The writings of Palmiro Togliatti on Fascism have been widely diffused in India, his book ‘Lectures on Fascism’ based on his talks in the Italian section of the Marxist-Leninist School in Moscow in January-April 1935 is well-known in the movement1. The book has been also translated into Hindi. Here we publish an extract of the book by the political secretary of Togliatti and his wife, Maurizio and Marcella Ferrara, entitled ‘Conversations with Togliatti’ which was originally published in January, 1953 in Italy2. The Russian translation of this book was published in the Soviet Union the following year and it is from this that the following chapter has been translated into English. Togliatti had actively participated in the 13th Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International in December 1933 so his views which are reflected in these pages are of considerable interest.3 In the post-Stalin period Togliatti was to become a pioneer of modern revisionism and the Ferraras were to follow in train. Two observations on this chapter are in order.
First, the Ferraras state, on the basis of the information given by Togliatti, that the definition of Fascism which ended years of discussion on this question in the communist movement and which was adopted at the 13th Plenum of ECCI was the decision of Stalin.
Fascism had been defined in the following manner based on the report of Kuusinen:
‘Fascism is the open, terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital. Fascism tries to secure a mass basis for monopolist capital among the petty bourgeoisie, appealing to the peasantry, artisans, office employees, and civil servants who have been thrown out of their normal course of life, and particularly to the declassed elements in the big cities, also trying to penetrate into the working class.’4
The information of the Ferraras, based on their discussions with Togliatti and published in the lifetime of the Soviet leader, that Stalin had authored this definition, is of great significance.
Second. These pages summarise the circumstances which led to the transition from the Sixth to the Seventh Congress of the Comintern which in the fight against fascism led to a new approach to the tactic of united front and popular front. As is known the Trotskyists, the enemies of communism, have long opposed the policies of the CPSU (b) and Comintern on these questions. The Trotskyist theses, moreover, have been tacitly adopted by a number of critics of Stalin and the Comintern. Of particular importance have been the views of Bill Bland and Francisco Martins Rodrigues. The former in his more-or-less fictional accounts of communist history argued that Stalin had lost power in the 1920s and that ‘agents of Nazism’ such as Georgi Dimitrov had taken over the CPSU (b) and the Comintern, introducing the policy of the Popular Front at its Seventh Congress5. These analyses have been diffused over decades by Hari Kumar of Alliance in North America and Wolfgang Eggers of Germany. In the volume ‘Anti-Dimitrov 1935/1985 – meio seculo de derrotas da revolugao,’6 Francisco Martins Rodrigues argues that the ‘defeats’ of the revolution since the Seventh Congress of the Communist International have their source in the ‘leftism’ and ‘opportunism’ under the cover of the Communist International, particularly the ‘centrism’ of not only Dimitrov but also of Stalin, Bukharin, Gramsci and Mao.
At present there is a rise of right reaction, fascisation and fascism across the globe. In these circumstances the views on United Front and Popular Front adopted by the Seventh Congress of the Communist International under the leadership of Dimitrov and Stalin have again come to the fore. A number of the parties of the ICMLPO have correctly sought to apply the tactic of Popular Front in their countries. The reasons for the coming into being of the theses adopted at the Seventh Congress suggested by the Ferraras, based on the views of Palmiro Togliatti, thus have a contemporary value.7