From Workers’ International News, Vol.2 No.8, August 1939, pp.1-2.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
In the midst of a diplomatic blackout, the toiling masses of the world apprehensively await the final decision of the Great Powers. Under cover of the darkness created by secret diplomacy, a series of horse-deals is now under discussion, deals whose nature will only be fully disclosed when the secret archives are opened in the inevitable revolutions which will end the coming war. But with one voice the robber imperialists proclaim that their diverse “negotiations” are for the purpose of preserving peace.
In Britain, Liberals, Labourites and “Communists” unite with the dissident Tories in clamouring for the Anglo-Soviet pact, which according to them, will guarantee the peace of the world. The official Tories have shown their superior sense of realities in their policy of deliberate obstruction and repeated delays and postponements of negotiations over the projected pact. They intend to conclude the pact only in the last resort, as a final desperate attempt to stay the advance of German imperialism. Far from being a guarantee of world peace, the signing of the Anglo-Soviet Pact will signify that the world is closer to the universal conflagration than it has ever been since 1919.
Rather than draw so close to the edge of the precipice, the Chamberlain Government has exhausted every expedient in order to divert German attention to the Ukraine as the “living-space” demanded by German imperialism.
But the gold reserves of the Reich have dwindled to a bare 6 per cent of what they were ten years ago and this is only one of the many reasons why Germany cannot wage a prolonged war. German imperialism is obliged to bank all upon a successful lightning-stroke and the whole of German economy and military preparedness is based on this fact.
Against Russia, with its wide spaces and immense manpower, the swift stroke would prove unavailing, whereas the densely populated cities of the West offer a vulnerable target. Rather than embark upon an exhausting war against Russia, which will culminate at best in mutual collapse and leave the spoils at the mercy of the neutral countries, the Nazis prefer to gamble on a war against the West.
It was in the hope of removing this objection of the Nazis that the offer of s thousand million pounds has been made by British imperialism to Germany. Hudson’s offer was a bribe to Germany, an attempt to provide Germany with the means of sustaining the strain of a prolonged war for the conquest of the Ukraine.
The offer wars contemptuously rejected Germany for the quite simple reason that it still leaves Germany at the mercy of the Western powers at the conclusion of the projected war. And the Soviet-German negotiations for a trade pact continue on their subterranean course. German imperialism hopes to neutralise Russia to gain war-time supplies, and to secure its eastern frontier, while the lightning blow is struck against the West. The German press attacks on Stalin have ceased over a period of some weeks, while Molotov is referred to with increasing cordiality, in spite of the bitterly attacked negotiations for the pact.
In preparation for every eventuality, all sides arm feverishly. It was stated in the House of Commons that more was spent in Britain last year on arms than in the third year of the Great War. The present rate of spending is five million pounds a day, and this figure is matched in most of the European countries. The economists shrug their shoulders and speculate on the extent of the inflation that must overwhelm all the competitors in the near future.
The rival bandits, armed to the teeth, continue to shout their pacific intentions. But gradually they are beginning to sink under the sheer weight of their weapons, just as the prehistoric monsters were overcome in the end by the mere hulk of their tusks and spikes and armoured hides. The national states, like the giant saurians, have outlived themselves and begin to qualify for the pages of the history book.
The threat of universal inflation now hanging over the world is symptomatic of a dying regime. In the years of Roman decline the successive emperors resorted to debasing the currency and antiquarians are able to give the date of a later Roman coin by assaying the metal of which it is made. The early coins were silver, and the content of brass steadily increased until in the period of the crumbling of the Empire they were made of pure brass with a coating of tin.
Modern imperialism passes to its doom accompanied by a similar process. The methods are different, the printing press and the complication of modern financial methods have replaced the primitive practice of debasing the coinage, but the results are the same. The post-war collapse of German economy through inflation was countered by rescue operations carried out by richer countries through the Young Plan and the Dawes Plan, but the present inflationary epidemic will overwhelm all simultaneously.
The catastrophic drop of new capital issues in Britain last month to more than £20 millions below last year’s figures, a drop of more than 75 per cent, reveals the dimensions of the slump which is disguised as an “armaments boom.” It is the statistics of new capital issues rather than unemployment returns or interest rates that serves as the most reliable indicator of the industrial cycle. The demand for labour in the arms industry keeps the Labour Exchanges comparatively empty and the demand for money to finance the arms plans keeps the rates of interest high, but behind the false appearance of prosperity lies a real decline of industry mirrored in the fall of new capital issues.
Inflation plus slump means that the conditions that existed in Germany in the post-war period will be witnessed on a world scale in the coming months: rising prices, low wages, unemployment. Only the outbreak of war can cut across this process by imposing even more intolerable burdens on mankind. This is the historical blind alley into which humanity has been led by capitalism.
The present day crisis of capitalism is a permanent one. The point of tension shifts from Tientsin to Danzig and back again. Mr. Chamberlain remained cool and collected in face of the Far Eastern episodes as long as the Danzig situation was tense, but on the first signs of relaxation in Europe, his blood began to boil at the “indignities” inflicted on British subjects several weeks previously. The first signs of British belligerence in the Far East produced fresh tension in Danzig, and Mr. Chamberlain’s blood suddenly cooled down again. And already, before these crises are solved, a new point of tension is arising in the Balkans, another manifestation of the permanently insoluble crisis of capitalism.
There can be no peace under capitalism. The basic rivalry of the imperialist bandits for the world’s dwindling trade forces them to conduct their tortuous manoeuvres under cover of secret diplomacy, leading inevitably to war. But already the first gleams of light are beginning to pierce the darkness. The colonial peoples are awakening to renewed struggle, the workers are stirring. War or no war, revolutionary struggles are in preparation. It rests with the conscious vanguard of the workers whether those struggles shall be given the leadership necessary to guide them to victory.
Last updated on 11.9.2005