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Jack Weber

Social Democrats Come
to the Aid of Imperialism

(August 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 31, 2 August 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The most vicious of all war mongers have been and are the Social Democrats, and more particularly the émigré section.

In the period preceding the second World War, while Blum was still in the cabinet in France, there was a division in the ranks of the Second International between those who had already been driven out of power and into exile, and those who still served the bourgeoisie in official posts at home. The defeat of France ended this rift and united all the ousted ones in the holy cause of “anti-Hitlerism.” No longer was there a group interested primarily in maintaining the status quo for the sole purpose of holding on to their jobs. Now all became united in clamoring for American intervention to restore a past that has disappeared forever.

The worst case of all (if there can be a worst among such a wholly miserable crew) is that of Willi Schlamm now of the New Leader. This political clown, whose career has rung all the variegated hues and changes from right to left and back. again, literally foams at the mouth in his eagerness to see the United States jump into the war. In his book on the Second War of Independence he winds up by advocating that all those who oppose American entry into the war be placed in American concentration camps!

They Fear the European Proletariat

What, then, is the outlook of these social-patriots for the future? Surely they must have a worthwhile program for which men would be willing to fight to the death! Sad to tell, with all their mouthing of phrases in favor of democracy (capitalist style), every word they utter shows only complete consternation and fear in face of the future. These great “realists,” who look upon us as Utopians, demand not only intervention by Roosevelt against Hitler, but also against the working class of Europe after the defeat of Hitler! Their fear of the revolution is coated by moral talk against the policies of revenge that the masses will pursue upon the downfall of fascism.

Schlamm calls for the future policing of Europe by American imperialism, no less. Here is what he says in the July 26th issue of the New Leader:

“Before I can admit any chance for any kind of sane post-war reconstruction, I want to see NICE, SOBER, WELL-BALANCED COPS (his emphasis) all over Europe – the type of cops you can meet in New York and London. Friendly, humorous, unhysterical officers (a breed only the Anglo-Saxon nations have so far succeeded in producing) to whom anyone can turn with full confidence that the well-built chap will reliably wrest the gun from the hands of the madman who is waiting for you around the corner. Provocative as it sounds, and unpopular as it is – not before this sort of police has the continent under control (and for quite a time) will the world have any chance to talk sense with Europe.”

We do not quote Schlamm because he is exceptional in any way. He truly represents the Second International. Only he blurts things out in a crude and unpolished manner. The other Mensheviks learned the value of stating their politics in well-rounded idealistic phrases. But their outlook is no whit different. When they speak of a new League of Nations under capitalism, all they mean is a world dominated and policed by Anglo-American imperialism. And when they come down to cases, they must admit as much.

They Are Lackeys of Imperialism

But What then is the meaning of their “ideological” struggle, the struggle for democracy? Clearly they mean bourgeois democracy, the kind of democracy that distrusts the masses and keeps real power in the hands of the ruling minority. Without a capitalist ruling class to whom these wretches can sell their services, they can see no future. If the United States does not take-over. Europe after the war, then the Schlamms see nothing but blackness and chaos. Soviets, a Soviet United States of Europe? They call Utopian this, the only policy that can really save not only Europe but all civilization.

These reactionary bankrupts reveal their counter-revolutionary role in advance. If Hitler is overthrown, whom do the Schlamms then fear? Would not the European workers come to life at once and attempt to establish a working-class regime? Yes, and the Schlamms fear the workers as much as they fear Hitler. The Schlamms have long since lost all sense of class distinctions. They identify the proletarian revolution with Stalinist totalitarianism, Bolshevism with Stalinism. Fascism and Bolshevism are all one to these cretins who still call on the bourgeois-state for help despite all the experience of the past.

But, truth to tell, this type of confusion merely expresses their paralyzing fear of the working class. In advance they ask Roosevelt to take steps to crush any attempts at revolt on the part of the European working class. But how will Roosevelt gain control of Europe as against the workers? He must use the armed forces of the United States, consisting for the most part of workers. Schlamm forgets the lessons of the last war, the lessons of the attempts at intervention against the Russian October Revolution. We must remind the Schlamms of the experience of the American troops in Murmansk and in Siberia.

The past that Schlamm would like to see restored has definitely passed forever. Not the Second International will gain by the downfall of Hitler: the workers will not accept its restoration in power at the hands of new oppressors; nor the Third International. They will accept only that International which has complete faith in the ability of the workers to build the future civilization, to build the socialist society first and foremost by establishing the Soviet United States of Europe, the Fourth International.

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