At the CPGB-ML’s eighth party congress in 2018, we discussed our approach to anti-fascist work in Britain.
The contribution in this short video is a valuable personal perspective based on the experiences of a former fascist turned comrade, and was part of a debate that led to a motion being passed unanimously that emphasised the need to engage with British workers irrespective of any reactionary ideas they may hold.
Unfortunately, the reality is that there is no strong communist movement Britain. This raises the question as to where popular support for the communist movement is going to come from.
Experience has taught us that individuals who feel alienated from British society are prepared to listen to our ideas. We should try and win over ‘honest workers’ who have been duped by reactionary and fascistic ideas by using the science of Marxism Leninism to explain their circumstances.
The need to engage with reactionary elements within the working class is not a new phenomena. Every socialist nation has had to wage a struggle against reactionary ideas that exist within the proletariat.
As Comrade Chris says in his contribution: “Now is the time for us to convince and recruit.”
The fascist offensive and the tasks of the Communist International in the struggle of the working class against fascism, report delivered at the seventh world congress of the Communist International by Georgi Dimitrov, 2 August 1935
Full text of the speech
Some of you who have had the chance to speak to me in the past will know that I actually come from what a lot of us would describe as a fascist background. In my late teens I was a member of a fascist organisation – and my heart is going as I’m saying this – so I can say that if my first introduction to the left had been one of our younger members punching me in the mouth as I was coming out of McDonalds, there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t be here today.
I like to think of myself as an example that somebody can be won over, no matter how extreme their views are, with reason, with debate.
As you can tell, I’m working class; I come from a working-class background. My family is working class – in fact, most of them are unemployed. At that point I was struggling with a lot of drug addiction, as were a lot of my close friends. Things like alcoholism, homelessness – we were suffering a lot of the same ills that a lot of our class are.
What we didn’t have was any scientific analysis. In place of that analysis, we had a member of the National Front, who pointed my anger at immigration lies. That is a much easier thing to point your anger at than reason.
Now I’m going to stab at a guess, that nobody in this room has actually read Mein Kampf before; it’s ridiculous to even suggest that many people would have done. But there’s a part in it where Hitler mentions the fact that his party don’t ask people to read, and that was almost a point of glory for them; that Marxists were always doing study groups, and who has got time for that?
Whereas we can direct them at a point of anger – at the jews, at the blacks, at the gays. That worked very well for them, and it has been successful over the years because it deepens the blind, raw anger that the working class do feel.
What we need to recognise is that a lot of the times these are legitimate concerns that people have, with no scientific analysis. So a lot of fascists, what we might call fascist footsoldiers, they are workers, and they share the same needs as we do.
Now there is a mantra on the left that ‘Fascism is not to be debated, it is to be smashed’. Now at one point soon, that time will come, but at the moment we are not in an open conflict. Now is the time for us to convince and recruit while we have the time; the fighting will come later.