Ted Grant

Defend the Soviet Union—Fascism Can Only be Defeated by International Socialism

Written: July 1941
Source: Socialist Appeal, vol. 3 no. 9 (July 1941)
Transcription: Harry 2007
Markup/Proofread: Emil 2007

The war has taken a new turn with the attack by German imperialism on the Soviet Union. A terrible danger now threatens the first workers’ state with destruction. The greatest clash in the history of the world on a 1,800 mile front has thrown the whole international situation into a state of flux. The assault of world imperialism on the first workers’ state is no longer a Marxist perspective, but a grim reality.

The fruits of “Socialism in One Country”

Ever since they usurped power in 1923, the Kremlin bureaucracy, and its transformed appendage the Communist International, have laid all their hopes on “neutralising” the world bourgeoisie while they pursued the utopian mirage of “Socialism in One Country”. It was with his “theory” that the bureaucracy in Russia was enabled to consolidate its power and amass its privileges. In every country in the world, the policy of the Communist International was conditioned by the episodic and shifting needs of Soviet foreign policy and not on the course of the class struggle. It was this which led to the victory of Hitler, in the first place, with all its disastrous consequences.

While Trotsky was demanding an international campaign by the Communist International, warning the workers of the world of the consequences f the coming to power of fascism in Germany; demanding a united front between Socialists and Communists in Germany to prepare for civil war to prevent it, demanding in the last resort the mobilisation of the Red Army to actively come to the assistance of the German workers, if necessary. While Trotsky was urging this, the Soviet bureaucracy and the German Communist Party complacently paralysed the resistance of the German workers and allowed this “super-Wrangel” (as Trotsky called Hitler) to take power without lifting a finger.

For the Leninist tactic of the united front of Socialists and Communists against Hitler, they substituted the disastrous policy of “social-fascism” – the theory that in Germany the main danger was not Hitler but social democracy. Thus the door was left open for Hitler to take power. Civil war in Germany and its inevitable repercussions would disturb the rhythm of the Five Year Plans. Moreover, “Hitler would be too pre-occupied with breaking the chains imposed on Germany by the Versailles victors to constitute an immediate threat to the Soviet Union”, was the short sighted reasoning of these “Marxist” epigones.

With the victory of Hitler and the fear that the Western powers would orientate themselves on the programme he then put forward of “liberating Europe from the menace of Bolshevism”, the Kremlin and the Comintern threw overboard the last vestiges of Marxism inherited from Lenin. Instead of explaining to the masses that war could only be avoided by the overthrow of capitalism, they relied upon an agreement with Britain, France and America and the League of Nations to “protect” the workers’ state from imperialist attack. This was the policy which led to the stabbing in the back of the Spanish and French revolutions.

Those were the halcyon days of “Popular Frontism”, “collective security” “Pacts to stop the aggressor”, etc., which disoriented and confused the masses of the world working class who, feeling themselves threatened by German fascism, turned; under the influence or these slogans, to the support of their own bourgeois governments. It was during this period that Churchill established his reputation for “anti-fascism”, not without the zealous assistance of the Communist Party in Britain, who appealed to him to form a government of “Churchill, Attlee and Sinclair” to stand up to Hitler.

Defend the Soviet Union – World Fascism or the extension of October

This period was ended by the pact of August 1939 between Germany and Russia which shocked and disgusted the masses throughout the world and discredited the Soviet Union and the ideas of Socialism among hundreds of millions. Stalin and the Communist International oriented their policy on the pact with Hitler and demanded that the “war be stopped” by negotiated peace, which meant victory for Hitler. So indifferent were they to the fate of the workers under his heel!

Hitler could allow himself the luxury of striking against the Western rivals of German imperialism first, only because of the counter-revolutionary role which the Kremlin bureaucracy and the Comintern had played in the last period. Freed from the threat of revolution by Stalinism, Hitler marched ahead with confidence. He was able to unleash the full fury of the German war machine with the knowledge that the German masses were disoriented by the pact, and that the proletariat in the Western democracies, particularly in France, had been rendered completely apathetic and indifferent by the swift change of front by the Kremlin. It was in this soil that the astounding victories of Hitler were achieved.

But after the lightning collapse of France the Comintern rediscovered the imperialist character of the war and impartially thundered against both sets of belligerents. But all the twists and turns and squirmings of the bureaucracy, caught in the iron vice of the contradictions of world economy and the conflicting interests of world imperialism, could not isolate the Soviet State from the fate of the rest of the world. History has now inexorably presented its bill for the crimes, lies, treachery and stupidity of the Kremlin bureaucracy. The theory of Socialism for Russia alone has borne its inevitable fruit.

In the light of these events how miserable are the justifications of the sycophants of the Kremlin — the Dutts, the Pollitts, the Gallachers. “The strength of the Soviet Union assured its socialist neutrality,” they chorused only yesterday. The Soviet Union was a citadel of peace while war raged over the greater part of the world. A Fifteen-Year Plan was inaugurated on the basis of a peaceful co-existence of the capitalist world with the Soviet Union. But today it is clear that Socialism is indivisible; the cause of the workers in all countries is one. The harvest is now being reaped by the policies of the bureaucracy over the last eighteen years, who wished only to be left alone to enjoy their privileges unmolested by the march of events.

This review of the developments of the past years is necessary if we are to have a clear perspective and guide to the development of forces in Europe and the world in the immediate future.

Molotov’s nationalist appeal

The attack of Germany upon Russia could lead to the complete smashing not only of Hitler but of world imperialism, had we at the present time in the Kremlin, a leadership which based itself firmly on the masses of Russian workers and peasants, and had the perspective of the international revolution as the sole means of salvation. The supreme test is here and already the Bonapartist clique which holds the reigns of power in Moscow, has revealed its complete worthlessness. Trembling before their own masses; and with contempt and fear of the revolutionary possibilities of the world proletariat, above all the German and European proletariat, these contemptible flunkeys are clutching at the coat-tails of Roosevelt and Churchill to save them.

The appeal they issued to the Russian and German people is almost incredible. It contained all the old outworn liberal phrases regarding the “aggressor”, the “megalomaniac” Hitler, etc. Bloody Czar Nicholas could have appended his signature to this disgraceful appeal without altering a single word. Corroded through and through with Nationalism, not a trace of revolutionary socialism or internationalism even by implication pervaded this speech.
So corrupt, so degenerate have this perfidious Bonapartist clique become, that in their appeal to the Russian masses to rally in defence against the invader, they can go back only to the “magnificent” example of the defeat of Napoleon by reactionary feudal Czarism! It were as though the October revolution and the revolutionary war against intervention had never taken place. They dare not, they cannot appeal to the traditions dearest to the hearts of the Russian and international proletariat — to the tradition of the Red Army of Lenin and Trotsky, the army which was the child of October.

The Red Army has a tradition of courage, sacrifice and heroism unexampled in history. Ragged, ill-equipped, starving and militarily unskilled masses succeeded in beating back, despite the ruined and exhausted condition of Russia, the armies of intervention of twenty one different capitalist countries, as well as the traitor armies of Russian capitalism. They emerged victorious because they were inspired by the consciousness that they were fighting for a better world; for the cause of international socialism. It is this tradition which is deliberately avoided by Molotov. Decisively they have turned their backs on the internationalist mould from which the Soviet Union emerged and substituted for it bankrupt nationalism.

Stalin is doing this for reasons of self preservation. A revolution in Europe would soon lead to the Russian proletariat settling accounts with the bureaucracy. It will not be long before their agents of the Communist International will attempt to pacify the uneasiness among their members by pointing to the need to keep Britain and America from joining with the Nazis against the Soviet Union.

Having led the proletariat to disaster in one country after another, the fate of the Soviet Union and their own heads is now at stake, and all they can do is to look for succour from the Western powers. While loud in offers of assistance and protestations of sympathy, the British and American imperialists offer “clothes and shoes” in place of planes and vital equipment in the decisive period. The bombing of Germany by the RAF is not of decisive importance.

Stalin’s foreign policy has succeeded in isolating his Western frontiers from the Western powers. Every German plane, tank and soldier is being thrown in full force from the Black Sea to the Baltic. Aid from Britain and America, even in the best case, could not come till the decisive battles had been fought. Moreover, even a military victory under these conditions will not save the Soviet State. It is a significant fact that the Moscow radio, in transmitting Churchill’s speech, omitted the passage in which he referred to his hatred of Communism. Instead of unequivocally pointing to the nature of their “ally”, the bureaucracy hopes to deceive the Soviet people.

The first successes of the Red Army which threatened to destroy completely the power of German imperialism would result in an immediate agreement of all the imperialist powers, including Britain and America, to crush the Soviet Union. If imperialism emerges from this war intact, the Soviet Union is doomed.

The revolutionary potentialities

Yet the revolutionary possibilities inherent in the situation have never been greater. The German people have suffered under the iron heel of Nazi totalitarianism for nearly nine years. The peoples of Europe are being oppressed with unexampled horror. Hitler retains his stronghold only because of the fear of the German masses of an even worse fate under a super Versailles if British imperialism were to emerge victorious. From reports appearing in the snore sober bourgeois papers (Times and Telegraph) it is clear that there is universal detestation of the Nazi regime and the victories occasion no enthusiasm. But the masses, fearing the consequences of a Churchill victory, grimly fight on. The “Communist” Party press has correctly pointed out that this alone has paralysed the German workers’ struggle against Hitler.

Suddenly and without ideological preparation among the German masses Hitler has executed another reversal of policy and ordered the armies to march. This will reveal to even the most fanatical Nazi youth, the lie that they are waging a socialist crusade against “capitalist pluto-democracy,” and it cannot fail to have caused deep consternation in the minds of the German people. Only yesterday Ribbentrop had acclaimed Molotov’s assurance that the interests of the German and Russian peoples were “cemented in blood”. Without a shadow of doubt the German proletariat were waiting a revolutionary message from the Soviet government. The German workers are the most educated and culturally advanced in Europe and have a. Marxian tradition extending over seventy five years. Over 8 million Socialists and 6 million Communists recorded their votes before Hitler came to power. Thus, one in every two of. Hitler’s soldiers must have been either a socialist or a communist. It therefore becomes clear that a fraternal socialist appeal from Moscow could not fail to arouse this latent might of the German toilers, groaning under the Nazi yoke, and transform the entire picture. Given such a lead, the entire European continent would be aflame with revolution.

As long ago as 1927 Trotsky warned of the incapacity of the Stalin bureaucracy to wage a revolutionary war. This prediction is now confirmed by events.

But despite the treacherous role of the degenerate and corrupt ruling clique, the Soviet Union has tremendous potentialities. The workers and peasants of Russia will fight with a fervour and enthusiasm unparalleled by any other of the armies ranged against Hitler. In spite of the policies of Stalin, it is probable that the Blitzkrieg will this time fail. Should the Nazi machine, composed of soldiers with heavy hearts, batter itself on the resistance of the Soviet masses, and fail to make headway against the defenders of what remains of Lenin’s heritage, revolution must inevitably follow the demoralisation thus engendered. Given a leadership, it would open out the perspective of a Socialist Europe and a Socialist world. A wave of revolutionary fervour would paralyse the imperialists of America, Britain and Japan against any possibility of attack. That is why the abandonment of the class struggle by Stalin is so suicidal. By demoralising the workers of Germany and Europe, by befuddling the Soviet and Anglo-American masses, that aid can be given to the workers’ struggle against German fascism by British and American imperialism only assists Hitler and serves the interests of Anglo-American imperialism. If on the other hand, the Ukraine and the Caucasus should fall, through the failure of the Kremlin to wage a revolutionary war, this would not be the end. The war would go on and plunge mankind into complete chaos and barbarism. Only complete destruction of capitalism can prevent this.

In Britain our course is clear. The Communist Party will accept the leadership of the capitalist class under the guise of the demand for a “Peoples’ Government.” They will sabotage the struggles of the workers, as they did in France (and as the Labour leaders are doing today) with the treacherous cry that they would help Hitler. Instead of raising the consciousness of the workers by exposing the real aims of the capitalists, they will do everything to camouflage their imperialist aims. Such a policy will lead to disaster; to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the world proletariat, and to the victory of world fascism and reaction.

The policy of the Socialist Appeal alone defends the U.S.S.R. and fights for the destruction of Hitlerism by the only possible method: the method of Lenin. Only by means of the conquest of power by the proletariat, can fascism be defeated, not only in Germany but in the world, and the Soviet Union be saved from destruction.

Dark days lie ahead, but the events of our epoch are ruthlessly destroying the programmes of reformism and Stalinism. Reaction is a force — but the programme of revolution, of world socialism, is an even mightier force.

The indispensable means of defending the Soviet Union and defeating fascism is:

1. The overthrow of the Kremlin bureaucracy and the restoration of the workers’ democracy of Lenin and Trotsky.

2. The struggle for the overthrow of the British capitalist class and the conquest of power by the workers.