From Workers’ International News, Vol.3 No.8, August 1940, pp.8-10.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Over a long period Workers’ International News has described the role of the Communist Party as that of a puppet controlled by Stalin and the Soviet bureaucracy. Month after month we have traced the connection between the foreign policy of the Soviet Government and the propaganda of its British agency. Sometimes this connection has been clear, as at the beginning of the war when the “line” had to be very hastily changed to come into agreement with the Soviet-German Pact; at other times it has been covered over by all the wiles of a well-trained leadership accustomed to finding justification for its unprincipled zigzags in the “realities” of the situation.
There is no lack of clarity, however, in the latest adventure of the King Street leadership. The Nine Point Programme incident revealed a more open and obvious link with Moscow than almost any of the previous “lines.” The deepening of the world crisis gives an epileptic and agitated character not only to capitalist diplomacy, but also to that of the Soviet bureaucracy. The more desperate the rulers are the less “polish” do they apply to their trickery.
The Nine Point Programme first saw the light of day in the Daily Worker of July 22 and consisted of the demand for a “Peoples’ Government” which would put, into operation a programme that included the nationalisation of the means of production, the arming of the workers in the factories and the setting up of workers control committees.
This nine point baby was ushered into the world amidst the scenes of tremendous enthusiasm. The former “friends” and fellow travellers of the Communist Party were enthusiastic about the return to a “Peoples’ Front;” the militant rank and file members were enthusiastic about demands which had some element of socialism in them. Mass meetings were arranged throughout Britain and Harry staging a comeback after his period of disgrace addressed 3,000 people at a rally and was given the ovation of a returning hero.
For twelve days this continued and every other day the Worker devoted a special article to one or another of the nine demands.
But suddenly on July 5 there was silence. The programme ceased to appear point by point. Not another meeting was held to press for its operation. Not a word has been whispered from that day to this about the nationalisation of the means of production, the arming of the workers or the formation of workers’ control committees. Instead we have had, a return to the old formula “Chamberlain Must Go” and a whole campaign to prove that the “Men of Munich” are responsible for practically every villainy on the face of the earth.
The question arises – why this sudden blossoming and equally sudden withering of a political programme? To answer this question it is necessary to note what was happening in the international sphere during the period in question and particularly what was taking place in the diplomatic field between the USSR and Britain.
In the first place, France and Britain had just suffered a staggering military defeat. The whole relationship of forces on the Continent was in process of being altered. The prolonged deadlock between the capitalist armies which Stalin had hoped for had proved to be an illusion. There was every chance of France being utterly defeated and no Continental army left to oppose the might of Germany in the West. Only Britain remained to divert at least, some part of this military machine from Russia. Clearly it was in Stalin’s interest to prolong the struggle. The British rulers for their part realised that the only possible effective ally they could hope for was Russia. Negotiations were set afoot for the resumption of “trade talks.” After a feeble display of “unwillingness” on both sides, Sir Stafford Cripps was sent off to Moscow as British Ambassador on June 6.
On June 14 Cripps had a long talk with Molotov, no details of which were issued to the press. But judging by the events that followed the results were unsatisfactory. In all probability Stalin laid down conditions for helping Britain, which went beyond the price the British Government was willing to pay.
The old weapon of threats was therefore resorted to and a violently anti-British campaign ensued. Meanwhile Paris was handed over to the Germans. Renaud resigned on June 16 and his successor, Petain, lost little time in calling for an armistice. And in Britain the Communist Party nine point campaign was launched on June 22.
The fact that these threats coincided with the collapse of France strengthened Stalin’s hand enormously. Britain must have realised this and agreed to Stalin’s terms. After a preliminary interview with Kalinin on June 28, Cripps achieved the very rare, if doubtful honour of an interview with Stalin himself on July 1st. It was three days after this interview that the Daily Worker received the order to stop printing the Nine Point Programme. The socialist grimaces made by Pollitt, Rust and others had served their purpose.
From that time the Communist Party of this country has contented itself with demanding that Chamberlain must go and Cripps in Moscow has continued his talks with Lozovsky and other representatives of the Soviet bureaucracy. Moreover tension between the USSR and Germany is reported to have become intensified and a regular campaign of threats and extortions is being waged by both countries to win the various Balkan rulers to their side.
The excuse of the individual members of the Communist Party for this opportunistic and cynical behaviour on the part of the leadership is, that these actions are justified in the defence of the Soviet Union.
The Fourth Internationalists have never excluded the possibility of an alliance of the USSR with an imperialist state or with one imperialist combination against another. Under existing circumstances such an alliance becomes dire necessity. The international proletariat will defend unconditionally the. Workers’ state despite the stranglehold of Stalinism. But the international proletariat must under all circumstances safeguard its complete political independence from Soviet diplomacy and thereby from the. Soviet bureaucracy. Thus the unyielding proletarian opposition to any imperialist ally of the USSR shall not be impeded. The policy of the proletarian party in an “allied” as well as in an enemy imperialist country must always be directed towards the revolutionary overthrow of the ruling class and the seizure of power. Only in this way can a real alliance with the USSR be created and the first workers state prevented from being converted into a colony of imperialism.
Last updated on 23.11.2005