Pierre Monatte 1935
Source: La Révolution Prolétarienne, no. 199, May 25, 1935;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2007.
Stalin’s declaration had stupefied working class and other circles. To be sure, it is important from a historic and even from a human point of view, as well as from the point of view of the interior of the party and the movement. Of such importance that it will be an important date.
Through it, May 15, 1935 will go down in history.
Is it not a capital event to hear the great chief of the Communist International proclaim that he “understands and approves the policy of national defense implemented by France so as to maintain its armed forces at the level required by its security,” a policy imposed on a reactionary government by army headquarters?
It’s possible to measure the historic importance of the event and admire the spectacle that is offered to the entire world without being at all surprised. A number of events had announced that which is now occurring, and not only for a period of months, but for a period of years. We pointed these events out as they occurred. But acts, which don’t lie, don’t speak to everyone. People have confidence in words that contradict acts, that hide them. Nevertheless, the day arrives when it is difficult, if not impossible, to act in a certain way and speak in another. You have to say what you do and do what you say. This is what has just occurred with Stalin. Let us thank him for his honesty, for his cynicism.
There are thus only two alternatives: forestall Hitler and carry out a preventive war, with the near certainty of crushing Hitlerite Germany, or else wait a few years for Hitler’s attack, with a serious chance of being beaten.
We reject both hypotheses. That all military headquarters look upon the world with the same eyes is only natural. He would be blind who is surprised by this. But that the great chiefs of the world revolution should reason like military men, this we don’t understand. Far from understanding, and even more from approving it, we firmly say that no more in 1935 than in 1914 will we march against Prussian militarism. He is blind who doesn’t understand that the workers of France, of Germany, of Russia, of all countries, must smash the infernal cycle in which Stalin and Laval, Voroshilov and Weygand, Hitler and Mussolini want to enclose them.
Since 1919 we have said that the Versailles Treaty must fatally engender new causes of war. The causes are on the eve of producing their effects. Hitler is the product of the Versailles Treaty. He will not be destroyed without destroying his roots. But these roots will not be torn out unless we remake a world with no borders, unless we see class spirit prevail over national spirit.
At the same time that Franco-Russian diplomacy prepared the war against Hitler, as was the case a few decades ago, preparing the destruction of German militarism, the bureaucracy of the Third International, interpreter of Russian patriotism, for its part prepared the morale of the working class; it enriched the communist catechism with a chapter on the fatherland. At Communist electoral meetings everyone heard the recitation of this new chapter, the singing of these new couplets that, alas, are quite old not only for Cachin, finally at his ease, or for Vaillant-Couturier, happy to finally be able to put back on his beautiful uniform, but for all those young people who reproach us for having been , during the last war, simple Zimmerwaldians and not revolutionary defeatists.
Stalin doubtless believed that the preparation of spirits was sufficiently advanced that he could speak as he did and thus satisfy the demands of the French government. He knew he could count on the servitude of the good professional bureaucrats of the French Communist Party. He knew they’d obey him . He supposed that the followers would follow. He tripped himself up when he thought that this was all there was to the French revolutionary movement.