Communist Party of Spain M-L (PCE M-L)

Work for a United Front, advance towards the Popular Front*

* This theme was included as an appendix to the report to the Enlarged Plenum of the Central Committee of the PCE (m-l) in January of this year.

The need to promote a unitary work, to expand what has already been done, push it forward and correct it, is clear. It is a necessity that current circumstances and their foreseeable development make particularly important or urgent, we can say.

In order to strengthen, expand and give greater cohesion and perspectives to our united front activity, it will be necessary to review and if necessary rectify our approaches and methods of work in the process of its development, to concretize our united front policy, which, do not forget, was already raised by our Party since its formation in 1964, under the name of "National Revolutionary Democratic Front” (a name that corresponded to the -political situation of that time).

In other words, it is not just now when the Party put forward this political necessity; what we are proposing is to push it forward under the present (national and international) circumstances, to be bold and, why not, imaginative in order to advance. This has been the constant attitude of our Party, it was so at the time of the creation of the Committees for the FRAP [Revolutionary Antifascist and Patriotic Front], then the FRAP itself, the Republican Convention of the Peoples of Spain (CRPE) and the Republican Popular Unity (UPR) in which Jose Bergamin participated actively along with others. That is, according to the different situations or political moments (development, mobilization, etc.) we knew how to respond in a united front manner.

This is a problem that we have never set aside. Just reread the reports to our congresses, to the conferences and even to the regional conferences (of the earlier stage), to see an ideological and tactical continuity on this issue. For example, at the 5th Congress (1988), when the liquidators were already working slyly, we warned that:

"The strategic base of our political alliances [...] should not be confused, nor counterposed, to immediate tactical alliances at a given time. That is, if we do not subordinate the achievement of the strategic alliance to questions of the moment, we also cannot and must not subordinate tactical alliances to achieving strategic ones, provided that this does not involve abandonment of essential questions."

Another matter of the greatest importance is reflected in the introduction to our Political Line adopted at the Second Congress (new period) held in 2010, which clearly specified that in our policy of tactical alliances with other forces we can not forget that we always have to keep the independence of the Party ideologically, that is not a matter of tailing behind this or that organization. We also know that the tactic cannot, and should not, relegate the class struggle to the framework of the alliances that we can build; and finally, let us not forget that any tactical alliance, agreement or compromise with other political forces must help us to strengthen the establishment of the Party, and not the reverse. It would be a serious error to dilute ourselves organizationally for the sake of this or that alliance, and eventually, to persist in such an aberration would lead to the demise of the party, or at least to its serious weakening.

This does not mean that we should unite only with those who share our ideological positions, because then it would be unity among communists (which leads to problems of a different scope, as recent experience shows) but of alliances among diverse forces with which we can agree or coincide on some minimum points.

The need to work for united front is particularly urgent now, when the popular masses (and how confused the notion of "masses” sometimes is!) carry out actions spontaneously in many cases, with serious political, organizational and ideological limitations, as consequence of an evident lack of revolutionary political leadership.

"To know how to adapt one’s methods of work to the needs of the Party, according to existing political conditions, is a matter of principles, though it is not usually defined as such.

“This is true for all the activities we carry out, including the necessary tactic of unity with other forces and people. We cannot forget that our general style of work and operation is based on democratic centralism. This, for communists, is something basic that we cannot give up under any circumstances. But we can also not forget that we have – or always should have – what we call a mass line, that is, to know how to take our politics and proposals outside the Party, not to limit ourselves to our own members and close friends.

“This is a matter of the greatest importance in the politics of the party faced with the various problems that the development of the revolutionary process (which never does nor can proceed in a straight line) puts forward in each country." (Front and Unitary Politics. 5th Congress, 1988)

This is certainly a very important question, which leads us directly to the need, raised not only in Spain, to work for the formation of the Popular Front. And this requires us to break with patterns, it is necessary to take into account the political (and organizational) situation in which we move, a situation in which other political forces of diverse persuasions also act, and there are also mass organizations which we must take into account. It is not a matter of falling into the tailism or spontaneity. It is a matter of dedicating our efforts, as a Party, to organize or develop initiatives of protest, despite our relative organizational weakness (which we must fight with appropriate measures) and on the basis of a concrete knowledge of the problems of the various sectors of the masses, problems that today are evident given the consequences of the capitalist crisis that is brutally striking the proletariat and other popular sectors,.

This also leads to another problem that can occur and that we must confront. That is, not to be afraid to clearly raise our revolutionary alternatives towards the problems that exist.

We will never tire of warning against the danger of right or "left" opportunism that lurks in all front work, an opportunism that consists in putting temporary and partial benefits ahead of the general interests of the workers’ movement and the Party.

Right opportunism mainly has the following expressions: making compromises on principle to attract allies; lowering the level of struggle for fear of the enemy; lagging behind the consciousness of the masses instead of going ahead of them; exaggerating the importance of national or regional peculiarities, without taking into account of the general principles (widely exposed in our various works on the national question), and liberalism in matters of organization. The principal and most dangerous is to hide the Party, to act as if it did not exist; this would equivalent to "entryism" typical of the Trotskyists.

"Left" opportunism has the following characteristics and manifestations, among others: the false criteria of everything or nothing, not knowing how to make necessary concessions and compromises useful for the development of the work, not knowing how to adapt Marxism-Leninism to the conditions peculiar to the country, to the reality in which we live, letting oneself be influenced by experiences of others regardless of the above, which leads to not knowing how to adapt, or to err in adapting, the level and forms of struggle to the subjective conditions of the masses; to adopt excessively rigid criteria in matters of organization.

Another problem that often arises, and that is often forgotten despite the fact that we have warned of it in several documents, is that the alliances that we make (tactical compromises) cannot be seen in a static way, as if they were compromises once and for all times. Alliances must be seen in their development, that we cannot predict what will happen, but we know that this will not develop in a straight line, therefore there will be momentary issues, circumstances that will change. That is, alliances must be seen in their continuous development. Therefore, the agreements of today may not be valid tomorrow, or they will need to be changed.

There is the classic question of "Unity, yes, but for what and with whom?" The answers will vary according to the given moment. As an example, we can cite the party's position on the unitary platforms against NATO in 1985. Practice shows that our participation in the unitary platforms was correct, although there were revisionist and opportunist leaders of various calibers on those platforms. We participated in all acts and demonstrations. We did not hesitate to sit at the same table with Gerardo Iglesias, Tamames, Diaz Curiel and other revisionist leaders, or to participate in meetings with them and others in Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Bilbao, etc., etc.

It would not have been correct to stay on the sidelines in order not to appear together with the leaders of the PCE, the MC [Catalan Minority] or the [Revolutionary Communist] League. But no one could manipulate the party's positions, although some revisionists and "radicals" speculated on our intentions in this "integration."

We must insist on the need for clear and controlled activity. We must keep in mind that no one will come looking for us, quite the contrary, there are many who want to marginalize us, including some people with whom we sometimes agree on a particular action without anything further.

The current situation, which has dragged on for some years, is tending to worsen, the need to carry out actions, demonstrations, provide answers, is increasing day by day. And every day shows us how reaction (whichever party is in government, because regardless of their initials there are the interests of the class to which they belong and represent, whether they are called PSOE [Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party] or PP [People’s Party]), do not hesitate to adopt and implement anti-popular measures, that all are to the detriment of the popular classes and, in one way or another, benefit capital.

This situation, we repeat, requires reaching agreements and compromises that allow us to organize our response more and better. To do this, we must not fear making minimal agreements with other political forces, although we do not agree ideologically. We cannot go into battle alone. And those who do so only isolate themselves, as has happened, for example, in France. Those so-called radicals, with "communist" or other initials, did not understand the importance that the Left Front (Front de Gauche) could have had, as was shown later. Our fraternal party, the PCOF, did understand the importance of the front and was able to overcome all the barriers and obstacles that some members of the Front used to prevent their participation in it.

And the PCOF, meticulously fulfilling the plan of the Left Front, without hiding their initials, their banners and their Marxist-Leninist ideology, has participated in meetings and demonstrations, etc., etc. They intervened with their own opinions on international and other problems, they have increased their prestige among the popular masses and won respect from the other forces.

In the Plan of the Central Committee of March 1985 (in which Odena Elena, who died months later, actively participated), we insisted on these questions:

"We should not try to arrive once and for all at long-range unitary political agreements, when the aim at this early stage is to reach minimal agreements on unitary questions around partial issues that allow us to lay the foundations that will make it possible, in a process, to reach unitary political agreements at other higher levels."

One must admit, once again, that the Party's position was correct.

Let us conclude. We always say that in general, in our unitary activity we must take into account, we must address the specific problems of the masses, their mood and political level depending on the situation. But this cannot let us tail behind the masses, for then the stagnation would be inevitable and very harmful. The duty of the Party is to lead the masses to take steps, to move forward, to expand their horizons, but without creating a gap between them and us, without detaching ourselves, on the contrary, attracting more and better ones by our policy, that we must not hide, because that would be fooling or lying by omission.

Keep in mind that the Communists will always be a minority of the population. So we must build up our ranks in the ability to mobilize the masses for concrete objectives and tasks (we know that the notion of the masses varies according to circumstances, as Lenin pointed correctly); to find methods and ways of struggle, so that the mobilizations lead the masses to combat in an increasingly aware and therefore more determined manner.

The Popular Front cannot be formed by decree, by voluntarism or by ideological notions, however correct or just they may be. But, the events that take place and the situation that the masses themselves suffer can push this task forward more and more. And again, the Party must be there at all times, without hiding or denying itself, without trying to impose ourselves by force (which besides we do not have), but without isolating ourselves or allowing ourselves to be isolated.

Today, the problems which we should consider for unitary activity, and that we should take into account, are:

The labor situation (unemployment, uncontrolled layoffs, working hours, wage cuts), the dismantling of education and public health, the systematic impoverishment of the population in general, that is taking us back to the 19th century, the growing police repression against protesters, as well as intentions outlined by the PP attempts to regulate strikes (that is, to break them and make them useless), the struggle against monarchical government, against the constitution and for a change in the regime, in the system, for the republic; the struggle against imperialist wars and for the liberation of the peoples, such as in Palestine and the Sahara; against the military presence of the U.S. in Spain (its bases, anti-missile shield, etc.) that make us a prime target in the case of a generalized conflict.

These are points that can be taken up together or separately, or one part of them, according to the conditions and circumstances in each time and place.

Raul Marco
January 2013

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