Communist Tactics and the Far Right

Resolution of the Red Party convention

Immediate and strategic needs to fight the right
  1. Tactics flow from principles. In order for workers and oppressed people to defeat the far right, we require tactical flexibility guided by the principle of working class political independence. This rules out the cross-class “popular front” but includes, depending on the concrete situation, any number of tactics employed in our movement’s history.
  2. The fight against fascism is in the first place a political one. The rise of Donald Trump owes itself to the conditions created by capitalist crisis and the failure of the left to provide a serious alternative to despair. Without a mass party to identify the systemic causes of economic and social insecurity, right-wing demagoguery fills the vacuum in the minds of millions. “Anti-fascism” cannot be divorced from the struggle to build a Communist Party and rebuild the workers’ movement as a whole. It cannot be divorced from the political struggle to win support for socialism.
  3. Forms of direct action, such as counter-demonstrations against far-right figures, are a useful tactic. In the current political climate, direct action tactics and the organizing efforts flowing from them should be seen as the primary, though not exclusive, means of combating the radical right. We fetishize neither pacifism nor violent confrontation. Sometimes, as in Chicago this March, protests are able to shut down or prevent the event from taking place. Where the far-right is suppressed it should be by the actions of the proletariat itself; communists should not call for the capitalist state to ban any form of speech. In arguing for restrictions on “radical” speech, we hand the ruling class a weapon to use against the left.
  4. Rather than rely on spontaneity, direct action should be linked to institution-building where possible. Where the left does not build these institutions, the radical right will – such as Golden Dawn’s “Greek only” food distribution programs. For physical defense we aim for workers’ self-defense guards, organized from the labor movement and oppressed people. In some cases the mere presence of such organizations is enough to stave off physical threat from the far right, as in the 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike where the Union Defense Guard dissuaded the Nazi Silver Shirts from organizing in the city.
  5. “No platform” as a principle weakens the struggle against reactionary ideas. Denying the far right a platform in particular instances can be the correct tactic, but generalized into a principle it reduces our argument to a moralistic appeal of “fascism is bad.” It is tantamount to claiming that the proletariat is not intelligent enough to discern between emancipatory politics and poisonous politics. Far from legitimizing their ideas, arguing with reactionaries can expose the bankruptcy of those ideas to a mass audience. The German Communist Party in the 1920s, for example, not only organized defense groups to engage physically with Nazi cadre but ate away at their support base through public debate. In recent history, the British National Party’s electoral support rapidly collapsed after their leader Nick Griffin was eviscerated during an episode of the popular current affairs TV show Question Time.