Workers' Liberty #59


What is Irish Republicanism?

The fifth congress

At the Fifth Congress of the Comintern in 1925, Manuilsky put forward a new approach to the national question. The Comintern was still far from fully-consolidated Stalinism, and Manuilsky hedged all he said with Marxist qualifications. But the drift is clear with hindsight: towards using the national question as a lever for getting the nationalist or even chauvinist movements of selected nationalities to bulk out the international network of support for the USSR.

"At the Second Congress, basing ourselves on the rich experience of the Russian Lenin-Stalin way of putting the national question, we put forward for the first time the idea of the united revolutionary front between the proletariat and the oppressed nations and colonies.... But... at the Second Congress we were unable to recommend concrete methods for the realisation of a workers' united front between the proletariat and the colonies. Only now can we seriously consider a number of new problems on the strength of concrete experience...

"Lately we observe in a number of countries a tendency among large masses of workers to form workers' and peasants' parties with a comparatively radical program for the fight against imperialism. This tendency resulted for instance in the formation of such a workers' and peasants' party in the Dutch Indies, and especially in Java, and in the formation of the Guo Min Dang party in China. It is also due to this tendency that purely peasant parties are being formed such as for instance the Republican Croatian Party of Radic in the Balkans, whose influence is felt beyond Croatia...

"We are faced with the question not only of revolutionary collaboration in existing parties of this kind, but of the advisability of Communists taking the initiative in organising such parties in countries with a low standard of economic development. We notice that Communists approach this question with great timidity with the result that we lose control over the national liberation movement which passes into the hands of native nationalist elements. To this group of questions belongs also the question of the Communist attitude towards various kinds of committees of the national-liberation movement. Imperialist oppression, which reached its culminating point in the post-war period, of course, contributes to the growth of this kind of organisations, which are bound to become more numerous as time goes on. As an example, let us take the Macedonian Committee, headed by Theodore Alexandrov..."

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