Sunday, December 05, 2010

From The Spartacist League (U.S) Archives-Trotskyist Policies on the Second Imperialist War—Then and in Hindsight

Markin comment:

In October 2010 I started what I anticipate will be an on-going series, From The Archives Of The Socialist Workers Party (America), starting date October 2, 2010, where I will place documents from, and make comments on, various aspects of the early days of the James P. Cannon-led Socialist Worker Party in America. As I noted in the introduction to that series Marxism, no less than other political traditions, and perhaps more than most, places great emphasis on roots, the building blocks of current society and its political organizations. Nowhere is the notion of roots more prevalent in the Marxist movement that in the tracing of organizational and political links back to the founders, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the Communist Manifesto, and the Communist League.

After mentioning the thread of international linkage through various organizations from the First to the Fourth International I also noted that on the national terrain in the Trotskyist movement, and here I was speaking of America where the Marxist roots are much more attenuated than elsewhere, we look to Daniel DeLeon’s Socialist Labor League, Eugene V. Deb’s Socialist Party( mainly its left-wing, not its socialism for dentists wing), the Wobblies (IWW, Industrial Workers Of The World), the early Bolshevik-influenced Communist Party and the various formations that led up to the Socialist Workers Party, the section that Leon Trotsky’s relied on most while he was alive. Further, I noted that beyond the SWP that there were several directions to go in but that those earlier lines were the bedrock of revolutionary Marxist continuity, at least through the 1960s.

I am continuing today what I also anticipate will be an on-going series about one of those strands past the 1960s when the SWP lost it revolutionary appetite, what was then the Revolutionary Tendency (RT) and what is now the Spartacist League (SL/U.S.), the U.S. section of the International Communist League (ICL). I intend to post materials from other strands but there are several reasons for starting with the SL/U.S. A main one, as the document below will make clear, is that the origin core of that organization fought, unsuccessfully in the end, to struggle from the inside (an important point) to turn the SWP back on a revolutionary course, as they saw it. Moreover, a number of the other organizations that I will cover later trace their origins to the SL, including the very helpful source for posting this material, the International Bolshevik Tendency.

However as I noted in posting a document from Spartacist, the theoretical journal of ICL posted via the International Bolshevik Tendency website that is not the main reason I am starting with the SL/U.S. Although I am not a political supporter of either organization in the accepted Leninist sense of that term, more often than not, and at times and on certain questions very much more often than not, my own political views and those of the International Communist League coincide. I am also, and I make no bones about it, a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, a social and legal defense organization linked to the ICL and committed, in the traditions of the IWW, the early International Labor Defense-legal defense arm of the Communist International, and the early defense work of the American Socialist Workers Party, to the struggles for freedom of all class-war prisoners and defense of other related social struggles.

Markin comment on this series of Proletarian Military Policy (PMP) articles:
Coming out of the radical wing of the Vietnam War anti-war movement in the early 1970s, and having done military service as well, I was intrigued when I first read about the Socialist Workers Party’s (SWP-U.S.) Proletarian Military Policy (PMP) as propounded by that party just before and during World War II. The intriguing part, initially at least, was the notion that radicals could have a democratic propaganda platform to work off of in bringing their fellow soldiers around to an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist by proposing to control the then much less powerful American military through democratic methods like election of officers, etc..

And then life intruded. Or rather I reflected on my own somewhat eclectic anti-war military work and, as well, of various schemes by reformists to “control” various aspects of bourgeois society without having to take power and replace those institutions. In short, take political responsibility for the current regime. In the year 2010 we, after years of defeat and decline, are quite used to reformists and others putting forth all kinds of nice schemes for turning swords into plowshares by asking the bourgeois state to take the war budget and create jobs, better educational opportunities, provide better health care, you name it all without, seemingly, positing the need to change the state.

A classic and fairly recent example of that, in the aftermath of the Professor Henry Louis Gates arrest in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was the renewed call for “community control of the police.” And of course, come election time, the willingness, sometimes without even the caveat of refusal to take office if elected, of all and sundry leftists to run from the executive offices of the bourgeois state. Thus, by standing for those offices, exhibiting a touching “innocence” on the question of responsibility for the administration of the capitalist state. To my mind, the PMP is on that order. The idea, the utopian idea, when you talk about the central organs of bourgeois state power, the armed forces, the police, the courts and the prisons that something short of the struggle for power will do the trick. The hard, hard reality is otherwise, as we are also too well aware of every time we get a little uppity.

Reflecting on my own military experience about what can and cannot be done in order to influence soldiers and sailors and fight for an anti-war perspective military does not mean that nothing can be done short of taking take power to do so. The real problem with the PMP, and it may have reflected a lack of knowledge of wartime military possibilities, cadre familiar with the then peacetime volunteer military, and the “weak” military presence in pre-World War II America was that it was trying to project a positive program where what was called for, and is usually called for in war time conditions, were defensive measures such as creation of rank and file servicemen’s unions that fight for democratic right for soldiers, essentially the right to organize, and against victimizations of both radicals and others that get into the military’s cross hairs. The other key policy was to link up the civilian political anti-war opposition with the soldiers through the vehicle of coffeehouses or other off base places and soldiers and sailors solidarity committees. Late in the Vietnam War period those effects were beginning to have effect as rank and file disaffection with that war almost split the soldiery. Certainly it was a factor in Vietnamization of the war as the American army became more unreliable as a tool to carry out imperial policy.

As the material presented notes, especially in the introduction, the SWP never, as far as I know, repudiated the PMP (it kind of drifted away as World War II entered its final phases.) This, perhaps, reflected a certain “softness” as also noted on the question of running for executive offices of the bourgeois state which that party did after the war and revolutionaries’ relationship to that state in the struggle for power. As well it is not clear how much Leon Trotsky’s posthumous residual authority, who pushed the PMP as much as anybody else, played in this whole mess. Read this material as a modern Marxist primer on the bourgeois state.


Trotskyist Policies on the Second Imperialist War—Then and in Hindsight
by the International Executive Committee of the international Spartacist Tendency


Written: 1989
Source: Prometheus Research Library, New York. Published originally in Prometheus Research Series 2 1989.
Transcription/Markup/Proofing: David Walters, John Heckman, Prometheus Research Library.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2006/Prometheus Research Library. You can freely copy, display and otherwise distribute this work. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive & Prometheus Research Library as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & editors above.


The series of demands centering on the call for “trade-union control of military training,” first raised by Leon Trotsky in the last months of his life and adopted by the Trotskyist movement as the “Proletarian Military Policy” (P.M.P.), played no small role in disorienting the small and sometimes isolated sections of the Fourth International in the early years of World War II. The P.M.P. has not been operational since about 1943, when German and Japanese military power began to recede and it became clear that the Allied imperialists would win the war. However, Pierre Broué opened a discussion on the subject in Cahiers Léon Trotsky in September 1985.[1] More recently Sam Levy, a veteran of the British Trotskyist movement, has again raised the subject for critical historical review.[2] As Levy and Broué both partially document, at the time of its initiation the P.M.P. was a source of some dispute among those claiming the mantle of Trotskyism.

Leon Trotsky’s articles and letters on the subject of World War II and the P.M.P. are available in English in Pathfinder Press’s Writings of Leon Trotsky series. The key writings and speeches of American Socialist Workers Party (SWP) leader James P. Cannon on this subject are also available in Pathfinder’s collection, The Socialist Workers Party in World War II. However, other important documentary materials have long been out of print. We publish some of these here in Prometheus Research Series 2; a listing of the immediately relevant material by Cannon and Trotsky appears in a bibliography appended to this bulletin. The documents we reprint should be read in conjunction with the equally important articles and speeches in the Cannon and Trotsky writings.

The political consciousness of all classes in Europe in the period following WWI was dominated by the victory of the proletarian revolution in Russia in 1917. The spectre of Bolshevism loomed very large for those European sectors that had even one piece of silver to rub between their grubby fingers. For these elements—those who gained the slightest material advantage from the status quo, those with ideological or religious connection to the bourgeois order—fear of Communism dictated necessarily pro-fascist sympathies. After the military defeat in WWI of the most powerful European state, Germany, and especially after the failure of two successive proletarian revolutions in that country, the stage was set for Nazism, Germany’s virulent nationalism, to place itself at the head of European reaction. The proletarian victory in Russia failed to spread to the rest of Europe following the inconclusive war between Russia and Poland in 1920. This failure was largely due to the immaturity of the Communist leadership, as Trotsky pointed out in his brilliant and fundamental 1924 work, Lessons Of October.[3] Nonetheless, European reaction continued to feed on the combativity of the working class, particularly in Germany. Since fear of Communism had not been accompanied by its spread, the growing Nazi party, with wide echoes of agreement, offered up the Jews as surrogate Bolsheviks.

When Leon Trotsky launched his call for the Fourth International in July 1933, the approaching interimperialist war already cast its shadow over the world. Hitler’s rise to power ensured that German imperialism would sooner, rather than later, embark on a military struggle to reverse the terms of the Versailles treaty which had ended the First World War. Nazism had triumphed in Germany largely because of the treacherous misleadership of the working class by the Stalinists and Social Democrats. Hitler’s barbaric regime was widely and acutely hated by the world proletariat. As Hitler crushed the working class under the Nazi jackboot, consolidated a military alliance with Mussolini’s Italy and built the war machine with which he would launch a struggle to redivide the world, the opposing imperialist bourgeoisies took advantage of the anti-fascist sentiments of the masses. The French and British ruling classes portrayed their defense of the existing imperialist status quo as a defense of “democracy” against fascism. The American bourgeoisie began to abandon the posture of European “peacemaker” which it had adopted after WWI, aligning itself with the French and British camp and also cloaking its imperialist war aims in “democratic” and “anti-fascist” garb.

“War and the Fourth International”
When in June 1934 Trotsky authored “War and the Fourth International,” a manifesto on the coming imperialist conflagration, he cut through the “anti-fascist” and “democratic” pretensions of the imperialist warmongers:

18. The sham of national defense is covered up wherever possible by the additional sham of the defense of democracy. If even now, in the imperialist epoch, Marxists do not identify democracy with fascism and are ready at any moment to repel fascism’s encroachment upon democracy, must not the proletariat in case of war support the democratic governments against the fascist governments?

Flagrant sophism! We defend democracy against fascism by means of the organizations and methods of the proletariat....And if we remain in irreconcilable opposition to the most “democratic” government in time of peace, how can we take upon ourselves even a shadow of responsibility for it in time of war when all the infamies and crimes of capitalism take on a most brutal and bloody form?

19. A modern war between the great powers does not signify a conflict between democracy and fascism but a struggle of two imperialisms for the redivision of the world.[4]

Leninists believed that the rise of imperialism had starkly posed before humanity the choice: either socialism or barbarism. The coming world war would be both a resumption and an extension of the first, on a more global scale. If the crisis of proletarian leadership was not resolved with the successful seizure of state power, human civilization would pay dearly. The working class would not shrink from defending its own conquest of power, arms in hand, nor would it shrink from giving all the military support within its means to the struggles of the colonial masses against imperialism. But the proletariat had no interest in this coming war, which would see the slaughter of millions, the mass destruction of industrial capacity, the devastation of agricultural lands and of the infrastructure of civilization—all so that one or another imperialist cabal could be assured of superprofits from colonial exploitation. Extending the revolutionary defeatist policy which guided the Bolsheviks during the First World War and which imbued the documents of the first four congresses of the Communist International, Trotsky wrote:

58. In those cases where it is a question of conflict between capitalist countries, the proletariat of any one of them refuses categorically to sacrifice its historic interests, which in the final analysis coincide with the interests of the nation and humanity, for the sake of the military victory of the bourgeoisie. Lenin’s formula, “defeat is the lesser evil,” means not defeat of one’s country is the lesser evil as compared with the defeat of the enemy country but that a military defeat resulting from the growth of the revolutionary movement is infinitely more beneficial to the proletariat and to the whole people than military victory assured by “civil peace.” Karl Liebknecht gave an unsurpassed formula of proletarian policy in time of war: “The chief enemy of the people is in its own country.” The victorious proletarian revolution not only will rectify the evils caused by defeat but also will create the final guarantee against future wars and defeats. This dialectical attitude toward war is the most important element of revolutionary training and therefore also of the struggle against war.

59. The transformation of imperialist war into civil war is that general strategic task to which the whole work of a proletarian party during war should be subordinated.

Trotsky made only one addition to the revolutionary program elaborated during World War I—the duty of the world proletariat to militarily defend the gains of the October Revolution despite the usurpation of political power by the bureaucratic caste headed by Stalin:

8. ...Defense of the Soviet Union from the blows of the capitalist enemies, irrespective of the circumstances and immediate causes of the conflict, is the elementary and imperative duty of every honest labor organization.

Trotsky foresaw that a new world war would inevitably draw in the Soviet degenerated workers state, perhaps in military alliance with one of the imperialist camps. In no way would this mitigate either the proletariat’s duty to defend the Soviet Union, or the policy of intransigent defeatism toward all the warring imperialist bourgeoisies:

44. Remaining the determined and devoted defender of the workers’ state in the struggle with imperialism, the international proletariat will not, however, become an ally of the imperialist allies of the USSR. The proletariat of a capitalist country that finds itself in an alliance with the USSR must retain fully and completely its irreconcilable hostility to the imperialist government of its own country. In this sense, its policy will not differ from that of the proletariat in a country fighting against the USSR. But in the nature of practical actions, considerable differences may arise depending on the concrete war situation. For instance, it would be absurd and criminal in case of war between the USSR and Japan for the American proletariat to sabotage the sending of American munition to the USSR. But the proletariat of a country fighting against the USSR would be absolutely obliged to resort to actions of this sort—strikes, sabotage, etc.

Trotsky’s elaboration of the tactical considerations which flowed from Soviet defensism provoked controversy within the international movement. Yvan Craipeau, who held the position that the Russian bureaucracy was a new ruling class, argued that military defense of the Soviet Union in the coming war would inevitably lead the Trotskyists into social-patriotism. In his reply to Craipeau, Trotsky pointed out that Soviet defensism and revolutionary defeatism had existed as two coequal elements in the program of the revolutionary proletariat since 1918:

In that period [1918-1923] the Soviet state maneuvered on the international arena and sought temporary allies. At the same time, it is precisely in that period that defeatism was made a duty for the workers of all the imperialist countries, the “enemies” as well as the temporary “allies.”[5]

Within the basic framework established by “War and the Fourth International,” the Trotskyist movement debated and adopted positions upon the various military conflicts which preceded and prefigured the approaching world war (military support to the Republican side while refusing to vote war credits during the Spanish Civil War; the military defense of Ethiopia against imperialist Italy; the military defense of China against imperialist Japan). Trotsky recognized that there was no sharp line of demarcation between the proletariat’s policy in war and peace. He insisted that defeatism was simply the extension to wartime of the proletariat’s irreconcilable hostility to bourgeois class rule:

To carry the class struggle to its highest form—civil war—this is the task of defeatism. But this task can be solved only through the revolutionary mobilization of the masses, that is, by widening, deepening, and sharpening those revolutionary methods which constitute the content of class struggle in “peacetime.”[6]

Within the context of heightened interimperialist rivalry and war there could arise colonial uprisings and proletarian struggles to which one or another of the imperialist camps might give military assistance. This would not mitigate the duty of the international proletariat to give all the military support within its means to these struggles, just as the proletariat would be bound to militarily aid the Soviet Union in the coming war.

The horrible depravity of German fascism, fusing as it did the most base social barbarism with a new technology of mass death, propelled many despairing ex-leftists into the Allied imperialist camp as the war approached. While in the period leading up to the First World War it was the extreme right-wing militarists who pushed for war, in the Allied countries in the pre-WWII period it was the factions on the “left” of the political spectrum who were the most ardent advocates of war (the Roosevelt New Dealers, the British Labour Party, and the Stalinist parties from 1935 until the Hitler-Stalin pact). The main factions of the French and British bourgeoisies tried to appease Nazi Germany. When, after the abject capitulation of Chamberlain and Daladier to Hitler at Munich in the fall of 1938, some of Trotsky’s supporters in Palestine capitulated to popular “anti-fascism” and argued for abandoning revolutionary defeatism, Trotsky labeled the Palestinian comrades’ position “a step toward social patriotism.” Using the concrete example of Czechoslovakia to unmask the “anti-fascist” rhetoric of the bourgeoisie, Trotsky wrote:

“Could the proletariat of Czechoslovakia have struggled against its government and the latter’s capitulatory policy by slogans of peace and defeatism?” A very concrete question is posed here in a very abstract form. There was no room for “defeatism” because there was no war (and it is not accidental that no war ensued). In the critical twenty-four hours of universal confusion and indignation, the Czechoslovak proletariat had the full opportunity of overthrowing the “capitulatory” government and seizing power. For this only a revolutionary leadership was required. Naturally, after seizing power, the proletariat would have offered desperate resistance to Hitler and would have indubitably evoked a mighty reaction in the working masses of France and other countries. Let us not speculate on what the further course of events might have been. In any case the situation today would have been infinitely more favorable to the world working class. Yes, we are not pacifists; we are for revolutionary war. But the Czech working class did not have the slightest right to entrust the leadership of a war “against fascism” to Messrs. Capitalists who, within a few days, so safely changed their coloration and became themselves fascists and quasifascists. Transformations and recolorations of this kind on the part of the ruling classes will be on the order of the day in wartime in all “democracies.” That is why the proletariat would ruin itself if it were to determine its main line of policy by the formal and unstable labels of “for fascism” and “against fascism.”[7]

The Origin of the “Proletarian Military Policy”
Trotsky soon saw indications that the Munich capitulation had frightened Stalin into seeking a military alliance with Hitler.[8] But Trotsky also saw that this alliance would be short-lived. On 23 August 1939 the Hitler-Stalin pact was signed: the Soviet Union pledged to stay out of any war between Germany and the Western “democracies.” Little more than a week later the pact was consummated when the Nazis invaded Poland, finally provoking Britain and France to a declaration of war. The German Blitzkrieg defeated the Polish forces in three weeks. Meanwhile, Soviet troops occupied eastern Poland, as per their agreement with Hitler. As a result of the Hitler-Stalin pact, the parties of the Communist International did an about-face. The Stalinist Popular Front policy, inaugurated in 1935 with the Stalin-Laval pact, had seen the Stalinist parties following and adding to the mass pro-war sentiment. Now they suddenly discovered the imperialist ambitions of the “democratic” Allies, while ignoring the Italian occupation of Abyssinia and the German invasion of Poland.

The Stalinist about-face produced a sharp break in popular political consciousness in the Allied imperialist countries as the war began: public opinion turned sharply to anti-Communism. A section of the cadre of the American Socialist Workers Party, led by Max Shachtman, Martin Abern and James Burnham, bowed to this wave of anti-Communism and took the first, qualitative step toward reconciliation with their own bourgeoisie, abandoning the military defense of the Soviet Union. As a result, Trotsky and Cannon spent the early months of the war embroiled in a crucial factional struggle over the Russian question. It was resolved only in April 1940 when the defectors split, taking 40 percent of the membership from what had been the largest and most successful section of the Fourth International, to found the Workers Party.

In May 1940, as Hitler’s armies rolled through Belgium and Holland and on toward Paris, an emergency conference of the Fourth International was held in New York. Trotsky authored a new Manifesto on the war, which was adopted by the conference.[9] It is in a passage near the end of this Manifesto that a new element in the Fourth International’s program on the imperialist war first appears:

The militarization of the masses is further intensified every day. We reject the grotesque pretension of doing away with this militarization through empty pacifist protests. All the great questions will be decided in the next epoch arms in hand. The workers should not fear arms; on the contrary they should learn to use them. Revolutionists no more separate themselves from the people during war than in peace. A Bolshevik strives to become not only the best trade unionist but also the best soldier.

We do not wish to permit the bourgeoisie to drive untrained or half-trained soldiers at the last hour onto the battlefield. We demand that the state immediately provide the workers and the unemployed with the possibility of learning how to handle the rifle, the hand grenade, the machine gun, the cannon, the airplane, the submarine, and the other tools of war. Special military schools are necessary in close connection with the trade unions so that the workers can become skilled specialists of the military art, able to hold posts as commanders.

These sentences are the first expression of what became known as the “Proletarian Military Policy,” though it appears that Trotsky had, as early as October 1939, been groping for some way to use the war to popularize the need for proletarian military training.[10]

Trotsky elaborated this new set of demands in a discussion with leaders of the American SWP on 12 June 1940.[11] He also wrote several letters and an article on the subject over the next few months.[12] When his life was cut short by a Stalinist assassin in August, Trotsky was working on a major article designed in part to provide the theoretical justification for the new demands.[13] In September, the SWP formally adopted a resolution on the new military policy at a conference in Chicago:[14]

We fight against sending the worker-soldiers into battle without proper training and equipment. We oppose the military direction of worker-soldiers by bourgeois officers who have no regard for their treatment, their protection and their lives. We demand federal funds for the military training of workers and worker-officers under the control of the trade unions. Military appropriations? Yes—but only for the establishment and equipment of worker training camps! Compulsory military training of workers? Yes—but only under the control of the trade unions!

From October 1940 until March 1945 these demands held a spot in the program box of the SWP’s weekly press.

The adoption of the “Proletarian Military Policy” did not provoke known opposition within the American SWP. However, Max Shachtman, then only one step down the long road he followed toward reconciliation with American imperialism, wrote some very effective polemics against it, which we reprint here.[15] When some of those who had left the SWP with Shachtman rejoined in Los Angeles, they retained their opposition to the P.M.P.[16]

In Britain the P.M.P. was extremely controversial. All wings of the faction-ridden Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL), official section of the Fourth International, initially opposed what they called the “American Military Policy.” However, a pro-P.M.P. faction eventually developed within the RSL: the Trotskyist Opposition (TO) led by Hilda Lane and John Lawrence. In 1942 the TO was expelled, and opposition to the military policy was made a criterion of RSL membership. In contrast, the British Workers International League (WIL), which had been condemned by the founding conference of the Fourth International for its cliquist refusal to join the RSL, adopted the P.M.P., though not without some internal dissension. When, in March 1944, the WIL fused with the remnants of the RSL, the P.M.P. was still a subject of debate.[17] The new organization, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), adopted the resolution on military policy submitted by the former WIL and TO. In addition to this resolution, we reprint below the motions submitted to the RCP founding conference by the Militant Group and the Left Faction of the former RSL.[18]

Communication among the Fourth Internationalists was spotty to nonexistent during the war. The Dutch Committee of Revolutionary Marxists, which produced some of the best defeatist propaganda, appears not to have known about the P.M.P. Where it did become known, however, the new military policy provoked controversy. The Bulletin Mensuel de la IVe Internationale published by the Committees for the Fourth International in Vichy France printed excerpts from the SWP’s conference resolution in its April 1941 issue. We print below translations of two articles which accompanied the excerpts. One, a letter by “Comrade C.,” objects to the SWP resolution and to the fact that the French leading Committee saw fit to print it. The Committee’s reply to Comrade C. also takes issue with the SWP’s military policy while defending their decision to open a discussion on the question.[19]

Telescoping the Tasks
In large part the P.M.P. was based on an exaggerated prognosis of the extent to which the proletariat would engage in struggle against the war early on. Trotsky thought that wartime necessity would rapidly rip the “anti-fascist” and “democratic” mask off the Anglo-American imperialists. He expected that the bourgeoisies of both countries would be forced to impose some variant of bonapartist dictatorship in the face of mounting discontent, leading to social struggle and perhaps situations of dual power. Moreover, Trotsky projected that, faced with internal social struggle, the Anglo-American imperialists would follow the example of their French allies and become “defeatist,” viewing Hitler as the lesser evil. In his last article, Trotsky wrote:

The Second World War poses the question of change of regimes more imperiously, more urgently than did the first war. It is first and foremost a question of the political regime. The workers are aware that democracy is suffering shipwreck everywhere, and that they are threatened by fascism even in those countries where fascism is as yet nonexistent. The bourgeoisie of the democratic countries will naturally utilize this dread of fascism on the part of the workers, but, on the other hand, the bankruptcy of democracies, their collapse, their painless transformation into reactionary dictatorships, compel the workers to pose before themselves the problem of power, and render them responsive to the posing of the problem of power.[20]

Based on this prognosis, Trotsky combined “fighting fascism” in the war with the task of the proletariat seizing power. In his summary speech to the SWP’s September conference, Cannon makes the telescoping explicit:

Many times in the past we were put at a certain disadvantage; the demagogy of the Social Democrats against us was effective to a certain extent. They said, “You have no answer to the question of how to fight against Hitler, how to prevent Hitler from conquering France, Belgium, etc.”...Well, we answered in a general way, the workers will first overthrow the bourgeoisie at home and then they will take care of invaders. That was a good program, but the workers did not make the revolution in time. Now the two tasks must be telescoped and carried out simultaneously.[21]

In “Bonapartism, Fascism, and War” Trotsky bases the P.M.P. on the experience of the Russian Revolution:

True enough, the Bolsheviks in the space of eight months conquered the overwhelming majority of the workers. But the decisive role in this conquest was played not by the refusal to defend the bourgeois fatherland but by the slogan “All Power to the Soviets!” And only by this revolutionary slogan! The criticism of imperialism, its militarism, the renunciation of the defense of bourgeois democracy and so on could have never conquered the overwhelming majority of the people to the side of the Bolsheviks....[22]

But Trotsky’s use of the post-February Bolshevik example could only be misleading in a situation where there did not yet exist a situation of dual power in any imperialist country.

Defeatism and Revolutionary Tactics
After the overthrow of tsarism in February 1917 the Bolsheviks maintained their intransigent opposition to the imperialist war, now being waged by the new “democratic” capitalist government. Lenin’s April Theses declare that “not the slightest concession must be made to ‘revolutionary defencism’.” But the April Theses also state that:

In view of the undoubted honesty of those broad sections of the mass believers in revolutionary defencism who accept the war only as a necessity, and not as a means of conquest, in view of the fact that they are being deceived by the bourgeoisie, it is necessary with particular thoroughness, persistence and patience to explain their error to them, to explain the inseparable connection existing between capital and the imperialist war, and to prove that without overthrowing capital it is impossible to end the war by a truly democratic peace, a peace not imposed by violence.[23]

Increasingly, the Bolsheviks attempted to find a “bridge” to the defensist sentiments of the masses. But this was only possible because the working masses had overthrown the tsar and created the soviets—incipient organs of proletarian state power. The proletariat had in hand a conquest worth defending against the German armies. Correspondingly the Russian bourgeoisie, faced with the revolutionary proletariat, increasingly went over to defeatism (even going so far as to allow German troops to take Riga). “All Power to the Soviets!” became a call for the Russian proletariat to take power, the better to be able to defend the revolution against both internal counterrevolution and the German armies. The Bolsheviks recognized that they might well have to defend a Russian Soviet state after taking power, and they certainly never excluded the possibility that the new state might wage a revolutionary war against Germany.

The shift iin Bolshevik propagandistic emphasis led Lenin to remark in 1918 that “we were not defeatists.”[24] Yet the Bolsheviks never abandoned a defeatist posture toward the Russian bourgeois government—they simply varied the tactical application because of the class war then raging in Russia. When the imperialist war is transformed into a civil war, that civil war is fought out on the internal political terrain of the individual nation-state.

Politics is in large part the art of the possible. It is not possible to demand the equivalent of “All Power to the Soviets!” in the absence of that level of class struggle and consciousness which leads to soviets or some other organs of dual power. The general strike which rocked Prague 21-22 September 1938 was certainly a situation which approximated the one foreseen in Trotsky’s last, unfinished article on the war: the question of change of regime was imperiously posed when the working class simply (and evidently spontaneously) revolted against the rumored capitulation of the Hodza government to Hitler’s demand for the Sudeten. The call for the formation of general strike committees to take power out of the hands of the bourgeoisie—the only measure which could defend the Czech, Slovak and German working masses against Hitler—would have been appropriate here, though it was necessary to couple this with agitation for the democratic rights of the Sudeten Germans oppressed by the Czech bourgeoisie. In the absence of a struggle for proletarian state power, the Czech ruling class, with the indispensable aid of the mass Stalinist party, succeeded in derailing the revolt of the masses. The new Syrovy government promised before crowds of hundreds of thousands to “fight to the end”—and once the proletariat was demobilized gave way to the French and British insistence on capitulation, ceding the Sudeten to Hitler.[25]

But to call in the midst of a potentially revolutionary situation for proletarian state power to defend against Hitler is not the same thing as to call for “trade-union control of military training” when it is the bourgeois state waging war against Hitler. Trotsky erred in attempting to raise a positive set of demands for the war in the absence of a revolutionary situation. As a general rule revolutionaries prefer to raise negative demands on the bourgeois state—these are the most powerful vehicles for mobilizing the masses against the bourgeoisie. Positive demands on the core institutions of the capitalist state—the army, police and courts—are easily bent in the reformist direction of portraying the bourgeois repressive apparatus as somehow class-neutral.

“Proletarian Military Policy”: Either Utopian...
In hindsight it is clear that the P.M.P. is shamelessly utopian: the bourgeois state is not about to legislate away its control of military training. The working class cannot “control” any aspect of the bourgeois army, except in a transitory revolutionary situation (e.g. one presenting certain elements of dual power). In such a situation, Leninists seek to win the mass of the soldiers to the side of the incipient proletarian revolution, in the process smashing the institutions of the bourgeois state and thus creating a new proletarian state in its place.

Along the road of struggle leading to the establishment of a proletarian state, the call for the establishment of workers self-defense organizations is central to the revolutionary program. These organizations represent the army of the workers state in embryo—but only if they are completely independent of the bourgeois state. The Transitional Program, adopted at the founding conference of the Fourth International in 1938, couples its call for workers’ military schools and military training with the demand for the “complete independence of workers’ organizations from military-police control.”[26] But the P.M.P. demanded that the bourgeois state fund workers’ military schools, bending toward a reformist position on the character of the capitalist state. The SWP’s ridiculous demand for “trade-union control of conscription” went even further down this road.

...Or a Concession to Allied War Propaganda
Revolutionary defeatism represents the desire, from an international and strategic standpoint, to turn the imperialist war into a civil war. Yet the origins of the formulation reveal a certain confusion inherent in its use. Lenin first developed the concept during the Russo-Japanese war, when he supported the military victory of nascent Japanese capitalism against the tsarist monarchy (Lenin viewed the war as a repeat of the nationalist wars of 19th century Europe and not as an interimperialist conflict prefiguring WWI). However, during the First World War Lenin clearly generalized “defeatism” into a policy which applied equally to the proletariats of all the imperialist combatants. The use of the term “defeatism” is based on the recognition that: (1) a string of military defeats for an imperialist government helps to bring about domestic social struggle and (2) any significant social struggle in time of war inevitably “aids” the enemy power. The proletariat will not curtail the class struggle for fear of facilitating the victory of the “enemy” imperialist camp. Karl Liebknecht’s slogan “The main enemy is at home” best encapsulates the sense of Lenin’s revolutionary defeatism.

Lurking not far under the surface of the P.M.P. was the proposition that the proletariats of the world had a greater enemy than their own bourgeoisies—namely German fascism. Hitler’s armies were marching toward Paris as Trotsky wrote the May 1940 Manifesto; later Trotsky advocated that the ignominious French capitulation become the centerpiece of P.M.P. propaganda:

It is important, of course, to explain to the advanced workers that the genuine fight against fascism is the socialist revolution. But it is more urgent, more imperative, to explain to the millions of American workers that the defense of their “democracy” cannot be delivered over to an American Marshal Pétain....If the fatherland should be defended, then the defense cannot be abandoned to the arbitrary will of individuals. It should be a common attitude.[27]

But Trotsky had pointed out as early as 1934 that fascism in power operates in a manner politically akin to a bonapartist military dictatorship.[28] To link “defense of democracy” and “anti-fascism” with the Allied imperialist war effort represented a capitulation to false consciousness. It was the job of revolutionaries to expose the anti-fascist pretensions of the “democratic” ruling classes. In 1927 Winston Churchill had declared to Mussolini’s government, “If I had been an Italian, I am sure that I should have been wholeheartedly with you from start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.”[29] A decade later he was railing about the “bestiality of Nazism.” The Fourth International had hammered home the point that the “democratic” bourgeoisie of today will tomorrow employ the fascists as a club against the revolutionary proletariat. While in theory the P.M.P. was based on the idea that the “democracies” would rapidly try to institute some kind of bonapartist dictatorship, in practice it conceded ground to the “anti-fascist” war propaganda of the Allied imperialists. Thus it meant retreat to a profoundly ahistorical view of the war and the regimes prosecuting it.

The new military policy was only applied, and could only have been applied, in Britain, the United States and their ancillary allies (Australia, Canada). Sam Levy at once recognizes and attempts to deny this fact:

The struggle was first and foremost in the original bourgeois democratic countries, even though the struggle for the armed bodies of men was equally necessary in the Fascist countries, though its manner and form would be determined by circumstances, the difficulties involved, etc.[30]

Levy has to be vague about the concrete application of the P.M.P. to Germany. The May 1940 Manifesto was hardly demanding that Hitler’s state establish schools for workers’ training under trade-union control.

The world proletariat had every reason to fear and loathe the Nazi jackboot. Naturally this fear was particularly acute in the European nations which were most vulnerable to German conquest and occupation. The Belgian masses had already experienced occupation in WWI. But it was not the job of the Fourth International to accept the Allied bourgeois armies as saviors by declaring that (in the words of the May Manifesto) “We do not wish to permit the bourgeoisie to drive untrained or half-trained soldiers at the last hour onto the battlefield.” Trotsky was not referring to the German army in this passage—there is a tacit Anglo-American bias behind the abstraction of “the bourgeoisie.”

Yes, Hitler’s armies had smashed through Holland, Belgium and France—thousands had died and millions were going to die in this obscene war of imperialist conquest, the renewal and intensification of the conflagration that had wracked the European continent from 1914 to 1918. But far better that intense proletarian class struggle and colonial uprisings paralyze the British and American war effort, perhaps leading to transient German victories, than that the proletariat implicitly support the Allied armies by demanding better trained and equipped soldiers! Behind the P.M.P. as it was developed by the British and American Trotskyists lies the insistence that “Hitler must stop at our borders”—that is, the assumption that military defeat, occupation, mass murder, forced labor could or should only happen to the peoples of the European continent and the colored peoples of the colonies.

If mass popular opposition to the war had disrupted the British war effort, leading Hitler to attempt a Channel crossing (as it was, he never mounted a serious effort), the German conquerors would have inherited the problems of the British bourgeoisie, compounded by national resentment at the foreign invader. The colonial slaves of the British empire would doubtless have taken advantage of a humiliating British defeat to declare their independence. It is not hard to imagine the revolutionary world scenario which would have ensued, infecting even the soldiers of the Wehrmacht, many of whom were the sons of Social Democratic and Communist workers.

In fact the masses of India did take advantage of the war to press their struggle for national liberation. Within a few weeks of Britain’s bald announcement that India was “at war” with the Axis powers, 90,000 workers were on strike against the war in Bombay, and there were also strikes and mass meetings in Calcutta and elsewhere. If the small Trotskyist forces had demanded, in the midst of this strike wave, that the British imperialists fund special schools under trade-union control so that the Indian masses could “fight fascism” and defend British “democracy,” it would have meant their transformation and virtual dissolution into the British administration.

The initial Indian strike wave was derailed, but mass antiwar sentiment did not evaporate. The rapid succession of Japanese military victories in Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore and finally Burma impelled even the compradors of Gandhi’s Congress Party to action against the war. In August and September of 1942 a massive “Quit India” movement swept the subcontinent. Barricades went up in the streets of Bombay, spontaneous strikes erupted—millions went into the streets shouting “Inquilab Zindabad!” (Long Live the Revolution!). British retaliation was swift and vicious: thousands were killed, entire villages were bombed by the air force, and tens of thousands were rounded up and put in British concentration camps. The Indian Stalinists, now firm backers of the British war effort, helped the imperialists crush the struggle. The young and inexperienced Trotskyist forces organized in the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India (BLPI—led at the time by exiled members of the Ceylonese Lanka Samasamaja Party) intervened heroically. They warned of the treachery of the Congress Party and the Stalinists, advocated the agrarian revolution—and they called for the formation of strike and workers self-defense committees. The P.M.P. had no place in the BLPI’s program, which was headlined with the slogans, “Down with imperialism! Down with the imperialist war!”[31]

The British and American Trotskyists could have pursued these same negative slogans which had been used by revolutionaries in World War I. “Not one man and not one penny for the imperialist army” should have been the basis for their propaganda on the war. Insofar as the Allied imperialists lost during the early years of the war, “fear of foreign invasion” did come to predominate in popular political consciousness in the main Allied metropolitan centers. But the Allied losses weren’t terminal. The population was not ground into the kind of despair, desperation and grasping at alternatives (real or illusory) that leads to massive unrest and revolt against a warring government, as occurred, e.g., in Russia in 1917, in Germany in 1918, among the Ukrainian peasantry in June 1941. In any case revolutionaries do not base their program on transitory popular moods, but on the historic interests of the working class. In the early years of the First World War the tiny forces of the Zimmerwald antiwar socialists had to swim against the current of popular pro-war sentiment. They stuck to their guns, awaiting the domestic discontent that the hardships of war (and especially defeat) inevitably engender. This was also the task of the Fourth Internationalists in World War II.

A Step Toward Social-Patriotism
The American SWP and British WIL used the P.M.P. to blur their propaganda on the nature of the war and blunt the edge of their revolutionary defeatism. A 1941 pamphlet published by the WIL claimed that their newspaper, Socialist Appeal, had “consistently put forward a proletarian military policy whereby the workers will be enabled to wage a genuine revolutionary war against Hitlerism and every other brand of Fascism.”[32] The SWP’s Militant declared: “the real solution is to transform this imperialist war into a war against fascism.”[33] The Militant’s declaration is made in the midst of an article opposing the new “Lend-Lease” law (which allowed Roosevelt to provide massive material aid for the British war effort) and it is coupled with the statement: “That can only be done by taking all power out of the hands of the capitalist class. The workers can fight and conquer fascism only by taking control of the country into their own hands.” Yet when 29 leaders of the SWP and Teamsters Local 544 were tried in Minneapolis under the Smith Act (18 were eventually convicted and sent to prison), Cannon’s trial testimony also tended toward the call to transform the war into a “real” struggle against fascism:

Q: Is it true then that the party is as equally opposed to Hitler as it is to the capitalist claims of the United States?

A: That is uncontestable. We consider Hitler and Hitlerism the greatest enemy of mankind. We want to wipe it off the face of the earth. The reason we do not support a declaration of war by American arms is because we do not believe the American capitalists can defeat Hitler and fascism. We think Hitlerism can be destroyed only by way of conducting a war under the leadership of the workers.[34]

In addition, Cannon portrayed “trade-union control of military training” as a simple legislative proposal—a bit of parliamentary cretinism most insincerely delivered. Cannon’s trial testimony was a source of controversy in the Trotskyist movement at the time, but the P.M.P. figured in only a minor way. Grandizo Munis’ criticism was suffused with striking advocacy of “violence” and “sabotage,” revealing a good dose of Blanquism and anarchism. Neither Cannon then, nor Trotskyists today, seek or glory in any general way in “violence” and “sabotage.”

Yet Cannon's testimony certainly lacks the sense that imbued the thesis on American imperialism adopted by the founding conference of the Fourth International:

There is every indication that, unless European imperialism is smashed by the proletarian revolution and peace established on a socialist basis, the United States will dictate the terms of the imperialist peace after emerging as the victor. Its participation will not only determine the victory of the side it joins, but will also determine the disposition of the booty, of which it will claim the lion’s share....American imperialism challenges the claims of its older rivals to exclusively exploit China’s vast rich resources, both natural and human. Behind this “pacific” slogan [the “open door”] is the half-drawn sword—against both Japan and England for an increasing right to exploit China and the Chinese masses. As in all other cases, American imperialism in the Far East is a thin cloak for aggressive imperialist expansion.[35]

In fact the ferocious war between the Japanese and American imperialist forces in the Pacific figured hardly at all in the weekly newspaper of the SWP after Roosevelt finally succeeded in provoking the Japanese to declare war on the United States. The only ideological basis for the Pacific War was intense racism (on both sides)—revolutionaries could hardly find a “bridge” to the defensist sentiments of the masses on that basis.

The imperialist ambitions of Washington and Tokyo in Asia figured prominently in Trotsky’s own projections as to the probable course of WWII. From the beginning of the Japanese war against China in July 1937, Fourth Internationalists had given unconditional military support to the Chinese resistance to Japanese conquest, while recognizing that the war in China would become “more and more interlocked with the imperialist war” (May Manifesto). After December 1941 Chiang Kai-shek's nationallist army did subordinate itself to the U.S. imperialist war effort, but Mao Tse-tung’s peasant-based forces continued to wage the struggle for national independence. The prescience of Trotsky’s December 1939 prediction that the Japanese would move from China into the American, British and Dutch colonies of the South Pacific (and not northwest toward the USSR)[36] is startling in light of the fact that it was only two years later that the heroic Soviet spies Richard Sorge and Ozaki Hotsumi finally confirmed that this was the intention of the Japanese high command.

The SWP’s adoption of the P.M.P. necessitated a certain blindness to the grinding, racist war being fought in Asia. Yet the Militant condemned the internment of Japanese Americans, and the SWP also conducted extensive agitation for black rights during the war. Prior to the late 1930s the American black population lived largely in the rural South, but the war and the military buildup that preceded it saw a tremendous migration of blacks into industry in the North and West, into Southern urban areas, and into the military. Blacks keenly resented the fact that the armed forces remained rigidly segregated, with the upper echelons of the officer corps heavily drawn from white Southerners and openly racist. While the black population hated everything that Hitler stood for, wartime propaganda about American “democracy” ran counter to their everyday experience. Thus black American response to WWII mobilization was contradictory, ranging from skeptical to cynical to overtly hostile. This latter reaction was captured in the words of a young Southern black quoted in the 19 October 1940 Socialist Appeal as saying, “I only hope I go to the army and stay there long enough to get my hands on a machine gun....All the fighting I’ll ever do will be right here at home.” The SWP’s wartime agitation against Jim Crow won it substantial black recruitment, much of it deflected from the Communist Party, which had abandoned the struggle for black rights when it embraced the imperialist war effort. This exemplary campaign against racism and segregation, especially in the military, tended to cut across the implicit social-patriotism of the P.M.P.

The P.M.P.’s tendency to blur the line between defeatism and defensism was reflected in the statement, first made in the May 1940 Manifesto, that a Bolshevik strives to be the “best soldier.” This stands in flat contradiction to the Manifesto’s call for fraternization between the troops of the imperialist armies, but it is repeated in the SWP’s September 1940 resolution. In contrast, a Manifesto by the Executive Committee of the Fourth International written just after Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union calls for workers to be the “best soldiers” in a suitable army—the Red one.[37] The revolutionaries imprisoned in Stalin’s Arctic camps, among whom there still numbered many Trotskyists, volunteered to serve in the Red Army by the hundreds of thousands. Despite the criminal refusal of the Stalinist bureaucracy to let them fight, the Soviet political prisoners did what they could for the Soviet war effort, relinquishing certain of their rights and agreeing to the extension of the working day to 12 hours.[38] This was totally appropriate: Trotskyists were military defensists in the case of Soviet Russia, but they were not supposed to be defensists in the case of the Allied imperialists.

The SWP zealously applied Trotsky’s dictum that “any pacifists is a hundred times more dangerous than temporary confusion with the bourgeois militarists”[39] They dumped their campaign against conscription in favor of a virulent attack on “mealy-mouthed” pacifism, which their September 1940 resolution labels “a debilitating poison in the workers’ movement.” This in the midst of a major wave of social-chauvinism!

Leninists do not separate themselves from the masses of youth, especially the young workers, drafted in time of imperialist war. If drafted, revolutionaries go into the army with the rest of their generation in order to engage in propaganda and agitation against the war. Individual pacifist resistance is no solution to imperialist war, yet many of its practitioners are courageous individuals whom Marxists want to address with their propaganda—and the bourgeois state’s repressive measures against them should certainly be opposed by revolutionaries. Mass pacifist sentiment can provide a starting point for revolutionary propaganda against the war, as the report of the Canadian section to the Emergency Conference of the Fourth International in May 1940 recognized (there was mass opposition to conscription in French Canada).[40]

The anti-pacifist campaign of the SWP and WIL paralleled that of the bourgeois militarists. After the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact, the pacifist George Orwell became an open social-patriot and he railed that it was left-wingers “trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist” who had sapped the morale of British imperialism in the face of Hitler.[41] With the Wehrmacht sitting across the Channel, the WIL’s emphasis on the need to “arm the workers” had to sound similar to Orwell’s call on the British state to “arm the people” against Nazi invasion.

“Our Eighth Army”
The bourgeois state desperately fears giving arms to the working class. Historically, the proletariat seizes arms when faced with a felt threat (e.g., the Spanish workers faced with Franco’s coup). The use of the slogan “arm the workers” gave a semi-defensist tilt to the WIL’s propaganda. Jock Haston, Sam Levy and Millie Lee opposed this tilt, particularly when it cropped up as softness to the bourgeois defense forces of the Home Guard. But Haston would not argue against the P.M.P. itself, since Cannon and Trotsky were its proponents. This led Haston into the dishonest methodology of denying that Cannon and Trotsky meant what they wrote—ludicrously he claimed that the P.M.P. was simply a program for work in the armed forces (as if Leninists had not always opposed individual draft resistance!).[42] It was apparently Haston’s intervention that pulled the WIL back from an early approach to social-patriotism. A subsequent WIL resolution on the military policy drops the demand “arm the workers” and also demands the dissolution of the Home Guard.[43]

Yet a current conciliatory of defensism continued to run through the WIL’s propaganda. We have appended to this bulletin a flyer for a 1942 WIL meeting. This flyer presents workers control of production as the answer to the “chaos” of British war production, and it contains not one word of opposition to the war. In a speech to the 1943 WIL conference, Ted Grant went so far as to proclaim:

We have a victorious army in North Africa and Italy, and I say, yes, Long Live the Eighth Army, because that is our army. One of our comrades has spoken to a number of people who have had letters from the Eighth Army soldiers showing their complete dissatisfaction. We know of incidents in the army, navy and other forces that have never been reported, and it is impossible for us to report. It is OUR Eighth Army that is being hammered and tested and being organised for the purpose of changing the face of the world. This applies equally to all the forces.[44]

Trotskyists Under the Nazi Occupation
Especially after the Nazi occupation of France in June 1940, the pressure on the Trotskyists in occupied Europe was enormous. Added to this was the pervasive cliquism which had riddled the European groups ever since their formation in the early 1930s. So it is not surprising that, cut off from senior cadre internationally, and with the death of Trotsky, most individuals and virtually all the groups showed major disorientation, ranging from partial revision of some crucial aspect of Leninism to the total abandonment of Marxism. Jean Rous, who had supported Trotsky’s positions in many of the faction fights in the French section from 1934 to 1939, defected to found the “Mouvement National Révolutionnaire” under the slogan “Neither Vichy nor London, neither Berlin nor Moscow.” The MNR took the position that Hitler’s Germany, like Stalin’s Russia, represented a new, higher stage of capitalism. They flirted briefly with Déat’s French fascist party, calling on the French state to defend itself against “Judaism, Masonry and Jesuitism.”[45] Most MNR members eventually joined the Gaullist Resistance.

The German section, the International Communists (IKD), which existed during the war only in exile, broke with Leninism toward Menshevism when it claimed that “the transition from fascism to socialism remains a utopia without a stopping place, which is by its contents equivalent to a democratic revolution.” They espoused a movement for “national freedom” by “all classes and strata.”[46]

But even among those who maintained a revolutionary perspective, the reaction to Nazi occupation generated symmetrical deviations on the national question that broke sharply, if episodically, with the tradition of Trotskyism and Leninism. When the P.M.P. did become a subject of debate, it was in the context of this broader debate on the national question.

Colony-starved German imperialism sought, first of all, to subject all of Europe to a savagely brutal imperialist domination. The more agrarian and backward Eastern Europe had long been the object of German imperialist ambitions. But the German occupation of industrially advanced West Europe also raised the issue of national oppression, though not in a way that is simply analogous to the struggle for national liberation in a traditional colonial situation, where the agrarian revolution is a central driving force. After the fall of France, Trotsky himself had noted that “France is being transformed into an oppressed nation....Added to social oppression is national oppression, the main burden of which is likewise borne by the workers. Of all the forms of dictatorship, the totalitarian dictatorship of a foreign conqueror is the most intolerable.”[47]

On the eve of the war the French Trotskyists were in political and organizational disarray. The official French section, the Internationalist Workers Party (POI), had fractured in February 1939 over the question of entry into Marceau Pivert’s PSOP. The PSOP had recently emerged from the French Social Democracy in opposition to support for the bourgeoisie’s war preparations (for much of the preceding period the head of the French Socialists, Léon Blum, had been leader of the governing Popular Front coalition). Entry into the PSOP represented an opportunity to intersect thousands of leftward-moving workers and petty bourgeois. While the minority of the POI, headed by Yvan Craipeau, did enter the PSOP, the majority initially refused to do so, leading to a break with the International Secretariat in June. The Pivert organization disintegrated after the war began.

Craipeau’s followers regrouped to form the “French Committees for the Fourth International,” which was considered to be the official French section of the Fourth International at the Emergency Conference held in New York in May 1940.[48] In August, this organization fused with Marcel Hic’s wing of the ex-POI which had opposed entry into the PSOP. Documents written by Marcel Hic provided the basis for the fusion, though the new organization kept the name “French Committees for the Fourth International.” Hic espoused an explicitly nationalist and popular-frontist line, declaring that the Trotskyists “stretch out [their] hands to the ‘French’ faction of the bourgeoisie.”[49] Hic also called on English workers to abandon revolutionary defeatism and support the military struggle of British imperialism.[50] However, Hic’s positions faced strong opposition from within the fused group, especially from Marcel Gibelin.[51] A period of intense internal debate followed, which resulted in the French Committees abandoning the more extreme class collaboration and social-patriotism expressed in the early documents.

Other groups broke with the Trotskyist program in an opposite direction, by denying that any aspect of the national question existed in Nazi-occupied Europe. This was the position of the “Revolutionary Communist” group composed of Austrians, Germans and Czechs who had fled to France in 1938.[52] It was also the position of some of the Greek Trotskyists, represented by L. Kastritis of the Workers Vanguard group, who continue to maintain that “occupations during the imperialist war are nothing but a phase, an incident of a smaller or greater significance of the prolonged war....It neither raises a national question and a question of National Liberation, nor, finally, does it change the basic duties of the proletariat, i.e. the transformation of the war into a civil war.”[53] This general approach was shared by the French Barta group,[54] precursor of Lutte Ouvrière, which withdrew early on into the same kind of sterile economism it maintains today, and by the followers of Amadeo Bordiga, some of whom briefly fused with the Trotskyists in Italy in 1944.

In August 1940 Henri Molinier, central leader of the International Communist Committee (CCI, the Molinier-Frank group), wrote a document entitled “What Is To Be Done?” which equated the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany as new, “progressive” forms of “state capitalism.” Molinier (for whom Trotsky had always expressed a great deal of esteem, unlike for his brother Raymond) called for work in all mass organizations, including fascist ones.[55] As might be expected, this document gave rise to an intense faction fight which lasted until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 eliminated the basis for this eclectic and impressionistic state capitalism.

A little over a year later, the CCI sent to Germany some of its members who had been requisitioned by the Nazis for forced labor (the STO—Obligatory Labor Service).[56] Some members of the Dutch Committee of Revolutionary Marxists (CRM) also went to work in Germany. The CRM had emerged in 1942 from the remnants of Henk Sneevliet’s organization and declared for the Fourth International a year later, though it remained out of contact until the end of the war.[57] There was mass evasion of STO in most of occupied Europe, but it was either brute force or raw hunger which impelled most of those who participated—and some revolutionaries were forced to go through this experience with the rest of the European proletariat. Working in Germany was anathema to the bourgeois nationalist Resistance movements and their Stalinist collaborators, but another consideration entered into the equation for the Trotskyists: the strategic importance of the German revolution, in which STO workers could be expected to play an important role. The CCI formed a cell near Berlin and attempted to propagandize among French and German workers, while a member of the CRM participated in a strike in Bremerhaven.

Were the Trotskyists such wishful thinkers to expect (and work for) a proletarian revolution to arise from the ashes of a defeated Germany? Only worshippers of the accomplished fact can think so. The Nazi authorities were forced to shoot or hang some 80,000 German soldiers for insubordination or desertion during the war. In 1942 the Militant published two letters which had been smuggled to an American friend by a socialist worker who had been drafted into the Wehrmacht.[58] This German soldier, a member of the League of Revolutionary Socialists, spent three weeks in Warsaw at the end of 1941. He records with horror the starvation, despair and utter hopelessness of the Ghetto masses. Managing despite all odds to make contact with some Jewish Bundists and Polish Socialists, when he returned to Berlin this young worker raised 500 marks from among those in his underground resistance group. The money was sent to the Polish Socialist Party, and to the Trotskyists and Bundists active in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The memoirs of André Calvès, one of the Trotskyists who helped build the cell in the German armed forces at Brest, are full of instances of German soldiers’ sympathy and material aid for acts of proletarian resistance. What of the German soldier at the Porte d’Orléans who handed over his pistol on demand with an “auf Wiedersehen Genossen” [see you later comrades]? What of the German soldiers and sailors in Brest, shot for their work with the Trotskyists in distributing Arbeiter im Westen?[59] The putrid and venal nationalism of the mass bourgeois and Stalinist Resistance forces—“A chacun son boche”[60] —made both fraternization and the task of organizing inchoate opposition within the German armed forces much more difficult than they had to be.

In the face of the overwhelming repressive fources unleashed against the proletariat (and these included the national bourgeois forces of “law and order” and the Stalinists as well as the invading imperialist armies), the Trotskyist cadre, for all their youth, inexperience and episodic disorientation, continued to be animated by the spirit and program of revolutionary internationalism. The reconstitution of a European Secretariat in early 1942 was a tremendous accomplishment. The 1945 Saigon uprising led by the Vietnamese Trotskyists; the publication of Arbeiter und Soldat; the cell built in the German armed forces at Brest; the publication of the Trotskyist newspaper Czorwony Sztandard in the Warsaw Ghetto; the work of the CRM and CCI in Germany; the participation of the Indian Trotskyists in the “Quit India” movement; the American Trotskyists who sailed on the Murmansk run; the involvement of Trotskyists (including British and American soldiers) in the revolutionary wave which swept Italy in 1943; and the participation of both the WIL and the SWP in strikes and other trade-union struggles which objectively cut across the imperialist war effort: all of these are ample testimony to the courage and even audacity of the small Fourth Internationalist forces in the face of almost incalculable odds.[61]

During the war and its immediate aftermath the ranks of the Fourth International were decimated by savage imperialist repression—and Stalinist assassination. Many of the sections were virtually decapitated; some, like the Vietnamese, destroyed altogether. It is almost impossible in hindsight to appreciate the magnitude of the losses. Rodolphe Prager lists names of those known to have fallen—over one hundred—and there were many more.[62] Of these, almost half were murdered in Greece, especially by the Stalinists in the civil war of 1945. But it wasn’t only Greece. The Nazis eliminated the leadership of the French and Belgian parties. They also executed almost the entire Central Committee of Henk Sneevliet’s Dutch Marx-Lenin-Luxemburg Front. Of those Trotskyists who did survive the war, many returned from the hell of Ravensbrück, Buchenwald, Auschwitz. The years preceding the war had seen the leadership of the International thinned by a wave of Stalinist assassination (Leon Sedov, Erwin Wolf, Rudolf Klement, Trotsky himself). By 1945 few of the leaders of 1939 survived. Abram Leon, Léon Lesoil, Marcel Hic, Ta Thu Tau, Chen Chi-chang, Walter Held, Pietro Tresso (Blasco)—all were gone.

The losses in Europe and Asia underline a critical failure on the part of the SWP leadership—they were unable to take on the leading role in the International, a responsibility that was posed for the SWP after Trotsky’s death. The SWP was the one section which had been founded by cadre who came over as part of a faction from the Communist International; the section which had been strengthened most by close collaboration with Trotsky; the section which, because it was situated on the North American continent, had the most material resources, a large maritime fraction and thus some limited ability to move around the globe during the war. Yet they did not see themselves as responsible and barely kept up the pretense of maintaining a functioning International Secretariat in New York. They did not even attempt to set up an outpost in a neutral European country. No doubt the utter disaster of Cannon’s 1939 trip to France, made at Trotsky’s urging in an attempt to resolve the fracturing of the French section around the question of entry into the PSOP, played a role here.[63] In addition, the defection of the Shachtman and Abern faction was keenly felt in the SWP. But they should have tried.

Opponents of the “Proletarian Military Policy”
The British and American Trotskyists emerged from the war relatively intact. The Stalinists had relentlessly condemned the Trotskyists for their defeatism, while both the British and American bourgeoisies had prosecuted Trotskyists for their opposition to the war. Yet the experience with the P.M.P. hardly steeled the SWP and RCP for what lay ahead—its sole redeeming quality was that it didn’t work. Its utopian character meant that it was not likely to be implemented, and in any case it had ceased to be the centerpiece of propaganda on the war by the end of 1943. The British and American Trotskyists continued to pursue the class struggle, and to view themselves as antiwar and anti-imperialist.

The documents presented to the March 1944 founding conference of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), reprinted in this bulletin, reflect the lack of applicability of the P.M.P. in the political climate created by certain German defeat. The resolution presented jointly by the WIL and the Trotskyist Opposition of the RSL, which was adopted as the position of the RCP, presents a very mild version of the P.M.P. Point 7 of this resolution, which attempts to detail the “progressive motives” of the defensism of the masses, does, however, reveal the central problem with the policy. The resolution of the Militant Group of the former RSL is correct as far as it goes, but perfunctory and formal.

The resolution of the RSL’s Left Faction gives the issue the attention it deserves, making some very cogent arguments for revolutionary defeatism. But the Left Faction errs in equating defeatism with a “neutral” attitude toward the “enemy” imperialist camp in war. Revolutionaries are defeatists toward all the imperialist combatants. Moreover, the Left Faction reveals a fatuous ultraleftism in opposing democratic demands during wartime (including the demand for air-raid shelters!). Demands to extend to the masses the provisioning and protection privileges enjoyed by army officers can be quite powerful in wartime. Moreover, if won, these measures represent a serious drain on the imperialist war effort. The February Revolution in Russia began as a strike by women textile workers in Petrograd demanding bread.

Max Shachtman’s polemics against the P.M.P., also reprinted here, do not suffer from the excesses of those of the Left Faction. Shachtman had recoiled in horror at the Hitler-Stalin pact, which precipitated WWII, and his Workers Party remained highly attuned to the views and moods of the large Depression-bred intellectual milieu typified by the Partisan Review. Shachtman seized on the patent revisionism of the P.M.P. to score some correct points against his bitter factional opponent Cannon, whom he attempted to portray as some kind of simpleton in “theoretical” matters. It was extremely convenient for Shachtman to brush aside Trotsky’s role in the elaboration of the P.M.P.: Cannon was a far more useful foil than the newly martyred Trotsky. It should be noted, however, that at the time Shachtman had available to him almost all of Trotsky’s writings on the subject—they had been published in the October 1940 Fourth International. By 1950 Shachtman had developed his own, anti-Soviet, version of a “proletarian military policy.”[64]

The document of Comrade C. adds a new dimension to the discussion of the P.M.P.—he observes that “trade-union control of national defense” under bourgeois rule could only be instituted in a fascist or corporatist sense. The acuity of Comrade C.’s observation (no doubt the result of first-hand experience of the Nazi jackboot) is borne out by the fact that the only trade-union federation which adopted the program of the P.M.P. during the war was the Confederation of Mexican Workers—the corporatist creature of the ruling party of the Mexican bourgeoisie (today’s Institutional Revolutionary Party).[65] Aside from the too acrimonious debate on the question of whether the SWP’s resolution should have been printed, both Comrade C.’s letter and the reply of the leading committee are admirable statements, especially given the context in which they were written.

There were other opponents of the “Proletarian Military Policy.” The Indian BLPI evidently published a polemic on the question in 1944.[66] And according to Rodolphe Prager the Belgian section, initially at least, refused to include the passage containing the demand for “trade-union control of military training” when they published Trotsky’s May 1940 Manifesto. Unfortunately, many of the issues in dispute during the war, including the “Proletarian Military Policy,” were never fought out to a real conclusion. While the European Secretariat published an informational bulletin on the P.M.P. in April 1945 and invited discussion on the subject, this never materialized.[67] Jacques Privas attempted to reopen the question at the Second World Congress in 1948 but both the British and American sections evidently opposed this, and Privas’ motion referring the question to the incoming International Executive Committee narrowly failed. We can only agree with Prager when he regrets that the issue was never resolved.[68] In hindsight it is clear that the uncorrected departure from Leninist principle over the P.M.P. facilitated the acceptance of the revisionist campaign of the International Secretariat leadership around Michel Pablo a few years later. Pablo deprecated the role of revolutionary Marxist program and organization, initially in the light of the consolidation of the Russian seizure of Eastern Europe, and he advocated the entry of the small Trotskyist nuclei into the Stalinist parties. This led to a split in the Trotskyist forces, the destruction of the Fourth International, and the subsequent shift of most of the elements involved onto the political terrain previously inhabited by the pre-war London Bureau.[69]

Trotsky vs. the SWP
That Trotsky’s motivations in putting forward the P.M.P. did not fully coincide with those of the SWP in adopting it, is clear from the series of discussions he held with SWP leaders in June 1940.[70] In these discussions Trotsky advocated that the SWP give critical support to the presidential campaign of American Communist Party (CP) leader Earl Browder. Trotsky raised this proposal because the CP, as a result of the Hitler-Stalin pact, had temporarily dropped its popular-frontism in favor of exposing the imperialist war aims of the American bourgeoisie. The SWP refused to critically support Browder, and in the discussions Trotsky put his finger on the reason why: the SWP feared to break its bloc with the virulently anti-Communist pro-Roosevelt forces in the American trade unions. This observation by Trotsky lends weight to the view that the SWP’s fulsome adoption of the P.M.P. stemmed in part from opportunist appetites. One can see a similar opportunist thread in the workerist trade unionism of the WIL. In all fairness to Trotsky, it must be pointed out that he was murdered before the P.M.P. was fully elaborated by the SWP.

Daniel Guérin has suggested that Trotsky’s intransigent Soviet defensism played a role in the genesis of the “Proletarian Military Policy.”[71] Certainly no one reading Trotsky’s writings over his last year can doubt that he saw catastrophe approaching as the disastrous effects of Stalin’s beheading of the Red Army became apparent in the wake of the Hitler-Stalin pact. Guérin certainly writes well on the startling prescience of Trotsky’s predictions as to the course of the war. But Guérin is wrong to posit the existence of “two” Trotskys, one a proletarian revolutionist and the other a Soviet official. Trotsky had since 1917 maintained both elements as integral to his revolutionary proletarian worldview. Yet Guérin is not completely wrong. In a letter to the New York Times on 1 October 1939, Trotsky, arguing that only U.S. entry into the war on the Allied side would break Stalin from his pact with Hitler, did implicitly suggest this course to the U.S. bourgeoisie.[72] While Trotsky’s letter was in no way a programmatic statement of the Fourth International, it indicates that the extreme danger posed by the war to the homeland of the October Revolution loomed very large in his mind. This must have played a role as Trotsky elaborated the P.M.P.

Broué Picks Up the Gun
In his Cahiers Léon Trotsky article, Pierre Broué guts the P.M.P. of its programmatic content, and he is willfully blind to its Anglo-American bias. For Broué Trotsky’s last writings on universal imperialist militarism are simply a sort of call to “pick up the gun,” and he argues that the Trotskyists should have entered “a mass movement based on national and social resistance” to fascism—that is, the various Partisan movements in Europe.[73] He sees the failure of the Trotskyists to enter such formations as central, implying that this determined their lack of success in leading a proletarian revolution in any country at the end of the war.

But Broué avoids a crucial question—the class independence of the proletarian fighting forces. Although the Partisan movements in France, Italy and Greece followed very different trajectories, where the leadership was not simply bourgeois nationalist it was Stalinist, and the Stalinists had subordinated their forces to the military and political alliance with the “democratic” imperialists. Participation by the small Trotskyist nuclei in nationalist bourgeois or Stalinist military formations in a subordinated or assimilated role would have meant abandoning a class position, crossing the line to class collaborationism. Moreover, it would have tended to cut across the necessary strategy of subverting the Axis armies through revolutionary fraternization.

Without securing sufficient weight for the class-conscious fraction as would allow the right of veto over the activities of the Partisan group or withdrawal from it, such involvement could only be, and was, a noose around the necks of the revolutionary workers, to be drawn tight sooner rather than later. Many of the Trotskyists who did enter or attempt to work in such formations were simply slaughtered by the Stalinists. This was true particularly in Greece, which Broué upholds as his main example. Only in Yugoslavia did a Partisan struggle against the German occupation forces end in a successful overturn of capitalist property relations, the first of a series of postwar social overturns led by peasant-based guerrilla formations. But what resulted was a workers state deformed from its inception by a bureaucratic regime qualitatively similar to that in the Soviet Union. In West Europe the Partisan forces were made to hand the reins of power back to the bourgeoisie, while in most of Eastern Europe the Soviet Red Army filled the vacuum of state power left when the Nazis retreated.

The question that Trotskyist strategy had to address was: who would prevail upon the collapse of the Axis occupation—the forces of the revolutionary proletariat, or those of the Allied imperialists? The Stalinist forces were still perceived by the masses as the proletarian vanguard formation (the exceptions being Vietnam, Ceylon and Bolivia, countries where the proletariat came to class consciousness after the Comintern adopted an explicit policy of collaboration with the “democratic” colonial powers). The prestige of the Communist Parties had only been enhanced by the military victories of the Soviet army, and the Stalinists used this prestige to tie the masses to the forces of bourgeois nationalist “law and order,” building illusions in “liberation” by the Allied armies.

There was a great disproportion between the end and the means: concluding the war through victorious proletarian revolution versus the scattered scores and hundreds that were the Fourth International. During the war the Trotskyist forces were for the most part too small to have anything but a propagandistic orientation to the layers of advanced workers, most of whom followed Stalinist leadership. In hindsight and from afar, we cannot presume to determine exactly what else they might have done, but the policy of the tiny Dutch CRM seems admirable. The CRM opposed political assassination and other individual acts of terror against the Nazi occupying authorities—these acts had no military impact and simply brought down increased German repression on the general population (dealing with proven informers for the Germans was of course another matter). The CRM advocated economic sabotage in the form of working slowly, and strikes and other forms of mass proletarian action where feasible. Defense of the Soviet Union was an important part of their calculations:

Since 90 per cent of the German army has been thrown against the Soviet army, the workers (German and foreign) have the duty deliberately to weaken German war production, by means of so-called “economic sabotage” in the weapons and munitions factories and in the transports to the Russian front.[74]

The CRM produced some 44 issues of De Rode October from their formation in 1942 until the end of the war. They also produced an internal discussion bulletin. While the CRM had a very small membership—between 50 and 75 by 1945—the biweekly De Rode October had a circulation of some 2,500 in 1943, and at the end of the occupation their cadre emerged virtually intact.[75]

The small Trotskyist forces had to await the opportunities provided by mass proletarian struggle. Such struggle did occur, even under Nazi occupation. A massive strike wave greeted the attempt to impose the forced labor program in Greece in December 1942, and the Nazis had to give way to it. The insurrectionary state of mind of the Greek masses was also reflected in the April 1944 mutiny against the Metaxas-supporting officers of the Greek armed forces in Egypt. In Italy there was an uprising against the German occupying forces in Naples in 1944, and insurrections in several cities in the north after the Allied landing. In Genoa the Germans actually surrendered to the Partisan forces. In the Netherlands there were three major strikes against the German occupation forces: in 1941 a strike in Amsterdam and other northern towns protested the first arrests and deportations of Jews; a two-day general strike in April 1943 protested the sending of Dutch prisoners of war to Germany for forced labor; and in September 1944 there was a national railway strike, called by the bourgeois Resistance in support of the Allied invasion.

The CRM expected that revolutionary resistance would erupt first in the Balkans and Italy—the weakest links in the Axis empire. They were right in their projection, but, as they had also noted, a revolutionary breakthrough in southeastern Europe would probably “bleed to death” unless the German proletariat came to its assistance. As early as February 1943 De Rode October put its finger on the main factor working against such a revolutionary upsurge in Europe—the projected Allied invasion.[76] The much-heralded Allied “second front” would only be established when the Soviet Red Army had militarily weakened the Wehrmacht, i.e., at the point when a revolutionary development within Germany was most likely. De Rode October warned that it was a race against the clock between a German revolution and Allied-led counterrevolution. If revolution had broken out in Europe, including Germany, prior to the Allied landings, the imperialist armies would have been subject to the disintegrating effects of a major political upheaval, while at the same time the High Command would have made every effort to smash the revolution. As it was, however, the Allied imperialists invaded first. Events after the July 1943 landing in Italy confirmed the CRM in its prognosis—the Allied armies provided the indispensable military might under cover of which the Italian bourgeoisie, with the aid of the Communist Party, was able to disarm the insurrectionary proletariat.

While the CRM hailed the advances of the Red Army, they also repeatedly condemned the nationalism of Stalin, who planned with Churchill and Roosevelt the partition of Europe into spheres of influence. They saw that the division of Europe between Stalin and the Allies would work against a revolutionary revival of the German workers movement at the war’s end. While the CRM saw in Stalin’s May 1943 dissolution of the Communist International an attempt to guarantee to the Allies that the Red Army would not stand in the way of a capitalist postwar Europe, they also believed it unlikely that Soviet soldiers could be made to turn their guns on an insurgent German proletariat. Thus they thought that the chances of a successful German revolution would be better if the Red Army entered Germany before the Allies.[77]

The Shape of the Postwar World
The British and American imperialists were able to enter Europe as “liberators” because they had not been forced to resort to much overt and felt military dictatorship during the war. They never had to deal with a recalcitrant domestic population; the morale of their armies remained high, and this played no small role in their victory. The internment of the Japanese Americans, the brutal British repression of the “Quit India” movement, the even more destructive Bengal famine which the British created following the repression—these acts paled beside the genocidal horror of the Holocaust, revealed to the world first as the Red Army advanced into Poland, and especially as the Allied armies advanced into Germany. When the Allied imperialists landed in Italy, the American atom-bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was still two years away. Yet even this atrocity, while it represented a giant leap in the murderous art of killing large populations, is on a qualitatively different plane from the Holocaust—the selective killing of a predesignated people organized on a factory basis.

But if the British and American bourgeoisies had succeeded in hiding their imperialist war aims behind a “democratic” and “anti-fascist” lie, this was also thanks to Stalin. Political support of the Communist Parties for the Allied imperialist war effort after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941 had helped the imperialists maintain their lies. And if the war remained overwhelmingly popular in the metropolitan centers on the Allied side, it is also necessary to note that the sordid nationalist banner under which the Stalinist-led Partisans conducted the Resistance struggle did nothing to further revolt among the population of the Axis powers. There was no organized mass opposition in Germany, and the Japanese masses seemed to remain loyal to the state to the end.

Nonetheless, it was the Soviet Red Army which broke the back of Hitler’s war machine, though the British and American ruling classes now try to pretend otherwise. Churchill and Roosevelt had to share the world with Stalin, and the military relationship of forces was codified in the agreements made at Yalta and Potsdam. The Russians had lost 20 million dead and probably a quarter of their industrial capacity, while the North American continent remained unscathed by the war. As the founding conference of the Fourth International had foreseen, the United States emerged as the predominant power, economically and militarily. The U.S. bourgeoisie was able to dole out the rations it chose to the bourgeoisies of Europe, while granting the British the “special relationship” of junior partner.

Much has been made of the supposed “catastrophism” of Trotsky’s prognosis that a revolutionary wave would follow the end of WWII. But as Trotsky himself noted:

Every historical prognosis is always conditional, and the more concrete the prognosis, the more conditional it is. A prognosis is not a promissory note which can be cashed on a given date. Prognosis outlines only the definite trends of the development. But along with these trends a different order of forces and tendencies operate, which at a certain moment begin to predominate.[78]

Revolution is ever a desperate solution to a desperate situation, and should the situation diminish, the possibility of a revolutionary solution vanishes. If proletarian revolutions failed to materialize at the end of the war it was because of the extreme weakness of the Trotskyist forces, the class treason of the Stalinists, and the fact that the imperialist bourgeoisies had also learned some lessons from WWI: the victorious imperialist governments did not leave their defeated class “brothers” with weak and ineffectual governments. The Allied occupations of Germany and Japan, and furthermore the partition of Germany, were designed to prevent the outbreak of any social struggle threatening bourgeois rule. When a massive wave of strikes and factory occupations broke out in Japan in 1946, it was crushed by the combined forces of the Japanese government and the Allied Supreme Command. In early 1947 there were massive demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of workers in the Ruhr, the industrial heartland of Germany. The workers demanded the expropriation without compensation of the mining, steel and chemical industries and popular control over food distribution, which was in the hands of the Allied occupation forces. When the Ruhr strikes spread, the French, British and American commands outlawed all strikes and protests, under threat of the death penalty.[79]

In Italy and France the bourgeoisie succeeded in restabilizing its class rule only with the aid of the Stalinists who entered the postwar governments, literally disarming the war-weary and revolutionary-minded masses. In Greece the British army smashed an incipient social revolution.

In South Asia in the early years of the war the armies of the French, British, Americans and Dutch had been shattered by the Japanese. The Asian subjects of the European colonial powers had generally welcomed the Japanese victories (Sukarno collaborated with the Japanese in Indonesia, while Bose’s Indian National Army actually fought alongside the Japanese), but occupation generally put an end to any illusions about the beneficence of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. In the British and French colonies of the Middle East the hatred of the masses for their imperialist exploiters was such that there was massive and demonstrative pro-Axis sentiment—the Allies maintained a hold over their possessions only with bloody repression. As the war ended, national independence struggles spread throughout the colonial world.

At this juncture the Anglo-American imperialists were denied the opportunity to fully implement their victory over the Axis powers by repossessing their colonies: a massive “troops home” movement swept their armies at the end of the war. The Trotskyists, few as they were, participated in this movement. When the troops impatiently demanded an early and rapid demobilization, the imperialists were unable to justify continued militarization on “anti-fascist” grounds—they had to give way to the desire of the troops to go home. American troops withdrew from China in 1947, with the civil war still raging there. The British were forced to give way to demands for Indian independence, and also had to withdraw their armies from the Near East. The Dutch attempt to reconquer Indonesia failed, and they were forced to recognize an independent republic in 1949.

The leadership of the Soviet degenerated workers state did not inspire the struggles of the oppressed masses against colonial rule at the end of the Second World War. Stalin feared the colonial uprisings almost as much as the imperialists did—he saw no reason to upset the postwar division of the world agreed to at Yalta. The imperialist Allies were welcomed back to Vietnam by the Stalinists. The Viet Minh worked hand in hand with the British and French to suppress the Trotskyist-led Saigon uprising in August 1945, and it was the Viet Minh who were responsible for arresting and executing the Trotskyist leaders. (Little more than a year later the Viet Minh found themselves under attack by the French imperialists, who bombed Haiphong in November 1946, thus initiating a campaign of escalating provocation which led directly to a relentless thirty years of war.) French CP leader Maurice Thorez was a vice president in the postwar De Gaulle cabinet which savagely suppressed a nationalist uprising in Algeria in 1945, bombing villages and killing tens of thousands. But Stalin’s attempt to conciliate the Allies by betraying other peoples’ revolutions did not prevent the imperialists from turning on him. The capitalists had never given up their desire to reconquer the one-sixth of the globe ripped away from the capitalist world market by the October Revolution. And they could not fail to see in the military and industrial might of the USSR the ultimate source of all threats to their class rule.

Churchill, ousted from the British government by the massive Labour victory in the June 1945 election, had inaugurated the Cold War with his famous “iron curtain” speech in March 1946. But public opinion could not be changed, nor weaponry and renewed armies created, overnight. Meanwhile the imperialists made much of Stalin’s refusal to integrate the economy of the Soviet occupied zone with that of the rest of Germany. In 1947 the United States both inaugurated the Marshall Plan and sent military aid and advisers to Greece and Turkey under the “Truman Doctrine.” There was a not-so-implicit military threat behind these moves (the Red Army still stood on the borders of both countries) and this was concretized by the coming together of the NATO alliance. So Stalin decided to liquidate capitalism in most of Eastern Europe, creating a cordon sanitaire between the USSR and the imperialist armies and establishing a series of states qualitatively similar to that of the Soviet Union. The “Free World’s” loss of East Europe sent the imperialists into a frenzy. Then, in 1949, the Chinese Kuomintang collapsed in front of Mao Tse-tung’s peasant-based army. The Americans had fought and defeated Japan for the right to exploit China—now they found themselves unable to intervene to stop the Chinese Revolution. This determined Washington on a course of military confrontation and by 1950 it was possible to fight over Korea.

Military conflicts since WWII have largely been expressions of American imperialism’s overriding hostility to the Soviet degenerated workers state, and especially of imperialism’s hostility toward new overturns of capitalist property relations. The imperialist-backed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs failed to throw back the Cuban Revolution, and since 1961 massive Soviet economic and military assistance has helped the Cuban deformed workers state maintain itself, 90 miles offshore, a constant thorn in the side of the U.S. imperialist colossus. But above all it is the thirty-year war of imperialist aggression against the Vietnamese Revolution, protracted by Stalinist capitulation at the Geneva negotiating table in 1954, which epitomizes imperialism’s desperate attempts to maintain its bloody grip on the world. The world proletariat owes a debt of gratitude to the heroic Vietnamese workers and peasants who inflicted a humiliating defeat upon the United States, a blow from which U.S. imperialism has yet to recover. The “Vietnam syndrome” prevented the U.S. from unleashing the full force of its military machine against the Sandinista insurrection in 1979, though the U.S. has since kept up a relentless and devastating campaign of military and economic pressure on the unstable petty-bourgeois government of Nicaragua.

Most of the struggles against colonial rule in the postwar period have been led by petty-bourgeois nationalist forces who have sought to maintain capitalist property relations, cutting a deal with the imperialists (the Algerian FLN, the liberation movements in the former Portuguese African colonies). Marxists have militarily supported the independence forces in these struggles, while fighting for revolutionary proletarian organization and leadership. Since Marxists have been defensist on the side of the anti-imperialist forces, no one claiming the mantle of Trotskyism has seriously suggested the application of the “Proletarian Military Policy” on the imperialist side.

Confronting WWIII
Today the threat of world war brings with it the spectre of thermonuclear holocaust. The best scientific minds can only speculate as to what might result if even only a small fraction—several hundred to a thousand—of the nuclear warheads in current arsenals were detonated over urban areas. The destruction wrought by two small fission bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would pale in comparison to that caused by several modern higher-yield fusion weapons.

Those humans who might survive the immediate blast and its aftermath would be faced with lethal levels of radioactivity spreading far beyond the targeted cities. In addition to the fallout spread globally by prevailing winds, firestorms would throw great clouds of dust and ash into the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight and leading to a “nuclear winter.” A similar climatic catastrophe caused by meteor impact is thought to have led to mass extinctions 65 million years ago. The effects could conceivably range from the partial destruction of human civilization, to the total reduction of humanity to a qualitatively lower level of social organization, up to the extinction of higher mammalian life on the planet. What is clear is that some truly awful catastrophe is impending. Given the increasing probability that the outbreak of a major war would mean uncontrolled, vastly expanding nuclear exchanges, one ought to look grimly at the greater causes and greater consequences. But even the least is a catastrophe.

However, that doesn’t mean they won’t push the button. World imperialism has already brought human civilization to the brink of the abyss with two world wars. A rational human being would not consciously embark on a course leading to nuclear world war. But capitalism long ago created economic forces which strain against the boundaries of the nation-states in which they are fettered: world imperialism isn’t rational, and neither are the men who rule over us in its interest. As Trotsky wrote in “War and the Fourth International”:

The fear of the consequences of a new war is the only factor that fetters the will of imperialism. But the efficacy of this brake is limited....All governments fear war. But none of the governments has any freedom of choice. Without a proletarian revolution, a new world war is inevitable.

While the irreconcilable hostility of U.S. imperialism to the Soviet Union is the main factor now posing the threat of WWIII before humanity, one cannot ignore interimperialist contradictions. The strength of Japanese industry and world trade cannot be suppressed peacefully. And there is evidence that German imperialism is ready for renewed imperialist adventure.

The threat of nuclear war is real and immediate. We don’t have a lot of time left before an imperialist government (or one of its desperate and embattled junior partners) triggers a world cataclysm.

The world bourgeoisie has at its disposal enormous political experience and economic reserves. If the history of the 20th century proves anything it is this: within the social context there is no situation in which the bourgeoisie cannot prevail, if there does not exist a revolutionary party capable of wresting power from its hands. Revolutionary proletarian parties are not built overnight: it took two generations of ferment in the Russian intelligentsia, the dress rehearsal of 1905, and years of patient underground work among the proletarians of the tsarist empire to produce Lenin’s Bolsheviks. But if the small forces which adhere today to the revolutionary program of Lenin and Trotsky do not succeed in forging themselves into parties with the experience, will and authority among the masses to lead a successful proletarian revolution in the imperialist countries, there will be no future for humanity.

A revolutionary internationalist leadership of the USSR would greatly facilitate working-class revolution in the advanced capitalist countries. But it will take a political revolution, in which the working masses of the Soviet Union oust the bureaucratic caste which usurped power in 1924 and take power back into their hands, to return the Kremlin to the road of Lenin and Trotsky. A successful political revolution in the Soviet Union also requires the forging of a new Bolshevik party, based on the program of the early Communist International.

The Soviet bureaucrats do not believe in the possibility of proletarian revolution against imperialism, and they view those who fight for it as virtual provocateurs intent on destroying “peaceful coexistence.” The current Gorbachev policy of abject capitulation to imperialist military pressure in Afghanistan, Indochina and Angola can only embolden the capitalists who seek to “roll back” Communism all the way to the homeland of the October Revolution. Gorbachev and his predecessors have always been able to exploit the deeply felt fear of war and desire for peace of the Soviet population. But Gorbachev’s “new thinking” ignores the fact that American military planners continue to dream up scenarios for WWIII—from total annihilation by ICBMs to “limited” nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union in the Central European plain. Only the eradication of capitalist imperialism from the globe will eliminate the threat of nuclear holocaust for good.

The U.S. imperialist state has in its cross hairs the industrial and military powerhouse of the Soviet degenerated workers state. According to the Brookings Institution, the U.S. threatened in earnest to use nuclear weapons 19 times between 1949 and 1975. It was, after all, the U.S. imperialists who first developed and used nuclear weapons on the hapless civilian population of an already defeated Japan. Since WWII, the American government has always pursued a first-strike strategy, from “quick reaction” bombers in the 1950s, to later silo- and submarine-based ICBMs. A single nuclear sub carries enough weaponry to destroy every large and medium-sized Soviet city; half of the fleet with thousands of warheads is at sea at all times. Not content with this, the imperialists are pushing for space-based weapons. Reagan’s “Star Wars” project is but the latest U.S. attempt to gain a technological edge over the Soviet Union—one with no realistic defensive use, but a system of potential value in conjunction with a first strike.

Faced with the incessant U.S. escalation in the nuclear arms race, the Soviets have been forced to keep pace. American bourgeois rationalists such as George F. Kennan and Theodore Draper have observed that this nuclear numbers game has long since become pointless: a modest force (e.g., several hundred warheads) would be sufficient to destroy the USSR as a functioning society and the thousands of bombs currently in place offer no additional deterrence.[80] True, but it is utopian for Draper and Kennan to address their advice to an irrational ruling class whose avowed policy is to “prevail” in protracted nuclear war. A variant of the rationalists’ ideas, however, could serve as a policy model for a rational Soviet government: (1) no first strike; and (2) a matching response to any nuclear attack, kiloton for kiloton, at least as long as Soviet command and control remained in existence to do so. This policy would apply equally against the so-called “independent” British and French forces (both of which will have 500 submarine-based warheads by the mid-1990s) and doubtless against Israel or any other co-participant in an American nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union.

Such a Soviet defensive missile posture (coupled with sufficient upgrading of the weaponry) would have enough teeth to give the imperialists reason to pause before an all-out attack—it means defense not capitulation. This kind of rational policy might just stimulate some dissension even within the U.S. military establishment against Washington’s headlong rush to Armageddon, not to mention generating dissent among the population at large.

In the absence of a successful proletarian revolution, it is certain that Washington will, at some point in the future, prepare to launch its nuclear missiles, no doubt claiming as pretext some supposedly deadly Soviet provocation. If faced with domestic social struggle, the American ruling class could attempt to deflect discontent toward an external Soviet “enemy.” This could well backfire: during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, imminent nuclear war was met not with flag-waving patriotism, but with profound despair. Masses of Americans rightly questioned the sanity of their rulers, but in the absence of a workers party to focus the fear and anger into a fight against the bourgeoisie, the result was inchoate individualized apathy and defeat.

After the subsequent 25 years of dirty wars and government deceit, a direct step now toward nuclear war could also engender massive domestic opposition. Obviously, revolutionaries cannot project a sudden spontaneous “general strike against the war” (the slogan of some wishful pacifist thinkers in the Second International before WWI). As Trotsky wrote in 1935, “a general strike can be put on the agenda as a method of struggle against mobilization and war only in the event that the entire preceding developments in the country have placed revolution and armed insurrection on the agenda.”[81] The mass-based revolutionary party necessary to bring the latter situation about has yet to be built. But revolutionaries should prepare for a conjuncture in which ruling-class war preparations are met by massive class struggle.

At the first serious moves toward war, pacifist demagogues will switch to “national defense.” On the eve of WWII Trotsky stated, “In peacetime, the imperialist ‘pacifists’ are not sparing of magnanimous phrases; but in the event of a conflict, they will take their stand on the side of their government....”[82] While the “nuclear freeze” crowd comes “in from the cold,” war preparations will undoubtedly engender genuine pacifistic sentiments among the broader masses. In 1915, Lenin noted that “the temper of the masses in favour of peace often expresses the beginning of protest, anger and a realisation of the reactionary nature of the war.”[83] Communists have to participate in resulting movements and demonstrations, not to deceive the people with abstract pacifist twaddle, but to orient popular opposition toward the overthrow of bourgeois class rule.

If, despite our efforts, the bourgeoisie clings to power and confronts us with a situation of incipient WWIII, proletarian revolutionaries can have only one policy—defeatism toward their own capitalist governments. Massive and immediate opposition to the war would inevitably spread from the civilian population into the armed forces. If the ruling class believed that a significant portion of military personnel might refuse to launch, the bourgeois state would be compelled to hesitate and turn to massive repression in an attempt to ensure the reliability of its military machine. Civil war would ensue. In this conjuncture, revolutionaries would fight to bring about the scenario outlined by Trotsky:

If a large-scale revolutionary movement is developing in a country, if at its head is a revolutionary party possessing the confidence of the masses and capable of going through to the end; if the government, losing its head, despite the revolutionary crisis, or just because of such a crisis, plunges headlong into a war adventure—then the mobilization can act as a mighty impetus for the masses, lead to a general strike of railwaymen, fraternization between the mobilized and the workers, seizure of important key centers, clashes between insurrectionists and the police and the reactionary sections of the army, the establishment of local workers’ and soldiers’ councils, and finally the complete overthrow of the government, and consequently, to stopping the war.[84]

Such a revolutionary struggle, based on intransigent proletarian internationalism, would give a powerful impetus to, and in turn be aided by, a political revolution to throw out the nationalist bureaucrats in the Kremlin.

Confronting World War III, revolutionary defeatism and the military defense of the Soviet Union remain the policy of the international proletariat.

International Executive Committee of the
international Spartacist tendency
February 1989


1 Pierre Broué, “Trotsky et les Trotskystes face à la deuxième guerre mondiale,” Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no. 23 (September 1985), 35-60. Back

2 Sam Levy, “The Proletarian Military Policy Revisited,” Revolutionary History, vol. I, no. 3 (Autumn 1988), 8-18. Back

3 This work appears in Leon Trotsky’s The Challenge of the Left Opposition (1923-25) (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1975), 199-258. Back

4 Writings of Leon Trotsky (1933-34) (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972), 306-307. The entire manifesto, quoted extensively below, appears on pages 299-329. Back

5 “Once Again: The USSR and Its Defense,” 4 November 1937, Writings of Leon Trotsky (1937-38), 2nd ed. (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1976), 43. Back

6 “Learn to Think,” 22 May 1938, ibid., 333. Back

7 “A Step Toward Social Patriotism,” 7 March 1939, Writings of Leon Trotsky (1938-39), 2nd ed. (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1974), 211-212. Back

8 “Stalin’s Capitulation,” 11 March 1939, ibid., 216-219. Back

9 “Manifesto of the Fourth International on the Imperialist War and the Proletarian World. Revolution,” Writings of Leon Trotsky (1939-40), 2nd ed. (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1973), 183-222.Back

10 See “On the Question of Workers’ Self-Defense,” ibid., 99-105. This article was written on 25 October 1939 but not published by Trotsky in his lifetime. Back

11 “Discussions with Trotsky,” 12-15 June 1940, ibid., 251-289. Only the discussion of 12 June deals directly with the P.M.P. Back

12 See “We Do Not Change Our Course” (30 June 1940), “Letter on Conscription” (9 July 1940), “American Problems” (7 August 1940), “How to Defend Ourselves” (12 August 1940), “How to Really Defend Democracy” (13 August 1940), “Another Thought on Conscription” (17 August 1940), ibid., 296-299, 321-322, 331-342, 343, 344-345, 392. Back

13 The fragments of this uncompleted article are published as “Bonapartism, Fascism, and War,” ibid., 410-418. Back

14 See SWP, “Resolution on Proletarian Military Policy.”Back

15 See Max Shachtman, “Fascism and the World War.” Back

Cannon mentions this Los Angeles opposition in a letter to Farrell Dobbs written in February 1942. See The Socialist Workers Party in World War II (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1975), 217. Back

17 For this account of the dispute among the British Trotskyists we have relied on Sam Bornstein and Al Richardson, The War and the International (London: Socialist Platform, 1986). See especially pages 12-17. Back

18 See WIL and TO, “Resolution on Military Policy,” “On National Defence,” and “Attitude of the Proletariat Towards Imperialist War.”Back

19 See “A Propos of ‘Trade-Union Control of National Defense’,” by Comrade C., and “The Committee’s Reply to Comrade C.”Back

20 “Bonapartism, Fascism, and War,” op. cit., 413.Back

21 “Summary Speech on Military Policy,” The Socialist Workers Party in World War II, 98. Cannon’s main political report to the Plenum-Conference which adopted the P.M.P. is printed in the same volume, titled “Military Policy of the Proletariat,” 66-83.Back

22 Op. cit., 411-412. Back

23 V.I. Lenin, “The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution,” Collected Works, 4th ed. (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1960-1970), vol. 24, 21-22. Back

24 Cited in Brian Pearce, “Lenin and Trotsky on Pacifism and Defeatism,” first printed in the British Labour Review, vol. 6, no. 1 (Spring 1961), and reprinted in the pamphlet What Is Revolutionary Leadership? (New York: Spartacist Publishing Co., 1970). Pearce relies heavily on Hal Draper, “The Myth of Lenin’s ‘Revolutionary Defeatism’,” an article serialized in the New International, nos. 161-163 (Sept.-Oct., Nov.-Dec. 1953 and Jan.-Feb. 1954). Back

25 This account of the September events in Czechoslovakia is based on Karel Kostal, “Munich: l’envers du mythe,” Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no. 23 (September 1985), 23-34. Back
26 The Transitional Program for Socialist Revolution, 2nd ed. (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1974), 91. Back

27 “How to Really Defend Democracy,” op. cit., 344-345. Back

28 “Bonapartism and Fascism,” 15 July 1934, Writings of Leon Trotsky (1934-35), (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1971), 51-57. Back

29 Cited in Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany 1933-9 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 14. Back

30 Levy, op. cit., 8. Back

31 “Draft Programme of the Bolshevik-Leninist Party of India” (1942), reprinted by the Lanka Samasamaja Party (R), December 1970. Back

32 Cited in Bornstein and Richardson, op. cit., 55. Back

33 See “Fight Against War Goes On!,” Militant, 15 March 1941. Formulations similar to the one quoted appear in a few subsequent issues of the Militant. Back

34 James P. Cannon, Socialism on Trial, 5th ed. (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1973), 52. Grandizo Munis’ attack on Cannon’s trial testimony and Cannon’s reply are appended to this edition.

Workers Power’s tendentious history The Death Agony of the Fourth International (London, 1983, p. 20) echoes Munis’ criticisms. To serve their purposes Workers Power transmutes the reply by Cannon which we have quoted above to “That is unanswerable. We consider Hitler and Hitlerism the greatest enemy of mankind,” etc. Back

35 “Thesis on the World Role of American Imperialism,” Documents of the Fourth International (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1973), 247. Back

36 “The Twin-Stars: Hitler-Stalin,” 4 December 1939, Writings of Leon Trotsky (1939-40), 117. Back

37 “For Defense of the Soviet Union,” August 1941. Published in Fourth International, vol. II, no. 8, October 1941. Back

38 Joseph Berger, Nothing But the Truth (New York: The John Day Company, 1971), 203. Back

39 See “Discussions with Trotsky,” op. cit., 256. Back

40 “The Canadian Section and the War,” Documents of the Fourth International, 389. Back

41 George Orwell, “England Your England” (1941), Inside the Whale and Other Essays (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1962), 86. Back

42 See “A Step Towards Capitulation,” 21 March 1941, Internal Bulletin of the WIL. Back

43 Bornstein and Richardson, op. cit., 15. Back

44 Cited in Bornstein and Richardson, op. cit., 89. Back

45 Jean Rabaut, Tout est possible! Les “gauchistes” français 1929-1944 (Paris: Editions Denoel, 1974), 344. See also Jean-Pierre Cassard, Les trotskystes en France pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale (1939-1944) (La Vérité, n.d.), 65-66, and Yvan Craipeau, Contre vents et marées (Paris: Editions Savelli, 1977), 70-77. Rous took a few others with him, including Fred Zeller, who had been a leader of the Socialist Party youth recruited during the entry. Back

46 “Three Theses on the European Situation and the Political Tasks” by German Comrades, dated 19 October 1941, but not printed until September 1942 in International Bulletin, vol. II, no. 3, 6. Back

47 “We Do Not Change Our Course,” op. cit., 296-297. Back

48 See “Resolution on the French Section,” Documents of the Fourth International, 364. Back

49 Rodolphe Prager, ed., L’Internationale dans la guerre 1940-46, volume 2 of Les congrès de la Quatrième Internationale (Paris: Editions La Brèche, 1981), 98 (our translation). Back

50 Cassard,op. cit., 65, and Craipeau, op. cit., 76-82. Back

51 Cassard, op. cit., 65. Back

52 See Fritz Keller, “Le Trotskysme en Autriche, 1934 à 1945,” Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no. 5 (January-March 1980), 127. This is a translation of large sections of Keller’s book, Gegen den Strom: Fraktionskämpfe in der KPÖ—Trotzkisten und andere Gruppen, 1919-1945 (Vienna: Europa Verlag, 1978). Back

53 See “The War Question and Pabloites Revisionism” (1966) in Documents of the “Workers Vanguard” Greece (1979), 189-190. Back

54 See Craipeau, op. cit., 80. Back

55 Cassard, op. cit., 63-64, 69-72. Back

56 Ibid., 113-114. See also André Calvès, Sans bottes ni médailles (Montreuil: Editions La Brèche, 1984), 56. Back

57 See Wim Bot, “Generals Without Troops: Dutch Trotskyism during the Occupation,” to be published in the forthcoming Revolutionary History, vol. I, no. 4. Back

58 “Letter from a Worker in the German Underground,” Militant, 18 July 1942, and “A Worker’s Message from Poland and the Ghetto,” Militant, 1 August 1942. Soon after these letters appeared, the Militant gave prominent coverage to the first reports of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry. Back

59 Calvès, op. cit., 69, 72-78, 84. Back

60 Roughly translated, “Everybody get a Kraut”: infamous headline of the French Stalinist paper, l’Humanité. Back

61 See Pierre Vert, “Trotskyists in World War Two.” Back

62 Prager, op. cit., 459-473. Back

63 See Cannon’s report on the trip in Socialist Workers Party Internal Bulletin, no. 10 (June 1939), 12-24. Back

64 See “Proletarian Military Policy.” Back

65 Militant, 14 February 1942. Back

66 This polemic, titled “Britain at the Crossroads” (Permanent Revolution, January-March 1944), is cited in Part 1 of Charles Wesley Ervin, “A History of Trotskyism in India,” manuscript submitted for publication to Revolutionary History. Back

67 Bulletin du Secrétariat Européen de la IVe Internationale, no. 5: “Discussion sur la politique militaire du prolétariat” (April 1945). This bulletin includes some of Trotsky’s last writings on the subject, excerpts from Cannon’s September 1940 plenum speech, and a 1916 article by Lenin, “The ‘Disarmament’ Slogan.” Lenin’s article raises the demand for “voluntary military-training associations, with free election of instructors paid by the state.” Whatever one thinks of this demand, it is hardly relevant to the “Proletarian Military Policy” since the workers militia envisioned by Lenin was clearly not an auxiliary to the bourgeois army, but counterposed to it. Back

68 Prager, op. cit., 14. For the vote at the Second World Congress, held 2-21 April 1948, see the minutes in Rodolphe Prager, ed., Bouleversements et crises de l’après-guerre (1946-1950), volume 3 of Les congrès de la IVe Internationale (Paris: Editions La Brèche, 1988), 44. Privas’ motion failed by a vote of 13 to 16, with three abstentions. Back

69 See “Genesis of Pabloism,” Spartacist, no. 21 (Fall 1972), 1-13. Back

70 “Discussions with Trotsky,” op. cit. Back

71 See the preface and postscript in Daniel Guérin, ed., Léon Trotsky sur la deuxième guerre mondiale (Paris: Seuil, 1974), 7-17 and 212-217. Back

72 “The U.S. Will Participate in the War,” Writings of Leon Trotsky (1939-40), 94-97. Back

73 Broué, op. cit., 56 (our translation). Back

74 Cited in Bot, op. cit. Back

75 Ibid. Back

76 Ibid. Back

77 Ibid. Back

78 “Balance Sheet of the Finnish Events,” In Defense of Marxism (New York: Pioneer Publishers, 1942), 175. Back

79 Ute Schmidt and Tilman Fichter, Der erzwungene Kapitalismus: Klassenkämpfe in den Westzonen 1945-1948 (Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, 1971), 23-30. Back

80 See, for example, George F. Kennan, The Nuclear Delusion (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983), and Theodore Draper, “Nuclear Temptations,” New York Review of Books, 19 January 1984, 42-50. Back

81 “The ILP and the Fourth International,” 18 September 1935, Writings of Leon Trotsky (1935-36), 2nd ed. (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1977), 140. Back

82 “The Congress Against War and Fascism,” Writings of Leon Trotsky (1937-38), 430. Back

83 V.I. Lenin, “Socialism and War,” Collected Works, vol. 21, 315. Back

84 “The ILP and the Fourth International,” op. cit., 140. Back

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