Bolshevising the Comintern, 1924–8

  • Kevin McDermott
  • Jeremy Agnew


The fiasco of the ‘German October’, the intensification of the inner-party struggle in Soviet Russia and the first real glimmerings of capitalist stabilisation plunged the Comintern into crisis. Against all expectations the European revolution had failed to materialise. The USSR stood alone and isolated. Factional disputes threatened the orderly functioning of the Comintern and the communist parties. Lenin’s untimely demise in January 1924 threw the Bolsheviks into even greater confusion and placed at stake the future direction of the Russian Revolution. The ensuing life and death struggle in the Russian party saw the rise to power of Stalin, a rise accompanied by a process of centralisation and bureaucratisation that was to have a profound and lasting impact on the international communist movement. This process was immensely complex, reflecting the subtle tactical shifts and manoeuvrings of the various protagonists in the battle for Lenin’s mantle. Ideological and operational formulas that became commonplace in the RCP found their way almost irresistibly into the Comintern. If the Russian party was to denounce and ultimately be purged of ‘oppositionists’ and ‘deviationists’, so too was the Comintern and its member sections. Stalin developed a particular penchant for these activities.


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© Kevin McDermott and Jeremy Agnew 1996

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  • Kevin McDermott
  • Jeremy Agnew

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