Glotzer Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Albert Gates

The War Is Over!

But the Struggle of the Peoples of the World
for Peace, Freedom and Security Still Goes On!

(20 August 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 34, 20 August 1945, pp. 1& 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Japanese acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration brought an end to the war in the Pacific. Thus, six years after the German army crossed the borders of Poland to begin the bloodiest and most destructive conflict in world history, an armed peace has been achieved.

For the second time within the memory of living man the world has an opportunity to create a lasting peace, but with the destiny of mankind in the hands of the same rulers who plunged the world into this global slaughter, prospects of such a peace are even less than they were after the First World War.

This war too began as a “war for freedom.” Twenty-two years after the “war to end all wars” the peoples of the world were asked to support the slaughter of uniformed men, the extermination of tens of millions of civilians and the destruction of hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth, because this time the rulers of all countries gave their final word to end war for all time, to insure freedom and security for the whole world. If these pledges were made and unredeemed at the First World War, this time they were to be kept. All that was asked of the peoples of the world was to give their unstinted support to the ruling classes as they waged a war of extermination of these same peoples.

The promise of a lasting peace, of true freedom and democracy and genuine security came not alone from the rulers of the Allied camp. These were also the promises made by the totalitarian rulers of the Axis countries. Each imperialist power was, in the words of its capitalist ruling class, fighting for life, the opportunity to expand, to win peace, freedom and security for its peoples.

Strange world? No, not strange at all. This is the capitalist world. This is the world of competition, of exploitation, ofproduction for profit. This is the world of imperialism.

The great powers must ever wage war against each other for possession of the riches of the world in the form of markets, raw materials, cheap labor and territory. The victory of the Allied powers over Germany, Japan and Italy will not and cannot guaranteethe peace of the world because the same causes which brought about this war continue to exist and to create conditions for a Third World War.

What They Promised the People

Even before the United States entered the war in December of 1941, it was already a participant in the fight against the Axis. Roosevelt had already helped to draw up with Churchill, that arch-imperialist, the famous Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms, which was a declaration of the intentions of the Allied powers. This statement of principle was a necessary element in Allied strategy of winning the support of the peoples in their own countries as well as those living under the heel of German, Italian and Japanese rule, to support a war which they regarded with great suspicion as another imperialist war for profit.

A new world was promised the peoples of all countries. The Allies would, upon the victory, guarantee democratic rights, truefreedom, security and lasting peace for all people. All the people would have a right to their national freedom, to choose their own governments, and to determine the future of their lives. Allcountries would be given equal access to the riches of the world; all nations would be given the opportunity to produce and trade in order to raise the living standards of the whole world.

At the time when these grand promises were made the Workers Party branded them as cynical lies. In its manifesto against the war, theWorkers Party declared that this was fundamentally the same kind of war as that fought in 1914–18, that it was an imperialist war for empire, aggrandizement and profit. The Workers Party stated that the propaganda of the Allied rulers was merely a restatement in new forms of the propaganda of the Allied rulers in the First World War in order to deceive the people and win their support to the bloody carnage which threatened to wipe out civilization.

Even before the war had ended in Europe, but at a time when the military fortunes of the Allies had changed to a point where victory was a certainty, the “noble ideas” announced by Roosevelt and Churchill were completely forgotten.

Hitler had enslaved almost all of Europe on his road to the conquest of the world. He destroyed the independence of nations. Thefascist beasts ruled the Continent with naked force, destroying what they could not subject to their brutal rule.

During the early years of the war, German fascism seemed all-powerful, incapable of destruction. But its immense power couldnot prevent the emergence of a new force on the Continent, the mighty resistance movements of the people in all countries fighting for their liberation from all tyrants, fighting for their national independence, for free speech, free assembly, free press, free organization and the right to choose their own governments. The people were fighting for a new way of life. They did not and do notnow want to return to the bankrupt social order under which they lived before and during the war.

They Turned Europe into a Wasteland

The European masses cry out for real freedom, security and peace! But these are, in truth, non-existent. Europe is a continent divided.It is divided into zones, spheres of influence and subjugated territories. Each power, in agreement to be sure, has allocated to itself a particular area or zone. A glance at the European map will reveal the utter cynicism with which the Allied powers have divided up the Continent – all of it in the name of the great principles of the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms!

Finland had to cede territory to Russia and to enter within Russia’s sphere of influence.

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were seized by the Russian armies, incorporated into and made a part of Russia against the will of the peoples which inhabited these countries.

Poland was reduced to a Russian vassal state under the rule of the Russian secret police (NKVD) operating through Stalin’s Polish agents.

Czechoslovakia has a nominal independence, but is under the heel of Russia and only recently ceded to the latter the territory inhabited by the Ruthenians.

The Balkan states are under Russian domination. The some is true of Hungary.

All of these countries live under the vise of Stalinist totalitarianism. There is no freedom, peace or security in any of these countries.

Great Britain dominates Greece against the best interests of the Greek people. The British army keeps in power reactionary, royalist forces which not only have no support of the people but are hated by them.

Italy, two years after the armistice, remains an occupied country whose destinies are determined by its real rulers, the Anglo-American military government.

If we did not already know all these things, Allied policy toward Germany gives the crowning touch to the imperialist program they have pursued throughout the war.

The German nation, with its enormous productive apparatus, which could do so much good for Europe, has been divided into three zones occupied by the Big Three. But the country has been dismembered and thus thrown back many decades. Its industries are being reduced.

The Germans are told that from now on they must feed themselves by increasing the agricultural character of their country. The standard of living of the German people, ever low under the heel of fascism, will be even lower under the rule of the Big Three. The diminution of its industrial capacity will make Germany a prey of the productive might of the United States and her allies. What will follow from this conquerors’ peace is the annihilation of the German people, accompanied by the annihilation of the peoples of all of Europe.

Europe is a wasteland! Its great cities lie in ruins. Its industries are in large part destroyed. Transportation is in chaos. Hunger, disease and death stalk all the peoples of the Continent.

The capitalist rulers in Europe, those brigand’s who helped bring about the war, will not suffer. No, they are already in the process of repairing their fences. They are joining hands with their class brothers in Great Britain and the United States; they are joining hands with Stalin, who fears the revolution of the masses more than he fears the capitalist rulers in Europe, to retain their riches and their profits. They are preparing to continue to earn more riches and more profits with the aid of the Allies.

But the great mass of workers and poor peasants who hod nothing to do with bringing about the war, but were its victims; the downtrodden and suffering people who have paid for the universal slaughter with their lives and labor, who suffer starvation, homelessness and disease; the exploited, harassed and suffering people – they are being made to pay for a war which they did not want!

This is the real meaning of the Allied victory. All else is mere words.

Imperialist Exploitation of Asia Remains

What has happened in Europe will happen in Asia and the Pacific. Japan will get a vanquished’s peace. Not the Japanese financiers and industrialists, not the Emperor, Hirohito, but the poor, exploited and victimized Japanese workers and peasants. To be sure, the Japanese military clique will be uprooted and destroyed, but they, after all, are only the representatives of the real interests of Japan’s capitalist-imperialist ruling class.

The real bandits, those responsible for the totalitarian-feudal regime which grinds profits out of its own people as well as the colonial subjects whom it rules, they will not be made to suffer too much. As losers in the war, they will pay for losing. But their social position as the dominant class in Japanese society will not be changed. They will remain the capitalist ruling class of Japan in full control and ownership of their enormous properties and wealth to go on exploiting and profiting from the labor of their people.

The end of the war will not change things in Asia or the Pacific. The great colonial empires of the Allied powers will remain.

Great Britain, even under Labor Prime Minister Attlee, will retain a stranglehold on India. There will be no freedom for its hundreds of millions of people. The same is true for Ceylon, Burma, Malaya and the other colonial territories of British imperialism.

The great East Indies will be returned to the Dutch rulers, that nation of eight million people who exploits more than sixty million colonial slaves.

France will retain Indo-China, to exploit its many millions.

Russia has already been promised her “spheres of influence” in Mongolia, China and perhaps Korea.

American imperialism will dominate the great Chinese nation with its hundreds of millions of people. It has already spread its interest in oil to other parts of Asia and has announced its intention of keeping Pacific islands necessary as military bases, as well as any other territories which it deems indispensable for its future defense.

As in Europe, there will be no peace, freedom or security for the hundreds of millions of peoples who inhabit that vast Continent. They will remain colonial or semi-colonial slaves of Western and Russianimperialism.

Organizers of Chaos and a Super-Versailles

This war has not yet produced its “Versailles Peace Conference,” but it has already produced a San Francisco Conference and the super-Versailles peace. If the Versailles peace was a brutal, cynical, imperialist and profiteer’s peace, the peace imposed in Europe today and the peace to be imposed in Asia tomorrow will be a hundred times more brutal, cynical and imperialist.

This was guaranteed by the successive conferences of Moscow, Teheran and Yalta. It was crowned in San Francisco, which was not a peace gathering of the nations of the world but a Big Three show held for the purpose of organizing the small nations of the world for support to the Conqueror’s Peace.

The very organization of the San Francisco peace machinery, wherein all the power was placed in the hands of the Big Three and their satellite states, the powerlessness of the small states, their lack of rights, the failure even to discuss disarmament, are all evidence of the fact that the “peace” conference had nothing whatever to do with peace. The small nations were called upon to ratify the decisions of the big powers, to accept whatever was decided for them.

But out of San Francisco emerged a new armed world divided into contending groups, all of them powerful, all of them prepared not for a lasting peace but for an armed truce until the next war of devastation breaks out.

This great war, which engulfed the whole world and all of its inhabitants, demonstrated the production miracles inherent in the productive apparatus of modern society. New methods of production, new machinery, increased efficiency and improvement in transportation and communication and a tremendous rise in the productivity of labor showed what can be done Under a different society with a principle of production based upon the needs of the people.

Under imperialism all of these advances in science and production are for the purposes of mass destruction. The development of the atomic bomb, based upon control of the atom, is a revolutionary discovery of infinite magnitude capable of raising society to new heights. In the hands of the capitalist ruling classits main achievement is, however, destructive. In the hands of the capitalist ruling class it is used for leveling cities and destroying populations.

The war began with a one-ton bomb. It ended with a twelve-ton bomb and an atomic bomb. Each year of the conflict witnessed new and more terrifying means of destruction. Is it any wonder that the estimated number of military casualties in the European war alone has reached sixty million?

What, then, will the toll be when, after the war, a reckoning is made of all the dead and wounded, military and civilian? What will be the loss in property and wealth? What will the war have cost in money? In all cases the figures will be astronomical.

America’s War Economy: Enrichment of the Rich

Four years ago, Americans began to live under a war economy. Everything, literally everything, was subordinated to the war effort. The government established controls over machinery and raw materials. It set about the reorganization of production, issued contracts, decided what was needed, guaranteed profits, set a ceiling on wages, froze labor to jobs and in general set about planning for war.

What it could not do in peace, namely, end unemployment, it did in war. Less than a year after war was declared, there was a shortage of labor in the country.

Under Roosevelt, on “equality of sacrifice” program was adopted. This program guaranteed big business its contracts and profits. In exchange for a no-lockout (!) pledge from business, labor gave a no-strike pledge. In exchange for the freezing of jobs andwages, the Administration had promised to keep the cost of living down through equality in rationing and price control.

It is clear now that the “equality of sacrifice” program was one of the greatest shams in the war. Instead of a curb of war profits, big business was given the greatest profits in its history. Unemployment was ended but the relative share of the workers in the tremendous war production was less than it ever was before. The increased payrolls which arose from full employment, overtime and holiday work and the increased work week were neutralized by high prices, huge taxes on wages and an overall increase in the cost of living which far outstripped any gains made by labor in this country.

Taking advantage of the no-strike pledge, which acted as a straight-jacket around the powerful arms of labor, big business carried on an incessant war against unionism and began to destroy, slowly but surely, many of the gains the labor movement had made after many years of trying and heroic struggle. The end of the war finds the capitalist ruling classes organized and ready to carry on a war against the labor movement with many advantages in their favor.

Not the least of these advantages is the certainty of mass unemployment not next month or next year, but today, one day afterthe announcement of the surrender of Japan.

The specter of unemployment haunts the people of the country. They remember only too well the long and dreary years of the thirties. They remember how the government could not solve the problems of jobs during peace; that it could only offer them unemployment relief and WPA jobs. But they also remember that when the war broke out, the government was able to organize the vast productive machinery of the country for the greatest production program ever witnessed in this world. They remember how, for war, the government was able to end unemployment!

But millions of Americans will not stand for long years of poverty and unemployment. This war has taught them many lessons, and this is one of them: it is possible with the enormous industrial expansion of the war and the many improvements and discoveries that were made to have full employment and a high standard of living. They will not take less.

But they also see how the capitalist government in Washington prepares for peace. They note how the capitalist politicians go off on vacation when it comes to voting legislation to take care of jobs for peace and unemployed compensation for those who are being thrown out of work by cutbacks in war contracts. And they are learning fast, especially since the elections in Great Britain, that labor needs a party of its own, an independent Labor Party that will fight for the interests of labor and the common people generally.

Such a party is indispensable to the future welfare of the American workers and all the people of this country. But a party is not enough. A party needs a program and the independent party of the American working class will need a fighting, militant program based upon the needs of the overwhelming majority of the people and not the profit interests of a handful of financiers and industrialists.

Such a program is the program advocated by the Workers Party, which appears on page three of this issue. That program needs a party of labor to enforce it. Together, they would advance a thousandfold the interests of the people of America and prepare a new and better life for the tens of millions of peoples.

Thus the Second Imperialist World War has ended. It has ended without solving the great social tasks which confront humanity: the establishment of permanent peace, freedom and security for the whole world.

The capitalist world remains an armed camp awaiting only the passage of a few more years before it is ready to plunge into another bloody carnage to determine which of the great powers shall dominate the world in the interest of profit.

There is no freedom for the people of Europe, Africa or Asia. There is no true freedom for the peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

There is no peace for the peoples of the world. The world remains armed to the teeth, each great power struggling, now quietly, now more openly, for advantage over the other.

There is no security for the people of any country. All the peoples of the world face hunger, poverty, unemployment and overall misery.

Capitalism outlived its usefulness long ago. It is no longer capable of progress, of raising the standards of living of the people.

Capitalism is only capable of guaranteeing new wars, mass unemployment and misery.

But the people of the world want an end to this system. They want jobs, peace, freedom, security. They want a new life; they want a change from the chaos of the profit system, that system of “free enterprise” which has proved its incapacity to maintain a high level of peacetime production in the interest of the people.

The struggle of the peoples of the whole world, the workers of the advanced capitalist countries, the poor peasants and farmers of all countries, the colonial peoples for freedom will go on. It will go on no matter how many new forms of oppression capitalism and imperialism devise to keep the peoples in subjection.

If this war has brought civilization to the brink of disaster, if the world cannot stand another such war, and we believe that it cannot, then such disaster can only be averted by the abolition of the social order that is disintegrating before our very eyes.

A new life, a new social, system, that is, socialism, is the only hope for humanity. With irresistible logic and force, the peoples of the world are truly fighting for this kind of order. When they fight for peace, freedom, security and plenty for all, they are fighting for socialism, which alone can guarantee these blessings.

Top of page

Labor Action 1945 Index | Writers’ Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 15 February 2020