Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Trump, Clinton, Brexit and ‘Social Fascism’: a Historical Note.

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Image result for earl browder social fascism

“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:

A Blow to Liberalism

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.

Wikipedia.

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
SFIC
You wait finger on the trigger
Fire
but Lenin
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.

Seriously.

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)

9 Responses

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  1. The AFDC-killing, Glass-Steagall-repealing, Effective-Death-Penalty-supporting, Waco-slaughtering Clintons were DEFEATED. Good.

    A comrade on FB summed it up this way:

    Donald Trump beat Romney among latino and black voters by a significant margin. He won hundreds of thousands of those who voted for Obama twice, especially in Pennsylvania.

    Irredeemable bigotry and misogyny didn’t decide this election, broad working-class discontent at an increasingly crisis-ridden world did.

    Donald Trump IS a crude bigot, a misogynist, and a demagogue. He warrants no one’s confidence. He’s a billionaire capitalist who can and will do nothing to resolve the crisis that we face. But it’s a losing recipe to double down on resentment and anger towards millions of workers who may have cast a ballot for him.

    Fight and build organizations worthy of the mantle of leadership. My confidence remains with working people the world over. We have lessons to learn and a world to win.

    Jay Rothermel

    November 11, 2016 at 3:24 pm

  2. Just a note, Andrew — the Commentary piece is by THEODORE Draper, not HAL Draper. Brothers, if I recall correctly. Theodore was a former-CPUSA-member-turned-liberal, while Hal stayed on the anti-Stalinist revolutionary left his whole life.

    jschulman

    November 11, 2016 at 4:13 pm

  3. Thank you Andrew, for reminding us of that delightful Aragon poem. We should be so lucky as to have committed artists of such stature today.

    Nick Wright

    November 11, 2016 at 5:22 pm

  4. I assume, Nick, that you mean Vive le Guépéou véritable image de la grandeur matérialiste.

    Many are familiar with the Front Rouge but only a true Marxist-Leninist would be in admiration of those lines in praise of the Soviet Secret Police – busying rounding up people for the Firing Squad and the Gulag.

    Andrew Coates

    November 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm

  5. You could consider a Trump victory as a blow to liberalism/bourgeois liberalism — one that socialists should oppose, fight, and should have voted against on election day because the blow was being dealt by the (very rough) equivalent of the Black Hundreds, to strain a Russian analogy. Red-Brownism is really taking over the Alt Left, from Russia Today to Stop the War Coalition to Syria to Brexit and now Trump.

    @pplswar

    November 11, 2016 at 6:17 pm

  6. See also:Hugh MacDiarmid

    “The Cheka’s horrors are in their degree;

    And’ll end suner! What maitters ‘t what we kill

    To lessen that foulest murder that deprives

    Maist men o’ real lives.”

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12712632.SUPR

    Mind you he was, besides being a Stalinist, a racist, an admirer of fascism, and a Scottish nationalist….

    Andrew Coates

    November 11, 2016 at 6:40 pm

  7. Wish I hadn’t read the excerpt from J T (Ji) Murphy. Up to now, I always regraded him as a “good egg” among the inter war years CP’ers, what with his background in the WW! shop stewards movement, a man who learnt his Marxism by study hidden behind a large lathe in Sheffield’s Firth Vickers works, one of those imprisoned in the General Strike, and who later split with Stalinism to work with left social democrats and other ex CP’ers who hadn’t left their independent minds in the King Street vestibule (such as Tom Wintringham) in WW2. I have his biog “New Horizons” which is silent about writing doggerel such as that cited……………another illusion shattered

    David Walsh

    November 12, 2016 at 10:46 am

  8. Nor had I, and I suspect David we’ve read some of the same books on the National Minority Movement.

    By contrast I am not surprised by this:

    Andrew Coates

    November 12, 2016 at 12:31 pm

  9. Galloway and fellow Red-Brown scum send a letter to the Morning Star (published Nov 12-13):

    THE US Democratic Party has been defeated in the person of the most economically neoliberal and internationally neoconservative nominee imaginable. From the victory of Donald Trump, to the Durham teaching assistants’ dispute, the lessons need to be learned.

    The workers are not the easily ignored and routinely betrayed base, with the liberal bourgeoisie as the swing voters to whom tribute must be paid.

    The reality is the other way round. The EU referendum ought already to have placed that beyond doubt.

    There is a need to move, as a matter of the utmost urgency, away from an excessive focus on identity issues, and towards the recognition that those existed only within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace, including co-operation with Russia, not a new Cold War.

    It is worth noting that working-class white areas that voted for Barak Obama did not vote for Hilary Clinton, that African-American turnout went down while the Republican share of that vote did not, and that Trump to 30 per cent of the Hispanic vote. Blacl Lives Matter meant remembering Libya, while Latino Lives Matter meant remembering Honduras.

    The defeat of the Clintons by a purported opponent of neoliberal economic policy and of neoconservative foreign policy, although time will tell, has secured the position of Jeremy Corbyn, who is undoubtedly such an opponent.

    It is also a challenge to Theresa May to make good her rhetoric about One Nation, about a country that works for everyone, and about being a voice for working people.
    DAVID LINDSAY Lanchester council candidate, 2017
    GEORGE GALLOWAY former MP for Glasgow Hillhead, Glasgow Kelvin, Bethnal Green & Bow and Bradford west
    NEIL CLARK
    RONAN DODDS
    JAMES DRAPER
    JOHN MOODY
    MIETEK PADOWICZ
    AREN PYM
    ADAM YOUNG

    Jim Denham

    November 14, 2016 at 4:23 pm


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