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George Stern

Behind the Lines

(3 November 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No.84, 3 November 1939, p. 1.<<br /> Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The fuss being kicked up over the City of Flint whip up anti-Soviet sentiment in this country.

Roosevelt’s State Department is using the kind of language in this affair that is used only against an enemy, actual or potential. In the very midst of all the to-do over the City of Flint, shipping companies which have had at least five vessels detained for weeks by the British navy have been unable to get Franklin’s man Cordell to say even boo to the British. But when the City of Flint matter came up, the Roosevelt war deal gang went to work full blast and, naturally, the whole press is gleefully joining in ganging up on Russia.

There is a lot of palaver about “international law” being spilled over this affair. It so happens that in seizing the vessel the Germans were within their “rights”—as rights go under the anarchy cynically labelled “international law.” But this international law seems to consist mainly of the prerogatives of those strong enough to take what they want. Roosevelt has been doing a little one-man legislating in this field himself, as when he quite arbitrarily ruled a little while ago that American territorial waters extend not to the usual three-mile limit but 1,000 miles out to sea and farther if necessary.

So let no one get het up about who’s “right” and who’s “wrong.” There’s nothing right in the midst of imperialist war except the fiercest, most unrelenting struggle against it.

The main thing to get hold of is the fact that the Roosevelt administration is deliberately engaged in a drive, both public and private, to prepare the ground for American participation in the war against Russia that most of he Allied statesmen still count on as the ultimate outcome of the present conflict.

That is the meaning of the City of Flint hullabaloo. It is also the meaning of the diplomatic game going on across the other side of the world in Tokyo where Roosevelt, in collaboration with the British, is testing the ground for a deal with Japan that will assure the Japanese role in the projected anti-Soviet war. Chamberlain hoped to get Hitler to fight Russia instead of having to fight Hitler himself first. In the same way, the Wall Street-Roosevelt cabal hopes to fan a Soviet-Japanese conflict without first having to eliminate Japanese power itself.

As this drive gets underway, one thing has to be kept clearly and firmly in mind by every thinking worker who rightly hates Stalin and all his works. The war-mongering bosses are aiming straight at the restoration of private property in Russia. The collectivized economy created by the workers in their revolution remains, despite Stalin’s grotesque distortion of it, the main object of capitalist hatred.

Our job is not to help the capitalists restore private property in Russia but to prevent them from doing it. Our job is to help the Russian workers overthrow Stalin and reassert their own power and the way to do this best is to put an end to private property through workers’ revolution here and everywhere in this charnel house of a bosses’ world.

That is the road to future peace and plenty. All other ways lead to blind alleys of death and destruction and perpetuated poverty.

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Last updated on 15 April 2018