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John G. Wright

Anglo-Soviet Trade Union Committee
Aids British Imperialists

(September 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 39, 27 September 1941, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

What the Old Joint Committee Did

The Russian and British Trade Unions have agreed to form a joint committee to aid in the successful prosecution of the war against Hitler. This maneuver of the Kremlin recalls to mind Stalin’s previous venture with a similar body, the Anglo-Russian Committee which was formed in May 1925.

The purpose of the 1925 committee was declared to be to promote international trade union unity, to conduct a struggle against the march of reaction, and to prevent the outbreak of the second world war. The Stalinist bureaucracy hailed it as a bulwark in the defense of the USSR. In July 1926, Stalin declared:

“The task of this bloc (the Anglo-Russian Committee) consists in organizing a broad movement of the working class against new imperialist wars and generally against an intervention in our country especially on the part of the mightiest of the imperialist powers of Europe, on the part of England in particular.”

The Party Moscow District Committee boasted:

“The Anglo-Russian Committee can, must, and will undoubtedly play an enormous role in the struggle against all possible interventions directed against the USSR, It will become the organizing center of the international forces of the proletariat for the struggle against every attempt of the international bourgeoisie to provoke a new war.”

This committee achieved none of its purported aims. Instead, it dealt a terrible blow to the English labor movement and weakened the international position of the Soviet Union at the time. Far from serving in the interests of the USSR, it promoted only the interests of the British imperialists. The reactionary leaders of the General Council of the British Trade Unions were able to utilize their cordial relations with the Red Trade Unions and the Kremlin in order to smash the British General Strike of May 1926: The Committee continued to exist for a year after this treachery to the English labor movement, and was dissolved not on Stalin’s initiative but by the demonstrative withdrawal of the British labor leaders, after the committee had served all their purposes.

Treachery on a Grander Scale

The Anglo-Russian Committee was an important stage in the degeneration of the Stalinist bureaucracy. At that time, the bureaucrats undermined the defense of the USSR and betrayed the interests of the proletariat by conniving with and covering up the labor agents of British imperialism. The Kremlin now repeats its treachery on a grander scale in collaboration not only with the lackeys but the masters. The basic lessons of the debacle of the Anglo-Russian Committee retain their full force today. In 1925 the Stalinist bureaucracy revealed the same contempt and distrust of the masses that characterizes its present conduct. It seeks allies only among the tops – in the war cabinets of the “democratic” imperialists and in the ranks of the labor bureaucracy. During the existence of the Anglo-Russian Committee, Stalin shunted the Communist International aside in favor of his bloc with Purcell and Hicks, which he then palmed off as an “organizing center of the international forces of the proletariat.” Today the Communist International has been completely gagged. It has not issued even a formal statement in connection with the defense of the Soviet Union. In the period of the first Anglo-Russian Committee, Stalin at least pretended that the bloc with the reactionary trade union leaders was directed “against the counter-revolutionary imperialists of their own country,” i.e., against Churchill and Co. The reconstituted bloc is based on the open support of this same Churchill.

Bevin-Morrisson and Co. are as faithful servants of the ruling class as were Purcell and Hicks. If the latter were able to cover themselves with the prestige of the Soviet Union in breaking the 1926 General Strike, then Bevin and Morrisson are now supplied by Stalin with the same cover in their support of the imperialist war and the imperialist aims of their masters.

We have no objection to the Soviet Government asking and seeking to obtain material aid from either Roosevelt or Churchill. But Stalin is making the Soviet Union pay a political price for this aid which far outweighs any immediate advantages.

Let us grant for a moment that this trade union bloc will serve in the next period to increase the flow of material aid to the Red Army. What weight has this temporary advantage as against the terrible weapons Stalin’s policy leaves in Hitler’s hands? The chief hold of the Nazis upon the people of Germany consists in the latter’s dread of a new Versailles for a defeated Germany. Stalin by his policies links the defense of the USSR with the program of a worse edition of Versailles for Germany. Stalin’s bloc with Bevin commits both the Red Trade Union and English organized labor to this same program.

Such a policy can never disintegrate the morale of the German army, or shake Hitler’s regime. On the contrary, it supplies Hitler with advantages that no superiority of tanks, planes and other armament could avail him.

Churchill and Co. will send only the amount of material aid that serves their purposes. They and they alone will determine the quantity of tanks; planes, etc., that will be shipped. Today, as yesterday, far from promoting the interests of the Soviet Union, the trade union bloc, the revival of the Anglo-Russian Committee under wartime conditions, can promote only the interests of British imperialism. Stalin is once again bartering the political interests of the Soviet Union and of the world working class in return for immediate and picayune advantages. To give effective aid to the heroic workers and soldiers of the USSR, the English workers must break with their reactionary labor leaders. They must oppose the imperialist war and its program of a new Versailles, and must raise high the banner of international solidarity. The German- masses will join them in the fight for the Socialist U.S. of Europe. This program, and this program alone will overthrow Hitler, destroy fascism and preserve the Soviet Union.

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