Our party is stronger for Dimitrov’s definition of fascism

BY:Queens Club, CPUSA| May 8, 2024
Our party is stronger for Dimitrov’s definition of fascism


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

It is crucially important that we learn the lessons of history in their proper context and in their proper chronological order. In this historical moment, our party has correctly identified the fascist danger which threatens the working class of the United States and the world. This is because our current definition comes directly from the Communist International who organized tirelessly amongst the working class and its allies to defeat fascism in the 1940s. Unfortunately, their fascist enemies were strengthened before the war in large part because of a critical miscalculation. Their obsolete definition, which is now favored by some on the left, is summed up by Joseph Stalin in 1924: “Social-Democracy is objectively the moderate wing of fascism.” The German communists who based themselves on this definition of fascism objectively failed; in 1933, the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany.

Having seen this loss and realized the counter-productive role of the “social fascist” theory and practice, the Communist International came together in 1935 to reject it in favor of the following definition, delivered by Georgi Dimitrov, soon-to-be General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International: “Fascism in power was correctly described by the Thirteenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International as the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” This is mirrored in our current party program from 2020: “Fascism would be the open terrorist dictatorship by the most reactionary, militarist, racist section of monopoly capital and the elimination of all avenues of popular resistance and protest.”

So we know historically that this definition works, and we now find ourselves in an era under threat from precisely the section of finance capital that Dimitrov names. Why is this useful definition of fascism, which has saved millions of lives and thus been proven correct historically, now found wanting for revision by some of our own members?

For us communists, theory and practice are connected, and so suggesting a change in theory implies that a change is needed in practice, and vice versa. A dissatisfaction with the party’s theory must indicate a dissatisfaction with the party’s practice. But is the party not resisting the advance of fascism right now?

For the violence directed at students and faculty on campuses nationwide, our organizers are directly engaging in the defense of students’ rights to organize and struggling for the demands to divest and call for a ceasefire.

For our slow-to-respond president Biden, our party leadership urges every club and district at every opportunity to build unity within the working class and to build working-class leadership of mass movements and organizations. This includes running our own candidates to take office when possible and, in any case, organizing and agitating in favor of the working and oppressed peoples of the US and the world on every issue. Since our president at this moment is Biden, we join the working class in condemning his support for the genocide in Gaza, and we organize for maximum unity in favor of peace.

As for elections in general, we encourage people to vote for the candidate whose positions on all the issues are the best of the available options. We obviously do not require our membership to register as Democrats or Republicans, but we do require them to vote in public elections. We do this because political offices are where power is exercised and policies are finalized; we’d be remiss to allow our enemies full reign on that front. Look at the long shadow that the extreme right has cast on us through former President Trump’s Supreme Court assignments. The Democrats and Republicans are distinguishable from one another in significant ways and are not equal threats to the working class, as is proven by economic and social statistics that vary over space (e.g., red states vs. blue states) or time (e.g., red presidencies vs. blue presidencies).

For government and corporate censorship, our party struggles daily for true freedom of speech that defends humanity, with some clubs and YCL chapters having been (shadow-)banned from TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter/X. One of the comrades in our club wrote an article for CPUSA.org calling for AI workers and other tech workers to organize specifically to counter the monopoly power that incentivizes companies to force the sale of TikTok while excusing, say, the sexual exploitation of minors on Meta’s Instagram.

As noted by our comrades and friends who have wished over the decades to revert to the “social fascist” theory of fascism, too many people live miserable lives and die horrible deaths under capitalism right now. We must assess our political situation and our response to it with an eye toward not playing a part in increasing that misery. Dimitrov warns against becoming blind to the difference between bourgeois (i.e., liberal) democracy and fascism. He also warns against becoming blind to the specific form that fascism takes in our current historical moment. Such mistakes can dull our strategy and end up costing us our lives. Fortunately for us, significant sections of our party are already appropriately wary of both errors in word and deed, and the rest of the party is following closely behind.

Let us remember that a theory is not correct because of who said it, but because it accurately describes reality, and we test that accuracy through practice.


    CPUSA club in Queens, NYC.

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