Max Shachtman

In This Corner

(21 February 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 9, 21 February 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

“A nation, no more than a woman, is excused for the unguarded hour when the first adventurer who comes along can do violence to her ... There remains to be explained how a nation of thirty-six millions can be surprised by three swindlers, and taken to prison without resistance.”

What Karl Marx wrote about Louis Bonaparte’s France of 1851 applies not only to the Czechoslovakia of 1938, or to nations and women in general, but to men and parties and all political leaders.

The liberal, of the Stalinist, social-democratic or old-fashioned persuasion, has thickened the atmosphere for months on end with a wail of agonized and bewildered grief. Like the incautious lady who is repeatedly yanked into an alley by escorts who turn out to be a bit on the caddish side, they continue, between excruciating sobs, to tell soul-searing tales of how they were betrayed by the Democracies with whom they kept company.

You can hardly pick up a copy of the Post in New York, where Mr. Ludwig Lore runs a column of foreign news comment, or the Daily Worker, where Mr. Harry Cannes does the same, without reading a lurid confession of how they were done dirt – alas, not for the first time – by some Democratic statesman in whom they put their girlish trust.

Betrayed by Their Best Friends

They hail Schuschnigg, and he betrays them. General Syrovy betrays them. So do Chamberlain and Daladier. So does King Carol of Rumania. And it is all beyond their comprehension.

Why do Chamberlain and Daladier, spokesmen of British and French Democracy, allow Hitler to take first Austria and then Czechoslovakia without a fight? Why don’t they send their mighty Armadas to prevent their rival, Mussolini, from swallowing up first Ethiopia and then Spain? Why does British Democracy sit by idly while the Japanese ogre carves up China and even encroaches directly upon the southern provinces in which millions of good English sterling are invested? Why has Browder failed thus far to convince Roosevelt and the Chamber of Commerce to send an expedition to Asia to protect Wall Street’s investments in China?

Why, in a word, have not yet the Great Democracies started a Holy War against the Fascist Aggressors to protect the Little Democracies instead of “betraying” them?

Sassoon Explains ... Business Is Business

A thousandfold sounder answer than you can find in any of the Stalinist, social-democratic or liberal press, was given the other day by a man who has more to say in deciding the foreign policy of the “democracies” than half a dozen Prime Ministers and two-thirds of the members of their respective Parliaments. They come and go and are forgotten. He and his like remain. We refer to the gentleman who recently passed through the United States on his way home, Sir Victor Sassoon, of the House of E.D. Sassoon and Co.

The House of Sassoon, international bankers and investors, has existed for generations. Its interests lie in Bombay, Shanghai, Istanbul, Cairo, Salonika, London – everywhere. It is part of that upper circle of moneyed overlords like the Lazards, Rothschilds, Barings, Goldschmids, Morgans, Rallis, etc., which dominates not only the counting rooms of the world, but most of its governments, and has dominated them for years.

He wants, he said in an interview with the N.Y. Post (Feb. 2) Great Britain to back Japan and not Russia. And the United Democratic Front? Nonsense! Business is business.

Suppose the Japanese crushed or won over its opposition in China. They’d have to have a great deal of money to develop or make anything of it. The only places to get those sums would be the United States and Britain and perhaps France ... They’re facing what Italy faces after conquering Ethiopia: What can they do with it, lacking enormous capital? All the Japanese bankers, economists and diplomats I’ve talked to see that clearly, if the army doesn’t.”

Statesmen Are Loyal To Their Class

But why doesn’t this British patriot and banker advocate at least that economic embargo against Japan which, we are assured by the Champions of Democracy, would bring the Aggressor to his knees without resorting to war? The Post story explains that, too:

Japan doesn’t want to declare war on China, he explained, because that would bring down the American embargo on exports. Seventy percent of the essential materials for war that Japan must import have been coming from us, Great Britain and France – not the dictator nations.

He admitted that if the democratic Powers clamped an economic embargo on Japan they could stop the undeclared war in China. However, this probably would bring on a Japanese economic collapse and that would likely bring Communism to Japan.”

Three paragraphs from Sir Victor are, as we see, more important and more revealing than a Popular Front speech by Daladier plus a Fireside Chat by Roosevelt plus a House of Commons report by Chamberlain plus a Peace-Through-War manifesto by Browder, with a maudlin Nation editorial thrown in.

We rise to defend the good name of the statesmen of Democratic capitalism. They are loyal to their class and its interests. They defend them stoutly. They are not traitors to their avowed cause. But the “labor leaders”, who ask the masses to follow them, are!

Shachtman icon
Max Shachtman
Marx icon
Marxist Writers’

Last updated on 29 Novemember 2015