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Trade Relations with the U.S.S.R.

(April 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 15 (Whole No. 111), 9 April 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The New York Times of March 19th carried a Duranty dispatch, reporting a front page headline in Izvestia, “Rumors about intention of the United States to recognize the Soviet Union.” The rumors are based upon statements emanating from London reading about as follows:

“It is stated here that certain circles in Washington feel that recognition of Russia may establish an equilibrium of forces in the Far East.”

And then, if these rumors should be confirmed, the first step would be “the sending of a commission to Russia to discuss a trade agreement.”

While this dispatch occupied a rather obscure place Walter Duranty is nevertheless known as one of those reporters who keeps his ear to the ground and is “wonderfully” well informed. It should not be understood in this case to mean actual possibilities of recognition. One need not put much credence is such rumors. But Duranty has proven his sagacity in representing the Stalin views as something entirely palatable to the capitalist interests and particularly to guard these interests in presenting the views. However, for the moment that is beside the point. Let us rather dwell for an instant upon the two questions of importance raised in the dispatch.

American Imperialist Aggression

  1. The question of possible recognition to establish an equilibrium of forces in the Far East.
  2. The question of steps following a possible recognition to discuss a trade agreement with the Soviet Union.

On the first proposition. Does the interest of the United States and of the Soviet Union in the Far East coincide, or even remotely suggest that sort of an equilibrium? Of course not. While both are opposed to Japanese aggression in China obviously it is because of entirely different reasons. The Soviet Union is opposed to Japanese imperialist aggression in China, not only because it may become a threat to its borders, but primarily because it is opposed to all imperialist aggression. The Soviet Union is the opponent of further partitioning in China and a friend and supporter of the revolutionary awakening, of the Chinese masses. This is not at all the case of the United States. As far as this most powerful and most reactionary imperialist power is concerned it has one main object in view in attempting to counterbalance the Japanese aggression in China; namely, to, as far as possible, reserve this field for its own ruthless advance to the exclusion of all others. It has its eye on a future Chinese market, in order to climb out of the crisis on the knuckles and bones of the Chinese workers.

It is with this aim in view that the United States endeavors to appear in the hypocritical role of the friend of China – as a “defender” of a defenceless nation. Once more it is attempting to extend its imperialist domain under the mask of being a champion of peace, while feverishly preparing its armed forces for war.

With this enormous difference of policy in the Far East of the United States and of the Soviet Union, how much more hypocritical must sound the rumors of recognition as a means of an equilibrium of forces. It is therefore much more necessary to call out to the American workers, and to the American Communist in particular, not to fall into the trap set by the pacifist “defender” of defenceless nations. The official American Communist Party has been carrying on a campaign of demonstrations against Japanese imperialist aggression in China. Naturally Communists are opposed to, and should fight against, the Japanese partitioning of China and the suppression of her people. But above all American Communists must tear this deceptive pacifist mask of the American imperialist aggressor. It is well for us to remember that the most powerful and most reactionary imperialist enemy is at home.

The Question of Soviet Trade Relations

The second important question intimated in the Duranty dispatch is the one of trade relations with the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly there are powerful American capitalist groups who turn their eyes toward the vast market in the Workers Republic; the same as there are powerful groups struggling against any relations whatever. In regard to the latter, we need only recall the recent demand made by a group of members of Congress for an embargo on all products of the Soviet Union. But to discuss this question it is necessary first of all to discard also in this instance any belief of possible overtures for trade relations as “peaceful overtures” even though they may here also carry the cover of a hypocritical mask of pacifism.

With the crisis growing in intensity it can be expected that the American imperialist will look for markets everywhere. Capitalism has no scruples. It will trade with the devil himself but will try to cheat him as all robbers do. In turning their eyes toward the Russian market these gentlemen do not for one minute fail to keep in mind their simultaneous effort to break down, if possible, its proletarian regime; to forge an armed ring around its borders. But this is precisely one more reason why the American workers should not only recognize their common interest with their brothers of the Soviet Union but in a most effective way fight for the protection of these common interests. The Soviet Union is compelled to rely on trade with the capitalist world. It needs credits in an increasing measure to continue to build its industries.

Demand U.S. Credits to the Soviet Union

American trade with the Soviet Union grew rapidly up until the end of 1930. From a figure, both export and import included, of $5,998,000 in 1923, to $138,785,000 in 1930. Due to lack of credits from the United States this figure dropped in 1931 to a total of $116,800,000. It stands to reason that only an extension of credits will again increase this figure.

Undoubtedly the first step for American workers to take to counter any mask of recognition as a cover for imperialist designs is to increasingly voice the demand for extension of large scale credits to the Soviet Union. Recently the official Communist party has become compelled to accept the Left Opposition slogan for such credits. But so far only in half-hearted manner. It should be made a live slogan.

It could be made so if the party would set to work seriously and begin an active campaign. We could well conceive of the first steps being taken through the calling of conferences throughout the country of all workers organizations, specifically including the A.F. of L. unions, and to place the proposals before them to demand the extension of credits. With unemployment pressing ever heavier upon the American workers, the prospect of increasing trade would be welcomed by them. A prospect of increasing trade with the Soviet Union, of American factories producing in increasing quantities for the Soviet market and of goods being shipped to help build the industry controlled by the workers there would have double effect here. It would powerfully emphasize the community of interests of the workers in both countries. It would thus also lay a more effective basis for actual working class defense of the Soviet Union in the present situation of ever growing war preparations. The Party should not delay in taking this step.

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