From Fourth International, vol.6 No.3, March 1945, pp.67-73.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
The Crimean conference has further reinforced the sinister alliance of the Kremlin bureaucracy with Anglo-American imperialism. The “Big Three” have further perfected at Yalta their ghoulish schemes to bleed the German people, to reduce Europe to the status of a wretched beggar, to carve up the ruined continent into spheres of influence of the respective three giant powers.
It is clear that the foreign policy of the Kremlin ruling caste has undergone profound change in the past two years with the emergence of the Soviet Union as the first military power of Europe. Stalinist foreign policy was for two decades an essentially defensive one. Stalin gave voice to this outlook of the bureaucracy in 1936 in a statement which became the official formula of Soviet foreign policy: “We don’t want an inch of foreign land, but we will not surrender an inch of our own ... Let them keep their snouts out of our Socialist garden.” The Stalinist bureaucracy, despite its braggadocio, was only too well aware of the USSR’s industrial inferiority to the western powers, especially Germany and the United States. The bureaucracy was in the main characterized by the qualities of conservatism and national exclusiveness. It feared the western powers, for twenty years its foreign policy was dominated by its dread of war and its determination to avoid it. Having lost all faith in the working class revolution, the bureaucracy attempted to secure the Soviet Union, insofar as that was necessary to secure itself, by embarking on a course of alliances with the “democratic” imperialists, supplemented with the organization of pacifist congresses and people’s fronts. From the setting up of the Peasant International and the creation of the Anglo-Russian trade union committee right up to its joining the League of Nations and the signing of pacts with France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, its foreign policy was dominated by this one pervading thought of avoiding war. The bureaucracy ruled uneasily and was uncertain of its ability to maintain power through the rigors of a big war or the ability of the Soviet Union to survive in battle against major powers.
Stalin’s peace policy collapsed ignominiously, we know, in 1938. Frightened by the Four-Power Pact at Munich directed against the Soviet Union, Stalin reversed his diplomatic course and turned frantically to Nazi Germany. By his pact with Hitler, he gave German imperialism the green light to proceed against Poland. The Stalin-Hitler Pact provided the signal for the second world war. But all of Stalin’s treacherous maneuvers and ghastly betrayals of the world working class proved impotent in securing his main aim – peace for the USSR. It was the Soviet Union that for more than three years was converted into the main battlefield of the war.
THE EVENTS OF 1941 The events of 1941 are still fresh in everybody’s memory. We remember how in all the chancelleries and military staffs of the world they thought that the Red Army would collapse three or at most six months after Hitler’s attack. The poor showing of Red Army troops in the Finnish war only strengthened the conviction of the diplomats and military experts that the annihilation of the Red Army was only a question of time. We Trotskyists were the only ones who had any real appreciation of the inherent strength of the Soviet Union; we were the only ones who fully understood that the Russian Revolution, though stifled and desecrated, was still not completely destroyed; that the nationalized economy and planned production would reveal herculean powers in war just as they had previously been revealed in the course of the Five Year plans in peace. In 1939 Trotsky predicted that an attack on the Soviet Union would most likely unleash a wave of Soviet patriotism.
The imperialists thought otherwise. Both Hitler and the Allied imperialists believed that the Kremlin purges, massacres, famines, the GPU brutality and tyranny had so exhausted the country, evoked such embitterment among the masses and kindled such hatred against the bloody ruling caste that the masses would not and could not struggle effectively against a powerful invader.
Our estimate, it is now clear, was the only correct one. We Trotskyists, in truth, had far more faith in the Soviet Union and its powers of resistance than the Kremlin bureaucracy itself. But even we, it must be admitted, did not fully comprehend the tremendous resources inherent in nationalized planned economy. The Soviet Union proved capable of absorbing gigantic defeats and the unparalleled destruction’ of its industries and lands, and still retained the vitality to re-gird its loins for battle and rebuild its military force. The Red Army stands today, as much to the surprise of the Kremlin ruling caste as to the imperialists, as the most powerful offensive force in Europe, with its spearheads on the outskirts of Berlin. An unprecedented, an almost miraculous achievement!
The repulse of the Nazi military machine and the emergence of the Soviet Union as a first rate military power enormously heightened the appetite of the greedy Kremlin oligarchy. Where previously in 1939 they thought in terms of eastern Poland, the Baltics, Finnish Karelia, they now envisage their influence stretching over all of eastern Europe and Germany. Soviet foreign policy has lost every vestige of its former isolationism and defensiveness and is becoming aggressively expansionist and adventurist.
The Anglo-American imperialists were at first seriously alarmed at the ambitious Stalinist designs and moved to oppose these grandiose pretensions. But after much vacillation and indecision, they finally resolved to recognize reality, base them. selves on the new relationship of forces and modify their diplomacy in accordance with it. The western imperialists were able to overcome their previous fears, accept Stalin as a third partner and in business-like manner arrange with him a division of the spoils because among the three there existed a common ground on the all-important, the fundamental question-suppression of revolutionary upheavals in Europe and throughout the world, and employment of their joint military forces to prop up and preserve decaying capitalism.
HEINOUS CONSPIRACY AT YALTA The “Big Three” criminals wove their heinous conspiracy against humanity first at Moscow, then at Teheran. And now at Yalta they have sealed their conspiracy in blood – the blood of the Polish and Greek insurgents. Greece especially provided a terrifying illustration of the present effectiveness of this combination: the imperialists moved in to crush the mass revolt by naked military force and the native Stalinist agents betrayed the movement from within. Moreover the Red Army, an instrument in the hands of the counter-revolutionary Kremlin caste, is now being more and more directly used to suppress and strangle popular movements and uprisings in Rumania, Bulgaria and the rest of eastern Europe and to artificially bolster the discredited rule of the capitalists.
Foreign policy, Marxists know, is an extension of domestic politics. The censorship conceals much of the true situation that exists inside the USSR but the bits of information that come through make it unmistakable that here too important changes are taking place in every sphere of Soviet life. Politically, it has been clear for some time, the bureaucracy has gone the limit in effacing the remains of the October revolution. It has destroyed the Bolshevik party, the Soviets, the trade unions, the generation of leaders and fighters who made the October revolution. The bureaucracy is a totalitarian caste that employs the political methods of the Fascist regimes. Economically, nationalized property and planned economy – the gigantic conquests of the October revolution still remain and it is on this material basis that the oligarchy is still compelled to rule. We have long been aware, however, that even in this sphere the tendency has been away from Socialist planning and development and in the direction of capitalist anarchy. Trotsky analyzed the process with a wealth of statistical detail as far back as 1936 in his work The Revolution Betrayed and even earlier.
Despite the fact that the Stalinist bureaucracy rules in the manner of an Asiatic despotism, it cannot convert itself into a stable ruling class unless private property is restored in the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly at least a section of the bureaucracy, if not the whole, is seriously thinking in these terms and has such a perspective. The country is today devastated; millions of the flower of Soviet manhood are dead or wounded; a great section of Soviet industry is destroyed and innumerable cities as well as great sections of the countryside lie in ruins. Despite its appearance of unlimited strength, the Soviet Union is debilitated as a result of the war and is essentially weaker in relation to the capitalist world. Stalin envisages entering into close economic relations with the imperialist powers and securing huge long term loans to rebuild the shattered economy. Undoubtedly among large sections of the top bureaucracy, the determination is increasing to go the whole way in removing all obstacles toward achieving amicable relations with the imperialists by restoring capitalism inside the Soviet Union. At the same time the bureaucrats hope to legitimatize their present unstable position and emerge as a fully legal and avowed capitalist property owning class.
What changes have been wrought in the economy as a result of the stresses and strains of the war? What changes have occurred in the position and situation of the ruling caste, which has arrogated additional new privileges for itself and further raised itself above the population in the course of the war? What is the true present status of the planned economy and what changes has it undergone as a result of the war? These are all questions of enormous importance and now require close examination and study in order to arrive at the most precise analysis of the exact degree and tempo of the degeneration of the Soviet state.
MILITARY DEFENSE OF USSR The American Trotskyist movement has been closely watching these momentous developments. Many months ago it came to the conclusion that the question of military defense of the Soviet Union against the attack of the imperialists was receding into the background and that the burning question of the day was the defense of the European revolution from the attacks of the imperialists and the Kremlin bureaucracy and its agencies. The fight to defend the Soviet Union against the military onslaught of Nazi imperialism had essentially been won. The new reality in Europe was the beginning of the European revolution, the military occupation of the continent by the Anglo-American and Red Army troops and the conspiracy of the imperialists and the Kremlin bureaucracy to strangle the revolution. The shift in tactics was formally embodied in the resolution of the Socialist Workers Party on the European Revolution adopted by the Eleventh Convention of the American Trotskyist movement and explained by the editors in the December 1944 Fourth International.
This tactical shift carried with it a corollary one. The Trotskyist program has since 1936 embodied the position that it is necessary for the Soviet masses to organize a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist ruling caste – a political and not a social revolution, as the revolution would preserve the economic groundwork; only the marauding bureaucracy would be wiped out and replaced with the rule of the Soviets. Such a political revolution, declared the Trotskyist program, was indispensable for the preservation of the Soviet Union and for the further development of Socialist construction. Failing this, the Soviet Union would inevitably slide back into capitalist channels either through internal counter-revolution or external intervention or a combination of both.
With Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union, we pushed to the fore our slogan of unconditional defense of the Soviet Union against imperialist attack, subordinating our struggle for the overthrow of Stalin to the needs of military defense. We called on the Soviet masses to continue their political struggle against the Stalin regime and prepare the forces for its political overthrow; but to conduct the struggle in such a manner as not to injure the need: of Soviet defense. Today, with the altered objective situation, with the question of military defense off the agenda of the day, the section of our program which calls for the organization on the part of the Soviet masses of a political revolution to overthrow the Stalin regime again comes to the fore. In the words of the SWP resolution:
“The Bolshevik fighters inside the Soviet Union face the paramount task of organizing the revolutionary forces to oust Stalin and his arch-reactionary gang and to restore the Soviet Union on the principles of its founders, Lenin and Trotsky ... We call on the Soviet workers to organize the forces for the revolutionary overthrow of the oligarchy in the Kremlin and set up a genuine Soviet democracy as the essential condition for the preservation of the Soviet Union and of socialist construction.”
The destruction of the Stalinist oligarchy – that is now a life and death question for the Soviet Union.
EVOLUTION OF KREMLIN CLIQUE A number of other weighty questions are connected with the problem of the present pro-capitalist evolution of the Kremlin ruling caste. There is the position of the masses of eastern Europe and now of eastern Germany whose countries are under Red Army occupation. In 1939 Trotsky analyzed the significance of the then Red Army occupation of eastern Poland, the Baltic states and Finland and laid down a course of revolutionary action for the Fourth International. As events have so brilliantly confirmed, only Trotsky, on the basis of his analysis of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers state, was able to evaluate correctly the happenings in eastern Europe and consequently provide the revolutionary vanguard with a correct guiding line. In substance, Trotsky said that it was most likely that the Kremlin bureaucracy would have to nationalize property in the process of absorbing eastern Poland and the Baltics, because it could not tolerate inside its own borders a rival ruling class of capitalist property owners. Trotsky predicted that the Red Army occupation would provide a bureaucratic impulse towards civil war and the expropriation of the property of the capitalists and landlords. This is precisely what occurred. The bureaucracy, of course, undertook this expropriation not out of allegiance to the Socialist program but because of its own needs to safeguard its caste privileges and power. No sooner did it accomplish its purpose of driving out the old ruling classes than it locked the masses in the deadly vise of the GPU. The unbridled tyranny and oppression practiced inside the Soviet Union was extended into the occupied territories.
Basing himself on the contradictory character of the Stalinist annexations, Trotsky proposed in 1939 that the revolutionary vanguard fight side by side with the insurgent workers and peasants and to that extent of the Red Army in seizing the factories and land, dividing the land among the peasants and the setting up of workers’ committees. At the same time the Trotskyists had the duty of warning the masses of Stalin’s arch-reactionary aims; conducting revolutionary propaganda in the spirit of hostility towards the Kremlin and its local agents and organizing the forces to prepare the revolutionary overthrow of Stalin at the next stage of developments. Trotsky wrote: “To know how to combine these two tasks or more precisely two sides of one and the same task – just this is Bolshevik politics.” Such was the tactical prescription laid down for the occupied territories by Trotsky in 1939.
The objective situation is far different in 1945, and demands therefore a different practical orientation. The Kremlin ruling caste far from providing a bureaucratic impulse to civil war in Rumania, Bulgaria, Poland and the other countries under Red Army occupation is brutally stifling every independent effort of the masses to overturn the rule of their capitalist exploiters and is using the Red Army troops to bolster the tottering rule of the capitalists. The Stalinist bureaucracy has moved rightward in such headlong fashion that the Red Army, which is its instrument, is now the main prop of capitalism in eastern Europe. Under these circumstances there can of course be no talk of the insurgent masses fighting side by side with the soldiers of the Red Army. The new tactics now dictated to the revolutionary vanguard in the countries under Red Army occupation are thus summarized in the SWP resolution:
“In the countries under Red Army occupation, the advanced workers will have to organize workers and peasants councils, factory committees, trade union bodies, etc. in a spirit of deepest distrust of the Stalinist agents. They will warn that Stalinist promises of fundamental reforms are lies. They will urge the masses to organize their independent actions to confiscate the landlords’ estates, to place factories under workers’ control, to arm the masses. In this independent activity of the masses lies the only guarantee for the success of the European revolution and its protection from the Stalinist hangmen.”
THE ONLY ROAD OUT
“Through these measures and in no other way, will the European masses be able to approach the Red Army soldiers and organize fraternization with them in order to protect the European revolution. Only in this way, and in no other, will the European proletariat be able to forge bonds of solidarity with the Red Army soldiers and the Soviet masses and help the latter settle accounts with the murderous Stalinist bureaucracy.”
The resolution further indicates that if Red Army troops move against the insurgent masses, we side with the revolting masses and their struggles. The attitude of the revolutionary vanguard toward the Red Army occupation troops in eastern Europe is thus essentially no different than its attitude toward Anglo-American troops in western Europe; except that in its propaganda and work of fraternization, it will take into consideration the different social basis of the USSR, the necessity of defending it against imperialism and the necessity of putting through in the USSR a political and not a social revolution against the Stalin regime.
The present far-reaching external policy of the Bonapartist bureaucracy raises a further question. The Red Army already occupies eastern Europe and parts of eastern Germany. Everywhere the Kremlin preserves the capitalist system and backs the old ruling classes. In 1939 Trotsky wrote that if
“the Moscow government leaves untouched the rights of private property in the occupied areas and limits itself to ‘control’ after the fascist pattern, such a concession would have a deep-going principled character and might become a starting point for a new chapter in the history of the Soviet regime; and consequently a starting point for a new appraisal on our part of the nature of the Soviet state.”
“War accelerates the various political processes. It may accelerate the process of the revolutionary regeneration of the USSR. But it may also accelerate the process of its final degeneration. For this reason it is indispensable that we follow painstakingly and without prejudice these modifications which war introduces into the internal life of the USSR so that we may give ourselves a timely accounting of them.”
The present control of the Kremlin ruling caste over half a dozen capitalist countries, the Kremlin policy of upholding the capitalist status-quo in contrast to their 1939 policy in eastern Poland and the Baltics plus the imposition of savage reparations and a system of slave labor for the conquered peoples must perforce produce the profoundest changes inside the Soviet Union itself and in the position of its ruling gang. The SWP resolution correctly states that “the present transition period cannot long endure.” The Soviet Union stands on the verge of far-reaching developments – the developments which will affect profoundly the course of the class struggle and the tactics of the Fourth International.
For all these reasons it is now imperative to study very closely the developments inside the Soviet Union and to arrive at as precise an analysis as possible of the degree of degeneration of the workers’ state and the tempo of developments. In this way the revolutionary vanguard will at all times be properly armed and able to adjust its tactical course in consonance with the actual changes in the objective situation.
The Yalta conference closed amid jubilation over the “complete accord” among the victory-flushed Anglo-American imperialists and their ally in the Kremlin. But the peoples of the world, whether they emerge in the camp of the victors or the vanquished, have no cause whatever for joy. While the decisions of the “Big Three” remain cloaked with impenetrable secrecy as were all their previous agreements, their actions have long ago testified that the only charter sponsored by them is the charter of the counter-revolution. Their common goal is not to promote progress, freedom and prosperity but to perpetuate reaction, slavery and degradation in a world moving towards savagery.
If the scope of secret diplomacy in the Second World War has surpassed all previous performances in this field, it is because of the enormity of the conspiracy that is being consummated behind the backs of the masses. The sum and substance of this conspiracy is to deprive the peoples of the world of any voice in determining their own fate. Left to their own volition, the war-tortured masses of Europe would swiftly and unfailingly embrace Socialism as the only way out of the bloody morass of capitalism. Tendencies to transform the imperialist war into the struggle for the abolition of capitalist rule and of capitalist property forms manifested themselves early in the second world war. This was the meaning in its initial stages of the civil war that flared in Yugoslavia in 1941. This was implicit in the downfall of Italian fascism. The same trend manifested itself in France, Rumania and Bulgaria, and most recently in Greece. With the collapse of Hitler’s regime, the mightiest force for Socialism on the European continent – the multimillion-headed proletariat of Germany – would be set in motion and would invest the unfolding European revolution with irresistible force. The three conspirators at Crimea know this. Their main objective is to atomize the forces of the German working class, clamp its dismembered sections in the vise of tri-partite military occupation and drown in blood every attempt of independent action on the part of the masses. With the main detachment of the Socialist revolution in Europe thus paralyzed, they hope, with the aid of the treacherous Stalinist and Social Democratic leadership to demoralize all the other revolutionary sectors and to bleed them white in a series of isolated battles, patterned after Churchill’s recent bestial exploits in Greece.
PLANS FOR GERMAN DISARMAMENT The plans for the disarmament of Germany agreed upon at Yalta are, of course, cynically presented as safeguards of peace. There is nothing pacifist about them. The impelling considerations are to deliver the country to the mercy of the imperialist “democracies” by robbing it of every possibility of resistance and self-defense. The barb of this “disarmament” is aimed primarily at the German masses whom the “Big Three” intend to disarm at all costs. Against the insurgent workers Churchill and Roosevelt will not hesitate for a moment to place armaments at the disposal of the Nazis, with whom the American military authorities have been so brazenly collaborating in the occupied areas.
Least of all will this measure bring alleviation so far as the monstrous burden of militarism is concerned. After the first world war Germany remained completely disarmed for almost a decade and a half. This did not lead to a diminution in world expenditures on armaments. On the contrary, larger sums were expended on armies, navies and armaments after the Versailles Peace than in the era of the armament race which preceded the war of 1914-1918. The peak year of that era was 1913. If the monetary values spent on armaments in 1913 are set at 100, we shall find that the index for 1925 amounts to 135, climbing to 157 in 1929 and soaring in 1936 to 350, or three and a half times that of 1913. The growth of militarism is inseparable from capitalist decay. It constitutes a striking confirmation of Lenin’s analysis that capitalism breeds war. It ought to be added that this intolerable growth of militarism was one of the causes of the dislocation and paroxysm of world economy in the twenties and thirties. To get rid of militarism it is necessary to sever its capitalist roots.
A peace treaty can prove just as destructive, if not more so, than the war which preceded. The economic pillage of Germany, projected at Yalta, should it be realized in life, will bring this truth home with crushing force. Leon Trotsky pointed out during the first world war that Europe is “not only a geographic term but a certain economic and cultural-historic community.” Germany is the most advanced component part of this economic organism. The bulk of Europe’s productive apparatus is concentrated on her territories. The greatest productive force in Europe is the German working class. How can Europe survive, let alone successfully undertake reconstruction, if these are decimated?
The problems of reconstruction after the first world war appear insignificant compared to the problems and tasks that lie ahead. Each day brings new reports of famine spreading throughout Europe. In France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Greece – everywhere millions face slow death by starvation. The threat of epidemics looms more and more starkly. Anne O’Hare McCormick provides in New York Times, March 5, the following glimpse of how the accumulated labor of centuries is being reduced to heaps of rubble:
“Mittel-Europa is being turned into a zone of desolation ... This picture (of ruin) is repeated in practically every European country ... And we haven’t yet beheld the worst. Budapest and Vienna are skeletons and Germany will be a cemetery of dead cities ... There is no precedent for such wreckage of industrial plant, communications systems, urban life and social order, and we do not know what the sequel will be or to what extent post-war plans based on old preconceptions will have to be revised. To anyone who has looked into the chaos, most of these plans seem to contemplate the world that was instead of the world that will be. All the victorious countries are counting on ‘reparations in kind,’ for instance, while German machinery is going up in smoke.”
WORK OF RECONSTRUCTION The work of reconstruction will have to be carried on in a world fearfully impoverished by the war, a war which is estimated by the authoritative New York Times as a trillion dollar enterprise. This astronomical sum is more than three times the estimated national wealth of the United States. But even that sum does not include the huge amounts of fixed capital destroyed when entire cities, industrial and mining areas, agricultural inventory, livestock, etc., were laid waste. It fails to take into account the casualties, especially among skilled workers, the wear and tear of the productive plant still in operation, the additional losses which must be incurred in reconversion to peacetime production, not to mention the damage suffered by world economy through the diversion of scores of millions from consumer goods production to the production of the means of destruction. In these circumstances, even with planned production, impossible under capitalism, it will take years to restore European economy to pre-war levels.
The American and English imperialists are least of all concerned with the restoration of Europe. England’s primary consideration is to retain her colonial empire. The United States has embarked on world conquest. The American Trotskyists have consistently warned:
“Today, the Allies, under the hegemony of Wall Street, enter Europe as the new imperialist overlords. For their part, they aim not to unify Europe but to keep it Balkanized. The Allied imperialists do not desire the revival of European economy to a competitive level. On the contrary, the program of the Allies calls for the dismemberment of the continent to render impossible the revival of an economically strong Europe. Their program of dismemberment, despoliation and political oppression can only deepen Europe’s ruination.” (Resolution of the Socialist Workers Party European Revolution and Tasks of the Revolutionary Party, adopted November 1944.)
Events are bringing their verification of the correctness of this analysis. Yalta is the banner of the counter-revolution. Here the seal was set on Europe’s doom. Here Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin arrived at a division of labor in their program to crush all opposition of the insurgent masses to this death-sentence. The completion of the process of Europe’s ruination already far advanced – that is their avowed charter for the agonized continent.
Stalinism emerges from the Crimea Conference as the hangman of the revolutionary workers. The gory handiwork of the Noskes and Scheidemanns who after the last war shot down in Germany tens of thousands of followers of Liebknecht and Luxemburg, is this time entrusted to the Kremlin and its agents.
In return for this, Roosevelt and Churchill have underwritten the territorial booty that the Kremlin grabbed as a result of its 1939 pact with Hitler, along with spheres of influence in eastern Europe and the Balkans. In addition Stalin has been promised his share in the looting of Germany.
STALINIST METHODS In the period preceding Soviet involvement in the war the Stalinist bureaucracy sought to solve the great problems with its hand-to-mouth methods. They were sure they could escape war. And so they sought for every avenue – from “peace congresses,” “non-aggression pacts,” entry into the League of Nations, etc., etc., down to a “peace pact” with Hitler. This escapist policy instead of safeguarding the USSR served only to isolate the country and utterly expose it to the fullest blow of German imperialism, under conditions and at a time chosen by the enemy. Now faced with the incredible tasks of reconstruction, which in large measure arise as a consequence of the previous policy, the Kremlin still fumbling empirically grasps as a panacea – at what? At the very solution attempted by none other than Clemenceau who once promised to rebuild France, likewise at the expense of Germany. Clemenceau’s scheme appeared much more feasible at the time inasmuch as the havoc in France was relatively limited, while Germany then emerged with far fewer losses, with her territories, cities and plants unravaged by direct military operations and, in other respects, in a condition infinitely superior to the existing one. Yet victorious France of 1918 found herself unable to squeeze out more than a fraction of the stipulated reparations. With Clemenceau’s 1918 policy Stalin who demands – and requires – much more will get much less, if he ever collects.
Furthermore, Germany after Versailles lost far more than France ever gained. This quickly exhausted the defeated country, rendering further payments out of the question. The end results this time will be the same, except that the stage of Germany’s complete insolvency will be reached even sooner. In any case, were Stalin to loot every remaining resource on German soil, it would not suffice to restore devastated Soviet agriculture and industry.
But Stalin was never primarily concerned with the economic well-being of the masses inside or outside the USSR. His policy has unfailingly been determined by entirely different considerations, namely: the subordination of everything else to the interests of preserving his regime, and the power and privileges of the usurping Soviet bureaucracy. Stalin knows that this regime could never maintain itself in the face of a successful German revolution.
But it is precisely the Soviet Union which will be the first to suffer the effects of a crushed German revolution. Nationalized property, collectivized agriculture, planned economy have all been deeply undermined by the war. They can be stabilized only on the basis of the economic unification of the continent, first and foremost, central Europe, and the Socialist collaboration of all its peoples. Failing this, the restoration of capitalism is inevitable in the USSR; and with that an equally inevitable worsening of the economic plight of the population.
STAKE OF AMERICAN WORKERS What is the stake of the American workers in the Yalta conference? A peace involving the ruination of Germany, which in turn entails the ruination of Europe, directly affects the American people. The second world war and the destructive peace can, unless the Socialist revolution intervenes, lead only to the complete disruption of the world market, with disastrous consequences on domestic trade, far transcending those of the past. What can the capitalists, who produce solely for profits, sell to a ruined Europe or to the rest of a pauperized world? Far from being offered “60,000,000 jobs,” the American workers will be plunged into a situation in which the day of the Hoovervilles and breadlines of the ‘thirties will seem by comparison like good times.
Wall Street seeks to transform the American people into the executioners and enslavers of the European toilers. Karl Marx long ago warned that no nation that enslaves others can ever remain free itself. If the American workers participate or even remain indifferent to the plans for Europe’s enslavement, not only will they become accessories of the greatest criminals in history, but will leave themselves helpless before the tyrants at home who are bending all efforts to Prussianize every aspect of American life.
The peace plotted at Crimea can only plunge the proletariat on both sides of the Atlantic into deepest misery. The welfare of the American workers is inextricably bound up with the fate of the European revolution. Its enemies are our enemies.
The process of mass radicalization as the direct consequence of the second world war is by no means limited to war-torn Europe. Significant signs of it have been for some time now discernible in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Canada. One of its elementary expressions is the growth of unionization. The labor movement in Canada has grown apace.
The Canadian CIO numbers in its ranks more than a quarter of a million, a membership exceeding that of the Canadian Trades and Labor Congress (AFL) in 1920 and representing almost a fivefold increase in the last five years for the CIO unions. The AFL has likewise registered a proportionate growth. Canada has never known an organized labor movement of such scope and power.
The growth of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) expresses this mass radicalization in the political field. In unprecedented numbers. Canadian workers have recorded their complete break with the native capitalist parties. Especially significant is the fact that the soldier vote for the CCF candidates in wartime elections represents a higher percentage than in the civilian vote.
These developments almost automatically pose the question of what the developments in the United States would be, with its far more powerful labor movement, if the workers here were given the same opportunity as in Canada to vote for a party of their own in direct opposition to the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties.
The opposition of the Canadian masses to the war is hardly a secret. From the outset this opposition acted to restrain the authorities from sending conscript troops abroad. With the growing war weariness the opposition has tended to assume increasingly sharper forms. The number of Canadian soldiers AWOL is admittedly large, the latest estimate being more than 6,000. The soldiers have other ways of demonstrating their feelings. According to Canada’s Tory leader John Bracken it is the custom of drafted men to throw their arms and equipment overboard upon sailing.
Recent dispatches from Canada tell of sharp clashes between the populace and military authorities in search of draft evaders. Canadian students and youth in general are evincing less and less enthusiasm to shed their blood for the glory and profit of Canadian capitalism and the British empire.
OPPOSITION IN CANADA During the first world war militant opposition likewise manifested itself. But it was primarily restricted to the French Canadian population with a long tradition of revolt against British rule. This was the main source of opposition in the initial period of the second world war. The striking fact is that such is no longer the case. Oppositional elements are today strong among the English Canadians as well. As a matter of fact, the bitterest conflicts over the draft have occurred precisely among the latter.
Conditions of ripening social crisis invariably act to polarize the population. The camps that grow are those on the left and on the right. The intermediate formations tend to disappear. In Canada the first stage of this polarization is clearly observable. The ground is slipping beneath the Mackenzie King government which seeks to straddle or compromise issues. It is caught between the leftward moving masses and the capitalist die-hards.
The Canadian Tories, alarmed at the growing class consciousness of the masses are seeking a showdown. They have administered a cruel blow to the regime by defeating in a recent by-election General McNaughton, who is the Defense Minister. Fearing defeat in the national elections, Prime Minister King has prorogued the Canadian parliament for a month, in the hope that the hostilities in Europe may terminate by that time.
But this will halt neither the leftward swing of the masses, nor the determination of Canadian reactionaries to check it by the use of the sharpest measures at their command.
The program of the CCF is far from revolutionary. It is the “respectable” program of reforms and does not transcend the framework of capitalism. But the pressure of the unfolding conflict is bearing down with full fury on this movement. How far the CCF will go depends not on the wishes of the present cowardly leadership but on the degree of self-action achieved by the masses. The more confident and demanding the latter become the more surely and easily will they move on the road to socialist solutions.
The coming elections, which cannot be indefinitely postponed, will provide a significant measure of the crisis. The Events in Canada are of especial importance because they will be mirrored on the morrow and on a much vaster scale across the border where similar processes are taking place at a slower tempo.
Coincident with the latest secret conclave of the “Big Three” in Crimea, a World Trade Union Conference on February convened in London. The initiative for this conference came from the British union chieftains. In addition to the latter, the main delegations came from the camp of the so-called “United Nations.” Among those present were the Russian (Stalinized) trade unions, the CIO, the British dominions (including India), Latin America (Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, Uruguay) and a scattering of neutral countries (among them Spain, Sweden and Ireland). China, where the labor movement has been crushed for years, was represented by two handpicked flunkeys of Chiang Kai-shek. The AFL refused to participate.
The assembled body boasted of speaking in the name of 50 to 60 million organized workers. This is indeed a mighty force. In point of numbers, no such labor gathering had ever been assembled before in wartime. But the London conference did not serve the interests of labor. Instead it wrote another page of infamy into the annals of the betrayal of the world working class. Individually and collectively the delegates ranged themselves on the side of the “democratic” imperialists. Their primary task was to dragoon the workers behind the infamous “peace” plans of the three grave diggers of civilization at Yalta. The conference not only telegraphed to Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin its “satisfaction with the results of the Crimea Conference,” but incorporated this “unanimous endorsement” in a Manifesto.
Servility vied with treachery. These creatures begged Churchill to address them. This is the same Churchill who is fighting to enforce in England the strike-breaking legislation – the Trade Disputes Act – passed in 1927 after the defeat of the General Strike. This is the same Churchill whose hands still drip with the fresh blood of slaughtered men, women and children in Greece.
These flunkeys underwrote in advance the plan for the dismemberment and looting of Germany. They even approved slave labor for the German toilers, doing so under a weasel formula: “if” despite their “protests” slave labor is instituted, then it “must be placed under international supervision with trade union participation.”
They don’t even ask for direct participation in “all phases” of the peace settlement. All they beg for is to be accredited in “an advisory and consultative capacity.”
These utterly corrupt bureaucrats talk and act as if mankind had never passed through three of the bloodiest and most catastrophic decades in history which have proved to the hilt that there is no way out for the masses except through Socialism. They behave as if capitalism in its death agony had not already plunged society into ten years of world warfare. They want to benumb the workers into forgetting that the “peace” which followed four years of the last world war turned out to be a mere interlude between two slaughters, an interlude punctuated by incessant military clashes, by economic depressions and crises, by the growth of political reaction and the resulting decimation of the labor movement. After almost six years of the current holocaust, they want the workers to forget the conquests which were made in the struggle for Socialism by the Russian masses in October 1917 and defended successfully under Lenin and Trotsky against the entire imperialist world in a Civil War of three years duration.
EXPERIENCE OF FIRST WORLD WAR During and after the war of 1914-1918 this same course was pursued by the reformist Socialist parties. In the process of trying so criminally to perpetuate capitalism and to obstruct the fight for Socialism, these parties succeeded in destroying themselves. The Second International was moribund even before the outbreak of World War II.
The new mobilization of reformists in the Third International, after its corruption and degeneration under Stalin, likewise failed to survive. Similarly swept away have been the centrist formations, the braggart and impotent London Bureau, the “International” of all the Brandlers and Lovestones. The London-Amsterdam Bureau, International Federation of Trade Unions, is another casualty of the war.
The imperialists keenly feeling the lack of a yellow international labor center issued passports, provided transportation facilities and otherwise expedited the creation of this new world body.
The conference took as its starting point the fact that the IFTU was all but defunct and thereupon proceeded to set up a substitute international labor center, as an auxiliary to the master world body projected by the “Big Three,” to be dominated by the labor lieutenants of English and American imperialism and the Kremlin bureaucracy.
This servile new world center will have a far briefer lease on life than its equally perfidious predecessors, the Second International, The Third International and the London-Amsterdam “International.” For these bodies began their existence with genuine roots in the working-class and as genuine instruments of labor whereas the present wretched formation represents from the outset nothing but a selection of agents of imperialism who cynically flaunt their sell-out program.
The current drive to jam through Congress the May-Bailey slave labor bill comes as a culmination of a calculated and protracted campaign to Prussianize America. Under imperialism the inherent tendency is away from democratic forms of rule and towards centralized reaction, or totalitarianism. This is the whole tendency of US capitalism today.
The first stride toward totalitarianism was taken after Pearl Harbor when Roosevelt proposed his “7-point program,” which included the proposal for a labor draft. This proposal was sugar-coated at the time with demagogic promises to take profits out of war, to place a $25,000 limitation on salaries, etc. The whole concoction was peddled as an “equality of sacrifice” program. When the smoke cleared, it was seen that the capitalists had sacrificed nothing but the workers found themselves saddled with the wage freeze.
One year later Roosevelt again came forward with “a labor draft. This time in the guise of full conscription of both capital and labor, a proposal incorporated in his “5-point” program. All the points against the capitalists, naturally, went by the board. But the workers found themselves in the straitjacket of the job freeze.
Throughout this period the labor bureaucrats kept retreating step by step. They used the pretext of “national emergency” to restrain the workers from any decisive display of their power. Bound hand and foot by these policies, and above all by the no-strike pledge, the labor movement became so demoralized and weakened that Roosevelt was enabled to come out the third time flatly for the labor draft minus any demagogic sugar-coating.
The fact that Roosevelt’s previous two proposals to enslave the American workers were not legislated by Congress does not at all mean that the organized labor movement was left free. Not at all. The shackles were being riveted on. Each time the vise was turned a little tighter. Thus after the April 1943 coal strike, the job freeze was extended to include 27,000,000 industrial, agricultural and government workers. The draft boards proceeded to induct into the army anyone who left his job without “authorization.” Two other decrees issued by Roosevelt – one in December 1943 and the other in July 1944 – invested the War Manpower Commission with sweeping powers to shift workers to any job, factory or area. After Roosevelt’s decrees there was not much “freedom” left to the workers.
SECRET OF LATEST DRIVE Why then the latest drive? The whole secret lies in this, that it is designed not so much to strengthen wartime measures as to reinforce, extend and guarantee totalitarian control after hostilities cease in Europe. Having loaded the burden of the war on the backs of the workers, the ruling class intends likewise to unload on them all the burdens of “peace.”
As usual the chicken-hearted labor bureaucrats retreated in the face of this major offensive. Their chief concern was to file a few face-saving objections. They have brought their treachery to a climax by uniting with the National Association of Manufacturers to draft “labor’s own” forced labor “compromise” bill. Few spectacles are more revolting than this spectacle of these creatures proposing that labor, when faced with threat of being put in chains, voluntarily assume them.
The Stalinists have likewise remained true to themselves. These venal agents of the Kremlin who have arrogated to themselves the role of the shrieking extreme right wing of the labor movement have each time hailed Roosevelt’s moves to draft the workers. They boast of this vile record today in their all-out support of the May-Bailey slave labor bill.
The trade unions are confronted today with the gravest threat to their existence. Failure to resist can lead to catastrophic consequences. But the working man’s will to resist reaction is not enough. It is in addition necessary to have the indispensable means at hand. The present trade union bureaucracy is sapping labor’s strength. It is necessary to build a new leadership with a genuine fighting program. There is no other salvation for the trade unions.
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Last updated on 12.9.2008