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Jack Weber

What the Capitalists Think
About the Soviet Union’s War

(8 November 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 45, 8 November 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Lyons States the Capitalist Position

Eugene Lyons, whose career was “made” by breaking with the Stalinists at just the right moment, gives, some plain capitalist talk about Russia in the American Mercury. What he says is of interest in the light of the policies pursued by the Stalinists, policies which cover up precisely what the Lyonses take correctly to be obvious. The Stalinists do their best to make the Soviet Union appear indistinguishable from the democracies, to gloss over the tremendous gulf between the Allied states and the USSR. But Lyons sees with approval the real attitude of the capitalists, their hatred of the first workers’ state. While the Stalinists distinguish between the Churchills, the Roosevelts and their underlings like Beaverbrook, Lord Halifax and Co., the Lyonses have no such illusions.

“It is unfashionable to admit the obvious fact that Great Britain and the United States are offering material aid to Russia at this juncture for their own and not for Russia’s sake ... Moreover only political morons could contemplate without goosepimples the possibility of the Red forces actually licking Hitler’s hordes, pursuing the advantage westward to the Atlantic and displacing the Brown scourge with their own brand. Britain and America are helping Russia – and should do so, we believe, to the utmost extent – for the sole reason that an eastern front engages and saps German military strength. They do so without any fear of a Red tidal wave overwhelming Europe – because they know that a decisive Russian victory is not even a remote possibility. The most that can be hoped for is the maintenance of a permanent Russian front until a victory over Hitler is achieved.”

Fischer on the Hess Incident

That states the case of Allied aid, from the point of view of the capitalist class, as honestly as one could desire. Nor is Lyons in any way unique in presenting the facts. Louis Fischer, Stalinist collaborator for so long, writes concerning the Hess incident in The Nation. By now it is no longer much of a mystery that Hess carried a message that Germany would make peace with England in order to turn on Stalin. It is still not admitted that this message came directly from Hitler and that Churchill played his cards so as to egg Hitler on to attack the Soviet Union by pretending that he might be willing to listen to terms of peace after such an invasion had begun. Hess told Churchill that it was not a question of victory over the Red Army, but that without English aid the campaign would last only three months. With England still at war, the Nazis might require a year for the conquest of the Soviet Union. Churchill chose to get a year’s respite for England.

All of this can occasion not the least surprise on the part of these who never for one moment let go of the class analysis of great social events. It is not the Moore-Brabazons, the assistants of Churchill, who alone desire to see the Red Army and the German army bleed each other to death, with but a single regiment left to the victor. That is the attitude of the “democratic” capitalists from top to bottom. It is but an added crime of the Stalinists that they hide this fact. Their demands on Churchill to open up a “western front” have no other effect than to permit the British reactionary to voice pious hopes concerning Russia’s ability to continue fighting for another winter. To secure a better hold on the English workers, Churchill may even sacrifice those of his assistants who were indiscreet in blurting out the truth about aid to Russia.

The idea of resting the salvation of the Soviet Union on Allied aid is the worst of all chimeras. Stalin fosters this illusion both in Russia and abroad. It is possible that he does so with the purpose of using the failure of such aid to arrive as justification for a capitulation to Hitler. Such a capitulation is not at all ruled out at a later stage. But it is doubtful that Stalin would survive such a catastrophic event for a very long time. The machine which kept him in power by terror would be too weakened for it to function effectively. The Stalin regime would come to its inglorious end.

Stalin Incapable of Leading Successful Defense

But if no aid comes to Russia from the Allies, or if that aid is just enough of a trickle to keep the Red Army in being as a pawn of the Allies, must we give up the Soviet Union as lost? Certainly it will be lost if the workers pin their faith in the Roosevelts and Churchills and follow the policies of these capitalist leaders. Only aid from the workers of Europe and America can prevent the USSR from going down to utter defeat.

We have tried for many years to open the eyes of those workers who were still being misled by Stalin as to his true role. Where is the class-conscious worker today who cannot see that Stalin, in the midst of the most terrible danger to the Soviet Union, is incapable of giving any revolutionary leadership? He is utterly incapable of driving any wedge between the German workers and their overlords. He is incapable of giving directives to the workers in other lands that would help to stem the tides of Nazi invasion.

That task must fall to other leadership, to real revolutionary working class leadership. The Soviet Union can be saved, in spite of Stalin, by the courage and devotion of the workers led by revolutionary leaders. Their policies must in no wise be based on the war aims of the “democratic” imperialists who gladly see the sacrifice of the USSR for their benefit. They must be class policies solely in the interest of the international proletariat.

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