The meeting of the 6th Executive Committee in l926 was the last occasion in which the voice of the Italian Left was heard within the International. Within a year, the Italian left, along with all other opposition currents, had been expelled from the International. From that moment on, membership of the Comintern was conditional on accepting the «theory of socialism in one country», adding up to a clear departure from the very programmatic principles on which the International had been constituted, even though, as Trotsky pointed out, the «official adoption of socialism in one country signified the theoretical sanction to changes that had already taken place».
It was during this world congress that the Italian Left said that it was necessary for the parties belonging to the International to rush to the aid of the Russian Party and repay it for all the theoretical and political contributions it had made to the other parties. In order to make their contribution, the Italian left asserted that the Russian Question had to be placed on the International’s agenda of discussions.
But the truth was it was absolutely impossible for the International sections to make this essential contribution. In 1926, thanks partly to the «Bolshevisation» which Zinoviev brought about at the 5th Congress in 1924, the leading cadres of all the parties had been radically altered. The Comintern’s enslavement to the Russian State was now a fait accompli. The communist parties of the various nations, instead of moving towards the one genuine objective of the revolutionary struggle against their own capitalisms, were manoeuvred, as pawns in Russia’s diplomatic game with the other powers, into making the most bankrupt compromises whenever required with the forces of social-democratic opportunism and the bourgeoisie.
A clear example of this type of politics is the «Anglo-Russian Committee».
The 5th Comintern Congress, and 3rd Profintern Congress, had proposed that the Red International of Labour Unions (RILU) be merged with the International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) by way of a unity Congress. As we will see, the Italian Left was definitely opposed to this proposal. It was one thing to struggle for trade-union unity on a national scale, but quite another to propose fusions with the IFTU, which wasn’t a proletarian organisation, but a bourgeois organisation linked to the International Labour Office and the League of Nations; in short, the IFTU was an organisation which the proletariat would never be able to win over to its cause.
A further step was taken at the 6th Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) with the ratification of the resolution elaborated by the organisational conference «on the organisation and structure of the communist fractions in the trade unions». This resolution asserted that the communist fractions should be formed in all unions «within the bounds of the statutes and decisions of the respective unions». It was also asserted that «if unions of different tendencies (Red, Amsterdam’s, syndicalists) existed in the same sector, it was necessary to form a fraction in each organisation according to its particular structure and» – it continues – «it is necessary to organise fractions even in Christian, Liberal, Fascist and syndicalist unions». It was also laid down that the fraction was obliged to carry out its activity strictly on a trade-unionist level with «the task of entering into contact with the supporters of the trade-union opposition who aren’t in the communist party». The line to follow, the political directives, would be decided by the leading organs of the Party and them alone: the fractions could «take up positions only regarding problems in their own particular sphere of activity».
What this all meant was simply the death of communist activity in the trade-unions. It not only prevented comrades working in the trade-union organisations from engaging in any kind of political activity inside class organisations, but it ordered them to carry out a type of trade-union activity which both remained within the bounds of the statutes, and was compatible with the decisions of the respective unions. When we consider that communists were also supposed to join Liberal, Christian and Fascist unions, such directives can only be considered as a total disarmament of the working class.
The IFTU Council turned down Moscow’s proposal after defining it as an «impractical and damaging fantasy». But whilst this prevented the merger on a general level, nevertheless, after a year or so of contacts with Purcell, president of the TUC, representatives of the Russian and British unions met together in London in April 1925. At this meeting a joint committee was formed. The achievement of this «Anglo-Russian Committee» was presented by Zinoviev at the 14th CPSU Congress as evidence of the correctness of the united front tactic. For the 6th ECCI: «it (the Anglo-Russian Committee – ad.) represented the practical possibility of creating an internationally unified and common struggle by workers of different political tendencies against fascism and the capitalist offensive». At the joint session of the CPSU Central Committee and the Comintern CC in July 1926, Stalin declared: «if the reactionary trade unions in England are ready to conclude a bloc with the revolutionary trade unions of our country against the counterrevolutionary imperialists of their own country, then why should we not hail such a bloc?». It was simple enough for Trotsky to reply: «If the 'reactionary trade unions’ were capable of conducting a struggle against their own imperialists they would not be reactionary».
The grave economic crisis which hit England in 1925/1926 led the mine-owners to denounce the 1924 agreement and urge the abolition of the 1919 seven hours law. Wage reductions plus extension of the working day was what they wanted, and it was in pursuit of these demands, in the face of proletarian resistance, that the lock-out of miners began on April 30th. The General Council of the TUC was pressurised by the English proletariat into calling a General Strike. Immediately the strike assumed huge dimensions and no less than 4 million workers took part in the struggle. Nevertheless, the unions still managed to prevent the metal-workers and dockers from taking part under the pretext that they should serve as a «second line» to be held «in reserve». The union bosses would soon show they were treacherously disposed, especially since there had been aspects of political organisation and self-defence in the strike which in some respects resembled soviets.
Thus, when, after nine days of struggle, the miners turned down a compromise solution biased towards the Government and business interests, the unions called off the strike and left the miners to fight on alone for a further 6 months.
The British Communist Party remained a passive spectator throughout these events from the minute that Moscow laid down that the leadership of the workers’ movement should remain in the hands of the official leaders. Furthermore, in its attempts to win appointments inside the union, the CPGB thought it appropriate to concede to its militants «a certain freedom of action» not restricting them to presenting the pure and simple communist programme. As for the International, it is sufficient to recall that when the strike started on the 3rd of May, both the ECCI and the Profintern sent a series of proposals for common action to the Amsterdam International.
Even after the open sabotage of the strike by the English unions, the International still wished to preserve the Anglo-Russian Committee at all costs. Following on from the July conference in Paris, and the August conference in Berlin, there was another Berlin conference in April 1927 at which the Russian delegates, who had accorded the General Council recognition as «the sole representative and spokesman of the English trade-union movement», pledged themselves «not to undermine the authority» of the trade union leaders and «not to get involved in the internal affairs of the English trade unions».
Trotsky had no hesitation in laying the blame for the defeat in England at the door of the Comintern, or stigmatising the CPGB for being so timid «in its opposition» to the betrayal of the trade-union leaders. He held the very existence of the Anglo-Russian Committee to represent a precious patent of credibility for the reformist leadership who had been responsible for the tragic failure of the strike. Trotsky therefore demanded that the committee be dissolved immediately, but the International, on the contrary, wished to derive an altogether different lesson, and asserted in a document of May 9th that the English struggle «had proved that the Comintern and RILU had embarked upon the correct path, namely the unity of the international trade-union movement and also the creation of a united trade-union international (…). Consequently – it added – the Soviet Union trade-unions leaving the Anglo-Russian Committee would be untimely (…) for whilst the gesture might be ‹heroic›, it would be childish and make no political sense». The document felt it necessary also to rebut «the accusation made against the Soviet Union trade-unions of having already initiated such a step on the basis of national and statal considerations».
However Stalin didn’t conceal from the Russian Communist Party Central Committee that the task of the Anglo-Russian Committee was to organise «a broad movement of the working class against new imperialist wars and generally against an intervention in our country (especially) on the part of the mightiest of the imperialist powers of Europe, on the part of England in particular». And Bukharin, in the ECCI in May 1927 justified the tactics followed by the Anglo-Russian Committee as «in the diplomatic interests of the USSR». In the July 5 issue of the Communist Party of Italy’s review Stato Operaio, the Italian centrists wrote: «The Berlin meeting of the Anglo-Russian Committee must be considered and weighed up attentively in an unhurried and unprejudiced way. When the ARC met in Berlin, it was at an internationally very difficult moment. The Conservative Government of England was preparing to break off relations with Russia. The campaign to isolate Russia from the rest of the civilised world was in full swing. Was the Russian trade-union delegation well or badly advised to make some concession with the aim of not arriving, at that moment, at a complete rupture with the English trade-unions?».
The PCI document posed in interrogative form the validity of the tactic followed by the Russian trade-unions but, as we saw earlier, both Bukharin and Stalin were a lot more explicit when they declared that the necessity of not breaking with the Anglo-Russian Committee depended on the diplomatic interests of the Russian State. This latter tendency had developed within the general framework of policies which, after first linking the fate of the Russian State to the fate of the world proletariat, had moved on to a second stage of making communist party policies depend on the necessity of that State. At the same time, in the official documents addressed to the proletariat, it was denied that the policies of the International were subordinated to «national and statal considerations».
On May 12, the same day on which the English General Strike was ended Marshal Piłsudski marched on Warsaw and, after three days of conflict, installed a dictatorial government.
The policy of alliance with non-proletarian and petty-bourgeois classes, already adopted by the International, was translated in Poland into an alliance with a petty-bourgeois movement which had assumed the label «socialist and peasant». This was the movement led by Piłsudski, who was very quick to set up a military Dictatorship supported by the banks and by imperialism. The Polish Communist Party described Piłsudski’s movement as «a struggle of officials, democratic soldiers, and even democratic strata of workers and peasants» in revolt against the regime of «capitalists, kulaks and fascists». The PCP therefore launched an appeal to the workers and peasants to form a united front with the insurgents, and, in conjunction with the socialist party, it declared a general strike.
Piłsudski immediately repaid the favours he had received by breaking up the workers’ demonstrations and then making mass arrests. Only now did doubts arise in the Polish PC that perhaps it had adopted the wrong tactics. All responsibility for the «May Error» (the appellation awarded to this mistaken tactic) was characteristically blamed on the local leaders, who were accused of not having comprehended that «the stage of bourgeois revolution in Poland had already been surpassed» and that there remained but one alternative: either a fascist dictatorship of big capital or the dictatorship of the proletariat. However, the International was careful not to examine the issues in depth when making its criticisms, since this would have meant a re-examination of their tactics as a whole.
Once again it was left to Trotsky to pinpoint that the «May Error» had mainly occurred because of the Comintern’s directives regarding alliances with socially hybrid and politically unstable forces like the middle peasantry and the urban petty-bourgeoisie. Trotsky would limit his criticism to condemning the unrestrained use of united fronts, without however realising that the united front was in itself a tactic harmful to the revolutionary movement.
It was nevertheless true that the International had played an important role in shaping the Polish Communist Party’s attitude, both by approving of the united front with peasants and the petty bourgeoisie, end by backing an ambiguous nationalist campaign for «the Independence of Poland». And it is equally true that the C.I.'s Executive had rubber-stamped the PCP’s dealings with Piłsudski.
What happened in Poland was another startling example of the level of political incapacity of the communist parties following the national intoxication of the CPSU which had come about after the inversion of the famous pyramid.
But the latter, however disastrous, appears almost negligible when compared with the catastrophe in China.
Regarding China, it is as well to begin with an overview, albeit sketchy, of the social and economic relations in the 20's. Trotsky in his book «The Communist International after Lenin» wrote: «Landed property, great and small, is intertwined there in the most intimate way with the capitalism of the cities which includes foreign capitalism (…). The fact that the country has been subjected to an extremely rapid interior development of industry based on the role of commercial and banking capitalism; the complete dependence of the most important farming areas on the market; the enormous role and continued growth of foreign commerce; the total subordination of the Chinese countryside to the city: all this confirms the unconditional predomination, the direct domination of capitalist relations in China».
Despite this being the Chinese reality, the tactic adopted by the International was to tie all Communist Party activity, along with the vigorous Chinese workers’ movement, to the interests of a bourgeoisie which was not only non-revolutionary but out to spill proletarian blood.
Regarding a correct tactic to adopt in China, our current had to distance itself also from Trotsky in order to defend the principle of non-adhesion to the KMT (Kuomintang) and, whereas it fought the Comintern tactic of the «revolutionary offensive» it kept to its previous position of rejection of democratic slogans whilst adhering firmly to the thesis that the dictatorship of the proletariat was the only solution to the question of power in China.
In 1924, during the big strikes in Hong-Kong and Canton, there arose what we might describe as the first Chinese soviets: the committee of strike delegates had around 2000 armed pickets at its disposal, a police force, and its own tribunal; it organised committees to take charge of supplies, transport, education etc.
In 1925, the CCP leaders proposed that the party leave the KMT (which was doing everything it could to sabotage the class struggle) and take charge of the leadership of the workers’ struggles itself. The ECCI was clearly opposed to this proposal. Bukharin said that «the KMT is a special type of organisation, something halfway between a political party and an organisation like the soviets, into which various class groupings enter (…). The KMT includes the liberal bourgeoisie and the working class, from the organisational standpoint, the KMT isn’t a party in the traditional sense of the word. Its structure allows it to be conquered from below and effectuate a class regroupment (…). We must exploit this peculiarity during the Chinese revolution (…). We must transform the KMT more and more into a mass elective organisation (…) to shift the centre of gravity towards the left, to modify the social composition of the organisation».
And it was to bring about this shift towards the left that in l926 the international came up with nothing better than accepting the KMT into its ranks as a «sympathiser party» with Chiang Kai-Shek assuming associate membership status in the ECCI.
Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-Shek carried out a kind of Coup d’etat: he expelled the communists from the leadership of the KMT, arrested communist trade-unionists, and set out as the condition for their remaining in the organisation that they cease all criticism of «Sunism», the Chinese version of nationalism evolved by Sun Yat-Sen. The Russian CP and the International got the CCP to accept all these conditions. When Chiang Kai-Shek undertook his march against the «warlords», he prohibited in the name of patriotism all strikes and proletarian agitations in the zone under his control. The workers’ and peasants’ revolts were suppressed by the military. The CCP once again asked for permission to leave the KMT, but Stalin declared that Chiang Kai-Shek’s advance «signified freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of coalition for all revolutionary elements and above all the workers».
In March 1927, a general strike broke out in Shanghai which quickly transformed itself into an insurrection. Chiang Kai-Shek’s army waited at the city gates and hunted down to the last man any Northern soldiers fleeing the workers revolt. At this point, with the Communist Party as accomplice, it makes its triumphant entrance. «Pravda» on March 27 stated: «The victorious workers have delivered the keys of Shanghai to the Cantonese army: this gesture of the Chinese proletariat is a heroic act». Cachin saluted Chiang as «the hero of the Shanghai commune».
The «hero of the commune» immediately proceeded to call for the workers to be disarmed; Moscow advised that in order to not be disarmed, the arms be hidden. So as not to upset the generalissimo, the CCP forgot its earlier disagreements with his politics and refused the offer from the First Division of the Canton army to support the workers’ unions.
On April 12, the «hero of the commune» dissolved all the trade union end communist organisations in Shanghai and Nanking, wreck their HQs, arrested their members, and ordered the army to attack the workers’ pickets. Thousands of workers, accused of being «reactionaries» end in cahoots with the «Northern militarists» were massacred. Meanwhile, «the Communist International» (April 15), pointing to the danger of a rift between the CCP and the KMT, asserted that this could only be avoided «by the CP infusing the revolutionary blood of the workers and peasants into the veins» of the KMT. It could hardly have been put better!
The Comintern delegation in China candidly declared: «We have locked with great anxiety at all these violent action by Chiang Kai-Shek and his agents, but we hoped that he would stop short of transforming himself into an open traitor of the national movement (…). It is possible momentarily to pass over all crimes by those who have fought against imperialism. But (…) the crimes of Chiang Kai-Shek haven’t stopped at the massacre of the Kiangsi and Shanghai workers. They have culminated in an open revolt against the people’s party and the people’s government». That is, against the Kuomintang (Kuomintang means in fact: People’s party).
As for Moscow, it remained unshaken by these events: according to Stalin, the Chinese events «have proved fully and completely the correctness of the line we have adopted» and Bukharin ascertained that the «Bourgeoisie has gone over to the camp of counter-revolution». As far as Bukharin was concerned, the Shanghai massacre represented «the insurrection of the big bourgeoisie against the KMT and the KMT’s left-bloc».
Chinese communists no longer had to support Chiang Kai-Shek, even though he was still an «associate member» of the International’s Executive. Instead they had to side with Wang Jingwei, also an associate member of the ECCI and exterminator of peasants, who had meanwhile given life to the Left KMT, and was maintaining his own government in Wuhan. The Left KMT just repeated the same script: communists should simply tail behind the interests of the northern bourgeoisie. Stalin asserted: «To issue the watchword of the soviets would signify fighting against Wuhan. But given that a revolutionary organisation exists specifically adapted to Chinese conditions, which has proved its value for the further development of the democratic-bourgeois revolution in China (…) it would he stupid to destroy it».
For Stalin no comparison could be made between pre-revolutionary China and Russia for at least two reasons: the first one was that Russia had been «on the eve of a proletarian revolution whilst China was facing a democratic-bourgeois revolution». The second reason was that whilst «the provisional Russian government was counter-revolutionary, the peasant government of Wuhan is a revolutionary government in the democratic-bourgeois sense of the word». This was apparently all that was required to prove the correctness of the tactic imposed on the CCP. In the weeks that followed, Wang Jingwei, touched by the esteem in which he was held by Moscow, went on to inflict a bloody repression on the peasant movement.
Towards the end of June 1927, Wang Jingwei reached a rapprochement with Chiang Kai-Shek with the aim of landing a decisive blow on the communists. Half way through July, this extended to a general repression.
After the revolution in China had been drowned in proletarian blood, the International again wiped its hands of any responsibility just as it had done after the German events of 1928 and the «May error» in Poland. All blame was heaped on the Chinese Communist Party, which would be accused of having misinterpreted Moscow’s directives and carrying them out wrongly. The CCP leadership was changed amidst mass expulsions. Meanwhile it was stated that the revolution hadn’t been defeated, but had moved on to a higher stage and that it was precisely during this new stage that the watchword of the constitution of workers and peasants soviets should be launched. Although the mass movement was in decline and demoralised, insurrectionary movements were encouraged which had no prospect of success. The Canton insurrection, which came to a rapid and unsuccessful conclusion with a bloody massacre, was the culminating episode of this period.
The encroaching counter-revolution in Russia, determined to destroy what little remained of the genuine and revolutionary tradition within the parties and the International, meanwhile launched its attacks utilising the entire repressive apparatus of the state power.
If from a formal point of view the Italian Left’s proposal that the Russian question be debated at an international level had a favourable outcome at the 7th Enlarged Executive, in actual fact things turned out very differently, and the parties of the International just sheepishly ratified the theoretical. political and disciplinary resolutions passed by the majority of the CPSU; even though these resolutions clearly reneged on the fundamental principles which had given birth to the communist parties and the International, and resulted in major changes which would inevitably lead to the ruthless repression used against the makers of the Red October and to the overturning of the role of the land of the Soviets, destined eventually to become an essential instrument of the world counter-revolution and of the preparations for the 2nd Imperialist conflict.
The speed with which the counter-revolution was gaining a hold may be deduced from the reasoning given by the CPSU for its approval of the resolution which removed Zinoviev from the presidency of the International. A few months before Stalin had said that one reason for not debating the Russian question within the International was precisely to safeguard Zinoviev’s position within the International: «If we reopen the Russian debate in the Plenum, in the Enlarged executive – Stalin had declared to the Left’s representative – it would mean reopening it in the Russian party. And not only that it would mean putting the opposition into a minority within the International, that is, removing comrade Zinoviev from the leadership of the International. Now there is nobody who would want that».
The following October the 23rd the CPSU passed the following resolution: «Since Zinoviev doesn’t represent the line of the CPSU in the International (…) the CC and the CCC (Central Committee and the Central Control Commission) don’t believe it possible for him to continue his work in the International itself». The International had therefore become for the CPSU the longa manus of its politics. Two days later, the ECCI hurriedly ratified this decision; the latter occurring after Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and the other leaders of the opposition had presented on October 16 a declaration to the Politburo in which, without renouncing their opinions, they had undertaken to desist from any fractionist activity and drew a distinction between their own positions and those of the extreme Left. The declaration concluded: «Each of us has undertaken to defend our own conceptions solely within the forms fixed by the statutes and decisions of the congress and CC of our party».
In fact it was no longer a question of establishing the parameters within which it was possible to expound ones own ideas, for Marxism had by now lost its rights of citizenship; consequently not even the right to impose self-discipline was conceded to the opposition.
At the 15th conference (26 October/3 November) the Left opposition was defined as a «social- democratic deviation» which aspired «to sabotage party unity (…) to unleash the forces inside the country that are seeking to weaken and bring about the collapse of the dictatorship». Stalin launched his ultimatum against the opposition: «Either you will keep to these conditions (…) or (…) the party which yesterday defeated you, will tomorrow completely destroy you». Contemporaneously Trotsky and Kamenev were expelled from the politburo.
Twenty or so days later, the 7th Enlarged Executive expressed itself in these terms: «the party sets out from the point of view that our revolution is a socialist revolution, that the October revolution didn’t only represent the signal, the first leap forward and the point of departure for the socialist revolution in the West, but: 1) it represents a basis for the future development of the world revolution; 2) it opens up the period of transition from capitalism to socialism in the Soviet Union in which the proletariat has the possibility to successfully construct, by means of a correct policy towards the class of peasants, a completely socialist society. Constructing it will in any case come about only if on the one hand the power of the international workers movement, and the power of the proletariat in the Soviet Union on the other, is great enough to protect the Soviet State from military intervention». The achievement of a completely socialist society therefore depended on the capacity of the Russian and world proletariat to protect the Soviet State from a military invasion. Historical irony, on the other hand, would be disposed to make the two greatest imperialist states the protectors of the Russian state: Great Britain and the United States.
During the 10th anniversary celebrations of the revolution the Left Opposition tried to participate with its own slogans. «On this day the opposers, a courageous handful of combatants amongst the indifferent masses, were nevertheless defeated at the outset (…) in Leningrad they arrived at the official tribune with their own placards but were immediately skilfully shunted off in the name of maintenance of Law and Order and separated them from the crowd; Zinoviev and Radek are drawn into negotiations until everyone has gone home. There will be a clash between police and 100 or so demonstrators led by Bakayev and Lashevich, both in army uniforms. In Moscow it would be even worse: the opposition demonstrators, split up into small groups in the crowd that is converging on Red Square, unfurl over a hundred posters and banners, which are immediately ripped up and torn by party members spread along the route who immediately surround the bearers (…). At once the groups thus singled out are dispersed and beaten up. Some demonstrators are arrested. A ‹commando group› penetrates the House of the Soviets where Smilga had hung out a banner and the portraits of Lenin and Trotsky from the balcony of his apartment. The militants present are beaten up. Analogous incidents occur at the Grand Paris Hotel where reobrazhenskyP, who had arrived by car, harangues a column of workers in revolution Square. He is at once surrounded by the police and bombarded with insults; a gunshot smashes the car windows. He has to give in.» («Storia del Partito Comunista dell’URSS» – P. Broué).
The left is sharply reminded of the depth of the Stalinian counter-revolution by the outcome of these events.
It appears that at a subsequent meeting Zinoviev said to Trotsky «Leon Davidovitch, the time has come to have the courage to capitulate». To which Trotsky replied: «If such courage was sufficient, the world revolution would be a fait accompli». On November 15th, they were both expelled from the party, and Smilga, Kamenev, Rakovsky and Evdokimov were expelled from the Central Committee.
The following day Joffe, Trotsky’s old friend, took his own life as a protest. The members of the opposition spoke to their followers for the last time gathered around Joffe’s tomb: «The struggle continues – said Trotsky – everyone remain at their post».
The CPSU’s 15th Congress (December 1927) marked the definitive defeat of the Russian Left Opposition. The expulsions of Trotsky and Zinoviev were ratified, and it resolved to expel an additional 75 members of the Opposition including Kamenev, Radek, Rakovsky, Smilga, Smirnov, Lashevich and Pjatakov. Stalin solemnly declared: «The Opposition must capitulate entirely, completely and unconditionally, both on the political and organisational planes». The CPSU’s 15th congress didn’t only signal the complete defeat of the Left Opposition but also the elevation to dogma of the theory of «socialism in one country» along with a non-acceptance of the thesis which declared that there was an incompatibility between belonging to the party and to the International. The 15th congress also represented the prelude to a new internal party crisis, for despite Bukharin being considered the most important theorist, storm clouds were beginning to gather around him and there were clear signs that he would be the next victim of the counterrevolution.
The period of deportations now began for Trotsky and the leaders of the Bolshevik old guard. For comrades less in public view the mass arrests started. A few years on and counterrevolutionary requirements dictated that political elimination became mass physical elimination.
The positions of the Italian Left on the questions of Stalinist degeneration, of the various oppositions, and of the correct stance to adopt within the party and the International were clearly expressed in a letter sent to Korsch, a key representative of the German opposition. We publish that letter here as an appendix to this article.
Translated from «Appunti per la storia della sinistra» (notes on the history of the Left) in our Italian review «Comunismo», no. 26. This part of the «Appunti» precedes the part on «The battle against the destruction of the Party», also translated from «Comunismo», which appears in «Communist Left» no.8.
That is, the pyramid was inverted to have the Comintern balancing unsteadily on top of a crisis-ridden Russian Party, instead of having the Russian Party, along with the other parties, supported on the secure foundation of a Comintern which could transpose onto the international scale a vision of «organic centralism»: a conception which sees the summit linked to the base of the pyramid by one single and uninterrupted thread of doctrine and programme: from which it either receives and synthesises the impulses or else collapses.