Felix Morrow

Stalin’s Fake ‘Left Turn’ Masks
Reactionary Foreign Policy

Radical Coating of New Comintern Line Serves Alliance with Hitler

(10 November 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 86, 10 November 1939, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Communist International openly and officially completed this week its transition from the “democratic” war camp to the Hitler-Stalin war camp.

Three documents sketch the “ideology” of the new line: a lengthy article by Dimitrov, a manifesto of the Comintern and – applying these to America – a speech by Browder (Daily Worker, Nov. 4–6). Every class conscious worker should study these documents, in order to understand to the full the latest infamy of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

The Stalinists made the transition from the “popular front” to the camp of Hitler in three jumps:

1. Aug. 23–Sept. 17 – Violent denials from the Stalinists that the Hitler-Stalin alliance would in any way change the popular front line. The British and French Stalinist parties issued declarations supporting their imperialist governments in the war against Hitler.

Here are some typical items from the Stalinist press of those weeks. “Maurice Thorez, general secretary of the great French party, has presented himself for military service with the army of France ... Thorez offers his life to defend the national security of France.” The Communist party of England vigorously proclaimed that it continues to work more actively than ever to help win the war against fascist aggression.” In America the Stalinists demanded “repeal of the false ‘Neutrality Act’, which now stands exposed as being the opposite of a ‘true neutrality.’ It is obviously not in America’s interest, not in the interest of true neutrality, that America shut off its trade with Poland, England, France, Canada, and Australia.” On Sept. 4 the American C.P. issued the following “slogans of action”:

“Full moral, diplomatic and economic help for the Polish people and those who help Poland defend its national independence.

“Embargo Japan and Germany for the defeat of, fascist aggression and for establishing a democratic peace.” (Daily Worker, Sept. 4–7)

Stalinists Used Same Trick in 1935

Unimpressed by all these violent assertions along the old popular front line, we predicted in the Socialist Appeal at the time that all this eyewash would soon be discarded in favor of a line supporting Hitler’s war program.

For we had Seen this same phenomenon before. In May 1935 the Stalin-Laval communique sealing the Franco-Soviet pact had been issued: the Stalinists hotly denied that it would change their attitude toward the French bourgeoisie, and as late as the Seventh Comintern Congress that Fall, Dimitrov was swearing that the French Communists would continue to vote against the military budget of the French government. Two months later, of course, the French Stalinists were voting for the military budget, for military loans to reactionary Poland, etc.

As in 1935, so in the recent months, the continuance of the popular front line for a little while after the Hitler-Stalin pact was a deliberate device to keep the duped members of the Stalinist parties on their old course until they could be presumably prepared to swing to the new course.

2. Sept. 18–Oct. 31 – The second stage of the transition. Support of the democracies was dropped, and with it all the previous slogans. The British, French and Canadian parties withdrew their previous pro-war manifestoes, Thorez deserted the French army, the American party withdrew its support of Roosevelt’s revision of neutrality legislation, the atrocity pictures of the effects of German bombings disappeared from the Stalinist press, etc. A “Declaration” by the Stalinists declared:

“The outbreak of the Second Imperialist War, which for years has been developing as a one-sided war, fundamentally changes the situation hitherto existing. All issues and alignments are being re-examined and re-evaluated in the light of these changes. The previous alignment into democratic and fascist camps loses its former meaning.” (Daily Worker, Sept. 19)

Violating All That Lenin Taught

How the character of the war could change upon its actual outbreak and become different from that of the war which had been preparing for years – this strange transmutation the Stalinists did not and could not explain. This “theory” – if one could dignify this scoundrelly alibi as a theory – was of course in direct violation of Marxist principles. “War is the continuation of politics by other (i.e., forcible) means” – this was the fundamental tenet of Leninist analysis of war. Imperialist countries could not but prepare for imperialist war. But the Stalinists had been hailing it as a “democratic war against fascism.” Their “theory” of transmutation had to be invented for the occasion to justify the flip-flop. In this period all the belligerents were characterized as “equally guilty for this war.” That formula lasted just six weeks, until the present documents provided the complete, finished line.

3. The line as now completed is an exact replica of the line as it stood prior to Aug. 23, except that the place then occupied by England and France is now taken by Germany. Then Germany was the “aggressor”, now England and France are the “aggressors”! Then the “peace-loving” powers were England and France, now Hitler is the peace-lover!

The same false methodology of making a fundamental distinction between the two imperialist camps is used today as before Aug. 23, only the distinction is now made in favor of Hitler.

Molotoff and Dimitrov Whitewash Hitler

Molotoff’s Oct. 31 speech officially indicated the new line.

“Today, as far as the European great powers are concerned, Germany is in the position of a State that is striving for the earliest termination of the war and for peace, while Britain and France, which but yesterday were declaiming against aggression, are in favor of continuing the war and are opposed to the conclusion of peace. The roles, as you see, are changing.” (Daily Worker, Nov.  1)

This estimate received its full-dress formulation by Dimitrov, two days later. He developed a “theory” of “two stages” in the war. “In the first stage”, Hitler was the aggressor.

“Now, on the other hand, the imperialists of Britain and France have passed over to the offensive, have hurled their peoples into war against Germany ... it is the British and French imperialists who have now come forward as the most zealous supporters of the continuation and further incitement of war.”

The manifesto of the Communist International, in accordance with this theory of “two stages”, directs all its fire against the democratic imperialists and has not a word of criticism of Hitler! Having served its purpose for six weeks, the view that all the belligerents are “equally guilty” is now dropped. Now only France and England are held to be culprits.

Comintern Struggles on Hitler’s Behalf

The manifesto calls for struggle against England and France – but not against Hitler. Its formulations are carefully tailored for his purpose: “Take a stand against those who favor continuation of the war” – and the Comintern says that Hitler is for peace. “No support for the policy of the ruling classes directed towards continuation and spread of the imperialist slaughter.” But, by obvious implication, support for the policy of the ruling classes directed against continuation of the slaughter, i.e., support for Hitler. Such are the key slogans of the manifesto of the Comintern.

Browder, applying the line to America, repeats it like a phonograph record. “At this moment,” he says, “the responsibility for continuing this war lies, before all, upon the British and French imperialists.”

We have cited the sections of the latest documents which make clear what the new line means: support of Hitler, masked as support of his “peace” policy. However, even dressed up with the “two stages” theory of Dimitrov, that line would be too unpalatable a dose for even the members of the Communist parties, hot to speak of the impossibility of selling this line to the masses outside the Stalinist organizations.

Sweetening Stalin’s Peppery Dish

The line is therefore encased in radical language such as the Stalintern has not employed since 1933. It is offered in a casing of talk about the “socialist revolution”, the “bankruptcy of capitalism”, etc. This radical verbiage has no other function than to serve as sugar-coating, as ornamentation, to the decidedly bitter, utilitarian core: support of Hitler in the present war. The radical coating is what the judges call obiter dicta: words and opinions which are irrelevant and separable from the practical conclusion which is embodied in a judge’s decision.

The radical sugar-coating is, indeed, in flagrant contradiction to the practical conclusion reached. For example, Dimitrov quotes this from Lenin: “The character of the war depends not on who attacked and on whose side the ‘enemy’ is, but on which class is waging the war, what policy is being continued by the given war.” If this very correct quotation from Lenin were more than sugar-coating for the document, it would be impossible for Dimitrov to go on to talk of two stages, in one of which Germany was the aggressor and the present one in which England and France are the aggressors. For what is Lenin saying? He is denying, repudiating, the concept of “aggressor”; he doesn’t care who attacked.

For this very reason, Lenin refused to make any distinction between the two warring imperialist camps. That Germany made peace with the Soviet Union in March 1918, and that a few months later both Austro-Hungary and Germany were seeking peace while the Allies pressed for a victorious conclusion – this made no difference whatsoever to Lenin in characterising both camps as imperialist warring camps, and calling for class war against both camps. Dimitrov has the effrontery to quote Lenin for window-dressing, all the better to advocate a policy which is the opposite of that which Lenin advocated!

The radical sugar-coating is also in flagrant contradiction to the truth. “The Communists”, says the manifesto, “have always fought against such a war. They warned the working people again and again that the ruling classes were preparing a destructive and bloody slaughter for hundreds of millions of people.” But as late as Sept. 17, a few short weeks ago, the Stalinists, as we have seen, were still touting this war as a war for democracy!

Why the Press Passes This Counterfeit

The radical sugar-coating resembles the revolutionary policy of Lenin just about as much as the commodity sold in a house of prostitution resembles love. The Stalinists are, nevertheless, not alone in peddling this counterfeit as the real coin. They are being ably supported in this obscene business by the capitalist press, “Reds urge world revolt”, says the New York Times headline, and the other papers differ only in being more sensational. Why are they so insistent upon helping the Stalinists pass off this counterfeit? For one reason only: the Stalinists are hopelessly vulnerable to repression, being identified by the masses as a tool of Hitler; the Stalinists are labelled revolutionaries by the capitalists, precisely in order to assault all real revolutionaries. As the Stalinists made an amalgam between revolutionaries and fascists in order to destroy the revolutionaries in the purges, the capitalists are making an amalgam between Stalinists and revolutionaries in order to attempt to destroy the revolutionaries.

A Balance Sheet of the Peoples Front

The capitalists are everywhere on the offensive against the revolutionaries. This is a period of stark reaction, no question about it. That it is such a period, the Stalinists have made possible as far as lay within their power. In closing their books for the peoples front period, the Stalinists are constrained to mention all their former partners in crime. Browder says: “The president and his administration ... makes use of its former prestige among the masses to secure their acceptance of the program of Wall Street.” But who provided Roosevelt with his “former” prestige? Who contributed more zealously than the Stalinists? Who concealed his every crime until today? Who called his WPA slashes the work of others, who supported his “neutrality” and armament program, marshalled the trade unions under his banners, etc.? Dimitrov says: “The Social-Democratic, Democratic and Radical flunkeys of the bourgeoisie are brazenly distorting the anti-fascist slogans of the peoples front and are using them to deceive the masses.” But the slogans are not distorted, they are the slogans of the peoples front – written by the Stalinists during the last five years, and the Stalinists, by uniting with these “flunkeys of the bourgeoisie” in the peoples front and the French government, gave these flunkeys a new lease on life, helped them smash the French working class.

“The peoples front tactics pursued in recent years”, says Dimitrov, “helped the Spanish, people to wage an armed struggle for two and a half years” – and, as history testifies, doomed that struggle to defeat. “It made it possible”, Dimitrov goes on, “for the proletariat of France to obtain considerable social gains” – where are the gains? The peoples front movement, Dimitrov has the effrontery to say, “made it possible to postpone for a time the outbreak of the European war.” Was that the effect of the peoples front votes – including the votes of the Stalinists – for military loans to Poland, for French armaments, for Daladier as premier? The Stalinists change their line, but not its predominant characteristic: a fabric, of foul, brazen lies.

Thanks to the Stalinists and their Social-Democratic and bourgeois allies in the peoples front, the masses of Europe were delivered bound hand and foot to the war-makers.

Now the Stalinists change ... war camps. That is the only change they make: from one imperialist camp to the other.

The Third Camp

Against both these camps the irreconcilable war of the working class must be waged. Not in alliance with either of these camps, but in deadly conflict against both of them, will the masses of the world secure their emancipation from war and all the other evils of capitalism. Neither the camp of Hitler-Stalin nor that of Daladier-Chamberlain-Roosevelt! The third camp, the camp of revolutionary struggle against war – that is the place for the workers of the world.

Last updated on 19 April 2018