Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(25 August 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 62, 25 August 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

West Indians Will Fight – At Home, Against Own Oppressors

If Great Britain finds herself involved in a war as a result of the present European crisis, she can expect little assistance from her colonial subjects in the West Indies.

This opinion was expressed here by E.V. Allen, one of the twelve Negro legislators in the Jamaica legislative council, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Courier of Aug. 19.

“If England is drawn into another war in Europe, it is my opinion that the people of the West Indies will refuse to fight,” he said.

“The government has shown no interest in the people’s problems and the people would have no interest in theirs. The average Englishman who is sent out from Great Britain has no interest in the islands except to draw his salary.”

Lest some New Deal enthusiast interpret such a stand as even in the slightest indicating preference for the benevolent imperialism closer to their shores, the Jamaica legislator specified:

“In spite of anti-British feeling, however, the average West Indian would not welcome the annexation of the islands by the United States. They would even prefer an independent status to this.”

We assume that the “even” in the last sentence was merely giving point to the immediacy with which the people of the islands would like to get rid of British rule. Their official representatives, at present still moderate and not quite revolutionary in their perspectives, regard independence in this day of rapacious imperialist appetites as quite a risk.

While the West Indians are quite firm in their opposition to war for the salvation of the British Empire, they are nevertheless not at all inclined to be pacifists. They carried on militant, fighting strikes hi Jamaica last year. Mr. Allen reports that as a result of these struggles, some improvement in economic conditions has taken place.

“Prior to this (the 1938 ‘riots’),” the interview quotes Allen as saying, “the average laborer earned only about 35 cents a day. Since the ‘riots,’ the average wage has risen to 50 and 60 cents a day, but this is still too far low for decent existence ... What we really want is an improvement of economic conditions in our present status.”

And, if last year’s strikes are an indication, the West Indians know that they can achieve that by fighting. The interview may be summed up simply: If the Negro people of the islands are going to fight, it will not be in an imperialist war for Great Britain but in a struggle against the British oppressors.

No wonder the great “democrats” in Downing Street are so hot for peace and appeasement! They know that the last word will be with the colonial masses at present under their thumbs.

Hathaway Is Not the Only Stalinist Convicted as a Slanderer

Recently the Stalinist press kicked up quite a fuss about the trouble Clarence Hathaway, editor of its New York rag was having as a result of a libel action brought against him by the widow of a Minneapolis publisher. It seems that Hathaway was beset with more such libel suits and that they were all just one grand “Trotskyist” plot. But the real truth of the matter is that these boys are crawling with an old Stalinist affliction called slander, which even the courts of the “democratic” governments they support cannot fail to recognize as such.

A case in point is that of Anton Ciliga, former Yugoslav member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, who recently brought a libel suit against the Stalinist International Press Correspondence (Inprekor) in Paris. Ciliga, who broke with Stalinism after a plucky escape from G.P.U. jails to Russia, wrote a book about his experiences under the Stalin regime. A reviewer in the Inprekor denounced him as a Fascist spy – the usual “answer” that these people have for any critic whose arguments are based on fact and hard to refute.

In court, the Inprekor editors were required to present proof for their charge. And what was their proof? Ciliga was guilty of living to exile on an Italian passport!

Of course, Ciliga was able to prove that he had lived on an Italian passport not only in Russia from 1926 to 1936, but that he possessed such a passport while actively directing the Yugoslav Communist movement from the day he joined it. He was a Yugoslav by descent and upbringing, but had been born on Italian territory and consequently required an Italian passport during his sojourn in all other countries.

Numerous socialist and liberal emigrants from the Fascist terror testified in his behalf. The Stalinists were clearly exposed as the slanderers and defamers they actually are. As a result of the verdict they have had to publish a retraction in their own press and pay for the cost of publishing the verdict to two other papers. It takes a long time to catch up with Stalinist lies. But even the Hathaways and their ilk should not be surprised by now when they are finally caught red-handed.

Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 3 March 2016