Joseph Hansen

Stalin’s Speech Reflects Fear of World War III;
Shifts Line on Character of Imperialist Conflicts

(2 March 1946)

Source: The Militant, Vol. X No. 9, 2 March 1946, p. 6.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
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In his February 9 speech, Stalin made a singular revision in the Kremlin’s previous official estimate of the character of the Second World War and of the possibilities for enduring peace after the defeat of the Axis powers.

As recently as September 2, 1945, when Japan lay prostrate, Stalin solemnly assured the world:

“Now we can say that the conditions necessary for the peace of the world have already been won ... The long-awaited peace for the nations of the whole world has come.”

But on February 9, 1946, Stalin abruptly announced a very grim perspective:

“The war arose in reality as the inevitable result of the development of the world economic and political forces on the basis of monopoly capitalism ... As a result of these factors, the capitalist world is rent into two hostile camps and war follows.”

Recalls Past

To place this new pronouncement in proper perspective, it is necessary to recall Stalin’s political line since June 1941, when Hitler attacked the USSR. Stalin called on the Soviet masses to fight, not under the banner of international socialism, but under the flag of the most vulgar nationalism. He called, on the Soviet soldiers to fight, not in the heroic example of the leaders of the October 1917 revolution, but in the example of Czarist generals.

No attempt was made to win ever the soldiers in the German armies by means of revolutionary propaganda, such as the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky found so successful. In fact, such methods were deliberately rejected, and the German people as a whole were denounced and slandered as guilty for Hitlerism. At the same time Stalin exempted the “democratic” Allied powers from any share in the war guilt. Stalin placed this guilt exclusively upon fascism and the German people.

Bitter Cost

In the consequent bitter fighting, millions of Soviet citizens unnecessarily lost their lives and the war was prolonged far beyond what it might have been had Bolshevik methods of revolutionary socialist struggle been utilized. Stalin assured the masses of the USSR that with the crushing of Germany, the Soviet Union would be safe among the “freedom-loving countries.”

The Kremlin has now tossed this line into the ashcan. Stalin’s February 9th speech places the blame for the war on the capitalist system as a whole.

From this premise, it follows inescapably that the danger to the Soviet Union and the threat of a Third World War has not been removed by the crushing of the fascist “aggressors.”

Moreover, the speed with which this danger is mounting can be judged from the fact that Stalin was forced to change his line a bare five months after he announced that the “conditions necessary for the peace of the world have already been won”! Stalin’s fears can likewise be judged from his boasts about the power of the Red Army, his emphasis on the military strength of the Soviet Union, his saber-rattling about Soviet capacity to produce armaments and his demands for new sacrifices from the people.

If Stalin’s new pronouncement is correct – that the Second World War sprang from monopoly capitalism – then this war was no less imperialist in character than was the First World War. In that case it was the revolutionary duty of genuine communists in every country to oppose their own imperialist ruling class and its predatory war aims.

This was the contention of the Trotskyists throughout the war! Yet for stating this plain fact, the Trotskyists were denounced, persecuted and slandered as “Hitlerite agents” by all the Browders on Stalin’s payroll.

Stalin’s speech is a confession that throughout all the turns and twists of the Kremlin, no matter how the bureaucracy lied about the possibilities of the workers’ state indefinitely coexisting peacefully with world capitalism, the stable, constant element which has decisively determined all other relations was the capitalist encirclement of the

Soviet Union. So long as this encirclement continues, the danger to the USSR remains.

This was what Lenin and Trotsky declared again and again and wrote into the basic programmatic documents of the Third International in its early revolutionary period before the Stalinist bureaucracy usurped power in the Soviet Union. Trotsky upheld this Bolshevik thesis to the day he was assassinated by a Stalinist GPU agent.

Thus Stalin’s speech serves to underline the perfidious role played by the Kremlin bureaucracy and its foreign agents during the war. By renouncing the struggle for world socialism and by openly supporting Allied monopoly capital, Stalinist policy served to undermine the defense of the first workers’ state. Far from bringing world peace, this policy has helped lay the basis for World War III. It is now becoming clear that Hitler’s invasion was only one attempt of world capitalism to crush the Soviet Union.

Stalin, however, is forced to maintain the myth of infallibility. Consequently in direct contradiction to what he had just said, this theoretician a few breaths later announced that “the Second World War is radically different from the first in character.” Let the Stalinist hacks try to unravel that tangle!

Stalin’s “Turn”

Stalin’s speech continues the leftward turn imposed on his foreign agents. This turn began when French Stalinist leader Duclos in the spring of 1945 denounced “Browderism,” the policy of open, avowed, brazen support of monopoly capital. Stalin’s speech tips off the Fosters to maintain pressure against the Allied powers – for the time being. Starobin in the February 13 Daily Worker admitted as much: “Stalin’s speech, among many other things, confirms the general line of our course.”

This is likewise the interpretation that imperialist spokesmen have placed on this aspect of the speech. The editor of the Christian Science Monitor observed February 13: “The fact remains that something dangerously resembling ... an armaments race is on between Russia and the western world and the Stalin speech is a major milestone along the course of development of such a sense of competition.”

The Monitor observed that:

“... perhaps the speech can be regarded as the Russian reaction to the trend of American foreign policy ... If so, then it can be hoped, with reason, that the Russian policy will veer away from its present trend once it has become convinced of the change in American line.”

Correct, Says Pravda

We have quoted the Monitor inasmuch as a February 17 dispatch from Moscow reported that Pravda, Stalin’s mouthpiece, had announced:

“Not everyone in America understands Premier Joseph Stalin’s speech correctly ... (but) Johannes Steel and the Christian Science Monitor do.”

Pravda undoubtedly wished to indicate that the Monitor had guessed correctly and that Stalin’s shift to the left is a counter-move to the diplomatic offensive of Anglo-American imperialism. Pravda took this oblique means of suggesting to the Anglo-American imperialists that if they ease their menacing pressure, the Kremlin bureaucracy will be more than glad to reciprocate.

This is confirmed by the character of the speech itself. Despite his stiffer tone, Stalin was very cautious not to hit where it would really hurt the imperialists.

He did not draw the conclusion that the only hope of saving humanity from a Third World War lies in struggling for socialism on a world scale. He did not call on the oppressed colonial peoples to rise against imperialist rule. He did not call on the workers of Europe to build a Socialist United States on that continent. He did not call on the workers, of the USA to fight against Wall Street’s domination.

By these glaring omissions in his speech, Stalin notified. Anglo-American imperialism that he is still available and prepared to step forward with his right foot – for a price.


Last updated on: 18 October 2018