J.R. Johnson

Labor and the Second World War

(14 November 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 87, 14 November 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.


The Treachery of the Stalinist Bureaucracy

In the early years the Soviet government maintained a truly Marxist policy, building up the internal economy and working with the Communist International for the world revolution.

But the bureaucracy quickly became so satisfied with its position, so anxious to avoid the international complications of a revolution, and, as is the way of bureaucracies, so short-sighted and cowardly, that it missed opportunity after opportunity to assist the workers in the overthrow of their own capitalists. The Communist International assumed the leadership of the revolutionary movement in nearly every country, and the Communist leaders took their guidance from Moscow. But in Germany in 1923, in China in 1925–1927, Stalin and his bureaucrats, at the critical periods, restrained instead of encouraging the workers. The climax came in Germany in 1933, when the bureaucracy, after three years of vacillation, once, more gave the signal for retreat. Always obedient, the German Communist Party, without even a show of resistance, allowed Hitler to take power.

The Stalinists Embrace “Democracy”

Every defeat of the workers weakened the Russian workers in their struggle against the bureaucracy. And every defeat of the workers weakened Soviet Russia in the struggle against its unsleeping enemy, world imperialism. After the German defeat, Stalin began to look for salvation by an alliance with either fascist Germany or the “democracies,” soliciting now one and now the other. His policy in face of the workers’ revolutions in China and Germany had forced him into this position, and there was no escape. But to further his ends he committed yet another terrible crime against the working class. Seeking an alliance with France and Britain, he converted the Communist International into an agency for the support of the “democracies” against fascism. For five years the whole force of the Stalinist International, supported by the resources of the Soviet state, was directed to making the workers support one group of imperialists against the other, condemnation of which distinguishes the revolutionary movement from all others.

The Stalinists could not stop at words. To secure his alliance with the “democracies,” Stalin and his Communist parties perpetrated some of the most cynical betrayals in history. In France in 1936 the workers seized the factories. Stalin used the Communist Party to stifle the movement for the sake of his alliance with French “democracy.”

The most powerful revolution of modern times broke out in Spain a few months later. Stalin’s Communist Party and the agents of the GPU hounded down, murdered and imprisoned thousands who were leading the struggle for socialism. The Spanish revolution, he insisted, was a revolution for “democracy” and no more. Had either of these revolutions followed their normal development, the result would have been such a resurgence of working class militancy all over Europe and elsewhere that we would have been saved the second world war. In France in particular the workers turned to the Communist Party, thinking it was the party of revolution. The French capitalists were helpless. But it was Stalin’s Communist Party that saved French capitalism.

Stalin Seeks a New Ally

Capitalists do not deal in gratitude. At Munich the “democracies” made obvious their international policy for years past: to encourage an attack on Soviet Russia by Hitler. Stalin turned hastily and negotiated again with Hitler, this time secretly, and got his alliance. The revolutionary workers had been deflected from their real enemy, the enemy at home, for five years. The incipient French revolution, the triumphant Spanish revolution, had been destroyed by Stalin’s agents, all for the sake of his alliance with “democracy” in the cause of peace. Then suddenly the workers were told that peace and “democracy” were best served by the pact between Stalin and the most powerful fascist state in Europe. Hitler, given the green light by Stalin, marched. At that moment of desperate crisis the revolutionary workers in Europe, stunned by the pact, were thrown into helpless confusion and the imperialists slid them smoothly into war.

In the United States the Stalinists, hoping to include Roosevelt with Chamberlain and Daladier in the alliance with Stalin, lay on their bellies for five years licking the dust of Roosevelt’s boots. They clamored in favor of the New Deal. They rooted for every move Roosevelt made toward war. They opposed the Ludlow amendment. They were ready to shed the blood of millions of American workers to defeat fascism in Germany. Came the Stalin-Hitler Pact. The American Stalinists turned about face, and today they are as active for Hitler’s victory as yesterday they were for his defeat, are busy whipping up workers everywhere in the “democracies” to oppose the war – to make things as easy as possible for Hitler, Stalin’s ally. But if Stalin is forced to an alliance with Britain tomorrow, venal robots as they are, the Stalinists will once more clamor for a holy war of “democracy” against fascism. Long over are the days when they were leading the revolutionary workers in every combat against imperialism in all its forms. Never before has such shamelessness, such degradation, such corruption been a part of the workers’ movement. In less than twenty years Stalin has transformed the world revolutionary vanguard into a procurer for the prostitution of the international working class, in the interests of Russian bureaucrats. No institution in human history has fallen so fast and so far.

This cynical deception of the workers, this pushing them about, like pawns on a chessboard, here and there and even into war for the sake of the bureaucracy, well explains not only the opportunist zig-zag of the Stalinist parties. It indicates also the bureaucracy’s role inside the Soviet Union.

(Continued in Next Issue)

Last updated on 18 April 2018