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Labor Action, 21 September 1942


How Soviet Russia Beat Imperial Germany

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 38, 21 September 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


NEXT WEEK: Labor Action Begins Publishing the Dramatic Story of How the Bolsheviks Helped Blow Up the Kaiser and Brought World War I to a Speedy End

The whole capitalist press, the most conservative dailies as well as the liberal weeklies, are filled with articles and editorials expressing envious admiration of the fight being put up by the Red Army in the fight against the Reichswehr.

What is it they admire so much? What is it they want imitated? Is it anything socialistic in Russia that they give credit for the Red Army’s fight? Is it anything working-class in Russia that they praise and summon us to emulate in this country?

Not at all. They are perfectly well aware that Russia today and the gang that rules it have nothing whatsoever to do with socialism or with the working class. They are perfectly well aware that the Stalinist bureaucracy succeeded in doing, from within, what the world of imperialism failed to do with arms in hands a quarter of a century ago, namely, to destroy the revolutionary Soviet Republic of Lenin and Trotsky.

Why Capitalists Applaud Russia Today

What, then, do they admire? The very same things that they denounce in the Hitler regime! They repeat in a thousand different ways, especially for the benefit of their working-class readers:

“Look at Russia! That’s where everybody does as he is told by the supreme boss, and he doesn’t ask questions, either. That’s where labor works all sorts of hours per day, where it doesn’t get the 40-hour week, as Stalin just told Averill Harriman. That’s where they don’t have strikes, because anyone trying it would be shot in his tracks. That’s where the government is able to fling hundreds of thousands into slaughter like so much cannon-fodder and nobody is allowed to ask why, or any other question.

“That’s the kind of strong and stern regime we need in this country, too.”

In other words, the capitalist press applauds Russia for precisely those features that show the reactionary role it is playing in the Second World War.

This reactionary role of Russia in the war has produced its catastrophic results for the country. In spite of the human sacrifices that the Stalinist regime makes with the same callousness that the Hitlerite regime displays, its army has been forced back in one sector after another. After a year and a quarter of warfare between the two countries, the Stalinist regime has failed to make a single political dent among the soldiers of Hitler or his allies. At the beginning of the war, the Russian propagandists made a few feeble efforts to claim that some German soldiers had come over to the Red Army here and there. Now they no longer even make the claim.

What a murderous indictment of the Stalin regime, of this so-called “workers’ state,” that the oppressed armed masses of Hitler do not see enough difference between what they have and what the Russian masses have to warrant their going over to the side of Stalin! Because is has offered the German troops nothing more than the prospect of supporting the Anglo-American-Muscovite imperialist camp, with a super-Versailles Treaty at the end of the war – and because the German troops have remained ice-cold to this generous offer – the Stalin regime has turned the most violently chauvinistic attacks upon the German people and the German army as a whole, speaking of them all in terms which would make an arch-reactionary whiskey-swilling British imperialist turn green with envy.

Result: the German masses are driven to huddle closer around the hateful Hitlerite regime of oppression. All the Hitlerite propagandists have to do is to say: “See what the Anglo-American imperialists will do to us if we fail to fight to the end against losing this war? See what the ‘Bolsheviks’ will do to all of us if we don’t win?” The only real lie in this propaganda is calling the Stalinist reactionaries “Bolsheviks.” They have as little in common with the Bolsheviks or the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as the Man in the Moon.

The genuine Bolsheviks were forced to fight a war with German imperialism in 1918. But what a world of difference there was between the war they fought and the war Stalin is fighting today! Not just a difference in “method,” but a fundamental difference in the nature, the aim, the spirit, the character of the war. Did Lenin and Trotsky refuse to take aid from the Anglo-French imperialists? Of course not. They would have been foolish to reject any aid – although they had little opportunity to reject it, since the aid never came. As Lenin explained, there is nothing wrong with an honest man paying a bandit a few rubles or a bottle of whiskey in exchange for a revolver with which to shoot a tyrant.

But the Bolsheviks, in fighting Hohenzollern Germany’s assault upon Russia, never made an alliance with Anglo-American-French imperialism! They tore up all of Russia’s old secret treaties with the Western imperialists and denounced them to the world. They put forward a program of world peace through socialism, of world peace without annexations or indemnities. They kept their revolutionary socialist hands completely free of an alliance with one imperialist against another, and declared that they rejected in principle any victory obtained in such manner.

In other words, they acted exactly the opposite way from Stalin, because they represented a revolutionary workers’ government and not a reactionary government of bureaucratic exploitation such as Stalin’s.

Because they could appeal to the German workers-in-uniform in the name of a socialist, working-class struggle against both imperialist camps, in the name of the Third Camp of socialism and people’s freedom throughout the world, because they didn’t ask the Germans to exchange one imperialist master for another, as Stalin now does, the Bolsheviks gained the ear of the German soldier.

The Bolshevik war against the Hohenzollern dynasty and armies was a working-class, socialist war. That’s why the German masses responded to the Bolshevik cries for solidarity. A very few months after the Kaiser forced an iniquitous “peace treaty” upon the vanquished Bolsheviks, the German masses rose and overthrew the Kaiser and his regime. They brought the First World War to an end. That’s what a genuine people’s war against fascism, that’s what a genuine socialist war against fascism could do today. The imperialists cannot do it, not even when they call themselves democrats.

Full Story in Next Week’s Labor Action

How did the Bolsheviks defeat the Kaiser? How did they help bring the World War to an early end?

We’re going to tell the story beginning with next week’s Labor Action. It will be told in the eloquent and picturesque words of one of the ablest writers ever produced by the labor movement, the American Bolshevik, John Reed.

John Reed wrote the epic story of the revolution – Ten Days That Shook the World. He was there all the time, in those stirring 1917 days. He was there after the Bolsheviks took power, too. And he was a direct participant in the vast socialist propaganda campaign which the Soviets carried on among the Germans in occupied Russia as well as in Germany itself and which finally broke the Kaiser’s neck. So when Reed wrote about this campaign, he knew what he was writing about.

His great book is very widely known. His story of How Soviet Russia Conquered Imperial Germany, which appeared in the revolutionary magazine, The Liberator, in January 1919, is not so well known. It is even more timely than it was when it first appeared. That is why we start printing it next week.


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