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Japan Rejects League ‘Aid’

Imperialists Jockey for Position
U.S. Involved; Soviets Are Threatened

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 7, 13 February 1933, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Will Japan break with the League of Nations? Will the League go to the full extent of condemning Japan as the aggressor in Manchuria and recommending some form of action against Japanese imperialism? Or is this merely a sham fight to mislead the workers of the world into believing that the League is really an international organization for preserving peace and outlawing war?

The struggle among the robber imperialist powers is far from being a sham. In this period of capitalist decay, every capitalist country lights desperately to maintain and expand its markets and its economic power at the expense of every other country. Japan’s profound disturbance of the imperialist world’s balance of economic power in the Far East, its closing of the Manchurian frontiers to all but its own exploitation, arouses the greatest alarm among the rival imperialist bandits.

U.S. Takes Up Challenge

The direct threat to Yankee “influence” in China does not go unchallenged. The naval war maneuvers in the Pacific, the landing of troops in Hawaii, the charting for naval development of the Aleutian Islands with a view to attack Japan from the North to avoid her submarine bases, the discussions by U.S. army officers in technical magazines of the best methods of mobilizing and coordinating war industries – these are real enough moves towards war. U.S. pressure on the League applied by means of the lever of war debts, supplements the concern of the other great powers directly over their own exclusion from Manchuria, possibly from China in the near future, and also over the possibility of the breakdown of the League which would mean a threat to the Versailles Treaty and perhaps a new shuffle of the cards in Europe. The League’s action is, in this sense, dictated by a desire for self-preservation and for maintaining the status quo.

But is it possible for an imperialist war to break out between the U.S. and Japan while the Soviet Union is in existence? War breaks out whenever the ultimate, irrepressible economic causes find open and sufficient expression in immediate causes. The basic conflict of our epoch is that between the two economic systems, the capitalist and the Communist, systems of relations that cannot possibly continue indefinitely to exist side by side. The ultimate causes of war between the capitalist powers and the Soviet Union came into existence at the very birth of the proletarian revolution. Hitler in power in Germany will unquestionably precipitate immediate causes for this war. Already the German policy has changed with relation to Japan, a natural ally of Hitler in an anti-Soviet crusade, Hitler wants Japan to remain in Manchuria to be ready for invasion of the USSR. Hence, the German representative, von Keller’s opposition in the League to the proposal for a “neutral” body in Manchuria empowered to fix a time for withdrawal of Japanese troops, Just as at Shanghai.

The ultimate causes of war between the imperialists find expression in every daily newspaper. It is doubtful, however, whether the ruling classes of the capitalist nations will lose sight of their interests as a whole, as expressed in the absolutely fundamental antagonism to the dictatorship of the proletariat, to enter Into conflicts that inevitably are secondary and can wait. In any case, even if war broke out between the imperialist U.S. and Japan, their differences could be and would be patched up at once (for later resolving) in the event of an attack on the Soviet Union. The greedy calculating moves for greater advantage of the powers would not stop even during such a “holy” war, but would not only be all the more intensified.

The League, as the international mart for imperialist bargaining, is demanding its “price” from Japan for Manchuria. That price includes two guarantees: namely, that Japan halt where she is now without adding North China to her conquest, and that the Japanese generals must no longer “stall” in their implied promise to start the world conflagration by attack the Soviet Union. In that case there will be no break between the League and Japan.

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