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Jack Weber

Social Patriots Call for
‘Unity of Labor’ for War

(25 October 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 43, 25 October 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Churchills Look Ahead

The social democrats of every land yield to no one in their hatred of Hitler. Their entire creed sums itself up around this platform – down with Hitler! So fierce is their hatred that it cannot contain itself, but extends to hatred of the entire nation over which Hitler now rules. The social patriots are fearful. that the master class will not know how to treat Germany when Hitler is finally defeated by the democracies. Their great anxiety nowadays is therefore to advise the capitalists (beg pardon, the democrats!) on just what measures to adopt against a defeated Germany.

The Churchills aye, however, quite foresighted when it comes to the game of politics. They view the problems of war and of the post-war era from a consistent class angle. They try to prepare the ground long in advance for all eventualities. One of the consequences of the defeat of Hitler worries them exceedingly. What will the workers and the masses of Germany do after such a defeat? The veriest tyro in politics is aware that revolution in Germany would then sweep all before it, and that such a revolution could not stop short of the taking of power by the proletariat to build a socialist society.

Churchill has no intention whatever of fighting Hitler in order to hand the power over to the working class. His concern is to preserve the capitalist system, but with English imperialism as top dog. Hence the English prime minister, looking ahead, attempts to psychologize the English masses in such a way that he will be able to use them not only against Hitler but against the German workers at a later date,

Function of Labor Lieutenants

This is the aim that is furthered by the social patriotic camp followers of the master class. All their discussions of war aims and of the arrangement and adjustment of the post-war world concede to the Allied imperialists the right, nay duty, to patrol all Europe after the war to prevent “chaos”. In reality this concedes the right to continue chaos and to reestablish it as a system.

Support for the Roosevelts and the Churchills means support for this fundamental policy which flows inevitably from the aims of the capitalists in the war. Naturally, however, it would hardly do for the war-makers to state their aims in this bald fashion. These need re-interpretation and quite a bit of polishing-up before being served as mental food to the toilers. That is precisely where the social democrats come in. Their function is to talk capitalist ideas in working class language. That is why what they say sounds just like double-talk.

We have the perfect example of this in the message sent by the new Australian Premier, John Curtin, to his co-workers of the New Leader in this country. How proud they are to place his words at the top of their paper! The very last sentence of his cable is printed in bold, big letters: “The unity of labor in common purpose throughout the world alone will save civilization.” And this leader of the Australian Labor Party sends his message – so he says – “on behalf of a solid, united labor movement.” What is the common purpose? Labor “has been inflexible in its determination to play the fullest part in the maximum war effort by Australia. The Labor Government stands by Australia, just as Australia stands with the Empire and her Allies in resisting aggression wherever the rights and privileges of freedom-loving people are imperilled anywhere in the world.”

Unity – On What Program?

Just in case you did not know what the war was all about, Curtin enlightens you. “Those rights and privileges (granted by whom?) include the right of association in trade unions, and of collective bargaining – enjoyed by British workmen for almost half a century. Those rights symbolise the democracy for which we are fighting.”

Talking in terms of unity, the real achievement of the Curtins is to bring about disunity everywhere. They feel unity and act accordingly, not with the German workers (whom they helped betray to Hitler), but with the imperial British masters. Their unity is not with the Hindu and Indian masses ground into the dust, but with the oppressors of these masses. Every step the Curtins take (in and out of England) is calculated to keep the English workers and the colonial peoples apart, not to bring them together.

On what program would Curtin propose that the workers everywhere should unite to save civilization? Does he propose to the German workers that they fight Hitler in order to give the victory to Churchill? Yet that is the only purpose contained in all that the Curtins do and all that they say – victory for British imperialism. To the German workers that means only a worse Versailles and a worse form of slavery in Europe, Shall the European working class unite with the labor lieutenants to enable the Allied armies to patrol their lands and keep “order?”

It is absolutely correct to say that the unity of labor in common purpose throughout the world alone will save civilization. That unity can be achieved only on the basis of a working class program. But the very essence of such a program is its unalterable opposition to the schemes and actions of the capitalist class, at home and abroad. Unity can only be obtained by reaching across all borders, in spite of all the Churchills and all their assistants, to create solidarity of worker to worker in order to oppose and frustrate the oppressor aims of all the exploiters, whether in the fascist camp or in the “democratic” camp. The German workers must be assured of support in their coming struggles against their masters.

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