From Fourth International, Vol.6 No.9, September 1945, pp.259-268.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE The victory of the British Labor Party is a significant milestone in the history of the international class struggle. Not only the victory, but the size of the Labor Party majority came as a shocking surprise to the capitalist statesmen everywhere. Winston Churchill, calculating that Allied victory over Germany would immeasurably heighten his prestige, had called an early election despite the reluctance of the Labor Party officials to go to the polls. The Conservative Party, led by Churchill, confidently predicted a majority of 50 seats shortly before the first returns were made public. Yet out of a Parliament of 640 seats, the British voters gave the Labor Party 390. A tremendous victory! The consternation that ensued extended even to the timorous officials of the Labor Party.
The election reveals the great change in mass moods. It represents a dramatic demonstration of the leftward shift in class forces in Europe since the beginning of the war. With figures still incomplete, the soldier vote was more than 90 percent for the Labor Party. Working class districts were virtually solid for the Labor Party. Most significant was the support from the middle class. Petty bourgeois areas which had opposed Labor politics for generations repudiated in July the Churchill regime and voted the Labor Party to power. The Conservatives, principal party of the British capitalists, were reduced to a minority and the parties in between whittled down to virtually nothing. These shifts in class relations appear as a sharpening polarization in the political arena. The classes are lining up in Great Britain for a showdown struggle.
The shift of the middle class to the camp of the proletariat bears out the political law formulated by Leon Trotsky that in the major crisis of our epoch, fascism cannot come to power until the working class has first had its opportunity to establish socialism. The first titanic swing is a swing to the left. The petty bourgeoisie turns to the working class and says in effect, “We can no longer continue to exist under the present ruling class. Let the workers take the fate of the country in hand!”
Only if the workers fail to take power, fail to end the capitalist system, fail to boldly move forward to socialism, does the petty bourgeoisie become desperate, shift away from the working class and become prey for fascism.
THE SHIFT IN CLASS RELATIONS The shift in class relations expressed in the victory of the British Labor Party is a direct consequence of the Second World War. The people of Great Britain are beginning to draw the correct balance-sheet of the bankruptcy of capitalism. Within a quarter of a century after the First World War “for democracy,” they saw the flower of Britain’s youth marched onto the battlefields once again to save capitalism. In the bombings of the large centers of England, the people experienced far more directly than in 1914-18 the horrors of modern war. The blasted buildings, the queues, the hunger, the casualties, the nervous strain were daily reminders that the capitalist system was bankrupt. The threat of a Third World War weighed down like a nightmare. American workers returning from England during the war reported an almost universal phrase among the British workers: “After this war, then the real war will begin.” By that they meant the working class struggle against capitalism.
The victory of the British Labor Party was a brilliant confirmation of the correctness of the slogan of the British Trotskyist: “Labor to Power.” Throughout the war the British Trotskyist opposed the coalition of the Labor Party officialdom with the Conservatives. They demanded that Labor break the coalition and fight for power. The slogan “Labor to Power” has now been confirmed by events as in perfect consonance with the major working class political developments in Britain.
The mere ousting of the more reactionary capitalist statesmen does not automatically guarantee, however, the installation of a revolutionary socialist program. Even the avowed program of the Labor Party is not at all one of revolutionary socialism. It proposes instead a number of internal reforms, to be carried through in gentlemanly agreement with the capitalists; reforms which are supposed to gradually bring about Socialism. But the record of the Labor Party bureaucrats is a black one even with regard to their own reformist program. Time after time they have betrayed their own avowed political aims. Attlee, Bevin and the rest have political records which few betrayers of the working class can match for perfidy. It is sufficient to recall that throughout the war they supported Churchill’s policies on the war, the colonial and the domestic fronts, acting in many cases as Churchill’s foremost agents.
DEPENDABLE LAP DOGS Consequently, while the capitalist statesmen were deeply disturbed by the leftward political swing of the British masses, they heaved a sigh of relief on recalling the record of the men who had been pushed into power. These were loyal lap dogs, long accustomed to licking the boots of Britain’s despots. They could be depended upon. They were safe.
The newly installed Labor Government began conducting public affairs true to form. Attlee’s first act was a betrayal of the mandate given him by the British workers. Instead of exposing and opposing the imperialist aims of Britain’s ruling class in the war, he pledged “to finish the war with Japan.” On Churchill’s resignation as Prime Minister, Attlee took the still warm seat of the Empire’s best watch dog at the Potsdam conference and agreed to all the measures advanced by his arch-reactionary predecessor, including the carving up of Germany and the imposition of the most rapacious “peace” in history.
Instead of exposing the fraud of the United Nations Charter, Attlee supported it, including the denial of freedom to colonial peoples. One of the acts leading to Churchill’s defeat was the British provocation of civil war in Greece. The workers of Great Britain protested in great mass demonstrations the spilling of the blood of their Greek fellow workers. Attlee, however, is continuing Churchill’s policy in Greece, apparently working from the same blueprints of imperialist rule followed by Churchill before him. On Sept. 5, scarcely more than a month since taking office, Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, made it brutally clear in a speech in Parliament touching on Greek affairs “that the Labor Government’s policy was identical with that of former Prime Minister Churchill’s Coalition Government.”
A particularly crass instance of Attlee’s betrayal of the interests of the workers who put him in power is his seizure of Hong Kong. This island, controlling a rich section of China, was first grabbed from the Chinese people by British imperialism in 1841. Although China and Great Britain were allies ostensibly fighting together for “four freedoms” in the Second World War, the British imperialists had no intention of actually living up to the lying propaganda which they utilized to dragoon the masses into the war. When Churchill demanded in Parliament that Attlee carry out the imperialist policy of fighting tooth and nail against the “liquidation” of the British Empire, Attlee humbly replied, “Yes, sir!”
KARL MARX’S STATEMENT Karl Marx long ago pointed out that no people which oppresses other peoples can itself be free. The betrayals of the Labor Party bureaucrats in the field of foreign affairs presage their coming betrayals of the British masses in the sphere of domestic policies. Labor bureaucrats who dare not challenge Big Business abroad will also not have the courage to challenge it at home.
Has nothing, therefore, been changed by the Labor Party victory? Superficial observers may believe that the British capitalists have simply changed their political glove while the hand inside the glove remains the same. Certainly the ultra-lefts of all shades and varieties will have a fieId day proving over and over again that the policy of the Labor Party in power remains essentially the same as Churchill’s policy. That this would be the case, however, was known well to Marxists in advance of the victory. Ten years ago the Trotskyist movement stated:
Should the electoral successes of the Labor Party raise it once again to power, the consequence would not be a peaceful socialist transformation of Great Britain, but the consolidation of imperialist reaction, that is to say, an epoch of civil war, in the face of which the leadership of the Labor Party will inevitably reveal its complete bankruptcy. The parliamentarian and trade unionist morons have yet to be convinced that the threat of fascism in England is no less real than on the continent.
If we approach the question dialectically – and that is the method of the Marxists in politics – we must consider the Labor Party as shot through with a deep contradiction. Its present leaders follow capitalist politics, but the Party is rooted in the working class. Thus it is not simply a question of Conservatives being replaced in government by a new set of representatives of the capitalist class. A qualitative change has occurred. The capitalist parties are now a minority. The working class party is in the administration with a solid working majority. As Trotsky remarked in considering the Labor Party and the Conservatives: “We are dealing here not with the rivalry between two parties, but with the destinies of two classes.”
So long as the Labor Party remained in a minority or did not have a clear majority, the officialdom were able to present the semblance of an argument that they could not be held responsible for the ills of capitalist government or for failure to undertake revolutionary measures. Thus they succeeded in maintaining for many years the illusion of the bulk of workers: the illusion that all that was necessary in the struggle for socialism was to continue building the Labor Party until such time as it was strong enough to win office, and then it would be in a position to gradually, painlessly institute Socialism.
LABOR OFFICIALS PUT TO TEST But this alibi now suffices no longer once in power, these creatures are put to the decisive test. Trotsky in 1925 outlined what would happen under such circumstances:
“Even a slight acquaintance with the qualities of the MacDonald, Thomases, Clyneses, Snowdens, and all the rest (the last generation of Attlees, Bevins and Morrisons), is quite sufficient to prove to us how catastrophically the contradictions between the demands of the masses and the obtuse conservatism of the leading upper circles of the Labor Party will grow, particularly if this Party should come to power again.”
Trotsky’s prophetic words of 20 years ago today gain burning actuality. Under the conditions of crisis following the Second World War, the inheritors of the tattered mantles of the MacDonald will be compelled to expose themselves with startling speed.
But the exposure of the labor bureaucrats signifies at the same time an extreme narrowing of their base of support in the rank and file of the Labor Party, The mass of workers represented by the Labor Party is sure to shift leftward. Their previous victory in ousting Churchill will give the masses all the more confidence and make them all the more impatient as their illusions in the upper circles of the party are exploded. They wili turn in anger and revulsion from those who dance on Churchill’s strings. Their illusions in the reformist leaders, their belief that Socialism can, by the ballot, be voted into office, will be burned away. More and more workers will realize the iron necessity for a revolutionary policy. We can expect the left wing of the Labor Party to grow mightily in strength. At the same time the hundreds of thousands of workers newly awakened to political life will begin resorting to direct action to achieve their demands. Thus the Labor Party victory means above all that England stands on the verge of a new stormy development of the class struggle.
The British capitalists, however, will not remain inactive. Increasingly they will turn to reaction, to methods of terror and finally fascism. Trotsky foresaw this as early as 1925:
“The English bourgeoisie has been trained to mercilessness by all the conditions of its insular position, its Calvinist moral philosophy, its colonial practice, its national arrogance. England is being forced more and more into the background. This inevitable process is also creating a revolutionary situation. The English bourgeoisie, obliged to humiliate itself before America, to make concessions, to maneuver, to watch and wait, is being filled with extraordinary fury, which it will reveal in frightful forms in the civil war.” (Whither England)
BRITISH LABOR HOLDS STAGE If the working class procrastinates too 1ong, fails to push forward a resolute revolutionary leadership, then the middle class will begin to vacillate, to move away from the working class, to fall prey to the fascist demagogues, and British fascism will begin its bloody march toward power.
But that is not the situation today. Today British Labor holds the public stage. Today British labor holds in its hands the opportunity of seizing hold of the economic system, expropriating the capitalist cliques, instituting Socialist measures, and thereby again sounding the tocsin of revolution throughout the world, the tocsin with which Lenin and Trotsky first aroused and gave new hope to all humanity.
The British Trotskyist will have the duty of utilizing the enormous opportunities now opening up to drive the wedge deeper between the leftward-moving masses and the traitorous labor bureaucracy; to fructify the left wing which will surely grow in the days ahead with the program and tactics of Trotskyism. On that road open up grandiose perspectives for the rapid growth of the Revolutionary Communist Party, the British section of the Fourth International.
THE FOURTH 5-YEAR PLAN Few dispatches in recent days could have competed for public notice against the blasts of the atomic bombs in Japan and the sudden termination of the “shooting war” in the Pacific. Nevertheless, such significant news did come, even though it has been virtually ignored by the bourgeois press in this country. Its source is Moscow. And its sum and substance is that planned economy will be resumed in the Soviet Union.
January 1946 is the official date set by the Kremlin for launching the fourth Five-Year Plan. Stalin’s former boast, made in the era of the Stalin-Hitler pact, of far vaster undertakings, of launching “The Fifteen Year Plan” has been conveniently forgotten. The newly projected plan – the fourth in the series – is for a term of five years, scheduled to conclude in December 1950. Thus far, just the bare announcement has come. Neither the scope of the plan nor any of its major annual quotas have been made public. Therein the Kremlin continues its unrelenting policy of secrecy. Since 1939, the year of Stalin’s alliance with Hitler, the lid of censorship has been clamped tight upon all official data relating to Soviet economic life. This same year likewise marked the beginning of the disruption of planning in the USSR, owing in large measure to feverish war preparations, and, subsequently, owing to the war itself.
The present news is of the utmost importance and must be carefully weighed by us, who follow with the greatest attention all developments inside that complicated and contradictory social structure which is the USSR. First and foremost, it signifies that the revolution is still not dead in the land where Stalinism has fostered and reinforced the counter-revolutionary tendencies for more than two decades. The revolution still lives in the USSR because planned economy is conceivable. and realizable only on the basis of collectivized property, the highest and most progressive system of economic organization. It was one of the fundamental conquests of the October Resolution.
CAPITALIST STATE AND PLANNING Capitalism, as we know, is incapable of planning its economy. Only one social system in history has proven this ability – the workers’ state that emerged from the October 1917 revolution. The very projection of the fourth Five-Year Plan constitutes the latest corroboration of the correctness of our analysis of the class nature of the USSR as a workers’ state, although badly degenerated under Stalinist rule.
Our analysis may be briefly summarized in the following propositions:
CONTRADICTION NOT RESOLVED The reintroduction of planning is an expression of the fact that this contradiction has not yet been definitively resolved by history. And it can be resolved in only one of two ways: either a regression to capitalism, or more correctly, a plunge into the abyss; or the resumption of the socialist road. There is no third course.
If the original plans were carried out in a period of the raging economic crisis of capitalism, the new plan is being projected in the days of its death agony. The world working class suffered at the time a series of catastrophic defeats for which Stalinism bears the main responsibility. The period of the newly projected plan coincides with the acutest economic and social crisis of the imperialist system in Europe, Asia and the United States, accompanied by the leftward swing of the masses in Europe as well as the colonies. Neither the crisis of imperialism nor the revolutionary wave will speedily subside. This cannot fail to have the profoundest repercussions in the Soviet Union, whose fate will be determined, in the last analysis, by the outcome of the class struggle on the international arena.
Internally the situation is likewise altered. By 1928-29 when the first Five-Year Plan was launched, the country had recovered by and large from the wounds of World War I and the Civil War of 1919-21. As a matter of fact planning was needlessly and criminally delayed by the bureaucracy long beyond the stage when it became feasible. In those years Stalin was among the bitterest foes of planning, which was then labelled as “super-industrialism,” and, of course, persecuted as a Trotskyist “deviation.” Prior to 1928-29 Stalin, together with Bukharin, Rykov and others, proposed to crawl into socialism, even if at the “pace of a tortoise.”
Relative capitalist stabilization and the ensuing era of “pacifism” greatly lightened the load of militarism, one of the main obstacles to economic progress. In the initial phases of planning, Soviet expenditures for defense were officially estimated at from 5 to 10 percent of the annual budget. The “Victory Budget” adopted by the Supreme Council in April allots 45 percent to military needs, approximately the same proportion as during the war years. Nor is any tangible relief from this burden envisaged. Meanwhile the country has grown not richer but vastly poorer.
ANOTHER GREAT OBSTACLE This brings us to still another grave obstacle in the way of restoration of Soviet economy. After a lapse of more than half a decade, planning must be resumed in the USSR amid unprecedented ruination and pauperization. It is impossible to minimize the colossal task of bringing the devastated regions back to pre-war levels of production in industry and agriculture alike. The rigidly censored Moscow dispatch calmly acknowledges that the task of “reconstruction alone would absorb the economic energies of the USSR for many decades to come.”
According to May 29 Red Star, official organ of the Red Army “more than 100 billion dollars” are required for restoration of the Ukraine. The official and largely fictitious rate of exchange is 5.3 rubles to one dollar. Thus 530 billion (prewar) rubles are required for the restoration of the Ukraine. This astronomical sum surpasses by approximately 100 billion rubles the total budget for both the first and the second Five-Year Plans. Or to put it differently, it is more than five times the highest pre-war annual national income (105 billion rubles in 1938). In other words, even if Soviet economy were immediately restored to pre-war levels, it would take all of the national income for the period of the fourth Five-Year Plan to restore industry, agriculture, and the ruined cities and villages of the Ukraine alone. But the Ukraine is only one of seven Soviet republics in dire need of restoration, the other six being: Byelorussia, Moldavia, Finno-Carelia, Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia. Their cities and villages are by official report likewise heaps of “debris and charred ruins.”
Finally, it ought to be noted that the generations who carried the burden of the initial plans on their shoulders had a period of years to recuperate from the exhaustion of war and civil war, while new generations grew up in the meantime. The burden today falls on war-weary masses who have borne untold sacrifices and losses. Their ranks have been decimated. In the Ukraine alone the loss of civilians is numbered in tens of millions. The Kremlin does not propose to mitigate the lot of the worker and peasant. The Moscow dispatch informs us that the previous policy of subordinating consumer goods production to capital goods production will prevail. The emphasis of the fourth Five-Year Plan is on the “restoration and expansion of basic industries.”
The manpower problem affects planning today in still another way. The pinch in the available labor forces began to be felt at the close of the second Five-Year Plan. In 1938, in his report to the Eighteenth Party Congress, Stalin declared:
Now it is no longer a question of finding room in industry for unemployed and homeless peasants who have been set adrift from their villages and live in fear of starvation of giving them jobs out of charity. The time has long gone by when there were such peasants in our country ... If anything, it is now a question of asking the collective farms to release, say, one and a half million young collective farmers annually for the needs of our expanding industry.
THE INTRODUCTION OF CHILD LABOR The “release” of the necessary labor force was obtained by the Kremlin through the introduction of child labor. As a result of the war and the huge casualty lists, today there is a labor shortage not only in industry but in agriculture as well. A further drain is placed on manpower through the maintenance of armies of unprecedented size, both for purposes of occupation as well as “safeguarding the peace.” This explains the Kremlin’s anxiety to utilize German slave labor in the work of reconstruction. In the face of these and other obstacles the Kremlin still boasts that it will surpass “pre-war economic levels by 1950.”
The unreliability of Stalinist claims can be laid bare by one of the few “estimates” actually cited by Moscow sources. It is claimed that by the end of 1946 the steel output will total 20 million tons. This figure is, in fact, above the highest pre-war output of steel (in 1938 Stalin claimed an annual production of 18 million tons). The Donbas areas which accounted for almost half of 1938 production (8 to 9 million tons) are in ruins. The official figure for steel production in the Urals for 1945 is given as 15 million tons. This means that steel production in the Urals must have almost doubled to have attained such a level. Yet another authoritative Stalinist source inadvertently lets slip that the output of one of the largest steel producing Ural combines, the Kuzbas, showed a far more modest increase. “The annual steel output [in the Kuzbas] is now 500,000 tons more than before the war” (Information Bulletin, Soviet Washington Embassy, vol.V, no.81, August 9). This is a far cry from doubled production. Nevertheless, in the period of a single year the Stalinist “planners” propose to boost steel production by more than one-third, i.e., from 15 million tons to 20 million.
Is this plan realizable? Stalin himself branded as “sheer fantasy” the plan, suggested during the second Five-Year Plan, to boost pig iron production, which is simpler to produce than steel, by such big increases. Thus in 1938, when Soviet industry, according to Stalin, was completely switched over “on the basis of a new, modern technique,” he set the annual increase in pig iron at one half the figure now contemplated for steel. Here is what Stalin said in his report to the Eighteenth Party Conference:
But if we ignore these fantastic dreamers and come down to reality, we may consider quite feasible an average annual increase in the output of pig iron of two or two and a half million tons bearing in mind the present state of the technique of iron smelting. The industrial history of the principal capitalist countries, as well as of our country, shows that such an annual rate of increase involves a great strain, but is quite feasible.
But even this “feasible” increase, as was later acknowledged, proved impossible to achieve. The likelihood of fulfilling the 1946 steel “quota” is even more remote. What then is the likelihood of achieving the goal itself, which is to “surpass pre-war levels by 1950?
WHAT ARE THE NEW PERSPECTIVES? The sponsors of the plan themselves confess that it is impossible of achievement by the internal forces of the USSR alone. For the same dispatch that carries the foregoing boast, goes on to add that in the accomplishment of the fourth Five-Year Plan, its Stalinist architects have the following “perspectives”:
- “Reparations in kind from former enemy countries such as Finland, Rumania and Germany.
- “Trade relations with such countries as Poland ...
- “High expectations of American and British credits in the form of machinery and some textiles.”
Here we have another sharp departure from the previous plans, all of which based themselves only on the internal resources of the USSR. Stalin attempted to deny in the period of the previous Five-Year Plans the dependence of the Soviet Union on the world market: alas, the deflation in 1930 took cruel vengeance on Stalin and his theory that the Soviet Union could – and did! – build socialism solely on the basis of its own resources and forces. This fraudulent thesis is now discarded in practice, in the projects of the new Five-Year Plan. What then happens to Stalin’s entire “theory”?
But the above-listed Stalinist perspectives imply much more than an admission that the Soviet Union cannot reconstruct its economic life without aid from the outside. Implicit in them is the Kremlin’s apparent intention to base the fourth Five- Year Plan not only on the nationalized Soviet economy, but also in part on the various economies within its “sphere of influence” in eastern Europe.
As we previously indicated, the Stalinist regime has long had within it a fundamental contradiction. The rapid industrialization of the country by means of a plan tended to strengthen the Socialist sector of the economy. On the other hand, the Stalinist reaction, with its inevitable monstrous growth and consolidation of a new privileged caste standing above the population, constantly tended to pull the USSR in the capitalist direction. Now a new explosive contradiction is incorporated right inside the “plan “ itself; Stalinist reliance not only on the nationalized property of the USSR but also on the economies of the Soviet “spheres of influence” which still remain capitalist.
OPPOSING ECONOMIES CANNOT BE COMBINED Collectivized property forms cannot be combined for any protracted period of time with capitalist property forms. One or the other must give way. The Stalinist attempt at combination cannot solve any of the basic problems of the regime or of the country. It will, on the contrary, lead to further aggravation of an already badly aggravated situation. The problem poses itself thus: either the Kremlin oligarchy, despite its original intentions, will find itself compelled to nationalize all property in the occupied regions, which inevitably must lead to a new military explosion between imperialism and the Soviet Union. Or the capitalist “spheres of influence” attached to the Soviet Union will become the starting point for an accelerated development in the capitalist direction looking toward the eventual full restoration of capitalism inside the USSR. [We will discuss this problem at greater length in a later issue.] All the old contradictions have been sharpened. To these has now been added the new explosive contradiction inherent in the Soviet occupation of eastern Europe.
Thus it is clear that Stalin’s regime remains more than ever a regime of crisis, with the severest paroxysms still ahead. And just as clear is the fact that these contradictions are not resolvable except on the arena of the international revolution.
WALL STREET’S MAJOR MOVE President Truman’s abrupt termination of Lend-Lease on August 21 must be viewed not so much as an inevitable consequence of the close of the war but as a major move in Wall Street’s plans for securing economic mastery of the world. Lend-Lease originated before the United States officially entered the war as an instrument to help the allies and agents of American imperialism conduct their military operations against the two main rivals of Wall Street: Germany and Japan. Now that these enemies have been crushed and eliminated from the scene, Lend-Lease is discarded so that Wall Street can carry forward, in this new stage, its program of world domination.
The military might of the United States based upon its economic superiority has elevated the American imperialists to unsurpassed heights of world power. Holding the atomic bomb and the greatest army, navy and air force in the one hand and its superb industrial machine in the other, American imperialism today bestrides the planet like a Colossus. Now, through its governmental agencies in Washington, Wall Street is preparing to garner the spoils of victory.
This most terrible and destructive of wars was also the most colossal business enterprise ever undertaken by U.S. capitalism. The monopolists invested in this military venture no less than 330 billions of dollars belonging to the American people. Now they are getting set to cash in on this investment of the people’s money by reorganizing the world in accordance with their class interests.
Even among the victors the United States is the sole beneficiary of the Second World War. It is the only great nation untouched by war’s devastation. It is the only solvent power in the entire world. The banks and giant corporations have vast accumulations of capital crying for investment in foreign fields. The whole planet is not too big to accommodate these billions. The war-expanded industrial agricultural and transportation facilities require the world for their markets. That is why the Washington-Wall Street plutocracy moves to grab up the markets and spheres of influence not only of its military opponents but also its allies.
DECLINE OF BRITISH EMPIRE The most important of these belong to the British empire. England is in a very bad state of exhaustion. It emerges from this war very much like France in the last war: the victor in appearance only. England has become transformed from a creditor nation, living off the proceeds of its investments, into a debtor nation. Even to its own colonies! The British owe 16 billion dollars to their own subject countries, notably India and Egypt.
The march of military and political events has accelerated the economic disintegration of the Empire and deepened the crisis of British capitalism. A number of the dominions, like Canada and Australia, have grown increasingly independent of England and fallen into the orbit of the United States. In Asia, Africa and the West Indies the colonial peoples are renewing their efforts to shake off the British yoke. Finally, the class struggle has flamed in the home country itself with the election victory of the Labor Party. The war has weakened British capitalism to the point where it can no longer survive without blood transfusions from the United States. It is doomed to become the lower-junior partner and agency of U.S. imperialism – or perish.
Britain is hardest hit by the stoppage of Lend-Lease shipments. Over and above munitions shipments the United Kingdom has been receiving about 2 billions a year in food, raw materials and industrial products on Lend-Lease. The sudden cessation of these shipments created consternation in the ruling circles in London. The agitated Prime Minister of His Majesty’s Labor government, Clement Attlee, told the House of Commons that the blow had been delivered “without consultation and prior discussion.” The head of the Tory opposition Winston Churchill complained because “so great a country ... would proceed in such a rough and harsh manner.” Both the Labor and Conservative agents of British capitalism find it difficult to adjust themselves to the fact that Wall Street is dealing with England in the same brutal manner as English imperialism has for centuries dealt with the rest of the world.
WALL STREET POWER-DRUNK The power-drunk and money-maddened American plutocracy will stop at nothing to bring their competitors to heel, to subjugate them, to squeeze the last drop of profit from them. By means of political pressure and economic power the American bankers and big businessmen are bent upon invading and taking over for themselves the rich ‘preserves hitherto belonging to Britain. The inheritance of the British imperial domains is one of the prizes of the war for which the United States fought German imperialism. The Wall Street bandits have become so brazen they do not even bother to conceal their intentions. An Associated Press dispatch from Washington printed in the Sept. 3 N.Y. Times openly admits:
“The United States will propose that Britain jettison or drastically modify her system of empire trade preference controls as one condition of further financial aid from this country. This suggestion, it became known today, is one of several that will be made to British envoys in conferences due to begin this week over what monetary help this country may be willing to extend England now that lend-lease has shut down.”
The dispatch proceeds to set forth the three main objectives of Wall Street in these forthcoming conferences. The first is to “persuade” the British to refund and scale down its $16 billion dollar debt to the empire. This has a twofold purpose. It would enable Britain to pay for the credits it seeks from this country at the expense of its subject nations. And “it would tend to open to American business men the Empire and Near East markets now virtually closed to them because acceptance of British exports on account is the best visible means by which those countries can get their money back.”
In the second place American officials hope to extort a British agreement to eliminate or drastically modify the empire preference system of trade controls. The present tariff arrangements between the units of the empire tend to exclude US competition.
Thirdly, they want to break down the British system of pooling dollars in the sterling area countries. This dollar pool is a means by which the British control the amount and character of the American goods purchased “in these countries. Since the war began, American capitalists have been casting covetous eyes upon the lucrative markets and rich sources of raw materials in the India and Middle East areas. Several official commissions have visited the area which is already dotted with American air bases. Now Wall Street is ready to muscle in on these territories.
OTHER COUNTRIES IN CRISIS The ending of Lend-Lease confronts other allied countries with serious problems. France and China are already reported to be seeking new credits to bolster their shattered and sagging economies. The fact that the Soviet territories remain closed to direct exploitation by American capital places the USSR in a different relationship to US imperialism but its economic dependence upon the US is no less great. In addition to military equipment, the USSR has been receiving over a billion and a half dollars worth in food, raw materials and industrial equipment a year. If this trade is to continue, new credits must be negotiated. Washington will unquestionably try to exact further political and even economic concessions from Moscow in return for the credits which the Kremlin so desperately requires. It is certain that US capitalism will exert incessant and terrific pressure upon the USSR.
New loans and credit arrangements with the United States have become life-and-death questions for the war-devastated, inflation-ridden and ruined countries. They are no less necessary for American capitalism itself. Wall Street has the most vital interest in the maintenance and extension of its foreign trade. During the war Lend-Lease was the principal prop of this trade. For 1944 this country’s exports reached $13 billion of which $11 billion represented goods shipped on a Lend-Lease basis. It is estimated that in the year ahead exports will drop drastically to less than half. Reporting for the Committee of Banking and Currency in the House on July 13, Congressman Spence of Kentucky declared: “The markets of the United States are not in a position to absorb the production of our country. We must assume the economic leadership of the world.”
The government is compelled to take a series of important steps. Of immediate concern is the disposition of the 42 billions of Lend-Lease war-debts owed to this country and the negotiation of new financial arrangements with the debtor nations. These are two aspects of the same problem: to clear the ground for Wall Street’s super-exploitation of the globe. On August 30 President Truman told Congress that it should be prepared to write off the 40 billion dollar Lend-Lease debt. But Secretary of State Byrnes immediately made clear that this did not relieve every country involved from negotiating Lend-Lease settlements with Washington. In other words, Washington intends to put the gun to each and every one of them and squeeze out all possible concessions for the granting of new credits. Everyone, British imperialists, French financiers, Stalinist bureaucrats, not to mention the small fry, will come hat in hand to plead for loans from rich Uncle Sam, the banker.
MAIN AGENCIES TO FOREIGN TRADE To fill the vacuum left by the disappearance of Lend-Lease, the US government is relying upon two agencies to finance exports in the coming years. One is the Export-Import Bank, the other is the World Investment Bank. The Export-Import Bank was organized in 1934 to stimulate foreign trade. Congress is now considering a proposal to increase its capital and lending authority. Complete control over its resources will be vested in the hands of the Foreign Economic Administrator, a direct agent of Wall Street. Representative Spence, sponsor of the bill, stated in Congress that Mr. Burgess, the president of the American Bankers’ Association, expressly approved the proposal. Another Representative, Buffet, explained why:
“It assures them of an opportunity to participate in vast loaning schemes without risking their own money – with interest and profits being guaranteed by the Treasury of the United States and finally by the taxpayers of this country. Of course, the bankers are for this scheme. You would be too if you were a banker under such circumstances. No risk and sure profits is good enough bait even for a banker – as it was in Hitler land.”
The Export-Import Bank, which now has only $2,800,000,000 lending authority, is to serve as a stop-gap until the World-Investment Bank is set up. This latter bank, which is part of the Bretton Woods agreement, will offer about 8 billion in dollar credits.
In these measures we witness the increasing fusion of monopoly capitalism and the state. More and more the resources of the state are placed at the disposal of a small group of plutocrats. The state serves as a pliant tool in the hands of the monopolists in its struggle for markets, for sources of raw materials, for domination of the world. And all these predatory operations of the monopolists take place under the banners of “free enterprise” and “freedom of trade.” American credits are today the most potent instruments, not only of economic domination, but of political intervention in the life of other peoples.
WHEELER HEADS THE OPPOSITION When Congress debated ratification of the United Nations Charter, opposition was confined to a tiny minority headed by Senator Burton K. Wheeler of Montana. The overwhelming majority of Congressmen applauded the Charter as the “only hope” of the world, as the only guarantee of “Peace and prosperity,” as the “greatest document ever conceived by the mind of man,” and similar nonsense. Wheeler did not consistently oppose the United Nations Charter. He confined himself to making the record in a three-hour speech on July 24. He offered no alternative to the Charter, and he ended up voting for it.
His speech is nevertheless of considerable political significance. It represents the viewpoint of an important section of the capitalist class. It lays down the line for the former “isolationists” who were revealed during the war to be the most rabid imperialists. It will undoubtedly be considered a programmatic document by America’s native fascists. As the post-war disillusionment deepens among the masses, the speech can play a dangerous role since Wheeler’s statements and predictions will in many instances be borne out by events, thus giving him the aura of a prophet among the dupes of fascist demagogy.
The capitalist press did not reprint Wheeler’s speech nor even quote from its major sections. The liberal organs such as The Nation and PM made no attempt whatsoever to meet the issues but confined themselves to listing Wheeler as one of the “enemies of the charter,” hitting at his parliamentary tactics and ridiculing his speech. The Montana Senator, who had just returned from a tour of Europe, began his speech by describing the general situation facing the victorious powers.
The problems we faced following the last war were child’s play compared to the chaos with which we are now confronted. We can be certain that whole our statesmen breathe an air of confident expectancy or of casual tolerance toward the future, the terrible truth of the matter is they are whistling in the dark. At this very moment fear grips the hearts and minds of all men who honestly face the magnitude and complexity of the consequences of this war, which already threatens to overwhelm us.
The chaos in Europe is tragic beyond description. The threat of a rampant totalitarian tyranny everywhere raises its ugly head. [This is Wheeler’s way of describing Communism.] The resurgence of a brutal and fanatical fascism lurks in every flooded cellar, behind every shattered tree, and beneath every ugly ruin in Europe. An almost inevitable triumph of disease, starvation, and frustration already challenges the sanity of men.
I talked with hundreds and hundreds of individuals in England, France, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, and Greece. Throughout my travels I did not hear the San Francisco Charter mentioned even once. The people with whom I talked, and the others whom I saw on my trip, were concerned with only three things. They wanted food, clothing, and coal with which to cook their food and light and heat their miserable shelters. They, as individuals, wanted protection against tyranny and starvation. Those were the things they feared.
CAPITALIST SYSTEM BEING UNDERMINED The political consequences of this situation in Wheeler’s opinion are undermining the capitalist system. What to do to save this system? The United Nations Charter cannot be expected to accomplish this task, he believes. In order to clarify the task facing the capitalist statesmen, Wheeler slashes through the propagandistic camouflage hiding the reality of the Charter and characterizes it as follows:
Its provisions merely reflect the present relations of the victor powers which are themselves premised on a principle of power politics at its worst. For, the fact of the matter is that this alleged realism of the charter simply means that far from having “raised a standard to which the honest and the just can repair,” this charter has translated men’s hopes and dreams for peace into a mechanism to legalize and perpetuate the brutal realities which now afflict friend and foe alike.
To drive home his point, Wheeler draws a deadly parallel between the propaganda and realities of the First World War and the Second World War. Quoting extensively from such Allied statesmen as Churchill, Wilson, Painlevé and Lloyd George, the Montana Senator compares their noble sounding promises about freedom and peace with the promise of Roosevelt, Hull, Churchill and Stalin in the Second World War. The declarations selected by Wheeler, are indeed startlingly similar. Roosevelt’s entire Atlantic Charter, Wheeler tries to show, is based on Wilson’s Fourteen Points proclaimed in 1918 as the war aims of the Allied powers. The fate of the Fourteen Points became the fate of the Atlantic Charter:
The Versailles peace was clearly not a peace of reconciliation or anything like it. It clearly was not designed to give the new-born German democratic state a real fighting chance to survive. Even the reparation provisions produced financial and economic chaos in Germany and had to be revised. Thus there was no winner in the Versailles Treaty. Clemenceau failed to gain security for France. Wilson failed to establish a just and enduring peace. Lloyd George achieved a glittering success by preserving for a time the precarious balance of power in Europe. But he, too, failed, for while Britain’s greatest interest is peace, 20 years after his alleged triumph at Versailles, Britain was at war and close to destruction. Mr. President, the only difference between the fate of Wilson’s declarations and the Atlantic Charter lies in the fact that in the case of the latter its death was more swift and sure.
To establish this fact, Wheeler quotes extensively from the leaders of the United Nations and concludes that at the close of the Second World War “the tragic mistakes of Versailles have merely been aggravated and earlier set in motion.”
The United Nations face a perspective quite at variance from the solemn assurances of unity handed out by the official propaganda bureaus, according to Wheeler:
The ... grim historical fact which has been and which even now is being deliberately suppressed is that behind the slogan of unconditional surrender we have been compelled to wage a vicious war of power politics with Russia and Britain, ever since the tide of battle turned.
The main danger to American capitalism does not come from Great Britain so much as from the Soviet Union and from the working class revolution implicit in Europe today. Wheeler quotes a declaration made February 18, 1944, by John Middleton Murray: “Either a new Germany will be integrated into a new Europe, or a new Germany will eventually be integrated into the Soviet Union.” Wheeler also cites the following interesting observation of a “well-informed Britisher” on December 22, 1944:
As the power of Germany declines, the struggle for power between the victorious Allies takes its new form. And its new form is that which was inevitable, the Allies being what they are, namely, Britain and Russia – the form is civil war. It is prevented only where one of the two allies is in effective military occupation. One may prophesy that wherever and whenever that military occupation is withdrawn, civil war will ensue. The next chapter of this fearful book of European history will begin.
EVERY COUNTRY FEARS REVOLUTION Wheeler himself is convinced that “There is no country in Europe today that does not fear revolution and anarchy the minute the American troops are taken out of that country.”
The under-cover conflict among the Big Three is revealed in their handling of defeated Germany, in Wheeler’s opinion:
A ... fact which is just now coming to light ... is such a basic and deep-rooted distrust between and among the Big Three that as the war turned in favor of the Allies these same Big Three did not trust each other sufficiently to permit Germany to emerge as an independent state or nation.
The destruction of Germany preoccupies Wheeler primarily because of its incalculable effect upon the ability of world capitalism to stave off the socialist revolution:
What I am about to say concerns facts the recognition of which may mean a matter of life or death for the whole of cultured and Christianized humanity. [This is Wheeler’s way of describing capitalism.] Mr. President, the outcome of this war has left a gaping vacuum in the heart of Europe. We have won an overwhelming military victory, but it is a victory which has left in its wake the destruction of every political, economic, social, and geographical structure in Europe. Where thirty-odd independent nations once stood, there is not a single stable government left. The realism of this fact to which I am referring is found in the simple observation that of all these social, economic, military, political, and geographical systems, the only stable government left is Russia. It is stable only because of the tremendous military and police power of the state.
Thus, the question at the very outset is how Russia can help but be sucked into this maelstrom of madness when such a terribly complete vacuum keeps tugging at Stalin’s shirt sleeves. How can Russia keep from being drawn into the gaping emptiness that yawns like a deep abyss before her every step from the Ukraine to Bordeaux, and from the Scandinavian Peninsula to the Mediterranean?
Mr. President, a year ago last May when I talked with one of the very high ranking officers of this country I asked him, “How are you going to keep Europe from going Communist?” He replied that he did not believe Stalin wanted to take over Europe. I said, “It is not a question of Stalin taking over Europe. It is a question of whether or not Europe will fall into his lap.”
Today every student of European history, and every person who has visited Europe believes and feels that that is one of the things which may take place in the near future.
In these remarks Wheeler expresses the fear of the senile capitalist class before the socialist revolution now gathering its forces throughout Europe. No doubt in their inner conclaves the capitalist rulers discuss this terrible threat to their outmoded system as one of the burning topics of the day. How prevent the rising revolution even with the assistance of such a counter-revolutionary agent as Stalin?
ALL EUROPE LIKE BIG SPAIN Wheeler dwells on the danger of a weakened Britain and a powerful Soviet Union in ruined post-war Europe; citing William Philip Simms:
All Europe, in fact, seems headed toward becoming one big Spain. Rightists and leftists are at daggers drawn over the larger part of the continent. Civil war is under way or threatened in Greece – I have just been in Greece, and I want to concur in that statement – Yugoslavia, Belgium, Italy, Poland, and other countries as, one by one, they are liberated. And in every case, as in Spain, the trouble is fundamentally the same.
That is, the fundamental struggle is between capitalism and the socialist revolution.
Wheeler then turns to the Far East. He takes as his theme a March 28 statement of Sumner Welles:
Immediately after the end of this Second World War a far more powerful surge toward freedom among the peoples of the east will be inevitable. Compared to the forces which it will unleash, the outbreak of the 1920s will be trivial.
Wheeler considers Japan in the Far East as symmetrical in world politics to the position of Germany in Europe:
Just as Germany’s problems cannot be solved except in relation to Europe, so Japan’s problems cannot be solved for the United Nations apart from Asia. If we continue on to the bitter end which our savage slogan unconditional surrender makes inevitable, without attempting to tell the Japanese what is in store for them after they have surrendered, we shall leave another vacuum in Asia and in the act commit one of the major political blunders of all time.
It would mean that while we may have won the war we would lose the peace, for we could never succeed in our present policy of rebuilding China under the present Nationalist Government as a stabilizing force in the Far East if Russia stepped into Japan’s shoes.
With the destruction of Japan as a counter-revolutionary bulwark against socialist revolution, Wheeler sees a terrible threat to the capitalist system:
With Japan out of the way, and with no other stable power than Russia left to 611the ensuing vacuum, if Russia brings north China, Manchuria, and Korea under her domination and central and south China is left under the present Nationalist Government, civil war will rage for years to come in Asia.
WORST THAN LAST WAR Wheeler compares the present crisis with the crisis facing the capitalist system at the close of the First World War:
The whole world is hoping and praying for a speedy end to this most cruel and savage of conflicts ever to afflict mankind; the world wants no more of such a curse and affliction to endure; but the truth is that events have gone too far for any sane man to ignore the fact that whatever peace settlements now are reached, the steadily expanding conflict between the east dominated by Moscow and the west dominated by England and the United States will be uprooted bodily and transplanted into the very heart of this new world organization. The tragic repetition of the events following the last World War has already become a reality.
The situation after the First World War, however, was far less threatening to the capitalist system than the present situation in the eyes of Wheeler:
In 1918 the problems we confronted were largely confined to Europe and they were settled on the base of an attempt to free the peoples of Europe from the threat and scourge of famine, war, and chaos, by guaranteeing the political and territorial integrity of some twenty-odd separate states. At least the concept of individuality was preserved even in the artificial and arbitrary division of territory, minorities, and resources of Europe that comprised the Versailles settlements.
But in the year 1945 the problems we confront have not only been magnified a thousand times; they now extend to Africa and Asia. The settlement of these problems is not being left this time, however, to individual states, but to the division of the world into three tremendous spheres, one of which is determined that these problems and the destiny of hundreds of millions of human beings shall be left to the mercy of an ever-expanding collective state and totalitarian political tyranny.
THREAT OF NEW WAR Wheeler emphasizes the fact that the end result of the two world imperialist wars has been the fundamental weakening of the capitalist system. Moreover, far from being a “war to end wars,” the Second World War, like the First, succeeded only in laying the base for more terrible future conflicts. Wheeler views the “threat of a Third World War” as “already rooted and growing in conflict between western civilization and the Communist totalitarian tyranny in the East.” He continues:
Does any sane man in his right mind think that the horror that has been loosed upon a suffering and broken humanity has furthered the possibility of peace and security-or the guarantee of the “four freedoms”? Does anyone imagine that the chaos, famine, disease, immorality, suffering, and the stinking desert of conflict that has been made of Europe and that is fast being spread over the Orient, is fertile ground in which the roots of democracy can flourish? Are the proponents of this charter attempting to tell the American people that the catastrophic consequences of this most hideous struggle of all time are conducive to the development of stable governments and societies in which the lessons of the past are so integrated into the social, legal, and diplomatic structure of nations that we may look now toward reliance upon a new reign of law and not to a reversion to trust in brute force? Any man who holds out such an ethereal dream as a prospective reality to the American people is simply deluding himself.
Unless an unforeseeable and unlikely change in the present trend of world politics occurs, Wheeler predicts that “a third world catastrophe” will “befall us whether we want it or not.”
After this annihilating exposé of the murderous conflicts now unfolding amongst the erstwhile “Allies” and the blind alley into which capitalism is hurling humanity, what does our redoubtable Senator propose? What does he offer? What is his alternative program? Literally nothing, except possibly vague implications that a new war should be prepared against the USSR.
Wheeler ends his eloquent speech with the announcement:
“I am voting for the ratification of the charter because of the terrible conditions which exist throughout the world today. I am voting for it, because I do not see any other alternative.”
Could a capitalist politician have made a franker confession of the utter bankruptcy of the system he defends?
TWO BOMBS: TWO CITIES The Wall Street rulers who decided to bestow on mankind the benefits of atomic energy – and made known their beneficence in the form of two bombs that blew up a half million human beings as a starter – also contribute to the public welfare in more subtle ways. Approximately three weeks after the first blessings of the bomb were administered to the world, 120 “scientists, philosophers and theologians,” according to the press, met at the Sixth Annual Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion at Columbia University, New York. This group includes some of the most capable thinkers the capitalists are able to buy through professorships, educational, editorial and religious posts. The agenda of their discussion had apparently been decided well in advance – certainly before Hiroshima and Nagasaki were entered on the pages of history. Consequently the first day of the Conference heard 31 papers, out of which only one happened to touch on the atomic bomb and its meaning to mankind. The other 30 papers dealt mainly with such lofty themes in the propaganda curricula of the capitalist war-mongers as “educating” the “peoples of the world” on “how to get along with each other.”
One might imagine these highly-paid and highly-touted brains would surely not be so obtuse as to overlook the atomic bomb and its meaning to the world. But according to the press they were “perceptibly unaroused.” In fact, they were so “calm, judicial and unexcited” some observers got the uneasy impression these intellectual giants of the capitalist class were fiddling “while the world burned.”
Had such an impression become general, the reputations of these distinguished and authoritative savants might have suffered. However, during the night between the sessions of the first and second day, something happened. It is not clear what. Perhaps some information of a startling nature. The official explanation in next day’s press was that the Conference had been “stung by the challenge of a magazine editor.” As a result of this sting they “hastened to climb aboard the bandwagon of the Atomic Age.”
SECOND SESSION GOES INTO ACTION Although in the first session the fate of humanity in a Third World War of atomic-powered weapons had not dawned on the assembled pontiffs as important enough for their profound deliberations, in the second session, according to the press, they suddenly accepted “the thesis that immediate action on control of atomic energies was vital, if humanity was to survive.” No doubt many people breathed a sigh of relief when they read the report of this momentous decision. The greatest thinkers of the capitalist class had turned their attention to the problem of controlling the atomic bomb!
So alert had the assembled scientists, philosophers and theologians become in contrast to the previous day that in the second session “they ignored the formal papers they had prepared and indulged in old-fashioned pre-atomic dialectics.” In fact their alertness reached such heights that the discussion “appeared tinged at times with a note of hysteria, or what modern scientists are wont to refer to as ‘crisis thinking’.”
To really appreciate why these ponderous thinkers could be moved so deeply “by the challenge of a magazine editor” it is necessary to know that the editor in question was none other than Norman Cousins and the magazine – The Saturday Review of Literature. Ferdinand Lundberg in his celebrated work America’s 60 Families declares that Thomas W. Lamont “privately financed” Henry Seidel Canby (editorial predecessor of Cousins) “in founding” this magazine. Lamont is the brains of the Morgan interests. Lundberg reports that Perkins and after him Lamont have each “been the pacemakers of the Morgan banking house, the trouble shooters, the business getters, the schemers, the diplomats, and the apologists.” Lundberg adds that “at least half of Lamont’s contact with the surrounding world is with publishers, writers that cater to mass audiences, newspapermen and editors.” The Saturday Review of Literature, Lundberg reveals, “has for nearly two decades given J.P. Morgan and Company a strategic foothold in the book-publishing business.” “Lamont,” he discloses, “has continually footed deficits for this publication, which has given utterance to many Morgan theses.”
CAPITALIST THINKING AND THINKERS In the light of this revealing combination of facts aren’t we fully justified in concluding that the source of the sting to the assembled leaders of capitalist thought on the night of August 25 was the same source that decided to use atomic energy to snuff out the lives of possibly a half million human beings? Small wonder these “modern scientists” were suddenly caught in the grip of “crisis thinking”!
And what thinking! Wall Street’s intellectual front freely admitted
- We may be in even greater peril today than just after Pearl Harbor.
- Man’s survival on earth is now absolutely dependent on his ability to avoid a new war.
- Far from banishing war, the atomic bomb itself will constitute a cause for war.
- The greatest obsolescence of all in the Atomic Age is national sovereignty.
- With the Atomic Age man now has it within his grasp to emancipate himself economically.
- Unless atomic Energy is controlled, man can revert to his condition in society in 10,000 BC.
After these premises – which had already been reached by virtually everyone in the world who has given ten minutes thought to the consequences of the atomic bomb – the deepest thinkers in the pay of Wall Street reached the profound conclusion that humanity can be saved from destruction only if “civilization” develops a “sense of responsibility.”
A practical as well as eminently realistic solution – one undoubtedly deserving the bestowal of a special honorary degree – came from a professor who proposed “a solemn pledge to humanity equivalent to the ancient Hippocratic Oath of physicians be adopted to save civilization from the perils of misused atomic forces.” This fathead advocated “that the pledge be accepted by everyone as a vital principle of living and that school children be required to recite it after the pledge to the flag.” If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then it can be put down as absolutely certain that the murderers who order teeming cities blown off the face of the planet will be the first to take the oath to “save civilization from the perils of misused atomic forces.” They will simply label the areas to be destroyed as outside the pale of “civilization.”
THE TIMES PITCHES IN The New York Times editorialized after the Conference disbanded, that the atomic bomb had given the proceedings of the scientists, philosophers and theologians, “a turn and an importance that were not foreseen.” By chance the publisher of The New York Times, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, is, according to Ferdinand Lundberg, among Thomas W. Lamont’s “many ... literary and journalistic friends.” The Times editorial covered a point overlooked by the wise men in their excitement over the suddenly discovered importance of their meeting. “Somehow,” declared the Times “the moral lesson of the war must be driven home not only to statesmen but to every worker in a factory.” After thus expressing its concern over the morals of factory workers, the organ of the war profiteers concluded: “We need more conferences of the same kind, held, perhaps, under the auspices of the new League of Nations.”
Clearly, the arguments of the scientists, philosophers and theologians about the dangers of the atomic bomb could not have served Wall Street’s purposes better if they had been thought up by the diabolically clever Thomas W. Lamont himself. All the premises, if correctly formulated, are true: Humanity faces extinction. National boundaries are obsolescent. A new economic order is possible. Atomic energy must be controlled. But what is Wall Street’s conclusion? The solutions of the learned pontiffs are obviously nonsense calculated for no other purpose than to endow Wall Street’s real plans, with a high moral tone and to divert attention from the simplicity of the only sensible solution, that of revolutionary socialism. If the outstanding figures in American thought can’t solve it, the problem must be complex!
A DEMONSTRATION OF BANKRUPTCY What a demonstration of the bankruptcy and venality of capitalist thought is this conference! The intellectual leaders of mankind – professors, brilliant scientists, celebrated writers, theologians all these intellectual leaders are supposed to teach the younger generation the truth, supposed to show them how the marvellous products of human thought and intelligence can be employed for the benefit and advancement of mankind. And every one of them (with but one or two notable exceptions), have sold themselves as but venal tools, clever sophists, jesuitical apologists and technical advisers to the bloodsoaked capitalist rulers. And today the crowning scientific achievement of the control of atomic energy has first been used by the Wall Street masters – the real rulers of our society – in order to wipe two populous cities off the face of the earth. If they had any common decency, these intellectual leaders would abdicate, they would publicly acknowledge that they, supposed leaders of thought, are bankrupt, and that the masses must turn elsewhere for guidance and leadership. But they are not honest. They are not independent. They continue, like the venal-tools that they are, to spin sophistries, to give vent to pompous pronouncements in order to befuddle the minds of the people and keep them subservient to the powers that be.
Many American youths are attracted by science and intellectual effort. They feel their capacity to develop as technicians. scientists, thinkers, writers. For such youths the Conference offers an impressive lesson. In the capitalist world the best a budding scientist or intellectual can hope for is inclusion in the august group of clowns who are assigned to persuade the young to become docile cannon fodder, to “think” for public consumption as Wall Street dictates and to work out the secrets of nature in order to place these secrets at the disposal of ignorant, savage generals and profit-hungry monsters, people who are willing to lay mankind on the wheel of fortune as a stake in their insane gamble for universal power.
Against this forbidding and repulsive perspective only the science of Marxism and the struggle for socialism offer goals worthy of people who count themselves members of the human race and not anti-human beasts. And we say to the youth of America: turn your backs on this vile crew of capitalist spokesmen, on these men who have sold their souls to the generals and the money changers! And join with the only honest movement of today, the revolutionary movement for socialism, the only movement that offers humanity the possibility of achieving peace, well-being, freedom and the dignity of man.
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Last updated on 12.9.2008