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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(9 March 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 10, 9 March 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Militants Break with Australian C.P.; Hail Fourth International

Our Australian comrades’ vigorous anti-war activity, reported in these columns on previous occasions, is bearing fruit. A considerable number of rank and file members of the Communist Party of Australia are drawing closer to the Communist League, the Australian section of the Fourth International, and some have already joined officially. The latest number of the Militant, official organ of the League, reports that J.N. Rawlings, editor of World Peace, has broken with Stalinism and endorsed the Fourth International.

Rawlings was a member of the Australian C.P. for fifteen years. From reserved criticism of the People's Front line he developed to the point where, at the outbreak of the war, he openly took issue with the local satrap of the Kremlin, one J.B. Miles, who went so far as to urge “fit and available members” of his party to join up with the army and “to participate in the struggle to defeat the aggressor armies.” After several months of increasing conflict with the party leadership, Rawlings was summarily expelled, on December 17.

Rawlings had been editor of World Peace, the weekly paper of the League for Peace and Democracy, from its inception. He was immediately removed from that post upon his expulsion from the C.P. A squad of Stalinist worthies raided his editorial office, ordered him to leave with a threat of force and even refused to allow him to take his personal belongings with him. Guido Baracchi, another old time C.P. leader, has solidarized himself with Rawlings in his conflict with the party leadership.

Aside from his journalistic work, which made his name familiar to radical circles throughout the British Empire, Rawlings is the author of the authoritative History of the Australian People and of numerous pamphlets on economic and historical questions.

Excerpts from the Statement Issued by J.N. Rawlings

Here are some interesting excerpts from a statement issued to the press by comrade Rawlings after his expulsion:

“What of the thousands of workers who, remembering the last war, were ready to oppose this, but who, seeing the Communist Party support it, were either bewildered or led to believe that they should fight ‘for the independence of nations now enslaved by Nazism?’

“But the decision to support the war was no ‘mistake’. It was a perfectly logical step ... Capitalists and capitalist politicians were divided into two classes, good and bad, according as they were ‘non-appeasers’ and ‘appeasers’. Capitalism was no longer the breeder of wars; wars now resulted from ‘Fascist aggression’ ...

“First it was ‘democratic’ France and Britain —and Communists in these countries voted war credits, supported conscription, sang the Marseillaise and God Save the King, and hobnobbed with duchesses, deans and scions of noble houses. Then it was Nazi Germany, which Pravda led us to infer was invariably based on striving to defend and preserve peace! ...

“Today, Finland is being invaded, just as Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland were invaded. But this time the invasion is made in the name of Leninism! To such a level has the Communist Party of Australia, together with the rest of them, descended, that it can idealize that invasion and present it as the extension of Communism.

“With the Comintern attitude, switching now left, now right, towards the war, and with policies, spread over years, that led to that attitude, no true Marxian can have anything to do.

"Events have shown that the Third International has followed the path of the Second. But the path of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky is the only path that the workers can follow to their emancipation, and a new, Fourth, International must be built to lead them along it.”

Labour Party Students Join Against Social Patriotism

From time to time we have reported here the growing anti-war movement in the lower ranks of the British Trades Unions as well as in the Labour Party. Only recently, as this column pointed out, this movement showed such strength in the local Trades Councils that the top bureaucracy became obliged to enforce its rule by means of extraordinary measures intended to squeeze the local bodies into line by financial pressure.

Now we get word that the bureaucracy is also in conflict on this score with the University Labour Federation, the students’ organization affiliated with the Labour Party. Arthur Greenwood, deputy leader of the party in parliament, found the conflict so sharp that he had to resign as president of the Federation. On January 4 the Labour students held their national conference at Liverpool. The first step taken by the conference was the adoption of a resolution “condemning the war as, an imperialist war for profit and for world domination”, and point out that the same anti-war policy has been “expressed by sections of the Labour Party and by trades unions in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Sheffield.”

The resolution carried by a vote of 49 against 9 and 2 abstentions. Mentioning this fact, a statement of the Federation chides Greenwood for attributing their attitude to “Communist instigation.” It continues:

“The Conference of the U.L.F. regards the struggle against war on the part of the labor movement as a foremost task and as a step necessary for the realization of socialism. Only by such means can the L.P. and the U.L.F. fulfill their role as ‘light-house of socialism’. The conference regards your (Greenwood’s) action and that of the other leaders of the Labour Party who support the war and the political truce as treachery to socialism and to the interests of the working class. The Conference has decided to continue the struggle against war and for socialism in agreement with the numerous groups in the labor and progressive movement who are opposed today and who will continue to oppose this war.”

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