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Fourth International, April 1949


Editorial Review

Another Impotent Maneuver


From Fourth International, Vol.10 No.4, April 1949, pp.102-103.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Within the space of a few weeks, the policy of world Stalinism has undergone a violent shift. Cachin’s peace offering, promising permanent cohabitation between the capitalist and Communist world extending even to critical support of the Marshall plan, has been replaced by the bellicose threat of Thorez to support the Soviet Army in the event of a war. In rapid succession, a dozen Communist parties, from Israel to Columbia, fell into line with declarations of loyalty to the Kremlin.

Both the “peace feelers” and the “war threats” are variations on the same theme – an attempt to halt the ominous advance of American imperialism. Stalin’s diplomatic gyrations, based on a foredoomed attempt to cheat the class struggle, has landed the Soviet Union in a blind alley. It is now face to face with the North Atlantic Pact, the most serious threat from world imperialism outside of military intervention in 1919-21 and the Nazi attack in 1941.

Stalin’s efforts to halt the mobilization of armed might being arrayed against the Soviet Union have proved to be feeble and desperate gestures. We pointed out in our editorial last month that the price of the counterrevolutionary services of the Stalinist parties had drastically declined on the world diplomatic market. Precisely because the Stalinist parties in the major European countries no longer constituted an imminent revolutionary threat they could be dispensed with as a prop to maintain capitalist “stability.” American imperialism therefore found it possible to brusquely reject the “peace feelers” and to reveal the mailed fist of the Atlantic Pact beneath the silken glove of the Marshall Plan.

Equally impotent now are the “threats” of Thorez and Togliatti, not to speak of Pollit, Foster, Grotewohl and the other lesser Stalinist hacks in Cuba, Switzerland and Argentina. At the very moment their shouts that the workers of their country will never fight the Soviet Union reach a crescendo, the State Department has battered down opposition in Norway and is dragging Denmark into an anti-Soviet military lineup. Who but the most desperate eclectic could have expected differently?

The prior announcement of Stalinist opposition to a war by American imperialism against the Soviet Union was no revelation to the strategists in the State Department. They have been proceeding on this assumption at least since the promulgation of the Truman Doctrine. One of the main aims of the Marshall Plan was to drive the Stalinists out of the governments in France and Italy as the price of economic aid. Since then, no stone has been left unturned to organize the forces of reaction in each country to smash the Communist parties. Not the least of the objects of the Atlantic Pact is to place the military equipment at the disposal of the native capitalist rulers which will guarantee the success of internal repressive measures.

The Stalinist leaders themselves have prepared the political basis of this repression. Beginning with the turn to people’s frontism in 1935, these bureaucrats became the arch-patriots in every country allied with the USSR. This chauvinism reached its most disgusting depths during the war years when Thorez and Duclos in chorus with de Gaulle were shouting for the blood of “the Boche.”

The workers, however, particularly in Europe did not follow the Stalinists because they were the best jingoes but rather because of the mistaken opinion that Stalinism represented communism and the Russian Revolution. Their understandable indifference toward the question of whether the Stalinists were better defenders of “national sovereignty” than the French or Italian capitalists facilitated the victory of the Marshall Plan.

This apathy – and even demoralization – can only be deepened by the “pro-Soviet” declarations of the Stalinist leaders. The workers are now discovering that the “maneuver” of patriotism does not culminate in a revolutionary policy but with a frank confession of the “border guard” role which the Soviet bureaucracy has assigned to the Communist parties. If this role does not find an enthusiastic response, it is not because the communist masses are against the defense of the Soviet Union but rather because they cannot visualize such defense separate and apart from the struggle against their own bourgeoisie.

On the other hand, the new “turn” of the Stalinists must alienate thousands of its middle class followers. Attracted in the early postwar period by sympathy with socialism to the Communist parties, their nationalist illusions were strengthened by the chauvinism of the Stalinist leaders. In their eyes, the recent declarations of loyalty to the Soviet Army can only be viewed as “treachery” to the “fatherland.” Not all the tortured logic of Duclos (“the French people now have two fatherlands – their own and the USSR”) will stem their movement to the de Gaullists whom they consider the authentic patriots.

The one virtue of the present “turn” is that it reveals the basic perspective of Stalinism in the capitalist countries: collaboration with their native capitalist class or the role of underground agents for the Soviet bureaucracy in the event of a war. It should be unmistakably clear that the first policy has not prevented war but brought it dangerously close. It is doubtful that the second policy will meet with greater success.

The Soviet Union, above all, was the offspring of workers’ internationalism. It was saved from capitalist intervention in its early days not by “border guards” but by a revolutionary tide which engulfed European capitalism. By betraying this principle of internationalism, Stalinism has proved to be not only the foe of the world struggle for socialism; it reveals in the final stages of its degeneration that it is also a mortal danger to the continued existence of the Soviet Union.

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