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Duncan Hallas on the Third International


After re-reading Duncan Hallas’ “Comintern”, I have noted the following positive contributions he makes to the theory of a communist revolution and organization:

  1. Against “entryism”, if the latter means losing party independence. The most that is possible is to enter a party, such as Labor Party was, in early 1920’s, as a whole party, as the British Communist Party attempted, criticizing the larger party, its central leadership. Trotsky’s sanction of entryism as a tactic means losing party’s independence, its organization, its material assets. In fact, it means party liquidation.
  2. A revolutionary party should oppose a right-wing coup, even if that means supporting a liberal bourgeoisie, or a centrist bureaucracy. For example, in the case of Euromaidan in Ukraine in 2014, a revolutionary organization should have opposed the right-wing forces which organized the Maidan, i.e. in effect indirectly supporting the Yanukovich government by fighting side by side with its forces. Today, this means supporting the armed forces behind the Donetsk and the Lugansk People’s Republics, and hence supporting Russia against NATO in Ukraine.
  3. It is necessary to combine legal and illegal forms of struggle. For example, the U.S. Communist Party was formed first as an illegal organization, but J.P. Cannon took it in the direction of total legality and economic struggle. He bent the stick too much in the other direction, and the result was the non-revolutionary, centrist Socialist Workers' Party, USA.
  4. In regard to anti-colonial movements, communists should support those that are revolutionary, e.g. the movement of the India’s people against British domination. Today, in the struggle between the Islamist State and the Kurdish militia, we should support the Kurds, for they represent the communist current. Communists should never merge their party with the popular party leading the anti-colonial movement, e.g. merging the Chinese Communist Party with the Kuomintang.
  5. Communist are opposed to bourgeois feminism. They are for economic liberation of women, i.e. providing social child-care, social medicine and education, social food preparation and eating, social laundry services, etc.
  6. Communist parties should expel reformist and centrist factions from their organization.
  7. No revolution is possible without the movement of the masses. This is against theory of revolution as a conspiracy, or the theory of a "foci" (Che Geuvara's term). In revolution, conspiracy of the revolutionary organization and open insurrection led by popular organization of the masses supplement each other. That's one of the lessons of the Russian revolution, 1917.
  8. In times of retreat, communists adopt the tactic of “United Front”, i.e. acting together with workers from other workers’ organizations. Communists should never go for a “Popular front” tactic, for that means class collaboration, instead of class struggle. Class colaboration means, as a rule, the revolutionary class losing its perspective. 
  9. Revolutionary situation can last for a limited number of months. A revolutionary party should be able to make use of this window of opportunity. A revolutionary situation is characterized by massive non-cooperation of the masses with the authorities, e.g. a general strike, or a political strike, as was the Euromaidan in Ukraine, 2014.
  10. A failure to fight a desperate fight is worse than defeat in a desperate struggle. An example of a failure to fight is Hitler’s coming to power and suppression, without a fight, first of the Communist Party of Germany, and later of Social-Democratic party. An example of a desperate fight is the one put up first by England, and later by the USSR, against Nazi Germany.
  11. Fate of an international revolutionary organization is dependent upon the fate of an international revolution. For example, the Thermidor of the Russian revolution has led to disintegration of the Communist International. On the other hand, the Comintern appeared on the high tide of the Russian and international revolutions, which followed in the wake of World War I. Hence, if a new world war breaks out in the future, communists should expect an international revolutionary wave and prepare for it.
  12. One positive moment of the Restoration now in swing in former “socialist” countries is the destruction of Stalinism, as a way of life, and of “Communist” parties. 

However, we should also note that Duncan Hallas is a “state capitalist”, and this point of view is harmful to communist theory and practice. For example, let me bring a quote from "Left Russia", an article "A Meeting", signed by A. Baumgarten:

"On 11 December 1999, at the peak of the military operation in Chechnya, members of the British parliament from the ruling party, ("left Labor" MP's Jeremy) Corbyn and (Tony) Benn introduced the following resolution (back translation to English from Russian):

The Parliament condemns the military actions of Russia in Chechnya and calls for a troop pull-out and political solution, which recognizes the right of Chechnya for self-determination. The Parliament is worried by the fact that the actions of Russia are motivated partially by the desire to control the oil and gas lines which pass through the territory of Chechnya. The Parliament is also worried by the fact that the criticism of Russia does not pay sufficient attention to the support of pacifist and anti-military groups in Russia

The resolution of the left wing of Labor party has become a signal for energetic attempts of the Trotskyist groups of Britain to create in Russia a left movement in support of Chechen separatism... Still more significant is the fact of 'special relations' between British Trotskyism with the ruling class of their country. These relations were cultivated in the course of decades in the form of 'entryism' vis-a-vis the Labor party and theoretical adaptation to the needs of the Cold war in the form of the 'state capitalism' theory, which obtained the greatest circulation in the NATO member countries, and first of all in Britain. In the first works of the founding father of this branch of Trotskyism, Tony Cliff, at the time coinciding with the start of the Cold war, we see not only a definition of the USSR as 'empire' founded upon the basis of state capitalism, but an open sympathy to the 'national liberation' movement of Bandera (a Ukrainian fascist) and 'forest brothers' in the Baltic. In the context of the Cold war, the theory of Cliff was a valuable find for imperialism. On the one hand, it preserved the appearance of revolutionary spirit, i.e. opposed the bourgeois ideology. On the other, it provided to the trade union bureaucracy a theoretical bases for convincing the workers of the NATO countries that their enemy is not a workers' and peasants' state, but a reactionary empire of state capitalists; it not only exploits its workers to a greater extent, but also denies them the rights and freedoms, including the freedom of trade union assembly, which they enjoy in the countries of "common" capitalism. If we keep in mind that the Socialist Workers' Party, whose eternal leader was Tony Cliff until his death last year, was and still is the largest Trotskyist group in Britain, which has influenced the left liberal circles of the country, we can understand why it was the British Trotskyists who were at the head of the campaign to organize 'anti-military' left in Russia".

In other words, by adopting an incorrect “state capitalist” theory of Russia, and other similar states, Duncan Hallas and Co. convince the exploited of their own country that Russia is a worse evil than their own masters, and hence, they should first of all fight Russia, instead of their internal capitalism. For this purpose, they organize various pacifist movements in Russia, internal oppositions, help "liberal" politicians, etc. In other words, these are enemies of socialism.  


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