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Fake Peace Gestures in Far East

Imperialists Jockeying for Position in Coming World Clashes

(March 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 10 (Whole No. 106), 5 March 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The day’s news hails the acceptance by Japanese imperialism of the armistice proposals made by the League of Nations. That this “peaceful” gesture is merely a continuation of the aggressive policy of the Tokio statesmen along new lines, cannot be mistaken. And it is especially the Wall Street spokesmen at Washington who know this fact and bring their actions in accord with it. A Japanese acceptance of the truce can only take place under conditions favorable to the invaders. Tokio does not conceal these intentions, it is simply putting into play a diplomatic maneuver which it is confident the French reactionaries and a “strong pro-Japanese Tory group in the British cabinet” – actually the backbone of the present conservative government – will support.

It is only natural that the Hoover regime is disgruntled with this state of affairs. One thing is certain: the conclusion of the truce, if it should get as far as that, will hardly mean the end of the Far Eastern episode, but will much rather bring it more closely within the framework of a broad struggle among the world imperialists themselves. The United States, through the mouth of Stimson, in his letter to Senator Borah, has already expressed its determination not to recognize any new transactions, involving China, that will break the boundaries set by previous treaties (The Nine Power Treaty, etc.). The Japanese militarists will not pay any attention to them.

They have already too much at stake. They started out on their Manchurian adventure because they saw an opportunity in the present unstable economic positions of the other powers, to get some badly needed markets for their own hard-pressed industries. In view of the belated arrival on the scene of Japanese capitalism, that was only to be expected. In the meantime, the boycott of its goods in China and the rapidly growing war expenses are further devouring the resources of Nippon’s industries. Already the various organs of the Tokio government – the Privy Council, the cabinet – are very wary to make further levies on the population for the conduct of military operations, especially since the latter have hardly met with the desired success. But it is impossible to conceive of anything like a “peaceful” retreat on their part.

The American gentlemen-brigands, whose aim it has been, ever since the inception of the present crisis, to find a solution for it by a vast extension of its foreign market, specifically in a centralized bourgeois China, look with great concern upon Japanese machinations. More immediately, American industry has already sustained losses in its recently increased exports to China (brought about by the creation of a demand for American products, subsequent to the devastations of last year’s flood) through the siege at Shanghai, which hardly improves the attitude of Washington. The concentration of the United States fleet in the Pacific, and the maneuvers attending it, are especially significant when viewed from this angle, although not in a direct sense.

In China itself, the valiant fight put up by the Nineteenth Route Army in its defense of Chapei has not brought forth the nation-wide response that many expected. In the absence of a resolute and conscious class to lead it, the Kuo Min Tang bourgeoisie has for the moment succeeded only in making a football for the imperialists, of the Chinese nation. The most progressive class in the Chinese masses, the proletariat, suffered a frightful defeat at the hands of its own bourgeoisie during the Chiang Kai-Shek–Borodin–Stalin alliance in 1925–1927. The slaughter of the flower of the Chinese working class by Chiang Kai-Shek and the frightful depression following it could only be counter-acted by a slow and patient regathering of its scattered forces, by a wide-spread struggle for the most elementary rights, as was proposed by comrade Trotsky and the Left Opposition at the time. The failure of the Stalinists in control to realize this Marxian tactic and their persistence in sowing illusions about the Red peasant movement in the rural districts, which was only a faint and belated echo of the immense revolutionary upsurge of the earlier years, is again largely responsible for the impotence of the Chinese working masses in the present situation. Its revolutionary rebirth will most probably come with a new wave of proletarian struggle in the other countries, and not in the last place, within the Japanese empire itself. At present, it is first beginning to recover from its tragic defeat, under very difficult conditions.

The events in the Far East and the sharpening conflicts among the capitalist nations cannot be considered in themselves. They are part and parcel of the entire economic and social development of the epoch we live in. The world crisis has brought the course of this development into bold relief. The anarchy of capitalist production, based on the profit system alone, can only be maintained by a widening of the market for each capitalist nation. But a widening of the market, in so far as the capitalists are concerned, can only mean the acquisition, in an economic sense at least, of foreign territories. The fact that all territories outside of the capitalist world have already been distributed into col- [line of text missing and 2 lines repeated] such new “acquisitions” can only be achieved by sharp struggles among the various imperialists. The conflict between Japan and the United States at the present moment is the most recent illustration of this development. War under our present system can only benefit the imperialists. The workers have no interest in it. While American imperialism is waging a struggle for markets on the one hand, it is making an assault upon the standards of living of its own working class on the other. These two methods represent the two levers of the capitalist solution of the economic crisis, The solution of the working class can only be that of persistent and intransigent struggle against its own bourgeoisie, against its war aims and against its wage-cutting drive.

The capitalist antagonisms, between Japan and the United States, between the United States, France and England, cannot help but lead in their further course, to social convulsions, to revolutionary situations. In the meantime, it is the task of the class conscious workers to prepare themselves, to understand what is going on about them, and to act accordingly.

Alongside with the danger of a war among the imperialists, and not at all in contradiction with it, is the danger of a war against the Soviet Union, against the workers’ fatherland. For, aside from being the outpost of the world revolution, which is most odious to the entire capitalist world, the Soviet Union also represents a potential market for capitalist exploitation, while the first danger is most prominent in the Far East, the second centers around Germany. The prerequisite for a capitalist attack on Workers Russia is the crushing of its most reliable ally, the German working class. And that is why the class conscious worker must pay particular attention to the Fascist menace in that country, the success of which can only mean the destruction of the German proletariat and an immediate attack upon the U.S.S.R.

Sharp solutions of the crisis in the Far East and of the class struggle in Germany are inevitable and close. The first task of the Communists in preparing for the revolutionary situation that will result is to entrench themselves and the influence of Communism among the broad masses of the workers. This can only be done by means of a Leninist united front policy. By patiently explaining to the workers, by sincerely striving for unity in action on the issues of the day, by forcing, their reformist leaders into the struggle so that their true. and treacherous character will become apparent to the workers – this is the way to prepare the ground for effective action in the revolutionary situation to come, this is the Communist road to the masses.

Secondly, it is necessary to educate the American workers to class consciousness by the concrete example of socialist construction in the Soviet Union. This can best be done by linking up the magnificent successes of socialist planning In the U.S.S.R. with the struggle against the misery brought about by capitalist anarchy, by linking up the absolute need for international solidarity in the work going on in the Soviet Union with the fight against unemployment in this country. The Left Opposition for this purpose long ago proposed the slogan of long term credits to Soviet Russia, with which to buy machinery needed for the fulfillment of the five year plan, and which in turn means Soviet contracts for American factories and a considerable measure of relief to thousands of American unemployed workers.

Thirdly, it is necessary to exert all forces to imbue the working class with militant internationalism. To constantly stress that only the international fighting solidarity of the proletariat can once and for all free it from the yoke of capitalism. Concretely, to explain to them every day what it is that binds their interests up with those of the Soviet Union, of the oppressed peoples of the Far East, with the success or failure of revolution in Germany.

The differences that exist on these questions between the Left Opposition and the Stalinists are differences of historic importance, questions of life and death for the revolutionary movement. To fight against the reactionary theory of socialism in one country which cripples that international solidarity without which the workers in America as well as those in Russia are doomed to defeat; to fight against the Centrist policies and tactics of Stalinist Centrism (“united front from below”, “social Fascism”, etc.) which abandon the working masses to the reformist fakers; to unfurl the banner of Marxism-Leninism as the guiding light of the revolutionary vanguard, today; when it is being dragged in the mud – the Left Opposition is ready to undergo all the hardships in the world. The persecutions and slanders of the party bureaucracy cannot for a moment hinder us in our historic struggle, in the struggle for a Leninist party, without which there can be no proletarian victory. Confident of the future, the Left Opposition will patiently continue its course, which is the course of regenerating the Communist movement. It is the hardest and most important task of the moment.

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Last updated: 17.5.2013