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Harold Roberts

Britain Seen Yielding on Russian Pact

Full Alliance Near; British Seek to Bar German-Soviet Pact

(May 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 36, 26 May 1939, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

After weeks of fruitless maneuvering, the Chamberlain government was coming reluctantly around this week to acceptance of the Soviet proposal for a full military alliance between Britain and the Soviet Union.

In a Commons speech last Friday Chamberlain made another pathetic appeal to Hitler to show some sign of goodwill that would make it unnecessary for Britain to enter into a pact with the hated Russians.

Hitler did not deign to reply. Instead the signing of the Italo-German military alliance was staged amid much pomp, military display, and assorted threats to all enemies or potential enemies of the Rome-Berlin axis.

Reasons for Fact

This, together with strong pressure from within the British Conservative party, was leading the British umbrella man rather sorrowfully to the altar for the unholy marriage with Stalin.

The British will enter this pact for two [sic!] reasons: (1) it will cramp, at least temporarily, an attempt at a German-Soviet understanding; (2) it will enable them to create the vitally necessary eastern front when war does break out. (3) It will provide them with an additional diplomatic weapon in the continuing effort to extract some kind of “appeasement” settlement out of Hitler.

The British signature on the projected pact would be worth just about as much as the British promises and assurances, formal and informal, written and oral, to the Austrians, the Czechs, the Jews, the Arabs, and to all the other peoples and governments the British have used so ruthlessly in their fight to preserve the loot of the British empire. If the Russians actually have any illusions on this score, they are due for some rude shocks in the coming months, assuming the pact becomes a fact.

”Peace Front”

As the war line-up takes shape, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the war propagandists to continue handing out the old line of boloney about the conflict being one between democracy and dictatorship, between “free” nations and “totalitarian” nations. The New York Times, which in its quiet, authoritative way leads the whole pack of war hounds, pointed out on Sunday that the “peace front” was not a compound of “pure” democracies. (See editorial on page 4.) Next day Anne O’Hare McCormick, foreign affairs commentator for the Times, was also bold enough to write:

“As a test of ideologies, events in the past two months have proved that the barriers between systems are easily jumped when fundamental national interests are imperilled. National Socialism merely uses deadlier weapons to push forward the old German ‘drang’ (drive). At the scratch, Hitler is no more racist than the Kaiser. All nations are primarily concerned, as they always were, either to save what they have or to acquire what they haven’t.”

In other words, it is admitted here that the war in preparation is not a war over “human rights” or “civilization” or “democracy” or any of the rest of that meaningless bunk, but a cold-blooded war over dollars and goods, markets and profits, machines and the labor power of colonial slaves.

But this sudden rash of frankness is designed not as an argument against war but to provide hack propagandists of the war machine with new formulas for covering over the total absence on either side of what the Times so coyly calls “pure democracy.”

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