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The Comintern (from Communist International) is a commonly-used name for the Third International. It was formed on the initiative of Lenin and the Russian Communist Party (later the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or CPSU), as the Second International had betrayed socialism by the support of its major sections for the First World War.

Founded in March 1919 the Comintern would hold seven World Congresses, the last in 1935, until it was dissolved in 1943. Left Communists today recognise only the first two congresses and groups coming out of the Bolshevik Leninist or Trotskyist movement recognise the decisions of the first four only. However all seven traditionally form the bedrock of the mainstream Communist Parties and of the various Maoist and anti-revisionist parties.

Lenin had previously written of his extreme disgust with the way in which many European Social-Democrats had failed to oppose World War I, and was particularly critical of individuals such as Karl Kautsky and Ramsay MacDonald, disparagingly describing them as Social-Chauvinists (socialists in words, chauvinists in deeds) in the case of the latter and social pacifism in the case of the former.

This failure of the Second International Social-Democrats prompted the Bolsheviks to adopt the name Communist in place of Social-Democrat, and to convoke the Third International.

Central to the policy of Comintern was that Communist parties should be established across the world to aid the international proletarian revolution, and the idea of democratic centralism, which involved rigid control of the Communist Party from the centre.

The following parties and movements were invited to the First Congress of the Communist International.

For a party to join the Comintern it had to accept 21 conditions. Some of these were:

The first Chairman of the Comintern's Executive Committee was Grigory Zinoviev from 1919 to 1926 when he was dismissed after falling out with Stalin. Nikolai Bukharin led the Comintern for two years until 1928 until he too fell out with Stalin.

In 1938 Leon Trotsky formed the Fourth International as a rival to the Comintern believing that the Third International had become thoroughly bureaucratised and Stalinized and was no longer capable of regenerating itself into a revolutionary organization since the calamitous defeat in Germany.

The Comintern was dissolved by Stalin on May 15, 1943 who wished to reassure his World War II Allies, particularly Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, that the USSR was no longer pursuing a policy of trying to foment revolution.

In 1947 the Cominform or Communist Information Bureau was created as a substitute. It was a network made up of the Communist parties of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. It too was dissolved in 1956.

While the pro-Moscow Communist parties of the world no longer had a formal international organisation they still took their leadership from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and would have periodic meetings in Moscow, the most notable one being in 1962 where the Sino-Soviet split became public for the first time. There was especially close coordination between the CPSU and the Communist Parties of the Warsaw Pact.

See also: List of Communist Parties, List of members of the Comintern

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