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The New International, June 1944

Notes of the Month

The Invasion – A New Phase of the War


From The New International, Vol. X No. 6, June 1944, pp. 163– 164.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The invasion of Western Europe has begun. How long it will take the Allies to win is a moot question. Nobody knows the answer exactly, although not less than nine-tenths of the official optimism of Allied government propagandists may be safely discounted. Not that abrupt and unexpected changes in the military situation favoring the Allies are excluded. The Nazi state is not the unshakable monolith it pretends, and even seems, to be. It is not impossible that the basic forces of German imperialism may find it necessary or expedient to submit before they are exterminated by military force. However, there are not yet any serious indications of collapse or submission. Before the Allies can march triumphantly through the Brandenburg Gate, hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of the world’s youth will be bled and maimed, and the continent of Europe will be pitted with Cassinos.

Problems to the Fore

In any case, the invasion has opened up a new phase of the war. Conflicts, contradictions, basic problems which were kept or pushed in the background, will now come to the forefront with increasing insistence. The more decisive the battles become, the more imperiously the problems related to the war will press for solution. The more they press for solution, the less able the ruling classes will be to withhold their answers to confine themselves to generalities and hollow promises, and the more they will be compelled to translate their real war aims into plain words and plainer deeds.

Not so long ago Mr. Churchill could dismiss curtly the question, “What are we fighting for?” with his impertinent “Our war aim is to win the war”; and Mr. Hull could exclaim petulantly that he wished people would keep their noses out of politics and apply them instead to the win-the-war grindstone. But now that the people feel themselves closer to the end of the war, it is less and less possible to maintain this martinet attitude toward them. They want clearer answers to the problems which gave rise to the war and to which the war, in turn, gave rise. With the mounting list of casualties they feel they have paid more than enough, and in advance, for answers and for satisfactory ones.

The most important problem now, posed more pointedly than ever before, is the problem of Europe itself. What is to happen to the continent when Hitler’s rule is brought to an end? The fate of the entire world will be determined for a long time to come by the answer to this question. If Europe will know durable peace, freedom, harmony and prosperity, the rest of the world will be assured of the same. If Europe is to continue on its old bases and its old paths, the entire world will be driven backward, economically, politically, culturally, spiritually. Then a third world war will be absolutely inevitable in a couple of decades, at most, after the end of the second, and it is most unlikely that civilization would survive the ordeal. Everything depends upon how Europe is to be organized, or reorganized, in the immediate future.

In August, 1941, the heads of the American and British governments had their famous meeting “somewhere on the Atlantic,” and on the 14th of that month issued an official statement known as the Atlantic Charter. It has since been endorsed by all the Allied belligerents. In speaking of the reorganization of Europe after the war, it is worth recalling the eight points in the Charter, described by its authors as “certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.”

Promises of the Atlantic Charter

First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;

Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned;

Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them;

Fourth, they will endeavor, with all due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all states, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity;

Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic adjustment and social security;

Sixth, after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want;

Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance;

Eighth, they believe that all of the nations in the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments. (Our emphasis – Ed.)

Much might have been said then, and can be said now, about the real purposes of authors Roosevelt and Churchill in drawing up this document, about their ability or desire to carry out its clearly enunciated principles, or about the extent to which these high-minded principles jibed with what they and their governments were actually doing. We, for our part, said all that was necessary on this score, and have since had no occasion for retraction.

Yet the fact remains that the words of the Atlantic Charter, if they do not coincide fully with the program of international socialism, are not in conflict with it. Their transmutation into living realities would unquestionably open up a new era for mankind. What else does humanity long for beyond freedom from fear and want, the peace that means freedom from war, equal access to the wealth of the world for all, social security, an end to the burden of armaments, an end also to national oppression, freedom of movement and friendly intercourse among peoples? The Charter solemnly assured the peoples that these longings would be satisfied.

The Atlantic Charter was acclaimed by the world of bourgeois democracy. There is a New Order for youl There are the two paladins who will lead the crusading hosts in achieving it! Every means of communication at the disposal of Washington and London was impressed into service to carry the good tidings to the remotest hamlets of the earth. Joshua made the sun stand still; but Roosevelt and Churchill were making a new sun rise. What man of good will could now fail to rally behind them?

That was three years ago. The enemy was expanding and consolidating his position in every direction. Piety was clearly indicated to London, Washington and Moscow. The devil, if we may say so, was sick; the devil a monk would be. Now it is three years later. The war is beginning to go the other way. Piety is no longer so clearly indicated. The devil, if he is not yet well, is already out of bed; and the devil a monk is he! The Atlantic Charter has been openly abandoned.

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