J.R. Johnson

What India Means to the American Working Class

A Socialist India Is the Only Genuine Solution

(18 January 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 3, 18 January 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

(Concluded from last issue)

The British labor leaders, Ramsay MacDonald and Arthur Henderson of old, and Attlee, Bevin, Stafford Cripps and the others of today, know quite well that if Britain were to lose India tomorrow, nothing but socialism could save Britain from catastrophe and ruin. If you read their statements on India during the last twenty years, you will see that they have not one serious word of encouragement for the mass struggle of the workers and peasants of India. From India come the huge profits which enable these bureaucrats and the better-paid aristocrats of labor to get a little of the benefits of the British imperialist exploitation. They know, and that is why they shut their mouths.

But millions of workers in Britain, by far the vast majority, have no interest in the empire at all and when Gandhi visited Lancashire in 1931 many unemployed cotton workers, who were starving as a result of the Indian boycott, wished him the best of luck.

Today, among the rank and file, sentiment for Indian freedom is very strong. But already in the British labor press it is being said that Britain does not wish to “free” India only to see it fall into the hands of Wall Street. Neither Churchill nor the British labor leaders have the slightest doubt as to the game that Roosevelt and Willkie are playing.

Labor’s International Bond

Murray, Green and John L. Lewis (yes, Lewis too) are as closely tied up with Roosevelt on this matter as Attlee and Bevin are tied up with Churchill. The statement about Wall Street, repeated above, appeared in the Tribune, the paper of Sir Stafford Cripps. That is Cripps’ alibi. All the more reason, therefore, for American workers to make it clear not only to the Indian masses but to the British people where they stand.

We must at all costs repudiate the sort of “freedom” Roosevelt and Willkie are planning for India, it is this way that the basis for the international solidarity of labor is established.

The rulers have their own foreign and colonial policy. We have seen what it is. The workers have their own foreign policy and must make it known, at the same time exposing pitilessly the policy of the rulers.

International solidarity in the struggle for socialism will come to the American masses in the same way as the Indian worker will learn to be a socialist – by constant experience with the unstable treachery of loud-mouthed leaders.

Many may believe that workers on opposite sides of the Pacific, so far separated from each other by distance, race, religion and language, without international organization, are many years away from the international solidarity which the struggle for socialism demands. We shall remind these doubters of a few facts:

Karl Marx, the greatest of all socialists, at whose name alone every imperialist jumps as if shot, founded the First International in 1864. It collapsed a few years later, but after its collapse Marx wrote confidently: “The international action of the working class does not by any means depend on the existence of the International Workingmen’s Association.” Some forty years later Lenin declared that the Russian Revolution would be saved by the working class of the world, though at that time no international organization existed. How this came true is another story, but this much can be said:

In 1914 the British workers were the most insular, the most narrow-minded, the most chauvinistic in the world. Six years later, when Winston Churchill (this very Churchill) had spent half a billion dollars to crush revolutionary Russia, the British working class gave him notice that if he didn’t leave Russia alone there would be a revolution in Britain. Seamen loaded a vessel with munitions in such a way that it could not sail. To save his skin Churchill had to capitulate.

The world today is a far tighter unit than it was in 1820. The chaos of imperialist war will teach American workers their duty to India. Meanwhile the first necessity of conscious workers is to see India not as a land over there, in the Pacific, far, far away, but to see it as Roosevelt, Willkie and Churchill see it – as a land whose future is vitally bound with ours.

Win India for Labor!

They seek to win India for capital, that is, for imperialism. We can fight this only by seeking to win India for labor, that is, for socialism. They see it and fight for it as a subject of their perpetual exploitation. We must see it as a means of oar immediate emancipation. They plan for a global war and a global imperialist peace. We must plan for as workers’ global peace, which can only be socialism.

We must see the world as broadly as the imperialists see it. In their way India is for them a vital question. We must recognize that they will win unless we in our way see that for us too India is a vital question. It is to contribute to this realization that these articles have been written.

Last updated on 30 September 2014