Sunday, July 11, 2021

Notes by the Way: Bad News in New York—Afraid That Peace Might Break Out (1939)

The Notes by the Way Column from the October 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard 

Bad News in New York—Afraid That Peace Might Break Out

The City page of the News Chronicle (September 19th, 1939) published a report from New York telling how shares slumped when it was feared that the war (and the war boom) might cease : —
WALL STREET’S WORST BREAK. 
  The worst setback since the “war boom” started was experienced by Wall Street to-day. Part of the profit-taking sales was attributed to the belief that peace proposals would be made by Germany.
   There was some recovery at the close, but the tone was weak and losses extended to 7 dollars in U.S. Steel, Bethlehem Steel, Douglas Aircraft and other “war babies.”

* * *

The Communist Party Explains It All Away

Though obviously embarrassed by the recent actions of the Russian Government, the British Communist Party continues to try to explain it all away. The general attitude adopted by that Party and by the Daily Worker is that the Russian Government will, in the long run, prove to have justified itself. In a letter to The Times, on September 12th, the Secretary of the “Russia To-day Society” argues that Russia has destroyed the Berlin—Tokyo—Rome Axis. He then adds:—
“It is not improbable that the British people will have much more for which to thank the Soviet Union before the present conflict is brought to a victorious conclusion.”
When the Russians invaded Poland the Daily Worker was in the unlucky position of having just published an assurance that it would not happen. The invasion began on Sunday, September 17th. The Daily Worker on the previous day had ridiculed the suspicious people who had forecast this. Mr. Walter Holmes, a regular contributor to the Daily Worker, had the following: —
“But, it seems, they learn nothing. Now, again, they are rushing forward with “explanations” of how Russia is going to share with Germany in a carve-up of Poland. I am content to leave the answer to the only people who can give it, viz., the Soviets, but I have no doubt about who is going to have the last laugh.”
Two days later the Daily Worker was explaining why the Russian carve-up of Poland was justified, as a “counter-blow against Nazis.”

On the earlier mystery about Russia’s simultaneous negotiations with England and France on the one hand and Germany on the other, the Manchester Guardian (August 29th) put a pertinent question, which the Communists will have difficult in answering: 
“If Russia did sign the German pact because she was dissatisfied with the progress of negotiations with Britain and France, it is curious that she never informed the military missions of this, but encouraged them to think that their efforts would shortly be crowned with success.”
All the same, it seems certain that now Germany and Russia are neighbours, both intent on dominating Eastern Europe and the Balkans, they will find each other very dangerous friends, liable to turn into enemies at any moment.

* * *

The Bishops War by War

The Bishop of London, 1915 : “We are in the midst of the greatest fight ever made in this world for honour and freedom, and—I will go further, and say—for the vital principles of the Christian religion.”—(Times Recruiting Supplement, November 3rd, 1915.)

The Bishop of Durham, 1939: “It is a crusade for the rescue of the ultimate factors of Christian civilisation, and we need the faith and fervour of Crusaders if we are to achieve victory.” —(Times, September 15th, 1939.)


* * *

The Revised View of Russia

As soon as the possibility of an Anglo-Russian pact disappeared the Press suddenly rediscovered that Russia is a dictatorship, and that Bolshevism is very like Nazism. The Times (August 31st) gave prominence to a long letter showing point by point the similarity between the two ideologies. The Daily Express (August 26th) found that Russia’s retirement had its advantage: “If war comes the issue will be clearer. The democracies will be ranged against totalitarian States. . . .”

The Manchester Guardian (August 25th) found, likewise, that “the true division was never between Fascism and Communism, but between freedom and tyranny.”
Edgar Hardcastle

What They Said and Say (1939)

From the October 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

When It Will End—A Prophecy

Every week during the war we intend giving a leather medal for the greatest thoughts expressed in war-time.

This week it is awarded to Dr. Hugh Dalton, M.P., for the following: —
” ‘The war would end when, above the war zones of Europe, with her Allies, Britannia ruled the clouds.’
“Speech at Bishop Auckland last Saturday.”
From Forward, September 16th, 1939.

* * *

What “We Are Fighting For—Herbert Morrison
“Herr Hitler left us and France no choice. The precious freedom we British have—incomplete though it is—is a freedom of high value. We must not lose it 
“All of us must help our country. But we must also think of humanity. When war is over our great task must be the building of a peaceful world based on human brotherhood.”
(Forward, September 16th, 1939.)

* * *

Another “War to End War”
“What made a blasphemy of the sacrifices of 1914-1918 was the betrayal of the principles of justice and freedom by those who inherited the world which the dead in those years had won for the living. To-day we must swear that never shall we make that betrayal again.

“If the war is to be won, in the sense that when it is over the fear of future wars will have been banished and a sane world order established, then from the first, and onwards to the bitter end, this nation must keep unswervingly before it the goal of a just and honest peace, founded on freedom and fair dealing for all peoples.”
(News Chronicle, September 3rd, 1939.)

* * *

Mr. Pat Sloan on the Impossibility of a German-Russian Pact
“We are assured that a rapprochement between the Soviet system and Fascism is an impossibility, a ‘mirage’.”
From a review of Pat Sloan’s book, “Russia— Friend or Foe?” which appeared in the Manchester Guardian the day the Russian-German Pact was announced.”—(Forward, September 9th, 1939.)


* * *

The Real Victors—By Daladier
“If French and German blood shall flow again as it did 25 years ago, in a war still longer and more murderous, then both nations would fight confident of victory. The real victor, however, would only be destruction and barbarity.”—M. Daladier, reported in the Daily Telegraph, August 29th, 1939.

* * *

Who Walks Into Whose Trap ?
“If we went in without the help of Russia we would be walking into a trap. It was the only country whose armies could get there and that had an air fleet to match the Germans.”—Mr. Lloyd George, in the House of Commons on April 3rd, 1939.

* * *

The “Daily Worker” Re-Discovers Polish Fascism
“The British people are … for an independent and democratic Poland, freed from all varieties of German and Polish Fascism, but they will not risk their lives to restore Poland’s right to rule over non-Polish minorities.”
The re-discovery was made after the Russian army entered Poland.
Harry Waite

The Socialist Party of Great Britain and the War (1939)

Editorial the October 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

In this, our first issue of the Socialist Standard since the declaration of war, we have the opportunity of reaffirming the socialist attitude that we have consistently maintained since the formation of the party, including the war of 1914-18. With the increasing international tension of recent years we have again and again pressed home the undeniable truth that as long as the world is organized on a capitalist economic basis the never-ceasing rivalries will continue to produce conflicts ranging from mere diplomatic crises to gigantic armed struggles spreading over the oceans and continents of the world. The Socialist Party of Great Britain re-affirms that the interest of the world working class – on whom the untold misery and suffering of war inevitably falls – lies in abolishing the capitalist economic system.

The present conflict is represented in certain quarters as one between ‘freedom’ and ‘tyranny’ and for the rights of small nations.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is fully aware of the sufferings of German workers under Nazi rule, and wholeheartedly supports the efforts of workers everywhere to secure democratic rights against the powers of suppression, but the history of the past decades shows the futility of war as a means of safeguarding democracy. After the last Great War – described as the war to end war, and as a war to make the world safe for democracy – the retention of capitalism resulted in the building up of new tyrannies and terrorisms through the inability of the capitalist states to solve the problems created by the system of private ownership of the means of production and distribution and the competitive scramble for raw materials, markets and control of trade routes. So little did the last war achieve its alleged purpose that the man who was prominently associated with the Allied victory and the claim that that war would be the last – Mr. Lloyd George – now has to confess that even this war may not be the last war. Writing in the Sunday Express, (September 10th), Mr. Lloyd George says:
“It is only just over 20 years ago that France and Britain signed the armistice with Germany which brought to an end the bloodiest war in history. They are now fighting essentially the same struggle again. Germany is again the aggressor. Once more it is a fight for international right – the recognition of the equal right of nations, weak as well as strong, to lead their own independent lives so long as they do not interfere with the rights of their neighbours. This conflict has gone on periodically since the dawn of history. It will go on for many centuries to come unless and until mankind accepts that principle as one of the irrefragable commandments of humanity.”
The Socialist Party of Great Britain calls on the workers of the world to refuse to accept this prospect, and calls upon them to recognise that only Socialism will end war.

Among those who support the present war is the British Labour party, who long ago declared that the peace treaties of the last war contained the germs of a future war. At one time the Labour party, in its ‘Labour Speakers’ Handbook’ 1922, declared that the “unjust territorial arrangements” of the Peace Treaties must be rectified, including the return of Danzig and other Polish territory to Germany and the return of other Polish territory to Russia in accordance with the principle of “self-determination”.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds that neither the doctrine of “self-determination”, which the Labour party then claimed had been violated by the Peace Treaties, nor the German claim for a new carving-up of Europe, nor any other policy for settling minority problems and international rivalries within the framework of capitalism, is capable of bringing peace and democracy to the peoples of the world. Another war would be followed by new treaties forced on the vanquished by the victors, and by preparations for further wars, new dictatorships and terrorism.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain therefore pledges itself to continue its work for Socialism, and reiterates the call it issued on the outbreak of war in 1914:
“Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of Socialism.”
The Executive Committee, S.P.G.B.