The struggle against populism in Europe

The necessity of a correct definition and an objective evaluation of the populist phenomenon is very important for the Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations of Europe, due to its increasing influence among the labouring masses and in the areas of major social suffering.

We have to clarify the nature and characteristics of populism, analyse and study its social bases, the concrete forms of its politics, in order to fight it ideologically and politically.

“Populism” (political tendency that pretends to win the popular classes) it is not a new concept. This political movement was born in Russia in the second half of XIX century, under the influence of A. I. Herzen. The populists were utopian and romantic critics of capitalism. They advocated a revolution founded upon the traditions of the agrarian collectivism and theorized the duty of the intellectuals to put themselves at the service of the people.

Lenin defined this phenomenon as follows: «The essence of the populism consists in the fact that it represents the interests of the producers from the point of view of the small producer, of the petty bourgeoisie».

Also in the US emerged in 1891 a populist party, the People’s Party, that had its social base among the mass of the white small farmers indebted and outraged for the increasing social inequality in a society in which was growing up the dominion of the financial capital.

Today’s populism is not the same as that of the XIX century. It rises under different historical and social conditions: from a phase of development of monopolistic capitalism to a phase of aggravation of the general crisis of capitalism. But, despite differences due to different historical conditions, in the essence the fundamental objective of populism is, today as yesterday, to stop, to brake, to divert the popular masses, in first place the proletariat, from the conscious and organized struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

Today in Europe this political phenomenon has different variants y organizational forms. In the same country populism can assume different forms sometimes competing against each other, as a result of the profound economic and political crisis that invested all the countries in the last decade, producing deep social inequalities among broad sections of the population, particularly the popular ones, including medium and petty bourgeoisie.

The spread of the populist propaganda is tied up to the worsening of the conditions of life and work of the masses, to the depth social impact of neoliberal and austerity politics, to the crisis of legitimacy and authority of the bourgeois institutions, as long as to the internal contradictions and fractures that emerge in the ruling classes.

The political success of populism is direct consequence of the crisis and the political, moral and electoral decadence of the old liberal and social democratic parties. When there is no independent and revolutionary workers’ movement, populists fill this political space.

Populism develops itself in a period in which the “social compromise”, the system of class collaboration among bourgeoisie, trade unions and industrialists (that it is at the base of the “Welfare State”) weakens more and more. This instigates wide movements of protest in which act the populist, extreme right, fascist and Nazi groups.

Populism is an expression of the deep crisis of the bourgeois democracy and its traditional forms of political representation, above all the reformist parties that don’t offer any alternative to the neoliberal and don’t want to represent anymore the workers and people interests. At the same time, it is an answer of the bourgeois to overcome the “deficit of representation”, channelling the indignation and the anger of the popular masses towards its own political goals.

The ascent of populism is a result of the authoritarian and anti-popular measures applied by the ruling class and its liberal and social democratic parties, that dismantle the conquests and the democratic liberties of the workers, tighten the rights of the bourgeois parliaments, bury popular sovereignty, throw away national independence and intensifies repression against the workers and trade union movement. Also the “diktat” and the hypocritical accusations that come from the Brussels’ oligarchies strengthen populism.

The diffusion of populism is facilitated by the transitory, but deep-rooted, international, multilateral, defeat of socialism and by the difficulties of the recovery of the working class movement that today has little trust in itself, but also of the political, ideological, organizational weakness of the parties of the working class and the revolutionary movements in general.

The condition of the bourgeois society, because of the level reached by its contradictions, and the backwardness of the subjective factor of the proletarian revolution, facilitate the diffusion of pathological phenomenon as populism, a typical “senile disease” of imperialism.

THE POPULIST PHENOMENON IN EUROPE

The second decade of the XXI century in Europe has been characterized by a scarce economic growth, following the 2008 overproduction great crisis, and by the increase of political instability. Because of the consequences of the crisis and the cuts to the salaries, the pensions and the social expenditure, the social inequality and the poverty of mass grew, and among the working masses spread the precariousness of life and work. Also migratory pressure and terrorism, cleverly manipulated by the bourgeois media, have increased the feeling of social insecurity, while corruption, patronage and scandals undermined confidence in the traditional parties.

In this historical situation, in which “the old dies and the new cannot grow out” (Gramsci), have emerged in many countries, from the North to the South of Europe, new political forms to divert the popular masses, in first place proletariat, from the conscious and organized struggle against capitalism and imperialism that even if it appears as the “more democratic” maintains its reactionary nature.

Have grown stronger parties or movements of illusory or often reactionary protest against the oligarchies and EU, that offer some alternatives within the system, without presuming the revolutionary overcoming of capitalism. Their “hobbyhorses” are: the recovery of national sovereignty, the criticism to the interferences of the EU and the politics of austerity, the problems of immigration, the multi-culturalism, the responsibility of the banks in the crisis, the theory of the “plot”, the idea of the “treason” against the people, etc.

They are the new populist parties and movements, that in some cases quickly gained electoral ground in Europe and in some countries are already in government introducing authoritarian and reactionary change.

These parties begin to develop together with the implementation of the neoliberal politics by the “traditional” right or social democratic parties. The weakening of these parties, particularly the social democratic, but also of the old liberal parties, created a political vacuum which the populist parties have taken advantage.

The countries of East Europe, as Hungary or Poland, have been a culture medium of populism. Those countries have brutally gone from bureaucratic States directed by revisionist parties to “classical” capitalistic States that imposed their brutal neoliberal politics with the famous “shock therapy” programs, in the EU framework.

The populist parties that today govern those countries combine the anti-EU discourse (“EU  imposes us decisions that we no longer want” …), with xenophobic and racist politics. They also denounce unequal treatment practiced by the EU: the restriction of the “aids”, the rules that limit the social dumping that penalizes the companies of those countries; they complain about the haughty attitude of the EU and the great powers toward themselves, etc.

In Western Europe, populism spreads especially after the 2008 crisis. At first, there was an advance of its left versions (Podemos, Syriza); subsequently, progressed the right or heterogeneous versions (Front National, AFD, Five Stars Movements, etc.). In this period continuous to advance the reactionary populism. There are already right populist governments in Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Rep. Czech and Italy.

Today the expressions of populism in Europe are predominantly reactionary, with parties and movements that sustain chauvinistic, conservatives and xenophobic positions, like FN in France, AFD in Germany, the North League and the majority of the Five Star Movement in Italy, the Danish People’s Party in Denmark, FPO in Austria, Ukip in England, the True Finns, the Party of the Swedish Democrats, the N-VA in Belgium, the Party of the Liberty in the Netherlands, the party Order and Justice in Latvia, the party Law and Justice in Poland, the Bulgarian Gerb, the Hungarian fascistic-type party Fidesz and Jobbik, etc.

The phenomenon is not limited to the parliamentary parties, because exist social movements like “Pegida” in Germany, that belong to right populism.

The coming into power of Trump, a chauvinist and reactionary element, promoter of protectionism and the hard line against the migrant, has strengthened the wave of right populism in Europe.

In the populist conglomerate, we cannot forget the racists and fascist that try to hide their ideology behind rumbling declarations “in defence of the people”, against the “foreign invaders” that arrive in the different countries to steal the work of the native workers, against the immigrants that are “born criminals, rapists, drug dealers”, etc. Populism is actually the vehicle by which fascism penetrates among the masses.

“Left populism, which is characterized for a non-coherent refusal of the austerity politics, exists especially in the southern periphery of the EU: Spain (Podemos), Greece (Syriza), Italy (some sectors of the M5S and other groups).

SOCIAL BASE AND FUNCTION OF THE POPULISM

Populism has its mass base in the petty bourgeoisie, impoverished and marginalized economically and in term of political representation, deprived of its “social status”. In the countries dominated by monopolistic capital the petty bourgeoisie, especially the urban one, expanded for decades becoming an important factor of equilibrium and political stability of the “western liberal-democracies” (as a solid electoral source), and then suffered a fast process of impoverishment and political exclusion with the “globalization” and the 2008 crisis. The emergence of new industrial sectors as a result of scientific and technological advances also played a role in the weakening of the position of the petty and middle bourgeoisie.

The downgrading of the petty bourgeoisie, its crumbling (and on the other hand the rapids ascent of new and narrow privileged bourgeois groups), therefore, the breakup of this fundamental stratum of the bourgeois society, is the cause of the populist political earthquake.

It is important to understand the difference between the social base of this phenomenon, and the way in which the bourgeoisie use it. This base is a product of the crisis of the imperialistic system that strikes and disrupt vast layers of the society, particularly the petty bourgeoisie that leaves its traditional parties. This tightens the base of the bourgeois dictatorship.

Therefore, the ruling class meets series difficulty to maintain its dictatorship with the old methods, to the old parties, to the old men. It is in a position in which cannot apply the old politics in the old forms. The existing contradictions at domestic and international level push the ruling class to find to new forces and new methods of government. It must resort to demagogy and deception. It turns against what it created, against the old parties, at the cost to produce of political unbalances and shocks in its national and international institutions.

Populism is a response utilized by sectors of bourgeoisie in relation to a series of economic, social and politics demand of the middle classes that don’t find solution in the traditional parties. These sectors turned around the left bourgeoisie parties that represented wide sectors of the working classes and now are separating from their social base.

Today they need new political and electoral projects able to canalize the discontent of these social layers against an “enemy” (the elites up, and the migrants down), to prevent that it moves against the capitalistic system, the true enemy to combat.

Therefore, a new kind of bourgeois parties are required, suitable for the conditions existing after the 2008 great economic crisis, of the disintegration of the capitalism, of the destruction of the Welfare State, of the reaction and the preparation to the war. They are necessary as formulas of tactical adjustment in the different countries. From these needs are formed and fed the populist movements and parties.

Populism is necessary to the ruling classes to maintain their hegemony, filling the political vacuum created by the crisis of the old electoral domains; it is a sort of poor imitation of the great mass party of the left bourgeoisie due to their impossibility to represent, to absorb and to address in a reformist project the protest, the needs and the feelings of the middle class. This means that the populist phenomenon is not just an election anger.

Populism can be born from sectors and exponents of the middle classes, that want to increase their power receiving electoral support and riding the discontent of the classes and social strata affected by the crisis. But it quickly turns into a political force when the most reactionary groups of the bourgeoisie, the great industry, the bank, the institutional leadership intervene as organizing element. The line that guide populism when it is in power it is the line of the decisive forces of the bourgeoisies.

POPULIST IDEOLOGY, POLITICS AND LANGUAGE 

Populism is not a coherent and well-structured ideology. It is rather a political style, a weapon of political struggle used by bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties and movements that want to occupy political space in order to realize their objectives. This style is based on some ideological elements and uses forms of communication with stilted phraseology, disguised as “popular”, to try to unify and to mobilize social strata generally passive or discouraged.

1. The populists deny the existence of the classes and their mutual struggle, deny the historical development of the class struggle and the revolutionary function of proletariat as fundamental subject in the class struggle. They declare that society is horizontally divided in two homogeneous and opposite camps, the people and the elites (“us” and “them”). Hence the substitution of the traditional distinction right/left, with the bipolar scheme top/bottom.

2. For populists, politics is the general expression of the will of the people (the “ordinary people”, “people like us”) and of the nation, against the elites (“the technocrats of Brussels”) defined as privileged, corrupt and rapacious. People is designed as “national community” presented in a demagogic way as depositary of values and virtue totally positive. The populists appear as the only legitimate representatives of the people and the nations, the only ones that can interpret the sovereignty, the popular and national will, in opposition to the “external enemies”.

3. In terms of political action the populists appear as the “anti-party” (even if they are a party), opposed to the “old politics” and the “professional politicians”. They adopt political forms vertically structured (even if they sustain the “horizontal” organization, the “horizontality”) around a charismatic leader, professionally trained to realize “political performances”. The communication style is the direct and impassioned appeal to the people (especially the not organized social sectors), based on rhetoric and demagogy. They try to tune-in the mood of the dissatisfied masses disappointed by the other parties. They evoke social fears and take advantage of the need of social protection and safety against the globalization, the neoliberalism, etc. They concentrate the attacks against the elites, the “caste”, the “people of above”, and in some countries as Poland, Austria, Italy and others, against the “serious danger” that represent the migrants. The populists create false economic and social expectations, make promises of favourable measures for the masses, which cannot be realized because of the respect of EU treaties. They offer pragmatic, immediate solutions to the existing problems without aiming to the structural causes of the problems. The populists combine different forms and means of political communication: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Internet, the streets, the individual communication, the television, the newspapers, etc. They adopt a superficial language and slogan, techniques of verbal aggression, threats, provocations. The aim is always to conquer the sectors affected by the crisis and to mobilize them in the light of determined political objectives. The radicalism of the populists doesn’t respond to a program advocating the overthrow of the existing social and ownership relationships, but only the substitution of the government figures to apply reactionary measures (properly camouflaged).

4. The populists mix different ideologies, above all neoliberalism, chauvinism, racism and anticommunism, to coagulate reactionary political forces and to get a wider mass base. There is a particular combination of populism and bourgeois nationalism, that represents a great danger for the working class and the revolutionary process, and a factor for war preparation. The central theme for the affirmation of the populist chauvinism is the restoration of the “lost sovereignty.” The favourite slogan is “America first” (or France, Italy, etc.). The nationalistic component serves more directly the ruling classes in every country; the other variety of populism are to bring together the different currents, to conquer the masses and build political alliances.

The populist parties are fundamentally electoral parties with a versatile organization, ready to realize all types of alliances to go to the power without subvert the capitalistic system. They often use popular consultations or plebiscites, for delegitimize and modify something in the bourgeois parliamentary system. When the populists come to power they identify with the State (“we are the State”). They affirm that only strengthening the bourgeoisie State is possible to protect the interest of the people. They conceive themselves as the exclusive representatives of the popular will; they commit themselves to occupy the State apparatuses and to maintain the power in name of the “people”, excluding political opponents. Populist are profoundly anti-democratic, they refuse the political and moral legitimacy of other political forces, and look for the absolute monopoly of the political representation in the bourgeois system.

THE “LEFT” POPULISM 

As we have seen, there isn’t a single populism, with general concepts and a coherent ideology. There are different versions of right or “left” populism that all things considered serve in one way or another sectors of the bourgeoisie.

Although populist apply the same political style, there are substantial differences among them that should be taken in account.

The feelings that the different forms of populism arouse for mobilizing electors are evident: the fear of strangers, on the right; the hope in a best future and the solidarity, on the left. The right wing can be distinguished for the hate, the grudge, the egoism and the indifference; the left wing, in theory, speaks about “justice and the equality”, the defence of the Welfare State, the reception of migrants, the  ”participatory democracy”, the reduction of the differences of income, etc.

These differences express the duality of the petty bourgeoisie that is at the same time reactionary and progressive, in its own interests of the moment and its position regarding the capital. Insofar it is necessary to consider and analyse the different aspects of populism, without lumping everything together.

The petty bourgeoisie populists speak and pontificate about “the people”, “the public”, “the citizens” (avoiding words like “proletariat”, “revolutionary struggle”), always in ambiguous way, without specifying their objectives. They criticize the government in their own countries but their desire is to reach the bourgeois parliaments through elections. In their electoral programs and calls they never mention the need of a regime change or of a social revolution.

In any electoral program they expose a change of the system, on the contrary they want to improve the actual one. If they set out some change in the electoral laws, it is on secondary aspects and above all to obtain modification that allow them to increase the number of the parliamentary seats. Nothing about the proletariat, absolutely nothing, except some catchphrases, out of context.

Regarding the trade union struggle, generally speaking, their tactic is pure and simple talking, aimed at getting position of responsibility in the apparatus; if they don’t achieve it, they underestimate or abandon this struggle of primary importance, ignoring the famous warning of Lenin:

«To refuse to work in the reactionary trade unions means leaving the insufficiently developed or backward masses of workers under the influence of the reactionary leaders, the agents of the bourgeoisie…».

Left populists don’t theorize and don’t explain the reason of their behaviour regarding the struggle against reformist trade unionism; they don’t consider, or underestimates, that in the trade unions, despite the opportunist leader, there are a good part of the advanced proletariat. But for the populists, of all kinds, what ambiguously matter  are the “people”, “those below”, not the proletariat.

The confusion of the left populist leaders about the political and ideological references, is meaningful: some call themselves “Marxist”, others “leftist”. They criticize the excesses of the neoliberalism to promote a “democratized” capitalism. Under no circumstances they include the demolition of the dominion of the financial oligarchy and the capitalism.

A trait of the left populists of the imperialists countries is that they deny the imperialist character of their country. They disconnect the question of leaving EU from the question of the proletarian revolution to break the imperialist yoke. They propose new «alternative areas» between imperialists and capitalistic countries.

They don’t recognize the responsibility of its own bourgeoisie in the gestation and apparition of the serious actual situation, but only that of the Troika, or of other imperialists ruling classes. In their view the principal enemy is always «out of the country». They objectively act as crutches to help their bourgeoisie, they look for alliances with sectors of the ruling class, hiding or minimize class antagonisms.

The left populist groups don’t develop a Marxist class analysis, but they look at the existing class contradictions from a cross-class and sociological point of view.

They place at the same level the reactionary sectors of the medium bourgeoisie and the oppressed and exploited sector of the petty bourgeoisie, that can be immobilized or detached from the ruling class.

Left populists refuse revolution and socialism and look for a “third way” on which they inevitably slip in the reformist quagmire; they compete in the field of the bourgeoisie. Moreover, they systematically fall into the nationalism, ready to make the national unity with the ruling class in «emergency» situations.

Left populism develops a particular function: to divert the working class and the popular masses from the conscious struggle against the capital power in its different expressions.

The purpose of this form of populism is to prevent the development of a revolutionary mass movement directed by the proletariat, to prevent the workers and popular masses get class revolutionary conscience. Therefore, the effort of this kind of populist is to address the worker’s and popular demands toward objectives compatible with the capitalistic society.

POPULISM AND WORKING CLASS

Populist movements especially address to the middle classes, reflecting their interests and points of view. However, they also develop a demagogic policy toward the workers, particularly the lower strata, less organized and more exploited. A policy that combines the most cynical social demagogy and a fake patriotism.

Populist deal with the workers and popular protest in a historical period in which the class conscience of the working masses is to a low level and in which the class struggle doesn’t necessarily assume the “left” traditional forms and aspects.

Populism has an important role to play for the bourgeoisie: to keep away the working class and the popular masses from the revolutionary way in a phase in which there are the objective conditions for their recovery with a revolutionary perspective. In other words, they brake and delay the development of the subjective factor, particularly the class organization, creating false expectations about reactionary social programs and characters.

In close connection with neoliberal dogmas, the populist parties disorganize and de-legitimize the workers and  their organizations, as well as they break up the traditional parties. The line of the populist parties is to “wash their hands” and “not intervene in the conflict between work and business”, is the line of the “uberization”, often with the protest of the defence of social sectors excluded by the trade union representation. They attach the trade unions as elementary organizations of the working class, as well they deny the classic organization of the workers’ mass parties. They act to prevail individualism and corporatism, the “reforms without negotiations” rejecting the role of the trade unions.”

On which element populism catch the workers?  On real needs, minimized by the traditional liberal and reformist parties: the poverty among workers, the insecurity of life and work, the need of social protection, the income for the unemployed; the demand of decent pensions; the high taxes; the corruption of the ruling classes; the dominance of the financial oligarchy; the increasing of the social gap; the competition produced by the overexploitation of the foreign workers, etc. Of course, populists propose reactionary and fictitious answers to these problems, without questioning the pillars of the system of exploitation.

Populism cleverly exploits the resentment, the malaise and the anger of the workers and the unemployed and precarious youth people. The workers vote the populists parties for two main reasons: the false hope that they will resolve some problems; to punish the reformist parties responsible of the anti-popular measures of austerity, of the shameful class collaborations. This determines that the right populists can easily take advantage of the expectations and the protest of the workers, just like the hate against the oligarchy, sometimes using left slogan and demands.

GUIDELINES FOR WORK AND STRUGGLE

The (m-l) communists’ struggle against the populism cannot be confused with the struggle of the bourgeois and reformist parties conduct against populism. It’s based on ideological and political principles and contents completely different and opposite, and it needs to be daily developed with an effective method to win the advanced workers and to move the broad masses on revolutionary positions.

This struggle is against the reactionary ideology and the practice of the petty bourgeoisie that constitute a serious obstacle for the development and the diffusion of scientific socialism in the exploited and oppressed masses.

To develop this struggle, we have to see populism as an obstacle for the development of the working class movement and to constantly denounce it for the function that it develops to save the capitalistic system.

Populism cannot suppress the contradictions between bourgeoisie and proletariat, the contradictions between the class content of its politics and the needs and aspirations of the working class, just as cannot delete the contradictions among the ruling classes.

When populism come to power the State doesn’t lose its class nature, the exploitation doesn’t decrease, but it increases; the pressure on the working class grows, the achievement and the rights of the workers and their organizations are a constant target of the populists; the repression and the violence of the capitalism increase. This means that populism doesn’t mitigate the class contradictions, but deepen them.

Since populism appeals to the “people”, the struggle against the populist and nationalist ideology and politics shall be conducted in the worker and popular movement. The real problem is to contend the influence and the hegemony of the populists in our camp, with an extensive mass work, without hiding the nature and the aims of our Parties.

To develop this struggle is necessary to establish a close link between the political denounce and the concrete and urgent demands of the workers and the unemployed, adapted to the actual level of conscience and the sentiment of the oppressed and exploited masses.

We have to counter the populist demagogy with a communist propaganda developed in simple and comprehensible way for the workers and the young proletarians, the women, the poor people, putting their true interests to the centre of our action.

In front of the growth of populism and fascism, is essential the work for the development of the unique proletarian front and of the popular front.

The tactic of unique front of workers’ struggle against capitalism, is the keystone to fight against populism, its cross-class and collaborationist policy. Every step we take to realize the unity of action among the workers against capitalism, is a step to unleash broader and decisive struggles.

Populism should be persecuted on its own turf, for example on the electoral promises, especially if it came to power. It’s our duty to unmask populist demagogy, the lies of their leaders, to show to the working class that they are the old policy with a new-look, that their purpose is to be at the table to maintain the system of capital.

We must condemn their subservience to the imperialist international institutions (EU, ECB, IMF, NATO, etc.), to the international anti-popular treaty, the agreement they reach with the imperialists powers and monopolies.

In our propaganda should be clarified the cross-class character of populism and its disastrous repercussions on the workers. We have to explain that at the “forefront” of its politics there are not the interest of the people, and still less the interest of the workers.

It is up to us to expose without mercy the populist demagogy and rhetoric, the falsehood of its popular-patriotism, of the chauvinist slogans that cover its anti-working class, imperialists and warmongering policy, showing that populists are deeply antidemocratic and anti-national.

The populist leaders in power have many weaknesses, because the capitalistic crisis tear off their demagogic proposals and economic measures and their offers to the masses begin to decrease; theirs “flag projects” fall and when they are forced to apply the traditional bourgeois adjustment policies to overcome the crisis they attack harshly the workers and the peoples.

For taking this work forward we need to go in the mass organizations, especially the trade unions, both for develop defence actions of the class organizations, and for discuss with the workers voting the parties populist, explaining their mistakes and illusions and working for uniting them in the common struggle with other sectors.

There is today a relative confusion among workers. We therefore need to draw a clear line between the electoral base and the populist leaders that we have to constantly attack. Our enemies are populist organizations, of extreme right, fascist, not the workers and the masses that vote for them.

An issue of great importance for our struggle is to formulate concrete and immediate class demands class, appropriate to the existing situation. To create platform and establish broad alliances around these demands are vital components of the action of struggle against populism.

At the same time is necessary a resolute struggle against political passivity and the wait-and-see policy, that manifest itself with phrases like “let them govern”, “let’s see how long they last” etc. This attitude facilitates the advance of the populist forces. Therefore, it is necessary to involve ourselves in the daily, militant activity, in the organizational participation to the workers struggles, using all the possibilities, even the smaller one.

Another remarkable aspect is the work to try to remove from populism sectors of petty bourgeoisie. To succeed in influencing these discontented and politically immature social strata is one of the most important problems of the struggle against political reaction.

It is necessary to elaborate demands with economic and democratic characters, in order to seek out allies of the proletariat and to isolate the reactionary and dangerous components of the petty bourgeoisie. We have to propose arguments and bright analysis for the urgent issues in order to convince workers that populism is not the answer to the existing problems.

We need to make an effort to realize fronts, or alliances, blocks, coalitions, etc. with popular character, antifascist and anti-imperialist, joining, under the direction of the proletariat, the impoverished workers of the city and the countryside (native and migrants), the masses of the oppressed nationalities, the genuine progressive and democratic forces, on the base of a program of specific demands of these sectors of workers, that are consistent with the fundamental interests of the proletariat.

In terms of tactic we have to take in account the difference of attitude regarding the right and the left populist movements, and the fascist groups and parties.

A reformist or opportunist organization, and an extreme right, or a fascist organization, reactionary through and through, are not the same thing, even if they all try to reach the popular masses.

With the left populist organizations is possible to converge in certain moments, on tactical, well-defined and concrete objectives regarding the issues concerning the demands and interests of the labouring masses. With the fascist no convergence is possible, but it is necessary to pursue a continuous ideological and politics struggle. What we need is to consider which class, or classes, they serve.

Although convergences should be realized with the left populist movements, it is not possible to generalize a common tactic for all these movements. Even if not everyone, in general these movements deny the essential role of the working class, deny or hide the proletarian class struggle; also those movements we can converge tactically in a concrete situation, do everything not to appear the name of the communist organizations.

It is evident that we have to be very clear in our approaches and to follow an appropriate tactic in every place or country, to carefully analyse the proposals and the positions, the demands and the democratic slogans of the progressive populist, that we have to develop accurately and deeply for the benefit of the working class.

It cannot be denied, it would be absurd, that these movements know how to take advantage of the ideological weakness of the masses, and in some situations they are able to influence them. This puts us the necessity to be very careful about the projects of the populists, and with ability and firmness support the fundamental demands of the working class and the popular masses.

We should ever take in consideration the fundamental question: the strengthening and the development of our parties and organizations, the construction of strong Marxist-Leninists parties.

We cannot argue with the populist movements accusing them not to be Marxist-Leninists, not to be real revolutionary parties.

This task must be carried out by the revolutionary parties of the working class, armed with the theory of scientific socialism. This is the fundamental factor of the struggle against the bourgeoisie and the reaction, including populism.

August 2018

(Document based on the debate on populism of the meeting of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations of Europe, in June 2018).