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Lydia Beidel

British Stalinists Beg for a Western Front

Have Already Abandoned the Class Struggle
in Hope of a Mere Promise That Britain
May Be Induced to Open a Western Front

(25 October 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 43, 25 October 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

According to a London dispatch of October 19, 1,500 delegates to a convention of the Engineering and Allied Trades Shop Stewards have issued a memorandum to Prime Minister Churchill demanding the immediate opening of a “western front” and a reorganization of British industry in order to facilitate aid to the Soviet Union. This organization claims a following of 500,000 workers in shipyards, steel plants and tank, truck, aircraft, gun and ammunition factories but it is not affiliated to the Trades Union Congress. The text of the memorandum clearly indicates that this body is Stalinist inspired.

The Memorandum is a shock to anyone interested in the genuine defense of the Soviet Union, and the welfare of the British working class.

Four months after the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi forces – at a time when Hitler pounds at the gates of Moscow – at a time when one would feel there must be an end to begging and crawling at the feet of the British ruling class, the British Stalinists speak up. And what do they say?

The memorandum deplores the failure of the British army to launch an offensive at Hitler’s rear. One could expect that four months would be enough to convince even the blindest of Stalin’s followers that the British ruling class has no stake in the victory of the Red Army over Hitler’s troops. Churchill and Co. want nothing beyond the weakening and destruction, of both Hitler and the Soviet Union.

Yet this Stalinist-inspired document strives to pin blame upon a section of the imperialist ruling caste of Great Britain while in effect exonerating the rest. It discovers that the “presence of the Halifaxes, Moore-Brabazons and Margessons is the reason why there is no second front.”

When will the Stalinist rank and file realize that the voice of reaction is the genuine voice of the rulers of the British Empire? After it is too late to save the Soviet Union? The Halifaxes and Moore-Brabazons will always be welcome guests at the state functions of imperialist Britain; the proletariat will never be invited.

Winning Workers’ Confidence – For the War

“Once the political confidence of the British workmen has been won,” continues the memorandum, “they would display an initiative, drive and energy that would increase the production of this country to an unparalleled extent.” One can hardly believe one’s eyes in reading these monstrous words. If they have any meaning at all, they mean that the Stalinists are ready to pay any price in return for so much as a promise to open up a “western front.” They pledge themselves not only to suspend the class struggle for the duration of war. not only to reject and oppose all struggle for the political independence of the British working class, but to rally to the side of the British imperialists and help them conquer “the political confidence of British workmen.”

Nor is that all. They promise Churchill such a conquest of “political confidence” as would unleash – for the imperialist slaughter! – “initiative, drive and energy that would increase the production ... to an unparalleled extent.”

Setting a “Personal Example”

Still more, the British government, as is well known, has yet to prove itself worthy of any confidence on the part of the masses of England. The Stalinists know this, they even complain about it not only in England but in the United States. Nowhere do they so much as imply that they intend to use even the threat of organized protest, of strikes, of any show of political and economic pressure upon the imperialists. No, they pledge in advance to curb the British working class. They are ready to leave the decision solely to the “good will” of Churchill and Co. Here is their pledge:

“Council members were told to do everything in their power by personal example to attain a threefold objective: namely, to assure for Britain a single plan for war production, the opening of a second front and the strengthening of the government so as to remove all existing doubts.” (Our emphasis)

And, as if this pledge were not sufficient, they guarantee to help the British imperialists bind the workers hand and foot in advance of any promise by Churchill to open a “western front.”

It is “no longer enough to discuss the waste, mismanagement and mistakes of the present methods of control and direction of production, but rather that men should apply themselves to the task of doing a better job.”

This cry for a “western front,” for which the Stalinists are ready to pay such a price, – not only in England, but in America and elsewhere – is only the latest of a series of panaceas which the Kremlin in its panic has been circulating.

Stalin began by promising that Hitler would suffer the fate of Napoleon. Then, it was the Soviet guerrillas that would halt the German advance. Next the idea was circulated that the advances of Hitler’s army were really a devilishly clever trap set up by Kremlin. Stalin’s “bait” for this trap was – the vast areas of Soviet territory. Hitler, you see, would bleed to death by penetrating deeper and deeper into the heart of the USSR. Now that Hitler’s armies are battering at the very gates of the Kremlin itself, Stalin has discovered a new panacea – a “western front.”

The tragic thing is that under the spell of the old hypnosis – that is to say, their failure to distinguish between the Soviet Union and Stalinism – many workers still drag helplessly at Stalin’s heels hoping against hope for miracles.

Stalin, the organizer of one defeat after another – for the USSR and for the world working class – is now telling his last lies, among them the lie that a “western front” will save the Soviet Union.

No bourgeois government will ever open a “western front” against Hitler for the purpose of saving the first workers state. Such a front, if and when opened by the “democratic” imperialists, would be designed to serve their interests and not to rescue the beleaguered Red Army. Only the international working class, acting independently of all capitalist political parties and conducting a struggle against the imperialist war, can or will open a front in the west – a class front – against imperialist reaction. That is the only real defense of the Soviet Union. The real “western front” Is this class front. Open up this front, open up the fight for the Socialist United States of Europe, of the Americas, of the world – and the Soviet Union is saved!

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