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Workers’ International News, March 1940


The Turning Point Approaches


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


As the fighting in Finland approaches the critical stage when the ultimate outcome trembles in the balance, the entire situation in Europe correspondingly, approaches the cross-roads, for it is in Finland that the future course of European politics is being determined, and with it the fate of modern civilisation.

The first six months of the war in the West have seen an intensification of the pre-War trade conflict; the mines, the submarines, the contraband control have been added to the arsenal of embargoes, credits and trade agreements already in use before September 1939. The aim of the Allies has hitherto been to make the continuation of war a more costly affair to the German bourgeoisie then even capitulation, the relinquishment of Eastern conquests and the abandonment of expansionism (“Hitlerism”) might be.

But the “localisation” of the conflict, the refusal of the terrified neutrals surrounding Germany to implement the blockade and the potential Russian aid once Stalin’s hands are free in Finland, all tend to strengthen the dogged, refusal of the German capitalists to see “reason.” The Allies are forced to consider more positive means for the subjugation of German imperialism. The Altmark incident served to indicate British intentions of passing from the stonewall tactics of the first six months to the offensive.

The steadily mounting internal strain in France is the main factor which calls imperatively for an ending to the deadlock. The lesser partner in the alliance of bandits who shared the loot of Versailles is now leaning heavily on her more fortunately placed ally. While the solicitous British bourgeoisie sets up its solidarity committees and effects its financial agreements, a simultaneous solidarity is set up in the servants’ hall between their respective flunkeys, the “Socialist” and Trade Union leaders. On February 22nd the British Labour Party and the French Socialist Party terminated their conference in Paris with a joint statement proclaiming the noble principles that actuated them in supporting the war and maintaining collaboration. This paralleled in the political field the conclusions reached in the industrial in the meeting of the Anglo-French Trade Union Council consisting of the British TUC and the French CGT. Agreement was reached by these bodies on the necessity for combatting Communist propaganda, among other things.

It is in France that the drive against the Communist Party has gone furthest, precisely because of French economic weakness. The expulsion and hounding of Stalinist deputies and of rank and file militants, police raids on the offices of the Soviet Trade Delegation and Intourist and trials to be held on high treason charges of leading Stalinists have been accompanied by a crescendo of press belligerency demanding war on the Soviet Union. But it was disclosed that the campaign was not so much anti-Soviet as anti-working class when the arrests were extended to include other working class tendencies, PSOP and Trotskyist militants.

For similar reasons a campaign is now being initiated in Britain, in the trade unions and the Labour Party, aimed not only against the Stalinists but against all left wingers. The campaign coincides with the development of a wave of working class militancy directed towards the recovery of the real wages filched from the workers by the rise in the cost of living. In vain the boss class preaches the necessity of sacrifices, in vain the ingenious Keynes plan is held out, promising to make up the difference after the war. And so the boss class turns to its unofficial police, the Labour leaders, to restore order. Those labour leaders, in close collaboration with their counterparts across the Channel, are adopting similar measures to deal with a situation developing on similar lines. Jouhaux and Citrine, Blum and Attlee are, linked in the Anglo-French Strikebreaking Council.

In Britain as in France the very fact that the Labour leaders have commenced the heresy. hunt signifies that all is not going well on the home front, while from the “colonial front” ominous items of news continue to pour in. Clearly the deadlock in Europe must be resolved.

The fact that the British press is now filled with discussion on the Allied chances in a war on the Soviet Union, just as the French press has been for months past, must be taken as a solemn warning to Stalin now that the Russo-Finnish conflict seems to be nearing its climax. Foreign intervention in Finland has had so far the limited aim of prolonging the war so as to keep the Red Army engaged. If however a compromise is reached – and this seems the most likely outcome, for Stalin’s aims are limited to securing the strategic safety of the Leningrad region – the Stalinist ruling clique will be left free to plan the next step. The press campaign serves to warn Stalin that if the next move tips the balance in Hitler’s favour, it will amount forcing war on the Allies against the Soviet Union. A still more ominous, warning comes from the troop concentrations in Rumania, Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Neutrality in the war of the Great Powers still remains the main object of Stalin’s strategy, for a major war would spell the end of the Stalin regime. It was in the hope of preserving that neutrality by closing the chinks in the Soviet armour that the invasion of Finland was undertaken in spite of the adverse effect that invasion inevitably would have on world proletarian opinion.

But the increasing tension of the deadlock on the Western front operates to confound the Stalinist hopes. Both sides in the conflict have marked off the Soviet Union not only as their ultimate prey but as their battlefield in the near future.

The Stalinist bureaucracy which recklessly flung away its genuine assets of World working class sympathy for the Soviet Union, cannot, for that reason, fulfil the task of organising the defence of the Soviet Union and of the collectivised property that remains the last surviving gain from the October Revolution. For defenders they looked not so long ago to the Western bourgeoisie. Today they look to Hitler. And for that reason their cause is lost. The only real defence of the. Soviet Union lies in the world revolutionary proletarian international.

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