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The New International, November 1945


Politics of the International Working Class


From New International, Vol. XI No. 8, November 1945, pp. 231 & 255–256.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


South African Trotskyists on Russia’s War with Japan

“Forty-eight hours before the Japanese notice of surrender Russia entered the war ... We have no truck with Japanese imperialism ... The Fourth International has always stood for the defensive war against foreign imperialism ... Russia came in because of the bargaining of Potsdam, because of imperialist intrigues.

“Russia has come in to cover the sub-continent with her troops to stop the impending Chinese revolts, to crush the Chinese workers and peasants.” – Socialist Action, August 1945.

The above view, expressed by the organ of the Workers International League of South Africa, expresses the honest reaction of all truly internationalist Marxists. However, the WIL, like most of the Fourth Internationalist organizations, continues to adhere to the position that Russia is still a workers’ state. On this basis they stand pledged to defend it in wars with capitalist states. Does the WIL imply that Russia did not merit the support of the workers of the world in the war with Japan? If this is their position, it indicates great progress toward understanding Russia’s role in the war. The WIL, in this case, must state that Russia is not only capable of “imperialist intrigue” but also of imperialist war. Having taken this line of reasoning, it follows that the class character of the Russian state can no longer serve as the basis for determining the question of our attitude toward Russia’s role in the war. It then becomes necessary to examine the concrete and specific circumstances of each war Russia engages in. It was for doing this in 1939–40 that the minority of the Socialist Workers Party of the United States, organized as the Workers Party since 1940, was denounced for its “petty bourgeois” and “un-Marxian” position.

The fact that the war lasted but a few days after Russia’s entry does not absolve Marxists from the responsibility for analysis of Russia’s role. The Socialist Workers Party (Cannon faction) has avoided such an analysis like a plague. These would-be international schoolmasters of Trotskyism show no enthusiasm for theoretical discussions that go beyond recitations of quotations from Trotsky. If the word epigone ever had meaning, it fits here. We are, therefore, pleased with even these first inadequate observations of our South African comrades.


International Solidarity with Javanese

It may no longer be news that in October 30,000 Australian workers struck in solidarity with the Javanese people. However, this inspiring internationalist demonstration is particularly worth reporting again at a moment when His Majesty’s Labor Government is ordering British troops into battle against the Javanese insurrectionists.

We quote from the report published in the Socialist Appeal, organ of the British Trotskyists:

“The strikes began when the executive of the Waterside Federation decided not to handle any ship on which the Indonesian (Javanese) crew was striking, or which was suspected of carrying war materials which might be used against the Indonesian workers and peasants. Four thousand wharf laborers were the first to strike; they were joined by 10,000 miners, 5,000 iron workers, 4,000 printers, 1,000 nurses and 600 powerhouse workers. In Brisbane, waterside workers refused to handle six Dutch ships destined for Java.”

* * *

Much has been made in the daily press of the hesitant “socialistic” domestic measures proposed by His Majesty’s Labor Government. Attlee and his ministers have a mandate from the British working class to effect vital social and economic changes. We do not think that the intent of that mandate was to combine insubstantial domestic reforms with a continuation of the Empire’s traditional imperialism (however “modified” it may be by verbal refinements). The pressure at home is sufficient to compel the Laborite ministers to tread (cautiously and half-heartedly, to be sure) along the path of nationalization. In foreign affairs, especially those that relate to Britain’s colonial empire, the Attlee government has already established that no more than the Churchill government does it intend to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire. But imperialism abroad and socialism at home is a contradiction in terms. Such British workers as are not already aware of that fact will, we are sure, learn it. That is why we believe that the Australian workers who engaged in the “Hands Off Java” strike spoke more accurately for the British workers than does the government installed by the votes of those workers.

* * *

In a letter to Fenner Brockway, political secretary of the Independent Labor Party, regarding the use of British forces in Indo-China and Java, Prime Minister Attlee warned against “accepting at their face value reports of this kind ... If you care to send me your information I will have it checked up and a detaIled reply sent to you. Not every movement that claims to be democratic can be accepted as such on its own statement.” (The New Leader, organ of the ILP, October 6.)

Very well, Mr. Attlee, are British troops in Java?

* * *

From the September 28 news release of the International Transport Workers Federation:

“At a mass meeting held recently, the South Indian Labor Railway Union condemned and demanded the immediate withdrawal of an official decree prohibiting the workers of Madura and Vikramsingpuram from participating in genuine, democratic trade union activities.

“The standing order outlaws union activity, if the union is not recognized by the employer, and punishment for such a crime is immediate dismissal on a charge of misconduct.”

* * *

An Associated Press dispatch from Sidney, Australia, as reported in the New York Times, November 12, reports that:

“The crew of the British ship Moreton Bay walked off the vessel today before it was to sail for Java with 1,600 Netherlands troops, while demonstrators at the wharf shouted at the soldiers, ‘Go back to Holland!’ and ‘Hands off Java!’”

The crew had previously cabled the British National Union of Seamen that the Australian Seamen’s Union had prohibited its members from working on ships carrying troops or supplies intended for use against the Indonesians, and asked if the British sailors should not do likewise. The crew, however, quit the ship, though no reply had been received.

In the United States, 175 Indonesian seamen walked off Dutch vessels in Albany, Baltimore and New York as a protest against the shipment of munitions and troops to suppress nationalist forces in the Netherlands Indies.


French Trotskyists Poll Large Vote

French Trotskyist candidates, running in only two cities, polled close to 11,000 votes in the recent French elections. Given the extremely difficult circumstances under which they had to run their campaign, the vote is particularly heartening. According to the report published in the November 10 issue of The Militant, the French Trotskyists received 8,113 votes in Paris and 2,704 votes in Grenoble. Understood in the light of Stalinist power in France, especially in Paris, the vote becomes truly impressive. In addition to the active and severe opposition of the Stalinists, the Trotskyist party, Parti Communiste Internationaliste (International Communist Party), had to campaign without the benefit of a legal press, and with the added strain of having to post 20,000 francs for each candidate. Though their press, La Verité (The Truth), is still illegal – de Gaulle and the Stalinists have blocked every request for its legalization-our French comrades distributed great numbers in the streets of the working class districts.

An analysis of the post-election scene in France will be made in our next issue.


Filipino Guerrillas Raise Social Demands

Large sections of the Philippine Islands remain under the control of armed peasants organized in guerrilla bands that fought the Japanese occupation. Authorities in Manila estimate that the armed peasants number upward of 100,000, mostly organized in the militant Hukbalahap movement. The latter, one of many guerrilla movements, was distinguished by its militancy in the struggle against the Japanese, its independence of the “official” American resistance movement, mostly led by Filipino Scouts, and its program of agrarian reform directed against the American and Filipino landowners. It was American Army policy, almost from the day of landing, to disarm the “irresponsible” Hukbalahaps.

A report in the New York Times of October 30 says:

“The Philippines today are a powder keg. The Hukbalahaps and other ‘unrecognized guerrillas’ roam the land with rifles on their shoulders and ideas for government reform in their heads and with hatred of the landed aristocracy in their hearts ... The danger is inherent, especially where the Hukbalahaps are concerned. The power of this already immense organization – centrally governed and with tentacles throughout the Commonwealth – is greatly feared.”

The parliamentary wing of the agrarian movement is organized in the Democratic Action Party, claiming a membership of a quarter million. From the meager reports available, it is strongly influenced by the small, but strategically powerful, Stalinist movement in the islands. The Democratic Action Party has sought to unite the seven or eight guerrilla movements that sprang up during the occupation for a common electoral front in the coming elections.

From all indications, the overwhelming majority of the members of the Philippine Communist Party have joined during the occupation. The party claims 10,000 members, with a seven-fold increase during the war. Its only opponent is the Nacionalista Party, the conservative government party of President Osmena. As the party of the American quislings and the political voice of the landowners and business interests, from among whom most of the collaborators came during the Japanese occupation, the Nacionalistas find little support among the peasants with their guerrilla background.

Robert Trumbull, New York Times correspondent, reports an interview with one of the leaders of the Democratic Action Party, Judge Barrera, who left his court to accept a leading position in the movement, in which the latter says:

“During the war many landowners moved to Manila, virtually abandoning their farms. The tenants continued working. Now the landlords wish to eject these tenants because they say that during the war the tenants did not pay their fifty per cent to the landlords. As a matter of fact, some of the landlords could not be located by their tenants and if the tenant delivered his rice crop to Manila the Japanese would have taken it.”

To this, Trumbull adds:

“The government is trying to mediate this difficulty. Right now the tenants are in the saddle because they have physical possession of the farms. They are armed and simply refuse to be ejected.”

The imperialist war to determine among other things, whether Japanese or American imperialists would exploit the Philippines, has been properly utilized by the Filipino peasants to gain a little for themselves. As in all the colonies, it is to be observed that “When thieves fall out ...”

Efforts to eject these armed peasants from the land will, no doubt, result in civil war in the islands. Here, as elsewhere in the colonial world, American military might will become the super-oppressor. The American working class must declare its solidarity with the Filipino masses and demand the recall of all American troops and naval forces from the islands.

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