U.S. Communists: Defeating fascism first step for dealing with capitalist crisis
The 19th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties at the historic Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg. | CPUSA

The following is the text of an address delivered by Scott Hiley and Dee Miles on behalf of the Communist Party USA at the 19th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties, which took place Nov. 2-3 in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), Russia. The meeting was held in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917.

Greetings, comrades, on behalf of the CPUSA. These are very difficult times, and we want to speak to just a few concerns.

Capitalism today is wracked by interlocking crises. Faced with increasing economic instability, transnational capital wages an all-out attack on the international working class and the planet on which we depend. To guarantee its profits in the midst of crisis, it demands savage austerity programs, unfettered rights to penetrate new markets and capture new resources, free trade deals that exempt it from all regulations, and—as throughout its history—the right to compel ever more flexible, precarious, and underpaid, even unpaid, forms of labor.

In other words, capital’s response to crisis is a one-size-fits-all program of austerity, deregulation, environmental destruction and imperialist aggression.

Because capital’s only response to crisis is more inequality, more violence, more austerity, capitalist democracy also faces a crisis of political legitimacy. Hundreds of millions today look to the left with fresh eyes. Even in the United States, where the wounds of Cold War anti-communism are still open and bleeding, young people proudly identify with politicians like Bernie Sanders, who proclaim socialist ideals.

But all is not bread and roses. The inability of capitalism to deliver on its promises of democracy and opportunity has also propelled reactionary and fascist movements into the political mainstream.

The far-right danger must not be underestimated. Fascists come to power by offering racism and national chauvinism, theocracy, and state violence as solutions to the insecurity sown by capitalist globalization. They divide and disorganize the working class, promising jobs, economic security, power, and prestige to some, while targeting others for intensified oppression.

The political agenda of these groups is set by the most vicious, most reactionary section of the capitalist class. This agenda was not born with Donald Trump. In the United States, it has festered for 150 years, since the slaveholders we defeated in our Civil War began organizing to reclaim power. To understand it, we need only look to the parts of the United States already under the control of the far right, where we see poverty wages, for-profit prisons, relentless attacks on trade unions, vicious austerity and unchecked privatization, massive voter suppression, and the adoption of laws that limit the freedoms of women, religious minorities, and the racially and nationally oppressed—African Americans in particular.

Trump’s election brought this agenda to the national level, where it takes the form of an intensification of every violent and undemocratic feature of capitalism in crisis: the open courting of neo-Nazis and white supremacists; renewed imperialist aggression and attacks on the sovereignty of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, and the DPRK; the rolling back of even modest environmental protections; an intensified program of state violence against immigrants and refugees; and attacks on judges and other officials who refuse to implement the fascist program.

Defeating this agenda will require the broadest possible unity. The Communist Party, and even the whole anti-capitalist left, cannot do it alone. In the absence of class and socialist consciousness, sections of the working class can fall sway to fascist ideas. The resistance requires a bolstered struggle within the working class for a program that can unite workers against fascism. It requires building a broad movement including the working class, the peoples’ movements, and even sections of the ruling class whose self-interests are in maintaining the institutions of capitalist democracy. We know this. We learned it in the heroic anti-fascist struggles of the 1930s and 40s, under the political leadership of the Communist International.

But we also know—we also learned, from those same struggles—that we can’t win without communist parties at the core of the fight. The parties of capitalist democracy may not realize it, but they cannot beat fascism without us, any more than they could beat Hitler and smash the Axis powers without us. They cannot win without us, because they cannot see the way forward through bourgeois democracy and beyond capitalism. Their vision is limited to the preservation of the same violent and undemocratic system in which fascism first takes root. Neoliberal globalization is not a remedy for national chauvinism; austerity is not a remedy for economic crisis; in short, capitalism cannot provide a lasting solution to fascism or a sustainable future for the human race.

So stopping Donald Trump’s nuclear clown show is only a first step. And seizing next year’s elections to break the power of the extreme right in the legislature is only a first step. And driving neo-Nazis back into the shadows is only a first step in the decisive fight for the advancement of democracy. Our revolutionary struggle must be to transform the violent and unequal social relations of capitalism, pulling racism and other forms of oppression out by the roots. It is by advancing democracy against ALL forms of inequality—including the inequality of workers, people of color, women, youth, seniors, the LGBTQ people—that we can win the broad unity needed to secure a defeat against the extreme right and move on to even greater victories.

And so here we stand for full nuclear disarmament, beginning with the USA. Here we stand for an end to the U.S. blockade against Cuba, and for a foreign policy that respects the national sovereignty of every country suffering under U.S. imperialist aggression. Here we stand against racism, sexism, and homophobia. Here we stand for sustainable development, social progress, and a peace rooted in justice, rather than an order built on fear.

As Lenin said in a speech ninety-six years ago, on the fourth anniversary of the revolution, we consolidate the achievements and fulfill the promises of bourgeois democracy, but we do it as a by-product of our revolutionary struggle for socialism. Struggle and struggle alone, he said, will determine how far we go. We have a world to win; we must, and we shall, overcome!


Scott Hiley
Scott Hiley

Scott Hiley has taught French, literature, history, and philosophy at the high school, college, and post-graduate levels. He is active in struggles against austerity and for education justice and labor rights. His articles have appeared in People’s World (U.S.),  Morning Star (UK), and l’Humanité (France). He lives in a rural town in upstate NY.

Dee Miles
Dee Miles

Dee Miles PhD writes from Chicago.