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Notes of the Month

The Fourth Year of the War

(September 1942)

From The New International, Vol. VIII No. 8, September 1942, pp. 227–228.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan.

Three years of World War II have already been fought. No decisive victory has yet been won by either o£ the two camps in the struggle. While it is true that the German armies have swept deeper into the wide areas of the Soviet Union and now fight in the environs of Stalingrad, their battle victories, important as they are, have not brought the fascist hordes to the end of the war. The Russian armies, with their seemingly inexhaustible manpower, fight on through constant retreat as the war approaches its second winter in that sector.

In the Pacific and the Far East, the Japanese have also won military victories. Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, New Guinea, Burma – they have served to stretch the battle and supply lines over enormous territories and tremendous seas, but they have drawn Japan deeper into the war without any prospect of a conclusive triumph over the United Nations in these areas.

The great powers in Europe now face the fourth year of the war and the bloody carnage seems endless to the peoples of the Old World. But for the United States, the war is only beginning. Everything is still in the state of preparation. It is true, there have been some important engagements involving American forces, naval, land and air, but no one will claim that the United States is fully engaged, nor ready to be so engaged. The rapidly expanding navy, air and army forces point to an impending mass use of American forces to turn the tide of a war which is universally acknowledged to be still going in favor of the Axis. American economy has not yet been completely converted into a war economy. The movement in that direction gains momentum every day, but it does so in fits and starts, with great inner stress, yet slowly but surely the American ruling class, profiting mightily from war production, is gaining mastery over the working class with the aid of the New Dealers and the labor skates, in order to complete a war economy which is dependent upon a veritable enslavement of the proletariat.

For Americans, the war is less than a year old and everyone understands that this is only the beginning. No one knows how long this war will last – two, four, seven or ten years. How large an army the United States will need in this war is also a subject of conjecture. Those presumably in the know have made estimates of anywhere from seven to fifteen million men. Nobody really knows. But one thing is certain, even in the opinion of the leading bourgeois authorities, the war will be a long one, its destructive effects incalculable, its casualties enormous. One admiral estimated at least five million American casualties! If this is a reasonable assumption, and we believe it is, the world magnitude of this bloody carnage becomes somewhat clearer. In the First World War there were ten million dead and twenty million wounded over a period of four years, confined to the area of Europe. The global character of a mechanized Second World War, the infinitely larger forces engaged in battle, holds out greater fears – there should be at least three times the number of casualties! If anyone doubts this possibility, he need only turn to Europe, where an excellent beginning has been made in military and civilian casualties.

If the prospect for Americans is a seven year war (or ten), what of those nations which have been at war for three years already? For them a ten or thirteen or fifteen year war is in the offing!

That the present war is merely the continuation of the imperialist slaughter of 1914 is verified by the manner in which it is fought, i.e., its purely military character. The objectives for which the war is fought are crystal clear: colonial hegemony, world market control, cheap labor supply, profits and enslavement of the world masses to capital. The dispute is over who shall prevail. Shall it be Germany, as the dominant power of the Axis, or the United States, as the dominant power of the Allies? This is the essential explanation for the inability of the United Nations to wage an ideological war against the Axis.

Allied war aims, given expression through the Roosevelt-Churchill Four Freedoms, have had no effect upon the peoples of the world. Every concrete act of the United Nations has served to convince them that the Four Freedoms is merely verbiage. Nothing has really changed. Colonial enslavement remains a paramount aim of the United Nations (re-establishment of the lost empires); economic, political and social supremacy of the white race. Any tendency that would lead to a weakening or destruction of the principles of private property, profit and the right to exploitation is resisted by the combined might of the capitalist classes in all bourgeois nations. The growth in profits of the bourgeoisie, the lowering living standards of the masses, the treatment of racial and national minorities (India, Negroes, etc.) are only the concrete manifestations of this imperialist war. The apologists for imperialism are running out of explanations for the patent failure of the United Nations to make out a better case for themselves. The only difference between the two camps in the war are the political regimes in some of the contesting powers. In a number of instances the régimes are identically or similarly totalitarian (Greece, Soviet Union, Brazil, China, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Hungary, Germany, etc.) But even in the genuinely bourgeois democratic nations, the prevailing historical tendency is toward totalitarianism, toward an economic and political consolidation of the rule of finance capital.

It is with this understanding that the Workers Party declared in March of this year that: “Neither side is capable of winning the war by destroying the enemy politically, that is, by conducting such a political campaign as would result in undermining the social foundations of the enemy’s régime or in depriving it of social support to such an extent as to make further military struggle futile. There remains to both of them only physical struggle as the means by which the war can be won, that is, by continued economic pressure (blockade) and by direct military combat.”

The prospects for world humanity, under such conditions, are bleak indeed. It has become more dear than ever that there is only one hope for all of mankind, in the advanced countries as well as in the colonial, in the United Nations as in the Axis dominated countries, and that is socialism, sweeping away the bankrupt, destructive and reactionary social order of capitalism.

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