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Albert Goldman

Stalinists, Socialists Conduct
Sham Fight Against Monarchy

(30 June 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 26, 30 June 1945, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In Belgium we now have another example of the miserable role which the leaders of the Socialist and Stalinist parties play in the struggle for such an important immediate demand as the abolition of the monarchy. In Italy the Socialist and Stalinist leaders claim to be fighting for a democratic republic but do not find it inconsistent to take an oath, as a condition to being permitted to accept a post in the government, not to raise the institutional question (the question of the monarchy) before the meeting of a constituent assembly.

By taking an oath not to raise the question of the monarchy, Nenni and Togliatti, leaders respectively of the Italian Socialist and Stalinist parties, afford the monarchy an opportunity to mobilize all possible support. No one knows when the constituent assembly will meet and it can be taken for granted that the forces in favor of the monarchy will prevail upon the British and American governments to postpone the calling of such an assembly to enable the monarchy to gain additional support.

In Belgium, the Socialist premier, Achille van Acker has recently resigned because King Leopold announced that it is his intention to return to Belgium in his role as king. We must assume that the leaders of the Socialist Party are responsible for van Acker’s decision to resign. We must also assume, since there has been no report to the contrary, that the Stalinist Party supports the Socialist Party in this maneuver.

Why resign? This is the question every militant worker of Belgium must be asking himself. Since van Acker is the head of the government, why does he not announce that Leopold will not be permitted to cross the Belgian border? The government is strong enough to prevent the entry of any undesirable individual. The masses consider Leopold such an individual and the Socialist and Stalinist leaders claim to have the same opinion of Leopold.

Leopold is not coming with a huge army to force his entry into Belgium. As far as we know he has simply stated that he intends to come to Belgium with his family and a few supporters, by plane or train. What is there to prevent the government from appointing a few dozen workers as police officers to invite Leopold, when he appears at the border, to return where he came from? And if van Acker requires more than a few policemen he can surely obtain the help of thousands of Belgium militant workers.

It may be argued that the British reactionaries are really behind Leopold’s move to return. If that, is so, then a Socialist minister worth his salt would compel Churchill openly to intervene in the matter. With the help of the English workers, the Belgian workers could defy Churchill.

The threat to call a strike in case Leopold returns is, under the circumstances, a completely empty one. What do the Socialist and Stalinist leaders expect to achieve by means of a strike? Do they expect Leopold to resign? But if he will resign, as the result of a general strike, after he returns, he can surely be kept out of the country by the threat to use the necessary force to prevent his entry. A general strike is not a plaything. It is a very serious matter and to utilize it when it is unnecessary is a sign of light-mindedness.

The fact is that the Socialist and Stalinist leaders are bluffing. They do not really want to struggle against Leopold and the threat to use the general strike is a threat and nothing else. This does not mean that the workers will not go out on strike if Leopold is permitted to return. It means that the Socialist and Stalinist leaders will sabotage the strike if it is called.

Should the contention be advanced that there are elements in Belgium that will revolt if Leopold is prohibited from entering the country, then the answer is, that it becomes all the more necessary to keep him out and to that extent behead any reactionary movement on his behalf. On the assumption that a considerable section of the population will fight for Leopold’s return, it must be concluded that this section will also fight against any general strike to compel Leopold to resign.

My argument against the resignation of, the cabinet is not to be construed as an argument in favor of the participation of Socialists and Stalinists in a capitalist government; it is intended to show that the Socialist and Stalinist leaders are unwilling and unable to use their government positions to defend the interests of the masses.

The fundamental weakness of the Socialist and Stalinist leadership in their fight against Leopold lies in the fact that they are not struggling to liquidate the monarchy as an institution. They are fighting against Leopold but not against the monarchy. To the capitalists of Belgium, of Great Britain and the United States it is not Leopold who is important, but the monarchy as an institution around which the reactionary forces can rally and possibly obtain the support of a large section of the population. It may well be that Leopold will abdicate in order to save the monarchy.

For the Belgian workers it is not only important that Leopold be kept out of Belgium but that the monarchy as such be liquidated as an obstacle in their path to a socialist victory. The liquidation of the monarchy will not automatically bring to the Belgian workers relief from the terrible misery which is their lot. Only a Socialist United States of Europe can undertake the task of solving the problems of the European masses. But in liquidating an institution which will fight bitterly against the socialist revolution the workers have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

In putting up what is essentially a sham battle against Leopold the Socialist leaders are in reality saving the monarchy. This kind of a fight is treachery to the working masses. It is for the militant Belgian workers to insist that the fight against the return of Leopold be transformed into a fight to liquidate the monarchy. In this way the revolutionary workers will convince the masses that the Socialist and Stalinist leaders are not willing to fight to abolish the monarchy.

And if the Socialist and Stalinist leaders are not even willing to abolish the monarchy, the conclusion is inescapable that they cannot be trusted to fight for socialism. At present the task of the Trotskyists in Belgium is to tear the masses away from the Stalinist and Socialist parties. A struggle for the liquidation of the monarchy will help convince the masses that their desire for a socialist revolution and a Socialist United States of Europe cannot be realized if they follow the Socialist and Stalinist parties.

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