Communist Party of Finland. Report at the International Conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist international
Finnish participation in Comintern
In order for us to posit the question regarding the formation of a new communist international, we must assess and make clear on the historical circumstances during which the previous Comintern was founded, and the goals which were set for the organization. Our contribution to this discussion will be a short, critical analysis of the actions the finnish communists of the time took within the framework of the organizations tactics.
Aims and tactics
Important events had transpired leading up to the founding of Comintern in 1919. First, the Russian revolution, where the working class for the first time in history got ahold of state power, opening the way for socialist construction. Second, the revolutions in other countries, such as Germany and Finland, had failed. Together these events showed how to correctly act during revolutionary periods, and how to do so incorrectly. Thanks to these experiences, the role of the leninist party as a necessary tool in world revolution became apparent.
Bolshevization of the parties in the communist international
It was apparent that parties outside of Russia lacked an effective theoretical base. Measures needed to be taken for these parties to mature, and the terms of admission into the communist international were drafted as one way of achieving this aim. This process of maturing the parties was called bolshevization. Otto Wille Kuusinen, a theoretician in the Communist Party of Finland (SKP) and in the Communist International itself, outlined bolshevization to be “first… the correct leadership of a communist party; second, the correct leadership of the working masses; third, the correct leadership of the proletarian revolution; fourth, correct leadership in the battle against the enemies of the proletarian revolution.”
Bolshevization was very quickly adapted within the leadership of SKP, due to them being headquartered in Moscow and having close ties to the bolshevik party itself. This led to SKP following the soviet leadership very closely and often even uncritically. An example of this is the formation of the Finnish Democratic Republic (so called Terijoki government) during the war fought between Finland and USSR in 1939-1940 (so called winter war). The government, headed by Otto Wille Kuusinen, was supposed to represent the Finnish working class against the bourgeoisie, which drove Finland’s policy of militarism. The formation of this government was an error in judgement. It was not a tactic chosen by the communists in Finland or the leadership of the SKP, but the Soviet leadership. It was based on an incorrect assessment of status of the class struggle in Finland, and formulaically applied as part of Comintern’s popular front strategy. As such, it failed to garner the support of Finnish workers.
United front against fascism
The 6th congress of SKP in 1935, which was held immediately after the 7th congress of Comintern, saw the need to unite the entire working class against fascism. This was the most concrete example of comintern tactics applied by Finnish communists. To this end, communists started working within trade unions and the social democratic party. People were told to vote for anti-war candidates from the SDP and the centrist Agrarian League. An Agrarian League candidate was successfully elected as president with communist support. Trade union memberships rose, and SDP gained more members in the Finnish parliament. An anti-war left opposition was considered to be a sizable minority within the SDP. All of these things were seen as a success by the SKP.
How successful was this tactic in combating fascism? After the 1939 elections SDP had 85 members in the parliament out of 200, making it the largest single party by far. Despite this, however, only 6 members of parliament were later opposed to hostilities towards the Soviet Union. The government also used the bolstered trade unions to support its war efforts. SDP was one of the leading forces when Finland allied itself with Nazi Germany. Despite the fact that the bourgeois character of social democracy as the left wing of fascism was seen within the Comintern, the actions of SKP during the period only served to strengthen fascism.
How should international cooperation between communist parties be organized today?
It’s clear that the global issues wrought by capitalism are a sign of the imperialist stage maturing. The capitalist mode of production has overtaken the entire world. Natural resources, their transport routes, and commodity markets have been divided and are being fought over by large economic alliances and the companies representing them. The standardized pattern of crises which the capitalist mode of production faces needs to be met with organized class struggle on the part of the working class. The conditions now, however, are different from the ones wherein Comintern was founded. The proletariat of the world and the communist parties have ample experience of anti-capitalist struggle. There is no return to the rigid organizational structure of the old Comintern. The cooperation between parties needs to be arranged around internal communication as well as local and international meetings. A central issue within the cooperation between parties has to be the sharing of knowledge on the history and current state of their respective national class struggles. It’s central to strengthen the theoretical training of parties and their cadre. This means the systematic study of marxism leninism, of dialectical and historical materialism. It has to be in the parties’ activities.
The global imperialist stage of capitalism doesn’t necessarily mean the opening up of the prospect of world revolution right away. Class struggle is still local. We can learn from the struggles the working classes of other countries are going through. Their experiences will inspire the struggles within our own country. Informing others of the worldwide class struggle has to be made more systematic.
The victory of socialism on a worldwide scale must be advanced by clearing up our common content. Communist parties must stand clearly opposed to capitalism and imperialism. The goal of socialism must be clearly upheld, not as a rigid slogan, but as the end point of a revolutionary societal program. Communist Workers’ Party in Finland propagates breaking out of the European Union as a key to bringing the national class struggle to a head. A program of nationalization has to be enacted in tandem with the secession from the EU, as a part of the struggle for the control of natural resources, workforce, and capital within our borders.
In KTP we see that each party must be able to lead the working class in their country. Democratic centralism is an essential tool for the organizing of the internal structure of a party, but this is not the case when it comes to cooperation between parties. Parties must not meddle in each others’ internal affairs. We must respect the strategic and tactical choices other parties make in their struggle for socialism. It’s important to show solidarity for the national and local struggles the other parties lead.