What is the Third International?

Errico Malatesta

Umanità Nova, 20 July 1920[1]

Maxim (we would like to state his name to give full weight to his words, but we are not authorised to do so) Maxim therefore writes:

The Socialist Party is not the Third International, any more than its “abstentionist communist” fraction is. So why waste precious time with the abstainers of the SP instead of trying to find out whether or not there are insurmountable differences between the communist-anarchists and the Third International which is, in reality, the engine of the world revolution? You wait to “know what its programme is” (U.N. of May 22); it seems to me, on the contrary, that so many genuine documents of the Third International have already been published in Italy that, with a little goodwill, everyone can get an exact idea not only of its programme but also of how this programme is being applied.”

Without a doubt. But then, who are the members of the Third International in Italy? Not the socialists, nor their abstentionist-communist fraction, not the anarchists of course, since they are against dictatorship, and the reformists even less so. So who?

And how to explain the presence of socialist officials, including D’Aragona, at the Moscow Congress? And the vote of solidarity with the Third International at the Congress of the Confederation of Labour held the other day in Bologna?

In reality, Maxim considers as genuine documents of the Third International those documents which emanate exclusively from the Russians.

But, as far as I know, Lenin is not yet dictator of the world; what Lenin and his followers say therefore represents, for us, the idea of the founders of the Third International, the programme which they propose and defend, but not the programme of the Association as long as it has not been formulated and approved by the adherents of the different nations and until its acceptance has become a condition for full admission.

Our position of expectation still seems fully justified to us.

End Notes

[1] “Qu’est-ce que la Troisième Internationale ?”, Anarchistes, Socialistes et Communistes (Annecy: Group 1er Mai, 1982).