From Workers’ International News, Vol.1 No.10, October 1938, p.9.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
With Mussolini, plunderer of Abyssinia, as “mediator”, the plundering of Czechoslovakia was arranged by the Four Powers at their Munich meeting. In four bites, German Imperialism swallows the German areas, and sweeps up the crumbs by October 10th. The question of frontier guarantees will be settled in the bargaining with Poland and Hungary, and it becomes possible to draw a trial balance sheet of the profits and losses of the Czechoslovakia crisis.
British Imperialism is one step closer to the Four Power Pact leading to the isolation of the Soviet Union, a distinct gain for British finance-capital in its foreign policy.
The British war machine has received a test, revealing any weaknesses that a declaration of war might bring out. The civilian “defence” machine is subjected to a similar rigorous test, and the population pushed through a dress rehearsal for war. And a multitude of volunteers has poured into the recruiting offices of the Regular Army, Territorials, ARP and other war forces. British war preparations record a huge profit from the crisis.
Chamberlain has manoeuvred himself into a favourable position to contest a general election this autumn, as the “saviour of world-peace”. Liberals and Labour Party find themselves not unjustifiably, in a position of unpopularity as warmongers. Politically the Tories are able to chalk up a win for themselves, and compel their opponents to manoeuvre desperately to avoid giving them a chance to go to the country. In this situation they are able even to put over conscription on Britain, forcing Liberals and Labour either to agree or go to an election defeat on the issue.
And finally, the Stock Exchange “jitters” and the subsequent recovery has brought in a golden harvest to those who knew that the war-scare would culminate in nothing more explosive than the Munich Agreement.
Against these gains of the bosses it is possible to set only the losses of the toiling masses, the increases in the burden of taxes that the expense of the rehearsal brings, the disruption of homes and routine, the days of anxiety and dread through which the masses passed.
French Imperialism too has gains to record. The grip of Stalinism has been weakened and Daladier has triumphed over the “Left”. The war machine has been tested. And above all, the developing crisis over the 40-hour week has been for the time being overcome. In France as in Britain, the workers shoulder the losses.
Hitler also has scored a victory. He has kept his word and “invaded” Czechoslovakia in a police-conducted invasion. He gets another brief breathing space to work out his tactics for the next crisis. His power of bargaining between Russia and the Western Powers is now diminished, it is true, but the chains are rivetted afresh on the German workers for the coming months. Nazidom, living as it does from hand to mouth, must count any respite as a gain.
But where the capitalist powers may well smile with satisfaction, the Soviet Union emerges with serious losses. A smashing defeat has been inflicted on Stalin’s foreign policy, and Litvinov may soon find himself “confessing” to Trotsky-Fascist-wrecking in the field of diplomacy. On September 3rd, Pravda announced the forthcoming trial of Rakovsky who was sentenced last March to 25 years in prison in the trial of the twenty-one. He is now to he tried on charges of espionage on behalf of Japan. The appearance of Litvinov, Maisky, Troyanovsky and the rest of the Ambassadors of Peace and Democracy as fellow-accused with Rakovsky in another frame-up trial is not too far-fetched for a Stalin to organise.
The cry of “peace and democracy”, the social-patriotism diligently cultivated in the Communist Parties all over the world by Stalinism, these things become assets in the hands of the imperialists to be used against the Soviet Union once they have effected the isolation of Russia. By disorienting, confusing and scattering the socialist militants, by degrading the Comintern to a collection of hirelings and timeservers, by packing the Communists Parties with a rabble of middle-class liberals and patriots, the Stalinist bureaucracy has prepared its own doom. It has created a machine that the bourgeoisie will be able to use for its own ends, when those ends are directed towards securing the downfall of the Soviet Union as a workers’ state.
The outcome of the crisis forces a new policy on the Stalinist bureaucracy. The Spanish Republican Government has already shown that it has no further need of the Stalinists’ strike-breaking activities in Spain, by forbidding its army officers to associate with political organisations and by disbanding the International Brigade. Behind closed doors in Munich, the Spanish situation enters perforce into any arrangement for “general appeasement”, and the Soviet Union was excluded from the conference chamber. For the Soviet Union, the outcome of the Czechoslovakia crisis must be written tip as a disaster.
Hitler is one step closer to the Ukraine, with the consent of the “ally” of Russia, imperialist France. To defend the Soviet Union is the imperative task that confronts the world proletariat to-day, a task that places upon socialist militants the duty of building the Fourth International.
Last updated on 11.9.2005