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Workers’ International News, October 1939


The Communist Party Obeys


From Workers’ International News, Vol.2 No.10, October 1939, pp.5-6.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The main reason for Stalin’s support for Hitler’s peace proposals is the fact that once the Soviet Union is at war power will pass into the hands of the commanders of the Red Army and the strength of the Kremlin cliques will be correspondingly reduced. The replacement of General Bleucher in the command of the Far Eastern Red Army by General Stern was accompanied by a struggle on the part of the military staff against the appointment of a political commissar to supervise staff activities. The entire mechanics of the army purges, which commenced with the trial of Tukhachevsky and ran its bloody course until the Red Army was literally beheaded, is based on the struggle between the army heads and the civil bureaucracy for control of the Red Army, that is, for the effective power. If the Soviet Union is drawn into the war, power will pass automatically into the hands of the General Staff, hidden grudges will emerge into the open, end Stalin’s present omnipotence will collapse. This consideration plus the necessity for consolidating the territorial and strategic gains made since the invasion of Poland make it imperative for Stalin to attempt to eliminate, the possibility of Russia’s entry into the war by supporting Hitler’s “peace” proposals. And, so the heads of the Communist Parties all over the world have received their orders: call for peace!

It was only yesterday that these same Communist Party chiefs were beating the war-drums for “defence of democracy against the Fascist aggressor.” No matter! With a cruel jerk of the reins, the Kremlin has brought its long suffering hacks down on their haunches and now it mercilessly whips them on to the new path.

The Kremlin, controlling the immense resources of the Russian people, has built a powerful network of its foreign agents to transform the Comintern into a branch of its foreign office. It is able to boast a collection of the finest politicians that money can buy. With truly stupendous contempt for world public opinion the Kremlin cliques have set their hirelings such a task as the justification of the glaring frame-ups in Moscow and the annihilation of Lenin’s companions and co-revolutionists. Evincing the same bland disregard for world opinion they now order their wretched hirelings to perform a somersault so undignified and at the same time so back breaking that the workers are too dumbfounded even to spit at them.

After five years of vociferous propaganda against “fascist aggression” and specifically against Hitler’s aggression, after pouring forth from their presses an immense volume of leaflets, pamphlets and books culminating in Harry Pollitt’s How to Win the War, they suddenly discover that the war is “an imperialist war.” In those five years of social patriotism, the Communist party grew more than five-fold on the basis of its jingoism and in this way a majority was built up against the new line put forward.

And so the entire menagerie is today in an uproar, that is, such of it as is left now that the patriots have walked away, and the genuinely militant rank and file have fallen into bewildered apathy. Deep fissures have appeared and a scapegoat has had to be found for the crime which the Central Committee has perpetrated in misreading the signals of the Kremlin. Harry Pollitt’s head has now been tendered to the Kremlin potentates as a sacrificial offering in token of their penitence.

But the matter goes deeper than a mere bureaucratic adjustment in the personnel of the leadership. Over a period of years the pacifists of the Peace Pledge Union have been lumped together with the Mosley-fascists as the paid hirelings of Hitler. By this action the Communist Party leadership have cut off their own retreat, for, by adopting the line of agitation for stopping the war and arranging negotiations between the belligerents they have wiped out the difference between themselves and the aforementioned “hirelings of Hitler.” Harry Pollitt, an experienced politician, has perceived the difficulty of retreating over bridges that have already been burnt. That part of the membership which took the anti-fascist demagogy the past period seriously, that is, the majority of the working class members and the sincere middle class elements will find it impossible to reconcile themselves to the new turn, the new partners and the new ideology.

On the surface the revival of the old slogans, the condemnation of the war, the demand for peace may seem like a return to the policies of 1917. But Lenin, when he characterised the last war as an imperialist war, also saw the only road to peace in the overthrow of the imperialists. The “Communists” today, while they attach the label “imperialist” to the present war, find the road to peace in negotiation between rival bandits, in other words, in an imperialist compromise which leaves the cause of future wars intact. Their attitude is not Bolshevik but pacifist.

Thus the Communist Party splits into majority of social-patriots supporting the war and a minority of pacifists who enjoy the official blessing of the Comintern – what is left of it. As in previous splits in the national sections, the, majority will find itself ousted unless, indeed, Stalin finds it necessary to make another dizzying turn.

The re-opening of Soviet-British trading relations signalises the desire of Stalin to keep a foot in each camp so as to retain up to the last moment the possibility of choosing sides in the ultimate conflict. For the moment the Kremlin supports the policy of peace by negotiation, and Harry Pollitt is eclipsed. Tomorrow’s policy will depend on tomorrow’s needs, the working class will be traded along with timber to British imperialism, or along with oil to German imperialism to protect the Kremlin’s national interests.

The British workers are awakening to the true role of Stalinism. The voices of Communist Party street corner speakers are now being drowned, not by angry shouts but loud laughter as at the antics of circus clowns, laughter which is more unbearable than a blows and brickbats.

This verdict pronounced spontaneously by the workers on the Stalinist hacks has already begun to communicate itself to the militant rank and file of the Communist Party.

They, in common with the rest of the working masses, long ardently for peace. Chamberlain’s road to peace is war “to smash Hitlerism.” This is the path pointed by Pollitt too, at least until recently. Hitler’s road to peace is to conclude an immediate bandit’s truce. This is the path pointed by the official Communist Party. Neither offers a way out.

It is only workers’ action that can guarantee real peace. Only Socialism can end war by ending the cause of war – the capitalist system.

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