Max Shachtman


MacDonald’s Assault on India

The Labor Party’s Message of Peace Comes from the Mouth of Machine Guns

(May 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 20, 17 May 1930, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The world of liberal and socalist reformism is deeply stirred with fear and chagrin. All its shabby principles and methods, its “prestige”, its “future” are in danger of crashing on the rocks of the class struggle in India. The British Labor Party and its leader, Ramsay MacDonald, are again taking the great dispute between reform and revolution out of the realm of abstract discussion and testing the merits of the former in undisputable realities. And the test has resulted, as was inevitable, in a crushing indictment of MacDonaldism.

Eighteeen hundred British troops, the soldiers of His Majesty and His Majesty’s loyal servants of the Labor Party, are patrolling the streets of Sholapur. The Indian population is being persuaded of the nobleness of MacDonald’s “inevitability of gradualness” by the establishment of martial law. The message of all-hallowing pacifism is pouring out of Labor Party machine guns that point down all the thoroughfares. MacDonald is insertng the sweet spirit of Christ and Laborism into the hearts of the Indian masses at the point of the saber and bayonet.

From 200 to 500 Indians have been imprisoned in turbulent Bombay and vicinity so that they can reflect in their cells on the Labor Party’s passionate desire to “free India”. So can the 80 Indians that were arrested in Calcutta. So can the relatives of the Indians massacred at Peshawur when the British troops (with the slogans of MacDonald’s pacifism inscribed on their regimental banners) retook the city from the insurgents. The pious Christian Laborites are on a Holy Crusade – to preserve the British Empire.

The international social democracy is worried. Its “prestige” is being hopelessly compromised. The French Populaire writes: “Political opinion in England – and in that country every government is obliged to reckon with it – is so attached to what it calls ‘the integrity of the empire’ that the cabinet which would infringe this integrity, in which India forms the keystone for the English, would be immediately swept away.” Nevertheless, these professional slave traders add, “the Labor Party looks upon the Gandhi movement with sympathy”. Certainly, for Gandhi who is strangling the movement he is involutarily arousing but not for the movement itself.

Norman Thomas, the spokesman for American “socialism” who is also a man of God and piety, expresses the worried “hope that the (Labor) Party will find some honorable (!) way out of the tragically difficult situation which it has inherited (?) in India.” To be sure, Mr. Thomas, who has such ardent hopes of building a replica of the British Labor Party in the United States so that he may himself become a MacDouald, is more than a little embarrassed by the difficulties created for him in advance by his brother-in-Christ. MacDonald. Thomas is wiser than MacDonald only because he has not the chance to exercize power – and may Thomas’ God help the Filipinos and Cubans if he ever gets the chance. There is no reason in the world to believe that Mr, Thomas will act any better in Havana or Manila than Zoergiebel in Berlin or MacDonald in Sholapur or Cairo.

Puzzled and Powerless!

Thomas is not the only apologetic and embarrassed socialist. His colleague, James Oneal cables the Labor Party: “American workers puzzled regarding Labor Party’s attitude toward India.” The evangel of timid “progressivism” Muste declares that MacDonald has done things “which leave his friends powerless to say a word in his defense”. We know of no better characterization of these two men than the ones they themselves employ: Oueal is puzzled about how to defend the scoundrelly record of is fellows in India (he is puzzled in general, by any important question), and Muste is as powerless to defend it as he is careful not to attack it.

But what Muste is careful not to do, Lovestone does. He is, as he will explain, an enemy of British imperialism and Laborism. So that on May 10, he called a mass meeting at Columbus Circle to “DEMAND FREEDOM FOR GANDHI”!! Lovestone is bitter at MacDonald too. He wants to “restore” Gandhi to the Indian masses! Lovestone is the most violent opponent of the “permanent revolution” in India. He does not want to “skip any stages of development”. Gandhi has not yet had the opportunity to massacre the Indian masses like Chiang Kai-Shek did in China. The “only” thing he has done so far is to betray them in his own way, hand the militants over to the British jailors by disowning their “violence”. Consistent Lovestone! For the alliance with Chiang Kai-Shek in the Chinese revolution in 1925-27 and for the defense of the strangler of the Indian revolution, for “the freedom of Gandhi”, in 1930!

As for the Daily Worker, and the rest of the Stalinist press, it is as puzzled as Oneal and as speechless as Muste – from another point of view. It has an unusual opportunity to draw pointed lessons from the Indian revolts and the attitude of Laborite reformism. But it is strangely silent. Its Indian news is buried somewhere on an insignificant page. It fears to speak of a genuine revolutionary movement in India because there is no Communist Party there. AND THERE IS NO COMMUNIST PARTY BECAUSE STALIN HAS BEEN TOO BUSY PLAYING WITH INDIAN NATIONALISM AND PETTY BOURGEOIS “WORKERS AND PEASANT PARTIES” TO BUILD THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT. The Indian masses are paying heavily for the crimes of Stalinism.

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