Joseph Hansen

March of Military Events

(January 1941)

Source: Fourth International, Vol. 2 No. 1, January 1941, pp. 9–14.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2006 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2006; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

The Battle of Britain

Britain, driven from the European continent, ravaged by continual waves of bombers, faced with defeat, now rests solely on the prop of aid from the United States. This aid, it is clear from a reading of America’s military experts, is intended to be great enough to hamper and weaken the pretensions of German imperialism to world hegemony; but not great enough to prevent the downfall of the British Empire. But these same experts fear that, due to the lag in militarization of the United States, Roosevelt will not be able to furnish sufficient aid in time to prevent a German victory in the Battle of Britain.

The present phase of the battle of Britain is struggle for mastery of the air. Germany holds the mastery with daily increasing superiority. The air bases of Germany form a semicircle about Britain from Norway to the coast of France, giving the German fliers much shorter distances to their objectives which in turn are concentrated in a relatively small area in comparison with the objectives of the British air fleet. A German bomber can carry three tons of bombs to the English bomber’s one, the difference being made up in gasoline. The German bomber can remain for some time in the air over the objective, whereas the English bomber must dump his load as soon as possible in order not to run out of gasoline before returning to the home base. The German fleet is capable of proceeding in waves of approximately 500 planes to the British 150, which gives the German fleet a striking power of 1500 tons of bombs to the British 150 per flight, with the German planes capable of making many times more flights for the same number of planes.

This superiority of the German air fleet has resulted in terrific destruction in England – far more than the British censorship has permitted to leak out. At Coventry, center of automobile production where the Germans first began concentrating upon single industrial cities, more than 500 planes dropped 60,000 pounds of incendiary bombs and 1,000,000 pounds of high explosives for 10½ hours, that is about a bomb a minute. Such intensive bombing renders direct hits upon individual factories relatively unimportant, since electric power, gas, water, transport are so disrupted as to knock the factories completely out of service. The German attacks have so seriously interfered with production that even the conservative US News in its November 29 issue estimated that British armament production at that time had been slowed as much as 40 percent.

Equally damaging to the British situation are the shipping losses she is now suffering. These are in excess of her losses at their peak during World War I. The Nazis have developed a new technique of sinking convoys against which the British have been unable to date to devise counter methods. The Nazis locate a convoy as it nears Ireland and then make a combined air, surface, and submarine attack. “Whether or not the British can develop their counter-attack faster than the Nazis can develop the new technique in coordinated air-surface and sub-surface warfare at sea is the most vital problem confronting the Royal Navy,” declares the December 7 issue of the Army and Navy Journal, a semi-official organ. It is this new danger which accounts for the British anxiety to free the Mediterranean fleet and to obtain American battleships as convoy guardians.

At what moment Hitler will choose to make an attempt to deliver the knockout blow to Britain through invasion cannot yet be determined. Most likely it will come after further destruction of British industry and the British air-fleet, weakening of the British Empire through a drive on the Suez Canal and possibly Gibraltar. An attempt at invasion is considered inevitable by the military authorities of all the warring nations. If Hitler waits too long, Britain can become a great danger as Roosevelt’s war machine gears into top speed and utilizes the British Isles as a military base for operations in Europe. As for the technical difficulties, American military authorities are convinced that the German generals have worked out a feasible plan, probably poison gas followed by wave upon wave of mosquito boats, troop planes, etc. “It is this nightmare,” according to the Army and Navy Journal of December 21, “which is responsible for the greater activity the United States is planning to prevent its coming to pass.”

The weakened situation of Great Britain is graphically disclosed in comparative figures of steel production in England and Germany, according to Barrons, Wall Street economic journal, in its December 23 issue:

“Steel production Is an important index of a nation’s Industrial power. Consequently the spread of German domination over the metal manufacturing nations of Europe takes on a significance that can be measured in more or less concrete terms ... Germany’s steel ingot output a few years ago was less than 20,000,000 tons annually. The 1939 output in territory now controlled by Germany was almost exactly twice that figure, and capacity probably is around 50,000,000 tons a year. In addition, Italy’s output last year was more than 2,000,000 tons. “While most of this gain has been through conquest of neighbors to the east and west, the industry within Germany has been modernizing and expanding rapidly. Its capacity shortly may reach 30,000,000 tons a year. The total of 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 tons of steel capacity now at German command is three or more times Great Britain’s 1939 output... It compares with around 17,000,000 tons of ingot output in the entire British Empire last year.”

As the Army and Navy Journal of December 21 puts it:

“Britain is up against the inescapable effect that modern warfare depends as much on relative industrial productive capacity of the combatants as upon the strength of their armed forces.”

America as Britain’s Heir

The British ruling class has turned with increasing insistence to Roosevelt for aid in accordance with the secret promises made them. To the “isolationist” group among the American capitalists, especially prior to the last presidential election, the British pointed to their holdings in the Western Hemisphere which they had managed to hold almost intact through World War I: $350,000,000 in gold, $1,100,000,000 in American stocks and bonds, $1,160,000,000 in real estate, Canadian investments amounting to $2,750,000,000 and Latin American investments amounting to $5,000,000,000. The “isolationists” hoped to take over all these investments through sale of armaments to England before taking over the colonies when Germany had finished with Great Britain. It is now clear that Hitler played on the cupidity of the British capitalists and attempted to negotiate a peace with them on terms that would be easier than the cost of American aid. “Property groups in England,” declared the US News in its December 27 issue, “facing the alternative of peace or sacrifice of all investments to United States may press for peace. Sacrifice of all investments would leave the same question of ability to pay to be met in six months to one year.”

The arrival of Lord Lothian, British Ambassador from England, who died shortly after reaching Washington, apparently increased the fears of Roosevelt that Britain might make such a peace, and pressure for aid to Britain, leaving out the question of British investments in the Western Hemisphere, was increased. Roosevelt, representing the interventionist group of American capitalists, apparently considers the defeat of Great Britain inevitable, her colonies in the Far East and Australasia, and her holdings certain to come under American control. So he is playing to utilize what fighting ability is left in Britain in order to weaken the menace rising German imperialism holds for the world-wide interests of American imperialism.

The disintegration of the British Empire finds the British ruling class not only incapable of saving itself but even of formulating its war aims. It is going into defeat with its eyes shut, responding only with automatic reflexes that take the form of repression of the working class at home and imprisonment of the leaders of the colonial peoples who take an antiwar attitude. In the December 7 issue of The Economist, well-known British economic journal, there is a curious editorial that attempts to answer the question which the workers of England are asking with increasing insistency: what are we fighting for?

“Too precise a formulation of war aims might well get in the way of the one Indispensable condition for their realization – a British victory ... The British people do not need to be told what they are fighting for ... nervetheless ... We cannot afford, during the war, to be put on the spiritual defensive, to let the Nazis have a monopoly in New Orders or to let others be convinced that our only thought is to restore an unsatisfactory status quo.”

It is clear from this declaration that talk on the part of British government officials about “granting” a “socialist order” after the war is merely propaganda to counteract Hitler’s propaganda and to lull the working class into fighting on blindly for their masters. The Economist continues with the declaration that no war aims whatsoever can be formulated until a definite attitude is taken toward the German people in the event of a British victory. Shall it be “Repression” or “Reconciliation”? asks the editorial. The journal decides that “Reconciliation” is impossible, that the German need for “economic expansion” cannot be met, and that “Repression” likewise is impossible since it cannot be carried to the extent of “sterilising the German population.” Nor is a combination of the two possible. “But we shall have to choose one or the other.”

“So the question must be answered,” concludes The Economist, “and it cannot be answered without much deeper and more prayerful thought than has yet been given to it. Without an answer, any statement of war aims is likely to be mere beating of the air.”

The utter bankruptcy of British “democracy,” the hopelessness of the future facing the capitalist class was underlined by Joseph Kennedy, American Ambassador to England in an unofficial interview which cost him his job although he agrees with Roosevelt’s policy of aid to Britain. The interview was printed in the Boston Globe in November:

“Democracy is finished in England,” declared Kennedy. “If we get into war, it will be in this country too ... Great Britain is not fighting for democracy. She is fighting for self-preservation, just as we will if it comes to us ... If we enter a war we will lose democracy ... Everything we hold dear would be gone.”

In the coming period the workers in America will discover that the Ambassador did not lie when he said more “off the record” than the trade of capitalist diplomat permits.

Counter-Attack in the Mediterranean

The British, strangling in the grip of German domination of Europe, cast about for an avenue of counter-attack. Italy was obviously the nearest weak link in the Axis war machine. Wracked by the internal contradictions of his own regime, Mussolini himself provided the opportunity. To understand what is involved in the Greek and Libyan set-backs to the Italians it is necessary to understand the previous diplomatic moves made by Hitler – his conferences with Molotov, King Boris of Bulgaria and Foreign Minister Suner of Spain. The agreement reached at these conferences, which had the approval of Rome and Tokyo, are explained very well by the American military journals, who of course have special sources of information at their disposal.

According to the American militarists, Hitler proposed to sever the life-line of the British Empire at Gibraltar and Suez. In return for aid in attacking Gibraltar, Spain was to get part of French Morocco. In order to capture Suez, a German army was to have passage through Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania and Yugoslavia. In return for pressure on these nations to acquiesce, Stalin was to get the Dardanelles or an outlet to the Persian Gulf. Stalin in addition was to recognize Japanese conquests in China, thus freeing the Japanese army to move south to the Dutch East Indies and Singapore, with seizure of French Indo-China and a possible concession of part of this colony to Thailand for its aid. Stalin was likewise to advise Turkey to permit a German army to cross her territory. Bulgaria was to get a port on the Aegean sea at the expense of Greece.

The army of Metaxas, badly lacking in modem equipment, almost unequipped with aviation, was considered too weak to do anything but consent to the Axis plans. It even seems likely that Metaxas led Mussolini to believe that he would not resist invasion. However, as the Military Review, official organ of the Command and General Staff School of the American Army at Fort Leavenworth reports approvingly, Metaxas received his military education in Germany and was even called by the former Kaiser a “little Moltke.” He made a deal with the British and they prepared to occupy Crete and began landing troops in Greece.

The Italian push in Egypt, aimed at the Alexandria naval base and Suez, had bogged down along the African coast since mid-September, inviting a British counter-attack. On October 28, with lack of preparation and under other conditions, such as bad generalship and bad weather, reminiscent of Stalin’s first Finnish campaign, Mussolini launched his attack on Greece. The November 2 issue of the Army and Navy Journal declared it “very likely that Great Britain has ample force at hand to take care of the present situation,” and in subsequent issues warned its readers of the American Army and Navy officers’ staff not to be taken in by newspaper headlines playing up the “Greek” victories. The British had large forces in Greece and were deliberately playing down their own role in order to strike at Italian morale and to increase the effect of a set-back at the hands of a woefully weak nation such as Greece.

The Army and Navy Journal of November 23 ascribed the Italian defeats in Libya and Greece to “quality of Italian leadership both on the sea and in the air and the lack of fuel oil and aviation gasoline.”

The setback of Italian forces was greater than expected. This was due in no small degree to the unwillingness of the Italian soldiers to fight; reports of their singing the revolutionary song Bandiera Rossa give an indication of their mood.

The British fleet likewise gained some successes against the under-plated Italian fleet whose principal value is not so much ability to carry on a sea battle as to keep the British fleet tied up in the Mediterranean, what the militarists term a “nuisance value.”

In drawing the lessons of the Italian defeat, the Military Review declares that the Italians will launch a better prepared campaign. “... It is inconceivable that Greece can expect to continue to roll up her score of early successes,” and compares the campaign with Stalin’s campaign against Finland:

“The planning and the execution of the Italian campaign is highly reminiscent of the Russian campaign In Finland, and the results will undoubtedly be comparable to those of the Russo-Finnish war. Both Russia and Italy based their operations on what they considered the enemy’s intentions rather than on the enemy’s capabilities. Their agents in hostile territory appear to have overestimated the work done by their Fifth Columnists to create a state of unrest, coordinated opposition was not expected, and, as a result, security measures, particularly essential in mountain operations, were neglected. The consequences were disastrous, for entire divisions, both in Finland and in Greece, walked into traps from which they were unable to extricate themselves. The task of the weaker nation, in both cases, was further simplified by the failure of the invader to consider and prepare for unusual weather conditions.”

This cold-blooded comparison between the two campaigns does not mention a striking difference in the reaction of the world press to the two campaigns. As pointed out in the Socialist Appeal, the bourgeoisie defended Finland rabidly. The entire press went into mourning with the final victory of the Red Army. The Greek resistance however provokes not more than secondary interest. The difference involved has its property roots. Involved in Finland was the socialization of the means of production – in Greece a secondary bourgeois military campaign in one corner of a World War. The world bourgeoisie understand very well that Mussolini cannot expropriate the means of production, even if he should succeed in a second campaign. On the other hand his defeat in this theater of the war is not considered of first rate importance by the opposing imperialists. Barrons for December 23 puts it rather neatly:

“If present plans are carried out, the United States would be able to provide tremendous aid to Britain by 1942. In view of this possibility, will Hitler try to end the war in 1941 by waging another lightning-swift campaign? If he has such a plan in mind and is conserving all his aircraft for that purpose, the defeat of Italy’s land forces might not be considered a matter of vital importance, so long as Italy remained in the war and kept its navy in operation. However ineffective the Italian Navy may be, it is still useful to Hitler because it requires the British to keep in the Mediterranean a substantial number of naval ships that otherwise would be available for the defense of the British Isles.”

To the world working class what is of vital importance is the mood displayed by the Italian soldiers. For almost two decades they have borne on their backs the fascist regime of hunger, torture, assassination. Any beginnings of revolt among them can flash throughout the oppressed of the entire world as the signal for a renewal of the revolutionary wave which put an end to World War I.

Impending Clash in the Far East

The third member of the Axis, Japan, has recently adopted a change in her diplomatic tone toward the United States; but on the economic and military front she has not changed her objectives one iota. Nor can she. Weakest link at present in the imperialist chain, she faces social revolution if she does not continue her imperialist expansion. It is true that continued expansion only heightens her inward contradictions and generates greater energy for the explosion that will eventually blow her up from within – but the ruling class of Japan, like its brothers in the other imperialist nations, closes its eyes to that prospect.

Japan must dominate her oil supply which is located in the Dutch East Indies. She must dominate Indo-China with its valuable minerals. She must control China with its vast resources. She must control Singapore which carries with it control of the Far East. Consequently she has sent to Washington Admiral Nomura, a man considered friendly to the United States. This is diplomatic camouflage. At the same time she has signed a five-year agreement with Thailand, moved troops into French Indo-China, is negotiating with Moscow for a non-aggression treaty, is talking with the government of the Netherland Indies at Java over Japan’s economic interests there.

Roosevelt has answered by sending submarines, airplanes and destroyers to Singapore; by proclaiming such exports to Japan as iron ore, ferro alloys, airplanes and parts, aviation gasoline, scrap iron and steel under export license requirements, that is embargo. These moves by Roosevelt make it more imperative for Japan to move southward and thus bring the outbreak of military hostilities closer.

The withdrawals of troops in China were probably intended to show Stalin that Japan will agree with arrangements made in Berlin concerning the boundary of Japanese expansion in China. At the same time it is preparation for the move southward, or a flanking move against Chiang Kai-shek if the United States persuades the Chinese Generalissimo that American dollars are of greater personal interest to him than a treaty with Japan.

Prior to Japan’s signing the Triple Alliance with Italy and Germany on September 27, the British had tried to buy her off at the expense of the Chinese people. British troops were ordered out of Peking for the first time since the Boxer Rebellion 40 years ago, and out of Shanghai and Tientsin. The British government turned over 100,000 pounds of Chinese silver in the British concession at Tientsin to Japan, and closed the Burma road over which military supplies were being sent to the Chinese soldiers.

Japan responded by moving troops into French Indo-China, a move on the chess-board of the Far East toward the loot Roosevelt wants. The October number of The Pictorial Orient, overseas edition of Asahigraph, published in English, French and Spanish, describes Japan’s interest southward with remarkable frankness, although the Japanese press is one of the most strictly controlled in the world:

“Assuming more importance with each new twist in the complicated world situation, the Netherlands Indies is being closely watched with interest by all major powers. The fabulous wealth of the islands is like a powerful magnet to the rest of the world, particularly in this day when wars are fought for rich economic stakes. And no nation is more vitally interested in the future of the rich colony than Japan, which by reasons of geographical and economic proximity is tied inextricably with it. To Japan, its tie-up with the Netherlands Indies is of tremendous importance, especially since the United States threatens to cut it off from America’s vast markets and source of supplies. To offset this threat, Japan is forced to look elsewhere and the only satisfactory answer in sight is the Duth islands in the south Pacific.”

Oil, tin, rubber, nickel, tungsten constitute part of the “fabulous wealth” for which the United States will presently war with Japan. Already the Japanese government has instituted blackout drills for the major cities, apparently in preparation for a Yankee attack. On October 31, dance halls were banned, and a move instituted to popularize a national uniform to economize on material and labor in preparation for the pending war in the Far East.

The isolation of Japan, the difficulty of the language, make it very difficult to get information concerning a possible revolutionary movement. Indirectly, however, it is possible to gain an inkling of how the monstrous war strain is affecting the population. The army in China more than once has given indication of rebellious tendencies, news of which seeped into the world press. But from Asahigraph we can get a glimpse of what is going on behind the insular isolation in Japan itself. The November issue reports:

“One conspicuous fact in connection with the new alliance is the absence of popular demonstration and the prevalence of sober, even chastened mood which the report of the new alliance has so far evoked. In the first place the time is inopportune for festive manifestation of any sort; even birth and marriage in private life are celebrated with nothing like jubilation.”

A danger sign to the Japanese ruling class of the utmost gravity!

“Country folk have been flocking to the urban industrial centers in great numbers since the outbreak of China hostilities.”

Is this because of high wages in the industrial centers, or because the war strain is ruining the country districts? Asahigraph boasts of the efficiency of the census taken on October 1 at midnight when everyone was instructed to be at home, and prints a photograph with the descriptive caption: “At the stroke of midnight census-taking squad raids a community of tramps and beggars in one of Tokyo’s parks.” What poverty that produces communities of tramps and beggars in the parks!

The Military Review for December 1940 reports the following concerning Japan:

“According to investigations conducted by Asahi, the cost of living index in Japan for July 1940, was 253.7 (July 1914 being taken as 100). Compared with pre-Chinese War times, the price index shows an average advance of 31.9 percent, the most conspicuous item being a rise of 64.6 percent in the price of clothing. Indices for the various items as compared with July, 1937, are given below:


July 1937

July 1940


Food and Drink








Heating and Lighting
















Small wonder that the Japanese people did not respond with “jubilation” to the new Alliance. The revolution may well make its first explosion in the East before it extends to the West.

US Entry Draws Near

Chiang Kai-shek asks for a “loan” of $200,000,000 for continued opposition to Japanese imperialism. He receives $25,000,000 on the line with a promise of more, pending guarantees of his proper behaviour in the interests of Wall Street. Roosevelt stiffens the backbone of Retain by proposing Pershing, head of the last expeditionary army, as Ambassador to France with Admiral Leahy as actual substitute. Petain’s backbone stiffens enough to dismiss Anglophobe Laval – US backing means a possible better deal with Hitler. Roosevelt holds up a proposal of the Red Cross to dispatch 10,000 tons of wheat to the starving people of Spain pending assurances from Franco that he will remain nonbelligerent for a while longer. “If assured that the Madrid government would not participate in the war,” says the Army and Navy Journal for December 14, “the wheat would leave at once for distribution among the Spanish people.” Finland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Central Poland facing famine and pestilence with the prospective loss of millions of lives are denied relief although the necessary stock of food, according to the same issue of the Army and Navy Journal, “even if it were all seized, would be less than three days’ food supply for Germany and this could have no importance in prolonging the war.”

Vice-President Wallace was sent to Mexico on a “good will” expedition with the hope that he will prove a greater success in popularizing Roosevelt’s regime among the Latin-American people than he did among the Middle-West farmers; and the diplomatic conversations continue for air and naval bases in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic to supplement the bases already obtained from Great Britain. At Valparaiso the Ministry of Defense has given final approval to plans of a privately owned Chilean-United States company to build a $5,000,000 drydock capable of accommodating the new heavy battleships which are to be added to the United States fleet. When damaged in the South Pacific in the coming battles with Japan, these battleships can be repaired without returning all the way to the home base. Opposition to these moves of US imperialism on the part of the Latin-American people is being smoothed over with heavy loans to the South American dictators.

In the Far East Roosevelt is bidding for bases in Australia and New Zealand as well as at Singapore and is making heavy efforts to concentrate maximum fleet strength in the path Japan must take when she starts moving southward. He is likewise buying up Australian wool and the rubber and tin of British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies far in excess of immediate needs.

Convinced that Great Britain has been in effect defeated and can now be utilized as a base for operations against the German imperialism without fear of thereby bolstering the British Empire, Roosevelt is now sending 80 percent of US combat planes to Britain, “has dropped all talk of payment for munitions, and is preparing to give convoy protection for armaments being sent across the Atlantic. The militarists are definitely in the saddle after years of planning precisely for the present war:

“Ever since the first World War,” declares the Army and Navy Journal of December 21, “the high commands of the Army and the Navy and Marine Corps have been dinning into the ears of Presidents and Congresses the basic needs of their respective services . . . Until the current European crisis began to unfold with all its horrors, they found their disclosures disregarded, their warnings unheeded, and their estimates cut. They were voices in the wilderness lost in the clamor of pacifists for disarmament. Facing the certainty that war would come, war which would roar upon American shores, they continued year after year to plan.”

And these military realists who hailed Knudsen’s Roosevelt-inspired disclosures concerning the “lag” in armament production continue:

“‘Berlin and Rome have greeted ominously the President’s arm loan program. It is in fact not new, it is merely an expansion of the policy of aid short of war to England, which the government has pursued since the outbreak of hostilities. We have turned over to the British, destroyers, planes, guns, rifles, etc. We have done this directly or through return of the material to manufacturers, who have sold it to England. Now the President has determined to do away with subterfuge, to implement openly and honestly his promises to England ... The axis powers now will realize that there will be no strings tied to our aid to England. Her military and naval needs are made paramount ... We will not be content to wait production to help her. We will even go so far, for example, as to purchase Danish and other merchant men tied up in American ports, and turn them over to her in order that she may not be starved into surrender. It is not too much to say, also, that if she needs additional money, that, too, will be supplied, perhaps through credits indirectly arranged by the Reconstruction Finance Corp. and the Export-Import Bank. Thus our aid to England has become direct and total, and commits us to her support until she shall achieve victory ...”

Throughout the United States the press considers that the definitive step, which Roosevelt will take to enter the war will be convoy protection, which most of the bourgeois editorial writers advocate as an immediate necessity. Here are some typical declarations:

“Without discussing the wisdom of a convoy system or deciding whether it is necessary or practical, it can be said that such a step would bring us immediately into the war. There can be no other result from that policy.” Jackson, Michigan, Citizen Patriot

“High administration officials are prepared to recommend that President Roosevelt ask Congress to repeal or modify the neutrality act so that American naval vessels may convoy American merchant ships to Great Britain ... a decision by the administration on the question of convoys for American shipping cannot be delayed long after the new Congress comes in next month.” Philadelphia Inquirer

“Entry of the United States into the war without reservation ... German U-boats and airplanes are attacking British convoys ... if the United States Navy undertook the burden of convoy duty, German U-boats and airplanes would necessarily continue the attack. Sooner or later American ships and American lives would be lost on one side, German submarines and German lives on the other. Both sides would then expand their activities to make them effective.” Springfield, Mass. Republican

“The time has come when the American Navy should be used to convoy merchant ships to Britain ... is the next logical step in our program to aid England by all means short of war, and it could be put into operation immediately ... The neutrality law also should be amended to permit American merchantships to carry goods to England. Why keep up a pretense of being neutral when we are not neutral?” Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Convoying British ships would not be neutral.” Milwaukee Journal

“Americans who imagine that they can sit back and let the British win the war for them, while they do nothing about it except what is cheap, easy and convenient, are living in a fool’s paradise. Keeping those sea lanes open is as vital an interest to the United States as it is to Great Britain, and if Americans expect it to be done they will have to put all their energy and boldness into the problem.” New York Herald Tribune

The Kiplinger Washington Letter, a high-priced inside information service “circulated privately to business men” which “prohibits” quotation makes some sensational revelations which have not appeared in the press designed for working class consumption precisely because they explain all the recent moves of Roosevelt and the bourgeois propagandists who aid him in his program of war:

“There are times when unpleasant truths should be blurted out, and this is one of those times ... A war-time economy is about to be imposed upon the nation, even before or regardless of actual entrance into the war. Harder work and more sacrifice for all ... is to be the slogan. Here is the situation as it is viewed by our government: England is in a bad way ... Peace or truce is unlikely ... Our government course is fixed against anything resembling ‘appeasement.’ In January or February a push for peace or truce is expected. Technically and formally our government is supposed to be open minded, but essentially the official spirit or mood is strongly against it. Roughly, tentatively, three periods are in the official minds: First, from now to March, a speed-up in production, voluntary. There will be some compulsions, but main reliance will be on voluntary. Second, probably in March, a crack-down by the government in the form of a declaration of the legal state of ‘imminence of war.’ This would give the President practically dictatorship over everything, and would establish a war-time economy in advance of war itself ... Third, actual overt war against the Axis, perhaps by mid-1941. This is less definite than the other two steps, but it is ‘contemplated’ and a ‘prospect’ for which plans must be rushed in the next six months. Of course most officials do not positively wish for war, but many seem to be coming to the conclusion that it is inevitable, and that the nation must prepare as if the prospect of war were sure.”

The international perspective of American imperialism, is a carefully planned entry into the World War to gain domination of the earth. At home, however, like the British and the Japanese, they do not see quite so clearly. The December 14 Letter says on this score:

“Outlook for years ahead is for deficits and mounting debt. No end is even faintly in sight. Even after the war (or the emergency), armament outpourings may be channeled into peace-time gov’t projects to prevent a crash, to provide a bridge. And so ... continuing deficits. To avoid a fiscal crack-up, there will be government regulation, controls of many sorts. They may work, but there’s no way of telling. Thus the war into which we now seem to be heading will mean quite a different sort of financial and economic system after the war. No one is wise enough to know just what it will be.” (Dec. 14 Letter.)

But it is clear to Marxists exactly what it will be: either fascism with all its horrors, or a social revolution and the establishment of socialism which will forever end the regime of the bourgeoisie with its hunger, crises, wars.

The USSR and the War

Stalin, destroyer of the October revolution, has been reduced to one of the most miserable positions in the field of international politics. Where the leaders of the October revolution, Lenin and Trotsky, published all the secret treaties of the imperialist powers and conducted the negotiations forced upon them by these powers in the full light of world publicity so that the international working class could understand what was happening and exert their pressure in favor of the Soviet Union, Stalin has engaged in secret diplomacy like any bourgeois diplomat and made secret deals behind the backs of the workers and at their expense. Not a word came out of the Soviet Union as to the nature and purpose of Molotov’s conversations with Hitler in Berlin.

If Stalin acquiesced in the recognition of Japanese conquests, as American militarists believe, Japan took advantage of the secrecy and signed a treaty with its puppet Wang Ching-wei, the terms of which, according to the December 7 Army and Navy Journal “far exceeded those revealed in prospect to Foreign Commissar Molotov when he was in Berlin.” To show his displeasure, Stalin ordered the GPU agent who is acting as his Ambassador in Washington to call on the State department and offer them the “reopening of an American consulate at Vladivostock.” It is to such utterly impotent gestures that Stalin has been reduced!

If Stalin hopes to stave off war and even make new territorial gains through converting Turkey into a second Poland, those hopes at best can be of only temporary nature. More likely, with its increasing weight on the European continent, German imperialism will itself attempt to take the Dardanelles and let Stalin content himself with a challenge to Britain and hence the United States through his acceptance of a port on the Persian Gulf. Until Hitler finally achieves his future military catastrophe, Stalin will find himself in increasing dependence upon his master and thereby in increasing danger. Hitler has not for one moment taken his eyes from the Ukraine. He will turn attention upon the Soviet Union when he has finished with Britain. Stalin may well find himself the victim of an agreement between the German and the

American imperialists before he has been given the opportunity to renounce his pact with Hitler and make a new one with Roosevelt. The danger to the Soviet Union grows with the progress of the imperialist war.

Degenerated, distorted, suffering from the totalitarian grip of the monstrous Stalinist bureaucratic growth, the USSR nevertheless remains the only nation in the world where the bourgeoisie are expropriated, where the means of production have been taken out of the hands of a small exploiting minority and nationalized. As such it remains a conquest of the workers. When the flames of World War II have engulfed the entire planet, when the imperialists scourge the face of the earth with famine, pestilence, and death, the war weary workers will turn to the example set by the October revolution. They will rise with unconquerable strength and launch the new socialist society. Their revolution will at the same time end the Stalinist bureaucracy. A new era of peace and plenty will open. The first glimmerings are already perceptible among the oppressed who have been dragooned to fight by the capitalist class of Japan, Italy, Great Britain, France and – the United States.


Last updated on: 4 April 2018