From Fourth International, vol.5 No.7, July 1944, pp.197-199 & 204
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
CAPITALISM FACES THE THREAT OF REVOLUTION This month marks a year of downfall of the Mussolini regime and the unleashing of the forces of the Italian revolution.
The disintegration of the Italian army a year ago, the military catastrophes, the outburst of tremendous strikes throughout Italy’s industrial north, brought the Mussolini regime, and with it, the rule of the capitalists and landlords, to the brink of disaster. The ruling class dumped Mussolini and hastened to surrender to the Allies. They knew that only by the aid of foreign bayonets could they hope to prop up their disintegrating rule. The hope of all military resistance had ceased. There remained nothing left but to attempt to salvage the system of capitalism itself.
The masses of Italy, who a year ago rose up in their majesty and might, who took to the streets and ran the Fascists into holes and hiding places, desired not the perpetuation but the destruction of the rotten system of capitalism. They desired not the continuation of the imperialist war, but peace. They desired not the retention of power on the part of the old upper class capitalist and landlord scum, who for 20 years locked them in the vise of the fascist dictatorship, but the complete destruction of the rule of the exploiters and tyrants.
ALLIED AIM IS SUBJUGATION But from the very first day of Allied occupation of Sicily, up to the establishment of Allied control over Naples and occupation of Rome, the Anglo-American capitalist powers have revealed, so that today even the blind can see, that their real aim is to subjugate the peoples of Italy. They come not as liberators but as conquerors. They intend to establish themselves as imperial overlords over Italy and exploit for the greater wealth and power of the Wall Street and the Lombard Street bankers. They intend to prop up with their bayonets the same upper class scum who formed the warp and woof of Mussolini’s Fascist regime.
The Italian masses are learning today that the Allies are fighting the Nazis only to replace Nazi exploitation and tyranny with Anglo-American exploitation and tyranny.
The Italian masses demanded an end to the slaughter into which Mussolini had thrust them. Italy has been converted into an imperialist battleground.
PLIGHT OF MASSES WORSE THAN EVER The Italian masses wanted bread. Pietro Nenni, the Social-Democratic, pro-Allied leader of Rome, has just revealed what Allied rule has accomplished for Italy in this respect. “If eight or ten more Italian cities get into the state of Naples, where three-quarters of the citizens live by beggary, prostitution, peddling and black marketing, Italy will cease to exist,” stated Nenni.
Allied occupation of Rome has immediately brought similar “blessings” to its people. The cost of living in Rome which rose 749 percent between November 1940 and June 1944, registered a further sharp rise since the city has been taken over by the Allies. The daily food allotment for Italians in Naples under Allied rule is reputed to be the lowest in Europe, lower even than the food allotment in Warsaw under Nazi rule. The Italian masses are starving.
OLD RASCALS ARE KEPT IN POWER The Italian masses determined to wipe out root and branch every vestige of the butcher Fascist regime. Under Allied rule, the self-same rascals, crooks and profiteers who tyrannized over the Italian people for twenty years have been returned to power. The Allies shield the black shirts from the wrath and vengeance of the people, while they disarm the anti-fascists. Such is the sum and substance of Allied “liberation” of Italy.
From their own bitter experience, the 1talian masses are learning the stark reactionary aims of the Allied invaders. Their present disillusionment with the Allies will soon turn to hatred and then to ferocious opposition.
NAKED FORCE STILL RULES As for the native upper class landlord and capitalist cliques, the Italian masses were completely opposed to them even before the downfall of Mussolini. In its last years the Fascist regime was bereft of all mass support. Every institution associated with the Mussolini regime, the monarchy, etc., faced the hostile opposition of the popular masses. In its last period, the Mussolini regime could rule only as a naked military dictatorship. Since the downfall of the Mussolini regime, the Allies and their shadow governments are likewise forced to rule by naked force alone.
With the smash-up of the Mussolini regime, 1taly entered a revolutionary period. The revolution has by no means been smashed by the blows dealt it by the Allied and Nazi armies. Temporarily arrested, it is today again gaining strength, ready to march forth with redoubled determination and militancy to achieve the aims for which the Italian masses demonstrated in Milan and Turin one year ago. On June 15th the London Times correspondent wired his paper from Rome that “Persons who were recently in northern Italy say that the whole country is solidly Communist – both the peasants and the workmen in the towns.”
REVOLUTION HAS GATHERED NEW STRENGTH The political atmosphere in Italy is white hot. The masses are rapidly learning. They have not simply turned away from the institutions, political parties and political representatives who were smeared with direct support of the Fascist dictatorship, but have in large measure turned away even from the traditional capitalist parties and capitalist politicians of the Sforza-Croce stamp.
Of the six parties that comprise the Bonomi coalition government and the “Committee of National Liberation,” only the so-called working-class parties, the Stalinists and the Social-Democrats, have any significant mass following. The Sforzas and Croces continue to walk the political stage only by virtue of Allied support and because of the perfidy of the supposed representatives of the working class.
TREACHERY INSIDE LABOR’S RANKS Italy, as the testing-ground of the unfoldment of revolutionary events in Europe, has already revealed in most unambiguous fashion the utter treachery and perfidy of the traditional parties of the working class – the Social-Democrats and the Stalinists. The Social-Democrats, in line with the policies of the “yellow” Socialist International, have added in Italy one more working class sell-out to their already long list of betrayals of the European proletariat. It is the Stalinists, however, who exercise the most extensive influence over the Italian working class today. They dominate the so-called working class representatives both in the government and in the six-party coalition, the “Committee of National Liberation.”
From the very first days of the formation of the Badoglio government a year ago, the Committee of National Liberation, with the Stalinists playing the leading role, worked to deflect the working class revolutionary struggle, and used its influence and prestige to uphold the Badoglio government. They simply demanded that the Italian ruling clique change war partners and join the Allied camp.
STALINISTS IN VAN OF REACTION When the Badoglio government finally exhausted itself, it was the Stalinists, under direct instructions from the Kremlin, who stepped in to break the deadlock for reaction and strengthen the Badoglio government under a facade of a six-party “coalition” government. Today the Stalinists are in the vanguard campaigning for acceptance of the Allied “armistice” terms, which are reported to be more onerous and draconic than those Hitler imposed on prostrate France in 1940. Following their international role of policemen for world capitalism, the Stalinists in Italy have emerged as the very spearhead of reaction inside the working class movement.
The Italian masses want to get out of the imperialist war. The six-party coalition, under Stalinist leadership, tells the masses to enlist again in the army under the leadership of monarchical and Fascist generals to fight under the banner of the Anglo-American imperialists.
The Italian masses want bread, jobs and security. The six-party coalition under Stalinist leadership tells the masses to accept the Allied brigands’ “armistice” terms which aim to convert Italy into a colony of the Anglo-American powers.
LEADERS AND MASSES CLASH IN AIMS The Italian masses want to wipe out the rule of the Fascist scum, they want freedom and their democratic rights; they want to establish a new government genuinely representative of the people and one that will fight for their interests. The six-party coalition, under the leadership of the Stalinists, tells the masses to support the Bonomi shadow government which is nothing but a tool of the Allied powers, who are determined to re-establish the dictatorship of the rich.
The Italian masses want to wipe out the black market, to wipe out profiteering, they want bread. The six-party coalition under the leadership of the Stalinists confines itself to begging for a few crumbs from the Allies who are supporting and propping up the profiteers, the black market operations, the capitalist exploiters.
Masses learn quickly in revolutionary periods. In the white hot revolutionary Italy of today, the masses are sure to learn from their own experience that the Stalinist-dominated six-party coalition is an organization of treachery and betrayal At the next stage, the wrath and anger of the people will turn against these traitors.
NEED OF NEW PARTY BEING RECOGNIZED Already advanced groups of workers have come to the realization that it is necessary to create a new revolutionary party in Italy which will work to organize the Italian proletariat for revolutionary struggle against all their enemies and oppressors. The revolutionary working class party of Italy which is sure to arise and grow strong will be organized around the tested program and methods of Lenin and Trotsky, the program and methods of the great Russian revolution of 1917.
The revolutionary workers’ party of Italy will be a Trotskyist party, because Trotskyism is the only genuine Marxist Socialism today. The revolutionary workers’ party of Italy will challenge the Stalinists and their allies of the six-party coalition in every sphere and on every front. They will expose the crimes and treachery of these misleaders and point the road to the Socialist revolution.
MASSES WILL RALLY TO TROTSKYIST BANNER Against the Stalinist scheme to drag the 1talian masses more deeply into the holocaust of the imperialist war, the Trotskyists will unfurl the banner of the struggle against imperialism and imperialist war, the struggle for peace through socialism. Against the Stalinist proposal to kowtow before the Allied invaders, to accept their overlordship and become subservient tools of the Allied war camp, the Trotskyists will raise the cry to clear Italy of all imperialist invaders.
Against the Stalinist program of begging for crumbs from the Allies and the Italian capitalists, the Trotskyists will call the masses to struggle against the black market, against the profiteers and exploiters. They will urge the masses to organize their own working class consumers’ committees and by their own class action to fight for jobs, for lowering of prices, for destruction of the black market, for food control. Against the Stalinist program of begging the Allies and the Italian capitalists for jobs, of whining against unemployment, the Trotskyists will raise the demand of nationalization of all industry under workers control of production.
TROTSKYISTS WILL INSPIRE SELF-CONFIDENCE Against the Stalinist program of relying on the Allies to give the Italian people a “free” government “after the war,” the Trotskyists will teach the masses that only their own independent class organizations, only their workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ councils, only their own revolutionary struggle can win for the masses their democratic rights and provide them the opportunity to elect a government of their own choosing. Against the Stalinist program of Italy remaining under the rule of the capitalists and landlords, under the imperial overlordship of the Allies, the Trotskyists will explain that only a Socialist Italy can truly give peace, bread, and freedom to the Italian masses, that the only road to avoid enslavement and destruction, is the road of struggle for a Socialist Italy.
WILL FIND TRUE ALLIES IN EUROPEAN MASSES In this struggle the Italian masses will find allies, not in the Anglo-American rulers, who aim to convert Italy and its peoples into an exploited colony, not in the Italian capitalists and landlords, who have kneeled before the foreign invader in order to preserve their privileges and power, nor in the Sforzas, Bonomis, Social-Democrats and Stalinists who would deliver the Italian masses into the hands of their oppressors. The true allies of the Italian revolution are the insurgent masses of Europe, who like the Italians, aspire to drive out the old tyrants and exploiters, to destroy for all time imperialism and its wars, and to rebuild Europe on new socialist foundations. Arm in arm with these allies the Italian working class will fight for a Workers and Peasants Republic as an integral section of the Socialist United States of Europe.
THEIR “GUILT” AND THEIR SENTENCES On June 19, after a trial lasting six days at the Newcastle assizes, four British Trotskyists, members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, were sentenced to prison terms when found guilty on charges of “furthering, aiding and abetting” a strike of engineering trades apprentices on the Tyneside last March. Jock Haston, general secretary of the party, 32 years of age, was sent to prison for six months; Roy Tearse, 25, and Heaton Lee, 28, each received sentences of one year; Ann Keen, 29, got thirteen days. The convictions are being appealed. The prosecution was the first ever brought under the Trade Disputes Act of 1927. That Act was passed by the Tory government after the great general strike of 1926 and was designed to prevent a repetition of the upheaval which shook capitalist England to its foundations.
Specifically, the Act outlaws sympathetic strikes of any kind, likewise any strike which is not immediately occasioned by a dispute between striking workers and their own employers, and makes it a criminal offense to “instigate” or give support to such strikes.
“CONSPIRACY” CHARGES COLLAPSE AT TRIAL Into this latter category fell the Tyneside apprentices strike which was aimed at the Pit Ballot Scheme, introduced by Labor Minister Ernest Bevin, whereby apprentices and other workers were to be forcibly drafted for work in the coal mines. The Trotskyists were charged with “conspiring” to bring about the strike and with supporting the action once it had begun. The prosecution made a point of proving that the strike was directed, not against the apprentices’ employers, but against the enforcement of the Pit Ballot Scheme, in other words, against the government.
The “conspiracy” charge collapsed like a pricked bubble when the government’s own witnesses, apprentices who took part in the strike, testified that they had acted on their own independent decision and had been “instigated” by no one. They denounced the enslaving Pit Ballot Scheme in the courtroom and declared that they knew of no instance in which the arrested Trotskyist had urged strike action.
There was nothing the jury could do but acquit the defendants on the “conspiracy” charge. But they found them guilty of “furthering, aiding and abetting” the strike. The Trotskyist proudly admitted their role in aiding the strikers, which was their elementary socialist duty. It was for this that they were sent to prison.
REAL CONSPIRATORS IN GOVERNMENT Instead of being able to convict the Trotskyist of a “conspiracy,” the Tory government of Churchill-Bevin found itself publicly convicted of this charge. The Tyne apprentices strike and the great strikes of coal miners which occurred about the same time, reflected the rebellion of the workers against intolerable conditions. Britain’s coal industry under capitalist ownership and management has long been in a state of chronic chaos and decline, with productivity falling from month to month. The Churchill-Bevin “solution” was to draft men for work in the mines. But the apprentices, with their careers at stake, rebelled at this Hitlerian forced labor scheme. The miners, with grievances accumulated over the years, went on strike. Both want an end to capitalist mismanagement. The cry, “Nationalize the Mines!” was heard again. But that’s something a capitalist government will never do.
Affrighted by the mounting wave of working-class militancy, and remembering the general strike of 1926, Churchill-Bevin looked around for scapegoats and for a means to hold back the tide of revolt. While Bevin promulgated his new Defense Regulation 1-A(a) in order to strengthen the Trade Disputes Act by making any strike in any war-essential industry illegal – the Tory press went sleuthing in a search for “sinister underground influences” behind the strike movement, for “secret funds from abroad,” for a master revolutionary “conspiracy” directed against Britain’s imperialist war.
Helped by the Stalinist traitors, the British ruling class did not require very long to “discover” that it was the Trotskyists who were back of all the trouble. And it was upon their shoulders that Churchill-Bevin sought to saddle responsibility for the wave of strikes caused by the mismanagement of the ruling class. This was the real conspiracy. It failed.
MASS SUPPORT FOR THE ARRESTED The British workers, recognizing in the Trotskyists the advance guard of their movement, the consistent, never-flagging champions of their class interests, sprang to their aid. They condemned the prosecution and demanded the release of the prisoners. They assisted in setting up a defense committee. They contributed funds for its work. This movement of class solidarity even spread to sections of the army. Soldiers have passed resolutions protesting the persecution of the Trotskyists and defending the workers’ right to strike.
The Tory-capitalist attack on the Trotskyist, the fact that they were railroaded to prison under the Trade Disputes Act, is indicative of the sharpening of the class struggle in England. The Trade Disputes Act remained in desuetude for seventeen years. It was a weapon kept in reserve by the British ruling’ class for just such situations as that which developed last March – a rising wave of strikes threatening to develop into a general strike.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ATTACK The fact that it has been used now, for the first time, is striking testimony to the growing militancy of the British workers and the revolutionary tendencies which that militancy reveals. It confirms, too, the progressive revolutionary role of the Trotskyists in the British labor movement. Selection of the Trotskyists as the first target of ruling-class counterattack was no accident. It was deliberate and calculated. “There is the enemy!” Churchill-Bevin must have said to themselves.
They are right. In the further unfolding of the class struggle in England, the workers in ever greater numbers will come to recognize in the Trotskyists the only real leaders of the fight against capitalism and its Tory-labor coalition government. They will march forward to their socialist victory under the revolutionary banner of the Fourth International.
PREMATURE FEARS OF STALIN’S “SOVIETIZATION” When, at the beginning of last April, the Red Army crossed the river Pruth to enter Rumania – its first incursion into foreign territory in the present war – the capitalist world displayed symptoms of nervousness and apprehension. There were copious references in the bourgeois press to an alleged Stalinist plan to “sovietize” Europe.
Among other things, they overlooked, or simply forgot, the Roosevelt-Churchill-Stalin conferences at Teheran. The proceedings of those conferences, and the decisions reached, have never been published. But through the Forrest Davis and Demaree Bess articles in the Saturday Evening Post, obviously inspired by Roosevelt himself, the world has been vouchsafed an inkling of what took place – of the nature of the discussions, the decisions reached, and the pledges given and received. The most important of these pledges was undoubtedly given by Stalin to the heads of the two big imperialist states. He confirmed what had already been implicit in his policies for a long time, namely, his desire to live at peace with the capitalist world and to integrate the Soviet Union into the “family of nations.”
STALIN FULFILLS REACTIONARY PLEDGE He not only repudiated any intention of trying to “Sovietize” Europe, but pledged all his efforts to uphold capitalism and to sabotage and oppose every attempt by the workers to bring about a socialist revolution. This pledge was sincere. It was motivated by the same fear of revolution which haunts the “democratic” imperialists.
Rumania has been the first testing ground of the counter-revolutionary policy of the Kremlin in Europe since the outbreak of the imperialist war. When the Red Army crossed the Pruth, Molotov, Stalin’s foreign commissar, reaffirmed Stalin’s Teheran pledge with the statement: “The Soviet Government declares it does not pursue the aim of acquiring Rumanian territory or of altering the existing social structure of Rumania.” Three months of occupation of the northern corner of Rumania by the Red Army bears this out. Foreign newspaper correspondents were permitted to visit the territory early this month. Their findings were reported by Associated Press correspondent Henry C. Cassidy, who said it was “the unanimous opinion of American, British and Chinese observers that the Russians are not interfering in any way with the political, economic or social life of Rumania.”
The details of the picture, filled in by Cassidy, were most illuminating. All the old reactionary officials of the semi-fascist regime have been confirmed in their offices, including prefectural heads and mayors of the towns. Capitalist private property and the estates of the landowners have not been disturbed and “order” is being maintained by the Red Army and the Rumanian officials. Stalin has thus assigned the Red Army, the great liberating army of Socialism founded by Lenin and Trotsky, the ignominious role of gendarme of bourgeois property rights.
OUT-HERODS ALLIES IN OPPRESSION Nor is this all. Cassidy tells us that “local laws, including those with anti-Semitic provisions, are left unchanged ... This attitude is applied even to the Rumanian act outlawing the Communist Party, which remains on the books.” In thus preserving the vilest of the totalitarian filth of the semi-fascist Rumanian regime, the Kremlin clique out-Herods the Allied imperialists, for one of the first acts of the Allied Military Government in Italy was to nullify the anti-Semitic laws imposed by Mussolini’s Fascist government and legalize the opposition parties, including the Communist Party.
RUMANIAN POLICY SETS A PATTERN It is not surprising, as Cassidy states, that the capitalists and landlords of northern Rumania are highly gratified by Stalin’s protective policies. The Chamber of Commerce at Botosani expressed delighted appreciation of Stalin’s “respect for our laws.”
The correspondent apparently did not take the trouble to inquire what the poverty-stricken, war-weary masses of Rumania think of all this. Nevertheless, the workers and peasants have feelings and ideas. For many years they have struggled to free themselves from capitalist-landlord oppression. Stalin’s alliance with their class enemies will surely open their eyes to the counter-revolutionary character of the ruling bureaucratic clique in the Soviet Union. But it will not halt their struggle for a socialist future.
Kremlin policy in Rumania sets a pattern for the practices to be pursued in every other country where the Red Army sets foot – unless the Soviet bureaucracy is overthrown. Under different circumstances, it has already unfolded in Italy, where the Stalinists, on orders from the Kremlin, have stepped forth as the principal supporters of the monarchy and its rotten police-military dictatorship.
AIMS UTOPIAN AND REACTIONARY
Stalin is pursuing a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, he is trying to erect dykes against the rising tide of socialist revolution, for such a revolution anywhere, but particularly in a country bordering the Soviet Union, would endanger the Stalin regime by encouraging the Soviet workers to struggle against it. On the other hand, he hopes to neutralize capitalist hostility to the Soviet Union by helping the capitalists to defend their property interests, by openly siding with the forces of reaction against the forces of revolution. Additionally, by befriending the capitalists in adjacent lands, he aims to create a circle of states “friendly” to the Soviet Union and thus erect a counter-weight to the great Anglo-American imperialist coalition, which, after the defeat of Germany, will be in a position to exercise enormous pressure on the land of the Soviets.
The plan is both utopian and reactionary. The capitalists may and do accept Stalin’s vile services. With his methods they have much in common. But this does not in any way lessen their basic hostility toward the Soviet Union. The capitalist world and the new socialist world whose beginnings are represented by the Soviet nationalized economy will remain in irreconcilable antagonism to one another. This antagonism can be resolved only by the restoration of capitalist private property in the Soviet Union, or by the defeat and liquidation of world capitalism. Meanwhile, Stalin betrays both the Soviet Union and the world working-class by his reactionary policies. The only real defense of the Soviet Union is the extension of the socialist revolution. In betraying the socialist struggle of the workers, Stalin deprives the Soviet Union of its greatest shield and armor.
Let us repeat again: Defense of the Soviet Union and the fight for a socialist world demands a never-flagging struggle against Stalin and the Kremlin clique, and their agents and supporters throughout the world.
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