Peter Petroff, Labour, December 1938

Mobilisation of Cowardice

Source: Labour, December 1938, p. 12-14;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

During the severe industrial crisis in Germany, the magnates of capital who had suckled Hitler’s hooligan party, mobilised the declassed and degraded, dressing up their Nazi puppets as a new brand of “Socialists” that had found a panacea for all social ills.

Hitler proclaimed he would destroy “the System." The starving ignorant crowds of loafers, declassed intellectuals and ex-officers, bankrupt shopkeepers and peasants believed he meant the capitalist system. Hitler’s masters, however, meant the democratic system of government.

This Hitler has destroyed to its very foundation. Now in his Munich beergarden speech he boasts: “I and I alone can speak for the German people.” This is only too true – the German people cannot speak for itself, it is gagged, chained, enslaved, and may open its mouth only to cheer its oppressors.

Those who have sat at Hitler’s feet have obviously acquire this technique of the “big lie” as expounded in “Mein Kampf.”

“Peace in our time” is the slogan for the purpose of mobilising cowardice and ignorance in the Western Democracies.

We are witnessing a peculiar display of “pacifism of the right.” The hyenas of capital have suddenly turned vegetarian and become propagandists of peace! They abuse the fighters for democratic liberties, justice, and international Labour Solidarity as “war-mongers.”

The aim is clear. In Germany, Fascism came by mobilising the ignorant indifferent, by bringing to the polls the eternal non-voter devoid of public spirit.

In the Western Democracies we are now faced with a determined attempt to further international reaction by bringing into the selfish cowardly anti-social instincts of the mob. “Peace in our time.”

The Labour Movement in all countries has since its inception sought for peace and justice.

In our own time when Japan, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, who have militarised their peoples from the cradle to the grave, are showing their love of peace by carrying on ruthless warfare in Spain, Abyssinia, and China, two roads to peace were open.

Collective security through a League of Peace-loving Nations advocated by the Labour Movement could have restrained the aggressor States, and maintained law and order in the world. This has been paralysed by those newly-fledged apostles of peace.

The alternative road was intensive re-armament of the Democracies. Their economic power and financial stability made it possible for them to make the tottering totalitarian dictatorships lose their breath in the race. The economically and financially bankrupt Fascist States could not possibly have kept up the armament race for any length of time

To the international armament trust, the steel trust, the comité forges and their whole fraternity, this was rather an unpleasant outlook. The collapse of Fascism would have meant the end of the armament race. A slump in their shares was bound to follow.

Generally for the magnates of capital – those “pacifists of the right” – the perspective of the collapse of Fascism in Germany and Italy and its replacement by a democratic regime with strong Socialist tendencies was most disturbing.

Thus Austria had to be devoured, Czechoslovakia dismembered and robbed, the unattained conquest of Abyssinia recognised, and Mussolini given a free hand in Spain.

During the September “crisis” the allied victory in the great war for which millions of Britons and Frenchmen have died, has been undone within a few days.

Thus the Fascist States have received a new lease of life: enhanced prestige, new territory, an improved strategic position, new objects of exploitation, and great material resources to prepare for further aggression.

But Hitler is not yet satisfied. Still hoarse from celebrating his unexpected, easy victories, he peremptorily demands colonies. “After we have failed to gain our rights in a normal manner by negotiations,” he threatens, “we shall demand our rights if necessary by different methods.”

And in the same breath this Nazi demagogue joins in the chorus of reactionary politicians in France and Britain denouncing liberty-loving democratic Statesmen as “war-mongers.”

The obvious object is the isolation of the Soviet Union and the re-establishment of the infamous “Holy Alliance” of by-gone days in the form of a Four-Power Pact. “You would make great mistake if you thought that Munich began and ended with the Czechoslovakian question,” said the Prime Minister at the Guildhall.

In these circumstances the Communist International finds itself in a plight. Having killed all who possessed both brains and international experiences, Stalin and his puppets show a complete inability of appraising the changed world situation.

Somehow they have got hold of a rather fantastic Nazi “programme of aggression” according to which Germany intend to attack and subjugate Hungary and Poland, Roumania and Jugoslavia within the next two years, thereupon all her western neighbours from Switzerland to Holland and Denmark, finally, in 1941 – the Soviet Union.

Apparently the Comintern takes this document seriously. Being misled by the campaign of exaggeration of Nazi might, the Comintern, instead of pointing at the weak sides of the German Colossus with its feet of clay, ominously warns Europe and tries to market again the old, old slogan of the “united front,” this time in the guise of a world conference of working-class organisations.

Now that Nazi Germany has been strengthened, the Soviet Union would be well advised to stop the purges, and the persecution of revolutionaries, to grant some measure of political liberty to the workers, and to prepare to meet the enemy who might appear at the gate even before 1941.

All the attempts to disrupt the Labour Movement by calumny; misrepresentation and “permeation,” sailing under the flag of the “united” or “popular front,” have tended to weaken the Labour Movement in Europe, the force that stands against reaction. The clumsy manoeuvres of the Comintern have almost annihilated the sympathies of the working class which might be of greatest importance to the Soviet Union in the hour of danger.

The Nazi time table broadcasted by Dimitrov presupposes a terrific and growing power of Nazi Germany. It ignores entirely the other forces at work in Europe, in the United States, and inside the Fascist countries themselves.

In January, 1917, the might of Tsarist Russia seemed overwhelming and stable. Within a short time it fell at the first serious attack from the people. Nazi Germany is similarly rotten under the surface – how long can it survive?