From New International, Vol. VII No. 4, May 1941, p. 67.
ranscribed & marked up by Damon Maxwell for ETOL.
MAY DAY, 1941, at a time when World War II enters the latter half of its second year. What began as a war of defense limited to the areas of the Maginot Line, and to prosaic minds appeared to be a “phony war,” has now become a far-flung and large-scale conflict of movement and position. Nation after nation has succumbed to the mechanized might and the force of overwhelming numbers that make up the Nazi war machine. For all practical purposes, the British Empire continues to fight on alone, aided by the increasing material support of the United States. Is the war reaching a bloody climax which will bring victory to Hitler’s menacing legions or does humanity face a long war of attrition with its attendant misery for hundreds of millions of people the world over, with victory for neither of the imperialist camps?
Certainly an active revolutionary world proletariat, organized in an international body based upon a program of universal socialism, would by its very existence answer the foregoing question. But May Day, 1941, finds the working class movements in all the major countries either destroyed or so disoriented that to hope for socialism – i.e., for peace and plenty for all humanity – seems completely illusory. The international proletariat, the millions of disenfranchised members of the middle classes, the hundreds of millions of impoverished peasants and colonial peoples – it is necessary to speak frankly – have been sacrificed upon the altar of Stalinism and the reformism of the Second International. What then of the future? Is there nothing but despair? Or, must the great masses of the so-called democratic imperialist nations forever abandon their most cherished hopes in the future of the classless socialist society, to follow the lead of a new generation of apostates who have found a new heroism and a new future in the bitter struggle waged by British and American imperialisms to defend their ill-begotten riches from the murderous Hitlerian hordes?
For our part, we do not feel it necessary to give up a single one of our ideas anent the inevitability of the victorious socialist future. Quite characteristically enough, opponents of the main doctrines of Marxian socialism, those who find the doctrine of the inevitability of socialism “mystical” and “unscientific,” are themselves wandering about helter-skelter, without purpose, goal or future, unless it be to attach themselves to the war machines of Anglo-American imperialism or to find solace in the so-called logical and “inevitable” triumph of totalitarian politics and autarchic economics.
The international situation, however, gives the lie to these apostates. For all their attempts to paint this war as the antithesis of World War I, that is to say, as a war for truly democratic and, some say, socialist aims, a more fundamental analysis of the causes of the current conflict reveals it to be nothing more nor less than a new struggle for the redivision of the earth, the impelling motives of which were long ago analyzed by Marxist theoreticians and propagandists. The placement of the fascist powers in one camp arises out of then-particular relation to the control of the world markets, but this fact has only served to becloud the true nature of the war which is imperialist through and through.
Is it preferable to have Hitler win? This does not at all follow from a condemnation of the present war as imperialist. But certainly, the victory against Hitler cannot be achieved merely upon military grounds. A true and lasting victory against Hitler, which means a true and lasting victory against capitalism, the profit system, the social order of class exploitation, is possible only by the overthrow of capitalist society and the establishment of socialism, which would banish forever hunger, unemployment, poverty and wars – and above all, make impossible the existence of Hitlers, Mussolinis, fascism in general, or the incipient fascists personified by the English aristocratic ruling class or America’s hard-fisted and ruthless financial and industrial overlords.
Supposing the working classes do not succeed in destroying the capitalist social order of misery and war, what then? A recent editorial of the New York Daily News, we believe, supplies somewhat of a picture of the future of capitalist society. We quote:
“In this world, WHOSE NORMAL STATE IS WAR WITH ABNORMAL INTERLUDES OF PEACE, we must have a large standing army, among other weapons, and a big reserve of trained men.” (Our emphasis.)
For our part, this kind of a future, i.e., permanent unemployment, exploitation and permanent war is precisely what we seek to abolish. We cannot believe that the hundreds of millions in Europe, Asia and Africa will long suffer existent conditions. We are certain that before long the world will witness heroic uprisings of the great masses in all countries seeking to break once and for all the chains of exploitation and establish the true free society of socialism. In these future struggles for liberty the peoples of the Americas will not be found wanting. This future is far more realistic than the idea that humanity will gain most in a victory of Anglo-American imperialism. We omit, of course, mention of the Axis, because we do not feel it necessary to add what we have been saying for so long, that the victory of Hitler would be, indeed, a dreadful calamity. But a practical demonstration of socialism would do more to destroy that apostle of darkness than a million airplanes.
Last updated on 25 October 2014