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Albert Gates

Invasion: New Stage in the War

(12 June 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 24, 12 June 1944, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The long-heralded invasion of the German-occupied continent of Europe by the Allied armies began on June 5. Combined American, British and Canadian forces, on land, sea and air, opened their assault in the early hours of the morning on the northwestern coast of France between the harbors of Cherbourg and Le Havre. Early reports indicate that the first landings were successfully executed and that the Allied armies are seeking to spread out fanwise along other coastal defenses and to penetrate deep into the heart of France along the Seine valley leading to Paris.

The governmental and military leaders of the Allied countries are cautious in their early statements. They know, of course, that the real struggle lies ahead of them; that the tests will come when the German armies begin their own counter-offensives. The initial landings may or may not be main points of operations. It is clear that if the Allies meet feeble resistance and can advance at will, this area will become the main point of invasion. But there are likely to be other important invasion areas and feints to confuse the German defense.

A great deal of the struggle depends upon the initial speed with which the Allied armies take advantage of the present landings to widen and deepen their penetration of the German defenses. But the important observers are, we believe, quite correct in forecasting a long and difficult military struggle. We are in no position to make any startling forecasts about the military prospects of the present fight. The past almost five years of warfare has shown how tricky a business that is. The line of broken-down military experts is indeed long and there is hardly a single one of them that has not at least one prognostication to live down. But it is easy to see that the present invasion marks a new stage in the war, perhaps a final stage in the conflict in the European theater.

Political Aspects of War

As we have maintained from the very beginning of the conflict, the military aspects of the war are, in the last analysis, subordinate to the political. The question of war aims is indissolubly interlinked with the actual military conflict. What really stands out in the whole situation, although it is now overshadowed by the immensity of the invasion itself, is that while the military situation for the Allies has improved, their political relations have deteriorated. The basis for this political deterioration is due not merely to fundamental differences in aims, but to a fundamental weakness of all the capitalist powers, including the non-capitalist Russian power, to wage a war for genuine national liberation and true social, political and economic freedom.

The European continent today is occupied by German fascism. Fascism is the modern form of capitalist barbarism. It is the profit system based upon the destruction of the working class movements, the violation of all democratic rights for impoverished classes, the perpetuation of the profit system and the well-being of big business at the expense of all other sections of the population.

To effect its rule, German fascism has built its power on the flesh and blood of the masses of Europe and upon a propaganda system made to order for them by the other capitalist nations of the world.

Hitler came to power in Germany as a result of many factors: the infamous Versailles Treaty, which made it impossible for a capitalist Germany to surmount its economic difficulties; the refusal of the Anglo-French dominated League of Nations to accommodate the Weimar Republic; the monopoly of world markets, raw materials and colonies by the other powers; the betrayals of the working class political organizations (Social-Democratic and Communist); and the political, organizational and financial assistance given the Brown Shirts by German big business and the big capitalists of England, France and the United States.

In the opening days of the war, the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms devised by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill were believed to be political weapons against fascism. For, in the early days, the mobilization of the peoples for this war could not be effected except through picturing the war as a conflict with fascism, the aim of Which conflict was to destroy fascism throughout the world.

When the military situation was indeed difficult for the Allies, the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms were constantly referred to as a means of rallying mass enthusiasm for the war. But with each improvement of the Allied military situation, the references to the “doctrines” of the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms became more and more infrequent; until at present they are hardly mentioned at all.

Fighting For Status Quo

The closer the Allies come to victory, the more is it revealed by the leading powers that they are, at one and the same time, fighting for a return to the miserable European and world pre-war status quo which led to the outbreak of the present war; a three or four-power domination of the world, a maintenance and bolstering of the rotten regimes which existed in Europe and which are now propped up by the Allied powers, and against any important social and political change which the masses of Europe desire and are, in actuality, fighting for.

Political policies of the Allies have been grist to Goebbels’ propaganda mill. Every time some Allied leader makes a pronouncement on what to do with Germany after the war, he only gives the fascist beasts a grip on life, a means by which to keep the German soldiers fighting and the masses working.

Vansittartism, the program for the annihilation of the German people, is the real aim of many of the Allied governments! Each time one of the adherents of the Vansisstartist theory speaks, the German fascists merely make a holiday of their remarks. Goebbels says to the Germans: Will you give up now to become slaves and worse, or will you fight on to the last to prevent it?

When Russia announces that it will take 10,000,000 Germans to Russia as slave labor, Goebbels merely repeats the announcement, certain that it will galvanize the nation to continue the hopeless struggle.

When Allied spokesmen announce plans for the dismemberment and occupation of the country, the fascist scoundrels repeat the plans. It is any wonder, then, that the barbarous Nazi regime is able to continue the war?

All they have to do is to quote Churchill’s speeches to the effect that the Atlantic Charter applies only to the Allies (and only to the big powers, to boot), that the British Empire means to hold its own; all they have to do is show the deals in North Africa with Darlan, the relations to Franco in Spain, to Vichy in France, in order to convince every last person in Germany that it is not a war against fascism, an ideological war, but simply a fight between the powers for control of the world and the defeat of Germany’s economic and military power, and, finally, dismemberment of the country.

No Progressive Program

The biggest weakness of the Allies is their inability to advance and fight for progressive programs and ideas.

There is as yet no definitive idea of what to do about Germany, except to destroy the country and its people.

There is no agreement about relations to the de Gaullist movement.

There is no agreement on what to do with Poland.

There is no agreement about how much Stalin is to get out of the war; what will be England’s share, or America’s.

But there is agreement between all of them to prevent the masses of Europe, the courageous and militant national revolutionary movements composed of active workers and peasants, from getting “out of hand,” to keep the masses from asserting their will in this situation. There is agreement between them on the necessity of preventing the workers of Europe from bringing about any social change leading, to an improvement on the conditions of the people on the continent.

While Roosevelt is silent a good deal of the time, he has made his attitude clear by his sharp antipathy to de Gaulle. Behind this antipathy is the fear that the French masses will be uncontrollable by de Gaulle or anyone else and that they may set up their own regime leading to a revolutionary political change in the country.

The Italian Lesson

This policy has been completely demonstrated in Italy, where no important steps were taken to permit the intervention of the Italian people in deciding their own fate, their own regime, their own social order.

Every report from Italy, every important observation made on that country, records that the Italian people want a change from the old order, they want an end to the monarchy, they want genuine freedom, immediate elections, free speech, free press, right to organize, a constituent assembly. But the steady liberation of the country from German military control has not led to a corresponding social political and economic liberation of the people.

Tory England is fighting to keep the corrupt, venal and fascist monarchy on the throne in Italy and to prevent any social change in the country. This policy is supported by Russia and the United States.

While America does not see eye to eye with Churchill on Spam, Churchill nevertheless announces, to the dismay of the liberals of the world and particularly of the Spanish people, who hate Franco, his support of that butcher. To balance off Franco, he also support the Stalinist Tito. He is able to do this because he has no fear that the Communists in Europe will do anything to change the face of Europe. Stalin has guaranteed that In addition, Churchill wants to keep in power in Greece the miserable monarchy of King George which England helped to foist on the Greek people, who want no part of the imported Rex from Denmark to rule over them.

On the other hand, Churchill supports de Gaulle. The reason behind this is England’s determination not to be cut off the continent by the United States or Russia, a determination to continue its old policy of a balance of power in Europe.

Stalin means to gobble up a great part of Poland. He already has the Baltic states and seeks control over the Balkans.

Thus Allied political policy is a bad edition of the policy of the Allies following the First Imperialist World War, it is power politics of the worst kind which can only guarantee a Third World War.

They Fear the Masses

We have often said that, if the Allies seriously meant to apply the principles of the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms, Hitler could not last in Europe. If the Allies separated the peoples of Europe from their murderous regimes, if they showed that they understand there is a difference between the fascist rulers and their subjected people they could unleash a wave of revolutionary struggle in Europe that would bring the war to a speedy close and a lasting defeat of fascism. But it is apparent that the Allies fear a revolutionary upsurge in Europe as much as Hitler does, They fear that such a revolutionary upsurge would bring about a real social and political change that would end the system of exploitation, poverty and war for all time. This is why they cannot really promote the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms. They are afraid of their own people, too.

But the European masses will not be downed. They have given unmistakable signs of movement. Their hatred of fascism is too intense to be stayed. Their hatred of unemployment, poverty and war is too great to be stemmed. They want a new life, they want genuine freedom, they want real security and peace. And they will fight for it. In fighting for these ideals, they will be fighting for the peoples of the whole world, for the peoples of Asia, of South America, of North America, of Africa.

The American workers, the great masses of our country, could do no greater service to themselves than support the peoples of Europe in their fight for freedom. The fight of the European masses, the European workers and peasants, is the fight of every American worker, poor farmer and oppressed and poor lower middle class.

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