"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> Irving Howe: World Politics (8 April 1946)

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Irving Howe

World Politics

(8 April 1946)


From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 14, 8 April 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


Due to lack of space, we have been unable to report a number of significant international events of the past several weeks. This week’s column is therefore devoted to a roundup of such neglected items; Every few weeks such a roundup will be printed.

*

Concentration Camps for Socialists

A report in the New York Times from Germany brings the news that certain leaders and members of the German Social-Democratic Party (designated in the article as “left Socialists”) have been seized by the Russian Army occupation authorities and thrown into some of Hitler’s concentration camps.

Buchenwald, Hitler’s hell-hole, has been reopened by the Stalinists and a whole group of Social-Democrats who opposed the pressure campaign to force their party into “unity” with the Stalinists have been once again thrown into the very camps where they suffered under Hitler. The cycle from Hitlerism to Stalinism is not accidental in this case; both of them – whatever their sociological differences – suppress every manifestation of independent working class activity in the most brutal manner.

*

Deadlock in Belgium After Close Election

The elections held in Belgium several weeks ago have resulted in a serious parliamentary impasse. Out of 202 seats in parliament, 110 have been won by the “left” parties, that is, the Social-Democrats, Stalinists, etc. This slender majority makes it impossible for any stable government to be formed. The powerful Catholic Party of the Right gained 19 seats; the Social-Democrats gained 4; and the Stalinists gained 14. The “center” Liberal Party lost 15 seats. In other words, there has taken place a polarization of political sentiment towards both left and right. The Catholic Party has tried to form a “Big Two” coalition with the Social-Democrats, but the latter have in turn refused to participate in a government without the Stalinists. Thus, the government formed without Catholic participation by Spaak, the Social-Democratic leader, fell in its first parliamentary test of confidence.

The situation is complicated by the issue of the monarchy. The monarch, Leopold, has such a tainted record as a collaborator with the Nazis that not even the Catholics propose to restore him personally. They hold out, rather, for a regency. The Stalinists and Social-Democrats, while formally against the monarchy, have not taken the logical step which should follow from an anti-monarchical stand: refusal to participate in cabinet maneuvers with the bourgeois parties.

It is precisely this ineffectuality and timidity on the part of the “left” parties which paralyzes the struggle in Belgium to overthrow the monarchy. The Belgian Trotskyists, who polled 1,100 votes in the one local region where they were allowed on the ballot, have been conducting an aggressive struggle to remove the decadent monarchical institution from Belgian life.

*

New Nationalist Tendency in Germany

The first fruits of the Allied policy of dividing, repressing and virtually starving the German people – while permitting many of the secondary Nazi leaders to maintain their posts – is appearing: a new nationalist movement has arisen in the American-controlled section. This quasi-Fascist movement has been partially discouraged by the occupation authorities, but its very appearance is of great significance. One of its main rallying points has been objection to the proposed separation of the Ruhr from the rest of Germany, which at present means virtual de-industrialization of the country. Especially popular has been the call for unification of all sections of Germany. It should be noted that even the Stalinists, in order to curry to this sentiment, have been forced to come out for a united Germany.

This is the concrete result of the policy of imperialist dismemberment which the Allies and Russia have pursued. Just as after the first world war the imperialist policies of the victors stimulated various nationalist and chauvinist groups, so similar reactionary groups have been brought forth by the present Allied policy.


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