If the early 1930s saw a high tide in the class struggle of workers directed against the bourgeois attempt to shift the burden of the “Great Depression” on to their shoulders, it also saw the most heinous imperialist reaction to both the workers’ struggle and the capitalist crisis. This was fascism, the undisguised terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most aggressive elements of finance capital. By 1935 it was firmly saddled in power in Germany and Italy and became a major threat in France, Austria, Spain etc. The fascists in every country spearheaded their attack, both at home and at the international level, against the working class, the communist party and Bolshevism. On October 25, 1936 the war-lords of Japan joined the Nazi Reich in signing the anti-Comintern pact. The, need was increasingly being felt to develop, as an antithesis to fascism, a broad unity of all political forces threatened by it — most notably the communists, social-democrats (S-Ds) and bourgeois liberals. In France workers under the influence of S-Ds joined forces with the followers of the French Communist Party in repulsing the first major attacks of fascism in 1934. By contract in Austria, where the communists were numerically insignificant compared to the S-Ds who ignored the former’s calls for joint action and took initiative too late, the fascists drenched a heroic workers’ resistance in blood. The experiences in Spain and other countries also underscored the need for a united proletarian front as the basis of broader alliance of all working people against fascism. While endeavours along these lines were going on, the Soviet Union joined the League of Nations in September 1934, marking an advance in the unity of anti-fascist forces at international level.
Simultaneously with this anti-fascist polarisation in the advanced capitalist countries, a process in which communists took a leading part, in the colonial world also realisation was dawning on the communist parties that the line of absolute denunciation of the nationalist leadership, particularly its left wing, had paid no dividends.
The communist movement was in a sorry state in such countries as Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia etc. and even in China it suffered greatly from left sectarian mistakes. In the case of India we have seen how a process of rethinking and reversal of policies (starting with, as in Europe, TU unity) was proceeding haltingly within the limits of the Draft Platform of Action of the CPI and the Colonial Theses of the Sixth Comintern Congress.
These objective developments and lessons of class struggle naturally led to a distinct shift in the general line of international communist movement from left sectarianism to UF policy. The shift, beginning from 1933-34, assumed a complete shape in the historic Seventh Congress of the CI, held between July 25 and, August 21, 1935. The Congress discussed the achievements and mistakes or lackings of the post-Sixth Congress period, gave a detailed theoretical analysis of the genesis and class essence of fascism and put forward the slogans of a broad popular anti-fascist front on the basis of the proletarian united front in every capitalist country and a wide anti-imperialist united front in every colonial or semi-colonial country. Among the many speakers who elaborated on various aspects of this new line, the most distinguished was Bulgeria’s Georgi Dimitrov, the main architect of the Comintern’s new position, who spoke on “The offensive of Fascism and the Tasks of the CI in the Fight for the Unity of the Working class Against Fascism”. Together with his concluding speech, this became the most important document of the Seventh Congress. About India, Dimitrov had this to say :
“In India the communists have to support, extend and participate in anti-imperialist mass activities, not excluding those which are under national reformist leadership. While maintaining their political and organisational independence, they must carry on active work inside the organisations which take part in the Indian National Congress, facilitating the process of crystallisation of a national revolutionary wing among them, for the purpose of further developing the national liberation movement of the Indian peoples against British Imperialism.”
The “Resolution on Fascism, Working Class Unity and the Tasks of the Comintern” adopted at the Congress contained a small section on “The Anti-Imperialist People’s Front in the Colonial Countries” (Text II-20). The CPC leader Wang Ming in his speech entitled “The Revolutionary Movement in Colonial Countries” dealt with the Indian question in some detail. Though himself responsible for the continuation of a left-sectarian line in China after the disastrous Li Li-san line, he criticised the CPI for the same mistake. Apart from repeating what Dimitrov had said, he suggested a six-point outline of immediate programme for anti-imperialist struggle (see Text II-21). Like Dimitrov, he also stressed the long-term ami of achieving proletarian hegemony in the national liberation movement. However, since there was no official delegate sent by the CPI! to return home just after the Congress and explain the great change in line to the comrades there, the impact of the shift was felt in India quite late. It was only in mid-1936, when the famous “Dutt-Bradley Thesis” reached India through the Inprecor of 29 February that the communist movement in our country woke up to it and began to readjust its policies accordingly. But before we come to that, we should see what was happening in the country’s national politics around this time.
1. See Inprecor, 2 August 1935, p 971
2. General Secretary SS Mirajkar and SV Deshpande were arrested at Singapore en route to Moscow. The Comintern papers show one “Tambe” representing India. According to Saroj Mukherjee (see Bharater Communist Party O Amra, meaning the CPI And Ourselves; NBA, (Calcutta 1985); p 95) and some other sources, Tambe was Ben Bradley who had gone over to London after being released from Meerut jail.