17 October 2020

Fascism and the left

Adopted by the April 19 2008 meeting of CPGB members and supporters. Published in Weekly Worker 718, available on the WW archive here


Essential characteristics and our tactics

1 – Besides garbled populist propaganda denigrating foreigners, corrupt establishment politicians, migrants, communists, greedy capitalists, religious, ethnic and other minorities, etc, fascism launches physical force, primarily against the organised working class.

2 – Fascist groups, movements and parties form counterrevolutionary fighting squads separatefrom the state – this is the essential characteristic of fascism that distinguishes it from other forms of counterrevolution. Put another way, fascism is a terroristic variant of Bonapartism.

3 – Fascism objectively acts in the interests of the capitalist class. Fascist organisations are often manipulated, financed and directed by sections of the state and the monopoly bourgeoisie.

4 – Fascism grows into mass proportions when capitalist society is mired deep in crisis but the working class lacks the necessary organisation, determination or leadership with which to deliver the final revolutionary blow.

5 – Fascism clears its own path. But once in power fascist parties and fighting formations inevitably undergo a process of bureaucratisation. The upper layers merge with the ruling class. The lower elements are simply merged into the state machine or, that failing, are mercilessly crushed.

6 – Under present circumstances in Britain there is no immediate danger of a mass fascist movement, let alone a fascist movement coming to power. There is no revolutionary situation.

7 – It is essential to distinguish between individual fascists and fascist organisations. Eg, the BNP leadership contains many with a clear and unmistakable fascist background and continued ideological outlook. People who openly or privately admire or/and seek to emulate Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy or Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts. But today the BNP cannot be classified as a fascist organisation. It is a reactionary, ultra-nationalist, right-populist party. There are no fighting formations.

8 – The theory of killing fascism ‘in the egg’ is completely illusory. When it comes to the far right, it is a diversion and has led either to the leftist futility of squaddism or the quagmire of popular frontism.

9 – Destroying the extreme right using force and attempting to silence it through terror has patently failed. Ditto popular fronts which join the left organisationally and politically with the bourgeois establishment. Note the sizable votes for Ukip and the BNP.

10 – Unlike social democrats and anarchists, communists do not view any tactic as a matter of principle. Eg, parliamentarianism or anti-parliamentarianism. Indeed, when it comes to tactics, the only principle we recognise is that nothing is automatically ruled out and nothing automatically ruled in.

11 – Tactics employed to counter organisations such as the BNP, National Front, Ukip, etc have to be concrete. Therefore they have to be flexible and constantly changing.

12 – We consider the tactic of no-platforming opponents per fectly legitimate. Ditto force and violence. Against fascist fighting formations it is absolutely correct to defend ourselves using whatever means are necessary.

13 – By the same measure, peaceful tactics of debate and persuasion are also legitimate under other circumstances. We do not seek a ‘civilised’ relationship with the extreme right (or with the mainstream bourgeois parties, for that matter). But communists are determined to take away from the extreme right what popular base it might possess. That primarily means a battle for hearts and minds. Not that we consider those who vote BNP, NF or Ukip as our ‘natural’ constituency.

14 – At all times we recognise that it is the capitalist state and the capitalist class which is our main enemy. It is the failures, the malfunctioning of declining capitalism which gives both ammunition and sustenance to the extreme right.

15 – Communists are champions of democracy and free speech. We are against state bans on political parties, including outright fascist parties. State restrictions on what can and what cannot be said in political debate must also be vigorously opposed. Any such bans or restrictions would inevitably first and foremost affect the advanced part of the working class. Free speech and the widest democracy provide the best conditions for Marxism to grow and flourish, and for the formation of the working class into a future ruling class.

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