World Policies

S. J. Rutgers

Published: International Socialist Review, vol. 18, no. 3. September 1917. Pages 172-173.
Transcription/Markup: Micah Muer, 2021.

In commenting upon a book on American World policies, written by a bourgeois author, the editor of our International Socialist Review adds a few remarks, which should not pass uncriticized.

World policy under Imperialism is the most important face of Capitalism, to which internal problems become more and more subordinated. It dominates all social relations; in fact, it constitutes the class struggle in its most general form as waged by the dominating Big Interests. The counterpart of it is the International organization of the workers, the breakdown of which meant our defeat, the rebuilding of which on new lines constitutes our new hope. To understand the underlying forces in world policies therefore, is most important; it means to understand the position, development and methods of our enemy class as seen from the broadest, most general standpoint, as a world vision.

This puts certain obligations on our part in commenting on or discussing world policies. If a worker sticks to his class struggle on the job, his life is worth while and he contributes to the victory of his class. Smaller mistakes, if not interfering with his class consciousness are easily corrected by the logic of actual facts.

But looking at the class fight from a more general standpoint and especially from a world standpoint, requires certain methods of systematical research and analysis, requires the Marxian view. This method is within the grasp of the workers and is barred to bourgeois scientists and philosophers, but it cannot be acquired without effort, without mental exercise. And failures in the use of these methods or studies in world policies without even using these methods are not only worthless, but they are boundless in their errors.

What I object to in the editorial of July are not in the first place the conclusions which I consider altogether wrong, but more so the absolute lack of method in dealing with such all important problems.

After giving typical bourgeois conclusions, vague and conflicting, such as:

Mr. Weyl "proposes" great international corporations, each owned by the capitalists, not of one but of several nations, to exploit backward countries and to prevent war. At the same time he "proposes" free trade with these countries, no protective tariff and equal opportunity.

That a bourgeois writer "proposes" these things as a kind of a remedy against war is only in line with the usual lack of historic sense, but it is almost criminal neglect if a socialist editorial ventures to remark: "These suggestions are of immense importance, because for one thing, they are directly in line with the theories advocated by Woodrow Wilson, who is likely to be in a position to use the resources of the United States in a way to launch some such 'experiments' as Mr. Weyl has outlined."

In a time of world war, in a time in which enormous economic interests and social forces crash upon each other, so as to threaten to swallow humanity, Woodrow Wilson, the Don Quixote of American Imperialism, will launch an experiment to end the war by promoting great private corporations owned by capitalists of "several" nations, with the express purpose to exploit backward nations.

Now we may discuss the problem in how far tendencies in Capitalism lead towards an international organization of capitalism and whether in a more or less distant future this may lead to a general understanding of International Capital about the exploitation of the world proletariat. In my opinion, facts do not point in this direction for any visible future, but by all means let us stop scheming and suggesting and expecting from Wilson or Rockefeller or any other superman to "arrange" an international tribunal or trust for world peace and world plunder. We certainly are beyond that stage of looking at world policies.

(Note by the Editor. I am glad to make room for Comrade Rutger's criticism, but I do not think he succeeds in making his point. Mr. Weyl's book did not consist of Utopian schemes for a better world, unrelated to the facts of this one. It is a remarkably clear analysis of current facts. Moreover, his proposal for an international exploitation of backward countries is directly in line with the material interests of the capitalist class of the United States. That is my main reason for thinking President Wilson will favor the plan, and I ought to have made the point in my July editorial, but omitted to do so. Comrade Rutgers should remember that he instinctively thinks as a European, and that international agreements are far more nearly in line with American traditions than is militarism. Moreover, I suspect that the economic exhaustion of the European countries will soon make such a plan look more feasible than preparations for more wars. — C. H. K.)