Leon Trotsky on fascism

Submitted by AWL on 11 December, 2019 - 7:00 Author: Leon Trotsky
Battle of Cable Street

“The magnates of finance capital are unable by their force alone to cope with the proletariat. They need
the support of the petty bourgeoisie. ‘For this purpose it must be whipped up, put on its feet, mobilised,
armed. But this method has its dangers. While it makes use of fascism, the bourgeoisie nevertheless
fears it.

“Under the conditions of capitalist disintegration and of the impasse in the economic situation, the petty
bourgeoisie strives, seeks, attempts to tear itself loose from the fetters of the old masters and rulers of
society. It is quite capable of linking up its fate with that of the proletariat.

“For that, only one thing is needed: the petty bourgeoisie must acquire faith in the ability of the proletariat
to lead society onto a new road. The proletariat can inspire this faith only by its strength, by the firmness
of its actions, by a skillful offensive against the enemy, by the success of its revolutionary policy. “But, woe if the revolutionary party does not measure up to the height of the situation!

“If the revolutionary party, in spite of a class struggle becoming incessantly more accentuated, proves time and again to be incapable of uniting the working class about it, if it vacillates, becomes confused,
contradicts itself, then the petty bourgeoisie loses patience and begins to look upon the revolutionary
workers as those responsible for its own misery. “All the bourgeois parties, including the Social Democracy, turn its thoughts in this very direction.

When the social crisis takes on an intolerable acuteness, a particular party appears on the scene with the direct
aim of agitating the petty bourgeoisie to a white heat and of directing its hatred and its despair against the
proletariat.”

The Only Road for Germany, September 1932

FOR THE WORKERS’S UNITED FRONT!

“No matter how true it is that the Social Democracy by its whole policy prepared the blossoming of
fascism, it is no less true that fascism comes forward as a deadly threat primarily to that same Social
Democracy, all of whose magnificence is inextricably bound with parliamentary-democratic-pacifist forms
and methods of government…

“The policy of a united front of the workers against fascism flows from this situation. It opens up
tremendous possibilities to the Communist Party. “The social crisis will inevitably produce deep cleavages within Social Democracy. The radicalisation of the masses will affect the Social Democrats. We will inevitably have to make agreements with the various Social-Democratic organisations and factions against fascism, putting definite conditions in this
connection to the leaders, before the eyes of the masses… We must return from empty official phrase
about the united front to the policy of the united front as it was formulated by Lenin and always applied by
the Bolsheviks in 1917.”

The Turn in the Communist International and the German Situation, 1930

NO TO STATE BANS!

“The struggle against fascism, the defence of the positions the working class has won within the
framework of degenerating democracy, can become a powerful reality since it gives the working class the
opportunity to prepare itself for the sharpest struggles and partially to arm itself… to mobilise the
proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie on the side of the revolution, the create a workers’ militia, etc.
Anyone who does not take advantage of this situation, who calls on the ‘state’, i.e., the class enemy, to
‘act’, in effect sells the proletariat’s hide to the Bonapatist reaction.

“Therefore, we must vote against all measures that strengthen the capitalist-Bonapartist state, even those
measures which may for the moment cause temporary unpleasantness for the fascists.

“We have to take strong measures against the abstract ‘anti-fascist’ mode of thinking that finds entry even
into our own ranks at times. ‘Anti-fascism’ is nothing, an empty concept used to cover up Stalinist
skulduggery.”

Bourgeois Democracy and the Fight Against Fascism, Writings 1935-6

("Bonapartist" here means dictatorial, authoritarian)

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