Unofficial translation of an article originally appearing in A Nova Democracia
“But it is characteristic of the victory of fascism that this victory, on the one hand, bears witness to the weakness of the proletariat, disorganized and paralyzed by the disruptive Social-Democratic policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, and, on the other, expresses the weakness of the bourgeoisie itself, afraid of the realization of a united struggle of the working class, afraid of revolution, and no longer in a position to maintain its dictatorship over the masses by the old methods of bourgeois democracy and parliamentarism.”
(The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Working Class Fight against Fascism, Georgi Dimitrov )
Seventy years ago, Bulgarian leader Georgi Dimitrov died in Sofia, Bulgaria, and history held him in a remarkable position for the International Communist Movement. The purpose of this text is to pay a small tribute to this “working-class golden hammer” (2), antifascist theorist and last coordinator of the Communist International.
Georgi Mikhailovitch Dimitrov was born on June 18, 1882 in the city of Radomir. At the age of 15, Dimitrov joined the printing workers ‘union and in 1902 the Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers’ Party. In 1903 the party, like many social democratic parties of the period, faced intense two-line struggle, and Dimitrov took part in the left (known as “narrow”) line in the party’s breakdown; in 1909 being elected to its Central Committee. During this first period of his life, Dimitrov was a prominent union leader, leading major strikes such as the Miners’ Strike in Pernik (1906), the textile workers’ strikes (1908), workers strike of a matchstick factory (1989) and typographers strike (1913).
In the 1920s, which in the world was marked by various uprisings inspired by the October Revolution of 1917, his party mobilized an armed uprising in 1923, and was consequently condemned to death by the pro-Mussolini military junta, which had taken power. , and therefore had to emigrate from his country. Still, he remained a professional revolutionary, now as the leader of the COMINTERN (Communist International), maintaining close relations with Stalin.
Exiled in Berlin, Dimitrov was arrested by the fascist state in 1933 at the farcical Reichstag (German Parliament) Fire trial, which the Nazis responded to with hundreds of arrests, including Dimitrov’s, suspending the constitution and freedom of the press for left-wing newspapers.
In the famous Leipzig trial – whose ideological purpose was to prove to the world that Germany had saved Europe from the Bolshevik threat – Dimitrov was unbreakable at the fascist provocation and, in an internationally recognized feat of heroism, turned the trial against his accusers, exposing the farce of the trial, the spurious motives of Nazism, propagating the COMINTERN line and defending its communist morality.
Though silenced more than 30 times in one session, his speech echoed in the international press and his heroism set fire to the hearts of workers around the planet serving as a historical example of communist conduct before the enemy’s courts. In other circumstances, we can see similar examples in Jiang Qing’s confrontational speeches against the prosecuting revisionists and the Chinese social-imperialist state, as well as with Chairman Gonzalo when he was presented by Fujimori to the national and international press in a cage.
In front of Goebbels, Goering, and every Nazi gang that stared at him, his words were a defiant challenge (3):
“I admit that my tone is hard and grim. The struggle of my life has always been hard and grim. My tone is frank and open. I am used to calling a spade a spade. I am no lawyer appearing before this Court in the mere way of his profession. I am defending myself, an accused Communist. I am defending my political honor, my honor as a revolutionary. I am defending my Communist ideology, my ideals.
I am defending the content and significance of my whole life.
(…) A time will come when such proposals will have to be settled, with interest. The elucidation of the Reichstag fire and the identification of the real incendiaries is a task which will fall to the People’s Court of the future proletarian dictatorship.
In the seventeenth century the founder of scientific physics, Galileo was arraigned before the stern Court of the Inquisition which had to condemn him to death as a heretic. With profound conviction and determination lie exclaimed: ‘Eppur si muove!’ (However she [the earth] moves!). This scientific law later became known to all mankind. No less determined than old Galileo we, Communists, declare today: ‘Eppur si muove!’
The wheel of history moves on towards Soviet Europe, towards a World Union of Soviet Republics. And neither any measures of extermination, nor prisons or death sentences will be able to stop this wheel, driven by the proletariat under the leadership of the Communist International. It moves and moves towards the final victory of Communism.”
His prestige as a revolutionary and antifascist was consummated in his election as Secretary General of the COMINTERN Executive Committee in 1935, a position he would hold until its dissolution. In this period, Dimitrov was instrumental in consolidating antifascism as a proper theoretical field of Marxism-Leninism, developing and important synthesis of all the struggles that the European and Asian communist parties were then developing against the fascist threat and the imminent predatory war. Although the basis for antifascism has been laid since the first COMINTERN congresses and the practical experience of this struggle is already being developed (as in Spain, China and Germany, for example), it was in the period after 1935 that, under the leadership of Dimitrov, COMINTERN had began an unfinished synthesis of all the knowledge about fascism (and how to combat it) gained through arduous confrontation, struggling and pioneering analysis by influential members such as Clara Zetkin, Palme Dutt and others. Unfinished, as the necessary balance of experience and its long-term consequences was neither sufficient nor possible, as the COMINTERN dissolved in 1943. As written by the MLM Study Group (Brazil):
“(…) It was a key issue to draw lessons from the experiences of these great events in order to prepare for the new postwar situation, to separate Marxism from revisionism and to set the general line for the international communist movement. The absence of this balance (synthesis) in an organized way did not allow for assimilating all the richness of errors and successes to propel the offensive of the proletarian revolution, eventually favoring the action of modern revisionism that had been born since the early 1940s. (4) Already in 1935, Dimitrov, in his famous report to the 7th Congress of COMINTERN, ‘The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class Against Fascism’, plants some elements now considered central to the communist definition of fascism (the specificity of its political economy, the character of fascist terrorism, class forces in a fascist society), as well as the three fundamental elements for combating fascism: the United Front, the combative antifascist force, and the revolutionary state of People’s Democracy.
Although our text is a tribute and does not want to address deeper critical considerations, we should note that this process of synthesis took place amid immediate needs of mass mobilization against the growing stultification of fascism and imminence, and that there were problems of analysis, insufficiencies and anachronisms that were easily teased by revisionist elements such as Browder, Toggliati and Thorez, who liquidated the revolutionary struggle in their countries and turned Dimitrov into an ‘empty icon.’
A definitive assessment of this period, its advances and setbacks, is still pending.
It is also worth noting that many of these shortcomings were perfected and / or corrected during the Chinese Revolution, and much of what we consider basic pillars of Maoism, such as the New Democracy, the United Front independence thesis, and the specifics of fascism in the regime of China, bureaucratic capitalism, were direct responses to the limits of COMINTERN’s theses (positions formulated by Chairman Mao and which in the internal struggle were represented by the Communist Party of China delegate Wang Ming).
In this rich report, Dimitrov also seeds the correlation between the anti-fascist struggle and the national liberation struggle, especially interested in the developing experiences in China, India, and Brazil; in the latter case being an observer of the formation of the ANL (National Liberating Alliance), led by the Prestes Communist Party of Brazil. About it, he says:
“In Brazil the Communist Party, having laid a correct foundation for the development of the united anti-imperialist front by the establishment of the National Liberation Alliance, has to make every effort to extend this front by drawing into it first and foremost the many millions of the peasantry, leading up to the formation of units of a people’s revolutionary army, completely devoted to the revolution and to the establishment of the rule of the National Liberation Alliance.”(5)
Through COMINTERN, Dimitrov was instrumental in the development of the Unique Fronts around Europe, and in his native country, Bulgaria. Following the defeat of the Nazi beast occupying Sofia, jointly won by the insurgent forces and the Soviet Red Army, the Bulgarian Patriotic Front takes power and, electing Dimitrov as its president after 22 years of his exile, he is building the People’s Democracy of the country. Dimitrov assumes this position until his death in 1949, but without failing to exercise his internationalist function, advising parties around the world and participating in the two-line struggle that was being developed against Yugoslavian revisionism. After his death, unfortunately, his legacy was tarnished by his party’s opportunists, who a few years later will join the international Khrushchevite clique and end the revolutionary and democratic gains in his country.
In the history of the ICM, the historical position of this Bulgarian communist is a point of friction. When not openly omitted, it is outraged by its “left” critics and opportunistically misrepresented by the rightists. To see a communist leader of his weight, with his historical and international importance being treated as mere historical curiosity by many communists is astonishing. Especially as it is an essential part of the international fight against fascism. Today, studying his thinking is also of paramount importance in understanding the innovation contained in many of Chairman Mao’s theses, but also in understanding the true legacy of this figure so maligned by the “left” and swayed by the right in the history of ICM.
70 years after the death of one of the leading synthesizers of a communist theory of antifascism, that damn word comes back to everyone, because, as Brecht put it, “the bitch of fascism is always in heat” and apparently pregnant. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) (6) refers to the Modi regime as fascist; So does the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front (7) as regards Duterte. The Maoist Communist Party of France, in its constitution (8), identifies a growing fascist force gathering around the Le Pen family and its party. The rise and consolidation of fascist forces in Ukraine, Hungary and Italy is well known even to non-communists.
As reported at the Sixth COMINTERN Congress, “more or less developed, the fascist tendencies and germs of a fascist movement can be found almost everywhere” (9), and in 1926 this was postwar, reactionary to the revolutionary movement of the workers and the growing financial crisis that would result in the crash. By 2019, 90 years after the crash, by comparison, a growing fascist force in the world has its roots in the end of the Cold War – with the expansionism of imperialist forces over the spoils of civil war and bankruptcy of national states; in the financial crisis of 2008 and the forthcoming international crisis, foreseen even by bourgeois economists.
By contrast, the PCm (France) points out that a striking difference is “the absence of a socialist camp, the revisionist betrayal and the current weakness of the organized proletarian forces” (10). This finding is not just a small footnote, for the historical analysis of the class character of fascism attests that antagonism with the growing popular organization is one of the pillars supporting the fascist aberration, thus presented as remedial or preventive counterrevolution. The masses today, therefore, find themselves in the possibility of an even greater crisis over a fascist future, for they lack the instruments and strategies of war that were then granted by their already consolidated revolutionary forces.
Therefore, this year, on the centenary of the founding of COMINTERN by the great Lenin and 70 years after the death of Dimitrov, a call to study the historical legacy of the ICM in the fight against fascism is justified. Be it to remember our collective history as communists and democrats, or to make the syntheses long postponed. In honor of Dimitrov’s memory, in 1954 Chairman Mao Zedong writes a text entitled “Georgi Dimitrov and the Chinese People” (11), where he discusses the influence of Dimitrov’s thinking on the Chinese Revolution (especially in the development of the fight against Japanese invasion). About him he says:
“Comrade Dimitrov has left us forever. The Chinese revolution, which he so enthusiastically supported, is victorious. The People’s Republic of Bulgaria, from which it was separated by his death, is bravely walking the path of socialism and has created strong friendship with the People’s Republic of China. All these victories are the greatest tribute to Comrade Dimitrov who now rests in peace. ”
Comrade Dimitrov is Immortal!
Let us echo Chairman Mao’s words at the 70th birthday of this great figure.
EXCERPT FROM THE ‘DIMITROV REPORT’ AT THE 7TH COMINTERN CONGRESS (12)
What is the source of the influence of fascism on the masses? Fascism is able to attract the masses because it demagogically appeals to their most pressing needs and demands. Fascism not only ignites prejudices that are deeply rooted in the masses, but also acts on the best feelings of the masses, on their sense of justice, and sometimes on their revolutionary traditions. Why do German fascists, those bourgeois lackeys and deadly enemies of socialism, represent themselves to the masses as “socialists” and portray their rise to power as a “revolution”? Because they try to exploit the faith in the revolution and the drive for socialism that lives in the hearts of the mass of workers in Germany.
Fascism acts in the interests of extreme imperialists, but presents itself to the masses disguised as the champion of an abused nation, and appeals to outraged national sentiments, such as German fascism, for example, when it won the support of the petty bourgeois masses with the slogan, “Down with the Treaty of Versailles.”
Fascism aims at the most rampant exploitation of the masses, but approaches them with the most ingenious anti-capitalist demagogy, taking advantage of the deep hatred of the working people against the plundering bourgeoisie, the banks, trusts and financial tycoons, and advancing these slogans that at the given moment are more appealing to the politically immature masses. In Germany – “The general welfare is greater than the welfare of the individual”, in Italy – “Our state is not capitalist, but a corporate state”, in Japan – “For a Japan without exploitation” in the United States – “Share the wealth” and so on.
Fascism commits the people to be devoured by the most corrupt and venal elements, but stands before them with the demand for “an honest and incorruptible government.” Speculating on the profound disillusionment of the masses in bourgeois-democratic governments, fascism hypocritically denounces corruption.
It is in the interest of the most reactionary circles of the bourgeoisie that fascism intercepts the disappointed masses who abandon the old bourgeois parties. But it impresses these masses by the vehemence of their attacks on bourgeois governments and their irreconcilable attitude towards the former bourgeois parties.
Overcoming in its cynicism and hypocrisy all other varieties of bourgeois reaction, fascism adapts its demagogy to the national peculiarities of each country and even to the peculiarities of the various social strata in the same country. And the mass of the petty bourgeoisie and even a section of the workers, reduced to despair over the need, unemployment and insecurity of their existence, are victims of the social and chauvinistic demagogy of fascism.
10- See footnote 3