov, perished during the Stalinist terror of the 1930s; Alfred Rosmer was expelled from the French Communist Party in 1924. Yet just after the Baku Congress there were grounds for hope. The Communist International was no longer confined to the countries of Europe; it was expected that a Communist movement would develop in Asia, and even in Africa and Latin America. World imperialism would face a real threat.

Certainly there were problems. In North Africa there were European Communists who considered that the native population was too “backward” to take part in the Communist movement. A report adopted by the Second Communist Interfederal Congress of North Africa in 1922 explained that “what characterises the native masses is their ignorance. This is above all the main obstacle to their emancipation.” 26 In South Africa there were Communists who argued that a liberation movement of the coloured races was not practical politics. 27 The International had to combat such elements within its own ranks.

But inside Russia, in the very heart of the revolutionary movement, there were also problems. The Bolsheviks had triumphed in the civil war and repulsed imperialist invasions. But the economy had suffered badly. The Kronstadt rising of March 1921 revealed the weakness of the new régime; the Bolsheviks had to retreat with the New Economic Policy.

The great problem was the isolation of the revolution. Even in Europe the first revolutionary wave had begun to subside. In Italy Mussolini was making progress. In France and Britain the class struggle was becoming less acute. The great hope that remained was Germany. A German revolution could strengthen isolated Russia and encourage new revolutionary movements elsewhere.

In 1923 Germany seemed ripe for revolution. An economic crisis had led to wild inflation. The Ruhr was occupied by the French army because a weakened Germany could not pay the reparations demanded by the Versailles Treaty.

This was the French Communists’ finest hour. The French Communist Party created a newspaper aimed at soldiers called La Caserne (the barracks), which encouraged insubordination and fraternization with German workers. The Communists distributed two million leaflets and posters. There were many African soldiers in the French army; the propaganda distributed to the Senegalese tried to link the struggle of the German workers and that of the Senegalese people for independence.

But there was no German revolution. The USSR remained isolated. In this context of defeat, Stalin proposed a new strategy, that of “socialism in one country.” According to Stalin “the victory of socialism in one country, even if that country is less developed in the capitalist sense, while capitalism remains in other countries, even if those countries are more highly developed in the capitalist sense – is quite possible and probable.” 28 Now the priority was industrialization. As Stalin put it in 1928: “The question of overtaking and outstripping the advanced capitalist countries technically and economically is for us Bolsheviks neither new nor unexpected.” 29

The USSR would have to face the military threat of the capitalist countries which surrounded it. And that would mean adopting capitalist methods inside the country. The last remnants of working-class power were destroyed.

The first test for the new strategy came in China. The young Chinese Communist Party seemed to have a promising future – there were great struggles developing in Shanghai and elsewhere. But the Russian leaders advised the Chinese communists to make an alliance with the nationalist movement known as the Guomindang, led by Chiang Kai-shek. The result was a disaster. On April 12, 1927, Communist Party organizations in Shanghai  were violently suppressed by the military forces of Chiang Kai-shek and the Guomindang. Subsequently there was a purge of Communists across the country.

At the same time Communist parties were being transformed within the imperialist countries themselves. A great many of the militants who had founded these parties were expelled or left, and they were often replaced by a new layer of bureaucrats who were more flexible and obedient. By the beginning of the 1930s the Comintern had radically changed. According to historian Pierre Broué:

The Comintern … seemed very much weakened, the main cause being its close reliance on the leadership of the Russian Communist Party. This situation made it possible for the Russian leaders to use its parties for their own ends, as pawns in their own diplomatic manoeuvres. 30

In 1928 the Sixth Congress of the Comintern adopted the new line of the so-called “Third Period.” According to this perspective fascism and social democracy had become twins, and social democrats were condemned as “social fascists.” In Germany this strategy had fatal results; the Communists refused to build a united front and Hitler came to power. This was one of the greatest crimes of Stalinism.

For European workers, who had political freedoms and trade-union rights, the difference between fascism and democracy, even in its capitalist version, was clear. In Trotsky’s words “in the war against fascism we were ready to conclude practical military alliances with the devil and his grandmother, even with Noske and Zörgiebel.” 31

But in the colonial countries the situation was somewhat different. In Africa and Asia the Third Period seemed to correspond to a certain reality. During a revolt in Nigeria fifty unarmed women were massacred by the troops of a British Labour government. The Communist paper The Negro Worker blamed “His Majesty’s Social-Fascist government.” According to Hakim Adi, “the designation … did not appear entirely misplaced.” 32 The “Sedition Bill” in the British colony of the Gold Coast imposed a penalty of three years imprisonment on any African who was in possession of literature banned by the colonial governor.

In 1928 the Red International of Labour Unions set up the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers. Among its activities were a drive to unionize black workers and a campaign to defend the Scottsboro Boys, young black men in the United States who had been falsely accused of rape and threatened with the death penalty. Papers The Negro Worker and Le Cri des Nègres were launched and distributed in Africa, often with great difficulty. Although Comintern finance of these activities was very limited, it can be said that the Committee made a useful contribution by disseminating anti-imperialist and anti-racist ideas. 33

When Hitler came to power the Stalinist leadership recognized its mistakes. Between 1934 and 1936 the Comintern made a remarkable turn. Now the priority was no longer the struggle against imperialism, but rather the struggle against fascism. The consequences were visible in the policies of the French Communist Party. According to Jacob Moneta:

The French Communist Party’s turn on the colonial question was so fundamental that not only did it approve repressive measures against nationalist movements in the colonies, but it openly demanded the smashing of an organisation like the Étoile Nord-Africaine (North African Star) which it considered a nuisance. 34

In 1926 it had been members of the French Communist Party, Hadj-Ali Abdelkader and Messali Hadj, who had founded the Étoile Nord-Africaine, the first organisation to call for complete independence for Algeria and the countries of the Maghreb. 35 But now the French Communists were abandoning their support for Algerian independence.

In 1937 Communist Party leader Maurice Thorez explained to the party’s Ninth Congress:

If the decisive question of the present time is a successful struggle against fascism, then it is in the interest of the colonial peoples to maintain their union with the French people, and not to adopt an attitude which could favour the objectives of fascism and, for example, place Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco under the rule of Mussolini or Hitler, or make Indochina into a base for the operations of Japanese militarism. 36

And in a speech in Algiers in 1939 Thorez used a very questionable analogy:

We want a free union between the peoples of France and Algeria. A free union means the right to divorce, but not an obligation to divorce. I should even add that in the present historical conditions for Algeria this right involves a duty to become even more closely united with French democracy. 37

In January 1937 the French Popular Front government, backed by the Communists, took the decision to dissolve the Étoile Nord-Africaine. A few days later L’Humanité published a long article criticizing the “hostility of the leaders of the Étoile Nord-Africaine  to our party and to the Popular Front,” but not condemning the dissolution. 38

After the brief interval of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, the logic of the Popular Front continued. The priority was the defence of the USSR and hence the struggle against fascism. While unity against fascism in Europe made strategic sense, it should not be forgotten that the imperialist states comprising this alliance themselves committed atrocities in the colonized world. During the Second World War, for example, three million died of famine in Bengal as a direct result of the policies of the British government. One could easily understand a Bengali who didn’t make a distinction between British leader Winston Churchill and Hitler.

On June 9, 1943 the dissolution of the Comintern was announced. It was a concession by Stalin to the Western leaders who were his war allies. Yet, as Broué writes, in reality for some years the Comintern “had only been a caricature of what it used to be.” 39 For example, the resolution proposing the dissolution of  the Comintern made no mention of the national liberation struggle of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples. 40

With that, the Comintern formally came to an end. Though highly contradictory, the Communist International played an important role in the history of global revolutions in the 20th century, leaving behind a legacy that is still with us to this day.

This article is an edited version of two pieces that originally appeared in French at Contretemps.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Baku: Congress of the Peoples of the East (stenographic report) (London: New Park Publications, 1977), 11.
2. Ibid., 51.
3. Jane Degras, ed., The Communist International 1919-1943: Documents, Vol. I (London: F. Cass, 1956), 179-80.
4. Pierre Broué, Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste (Paris, Fayard: 1997), 181.
5. Alfred Rosmer, Lenin’s Moscow (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2016), 93.
6. John Riddell, ed., To See the Dawn (New York: Pathfinder, 1993), 21.
7. Rosmer, Lenin’s Moscow, 92. Alfred Rosmer (1877–1964) was a remarkable man. He was a revolutionary syndicalist who opposed the First World War from the first day. 46 years later he signed the Manifesto of 121, which supported those who refused to take arms against the Algerian people. His book Lenin’s Moscow gives a vivid portrayal of the first years of the Communist International.
8. Baku: Congress of the Peoples of the East,  24-25.
9. Rosmer, Lenin’s Moscow, 93.
10. Baku: Congress of the Peoples of the East, 11.
11. Ibid., 34.
12. Ibid., 28. In Italy this was a time of great strikes and factory occupations.
13. Ibid., 70.
14. Ibid., 161.
15. Ibid., 35.
16. Ibid., 14.
17. Baku: Congress of the Peoples of the East, 73, 194.
18. Ibid., 26, 33.
19. Ibid., 134.
20. Ibid., 62-64.
21. Ibid., 148-50.
22. These documents are reproduced in Riddell, ed., To See the Dawn, 282-91.
23. Rosmer, Lenin’s Moscow, 94.
24. Broué, Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste, 182.
25. Rosmer, Lenin’s Moscow, 94.
26. Bulletin communiste, December 7, 1922. English translation in Revolutionary History 10, no. 4 (2012).
27. Quoted by Hakim Adi, Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa, and the Diaspora, 1919-1939 (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2013), 49. Adi’s book, even though it is sometimes a little too sympathetic towards the Stalinist leadership of the Comintern, contains a great deal of very valuable information about the struggles of black workers in Europe and Africa during the 1930s.
28. Josef Stalin, The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists, 1924.
29. Josef Stalin, Industrialisation of the Country and the Right Deviation in the C.P.S.U.(B.), 1928.
30. Broué, Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste, 550.
31. Leon Trotsky, “What Next?” 1932.
32. Adi, Pan-Africanism and Communism, 89.
33. For details of this work see Adi, Pan-Africanism and Communism.
34. Jacob Moneta, Le PCF et la question coloniale (Paris: Maspero, 1971), 111. Moneta’s book provides a very useful collection of documents on the history of the French Communist Party between 1920 and 1965. Moneta, who died in 2012 at the age of 97, was a remarkable individual who, among other things, had given practical support to the Algerian National Liberation Front.
35. Ian Birchall, “Hadj-Ali Abdelkader: A Muslim Communist in the 1920s,” International Socialist Review 105, Summer 2017.
36. Ibid., 132.
37. Ibid., 136.
38. Ibid., 113-16.
39. Broué, Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste, 790.
40. Degras, the Communist International 1919-1943, 477-79.

Author of the article

is a socialist writer and translator. He is the author of France: the Struggle Goes On (with Tony Cliff, 1968); Workers Against the Monolith (1974); Bailing Out the System (19860; The Spectre of Babeuf (1997); Sartre Against Stalinism (2004); A Rebel’s Guide to Lenin (2005); Tony Cliff: A Marxist For His Time (2011). He has also translated works by Alfred Rosmer and Victor Serge.