Socialist Appeal Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Socialist Appeal, Novemeber–December 1935, Volume 2 No. 2,
Transcribed, Edited and Formatted by Marty Goodman and David Walters in 2012 for the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line and the Left-Opposition Digitization Project, a joint venture of the ETOL, Holt Labor Library and the Riazinov Library.

From FRAGMENTS of pages reprinted in the 1968 Greenwood Reprints edition. Greenwood in 1968 apologized for this incomplete copy, noting they searched ‘every major collection in the United States’ for an intact copy, without success.

Eight pages were reprinted. Each was missing about 10 to 25% of the page at the bottom or corners or edges. The first page seems to be missing. MOST of these articles, thus, are missing portions of the text.

x’s are used to indicate missing portions of text. There is NOT an exact 1 to 1 correspondence between number of x’s and number of missing letters. But there is a rough and vague (tho not really proportionate) one. Brackets [] are used where there was compelling reason to guess at what a partly wiped out word was. The letters IN the brackets are those guessed at. NOTE that only relatively compelling (from context) guesses resulted in letters being filled in, and in all cases when this was done, it is indicated. Eventually PDF files of all this material will be made available, so others can make their own guesses based on the fragmentary and damaged pages presented by Greenwood Reprints of this issue. —M. Riazanov

Deeper and Deeper in the Swamp

by Herbert Zam

With express train speed the war policies of the Communist International are unfolding themselves, each unfoldment disclosing more clearly the amazing depth of chauvinism in which the Comintern is now wallowing After the decision of the Seventh Congress against the mechanical transference of policies from one country to another, one might expect at least an apparent orientation to the conditions in each specific country. Instead, we find the opposite: All the communist parties, in all the capitalist countries are orientating less to conditions in their own countries, and more and more exclusively are being guided entirely by the polices of the Soviet Union. We pick up Browder’ s report on the Seventh Congress, for instance, (Daily Worker, Oct. 5 1935) and find:

“ Is it not clear, therefore, that every effort to fight for peace against fascism, requires in every country that we should take as our basis and starting point the peace policy of the Soviet Union? Is it not clear that every one who rejects or casts doubt upon that peace policy is helping the fascist and war makers?”

Lest we might conclude that this is due to Browder’ s failure to understand the decision of the Seventh Congress, we turn to another authority, Harry Pollitt, the leader of the British C.P. (Labor Monthly, Oct 1935) and find almost the same statement:

“ ....and there is not an honest man or woman in this country who professes to be Socialist who can say to us that at any price and at any cost they are not prepared to defend the Soviet Union, because it is the text of our Socialist faith.”

We will not argue here as to what “ at any cost” might or might not mea[n]. What we are concerned with is the outlook which is here xxxx. Of the entire class struggle in the entire world only [one nation] is [important] to these comrades: the Soviet Union. xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxted to that. Furthermore, the defense xxxxx xxxxx xxxx to be carried though along lines xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx [c]onditions in each country, but in line xxxxx xxxxx xxxx the Soviet Union itself. That is, xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx to remain at peace with the ruling xxxxx xxxxx xxxies, which takes specfic form in xxxxx xxxxx xxxx [th]ose countries, also become the xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx the policies of the Communist xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx last analysis this means a de- xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx [com]munist Parties (and whatever xxxxx xxxx xxxxws them) and the capxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx “ xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx”

But the policies here enunciated go beyond that. Willingness to defend the Soviet Union, declares Pollitt, “ is the text of our ultimate test of Socialist faith in our attitude toward our own ruling class. Even a “ rotten liberal” can favor the defense of the Soviet Union. Aren’ t there thousands who are ready to stand for the defense of Ethiopia who are not Socialists or Communists? How many more thousands are ready to stand for the defense of the Soviet Union, a worker’ country, who are not themselves Socialists or Communists!

That this is not just a bad formulation we see by following the footsteps of Pollitt. In discussing the prospects of economic recovery, he makes the following analysis:

“ Whilst at the moment there are certain forces within capitalism which are making for capitalism getting out of the worst phase of the economic crisis, the ordinary forces within capitalism that lead to periodical trade depression are going to meet the forces that are making for recovery much sooner than is realized. Then there will be a renewed struggle for the world market and renewed attacks on the working class in every capitalist country....”

And what should the working class do, one logically asks? Fight back? Make a revolution? Take over power?

“ When the situation arises again,” continues Pollitt, “ then the defense of the Soviet Union will become the chief paramount consideration of every working man and woman in the capitalist countries....”

Comment is really superfluous. The working class, according to this, has nothing to fight for on its own behalf. Even in the midst of a crisis, of collapsing capitalism, it hs only one duty “ Defend the Soviet Union” !

All we can say to them is: God save the working class from such advice and God save the Soviet Union from such defense!


Another phase of Comintern war policy which is becoming clearer is the question of the defense of xxxx xxxxxs. The Seventh Congress declared in favor of xxxx xxxxxx xxxx for the defense of small nations (in addition xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx war of “ “ democratic” against “ fascis[t]” xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx small nations” ? Again we inxxxx xxxxx xxxx answer: [De]finitely. dxxxxed at thxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx [inter]national liberatio[n] Communist Parties will support xxxxx war their own ruling class in defending the attacked na[tions]. We have Poland and Czechoslovakia in mind.”

[Fu]rther light is thrown on the subject by the Communist Party of Holland which has declared its readiness to fight in a war for the national independence of Holland.

Czechoslovakia, Poland and Holland are secondary imperialist powers. Holland has an enormous colonial empire. Czechoslovakia has a highly trustified industry which dominates the country; it has within its borders several million living as oppressed nationalities. Poland has a semi-fascist governmental system, is an inveterate enemy of the Soviet Union and ally of Nazi Germany, and is ruled by a clique dominated by large landowners and manufacturers. Poland is very similar to Austria in these respects. Would we support the ruling class of Austria in war for its national independence?

And of course, if the above countries are also to be defended, the smaller ones like monarchist Greece and Jugoslavia, imperialist Belgium, “ neighborly” Rumania, Horthy Hungary follow as a matter of course, not to speak of the Scandinavian countries.

The policy is now complete. The last chapter has been written. The Comintern has not left a single loophole for refusing to fight in a capitalist war: If the Soviet Union is involved, we fight. If democratic countries fight fascist countries, we fight. If small imperialists are involved, we fight.

Only such far-fetched eventualities as a war between the United States and England alone, or between Germany and Italy alone are still open to us. Won’ t some good Browder-Pollitt-Stalin hurry and explain this neglect?



Perhaps the worst example of the degeneration of the Comintern attitude to war is to be seen in the manifesto of the Italian Communist Party on the Italo-Ethiopian situation. Of course the Italian Communists are unequivocally against Italy in this war, and the position is to be greeted. We must also take into account that the Italian Communists, like the Socialists, are working under the most difficult conditions, both in Italy and abroad. But we cannot overlook such gross opportunism as is found in the manifesto merely on this account. After all many have died for a false cause.

The manifesto is headed “ For the Honor of Italy!” Down with Mussolini and his Criminal Government!” Now this is a very peculair reason to give for being opposed to the raid by Italy. “ The honor of xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx [t]he honor of Italy were xxxx as Mussolini insists, by the invasion of Ethiopia would xxx then be for it? Nor is this heading an accidental reference. [It] dominates the entire manifesto and sets the tone. “ The rul[ng] clique says.... that this war is demanded by our national hon[or]. This is false. Our honor is made slimy .... Down with the fasc[ist] aggressor that dishonors Italy.”

In addition to the argument that the war is country to Ital[y’ s] honor, here is the paragraph which summarized the reasons for the communists’ opposition:

“ This war is, from a military viewpoint, a tragic folly. [It] will completely ruin the finances and economy of the country. [It] focuses the indignation of the entire world against the brutality , the cynicism and ill-will of fascist diplomacy, humiliating Italy in the eyes of all people.

Not one of these reasons is a class-conscious, proletarian reason. This type of opposition sounds like the opposition of rank-and-file-fascists, not of revolutionary workers. At best, these arguments are the arguments of “ rotten liberals.” If the war were not a tragic folly, would we support it? If instead of ruining the economy and finances of the country, would be support it? And why would we regret the fact that it focuses the indignation of the entire world against fascism? Isn’ t it obvious that on the basis of such arguments no revolutionary struggle against fascism or against war can be conducted?

Here is another gem.

“ The fascists say, the newspaper of the capitalist war profiteers say, that war will bring prosperity, riches, land, raw materials. This is false. It is a miserable lie.”

Again we are compelled to ask: Suppose it were not a lie? Suppose Italy did gain all that is claimed? Would that be a reason for being any the less opposed to a war? As a matter of fact, how have all other imperialist powers established themselves in the world except thru war? As Socialists, we are not opposed to war by this or that country, merely because they do not achieve the specified objective. That is the point of view of the opposition groups of capitalists, but it cannot be the point of view of the working class.

If Italian fascism is weakened as a result of the war, if the finances and economy break down, if world opinion turns against Italy, then we have no reason to lament, for these conditions are the prerequisites for the success of the revolutionary struggle against fascism. This is revolutionary defeatism with which the manifesto of the Italian Communist Party has nothing in common.

Top of page

Socialist Appeal Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 30 March 2012