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Henry Judd

World Politics

(16 February 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 7, 16 February 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

After Gandhi’s Death

Gandhi has been cremated and his ashes scattered in India’s holy rivers. Hardly had this been completed than the struggle and regroupment in India’s internal politics, set in motion by his death, began. The first actions of the Indian cabinet, temporarily united over the popular issue of punishing his assassins and striking a blow at communalism and violence, were to arrest various fanatic leaders of the Hindu community who, it is obvious, were involved in a widespread conspiracy and plot to force an extreme anti-Moslem position on the Indian government.

The Cabinet outlawed all private organizations which had organized their own armies, and communal organizations (except the most notorious and influential of them, the Hindu Mahasabha, which can be easily understood if we refer to it as the KKK of India) based on religious “hatred and violence.” The effectiveness of such a decree is more than questionable, on many grounds. In the first place, the cabinet and government have stepped in to block and halt popular mass demonstrations that began against these communal organizations. When the workers and masses in India’s large cities, in their anger and indignation at the reactionary murder of the leading advocate of communal peace, attempted to destroy one of the leading sources of communal hatred, they were met with denunciation by Nehru, India’s Prime Minister, and often by police shots and violence when they attempted to take matters in their own hands. This is a now familiar story, particularly with weak and unstable governments attempting to establish themselves in power.

Furthermore, the entire conservative leadership of the Congress Party, known as the High Command, is closely linked up – and always has been – with Hindu communalism in general, and the Hindu Mahasabha in particular. This holds particularly in the case of 72-year-old Sardar Patel, the Congress political “boss,” whose anti-Moslemism is notorious. The investigation of the crime is being conducted in secrecy and little has actually been revealed, except that the net can easily be cast over men in the top and highest places in Indian life. We predict that only popular pressure and indignation will produce all that has been uncovered. The government will make every effort to calm matters down, proceed in secrecy and not raise too much dust. A popular demand of the hour would undoubtedly be for publication of all that is known.

Finally, behind the thin front of cabinet unity, the storm of conflict is clearly brewing. Gandhi, supremely skilled at reconciling all political tendencies within the Congress (particularly in bringing Nehru to heel at Patel’s feet!) is now gone. Nehru faces the supreme political test of his career – to remain the tool of Patel and his majority in the cabinet, or to proceed on his own! It is an issue of the extreme conservative, capitalist-industrial ruling Hindu class – which more or less knows what it wants and where it is going – versus a liberal, middle class intellectual and radical whose title of India’s High Priest of Confusion has been earned by many years of hard effort along such lines. Nehru is a minority in the cabinet, but a very popular face-saver for a collection of outright reactionaries. Will he capitulate and remain, or start a new opposition? No clear answer can be given to this, since much depends upon popular reactions to events, new alignments within the country, and the evolution of the present difficult economic situation. Gandhi’s death ended the Gandhi epoch of India’s history and began a new period whose characteristics it is much too early to see.


A Rump Germany

Deny it as it will, the action taken last week by the combined British and American military governments in setting up a bizonal economic administration for the two zones is nothing less than the creation of a rump Western Germany, a major step toward the splitting, of Germany as a whole. This action, expected since the end of the London Conference, creates an administration including an economic council and various other bodies having many economic powers. It will have no formal political powers, but, as the New York Times remarks, “... in a wrecked land where transportation, food distribution and finances are of the most urgent concern, those powers are great. Moreover, the economic administration has the form – if not the name – of a political regime.”

This step means that Western Germany (later to include the tiny French zone which will form a Trizonia organization as soon as the French have been sufficiently bribed by economic concessions from the Saar and Ruhr} is now substantially unified, under imperialist control, preparatory to its being fitted into the workings of the Marshall Plan and the economic projects for Western Germany contained in that plan. Forty million Germans are being organized by the Allies against their will, for an Allied version of “unification” – that is, split.

Is this a real step toward a re-united Germany? Both zones still remain under total control of the occupying powers and 6,000,000 Germans in the French zone, together with 20,000,000 in the Russian zone are to remain split off from one another and the new Bizonia. Furthermore, the various powers of the new administration are strictly subject to Allied veto or approval and in no way constitute the powers of a sovereign, independent administration or government. All these bodies, finally, are to be elected indirectly and will function in the shadow of the occupation authorities. This is a “unity” solely to facilitate application of the Marshall Plan, which requires a minimum of organization out of the current economic chaos if any progress is to be made. Even in its rump form, the Allies will find they are beginning a process which, in the future, others – the German people themselves – will remove from their hands and complete with a real unification of the country – that is, a unification that will end the split with the Russian zone and re-establish the sovereignty of the German people.

The Franc’s Ups and Downs

The drastic devaluation of the franc of France from a rate of 119 to the dollar to approximately 300 will have other effects than further encouragement of the American tourist trade. Already its stimulation to raise prices still higher (and, incidentally, the increased tourist trade will also be a price stimulus!) is shown by the fact that industrial prices rose 35 per cent in January, and food prices rose 9 per cent during the same month. The reason is obvious. Devaluation enables France to compete more equally in the foreign market, but imports of food and materials now cost more, since it takes so many more francs to buy the foreign currency with which to pay for these imports.

What is the French government aiming at with devaluation? The only solution to France’s economic difficulties lies in a greatly expanded productivity. But the government of Schuman and the Socialists does not look at it this way, nor can it. Its devaluation and currency manipulation aim to decrease purchasing power by wiping out a surplus of currency. Productivity for France is tied up with America, now the major supplier of French raw materials, imports of foods, etc. This means French economy is dependent upon the Marshall Plan, a plan not yet in operation nor likely to be for some time. The problem of the French government, then, is to hold on until the effects of the plan can be felt – thus the devaluation, which means increased prices and reduction of an already greatly reduced purchasing power so far as the workers are concerned. The Americans who go to France this year and receive 300 francs for each dollar bill should not be surprised at the undoubted cold and aloof reception they will receive from the French people, struggling between shrunken incomes and rising prices.

For most of them, 300 francs represent almost a full day’s work!

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