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Albert Gates

Peace Was Not on Agenda
of the Conference at Paris

(28 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 43, 28 October 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

THE Tragic Farce of Paris, more popularly known as the “Peace Conference,” has just ended. History will record it as a unique gathering. The wartime allies came to the meeting as bitter rivals. But this is riot the first tithe that warring coalitions split into contending camps over a division of the spoils. The uniqueness of the Paris Conference is that it had no authority; no power of decision!

The dreary weeks of debate, deliberation, agreement and disagreement were all preliminary exercises. The diplomats were merely using the occasion to broadcast the views of their governments in the best possible light to the world. And the peace treaties which were agreed upon by the various commissions are not yet treaties. Everything that happened at Paris is subject to a higher authority, an authority which alone can make decisions: the Big Four, or what is the reality, the Big Three.

They, and they alone, will decide whether decisions arrived at “democratically” in Paris will stand or whether they will be revised in part, or rejected in whole. The monopoly of politics follows the monopoly of power. The smaller nations of the world who survive by the sufferance of the giant military powers have no genuine rights. They play the role of “advisers,” and the Paris Peace Conference had only an advisory capacity. This limited role had already been determined by the United Nations Conference held in San Francisco in 1945.

What else could the hierarchically organized UN achieve except a hierarchically organized peace conference? The Big Four permitted the small nations to participate in organizing the “peace” of the world—but only insofar as it conformed to the pattern drawn by the two imperialist camps. But since imperialist relations are not static, and since a deterioration of relations between the powers had taken place since San Francisco, Paris could not help but reflect such changing relations.

Power Is What Counts

Now, the United States and Great Britain are quite willing to accept everything decided at Paris on the theory that the compromise agreements reached there are the best possible achievements of the former Allies and should be allowed to stand. Behind this “democratic” gesture lies the imperialist advantage they have gained through a majority voting bloc which brought some partial victories over Russia and her bloc.

But Molotov threatens to overturn some of the treaties on the simple but obvious ground that they do not suit Russia and her satellites! The so-called compromises were not arrived at by agreement, insists Molotov, but by an accidental (!) majority which the United States and Great Britain had. How different it would have been if Russia had this voting majority. Then, everything decided at Paris would have been just and proper and democratic. The very argumentation of the big foreign ministers reveal that power, military and political power, is the determinant in world political relations. Everything else, the bathos about democracy, fairness, decency, justice, brotherhood of man, peace, disarmament were merely cynical evasions of the truth. The truth is, that the democratic rights of the people and their economic security had no place at Paris.

Paris was a meeting ground of imperialists carving up the map of Europe once more, shifting peoples from one country to another, annexing territories and placing indemnities against defeated countries. And finally, in its more decisive sense, the Paris Peace Conference was part of the diplomatic preparations for a new world war. Born out of an imperialist war, the Paris Conference could do little else except the first groundwork for another war.

The UN, no less than the League of Nations, is an alliance of imperialist brigands. If its sponsors find it a little embarrassing to speak confidently of democracy, self-determination and peace in an atomic world, it is because of the composition of its constituents. As a body purposely organized to “secure the peace” of the world in order to maintain the new imperialist division of the globe, the UN could not permit the Paris Peace Conference to get out of hand by the free actions of the smaller nations who could muster a majority vote.

Thus if the sponsors of the Paris Conference are a little in doubt about the UN, they were quite boastful about the peace conference. While violating every democratic right of the European peoples, they talked loudly about peace, democracy and national freedom. Not even the organizers of Versailles were so hypocritical, though they contributed their fair share to history. Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando frankly admitted that their peace was one of revenge. They cynically acknowledged that all talk about self-determination of nations, democracy and peace were nothing more than propaganda; that such aims would be achieved only to the degree that they fitted in with the new Europe they were planning: Yet the organizers of the Paris Conference, if they are less frank than the men of Versailles, have produced results that far exceed the robbers’ peace of 1919.

What They Decided

An examination of Europe at the end of the Paris tragedy reveals the utterly hypocritical and cynical nature of the peace conference. The Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms, subscribed to by all the powers, died even before the war ended. Their requiem was merely sounded at Paris. And here is what Paris accomplished, subject to the veto of any one of the Big Three, or Big Four powers:<(p>

Imperialism Is the Enemy

The role of the Western powers and the United States could have been foretold in advance. As imperialist powers, with considerable wealth at their disposal, spine with vast colonial empires still at their command, they were able to appear a bit more magnanimous toward the smaller and defeated warring countries. Their strategy, however, was dictated by competition with Russia. The totalitarian nature of Stalinism only aided the capitalist powers to play this role to the hilt. For throughout Europe, Russia has conducted herself in a primitive, brutal conquerors way. And if Russia was highhanded in her treatment of the Eastern European and Balkan countries, her actions have in general been supported by the United States and Great Britain, as well as the Paris conference. Thus, all the imperialists share equal responsibility for the tragedy of Europe.

The large problem of European society remains unsolved. Europe is an economic wasteland; a continent economically impoverished and hopelessly divided geographically, her peoples starving by the millions. What did Paris do to alleviate this mass misery? What did it do to put the economic machinery of Europe in motion, to achieve a production of goods and food? Nothing!

Europe remains ground underfoot by the new imperialist rivalries which have emerged from the war. It is divided into two parts. Germany, a key to the problem of the continent is like an oasis in the Old World. There is no freedom in Europe. The people, having gone through years of war, must again pay for the costs of the destruction by unemployment, hunger, and reparations. They are made to pay for the crimes of their rulers—not only by the capitalist imperialists, but also by Stalin’s so-called socialist fatherland. The economic chaos of Europe has been guaranteed by the Paris conference.

This is one aspect of the great problem. But, what about peace? Did Paris further the cause of peace? Who is there that will really contend this? Quite the contrary occurred.

Peace is now a period of armed interlude between two wars. Is the next war on the agenda of today? No, but all the preparations for the next war are being made now. If war comes immediately, it will result only from the madness of the imperialist rulers, for logically it is yet too early. But the danger of war is not one-sided, not restricted to one imperialist camp. It comes equally from both camps, the Russian, as well as the Anglo-American. Those who see in the present world situation only an encirclement of Russia, the “imperialist attack on the Soviet Union,” are living in a dead past and preparing a future support of one imperialist camp against another.

The lesson of the war just fought remains: it was an imperialist war. The imperialists still are in power. They are preparing a new slaughter more deadly and destructive than the last. They are preparing an atomic war which will wipe out civilization. The hope of humanity, the hope for civilization and its survival lies in the abolition of capitalism, of the bureaucratic collectivist regime of totalitarian Stalinism and their replacement by the rule of the people, the democracy of the masses, by the socialist society of real peace freedom and security.

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