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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(21 July 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 52, 21 July 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Bevin’s Too Radical for Mr. Harry Pollitt

Somewhat scared by the speed with which his confrères were rushing through pro-conscription and pro-war resolutions at the recent Southport Labour Conference, one of the more staid British trade union leaders, Mr. Ernest Bevin, delivered himself of the following quite correct but more or less vague and not too binding opposition speech:

“I do not want this Movement to be fighting for the salvation of the Paris Bourse, the London Stock Exchange, the Amsterdam Exchange and Wall Street. I want this Movement in its peace policy to be fighting for the salvation of the common people of the world.”

That Mr. Bevin was not taking himself too seriously may be gathered from the fact that up to date he has not made a single move to actually fight conscription. Like the rest of the Labour leaders, he is taking British war preparations in his stride. His speech was purely verbal radicalism. But even that is too much for Mr. Harry Pollitt, Stalin’s chief stooge at the head of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Writing in the current issue of the Stalinist Labour Monthly, Mr. Pollitt characterizes Bevin’s speech in these words:

“Mr. Bevin’s line is a direct continuation of the Munich policy. It was a try-out at Southport of the policy of the Cliveden set and the pro-Fascist Chamberlain government.”

Nobody was probably more surprised at these darts than poor Mr. Bevin himself. A colleague in the Glasgow Forward comes to Bevin’s support with a rather apt quip:

“How long will it be,” he asks, “before Harry Pollit will be demanding that the Internationale cease to be sung at Socialist meetings and that what we want is a good old anti-Fascist song like Rule Britannia?”

Ambassador Maisky Explains Current Kremlin Policy

That the Kremlin masters of Mr. Harry Pollitt have long ago displaced internationalism with the Russian version of the Rule Britannia spirit may be gathered from a recent interview between their Ambassador to England and a British member of Parliament.

In the London Evening News of June 16, Mr. Beverly Baxter, M.P., makes public his interview with Ambassador Maisky. Some of the passages attributed to the Ambassador sound like a less hypocritical reply that Pollitt might have given Bevin. For instance, asked by Mr. Baxter as to his attitude regarding the present alignment of the powers, Maisky said:

“We have no love for you, but less love for the German. We do not wish to die to preserve the power of France and Britain in the West. That is not hostility on our part – it is just pure reason. First: we do not want war at all. We do not mind war, but it doesn’t suit us. We have 50 years’ work ahead of us and we must have peace to carry it out. Therefore we ask only one question – ‘Does this non-aggression front help Russia to remain at peace?’ We are not sentimental like you. We are thinking only of Russia, not of humanity.”

As if to emphasize this last point, to make sure that it is understood properly, the venerable Ambassador answers as follows to the question: Is it not true that the Soviet government is still planning and working for world revolution?

“Absolutely no,” says Mr. Maisky. “All that belongs to the past, when under Lenin there was a lot of emotion mixed up with politics. Once the Comintern had that magnificent building near the Kremlin and exerted a dominating influence. Now they have moved over to a small house in the suburbs and the trade unions have taken their great place by the Kremlin. No, we do not work for World Revolution.”

There. That ought to reassure any Tory diehard. For Mr. Maisky speaks with authority. He had nothing to do with the Kremlin “when under Lenin there was a lot of emotion mixed up with politics.” On the contrary he was interested on which side his bread was buttered in the camp of the White Guards fighting Lenin. He is still interested on which side his bread is buttered. And so are all the other bureaucratic colleagues of Mr. Maisky, both in the Kremlin and on mission for it. No, these boys don’t work for world revolution.

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