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Jack Weber

How Stalin Will Return Aid
Given Him by ‘Democracies’

He Serves Notice He Will Not Adopt Revolutionary Policy,
‘Democrats’ Expect His Aid Against Revolts

(15 November 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 46, 15 November 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Workers will look in vain in the two speeches delivered by Stalin on the anniversary of the Russian Revolution for an answer to the burning question, “How to save the Soviet Union?” His speeches were not intended to answer that question, but rather to explain away the defeats, to justify his criminal course in the past – and to allay the fears of the “democratic” imperialists that the USSR may turn to a revolutionary policy to bring about the defeat of Hitler.

His speeches therefore are couched not in the terms and spirit of the Russian Revolution which created the Soviet Union, but along the lines most acceptable to the “democratic” imperialists.

National Approach

On what basis, for example, does he appeal to the masses of the USSR and the world working class to resist the Hitlerite invasion? On the basis that they must defend their “fatherland!” The war of the Soviet Union is to be taken completely on a national plane.

It is in this spirit that the Red Army soldiers are asked to emulate figures of the far distant past who helped Russia become a national state in the period of its rise under the Czars. The meaningless and perfunctory reference to Lenin serves only to highlight the completely reactionary spirit of a speech which in this epoch calls on the workers to pay their respects to Nevsky, Suvoroff and Kutuzoff. These figures are utterly meaningless in our time. Their mention at the same time as the war of intervention of 1918 serves to place the latter back in remote history rather than to give living meaning to the revolutionary struggle.

Stalin uses the speech to continue his game of rewriting history to suit each new occasion, each new veer of policy. Stalin is nothing if not totalitarian, even in his “logic.” Since it is all a matter of the rights of nations, the same criterion must be used in all cases, past as well as present. Hitler, it now seems, performed at one period a truly progressive task!

“While the Hitlerites were engaged in gathering together the Germany which had been carved up by the Versailles Treaty, they could enjoy the support of the German people, who were inspired by the ideal of the restoration of Germany.”

What does it matter that Hitler inflicted the most frightful defeat on the German working class and set back the proletarian revolution for a decade and more, that his counter-revolution led inevitably, as predicted by Leon Trotsky, to this present invasion by the super-Wrangel?

When Hitler “Went Wrong”

Reading this speech one would think that there was no necessary relation between the internal conquest of Germany by capitalist reaction and its follow-up in the present imperialist war of plunder. On the contrary, it seems that Hitler just went wrong at a certain stage, for Stalin tells us:

“After this problem had been solved (!) and the Hitlerites set out on their paths of imperialism, on the paths which led to the seizure of foreign lands and the conquests of other peoples, and transformed those peoples and the peoples of Europe and the peoples of the USSR into the sworn enemies of present-day Germany, a profound change of attitude occurred among the German people. They are against a continuation of war.”

There is good reason for Stalin’s mode of presenting history. The reason is the new political line of Stalin. His speech is in reality the first down-payment for the aid he hopes to get from the “democratic” allies. He wants to show them that he will scrupulously refrain from “interference” in any other country. He wishes to prove that he will not appeal in any way whatsoever to class struggle ideas, that he will make no revolutionary appeal to the European working class.

Stalin Finds Distinctions

Stalin also tells off the Nazi upstarts who want to encroach on his theory of national socialism, socialism in one country. He informs the world, cost what it may: “It is known that the Hitlerites trample on the Reich workers.” No, truly they are not socialists, those bandits! But then we are told further that not only are they not socialists, they are not even nationalists! The purpose of all this pure balderdash becomes clear. Stalin wants to arrive by hook and by crook at a difference between nationalism – and imperialism. Here is indeed a distinction!

Yesterday, when the pact with Hitler was concluded, Stalin tried to give every token of friendship to Hitler. Then he said it Was the British and American imperialism which was trying to involve Russia in war with Hitler. Today things have changed. The fascists are not nationalists but imperialists; the United States and Britain are nationalists but not imperialists. Thus is the new alliance cemented politically.

The speech was intended for Roosevelt and Churchill, not for the workers. The end of it gives the real aim of the speech:

“As distinct from Hitlerite Germany, the Soviet Union and its allies are waging a war of liberation – a just war calculated for the liberation of the enslaved peoples of Europe and the USSR from Hitler tyranny. Therefore all honest people support the armies of the USSR, Great Britain and the other allies as armies of liberation.”

If the war is a war of liberation naturally every worker should support it. This is what Stalin is now urging. But Stalin does not even dare to distinguish between “workers” and others abroad lest he give offense. Hence the “honest people.” Not only does Stalin in this way give his political thanks for the material aid from the democracies, but he assures these allies that they need have no fear of proletarian revolution anywhere. Where does any talk of such revolution in Europe come from anyhow? Stalin places the responsibility for this spectre – on Hitler!

The Spectre of Revolution

He says that Germany calculated on frightening the democracies into a crusade against the Soviet Union by harping on the theme of working class revolution fostered and led by the Comintern. “Their calculations were based in the first place on the earnest hopes of creating a general coalition against the USSR, of drawing Great Britain and the United States into this coalition by intimidating beforehand the ruling circles in these countries with the spectre of revolution and in this way completely isolating our country from the other powers.” This worked, explains Stalin, in the case of France. But “it turned out that the German policy of playing on contradictions and intimidating with the specter of revolution had exhausted its possibilities and was no longer suited to the new situation.”

It is not far to seek the reason for Hitler’s failure to blackmail the democracies any longer with the spectre of revolution. Stalinism had weakened the Soviet Union and the international working class to such a degree that the imperialists feared Hitler more than the threat of revolution for the time being. Under Stalin, the first workers state had become almost a deterrent rather than an example.

Stalin’s speech, we repeat, is devoted to the task of building up every confidence in the ranks of the ruling classes of his allies that they have nothing to fear from revolution. Not so long as Stalin stays in power in the USSR! This is his answer to Hitler and his bid for support.

Stalin’s Use to the “Democracies”

The “democratic” imperialists feel little threat from Stalinism at present. They are willing to deal with Stalin today not merely with a view to keeping him in the fight against Hitler, although that is certainly an important consideration for Churchill and Roosevelt.

But there is involved besides a longer-term view. What the imperialists fear above all else is the post-war period in Europe. Victory is still remote, but already they lay plans for policing all of Europe after the war. Such policing is hardly intended for use against the defeated fascists alone. No, it is also intended for use against any attempt on the part of the workers to take their fate into their own hands. Who would be more expert than Stalin in destroying proletarian revolution? He offers his services – and the “democrats” accept them. For them Stalin is to lay the spectre of proletarian revolution both in the USSR (its revival) and throughout Europe.

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