Tuesday, February 1, 2011
What are the differences between the fronts and when are they applicable?
There are different kinds of fronts that are created for different reasons in different places. Different situations and conditions in different places call for a formation of different fronts.
This post will be mainly discussing the two fronts that communist would be dealing with in different situations. The United Front and the Popular Front.
The idea of the United Front is thought to have originated from the Comintern who declared in their 1921 congress that a united front is "an initiative whereby the Communists propose to join with all workers belonging to other parties and groups and all unaligned workers in a common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.”
The Popular Front was created to fight fascism and is more broad than the United Front, allowing liberal and bourgeois elements to join the front in order to fight a common enemy. The Popular Front was highly criticized by Leon Trotsky because he claimed that only United Fronts could be progressive and that Communist collaborating with liberal elements was betrayal of the working class. Big words from a man who was a liberal class champion before the Bolsheviks made it clear that they would be the winning force and Trotsky party jumped opportunistically again as it is explained here (1). And better explained here by Lenin (2).
I see a popular front as essential when fighting a imperialist army or trying to overthrow an oppressive dictator etc. For those who are opposed to popular fronts out right; I'd like to point out two great examples of why and when the Popular Front is needed.
One historical example would be in China when the Japanese invaded in 1937. Sometimes the coalition is referred to as a United Front, but seeing as there were pro-capitalist elements it was technically a Popular Front. If the communist and the Nationalist forces had never coupled with some Soviet volunteers and war lords to create a Popular Front then the Japanese would have easily smashed all forces separately. All the different groups knew that they had to join their forces together to defeat Japanese imperialism. China today would be either a US or Japanese colony if it wasn't for the Popular Front.
But China also teaches us another very important lesson when it comes to any kind of Front. The need to keep your ranks and stay an organization within the front. After the Japanese were defeated the civil war continued but it was keeping their ranks and their party together that allowed the communist to rise as the main power in China (after the long march the communist party gained a lot of respect from the people of China and after they showed their strength in the war against imperial Japan the communist were seen by the people as the party of and by the people) after defeating the Nationalist KMT.
A more recent example would be the situation in Palestine. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a organization that is geared towards nothing less than the liberation and a free state of Palestine. They have joined with many forces through the years to fight the oppressive and imperialist puppet state of Israel. If it wasn't for the formation of these Popular Fronts joining their resources and armies together to fight the Israeli army then the Israeli's would have invaded and destroyed Palestine a long time ago. If they would have stayed Utopian purest like most Trotskyist would say they should have done and only formed United Fronts and only allowed communist, anarchist and socialist elements join then the Israeli Army would have played simple divide and conquer and the Palestinian people would be mostly extinct today.
Now that we have discussed why and when it is needed to create Popular Fronts let's talk about why and when it is needed to build a United Front.
The conditions arise only after the contradiction is primarily between the masses (poor and proletarian peasants and the working class) and the bourgeois (capitalist class, national bourgeois and petty bourgeoisie). A United Front is created when communist and other working class groups (anarchist, and other revolutionary working class movements) need to join forces to fight conservative and/or liberal elements. One example we can see is the United front between the ELN and FARC-EP. The two left-wing guerrilla armies have a common enemy in the neo-liberal government and have joined forces to combat the Colombian government.
Mexico is a place that could use a United Front, the EPR had suggested such a United Front with the EZLN but in a amazing betrayal of the Mexican people the EZLN refused the alliance. This keeps both groups smaller and less able to overthrow or even combat the current Mexican government. If these groups were to create a United Front then there would be a real possibility of destroying the current government.
To put it simply; different times call for different measures. It is always important to recognize the current contradictions in your nation and to organize and act accordingly to fix the current contradiction. If your nation is being oppressed or occupied then it may be needed to create and organize a Popular Front. If the main contradiction is between the people and the government and/or between the working class and bourgeois classes then you may need to create and organize a United Front.
Written by: Dustin Slagle