Communist Party of Australia

We acknowledge the Sovereignty of the First Nations’ Peoples.


Journal of the Communist Party of Australia

ISSUE 62October 2016

Editorial Comment:

During a time of outright assault by the class enemy, it is more important than ever to build unity in action amongst progressive forces. In the following article, originally published in 1998, Peter Symon drew parallels between the all-out attack on the working class represented by Fascism and growing trans-national corporate power in the 90’s. Since that time, there has been a further wave of anti-worker, anti-union legislation, the restriction and elimination of democratic rights with the excuse or a “war on terror” and a drift to war with China, Russian and any other country travelling a path not chosen for them by US imperialism.

Since the time of writing, multi-lateral trade treaties, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement have been added to the list of challenges facing the working class and other exploited people. If they are not defeated, they threaten to cement global corporate dictatorship in place. If revisiting the lessons from Dimitrov’s Report to the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International was important in 1998, it is urgent and overdue today!


Dimitrov and today’s fight against TNC dictatorship

In August 1935, just 63 years ago, the international communist movement warned the working people of the world that a fascist offensive had been launched against the people of all countries and called for a struggle against it.

Hitler had come to power in Germany in 1933. The capitalist world was still in the deep crisis of the Great Depression. Millions had been thrown out of work and impoverishment had spread in all the more developed industrial countries as well as in the colonial world. (Colonialism did not collapse until after World War II when one country after another won political independence from their former masters.)

In a report to a meeting of the Communist International in 1935, George Dimitrov, the Secretary of the International presented a magnificent outline of fascism, its aims, the fact that it represented a counter-offensive of capitalism against the working class of all countries and particularly against the socialist Soviet Union.

Fascism was described by Dimitrov as “the open, terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital”.

Nazi Germany had launched a drive for world domination through war even though World War II was not to break out in its full devastating fury for another four years – in 1939.

However, the consequences of the rise to power by Hitler and Mussolini were not understood by many and there were those in high places who praised fascism. One of these was Australia’s Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, who visited Germany and returned to praise what Hitler was doing.

In Britain, France and the US there were many politicians in the leadership of these countries who wanted to do a deal with Hitler, hoping that Nazi Germany would launch a war against the socialist Soviet Union and that both Germany and the Soviet Union would exhaust themselves, leaving Britain and France to dominate Europe. Their main objective was the destruction of socialism in the Soviet Union – at that time the only socialist country in the world.

Dimitrov’s report not only described fascism in all its bestiality but also showed how, by rallying the working class and all other progressive forces in society, it would be possible to turn back and defeat the fascist offensive.

Vic Williams has done us a good turn by calling for Dimitrov to be revisited. The world’s working class and all progressive humanity is once again faced with a counter-offensive coming from the big corporations and the governments which are promoting their interests.

What Dimitrov had to say in his brilliant report is as relevant now as it was then and its re-reading is very rewarding. Its clarity, its militancy, its revolutionary outlook and its application of Marxism-Leninism to the tasks of the times can help us in the struggle that is now unfolding as we face attempts to impose a new international capitalist dictatorship.

Today it is the transnational corporations who hold the power and although there is no similar figurehead to Hitler, there are many prime ministers and politicians who are implementing the policies that the TNCs demand.

There are many differences between the 1930s and 40s and today, but there are also many similarities. The capitalist class is still the ruling class in most countries and the struggle by the working class against capital is rising again in its intensity.

The numerical size of the world’s working class is many times what it was in the 1930s. The former colonial countries have won their political independence but most former colonies remain under the economic domination of the European and American colonial powers. Now we have neo-colonialism.

There have been far-reaching technological changes. There are now nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction to contend with.

The size of the big corporations has also grown enormously and, whereas in the 1930s many of the big companies limited their operations within national boundaries, today’s transnational corporations have extended their tentacles into many countries and control enormous material and financial wealth and power.

Other aspects remain fundamentally the same. The exploitation of labour by capital has not changed. This remains the source of profit for the big corporations. The capitalist ruling class maintains its class rule by use of the state machine and a very sophisticated media network.

This is now the period that the TNCs call globalisation. They are out to place the whole world under their power and control. They have been moving in this direction for a number of decades already and for this purpose have created organisations such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

A final part of their plans is to be played by the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which, if it were to be implemented, would give unrestricted power to the TNCs over every single government in the world.

If their plans were to succeed we would have another dictatorship, the dictatorship of the TNCs. It would be fascism, perhaps without a Hitler, but fascism none-the-less. The democratic rights and institutions which have been built up in decades of struggle would be swept away, just as Hitler destroyed the democratic institutions and rights of the German people in 1933 and then in other countries as the Nazi armies occupied one country after another.

Just as in the 1930s the situation represented the dictatorship of capital, so today, the big corporations are reaching out to consolidate their unfettered power over all the peoples and all existing governments. Furthermore, they will fight to the death to prevent the re-emergence of a socialist Soviet Union and the establishment of socialism in other countries.

In 1935 Dimitrov asked the question: “How can fascism be prevented from coming to power and how can fascism be overthrown”.

He answered the question: “The first thing that must be done, the thing with which to commence, is to form a united front, to establish unity of action of the workers in every factory, in every district, in every country, all over the world. Unity of action of the proletariat on a national and international scale is the mighty weapons which renders the working class capable not only of successful defence, but also of successful counter-offensive against fascism, against the class enemy.”

Fulfilment of the same tasks by the working class directed against the TNCs both nationally and internationally today, can prevent them from achieving their dictatorial objectives.

Dimitrov went on to say that the “joint action by the adherents of the parties and organisation of the two internationals, the Communist and the Second International (social-democratic or labour) would facilitate the repulse by the masses of the fascist onslaught and would enhance the political importance of the working class.”

While calling for unity between communist and social-democratic parties and individuals, Dimitrov was also critical of the leaders of the social-democratic parties. He said: “The Social-Democratic leaders glossed over and concealed from the masses the true class nature of fascism and did not call them to the struggle against the increasingly reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie.”

Today, social-democratic parties are largely implementing the socio-economic demands of the TNCs. They have pursued policies of de-regulation and privatisation and have merely called for amendments to the proposed MAI treaty rather than for its rejection. This sort of equivocation on important questions disarms and confuses the working class in the face of a threat which is even more far-reaching in its consequences than even that of fascism in the 1930s and 40s.

But Dimitrov did not limit himself to the united front of the working class. He called for an “anti-fascist people’s front”.

This task is sometimes forgotten and becomes buried while seeing only the united front of the working class.

Dimitrov said in 1935:

In the mobilisation of the toiling masses for the struggle against fascism, the formation of a broad people’s anti-fascist front on the basis of the proletarian united front is a particularly important task. The success of the entire struggle of the proletariat is closely connected with the establishment of a fighting alliance between the proletariat on the one hand and the toiling peasantry and the basic mass of the urban petty bourgeoisie constituting a majority of the population of even industrially developed countries.

We must explain concretely, patiently and persistently, who ruins the artisans, the handicraftsmen, with taxes, imposts, high rents and competition impossible for them to withstand, who throws into the street and deprives of employment the broad masses of the toiling intelligentsia.

In forming the anti-fascist people’s front, a correct approach to those organisation and parties to which a considerable number of the toiling peasantry and the mass of the urban petty-bourgeoisie belong is of great importance.

This idea has been incorporated in the call of the Communist Party of Australia for the formation of a “left and progressive political alternative” in Australia which incorporates as its core working class organisations but is extended to the parties of the liberal petty-bourgeoisie, small farmers and scientifically and technically trained, educators, doctors, etc.

This idea does not in any way represent a departure from the fundamentally important role that the working class has to play but it recognises the possibility that on some issues the political parties of these other social forces can be won to the struggle against the big corporations.

Dimitrov said:

... we must put an end all along the line to what frequently occurs in our practical work – the ignoring of, or contemptuous attitude towards the various organisations and parties of the peasants, artisans and urban petty-bourgeois masses.

On the question of the ideological struggle he said:

One of the weakest aspects of the anti-fascist struggle of our Parties lies in the fact that they react inadequately and too slowly to the demagogy of fascism ... Many comrades did not believe that so reactionary a variety of bourgeois ideology as the ideology of fascism ... was capable of gaining a mass influence at all. This was a great mistake. We must under no circumstances underrate this fascist capacity for ideological infection. On the contrary, we must develop for our part an extensive ideological struggle on the basis of clear, popular argumentation and a correct, well thought-out approach to the peculiarities of the national psychology of the masses of the people.

Today, the ideological machine of the ruling class is more active than ever in its attempts to brain-wash the people into accepting their policies and their continued class rule. It is also more sophisticated. The defeat of fascism and the popular understanding of fascism and its barbarity makes it difficult for the ruling classes of today to go down that path again as much as they would like to.

Today, the tactics of the ruling class are more flexible and they have evolved a whole lexicon of words by which they hope to conceal their real intentions. The exposure of the ideological premises of capitalism and imperialism is just as important today as it was when Dimitrov reported to the Communist International in 1935.

The third important part of Dimitrov’s report refers to the important and indispensable role falling to the communist parties.

“In the struggle for the establishment of the united front the importance of the leading role of the Communist Party increases extraordinarily. Only the Communist Party is at bottom the initiator, the organiser and the driving force of the united front of the working class,” said Dimitrov.

“The Communist Parties can ensure the mobilisation of the broadest masses of the working people for a united struggle against fascism and the offensive of capital only if they strengthen their own ranks in every respect, if they develop their initiative, pursue a Marxist-Leninist policy and apply correct, flexible tactics which take into account the concrete situation and alignment of class forces.”

But he warned that the leading role of communist parties had to be merited and the confidence of the working people won not by ranting but by taking our political work seriously and by mass activity and correct policies. “Patiently, step by step, we must make it easier for the broad masses to come over to the positions of communism. We ought never to forget these warning words of Lenin ... ‘we must not regard that which is obsolete for us as being obsolete for the class, as being obsolete for the masses.’ ”

Dimitrov was mindful of two main ideological weaknesses in Communist Parties. He called for “a successful struggle against any tendency towards an opportunist adaptation to the conditions of capitalist stabilisation and against any infection with reformist and legalist illusions.”

[But] “less successful and frequently entirely lacking was the fight against sectarianism.”

He blasted sectarianism “with its doctrinaire narrowness and to which mountains are mere stepping-stones.” “In our day”, said Dimitrov, “this is often no longer an ‘infantile disorder’ as Lenin wrote, but a deeply rooted vice, which must be shaken off or it will be impossible to solve the problem of establishing the united front of the proletariat and of leading the masses from the positions of reform to the side of the revolution.”

These are just a few of the main points from revisiting Dimitrov’s report. They were extremely relevant to the struggle against fascism which ended in its defeat. They remain relevant to the present struggle which is taking place on a global scope – the struggle against the “New World Order”, against the drive by the TNCs for globalisation. If they were to succeed a new form of world-wide dictatorship would be imposed many times more devastating and barbarous for the working class and to humanity as a whole than even that of Hitlerism.

Dimitrov’s 1935 report can help us to defeat the new counter-offensive of big capital against the workers of the world. There is not a single aspect of the then struggle against fascism that was neglected in Dimitrov’s report. None of his remarks have become dated or irrelevant.

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