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Albert Goldman

Where We Stand

(19 April 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 16, 19 April 1941, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Stalinist “Peace” Movement

If there is anything that is more difficult to struggle against than confusion it is consciously-created confusion. To argue with a. person who says that peace is something attainable by men of good will is a task requiring the utmost patience, at times leading to complete nervous exhaustion. But to argue with people who consciously confuse issues in order to conceal their real designs and to confuse the innocent is well-nigh impossible.

And conscious confusion constitutes the essence of the program for peace promulgated by the Stalinist-led American Peace Mobilization.

The Stalinists are far from being pacifists but they understand that many in the ranks of those who are anti-war are pacifists and they are perfectly willing to give a pacifist tinge to their anti-war program in order to gain support from innocent pacifists. The A.P.M. program has a strong isolationist tinge. The people who drafted that program are not isolationists but they know that much of the anti-war sentiment is based on isolationism and they do not hesitate to give an isolationist color to their anti-war program. Nowhere and at, no time has a movement based itself on so much deceit as the Stalinist movement.

It must be understood that we are not talking about the thousands of sincere people who believe in the program of the A.P.M., but of those who consciously pull the strings and are the prime movers in the formulation of the program. Sincere pacifists could write a program which would be nothing but confusion; the same is true of sincere isolationists. But only Stalinist bureaucrats are capable of writing an anti-war program designed to confuse.

* * *

“We must secure a foreign policy freed from imperialist aims” is part of the A.P.M. “plan to get out of the war.” Is there any indication as to what kind of a government will follow a policy freed from imperialist aims or how such a government can be secured? That is a matter left to the imagination of the reader.

It is only those who have read Lenin’s pamphlet on Imperialism who understand that imperialism is not a policy followed by a government composed of bad people. It is a stage in the development of capitalism and every government of an imperialist country necessarily follows an imperialist policy.

For a government to follow a non-imperialist policy, it must be a government placed in power by the working masses for the purpose of destroying the capitalist system which is the basis of imperialism.

It is only those who have read and follow Lenin and those who are interested in telling the truth to workers who would make clear the necessity of destroying the capitalist system in order “to secure a foreign policy freed from imperialist aims.”

Ignores the Nature of Capitalist War

What is true of this particular aspect of the APM program is true of the whole program. There is not a single suggestion in it that the war now raging is a product of the capitalist system and that to fight against the war it is necessary to mobilize the working masses for the purpose of destroying that system. The program is pacifist, that is, it is not based on the concept of carrying on a revolutionary struggle against war.

In and by themselves the proposals advanced in the program may be perfectly acceptable. To get out and stay out of the world war; to defend and improve the American standard of living; to regain and strengthen our constitutional liberties etc., are not objectionable demands. But the program definitely creates the impression that all that is necessary for the American people to do is to ignore the war that is going on, stick to our own country and everything will turn out for the best. A strictly isolationist position with a pacifist tinge. Surely Norman Thomas should be invited to become president of the organization. But Norman Thomas is a pacifist who knows that the Stalinists are not pacifists. He is not an innocent, and the Stalinists, must have real innocents who, because they are fooled, thereby are in a better position to fool others. The Rev. John Thompson, national chairman of the A.P.M. is a better person to head the organization than Norman Thomas.

Not A Word About Fascism!

In the program itself, as printed in the Daily Worker of April 7, there is nothing to indicate that fascism exists in the world and constitutes a danger to the workers everywhere. Is that because the Stalinists are still following the policy of the early period of the war when they left Hitler alone and concentrated their attacks on British imperialism? That cannot be because in their press and manifestoes the Stalinists now openly attack both imperialist camps, indicating thereby Stalin’s fear of Hitler and the possibility of a shift to the democratic imperialist camp.

The real reason seems to be that the Stalinists are at the present moment, because Stalin is not yet ready to throw in his lot with the democratic imperialist, unable to give a proper answer to the problem raised by every thinking worker as to how to fight the danger represented by Hitler. There are only two ways of fighting Hitler. Either one accepts the idea of fighting him under the leadership of Churchill and Roosevelt representing the imperialist interests of the capitalist class, or of turning the war into a real struggle against fascism by the workers taking power. The Stalinists are not yet ready to accept the leadership of the democratic imperialists and they are certainly fearful of a revolutionary solution to the problem of the struggle against Hitler.

Thus does the Peoples Front continue to sow confusion in the ranks of the workers. For it must be remembered that the Peoples Front still exists. It has simply changed its policies. Whereas before Stalin’s pact with Hitler it advocated the policy of uniting the democracies with the Soviet Union for war against Hitler, it now advocates a policy of uniting with the Soviet Union for a “people’s peace.” Stalin is anxious for peace. If Hitler will not give it to him we shall witness another change of policy on the part of the Peoples Front.

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