Main NI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

The New International, September 1941


The War in Russia

Manifesto of the American Committee for the Fourth International


From New International, Vol. VII No. 8 (Whole No. 57), September 1941, pp. 204–7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE DIE IS CAST. Hitler approaches the gates of Moscow. Stalin’s criminal contortion and maneuvers, which have led to the annihilation of the greatest revolution in history, are coming to an end. Year after year, Stalin has followed a continuous policy of concealed or undisguised treasons against the interests of the workers of Russia and of the world. His sole aim has always been that of his perpetuation in power. To impose upon the Russian people the rule of a bureaucratic oligarchy divorced from the masses, he committed all sorts of crimes, trampled upon the noblest feelings of the socialist workers, and courted every capitalist regime and government. In 1927 he sacrificed to the feudal lords of China the oppressed Chinese masses; shortly after that, he abandoned the German working class, delivering them to Hitler with hands and feet bound; fearing the consequences of this self-destructive policy, he proceeded to force the French workers into submission to Laval, Daladier & Co., thus demoralizing the French and the western working class and soiling the banner of communism. Finally, in a last and deliberate treason, he destroyed physically the best leaders of the Spanish revolution and so drowned in blood the first great revolution that came near to victory after the Russian Revolution of 1917. As a result of all this, we now have Franco in Spain, Pétain in France, Paris under the boots of Hitler’s soldiers, and the European proletariat defeated and demoralized.

Seeing all the possibilities of a revolution in the West wiped out and Russia completely isolated, squeezed in the grips of Japan and Germany, Stalin began to court the Führer’s good graces. This abomination reached its climax with the shameful German-Russian pact of 1939, which was the signal given to Hitler for the beginning of the Second World War. At that time Hitler seemingly paid a high price for the treason, but as it always happens, the treason money was earmarked and of no use. In order to obtain a few evanescent territorial advantages, the Kremlin’s gloomy despot sacrificed the solidarity of the Polish, Finnish and Baltic masses, thus preparing the ground for invasion. And when Russia saw herself menaced these masses refused to participate in the defense, giving Hitler a free hand. If today the Finnish workers do not oppose the policy of their ruling class, which is sold to Hitler, this is due to the bureaucratic aggression against Finland in 1940, which was carried on with Berlin’s acquiescence. If the Baltic masses did not rise against the Nazi invaders and facilitate the conquest of these countries, having even cooperated with the aggressor in a few cases, helping them to capture some cities, this is due principally to the bureaucratic tyranny.

Why Stalin Wars

That is how all this series of crimes and treasons are winding up in the most complete disaster. Stalin will definitely become known to posterity as the organizer of defeat for the international working class. Unable to appease the covetousness and the wrath of Berlin’s victorious dictator, he submitted beforehand to everything, and if even today he is not “at peace” with Nazism and subordinated as a Quisling to the Führer’s sovereign will, the cause of this lies in the fact that the Führer refused to accept Stalin’s capitulation and thought it better to conquer by the power of his guns what was once the Soviet fatherland, to shatter the Red Army, and to eliminate all possibility of future resistance on his eastern front.

Driven to the wall, the Moscow dictator now has no one to appeal to but the same governments of the United States and England which even yesterday, to please his Berlin boss, he accused of being unfriendly to Russia, of being imperialists, warmongers, fascists and so on. Forced by circumstances to speak on the radio, addressing to the people of Russia and the world an appeal against the brutal aggression, Stalin loses his dictator’s arrogance and stammers, speaking like a defeated man. Not the slightest reference is made in his speech to the world proletariat’s solidarity; this force ceased to exist for him a long time ago. He did not dare to appeal to the revolutionary instincts or to the glorious traditions of the Russian working class. His only appeal was to the defense of the land and to patriotism, which he covered with an artificial layer of chauvinist and Pan Slavic nationalism. Outside of Russia, he only saw Churchill and Roosevelt.

We are now witnessing the end of his regime. For ten years the usurper has been destroying one by one the conquests of October; mercilessly he mowed down the revolutionary vanguard, and their remnants lie scattered, half destroyed, in the immense deserts and plains of Siberia, of Asia and the Polar Circle. Only a year ago the only great survivor of October – the last and most glorious living tradition of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky – was infamously slain by direct command of Stalin.

Anti-Fascism of the Russian Masses

However, in spite of Stalin, in spite of the totalitarian bureaucratic regime, in spite of the misery and oppression under which the Russian masses are held – under the impact of the bombs and tanks of the Nazi hordes the deep-rooted energies of the masses spring again to the surface. The anti-fascist hatred that lay smothered in the heart of the Russian workers, the old traditions of a proletariat who made three revolutions in one generation, come to life again, with heroic warmth, against the pestilential breath of the fascist beast. The muhziks’ ancient love for their soil awakens again in defense of the Russian land already razed by Hitler’s dark legions. With fanatic courage, the best soldiers of the Red Army are sacrificing their lives against the Nazi tanks and cannons, in defense of what still remains of the October Revolution, or, rather, of a tradition. The Stalinist regime is thus given an appearance of cohesion and strength. The new Czar’s adorers take advantage of this fact to boast about the people’s response to the Leader’s call. But this is only an appearance. It is not confidence in the false leader or love for the totalitarian regime oppressing them that moves the Russian masses. What moves them is their desire for liberation, their preservation instinct, the rekindled flames of the glorious traditions of October.

However, it is no time now to foster dangerous and fictional illusions. With the Red Army beheaded of its best leaders, the working class oppressed by many long years of reaction and also beheaded of its vanguard, the numerous peasantry fatalistically passive but unresigned to the exploitation of the bureaucratic totalitarian state, even the greatest heroism of the masses is insufficient. Thanks to Stalin’s maneuvers, the German attack against Russia was launched at the precise moment chosen by Hitler. Even if the political and military situation had been incomparably better than it is, even if the international working class had not suffered and were not still suffering from the consequences of a continuous series of defeats and catastrophes, even if the European proletariat were not, as they are today, subjugated by Hitler’s totalitarian tyranny, even so the Soviet Union could never triumph in a war against foreign enemies as the result exclusively of strategic and military operations. In the Soviet Union, more than in any other country, victory in case of war will be assured mainly by the power of its ideals, by the international solidarity of the workers, by the revolutionary prospects in other countries, and not by the Russian guns, tanks or planes alone. And these ideological weapons have all been squandered by Stalin.

Stalin’s New Friends

Now that Hitler’s bayonets are against his breast, Stalin has lost the last vestige of independence. It is his fate to become an obedient instrument in the hands of the London and Washington governments. That is how the man whom the paid officials of the CI call “the leader of the world proletariat” finds it his fate, if he wants to survive, to become a Quisling in democratic or fascist attire, whatever turn war events may take. Stalin is now nothing else but an Asiatic despot forced to submit to the will of the Western imperialist governments in order to maintain his power. The agreement or, in Churchill’s words, the “alliance” signed in Moscow by Molotov and the English ambassador, is nothing more than a compromise assumed by Churchill to maintain Stalin in power, trying to protract the existence of his government, hopelessly endangered in case of defeat; in return for this, Stalin promises to continue at war even if he will have to wage it from London or New York, at the service of his new bosses. Soviet diplomacy is already dictated by London. His principal aim is to defend his own regime by all possible means. Stalin may fall, however, and yet the struggle against the fascist invader may continue; Stalin may fall and yet the October Revolution will blossom again on the Russian soil.

The Stalinist bureaucratic gang now exploiting Russia’s toiling masses both in the cities and the country, long ago forsook the aim of establishing socialism or defending the workers’ interests, to adopt that of creating a new totalitarian regime in which this same bureaucracy would become a permanent new ruling class. This capital and transcendental theoretical historic question is going to be decided in fact by the present war.

Prospects Upon Victory or Defeat

Russia is now face to face with destiny. If the bureaucratic gang were able to go through the whole process of the present war uninjured, then the establishment of a new social class, based on a collective form of property, would be the clearly visible culmination of Russia’s political and economic evolution. This would be the blazoned regime of bureaucratic totalitarianism in its final form. On the other hand, if Hitler wins or defeats the Stalinist regime, this same blow will destroy precisely his own future, the only possible and satisfactory conclusion to his adventure. With this victory, he will have wiped from the face of the earth the gloomiest prospect now darkening the horizons of the approaching proletarian and socialist revolution, that is, that of the victory of his “new order,” the Iron Heel régime, a “new” order of bureaucratic, obscurantist and neo-feudal totalitarianism, made possible only in case of symbiosis of the two régimes now closer to this “ideal” – the régimes of Hitler and of Stalin.

As the return or triumph of bourgeois capitalist “democracy” is a decrepit dream and a reactionary Utopia, and as the present war will not come to its end if and when Hitler enters the Kremlin’s gates, the only hope emerging from the ruins of the bourgeois civilization, the only spark that shines over humanity, is the banner of socialism.

Whatever may be the end of the Russo-German war, the régime of the Stalinist bureaucracy is doomed. Russian victory against Hitler would only be made possible by a profound revolution of the masses and the consequent restoration of the conquests of October and of the rights and benefits to the Russian working class that the Bolshevist revolution sought to give them in its beginning. If this fails to come, what the Soviet Union may expect is defeat by Hitler’s guns or, possibly, dismemberment even in case of an Allied victory.

There is therefore no place in this war for defense of the present Soviet régime under Stalin’s dictatorship. In the land of the Bolshevist Revolution, the struggle for national independence is tightly linked with the struggle for social freedom of the masses. This is due especially to the fact that there is no Czar, no prince, no descendant of the old dynasties, who can appear to the people in the Soviet Union as a symbol of this struggle. Neither can the future leaders or organizers of the country’s defense against the invaders come from the circle of White Russian émigrés. Nor is this a task for Kerensky & Co., or for other remnants of a defeated class inevitably doomed to be the agents of foreign powers, or for the present Russian military leaders like Timoschenko, who was boasting not long ago that his country was the only really and completely totalitarian country in the world; still less can it be a task for the military leaders of England and her allies, even if they are the victors in this war.

Future in Hands of Workers and Peasants

Preservation of Russian national independence will be the work of men coming from the people and bringing with them not only the idea of national independence but also the program of social liberation. They will come from the proletarian ranks of the Red Army, and from distant Siberia, an academy for revolutionists since the Czarist remote epochs. They will come from the inspired and oppressed layers of the young people; from the isolators, the concentration camps replete with those who have escaped death and who were thrown there by Stalin, or in other words, they will come from the heroic Old Guard of Bolshevism, the best part of the new generation, the authentic disciples, the real successors of Lenin and Trotsky. To them must go the solidarity of the workers of the world, for only they can lead the people to victory in their legitimate and sacred struggle against the fascist invader.

Stalin urged the peasants and soldiers to destroy everything in their way before retreating under the impact of the fascist blows, and to wage a guerilla war of partisans at the rear guard of the invaders. But the conditions today are not the same as in the first years of the civil war. At that time the peasants could wage a war of partisans against the White Russians and the capitalist invaders, because they had something concrete to defend: their land recently conquered by the October Revolution. In spontaneous uprisings, the workers of the cities marched to support the struggle in all fronts, and faced all situations, in a prodigious explosion of initiative from below, because they were impelled by the ideals engraved on the banner of Bolshevism and not defamed then by the Stalinist degeneration. They felt that they really had a new world to conquer, that they were really engaged in crushing the old world of oppression and misery and avoiding its return with the victory of counter-revolution.

Today the peasant, under the oppression of the totalitarian state, hates the Kremlin lord and feels that he is robbed of his labor’s fruits on behalf of a privileged caste. The workers understand that they have been expropriated of their revolution and in the same factories taken by them in 1917 they now feel themselves under a new yoke, under the ferocious discipline of a new exploiter, the bureaucracy.

The surprising fact, however, that gives us all hope, is that even under these circumstances these heroic masses, refusing to accept the yoke of the new fascist invaders, resist them with great courage. They are moved by two profound and progressive feelings: an old natural patriotism of people who have only such elementary and legitimate things to defend as their bread and their land, and the anti-fascist hatred originated from the workers’ old instinct of liberation.

Hitler Is Not Warring on Socialism

The prolonged degeneration of the Soviet state has taken from Hitler the possibility of satisfying one of his great ambitions, as he offered himself too late to be the super-Wrangel of the international bourgeois class in an anti-communist crusade. When Stalin, ahead of Hitler, crushed the October Revolution, he made it impossible for Hitler’s victory over Russia to be a victory over communism. By defeating Stalin, the gloomy Berlin Don Quixote will not defeat the follower or disciple of Lenin, but, on the contrary, the usurper of Lenin’s banner. If the Nazi hordes find their way to the Kremlin, they will no longer find the banner of socialism unfurled over its walls. With their guns, they can conquer in the battlefield a corrupt totalitarian bureaucracy, or a decadent bourgeois class like that of France. Socialism, however, will not succumb to Hitler’s bombs and cannons.

War will not end with Hitler’s entry into Moscow. The decisive victory that he seeks flits on more rapidly than the advance of his Blitzkrieg. The sinister bandit of Berchtesgaden is continuously running after new victories that soon vanish as mirages of the desert. With the fatality of a stone rolling from a mountain, the capitalist world tumbles down day by day. It is not Hitler who makes history; on the contrary, it is the course of history that leads him inexorably to the abyss. Every day he is forced to improvise new issues, to invent new aims, to change directions, to make new attempts, the same as any impotent bourgeois government of a “democratic” country. Blind as a doomed man, he goes on undermining the ground under his own feet at every new “victory” and initiative. Carrying along misery, war and devastation wherever his reactionary legions tread, he saps the old capitalist order, but he does not establish any order, new or old: the only things he establishes are slavery, terror and chaos, masked with a tragic caricature of “revolution. In fact, what he carries along with him everywhere is a permanent counter-revolution.

Assaulting Russia, the most he can do, besides getting some immediate material advantages in case of an overpowering but transient victory, is to destroy a decayed regime and crush Stalinism. But the Russian land in its immensity will absorb his exclusively military victory and meanwhile the people, who are tempered by the traditions of their great revolution and brought up in anti-fascist hatred, are immune from internal poisoning by means of assimilation of the conqueror’s ideology. By destroying with his guns the Stalinist totalitarian régime, Hitler, like the sorcerer’s apprentice of the fable, will have set loose the forces of history, bringing forth the torrents of revolution. Socialism and the Russian proletariat will stand firm, and the future is theirs. Russia of October will resurge.

Socialism – The Hope of the Future

Stalinism, or what is still known as the Communist International, will thus disappear opprobriously under the heels of the fascist victor or under those of the “democratic” allies. It is now more necessary than ever to tell the truth to the millions of workingmen who are still deceived by Stalinism. It is necessary to keep them from being, through disillusionment or deception, led out of the struggle or into prostration or resignation in view of the triumph of the mortal enemy – fascism. Stalinism is doomed precisely because it betrayed the October Revolution. Socialism will not be crushed with it. The logic of history is often obscure. In the final crisis of the capitalist regime, the forces of reaction and of treachery are the first to be wiped from the scene by the social whirlwind. Stalinism, as a dead and decayed branch of Bolshevism, could not resist the lash of the war tempests. It is time now for unification of all the proletarian forces of the world to prepare for the final assault, when “democrats” and fascists, conquered or conquerors from the bourgeois camps, will have torn each other up in the war that they themselves unleashed. The thousands of Stalinist militants who are still misled by the tremendous machine of Moscow propaganda must now prepare to unite with the conscious revolutionary elements in order to reorganize the phalanxes of the revolutionary army of the workers of the world and to continue the glorious historical task only begun by the October Revolution in 1917. The banner of Marx, the banner of Lenin, the banner of Trotsky, will not fall with Stalin’s defeat. Millions and millions of hands must now unite to hold it in order to unfold it over the ruins of the capitalist world. Even Hitler’s victory over Russia, should it come, will have been but a passing though gloomy moment in the course of the final struggle for socialism and for real democracy. These will come along with total war as a last surprise in stock for humanity, but this time for its benefit.

Down with the fascist invader!

Freedom for the thousands of political prisoners who are the victims of Stalinist totalitarian oppression! For a new workers’ and peasants’ government based on the soldiers’, sailors’, peasants’ and workers’ councils, to repel the fascist invader and restore the rights and liberties of the Russian people that have been taken away from them by the Stalinist bureaucracy!

For the Socialist United States of Europe!

For unification of all the socialist and revolutionary forces of the world in one party – the world party of socialist revolution, successor of the First, the Second and the Third Internationals!

For a new, for a Fourth International!


Top of page

Main NI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 25 October 2014