Fred Weston, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the revolutionary heritage of the Third (Communist) International on the centennial of its founding at our 2019 National School, which took place in Pittsburgh on May 25–26.
The Comintern was the only truly massive revolutionary international. The Second (Socialist) International was a mass organization, but it was dominated by reformists and ended up supporting the war efforts in 1914. As a result, a new international was needed to represent genuine Marxism.
The first congress of the Comintern was held in 1919 in Moscow, with 51 delegates from 22 countries. By 1921, the Comintern grew significantly, due to the revolutionary energy generated from the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution. New Communist parties arose in Germany, France, Italy, Britain, the United States, and dozens of other countries—many emerging as left-wing splits from Socialist Parties.
The Third International provided a platform for revolutionaries to share their experience and give guidance to the newly-formed Communist parties in a period filled with revolutionary potential. Its main goal was to spread the socialist revolution beyond soviet borders to the rest of the world, which would have completely transformed the course of history. The first four congresses of the Comintern are a treasure trove of Marxist theory, a testament to the gains of the working class in its strongest attempt as of yet to defeat capitalism.