Thursday, 12 May 2011
“Look, my play is also approaching its end. That’s something I haven’t yet written. That’s something I don’t yet know. It’s no longer a play. It’s Life. And in life there are no spectators. The curtain goes up. People, I have loved you. Be on your Guard!”- Julius Fučík
Today a wave of anti-communism is being unleashed across Europe. While communists are generally attacked, ridiculed, or simply ignored by the big business controlled mass media, in Eastern Europe communist parties are being banned, leading members arrested, and in some sickening cases governments are celebrating the traitors who joined the SS while partisans, who fought for their countries, are being put on trial for alleged war crimes.
In the Czech Republic, the communist party, which has mass popular support, faces following the same fate as its youth section in being outlawed. The intensification of anti-communism in Europe is sinisterly taking place at the same time when communist parties, particularly in Greece, Portugal, France and Spain, are leading resistance to brutal anti-people austerity measures being implemented by the EU and IMF.
Last year we celebrated the 65th anniversary of the victorious struggle against fascism that our grandfathers fought. The Nazis, openly supported by sections of the capitalist class, arrested those who would stand up to prevent their plans for genocide, the trade unionists and socialists. But the Nazis were most vicious in their elimination of their greatest foes-communists.
One of the greatest heroes who stood up for freedom was the Czech communist Julius Fučík. Julius was born into a working class family in Prague at the turn of the twentieth century. He grew a keen interest in politics and literature, something that got him into trouble as he was arrested many times by the Czechoslovakian Secret Police in the 1930s. Julius traveled to Nazi Germany and the USSR and wrote extensively about the dangers of fascism and the huge advances in human progress being made in the Soviet Union.
The Czech government banned in the Communist Party in 1938, but this didn’t stop Julius joining the army in an attempt to protect his nation. The cowardly governments of the capitalist countries of Europe were keen to appease Hitler and communists increasingly found themselves being banned and having to operate underground.
After the Nazis had taken control of Czechoslovakia Julius continued carrying out communist party work and in 1942 he was arrested in a raid. He was imprisoned, interrogated, tortured and eventually taken to Berlin where he was executed in 1943.
Report from the Gallows (or Notes from the Gallows) was written about this experience. He managed to write the entire book on cigarette paper that was smuggled out of prison by sympathetic guards. These were collected together after the war by his wife Gusta Fučíková-who had also been arrested but liberated from a concentration camp in 1945. Gusta retrieved the cigarette papers from the various places in which they had been hidden and published Report from the Gallows in 1947.
The book is often very difficult to read in its graphic description of the horrors of Nazi prisons. If you read this book alone at night you find yourself there with Julius alone in his cell. You can hear the echoing screams of the other prisoners. Yet the book is even harder to put down as Julius’s continuing ability to consider a brighter future for humanity stands in direct contrast to his brutally depressing environment. Julius stands tall and defiant in face of all the evils of fascism. You can see Julius sat in his cell audaciously scribbling notes on cigarette papers. In short the book is inspirational in its depiction of the tenacity of humanity to shine through and overcome tyranny.
If Julius’s book was simply a piecemeal account of courageousness written secretly in a Nazi prison it would be a compelling read yet it's legendary status was attained by Julius's talent. Report from the Gallows is a work of art forged by a genius word smith, thoroughly planned and written down on meticulously numbered cigarette papers-rescued from oblivion only as a result of all those who gave their lives to liberate occupied Europe.
Julius’s account has been hailed by some of the world’s best writers. Pablo Neruda, Chilean communist and winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature, stated that “We live at a time which in literature will be known tomorrow as the ‘Fučík period’, a period of simple courage.” The foreword of the English language edition of Report from the Gallows is written by winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for Literature James Aldridge who challenges all who pick up the book:
“Read this book, you Communists, you Socialists, you Tories. Then go out and walk the wonderful real pavements and ask yourself what philosophy of life it was that kept this man’s belief in himself and in other men.”
Thursday, 28 April 2011
In one weeks time there will be several important elections. There are English local elections, elections to the Welsh and Scottish assemblies and the referendum on AV.
A strong communist vote would deliver a message to this Tory government that working people are not prepared to let the idle rich grow even fatter at the expense of everyone else. As outlined by communist candidate in Glasgow Anniesland here:
As we have seen in Greece, Portugal, Spain and France powerful communist parties can make a huge impact. In Britain we lack such a consistent fighter for socialism. While the communist party is growing, it needs your support on May the 5th.
Here is a list of communist candidates, it is incomplete and it would be helpful if anyone could provide any more known candidates.
English Local Elections;
Mohinder Farma - Unity for Peace and Socialism-Mayor of Leicester
Avtar Singh, Unity for Peace and Socialism- Coleman ward, Leicester
Ashvin Vyas, Unity for Peace and Socialism. Coleman ward, Leicester
John Metcalfe, Communist party Morton ward, Carlisle
Martin Levy, Communist Party, Newcastle Walker
Gerrard Sables, Communist Party, Barnstaple Central/North Devon District Council
Scottish Assembly elections;
Marc Livingstone, Communist Party, Glasgow Anniesland
Welsh Assembly elections;
NORTH WALES Regional List;
Glyn Davies, Communist Party
Trevor Jones, Communist Party
Rhian Cartwright, Communist Party
Graham Morgan, Communist Party
MID & WEST WALES Regional List;
Catrin Ashton, Communist Party
Rick Newnham, Communist Party
Barbara Thomas, Communist Party
Clive Eliassen, Communist Party
SOUTH WALES CENTRAL Regional List;
Robert Griffiths, Communist Party
Gwen Griffiths, Communist Party
Fran Rawlings, Communist Party
Clive Griffiths, Communist Party
SOUTH WALES EAST Regional List;
Tommy Roberts, Communist Party
Roy Evans, Communist Party
Julian Jones, Communist Party
Angharad Khan-Raja, Communist Party
SOUTH WEST WALES Regional List;
John Morrissey, Communist Party
Laura Picand, Communist Party
David Brown, Communist Party
Dan Cole, Communist Party
Friday, 15 April 2011
Watch the Communist Party's election broadcast here
Communists in Wales are to stand 20 candidates in the forthcoming elections to the Wales Assembly on 5 May. This bold initiative, will also gain the Communist Party space on television from which it is so often excluded. But elections cost money and that is where you can make a difference.
The Welsh Communist Party is for the second time contesting seats across the whole of Wales (the first time was in 2007) on 5 May 2011, standing 20 candidates in the five regions. In so doing, the Communist Party will qualify for TV and radio election broadcasts; an excellent opportunity to argue the case for a socialist response to this capitalist crisis to tens of thousands of people in Wales.
The Communist Party is also planning to hold meetings across the length and breadth of Wales and produce and distribute thousands of leaflets, stickers and posters. All of these political commitments will cost money, money the Party doesn’t yet have, e.g. £2500.00 (Broadcast production); £2500.00 (Candidate deposits); £500.00 (20,000 leaflets). The Communist Party is therefore calling on all its members and friends to make a contribution, large or small, to ensure that we can carry out our political work and ensure that we continue to develop as the main party of the Left in Wales.
The target is to raise £3000.00 plus from members and supporters which, along with £2500.00 from Party reserves, will fund this election contest.
If you wish to contribute to the Welsh Communist Party’s election appeal and enclose a cheque (made payable to ‘WCCPB’) for:
£100.00 / £50.00 / £20.00 / £10.00 Other £……..… (delete as applicable)
Please send your contribution to the address below:
Y Blaid Gomiwnyddol Communist Party, Blwch Post/PO Box 69, Pontypridd CF37 9AB
MAKE YOUR 2ND VOTE COMMUNIST
The Welsh Communist Party is again contesting every region in the National Assembly of Wales elections, as it did in 2007, to ensure that the usual fare of “cabbages and kings” dished up by the main parties will not go unchallenged.
20 communist candidates contesting the five regional lists are calling for people across Wales to cast their 2nd vote Welsh communist. You can read their manifesto here
Friday, 1 April 2011
Between 500,000 and 750,000 trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners, communists and socialists joined the huge TUC-organised march for the alternative on Saturday 26th March in central London. Those marching expressed their anger at the brutal assault on the living standards of working class families. The Tory led government are handing out tax cuts to big business monopolies, while working families are suffering lower pay, job cuts and loss of local services. While the capitalist class are increasing their wealth to record levels, the level of personal debt has soared pushing up the number of homes that are being repossessed. Pensions have been extended and reduced meaning older workers will have to work longer for less and younger workers will be denied a job. Access to education is being restricted to those who afford it, with tuition fees for university trebled and EMA cut, education seems to be returning to be a privilege of the upper classes. Once again Gas and electric companies recently published record profits that run parallel to their price rises well above the rate of inflation.
Once more ordinary working families are expected to foot the bill. We are expected to subsidise the luxurious lifestyles of the idle rich and be lucky to live our lives worried about the next bill, the next job...like the ‘ragged trousered philanthropists’ of Robert Tressell.
This is not acceptable and hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated this on Saturday. People came from all over the country, many came in wheel chairs or pushing prams. Fire fighters marched in uniform, 35,000 people held on to copies of the Morning Star, the background echoed with the sound of whistles, chanting, singing as well as bagpipe, steel drum and traditional brass bands. The biggest number of union flags and banners seen on one demo for 20 gave those marching the sense that the labour movement is still here, is growing in strength and will not take this cuts sitting down.
Members of the Young Communist League joined the biggest communist contingent seen in Britain for 30 years complete with local branch banners, flags and a bhangra band. This reflects the communist party’s growing support and confident. YCLers came from around the country to attend the demonstration, a group of YCLers from Glasgow branch travelled on a coach through the night to be there on the day.
There is no alternative nice version of capitalism. This is the crisis of capitalism, of over production and over accumulation, inherent to capitalism. There is no escape through making deals with the big business monopolies. We cannot accommodate the interests of a class whose interests are the direct opposite of ours. As one Young Communist League banner exclaimed:
‘For Class Unity, Against Class Collaboration
March for the alternative, The Alternative is SOCIALISM!’
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
The ruling class assault on young people have caused unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds to hit record levels of over 20%
Young workers are facing increasingly precarious, low paid work. Employment is often found only on a temporary basis, where short term contracts are gained through parasitic agencies, forcing young workers to beg for a shift, frequently with as little as an hours notice given, to work long shifts at unsociable hours.
The lack of full time employment has caused the number of part-time workers to reach the highest level since records began in 1992 at 1.19 million in total.
Students face increased financial pressures after the trebling of tuition fees and the scrapping of education maintenance allowance, schools, colleges and universities face huge budget cuts meaning that students will effectively pay more for a lower standard of education delivered by smaller numbers of teachers and lecturers.
Cuts to Connexions services are ensuring that young people suffering from personal/health/social problems-exacerbated by this assault-will have less provision of education, employment, health and training support.
Dentists are reporting increasing cases of people refusing to book appointments in order to avoid charges (anyone 18 years old and over in work and students aged 19 years or over have to pay) Poor diet together with a lack of recreational facilities and after school clubs has produced an obesity epidemic among young people. Many of these avoidable health problems have caused scientists to forecast our generation to die at a younger age than our parents.
A recent report from Child Poverty Action Group showed that, despite being one of the richest nations, Britain one of the worst places to be a child in Europe mirroring a Unicef report from 2007 that concluded Britain was the worst country to grow up in the industrialised world. A report from Save the children in February 2011 demonstrated that 1.6 million children live in poverty, in Manchester and Tower Hamlets, 27% of children live in poverty.
In direct contrast to the government’s claims that we are all in this together, last year the 1000 richest people in Britain increased their wealth by a record 30%. Young workers and students in Britain are being forced to chase declining numbers of jobs and suffer worse conditions in employment while the rich are making obscene profits.
It is as if Britain’s youth have been collectively mugged, yet the mugger is having the audacity to ask the victim to pay compensation and to accept that this is the correct way of behaving.
How did the situation become this bad and what can we do about it?
We need to reject the argument, which has become the accepted orthodoxy of the CPI, TUC, Conservatives, Liberals, Labour and mass media, that this crisis was caused by a handful of reckless bankers and that it can be solved by minor reforms to bonus payments.
This position is misleading and misunderstands the causes of crises, which is that of over-productive, over-accumulation in a society controlled by a self-interested capitalist class. The Young Communist League rejects the idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ capitalism; we recognise that this is a crisis of capitalism and that the cure is socialism.
The remedy to this crisis is a planned economy, where the dictatorial hegemony of the capitalist class and their monopoly control of the economy, the media and political process is broken forever. However, we also recognise that nothing of any significance changes if the forces who intend to force that change do not exist.
Our rights were never handed out to us; before we were born generations of young people had to fight for decent employment, housing and education. Young people have won in the past when they have been well organised and united in the struggle for socialism.
The brutal attacks that Thatcher launched on Britain’s manufacturing industries destroyed communities that provided the bulk of Britain’s communists, socialists and trade unionists. Many heroic battles were fought and lost but, in the face of such a powerful onslaught, defeatism set in.
The 1990s produced a wave of capitalist triumphalism, with communities broken and union membership plummeting, many socialists and trade unionists gave up fighting for a better world. With the success of counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s many of those who had been socialist now avoided the term, dropped their commitment to socialism and began to believe in the illusion of a ‘nicer’ capitalism.
During the cold war, western governments had assured their citizens that the high rate of military spending was due to an exaggerated Soviet threat and that otherwise this money would be spend socially. But since the success of capitalist restoration in the East military spending has increased and NATO has been free to pursue imperialist wars where ever it chooses. In Britain the privatisation of public services has accelerated since the early 1990s and inequality has increased to record levels, the election of a Labour government in 1997 did nothing to reverse this trend.
As Tony Benn said of his experiences of the power of governments in a bourgeois democracy:
“As a minister, I experienced the power of industrialists and bankers to get their way by use of the crudest form of economic pressure, even blackmail, against a Labour Government. Compared to this, the pressure brought to bear in industrial disputes is minuscule. This power was revealed even more clearly in 1976 when the IMF secured cuts in our public expenditure. These lessons led me to the conclusion that the UK is only superficially governed by MPs and the voters who elect them. Parliamentary democracy is, in truth, little more than a means of securing a periodical change in the management team, which is then allowed to preside over a system that remains in essence intact. If the British people were ever to ask themselves what power they truly enjoyed under our political system they would be amazed to discover how little it is, and some new Chartist agitation might be born and might quickly gather momentum.”
In Britain power rests with the capitalist class who control the system of democracy, they fund the parties and own the media. In order to get into government, parties must make deals and compromises with the capitalist class, it is they who truly rule Britain. Recently Nick Clegg was asked if he knew he was in charge of the country as David Cameron had gone on a tour of the Middle East:
‘Yeah, I suppose I am. I forgot about that.’
‘I’m holding the fort but I’m hoping to take the end of the week off with my kids. Someone else will have to do it then. It sounds more haphazard than it probably is.’
What we have is a government of the capitalist class; we want a government of the working class. We recognise that this cannot be realised until the forces for change are constructed, united and coordinated.
Young Communists must:
-Get active in our union branch and build fighting unions
-educate ourselves and our mates in Marxist-Leninism
-march for the alternative on the 26th of March and declare that the alternative is socialism!
Thursday, 3 February 2011
"The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is actually something that changed my life" said Ricky Tomlinson, "It was given to me when I was in prison in the 1970s, it was given to me by the governor of the prison."
Robert Tressell, author of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists which has provided inspiration for labour movement activists for years, died 100 years ago in 1911. It was almost lost forever and only by chance published years after his death.
The main character of the book, Frank Owen, seeks over and over again to win his fellow workers to the socialist cause. It is a great book both for winning people to socialism, the great money trick is still one of the best ways I have seen socialism explained. It also has much a longstanding activist can relate to, namely confronting apathy on a daily basis but never giving up untill "the Golden Light that will be diffused throughout all the happy world from the rays of the risen sun of Socialism."
This Saturday-February 5th 201 - there will be a commemmoration in Hastings of the death of Robert Tressell (Robert Noonan) on February 3rd 1911
More information www.raggedtrouseredandangry.me.uk
To celebrate the centenary Philosophy Football have produced an original design of a 'Paintbrush & Sickle' combining the tradition tool of the trade of Tressell's hero, Frank Owen, painting and decorating with a hint of Lissitsky's clasic 'Red Wedge' and a suggestion of the spirit of a joyful socialism which paints the town red.
Available on a T-shirt from here
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
From the 13th December to the 21st of December 2010 the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students took place in Pretoria or Tshwane, South Africa under the slogan ‘Let’s defeat imperialism, for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation!’ For members of the British delegation the event provided invaluable experience and a continuing source of inspiration.
One problem progressive young people find in Britain is a sense of isolation. They may feel like they are the only young communist in their town. That is why it is so important for young people to attend local political meetings or national events like the Tolpuddle Martyrs festival; this provides a sense of being part of a movement. For those of us given the chance to attend the world festival, with thousands of young communists and anti-imperialists from over 130 nations around the world, we discovered that we are part of a truly global movement.
British delegates gained greater knowledge of subjects such as the struggle of the peoples of Western Sahara and Palestine, the politics surrounding foreign military bases, the campaign to free the Miami Five and the history of the Vietnamese people’s infamous victory over a brutal US invasion. Evidence was presented to an anti-imperialist court concerning environmental damage, the looting of natural resources, and the establishment of repressive military dictatorships. President of the jury, the South African judge Andele Magxitama, convicted imperialism of these crimes against humanity, in their conquest of the world in line with the principle of satisfying the interests of the few above the many.
The vibrant display of different cultures was breathtaking. There was much to see and experience including a Vietnamese tradition where delegates had to step between several pairs of bamboo sticks being smashed together in time to music played from a bamboo xylophone. The festival halls were explosions of rhythm with Arabic music, Korean plays and various African tribal dances. Some Sri Lankan delegates cooked traditional hoppers-pancakes made from fermented rice flour, yeast, salt and egg, while the Cuban delegation produced Havana Club Cocktails. Experiencing South African politics at first hand was overwhelming as mass meetings always erupted into singing, dancing and chanting.
There was a real expression of youth culture, people sat around painting amazing pictures, singing songs, playing instruments and reciting poetry. Some Spanish speaking delegates dressed up as caricatures of the capitalist media, dressed in suits with a papier-mâché television camera with a CNN logo, who would proceed to interview people holding a screen in front of the camera with the sign of the dollar, while a man on stilts dressed as Uncle Sam held puppet strings above your head.
The legacy of the recent world cup was keenly felt and the festival echoed with the sound of VuVuzelas. The early exit of Bafana Bafana from the recent world cup proved to be a sore point and during a keepy-uppy demonstration a delegate from Uruguay was challenged to beat the local lads’ performance. However, the South African delegates were heartened by the victory of both their women’s and men’s’ teams who won the football tournament. British delegates from the Young Communist League were particularly proud of a football victory of its own when we beat the Portuguese communist youth 3-2 in a hard fought game, a particularly impressive feat at an altitude of 1,350 m (4,500 ft) above sea level.
At the closing of the festival we joined a march of thousands of young people through the streets of Tshwane which brought us to a rally of where passionate speeches and songs were delivered from a stage in front of the Union buildings which granted an impressive view across the city to those who walked to the top.
Members of the British delegation were greatly impressed by the vibrancy of South African politics with its singing and dancing. The ANC song Solomon was particularly enjoyed;
Isotsha lo Mkhonto We Sizwe!
Wa yo bulala amabhunu eAfrika!"
"Oh Solomon, The Spear of the Nation soldier, He struggled against the Boer oppressors in Africa."
Delegates from the Young Communist League enjoyed this popular South African Communist Party (SACP) song;
"My father was a gardener, a gardener, a gardener,
My mother was a kitchen girl, a kitchen girl, a kitchen girl,
That’s why I am a communist, a communist, a communist.”
We were so impressed that we intend to bring it home, although the occupations of railwayman and nurse would better reflect our labour movement.
Something Britain’s communists suffer from, particularly in England, is a failure to draw our socialism and our national identity together. We look enviously at our comrades in France who can quite happily mix socialist convictions while waving the tricolore and delivering La Marseillaise in thunderous voices. At the world festival delegations proudly waved their national flags and displayed their respective national cultures on their stalls. Particularly vivid are the memories of fluttering Brazilian and Cuban flags held high by carnivals moving in time to Latin music, Syrian and Algerian characters in traditional Arabic robes, whose stalls resembled a cave in Arabian Nights, and of course, tribal African dancers carefully balancing pots upon their heads or pounding upon drums, displaying stone carved elephants and beaded jewellery. We were asked by the Vietnamese delegation, with their stall full of ceramic figurines and traditional Asian Conical hats, why our stall did not contain any British cultural items.
That left us wondering, what is British culture? Would it be appropriate for us to boldly wave the Union flag, mirroring our ancestors when they thrust it through the heart of the freedom of one quarter of the planet’s population?
At an event organized by the Portuguese communist youth, we were impressed by the hearty renditions of the songs of the Carnation revolution. The only response we could muster was to remind them of the result of a certain game of football that had taken place earlier that day. Eventually we decided to deliver a few verses of the red flag, a song we continued to sing throughout the festival. Nonetheless, British culture was best expressed by the conversations we had about premiership football with delegates from over nations over a few beers in the evenings.
Clearly, defeated only sixteen years, the legacy of apartheid is still dearly felt in the form of high levels of crime and inequality. Nonetheless President Zuma, who attended the opening ceremony of the festival that included a military parade and a flypast by the South African Air force, has stated that he will seek to deliver a badly needed programme of job creation and greater redistribution of wealth, that the ANC and SACP will seek to forge a different path from South Africa’s current neoliberalism.
Overall the Festival was a life-changing event for its delegates, by learning as a group, playing football together, and overcoming organisational obstacles as a team, the YCL contingent demonstrated an ability to act as one. It’s members come back to Britain more enthusiastic than ever and better equipped to get stuck into political work with renewed vigour. Members of the YCL contingent will lead by example and use their new found skills and passion to forge a bigger, better YCL in order to support the rebuilding and reenergising of the communist party and supporting the labour movement in uniting the communities of Britain against this Tory-led government.
Monday, 10 January 2011
The Communist Party of Britain has adopted a Party Campaign Plan for 2011 which includes major initiatives. Includes two national speaking tours and upping the ante on the struggle against job loss and the destruction of industry and services.
These include proposals for:
• The party's annual trade union and political cadre school on February 26-27.
• A national event to celebrate International Women's Day with other Communist and workers' parties domiciled in Britain.
• A campaigning 'month of action' in March and November on benefit cuts and Palestinian political prisoners.
• Two national speaking tours in spring and winter on 'Capitalist crisis - the Communist Party's answer' and 'The Communist Party and Britain's Road to Socialism'.
• Communist Party participation in English local, Scottish and Welsh elections on May 5.
• Campaigning against the Alternative Vote in the May 5 referendum.
• A seminar to be organised by the party's Economic Committee on the dimensions of capitalist crisis.
• Discussions to formulate 'a major labour movement initiative' against mass unemployment.
Britain is in an economic crisis.For too many years the labour movement has been fighting on its back foot, Finance has stranggled the rest of the nation and the rich have increased their wealth to staggering levels. Tired old anti-communist propaganda is being questioned by a new generation of socialists. Many young people are seeing capitalism for what it is and they support the communist party while it is growing in numbers and influence.
Britain badly needs the communist party. A larger cadre party that could act as a discplined cohort at the core of the labour movement ensuring that it packs a punch, providing leadership based on Marxist-Leninist analysis and organising communities that have been neglected for far too long. Such a party could make Britain's economic crisis a political crisis.
At a time when many are becoming interested in the communist party-especially among young people and students-it is fantastic to see the party asserting itself and stepping up it's activity.
As this fantastic banner read from the KNE-Communist youth of Greece at the recent 17th World Festival of Youth and Students in South Africa-'Communism is the youth of the world!'
Thursday, 6 January 2011
In line with efforts of many party and YCL members to draw up answers to FAQs that we face everytime we do stalls and other public activity, I have decided to take on on of the biggest tricks up the anti-communist sleave, I will attempt to put the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact into perspective.
The Nazi-Soviet pact is one slice of history that is always brought up by those seeking to equate Communism with fascism. Revisionist historians, notably Niall Ferguson, have claimed that the "blame" for the second world war should be equally shared by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Ferguson has stated that Stalin was "as much an aggressor as Hitler." Most outrageously Orlando Figes has described the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact as "the licence for the Holocaust."
These claims may appear to be ludicrous enough to alienate most people. However, this view of history is becoming more popular. The Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact is a key element to this line of argument and is inseparable to the recent increase in repression of communists in Europe. This piece of realpolitik diplomacy has been taken out of its context and used by ultra-right wingers in the EU, grouped around the Prague Declaration, representing the forces behind a huge, Europe-wide campaign to outlaw communism.
Those seeking to equate Nazis Germany and it’s fascist allies with the socialist nations of Eastern Europe are doing so on the basis of their anti-communist ideology alone. There can be no genuine comparison. On the one hand you have Nazi Germany, a violent and expansionary fascist state-funded by big business-who carried out a systematically planned genocide based on racial identity. On the other, the Soviet Union and socialist states of Eastern Europe, established by revolutions with mass support, that raised the general standard of living by means of a centrally planned economy.
In practise that has meant that communist symbols have been made illegal in countries such as Hungary, Lithuania and Poland. In the Czech Republic the youth section of the communist party-a party with mass support-was outlawed. While in Moldova anti-communists have resorted to riots when the communist party won the elections.
While the stated aims of these European anti-communists are to equate communism with fascism, communists-often the largest force fighting cutbacks-are being repressed in their respective countries while violent fascist groups are thriving.
In the Baltic republics anti-communism is being used in order to rehabilitate nazism. Veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS now parade through the streets of Riga and Estonian parliamentarians have honoured those who served the Third Reich as "fighters for independence." Across Europe monuments to those who fought the nazis being dismantled on a daily basis. Most shamefully, NATO and EU member Lithuania opened a war crimes investigation into four Jewish veterans of the country's partisans.
Efraim Zuroff, the famous nazi hunter, has stated: "People need to wake up to what is going on. This attempt to create a false symmetry between communism and the nazi genocide is aimed at covering up these countries' participation in mass murder."
The Nazi-Soviet pact is used as cover for the repression of communists by claiming that communists and fascists are both ‘totalitarian’. This attack on communists has been exploited by holocaust denying neo-nazis seeking to use this anti-communist onslaught to distract the people of Europe from the crimes of fascism.
The idea that communists and fascists are somehow one and the same is a false concept that is catching on and is in danger of becoming fashionable. Yet we can fight against this naked piece of anti-communist propaganda by placing the act in its historical context.
On the surface the idea that communists and fascists, supposed arch-enemies, should sign an act of non-aggression may seem strange. But we must go back to the mid-1930s in order to explain the act.
It was the dominant section of the British ruling elite, together with British and American capital, that ensured the rise of Nazi Germany. Treaties that allowed the Nazis to increase the size of their armed forced were signed by British politicians sympathetic to the Nazis, falling for the propaganda of ‘Living space’ and seeing them as a useful ally against the Soviet Union.
When a fascist military uprising broke out in Spain, it was the British Secret Service who had flown it’s leader General Franco from prison in the Canary islands to Morocco. While people of nations across the globe flocked to the communist organised international brigades in order to fight for Spanish democracy, Britain headed a non-intervention committee that prevented men and material from reaching republican forces.
The British government invoked the 1870 enlistment act that prohibits Britons from volunteering to fight against an ally-in this case fascist Italy! The non-intervention committee turned a blind eye to troops and material pumped into Spain from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. This act enabled Hitler to test new tactics and encouraged him that Britain would not respond to his plans to conquer Europe. The only nation that sent significant numbers of war material and personnel to fight for democracy was the Soviet Union.
Members of the international brigades-who went on to play a massive role in resistance movements to the Nazis, or the army and Home guard in Britain-left Spain as Franco’s troops raped, tortured, murdered and pillaged, completing their conquest of the nation. Britain was the first nation to recognise the fascist military junta as a legitimate government.
As Nazi troops occupied Austria and Czechoslovakia Britain collaborated with Hitler at Munich, while repeated Soviet calls for Britain and France to form an anti-fascist alliance to stop the Nazis from invading European countries were ignored.
It was clear that war was only a matter of months away, the British government still favoured an alliance with Nazi Germany and continued to sign treaties and trade deals. High profile diplomatic delegations were sent to Berlin and Rome to drink to the health of Hitler and Mussolini, the Soviet Union was sidelined with only minor clerks, with no powers to sign treaties, sent to Moscow.
When it become clear the Nazis would invade Poland, the Soviet Union proposed to sign a treaty with Britain and France to guarantee Poland’s borders backed up with the threat of war. Poland continued to refuse to sign any treaty that allowed Soviet troops to cross Polish territory in order to attack Nazi Germany. Britain refused to join the Soviets in declaring war on Hitler in the event of a Nazi invasion of Poland, however-with very dubious motives-Britain encouraged the Soviets to go to war with Nazi Germany.
With the experience of the 1918-1920 intervention in living memory, where 22 nations including Germany, Britain and Poland had invaded Russia, committing widespread atrocities, the Soviet Union was wary of a repeat performance. The pro-nazi element in Britain’s ruling class wanted to support, formally or informally, a Nazi war with the Soviet Union. Britain’s international relations demonstrated this strategy in action.
It was in this context that a non-aggression pact was signed between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. This move sidelined British and Nazi war plans and enabled the Soviet Union to spend two years preparing for war-a period in which defence spending rose by 27%. The decision to occupy parts of Eastern Poland, 8 days after the Nazis invaded from the West, put fascist artillery out of range of Russian cities and ensured that the population of eastern Poland-many ethnically Ukrainian or Belorussian-were saved from the horrors of the holocaust for two years.
Britain, having signed huge deals with Germany and Japan handing over valuable materials needed for war just months earlier, was outmaneuvered by Stalin. When the Nazis invaded Poland the appeasers hesitated for several days. Only after pressure from parliament, with Churchill writing to Chamberlain threatening to make a speech in favour of war revealing the government‘s treacherous nature, did Britain reluctantly declare war on Germany.
Events during the early ‘phoney war’ period appeared to vindicate the Nazi-Soviet pact. Was this an imperialist war? The pro-Nazi appeasers remained in the British government and acted to sabotage Britain’s war effort. One revealing chapter of history which is conveniently left out of the history books is Britain’s role in the Soviet-Finnish war. In direct contrast to their use of the 1870 enlistment act to prevent Britons volunteering for the fight to save Spanish democracy from fascism, the British government used a clause in the act in order to encourage volunteers to fight for Finland against the Soviet Union. In 1940 the formation of a British Legion-with the aim of recruiting 10,000-was declared. By the end of the conflict only three Britons were found to be fighting for the reactionary Finnish government, in contrast to the thousands who fought in Spain.
At a time when Britain stood alone against the threat of a Nazi invasion, a huge amount of war materials were shipped to Finland. Instead of reinforcing our armed forces, or ill equipped home guard, we shipped 30 'Blenheim' bombers, 246 fighter planes, 400,000 rifles, and 250,000 grenades to Helsinki. The Nazi ally also received supplies from Italy and Germany so much of the British supplies ended up in the hands of the Nazis. We only stopped shipping arms to this fascist ally when the Soviet Union was invaded and the conflict became a ‘people’s war’.
The Soviet Union managed to occupy parts of Finland and deny the Nazis launch pad for it’s later invasion. The example of Britain supporting a Nazi ally, against the needs of it’s own people demonstrate that the war was imperialist at this point. The occupation of parts of Finland ensured that Nazi Germany was defeated sooner than it would have otherwise and was only possible because of the Nazi-Soviet pact of non-aggression. A similar pact was signed with Japan shortly before the Nazi invasion, this is another example of realpolitik that helped make the destruction of fascism occur earlier.
The Nazi-Soviet pact and occupation of Poland, which Churchill felt ‘was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace’, cannot be isolated from the context of the events leading up to and during the start of the Second World War. If it somehow proved that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were secret bedfellows why did the Soviets demand the German signatories drink a toast to Lazar Kaganovitch, the most senior Jewish communist in the Soviet government? Why did the Soviet’s refuse the German suggestion to include in the treaty the phrase ‘the friendly character of German-Soviet relations’?
At the end of the day the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact was a reluctant move that was hard to swallow, but necessary to the ultimate aim of destroying Nazi Germany, a feat which wouldn’t have been possible without the contribution of the Soviet Union who faced 80% of the German armed forces for the duration of the ‘people’s war’ which cost the Soviet Union nearly 24 million lifes.
For more information read the fantastic book 'Freedom from Tyranny; The fight against fascism and the falsification of history' by Phil Katz and the Communist Party history group. Available at www.manifestopress.org.uk