Michel Pablo

Capitalism or Socialism?

The Coming World Showdown


From a pamphlet published by New Park Publications, 1952.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.


Anarchy or Social Revolution

The World Today
1. The New Phase of Imperialist Decay
2. The Fundamental Changes Engendered in
the Social Structure by the Second World War

The Colonial Revolution

The Non-Capitalist States: The Soviet Union,
the “People’s Democracies” and China

The Drive of Imperialism Toward War

The Class Nature of the Coming War,
and its Transformation

We Must Prepare to Conquer Quickly
and Completely

* * *


In this pamphlet I have followed the general line of the talks I had to make to a group of the young cadres of the Fourth International movement (Trotskyists) in March 1952.

I used for this purpose the analysis of the international situation and its perspectives made by the Third World Congress of the Fourth International held in 1951.

The specific aim of this work is to facilitate, in a form capable of interesting a broad working-class public, the understanding of the new period opened by the Second World War, and its perspectives of development.

Changes of an historic scope unequalled in the past have already taken place since that time, and others are being produced.

With a dizzying speed the world is being shaken, transformed, changing its foundations even to the most remote regions.

The conscious understanding of people, caught in this revolutionary whirlwind, and without an adequate preparation in social questions, lags behind the objective process.

Under their eyes, even though they do not clearly grasp the meaning and full importance of what is at stake, the decisive and final struggle between the old and the new social orders, between capitalism and socialism, is going on.

The already complicated picture of the contemporary class struggles presented by the international scene is still further obscured by episodic factors, which are historically not fundamental or conclusive, yet intervene and intermingle with the principal social forces engaged in battle. Such, for example, is the phenomenon of the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union and of the leadership of the Communist Parties.

By contributing, no matter how modestly, to dissipate the mists which prevent a clearer vision, we can pave the way for more effective revolutionary action by all those who are not satisfied with being dominated by history or being its unconscious instruments, but desire to participate in its processes with full awareness of what is involved and thus to guarantee victory.

Paris, August 1952

Michel Pablo

* * *

Chapter I
Anarchy or Social Revolution?

Mankind is threatened by a new world war, the third in this century. For millions of people who have lived in the atmosphere of these last 40 years, its history seems like a torrential sequence of upsetting events which constantly put in question whatever temporary equilibrium is achieved.

From this tumultuous course of world events they only receive an alarming sensation of being swept further and further along by immense and uncontrollable forces.

The most clear-sighted bourgeois observers now dare to speak of a process of “International Revolution” [1], which was initiated by the First World War and is far from being ended.

On the other hand their class position prevents them from grasping the historically constructive and progressive character of this process. Because it has not been accompanied “by any clear perception of alternatives” [2], this “International Revolution” they say, has led “to international anarchy.”

In reality, the idea of disorder occurs only to those people who, having linked their fate with an established social order, are incapable of foreseeing its replacement by revolutionary and not evolutionary means, by a new social order.

For people of a quite different stamp, who have long since become equipped with a profound understanding of the antagonistic, explosive nature of the capitalist regime, and grasp the perspectives of socialism, the “International Revolution” already begun, far from having degenerated into “international anarchy”, leads on the contrary toward the inevitable revolutionary replacement of capitalism by the world socialist order.

There is really only one answer to the question: “what has really happened? ” since the First World War. As in the obscure days at the end of the Roman Empire, as at the time of the Napoleonic epoch in Europe, outworn social regimes are crumbling under the blows of wars and revolutions which are interlaced with one another, and a new social order is being implanted on their ruins.

Naturally, this involves a permanent process which spreads out both in time and in territory and assumes convulsive and unique forms. It appears as though unleashed by catastrophic forces beyond anyone’s control.

This is the outward appearance of every revolutionary period in transition between two social regimes, the old one which is disintegrating and collapsing, the new one which is emerging and little by little taking shape.

We are living today in the period of transition from capitalism to socialism and the phase immediately before us for some years to come is that of the decisive and final struggle between these two social systems.

To arrive at such a conception of the present course of history, it is necessary to penetrate more deeply behind the appearances of things, to eliminate secondary, non-decisive factors which naturally enter into the composition of every phenomenon, and elevate ourselves to the level of an all-embracing world perspective.

The privilege of such a viewpoint does not belong to any “intelligent” elite.

It rather depends on the class position that a given political thinker occupies.

Intelligence regarding questions of social and political thought is the outcome of such a position.

Class traditions, education, forces and interests play a much more decisive role in this domain than arguments of pure reason. Everybody reasons according to the social environment of which he is a part, or whose pressure he feels even indirectly or unconsciously. Everyone is more or less receptive to these or those ideas, or this or that argument, not to the degree of the internal persuasive power that these ideas and arguments contain, but rather to the degree of his entire social preparation and integration.

For if it had been otherwise, “the kingdom of reason” would long since have been established on this planet instead of the extremely fantastic reality which rules in our day.

“Intelligent” bourgeois thinkers, wherever events are aiding, if not forcing them, to that conclusion, are now coming in greater and greater number to adjust themselves to the idea that the capitalist regime is irretrievably condemned, and that a kind of modus vivendi with the Socialist Revolution is better than a war which will be catastrophic, especially for capitalism. This is the so-called “neutralist” party, of the European bourgeoisie in particular – which, in the eyes of its bourgeois adversaries, is “defeatist”.

Despite this, their very class position prevents them from ridding their outlook on the historical process of a series of limitations, deformations, and absurd lamentations on the world “tragedy” now being enacted.

Insensible, if they are not thoroughly hostile, because of the social makeup of their being, to the dawning socialist future of humanity, they only now and then go beyond a negative criticism of the capitalist system. [3]

The conception of the World Socialist Revolution now going on belongs only to the revolutionary Marxists. These are the genuine ideological representatives of the revolutionary class which is the bearer of this revolution: the proletariat. Only a very small minority of humanity consciously lives through the history of its time, participates with full awareness in it, and from this very fact is already liberated in spirit from servitude to the “catastrophic”, “blind” forces which shape their destiny as well as that of the majority of mankind.

* * *

Chapter II
The World of Today

1. The New Phase of Imperialist Decay

It is not enough to speak of an era of social revolution on the march; it is necessary to comprehend its concrete factors, its causes, its driving forces, and their dynamics and their perspectives.

Those who locate the origin of the present “drama” in the disequilibrium engendered by the First World War, would like to forget, or do not understand, that the inherent antagonistic forces within the very nature of the capitalist regime operated before this war to provoke both the war itself and the disorder resulting from it.

The yearning for a return to the balanced capitalism of the end of the 19th century rests upon an ignorance of the fact that the conditions which made this equilibrium possible have already irreversibly passed over into a state of permanent disequilibrium.

It would be hard to find a more flavoursome description of this dreamed-of system of the equilibrium of yesteryear than the following:

“A system based on national sovereignty, acceptance of recurrent war, rational manipulation of the balance of power, collective world dictatorship of the Great Powers, and pragmatic temporary settlements sanctioned by enlightened self-interest and an ever-maintained mutual threat of force.” [4]

Of course, this is only the way things look to a journalist, or rather to an honest Professor of Political Science.

To Marxists, in scientific terms, this system corresponded to the culminating phase of industrial capitalism at the end of the past century, which was already intermingled with the beginnings of the imperialist decay of the regime: that of the monopolist concentration of production; of the primacy of the export of capital over the export of goods; of the division of the whole world into spheres of influence among the big capitalist powers.

Capitalist Europe ruled in the centre of this universe, surrounded by peripheral semi-colonial and colonial domains which assured the expansion and equilibrium of the system.

But when we speak of Europe, that is really an abstraction, which does not take into account the plurality of the antagonistic States which constituted it.

It was the rivalries between the principal European powers striving to re-divide amongst themselves an already divided world (the rivalry between England and Germany taking first place) which, as everyone knows, provoked the first imperialist world conflict.

This war had already settled the historical fate of capitalist Europe.

Although between 1918–1939 Europe still occupied first place in world industrial production, surpassing die United States, its productive forces stagnated, its imperialist expansion had come to a halt, and the contraction of its colonial bases had even then begun. [5]

In the capitalist heaven the star of American imperialism rose on one side and that of Japanese imperialism on the other.

The United States benefited from its immense internal market and from the decay of capitalist Europe which had become heavily indebted to it during the war.

Japanese imperialism benefited from cheap labour and from its position close to the vast markets of the Far East which it undertook to conquer by means of inexpensive goods and by means of armed force.

Thanks to the October revolution, a third force, the USSR, had wrested from capitalism a territory as vast as one-sixth of the earth’s surface, and entrenched behind its frontiers, was laying down the bases for a gigantic power of a new social order.

The great economic crisis of 1929–33 hastened the incurable decline of Europe. Europe only partially lifted itself out of this crisis by virtue of the arms economy, feverishly undertaken after 1935, which hurled it, together with the whole of the capitalist world, into the Second World War of 1939–44.

Appraised from a social viewpoint, this war was an inter-imperialist war which dragged the first Workers’ State, the Soviet Union, into its developments.

The imperialist powers engaged in this war envisaged a redivision of the world, including the USSR, between them.

However, its results are not a simple reproduction, on a somewhat grander scale, of the picture of the world bequeathed by the First World War.

History repeats itself only on the plane of analogies, and of external and superficial resemblances, while its content is in reality incessantly renewed, and thus gives rise to qualitatively new situations.

At one and the same time, the Second World War has opened a new phase in the decay of the capitalist regime and introduced a more and more ample and decisive deployment of the forces of the World Socialist Revolution, inaugurated by the Russian Revolution of 1917.

2. The Fundamental Changes Engendered in
the Social Structure by the Second World War

The world which has come out of the end of the recent war is in many respects a new world, compared with its pre-1939 state.

The capitalist regime still exists but it functions under new conditions which throw it into a permanent disequilibrium which incessantly grows greater and greater. That part of mankind which lives under a new social order, preparatory to socialism, has grown from a twelfth of the total population of the globe into a third.

The two regimes are now ranged alongside each other over millions of miles of common frontiers, in a daily test of strength which changes as constantly as the relation of forces between them.

Their co-existence, embedded in geographical facts, is not “peaceful,” but by the very different social nature of the two systems it tends towards a dynamic collision, the violent destruction of the status quo, and struggle to the death.

Every crisis, every weakness inside one or the other system is automatically translated into a reinforcement of the opposite camp.

Within the capitalist system itself its constituent elements have become structurally modified in relation to the pre-war situation.

New relations have arisen between the two so-called capitalist centres, Western Europe and the United States, not only between them as a whole but also between them and the colonial and semi-colonial countries.

Capitalist Europe has irretrievably lost its industrial preponderance within the capitalist world to the United States. [6] It has likewise lost the conditions for a new relative equilibrium comparable to that it experienced in the years between the two wars.

The semi-colonial and colonial regions which assured the balanced maintenance of its economic activity, supplying it with the necessary raw materials, and absorbing its capital and commodities, have either completely disappeared, or are in the process of disappearing, or else are in such a state of insecurity that the investment of capital, for instance, is practically prevented.

The countries of Eastern Europe, producers of agricultural products and consumers of industrial products, have been incorporated into the Soviet orbit and as a result of the “cold war”, their trade with the European West is practically nil.

Owing to the revolutions there, certain Asiatic markets have disappeared, either to the profit of the new social regime, or to the profit of their own bourgeoisie which has come to power (India, Ceylon, Indonesia.) In other countries of both Asia and Africa, the permanently prevailing insecurity considerably diminishes the profits and the possibility of profit of the imperialists (Malaya, Viet-Nam, Burma, Iran, countries of the Middle East, African colonies). In Latin America, most of the European positions have been liquidated to the benefit of American imperialism and the native bourgeoisie.

The enormous movement of emancipation which is sweeping the colonial and semi-colonial world has first of all brought European capitalism to its knees.

Europe’s position towards the United States has likewise been modified along the line of an increased and irreversible dependence.

For structural reasons, the balance of payments between the new and the old continent has permanently become of a surplus character for the first, and a deficitary character for the second.

Capitalist Europe’s requirements for goods, capital, services, commodities from the United States are irreducible, that is to say, they are indispensable for the ordinary functioning of its economy, abnormal as it is, in the new conditions of the division of labour established as a result of the second world war.

But imports of commodities from Europe to the United States do not have the same vital interest for the American economy. On the other hand, Europe’s own resources no longer permit the financing of its indispensable purchases from the United States. It follows that only permanent American “aid” can make up the dollar deficit. However, the counterpart of this “aid” is realized by political concessions which bind capitalist Europe in an ever stricter manner behind the chariot of American imperialism.

The United States itself, sitting in the centre of the modern capitalist world, where it has taken over the functions of banker and industrialist formerly exercised by England, is arriving at the height of its power at a late and fatal hour for the whole of the capitalist system. Its prodigious climb was stimulated by the immense possibilities of its internal market as well as by the needs and impoverishment of the rest of the capitalist world.

In particular, the two imperialist wars have been responsible for the colossal fortune of the United States.

Thanks to the exceptional circumstances of the last war, the United States was not only able to overcome the depressing effects upon its economy of the great crisis of 1929–1933, but has carried the concentration and capacity of its productive apparatus to a fantastic level.

The requirements of war have spurred this gallop of the productive forces.

But at the same time conditions throughout the world have become modified along lines which are contrary to the balanced development of so great a capitalist power. To maintain and increase its present productive forces, American capitalism needs unlimited territories for expansion, and markets which can extend themselves no less constantly.

Its internal market no longer suffices since its capacity for absorption not only remains disproportionate in relation to the productive capacity of American economy, but constantly diminishes, corroded by inflation.

There remains nothing but expansion on the world market.

Up to now the export of commodities and private capital abroad has played a relatively slight role in the whole of American economy.

At present recovery on a large scale would demand international conditions comparable to those which characterized the world at the time of Britain’s hegemony: vast colonial or semi-colonial reserves ready or compelled to permit imperialist expansion. But these are precisely what are lacking, owing to the changes brought forth by the recent war.

Thus American imperialism, which suffers from a glut of productive forces, is obliged to channelize its surplus into artificial markets: expenditures for armaments and gifts “abroad.” [7] The percentage of these two branches of activity in the whole of American economy by far outstrips the percentage of the export of goods and private capital, and has constantly increased since the end of the war. [8]

Thus, the State assumes the regulating function in American economy. But by this very fact, the development of American imperialism is irresistibly impelled along the road to preparation for war, and to interference of an aggressive political character into the affairs of all the other capitalist countries. [9]

These are the results of an abnormal functioning, imposed by the new international conditions upon the most powerful imperialism. It has reached the height of its power at a late hour for the whole of the capitalist system, and can no longer take the same paths of expansion that British and European capitalism in general,followed in the past.

This is the picture presented by the final, parasitic, decadent, and destructive phase of imperialism.

The need of controlling, and if possible, monopolizing the sources of raw materials throughout the world has, on the other hand, become imperative for the United States, to the degree that its own resources are exhausted. [10] “It must be kept in mind that the U.S.A, is not spending her own resources alone,” notes Mr. Aneurin Bevan in his book In Place of Fear. And he adds: “She is spending the common stock of mankind.” Only its overwhelming financial superiority over all the other capitalist countries, and the dynamism of its productive apparatus, permits so great a luxury to the United States.

The political and economic consequences of this hunt for raw materials are immense.

In purchasing and stockpiling raw materials from all over the world, the United States controls both the prices and the possibilities of production of the entire capitalist market. The dependence of the other capitalist areas, and Europe in particular, upon the United States, becomes ever stricter under these conditions.

The example of England and the sterling zone in general provides a striking illustration.

The dollar receipts of this zone come principally from the sale of four raw materials: tin, rubber, wool and cocoa.

“According to the price paid and the quantities bought, which are themselves a function of the American economic conjuncture, the dollars acquired by the sterling zone can vary from single to double or to triple.” [11]

During the boom period provoked by the Korean War, the gold and foreign exchange reserves of the British zone were increased so rapidly that the British government spontaneously renounced further Marshall Plan aid. When the prices of raw materials fell, these exceptional receipts in dollars disappeared, leaving behind them only their inflationist effects upon the British economy. [12]

On the other hand, the interference of the United States in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, which are producers of raw materials, must (if time permits) only increase. It would acquire such diverse forms as the expropriation of their former imperialist masters, or codomination with them of the colonies, in direct armed struggle against the national movements of emancipation, or pure and simple territorial conquests of these countries by the United States under one form or another.

* * *

Chapter III
The Colonial Revolution

The capitalist regime has developed in an organic manner thanks to its possibilities of expansion and exploitation in the colonial and semi-colonial areas. Its equilibrium and its very existence were at stake and depended upon this form of the international division of labour.

If we were to assume that these countries, even without becoming socialist, were all to take the road of a genuine capitalist development, industrialize themselves, and greatly develop their productive forces, that would render the existence of capitalism, as a world system, quite impossible. Such a system would explode under the pressure of the excess of productive forces which would be incompatible with the forms of capitalist production. Engels understood this when he wrote in 1895 in regard to China: “The conquest of China by capitalism will give an impetus to the overthrow of capitalism in Europe and America.”

Actually, the colonial basis of the capitalist system is in the process of being broken up by the formidable blows being delivered to it by the torrential emancipation movement of the colonial and semi-colonial masses.

This phenomenon is by far the most important of all the consequences of the Second World War, and, after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the most important event of this century.

It constitutes a capital contribution to the development of the World Socialist Revolution now going on in two ways: because it destroys the economic foundations of the capitalist system and because it stimulates the revolutionary activity of the proletarian masses in the metropolitan countries. Even if the Colonial Revolution was exclusively limited to the emancipation of China, this event would not have less importance than that already accorded it by Marx who wrote:

“One can safely prophesy that the Chinese Revolution will fling a spark into the powder barrel of the present industrial (capitalist) system, that it will provoke an explosion of the general crisis which is being prepared, and which, once it has extended over the foreign countries, will follow on the heels of the political revolution on the continent.”

The current Colonial Revolution has naturally received an impetuous impulse thanks to the historic victory of the Chinese masses over imperialism. [13] But it is not limited to China.

Fundamentally nourished by the weakening of imperialism following the war, the decay of the native possessing classes, and the powerful movement of the masses who have been subjected to an incredible regime of exploitation and oppression which they are no longer willing to tolerate, the Colonial Revolution is spreading like a chain reaction in all the countries and regions of the globe with a similar colonial and semi-colonial structure: in the Far East, in the countries of the Middle East, the African colonies, and the semi-colonial lands of Latin America.

In one sense it is absolutely logical that the dislocation goes much faster “at the extremities of the bourgeois organism than at its heart, where the regulation of its functions is easier than elsewhere.” (Karl Marx: The Class Struggles in France) All the pressure which imperialism, in league with the compradore ruling classes of these countries has exerted to check their economic development [14], to maintain their out-lived social structure, together with the shameful conditions of exploiting their masses, now rebounds with a hundredfold violence against it and its native allies.

It is not only China “shaking the world,” which has stunned the imperialist masters who up to the last war were accustomed to the passivity of the disarmed and crushed colonial masses held in check by some mercenary police and military forces. When the hurricane of the Colonial Revolution struck the Persian Gulf and the shores of the eastern Mediterranean, breaking upon lands hitherto blessed by the joint exploitation of the imperialists and native feudo-capitalists, the one word which came spontaneously to the pens of the journalists and politicians of the West was that of “Revolution.”

The scope of these events excluded any sort of subterfuge or any attempt to attribute them to the machinations of the “Kremlin” or of isolated “agitators.” All of a sudden the investigation of the social reality of this region shaken “by the Revolution” has experienced an unexpected blossoming in the bourgeois press.

Splendid discoveries have been made on the beauties of colonialism which have been hitherto ignored. For example, that the landed proprietors who represent barely two per cent, of the rural population, own 70 per cent, of the land in Iran; that the dividends paid by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation to the Iranian Government amounted to an absolutely ludicrous sum; that the daily earnings of working people in this country scarcely equal the wage for two hours of labour of a European worker, those for women scarcely an hour’s wage, and those for children no more than a few pennies a day; that in the notorious Tenth District of Teheran, 12-year-old girls engaged en masse in prostitution in order to live, while adult men and women were addicted to opium, etc. [15] There have been analogous descriptions for Egypt, as well as for the peasants and agricultural workers of Tunis, Algeria and Morocco.

But have these writers ever seriously reflected on the fact that such conditions are almost the same for the overwhelming bulk of humanity herded into the colonial and semi-colonial preserves of the capitalist system, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America? Or that the comparatively privileged level of the proletarian masses in the metropolitan countries specifically rests upon this enormous misery of the majority of mankind? The revolutionary awakening of the most exploited masses sounds the knell of the system which until now has maintained them in these abject conditions of human degradation.

It matters little that their movement of revolt in its beginnings exhibits forms which are far from clear and conscious, politically speaking.

What counts are the consequences and dynamics of this movement.

The economic-social conditions of these colonial and semi-colonial countries necessarily determine that a movement of the masses would begin on the national-democratic, and not the proletarian-socialist level, which is the fundamental character such movements would have in the case of the metropolitan masses.

The masses in the backward countries, who are in the majority petty-bourgeois peasant and city dwelling folk (shop-keepers, craftsmen, functionaries, intellectuals) are impelled in their initial and spontaneous movement to solve tasks of a national and democratic order above all: independence and unification of the country, agrarian revolution. On this account, by the very nature of these tasks their revolution begins as a national democratic-bourgeois and not as a socialist Revolution.

But already at this stage, and even if it is not directed by a Revolutionary Party representing the proletariat and the poor sections of the population, but by a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois party, these movements constitute an historically progressive factor to the degree that they attack the positions of imperialism, as is presently the case in Iran, Egypt and Bolivia.

Even if it is limited to replacing direct control by imperialism over the country with that of the native bourgeoisie, which wins power and formal independence (as in the cases of India, Ceylon and Indonesia), the Colonial Revolution is historically progressive because it curbs, if only moderately, the economic grip of foreign imperialism and permits a development, if only a modest one, of the country’s productive forces previously held back by the direct domination of imperialism.

The development of India since independence, or of Argentina under Peron’s regime, is instructive in this respect.

On the other hand, once it has begun on the national-democratic level, the Colonial Revolution has the irresistible tendency to grow over into the Socialist Revolution.

The national bourgeoisie in these countries has too many economic ties on one side with imperialism, and on the other with the native feudalists, to be able to lead a resolute and consistent struggle against either one or the other, and thus to complete, at the head of the masses, the national-democratic phase of the Revolution. On the other hand, confronted by the more and more active role taken in the Revolution by the proletariat, the peasants and the poor elements of the urban petty-bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie by virtue of a sure class instinct, sees its principal future enemy in the person of these masses.

It knows that their historic demands in large measure go beyond the framework of the national-democratic phase of the Revolution and fears their political maturing and their tempering in the revolutionary struggles they have begun together.

Thus in the very course of the struggle itself, the national bourgeoisie will be compelled to switch sides, preferring to ally itself with imperialism and the native feudalists [16], halt the Revolution half-way, leaving it incomplete, and turning against the masses.

Such a dynamism and logic of the colonial Revolution is exemplified by the different developments that the struggle involving these countries have experienced and are now going through. Everywhere in these different cases, whether India, China, Viet-Nam, Iran, Egypt or Bolivia was concerned, the struggle begins, as a rule, on the national-democratic level. That is to say, it is above all aimed against foreign imperialism for the independence and national unification of the country. In this first phase, a sort of common, front is constituted among the national bourgeoisie, the urban petty-bourgeoisie, the proletariat and the peasantry, and the political leadership passes into the hands of the bourgeois or petty-bourgeois parties. But the class struggle very quickly becomes intermingled with the national struggle, the Revolution acquires a different type of dynamism, and enters a new phase.

It then irresistibly swings toward conflict with its bourgeois or petty-bourgeois leadership, and its replacement in practice by the proletarian leadership allied with the poor peasantry.

It is this latter operation which will determine, by its success or lack of success, the victory or failure of the Revolution in its entirety, and even of its national-democratic phase. The great historical lesson which was already taught during the Russian Revolution, and which was subsequently confirmed either negatively or positively by all the revolutions which have taken place, or are now taking place, in the colonial or semi-colonial countries, is that the very triumph of the national democratic phase of the Revolution is impossible without a proletarian leadership, which replaces the bourgeois or petty bourgeois leadership.

Otherwise the Revolution inevitably finds itself blocked mid-way, and remains uncompleted, both on the plane of a genuine liberation from imperialist control, and the realization of the agrarian revolution. Let us illustrate these ideas by some concrete contemporary examples.

Let us first of all take the case of Iran, Egypt and Bolivia.

All these three semi-colonial countries enjoy a formal independence, but imperialism strives to keep them under its control.

On this account the movement of the masses began in these countries as a national-democratic movement, that is to say, primarily anti-imperialist in character, and its leadership passed into the hands either of representatives of the national bourgeoisie as in Egypt, or of representatives of the radical bourgeoisie as in Iran, and above all, in Bolivia (the Party of the National Revolutionary Movement). But in these three cases, the anti-imperialist struggle very quickly passed beyond this initial stage. The masses linked up this national struggle with that for their own class demands against the native possessing classes directed first of all against their most detested and representative leaders; the Shah, the King and their immediate entourage.

In Bolivia, the armed workers, organized in the National Workers’ Centre, put forward a programme which was practically equivalent to the establishment of a genuine workers’ power in that country. The conflict between the masses and their bourgeois or petty-bourgeois leadership is already latent and will tend to become aggravated. Only the danger of seeing this leadership pass over into the hands of the conscious left elements has compelled the most clear-sighted bourgeois elements in these countries to throw their ballast overboard, grant certain concessions, and put themselves forward as defenders of the aspirations of the masses in order to be able to keep on controlling them.

Premiers Moussadek in Iran and Aly Maher in Egypt, as well as President Paz Estenssoro in Bolivia, have in fact been placed under these conditions in a Bonapartist situation. They govern only by maintaining an extremely precarious equilibrium between the masses, the native reaction, and imperialism. All of them remind us of Kerensky before October 1917 in Russia.

The only other alternative for the ruling classes is to crush the masses and install a new dictatorship.

The case of India, Ceylon and Indonesia is a bit different.

There the national bourgeoisie governs directly, and has already succeeded for a certain time in maintaining relatively stable conditions for their regime, even though they have left, uncompleted the national-democratic phase of the Revolution. [17] This is explained by the different relation of forces between them and the other classes in these countries.

The bourgeoisie, especially in India and Ceylon, is relatively fairly strong, better organized, and continues to benefit to some degree from the prestige acquired when they led the masses during the struggle against imperialism.

However, the discontent of the masses toward them is now developing with great strides in all these countries, and the next step of the Revolution in India, Ceylon, as well as in Indonesia, will be that of its completion under a proletarian leadership allied with the peasantry which will politically and economically expropriate the national bourgeoisie.

The case of China (and of Viet-Nam in lesser measure) is characteristic of the indispensable condition required to complete the Revolution even on the national-democratic plane; the proletarian leadership of the movement must be assured against the political and economic power of the national bourgeoisie.

The conquests of the great Chinese Revolution up to now, independence and unification of the country and agrarian reform, have been achieved under these conditions, which has in fact assured the leadership of the Communist Party over the mass movement, and in practice the struggle of the latter was impelled forward by its peasant and proletarian, plebeian base against the political and economic power of the national bourgeoisie.

During the years from 1946 to 1948 and up to today, there has occurred a spectacular reversal – realized in deeds and imposed by the dynamism of the revolutionary movement of the masses – of the strategy of the Chinese Communist Party, compared to the line it followed in the years from 1925 to 1927. During the Second Chinese Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party subordinated itself to the leading role of the national bourgeoisie and of its party, the Kuomintang.

This old policy resulted in the crushing of the Revolution and a regime of ferocious dictatorship for the next 20 years in China.

The victorious Third Chinese Revolution is completing its national- democratic phase, under the power of the Communist Party, actually based upon the proletariat and the poor peasantry, and is already growing over into the Socialist Revolution. Thus, all the features that the extraordinary eruption of the Colonial Revolution has acquired in our time justify the appraisal of it as an integral part of the process of the contemporary proletarian Socialist Revolution.

This holds true in a two-fold sense. Not only because the Colonial Revolution aids and facilitates the struggle for socialism of the proletarian masses in the metropolitan countries even at its very beginning when it has a national-democratic character, but also because by its inherent dynamism the Colonial Revolution tends to grow over into Socialist Revolution, and can triumph only in its capacity as a Proletarian Revolution. That is to say, a revolution under the leadership, of the proletariat allied with the poor peasantry and directed against the political and economic power of the national bourgeoisie.

* * *

Chapter IV
The Non-Capitalist States: The Soviet Union,
the “People’s Democracies” and China

Between the two world wars the Soviet Union remained completely encircled by a hostile capitalist world. [18] The victorious revolution of October 1917 had laid down the economic and social bases of a new non-capitalist social order, characterized by the nationalization of all the means of production and the planning of the economy.

The exceptionally backward character of old Russia and the prolonged encirclement of the Soviet Union by hostile capitalist countries have greatly impeded the harmonious development of its productive forces and deprived the new system from benefiting from the very valuable aid the world market could provide for this purpose. The Soviet Union has largely developed thanks to its own very considerable resources and to the colossal efforts of its toiling masses.

Nevertheless, despite these handicaps, it has been able to progress rapidly, to industrialize itself at a pace unknown to countries under capitalism and to triumphantly survive the test of the Second World War. It then recovered with astonishing speed from the immense destruction caused by the war and is today the second industrial power in the world surpassed only by the United States. All this is attributable above all to the overwhelming superiority over the capitalist system, to the vitality and flexibility of the new system of productive relations which were established by the October Revolution.

The backward character of Russia and its encirclement by imperialism has not succeeded in destroying the economic and social conquests achieved by the Revolution.

The pernicious consequences of these unfavourable conditions have been exercised above all upon the political character of the regime emanating from the Revolution.

In Lenin’s time the Revolution established a genuine regime of the dictatorship of the proletariat allied to the poor peasantry, which based itself on democratically elected committees of workers and peasants called the Soviets.

In Lenin’s time the proletariat and poor peasants held political power directly by means of the active role they could play both in the democratic life of Lenin’s Party and in the Soviets which were genuine organs of the Workers’ State.

But this political role of the masses has been eliminated step by step by the formation, and then the monstrous octopus-like extension, of a bureaucratic caste. This bureaucracy has taken over all the political power. Instead of permitting the progressive withering away of the State as a coercive apparatus [19] – to the degree that economic progress was extended – and making it more and more democratic, the Stalinist bureaucracy has on the contrary constructed the most formidable state machine history has ever known, which holds in its iron grip the whole life of the country in all its manifestations; economic, artistic, scientific, and cultural.

The notion that the Soviet Union is now in the process of passing from completed socialism over to communism, with its internal police force more powerful than ever, and the terrible train of material misery which still exists among large sections of the population [20], could only be put forward by cynical bureaucrats [21] for consumption by naive or ignorant people.

In reality, the Soviet Union is a regime preparatory to socialism, and can arrive at its complete realization only within the framework of the world victory of socialism. This victory would eliminate the obstacles hitherto imposed upon the genuine expansion of socialism in each country taken by itself, expressed in Russia’s case by its backward character, the imperialist encirclement, and the consequent parasitic existence of the bureaucracy itself.

The breaking of the hostile imperialist encirclement, free access of every country to the possibilities of the world market, and international economic cooperation, are capital conditions for the balanced and healthy development of a Proletarian Revolution, especially one which has conquered power in a backward country. [22]

The encirclement of the Soviet Union has been definitely broken following the Second World War, and is in the process of turning into its opposite: the envelopment of capitalism by the non-capitalist countries both in Europe and in Asia.

The historical importance of these fundamental changes in the international situation, compared to its pre-war state, are still far from being realized.

The existence of Revolutionary China in Asia is in itself a fact which has already potentially sealed the fate of this continent.

If we should assume that imperialism would postpone its next war for a decade, the rise of China to the level of a great power, industrializing itself at the speed of the Soviet Union between the two World Wars, if not at greater speed – and this would not fail to come about – would dislocate the whole of capitalist Asia, including India, and Japan, by the mere effect of osmosis and by the mere contagion of example.

It is this very dynamism of the Chinese Revolution which the MacArthurite section of the American capitalist class especially fears. To avoid repeating the error made in regard to Russia in 1917, it is impelling them to try and stamp out from its first beginnings this gigantic powder magazine which sooner or later will set all Asia aflame. [23]

The changes brought about in Eastern and Central Europe are no less important for the fate of the old continent.

We have already mentioned the fact that the pre-war equilibrium of European capitalism rested in part on exchanges with the markets of these areas of the continent. These countries are now included in another economic orbit, centred around the USSR. On the other hand, they are in the process of industrializing themselves at such a pace that a few years from now both their existing structures and the relation of industrial forces within Europe would be completely modified. [24]

The consequences on the relation of international forces – taking into account that these countries, the Soviet Union and China would be fused into a single economic and strategic whole – would not be less great. [25] The case of the Eastern zone of Germany, which henceforth will be strongly directed along the same economic and social road as the other “People’s Democracies” [26], has an exceptional importance for the economic, political and social equilibrium of Germany as a whole and for its future.

This Eastern zone constitutes an advanced post of a new social order, which stands out as an insolent defiance in the very heart of capitalist Europe. In what way are the USSR, as well as the “People’s Democracies” and China, non-capitalist countries, having an economic and social regime preparatory to socialism in varying degrees?

According to Marxism, the social nature, the class nature, of a regime and of a given state are judged by the nature of its economic and social foundations, by the relations of production which are characteristic of it, and not by the form of political power or the nature of its political leadership.

Both the Soviet Union and the “People’s Democracies,” as well as China [27], are characterized in varying degrees by non-capitalist relations of production: a nationalized and planned economy. Those who are ignorant of, or have very poorly assimilated Marxist theory, minimize the importance of this criterion to define the non-capitalist character of these states, and thoughtlessly put forward the idea that nationalized and planned economy is likewise characteristic of capitalism and its organic development.

Have we not seen Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, German economy under Nazism, or American economy during the recent war, the “nationalizations” and the “plans” in different capitalist countries after the war, as well as the Labour Party experience in England?

They forget that in all these cases there have been attempts at nationalization and planning of varying extent, but always under the control of a capitalist State which is itself controlled by big capitalists who have not been expropriated but are on the contrary more powerful than ever. In none of these cases has there been a general nationalization and planning of the economy following the political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class.

The question is not a theoretical, but a practical and concrete one.

Nowhere has history yet shown the possibility of achieving general and enduring nationalization and planning of the economy without the preceding political and economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie.

Nationalized and planned economy is not a notion in the head of an economist, but above all a social reality, produced by a specific class struggle, actually waged between specific antagonistic social forces.

The new relations of production which prevail both in the Soviet Union and in the “People’s Democracies”, as well as in China, are not the product of an organic evolution of capitalism to a so-called “State Capitalism,” but of the class struggle in these countries [28], which has culminated in the violent, revolutionary, political and economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie.

This concrete way of posing the question, which corresponds to historical reality, likewise provides the answer to the following question: can these non-capitalist States nevertheless be characterized as workers’ states preparatory to socialism?

The reply is affirmative for the following three reasons.

  1. Because these States are the historical product of the struggle of specific proletarian and plebeian social forces against the political and economic power of the bourgeoisie and imperialism.
  2. Because in any event, according to the theory of Marx and Engels, the nationalization and planning of economy is the preparatory stage necessary for socialism.
  3. Because the dynamics of the international situation is evolving toward the World Socialist Revolution.

This last reason renders the hypothesis of an international social regime located between capitalism and socialism absurd. The dynamics and development of this World Socialist Revolution will tend to eliminate the bureaucratic deformations of the present Workers’ States and will facilitate the expansion of socialism in each one of them taken by itself.

Unless one refers to the historical origin of these States and to the concrete conditions which have brought forth their birth, and unless one situates them in the framework of the actual historical perspective, one must abandon the solid ground of the Marxist analysis of society to embark upon roads paved by emotional reactions and an anti-scientific subjectivism leading to reactionary conclusions.

The existing form of political power in these States, which undeniably represent a hideous bureaucratic deformation of the democratic power of the proletariat, is not decisive for the correct sociological characterization of these States.

This political form is the product of the reactionary role played by the bureaucratic leadership of the Soviet Union and of the backward character of the countries where these revolutionary transformations in the social and economic structure have up to now occurred.

These forms are not petrified and will be unable to stabilize themselves as they are for an historical period. They are transitory forms subjected to the influence of the dynamics of the international situation, which is evolving toward a world victory over capitalism.

They will not withstand such a victory but would be swept away in the course of revolutionary developments on a world scale, which constantly change the relation of forces within the proletariat between its bureaucratic leadership and the masses to the advantage of the latter.

These forms of political power are historically episodic, while the new relations of production which have been established constitute a decisive and immensely progressive factor.

It is owing to these new productive relations that these countries are passing with astonishingly swift steps over the stages toward increased industrialization and already experience a prodigious development of their productive forces which would be impossible under a capitalist regime.

Some people attribute these achievements to bureaucratic pressure upon the masses. Once again this means to take refuge in the domain of an anti-scientific subjectivism which is unable to grasp fundamental causes or to place in proper order of importance the different factors which determine a phenomenon. It is undeniable that the masses of these countries are subjected to an intensified effort of production under conditions which are often very harsh.

But both in the past as in the present, other regimes have abused the energy of the masses without achieving similar productive results, simply because the general conditions of production do not lend themselves to a development of the productive forces.

For instance, Franco exploits and abuses the productive efforts of the Spanish people, who labour under truly miserable conditions, yet the productive forces in Spain not only stagnate but even decline.

Why? Because the general conditions of production are capitalist and these not only do not lend themselves to the productive employment of the labour power of the masses but still further degrade them, thus provoking on the contrary a lowering in the general level of production.

The nationalization and general planning of the economy constitute a gigantic step forward along the road of expanding the productive forces which are hemmed in by the relations of capitalist production. And it does so despite the omnipotent and plundering role of the bureaucracy, and despite the shackle upon the economy constituted by its anti-democratic regime. This prevents the voluntary, conscious and free association of the workers, which would be infinitely more productive in the administration of the economy and in the elaboration and execution of the plans.

The upswing of the productive forces is stifled in the capitalist countries by the capitalist relations of production regardless of the productive effort of the masses. Capitalist production can develop only by virtue of a constantly extending solvent market, which guarantees the level of capitalist profit.

The upswing of forces in the countries with nationalized and planned economy is above all sustained by these new forms of production, which create for themselves their own market of a certain kind which does not depend upon capitalist profit.

This is the correct conclusion one ought to draw from an objective appraisal of the experience of the Soviet Union as well as of the “People’s Democracies”.

Of course, this economy is still very far from having eliminated all difficulties and developing harmoniously.

The backward character of the countries involved; their isolation from the world market; their control by the Soviet Union; and the bureaucratic nature of their own governments constitute so many obstacles to such a development.

A permanent crisis exists in these countries which manifests itself on three different planes: on that of the State with the peasantry; on that of the relations of the State with the workers; on that of the relations of the State with the leadership of the USSR.

Naturally there is interaction between these three planes.

However, the difficulties which arise in relations with the peasantry do not so much flow from the bureaucratic character of the political power as from the backward character of these countries and their isolation from the world market.

In most of these countries, including China, the majority of the population is peasant, and the principal question to be solved remains the collectivization of the agricultural economy.

During the national-democratic phase of die Revolution, when what is involved is the promise of land to the peasant or lightening the burden of capitalist exploitation upon them (taxes, usury, high industrial prices), it is relatively easy to cement the alliance of the proletariat and the poor peasantry against the bourgeois power.

Agrarian reform even becomes a means of generating immense revolutionary energy from the peasant masses who are able, under certain conditions, if they are assured a proletarian leadership, of gaining victory by themselves alone over the power of the bourgeoisie and imperialism.

The example of China is striking in this respect.

But when agrarian reform has been realized after the taking of power, it actually culminates in the formation of a vast section of small owners, who relapse into conservatism, turn away from politics, and bury themselves in production.

These millions of small owners, for example, still labour nowadays in Poland “in a preponderant way on an individual basis, and often even following capitalist methods.” [29] These constitute so many nests for the reproduction of capitalism through a ceaseless process of a new accumulation, a new concentration of land, and a new social polarization.

The appearance of kulaks, that is to say, of a rural bourgeoisie, is the inevitable result of such an evolution.

All the European “People’s Democracies” and China are at present preoccupied with this problem. A new phase of the class struggle has opened up in all these countries. This is once again destroying in deeds the theory of a so-called intermediate regime located between capitalism and socialism, which is characterized by the co-direction of political power by a bloc of classes and their peaceful co-existence side by side.

In reality the Revolution is proving to be permanent, and the new power which has come out of the victory over the bourgeoisie can nowhere be consolidated without the growing over of the Revolution into a genuine socialist revolution, which collectivizes all the means of production including the land.

In all the European “People’s Democracies” and China, the paramount problem nowadays, after the achievement of agrarian reform, is that of the collectivization of the agricultural economy, since the maintenance of individual private production and agriculture constantly endangers the economic, social and political equilibrium of the country.

At first the leaderships of the different Communist Parties which came to power made attempts to mask this inevitable struggle and maintained illusions of preserving for a long time a “People’s Democracy” based upon peaceful co-existence between the proletariat, the peasantry installed by the agrarian reform in the status of small individual proprietors, and even the “patriotic” part of the bourgeoisie. But these have all lamentably collapsed before the incompatibility of class interests and the inevitable resurgence of the class struggle stemming from it.

The regime of “People’s Democracy” was obliged to recognize itself as being nothing else but a regime of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which not only turns against the last positions occupied by the bourgeoisie, but also against the small and middle peasantry in order to make them enter upon the road of collectivization.

Of course the possibilities for realizing this latter task is above all a question of the economic means available, and not a matter of compulsion. The small peasant proprietors cannot be induced by force to participate in an effective collectivization which maintains their alliance with the proletariat, but only through the increased mechanization of the agricultural economy, the reduction of the gap between industrial prices and agricultural prices, and the example given through the development of state collective farms (Sovkhozes).

The intermediary phase will be traversed by means of the development of the co-operative movement in the countryside.

The leaders of the Communist Parties in power in the European “People’s Democracies” and China now acknowledge these truths in theory, but the lag in practice still remains great.

Animated by the bureaucratic character of their makeup, often forced by the demands of the Soviet leaders who control them, and under pressure from their own difficulties with the urban populations, the “People’s governments” of these countries oscillate in their policy toward the peasantry between an accelerated compulsory collectivization and precipitate retreats before the powerful resistance of the agricultural masses.

They then throw overboard a part of their own leadership which serves as “scapegoats” for their own setbacks and disappointments.

This is especially the case in countries like Roumania and Bulgaria where spectacular successive purges have taken place in the ruling circles of the Communist Parties in power. The most recent and most notorious has been the disgrace of Anna Pauker and Luca in Roumania, who were actually accused of having undertaken the struggle against the kulaks and the compulsory collectivization of agricultural economy too mildly.

The difficulties are no less great on the plane of the relations with the working masses, especially in the most developed countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and the Eastern zone of Germany.

These are manifested in the resistance put up by the workers against the intensification of labour, the speedup, the generalization of the conveyor-belt system, the extension of working hours by the day and by the week, and so on, and against the economic and political measures of a compulsive character used by the “People’s ” governments to “discipline” the workers. [30]

The deepest cause of these difficulties resides in the bureaucratic character of these governments, which are incapable of organizing the workers on a democratic, voluntary, and conscious basis, for the necessary increased productive effort. The bureaucratic regime proves itself to be not only oppressive, but uneconomic.

Finally, on the plane of relations between the national leaderships of these countries and the leadership of the Soviet Union, the difficulties come from the dominating and plundering character of the control exercised by the latter.

This is the result of the bureaucratic nature of the present political regime in the USSR, which is in the hands of a bureaucratic, marauding, omnipotent caste which has raised itself above the masses of the country, completely deprived them of political power, and is hungry for new privileges and greater power.

The control they have established over all these countries through the role played by the Red Army in their liberation, and in the establishment of the new power [31], and through its own agents in the midst of each national leadership of the Communist Parties, is not at all disinterested.

It profits greatly from this control, since the economy of these countries is more and more being planned in accord with the necessities of the Soviet plan itself, a plan which mostly benefits the Soviet bureaucracy.

On the other hand, as a regime which does not enjoy the confidence of the masses in its own country and maintains itself in power only thanks to an octopus-like apparatus of coercion, it cannot ally itself with other countries on a basis of equality and mutual confidence, but feels an evermore imperious need to keep them in its orbit by means of the strictest control possible over them.

The result of this is the entirely real phenomenon of the “Russification” of these countries; that is to say, an increased installation of direct agents of the Kremlin within the leadership of the Communist Parties and the governments.

Under these conditions it was inevitable that conflicts would take place between the Kremlin and leading national elements of the Communist Parties who were little inclined or even little capable of playing such a role. These have culminated in sensational purges of the Communist Party leaderships, trials, executions, etc., including Koxi Doge and other Albanian leaders; Kostov and other Bulgarian leaders; Rajk and his Hungarian companions: Gomulka and his Polish associates; Slansky and other Czechoslovak leaders; and finally Anna Pauker, Luca, and other Roumanian leaders.

It is no exaggeration to say that the principal personages of all these parties, together with the greater part of their old cadres, have been successively purged to the benefit of new elements.

All this hecatomb has not been sacrificed solely on account of direct or indirect, manifest or hidden, opposition to the intolerable encroachments of the Soviet bureaucracy upon the economic and political life of these countries. Some of them have probably been eliminated by native rivals who have implacably set upon them either to strike through their persons at too zealous servitors of the Kremlin, or to use them as “scapegoats” and divert the discontent of the masses upon them.

In these cases, the Kremlin has either given its consent or, fearing a new Yugoslav split, has preferred to record the coup as an accomplished fact and amiably negotiate with the new conquerors.

This explanation probably holds good both for the case of Slansky, who, as the principal agent of the Kremlin in Czechoslovakia, was eliminated by Gottwald, and for the case of Anna Pauker.

Every aspect of these conditions: the backward character of each country, their isolation from the world market, aggravated by the kind of control exercised over them by the Soviet bureaucracy, and the bureaucratic character of their own governments, operate to make these countries pass through a permanent crisis which can only become abated through the world victory of the Revolution.

In fact, it is the development of the Revolution in the world, its extension into the advanced sections of world economy, which will at one and the same time stimulate the struggle of the masses against the bureaucracy and modify the relation of forces in their favour, and also eliminate the economic causes for the present bureaucratic deformation of the political power in these countries.

The case of Yugoslavia has up to now been a special one. Thanks to the conquest of power in this country basically by its own masses, directed by the Yugoslav Communist Party, and the peculiar evolution the Communist Party experienced during the war, when it was isolated from direct control by die Kremlin and subjected to extremely strong pressure from the revolutionary masses, the inevitable crisis provoked there as elsewhere on the plane of relations with the Kremlin has been settled to the detriment of the latter.

The detaching of Yugoslavia from Moscow’s direct control succeeded because the Kremlin found itself confronted in this country by a party unanimously welded around its leadership and supported at that moment by the masses.

Despite the capitulation by the Yugoslav leadership since the Korean War to the pressure of imperialism, the Yugoslav example preserves all its historical significance.

It has demonstrated in real life the incompatibility of every proletarian revolution, as well as every powerful revolutionary movement, with the bureaucratic control of the Kremlin.

It has thus served as an anticipation of what would happen in the event, not of a limited but a world-wide, victory of the revolution which would change the relation of forces between the masses and their bureaucratic leaderships in a decisive manner.

The dynamism of the Chinese Revolution is historically developing along the same path.

The Kremlin is already compelled to treat Mao’s regime as a partner and not a mere satellite, and to co-administer Asiatic affairs together with Peking.

To the degree that the Chinese Revolution is strengthened, its actual independence from the Kremlin’s control will increase all the more.

Thus new relations are being established in the midst of the camp of the non-capitalist countries, whose dynamism is historically destructive of the absolute and direct control hitherto exercised by the Soviet bureaucracy over the international workers’ movement.

The camp of the countries now controlled by the Kremlin is neither homogeneous, nor static.

It is necessary to grasp its internal contradictions in order to draw from them on this plane as well the inevitable revolutionary perspectives.

* * *

Chapter V
The Drive of Imperialism Toward War

We must place the developments of international politics which are now unfolding in the specific world setting we have just analyzed.

No sooner had we emerged from the last war, which was waged by the alliance of the “democratic” powers and the Soviet Union against the Axis forces, than we were plunged into the atmosphere of the “cold! war” which is growing continually hotter.

How could the grand war-time alliance be broken so quickly, and be supplanted by reversals so spectacular as the rehabilitation of Germany and Japan, which are becoming the principal new allies of the United States in the anti-Soviet crusade?

Actually, this occasions surprise and dismay only for those who believed in the “democratic,” “anti-fascist,” character of the last war, and have been unable to grasp its specific social content as an inter-imperialist war for the redivision of the world, including the Soviet Union, among the great capitalist powers.

The involvement of the Soviet Union in the developments of this war undeniably constituted one of its peculiarities in comparison with the 1914–1918 war, for example, and this had to be taken into consideration on the level of the tactical policies followed by the revolutionary Marxists during the conflict. But it did not alter its fundamental character. [32]

The “proletarian” States, Germany, Italy and Japan, launched themselves against the “wealthy” States, England, France and the United States, to effect a redivision of spheres of influence in the world to their advantage.

The Soviet Union was included in the domains to be divided.

The United States, England and France seized the opportunity of this war to smash the initiative and the advances made by their most formidable imperialist competitors on the world markets. The fate of the Soviet Union was to be settled at a later stage according to their plans.

Naturally, the Soviet Union benefited from these inter-imperialist antagonisms which proved to be so strong that they persisted to the very end, bringing about total surrender of the Axis camp and permitting the Soviet Union to survive. These special conditions which characterized the Second World War were of exceptional importance – but they were exceptional precisely because they will never again be duplicated.

The coalition of capitalist countries which is now being wielded against the Soviet Union, as well as against the “People’s Democracies” and China, is not an episodic combination which can disintegrate as a result of the undeniable antagonisms and discords existing within it.

Above all, these antagonisms cannot culminate in a break which will hurl two of its opposing parts into an armed inter-imperialist combat. [33]

First of all, because the community of their class interests in the face of the threatening Socialist World Revolution is now infinitely stronger and more decisive than their antagonisms.

Secondly, because the relation of forces within the capitalist camp has fundamentally changed compared to the pre-war state of affairs. This has forever destroyed the “balance of power” politics played by capitalist powers of about the same order of strength and importance and established the overwhelming superiority of the United States over all the other powers.

But it is precisely the United States which is determining the drive of imperialism as a whole toward war, and it is virtually absolutely inconceivable that a capitalist coalition be formed against the United States.

On the contrary, the United States exploits the common fear among; the capitalist countries of the menace of “Revolution,” and their impossibility to project any other alternative, and brings to bear against each capitalist power taken by itself all the multiple means of economic and political pressure at its command. Thus Washington is leading and will continue to lead the cohort of capitalist countries, whether they like it or not – even dragging them into it – up to the battlefield.

It is theoretically possible to imagine a situation in which the secondary imperialist powers like France, Italy, or even England, would withdraw from the Atlantic Alliance directed by Washington, and change over to a “neutralist” position, because of intensified difficulties that the war preparations would inevitably create in all these countries, and out of fear of an initial defeat in the event of war, if not of a catastrophe for their own political and economic positions.

But from a practical standpoint this possibility is likewise excluded.

The big European bourgeoisie, which continues to govern in these countries, is aware that the historical stake of a conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States is at bottom the question of the survival of the capitalist regime, and that it is senseless and impossible to hold themselves apart from it.

On the other hand, they are terribly afraid that the United States may not adhere resolutely to the policy of the so-called strategy of “peripheral” bases, but would abandon capitalist Europe to its own forces in. the first phase of the war, and concentrate upon destructive atomic bombardments of all the European centres.

Consequently the big bourgeoisie is interested in involving the United States as deeply as possible on the Continent itself. The demands of a power like France, for example, for increased economic aid from the United States which would enable it to support its enfeebled economy and its own sector of war preparations – with the implied threat that it might alter its adherence to the Atlantic Alliance – has only an episodic character in its relations with Washington.

The big French bourgeoisie is torn between fear of seeing the United States give up resistance on the continent, or restricting their aid to France and concentrating their entire efforts upon the construction of a powerful German army. The strategy of the whole imperialist camp is above all dictated by the national interests of that power which by far exceeds all the others, which carries on the principal effort of war preparations, and assures the best chance for victory and survival for the whole capitalist system. That is the United States.

Within this general framework, on the other hand, the other imperialist powers are classified according to the real, specific weight of their general economic and military potential. For this reason the accelerated rise of Germany, and Japan to a certain degree, to the disadvantage of the other imperialist powers, is also inevitable.

The “cold war”, begun almost as soon as the 1939–1945 conflict tended, expresses the fact, which remained hidden up to that point, that the antagonism between the capitalist world as a whole and the Soviet Union takes precedence over any inter-imperialist antagonisms.

Thus began the course of imperialism toward a new war which was to settle the unfinished business of the Second World War. Soon other forces accentuated the drift of imperialism toward war and have imparted to it the quality of an almost automatic and fatal propulsion toward this upshot.

The special conditions of the 1939–1945 war had led capitalism to forget the threat of economic crisis. On the other hand, it created enormous demands throughout the international arena which, once the war was over, sufficed to maintain, and even increase, production for a number of years.

But at the same time, as we have already noted in a previous chapter, it brought about a gigantic concentration and development of the American productive apparatus.

If “peacetime” conditions are prolonged, this apparatus runs the risk of heading quickly into a blind alley, with the process of accumulation slackening and the level of capitalist profit lowering, which would produce a new and this time still more colossal world economic crisis.

At several points between the beginning of 1949 and the first half of 1950 in particular, American production felt itself a little out of breath, as though incapable of keeping up the peaks of the pace it achieved during the war years. Slight but significant declines were registered.

The means by which this danger was overcome, conditioned as we have explained by the new world setting and structure in which American: imperialism must now operate, was the development of State expenditures: in the domain of foreign “aid” and in armaments.

The war economy, which has not been completely dismantled in the United States since the last conflict, became a sector of heightened importance in the whole of American economy.

Since capitalism has entered its phase of imperialist decay, militarism has become what Rosa Luxembourg had already observed with remarkable clear-sightedness [34]: “A pre-eminent means for realizing surplus value, which is in itself a field of accumulation,” and which seems “at first sight susceptible of endless expansion.” [35]

Through the system of indirect taxation, loans, and inflation, the capitalist State diverts an ever greater part of the surplus value produced by the workers and of the purchasing power of the masses in general for investment in war economy. So far as its products are concerned, this: domain is not subjected to the severe fluctuations of supply and demand, or to competition, and it especially favours Big Business. Taxes, loans, and inflation are the classical ways of financing such an economy.

These elements interact and thereby their mutual movement constantly tends to amplify one another.

Inflation, in particular, which since the war years has become the customary atmosphere of all the capitalist countries, is nourished both by the increase in taxes and by the very nature of arms production.

Arms production does not create any new use values, does not produce new wealth, but only distributes unproductive incomes.

It necessarily restricts the productive sector of the economy and spurs: the inflationary process throughout the whole economy.

However, this likewise determines its limits. To the extent that the whole arms economy restricts the other sectors of economy in the long run and engenders a constant reduction in the purchasing power of the masses, it spares the capitalist system its crisis only for a time.

Actually, it serves only to postpone the crisis to a subsequent stage, while aggravating the conditions under which the latter will break out.

On this account also the war economy, beginning at a certain critical moment, implies the outbreak of war itself as the only economic solution.

The big turning point in the war economy and in the international situation as a whole was the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950.

Within the framework of the new phase of imperialist decay, opened by the last war, the Korean War initiated a new international turn of events characterized by the accelerated and more specific material, political and military preparations for war.

It is above all since the Korean conflict that the arms economy is ceasing to be one sector alongside the rest of the capitalist economy, but more and more becomes the driving and determining force of the whole of the economy.

This is primarily the trend of American economy which bit by bit as spreading through the whole of capitalist economy. On the. other land, all the ideas and all the plans elaborated after the war to restore world economy, to unify Europe and aid the development of the backward countries (Marshall Plan, Schuman Plan, the United States of Europe, Point 4 of the Truman Doctrine, etc.), have one after the other been subordinated to military and strategic necessities.

Of course, these ideas and plans had a combined economic-political-military character from the first.

But since the Korean War their development has been directed so as to place the primacy of military-strategic considerations above all others.

The production of armaments of all kinds, the equipping of armed forces which grow incessantly, the multiplication of air and naval bases throughout the world, the enmeshing of the Korean War with the negotiations over Germany, are just so many manifestations of this accelerated .and specific preparation for war.

The evolution of the arguments regarding the aims of these preparations, for the purposes of ideological propaganda preparing for war, is:no less significant.

At first we were told, it is necessary to rearm “to be strong,” in order to defend oneself and negotiate on a equal footing with the Soviet Union. Then it became necessary to create “situations of strength” throughout the world in order to contain the thrust of “Communism”. Now at both of the conventions which took place in July 1952 in Chicago to nominate presidential candidates for the U.S., the Republicans and Democrats were deeply divided on what was the most suitable formula to characterize the aims of their present foreign policy: simply to contain, or to roll back “Communism?”

The major tendency is clearly in favour of the “roll-back” policy. Nevertheless, can we not envisage the possibility of a compromise with the Soviet Union which would postpone the warrior a long term of years?

This is the hope fondled all over the world by all those who rightly dread the destructive consequences of an atomic combat and for one reason or another hope “for peace” (or the present status quo).

A compromise, the preservation of the status quo, “Peace”: are these not still possible for a number of years, in spite of everything?

To answer this question it is necessary to have reference to the fundamental and decisive realities of the world we live in, to comprehend them and to draw all the consequences from them.

We have already analyzed the political, social and economic reasons impelling imperialism toward a new war. A general and lasting compromise with the Soviet Union could come about, some people argue, either from the fixing of the status quo along the present line of division in the world, or on the basis of a new situation resulting from mutual concessions.

However, the basis of the status quo as a compromise is rejected by imperialism, and especially American imperialism, which can less than ever be satisfied with a world already amputated of a considerable part of its markets. American imperialism does not aim at sharing the world, “but at world domination. If absolutely necessary, the Soviet Union could acquiesce in the “peaceful co-existence” with imperialism along the line of the present division of the world. Its official policy puts forward such an objective and strives in its own way to achieve it. [36]

But imperialism rejects it as equivalent to certain death by suffocation.

On the other hand, this conception of maintaining the status quo is highly relative and is actually beyond the control of Washington as well as Moscow.

How can even the present line of division of the world, which is already so disadvantageous for imperialism, be maintained, and avoid, for instance, the spread of the colonial Revolution? Or the struggles of the proletarian masses in the metropolitan countries, both of which alter the status quo with each passing day, and transform it into its opposite: the irresistible process of the Social Revolution in the 20th century?

There is, therefore, left as the only possible basis for a general and. lasting compromise a new situation resulting from mutual concessions.

What this means in reality is that the Soviet leaders, for example, who undeniably fear the eventuality of war, would make important concessions to imperialism.

But what concessions?

If they had at their disposal the Chinese market, for instance, a compromise at China’s expense would have a real interest for imperialism.

However, the Chinese Revolution has already proceeded so far through its own independent forces that it is absolutely impossible for the Kremlin to dispose of things as it pleases. The Chinese Revolution is an unbreakable reality that can be overthrown only through armed force and war.

Even the European “People’s Democracies” have now likewise proceeded so far along the road of radical transformation of their old social structures, that it is no longer possible to reintegrate them into the capitalist system by cold means. Nor can the Kremlin use them as mere “means of barter.” On the other hand, they have become an important complementary base for the material power of the USSR itself and for its military defense.

There remains the question of Germany.

If the Kremlin would consent to sacrifice the Eastern zone of Germany, and permit the reunification of a free capitalist Germany, that would present a real interest for imperialism.

However, such a concession would not at all solve the difficulties of imperialism, but would be used by it simply to facilitate its preparations for war against the Soviet Union at the next immediate stage.

The Soviet leaders cannot be unacquainted with this certainty, and for this reason the resurrection of a unified capitalist Germany is a highly improbable eventuality.

Thus, the bases for a general and lasting compromise which would above all be acceptable to imperialism, are objectively lacking. On the other hand, it is necessary to take into account the fact that the capitalist economy has already embarked so thoroughly upon arms production that the process has become irreversible.

Any sizeable slackening of production in this sector would mean an economic crisis in the United States and in the whole of the capitalist world.

Finally, there remains to be examined one argument of a political character, which, according to some people, operates in favour of adjourning the war: the effects of the revolutionary struggle of the masses in the colonies and the metropolitan countries.

This argument would have a decisive importance if it applied not only to the other capitalist parts of the world, but also to the United States itself.

For the Revolution to disarm imperialism and render the war impossible, it must strike imperialism at the very heart of its power: in the United States.

But the relation of social forces is undeniably still far more stable in the United States than in all the other capitalist countries.

It is not very likely that the American ruling classes will be seriously threatened before the war by revolutionary action of their exploited .masses which would paralyze the imperialist general staff and prevent it from embarking upon war.

Furthermore, the revolutionary struggle of the masses in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, as well as in the European metropolitan centres, as important as they may be for a respite from the war, and decisive as they may be for the revolutionary transformation of the war after it has broken out, and for its swift and victorious conclusion, cannot determine whether or not the war will be unleashed.

For if we should assume new advances of the Revolution in the world arising precisely from this struggle, it becomes obvious that the situation of imperialism would, in this case, be still worse and more threatened.

What reactions could we then expect from imperialism, and American imperialism in particular?

That it would yield without fighting to the. Revolution? That it would accept its historical defeat without fighting, that it would give up its privileges peacefully, or that it would react, that it would attack, that it would strive to stop the new advance of the Revolution by war?

In political matters, it is not advisable to play with all the theoretically possible variants of events, but to count upon the most probable practical variant.

From this viewpoint, there can be no doubt that, confronted by new threats of Revolution, imperialism would choose war.

In reality the alternative is not between War and Peace, but between War and Revolution.

To the extent that the most probable alternative is neither the voluntary surrender by the capitalist class without a fight, nor an extension of the Revolution on a world scale including the United States before imperialism can unleash the war, this latter remains the only eventuality we have to reckon with practically.

Once we have admitted the objective impossibility of maintaining the status quo, and “peaceful co-existence” for a long period of years, the sole real problem at the present time is to ascertain what are the probable time limits before this inevitable war will break out. These time limits must be now considered as being of a relatively short duration.

Actually, the existing interactions between the economic, political and social factors which characterize the present situation of imperialism, serve to bring the war closer, and not to push it farther off.

The most important of all the considerations which must be taken into, account on this point is that regarding the economic and social stability in the United States.

To the degree that the economic conjuncture in the United States, now characterized by the boom arising from mounting arms production, will come closer to the moment of its crisis, the danger of war will likewise become imminent.

As long as the capitalist ruling classes, especially that of the United States, feel, despite all their other difficulties, safe from the economic crisis, they can maintain their self-control and stretch out their military plans to assure the best possible preparations.

But on the other hand, it is obvious that the ruling class in the United States will not hesitate to precipitate war rather than permit the economic crisis to spread over their country and therewith over the whole of the capitalist world.

Such an eventuality would virtually mean the breaking up of the international status quo in favour of the Revolution, which would benefit from the disintegration and paralysis of capitalism to propagate itself quasi-peacefully, without having to pass through the war.

How much time will it take, then, before the present economic conjuncture can approach the moment of crisis?

Of course it is difficult to answer this with any certainty.

However, the inflationary process is already very fast-moving in the United States and is undermining both the economic and social stability of the country.

Other effects of the arms economy on the whole of American economy can precipitate the moment of crisis. Beginning with next year the industries working to equip those devoted to arms production will run the risk of slackening, since the latter will have adequately increased their productive capacity to keep pace with the anticipated rhythm of production.

On the other hand, there would be an interaction between the purely economic and the social aspects of the crisis in the United States. The crisis does not have to be held up until all the factors of a purely economic order have ripened.

A mounting agitation in the country, stimulated, for instance, by the inflationary process which melts the purchasing power of the masses, can lead to frequent and widespread strikes. These can accelerate the crisis as the capitalists do not increase wages by reducing their profits, but by disproportionately raising prices to their advantage.

An even more pronounced inflationary wave would be the result.

In any event, the American ruling class, who will have the final word to say on the date of the war, will above all take into consideration the economic and social atmosphere in the United States. It will precipitate the war when it observes that the economic and social crisis threatens to paralyze it, deprive it of support from the masses, and lay it low along with the rest of the capitalist world, without a fight. The development of the situation in other parts of the world will naturally exercise a considerable influence on the orientation of the United States itself and the time of its decision.

The ever-increasing difficulties encountered by the different capitalist countries in their war preparations in respect to their own peoples and in the relations between themselves, necessitate a stretching-out in time and a modification of their initial war plans.

But on the other hand, in the case where these difficulties risk still further worsening the situation, they operate as a factor accelerating the advent of war.

For it is highly unlikely that the United States and the other capitalist countries would let the situation deteriorate into a serious economic and social crisis, and by this fact put themselves in a condition of catastrophic inferiority in relation to the forces of the Revolution. In this case, they would likewise precipitate the war.

Finally, there are the independent reactions of the Soviet Union and. the States allied with it, especially China.

Despite the manifest will of the Soviet leaders to avoid the war, a preventive response by the Soviet Union and its allies to the specific and accelerated preparation of the imperialist coalition is not absolutely excluded.

This is all the more so because of the influence of the Chinese leaders,, who have assumed co-leadership with the Kremlin on the international plane, upon the policy of this alliance, which can be exercised. along, the line of a preventive offensive action.

Such a possibility can, for instance, be presented with the definitive ratification of the Bonn treaties and the effective remilitarization of Western Germany in Europe and Japan in Asia. Toward the end of 1953, American rearmament will have attained a very high level, and the remilitarization of Western Germany and Japan a very important stage.

Beginning with this moment, we will have entered upon the critical period, where any grave deterioration of the present equilibrium for one reason or another, either the threat of crisis in the United States, the serious accentuation of the crisis in Europe, or an upsurge of the Colonial Revolution, etc., can quickly develop beyond a local matter into world conflict.

That does not mean that the war is very probable in 1953. This only means that it has already become possible. The whole of the factors which actually determine the moment of conflict is so complex, so fluid and so subject to modifications that, once it has opened up, this critical period can stretch out over a period of some years, without war breaking out, but it becomes possible for war to break out at any moment.

As usual the capitalists will envelope this critical period in veils of mystery, lies, and peaceful declamations, which have always attended the onset of their evil deeds.

But the masses must be more than ever on guard in order to paralyze as quickly as possible the criminal hand of imperialism that will inevitably be once again raised to strike humanity on the march towards its socialist future. They must give their thundering reply by revolutionary mobilization on an international scale.

* * *

Chapter VI
The Class Nature of the Coming War,
and Its Transformation

The war now being prepared is not like any war in the past.

In particular, when we compare it with the two wars in this century, that of 1914–1918 and that of 1939–1945, the new war in preparation: cannot be characterized as an inter-imperialist war. Its social nature, its class nature, is no longer the same. For a precise definition of the coming war, we must proceed in the same way that Marx or Lenin did in the past, by asking: who wants to fight whom, and for what aims?

Just as, in determining the class nature of a State, it is wrong to proceed from the character of its political leadership instead of from its economic and social foundations, so, in the case of a war, it is wrong to proceed from the nature of the governments engaged in struggle, instead of from the class nature of the regime and the social forces they represent.

For superficial observers or for those with their own reasons for muddling the matter, the coming war will be a war of Washington against Moscow, each fighting for its own selfish and nationalist aims, or for world domination. For still others who are fond of camouflaging these butcheries and struggles behind lofty ideological facades and thus appeasing their uneasy consciences, this will be a war of “Democracy” and of “Liberty”, etc., against Stalinist totalitarianism.

In reality, the whole analysis we have given shows that the coming war will be a war of the imperialist combine directed by Washington against the Revolution in all its forms.

It is the intensified contradictions of the capitalist regime under the new conditions created as a result of the recent world conflict which are once again propelling it toward war. The shrinking of its markets compared with the development of the productive capacity of its economic apparatus, the rise of a new social order already embracing a third of humanity, the fear of new advances of the same kind, the impossibility of stabilizing the situation in the colonial and semi-colonial countries as well as in those of Western Europe, the threat of a catastrophic new economic crisis – these are among the major factors which force imperialism to look for the only chance of maintaining itself and surviving in the preparation for war, and in war itself.

Having entered into its imperialist phase of decomposition, capitalism almost automatically leads to war. The economic preparations for war and then the war itself enables that system to consume in an unproductive manner that part of the productive forces which it is otherwise incapable of employing, thereby temporarily warding off the threat of economic crisis and improving the situation of some of the antagonistic elements constituting it at the expense of others.

This is the process by which capitalism previously plunged into inter-imperialist wars aiming at the redivision of the world between the imperialist blocs involved. Today the economic preparations for war, thanks to the gigantic development of the arms economy, especially in in the United States, is imperialism’s way of keeping in bounds the productive forces it cannot productively employ, and thus heading off the threat of crisis. However, in the long run it is only the war itself which can avoid the outbreak of such an economic catastrophe.

On the other hand, immense markets, which would be capable of taking care of at least a part of the productive forces of imperialism now being strangled within its national boundaries, are slipping away from it since they are in the process of constructing a new social order which detaches their very structures from the capitalist economic circuit. On this account they not only constitute an economic loss but at the same time a social and political danger, whose explosive potentialities, which will grow with time, menace the whole of the capitalist structure.

This is what determines the direction and the aims of the present war preparations of imperialism.

What is involved is the attempt to save the capitalist regime, threatened not only economically, but politically and socially, by preparing for war and by war itself.

The forces threatening the capitalist regime are, as we have pointed out, those of the Revolution in all its forms: non-capitalist states, the colonial Revolution, the international revolutionary movement.

As we have shown in preceding chapters, the fundamental, objective process of the World Socialist Revolution in our century expresses itself in all these elements, directly or indirectly, in more or less clear and conscious forms.

Despite their bureaucratic leaderships, the non-capitalist states, such as the Soviet Union, the “People’s Democracies” and China, form part of this revolution, together with the colonial Revolution and the revolutionary movements of the working class in the capitalist countries.

The war of the imperialist combine is being prepared against all these elements, against all these forms of the Revolution which it will try to destroy.

From this viewpoint it will not be a war between two blocs of States, but war between two social camps.

It will not aim to punish the Soviet bureaucracy for its crimes, or to restore “freedom” to the territories of the Soviet Union and the other non-capitalist states, etc., but to re-absorb all these countries into the capitalist regime, to smash the upsurge of the colonial revolutions now going on, to demoralize and disorganize the revolutionary movement of the workers in the metropolitan countries.

It will be a war against the Revolution, the war of the counter-revolution upon the Revolution.

The character of the partial conflicts now taking place in the atmosphere of the present “cold war” already prefigure the character of the general conflict in preparation. The wars of the imperialists in the colonies, in Viet-Nam, Burma, Malaya, Korea, are wars against the colonial and proletarian revolutions, and not merely wars between States.

When the Republicans and Democrats vied with each other at their conventions last July over what aid ought to be given the mercenary regime of Chiang Kai-Shek on Formosa as “an outpost of the free world,” they demonstrated both the counter-revolutionary character of their war and the futility, hypocrisy and baseness of its “ideological” pretexts.

The Korean War is especially noteworthy in this respect. It really began as a civil war between the North and South Koreans who lived under different social regimes. It developed along this line in the South itself, where civil war has not ceased up to now. This undeniable feature of the war from its very beginning makes the formal question of ascertaining who struck the first blow absolutely secondary. [37] Its class character was determined by the social forces locked in combat. The intervention of the imperialists, which was prepared in advance [38] in league with the native reactionary forces of Syngman Rhee, transformed it into a colonialist and counter-revolutionary war on the part of. the imperialists, and into an anti-imperialist, revolutionary war on the part of the North Korean and Chinese forces.

This is not a mere war between certain States, and still less between this or that government, but above all a war between antagonistic social forces, independently of the character of their leaderships.

Only such an analysis of the Korean war can enable us to arrive at a correct class position in relation to it. Who fights whom, and for what aims: that is the whole question.

The war of the imperialist combine against the Revolution in all its forms is now being prepared in a given relation of forces. This relation is favourable to the Revolution and will remain so up to the war. That is to say, imperialism will be unable to change it fundamentally in its own favour from now up to the outbreak of the conflict.

When we speak about the relation of forces, we do not mean only the aspect of the active or even potential military forces, but the whole global relation of forces on its economic, military and social sides.

The strategists or politicians primarily envisage the outcome of the coming conflict by basing their calculations on certain key-figures of the economic potential of one or the other “bloc of States”. The production of steel naturally plays a preponderant role among these figures. On this basis, it appears to them that the disproportion between the Soviet Union and the Western Bloc, which is one against three, forever seals the fate of the first, which has no chance of winning the war, etc.

Their fundamental error (excluding the possibility of a deliberate error) consists in judging the coming conflict by the obsolete standards of the past; that is to say, as a mere conflict between certain States, each mobilizing its economic and military potential.

However, by its new class nature, the coming conflict is already mobilizing the full forces of both one and the other social camp, and in this total mobilization, the advantage remains on the side of the camp of the Revolution.

The economic and military mobilization of imperialism is handicapped by the fact that it must be based upon the metropolitan, colonial and semi-colonial masses, who are either in open revolt or in revolutionary ferment, or mistrust the war aims of imperialism. On the other hand, the camp of the Revolution benefits from the revolutionary energy of the masses which enormously compensates for its often very considerable economic and technical inferiority.

The class relations in all the countries within the orbit of the capitalist system are either undermined or unstable, and generally unfavourable to a comparatively lasting stabilization of the regime. [39]

The case of the colonial and semi-colonial countries is conclusive.

The case of Western Europe is no less significant.

Nowhere, up to now, has capitalism succeeded in inflicting a decisive defeat upon the working class, in getting over its crisis, and even relatively stabilizing its position.

If it has made a little headway here and there, its generally critical situation does not permit capitalism to benefit from it in any decisive way, even in countries like Greece and Spain.

The countries of Western Europe are gripped by a permanent crisis in which they experience short intervals of relative stability punctuated by frequent prolonged relapses. As soon as a capitalist country revives a bit, another relapse comes along. This provokes a more general aggravation that in turn again upsets the few positions which were previously stabilized rather weakly and under great difficulties. For capitalism to profit from the military and economic potential of the countries it controls, it would first have to refashion the relation of social forces for that purpose.

On the other hand, the camp of the Revolution benefits from the revolutionary energy of the masses, which enters as a decisive factor in the global relation of forces.

For example, according to the conceptions of classical military science, in the case of the Korean War or even the war in Viet-Nam, the defeat of the North Koreans or of Viet-Minh was inevitable in view of their enormous economic and technical inferiority, etc. But, faced with an imperialist army, the colonial revolution has mobilized immense extra-technical and extra-military human resources which counter-balanced this inferiority when thrown into the thick of the struggle.

The relation of forces in an imperialist war against a Revolution is very different from the mere relation of economic and technical forces.

All the colonial revolutions now in progress demonstrate this in a striking manner.

Of course it does not suffice to rest upon these forces alone. The active and potential forces of a strictly economic and technical kind which the non-capitalist states have to throw into the struggle are already considerably greater than those allotted them by the strategists. [40] Their development and their effective mobilization is considerably facilitated by the system of nationalized and planned economy in these countries. Their closeness to the immediate theatres of the conflict, Europe and Asia, still further increases their superiority in relation to the principal forces of the imperialist camp, which are those of the United States.

On the other hand, a possible collapse of the industrialized capitalist countries of continental Europe in the first phase of the conflict would even change fundamentally the relation of forces between the two camps on the economic and technical plane.

The present global relation of forces stands in striking contrast with that of the last war. If we compare the example of Spain in 1938 to that of Korea in 1952, there are two significant landmarks to indicate this. The forces of this revolution were crushed in 1938 and forced to unconditional surrender. Their total defeat symbolized the global relation of forces at that time between the Revolution and imperialism.

The entire international working class suffered from the victory of imperialism in the defeat of the Spanish Revolution, the last upsurge of the working class after a long series of other defeats.

In Korea in 1952 the most powerful imperialism, that of the United States, backed up by world imperialism, has been obliged to negotiate for over a year for a compromise with the forces of the colonial Revolution.

Times have certainly changed radically.

The turn of events initiated by the Korean War toward the more specific and accelerated preparations for war has not basically changed, the relation of forces in favour of imperialism.

Of course, on the strictly military plane, the development of the arms economy and the other remilitarization measures stepped up by the capitalist countries, have enabled the latter to increase their active and potential military forces.

The non-capitalist states have done the same. However, the new turn of events has helped undermine the relative stability which the capitalist countries of Western Europe in particular appear to have attained between 1949 and the outbreak of the Korean War.

The consequences of rearmament and remilitarization weigh ever more heavily upon the masses and provoke ever livelier reactions from them.

Bevanism, that is to say, the radicalization of an important section of the mass European socialist parties, is one manifestation of this; the struggle of the Belgian soldiers against the two-year term of military conscription, and the general strike of the Belgian trade unions in their support is another.

Some people who note these consequences ask whether it is possible for capitalism to unleash its counter-revolutionary war under such conditions.

They say, capitalism in the past was able to resort to war following the defeat and demoralization of the working class. That is not the case today. Would it not undoubtedly mean plunging into catastrophe and suicide for it to run the risk of war without first having beaten and demoralized the working class?

Such reasoning would be applicable if capitalism could rationally choose among a number of possibilities, if it did not have to go to war as the only way to cope with the menace of economic crisis and of world revolution.

In reality, the only chance capitalism has to try and change the present unfavourable relation of forces is not to mark time in inactivity, or assume a wait-and-see attitude, but to counter-attack by war.

Otherwise, as we have already pointed out, it would have to give up without a fight.

We must proceed from the conviction that imperialism will be unable to change the relation of forces decisively in its favour between now and the world conflict, and that precisely for this reason it will try to change this relationship by means of war, and thus to prevent this relationship from becoming still more unfavourable to it.

Given these conditions, what would be the most probable transformation of such a war, that is to say, the alternative with which we must practically reckon?

Sociologically speaking, by its very class nature, this War would bear the mark of civil war, it will be the war of imperialism against the Revolution.

On the other hand, the fact that it will break out without the proletarian and colonial masses having previously been decisively beaten and demoralized, will rapidly convert it into an active international civil war. Independently of the particular situation in this or that country, independently of the varying pace of the revolutionary ripening from one country to another, its general and dominating tendency will be that of its transformation into international civil war. This will above all be the case in Asia and in Europe.

The tendency toward such a transformation flows both from the class nature of the coming war, and from the relation of forces in which it is being prepared and will break out.

Far from marking a stagnation or a setback of the present class struggles, the war will on the contrary carry them to the point of paroxysm.

Whoever seriously analyzes the present relation of forces in Asia and Europe and its highly explosive character, whoever reflects upon the nature of such a war and the way it will be interpreted by the masses, cannot doubt this inevitable transformation of the conflict into international civil war.

Despite its conservatism and its inherently counter-revolutionary character, the Soviet bureaucracy itself will be forced to give a certain revolutionary impulsion to the masses it controls or influences.

Faced with the imminent and principal danger at this moment of being crushed by imperialism and itself being destroyed as a privileged social stratum deriving its advantages and its power from the existing economic and social foundations of the Soviet Union [41] the Soviet bureaucracy would be obliged to defend its bases in its own fashion.

On the other hand, since it is not an independent social force, it could not undertake even such a defence without appealing for a certain degree of mobilization of the working class in the Soviet Union and in the world.

The masses of workers following the Communist Parties, in part impelled by the Soviet bureaucracy itself, in part by their own leadership, and above all by their own class instinct and the correct interpretation they will give to the war, will start moving.

This movement will acquire the character of civil war and will go infinitely farther than the initial purposes of the Kremlin, and its possibility of controlling these masses in action.

The inevitable first military victories of the non-capitalist states in Asia and in Europe, as well as the demoralization and even decomposition of the ruling classes in these regions, will heighten the effects of the revolutionary movement of the masses, facilitate and accentuate the transformation of the War into Revolution. [42]

The partial wars now going on in the colonies are already intermeshed with the Social Revolution in these countries.

The coming world-wide conflict by its. class nature, by the given relation of forces in which it will break out, will be both a War and a Revolution, a War-Revolution, which will really be the road to the final struggles and the decisive victory of the World Socialist Revolution over world capitalism.

Such is the significance and scope of the coming conflict.

This historical process began with the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The war of 1939–1945, which remained fundamentally an inter-imperialist war, was indecisive and incomplete. It halted halfway. However mutilated, capitalism has been able to survive. This time, instead of there being only one as before (the Soviet Union), the non-capitalist states will be powerful and numerous. But, along with all. the other forces of the Revolution, they will yet have to go through another furious assault from capitalism which is desperately fighting for its survival.

This new conflict in preparation will decide once and for all which camp will definitively wind up an entire historical epoch.

New half-way solutions are extremely unlikely.

And what if imperialism manages to conquer in spite of everything?

The whole analysis we have presented actually demonstrates that this hypothesis belongs in the domain of theoretical speculation, and not of practical possibilities.

However, let us objectively envisage such a possibility.

A victory for imperialism would not solve any of its fundamental contradictions, or any of its vital problems.

Established on the basis of an immense destruction of the material inheritance of mankind, it would signify a tremendous historical setback and would culminate in universal chaos for an entire historical period.

The destruction of the non-capitalist states, the halting of the colonial revolution, the disorganization and demoralization of the international labour movement, would inevitably bring about the lowering of the productive forces, the maintenance and extension of material misery for enormous masses of humanity, political reaction, and mediaeval obscurantism.

Under such conditions, effective control by imperialism would be nothing but a delusion.

Chaos would be the best description for such a situation.

After that, humanity would still have to make its way through: this chaos, whatever the difficulties, and would resume its march just the same toward new struggles and new efforts to achieve its genuine: goal in history: its socialist organization.

* * *

Chapter VII
We Must Prepare to Conquer Quickly
and Completely

All the conditions to assure the world victory of socialism are now at hand except one: the existence of an international revolutionary leadership strong enough to help the objective process of revolution, reach this goal in the most rapid and effective way. The capitalist regime: has not only shown itself incapable of assuring the further development of the productive forces, but its relations of production have become a major obstacle to this development. On the other hand the contradictions of capitalism have reached such a pitch of paroxysm that they menace humanity with the most destructive struggles ever known in history.

The non-viable character and the crying and revolting absurdity of this regime has become glaringly evident to its clearest representatives. Were it necessary to level an additional historical condemnation against this regime, none could be more annihilating than that provided by the use capitalism is making of the most prodigious productive force ever mastered by the genius of mankind: that of atomic energy.

When he inaugurated the project for constructing the first atomic submarine Nautilus, Truman uttered joyful phrases to emphasize the scope and the paramount importance of the new discovery of atomic energy which would put into the shade the achievements initiated by the discovery of steam and electricity. And yet, how cynical and hypocritical these phrases were. He hastened to add that “unfortunately” the warlike attitude of the USSR, etc. compelled the postponement of its peaceful employment for civilian purposes.

In reality, the industrial utilization of atomic energy is blocked by the prevailing capitalist relations of production, which are incapable of containing productive forces infinitely less important than these. It is enough to understand, for example, that “one pound of coal, if it was entirely converted into energy, would supply 25 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, that is to say, as much as the central power stations of the United States could furnish by operating without stopping for two months.” [43]

It would be necessary to completely revolutionize the present structure of the capitalist apparatus, to scrap a great part of it, build new plants, etc. On the other hand, once the system had changed over from the present productive apparatus to that of the atomic age, it would' have to be able to contain and develop these immense new productive forces in a world regulated by the laws of a paying market like that of the capitalist world. This would provoke still more frequent and catastrophic crises. The conditions of capitalist production are inherently incompatible with the general peaceful utilization of atomic energy.

The only thing capitalism can still do is to consume these new forces in an unproductive manner in a project of gigantic destruction: the new war.

Every person who has preserved any sense of humanity and reason ought to be preoccupied with putting an end to such a regime as quickly as possible. However, as we have already had occasion to note, men do not behave in accord with the rules of “pure reason,” but according to the impulses imparted to them by their social position. The bulk of the working class in most countries has, as a matter of fact, broken with the capitalist regime and is instinctively orienting itself toward the future, toward socialism. Moreover, its class position helps it acquire this very orientation. The position of the middle classes, especially of the “intellectuals,” is different. Bound by countless small ties of an economic and cultural order to the capitalist regime, its members flounder around in problems which they have the knack of rendering insoluble, wasting their energy in the process and eternally consuming themselves in a tormented, Hamlet-like state of eternal indecision and doubts.

They have already found a way to burden themselves with new “problems,” which rise up out of our “mechanical” society and run the risk of being extended into socialism. What are we going to do, for example, they ask, with “the technical environment of industrialized human societies,” and the “jungle of daily influences established by it,” which “grow ever bigger, more and more threatening the human values of the individual and of culture in all the developed industrial countries In Europe as in America”. [44] “To what degree will the transformation of the relations of production in a planned and collectivist society modify the (harmful) action of such a (technical) environment on the individual?” [45]

This question of “the humanization of labour” through the control of so-called “psycho-physiological” processes, etc. certainly has an importance in warding off the harm done to the rounded development of the individual by the “technical environment” of industrialized, societies. However, it is a question of giving the proper importance to various factors. Can we even seriously and remotely compare this aspect of human labour with the paramount task of arriving first of all at what Marx called the beginning of the rule of genuine freedom for the individual: “the reduction of the working day” [46], which is impossible without the abolition of wage-labour and the coming of socialism? All the rest hinges very strictly upon achieving this.

And what effect can it have to spread the impression that these same problems will continue under socialism, without emphasizing what is essential and decisive in the process, except to spread skepticism and. passivity among the intellectual elements, which are their essential traits in a decomposing society?

Still others, for example, perceive the growing divorce between modern art, which appears like a “monster”, and society, and would like to see “this monster reduced to its human reality to permit it to live among men at a time when mankind is passing over to a new age of their progress.” [47]

The reintegration of artistic activity, and of the artist himself in society, is actually above all a social question, and it is bound up with the abolition of capitalism and the advent of socialism. The world of art certainly has its own autonomy and artistic creation obeys its own laws, peculiar to itself, but it develops in connection with a specific social environment surrounding the artist.

The divorce between modern art and society is not only attributable to the lack of understanding by society. Modern art has developed in. the way it has (either as a “monster” or however one would otherwise wish to describe it) in opposition to a capitalist society torn by class struggles which has reached the point of paroxysm.

Modern art either depicts the decadence of the regime or prefigures in its crude attempts, gropings, researches, the art of the new age, of socialism. Its extravagant forms, “monstrous” or naive, tormented or peaceful, realistic, torrential, “surrealistic” or abstract, express the way in which each artist reacts (according to his temperament) towards the features of contemporary social life in a tormented, cruel, monstrous, absurd society. This crushes the individual, foments despair, lack of balance, madness, drives him to escape, to a dream world, to abstraction, but at the same time provides forces capable of immense material and cultural progress, the preconditions and sure pledges of the socialist future of humanity.

For another category of intellectual elements, and even for important but politically backward sections of the working class influenced by the reformists or centrists, the acquisition of a clear understanding of the present period and its revolutionary perspectives is obscured by their fear of a possible domination of the world by the Soviet bureaucracy and Stalinism. Where genuinely sincere elements are involved, this fear is the outcome of their lack of understanding of the phenomenon of bureaucratism in the labour movement, and of its Stalinist form in particular. The phenomenon of bureaucratism, that is to say, the bureaucratic degeneration of the proletarian power has objectively been facilitated to the degree that the course of the proletarian revolution in our epoch has followed the general line of a consecutive advance from one single backward country at its beginning (Russia) toward other countries, which are greater in number but still backward because of their colonial or semi-colonial character. Because of these conditions, the Soviet bureaucracy in particular has been able to arise, to develop, and completely expropriate the working class of political power for a period, and rule .as unchallenged master over the international revolutionary movement. But the proletarian Revolution has already reached a higher phase which is characterized by a number of non-capitalist States embracing a third of humanity, its fusion with the colonial revolution, and the existence of an incomparably more powerful workers’ movement in the metropolitan countries than before the last war.

Already this reinforcement of the potential of the proletarian Revolution really moves counter to the bureaucratization of its leadership and against the Soviet bureaucracy in particular, and operates in the direction of a decisive change in the relations between the masses and their bureaucratic leaderships in favour of the former.

This is so both for political and economic reasons. To the degree that the revolutionary movement of the masses grows and becomes more powerful, facilitated by the crisis and the disintegration of capitalism, it results on the one hand in reinforcing its relative independence from its national bureaucratic leaderships (that is to say, makes their direct and absolute control over it more difficult). On the other hand, it acts upon these same leaderships, shaking the direct and absolute control which the Soviet bureaucracy exercised over them under pre-war conditions.

The relations between the Soviet bureaucracy, the Communist Parties, and the revolutionary movement in each country, are in the process of changing under the effect of this new dynamism of the proletarian Revolution.

The dialectical method must not be used solely to analyze the contradictory situation of capitalism. It ought to be applied everywhere, and especially to analyze the living process of the proletarian Revolution in our epoch. No position and no force can now remain even temporarily immutable. It is rather the preconceptions in men’s minds, and their thinking, which tend to lag behind the objective process and to function for a certain time in a mechanical and undialectical manner.

We have already seen what changes have been produced in the specific relations between the Soviet bureaucracy, the Communist Parties, and the revolutionary movement of the masses during the recent war and since, both in the Yugoslav example and in the case of China.

It is now conclusively established that the Chinese Communist Party “made a turn” in 1946 despite opposition from the Kremlin and despite the lack of preparation and confusion of its own leadership. This was done under pressure from the revolutionary movement of the peasant masses in particular which spontaneously launched themselves along the road of agrarian reform. [48]

The victory subsequently achieved placed it still more under the dominant pressure of its own difficulties in connection with the masses, .and the problems of its own country, and by this very fact, actually detached it from exclusive and direct control by the Soviet bureaucracy. The further evolution of the Chinese C.P. is no longer fundamentally determined by the Soviet bureaucracy.

Even in the case of a Communist Party like that of France, which does not head a revolutionary movement objectively fighting for power, which is not in power, but which has a very extensive mass base it must reckon with, and whose influence it feels, however indirectly and in a deformed fashion, it is easy to see that, compared with the pre-war situation of this party, its leadership is no longer a mere organ for the transmission of orders from the Kremlin. [49]

Empirically, handicapped by its whole makeup and its bureaucratic traditions, this leadership is compelled now and then to reconsider its policy and even to elaborate certain of its aspects by taking into account its own base among the masses.

Under pressure from a situation which is evolving toward war and the decisive and final struggle, wherever they maintain a genuine mass influence the opportunism of the Stalinist leaderships is obliged to yield less to the arbitrary swings ordered by the Kremlin, and thus to transform itself into centrism.

On the other hand, it is necessary to reckon with the consequences of the development of the productive forces already realized in the Soviet Union itself, which is facilitated and accentuated by its economic linking with the “People’s Democracies” and China. If this development benefits the bureaucracy much more than the masses in its first phase, in the last analysis it operates against the bureaucracy. From every point of view the phenomenon of bureaucracy is the outcome of a low economic and cultural level. To the degree that the living standards of the masses are raised in the Soviet Union, and they become acquainted with education, technology, and the sciences, their cultural level likewise develops, and their political reactions are reanimated against the arbitrariness, the plundering and oppressive character, the byzantine ossification in the arts and the whole type of thought of the bureaucracy. Important molecular processes are at work in their consciousness. Criticism has already come from nuclei educated in this sense emerging from the young generation in the Soviet Union who play the role of catalytic agents for the discontent and revolutionary activity of broader masses. [50]

On the other hand, we have seen what explosive contradictions the “People’s Democracies” are already floundering in. If such consequences have already taken place, what will happen when the proletarian Revolution reaches countries which are thoroughly industrialized and where the masses have a high cultural level, like those of Western Europe and. the United States? Is it not clear that, in the event of a world victory of the Revolution through its now probable extension first to the European countries and eventually to the United States itself, the relation of forces between the revolutionary proletariat and its bureaucratic leaderships will fundamentally change in favour of the masses? Isn’t it practically absurd to believe that the Soviet bureaucracy, the source and basis, of the phenomenon of Stalinism, could maintain its police and bureaucratic control over world revolutionary forces which have succeeded in overthrowing imperialism? Or that the phenomenon of bureaucratism can in general survive on the basis of a world-wide nationalized and planned economy which would guarantee an absolutely colossal upswing of productive forces?

In reality the world victory over capitalism would likewise bring about in the very process of its consummation victory over the Soviet bureaucracy and over Stalinism, and would decisively undermine the economic bases of the phenomenon of bureaucratism in general.

The objective process is now assisting the formation of a new international revolutionary leadership. It is inevitable that the maturing of the objective conditions for the world socialist revolution propels ever-greater strata into struggle, speeds up the political education of the masses, and aids the acquisition of a clear understanding by their most gifted and clear-sighted elements. This is occurring along the line previously pointed out by Engels in his views on the problem of the relation between, the objective process and its necessary subjective expression on the plane of the conscious political movement.

In answer to the objection of those people who thought, they could combat Marxism by reproaching it for affirming the objective inevitability of socialism on the one hand, and the necessity for a conscious class movement on the other, Engels said, that the latter is the necessary result of the former, and that in this sense the victory of socialism is inevitable. It is men who will make history and achieve socialism. They will be obliged to do so by the objective ripening of the conditions for the victory of Socialism, a ripening which will inescapably manifest itself in the more and more powerful subjective movement of men for Socialism.

It is inevitable that the genuine revolutionary elements engaged in the decisive and final struggle now begun will arrive at a clearer conception of the means and aims of the proletarian revolution, that is to say, to the conception of authentic revolutionary Marxism.

This ideological clarification, facilitated by objective events, will promote the creation of a stronger revolutionary vanguard which will subsequently speed up and completely guarantee victory. The nuclei of revolutionary Marxists which already exist throughout the world can play an immense role in this process. They can greatly accelerate and expedite the acquisition of a clear understanding in all those genuinely revolutionary elements which are now being shaped in the most revolutionary flood-tide history has ever known. The condition is that these nuclei of revolutionary Marxists learn how to integrate themselves henceforth in the real mass movement of their countries, work patiently within it and assist it, in accord with the rhythm of its own experience, to arrive at a rounded revolutionary conception of its tasks.

In those countries where the basic movement of the working class is independent to a certain extent, where neither reformism or Stalinism constitute a major obstacle to its forward march, the task of the revolutionary Marxists from now on is to conduct themselves as the core of the authentic revolutionary party which in its programme and daily activities expresses the genuine needs and aspirations of all the oppressed masses of the nation: workers, peasants, middle classes.

The very real possibility for these groups of revolutionary Marxists to become fairly rapidly important political forces in their respective countries resides in the scope and the audacity of such a conception of their programme and activity.

On the other hand, in countries where the chief political movement of the proletariat is channelized either in reformist organizations, as for example in England, Belgium, Germany, Australia and Canada, or in Stalinist organizations, as in numerous Asiatic countries or in France and Italy in Western Europe, the task of the revolutionary Marxists is to work within these movements in order to expedite the maturing of their authentic leftward-moving tendencies, from which the essential forces of the revolutionary Parties of tomorrow will emerge.

The fact that the revolutionary Marxists have already acquired such an understanding of their essential tasks and the specific way to accomplish them is proof of the high level attained by the revolutionary vanguard as well as a pledge of its certain victory. For nothing is better, and nothing can better succeed, than action which proceeds in harmony with the tasks posed by History.

* * *


1. Such is the group of English historians who, under the direction of Arnold Toynbee, undertook the 12-volume publication of an analysis of events from 1939 to 1946. The World On The March, 1949, edited by A. Toynbee and F.T.A. Gwatkin, Oxford University Press.

2. The London Observer, May 11, 1952.

3. It is highly probable that, if the bureaucratic degeneration of the USSR and of the leadership of the Communist Party had not occurred, socialism would have an altogether stronger attraction for the healthiest and most far-sighted elements of the ruling classes, and would have facilitated their adherence to the new social order.

4. Sebastian Haffner in the London Observer, May 11, 1952.

5. The production of the United States between the two wars was only about three-quarters, of the total European production.

6. In comparison with that of Europe, American production rose from 76 per cent in 1937 to 151 per cent in 1947. It is now about one-third greater than the total European production and represents almost one-half of world production.

7. Thirty-five billion dollars since 1944.

8. American exports are not more than ten per cent, of the total production of the country, actually, (they were 4.9 per cent, in 1946 and 6.6 in 1947). On the other hand, the average amount of private capital exported between 1946 and 1949 was scarcely 600,000,000 dollars, which was only one-fifth of the yearly average of Marshall Plan aid and one-twenty-fifth of the military budget up to 1947 £15,000,000,000 dollars).

9. All the “aid” the U.S. grants to foreign countries inevitably transforms itself, in accord with the whole policy of the government, into aid having “a political and military character”. This was the case, for example, with the Marshall Plan, which has been absorbed by the politico-military purposes of the Atlantic Pact, and applies still more to the case of the “European Army” directed by the Pentagon.

10. Iron is becoming exhausted, copper and lead are in inadequate quantities, and tin amounts to very little. The U.S. already imports more than 40 out of the total of 64 categories of strategic and critical materials. On the other hand, it consumes 10 per cent, more raw materials than it produces.

11. Raymond Aron in Le Figaro of Paris. August 2–3, 1952.

12. Mr. Aneurin. Bevan gives another specific example of the consequences of this dependence in the hypothetical event of a halt in rearmament:

“All the world outside the Soviet-dominated bloc, will be geared to the economy of the United States. We have already learned what that means, even before the last gigantic rise in the U.S. productive capacity takes effect.

“A recession of only four per cent, in employment in the United States was sufficient to produce a crisis in Europe. A recent report published by the United Nations grimly underlines the danger. It points out that if a similar recession follows rearmament, and it results in the same order of disturbance, then the dollar income of the outside world would be reduced in two years by ten thousand million dollars, equal to a quarter of the total income.” (In Place of Fear, page 163)

13. We will examine the case of the Chinese Revolution more in detail in the following chapter.

14. While the capitalist countries presently spend around a hundred billion dollars a year for military purposes, the notorious Point 4 “to aid backward countries” absorbs no more than about 200,000,000 dollars!

15. “In Iran the rich smoke opium by preference; the poor in order to forget. A Swedish medical mission some years ago estimated the drug consumption at Teheran to be 300 kilos a day, or one gram for three inhabitants. This means 108 tons of opium at the end of the year.

“It also estimated the number of drunkards as 75 per cent, of the population.” (Whither Iran?, an investigation by Jean-Marie de Moreuil in Le Monde of Paris, July 25–29, 1952)

16. The bourgeoisie and the feudalists are very often intermeshed in these countries, and do not constitute two separate strata but a single social category of feudo-capitalists. On the other hand, as in the case of China, the money-lending bourgeoisie is often the principal exploiter of the peasantry.

17. For not only are the positions of imperialism not completely eliminated in these countries, but the agrarian question, which interests the enormous mass of the peasantry, still remains unsolved.

18. On this point Mr. Aneurin Bevan writes:

“Russia was surrounded by a wall of hostility, trade was hampered, and sometimes cut off entirely .... At the moment it looks as though America is going to repeat the same folly in China.” (In Place of Fear, page 41)

19. According to the theory of the State set forth by both Marx and Lenin.

20. To lay stress only upon these two aspects of the question.

21. Who identify their exceptional standard of living and their excessive privileges with those of the masses.

22. Mr. Bevan has drawn this lesson from the Russian experience for himself:

“The way to treat a revolution in an agrarian country is to send it agricultural machinery, so as to increase food production to the point where the agricultural surplus will permit of an easier accumulation of the industrial furniture of modem civilization. You cannot starve a national revolution into submission. You can starve it into a repressive dictatorship; you can starve it to the point where the hellish logic of the Police State takes charge.” (In Place of Fear, page 41–42.)

23. According to the Industrial Plan for Northeast China, the total value of output in 1952 of State and publicly owned industrial enterprises will be 41.5 per cent, above 1951. Last year’s value in output was 24.1 per cent, above 1950. Never in the history of the capitalist countries has there been such speed in industrial development. (Article by Kao-Kang, chairman of the Northeast People’s Government, in People’s China, for June 1952)

24. On the whole the results already attained by the industrialization of these countries can be summarized as follows: industrial production per capita in Czechoslovakia has already surpassed that of France, and in Poland and in Hungary that of Italy. It is predicted that for 1955, Czech production per capita will reach the level of pre-war Germany; that of Poland the pre-war level of France;. and that of Roumania that of pre-war Italy.

25. “In 1951 the European satellites have added 56 tons of coal to each 100 tons extracted in the Soviet Union; their contribution in natural and synthetic gas to the common pool has been 27 tons for each 100 tons extracted by the Soviets; their contribution is 45.4 kilowatt-hours of electricity for each 100 kilowatt-hours of Soviet production, and 30.4 tons of steel for each 100 tons produced in the USSR.

“If the production ceilings set in the respective plans of the satellites are attained and if Soviet production continues its present advancement, their combined production in 1955 will reach: 578 million tons of coal; 223 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity; 79 million tons of crude oil; and 60 million tons of steel. The ceilings which Stalin fixed in his speech on February 9, 1946 for Soviet production in 1961 (or later) – in order to render the Soviet Union invulnerable – would then be exceeded five years sooner with the help of the satellites.” (Inquiry by Casimir Smogorzewski in Le Monde, May 13, 1952)

26. See the decisions of the Second Conference of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (S.E.D.) held from July 9–12, 1952.

27. China has only begun to take this road, but the political premises already exist for it to be maintained and to rapidly progress in this direction.

28. In the case of the European “People’s Democracies”, except for Yugoslavia, the destruction of the old bourgeois state has been accomplished largely through the military-bureaucratic action of the Soviet leaders.

29. Declaration by Hilary Minc, head of the Polish economy, in Tribuna Ludu, October 10, 1951.

30. One after another the Communist Party leaders in these countries complain that “labour discipline” leaves much to be desired. (Rakosi in Szabad Nep, January 13, 1952; Zapatocki in Rude Prado, November 1, 1951; and more recently the Secretary of the Bulgarian trade unions in Rabotnitchesko Delo, December 18, 1951, etc.)

The labour legislation now enforced in the USSR, riveting the workers to their work-shop and punishing their leaving without authorization, is being progressively introduced in all the “People’s Democracies”.

31. Except for China and in part Yugoslavia, which were both fundamentally freed by their own forces.

32. After the war the leaders of the Soviet Union and of the Communist Parties were obliged to recognize the imperialist character of the war led by the “democratic” capitalist countries without at the same time, it is true, drawing all the consequences from it regarding the policy of “sacred union” of the Communist Parties with the capitalist class of these countries.

33. Nevertheless this does not seem to be the viewpoint of Walter Ulbricht, General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (S.E.D.), who declared in his report to the Second Conference of the Party held July 9–12, 1952:

“The imperialist camp, which came out weakened from the Second World War, is torn by insurmountable internal contradictions. It is divided into two parts: the group of vanquished imperialist countries (Western Germany, Japan, Italy) and the group of victorious imperialist countries (U.S., Great Britain, France) ... The law of unequal development of the imperialist countries, and of the inevitability of the contradictions and war between them, is now operating stronger than ever.” (Our emphasis. Published in For a Lasting Peace, etc. December 18, 1951.)

34. In the chapter Militarism as a Sphere of Accumulation in her book, The Accumulation of Capital, written in 1912.

35. Apart from this new “important function” of militarism, Rosa Luxembourg thus described its other functions in the past:

“Militarism fulfils an entirely definite function in the history of capitalism, accompanying each of its historical phases of accumulation. It played a decisive role in the first stages of European capitalism, in the so-called period of ‘primary accumulation’, as a means of conquering the New World and the lands of the Indies, the producers of spices. Later it was used to force modem colonies to destroy the social organizations: of primitive societies in such a way as to appropriate their means of production for itself, to introduce by force trade in commodities wherever the social structure: was unfavourable to it, and to transform the natives into proletarians.

“It was responsible for the creation and expansion of spheres of interest of European capital in non-European territory, for the extortion of concessions for railroads in the backward countries, and for the imposition of the demands of European capital to become the international moneylender. Finally, militarism: is an arm in the. competition waged between capitalist countries for the territories of a non-capitalist character.”

36. The argument that the Soviet leaders are driving toward war is denied by the facts. If they wanted war, they should logically have launched it between 1945 and 1950, for instance, before the Atlantic Pact rearmament and have profited from their overwhelming military superiority during this period. They still ought to declare it now, before American rearmament attains its maximum point.

In reality, the Soviet leaders dread the war.

But exactly for what reason are they afraid of the war, and wish to postpone it for as long as possible?

A well-known French writer, Jean Paul Sartre, for instance, explains that the principal reason must be sought in the Soviet Union’s fear of losing this war because of “a real disproportion” which remains “between the Eastern bloc and the Western bloc” (Les Temps Modernes, July 1952, article by Sartre on The Communists and Peace.) Sartre obviously reasons solely on the relation of forces from the potential military viewpoint which is, as we will see in the following chapter only one part of the relation of global forces between the two social camps (and not only of two groups of States).

But the same author admits that the Soviet Union did not attack at the time when “it was invincible in Europe” and “American rearmament had not begun.”

Was this because of an abstract love for Peace, as the leaders of the Communist Parties throughout the world want the petty-bourgeois masses to believe the Soviet Union is for Peace, imperialism is for War)? Or was it through “Leninist” wisdom, as Sartre would have us understand – to the great dismay of the admirers of this moralist? Sartre dares to compare the thoroughly opportunist policy of the Soviet leaders, who are unscrupulous in the means they use and heedless of their effects on the revolutionary education of the masses, with the principled policy of Lenin, who exerted every effort toward the intensified revolutionary mobilization of the international proletariat.

But what does such wisdom consist of if it is not used when one is strong, but in reality permit? the enemy to choose the moment of its attack which is in any event inevitable? “Leninist” wisdom was synonymous with revolutionary boldness and a realistic approach, without illusions about a situation.

In reality, the Soviet bureaucracy – and this is a notion Sartre fails to grasp either in its historical and concrete social content, as well as in its consequences for the domestic and foreign policy of the USSR – is afraid of the revolutionary consequences of the war, not only for capitalism, but also for its own rule, as a privileged caste in the USSR. To this day it continues to be as much afraid of these consequences as of the military potential imperialism will actually fling into the preparation for war.

37. On this score, we refer the reader, among others, to the book by the liberal American journalist, I.F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War, Monthly Review Press, New York.

38. In his book, on the basis of a concise and copious documentation. Stone states that the Korean War was deliberately prepared as an international conflict by the MacArthur, John Foster Dulles, Syngman Rhee and Chiang Kai-Shek clique, in order to provoke the intervention of American imperialism in Asia, combat China and speed up American rearmament.

39. With the provisional exception of the United States.

40. See the references on the combined production of the Soviet Union and the “People’s Democracies” in the chapter on The Non-Capitalist States. The figures given by Pravda of August 20, 1952, on the new Soviet Five Year Plan from 1951 to 1955 confirms and reinforces these references.

41.That is to say, from the structure of the nationalized and planned economy of the Soviet Union which an eventual victory of capitalism would no longer maintain.

42. The present relative stability of the relation of social forces in the United States will not resist the first blows the war will deliver to it.

The United States has already entered upon the period of its social crisis. Explosive charges have actually been incorporated into its structure from the entire capitalist world, into which the United States is compelled to plunge its roots ever more deeply.

But for the time being, the open outbreak of the crisis, and its revolutionary transformation, are held up by the economic prosperity, the low political level of the masses, and the absence of a powerful revolutionary vanguard. The war, which will this time be felt on the very soil of the country and whose burdens will have to be borne above all by the American masses, will precipitate revolutionary developments in the U.S.

43. See Einstein and His Universe by Lincoln Barnett.

44. Whither Human Labor? by Georges Friedmann. Editions Gallimard, Paris.

45. Ibid.

46. An important reduction in the working day will not only leave time for leisure, but will be accompanied by a many-sided technical training of the worker (instead of the mechanical repetition and execution of a single detailed operation) that only the socialist organization of humanity will permit. This will undeniably limit to a practically insignificant degree the present injuries inflicted by the “technical environment” upon the all-sided development of the individual.

47. The Situation of Modern Art by Jean Cassou, Paris.

48. On this point, see the testimony of the American writer, Jack Belden, in his book China Shakes the World. The Chinese leaders themselves were forced to state that in 1946 they had to yield to the spontaneous movement of agrarian reform unleashed by the peasants. (Declarations by Hua Kang, by Liu Shao-Chi and even by Mao-Tse-Tung in 1946) Also see the statement by Liu Chao-Chi in The Model Example of Agrarian Reform in Ping-Chun, and the Purging of the Party.

49. We refer especially to the recent developments in the policy of the French Communist Party. The notes found on Jacques Duclos at the time of his arrest last July, as well as the report by Fajon, which followed the events of June 4, throw light on the way in which the leaders of the French Communist Party now elaborate their policy and the pressures they are subjected to.

50. On this score the discussion which has recently taken place among the young playwrights in the Soviet literary journals around the crisis in the Soviet theatre is significant. The Soviet theatre has been subjected to the stranglehold of the “Chinovniki”, administrators of the bureaucratic type, who force playwrights to adopt in practice the theory of a “drama without conflicts.” Naturally this has led to the complete stultification of the drama.

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Michel Pablo
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Marxist Writers’

Updated on: 6 May 2015