Main FI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Fourth International, June 1943


The Editors

The Month in Review


From Fourth International, vol.4 No.6, June 1943, pp.163-168.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


Press Comment on the Comintern

REMARKABLE UNANIMITY OF THE BOURGEOIS PRESS The most striking characteristic of the capitalist press reaction to the Comintern dissolution was that all newspapers Republican, Democratic, independent; pro-administration and anti-administration alike – showed an almost unbroken unanimity of opinion welcoming the step. In estimating the dissolution as a substantial concession by Stalin to the Anglo-US bloc, even so rabidly anti-administration a sheet as the New York Sun showed it considered the move too historically important to be utilized as a pretext to score off Washington. The unanimous consensus is typified by the ultra-conservative Philadelphia Evening Bulletin:

“Dissolution of the Communist or Third International looks very much like a gesture of appeasement by Stalin of the anti-Communists in the United Nations ...”

Even the unreconstructible Chicago Tribune, which can manage to inject anti-New-Deal bias into an editorial on the first robin, devoted a long editorial to underlining the anti-communist nature of Stalin’s acts, sparing only one paragraph to drag in the sour suggestion that Mr. Roosevelt would like in return to import article 14 (nationalized economy) of the Soviet constitution.

Behind this extraordinary unanimity lies a class criterion: faced with an event affecting them as representatives of capitalism, all the bourgeois press instantly dropped merely family quarrels and reacted with a sense of class responsibility. Of the 80 US newspapers which we examined, all without exception (save perhaps the politically frivolous Hearst press) emphasized that, whatever may come later, the dissolution meantime represents a tremendous gain for the “United Nations,” that is, for Anglo-American imperialism. From the Philadelphia Record (“It is no exaggeration to say this ... may prove a diplomatic triumph for the United Nations more far-reaching than the military triumphs at Stalingrad and Cap Bone”) to The Boston Herald (“It is an act of immense significance ... a favorable omen ... comparable in effect to Stalingrad and Tunisia ... There should be no suspicion of the fact itself ...”), not one characterizes it merely as a maneuver which leaves the situation unchanged. The only variant of opinion here is that some consider it “overdue,” a “tardy” formalization of an act long since accomplished. The Chicago Sun, for instance, specifies that “the Comintern long since became a ghost ... because Russia under Stalin had swung from the concept of world revolution which was the Comintern’s reason for existence ...” And The Des Moines Register underlines the fact that it “caps a process which has been going for at least 15 years.”

THEY TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT TROTSKY v. STALIN Indeed, the second striking unanimity of the press is in their historical recapitulation of the struggle between Trotsky and Stalin. These same newspapers in recent weeks have not been above dipping their pens in the Mission to Moscow slough to spatter mud on Trotsky and the old Bolsheviks. But the importance to their class of the Comintern dissolution makes it incumbent on them to define with some accuracy its historical meaning. Editorial after editorial gives a condensed account of the struggle of Bolshevik-Leninism against Stalinist degeneration; they unanimously demonstrate that they knew all the time the real ideological bases of that struggle. (The one exception concerns Soviet industrialization and the Five-Year Plan, which they credit to Stalin, neglecting to extract from their morgues clippings of their own 1928 articles correctly stating that Stalin had adopted Trotsky’s industrialization program after fighting against it for years.) Papers as separated in space and political opinions as The Detroit Free Press, The Des Moines Register, the New York Herald Tribune, The Saint Paul Pioneer Press, the Atlanta Journal and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch all accurately make the fundamental distinction between the world-revolutionary purpose of the Third International “of Lenin and Trotsky” and the non- or counter-revolutionary Stalinist policy of “socialism in one country.” The Raleigh News and Observer cries that the “world breathed more freely” at the news that “the old Trotsky madness” was done. The Hartford Courant gloated:

“The Third International is dead! Marx’s dream is ended. The Leninist concept of the Comintern for ’the advancement of revolutionary principles throughout the world,’ for the fomenting of ’perpetual proletarian revolution,’ has died ...”

The Kansas City Times knows well who killed, who defended it:

“After Lenin’s death the realistic Stalin became convinced that ... it was foolish to fritter away energy on futile dreams of world revolution. Adopting this policy he was forced into a bitter struggle with the old Bolshevist crowd headed by Trotsky that wanted to carry the communistic crusade throughout the world.

“Stalin won and exiled or shot most of the opposing leaders ...”

The Chicago Tribune, after correctly characterizing the Leninist revolution as worldwide in intention, specifies:

“Stalin killed the dervishes of the Marxist creed. He executed the bolshevists whose realm was the world and whose zeal was for the universal revolution.”

Equally clear is the Buffalo Evening News: “So ends the Comintern, founded in 1919 by Lenin and Trotsky to foment world revolution ...” After patronizingly praising Stalin, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin also underlines his counter-revolutionary role:

“As it was founded and supported by the men associated with Lenin in the early days of the Bolshevist revolution, the International ... fostered subversive agitation the word over.

“Stalin has done wisely in moving to end all appearance of toleration in Russia for this subversive organization ... there is much to support the view of his Communist opponents [i.e., the Trotskyists] that he has ceased to have any interest in world revolution and, while basing his personal power in Russia on his support of the Communist party there, is no zealot for the cause.”

Thus at this critical moment the bourgeois press must give its class a clear account of the facts, and only the frenzied lackeys of the Daily Worker continue to pump out the musty wheezes that Trotskyism is fascist. Naturally we do not expect this same bourgeois press to remember, the next time it finds it opportune to solidarize with the Stalinist liars, that on this historic occasion it unequivocally equated Trotskyism with world-wide socialist revolution, Stalinism with its attempted liquidation.

CAPITALISM PREPARES ITS FURTHER DEMANDS Banker and boss continue, however to fear not Stalin but the Red Soviet star. Gratified though they are with this part payment on Stalin’s note, they are quick to suggest that there remain unpaid balances. That most authoritative of all the spokesmen of US capitalism, The New York Times, while warmly welcoming the dissolution of the Comintern, permits itself suggestions how it may be implemented:

“It [the final effect of the decree] will depend on whether Moscow drops the ‘Union of Polish Patriots’ led by the wife of an Assistant Commissar for Foreign Affairs. It will depend on whether Moscow abandons leadership of the Yugoslav ‘partisans’ and permits Yugoslav unification under the recognized government. It will depend on whether the French Communists abandon their efforts to put themselves in the saddle and join in a real unification of the French nation ...”

In sum, the thanks Stalin gets for leaving the door ajar to his “allies” is that they smilingly jam a steel-shod foot in it.

For, no more than they forget the difference between Trotskyism and Stalinism do the capitalists forget the still unresolved class contradiction between the workers’ state, however degenerated, and their own capitalist regimes, coexisting in a world in crisis. As long as the nationalized economy and the monopoly of foreign trade exist, the Soviet Union is a challenge to the imperialists. As reward for the abolition of the Comintern, they offer – that he throw away any other weapon which he may consider useful.

ATTITUDE TOWARD THE US COMMUNIST PARTY Significantly, however, few newspapers demand the dissolution of the US Communist Party. The Philadelphia Record, close to the New Deal, regrets that the Comintern did not dissolve also its component parties and makes the sinister suggestion:

“It does make clear before the world that Russia has washed her hands of responsibility for them, and that if America should find it necessary to corral her Reds and throw them into concentration camps, that would be a purely domestic American matter, and no offense to Moscow.”

But this is an exception. Most of the newspapers make no demands on the Communist Party USA. They understand its present role. On that weekend when the Chrysler workers and the Akron gum-miners were out on militant rank-and-file strikes, and the Daily Worker was howling that all strikes were Hitler’s work and urging scabbing on the strikers, it obviously occurred to the bourgeois editorialists that the Communist Party was, for the moment at least, a very useful organization indeed.

A final point on which the vast majority of the capitalist editorials hammer is the claim that the dissolution of the Comintern marks the end of proletarian internationalism. While the Red Army and the Soviet masses are making their great defense to protect the remaining conquests of October, we counted by the dozens the newspapers which lyingly attributed Soviet morale to a purely nationalist desire to defend the “holy Russian” soil. Even the New York Times has the effrontery to state that “the patriotic, national, and even religious impulses of the Russian people ... became the main sources of their heroism and stamina.”

THE SPECTACLE OF THE DAILY WORKER In the face of the accurate characterizations of the defunct Comintern by the capitalist press, how did the Daily Worker react? As usual in the first period after Moscow makes a turn, the Stalinist editors fumbled, miserably uncertain of how best to please Moscow and fearing to err on either side of the line. The first day they published the Comintern document without comment. The second day, the Daily Worker stylists simply rewrote the Comintern proposal and called it an editorial. They also reported that “world reactions to the Comintern decision” were “overwhelmingly favorable.” The most they dared add was that this was so “irrespective of the misconceptions and reasoning of many of those who made statements.” What the misconceptions were, the Daily Worker editors dared not specify. Against The New York Times’ attack on Stalinist policy in Poland and Yugoslavia the Daily Worker guessed it could protest, but with due obeisance to the Times’ “anti-fascist” stature.

It remained, not for the functionaries of the Daily Worker, but for the realists of the New York Herald Tribune, to write:

“It must be recognized that revolutionary socialism on an international basis will not die. It represents an idea that will always find adherents when the world is troubled by wars or economic disaster – a movement that will wax and wane, spontaneously, no matter what Josef Stalin or any other national leader may decide.”

This was an admission of an obvious-enough truth. In an epoch when decaying capitalism has no other perspective to offer desperate humanity than to reel from war to economic disaster and back into war again, international revolutionary socialism cannot but grow – and not merely spontaneously but on the basis of a program proved constantly correct and under a banner unstained by treachery and assassination. It is hardly to be expected that these bourgeois editorialists who so accurately evaluate the counter-revolutionary and anti-international significance of the Comintern’s dissolution should carry their thoughts through to their logical conclusion. But history will do that for them. With the formal removal of the wreckage of the Third International, “revolutionary socialism on an international basis” will be carried to its final victory by Trotsky’s Fourth International, which – as the Socialist Workers Party statement published in this issue truly proclaims “lives and fights and which nobody can dissolve,”

The Mounting Number of Strikes

GOVERNMENT FIGURES TELL THE STORY Month by month, more and more workers are taking to strike action. The latest figures available from the US Department of Labor are as follows:



Workers Involved

Man-Days Out













As the figures for man-days indicate, often the strikes have been but for a few hours. The May figures will be far higher, including a half million miners out on Saturday and Monday, May 1 and 3, the four-day strike of 29,000 Chrysler workers in Detroit, the five-day Akron strike of 50,000 rubber workers, the continuing Baltimore transit walkout, etc.

Why these strikes, waged in all cases against terrific government pressure, in well-nigh all cases against the will of the AFL and CIO top leadership? E.R. Frank, a leading militant in one of the major unions, answers this question in this issue of Fourth International in his analysis of the coal crisis. He shows how the workers’ resistance arises inevitably out of the capitalist war economy. The workers still have illusions about the war and the government, yet driven by their needs they are striking in spite of their political immaturity.

THE DAILY WORKER BLAMES US FOR THEM Police minds, of course, will not and cannot understand this inevitable process of the class struggle. The scab Stalinist press, for example, daily howls against the Trotskyists as the instigators of the strikes. A single article in the May 31 Daily Worker attributes to us the events in the “Akron, Detroit, Toledo and other recent strike spots” where “for years those vital war production areas have been concentration points for the Trotskyites”; a major part in the militancy displayed at recent UAW conferences and conventions; the “unauthorized stoppages” in steel; the unrest in shipbuilding; a role in the Chrysler and Akron strikes.

We Trotskyists, now as always, support the workers’ struggles, but can scarcely claim credit for the recent strike struggles. Our forces are as yet too small, the American proletariat has yet to turn toward the revolutionary movement. The Stalinists deliberately exaggerate our role in order to cover up the responsibility of the economic policies of the Roosevelt regime, and to lend weight to their demands that the Socialist Workers Party be outlawed. Still, we do not fear their denunciations or retreat under them. We remember how the Russian workers and peasants heard themselves condemned as Bolsheviks long before they ever listened to a Bolshevik agitator. Militants throughout American industry are hearing about us for the first time when they are denounced as Trotskyists. Their response in the end will be: “If what I’m doing is Trotskyism, then I guess I’m a Trotskyist.”

General Ruml Wins

AN ADDITIONAL REWARD FOR WAR PROFITEERING For over five months the representatives of Big Business have been fighting tenaciously for a tax-cancellation program which would enable them to keep their swollen 1942 war profits. The tax bill finally drafted by the Joint House-Senate conferees gives the monopolists and billionaires almost everything they have been howling for under the titular leadership of Ruml.

The bill wipes out 75 per cent of all taxes owed on 1942 incomes above $50. On this basis a worker who earned $40 a week in 1942 will have about $100 in taxes cancelled. A Ford or a Rockefeller with an income of a million dollars in that year will have no less than $645,000 cancelled! This is the law in its majestic equality.

In an organized campaign of lying whose totalitarian character could scarcely have been equalled by Hitler himself, the entire capitalist press pretends that the plan does not benefit the rich since they have to pay taxes each year just as always. This is a deliberate falsehood. The upper-income bracketeers had already set aside billions to meet their 1942 tax debts – billions 75 per cent of which they now are free to spend or invest, while they pay 1943 taxes out of current income on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. Nor, in many cases, is the amount they thus pocket curtailed much by the two so-called “anti-windfall” provisions. No millionaire will weep because he must pay taxes on 1942 or 1943 income, whichever one is higher – they were both good years. The second “anti-windfall” provision enables him to keep the full rebate if during one of the four base years – 1937, 1938, 1939 or 1940 – he had an income equal to his highest income in 1942 or 1943. For many rich men, 1940 was the first big year of expansion of war industry; for others, giving them four years to choose from provides them with one year of unusually high income equivalent to the war profits of 1942 or 1943. Those who aren’t taken care of altogether by these loopholes are given the consolation of a $20,000 cushion: a man who got $60,000 in one of the base years and $100,000 in 1942 or 1943, adds a $20,000 cushion to the $60,000, making $80,000 the figure of his “regular” income so that he has to pay taxes only on $20,000 under the “anti-windfall” provisions. One way or another, the plutocrats are being given additional rewards for their unbridled war profiteering.

The small and medium income tax groups, however, will find their tax burdens increased by the bill. In addition to paying immediately regular 1943 income taxes they will also have to pay during the next two years 25 per cent of taxes on 1942 income. For example, a married man making $3,200 will have to pay current taxes on $361 on 1943 income plus $45 for the next two years on his 1942 income.

STILL MORE TAXES COMING FOR THE POOR In addition, the Treasury Department is demanding another tax bill of 16 billions this year. Congress is obviously planning to raise most of this additional revenue by sales taxes, which hit the small tax payers over four times as hard as they do the rich. In this way Congress plans to make up for the “concession” to the poor man in cancelling all 1942 tax debts below $50. With one hand Congress will wave away a $50 tax debt, with the other hand it will rob the pockets of the poor of $200 through sales taxes. This is “equality of sacrifice” – US capitalist model 1943.

The Congressmen who are adopting this tax bill are shameless and servile tools of the plutocracy; many of them, indeed, have direct personal interests in the matter. Every member of the Senatorial Finance Committee is either a millionaire in his own "right" or has been a corporation lawyer who continues to serve his monopolist clients as loyally in Congress as outside it.

WHERE ARE LABOR’S OWN CONGRESSMEN? CIO President Murray has pleaded with Congress to reject this tax-grab, for he knows that its passage will intensify his task of stifling the revolt of the workers. Murray is silent about the fact that he called upon the workers to elect the same gentlemen who are putting over this bill – men whom he called the “friends of Labor” and, indeed, “our– representatives in Congress. Thanks to the company-union policy of the CIO and AFL leadership in the political field, organized labor has no representatives of its own in Congress to expose and prevent the machinations of the millionaires and their political errand-boys.

Every worker should understand that thirteen million trade unionists and their families – actually the majority of the population, even without counting their natural allies among the dirt farmers and the white collar workers – count for nothing in Congress as against America’s 60 ruling families. This tax steal should provide a new impetus to the formation of an Independent Party of Labor by the trade unions. It demonstrates once again that if organized labor does not take an independent part in political life, there is no limit to the crimes against the workers which will be perpetrated by the profiteers and their political agents in Washington.

After Two Years of Soviet-Nazi War

WHAT THE "DEMOCRATS" EXPECTED IN 1941 Warmed by his dissolution of the Comintern, Stalin’s “allies” will undoubtedly observe June 22 by fulsome praise of Stalin and the “national patriotism” of the “Russian people.” Their attribution of Soviet strength to Stalin’s leadership and the forces of nationalism is of course lying capitalist propaganda, designed to hide from the world masses the real source of Soviet morale and power of resistance. The “democratic” leaders know very well by now that it was the nationalized economy of the Soviet Union and the morale of the Soviet workers and collectivized peasants based upon it – in other words, the remaining conquests of the October revolution – which stopped the Nazi war machine after capitalist “democracy” failed to do so. They must understand this now, these gentlemen to whom the Soviet capacity for struggle came as a complete surprise. Since neither they nor their Stalinist collaborators will recall such unpleasantries on the second anniversary of the Soviet-Nazi war, let us remind them what the “democrats” thought in 1940 and 1941. Churchill declared, during the initial reverses of the war with Finland:

“The Finns have exposed for all the world to see the military incapacity of the Red Army and of the Red Air Force. Many illusions about Soviet Russia have been dispelled in these weeks of fighting in the Arctic circle. Everyone can see how communism rots the soul of a nation, how it makes it abject and hungry in peace, and proves it base, abominable in war.” (Times of London, January 22, 1940.)

Churchill said this less than five months before Dunkirk; and Le Temps, organ of the French “democracy” which was to collapse at the first blow, declared: “The military might of the Soviets has turned out to be a huge bluff.” Roosevelt’s spokesman, Assistant Secretary of War Louis Johnson, in a speech on January 15, 1940, explained Russia’s failure in Finland by the fact that “one free man is worth twenty slaves.” As for the prognostications when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, they are too fresh in people’s memories to require quotation: three months was the limit generally accorded to Soviet resistance by the general staffs of the “democracies.” Now these bourgeois swine who blamed the defeats on Communism want to convince the world masses that the Soviet victories and continued resistance must be attributed to reactionary nationalism.

THE PREDICTIONS OF THE RENEGADES In the anti-Soviet chorus of the Hitler-Stalin pact period were numerous renegades from communism. It is instructive to recall their theories and predictions as well as those of their masters – who, indeed, may well have been misled in part by the prognostications of these renegade “experts” on the USSR. What the big capitalists called Stalin’s “Communism,” the petty-bourgeois renegades called “Stalinist imperialism.” Thus they tried to mask their collapse under bourgeois pressure by a theory that the USSR had ceased to be a workers’ state and was therefore no longer worthy of support. Among the American formulators of this theory are Max Eastman, Sidney Hook and James Burnham – the latter, our readers will recall, bestowed his theory on the Workers Party which he founded with Max Shachtinan and then left. We recall especially an article by Hook in the New Leader which argued that the “democracies” were fighting for the principles of freedom of the great French revolution and therefore it was natural that opposing them should be both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which Hook identified as having identical economies. Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution likewise asserted the identity of Nazi Germany and the USSR and took it for granted they would remain together. These prophets have yet to explain why their theories led to such false predictions.

Let us go, however, to the master of these American disciples – Boris Souvarine, whose big book, Stalin, is the principal fountainhead of the theory that the USSR long ago ceased to be a workers’ state. A British devotee of this theory, C.L.R. James, translated the book into English. It is noteworthy that the translation was very carefully checked by Souvarine himself and that it was published in 1939 on the very eve of the war. From his theory that there was no longer anything of the October revolution left to defend, Souvarine quite logically drew the following conclusions on what would happen to Soviet morale in the event of war:

“The peasants hope for any sort of change, and are only waiting for arms to settle their arrears of accounts with their oppressors. The workers feel scarcely less aversion to the hierarchy of secretaries, in spite of all the propaganda employed to convince them of their advantageous position. The youth alone, which knows nothing of the recent past or of life in foreign countries, accepts with elation the ideology of Soviet chauvinism and would defend the frontiers without reservation if not with enthusiasm. But its warlike impulses, so vigorous in expeditious without peril and without glory against the unarmed peasants, will lose vigor under cannon and machinegun fire. The Red Army, reinforced by a partial mobilisation, would suffice for the protection of the USSR in a conflict limited to neighboring countries, but not in a conflagration worldwide in scope, entailing general mobilisation.” (pp.566-567.)

Even more explicitly, Souvarine speaks of Soviet “farmers ready to welcome the invaders” and “The defeat so longed for by an enslaved people” (page 569).

It would be interesting to see Souvarine attempt to explain why, instead of welcoming the Nazi invader, the Soviet masses have demonstrated an unprecedented morale; but Souvarine is too busy on such tasks as explaining why Giraud is preferable to De Gaulle. Nor have the American borrowers of his theory provided an explanation – we are still waiting particularly to hear Shachtman’s version. Nor can they pretend that Souvarine’s predictions about Soviet morale are not logical corrollaries of his theory. As Souvarine points out, “The Russian people have always benefited by wars which shook the ruling power ... The Crimean War hastened the liberation of the serfs, the Russo-Japanese War unleashed the first revolution, the World War precipitated the fall of Czarism.” Hence more than any other people their rich experience prepared them for defeatism in this war – if they had felt they had nothing to defend. They who bore the burdens knew even better than the Souvarines the terrible cost in human lives and material goods of Stalin’s purges and the rapacity and incompetence of the bureaucracy whom Stalin represents. Nevertheless the class instinct of the Soviet masses grasped what the corroded skepticism of the Souvarines failed to understand: that the economic foundations laid down by the October revolution still remained, that the superiority of this nationalized economy over capitalist anarchy had been demonstrated for all time by the Five Year Plans despite the handicap of Stalin’s parasitic caste, that this proletarian fortress was worth defending with their lives despite Stalin’s destruction of the Red Army leadership.

OUR PREDICTIONS ON SOVIET MORALE Of the predictions of the Souvarines, Trotsky wrote in March 1934:

“There is still too much misery, suffering, injustice, and, consequently, discontent. But the idea that the Soviet masses are inclined to await aid from the armies of the Mikado or Hitler cannot be evaluated except as delirium. In spite of all the difficulties of the transition regime, the political and moral cohesion of the peoples of the USSR is sufficiently strong, in any case stronger than that of their possible adversaries.”

In 1937, after the purges, Trotsky still quoted these sentences as his opinion at the Commission of Inquiry into the Moscow Trials. Neither Trotsky nor we blinded ourselves to the devastation wreaked upon morale, industry and the Red Army by the purges and the parasitic rule of the bureaucracy; on the contrary the world working class knows the true facts primarily through the Fourth International. We showed that the true facts, however, also include – what the Souvarines failed to see – that the nationalized economy remained and made tremendous advances at a tempo impossible to capitalism, raising the cultural level of tens of millions who had been illiterate peasants or peasants’ sons and are now industrial workers, machinists and engineers. Because we understood this the Manifesto of the Fourth International, For the Defense of the Soviet Union, was able to state in the first days of the Nazi invasion:

“Despite all the crimes of the bureaucracy, the October revolution, which brought a new life to all the peoples of Russia, is not yet dead. The worker and collectivized peasant are fully aware of what a Hitler victory would mean: seizure of the economy by the German trusts and cartels, transformation of the country into a colony, the end of the first experiment in planned economy outside the profit system, the end of all hopes. They do not want to allow that.” (Fourth International, October 1941.)

We knew the continued vitality of the October revolution. Our faith in its capacity for struggle was incomparably greater than that of Stalin. That is why he signed the Hitler-Stalin pact and surrendered the initiative to Hitler, so that the invasion of the Soviet Union came under the most favorable conditions possible for Hitler – with all Europe as the Nazi base. The latest testimony on this question is that of the AP correspondent Henry C. Cassidy, whose just-published Moscow Dateline reports that until the Nazis actually crossed the border foreigners and Russians alike in Moscow were sure of further peace; for Stalin “wanted peace at almost any price, and would make almost any concession, even unasked” to appease Hitler.

THE MOTIVE OF STALIN’S REACTIONARY POLICY Today the Souvarinists praise the Soviet government or are silent, with the exception of the Shachtman Workers Party which, equally falsely, continues to speak of “Stalinist imperialism.” They all refuse to see to this day the source of Stalin’s pacifism toward Hitler, which flowed not only from his bureaucratic lack of faith in the masses, but also from his fear of the masses. Not, however, a fear of the non-existent defeatism attributed to the workers by the Souvarinists. On the contrary, the Soviet workers endured Stalin’s rule because otherwise he threatened civil war, while the capitalist invader stood ready at the frontiers. But when the invader is smashed and revolution sweeps Europe, Stalin well knows, the Soviet proletariat will settle with him.

Hence Stalin’s present policy toward the “democracies” remains in essence identical with his previous policy toward Hitler. There are of course obvious differences. He never became Hitler’s military partner against Britain and France although, let us remind the Stalinists, Stalin and Hitler jointly partitioned Poland, Molotov boasting: “One swift blow to Poland first by the German Army and then by the Red Army, and nothing was left” (Daily Worker, November 1, 1939). Stalin gave Hitler political support, their joint declaration of September 28, 1939 stating that if France and Britain refused to accept Hitler’s peace terms “the fact would be established that England and France are responsible for the continuation of the war.” Now Stalin and his lackeys paint up the “democratic” leaders as the hope of the world, if only they retain Stalin as their ally. As in the period of the pact with Hitler, so now, Stalin wants no revolutions in Europe, for revolutions will free the hands of the Soviet proletariat and put an end to the Kremlin bureaucracy. Just as he feared Hitler, he fears his present “allies,” but will make almost any concession to them.

THE DANGER TO THE SOVIET UNION TODAY Stalin’s false policy will collapse once more, and again under the most adverse conditions for the Soviet Union. Alter two years of the most destructive warfare in history, untold Soviet millions – there are no real figures given – have been killed and wounded, and a large part of the industrial plant destroyed. The Soviet masses are hungry, as the Kremlin’s delegate had to make clear at the Food Conference. In a word, the USSR has been bled white while its “allies” remain so far relatively unscathed and growing stronger. The relation of forces thus grows in favor of the “democracies” as against the Soviet Union.

Magnificent though the tempos of the nationalized economy are, they remain those of a backward country, outstripped by the advanced technology of the imperialist colossus of North America. We had and still have abiding faith in the Soviet masses and the enduring vitality of the October revolution despite the degeneration wrought by Stalin. But we also know the limits of the strength of that revolution when it is compelled to fight within political limits acceptable to its capitalist “allies.” Stalin has wrested from the hands of the Red Army the political weapons of international revolution with which Lenin and Trotsky demoralized the enemy armies in the war of imperialist intervention. Victory appears to be approaching for the “democracies,” but that, if they have their way, will be no victory for the Soviet Union.

OUR PREDICTION ABOUT THE – “DEMOCRACIES” We feared and predicted this situation from the outset. In its manifesto, Defend the Soviet Union, the Socialist Workers Party wrote on June 23, 1941:

“The Soviet Union is now compelled by sad necessity to seek these alliances. That is necessitated by the isolation and weakness of the Soviet Union. What, however, shall be the attitude of the working class toward the Soviet Union’s capitalist allies?

“We warn the workers: the ’democratic’ ally is just as hostile to the nationalized property of the Soviet Union as is the fascist enemy. Roosevelt and Churchill will seek two things at the same time: the defeat of their German Imperialist rival and also to prevent the Soviet Union from strengthening itself through victory. Even at the cost of weakening their fight against their imperialist rival, Roosevelt and Churchill will try to hold down the world working class, including the Soviet Union ...

“The fundamental antagonism remains and will come to the fore precisely if the ’democracies’ begin to win ...

“Even during the course of the war, Churchill and Roosevelt, in the name of greater efficiency in the prosecution of the war, may attempt to intervene in the economic life of the Soviet Union. The already grave economic crisis in the USSR – caused by capitalist encirclement and the uncontrolled mismanagement of the bureaucrats – will grow ever more profound under the stress of war. The Kremlin bureaucracy will tend to yield to close collaboration with the ‘economic experts’ of Roosevelt and Churchill. For their ‘services’ the capitalists will demand immediate payment in the form of economic concessions which would undermine the nationalized property. It is unquestionable, we repeat, that the ‘democracies’ are just as anxious to destroy nationalized property as is Hitler.

“On guard against the capitalist allies of the Soviet Union! That is the only possible position of the real defenders of the Soviet Union: irreconcilable opposition to all the imperialist powers, whether ‘allies’ or enemies.” (Fourth International, July 1941.)

These words, written two years ago, require no modification on the second anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the USSR. On the contrary, our warning takes on new significance with every passing day. The Comintern dissolution undoubtedly marks a new stage in Stalin’s concessions to capitalism.

Party Building and Its Problems

JAMES P. CANNON’S BOOK ON ORGANIZATION We call the attention of our readers to our back-page announcement of the publication of James P. Cannon’s The Struggle for a Proletarian Party. It is a companion-volume to Trotsky’s In Defense of Marxism, the two of them constituting a well-nigh definitive account and analysis of the successful struggle of the Trotskyist movement, in 1939-40 against the revisionism of a petty-bourgeois opposition. The struggle, which began with an attempt to revise the Trotskyist position on the Soviet Union, involved in the course of its unfoldment the major political and organizational principles of Marxism. Cannon’s volume deals primarily with the organizational questions at issue. It is notable how little has been written down in this field during nearly a century of Marxist organizations; in large part the rich experience of the movement has been handed down as unwritten lore. In this case, however, the struggle against revisionism produced a body of writing by Comrade Cannon – a big pamphlet, letters written directing the struggle, resolutions formulating the principles at issue – which, we believe, quite apart from illumining the immediate controversy, has a permanent value as a guide-book on the organization question. The profound problems of human relations in a voluntary organization dedicated to a great historic task – this is really what is meant by the organization question, which is the traditional and not very happy designation for this field of revolutionary thought and experience. We unreservedly recommend this book to all our readers, for many of whom it will provide an avenue to ideas and problems which they have been able to glimpse only indirectly through the pages of Fourth International.

Top of page

Main FI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Trotskism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Last updated on 12.9.2008