From The Newsletter, 19 September 1959.
Transcribed by Christian Hogsbjerg.
‘Peaceful co-existence’ is a phoney notion and like all such it is most safely defended by means of platitude and claptrap. If one ventures on to solid ground in arguing for it one is likely to get caught and exposed. Khrushchev seems to have forgotten this homely wisdom in his article for the American magazine, Foreign Affairs. Not content to stay on the plane of analogies with neighbours in a village tolerating each others’ oddities, he has to drag in a bit of history:
‘One does not need to delve deeply into history to appreciate how important it is for mankind to ensure peaceful co-existence. And here it may be said parenthetically that the Europeans might have benefited a great deal in their day if, instead of organizing senseless crusades that invariably ended in failure, they had established peaceful relations with the differently-minded peoples of the Moslem East.’
Cairo papers please copy, I suppose. But when I read this I reached for a book I bought in Moscow some years ago, a university textbook on the Middle Ages, edited by Kosminsky and Skazkin, and looked up the chapter on the crusades. On orthodox Marxist lines, it showed these expeditions as resulting from the tensions in West-European feudal society of those days.
Shall we find a new treatment of the crusades appearing in Soviet history books now, in which the whole business is treated as a silly misunderstanding which could have been avoided if leaders like King Richard Lion-heart and Sultan Saladin had only been as wise as Khrushchev and sought ‘summit talks’?
Twentieth-century capitalism, even worse than twelfth-century feudalism, is a system driven to expand and grab by its inner necessities, and no preaching or finger-wagging will alter it. The only effect which articles like Khrushchev’s can have is to confuse and disarm the working class, whose clear understanding of the nature of capitalism and how to overthrow it is the only sure guarantee of peace and the defence of the Soviet Union.
Quite naturally the approach of ‘summit talks’ has set many people recalling what happened the last time such negotiations took place, in the days of Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam, 1943–1945.
Crankshaw, in the Observer, reminds us of Stalin’s pained astonishment when the Western Powers began to show that they did not take seriously their agreement to leave Russia a free hand in Rumania though he had most scrupulously observed his promise to stand back and let the Greek workers be crushed, as a quid pro quo.
The British intervention in Greece aroused such indignation in the labour movement here that the Communist Party was compelled to make some protest noises. Churchill showed insolent awareness of the special difficulty of their position when, while ‘Big Three Unity’ was still the cry, he spoke in the House of Commons on January 18, 1945, in justification of his action:
‘For three or four days or more it was a struggle to prevent a hideous massacre in the centre of Athens, in which all forms of government would have been swept away and naked, triumphant Trotskyism installed, I think “Trotskyists” is a better definition of these people, and of certain other sects, than the normal word, and it has the advantage of being equally hated in Russia.’
And when Gallacher a little later dared to ask a question, Churchill growled menacingly: ‘I shall continue to probe carefully the exact political shade which the honourable member adopts.’
The Daily Worker’s breathtaking claim that the talks arranged to take place between Eisenhower and Khrushchev constitute some sort of ‘triumph’ of the ‘peace movement’ is characteristic of the cynical methods of the Stalinists.
Reading a newspaper article recently about the abdication of Edward VIII (I think it was the one in the Sunday Times about Queen Mary’s angle on that traumatic event in the history of the royal family) I was reminded of the capers cut on that occasion. All too probably, the younger members of the Communist Party do not know and would be surprised to learn that the ‘party line’ was to support the King in resisting pressure for his abdication. His desire to marry Mrs Simpson was said to be ‘a private affair.’ (The writer of a letter to the Daily Worker which was refused publication, and which appeared in The Plebs for January 1937, asked whether they would have said the same if the King had proposed to marry, say, Goering’s sister?)
At the French Communist Party’s annual congress, however, held not long afterwards, Thorez listed among the victories of ‘the people’ in recent times ‘the removal of a pro-fascist king in Britain’!
In fact, of course, Edward was removed by the British ruling class, acting through Baldwin, because he had ceased to be a suitable symbol of the bourgeois virtues. There was nothing about the man to evoke support from the working class. Indeed his associations and those of Mrs Simpson were with near-fascist elements – but that was not why he was removed by Baldwin and Co.!
Mr Morgan Phillips is still having difficulty in getting a top-class insurance for the period of his retirement. He allowed his name to go forward for the ‘safe’ North Nottingham constituency, since the miners’ first nominee had withdrawn. It was announced on Wednesday of this week, however, that the. miners had made a new nomination, Mr W. Swain, a working miner.
Well, well; Mr Phillips has managed the Labour Party all the way through the taming of Bevan to the present domination by the extreme Right wing, and has recently excelled himself by proscribing the Socialist Labour League and The Newsletter. His final blaze of glory was a record number of expulsions during the summer. When will the miners learn to display a modicum of gratitude for such fine and resolute leadership?
Last updated on 13.10.2011