Monday, July 12, 2021

Our Sixpenny Stunt (1939)

Party News from the November 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

Our “sixpenny stunt” is still in operation. All you have to do is to send a sixpenny postal order to the Literature Secretary, 42, Great Dover Street, together with the address of an interested sympathiser, and we will send him or her the Socialist Standard for three consecutive months. A brief note will accompany the first month’s copy. At the expiration of the three months we shall write again, inviting the new reader to become a subscriber and to read our other published literature.

Some readers have gained the impression that the “sixpenny stunt” had been dropped owing to the fact that it is not announced in every issue of the Socialist Standard. For reasons of space, however, it is not possible to reproduce the same notice every month. Readers will understand, however, that this method of arousing interest in new circles is still in force, and will continue to be carried out until further notice.

Germany, the Danube and Rumania (1939)

From the October 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard 

Rumania is in the picture just now and we have been informed that she would like to be our ally, in spite of the pressure Germany is exerting to induce King Carol to link up with the Axis

On January 16th last, according to the Economist (April 29th), M. Gafencu, Rumanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, was present at a meeting held in Galatz by the National Re-generation Society. In his speech he referred to Rumania’s interest in the Danube, for recently this time-honoured river and artery of Europe had attracted the attention of politicians and economists in all the countries through which it flows, and not least Rumania. M. Gafencu said that the Rumanian Danube must serve as a show-window turned towards the East and the Black Sea, and that this fact placed certain duties upon the shoulders of Rumania.

The importance of the Danube has been increased lately by various plans for canals connected with its upper and lower reaches. On May 11th, 1931, the German Government promulgated a law for the construction of the Rhine-Main-Kelheim (Danube) canal. This canal, which is to be finished in 1945, forms a part of the German economic campaign, and the Rumanian Press talks of Baghdad as the goal towards which it is aimed. It will carry vessels up to 1,200 tons.

On November 19th, 1938, a Convention was signed between Germany and Czecho-Slovakia for the construction of another canal from Kosel, on the Oder, through Moravska Ostrana to the Danube above Bratislava. For several years the Rumanian Government has had in its archives plans for the construction of a canal to unite, by a straight line, the Danubian port of Cernavoda with Constantza.

The voyage of cargo steamers would be reduced by nearly 200 miles by loading at Constanza instead of at Braila or Galatz. Below Braila the average depth of the river is about 24 feet, so that it is navigable for sea-going vessels. Higher up the depth decreases.

The Government is at present studying this proposal.

The most far-reaching proposal which, if it were ever carried out, would radically affect the Balkan countries, is for a waterway running from the Timok river, a Danubian tributary below Belgrade, and by the Nishava to Nish, thence down the River Morava to the River Vardar and finally to the Mediterranean at Salonika. This canal would shorten the goods route from Central Europe to Salonika by 900 miles. It would, of course, kill the lower Danube ports of Braila, Galatz and Sulind. It is interesting to recall that when the Czecho-Slovakian business was agitating the public mind, Mr. Walter Runciman was sent by the Government to make certain representations—he is in the shipping business.

Germany is aiming at connecting the Rhine and the Danube by means of a large waterway; this, she calculates, would enable her to tap all the resources of Central Europe, and if she could also succeed in getting control of the proposed canal to Salonika she would, in addition, be in a position to play a strong hand politically in the Mediterranean.

Dr. Schacht, the German Finance Minister, advocated intensive industrialisation as the best means of solving Germany’s post-war economic problems, and this immediately brought him up against Germany’s shortage of raw materials and the question of currency.

A nation faces a difficulty if it launches into intensive industrialisation without sufficient raw materials in its own territory and without adequate reserves of capital. Raw materials must be imported and paid for—in foreign currency. Barbara Ward, in “The International Share-out,” states in this connection, “This is not a difficult transaction if the industrialised country is able to sell goods abroad in large enough quantities to create a favourable balance of trade, or if it has enough capital to invest overseas and receive interest in the shape of raw materials or currency.” The situation for the German capitalists was doubly difficult. The post-war years were years of growing economic nationalism, when every nation was engaged in a bitter struggle to produce and sell goods rather than to buy them, and Germany found it more and more difficult to place her manufactures. And the war of 1914-1918 and the inflation had wiped out Germany’s capital reserves. She was herself a debtor country in a world which refused to take her goods as service on her debt, and demanded that the transaction be carried out in gold. Behind the high tariff barriers of America and France the gold silted up, and Dr. Schacht felt that Germany’s position was extremely precarious. Therefore, in 1926, he began to advocate a colonial policy, not because he believed colonial raw materials to be a solution of Germany’s industrial problems, but because he argued that the return of the Colonies might ease the strain on Germany’s currency. Germany’s difficulty, so his argument might have run, is to find enough foreign currency to buy the essentials, such as iron and tin and zinc, or any other important metal which at present was being bought from foreign countries with foreign currency. If Colonies were returned to us we could buy these primary products with our own money and set free a corresponding amount of our scanty supplies of foreign currency to buy more of the essential raw materials, which are only to be found in the territories of foreign sovereign States.

Germany’s revival of the Colonial question was not due to the traditional policy of supplies and markets, but to Dr. Schacht’s thesis of underpinning the German mark. Germany’s exchange position was rendered much worse by the international slump. 1929 brought an end to American lending and the retreat of panic-stricken nations behind tariff walls. Germany’s export trade was damaged catastrophically. When Hitler came to power in 1933 he was faced with the problem of some eight million unemployed. He sought a way out in a policy of controlled inflation and internal recovery. The men were brought back to work, but the position in regard to foreign currency grew worse. Germany’s internal boom, coming at a time when the rest of the world was still wallowing in the trough of economic depression, cut German industry off still further from the general flow of world trade. Her export trade, nevertheless, was a vital necessity, for without it she could not secure foreign currency, and without foreign currency she could not purchase essential materials.

During the first two years the problem was simplified by conditions in the world market of primary products. There had been a general fall in prices, and for a considerable period the prices of most raw materials were ludicrously low. Germany could obtain supplies at this low rate, and she did not feel the pinch of her currency shortage too severely. In 1935 the position changed. Slowly the markets of the world recovered. Great Britain, France, and the United States had all embarked on vast armament programmes. Their needs came into direct collision with Germany’s, and as the prices of the primary products rose and the scramble for them increased, Germany’s position grew more and more unfavourable. She found it difficult to compete in the open market, and other Powers were not so ready to conclude “clearing” agreements with her. They preferred free multilateral trade.

Germany might at this juncture have inflated her currency. Such a step would have lowered costs and helped the export trade to compete in foreign markets. Or she might have made a determined effort to secure a foreign loan. She did neither. Memories of the 1923 inflation were too vivid for the first step. As for the second, the Nazis claimed to have come to power in order to redeem Germany from “the slavery of foreign Jewish finance capital.”

Their solution of the problem was the “Four Years’ Plan” and the drive for self-sufficiency. The aim of this total mobilization of the country’s resources was said to be to reduce its dependence upon foreign supplies, and it is significant that the Colonial question became a recurrent refrain in German propaganda about the same time as the Four Year Plan was launched.

“If critics protest,” says Miss Ward, “that the game is not worth the candle, because the Colonies do not produce Germany’s basic needs, the Germans reply that, although the Colonies do not produce iron or copper bauxite, or cotton or wool, they do produce, and could be made to produce, more of certain other materials, which Germany must at present buy with foreign exchange. The recovery of the Colonies would thus set free a certain amount of foreign currency, which could be used to buy the really essential metals elsewhere. If after this critics still protest that the sum saved is too small to be weighed against the risks of the transaction, the Germans can reply that if they find it worth while to legislate about waste tooth-paste containers, colonies are not too insignificant to be of interest to them.”

Germany’s moves in Spain can be understood if we take the above into consideration. She was searching for raw materials she could not afford to buy. Every time a crisis has developed she has taken advantage of the stagnation in trade that resulted to bring off a barter agreement. When the Germans were marching into Czecho-Slovakia, Hitler was making a deal with the Argentine, bartering railway material for wheat. Airplanes obtained as a result of the seizure of Czechoslovakia were offered to France in exchange for badly-needed foreign currency.

Enough has been said to show something of what is involved in the struggle.
Charles Lestor

Announcement from the Central Organiser (1939)

Party News from the October 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

During the war it is necessary for all Party members to maintain the closest personal contact with their Branches. You can do this by attending Branch meetings or by keeping in contact with your Branch Secretary. Do this and you will help the Party through these trying times. Be liberal with your payments to Party funds. Don’t forget that your dues and any other calls that may be made on you.
Central Organiser 

The Trick (1939)

From the October 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

The past six years have been a period of harvesting for Russia and their little Sir Echoes, the Communist Parties. Based upon “immediate needs,” the Communist Party has propounded doctrines which have done nothing but obscure the fundamental issues of Socialism versus Capitalism. How was this made possible? Cunningly and with wilful lying, they have built up a legend—Socialist Russia! Distorting the teachings of Marx, through the pages of their journals they have made it appear to the innocent workers that Russia was another name for Socialism, for peace, for democracy. For six years they have exploited the hatred of Hitlerism and all it stood for. Dropping their “alleged” working-class basis, they have pandered to rich Jews, rich Liberals, Deans and Duchesses in order to create the impression that they stood as the pivot of anti-Nazism, around which all “democrats” should assemble. Each time their slogan has been—look at Russia ! Seeking to boom their lying party they initiated, fostered and conducted campaigns through the medium of “Left Book Clubs” and kindred groups for a “peace” front of the “democratic” nations. When naming these nations they have always included Russia. The avowed aim of this proposed “peace” front has been to prevent further aggression by Nazi Germany. With monotonous regularity they shrieked “Chamberlain must go.” They supplemented this by demanding the inclusion in the Cabinet of Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden, this being a sure guarantee of peace or at least victory in war. They urged the necessity of a boycott of German goods and the sabotaging of any British-German trade agreements, on the shallow plea that such trade would only strengthen the Nazi powers of aggression. This was amply shown in an article in the Labour Monthly for August of this year, written by John Austen. In a new book published last month, under the title, “Russia—Foe or Friend?” by Pat Sloan (Communist Party’s authority on Soviet Russia’s internal and external policy) we are informed that “never would Russia make any agreement with Nazi Germany.” A few days after publication Russia did make a pact with Nazi Germany. It looks very much like a bit of sharp practice, creating an antagonistic atmosphere against British trade with Germany, and under cover of this, slip in and collar the same trade.

The events in Spain, in Austria and in Czechoslovakia were used by Russia and the Communist Party for all they were worth as a veritable Godsend to a Party devoid of any sound working class teaching. Thousands of pounds were collected, millions of leaflets distributed, all with the object of steering into the Russophile Communist Party the growing sentiment against Hitlerism, the last of these campaigns being the propaganda for an Anglo-Soviet pact. When asked about the utility of such a pact we were informed that the “immediate” need was to unite all "democratic” Powers against, not world capitalism, but Nazi Germany. Having worked up large masses by every form of demagogy to a pitch of anti-Nazi frenzy, hey presto ! our swan is a duck, and Russia embraces, by agreement—Naziland. Gone is the “immediate” need of a German boycott and all the other slogans which served to blind the workers. The Soviet gangsters now shake hands with their Nazi friends, whilst the Chamberlain Government (charged with aiding Hitler) incorporate Churchill and Eden in a War Government, and declare war on the Nazis. Ladies and gentlemen ! This trick.

What the Parties Say about the War (1939)

From the October 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

Below are extracts from the official statements on the war made by various Parties.

The Labour Party.

(Extract from the Manifesto issued by the National Executive of the Labour Party, published in the Daily Herald, September 2nd, 1939.)
“It will, now that the die is cast, use all its influence and authority to secure a Peace, the basis of which is in accord with the faith it holds.

It will resist any attempt to use the present conflict for ends that sow the seeds of further war. So long as its principles animate those whom Herr Hitler has driven to resistance against his aggression, so long they can count on the support of British Labour. None know better than the Labour Movement the tragic folly of war; but a stage has been reached in the development of Europe where War has been chosen by Herr Hitler as a deliberate instrument of national policy.

It is impossible for Labour to acquiesce in claims supported, or conquests achieved, by this method. To do so would be an indefensible betrayal of its own vital faith.

The British Labour Movement, therefore, call upon all its members to stand solidly behind it in resistance to aggression.

Until those who have been willing to resort to its use have been overthrown it sees no prospect of an enduring Peace. The Movement must summon all its energy and devotion to the task of defeating the aggressor.

British Labour has taken this stand with calmness and without passion.

It will hold itself free to define in its own way the conditions of a just settlement at a later stage.

It will use all its authority to build a Peace of justice which removes the cause out of which War comes. With the defeat of the aggressors, there emerges the prospect of building a better world from which the roots of economic and political grievance have been removed.

The British Labour Movement will give all its strength to making the foundations of that world a secure defence of Peace and Justice.”

* * *

The Communist Party of Great Britain.

(Extract from Manifesto issued by Central Committee, September 2nd, 1939.)
“You are now being called upon to take part in the most cruel war in the history of the world.

One that need never have taken, place. One that could have been avoided even in the very last days of the crisis, had we had a People’s Government in Britain.

Now that the war has come, we have no hesitation in stating the policy of the Communist Party.

We are in support of all necessary measures to secure the victory of democracy over Fascism.

But Fascism will not be defeated by the Chamberlain Government.

The first and most vital step to victory is a new Government in which the key positions are in the hands of a trusted representatives of the people who have neither imperialist aims, nor latent sympathies with Fascism.

This is absolutely vital for any success in a war against Fascism abroad and the friends of Fascism in Britain.”
Then, one month later, the Communist Party thought it had supported the war long enough and announced :—
“We are against the continuance of the war. We demand that negotiations be immediately opened for the establishment of peace in Europe.”— (Daily Worker, 4th October).

* * *

The Social Democratic Party of Germany.

(Extract from Manifesto issued by the exiled Executive of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.)
“To the German people,

With Hitler’s criminal attack war has begun. In this historic moment the executive of the German Social Democratic party appeals to the German people and to the whole world. It is the last body which was elected by the Social Democratic mass organisations in Germany itself. It speaks for the party, and beyond the party, for that section of the German people which hates war and dictatorship and whose aim is to live in peace and freedom.

The whole weight of guilt for this monstrous crime against peace and humanity rests on Hitler and his system. The destruction of freedom and the disturbance of world peace was from the outset the sum and substance of National Socialist policy. The fall of Hitler is therefore the aim for which we shall fight, together with all the democratic forces in Europe.

Hitler and the new German militarism are one. The defeat and final overthrow of this militarism are the prerequisites for the peace and reorganisation of Europe. As a force allied with all the opponents of Hitler who are fighting for freedom and civilisation in Europe, our efforts in the war will be directed to this end. We are waging this war for the German people’ and for the great goal of safeguarding liberty, peace, and democracy in Europe.

We appeal to the German people. Fight for your freedom. Get rid of Hitler. The overthrow of the system will shorten the war, preserve millions of lives, and save the nation. Hitler’s policy is not the fulfilment of national needs. It is a relapse into the superstition that the future and well-being of people depend on the conquest of territory.”—(Published in Manchester Guardian, September 5th, 1939.)

* * *

The I.L.P.

In the introduction to a ”Socialist Programme During the War,” the I.L.P. made the following declaration (New Leader, September 8th.)
“The I.L.P. will remain true to the principles of International Socialism in this war as it did in the war of 1914-18.

At this dark moment it holds out hands of solidarity across the frontiers to the workers of other countries, and over the roar of guns, greets those heroic Socialists who in German territory maintain their opposition to the Fascist regime and to war.

During the war the I.L.P. will do all that it can to retain the spirit, organisation and action of International Socialism. …”
(The programme itself consists of such demands as recruitment of Trade-Unionists, the maintenance of contact with working-class organisations abroad, increased old age pensions, a national living wage with family allowances, etc., etc.)

* * *

The British Union (Mosley-Fascists).

(Extract from a statement published in Action, September 16th, 1939.)
“The policy of British Union was, is, and will be, Britain first.

We mean by Britain first: (1) If any nation attacks, or threatens, the life of Britain or her Empire, we fight for Britain; (2) with us the life and interest of the British people come first, and, therefore, the lives of British people are more important than any foreign quarrel. That is why we have said, and now say, “Mind Britain’s Business.”

Our Peace policy is the same as ever, and by this policy Peace can still be won.

(1) We have no interest in the East of Europe, which is no concern of British Empire ; therefore, we should cease to intervene in any Eastern European quarrel.

(2) We are determined at all times to defend and to maintain British Empire, but we have no interest in “Mandated Territories,” which do not belong to British Empire.

(3) Britain can and must be strong enough to defend herself from any attack by any nation in the world, but should never intervene in foreign quarrels which do not concern Britain or the Empire.

(4) We desire a permanent peace and understanding among the great nations of the West of Europe.

The practical test of our Peace Policy is this: Can the British people make a peace that secures the integrity .of British Empire and the peace of Western Europe? Which of our opponents can deny that this can be done?

Their only argument is that they do not trust the word of a Foreign Government. Then why not trust the strong arm of Britain instead? In the strength of British Union we should have nothing to fear from any attack even if we stood alone. So we should have no need to wage war in case we were attacked at some future date.

Therefore before, and after, the outbreak of war the Peace Policy of British Union remains exactly the same.

* * *

The German Communists

According to the Daily Worker (September 8th, 1939) the German Communist Party have issued a call to the German people to overthrow the Hitler regime. The Worker says : “It supports the Soviet Union arid the peace policy of Stalin, which resulted in a split of the Powers supporting aggression.”

Among the points in the declaration are the following: —
“In this hour, when Hitler attacks the Polish people, we call all German workers, and the whole German people, to fight for the saving of the peace of the world in this last hour . . .

“In case of war we must fight the Nazi regime and for the downfall of Hitler.”

* * *

Manifesto of a group of Labour M.P.s, Candidates and others.


Twenty years after the “war to end war,” Capitalism has again plunged the peoples of the world into mutual slaughter.

Once again the ideals of liberty and democracy are invoked by Governments which deny liberty in their own colonies and social justice at home.

We share with countless working men and women in Germany the desire to end the barbarities of Nazism and the Hitler Government.

But it is tragic that the Labour Movement of Britain has forgotten all it owes to the teachings of Keir Hardie and the other pioneers, and repeats its blunder of 1914, lining up with Capitalism in the waging of a war to defend Imperial interests.

Large numbers of Labour Party, Trade Union and Co-operative members are deeply distressed by a war which will inflict endless suffering on the peoples whilst making enormous fortunes for profiteers.

The workers must preserve and strengthen their organisations on an independent basis. Let them hold fast to their right to organise, to meet together, to speak freely, so that they may keep their power to influence events and to work for Socialism and Peace.
Alfred Salter (Labour M.P. for West Bermondsey). Cecil H. Wilson (Labour M.P. for Attercliffe). Fred Longden (Labour Candidate for Deritend). Jack Gibson (Labour Candidate for Lanark). Gordon Stott (Labour Candidate for W. Edinburgh). Reg. Groves (Labour Candidate for Aylesbury). W. T. Colyer (Labour Candidate for Chislehurst). Donald Fraser (Labour Candidate for North Norfolk). W. H. Morris (Labour Candidate for Hampstead). Wilfred Wellock (Labour Candidate for Stourbridge). David Freeman (Labour Candidate for N.W. Hull). Jim Simmons (Labour Candidate for W. Wolvehampton). Rose Simpson (General Secretary, Women’s Co-operative Guild). Mrs. M. Pavitt (Treasurer of the Women’s Co-operative Guild). M. G. Grindley (Women’s Co-operative Guild). Charles A. Smith (Chairman of the I.L.P.). Fenner Brockway (Political Secretary of the I.L.P.). John McNair (General Secretary of the I.L.P.). John Aplin (Chairman of London I.L.P.). Will Ballantine (Member of N.U.R. Executive). Alexander Kelley (General Secretary of the Scottish Bankers’ Association). John Goldie (Scottish Bankers’ Association). P. Cowan (Scottish Bankers’ Association). Stewart Purkis (Ex-Member R.C.A. Executive). B. Porter (Baillie, Glasgow Corporation). J. A. W. Douglas (Labour Councillor, Bermondsey). James Ross (Chairman, W. Edinburgh Labour Party). James H. Hudson (Ex-Labour M.P., Huddersfield). G. F. Dutch (Vice-President, London Co-operative Society). J. Allen Skinner (Chairman, Pacifist Research Bureau).
Thomas Burns.
Norrie Fraser.
Farringdon (Lord).
Huntingdon (Lord).