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Susan Green

A Lesson on “Peace” Points

8 Plus 4 Equals 0

(25 August 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 34, 25 August 1941, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Not because the two great angels of peace terms were impelled by democratic motives, but for “purely military reasons,” Roosevelt and Churchill issued to the people of their two countries eight vacuous points as a substitute for information about the mysterious sea conference.

These so-called peace aims of the great democrats were supposed to have the effect of making every mother’s son grab a gun, the wheel of a tank, a parachute, or something and go forth to battle for the beautiful new world to come after Hitler is licked.

To date, the newspapers have not reported any raids at the recruiting offices either here or in England. On the contrary; what has become apparent’ is that the masses of both countries have very publicly stuck tongue in cheek. THEY HAVE THEIR DOUBTS.

The Memory of Yesterday

Consciously or unconsciously, the experience does not impress itself on the masses. The doubts of today are based on the disillusionments of yesterday. In the memory of the masses reading the eight points of Roosevelt and Churchill linger the fourteen more idealistic points of another “champion of democracy,” Woodrow Wilson. They see with their own eyes the calamity into which Wilson’s “ideals” brought them.

In many respects the Roosevelt-Churchill claptrap resembles the Wilson formula – although nowhere near as precise or “attractive.”

They both describe a world – after the war, of course – which will be blessed with freedom of the seas, with disarmament, with international economic cooperation instead of economic barriers, trade and colonial rivalry.

Wilson’s post-war paradise led to the greatest blockade of the seas, the most stupendous armaments, the most insurmountable economic barriers, the deadliest trade and colonial rivalry – in all history. And it must be noted – and given full force and effect – that all these “unidealistic” developments took place in a world in which the “barbarous hun” had been conquered and the “great democracies” were ruling the roost. WHY SHOULD ANYONE EXPECT ANYTHING DIFFERENT AFTER THIS WAR?

The reason why Wilson’s points ran up to fourteen is that he took up in detail each of the nations involved in the last war: Russia, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, the Balkan states, Turkey and Poland. All these countries were to be tucked away permanently – neatly wrapped in their sovereignties, national rights, equal opportunities, etc. – and live happily ever after. The result was the delayed action bomb planted in the middle of Europe, which exploded in the face of the world in 1939.

The Road to Wars Is Paved ...

Roosevelt and Churchill do not go into all this detail. They economize on points, but not on generalities, about England and America not seeking aggrandizement, about “freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned,” about restoring “sovereign rights and self-government” to those who have been forcibly deprived of them. It is with just such high-sounding words that the everlasting road to imperialist wars has always been paved.

Let us also note, in passing, that the “great democracies,” formulating thus their good intentions, did not mention such places as India for instance, or Porto Rico, where people have been forcibly deprived of their “sovereign rights” and all that – nor did Roosevelt and Churchill even have their own oppressed colonies remotely in mind.

Two major points made by Wilson are entirely omitted from the latest edition of the capitalist peace points. Remember the one about “open covenants” openly arrived at – about diplomacy proceeding “always frankly and in the public view”? During the last war the notion got around that if there had not been secret diplomacy, the war could not have taken place. Wilson was going to remedy all that and have the international robber bands always lay all their cards on the table. But Wilson’s remedy, the cards, the table and everything but the robber bands, were completely lost in the imperialist shuffle of the last score of years.

One Empty Shell for Another

So short has become the life-line of treaties and laws that it doesn’t matter how they are made. Nobody takes them seriously. Not only in international politics are treaties made today and torn up tomorrow, but in national politics too. It is, for, example, quite moral to replace a law conscripting young men for one year by extending the time to two and one half years – after the conscripts are in the camps, of course.

It was very wise indeed of Roosevelt and Churchill to leave out all references to diplomacy, national or international, secret or open. Why stir up a stink?

The other important point made by Wilson and omitted by Roosevelt and Churchill pertained to "a general association of nations,” which later took form in the infamous League of Nations; deceased. That deformity was in its prime the instrument through which the conquerors of the last war imposed their will on the lesser nations. Yet it was the empty shell! of international democratic procedure, so to speak.

Today Roosevelt and Churchill do not want even the empty shell of international democratic procedure. Just as Hitler disposes of Parliament as senile and feeble, so do the “great democrats” dispose of all international parliaments. They know that American and British imperialism will control the earth if they win the war. And they deliberately exclude any reference to world democracy, sanctifying in advance any regime, however horrible, provided it “plays ball.”

A point that Wilson did not make which Roosevelt and Churchill found it necessary to include is: “Securing for all improved labor standards, economic adjustment and social security.” Wilson did not have to make this promise on January 8, 1918, when he came out with his famous fourteen points, because the masses were then not yet fully aware of the fact that they were getting nowhere out of the war.

But twenty years of crises and depressions, of unemployment and starvation, of humiliation and suffering, of being on relief and being migratory workers, have made the masses fully aware that they got nothing out of the last bloody business.

So Roosevelt and Churchill feel compelled to pat the masses on the head and say: “No, now, don’t you worry your poor heads. We’ll give you improved labor standards, economic adjustment anti social security. So there!”

But economists are already reporting that in America alone there will be twenty million – YES, TWENTY MILLION – unemployed after the war. Other economists are scratching their heads over the post-war plans for public building projects to take up all these unemployed. There will have to be an awful lot of them to give jobs to the unemployed. Such vast projects will cost oodles of money. The governments will be so deep in the red because of the war, that they will have bad enough budget headaches without all these fancy plans.

Visualize, if you can, the labor standards, economic adjustment and social security the workers will enjoy under post-war capitalism.

That tongue in the cheek of the doubting masses is absolutely correct. But they have more to do than that.


You have to get rid of he robber gangs of all nations, with their Hitlers, Roosevelts, Churchills, Mussolinis, Stalins and others.


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