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The New International, October 1946


Notes of the Month

The Paris Conference – Interim Observations


From New International, Vol. XII No. 8, October 1946, p. 228.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The “Conference of the Twenty-one Victors” moves wearily along its way at Paris. As of now, not a single final document has been initialed by the participants, let alone agreed to. From debate to debate, discussion to counter-discussion, minor crisis to minor crisis, the imperialist world of the Great Powers proves its incapacity and sordidness. The white dove of peace, originally barred from the proceedings, is no longer even mentioned. Through the turns and twists of the agenda runs the thread of potential war between the two great master nations, Russia and America, along with their satellites. The rumors of collapse, indefinite postponement, meetings of the Big Four Foreign Ministers, meetings of the Big Three chiefs were widespread recently – all the result of the bitter disputes that have stymied the Conference.

Will Create Temporary “Peace”

But these rumors are probably grossly exaggerated, by interested parties adept at diplomatic blackmail. A violent breakup of the Conference at this point would draw the knife of war out of its sheath and would, in a sense, disrupt the “natural” processes now unfolding in preparation for World War III and Atomic War I. Not a one of the Great Powers is militarily, economically, psychologically or morally prepared for such a war today. It is therefore far more likely that the Conference will continue, will patch up temporary truces and bargains dealing with the disputed questions (that is, cover up Europe’s gaping wounds with first-aid patches), and conclude on some sort of note of “peace.” But such treaties or agreements as may finally be yielded by the Conference will be characteristically shaky and tend to collapse at the slightest tension. At best, it can be a temporary “peace,” acquiesced in by the Great Powers, the better to carry out their preparatory plans for the ultimate showdown.

The Luxemburg Palace meeting has assumed the aspect of a gigantic public forum at which the Powers debate and present their respective positions. This procedure has been favorably contrasted, by bourgeois journalists, with the secretive proceedings of the Versailles Conference of World War I. Certainly we must express our delight at the public nature of the present Conference, by which the imperialists of all sizes and stripes lay bare their predatory souls and annihilate one another, but we must likewise understand the explanation for this contrast in the two post-war peace conferences. The Bolshevik Revolution and its European consequences forced the imperialists behind closed doors in an unsuccessful effort to conceal their work from the exposing arts of the Russian revolutionists. The present conference, unfortunately, has no such need. Russia, one of the most rapacious and cynical of the participating powers, sits at the table with the selfsame members of Lenin’s “Den of Thieves”; the European revolution is quiescent and absent from the scene; the imperialists prefer the advantage of open debate before public opinion to the lessened risk of exposure of their reactionary schemes; the condemning voice of the revolutionary forces is hushed or stilled.

Struggle Over Germany

Alongside of and parallel to the conference there is another struggle taking place, only this struggle has more practical consequences. It may prove to be more important historically than the conference work. We refer to the Allied struggle with Russia over Germany. Labor Action of September 16, 1946, has tersely summarized the issue as, “... a cynical tug of war struggle between Russian imperialism and Anglo-American imperialism.” Yesterday’s opponent has become today’s most desirable partner for tomorrow’s war! The Molotov speech at the earlier Foreign Minister’s conference was the opening step, announcing in effect the collapse of the Potsdam Agreement for mutual milking of the German cow, and the intention of Russia to unify Germany under the GPU. Byrnes’ speech in ruined Stuttgart was, to quote Labor Action, a proposal for “the partial revival of German capitalism ... in order to create anew a point of support for the next war ...”

The struggle for Germany is in a more advanced stage, practically speaking, because of the prime importance of that nation of 66 millions lying at the heart of Europe. Here practice must precede the formalities of lengthy debate. Thus the Russians have proceeded with their complex plans to tighten up their regime in Eastern Germany (completion of “nationalization” measures, forcing of elections, etc.), while the Anglo-Americans have responded with the unification of their two zones and various plans to stimulate the revival of economic and industrial life in the unified zones, while beginning to squeeze the French zone to force its joining the Western German alliance. Here we see the central division of the Paris Conference as it affects the destiny of a great human mass – a tragic division that portends yet more tragic consequences. Will Germany become the central slaughter-ground in the next war? Both camps have already planned it this way.

But the results of these moves, and the Conference itself, can have the opposite effect, provided the revolutionary wing of world labor grasps what is taking place and what is in store. For example, the conflicting policies of the imperialist occupants of Germany can bring about objective results that, properly utilized, can facilitate the revival of the German proletariat and its movement. Resurrection of economic and industrial life, regardless of the motives, is precisely what is needed in Germany for a resurrection of the German revolutionary vanguard. We venture to say that even today every German worker understands his and his country’s position, lying between the two great pre-war camps. If again able to stand upon his feet and live, he will be able to take his place in Germany’s future national liberation struggle-that is, the fight to remove Germany out of the hands of imperialist Mars and into the safe keeping of the European proletariat.

The same holds true, of course, for the issues at stake in Paris. There, war and its preparations are supreme, and every day underscores the basic alignments. The issues of peace and war, of Europe and its revival, will be safe only when removed from Luxemburg and placed squarely into the hands of the working people of all lands.

The New International will devote an extensive analysis to the results of the conference following its conclusion.

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