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Jack Weber

Stalinists and the Question
of Aid to the Soviet Union

(September 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 37, 13 September 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Stalinists and Aid to the USSR

From the very start Roosevelt has felt perfectly free to draw a sharp distinction between aid given to “democratic” England and aid given to Soviet Russia. Aid to England is given in accordance with the lease-lend act, which means without any expectation of payment, now or in the future, except in the exaction of imperialist advantages. Not the slightest move has been made by the President to have Congress include Russia in lease-lend aid. On the contrary, he has expressly announced that all aid would be “sold” at market prices.

The Stalinists wax loudly indignant at this treatment of the USSR by Roosevelt. They make “demands” on “their” government that this discrimination cease and that all-out aid be shipped at once in every form to the USSR. To make this demand the Stalinists naturally found it necessary to change their attitude to aid for Great Britain. Now they always couple the two together. After all, they feel, if they make no distinction between aid to one and aid to the other – why should the U.S. government do so?

Stalin gave aid to the Spanish Loyalist government in the same way that Roosevelt proposes to give aid to Stalin. The analogy is quite exact in two ways. First of all, Stalin forced the loyalists to pay heavily in gold for the munitions so badly needed. Secondly the loyalists were blackmailed into making tremendous political concessions to get aid at all. There is even another aspect to the analogy; namely, that Stalin waited with his aid until it became clear that the Popular Front Spanish government would actually put up some kind of fight and not succumb in short order to the fascists.

Roosevelt-Churchill are doing precisely this same thing with respect to Russia. Stalin must first demonstrate satisfactorily to the Allies that he can survive till the winter-time. All aid thus far (the world spotlighting of a couple of tankers with oil sent to Vladivostok merely serves to emphasize this) has been in the nature of a promise for the future. Moscow would like to see this aid expedited, naturally. But Roosevelt refuses even to hasten the projected meeting in Moscow to coordinate future plans in the military struggle. Stalin wants this meeting in September. Roosevelt says in October. Roosevelt wants the extra month to make sure Stalin can really survive that long before committing himself to anything real.

How the “Democracies” Will Aid the USSR

We Trotskyists certainly want to see every bit of aid go to Soviet Russia. But we are quite open-eyed concerning the aid given by the “democratic” imperialist nations to the Soviet Union. In the first place, these imperialists will give aid only as it suits their own interests. Right now, these imperialists congratulate themselves on the fact that the longer Russia continues the struggle, the longer the time given as a reprieve from attack by Hitler on England and the United States. Of course Churchill and Roosevelt take not the slightest interest in the survival of the Soviet state. This they tell us in so many words.

We do not follow the Stalinists in making “demands” on the United States government to give aid to Russia. We draw the same distinction from our side of the class line and the class struggle that Roosevelt draws between the imperialist countries and the oviet Union. We refuse to be misled into political support of the “democracies” by the desire to see all aid given to the Red Army.

Long before the outbreak of the second World War, Trotsky showed the danger to the working class and to the USSR of giving any trust to whichever imperialist allies might find themselves on the same side as Russia in the coming war. Sooner or later in the course of the war these treacherous allies would turn on the Soviet Union and try to annihilate it as a workers’ state. Instead of making demands on Roosevelt for aid, we should absorb, fully and in time, the lesson he and the others have taught the working class. That lesson is that the capitalists do not forget their class interests for one single moment, even in the midst of the most deadly danger.

The Blindness of the Stalinists

We must be vigilant to oppose what will inevitably come; that is, pressure by the “democracies” on Stalin for political and economic concessions as payment for aid. Stalin has agreed before the convening of any conference to the eight-point fraud of Roosevelt-Churchill. That agreement contains his promise that he will not use the “emergency” to aid any working-class revolution in western Europe. That means that if Germany should finally throw off the fascist-capitalist shackles, Churchill-Roosevelt would have a free hand to intervene and put down a working-class revolution.

Here we see the treacherous blindness of the Stalinists. Their readiness to sacrifice the future for the present, is the index of their utter pessimism and hopelessness. In England it is the Stalinists who demand that the government oust the more outspoken officials who state frankly that they would like to see Hitler and Stalin fight each other to the utter exhaustion of both. The democracies could then step in and finish off both enemies.

Instead of recognizing this as the true attitude of all allied capitalists, – what else could it be? – the Stalinists lull the workers with the idea that this is the attitude of only a few individuals. But if the British Stalinists wanted to assure full, unadulterated aid to the USSR, they would be mobilizing he British workers to take over the reins of government.

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