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Breaking Point Approaches in North China
Conflict of Imperialist Powers

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 11, 22 February 1933, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the modern era of finance-capitalism, or imperialism, peace among the nations is merely a truce between wars. The truce is utilized by the future combatants to polish up and perfect the weapons of speedy death whilst eyeing the “enemy” from head to foot. The armed truce since the first World War is drawing rapidly to a close, the second world war looms darkly just ahead.

The first World War was preceded by the race for armaments, disguised half-heartedly now and again by “standstill” agreements that halted nothing. The stage is being set in exactly similar fashion for the Second World War: disarmament conferences that lead to ever greater piling-up of guns and munitions; mounting national budgets for armies and navies. Yesterday it was Japan with the largest military budget of its history. Today it is the United States with its three hundred million dollars for the navy alone. Secretary

Adams, in requesting this melon for the militarists, gives an account of the relative naval standing of the enemies, England, Japan and the United States; personnel, number of battleships, cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers, submarines. It was Lenin in his Imperialism who remarked:

“There can be no other conceivable basis, under capitalism, for the sharing out of spheres of influence, of interests, of colonies, etc., than a calculation of the strength of the participants, their general economic, financial, military strength, etc.”

Japan Reaches for North China

Not by accident is it that a decade nfter the first world war, which gave such a tremendous impetus to the development of her monopoly finance-capitalism, Japan reaches out for North China. Like German capitalism before the War, Japanese imperialists fear being left out in the cold in the exploitation of the rich earth through possession of colonies. Since in this century the world has been completely shared out, the Japanese can only come into possession of new territory by seizing it from some other possessor, in this case the Chinese. The Japs have coveted the Manchurian provinces since the Russo-Jap War. They viewed with alarm and increasing dismay the influx of Chinese immigrants that began in 1911 and reached such tremendous proportions in 1926. This, in conjunction with a shrewd gauging of the “opportune” moment from the point of view of the international situation, decided the Japanese generals to act before it became too late.

But this present action was prepared years before by the Katos and Tanakas with their Big Army and Navy programs which took definite shape about 1920. At that time the nationalist, imperialist Kobe journal, the Japan Chronicle, wrote:

“The great Navy is to be built solely that Japan may be able to do things on the Asiatic mainland and present them to the world as accomplished facts without running the risk of the Powers offering ‘advice’ such as they offered in 1895 regarding Liaotung. The expansion of the Navy is not for the purpose of being aggressive but for the purpose of deterring protest if aggressive action should for any reason be committed.”

This paper adds:

“Japan today is the third naval power in the world. She is, perhaps, the second military power. In combined naval and military force she is second to none. It is impossible to attain such a position in the world without being regarded with a certain amount of awe and apprehension.”

American Apprehensions

The apprehension of their American business rivals has indeed been aroused. Hence, the U.S. government gives tacit encouragement to American citizens not to buy Japanese silks, Mrs. Hoover ostentatiously takes to wearing cotton gowns, American merchants call in their credits from Japan, American banks refrain from granting loans to Japanese applicants, etc. Is it a shrewd guess to interpret the flurry in the Japanese stock market recently as the dumping of Japanese stocks and bonds by American holders? But these measures are not the major ones. The main steps are pressure applied through American influence and power in Europe, and – transfer for an indefinite period of the American navy to the Pacific.

The Balkanization of Manchuria goes on apace nevertheless, with Japan throwing its armies into Jehol. The League promulgates a verbose document of inanities whose meaning, as given by the diplomats themselves, amounts to informing China that she has the League’s permission to fight back the Japanese invasion. But Japan is insured how to taking “advice” from the League on Manchuria. Her big navy is proof against such “advice”!

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