Excerpts from the Classics: Fascism and the Fight Against It

November 12, 2002


Fascism and the Fight Against It

Dimitrov, George, “Against Fascism & War”, Report to the 7th World Congress, Communist International, 1935 (Excerpts)

“But it is characteristic of the victory of fascism that this victory, on the one hand, bears witness to the weakness of the proletariat, disorganized and paralyzed by the disruptive Social- Democratic policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, and, on the other, expresses the weakness of the bourgeoisie itself, afraid of the realization of a united struggle of the working class, afraid of revolution, and no longer in a position to maintain its dictatorship over the masses by the old methods of bourgeois democracy and parliamentarism.

“…fascism in power … [is]the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital. (p.2)

“No, fascism is not a power standing above class, nor government of the petty bourgeoisie or the lumpen-proletariat over finance capital. Fascism is the power of finance capital itself. It is the organization of terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia. In foreign policy, fascism is jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations.

“This, the true character of fascism, must be particularly stressed because in a number of countries, under cover of social demagogy, fascism has managed to gain the following of the mass of the petty bourgeoisie that has been dislocated by the crisis, and even of certain sections of the most backward strata of the proletariat. These would never have supported fascism if they had understood its real character and its true nature. (p.3)

“All this, however, does not make less important the fact that, before the establishment of a fascist dictatorship, bourgeois governments usually pass through a number of preliminary stages and adopt a number of reactionary measures which directly facilitate the accession to power of fascism. Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and the growth of fascism at these preparatory stages is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory. “What is the source of the influence of fascism over the masses? Fascism is able to attract the masses because it demagogically appeals to their most urgent needs and demands. Fascism not only inflames prejudices that are deeply ingrained in the masses, but also plays upon the better sentiments of the masses, on their sense of justice and sometimes even on their revolutionary traditions. Why do the German fascists, those lackeys of the bourgeoisie and mortal enemies of socialism, represent themselves to the masses as ‘Socialists’, and depict their accession to power as a ‘revolution’? Because they try to exploit the faith in revolution and the urge towards socialism that lives in the hearts of the mass of working people in Germany.

“Fascism aims at the most unbridled exploitation of the masses but it approaches them with the most artful anticapitalist demagogy, taking advantage of the deep hatred of the working people against the plundering bourgeoisie, the banks, trusts and financial magnates, and advancing those slogans which at the given movement are most alluring to the politically immature masses.”Fascism delivers up the people to be devoured by the most corrupt and venal elements, but comes before them with the demand for ‘an honest and incorruptible government.” Speculating on the profound disillusionment of the masses in bourgeois-democratic governments, fascism hypocritically denounces corruption. (p.5-7)

“Whether the victory of fascism can be prevented depends first and foremost on the militant activity of the working class itself, on whether its forces are welded into a single militant army combatting the offensive of capitalism and fascism. By establishing its fighting unity, the proletariat would paralyze the influence of fascism over the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, the youth and the intelligentsia, and would be able to neutralize one section of them and win over the other section.

“Second, it depends on the existence of a strong revolutionary party, correctly leading the struggle of the working people against fascism…

“Third, it depends on a correct policy of the working class towards the peasantry and the petty-bourgeois masses of the towns. These masses must be taken as they are, and not as we should like to have them. It is only in the process of the struggle that they will overcome their doubts and waverings. It is only by a patient attitude towards their inevitable waverings, it is only by the political help of the proletariat, that they will be able to rise to a higher level of revolutionary consciousness and activity. Fourth, it depends on the vigilance and timely action of the revolutionary proletariat…(p.18-19)

“…The first thing that must be done, the thing with which to begin, is to form a united front, to establish unity of action of the workers in every factory, in every district, in every region, in every country, all over the world. Unity of action of the proletariat on a national and international scale is the mighty weapon which renders the working class capable not only of successful defense but also of successful counterattack against fascism, against the class enemy.

“Is it not clear that joint action by the supporters of parties and organizations of the two Internationals, the Communist and the Second International, would make it easier for the masses to repulse the fascist onslaught, and would heighten the political importance of the working class?

“Joint action by the parties of both Internationals against fascism, however, would not be confined in its effects to influencing their present adherents, the Communists and Social- Democrats; it would also exert a powerful impact on the ranks of the Catholic, Anarchist and unorganized workers, even upon those who have temporarily become the victims of fascist demagogy. Moreover, a powerful united front of the proletariat would exert tremendous influence on all other strata of the working people, on the peasantry, on the urban petty bourgeoisie, on the intelligentsia. A united front would inspire the wavering groups with faith in the strength of the working class. (p.24-25) “The establishment of unity of action by all sections of the working class, irrespective of the party or organization to which they belong, is necessary even before the majority of the working class is united in the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and the victory of the proletarian revolution.

“The Communist International puts no conditions for unity of action except one, and at that an elementary condition acceptable to all workers, viz., that the unity of action be directed against fascism, against the offensive of capital, against the threat of war, against the class enemy. This is our condition. (p.26)

“…The international proletariat has experienced the suffering caused by the split in the working class and becomes more and more convinced that the united front, the unity of action of the proletariat on a national and international scale, is at once necessary and perfectly possible.

“What is and ought to be the basic content of the unity front at the present stage? The defense of the immediate economic and political interests of the working class, the defense of the working class against fascism, must form the starting point and main content of the united front in all capitalist countries. (p.30)

“Communists, of course, cannot and must not for a moment abandon their own independent work of Communist education, organization and mobilization of the masses. However, to ensure that the workers find the road of unity of action, it is necessary to strive at the same time both for short-term and for long-term agreements that provide for joint action with Social Democratic Parties, reformist trade unions and other organizations of the working people against the class enemies of the proletariat. The chief stress in all this must be laid on developing mass action, locally, to be carried out by the local organizations through local agreements. (p.31)

“Joint action of the organized workers is the beginning, the foundation. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the unorganized masses constitute the vast majority of workers. (p.33)

“In mobilizing the mass of working people for the struggle against fascism, the formation of a wide anti-fascist People’s Front on the basis of the proletarian united front is a particularly important task. The success of the whole struggle of the proletariat is closely bound up with the establishment of a fighting alliance between the proletariat, on the one hand, and the laboring peasantry and basic mass of the urban petty bourgeoisie who together form the majority of the population even in the industrially developed countries, on the other. (p.34)

“The fundamental, the most decisive thing in establishing an anti- fascist People’s Front is resolute action of the revolutionary proletariat in defense of the demands of these sections of the people, particularly the working peasantry – demands in line with the basic interests of the proletariat – and in the process of struggle combining the demands of the working class with these demands.

“In forming an anti-fascist People’s Front, a correct approach to those organizations and parties whose membership comprises a considerable number of the working peasantry and the mass of the urban petty bourgeoisie is of great importance. (p.35)

“Embryo American fascism is trying to direct the disillusionment and discontent of these masses into reactionary fascist channels. It is a peculiarity of the development of American fascism that at the present stage it comes forward principally in the guise of an opposition to fascism, which it accuses of being an ‘un-American’ trend imported from abroad. In contradistinction to German fascism, which acts under anti-constitutional slogans, American fascism tries to portray itself as the custodian of the Constitution and ‘American democracy.’ It does not as yet represent a directly menacing force. But if it succeeds in penetrating the wide masses who have become disillusioned with the old bourgeois parties, it may become a serious menace in the very near future.

“…And here it must be said that under American conditions the creation of a mass party of the working people, a Workers’ and Farmers’ Party, might serve as such a suitable form. Such a party would be a specific form of the mass People’s Front in America and should be put in opposition to the parties of the trusts and the banks, and likewise to growing fascism. Such a party, of course, will be neither Socialist nor Communist.. But it must be an anti- fascist party and must not be an anti-Communist party. The program of this party must be directed against the banks, trusts and monopolies, against the principal enemies of the people, who are gambling on the woes of the latter. Such a party will justify its name only if it defends the urgent demands of the working class; only if it fights for genuine social legislation for unemployment insurance; only if it fights for land for the white and Black sharecroppers and for their liberation from debt burdens; only if it tries to secure the cancellation of the farmers’ indebtedness; only if it fights for an equal status for Negroes; only if it defends the demands of the war veterans and the interests of members of the liberal professions, small businessmen and artisans. And so on. (p.36-38)

Dimitrov, George, “Against Fascism & War”, IP 1986, Report to the 7th World Congress, Communist International, 1935

“It is difficult to imagine a higher degree of political shortsightedness and absurdity than to contrast the principles of the class struggle with the policy of the People’s Front, as some of our overzealous critics ‘from the left’ do in regard to the decisions of the Seventh Congress of the Communist International. We frequently observe the characteristic phenomenon that not a few Left Socialists, who have become disillusioned with the Social- Democratic policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, and are moving away from reformism, are frequently inclined to go to the other extreme and become the victims of sectarianism and Leftist excesses. They make the mistake of identifying the policy of the People’s Front with the policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, and demand ‘a pure working-class policy,’ declaring that the joint struggle of the working class and the democratic sections of the lower middle classes, the peasantry and intelligentsia against fascism constitutes a retreat from the position of the class struggle. But this does not at all mean that the People’s Front policy is identical with the policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie; it only shows that we must patiently explain the class meaning of the People’s Front policy to the sincere Left Socialists and help them to get rid of their own political shortsightedness, which can onlylay into the hands of fascism and reaction in general. (104-05)

Dimitrov, George, “Against Fascism and War”, The People’s Front, Dec. 1936, IP 1986

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