From Fourth International, Vol.12 No.3, May-June 1951, pp.71-72.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Simultaneously with the Paris conference of the Deputy Foreign Ministers of the Big Four powers, the leaders of several Communist Parties have indicated a willingness to change their oppositional attitudes toward the capitalist regimes in Western Europe.
Most significant was the declaration made by Palmiro Togliatti, chief of the Italian Communist Party. At the 7th congress of his party at Milan in April, Togliatti said that the Italian Stalinists “were ready to give up opposition in this country and in Parliament to any government which would radically modify Italy’s foreign policy so that Italy shall not be swept into the whirlwind of a new war.” He justified this offer by stating that the world situation today is analogous to the 1939-1940 period when the Italian CP offered to collaborate with Mussolini’s fascist government on the same terms.
This statement was issued shortly after Togliatti’s return from Moscow. It is clear that the Kremlin is using this mouthpiece to tell the bourgeois rulers of Western Europe that it is ready to negotiate a diplomatic agreement along the following lines. If these governments will detach themselves from the US military machine, withdraw from the Atlantic alliance, and show a more friendly, or at least neutral, attitude toward the Soviet bloc, the Stalinists in return will abandon further struggles against the reactionary policies of these regimes and even accord them support.
Such an offer bodes no good for the labor movement in these countries. For, if the deal should go through, the Communist parties will be fully placed at the service of the capitalist politicians and the industrialists and, once again as from 1945 to 1947, participate in their drives for production speed-up, profiteering at the expense of labor’s living standards, inflation, etc. The Stalinist leaders would ignore the demands and muffle the protests of the exploited, and, where the grievances of the workers did burst forth in action, would try to repress them in the name of national harmony and international peace.
Togliatti’s olive branch has been tendered to the clerical-capitalist regime because of the imperative needs of Moscow’s foreign policy.
Washington has sent Eisenhower to speed the military reorganization of its North Atlantic partners. The Kremlin is anxious to delay and disrupt the imperialist war preparations there. It is banking upon the strong “neutralist” sentiments among the ruling circles throughout Western Europe and the revulsion against another war among the masses to secure a favorable reception to its proposed deal.
Some commentators are inclined to discount Togliatti’s trial balloon as nothing but a ruse to sow confusion in the West. But there is no reason for supposing that this offer was not seriously intended. However much it may run counter to the caricature of the Kremlin’s intentions drawn by American propagandists, a deal of this type completely conforms to Stalin’s traditions and outlook.
The Voice of America depicts the Kremlin as a boundlessly aggressive and expansive force, arming to the teeth, conniving to snatch power throughout Europe and Asia, fomenting revolutionary uprisings everywhere, and bent upon marching in all directions at the opportune moment to conquer the world. This is more like a distorted reflection of imperialism’s own image than an accurate representation of the Kremlin’s real aims and plans.
What the Kremlin really wants, and what its diplomacy aims at, is not world domination through another world war or a world revolution, but class peace through another division of spheres of influence with the United States. Stalin would like nothing better than a return to his collaboration with the Western imperialists on the model of Yalta, Teheran and Potsdam.
It should not be forgotten that up to 1948, in compliance with Moscow’s line, the Communist Parties beyond the Soviet Union were pursuing a policy of submission to the capitalists; fulfilling their bargain in good faith as agents of the imperialists within the labor movement. In France and Italy they entered coalition cabinets and helped revitalize the paralyzed capitalist regimes by calling for “production first, no strikes.” In Italy the CP went so far as to approve a shameful agreement with the Vatican.
Matters have taken a different turn since 1948, not because the Kremlin decided to drop its alleged mask and reveal a revolutionary face, but because the US strategists began to tighten their containment of the Soviet domain and step up their military program. The Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan and other features of the “cold war” compelled the Kremlin and its agencies to devise counter moves against the greater aggressiveness shown by Washington.
This reflex to the increased belligerence of the imperialists has been largely responsible for the oppositional policies and encouragement of strikes by the Communist Parties in Western Europe. But this recent leftward turn imposed upon the Stalinists does not mean that the Kremlin has given up all hopes of another bargain with Western imperialism.
The gist of the “peace program” put forward through the Stockholm appeal and at the Warsaw Conference and chanted in all keys by Stalinist spokesmen is the compatability of what they call the “socialist sector” of the world centered at Moscow with the surrounding capitalist system. The British CP recently came forward with a promise to back the Labor government if it would accept the program of harmonious “co-existence” of British capitalism with the Soviet Union. The “peace” movements sponsored by the Stalinists here in the United States have the same aim of pressuring or persuading the Truman administration to enter negotiations with Moscow.
In this way the Kremlin is telling the capitalist powers: “Make a deal with us, let there be a status quo, call off the dogs of war – and we will guarantee you through the medium of our parties no more troubles with the workers, no revolutionary disturbances for a period of years.”
The big hitch in any such resumption of the coalition with the “democratic” imperialists is Washington’s unwillingness to make terms and grant concessions to which the Kremlin can accommodate itself. Since it cannot now make a global deal with the United States, the Kremlin bureaucracy must do what it can to interpose obstacles to the menacing advance of its enemy. In Eastern Europe it has squeezed out the bourgeois elements and their representatives and integrated these countries more and more strictly into its orbit. In Asia it is utilizing the national revolutions to bleed the US forces and impede their military plans.
In Western Europe Stalin seeks to woo the ruling classes-who are frightened by the prospects of a new war, doubtful of America’s abilities to protect their interests, and eager for aid to hold down the unrest among their working people. If a lesser deal with them could be consummated, it would not only serve the Kremlin as a temporary bulwark against the United States but as a means of pressure upon Washington as well as a sign of good faith that Moscow’s promises to sustain the tottering capitalist structures in these countries can be relied upon.
Last updated on: 24 March 2009