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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(30 December 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 95, 30 December 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Fourth International’s Activity in Germany Confirmed

Some time ago, the Appeal carried a dispatch quoting a Paris Temps report on Trotskyist action in Berlin. This is corroborated by a news report in the Copenhagen Politiken of October 26.

“According to information gathered from divers sources,” writes Politiken, “the German police is engaged in a widespread raid action against numerous cases of assassination and acts of sabotage. It has organized in Berlin and in other large cities patrols composed of S.S. troops and volunteers to quell disorders resulting from blackouts.

“On a recent night raid, a patrol discovered in the former Communist strongholds of Berlin batches of leaflets bearing the insignia of the Red Front and the words: Down with Hitler and Stalin! Long Live TROTSKY!

Belgian P.S.R. Calls for Fight Against National Unity Gov’t.

In Belgium, the government of “National Unity” under Pieriot and the “socialist” Spaak is preparing for its part in the Second World War by instituting a tax program which is to bring a revenue of some 1,443 million francs. It is by far the most extensive tax program ever proposed.

Of the 1,443 million, less than 120 million or 8 per cent is to be levied on the trusts and the inheritances of the wealthy. The balance of more than 90 per cent, constitutes taxes on matches, tobacco, coffee, beer, fruit, etc. – in other words, taxes which place the burden of the war preparations squarely upon the shoulders of the working class population of the country.

The reformist Belgian Labor Party, in its official organ, the Peuple, fully approves this plundering program of the bourgeoisie. In its issue of November 11, it gives the usual social patriotic grounds for that support:

“In the grave hours which we are now witnessing, it is necessary to act rapidly. At a moment when public opinion reproaches the government, although sometimes wrongly, with being too hesitant, it is desirable that parliament give it at once the means of facing its responsibilities which are urgently necessary.”

The only party in the country which is mobilizing public opinion against the anti-working class “National Unity” government and its tax program is the Revolutionary Socialist Party (P.S.R.), the Belgian section of the Fourth International.

In its paper, La Lutte Ouvrière it concludes an attack on the tax program with the following words:

“At no time has the slogan of the sliding scale of wages, which is inscribed in the transitional program of the Fourth International taken on such importance as at present.

“The working masses must give themselves a clear account that they can no longer depend for their self-defense, upon the reformist leaders whose whole devotion belongs to big banking and industrial capital.

“They can rely only on their own action. They must create their own organs of defense and struggle: Committees of workers, of the unemployed, of the soldiers. Long live the united front of all the oppressed for immediate demands which will put an end to the starvation plans of the capitalist reaction supported by the leaders of the P.O.B. (Labor Party). Make the rich pay!”

Moscow Confessions in England: Pollitt and Campbell Recant

The Kremlin’s old wheel-horses in the “democracies” were caught short completely by the Stalin-Hitler pact. Thus, Harry Pollitt, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain, wrote in a pamphlet issued early in September:

“The Communist Party is convinced that the people of Great Britain are united as never before in their determination to win this war against Fascism and the friends of Fascism in Britain, and to end the horror and anxiety that have overshadowed Europe since Hitler came to power ...”

Another Stalinist stalwart of People’s Front days, J.R. Campbell, whipped himself up into such a frenzy over the “defense of Danzig” for Polish imperialism, that he saw a “Fifth Column” lurking behind the opposition of pacifists to the government’s declaration of war. Thus he attacked the Glasgow Forward, mouthpiece of the centrist Scottish Socialist Party in the following words:

“No demonstration of the Fifth Column would be complete without a pacifist contingent and so we find the Forward demanding ‘Should we fight over Danzig’ (horror of horrors).”

The final upshot was that Moscow ordered these two to act as scapegoats when the line was changed. Pollitt was “removed” from his post and Campbell was denounced in the C.P. press. Now they have both confessed in the best style of the Moscow trials. In their statements (London Daily Worker, November 11) the former says that he “played into the hands of the class enemy, and especially the reactionary Labour leaders, who saw in my attitude the justification of their own policy of supporting the Chamberlain Government” and the latter, that he “slipped into a position of national defense in an imperialist war, involving objectively support for our own imperialism.”

A better characterization of the treachery of their People’s Front politics could not be given even by us. But two questions remain: (1) Since Stalin was the sponsor of that policy in the first place, why is there no confession forthcoming from him? (2) Since both Campbell and Pollitt are now for accepting the “peace” offer of Hitler, how long will we have to wait until we get their confession of “playing into the hands” of Hitler as well?

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