The Fatherland Front and People’s Democracy

by Georgi Dimitrov

Extracts from Report to the Fifth Congress of the Bulgarian Communist Party on December 19, 1948

On September 9, 1944, political power in our country was wrested from the hands of the capitalist bourgeois and the monarcho-fascist minority of exploiters and passed into the hands of the vast majority, the working .people from towns and villages, under the .guidance of the working class and its vanguard – the Communist Party. Having triumphed with the decisive aid of the heroic Red Army, the September 9 uprising cleared the road for building Socialism in our country.

The combination of the September 9, 1944, people’s anti-fascist uprising and the victorious advance of the Soviet Army in the Balkans ensured the triumph of the uprising and gave it great impetus. The hatred against fascism accumulated in the course of two decades, and the determination of the working people to do away with it, burst forth irrepressibly and swept away the fascist regime at one blow. The anti-popular bourgeois-fascist police apparatus was smashed to pieces and a people’s militia was formed to crush the opposition of the fascist elements and to defend the people’s uprising. Power was wrested from the capitalist class, united around the monarchy and closely allied with German imperialism. It passed into the hands of the militant alliance of workers, peasants, artisans and intellectuals united in the Fatherland Front, under the leadership of our Party. The state power radically changed in character: the instrument for the oppression and exploitation of the masses in the interests of the capitalists was dismantled and a people’s government was created, as an instrument for the annihilation of capitalism and for the gradual liberation of the working people from exploitation of all kinds.

True, the old bourgeois state machine was not completely smashed on September 9. The Communists were still a minority in the newly formed Cabinet. Many key posts were still in the hands of individuals, some of whom later proved unstable and even hostile to the people’s regime. It was the Party, however, which animated the anti-fascist movement: the Party was, as it were, its sparking plug. In many localities power was actually in the hands of the Fatherland Front Committees. Our Party held the Ministry of the Interior as well as the newly created Institute for Assistant Commanders in the Army. This was in the interest of the people, because only our Party could organise the suppression of the defeated monarcho-fascist clique, ensure internal order and the successful participation of the reorganised army in the war against Hitler Germany. The Party’s great power and influence among the people, as well as its position in the Fatherland Front Committees, enabled it to assume in practice a leading role in the Government and to wage a successful fight against the fascist reactionaries and their stooges within the ranks of the Fatherland Front.

New people, springing up from the midst of the working class, came to the fore. Vast masses of people, long oppressed under the jack-boot of fascist dictatorship, awoke to active political life and, under the leadership of the Party, played their part in various administrative bodies. A new type of people’s democratic government was created and perfected.

Although its immediate tasks were of a democratic character, the September 9 uprising could not but shake the capitalist system in our country to its very foundation, thus transcending the limits of bourgeois democracy.

This, then, was the salient feature of the September 9 uprising.

You cannot eliminate fascism, grant democratic rights to the working masses, consolidate and develop these rights without challenging the very rule of capitalism, for fascism is nothing but the ruthless, terrorist dictatorship of big business. The eradication of fascism cannot be completed without challenging big business. Democratic rights cannot be granted to the working people if big business preserves its political and economic power. The September 9 uprising, therefore, undertaking the solution of problems of a democratic character together with the great national problem of our people’s participation in the war for the final destruction of Hitlerism, could not but turn subsequently against the domination of big business, deal it further serious blows and prepare the ground for its abolition, for the abolition of the entire capitalist system and the transition to Socialism.

Laying the Foundations of Socialism in Bulgaria

The victory of the people under the guidance of our Party over the attempt of capitalist reaction to set back the clock of history created the conditions for speeding up the :political and economic development of our country, for proceeding to bring about basic transformations and carry out constructive tasks of our people’s regime.

Under the conditions created by the elections to the Grand National Assembly and the formation of a government under the direct leadership of our Party, there could be no further development of the productive forces, of the national economy and of the well-being of the working people without a radical encroachment on the economic basis of the capitalist class. Bulgaria’s experience confirmed the thesis of Lenin and Stalin that under decaying capitalism, when the inherent insoluble crisis of bourgeois democracy gives birth to fascism, no serious and lasting democratic changes are possible, no progress is feasible without attacking the very foundations of capitalism, without taking steps in the direction of Socialism. In this our country’s task was greatly eased by the fraternal aid received from a strong Socialist State – the U.S.S.R.

The way was open for the full unfolding of the constructive tasks of the People’s Government, for revolutionary changes in our national economy, for the elimination of the economic basis of capitalist reaction, for the transition from capitalism to Socialism, which, of course, cannot be realised without waging an uncompromising class struggle against the capitalist elements.

In this situation the Party had to formulate new tasks in order to arm its own cadres, the Fatherland Front and the working people with a clear perspective. There was, however, a certain lag. After the chief tasks of the preceding period were in the main solved, the Party by and large continued to be guided by its old slogans. We permitted a certain delay in the destruction of the reactionary opposition. We continued to speak of the possibility of coordinating the interests of private industrialists and merchants with the general interests of the State at a time when the whole situation made it possible to take radical measures for the elimination of the rule of big business in the national economy, and when factors had emerged which enabled us to advance resolutely towards laying the foundations of Socialism in our country.

We have never lost track of the general perspective of our development towards Socialism. We have always c1eady realised that the destruction of fascism and the rea1isation of the many reforms which figured in the Fatherland Front programme of July 17, 1942, was intimately tied up with our ultimate goal – Socialism and Communism. We have said again and again that, from the viewpoint of our Party as the vanguard of the working class, the complete realisation of the Fatherland Front programme meant the creation of the necessary conditions for our people to advance to Socialism. We always stressed that there was no contradiction between our Fatherland Front policy and the struggle to unite all democratic and progressive forces in the Fatherland Front for the realisation of its programme, on the one hand, and the struggle for Socialism, on the other. But at that time the transition to Socialism still seemed to us a question for the comparatively distant future and the international and domestic situation seemed to us not yet suitable for the application of such radical measures.

Meanwhile, the Fatherland Front programme, as proclaimed in 1942 and specified after September 9 in the declaration of the first Fatherland Front government, had by the end of 1946 already been in the main fulfilled. What is more, with the proclamation of the People’s Republic and the elaboration of the Two-Year Plan, we had already gone beyond the first Fatherland Front programme. The development of the revolutionary process started on September 9 made it indispensable to take decisive measures for the liquidation of large capitalist private property, for starting a consistent policy of muzzling the kulak elements in the village, for radically overhauling the entire state apparatus and for working out a new Fatherland Front programme with clearly formulated perspectives of the movement towards Socialism, for a corresponding reconstruction of the Fatherland Front, for a further consolidation of the dominant role of the Party.

The lag in the rate of the economic and political development of our country shows that our Party temporarily underestimated its own forces and those of the working class and working people, and overestimated the forces of reaction. As the Sixteenth Plenum of the Central Committee stated, our Party “lacked the necessary clarity regarding the perspectives and the pace of our movement towards Socialism”. It was not armed with a consistent Marxist-Leninist analysis of the September 9 turning-point and of the ensuing possibilities and failed to understand at the proper time the different stages of our development. Fortunately, however, the Party, although with a certain lag and with an insufficient theoretical examination of the problems, did manage to take action and ensure the .solution of the new tasks arising from the changed conditions. This example confirms once again the old truth that it is easier to learn by heart the principles of Marxism-Leninism than to apply them in practice as a guide to action, correctly and in time, at every stage of social development. For the mastery of this art, the Party leaders, at the top and at the bottom, must work tirelessly and study diligently so that the party shall neither fall behind and be late in taking necessary action nor rush ahead too far.

We shall never forget the invaluable and timely aid which we received from the great Bolshevik Party and in particular from Stalin personally, through advice and explanation on matters of our Party’s policy as a leading force of the People’s Democracy, which enabled us quickly to correct our mistakes.

During the past year and half, under the leadership of our Party, a series of momentous and fundamental measures were carried out which completely consolidated the People’s Democracy and prepared the ground for laying the economic foundations of Socialism in Bulgaria.

The new Republican Constitution was adopted, which legally consolidated the historic gains of the September 9 uprising and of the people’s democratic form of government and opened up prospects for the country’s further development.

On the initiative and under the leadership of our Party, industry, private banks, foreign trade, domestic wholesale trade, large urban property and forests were socialised, while farm machinery and implements were bought up from the farmers. The bulk of the means of production and exchange have thus passed into public ownership.

The nationalisation of industry was the most important revolutionary measure in our economy. It consolidated our planned development on the road toward Socialism. In industry, credit and transport, the public sector has come to occupy an almost monopolistic position. The same is true in foreign trade and wholesale domestic trade. In our retail domestic trade the public sector already outweighs the private sector. In agriculture and handicraft industry the public sector has grown firm roots which are becoming ever stronger through the creation of more than 70 machine and tractor stations, of over 1,000 co-operative farms with some 300,000 hectares of arable land, of state farms with almost 100,000 hectares of land, of new artisans’ co-operatives and through the rapid rise of the co-operative movement in towns and villages.

Hand in hand with these radical changes and in conformity with our people’s constitution, our entire state apparatus was thoroughly .overhauled, and, in spite of some defects, it continues to improve as an apparatus of People’s Democracy.

Our party took the initiative in reorganising the Fatherland Front under its own guidance into a unified political organisation with its own rules and a revised programme formulating the new tasks of transforming the country with a view to its forward march toward Socialism. Thus, as a result of the Party’s steadfast work, the coalition elements in the Fatherland Front were completely done away with. It has now become an organisation .of the militant alliance of the working people .of town and countryside under the generally accepted leadership of the working class, headed by our Party. All parties and public organisations composing the Fatherland Front recognise today the necessity of building Socialism.

The Second Congress of the Fatherland Front marked a. very important stage in its development. The hostile, vacillating and unstable elements which had infiltrated into the Fatherland Front with the aim of disintegrating it and undermining it from within dropped out or were expelled. The Fatherland Front only gained from that. In their place, after the Second Congress, new forces came in from the ranks .of the working people and their mass organisations. The Fatherland Front as a mass political organisation .of the militant alliance of the working people of town and countryside, under the leadership of the proletarian class, is now stronger and more united than ever. Favourable conditions exist for closer collaboration between the Fatherland Front parties. Applying different methods of persuasion, agitation and propaganda, depending on the peculiarities of those sections wherein each is mainly working, the Fatherland Front parties are contributing to rallying as many people as possible for the common goal – the construction of the foundations of Socialism by way of the People’s Democracy.

Today the Fatherland Front embodies the ever-increasing moral and political unity of the working people of our country – a basic condition for bringing to a successful end the fight against the capitalist elements and the building of the foundations of Socialism. The transformation of the Fatherland Front into a unified political organisation with a common programme, socialist in essence, with strict discipline and the recognised leading role of the Communist Party, is undoubtedly a great achievement. It is for this reason that we condemn every underestimation of its significance and role. It was and continues to be a vital necessity for our country. We cannot but call to account those Communists whose scornful attitude toward the Fatherland Front brings grist to the mill of our class enemies, who are .principally interested in discrediting it.

It goes without saying that within the framework of the Fatherland Front some of the component parties may prefer to merge or to discontinue their independent organisational existence, whenever they consider this timely and useful. But that is their own affair.

These profound transformations and the changed correlation of the class and political forces in our country, together with the active support of the Soviet Union, paved the way for the building of the foundations of Socialism in our country as an urgent, vital and practical task. This is now the general policy of our Party. At the head of the working class, closely allied to all the working people of town and countryside, it will carry out this correct general policy firmly and unflinchingly, with unshakable confidence in victory, notwithstanding all internal and especially external difficulties and obstacles.

The Essence of a People’s Democracy

The character of a People’s Democracy is determined by four major factors:

(1) The People’s Democracy represents the power of the working people – of the overwhelming majority of the people, under the leadership of the working class.

That means, firstly, that the rule of the capitalists and landlords is overthrown and the rule of the working people from the towns and villages, under the leadership of the working class, established, that the working class as the most progressive class in contemporary society is playing the principal role in State an4 public life. Secondly, that the State serves as an instrument in .the fight of the working people against the exploiters, against all efforts .and tendencies aimed at re-establishing the capitalist order and bourgeois rule.

(2) The People’s Democracy is a State in the transitional period, destined to ensure the development of the State on the path to Socialism.

That means that although the rule of the capitalists and landlords is overthrown and their property handed over to the people, the economic roots of capitalism are not yet extirpated; capitalist vestiges still persist and develop, trying to restore their rule. Therefore, the onward march towards Socialism is possible only by waging a relentless class struggle against the capitalist elements and for their liquidation.

Only by advancing directly on the road to the achievement of Socialism can the People’s Democracy stabilise itself and fulfil its historic mission. Should it cease to fight against the exploiting classes and to eliminate them, the latter would inevitably gain the upper hand and would bring about its downfall.

(3) The People’s Democracy is built in collaboration and friendship with the Soviet Union.

Just as the liberation of our country from the fetters of imperialism and the establishment of People’s Democracy were made possible by the aid and liberating role of the U.S.S.R. in the fight against fascist Germany and its satellites, so the further development of our People’s Democracy presupposes the safeguarding and further promotion of close relations and sincere collaboration, mutual aid and. friendship between our State and the Soviet State. Any tendency toward weakening this collaboration with the U.S.S.R. is directed against the very existence of the People’s Democracy in our country.

(4) The People’s Democracy belongs to the democratic anti-imperialist camp.

(a) Only by joining in the united democratic anti-imperialist camp, headed by the mighty Soviet State can every People’s Democracy ensure its independence, sovereignty and safety against the aggression of the imperialist forces.

(b) Under the conditions of the military collapse of the fascist aggressor States, of the abrupt sharpening of the general capitalist crisis, of the immense strengthening of the power of the Soviet Union and of the existing close collaboration with the U.S.S.R. and the New Democracies, our country and the other New Democracies were enabled to realise the transition from capitalism to Socialism without the establishment of a. Soviet order through the regime of People’s Democracy, on the condition that that regime was consolidated and developed, and by leaning on the U.S.S.R. and the other New Democracies.

(c) Embodying the rule of the working people under the leadership of the working class, the People’s Democracy, in the existing historical situation, as is already proved by experience, can and must successfully perform the functions of the dictatorship of the proletariat for the liquidation of the capitalist elements and the organisation of a socialist economy. It can crush the resistance of the overthrown capitalists and landowners, crush their attempts to restore the rule of capital, and organise the .building of industry on the basis of public ownership and planned economy. The regime of the People’s Democracy will succeed in overcoming the vacillations of the urban petty-bourgeoisie and middle-class peasantry, in neutralising the capitalist elements in the villages and in rallying all the working people around the working class for the onward march toward Socialism.

The regime of the People’s Democracy will not change its character during the carrying out of this policy, which aims at eliminating the capitalist elements from .the national economy. The key positions of the working class in all spheres of public life must continuously be strengthened and all village elements rallied who .might become allies of the workers during the period of sharp struggles against the kulaks and their hangers-on. The People’s Democratic regime must be strengthened and improved in order to render powerless and liquidate the class enemies.

(d) The New Democracies, including Bulgaria, are already marching towards Socialism, in ceaseless struggle against all domestic, and especially foreign, enemies. They are now creating the conditions necessary for the building of Socialism, the economic and cultural basis for a future socialist society.

This is the central task today facing the New Democracies and, consequently, the working class and its vanguard, the Communist Party.

This task embraces the following important aspects:

(a) Consolidation of the key positions held by the working class, headed by the Communist Party, in all spheres of political, economic and cultural life.

(b) Strengthening the alliance between the working class and the working peasants under the leadership of the working class.

(c) Speeding up the development of the public sector of national economy and, in particular, of heavy industry.

(d) Creating the conditions for liquidating the capitalist elements in village economy by a consistent policy aiming at their isolation and subsequent annihilation.

(e) All-round development of producers’ co-operatives among the peasants, giving state assistance to the poor and middle peasants through machine and tractor stations, agricultural machines, credit, seed loans, etc., intensifying their interest in the alliance with the working class, persuading them by the example of the co-operative farms of the advantages of that system, and re-educating them in a spirit of intolerance toward capitalist elements.

So far as the nationalisation of the land is concerned, we consider that in our situation and with the development of the co-operative farms, this question has no practical importance, i.e. we think that the nationalisation of the land is not a necessary condition for the development and mechanisation of our rural economy.

(f) The People’s Democracy stands for internationalism. Nationalism is incompatible with the People’s Democracy. Our Party sees in internationalism, i.e. international collaboration under Comrade Stalin, a guarantee of our country’s independent existence, prosperity and progress towards Socialism. We think that nationalism, under no matter what guise, is an enemy of Communism. This was clearly demonstrated by the anti-Communist actions of Tito’s group in Yugoslavia. Hence the fight against nationalism is a primary duty of Communists.

Fighting all manifestations of nationalism, we must re-educate the working people in the spirit of proletarian internationalism and devotion to their country, i.e. in a spirit of genuine patriotism.

Education in the spirit of proletarian internationalism and devotion to one’s country means, above all, to make people fully conscious of the unique importance of a firm united front of the new democracies and the U.S.S.R. in the struggle against the aggressive forces of international reaction and imperialism. The entire future of our people depends, on the one hand, on the power of the Soviet Union, and, on the other, on their readiness and ability, in case of capitalist aggression, honourably to fulfil their duty in the common fight.

At the same time, education in the spirit of proletarian internationalism means to render people fully aware of the importance of complete co-ordination of the activities of the Communist Parties, and of the leading role of the Bolshevik Party. For there exists for the Communist Parties one and only one theory as a guide to action – the theory of Marxism-Leninism; one and only one aim in their policy; and there exists the great party of Lenin and Stalin, as the leading party of the international labour movement.

It is essential that we educate in this spirit the Party, the working class, the working peasantry and intelligentsia.

From concluding speech at the Fifth Congress

The second remark refers to the definition of the People’s Democracy given in my report. Some comrades who in their discussions touched on this problem were inclined to put the emphasis mainly on that which distinguishes the People’s Democracy from the Soviet regime, something which may lead to incorrect and harmful deductions.

According to the Marxist-Leninist principles, the Soviet regime and the People’s Democracy are two forms of one and the same rule – the rule of the working class in alliance with and at the head of the toilers from towns and villages. They are two forms of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The particular form of transition from capitalism to Socialism in Bulgaria does not and cannot alter the basic laws on the transition period from capitalism to Socialism which are valid for all countries. The transition to Socialism cannot be carried out without the dictatorship of the proletariat against the capitalist elements and for the organisation of socialist economy.

But whereas bourgeois democracy is the dictatorship of capital, of an exploiting big-business minority over the great majority of working people, People’s Democracy fulfils the functions of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the interests of the overwhelming majority of working people and realises the widest and most complete democracy – socialist democracy.

From the fact that People’s Democracy and the Soviet regime coincide in the most important and decisive respect, that is, that they both represent the rule of the working class in alliance with and at the head of the working people, there follow some highly essential deductions on the necessity of making the most thorough study and widest application of the great experiment of socialist construction in the U.S.S.R. And this experiment, adapted to our conditions, is the only and best model for the construction of Socialism in Bulgaria, as well as in the other People’s Democracies.

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