From Fourth International, vol.3 No.7, July 1942, p.195-200.
Transcribed, Edited & Formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for the ETOL.
Washington’s Plans for Europe – Stalin’s Commitments to the “New Order” – The Meaning of His Search for New Strategic Frontiers – The Real Plight of the Soviet Union – The Soviet Need for the European Revolution and the Kremlin’s Counter-Revolutionary Basis
Elsewhere in this issue, Marc Loris analyzes the reactionary content of the post-war “order” adumbrated in the recent speeches of spokesmen of the “democracies.” We need add but little to his incisive refutation of the claim that world capitalism can rise renewed like a phoenix and create the prosperity and security after the war’s devastation that capitalism was unable to create before the war. A simple question answers the demagogy of Vice-President Wallace’s promise that everybody in the world will have a quart of milk a day after the war: What prevented world capitalism from giving everybody a quart of milk a day before Hitler’s rise? And, since 1933, has Hitler been interfering with the cows all over the world?
Since Marc Loris’ article was written, two items have appeared in the press which indicate the counter-revolutionary character of the “new order” of the democracies. The June 29 Newsweek publishes “an outline of the State Department thinking that inspired Under-Secretary Welles’ recent discussion-stirring remarks about a ‘cooling-off period.’” Point 2 of the outline reads: “the prevention of revolutions in vanquished countries.” Point 4 reads: “the ‘probationary’ establishment of liberal governments in the conquered countries which would be watched for their trustworthiness and ability to maintain democratic law and order.” Since the fascists and their collaborators are to be disarmed, punished and in other ways rendered harmless with the war’s end, it is clear that the “democratic law and order” will be aimed against the left and not against the right. The armed power of the “democracies” in the conquered countries is to be backed up with food shipments, reports James B. Reston in the June 30 New York Times: “it is pointed out in Washington” that “unless the food and other raw materials are brought immediately to the conquered and enemy countries, war may be followed by a revolution that would jeopardize the chances of writing a constructive and lasting peace.” A corollary of this is that where revolution does take place, no such food will be forthcoming – in the same way that the Allies starved out the 1919 Soviet regime in Hungary and threatened an economic blockade of Germany if a Soviet regime were established.
Extremely significant in this connection is the formula of Welles’ Memorial Day speech concerning punishment of those responsible for the war. “No element in any nation will be forced to atone vicariously for crimes for which it is not responsible,” said Welles; but he also said that “’Individuals, groups or peoples responsible for the war will receive swift punishment.” (N.Y. Times, May 31.) This formula is simply a “clever” restatement of that of Churchill’s spokesman, Lord Vansittart, who calls for the punishment of the entire German people. If post-war conditions require it, under Welles’ formula the “individuals, groups or peoples” in Central Europe who constitute a revolutionary threat to the new “order” will be labelled subject to punishment as responsible for the war. This formula will provide a juridical sanction for “international police” action against those “individuals, groups or peoples.”
Stalin has committed the Soviet Union to support of this post-war “new order.” Such is the unambiguous meaning of the post-war provisions of the May 26 British-Russian Treaty and the June 11 US-Soviet Agreement.
In order to obscure the real meaning of our criticism of Stalin’s counter-revolutionary policy, the Stalinist press is once again pretending that we Trotskyists oppose any and all pacts between the Soviet Union and capitalist nations. The July Communist asserts that Trotsky “denounced the prospective alliance of the Soviet State with the United States.” This is a deliberate lie. The fundamental attitude of Trotsky and the Fourth International toward such military alliances was laid down in the theses, War and the Fourth International (1934), as follows:
“In the existing situation an alliance of the USSR with an imperialist state or with one imperialist combination against another, in case of war, cannot at all be considered as excluded. Under the pressure of circumstances a temporary alliance of this kind may become an iron necessity, without ceasing, however, because of it, to be of the greatest danger both to the USSR and to the world revolution.
“The international proletariat will not decline to defend the USSR even if the latter should find itself forced into a military alliance with some imperialists against others. But in this case, even more than in any other, the international proletariat must safeguard its complete political independence from Soviet diplomacy and thereby also from the bureaucracy of the Third International.”
The military clauses in the British and American pacts are undoubtedly an instance of the “iron necessity” visualized by Trotsky, dictated by the fact that, contrary to all Stalin’s boasts before war began, the Soviet Union is militarily weaker than its Nazi opponent.
The necessity of Soviet military alliances with imperialist powers cannot, however, serve to justify the clauses in these pacts which commit Stalin’s regime to support of an imperialist “peace” and post-war “order.” No word-twisting can justify these clauses as required for the defense of the Soviet Union. On the contrary, these clauses create new dangers for the Soviet Union, both in the present war and in the post-war world, as well as striking terrible blows against the world revolutionary movement.
Let us analyze the most important of these clauses:
1. No separate peace with ANY government in Germany.
The pact with Britain commits the Soviet Union not to make any armistice or peace with any German government – i.e., including a Workers’ Government which would arise from a revolution in Germany – except with the consent of Great Britain. Here are the words of Article II of the pact:
“The high contracting parties undertake not to enter into any negotiations with the Hitlerite Government or any other government in Germany that does not clearly renounce all aggression intentions, and not to negotiate or conclude, except by mutual consent, any armistice or peace treaty with Germany or any other State associated with her in acts of aggression in Europe.” (Our emphasis.)
If these words mean what they say, then no matter what kind of government is established in Germany, the Red Army is obligated to continue hostilities against it until British imperialism agrees to a cessation of the war. If the workers of Germany rise and overthrow Hitler and his capitalist masters, they will find themselves still officially at war with the US-British-Soviet alliance.
American and British imperialisms, which fear socialist revolution in Germany – even more than they fear Hitler, would of course refuse to enter into an armistice or peace treaty with Soviet Germany – they would declare it outside the pale of diplomatic intercourse, as the Allies did to the young Soviet Republic during 1918-21. By the terms of the Anglo-Soviet pact, the Soviet government would be obligated, at the least, to refrain from entering into an armistice or peace treaty until the “democracies” gave their consent.
Pravda’s editorial commenting on the pacts, in dealing with this section, states merely:
“... the treaty precludes any possibility of negotiating or concluding an armistice or peace treaty with Germany or any other state associated with her in acts of aggression in Europe, except by mutual consent.” (Reprinted in July 1942 Communist)
If the treaty could be interpreted to mean that a Workers’ Germany would be otherwise treated, we can be sure that the Pravda commentary would have said so.
2. The disarming of ANY Germany. Article III, section 2 of the Anglo-Soviet pact provides that
“... they will after termination of hostilities take all measures in their power to render impossible the repetition of aggression and violation of peace by Germany or any of the States associated with her in acts of aggression in Europe.”
Here again there is no distinction between an imperialist Germany or a Workers’ Germany. By this formula British and American troops can carry through military occupation of a Germany in which the workers have overthrown the Nazis and their capitalist masters. What would then happen to the revolution we know: what would have happened to the Soviets if Germany or the Allies had been able to occupy the young Soviet republic?
By what conceivable logic could anybody claim that the defense of the Soviet Union requires military occupation of a defeated Germany? A defeated Germany is, obviously, no longer capable of “repetition of aggression” for a long time to come. It took Germany, after the 1918 defeat, twenty years to prepare again for war. This alone makes it clear that those who “will after termination of hostilities take all measures in their power to render impossible the repetition of aggression,” will in reality be taking measures, not against another war but against a socialist revolution in Germany.
These clauses dealing with post-war Germany completely identify the Kremlin with Anglo-American war aims against Germany. They make it impossible for the Soviet Union to arouse the German proletariat to overthrow Hitler, since the USSR, like the “democracies,” holds out only the prospect of a second and worse Versailles.
3. The “aggressors” having been defeated, then disarmed and kept disarmed, what then happens in Europe? For a period of twenty years, by the terms of the Anglo-Soviet pact, the signatories
“agree to work together in close and friendly collaboration after re-establishment of peace for the organization of security and economic prosperity in Europe.”
In the US-Soviet Agreement it is stated that
“the Governments of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics declare that they are engaged In a cooperative undertaking, together with every other nation or people of like mind, to the end of laying the bases of a just and enduring world peace securing order under law to themselves and all nations.”
Pravda’s commentary on the pacts says:
“The treaty considerably widens the scope of Anglo-Soviet cooperation, which in the future will be extended not only to the conduct of the war, but to all problems connected with the peace settlement, as well as to realization in the post-war period of the principles enunciated in the declaration made by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill on August 14, 1941, known as the Atlantic Charter, to which the Government of the USSR has adhered.” (July 1942 Communist)
The Stalinist Daily Worker waxes lyrical over the postwar millennium, in an editorial entitled A Great Day for Democratic Mankind:
“These points of the US-Soviet Agreement guarantee the peaceful and cooperative co-existence after the war of the world’s two greatest powers, America and the Soviet Union. They point the way to a world in which national independence, security from aggression, and peaceful progress will be developed jointly by these two great countries in close collaboration with Britain, China, and other peoples and nations.
“These points, In short, open a new epoch in world history. They open the doors for ‘the century of the common man.’” (Daily Worker, June 12.)
If “the century of the common man” can be achieved under the leadership of the capitalist United States what, then, happens to the class struggle, socialist revolution and world socialism to which Stalinism still pays lip-service? Up to now the Stalinists relegated socialism to the period after the present, but with assurances that the postponement was temporary. Thus the Stalinists justified support of the “democracies” for the sake of defeating fascism after which, presumably, there would be a return to revolutionary struggle. Now, however, they call for support of the “democracies” after the defeat of fascism – for the period of “the century of the common man.” Why only a century? If “enduring world peace,” “economic prosperity and security,” “peaceful progress” can be obtained under capitalism, why should there ever again be any need of the class struggle and socialism?
Why, indeed? The Stalinist leader, Robert Minor, proceeds to vigorously protest against Attorney General Biddle’s prediction that there will be violent class conflict in the United States after the war:
“Our country has just entered into an agreement of vast scope ... to remain united in friendly collaboration with our allies after the military conflict shall have ended.
“International relations are distinct from domestic relations, it is true. But the domestic situation no less than the world situation is decisively affected by the war; and any dogmatic assumption that the present understanding with the trade union movement for uninterrupted production must give way to violent class conflict during the readjustment at the end of the war would be the kind of stuff that is found in the speeches of Herr Goebbels but not in the scientific works of Marx. There is no reason to assume in the present world situation that the character of the ‘people’s war’ cannot extend into the readjustment after the war. It is true that history proceeds by violence; we are having that violence now, and I see no reason for Americans to assume that our country must be split wide open in violent forms of class conflict as soon as the present violence is over; such assumptions do not help toward victory.” (Communist, July 1942)
Minor’s logic is correct, granted his assumptions. If the imperialist “democracies” can conduct a progressive war, then why not a progressive peace – and a progressive world? Rosa Luxemburg in April 1915 summed up this question in one sentence: “Either the class struggle is the imperative law of proletarian existence also during war, or the class struggle is a crime against national interests and the safety of the fatherland also in time of peace.” Minor agrees with Rosa, except that he is on the other side of the barricades.
Let us recall that the “new epoch” will be bristling with bayonets; we refer to the description of the “enduring world peace” which appears in Section 3 of the Polish-Russian Treaty of December 4, 1941 which states:
“Once the war has been brought to a victorious conclusion and the Hitler criminals duly punished, the task of the Allied Governments will be to establish a just peace. This can only be achieved by new organization of international relations based on the association of democratic States in union. Such an organization to be a decisive factor must have respect for international law and be supported by the armed forces of all the Allied Governments. Only under such conditions can Europe be reestablished and the defeat of the German barbarians achieved; only thus can it be guaranteed that the catastrophe caused by the Hitlerites shall never repeat itself.” (N.Y. Times, Dec. 6, 1941. Our emphasis. [Note by ETOL: There is no emphasis marked in this quote])
Until now, no one attempted to characterize as a millennium a state of things which could be maintained only by force of arms – no one, that is, except the Hitlerites and their “New Order.” Now, however, the Stalinists are underwriting the proposition that “the century of the common man,” replete with “economic prosperity” and “enduring world peace,” “can only be achieved ... by the armed forces of all the Allied Governments.”
With victory and “the Hitler criminals duly punished,” against whom will “the armed forces of all the Allied Governments” be directed? Against a new rise of fascism? But even the Stalinists used to know that fascism arises from the decay of capitalism, is an expression of capitalist desperation. If there will be “economic prosperity,” etcetera, then there will be no danger of a repetition of Hitlerism and no need of “the armed forces of all the Allied Governments” If, however, collaboration of the United Nations is incapable of producing “the century of the common man,” then fascism will rise not only in the vanquished nations but also in the “Allied Governments,” in which case their armed forces will be imposing fascism and seeking new life for capitalism by seizing the resources of the Soviet Union. Either the armed forces of the “democracies” are unnecessary in the post-war period or they are a menace to the Soviet Union. There is no third alternative.
Contradictions abound not only within Stalin’s present formulas but also between those and what he said yesterday. As late as the History of the CPSU (1939), Stalin still conceded that the USSR would be in danger so long as capitalism existed:
“But there was also the international aspect of the question, namely, the sphere of the relations between the Soviet Union and the capitalist countries, between the Soviet people and the international bourgeoisie, which hated the Soviet system and was seeking the chance to start again armed intervention in the Soviet Union, to make new attempts to restore capitalism in the USSR. And since the USSR was as yet the only Socialist country, all the other countries remaining capitalist, the USSR continued to be encircled by a capitalist world, which gave rise to the danger of capitalist intervention. Clearly, there would be a danger of capitalist intervention as long as this capitalist encirclement existed. Could the Soviet people by their own efforts destroy this external danger, the danger of capitalist intervention in the USSR? No, they could not. They could not, because in order to destroy the danger of capitalist intervention the capitalist encirclement would have to be destroyed; and the capitalist encirclement could be destroyed only as a result of victorious proletarian revolutions in at least several countries.” (History of the CPSU, p.274.)
The “century of the common man” is also a century of capitalist encirclement. But now this no longer constitutes a danger to the Soviet Union, according to the Stalinist dithyrambs about the new pacts. Thus, in addition to deluding the world masses concerning the post-war world, in particular Stalinism is attempting to lull the masses of the Soviet Union into a false sense of security.
The buncombe about post-war world security is exploded by the Kremlin’s attitude toward post-war frontiers. In addition to the war aims he shares with the “democracies,” Stalin has one of his own – reincorporation into the Soviet Union of the Baltic states and the territories seized during the HitlerStalin pact from Finland, Poland and Rumania and some additional territory. On June 2nd the Moscow correspondent of the New York Times, Ralph Parker, sent a cable, either directly inspired by the Soviet Foreign Office or certainly approved for sending, which stated:
“It is Soviet Russia’s declared and reiterated aim to bring back under Soviet power the Republics of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, (Finnish) Karelia, (Polish) Moldavia, (Polish) White Russia and the Ukraine, now largely under Nazi domination.
“Except for Latvia and Estonia, which have an outlet to the Baltic, all these republics border foreign countries and therefore have a peculiar strategic importance to the Soviet Union.
“During that period envisaged by the Atlantic Charter and before the victorious nations can afford to disarm, these regions are likely to play an important role in the Soviet Union’s security and it would be surprising if the realistic-minded men directing the Soviet Union’s destiny during the war should abandon a single inch of territory that is strategically important during the armistice period.
“Exactly what these limits of security are is a matter difficult to determine in detail, but a study of military history indicates that the Danube delta and the Carpathian watershed are parts of them, while only by control of the Baltic republics can Leningrad feel safe from the west and only by control of the Karelian Isthmus from the north.
“For the Soviet Union the situation of the Baltic republics after victory is outside of discussion. Every Red Army man believes that the Red Flag will be hoisted again in Vilno, Kaunas, Riga and Tallinn.
“These are axioms of the Soviet war aims, understood throughout the Red Army.” (N.Y. Times, June 3, 1942.)
It is notable that this dispatch was sent after the May 26 signing of the Anglo-Russian Treaty. The insistence on the Danube delta, the Carpathian watershed and the Karelian Isthmus indicate that present Soviet demands go considerably beyond the territorial gains of the Hitler-Stalin pact period.
It is now well known that before the Anglo-Soviet Treaty was drawn up, the Kremlin demanded a British guarantee of restoration of Russia’s frontiers of June 22, 1941, plus slices of Rumania and Finland. The British were reluctantly disposed to agree, but Roosevelt intervened against it, and the Kremlin yielded to the extent that the question of frontiers is not dealt with in Anglo-U.S.-Soviet pacts. But in no way has the Soviet government abandoned its demand for those frontiers; it simply awaits a more propitious moment or the end of the war for making sure of those frontiers.
Why this preoccupation with new strategic frontiers? Against whom are they needed? Obviously not against the “Hitler criminals duly punished.” Obviously not against the vanquished nations, but against the victors, Britain and the United States.
Stalin’s present search for new strategic frontiers bears considerable similarity to his activities during the Stalin-Hitler pact. There is a flagrant contradiction between what is said and what is done. The land seizures from Finland and Rumania, the occupation of the Baltic states and Bessarabia constituted a frantic search for more effective frontiers against the coming Nazi attack; but simultaneously Stalin was swearing to Ribbentrop: “The friendship of the peoples of Germany and the Soviet Union, cemented in blood, has all grounds to be prolonged and stable.” (Daily Worker, Dec. 26, 1939.) The Hitler-Stalin pact was declared to have “ditched the predatory plans of the Allied warmakers against both the Soviet and the German peoples.” (Ibid., Feb. 25, 1940.) Molotov insisted “that a strong Germany is an indispensable condition for a durable peace in Europe.” (Nov. 1, 1939.) The partitioning of Poland, declared a joint Soviet-Nazi statement of September 28, 1939, should “make an end to the war existing between Germany on the one hand and England and France on the other,” and should the “joint efforts” of Germany and the Soviet Union for peace fail, “then the fact would be established that England and France are responsible for the continuation of the war, and in case of continuation of the war the Governments of Germany and Soviet Russia will consult each other regarding the necessary measures.” (Ibid., September 29, 1940.)
Who was fooled by these fawningly pro-Nazi statements from the Kremlin? Certainly not Hitler, who proceeded with his attack on the Soviet Union according to his timetable. The world working class was fooled, and alienated from the Soviet Union by the Kremlin’s support of the Nazis and the unexplained seizures of land.
The contradiction between the pro-Nazi avowals and the land seizures actually aimed against the Nazis expressed the bureaucratic character of the Kremlin’s defense of the Soviet Union. The Kremlin has no faith in the world working class and its future; it does not care how it outrages the sentiments and aspirations of the masses of the world, so long as the policy of the moment may help in securing such tangibles as frontier changes, economic aid or military equipment from the Kremlin’s imperialist “allies.”
Hence now, in exchange for aid from the United States and Britain, the Kremlin is more than ready to pay in return with the services of the “Communist” parties and the Kremlin signature on treaties which tell the masses to believe that the “democracies” are waging a progressive war and that they will organize a progressive peace and ensuing world order. That the masses are thereby delivered into the hands of their oppressors is no concern of the Kremlin bureaucrats. That the masses are rendered completely unprepared for tomorrow’s attacks by the “democracies” against the Soviet Union is also of little concern to the Kremlin which considers deluding the masses a very small price to pay compared with present imperialist aid and strategic new frontiers. The pacts with Britain and the United States are thus the latest indication that the Kremlin has no faith in world revolution and stakes its future on deals with the imperialist powers and, when those fail, purely military resistance.
Stalinism, clinging to its theory of the success of “socialism in one country,” evolved the theory that the Soviet Union may be in danger from military intervention but never from its own economic backwardness. Why, however, is military intervention so threatening – now from Germany and, if it is defeated, then from the victorious Anglo-American bloc? The Soviet masses have demonstrated their superior morale against the imperialist enemy. If in spite of that Germany has won such terrible victories, it is because German capitalism remains superior in its economic power, its technology, to that of backward Russia, whose productivity per capita, the Communist now admits (January 1942 issue), is “considerably below that of Western Europe.” This superiority of productivity per capita of the great capitalist nations is a danger to the Soviet Union not only in the form of military intervention. As Trotsky put it, a Ford tractor may be just as dangerous to the Soviet Union as a Creusot gun, “with the sole difference that while the gun can function only from time to time, the tractor brings its pressure to bear upon us constantly.”
Backward Russia’s inferiority in productivity per capita, despite the gigantic achievements of planned production, cannot be overcome until advanced technology is made freely available to the Soviet Union by successful socialist revolutions in one or more advanced countries. Meanwhile the security of the nationalized property of the Soviet Union rests on the monopoly of foreign trade, which prevents the capitalist nations from dumping cheap goods on the Russian market in competition with the nationalized industries. Had the capitalist trusts been able to sell their goods at will within Russia, the Soviet Union would long go have fallen under the economic (and hence political) sway of the imperialist world.
The Nazi destruction of, a large part of Soviet industry will leave Russia, after the war, in an even more unfavorable situation, especially vis-à-vis American mass production of consumers goods. Lower productivity per capita will be tremendously exacerbated by smaller total productive capacity.
The Anglo-American pacts promise Russia economic aid after the war. But on what terms? Identity of American and Soviet war aims, according to the present Stalinist formula, is due to the fact that even the giant American monopolies, recognizing that “the life of their nation is at stake,” are willing to aid Soviet Russia. That, however, is for the war. What of the peace and its aftermath? It should be obvious that the monopolies will then trade with Soviet Russia only on terms advantageous to monopoly capitalism. Devastated Russia will not have available for export sufficient raw materials to pay for its needs in consumers goods and machinery.
The problem, then, will be one of long-term credits. Secured by what? The credit of the Soviet Union? But if that is not considered sufficient security by monopoly capitalism, what then? At this point in their dealings with weaker states, the monopolies seek economic concessions, control of mines and oil wells, etc., and special privileges for selling goods in the markets of the weaker countries – i.e., imperialist penetration. In the first years of the Soviet Republic the urgent need for capital and goods led Lenin and Trotsky to a few experiments on a small scale; the idea of such concessions was soon abandoned, not the least reason being their potentially dangerous effect on nationalized economy. The danger will be even greater from such experiments after this war. As for permitting capitalist monopolies to sell goods directly in Russia – i.e., to deal directly with the peasants and workers – that would mean the end of the monopoly of foreign trade, direct competition between capitalist products and Soviet factories – and nationalized property would be the vanquished.
Is Stalin promising economic concessions and abrogation or modification of the monopoly of foreign trade? Hints to this effect are asserted in the American press comment on the US-Soviet agreement, referring to the following clause of Article VII:
“... the final determination of the benefits to be provided to the United States of America by the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in return for aid furnished shall include ... the elimination of all forms of discriminatory treatment in international commerce and ... the reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers.” (Our emphasis.)
Do “other trade barriers” include the Soviet monopoly of foreign trade, which the imperialists have always looked upon as a barrier to economic penetration of the Soviet Union? What else could be meant, so far as the Soviet Union is involved? The USSR has always been more than willing, in return for much-needed capital goods, to sell to the capitalist world whatever could be spared in raw materials without damaging the nationalized economy. If that is all that were meant by the clause quoted, why is it needed in the pact? Obviously something additional, something new, is meant.
More important than the question whether Stalin has already committed himself to economic concessions or tampering with the monopoly of foreign trade, is the indubitable fact that Nazi destruction of Soviet industry has already left the Soviet Union in a condition desperately requiring outside aid. After the war, we repeat, that aid will be forthcoming only at a price satisfactory to monopoly capitalism and with the Soviet Union in a poor bargaining situation.
It should be understood, of course, that the Stalinist bureaucracy will not of its own free will grant the imperialists inroads into Soviet economy. The nationalized property on which it is a parasite is the base on which the bureaucracy rests. This must never be forgotten. So far as it lies within its power, this bureaucracy will no more share control of Soviet economy with imperialism than it shared control with the property owners in the territories seized from Finland, Rumania, Poland and the Baltic states. It understands very well that private property and nationalized property are irreconcilable systems which cannot live together in one state. But will the bureaucracy have the power – not only political but economic – to resist the imperialist pressure of proffered capital and consumers goods? The danger of the economic inroads of imperialism, the Kremlin may think, is a long process. In this way, it is very likely, the bureaucracy may set its foot on the toboggan slide of imperialist penetration.
For the Soviet masses, of course, this is scarcely the only solution. On the contrary, the post-war crisis will pose for the Soviet masses the need of socialist revolution in the West which will solve the problems of Soviet economy by making it an integral part of the Soviet United States of Europe. If the choice were up to the Soviet masses they would without hesitation choose Soviet Europe and not dependency on American imperialism.
But the socialist revolution in Europe would mean the end of the Stalinist bureaucracy. The socialist revolution – that means to arouse the masses down to the very depths, that means that the masses take their fate into their own hands, through sovereign Workers’ Councils constituted by delegates elected in the factories, Peasants’ Councils of elected village delegates, Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Councils elected from the ranks. In short, it means in Europe the rise to power of the proletarian democracy which existed in Russia in the days of Lenin and Trotsky and which the bureaucracy step by step has destroyed since 1924. It is obviously inconceivable that such proletarian democracy could rise to power in revolutionary Europe, and leave the totalitarian bureaucracy untouched in the Soviet Union. On the contrary, proletarian democracy in Europe would be the signal for the Soviet masses to topple the bureaucracy and revive proletarian democracy. Hence the very existence of the bureaucracy is menaced by revolution in Western Europe. Hence the fundamental clash of interests between the revolutionary needs of the Soviet masses and the counter-revolutionary basis of the bureaucracy.
Before Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union, various “democrats” (including Norman Thomas) raised the bogey of a Stalinized Europe developing as the “democracies” and the Nazis exhausted each other. Stalin’s success in incorporating into Soviet economy the territories he seized was cited as proof of the possibility of his swallowing all Europe. But what Stalin could do in the small areas he seized, practically all of them extremely backward and rural in economy, he would find impossible on a larger scale.
In order to wipe out the bourgeoisie in the areas he occupied, Stalin had first to call upon the masses there to establish workers’ control of capitalist enterprises, throw out and arrest the capitalists, etc. Soon enough these aroused masses were repressed, the factory committees displaced by bureaucratic managers, but first came, no matter how bureaucratically telescoped, the mass actions against the capitalists and landlords, without which it was impossible to establish nationalized property. Stalin could risk this process in Galicia and Bessarabia. But in Berlin and the Ruhr factory committees, once masters of the factories and the streets, will not be subject to bureaucratic displacement by ukase from Stalin. A few isolated committees in god-forsaken Galicia could not even have the perspective of resisting the bureaucracy. But the proletariat of advanced Germany will have that perspective. And to argue that Stalin can order the Red Army into Germany to crush the German Soviets is to credit the totalitarian bureaucracy with an omnipotence it never possessed and especially will not possess after the defeat of Hitler.
Since 1933 the Kremlin bureaucracy has tightened its grip primarily thanks to the fear of the Soviet masses of Nazi invasion. The masses for the time being subordinated their struggle for freedom against the bureaucracy. But with the defeat of Hitler, we can be sure, the Soviet masses will renew their struggles against the Kremlin, especially under the goad of the economic impoverishment of the country. If Stalin, under these conditions, were to attempt to send the Red Army against the European revolution, it would cost him his head.
Moreover, in its drive for world mastery the imperialist United States, having defeated Germany, would scarcely permit the Kremlin bureaucracy to expand into Western Europe. On the contrary, even now in the midst of the war, Roosevelt will not agree to Stalin’s proposed new frontiers. Nationalized property, whether under the rule of the Kremlin or of Soviets, in either case is property cut off from imperialism. Under no conditions conceivable would the United States permit the expropriation of the capitalists of Western Europe. If Stalin sought to displace expropriating factory committees in Germany from one side, then from the other side the United States would be moving heaven and earth to displace both Stalin and the German workers’ committees. Thus any direct move by Stalin against the German revolutionaries would appear in the eyes of the Soviet masses as a move facilitating imperialist attack on the revolution. For this reason too such a move would cost Stalin his head.
With neither genuine socialist revolution nor bureaucratic expansion into Western Europe as real possibilities for the Stalinist bureaucracy, it is clear that the Kremlin’s most likely orientation after the war will be, as we have previously outlined, economic concessions of one degree or another in return for economic aid from the United States. 1n addition to economic concessions within the Soviet Union, the bureaucracy has a very valuable bargaining point: its political services in undermining the revolutionary movement in Europe and the colonies. Along with its magnesium and gold, the Kremlin will sell the Communist International to the United States.
The pacts with England and the United States already indicate what the line of the Stalinist party would be within Germany. Stalinism would attempt to play the same role this time that the degenerate parties of the Second International carried out after the last war. The Stalinists will argue that Anglo-American tutelage of Europe is necessary for post-war reconstruction. To talk of proletarian revolution amid starvation and devastation will be denounced as “fifth column” work by the Stalinists. They will combine praise of American economic “aid” with dire threats of occupation by Anglo-American troops – just as the Social-Democrats of Weimar Germany sang hosannahs to the Dawes Plan and threatened the Communists with Allied troops.
This post-war Stalinist strategy appears formidable – until we examine the conditions under which it will have to operate. After almost a half-century of peace and relative prosperity in Europe between 1871-1914, considerable sections of the German proletariat could be induced to believe in 1918 that the war had been merely a temporary interruption and that the forward march of capitalism, now “modified” by democracy, could begin again. In this illusion lay the power of Social-Democracy. It is hard to believe that the illusion can be revived after the German workers’ experience with hunger during the Weimar Republic.
Above all, the Stalinist successors of the Social-Democrats will have no Dawes Plan to buttress them. The “stability” of the Weimar Republic during 1924-29 rested on American loans with which German industry was rebuilt. (To a lesser degree, but still a major factor of counter-revolution, were the American loans to the rest of Europe.) The American crisis, beginning in 1929, put a stop to American loans and Germany plunged downward, with only the alternatives of communism or fascism. Can the United States after this war re-finance the German bourgeoisie – and the French, Polish, Czech and English? Even for a period equivalent to that of 1923-1929?
America’s role in Europe in 1923-1929 was possible only because of the peculiar dynamics of American capitalism at that time. Unlike Europe, America gained enormously from the war. In 1914 it was still a debtor nation; it emerged from the war the greatest creditor nation in history. It sat on the sidelines during most of the war, reaping profits from supplying the Allies, taking over their markets in Latin America and Asia, etc. Of the 300 billions of dollars which the war cost, nine-tenths was paid by Europe (this is the estimate of one of the authors of the Dawes Plan, George P. Auld). Counting unpaid war loans, American war expenditures were about 40 billions – a small price to pay for the gains from the war.
Entirely different will be the situation this time of a “victorious” America. By now 205 billions have been earmarked for war expenditures; this time America must largely finance its allies instead of drawing huge profits from them. We are witnessing the Europeanization of America, as the government’s preoccupation with the inflation danger testifies. At the end of this war America at best will be, in relation to Europe, the America of 1929-1939 rather than the America of 1923. Sums which could be loaned with ease in 1923 will now seem astronomically difficult, while the desperate need of the European bourgeoisie will be far greater than after the last war. Loans will be forthcoming only on most onerous terms. Loans to Europe will be in the same category as investments in colonial countries – advanced only on the basis of the most stringent political and economic guarantees and the interest and payments sweated out of the toilers.
This is the real prospect for Europe after the war. This is what Stalin has underwritten in his pacts with Britain and the United States.
Will the pacts actually be observed? The life of treaties has become notoriously unstable. The further course of the war may turn them into scraps of paper, not to speak of postwar developments. Whatever the signatories may do, we are confident that the European proletariat – and not least the awakened Soviet masses – will throw these pacts into the dustbin of history.
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Last updated on 13.9.2008