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The New International, March 1944

Socialist United States of Europe – II

Another Viewpoint in the Discussion


From The New International, Vol. X No. 3, March 1944, pp. 89–93.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


[Continued from Last Issue]

Germany is the key to the European revolution. This is true not only because of the specific weight of the German proletariat in European society. It is also true because the collapse of Hitler will engender a revolutionary situation in Germany and simultaneously in those countries where the collapse of the German military removes the main obstacle to the revolutionary action of the masses. Revolutionary actions by the masses will be most difficult precisely in those countries where the fall of the German military is accomplished by, or if the armed forces of Germany are speedily replaced by, the armies of the bourgeois and Allied imperialist “liberators.” It can be put forward almost as an axiom: the more the masses are enchanted by “national liberation” and the struggle for bourgeois “democracy,” the easier will it be to put them under the domination of their bourgeois and imperialist “liberators.”

By the same token, the revolutionary struggle of the German workers will be obstructed to the extent that “national liberation” and the struggle for bourgeois democracy comes” forward to derail them from the struggle for Soviets and the socialist revolution. At the present time in Germany the advanced workers should come forward more and more with the demand that the German soldiers be withdrawn from the occupied countries, where they are used to oppress their class brothers in the other nations. It will be the duty of the American, British, French, Czech, Polish, etc., workers to come forward with a similar demand if the armies of their nations are used to oppress the German workers. This is the essential corollary to the struggle for socialism in all the countries of Europe.

The Socialist United States of Europe

The coming collapse of Hitler, which will affect all the European countries to one degree or another, will at the same time, compel the Allied imperialists, together with Russia, to use every means to crush the struggle for socialism. This gives a new concreteness to the slogan, the “Socialist United States of Europe.” The attempt of the peoples to realize their long-cherished aspirations will be countered at every turn by the bourgeoisie and the imperialists, and their parties among the working class. They will not stop at drowning the revolution in the blood of the workers.

Hence the strategy of the Fourth International – the Socialist United States of Europe – may, in the concrete situation of a revolt threatened by the superior forces of the bourgeoisie and the imperialists, find its only solution in a ringing call to revolution to the workers in the neighboring countries. The content of this call would be the Socialist United States of Europe as an immediate action slogan of the highest importance. This is the living way in which we should determine the efficacy of the Socialist United States of Europe both as a strategy and as an immediate tactic, and not mechanically according to the dictum that the masses must first “have at their disposal independent national states.” In the concrete circumstances, the “national liberation” of the bourgeois state may still not be accomplished and, even if it were, the masses have never yet had at their disposal a bourgeois state. There is no hard and fast line between the Socialist United States of Europe as an action or as a propaganda slogan. The Socialist United States of Europe must be our real strategy in Europe today, and not “national liberation” and the fight for bourgeois “democracy.” This strategy will more and more assume an immediate tactical form providing we engage in the class struggle and the fight for socialism rather than swim with the nationalist and “democratic” current.

The Bourgeoisie and the Nation

“The bourgeoisie never defends the fatherland for the sake of the fatherland. It defends private property, privileges, profits. Whenever these sacred values are threatened, the bourgeoisie immediately takes the road of defeatism.”

The high point of bourgeois defeatism was the summer of 1940, just after the fall of France, And yet even then the bourgeoisie was not so removed from its private property, privileges and profits that it was possible to say that the proletariat represented the nation. History has taught us that at least for the advanced countries the proletariat represents the nation only when it has achieved workers’ power.

Monopoly capitalism at no time wishes to surrender any of its privileges or profits to a foreign conqueror. If its armies suffer a crushing defeat by the armies of a rival imperialism then the monopolists will attempt to conclude that bargain with the conquerors as to their place in the new state of affairs which will best safeguard their profits and positions of privilege. They will then await the future and rise to the defense of their state again when new forces come forward which make possible a recouping of what they have lost, plus an opportunity for new profits and plunder.

Whatever may have been the ultimate aims of German imperialism, it is a fact that it raised to full production, by and large, the native industries of the occupied countries in order to supply the tremendous needs of the German war machine. If anything, the ultimate aims of German imperialism could only make the native monopoly capitalists feel more insecure and more willing to assume the rôle of defenders of the nation.

The “two hundred” families in France and in the other countries are hardly in the position of an oppressed class, nor are they non-existent. However, this does not mean that they are not for “national liberation.” They would certainly like, to reverse the cartel arrangements in their favor, besides having the untrammeled opportunity to enslave completely their own native and colonial peoples, not to speak of whatever loot can be gotten from being on the side of the Allied victors. That is why the only element in French society that is hopelessly compromised as defeatists, as lackeys of the Germans, are the Lavalists and their “plebeian” fascist friends, the Doriotists. All the rest, from de Gaulle to Giraud to Petain, are defensists, “national liberators,” but each plays this part differently, according to the circumstances in which he finds himself.

The representatives of the U.S. State Department conspired with the Petainists to produce the “hero” Giraud and the “villain” Darlan on African soil in order to help prepare the American victory. In the glory of this enterprise, in which Darlan was to be embraced by the “hero” Giraud himself, it was hoped that Darlan might retrieve some of his vanished honor in order that both he and Giraud – the men of the two hundred families – might take-over the strategic and commanding positions of the “national liberation” movement outside of France.

American imperialism is ready to produce temporary disappointments in order to reinstate the reliable forces of reaction as a native and not alien element of their own nation. Thus the policy of Darlanism and Badoglioism. At the same time the popular de Gaulle is permitted to attain political hegemony of the French Committee of National Liberation, providing the large, growing, modern French army, which will be the spearhead of “national liberation,” besides the instrument of law and order, remains in the hands of Giraud.

Despite all the political chaos and clashes of politicians, the essential links in the chain of “national liberation” are as follows: the “national liberation” underground bloc, which Is tied to the de Gaulle French Committee of National Liberation, which is tied to Giraud, who is tied to Pétain and French monopoly capitalists, who are tied to Allied imperialism. It is through this chain that the exploiting classes and their representatives in their roles of leaders of the armies of “national liberation” intend to re-establish completely their chains over the masses.

The Proletariat and “National Liberation’

Proletarian hegemony in the “national liberation” movement never existed, and can exist even less now. Just as in Italy the proletariat can establish its hegemony over a revolting movement only when this movement is directed against capitalism itself. The workers are compelled to create their own armies, and their ultimate success will depend to a large degree upon the extent to which they can undermine the armies of imperialism. Otherwise, When it is a national, that is, objectively bourgeois, movement, it is the resources, the strength, of the bourgeoisie and the tremendous backing of imperialism on that outside that assure the hegemony of the bourgeoisie in the movement. The masses are then clearly the dupes who rush to the chains which will enslave them.

On the basis of “national liberation,” national unity in France encompasses the classes to such a degree that “the erstwhile popular front looks like a sectarian left-wing bloc in comparison. The rainbow of national unity ranges from extreme red to the darkest purple of the monarchists and fascists. The man whom the U.S. State Department chose to handle its contacts for the invasion of North Africa was the ultra-reactionary Lemaigre-Dubreuil, who is the head of the French Association of Taxpayers, a big business lobby financed by the banks; who worked hand-in-glove with the Comité des Forges, the steel trust, possessing property in Austria and Axis countries, and who led the fascist riots in Paris in 1934.

The “war cry of national freedom” is the essential platform of the united underground movement. It is the slogan which we are told must become the “most important of all the democratic demands that can be made.” The reactionaries, the monarchists, the fascists are also for “national liberation,” and, remaining true to their ideals, their “national liberation” does not exclude fascism, military dictatorship, nor monarchism. We must remember that it is the bankruptcy of “democracy” which gives rise to the most reactionary regimes. “National liberation” can mean not only the enslavement of the masses by “democratic” capitalism, but also by fascist capitalism.

Politically, the war cry “first oust the German invader!” means subordination of the class struggle to the primacy of national unity. In May–June 1941, before Hitler’s attack on Russia, the French working class was lifted out of the stupor engendered, among other things, by the fall of France, by the magnificent three-week general strike of 40,000 miners in northern France. This action, which was not organized by the Stalinists, was directed against the French mine owners. For that reason is was sabotaged by the de Gaullist leaders, who viewed it as a violation of the national front and as a subordination of the first and main task: the ousting of the German invader

This must be the line of the “national liberation” front! And if ousting of the Germans were the chief task, they would be absolutely right. They are just as right as Roosevelt is when he demands class peace from those who believe in the primacy of the American war effort. When the workers go out on strike, though they may not realize it, they are fighting against the imperialist war. When the French miners went out on strike, they were fighting, consciously or not, against “national liberation” and for a socialist France. In the strike, the French workers opposed the front of the French bosses, the de Gaullists, the French police and the German foremen, with the French and German main forces of repression in the background. Paradoxically enough this unity of the French and German capitalists served to promote the future “national liberation” of the French bourgeoisie.

To be the champions of “national liberation,” to see it as the main task, means to accept aid, from whatever quarter, that will make its achievement real. Thus it is only natural for the underground, militarily to match for the occupying forces of the German conqueror, to look to the outside, to the armies of Giraud and the Allies, as the chief instruments of their “national liberation.” It would be a poor champion of “national liberation” who would try to counsel against this and if the masses were intoxicated with “national liberation” they would look upon him as an enemy spy in their ranks.

Only to the extent that the Marxists rid the masses of their nationalism and are the foremost participants and leaders in the class battles for socialism can the workers understand the real nature of the class enemy and the imperialist “liberators.” Only in unceasing class struggle carried to its highest stages can the workers prepare their forces against the existing and approaching counter-revolution. To say that the masses want to get rid of the foreign oppressor first and that they will then come to terms with their own oppressors is to be the victim of a mood that can only result in foregoing the preliminary and essential building up of the class forces and prevents the systematic weakening of the class forces of the enemy, native and foreign. It does not make possible that favorable relationship of forces which ends in victory.

No Support to the Partisans!

The Partisan movement started out as revolts for true self-determination against reactionary Greater Serb oppression, against the rich landlords, bankers and clergy who remained in Yugoslavia and were protected by German imperialism. In the first stages of the Partisan movement the Nazis and the reactionary Yugoslavian classes presented themselves to the masses as class enemies. It was only natural that Mikhailovitch should find himself closer to the Hitlerites than to the revolting people. As the Partisan movement came under the control of the “national liberationists,” whose chief and first task was to drive out the Germans, social liberation became an increasingly smaller part of their program. Thus on December 15, 1942, the Partisan Constituent Assembly listed as its principal tasks: “the development and the strengthening of the already existing unity of the front and rear; the organization of supply to the People’s Liberation Army and to the guerrilla detachments; the strengthening of the work of the people’s liberation committees; the safeguarding of personal freedom and property; the raising of the cultural level of the people, the organization of social welfare and the public health protection services.”

This program omits completely any real attack on capital, which is the basis for national unity. It embraces all the classes and the clergy, except for the Great Serbian ultra-reactionaries, monarchists and politicians, and is the logical counterpart of the Partisan tie-up with the Allied and Russian imperialist camp. In June 1942 the Partisan Conference of Yugoslav Patriots could say:

The liberation struggle in Montenegro, Boka and Sandjak against the fascist imperialist robbers is a component part of the struggle carried on by the peoples of Yugoslavia, enslaved peoples of the European states as well as by our allies – the USSR, Great Britain and the USA. (Our emphasis.)

In addition to this, the Partisan General Headquarters issued the order on May 15, 1942, that the “Partisan authorities, on the basis of the decisions of the National Liberation Front, will shoot everyone who is proved to have attempted to form no matter what kind of armed units, aside from Partisan units which are under the command of the general headquarters of the Slovenian Partisan Units.” (Our emphasis.)

On the basis of their “democratic” program the Partisan leaders negotiated with the ultra-reactionary Mikhailovitch in order to include him in the national front. The nationalism of the Partisan movement which has led it into the Allied imperialist camp is now so devoid of any basic attack on Yugoslavian capitalism that it is not excluded that the representatives of Greater Serb oppression may yet come to terms with Tito. However, this is not the decisive thing. What is important is that the derailment of the class struggle in favor of the national struggle prepares the bridge which will sooner or later reinstall the reactionares of the old or new variety in the commanding positions of Yugoslavian society.

Clarity on the question of “national liberation” would have permitted us to see at least a year and a half ago the tieup between the Partisans and the Allied imperialists. Now Tito has been made a marshal and given command over the Balkan sector of the Allied offensive. Now that the Yugoslavian masses see “national liberation” as close to achievement, are we to tell the advanced workers of Yugoslavia to cease being the champions of “national liberation” and to fight against the combined “liberating” forces of Tito and his Allies? How far will such “champions” of “national liberation” get? The experience of Yugoslavia teaches us that the policy which prevents us in the name of being against “sectarianism” from doing our duty and swimming against the current ends up in a desperate and belated attempt to overcome the fully developed torrent and leads to the completest isolation and to catastrophe.

“The defense of the national state, first of all in Balkanized Europe – the cradle of the national state – is in the full sense of the word a reactionary task.” (War and the Fourth International, 1934.) This is the key to our policy in Yugoslavia. The advanced workers can only fight for a socialist and federated Yugoslavia as part of the Socialist United States of Europe.

The advanced workers enter as the most active participants in every class and social struggle of the oppressed Yugoslavian nationalities. The overwhelming peasant character of Yugoslavian economy dictates a policy of linking up the peasant struggles with the fight in the factories, mills and mines in order to develop proletarian hegemony over the entire struggle. The advanced workers of the factory and field base themselves on the committees in the factories and the committees in the village and try through them to organize the independent class action of the oppressed against the German and native exploiters. This will break the stultifying national front and lead to the creation of the independent armed force of the people fighting against the class unity of German imperialism, Mikhailovitch, Tito, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. The mass support of the latter will be undermined by a class program for the oppressed who now follow them. In the specific Yugoslavian conditions the ultimate victory of the masses can be achieved by linking the fate of the oppressed workers and peasants to that of the European workers and peasants through the slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe.

The Class Tasks of the Proletariat

In all the countries of Europe, the proletariat and the masses engage increasingly in class actions against the capitalists, foreign and native, and their forces of repression: the great miners’ strike in Northern France, the general strike in Holland, the great steel strike in Belgium and the general strike in Luxemburg, the mass demonstrations, work stoppages in all the occupied lands, armed resistance, revolts and revolution! In Germany, totalitarianism has not prevented the demonstrations of women, of students, the mutinies and desertions of soldiers, the sporadic strikes and stoppages, in which the German workers solidarize themselves with foreign workers of all kinds. Terrific is the significance of twelve million foreign workers in Germany and the ever-growing defeatism of the German workers from the standpoint of internationalism and the Socialist United States of Europe.

It would be no exaggeration to say that thousands of class actions over wages, prices, higher rations, shelter, fuel, against brutality, for free speech, press, assembly, against labor drafts, for labor organization, freeing of prisoners of war and also political prisoners, adequate protection from the ravages of war, etc., have occurred over the face of Europe to refute completely the unwarranted statement that without “national liberation” the advanced workers will be isolated from the masses. As though it were possible to separate a worker from his factory and from the conditions of his oppression and from all who are victims with him! Not for a single moment does the class struggle stop. We see, rather, that its momentum increases to the drama of Soviets in Italy. It is not at all a question of isolation for those who are ready to participate in the front lines of the class battles. On the contrary, the problem is one of seeing the direction of events, of not lagging behind, of not being caught unawares, of not having to make a disastrous retreat, of swimming against the initial current in order to ride with the flood of the future.

It would be foolish to deny that the masses are affected with the virus of nationalism. It is so not only with “national liberation” but also when they rush to defend “their” country against an imperialist invader and when they look to the armies of imperialism for their “liberation.” Through the abstraction, the nation, the bourgeoisie mobilizes them to defend the very concrete capitalist chains which enslave them. When the worker defends “his” country or fights for “national liberation,” he thinks he is defending what little he has against those who would deprive him of that. At the same time he may think that he is also fighting for a better future.

However, when everything is reduced to the concrete struggle, when the worker fights for the specific things that he holds dear, that concrete struggle negates the defense of the abstraction. Thus, every concrete class action for higher wages, for better conditions, for unionism, against the rising cost of living, for democratic rights, for all the demands in the struggle for socialism is a blow against the war for imperialist profits and capitalist exploitation.

In the same way the French miners’ strike, the strikes of the Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian workers, the class struggles and manifestations of the Yugoslavs, the Poles and the German workers are a negation of “national liberation” of the capitalist state and a promotion of the fight for a socialist fatherland.

The advanced workers are therefore interested in these specific class actions which alone can turn the masses away from their nationalism and lead them toward socialism.

Whatever forces we have should be in the factory committees, legal or illegal, which prepare the class actions for higher wages, better conditions, fewer hours; against speed-up and the dragging of workers to work in Germany; for unionism, for democratic rights, and political organization, etc. We should participate in and help organize every manifestation, economic and political, against native and foreign capital and its forces of repression. We should help to prepare all the forces, including the arming of the workers, for the clashes with the enemy and the greater battles of tomorrow. On these independent class issues we can make united fronts with all workers’ organizations and groups who wish to participate in these specific actions.

We do not allow ourselves nor the workers to become exhausted in nationalistic acts of assassination and sabotage which can only lead to reactionary results. We base ourselves primarily on the lower organizations and the committees in the factories. The bourgeoisie, the Croix de Feu “national liberationists,” the de Gaullist, Stalinist, socialist, trade unionist and liberal leaders will attempt to sabotage the class actions of the workers. This essential disruption of the unity of the classes will expose the reactionary character of the “national liberation” and “democratic” front and reveal that the program of “ousting the German invader” is only a means of completely shackling the workers to the chains of the native capitalists and imperialism.

Revolutionary Fraternization versus “Ousting the Invader”

We are not for “ousting the German invader,” but for revolutionary fraternization with the German soldier on the basis of class brotherhood and the international struggle for socialism. The German soldier, who is away from his loved ones, who is sick of the war and frantic over the safety of his own family subjected increasingly to terrific holocausts from the air, is more and more open to the class appeal against the warmongers in both of the imperialist camps. This and not national hatred and threats to kill him, or appeals to come over to the side of the national enemy, will undermine the German workers in uniform. The German soldier is not interested in a free capitalist France nor a bankrupt “democratic” France. He is interested in the only kind of a France that can help and promote by example his own liberation. He is interested in a socialist France which will not permit the Allied invaders to crush a socialist Germany. The German soldier should naturally abhor the role of a mercenary against even a capitalist France, but he will join forces only with a revolutionary France. Revolutionary fraternization is possible only on the basis of the class fight for international socialism. It is the only way to prevent the unity of German and Allied imperialism against the French, the German and the European revolutions.

The struggles in Europe and the revolution in Italy are evidence of the increasing vitality and combativity of both the younger and older generations. The problem is therefore that of a revolutionary party and its creation in time to lead the proletarian revolution.

In view of the relative smallness of the revolutionary forces it is necessary to pose this question correctly. We recognize that this or that uprising may end in defeat, owing to the immaturity of the revolutionary leadership, and to the preponderance in this or that situation of the forces that are moved in against the revolution by the capitalist counter-revolutionary intervention. However, it is not a question of a single uprising, but of an entire revolutionary epoch.

A young revolutionary party must have this outlook. History will provide enough opportunities for it to test itself, to accumulate experience and to grow. The faster the vanguard is formed, the more the epoch of bloody convulsions will be shortened. The question of tempo and time-intervals is of great importance, but it does not change our general historical perspective nor the direction of our policy. Our conclusion can only be to organize the proletarian vanguard with tenfold energy.

Those who are pessimistic refer to what they consider are the sad consequences of the last war. But the last war gave birth to the October Revolution and a series of revolutions in Europe and the colonies. Furthermore, the economic position of the imperialist states, including the United States, is infinitely worse today and the destruction of war is infinitely greater. There is every reason to believe, therefore, that this time there will be a much more decisive reaction on the part of the workers and the army. The Italian revolution broke out when the main imperialist protagonists were not yet exhausted. The decisive military clashes are still ahead. Their resulting wreckage will confirm the warning of the Italian indicator of revolution.

In numbers, and especially in preparation, the revolutionary forces of today possess infinite advantages over their predecessors of the First World War. They are the direct heirs of bolshevism in its flower. They have absorbed the tradition of the October Revolution and the experience of the richest historical period between two world wars.

War speeds up enormously the political development. Those great tasks which only yesterday seemed long years, if not decades, away, are looming up directly before us. Programs, including “sub-historical” ones, which are based on habitual peacetime conditions, will inevitably remain dangling in mid-air.

If with our small forces we did not hesitate before the war to propose a revolutionary program for the Chinese Revolution, for the defeat of Hitler, for the French Revolution, for the Spanish Revolution and for the Second Imperialist War, why should we falter now? Did we not then also have the problem of creating the revolutionary vanguard? But we did it not only because the revolutionary program was applicable to the situation, but also because this was the only way to build a revolutionary party. Do we no longer agree with Trotsky in his advice to Andres Nin, whose pessimism regarding the lack of revolutionary forces led him to support the popular “democratic” front in Spain? Trotsky wrote Nin:

We have few forces. But the advantage of a revolutionary situation consists precisely in the fact that even a small group can become a great force in a brief space of time, providing that it gives a correct prognosis and that it issues correct slogans in time. (Letters on the Spanish Revolution, June 1931)

A revolutionary situation has already come out of the war in Italy and many more will follow. The revolutionary forces are much greater than they were in 1931. There is absolutely no room for the pessimism which sees the revolutionary party created only in the “democratic” period, and still more incredible, with a “democratic” program.

The imperialists’ fear of the revolution has to no small degree imparted to them a frantic desire to woo Stalin as the arch instrumentality for heading off and betraying the coming revolutionary wave. Bankrupt imperialism needs to corrode the working class movement from within, and Stalinism is that corrosion par excellence. While Russia’s victories and Stalinist activity in behalf of “national liberation” have permitted Stalinism to become the chief claimant for the support of the workers, it is no less true that the openly counter-revolutionary rôle of the Stalinists in Poland and the Baltic countries, and their stand against socialism in Italy which they will repeat in all the European countries leaves the Trotskyists as the sole claimant for the support of the workers in their inevitable bid for socialism as the only way out.

The counter-revolutionary record the Stalinists have piled up for twenty years, and the increasing integration of Stalin with counter-revolutionary imperialism will make it less and less possible for the workers to separate the two from their common counter-revolutionary schemes, and is bound to impel the workers toward the Trotskyists.

If, among the Polish workers, there are more Trotskyists than ever before, if among the Italian workers who were crushed for twenty-one years under the yoke of fascism there arises overnight a Trotskyist party which alone stands for socialism, can we not believe that the German workers, too, have thought over the reasons for their enslavement?

The Trotskyist movement is growing, and will grow faster than ever as a result of the shocks and shambles of the imperialist war. Revolution will accelerate that growth. Whoever wishes to do so can discredit himself with pessimism, but we say with Trotsky: “... One should not proclaim victorious the enemy who is still a long way from victory.” Whoever wishes to can compromise himself with the struggle for the restoration of the capitalist states and capitalist “democracy.” We say with Trotsky:

The program of the Fourth International states that the freedom of all European nations, both large and small, can be secured only within the frame of the Socialist United States of Europe. We look ahead and not backward!

San Francisco, January 1, 1944

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