June 1923

Communist International

ECCI

June 23, 1923



ON FASCISM


RESOLUTION OF THE THIRD ECCI PLENUM


(extracts)



Fascism is a characteristic phenomenon of decay, a reflection of the progressive dissolution of capitalist economy and of the disintegration of the bourgeois State.

Its strongest root is the fact that the imperialist war and the disruption of the capitalist economy which the war intensified and accelerated meant, for broad strata of the petty and middle bourgeoisie, small peasants, and the 'intelligentsia', in contrast to the hopes they cherished, the destruction of their former condition of life and especially their former security. The vague expectations which many in these social strata had of a radical social improvement, to be brought about by reformist socialism, have also been disappointed. The betrayal of the revolution by the reformist party and trade union leaders .


. . has led them to despair of socialism itself. The weakness of will, the fear of struggle shown by the way in which the overwhelming majority of the proletariat outside Soviet Russia tolerates this treachery, and under capitalist whips drudges to consolidate its own exploitation and enslavement, has robbed these small and middle bourgeois, as well as the intellectuals, brought into a state of ferment, of their belief in the working class as the mighty agent of a radical social transformation. They have been joined by many proletarian elements who, looking for and demanding action, feel dissatisfied with the behaviour of all political parties. Fascism also attracts the disappointed and declassed, the rootless in every social stratum, particularly ex-officers who have lost their occupation since the end of the war. This is particularly true of the defeated Central Powers, where in consequence fascism has taken on a marked antirepublican character. . . .


In the period of revolutionary ferment and proletarian risings, fascism to some extent sympathized or at least flirted with proletarian revolutionary demands. The masses which followed fascism vacillated between the two camps in the great and universal class contradictions and class struggles. But with the consolidation of capitalist rule and the general bourgeois offensive they threw themselves definitely on to the side of the bourgeoisie, where their leaders had stood from the beginning.

The bourgeoisie immediately took fascism into paid service in their fight to defeat and enslave the proletariat. . .


. . The old, allegedly non-political apparatus of the bourgeois State no longer guarantees the bourgeoisie adequate security. They have set about creating special class-struggle troops against the proletariat. Fascism provides these troops. Although fascism by its origin and its exponents also includes revolutionary tendencies, which might turn against capitalism and its State, it is nevertheless becoming a dangerous counter-revolutionary force. That has been shown where it triumphed, in Italy. . . . In Italy the door to fascism was opened by the passivity of the socialist party and the reformist trade union leaders; its revolutionary phraseology won over many proletarian elements, which made its victory possible. . .

. . The triumph of fascism in Italy spurs the bourgeoisie of other countries to take the same course in defeating the proletariat. The working classes of the entire world are threatened with the fate of their Italian brothers. . . .


It is the task of the conscious revolutionary vanguard of the working class to take up the struggle against victorious fascism in Italy and in the rest of the world where it is organizing. Fascism must be disarmed and defeated politically, and the workers organized strongly for self-defence against fascist violence. To accomplish this it is necessary to take the following steps:



I


In every workers' party and workers' organization, of whatever tendency, a special body must be set up to conduct the struggle against fascism and its foreign representatives. This body shall:


1. collect information about the fascist movement in its country;


2. systematically enlighten the working class about the hostile class character of the fascist movement by articles in the press, pamphlets, posters, meetings, etc.;


3. systematically enlighten the recently proletarianized masses, and those threatened with proletarianization, about the nature of fascism and its functions in the service of large-scale capitalism;


4. organize the defensive struggles of the workers by setting up and arming special detachments. Since the fascists are particularly active in their propaganda to young people, young workers must be drawn into the united front, and those over seventeen should be included in the factory self-defence detachments. Workers' co-ordinating committees should be set up to prevent the transport of fascist gangs and their weapons. Any fascist attempt to terrorize the workers and hamper them to be ruthlessly defeated;


5. draw workers of whatever opinion into this struggle. Call on all workers' parties, unions, and proletarian mass organizations for joint defence against fascism;


6. fight against fascism in parliament and all public bodies; emphasize its imperialist and arch-chauvinist character, which increases the danger of new international wars.



II


The fascist forces are being organized on an international scale, and it is consequently necessary to organize the workers' struggle against fascism internationally. For this purpose an international workers' committee must be set up which, besides exchanging experiences, shall organize international actions, in the first place against Italian fascism. This committee shall consider:


1. an international educational campaign, through the press, pamphlets, photographs, mass meetings, on the anti-labour character of the Italian fascist regime and its destruction of all workers' organizations and institutions;


2. the organization of mass meetings and demonstrations against fascism, and against the representatives of the fascist Italian State abroad;


3. the parliamentary struggle: getting parliaments, the workers' representatives in parliament, and international workers' organizations to send commissions to Italy to investigate the situation of the working class;


4. the struggle for the immediate liberation of communist, socialist, and nonparty workers imprisoned or under arrest;


5. the preparation of an international anti-Italian boycott: the refusal to despatch coal to Italy, the refusal of all transport workers to load and forward goods destined for Italy. International committees of miners, merchant seamen, railwaymen, transport workers, etc., to be set up for this purpose;


6. material and moral support for the persecuted Italian workers by the collection of funds, hospitality for refugees, support for their work abroad, etc. The International Red Aid shall be used for this work, and the co-operatives should be drawn into it.


The workers must be made aware that they will share the fate of the Italian workers if they do not engage in energetic revolutionary struggle against the ruling class and prevent the less class-conscious elements from joining the fascists.