From Fourth International, September-October 1947, Vol.8 No.8, pp.231-233.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
On October 5 Moscow announced the organization of a European “Information Bureau,” with headquarters in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Its purpose is ostensibly to “coordinate the activities” of Stalinist parties in nine countries, including Russia, France, Italy and the six East European countries in the Kremlin’s “buffer zone.” Since the activities of all Stalinist parties are already “coordinated” by Moscow this move is obviously a diplomatic maneuver in the Kremlin’s attempts to counter the tightening encirclement of American imperialism. It is Stalin’s way of threatening such “terrible” things as the revival of the Third International which he dissolved in the summer of 1943 in return for lend-lease from Wall Street.
The capitalist press, upon a signal from Washington, at once stepped up its beating of war drums. This hysterical campaign was summed up authoritatively, on October 7, by the New York Times’ editors as follows: With the “formation of a new Communist International headed by Soviet Russia,” Stalin has “dealt a mortal blow” to the few remaining hopes for a “new world order.” Torn “to shreds (are) all the wartime agreements, from the Atlantic Charter to Potsdam.” To all this they add that the Kremlin has now unmasked itself openly as an aggressor bent on grabbing the world, with Europe for a starter. The only conclusion one can draw is – another war!
The Social Democrats of the New Leader stripe chime in by depicting Stalin’s latest chess-move on the board of power politics as being directly in line with the program of “world revolution” advocated in the days of Lenin and Trotsky.
The proponents of the theory that Stalinism represents some sort of new exploitive class in history likewise represent the Kremlin as driving for the seizure of power in Europe to install, of course, its own “class rule” there.
These interpretations of the Kremlin maneuver are fraudulent from beginning to end. If Stalinism were really bent on seizing power, it could have done so before this, above all on the continent of Europe. The Stalinist parties in France and Italy have had the backing of the majority of the working class and need only have given the signal to tumble the whole rotten capitalist structure. But they have followed just the opposite course. They still do.
In France, Italy and elsewhere the Stalinist chieftains are doing their utmost to prevent the masses from taking the road of revolution. That is why they continue so persistently to demand posts in the government. That is why even in the manifesto announcing the new “Information Bureau” they make the “struggle” for cabinet posts the pivotal point. That is why in this manifesto they do not utter a word about revolutionary socialism and the struggle for workers’ power. That is why Tito in Yugoslavia has called for “People’s Fronts” – alliances with capitalist elements “friendly” to the Kremlin, political coalitions which in action prop up capitalist regimes and block the road of the masses to revolution.
The Stalinist bureaucracy cannot turn to revolution. They fear the revolution as much as do the imperialists, as much as do the Social Democratic lackeys of Wall Street. For this would set in motion forces that would end by sweeping Stalinism out of power and rejuvenating the Soviet Union as a democratic workers’ state in the process.
What then is the correct appraisal of Stalin’s latest move? To understand it fully, this announcement must be placed in the context of the “cold” war between Washington and Moscow which continues to mount in intensity. The press of both countries has been filled for months with bitter accusations and counter-accusations; diplomats shout furiously at one another; the UN has been converted into a noisy sounding board; and the ominous talk of eventual shooting war grows ever louder.
Contrary to the imperialist propagandists and their echoes, it is not the Kremlin but the White House which is the aggressor in this world diplomatic struggle. Wall Street, as we have continually warned, is methodically proceeding with its blueprint of world conquest. At home it is stock-piling atomic bombs, experimenting with jet-propelled rocket bombs, tightening the screws on the labor movement. Abroad it is closing in, step by step, on the Soviet Union and its “buffer zones” – the main areas it wishes to open up to American capital. The deepening crisis of English and European capitalism, the threat of an economic crisis at home, spur Wall Street to speed its preparations and move ahead as fast as possible with its plans.
The military pact recently signed at Metropolis, Brazil, was designed to commit all the Latin American countries in advance to enter the projected conflict as vassals of Wall Street. This pact consolidated the Western Hemisphere as the home base of operations for the planned assault. The agreement with Great Britain over the Ruhr, which set up a “joint” commission to rule that area, has entrenched Wall Street more firmly in Germany as a prospective beach head in Western Europe. Similarly on the eastern side of the Eurasian mainland, the US military government, with its base in Japan, has been digging deeper into the Korean beach head. The latest excuse for the continued retention of American bayonets in Korea is the timely discovery of a “Russian directive” to set up a “Communist” regime in Korea should American troops withdraw.
Greece is being feverishly prepared as a spear into the Balkan flank and a gateway to the Black Sea. While American dollars build a golden buttress for the puppet monarchy, and American military experts, with US armament stockpiles to draw upon, groom the Greek armed forces, the State Department swings two propaganda brushes. One is smearing the Greek partisans as “invaders,” the other whitewashes the Greek quislings as “liberals.”
It is in the setting of this US drive for world mastery that we must fit the Marshall Plan, the recent verbal explosions that threaten to blow up the United Nations and Stalin’s counter-moves in Europe.
The Marshall Plan, now down in black and white, is clearly designed to by-pass any deal with the Kremlin and to build instead an anti-Soviet Western Bloc of European capitalist powers. While the Marshall Plan attempts to stave off depression at home by providing means to keep up the current rate of exports, its primary aim is to stabilize European capitalism in preparation for World War III.
Wall Street hopes to avert socialist revolutions in Europe by soup-kitchen hand-outs to the starving masses. It hopes to put securely in the saddle counter-revolutionary regimes that will play Wall Street’s game in Europe as servilely as the majority of the Latin American regimes.
A big step toward the consolidation of the Western Bloc was taken when delegates of 16 nations put the finishing touches on the Marshall Plan. Thereupon, to underscore its determination to force a showdown with the Kremlin, the Truman Administration launched a political power play against Moscow in the United Nations.
Let us recall that Secretary of State Marshall, fresh from his triumph at the Metropolis Conference, took the offensive against the USSR. His proposals – limitation of the veto power and organization of a General Assembly standing committee to act as a check on the Security Council – were an obvious squeeze play. If Moscow accepted it meant bowing to Wall Street’s will, since the latter controls the majority UN vote. If Moscow refused, Wall Street could paint this up as the obstructive tactics of a minority that stubbornly refuses to accept majority rule – an equally obvious preparation to drive Moscow and her satellites out of the United Nations.
Stalin has reacted to Wall Street’s open preparations for war in much the way a reactionary labor bureaucrat might be expected to react to a union-smashing lockout. He kept trying to reach an agreement. As late as the Paris conference that launched the Marshall Plan, Stalin was still hopeful of a deal with Washington. Molotov brought with him to that conference some 80 experts – just in case. At the same time, the press rumored that secret conversations were going on between Washington and the Kremlin.
What Stalin sought was a “non-agression pact” such as he won from Hitler in 1939, plus substantial economic aid. In return he offered his counter-revolutionary services in meeting the second wave of the postwar revolutionary upsurge. But Wall Street which was only too glad to have Stalin’s services during the first upsurge following World War II is no longer willing to meet the Kremlin’s price.
To begin with, Truman’s advisers have apparently calculated that the Kremlin is forced in its own interests to head off working class revolution. Why then pay for something that the Kremlin is obliged to do anyway? Moreover, can the Stalinist bureaucracy deliver the goods even if willing?
The economic and political crisis is so profound in Europe that only the most strenuous efforts by Wall Street can possibly avert revolution in any case. An agent willing to sell out the revolution is not enough. Other resources are needed. Thrown back on its own resources, Wall Street prefers to depend upon itself and its own trusted agents among the European capitalists.
The deal did not go through. Washington made it amply plain that the only deal possible with Moscow is on its, own terms, and no others. This is what has driven the Kremlin to its latest “threat.”
Forced by Wall Street into dependency on his own resources, Stalin finds his troubles intensified. He must keep a wary eye on the seething masses in Europe, the growing discontent in his “buffer zone,” and the crisis that is maturing within the USSR itself. Stalin is in mortal terror of being “outflanked” on the left in France and Italy. He needs safeguards here against the development of the revolution, and with it, the power of the ideas of Trotskyism, and the Fourth International. The policy of “People’s Fronts” organized against Hitler, ensnared the masses before the last war. It finally paid off with a pact. Perhaps it may do so again?
Stalin needs an answer to the immediate threat of expulsion from the United Nations. What can he then offer the Soviet peoples and the misguided masses that still follow Stalinism in Europe and throughout the world? In setting up this European “Information Bureau” he is preparing the bases for a caricature “league of nations” of his own.
But the problem of problems remains – How to force a deal with Wall Street – this colossus advancing on the Soviet Union, atomic bomb in hand? Nostalgically recalling the days when the Communist International was indeed something which could be bargained off in deals with fascist and “democratic” imperialists alike, Stalin now hopes to dust off this corpse, utilizing it on the one hand to dupe the masses and on the other to force the long-hoped for deal with Wall Street.
In any case, a new note has been struck in the Kremlin’s propaganda in recent months. The Soviet press began to recall the November 1917 revolution. It began to hammer on the danger of aggression from American imperialism. As the campaign gained momentum, epithets formerly hurled at Hitler and the Mikado were turned in the direction of Truman and Marshall.
In the UN, Vishinsky countered Marshall’s maneuvers with a long speech on Wall Street’s warmongering. The “peace-loving” “democratic” ally of yesterday was suddenly discovered to be – imperialist.
Moscow followed up the revelation of these profound secrets with its “bombshell” – the “Information Bureau.”
Floundering, desperately seeking ways and means to convince the American rulers that a deal is called for, the Kremlin has no other weapon than resort to political blackmail. Against Wall Street’s monopoly of atomic energy, Stalin threatens to gain monopoly of the revolutionary energy of the masses, but strictly contained and controlled. He hopes to use that energy to drive the pistons of Stalinist power politics, without permitting this energy to mount to levels dangerous to the Moscow bureaucracy.
In Europe, Stalin’s latest “left” propaganda and its new center, the “Information Bureau,“ is aimed to serve the Stalinist chieftains who must dangle tokens of militancy before the masses or risk losing their leading positions. It is aimed above all to hold back the second revolutionary wave which may very well engulf the Stalinist parties. Moscow hopes to use the mass upsurge in order to regain cabinet posts in Italy and France from which it was driven by Wall Street. The Stalinists would then utilize the government power that goes with such posts to restrain the masses while at the same time putting the heat on Wall Street for a deal.
Inside the Soviet Union, the Stalinist “turn” serves to divert the eyes of the discontented masses away from the crimes of the regime and back to the war danger abroad. But under no conditions will Stalin – with all the “information bureaus” he may set up – venture upon the road of the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. His aims do not go beyond the reactionary limits outlined above.
Neither the past nor present policies of the Kremlin, including the caricature international body installed in Belgrade, has anything in common with the program of revolutionary socialism advocated by the Communist International under Lenin and Trotsky. The only heir of the world-historic struggles and traditions of the first four Congresses of the Comintern and the sole continuator of its work is the Fourth International.
The final word in the struggle against Wall Street’s drive for world mastery still remains with the working class, in the first instance with the American workers and with the workers of Europe who have gone through so terrible a school. Two world wars and the malignant spread of fascism in the interval between, have shown them that capitalism can offer nothing but destruction and frightful oppression. If they still have any illusions about the intentions of Stalinism to lead them to socialism, those illusions cannot long survive. For fast as the showdown between Wall Street and the Kremlin is developing, the revolutionary crisis in Europe is developing still faster. The upheaval in Europe, once it begins, will develop such colossal power that neither Wall Street’s Western Bloc nor the Kremlin will be able to stop it. Instead they will be swept away like dead trees in a seething torrent of lava.
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Last updated on 16.2.2009