Glotzer Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Sam Adams

What They Fought For

U.S. and British Imperialism at Work in Asia


(17 September 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 38, 17 September1945, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The announcement by Lieut Gen. John R. Hodge, commander of the American occupation forces for Southern Korea, that he will administer that part of the nation through existing Japanese officials, has aroused the widest protests by the Korean nationalist organizations. An additional statement that these Japanese officials will merely carry out directives of the United States has not served to lessen the protests.

Recent news dispatches have revealed that the heroic Koreans’ hatred of Japanese imperialism was such that they revolted and seized the factories. Thousands were jailed by the Japanese officials who quelled the revolt. Now, these same officials who only yesterday ordered shooting at a demonstration of Koreans who thought they were really liberated and came to welcome American occupation troops, are to administer American policy.

The New York Times reports that:

“... the General said that Korea’s desire for immediate independence could not be granted. It is necessary, he said, to maintain the Japanese administrative officials, from Governor General Noboyuki Abe on down, to prevent the chaos that probably would result if they were summarily ousted.”

No Independence

This is the language of imperialism. One of its arguments is that independence cannot now be granted because there exists more than one organization fighting for independence, three to be specific, each desiring a major part of a Korean government. It does not occur to the American imperialists that an immediate election in Korea could easily settle this question.

The American action, however, is typical of the policy of all the powers in the United Nations who fought this war shouting the slogans of the Four Freedoms which they never meant and never honored. The “liberation” brought to Europe by victorious Allied arms has yet to be achieved. The continent was divided into “zones” and “spheres of influence.” After six years of bloody war, the real independence of Europe has still to be fought for.

It is no different in the Far East. Korea is a good example, but it is not the only one. This nation of more than 22,000,000 people has long been coveted and subjected by imperialism. Domination of Korea was one of the reasons for the Russo-Japanese war of 1904–05. The victory of Japan gave her dominant influence over the country. In 1910, Korea was annexed by Japan and since then has been ruled in a ruthless and bloody manner by Japanese imperialists.

For more than forty years the independence movements of Korea have fought valiantly for their country’s freedom. This time they believed that a Big Three victory over Japan would result in immediate and unquestioned independence. The announcement of American policy by Lieut. Gen. Hodge was a sharp blow to the aspirations of the Korean people, but it revealed the essentially imperialist policy of the American ruling class whose general program for Japan is to keep in power the feudal-capitalist ruling class over the bent backs of the heavily exploited Japanese people.

Fear of Revolution

This fear of revolution in the colonial world is what dictates American as well as British and Russian policy in the Far East. Genuine independence of colonial peoples in the Far East runs counter to the aims of Allied imperialism which is now busily engaged individing amongst themselves the possessions of defeated Japanese imperialism.

Imagine! The Koreans cannot have their independence and right to rule themselves because “chaos” might ensue. The imperialist rule by the gun and bomb is not chaos. The imperialist exploitation of the colonial people for super-profits is not chaos.The imperialist policy of keeping the colonial world hungry, poverty-stricken, illiterate and backward is not chaos. Only the independence of these peoples and their own governments would create chaos!

Think back, American workers, and remember all the things that were said about Japanese people – not their brutal capitalist rulers – but the people,. Think back about what our own imperialists said about the aims in this war and square them with the present action in Korea.

American labor, the whole people, must answer this slur on the Korean people, this policy of collaboration with the Japanese militarists and capitalist rulers by demanding:

Immediate Independence for Korea!

For the Right of the Korean People to Rule Themselves!

For a Free and Independent Asia!


The Military Mind at Work

“We are trying to get Korean police,” said General John R. Hodge, commander of the American forces occupying Korea, “but they are not as effective as the Japanese. They are too excited to get much work out of, and we will have to wait until they calm down ...

“There’s political chaos here. The new parties have no central theme except desire for immediate independence and to get hold of Japanese property ...

“The trouble is that the Koreans thought they were independent as of August 15 ...

“They had better get busy on their homework or I’ll crack some heads together.” – Herald Tribune, Wednesday, September 12.

Imagine wanting freedom and independence after chafing for forty years under Japanese rule! Imagine Koreans wanting to claim the Japanese-run industrial properties which exploited them all that time! Imagine wanting a goyernment of their own instead of Japanese imperialist rulers!

What do they think the war was fought for, anyway – democracy?


Hong Kong

Top of page

Labor Action 1945 Index | Writers’ Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 15 December 2017