Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Susan Green

A Study in Imperialism —

Three News Items and Their Meaning

(22 January 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 4, 22 January 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dr. Benes, head of the Czechoslovakian government in exile, has been stirred to action by a demand that Ruthenia – which is now Czechoslovakian territory – be annexed to Russian Ukraine. This “friendly” demand was conveyed to Benes by the leader of the Ruthenian Communist Party, acting unmistakably as stooge for his boss in the Kremlin.

Only a matter of weeks ago, Benes went to Moscow and a treaty .of “friendship” was signed by the lion and the mouse, by which treaty the mouse was supposed to have been assured the continued possession of the bit of cheese known as Ruthenia. But what can Stalin do about it when, the “people” of Ruthenia have by plebiscite – we know how free such plebiscites are – denoted their “overwhelming wish” to become the children of the Little Father in the Kremlin! Benes has sent a representative to Moscow to see if Stalin may be only fooling.

This is one of several news items of the past week shedding considerable light on the all-engrossing question of peace.

Trieste and Fiume Again

Another news report concerns one of the many worries of the Italian government, such as it is. The wobbly government in Italy is afraid of what Marshal Tito may do about Trieste and Fiume, two important seaports opposite Venice on the Adriatic Sea. The port of Trieste became part of Italy by treaty in 1919. Fiume is a city to which the Italian imperialists of post-World War I vintage just helped themselves.

Marshal Tito, taking example, from his mentor in Moscow, doesn’t see. why Trieste and Fiume wouldn’t, look at least as well on Jugoslavia as they do on Italy.

Imperialist Covetousness

A third news story is by David Anderson writing from Brussels, Belgium, in the New York Times. Mr. Anderson tells us, that there is something of a movement afoot to separate the French-speaking Walloons from Belgium. The main source of this propaganda is the newspaper Gaulois, published in Brussels. This paper goes so far as to say that “a strip of Belgium from the Ardennes to Ostend should bit lopped off and handed to France.”

The Walloons number about 3,500,000. The Flemish Belgians number abound 5,000,000. However, the Walloon minority has in no way indicated a desire to become annexed to France – not even by the mockery of a so-called plebiscite. Mr. Anderson says that the French government is not responsible for this annexationist campaign. Be that as it may, at any rate there ARE Frenchmen of power who are responsible.

These three items of news, as stated above, cast an illuminating light on the prospects for permanent peace. Of course, there are such outstanding events as the slicing up of Poland, the slaughter of Greeks, the Allied domination of “liberated” Italy, all showing how the gangrene of capitalist imperialism and power politics afflicts the poor old body of Europe.

These three smaller items, however, are important because they show so clearly how far and how deep the gangrene has spread. There isn’t a section of that unhappy continent free from the maneuverings of the powerful for more power. There isn’t a small nation safe from the fangs of the big ones. There isn’t a national minority anywhere not considered legitimate prey by the imperialist vultures.

Can any reasonable human being conceive a lasting peace founded on such a volcano – deadly competition among the larger powers and unbearable discontent among the powerless?

It is SO obvious that this is a correct picture of post-war Europe that President Roosevelt no longer believes that the fiction of the Atlantic Charter can survive the ominous reality.

Tottering Atlantic Charter

The first indication of Roosevelt’s wavering came at his recent press conference when he sought so cynically to wipe his hands of the Atlantic Charter. The reporters present couldn’t pin him down as to whether that much-discredited piece of diplomacy is or ain’t anybody’s baby.

But much stronger proof that Roosevelt is giving up the myth of permanent peace through the Atlantic Charter was contained in his message to congress; In this message he said he would try “as hard as is humanly possible” to get peace on the basis of the Atlantic Charter. But in the next breath he gave warning that we must expect “disappointments.”

David Lawrence, columnist for the New York Sun, was moved to admonish the President for his lack of faith. Lawrence wrote:

“It might have been better if the President had exhibited a deeper confidence in the correctness of the Atlantic Charter. The runner who enters a race with a feeling he is about to be beaten doesn’t usually win the race.”

Capitalism and Peace

Mr. Lawrence doesn’t have to worry about the President’s “faith.” The latter gentleman is a pretty slick article. He is not a runner bearing the banner of liberty and peace for all peoples. He is the wily captain of the ship of American capitalism and imperialism. Is it possible that he does not know that the Atlantic Charter is merely the idealistic phraseology forming the noble front behind which imperialist wars are fought?

Now that Churchill, Stalin and the others have frankly dropped the mask of nobility in the free-for-all of imperialist struggle for balance of power, Mr. Roosevelt senses that the false-face doesn’t sit so well on him, either.

Such events as the grab by Stalin for Ruthenia, the reaching by Tito for Trieste and Fiume, the lust for part of Belgium by some French imperialists – on top of such outrages as the Polish mutilation etc. – show that peace cannot come from the rotten body of capitalist Europe.

Peace can be built only on a new foundation. The imperialist rulers must go. In England, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, the people must become their own rulers by establishing workers’ governments. Such people’s governments will guarantee real self-determination to all nations and minorities. Such people’s, governments will unite in socialist brotherhood to attain liberty and plenty for all.

Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 16 April 2016