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World Powers at Loggerheads

Japanese Repulsed in China as Laval Cabinet Falls in Paris

(February 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 8 (Whole No. 104), 20 February 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The events of the last week have brought about a very noticeable shift in the relationship of forces among the powers involved in the recent struggle centering on the Far Eastern question. The unexpected and rather remarkable resistance put up by the Chinese at Chapei has vexed the Japanese aggressors considerably. And the rather cool reception given the French delegation at Geneva, has not served to encourage Tokio any either. The French imperialists have up to the present been the only ones to play the role of apologists for Nipponese militarism.

The bold stand taken by Tardieu has, if anything, only been of service in the consolidation of Wall Street influence in Europe. Isolated internationally by their strong-headed drive for a sharp solution, the French reactionaries have suffered an internal defeat, through a combination of circumstances, by the downfall of the Laval cabinet. The inevitably more moderate regime that will succeed Laval, will not fail to take into account the desires and demands of the Washington government in continuing, under a new guise, the traditional French struggle for European hegemony. After all, the money bags will remain the determining factor in imperialist politics.

Japan, weakened already by her Far Eastern adventure and losing ground continually in her diplomatic disputes with the West, finds herself entangled in a net of strangling contradictions. On the one hand, the Manchurian expedition and the attack on Shanghai have already proved to be extremely expensive, have sapped her resources like a suction pump. A protracted stay in China can only mean the collapse of her financial structure. Discontent at home is maturing rapidly. Despite the censorship, reports of anti-war demonstrations in Tokio and in other cities have found their way into the press. The economic crisis and the unemployment it brings can only aggravate this situation for the Mikado’s ministers. On the other hand, the Chinese boycott of Japanese goods has already piled up heavy losses for her industries. And it is primarily the breaking of the boycott that Tokio is concerned with at present, after the first flush of victory and the ravenous ambitious accompanying it have dimmed. And even then, it is questionable if the imperialism of the East could repair its losses by merely lifting the boycott, as the situation stands today. At any rate, it may be safely assumed that in the coming weeks, the diplomats at Tokio will be much more “reasonable” in their negotiations with the U.S., Great Britain and the others until new factors intervene.

The temporarily successful defense of Chapei has no doubt raised the morale of the Chinese troops. That the Kuo Min Tang politicians attempt to exploit this situation is only natural. But it is not their intention to make use of it by rallying the masses for a real struggle. For them, it simply constitutes capital in the bid for the support of American financiers. Washington is not at all reluctant to come to the aid of the Chinese bourgeoisie. The centralization of China and its transformation into a stable market for American goods, has always been one of Wall Street’s dreams. Any opportunity to realize this dream will be taken advantage of by United States imperialism.

But the Kuo Min Tang has not yet succeeded in establishing a stable bourgeois power in China. All the experiences of recent years have helped to strengthen the hatred of the masses of the people against the foreign robber powers, America included. They will undoubtedly look upon the Kuo Min Tang’s flirtations with Wall Street, with suspicion. This fact cannot help but increase the opportunities of the Chinese Communists to build up their influence and to take the lead in the struggle, supported by the prestige and the backing of the Soviet Union and the world proletariat. Rumors have been spread about relative to a supposed entente between the Soviet government and the Japanese with regard to the transportation of troops on the Chinese Eastern Railroad. Despite the disgustingly non-revolutionary stand of Litvinoff at Geneva, dealt with elsewhere in this issue, despite the fact that this position at the Disarmament Conference only constitutes another step in the Stalinist degeneration, it is, nevertheless, inconceivable, that there is any truth whatsoever in these rumors. Any such entente could mean only one thing in betrayal of the most elementary duty of a proletarian power – that of intransigent antagonism to the imperialists and their designs against the oppressed colonial masses.

The imperialist powers are busy preparing their households for the coming test of strength. Just how imminent this clash is may be gathered from the parleys going on at Geneva in the antechambers, away from the din of oratorial bombast. These discussions have for their subject the very prosaic matter of restrictions in the use of aircraft bombing on civilians, the distances to be established between battle lines, etc. The utmost watchfulness is required of the international working class. We, too, must be prepared. The tension in Germany, in the face of the March elections, may well give vent to an explosion that will shake Europe. The outcome of the class struggle in Germany will serve as a signal for imperialist action. It is the task of the Communists to lay the ground for a successful counter-action of the proletariat. The first requisite for that is international solidarity. And it is on this point, that the Stalinist leadership in all the parties of the Comintern, and especially in the Soviet Union must be called to order.

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