From Workers’ International News, Vol.3 No.12, December 1940, pp.3-5.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The Greek war, with the terrific reverses suffered by the Italians, has focussed attention on the Mediterranean as a new front in the world conflict. It has demonstrated the weakness of Italian Imperialism, with an industry as an economic base far weaker than that of France. This, coupled with the incompetence of the Italian general staff, has led to the defeats in Greece and Albania.
Italian Imperialism was driven by the explosive nature of the contradictions within Italian society, to break away from dependence on Great Britain. In an effort to form an independent Empire, secure for the undisputed exploitation of the Italian capitalists, reflected in Mussolini’s dream of a regenerated imperial Rome, Italian capitalism has attempted to find a solution to its problem only to reveal its inner decay.
Italy, which entered as the “ally” of the brother totalitarian state, in order to claim her “place in the sun,” has been thrust into ignominious dependence on the mightier structure of Nazi Germany. Breaking away from the weakened power of Britain, she has not gained an “independent” status, but has merely changed masters. In everything but name she has become a vassal state of the Reich for the present. As a writer in the Times put it:
“Nations in the past have fought their way from dependence to independence: Italy to-day is fighting to end her independence in order to become a dependency of Germany.”
Not quite accurate, for previously Italy enjoyed not an independent position, but that of satellite of the “ruler of the seas.” Nevertheless, it expresses in a graphic way the dilemma of the Italian bourgeoisie. Defeat means destruction; victory means dependence.
In the invective and abuse which are being showered on Italian Fascism, particular stress is laid on Mussolini personally. The Times produces a calendar of Mussolini’s perfidy, emphasising the “stab in the back” nature of his turn against this country.
While the British bourgeoisie are stressing the complete dependence of Italy on Germany and are attempting to give the Italian bourgeoisie some “disinterested” advice on the policy best suited to their interests, the Italian and German Imperialists are answering in like coin. They remonstrate with the British for falling into the clutches of the Wall Street octopus.
It is indisputable that every month of the war increases the dependence of Britain on the imperialists of the USA economically, financially and finally militarily. The mission of Lord Lothian to procure more aid from America, once the British funds and investments are used up, is an illustration of this fact. Britain’s every shilling and penny of investments on the American continent is to be squeezed out for the start, as President Roosevelt genially indicated in advance of the return of Lothian in order that there should be no doubt on the question. Then, he hinted the question of loans in exchange for, not merely the use of the bases, but the actual possession of the West Indies, could come up for discussion.
The war is becoming more and more a conflict between the two strongest Imperialist states – America and Germany – for world domination, with the other powers merely ranging themselves on one side or the other as satellites and favoured vassals. Before coming to real grips with its formidable adversary, American imperialism intends to weaken and dissipate the strength of its “noble ally.”
The British bourgeoisie, stripped of their former glory, no matter what they say publicly, have to cringe at the table of their more fortunate “blood relatives” while humbly begging aid. This will be given, of course, at a price. Not only in economic and strategic positions, but in blood. The recent announcement of the impending call-up of 1,500,000 men in Britain, and a projected extension of the minimum age for reserved occupations to thirty has been carried out at the instance of the Wall Street master. All of Britain’s resources must be put at stake while America is yet preparing for a decisive intervention which would leave her alone as mistress of the globe.
Britain, alas, has no other course, as the speeches of Churchill and others show, but to accept this as their inexorable fate. The German nation is the enemy, they tell us, not distinguishing between Hitler and the German people. But the blame for Italy’s part in the war is loaded on to the shoulders of Mussolini himself and not the “unfortunate” Italian nation. But great care is being taken that a distinction is made between Mussolini and the Court and certain high Fascist dignitaries. For, perhaps later, they calculate, a compromise with Italian Imperialism can be arrived at. How much sincerity their denunciations of Italian Fascism really possess is clear: they would be only too willing to save bloodstained Italian Fascism if they could, with the sacrifice of its mere figurehead, if this could be reconciled with their Imperialist interests.
This position is underlined by the diplomatic policy pursued in regard to Petain and Franco. The annexation of Tangier by Spain wits meekly accepted with the usual note of protest. When Mussolini was playing the game of “neutrality” the British Imperialists heaped fulsome praise on him: of the butcher Franco the Times of November 1st says:
“General Franco is above all a Titan of character ... the doctrine of Nazism is the spiritual antithesis to that for which General Franco stands ... under General Franco’s wise leadership reconstruction has already made giant strides ...”
By these placatory gestures, plus the substantial supplies which the British blockade allows to enter Spain, they hope to win over this “Christian gentleman” to their side. If it does nothing else it at least makes a mockery of the claim that it is democracy versus all the evil features of dictatorship which is the issue.
On Petain, too, despite the blows which he has dealt Britain as an agent of Germany, they place their hopes that the French bourgeoisie will execute a new about turn in their favour. Up to now General de Gaulle alone of all the foreign “allied” representatives on British soil, is not the recognised representative of the Government of his country, even though, in one sense, he has a better claim than others, since French Equatorial Africa flies the flag of “Free France.” British Imperialism is holding the adventurer, De Gaulle, in reserve as a means of exerting pressure on the men of Vichy and in case they can find no possibility of compromise with them.
This, despite the disgusting subservience and the craven way in which this unscrupulous gang handed France over to Hitler and attempted to introduce an imitation of his leprous regime. So much for the flag of freedom which Britain holds aloft. Incidentally, General Metaxas, the new hero for the struggle for freedom, has learned quite a few points from his butcher confreres in the dictator countries, despite the fact that because of economic and strategic considerations, he finds himself opposed to them to-day.
But all will be in vain. When Franco, no less than Mussolini, is compelled to enter the war on the side of the Axis, we can imagine the shriek of rage and the exposing of the barbarous nature of Franco’s regime by the “democrats” – especially by the Labour leaders in the Cabinet. Franco has no other choice but to attempt to seize what plunder he can out of the struggle of the titans. Hitler will place before him the alternative of “collaboration” and the assisting of German troops in the taking of Gibraltar and Portugal – or the forcible occupation of Spain itself. Hitler would have no choice but to face his friend with this painful necessity. As to Petain, so to Franco, he poses the old classical argument if they do not hang together, and he is beaten, the masses will hang them all separately. Powerful cement indeed!
The destruction of Britain would have solved most of the problems with which Hitler is at present faced and would have left him free to fight the real antagonist, the USA. That is why even now invasion is not excluded and will probably be attempted this winter or spring, although the scales are now weighed against the success of such a venture.
Hitler is master of all Europe, but this continent is too small for the needs of German Imperialism. The war cannot stop in its present phase of stalemate. The bombings to which the industrial cities, ports and shipping of Britain are being subjected, horrible and destructive though they may be, cannot by themselves win the war. A desolated and ruined Britain only becomes even more dependent on her stronger ally across the ocean.
Dynamic German Imperialism thinks in terms, of continents, not countries. Germany is preparing, as Smuts and De Gaulle have hinted, to advance towards the conquest of Northern and Western Africa and the Middle East. The fall of Gibraltar would provide a bridgehead into Africa on the one side, while through Greece (and the Germans will certainly intervene at a later stage through Jugoslavia or Bulgaria, depending on the agreements with Russia) they would hope to get a bridgehead into Syria and so to the oil of the Middle East, (and toward Egypt and the Suez Canal. That is the meaning of the involvement of Greece. The battle of the Mediterranean will lead to the battles of Africa and Asia. Astonishing new successes await the German Army in the next period at least. The emphasis on the campaign of 1942-3-4 by Churchill indicate a realisation that the disparity of arms equipment between Britain and Germany impels Britain to remain on the defensive next year. Germany’s military preponderance and the crushing of all organised military opposition remains for the time being unchallenged on the continent.
Hitler is relentlessly driven on to conquests wider and wider afield; he must entrench himself before the superior potentiality of America becomes an actual, tangible fact. Germany wishes to render herself as strong, as possible. Among other things the alliance with Japan is used and will be used to distract a great part of American preparations along the Pacific Coast and away from the Atlantic. But this will not deter the Oceanic Colossus. America is resigned to the inevitability of fighting Japan and Germany at once. These are the countries which America cannot appease. She has no alternative but to struggle to the death. Colonel. Knox’s statement that Britain’s fight is “an irreconcilable conflict which must be fought to the finish,” in reality is a reflection of the position of America also. She cannot remain only a source of supply, but will have to take up arms against both her rivals simultaneously.
The war is extending over whole continents. The havoc wrought in Germany and Britain is as nothing compared to that which will be wrought in the countries of Africa and Asia which will echo to the invaders’ and the “defenders” tread. The tropical night will be alight with the glow of parachute flares and incendiary bombs. The sound of air raid sirens win extend over every continent – the universal shriek, symbolising Imperialism’s world domination and death agony. The prolongation and endless extension of the war in time and space can only be stopped by the proletarians of all lands extending the hand of comradeship to one another and taking their fate into their own hands. Neither the “New Order” of Hitler and Mussolini, nor the “Old Order” of Churchill and Roosevelt can solve the problems of mankind, but only the Socialist reorganisation of the productive forces and the destruction of the outworn barriers of the National State.
The Socialist United States of Europe, the Socialist world that is the only way to end war and establish peace.
Last updated on 19.10.2005