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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(28 July 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 54, 28 July 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Anti-War Actions in British India

Meeting at Bombay three weeks ago, the All-India Congress Committee, governing organ of the five-million strong Indian Nationalist Congress, adopted an anti-war resolution whose practical consequences are bound to embarrass British imperialism no end.

“Congress has repeatedly declared its policy of uncompromising opposition to Fascism and war,” the resolution declares, “and its determination to resist the exploitation of Indian man-power and resources in the interest of British imperialism.”

Citing the necessity for active war resistance, the Congress Committee directs affiliated organizations to begin active anti-war propaganda; to agitate among the people against recruitment into the British army; to organize railway and dock workers for preventing the transportation of war materials; to build up a national army of Congress volunteers for militant war resistance, etc.

The A.I.C.C. likewise stated that “they will refuse to help the Central government in war and recruitment, and that they will resist with all their powers the working of the new amendments to the Government of India Act.”

According to a dispatch from Peshawar, at a conference of various tribal chiefs it was decided to “accord no support to Britain in any war in which she might be involved. Badshahgul (a chief) who addressed the conference stressed the need of organization of tribesmen with a view to making united action possible in any crisis.”

From the looks of things, the war-mongers in Downing Street have far more to fear from national organizations in the colonies than from the Labour fakers at Transport House. In a crisis, however, it is not excluded that the working masses of the mother country will break through the social-patriotic barriers put up by their treacherous leaders and join hands with the oppressed colonials to put an end to the tottering rule of the Chamberlains and the Churchills.

Workers in the Lead of Independence Movement

The anti-war sentiment of the Indian masses is only one phase, however, of the struggle for independence from Great Britain. Equally significant is the spread of strikes around economic issues.

On that front, the workers of India are in the vanguard of the independence struggle. In Bombay alone, 50,000 night shift textile workers are on strike. Lockouts and the closing of night shifts are spreading. The textile strike is extending rapidly to Ahmedabad, Sholapur, Cawnpore, Jubbulpore, etc., and may soon assume nation-wide proportions involving hundreds of thousands of textile workers. These workers are engaged in conflict not only with the despotic British government, but also with the anti-labor actions of the Popular Front Congress ministries. In many cases the strikes are directed against native Indian capitalists and mill-owners.

Behind the Breakdown of Anglo-Russian Negotiations

Anglo-Russian negotiations for a “peace pact” have virtually broken down. Sorely pressed, the British seem to have been prepared to make all manner of concessions. Their lack of success has given rise to greater stress among British publicists on news items relating to negotiations between Berlin and Moscow.

After the revelations of Krivitsky and others, A.J. Cummings, political editor of the London News Chronicle, now reports that he has definite information on proposals made by Berlin. Writing in that paper on July 11, he says:

“Unofficially and indirectly Hitler has made the following proposals to Moscow:

“(1) Freedom of action for Germany in Eastern Europe, involving no threat against Russia or the Ukraine.

“(2) Partition of Poland.

“(3) Freedom of action for Russia, with full German support, in Asia and the Far East.

“(4) Germany’s withdrawal of cooperation with Japan – that is, dropping Japan from the Axis.

“(5) Political Russo-German alliance on these lines.”

No one can vouch for the veracity of these proposals. But, as Mr. Cummings points out, “for months past there has been practically no anti-Russian propaganda from Germany.” That speculation about relations between Hitler and Stalin has reached such a stage of precision and that an actual truce in the bitter propaganda carried on by both sides has been reached, is in itself significant of the real trend in Kremlin foreign policy.

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