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Glancing Through Back Issues of Labor Action

Our Party Told the Truth About Imperialist War!

(7 April 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 14, 7 April 1947, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Labor Action back issues

The very first issue of Labor Action blasted imperialist war. In that issue, a special May Day 1940 edition, the chief headline read: “AGAINST BOTH WAR CAMPS – FOR THE CAMP OF WORLD LABOR!” The statement under this head, giving the point of view of Labor Action and of the Workers Party, exposed the lies of both warring camps – then it was Hitler-Stalin-Mussolini against England-France-United States. The birth-cry of Labor Action was a call to all workers and colonial peoples to unite in the third camp, the revolutionary camp against war.

Judged in the light of present-day events, the formulations of the Workers Party and its press throughout the war, were almost prophetic. This is not said in self-glorification. That it has been so correct in its war outlook, is due to the painstaking application of Marxian principles to history. As we check the war record of the Workers Party, we discover predictions that have actually come to pass.

Attitude to War

The first issue of the paper dated May 20, 1940, warned that whether the Axis or the Allies won the war, the masses in all nations would lose it.

“Roosevelt is trying to scare us into war by pointing to the horrors of a Hitler victory,” wrote Labor Action. “He could save his breath. The working people know what a Hitler victory would mean. Workers everywhere, including Germany, hate and despise Hitler and all he stands for ... But why does not Roosevelt also tell us what the victory of Great Britain and France would mean? ... The victory of the Allies, like the victory of Hitler, would leave Europe a heap of ruins. The victory of the Allies, like the victory of Hitler, would mean world-wide unemployment, chaos, hunger and misery such as the world has never seen.”

With death and destruction still stalking two continents long after the formal victory of the Allies, how many people are today pondering this question? With dictatorship fastening itself on the peoples, with the Third World War – of course to end all wars – already in sight, how many people are wondering why the working classes went through the hell of the Second World War?

Russia in the War

On the subject of Russian imperialism and the role of the Stalinists, our press wrote: “We condemn the Hitler-Stalin pact, with its shameful partition of Poland. We condemn the invasion of Finland and the Baltic states. We propose to the workers, both inside and outside of Russia, to resist these and similar actions, which are hostile to the interest of the world revolution.” Labor Action called imperialist invasion by its name, whether the invaders were the totalitarianized capitalist class of Germany or the totalitarianized bureaucratic class of Russia, and later when the invaders came as conquerors with the “gift of democracy.”

We did not need the revelations of a Budenz to tell us that “the Stalinists today have at last been found out for what they really are – paid agents of Stalin, serving the interests of the Moscow bureaucrats. As long as Stalin wanted an alliance with Britain, France and America, they supported every measure of Roosevelt and urged workers to fight for capitalist democracies. »But when Stalin chose to ally himself with Hitler, these agents of Russia changed their policy. Today they pretend to be against war. In reality they do all they can to assist Hitler’s victory.”

Neither were we taken unawares when Hitler directed his blitz eastward, and the Stalinists again became the lickspittles of Roosevelt and Churchill. During the days of the short-lived Hitler-Stalin honeymoon we foresaw: “While Stalin has thus aided the victorious march of barbaric fascism in Western Europe, Hitler tomorrow will turn on his Russian ally to plunder the rich resources of the Soviet Ukraine and destroy Soviet nationalized property.” When Hitler attacked Russia, Labor Action marked the event as “a new stage in the imperialist war” and issued a call against the imperialist camp of Berlin-Rome-Tokyo as well as against the imperialist camp of Washington-London-Moscow. We stood then, as we did through the imperialist war, for “the victory of the Third Camp, the camp of the suffering peoples.”

The “Four Freedoms” and the “liberating” influence of the conquering Allies when their victory became only a matter of time, Labor Action called shams.

In 1942 we were predicting that instead of allowing the peoples of the German-occupied countries the liberty to set up their own governments and to decide their own fate, the political aim of the conquering Allies would be “to defeat the will of the people.” When North Africa was invaded, we wrote: “Imperialism has no gift of freedom at its disposal. Imperialism comes to rule over and exploit other peoples, not to liberate them. That holds regardless of its name or nationality, or its pretenses.” Most recently in Greece the interests of a tortured people are being trampled under the feet of the puppets of Russian-imperialism on the one side and of British-American imperialism on the other.

Nature of Imperialism

Nor did we need to wait for the end of World War II and the so-called peace conferences to foresee World War III. In January, 1944, Max Shachtman, national secretary of the Workers Party, in a thoughtful article entitled Stalinist ‘Liberation’ of Poland an Imperialist Grab, we find the following description of what is happening today: “World War JI is not yet over but the conditions for speeding World War III are being laid ... The military struggle between the two big camps is accompanied by a feverish political struggle inside the Allied camp. The attempt made in it to come to an agreement on the division of the spoils is condemned in advance to the failure which the essentially temporary character of any imperialist agreement bears from the moment it is adopted. They agreed before, once, twice and ten times. Their very agreements contained the germ of conflict. The agreement over Poland simply injects one of the many germs of tomorrow’s conflict.”

One final note of comparison between the preparations for World War II and World War III. From its inception Labor Action underscored every step Roosevelt was taking to bring the nation into a position where war participation would become inevitable. To these subtle maneuverings to plunge a whole nation into war, we countered: “Shall one man decide, or shall the people?” And we came out for the Ludlow bill to enable the people to vote on the proposition of war. Now in 1947, we see a small group of men in this country, again taking what may foe irretraceable steps to war. In Russia, the prospective imperialist enemy, the ruling clique tries to get away with as much as possible without actual war and thus leads the Russian millions to the precipice. In 1947 Labor Action asks as it did in 1940: “Shall one man decide, or shall the people?”

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