Michel Pablo

Korea and the “Cold War”

(September 1950)

From Fourth International, Vol. 11 No. 5, September–October 1950, pp. 137–142.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Korean events raise two principal questions which now demand an answer: what is the correct attitude, the class attitude to be adopted toward them; what are the perspectives of development of the international situation in the near future.

Who Is the “Aggressor”

It appears that an “aggression” occurred in Korea on June 25 and the only difference on this point between the apologists for the pro-American camp and those of the Soviet camp is the identification of “the aggressor”: North Korea instigated by Moscow or South Korea instigated by Washington.

The whole gamut of centrists and ultra-leftists in the international workers’ movement is clinging to this formal aspect of the events, seeking “the aggressor” and denouncing him. We specifically refer to the articles published to date on this question in Shachtman’s Labor Action in the United States, in the POUM’s La Batalla, in Monatte-Louzon’s La Revolution Proletarienne, the Franc-Tireur clique in France, the position taken by Fenner Brockway in England, etc.

The attitude of the Yugoslavs is more subtle but no less equivocal, but we will discuss it separately from the position of the above-mentioned groups.

Reading the angry prose inspired by the Korean war amongst most of these people, one is first of all struck by how far their Stalinophobia and eclecticism have removed them from the class standpoint and have led them to “forget” a fundamental fact in the Korean affair: namely, that this country was artificially divided along the line of the 38th parallel by the mutual agreement of Moscow and Washington and that there can be no question of two “nations” in which one can be accused of acts of “aggression” or of “invasion” against the other. And consequently, the very allusion to the precedent of the attack upon Finland by the Soviet Union in 1940 is valueless.

How can any part of the Korean population whatsoever be reproached for opposing the arbitrary division of their country and for desiring to restore its unity? The independence and reconstruction of the country was at stake. A struggle for the unity of the country undertaken by any part of the population whatsoever, even from the purely formal standpoint of international law, could not be considered as an “aggression” or as an “invasion,” but simply – so far as it involves armed struggle, as is the case – as a civil war.

A civil war involves hostile classes and hostile interests. To take a position in regard to a given civil war, it is necessary to analyze the character of the social forces involved and their aims:

Who fights whom, and why.

Social Geography of Korea

A knowledge of social geography is necessary for every political writer or spokesman. Korea is a distant country which up to now has attracted very little international attention, but its present social structure at least ought to be very clear to all those who have denounced the “aggression” and “invasion” by North Korea. In the “People’s Democracy” of North Korea, the feudal-capitalist elements were eliminated, an agrarian reform was promulgated and the government, taken over by the Communist Party, still enjoys if not support at least expectant toleration of the masses, the poor peasants and workers.

In South Korea the feudal-capitalist class had the upper hand and the police were the principal prop of Syngman Rhee’s regime. The advanced state of corruption and disintegration of this regime is beyond doubt: This has even been recognized by a number of American and pro-American spokesmen and confirmed by such facts as the elections which took place only this year.

The scope of the partisan movement which developed in the South even before hostilities, as well as the military debacle which overtook this regime at the very beginning of the war, has confirmed its advanced state of decay which was comparable to that experienced by Chiang Kai-shek’s regime in the latter stages of its existence.

Thus, on the plane of the alignment of social forces at the beginning of hostilities in Korea, we are confronted by the following: considerable masses of poor peasants and workers on the one side, attracted by the Korean Communist Party under the banner of unity and independence for Korea; feudal-capitalist elements surrounded by American military-police forces and some insignificant sections of backward peasants on the other. Syngman Rhee’s army which, according to its American instructors, was “the best army in Asia,” began to crumble and crack up because the South Korean soldiers had no desire to fight for the feudal-capitalists of Seoul and their imperialist masters, who entered directly upon the scene by dispatching American forces stationed in Japan.

At this juncture the Korean civil war became combined with a direct aspect of colonial and anti-imperialist war.

The revolutionary aspect of this war is not less important. It began as a national civil war, for the unity and independence of the country, and then developed into a revolutionary anti-imperialist war, which had to fight the inevitable coalition of native feudal-capitalists and foreign imperialists, as happened in China, Indo-China, and the Philippines.

More quickly and audaciously than in China or Indo-China, the North Korean leaders linked the purely military struggle to a bold social program, calling upon the South Korean masses to revolt, to organize themselves “everywhere” into People’s Committees [1] and to proceed to agrarian reform. This was to be carried through in the liberated territories of the South, according to the decision on July 4 of the Permanent Commission of the Supreme People’s Assembly, by the “confiscation of land without compensation and through free distribution of the confiscated land.” (New China News Agency Bulletin, July 11.) The same decision abolished a, series of taxes imposed by Syngman Rhee’s regime and considerably lightened others.

The results of this program and these revolutionary decisions have been incontestably manifested in the scope of the mass support everywhere encountered by the North Korean army as it descended upon the South. It is this support which lies at the base of its resistance, its victories and explains the surprises that were in store for American strategy when confronted by a revolutionary war of this type.

Blinded by the Glare from Moscow

To declare that this aspect of anti-imperialist and revolutionary war is only of “secondary order,” as the POUM’s La Batalla (July 19) writes, or is of a purely “formal” character and “completely” devoid of all content, as the pretentious prose of certain ultra-leftists asserts, means turning one’s back upon the mass movement of millions of people which is shaking all of Asia and all the colonial countries and which constitutes the most important revolutionary factor at the present time.

But, these haughty observers of history reply to us, what do you make of the role of the Kremlin and of Stalinism in all this? The Korean war, they say, is above all an episode in the “cold war” between Washington and Moscow, the former manipulating Syngman Rhee and the latter Kim Ir Sen. To consider the North Korean war just and progressive, to support it. is to play Moscow and Stalinism’s game and to facilitate it, write our prophets of the new “bureaucratic” era which is supposedly being erected over mankind “to extend the orbit of Russian domination and the regime of bureaucratic capitalism.” (Socialisme ou Barbarie, Aug.–Sept. 1950.)

That is the essence of the argumentation of all those who, even in the best case when they do not go so far as to applaud “the energetic action” of American imperialism and its UN cover in Korea (Revolution Proletarienne), content themselves with adopting a “neutral” attitude toward the “two” Koreas.

Logic has value only to the degree that it is capable of generalizing without thinning into empty abstractions the essential points, the fundamental factor of a phenomenon. It is easy to see nothing in the world today except the direct or indirect action of two gigantic organized forces: the Soviet bureaucracy and American imperialism. But, to go further and believe that these forces alone are creating and orienting contemporary history and that history unfolds according to their plans, is a big jump for anyone who is uninclined toward a metaphysical conception of history and has no taste for a divine Providence resembling the conceptions of a Bishop Bossuet.

The experience of the Korean war, which has radically upset the political and military strategy of the United States, has already served to demonstrate that this colossal power is seized by the contradictions of the planet that it aspires to govern – contradictions which are far beyond the understanding of the ruling class and even the means at its disposal. We will return later to this aspect of the question.

The Soviet bureaucracy, because of its different social nature, and despite its material and technical inferiority in relation to American imperialism, has a better grasp of social forces and can exploit them better to its advantage.

But neither the United States nor the Soviet Union creates these social forces and determines their fundamental historical course. The crisis of the capitalist system in the metropolitan countries and the colonies is not the product of the Kremlin’s machinations nor are its dynamics determined by the Kremlin. Both are above all determined by the nature and the evolution of the capitalist system. The crisis of Stalinism, on the other hand, is not determined by Washington but by the nature and evolution of Stalinism.

Progressive Character of Colonial Struggle

To return to the colonial aspect of the crisis of capitalism, it is absurd to attribute everything that has happened in this domain since the last war to the Kremlin and not to understand above all, the profound, necessary and progressive character of the mass movements in the colonial countries which, in one unprecedented blow, are simultaneously smashing the chains of feudalism, parasitic native capitalism and imperialism.

This movement is necessary, that is to say, it has been prepared by the entire previous evolution of the colonial countries and no one is able to stop it. The only possible revolutionary attitude is to participate in this movement of the colonial masses and to struggle within it against its exploitation by the Soviet bureaucracy. But the primary condition for realizing this possibility is the unconditional defense of this movement against the native feudal-capitalists and above all against imperialism. It is impossible to imagine a better scheme for political suicide than that which consists in telling the colonial masses who are rising up against imperialist domination by the millions especially throughout Asia, that they will be supported only on condition, as the POUM’s La Batalla says (forgetting its own struggle in Republican Spain) that they are not headed by Stalinist or Stalinized leaderships but by “revolutionary governments independent of Moscow”!

To condemn these movements, to ignore them, to minimize them, to maintain “neutrality” toward them because they are directed by Stalinist leaders means in reality to condemn, to ignore, to minimize, to maintain “neutrality” toward the whole of the class struggle and the colonial and anti-imperialist struggle in our epoch.

Further the movement of the colonial masses is not merely necessary in the sense we have already explained. It is at the same time basically an extremely revolutionary and progressive movement from two points of view: (1) it destroys forever the equilibrium of the capitalist system and plunges the latter into a permanent and ever worsening crisis; and (2) to the degree that the anti-imperialist revolution spreads throughout the world and the crisis of capitalism deepens, the world revolution is strengthened and the regime of the Soviet bureaucracy, despite contrary appearances at the first stage, is undermined at its very foundation.

Events confirm this conception of the entire situation and of the historical process. The mass movement in the colonial and semi-colonial countries broke out everywhere after the war with a power so one had anticipated, not even the Stalinist leadership itself. The impetus of this movement dragged the Communist Party much further than the Kremlin envisaged, influencing the independent development of these parties. This becomes clear upon a more attentive study of the developments of the Chinese revolution since 1936 and especially during the war.

Pressure on Stalinist Leadership

In Korea the mass movement was no less deep-going. No one can affirm with certitude that it was the Kremlin which initiated the unleashing of the operations against South Korea and not the leadership of the Korean CP impelled by the pressure of the masses and its own “leftism.” And no one yet knows the precise role played in these movements by Mao’s China which is not exactly that of a Moscow satellite on the order of the “Popular Democracies” of Europe.

A study of what happened in Korea before the “aggression” establishes that military operation came as the climax to an extended period of propaganda for unity by North Korea. On several occasions proposals were made by them for the “peaceful” unification of the country. These proposals were invariably rejected by Syngman Rhee and strongly contributed to the isolation of his regime from the masses who aspired toward the unity of the country. In such a situation as existed in Korea, with a regime disintegrating in the South, and the fever of unifying the country mounting more and more among the masses, who can affirm that the Korean CP leadership itself was able to resist this mass pressure without incurring the risk of being swept aside and that it was not on the contrary carried along by this pressure?

In China the compromise imposed by Moscow upon Yenan with the Chunking regime in 1946, to which the agrarian reform was sacrificed, was broken by the pressure of the masses themselves who began to seize the land. If the Chinese CP had not changed its policy at this time, it would have found itself cast aside by the masses and isolated from them.

In Greece, after the Varkiza agreement, the new partisan war was spontaneously begun by elements who did not want to accept this treasonable deal and the Greek CP leadership subsequently went along with this movement in order not to lose its base completely.

Naturally, the Kremlin seeks to participate in every movement of the masses and to exploit it for its own exclusive benefit. But that is not sufficient reason for condemning the movement itself, that is to say, condemning the class struggle and the struggle of the colonial peoples in our epoch.

Nature of Russian Aid

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the Kremlin is playing its own game in the Korean war against its principal adversary, the United States. But there is more than one major difference between Russian and American intervention. There are no Soviet troops in Korea, there are not even Soviet “cadres” directing operations. No proof has yet been furnished on this subject by the Americans or the United Nations despite their obvious interest in this point. Koreans are fighting against American imperialist and other troops. This fact is of major importance.

La Batalla, however, does not wish to be deceived: it knows that the “North Korean divisions are armed – and almost certainly likewise directed – by the Russians.” Other knowing observers of the specific expression of “the bureaucratic phenomenon in Korea” can only explain the resistance of the Koreans and the reverses that the “immense USA” has experienced up to now by the fact that behind North Korea there is “the power and strict control of Russia.”

The fact is, however, that Russia, up to now, as in the Spanish war, as in Greece, as in Indo-China, doles out its military aid in doses deliberately calculated to insure that victory will not ever be acquired at this price alone. What the Kremlin is aiming at in Korea will be pointed out later. Let us note for the time being that the tanks and other Russian armaments that the North Koreans possess have been paid for by the labor of the Korean masses and that they still for example completely lack airplanes even up to the present time. Their superiority over the Americans and their partners thus far consists above all in their superior morale and in the broad and deep-going support that this war has aroused among the population, in the revolutionary character of the struggle which has given the greatest surprises to the imperialists, producing the greatest discouragement and the greatest scepticism regarding the effectiveness of an action which was conceived purely along the lines of the classic military procedures against a people in revolt.

The Korean struggle must be placed in the framework of the immense mass movement of the colonial and semi-colonial countries which aims to throw off the yoke of imperialism and also of the native feudal-capitalists. At the present time this movement is the main revolutionary factor which is causing the ruin of the capitalist system and is powerfully strengthening the historical perspectives of the world proletarian revolution. It thus acts in the long run also against Stalinism, against the rule of the Soviet bureaucracy which is incompatible with the expansion of the revolution in the world and with the new possibilities for the organization and development of the world productive forces.

Moscow’s Strategy in Korea

We can only offer hypotheses on the role played by the Kremlin in the Korean war as well as on how it plans to utilize this war. Even if the Kremlin was actually the chief instigator of the “aggression” against Syngman Rhee’s regime, it is very probable that it did not foresee either the speed, the scope or the consequences of the American reaction. It probably counted upon a quick war which would easily overturn the Seoul decrepit regime.

But the moment the leaders in Washington decided to demonstrate in action the seriousness they attach to their policy of “upholding de facto situations” and not abandoning any position or any sphere of influence already held, it is possible that the Kremlin found an interest in exploiting the Korean affair in the same way as that of Indo-China or of Greece. It may have sought to create a new “focal point” which would involve the United States and its other imperialist allies in an exhausting war effort, disorienting their entire strategy, and which in any event would be disproportionate to whatever gains victory would give them.

Some European and American journalists, more adept at interpreting the game of the Kremlin, are evidently not wrong when they define Moscow’s strategy as dictated by a design to involve the United States in secondary but very costly military and political conflicts, while keeping the strength of the Soviet Union intact. This conception not only seems logical but conforms to the interests of the Soviet bureaucracy. Every minor conflict it can drag imperialism into, like that of Greece or Indo-China, each center of unrest like Malaya, Burma, and the Philippines, provokes a constant hemorrhage in the body of imperialism, both financial and material, which exhausts and disperses its forces over secondary points on the world front.

Viewed from the angle of the antagonisms between the Soviet Union and the United States, there are really two important fronts: Europe and Asia. The European sector is by far the more important of the two for in Europe there still remains concentrated the great material and human forces whose effective control can decide the outcome of a general war. For this reason Moscow has an evident interest in involving its imperialist adversaries in conflicts which oblige them to strip Europe and to render the consolidation and reinforcement of their European positions impossible. Moscow actually gains from these local conflicts in which the imperialists are involved, not only because of the immediate financial and material hemorrhage that results for the imperialists but also because of their long-range political consequences.

Undermining Capitalist Stabilization

The margins of capitalist stabilization are everywhere so narrow that a wave of prolonged strikes, for example, suffices, in any one of the countries in Western Europe which has attained a precarious equilibrium thanks above all to Marshall Plan aid, to restore the cycle of inflation, of rising living costs and all the consequences flowing from this. Conflicts on the scale of those of the partisans for Greece, of Indo-China for France, of Malaya and Burma for England (to a lesser degree) are factors which undermine the bases of a genuine equilibrium for these countries and perpetuate the social crisis. To the degree that the United States is obliged to take direct charge of part of the war efforts of all these capitalist countries, the margin of equilibrium of American capitalism itself begins to be perilously restricted, as has already become evident by the growing budgetary deficits in the United States and the constant inflationary pressure.

Within certain limits, Moscow evidently profits from all this disorganization of the capitalist system, aggravated by the constant struggle that this system is obliged to conduct in order to survive in the metropolitan countries and the colonies. We say “within certain limits” for if this disorganization of capitalism, this crisis, this decomposition acquires the scope of a stampede under the blows of the world socialist revolution, that would set into motion forces among the masses the Kremlin fears instinctively and which would be directed in the long run against the bureaucracy itself.

On this account the Kremlin maintains areas of unrest but never helps them to the point of victory. It is possible that the Korean affair is now being exploited with this perspective in mind. It is further possible that the Kremlin would be agreeable to seeing a conflict arise between China and the United States which would simultaneously check the forward march of the Chinese revolution, increase its dependence upon the Kremlin, and on the other hand intensify the exhaustion of the American forces and contract the extent of the equilibrium of Yankee imperialism.

Naturally this complicated game of the Kremlin which reflects the complex nature of the Soviet bureaucracy and which consists in exploiting the crisis of capitalism for its exclusive benefit without solving it through the world socialist revolution, gives it an enormous superiority over the United States. This superiority can be regarded as a supplementary weapon which it would be naive to underestimate and which tends to modify the relationship of forces between the Soviet Union and the United States in favor of the Soviet Union.

Changing Relationship of Forces

We do not say that this relationship of forces has already been altered in favor of the Soviet Union. We merely mean that it would be wrong to appraise the relationship of forces between the Soviet Union and the United States simply by comparing either their existing or potential material and human forces or their degree of technical development. It is also necessary to take into account the strength that the Kremlin derives from the exploitation of the crisis of capitalism, an exploitation which among other things includes the specific form of a war in Indo-China, or a war in Korea, draining the substance of imperialism without directly affecting the resources of the USSR.

The Korean war is extremely instructive from this viewpoint. Regardless of its outcome, it has already demonstrated the enormous price imperialism must pay for every attempt to re-impose its grip upon the colonial peoples and that the era of simple police operations or of a few garrisons maintaining “order” in the colonies has gone forever. On the other hand, it has demonstrated that a mere material superiority does not suffice against a revolutionary war, against the masses of an entire people in revolt. The United States can probably conquer Korea – if it persists in its war efforts in the absence of any other solution and if new complications are not introduced in the international situation – at the expense of an effort whose price would be far out of keeping with “the efficiency” of American industrial production. But such a price paid in Korea would really mean a Pyrrhic victory, which is not much to look forward to in a general war.

The Korean war has demonstrated that American imperialism cannot indulge in everything and that its power, which is much more potential than actual at the moment, has limits and is not easily brought into play. Moreover, its utilization is complicated by the reactions of the masses, of the classes, and of antagonistic factions within the ruling class of the United States itself. From this viewpoint, the Korean war ought to be regarded by the working class as a stimulus for bold revolutionary action, unencumbered by fear of Moscow as well as fear of Washington.

Naturally, reality is dialectical and it is not enough to point out only the weak points in the armor of American imperialism. The Korean war has called forth a violent reaction in the ruling class of America by suddenly enlightening it about a reality it had not fully been aware of up to now. This reality consists in “the terrible facts” that Winston Churchill recently spoke about in his recitation of the enormous superiority in men and classical arms possessed by the USSR, confronted by an almost disarmed “Atlantic Community” leaning upon the sole supremacy of atom bombs, which is itself now disputable and in any event not decisive.

The latest consequences of this reaction, which continues and which has not yet found crystallization either in spokesmen or in doctrine, are the setting into motion of the American war machine, the expansion of an armaments economy, and the accelerated militarization in the country. Two or three years from now, these trends will lift the military potential of the country to a very high level and on this account a dangerous one.

As for the rest of the “Atlantic Community,” it is difficult to see what important modifications British and French rearmament will introduce in the relationship of forces between the Soviet Union and the United States, while on the contrary it is easy to see how the precarious equilibrium attained by these countries can again crumble under the weight of new budgetary expenses. It is doubtful whether the capitalist countries, including Germany and Japan – which will inevitably become gears in the armament machine – can counterbalance by the effectiveness of their military contributions the financial and social disequilibrium which would result from such a drive toward war. If it is true that the Korean war accelerates capitalism’s preparations for war, it is equally true that the social crisis in all countries is aggravated by this preparation and the crisis will give birth to new great struggles which can upset Washington’s as well as Moscow’s plans.

Imminence of Third World War

Despite the prophets of the imminence of the Third World War (an “imminence” which has now endured since 1946), the Korean war remains confined within the general atmosphere of the “cold war.” That is the result of the existing relationship of forces between the Soviet Union and the United States which permits neither one nor the other to count upon an assured victory.

That is now evident for the United States so far as the Korean war is concerned. Its lack of preparation for a general war is a striking fact. To declare war now despite everything would mean the United States would have to conduct war without any effective allies, not only against the Soviet Union and its satellites but against all Europe and Asia which is not at all inclined to resist the combined action of the Red Army and the internal revolts led by the Communist parties. When it still had the atom bomb monopoly the United States could still hope for a swift strategic victory. But now not even this hope exists.

Until the Korean war there was a widespread notion – which had even penetrated our own ranks – that the United States enjoyed a natural superiority over the Soviet Union, which would become manifest in any test of their material and military strength. Facts have demonstrated that this superiority, this wholly American effectiveness, which is incontestable from the purely material and technical standpoint, does not have an immediate equivalent when applied in revolutionary wars of the Korean type. By spreading this power and effectiveness everywhere in the world, it becomes weak and dispersed and requires too great a price even for the wealth of American imperialism.

Actually it is rather the Soviet Union than the United States which now commands all the possibilities for conducting a world war. This situation modifies to a certain degree our own appraisal of the relationship of forces at the present stage between the two antagonistic camps in the sense that the existing effective superiority has shifted toward the Soviet camp. But this does not alter our basic perspective of the continuation of the “cold war” interrupted by attempts at compromise without an immediate general war.

The reason why the Soviet Union, despite the advantages of its present position, is probably not greatly inclined to take the initiative in a general war is to be found above all in the risks the Soviet bureaucracy would incur in the event of a world conflagration which would let loose immense revolutionary forces over the world without a sufficient guarantee that these forces could be controlled by Moscow.

It is superficial reasoning to forget this basic characteristic of the Soviet bureaucracy and to invest it with Napoleonic ambitions of world conquest. The conservatism of the bureaucracy is a fact and it moves cautiously in the world arena, in accord with a rhythm which will permit it to maintain its absolute control in respect to the bourgeoisie as well as in respect to the masses.

Some people object to this argumentation which rejects the possibility of a general war in the near future (and even for some years) on the ground that war is not necessarily the result of mature thought and that it is possible to engage in an adventure without consciously calculating the chances of its success. In a situation, say these objectors, where the fever constantly rises in the two camps, where nervousness and uneasiness grip the leading circles, it is possible that a small military clique, for example, can ignite the powder magazine and launch a general conflict. Such a possibility is especially applicable to the United States where the factional struggle within the ruling class is very great and their understanding of the real situation in the world is fairly limited and scanty.

Naturally such a danger exists and it would even be heightened in the event of any new action by the USSR in another nerve center of the world front – the Middle East, Yugoslavia, Berlin – an action which would infuriate some of the top American and European circles.

But it is also necessary to take into account the fact that in reality, so far as war against the USSR is concerned, the decision will be made by the most responsible circles of the American and even the world bourgeoisie and that it is very difficult to imagine that such a decision is at the mercy of a MacArthur or a McCarthy. On a question like that of war against the Soviet Union, which will involve the fate of the entire capitalist system, factional struggles within the bourgeoisie are settled as a rule by a carefully considered position, conforming to the class interests of the bourgeoisie, to its possibilities, to its chances of success and not of suicide.

Capitalism is accelerating its march toward war, but the road is still blocked by numerous and powerful obstacles. The Korean war provides supplementary proof of these difficulties and of the need imperialism has of gaining time.

On the other hand, we have emphasized the reasons which likewise restrain the Soviet bureaucracy from launching into a general war. Under these conditions it conforms far more to the reality of the international situation, to orient the policy of the revolutionary proletariat not on the immediate inevitability of war but on the revolutionary struggle against capitalism and against the policy of the Soviet bureaucracy, a struggle facilitated by the parallel development of the crisis of capitalism and of Socialism. This is the sole effective obstacle to the outbreak of war itself.

The Yugoslavs and the Korean War

We will close with some necessary remarks regarding the attitude adopted by the Yugoslav government and the Yugoslav Communist Party toward the Korean events.

Naturally this attitude is part of a series of conceptions held by the Yugoslavs regarding the United Nations, the Soviet Union and the international workers’ movement, which we will examine elsewhere. Here it suffices to say simply that insofar as the Yugoslavs persist in these conceptions, one can be justly fearful that their tendency which has begun to differentiate itself from Stalinism, will stop half-way and, while not yielding to the contrary pressure of imperialism, will nevertheless maintain a markedly centrist character.

The Yugoslavs, tormented by the possibility of an attack by the Soviet Union against their own country and under pressure from American imperialism, have adopted an ambiguous attitude toward the Korean events. At no time, either in the United Nations or in their press, have they denounced the imperialist character of the American and United Nations intervention or taken a clear position toward the war led by North Korea, as they had previously done in the case of China and Indo-China. They have taken refuge in a somewhat enigmatic “neutrality,” avoiding all comment and all clarification of their position, as if they felt troubled and perhaps even a little ashamed of this silence.

That the pressure of American imperialism has forced them to adopt an attitude of abstention and neutrality in regard to the two participants in the war in Korea within the United Nations, is understandable. But that their press in Yugoslavia, and the press of the Yugoslav party in particular – which ought never to be confused with that of the Yugoslav government as such – likewise avoid taking a clear position on this conflict, on its meaning and on its class character is a centrist attitude which does not at all serve the cause of the genuine defense of Yugoslavia by the revolutionary proletariat and the colonial peoples.

The Yugoslav leaders “doubt” that the struggle of the Koreans will lead to “genuine independence” and by that they mean that Korea, even when liberated from imperialist troops will fall entirely under Soviet control (see the interview by Marshal Tito given to the Indian journalist, Kamalesh Banerji, in August 1950). This danger exists, and the Korean and international revolutionary vanguard ought to denounce it and struggle against it. But is not the same thing true for Indo-China and China? By adopting such a position, the Yugoslavs risk joining the ranks of the “neutralists” in regard to the class struggle and the struggle of the colonial peoples in our epoch under the pretext that its leadership belongs in most cases and at the first stage to groups influenced by the Soviet bureaucracy.


1. June 26 message of Kim Ir Sen to the Korean people (New China News Agency Bulletin, June 28, 1950).

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Michel Pablo
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Updated on: 10 April 2015