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Susan Green

Capitalism Presents Its Post-War Utopias –
Pie in the Sky When You Die

(2 February 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 5, 2 February 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Every time world imperialism lets loose the demons of war upon, the victimized peoples of the world, it also lets loose a great avalanche of beautiful promises for a post-war paradise on earth, of peace and good will. This wartime abundance of empty promises is supposed to make up for the gaping wartime shortages in happiness and the other necessities of life.

The 1914–1918 holocaust was widely advertised by Wilson’s war-makers as the “war to end all wars.” That false slogan stirred only false hopes in the war-weary heart of humanity.

Again the 1939–???? catastrophe is hailed by Roosevelt and Churchill as a noble fight to free the would forever from “aggressors” – and consequently from war.

And how is the era of perpetual peace to be accomplished this time?

The plan in the rough is contained in the much-tooted-about Atlantic Charter. Its eight points – like Wilson’s fourteen – are supposed to be the blueprint for a brand new League of Nations, including victors and vanquished, all devoted to the pursuits of peace.

If you lift a quizzical eyebrow – your ears still ringing from the great gusts of windy oratory that characterized the functioning of League of Nations No. 1, now deceased – you are assured that the future league will be different.

But a future League of Nations can be different only if the nations comprising it are motivated by different purposes. Is there any reason to believe that the international struggle for power and profit which went on under the idealistic cover of League No. 1 will not be repeated?

Why the League Fell Apart

League No. 1 fell apart because its members were – and are – imperialist rivals for world power. It very rapidly became merely the pulpit for Sunday sermons on international good will, while in the dark cellars of imperialist diplomacy the dirty work of international power politics was carried on. England secretly encouraged Italy to expand into Ethiopia so that the French hold on the Mediterranean region might be weakened. The French maneuvered in the Balkans to consolidate a European bloc against England – and of course to isolate Soviet Russia, feared more then by the imperialists than now. England countered by assisting Hitler to acquire military might, hoping to undermine the power of France on the continent – and of course to cripple the working class movement of Europe.

The antagonisms of Britain and France gave defeated Germany and weakened Italy the chance they wanted to reach out for a place in the sun. When finally Hitler struck his fateful blow, the so-called alliance of Britain and France had been cracked wide open by the mutual hatred, distrust and double-crosses of the preceding twenty years of joint membership in League of Nations No. 1.

Some dreamers claim that it would have been different if America had joined the League. Those who think so have a very unrealistic notion of the nature of American imperialism. But even the most starry-eyed should now be disillusioned.

Yankee Imperialism and Altruism

The conduct of United States imperialism toward its war partner, Great Britain, has been far from altruistic. At every step American aid is being paid for with compound interest. Yankee imperialism is taking advantage of its economic superiority in England’s predicament to reduce the latter to the status of a secondary power.

The hostile interests of American and British capitalists stand ont like the hump on the camel’s back. And these rivals for world power are to be the idealistic leaders of the new League of Nations under the Atlantic Charter. It is important to show in some detail with what sadistic delight American capitalism has lashed out against British world power.

Lend-lease help has been accomplished by strict American supervision of British exports. England is being steadily pushed out of the Latin American market. Six months ago its exports of steel to our southern neighbors were already only 40 per cent of normal. On pressure from this country, British contractors were forced to give up lucrative projects like the electrifications of the Central Brazilian railroad, hydro-electric construction and so on. The United States has further maintained that Britain cannot receive lend-lease help and at the same time keep up exports to Australia, New Zealand and other parts of her empire. On pressure from this country, the British have been compelled to relinquish their hold on shipping to their empire outposts. The long-established Manx and Union Steamship lines have been taken off the Australian run and replaced by American steamship companies, to the extent that the war permits.

Raymond Clapper, columnist for the Scripps-Howard papers, sees in the present situation a chance for this country to lay its hands on the raw materials for which it is now dependent on the British and Dutch. These include rubber and tin, as well as chromite, jute, mica, graphite. Says Mr. Clapper:

“All of these are needed by American industry. We are not self-sufficient in any of them. In certain of them British government control is such that it ought to be possible to work out a joint international holding company.”

Mr. Clapper does not say that this can be worked out by pressure of lease-lend. Neither does he say that the CONTROL of this “international holding company” will naturally pass to the United States. This will be accomplished ipso facto by reason of the great debt the British government will owe this government.

Distribution of Raw Materials

The Atlantic Charter contains a point to the effect that all nations must have access to the markets and raw materials of the world. The conduct of United States imperialism today illustrates the kind of distribution of raw materials and markets that it is interested in.

Under the circumstances, it can be assumed that England’s masters do not have an altogether brotherly feeling toward their American partners.

League No. 1 was dominated by Britain and France and was destroyed by their ceaseless struggle for superior power, utilized by Germany and other would-be powers in their own interests. League No. 2 to be established by the clashing imperialists of the United States and Great Britain, if Hitler is defeated, is bound to have the same fate.

The new set-up will start with the United States on top due to overwhelming economic strength. British imperialism will not be quite bankrupt. It will have enough life left to want to regain its lost empire and its stolen markets: – not from defeated Hitler but from victorious Yankee imperialism.

Who Will Take the Orders?

For a while Britain will have to take orders from the big boss in Washington. But for how long? In the sub-cellars of diplomacy, once again the battle of power politics will begin. And there will be plenty of room to fish to troubled waters.

Europe will be a heap of ruins, but German imperialism, defeated and dismembered, will remember that it almost succeeded. French imperialism will angle for position to regain its losses. Russia, with world imperialist aims second to none, will have its paws in the grab-bag.

In this hemisphere, the Latin American countries will be held loosely within the orbit of United States imperialism – by the exigencies of war. Then what? Argentina obviously has its own plans for a place in the sun.

In the Far East, will Japanese imperialism – having once demonstrated its power – be willing to accept permanent defeat? When the chance comes, it will again try to dominate Asia as its own hunting ground.

Within this world-wide milieu of defeated but smoldering ambitions, the United States and Great Britain will play their cards against each other – even as Great Britain and France did after the last war. It is not for nothing that the Kiplinger News Services referred to the immediate post-war period as a transition from “fighting to economic war.”

An International Police Force?

The authors of the Atlantic Charter promise that they will establish an international police force to see that no nation becomes an “aggressor.” But, torn by rivalry and jockeying for position, how will the imperialist powers agree on an international police force? How will nations of opposing interests be able to have unanimity of command over an international police force – if such a thing is ever created?

Certainly the United States will not be able to police the whole world – including Great Britain. The connivings of rival powers and would-be powers will again start the same old race for armed might and military supremacy. AND WAR – ITS INEVITABLE RESULT – WILL ONCE MORE BE ON THE AGENDA OF THE IMPERIALISTS OF THE WORLD.

What is needed for peace is not a new league of the same old bandits – but an international union of workers’ governments of all nations.

What is needed for permanent peace is a change of personnel at the controls. The working peoples of each nation must take the places of the imperialist rulers. This means the death of capitalism and the birth of socialism.

Power and profit – the motive force of capital,ism – will then perish.

The peoples of the world will be able to exchange their goods and their resources ACCORDING TO THEIR HUMAN NEEDS.


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