Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Susan Green

Anglo-American Economic Pact Solves
No Problems – Present or Future

(9 March 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 10, 9 March 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On February 24, Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles and Viscount Halifax, British Ambassador, signed an economic pact which was hailed by capitalist spokesmen as a “further step forward.” This praise is as indefinite as the terms of the pact itself, which is supposed to implement that nebulous plan for a post-war world of “peace and prosperity” known as the Atlantic Charter.

But hold on a minute. The indefiniteness applies only to the post-war paradise stuff. That part – in which the masses are interested – is only frilly trimming to boost war morale. The main purpose of the pact is to state what’s what with regard to lend-lease aid.

It is quite clear from the provisions of the agreement that John Bull’s Uncle Sam is going to be a very strict “guardian” for the duration. It is furthermore beyond the shadow of a doubt that the United States does not intend to allow its ward any military advantages after the war.

Aside from the above definite agreement as to who cracks the whip over whom, the other “principles” are along the sketchy lines of the Atlantic Charter. Article VII states that when final settlement of lend-lease aid is made between the United States and Great Britain, it will “not burden commerce between the countries” but will “promote mutually advantageous economic relations between them.” Furthermore, all nations of “like mind” are to be invited to the settlement party to lay “the material foundations of the liberty and welfare of all peoples.”

Can’t Trust These Phrases

These grandiose and vague phrases, which also constitute the essence of the Atlantic Charter, are as much to be trusted by the peoples of the world as is Hitler’s new order or Tokyo’s Asiastic prosperity sphere.

It is impossible for imperialists – be they Yankee, British, Nazi or Nipponese – to lay the foundations for peace and prosperity, for liberty and well-being for all peoples. The foundations of imperialism are rooted in production for sale and profit, inevitably leading to international competition and war.

The nature of imperialism can not more be changed by charters, new orders and “prosperity” spheres than a devouring wolf pan be turned into a meek animal by dressing him up in a lamb’s skin. The international competition for post-war profits will be more deadly than ever before in human history. The war itself has intensified the competitive struggle. Those very nations which heretofore afforded markets for the big imperialists, have been developed by war production into seekers of markets as competitors. Very interesting on the subject of our good neighbors is Ralph Hendershot, financial editor of the New York World-Telegram:

“It is a splendid thing that we have Canada’s production facilities to supplement our own in the present emergency. But we may be deploring the competition from that quarter before another ten years have rolled around. Her aluminum capacity, for instance, is something to ponder in view of the tremendous expansion in the production of that metal that has taken place in this country in the last two years.

“For many years Canada has been one of our best customers. We have sold her millions of dollars worth of manufactured products. The chances are that such exports will suffer sharply after this war is over. It is worth noting, too, that virtually every country in the world has greatly increased its industrial capacity in recent years. Much of this capacity, to be sure, has been diverted to war production, but the time undoubtedly will come when it will be used largely for peacetime manufacturing. Even most South American countries are seeking actively to become industrially self-sufficient.”

C. Hartley Grattan, globe-trotter for the Carnegie Corporation and for the Institute for Current World Affairs, in an article in Harper’s Magazine entitled A Warning to the Peace Planners, bluntly states:

“It will be just as necessary to calculate how Canada and Australia and India are going to sell their stuff, including manufactures. And with regard to manufactures, it will be necessary to take into the calculation not the driblets they poured into the international market before the present war broke out, but the vastly increased quantities they will be pouring out when they shift their war plants to making peacetime goods.”

Mr. Grattan shows how India, which has almost destroyed England’s cotton industry, will, with its enormous reserves of rich iron ore – the greatest in Asia, if not in the world – also become a major steel producer in competition with the rest of the world.

China Industrializes

Mr. Grattan states further that China is permanently committed to industrialization and “It is a possibility that China, freed from foreign domination, will put Japan in the shade as an industrial nation.”

Australia, whose industrial plant in 1941 already was “infinitely more elaborate than the one she had in 1939, is looking to the lands and islands of the Far East as her natural export market, according to the report of a British commission to Australia.

These are only a few of the new competitive factors. They have intruded themselves into a world where already the competition was so great that it developed into the war that is now engulfing us. Nor have the imperialist diehards of old been marking time. In Germany and Japan, in the United States and England, the war is forcing an almost fabulous plant expansion that will be converted to peacetime production.

Mr. Grattan graphically states: “There will be some terrible traffic jams in the crowded streets of the post-war trading world.” The director of the National Resources Planning Board the other day declared that the post-war period may well be “almost indistinguishable from, war.”

The sooner the people of the world understand that it is impossible for any imperialist gang to lay the foundation for peace and prosperity, the sooner will the masses find the way to do it for themselves. For the purposes of war morale the imperialist governments fool around with such phrases as “liberty and welfare of all peoples.” But to all the peoples of the world it is absolutely necessary actually to accomplish this end. Without such a foundation this war will inevitably be followed by another and still others.

There is but one way to get the peace and prosperity that the people crave. The charters, new orders and “prosperity spheres” of the imperialists are snares. Socialism is the real thing.

Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 8 September 2014