From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 28, 14 July 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The position of the Political Committee on the Russo-German war is a grave theoretical blunder. Attempts on the part of those who do NOT consider Russia a capitalist state to justify a policy of defeatism will do incalculable harm to the Marxist principles of our movement – certainly as much harm as those who make no distinction between Russian collectivism and capitalism. While its immediate consequences will not be catastrophic – in the sense of immediately driving our activity from its revolutionary rails – its eventual effect, if not corrected, will destroy the theoretical foundations of our movement.
If Russia is a state that has been closed to finance imperialism and if a German victory will turn it into an economic colony of German imperialism, and if defeatism can be justified only by Russia’s military relations with Anglo-American imperialism, then an entirely new concept of the strategy of the world revolution, as related to the struggle against imperialism will have to be developed. Already a local supporter of the PC is questioning the validity of further defensism in China. The inconsistency of defensism in China and defeatism in Russia will also prove too much for the PC. I can only hope that it is the stand on Russia that will be reversed.
The contradiction between the view that an imperialist conquest of Russia will mean a new lease on life for imperialism, on the one hand, and defeatism in the present war on the other, will drive more and more people to seek refuge in the theory that Russia is a capitalist state in the last stages of decay – i.e., fascist. Though its premise is false, its conclusions, at least, coincide.
The position of Shachtman is in every sense as untenable as the position of Trotsky when he denounced the invasion of Finland as a “blow at the world revolution” but called the war progressive.
I have submitted a lengthy exposition of my arguments for a revolutionary defensist policy for publication in The New International. I ask that every serious comrade thoroughly examine the new developments and realize all their implications before taking a definite position.
Last updated: 5.1.2013