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Workers’ International News, January 1939


A Black Year


From Workers’ International News, Vol.2 No.1, January 1939, p.13-14.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


With this issue, Workers’ International News commences the second year of its existence. The past year has been one of deepening reaction, the further disorganisation of the socialist movement by the treachery of the reformist and Stalinist leaders, further attacks on the working class, the growth of fascism, the rapid approach of world war.

The Spanish war drags on, kept alive by rival imperialist gangs at the expense of the lives of the Spanish toilers; we have witnessed during the year the steady increase of the territory under the control of Franco, who has cut republican Spain in two. The war in the Far East, taking its steady toll of lives, similarly drags on, and here too the more reactionary forces slowly gain the upper hand. And Hitler in two successive world-shaking crises has succeeded in prolonging the life of German fascism. Spanish, Italian and German fascism today conduct a simultaneous campaign of jew-baiting and plunder, a common orgy of persecution to mark the turning of decrepit capitalism back to the feudal barbarism from which it had emerged.

In the so-called “democratic” countries the trend has similarly been towards reaction. After steadily gnawing away the reforms won by the French workers in 1936, their attempt to stand against the encroachments on their rights was met with a smashing blow in the defeat of the General Strike of November. And the Arabs of Tunis, like the Arabs of Palestine, have been massacred at the hands of “democratic” imperialism, which has similar exploits to boast of in India, Burma and Jamaica.

In the Soviet Union the “purges” have continued to the extent that shootings and removals have ceased to be news, and are taken as part of the day’s routine in the press, like the weather report or the radio programmes.

The background to these events has been the inexorable development of world slump, which shows no sign of abatement but on the contrary gives indications of a steady worsening in the coming year.

Symptomatic of the gathering gloom has been the crop of books and articles proclaiming the decline and fall of Marxism, the bankruptcy of leftism, the eclipse of socialism. Another series of books is appearing debunking the Soviet Union from the inside, and the waverers and deserters increase.

Revolutionary socialism has weathered these storms and crossed these deserts before, because its endurance is derived from the constantly regenerated struggle of the working class for life. Individuals may drop out by the wayside or straggle to the rear, but the working class perforce fights on, now advancing, now retreating, but unceasingly in the struggle.

It is in that struggle that WIN takes up position to aid in re-forming the ranks of revolutionary socialism, holding aloft the banner of Marx and Engels, of Lenin and Trotsky, the revolutionary banner of the Fourth International.

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Last updated on 13.10.2005