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Fourth International, October 1942


SWP National Committee

The National Question and Europe


From Fourth International, Vol.3 No.10 (Whole No.26), October 1942, p.319.
Transcription & mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


EDITOR’S NOTE: We publish below the section on Europe from the Political Resolution of the National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party for the forthcoming convention.

We regret that the second of Marc Loris’ discussion articles on the national question in Europe, which we promised to publish in this issue, was not ready in time; it will appear next month.

11. The fall of France not only testified to Germany’s economic and military superiority on the European continent ; it exposed the rottenness of French bourgeois democracy as well as the inability of the French bourgeoisie to defend their own nation against the fascist invaders. After crushing the workers’ bid for power in 1936, the capitalist politicians and their Stalinist, socialist and syndicalist lieutenants in the labor movement called upon the French workers to fight for the capitalist fatherland in order to defend democracy and national independence. Duped by the bourgeoisie and betrayed by their leaders, the French workers suffered the loss of their democratic rights and their class organizations together with national unity and independence. The main section of French capitalism has entered into collaboration with the fascist conquerors; another group has gone over into the Anglo-American camp.

12. The fate of France contains a great political lesson for the workers of the whole world. It has again demonstrated that the bourgeoisie puts its profits and privileges above either national independence or democracy. Whenever their social and economic interests and their political predominance are imperiled by the proletariat, the bourgeoisie will give up national independence, destroy democracy, substitute their naked class dictatorship and collaborate with the oppressors. For the sake of preserving private property, privileges and profits, or even in the hope of preserving some of them, the bourgeoisie will turn against their own people. Official patriotism serves simply as a mask to conceal the class interests of the exploiters. The subsequent capitulations of the French bourgeoisie to Hitler have proved this to the hilt.

13. The aspiration of the masses of France and the other occupied countries for national liberation has profound revolutionary implications. But, like the sentiment of anti-fascism, it can be perverted to the uses of imperialism. Such a perversion of the movement is inevitable if it proceeds under the slogans and leadership of bourgeois nationalism. The “democratic” imperialist gangsters are interested only in recovering the property which has been taken away from them by the fascist gangsters. This is what they mean by national liberation. The interests of the masses are profoundly different. The task of the workers of the occupied countries is to put themselves at the head of the insurgent movement of the people and direct it toward the struggle for the socialist re-organization of Europe. Their allies in this struggle are not the Anglo-American imperialists and their satellites among the native bourgeoisie, but the workers of Germany. Peace, security and prosperity can be assured for the people of Europe only by its economic unification based on the socialist collaboration of the free nations. Only with this perspective is national liberation worth talking about, still less fighting and dying for. The central unifying slogan of the revolutionary fight is “The Socialist United States of Europe” and to it all other slogans must be subordinated.

14. The German proletariat made a revolution in 1918, only to be robbed of its fruits by the bourgeois-Social-Democratic coalition. For fifteen years thereafter the proletariat remained loyal to the parties avowing workers’ socialism. A revolutionary situation in 1923 was lost by the incapacity of the German Communist Party leadership disoriented by the Comintern, already then in the first stages of its Stalinist degeneration. In the last regular election (1932) the workers’ parties polled 13,000,000 votes. Hitler came to power only by the help of the rottenness, incapacity and treachery of Social Democracy and Stalinism. Betrayed by their own parties the German workers were crushed by Nazism. It may be assumed that Hitler’s diplomatic and military victories created a certain amount of chauvinist intoxication among the masses for a time. Now, however, they gaze on the ruin of Europe – and the ruin of Germany. They mourn millions of dead and wounded, the masses grow hungry as in 1916-1.918, and the end of the war is far away. Chauvinist intoxication must begin to give way before the grim realities. The fear of a new and worse Versailles is the most potent weapon in Hitler’s hands. But that weapon will fall from his hands with the first serious revolutionary developments in the “democracies” or in the occupied countries. The mighty German proletariat will say the most decisive word in the socialist revolution of Europe.

15. The workers of Britain are being impelled toward proletarian revolution by the collapse of the British Empire. The reformism of the British Labour Party and the trade unions was based on the crumbs thrown to a privileged section of the workers by a sated imperialist power; that reformism is losing its foundations. Therewith the road is being cleared for the stormy development of a revolutionary party of the Fourth International. Only the Socialist United States of Europe offers the British proletariat a perspective for hope. All the objective prerequisites for a proletarian revolution are now present in the British Isles. The British Trotskyists stand before their great historic task of organizing and leading the British workers to their revolutionary destiny.

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