Excerpted from Georgi Dimitrov:
"The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class against Fascism"
Main Report delivered at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International
CONTENT AND FORMS OF THE UNITED FRONT
What is and ought to be the basic content of the united front at the present stage? The defense of the immediate economic and political interests of the working class, the defense of the working class against fascism, must form the starting point and main content of the united front in all capitalist countries.
We must not confine ourselves to bare appeals to struggle for the proletarian dictatorship. We must find and advance those slogans and forms of struggle which arise from the vital needs of the masses, from the level of their fighting capacity at the present stage of development.
We must point out to the masses what they must do today to defend themselves against capitalist spoliation and fascist barbarity.
We must strive to establish the widest united front with the aid of joint action by workers' organizations of different trends for the defense of the vital interests of the laboring masses. This means:
- First, joint struggle really to shift the burden of the consequences of the crisis onto the shoulders of the ruling classes, the shoulders of the capitalists and landlords -- in a word, onto the shoulders of the rich.
- Second, joint struggle against all forms of the fascist offensive, in defense of the gains and the rights of the working people, against the abolition of bourgeois-democratic liberties.
- Third, joint struggle against the approaching danger of an imperialist war, a struggle that will make the preparation of such a war more difficult.
We must tirelessly prepare the working class for a rapid change in forms and methods of struggle when there is a change in the situation. As the movement grows and the unity of the working class strengthens, we must go further, and prepare the transition from the defensive to the offensive against capital, steering towards the organization of a mass political strike. It must be an absolute condition of such a strike to draw into it the main trade unions of the countries concerned.
Communists, of course, cannot and must not for a moment abandon their own independent work of Communist education, organization and mobilization of the masses. However, to ensure that the workers find the road of unity of action, it is necessary to strive at the same time both for short-term and for long-term agreements that provide for joint action with Social Democratic Parties, reformist trade unions and other organizations of the working people against the class enemies of the proletariat. The chief stress in all this must be laid on developing mass action, locally, to be carried out by the local organizations through local agreements. While loyally carrying out the conditions of all agreements made with them, we shall mercilessly expose all sabotage of joint action on the part of persons and organizations participating in the united front. To any attempt to wreck the agreements -- and such attempts may possibly be made -- we shall reply by appealing to the masses while continuing untiringly to struggle for restoration of the broken unity of action.
It goes without saying that the practical realization of a united front will take various forms in various countries, depending upon the condition and character of the workers' organizations and their political level, upon the situation in the particular country, upon the changes in progress in the international labor movement, etc.
These forms may include, for instance: coordinated joint action of the workers to be agreed upon from case to case on definite occasions, on individual demands or on the basis of a common platform; coordinated actions in individual enterprises or by whole industries; coordinated actions on a local, regional, national or international scale, coordinated actions for the organization of the economic struggle of the workers, for carrying out mass political actions, for the organization of joint self-defenseagainst fascist attacks, coordinated actions in rendering aid to political prisoners and their families, in the field of struggle against social reaction; joint actions in the defense of the interests of the youth and women, in the field of the cooperative movement, cultural activity, sport, etc.
It would be insufficient to rest content with the conclusion of a pact providing for joint action and the formation of contact committees from the parties and organizations participating in the united front, like those we have in France, for instance. That is only the first step. The pact is an auxiliary means for obtaining joint action, but by itself it does not constitute a united front. A contact commission between the leaders of the Communist and Socialist Parties is necessary to facilitate the carrying out of joint action, but by itself it is far from adequate for a real development of the united front, for drawing the widest masses into the struggle against fascism.
The Communists and all revolutionary workers must strive for the formation of elected (and in the countries of fascist dictatorship -- selected from among the most authoritative participants in the united front movement) nonparty class bodies of the united front, at the factories, among the unemployed, in the working class districts, among the small towns-folk and in the villages. Only such bodies will be able to include also the vast masses of unorganized working people in the united front movement, and will be able to assist in developing mass initiative in the struggle against the capitalist offensive, against fascism and reaction, and on this basis create the necessary broad active rank-and-file of the united front and train hundreds and thousands of non-Party Bolsheviks in the capitalist countries.
Joint action of the organized workers is the beginning, the foundation. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the unorganized masses constitute the vast majority of workers. Thus, in France the number of organized workers -- Communists, Socialists, trade union members of various trends-is altogether about one million, while the total number of workers is eleven million. In Great Britain there are approximately five million members of trade unions and parties of various trends. At the same time the total number of workers is fourteen million. In the United States of America about five million workers are organized, while altogether there are thirty-eight million workers in that country. About the same ratio holds good for a number of other countries. In "normal" times this mass in the main does not participate in political life. But now this gigantic mass is getting into motion more and more, is being brought into political life, comes out onto the political arena.
The creation of nonpartisan class bodies is the best form for carrying out, extending and strengthening a united front among the rank-and-file of the masses. These bodies will likewise be the best bulwark against any attempt of the opponents of the united front to disrupt the growing unity of action of the working class.