Ted Grant

Workers want peace—Bosses prepare for war!

Written: August 1939
Source: Youth For Socialism, vol. 1 no. 12 (August 1939)
Transcription: Francesco 2008
Markup: Manuel 2008

All the elements that are making for an international crisis are maturing at the present time. The capitalist drive towards war is assuming irresistible dimensions. Elaborate preparations, hidden and open, are being made for a new showdown in August or September which may lead to war. Diplomatic military preparations are going on in every country in Europe.

The British fleet will be at full war strength in these months. A million men will be under arms in England, the biggest peace time number on record. France is calling up extra reservists and keeping the Maginot line fully manned. The British army is being kept ready for immediate action. British troops have marched side by side with the French in parades in Paris, and British bombers have flown over France in demonstration flights.

In the meantime in Danzig, the key point in the crisis, contrary to threats and in defiance of Poland the Nazis have feverishly fortified, armed and sent thousands of troops in preparation of a coup. In an article in the Daily Telegraph it is stated that, “Germany’s military concentrations in the east and west are tremendous and almost complete.” The French Premier has declared that this is “Europe’s gravest situation for 20 years.”

The same article emphasises the international crisis. “Nobody believes,” says the Frankfurter Zeitung, “that a change of direction in British policy will satisfy Germany’s vital claims… The trouble must therefore go on.”

In bellicose speeches Poland’s rulers have announced that any attempt to annex Danzig to the Reich will mean war, and Britain and France have guaranteed support to Poland. “In event of further aggression we are resolved to use at once the whole of [our] strength in fulfilment of our pledges to resist it,” declared Lord Halifax for the Government on June 30th.

Hore Belisha has indicated the seriousness of the position of French and British imperialism in a speech made in France. “Their peoples”—read British and French capitalists—“know that the long period during which they have been privileged to enjoy great wealth and great sway on easy terms has been closing.”

In order to keep their hands free of European complications, the British capitalists have been compelled to beat a temporary retreat in the Far East. Japan, taking advantage of the troubled situation, has forced British imperialism to grant them indirect support for their war in China. This horse deal in itself is a significant proof of how little the British imperialists are genuinely concerned for peace or in fighting “aggression.” Their main concern, as of all imperialists, is with protecting and adding to their pitiless exploitation of the colonial and other peoples in the world.

The armaments expenditure still goes on, mounting to staggering proportions; £730 million is being spent on arms in Britain this year alone. The British and other Governments are preparing colossal burdens for the masses of the people in order to further their war preparations.

The negotiations in Moscow for a military pact are still dragging on, with Britain and the Soviet Union manoeuvring for advantages and haggling over the details of military commitments. Here again it can clearly be seen that the aim of the British imperialists is the protection of their interests and nothing else.

The ideological preparations for the slaughter continue apace. Goebbels’ propaganda ministry continues to broadcast attacks on the inhuman treatment of the colonial peoples by the “plutodemocracies”, which for their part monotonously retort with denunciations of the atrocities committed in the totalitarian states.

Marshal Smigly-Rydz announces that the Polish people will fight to the last man for Danzig. “Poland does not want war but for us there are things worse than war and one of these is the loss of our liberties.” In the house of the hanged one should not speak of the gallows. The Polish capitalists who have murdered, terrorised and oppressed Ukrainians, Galicians, Germans, Jews and other minorities, in addition to the suppression of the workers and peasants, have the astounding impudence solemnly to talk of the “defence of liberty”.

The British press has quoted these words approvingly, including the workers’ press. Arthur Greenwood for the Labour Party has said that much as he loves peace he loves liberty more and demands that Nazi Germany be stopped. The Labour Party has issued a manifesto to the German people to take action against their rulers in the interests of peace. The B.B.C. have had the major part broadcast to Germany. This has resulted in a fury of indignation among the Nazis in Germany. The Daily Herald of July 5th comments “They”—German newspapers—“do not like it because the Labour appeal treats the German people as human beings, as comrades, as partners in a common heritage. But the German government treats them as pawns, as counters, as gun-fodder.”

The laying of the burden for conducting the struggle against war on the shoulders of the German workers has aroused the righteous indignation of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Referring to the Labour appeal they point out that our task is to struggle at home, and then go on to demand a redoubled effort for the overthrow of Chamberlain as the ally of Hitler, Hitler’s Fifth Column, etc.

If anything the hypocrisy of the Communist Party is even more blatant than that of the Labour Party. Both deceive the workers of Germany and of Britain as to the real causes of the conflict which is impending. True enough, Hitler uses the German people as pawns, counters and gun-fodder. But in the cold blooded calculations of British, French and Polish imperialism, the workers in these countries too are so much cannon fodder to be used to defend their capitalist interest—nothing more.

The new found interest of Britain in “liberty loving” Poland and the integrity of Eastern Europe is by no means motivated by an altruistic love of humanity. It is fear of the successful rivalry of German imperialism.

The Daily Herald of July 1st admits the real cause of the conflict to be not different ideologies but the clash of interests of rival imperialisms. The old imperialism must be ended, they appeal, if lasting peace is to be preserved. To urge the imperialists to cease to be imperialists is like asking carnivorous beasts of prey to cease eating meat and live on porridge. So long as imperialism and capitalism exist they must perforce go to war because of the conflict of economic interests.

The British capitalists are no better and a great deal more hypocritical than their German rivals. Our job lies at home. If there is one thing which is preventing the capitalists from going to war up to now, it has been fear of the wrath of the working class.

Desperately the Brawn capitalists are attempting to find some way out of the impasse in which they have landed. The offer of a loan of £1 million to Germany by R. S. Hudson, Minister for Overseas Trade was an impulsive attempt to find some compromise. All the capitalists of the world are afraid of the war which is developing, not because of any concern for human life but for fear of the inevitable revolutions which will arise from it. But even so they find a solution impossible. They may manage to delay the outbreak of war for a short period but that is all.

To the workers, and especially the youth who are now being trained in the use of arms in the militia and the army, we say: your enemy is not the youth in other lands; it is the capitalist class at home. There is only one way to prevent war and if it breaks out to end it, namely, by the overthrow of capitalism, the real root from which war springs.