To Delay Anti-Nazi
United Front Is Fatal

Hesitation at This Time Is a Crime!

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 10, 20 February 1933, pp. 1 & 2.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The most urgent need in Germany today is clarity. Half-way measures, confusion, ambiguity, twistings and turnings – these are fatal to the proletarian movement which needs a clear line of action, clearly expressed and clearly followed through.

The only road to the smashing of Fascism is the united front of the German working class. Everybody now acknowledges this in words – even the Stalinists. The Left Opposition differs from the Stalinists not only by the fact that the latter have a wrong position on the question of the united front, but that they introduce a maximum of confusion into the minds of the working class precisely at the moment when a maximum of clarity is imperative if the German proletariat is not to be delivered to the Fascist butchers bound hand and foot.

Opposition’s Stand

What does the Left Opposition advocate? Nothing more or less than the policy jointly advocated by Lenin and Trotsky in the early years of the Comintern, applied to the present German situation. The proletariat is divided into two main camps: reformism (social democratic) and revolution (Communist) Each of these camps is organized into distinct parties, with millions of followers. Fascism threatens to exterminate both of them, the revolutionary section first and the reformist section after it – at times the order of annihilation is not even separated and both suffer from the same blows at the same time. The whole working class is imbued with a deep, irreconcilable hatred of Fascism. It wants to fight it, regardless of which camp in the labor movement it is attached to at the moment. The Communists have no interests separate and apart from the interests of the working class as a whole; they are only its most advanced section. It devolves upon them, therefore, to take the initiative in mobilizing the whole class for a struggle to the bitter end to crush Fascism.

The socialist workers do not yet believe in the need of the dictatorship of the proletariat; that is essentially why they are still in the social democracy (we leave aside for the moment the fact that Stalinist blunders help to keep them there) and are not yet prepared to fight for a Bolshevik revolution. They are prepared to go along even with the Bolsheviks to fight the common enemy of Fascism. The Communists must make it possible fof them to ally themselves with the Communist workers in the fight. This can be done at the present time by an alliance between the Communist party, and the Social Democratic party to which the socialist workers are still attached. The latter will be broken away from their treacherous leaders in the course of this joint struggle, for we proceed from the theory that the socialist leaders will try to curb the movement, to emasculate it, to make rotten compromises with the enemy – in short, to render the movement ineffective and to stop it half way along the road. The socialist workers do not yet realize fully the role of their leaders. They will realize it in the process of the struggle – by their own experience. We proceed further from the idea that the Communists are so superior not only in their strategical goal but also in their tactics for the every day and immediate questions, that by experience the workers will realize further that the Communists are their only true and effective leaders.

Providing that the Communists retain their independence, their own Banners, their right to free criticism of their temporary allies – they have nothing to fear from the alliance (i.e., from the united front) with the social democracy. Those who have a secret fear that the social democratic leaders are somehow superior, are opposed to such a united front. But the true Communists have nothing in the world to fear from a counterposing of their policy and leadership in the united front to those of the social democracy. They know which will triumph. They have confidence in themselves and in the sound class consciousness of the masses. The Stalinist Position

What do the Stalinists advocate? The “united front from below” under “revolutionary leadership”. This is a recruiting campaign for the party, but not the united front. It is precisely because the socialist masses are not yet ready to accept in advance the leadership of the Communist party that they have till now remained with the social democracy. The problem is how to win them away from the petty bourgeois socialist camp. The Stalinist slogan assumes that this problem has already been solved! The “united front from below” is postulated on the theory of “social Fascism” which dissolves the sharp distinction between the extreme “democratic” wing of the bourgeoisie and the extreme Fascist antidemocratic wing at the other extreme. What this theory has in common with Marxism, or even with the simple and known facts of the class struggle, remains undiscovered to the present day. At all events, on the basis of this theory the Stalinists refuse to make a bloc with the social democratic party, or to approach it officially with a concrete proposal for temporary united front on concrete questions. Those who like ourselves even propose such a united front, automatically become, according to the Stalinists, social Fascists, or better yet, the counter-revolutionary vanguard of social Fascism. This can be read any day in the week in the Daily Worker, in the Communist International, and so forth.

* * *

At the recently concluded 12th Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, the leader of the German party Thaelmann fulminated for hours against the proposal for a united front with the social democracy to smash Hitlerism. “Our party leadership set its face severely against the attitude which found its expression in an article entitled Change of System ... The tactical conclusions which have been drawn from the false estimation of the role of the S.P.D. in the above-mentioned article, are substantially on a par with the proposals of the Berlin district leadership – proposals which were made to the Social Democratic Party with a view to the holding of joint demonstrations, and which were rightly rejected by the Central Committee of our party, and corrected in the case of Berlin.

“The article contains among other things the following passage ‘... But above all, the demand of the Berlin-Brandenburg district leadership to the “Iron Front” movement to hold a joint demonstration against Fascism, is mos appropriate here.’

“In this we see the continuation of the false judgment of the role of the S.P.D. The proposal made by the leaders of the Berlin District to the ‘Iron Front’ was sharply criticized by us.”

And further on:

“Trotsky wants, in all seriousness, to see the Communists going hand in hand with the murderers of Liebknecht and of Rosa Luxemburg and beyond this with Herr Zoergiebel, and with any police president whom the Papen regime chooses to leave in office for the repression of the proletariat. Trotsky has attempted on more than one occasion, to lead the working class astray by his writings, by demanding negotiations between the leaders of the K.P.D. and the SPD. Among other things he said as follows, to quote him word by word: ‘One must actually declare complete readiness to form a bloc with the social democrats against Fascism ... One must compel social democracy to form a bloc against the fascists.’ This policy would mean that we would abandon our correct Bolshevik policy.” (Communist International, January 15, 1933, pp. 35–36)

Quite “clear”, is it not? To sit down with the socialist leaders is equivalent to the abandonment of Bolshevik policy. To propose to them a joint demonstration against Fascism, must be sharply criticized, and the action rejected. We take it that this holds not only for Germany, but for every other land, France included. But in France we see a somewhat “different” policy being pursued. In the central organ of the French Communist Party for January 17, 1933, we read the astounding report that

“Yesterday comrades Maurice Thorez and Jacques Doriot, in the name of our party, met with Paul Faure and J.B. Severac, representatives of the Socialist party and Paul Louis and M. Juncker, representatives of the Party of Proletarian Unity. The purpose of this conference was to discuss the question of the unity of action of the proletariat and to define its forms.”

How is this possible? Is the need for a united front so much greater in France than in Germany that in the former country. It is impermissible to “abandon our correct Bolshevik policy”? What has happened in France? Is Paul Faure one hair’s breadth better than the “murderers of Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg”, his co-religionists in Germany? Why is it “correct Bolshevik policy” to aim for a “bloc with the social democrats” in France and, an abandonment of this policy to aim for it in Germany?

But alas and alack! The well of Stalinist confusion is not exhausted by this comparison of Thaelmann with the French Communist party. One day after the Daily Worker devoted its leading editorial to a ferocious tirade at the Militant for demanding that the German party propose a united front against Fascism to the social democracy, it prints (2-17-1933] with the utmost unconcern, as if there were not the slightest contradiction between the two, the following correspondence from Berlin, in which is reported an interview given officially to the press by the German party leader, Wilhelm Pieck. Read it carefully and compare it with the dunderheaded observations of Thaelmann quoted above:

“Pieck went on to explain, the Communist party does not want to wait until Fascism goes bankrupt (A welcome change from yesterday’s position! – M.S.), it wants to arouse in the working class the will to resist. A split in the working class is one of the important premises of a Fascist dictatorship. The Communist party strives to bring about the unity of the working class. Pieck emphasized that the Communist party has already nit two official proposals to the Socialist Party of Germany and the reformist trade unions to form a fighting united front, and now again repeats this offer. The first proposal was made last July 20, when Papen set up his semi-Fascist dictatorship: the second official offer was made on January 30, when Hitler became Chancellor; and today, for the third time, when the aims and the very existence of the working class are being threatened and attacked by Fascism. The Socialist party and the trade union organizations have not yet replied to these open offers.” (Our emphasis)

The exact nature of these united front proposals made by the German party, is not known to us, and consequently we reserve final comment. We do know, however, that the first proposal to which Pieck refers is precisely the one against which Thaelmann polemized and which he informed us the Central Committee had condemned and rejected! Nor is it excluded that what Pieck says today is only a last minute desperate effort to cover up the tracks of yesterday by a formal gesture, not prepared for yesterday and not followed up seriously tomorrow. But whatever it may be the question naturally arises:

Which is the policy of the Communist International? Is it Doriot’s and Thorez’s Is it Thaelmann’s? Is it Pieck’s? (We cannot ask about the policy of Stalin, the “best disciple” of Lenin, because the “leader of the Communist International is as silent as the grave on the German crisis.) The workers, and especially the Communist workers whom the Stalinists have so criminally disoriented, confused and demoralized, whom they have rendered impotent in the present crucial hour, must demand an unambiguous reply!

To temporize and dilly-dally at the moment of crisis, said Lenin, is a crime. Confusion, ambiguity, lack of clarity and determination are the causes of temporizing. The confusion created by the Stalinists in the key problem of the present German crisis is the equivalent of a crime!

Precious hours are slipping by. Hitler knows what he wants and he marches ruthlessly towards his goal. The Communist party and its leadership, upon whom such a tremendous historical responsibility rests, are floundering like fish in the meshwork of the Stalinist net. The net must be cut through with a quick, sharp knife. The German Communist Party must be set free so that it may act with decisiveness. Upon it depends the decisive and final action of the whole German proletariat.

Saturday, Feb. 18, 1933

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