Text of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 1939
To grasp the amplitude of Communist dishonesty both past and present one must consider the complex relationship of Communism to Fascism. One early and enduring aspect of Communist self-promotion was its draping itself with the mantle of anti-Fascism. Since the late 1920s the Communists have strutted about the world as the ultimate anti-Fascists, and thus the Vanguard of the Morally Superior. “Fascism” in this scenario represented everything that was wrong in the contemporary world, and Communists were, of course, “anti-Fascist.”
The logic of Communism as anti-Fascism is very simple, but its application, because of the infinite elasticity of the premises, makes it highly flexible and able to lead to whatever conclusions are requisite in order to justify any change in principle, policy, or goal. The most elemental syllogism is the following: Fascism is evil; Communism is opposed to Fascism; therefore, Communism is good. An “anti-Fascist” is simply another term for a virtuous person, and the syllogism is scarcely less than tautological. The logic belies the reality of what always has been the crude tribal psychology of Communism, an antagonistic world neatly divided into legions of the very Good struggling against the very Evil. “Fascism,” however, for J.S. Stalin, Mr. anti-Fascist, was always a moving target, a label of excommunication for whoever happened to be in the way of current Soviet objectives.
In the years between 1928 and 1935, the Soviets were anticipating the world-wide collapse of capitalism. Their most successful and serious ideological rivals at that time were the non-Communist Left, especially the reform-oriented Social Democrats, who had become a power and legitimate political force in Germany. Stalin promptly expanded the category of “Fascist” so as to make the Social Democrats appropriate objects of execration and abuse. They were now identified, “unmasked” as it were, as “Social Fascists.” How could this be? They were Socialists, good Marxist-Leftists of sorts who like their Communist brethren scorned the pursuit of profit and thoroughly loathed the capitalists. Nevertheless they had fallen in with the Fascists, that is, the capitalists, simply by participating with them in bourgeois politics. They competed in elections, played by parliamentary rules and eschewed violent revolution. Lenin had especially despised them for this. His preference and practice was to kill the opposition rather than have to compete with them for voter approval. Worst of all for Stalin, they had been politically successful in Germany, and at that time he perceived them to be his most serious competition for power and thus their assigned membership in the class of evil.
Stalin’s “Social Fascist” demonization of the Social Democrat Marxists in Germany turned into the perfect gift for Hitler. It fractured his major opposition on the Left and greatly assisted his consolidation of power. But once Hitler finished the strangling of the Weimar Republic and quickly turned his Third Reich into the most menacing and formidable military force in the world, Stalin suddenly realized that he now actually needed those Fascist German Social Democrats as allies on the Left. So, in 1935, “Social Fascism” fell out of the Stalinist lexicon and the Comintern made one of its most notorious about-faces and embraced the former “Social Fascists” in an anti-Fascist alliance that became known as the “Popular Front.” And so the Social Democrats went from being Fascist to Anti-Fascist after a few chin-strokes by the General Secretary and a consultation with his retinue of yes-men, the Politburo – Stalin was nothing if not flexible. The former collaborators with, and enablers of, capitalism – itself a fascist enterprise – were now embraced in the Party of the Good.
Thus, Stalin’s most successful and enduring contribution to the ideology that ruled such a large part of the globe was make it the moral counterpoise to Fascism. The Soviet Union proudly presented itself to the world as the bulwark of anti-Fascism. Fascism was a rapacious, anti-egalitarian, political force driven by crude theories of national and racial superiority, put into practice by moral cretins. Whereas Fascists were inherently chauvinistic, imperialistic, and aligned to a narrow self-interest of class or race, Stalinism presented itself as a modern, progressive force that promised emancipation from all the traditional bondages and relationships of inequality. Its goodness was comprehensive and ever expansive. Women would be equal to men. Racial bigotry and discrimination would fall away. Social and economic and cultural differences that set people apart and put them in opposition would finally and irrevocably disappear.
Soviet Communism projected itself to the entire world as the showcase of modern humanism, a wave that pushed reluctant people everywhere toward universal equality and progress which of course was the basis of its broad appeal. Stalin discovered that the mantle of anti-Fascism was an ideal strategy that could be continuously used to associate Bolshevism with these aspirational qualities and endow the Soviet Union with a broad and sweeping moral superiority such that to be opposed to them was to align oneself with the brutal forces of reaction. To be an anti-Communist was to be a Fascist. Though this moral dichotomy presented by Stalin and his successors had no place in reality, it was highly successful as propaganda. The anti-Communist as Fascist became a rote canard firmly and permanently embedded in the daily discourse of the Left where it continues to this day. This false imagery was certainly not impaired by the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunals where the Soviets, the newly victorious anti-Fascists, sat in judgment over the vanquished, genocidal Nazis.
The Left still cannot resist the Fascist smear. George W. Bush throughout his eight years as President was routinely denounced as a Fascist, Hitler Redux, etc. The term, “Fascist,” however now seems used less as an insult (what does it really mean, anyway?) but more as a part of a self-referential ritual of moral affirmation. Calling someone a “Fascist” announces and affirms to the world the speaker’s moral and intellectual superiority, compassion and identification with the highest aspirations of humanity. Its use further assures that others know that he is no member of the knuckle dragging lumpenproletariat.