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The First International
The Second International
By 1889, socialist parties had been founded in numerous European nations and the need for another International was felt. The Second, or Socialist, International, was founded in that year at a Paris congress, and it later set up permanent headquarters in Belgium, with Emile Vandervelde as its president. This International was predominantly political in character, and the German and Russian Social Democratic parties were its most important elements. Its early leaders included Engels, August Bebel, Karl Kautsky, and Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov.
Despite the ideological schisms that plagued socialism during this period, the Second International did much to advance labor legislation and strengthen the democratic socialist movement. It failed, however, in what was perhaps its primary concern—the prevention of war. On the outbreak (1914) of World War I nearly all the socialist parties supported their individual governments, and the Second International collapsed.
The Third International (Comintern)
After the victory of Communism in the Russian Revolution (1917), a Third, or Communist, International was created (1919). Under the leadership of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, this Communist International, or Comintern, hoped to foster world revolution. The Comintern was not generally acceptable to socialist labor groups, however, and was dissolved in 1943.
After World War II, the Comintern was replaced (1947) by the Communist Information Bureau, or Cominform, which aided the seizure of power by the Communists in Czechoslovakia. Because of world political pressures the Cominform lost its influence and power after 1948 and became a vehicle for Soviet propaganda. It was disbanded in 1956.
The Socialist International
See J. Joll, The Second International, 1889–1914 (1955); M. M. Drachkovitch, ed., The Revolutionary Internationals, 1864–1943 (1966); J. Braunthal, History of the International (2 vol., 1967). See also bibliographies under communism and socialism.
a group of German left-wing social democrats which was formed at an underground conference held in Berlin in March 1915. The group issued a journal under the same name in April 1915, including articles by K. Liebknecht, R. Luxemburg, C. Zetkin, and F. Mehring. The group organized antiwar demonstrations in a number of cities and prepared and distributed materials furthering the political education of the masses. A program of revolutionary struggle against the war was worked out and was approved by an all-German conference of the International on Jan. 1, 1916. From this time, the group became known as the Spartacus group, later adopting the name “Spartacus League.”
REFERENCESGeschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, vol. 2. Berlin, 1966.
Wolgemuth, H. Die Entstehung der Kommunistischen Partei Deutsch-lands 1914 bis 1918. Berlin, 1968.