COMPASS; Journal of Communist League; April 1994; N.112

    We have seen that after the coming to power of the Nazis in Germany, the basic strategy of the West European imperialists became one of appeasement of German imperialism.

    Accordingly, the policy of the revisionist leaders of the Communist International -- who were objectively the servants of imperialism -- changed to one of resisting Nazism in words, while supporting appeasement in deeds.


    Great alarm was caused in France in early 1934 by manifestations of militant fascism. There took place in Paris:     In this atmosphere spontaneous united resistance to fascism developed:     It was in these circumstances that the Comintern chose to inaugurate the united front against fascism' policy through the French Communist Party, among whose leaders was Maurice Thorez*.

    Albert Vassart*, who represented the French Communist Party at the Comintern in 1933-34, has recounted how the instructions to abandon the pseudo-left policy of 1930-34 were conveyed to the FCP:

    Now, however,     After the Nazi seizure of power, Ernst Thaelmann*, the leader of the German Communist Party, had been arrested by the Nazis, and in May 1934:     The revisionist leaders of the Comintern, however, Socialists' 'essential condition' should be met:     Accordingly, Vassart drafted a letter to be sent by the French Communist Party to the French Socialist Party. The main point of the draft was that the Communist and Socialist Parties would organise:     but it included the pledge of mutual abstention from criticism:     In his closing speech to the Conference of the French Communist Party on 26 June 1934, Thorez assured the Socialists that his party stood for united action against fascism 'at all costs' and, in the event of agreement being reached on such united action, would refrain from all criticism of the Socialist Party:     In July 1934:     between the Communist and Socialist Parties.     In the autumn of 1934, the French 'united front against fascism' was broadened to include openly bourgeois parties like the Radical Party (officially, the 'Radical-Socialist Party'):     The Communist Party:     (It should be noted that a more correct translation of the French term 'Front Populaire' is 'People's Front', but the English term 'Popular Front' has become so widely used that it will be retained here).     During its pseudo-left period, the revisionist leadership of the Communist International defined fascism as 'the open dictato ship of 'certain elements' of finance capital, namely 'the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements':     During its later rightist period, under Dimitrov, the Communist International retained this definition:     This definition implies that fascism in power does not serve the interests of the capitalist class as a whole, not even the interests of finance capital as a whole, but only the interests of certain elements of finance capital. It follows from this definition that there are elements within finance capital -namely the less reactionary, less chauvinistic and less imperialist elements -- whose interests are not served by fascism, and which, therefore, may be won over to active participation in a 'Popular Front'.

    It is, of course, true that there may be sections of the capitalist class -- such as those of ethnic minorities -- who may be won to support a 'Popular Front against Fascism', which threatens their existence not only as capitalists but as human beings.

    But, according to Dimitrov's theses, the 'anti-fascist Popular Front must be formed on the basis of a united front of the workers. He demands:

    and he demands that such a government should carry out revolutionary, anti-capitalist measures:     But a government which serves the interests of the working class by fulfilling 'revolutionary anti-capitalist demands' and at the same time serves the interests of (non-finance) capital and even elements of finance capital is an impossibility:     It follows that a Popular Front government can exist in a country where the capitalist class holds political power only if the participating Communist Party serves the interests, not of the working class, but of the capitalist class, that is, if it has surrendered to opportunism, defined as:     If the leaders of a bourgeois political party are satisfied that a Communist Party has surrendered to opportunism, they may adhere to a Popular Front which includes such a party in order to gain some electoral advantage. Thus, in July 1935 the Radical-Socialist Party joined the Popular Front; they:     since     In November 1934, a 'National Committee of People's Anti-Fascist Unity' was formed to lay     The 'National Committee of People's Anti-Fascist Unity was now:     By January 1935, the Popular Front included ten organisations: THE 7th WORLD CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL (1935)

    The 7th (and last) World Congress of the Communist International took place in Moscow in August 1935, having been postponed from September 1934.

    The keynote of the conference was the formal approval and international application of the united front and Popular Front tactics applied in the last year by the French Communist Party on the instructions of the Comintern leadership:     The main report, on 'The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International', was given by Dimitrov.

    He presented a criticism of the previous left-sectarian policy, but as 'mistakes' committed by the Communist Parties rather than as mistakes on the part of the leadership of the Communist International:

    He repudiated the former pseudo-left line of the Communist International that the working class had no interest in defending bourgeois democracy against fascism:     He also repudiated the former pseudo-left line of the Communist International that Social-Democracy remained everywhere the bulwark of the bourgeoisie, saying that it was     Therefore, emphasised Dimitrov, it is necessary to distinguish between Right and Left Social-Democrats on the basis of whether they oppose or support, respectively, the building of a united front against fascism:     In contrast to the former pseudo-left line of the Communist International, Dimitrov put forward the correct Marxist-Leninist line of building a united front against fascism embracing all workers who were prepared to resist fascism, irrespective of their views on other questions:     However, as has been said, he introduced the new, opportunist concept of the desirablility of extending such a workers' united front into:     although this did not mean that the formation of a united front must necessarily precede the formation of a Popular Front:     Such a Popular Front against fascism could embrace, according to Dimitrov, parties and organisations which - objectively are led by representatives of the capitalist class, mentioning specifically the French Radical-Socialist Party:     Naturally, Dimitrov singled out the united front and Popular Front policies of the French Communist Party for special praise:     The formation of a united front or Popular Front could lead in any capitalist country, declared Dimitrov, under conditions of political crisis, to the election of a united front or Popular Front government:     The new line put forward by Dimitrov at the 7th World Congress of the Comintern was accepted without opposition:     At the conclusion of the congress, a new Political Secretariat was elected, consisting of     that is, of 6 concealed revisionists (Dimitrov, Kuusinen, Manuilsky, Marty, Pieck and Togliatti), and 1 more or less solid Marxist-Leninist (Gottwald).     Work on an agreed joint programme for the Popular Front continued until January 1936, when     The programme was divided into two parts -- political and economic. The main points of the political programme were:     The general election which took place in April/May 1936 resulted in a victory for the Popular Front.     The first Popular Front government came to office in June 1936, headed by the leader of the Socialist Party, Leon Blum, as Prime Minister.

    As we have seen, the 7th World Congress of the CI:

    Consequently, since:     In May 1936:     and:     In this situation, a few days after after taking office, Prime Minister Leon Blum invited representatives of the employers to a conference at the Hotel Matignon (the Premier's official residence) in Paris. Here,     On 9 June 1936,     In the situation which accompanied Matignon:     In June/July 1936, legislation was passed by the Popular Front government:     Despite the Matignon settlement, most workers     This situation, within days of the formation of the Popular Front government, brought out the contradictions in the Front as it had been constituted -- the contradictions between the parties ostensibly representing the interests of the working people and those objectively representing the interests of the capitalist class. The latter demanded that the sit-in-strikes be called off, and the Communist Party was, therefore, compelled to choose between, on the one hand, remaining loyal to the interests of the workers and the programme of the Popular Front on the one hand, and, on the other hand, maintaining the unity of the Popular Front.

    Thorez's slogan of 'unity of action at all costs' made the choice a foregone conclusion in a party the leadership of which had long covertly deserted Marxism-Leninism and embraced opportunism. Even Dimitrov himself had felt compelled to warn the 7th Congress of the CI of the danger of opportunism in united front and Popular Front tactics:

    and had cited Stalin on the danger of sacrificing principle to expediency:     But, as we have seen, Dimitrov had insisted that the basic content of united front tactics was the defence of the immediate interests of the working class -- including its defence against fascism:     In giving priority to the organisational maintenance of the Popular Front over the principles on which the Front had been created, the French Communist Party had clearly sunk into opportunism. But this opportunism was, in fact, tacitly sanctioned by the Comintern, for the resolution of the 7th World Congress had instructed Communist Parties that if the principles on which the united front or Popular Front had been formed were broken, they should not declare the front at an end, but should:     Following these instructions, the revisionist-led French Communust Party continued loyally to support the Popular Front long after it had ceased to resist fascism or defend the interests of working class.

    Indeed, the more openly reactionary partners in the Popular Front did not hesitate to make use of the Party's fidelity to the maintenance of the unity of the Popular Front slogan, and of the prestige of the Communist Party among the working class, to serve their interests.

    So, the Communist Party was called in to use its influence, in the interests of 'the unity of the Popular Front', to put an end to the strike movement. On 11 June, Maurice Thorez declared that the time had come to end the strikes even when their aims had not been achieved:

    In July 1936 Spanish fascist generals, headed by Francisco Franco*, launched an armed rebellion against the Popular Front government which had been elected in Spain in February. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War proved a critical test for the French Popular Front:     The Spanish Popular Front government, which regarded the Popular Front government in France as its 'sister', immediately applied to the French government for the sale of arms for its defence:     However, the Blum government refused:     This was not because the mass of the French working people were reluctant to assist the Spanish government:     The refusal of the French government to sell arms to Spain was all the more unprincipled because treaty obligations prohibited the Spanish government from buying arms from any other country but France:     In fact, Blum's decision was dictated by the threats of the British government that if France became involved in war as a result of supplying arms to Spain, Britain would regard her obligations to give military assistance to France under the Locarno Treaty of 1925 as no longer valid:     In short, the Popular Front government betrayed the anti-fascist basis on which it was elected, to become an appendage of the pro-fascist British Conservative government:     In this capacity, the Popular Front government was permitted to be the official sponsor of the so-called 'Non-Intervention, agreement which originated in fact in London:     Even without the associated betrayal of the interests of the French working class, the betrayal of the Spanish working people's struggle against fascism began to drain the Popular Front of the working class support on which its existence depended:     In these circumstances, right-wing politicians achieved considerable success in building up the false notion those who supported the sale of arms to Spain were 'risking world war'. In a speech in September 1936, Blum himself gave as the reason for the government's refusal to sell arms to Spain that:     As a result of this demagogic campaign,     In the foreign policy debate in the Chamber of Deputies in December 1936,     The Communist deputies, therefore, abstained, since:     Furthermore, they went on and:     and the Party's expressions of continued fidelity to the Popular Front were accepted:     The parliamentary debate on the government's foreign policy:         In August 1936:     Even if it had been observed by all parties, acceptance of the principle of 'non-intervention' was in itself a victory for the fascist powers, since:     The 'Non-Intervention Committee' -- officially the 'International Committee for the Application of Non-Intervention in Spain' -- eventually embraced representatives of 25 states. It held its first meeting on September 1936 in London. Although the fascist powers (excluding Portugal) were members of the committee, far from observing non-intervention, they used it as a cover for extensive military intervention in Spain on the side of the fascists.

    In January 1937 the Communist Party:

    Despite this gross and flagrant violation of the anti-fascist principles on which the Popular Front had been formed, the French Communist Party remained within the Popular Front. Its policy was:     even after 'non-intervention' had:     The French capitalist class had been:     Almost as soon as the Blum government had been formed,     Although, as we have seen, the programme of the Popular Front had included     the Blum government:     By September 1936:     and:     On 25 September the franc was devalued, and the Communist Party deputies:     in spite of the fact that the act of devaluation:     so that:     In December 1936 the Popular Front government introduced legislation to impose compulsory conciliation and arbitration on workers. The Communist deputies supported the Bill.
    ('Keesings's Contemporary Archives', Volume 2; p. 2,356).     Militant workers correctly saw the institution of compulsory conciliation and arbitration, which in fact put an end to free collective bargaining, as a further betrayal of programme of the Popular Front and the interests of the working class:     In February 1937 Blum officially declared a 'pause' in the implementation of the government's programme of social reform. This was     It:     and:     However, the Communist Party:     In March 1937, an anti-fascist demonstration in the Clichy district of Paris was attacked by police:     In addition, the atrocity resulted in:     Far from condemning the police behaviour, however, the Communist Party supported it:     In June 1937, Blum:     The essence of the measure, as Blum told the Chamber of Deputies, was to adopt 'orthodox' financial measures which would entice:     The Communist Party at first refused:     but when Blum:     Accordingly:     When the bill came before the Senate, however, this upper house:     But:     The Blum government was replaced by a new Popular Front government headed by the Radical Camille Chautemps* as Prime Minister. This was     Indeed, when Chautemps:      The offer was rejected, and from this time:     As a result:     and accordingly:     and proceeded to adopt an 'orthodox' financial programme.

    The rank-and-file of the Socialist Party were so outraged at the unprincipled betrayal of the interests of the working people by the Chautemps, that they forced their party to withdraw its support from the Chautemps government:

    Thus, in January 1938 the first Popular Front government headed by Chautemps resigned, to be replaced a few days later by a second:     This government received the parliamentary support of the Communist Party:     But in the circumstances outlined above, the second Chautemps government deemed it tactically desirable to pose at first as a loyal executor of the Popular Front's programme:     So, in March 1938,     The move to the right:     and:     In March 1938 a second Blum government came to office,     It was announced that:     Once again:     The last of the French Popular Front governments, which came to office in April 1938, was headed by Edouard Daladier*, as Prime Minister. It was a government     Nevertheless:      Daladier:     The Chamber of Deputies:     so that he:     These measures were not opposed by the Communist Party:     Thus, by this time     By May 1938 this continuing betrayal of the interests of the working people had, by May 1938, greatly weakened Communist support among working people:     The Daladier government now undertook an offensive against the working class, abolishing in November 1938 the 5-day working week ('Keesing's Contemporary Archives', Volume 3; p. 3,222). THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE THE POPULAR FRONT AGAINST FASCISM CAME WHEN DALADIER, REPRESENTING THE FRENCH POPULAR FRONT GOVERNMENT, JOINED WITH NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN*, ADOLF HITLER* AND BENITO MUSSOLINI* IN SIGNING THE MUNICH AGREEMENT WHICH EFFECTIVELY HANDED OVER CZECHOSLOVAKIA TO THE NAZIS.

    When the Munich sell-out was debated in the Chamber of Deputies in October, the Communist Party, for the first time since the formation of the Popular Front government, voted against. But so discredited had the Party become by this time, that ONLY TWO OTHER DEPUTIES JOINED THOSE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY IN OPPOSING IT:


BLUM. Leon, French lawyer and social-democratic politician (1872-1950); leader, French Socialist Party (1914-1950); Premier (1936-37, 1938); imprisoned by Vichy government (1940-45); Premier (1946);
BRUENING, Heinrich, German lawyer and politician; director, Federation of Christian Trade Unions (1921-30); Chairman, Catholic Centre Party (192933); Chancellor (1930-32); to USA (1934); Professor of Government, Harvard (1939-452); to Germany (1952); Professor of Political Science, Cologne (1951-55).
CACHIN, Marcel, French revisionist politician (1869-1958); member, ECCI Presidium (1928-43); Senator (1935-58).
CHAMBERLAIN, A. Neville, British Conservative politician (1869-1940); Chancellor of the Exchequer (1923-24, 1931-37); Minister of Health (1924-29, 1931); Premier (1937-40).
CHAUTEMPS, Camille, French Radical-Socialist politician (1888-1963); Premier (1930); Minister of Education (1931); Minister of Interior (1932-33); Premier (1933-34); Minister of Public Works (1936); Minister of State (1936-37); Premier (1936-37); Premier (1937-38); Minister of Coordination (1938-39); Minister of State (1939); to USA (1940).
CLERK, George, British diplomat (1874-1951); Minister to Czechoslovakia (1919-26); Ambassador to Turkey (1926-33); Ambassador to Belgium (1933-34); Ambassador to France (1934-37).
DALADIER, Edouard, French Radical-Socialist politician (1884-1970); Premier (1934); Minister of Defence (1936-38); Premier (1938-40); imprisoned by Vichy authorities (1940-345).
DELBOS, Yvon, French politician (1885-1956); Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs (1936-38); Minister of Education (1939-40).
DIMITROV, Georgi M., Bulgarian revisionist politician (1882-1949); director, West European Bureau, CI (1929-33); arrested in connection with Reichstag Fire (1933); to Moscow (1934); secretary-general, CI (1935-43); to Bulgaria (1945); secretary-general, BCP (1945-49); Premier (1946-49).
DUCLOS, Jacques, French revisionist politician (1896-1975); worked for West European Bureau, CI (1929-32); secretary-general, FCP (1950-64).
FAURE, Paul, French social-democratic politician (1920-44); expelled from Socialist Party (1944).
FRANCO, Francisco, Spanish military officer and fascist politician (1892-1975); Chief-of-Staff (1935-36); Governor, Canary Islands (1936); leader of fascist revolt (1936-39); established fascist dictatorship with himself as 'Caudillo'.
GOTTWALD, Klement, Czechoslovak Marxist-Leninist politician (1896-1953); secretary-general, CzCP (1929-53); member, ECCI secretariat (1935-43); Deputy Premier (1945-46); Premier (1946-48); President (1948-53).
HITLER, Adolf, German fascist politician (1889-1945); Chancellor (1933-34); Fuehrer (Chancellor/President) (1934-45); committed suicide (1945).
KUUSINEN. Otto W., Finnish revisionist politician (1881-1964); secretarygeneral, CI (1921); member, political secretariat, ECCI (1928-43); President, Karelo-Finnish Republic (1940-56); member, political bureau, CPSU (1952-53, 1957-64).
MANUILSKY, Dmitry Z., Soviet revisionist politician (1883-1959); member, ECCI political secretariat (1926-43); Ukrainian Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister (1944-50).
MARTY, Andre, French revisionist politician (1886-1956); member, political secretariat, ECCI (1935-43); Commander-in-Chief, International Brigades (1936-39); expelled from CPF (1953).
MUSSOLINI, Benito A. A., Italian fascist politician (1883-1945); Premier (1922-45); captured and executed by partisans (1945).
PIECK, Wilhelm, German revisionist politician (1876-1960); member, political secretariat, ECCI (1931-43); to Germany (1946); president, Socialist Unity Party (1946-80); President, German Democratic Republic (1949-80).
THAELMANN, Ernst, German Marxist-Leninist politician (1886-1944); chairman, CPG (1925-33); member, political secretariat, ECCI (1931-33); arrested by Nazis (1933); executed by Nazis (1944).
THOREZ, Maurice, French revisionist politician (1900-64); secretary-general, FCP (1930-64); member, ECCI Presidium (1931-43); Vice-President (194647,; chairman, FCP (1964).
TOGLIATTI, Palmiro, Italian revisionist politician (1893-1964); menber, ECCI secretariat (1926-43); secretary-general, ICP (027-64).
VASSART, Albert, French revisionist politician (1898-1958); secretary, CC, FCP (1932-39); expelled from FCP (1939); became active anti-communist.

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 Also See: Index below for other articles on Dimitrov (see alphabetical links);


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