Paul Dixon (Denzil Harber)

Economic Revival — the Test of Experience

“Economic Revival — the Test of Experience”, by Paul Dixon, (Denzil Dean Harber) Internal Bulletin RCP, August, 1946, 3 pages, (1,183 words). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Ted Crawford and Paul Flewers.

One of the differences which the RCP Majority had with the resolution “The New Imperialist Peace and the Building of the Parties of the Fourth International” which was passed at the recent International Pre-Conference arose over the question of Economic perspective for Europe. That resolution stated:

“This restoration of economic activity in the capitalist countries hit by the war, and in particular in the countries on the European continent will be characterised by its particularly slow rhythm and these countries will thus remain on a level approaching stagnation and slump.”

Such was the position held by the Majority of the Fourth International at the Conference; such was the position vigorously defended by our own Minority only a few weeks back in discussions held at London aggregates. The comrades of the Minority stated again and again that only after the European working class had been defeated would European capitalism be able to lift its economy above “a level approaching stagnation and slump.”

The RCP Majority held a different point of view (which as Comrade Healy did not fail to repeat, was in an international minority on this as on other issues) which has been expressed in the resolution to be submitted to our forthcoming congress and entitled “Economic Estimation of our Epoch and the Immediate Economic Perspective for Europe.” There we wrote:

Particularly in view of the fact that this crisis is not a crisis of overproduction and that the capitalists are not being attacked in western Europe by the mass organisations, but receive the direct assistance and support of Social Democracy and Stalinism, a cyclical upswing is inevitable. It is not excluded that, particularly for Western Europe, (with the exception of Germany and Austria) the productive figures can even reach and surpass the pre-war level in the next period.

“All the factors on a world and European scale indicate that the economic activity in Western Europe in the next period is not one of stagnation and slump but one of revival and boom.”

It was, of course, also pointed out in the same resolution, that a new recovery can only prepare the way for an even greater slump and economic crisis than in the past.”

One of the advantages of a discussion over the immediate perspectives of capitalist economy lies in the fact that events themselves very speedily show which prognosis has been correct. The present discussion provides no exception to this—before the discussion is even over the evidence of the events is before us.

We have recently received some internal bulletins issued by our French Section in preparation for its forthcoming National Congress. In one of these bulletins, we find a “Draft General Political Thesis for the Third Congress of the PCI” signed by leading members of the Majority of the PCI comrades who supported the International document, among them Pierre Frank. In this document there is a section headed “Partial Recovery” which reads as follows:

“The Stalinist policy of systematic efforts for production by the working class together with the crumbs obtained from American imperia1ism or from plundering Germany, have permitted a partia1 economic recovery. The revolutionary party must take this fact into consideration in its immediate estimation of the situation.

This recovery must, however, be given its real value. The post-war period begins with enormous needs in every country, especially in the sphere of articles of consumption; during the period of reconversion of industry from a war footing there is, in fact, a relative underproduction. Under present conditions, only a lack of raw materials prevents French production from equalling, and even surpassing the level of 1938.”

The resolution then goes on to state that this recovery cannot solve any of the fundamental problems of French economy but must even aggravate them in the long run—a point upon which everyone has been in agreement all along.

Other documents in the French discussion state it as a fact recognised by all sections of the PCI that industrial production in France has now reached about 80% of 1938 and is still growing. A few months ago Comrade Goffe was denying on the Central Committee, that French industrial production had or could reach even 60% of 1938 level!

In a document “The French Situation” (signed by other members of the French Majority, including Marcoux — editor of “La Verite”) we read:

“In August 1944 the productive apparatus was completely disorganised. This situation was full of peril for the French bourgeoisie.

The policy of ‘produce first of all’ advocated by the Stalinists, permitted the bourgeoisie to pass through this difficult period. Thanks to the efforts of the workers and to their super-exploitation, the bourgeoisie has succeeded in getting together again its productive apparatus and in attaining 80% of the pre-war productive level.

The statements that at least twenty three years would be necessary to attain the level of 1938 have been proved to be false.”

The comrades do not state who made the statements referred to in the last paragraph, but it is clear who made them; the comrades of the international leadership who were responsible for the passage in the resolution of the conference which laid it down that the recovery in Europe “will be characterised by its particularly slow rhythm and these countries will thus remain on a level approaching stagnation and slump.”

After the clear evidence of the facts, as demonstrated of the French comrades quoted above, there will be few, one fancies, who will attempt to defend today that most unfortunate prognosis. But there will be quite a number, we fear, who will attempt to slur over the whole issue, who will attempt to correct the false prognosis made at the International conference, silently and without any admission of a mistake, or any attempt at analysing how that mistake came to be made. From past experience, we believe that our Minority will attempt to do this.

For our part, we do not wish to over-emphasise such an error. Any international leadership must make mistakes from time to time, even the most experienced, and, of necessity, our international leadership today is far from being an experienced one. But if mistakes are made, they must be recognised and analysed. Only thus can their repetition be avoided in the future and the lessons drawn for the whole movement.

One such lesson can be drawn straight away so far as the RCP Minority is concerned. These comrades pin their faith not on an objective Marxist analysis of events, but on blind support of an “international majority.” They should have already learned over the question of the withdrawal of the Red Army from occupied territories that this is a dangerous path to follow. Here is another lesson for them. The comrades of the RCP Majority on the other hand, now receive further evidence that in tenaciously holding to the conclusions they draw from an independent Marxist analysis of events, regardless of international majorities or minorities they are helping to establish clear political positions and doing the best service in building the Fourth International.

Last updated: 25 March 2009