Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Unity Organization

Sooner or Later

Questions & Answers on War, Peace & the United Front

Section A: The Danger of War and Our Political Line

1. Just how real is the threat of war? In the 1950s and ’60s, U.S. Imperialism justified its aggression in the name of fighting so-called “Soviet expansionism.” Isn’t this new round of saber-rattling just more of the same propaganda?

This time unfortunately, the threat is very real. The all-out Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has driven home to many just how serious this threat is. Consider the words of a high-ranking Pakistani government official who told an American friend as Soviet troops poured into neighboring Afghanistan:

You see, this is what I have been telling you and now it’s come true. You Americans don’t seem to understand the world anymore. Next comes the Finlandization of Pakistan, and subversion of our country by the Russians. There is a very real possibility – likelihood even – of Soviet hegemony in this whole part of the world. Don’t your people in Washington care?[1]

What will happen if the Soviet Union, in its drive for access to the Persian Gulf, intervenes in the Baluchi region which straddles Iran and Pakistan, triggering the break-up of Pakistan? Would the U.S. stand by and let another country fall to the Soviets? Or would they march in, too late to save the national independence of Pakistan but soon enough to trigger a direct Soviet-U.S. confrontation?

The rapidly developing international events show the truth of the words of China’s Foreign Minister, Huang Hua, “A world war will break out at any moment. It is a question of when, not whether.”[2]

There have been tremendous changes since that post-World War II period when the U.S. was the undisputed military and economic power in the world, entering what was to be the “American Century.” Then, the U.S. military machine, backed by the ultimate threat of its awesome nuclear arsenal, dominated world affairs and could intervene in countries around the globe from Korea to Iran to the Dominican Republic. Since then, Western Europe and Japan have emerged as economic power centers to challenge total U.S. control of the Western economies; over 100 countries have overthrown colonialism and asserted their national rights (including one-quarter of the world’s people in the People’s Republic of China); and U.S. domination of the internal affairs of Third World countries has steadily been beaten back – not only on the outer periphery of its empire, but in such “secure” countries as Iran and Nicaragua.

During the 1970s the contradictions that are now propelling the world towards war began to mature. Two wars – the Indochina War and the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 – hit the U.S. economy like sledge hammers. The subsequent massive increases in the price of oil contributed to the inflation and stagnation already plaguing the U.S. economy. The U.S. dollar staggered under the impact of continual crises and its ability to function as the world’s leading reserve currency was increasingly questioned.

Watergate exposed to millions the corrupt decadence of the political elite. But it was really the Indochina War that had the most profound effect on the U.S. In 1975, for the first time, a U.S. ally went down in unconditional surrender. Hundreds of thousands of American and Indochinese lives had been lost – and for what?

A deep cynicism and demoralization set into the American culture. Many Americans looked for escape from their despair in drugs, alcohol, cult religions and various other forms of self-indulgence. While the civil rights, anti-war, and women’s movements made many positive gains, the potential from these movements that many thought would lead to revolutionary change has not been realized.

The Soviet Union, meanwhile, used the same 15 years to develop its own strength economically and politically and to increase tremendously its military power. Most people are well aware of the huge arsenal of weapons at the disposal of the U.S., but many doubt that the U.S.S.R. is as well equipped. Here’s what Soviet dissident, Roy Medvedev, had to say about that perception:

The Soviet Union is moving in one direction – toward the strengthening of our military might.... Our country is a military machine... .Americans are fools. They come to Russia, stay in our hotels, eat in the restaurants and find out that everything here is badly run.... Then they return to the United States with the conclusion that since Russia can’t run a hotel, it can’t build a rocket either. They don’t realize that we put everything into rocketry, that the government doesn’t care whether or not anything is left over for the population.... Americans cannot keep up with this kind of system.[3]

“This kind of system” is a fascist dictatorship that moves swiftly to repress any objection to the spending of 15^o of the annual Gross National Product on its military (compared to the 5% of the U.S. GNP). It is a system that hides the truth of its global aggression from its own people. There are no TV cameras recording the napalming of Afghani villages, or the helicopter assaults on Eritrean rebel positions, or the use of chemical warfare against the Kampuchean freedom fighters.[4] If the 1970s opened with leftists criticizing the Soviet doctrine of the “peaceful transition to socialism” – a policy that brought tragedy to the revolutionary movement in Chile – the 1980s opened with the new vision of the “transition to socialism” as Soviet T-72 tanks rolled down the Soviet-built highway connecting the U.S.S.R. and Kabul.

Some Factors Building Towards War

Economic Crisis. The U.S., Western European and Japanese crises are well known and documented elsewhere.[5] Not so widely known is the crisis in the Soviet Bloc. Consider:
• In a late November speech to the C.P.S.U.’s Central Committee, President Brezhnev blasted his ministers for waste, inefficiency, poor planning, shortages and turning out inferior quality goods.
• Moscow has sunk $600 billion into agriculture since 1964 with very disappointing results. The grain crop in 1979 fell 25% below the 1978 level.
• Although the U.S.S.R. is the world’s largest producer of oil, persistent and worsening problems in exploration and development mean that production is likely to fall. The Soviets fell short of even their revised goals by 10,000 barrels a day in 1976; 80,000 barrels daily in 1977; 170,000 barrels daily in 1978; and 500,000 barrels a day in 1979. Experts estimate that by 1985 Soviet production will drop from its present 11.7 million barrels a day to 10 million barrels – forcing the Soviets to begin importing oil. The resulting scramble for already tight oil resources will rattle Soviet control over its East European satellites (who now get most of their oil from Soviet wells) and increase the threat to Middle East countries.
• Soviet industrial production rose by only 3.5% in the first six months of 1979 against a target of 5.7%. This is the slowest growth since before World War II. Output of coal, steel, power and fertilizer fell. The 1980 growth target of 4.5% is still far below par even if it is reached.
• Inflation also grips the Soviet Union. The government raised official prices for the third time in three years last July adding to the already existing inflation in the unofficial but extensive black market. One Western economist pointed out, “If the military is to be kept strong – as we expect it will be – a slowing economy means military spending will have to be taken from the consumer or from investment. So the consumer gets the short end of the stick at a time when he is just beginning to get more.... And less investment will mean even slower overall growth and more problems.”[6]

The Soviet Offensive. The 1970s witnessed the continuation of a gradual shift of the military balance in the Soviets’ favor. The Soviets have long enjoyed a commanding lead in conventional military power and they now are superior in theater and strategic nuclear weaponry. The Soviets are also closing the gap in technology which formerly gave the Western powers a qualitative edge. In Europe, for instance, “While NATO has been modernizing its forces, the Warsaw Pact has been modernizing faster and expanding as well. In some areas (for example, SAM, certain armored vehicles, and artillery) Soviet weapons are now superior, while in other fields (such as tactical aircraft) the gap in equality is being closed.” (The Military Balance 1979/80, Institute for Strategic Studies, London.)

Perhaps more important than the static number counts is how the troops and weaponry of each superpower are actually being used. In this regard we can only contrast the new ability of the U.S.S.R. to project its military power into areas far removed from its borders with the ability of the U.S. to do the same. The Institute for Strategic Studies notes:

Soviet projection capabilities still cannot match the absolute capability of U.S. forces. Their significance lies in their improvement in recent years, in the use to which they have been put, and in the Soviet willingness to use them in the future. For example, the Soviet Union’s aircraft can lift only half what U.S. aircraft can move.... The Soviet amphibious fleet carries only one-third of the U.S. single-lift capacity. Soviet Naval Infantry (though, at 12,000 troops, well over twice as large as a decade ago) is less than a fifteenth the size of the U.S. Marine Corps... . Nevertheless, the Soviet Union’s projection capabilities have improved to the point where her forces can operate at long distance from the homeland and, if unopposed, can be dispatched in strength to remote theatres by both sea and air.” (1978 Strategic Survey)

So, although a number comparison seems to indicate U.S. superiority, the actual usage of these capabilities demonstrates a Soviet advantage. Further, Soviet equipment is being rapidly modernized. In the past few years they have created three new airborne divisions; introduced a new BMD armored vehicle which can be dropped by parachute; added two (and maybe three more by the mid-1980s) additional VTOL aircraft carriers; launched a new series of amphibious ships intended for long-distance operations which (at 13,000 tons) are twice as big as the class of ships it is replacing; and, they continue to construct roll-on/roll-off ships. Its merchant fleet now has more than 20 of this last type (more than the U.S.) which can deliver military vehicles without the need for sophisticated port facilities – perfect for deployment in the Third World.

During the 1970s, the Soviet Union used their newly acquired weaponry to mount a political and military offensive increasing in ferocity. The aim of this offensive is Western Europe, but the battleground is the Third World. In its search for bases, sources of raw materials, and strategic military alliances the Soviet Union has begun the third imperialist re-division of the world in this century.

While a full description of this re-division is beyond the scope of this pamphlet, a few facts might serve to illuminate some of its key parts.
• In 1970, the U.S. had over 500,000 troops deployed in South Vietnam alone. Today it has 100,000 deployed in the whole Western Pacific region on bases in Korea, Japan and the Philippines. Vietnam, by comparison – backed by massive Soviet military aid and a world-wide propaganda machine – has over 260,000 occupying troops in Laos and Kampuchea.
• In 1975, the Soviets saw an opportunity to capture the former Western colony of Angola by intervening in its liberation struggle. They airlifted over 20,000 Cuban troops into that country in a matter of months on the gamble that the U.S. – recently defeated and humiliated in Indochina – would not involve itself. By the end of 1976 they had successfully split the liberation movement and captured control of that country. The Cuban troops (as many as 36,000 at times) still remain in Angola today, along with 1500 East German advisors and an undetermined number of Soviet advisors at every level of the government. This in a country where MPLA troops number only 40,000.
• In 1977, the Soviets intervened to save their Ethiopian client state from collapse with a massive airlift that pumped over $1 billion in military hardware into that country in just 30 days. Within a few months more than 17,000 Cuban troops had been brought into the country to take over the fight against the insurgents in the Ogaden region. By 1978, the Cubans, with Soviet pilots providing the air cover, were leading armored columns of tanks and artillery against Eritrean national liberation fighters, setting back severely that 17-year struggle for freedom.
• In 1978, the Vietnamese, weeks after concluding a military treaty with the Soviets, launched their deadly invasion of Kampuchea. Again the U.S.S.R. had air and sea-lifted hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military equipment into the area to support a military takeover.
• By the end of 1979, the gloves were off. The Soviet Union felt confident enough of its military power to dispense with proxy troops and launch a direct invasion of another country – Afghanistan. As the U.S. State Department noted, this represented a new “threshhold” in Soviet aggression.

Two aspects of this offensive deserve our special attention. The first is that this blatant military campaign against the Third World is integrated with a diplomatic and political campaign. The Soviets now have formal “Friendship” treaties in force with India (signed in 1971), Iraq (1972), Angola (1976), Mozambique (1977), Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Vietnam (all in 1978). The aim of this campaign is to put the Soviet Union in the strategic position necessary to launch a world war. For example, Eritrea is important to the Soviets not just because the Eritreans threaten the Ethiopian Dergue, but because the Soviets want to secure possession of naval bases in Assab and Massawa. If they could add these facilities (where once the U.S. Navy anchored) to their extensive facilities in Aden and South Yemen (where once the British Navy patrolled the Gulf), they could control the southern entrance to the Red Sea, leading to the Suez Canal. This is one part of their effort to control the flow of strategic raw materials to Europe.

Oil is, of course, one of the raw materials, but there are many others. West Germany, for example, imports from Africa 100% of its tin and manganese, 99% of its titanium and 85% of its aluminum. Interrupting that trade would cripple crucial sectors of West Germany’s industrial production.

The second important aspect to note is the rapidity with which Soviet military power is continuing to develop. The enormous production effort that has enabled the Soviet Union to catch up to and surpass the U.S. militarily is not slowing down. Their armaments factories receive top priority as the U.S.S.R. continues to outspend the U.S. 2 to 1 or more in most categories of military equipment. Their highly centralized, state-monopoly economy is without equal in any other imperialist country, and it is therefore easier for the Soviet leadership to militarize the entire state apparatus.

This is not a situation that is easy to reverse. While President Carter’s recent State of the Union address triggered fears of “militarism” from some quarters, in fact, although “Politicians talk freely of adding this weapon or that to the national arsenal, with present military-industrial capability, seven to nine years may pass before a weapon system goes to the services. Also, it cannot be assumed that the Soviet Union will fail to maintain its advantage. ..”[7] A Business Week article of Feb. 4, 1980 points out,

While many of the prime defense contractors stand ready to mobilize their own facilities, the underlying industrial base has been allowed to deteriorate since the Vietnam war. Thus most of the industry’s subcontractors, who furnish materials, components, and subsystems for weapons, already have all of the work they can handle.

The seriousness of the situation is indicated by the lead times on key aerospace items. Among the longest are those for heavy forgings (the backbone of today’s airplanes), which can exceed two years. The wait for many castings is a year or more. Lead times for bearings and fasteners range from 30 weeks to more than three times that. Some types of machining jobs are being booked more than two years ahead….(“Why the U.S. Can’t Rearm Fast”)

The much discussed Rapid Deployment Force is one example of how wide a gap exists between U.S. military intentions and actual capabilities. Many people, including President Carter, are acting as if this force (which is intended to counter Soviet troops, but which also has the potential for use as an interventionist force in the Third World) is an accomplished fact. In reality, it will take at least five years and probably ten years to develop. Moreover, the R.D.F. has such serious logistical and political problems associated with it that it may never actually exist. The planes needed to transport the troops have not even been designed yet, nor have the special ships been ordered yet. The 1981 budget asks for $80 million to design the aircraft and $220 million for the first of 14 projected ships. These programs, if they continue, will not be ready before the end of the 1980s.

The $400 million aid package that Washington would like to send to Pakistan is another example. It seems likely that these helicopters, artillery pieces and anti-tank weapons will have to be stripped from U.S. forces, as was done to resupply Israel during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973.

When we go beyond rhetoric and attempt a materialist analysis of the military production capabilities of the two superpowers, we find a balance of power that will continue to shift in the Soviet Union’s favor for some years to come. This helps to create a highly unstable international environment in which national leaders, including those in the Second World, try to accommodate this new and rising military giant and in which the Soviet Union is increasingly confident of its growing capabilities and less hesitant to use them.

In summary, it is this actual offensive, increasing in intensity every month, that poses a very real and very serious threat of world war. If this offensive is not blunted, if it is not met with appropriate and vigorous measures – if for example lack of resistance to Soviet expansion leads the Soviet Union to judge the time ripe for an all-out offensive, or if the U.S., in disregard of the need to offer collective resistance to Soviet hegemonism, were to launch a counter-offensive by unilateral military intervention in the Third World – the result could very well be all-out global war.

2. Let me be clear about what you’re saying. Are you suggesting that we should give up the opportunity posed by inter-imperialist rivalry and possible war to struggle for the defeat of U.S. imperialism and instead should join up with U.S. imperialism against the Soviet Union?

Revolutionary defeatism, turning imperialist war into civil war, was correctly adopted during World War I. Those in the Second International who called for “defense of the Fatherland” were denounced as opportunists and social chauvinists, and their policy was discredited within the communist movement. Workers in all imperialist countries were urged to turn their guns on their “own” bourgeoisie, because they had no interest in furthering the imperialist interests of their countries. The correct application of this tactic led, among other things, to the success of the Russian Revolution and provided the communist movement with invaluable lessons.

But mechanically applying tactics of a previous situation to the one at hand is dogmatism and has nothing in common with Leninism or with Lenin’s actual approach to the development of even this particular tactic. The correct tactics of a previous period become incorrect tactics when applied to conditions different from those to which they correspond. Lenin himself had to argue against the German social chauvinists that Russia was no longer the principal enemy of the European revolutionary movement, as it had been for Marx and Engels, because of the 1905 revolution and the rise of imperialism. “To identify, even to compare the international situations of 1891 (when Engels called for German defense of the fatherland against Tsarist Russia) and 1914 is the height of unhistoricalness.” (Letter to Inessa Armand, Jan. 19, 1917, Lenin’s Collected Works [hereafter LCW], XXXV, 274.)

3. But in the era of imperialism the correct Leninist tactic is one of revolutionary defeatism. Why do you deny this?

There is no such thing as a “Leninist tactic,” only a Leninist tactical flexibility, based on a concrete analysis of concrete conditions and the tactical principles of Marxism-Leninism. The communist movement has confronted two world wars and developed two entirely different tactics – each one corresponding to its concrete situation.

The Comintern in the 1930s responded to the “accusation” that it was “changing its tactics” as follows:

What astonishing news! The tactics of a political party are not the spectacles of a musty keeper of archives who never takes them off, even when he goes to bed. Tactics, which are the sum total of the methods and means of struggle of a political party, are precisely intended to be changed if the changed circumstances require it. (B. Z. Manuilsky, “The Work of the 7th Congress,” Serve the People Press reprint, p. 44.)

To the accusation that “Leninism” was being betrayed, they pointed out that it was precisely Lenin who “persistently warned us against ’stereotyped methods and mechanical leveling, against rendering tactical rules, rules of struggle, identical.’”[8] And they went on to warn against the “mental laziness” of refusing “to approach the phenomena of real life concretely” and substituting “general, noncommittal formulas for a careful and concrete study.”[9]

As for “efforts to find historical analogies and parallels with the past,” they pointed out that though these “are very valuable,” they will be “of little use if we fail to grasp the vital thing in the specific features of the present world situation.... No matter how zealously we search the pages of textbooks on history, we shall not find in them a situation analogous to the present, in which revolution, war and fascism have become so interwoven in the development of mankind. Consequently, we must not base our tactics on analogies, but on a concrete analysis of the relation of class forces at the given moment.[10]

The analogy with 1914-18 ignored the very “specific features” of the current situation which made it unique:

... the world at that time was divided into two military imperialist coalitions which were equally striving to establish their world hegemony, and which had equally prepared and provoked the imperialist war. At that time there were neither countries where the proleteriat had conquered nor countries with a fascist dictatorship.

But now the situation is different. Now we have: (1) a proletarian state which is the greatest bulwark of peace; (2) definite fascist aggressors; (3) a number of countries which are in direct danger of attack by fascist aggressors and in danger of losing their state and national independence; (4) other capitalist governments which are interested at the present time in the maintenance of peace.. ..[11]

The 1935 Seventh Comintern Congress also took account of the balance of class forces at the time and concluded that given the strength of Social Democracy and the reformist trade unions, the relative weakness of the communists and the disunity of the working class in general, conditions had not yet matured ”for the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship in modern capitalist countries.”[12] Proletarian revolution could be achieved (in general) by way of “united front governments” formed in the struggle against fascism. But the immediate question was not proletarian revolution but what Communists would do “today, with the present relation of force, in order to withstand the onslaught of capital, to save [the working class] and its people from fascism.. . and the whole of mankind from war?”[13]

The Seventh Congress answered the question by singling out fascism as the “principal enemy,” pointing out that “one of the fundamental qualities of Bolshevism, one of the fundamental features of our revolutionary strategy, is the ability to determine at each given moment who is the principal enemy and to be able to concentrate all our forces for a struggle against that enemy.” (Ercoli – Togliatti – “On the Danger of Imperialist War and the Tasks of Communists,” Serve the People Reprints: 17)

Against the main enemy all secondary enemies were to be enlisted, not only the petty bourgeoisie but the national bourgeoisie and even rival comprador bourgeoisies, not just oppressed nations but even imperialist countries. A front of democratic countries was called for – and a world-wide united front against fascism.

Much can be learned from a study of the pre-World War II period, not least of which is this break with the stereotyped application of the “Leninist tactic” of revolutionary defeatism.

4. Are you arguing that we should be making an analogy with the pre-World War II period rather than the pre-World War I period?

Yes. Analogies can be helpful, not for superimposing past conditions and tactics on the present, but for developing our own concrete analysis. They can help us to see the similarities and distinctions in our own situation. Analogies are not, however, recipes and cannot substitute for analyses of a situation.

Some comrades who have emerged from the dogmatism of the “revolutionary defeatism” position are proceeding as if our current tactics can be decided simply by a prior determination of what the character of a future war will be–inter-imperialist or fascist? World War I or World War II? First they imagine the war and then they read backwards, developing their tactics on the basis of their conception of the future war. With this approach it is hard to reach a conclusion on the question of postponing war.

It may be a better way of proceeding than to suppose there is only one predetermined Leninist tactic – it widens the “choice” of tactics to one of two! But the task of developing a tactical line cannot be reduced to choosing between two scenarios. Our tactics must be based on a concrete analysis of the concrete situation.

What is our concrete situation today? It is not, to begin with, a war situation, but a prewar situation, however rapidly it may be developing into war. The question is not yet “What are our interests in this war? Should we fight and, if so, with whom?” It is rather “What are the forces leading to war, and what is our role with respect to this motion towards war? How do we act to postpone it? In what way do we prepare for war?”

An analysis of the international situation highlights some basic distinctive elements in the current world situation:
• The rise of the Third World and within it socialist China
• The unequal and antagonistic development of the American and Soviet empires
• The existence of an intermediate zone (the Second World)
• A revolutionary movement centered in the Third World
• The disunity of the proletarian movement in the advanced countries and the disunity of the world communist movement
• The development of a world-wide social-fascist movement emanating from the Soviet Union.

As these elements or contradictions interact in the concrete and as we sum up this interaction, it becomes clear that the world of today is characterized by a strong and urgent danger of war stemming from the hegemonist surge of the U.S.S.R., a superpower which by no means constitutes “the same danger, to the same degree, and to the same extent” (Hoxha, Report to the 7th Congress of the Party of Labor of Albania, 1977) as the U.S., but rather poses a considerably greater danger to the Third World, to national independence, to the world proletariat, to socialist China and to the world communist movement. In this characterization of the world of today there are many similarities but also significant differences with the world of the 1930s.

5. The comparison of the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany seems strained. Whatever you may wish to call the dominant political trend in the Soviet Union, it seems very different from German fascism in its ideology, political tendencies and social base.

What is fascism? This was discussed and struggled over at length in the Comintern in the 1920s. Some people looked at the particularities of fascism in Italy and Germany and concluded that fascism was characterized by a petty-bourgeois and peasant social base, mass parties and “movements,” overt racist ideology, etc., and that it had to be understood as arising out of local and, particularly, European conditions.

Mao Zedong and the C.C.P., following in the tradition of Dimitrov, Stalin, and the Comintern, rejected this approach and concentrated on the political meaning of fascism, distinguishing its appearance from its essence. They understood fascism to be a particular form of bourgeois dictatorship, serving particular class interests.[14]

When Mao Zedong characterized the Soviet Union as a “fascist dictatorship of the Hitler type,” he was surely not pointing to its social base which is very different from Hitler’s fascism, nor to the specific aspects of its ideology and organization. Dimitrov pointed out long ago that fascism takes on different local forms in accordance with local conditions and traditions. The American fascism of John Birchers, the K.K.K. and the South Boston Marshall is different from German and Italian fascism, and for that matter from Chilean and Ethiopian. It comes draped in American chauvinism and racism, with specifically American slogans and themes. The same is true of Soviet social-fascism.

Because of the concrete conditions in the U.S.S.R., where capitalism has been restored after 40 years of socialist rule, the collectivist or “socialist” aspect of its fascism is very pronounced. Because of the relatively high level of development of the class struggles in their countries, Hitler’s and Mussolini’s fascism also had this “socialist” feature, although to a lesser degree. Hitler’s National Socialism had a strong “socialist” left wing which was only eliminated in 1934, and Mussolini came out of the Italian socialist party. This “socialist” element in fascism was important in splitting the working class and peasant movements in those countries and in winning a social base for the fascists. In the Soviet Union, where the prestige of socialism is very strong, it is inconceivable that any political line could triumph that wasn’t at least socialist in name.

The Soviet Union does have many features in common with Hitler’s Germany. Its economy is similarly organized in state trusts; there is a complete absence of democratic rights; it has myriad “psychiatric hospitals” and concentration camps known as “labor reform camps”; its “trade unions” are under firm government control; its police and spy system bears strong resemblance to the Gestapo and the SS; its economy is equally if not more highly militarized than the Nazis’, as is its society in general; there is widespread persecution of Jews and other oppressed nationalities; Great Russian and Slav chauvinism is promoted, and while not occupying the central role Hitler’s German and Aryan chauvinism did, it is nonetheless an integral part of Soviet fascism.

However, in characterizing the Soviet variety as a “Hitler-type” fascism, what Mao was calling attention to particularly was its aggressive expansionist nature. Soviet fascism, like Hitler’s, is not a local or regional fascism – like that of Austria, Italy, or even Japan’s in the ’30s, or Chilean or even Vietnamese fascism today. It is a world-wide movement, a global fascism. It seeks to bring about fascism not just in one or several countries but on a global basis – to set up a “socialist” version of the 1000 Year Reich under the sign-board of “International Proletarian Revolution.”

6. Could you be more specific on this last point? What do you mean by world-wide fascism?

Hitler’s Germany began to expand in 1936 with the occupation of the Rhineland, after failing to take power through a coup in Austria. This was followed by Hitler’s support for Franco’s rebellion in Spain in 1936, the invasion and annexation of Austria in March 1938, and the instigation of pro-Nazi “revolutionary national liberation” movements in French and British colonies in Africa and in the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, then the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland which ushered in World War II, the conquest of France and the creation of the fascist Vichy regime. Hitler used a combination of methods to convert his movement into a world-wide one: the famous “Fifth Columns” of Nazi sympathizers abroad, alliances with other fascist powers like Japan and Italy, assassinations, coups, military pressure and outright invasion.

The Soviet Union is following a similar course, utilizing similar methods. It is the center of a world-wide fascist movement which radiates out from Moscow. The Soviet Union is a late-comer to imperialist contention, but it is a superpower in this contention, and its aim in the fascist movement is the domination of the world. It is the spearhead of this movement, its financier, its arms-supplier, its public relations firm and its political guarantor.

Especially since the mid-’70s, the Soviet Union has gone into exporting its brand of fascist regimes in quantity. They have developed client states by engineering assassinations and coups in Afghanistan and Yemen, by supporting the fascist juntas in Ethiopia and Peru and a fascist takeover in India, by bribing and subverting revolutionary national liberation movements in Angola, Vietnam and Cuba, by direct invasion in Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, or through intermediaries as in Eritrea and Kampuchea. Pro-Soviet factions in the military, government apparatus and political parties act as “Fifth Columns” to usher in these takeovers, and the enormous Soviet propaganda apparatus is marshalled to shape public opinion Goebells-style, extolling the virtues of “Ethiopian socialism” and portraying “progressive” military regimes as outposts of revolution threatened by the machinations of the “U.S.-China axis.”

The fascist regimes set up in this fashion have the same general characteristics. They become economic, political and military colonies and bases of the Soviet Union. They suppress democratic rights and ruthlessly eliminate political opposition, independent mass organizations, and revolutionary communists – never failing to justify their measures as necessary to preserve “socialism.” Such “socialism” has the effect of discrediting the real socialists and creating anti-communist sentiments in the broad democratic masses.

This fascist drive for world hegemony represents the gravest danger conceivable to the peoples of the world. Wherever social fascism’s tentacles spread, democracy and national independence are suffocated and crushed. Social fascism subverts and suppresses national liberation movements, and seeks to disunite and divide the Third World. Its menace to the world proletarian movement and communism cannot be overestimated. Through its ideological and political agent, modern revisionism, it has succeeded in dividing the proletarian movement in the advanced and many Third World countries. It seeks to destroy the world proletariat’s revolutionary base area – socialist China, now surrounded on three sides.

Should the Soviet fascists succeed in their objectives, the international proletariat’s struggle for emancipation will be set back for decades. Bereft of the revolutionary support of socialist China, operating without democratic rights to assembly and press, without mass popular organizations, in countries where “socialism” and “communism” are used to suppress the people and turn them into colonial slaves, world communism would be struggling under the most difficult conditions imaginable. To minimize this danger and to fail to mobilize all those who can be united against it, jeopardizes all the gains of our movement since its inception and endangers its future.

7. You speak of Nazi-style “Fifth Columns,” but Hitler’s agents and sympathizers were reactionaries whereas the C.P.U.S.A. and other pro-Soviet supporters are progressive.

In the first place we should realize that the Soviets, like Hitler, have agents and supporters of various ideological hues. In France, Hitler was backed not only by the neo-royalist right but also by “evolutionists” inside the French socialist party. The Vichy regime had well known socialists as well as monarchists and generals in its cabinet. The same situation prevails today. Pro-Soviet forces number among them Mrs. Gandhi and the ex-Nazi faction of the Argentine military. Indeed in Argentina the Soviets chose to rely on the militarists as against their sympathizers among the guerrillas (many of whom they betrayed).

At the same time, it is true that in the main Soviet supporters have progressive and even revolutionary credentials. While often these credentials have rapidly lost their validity, as is the case of the “socialist” Dergue in Ethiopia and the “progressive” Taraki-Amin regime in Afghanistan, nevertheless the progressive and socialist aspects of these forces remain a source of confusion and merit serious attention.

In the first place, it is necessary to characterize these “progressive-socialist” aspects correctly. Dialectical materialism distinguishes between the form and the essence of a thing. Are these forces progressive in their essence or merely in their form?

Third World countries struggling with U.S. imperialism, and the U.S. working class and national minorities facing the same U.S. monopoly capitalist class have, over a long period of time, become accustomed to assessing the “progressive” or “reactionary” nature of political forces primarily, if not exclusively, in terms of their stand vis-a-vis U.S. imperialism. Thus pro-Soviet forces, who are opposed to U.S., but not to Soviet, imperialism, “naturally” acauire the label of “progressive”.

Because of the way political forces are aligned in this country and in many parts of the U.S. empire, a semi-spontaneous liberal-revisionist-progressive-revolutionary bloc tends to form around concrete struggles against U.S. imperialism. We are in a strike or a caucus or a democratic struggle. Who are our allies? In general, and with varying degrees of instability and vacillation, they are the liberals and the revisionists, the “progressives.” If we allow appearances and immediate “concrete” experience to dictate, these would seem to be our natural allies, our real allies. Some of the honest forces grouped around the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee (P.W.O.C.), the Guardian, and the “anti-dogmatists” reasoned in this way. In the name of “concrete practice” and the primacy of “internal contradictions” they projected this alliance to Angola, to Vietnam, etc., and in the process saw the Soviets as our allies too; (This was in fact a real alliance during the last period, in the Vietnam war) but the method of analysis is incorrect, and leads, in this new period to an incorrect assessment of the nature of political forces.

What unfolds around what? Does world politics unfold around our factory or community or is it the other way around? From Marx and Engels’ differentiation of European political forces in the latter half of the 19th century,[15] through Lenin’s and Stalin’s concept of the “imperialist chain,”[16] and Dimitrov’s and the Seventh Congress of the C.I.’s united front against war and fascism, to Mao Zedong’s “Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement,” Marxism-Leninism has proceeded “from the actual world situation taken as a whole and from a class analysis of the fundamental contradictions in the contemporary world.”[17]

Today such an analysis shows that the hegemonist drive of the Soviet fascist monopoly bourgeoisie is decisively determining and influencing world politics – just as the Nazi drive for hegemony did in the period beginning in 1933. Under present conditions, under the menace of war and fascism, the political essence of these “progressive and socialist” forces is their role as agents and apologists for Soviet social imperialism. In the last analysis, the significance of the “progressive” and “socialist” and “anti-’left’” P.W.O.C. tendency was not their strengthening of the “anti-sectarian” forces in the party-building movement, nor their willingness to participate in reform struggles, but rather their role in splitting the Marxist-Leninist movement and spreading confusion about the international role of the Soviet Union. The C.P.U.S.A.’s main aspect is not its participation in trade union and community struggles (by no means consistently progressive in the best of cases) but that of being Soviet social imperialism’s main political and ideological arm in the American mass movement.

Much of the same could be said of the Cuban CP., the Ethiopian Dergue, and the United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea (Heng Samrin). The case of the M.P.L.A. is more complex. The M.P.L.A. bears certain similarities to the K.M.T. In each case the class character (which signifies more than the class composition) of a movement must be analyzed along with other concrete aspects.

However, just as it would be incorrect to characterize every national liberation movement which accepts American aid as a “puppet of the CIA” (e.g., UNITA), it would be equally wrong to characterize all the movements or countries which have accepted Soviet aid as “social fascist.” Such decisions (to accept Soviet or American aid) may be due to correct or incorrect policies and not to any inherent comprador or fascist character of the movement itself. At some point, as in the case of Cuba and Vietnam, quantity changes to quality – aid becomes dependence and colonization.

Incorrect policies of alliance may temporarily align a national movement with Soviet social imperialism, but these policies can be reversed. We are seeing signs of this in Iraq and perhaps even Syria and Libya. Our analysis and support for a given movement must take into account all the factors. We should not, for instance, write off the Nicaraguan revolution because of what may be a temporary, though extremely dangerous, alliance with Cuba, an alliance based on an incorrect analysis of the world situation. However, the failure to grasp the principal contradiction in the world can change an independence movement into its opposite, converting it into an ally and instrument of world reaction. We must exercise great care before putting a “hat” on these movements.

In our own political struggle we must analyze our political forces concretely, and we must also be sure to identify and grasp the principal factor, before dealing with secondary considerations. This demands that we be crystal clear about the political role of modern revisionism, whether it comes in right, “left” or “anti-’left’” forms. If we confuse the progressive, socialist form of modern revisionism with its absolutely reactionary essence, we shall be lost. If we think the progressive form of the CP.U.S.A. is its essence, we may end up serving world fascist reaction. One road to this position is economism. If we regard the economic struggles of the masses (in which the revisionists may be our vacillating allies) as the true path to socialist revolution, we shall eventually fall into the centrist position of the P.W.O.C., serving Soviet socialist imperialism.

If we disregard some of the particularities mentioned earlier, the present period in world history can be regarded as a heightened version of the latter 1930’s. Many people emphasize the apparent differences between the two periods. The U.S.S.R. has a socialist cover; its agents are generally progressive; it appears to support revolutionary struggles, and so forth. They don’t understand that these differences in form only underscore the unity of the two essences. As we have mentioned, the German, Italian and French fascists also had a socialist cover. Indeed “socialism” has been used as a cover for capitalism since well before Marx, who analyzed “petty-bourgeois Utopian socialism”, “bourgeois socialism”, “True German socialism” etc. in the Manifesto. The Soviets’ socialism is an up-to-date, “scientific,” “Marxist-Leninist” “socialism.” But this makes it more dangerous than Hitler’s. It has greater mass appeal and a greater power of deception. It divides and neutralizes the real progressive movement in a way that Nazism never could.

The present fascists’ “socialist” cover makes them more dangerous. The socialist form is in complete contradiction to the fascist essence, but it is made to serve fascism. And, of course, what is important is not the form but the essence. Fascism is strong and more dangerous for its socialist form, not milder or more progressive. This is part of what makes the situation, similar in its essence to the 1930’s, more dangerous.

8. Another analogy which Chinese draw frequently is with the appeasement policy of England, France and the U.S.A. Is the West pursuing an appeasement policy like that of the 1930’s?

The Chinese are not alone in this regard. In the European press the analogy is drawn regularly; several Third World leaders have used it, and over the past year or so it has begun to appear in the American press.[18] It is becoming commonplace because the parallels are so striking.

The policy pursued by the appeasers in the 1930’s was one of seeking to buy off Germany with loans, investments, and trade and territorial concessions. Germany used these very cleverly to rearm and to acquire the beginnings of an empire from which to launch her drive to world conquest.

The willingness to appease Hitler with credit, investment and trade was intensified by the economic problems caused by the depression. The crisis of overproduction left the Western capitalist countries with a surplus both of the commodities and of capital. They were only too happy to encounter new markets in Germany – to supply her with the commodities needed to re-equip her military machine and the credits with which to buy them. American, British and French investments enabled Hitler to put all of German industry on a war-footing, outstripping all other countries. By the time Hitler was ready for world war he had acquired an arsenal which included French-made tanks, submarines of British origin and airplanes with American engines. The German army arrived in Prague in September 1939 in General Motors and Ford trucks, cars and motorcycles. Henry Ford himself was a great friend of the fascists, financing their publications and their U.S. based organizations. The Rockefeller family was in partnership with the I.G. Farben chemical monopoly, an important component of the Nazi military-industrial complex.

A latent motive of many of the appeasers was anti-Bolshevism. The economic crisis which increased the revolutionary militance of their own working classes, and the example of the Soviet Union, which was free from economic crises and achieving miracles of industrialization, made the prospect of diverting Hitler’s storm toward the East an inviting one to many bourgeoisie reactionaries.

Some, though not all, of the names have changed – but things are strikingly similar today. Western economic appeasement of the Soviet fascists is every bit as helpful to Soviet war preparations as it was to the Nazis’. According to the Bank of International Settlement, between 1970 and 1976 Soviet debt to the West increased 17 times to over $26 billion. These massive low interest loans were used to finance a substantial increase in U.S. exports to the U.S.S.R., which rose from an annual rate of $41 million in 1967 to $1 and a quarter billion by 1977. Three-quarters of these exports from the U.S. have been grain sales. These have been used to overcome chronic Soviet food shortages, caused in part by the Soviets’ diversion of economic resources to military production, and have enabled Russia to store grain for military contingency purposes (such as nuclear war). Last October the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the raising of the ceiling on grain sales to the U.S.S.R. from 15 to 25 million metric tons for the year 1979-80, 10 million tons above 1978-9 sales and 25% over the notorious 1972-3 grain purchases which raised American food prices dramatically, and which the Soviets resold at large profits to their Eastern European satellites.

Grain sales are perhaps the most visible example of Western collusion with the Soviets, but they are far from the most important militarily. Since the early 1970s the Soviet Union has used its low-interest loans from the West and its profits from investment and trade in Eastern European and Third World countries to buy nearly $20 billion worth of highly sophisticated equipment and technology from the West. Much of this technology has direct military applications and has enabled the Soviets to eliminate the “technology gap” in most military areas.

Revelations of Soviet military exploitation of “civilian trade” are beginning to proliferate in the Western press. In December Newsweek carried a story reporting administration concern that a computer purchased from Sperry Corporation was being used in connection with the Backfire bomber. There has been even greater concern about the Array Transformer Processors (ATPs) sold by Geospace Corporation. These computers give the Soviets the capability to analyze underwater signals and enhance their anti-submarine capacity, hence their ability to find and destroy and U.S. Trident I submarine, an essential component of the American “triad” nuclear retaliatory strategy. As a result, the U.S. has been forced to approve the development of a Trident II.

Another example of how economic appeasement actually stimulates the arms race and increases the U.S. military budget and the burden on the taxpayer has been detailed in William DeCosta’s comprehensive article in the October 15, 1979 issue of The Call. In that article, DeCosta describes the process which led to the approval of the MX missile system. It began with the sale of 164 precision ball bearing grinding machines to the Soviet Union in November of 1972. The U.S.S.R. had been “waiting 12 years to acquire these machines” according to the Soviet Minister of Machine Tool Industries, A. I. Kostosov. And with good reason. This technology is basic to the development of the guidance systems for MIRV missiles and killer satellites. As a result, the Soviets were able to develop the SS-19 with its capacity to deliver warheads to within 150 meters of U.S. land-based intercontinental missile silos, as well as the SS-20 which has revolutionized the European theatre and forced NATO to approve the installation of the Pershing II and cruise missiles. With these developments, the U.S. ICBM’s have become vulnerable to a Soviet “counterforce” first-strike. The U.S. response is the MX missile system, which will cost the taxpayer at least $25 billion.

There are other examples of U.S. economic complicity in the Soviet military build-up that have been covered up by the Carter Administration. DeCosta relates two incidents that suggest that the U.S. government may be involved in a conspiracy to suppress the truth about the military implication of several recent sales to the Soviet Union. One of these involves Defense Department spokeswoman Ruth Davis, who, at a Congressional hearing, offered to turn over a Department-compiled list of examples of how “civilian” trade had been diverted to military purposes by the Soviets. Two weeks later, the Department of Defense reversed itself, claiming that no such list existed and that there were no examples of such diversion. This led Representative Frank Ichord of the House Armed Services Committee to charge that the list is being suppressed by the Carter Administration. DeCosta points out that “the Defense Department’s reversal came the same week that President Carter and Secretary of Defense Brown left to sign the Salt II treaty....” DeCosta’s implication that the Administration had been covering-up information which would damage the chances of passing the SALT treaty was later reinforced by the November 1979 dismissal of Harry H. Almond, Jr., a senior career attorney in the Department of Defense. Almond was fired for supplying unclassified information on the SALT treaty to Lt. General Rowney, the ex-SALT negotiator who testified against SALT II. Alfred P. Rubin, Professor of International Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, wrote a letter on December 7th to the New York Times calling this “an effort to apply adversary and partisan tactics to a national discussion in which the whole national interest would be evaluated by all concerned in the light of the best information available.”

A second incident related by DeCosta suggests the broad character of “SALTwatergate” and the depth of the appeasement trend in the U.S. ruling class. Lawrence J. Brady, acting director of the Office of Export Administration, was fired after testifying that the export control system was in “shambles” and that U.S. technology was being employed militarily at the Kama River Truck plant. The Ford Kama River Truck complex, the largest truck factory in the world today, was a “joint venture” of 130 U.S. companies, according to Russian figures. These companies include some of the main supporters and beneficiaries of economic appeasement. The complex was financed in part by the Chase Manhattan Bank and the U.S. government Ex-Im Bank; Ford produced the truck components, Ingersoll-Rand the furnaces, Pullman the foundry, and IBM sold it what the Wall Street Journal called “the world’s largest industrial computer.[19] Companies selling to the U.S.S.R. have joined with important Soviet economic officials to form a powerful Washington lobby group called “The U.S.-U.S.S.R. Trade and Economic Council.” T.E.C.’s Board members include David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan, Frank Carr, head of IBM, Irving Shapiro of Du Pont and Armand Hammer of Occidental Petroleum. One featured speaker and lobbyist for the T.E.C. is Averill Harriman, ex-ambassador to Moscow and part owner, through his Brown Brothers Harriman investment house, of the El Paso Company, which signed, along with Occidental Petroleum, a 20-year $20 billion deal with the Soviets. Current and former directors and employees of the major U.S. companies doing business with the Soviet Union are strategically placed in the Carter Administration. Secretary of State Vance is a former director of IBM, as is Harold Brown, Secretary of Defense. IBM founder and ex-President Thomas Watson is the new (“soft-line”) ambassador to Moscow. Theodore Hessburg, founder of “Americans for SALT”, is a director of the Chase Manhattan Bank, Henry Kissinger, architect of “detente” and designer of SALT I, is a long-time Chase Manhattan consultant and employee; and David Rockefeller, director of T.E.C. and the Trilateral Commission, is Chairman of the Board. Clark Clifford and Irving Shapiro, both founders of “Americans for SALT”, are long time associates of the Du Pont Corporation.[20]

Appeasement Incorporated is multinational with “branch offices” in Europe as well. The death of U.S. financier David Karr revealed a complex network of U.S., French, Swiss and Japanese pro-Soviet financial interests grouped around Financial Engineers, a Swiss holding company, and Lazard Freres et Compagnie, a Parisian investment bank. Their operations involve the financing of deals with over 20 Soviet companies and state agencies on behalf of firms like Mitsubishi, Kobe Steel, Peugeot-Citroen and Blue Bell (Wrangler Jeans). Karr, formerly a journalist for The Daily Worker and The Washington Post, helped arrange a lucrative Olympic coin merchandising deal for Sargent Shriver and Theodore Sorenson, long-time associates of the Kennedy clan. Karr himself played an important role in Kennedy’s 1978 trip to Moscow in which the release of several dissidents was arranged. According to the Times, “a staff spokesman for Senator Kennedy declined comment on the ’sensitive’ negotiations.”[21] This provides some insight into the emergence of Kennedy as the leading pro-appeasement candidate in the 1980 Presidential race and his representation of current U.S.-Soviet relations as Cold War II.

Thus there exists a powerful appeasement faction in the American bourgeoisie, which is supported by some of the biggest (and even some World War II era) names in American finance capitalism and which promotes economic policies which permit the U.S.S.R. to build up its military might. This is not all there is to the “appeasement analogy.” Economic appeasement has been accompanied, as it was four decades ago, by territorial appeasement.

In the 1930s the Japanese were permitted to occupy Manchuria and the Italians Ethiopia without a troop being mobilized in the West. Hitler scattered the Versailles Treaty to the four winds by rearming Germany and denounced the Locarno Treaty by occupying the Rhineland, while the governments of England and France looked the other way. Hitler and Mussolini armed Franco’s rebellion against the Spanish Republic, and Britain and France called for an “even-handed” policy of “non-intervention”, ratifying the fascist takeover. When Hitler organized and financed pro-Nazi parties in Africa (e.g., the German Bund in Southwest Africa) and Latin America, Great Britain responded with a “colonial settlement”, offering to give back former German colonies or to replace them with new ones. The annexation of Austria, the dismembering and occupation of Czechoslovakia, the Italian invasion of Albania and Japan’s invasion of North and Central China were met with nothing beyond League of Nations resolutions. Chamberlain, Daladier and the like felt that by appeasing the fascists with these concessions of territory, they would sate their hunger. With characteristic imperialist disdain for the independence of small and weak nations, they offered them to the fascists like bones to chew on for a while. When it became clear that the fascists’ territorial hunger would not be satiated, they sought to embroil them in long debilitating wars with China and the Soviet Union and then step in to dictate the peace to their depleted contenders for empire.

For many years Hitler was able to deceive Western leaders and gain the strategic initiative by employing a carefully laid tactical plan. Hitler knew that Germany had to be rearmed before the ultimate test of strength was undertaken. To achieve this, both the German people – who did not desire a world war – and the world had to be reassured of Germany’s peaceful intentions. For this Hitler utilized the technique of the “Schlummerleid”. This consisted of lulling the West into a false sense of security with earnest promises, pledges and pacts. Then with a lightning strike he would carry out his limited objective in a bold and carefully prepared stroke. Before the Western powers had fully realized what had happened, he had resumed his lullaby and was offering a new “peace initiative”. Western leaders, especially Chamberlain and Daladier were content to remain asleep. Paralyzed by economic crisis and terrified at the thought of a new and more devastating world war, the imperialist democracies allowed their military appropriations to decline even as Hitler rearmed. Each was only too glad to accept on faith Hitler’s promises and to enter individually into pacts with him. Each treaty and conference revived the illusion that, in Chamberlain fateful words after Munich, “peace in our time” had at long last been secured. In fact these agreements only confirmed rising Nazi military strength and served to play England, France, the U.S.A., Czechoslovakia and Poland off against one another and to sap the unity and will to resist the fascists.

As Germany quietly constructed the world’s finest military force, Hitler held out to the West not only the olive branch (in endless “peace talks” at Geneva), but also the promise of a “Holy War against Communism”. It was the Soviet Reds and the Jews who were conspiring to conquer the world, not Hitler and Mussolini. Railing against the “Bolshevik Menace”, he sought to convince the Western bourgeoisies that he would attack Russia before them. This was Hitler’s famous “feint to the East”. Even the invasion of Poland which ushered in the Second World War was made to appear as the last preparatory step for an attack on the U.S.S.R., but of course it was France that was overrun and England that was bombarded well before the invasion of Russia.

For the past several years we have been witnessing a strikingly similar process. The West has signed multiple treaties and engaged in a multitude of peace conferences with the Soviet Union, but behind the facade of “detente” and “peaceful coexistence” and “the SALT process”, the Soviet Union has quietly built the greatest military force the world has ever known. It has engaged in a series of lightning military operations, involving enormous airlifts and blitzkriegs to seize Angola, Ethiopia, Kampuchea, and Afghanistan. Up until this moment (December 31, 1979), the West has responded with nothing but U.N. resolutions and “strong messages”. The extent of Western willingness to acquiesce in Soviet expansion became clear in 1977 with the leaking of Carter’s Presidential Memorandum 10. This envisaged the abandonment of one-third or more of West Germany should the Soviet Union attack.

The Soviet Union has, however, expressed its actual intentions to the West, indirectly. Soviet military journals speak openly about the virtues of an offensive military machine, about the need for Soviet vessels patrolling all the world’s oceans, and about the “winnability” of a nuclear war. On March 31, 1979, the New Republic published an article by an American living in Russia, writing under the pseudonym of Robert Herr. Herr had gone to Russia with the view of appeasers like Paul Warnke, the U.S.’s SALT negotiator, “that the Soviet Union was ruled by responsible, conservative office holders who would not risk their privileges with an expansionist foreign policy.” After interviews with dozens of Russians, Herr’s views changed radically. All of those interviewed predicted an imminent war with the United States in which “Soviet military power will crush the now flabby American military.” As Herr sees it, “the mood in Russia is clearly one of war.” “The Russians perceive a weakness in America.” A Soviet political information officer told him that he was certain that within a decade his country would be at war with either the United States or China. “We should go to war sooner rather than later,” he said, “for if we wait another 10 years China may acquire the technology to beat Russia.”

American appeasers have shown themselves quite eager to accept the Soviet version of the “feint to the East.” American Soviet “analysts” never think to probe the reality behind the Soviets astonishing claim that China is engaging in a “policy of encirclement” of the Soviet Union. As China’s modernization advances, we can expect Soviet “alarm” and some Westerners credulity to increase proportionately. Already the notorious “doctrine” associated with Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Kissinger’s assistant in the Ford Administration, conjures up the vision of China becoming a “third superpower in 10 years or so” and of “affecting the usage” of Soviet power, i.e., diverting it toward the East.

Hitler understood that to lull the West into acquiescing in Germany’s military build-up, his tactics had to include ideological warfare as well. Hitler and Goebells developed the technique of “the big lie”.

Since the great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposefully evil, and that, therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big. Such a falsehood will never enter their heads and they will not be able to believe in the possibility of such monstrous effrontery and infamous misrepresentation in others; yes, even when enlightened on the subject, they will long doubt and waver, and continue to accept at least one of these causes as true. Therefore, something of even the most insolent lie will always remain and stick – a fact which all great lie-virtuosi and lying clubs in this world know only too well and also make the most treacherous use of. [22]

Thus the “Bolshevik-Jewish conspiracy” became a handy explanation for everything from the Reichstag fire (set by the Nazis themselves) to Czech national resistance. Hitler masqueraded as a distraught “fuerher” in quest of peace. Those in the West, like Churchill and Reynaud, who pointed to the atrocities of Nazi Germany and sought to oppose fascist expansion, were labelled “war mongers”.

To propagate this world-view in the West, Hitler used different types of ideological agents. Among these were not only direct agents from the various fascist organizations in the Western countries, but also indirect agents of different political persuasions. Among these were members of the Social Democratic parties as well as anarchist and pacifist-liberal groups. In France, the Second International Socialist Party, in the words of its leader, “split into two factions” around the question of appeasement.[23] One of these factions, overwhelmingly pacifist in its orientation, attacked the Franco-Soviet pact as a betrayal of the French working class and anti-imperialism. The only solution was to negotiate with Hitler who “also needed peace”. Credulity about Hitler’s intentions was combined with slandering of the Soviet Union whose alliance with France had “proven the Trotskyists right in claiming that Russia had become an imperialist bureaucracy.”[24]

Many of the same ideological elements are present today. Those who oppose the Soviet Union are reviled as “war mongers”. Soviet propaganda satanizes the United States and the C.I.A. as behind every mark of resistance to its rule that hasn’t been fomented by “agents of maoism”. Ideological agents of the Soviet Union abound in the West, offering excuses for the hegemonists. The Russians are “paranoid” because of the suffering of two World Wars; they fear Chinese “encirclement”; they are only trying to avoid difficulties with their Moslem population; they are simply exercising the prerogatives of a newly emerging “Great Power” and only wish to gain “parity” with the U.S. On the left, modern revisionists compete with old line liberals and social democrats, Trotskyites and Hoxha-ites in dreaming up apologies for Soviet aggression which range from the defense of “progressive” regimes (like the Ethiopian Dergue), to dealing out “justice” against “butchers” (like Pol Pot), to the need to combat the “new Superpower” (China). These big lies all have their source in Moscow, but they are Westernized by a variety of apologists of different political hues. Their objective function is to prepare the ground for appeasement.

Yet no matter how thick the ideological blinders, it is difficult to shut out the truth. In 1979 the appeasement trend suffered a series of reversals due to the increasing boldness of the Soviets’ adventures, to the success of China’s campaigns in Western Europe, Japan and the U.S., and to the light shed in the SALT II debate. With the occupation of Afghanistan the appeasement trend has been further discredited.

Nevertheless, we should not assume that the corner has been turned, that the West cannot be lulled back to sleep as it was repeatedly by Hitler. Appeasement is a special form of bribing, and bribery is engrained in the bourgeois mentality. The American ruling class has used the “carrot” to great advantage in building its empire. It has bribed large sections of the working class and created an enormous labor aristocracy ferociously loyal to it; it has sown national enmity within the American masses by giving white workers preferential treatment; it has bribed the bourgeoisies of dependent nations into serving as its neo-colonial henchmen – all these potential enemies have been appeased by bribes and concessions and frequently turned into collaborators. This habit and the dream of applying this to the Soviets will not die easily. And the Soviet hegemonists will do their best to revive it by all the means at their disposal. These, as we have seen, are considerable.

But should the Afghanistan invasion mark the end of Western appeasement, the comfort we may wish to take in this development should be braced with the acknowledgement that it has come terribly late. As the authors of The Third World War put it, the Soviet military has “really had a splendid run, while the West, of its own deliberate choice, was looking the other way.”[25] With only five years of appeasement Hitler rearmed Germany and mounted a world war. The West has appeased the Soviet Union for more than ten. Furthermore, trends in military build-up are not subject to rapid reversal. The industrial, technological, and training effort required to expand any branch of the military is enormous. Between the approval of even an individual weapon system and its actual deployment several years must intervene. It is likely that due to past momentum, the Soviet military advantage will increase over the next several years despite contemplated increases in Western military expenditure.

9. The parallels are striking but pro-detente politicians don’t seem to be directing the Soviet Union at China the way the appeasers tried to divert Germany against the Soviet Union.

We must distinguish between subjective intentions and the objective meaning of those intentions. Chamberlain and Daladier did not appear to be encouraging a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, and up until 1938 they probably did not intend to. While some of the appeasers were hard-line anti-communist fascist sympathizers, others, like Daladier, were moved by liberal and pacifist sentiments (like McGovern today for example). They mistakenly but honestly believed that Hitler would be content with the return of the German territories and colonies that had been confiscated by the Versailles Treaty. This is not to say that there wasn’t a strong anti-communist strain in all of the appeasers, but that the invasion of the Soviet Union was not the conscious aim of their policies.

But conscious intentions are one thing, political reality another. The appeasers created a situation in which the only acceptable outcome (to them) of their policies was a German invasion of the Soviet Union. That is to say, they miscalculated Hitler’s intentions, and then when they realized this miscalculation they endeavored to divert Hitler against the Soviets, get them bogged down in a war of attrition like World War I, and then come in and dictate the peace. Later events and the tactical flexibility of Stalin and the C.P.S.U. foiled this scheme and forced the “democratic” imperialists into a united front against fascism.

Things are basically the same with the modern appeasers. The majority of them, liberals, are not now afraid of China (though they do credit the Soviet “fears” of her) and certainly not consciously promoting an attack on her. The liberals are more afraid of monsters closer to home – Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, and welfare mothers rioting in the streets, etc. But their preoccupation serves the Soviets’ plans. They wish to keep the defense budget low so as not to provoke further “decay of the cities”, etc., but this predisposes them to illusions about Soviet intentions, to believing the Soviets’ lies, and to offering excuses for their aggressive behavior. Thus the Soviets are regarded as an “insecure people” whose insecurities will be laid to rest by military “parity”. The main source of their insecurity? The threat from the East. Thus it is that our modern liberal appeasers, by a circuitous route, end up by justifying, legitimizing and aiding the Soviet build-up against China. (From here it is only a short step to actually conniving at an attack on China.)

The modern appeasers are exemplary in their impartiality towards Russia and China. They are far above any narrow prejudices toward one or the other. They will treat them “evenhandedly”. This is rather like the “equality” that prevails in bourgeois institutions when it comes to dealing with workers and capitalists. Both have equal access to the press, the courts, political office, etc., but the reality is very different for people from different classes. The appeasers would treat “evenhandedly” a superpower more heavily armed than the U.S. and intent on seizing its empire and a Third World country only beginning to modernize its economy and its defense. Why? Because both are “communist”.

As in the 1930s, a liberal-pacifist position has an anti-communist essence. In the 1930s, the slogan was “non-intervention”. Thus when Germany and Italy conspired to overturn a democratic republic in Spain, England, France and the U.S. said there should be no “interference”. Non-interference sounded fair, but its reality was to cut the Spanish Republic off from its only possible allies and to insure the success of the Italian and German intervention. Thus the liberal and pacifist slogan belied an anti-democratic and anti-communist essence.

Today the Spanish Civil War is being fought in Kampuchea. The fact that it is being fought in the Third World rather than in Europe is certainly one reason why it has received comparatively less attention than did Spain. But here again Western policy has been one of “non-interference”, which means condoning and conniving at the success of Vietnam/Russia. These “Asian communist countries” are of no concern to us, according to President Carter.[25a] Once again, formal “fairness” and non-intervention, actual help for the aggressor.

10. You said earlier that there were differences as well as similarities between this period and the 1930s. But from what you are saying, this period seems to be almost a carbon copy of the 1930s.

The similarities are striking. But the differences are significant. In the first place, the Third World today is immeasurably stronger – more awake, more united, readier to struggle. This is the most important difference between the world today and the world of the 1930s.

The second difference is that the U.S. is weaker. The “national will” has been weakened if not totally broken down by Vietnam, the Nixon repression, the racist offensive, and the rise of decadent religious and other cults. Both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat are also weaker than in the ’30s, and the communist movement is also weaker and very isolated. The fact that we have passed through a long period in which the U.S. was the main enemy and attempted to carry out a policy of world domination, propping up fascist regimes, pursuing the most bloodthirsty of wars, weakens the U.S. and makes it harder to convince people that there is a new main enemy. Subjective understanding lags behind objective reality.

And finally (though there are other differences we could cite) the Second World is far more clearly defined. While this provides a (vacillating) ally for the Third World – witness the Western European response to the invasion of Afghanistan – it also means that there are greater contradictions in the “Western Alliance” than before World War II.

11. You say the rise of the Third World is the most important difference from the 1930s. What is the significance of this difference?

The Third World is the “main force” against hegemonism. While it might be argued that the Third World was also the main force against fascism in the 1930s – certainly the contributions of the Soviet Union, then a Third World country, and of the United Front against Imperialism in China, were outstanding – the role of the Third World in the united front against hegemonism is of qualitatively greater importance today.

As an area containing nearly three-quarters of the world’s population and the overwhelming majority of its strategic raw materials, offering access to the key supply lines of the world, as well as to its crucial strategic articulations, the Third World has become the most active battleground of superpower contention and Soviet expansionism. At the same time, as the most oppressed and exploited sector of the world’s population, the Third World has become the main source of resistance to imperialism and hegemonism. Its struggle and unity have become the main historical force in our time.

This rising trend of resistance is the response to more than five centuries of colonial oppression, culminating in the development of modern imperialism a century ago. The Third World is liberating itself from this oppression and this great process is what dominates the history of our century. With Russia’s break in the “imperialist chain” in 1917, whereby a country which was both imperialist and dependent, oppressor and oppressed, renounced its imperialist past, set out on the road to socialism, and sought union with the oppressed nations of the world, the Third World has been the most active and effective force countering imperialism. The Chinese Revolution and the national liberation struggles of Vietnam, Korea, and Cuba have been vanguards in the anti-imperialist movement. The nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America have made great strides since World War II in achieving a meaningful degree of independence and have learned to work together economically and politically through a variety of organizations. Jointly they have proclaimed the need for and struggled for the realization of the New International Economic Order, a program which will strike at the very roots of imperialism.

The Third World plays the same role in the United Front Against Hegemonism. The Soviets’ hegemonist thrust is a drive, a typical imperialist drive, to capture raw materials, markets for their goods and investment outlets for their capital. It is also a hegemonist drive to dominate supply routes and strategic focal points. It is a drive to dominate the world. For the Third World, after its hard-won victories against American imperialism, Soviet domination would be a tremendous step backward – to a new and more oppressive form of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

For the Soviet hegemonists to achieve their purposes, they must divide and conquer the Third World. This becomes obvious when we trace recent Soviet activities on the map. In order to gain military bases and naval facilities in the Indian Ocean, the Soviets have set the Third World countries of the Indian Ocean basin against one another. Their divisive activities range from fanning border conflicts in the Horn of Africa (Somalia-Ethiopia), assassinations and provocations around the Red Sea (North and South Yemen), subversion in the Persian Gulf (Iran, Oman), stirring up animosities between Iran and Afghanistan, dividing the Arab League in the Middle East, fanning the flames of war in South Asia with huge arms shipments (India/Pakistan) and setting loose Vietnam on a hegemonist push towards the Straits of Malacca. But even beyond these immediate strategic objectives, it is clear that Soviet hegemonism in the long run, like German and American hegemonism before it, means the trampling of national independence (as in Kampuchea and Czechoslovakia) and the weakening or destruction of the Third World movement in the name of “socialist internationalism.”

This is why Third World countries with direct experience of Soviet interference fight so stubbornly against it, countries like Kampuchea, Somalia, Egypt and China herself, national liberation movements like the EPLF, UNITA and the Afghanistan liberation movements. This resistance, however, goes beyond individual governments and movements and embraces joint actions. Whether it be at Law of the Sea Conferences, United Nations Council on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Conferences of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization for African Unity (OAU), the Organization of American States (OAS), ASEAN, the Geneva Conference on the Boat People or at the United Nations General Assembly, the countries of the Third World historically united in opposition to U.S. imperialism are beginning to unite against the Soviet Union’s attempts to divide them and to violate their national sovereignty and independence. This has made the U.N. a rather more effective weapon against Soviet hegemonism than the League of Nations was in the 1930’s.

The development of Third World resistance to Soviet hegemonism is uneven and far from complete. More time is needed for the countries of the Third World to weld themselves into a solid force opposing both Soviet and U.S. imperialism. Yet the direction is clear. The Third World is liberating itself. This is the main historical force of our time. It is this force that Soviet ambitions are confronting, while attempting to turn the clock back to the epoch of colonialism which, as Jan Myrdal put it, “already belongs in the past.” “Colonial-type empires have become outdated. If the Third World’s liberation can be realized, then there will not be universal monarchy. The Soviet leaders’ dreams of a worldwide socialist community will become a short-lived eternity like Hitler’s thousand-year reich or the American century.”[26]


[1] New York Times, Dec. 31, 1979.

[2] “Huang Hua’s Report on the World Situation”, Issues and Studies, XIV (1); Jan. 1978, p. 108.

[3] Robert Herr, The New Republic, March 31, 1979.

[4] There are several reliable reports of chemical warfare in use by the Soviets in Afghanistan and Indochina. See for example, Richard Halloran, N. Y. Times, Jan. 23, 1980, who reports on the use of a lethal chemical vapor (probably a nerve gas) which “when inhaled induces hard breathing, vomiting, excretion, paralysis and finally death.” Also, F. Moritz in the Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 1, 1980 and William Safire in the N.Y. Times, Dec. 12, 1979 report on “the yellow rain” which “struck four times during the month of February, 1978, killing and sickening hundreds of Hmong (“Meo”) tribesmen near Xiangkhoang.” Safire cites other reports from Kampuchea and concludes that “a pattern is emerging: The Soviet-supported regimes in Vietnam and Laos need a terror weapon; the Soviets see an opportunity to test their chemical arsenal without using it themselves.” Additional Soviet atrocities include the massacre at Kerala, Afghanistan, where on April 20, 1979 Afghani troops directed by Soviet advisors “forced all the men [in the village] to line up in crouching positions in the field just outside the town and then opened up with their machine guns from behind.” This secret slaughter of over 1,000 people was documented in a special report by Edward Girardet to the Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 4, 1980.

[5] See for example the report issued by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a UN agency, which forecasts zero economic growth, double-digit inflation and increased unemployment for the United States and other non-Communist industrialized nations in 1980.

[6] “No Red Stars for Soviet Economy”, Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 29, 1979

[7] Drew Middleton, “U.S. Military Can Match Soviet, Officials Say, But Not Before 1990”, N.Y. Times, Jan. 7, 1980. See also “Special Report: How Strong is Russia?” U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 11, 1980.

[8] Georgi Dimitrov, “Unity of the Working Class Against Fascism”, in The United Front (Proletarian Publishers), p. 97.

[9] Ibid., p. 100.

[10] Manuilsky, op. cit., pp. 50-51.

[11] Dimitrov, “The Struggle for Peace”, op. cit., pp. 179-80.

[12] Manuilsky, op. cit., p. 51.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Bourgeois dictatorship can be either democratic or fascist. The Comintern’s analysis was that in the period of pre-monopoly capitalism the characteristic form of rule was democratic-liberal, but that in the period of monopoly capitalism, bourgeois dictatorship takes its characteristic form in fascism, the open dictatorial rule of the most reactionary sectors of financial-monopoly capital. This does not mean that we should expect every imperialist country to be fascist any more than every capitalist country was bourgeois democratic in the nineteenth century, but only that fascism is the form of rule corresponding to monopoly capitalism. The Comintern’s analysis was that with the development of imperialism, which for Lenin meant “reaction everywhere”, political democracy becomes increasingly incompatible with the interests of the ruling fraction of the bourgeoisie (the monopoly bourgeoisie); at the same time, with the growth of the proletariat, democracy becomes an important means of its struggle. Of course in any particular country, the level of class struggle, the depth of opportunism, and the political traditions play a relatively independent role in determining the form of bourgeois rule.

[15] “How Did Marx and Engels Differentiate Europe’s Political Forces in the Latter Half of the Nineteenth Century?” Beijing Review, #4, 1978.

[16] J. V. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism.

[17] Proposal on the General Line of the International Communist Movement, (Foreign Languages Press, Beijing), 1963, p. 4.

[18] See, for example, Walther Laqueur, “The Psychology of Appeasement”, Commentary, October, 1978, pp. 44-50.

[19] DeCosta, ’U.S. Business Funds Soviet War Machine”, The Call, Dec. 3, 1979.

[20] Ibid.

[21] NY Times, Oct. 5, 1979.

[22] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Boston: McMillan), 1943, pp. 231-2.

[23] Leon Blum, L’Echelle Humaine (Paris: NRF), 1945, p. 103.

[24] John T. Marcus, French Socialism in the Crisis Years (Westport), p. 129.

[25] General Sir John Hackett, et al., The Third World War, August, 1985 (New York: Macmillan), 1978. This book describes a NATO-Warsaw Pact war fought largely with conventional weapons. It is worth reading, despite its many drawbacks, not the least of which is its racist, Euro-centered world view. However, it develops the political and military problems facing NATO in detail with a wealth of generally reliable information. It goes beyond a static, quantitative comparison of forces and “war games”, a very possible scenario. Hackett raises many issues worth our serious consideration, such as the role of the ”peace” forces in Europe, the influence of the Soviet forces within that movement, and the central importance of the Middle East to Europe. In the book, Iran (still ruled by the Shah) is the main force defending the Persian Gulf from Soviet assault. Without strong allies in the Middle East, it is hard to imagine how NATO could defend these shipping lanes in the event of a Soviet blockade.

[25a] Since the invasion of Afghanistan, Carter has been forced to change his tune.

[26] Jan Myrdal, China Notebook (Liberator Press), 1979, p. 111.