The Comintern and the International of the Proletarian Freethinkers in the Struggle against Religion and the Vatican
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The Comintern and the International of the Proletarian Freethinkers in the Struggle against Religion and the Vatican
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Evgenia Tokareva 
Affiliation: Institute of World History
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
In the 1920s and1930s the Soviet Union pursued its foreign policy both via relevant state agencies and with the help of other powerful instruments like the Comintern and its satellite or affiliated structures — the Agitprop (CPSU CC Propaganda Department), the Krestintern (Peasant International), the Profintern (Labour Unions’ International) etc. This system worked in the sphere of religious policies as well, though issues of religion were never a priority for the Comintern. This article is based on documents concerning the activities of a multilateral organization called the Proletarian Freethinkers International (PFI). Soviet representatives in this structure tried to use it, among other things, as a weapon against the Vatican and the Catholic Church. Though the movement of proletarian freethinkers was not initiated by the Comintern, the latter sought to gain control over it. The tactics in the sphere of anti-religious and anti-church propaganda in Europe as a whole, as well as policies toward PFI national member organizations varied depending on the domestic and international situation and was directly connected to the Comintern’s decisions. In practice the situation in the PFI was decisively influenced by the so-called “third period theory” adopted by the Comintern’s member parties after its VI Congress in July 1928. According to this theory fascism and social democracy were regarded as the main forces hindering the revolutionary movement of the working class. Since that time social democrats were condemned by them as “social fascists”. As most of PFI national member organizations were headed by socialists or social democrats, Soviet representatives in the International waged an active struggle against them, which resulted in the split of the PFI. However, the aggravated situation in certain countries (Germany and Czechoslovakia, for instance) and the Comintern’s lack of commitment (this direction of activities was never a priority for it) together with the new shift in the Comintern’s tactics – the idea of a United Front as a coordination center for workers of various political orientation, including socialists, anarchists, non-partisan individuals and even Catholics — resulted in a de facto failure of the PFI part influenced by Communists, which led to its merger with the International Freethinkers Federation: an act that the Soviet side had previously opposed.
The Comintern, Proletarian Freethinkers Movement, the Church, Religion, the Vatican, the Union of the Godless
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