The Communist Left in Russia after 1920 - Ian Hebbes


A re-evaluation by the late Ian Hebbes of the continued existence of a Left Communist opposition within the USSR up until the 1930s.

Submitted by Red Marriott on September 2, 2007

(Ian Hebbes)


This text focuses on the activity of the communist left in Russia after 1920. The groups covered constituted the left wing of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik), RCP(B), and had their origins in the Left Communist fraction of 1918. Those few historians who have dealt with this early Left Communist fraction have failed to show how this current, that only narrowly failed to win a majority in both the Party central organs and the workers’ Soviets for its views, could disappear without trace. The near totality of commentators see the later left communist groups as either extensions of quite different political tendencies (i.e. the Workers Opposition) and/or as groups which ceased to exist in the early 1920s due to repression. The choice of the period after 1920 is based on the fact that most accounts cease to deal with the communist left as an organised force after this period, or see it as merely existing in the period of 1920-1921, and then as a phenomenon isolated from the early left communist fraction of 1918-1919. In order to establish the continuity of the later work of the communist left with its predecessors and counterpose this to the prevailing myth maintained by almost everyone that the Bolshevik Communist/Left Opposition were the sole opposition in the late 1920s and 1930s.

The attempt to eliminate the communist left from the historical record as an organised force inside Russia is a reflection of social reality. The communist left were a minoritarian force, numerically weak and dispersed by the growing terror of the counter-revolution. Existing in conditions of total clandestinity few of their documents reached the west, and the main primary sources exist only in tiny left communist journals of the 1920s which even the largest archives overlook. The rarity of these documents and the scarcity of information make it impossible to gain more than an impression of the evolution of these groups and the relations between them. But enough materials exist to affirm the continued existence of the communist left and their influence on the better known currents such as the Left Opposition and the Democratic Centralists.


It is no accident that one of the most obscure groups of the communist left that fought inside and outside the RCP(B) should emerge in Moscow. This was one of the centres of the militant proletariat and had from 1917 onwards been a bastion of the Left Communist Fraction in 1918 and of the Democratic Centralists who still retained an influence amongst the workers and within the Party despite repeated purges, transfers and other acts of bureaucratic repression. Neither R.V. Daniels, L. Schapiro nor E.H. Carr refers to this group whose documents are more accessible than other smaller breakaways from the RCP(B). The main source for this group’s writings in English is the Workers Dreadnought of 1922. The first document from the Group of Revolutionary Left Communists (CWP) of Russia appears in vol. IX no.12 June 3rd. It announces that the group has ‘left the social democratic Russian Communist Party’ and supports the setting up of the 4th International with the KAPD (Communist Workers Party of Germany), KAPN (Communist Workers Party of the Netherlands) and the CWP (Workers Dreadnought) as well as the Bulgarian Communist Left. This statement suggests that the group in Moscow had already been in contact with the KAPD for some time and were influenced by their positions and were in regular clandestine contact. This is further confirmed in the text ‘An Appeal from the Russian Workers’ Opposition’ which shows that the clandestine group were able to collect money amongst workers in Russia to pay for literature to be printed in Germany as it was impossible to do so in Russia. But as the Dreadnought points out the inflation in Russia was so high that the ‘millions of roubles’, ‘painfully collected’ were so devalued that when exchanged would hardly cover the postage: thus the comrades appealed for money to aid their work in Russia. This Appeal stressed the central tasks of the group as the vanguard to ‘oppose the Russian Soviet government’s New Economic Policy and United Front’ stating ‘we have entered the struggle against the betrayal of the first triumphs of the revolution. Our mission is to continue the revolution’. By their designation of the term ‘Russian’ to both the party and the Soviet government they indicate they regard them as national (i.e. non-proletarian) organisms, which had departed from internationalism. As with the rest of the KAI (Communist Workers International) they tended to under-estimate the counter-revolution and over-estimate the possibilities for a global renewal of the class struggle, based on the upturn of the class struggle in Germany and the revival of workers’ struggles in Russia in 1922 and 1923. Thus they took the side of the KAPD/Essen against the KAPD/Berlin who opposed as premature the setting up of a 4th International, and sent one delegate to the KAPD 5th Congress in Hanover, who reported on the ‘illegal work’ in Russia. In the same issue of Workers Dreadnought, July 29th 1922 is a longer text on the failure of the united front. (p. 6). This speaks of ‘the genuine communists in Russia who are making a stand against the united front and state capitalism, and who are upholding the standpoint of the KAPD’. The CWP of Russia’s text shows that the 3rd International has gone the way of the 2nd and Two and a Half Internationals, and it and its trade union apparatus has ‘sunk up to its eyes in the slough of opportunism and reformism’ and proceeds to attack the policy of the united front and ‘elections and parliamentary action’ declaring that ‘proletarian revolution can alone lead you out of the blind alley into which capitalism and the traitors to socialism have brought us’. Thus the CWP denounce ‘Lenin’s peaceable united front’ as ‘co-operation with the bourgeoisie’. In another earlier text in Workers Dreadnought June 17 1922, the united front is again denounced and connected to the internal policy of ‘capitalism which is newly introduced into Russia’. It is described as an ‘out and out right wing platform for which the international has abandoned its principals’, Despite this stand the CWP was not the caricatural ultra left sectarian group who denounce everything and everyone tout court. While remaining rightly sceptical of the centrist ‘so-called Workers Opposition’ and their rightward moving leadership, who are called ‘unprincipled and backboneless’ the CWP of Russia remain willing to pledge ‘support to all that is left of revolutionary tendencies in the RCP’. At this time the Democratic Centralists and left wing members of the Workers Opposition as well as members of the Workers Group still carried on opposition work inside the RCP so this was neither a sectarian or utopian standpoint. However the CWP of Russia did call on these forces to build a new party. If the CWP was initially ambiguous in its attitude to the Workers Opposition it was due to the heterogeneous nature of this group: while recognising that the RCP(B) was incapable of reform from within and that ‘in any case the Workers Opposition is not capable of doing it’ they are still prepared to ‘support all demands and propositions of the Workers Opposition which point in a sound revolutionary direction’. But immediately the CWP of Russia were to criticise the leadership of the Workers Opposition for pledging themselves ‘to the improvement of the cause of the Menshevik bourgeois united front in our country’ (as they themselves called it). Thus the CWP of Russia clearly distinguished between the Workers Opposition leadership which was moving in a rightward direction and the rank and file influenced by the workers’ struggle and the work of left communists and the Democratic Centralists. At this point the left communist groups and parties publicised the positions and activities of the Workers Opposition internationally. Soon, however, the CWP of Russia were to abandon their limited and highly critical support for the Workers Opposition which is then referred to as the ‘so-called’ Workers Opposition in the press of the communist left. Thus the CWP of Russia acted as a clandestine fraction working outside the RCP(B) with relations abroad maintained by an exile group in Berlin and a small presence in the Moscow Party and the proletariat in general. Little more can be said about this group inside Russia although its supporters in Berlin maintained themselves as a section of the KAI and gave support to other left communist individuals and groups inside Russia.

This group, however, is not to be confused with the more widely known Workers Group of the RCP(B) that was formed in February/March 1922. While sharing many of the same positions as the Workers Group, the CWP of Russia did not organise inside the RCP(B) in the same way as Miasnikov’s group, nor initially share Miasnikov’s analysis of the trade unions as arenas for communist work in Russia. However the main area of disagreement was on the question of the nature of revolution and counter-revolution in Russia. The CWP of Russia, under the influence of the KAPD, was to accept that the revolution of October 1917 was a bourgeois or double revolution, whereas the Workers Group maintained that the revolution was a proletarian revolution and the opening of a world-wide proletarian struggle. In this they upheld the traditional left communist analysis defended since 1918, a shared recognition with the CWP of the internal involution, and counter-revolution, which was marked by the defeats of 1918-20. For the Workers Group this was to remain the reflection of the failure of the world revolution to spread from its bastion in Russia - rather than any original error in the seizure of power by the proletariat in 1917. The two groups, however, agreed on the need for a new party and a new International as well as the need to oppose the NEP at home, and the united front abroad. Both were prepared to support class struggle against the Party/state apparatus and to engage in illegal work. It is improbable that the two groups of the left communists in Moscow had no contact with each other, but no documentary record exists of any contact between them or of them engaging in polemics with each other. However the Berlin group of the CWP did publish the manifest of the Workers Group and translate and distribute it internationally. However the KAPD were critical of the manifesto and despite claiming ‘the Workers Group as the Russian section of the 4th International’ in 1924 the documentary material remains ambiguous on the precise evolution of the two groups in Russia. Certainly the repression growing inside the Party and the ‘workers’ state’ apparatus drove Miasnikov and the Workers Group to abandon work inside these organisms - it was practically impossible. They were also to adopt the anti-parliamentary and anti-union viewpoint of the KAPD and the KAI and adopt the name of CWP which suggests an evolution in their positions on behalf of the Workers Group. But alongside this is the fact that the Workers Group did not accept the KAPD’s criticisms, nor did it join the KAI which it regarded as premature. This was connected to its rejection of the immediatist view that saw an imminent revival of the proletariat in Russia and world wide. Just as it was unwilling to totally reject the 3rd International and the RCP(B) or the proletarian nature of the revolution in Russia, it was immune to the idea of rejecting the immediate and defensive struggles of the workers, a question which was to totally divide and weaken the left communists in Germany. thus it remains unclear whether the Workers Group of the RCP(B) fused with the CWP in Russia, despite its differences. What is known is that the Workers Group was to grow in numbers and influence and maintain itself as an organisation until the mid 1930s in Russia alongside the Democratic Centralists. The original CWP was to disappear as a group in Russia, being maintained for a short while by Russian exiles in Berlin.

The Workers Group was to crystallise around the person of Gabriel Miasnikov who was a Bolshevik militant since before 1905. Some authors have the origin of this group as being in the Workers Opposition or its left wing or that it was ‘inspired’ by the work of Ignatov. While it is true that elements from both groups were to join the Workers Groups this is due to the close work between these groups in the 1920-21 struggles inside the Party. The banning of fractions had provoked both increased solidarity and co- operation within the left fractions and provoked a radicalisation of the left. The Workers Opposition was always a relatively eclectic tendency which demonstrated its centrism by its attempts to act as a loyal opposition even after its ban as a fraction. It was equally seen as the least dangerous of the left opposition by the right. This provoked a growing alienation on the part of its left wing who were attracted to the arguments and analysis of the Democratic Centralists and other members of the left communist wing of the Party who maintained a continuity with the work of the 1918 Left Communists. Far from being inspired by Ignatov’s group, which itself split up in a number of contradictory directions and symbolised the increasing impossibility of bridging the gap between the communist left and the RCP(B) as a whole, the Workers group was in direct political continuity with the communist left and won elements from both opposition groups on the basis of its political programme. The personal embodiment of this reality was Miasnikov himself, a member of the Left Communist Fraction who came from one of the earliest bastions of left communism in the Ukraine and specifically its core in Samara and Saratov.

On 12-13 May[1918] a joint conference of the Perm’ and Motovilikha organisations assembled, with Gabriel Miasnikov in the van of the Left’s campaign. After fiery speeches by Borchaninov and Miasnikov himself condemning the Brest peace - for its failure to provide any real breathing- space and for the retreats from socialist policies that flowed from it - a resolution in support of the Regional Conference’s decisions was adopted by a vote of thirty to twenty.

He was widely respected throughout the Party, even by his opponents and was able to win elements of the Samara organisation of the Workers Opposition to his positions in the discussion clubs set up and (temporarily) tolerated, as a safety valve in late 1921-22. In Samara the Workers Opposition was still in control of the Party apparatus and was on the left wing of its fraction. When Lenin met with the 37 Workers’ Opposition delegates this was a manoeuvre. This manoeuvre was aimed at the leaders of the Workers’ Opposition prior to the Party Congress in an attempt to separate them form both the Democratic Centralists and their own left wing. The appeal to restrain their militants and cease factional activity had little effect and the discussion clubs which had become centres of opposition in Moscow and the Urals were closed down.

The Workers Group of the Russian Communist Party was the name appended to a manifesto issued in 1923. For R.V. Daniels this programme ‘was largely that of the Workers Opposition’ (p.160) and the group describes as ‘a direct offshoot of the Workers Opposition’ (p.159). However E.H. Carr makes no reference to the origins of the Workers Group in the Workers Opposition and L. Schapiro (p.306) points out that while G.I. Miasnikov was ‘at times prepared to support this group’, ‘though not a signatory of the Workers Opposition Platform’. Given the fact that the evolution of the Workers Group and its political positions were within the framework of the communist left and that its main elements had been members of the Left Communist Fraction of 1918 undermines R.V. Daniels portrayal of this group as a left wing offshoot of the Workers Opposition. It is true that the workers Opposition were strong in the Perm area of the Urals, and to the left of this tendency. It is equally true that this region and Samara were also strongholds of left communist militants who were still influential in the Party apparatus. Under these conditions the Workers Group was able to attract elements who were reacting to the rightward moving Workers Opposition, as well as from the Democratic Centralist group. The close work and discussions as well as the solidarity in reaction to growing repression inside the Party in 1921-22 had produced two opposite reactions within the Opposition. Those who sought to conciliate with the Party and state apparatus and those who were to draw more radical conclusions from the course of events. The former included the majority of the workers Opposition and the Ignatov group who had joined them. The left, a minority, of the Ignatov group joined with the Democratic Centralists. In such conditions of polarisation it was inevitable that the Workers Opposition which attempted to act as a loyal opposition even after its banning as a fraction, and was the most eclectic of the left tendencies would produce a variety of splits.


The Workers’ Truth was the first group of the communist left to emerge ‘outside’ the RCP(B). this group took its name from its paper Rabochaia Pravda (no. l, Sep 1922) in which it launched an appeal that outlined it programmatic views. The paper was produced illegally in Moscow and it was here that the group had its base throughout its existence, during which it was clandestine in operation even before it was made illegal. R.V Daniels and E. H. Carr, the main secondary sources in English, agree that the group was mainly composed of intellectuals and some workers, and that it was probably a splinter group that emerged from the Proletkult movement rather than directly from the RCP(B). Like this movement which was influenced by A. Bogdanov, the Workers’ Truth shared certain of Bogdanov’s views and this may have been a factor in their apparent isolation from other left communist groupings both inside and outside the RCP, and the indifference or hostility expressed towards them despite the convergence of their political positions on many key questions.

While Bogdanov had inspired the left fraction of the RSDLP(B), unlike most of the Vperiod group (1908-1917) he had not rejoined the RCP(B), con- fining his activity to work in the building of the Proletkult movement. A pamphlet produced by the RCP(B), O Gruppe Rabocheia Pravda: Bol’shevik 7-8 (1924) details how the group reflected his concepts and terminology and affirmed its allegiance to his views. However Bogdanov himself denied approval or support for their platform, or being their leader. With the growth of strikes in 1923 and the fears of the growing influence of left communists inside and outside the party the merest suspicion of collaboration or association with the Workers’ Truth was sufficient for the GPU to have him imprisoned.

Little is known of the individuals who made up this group, or even how many issues of its paper came out. It is probable that the group did not exceed 20 core members, organised as a collective with a milieu of sympathisers perhaps 200-400 in number. The group was known to have intervened in the strikes in 1922 and 1923 and it was this activity which brought down the repression which seems to have crushed the group. An account in Pravda in 1923 refers to the expulsion of 13 supporters of the Workers’ Truth from the RCP(B), 7 of whom were members of the collective. And later that year the Menshevik Socialist Herald, an émigré paper produced in Berlin speaks of 400 members (?!) of Workers’ Truth purged in a mass nation-wide expulsion of left communist elements. Even if E.H. Carr is right in asserting that this is ‘probably’ an overestimation of the influence of this group, R.V. Daniels is wrong to assert that the leadership of the RCP did not take such groups seriously, at least in terms of their potential.

It was not just the paranoia of the GPU and the growing bureaucracy that motivated the growing repression, but also the ability of these tiny, but growing numbers of communist nuclei to articulate a coherent critique of the involution and degeneration of the revolution in Russia and connect this to the defence of the workers’ immediate struggles to defend them- selves against the demands of the party/state apparatus. It was this that distinguished the emerging left communists from the later Left Opposition: Trotsky could only concede that the ‘Workers’ Untruth’, as he called them, were the symptom of a problem in the party and its relations with the working class, but this in no way prevented him form supporting their expulsion and repression, or opposing the workers’ struggles of 1922-23. This sectarianism of Trotsky towards the left communists which was to remain a feature of the Left Opposition, who refused to seriously confront groups like the Workers’ Truth, dismissing them as ultra-leftist or idealist. This did not prevent members of the Workers’ Truth corresponding with Trotsky privately, but these and other connections with the ‘ultra-left’ remain unpublished .

When it launched its 1922 Appeal, it had called for ‘propaganda circles ... created in solidarity with the Workers’ Truth’; ‘Everywhere in the mills and factories, in the trade union organisations, the workers’ faculties, the soviet and party schools, the Communist Union of Youth and the party organisations.’ At the same time they called for a new ‘workers’ party’ they were still prepared to work within the old organisations and this reflected both the difficulty of giving a practical orientation and the political confusions that were to lead to practical and theoretical inability to adjust to and resist the growing counter-revolution. It was these positions which contributed to their inability to politically and practically understand and resist the growing counter-revolution unlike the Democratic Centralist Fraction or the Communist Workers Group with whom they had discussions and contact. The other left communist groups were hostile to the politics of this group which put into question the making of a proletarian revolution in 1917 and the role of the party in a manner which both echoed the Menshevik arguments of the past and pre-figured the arguments of the Council Communist groups. Thus Miasnikov and the Communist Workers’ Group were critical of this ‘so-called workers opposition’ and its platform, while simultaneously recognising it as containing proletarian elements who it called on to regroup behind its own analysis.

The shared opposition to the NEP and the united front, and to the growth of state capitalism as well as a willingness to use the few remaining opportunities to work in the union and party bodies, as well as working illegally outside and against these bodies could not conceal the growing divergences between the 2 groups. The Workers’ Truth tended to work towards a politicisation of the immediate struggles, seeing ‘[i]the material conditions’ ... ‘of the organisers of state capitalism/i]’ were ‘sharply differentiated from the conditions of the working class’ and this was based on the repression and exploitation of the working class: but this view led them to see the union emphasis on wage demands and conditions of work, as a weakness which reflected a revival of the old economism. Here they differed sharply from the Communist Workers’ Party who saw the unions as Party/State organisms which were instruments of state capitalist discipline and exploitation. If there was agreement by the Workers’ Truth that the unions were organs that defended the ‘interests of production, i.e. state capital’ it led to diametrically opposed conclusions to the CWG. The CWG denied that the unions were simply reformist or that they defended the immediate interests of the workers, they were not simply non-revolutionary, but counter-revolutionary . The CWG did not therefore look to the unions to reform themselves, nor equate the workers struggles for immediate and limited gains with defensive trade unionism. Far from being a movement which expressed economism and a retreat, the strikes and immediate struggles were the only basis for a revival of the proletariat and its communist minorities. For the CWG this meant a revival of the workers’ soviets and factory committees in conscious opposition to the unions.

The Workers’ Truth differences were more profound when it came to the question of what state capitalism meant in the context of the Russian economy. Ironically, they shared with Lenin a belief in its historically progressive features in opposition to the analysis of the various left communist fractions and groups speaking of the October Revolution eliminating ‘all barriers in the path of economic development’ not by inaugurating a world wide proletarian revolution against capitalism as the left communists defended but in a purely Russian and national framework which saw ‘the successful revolution and the civil war’ opening ‘broad perspectives ... of vapid transformation into a country of progressive capitalism.’ No wonder Miasnikov saw the Workers’ Truth as abandoning Bolshevik internationalism for a Menshevik/ nationalist framework, and the proletarian struggle against all reactionary, stagist conceptions by blessing the newly emerging state capitalist economy with a progressive role. While recognising the fusion of the party/state apparatus was transforming it into an agent of capitalism and calling for workers to resist exploitation the Workers’ Truth were to remain fundamentally undermined by a fatalism, produced by the defeat of the working class which it saw as ‘incapable of playing any influential role’ and having ‘now been thrown back almost a decade.’ Thus it logically saw its work as the long term work of creating propaganda circles and awaiting a future resurgence of the working class: unfortunately their recognition that the workers were defeated did not prevent them from falling into a contradictory immediatism which supposed they could ‘politicise’ the strikes of 1922-23.

The Workers’ Truth, unlike the Democratic Centralist and Communist Workers’ Groups were unable to maintain the work of a communist faction and were completely crushed by the first waves of the counter-revolutionary terror in 1923 although isolated ex-Workers’ Truth members are mentioned in the Bulletins of the Left Opposition they had no organisation after 1923 and Miasnikov writing for the CWG in 1924 stated that by then the Workers’ Truth had nothing in common with them, and that they were ‘attempting to wipe out everything that was communist in the revolution of October 1917’ and were therefore completely Menshevist. Unable to break with Bogdanov’s contradictory views which led them to see the bourgeois counter-revolution as leading to a progressive development of capitalism in Russia, the Workers’ Truth remained isolated both nationally and internationally. This view shares with Menshevism the vision that the revolution was premature. In their instinctive defence of the workers they were too radical for the Bolshevik right and centre, or for the conservative Mensheviks; in their analysis of October 1917 and its subsequent evolution they alienated the communist left. Thus this largely anonymous collectivity was on the basis of its opposition to the NEP, and its positions of state capitalism and the party, as well as its defence of the workers’ immediate struggles as a left communist group. But it shared with the KAPD of Berlin a tendency to immediatism and a rejection of the defensive struggles as inadequate, and a theory of the offensive. In their economic views they also prefigured the Council Communists in favouring working collectively rather than a centralised work as a fraction. In fact it remained a marginal and ephemeral grouping compared to the Democratic Centralists and the Communist Workers’ Group who expressed the organisational and political continuity of the left communist fraction of the RCP as it developed inside and later outside and against the Party/State apparatus.


The main focus of this study of the history of the Communist Workers Group is based primarily on translations of its documents that appeared in various papers of the international left communist groups which emerged in the 1920s and 1930s. Its thesis is that the CWG was in political and organisational continuity with the left communist fraction of the of the RSDLP(B) and an integral part of the international communist left. In order to demystify the history of this group it is necessary to criticise the approaches of other historians who have, consciously or unconsciously, mystified and falsified this history where it has not been ignored or overlooked. Even the most accessible and sympathetic accounts by the leading expert on Russian anarchism, the libertarian historian Paul Avrich (‘Bolshevik Opposition to Lenin: G.T. Miasnikov and the Workers Group’, The Russian Review vol.43 1984, pp. l-29)1 and the libertarian Marxist Roberto Sinigaglia (Mjasnikov et Rivoluzione Russa - Edizioni Jaca Books, Milano 1973), have focused primarily on the personality of Miasnikov and make little reference to the organised activity of the group which is assumed to have disappeared as an organised force in the mid 1920s.

The more commonly accessible accounts of the origins of the CWG begin with its relations with the Workers’ Opposition, R.V. Daniels, the influential author of The Conscience of the Revolution: Communist Opposition in Soviet Russia, pp160-161, writes ‘backed by a small groups of other former Workers’ Oppositionists, Miasnikov issued early in 1923 a lengthy manifesto in the name of ‘The Workers’ Groups of the Russian Communist Party’. The Programme was largely that of the Workers’ Opposition.’ Isaac Deutscher appears to confirm this ‘The Workers; Opposition had lain low and was breaking up. Its splinter groups, however, had to some extent been involved in the strike agitation, which was spontaneous in the main. The most important of these was the Workers’ Group…’. Similarly Robert Sakwa reiterates that the CWG was ‘inspired by the Workers’ Opposition’ and a splinter group. However, both Schapiro (p.306, footnote 33), and Avrich (ibid. p.6) confirm that Miasnikov had never been a member of the Workers’ Opposition and this view was shared by one of its leaders, A.G. Shliapnikov. While it is true that several of the leading members of the CWG had been members of the Workers’ Opposition, a complete list of known members of the CWG shows many who were left communist in 1918 or members of the Democratic Centralist Fraction. This continuity is down played in order to emphasise the apparent organic links with the Workers’ Opposition. If the left communist groups won over elements of the more militant left wing of the Workers’ Opposition it was a result of their opposition to the centrist and vacillating leadership of the Workers’ Opposition which was entrenched in the union apparatus and particularly its growing bureaucracy. Just as the Ignatov group was polarised, with the left wing joining the Democratic Centralists and the right wing majority joining the Workers’ Opposition, so the latter group was polarised under the influence of the left communists of the CWP and the CWG as well as the independent left communist nuclei that emerged in the period 1921-23. While the leadership of the Workers’ Opposition moved to accommodate itself to the increasingly monolithic party/state apparatus many of its rank and file militants sided with those workers and peasants who fought to defend their immediate interests against the growing demands of state-capitalism and counter-revolution. It was this response to the growing political and economic crisis that led elements to break from its political framework of loyal opposition and increasingly muted criticism to join groups like the CWG and other left communist groupings especially in Moscow and the industrial centres of the Urals and the Ukraine which had been bastions of the communist left in 1918. The one genuine splinter group from the Worker’ Opposition, Panushkin’s Workers’ and Peasants’ Party, was another short-lived reaction to the NEP, which organised in Moscow and called one demonstration before being crushed by the GPU: even here it showed the influence of Miasnikov’s views on Kronstadt and the need for peasant unions. Given this context and the political position of both the Workers’ Opposition and the CWG, it shows R.V. Daniels view of their relationship is totally false and at odds with the explicit positions of the CWG defended over the 15 years of their existence. Far from being ‘inspired’ by this Workers’ Opposition, from the outset they called on the rank and file to break with it organisationally and politically, rejecting any possibility of the Workers’ Opposition as a whole making a positive evolution.

The CWG had initially a dual orientation which indicates the uniquely difficult circumstances in which it operated. It was both acting as a clandestine fraction within the RCP(B) and the organs of the workers state and from the outset acting as the nucleus of a new workers’ party. Its Bolshevik origins made it immune to any relations with the Mensheviks or Social Revolutionaries, nor did it heed the temptation to adopt positions which put into question the proletarian nature of the October revolution in Russia. It was for this reason the CWG was to reject the Workers’ Truth as ‘basically Menshevik’ despite its apparent leftism, and later break with the KAI which rejected any united front with the Third International in the mid 1920s. Contrary to the mythology of the Left Opposition in Russia, including Trotsky himself, the left communists of the CWG were not sectarian. In fact they continued to work inside the Party until expulsion, deportation, mass arrests and imprisonment and torture made this virtually impossible. Before the banning of factions the left communists had worked on common issues with the Workers’ Opposition and the Democratic Centralists and it was to the left-wing of these groups that they appealed as well as to sincere elements in the Workers’ Truth to form a new party, based on a new programme. In this they went beyond the strategy of loyal opposition which was eventually to split the Democratic Centralists, and was to remain the strategy of the Bolshevik-Leninist/ Left Opposition. Thus their strategy was fundamentally based on the impossibility of reforming or recapturing the RCP(B) as a whole, while recognising that the Party and the workers’ organs under its central were areas in which the CWG should intervene. This strategy was outlined in an article in Socialisticsky Vestnik, July 6th 1924, which states that ‘members of the workers’ group can be:

1) members of the RCP(B), 2) expelled from the RCP(B) for political reasons, 3) those not belonging to any party who are advised to join the RCP(B).

It was this attitude, forged by years of clandestine work for the Bolshevik fraction inside Czarist Russia, that enabled the CWG to evolve inside Russia and survive despite the waves of repression that smashed groups like the Workers’ Truth, Workers’ and Peasants’ Party and the Workers Opposition. Most secondary accounts simply assume, or act as though, this was the fate of the CWG and that it also disappeared as an organised force in 1924. Even the lengthy accounts of Sinigaglia and Avrich simply become an account of Miasnikov’s personal exile as though the group ceased to exist. Yet in some respects the most startling achievements of this group were in its final years and for this history the primary sources are translations of their documents which appeared in small left communist journals, untouched by any of the authors previously referred to. This work was based on the fundamental documents written in the mid 1920s and it is a testimony to the political clarity and organisational strength of this group that it was to maintain itself as an organisation until 1938 when its militants were all finally executed in the purges. The group was able, almost until the end, to maintain links with its militants abroad firstly in Berlin, and later in Paris, where Miasnikov worked.

Initially the CWG was one of the strongest of the left communist nuclei - ‘the most audacious’, E.H. Carr; ‘the most important’, I. Deutscher; ‘The most interesting’, A. Kollontai. It was not their numbers which threatened the party, however, but their willingness to intervene in the workers’ strikes and their potential to give a political lead to elements inside and outside the Party and organise them. The nucleus of the CWG, consisted of experienced and influential worker-Bolsheviks, implanted in areas where the ideas of the left communists were well known since 1918. These were also the areas where the proletariat was most concentrated and combative, even in the harsh conditions of 1923-24. Certainly these elements did not directly provoke the strikes which emerged as a spontaneous reaction to the growing economic and political crisis, but they were prepared to defend the strikers and give a political perspective for those prepared to fight the NEP whether inside or outside the Party. The CWG produced clandestine leaflets, manifestos and a regular press, as well as circulating literature inside the Party. A network existed for this purpose which was able to smuggle literature in and out of Russia and into the camps. As late as 1930 the CWG was producing a regular paper, The Road to Power, in Moscow (Source, L’Ouvrier Communiste, no. 6, Jan 1930).

In March 1923 the first nucleus of the CWG was formed in Moscow consisting of 3 workers, C. Miasnikov, N.V. Kuznetsov and P.B. Moiseev. They constituted the Provisional Central Organisational Bureau of the CWG. In February these three had collectively begun to produce and distribute the hectographed manifesto of the Workers’ Group of the RCP(B) which was circulated in Russia and abroad and aimed to be an intervention into the 12th Party Congress planned in April. The Manifesto was based on two earlier works of Miasnikov but also went beyond them and again demonstrates the continuity of this document with the left communist fraction of 1918. This centre was to become the official central organ of the CWG in Russia, and of the CWP later. The impact of this document, which was circulated at the 12th Party Congress can be judged from the negative and positive responses within the working class and the Party. It is difficult to assess objectively the various claims made about the membership of the CWG. Numerically Avrich (ibid. p.20) states that Kuznetsov’s estimate of 3,000 members in Moscow, and 19,000 throughout the country, is a ‘wild exaggeration’ (citing Sorin, ibid. 115-117) but not why this should be so. He says that ‘by summer the group had some 300 members in Moscow, where it was centred, as well as a sprinkling of adherents in other cities - many were old Bolsheviks, and all, or nearly all were workers’. (Sinigaglia, ibid. p.59, gives 200 in Moscow). Even if these figures are correct, given the high level of political commitment required by the CWG and the existence of other left groups and tendencies, this would still reflect a strong political presence in Moscow. There were only 1655 Bolsheviks at the beginning of 1917. But other evidence suggests a higher figure of perhaps 1,000 throughout Russia and a much wider influence than has normally been given to this group. In Moscow the group’s most active members, apart from those on the Bureau, were I. Makh - who replaced A. Moiseev on the central organ, S.I.N. Tuinov, V.P. Demidov, Renzina, I.M. Korov, G.V. Shokhanov, A.I. Medvednev (not to be confused with S. R. Medvedev, leader of the Workers’ Opposition), Porestnatov, Trofinov, Luchin, C.R. Duchkin. On the 5th June the group convened a Conference in Moscow which elected a Moscow Bureau of 8 members with Makh as the delegate an the Central Bureau. Miasnikov had already been arrested in May and Kuznetsow had taken over as spokesman for the group. The group continued its work towards the Party and particularly the leaders of those centrist formations which were on the brink of liquidation, giving the rank and file the chance to judge the worth of opposition leaders like Lutinov, Kollontai and Ignatov who, while ‘sympathising’ with the ultra left, did nothing in practice to endanger their own positions. They wished to restrict criticism to internal Party debate, a condition which would lead to silence eventually. Others contacted, like Riazanov, similarly refused to break Party discipline and defend left communists from GPU repression. Having worked with the Workers Opposition over the Appeal of the 22, this was to prove a watershed for that tendency who retreated and eventually formally recanted its positions. The CWG had won over its left wing and soon abandoned any further attempts at working with this current.]

The Conference also elected a secretariat of 4 which may account for Avrich’s conflicting sources. And Kuznatsov reports that a 4 person bureau was elected for youth work. At this time the group was only planning a journal. However, it did have a printing press in Moscow.

Initially the official RCP had responded cautiously. Having nullified the left factions inside the Party, it hoped to be able to similarly intimidate others by the expulsion and repression of individuals. Miasnikov was arrested on May 25th, a month after the 12th Party Congress, and it was this Congress that had branded the CWC as counter-revolutionary and hence illegal. The Party was not yet reduced to a purely capitalist instrument and so Kossior of the Democratic Centralists and Trotsky were able to speak sympathetically of the mistakes of the Party and the difficulties which drove the comrades into ultra-left errors. The Party was still prepared to engage (in private) in a political debate with its opponents whether through the form of Sorin’s relatively objective pamphlet on the left communists, which the Party circulated internally. Trotsky went along with labelling, the CWG as objectively counter-revolutionary and anti-Party, while engaging in private correspondence with Democratic Centralists and Miasnikovites. Even Bukharin tried, in person, to persuade Miasnikov to recant to no avail. With the growth of strikes in August and September the RCP(B) moved against the group as a whole. They made their move when they became aware of the CWG’s growing agitation, and its preparations to call a one day general strike and a mass demonstration, in commemoration of the Bloody Sunday march of 190,5, with Lenin’s portrait heading the march. The Central Committee produced a resolution branding the CWG as anti-Communist and anti-Soviet and ordered the GPU to suppress it.

Thus in September 28 members of the CWG were arrested. Five, including Kuznetsov had already been expelled and 9 more were expelled including Moiseev, Tuinov, Berzina, Demidov, Kotov and Shokhanov. The remaining 14 were reprimanded. With this and the re-arrest of Miasnikov, who had been promised immunity by Zinoviev and Kretinsky, the Soviet ambassador in Berlin, in the fall of 1923 Avrich (ibid. F. 24) concludes that in Jan 1924 when Lenin died ‘the Workers’ Group had been silenced. It was the last dissident movement in the Party to be liquidated while Lenin was still alive… smashed with the blessing of all the top Soviet leaders.’ Sinigaglia and others appear to concur, but this was not the case. Most commentators agree that the RCP(B) had good reason to fear the influences of the group like the CWG in conditions of growing inflation, unemployment and a strike wave, which they were attempting to politicise. What is significant is that they overlook the evidence that the CWG carried out work in the Red Army and found an echo for their positions, a factor which was a tangible threat evoking uneasy memories of 1917.

The CWG, which was opposed to the united front tactic of the Third International, was to propose a united front with the RCP(B) rank and file and its left wing, but with the growing impossibility of any fractional work inside the RCP it became an open party, the CWG, probably regrouping with the original CWP nucleus who were influenced by the KAPD. This led the group to deepen its critique of the unions and eventually abandon any work inside these state capitalist organs. From the outset the CWG had been highly critical of these organs, favouring the factory committees and workers’ soviets as organs to defend workers’ interests and express a revival of workers’ democracy.

This is the Workers’ Group’s assessment of the unions (taken from correspondence intercepted by the police): ‘The silent army of the dominant group in the RCP’; ‘A blind army in the hands of the bureaucrats’; ‘A bureaucratic appendage of the Politburo’. (Translated from Sinigaglia, pp.64-65).

Similarly the communist workers’ Party adopted an anti-parliamentary position close to that of the KAPD and the Italian Left. thus they were open to the discussions of the communist left with whom they maintained links via a bureau in exile, under the direction of a Rumanian militant, Kate Rumanova, and others. This bureau helped with printing, sending material into Russia and publicising the work of the CWP of Russia abroad. This work was moved to Paris when Miasnikov arrived there in October 1930. The group in Russia was able to publish a regular bulletin form which most of the following was translated. It gives some picture, however partial, of the group’s continued activity:

In Moscow Oct 1924 the GPU arrested a group of Red Army soldiers who had the support of some officers, at the Spashi Barracks. They were accused of discussing with the CWG about the resolution of the Party banning the group and its activities in repressing the CWG publication and banning its militants from Moscow… ‘On Nov 7th 1924 the left communists did organise a demonstration in Moscow protesting against the suppression of their views. Not only the CWG members but also the non-party members were arrested by the GPU for the crime of sympathising with the communist left… ‘On December 8th 1924 the Moscow CWG issued a leaflet publicising the arrest of 11 of its group in the Urals (Perm) who had gone on hunger strike . They demanded to be told the reasons for their arrest and a public trial… ‘On December 27th 1924 banished members of the CWG were escorted under armed guard of the GPU on a train into internal exile in the Northern woods of Russia. (At Tschardynsk)… ‘ Also that month the GPU confiscated a second printing press organised clandestinely by the CWG… ‘In December further unrest was reported in the army. The GPU are reported to have broken a counter-revolutionary conspiracy, arrested a clandestine organisation of communists in the Red Army who called the NEP the New Exploitation of the Proletariat and called for a struggle for that it was supposedly the Third International to work to undermine capitalist armies in just this manner. The next day in response to the GPU’s actions a part of the battalion stationed in the Kremlin declared their dissatisfaction with the leaders politics and declared their solidarity with the CWG. For this they were sent to Smolensk.'

The bulletin also talks of a wave of repression in the Ukraine where the entire membership of the central bureau of the CWP in the Ukraine was arrested.

While precise details are not available, it is clear that the group managed to exist in an organised form, issuing appeals, leaflets and manifestos until 1929, when it still had a clandestine press which was being produced in Moscow. Its militants were scattered throughout Russia with many in exile, deported to the isolators and labour camps, or on the run from the GPU. In exile, whether in Berlin or France, in 1930 this network was sustained by correspondence and occasional bulletins. Their work was published in England by the Workers’ Dreadnought and the Commune and in Germany by the press of the KAI/KAPD and others; but the best source of information on their activity in the early 1930s is the journal L’Ouvrier Communiste, produced by ex-Bordigists and KAPD elements with whom Miasnikov collaborated in exile in France. These documents also find a partial corroboration in the Bulletins of the Left Opposition and the writings of Trotsky where the CWG are ridiculed as marginal, sectarian ultra-leftists and called Miasnikovists. But events were to give the scattered nuclei of the CWG a chance to have an influence on the discussion in the communist left wing of the RCP. The growing political and economic crisis, as well as Hitler’s rise to power, and the impotence of both the left and united opposition to counter the growing Stalinist counter-revolution, was compounded by the number of capitulations in the opposition, both from the Bolshevik Leninists and the Democratic Centralists. In the case of the latter this produced a radicalisation of a large left wing minority known as the ‘irreconcilables’. The Democratic Centralists, for 10 years, ‘had dithered’ (Ciliga), ‘now capitulation to Lenin’s ultimatum, now supporting the Trotskyists in their struggle with Stalin. Its orientation ... proved to he sterile. The Five Year Plan shook the group to ifs foundations. The majority, like the majority of the Trotskyists, capitulated’ and justified this by saying that from the moment when the NEP and the bourgeoisie were liquidated, socialism was being built. Again we can see a counter-reaction from a section of the Democratic Centralists around Timotei Sapronov who continued to reflect that section of the group that had its origins in the original Left Communist fraction of 1918. Ciliga shows how this group, which was essentially reconstituted on a new basis (The Manifesto of the 15) was constantly winning over militants from the irreconcilable wing of the Bolshevik Leninists, and eventually it was to win a majority in Vorkuta. At the same time Miasnikov shows that the CWG had opened a discussion with this group, recognising that its new platform, which spoke of Stalinist counter-revolution and Thermidor, represented a qualitative evolution and a break with the Democratic Centralist orientation of the past which was relatively uncritical of Lenin. This again confirms that the CWG were correct not to jump to the sectarian conclusion that the RCP(B) as a whole was counter-revolutionary, even when it rejected any possibility of its reform. The Workers’ Group’s orientation enabled it to win over both the Sapronov groups and the majority of the left ‘irreconcilables’, as well as some remnants of both the Workers’ Opposition and the Workers’ Truth into a Federation of left communist groups. The aim of this organisation was to co-ordinate the activities of its militants and to promote a discussion on the perspectives both internationally and nationally for the proletariat. The CWG saw this as a step towards the refounding of a CWP of Russia on a broader basis. However, the Democratic Centralists and ex-Trotskyists were by no means homogenous. Older Democratic Centralists were less critical of Bolshevism, though some were more than willing to form a new party Others (a minority) wanted to call for a 4th International. The CWG militants Zankov and Tuinov were hesitant on this point because they had already experienced the problems caused by the premature formation of the Communist Workers’ International (KAI 4th International). However, the CWG did work for the formation of Communist Parties in the ‘Soviet’ Union, and were therefore not totally homogenous on this point. However they were clear on the counter-revolutionary nature of the Russian state, and the state capitalist nature of the economy. Ante Ciliga’s account tends to focus on the positions of individuals, and he fails to realise the CWG; was the main force behind a regroupment which went beyond the confines of Vorkuta: where 20-25 comrades were united. And that the Group of 15 were no longer Democratic Centralists but a new group, but this is understandable given the conditions in which the group operated. In August 1928 a similar regroupment had taken place as a result of a conference in Moscow in which a representative of the Group of 15, the Bureau of the CWG and some escaped ex-Workers’ Oppositionists had created a bureau which issued a joint appeal for the formation of a Communist Workers’ Party in Russia. The discussions at Vorkuta may have reflected a parallel development or a direct response to this initiative: the evidence is not clear. Ciliga dates this as occurring in 1933, so it is possible there is no direct connection given the time lag.

Initially, as its name implies, the Communist Workers’ Group considered that it was a fraction of the RCP(B) and it worked to regroup revolutionaries on the basis of its programme whether through work inside the Party, and the trade unions, co-operatives, as well as the Soviets or outside these organs, which were by this time tied to the state. They supported workers’ strikes and demonstrations. In this latter respect they broke with Soviet legality and the loyal opposition strategy of the Democratic Centralists who worked solely within the Party, and the more right wing so called left Opposition which was beginning to emerge. However the CWG, from the start, were not sectarian, they called on elements from the Workers’ oppositely and the Workers’ Truth to break with these organisations to form an authentic Communist Party in Russia and in this policy they were successful. From the outset they had won over elements from the left wing of the Workers’ Opposition and the Democratic Centralists as well as elements from the older left communist fraction of 1918. It is also probable that they absorbed those elements in the Communist Workers’ Party of Russia to become a unified group that supported the KAI in Russia. The CWG was prepared to work with the Third International in a united front against the bourgeoisie, which for them included its left wing, Social Democracy. Unlike the Democratic Centralists and the Bolshevik Leninist Left Opposition they did not believe in reforming the RCP or the Third International; even if they were still workers’ organisations they were increasingly becoming obstacles to any world revolution. Thus they were to regard the Left Opposition, and the Unified Opposition as centrist, or centre right block with no possibility of reversing the growing counter-revolution internally and globally. Despite being banned and declared an anti-Party, counter-revolutionary grouping, despite deportation, imprisonment, beatings and torture the CWG was to survive as a clandestine group in many areas of the USSR with an influence beyond its small size. It was this capacity to survive due to the political and organisational abilities of its members who comprised many veteran Bolsheviks who had learned to engage in clandestinity before the War.


Jean Barrot and Denis Authier, La Gauche Communiste en Allemagne, 1918-1921, Payot, Paris 1976. Especially chapters 16 and 17

E. H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923, vols. 1-3 : The Interregnum 1923-1924; Socialism in One Country 1924-1926, vols. 1-3 Foundations of a Planned Economy, 1926-1929 vols. 1-2

W.J. Chase, Workers, Society, and the Soviet State Labor and Life in Moscow, 1918-1929, University of Illinois Press 1990

Ante Ciliga, The Russian Enigma, Ink Links PB 1979

Barbara Evans Clements: Bolshevik Feminist Life of A. Kollontai, Indiana University Press 1979

R.V. Daniels: The Conscience of the Revolution - Communist Opposition in Soviet Russia, Clarion Books 1969

Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1919-1921: The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-1924, Oxford University Press 1976

Eduard A. Dune, Notes of a Red Guard, University of Illinois Press 1993

R.C. Elwood, Inessa Armand, Cambridge University Press 1992

Israel Getzler Kronstadt 1917-1921. The Fate of a Soviet Democracy, Cambridge University Press 1983

Ronald Kowalski, The Bolshevik Party in Conflict: The Left Communist Opposition of 1918, Macmillan 1991

Lenin, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, (translated from the 4th and 5th Russian editions).

G.M. Maximoff, The Guillotine at Work: vol. l The Leninist Counter-revolution, Cienfuegos Press 1979

Mary McAuley, Bread and Justice: State and Society in Petrograd 1917-1922, Clarendon Press 1991

Christian Rakovsky, Selected Writings on Opposition in the USSR 1923-30, Alison and Busby 1981

T.H. Rigby, Lenin’s Government - Sovnarkom 1917-1922, Cambridge University Press 1979

Guy Sabatier, Traité de Brest Litovsk 1918. Coup d’Arret à la Révolution, Spartacus Pamphlet 1977

Richard Sakwa, Soviet Communists in Power, Macmillan 1990

L. Schapiro, The Origins of the Communist Autocracy Political Opposition in the Soviet State. First Phase 1927-1922, Macmillan 2nd edition 1977

J. Sié, Sur la Période de Transition: les Positions des Gauches de la IIIe Internationale, especially chapter 4 pages 62-82 on the Communist Left in Russia; Photocopy produced commercially, First edition Leiden, Holland 1986

Carmen Siranni, Workers Control and Socialist Democracy: the Soviet Experience, Verso 1982

S.A. Smith, Red Petrograd - Revolution in the Factories 1917-1918, Cambridge University Press 1983

Z.A. Sochor, Revolution and Culture: Bogdanov-Lenin Controversy, Cornell University Press 1988

Leon Trotsky, The Challenge of the Left Opposition, vol. 1 1923-5, vol. 2 1926-2; vol. 3 1928-29,Pathfinder 1982

C.D. Ward, The Communist Left in Russia, 1918-30; Unpublished manuscript, no date.

Documentary materials on the Communist Left

Cahiers Leon Trotsky: 7/8 Numéro Spécial. Les Trotskistes en Union Sovietique II

‘The Left Opposition in 1923’, David S. Law in Critique no.2, Glasgow, no date.

Economics of the Left Opposition - special issue of Critique no 13, Glasgow 1981

Workers Group

Roberto Sinigaglia, Mjasnikov e la Rivoluzione Russa, Jaca Book

On the Current Situation: Theses of the Left Communists (1918), Critique pamphlet 1977, Glasgow.

‘Two Documents of the Communist Left in Russia’, in Workers Voice no.14, 1974, a left communist bi-monthly from Liverpool.

Documents of the 1923 Opposition, New Park 1975

The Platform of the Joint Opposition 1927; New Park 1973

David Ross, Revolution and Counter Revolution in Russia, a mid 1970s pamphlet of the Revolutionary Workers Group of Chicago.

The Workers Opposition - Alexandra Kollontai, Solidarity pamphlet no.7, no date.

From Workers Dreadnought, London 1922, July 29th, p.6: ‘From Russian Workers, the Group of Revolutionary Left-wing Communists (Communist Workers Party) of Russia on the Failure of the United Front’, and an account of the Delegate from Russia to the 5th Special Congress of the KAPD.

‘Left-Wing Imprisonment in Russia: with an Appeal to the Communist International and its Sympathising Proletariat from Various International groups of the Left Communist and an Additional Appeal by the CWG of Russia’ (ibid. vol. XI no 11, May 31st 1924).

The Manifesto of the Communist Workers Group of Russia was published in the Workers Dreadnought throughout January and February of 1924. Also large sections were published in Communist, produced by Guy Aldred. The most accurate available source is the French translation by the group Invariance which is based on the KAPD edition, with their critical notes.

Also texts from Sapronov, Miasnikov and others in French published by the group L’Ouvrier Communiste in their journal of the same name in the 1930s. Including the Manifesto of the 25, Sapronov’s group that broke from the Democratic Centralists.

Paul Avrich, ‘Bolshevik Opposition to Lenin: G.T. Miasnikov and the Workers’ Group’ The Russian Review vol. 43, Jan 1984, pp. 1-28.

The Appeal of the Workers’ Truth Group (1922) translated in G.P. Maximoff and R. V. Daniels documentary history.

The Commune, (Glasgow) May 1923-April/May 1929, with the following articles: ‘Persecution in Russia’, June 1924; ‘Communism Suppressed in ‘Soviet’ Russia’, November 1925, subtitled: ‘Anti-Parliamentarians Imprisoned without Trial for Propagating Communism against Compromise’, referring to Miasnikov and the Communist Workers’ Groups;

‘The Persecution of Miasnikov’, November 1925, with excerpts from his prison statement;

‘Halt this Counter-revolution’, February 1926, with excerpts from Miasnikov’s prison manifesto;

‘Letter from Käte Rumanova of the Miasnikov Group in Berlin’, December 1926;

‘The German Movement’, July/August 2927, letters from AAUD-E and Cardozo of the KAI with Aldred’s comment on a manifesto issued in support of Miasnikov;

‘Anti-Parliamentarianism Abroad’, Sept/Oct 1927, with details on groups in Germany, Holland and Russia derived from correspondence, papers etc.;

‘Shall Labor Liquidate Socialism or Capitalism’, November 1927, an article on the Russian Communist Workers’ Groups with further excerpts from Miasnikov’s manifesto;

‘The Struggle in Russia’, December 1927, a letter from Käte Rumanova with excerpts from the Appeal of Russian Workers’ Opposition.



16 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by Alf on April 26, 2008

Ian's article also appears in the ICC's book on the Russian left, which was dedicated to him and was an attempt to carry on with the work which he was engaged upon before his untimely death. The book contains articles on the history of the left communists in Russia from the ICC's International Review as well as a number of original texts by the Russian left, some of which have not been published in English before (in particular, texts by Miasnikov and Sapranov). There are also tributes to Ian - a member of the ICC for many years and a close sympathiser until the end of his life - by the ICC and the CWO. The book can be ordered on line here