War and Social Chauvinism

Alarm Signals Against Jingoist Trends in the Communist Party

(April 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 16 (Whole No. 112), 16 April 1932, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

In the Daily Worker we read:

“In an article in Izvestia, Radek said:

“‘If challenged, the Soviet Union will have a right to seek temporary allies among the capitalist powers, which at the present stage do not infringe on her frontiers or interests.’

“The article implied that the United States would be the natural ally of Russia under such circumstances and said that there was a growing anti-Japanese sentiment in America.”

The Daily Worker, on its own account, adds in approval:

“Not rejecting any possibility, no matter how temporary and slight it can be, to utilize the contradictions existing between the imperialists for the purpose of strengthening the position of the proletariat and the oppressed peoples, in their class struggle, this proposal means a new step of the peace policy of the Soviet Union.”

Stalin, Izvestia, Radek and the Daily Worker advance this reactionary anti-Communist idea in the name of Leninism.

In 1918 replying to the social patriots of Western Europe, in What is a Peace Program?, Trotsky wrote:

“Social patriotism, which is in principle, if not always in fact, the execution of social reformism to the utmost extent and its adaptation to the imperialist epoch, proposes to us in the present world catastrophe to direct the policy of the proletariat in the direction of the ‘lesser evil’ by joining one of the two groups. We reject this method.”

In March 1918, in his theses on Brest-Litovsk, Lenin wrote categorically:

“One policy must be based, not on a choice between two imperialisms, but on the possibility of strengthening the socialist revolution, or at least, on the necessity of enabling it to offer resistance until the other countries join the revolutionary movement ... We have (always fought our own imperialism, but the overthrow of the imperialism of one country by means of an alliance with the imperialism of another, is a line of action that we reject both on reasons of principle and because we consider it inadmissible.”

There is the answer to Stalinist nationalism, made by Lenin and Trotsky fourteen years ago! – M.S.

The problems of war put all policies and groups to the highest test. The world war submitted the international social democracy to its severest test, and the result of the slow poison of opportunism which had been eating into it during the whole pre-war epoch, was revealed in one illuminating flash. August 4, 1914, was not the beginning of the degeneration of the social democracy, it was the culminating point of a process of decay which had set in long before. The pre-war Left wing, whose revolutionary superiority lay in its mastery of Marxian analysis and foresight, traced the flow of social patriotic poison through the veins of the social democracy and sought to check it at every juncture.

The same task devolves upon the revolutionist today. It is all the more imperative for our Communist movement at the present moment for two reasons:

  1. the theory of socialism in one country opens the veins of the Communist parties for the free infusion of nationalistic poison;
  2. the sharpening of the world imperialist conflict, which has already broken out in a miniature world war in China, is posing all political questions starkly.

That is why every Communist worker must raise a loud cry of warning against the treacherous proposals advanced in the leading editorial of the Daily Worker on April 12, 1932. The editorial, completely devoid of a breath of proletarian revolutionism, is one of the most disgraceful pieces of cynical flirtation with chauvinism that has ever appeared in the Communist movement.

Let it be emphasized that we are not confronted here with some accidental “American aberration.” The well of inspiration from which the proposals are drawn is the official mouthpiece of the Soviet government, the Moscow Izvestia. According to a sensational capitalist press dispatch which the Daily Worker reproduces as authentic, Radek, writing in Izvestia on April 10, declared:

“If challenged, the Soviet Union will have a right to seek temporary allies among the capitalist powers which at the present stage do not infringe on her frontiers or interests ... Japan would be insane under such circumstances to create new fronts and arouse against herself a great country which at present stands aside (?!) in the struggle that is tearing the imperialist world to pieces.”

The article has but one meaning, as is recognized by the capitalist press and the Daily Worker: The Soviet Union is warning Japan against overt hostile acts with the threat of an alliance with imperialist America. We may therefore assume that in the event of a war, the Soviet Union would enter into a “temporary alliance” with Wall Street and Washington for the purpose of defending its frontiers against a Japanese invasion and ... of helping American imperialism in turn to replace the Japanese in the domination of the Pacific and the Orient. Such an alliance, presumably, Is “also” in the interests of imperialist America, the country “which at present stands aside in the struggle”.

Where is the “temporary alliance” or any other kind of alliance with the American working class, that is, with the only class in this and every other country that provides any guarantee against a successful attack upon the fortress of the proletariat? Where is even an “alliance” with the Chinese people who have a really revolutionary interest in crushing the Japanese imperialists? It does not exist in what the Daily Worker, with unconscious ominousness, calls a “new step in the consistent and decisive policy of the Soviet Union”. What does exist is an unprecedented, reactionary, unprincipled, “diplomatic” proposal which spits right in the face of what Lenin wrote expressly on the question of the impermissibility for the Soviets to join hands with one imperialist power for the struggle against another.

But it is not entirely unprecedented. In 1923–24, Bucharin advanced the theory that since Germany, under the Versailles system, had become a “semi-colonial country”, it was conceivable for the Soviet republic to make a military alliance with it against the Entente. Even this “modified” version was treated very coldly, and aroused the protest of the Bolshevik elements in the International, But at least Bucharin presented a certain “motivation” for his theory: Germany was a “semi-colony” fighting the imperialist powers; in allying itself with Germany, the Soviet republic would also be helping to “emancipate an oppressed nationality”.

But who is to be emancipated in the newly proposed alliance? Is America to be liberated from the Japanese yoke?

And if the war breaks out with a Soviet Russia-United States alliance in existence, what is to be the attitude of the revolutionary proletariat in this country? Logically, it should do everything to remove all obstacles standing in the way of the maintenance of the alliance. It should consequently refrain from disturbing the economic and political relations in the country so that the effectiveness of the American partner in the alliance is not diminished. It is, in a word, to renounce class war and embrace the policy of civil peace with its bourgeoisie. This was the Bucharinist conception, in essence, for Germany in 1923; no other meaning can be extracted from the proposal “unofficially” made in the Soviet government organ by Radek.

The Daily Worker, entirely consistent with the theory of socialism in one country, which means in practise the abandonment of every revolutionary principle in the alleged interests of defending the Soviet Union from military attack, picks up the Radek thread with all its implications elaborated upon even more shamelessly. Taking Radek’s cue, the editorial writer proceeds to address himself to the American ruling class in order to show it that its best imperialist interests lie in a break with Japan and an alliance with the Soviets. Yesterday’s blaring headlines which announced to the readers that the United States is behind the whole anti-Soviet move, are forgotten as lightly as they were conceived. Instead we read this solicitous advice to the American bourgeoisie concerning the recent Tardieu-MacDonald conference:

“At this conference two questions were discussed simultaneously: the situation in the Far East and the common repudiation of paying war debts to the United States. It is also no accident that the ‘attack against the dollar’ has been strengthened to an unparalleled degree directly after this conference. The American ‘economists’ are trying to find the routes of this attack in the collaboration between French and English newspapers. It would be better for them to oast a glance deeper and to look into the Quai d’Orsay and Downing Street, where the French and English foreign policies are worked out.” (Our emphasis).

With this paragraph, the statesman of the Daily Worker seeks to do the detective work for the American bourgeoisie, neither more nor less.

“On Guard,” he cries in effect, “France and England are planning to repudiate your war debts. This is the conference which strengthened the attack on ‘our’ dollar. This attack is not being conducted by isolated newspapers. The real enemy is the French bourgeoisie, the English bourgeoisie. They are also ones who back Japan. You would be foolish to tolerate Japan’s advances upon the Soviets.”

Is this the first concrete result of the new Stalinist “temporary alliance”? Has the American party already become diplomatic adviser to the Hoover government? And has a more treacherous trap been prepared in the Communist movement in recent times than this one?

Now the party demand for the “expulsion of all Japanese diplomatic representatives from the U.S.” becomes entirely clear – if it ever was obscure. The American party demands of the bourgeoisie that it take steps against the Japanese which the Soviet Union has refrained from taking. But the expulsion of all diplomatic representatives is only the first of many connected steps. To break off diplomatic relations is usually the prelude to a declaration of war. The cruel logic of the party’s downright chauvinistic position is that, in the event of the consistent sharpening of the conflict, it would only be stopping “unreasonably” half way along its chosen road if it failed to support the American bourgeoisie in declaring war against the Japanese. This is how the mercenaries of Stalinism are slowly converting the great Leninist slogan to make it read: Transform the civil war into an imperialist war!

In his magnificent criticism of the program of the Comintern, comrade Trotsky pointed out that the nationalistic, opportunistic degeneration of the social democracy led inexorably to August 4, 1914, and he warned against the essential similarity with the poison injected into the body of world Communism by the idea of socialism in one country. Of all the rotten fruits it has born, the present is one of the most monstrous. We say openly: this road leads to a horrible catastrophe for international Communism to its betrayal and crucifixion. Stalinism is driving it to the brink of the abyss. The Communist workers must cleanse the movement of the poison before it is too late.

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