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The Slogan of the Defense of the U.S.S.R.

(June 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 26 (Whole No. 122), 25 June 1932, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The sharpening world economic crisis has already passed over to a semi-open conflict between the imperialist powers, first in South America and then in Asia, and has now drawn into this orbit the fate of the Soviet Union, through the German situation, the Manchurian developments and the internal economic effects flowing from the contradictions. In such a trying period the defense of the Soviet Union must be of first consideration for every Communist. The Communist party has rightly considered it its duty to lead the struggle for the defense of the Soviet Union. But the leaders have left unanswered the question of how to defend the Soviet Union.

Since Stalinism has gained control of the C.I., and the Soviet Union the slogan of the Defense of the Soviet Union has been thrown around fast and furious. Day in and day out, in America, the slogan, “Defend the Soviet Union” rings in our ears. One would think, as if by magic, this slogan will throw a spell over the world and create an iron ring around the Soviet Union. But one only needs to remember: “We” can build socialism in one country “if” we can prevent intervention, and then we can understand why this slogan is used in such large doses. On the false basis of the theory of socialism in one country sprouted the misuse of the slogan, “Defend the Soviet Union.”

Propose of Slogans

Slogans are not abstractions above the ebbs and flows of the class struggle. To issue slogans for the establishing of Soviets after the revolution has turned its back or to issue slogans for the Soviet to seize power before the vanguard and the class are prepared, is to make a mockery of revolutionary slogans. Centrism and the Right wing have used this slogan year in and year out – because there is danger of intervention. In this same period the Soviet officials, including Stalin, have informed us that world Capitalism and the Soviet Union can exist peacefully side by side. The contradictory position of the C.I. and the Soviet officials flows logically from the wrong theory of socialism in one country.

Capitalism will never cease its struggle against the Soviet Union. The form of the struggle changes from time to time. In periods of economic war between the two systems, the constant use of the slogan converts it into so many hollow words, transforming sections of the C.I., from fighting units for the overthrow of their own capitalists, to auxiliaries to prevent intervention against the Soviet Union. In times when economic war is being transformed into open military war against the Soviet Union, the slogan, “Defend the Soviet Union” has meaning. Even then it will have to be concretized. Centrism has converted this slogan into a meaningless phrase.

To defend the Soviet Union one must know HOW to defend our fatherland. We all agree it cannot be accomplished the “socialist” way. The “socialists” issue the slogan, “Hands off the Soviet Union” and then the Second International’s representatives in the capitalist governments render full aid to the imperialists in their struggles against the Soviets.

Right & Centre Misuse Slogan

We must also realize, on the other hand, the Right and Centre wing of Communism in using the slogan, “Defend the Soviet Union”, and then turning around and advocating, opportunist or adventurist policies in China, in Spain, in Germany and the rest of the world are in words, but not in action, defending the Soviet Union.

Marxism is not distinguished from opportunism merely by abstract slogans. Slogans must have revolutionary content and be issued to fit the concrete situation. How could the Chinese workers and peasants defend the Soviet Union in 1926–27? How could the E.C. of the C.I. defend the Soviet Union in the Chinese Revolution? How could the world proletariat defend the Soviet Union in the Chinese Revolution? Not by repeating in prayer-like fashion the slogan, “Defend the Soviet Union”. The only way the Communists could defend the Soviet Union and all that goes with it was by pounding out and executing a Marxian policy in the Chinese revolution. The Right-Centre bloc failed in this task and persecuted and expelled the Left Opposition for advocating the only policy that could materially defend the Soviet Union and the World Revolution.

Scare Headlines on Manchuria

For over a half year the Daily Worker has presented scare headlines on the Manchurian situation with countless columns of news but not one Marxian analysis of its relation to the world situation. In the last two months the Japanese army has been advancing toward the borders of the Soviet Union. The danger from the side of Japanese imperialism has grown in the last two months. But the way the Daily Worker has handled this problem, the Communist followers’ consciousness has been dulled rather than sharpened.

An analysis of the process of Japanese consolidation in Manchuria, a necessary base for an attack on the Soviet Union: the relations of the East to the European allies and the events in Germany would keep the world proletariat informed at each step, enabling us to take the proper steps to defend the Soviet Union.

The defense of the Soviet Union cannot be satisfied by the slogan of: “Defend the Soviet Union,” To defend the Soviet Union one must concretize slogans for each. situation. For this purpose, one must approach the problem, not from the position of building socialism in one country, but from the position of the world revolution, from the standpoint of the Permanent Revolution, which also makes necessary the industrialization of the Soviet Union as rapidly as possible. A Chinese revolution, a Manchurian invasion, a Spanish revolution and a struggle for power with the Fascists in Germany calls for different methods, forms and slogans in order to defend the Soviet Union.

Civil War in Germany

When Civil War threatens Germany, when the C.I. policies in Germany need a complete overhauling when a Fascist victory in Germany will mean a direct threat of death hanging over the Soviet Union – the world-wide use of the slogan, “Defend the Soviet Union”, without a word or analysis, without pointing out the road to struggle is the best way how not to defend the Soviet Union, how to make a joke out of the slogan.

The Communist League of America, the Left Opposition stands in the forefront in the struggle for the defense of the Soviet Union by standing in the forefront of the international class battles, analyzing, pointing out and leading the way in the struggle for a correct Marxian line, within the Soviet Union and throughout the world.

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