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Albert Gates

New International in Letter to The Nation
on War Position

(April 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 15, 12 April 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dear Editor:

Your readers will doubtless be interested in the following letter which I have sent to The Nation.


Albert Gates,
The New International

Dear Sirs:

In the March 21 issue of The Nation there appeared a letter from Dwight Macdonald regarding the Stalinist attack on left-wing refugees in Mexico, and a reply by the editors. It goes without saying that we agree completely with Macdonald’s letter. We regard the Stalinist attack on these anti-fascist fighters as only another instance of GPU methods in dealing with political opponents within the general working class political movement. I was, therefore, happy to read that you rejected the Stalinist charges against Serge, Regler, Muniz, Gorkin and Pivert.

In reply to the specific question which Mr. Macdonald asked you, i.e., whether one becomes a tool of fascism “if one opposes the present conduct of the war as imperialistic,” you have made a questionable distinction between a tool and an agent. You say that opposition to the present war on any ground whatever, makes one a tool of fascism – but you add “a tool is not an agent.” The distinction you make is too fine to involve a fundamental difference. The reason the distinction is made in the first place, is because The Nation would like to distinguish between fascist opponents of the war and the position of international socialists, who are opposed to all imperialist war. Otherwise, the distinction would not be necessary. But on the same grounds as The Nation rests its case. Hitler would say that an international socialist is an agent of Roosevelt or Churchill.

I write this letter to you, however, to sharply dissent from your basic point of view. Revolutionary socialists are, above all, internationalists. Surely The Nation knows that our opposition to this war as imperialist obtains from our opposition to world capitalism and from the conviction that there is no hope for humanity, not only in the United States, but in the whole world, so long as capitalism, that is to say, imperialism, continues to exist. The fact that three totalitarian states are in alliance against two capitalist-democratic states, one totalitarian state, one military dictatorship, etc., cannot fundamentally alter the point of view of international socialism that this very war and the alliances could not exist except under the social order of capitalism.

Socialism, as the editors of The Nation well know, seeks to eradicate the basic causes for war, unemployment, poverty and fascism, which it knows are the products of capitalism. No matter what the outcome of the war no matter who wins, on the continued existence of capitalism, none of these phenomena will be abolished. The Nation proceeds in its thinking obviously on the theory of the lesser evil. That British or American imperialism, or Stalinism, now that it is no longer in alliance with Hitler, is a lesser evil in comparison with Hitler.

As a revolutionary socialist and an ardent anti-fascist, I am only too well acquainted with the barbarism of fascism and the imperialist aims of Hitler and Co. But I, together with thousands of other international socialists, sought to prevent the victory of Hitler in Germany long before he came to power, at a time when the German Social Democracy and the German Stalinist Party refused to unite in a common struggle against the scourge, when the democratic-imperialists did everything in their power to aid and rearm Hitler. One of the most powerful “ideas” making certain this victory of Hitler was that of the lesser evil (Bruening is a lesser evil as compared to Hitler; Dolfuss is a lesser evil as compared to the Nazis). This theory destroyed the resistive powers of the German and Austrian working class. International socialists oppose this theory because it insures the continued existence of the social order which breeds and brings to power the fascist political system. I emphasize “political system” because Germany, Italy and Japan remain capitalist-imperialist nations. International socialists are for socialism, not only in the United States, or Great Britain. We are for world socialism as the only way to abolish all the evils of modern class society. Whether this war ends in a stalemate or whether the United Nations win, the crucial social problems which prevailed prior to the outbreak of the war and which continue to prevail in the very midst of the war, will remain only to bring about conditions for a new war. That is why we stand for socialism now and that is why we dissent so vigorously from your editorial comment, to wit, that a socialist opposition to the war makes one a “tool of Hitler.”

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