1970s >> 1970 >> no-793-september-1970

How to combat Fascism

On February 3 the French trotskyist journal Lutte Ouvrière (No. 75) reproduced a passage from Socialist Worker criticising the Socialist Party of Great Britain for opposing the National Front in public debate. We sent a letter which was published in full in their issue of 17 March (No. 81). In it we pointed out:

 

   In Great Britain the public debate is traditionally a way of opposing another party and the SPGB has debated with Conservatives, Labourites, so-called Communists, trotskyists as well as with the fascists.
We hold that the way to fight fascism is to build a strong and uncompromising Socialist movement and not to form a non-socialist anti-fascist front. This is why we are opposed to the policy of the “International Socialism” group of debating only with some capitalist parties (such as the Labour Party) but not with others (such as the National Front). We say this encourages the illusion of the “lesser evil” and the idea of a non-socialist “popular front”.

 

Lutte Ouvrière replied:

 

  It is difficult for us to make a hasty judgement on the tactical differences of the English revolutionary movement as long as it is only a simple question of information. But we are in complete opposition to the principles set out here by the Socialist Party of Great Britain. We make a distinction between bourgeois parties and parties such as the Labour Party which represent the interests of the bourgeoisie within the workers’ movement. We also distinguish between classical bourgeois parties, those which use essentially parliamentary and electoral methods, and fascist parties which try to mobilise the petty- bourgeoisie and the lumpen-proletariat to physically liquidate workers’ and even simply democratic organisations. That the attitude which revolutionary Marxists should adopt towards a party which counts many workers in its ranks, to one which groups only bourgeois notables or to one which mobilises its troops to beat up working class militants or to attack strike pickets should be the same at all times and under all conditions, on the grounds that in the last analysis all three represent the interests of the same bourgeoisie, seems to us one which could be adopted only with difficulty. This has nothing to do with the acceptance or rejection of any “popular front”.

 

Lutte Ouvrière here distinguishes three kinds of capitalist party, which we translate into the context of British politics:

 

  1. Openly capitalist parties (Conservative, Liberal).
  2. Allegedly workers’ parties (Labour. Communist).
  3. Fascist parties (National Front, Union Movement).

 

They say that the attitude “revolutionary Marxists” should adopt towards these three types of capitalist party cannot always be the same. Unfortunately they do not tell us how the attitude should be different. We can only interpret their statement to mean that under certain circumstances they would urge workers to support a capitalist party of one type against a capitalist party of another and we challenge Lutte Ouvrière to deny this.

 

Our attitude is clear. As we say in our Declaration of Principles:

 

  As all political parties arc but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working-class emancipation must be hostile to every other party. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action, determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist.

 

Under no circumstances would we urge or have we urged workers to support any capitalist party since this would be to abandon the class struggle and betray the principle of no compromise.

 

We do say that the attitude a socialist party should adopt towards fascist parties should be exactly the same as that they adopt towards other capitalist parties: complete opposition. To single out fascists for special opposition can only lead to compromise with other capitalist parties.

 

Editorial Committee