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Jack Weber

March of Events

(26 October 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 44, 26 October 1935, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Division of Ethiopia

The imperialist robbers have evidently reached agreement on the proper share of the “white man’s burden” that each is to bear in Ethiopia. The inordinate ambitions of fascist Rome have yielded, in part to the never satisfied hunger of the British lion. The Lake Tana region of Ethiopia has been recognized by Mussolini as sacrosanct to English capitalism. The English can pursue their vast project in the Sudan and Egypt for the building of a cotton empire which shall render Great Britain free from all dependence on the United States as a source of this precious raw material. The success of this enterprise depends on absolute control of the waters that give fertility to the land, the waters that flow from Lake Tana into the Blue Nile. This was one of the major interests that Britain felt to be threatened by the Italian thrust into Ethiopia. While the gestures at Geneva continue out of sheer inertia and in order to present some sort of facade for a structure that has long since crumbled, the real imperialist “solution” involving arrangements among Italy, France and England has been achieved. The spoils having been divided, the growls of the English lion will subside. English diplomacy will now devote itself, as it has been preparing to do since the start of the present crisis, to casting all blame on France for the failure to stop the seizure of Ethiopia by the Italian army. This propaganda will also serve to merge into justification of a more and, more outright diplomacy of alliances in Europe. Already the writers are coining the phrase that will carry the gullible masses over to the new state of affairs. There will be not a League of Nations but Leagues of Nations. England will enter into such leagues to guarantee the peace in Western Europe, but not in Eastern Europe where “there will never be peace unless the nations there are left to work out their own salvation,” as Sidebotham writes in the London Times. How hypocritical this is can be seen in the methods adopted by English capitalism to leave alone Russia and the East of Europe. The British navy is being expanded at breakneck speed, the armaments and munitions plants belch smoke night and day. At the same time England aids Germany materially and diplomatically in its preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union. Everywhere on the continent England is planning carefully for the new and inevitable world war.

* * *

Forces in British Labor

The Brighton Congress of the Labor Party in England adopted a resolution on the war crisis as shameful as any of those adopted by the social democratic parties in 1914. This social-patriotic betrayal of labor through supporting the application of “sanctions” by the ruling class, puts to the test every real militant worker in England. A confused movement of opposition has developed against the misleaders who entice the working class into the steel trap set by imperialism. This oppositional movement is strung out ideologically speaking from the crassest kind of Christian pacifism to the clearest-cut revolutionary Marxism. The Socialist League under the leadership of Sir Stafford Cripps is not entirely pacifist as might seem at first sight. In its ranks there is developing a real current, a centrist current, of left socialism moving towards Marxism. If this League sticks to its guns, the very struggle against the Labor Party bureaucrats will push it further to the left. At Brighton there were signs of the possibility that the Socialist League might be expelled from the party. This would undoubtedly raise the question of fusion with the Independent Labor Party. The latter is the only party that has taken a clear-cut revolutionary position against sanctions and against British imperialism, despite its ideological shortcomings on Marxist principles. This very stand means the further drawing away of the I.L.P. from the Comintern with its social-patriotic program. Under the circumstances, by the very defense of its present course, the I.L.P. tends to throw off the clinging remnants of Stalinism and to begin to move more rapidly to the left. The Bolshevik-Leninists in this party, small as are their forces, begin to exert considerable ideological influence and to lend their aid in clarifying the international position of the I.L.P. Should the Socialist League be expelled and join with the I.L.P., its first influence would very likely tend to strengthen the centrists in the I.L.P. But the impetus given to the entire movement of the working class by a unification of militants, would lend prestige to the revolutionary vanguard in their fight to secure the adoption of a revolutionary Marxist program, that of the Fourth International. A unified party of this nature could not affiliate with either the Second or the Third International – by virtue of the very origin, of its being, since it would come into existence through opposition to the course of both these organizations of reformism. Hence the question of the Fourth International, whether Cripps and other centrists like it or no, would become a vital issue. Thus there is the bare possibility of far-reaching consequences for the English workers in the present struggle for and against sanctions.

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