What was the Jiangxi Soviet's language of operation between 1931 and 1934?

What was the Jiangxi Soviet's language of operation between 1931 and 1934?


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Gong Chu (龔楚) in his Memoir mentioned that the Chinese Communists in Jinggangshan soviet district between 1931 and 1934 had a shortage of representatives in a Cantonese unit of the red army because few communist leaders can speak Cantonese.

I wonder what language a Cantonese leader like Gong Chu himself spoke in a regular communist meeting. What language did Gong speak when he conversed with Zhu De or Zhou Enlai?


The Communists' common language was probably Mandarin. Beijing had been the Imperial capital during the preceding dynasties, and its local language became the administrative tongue of the empire -- the language in which civil servants worked. This implication is the origin of the word "Mandarin", referring to bureaucrats. Educated people in the rest of the country were then as now, more likely to understand Mandarin, than its speakers were to understand the other regional languages.


During the early 20th century, most people with some education can speak Mandarin. However, they tend to speak it with a heavy accent. What Mao speaks in his speeches isn't exactly Hunanese, but more like Mandarin with a very heavy Hunan accent. When the leaders (whom all are at least partially educated) have a meeting, they likely spoke Mandarin (many with heavy accents). By the way, Zhu De is Hakka and probably spoke Hakka natively; Zhou Enlai, from Huaian, Jiangsu, was probably the only of them who spoke a variety of Mandarin natively (yet his Mandarin is still quite different from the lingua franca, Beijing Mandarin).

You could also found recordings of Sun Yat-sen's and Chiang Kai-shek's speeches online; they both spoke with very strong accents, but they're still speaking Mandarin. The difference is that, if they speak Mandarin you'll have a hard time understanding them, but if they spoke their own dialect (Cantonese and Wu, respectively), you will likely not understand them at all.

That being said, many soldiers don't have any education and most of them couldn't speak Mandarin. That's why there was a demand for a officer corps that could speak multiple dialects.


What was the Jiangxi Soviet's language of operation between 1931 and 1934? - History

The latter struggle was primarily between the Mao Zedong faction and the Communist International (Comintern) faction led by the man Joseph Stalin imposed as a condition for aiding the communists, Otto Braun. There was also a power struggles between the First Army led by Mao Zedong and the Fourth Army led by Zhang Guotao. Salisbury is sympathetic to Mao but his book is objective and well worth reading. There is however another book, Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and her husband Jon Halliday that tells the story behind the story of the Long March.

Both the Communist Party and the Guomindang (Nationalist) Party were created around 1920 and had a socialist orientation. The Guomindang although it had a socialist orientation was primarily concerned with establishing a nation state. This meant suppressing the numerous warlords and uniting China. The Guomindang needed financial aid to achieve this and it was not going to get such aid from the imperialist powers. The founder and leader of the Guomindang, Sun Yatsen, sought and received aid from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union not only sent material aid, it also sent advisors, Michael Borodin and Otto Braun. The latter was a German Communist representing the Communist International, the Comintern. The Soviet Union also required that the Guomindang admit to its membership the members of the Communist Party of China.

The Communists worked within the Guomindang during the early and middle 1920's. The arrangement appeared to work well. Chiang Kai-shek directed the Whampoa Military Academy and Zhou Enlai served as the political officer for that academy. Chiang Kai-shek went to Moscow for training and later his son, Chiang Ching-guo, went to Moscow.

The trouble came when Sun Yat-sen died of cancer in 1925. It was uncertain who would succeed him as leader of the Guomindang. After a short period of political maneuvering Chiang Kai-shek emerged as the leader. The Guomindang actually split at this time into two factions, a left faction headed by Chiang Kai-shek who accepted continued cooperation with the Communists and a right faction which opposed such cooperation.

After consolidating his hold on the Guomindang Chiang Kai-shek organized a northern expedition to defeat the many warlords who controlled local areas of northern China.

Chiang's Northern Expedition of 1926-27 was a great success. Thirty nine war lords were defeated. The Northern Expedition then moved to Shanghai. The Communist-dominated labor unions staged an uprising prior to the entry of Chiang's army into the city. This uprising established a city government without Chiang's approval. This and other actions by the Communists within the Guomindang led Chiang to fear the Communists were following their own agenda and were striving for control. Chiang's followers turned upon the Communists in Shanghai and massacred them. A similar slaughter and purge of the Communists within the Guomindang throughout other parts of China took place shortly afterwards.

Those that could escaped and joined the rural communist centers in South China. The major rural Communist strongholds were in the rural areas of Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces. There were also strongholds in the more remote provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi. In the Jiangxi Soviet, as it was called, Mao Zedong was a major leader.

Mao Zedong came from the clan village of Shaoshan in Hunan Province. He was born at the end 1893 and was notably older than the other Communist leaders. His family was moderately well-to-do, land-owning peasants. Mao's grandfather had lost the family farm to money lenders but Mao's father had got it back and had moved upward into trade and money lending. Mao's father wanted his son Zedong educated in order to be better able to handle the family businesses. In the village school Mao learned basic literacy and the Chinese classics from age seven to twelve. At age 13 Mao's father felt he had an adequate education and ended his schooling to have him work fulltime on the family farm. Mao's mother, a kind, hard-working woman who was a devout Buddhist, was a stronger influence on Mao Zedong than his hard-driving father.

Mao rebelled against his father and left the family to study at a higher primary school in a nearby county. He later then went on to Changsha Normal School in the provincial capital of Changsha at about age eighteen. At Changsha Normal he became acquainted with the writings of political revolutionaries, Western as well as Chinese. He was particularly impressed by the writings of Sun Yat-sen. Incidentally Mao first heard of America when reading a short biography of George Washington.

The revolution against the Qing Empire was finally successful in 1911, after four failed attempts. Mao joined the army of revolution and was a soldier for six months. But the success of the revolution brought a demobilization of the army and Mao drifted from one pursuit to another uncertain of the what career he should prepare for. He graduated from Changsha Normal School and went to Beijing. He worked as an assistant librarian at Beijing University where he read and participated in some student organizations that gave him his first experience in political organizing.

Sun Yat-sen and his political organization was not as successful in gaining control of China as they had been in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty. The period from 1912 to 1919 saw China falling under the control of local warlords. Sun Yat-sen relinquished the presidency of the Chinese Republic to a man who had been a Qing Empire official but who secured the abdication of the Emperor. Sun Yat-sen felt this man would be best able to unify China. Instead that man sought to make himself the new emperor and also sought to exterminate Sun Yat-sen and his party.

The year 1919 saw a renewal of Sun Yat-sen's political organization. In that year the Allies of World War I chose to grant the German Concession in China to Japan rather than returning it to Chinese control. This sparked violent protests. Sun Yat-sen organized a political party called Guomindang (Nationalist Party). The ideological roots of the Guomindang are a bit uncertain but there was an emphasis on nationalism and socialism. Mao was in Beijing at the time of the protests, the May Fourth (1919) Movement. In July of 1919 Mao wrote an editorial which said,

In the summer of 1919 Mao left Beijing to organize opposition to Japan among students, workers and merchants in Jiangxi Province in southern China. The fact that peasants were not at this time considered to have revolutionary potential reflected the influence of Marxism. Mao talked and wrote about the Soviet experience but he did not commit himself to Marxism until 1921. Mao differed from the other Communist leaders in that he did not travel to Western Europe or Moscow for study. He moved toward a focus on the Chinese countryside and the peasants. However much this focus on the peasants was at variance with orthodox Marxism, Mao instincts still directed him unerringly to greatest reservoir of revolutionary potential in China.


Luding Bridge proves a crossing point in history

Visitors walk across Luding Bridge in Luding county, Sichuan province. Visitors walk across Luding Bridge in Luding county, Sichuan province. WANG HUABIN/FOR CHINA DAILY

One of the most important maneuvers of the Long March still has great resonance for tourists and locals

When Sun Guangjun explained that Red Army soldiers had marched a grueling 120 kilometers in a single day in May 1935 to reach the west bank of Luding Bridge on the Dadu River by 6 am the following morning, the visitors were astounded by the words of the Red Army history expert.

Xiao Bao, one of two visitors who spoke with Sun during a recent visit to the bridge in Luding county, Ganzi Tibetan autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province, said: "It seemed like a 'mission impossible'. I wondered if the soldiers had been divine troops descending from Heaven, like in a legend."

Seizure of the bridge on May 29, 1935, became a famous incident in a story filled with heroes, because its planks had been removed by Kuomintang troops. They had converged on the river's east bank to cut off the troops of the Red Army, a predecessor of the People's Liberation Army, leaving just 13 iron chains.

Despite that, the Red Army soldiers crossed the bridge, suffering only a few deaths from their 22-strong force.

Mao Zedong met Edgar Snow, the first Western journalist to introduce Red China to the world, in Yan'an, in the northwestern province of Shaanxi in 1936.

At their first meeting, Mao said the Red Army's crossing of the Dadu River had been the most important event of the Long March (1934-36). If the maneuver had failed, the Red Army might have been wiped out, Mao told Snow, a writer from the United States.

At the time, China was engaged in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45). After cooperation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China broke down, the Kuomintang started a campaign to "cleanse" the CPC. That led the Central Red Army to embark on the Long March, which finally saw the troops arrive in Shaanxi in October 1935.

Located in Shaanxi's north, Yan'an, the CPC's base, was surrounded by the Kuomintang's military and information blockade. The world knew little about the CPC and the Red Army except for the unflattering image propagated by the Kuomintang.

With the help of Soong Ching Ling, widow of Sun Yat-sen, Snow arrived in Yan'an on July 13, 1936. He spoke with Mao and over 100 Red Army commanders, interviewed soldiers on the front line and engaged extensively with local people. Snow's reports gave a vastly different picture to the one presented by the Kuomintang.

In October 1937, his newly published Red Star Over China became an instant hit in London, with more than 100,000 copies sold in just a few weeks and it was still a much sought-after item following three additional printings.

Every Chinese learns about the importance of Luding Bridge from history books at a very young age. Eighty-six years ago, the bridge was crucial to the survival of the CPC-led Red Army during the Long March, which began in Ruijin in East China's Jiangxi province, where the Provisional Central Government of the Soviet Republic of China had been established in 1931.

The central Soviet area had to be abandoned in 1934 after the Red Army failed to break through a yearlong blockade launched by Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek, who built blockhouses with machine guns to close all routes out of the area.

Despite that, the Red Army managed to find a way out. Initially, the evacuation of 86,000 people was a difficult operation. Disorganized and ill-equipped, the first leg of the Long March was accomplished at an enormous cost, with the Red Army fighting every inch of the way.

The Red Army was left with just 33,500 troops after fighting 400,000 Kuomintang soldiers in late November and early December 1934 at the Battle of the Xiangjiang River, which lies on the border of Central China's Hunan province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in the south.

Historians say the failures were the result of dissent within the Red Army's central command, but note that the turning point of the Long March emerged in Southwest China's Guizhou province, where the troops recuperated and moved on from setbacks to victories.


Zhu De

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Zhu De, Wade-Giles romanization Chu Teh, (born Dec. 1, 1886, Yilong, Sichuan province, China—died July 6, 1976, Beijing), one of China’s greatest military leaders and the founder of the Chinese communist army.

Born into a peasant family, Zhu was initially a physical education instructor. In 1911 he graduated from the Yunnan Military Academy and took part in the revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty. For the next 10 years Zhu served as a middle-ranking officer and then a brigade commander in the armies of warlords in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in southwestern China. In 1922, disillusioned with warlordism and the chaotic politics of republican China in general, he went to Europe and studied in Berlin and at the University of Göttingen. While in Germany he joined the Chinese Communist Party.

Expelled from Germany for his political activities, Zhu went to the Soviet Union for a while then returned in 1926 to China, where, concealing his communist affiliation, he became an officer in the Nationalist (Kuomintang) Army. In August 1927 he took part in the communist-led Nanchang Uprising against the Nationalists, an event that is regarded by communists as marking the birth of the Chinese Red Army. When the Nanchang Uprising was crushed by the Nationalists, Zhu led his remaining troops south to Fujian, Guangdong, and eventually Hunan province, where they linked up with the small guerrilla forces of Mao Zedong. The two formed the 4th Red Army, with Zhu De as commander and Mao Zedong as political commissar. They established a base, or soviet, in Jiangxi province, and Zhu built up the Red Army from 5,000 troops in 1929 to 200,000 in 1933. He commanded the Red Army’s successful defense of the Jiangxi soviet against the Nationalists’ first four campaigns (1931–33) to annihilate it. Zhu then served as commander in chief of the Red Army throughout the communists’ 6,000-mile- (10,000- km- ) long retreat (1934–35) to Shaanxi province, a journey known as the Long March.

After the communists had formed an alliance with the Nationalists to resist the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, Zhu directly commanded the Red Army’s northern forces, renamed the Eighth Route Army. He retained overall command of all communist military operations against the Japanese from 1937 to 1945. Upon the Japanese surrender in 1945 and the resumption of the civil war between the Nationalists and the communists, Zhu commanded the renamed People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which defeated the Nationalists and drove them from the mainland. He retained command of the PLA of the new People’s Republic of China until 1954. Although a Political Bureau member from 1934, Zhu was never regarded as a contender for political power. When ranks were initiated in the army he was made a marshal, and from 1959 he served as chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the nominal legislature.

Zhu De, along with Mao Zedong, was primarily responsible for the Chinese Red Army’s major contribution to modern warfare—the elevation of guerrilla warfare from a minor supplement of conventional forces to a major strategic concept, particularly for revolutionary armies. Under Zhu, the Red Army developed as a highly mobile, flexible, and self-sufficient force that operated throughout the countryside and won the support of the rural population through its discipline, courage, and responsiveness. Zhu’s strategy was customarily to destroy the enemy’s forces piecemeal and by attrition rather than by fighting pitched battles with massed troops. Control of the countryside was regarded as more important in the long run than costly attempts to overrun and hold large cities. Zhu’s perfection of virtually all aspects of large-scale guerrilla warfare was a major factor in the Red Army’s crushing defeat of the Nationalist forces in the period from 1946 to 1949.


Mao: the legend of the Long March

Mao Zedong made great political capital out of the Red Army's epic trek to escape the clutches of their enemies in China 80 years ago. But, as Edward Stourton explains, the communist leader's version of the march did not always reflect reality

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Published: March 1, 2014 at 9:00 am

“The Long March is propaganda,” declared Mao Zedong in a speech in December 1935. “It has announced to some 200 million people in 11 provinces that the road of the Red Army is their only road to liberation.”

We almost always use the word ‘propaganda’ pejoratively, often as shorthand for official lies. For Mao, it meant something much closer to ‘evangelisation’, in the sense that the term is used of the early Christian church. Propaganda was the means by which the good news of his new creed was to be spread across China’s vast territories, and his 1935 speech was a claim of success, not a confession of deceit.

It was the first time Mao used the phrase ‘Long March’ and the term has since become familiar all over the world. But the complex historical background to the episode it describes is little understood outside China.

Chinese politics in the mid-1930s were chaotic and uncertain. Chiang Kai-shek, the ‘Generalissimo’ as he was known in the west, was China’s nominal ruler, governing the country through the Guomindang, or Nationalist Party. But much of the country was controlled by local warlords and Chiang faced two powerful threats to his authority: the Japanese invasion and occupation of Manchuria, in northern China, which began in 1931 and the communist rebellion centred in the south-eastern province of Jiangxi.

Mao Zedong arrived in Jiangxi in 1929, where he and the Communist Party leadership set about establishing a prototype communist state – the Jiangxi Soviet Republic of China, as they called it. The reality was rather more modest than that ambitious title suggests.

While recording my BBC Radio 4 series on the Long March, I visited the Communist Party offices in the Jiangxi city of Yudu. During the ‘Soviet’ period of the early 1930s, the local government was run from a requisitioned salt-merchant’s house, with entire government departments housed in bedrooms the size of those in an average British family home today.

Chiang Kai-shek’s forces squeezed the communists in a series of ‘encirclements’ and, by the autumn of 1934, it had become clear that the Jiangxi Soviet could not hold out for much longer. Harrison Salisbury, an American journalist and historian who wrote an account of the Long March (with official Chinese Communist Party backing) in the mid-1980s, quotes an estimate that the communists lost 60,000 men in the last of the defensive campaigns against the Guomindang. Their only option was to run away.

That October, 86,000 Red Army troops crossed the Yudu river on pontoon bridges built from doors, bed boards and even – so they tell you in the city of Yudu today – the odd coffin lid. They marched in straw sandals, hundreds of thousands of which had been woven in the weeks leading up to their departure. The leaders hoped to link up with other Red Army units operating in south-central China, with a view to establishing a new Soviet Republic on the Jiangxi model.

They took everything with them – from a printing press to an x-ray machine – while the ordinary soldiers, many of them local recruits who had never left home, had no idea where they were heading.

The first serious battle they fought was a catastrophic defeat. Chiang’s forces caught up with them at the Xiang river in Guangxi Province and ambushed them as they crossed. Estimates of the number of troops they lost range between 15,000 and 40,000.

But Mao was an alchemist, with an astonishing ability to turn the base metal of defeat into political gold. When the Long March began, the Communist Party leadership was divided between a pro-Moscow faction (including a German military adviser called Otto Braun, sent by Stalin) and Chinese nationalists like Mao who wanted to build a home-grown revolution. Mao used the Xiang debacle as a stick with which to beat the Moscow loyalists and, at a series of meetings, he cemented his own leadership position and sidelined Braun and his allies.

Political propaganda was always central to the military campaign. The Red Army had no outside resources to draw upon and its survival depended on the support of the local population in the areas it marched through. Wherever they went, the communists enforced the policy of ‘land reform’ – a summary form of asset redistribution that often involved the execution of existing landlords.

Brilliant operation?

Military victories were few and far between – and when they came, the propaganda teams exploited them to the full. The most famous, the battle of Luding Bridge, has gone down in official history as a brilliant commando operation, but many modern historians have questioned whether it was quite as dramatic or decisive as the communists’ version claims.

In May 1935, the Red Army was in danger of being trapped on the banks of the Dadu river in Sichuan. The troops were spooked by a powerful folk-memory: in the mid-19th century, one of the last surviving armies of the Taiping rebellion against the Qing Dynasty had been forced to surrender at the same spot. Its leader, the inspirational Prince Shi Dakai, was subsequently executed by ‘the slicing method’, or ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

In a requisitioned Catholic priest’s house in the mountain town of Moxi, Mao decided on a daring plan to ensure that he and the Red Army did not come to grief in a similar way. It involved the taking and holding of an 18th-century chain suspension bridge across the Dadu in the remote town of Luding. Speed was of the essence the Red Army detachment charged with taking the bridge made a forced march of 75 miles in 24 hours over unforgiving mountain roads.

Towards the end, they found themselves in a straight race with Guomindang reinforcements on the opposite bank of the river. Pung Min Yi, now a 94-year-old farmer who lives just outside Luding, was looking after the family goats that day and witnessed the scene. He still vividly remembers the bullets pinging off the troops’ cooking pots as the Nationalists took shots from across the water.

When the Reds reached Luding, they found that the Nationalist defenders had removed most of the planks from the bridge to make it even more difficult to cross. Twenty-two commandoes clambered along the chains as they swung wildly above the swirling mountain river, they were under constant fire from the bridge house on the opposite bank. The bridge is about 100 metres long, but almost all of them made it across. The defenders fled and the crossing was secured.

That account, based on a memoir by Yang Chengwu, a Red Army commissar who was there that day, has become a staple of the many celebrations of the Long March in song and drama, and was immortalised in the hugely popular film Ten Thousand Rivers and a Thousand Mountains. Whether Yang’s version of the story is entirely accurate is another matter – but no one doubts the dreadful physical suffering the Long Marchers endured.

Scrub and bog

The Snow Mountains of Sichuan, rising to 5,500 metres, exacted a terrible toll on troops marching in light clothes with straw sandals. Then came the grasslands, an unforgiving and treacherous plateau of scrub and bog that took nearly a week to cross. Zhong Ming, one of the few Long March veterans still living, told me he watched men die as they were sucked into the mud, too exhausted to resist. It’s said that some soldiers were driven by hunger to sift through the faeces of those who had gone before in search of undigested grain to eat.

Chairman Mao declared the Long March over when he reached the province of Shaanxi, which was to serve as the Communist Party’s base for most of the time until its eventual victory in 1949. His Red Army had shrunk to no more than a few thousand troops some estimates put the figure as low as 4,000. But simply by surviving they had secured a kind of victory.

And, in a way, the Long March has never ended. In that 1935 speech, Mao called it “a machine for sowing… It has sown many seeds which will sprout, leaf, blossom and bear fruit, and will bear a harvest for the future.”

Mao’s own reputation was badly tarnished by the Cultural Revolution, but the legend of the Long March remains as powerful as ever. It is modern China’s founding myth.

Anbin Shi, a professor of cultural studies at Tsinghua University, compares it to the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. And, as he pointed out to me, you can understand the importance of the exodus without accepting every word of the biblical text.

Mao’s myths

Edward Stourton separates Long March fact from Long March fiction

The Long March wasn’t quite as long as Mao claimed

“By using our two legs, we swept across a distance of 25,000 li,” Mao declared. In the 1930s, the li was understood to equal half a kilometre, or 550 yards, so Mao was claiming a march of 12,500 kilometres or a little over 7,800 miles. Author Ed Jocelyn, who retraced the route 10 years ago, calculated that he had walked less than half that distance – 12,000 li, or 3,750 miles.

Mao’s “heroes” routinely beheaded captives

Mao said that the March “has proclaimed to the world that the Red Army is an army of heroes”. Two Protestant missionaries who were taken hostage by the Reds – Rudolph Bosshardt and Arnolis Hayman – painted them in very different colours. Hayman’s diary, unpublished until four years ago, records that “class enemies” were routinely taken hostage and tortured.

“The Reds did not seem to hold any of their prisoners for more than three days,” he wrote, “during which time the ransom was either paid by a messenger or the captive’s life is summarily ended.” Beheading was the preferred method of execution.

Many of Mao’s “heroes” were little more than child soldiers, some of them as young as 11. Large numbers deserted and faced execution if they were caught. In Shanxi, I interviewed a woman whose mother was effectively kidnapped by the Red Army as a child while she was playing in the street. She was 11 or 12 at the time and never found her home village again.

An insignificant event that became a “turning point”

The Communist Party meeting at the small town of Zunyi in January 1935 was described in a standard Chinese textbook as “the turning point of life and death in the Chinese Revolution”.

It was said to be the climax of Mao’s campaign to sideline the pro-Soviet faction and every Chinese student is taught its significance. But no minutes were kept and there was no mention of the Zunyi Resolution in party documents until after 1949. Even the official dates of the meeting were wrong.

“The truth,” explains a local historian, “is that the Zunyi Conference was perhaps not as important at the time as it was made out later.”

Edward Stourton is a broadcaster and former presenter of Today on BBC Radio 4. His books include Cruel Crossing: Escaping Hitler Across the Pyrenees (Doubleday, 2013).


Mao Zedong

Of Hunanese peasant stock, Mao was trained in Chinese classics and later received a modern education. As a young man he observed oppressive social conditions, becoming one of the original members of the Chinese Communist party. He organized (1920s) Kuomintang Kuomintang
[Chin.,=national people's party] (KMT), Chinese and Taiwanese political party. Sung Chiao-jen organized the party in 1912, under the nominal leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to succeed the Revolutionary Alliance.
. Click the link for more information. -sponsored peasant and industrial unions and directed (1926) the Kuomintang's Peasant Movement Training Institute. After the Kuomintang-Communist split (1927), Mao led the disastrous "Autumn Harvest Uprising" in Hunan, leading to his ouster from the central committee of the party.

From 1928 until 1931 Mao, with Zhu De Zhu De
or Chu Teh
, 1886�, Chinese Communist soldier and leader. He was graduated (1911) from the Yunnan military academy and served in various positions with armies loyal to Sun Yat-sen. Stationed in Sichuan prov., he was a warlord from 1916 to 1920.
. Click the link for more information. and others, established rural soviets in the hinterlands, and built the Red Army. In 1931 he was elected chairman of the newly established Soviet Republic of China, based in Jiangxi province. After withstanding five encirclement campaigns launched by Chiang Kai-shek Chiang Kai-shek
, 1887�, Chinese Nationalist leader. He was also called Chiang Chung-cheng.

After completing military training with the Japanese Army, he returned to China in 1911 and took part in the revolution against the Manchus (see Ch'ing).
. Click the link for more information. , Mao led (1934󈞏) the Red Army on the long march long march,
Chin., Changzheng, the journey of c.6,000 mi (9,660 km) undertaken by the Red Army of China in 1934󈞏. When their Jiangxi prov. Soviet base was encircled by the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek, some 90,000 men and women broke through the siege (Oct.
. Click the link for more information. (6,000 mi/9,656 km) from Jiangxi north to Yan'an in Shaanxi province, emerging as the most important Communist leader. During the Second Sino-Japanese War Sino-Japanese War, Second,
1937󈞙, conflict between Japanese and Chinese forces for control of the Chinese mainland. The war sapped the Nationalist government's strength while allowing the Communists to gain control over large areas through organization of guerrilla units.
. Click the link for more information. (1937󈞙) the Communists and the Kuomintang continued their civil war while both were battling the Japanese invaders.

The civil war continued after war with Japan had ended, and in 1949, after the Communists had taken almost all of mainland China, Mao became chairman of the central government council of the newly established People's Republic of China he was reelected to the post, the most powerful in China, in 1954. In an attempt to break with the Russian model of Communism and to imbue the Chinese people with renewed revolutionary vigor, Mao launched (1958) the Great Leap Forward Great Leap Forward,
1957󈞨, Chinese economic plan aimed at revitalizing all sectors of the economy. Initiated by Mao Zedong, the plan emphasized decentralized, labor-intensive industrialization, typified by the construction of thousands of backyard steel furnaces in place
. Click the link for more information. . The program was a terrible failure, an estimated 20 to 30 million people died in the famine that followed (1958󈞩), and Mao withdrew temporarily from public view.

The failure of this program also resulted in a break with the Soviet Union, which cut off aid. Mao accused Soviet leaders of betraying Marxism. In 1959 Liu Shaoqi Liu Shaoqi
or Liu Shao-ch'i
, 1898?�, Chinese Communist political leader. Liu joined (1920) a Comintern organization in Shanghai, where he studied Russian. While in Moscow in 1921, he joined the Chinese Communist party.
. Click the link for more information. , an opponent of the Great Leap Forward, replaced Mao as chairman of the central government council, but Mao retained his chairmanship of the Communist party politburo.

A campaign to reestablish Mao's ideological line culminated in the Cultural Revolution Cultural Revolution,
1966󈞸, mass mobilization of urban Chinese youth inaugurated by Mao Zedong in an attempt to prevent the development of a bureaucratized Soviet style of Communism.
. Click the link for more information. (1966󈞸). Mass mobilization, begun and led by Mao and his wife, Jiang Qing Jiang Qing
or Chiang Ch'ing
, 1914󈟇, Chinese Communist political leader, wife of Mao Zedong. Born Li Jinhai or Li Shumeng, she was later known as Li Yunhe and Li He and changed her name to Lan Ping in 1938 when beginning an acting career, joining the Communist
. Click the link for more information. , was directed against the party leadership. Liu and others were removed from power in 1968. In 1969 Mao reasserted his party leadership by serving as chairman of the Ninth Communist Party Congress, and in 1970 he was named supreme commander of the nation and army. The cultural revolution group continued its campaigns until Mao's death in Sept., 1976. A month later its leaders were purged and Mao's surviving opponents, led by Deng Xiaoping Deng Xiaoping
or Teng Hsiao-p'ing
, 1904󈟍, Chinese revolutionary and government leader, b. Sichuan prov. Deng became a member of the Chinese Communist party while studying in France (1920󈞅) and later (1926) attended Sun Yatsen Univ., Moscow.
. Click the link for more information. , slowly regained power, pushing aside Mao's successor, Hua Guofeng Hua Guofeng
or Hua Kuo-feng
, 1920�, Chinese Communist leader. He was relatively unknown until he became minister of public security and deputy premier in 1975. As Mao Zedong's designated heir, he became premier following Zhou Enlai's death (Jan.
. Click the link for more information. , and erasing the cult surrounding Mao. Mao's embalmed body is displayed in a mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

Bibliography

See his Selected Works (4 vol., 1954󈞤, repr. 1961󈞭), Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (ed. by S. R. Schram, 1967), and Poems (tr. 1972). See also biographies by R. Terrill (1980), P. Short (2000), J. Spence (2000), J. Chang and J. Halliday (2005), and A. V. Pantsov and S. I. Levine (2012) S. Karnow, Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution (1972) J. B. Starr, Continuing the Revolution: The Political Thought of Mao (1977) S. R. Schram, Mao Zedong: A Preliminary Reassessment (1983) J. Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (2019).


Mao Zedong

Of Hunanese peasant stock, Mao was trained in Chinese classics and later received a modern education. As a young man he observed oppressive social conditions, becoming one of the original members of the Chinese Communist party. He organized (1920s) Kuomintang Kuomintang
[Chin.,=national people's party] (KMT), Chinese and Taiwanese political party. Sung Chiao-jen organized the party in 1912, under the nominal leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to succeed the Revolutionary Alliance.
. Click the link for more information. -sponsored peasant and industrial unions and directed (1926) the Kuomintang's Peasant Movement Training Institute. After the Kuomintang-Communist split (1927), Mao led the disastrous "Autumn Harvest Uprising" in Hunan, leading to his ouster from the central committee of the party.

From 1928 until 1931 Mao, with Zhu De Zhu De
or Chu Teh
, 1886�, Chinese Communist soldier and leader. He was graduated (1911) from the Yunnan military academy and served in various positions with armies loyal to Sun Yat-sen. Stationed in Sichuan prov., he was a warlord from 1916 to 1920.
. Click the link for more information. and others, established rural soviets in the hinterlands, and built the Red Army. In 1931 he was elected chairman of the newly established Soviet Republic of China, based in Jiangxi province. After withstanding five encirclement campaigns launched by Chiang Kai-shek Chiang Kai-shek
, 1887�, Chinese Nationalist leader. He was also called Chiang Chung-cheng.

After completing military training with the Japanese Army, he returned to China in 1911 and took part in the revolution against the Manchus (see Ch'ing).
. Click the link for more information. , Mao led (1934󈞏) the Red Army on the long march long march,
Chin., Changzheng, the journey of c.6,000 mi (9,660 km) undertaken by the Red Army of China in 1934󈞏. When their Jiangxi prov. Soviet base was encircled by the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek, some 90,000 men and women broke through the siege (Oct.
. Click the link for more information. (6,000 mi/9,656 km) from Jiangxi north to Yan'an in Shaanxi province, emerging as the most important Communist leader. During the Second Sino-Japanese War Sino-Japanese War, Second,
1937󈞙, conflict between Japanese and Chinese forces for control of the Chinese mainland. The war sapped the Nationalist government's strength while allowing the Communists to gain control over large areas through organization of guerrilla units.
. Click the link for more information. (1937󈞙) the Communists and the Kuomintang continued their civil war while both were battling the Japanese invaders.

The civil war continued after war with Japan had ended, and in 1949, after the Communists had taken almost all of mainland China, Mao became chairman of the central government council of the newly established People's Republic of China he was reelected to the post, the most powerful in China, in 1954. In an attempt to break with the Russian model of Communism and to imbue the Chinese people with renewed revolutionary vigor, Mao launched (1958) the Great Leap Forward Great Leap Forward,
1957󈞨, Chinese economic plan aimed at revitalizing all sectors of the economy. Initiated by Mao Zedong, the plan emphasized decentralized, labor-intensive industrialization, typified by the construction of thousands of backyard steel furnaces in place
. Click the link for more information. . The program was a terrible failure, an estimated 20 to 30 million people died in the famine that followed (1958󈞩), and Mao withdrew temporarily from public view.

The failure of this program also resulted in a break with the Soviet Union, which cut off aid. Mao accused Soviet leaders of betraying Marxism. In 1959 Liu Shaoqi Liu Shaoqi
or Liu Shao-ch'i
, 1898?�, Chinese Communist political leader. Liu joined (1920) a Comintern organization in Shanghai, where he studied Russian. While in Moscow in 1921, he joined the Chinese Communist party.
. Click the link for more information. , an opponent of the Great Leap Forward, replaced Mao as chairman of the central government council, but Mao retained his chairmanship of the Communist party politburo.

A campaign to reestablish Mao's ideological line culminated in the Cultural Revolution Cultural Revolution,
1966󈞸, mass mobilization of urban Chinese youth inaugurated by Mao Zedong in an attempt to prevent the development of a bureaucratized Soviet style of Communism.
. Click the link for more information. (1966󈞸). Mass mobilization, begun and led by Mao and his wife, Jiang Qing Jiang Qing
or Chiang Ch'ing
, 1914󈟇, Chinese Communist political leader, wife of Mao Zedong. Born Li Jinhai or Li Shumeng, she was later known as Li Yunhe and Li He and changed her name to Lan Ping in 1938 when beginning an acting career, joining the Communist
. Click the link for more information. , was directed against the party leadership. Liu and others were removed from power in 1968. In 1969 Mao reasserted his party leadership by serving as chairman of the Ninth Communist Party Congress, and in 1970 he was named supreme commander of the nation and army. The cultural revolution group continued its campaigns until Mao's death in Sept., 1976. A month later its leaders were purged and Mao's surviving opponents, led by Deng Xiaoping Deng Xiaoping
or Teng Hsiao-p'ing
, 1904󈟍, Chinese revolutionary and government leader, b. Sichuan prov. Deng became a member of the Chinese Communist party while studying in France (1920󈞅) and later (1926) attended Sun Yatsen Univ., Moscow.
. Click the link for more information. , slowly regained power, pushing aside Mao's successor, Hua Guofeng Hua Guofeng
or Hua Kuo-feng
, 1920�, Chinese Communist leader. He was relatively unknown until he became minister of public security and deputy premier in 1975. As Mao Zedong's designated heir, he became premier following Zhou Enlai's death (Jan.
. Click the link for more information. , and erasing the cult surrounding Mao. Mao's embalmed body is displayed in a mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

Bibliography

See his Selected Works (4 vol., 1954󈞤, repr. 1961󈞭), Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (ed. by S. R. Schram, 1967), and Poems (tr. 1972). See also biographies by R. Terrill (1980), P. Short (2000), J. Spence (2000), J. Chang and J. Halliday (2005), and A. V. Pantsov and S. I. Levine (2012) S. Karnow, Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution (1972) J. B. Starr, Continuing the Revolution: The Political Thought of Mao (1977) S. R. Schram, Mao Zedong: A Preliminary Reassessment (1983) J. Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (2019).


“Black Sunday" Dust Bowl storm strikes

In what came to be known as 𠇋lack Sunday,” one of the most devastating storms of the 1930s Dust Bowl era sweeps across the region on April 14, 1935. High winds kicked up clouds of millions of tons of dirt and dust so dense and dark that some eyewitnesses believed the world was coming to an end.

The term 𠇍ust bowl” was reportedly coined by a reporter in the mid-1930s and referred to the plains of western Kansas, southeastern Colorado, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and northeastern New Mexico. By the early 1930s, the grassy plains of this region had been over-plowed by farmers and overgrazed by cattle and sheep. The resulting soil erosion, combined with an eight-year drought which began in 1931, created a dire situation for farmers and ranchers. Crops and businesses failed and an increasing number of dust storms made people and animals sick. Many residents fled the region in search of work in other states such as California (as chronicled in books including John Steinbeck s The Grapes of Wrath), and those who remained behind struggled to support themselves.

By the mid-1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt s administration introduced programs to help alleviate the farming crisis. Among these initiatives was the establishment of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in the Department of Agriculture. The SCS promoted improved farming and land management techniques and farmers were paid to utilize these safer practices. For many Dust Bowl farmers, this federal aid was their only source of income at the time.

The Dust Bowl era finally came to a close when the rains arrived and the drought ended in 1939. Although drought would continue to be an inevitable part of life in the region, improved farming techniques significantly reduced the problem of soil erosion and prevented a repeat of the 1930s Dust Bowl devastation.


Mao Zedong

Of Hunanese peasant stock, Mao was trained in Chinese classics and later received a modern education. As a young man he observed oppressive social conditions, becoming one of the original members of the Chinese Communist party. He organized (1920s) Kuomintang Kuomintang
[Chin.,=national people's party] (KMT), Chinese and Taiwanese political party. Sung Chiao-jen organized the party in 1912, under the nominal leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to succeed the Revolutionary Alliance.
. Click the link for more information. -sponsored peasant and industrial unions and directed (1926) the Kuomintang's Peasant Movement Training Institute. After the Kuomintang-Communist split (1927), Mao led the disastrous "Autumn Harvest Uprising" in Hunan, leading to his ouster from the central committee of the party.

From 1928 until 1931 Mao, with Zhu De Zhu De
or Chu Teh
, 1886�, Chinese Communist soldier and leader. He was graduated (1911) from the Yunnan military academy and served in various positions with armies loyal to Sun Yat-sen. Stationed in Sichuan prov., he was a warlord from 1916 to 1920.
. Click the link for more information. and others, established rural soviets in the hinterlands, and built the Red Army. In 1931 he was elected chairman of the newly established Soviet Republic of China, based in Jiangxi province. After withstanding five encirclement campaigns launched by Chiang Kai-shek Chiang Kai-shek
, 1887�, Chinese Nationalist leader. He was also called Chiang Chung-cheng.

After completing military training with the Japanese Army, he returned to China in 1911 and took part in the revolution against the Manchus (see Ch'ing).
. Click the link for more information. , Mao led (1934󈞏) the Red Army on the long march long march,
Chin., Changzheng, the journey of c.6,000 mi (9,660 km) undertaken by the Red Army of China in 1934󈞏. When their Jiangxi prov. Soviet base was encircled by the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek, some 90,000 men and women broke through the siege (Oct.
. Click the link for more information. (6,000 mi/9,656 km) from Jiangxi north to Yan'an in Shaanxi province, emerging as the most important Communist leader. During the Second Sino-Japanese War Sino-Japanese War, Second,
1937󈞙, conflict between Japanese and Chinese forces for control of the Chinese mainland. The war sapped the Nationalist government's strength while allowing the Communists to gain control over large areas through organization of guerrilla units.
. Click the link for more information. (1937󈞙) the Communists and the Kuomintang continued their civil war while both were battling the Japanese invaders.

The civil war continued after war with Japan had ended, and in 1949, after the Communists had taken almost all of mainland China, Mao became chairman of the central government council of the newly established People's Republic of China he was reelected to the post, the most powerful in China, in 1954. In an attempt to break with the Russian model of Communism and to imbue the Chinese people with renewed revolutionary vigor, Mao launched (1958) the Great Leap Forward Great Leap Forward,
1957󈞨, Chinese economic plan aimed at revitalizing all sectors of the economy. Initiated by Mao Zedong, the plan emphasized decentralized, labor-intensive industrialization, typified by the construction of thousands of backyard steel furnaces in place
. Click the link for more information. . The program was a terrible failure, an estimated 20 to 30 million people died in the famine that followed (1958󈞩), and Mao withdrew temporarily from public view.

The failure of this program also resulted in a break with the Soviet Union, which cut off aid. Mao accused Soviet leaders of betraying Marxism. In 1959 Liu Shaoqi Liu Shaoqi
or Liu Shao-ch'i
, 1898?�, Chinese Communist political leader. Liu joined (1920) a Comintern organization in Shanghai, where he studied Russian. While in Moscow in 1921, he joined the Chinese Communist party.
. Click the link for more information. , an opponent of the Great Leap Forward, replaced Mao as chairman of the central government council, but Mao retained his chairmanship of the Communist party politburo.

A campaign to reestablish Mao's ideological line culminated in the Cultural Revolution Cultural Revolution,
1966󈞸, mass mobilization of urban Chinese youth inaugurated by Mao Zedong in an attempt to prevent the development of a bureaucratized Soviet style of Communism.
. Click the link for more information. (1966󈞸). Mass mobilization, begun and led by Mao and his wife, Jiang Qing Jiang Qing
or Chiang Ch'ing
, 1914󈟇, Chinese Communist political leader, wife of Mao Zedong. Born Li Jinhai or Li Shumeng, she was later known as Li Yunhe and Li He and changed her name to Lan Ping in 1938 when beginning an acting career, joining the Communist
. Click the link for more information. , was directed against the party leadership. Liu and others were removed from power in 1968. In 1969 Mao reasserted his party leadership by serving as chairman of the Ninth Communist Party Congress, and in 1970 he was named supreme commander of the nation and army. The cultural revolution group continued its campaigns until Mao's death in Sept., 1976. A month later its leaders were purged and Mao's surviving opponents, led by Deng Xiaoping Deng Xiaoping
or Teng Hsiao-p'ing
, 1904󈟍, Chinese revolutionary and government leader, b. Sichuan prov. Deng became a member of the Chinese Communist party while studying in France (1920󈞅) and later (1926) attended Sun Yatsen Univ., Moscow.
. Click the link for more information. , slowly regained power, pushing aside Mao's successor, Hua Guofeng Hua Guofeng
or Hua Kuo-feng
, 1920�, Chinese Communist leader. He was relatively unknown until he became minister of public security and deputy premier in 1975. As Mao Zedong's designated heir, he became premier following Zhou Enlai's death (Jan.
. Click the link for more information. , and erasing the cult surrounding Mao. Mao's embalmed body is displayed in a mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

Bibliography

See his Selected Works (4 vol., 1954󈞤, repr. 1961󈞭), Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (ed. by S. R. Schram, 1967), and Poems (tr. 1972). See also biographies by R. Terrill (1980), P. Short (2000), J. Spence (2000), J. Chang and J. Halliday (2005), and A. V. Pantsov and S. I. Levine (2012) S. Karnow, Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution (1972) J. B. Starr, Continuing the Revolution: The Political Thought of Mao (1977) S. R. Schram, Mao Zedong: A Preliminary Reassessment (1983) J. Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (2019).


Contents

Failure of the Second International Edit

Differences between the revolutionary and reformist wings of the workers' movement had been increasing for decades, but the outbreak of World War I was the catalyst for their separation. The Triple Alliance comprised two empires, while the Triple Entente was formed by three. Socialists had historically been anti-war and internationalist, fighting against what they perceived as militarist exploitation of the proletariat for bourgeois states. A majority of socialists voted in favor of resolutions for the Second International to call upon the international working class to resist war if it were declared. [5]

But after the beginning of World War I, many European socialist parties announced support for the war effort of their respective nations. [6] Exceptions were the British Labour Party and the socialist party of the Balkans [ which? ] . To Vladimir Lenin's surprise, even the Social Democratic Party of Germany voted in favor of war. After influential anti-war French Socialist Jean Jaurès was assassinated on 31 July 1914, the socialist parties hardened their support in France for their government of national unity.

Socialist parties in neutral countries mostly supported neutrality, rather than totally opposing the war. On the other hand, during the 1915 Zimmerwald Conference, Lenin, then a Swiss resident refugee, organized an opposition to the "imperialist war" as the Zimmerwald Left, publishing the pamphlet Socialism and War where he called socialists collaborating with their national governments social chauvinists, i.e. socialists in word, but nationalists in deed. [7] The Zimmerwald Left produced no practical advice for how to initiate socialist revolt. [8]

The Second International divided into a revolutionary left-wing, a moderate center-wing, and a more reformist right-wing. Lenin condemned much of the center as "social pacifists" for several reasons, including their vote for war credits despite publicly opposing the war. Lenin's term "social pacifist" aimed in particular at Ramsay MacDonald, leader of the Independent Labour Party in Britain, who opposed the war on grounds of pacifism but did not actively fight against it.

Discredited by its apathy towards world events, the Second International dissolved in 1916. In 1917, after the February Revolution overthrew the Romanov Dynasty, Lenin published the April Theses which openly supported revolutionary defeatism, where the Bolsheviks hoped that Russia would lose the war so that they could quickly cause a socialist insurrection. [9]

Impact of the Russian Revolution Edit

The victory of the Russian Communist Party in the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917 was felt throughout the world and an alternative path to power to parliamentary politics was demonstrated. With much of Europe on the verge of economic and political collapse in the aftermath of the carnage of World War I, revolutionary sentiments were widespread. The Russian Bolsheviks headed by Lenin believed that unless socialist revolution swept Europe, they would be crushed by the military might of world capitalism just as the Paris Commune had been crushed by force of arms in 1871. The Bolsheviks believed that this required a new international to foment revolution in Europe and around the world.

During this early period (1919-1924), known as the First Period in Comintern history, with the Bolshevik Revolution under attack in the Russian Civil War and a wave of revolutions across Europe, the Comintern's priority was exporting the October Revolution. Some communist parties had secret military wings. One example is the M-Apparat of the Communist Party of Germany. Its purpose was to prepare for the civil war the Communists believed was impending in Germany and to liquidate opponents and informers who might have infiltrated the party. There was also a paramilitary organization called the Rotfrontkämpferbund. [10]

The Comintern was involved in the revolutions across Europe in this period, starting with the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919. Several hundred agitators and financial aid were sent from the Soviet Union and Lenin was in regular contact with its leader Béla Kun. Soon, an official Terror Group of the Revolutionary Council of the Government was formed, unofficially known as Lenin Boys. [11] The next attempt was the March Action in Germany in 1921, including an attempt to dynamite the express train from Halle to Leipzig. After this failed, the Communist Party of Germany expelled its former chairman Paul Levi from the party for publicly criticising the March Action in a pamphlet, [12] which was ratified by the Executive Committee of the Communist International prior to the Third Congress. [13] A new attempt was made at the time of the Ruhr crisis in spring and then again in selected parts of Germany in the autumn of 1923. The Red Army was mobilized, ready to come to the aid of the planned insurrection. Resolute action by the German government cancelled the plans, except due to miscommunication in Hamburg, where 200–300 Communists attacked police stations, but were quickly defeated. [14] In 1924, there was a failed coup in Estonia by the Estonian Communist Party. [15]

Founding Congress Edit

The Comintern was founded at a Congress held in Moscow on 2–6 March 1919. [16] It opened with a tribute to Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, recently murdered by the Freikorps during the Spartakus Uprising, [17] against the backdrop of the Russian Civil War. There were 52 delegates present from 34 parties. [18] They decided to form an Executive Committee with representatives of the most important sections and that other parties joining the International would have their own representatives. The Congress decided that the Executive Committee would elect a five-member bureau to run the daily affairs of the International. However, such a bureau was not formed and Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Christian Rakovsky later delegated the task of managing the International to Grigory Zinoviev as the Chairman of the Executive. Zinoviev was assisted by Angelica Balabanoff, acting as the secretary of the International, Victor L. Kibaltchitch [note 1] and Vladmir Ossipovich Mazin. [20] Lenin, Trotsky and Alexandra Kollontai presented material. The main topic of discussion was the difference between bourgeois democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat. [21]

The following parties and movements were invited to the Founding Congress:

    (Bolsheviks) (later became the Communist Party of Germany) (in power during Béla Kun's Hungarian Soviet Republic) (Ukrainian section of Russian Communist Party)
  • The revolutionary elements of the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party (who founded the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) (Tesnyatsi)
  • Left-wing of the Socialist Party of Romania (who would create the Romanian Communist Party)
  • Left-wing of the Serbian Social Democratic Party (later formed the League of Communists of Yugoslavia)
  • For Denmark, the Klassekampen group
  • Revolutionary elements of the Belgian Labour Party (who would create the Communist Party of Belgium in 1921)
  • Groups and organisations within the French socialist and syndicalist movements
  • Left-wing within the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland (later formed the Communist Party of Switzerland)
  • Revolutionary elements of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (formed the Spanish Communist Party and the Spanish Communist Workers' Party)
  • Revolutionary elements of the Portuguese Socialist Party (formed the Portuguese Maximalist Federation) (particularly the current represented by John Maclean) (United Kingdom) (United States)
  • Revolutionary elements of the workers' organisations of Ireland
  • Revolutionary elements among the Shop stewards (United Kingdom) (United States)
  • Left elements of the Socialist Party of America (the tendency represented by the Socialist Propaganda League of America, later formed the Communist Party USA) (international trade union based in the United States) (United States)
  • The Socialist groups of Tokyo and Yokohama (Japan, represented by Sen Katayama) (represented by Willi Münzenberg) [22]

Of these, the following attended (see list of delegates of the 1st Comintern congress): the communist parties of Russia, Germany, German Austria, Hungary, Poland, Finland, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Byelorussia, Estonia, Armenia, the Volga German region the Swedish Social Democratic Left Party (the opposition), Balkan Revolutionary People's of Russia Zimmerwald Left Wing of France the Czech, Bulgarian, Yugoslav, British, French and Swiss Communist Groups the Dutch Social-Democratic Group Socialist Propaganda League and the Socialist Labor Party of America Socialist Workers' Party of China Korean Workers' Union, Turkestan, Turkish, Georgian, Azerbaijanian and Persian Sections of the Central Bureau of the Eastern People's and the Zimmerwald Commission. [18] [note 2]

Zinoviev served as the first Chairman of the Comintern's Executive Committee from 1919 to 1926, but its dominant figure until his death in January 1924 was Lenin, whose strategy for revolution had been laid out in What Is to Be Done? (1902). The central policy of the Comintern under Lenin's leadership was that communist parties should be established across the world to aid the international proletarian revolution. The parties also shared his principle of democratic centralism (freedom of discussion, unity of action), namely that parties would make decisions democratically, but uphold in a disciplined fashion whatever decision was made. [24] In this period, the Comintern was promoted as the general staff of the world revolution. [25]

Second World Congress Edit

Ahead of the Second Congress of the Communist International, held in July through August 1920, Lenin sent out a number of documents, including his Twenty-one Conditions to all socialist parties. The Congress adopted the 21 conditions as prerequisites for any group wanting to become affiliated to the International. The 21 Conditions called for the demarcation between communist parties and other socialist groups [note 3] and instructed the Comintern sections not to trust the legality of the bourgeois states. They also called for the build-up of party organisations along democratic centralist lines in which the party press and parliamentary factions would be under the direct control of the party leadership.

Regarding the political situation in the colonized world, the Second Congress of the Communist International stipulated that a united front should be formed between the proletariat, peasantry and national bourgeoisie in the colonial countries. Amongst the twenty-one conditions drafted by Lenin ahead of the congress was the 11th thesis which stipulated that all communist parties must support the bourgeois-democratic liberation movements in the colonies. Notably, some of the delegates opposed the idea of alliance with the bourgeoisie and preferred giving support to communist movements in these countries instead. Their criticism was shared by the Indian revolutionary M. N. Roy, who attended as a delegate of the Mexican Communist Party. The Congress removed the term bourgeois-democratic in what became the 8th condition. [26]

Many European socialist parties divided because of the adhesion issue. The French Section of the Workers International (SFIO) thus broke away with the 1920 Tours Congress, leading to the creation of the new French Communist Party (initially called French Section of the Communist International – SFIC). The Communist Party of Spain was created in 1920, the Communist Party of Italy was created in 1921, the Belgian Communist Party in September 1921 and so on.

Third World Congress Edit

The Third Congress of the Communist International was held between 22 June–12 July 1921 in Moscow. [27]

Fourth World Congress Edit

The Fourth Congress, held in November 1922, at which Trotsky played a prominent role, continued in this vein. [28]

In 1924, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party joined Comintern. [29] At first, in China both the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang were supported. After the definite break with Chiang Kai-shek in 1927, Joseph Stalin sent personal emissaries to help organize revolts which at this time failed. [30]

The Fourth World Congress was coincidentally held within days of the March on Rome by Benito Mussolini and his PNF in Italy. Karl Radek lamented the proceedings in Italy as the "largest defeat suffered by socialism and communism since the beginning of the period of world revolution", and Zinoviev programmatically announced the similarities between fascism and social democracy, laying the groundwork for the later social fascism theory. [31]

Fifth to Seventh World Congresses: 1925–1935 Edit

Second Period Edit

Lenin died in 1924 and the next year saw a shift in the organization's focus from the immediate activity of world revolution towards a defence of the Soviet state. In that year, Joseph Stalin took power in Moscow and upheld the thesis of socialism in one country, detailed by Nikolai Bukharin in his brochure Can We Build Socialism in One Country in the Absence of the Victory of the West-European Proletariat? (April 1925). The position was finalized as the state policy after Stalin's January 1926 article On the Issues of Leninism. Stalin made the party line clear: "An internationalist is one who is ready to defend the USSR without reservation, without wavering, unconditionally for the USSR it is the base of the world revolutionary movement, and this revolutionary movement cannot be defended and promoted without defending the USSR". [32]

The dream of a world revolution was abandoned after the failures of the Spartacist uprising in Germany and of the Hungarian Soviet Republic and the failure of all revolutionary movements in Europe such as in Italy, where the fascist squadristi broke the strikes and quickly assumed power following the 1922 March on Rome. This period up to 1928 was known as the Second Period, mirroring the shift in the Soviet Union from war communism to the New Economic Policy. [33]

At the Fifth World Congress of the Comintern in July 1924, Zinoviev condemned both Marxist philosopher Georg Lukács's History and Class Consciousness, published in 1923 after his involvement in Béla Kun's Hungarian Soviet Republic, and Karl Korsch's Marxism and Philosophy. Zinoviev himself was dismissed in 1926 after falling out of favor with Stalin. Bukharin then led the Comintern for two years until 1928, when he too fell out with Stalin. Bulgarian Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov headed the Comintern in 1934 and presided until its dissolution.

Geoff Eley summed up the change in attitude at this time as follows:

By the Fifth Comintern Congress in July 1924 [. ] the collapse of Communist support in Europe tightened the pressure for conformity. A new policy of "Bolshevization" was adopted, which dragooned the CPs toward stricter bureaucratic centralism. This flattened out the earlier diversity of radicalisms, welding them into a single approved model of Communist organization. Only then did the new parties retreat from broader Left arenas into their own belligerent world, even if many local cultures of broader cooperation persisted. Respect for Bolshevik achievements and defense of the Russian Revolution now transmuted into dependency on Moscow and belief in Soviet infallibility. Depressing cycles of "internal rectification" began, disgracing and expelling successive leaderships, so that by the later 1920s many founding Communists had gone. This process of coordination, in a hard-faced drive for uniformity, was finalized at the next Congress of the Third International in 1928. [34]

The Comintern was a relatively small organization, but it devised novel ways of controlling communist parties around the world. In many places, there was a communist subculture, founded upon indigenous left-wing traditions which had never been controlled by Moscow. The Comintern attempted to establish control over party leaderships by sending agents who bolstered certain factions, by judicious use of secret funding, by expelling independent-minded activists and even by closing down entire national parties (such as the Communist Party of Poland in 1938). Above all, the Comintern exploited Soviet prestige in sharp contrast to the weaknesses of local parties that rarely had political power. [35] [36]

Communist front organizations Edit

Communist front organizations were set up to attract non-members who agreed with the party on certain specific points. Opposition to fascism was a common theme in the popular front era of the mid 1930s. [37] The well-known names and prestige of artists, intellectuals and other fellow travelers were used to advance party positions. They often came to the Soviet Union for propaganda tours praising the future. [38] Under the leadership of Zinoviev, the Comintern established fronts in many countries in the 1920s and after. [39] To coordinate their activities, the Comintern set up international umbrella organizations linking groups across national borders, such as the Young Communist International (youth), Profintern (trade unions), [40] Krestintern (peasants), International Red Aid (humanitarian aid), Sportintern (organized sports) and more. Front organizations were especially influential in France, which in 1933 became the base for communist front organizer Willi Münzenberg. [41] These organizations were dissolved in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Third Period Edit

In 1928, the Ninth Plenum of the Executive Committee began the so-called Third Period, which was to last until 1935. [42] The Comintern proclaimed that the capitalist system was entering the period of final collapse and therefore all communist parties were to adopt an aggressive and militant ultra-left line. In particular, the Comintern labelled all moderate left-wing parties social fascists and urged the communists to destroy the moderate left. With the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany after the 1930 federal election, this stance became controversial.

The Sixth World Congress also revised the policy of united front in the colonial world. In 1927 in China, the Kuomintang had turned on the Chinese Communist Party, which led to a review of the policy on forming alliances with the national bourgeoisie in the colonial countries. The Congress did make a differentiation between the character of the Chinese Kuomintang on one hand and the Indian Swaraj Party and the Egyptian Wafd Party on the other, considering the latter as an unreliable ally yet not a direct enemy. The Congress called on the Indian Communists to utilize the contradictions between the national bourgeoisie and the British imperialists. [43]

Seventh World Congress and the Popular Front Edit

The Seventh and last Congress of the Comintern was held between 25 July and 20 August 1935. It was attended by representatives of 65 communist parties. The main report was delivered by Dimitrov, other reports were delivered by Palmiro Togliatti, Wilhelm Pieck and Dmitry Manuilsky. [44] The Congress officially endorsed the popular front against fascism. This policy argued that communist parties should seek to form a popular front with all parties that opposed fascism and not limit themselves to forming a united front with those parties based in the working class. There was no significant opposition to this policy within any of the national sections of the Comintern. In France and Spain, it would have momentous consequences with Léon Blum's 1936 election which led to the Popular Front government.

Stalin's purges of the 1930s affected Comintern activists living in both the Soviet Union and overseas. At Stalin's direction, the Comintern was thoroughly infused with Soviet secret police and foreign intelligence operatives and informers working under Comintern guise. One of its leaders, Mikhail Trilisser, using the pseudonym Mikhail Aleksandrovich Moskvin, was in fact chief of the foreign department of the Soviet OGPU (later the NKVD). At Stalin's orders, 133 out of 492 Comintern staff members became victims of the Great Purge. Several hundred German communists and antifascists who had either fled from Nazi Germany or were convinced to relocate in the Soviet Union were liquidated and more than a thousand were handed over to Germany. [45] Fritz Platten died in a labor camp and the leaders of the Indian (Virendranath Chattopadhyaya or Chatto), Korean, Mexican, Iranian and Turkish communist parties were executed. Out of 11 Mongolian Communist Party leaders, only Khorloogiin Choibalsan survived. Leopold Trepper recalled these days: "In house, where the party activists of all the countries were living, no-one slept until 3 o'clock in the morning. [. ] Exactly 3 o'clock the car lights began to be seen [. ] we stayed near the window and waited [to find out], where the car stopped". [46]

Dissolution Edit

At the start of World War II, the Comintern supported a policy of non-intervention, arguing that the war was an imperialist war between various national ruling classes, much like World War I had been, but when the Soviet Union itself was invaded on 22 June 1941, the Comintern changed its position to one of active support for the Allies. On 15 May 1943, a declaration of the Executive Committee was sent out to all sections of the International, calling for the dissolution of the Comintern. The declaration read:

The historical role of the Communist International, organized in 1919 as a result of the political collapse of the overwhelming majority of the old pre-war workers' parties, consisted in that it preserved the teachings of Marxism from vulgarisation and distortion by opportunist elements of the labor movement. But long before the war it became increasingly clear that, to the extent that the internal as well as the international situation of individual countries became more complicated, the solution of the problems of the labor movement of each individual country through the medium of some international centre would meet with insuperable obstacles.

Concretely, the declaration asked the member sections to approve:

To dissolve the Communist International as a guiding centre of the international labor movement, releasing sections of the Communist International from the obligations ensuing from the constitution and decisions of the Congresses of the Communist International.

After endorsements of the declaration were received from the member sections, the International was dissolved. [47] The dissolution was interpreted as Stalin wishing to calm his World War II allies (particularly Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill) and to keep them from suspecting the Soviet Union of pursuing a policy of trying to foment revolution in other countries. [48]

Successor organizations Edit

The Research Institutes 100 and 205 worked for the International and later were moved to the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, founded at roughly the same time that the Comintern was abolished in 1943, although its specific duties during the first several years of its existence are unknown. [49] [50] [51]

Following the June 1947 Paris Conference on Marshall Aid, Stalin gathered a grouping of key European communist parties in September and set up the Cominform, or Communist Information Bureau, often seen as a substitute to the Comintern. It was a network made up of the communist parties of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia (led by Josip Broz Tito and expelled in June 1948). The Cominform was dissolved in 1956 following Stalin's 1953 death and the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

While the communist parties of the world no longer had a formal international organization, they continued to maintain close relations with each other through a series of international forums. In the period directly after the Comintern's dissolution, periodical meetings of communist parties were held in Moscow. Moreover, World Marxist Review, a joint periodical of the communist parties, played an important role in coordinating the communist movement up to the break-up of the Eastern Bloc in 1989–1991.

British historian Jonathan Haslam reports that even after in Moscow archives:

all references to the Communist International and later the international department of the central committee, which drove the revolutionary side of foreign policy, were removed from published diplomatic documents, in order to fit in with the prevailing dogma established by Vladimir Lenin that the Soviet Government had nothing to do with Comintern. I gave up co-editing a series of documents on Russo-American relations because my Russian colleague could not or would not get over that hurdle. Even today [2020], when the Russians are more liberal in their censorship of documentary publications, one has to verify where possible through other sources independent of Moscow. And although Comintern’s archives are available on the web, most of it them are still closed to the reader, even though officially declassified, and much of it is in German only. One always has to ask, what has been cut out deliberately? [52]

Several international organizations were sponsored by the Comintern in this period:

    (1919–1943) (Profintern, formed in 1920) (formed in 1920) (MOPR, formed in 1922) (Krestintern, formed in 1923) (Sportintern) (1925–1933) (formed in 1927)

The OMS (Russian: Отдел международной связи , otdel mezhdunarodnoy svyazi, ОМС ), also known in English as the International Liaison Department (1921–1939), [53] [54] was the most secret department of the Comintern. It has also been translated as the Illegal Liaison Section [55] [56] and Foreign Liaison Department. [57]

One historian has described:

The OMS was the Comintern's department for the coordination of subversive and conspiratorial activities. Some of its functions overlapped with those of the main Soviet intelligence agencies, the OGPU and the GRU, whose agents sometimes were assigned to the Comintern. But the OMS maintained its own set of operations and had its own representative on the central committees of each Communist party abroad. [56]

In 2012, historian David McKnight stated:

The most intense practical application of the conspiratorial work of the Comintern was carried out by its international liaison service, the OMS. This body undertook clandenstine courier activities and work which supported underground political activities. These included the transport of money and letters, the manufacture of passports and other false documents and technical support to underground parties, such as managing "safe houses" and establishing businesses overseas as cover activities. [53]


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