J.R. Johnson

Part III of a Series on Stalinism

Imperialist Policy in Iran

(22 April 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. X No. 16, 22 April 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The treaty between Stalinist Russia and Iran has appeared in the press. It is a document which the American worker should read and examine carefully in all its implications. When he realizes what it signifies, he will be able to watch the Stalinists in his union with new eyes, and throw their lying, corrupt arguments back in their faces.

The treaty arranges for an oil company in which for 25 years 51% of the profits will go to Stalinist Russia. Iran will supply the land (and the oil), Stalinist Russia will supply the equipment and wage and salary expenses for the workers, technicians, etc.

So that is what the struggle is about. An old-fashioned imperialist cut-throat scramble for oil. So that all the talk about democratic rights for the Iranian minorities was just a lot of Stalinist lies. The insurrection of the Azerbaijinian Republic, that, too, was only a Stalinist maneuver to get oil. We expect this sort of. thing from the United States and from Britain. But why from Russia, from what the Socialist Workers Party calls a degenerated workers’ state?

The SWP says that it does not support this. But if war broke out between Russia and the United States and Britain, then, it says, the workers should support Russia in the war. The Workers Party says, “No.” And it says further that however much the SWP may denounce the crimes of Stalinism, by this attitude it only helps the Stalinists and confuses the workers, miseducates them, and drags the conception of the workers’ state in the mud.

Lenin and Trotsky’s Policy

Listen to the Stalinist in the union. He will point out that Lenin and the Old Bolsheviks made treaties with capitalist states. So they did. But they did something else too. In 1921 Russia was busily engaged in trying to establish trade relations with as many capitalist countries as possible. But in June the Third International met in Congress in Moscow. Trotsky was People’s Commissar of War and Naval Affairs. He wrote an order of the day to the Red Army and signed it with his official title. Here are some extracts:

“It is a great joy and honor for the workers, peasants and Red soldiers of Russia to greet within the walls of the Red capital the best representatives of the world working class ...

“Yon have assured to the representatives of the world working class the opportunity to come together under your protection in order to elaborate the further wars and methods of waging the struggle against capitalist coercion—in the name of the fraternity, liberty and happiness of all oppressed mankind.”

The working class today has forgotten what the Russian government was in the days when it was a workers’ government. It believed in the world revolution. It organized openly for it. Lenin and Trotsky declared that only the world revolution could save mankind from another war, from devastating economic crises and barbarous reaction.

In 1923 there was a revolutionary situation in Germany. The imperialist governments of Poland and France threatened to intervene against the workers. Trotsky, Commissar of War, massed Russian troops on the Polish border and made a declaration which amounted to this:

Let the German workers and the German capitalists fight it out. We do not want war, but if the armies of foreign countries intervene on behalf of the German capitalists, the armies of Soviet Russia will march to defend the German workers.

The revolution failed to materialize. But that does not alter the facts. The workers’ state of Lenin and Trotsky was revolutionary. The workers of the world knew that. The capitalists knew it too.

What Stalinism Is

In those days Russia was a weak state. Its economy was still half-ruined. It was surrounded by powerful capitalist states, particularly Germany and Japan. Poland was its enemy. Yet it was revolutionary and survived. Today Russia is the most powerful state in Europe. Poland is its satellite. It rules over what was once Austria-Hungary. It sits on half of Germany. Japan is flat on its face. The workers all over the world are crying for help, for leadership, ready to struggle against the crimes, the barbarism, the ruin of imperialism. But not a word comes from the rulers of Russia to them. Stalinist Russia is busy grabbing territory, stealing factories from starving countries, fomenting insurrections for oil and other concessions and telling the workers that socialism is not for them today.

The Russian army today exists exclusively for the preservation of the power of the Russian bureaucracy and to carry out its imperialist banditry abroad.

That is what Stalinism is as compared to the workers’ state of Lenin and Trotsky. That is what the Daily Worker and its noisy supporters in the factories defend. The bureaucrats like Foster and Ben Davis know exactly what the facts are. The rank and file Stalinists are ignorant for the most part, having been educated in the belief that Marxism is what the Stalinist bureaucracy does or orders. But whether they are ignorant or not, their organization is a menace to the working class and to socialism. The American workers should denounce them, repudiate them and shame them if they attempt to pass off this imperialist crime in Iran as something different from the robbery and violence of American and British imperialism.

Last updated on 19 January 2019