James P. Cannon

War and the Stalin-Laval Communique

(May 1935)

Written: February 1935.
Published: New Militant, Vol. I No. 22, 18 May 1935, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcription\HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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More poisoned fruit from the reactionary theory of “socialism in one country.”

Another deadly blow at the international working class movement.

A new step in preparation for another social-patriotic betrayal.

In the joint communique issued in Moscow on May 15 in the names of Stalin, Molotov and Litvinov for the Soviet Union, and Laval, the Foreign Minister of Imperialist France, the Stalinist betrayal of proletarian internationalism stands out in fuller measure than ever before. For a long time it has been clear to revolutionary internationalists that the course of Stalin was based on a renunciation of the international revolution and could only lead to the disorientation of the workers in the struggle against their own exploiters. Now it is written down, black on write.

The fatal leadership of Stalin was never so clearly revealed as in this infamous communique. It is a warning signal to the workers’ vanguard of the whole world to free itself completely from the influence of the Stalinist bureaucracy before it leads them to catastrophe on another “Fourth of August.”

Read this paragraph in the joint communique, as published in the New York Times, May 16:

Above all, the duty falls upon them (the Soviet Union and France), in the interest and maintenance of peace, not to allow the means of their national defense to weaken in any sense. In this regard M. STALIN UNDERSTANDS AND FULLY APPROVES THE NATIONAL DEFENSE POLICY OF FRANCE IN KEEPING HER ARMED FORCES AT A LEVEL REQUIRED FOR SECURITY.”

There can be no misunderstanding of the meaning of these words. It is clear alike to the workers and to their class enemies. The bourgeois journalists had no difficulty in interpreting it. Ralph W. Barnes, Moscow correspondent of the New York Herald-Tribune explained it bluntly as follows:

This is an indirect way, of course, of explaining to the French Communists that, in the existing circumstances, subversive propaganda directed to the French military and naval forces is harmful to the Soviet Union as well as to France.”

That’s it, precisely; the paragraph cannot have any other meaning. The “leader of the international proletariat” says to the French workers: “Do not interfere in any way with the military preparations of French imperialism: ‘M. Stalin understands and fully approves.’”

Nothing is to be done to interfere with military preparations of the French imperialists. And from that it follows relentlessly that no resistance is to be offered when war begins. The Social Democrats of Germany and France voted for the war credits of their respective Governments on the Fourth of August 1914. Following that they became recruiting sergeants for the war.

The Social Democrats carried out their historic betrayal under the slogan, “Defense of the Fatherland.” The Stalinists march on the same path under the banner of “Socialism in One Country.” The content of the actions and the results are the same.

Lenin in his time denounced the League of Nations as a “thieves kitchen” and the Versailles Peace as a brigands’ peace and the breeder of a new war. Stalin joins the League of Nations and pledges the Red Army to defend the status quo established by the Versailles Treaty.

Lenin said: turn the imperialist war into a civil war. Stalin says: Do not interfere with the military operations of your own capitalists.

The enemy is in our own country!

Last updated on: 28 July 2015