William F. Dunne
The opportunist distortion and perversion of the popular front program, the program developed by Dimitroff and Manuilsky so effectively at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International, is the most recent theoretical foundation for “notorious revisionism,” and its further perversion on the basis of false analysis of class forces and the historical development of fascism. This revisionism, which during the war and after the defeat of Germany developed to its full and final form and led to CP dissolution was also rampant in the late ’30s when, in spite of membership opposition, the Communist groups in the unions and other mass organizations were dissolved. The party organizations, its press and political support were turned over to John L. Lewis and Philip Murray without programmatic guarantees. The CP influence was handed over to capitalist party politicians–democrat and republican–without programmatic guarantees.
The new phase of crass opportunism consists in the attempt to make the Communist Party a “pure and simple progressive” middle class, reformist party and to justify this by false and defeatist estimates of class relationships and the stage of the anti-fascist struggle. The following quotation presents the position with rare clarity:
“The unfolding postwar period in the U.S. reveals that, notwithstanding the military defeat of the Axis, we are still in the historic period of the struggle against fascism.” (Jerome: Political Affairs, January 1946. Our emphasis)
This is one of the flimsy foundations of the opportunist attempt by the party leadership to substitute for a socialist program and anti-capitalist struggle of the American workingclass, a “coalition” organized around a reformist and petty-bourgeois program supposedly designed to save capitalist democracy in the United States from Fascism. The frivolous phrase, “we are still in the historic period of the struggle against Fascism”, furnishes the false basis for the effort to apply, after the end of a world war in which the fascist imperialist Axis was destroyed, a program developed twelve years ago, in the face of worldwide spread and successive victories of Fascism.
The deception here is in the attempt to minimize the decisive political changes that have occurred in the last twelve years. This is accomplished by assuming, in all innocence of course, that the threat and danger of fascism is subject to no fluctuations–even when its main axis has been crushed and powerful democratic socialist and revolutionary popular national liberation forces released all over the world. With such reasoning accepted, the socialist struggle of the workingclass for the abolition of the capitalist system can be postponed until “tomorrow and tomorrow”.
Fascism develops out of the economic contradictions and the resultant social conditions under Imperialism. The threat of Fascism will exist as long as the capitalist system lasts. The only way to destroy the Fascist danger permanently is to abolish the capitalist system and establish socialism. To achieve this historic task a Marxist-Leninist Party of the workingclass is necessary which will furnish political leadership based on Leninist theory, strategy and tactics for this imperialist epoch –the epoch of moribund capitalism, “the period of wars and revolutions.”
The CPUSA is not such a party when, in the main report of the Plenary Meeting, July 1946, it is proclaimed without shame that the CP is parading proudly behind the careerist and bureaucratic official leadership of the labor movement and the middle class “progressives” in the capitalist parties.
“The essential point of such an immediate program of action–of a positive democratic front to promote maximum employment and security, to safeguard democracy and peace–have already been advanced by the CIO, PAC, NNC, UNAVA, the Farmer’s Union, etc, as well as by our party.” (Dennis, Political Affairs, September 1946. Our emphasis.)
This is exactly where the CP is. It is submerged in the morass of these ever-puzzled explorers of appeasement jungles. Where action on reformist demands is concerned, the CP leadership generally lags behind even these reformist forces (O’Dwyer on housing–where was the CP leadership and its two New York Councilmen?) The CP leadership does not support the immediate proposals of such forces from the correct position of an independent program.
It has degenerated to the position of lobbyists, glad-handers and glamourizers in and of this jellyfish petty-bourgeois movement which to date is tied to the tail of the two parties of American imperialism. The opportunist leadership of the CP rejects as its main and immediate task gaining the support of workers for campaigning for a socialist program and in this way compelling an anti-capitalist direction for these mainly middle class and professional labor leader groups. The CP is drowned in the smelly depths of “practical” politics.
The CP leadership deceives the membership into believing that they will be able to determine the direction of these middle class groupings from the “inside” and replace Marxist criticism by the “me, too” method. If monopoly capitalist pressure on these middle class groups begets acceptance of one of these “democratic” programmatic demands that the CP has raised the cheers ring out because “we” have influenced these groups. But agreement is made always by the theoretical compromise on the part of the CP leadership. The CP now voices not even pious phrase mongering, but systematic profanation of the tenets of Marxist-Leninism.
This shameless opportunism is excused by the sentence: “We are still in the historic period of the struggle against Fascism.” This is supposed to justify the attempt to apply in perverted form a united front program which was distorted by these opportunists even before the CP membership and the workingclass in the U.S. were given a chance to understand its strategic and tactical implications. Even in its correct form, changes in class emphasis are necessary today in the United States.
It is necessary to determine with all possible precision the position of Fascism in the United States. The meaning of the term, “Fascism”, has not been made clear by this opportunist leadership. The term is used in the unscientific and un-Marxist manner, using vague and reformist phrases such as “fascist reaction,” transforming “automatically” every act of imperialist reaction into an immediate threat of Fascism. This creates confusion in the minds of workers and intellectuals as to whether the main enemy of the workingclass now is the “democratic” imperialist rulers–the Wall Street banks, their 100 giant corporations and their government–or only certain fascist groupings. They write:
“Capitalism today also automatically generates fascism. The great trusts and monopolies find that, with ever sharpening problems, they cannot continue to rule at home and carry out their program of imperialist aggression abroad without weakening or destroying the democratic organizations and liberties of the people. That is why Fascism came to Germany, Italy, Japan and other countries, and that is the great menace of Fascism in the U.S.” (Problems of Organized Labor Today, p. 43. Our emphasis)
The first and key sentence is a false statement. Capitalism does not generate fascism “automatically”. The phenomena it generates “automatically” are economic crises and depressions. Monopoly capitalism and its government tries to place the burden of the economic disruption (crises and depressions) created by the insoluble contradictions within their own system of production, on the working class and other exploited sections of the population. Private and government agencies try to cripple and halt the resistance of the workingclass. They threaten the restricted rights of workers which capitalist democracy allows. Monopoly capitalism–imperialism –can expand only at the expense of other nations and their peoples and of the workingclass at home.
Fascism is a special form of capitalist reaction and can develop into the form of government only under certain social and political conditions. The conversion of imperialist reaction into Fascism is not governed solely by the wishes of those who control the trusts and monopolies and dominate government.
In estimating the danger of Fascism in the United States, it is first of all necessary to keep in mind that Fascism is the special form of government in this period when the main sections of the national economy are monopolized, by which the capitalist class, stripped of all democratic pretenses, enforces its rule by terrorism and military dictatorship with all government positions in the hands of members of its fascist party, all democratic popular rights and popular electoral processes having been destroyed.
Fascism so far has become the operative form of the monopoly capitalist dictatorship, as against the capitalist-democratic form, in advanced countries where the socialist revolution was defeated (Italy, Germany) mainly because of the treachery of the social-democratic and reformist trade union leaders. The subsequent efforts of the reformists, (social democrats, liberals), to appease and placate the capitalist class and their feudal allies resulted, in the main burden of the economic crisis being placed upon the workingclass. The economic ruin of millions of the middle class had been accomplished but mass unemployment resulting from the economic crisis prevented their absorption into industry.
The disillusioned and rebellious masses of the population had lost all faith in reforms but their reformist leadership would not organize and lead them in struggle for the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. The fascist demagogs in the service of monopoly capitalism tapped this vast reservoir of popular discontent. Nationalism and imperialist expansion were substituted for the united socialist struggle against their own capitalist class. The Soviet Union, the peoples in neighboring countries, and the national, racial and religious minorities were substituted for the class enemy.
The second decisive fact to keep in mind is that in the two typical western European nations–Germany and Italy–fascism did not and could not have become (and remained) the special form of the capitalist dictatorship without the support of the ruling circles of monopoly in Great Britain, France, and the United States. This support was financial (loans and subsidies), diplomatic, moral, and technical.
Until the fascist-imperialist powers became a serious danger to “democratic” imperialist interests, they were its petted darlings in financial and government circles.
Third, there has to be some economic base even for the most skillful fascist demagogs and the most carefully worded fascist program. These advanced western nations where fascism was established in its classic form (Germany and Italy) were not and never have been economically self-sufficient. Both came late into the era of modern capitalism, and their belated efforts to become modern imperialist powers brought them only the leavings of the older imperialisms of Great Britain and France. The main sources of materials for heavy metal industry and modern transport, the major economic basis of monopoly, were already in stronger hands. Imperialist expansion at all costs was not a question of the distant future for the ruling circles in these countries–it was an immediate question of life for their capitalism–or defeat by socialism. This was the economic basis of the fascist appeal.
The fascist demagogs who are employed by monopoly capitalists in our country have no such half-truth with which to juggle. The workingclass of our country and its potential allies among the agrarian population and the lower middle class may be as politically backward as their enemies and many of those who call themselves friends like to claim.
But no single American who works for a living believes that this country has to make war to survive. On the contrary, he has been brought up to believe that this is the richest country in the world and, if need be, can and will be entirely self-sufficient.
He has seen the natural resources and productive capacity of this country flood the world with the products of heavy and light industry during the war period, when 12 million young men and women had been withdrawn from production. This is not a “have-not” nation. Fascist demagogs in the U.S. neither have nor can they conjure up any economic basis for their program of destruction of such liberties as bourgeois democracy permits.
The traditional parties of monopoly capital cannot introduce fascism as their state form. Their efforts to do so will arouse that type and scope of popular revolt which will guarantee their defeat.
The rise of fascism as the government form of monopoly capitalism in other countries, even countries so advanced industrially and socially as Germany, does not furnish an analogy of sufficient accuracy for use in setting a perspective for similar movements in the United States.
Here is one point where “American exceptionalism” should be allowed full play. There are those (among them people calling themselves Communists) who, by describing every typical manifestation of monopoly capitalist reaction, every “democratic” imperialist adventure as “fascist”, appear to be insisting that fascism must take over in the United States, even if only to prove their contention that monopoly capitalism “automatically generates” fascism–and to teach this “backward” American workingclass a needed lesson.
It is this kind of false and essentially defeatist speculation, passing itself off as Marxist-Leninist theory, which discredits Marxist-Leninist theory, strategy and tactics in the ranks both of the workingclass and intellectuals. He is no Marxist who will neglect, in estimating the danger of fascist victory in the United States, the positive anti-fascist influence of the 160-year old tradition of frontier, agrarian, and capitalist democracy in our country, even when its perversion in the case of the Negro people in the South is taken into consideration.
But, on the basis of evidence at hand of the process of fascist development in an advanced country ruled by monopoly capitalism (Germany, but keeping in mind the known defects in analogy), where conditions most nearly approached those in our country, it can be said with approximate accuracy that a fascist party, or parties, of a mass character arises when economic and social conditions have brought an alignment of class forces out of which a revolutionary situation is created. ”The rulers cannot rule as before, and the masses cannot live as before.”
Furthermore, where the fascist state has established itself in an advanced country through its indigenous mass party and its control of or alliance with the official military forces, as the government of monopoly capital, it has been able to do so only after one or more defeat of the socialist revolution and division of the forces of the workingclass by reason of the treachery, cowardice, and incompetence of the reformist leadership, and when the economic causes of the revolutionary situation remain.
The victory of fascism in France, Austria and Spain affords no basis for comparison since in these countries the fascist victory was secured mainly by infiltration, invasion arid open military aid from fascist countries for the overthrow of a social-democratic government and a popular reformist-capitalist coalition government, none of which had taken even the most elementary precautions against a fascist counter-revolution.
On the basis then, of the international experience of the workingclass and its Communist Parties in the advanced countries where the fascist system was established, it can be said that fascist mass movements arise as an offensive–moral, political, military–against the forces of the developing socialist revolution.
Disguised with demagogic anti-capitalist but chauvinist slogans, the fascist party tries to divert the rising discontent and militancy of the ruined and pauperized middle class and politically backward (in the class sense) but rebellious workers from effective anti-capitalist and socialist struggle. Fascist leaders play on all the strings of racial prejudice, ignorance, bigotry and superstition. They scream of “Jew-owned banks”, of “international Jewish loan sharks”, of the “black menace to white supremacy,” of “the American century,” of the ”Russian menace,” etc. The apologists of clerical fascism invent a new deceptive term for Marxists, Communists and Socialists: “Red Fascists”.
The necessary condition, on the basis of experience in other countries, for the rise of a mass fascist movement, is economic crisis over a prolonged period in which there is a rapid increase in the reserve army of labor–mass unemployment; a rapid and continual increase in the ravages of poverty and destitution among the workingclass and large sections of the middle class; an increase in skepticism among large sections of the middle class concerning the effectiveness of “democratic” political methods and the capacity of reformist measures to give substantial relief, as these prove miserably insufficient to solve the basic economic and social ills afflicting the great mass of the population.
Accompanying these conditions is the fact that the shrinkage of profitable markets and reduction of profits prompts the political machines of the parties of monopoly capital to withdraw patronage and protection of the hordes of the slum proletarians and the members of the underworld which flourish under capitalism in decay. These anti-social forces are recruited into the fascist parties. Only under such conditions have fascist parties and their backers gained substantial mass support.
It is obvious that Fascism, as the special repressive government form of monopoly capitalism is distinct from “democratic” imperialist reaction in that it has in its service a large and strongly disciplined mass party which aims at converting the democratic machinery of the capitalist state into the naked police and military dictatorship of the capitalist class and its fascist party.
The creation, therefore, of a fascist mass movement in the United States clearly is not an “automatic” process any more than the adoption of the system of planned production under fascist state control by the capitalist class, is an “automatic” process. Even in Germany, the favorite example of the exponents of the theory of “automatic generation” of fascism by monopoly capitalism, the Reichstag fire and the coup d’etat of 1933, were preceded by 15 years of great social convulsions in a militarily defeated and bankrupt nation.
“Fascism aims at the most unbridled exploitation of the masses, but it appeals to them with the most artful anti-capitalist demagogy, taking advantage of the profound hatred entertained by the toilers for the piratical bourgeoisie, the banks, trusts and the financial magnates, and advancing slogans which at the given moment are most alluring to the politically immature masses...
“It is in the interests of the most reactionary circles of the bourgeoisie that fascism intercepts the disappointed masses as they leave the old bourgeois parties. But it impresses these masses by the severity of its attacks on bourgeois governments and its irreconcilable attitude toward the old bourgeois parties.
“Fascism comes to power as a party of attack on the revolutionary movement of the proletariat, on the masses of the people who are in a state of unrest; yet it stages its accession to power as a ’revolutionary’ movement against the bourgeoisie on behalf of ’the whole nation’ and for ’the salvation’ of the nation.” (G. Dimitroff, THE UNITED FRONT AGAINST FASCISM, p. 9-11. Emphasis in original text).
The conversion of their capitalist-democratic form of disguised dictatorship to the open fascist type of dictatorship is not an automatic process for the ruling class. The forcible conversion of the government to the fascist form of capitalist rule engenders violent conflicts inside capitalist class circles somewhat like the murderous struggles between the giant oil monopolies for new fields of exploitation in the “backward” countries.
It must be kept in mind that while fascism is the unrestricted military and despotic dictatorship of monopoly capital and its robber class, aiming to maintain and extend its rule and its system, it does not and cannot afford to furnish the full freedom that class and its hangers-on enjoyed under the previous “democratic” form.
The dire need, superseding all other needs, to replace the destructive anarchy existing in monopoly capitalist production under capitalist democracy by planned production at new high levels under fascism while maintaining the supremacy of the capitalist class, necessitates the use of ruthless terror against the workingclass and merciless suppression of its organizations and leaders of all opposition parties.
This same process, arising out of the same need, gives rise to destructive struggles between various capitalist circles for supremacy–and immunity from the special forms of extortion practiced by the fascist party leaders.
The internal crises which fascism creates for the capitalists and the expressions of horror with which some capitalist circles greet the great social upheavals and organized cruelty on a mass scale which the Fascist war for power produces with the logic of a Greek tragedy, have influenced many vulgar economists and middle class commentators, who see only the surface aspects and miss their class content, to conclude that fascism is not capitalism but another system–economic and social. This is false. Such estimates aid only the fascists and their capitalist backers.
The fascist state form is the final, desperate effort of monopoly capitalism to maintain its class and its system in power. It is the projection of the military dictatorship of monopoly capital into all avenues of life–economic, political, social, cultural and moral.
“The accession to power of fascism must not be conceived of in so simplified and smooth a form, as though some committee or other of finance capital decided on a certain date to set up a fascist dictatorship. In reality, fascism usually comes to power in the course of a mutual, and at times severe struggle even within the fascist camp itself–a struggle which at times leads to armed clashes, as we have witnessed in the case of Germany, Austria and other countries.” Dimitroff. United Front Against Fascism. Page 9. Our emphasis) This violent social process is what the present opportunist leadership of the CP shrugs off with: “Capitalism today also automatically generates fascism.”
We have so far dealt with the problems that the capitalist class and its fascist forces face in order to expose the false conception of the “automatic development of fascism” which too often becomes the theory of the “automatic success of fascism.” The present CP leadership acts as if it were convinced that the struggle of the American workingclass against monopoly capitalism is already doomed by the rise of Fascism. “Let us not talk about the socialist revolution–the workingclass is not ready for socialism”. “Let us not act or talk in a manner that is revolutionary; above all, let us not provoke. Let us become respectable, morally unimpeachable, middle class progressives.” “Resurrect the Roosevelt program!”
The core of the opportunist leadership’s policy is precisely this appeasement, theoretical as well as well as practical, of the middle class supporters of “free enterprise” and is therefore appeasement of the most skillful defenders of monopoly capitalist-imperialism. The hope of appeasing “democratic” imperialism is behind these phrases which describe the CP as “the most consistent fighters for democracy”, “a genuine patriotic force”, “the true defenders of national security and of national interest”, “upholders of the democratic tradition of Lincoln and Jefferson, etc.”
Such people are incapable of fighting effectively against fascism and against imperialist war because they are not capable of organizing political preparation of the workingclass between wars for a struggle for a socialist United States as against the war program and system of monopoly capitalism. But the 60 imperial families cannot be appeased. They and their robber system must be fought and defeated.
The inevitable economic depression toward which the national economy is heading in our country will create an enormous reservoir of socialist potential whether this opportunist CP leadership wishes it or not. The relatively and absolutely worsened economic conditions will force the working class to look far beyond reformist solutions. Fascists will be able to develop a following but the extent of their success mainly depends on the extent to which the program and activity of the Communists succeeds in arousing and organizing the workingclass to recognize and fight fascist forces on all fronts–elections, strikes, armed conflict–as the mercenaries of monopoly capitalism. If the Communists have the mature workingclass forces, they will be able to lead the entire workingclass. They will be able to make alliances with the more resolute sections of the trade union officialdom and the discontented and fearful middle class. By taking the initiative in all fields and keeping it, the workingclass and its allies will be able to smash the fascist forces.
Communists today must develop such resolute leadership; must by Marxist socialist agitation and propaganda carried into all struggles on immediate issues, win decisive workingclass forces for socialism as the only victorious way out of monopoly capitalism, fascism and imperialist war. Only with such a program can the decisive forces of the workingclass be inspired and organized to rally and lead all democratic social forces to defeat the fascist forces of the Wall Street bankers and their great industrial corporations.
The world political situation in 1935 was characterized by the rise and extension of the fascist counter-revolution. In Italy, Germany, Japan, etc., fascism was firmly entrenched. In the other European capitalist nations, powerful fascist movements had developed and, backed as they were in the Axis powers by the enormous resources of monopoly capitalism of the United States and Great Britain, they constituted a major and growing threat. This was true as well of such small states as Portugal, Hungary, Austria, Finland, Poland, Bulgaria, etc. where various forms of reaction, with the aid of fascist and democratic imperialist capital were in control. The military attack on the Soviet Union was being prepared openly.
This was the situation which faced the international Communist, Socialist and labor movements in 1935. It made imperative a correct counter-offensive program and the question of strategic reserves paramount in the developing struggle against the fascist imperialist powers and their satellites.
The opportunist leadership of the CPUSA after declaring: “We are still in the historic period of the struggle against fascism”, proceeds to try to apply in detail this program as a principle in a country where the workingclass forces are a great majority of the population. With this phrase, and its corollary of “automatic generation” of fascism by capitalism, the present leadership denies the enormous weakening of the world position of American monopoly capitalism, denies the advances in class consciousness and organization which the American workingclass has made as a result of the ten year period of crisis and depression–1929-39; as a result of the war in alliance with the socialist Soviet power against fascist imperialism, and the crushing defeat of the fascist Axis. It denies the rapid sharpening of all the economic and social contradictions inherent in the system of monopoly capitalism.
It denies the enormous advances of the socialist sectors of the world and the influence of this on our class. With these false estimates and this policy of appeasement, this defeatist leadership denies that class alignments, as a result of the crushing of the fascist Axis, have changed in favor of the workingclass–and democratic socialist sectors of the world. For it, the “mood of the deputies” is the mood of the masses.
The rise of a fascist party of a mass character will create the basis for civil war in our country. Why is this so?
If one of the two traditional parties of monopoly capitalism is in power–Republican or Democrat –or a coalition of the two, the fascist forces will have government support, official and unofficial, since fascist parties no matter what their formal program, are primarily parties of attack on workers. They are both demagogic and terroristic instruments of monopoly-capital. (Little has been said about the significant fact that the Columbians had a number of anti-capitalist planks in their program.)
If the liberal-reformist groupings within the two parties–“progressives”–have the government machinery, they will be verbally antagonistic to the fascist forces but will urge restraint upon the workingclass and condemn all use of forcible means of resistance to fascist terrorism. In other words, these “democratic” forces will be “neutral”–and thereby aid the fascist forces. The benevolent attitude in official circles toward lynching and other terroristic practices in the South, toward the K.K.K., etc., is an example of what can be expected. (The F.B.I. and the Committee on Un-American Activities are hot on the trail of all whom they believe, or can make others believe, are Communists in influential and even humble public positions. But they cannot find any lynchers of Negro men and women after months of “investigation”.)
It is entirely possible that fascist parties, under one guise or another, may seize control of one or more important states–let us say Texas–where billions of dollars have been poured in by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for the benefit of powerful monopolies, and where racial and national (anti-Negro and anti-Mexican) hatreds are a major social and political factor. The whole question of fascism would then be hurled into the national political arena.
Shall the workingclass in the rest of the country come to the aid of its fellow workers in Texas–or shall it permit what amounts to secession from the Republic? Shall the labor movement be cajoled into accepting this state of affairs by pseudo-democratic arguments to the effect that the citizens of Texas have the right to set up a fascist form of government if they can be “persuaded” to do so?
In other words, will the rest of the workingclass and its close allies allow themselves to be persuaded that the right to set up a fascist system is also one of the privileges of people living under the capitalist democratic system of government?
Furthermore, it is no secret that the circles which are organized around the Roman Catholic hierarchy have put themselves at the service of the monopoly capitalists of our country. It is no secret that in the division of labor, which has taken place in the upper circles of monopoly capitalism, these clerical forces have chosen to spearhead the drive against Communists, Socialists, the workingclass, and other popular forces which support them, in this and all other countries. It is no secret that these forces are waging a campaign of unprecedented intensity and scope to prepare and promote war against the Soviet Union, against all countries, governments and peoples it chooses to call Communist, Socialist, or “Red Fascists”.
The reason for this division of labor is rather obvious. The overwhelming majority of Catholics (both Roman, Russian and Greek Orthodox) are found in the ranks of workingmen and women. They are (perhaps 90 percent) wage-earners, peasants and agricultural wage workers. The somewhat ironical fact is that without this great workingclass, there would not be many Communists. It is upon this great majority of Catholics that the burden of exploitation and oppression by monopoly capitalism and its feudal allies falls. As a consequence, the economic and social interests of this vast majority of the Catholic population of this country and the rest of the world are in direct conflict with the program and the political allegiance of the hierarchy to monopoly capitalism.
It is true that the hierarchy has its own pet state form–the corporative or theistic state, in which society is organized on a permanent class basis, as in medieval times. But this and the hierarchical organization of the Church itself makes intimate working arrangements with fascist government relatively easy since Socialism and Communism, which aim to abolish classes by abolishing exploitation of man by man, is naturally anathema to the hierarchical conception and its purposes.
It is easy to see therefore that an alliance with fascist forces and parties in the Protestant South, let us say, would be no serious problem for the Catholic hierarchy. They solved this and similar problems in Nazi Germany, Petain’s France, Fascist Italy, and Spain by one of those interpretations of the “moral law” for which the followers of St. Ignatius Loyola (and all leaders of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, for that matter) are justly famous.
It follows then that (with the Ku Klux Klan, for instance, now soft-pedaling the Catholic menace) fascist movements of the character described might find such allies in the northern industrial states, allies with great influence in various state and city governments.
Are the workingclass forces, and other democratic forces, to accept passively the fascist methods of conducting election struggles which such an alliance presupposes, or the fascist program applied by such an alliance if it secures a “majority” by “democratic” elections?
If these questions and their answers in terms of strategy and tactics of effective mass struggle against fascism are not on the order of the day, then what exactly is the meaning and purpose of the phrase “anti-fascist coalition”? This phrase is thrown into practically every programmatic statement issued by the present leadership of the CPUSA. It is already established by the bloody years of anti-fascist struggle that the rise of fascist parties cannot be prevented, nor can they be destroyed, merely by parliamentary processes. To convey this defeatist fallacy explicitly as this opportunist leadership does systematically is not to be in the vanguard of anti-fascist fighters but to aid the fascist demagogs and their monopoly capitalist backers.
In addition to this, there is proposed, as part of the “antifascist coalition”, types of leadership which, in a decisive struggle between fascist forces and the democratic organizations of the workingclass, will inevitably be on the side of the fascists–on one pretext or another.
The menace of fascism in our country is either real and immediate–or it is not.
If it is, then the proposal of a mere electoral and parliamentary alliance to meet and defeat it is in itself acknowledgement of hopelessness and surrender.
If it is not, then what is the reason for the rejection of a program for winning the workingclass, the political preparation of the workingclass for Socialism as the only victorious way to end the subordination of the majority of the workingclass to the minority of the capitalists–the apostles of profit, crises, unemployment, fascism and war as their only solution?
Further, only by a mechanical and grossly deceptive effort to use conditions in European countries, where the peasantry is a great majority or a powerful minority, countries in an entirely different stage of economic development, as a yardstick for the United States, can one arrive at the opportunist conclusion reached by the CP leadership, i.e., it is impossible, inadvisable, tactically wrong and consequently “sectarian”, a symbol of “cancerous leftism” or “semi-Trotskyist”, to make the main, major and immediate task of Communist the winning of the workingclass in our country for the abolition of the monopoly capitalist system and the establishment of a socialist system. Since monopoly capitalism and its capitalist-democratic form of government breed fascism, the threat of fascism continues to exist while the monopoly capitalist system lasts. By this opportunist method, the struggle to create a socialist workingclass is ruled out as the main and immediate task of Communists.
Is there a political contradiction in the struggle against fascist parties and fascist ideology and the winning of the workingclass for a socialist program? Is there a tactical contradiction? This leadership would have the workingclass believe there is. To bulwark this opportunist, defeatist conception, it tries to marshal evidence from the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany–and that of the popular front in prewar France. Here we can deal with but one of these examples:
It is necessary to state, as history records, that the Nazis came to power in Germany not because the leadership of the main body of the workingclass was trying to substitute a socialist system for that of monopoly capitalism as the solution of the economic and social contradictions–but because it was not. The leadership of the social-democracy was busy spreading the illusion of the democratic and impartial character of the German government up to and even after the establishment of the Nazi terrorist dictatorship.
Even the disastrous illusion of the “parliamentary immunity” of social democratic and even Communist Party members of the Reichstag persisted after the Reichstag fire and frame-up. This almost unbelievable phenomenon in the light of what actually took place–can be explained only by the fact that the illusions concerning bourgeois-democracy were strong enough to compel the conclusion that the fascist forces of monopoly capital would continue to operate solely on the parliamentary, i.e., “democratic” plane.
What does this mean in terms of monopoly capitalist offensive in the United States–directed against the main body of the workingclass, the organized labor movement and Communists?
Suppose the current government of monopoly capital enacts suppressive measures against the trade unions designed to divide unions on a plant basis, to curb and cripple them to the point of destroying the “legal” weapon of strike action, to compel them in cooperation with sections of the pro-capitalist officialdom, to become efficiency instruments of the corporations enforcing new and higher production norms. In other words, suppose the result of the offensive against the Communists, other minority parties and the unions is a series of repressive measures similar to those the pre-Nazi Bruening government enacted in Germany and which opened the workingclass front to fascism.
What is the labor movement and the workingclass, whose interests it is supposed to represent and defend, going to do? Is it going to accept these dictatorial measures in the interests of a small minority of monopoly capitalists as “legal” and consequently to be obeyed even if it means the gradual or rapid crippling and/or destruction of the organized labor movement as an effective weapon of its membership, and of the workingclass as a whole?
To talk of the menace of fascism without raising these vital questions is to aid the agencies of monopoly capital in their offensive. Such methods lull the workingclass (whose liberties, living standards, social status and organizations are the target) into passivity by dependence only on the electoral and parliamentary processes–dependence solely on the machinery which, because of the prevalence of illusion concerning the classless nature of the system of capitalist-democratic government, is being used successfully against them.
Anti-fascist “coalitions” must be fighting coalitions, employing every weapon of mass power against repression by the class enemy and its various agencies and instruments–or it is a coalition of mourners for a labor movement already facing defeat. An “anti-fascist coalition” in which the leadership is in the hands of reformist appeasers of monopoly capitalism and its spokesmen; a “coalition” which, by reason of its completely dominant reformist character is committed to compromises at the economic and political expense of the workingclass majority, guarantees not victory–but defeat.
These are the major issues in any attempt to estimate the status of fascism and fascist forces in our country. These are not issues with which to chippy around. To say that fascism is a real and imminent danger and not to tell the labor movement that it is a matter of life and death–mobilization of all its forces for an offensive against monopoly capital on all fronts is on the order of the day, is to play into the hands of its monopoly capitalist backers.
But worst of all is to convey the disastrous illusion that by abandoning all political preparation of the workingclass for the abolition of the disguised dictatorship of monopoly capitalism and the establishment of a democratic socialist system, the monopoly capitalist ruling class and its government can be induced to abandon its fascist objectives. This means, and has meant, disaster for the workingclass m every country, where this defeatist formula has prevailed.
We can see clearly now exactly what this opportunist logic creates in terms of class relationships and class leadership. In the United today, with the workingclass population in the great majority, the leaders of all political parties–Republican, Democrat, and all the “liberal and progressive” shadings in and around these parties, including the trade union bureaucracy, Social-Democratic groupings and their trade union bureaucrats, and that of the Communist Party, are united against anyone who proposes seriously to proceed in a systematic, Marxist-Leninist manner to win the workingclass for a program of Marxist Socialism.
This is indeed “notorious revisionism” in excelsis.
The practical political results of this rejection of the struggle to convince the workingclass of its irresistible strength and inevitable liberation by conscious struggle toward the socialist goal are that the work of the red-baiting enemies of the labor movement, of the workingclass and of its socialist emancipation, has been simplified.
With no political program independent of the middle class groupings, the trade union bureaucrats and the disgruntled members of the two capitalist parties, the Communist Party and Communists can be and are accused of anything and everything by the enemies of the Soviet Union, of the organized labor movement, of the Negro people, of the workingclass.
The answer that Communists are loyal citizens of the U.S.A.; that they are militant trade unionists; that they are friends of the Soviet Union; that they are for housing, lower prices, higher wages; against anti-Negro terror; for peace and against imperialist war, against Franco and fascism, anti-Semitism, etc. is no answer at all.
It is no answer at all because millions of workingmen and women will ask logically: “Why do you need a Communist Party to believe in and work and fight for or against these demands and issues? We believe in all or most of these things but we do see why that makes you a Communist.” That is a correct question and a basic and unanswerable criticism.
The bald and unpleasing truth is that by rejecting struggle for a socialist program in the labor movement CP leaders appear as opportunists anxious merely for official positions and power. Red-baiting cannot be exposed and defeated by this opportunist appeasement.
Communists in our country must rid themselves of the opportunist poison and corruption which has been accumulating for years as a result of the failure to realize its always present danger in this dominant imperialist country, with its relatively high economic and technical standards, with the continual infiltration of bourgeois influence and elements into their ranks; if Communists are able to say to the workingclass that they are of its flesh and blood; that they are members of a Marxist-Leninist political party because their class must have such a party (just as other classes must have their parties for their class purposes) to teach, organize and lead in the inevitable struggle to liberate itself by abolishing capitalism and classes and thereby liberate mankind; if Communists in our country are able to do this soon–and without opportunist equivocation–the way will be opened for the speedy entry of the American workingclass into the world arena as the decisive force for the socialist victory of the democratic workingclass forces throughout the world.