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Fourth International, December 1941


Editorial Comment


From Fourth International, Vol.2 No.10, December 1941, pp.291-294.
Transcribed, Edited & Formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for the ETOL.


Biggest Murder Machine in History

Congress, under Roosevelt’s pressure, has repealed the Neutrality Act and approved the arming of the American merchant marine. The undeclared naval war is on; the all-out “shooting war” is in the offing. Carl Vinson, Chairman of the House Committee on Naval Affairs, declared on Navy Day, that “the United States is committed to the defeat of Hitler and his associates.” The Quarterly Forecast of Thomas Gibson, Inc., which is circulated chiefly among financial circles, seems indifferent to the question whether the war will be “declared or undeclared ... to the realist it is clear, as it has been since June 1940 that the United States is at war.” It adds that no matter who strikes first “the irrepressible conflict is at hand.” What will it take to “defeat Hitler and his associates”?

The aggressiveness with which Roosevelt has implemented the war aims of America’s ruling Sixty Families in the Atlantic and Pacific only foreshadows the future war moves now being shaped in Washington.

With 71 per cent of American exports proving inadequate to guarantee Churchill’s forces victory, Roosevelt asked the British and American general staffs to present him with a realistic estimate of what is required from American imperialism to crush Hitler. Such an estimate was drafted. It is now being studied by Roosevelt and his advisers.

According to the October 20 issue of Barrons, one of the leading financial journals of the country, this estimate calls for the lifting of the already cyclopean production of war goods by “four to five times.’

A glimmering of what is entailed can be gained from the production of huge bombers which – after terrific efforts – was scheduled to reach 5,000 between now and the autumn of 1943.

The estimate calls for this production to be jacked up to 20,000 or even to 25,000!

Full details of the blown up program have not yet been made public. Barrons of October 27 reports that news of this colossal step-up in the armament program will be unfolded “in part, by special memoranda from the President” and will be “outlined in full in the annual message to Congress early in January.”

The partial unfolding of Roosevelt’s plans for further expansion has already been made public by declarations of Roosevelt spokesmen that the armament program is “to be doubled” and that this will require raising the national debt limit up to $80 billions or $100 billions.

The Army and Navy Journal for November 1 declares that present authorizations for the war program amount to $60 billions and that the “doubled program” will cost more than $100 billions while the national income for this year will be but “between $90 and $100 billions.” This, it must be emphasized, is only the opening shot of Roosevelt’s full program.

Further revelations were made in Barrons for November 10 with the indication that “we shall unquestionably create a huge army, and probably an expeditionary force, or several of them, for use possibly in such diverse places as Africa and Siberia as well as in Europe ...” Barrons adds a bit fearfully that we shall become “a nation with ten million of its best men ... on army pay ...”

According to Admiral Harold R. Stark, in the Army and Navy Journal of October 25 it would be only “wishful thinking” to count upon the British Navy to act in, the future “as a restraining factor in the Atlantic.” Hence the naval building program alone will be stepped up to such a degree that the United States fleet will outmatch in fighting strength “any power or combination of powers now existent, whether the threat comes from the Pacific or the Atlantic or both.”

With grandiose plans such as these, American imperialism is mapping the organization of expeditionary forces to conquer all the continents of the world. It plans the slaughter of tens of millions of human beings. For the United States it plans to grind into the dust all democratic rights under the iron heel of militarism. Before our eyes we see American imperialism setting out with the aim of achieving its manifest destiny on the bloody path predicted by Trotsky in April 1940: “Apparently only the United States is destined to surpass the German murder machine.”

Whitewashing Stalin’s Crimes

While the agents and emissary of Roosevelt and Churchill have thus far failed to supply the Soviet Union with any substantial material aid, they have been rendering the Kremlin invaluable aid in covering up its crimes and trying to rehabilitate the prestige of their new-found ally.

In the years of the Moscow trials, Stalin could obtain no voluntary assistance from bourgeois-“democratic” circles to whitewash his infamous frame-ups. His attorneys and apologists came either directly from the ranks of the GPU or from such professional friends of the Kremlin as Messrs. Duranty, Pritt, Feuchtwanger, et al. It was universally recognized that Stalin had dealt himself and his regime an irreparable blow by the trials and the monstrous purges which preceded and followed them.

During the Stalin-Hitler pact there was no epithet too harsh for the most responsible representatives of “democracy” to apply to Stalin and his regime. In particular, at the time of the Soviet-Finnish war, Roosevelt-Churchill and Co. condemned and characterized Stalin as a “bloodthirsty oriental despot,” etc., etc.

New times, new tunes. Now that Stalin has come crawling before the “democratic” imperialist powers, these hypocrites are engaged in a “re-evaluation” of Stalin’s past, in which his vices become transformed overnight into virtues, and his bloodiest crimes become converted into his most signal services to the Soviet Union.

The “Democrats” Whitewash Stalin

Mr. Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s personal emissary to the Kremlin, returned after a three days’ trip not only with glowing accounts of Stalin’s “modesty” and “simplicity,” but also with the GPU line that the frame-ups and the purges had in reality destroyed the “fifth column” in the USSR. Joseph E. Davies, former ambassador to the Soviet Union, now also sees eye to eye with the GPU. In the December issue of the American Magazine, he rushed into print to declare his complete conversion to the GPU charges against the defendants in the Moscow frame-ups. Davies is not embarrassed by the fact that his own reports to the State Department written during the trials said just the opposite. To believe Mr. Davies, it was the re-reading of these reports that confirmed him in the present opinion that Trotsky and his followers were agents of Hitler and the Mikado. He forgets to mention the real cause of his change of mind Stalin’s change of alignment. Davies doses his article by recommending that the “democracies” emulate the Kremlin’s frame-ups against political opponents.

The behavior of the masters has found simultaneous echo in the ranks of the flunkies, who, like well-trained poodles, respond to the merest gesture. Ralph Ingersoll, editor of PM, returned from a flying visit to Moscow and his interview with Stalin with the new-found assurance that the purges, while taking a toll of some innocents, were on the ‘whole highly beneficial. Like a medieval surgeon, he now argues that a little bloodletting really improved the health of the patient.

The Liberals Follow Their Masters

In a special issue devoted to Russia Today, the New Republic, which could find no other apology for Stalin in the days of the Moscow trials than to declare that “the truth might perhaps be known in a thousand years,” has assembled a group of liberals who contrive either to forget about the trials and the purges altogether or to offer some apology for Stalin’s crimes. Thus Miss Vera M. Dean, who apparently still finds it a bit awkward to peddle the full GPU line, declares that the purges were really due to “xenophobia – mistrust of all foreigners.” John Scott, who was summarily expelled from Moscow a short while ago, finds it necessary to provide two different explanations. So far as the Soviet administrators were concerned they were murdered, Scott suddenly discovers, for having disagreed with Stalin’s policy on industrializing the regions east of the Volga: “I am convinced that many of those high, top-flight functionaries who disappeared between 1936 and 1938 got into trouble because of their failure to agree with Stalin’s far reaching and ruthless plans for industrialization.”

As for the others, Mr. Scott associates himself directly with the GPU executioners: “One of the most important accomplishments of the Soviet administrative system has been the elimination of enemy fifth-columnists ... These were eliminated by systematic vigilance on the part of the Soviet people, the Communist Party and the NKVD.”

It is not accidental that all these gentlemen from Hopkins-Davies to Scott make no reference either to Trotsky’s refutation and exposure of the frame-ups or to the findings of the Dewey Commission. On September 21, 1937, the Dewey Commission, after an all-sided investigation into the Moscow trials, stated among other things the following: “Trotsky never instructed any of the accused or witnesses in the Moscow trials to enter into agreements with foreign powers against the Soviet Union; on the contrary, he has always uncompromisingly advocated the defense of the USSR. He has also been a most forthright ideological opponent of fascism represented by the foreign powers with which he is accused of having conspired.” The Kremlin, too, has preferred to “ignore” the findings of the Dewey Commission. All the more so, since in the days of the Stalin-Hitler pact, Moscow was accusing the Trotskyists of being agents of Anglo-American imperialism.

The Motives for the Whitewash

There are serious political motives behind this campaign to rehabilitate Stalin. Stalin is now the captive of Churchill and Roosevelt. They have a stake in maintaining his prestige not only before the Soviet masses but before the Communist parties under his control. By absolving Stalin of his crimes, they not only repair his prestige but also facilitate their own attempts to persuade the masses that they are waging a democratic war against fascism in the interests of the working class. Their service to Stalin is in reality a service to themselves. Moreover, by discrediting the opponents of Stalinism, they thereby deal a blow to the only force in society today which all of them, together with Stalin, really fear – the extreme left wing of the labor movement represented by the Trotskyists.

The justification of Stalin’s crimes is also a preparation for transplanting Stalin’s frame-ups of political opponents to their own soil. They are preparing to railroad and exterminate every opponent of their imperialist war program as a “fifth columnist,” an “agent of Hitler and the Mikado,” a “wrecker, diversionist and saboteur,” etc., etc.

These frame-ups will be employed primarily against the labor organizations, and the government will be aided and abetted above all by the local Stalinists. We sound a solemn warning to the labor movement to be on guard against this extension of Stalin’s frame-up system to the United States.

Democratic Illusions

The war is taking a toll not only of countless human lives and immense material riches but also of the mental faculties of many people. Among the victims of the war are those who have been engulfed by the tide of bourgeois public opinion. All over the world many groupings, which until yesterday proclaimed themselves to be revolutionary and even repeated Lenin’s formulas, have passed, one after another, into the camp of Anglo-American imperialism. A new school of sophistry has been begotten in order to justify this abandonment of principles which have been established and verified by an experience so dearly paid for.

The first and most popular assertion is that the present war is not a repetition of the first imperialist slaughter of 1914-1918. Certainly there is a difference between the two wars. The present war is not merely a repetition of the first one, but a continuation and, therefore, an extension and a deepening. For one thing, world imperialism has travelled far on the road of degeneration since 1914. Bourgeois democracy with all its parliamentary institutions is manifestly bankrupt. Again, in this war, the aggressive role of German imperialism is far more apparent than it was in the last war. The victory of 1919 left the conquerors the undisputed masters of the world. Vanquished Germany was thrown far back. She had to start over again under enormous handicaps. The explosive role of German imperialism, in contrast with the conservatism and inertia of England, is self-evident. The rivalry between satiated and hungry imperialisms stands out more clearly in 1939 than it did in 1914. Several other differences may be cited. But are these differences fundamental? Do they change the character of the war? Has the struggle ceased to be imperialist? This is what needs to be proven, but the neo-chauvinists do not even try to do this. They are only too well aware that all such attempts would be doomed to failure, because the struggle remains, in its entirety, a struggle of imperialist rivalry.

Sated vs. Starved Imperialisms

There has arisen lately a relatively numerous group which argues somewhat as follows: Yes, we know all that. Yes, the war is an imperialist war. But England, you see, is an old imperialist country. She has committed no few crimes in the past, but flow she is an old lion whose senile fangs are no longer to be feared. Germany, on the other hand, is a young and hungry tiger that will spread terror all over the world.

It goes without saying that the German ruling class is prepared, in case of victory, to add its share to the long history of imperialist crimes. But right now England is oppressing and exploiting throughout the world three times as many human beings as is Hitler in Europe. English methods in India and Africa are in no way distinguishable from Nazi methods. As a matter of fact, Hitler merely borrowed and extended to the European arena the methods of the colonial slave holders. England’s senile gentleness expresses itself, when it comes to her rebellious slaves, in the shape of aerial bombs. This is the reality of the situation. Everything else is the shoddy product of hypocritical casuistry.

One need only emulate those who repeat the sophistry concerning the old, tired lion versus the young rapacious tiger in order to concoct a score of other sophisms, not inferior in quality, to justify support of Hitler. Goebbels does nothing else day in and day out. He promises the German workers an era of prosperity, if only they annihilate the plutocrats who have monopolized the riches of the earth, etc. Whether they work for one camp or the other, the makers of sophisms carry out the same assignment: the enchaining of the peoples to imperialism.

“Democracy” Against Fascism

But after all, England – is Democracy! Hitler – that is Fascism! Doesn’t that mean that the struggle is being waged for the defense of democracy? By no means! England’s rulers permitted Hitler to crush bourgeois democracy on the continent bit by bit. They permitted this destruction so long as they thoughts their interests could be safeguarded by compromises at the expense of democracy. England entered the war when her empire and not her democracy was menaced. She is waging a struggle entirely for imperialist profits.

But may not democracy be a necessary by-product of English victory? Not at all. Whoever spreads this lie is blinding the masses to the fact that in the grip of the post-war crisis – and even in the course of the war itself – England (and this applies to America as well) can become rapidly fascist, if the proletarian revolution fails to intervene. On the continent of Europe, the governments which will supersede Nazi oppression need not of necessity be democratic as a result of the “victory of democracy”: their form will depend as it always has primarily on the relationship of forces between the classes in each given country.

So far as England is concerned, she is indubitably capable of establishing on the morrow Bonapartist or fascist governments throughout Europe, in order to crush any and every revolutionary manifestation. Who could doubt this, after the experiences of the last post-war epoch (1918-1920)? The same aviators who are today defending “democracy against fascism” will be sent on the morrow to bomb those cities in Europe where the workers take power. This will happen without fail, so long as the English workers continue to follow their social-patriotic leaders. There is not the slightest political or logical, or any other kind of connection between England’s victory and the re-establishment of democracy, even bourgeois democracy. So far as the establishment of proletarian democracy is concerned, this cannot be achieved otherwise than against capitalist England.

England’s Victory and the Revolution

The new panegyrists of British – and US – imperialism resort to a very cunning and insidious argument: shouldn’t we admit that a victory for England, that is Germany’s defeat, would facilitate the proletarian revolution, independently of Churchill’s or Roosevelt’s desires? and shouldn’t one therefore support England in her struggle? In such a case, it would be necessary to make a reservation at the very outset. According to this reasoning the victory of England would facilitate the revolution, but only in Europe. What possible answer, then, can be given to the pariahs in Bombay’s spinning mills or the Bantus in Johannesburg mines who could with perfect justification use the same argument, but in its inverted form? Why shouldn’t they listen to Goebbels who tells them that they must support Hitler in order to get rid of their English oppressors? This road leads to the end of proletarian internationalism.

To illustrate the absurdity of this type of “reasoning” let us for a moment grant to our adversaries that the revolution in the colonies has to be sacrificed for the sake of the European revolution, and that England must be supported because her victory would stimulate the outburst of revolutionary situations in Europe. But who will be there to make use of these revolutionary situations? A revolutionary party is indispensable to lead the masses to victory. How will a party which preached and maintained an alliance with Anglo-American imperialism, be able to guide the inevitable struggle of the masses against this very imperialism and its agents? The history of the last ware and the events of the quarter of a century that has since elapsed demonstrate irrefutably what happens to such parties. We can state with complete certainty that those who are today calling for a national front against fascism, in the name of the alleged revolutionary interests of the proletariat, will on the morrow support imperialism against the masses, if and when the Anglo-American brigands will take into their hands the job of policing the entire world.

In the countries of the “democratic” camp, support of the English and American bourgeoisie, in the name of a “joint struggle” against Hitler, signifies the direct abandonment of the revolution. In the countries occupied by Hitler, any support of the Anglo-American camp cannot fail, even now, to play a reactionary role. Speeches about the liberating role of England can – if they have some influence – tend only to paralyze the self-action of the masses, and hinder the growth of a revolutionary party. The counter-revolutionary role of any kind of solidarity with Churchill-Roosevelt appears most clearly if we consider the problems of the German revolution. Every bond that ties the proletarians to their masters in either camp, helps the rulers in the other camp to maintain their authority over the masses there. The English “socialist” leaders, who serve their imperialism zealously, help Hitler impose upon the German workers his nationalistic ideas. An intrepid revolutionary struggle in one camp helps and prepares the same struggle in the other camp. Support of imperialist England – regardless of the pretexts or the forms – means placing “national” interests above class interests, it means paralyzing the revolt of the workers. It is the betrayal of socialism.

It is argued that only the, blind can fail to see the necessity for the military defeat of Germany. According to those who consider Lenin’s teachings as outmoded or too “mechanical,” a Nazi invasion would mean servitude for the English people. They overlook a trifle. They forget when they pose the problem in this way that the Nazi leaders, unfortunately, can and do offer the very same arguments to the German workers: Just think of what your fate would be like, if England and America win the war!

We Tell the Whole Truth

Both assertions are correct: Hitler will oppress the English people if he wins; Germany and all Europe will be pushed into a quagmire, if Churchill-Roosevelt are victorious. Nothing is more mendacious than a half-truth; it proves to be the biggest lie. Our task is not to weigh one half-truth against another, but to tell the whole truth: without a proletarian revolution, the victory of Churchill will be no less terrible for Europe and for all mankind than that of Hitler. There is no way out for society except through the proletarian revolution. But it is necessary to prepare for this revolution. In order to fulfill this task, we must show the workers of every country that the key to the situation lies in the hands of neither Hitler nor Churchill but in their own hands. We must explain and clarify to them the unity of the revolutionary interests of the proletariat. Workers’ solidarity with their imperialist masters breaks this unity; such solidarity is reactionary because it is an insurmountable obstacle to the only progressive solution to the crisis which mankind is now facing.

Sometimes there is to be heard such reasoning as this: Churchill’s military resistance to Hitler, “despite himself,” “objectively,” “whatever his own intention may be,” serves the interests of the revolution. Those who repeat these banalities go too far, or say too little. If they mean thereby that Churchill’s struggle, as opposed to Hitler’s, possesses a certain progressive character for society, they go too far and overstep the boundary of truth; for the present war, whether it is waged by Hitler or by Churchill is, in point of fact, a reactionary enterprise. If these seekers for objectivity wish to say that England’s military resistance can prepare the revolution, then they do not go far enough. Were it possible for Churchill to make peace with Hitler, were all the imperialists able to get along with one another, were capitalism able to exist without war, then the chances of revolution would assuredly be diminished. If, in the interests of preparing the revolution, anyone desires to bestow some “merits” on Churchill for waging the war, then “objectivity” constrains us to point out the fact that Hitler has at least equal “merits” and even, in view of the circumstances, slightly superior ones. Assuredly, these seekers for objectivity say too little. Unlike them we do not say that Churchill is serving the revolution despite himself. Instead we say: out of this war the revolution can and will arise.

The great imperialist wars of modern times are wholly reactionary, in respect to their objectives, their methods and their results. But out of these wars can come progressive upheavals. The first imperialist war of 1914-1918 provoked the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire, precipitated the Russian revolution, accelerated the industrialization of colonial countries, intensified the struggle for national liberation in the colonies, etc. But the collapse of Austro-Hungary, the oppressor of many nationalities, in no ways justified the union sacree which the French and English social patriots made with their bourgeoisie. Similarly, the German socialdemocrats had no right at all to support their imperialism, although in retrospect a sophist might supply them with the pretext that “objectively” the Kaiser’s struggle against the Czar hastened the Russian revolution. The present war, too, can and will inevitably produce certain progressive upheavals; there will be revolutions in Europe, India and elsewhere. In a certain sense it is possible to say that these are the “effects” of the war. But, in the first place, this does not and cannot change the character of the war which is a reactionary, imperialist enterprise; and, in the second place, this does not and cannot confer any special “merit” on either camp or its agents and supporters. Both camps bear equal responsibility and are entitled to the same “merits” for the war and for its consequences. Both camps must be given their due, that is to say, they must be swept into the dustbin of history by the world working class.

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