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7 The Double-Edged Sword of ‘Bolshevisation’, 1924–6

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Chapter Summary

Zinoviev's 'Bolshevisation' campaign amounted to eliminating political opposition throughout the Comintern, particularly factionalism, and laid the basis for further degeneration. Since Zinoviev himself did not see his goal as 'Stalinisation', foreign Communists could be forgiven for accepting 'Bolshevisation' as good coin, given the ravages of factionalism that many sections suffered. This process was even murkier for American Communists. Having been helped by the Comintern's intervention in the past, American Communists looked forward to continued Comintern assistance in overcoming the severe problems the party faced: ending the interminable factionalism, unifying a membership divided among more than a dozen language groups, and raising the ideological level of the party. Most American Communist leaders, including Cannon, the future leader of American Trotskyism, supported Bolshevisation as a solution to the party's problems. However, Bolshevisation had two edges: it promised a strong party, transcending the weakness that had plagued the American Communists for five years.

Keywords: American Communists; American Trotskyism; Cannon; factionalism; Zinoviev's 'Bolshevisation' campaign



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