From Fourth International, vol.3 No.9, September 1942, pp.386-287.
Transcribed, Edited & Formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for the ETOL.
Brazil is a “democracy” where there are no elections and the former Congress is now occupied by the Goebbelitos of the Department of Information, Press and Propaganda; where hundreds of political prisoners languish in jails and concentration camps; where labor, denied independent unions by police guns, is gleichgeschaltet into the equivalent of the Nazi Labor Front. The “crusade of the democracies” has a new Paladin: dictator Getullo Vargas, who on a battleship in Rio harbor, the day after Roose-velt’s “stab-in-the-back” speech at Charlottesville, greeted the Italian entry into the war in his own inimitable way, commenting:
“Virile peoples must follow the line of their aspirations instead of standing still and gazing at a structure which is crumbling down ... We are marching toward a future different from all we know In economic, political, and social organization, and we feel that old systems and anti-quated formulas have entered a decline. It is the beginning of a new era.”
The nature of the Vargas regime has been officially described by Vargas’s theoretician and apologist, Francisco Campos, author of the 1937 Constitution under which Vargas is now ruling, in the volume 0 Estado Nacional (The National State). It merits a moment’s examination. “The Brazilian State,” says Campos in a typically fascist mystification, “while thoroughly democratic, is also totalitarian.” Considering “democracy stagnant and totalitarianism progressing rapidly over the entire world,” Campos declares: “There is not a country which is not seeking its man of destiny, no people which is not clamoring for a Caesar.” Campos dismisses democracy as a “fantasy which no longer has a place in the world of today.” The US presidential campaigns he describes as “four months of political licentiousness.” He adds as a clincher: “Parliamentary istitutions in public life are today so much garbage, destitute of political significance a parliamentary hall today has about the same influence as a museum.”
Here indeed is a sepulchre of democracy big and black enough to keep the Stalinist whitewashers busy for some time. The Stalinists are themselves of course illegal and viciously persecuted in Brazil. But they will conveniently forget their own one-time hero, Lute Carlos Prestes, who since his 1935 putsch has been rotting in the jails of their new “democratic” ally.
Vargas is Washington’s man, and has been from the beginning. In his surprisingly frank book, Good Neighbors, Hubert Herring reveals Washington’s support of Vargas, against the wishes of the wretched workers and peasants, and even of sectors of the bourgeoisie. “A Brazilian business leader of unassailed character,” he reports, when asked by him what the US could do for Brazil, answered with an emphatic ‘Nothing! Do nothing now. Withhold all loans, all credits, all cooperation from Vargas. Starve him .... He cannot survive six months without the aid of the United States.’ I asked his opinion of the Export-Import loan of $20,000,000. ‘It is a grievous blunder. You simply help keep Vargas in power ...’ I asked what he thought of the credits secured by Aranha in 1939. ‘Washington simply propped up Vargas. Without that help, he would have fallen by now ... It is as immoral and disastrous to help Vargas as it would have been to finance Hitler as he built his machine against the democracies of Europe ... Vargas cannot last six months without Washington ...’” So, concludes Herring, “Washington has chosen to cooperate with Getulio Vargas.”
Apart from the $20,000,000 mentioned above, the March 1939 agreements lent this totalitarian despot nearly $120,000,000, and in early March of the present year, he received another $100,000,000 credit. On the last-mentioned credit, the Latin American Bulletin of Time magazine pointedly noted: “Bulk of the money will be spent in the US for industrial equipment of many types.” $19,200,1000 of the first amount was ear-marked for “liquidating blocked commercial accounts.” In every case, Yankee imperialism is getting the cream.
Arthur Krock, in his August 26 column in the New York Times, writes:
“A Washington official who has been closely connected with the trends of policy in Brazil gave the following outline to this cor-respondent today: ‘The entrance of Brazil into the war against the Axis is a first-magnitude triumph of the President’s Good Neighbor policy as pursued by Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Under-Secretary Sumner Welles. President Vargas’s effective endorsement of it can be traced to several factors: well-laid foundations of the policy at several Pan-American gatherings, notably the most recent one, at Rio de Janeiro; the recognition of President Vargas’s regime by the State Department when it began; the refusal of Washington to oppose the totalitarian forms of government he introduced and Mr. Welles’s sympathetic public discussion of these ...’”
Brazil’s formal entry was as foregone a conclusion as it was in the last war, when Brazil was the only South American country to enter.
At present writing it is not yet wholly clear why Vargas and his Yankee puppet-masters chose precisely this moment to make Brazil’s long-standing belligerency formal.
In this connection, another statement in Campos’s 0 Estado Nacional is pertinent: “It is necessary to keep the masses in a permanent state of excitement so that at any moment they can be transformed from a latent state of violence into an effective force to be used in crushing any attempt to break down the unity of political command by the Dictator. This explains why totalitarian states must divert their internal political tension into International tension.” On such a diversion Vargas has now embarked.
A formal state of Brazilian belligerency may have been desired on account of Washington’s military-strategic plans. Argentina already has serious cause for future worry in the heavy concentration of bombers in Brazil, both those which are openly US and those whose wings bear Brazilian targets. The Yankee stooges of the Vargas bureaucracy regularly demand that French Guiana be taken over. And a United Press dispatch from Vichy on August 26 reported the Paris press accusing Brazil of having “suggested to Portugal that Brazilian and US troops occupy the Azores and Cape Verde Islands ...” which would give the Anglo-US bloc a southern stepping-stone similar to Iceland in the north.
One thing is certain: the open entry of Brazil into the war was not taken at the demand of, or for the benefit of, the groaning Brazilian people, its millions and millions of agricultural peons slaving under semi-feudal conditions, or its millions of ill-paid city workers.
From Canada we receive word of progress by the Fourth Internationalist movement there. Modest gains in membership are being made in spite of conditions of illegality, arbitrary imprisonment without trial and restrictions of free speech and press. We can hope the growth represents the beginning of a process of recovery from the blows the Canadian Trotskyists received at the hands of the government since the beginning of the war.
The strengthening of the organization takes place primarily in British Columbia and the far western districts of Canada. This region is the traditional stronghold of working-class radicalism in the Dominion.
The political labor movement in British Columbia is represented mainly by the reformist Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. While the CCF is strong throughout the western part of Canada and has had some electoral success even as far east as Ontario, its center is in British Columbia.
The CCF was born during the depression which began in 1929. It is founded on trade unions but also has residential clubs. The power of the organization in British Columbia can be gauged by the fact that in the last elections it polled a total of more than 150,000 votes out of a total population of about three-quarters of a million. It is now the second party in the province.
In relation to the war it takes a position that can be termed social-chauvinist. They support the war, but with a certain reserve, criticism and dubiousness. During the recent vote on conscription, for example, the CCF advocated the “conscription of wealth” as well as men. What was meant by this is not clear, even to the leaders of the organization. But the fact that the CCP made this reservation brought it a torrent of abuse from the Stalinists. The latter (often from prisons where they had been put by the Canadian government during the previous “anti-war” period which ended with the invasion of the Soviet Union) demanded full and unconditional support to the Canadian government in the prosecution of the war.
The choicest Stalinist epithets (including that of “Trotskyist”) were reserved for the left wing of the CCF. The left wing is quite strong within the organization. One of its spokesmen is Colin Cameron, a member of the provincial legislature. It claims to advocate a socialist solution to the problems of the war and fascism: for the war, but also for socialism.
Its position may be better understood if we quote an extract from a speech Cameron made at the last conference of the CCF in the spring of this year. He said:
“It is my profound conviction, shared I hope, by all the movement, that only by the adoption of socialist methods can we hope to achieve victory and at the same time preserve (or should I say ‘achieve’) a democratic framework for our society ... Our party remains the only body to discharge the responsibility of driving home the lesson that victory requires a total war effort and a total war effort requires socialism – unless we are prepared to accept fascism in its stead.”
The left wing of the CCF represents the state of mind of tens of thousands of workers and dirt farmers of western Canada, who hate fascism and capitalism with every fibre and yet cannot see any way out except to support the war. The very course of the war will aid these workers to see the truth of the point of view of the Marxists. We can expect that the Fourth Internationalists in Canada will strengthen their organization and be able to develop in these workers a clearer understanding of the problems of the working class and their socialist duty.
Just arrived here is the full text of the speech to the National Council of the CTM, Stalinist-controlled Mexican trade union cen-ter, by Lombardo Toledano, titular head of the purely titular Federation of Workers of Latin America. He is visibly distressed by the “leftist” misunderstandings in the ranks concerning the true nature of “national unity.” These leftists must be disabused pronto of the notion that “national unity” is just a temporary tactic of the working class, a lesser evil necessitated by circumstances. Toledano chooses his words with care and they are of an exemplarily crude clarity:
“This is an error ... All the proposed solutions are solutions tending to associate, on a platform of national unity, the interests of the exploited classes with the interests of the exploiting class.”
You didn’t get it? Toledano will make it simpler and clearer yet:
“National unity ... consists in the unity of the revolutionaries with the reactionaries.”
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Last updated on 21.8.2008