Editorial Notes

Why So Hot?

(April 1932)

Written: April 1932.
Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 15 (Whole No. 111), 9 April 1932, p. 4.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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We have been watching with considerable interest, and even with a little alarm, the steadily rising temperature of the editors of the Workers’ Age about “the poison of chauvinism” which is seeping into the Party in their absence. If it is a real fever, and if it hangs on much longer and continues to get hotter, something is bound to happen, either to the patient or to the thermometer.

Of course, it may be an artificial temperature. We have heard of such cases. A few years ago a girl in the middle West baffled the doctors with what appeared to be a chronic fever, far higher in degree than the human system normally can withstand. Every time they took her temperature the thermometer registered 110 or over. In spite of that the patient appeared to remain hale and hearty and in good appetite, as everybody will admit is the case with the burned-up Lovestoneites. The mystery was solved when the doctors caught the patient napping and discovered that her temperature had been induced by hot water bags concealed about her person. She was only fooling.

If the Right wingers are simulating delirium by some dodge of this nature, an extenuating circumstance must be acknowledged: it is not often that they have a chance to get excited about the opportunism of other people. And they naturally make the most of it. We now learn from the Workers’ Age that the Stalinists’ demand for the expulsion of the Japanese diplomats from America is chauvinistic, and that chauvinism in turn is “the crassest form of opportunism”. This is precisely the way they characterized “Trotskyism” a few years ago. But, as the saying goes, every season has its vegetable, and we will not stop to quibble over definitions. The point now is that the Lovestoneites, viewing the present situation darkly, expect things to get worse and worse. Chauvinism, they say, “is being pumped into the veins of our Party, in ever greater quantities and in ever more virulent forms.”

Are they really so disturbed? And if so, why? It is true that the slogan of the Party leaders is a false one, and it is likewise true that it contains the germ of a social-patriotic deviation. But the motivation of the slogan is far from outright chauvinism. As a matter of fact it is not inspired directly by the attitude of the Stalinists toward American imperialism, but by their mistaken conception of the defense of the Soviet Union, which they disconnect from its basic foundation of internationalism and international revolution. Under the tutelage and corrupting pressure of Stalin these ex-revolutionists and hired functionaries have replaced proletarian internationalism with the theory of socialism in one country. “Socialism” is to be built in the Soviet Union, and the mission of the Comintern is ... to prevent intervention. The revolutionary workers in the other countries are assigned to the debasing role of pacifist frontier guards.

Motivated by these conceptions, the Stalinists of the American Party, imagining the chief danger to the Soviet Union at the moment to be an attack by Japan (and there also mistakenly), can think of nothing else but to concentrate their attack on Japanese imperialism. The conclusion is not without a certain logic. It is false because the theory from which it flows is false to the core.

But the Right wing were united with the Stalin Centrists in the manufacture of this counterfeit theory, and they still defend it no less ardently. National socialism is the foundation theory of Right wing politics. That is why their agitation against a slogan that derives from this theory sounds the more artificial as it increases in volume. This suggests the idea that they have a perfect control over their own fever. In this case an early return to normality on their part may be expected.

Last updated on: 31.5.2013