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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(7 January 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 1, 7 January 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

West African Negro Leader Interned by British

Wallace Johnson, the Organizing Secretary of the West African Youth League and President of the Sierra Leone Trade Union Congress has been interned by the authorities of British West Africa. Johnson was arrested under a “Defence Regulation” which provides that persons shall be detained “when the Governor is satisfied that it is necessary to prevent the individual concerned acting in a way prejudicial to public safety or defence.”

The detention took place several days after war was declared. It is interesting to note that the judge who ordered Johnson’s arrest is the man whom Johnson, as the candidate of the trade unions of Sierra Leone, was to oppose in the coming elections for the Legislative Council.

Wallace Johnson is also one of the leaders of the International African Service Bureau, whose rousing anti-war manifesto the Appeal carried several weeks after the, outbreak of the war. That manifesto concluded with the following paragraphs:

“The issue is more fundamental than Hitlerism. It is a question of imperialism. Empire and Peace are incompatible.

“It is for this reason we say that, if lasting peace is to be achieved in Europe and throughout the world, then Capitalist imperialism must give way to a world Socialist Federation of Equal Nations and Peoples – regardless of race, color and creed.”

No wonder the imperialist masters of West Africa are afraid of Johnson. His program kindles the light of world revolution in darkest Africa.

How the French Government Fights for “Democracy”

Some news about the struggle for “democracy” as it works out in France:

No less than 30,000 German and Austrian refugees from Hitlerism are interned in concentration camps. To safeguard the rights of the refugees an advisory body of well-known exiles under the chairmanship of the German Social Democrat Breitscheid was appointed. The committee has never been consulted, but half of its members have been arrested.

At the end of October the government turned over to the Franco regime in Spain 400 members of the International Brigade on the ground that they were Spanish citizens because they had been given travelling passports by the Spanish republican authorities.

Even mild pacifists are rigorously prosecuted. Among them are some thirty-one writers of international reputation, who have been placed under arrest.

Arrests of revolutionary workers are legion.

At the same time, of course, the bourgeois defeatists around Flandin, Bonnet and DeMonzie are left entirely unhampered in their agitation for peace ... with Hitler and ... war against Soviet Russia. It is known that these circles still manage to keep in touch with their Hitlerite friends through interested neutrals, mainly through Brussels.

According to the social democrats, the war is being conducted over the issue of Hitlerism. That is, according to the New Leader in New York, the Herald in London and Populaire in Paris.

One would expect therefore, that social democrats all over the world would take such a war just as seriously in one country as in another and be ready everywhere to die in the struggle against Hitlerism.

But Camille Huysmans, erstwhile General Secretary of the Second International and banner-bearer for years of the Belgian Labor Party (P.O.B.) has been contributing under his own signature for weeks to the Nazi Koelnische Zeitung!

How do you account for that? Very simple. It seems, that Belgian capitalism requires, for the maintenance of its interests, a continuation at present of a policy of neutrality. Therefore, in Belgium, social democrats, far from being deadly enemies of Hitlerism, must help retain the friendship of Hitler. Huysmans is simply taking the assignment to get on the good, side of the German imperialists. Another of his social democratic friends courts the British imperialists, and so on.

At any rate, for the social democracy the menace of Hitlerism obviously stops at the borders of Belgium.

We leave to the New Leader to elaborate in greater detail the logic of this odd fact. We suggest Mr. Charles Yale Harrison for the job.

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