By Roger Annis, Sept 18, 2017
The following letter was sent by me to the author of an article first published in Dissident Voice on September 16, 2017: No, antifa, this is not the 1930s and we don’t need to punch a Nazi.
Sept 18, 2017
Thank you for your article in Dissident Voice discussing the antifa movement. I liked the article very much, but I believe your summary of the fight against the rise of fascism in Germany during the 1930s is only partial.
Only one circumstance could have stopped the rise of fascism in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. That was the formation of a militant and united political movement of all the working class parties opposed to fascism. Such a movement could have won over the liberal middle classes and farming classes who were not prepared to take a lead in opposing Hitler’s movement but prepared to participate to join others in action. As well, a broad political movement–centered on defending and extending democracy itself–could have enlarged the institutions of self-defense that were needed to defend against the violent, fascist paramilitaries. (These existed in Germany but did not have clear direction or enough participation.)
Ultimately, to stop fascism once and for all (including the threat of a new world war), a pro-socialist government of the working class and other progressive social forces was needed. Otherwise, the crisis in the capitalist economy would continue to generate the discontent and dissatisfaction that was fueling the demagogic appeal and violence of Hitler’s Nazi movement.
Never mind an anti-fascist government–the large working class parties in Germany failed even to create a sufficiently large and militant movement of opposition. Each were responsible in their own way.
The social-democratic parties eschewed the type of militant tactics that were needed to fight fascism and they were hostile to the other, large working class party, the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). For its part, the KPD was in the midst of the ultraleft, ‘Third Period’ politics of the Communist International (Wikipedia) whereby parties of social democracy were declared to be an equal or even greater danger to socialist aspirations than fascism. The KPD argued that the appeal of the Nazis, once they were in power, would be short lived, at which time the German masses would surely turn to the Communist Party to govern!
Several years later in Spain, the Third Period of the Comintern had ended. It was replaced by a ‘Popular Front’ policy declaring that ‘progressive’ sections of the capitalist classes could be won to a capitalist ‘democratic’ program as an alternative to fascism. Working class forces should, therefore, no longer seek the revolutionary (socialist) overthrow of capitalism, including its fascist variant. The Communist Party in Spain blocked and sabotaged a radicalization of the anti-fascist government that came to power in the election of February 1936.
The fascist general Francisco Franco staged a military revolt against the elected republican government from spain’s then-colony of Morocco. (Franco’s base in Morrocco was rendered more secure by the failure of the republican government to free the Moroccan people from colonial bondage.) A brutal, three-year civil war began. Fascist Germany actively assisted Franco’s army while the large Western powers not only refused to assist the republican government, they also proscribed their citizens from providing assistance or volunteering to fight.
To this day, the volunteer veterans on the republican side of the Spanish Civil War are not recognized for their service by the large imperialist governments grouped in NATO, even though the defeat of the republican government in Spain was an ominous portending of a second world war because of the free hand which Nazi Germany enjoyed in the civil war.
Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist until his death in 1975.
The story of the rise to power of fascism in Germany is described in detail in the writings of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. A large collection of his writings was published by Pathfinder Press as The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany.
George Orwell, a UK citizen, served as a volunteer, anti-fascist fighter in Spain. His book Homage to Catalonia (Wikipedia) tells that tale. Leon Trotsky wrote extensively as well on the Spanish Civil War. A large collection his writings, also by Pathfinder Press, is called The Spanish Revolution, 1931-1939.[End letter]
Liberals and ultraleftists: A marriage made in hell, by Janet Contursi, Dissident Voice, Sept 9, 2017