WeeklyWorker

22.05.2014
Exploited by fathers and husbands

Exploitation and illusions about 'anti-imperialism'

Mike Macnair completes his reply to Ian Donovan

This is the second part of my reply to comrade Ian Donovan’s April 17 article, ‘Throwing babies out with the bathwater’. While the first part was on the ‘Soviet question’, this part will focus on issues of imperialism, ‘anti-imperialism’ and the ‘anti-imperialist united front’.

I invite readers to look back at my first article in this exchange, ‘Anti-imperialist illusions’ (March 20), since much of what Ian has written on this issue simply has no purchase on my arguments there. In particular, Ian makes an amalgam between my position and the very different, so-called ‘third camp’ positions of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty or the Iranian and Iraqi Hekmatists, who do promote illusions in imperialist ‘democracy’ (in this respect, in fact, the Hekmatists’ positions have got worse since 2004).

In spite of this dreadful confusion, however, the Hekmatists - among a number of other groups - were attempting to build workers’ class organisations in Iraq. And the workers’ class organisations which existed or were attempted to be built were targeted by the mosque-based militias in preference to targeting US and British forces (the Saudi-backed Sunni Islamists also targeted the Shia population, and the Shia Islamists the Sunni population), in contrast to the remnant-Ba’athist guerrillas, who did target the armed forces of the occupiers. To deny these facts or to attempt to prettify them, as Ian does, is to lie to the working class. More than anything else, “we must face the facts and call things by their right names; we must tell the workers the truth” (Lenin).1

I argue against promoting illusions in imperialist ‘democracy’, and that imperialist domination and imperialist military operations are to be unequivocally opposed - but that it weakens this opposition to imperialism for the working class movement, either in the colonised countries or the imperialist countries, to hitch its wagon to the initiatives of the ‘anti-imperialist’ petty bourgeoisie (or of pre-capitalist strata like landlords, priests, Buddhist monks or imams).

Ian, moreover, simply fails to engage with the absolute core of my argument both in relation to the ‘anti-imperialist front’ and in relation to Respect. That is, that attaining the class-political independence of the proletariat as a class - which has been lost over the 20th century through the nationalist class-collaborationism of social democracy, ‘official communism’ and its left variants - is a precondition for the ability of the workers’ movement to engage effective tactics towards the movements of the other subordinate classes.

As I said in the first part of this reply, I also invite readers to look at the articles making up the debate in this paper in 2004 and those I wrote on Iraq in 2004-08. It seems to me that Ian’s analysis of events (in the middle part of his April 17 article) is obviously characterised by rose-tinted self-deception as to the actual political dynamics of Iraq under imperialist occupation and of the ‘resistance’ groupings. I will add only one point. Ian alleges that Fallujah and Najaf/Karbala in spring 2004 were coordinated actions, rather than (as seems to me more likely) independent responses to the dreadful ‘Bremer regime’. But, even if they were coordinated, the problem would remain that the leaderships of these movements, by virtue of the sectarian banners under which they mobilised, could not create broader unity.

‘Divide and rule” is both a proverbial maxim of government and proverbially ancient: traditionally attributed, among others, to Philip of Macedon (382-336 BCE). It was particularly practised by the 19th and 20th century European colonial empires, and came to the centre of US geopolitical operations after the defeat of the ‘modernising’, ‘developmental’, semi-colonial orientation in Indochina. Sectionalist ideologies of revolt play into the hands of this imperial policy.

The various militias in occupied Iraq were particularly transparent examples of this problem, and at the end of the day the US was able to defeat them in detail. The resulting regime is sectarian and close to Iran. It does not correspond to the ‘neocon’ (always utopian) ideology of creating a liberal regime in Iraq by invasion, demolishing the Ba’athist state and economic ‘shock therapy’. But none of this is the same thing as a defeat for the US state’s imperial project, which was never really about this ideology, but always a continuation of existing US policy. Since the failure in Vietnam, this policy has been mainly about inflicting destruction on its targets, and thereby re-demonstrating the US’s top-dog status to those who were tempted to defy US orders (in the periphery countries) or to manoeuvre for long-term potential rivalry with the US (in Europe and China).

Anti-imperialism

Ian says (of the Irish civil war): “The fact that one side was then fighting imperialism while the other was killing them on imperialism’s behalf is a difference that compels Marxists to take sides”; and later, on (hypothetical) uprisings led by the South African ANC: “... a refusal to take such a public side in such uprisings would be rightly seen as shameful.”2 This is not an argument, but a mere reassertion of his position that it is necessary to ‘take a public side’.

It should be clear, then, that for Ian it is not sufficient to publicly advocate the defeat of UK military operations overseas (CPGB did so in the Iraq war) nor to argue practically for the creation of the most effective possible anti-war movement as the only way possible to contribute to such a defeat (again our policy throughout the war). ‘Taking a public side’ is for Ian the essential dividing line.

He makes four substantive arguments on the issue. In the order in which they appear in his article, they are, first,

The early Comintern’s ‘anti-imperialist united front’ (AIUF) is a complete red herring in this debate. That was about some level of political bloc between the Soviet government and various leaderships of colonial liberation movements, some of whom had achieved governmental power. It is perfectly possible to reject such blocs, and still advocate taking sides with uprisings led by such forces.

Second,

Mike asks whether various bourgeois and petty bourgeois trends which lead oppressed masses in struggles - for instance, in underdeveloped countries subject to imperialist aggression - should be regarded as part of the camp of the proletariat. Obviously with regard to the leaders themselves, the answer is usually no. But that does not exhaust the question. What of the masses that participate in such struggles? Even when they are not directly part of the working class, as in oppressed sections of the petty bourgeoisie, the peasantry, etc, they are still part of our constituency, insofar as there is a democratic content to their struggles.

Third,

... whatever similarities may have existed between the colonial adventures, slavery and the like of early capitalism, and the imperialism that emerged in the late 19th century, the distinction between a social system in its period of ascent, despite its brutalities, playing a progressive role and qualitatively increasing the productive power of humanity, and the imperialism of the 20th century onwards, which threatens to destroy all these advances and more, plunging humanity into barbarism, is fundamental.

And fourth,

any of the things he seeks to throw overboard - support for the struggles of peoples in underdeveloped countries against imperialist aggression - are not post-1917 deformations, but basic components of the socialist programme, going back to 1885, when the British Marxist pioneer, William Morris, gave courageous public support to the resistance in Sudan led by Mohammad Ahmad ‘al-Mahdi’ against the British general Gordon (which resulted in Gordon’s death).

Ian’s argument on Respect merely follows from his argument on imperialism and ‘taking public sides’. That is, first, he claims (I would guess falsely, though I do not have time to look them up) that none of the old ‘official’ CPGB’s ‘unpopular fronts’ ever supported resistance to the British in the colonies3; and, second, he says that Respect

actually bore real resemblance to an electoral version of the early Comintern’s ‘anti-imperialist united front’, which Mike was misanalogising in his article. Far from being the kind of counterrevolutionary instrument that the Stalinist popular fronts were, this was a flawed tactic aimed at promoting real struggle against imperialism and hopefully (in the eyes of its revolutionary component) a bridge to revolution.

In other words, for Ian, Respect’s anti-imperialist character overrode the fact that George Galloway’s position was explicitly the old ‘official communist’ project of a cross-class front or a ‘rainbow coalition’ along the lines of the campaign of left Democrat Jesse Jackson in the US; that the project correspondingly involved local careerists capable of moving from Labour to Respect and back, or to the Lib Dems or the Tories (documented in the Weekly Worker in the period); and that the Socialist Workers Party leadership round John Rees and Lindsey German was so determined to have a project consisting of the SWP and forces to its right that it actually functioned itself as the right, deferring to a shadow of the petty bourgeoisie in the same way that (for Trotsky) the old mass communist parties, dealing (unlike the SWP) with real mass movements, deferred to what was no more than a shadow of the bourgeoisie.4

There is nothing, therefore, to be said about Respect which is independent of the question of imperialism.

The order in which the four arguments appear in Ian’s article is not a logical order. I will respond to them in something more like a logical order: first, the issue of imperialism and capitalist decline; second, Ian’s argument that “oppressed sections of the petty bourgeoisie, the peasantry, etc ... are still part of our constituency ...”; third, Ian’s appeal to William Morris’s public statements in 1885; and fourth, his point on the Comintern’s ‘anti-imperialist united front’ line, which is a trivial historical error, but by being an error evades the basic problem.

In all of what follows, as on the Soviet question in the first part of this reply, I defend mainly my own positions, rather than the CPGB’s.

Decline and imperialism

There is a small step forward in Ian’s argument, in that he admits that there are “similarities ... between the colonial adventures, slavery and the like of early capitalism, and the imperialism that emerged in the late 19th century”. The essential point he fails to admit, which I have argued clearly in my introduction to Karl Kautsky on colonialism,5 is that there is no historical discontinuity between these phenomena: what changed in the later 19th century was merely that British imperialism, which was continuous throughout the period, encountered new and more serious competitors (France, USA, Germany), leading to an increase in formal colonialism; and that the Tories, facing the increased political significance of the working class after the Reform Act 1867, revived the 18th century ideology6 of British imperialism. The first of these points, that the growth of formal colonialism resulted from British responses to relative decline, was already clear to some of the Second International theorists.7

Ian argues that “the distinction between a social system in its period of ascent, despite its brutalities, playing a progressive role and qualitatively increasing the productive power of humanity, and the imperialism of the 20th century onwards, which threatens to destroy all these advances and more, plunging humanity into barbarism, is fundamental.” But, first, this in effect underestimates the barbarism of the “progressive” phase of capitalism - the genocide of the native inhabitants of the Americas, the devastating effects on Africa of the Atlantic slave trade, and so on. And, second, it implicitly denies what is completely obvious: that 20th century capitalism has continued to ‘qualitatively increase the productive power of humanity’. It is a grim paradox, but completely characteristic of capitalism, that one of the key symptoms of this increase should be 202 million people unemployed worldwide in 20138 - but without those 202 million immediately starving.

Capitalism is in decline at its core, and has been since the mid-19th century, as the capitalist class began to be more concerned about the problem of managing the proletariat than about developing and extending free markets. This turn was displayed not by continental European capitalist ‘timidity’ in 1848-49, which was merely normal capitalist behaviour in revolutionary crises (a more rapid movement from revolution to restoration than occurred in 1641-60 and in 1789-99, but still the same dynamic).9 Rather, in England the Ten Hour Act (1847) and other Factories Acts, on the one side, and the Limited Liability Act 1855, on the other, were concessions to the working class and the middle classes respectively, which undermined capitalist market incentives. This dynamic towards statified regulated capitalism - real statified capitalism, as opposed to Stamokap or the illusion of Soviet ‘state’ or ‘statified’ capitalism - has continued down to the present day, even if neoliberalism has been accompanied by fake privatisations and a shift of subsidies increasingly towards the middle rather than the working classes.

But, while capitalism has been in decline at its core, it has continued to expand at the periphery, at the expense of pre-capitalist forms of production and social relations, and of peasant and artisan production. And it has continued to expand in the sense of revolutionising the forces of production. It is increasingly unable to control and regulate them and they increasingly tend to turn into forces of destruction - both in the danger of wars with increasingly destructive weapons and in environmental destruction (on the largest scale in human-induced climate change). These developments indicate that a fundamental reorientation - away from the random ‘growth’ capitalism produces, and towards maximising human development, the aim of communism - is increasingly urgent.

It is clear, however, that the belief shared by the majority of the Second International theorists of imperialism and the Comintern theorists from Lenin on, and most spectacularly asserted in Trotsky’s Transitional programme - that imperialism was a new result of the tendency of ‘national’ capitalism to overproduction and towards Zusammenbruch (general economic breakdown) - was false. The great world crisis of 1914-45 was a crisis of British world hegemony and British financial tribute and, once this had been got rid of and a new hegemon state - the USA - emerged, a new period of development could and did occur. As I have argued before,10 the 2008 crisis, its dreadful results in periphery countries and its dragging-on aftermath result, in the end, from the relative decline of the USA and its regime of tribute-extraction.

Capitalism generally develops faster than previous modes of production. We can therefore expect capitalist decline to proceed faster than the decline of the slave-owner urbanism of classical antiquity (roughly 1st century AD to 5th century in the west) or of feudalism (roughly 12th to 18th century). What we cannot and should not do is to infer that capitalism is immediately at a dead end, with the result that the only option for the subordinated classes other than the proletariat is socialism, hence that a strategic alliance between the proletariat and these classes is possible and necessary or that the rising of the other subordinated classes or groups in itself promotes the proletarian cause.

‘Our constituency’

In my original March 20 reply to Ian, I posed the question whether “any political group or movement ... is part of the class camp of the proletariat, or of the capitalist camp”, and argued that neither conflict with the currently dominant capitals nor social oppression makes any group part of the class camp of the proletariat. In the absence of a strong proletarian pole, I argued, movements based in the middle classes will not gravitate to the class camp of the proletariat, but merely form contradictions within the class camp of capital. Hence the task facing us is first to develop proletarian class-political independence, before an effective proletarian party can pursue tactics towards this or that part of the middle strata. Ian counters that “the masses that participate in such struggles ... [e]ven when they are not directly part of the working class, as in oppressed sections of the petty bourgeoisie, the peasantry, etc, ... are still part of our constituency, insofar as there is a democratic content to their struggles”.

Here Ian slips from “class camp” to “constituency”. It is an important slippage, because his argument in his March 20 article, retained in the ‘third camp’ discussion in his April 17 reply, was about class camps, whereas ‘constituency’ means something quite different.

It is necessary to go back to ABCs here. Marxists are not in the first place anti-imperialists; or democrats; or tribunes of the oppressed; though we need in immediate politics to be all of these things. We are advocates of a fundamental transformation of society - communism - which can eliminate the basic drivers of all forms of oppression. We are, in particular, advocates of the view that this transformation can only come about through the emancipation of the proletariat, the class of wage-workers who lack productive property, and the dictatorship of the proletariat, working class rule over the society.

Why? The point is very basic. Communism has been desirable for humans - or at least for the subordinate classes - since the fall of the ‘primitive communism’ of the hunter-gatherer society, in which our basic human nature evolved. Hence the repeated appearance of utopian ideas of communism from antiquity onwards. But it has not been possible until the development of capitalism.

This impossibility is in part a matter of the state of development of the forces of production: once the conditions of hunter-gatherer existence had ceased to be generally available, the burden of feeding human societies drove the formation of social hierarchies. In classical antiquity, low levels of productive technology produced domestic slavery; in the feudal middle ages, the development of water-mills and other technology allowed a loosening of the bonds of unfreedom to villeinage; in capitalism, further development allowed wage-labour to become the dominant form; as capitalism has further revolutionised the forces of production, it has created the conditions for rotational employment and the overcoming of the ‘division between mental and manual labour’ (ie, between those who spend their lives making decisions and those who do as they are told).

In part, however, it is because in all pre-capitalist societies the predominant form of organisation of basic reproduction and production is petty production based on the labour of the family household. Though this is in fact part of a wider technical and social division of labour, the conditions of existence of peasant petty proprietors tend to lead them to imagine that they could withdraw from the wider division of labour into autarkic family production, and hence that the surplus product drawn from them by other elements of the society is merely exploitative. The peasant petty proprietors are hence on the whole incapable of seeing themselves as merely an element in a broader social division of labour or transcending the basic idea of private property.

Urban petty proprietors cannot escape seeing themselves as members of an extended division of labour, which is why they have formed in the past the episodic social basis of utopian communism. But they share with peasants two features which make it impossible for them to introduce communism. The first is that they own their means of petty production; the second that they exploit the labour of their children (and very commonly of their wives) and through this exploitation can accumulate and improve their social position. For both reasons, society always contains classes below the petty proprietors: slaves, unskilled wage labourers and the beggar/criminal ‘lumpenproletariat’. These characteristics mean that the adult, male, urban petty proprietors cannot consistently fight for a world without private property or a world of real human equality, freedom and self-realisation.

The logic of these phenomena is that the small proprietor classes - peasants and artisans, and their equivalents under capitalism - require a ‘man on horseback’ (either a ruling class or an absolutist state) to rule over them. Absolute monarchy, the ‘mandate of heaven’, Bonapartism - and in the modern world Stalinism and Stalinoid nationalisms like Ba’athism - are the natural political expression of the petty proprietor class, and the idea that this class is really ‘democratic’ in character is an illusion.

Capitalism, by making the propertyless wage-workers into the main productive class, creates the conditions to overcome these problems. Even if the male wage-worker benefits in some sense from female domestic labour, he cannot accumulate through it. And the workers in general cannot permanently have the illusion of a rural or small-town solution to their persistent problems - in work, of employer pressure on wages and hours; and in and out of work, of unstable employment.

This returns me to my original point. If the proletariat develops a strong, politically independent movement for its own interests, sections of the middle classes can be won over. But if socialists counterpose the need to win ‘constituencies’ of the non-proletarian oppressed to proletarian class-political independence, they make the proletariat into a tail of the non-proletarian movement. Ian’s insistence on ‘taking public sides’ has exactly this effect.

From Morris to ...

Ian cites William Morris in 1885 as the precursor to “support for the struggles of peoples in underdeveloped countries against imperialist aggression” - meaning, in Ian’s terms, publicly taking sides. It is worth noting two facts about this antecedent. First, in the following year Engels repeatedly described Morris as a “sentimental socialist”.11 While the common view is that Engels’ criticism of Morris was primarily addressed to his anti-parliamentarism and friendliness to the anarchists, at this period, his verbal ‘public taking sides’ with the Mahdi movement in Sudan could also be seen as “sentimental socialism”.

Secondly, the theoretical basis of Morris’s position is quite clearly given by his co-thinker at the time, Ernest Belfort Bax (inter alia socialist campaigner against the emancipation of women), in an article in Commonweal. For Morris and Bax, to support the victory of pre-capitalist classes against capital was both ethically superior and - for Bax - would hasten the Zusammenbruch, because imperialism was a response to capitalist ‘overdevelopment’ within national borders.12

Bax’s theory of imperialism then passed into the German Social Democratic Party and the Second International through the Bernstein-Bax debate of 1896-97.13 In this debate the broad lines of analysis, ultimately derived from Bax, became the dominant orthodoxy, and this orthodoxy is reproduced in Lenin’s Imperialism, the highest stage.

The result of this is that I feel not the slightest embarrassment at being accused by Ian of departing from a “basic component of the socialist programme” on the basis of a quotation, not from the Communist manifesto or any other programmatic text, but from William Morris. Bax’s theory of imperialism was false in its foundations (the ideas of a past national capitalism and an imminent Zusammenbruch) and, in my opinion, while it was substantially improved by the discussions in the Second International and Comintern, one of the main lessons of the 20th century is the falsity of the basic ideas in question.

To say this is not in the least to endorse Bernstein’s arguments in 1896 or his and other revisionists’ claim that imperialism spread European ‘civilisation’, still less his Fabian gradualism. It is merely to say that the victory of ‘national bourgeoisies’ and other ‘anti-imperialists’ is not necessarily a victory for the proletariat at all. Witness - for example - Iran or South Africa.

Anti-imperialist united front

Ian claims that the idea of the anti-imperialist united front (AIUF) “was about some level of political bloc between the Soviet government and various leaderships of colonial liberation movements”. This is rubbish, and to see that it is rubbish it is only necessary to look at the documents available on the Marxists Internet Archive, particularly the section on the AIUF in the 1922 Fourth Congress Theses on the eastern question. It was a policy for the communist parties in the colonial and semi-colonial countries.14

Once we go back to the documents, two things become clear. The first is that the Comintern demanded of the communists in the imperialist countries not gestures, but agitation against colonialism and colonial wars, including in the armed forces, and practical aid, primarily to the colonial communist parties. The policy of the US Socialist Workers Party in the Vietnam war - of building the strongest possible movement for withdrawal of troops, as opposed to a weaker movement for ‘Victory to the NLF’ - implemented the Comintern policy in this respect, as opposed to its ultra-left opponents, whom Ian follows.

The second is that the Comintern leaders were fully aware of the tension in the AIUF policy between common action with non-proletarian opponents of imperialism and the development of proletarian class-political independence.15 It is partly for this reason that I say above that the Comintern “improved” Bax’s theory. I do not charge the early Comintern with abandoning class-political independence for the sake of alliances with anti-imperialist forces, but of underestimating the difficulties of this alliance policy because of a foreshortened concept of the decline of capitalism.

What has happened to ‘anti-imperialist’ politics since, which Ian defends, is a caricature of the policy of the early Comintern. The roots of this caricature are two. The first is what became the people’s front policy. The second is the attempts of small groups of Trotskyists, who formally rejected the people’s front policy, to go round the existing workers’ parties - notably the ‘official communist’ parties - by appealing directly to the masses with a simplified version of Comintern policy.

Without a serious communist party the question of the workers’ united front is posed only in the form of communist participation in trade unions and in mass actions called by the existing mass workers’ parties.16 All the more, the absence of communist parties organising significant forces and capable of independent action effectively renders any AIUF nothing but a tailing of non-proletarian forces. The Fourth Congress Theses make the point explicitly: “The workers’ movement in the colonial and semi-colonial countries must first of all establish itself as an independent revolutionary factor in the common anti-imperialist front. Only when its importance as an independent factor is recognised and its complete political autonomy secured can temporary agreements with bourgeois democracy be considered permissible or necessary.”

In other words, my ‘revisionism’ on the AIUF - which is real - leads, paradoxical as this may seem, to practical conclusions closer to the actual policy of the early Comintern than Ian’s far-left ‘orthodoxy’ does.

mike.macnair@weeklyworker.org.uk

Notes

1. ‘The Collapse of the Second International’ (1915): www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1915/csi/i.htm. Trotsky made the same point on numerous occasions, though he qualified it in discussions with American Socialist Workers Party leaders on the Transitional programme by commenting: “We do not have the right to lie to them, but we must present to them the truth in such form, at such time, in such place, that they can accept it” (New York 1977, p232). Even this qualification still does not legitimate prettifying the nationalist or religious opponents of imperialism.

2. Actually, it is not at all clear that taking the anti-treaty side in a civil war after the international revolutionary wave had ebbed was strategically beneficial to the new-born Communist Party of Ireland (for the history, see E O’Connor, ‘Communists, Russia and the IRA, 1920-23’ The Historical Journal No46 (2003), pp115-131). As to the ANC, though communists were certainly right to defend the militants of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, when they were arrested, etc, it is perfectly clear from the course of events that the armed struggle was delusive and mass movements in South Africa - black consciousness movement, Cosatu unions - initially outside the ANC orbit, were more important than the ANC’s strategy, though the ANC was eventually able to hegemonise the trade union movement because it offered a political perspective.

3. I should also say that I do not think Respect as such ever adopted the position of ‘Victory to the Iraqi resistance’, as opposed to individual leaders like Galloway and Rees making pro-‘Iraqi resistance’ statements on public platforms.

4. L Trotsky, ‘Lessons of Spain’ (1937), subheaded ‘Alliance with the bourgeoisie’s shadow’: www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/xx/spain01.htm.

5. London 2013.

6. On its 18th century presence see, for example, K Wilson The sense of the people: politics, culture and imperialism in England, 1715-1785 Cambridge 1998.

7. Particularly Max Beer, Heinrich Cunow and others. See RB Day and D Gaido Discovering imperialism Leiden 2012.

8. www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/global-employment-trends/2014/WCMS_233953/lang--en/index.htm.

9. M Mulholland Bourgeois liberty and the politics of fear (Oxford 2012) is helpful on the issue.

10. ‘World politics, long waves and the decline of capitalism’ Weekly Worker January 7 2010.

11. Engels to Sorge, April 29 1886 MECW Vol 47, pp439-44; Engels to Bebel, August 18 1886 MECW Vol 47, pp468-71; Engels to Laura Lafargue, September 13 1886 MECW Vol 47 pp482-85. The tag was originally applied to Morris by Kautsky in 1884 (reported by Bax in Justice March 1884: www.marxists.org/archive/bax/1884/03/germanpress.htm); Engels’ response to Kautsky was: “... the Morris affair is of no significance; they are a muddle-headed lot” (March 24 1884 MECW Vol 47, pp120-21). Kautsky’s letter to Engels, which attributes the tag to Eleanor Marx (not improbable, given Engels’ later use of it), is translated by Bruce Robinson for Paul Hampton’s article at www.workersliberty.org/story/2008/12/04/william-morris-romantic-or-revolutionary.

12. ‘Imperialism and socialism’ Commonweal February 1885, pp2-3: www.marxists.org/archive/bax/1885/02/imperialism.htm.

13. H Tudor and JM Tudor Marxism and social democracy Cambridge 1988, chapter 2; RB Day and D Gaido Discovering imperialism Leiden 2012.

14. www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/4th-congress/eastern-question.htm. It is true that the 1920 Second Congress Theses on the national and colonial question (Lenin’s draft at www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/jun/05.htm) place more emphasis on the question of alliances between the Soviet state and the national-revolutionary movements. But the Fourth Congress theses are the immediate source of the AIUF policy.

15. See the documents referred to in note 14, the Second Congress discussions collected at www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/2nd-congress/index.htm, and the Fourth Congress discussions in J Riddell (ed) Toward the united front Leiden 2012, pp649-736 (notably Radek’s reply to the debate).

16. L Trotsky, ‘On the united front’ (March 1922), point 3: www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1924/ffyci-2/08.htm.