From International Socialism (1st series), No.7, Winter 1961, p.31.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The Cold War and Its Origins
Allen and Unwin. £5. 5s.
The Cold War has frozen political life into a series of grotesque postures, with politicians hopeless. A sign of the sheer despair is the absence of any realistic plan to end it. Both sides make elaborate preparations for continued military ‘progress’, stretching well into the 1970s, while all disarmament proposals are regarded merely as propagandist ballyhoo. Even the most sanguine politician hopes, at best, for merely a maintenance of the present balance of power. But it is a highly fragile balance and cannot continue for ever. If either side develop a new more powerful weapon, that balance would be knocked awry. The Cold War is, therefore, not a permanency, to be handed on as our contribution to posterity; it must be ended before it ends us.
Professor Fleming amasses a tremendous wealth of data to trace the antagonism between Russia and the West from 1917 to the present day. He reveals that secret that is more closely guarded than the H-bomb itself: the Cold War is one nobody can win. Unfortunately, he does not analyse Russia’s difficulties in detail. He gives the impression that no basic changes have taken place in the Kremlin; Lenin, Stalin and Krushchev presumably reacted in the same automatic way to the vagaries of Western policy.
However, he marshals a tremendous amount of American material – including quotations from the Knickerbocker Weekly – to show that ‘the saviour of the free world’ is well on the way to getting herself crucified. He says:
‘That the coming era will not be “The American Century” seems to be already decided. There was a considerable amount of talk about that in 1945, but this dream has been dissipated by the Cold War and its corollaries: world-wide alarm over our belligerence; fear of world annihilation; aversion to our alliances with dying regimes abroad; alarm at our economic expansion into many countries; distrust of our almost complete identification of private enterprise with freedom; and our shocking exhibition in ourselves and in freedom at home’.
On contemporary issues, such as Berlin, Professor Fleming has many illuminating things to say. He points out that capital and labour have drifted out of Berlin because there is no future there. Little industrial development is taking place and young workers are choosing to live elsewhere where there is greater security: Berliners themselves are not prepared to defend the city to ‘the inconvenience’ – let alone the death.
These two volumes are to be recommended. Fleming’s understanding of Russia may be incomplete and fragmentary, but his analysis of American foreign policy is devastating. All socialists should read it.
Last updated: 25 February 2010