One of the abiding Cold War myths was that Stalin, or perhaps the Russian Communist Party directed the world-wide revolutionary movement through the Comintern. I hear it even today from old Trots, who suggest that one group or another used to follow Stalin’s orders. It was a question Stalin himself was asked by delegates from the USA in 1927.

The assertion that the American Communists work under “orders from Moscow” is absolutely false. No Communist in the world would agree to work “under orders” from outside against his own convictions, against his will, and contrary to the requirements of the situation. And even if there were such Communists they would not be worth a farthing.

The Communists are the boldest and bravest of people, and they are fighting a host of enemies. The merit of the Communists is, among other things, that they are able to stand up for their convictions. It is, therefore, strange to speak of American Communists as having no convictions of their own and capable only of working “under orders” from outside …

Some people think that the members of the Communist International in Moscow do nothing but sit and write instructions to all countries. More than sixty countries are affiliated to the Comintern, so you can picture to yourselves the position of the members of the Comintern, who neither sleep nor eat, but sit day and night writing instructions to all those countries. (Laughter.) (Works, volume 10, pp. 134-35).

Come to think of it, Marx and Engels and the First International were widely accused of ‘master-minding’ the Paris commune in 1871.

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