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Maurice Spector

The Danger of War and
the Defense of the Soviet Union

New Version of Social Patriotism as Deadly as Old

Fourth Int’l Only Guardian of Workers Fatherland

(2 November 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. 1 No. 45, 2 November 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Theodore Dan of the Russian Social-Democratic Party bitterly resisted the Soviet seizure of power. Otto Bauer of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party drugged the masses with poison of “constitutional” Marxism and confidingly took Dollfuss’ word for it that the latter was not plotting a counter-revolutionary coup d’etat. Jean Zyromski of the French Socialist Party lavishly scatters revolutionary phrases while supporting the expulsion of the Bolshevik-Leninists. Having thus brilliantly acquitted themselves in the class struggles of their several countries, these worthies in a thesis on Socialism and the War Danger jointly rally to the defense of the Soviet Union.

The International, they declare, meaning the Second International, must free itself from “traditional opinions.” It is common knowledge that the “traditional opinions” meant rattling the sword of “revolution against war” in the security of peace-time and docilely capitulating to the military budgets on the declaration of war. In 1914, says Bauer, “the International could not decide in favor of either of the two coalitions which were both composed of capitalist and imperialist powers, and the Socialist parties accepted a policy of National Union with their respective governments.” But the present danger of a war between two coalitions, one headed by Hitler Germany, the other including the Soviet Union, creates an entirely different situation. The amendments to the “traditional opinions” the thesis presents for the changed situation only prove that the more Bauerism changes, the more it remains the same, with this difference that in its pre-war manifestoes at least, the Second International at least, the Second International never did come out in support of “National Union.” In words at least, the pre-war pledges of the International threatened the imperialist war-mongers with a revolutionary crisis.

Defending the Soviet Union With Social Patriotism!

On their own candid admission, the motives impelling Bauer-Dan-Zyromski to flaunt their social-patriotic policy are the noblest, the most impeccable. “The interests of international socialism demand that German fascism shall he defeated. The interests of international socialism demand that the Soviet Union shall be victorious.” How is all that to be effected? By a revolutionary struggle against capitalism, and not against the war danger merely as some isolated phenomenon? By organizing the forces of the working class in the direction of the dictatorship of the proletariat? By registering the bankruptcy of the Second and Third Internationals whose policies and leadership were impotent to stem the tide of fascism? Do Bauer and Company urge the British Labor Party to fight for a government to establish socialism and not administer capitalism or the Socialist-Stalinist leadership of the People’s Front to quit collaborating with Herriot-Laval and organize the workers’ militia against the armed menace of La Roque?

Not at all. To appeal to the independent action of the masses was never the weakness of Bauer-Dan-Zyromski. As their signal achievements indicate, they are realists. To overthrow Fascism, promising their recruiting services in advance, they invoke the powerful aid of the peaceful and democratic imperialist powers associated in the League. The Comité des Forges, Schneider-Creusot, and Winston Churchill, these will make the world safe for the Soviet Union! But if you think we are going too far, let us quote: “In fighting against war, international socialism must support the governments of those countries which, saturated by the results of the last war, want to preserve peace” – as the British Royal Air Force is preserving peace beyond the north-west frontier of India. “International socialism,” they add, “must support the institution of the League of Nations ... In all countries allied with the Soviet Union, Socialists cannot and must not hinder the conduct of the war. They must appeal to the workers to do their duty as soldiers as well as in the war industry.” Compelled by the obvious realities to admit that the League is an instrument of imperialism, that the good Democracies are based on subjection of the proletariat and the colonial peoples, that the regional pacts are modern military alliances, they nevertheless cling to their main thesis that imperialism in military alliance with the U.S.S.R. is still hallowed.

Essentially the Bauer thesis urging the alliance of the working class with the capitalist state allied with the U.S.S.R., is the now familiar and treasonable position of the Stalin-Laval communique. Both declarations of policy serve as the basis for “organic unity” of the Second and Third Internationals. Unless the masses can be organized to resist the social-patriotic sophistry of Stalin-Bauer, they will be involved in a ghastly repetition of August 1914. The most tragic illusion of all is that the defense of the Soviet Union requires the betrayal of the working class independence in countries allied with the U.S.S.R. The Stalin-Bauer policy invites the defeat of both the Soviet Union and the international working class.

The one reliable ally of the Soviet Union is the international working class. But it is that ally that Stalin and Bauer with their social-patriotism are attempting to demoralize, systematically driving them into the camp of the rival imperialisms struggling for the redistribution of the world market On this point there can be no doubt. The whole policy of the People’s Front in France is directed to civil peace, class collaboration in preparation for the- coming war. The support of the sanctions policy of the League of Nations involves the proletariat in support of the governmental policies of the imperialist powers in the League. The Bauer thesis piously expresses the hope that the lessons of the last war “will inspire the working class of the world with the determined will to use a new war ... to overthrow the capitalist system.” The Bauer position will do anything but that. The fruits of the Stalin-Laval pact are already tragically apparent. The former communist and revolutionary ideology in the ranks of the Comintern is being supplanted by the ideology of liberalism, patriotism, and pacifism. The collaboration with the “remnants of bourgeois democracy” proclaimed by the Seventh Comintern Congress must inevitably sabotage any developing struggle for power, lest it undermine the military capacity of the bourgeois ally and appear to redound to Hitler’s advantage. Once educated in the Spirit of the “sacred union,” it is not easy to make a right about face at anybody’s command. Declaration of war will be followed by the suppression of all critical working class organization and press. The General Staff will rule. Bauer’s policy will never lead to the revolution; it can only lead to another Versailles or the complete collapse of civilization.

Ours Is the Policy of Lenin

To the social-patriotism of Bauer-Dan we oppose the only policy that can save the Soviet Union as a socialist state, the position of revolutionary defeatism in every capitalist country whether allied with the Soviet Union or not. Lenin advocated the defeat of Czarist Russia and the overthrow of the Kerensky Government regardless of the protestations and objurgations of patriotic socialists that defeat, revolution and a separate peace would betray the cause of Western Democracy and play into the hands of Prussian Militarism. Lenin and Trotsky were vociferously denounced as German agents. Their former slogan of “make the world safe for democracy” – the democracy represented by the imperialist Allies, – the socialist-patriots have now supplemented with the plea of the Defense of the Soviet Union. But this kind of “defense” must lead exactly to the same results as their 1914 defense of Entente democracy or “socialism” on the part of the German government-socialists. Social-patriotism had done its work so thoroughly that despite the terrible slaughter of the war and the subsequent chaos, in the victorious and vanquished countries alike, the proletariat was unable to overthrow the guilty ruling classes. “The working class,” Bauer-Dan write coolly, “were not able to overthrow capitalism when It was weakened by the World War; they are now threatened with the danger of having to go through the hell of a second World War.” If that is the case, it is thanks principally to the social-patriotic and treacherous doctrine and leadership of Bauer and Company in the last war.

Logic of Stalinism Predicted

The whole course of events which culminated in the Stalin-Laval pact and now finds expression in the Bauer thesis accurately verifies the consistent contention of the Russian Opposition that for the U.S.S.R. the most serious of all questions in connection with the war danger was the inner regime. The ebb in the tide of the post-war revolutionary movement nurtured the soil of the nationally disposed bureaucracy. Stalinism rationalized its position in the familiar theory of socialism-in-a-single-country, which by implication dispensed with the necessity of a revolutionary Communist International, since socialist construction was independent of the “state aid of the Western proletariat.” Accomodation with the “neutralized bourgeoisie” and maneuvering through the League of Nations realistically followed. To destroy the Leninist Opposition it was necessary to crush the party. The anti-Marxist policies of the Stalinized Comintern contributed decisively to the accession of Hitler. The sequel of it all was the defensive measure of the Stalin-Laval communique which directs a mortal blow at the remnants of revolutionary policy of the Comintern. Every defeat of the Western working class has in turn resulted in the strengthening of the bureaucratic reaction, to the point where its most perfect expression is the personal dictatorship of Stalin. A new world war in which the workers would fail to achieve their independence of both the Soviet and the Comintern bureaucracy, in which they would continue to take part as an ally of the imperialist governments would spell doom to the Soviet Union as a workers’ state.

The Two Roads

If the Stalin-Bauer policy leads to the calamitous repetition of August 1914, it criminally opens the door to the peril of imperialist intervention, not only from the direction of Hitler, but also from the “democratic” allies of the U.S.S.R. In the event of a protracted struggle and under the dictatorship of the most reactionary elements whom the imperialist war inevitably brings to the top, the “democratic” allies may turn openly fascist, concluding their own peace with their fellow-fascists at the expense of the Soviet Union. Even now, Laval’s collaboration with the Soviet Union is sufficiently precarious and feelers for a rapproachment with Hitler have been extended more than once. But if the proletarian revolution does not destroy Western imperialism, the Soviet Union will be subjected to the terrific pressure of world reaction. This and the exhausting demands of modern military operations would confront the Soviet Union with the peril of an internal bourgeois-Bonapartist attack on its social basis. In these circumstances it is in the vital interests of the defense and-preservation of the U.S.S.R. as a Workers’ State (1) to build up the new revolutionary Fourth International independent of the diplomacy of the Soviet bureaucracy, and directing its energies to the transformation of the impending world imperialist war into a civil war for international socialism; (2) despite the perilous difficulties involved, to make every effort to renew the Bolshevik party of Lenin by the organization of the Soviet section of the Fourth International, pledged to the unconditional defense of the U.S.S.R. but in the interests of that very defense to the unsparing criticism of everything in the war and diplomatic policy of the Stalin regime that is incompatible with revolutionary Marxism.

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