Socialist Fight Breaks with the LCFI

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15/02/2021 by socialistfight

A highway bilboard protests former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke’s political campaign for governor. (Photo by Lee Corkran/Sygma via Getty Images)  The Anti-Defamation League has described Duke as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.” He e is not a bit like the Nazis, according the Ian Donovan.

This is the Socialist Fight’s reply to Ian Donovan’s article, Gerry Downing: Political Decline and Centrist Capitulation, of February 4. The Liaison Committee for the Fourth International has failed to repudiate this appalling document. It is redolent with blatant anti-semitism and confusion and opportunism on the question of the Popular Front vs the United Front. Ian’s defence of Gilad Atzmon puts him outside of the ranks of Trotskyism. Atzmon openly expresses his sympathy for national socialism, i.e., Nazism, for the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke and other alt-rights to the extent of writing for their online publications, all in the name of combating Zionism. Atzmon declares himself for Stalinism against Trotskyism on the basis that Stalin recognised his true enemies, the Jews! The outright lies and ad-hominem attacks on Gerry Downing and Socialist Fight obliges us formally to break with the LCFI following a unanimous vote of our members and to seek other international co-thinkers. We co-founded the organisation in 2011 and drafted many of its documents which we still defend, but we can no longer endorse its backwardness on these vital questions. However, we appear to still have close agreement on other issues like the anti imperialist united front and identifying US imperialism as the hegemonic world power which is the central enemy of the world working class and oppressed. We are prepared to form united fronts with any forces we see as moving to the left without forming any form of long term propaganda blocs with them. With others where we have a closer agreement, we will seek to unify our forces.

Lena Riefenstahl (above, Atzmon’s hero) struck an adoring note to Hitler when the Germans occupied Paris: “You exceed anything human imagination has the power to conceive, achieving deeds without parallel in the history of mankind. How can we ever thank you?”

Gilad Atzmon is a self-declared fascist

The experience of the fascist coup attempt in Capitol Hill on January 6 makes the question of the threat from fascism a matter of life and death for all sincere revolutionary socialists. As we have quoted before from page 26 of Atzmon’s book Being in Time:

 “Fascism, I believe, more than any other ideology, deserves our attention, as it was an attempt to integrate left and right: the dream and the concrete into a unified political system … And it is to our detriment that, in the post-World War II ‘liberal’ intellectual climate, it is politically impossible to examine fascism and ‘national socialism’ from an impartial theoretical or philosophical perspective … stifling honest examination of national socialism has left open the question of whether the problems of global capitalism may be alleviated by combining socialism with nationalism.”

The whole section, entitled, Bye Bye Lenin (!), from pages 23 to 33 is a vomit of fascist apologia. On page 28 he quotes Francis Fakuyama (he of The End of History), “if Hitler had emerged victorious, fascism would nonetheless lose its raison d’être in the peace of a universal empire where German nationhood would no longer be asserted through wars and conquests.” Oh, what a pity Hitler didn’t win the war!!! On pages 30, 31 and 32 he gushes his supreme admiration for filmmaker Lena Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, glorifying the Nuremberg Rally of 1934. Passing through the section on page 30 when he says, “the entire stadium erupts in excitement as the Leader (best not write Führer!) pauses before he delivers his punch-line – “be ready to die”.” to his fascist audience, we come to this on page 32:

“The massive stadium is shouting and saluting, accepting the Leader’s call for sacrifice. The Real (?) seems possible; in a collective spectacle, the young Germans (fascists!) and their spiritual guide touch the essence of Being (Oh, FFS). Did Hitler beg for legitimacy? He had no need to. Hitler doesn’t ask for approval, he attempts to touch the Real (Oh, FFS again). I am not sure whether any democratic or liberal system has ever achieved a level of support equal to the trust the Germans bestowed on Hitler (Oh, FFS again and again).”

Atzmon does not ask how he achieved this “level of support”? What level of “support” did he have in the concentration camps where the leaders of the now illegal trade unions and workers’ parties awaited their fate? Or in the workplaces where remaining trade unions leaders were summarily executed by the Gestapo for going on strike? Or later amongst the relatives of the 85 million dead of WWII? Or the relatives of the 11-13 million Jewish and other victims of the Holocaust? What role did Lena Riefenstahl play in this? She made the Nazi propaganda film of the 1933 Nuremberg Rally from August 30 – September 3, called the Rally of Victory, to celebrate the overthrow of the Weimar Republic in January of that year. On the night of June 30, 1934, Himmler, on Hitler’s orders, assassinated leaders of the Brownshirts (SA) including top man Ernst Rohm, Kurt von Schleicher; the last chancellor of the Weimar, Gregor Strasser, the ‘left Nazi’ who proposed a pact with Stalin, which Hitler enacted in August 1939.

Until 1932 Rohm was second only to Hitler in the Nazi Party. At the 6th Party Congress from September 5–10, 1934, which was attended by about 700,000 Nazi Party supporter (the ordinary “Germans” of Atzmon’s outrageous narrative), Lena Riefenstahl made her Triumph of the Will, the Nazi-glorifying propaganda documentary that impressed Atzmon so much and which was justly credited with contributing to the climate that enabled WWII and the Holocaust. Rohm starred in that 1933 film and had stood next to Hitler, but Riefenstahl claimed not to know Hitler had ordered all copies to be destroyed – the last remaining one was found in England post war. This was part of her pleas of ignorance to escape the hangman’s noose. Martin Heidegger adopted a similar stratagem; the title Being in Time is a tribute to that Nazi man’s Being and Time, the famous work on philosophy which so impressed his pre-Nazi and post war lover Hannah Arendt and the establishment loving pro-Stalinist left Jean-Paul Sartre and others post war. Heidegger remained a Nazi from 1933 until the victorious Allies dissolved the party. He never apologised for the Holocaust. Atzmon is likewise unconcerned with the relationship between Nazi ideology and the Holocaust.

But Ian will have none of it:

“We refused, and still refuse, to join in the charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ against the Israeli-Jewish renegade jazz player and confused thinker Gilad Atzmon, (Gerry’s target) was not actually Gilad Atzmon. It was SF’s positions on the Jewish Question and Zionism. We have already dealt with Dave Rich’s mangling of Atzmon’s texts, which are typical of Zionist smears against anti-Zionists of Middle Eastern origin, whether Arab or Jewish, to portray them as Nazis, etc.”

Actually Dave Rich’s CST Blog, Is Gilad Atzmon a fascist?, 8 November 2017 asks all these questions and many more. But he is a Zionist, so there is no need to answer any of his points in Ian’s book. He finishes his blog with the following, with which we must agree despite severe political differences on Zionism and anti-Semitism with him:

“The reality is that this is an antisemitic book written by a fascist sympathiser: anyone who endorses it is either a fellow traveller with antisemitism, or an antisemite themselves!” [1] Ian is the latter.

Ian goes on:

“Since Gerry endorses this, we wonder if he would endorse similar Zionist fulminations against other organic Middle Eastern figures like Nasser, the Assads, Arafat, Ahmedinejad, who also exhibit softness on fascist, as opposed to ‘democratic’ imperialism. The Western far right does get a hearing among the angriest anti-Zionists in and from the Middle East and all the Zionist-influenced fulminations in the world will not undermine that.”

Such wild, unfounded speculations pepper his entire document. His take is, “Gerry says so-and-so. This implies he means so-and-so”, the total opposite of what he wrote. Of course, we defend all third world semi-colonial governments and peoples against imperialism, despite fundamental differences with them on their reactionary positions and actions against the working class and oppressed in their own lands, as we have continually made clear. We certainly do not endorse their anti-Semitism.

Similarly, Ian uses the names of Moshe Machover and Norman Finkelstein to bolster his case for preferring the KKK to Zionism and he used the names of the Zionists Alan Dershowitz and Dave Rich to rubbish all opponents of his anti-Semitism. Dershowitz points to Atzmon’s high regard for David Duke and the KKK, but he is a Zionist so we must not listen to a word he says. In one breath-taking reactionary statement he sums it all up:

Ku Klux Klan in Georgia in the 1950s. Not a bit genocidal, according to Ian.

“Gerry pretends not to understand the basic distinction here, to smear his critics. He pretends that it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to make this point and amounts to “admiration for Ku Klux Klan man David Duke” because I said that political Zionists such as Alan Dershowitz and Dave Rich are worse than the Klan and the system of ‘Jim Crow’ segregation of black former slaves that the terrorist KKK instituted after the US Civil war.”

He them goes on to quote Machover and Finkelstein who nowhere endorse his prejudices, his “important nuance” as he terms it. The KKK differ fundamentally from the examples he gives; he cites North America and Australia as states which had a genocide orientation to their indigenous populations and Algeria and apartheid South Africa for non-genocidal exploitative regimes. “Jim Crow was a system of apartheid” he tells us and:

“the Ku Klux Klan were not and could not be a genocidal movement, not because of any moral objection, but because the wholesale slaughter or even ethnic cleansing of the black population would mean that whites would have to do their work as “hewers of wood and drawers of water” which they were simply not prepared to tolerate. So, for all the subjugation and terror, the social base of the Ku Klux Klan needed the black population and could not exterminate them.”

Ian here falsely equates the KKK, which emerged almost immediately after the end of the Civil War in 1865, with the deep South Jim Crow states. The KKK first emerged in July 1866 when a convention of white men in New Orleans sought to ensure Louisiana’s new constitution would guarantee voting rights for black residents. Black people from the area marched in support. A mob of white men and police massacred them in horrific scenes of racial terror, hundreds were butchered. This began the first KKK reign of terror. Some 2,000 racial lynchings of black men, women and children took place between 1865 and the end of reconstruction in 1877.[2] The KKK did not found and was not a direct arm of those states, despite considerable political sympathies and overlap.

They were and are an independent fascistic force which gained enormous support in their second incarnation post WWI. Wikipedia tells us “At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization claimed to include about 15% of the nation’s eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men”. Wikipedia also relates, “The Ocoee massacre was a white mob attack on African-American residents in northern Ocoee, Florida, which occurred on November 2, 1920, the day of the U.S. presidential election. Most estimates a total 30–35 black people killed. Most African American-owned buildings and residences in northern Ocoee were burned to the ground. Other African Americans living in southern Ocoee were later killed or driven out on threat of more violence. Ocoee essentially became an all-white town. The massacre has been described as the “single bloodiest day in modern American political history”.” [3]

In the third KKK incarnation Wikipedia tells us, “the Greensboro massacre took place on November 3, 1979, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Five protesters, including four members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP), were killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party (ANP) during a Death to the Klan march, organized by the CWP.” The KKK lynched and massacred regardless of the value to be extracted from their victims. It is shockingly insulting to the relatives and descendants of these victims to tell them that Zionism is far worse than these fascists. The distinction Ian offers is totally worthless and he is still trying to portray Zionism as a far worse threat to humanity’s future that the blood poisoning of the entire global capitalist/imperialist system itself; fascism. Were the KKK, as distinct from “the Jim Crow system”, to achieve state power in its fourth incarnation right now it would seek the genocide of its prime targets the black population and then the other minorities, its ‘lesser enemies’ Jews, immigrants, leftists, homosexuals, Muslims, and Catholics. And Gilad Atzmon wrote for Duke’s publications and engages with many other similar alt-rightists like Pat Buchanan.

Ian then assures us:

“But Zionism can quite conceivably exterminate the Palestinians because the Zionist colonisation is that of the exclusion type, not the exploitation type, as Machover put it. Ronnie Kasrils, of the SACP and ANC in South Africa, was making the same point when he said that Zionism is worse than South African apartheid. It is also worse than Jim Crow. It is closer to Hitlerism for the genocidal threat it poses to the Palestinian people.”

Machover and Kasrils made no such outrageous preferences for white-supremacist-fascism. What Zionism might potentially do in the future is certainly not worse than what the KKK might do if afforded the opportunity. Zionism is not fascism. There are Zionists who are fascists, and we will no-platform them like we will attempt to do to all fascists. But we will never equate racists in general with fascist racists. We distinguish between the racism of the oppressor and the racism of the oppressed, we distinguish between the fascist Zionism of the oppressor and the racist, apartheid or liberal Zionism of the oppressed, many of whom genuinely fear the return of the Holocaust and so support the state of Israel. The attempt to assert the political and moral superiority of the KKK or other fascists over Zionism is beyond belief.

The following statement from Ian on November 22, 2020 is clearly anti-Semitic:

“It was the Zionists in the US who gave this ammunition to the nationalist far right in Germany, not the SPD let alone the Spartakus League. The Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the punitive Versailles Treaty that imposed starvation reparations on Germany and thus allowed the far right to portray ‘Jews’ as in some way responsible for Germany’s defeat in the war, and the starvation sanctions. In that sense, far from being a reaction to anti-Semitism, it is arguable that the Zionist movement played a major role in creating the conditions in Germany whereby large scale anti-Semitism could take root. Without Zionism there would likely have been no Hitler and no Shoah. Absolving the Zionist movement of being an independent reactionary subject is guilty liberalism, not socialism.” (our emphasis) [4]

Dov Winter, himself Jewish, replied for Socialist Fight on Nov 26, 2020:

“I hoped that Ian would move away from Anti-Semitism, but I guess it was delusionary. To claim that without Zionism, the Nazis and Hitler would never have existed, is pure nonsense and reactionary garbage. Ian is de facto saying that Zionism is responsible for all “evils”, and that the Jews were behind the rise of Nazism. This is antisemitism in broad daylight. It contradicts Trotsky analysis of the rise of fascism in Germany, in which the Nazis had to destroy the workers’ parties and the unions as organs independent of the state, before proceeding to conquer Europe. As Trotsky wrote, the fascists must do a thorough job in this regard. The anti-Semitic poison was an addition to this. It was used by the Nazis to wipe up nationalist hysteria at the eve of Second World-War that was used to restore Germany as a first class imperialist power.

“Ian comes closer to the typical anti-Semitic conclusion that any major problem in the world can be traced to the Jews. He is right that during the 1956 war Israel was not depended as much as today on US imperialism. But the dependency on the US did start around 1948. Israel has had some independence from the US that varied in different years. But in the last analysis Israel was always dependent on the US. Ian’s claim that Israel is a mighty imperialist power independent of the US is a twisting of history. It goes perfectly well with his wrong conclusion that only the US is a mightier imperialist power than Israel. But Israel still depends on the US. If the US stops sending Israel billions of dollars and the best world-class weapons every year, Israel’s influence in the world will be seriously curtailed.”

Ian objects:

“And to do so, he again had to tell lies. There is no instance in which Socialist Fight, or our Faction ever used the term “the world Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie” in any of its documents. Its inclusion in double quotes, which indicates a literal quote, is a literal lie. It is a crude piece of innuendo implying that we are sympathetic to Nazism, and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

But Ian does use the term overseas Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie internationally and Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie caste, etc. Here again is Dov Winter’s repudiation of this nonsense:

“Insofar as fascism is growing, it is usually being funded by the Jewish-Zionist bourgeois caste” (quoting Ian). Here your obsession with Zionism as the greatest force on Earth is reaching a new height. So, according to you, fascism is growing today because it is being funded by the “the Jewish-Zionist bourgeois caste.”. You write that Zionism is the reason fascism is growing throughout the world.

“What happened to the Marxist analysis of Fascism? You know, the stuff that Trotsky wrote, such as: the severe economic crisis, the need of the capitalist state to smash the workers’ unions and parties, the mobilisation of the frenzied petty bourgeoisie by the fascists to kill the workers militants and their leaders– all to restore profitability and the “stability” of the capitalist state with the fist of the fascists. Well, I almost forgot: It is all “being funded by the Jewish-Zionist bourgeois caste.”!! And again, I need to apologize, I almost forgot again, according to you, all Zionists are fascists. I am not going to waste my time arguing with you that the term “Jewish-Zionist bourgeois caste” which is anti-Semitic term used by you and the fascists. But your idea that Zionism is behind the fascist growth these days, is a total rejection of the Marxist understanding of the fascist phenomenon.”

Ian repeats more of this reactionary nonsense here, quoting from Abraham Leon: “… The example of the USSR shows that even after the proletarian revolution, the special structure of Judaism—a heritage of history—will give rise to a number of difficulties, particularly during the transition periods. During the time of the NEP, for instance, the Jews of Russia, utilising their traditional business experience, furnished numerous cadres for the new bourgeois class.” [5]

Ian then goes on to draw his anti-Semitic conclusions from this:

“Numerous cadres” says Leon. Obviously, the reason these cadres were seen as ‘numerous’ is that they were out of proportion to the numbers of Jews in the general population … This phenomenon produced ‘difficulties’ – arguably it produced in embryo a ‘Jewish’ social base for a potential threat of capitalist restoration in Russia (which may go some way to explaining the elements of anti-Semitism that surfaced when after 1928 the Stalinists bureaucratically abolished NEP in a blind panic). But it would be absurd to accuse those who report the facts about this phenomenon, of ‘anti-Semitism’. The overrepresentation of Jewish bourgeois, who are mainly Zionists, among the imperialist bourgeoisie likewise provides the social base for the strength of the Zionist faction/lobby in the imperialist countries. According to Downing, reporting the truth of this is an ‘anti-Semitic trope’ and a conspiracy theory. Reporting the facts is ‘anti-Semitic’. Nonsense! This is an attack on Marxism, not anti-Semitism, an attack on historical materialism itself driven by capitulation to Zionism. (our emphasis)” [6]

The apology for the “anti-Semitism that surfaced (in the USSR) when after 1928 the Stalinists bureaucratically abolished NEP in a blind panic” gells with Atzmon who also defended Stalin against Trotsky and socialist revolution and gloried in his anti-Semitism by recognising that “Stalin insisted eventually to give Russia back to the Russians and this clearly made some people upset … Stalin’s paranoia – he knew what he was up against.” He was up against “the Jews” of course. These pre-WWII Jews in the USSR certainly were not Zionists, but overwhelmingly left wing supporters of the Bund. Stalin’s anti-Semitism was wielded against Trotsky and the other Jewish Bolshevik leaders in the first place, then against the German Jews, whose plight went totally unrecorded in and undefended by Moscow during the Stalin-Hitler Pact of 23 August 1939 to 22 July 1941, when that bad old Adolf betrayed his ally Joe Stalin in Operation Barbarossa. His war materials intended to assist Hitler to attack France and Britain were still rolling west to Germany in trains and trucks whilst Hitler’s Nazi divisions swept eastward into the USSR. Of course, he could not have invaded the USSR, or western Europe and France at all with these materials, oil and rubber to mention a few, so kindly supplied by his ally Joe Stalin. So much for Ian’s anti-Semitic justification for Stalin’s anti-Semitism. And the post war trials and executions of the “Jewish Cosmopolitans” (Atzmon dubs me a “cosmopolitan” too, I am proud to say) culminated in the Slansky trials and summary execution of these “Jewish cosmopolitans” in Czechoslovakia in November 1952 and the Jewish Doctors plot, whose lives were only saved by Stalin’s timely death on March 5, 1953.

Abraham Leon drew the opposite conclusions:

“Thus, life itself demonstrates that the problem which so bitterly divides Judaism – assimilation or territorial concentration – is a fundamental problem only to petty-bourgeois dreamers. The Jewish masses want simply an end to their martyrdom. That, socialism alone can give them. But socialism must give the Jews, as it will to all peoples, the possibility of assimilation as well as the possibility of having a special national life.” [7]

From anti-Semitism to a total failure to fight Fascism with the United Front

Our last post on this observed than in the approximately 10,000 word exchanges between the TF-SF and the LCFI the popular front was mentioned and endorsed 15 times and the united front was mentioned just once and that was to endorse the call of small left forces in the US had made for a “united front against fascism”. All reference to the Spanish Civil War were totally unaware of the very sharp distinction Trotsky drew between the United Front and the Popular Front. Trotsky correctly identifies the adoption of the theory of the popular front by the Seventh, and last, Congress of the Comintern in 1935 by Grigori Dimitrov as the point when Stalinism definitively passed over to the camp of the counterrevolution. That is what the failure to distinguish between the two mean, an inability to distinguish the politics of revolution and the politics of counter-revolution.

Equally there is no understanding on Ian’s part of what imperialism is and the differentiation we must make between the bourgeoisie and/or petty bourgeoisie in semi-colonial countries. This is in line with the weakness of the whole Spart tradition on imperialism, reflecting Jim Robertson’s origins in Shachtman’s group. In a bizarre section he asserts that the US Democrats are a popular front, comparable to the Indian and South African Congress parties. The US Democrats are a party of US imperialism full stop, a popular front is an unprincipled alliance between a party of the working class and a capitalist party in an imperialist country. The Congress initiatives were unprincipled alliances on Stalin’s initiative to thwart revolutions in India and South Africa and were denounced by Trotsky as such. But as we have explained endlessly since 2011 the anti imperialist united front means we do not equate the bourgeoisie of the semicolonial world with that of the imperialists. This involves supporting them when in conflict with imperialism. On the vital precondition that we do not liquidate our forces into the bourgeois forces of the anti-imperialist bourgeoisie as the Stalinist do. Trotsky made this vital distinction before the debacle of the massacre of the communists in the Shanghai Soviet in April 1927 and the repeat in Wuhan by the ‘left Kuomintang in July of the same year.

Ian sought a block with “outright” imperialist forces, the US Democrats and was correctly castigated by the LCFI for so doing. Ian says: “The logic of calling for a vote for the ANC, or Sinn Féin, is for would-be communists to enter the ANC or Sinn Féin … or the Kuomintang, as the misleadership of the Comintern under Stalin and Bukharin instructed the Chinese Communists to do in the late 1920s.” Leaving aside the question of voting for Sinn Féin or the ANC in 1994 Trotsky was not against entering the Kuomintang, he was against entering and conceding the political identity of the revolutionary communists in order to do so. This is clear from anyone who has studied this period in history. The communists did enter the bourgeois nationalist party in the Philippines in the same period and was successful in winning a mass base before Stalin, and later Mao instructed them in the fatal bloc of four classes tactic which had fatal consequences for them.

The following extracts from Trotsky’s writings explain the differences:

General Kornilov’s army soldiers surrendering their weapons. (30 August 1917, old style)

The Strategy of Lenin and the Strategy of Stalin

“What tasks did Lenin set before the Comintern with regard to the backward countries? “It is necessary to carry on a determined struggle against the attempt to surround the bourgeois democratic liberation movements in the backward countries with a Communist cloak.” In carrying this out, the Guomindang, which had promised to establish in China “not a bourgeois régime”, was admitted into the Comintern.

“Lenin, it is understood, recognized the necessity of a temporary alliance with the bourgeois-democratic movement, but he understood by this, of course, not an alliance with the bourgeois parties, duping and betraying the petty-bourgeois revolutionary democracy (the peasants and the small city folk), but an alliance with the organizations and groupings of the masses themselves – against the national bourgeoisie. In what form, then, did Lenin visualize the alliance with the bourgeois democracy of the colonies? To these, too, he gives an answer in his thesis written for the Second Congress:

“The Communist International should enter into a temporary alliance with the democratic bourgeoisie of the colonies and backward countries but should not fuse with it and must unconditionally maintain the independent character of the proletarian movement – even in its embryonic form.” It seems that in executing the decisions of the Second Congress, the Communist Party was made to join the Guomindang and the Guomindang was admitted into the Comintern. All this summed up is called Leninism.

We Must Force the Social Democracy into a Bloc Against the Fascists

“The trouble is that in the Central Committee of the Communist Party there are many frightened opportunists. They have heard that opportunism consists of a love for blocs, and that is why they are against blocs. They do not understand the difference between, let us say, a parliamentary agreement and an ever-so-modest agreement for struggle in a strike or in defense of workers’ printshops against fascist bands.

“Election agreements, parliamentary compromises concluded between the revolutionary party and the Social Democracy serve, as a rule, to the advantage of the Social Democracy. Practical agreements for mass action, for purposes of struggle, are always useful to the revolutionary party. The Anglo-Russian Committee was an impermissible type of bloc of two leaderships on one common political platform, vague, deceptive, binding no one to any action at all. The maintenance of this bloc at the time of the British General Strike, when the General Council assumed the role of strikebreaker, signified, on the part of the Stalinists, a policy of betrayal.

“No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.”

Lenin on the united front against Kornilov, which Ian calls a popular front:

“Even at the present time, we are not duty-bound to support the Kerensky government That would be unprincipled. It is asked: then we are not to fight against Kornilov? Of course, we are. But that is not one and the same thing. There is a limit to this; it is being transgressed by many Bolsheviks who fail into ‘conciliationism’ and allow themselves to be driven by the current of events.

“We shall fight, we are fighting against Kornilov, but we do not support Kerensky; we are uncovering his weaknesses. The distinction is rather delicate, but highly important and must not be forgotten. What does the change of our tactics consist of after the Kornilov insurrection? “In this, that we are varying the forms of struggle against Kerensky. Without diminishing our hostility to him even by one single note, without taking back one word from what we have said against him, without giving up the task of overthrowing Kerensky, we say: we must calculate the moment. We will not overthrow Kerensky at present. We approach the question of the struggle against him differently: by explaining the weaknesses and vacillations of Kerensky to the people (who are fighting against Kornilov).” We are proposing nothing different. Complete independence of the Communist organization and press, complete freedom of Communist criticism, the same for the Social Democracy and the trade unions. Only contemptible opportunists can allow the freedom of the Communist Party to be limited (for example, as in the entrance into the Kuomintang). We are not of their number.

No retraction of our criticism of the Social Democracy. No forgetting of all that has been. The whole historical reckoning, including the reckoning for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, will be presented at the proper time, just as the Russian Bolsheviks finally presented a general reckoning to the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries for the baiting, calumny, imprisonment and murder of workers, soldiers, and peasants. But we presented our general reckoning to them two months after we had utilized the partial reckoning between Kerensky and Kornilov, between the “democrats” and the fascists – in order to drive back the fascists all the more certainly. Only thanks to this circumstance were we victorious.” [8]

End extracts

This surely is education enough on what a United Front is and what it is not.

Conclusion

Take the following passage from Ian:

“And then he goes over to a monologue rubbishing our quoting of Trotsky’s An Aesop’s Fable when he ridicules the Stalinists refusal to call for a united front with the SPD to defeat Hitler’s Nazis:

“A cattle dealer once drove some bulls to the slaughterhouse. …Gerry rubbishes the comparison, with the absurd point that:

 “Trotsky did not propose a popular front with the Weimar Republic, still less the Centre Party, the German National People’s Party (DNVP) or the Bavarian People’s Party but with the ‘social-imperialist German Social Democracy’ as Ian terms them, hoping we will miss the fact that this was the major party of the German working class for 70 years (founded in May 1863 in Leipzig) and contained the older, skilled but cautious and demoralized industrial workers.”

“Gerry Downing says that Trotsky advocated a ‘popular front’ with the SPD, during fierce polemic accusing us of advocating ‘popular fronts’ against fascism. Confusion much?”

So, Gerry Downing “ridicules the Stalinists refusal to call for a united front with the SPD to defeat Hitler’s Nazis”, points out that the front with the SPD was with a working class party, which Ian called the “social-imperialist German Social Democracy” to avoid acknowledging it was a working class party and so I was calling it a united front and then ridiculously he alleges the piece he quotes from me says the exact opposite to what it says! Where can you conjure up that I am saying Trotsky called for a popular front? It is simply demented gibberish.

We will not repeat here our previous document exposing the shocking confusion on the vital difference between the popular front and the united front [9] not will we go to the trouble of answering all the ridiculous charges Ian levies against us. We are disappointed after almost a decade of collaboration with the LCFI comrades in the Americas relations have broken down over this fundamental question. We hope they will reconsider but we can no longer be associated in any way with Ian Donovan and his followers and those who defend him and Gilad Atzmon.

Notes


[1] Dave Rich, CST Blog, Is Gilad Atzmon a fascist?, 8 November 2017, ttps://cst.org.uk/news/blog/2017/11/08/is-gilad-atzmon-a-fascist

[2] Smithsonian magazine, SMARTNEWS, Nearly 2,000 Black Americans Were Lynched During Reconstruction, A new report brings the number of victims of racial terror killings between 1865 and 1950 to almost 6,500, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/nearly-2000-black-americans-were-lynched-during-reconstruction-180975120/

[3] Wikipedia, Ocoee massacre, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocoee_massacre

[4]  Ian Donovan, Left Discussion – Trotskyist Faction, 22 November 2020, https://www.facebook.com/groups/648277035947497/permalink/869862160455649/

[5] Abram Leon (1918–1944), The Jewish Question, A Marxist Interpretation, Written: Approx. 1942 prior to Leon’s murder by the Nazis, https://www.marxists.org/subject/jewish/leon/

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Leon Trotsky For a Workers’ United Front Against Fascism (December 1931) https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/1931/311208.htm

[9] Socialist Fight, Popular Front vs United Front; the errors of the LCFI and the grosser errors of Ian Donovan, 21/01/2021, https://socialistfight.com/2021/01/21/popular-front-vs-united-front-the-errors-of-the-lcfi-and-the-grosser-errors-of-ian-donovan/

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