Felix Morrow

An Exchange with Lovestone
on Finland

(24 February 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 8, 24 February 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

In the January 27 issue of the Socialist Appeal we commented editorially on a speech by a Czarist officer advocating aid to Finland. He had said in calling upon Czarist Russians to fight against the Soviet Union:

“For twenty-two years we have been waiting for this moment. Now there is a place where we can go back from.”

And our comment was:

“There in two sentences is the whole story of all the tear-jerking money-raising committees to aid ‘poor little Finland’ against ‘Russian imperialism,’ from Hoover down to the wretched Lovestoneites and Thomasites.”

In previous issues we had devoted a good many thousands of words to a painstaking analysis of the pro-Finland line of Norman Thomas’ Socialist Party and of the Lovestoneites. Both these groups have carefully refrained from answering our case against them.

At long last, however, the Lovestone Workers Age of February 17 replies. Its reply consists of a purported analysis of the editorial quoted above. It charges us with “the construction of an amalgam of labor and radical groups with the Russian monarchists, similar to the cheap and vicious type of argumentation used for the last fourteen years by Stalin against the Trotskyites.”

Is it? All that the editorial and all our articles on Finland, say is: those who support Finland against the Soviet Union are supporting an outpost of imperialism against a workers’ state. Defeat of the Red Army on the Finnish front would be followed by an imperialist invasion to destroy the workers’ state and restore capitalism.

They Argue Like Social Democrats

The Workers Age is not yet quite as brazen as the New Leader. But, at the risk of being accused of another amalgam, we must say that its cases for supporting Finland against the Soviet Union is based on the same fundamental assumptions as that of the New Leader. The latter declares it a war between democracy and dictatorship, points as proof to the house-broken social democratic deputies, and minimizes the role of Mannerheim. And what does the Workers Age do? We quote:

“Both the Daily Worker and Socialist Appeal ... raise the menace of the White Guardist Mannerheim to gigantic and grotesque proportions, with the same intent in view, to prove that Finland is a White Guard outpost for the destruction of the USSR. All those who dare to raise their voices for the defense of Finnish independence can then be dubbed as ‘agents of Baron Mannerheim.’ Great care must be exercised to conceal the fact that out of 200 members of the Finnish parliament, the largest group, 85, are socialists, and that 143 represent workers or peasants parties. Otherwise, the cry of a ‘White Guard Mannerheim regime,’ would fall to the ground, and without a Mannerheim bugaboo, the amalgam would be worthless.”

In passing, the Workers Age makes a little amalgam between the Socialist Appeal and the Daily Worker. We have pointed out the composition of the Finnish parliament; we have not called the bourgeois republic a White Guard regime. But all that is unimportant. What is most significant in the Workers Age article is that this paper of a group which once called itself followers of Lenin, has degenerated to the point where (1) it does not recognize that Mannerheim, commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Finnish bourgeoisie, represents the class in power; (2) it can adduce as a decisive counter-weight to Mannerheim the fact that impotent and cowardly representatives of reformist parties sit in the bourgeois parliament; (3) it can deny that any bourgeois country on the frontiers of the Soviet Union must serve as a base for imperialist intervention. By the by, as it were, the Workers Age throws overboard the Marxist theory of the state.

They Once Called Themselves Leninists!

Now listen to this, from people who once called themselves adherents of Lenin’s theory of the progressive role of colonial wars against imperialist powers:

“Nor is it ever explained (by the Trotskyists) why if Mannerheim’s participation in the Finnish defense ... deprives the Finns of our sympathy, the same is not true for China and Chiang Kai- shek ... Because Chiang Kai-shek is head of the Chinese Nationalist government, are we therefore to bless the Japanese invader and deny the Chinese masses our sympathy and support?”

The only logic by which this extraordinary paragraph would make sense would be by the argument that in all wars we oppose the “invader.” But we would defend China against Japan if China were the initiator of hostilities. We, as followers of Marx and Lenin, don’t choose sides on the legalistic argument of who crossed whose frontier line first, but we choose sides by a class criterion: the workers against the bosses, workers’ state against capitalist state, oppressed colonial people against imperialist. Yes, one must defend these elementary Marxist propositions today against the Lovestoneite ex-Leninists.

In the characteristic style of all the social democratic war mongers these days, the Lovestoneites conclude with a denunciation of our belief that “the end justifies the means.” Yes, we recognize no separation between ends and means. Neither does any naturalistic ethics which has broken with supernaturalism. John Dewey’s “crime” to religionists is precisely that he establishes that means have no meaning apart from ends. But the Lovestoneites will scarcely trouble to find out what the concept really means. It sounds like an epithet, thanks to religious propaganda, and so they hurl it at us. Who hurls it? The people who defended Stalin’s frameup trials against Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek and Piatakov!

Last updated on 17 July 2018