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Sam Gordon

Japanese Invade Shanghai!

War Threatens in the Far East and against the Soviet Union

(January 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 5 (Whole No. 101), 30 January 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

As we go to press, the wires are still humming with the latest dispatches of the Japanese seizure of Shanghai. Battles between Nipponese and Chinese troops are in full blast all over Chapei, the native part of the town, and Japanese reenforcements keep on marching toward the scene of the fighting. After 13 hours of fierce skirmishes and air raids, one report says, the occupation is not yet completed. But one thing is certain The crux of the Sino-Japanese conflict is already here.

Undeclared Open War

The minions of the Mikado have been steadily proceeding southward for weeks ever since their first easy successes in Manchuria. This time, China proper is the object of the imperialists’ operations. The game of the Japanese has been to lop off one territory after another, while protesting against breaches of the treaty of 1915, while declaring the absolute altruism of their motives. At this rate, the official declaration of war ought to come just about at the time when the Nippon capitalists are ready to sign the peace treaty.

So far, the other imperialist powers have shown extreme restraint and caution in dealing with the hardly delectable demarches of their Oriental competitor. In such a heated atmosphere as the present, even the fact that several American worships have been ordered to Shanghai, appears to be a mild form of indignation. But it would be foolish to think that this has been so because of their good will, or because of pacifist scruples. Nothing is further removed from that.

The reason why the Western powers are refraining from prompt and drastic action to curb their yellow brother-under-the-skin is that, the present world situation is as combustible as a powder magazine. Unemployment driving millions to a choice between extermination and bitter, uncompromising struggle. Germany on the verge of social eruption. Unrest in Poland, class fighting in Spain, turmoil in Austria, Hungary and the other central European states. That is what the capitalist world is faced with today. A “working agreement” for the time being, or at least an “entente” is the most natural thing to expect among the various national master classes. The throttling of a social conflagration and the victorious subjugation of the fortress of the world revolution – Workers’ Russia – is the immediate and common objective of all the powers that be.

Anti-Soviet Advances

The Rengo News Agency (Japanese) reports the seizure and operation of the branch line between Harbin and Changchun of the Chinese Eastern Railway by Japanese train troops! Add to this the planned invasion of Jehol valley and Mongolia by the notorious Russian White Guard general, Ataman Semionov, an adventurer definitely known to be in the pay of the Mikado’s government, and you have as arrogant a provocation against the Soviet Union as can possibly be hatched up. The signal for an attack against the light-house of the international proletariat is being given in the East.

The government of the Soviets is watchful and cautious. And in a situation such as this, it must be. But, if we are to believe quotations from Pravda and Isvestia in the capitalist press, the stress is being put altogether and exclusively – for the present, at [least] – on the danger at the Eastern frontier of the U.S.S.R. That danger is hardly to be underestimated. It can and probably will serve as the spark of an [all-]round attack.

But, for a revolutionist with open eyes it cannot help being clear that the real and the main danger is in the West Developments in the Far East generally drag, must drag, because of the physical character of the land, because of the lack and inadequacy of transportation facilities, because of natural difficulties. Should Fascism, however, succeed in crushing the German proletariat, and thereby pave the way for a combined effort of imperialist reaction, this menace would increase at a furious tempo. On the Western frontier, the position is entirely the reverse. A few weeks of successful military operations by the European imperialists would place in their hands the Ukrainian granary and the heart of Soviet industry. Not to speak of depriving the Soviets of the aid of its most powerful and most valuable ally, the European and, more immediately, the German proletariat.

Chinese Experiences Not Forgotten

That is what every Communist worker to whom proletarian Russia, to whom the world revolution is dear, must keep in mind. This is what the Russian worker, especially, must keep in mind. And it is precisely for this reason that the policy of passivity and inaction of the Stalinist leadership of the Russian Communist Party and of the Communist International in this situation is criminal and treacherous.

It was these same people, who masque trading as intransigent dortrinaries whose principles do not allow them to force struggle agreements against German Fascism upon the social democrats (the “social Fascists”) – who were responsible for the slaughter of the flower of the Chinese proletariat by Chiang Kai-Shek in 1926–1927. Then – under the banner of the Martynovist bloc of four classes. All the futile and empty shouts of the Stalinist press about the “Chinese Red Army” and the “powerful Chinese Soviet Republic” (Daily Worker, 1-29-1931) cannot cover up the fact that the impotence of the oppressed Chinese masses in the face of the imperialist aggressors today is the retribution for the crime of 1925–1927.

All Out On February 4!

The Left Opposition, under the leadership of comrade Trotsky issued its warning then. It is warning the party now. Only an acute turn of policy in the Communist International, only an immediate reorientation toward the old Leninist line of international proletarian action can save Soviet Russia, can prevent the pillage of the downtrodden of China, liberate the working class and the oppressed colonial peoples from the yoke of capitalism and imperialism. Enormous dangers are facing the workers of the world and tremendous possibilities for successful action are opening up for them. Every day, every hour, every minute wasted – can bring unforetold consequences at this stage of developments.

The official party is calling upon all workers to voice their protests against the Japanese invasion of China at the nation-wide demonstrations on February 4. Let all workers, all revolutionists turn out in mass at these demonstrations. Let every Communist bring pressure upon the party leadership to wake it up to the danger in Germany as well as to that in the Far East. Let every sincere revolutionist help the Left Opposition bring back the Communist party, the vanguard of the working class, to the Leninist path, to the path of proletarian victory.

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