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George Stern

On the War Fronts

(5 April 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 14, 5 April 1941, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Everybody knows that when Hitler speaks of “liberation” he means enslavement. Everyone knows his “order” and “peace” is chaos and war. Everyone knows his “promise” is always a conscious deception. But Hitler has no monopoly on this imperialist doubletalk. When Churchill, Roosevelt and their minions speak glitteringly about “freedom” and “independence” and “post-war adjustment” just what do THEY mean by these things? Last week Lord Halifax, the British ambassador, was in New York. He made a speech before the Pilgrim’s Society in which be spoke eloquently about all these fine-sounding propositions like the Rights of man and the free independence of nations. The next day, however, he made the mistake of facing a battery of New York reporters who tried to pin him down to some more concrete explanation of his terms.

In his replies, the British envoy gave a pretty good demonstration of capitalist squirming. One reporter asked if the Anglo-American “cooperation” of tomorrow meant abandonment of the Ottawa imperial preference system erected as a barrier against U.S. trade inroads into British imperial markets.” “I wouldn’t at all be taken as saying that,” the ambassador replied quickly.

Another reporter dwelt on the ambassador’s promise that in the post-war world “economic difficulties” would be ironed out. He asked the envoy “to point to a specific failure in world economic dealings which may be corrected in the future.”

“I think it would be unwise,” Halifax uncomfortably replied.

Another reporter quoted from the Halifax speech about “equal political opportunity for all peoples” and asked if this meant Britain was ready to free India.

“It is not possible to dispose of India in a sentence,” replied the former viceroy of India, adding that Britain still held to her promise to give India “dominion status” at some future time.

In this and in all the other embarrassing subjects brought up at the conference, the British ambassador showed a curious unwillingness to fill in the shadow outlines of his speechifying with concrete facts and names. He himself explained the difficulty:

“It is comparatively easy to lay down principles (but) the trouble may come when you come to the question of discussing with other nations how these general principles are to be applied.”

In other words, in “general principle” Britain is for freedom for India, world economic “adjustment,” freedom and independence for all. But when it comes to applying them, we always discover that Britain really means enslavement for India, continued anarchy in world economy, and continued subjection of the world to imperialist interests.

Hitler doesn’t fool anybody with his big words. But neither should Churchill, Roosevelt and Halifax. None of them is really talking about freedom for the people of the world. What they are fighting about is who shall be slave-master of the world. All the rest is propagandistic and diplomatic claptrap.

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Last updated: 3 November 2015