Joseph Carter Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page



Letter on Yalta

(May 1945)

From New International, Vol. XI No. 4, May 1945, pp. 126–127.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan.

Dear Editor:

Knowing you as I do, I’m sure you will welcome a bit of criticism of the NI. I refer to the appraisal of the Yalta Conference on the March issue.

“Power ruled ... naked power ... force will decide ... force alone decides.”

And who has this power? This force? Who is flushed with victory? Who has one trump card and another and still a third? STALIN!

What makes matters worse, to bolster the monotonous litany and deepen the political sin, there is dragged in the empirical profundities of Walter Lippmann and other writers for the Herald Tribune and the Saturday Evening Post.

Such a simplified pattern of reasoning may be expected from a Philip Simms or a James Wechsler. Should it be parroted by an exponent of “revolutionary Marxism”?

Certainly Stalin’s troops may soon be in Berlin. Not so long ago Nazi armies scoured over most of Europe. Today the Nazis are being annihilated. Germany from east to west is a shambles. But Russia’s best industrial and agricultural lands also are very thoroughly devastated. Many of the Soviet Union’s largest and oldest cities are utter ruins and it will take years to rebuild the destruction wrought by the war.

It is needless to repeat that the Red Armies, to rout the invader, received not only armaments from the United States and Great Britain but food for themselves and the vast civilian population.

The number of Russia’s casualties is not known, but it is estimated they exceed the combined total of the other belligerent nations. We must bear in mind, too, that Russia still asks for food from the United States, is getting it and must continue to receive it to prevent a famine that would make the bleak years after the last war seem like a picnic.

These are not idle speculations They are the “confessions,” though in more diplomatic language, of representatives and apologists of the Stalin bureaucracy. What, therefore, is more accurately a pinpoint picture of Russia – a picture shorn of all schematicism – of bourgeois hogwash?

Russia is bleeding profusely. As conditions are, the Stalin bureaucracy can look only to Wall Street imperialists for raw materials, machinery, long-term credits, food and other forms of relief to help in the rehabilitation of a ravaged and pillaged country. It must feed 180 hungry millions, among them aged men and women, helpless orphans, incapacitated and incurable veterans by the millions. Trump cards, indeed!

Thus the overstrained observation by the NI that Stalin will be Eastern Europe’s boss upon the close of hostilities and that a deal has been made by the Big Three on that basis is neither convincing nor original. Most of those high-salaried newspaper columnists and radio commentators who offer the “inside of the news” have been edifying their constituents with similar revelations for many months. But anyone who even casually checks their mental excursions knows that they are either fools or plain charlatans and that more often than not the prognostications of these “experts” have no relation to facts.

Would you say that Stalin remained silent while British machine guns mowed down thousands of his own stooges because he wanted to demonstrate to the world the enormity of his strength? Of course you may say correctly that Stalin is an old and callous hand at slaughtering his comrades, but all such acts of murder are committed as a rule to save the Kremlin despotism. Hence the tragic drama in Greece reflected, if anything, not Stalin’s “power,” but his weakness.

In Rumania he has a “friendly” regime but he has not dared to tamper with the capitalist political or economic forms of government. And in Bulgaria his Red Army is helping to maintain the supremacy of the land barons over the peasantry and protecting the few remaining industrialists from the wrath of the masses.

As for Yugoslavia, Tito is unquestionably Stalin’s flunkey. That is why the situation there is peculiarly interesting. Witness, for example, the recent pronouncement of Dr. Ivan Subastich, the country’s Foreign Minister. I do not recall the exact words but the essence was to the effect that he wants for Yugoslavia the kind of government as exists in the United States because, he said, it became the richest and most powerful nation “through its brand of democracy.” What is good for the United States is good for Yugoslavia, he concluded. Not only was this a sharp and unqualified slap at Stalinism, but what followed his statement was even more” impressive. Tito gave the word to the Stalinists to end their criticism of the government and be quiet. More Stalinist power!

At this point a few words about the late Roosevelt will not be amiss. Not only did he know what was in the best interests of American “democratic” capitalism, but he always placed first and above all the welfare of the ruling class and he was by far its ablest spokesman. Nothing that happened since his death has changed the aspirations of American imperialism and his successor is himself no novice at representing Wall Street’s aims. What are these aims?

It would be needless to emphasize here that Wall Street wants economic hegemony over Western Europe and the Pacific areas, as well as the Orient. Yes, and American imperialism seeks financial domination over Eastern Europe, too.

The United States is today the world’s only creditor nation and native big business knows that all countries, large and small, look to it for assistance. Grant to American imperialists a monopoly over foreign trade and they are content to let the other powers fret and haggle over territorial boundaries. That always has been and continues to be the role of U.S. diplomacy.

The late President had said publicly that he favored extradition of German slave labor for reconstruction projects in Russia. Undoubtedly Truman is of the same view. How would that circumstance affect this country? The more manpower Russia can muster for work, the more raw materials and machinery she would require from the United States.

It should be obvious that Donald Nelson, Eric Johnston and other big business leaders did not visit the Soviet Union “for their health or to inspect the Moscow subway.

As an experienced and foresighted politician, Roosevelt patently must have known that Stalin’s imported slave-labor program, while a boon to U.S. business, would win for the Kremlin despot the undying hatred of the majority of the German workers and middle class.

There is no denial that it is not the United States which seeks help for survival from Russia, but that the precise opposite happens to be the case. The Soviet Union is the needy borrower, the U.S the shrewd, cold, calculating lender. Is that significant and all-important factor another indication of Stalin’s “force” and “power”?

Twilight of the British Empire

But what about Great Britain and Churchill, “who slumps lower in his chair at each succeeding conference”?

According to the NI, the decadent British Empire is tottering, is on the verge of collapse, is in the twilight of its existence and what-not. The number of prophets who in the last decade predicted the imminent fadeout of the Empire, mounts to Lend-Lease figures. Yet each time that John Bull seemed to be down for the count, he bounced back to his feet and sent fists flying in all directions.

True, Great Britain is financially bankrupt. However, she was insolvent at the close of the last war. Nevertheless, she managed to annex some German colonies and when, in the 1930’s, the crisis seriously dislocated U.S. economy, Britain was forging ahead and enjoying one of the most prosperous periods in her history.

Churchill’s words about being appointed not to preside at the liquidation of the British Empire were uttered not for their rhetorical effect.

What he said was a studied forerunner to Foreign Minister Eden’s more recent assurance to the House of Commons that the conquered Africa Empire would not be returned to Italy! In that statement reposes much of the question of victors’ spoils.

Italian Somaliland and Eritrea are rich in stock-raising, agriculture and the production of oil, gum, hides, kapok and ivory. Somaliland produces half of the world’s supply of incense. Large sections of Libya could be made fertile and there is plenty of room for industrial development and exploitation of native labor. Tripoli and Cyrenaica could be sliced up between Britain and France. Britain’s troops patrol all these vanquished lands.

Is it any wonder then that Churchill is so magnanimous to Stalin in the case of Poland? The Tory Prime Minister is most willing to drop a crumb into Stalin’s hand, while he takes a truckload of loot. Besides, should anyone condemn Britain for another example of imperialistic robbery, Churchill could point an accusing finger at Stalin and exclaim: “He started it!”

In a word, Churchill is not groveling before any of the looters. The only thing that could dismember the British Empire is widespread revolution and the prospects for that are not any too bright. But such an evntuality would also topple the Kremlin bureaucracy.

Ergo, Stalin retains the same power he had before the outbreak of war, to wit: his OGPU still watches, terrorizes and holds in miserable subjection Russia’s workers and peasants. And Stalin still hovers on the horizon as the Jehovah of the Browderites and their prototypes abroad. For the rest, all the talk of any newly-gained decisive power by Stalin is just flagrant guesswork.

To conclude, the foregoing is intended only as a reply to certain parts of the NI article and should not be construed as an attempt to fashion a complete thesis on Yalta.


Reply by the Editors

Joseph Carter Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 12 June 2016