Trump, Clinton, Brexit and ‘Social Fascism’: a Historical Note.
“Fire on the trained bears of social democracy! (Louis Aragon. 1931)
The comrades at Shiraz are extremely critical of the position taken by the Communist Party of Britain, and its organ, the Morning Star on Brexit, and, now, the American Election result. Jim writes,
In 1928 the Stalinised Communist International (Comintern) adopted the “Third Period” line which led the German Communist Party to denounce the Social Democrats as “social fascists” and dismiss the threat of Hitler taking power: it said “fascism” was already in power, and another form of “fascism” could thus be no new threat; and anyway, “after Hitler, our turn next!”.
The similarities with the Third Period were apparent as the Communist Party of Britain and their follow ‘Left Exit’ fantasists tried to give the Tory/UKIP dominated Leave cause a left-wing figleaf during the referendum campaign. This has led to some extraordinaryDaily Mail-style editorials in the Morning Star(the CPB’s de facto mouthpiece) culminating in a shameful attack on parliamentary democracy and the campaigners who brought the High Court case forcing the Tories to acknowledge parliamentary control over Brexit.
The mouthpiece of the CPB is only following a number of ‘leftists’ who imagined that Brexit would be both progressive in itself, a kick in the arse for the EU ‘neoliberals’, and a step towards post-Brexit unrest which they could take advantage of to push for the ‘People’s Brexit’.
Trump’s victory has thrown a spanner in the works for that particular project: it now seems that Brexit will be bolted to US trade negotiations for some kind of free-market between the UK and Washington and a deepening of …neoliberalism.
Popular fury on the left, impotent for the moment, is naturally fertile territory for new line which much of that left will be swept up in. Some are desperately seeking a form of ‘left-wing’ populism, ignoring that Trump and Brexit herald a swing towards national populism centred on the Nation. The left cannot outbid the right in defending its own version of a fusion between the ‘People’ and the Sovereignty of the Nation.
But Jim underlines the Morning Star’s latest attempt to see pearls amongst swine.
The Morning Star has published this extraordinary text on the US election result:
Some commentators highlight Trump’s different tone taken in his acceptance speech, with platitudes about being president for all Americans, as though willing Trump to come into line.
This desire regards political normalcy as the target for all politicians, although it lies in tatters today.
Trump’s election isn’t alone in pulverising this discredited thesis. Britain’s referendum decision to leave the EU has similar aspects.
Both campaigns were derided by Establishment politicians and liberal media outlets from the outset.
Those whose votes secured the election of a self-styled outsider as US president and said No to membership of an unaccountable, institutionally neoliberal, bureaucratic EU superstate were demeaned as racists, xenophobes and idiots by liberal elites unable to believe that their conventional wisdom had been spurned.
Polling organisations’ failure to foresee the result of either phenomenon illustrates an inability to identify or empathise with those who have had enough and want something better.
There will certainly have been racists, xenophobes and idiots involved in both campaigns just as there were backing Clinton and Remain.
Insulting voters for their temerity in disagreeing with a business-as-usual agenda in these terms breeds resentment and makes political revolt more likely.
In other words Trump has joined the famous ‘revolt against elites” that the CPB (and no doubt others, such as the People’s Assembly, the SWP and Socialist Party, with dreams of a ‘People’s Brexit’) would dearly love to join – albeit on their own terms.
How far does the analogy go?
Most people on the left know something about the ‘social fascism’ line of the Stalinised Third International.
Social fascism was a theory supported by the Communist International (Comintern) during the early 1930s, which held that social democracy was a variant of fascism because, in addition to a shared corporatist economic model, it stood in the way of a complete and final transition to communism. At the time, the leaders of the Comintern, such as Joseph Stalin and Rajani Palme Dutt, argued that capitalist society had entered the “Third Period” in which a working class revolution was imminent, but could be prevented by social democrats and other “fascist” forces. The term “social fascist” was used pejoratively to describe social democratic parties, anti-Comintern and progressive socialist parties, and dissenters within Comintern affiliates throughout the interwar period.
More historical details are offered in this document, The concept of Social Fascism and the relationship between social democracy and fascism.
As Hal Draper noted, “The real enemy, then, was “democratic forms.” (The Ghost of Social-Fascism).
Today post-Brexit and post-Trump it’s the elite, the Establishment, in which, social democracy and the US centre-left Democrats, are firmly placed.
The principal target is the “ business-as-usual agenda.” The ‘centrists‘ in the US and Europe who have bent to the winds of globalisation and free-markets.
Hence the tender concern for the feelings of “voters” who have the “temerity” of rejecting it.
But they are not just saying ‘no’ to the affairs as normal agenda: they have said yes to a programme that’s a lot worse.
Social democracy, liberalism (in the US sense of centre left) risk becoming as great an ‘enemy’ as people of the stripe of Trump and his crew of thieving racists. A gang with ambitions to structurally embed their agenda.
There are good reasons to want to try to create an alternative to the remnants of the Blair Third Way, and whatever passed for an ideology with Obama.
But none whatsoever to rejoice in Brexit or to minimise the impact of Trump: both of which have accentuated the drive towards nationalism and ‘sovereigntism’ – national populism.
Yet the comparison with to break down when we go into just how far the Comintern was prepared to go in attacking the democratic and socialist left.
Even the most hardened loather of the internationalists who voted Remain would not openly come up with this kind of statement by the Communist Party of Great Britain’s J.T.Murphy in 1930 (Growth of Social-Fascism in Britain. The Communist Review.)
The rôle of the “Left” Social-Fascists, the I.L.P. (Maxton and Co.) in the situation stands out significantly and clear. It must be observed that neither Fascism nor Social-Democracy dispenses with demagogic radical declarations. This is but part of their stock in trade to get their policy across. Just so, also, with the “Left” Social-Fascists. The I.L.P. demands the “living wage,” the Labour Party denies that lowering wages will “improve matters.” Neither Maxton nor any of his associates lifted a finger to assist the strikers in the cotton dispute, but went to the Labour Party Conference and “deplored” the horrid job which “Charlie” Cramp and Walkden had to do, thus apologising and defending the wage-cutting Government.
Few today will probably know of the way the French Communist poet and novelist, Louis Aragon, who showed some real heroism in both the First and the Second World War, and during the Resistance, expressed the theory of ‘social fascism’ in his writings.
But it is perhaps one of the best ways of underlining the cultural differences between the Third Period and today.
In Red Front, written on his return from a visit to the USSR in 1931, Aragon expressed these lyrical wishes.
Proletariat learn your strength
Learn your strength and unchain it
It is preparing its hour Learn better how to see
Listen to that murmur coming from the prisons
It awaits its day it awaits its hour
its minute its second
when the delivered blow will be mortal
and the bullet so sure that all the social-fascist doctors
leaning over the body of the victim
extending their searching fingers under the lace nightshirt
listening with precision instruments to the already rotting heart
will not find the usual remedy
and will fall into the hands of the rioters who will push them up against the wall
Fire on Léon Blum
Fire on Boncour Frossard Déat
Fire on the trained bears of social democracy
Fire Fire I hear
death pass by as it throws itself on Garchery Fire I tell you
Under the leadership of the Communist Party
You wait finger on the trigger
the Lenin of the right moment.
(Translation from here).
Prolétariat connais ta force
Connais ta force et déchaîne-la
Il prépare son jour
il attend son heure
sa minute la seconde
où le coup porté sera mortel et la balle à ce point sûre
que tous les médecins socialfascistes
Penchés sur le corps de la victime
Auront beau promener leurs doigts chercheurs sous la chemise de dentelle
ausculter avec les appareils de précision son cœur déjà pourrissant
ils ne trouveront pas le remède habituel
et tomberont aux mains des émeutiers qui les colleront au mut
Feu sur Léon Blum
Feu sur Boncour Frossard Déat**
Feu sur les ours savants de la social-démocratie
Feu feu j’entends passer
la mort qui se jette sur Garchery**
Feu vous dis-je
Sous la conduite du parti communiste.
(Full text here)
When the Morning Star republishes this classic, along with this poem, unaccountably rarely reprinted today: to the glory of the Guépéou, Stalin’s secret police and predecessor of the KGB, we will begin to worry.
Préparez les conseils d’ouvriers et soldats
Constituez le tribunal révolutionnaire
J’appelle la Terreur du fond de mes poumons
Je chante le Guépéou qui se forme
en France à l’heure qu’il est
Je chante le Guépéou nécessaire de France
Je chante les Guépéous de nulle part et de partout
Je demande un Guépéou pour préparer la fin d’un monde
Demandez un Guépéou pour préparer la fin d’un monde
pour défendre ceux qui sont trahis
pour défendre ceux qui sont toujours trahis
Demandez un Guépéou vous qu’on plie et vous qu’on tue
Demandez un Guépéou
Il vous faut un Guépéou
Vive le Guépéou véritable image de la grandeur matérialiste
Vive le Guépéou contre Dieu Chiappe et la Marseillaise
Vive le Guépéou contre le pape et les poux
Vive le Guépéou contre la résignation des banques
Vive le Guépéou contre les manoeuvres de l’Est
Vive le Guépéou contre la famille
Vive le Guépéou contre les lois scélérates
Vive le Guépéou contre le socialisme des assassins du type
Caballero Boncour Mac Donald Zoergibel
Vive le Guépéou contre tous les ennemis du prolétariat.
Wikipedia cache. (1931)
Subscribe to comments with RSS.