From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 16, 19 April 1942, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
By their refusal to accept any compromise or false agreement, the people of India have forced their leaders to put an end to the useless and treacherous negotiations that had been proceeding for three weeks with Sir Stafford Cripps, Churchill’s agent.
In the words of the Indian National Congress reply rejecting the British offer, the people of India have declared that, “The essential condition was freedom of India, for only the realization of present freedom could light the flame which would illuminate millions of hearts and move them to action.”
In a word, India demands its full right: complete and unconditional independence; the ousting of British rule in all forms; the creation of its own government. Nothing less than this will satisfy India’s 400,000,000 workers and peasants!
Mr. Cripps’ mission to India has failed! The people have spoken and have booted the unwelcome agent of Tory-imperialist Churchill out of their country. Their answer to the slimy scheme offered them with the aim of continuing the unwanted British rule was that
“The people of India have as a whole clearly demanded full independence and Congress has repeatedly declared that no other status except that of independence for the whole of India could be agreed to or could meet the essential requirements of the present situation ... the accompanying provisions and restrictions (in the British proposal) are such that real freedom may well become an illusion.’’
So now Sir Stafford Cripps – the vegetarian “Indian-giver” – has withdrawn (!) his proposal of “dominion status” for India after the war and is to return to London to report his dismal flop. His scheme for perpetuating India’s slavery proved to be another of current British “successful”, withdrawals and retreats.
But the failure of Cripps’ mission by no means has solved the problem of India.
On the contrary, it must be understood that the greatest crisis and the most crucial hour in the history of that nation now approaches. For the military dictators and imperialists of Japan stand poised, with great naval, air and military forces, at the very door of India.
Heralding an all-out effort to conquer India and replace British mastery with that of its own, Japan is undoubtedly shifting the bulk of its forces for an invasion of Ceylon and India. The danger to India is not remote; it is hammering at the door.
The reply of the already reeling and badly battered British to this threat is to deny the people the only thing that would arouse them to a fighting pitch – namely, complete freedom, with the desire to defend their own country, a country that really belongs to them. What could be more helpful to the imperialist ambitions of Hirohito?
Besides, it is clear that the British are in no position to offer adequate military resistance. Their navy has already suffered disastrous blows with the sinking of two heavy cruisers and one aircraft carrier; their naval base at Trincomalee is badly damaged; their air strength is vastly inferior to that of the Japanese.
To depend upon Britain to defend India can only bring the same unfortunate results that occurred in Malaya, in Hong Kong, in Burma, in Java, etc. – that is, Japanese victory.
If India is to be successfully defended it can be done ONLY by the people of India, the 400,000,000 themselves. They must take the defense of their country into their own hands, they must remove the stranglehold of British imperialism, they must organize their own organizations of people’s defense.
The time for such action grows very short, indeed. Once the invasion has begun on a large scale it Will be more difficult, if not impossible, for the workers and peasants to take the proper steps.
Yet it is here that we can see most fully the bankruptcy and treachery of their own leaders.
Gandhi, the conservative leader, has nothing to say to the people except to “offer non-violent resistance.” But such religious and moral “advice” will avail nothing. It can only facilitate the military task of the Japanese. It is a confession of impotence, a surrender in advance to the enemy.
Nehru, the friend of Cripps and the leader who undoubtedly came closest to signing a sell-out agreement with the British, announces that he “will not hinder the British military effort.” Instead of calling upon the people to act in their own behalf, to rise up in their own defense, every word and gesture of Nehru implies that India’s defense should be left to the British. This, in spite of all that has happened! It is no wonder that the American war press speaks with such favor about Nehru, Who, unlike the other nationalists, is not really against the British.
Yet it is not too late for India to both free itself from British rule and prepare its independent defenses against the Japanese. The working class revolutionists of that country are hard at work among the people, urging them to act immediately and to take the only possible steps that can lead toward success.
The slogan of the hour is: An Armed Militia of the People, made up of millions of workers and peasants fighting for freedom against Britain and Japan. No dependence upon British “defense”; no confidence in the conservative leaders; but independent revolutionary action on the part of the great masses. The fate of India within the next few weeks depends entirely upon what the people do.
Last updated: 2.6.2013