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Reva Craine

World Politics

(26 February 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 9, 26 February 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Struggle in Belgium

A recent editorial in Le Peuple (Belgian socialist paper) declared that while “the big democracies may well be victorious on the fields of battle, the reign of democracy is by no means assured in our country ... one realizes more clearly each week that the war has left capitalism intact in our country. Let us have no illusions.”

The editorial goes on to warn that the enemies of democracy and social reform inside Belgium are not attacking openly, but that they continue their anti-labor and anti-democratic activities in more subtle ways.

“They do not contest the rights of the public powers in matters of national economy. They merely prevent them from exercising them.

“They do not revolt against the social laws, but they set about sabotaging the financing of them.

“They do not talk about the new order any more, but they are already beginning to attack what was good in the old order for fear of the radical reform which the country is demanding ...

“Until the day when the lessons of this war have been obliterated by cunning and confusing propaganda, these same people will consider themselves Strong enough – with the support of all those who have escaped from an inadequate purge – to settle their accounts with democracy. Fascism is dead, but the fascist mentality still exists; it is biding its time ...

“We shall see organs of national union, with no political label, springing up. They will show a fine contempt for all political parties and will publish malicious rumors about all the left wing men. They will address their remarks principally to the middle classes, flattering their prejudices and stirring up their discontent. They will defend the sacred rights of property, the collaboration of classes, order and authority. If need be they will set the country against the government. They will never mention banks or trusts. The money which is going to support them will not have been paid in vain.”

Such is the warning of the Belgian Socialist Party against the danger of a resurgence of fascism in that country, unless drastic action is taken against the benefactors of fascism, the trusts and the banks and the entire capitalist class.

On February 10, only a few weeks after this warning was sounded, a new government was formed in Belgium to replace the one that Pierlot could no longer hold together. This “unity government” is built around the four major political parties, the Socialists, Liberals, Catholics and Communists, and is headed by Achille van Acker, a so-called Socialist.

Three days later the new Premier outlined his government’s policy in a very brief speech. This is how he dealt with the major problems facing the country:

UNEMPLOYMENT: Everybody in Belgium wants to work he said. Unemployment will be solved by the conscription of labor.

THE COAL SHORTAGE: “The output of coal must be increased and it will be.” METHOD: Recruitment of workers, required for the coal mines.

The recovery of Belgian industry depends on the cooperation, loyal cooperation at that, of the industrialists, declared the “socialist” Premier.

Having undertaken to head a capitalist government, the “socialist” van Acker must carry out capitalist politics. That is why no mention is made of the trusts and the banks, no attack leveled on capitalism. As for the collaborators and those of “fascist mentality,” the purge is to be eased even more. The government intends to release many of those now imprisoned and to make it easier for those retained to be let off easy. All the vigor of the new regime is to be reserved against the working class, for van Acker does not intend to tolerate for a minute demonstrations like those which occurred last November, parades, riots or strike’s.

While in words the Belgian socialists recognize the danger of fascism, they are powerless to to anything effective to stop its advent because they are in practice collaborating with the supporters and beneficiaries of fascism, the capitalist class. in this, they are once again repeating the policy which has paved the way for fascism.

* * *

Situation of Greek Seamen

(ITF) The leaders of the Federation of Greek Maritime Unions, who are preparing to return to Greece, report in their journal:

“The question of unemployment is already very acute for Greek seamen owing to the fact that our shipping has sustained great losses which so far have not been replaced. The reconstruction of our merchant fleet alone will be the means of absorbing all unemployed seamen. In addition, the reconstruction of shipping is most essential for our national economy, since it constitutes one of the main resources of the country’s finances. The transfer of the various insurance funds for the benefit of our seamen in Greece and the families of those abroad who have been impoverished during the occupation. The conclusion too of the collective agreement is long overdue, having been postponed so far by the shipowners, with the clear purpose of taking advantage of the poverty and numbers of the seamen at home, and using them as cheap labor.”

This confirms what we have long contended – namely, that the owners of the means of production in all countries, be they shipowners, factory owners, mine owners, land owners are alike in their attitude toward the workers and their organizations. The alleviation of such conditions is one of the things that the Greek people were fighting for.

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