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Workers’ International News, February 1940


Before the Spring Offensive


From Workers’ International News, Vol.3 No.2, February 1940, pp.1-3.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


During the lull in the fighting on the military front, the sappers and miners are undoubtedly doing their mole’s work, undermining the enemy entrenchments. The diplomatic moles are similarly busy in an equally unobtrusive way. Only when the underground mines explode will their handiwork be disclosed.

In the last Great War this preparatory work was already almost completed before August, so that the shot at Sarajevo initiated a chain of world-shaking events in a period of days, and humanity found itself divided into two great camps. The line-up today, in the sixth month of the European war is still undecided. But the moles are burrowing assiduously.

The French Yellow Book on the events leading to the war, like the British Blue Book and White Papers on the same subject, make great play with the personal characteristics of Adolf Hitler as a factor making for war. But economic statistics for the pre-war years tell a far more convincing story.

1939 was a year of slump. Figures for new capital issues in Britain, always the most significant index of boom and depression, show that from the peak year of 1936 there has been a devastating drop to less than one third. They sunk to £66,000,000 which is below the level attained in the depths of the last economic depression, some £88,000,000.

Hardest hit of all was France. It was only the outbreak of hostilities in September that halted the development of the social crisis which was universally expected to come to a head in the autumn of 1939. The internecine struggles within the French bourgeoisie were halted momentarily, but only at the price of a war effort which is costing France, according to the estimates of the military budget for the first quarter of 1940, some £4,200,000 per day.

British financial support, the “pooling of resources”, the Franco-British Solidarity Committee – all these measures indicate that the structure of. French economy cannot stand on its own basis, but needs the British prop.

Like their masters, the valets of imperialism, Citrine and Jouhaux have drawn together in a common effort to win the war and to stave off the threatening revolt of the French workers against the intolerable burdens which the war has superimposed on those already loaded on their shoulders through the depression. Valets and masters on both sides of the Channel draw together too in common struggle against the French Communist Party, the leaders of which are trying to utilise the smouldering rebellion of the French masses to further the plans of the Stalin-Hitler partnership.

The parliamentary immunity of the Communist Deputies from arrest was suspended last November and they were expelled last month. The drive against the Communists expresses the fear of the Daladier regime that the civil war in France might develop more rapidly than the uprising against Hitler in Germany. Their fears are shared by the reformist labour leaders who unite with them in a fight directed ostensibly against the agents of the Kremlin, but in reality against the revolutionary trends now arising within the working class.

The resumption of French trade agreements with Spain, the trade treaties with Belgium and Jugoslavia, the British trade agreements with Sweden, Greece and Turkey indicate faintly the outlines of the future Allied camp. But the central factor in the coming line-up is the attitude of the United States.

The blockade of German exports opened up to the United States the possibility of establishing a monopoly of South American trade. But Japan too, received simultaneous benefits from the preoccupation of the Allies in the European war. Japanese exports made a spectacular recovery, the excess of exports for the last three months of 1939 reaching 400 million yen as against 60 million yen for the whole of 1938. Her operations in China were facilitated by the withdrawal of British gunboats from the Yangtse and of Allied troops from Chinese territory. The two remaining rivals for the lion’s share of Chinese trade are now left face to face, and there is a sharpening antagonism in the Pacific expressed in the abrogation of the US trade agreement with Japan in protest against the use of military force in China and the violation of American rights and property. The fear of giving Japan a free hand in China limits the degree to which the US can intervene in the European conflict.

Roosevelt, in his crusade for religious freedom and his exchanges with the Pope, is clearing the road for intervention. At the trial of Earl Browder, American Communist leader, on flimsy charges, a leaf was taken from Stalin’s book. Donzenburg, one of the witnesses and a foundation member of the Communist Party of the US, confessed (according to British Press reports) to having been a secret agent of the Soviet Union, and in this capacity to have taken aerial photographs of a “certain country” from the plane lent him by its “Ruler.” Unmistakeably King Carol of Rumania is pointed to in his thinly veiled references which suggest a plan on the part of Stalin of aggression against Rumania. The technique is identical with that of Stalin’s witchcraft trials in Moscow, and helps to clear the way for open intervention by the US in the Finnish conflict, limited up to now by “non-military” financial aid and moral support.

In Finland the threads are being drawn together. Volunteers from a diversity of countries are recruited into a foreign Legion symbolising the capitalist front against Russia, gifts and loans of money are being sent by Sweden and the United States dig well as arms, and equipment, while Citrine and the IFTU contribute their resolutions and appeals. On Finnish soil the combined capitalist onslaught on the Soviet Union is being organised.

From the united capitalist front against the Soviet Union, only Hitler Germany as yet stands aside, for, in Stalin’s words, his friendship with Hitler is “cemented by blood.” Nevertheless, whether Germany is bribed over into the anti-Russian bloc or whether the cement continues to hold, the intervention against the Soviet Union is becoming a menacing reality. In Finland the threads are being drawn together.

But in all the national states, France and Germany, Britain and Russia, US and Japan, the mole of the revolution is busily burrowing, laying its tunnels beneath those of the diplomats and the warmongers. In this fact lies one hope. Burrow well, old mole!

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