Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Gods of The Rising Sun (1940)

From the January 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

The general opinion amongst working men is that the present war will soon be over; they look at Germany’s plight in connection with the blockade; they see the increasing power of the Allies and arrive at an optimistic conclusion—“it won’t be long now.”

When one probes deeply, however, there are few signs of a cessation of the conflict, everything points to its extension; it does not need any great powers of observation to perceive that Britain is preparing to fight on two fronts; she is making a greater effort than she ever made at any time previously. Underneath the calm of methodical organisation there are fierce fires raging. Our ruling class know that for them everything is at stake; the die is cast for a struggle that may be long in its duration and terrible while it lasts. 

Men are arriving from the Dominions, others are being trained in parts of the Empire overseas, plans are made, or in course of preparation, for the production of the munitions of war on a gigantic scale, and on every hand those who run may read. We are now at the beginning; the end is nowhere in sight.

The invasion of Finland by Russia may lead to a situation that will cause Stalin to fear the defeat of Germany may have serious repercussions that will spell disaster for the clique who rule the land of the Soviets; already there are movements amongst his tools and agents indicating that these are secretly working for a victory for Hitler. 

Dorothy Thompson, writing in The Times of Victoria, British Columbia, says: 
 "Of all the sublime impudences the greatest is Molotoff's statement that ‘an ideology cannot be destroyed by force.’ If it cannot be, one wonders how Stalin justifies his purges of the old Bolsheviks and of all other ‘deviationists’ inside Russia. One wonders what he has to say about the class struggle.
  “In a speech which is an apology for every  idea advanced by Hitler, including pan-Slavism as the parallel of pan-Germanism—the Russo-Poles are blood brothers—Molotoff denounces the French Government for persecuting French Communists. . . .  No word is spoken regarding the German Communists. . . .  No mention is made of the fact that until this war actually began, and until the German Russian Pact betrayed them, the French Communists had more freedom in France than anybody has in Russia.
  “And when it comes to the persecution of Communists the Soviet Union leads the world. Stalin has murdered more Communists than all ether countries combined, and among them the whole intelligentsia of the original Communist movement.”
She points out that the “protection” offered to the Baltic countries, and this now applies to Finland, is the same protection that Hitler offered Czechoslovakia.
  “The Soviet Union stands exposed before the world as the apologist of Nazism, a fellow-traveller of Nazi policy, and as a betrayer of its supporters throughout the world.”
Miss Thompson points out that Molotoff’s speech might well have been written by Ribbentrop or Hitler. "Had one of them written it not a word would have had to be changed. The Nazi and the Communists may have different imperialist aims. . . . This is only the struggle of two despots for unlimited naked power at the expense of the West.”

This is all very well, but we must never forget the real basis to be found in the strife inherent in the capitalist system; our own ruling class are still merciless exploiters, although Hitler and Stalin may be unscrupulous scoundrels.

The writer above referred to uses striking language. The article concludes: 
  "Treachery, mendacity and cynicism; the rationalisation of cheap opportunism—these are not the means by which the spirit of man will be awakened to the joyful acceptance of new responsibilities.”
She rightly says: 
  "They do not invite to adventure, but to adventurism; not to heroism, but to intrigue. They do not reveal the truth but hide it in the dirty rags of lies.
  "And because of this, whether they win or lose this war, they who have seized revolution as a personal (emphasis mine) weapon, will surely and certainly lose the revolution.
  "The great renewal and renovation which will come, in society, if not in this generation, then certainly in the next, will reject them as racketeers on the revolutionary spirit, as embezzlers and seducers of men’s faith and men’s hopes.”
The scene of operations will, in all probability, soon move eastward, and it is in this quarter of the globe that Russia will play a strong part, and so also will the Nipponese.

Mona Gardner, in her book, "The Menacing Sun," has much to say in this connection.
 "Singapore started out by being a swampy island, with a small fishing village on it. To-day something like 420,000,000 have turned its 220 square miles into one of the most formidable military and naval bases anywhere. More than one military expert has predicted that the history of the world will be decided at Singapore some day. A lot of people are wondering if that day is not getting uncomfortably close, especially when they stop to weigh recent events in China with the pronouncements of Japan's military clique about their inalienable right to dominate Asia."
Singapore is the great pivot about which trade between Asia and Europe revolves.. Referring to the preparations for the defence of the port, Mona Gardner points out: "These grimly expensive events are not gestures. They all mean business. They very definitely and explicitly say that Great Britain is not retiring from Asia. And there seems to be no question in anyone's mind but that this message is intended for Japan. It means that something like (if offices and men’s salaries are included) £50,000,000 have been spent to make this message forceful: to prove that Britain is ready to back up Hong Kong or Australia, and probably—though this is not openly declared—lend a hand to Holland if there is any threat of Japanese occupation of the East Indies."

Peace in Singapore, according to General Dobbie, Commander-in-Chief of the Singapore Defences, "means peace in all Southern Asia—and that includes the thousands of small islands in the eastern Pacific as well. People live in that area who depend upon peace for their livelihood. There are many people in Europe who earn their bread and butter because there is peace out here. . . . Well, we mean to keep that peace. . . . That's what we’ve got the big guns for, and all these planes and troops."

The war in China has caused the Japanese to lose caste in India and in the Straits; sympathy is everywhere felt for the Chinese and as the latter are good propagandists, the sons of Nippon are not likely to be welcomed by the civilian population should their imperialist rulers send them to these areas.

The invasion of Finland by Russia will not be altogether to the advantage of Stalin in the Far East. News travels quickly nowadays, and the agents of pan-Slavism in the Orient are now being viewed with suspicion by many who heretofore have supported them.

Japan, however, is so fixed that she must walk the plank of destiny; capitalism leaves her no choice. The spark that sets off the Eastern conflagration may be the result of friction at Sourabaya.
  “But there is nothing haphazard about the oil tankers that go in and out of Sourabaya’s long harbour, and the other low grey ones which keep up their steady procession in the blue roads beyond the harbour. They are from the wells in Borneo and New Guinea, freighted with a cargo that is vital to Holland’s economic balance. This cargo is also of crucial importance to England and Japan, and may well be the deadly fuse which will set off the firecrackers at Singapore. England doesn’t covet the oil. Trade relations and mutual friendliness with Holland are such that Singapore gets what it wants of this. As additional sources in that area, England has recently opened oil fields in British New Guinea and in Sarawak to draw upon. England’s only worry is whether Dutch possession of its present fields will be threatened, and if it is England will come into the picture with a short explosive sound. Japan’s interest in the fields is regulated by whether or not the United States continues to sell oil to Nippon’s army. If the Neutrality Act, or a modification of it should stop up the pipe-line across the Pacific Japan's most available oil supply will be the East Indies, and it is expected she will send her navy down to get it.”
This is very interesting, but doubly so when taken in conjunction with what appeared in the Victoria Times (British Columbia) of November 17th:—
  Tokio (AP).—Observers expressed belief to-day Japan might use potential friendship with Soviet Russia as a lever for straightening out her problems with Great Britain and the United States.
  This view was offered after a foreign office spokesman had described Japanese-Russian relations as more favourable than ever before for settlement of outstanding questions, such as the issues over Asiatic mainland frontiers and Japanese fishing rights in Soviet waters.
  Another interpretation was that Japan might be seeking assurances of a Russian source for oil and other war materials in the event of an embargo followed the United States' abrogation of her 1911 commerce and amity treaty with Japan.
(The United States announced July 26th the treaty would be terminated six months from that date.)
Ten years ago a Japanese mining company leased several thousand acres of jungle a few miles inland from the Trengganu coast, which it proposed to work as iron ore mines. It has brought good profits. The holdings are centred around deposits which are now estimated to contain 50,000,000 tons of iron ore. This runs 65 per cent. iron and is of excellent quality. It is from this area that Japan imports more than half the iron she uses.

The Japanese also take manganese and tungsten from other nearby holdings in Trengganu.

As a convenience in getting the ore to the coast the Japanese have built a railway twelve miles from the mines down to the nearest harbour of Dungua.

The port of Dungua opens out on the extreme southern stretch of the Gulf of Siam.

Stray bits of evidence build a curious story and seem to turn iron mines into a secret cache for arms and ammunition, which may be intended for some future campaign.

According to English and American men who have been at the mines at one time or another, there are several immense warehouses there piled high with crates and boxes, which are referred to as food supplies. I understand these visitors were a little puzzled trying to account for the kind of food which would be put in the same compact boxes that usually hold a case of ammunition. Nor could they understand the reason tinned salmon should come in the larger and oddly shaped crates which are made to hold 37 mm. guns.

Shipment of food supplies, it seems, have fallen off considerably this last year, and still, somehow, the oddly shaped boxed supplies in the warehouses do not diminish or show any signs of being consumed.

All this tends to show that the great struggle is going to have the Pacific as the major scene of operations. Workers of all colours, red, white, yellow and brown, are about to be intermingled as never before. Let us, amid the spectacular conflict caused by the rivalries and ambitions of the ruling class, not forget our battle-cry, " Workers of all countries, unite."
Charles Lestor

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