From Workers’ International News, Vol.3 No.7, July 1940, pp.8-10.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
June 1940 will be remembered as a month crowded with events, fraught with big changes in the relations between the Great Powers. In one month has been encompassed the destruction of the might of France, the declaration of war by Italy, new moves by Russia in the Baltic and the Balkans, the proclamation of a new Monroe doctrine by Japan and the rearmament in America.
In a few weeks the inflated bubble of French imperialist pretensions to world hegemony has been burst by the bayonets of German imperialism. The French bourgeoisie dragged the Trojan horse into the citadel of Paris, not like the defenders of Troy out of ignorance but with malice aforethought. They have placed Paris under the heel of Hitler lest the capital fell into the hands of the working class.
Beside this unprecedented act of treachery on the part of the French ruling class, the corruption and venality of their forebears, the apostles of capitulation in the Franco-Prussian war of 1871-2 pales into insignificance. The French bourgeoisie surrendered to Hitler not only because of their fear of the working class but also of their conviction that it would be better to come to terms with Hitler than to place themselves at the mercy of the ruling class of Britain whose turn was next on the list of victims. Apparently evaluating the prospect of their “beloved ally” as not being too rosy, the French bourgeoisie, preferred to act as agents of Hitler while he settled accounts with Britain.
The complacency of the decrepit English ruling class has received staggering shocks. Even Spain has been allowed to occupy Tangier with “the consent” of Britain and France. Sir Samuel Hoare sent on a mission of appeasement to Spain, is met by “unofficial” demonstrations demanding the return of Gibraltar. Taken with the tone of Spanish press and the declaration of non-belligerency on the part of Franco, the attitude of Spain appears remarkably similar to that of Italy preceding Italian intervention. At a suitable opportunity, a formal declaration of war with an attack on Gibraltar either by the Spaniards or picked German shock troops is the most likely outcome of the position on the Iberian peninsula.
Despite the vituperation at the intervention of Mussolini, the situation the Mediterranean is extremely critical and this has been further aggravated by the defection of France. Blows rain in on the British Lion from all directions. Japan is blockading Indo-China and Hong Kong and is demanding an embargo on all arms sent to China. As the Nichi Nichi Shimbum describes the situation, “The Golden Opportunity” for Japanese imperialism has arrived. Japanese imperialism, economically even weaker than French, has been enabled by the preoccupation of their rivals, to threaten all their Pacific possessions and interests. The American capitalists, although gnashing teeth, are compelled to smile ingratiatingly at Japan while they prepare for the greater menace in the Atlantic. America, the most highly industrially organised, and potentially the greatest military force in the world, is compelled to take this path, but only temporarily. Japan will be attended to later.
America finds herself in this predicament through the same miscalculation which has resulted in the destruction of the French Empire and the desperate state of the British. The “great democracies” had laboured under the delusion that their potential resources and their financial overlordship of almost the entire globe, their access to the resources of the whole world, guaranteed victory. Given time, safe behind the impregnable barrier of the Maginot Line and the Channel, they would proceed at their leisure, perhaps at a slightly quickened pace, to organise their resources and with the aid of the blockade, to the destruction of Germany. Meanwhile the arms racketeers, munition manufacturers and the big financial sharks were to reap the profits. A nice comfortable war – that was the idea which they held.
But Germany utilised the surplus labour wrung from the German workers for seven years at 12 to 14 hours a day, to transform it into tanks and bombing planes. It was in this way that the relationship of forces was changed and Germany was enabled to score her “miraculous” victories. America looked on approvingly at Britain and France plunged into the war hoping to prevent the recrudescence of a new German expansionism and simultaneously to encompass the enfeebling of British and French imperialism. “The Moor was to do his duty and then be cast aside.” But Germany’s plans succeeded too well. She has overrun France and threatens to overrun Britain as well. The great British Empire built in 400 years threatens to fly into fragments in less than 400 days. The prospect not only of a hostile Germany but a hostile Europe stares America in the face. It is this which has set the pace for American rearmament at a speed which would make Hitler’s titanic exertions seem like a crude blacksmith’s forge.
Even if Hitler succeeds in occupying Britain and all Europe, even if he holds sway over the colonies, there would not be a long period of tranquillity. All Europe would not be a big enough field for German economy. The planet itself would be the measure. But all those nations held under the totalitarian heel of national slavery and social oppression would mean that Hitler’s empire would be based on sand. The time has passed when empires could be established on the basis of an undeveloped national consciousness. 20th century Europe is not the Asia of the 10th century. With the development of capitalism, national consciousness has correspondingly developed. Moreover, the echoes of the European battle will awaken the slumbering giant of the Indian and colonial masses.
On Hitler’s eastern flank there still remains, despite Stalin, the problem of the mighty collective state now extended to comprise 200 millions. This problem would have to be settled before German imperialism could reach stability. The very existence of such a power in Europe would be a constant threat to Hitler’s unstable domination. Despite the efforts of Stalin and of Hitler himself to postpone it, the clash would come sooner or later. Stalin is taking advantage of Hitler’s preoccupation in the West to attempt to strengthen himself. But from Hitler’s point of view, these are merely loans on account like that of Tsechen to Poland when Czechoslovakia was invaded. He will present his account later.
If Britain should hold out for a long period America will enter the war on the side of her new protegé, Britain, now in the process of being reduced to the status of the 49th state of the USA.
Look which way one may, the horizon is full of flames and convulsions. There is no solution along the path of imperialism. Permanent war with all that it entails opens as a prospect before the peoples of Europe and of the whole world. There is but one way for humanity out of this perspective. The workers of Europe will not be able to endure this endless massacre, the famines and epidemics. Whichever way events turn the workers will be compelled in sheer self-preservation to take the road of revolution and establish the Socialist United States of Europe. That is the only road to peace and a new life for humanity.
Last updated on 23.11.2005