William Gallacher 1940

The Communist Party and Peace

Source: International Press Correspondence, Volume 20, no 31, 3 August 1940. Scanned, prepared and annotated for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

The Communist Party of Great Britain was born out of the struggle against the imperialist war of 1914-18. It was out of the fight to defend the interests of the workers, for peace, and the impetus and influence of the Russian Revolution of 1917, that the scattered forces of the revolutionary workers were finally brought together and united in the Communist Party.

In the course of its twenty years’ history, the Communist Party has made the struggle to maintain peace and prevent imperialist war again breaking out the very centre of its many-sided activities.

We opposed everything that the Versailles Peace Treaty represented when those who are so loud in their denunciation of it today were its strongest supporters.

In almost every statement of our party policy, at every congress of the party, the burning need for uniting the forces of all who were for peace and against war, reaction and fascism has occupied a foremost place.

Year after year on the occasion of the anniversary of the last imperialist war we have conducted nation-wide campaigns, bringing before the workers the lessons of the last war; how and why wars take place; the fact that in all imperialist wars the workers of all the belligerent countries have only one class duty, that of defeating their own ruling class; the hypocrisy of any ‘capitalist peace’ being able to outlaw war or solve the problems of imperialism without having to resort to bloody conflicts, in which the workers alone are called upon to pay the full price in death, slaughter, increased exploitation and unemployment.

On the basis of this type of political campaign, the Communist Party sought to build up the unity of the workers to extend the united front of the labour movement into a wider People’s Front, which on the basis of its fraternal relations with the Soviet Union and its international connections with the People’s Front movement in Spain and France in particular, could have developed that common policy and power, which would have prevented the developments which have led to Europe once again being plunged into war by the rival imperialist powers.

We were opposed to the criminal policy that led to the war. We fought the Chamberlain [1] government at every point in order to save the people of this country and of Europe from disaster. When we were plunged into war, it became our duty as revolutionary workers to arouse the people in order that they might take power from those who had tricked and betrayed them and find their own way out of the war to peace and freedom.

Peace and freedom! That is what we are concerned with. That is what the people of this country and of all other countries earnestly desire. But peace and freedom demand not only the end of Hitlerism, they demand the end of all forms of fascism – the end of imperialism.

The ‘peace’ we got in 1918 was one through which the great monopoly powers divided up the world to suit themselves, and the masses of people in all countries, victors and vanquished, suffered from unemployment, hunger and malnutrition. The sort of ‘peace’ that prepared the way for a new world war.

If we are to get peace and freedom and an end to the conditions that promote the growth of armaments and war preparations, then it is necessary to change the whole character of property relations in this and other European countries. If the people are to be saved – and we are for the defence and welfare of the people, first, last, and all the time – then there has got to be formed a Government of the People, a government, every member of which is devoted to the service of the people and not, as is the case at present, the representatives of the banks and the big monopoly capitalists.

The lesson of France is there to be read by all. The ruling class of France, faced with a choice of their property or the safety of France, chose their property and sacrificed France.

We cannot leave the fate of our people and of our country in the hands of those whose first concern is the safeguarding of their own property rights in land and capital. This will never defend the people against fascism, but on the contrary will be the means of imposing a British form of ‘Hitlerism’ on the people of this country.

Already we have abundant evidence of what is happening. Regulations of all kinds deprive the workers and the people generally of hard-won rights that were the product of centuries of bitter struggle.

During the past few days the outcry against this process – ‘neighbour spy on neighbour’ (typical of Gestapo methods), control of the press, and Home Office persecutions – has forced the government to ease down a little, but the principal regulations are still retained with all their severity and can be used to stifle all expressions of independent opinion or criticism of the representatives of the ruling class.

The greatest war yet fought against Fascism was fought in Spain, with a democratic government, a democratic people and a democratic army. Had they been able to get arms they would have come out victorious. Had they been oppressed by Anderson [2] regulations, they would have been defeated before they started.

Therefore the Communists demand Freedom for the People now – freedom to develop their own mighty forces so that they can have their own People’s Government, then with a People’s Policy for Peace they can not only arouse the revolutionary fervour of the French and German people, but in friendship and alliance with the Soviet Union, restore peace to Europe, end the terror and menace of Hitlerism and imperialism and thereby free all nations and all peoples from oppression and slavery.

The occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the formation of the Communist Party finds our party at its post valiantly leading the struggle against monopoly capitalism and those who have betrayed the real interests of labour by supporting the war. We are confident that our party will, as every event more and more proves the correctness of our policy, receive a greater and greater measure of support from the mass of the people, and that they will find the way to organise that common unity, purpose and action, that will bring a new People’s Government to power in Britain.


All notes have been provided by the MIA.

1. Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940) was a Conservative MP during 1918-40, Minister of Health during 1923, 1924-29 and 1931, Chancellor of the Exchequer during 1923-24 and 1931-37, and Prime Minister during 1937-40, heading the coalition National Government which declared war on Germany in September 1939.

2. John Anderson, First Viscount Waverley (1882-1958) was a career civil servant. He was elected to Parliament in 1938 as a National candidate for a university seat, was Home Secretary for the first 13 months of the Second World War, and subsequently held other posts in the wartime Cabinet.