Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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The Soviet Union Embraces the Popular Front: Resolution of the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International, August 1935

Until the mid-1930s, Soviet Communists generally fiercely condemned any other leftists or socialists who did not share precisely their own political views. The rise of fascism in Germany and the increasingly bellicose behavior of Benito Mussolini's Italy alarmed Soviet leader Josef Stalin into switching to a popular front policy. In the interests of opposing fascism, Soviet leaders were now prepared to ally themselves with non-Communist leftists of every political complexion, and the Communist International promptly endorsed such "popular front" policies. Popular Front governments briefly held power in both France and Spain. Simultaneously, the Soviet Union attempted to form alliances within the international state system it had once rejected, joining the League of Nations in 1934 and signing a mutual security treaty with France the following year.

In face of the towering menace of fascism to the working class and all the gains it has made, to all toilers and their elementary rights, to the peace and liberty of the peoples, the Seventh Congress of the Communist International declares that at the present historical stage it is the main and immediate task of the international labor movement to establish the united fighting front of the working class. For a successful struggle against fascism, the bitterest enemy of all the toilers, who, without distinction of political views, have been deprived of all rights and liberties, it is imperative that unity of action be established between all sections of the working class, irrespective of what organization they belong to, even before the majority of the working class unites on a common fighting platform for the overthrow of capitalism and the victory of the proletarian revolution. But it is precisely for this very reason that this task makes it the duty of the Communist Parties to take into consideration the changed circumstances and to apply the united front tactics in a new manner, by seeking to reach agreements with the organizations of the toilers of various political trends for joint action on a factory, local, district, national and international scale.

With this as its point of departure, the Seventh Congress of the Communist International enjoins the Communist Parties to be guided by the following instructions when carrying out the united front tactics.

1. The defense of the immediate economic and political interests of the working class, the defense of the latter against fascism, must be the starting point and form the main content of the workers' united front in all capitalist countries. In order to set the broad masses in motion, such slogans and forms of struggle must be put forward as arise from the vital needs of the masses and from the level of their fighting capacity at the given stage of development. Communists must not limit themselves to merely issuing appeals to struggle for proletarian dictatorship, but must show the masses what they are to do today to defend themselves against capitalist plunder and fascist barbarity. They must strive, through the joint action of the labor organizations, to mobilize the masses around a program of demands that are calculated to really shift the burden of the consequences of the crisis on to the shoulders of the ruling class; demands, the fight to realize which, disorganizes fascism, hampers the preparations for imperialist war, weakens the bourgeoisie and strengthens the positions of the proletariat. . . .

2. Without for a moment giving up their independent work in the sphere of Communist education, organization and mobilization of masses, the Communists, in order to render the road to unity of action easier for the workers, must strive to secure joint action with the Social-Democratic Parties, reforming trade unions and other organizations of the toilers against the class enemies of the proletariat, on the basis of short or long-term agreements. . . .

5. Joint action with the Social-Democratic Parties and organizations not only does not preclude, but on the contrary, renders still more necessary the serious and well-founded criticism of reformism, of Social-Democracy as the ideology and practice of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, and the patient exposition of the principles and program of Communists to the Social-Democratic workers. . . .

6. Election campaigns must be utilized for the further development and strengthening of the united fighting front of the proletariat. While coming forward independently in the elections and unfolding the program of the Communist Party before the masses, the Communists must seek to establish a united front with the Social-Democratic Parties and the trade unions (also with the organizations of the toiling peasants, handicraftsmen, etc.), and exert every effort to prevent the election of reactionary and fascist candidates. In face of fascist danger, the Communists may, while reserving for themselves freedom of political agitation and criticism, participate in election campaigns on a common platform and with a common ticket of the anti-fascist front, depending on the growth and success of the united front movement, also depending on the electoral system in operation. . . .

Emphasizing the special importance of forming a united front in the sphere of the economic struggle of the workers and the establishment of the unity of the trade union movement as a most important step in consolidating the united front of the proletariat, the Congress makes it a duty of the Communists to adopt all practical measures for the realization of the unity of the trade unions by industries and on a national scale.


Further Reading
Robert V. Daniels, A Documentary History of Communism and the World: From Revolution to Collapse, 3rd ed. (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1994), 74–75. Reprinted with permission of University Press of New England. .
 

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