From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 37, 14 September 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
We have now begun the fourth year of the Second World War. If you still remember, it all supposedly began when the troops of German imperialism marched into that obscure corridor created by the First World War – the Polish Corridor. But everyone understands that this petty event, in and of itself, did not cause this war, let alone its subsequent spreading to every continent, every corner and every remote area of the world.
Huge armies now wrestle with one another over barren and bitterly hot waste and in the African deserts; naval forces of great powers do battle around obscure islands in the South Pacific, where the cannibalistic natives are awe-stricken by the infinitely more ferocious appetites and murderous instincts of the “civilized” American and Japanese forces; convoys battle through in the Arctic waters off Murmansk and struggle up the Volga to Stalingrad; great forces train, and prepare for NEXT YEAR’S battles, when the probable effort to open up the second front will be made in Northern France.
The entire world is at war; engaged in a planetary, global struggle that has boiled down to a life-and-death clash between two great camps of imperialism, both built on power politics and policies. The United Nations, headed by the English-American-Russian triumvirate, fights the Axis, headed by the German-Italian-Japanese triumvirate, for mastery of the world.
After the completion of three full years of war, and with our entrance upon the fourth blood-drenched year, it is necessary for us to draw certain conclusions both as to where we stand and where we are going. An innumerable flock of questions – how much longer will the war last? Who will win it? Who is winning now? What will happen before it is over? What will happen when it is over? These and other questions concern every American worker. Roosevelt – in his Labor Day message – has given us HIS answer: Sacrifice, prepare for worse, expect worse and perhaps it will end (some day or other). But he speaks from the narrow, class view of the American ruling class. We must speak from the viewpoint of the working class. We have two main conclusions to offer:
(1) The global, imperialist war is tending to become (if it has not already become) an international stalemate, with both of the battling camps incapable of knocking out the other, putting its knee in the other’s stomach and dictating the terms of a peace.
Both camps are too evenly matched, (the deficiencies of one – for example, in manpower – are matched by the deficiencies of the other – for example, in trained soldiery). Each time Hitler’s forces solve a problem they are confronted by a dozen other problems; each time the Allies hold tight on one front they must rush to hold another front.
This game of give-and-take, push-and-pull proceeds all over the world. Here the Allies lick Rommel in Libya; there Hitler takes Stalingrad in Russia; here the Italians get licked in the Mediterranean; there the Japanese push a few inches closer to Australia, or India. What does the whole thing add up to from the standpoint of imperialism, or world control by one combination of big powers? Zero, ZERO! The war goes on and Hitler (who promised to avoid another winter oh the Russian front) tells his people to prepare themselves for the horrors of a second winter! The rulers, all ruling classes alike, have no solution to the problems they have created through their system.
In three years of war we now realize (or should) that no one great power (Germany or America, for instance) can gain, by itself, mastery of the entire world and dictate its terms pf exploitation and order. There can be no one great, super-imperialism maintaining a stranglehold of world domination and so-called peace. The greatest challenger for this role yet, Germany, has proved the impossibility of this oft-talked-of imperialist Utopia by its failure to really organize, dominate and control the continent of Europe, let alone the world!
This is our first main conclusion: the war is approaching an international stalemate which is accompanied by a further deterioration and exhaustion of all powers involved; that the imperialists cannot bring peace in any manner or form but must continue to drag mankind along the bloody road; that not a single one of the present combatants (either singly or collectively) can win the war in the sense of imposing peace and order by superior armed force and violence.
(2) Our more important conclusion is this: that only the working class, supported by the poor farmers and lowest middle class elements, can break the stalemate and drag itself out of this deadlock. It is, obviously, the great masses of people (workers, farmers and middle classes) who are the victims of the deadlock we have described. They will do the interminable and useless fighting (be it a second front, an eighth front, a millionth front); they will be drowned in the savage blood-lettings of the Nazis; they will sacrifice everything in the war economy schemes of FDR and Churchill. The rulers call the tune, but it is the working class that pays the piper!
This point – that only the revolutionary working class can break the iron ring forged by imperialism – answers the question of how long the war will last. It will last just so long as the workers allow it to last, and not one second longer! It will last until the proletariat takes the deadlock into its own two hands and smashes it to bits with the iron bar of socialist action for peace and fraternization of all the warring forces!
If this does not happen, then – if we accept as scientific and accurate the first conclusion stated above – then the war can last into the indefinite future, with all the grim consequences that such a tragedy would have.
But we would be foolish indeed to think that this stalemate can continue indefinitely. Imperialism is already breaking at one of its weakest links, the great sub-continent of India, whose 400,000,000 have launched themselves unhesitatingly on the correct road. Let there be no mistake about it – the events in India already sound the approaching end of the Second World War!
Last updated: 7.1.2014