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An Overview of the Modern "Communist" Movement
(Preface to "The History of the International Communist
and Workers Movement" 1971)

Written by the Editorial Board of Zenkokushakensha
Translated by Roy West

[ I ]

The opportunist policies of "democratic united front tactics" and "democratic coalition governments" (in other words the tactics of the "peoples front") being applied by the Communist Parties in every country can be traced to the seventh general meeting of the Comintern in 1935. At this meeting the previous "ultra-leftist" infantile leftist tactics (i.e. the theory of "social fascism"), which regarded social democracy (represented in Japan mainly by the [former] Socialist Party) as the "twin" of fascism and regarded the two as substantially identical, were surreptitiously put away and hurriedly replaced with the Menshevik-style opportunistic policy of announcing that social democracy and bourgeois democracy were almost the same as communism.

The ultra opportunistic character of this tactic should be immediately clear to anyone has inherited some of the true revolutionary tradition of the communist movement. For example, if we look at the 1920 "Terms of Admission to the Communist International" drafted by Lenin this should become clear. In these conditions Lenin describes their revolutionary tactics in the following way:

First Term:
"Day-by-day propaganda and agitation must be genuinely communist in charactercThird International supporters should use all media to which they have access-the press, public meetings, trade unions, and co-operative societies-to expose systematically and relentlessly, not only the bourgeoisie but also its accomplices-the reformists of every shade."

Sixth Term:
"It is the duty of any party wishing to belong to the Third International to expose, not only avowed social-patriotism, but also the falsehood and hypocrisy of social-pacifism. It must systematically demonstrate to the workers that, without the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, no international arbitration courts, no talk about a reduction of armaments, no 'democratic' reorganization of the League of Nations will save mankind from new imperialist wars.

Seventh Term:
"It is the duty of parties wishing to belong to the Communist International to recognize the need for a complete and absolute break with reformism and "Centrist" policy, and to conduct propaganda among the party membership for that break. Without this, a consistent communist policy is impossible."

It is self-evident that the tactics of today's "communists" who pursue broad united front tactics with social democratic or "democratic" forces is completely incompatible with the terms of the Third International. Lenin strongly demanded that a merciless struggle be carried out, not only against the bourgeoisie, but also against their "assistants", the social democrats ("betrayers of the banner of the working class") who must be exposed. There is absolutely no point in common between these revolutionary tactics and the opportunism of the contemporary Communist Parties who look on social democracy as a "friend" (look at the program of the JCP), judge them to have "positive meaning" and call for cooperation and compromise. Moreover, the present-day JCP has announced policies supporting not only social democrats (Socialist Party), but also bourgeois liberal intellectuals in the Minobu! If we look at any Communist Party throughout the world, there is not a single one that would meet the terms of admission to the Third International.

[ II ]

The damaging influence of the opportunistic tactics of these officially recognized "communists" did incalculable damage to the struggles of the working class throughout the world. From the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929, world capitalism passed through a twenty year period of unprecedented crisis which saw rising class struggle, fascism, civil war, imperialist war, inflation, and revolution. Nevertheless, even though wounded, capitalism held on and survived. The officially recognized "communists" are the ones who bear the greatest responsibility for giving world capitalism an extended life. This is because they were the ones who should have stood at the forefront of the revolutionary struggle to overthrow capitalism, but instead they gave up this task and in fact returned to the position of the Second International-the position of reformism and opportunism.

Of course, these turbulent twenty years did not pass without any revolutionary transformation or change. China achieved a "national democratic revolution" and national unity; Eastern Europe was "liberated" by the Soviet Red Army, and in Asia and Africa many colonies gained their independence. However, these "liberations" were achieved despite the confusion and unrest in the international proletariat communist movement, and were not carried out through "democratic united front tactics" as the Stalinist Communist Parties proclaimed.

For example, the "liberation" of Eastern Europe was not the result of the development of class struggle, but was carried out through coup d'etats under the pressure of the Soviet Red Army. Even the Czechoslovakian revolution, which JCP chairman Miyamoto uses as a model of how a "democratic alliance government" can "peacefully" develop into socialism, was not carried out through class struggle, but through means of political intrigue and assassinations by the Soviet secret police.

The tactics of "democratic united fronts tactics" is a policy of allying with bourgeois and petty bourgeois political parties and politicians which beautifies them, and cannot be carried out without their support. However, these politicians definitely won't support the establishment of proletariat power or communism. As the possibility of the proletariat capturing power increases, these politicians with their attachments to "liberalism" and capitalism would be hostile to proletariat power and would devote all of their energy to fight against it. Moreover, these "tactics" for advancing towards proletarian revolution fall into a decisive dilemma and inevitably go bankrupt. The Communist Parties are thus faced with the dilemma of choosing either the path of abandoning the revolution (Western Europe), or the path of using political intrigue and state power to remove these political parties and politicians (Eastern Europe). The ridiculousness and stupidity of the tactic of supporting bourgeois politicians and "uniting" with them to overthrow the bourgeoisie should be readily apparent to the class conscious worker.

It seems as if the tactic of a democratic united front was successful in China and made the victory of the revolution possible. It is said that the united front of Maoism which "isolated" the enemy, and created advantageous conditions to expand their own power, prepared for the sweeping away of foreign imperialism and the overthrow of the bourgeoisie (Kuomintang). However, the most fundamental thing which ensured the victory of the Chinese Revolution was the revolutionary mass struggle of the peasant masses, not tactics in the sense of mere trickery-the officially recognized communists have a completely incorrect understanding of the concept of these tactics and can only think of them in the sense of the compromises, bargaining, business and cheating of bourgeois politics; and on this point Trotsky is guilty of the same crime. If the Chinese Communist Party had been able to keep a consistently revolutionary standpoint and fluctuated less, the Chinese Revolution would have been more decisive. After the revolution, and even before it, the united front of the Chinese Communist Party had lost almost all significance. Although the Party continues to support this policy, the fact is that since the middle of the Fifties this united front has become completely formalistic and merely plays the role as a mask for the Maoist dictatorship.

However, this is not the least bit strange. The united front tactics employed by the Stalinist Communist Parties, notwithstanding their superficial principles of compromise and "broadbase-ism", are inevitably extremely sectarian and dogmatic. Tolerance towards bourgeois elements, but a stern attitude towards proletariat elements-these are the two sides of the same coin. It is probably also not accidental that their superficial lip service to tolerance in fact becomes the most narrow-minded political intriguing. This approach was totally unable to overturn bourgeois rule in the past, and won't be able to do so in the future.

These (united front) "tactics" could only have currency in countries where factors outside of the class struggle weighed heavily, like in postwar Eastern Europe. However, the experience of the "democratic front" governments in France and Spain that led to the miscarriage of the socialist revolution show that these tactics can't stand up to criticism. Today the Communist Party betrays the working class again by using opportunistic tactics which thirty years of history have revealed to be utterly reactionary and fraudulent-these tactics have caused incalculable damage and victims in the working class.

[ III ]

The use of these tactics by Stalinist Communist Parties in 1935 was often explained as being for the protection of the socialist "homeland" against Nazi Germany. In other words, faced with the increasing danger of an invasion by Nazi Germany, Stalin adopted the policy of forming alliances with bourgeois states in Western Europe (France and England), and compromising with "democracy". This view is widely accepted not only among the bourgeoisie, but also among Trostkyists and the Communist Parties. Starting from this logic, the Communist Parties in particular, secretly defended the imperialist partition of Poland, the Baltic Republics and Finland, and also defended the shameful German-Soviet agreement of 1935. Is any justification possible for this form of truly opportunistic tactics.

The short lived alliance with bourgeois states in Western Europe as well as the dirty business with Nazi Germany actually couldn't weaken or stop the imperialistic expansion of Nazi Germany. Rather, this led to immeasurable confusion and chaos in the international struggles of the proletariat. Seen from the perspective of the defense of the Soviet Union from the Nazis, Stalin's opportunistic trial and error and expedient policies certainly were not a plus. This strengthened Hitler's ambitions, rather than weakening them, increased his impudence, and his determination to launch into a fearful adventure was only hardened.

Certainly, the bourgeoisie in Western Europe regarded Nazi Germany as a "barrier" to communist revolution, and they hoped that the Nazis would direct their imperialist ambitions towards the east rather than the west.

On the other hand, however, the imperialist bourgeoisie couldn't help feeling more than a little bit scared and uneasy by the challenge of Nazi Germany, and its attempt at repartition. Thus they had to appear as opponents to Nazi Germany. The imperialist bourgeoisie had a confused dual position towards Nazi Fascism whereby they denounced fascism while repeatedly yielding and compromising; in the end, they united and overthrew it.

Nazi Germany as well looked upon communism as its sworn enemy. This is natural, since the essence of fascism is anti-revolutionary. However, this didn't determine all of the Nazis' policies. One significant background to the Nazi victory was that it was a reaction against the postwar imperialist system (Versailles System) of the western European bourgeoisie. In this sense, they represented the purest, most typical and most radical expression of German imperialism's traditional hostility to English and French imperialism. One side of this ultra imperialism was the Nazi's extermination of the Jews and their fantasy of "pure Aryan blood". Thus, German fascism bore its aggressive fangs not only at the Soviet Union, but also at the bourgeois states of Western Europe.

This was not related to the policies Stalin adopted, but rather the objective reality of German capitalism. In all likelihood, Hitler would probably would have expanded in whichever direction held the least resistance, east or west. If the Soviet Union had maintained a firm standpoint and been determined to launch a decisive counterattack to the Nazi invasion, and prepared for it, Hitler probably would have only gone in the direction of the bourgeois states (France and England) who were weakened and crippled by "democracy" and the class struggle, instead of the Soviet Union. If this had happened, the imperialist character of the war would have been more purely manifested. The Soviet Union might have been able to snatch the third party's profit from this war (i.e. international proletarian revolution).

But Stalin, confused and frightened by the Nazis, was incapable of judging the contradictions and conflicts between Germany England and France as imperialist capitalist states, and pursued the fantasy that he could prevent the Nazi invasion through confused, expedient, and opportunistic policies. In fact, this approach only strengthened the confidence of the Nazis, and swelled their ambition. The extent to which Stalin, reassured by the pact with Hitler, had neglected preparations for the invasion, was revealed by Kruschev in the "secret broadcast" of the 20th Party Meeting in 1956. Stalin's policy to protect the "socialist homeland"-the policy of not only allying with the bourgeoisie and opportunists, but also a shameful pact with fascism-was in fact nothing more than a myth. Not only did fail to protect the Soviet workers from Nazi invasion, it caused an irretrievable damage to the international communist movement. The Communist Party used any theory or deception to justify Stalin's methods, which only twisted the class consciousness of the advanced workers.

Of course, the Soviet Communist Party's opportunistic tactics were the inevitable result, and one side of the qualitative change in the Soviet state. That this is not simply a question of temporary policies should be clear from the fact that this opportunism became a completely "fixed" official policy. The bureaucratic bourgeois qualitative change in the Soviet state is a separate problem that we won't develop here, but already today this is a solemn fact. This teaches us that far from being a plus, the officially recognized "communist" government of the Soviet Union is [was] a decisive minus for the struggles of the working class throughout the world. Since the 1917 revolution, the Soviet Union, through its prestige as a revolutionary state, has been given the position of leader of the international proletariat liberation movement. Today this complete fiction has been exposed (the same applies to the so-called Maoist faction i.e. Chinese sanctioned "communism"). The foundation of our activity is precisely the social position of the working class in capitalist society and the class struggle of the workers against the exploitation and capitalist rule; the policies of the so-called bureaucratic "socialist" states is a separate standpoint.

[ IV ]

Today it has become popular for bourgeois liberal intellectuals (for example the Structural Reformists-[split from the JCP with a program roughly equivalent to Eurocommunism]) to discuss the experience of the "popular front governments" and criticize them for not having the perspective of shifting to socialism. However, they remain silent regarding the fact that the essence of these governments was bourgeois and that they didn't carry through any socialist policies, and thus they end up beautifying these governments. They ignore the fact that these governments had no intention of "shifting" to socialism, and that a completely different revolutionary road is necessary for the transition to socialism. The Communist Party's opportunistic "democratic front politics" are in the end related with these sorts of foolish generalizations. No matter how much the JCP denounces the "revisionism" of the Structural Reformists, there is no denying that their class position is essentially the same.

Our purpose in this history of the international communist and workers movement is to examine and summarize the actual history and experience of the "democratic united front" and democratic coalition governments. This history precedes the application of the "popular front tactics" carried out by the Stalinist Communist Parties in 1935, and in fact begins from the time of the 1848 revolution. We intend to make our study as all inclusive as possible, and have included all of the main events.

Needless to say this collection of essays, in a sense, is insufficient since the contributors are not scholars and have access to limited materials.

Nonetheless, we believe that this collection has positive meaning. That is, this is a revolutionary criticism of the shameless opportunism of the officially recognized "communists" which exposes the damage they brought to the working class, and clearly shows the path that the struggles of the advanced workers must take. Moreover, this work provides correct answers to the essential and decisive questions facing the revolutionary and workers movement. These are correct answers which scholarly professors (and JCP scholars) and positivistic scholarship, starting from more or less mistaken ideas, have been unable to find.

This work should show where the recommendations and practical tactics of the present day JCP will ultimately lead for the working class. We hope that many advanced workers will study this work and discover the correct path for their struggles.

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