James P. Cannon

They Overlooked the German Situation

Written: July 1931.
First Published: Editorial Notes, The Militant, New York, Vol. 4, No. 14, 11 July 1931, p. 4.
Source: Microfilm collection and original bound volumes for The Militant provided by the Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, California. Additional bound volumes from Earl Gilman’s collection, San Francisco, California.
Transcription\HTML Markup: D. Walters.
Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (January 2012).
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The first answer of the American Stalinists to the Hoover moratorium was a shocking revelation of the theoretical degeneration which has been brought into the Communist movement under the flag of “socialism in one country.” The Russian Opposition attacked this theory from the very start as the cover for a fundamental revision of the Marxist doctrine of revolutionary internationalism, tending to turn the attention of the national Communist parties away from the problems of the international revolution to the pacifist office of “frontier guards,” who would “defend” the Soviet Union while a complete socialist society was being constructed there. The first comment of the Daily Worker on the new American intervention in Europe is another demonstration of the fact that Comrade Trotsky and his Marxist fellow-thinkers did not overstate the case.

Reducing all complexities to one common formula, the Daily Worker had no difficulty in explaining the moratorium proposal to its readers. The issue of June 22, following the publication of Hoover’s statement, devoted a leading editorial to the subject. From this statement of Hoover, says the editorial, “there can be no further doubt of the position of the United States as organizer and leader of the international anti-Soviet front.” Hoover’s statement, continues the editorial, “should alarm every worker as an immediate war threat against the first workers’ Republic.”

On this single theme the entire editorial is developed. As to the direct and immediate aim of the American proposal – to head off the proletarian revolution in Germany – and as to the connection of the proletarian revolution in Europe with the defense of the Soviet Union and the consolidation of its victory – on these questions the editorial of the Daily Worker had not a word to say.

And that was not a mere oversight. The theory of socialism in one country began by overlooking the international revolution and removing it from the agenda of practical tasks of the day; and could not do otherwise, for the two conceptions are incompatible. The American students are faithful to their Russian teachers – and paymasters.

Yesterday the oncoming proletarian revolution in Spain was viewed with uneasiness in Pravda because it threatened to upset the European equilibrium and endanger the Five Year Plan. Today the German revolution is overlooked in the Daily Worker, which sees only “defense” of the Soviet Union – as though there could be any real and permanent defense except the revolution in other countries. The whole sequence of blunders and crimes which has flowed from the Stalin leadership – in Russia and on a world scale – has proceeded from a theory that is fundamentally false.

The reactionary theory of socialism in one country is no abstraction, remote from the problems and tasks of the day, as many are apt to regard it. No, it is the thread which ties all the current revisionist policies together and unites them into a system. And for that reason, the struggle for a regeneration of the Communist International on the foundations of revolutionary internationalism is preeminently a struggle to free it from the debasing influence of this theory.

Last updated on: 5.1.2013