From Fourth International, vol.3 No.3, March 1942, pp.76-81.
Transcribed, Edited & Formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for the ETOL.
The German occupation has brusquely altered the political physiognomy of the invaded countries. With the exception of very small groups of native fascists, the traditional parties and organizations have been swept away. The workers’ movement had to go underground and to adapt itself to new methods. Groups of national resistance, of the most diverse colorations, have appeared everywhere.
In France especially the Communist party plays a major role in the opposition. The three problems of national resistance, of the defense of the USSR, and of the criticism of Stalinism, are closely connected.
These problems now occupy the center of attention of our co-thinkers, the French Fourth Internationalists.
The party of the French Trotskylsts, the Internationalist Workers Party, had its national conference on Sept. 15, 1941, somewhere in western Europe, and groups of the two zones which now form France were represented. The resolution adopted by the Conference begins by precisely defining the character of the present war:
“This war is fundamentally an imperialist struggle for a new distribution of raw materials and markets, for the conquest of new fields for expansion of finance capital.
“It is not giving birth to a new progressive society-a ‘new order’-aa the fascists and certain naive or cynical Petty-bourgeois politicians would have us believe. Nor Is It a war for the victory of democracy. It is still much less a war for the defense of socialism. Anglo-American Imperialism is trying to make use of the USSR merely as a war machine against Hitler.”
“Hitler means a Europe directed, colonized and crushed by the military boot for the benefit of German finance capital. An Anglo-American ‘liberation’ would be the open military domination of the victors for the benefit of Wall Street ... For the workers of all countries, therefore, the task is to prepare the proletarian socialist revolution throughout the military crisis.”
The question of the defense of the USSR plays today a great role in the European workers’ movement. Any group which permits or tolerates the slightest equivocation on this subject condemns itself to political death. The resolution of our French comrades clearly answers the question:
“In the conflict between Germany and the USSR, all the workers of the world are with the Soviet people and cooperate with them. By their class methods, they take part in the struggle against the forces of reaction … The USSR can count on them alone. Its imperialist ‘allies’ will try to reach a compromise with their rivals at the expense of the USSR and the oppressed peoples as soon as the situation becomes directly menacing.”
The resolution thus characterizes the Vichy government:
“France is the cross road of all the imperialist rivalries. The Vichy government is a miserable clique whose existence is justified only by the balance of the existing forces; a balance between the two Imperiallet blocs; a balance between the rival clans of French imperialism, a balance between the classes momentarily incapable of promoting their historic solutions (fascism or socialism). Springing from this extremely frail balance, the Vichy government leads an existence made up of perpetual wavering and impotence.”
On the colonies, the French Trotekyists offer their solution, which is opposed to the solutions of both imperialist camps:
“The only real basis for Vichy is the French Empire, Vichy tries by every means to preserve it in the face of its rival imperialisms, as well as against the demands of the colonial populations. But the extreme weakness of Vichy makes the dislocation of the empire inevitable. The present period is favorable for the development of movements for national liberation in the colonies. ‘Liberation of the colonies from the yoke of French imperialism’ is one of the essential slogans of a revolutionary party in France.”
The resolution notes the rise of the movement of national resistance:
“The most immediate expression of popular discontent is the movement of national resistance to oppression. This is the first spontaneous petty-bourgeois expression of the rising revolutionary tide. To the extent that French economic dependence and German internal difficulties will draw Berlin and Vichy together, popular national sentiment will turn the masses more and more violently against Vichy.”
But the resolution immediately proclaims the necessity for turning away from chauvinistic channels:
“The development in a proletarian and anti-capitalist direction of the popuar movement of hostility to Hitlerism is the necessary condition for a fraternization with the soldiers and workers of Germany. The Party does not forget that without the collaboration of German workers and soldiers, no revolution would be possible in Europe. Thus, fraternization remains one of our essential tasks. Any act which widens the breach between German and European workers is directly counter-revolutionary.”
The resolution records that the Communist Party remains the principal group in the working class and insists upon the necessity of establishing closer contacts with the Communist workers. Let us note here that the Internationalist Workers Party has already made very important progress in that field. The united front has been realized on a local or regional scale between Stalin1st and Trotskyist sections. Common meetings for discussion have taken place and even, in certain instances, common illegal newspapers have been published. The conditions prevailing there prevent us from giving more details on this new and promising development.
The problems of the national movement and of Stalinism are examined at length in the document we print below. This document was written as a resolution for the Third Regional Conference of the Internationalist Workers Party of the Unoccupied Zone which took place in the first days of December, 1941. The document was not adopted as such by the Conference, but incorporated Into a resolution which unfortunately we are unable to present to our readers. We print it as a valuable introduction to the discussion of the problems of European revolution. – EDITOR.
The weight of the fascist terror is on Europe. The policy of conciliation between the fascist conqueror and the colonized peoples, inaugurated under the auspices of “continental collaboration” through the Lavals, Quislings and Hachas, has broken down under the impact of the war in Russia. Today the Nazis impose their will solely by force. The argument of “European unity,” little enough attractive to the masses, has had to give way to the argument of firing squads. The flaring up of resistance in all the occupied countries leads to repressions which ceaselessly become more severe.
The more or less peaceful integration of conquered France into the system of German imperialism is definitively dead. From the repatriation of the ashes of L’Aiglon we have arrived in a few months to the mass executions of Nantes and Bordeaux. The collaborationists, with their Anti-Bolshevist Legion, are fully unmasked and appear as the valets of Hitler.
The German difficulties in the USSR – for in spite of the advance to the outskirts of Leningrad and Moscow the essential objectives are still not attained – are the immediate source of the increased resistance, which represents socially a people’s movement, politically a national movement.
While in the free zone general discontent remains within the bounds of a sullen opposition – without external manifestation and without social movement – in the occupied zone on the other hand, where the threat of famine is more serious, Stalinist forces more concentrated, and the Nazi oppression more direct, the political atmosphere is heavy with the premonitory rumblings of open revolt. From the strikes in Northern France to the demonstrations in Paris – not to speak of the numerous acts of sabotage and individual terrorismone finds every form of resistance to German fascism.
The national question dominates today every other political and social problem. Even the defense of the USSR, a slogan par excellence of class action, is presented by the Communist Party merely as a national task.
The Leninist vanguard could not find the correct path through the approaching events if it did not take these facts into account.
At the same time it would be dangerous for us to overestimate the revolutionary content of the present movement, or to underestimate Hitler’s strength and especially the repressive capacities of the Gestapo allied to the police of the Vichy government.
The military and economic collapse of Germany is not on the order of the day, and will not be this winter. There can be no question of a short perspective in France. It is more than probable that the present stage of violent resistance will be succeeded by a stage of apparent calm, the product of the white terror and a momentary exhaution of the movement of resistance. It is probable also that the next wave of struggles will be for economic demands dictated by the spreading of famine throughout France to an unprecedented degree.
European economy collides everywhere with national frontiers, created by the victory of bourgeois nationalism during the nineteenth century. Historically, these frontiers repesented enormous progress, not only over the petty principalities of Germany and Italy, but also over the great reactionary and semi-feudal empires (Turkey, Austria-Hungary, Russia). But the national frontiers have become too constrictive in the present stage of imperialism: henceforth there is no longer room for rival imperialisms on the peninsula of Europe. Continental unification is imperative. This unification can be realized in two different ways: in the form of an imperialist “new order,” under the hegemony of a victorious imperialism, or in the form of the socialist transformation, under the hegemony of the European proletariat (Socialist United States of Europe). The “new order,” in its fascist form as in its “democratic” form (in case of an Anglo-Saxon victory), is by very definition a counter-revolutionary solution. It creates a permanent regime of coercion and oppression. It implies preparation of a new, third World War which would complete the work of capitalist destruction; it implies the transformation of the independent national economies into a “hinterland” of the victorious imperialist power and entails more or less complete loss of national independence for the majority of the European peoples. Hence the burning immediacy of the national question in Europe.
Opposed both to the propositions of the theoreticians of ultra-imperialism (Kautsky), and to the position which in the name of revolutionary internationalism neglects the national struggle of oppressed peoples (Luxemburg), Leninism demands unequivocally the right of self-determination for the colonial masses, for all the oppressed national minorities, for all the peoples whose independence is menaced. The fight for national liberty in no way conflicts with the profound internationalism of proletarian socialism. Just as “the proletariat which does not lead a consistent and revolutionary struggle for democracy on all questions cannot prepare itself for the victory over the bourgeoisie” (Lenin), in the same way the only progressive solution of the European problem is intimately bound up with the fight for national liberation. These two objectives are today inseparable. To break the chains of national oppression but one road remains, the proletarian revolution. Europe is faced, one cannot repeat too often, with the final alternative advance toward socialism or relapse into barbarism.
The occupation of France – the free zone being virtually subordinated to German control – poses anew, this time in all its force, the national question, solved one hundred and fifty years ago and for seventy years existing in its partial aspect only for the French in Alsace-Lorraine. The national movement incontestably influences the majority of the French people, especially since the bloc between the De Gaulle forces and the Stalinists. To deny this fact is to deny the obvious. But to state the importance of the national factor and the scope of the longing for liberation still is to say nothing about its character or the tendencies of its development. A German victory would undoubtedly leave to the French bourgeoisie its imperialist character; and the latter would then enter upon the road of total collaboration. But a German victory excludes the independence of the French nation, even if the German troops then left the territory and even if the new frontiers formally corresponded with ethnic divisions.
An English victory, on the other hand, poses the same problem for the German nation, for this victory can only have as its goal the possibility for English (and French) imperialism destroying once for all the menace beyond the Rhine. It is the section of the bourgeoisie that has irrevocably chosen the path of revenge which forms the backbone of the Gaullist movement.
As an organization Gaullism is but an extension of the English military apparatus. Politically it represents not a revolutionary national movement, but a national imperialist party. Its objective is by no means a regime free of all oppression by one people over another but rather, within the framework of English hegemony, the reconstitution of the French empire.
Objectively, Gaullism fights much less for national liberty than for the liberty of imperialist exploitation. Its methods are not the actions of the masses exasperated by the occupying troops and by the German and native despoilers, but the recruitment of specialists, sabotage and terrorism.
The proletarian vanguard has no common ground with Gaullism. On the contrary, it will be capable of fulfilling its tasks only by inoculating the national movement against Gaullism, by unmasking its reactionary traits, by jealously defending the complete independence of the proletarian vanguard in relation to every other political grouping, even the “anti-fascist,” above all by elevating the forms of resistance to the level of a mass struggle with a socialist content. The proletarian vanguard must prevent opposing the national tasks to the workers’ struggle for emancipation. “It must know how to contrast the patriotism of the oppressed to bourgeois nationalism” (Transition Program of the Fourth International). It must therefore unambiguously oppose Gaullism, for that is precisely bourgeois nationalism par excellence. The anti-collaborationist spirit of the masses, their struggle against oppression, in brief the national movement, is one thing; quite another thing is the Gaullist party itself.
The aspiration of the masses to national liberty is a profoundly healthy reaction. If it should become Gaullist, even in the most attenuated sense of the word, this aspiration would be marked with the seal of the class enemy and would reflect the predominance of the chauvinist bourgeoisie and Anglophile petty bourgeoisie in the national movement.
With its patriotic deformations, the Gaullism of the masses is a hybrid reaction, without a clear-cut class character; it is the corollary of the weakness of the internationalist movement. Even if the majority of French workers were under the influence of Gaullism – which is not so – it would be all the more necessary to combat this nationalist deviation. Our activity must tend toward isolating Gaullism and liquidating it as a current in the toiling masses. That does not mean we must fight the diverse camps of Gaullism as one reactionary whole. Our tactics toward them must be determined by their social structure. But our propaganda will always be anti-Gaullist because it will always be internationalist and revolutionary. “In the patriotism of the oppressed are elements reflecting their devotion to what they consider their own interests and we must be able to seize upon these and draw revolutionary conclusions from them” (Transition Program of the Fourth International).
The entire problem of common action between the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie is posed by the existence of Gaullism. We participate in every action of the masses struggling against national oppression, but we participate to divert it from chauvinist channels. We assist in them not to tail-end an unleashed patriotism but to agitate for the imperative socialist conclusions.
We seek unity of action with all workers’ groups and all groups with a socialist tendency, a united front based on a precise program and with clearly determined objectives.
Work directed toward the German soldier is not the least of our tasks in the months to come. This depends directly and intimately on the internationalist character we shall be able to impart to the nationalist manifestations. We have nothing to gain by joining in the demonstrations by students of the monarchist “Action Française” “against the Boches,” if we are not strong enough to oppose these by expressions of fraternization with German workers in uniform. Admittedly our tactic on the national plane is not simple and demands much flexibility. But those who through fear of mistakes refuse to take actual part in any movement not purely proletarian have understood nothing of Leninist policy. They preach abstentionism, indifference of the proletariat towards national liberty. They oppose to the exigencies of national liberation an abstract internationalism, which ends in a complete negation of the problem of national oppression. This policy of the esthetes of the proletarian revolution escapes danger by fleeing from the struggle.
“The intensification of national oppression in the period of imperialism impels socialists not to renounce the struggle, ‘utopian’ as the bourgeoisie claims, for the self-determination of nations, but on the contrary obliges them to the most intense utilization of all the conflicts which surge on this arena in order to lead mass actions and struggle in a revolutionary manner against the bourgeoisie.” (Lenin)
Audaciously led, the national struggle can be a training ground proving the necessity for socialism. A nation under the heel of the invader is extremely sensitive to the truth of Marx’s words: “A people which oppresses another people cannot be free.” In a revolutionary movement’s armory of slogans, the independence of every colonial people must be given the same weight as the French right of self-determination.
Anglophilism in the proletarian movement inevitably tends to deny freedom to the colonies and to end in an openly anti-Leninist revisionism. Its source is skepticism of the proletariat’s power and as a consequence loss of the revolutionary perspective. Like all opportunism Anglophilism fights under the banner of “realism.” From the beginning of a working-class movement the “realists” have opposed themselves to the “doctrinaires.” Commencing with the flirtation of Lassalle with Bismarck, they have always corrupted the revolutionary movement in the name of “given possibilities.” Bernstein, the Mensheviks, the Austro-Marxists, the Kautskyists, Blum, Stalin – so many names, so many “realists.” For them there is only the fixed state of things as they are. Frightened by the strength of powers so real as British imperialism, German fascism, Stalinism, the opportunists are incapable of foreseeing the revolutionary overthrow that will put an end to the rottenness of the existing disorder. Let us be clearly understood. We do not deny the power of counter-revolution in all its forms. But the rhythm of events during this war permits us to discern, behind the imposing facade of today, the impotencies of tomorrow.
Because society, as it is, lacks true solidity, the genuine realists in the workers’ movement are those who steadfastly prepare for the advent of the future society.
* * *
All the turns of Stalinist policy since 1933 have had as a goal the avoidance, cost what it may, of war with Germany. By concession after concession, betrayal after betrayal, Stalin sought to break out from the vicious circle of the strategy of “socialism in one country.” By substituting bureaucratic maneuvers for the politics of permanent revolution the genial Stalin has led Russia, after the heavy defeats of the European proletariat, to conflict with Germany under conditions extremely unfavorable for the USSR. The German army is before Moscow and Leningrad, in the Crimea, and is poised to thrust into the Caucasus. Stalin, who promised to defeat fascism on its own territory and threatened those who dared to “stick their snouts in the Soviet garden,” Stalin now prepares for defense behind the Urals, a defense indeed precarious if one thinks of the pincers which could suddenly close with a Japanese attack against Vladivostok.
The experience of five months of German-Russian war sets in relief two essential facts: the Russian people and the Red Army are fighting with a heroism without parallel; on the other hand, Stalin is not capable of leading a revolutionary war. If we push aside the explanations of the myth-mongers and pen prostitutes (“Slavic soul,” “Russian mysticism,” “fear of political commissars”), we can then explain why the Russian people defend their country with such tenacity, why it happens that the Stalinist bureaucracy organizes a savage resistance against the ally of yesterday.
Can one imagine a people living under painful material conditions, denied all political rights, forced to tolerate the regime imposed on them, can one imagine this people making war to the death without thinking of utilizing the first crisis, the first difficulties and military reverses, to liberate themselves from the oppressor? In principle, no. But then, we must explain a double phenomenon: the cohesion of the German army, and the inner solidarity of the Red Army.
Like all mass armies, the Reichswehr is composed of workers and peasants. It reflects the concentrated force of German imperialism which has been able to weld together its antagonistic components, on the one hand by arousing the national hatred against the Versailles Treaty, on the other hand by eliminating opposition through terror. But let us keep this in mind: the German army up to now has fought advancing actions. It is especially the young generation, including the shock troops, which is the spearhead of battle. The officer corps of the army, derived from the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, is formed from the most stable elements of the regime. All this is combined with a unique war machine and with an enormous industrial potential. Finally we must not forget that Nazism was able to temporarily improve the economic situation of the German masses and to reabsorb the unemployed by transforming the accumulated riches of Germany into war instruments and by practising “dumping” on the external markets. This fact, of course, drove Nazism to war, as the only means of saving the edifice it built. Nevertheless this economic euphoria has served to neutralize large strata of workers and to enable Nazism to throw them into the conflict.
In Russia it is exactly the contrary. The framework of resistance, the shock troops, do not come from bourgeois or petty-bourgeois circles especially trained for warfare for many years, but are composed of those workers who brought about the five-year plans without always being able to eat properly, who have borne the burden of the economic upbuilding without always tasting the benefits of it and who finally have been systematically deprived of their political rights.
The Russian army is today fighting against the most powerful army in the world, against an equipment indisputably superior in quantity as well as in quality, against a technical apparatus whose power far exceeds the power of its own.
What is it that animates the Red Army and makes it show a heroism that astonishes the world? There is but one explanation: The Russian workers are defending the October revolution. Despite the experience – and what an experience! – of fifteen years of Stalinist Bonapartism, they are fighting for the survival of the first proletarian revolution. They are defending against Nazism the conquests of an anti-capitalist state. They are fighting – despite its bureaucratic deformations – for the first workers’ state in the world and for the promise which it bears for the future.
They are temporarily caught by the Stalinist demagogy; they do not have a very clear picture of the political situation in the USSR. They do not comprehend the real character of the regime.
Nevertheless they are defensists on the same grounds that we are. Their class consciousness dictates their heroic conduct, a class consciousness that manifests itself fully despite all the ideological destruction which the bureaucracy has wrought. Briefly, we affirm that the “defensism” of the Russian proletariat is a profoundly and fundamentally correct class position.
The victory of the Russian workers against Nazism depends, however, on the political clarification that can come about during the war. Proletarian patriotism is sufficient to animate the Russian masses with an exemplary heroism, but cannot be sufficient to give to their war the strategy of a real revolutionary war, a strategy without which the USSR is destined to suffer the fate of Spain. The arguments of Leninist criticism will be able to reach the Russian soldiers and workers in the measure that we can prove in practice the eminently defensist character of our tactics. And these Russian soldiers and workers will be capable of victorious resistance in the measure that they will accept the arm of revolutionary criticism to bring about the revolutionary criticism by arms.
The Stalinist bureaucracy is defending Russia, but only to defend itself. It is the bureaucracy of a deformed workers’ state; its privileges have been acquired on the basis of planned production; its well-being is the result of parasitic expropriation, but on the basis of the Soviet social structure. A German victory would liquidate not only the workers’ character of the USSR, but would with the same blow sweep away the bureaucracy. The war has settled by its bloody lessons many theoretical conflicts; among others it has brushed aside the theory of a “new class society,” neither socialist nor capitalist, that some had discovered not only in Russia but also in Germany. The Nazis are preparing in Russia the restoration of capitalism and imperialist exploitation of the riches of this country by German finance capital. The victory of fascism once brought about, there may still be some places for individual bureaucrats, but there will no longer be a place for the Stalinist bureaucracy as a social unity. Individual treasons are possible and probable; as a ruling caste, however, the bureaucracy cannot betray its state.
The bureaucracy is defending Russia, but in a bureaucratic way. The limitations of this defense are laid down by the more and more intimate alliance with Anglo-American imperialism, which is demanding certain concessions (churches, national units on Russian soil such as the Legion of the Polish Colonels and the Czech Legion of Benes) and which in repayment gives arms only in driblets.
The bureaucratic limitations exclude workers’ democracy from the system of defense. This democracy would be in no way in contradiction to the iron discipline which is necessary to the conduct of the war. On the contrary, that very democracy alone would assure a Bolshevik discipline superior to the purely military discipline of Stalin’s generals. Workers’ democracy is the creative basis for the initiative of the masses, which is the only force capable of overcoming the material superiority of the Nazis. Stalin, side by side with Churchill and Roosevelt, is carrying on a war against the Germans – the Stalinist press already speaks of the “Boches” – in the name of a reactionary patriotism whose heroes are the Generals Kutuzov and Suvorov of the Czarist armies. But only revolutionary patriotism, whose hero is Trotsky, the great organizer of the victory against the Allies, could accomplish the “miracles” which can save the USSR and inject the virus of internationalism into the German armies.
What should be the attitude of the English workers whose government is in practise the ally of the USSR? We cannot repeat often enough: class struggle. More than ever it must be explained to the English and American workers that the best method to save the Soviet Union is to go forward toward the Soviets in their own country. The British and American workers know that the policy of their governments toward the USSR is full of reserve and reticence, that they are helping the Soviet Union only insofar as the latter helps to carry out the imperialist plans against Germany. It is exactly on this same basis that Hitler signed the RussianGerman pact of August 1939.
The adversaries of “defensism” for the USSR claim that the “defensist” English worker will be brought by the force of circumstances to make “social peace” with the bourgeoisie allied to the USSR. The objection is groundless. The situation of the Anglo-American bourgeoisie – engaged in a war against Germany at the side of a workers’ state – is an excellent springboard for proletarian struggles. We are already witnessing the first symptoms of a break between the British government and the British people. For the first time since the formation of the Churchill government the coalition socialists find themselves, under the pressure of the masses, in latent opposition to the Conservative majority. Yet this pressure of the masses is not the expression of a national ideology, but is rather the expression of class solidarity with the Russian proletariat. The British worker begins to ask Churchill: “Do you want to defend the USSR? Alright. I believe you. Then I have a word to say about that.” Even now he asks for arms and ammunition for the Soviet Union in danger and by the very logic of things, we believe, he will not be led toward sacred union with the bourgeoisie, but rather will demand control over the sending of arms. The British capitalists want to make the workers accept increased hours of work by invoking the danger confronting the Soviet Union. But if the workers then demand control of production, on what basis could the bosses then object, except the sacrosanct principle of super-profits? Thus the defense of the USSR directly leads the English workers to the development of the class struggle against their own bourgeoisie, sometimes almost unknowingly.
However, we know that the policy of the working class in the countries allied to the USSR will not always be easy to determine. It will be essential not to lose sight of the general situation, namely that the war expresses the fundamental contradictions of capitalism and at the same time is a capitalist method for temporarily resolving this contradiction; that the USSR does not lose the character of a progressive state by fighting at the side of an imperialist state, no more than the latter ceases to be imperialist because it is in practise allied to a workers’ state against a common enemy.
History knows periods where an imperialism in its struggle with another imperialism is forced to put all the logs on the fire, even at the risk of getting itself burned.
The opponents of Soviet defensism are frightened at the idea of seeing British and Soviet troops side by side in Persia, in the Caucasus or elsewhere. “So you will tell the one to fight to death and the other to fraternize?” Exactly, because the same thing must be said to the English Tommies as to their working-class compatriots. Under the orders of Wavell, they are not really defending the USSR. Our “unconditional defense” does not mean the end of political work in the Red Army, even less, therefore, in the British army. The defensist spirit of the British soldier, in the daily contacts with the Red soldier, instead of making him submit blindly to his superiors, could make him oppose them.
For Hitler and the German bourgeoisie there is a single fight for a “greater Germany,” while for us there is the double conflict: Anglo-German on one side, German-Russian on the other.
Those who will later study the Stalinist policy in France during the past ten years will find it at first glance incredible. The continued adherence of the masses to a party whose contradictions, abrupt turns, and about-faces have since 1939 reached a dizzying tempo – this adherence will not be the least of the surprises to the superficial observer. The “periods” of the Stalinist policy have followed the curve of events.
From April 1935 to August 1939 the anti-fascist campaign was at its height. Everything had to be subordinated to the struggle against Hitler, including, of course, the class struggles in the countries “allied” to the USSR. August 1939: this saw the “bombshell” of the German-Russian pact. This pact will allow Hitler to take care of things in the west and to crush the French bourgeoisie. On the basis of the pact, the Communist Party preaches in France a defeatism without revolution and a sabotage without perspective. Once the armistice is signed between France and Germany the Stalinists flirt with the occupying authorities; they are not bothered or are bothered very little by them. In the Stalinist leaflets of that period no attack against the Nazis can be found. The problem of the occupation of the country, the national question, are not raised, but against the British “plutocrats” the Stalinists are unsparing in their criticism.
The German-Russian conflict exploded in spite of the fawning of Stalin. Once more the policy of the Communist Party will be shaped by the diplomatic game of the Kremlin. The usurping bureaucracy, of course, does not call upon the assistance of the proletarian revolution. It prefers to bet on Anglo-Saxon imperialism and to take up once more with them the slogan of the anti-fascist struggle, which had been left in the prop-room for the past two years.
However, the new allies-who are also former alliesforce the Communist Party to give its propaganda a still more nationalist character; even more basely chauvinist than in the years from 1935 to 1939, because of the acuteness of the crisis which now faces Anglo-Saxon imperialism.
Last July saw the establishment of the “National Front of Struggle for the Independence of France,” in the name of the “superior interests of the fatherland.” In the spirit of this national front of which it is part, Humanité of Oct. 17, 1941 writes:
“Yesterday’s enemy has not become today’s friend. Quite the contrary, the anti-German feelings have been considerably sharpened by contact with reality. The only ones who can deny this are the Boche Vichy government and a handful of other traitors. On November 11 in all the towns and villages, in powerful demonstrations of remembrance, all the patriots of the national front, ex-service men, men, women, children, gather beneath the folds of the tricolor flag! Honor those who fell for the cause of France against the enemy, against the Boche.”
Here we have almost all the present ideology of the ex-Communist International.
Thus the Comintern has come to the worst anti-German nationalism. The policy of the Communist Party loses any working-class character. Perhaps even the name “Communist,” so embarrassing to them, will be exchanged for the name of “Anti-Fascist” as less offensive (already No. 4 (July) of Rouge Midi speaks of the “Anti-Fascist Party of Liberation”). Soon Stalin will perhaps proceed to liquidate the Communist International in exchange for a few dozen airplanes.
All this would be without great importance if the working masses did not follow the Communist Party. But they are following it – without doubt. The attractive power of the Communist International flows from the very existence of the Soviet Union and the necessity for defending it, and the more menacing becomes the counter-revolution, the more tenacious is the adhesion of the proletariat to the country which in its eyes is the realization of the socialist will of the working class.
The Communist Party retains its hold on the French workers not only by usurping the Leninist banner, but also by its combative activity, which especially carries away the young generation of workers between 20 and 30, who do not know by experience the heroic days of the Communist International and thus believe the Stalinist turns to be revolutionary tactics. Let us add to this the police repressions, which are directed above all against the Communist Party, and which provoke not only fear but also defiance – and we then understand the principal factors of the continuance of Stalinism, which still influences the most honest and most devoted sections of the working class. It is the tragedy of the European proletariat to see its vigor wasted by the gravedigger Stalin by a policy directed against the revolution. And today, with the slogan of sabotage, more sabotage, and nothing but sabotage, the Communist International condemns its parties to new catrastrophes. The military gain from such a policy is extremely small. Only a mass movement can shake off fascism.
The policy of the Communist Party does not provide any way out of the present chaos. With the present increase of difficulties for the USSR, the convulsions of Stalinism will soon reach paroxysm. The time is coming when Stalin will have lost his aura as a great leader of the working class. We must be able then to transform disillusionment of the workers with Stalinism into a positive proletarian program.
Under conditions of illegality, the apparatus of the Communist Party cannot directly control the rank-and-file groups. Thus great possibilities for united fronts are open to us. The common platform for them and for us is the defense of the USSR. Our common goal is the proletarian revolution. The unity of action will enable us to exercise a friendly criticism and to detach the Communist workers from Stalinism.
We must orient the organizations of the Fourth International toward the proletariat, toward the Communist parties. We must find our way to the factories. Everything, literally everything, depends upon the success of this policy.
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