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James M. Fenwick

Off Limits

Why We Fought

(4 February 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. X No. 5, 4 February 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.




The United States has seized and plans to hold through outright control or through “trusteeship” numerous islands in the Pacific. The United States and England occupy large parts of Germany. Russia has seized Esthonia, Lithuania, Latvia, part of Poland and extensive areas in the Orient. She occupies or basically controls parts of Austria, Rumania, Bulgaria and Germany. She has raised the demand for the control of Tripolitania. France demands Briga and Tenda from Italy. She likewise occupies part of Germany. The United States, England, France and Holland are busy reconquering colonial countries wrested from them by the Japanese. An additional, if less obvious, form of aggrandizement is the economic domination of almost all the countries of the globe except Russia by the United States dollar.

FIRST: Their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other.

SECOND: They desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned.

One-half of Poland, over the violation of whose sovereignty by the Nazis in 1939 Britain declared war on Germany, has been seized by Russia without the consent of the people involved. Part of Germany has been forcibly given to Poland. The rest of Germany and Austria has been partitioned among the United States, Britain, France and Russia – without consultation of the people involved. Bulgaria and Rumania are ruled through “the freely expressed wishes of the NKVD and the Russian army. The colonial peoples of India, Indochina, Indonesia and Palestine are ruthlessly shot down by the imperialists who “desire to see no territorial changes.” The Japanese Empire suffered extensive territorial changes, over which its population had no voice.

THIRD: They respect the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.

What resonant phrases! What a brutal reality! Britain continues her bloody armed intervention in Greece against the continuously expressed opposition of the overwhelming majority of the people. For their crime of desiring to govern themselves, Britain slaughters Indonesians behind a screen of British censorship. Indians, who demonstrate because they wish “to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them” (by the British) are casually shot down. France, completely equipped with American arms, has been coldbloodedly destroying the Indo-Chinese independence movement.

The United States occupies and politically dominates the Philippines and part of Korea, despite the often expressed will of the native populations. Chinese demonstrate for the withdrawal of American troops. Russia militarily add politically dominates huge areas in the Far East and in eastern Europe. Though the political rule of Hitler has been overthrown, Germany is not permitted to govern herself.

FOURTH: They will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all states, great or small, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world

This means, on the one hand, the right of all imperialist nations to exploit the great raw material producing countries of the world such as India, Indochina, Indonesia, etc., who are now opposing this “enjoyment” by armed force. On the other hand, it means that a country like Germany, whose merchant fleet has been destroyed, whose country is a catastrophic ruin, has the right of “access on equal terms to the trade and raw materials! of the world.” That is pure hypocrisy. The war was fought for the subjugation of competing imperialisms such as Germany and Japan, and the right of “Allied” imperialisms to exploit the colonial areas of the world.

FIFTH: They desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security.

Translated into non-diplomatic language, this “fullest collaboration” is the same type of collaboration that exists between the hangman and the hanged. The “economic advancement” of Germany is furthered by the pillage of machinery, destruction of plants, limitation of production, and appropriation of coal. “Allied” countries are permitted to exist on even a low level thanks only to huge American loans. Colonies of Great Britain are prohibited by law from having independent trade relations with other countries. Everywhere, tariff barriers impede free trade. Where countries could theoretically engage in trade, the war has so weakened their economy, destroyed their shipping and prevented the accumulation of an excess, that trade stagnates.

SIXTH: After the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.

Peace! “After the final destruction of Nazi tyranny” fighting rages in Indonesia, Indodhina, China, India and Palestine. Even before World War II was over, the monarchs of capitalism began their hopeful whispering of a World War III against Russia. Freedom from fear! And the whole world quakes before the atomic bomb, knowing that capitalism, completely irresponsible, and caught up in its own contradictions, will hardly hesitate to destroy the globe itself. Freedom from want! The Nazi tyranny is dead, and in Europe and the Orient whole populations, where they are not barely subsisting, are starving and freezing. Life has coasted almost to a stop.

SEVENTH: Such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance.

“Such a peace” is proving almost unendurable. Who may “traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance”? Only the United States, British, French and Dutch armies of occupation being sent out to hold down all the colonial peoples of the globe and the defeated populations of Germany and Japan. (The freedom for these soldiers to return home is more limited!) Only the vultures of the foreign offices of the world, busy weaving the oppression of other peoples, only the inquisitors of world capitalism, tightening the screws of economic plunder everywhere – only these are free to travel. But the Jews – those who are still alive – and the other oppressed people of Europe who wish to flee the agony of life on the continent – where is their freedom “to traverse the high seas”?

EIGHTH: They believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force ... They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.

“The abandonment of the use of force” proceeds in normal capitalist fashion – that is to say, by the continuing application of it. Demobilization in the United States and England moves slowly. In France it does not move at all. Feverish scientific research in armaments continues. As steps “to lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burdens of armaments,” the War Department plans a 1,500,000 man army by mid-year, and Truman advocates peacetime compulsory military training. Every session of the United Nations Organization becomes a tug of war over the atomic bomb, colonies, sources of raw materials, and military bases. The complete destruction of civilization is being prepared!



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