Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Downfall of Dictatorship. (1940)

From the April 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

The followers of Moscow are beginning to cut a rather ridiculous figure; doubt has permeated their ranks; they no longer possess the arrogance of old; they are commencing to reap the harvest they have sown; the tactics of opportunism and compromise caused them to march in a circle in unemployed parades, etc., and now they are either forced to abandon their leader or line up in support of the imperial policy of Stalin and Co.

The late Prince Kropotkin stated at the outset of the Russian revolution : “The Bolsheviks are not what the Western workers think they are.” He was correct. The Western workers thought them to be Socialists; they were mistaken.

Socialism is the noblest cause that ever appealed to the world or to man; the Bolsheviks defamed those who would not accept their leadership and have dragged the working-class movement into the sewers of opportunism and corruption; they used their organisation, the Communist Party, as a means of enabling them to influence the Labour movement of the Western world in the interests of Soviet Russia; the Communist Party became the foreign office of the bureaucracy of the Kremlin, and now, under the dictatorship of Czar Stalin, functions as the ruthless tool of imperialism.

The worker who investigates stands aghast when he discovers what lies behind the purges; he is fast arriving at the conclusion that he has been fooled : “those fellows are not to be trusted.”

The Bolsheviks were more influenced by Bakunin than by Marx; they worked on the principle “the end justifies the means” ; they did not aim at freedom. “Freedom,” said Lenin, “is a bourgeois prejudice.”

He also said, “Socialism is Soviet power plus electricity,” and many other things which indicated he used a Socialist vocabulary in an attempt to gain his imperial ends. Sometimes he spoke the truth; it is on record that he stated he was the logical successor of Peter the Great. “Only by a dictatorship can humanity be brought to happiness,” was the idea held by the leaders of the Russian revolution.

Marx said that the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself, but this did not fit in with Bolshevik aspirations; the Bolshevik leaders got themselves free from oppression. Stalin and Co. are now oppressing the proletariat.

Let us look at the foundation of this peculiar mentality. First I will quote E. Preobraschenski, a pupil and follower of Lenin and the founder of Bolshevik ethics: —
“Whereas in a society in which there are no classes, lying is a disadvantage in itself, because it compels the members of the society to use their energy in discovering the truth, the case is quite different in a society based on class. In the struggle of an exploited class against their enemies, lying and deceit are often very important weapons; all the subterranean work of revolutionary organisations actually depends on over-reaching the power of the State. The Workers’ State, surrounded as it is on all sides by hostile capitalist countries, finds lying very necessary and useful in its foreign policy. Therefore the attitude of the working class and the Communist Party of the open recognition of the right to lie is quite different from that of the Western European Socialists, those God-fearing petits bourgeois who are systematically treated as fools by the representatives of capital.”
How a “Socialist” can hope to create a form of society worth living in out of, or by means of, trained liars is a conundrum, but there it is.

Lunacharski, one of the brightest minds the revolution produced, stated, when referring to Fedor Dostoevski, the writer: —
“Russia goes forward on her thorny but glorious way, and behind her stand her great prophets, who bless her on her path. Among them, the most enthralling and splendid of all, rises the figure of Fedor Dostoevski.”
In reading Dostoevski you get the key to the understanding of Bolshevism. Let me quote from one of his novels, “The Possessed” : —
“Since it is absolutely necessary to fix the social order of the future now, at this very moment, since we are at last preparing to act, to avoid future uncertainty, I put forward my own system for a new world order. … I must first point out that my system is not yet completed, not yet entirely worked out. For I have become entangled in my own arguments ; my final conclusion is diametrically opposed to my original idea. Although I started from the notion of unrestricted freedom, I arrived at the end at absolute despotism. I may add, however, that there can be no possible solution but mine. . . .”
The above is a statement by one of the characters, named Shigalev, a member of a secret society. His remarks are commented upon by another member : —
“Mr. Shigalev has devoted himself too conscientiously to his task, and is also much too modest. I know his book. In it he proposes to divide mankind into two unequal parts. Only the smaller part, about a tenth of the whole, will enjoy personal freedom and unrestricted power over the other nine-tenths. These nine-tenths must entirely renounce all personality and become, so to speak, a herd, in order, through absolute obedience, by a series of regenerations, to regain their original innocence, almost like the old Garden of Eden, although, as may be remarked in passing, they will have to work. The measures proposed by the author for depriving nine-tenths of humanity of their personal will and for turning them into a herd by means of a new education during whole generations are uncommonly remarkable and are, in addition, based on the facts of nature and are highly logical. …”
Now we have Peter Verkhovenski speaking to Stavrogiri on Shigalev’s ideas: —
“One thing about his book is good, the idea of espionage. In his idea, every member of the society spies on the others, and is bound to inform against them when necessary. All are slaves and equal in their slavery. . . . First of all, the level of education, science, and innate natural talent, falls. A high intellectual level is possible only to superior talents. Superior talents have always seized power for themselves and led to despotism. Men of talent cannot help becoming despots, they have always done more harm than good; therefore they are driven out or put to death. . . . Slaves must be equal; without despotism there has never yet been freedom or equality; but in the herd all must be equal, that’s Shigalevism. Does that seem extraordinary to you ? I am for Shigalevism. . . . Listen, Stavrogin; to level mountains is a fine idea, not a ridiculous one. Education is not necessary and we have enough science. Even without science we have material enough to last for a thousand years, but first we must enforce obedience. The thirst for education is an aristocratic impulse; with family and love you have the desire for property. We will destroy this desire; we will spread drunkenness, slander, espionage; we’ll spread incredible demoralisation; we’ll murder every genius in infancy. Everything will be reduced to a common denominator, complete equality will be enforced. . . . Only the indispensable is indispensable; henceforth this is to be the motto of the universe. But it needs shocks; we’ll provide for them, we the directors. Slaves must have directors. Complete obedience, complete impersonality; occasionally, however, every thirty years or so, Shigalev will let them have a shock, and then they will begin to suddenly devour each other, of course only up to a certain point, for the sole purpose of preventing boredom. Boredom is an aristocratic feeling; there will be no desires under Shigalevism. Desire and suffering for us, Shigalevism for the slaves.”
The above was written in 1871. The reader will perceive how the ideas of Dostoevski have found expression in Bolshevism; in them you have a forecast of what is developing in the only “Socialist” country in the world.

In 1879 Dostoevski gave us the following, in “The Brothers Karamazov” : —
“Oh, we shall convince them that they cannot be free till they renounce their freedom in our favour and submit to us. … Too well, all too well, will they know the value of submission once and for all! Men will be unhappy till they grasp this. However, the flock will collect again and submit once mere, and then it will be for ever, for ever. We will give them a quiet, modest happiness, the happiness of feeble creatures such as they were created. Oh, we shall convince them at last that they have no right to be proud. . . . Yes, we will force them to work, but in their free time we will make their life like a game, with songs, choruses, and innocent dances. Oh, we will even permit them to sin—for they are weak and feeble—and they will love us like children, because we allow them to sin. We shall permit or forbid them to live with wives or lovers, to have or not to have children—according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient, and they will submit to us gladly and joyfully. . . . And they will all be happy, all the millions, except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For we alone, we who guard the mystery, we alone shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy children and only a hundred thousand martyrs, who have taken on themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Read the Russian writers who influenced the ideas of the revolutionists, study Russian history and you will understand why this Bolshevik religion, for that is what it is, has failed to obtain control of the Western mind; it is alien and foreign and blind to the real aspirations of the modern world.

In order to win freedom we must prove ourselves worthy, we must show that we have developed in the working class the knowledge and the ability to enable society to function on a higher plane. We must appeal to the best that is in the human make-up. Bolshevism appeals to the worst.

The sands of capitalism are running down in the glass : the world may not for long be solidly established upon the economic basis of production for sale.

The common ownership of the means of life and the establishrnent of a system of production for use is the next stage in human development; the war cannot end satisfactorily until the working class carry out their historic mission.

Let them take their stand openly and honourably for Socialism; history is on their side; the emancipation of mankind is involved in the issue.
Charles Lestor

Oil and War. (1940)

From the April 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

Since man found a motive force, other than the energy of his own body, for operating machinery, fuel for power production has had to be an important consideration. With the development of the internal combustion engine and its application to road, sea and air transport, petroleum has assumed a position of outstanding importance among the products of the world.

The machinery and instruments for producing petroleum, like all other means of production in a capitalist world, are privately owned. Likewise, the tankers, pipe lines and other things necessary for the transport and distribution of the oil, together with the laboratories and machinery for its distillation and refinement—all this is privately owned and operated with a view to the production of profit. The profits that have been derived from the exploitation of the oil workers have been, and still are, stupendous.

The various oil companies of the world have struggled desperately with one another for control of the oilfields and for markets for the disposal of their produce. Capitalist governments, recognising the vital necessity of ensuring adequate supplies of oil, especially in war-time, have placed state resources at the disposal of their respective national companies. Governments invariably give official backing to their national companies in their struggles for concession lands and their endeavours to oust rivals and competitors. The strained relations that have existed between different capitalist governments during the last thirty years have frequently been the direct result of the conflict between their respective oil groups. More than once troops have gone into action to settle disputes over oil lands.

There is the possibility that one of the campaigns of the present war will be fought for the control of the world’s most prolific oilfield, the Russian Caucasian field. The British Government is prepared for large-scale military operations in the Near East. Military men and journalists have been emphasising the strategical importance of these Russian Caucasian oilfields for weeks past.

Brigadier-General C. F. Aspinal-Oglander, C.B., C.M.G., in the Evening News, March 5th : —
“In this connection the news of large German troop movements in the direction of the Caucasus assumes considerable significance; and this potential threat may account for the presence of strong allied forces in Syria and Palestine.”
Then “Scrutator” in The Sunday Times, March 10th: —
“The deadliest blow we can deal to Germany is to cut off her supplies of oil for which, if she is to undertake large-scale military operations, she must be dependent on Russia. Nor are the chances of success in such an operation by any means hopeless. Turkey would give us access to the Black Sea from which we might defend the Roumanian wells against German appropriation, or, if the war is extended, attack the Russian wells at the eastern end. Even if there were difficulties about the use of the Black Sea we have a way of access from Syria and Mosul.”
The Evening Standard, on March 15th, reports what are claimed to be plans for “an immediate counter-attack on Russia’s rich Caucasian oilfields” in the event of a Russian attack on Roumania. The report adds : —
“Then General Weygand’s Near-East army, soon expected to be 1,000,000 strong, was expected to attack across the Turkish-Russian frontier with the Turkish army of nearly 2,000,000 men.

Supported by battleships of the tri-Power fleet, one army would move on the port of Batum, only ten miles from the Turkish frontier.

Another starting from Kars, in Turkey, would move on Alexandropol, in the Soviet Republic of Armenia, the observers said. A third would strike across the frontier near the junction of the Turkish-Iranian-Russian frontiers toward the city of Eriwan.

The extreme Eastern army, after capturing Eriwan, would wheel north-east to Baku and the shores of the Caspian Sea.

The western army, after seizing Batum, would advance up the coast, under the protection of battleship guns, to the Caucasus mountains. A further coastal push towards the oilfields of Maikop, in the province of Adyghai, might be ordered.”
So many young workers from Empire countries who are now in the Army may find themselves transported to the East to endure the inconveniences of a military campaign there. If so, they will march and fight in the company of those same Turks who, a few years ago, they were taught to regard as infidels, slaughterers of Armenian Christians, perpetrators of the vilest atrocities.

The British Government’s statement, “We seek no material advantage for ourselves,” will be worth remembering whilst watching the events in this part of the world. The claim that the Caucasian oil wells must be seized for strategical purposes has a vaguely familiar sound. The expedition under Major-General Dunsterville, which occupied Baku during the last war, set out from Persia to prevent a supposed German march on India. When, on the signing of the armistice, and after an intervening German-Turk occupation, the General Thompson expedition entered the district, the British set about making themselves at home. They took over the banks, the post and telegraph offices, and assumed the function of policing the country. Louis Fischer, in his “Oil Imperialism,” quotes an article by Arthur Moore in the London Times of July 10th, 1922, dealing with the reasons for the subsequent withdrawal of British troops from the Caucasus: —
“. . . . we announced we had come to keep the Bolshevists away. But as soon as the Bolshevist menace began to materialise, it was we who faded away. Why, then, did we go there at all ? Islam knows the answer. We went to try to get hold of the Baku oil-fields, but we were not prepared to fight for them.”
When the Russians re-occupied the district in 1920 (the British garrison withdrew from Batum on July 7th, 1920) the Bolshevik Government proceeded to nationalise the oil industry.

The British statesmen at the peace conference in Paris wished to have Batum set up as a free state under the League of Nations, but failed in their effort. Whilst the states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijhan were anti-Bolshevik there was hope for the foreign oil concerns. These states were officially recognised by the British Government and White Russian generals received support to commence operations from Georgia against the Bolshevik Government.

Opposition to the Russian nationalisation of the oil industry was the keynote at the Geneva and Hague conferences. Whilst the statesmen met and wrangled in one part of the towns, the oil magnates met in another part and fought over the Russian oilfields. Davenport and Cooke, in their “The Oil Trusts and Anglo-American Relationships,” suggest that “this was the Hague Conference which really mattered.” The Russian Government would not relinquish its control of its oilfields but it was prepared to grant some generous concessions. The conferences came to a standstill mainly because the different oil companies wanted monopoly concessions and none would give in to the others.

After the conferences a general blockade and boycott of Russian oil was agreed upon. But the rival oil companies were so anxious to get a foothold in the Caucasus that they were soon double-crossing one another and defeating their own boycott efforts. The boycott forced the Russian Government to set up its own distributing agencies and Russian Oil Products (R.O.P.) came into existence. A price war ensued. The Royal Dutch-Shell Group, under Sir Henri Deterding, took up the war in earnest.

After a period of price-cutting both the Russian Government and the Royal Dutch Company were financially embarrassed. The Russians hoped to barter oil-land concessions for recognition by other governments and loans from foreign finance houses. A London bank had arranged a loan for Russia. The day following the bank’s decision the offices of the Anglo-Russian Trading Co. in London were raided by the police on the plea of seeking espionage documents. The raid was wrapped in mystery. The Home Office denied having given instructions, but the British Government found it necessary to break off negotiations with the Russian Government and to forbid the loan.

Of late years the struggle for Russian oil has been carried on mainly between the Royal Dutch-Shell and the American Standard oil companies. Each has bought Russian oil in large quantities, striving for monopolies, and then carried the struggle to India, where they have competed for the market for the disposal of the spoils.

In the preparations for the present war the British Government’s manoeuvres in South-east Europe have been carried on also with an eye to safeguarding its own oil supplies : the recent Anglo-Turkish arrangement is an example. Mr. S. W. Alexander, City Editor of the Daily Express, pointed out in that paper on October 24th, 1939, that—
“Turkey’s decision to come in with Britain and France leaves the sea route open for the transport of oil.”
The recent attempts to placate the Arabs by limiting the purchase of land by Jews indicates an attempt to win them to a support of a British Near-East campaign.

The Allied Powers distributed the Mesopotamian oil lands amongst themselves during the last war and fell to quarrelling about the division after the armistice.

Now oil is once more playing a great part in the rivalries of the Powers. It should serve to remind us that wars are not fought for “moral” reasons but are caused by the conflict of material interests inherent in the capitalist system of society.
W. Waters

Press Cuttings. (1940)

From the April 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

They are all Socialists now—or are they?

“In his last speech Dr. Goebbels said this war was between the ‘German Socialist State and British capitalism.'” — (Manchester Guardian, March 5th, 1940.)

“Britain is being turned into a Socialist State. Not by a revolution and red flags. It’s all done by Tories.”—(Daily Express, February 9th, 1940.)

“The Socialist daring of the Red Army man and the Socialist technique of the great Soviet Union is smashing through fortifications second only to the Maginot and Siegfried lines. Their fight is our fight. The army of liberation is on the march, capitalism shudders under its blows.”—(Daily Worker, February 23rd, 1940.)

* * *

Another Way to Stop War—More Money for the Secret Service.

“An effective Intelligence service can keep a great nation out of war: for without it a government— no matter what party—is bound to make mistakes. If we had spent £1,000,000 a year on such service during the twenty years of armistice, instead of the paltry sums voted for this huge Empire, we should be saving £7,000,000 a day now.”—(From a letter in the Daily Telegraph, February 17th, 1940.)

* * *

Mr. Churchill—the Man the Communists wanted to be a Minister in the Popular Front Government.

“The sea breezes blow. The House of Commons feels the salt.
It is Mr. Churchill speaking. Mr. Churchill reviewing the Fleet.
What does he want ?
“A few men, some ships and a little money.”
What is he given ?
The men, the ships, the money, and the confidence of the nation.
The right man is at the helm.”—(Daily Express, February 28th, 1940.)

“Rome, February 25th.
The Popolo di Roma to-day describes Mr. Winston Churchill as “a survivor of that race which is dying out in Britain—the race of Marlborough and Drake, of those genial and unscrupulous men who in the past made the greatness of the Empire.

“Between an honest civilian like the umbrella-carrying Mr. Chamberlain and the ascetic lost in politics like Lord Halifax,” it adds, “Mr. Churchill stands out like the only man of iron among a dozen men of wood—like a pirate in a circle of honest and spineless gentlemen.”—Press Association War Special. —(Manchester Guardian, February 27th, 1940.)

* * *

Capitalism “having died out” !

“Is my right hon. Friend not aware that, Capitalism having died out, there cannot be any incitement to disaffection in regard to it.”— (Commander Locker-Lampson, in the House of Commons, February 29th 1940.)

* * *

The Russian Government’s interest in Finland.

“The Soviet Government will start a decisive battle to force British economic interests and influences out of Finland and out of the whole Baltic region. Soviet Russia will free Finland from all trade treaties which have been forced upon Finland by foreign imperialists. Until now Finland has been forced to import unnecessary materials from Egypt and Tunis. Now Soviet Russia will be the main source from which Finland will buy her raw materials.”—(Isvestia, March 25th, 1940. Reproduced in News-Chronicle, March 26th, from Moscow radio broadcast.)

* * *

Mr. Herbert Morrison in 1926.

In 1926 Mr. Herbert Morrison was one of those who signed the following pledge: —
“We, the undersigned, convinced that all disputes between nations are capable of settlement either by diplomatic negotiation or by some form of International Arbitration, hereby solemnly declare that we refuse to support or render war service to any government which resorts to arms.”
At the Albert Hall “Peace Letter Campaign Meeting,” on December 5th, 1926, he said: —
“We know from past and all too real experience how the declarations of parties and individuals towards wars are likely to fail when the testing time comes, and it may be that even many of those who have signed this declaration will fail, for wars have a terrible effect upon the public mind and upon the public psychology.”
(“Why We Will Not Fight,” published by the Peace Letter Campaign, 1926.)

* * *

What Dictators cannot do.

“A nation of peasants does not pass in one generation from medievalism to the machine age simply because a dictator has decreed it.” — (Daily Telegraph, January 3rd, 1940.)

* * *

Industrial Service for French Women.

“Within two months a register of women volunteer workers is to be prepared.

These women will then be drafted to various industries in which employers have asked for them. All will have to pass a medical examination before being accepted.

If the voluntary system does not yield enough female labour the Minister of Labour can order the compulsory registration of women fit for industrial work. Women will then be called up individually as they are required.” — (News-Chronicle, March 2nd, 1940.)