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Issue #1794      September 13, 2017

Georgi Dimitrov

Against Fascism and War

On August 2, 1935, Georgi Dimitrov delivered to the 7th Congress of the Communist International his report “Against Fascism and War”. Hitlerism had come to power in Germany two years earlier and had launched a savage offensive against the German working class.

Hitler made clear the aggressive intentions of the German capitalist ruling class and their aim of world domination. The Nazis were backed by the big monopoly companies and banks. Racism became official government policy.

Georgi Dimitrov had already become a world figure because of his fearless exposure of the Nazi leaders at the Reichstag fire trial: the provocation instigated by the Nazi regime to justify their repressive measures.

Dimitrov’s report had a worldwide influence in rallying the people of many countries to the danger of fascism. It is timely to recall the main ideas contained in the report because of the new danger of fascist trends in a number of countries, including Australia. The ideas in the report remain valid today

Dimitrov’s speech, given on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, described fascism as “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital”.

He said that “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”.

Nevertheless, “fascism is a most ferocious attack by capital on the toiling masses;” it is “rabid reaction and counter-revolution” and “the most vicious enemy of the working class and of all the toilers.”

Dimitrov warned that “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”.

The report asked: “Can the victory of fascism be prevented?” Dimitrov answered “Yes!”

In the first place, this depends on the militant activity of the working class, on its fighting unity in combatting the capitalist offensive.

Secondly, it depends on the existence of a strong revolutionary party, correctly leading the struggle of the working people against fascism.

Thirdly, said Dimitrov, it depends on a correct policy by the working class towards the intermediate strata such as non-monopoly farmers, professionals, intellectuals and the self-employed, adopting a patient attitude, winning them over to the struggle against fascism.

Fourthly, it depends on whether the politically conscious working class exercises vigilance and takes action at the proper time, “It must not allow fascism to catch it unawares, it must not surrender the initiative to fascism, it must inflict blows on the latter before it can gather forces,” said Dimitrov.

Most essential was a united front of the working class, the unity action of the workers in every factory, in every district, in every region, in every country, all over the world.

“The establishment of unity action by all sections of the working class, irrespective of their party organisational affiliation, 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 attaches no conditions to unity of action except one, and that elementary condition acceptable for 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.”

Dimitrov went on to say that the “defence of the immediate economic and political interests of the working class, the defence of the working class against fascism, must form the starting point and main content of the united front all capitalist countries”.

The issues for such joint struggle were the demand to shift the burden of the crisis on to the shoulders of the ruling class, defence of the gains and rights of the working people and the existing bourgeois-democratic liberties, and opposition to the approaching danger of imperialist war.

Dimitrov also called for a broad people’s front against fascism, with a united front of the working class as Its leading core.

He said that the success of the struggle against fascism was closely connected with the establishment of a fighting alliance between the working class on the one hand and the working farmers and urban petty-bourgeoisie on the other.

He pointed out that, together, these forces constituted a majority of the population in every industrialised country. Dimitrov stressed that it was particularly important for the working class to defend the demands of the intermediate strata, particularly the working farmers.

Speaking about the ideology of fascism, Dimitrov said: “Many comrades did not believe that so reactionary a variety of bourgeois ideology as the ideology of fascism, which in its stupidity frequently reaches the point of lunacy, was capable of gaining a mass influence at all. This was a great mistake.”

Dimitrov devoted a whole chapter of his report, to the role of the communist parties in the struggle against fascism. In Australia, this section has often been overlooked and its importance for the success of a united front of the working class underrated.

Dimitrov pointed out that “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”. The communists should “strengthen their own ranks in every respect”.

In working for the formation of the united front against fascism, Dimitrov warned against adopting sectarian attitudes. Sectarianism, he said, “finds expression particularly in over-estimating the speed at which they are abandoning the positions of reformism, in attempts to leap over difficult stages and over complicated tasks of the movement. Methods of leading the masses have in practice been frequently replaced by the methods of leading a narrow party group.”

Dimitrov also warned against the danger of right opportunism which, he said, “will increase in proportion as the wide united front develops”.

He pointed out: “A successful struggle for the establishment of the united front imperatively demands constant struggle in our ranks against tendencies to depreciate the role of the Party, against legalist illusions, against reliance on spontaneity and automatism.”

Dimitrov said that the party must be a militant party, a revolutionary party, capable of leading the working people in the struggle for power and capable of orienting itself in the complicated problems that arise.

The struggle against fascism in the 1930s and 40s failed to prevent the Nazis from plunging the world into the bloodbath of the Second World War. Only in the crucible of war did an alliance come into existence which defeated Nazism militarily. It cost 50 million lives, however.

Dimitrov’s report has never lost its relevance. However, the present danger of nuclear war and the emergence of militarist and fascist tendencies in a number of countries makes this relevance even more pressing.

This time the price of failure to stop the dangers in time will be unimaginably greater than in World War II.

This article appeared in the Guardian, July 10, 1985

Peter Symon was General Secretary of the CPA

Next article – Korea – What the media isn’t telling you

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