Stalinist policy that conceals the defense of the capitalist order and the alliance with a part of the bourgeoisie under the supposed need to defeat “first” the counterrevolution under its fascist form.
In 1928, the Third International approved “socialism in one country” in its Fifth Congress… that is, its subordination -and therefore that of the world Revolution it represented- to Russian state capitalism. Zinoviev proclaimed the entry into a “third period” of the revolutionary wave in which the main enemy would be social democracy, which, according to him, had become an appendage of fascism. The first “anti-fascist” group will thus be the “Roter Frontkämpferbund”, the paramilitary group of the KPD, dedicated to the organization of street fights and confrontations with its Nazi counterparts and the social democratic youth groups.
The theory of “social fascism” could only further alienate the millions of workers still organized in trade unions, cultural, sports and cooperative organizations, formally social democrats. Not so much because of the influence of the SPD, but because of the experience of seeing the “Roter Frontkämpferbund” and the Nazi SA as a security problem for their own headquarters. The result is Hitler’s electoral gains and the inability to provide these workers with a class response from the KPD. Aware, the German stalinists and zinovievists proclaim “after Hitler, it’s our turn”. Obviously, once Hitler reached government, nothing came but the destruction of the class associative structure by Nazism and the disarticulation and repression of the labor movement in Germany.
When the Komintern closes its stage in 1935 in its 6th Congress, the result of its turn will be even worse: anti-fascism has become class collaboration under the slogan of the Popular Front: to form electoral alliances with the “democratic” parties to help their electoral triumph under a patriotic anti-fascist discourse.
Its congress proclaims at the same time that all countries of the world, from fascist Germany to democratic Norway, from Britain to India, from Greece to China, have the same need for a “People’s Front” and, where possible, a People’s Front government. The congress is important because it marks the definitive entry of the Komintern – after a series of hesitations and missteps – into its “fourth period”, whose motto is “all power to Daladier” [French Republican minister], whose flag is the French tricolor, and whose anthem is the Marseillaise, which drowns out the International’s sounds.
“The Stalinist turn”. Leon Trotsky, 1935
The widespread workers insurrection of 19 July 1936 responded to the military coup by arming the proletariat and dismantling the republican state in half of Spain. The PCE became then the main “party of order”, defender of the reconstitution of the state and the defense of private property. Its strategy will test the “anti-fascist” policy of the Komintern.
Stalinism tried to divert the armed proletariat, organized in a multitude of committees and local organizations with little or no coordination, into war with Franco’s army under the argument of “first victory, then revolution”, while encouraging the reconstitution of the state -and its repressive and military corps- in the rear, rebuilding the state around the Catalan government and the Popular Front. The latter was the electoral expression of the “anti-fascist” alliance formed with the Republican parties, the PSOE, the PCE itself and the POUM on a program of restoration of the democratic order, private property and the dissolution of the militias with the framing of the armed workers in a reconstituted Republican army with Russian military advisers; a program that united the internal counterrevolution with the external imperialisms in the massacre of the Spanish revolution.
Once the Spanish Revolution was defeated, anti-fascism became a slogan for imperialist recruitment in Spain first, through the International Brigades and during World War II when Hitler broke his pact with Stalin. Even the centrist sector of the Fourth International, born to proclaim revolutionary defeatism at the outbreak of hostilities, uses “anti-fascism” as a way to escape its duties and find common ground with the state.
The SWP was deliberately withholding revolutionary formulations against the imperialist war, and refusing to take up the struggle against it. It justified itself by pretending to camouflage itself to the police eye and to adapt its tones to what was then receptive to the patriotic ears of the proletariat. But the most despicable and at the same time tragic aspect of opportunism is that, by cutting off the access to education and the revolutionary mobilization of the masses, it does not elude, however, the blows of reaction unless it is completely submitted to it. Thus the leaders of the SWP were sarcastically accused by their government of internationalism and revolutionary defeatism, the very thing that they were avoiding, and went to prison for a year and a half or two for a crime they were obliged to have committed, but which they always kept from committing. […] The American leaders of the SWP had little of the spirit and mental consistency of a Liebknecht. They proclaimed before their judges, not the need to transform the imperialist war into a civil war, but into “a real war against fascism”. They clumsily accused the American government of failing to account for Berlin, and its press presented stupendous programs to defeat Hitler. The words, revolutionary defeatism, sounded gross to them and they were vetoed. All the internationalist formulations were carefully struck out of magazines and newspapers, including the simple voice of imperialism unless it referred to the national enemy. Throughout the war – an overwhelming argument in itself – they did not organize a single act against it, nor did they issue a single flyer. In short, comparing their policy with that of the centrist parties of the time, the English ILP and the Spanish POUM, the similarity between the two even reached terminological identity. In a word, the SWP substituted revolutionary politics for the bourgeois and stalinist politics of anti-fascism, a mere twin imperialist levy trick equivalent to the Hitlerite “struggle against plutocracy”.
“The Fourth International”. G. Munis. 1949
Not satisfied with that, they will support the “anti-fascist partisan guerrillas” who, organized and supported by the allied imperialisms in Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece and other countries, will suppress class movements aimed at turning the imperialist war into revolution as soon as the territory is “liberated” by the Russians, the British or the Americans. From the mass strikes in Northern Italy -which had defeated the fascist state and the German occupiers- to the Greek insurrection, which the stalinists suppressed hand in hand with the British army.
Nothing else can be expected from an ideology that calls us to “renounce everything but victory”… over fascism. That is, to renounce everything in order to maintain a form of government devoted to sustaining the existing social order.