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Henry Judd

War in the Far Pacific

An Analysis of Japanese Aims

(May 1942)

From The New International, Vol. VIII No. 4, May 1942, pp. 111–114.
transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The first task of the moment is a sober statement as to precisely what has occurred in the War of the Pacific and in the imperialist camps themselves since the violent eruption of Japanese military-imperialism on December 7, 1941.

But even before that let us remind the reader of two important facts – namely, that the United Nations powers (then known as the ABCD countries) had calculatingly brought the Japanese infection to a head by their attempted policy of economic boycott, encirclement, and strangulation, and secondly, that Japanese imperialism had been marching toward brutal conflict with its main rivals since the 1931 Manchurian invasion. The war today is the inevitable inter-imperialist dash for Pacific hegemony and Asiatic colonial possessions.

Five months have resulted in sensational and unforeseen results; five months have underscored major revolutionary insights with respect to the character of the war; five months have forced the “Colonial Question” to the forefront with an acuity it has never before possessed.

(1) Japan has smashed to pieces, for the time being, the economic chain that had been forged around her. “A few weeks after her first stabs at us in the Pacific she was already within sight of self-sufficiency in the essential resources and raw materials of war.” (Edgar Snow in the Saturday Evening Post) The United Nations and particularly the United States find themselves in precisely the position they had wished to place their opponent. Japan’s food crop (rice) has been secured; adequate sources of chrome, wood pulp, hemp, coal, iron, rubber, tin, zinc, lead, etc., are in her grasp; the oil for her war machine is (assuming the ability to hold Java, Borneo and Sumatra) available in great quantity. We shall later deal with the highly important question of Japan’s ability to exploit her conquests. The essential point is that the blockade is decisively broken.

(2) The underestimation of Japanese strength along economic and military lines (an error which revolutionary Marxists themselves committed) has been overshadowed only by the gross overestimation of the power of the old imperialist empires. The effect of this double jolt largely accounts for the “low morale” of the United Nations and the emergence of independent Asiatic nationalism.

(3) Three Old World empires, hoary with tradition and fat with the accumulated blood and sweat of their colonial slave populations, have been either shattered entirely or severely jolted. France has lost its vital Asiatic possession (Indo-China); Dutch imperialism has lost not only its empire, but even the “Motherland” to the Axis powers; the monumental British Empire rocks ever more shakily on its decrepit knees.

The Allied Military Disaster

The full extent of the Allied military disaster can be realized by pointing to the following: In January 1941, The New International outlined the immediate program of imperialist conquest as planned by the Japanese high command: (a) Final occupation of Shanghai – achieved. (b) Occupation of Hong Kong and ousting of Britain from the Pearl River valley – achieved. (c) Seizure of French Indo-China – achieved. (d) Singapore-Malaya conquest – achieved. (e) The Dutch East Indies – achieved. In addition, the Philippine Islands or the most important islands of this archipelago are in Japanese hands.

Furthermore, Thailand (Siam) has been brought within the Japanese “Co-Asiatic Prosperity Sphere”; the important parts of Burma lie occupied; the supply road to China has been cut; a host of lesser strategic islands of the Pacific and South China groups have been occupied (Wake, Solomon, Andaman, etc.); New Guinea partially occupied; telling blows dealt Allied naval and military forces. Australia and India are threatened with invasion. Clearly, the Oriental wing of the Axis has gained far more out of its five months old war than its partners have gained in 30 months!

(4) Most important of all, the complete political and social bankruptcy of the United Nations has been laid bare not merely to their own peoples at home but, above all, to the scores of millions of colonial people. Anglo-American-Dutch imperialism proved incapable of rallying to its banner a single section or segment of the colonial masses. Conducting an imperialist war, the Allies sought to win (or hold their ground) only and solely on a military and imperialist basis. The Atlantic Charter, already proved to be a hypocritical fraud in the Atlantic territories of the world, was not even extended in the form of a “Pacific Charter.” Indeed, the very suggestion of such a formal gesture provoked the utmost resistance!

A Bankrupt Policy

Furthermore, the “democratic” imperialists persist in assuring us well in advance that their future policy will be as bankrupt and impotent as their past. The objective of the proposed offensive against Japan, we are informed, is to re-establish the status quo. That is the sole “perspective” offered the world – a return to the past, a continuation of the old system.

(5) And lastly, the Pacific War has brought the “Colonial Question” sharply to the fore. One of the prime distinctions between the First and Second World Wars is the concrete posing of this problem in the present war. Only now has the colonial world itself been directly dragged into the struggle between the camps. Now the war stands at the gates of the world’s greatest colony, the sub-continent of India (untouched in the last war) with its 385 millions. In its dying stage, world capitalism struggles for the wealth and resources of the colonies in a direct and immediate sense, thus further testifying to its inner crisis and desperation.

So much for the results and problems uncovered by five months of Pacific warfare. Naturally, the military disasters of the United Nations have occupied the role of primary importance. For this reason it is necessary to ask the question, Why the defeats? The answer to this question is probably the reply to a corollary question: Can the United Nations reconquer the lost territories?

A variety of reasons, all of them with a varying element of truth, but all distinguished by the same superficially, have been given. But the “democratic” bourgeoisie must shun the basic and real truth because it cannot reveal its lack of a social and political program for the Pacific. So, the explanations vary from “British stupidity” to “Singapore mentality” to “Japanese treachery” to “lack of airpower” to “failure of co-ordinated action” to “weakness of reserves,” etc., etc.

Unfortunately, these are not explanations, they are descriptions. Each “explanation” leaves the question unanswered and only raises the additional question, “Why the Singapore mentality,” “Why the failure of co-ordinated action,” etc. All are equally pitched on the military plane, all ignore the rôle of the colonial masses in the territories involved, all assume only the existence of numerically insignificant white-imperialist troops (backed by small units of privileged native forces) and pose the entire problem around the military effectiveness or ineffectiveness of these foreign divisions.

The One-Trip Specialists

If we had only had thirty more flying fortresses over Java, wails the newspaper PM. A few hundred more tanks in the Malayan jungles would have done the trick, complain the bourgeois journalists. Edgar Snow, a man who knows the Far East more thoroughly than a thousand Zugsmiths, Randaus and other one-trip specialists, riddles this absurd concept.

“Even if we could mass superior naval and air power on all Japan’s far-flung frontiers, would it be enough to overcome an enemy winning his battles on the land? Against us the Japanese had five to six million men trained and ready for mobilization. The indications are that they must have activized, if not already deployed in battle areas, some 3,000,000 .... Where are we going to find 3,000,000, or even 1,000,000, Occidental troops to keep Japan away from our last-ditch bases in the Orient – from which we must later launch a counter-offensive?”

Snow hints at the heart of the question. Whenever faced by superior military forces (and Japanese imperialism has every advantage in this respect over the “democratic” imperialisms), the United Nations are doomed to defeat unless they succeed in mobilizing (in action, in military action) the only force in the Pacific that can give them military superiority – the colonial peoples. It is this failure, this total and utter failure, that alone suffices to explain the past four months. For today we must recognize a decisive lesson of the Pacific War: namely, the inner bankruptcy of the Tory-imperialist ruling class of the British, Dutch and American powers has reached such a stage of political and moral decadence that it has attained an independent and specific weight of its own. In particular, the decline of the British Empire is no longer an abstraction – it is written in the surrender at Hong Kong; the fiasco at Singapore; the crisis in Australia; the stalemate in India.

The “democratic” bourgeoisie has recognized, after four months, that it is impossible to ignore completely the political and social problems of the Far Eastern War. To do so would only mean to deepen and extend the series of unbroken defeats. Therefore, realizing the critical nature of the situation, the United Nations, headed by the United States, have come forward with various “solutions” and “proposals” aimed at arousing the support and enthusiasm of the colonial masses. These propositions, constituting an effort to come to terms with the native bourgeoisies of the respective colonies, seek to create the illusion of a genuine transfer of power to the people, without arousing or stimulating their independent action. This is the objective of the Cripps, the Chiang Kai-sheks, the Johnsons, etc. All such plans, however, are either doomed in advance or – at best – will be acceptable to small and indecisive segments of the population. None offer the only acceptable proposal: liberation and self-determination now; an ending of imperialist exploitation today.

Ineffectiveness of Allied Propaganda

The deterioration of United Nations prestige and of “white” influence in the Asiatic world has gone much further than the “democratic” leaders will admit. It is only necessary to cite the recent experience to prove this point. Let us take three examples, Malaya, Java and Burma, as evidence: (1) In Malaya the colonial population of Chinese, Tamil Indians and Malayans were oblivious to Allied propaganda and its appeals. All authorities admit they maintained a cool neutrality (even the pro-Kuomintang Chinese) and lifted not a finger to help defender or invader. (2) In Java the attitude of the 45,000,000 Javanese appears to have been openly hostile to the “doughty Dutch,” without becoming overtly pro-Japanese. Refusal to obey orders, open contempt for the imperialist authorities, envelopment of the United Nations troops in an atmosphere of ill-concealed hostility, etc. Such are the meager reports of the fleeing Dutch. (3) In Burma it must be recognized that anti-British feeling among the Burmese reached the stage of positive action, particularly among the masses of Rangoon and in the Irawaddy district, where the 1931 peasant insurrection was so cruelly crushed. A section of the Burmese people – deceived by demagogic Japanese propaganda; thirsting for revenge on their ancient tormentors, the white imperialists; and under the influence of the historically backward Burmese nationalists – have openly sided with the invaders. The Japanese succeeded in organizing independent Burmese forces to fight by their side against the British, Indians and Chinese. Thus, the only action to date of the colonial masses, or a section thereof, has been favorable to Japanese imperialism! This undeniable fact should be of the deepest significance. It is the net product and result of “democratic” imperialist rule in Asia.

We are thus forced to draw our first important conclusion. Given the present disposition and relation of military forces (that is, the admitted superiority of the Japanese in this field), and given the historic inability of the United Nations to rally the colonial peoples to their side through a freedom-arousing political and social program of liberation, the United Nations can only enjoy an unbroken series of defeats. Only the achievement of military equality can halt the Japanese advance; only military superiority could bring about the offensive.

What Is Japan’s Real Strength?

The fruits of capitalism, instead of falling down through society, were concentrated in the Mitsui, the Mitsubishi and the other great family interests that controlled about half of the nation’s industry and trade. (Fortune, February 1942)

We have mentioned above the serious underestimation of Japanese strength of which all analysts have been guilty. Upon what was this error based? What is the real strength and capabilities of Japanese imperialism? And, above all, can Dai Nippon, the Empire of Japan, establish its imperial rule in place of the empires it is tumbling into the dust? Is the estimation of Japanese capitalism given at the Founding Conference of the Fourth International correct – namely:

“Insular Japan, in the era of the twilight of capitalism, proceeding from a weak economic base, is debarred historically from achieving the imperial destiny of which her ruling classes dream. Underlying the imposing facade of Japanese imperialism are fatal organic weaknesses which have already been aggravated by the military conquest of Manchuria. The resources of Japanese capitalism have been proved inadequate for the task of empire building”?

Bearing in mind that the Japanese ruling class has succeeded in concealing the true state of affairs in Japan perhaps more successfully than any other ruling class of the world, let us try to accurately re-state the nature of Japanese imperialism.

Japan is an advanced, capitalist-imperialist nation – the last to emerge on the world scene. Because of the failure of its capitalism to come to power as the result of a bourgeois-democratic revolution that would sweep away the decisive elements of Asiatic feudalism, the economy and state regime of Japan is overlapping and combined. That is, its decisive industry is modern, monopoly-finance capital (the “Two Families”), with an enormous remnant of primitive and backward handicraft, home and village industry. Its agrarian population, upon which rests the preponderant burden of the wars conducted by the generals, is not feudal, but rather a smallholding, pauperized peasantry. The Japanese political superstructure is a unique and confused one, reflecting not only the combined character of its rotten base, but also the various cliques and groups that struggle within its shadows for supremacy: the finance capitalists, the military and naval castes organized into the secret societies, the fascist (in the European sense) elements, the bourgeois democrats, etc. The superstructure is extremely unstable and its contending elements (primarily the finance capitalist-imperialists against the generals-officers caste – the Samurai) can only succeed in a momentary unification around a program of external wars of colonial conquest. [1] The periodic violent outbreaks reveal these deep-going inter-ruling class fights.

Organic Weakness of Japanese Economy

The organic weaknesses inherent in Japanese capitalism have made its life span particularly violent and explosive; have driven it to a continuous series of wars since the first Sino-Japanese war in the 1890s; have driven it far along the road of economic autarchy and political totalitarianism. These weaknesses and contradictions are primarily four in nature: (a) Necessity of seeking all vital raw materials beyond its natural frontiers (Japan, up to 1941, had to import 80 per cent of the twenty-five strategic raw materials listed by Fortune as necessary for modern war; one-half its copper, zinc, tin and scrap iron had to be imported; one-fourth its pig iron; one-third its aluminum; three-fourths of its iron ore; 90 per cent of its lead and all its mercury and nickel). (b) A weak economic base at home, lacking heavy industries (iron and steel, chemicals, etc.). (c) A dependency on its export trade abroad out of which to accumulate profits to purchase the needed raw materials. (d) An inability to accumulate surplus capital with which to develop and exploit foreign conquests and for foreign investment.

In order for Japan to survive at all it was necessary to take certain measures, both industrial and political, to overcome the weight of these initial handicaps. It is our ignoring of the important industrial changes that largely accounts for the underestimation of Japan’s power. These changes have been proceeding roughly since the last war:

  1. A shift from agriculture and light, consumers’ goods industry to heavy industry (iron and steel, munitions and ship building). Unfortunately, no figures are available on Japanese industry since 1937, so that it is only possible to report this trend. But, for example, Japan entered the war with a merchant marine of five to six million tons (the NYK Line alone had over one million tons of shipping) and a modern, fast, oil-burning fleet of freighters. It is apparently capable of producing one million tons annually at the Yokohama and Kobe shipyards for replacements of shipping losses. Japan manufactures about 400 to 600 planes a month. As an indication of the conversion to a war economy, Fortune cites the fact that the annual total of producers’ goods (machinery, metals and chemicals) increased two and a half times between 1930 and 1939; while production of consumers’ goods (textiles, gasoline for private use, etc.) fell correspondingly.
  2. By a system of rationing of fuel, food (rice), textiles, leather, etc. Japan has reduced living standards to its barest essentials, for many years. Concurrent with this, stock piles of vital raw materials have been carefully built up (with the blessing and assistance of American, Dutch and English business men!) over a 10-year period. Groves formerly given over to the silk mulberry tree have been converted into grain fields while scores of thousands of workers in the Osaka textile and cotton mills have been shifted to various phases of war production. In the totalitarianization of its economy, Japan had a long start over its rivals!

Japan’s Secret Societies

Politically, the drive and impulsion needed by an imperialist class anxious to expand at all costs has been given by the secret societies and military castes that now fully dominate the life of the country. These groups and cliques – shot through and through by narrow ambitions and intrigues; seeking to preserve the independent position and traditional privileges of the ancient feudal institutions from which they have descended – these Samurai societies of “God-Sent Troops,” “The Black Dragon,” “The Young Officers,” “The Blood Brotherhood League,” etc., nevertheless have a contemporary and positive role to play. They are not merely feudal hangovers!

That rôle can be accurately described as equivalent to that of the Nazi Party in Germany – comparable not in methods, but in objectives. These societies as a whole constitute a Japanese fascist ersatz; an Oriental-Asiatic version of European fascism. They seek to dominate and direct the life of the country (its social life and the education of its youth) along the proper totalitarian lines; they seek to compromise (by whatever means necessary – peacefully or violently) the disputes and conflicts within the ruling class for the general advantages of expansionism; they seek to give Japanese imperialism a consistent, clear and historic program, a plan of conquest; they operate as a “centralized state within the Japanese state.” Just as Japanese capital is highly concentrated, so state power and control is highly concentrated in their ruthless hands. The pitiful effort of former Premier Konoye to institute a fascist state apparatus more closely resembling that of Italy and Germany (Shintesei) had to be abandoned precisely because the needs that such a “new structure” might serve are already being carried out. A large share of initial Japanese success is due to the success of these reactionary groups in canalizing and concentrating the nation’s energies behind their sinister schemes.

So much for the reasons behind Japan’s ability to momentarily overcome its fatal inner weaknesses. But what of its future? Will this hold true then? In a word, can Japan achieve its dreamed-of Asiatic Empire; its Co-Prosperity Sphere; its unification of Asia under one roof?

The Newly-Acquired Resources

Our answer is a categoric No, but not for the reasons that are most commonly advanced, namely, overwhelming military and naval defeat by the United Nations. It is not our task to engage in military prophecies concerning the war between Japan and the United Nations. But the question of Japan’s possibilities must be carefully considered. To begin with, it would appear to superficial observation that Japan has already gained more than the material prerequisites for the upbuilding of a great empire. In the conquered lands there rests 90 per cent of the world’s natural rubber supply and 75 per cent of its tin; an oversupply of rice and tin; copper, iron, manganese, timber and rope in the Philippine Islands; zinc, oil and lead in Burma; nickel mines in the Celebes; gold, aluminum, iron, quinine and more oil in Java, etc. Says a New York Post writer (March 11): “Fabulous quantities of other items such as coal, wool, hides and skins, chemicals and hemp are produced in the conquered lands.” All of Japan’s raw material requirements are apparently well taken care of.

But obviously the matter is not so simple. In the first place, Japan faces an inevitable counter-attack which will seek to recapture these regions. Here the Japanese have a political weapon in their hands – or, more accurately, the imperialist policy of the United Nations has placed it there. Namely, the dread and fear of the colonial populations against a return of the old, despised Dutch, French and British white rulers. Let no one think for a moment that demagogic Japanese imperialist policy will not seek to frustrate military counter-attack by gaining the support of a substantial section of the population. It will play on every open and hidden fear of the masses against their former masters; it will make every necessary temporary concession to the colonial bourgeoisie; it will utilize every demagogy to secure a base in the population. Already, we can see this process in Malaya, where the Japanese are reported as attempting to establish the Malayan minority as the favored race over and against the Chinese and Tamils. It is clear that the road back cannot possible be as rapidly and easily traversed by the United Nations as the road forward was traveled by the Japanese forces. The Allies, by their past reputation and their failure to propose colonial liberation in case of victory, have played into the hands of their opponents. The Japanese attack, based on the lying slogan of “Asia for the Asiatics,” will be replaced by the slogan of “Asia must remain with the Asiatics” in an effort to fend off the counter-attack.

Can Japan Erect an Empire?

But even if Japanese militarism should succeed in beating off the counter-attack of its rivals, we would still reply No to the question; Can Japan erect an empire to replace the old, defeated empires?

  1. All of Japan’s needs will not have been satisfied. Such manufactured goods as machine tools, special steels, industrial and explosive chemicals, automotive and aircraft parts, iron and steel semi-finished products, completed machinery, ball bearings, transportation equipment, etc. (all needed either to prosecute the war and/or necessary for the exploitation of the conquered territories) are still not available to the victors. They do not exist in the conquered territories, which are raw material producing areas. Only in the great Nagpur-Chota plateau of India (producing one and a half million tons of finished steel and two million tons of pig iron) can Japan reach a section of the colonial world that has a substantial iron and steel output from its hearths.
  2. The conflicts and disputes within the Japanese ruling circles, momentarily submerged by the early victories, will and are emerging with renewed force. The military castes (anxious to continue the expansion, their appetites growing with the eatingl) will clash with the finance-capitalists and the merchants (anxious to settle down and exploit with profit the huge territories already gained). Even within the ranks of the military circles there are already disputes between those who would continue the advance and those who would go over to “consolidation and building up the defenses.”
  3. The most important and basic reason militating against the imperialist success of Japan lies in the character of its colonial exploitation. Japanese imperialism bears a far closer resemblance to the early merchant and industrial imperialism of England and Holland (both of which sought to achieve a primitive accumulation of capital at the expense of the colonies in order to industrialize at home), than it does to modern finance-capital imperialism.

This fact, proven most significantly by the great failures in Korea and Manchuria (see The New International, January 1941), flows from the already mentioned inner weakness of the Japanese system and especially its inability to accumulate surplus capital for development. Japanese methods in action more closely resemble those of the 18th century East India Company. “Theft, bribery, confiscation, taxation – every conceivable method of squeezing money and goods out of the inhabitants ...” Or, “the mock majesty of a bloody scepter and a little traffic of a merchant’s counting-house, wielding a truncheon with one hand and picking a pocket with the other.” These descriptions of the East India Company’s activities in India hold equally true for the methods of the Japanese set-up economic units that have operated in China and Manchuria and now prepare for further action in the newly-occupied areas. Open plunder and robbery, stripping the land of its surplus stocks and goods – these are the primitive techniques of the Japanese merchants, exporters and bankers.

Difficulties of Conquest

It is precisely this which explains its inability to establish a fairly stable system of imperialist rule over its colonial dominions either in China or Manchuria. The Japanese system of naked robbery only breeds economic and social chaos; destroys the existing native industry (as has already happened in China); plunges the exploited land eventually into a misery even unknown to the Oriental world and produces an atmosphere of hatred against the invaders (particularly among the despoiled peasantry) that must have its revenge. To put the matter more simply, Japanese imperialism experiences great difficulties in taking advantage of and utilizing its material and territorial conquests. It cannot develop them properly and thus can only lower the already dreadful living standards of the colonial peoples.

Furthermore, whatever is gained through the system of outright plunder, goes to the never-ending needs of the Japanese war machine. In the manner of every other ruling class today, the Japanese imperialists warn the people of a “long war,” a “war that has just begun.” To the masses, this means no alleviation of their present restrictions and shortages, despite the great successes; a continuation of the rationing system into the indefinite future. What avails the conquests if they cannot be exploited for the benefit of the Japanese masses? The people of Japan will learn that the adventures of imperialism benefit solely the ruling classes and the reactionary officers’ castes. Ten years of wars in China and Manchuria brought only lowered standards; the promises of the new conquests hold out no hopes for a halt to this tendency.

This brings us to our second major conclusion. In the period of permanent capitalist-imperialist crisis and decline, and given its inherent contradictions, Japanese imperialism cannot successfully erect an empire. Its historic role is purely negative (to undermine the old empires); purely reactionary (to plunder and depress more deeply the colonial world). In destroying the state-exploitive apparatus of the old imperialisms, Japanese imperialism (unable to evolve its own state apparatus) unwittingly calls into being great social forces among the colonial workers and peasantry that will ultimately defeat the objectives of all imperialisms.

The Role of the Colonial Masses

The burdens of both (Japanese) workers and peasants are being increased unbearably by the war. More than 30,000,000 Chinese in Manchuria await the opportunity to liberate themselves from the Japanese yoke. Another 21,000,000 Koreans and 5,000,000 Formosans strive for their independence from Japan. All these factors constitute the Achilles’ heel of Japanese imperialism and foredoom it to destruction. Such military victories as the Japanese army is able to win ... have only an episodic importance. The first serious reverses ... will become the starting point of social and political explosions in Japan and in the territories of Manchuria, Korea, Formosa, etc. (Thesis of the Fourth International)

But the colonial masses will not permit the departure of the old tyranny merely in order to welcome it back again, in a new guise. They will not permit this any more than they will welcome back the old regimes.

Fascist imperialism may attempt to make its peace with the colonial bourgeoisie by setting it up as its “Quisling” administrative and political agency; “democratic” imperialism may attempt to bargain with the same colonial bourgeoisie and dangle an ephemeral “dominion status” before its eyes, but only real power can move the Asiatic masses. This is why the interminable negotiations and maneuvers of the Chiang Kai-Sheks, Crippses, Boses, Nehrus, etc., although significant phenomena, are symptomatic of the cross-conflicts between the imperialist powers and the weak, historically inept native bourgeois classes of Asia. One real, independent step on the part of the colonial people would wipe out with a blow the present stage of “negotiations.” But such a step, unfortunately, has yet to come.

It is around this question of independent colonial action directed against all imperialism that we can discern well in advance the rôle that all the powers will play in the Pacific War. Its objective, to paraphrase Colonel Knox, is restoration of the status quo ante, with proper American supervision over the recaptured colonial areas.

But American imperialism will not hesitate to conduct, if need be, a directly counter-revolutionary war against the Asiatic peoples themselves. That is to say, American imperialism has, with respect to the colonial masses, the same unholy fear of a nationalist uprising against imperialism that Japan or any other imperialist power has. It is only necessary to recall such incidents as the Chinese Boxer Rebellion, the Indian soldiers’ mutiny in Singapore in 1915, the Javanese revolution of 1926 – in which events white imperialist troops fought against the colonials, side by side with the Japanese – to remind the reader of the basic fact that all imperialisms alike will temporarily bury their differences in order to crush the greater menace, the evil all fear alike: the independent colonial revolution of the people themselves. American imperialism fought the Boxers; American imperialism fought the Chinese nationalists in the 1925–27 upsurge. It is this knowledge that made the people of India as cool and skeptical toward the visit of the American Commission to its country as it was toward the visit of Cripps.

The colonial peoples represent one of the great potential source of independent “Third Camp” action against imperialist war and for the establishment of a socialist peace. Whether this action begins by the elementary movements of the people preparing to defend themselves against encroachments by an Axis power or a “democratic” imperialist power; or whether it starts with the organization of a guerrilla struggle and peasant risings against the dominant power; or whether it is a political upsurge that raises the colonial masses high in their demand for a Constituent Assembly, democratically elected and representatives of the people – it is necessary for international socialists to support these tentative but powerful beginnings of a socialist Asia.

For – and here we draw our final conclusion – the perspective offered by either of the struggling imperialist camps is equally bankrupt. One side, politically and socially bankrupt, speaks and acts only in terms of the past; the other side, politically, economically and socially bankrupt, speaks and acts only in terms of the imposition of a new, more intense imperialist terror. Resurgent Asiatic nationalism, the march of the Asiatic colonial peoples toward national liberation and socialist revolution, has the only bright future.


1. The cult of the Emperor as God is, of course, the symbolic method by which the contending factions unite, for benefit of the public gaze. This cult is less than 100 years old!

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