Tuesday, December 31, 2019

When Workers World Party leader Sam Marcy called for forced collectivization of Polish agriculture in 1981

Poland: why alliance with farmers is vital for working class

A reply to Workers World Party


THE MILITANT FEBRUARY 6, 1981 

By Suzanne Haig


Inspired by the upsurge of millions of Polish workers, working farmers have established their own organization, Rural Solidarity: Reported to have 600,000 members, it is receiving aid from the workers movement.


Communist Party chairman Stanislaw Kania has attacked Rural Solidarity, which has not yet been recognized by the government. In an effort to prove the union is led by counterrevolutionaries, Kaniawas reduced to charging that "in some of these biographies, we find an ancestry traceable to the landed gentry" -a class which has not existed in Poland since the end of World War II.


Such attempts to drive a wedge between the farmers and the working class are not surprising. The overthrow of capitalism in Poland after World War II benefited most farmers. Landlordism, massive rural unemployment, and near starvation were eliminated. Electricity was brought to the countryside and major progress was made toward ending illiteracy. But the living standards of Polish farmers have not kept up with those of city workers. The parasitic caste that rules the country has placed a low priority on producing consumer goods and agricultural equipment. Mismanagement, privileges for government and Communist Party officials, a staggering debt to the imperialist banks, and the absence of democratic involvement of working people in planning have led to serious economic difficulties. The workers and farmers are challenging the oppression they suffer under this misrule.


Workers & farmers alliance


The emerging alliance between the Polish workers and the working farmers is key to advancing the struggle for democratic rights and equality. Without such an alliance, no workers state can advance toward socialism.


But to the Workers World Party, an ultraleft sectarian organization in the United States, the struggle of the oppressed classes in Poland is anathema.


The right to form a union and the other gains won after the August strikes have "set back the clock of socialism," party leader Sam Marcy wrote in the September 12 Workers World.


"….What the workers have gained economically and socially," he charged, "is at the cost of

legitimatizing a bourgeois opposition," in which he lumps together the reactionary Catholic Church hierarchy with union leaders, dissident intellectuals, and working farmers. Without resolute government action against the workers and farmers, Marcy believes that this "bourgeois opposition" will "seize the political initiative and urge the workers to move in a bourgeois restorationist direction. To the Workers World Party, the Polish workers are allying with their class enemy when they support the working farmers. The substance of Marcy's argument is that farmers have the Polish workers state by the throat and are choking it to death.


"Aside from the small state sector in agriculture," he wrote on September 12, "capitalist farming prevails throughout Poland. It has been getting steady, consistent, and ever-larger infusions of subsidies from the government, that is from the hides of the workers.


"This is true even though . . . small, private farming is inefficient and largely responsible for the poor state of food production in Poland."

Marcy never bothers to explain why Polish workers, who know a lot about the economy, don't join him in blaming the problems on the working farmers.


The solution, proposed in the November 14 Workers World, is for the Polish government to "launch a struggle to collectivize the countryside."


Capitalist threat?


Do Poland's working farmers represent a threat of capitalist restoration? Are they the enemy of the workers? 


There are today 3.5 million private farmers in Poland. Their farms are not capitalist enterprises with thousands of acres and dozens of workers. The average farm is 12.5 acres. Only one-sixth of all private farms are more than thirty acres, and most of these are cultivated by a single family.


Does the presence of so many small farms constitute an immediate threat to the workers state, as Marcy claims? Hardly.


Marcy makes the error of confusing the potentiality of small farmers to accumulate large tracts of land and hire wage workers-thus threatening the planned economy-with what is actually the situation in Poland today. In the 1920s Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky warned that the millions of small farmers constituted the "fundamental source of the capitalist tendencies in Russia. "At the time, the Soviet Union was still overwhelmingly agricultural. The industrial sector was very weak, still suffering from the devastation of the civil war. And a class of rich farmers hiring wage labor appeared, which demanded an end to the monopoly of foreign trade and was hostile to the working class.


Forced collectivization


Even under these circumstances, Trotsky opposed forced collectivization, as had Lenin from the beginning of the revolution. He believed the government should take measures that would win the poor farmers to support the workers state against the rich farmers. The Stalin leadership, however, went ahead with forced collectivization, which led to an economic and social catastrophe in the countryside. Poland in 1981 bears little resemblance to Russia in the 1920s. Poland is now a major industrial country-among the top fifteen largest producers of industrial goods in the world. Its working class has grown steadily, gaining enormous social weight, while the percentage of the population employed in farming has declined steadily.


More than one-third of the farms are cultivated by farmers over sixty years old without heirs intending to farm. The young are leaving for the city to working the factories.


Many of these farmers still use plow horses. Few have tractors.


The working farmers do not view themselves as capitalists or even consider it possible to accumulate much property. The demands of Rural Solidarity indicate this. A rich landowner, or an aspiring one, would not be demanding better medical and social benefits and a guaranteed income.


This is why they are fighting-not because they are producing large surpluses and want to be free form the fetters of the planned economy in order to amass huge profits. They are demanding a share of the benefits of a planned economy. And the workers recognize the justice of this demand.


The farmers' main demands assume the existence of a nationalized, planned economy.


The farmers make about 75 percent of the average wage of non-agricultural workers. They are demanding higher prices for their produce from the government and full compensation for crop failures that their living income will be equal to the average worker.


The farmers are asking that the unused land belonging to the state farms be distributed to those farmers whose possessions are too small to provide them with a decent standard of living.


Workers World claims that since 1956 the farmers have been increasingly subsidized. Are they getting lavish handouts?


Bartering for fertilizer


Three-fourths of the country's food is produced by the private farms. Yet the state farms-which make up 25 percent of the farmland-get 75 percent of the subsidies. Small farmers are forced to barter pigs and potatoes to get fertilizer or coal. They lack modem equipment.


They want a fairer distribution of subsidies, a fight they have been waging since the 1950s.Nor are they demanding that this come "from the hides of the workers," but from the bureaucrats 'hides. Among Rural Solidarity's demands is an end to corruption and the expropriation of the hunting lodges and villas owned by party officials. They are also demanding that wage workers on the state farms be allowed to join Rural Solidarity.


The attitude of the farmers toward the working class was summed up by Rural Solidarity organizer Jan Kulasz when asked by a New York Times reporter if the farmers would hold back produce to force recognition of their union.


Said Kulasz, "The workers' and peasants' alliance could not do this. We could not have the children in the cities without milk."


Marcy traces the source of the allegedly growing capitalist sector in the countryside to the "abandonment of collectivization as a result of the 1956 uprising." What actually happened?


From 1950 to 1954 the Polish Stalinist government implemented a series of ruthless collectivization drives, forcing the peasants to give up their land. Few consumer goods made their way to the countryside, and the standard of living did not rise.


The peasants engaged in slowdown strikes, consuming whatever they could produce themselves, and delivering little to the government. Food shortages became acute. Food for the urban population had to be imported. By 1954 six of the most important crops had lower yields than under capitalism in the 1930s.


Following the workers' uprising in 1956-a struggle for economic and democratic rights-the Gomulka regime was forced to drop the drive against the working farmers and decrease the gap in subsidies paid to private as opposed to state farms.


Even with a slight decline in the amount of subsidies received, 80 percent of the collective farms

collapsed.


Even prominent Polish government economists concede that the decline of agriculture can be attributed to the Stalinist policy of forced collectivization. In the Soviet Union, the forcible expropriation of millions of Russian peasants in the late 1920s and early 1930s led to a disaster from which Soviet agriculture has still not recovered. Millions died of starvation after burning crops, eating their seed supplies, slaughtering millions of livestock, and destroying farm implements in a rebellion against this inhumane policy.


Even though Cuba has made significant progress in establishing state farms, the government defends the farmers' right to own their own land and sell their goods on the market for prices determined jointly by the government and farmers.


"Aside from the Polish Communist Party and those sincere and devoted administrators, there is no

organized political force of a progressive character capable of taking the initiative and redirecting Polish society in a genuinely socialist direction." Workers World believes this policy could inspire workers and poor peasants today and end the food shortage. On the contrary, the bureaucracy would literally drive the farmers into the arms of reaction. To win working farmers to support the workers state and to participate in more advanced forms of agriculture, they must be shown that state farms are more efficient and will benefit farmers. Equally important, working farmers must be able to make their decision without coercion and must see that the government is on their side.


Petty fiefdoms 


This is not the case in Poland. Small farmers face economic discrimination. Because the state farms are better subsidized, farmers resent them and view them as competitors. The state farms, moreover, are highly inefficient, needing two and one-half times more fertilizer to produce the same amount of food as the small farms.


The farmers hate the state farms because they see that these are not organized to benefit both the workers and the farmers. The bureaucratic farm managers operate them as petty fiefdoms, with lifestyles resembling the despised landlords of the past.


Cuba's policy toward small farmers sharply contrasts with that of Poland. 


Even though Cuba has made significant progress in establishing state farms, the government defends the farmers' right to own their own land and sell their goods on the market for prices determined jointly by the government and farmers.


Nor has the government withheld social benefits from small farmers in order to force them to give up their land. Instead, better housing, social security, communications, and education have been brought to the countryside.


In a speech to the first congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1975, Fidel Castro summed this up, "The revolutionary policy of unfailing respect for the free will of the working peasant, of effectively assisting and supporting him, is the solid basis on which the peasant-worker alliance today develops, growing stronger and stronger."


Cuban peasant given choice 


"The peasantry," he stressed, ''is the ally of the working class. The latter will never use coercive methods against its brothers in the struggle or depart from the use of persuasion, whether this is successful or not."


Cuba has held this position for the past twenty-two years despite the U.S. blockade and serious economic problems.


No wonder Cuban peasants are totally committed to the revolution- ready to fight and die for it. Workers World believes that the workers must look to the Stalinist rulers to end the crisis by crushing the working farmers. "It is, after all," Marcy says, "a socialist government." And he adds, 


"Aside from the Polish Communist Party and those sincere and devoted administrators, there is no organized political force of a progressive character capable of taking the initiative and redirecting Polish society in a genuinely socialist direction." 


This arrogant and patronizing tone reveals an utter contempt for the working people of Poland. The hatred of capitalism has been burned into the memory of the Polish workers and farmers, who suffered at least six million dead under Hitler's occupation.


They know the misery that capitalism brought them and would fight heroically to prevent its return.


Who defends socialism?


But to Marcy, it is not the workers who defend socialism, but the factory and farm managers, the generals, the cops, and the Communist Party bureaucrats-with their villas, swollen bank accounts, retinues of servants and prostitutes, fancy cars, and special stores.


But they are the most powerful reactionary forces within Poland today-the main obstacle to socialism. Workers World's support for these privileged bureaucrats says a lot about the kind of "socialism" it stands for.


Revolutionary socialists, on the contrary, have full confidence in the ability of the workers and working farmers in Poland to take control of their own destiny. They are the key to the socialist future.







U.S. middle class left in 1984 presidential elections: conciliation, cretinism, and collapse before bourgeois electoralism

How left responded to '84 elections

Socialist Workers Party called for break with capitalist politic


BY PETER THIERJUNG


A significant feature of the 1984 presidential elections was the fact that most organizations and publications that consider themselves socialist or communist backed capitalist candidate Walter Mondale. Some groups did so openly, while others did sounder the slogan "defeat Reagan." 


The Socialist Workers Party ran the only campaign calling for independent working-class political action in the elections, putting forward the socialist perspective of struggle to replace the capitalist U.S. government with a workers and farmers government. A review of the positions put forward by some left groups on the elections is useful in highlighting a few key lessons of this campaign.


'Guardian'


The Guardian, a radical newsweekly published in New York, departed from past practice and for the first time in a presidential campaign openly urged a vote for the Democrats. In endorsing Mondale, the August 8 Guardian argued that, "A defeat for the reactionaries in November can offer" an important breathing space to the left and progressive forces in the U.S., and, perhaps more importantly, to the liberation movements and anti-imperialist countries around the world."


When Mondale came out just a few weeks later endorsing the U.S. invasion of Grenada and threatening to "quarantine" Nicaragua, the Guardian squirmed a bit, but didn't back down one inch from urging a big vote for Mondale .


Workers World Party


The Workers World Party campaigned vigorously for capitalist candidate Jesse Jackson. When Jackson lost the Democratic Party nomination to Mondale, Workers World decided to step up its own campaign of Larry Holmes for president and Gloria La Riva for vice-president, rather than endorse Mondale.


This represented no break from capitalist politics, however. The September 6 issue of the party's paper Workers World, reporting on Jackson's endorsement of Mondal,; insisted that it had been correct to support Jackson's Democratic Party campaign and that the task was now to "build an even stronger independent working class movement to carry on the legacy of the Rainbow Coalition." According to the paper, "The candidacy of Jesse Jackson, particularly during the Democratic primaries, was objectively an independent campaign that exposed and challenged the racist structure and rules of the anti-poor, anti-worker bourgeois Democratic Party."


Democratic Socialists


The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has always supported Democratic candidates. This is in line with its outlook of accepting the framework of U.S. imperialism and seeking merely to reform it. Declaring that ''We are Americans and democratic socialists and Democrats," the DSA endorsed the Mondale-Ferraro ticket saying, "They . . . have the potential to create a liberal and humane administration infinitely superior to Ronald Reagan's one very count."


Advising the Democratic Party on how to win the election, Michael Harrington, a central leader of the DSA, pointed to the example of Harry Truman, who as Democratic president ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Writing in the May-June issue of Democratic Left, the DSA newsletter, Harrington said, "Think of Truman again. He is not my hero ... but we can sure learn from him. He talked tough facts in 1948. He talked to workers and blacks and farmers; he mobilized . . . . And he won. And we can win in 1984, but only if we are at least as much a bunch of hell raisers as he and his friends."


Communist Party


The Communist Party (CP) ran its own candidates, Gus Hall and Angela Davis, for president and vice-president. While not formally endorsing the Democratic ticket, the clear message of the Hall-Davis campaign was to defeat Reagan by electing Mondale. This is not a new position for the CP; it has backed liberal capitalist candidates for half a century.


"For the period of the 1984 elections," Gus Hall told a CP central committee meeting last June, "all our creative energies must be focused on defeating Reaganism."


"The reality," Hall was quoted as saying in the June 21 Daily World, the CP paper, "is that the electable candidate against Reagan is the lesser evil." He explained that the CP should only criticize Mondale if it would help strengthen the Democratic campaign. "Our party will express its differences and criticisms of the Democratic candidate when we think that will add to the struggle against Reaganism." As the polls began to more and more confirm that Reagan had a strong lead over Mondale, the CP campaign took on a shrill pitch. It argued that U.S. capitalism is rapidly moving toward fascism under Reagan and that unity of all "anti-Reagan" forces was desperately needed to prevent another Republican term in office.


An editorial titled "Fascist odor" in the October 6 issue of the People's World, the CP's West Coast weekly, conveyed this view: "We do not use the term 'fascism' lightly. It is not just the normal, oppressive, exploitative, and brutal rule of capital that has characterized this system since its advent 200 years ago. It is rule by a special sector of that capital, the very sector which put Ronald Reagan in the White House and in whose interests he presently serves. It can happen here. It is a clear and present danger, and good reason to make sure the Oval Office has a new resident after Nov.6."


The U.S. capitalist class will certainly prove capable of attempting to impose fascist rule, but that is not what is happening today.


The CP portrays Reagan as representing a "fascist" wing in order to cover up the fact that there is bipartisan support for the employers' policies of war, racism, and attacks on democratic rights. Mondale would have driven this ant labor offensive forward had he been elected, just as Reagan has done. Both represent the same fundamental class interests -the opposite of the interests of workers and working farmers. The U.S. rulers will step up their assault on working people here and abroad. Big class battles are going to erupt. But the best way to prepare working people for these battles is to tell them the unvarnished truth about the Republican and Democratic parties. The CP candidates have done the opposite. Let's take a few examples.


Fight against imperialist war


Throughout the campaign, Hall and Davis argued that nuclear war could well be the result of another four years of Reagan, while the world would be safer with Mondale in office .


As part of prettifying the imperialist policies of the Democrats, the CP- endorsed their call for a bilateral freeze on nuclear weapons production in the United States and the Soviet Union. This stance blurs the real source of war- U.S. imperialism and its twin parties - and implies the Soviet Union shares some responsibility for the nuclear arms buildup, for which Washington alone is to blame. The CP's support for Mondale led it to downplay the current war against Nicaragua and El Salvador being carried out with the support of Democrats and Republicans alike . It is precisely in such shooting wars that the danger of Washington using its nuclear arsenal is posed. But rather than expose the bipartisan character of the war drive, the CP told working people that voting Reagan out of office was the best way to guarantee peace. As Davis put it in an interview in the July 12 Daily World, "the most immediate priority of all in the peace movement, of all who are threatened by nuclear conflagration, is the defeat of Reagan and. his pathologically anti-Communist Administration. "Adaptation to the Democrats on the war question has led the CP to bend also to the patriotic, chauvinist propaganda campaigns of both capitalist parties.


For example, the October 24 Daily World gave favorable coverage to AFL-CIO Pres. Lane Kirkland's recent tour to garner votes for Mondale. The paper quoted uncritically Kirkland's anti-imports, patriotic line, reporting that the AFL-CIO bureaucrat attacked Reagan as "a man who appeals to patriotism for the benefit of those business and banking interests who would sell their own country out- people who don't care what flag flies over their plants or shops or ships."


- The CP has even gone so far as to print issues of the Daily World in red, white, and blue.


Abortion rights


Over the last few months, women's righto legal abortion has come under attack from right-wing groups, the Catholic Church hierarchy, and Democratic and Republican politicians; While claiming she will uphold legal abortion as long as it is the law of the land, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro has emphasized her personal and religious view that abortion is murder. Explaining why she has voted for some Medicaid funding for abortions, Ferraro said, "The cost of putting an unwanted child through the system far outweighs the cost of funding an abortion on demand." This is the line of the racist, population-control forces.


What has been the CP's response to Ferraro's reactionary views on abortion rights? A September 21 column in the Daily World rushed to defend her! "Ms. Ferraro's position on abortions is a principled, democratic position," it said.


SWP campaign


The Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialist Alliance approached the 1984 elections from a completely different standpoint than the other groups on the U.S. left.


The SWP ran 56 candidates for local office in 26 states. Its candidate for president was Mel Mason; for vice-president, Andrea Gonzalez.


The fight against imperialist war was at the center of the Mason-Gonzalez campaign as they visited plant gates, union halls, picket lines, farming areas, and working-class, Black, and Latino neighborhoods across the country. They talked to working people about the gains workers and peasants have won in Nicaragua and Cuba, and stressed the important role the labor movement must play in opposing· U.S. intervention in Central· America and the Caribbean.


The socialists called for international working-class solidarity with others fighting for their rights, from the striking British coal miners, to Puerto Ricans demanding independence, to Blacks struggling against South Africa's apartheid, to the workers and farmers of Vietnam and Kampuchea.


Mason and Gonzalez opposed the reactionary anti-imports, protectionist schemes used to falsely label workers in other countries as the source of unemployment in the United States, rather than the U.S, employers. The SWP ticket was the only one that consistently defended abortion rights. Mason and Gonzalez demanded repeal of all laws restricting the right to safe, legal abortion. They called for restoring- and expanding - government funds for women who want abortions and cannot afford them.


The socialists explained that the problems of war, attacks on Black and women's rights, farm foreclosures, and union-busting cannot be solved at the ballot box. They explained the need for working people to reject the Democratic and Republican parties- the twin parties of war, exploitation, racism, and sexism. What is needed, they said, is independent working-class political action that can organize and mobilize the victims of class exploitation to overturn capitalist rule and establish workers and farmers government.


Mason and Gonzalez called for a labor party based on a fighting, democratic trade union movement that will champion the interests of workers, farmers, Blacks, Latinos, women, and other ' victims of capitalism. They also called for the formation of an independent Black political party, which would not only be an advance for Blacks, but also help inspire and hasten the development of a labor party.


The goal of the labor party, they explained, will be to lead the struggle for workers and farmers government in the United States that will use the vast resources and technology of this country to aid in eliminating hunger, poverty and disease all over the globe. This government will abolish capitalism in the United State sand join the worldwide struggle for .socialism.


Peter Thierjung is national secretary of the Young Socialist Alliance and was a youth coordinator of the Mason/Gonzalez campaign .


November 16, 1984 The Militant

https://themilitant.com/1984/4842/MIL4842.pdf






1991 USSR coup attempt rocked world of U.S. Stalinists

Was Soviet coup an attempt to halt 'slide toward capitalist restoration'?


The Militant September 27, 1991


BY ARGIRIS MALAPANIS 


Tens of thousands of working people toppled the August 19 coup in the Soviet Union. But some organizations in the United States that call themselves socialist or communist gave outright support to the coup as it unfolded.


Leaders of the Workers World Party and the Communist Party (CPUSA) argue that the coup was an attempt to slow down steps by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev that are leading to the restoration of capitalism, a fate now sharply posed with the coup's failure. Soviet workers in fact did not oppose the coup, the Workers World Party claimed. Despite mistakes by the coup leaders "the masses on the whole accepted the coup," stated Sam Marcy, Workers World Party chairperson, in the September 5 Workers World weekly. He claimed the coup was "completely bloodless," dismissing the killings of three people in Moscow as accidents. Bourgeois commentators have also dismissed the resistance put up by Soviet workers to the coup. Events as they unfolded in the Soviet Union "call into question the popular picture in the U.S. of an outpouring of Russians and other Soviet citizens resisting autocratic government and demanding democracy," wrote liberal commentator Tom Wicker, in the New York Times. "Only perhaps 1 percent of Moscow's population turned out for what appeared on U.S. television to be a massive demonstration," Wicker added. 


Each of these analyses has a common starting point: they all attempt to conceal the nature of the class struggle in the USSR and try and keep workers around the world from seeing fellow toilers there as the only social force capable of resolving the deepening economic and social crisis into which the bureaucratic regime has led the country. A careful examination of the facts easily refutes these arguments. 


Workers in Soviet Union resist coup 


Masses of working people recognized that the coup's main goal was to close down the political elbow-room and democratic rights won in recent years. Refusing to return to the decades of complete suppression of these rights, workers and others held mass protests in defiance of the coup leaders' attempts to impose curfews and ban demonstrations. In Moscow a crowd of 5,000 surrounded the Russian parliament August 19, erecting barricades and maintaining an around-the-clock vigil. By the next day the protest swelled to 50,000. Demonstrators fraternized with troops, some of whom turned their tanks around to help defend the parliament building. 


Two hundred thousand demonstrated in Leningrad, now called St. Petersburg, and 400,000 in Kishinev, capital of the Moldavian republic. "To see how people were awakening, beginning to respect themselves, almost made me cry," said Aleksander Kondrashov, a 46-year-old machinist who joined the march in Leningrad with thousands of his coworkers from the Kirov tractor factory. The Kirov plant became an important center of resistance to the coup. 


Coal miners went on strike in several regions. After returning to work following the coup's failure, miners at Siberia's Kuzbass field, the country's largest, refused to load coal for delivery until all the coup leaders were arrested. 


These mobilizations also gave an impulse to actions against government officials in Soviet republics identified with the authoritarian rule of the central regime. 


Georgians opposed to the autocratic government of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia organized daily mass rallies outside the Georgian Parliament. In the Chechen-Ingush ethnic region, demonstrators who had been blockading the Parliament for 15 days demanding the resignation of parliamentary leaders for their support to the coup finally stormed the building, forcing the chairman to resign. 


Through their actions on the barricades and in the streets working people have widened the political space open to them and gained greater confidence for the struggles to come. 


Was coup attempt to avert capitalism? 

"The fact of the matter is that the Emergency Committee was attempting to return to the course of socialist construction and to abolish, to the extent possible, the ruinous and chaotic consequences of Gorbachev's introduction of capitalist relations," wrote Sam Marcy in the September 5 Workers World. 


"These eight men," he added, referring to the members of the short-lived State Committee for the State of Emergency set up during the coup, "knowledgeable and fearful of the consequences of bourgeois restoration, decided it was the only course to take." Gus Hall, chairman of the CPUSA, said after Gorbachev was returned to power that the coup "was an attempt to deal with real problems, but in a wrong way." In the wake of the coup Russia's President Boris Yeltsin "becomes the biggest danger," Hall added. These statements fly in the face of the fact that the coup leaders pledged to continue Gorbachev and Yeltsin's economic and social course, based on the vain hope of integrating the Soviet Union into the world capitalist market through introducing progressively greater use of market mechanisms in the economy. [My emphasis- JR].


The coup leaders also promised to hold a "nationwide discussion" on the treaty Gorbachev had negotiated with top officials of most republics of the Soviet Union. They claimed they would solve problems of food and housing through an immediate return to "labor discipline and order," thinly disguised code words for the intensification of labor under the threat of the whip. 


Advertising one or another wing of the ruling layer in the Soviet Union as the "real" defenders of socialism is the stock-in-trade of Stalinism and its adherents around the world. The "eight men," Gorbachev, and Yeltsin represent different wings of a petty-bourgeois social layer - best described as a caste -that through force and violence usurped power from the working class allied with the peasantry. This counterrevolution as led by Joseph Stalin beginning in the early 1920s. By the mid-1930s the rising bureaucratic layer had consolidated its hold on power, reversed many of the social gains of the October 1917 Russian revolution, and driven working people out of political life. By presenting the accomplishments of the working people as its own and draping itself with the mantle of the first victorious socialist revolution, the bureaucratic regime convinced many fighters around the world that it was a progressive force. But, as the legacy of Stalinist rule comes to the light of day, the fact that it is 100 percent counterrevolutionary is clearer to millions. 


Arguing that a "socialist course" can be advanced by the methods of the coup leaders negates the fact that socialism can only be achieved by a politically conscious and mobilized working class progressively taking on more and more of the decision making and administration of all aspects of economic and social life. 


Because this would mark the death knell of the bureaucratic regime, the caste organizes to prevent any motion in that direction. 


Is capitalism on the agenda? 


A September 5 editorial in the Workers World says capitalism has already been reintroduced in Eastern Europe. "Look at the destruction left in Eastern Europe. The introduction of capitalism has been a tyranny as bad as any terror." 


The statement released by the CPUSA following the coup's failure said: "Developments have quickly moved to a new stage. Processes are now in motion that inflame anti-Semitism and nationalism, seriously threaten the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the dismantling of socialism, and push the country in the direction of capitalism and wholesale plunder of the USSR." But nationalized property relations- the central conquest of the Russian revolution - remain in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 


Top officials in the Eastern European and Soviet workers states, many with overtly procapitalist and proimperialist views, have repeatedly announced ambitious "market re-form programs" and their intentions to sell off basic industry to private capital. But each has backed off when faced with deep-going opposition from working people to each concrete step needed to reintroduce private ownership of industry and banking. 


Resistance by working people has proved to be the major stumbling block to any "peaceful" transition to capitalism. The Wall Street Journal reported that Gorbachev, in a September 11 meeting with U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, "stressed that he hoped to press ahead with making the ruble a convertible currency in order to attract foreign investment." The exchange rate of the ruble today is 3.6 cents. Many workers earn about 300 rubles, or about $10.80, a month. Since the ruble is not a convertible currency this does not translate into comparable prices for goods purchased by workers. 


But it does give a picture of the implications of any attempt to make the ruble convertible for workers' standard of living. Clearly such a move would provoke colossal social explosions. 


A section of the leadership of the U.S. Communist Party that aligns itself with the Gorbachev wing of the bureaucracy took the position that the Soviet coup should have been clearly condemned. 


"Some in the leadership of our party reacted to this coup differently than the Soviet public," said an article in the September 7 issue of the People's Weekly World, the news-paper published by the Communist Party. The article was signed by James Jackson, Charlene Mitchell, and Danny Rubin. "Having identified Gorbachev as the source of all of the crisis developments in the Soviet Union, they tended to welcome his removal" the CP leaders wrote. This "led to the CPUSA National Board vote to 'neither condemn nor condone'" the coup. The authors said the coup "dealt a body blow to perestroika." 


Public rift in CPUSA 


A similar line marking the growing public rift in the CP, was carried in an article by Mark Solomon in the same issue of the People's Weekly World. Solomon argued that Gorbachev's policies have resulted in "giant strides for peace" and "began to put an end to the stifling identification of socialism with totalitarianism." 


That Gorbachev's course, rather than that of the coup leaders, represents some progressive thrust forward for working people is also the position of others on the "left". "The delicate, evolutionary process, painstakingly put together by President Mikhail Gorbachev, was beginning to bear fruit," wrote Fred Weir in the Guardian, a weekly newspaper. "The coup attempt blasted it all out of the arena," he added. But there is nothing progressive about Gorbachev or Yeltsin's pragmatic policy decisions. Both are today responsible for organizing the defense of the privileges and prerogatives of the caste, a task that places them as point men in the assault on the rights and standard of living of working people. Working people can and should oppose the coup and identify with those in the streets without having to extend one iota of political support to Yeltsin or Gorbachev. 


In hopes of ameliorating its deep-going economic and social crisis, the regime in Moscow has staked its fortunes in the last few years on earning expanding investments and massive loans, trading privileges, and entry into imperialist financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund. It has attempted to accomplish this through political concessions to Washington and other imperialist powers. 


In craven pursuit of this, Gorbachev's regime threw its support behind the U.S.-led onslaught against the Iraqi people. So much for "strides for peace." 


The same economic and political considerations lie behind other foreign policy moves by Moscow such as growing diplomatic relations with Israel and trade with the apartheid regime in South Africa; its open endorsement of the "two Koreas" policy long advocated by the capitalist regime in Seoul and its masters in Washington to block the aspirations of the Korean people for national reunification; and its steps towards rapidly implementing trade relations with Cuba at world market prices paid for in scarce hard currencies. 


These facts help to answer Gus Hall's argument that "the USSR has also been a strong force for the rights of third world countries and against racism." 


Class-collaborationism 


Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union have followed a class-collaborationist course with imperialism for decades. This has led to the betrayal of many revolutionary opportunities the world over. 


Following the Stalin-Hitler pact in 1939 the Soviet regime cynically carved Poland in half in a deal with German imperialism and turned over thousands of revolutionaries to the Nazis. Following World War II the Kremlin and its supporters in Stalinist parties organized the betrayal of revolutionary opportunities in Greece, France, and Italy, and joined with French imperialism in bloodily suppressing anticolonial rebellions in Indo-china and Algeria. The Soviet bureaucracy has always been the agent of imperialism inside the workers state. 


This is the opposite of the internationalism of the Bolshevik party that sought to aid workers' struggles in other countries and extend the revolution. 


As a result of the weakening of the bureaucratic apparatus in the Soviet Union the Stalinist misleaders are less able than ever before to disorient and betray revolutionary workers who look to them under the illusion that their policies point the road out of oppression and exploitation and towards socialism. 


The CPUSA's claim that the Communist Party in the Soviet Union has been an instrument in the fight of socialism is also utterly false. 


The Bolshevik Party, renamed the Communist Party after the October 1917 Russian revolution, was destroyed by Stalin's counterrevolution and turned into an instrument of brutal repression. 


The party's internal democracy was abolished and tens of thousands of communist workers in the party were killed, jailed, or exiled. By the rnid-1930s all those who led the party in the early years of the revolution had become victims of or capitulated to Stalin's terror. 


Since then the CP, along with the secret police (the KGB), has for many decades been an integral part of maintaining the rule of the bureaucracy. 


Gorbachev and Yeltsin, who both back the recent measures banning the CP, are simply registering the fact it is no longer a useful tool for maintaining the caste's rule over working people. 


Gorbachev and Yeltsin, though, are acting against what they consider to be a political party. Any moves against current or former members of the CP by the central government in Moscow or the various regimes in the republics that restrict the right to form political parties should be protested by working people. 


Working people in the Soviet Union are now taking the initial steps back into political life. Out of their struggles, over time, they will develop class consciousness and an internationalist outlook. Out of these fighters and revolutionaries will come a communist party capable of leading the toilers in a political revolution that will sweep the bureaucratic caste from power.


Source: http://themilitant.com/1991/5534/MIL5534.pdf





Monday, December 16, 2019

Reading notes on Part Two of The meaning of the Second World War by Ernest Mandel [Verso: 1986]






The meaning of the Second World War

by Ernest Mandel

Verso: 1986


Part Two:  Events and Results


Chapter 10: The Opening Gambit In Europe


....During the interlude of the drole-de-guerre, Hitler feverishly prepared the offensive against France, based upon the brilliant strategic plan by von Manstein and Guderian. Instead of trying to encircle the French armies in Eastern France (as was done success­ fully in 1870 and tried unsuccessfully with the Schlieffen plan in 1914), the Wehrmacht would attempt to encircle them in the centre of the front by a bold breakthrough at Sedan and a quick rush for the English Channel. General Gamelin walked right into the trap by sending his crack mobile divisions into Holland and Belgium on 10 May 1940. The result was not a foregone conclusion, since the actual German superiority of forces was slight.

But the German gamble paid off because of superiority in strategic conception and rapidity of military execution. 


....What stood between [Hitler] and final victory in the West was not so much the Expeditionary Corps under Lord G ort, miraculously repatriated from Dunkirk, but the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy


....RAF fought over its own territory, had a superior information and communications system (radar played a key role here) and employed better tactics


....By 13 November 1940 the Luftwaffe had lost 1733 airplanes in the Battle of Britain out of the 2,200 it had committed to the battle. By the end of March 1941, the losses rose to 2,265 planes, with 8,000 pilots or other flying personnel either killed, wounded or missing. In contrast, the RAF lost 915 planes up to November 1940. What really saved Britain was Hitler's determination not to limit himself to a purely European war but to go for world hegemony - i.e. to attack the Soviet Union. 


....Hitler's obsession with the conquest of the Ukraine (which made sense from the viewpoint of the more aggressive sectors of German imperialism), and a nagging doubt about the USSR's real industrial strength, explains the concentration of efforts on Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. For him, as for Roosevelt, the Mediterranean and the Near East were not of such great strategic importance.


....For the British bourgeoisie, the loss of Egypt and Middle Eastern oil would have meant as much as losing the British homeland, for the homeland would come next. So the Mediterranean became British imperialism 's main theatre of war and would remain so for three years.


....a basic rule of war was demonstrated: the more battles are fought which do not end the war, the more the marginal cost of partial victories weighs upon the final outcome. German imperialism won an easy victory in Norway, but its navy's losses in that war made Operation Sea Lion both materially and psychologically impossible without a prior defeat of the RAF. Holland was over­ come in four days and Crete taken in seven, but the loss of para­ troops and glider planes made a similar approach to Malta impossible.  The victory against Poland was easy, but the two hundred or so Polish pilots who escaped to Britain may well have made the difference between victory and defeat for Fighter Command in September 1940




Chapter 11: The Unfolding World Battle


....Germany's attack on the Soviet Union not only endowed the war with a new geographical dimension; it partially modified its social character as well. For whilst it is true that the German imperialists were out to plunder other countries, seizing mines, factories, banks almost ubiquitously, this transfer of ownership affected other capitalists. In the case of the USSR, by contrast, the property to be plundered was not capitalist but collectively owned. Hence the intended appropriation involved a social counter-revolution on a gigantic scale. A parallel can be drawn here with armies of the European monarchies in 1793 which, had they defeated the French revolutionary army, would have restored the ancien regime-i.e. the social and economic privileges of the nobility and clergy - except that in 1941 it would have been a foreign nobility.


....Stalin found himself in a position to divert a significant proportion of battle-hardened Soviet forces from the Far East after receiving authoritative information that Japan would remain neutral in the German-Soviet war.  The successful defence of Moscow was thus intimately linked to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Hitler had been stung by the news of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, coming as it did so soon after the formulation of Barbarossa.


....If the Soviet-Japanese non-aggression pact seems reasonable in the given circumstances, the positive military alliance between the Soviet Union and Britain of July 1941, subsequently joined by the United States, appears to be another matter altogether. Why should one imperialist power ally itself with a workers' state against another imperialist power? Today, with Soviet Union having become a world power, doubt as to the wisdom of that decision is proportionately greater in the bourgeois camp. It certainly came as a shock to Hitler, who was incredulous for several weeks. In the conjuncture, however, it made sense - a case of choosing the lesser evil. Unwilling to fight the war on the European continent, the British and Americans saw the Alliance as one that would simultaneously weaken both Germany and the Soviet Union, after which they would come in for mopping-up operations. To ensure that the U S SR would bear the brunt of German aggression without collapsing under it, the two countries offered material aid.


....one should add that Churchill was not completely unconstrained in his decision to extend support to the Soviet Union after 22 June 1941. Refusal to come to her aid or an attitude of studied neutrality would have provoked enormous opposition, especially in the working class. Furthermore, at that point in time it was not at all clear how Britain could win the war without the gigantic Soviet effort in the East; the whole situation of national unity could have been imperiled by an incorrect decision - and Churchill was lucid enough not to make such a mistake.




Chapter 12: Towards The Climax


....To their military and economic pressure the Americans now added a political dimension: condemnation of the policy of colonialism practised by Western imperialist states, which was perceived by the US public as one of the main causes of defeat in the Far East. This defeat had been astonishingly rapid. By the end of January 1942 the British and Australian defence units had retreated from the Malay peninsula into Singapore, only to surrender themselves in mid-February to General Yamashita. Hong Kong, the symbol of global British commercial interests, and Singapore, the very heart of the Empire's defence system in the Far East, were now both in Japanese hands. Then, at the start of April, the Philippines were taken - a heavy blow to the American pride. By mid-May nearly all of Burma was under Japanese occupation. The Burma road to China was now cut and only the expensive air route across the Himalayas remained for the supply of China and the American forces there. British India was threatened in turn. This series of great Japanese successes represented a major turning-point in the history of Asia, which no subsequent defeat would completely erase; for once the West was humbled by the East. Only the American victory at Midway checked Japan's military momentum.


....The collapse of British power in the Far East was not just a question of the Empire's weakness there. After all, Japan had managed to conquer this huge area with less than 200,000 men. (In comparison, the British Imperial Army lost 140,000 soldiers at Singapore, most of whom became prisoners of war.) Rather, the defeat indicated the subject peoples' unwillingness to fight for the British cause. The Japanese victories reflected the decomposition of the political and social fabric of British Imperial rule. 


....Churchill, full of venom towards the movement for Indian independence, and also partly out of sheer racialist prejudice, decided against any help to alleviate the mass sufferings. Under these circumstances, Gandhi and Nehru thought it wiser to channel mass indignation through the movement of civil disobedience than risk losing control over popular forces to a more radical nationalist leadership or even a revolutionary one. 


....the Western Allies' ability to maintain themselves in the Mediterranean crucially depended on the Red Army's determination to block the German drive to the oil fields of Baku. For, if successful, it would not only have ensured plentiful fuel supplies for the German war machine (and throughout the war oil was the Achilles' heel of the Wehrmacht) but would also have lined up Turkey and Iran behind Germany, thus changing the whole geopolitical balance between the  Mediterranean and India to Britain's disadvantage. 


....1942 was the year in which the Soviet Union once again came to the verge of defeat. At the end of 1941 Stalin, intoxicated by the successful repulse of the German advance on Moscow, became convinced that the Red Army would break the enemy in the new year. At his insistence Stavka almost immediately adopted a plan for an all-out counter-offensive which was to strike simultaneously at the three Germ an Army Groups (North, South and Centre) along a thousand-mile front. The scale of the proposed operation was incompatible with current Soviet resources of skilled man­power and materiel. In addition, it was strategically unsound: both Zhukov and Voznesensky, then in charge of the war economy, were against it. They proved correct. Once the initial surprise wore off, the German commanders were able to stabilise the front line, leaving the Red Army with no strategic superiority anywhere at the end of March. Worse was to follow. 


....Stalin was once again able to override his generals' proposals in favour of his own policy of 'simultaneous attack and defence' - i.e. a policy of generalised confusion.




Chapter 13: The Decisive Turning-Points


....In early November 1942 the Western Allies began their landing in French North Africa. In February 1943 Japanese expansion in the Pacific was halted by the US Navy. In the same month Germany's advance came to an end with the Red Army's victory at Stalingrad. Thus, within a few months the Second World War turned to the advantage of the Allies. They had now conquered the initiative and would not lose it again. Battles at Tunis, Kursk and Saipan rounded out the turn.


....The  downfall of Mussolini and the withdraw al of Germ an troops from the Balkans would enable, for the first time since 1938, the reemergence of a sector of the European working class - in Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece - as an autonomous protagonist in the global drama.


....Now the time of Blitzkrieg was over. The moment had come for confrontations between ever greater concentrations of mechanised weapons - in the first place, tanks and airplanes - and their production and utilization on the battlefields with maximum efficiency and tactical skill. Goebbels formula of total war now became a reality: total war replaced Blitzkrieg to the inevitable and progressive disadvantage of Germany and Japan.


....The question of who would be recognised as French spokesman in this 'liberated' territory of France had significant implications vis-a-vis the future legitimacy and role of a reconstituted French state. Giraud had many qualifications in American eyes: he was anti-communist, anti-German and anti-British. In contrast, de Gaulle's close involvement with London and his ambition - and potential - to represent the French nation made him highly suspect to Washington. T e difference between Giraud and de Gaulle, between the United States and Great Britain, also centered on the question of whether France would be weak or strong after the war, ie. whether a capitalist Europe would be pro-American or relatively independent of the USA. T e British bourgeoisie clearly understood at this point that Britain would not be equal in power or influence to the USA and the USSR and therefore sought to constitute a kind of West European bloc. 


....the decisive element was the long resistance of the Stalingrad defenders. It was this resistance which depleted German reserves and gave Stavka the necessary time to plan and organize in minute detail the encirclement of the Sixth Army. That resistance in turn clearly reflected a social phenomenon: the soldiers' and workers' superiority in urban, house-to-house or barricade fighting. Already, during the Spanish Civil War, a similar observation could be made of the battles of Barcelona and Madrid in 1936. Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet Sixty-Second Army, which formed the backbone of Stalingrad's defence, would later w rite: 'City fighting is a special kind of fighting . . . . The buildings in the city act like breakwaters. They broke up the advancing enemy formations and made their forces go along the streets . . . . The troops defending the city learned to allow German tanks to come right on top of them - under the guns of the anti-tank artillery and anti-tank riflemen; in  this way they invariably cut off infantry from the tanks and destroyed the enemy's organized battle formation.'


....The Japanese high command sacrificed tremendous resources at unimportant points of the peripheral war, obstinately refusing to cut their losses and withdraw to the inner line of defence. A fundamental split between the army and the navy supervened. The army's priority was to cover its positions in Indonesia and the Philippines through offensive operations in New Guinea. The Imperial Navy, on the other hand, was preoccupied with defenceof its great naval base at Truk Island, covered by its strongholds in the Solomons. These differences over strategy paralysed the Japanese high command for a fatal six months. 

    A similar difference in strategic conception arose between General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz. MacArthur favoured concentrating all efforts upon the reconquest of the Philippines - in the final analysis, for political reasons. He understood the discredit suffered by the Army - and Western imperialism in general - as a result of the crushing defeats of early 1942. He was afraid that without a spectacular victory there the Philippines would be permanently lost to the USA. Nimitz, on the other hand, understood that the Japanese were capable of tremendous defensive efforts in strongholds like Rabual, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, and wanted to bypass them through island hopping, aiming straight at the Japanese homeland. In the end both commanders were allowed to follow their favoured course, with a two-pronged attack towards Japan, but with the US Navy carrying the main burden of the military roll-back.




Chapter 14: The War of Attrition


.... the reserves which the Axis powers could mobilise were much larger than initially assumed. Their previous conquests had provided them with a lot of space from which to withdraw before the war could hit directly at their homelands. Withdraw they did, but rather slowly, in good order and - at least in the case of the Wehrmacht - with a deal of military skill. 


....Their class interest was confronted with a real dilemma: how to liquidate fascism whilst preserving the foundations of the bourgeois state, i.e. their political class rule, indispensable for neutralising or, if necessary, confronting mass mobilisations and the threat of revolution. 


[Allied bombing of German cities] ..... Stubborn persistence - if not indignation - rather than demoralisation, was the net effect of the resulting wholesale destruction and massive losses imposed on defenceless civilians. The only demoralisation occurred inside the Luftwaffe (particularly affecting Goering and his immediate cronies) and, to a lesser extent, inside the High Command, where the failure to adequately protect vital war industries was recognized as a harbinger of defeat. The second objective, that of forcing Germany to its knees by destroying specific sectors of the war industry (in the first place, synthetic oil, synthetic rubber and ball bearings), could probably have met with great success had the British and American air forces concentrated on these targets, instead of conducting inhuman raids on the civilian populations of large cities, like the incendiary bomb attacks on Cologne, Hamburg and, later, Dresden.




Chapter 15: The Final Onslaught


....The Anglo-American landing in Normandy on 6 June 1944; the August 1944 and January 1945 offensives of the Red Army which brought it from the Dniester to the Danube and from the Vistula to the Oder, respectively, capturing Hitler's industrial base in Silesia; and the conquest of the Philippines between the Battle of the Leyte Gulf and the landing in the Lingayen Bay (November 1944February 1945) - these opened the final onslaught on the homelands of German and Japanese imperialism which would culminate in their collapse in May and August 1945. All these offensives ended in crushing defeats for the foes of the Allied powers. 


....The immediate purpose of the German Ardennes offensive was logistical: to capture Liege and Antwerp and, with them, huge Allied supply dumps, in the first instance oil, of which the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe were already desperately short. As for the broader strategic objective, this was based on the hope that the internal contradictions of the Allied camp, and especially the prospect of Soviet occupation of Eastern and Central Europe, would convince the Anglo-Americans to go for a separate peace. 


....German tactical victories were, in reality, huge political defeats. The battles of Arnhem and of the Ardennes confirmed that military victories are not ends in themselves, but means of obtaining political goals which must be clearly understood and prioritised. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to Kesselring's successful resistance against the Allies' attempts to effect a break­ through in Italy. Contrary to an opinion expressed by many experts, including General MacArthur, the Italian front was far from being a military 'diversion', i.e. a squandering of forces on a secondary theatre of war which might have been better employed in France or the Pacific. Given the existing superiority of the Allied armies on these two fronts, the diversion to them of the thirty Allied divisions stationed in Italy would not have made any difference to the outcome of the war. But the successful breakthrough of these divisions in the spring, summer and autumn of 1944 towards the Po valley and, from there, through the Ljubljana gap would have changed the map of Europe. Anglo-American forces would have arrived in Budapest, Vienna and Prague much earlier than the Red Army.


....a terrible tragedy evolved further to the North on the main Minsk-Berlin axis. Spurred on by the ambiguous appeals of Red Army commanders, motivated by the desire to liberate their capital by their own efforts and to establish a more favourable balance of forces for the London-based Polish government-in-exile vis-a-vis the Lublin regime set up by Stalin, and also anxious to obtain the maximum amount of weapons for self-defence against ongoing repression by the NKVD, the Polish underground Armija Krajowa (dominated by the social-democratic PPS rather than by bourgeois reactionaries) rose in Warsaw against the German occupation forces when the Soviet army reached the Vistula. The uprising was based upon a doubly-incorrect assumption: that the Red Army would join, or at least help, them (Stalin had promised this when meeting Mikolayczik the first day of the uprising - a promise he repeated in a telegram sent to Churchill on15 August 1944); and that the Wehrmacht had been decisively weakened along the Vistula. In fact, the Wehrmacht assembled a still impressive force to counter both the Red Army's drive and the Warsaw insurrection. And Stalin blocked all help to Warsaw, letting the Germans do the dirty work of liquidating the Armija Krajowa he would otherwise have had to do himself. As a result of that double miscalculation, the uprising was crushed by the Nazis, in spite of the heroism of the combatants. Their butchers took a terrible revenge: 'After two months of merciless fighting, sixty-two days of unending horror and atrocity, with 15,000 men of the 30 to 40,000 of the Armija Krajowa dead, the population forcibly evacuated or murdered on the spot, 150,000 to 200,000 civilians immolated out of one million, the dead entombed in the ruins and the wounded lying untended on the roads or suffering their last agonies in cellars, surrender could no longer be delayed. On October 2(1944) the fighting ceased: the Poles were collected for deportation or extinction in the gas chambers, after which the Germans bent to the maniacal labour of levelling Warsaw to the ground.' The Red Army's halt at the Vistula lasted five months. 


....A detailed, sometimes moving narrative of what happened in Japan prior to the dropping of the atomic bombs, of the peace overtures already under way, of the utter falsity of the thesis of the 'risk of one million American dead' (recently rehashed by Nixon) is provided in The Day Man Lost: 'At night, while the rest of the people huddled hungry in bombed out dwellings, those in power entertained one another at luxurious dinner parties, parties that often turned into nightlong orgies. It is hardly surprising that yamatodamashi was on the wane. This increasing demoralisation of the people was what chiefly preoccupied Prince Konoye who feared that if, or when, Japan lost the war, the masses would turn to communism as a panacea. . . . The only way to retain the (old imperialist) system . . . was to terminate the war as swiftly and painlessly as possible.


....By the time the atomic bomb was dropped on Japanese cities, the Americans had already clarified for their own benefit and also, where appropriate, for that of their wartime 'friends', the three basic postulates of their policy towards defeated Japan: that the occupation of the Japanese mainland would be a purely American affair; that the occupying power would retain the Emperor as a 'symbol of authority'; and that a Japan sympathetic to the United States was desirable to check the Soviet presence in Asia. As in Western Europe so also in the Far East, the USA sought to prevent any transfer of power to the local Resistance: the General Order No. 1 ensured that the collapse of Japanese power in Korea, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies and Indochina would not benefit the resurgent nationalist and Communist Left. However, since only actual occupation would guarantee the fulfillment of American aims, the USA made peace with the archaic forces of colonialism or corrupt conservatism in order to restore the desirable status quo ante helium now everywhere in its death throes. Washington's global policy in the Far East met with little opposition in Moscow and it was the Chinese Revolution that decisively altered the geopolitical balance in Asia against US design.


....where [the German ruling class] stood militarily was not determined solely by force of arms: several miscalculations by the imperialist and bourgeois powers led to the final outcome. The basic miscalculation was the German bourgeoisie's. Had it capitulated in the summer of 1944 or had the 20 July 1944 conspiracy against Hitler been successful the map of Europe would have been quite different today. When German historians and politicians, and some of their covert Anglo-Saxon brethren, blame Roosevelt's insistence on 'unconditional surrender' for the Red Army's occupation of Eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, it is a typical case of cutting one's nose to spite one's face. After all, what was involved was their own property and state power. Bourgeois political and military leaders who end up losing half of their state through pride, or because they hope against all the evidence to regain through last-minute political upheavals what they have lost on the battlefield are simply a bunch of incompetents who do not defend their class interests properly.


This is not to say that the 'unconditional surrender' formula was a wise one from the stand-point of the Allies (neither Churchill nor Stalin were in favour of it). It certainly prolonged the war by generating in the German High Command (though less so amongst big capital) a certain psychological resistance to suing for peace. But in the first place it prolonged the war at the expense of the German bourgeoisie, which should have known better. After all, the remnants of the Third Reich under Admiral Doenitz ultimately did surrender unconditionally in May 1945. Would it not have been wiser, from their own point of view, to have done so in the summer of 1944, when there was still not a single soldier and especially no Russians on German soil?






Chapter 16:  The Outcome


....Bourgeois political and  military leaders who end up losing half of their state through pride, or because they hope - against all the evidence - to regain through last-minute political upheavals what they have lost on the battlefield are simply a bunch of incompetents who do not defend their class interests properly.


....the German bourgeoisie should lay the blame where it belongs: on its own political blindness - for sure, Hitler's in the first place, but also that of all its main military commanders and of most of its political representatives as well.


Behind that blindness lay typical imperialist arrogance - refusal to acknowledge defeat and the stubborn clinging to the hope of a last-minute 'political miracle', i.e. the hope that the inevitable cold war' would transform itself into a new 'hot war' between Western imperialism and the U SSR before the 'hot war' with Germany was over. Such obstinacy was that of reckless gamblers, characteristic of broad layers of German imperialism 's leading personnel since its inception (for historical reasons which have been explained many times). 


....The US, on the other hand, pursued its policy of excluding not only its class enemy, but also its closest ally, Britain. Admiral King, one of main American strategists, was not the only one to oppose all aid from the Royal Navy in the 'mopping up' operations against Japan. Britain was excluded from sharing in the occupation of Japan, and in the Middle East Truman did not intervene solely to stop Stalin: what followed was a rapid substitution of the USA for Britain as the regional hegemonic power. If the way in which World War Two reshaped the map of Europe and the Far East was largely decided on the battlefield, and not on the conference tables at Yalta and Potsdam, military-diplomatic realpolitik was disrupted and partially neturalized by the irruption of independent class forces onto the political area - class forces, that is, not controlled by Big Power military commands or governments. The most telling case is that of Yugoslavia. 


....In Indonesia and Indochina, all manoeuvres by imperialism and the Kremlin to restrict the huge national liberation movements to the horizon of 'reformed' colonial empires failed. Long wars ensued which, in the case of Indochina, would eventually develop into socialist revolution, and, in the case of Indonesia, end in bloody defeat. In China especially, imperialism and the Soviet bureaucracy showed themselves unable to contain or suppress peasant uprisings in the Northern plains and to halt a civil war which would result in the victory of the Chinese Revolution.




Chapter 18 The Legacy


....Powerful as it was, US imperialism could not single-handed simultaneously confront the Soviet Union, the process of permanent revolution in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, and a periodically restive and explosive working class in several imperialist countries, with its own manpower and military resources. It needed allies and it had to cultivate them, in the first place financially. As a result, US imperialism saw the law of uneven and combined development assert itself for the first time against the United States.

When the US launched the reconstruction and consolidation of West German and Japanese imperialism (just as it had previously assisted in the reconstruction and consolidation of their French and Italian counterparts), it initiated a process which, as a consequence of the defeat and destruction these powers had suffered, offered them the possibility of achieving faster growth in average industrial labour productivity and a more modern industrial profile than the USA itself. Thus the build-up of the American military machine also performed the function of pressurizing the US 's reluctant allies not to overstep certain bounds of financial, commercial and industrial autonomy within the alliance a function which was itself gradually undermined by a change in the financial and industrial balance of forces to the detriment of US imperialism. So in spite of American military hegemony, the 'reign of the dollar' and predominant American ownership/control of multinational corporations did not last longer than twenty years after World War II. And if one bears in mind the growth in Soviet industrial and military power, which broke the American monopoly on nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them in the 1950s, the 'American Century' scarcely lasted for more than a decade. Bretton Woods, the reign of the dollar, the reign of US-controlled multinational corporations, did enable American and world capitalism to avoid economic collapse on the scale of the Great Depression after 1945-48. But they were gradually eroded, eventually leading to the long depression which commenced at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s....