07/08/2019 by socialistfight
By Gerry Downing 7-8-19
The Morning Star comment, “the left must be on guard against a national government” is correct in its conclusion, ‘even a major break with a significant number of MPs leaving the party would do less damage than meek participation in such a government’. [i]
We say this from the standpoint of left remain believing that the internationalist perspectives of the working class must be to the EU working class against EU imperialism and world working class, against US imperialism, but at the same time and primarily against its own ruling class. “The main enemy is at home” is the title of the pamphlet written in 1915 Karl Liebknecht; “The main enemy of the German people is in Germany: German imperialism, the German war party, German secret diplomacy” he wrote. “This enemy at home must be fought by the German people in a political struggle, cooperating with the proletariat of other countries whose struggle is against their own imperialists”.
Of course we do not agree with the Star Comment that, “If Labour acts as the party of the status quo, scrabbling to prevent Brexit at all costs despite all its MPs being elected on a promise to honour the vote, its chances of defeating Johnson shrink.”
If Labour is to win the next election it must project a strongly internationalist stance and refuse to capitulate to Boris Johnson’s and Nigel Farage’s English nationalism.
And the economic and political damage such a Brexit with do cannot be wished away with comments like this:
“Labour has unfortunately helped pave the way for such arguments by joining the hysteria over a no-deal Brexit, giving the impression that it is a calamity worth preventing at all costs.”
The damage that such a national government would do to the class consciousness of the British and international working class cannot be overemphasised. Paul Mason, once a fellow-Trotskyist, is obviously punting for such a government when he falsified the lessons of history, in his Guardian article of August 3, to advocate the popular fronts of the 1930s which led to the French and Spanish popular front governments as the path we should follow today.
“Labour must adopt a tactic from the 1930s: a popular front”, he wrote, “we need a one-off electoral arrangement between parties of the left and centre aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit and removing Johnson from Downing Street”.
“In 1935 the Bulgarian Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov single-handedly manouvered the Communist International into supporting calls for a “popular front” against fascism”. [ii]
Dimitrov didn’t manoeuvre anyone. He did what Stalin told him and the others in the Communist International, thoroughly ‘bolshevised’ by then, knew what was good for them and likewise did what they were told.
Mason says. “this consisted in formal electoral pacts with centrist socialists, left nationalist and liberals – and it paid off within six months”. In Spain the Popular Front took power in January 1936 and in May that year the Popular Front won in France, giving the country its first socialist prime minister.
It was a great deal more than “formal electoral pacts”. It followed the disastrous Third Period (1928-35), where all other working class organisations were ‘social fascists’ and they allied with the real Nazi fascists, who were, after all, only another variety of fascism, who were preferable to the Social Democrats because they had those lumpen workers in their ranks who might be won over by joint struggles against the Social Democrats and Finance Capital (Jews!). As a result of this the two main organisations of the German working class was fighting each other and Hitler took power without a shot being fired.
Now the popular front took a 360 degree turn and totally abandoned class politics to ally with the liberal democrats and the ‘democratic imperialists’. This went so well that it paved the way for Labour’s wartime coalition with Winston Churchill. This tactic was so good that it “halted or delayed the march to fascism in the 1930s”.
It obviously did not halt the march towards fascism and only delayed it until 1939. It facilitated the victory of fascism in Spain in April of 1939 and in France in June 1939 following the Nazi occupation. In conditions of frontal assault by the far right and eventually fascism the most precious commodity the working class possesses is their class independence; conceding that to the popular fronts with the liberal bourgeoisie denied them the possibility of fighting for socialism via revolution. This the former Trotskyist Paul Mason has forgotten, if he ever understood it in the first place [iii].
[i] Star Comment, 7-8-19, The left must be on guard against a national government https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/e/left-must-be-guard-against-national-government
[ii] Paul Mason, The Guardian, 2 Aug 2019, Labour’s best tactic to beat Boris Johnson? A popular front, Corbyn’s uncertainty over Brexit is costing the party dear – a progressive pact with Greens and Lib Dems is its only option, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/02/labour-boris-johnson-progressive-pact-greens-lib-dems
[iii] When I was a member of the Workers International League (1987-97), we had fusion discussions with Paul Mason’s group, Workers Power. We cooperated in producing joint leaflets for Irish demonstrations etc. but we made no further progress. Eventually they told us they were sending Paul Mason along to discuss with us. “well that’s the end of that” a leading member of the WIL observed to me, “they have sent us their wild dog”. Paul was an ultra-leftist in those days who took dogmatic, literalist stances on everything. This revealed itself as the opposite side of the same coin as opportunism, which is the sewer he wallows in now.
Dimitrov to Stalin, 1 July 1934. Original in Russian. Type-written, with handwritten comments by Stalin
From C. Dimitrov
Dear Com. Stalin!
The enclosed draft outline of [my] speech shows how I see the essence of the speech regarding the 2nd point of the agenda of the congress. In addition, I would like to raise in our forthcoming conversation the following questions:
I. On Social Democracy 
1. Whether it is correct to refer to social democracy indiscriminately as social-fascism. By taking such a position, we have frequently blocked our way to social democratic workers. 
2. Whether it is correct to consider social democracy everywhere and at all timesthe main social base of the bourgeoisie. 
3. Whether it is correct to consider all leftist s[ocial] d[emocratic] groups as a major threat under any conditions. 
4. Whether it is correct to treat all the leading cadres of s[ocial] d[emocratic] parties and of the reformist trade unions indiscriminately  as conscioustraitors of the working class. One can expect, after all, that in the course of struggle quite a few  of today’s leading functionaries of the s[ocial] d[emocratic] parties and of the reformist trade unions will choose the path of revolution along with the s[ocial] d[emocratic] workers. It is in our interest to facilitate this transition for them and thus accelerate the transition of the s[ocial] d[emocratic] workers to our side.
5. Whether it is time to abandon useless discussion about the possibility or the impossibility of winning over the reformist trade unions instead of clearly formulating the task for its members to transform these trade unions into an instrument of the proletarian class struggle. 
6. The question of unifying the revolutionary and reformist trade unions without making the recognition of the hegemony of the Communist Party a necessary condition. 
II. On the United Front
1. The necessity to modify our united-front tactics in response to the changed conditions. Rather than using them exclusively  as a maneuver to expose social democracy without seriously attempting to forge a real workers’ unity through struggle, we must turn them into an effective factor in developing the mass struggle against the offensive of fascism. 
2. The necessity to reject the idea that the united front can only be built from below, and to stop regarding any simultaneous appeal to the leadership of a s[ocial] d[emocratic] party as opportunism. 
3. The necessity to launch the active initiative by the masses without petty tutelage of the Communist parties in their relations with the organs of the united front. Not to declare the hegemony of the Communist Party but to assure the actual leadership by the Communist Party. 
4. The necessity to radically alter our attitude toward s[ocial] d[emocracy] and non-party workers in all our mass work, agitation, and propaganda. It is essential to go beyond the general statements about the treason of social democracy, and to explain to the workers, concretely and patiently, what the social democratic policy of cooperation with the bourgeoisie is leading to and has already led to.  [It is essential] not to dump everything on the s[ocial] d[emocratic] leaders but to point out the responsibility of the s[ocial] d[emocratic] workers themselves, to make then think about their own responsibility and to look for the right way of struggle, etc. 
III. Regarding the Comintern Leadership
It is essential to change the methods of work and leadership in the Comintern, taking into account that it is impossible effectively to oversee from Moscow every detail of life of all 65 sections of the Comintern, which find themselves in very different conditions (parties in the metropolis and parties in the colonies, parties in highly developed industrial countries and in the predominantly peasant countries, legal and illegal parties, etc).
It is necessary to concentrate on the general political guidance of the Communist movement, on assistance to the parties in basic political and tactical questions, on creating a solid Bolshevik leadership in the local Communist parties, and on strengthening the Communist parties with workers while reducing the heavy bureaucratic apparatus of the ECCI.
It is essential to further promote Bolshevik self-criticism. Fear of this [self-criticism] has at times led to failure to clarify important political problems (questions of the current stage of the crisis and of the so-called military-inflationary juncture, the assessment and lessons of the Austrian events, etc.).
It is impossible to change the methods of leadership and work in the Comintern without partially renewing the cadres of the Comintern workers.
It is especially essential to secure close ties between the Comintern leadership and the Politburo of the VKP(b).
 This subhead is also underlined by hand.
 In the margin, handwritten by Stalin: “As to the leadership – yes; but not ‘indiscriminate.’”
 In the margin, handwritten by Stalin: “Of course not, in Persia.”
 In the margin, handwritten by Stalin: “in the major cap[italist] countries – yes.”
 In the margin, handwritten by Stalin: “Objectively – yes; consciously – some [of them].”