George Padmore 1941

Answers to a Questionnaire on the War

Source: Left, No. 62, November 1941;
Transcribed: by Christian Hogsbjerg for the Marxists’ Internet Archive 2007.

1. Is the present Anglo-German conflict fundamentally an imperialist war?

2. Whether imperialist or not, is it unimportant to British workers whether Britain or Germany triumphs?
No, but main enemy is at home.

3. Is there any important difference, from the worker’s standpoint, between British Imperialism and German Nazism?
Yes for British, no for colonial.

4. Is the struggle of China, Norway or Greece imperialistic?

5. Does it become so because assisted by Great Britain?
Yes, if the governments of these countries permit their foreign policy to be dominated by the imperialist aims of Anglo-American coalition; e.g. Finland is dominated by German imperialism and is seeking territorial gains in consequence.

6. Should Socialists support the British war effort?

7. Should Socialists support the present British Government?

8. Should Socialists support strikes which have a legitimate industrial objective, even if they retard the war effort?
Yes, Socialists cannot be strike-breakers.

9. Is a Peace by Negotiation desireable, at any price?
With Hitler No.

10. Is a Peace by Negotiation possible at present, on terms which would not leave Hitler master of continental Europe and with a free hand to continue the war on one front against the U.S.S.R.?

11. Has the German invasion of the U.S.S.R. affected the issue of a negotiated peace now?

12. Is the prospect of a negotiated peace likely to stimulate or retard revolutionary opposition to Nazism in the occupied countries?

13. If the U.S.S.R. is defeated, is the Anglo-American combination likely to achieve victory? –

14. Would victory then be possible by mainly military means? –

15. If so, is the present British leadership adopting and developing those means with sufficient speed?
Only socialist methods can solve Britain’s production problems.

16. Is the alternative of a psychological offensive a practical one?

17. Is it an alternative or a supplementary method? I.e. Would revolt be possible throughout the Continent without the continuation of the armed struggle?

18. Is the present Government adopting and developing this method adequately?

19. If not, is the Government basically incapable of using this method?

(16-19) Only if a socialist offensive. Therefore, under imperialism if alternative or supplementary does not arise.

20. Is the present Government, if victorious, likely to establish a durable peace?
An imperialist peace.

21. Is the U.S.S.R., if its resistance is maintained, likely to dominate the situation at the end of the war and ensure the establishment of Soviet Communism over large areas of Europe?
I refuse to encroach upon the province of Mr. Naylor, e.g., if Germany becomes Socialist, then there is a greater likelihood of her dominating Europe than the U.S.S.R. by reason of (i) her geographical position, (ii) her technological development, (iii) her cultural advancement. In such a situation the bogey of Stalinism would be eliminated.

22. Will it be possible to avoid the dominance of either Imperialism or Stalinism at the end of the war?
Chief danger is Anglo-American counter-revolution.

23. Is the British Labour Movement the main bulwark against such a situation?
The British Labour Party can be counted upon in supporting British Imperialism in imposing counter-revolution.

24. Can the British Labour Movement exercise a decisive influence on the course of the war while in a minority position in Parliament?
No, it lacks the will to power.

25. Is a Socialist, or a predominantly Socialist, Government possible of achievement during the course of war?

26. Would it necessarily strengthen or weaken the war effort?

27. Could such a Government be obtained by constitutional means – i.e. by a General Election?

28. If so, could mass pressure force the present Government to face a General Election?
(25-28) If there were a socialist Government, the whole situation would be altered, but it cannot be achieved constitutionally.

29. If not, should the formation of such a Government by revolutionary means be attempted if suitable conditions arose?

30. Are such conditions likely to arise?
Let us hope so.

31. Would such an attempt fatally weaken the war effort and enable Hitler to strike a decisive blow?
This depends on Hitler’s position at the time. It is conceivable for such revolutionary action to take place as the result of social revolution on the continent, to prevent our own democratic, peace-loving, blue-eyed City gentlemen from imposing their New Order on the European workers.

32. Would it be possible that by that stage Hitler’s own internal position would also be extremely insecure?
See 31.

33. Should all Socialists who believe the present Government incapable of defeating Nazism, or who believe that Socialist methods would shorten the war and win the peace, unite in a common front for an intense propaganda drive?

34. Should this drive be linked with support for “Win the War by Socialism” candidates at present by-elections?
Has propaganda value.

35. Could such a drive exert a decisive influence on the course of the war?
The decisive factor will be hunger.