Classroom Activity : Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Commentary)

Classroom Activity : Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Commentary)

This commentary is based on the classroom activity: Trade Unions in Nazi Germany

Q1: How does the author of source 2 justify the banning of trade unions?

A1: Robert Ley argues that the trade unions were led by Marxists and therefore wanted to cause conflict in the hope that it would result in a communist revolution. According to Ley, this is why Adolf Hitler needed to ban trade unions and left-wing political parties such as the German Social Democrat Party and the German Communist Party.

Q2: Select evidence from this unit that helps to explain why, according to source 3, "businessmen made good profits" in Nazi Germany.

A2: William Shirer, an American journalist, argues in source 3 "businessmen made good profits" in Nazi Germany because workers were not allowed to demand higher wages. Source 8 shows that there were no strikes after Hitler took power and brought in the German Labour Front. The author of source 5 reveals that under Hitler production increased. "We must also remember that in recent years factory methods in Nazi Germany have taken on a very different tempo from what was formerly the custom. Work has been considerably speeded up. Piece-work has been organised accordingly, and wage-rates have in many cases been reduced in order to lower the cost of production."

Q3: We do not know the author of source 5. Does this make it worthless as historical evidence?

A3: The author of source 5 was a member of the German resistance. If the Nazi authorities had discovered his identity he would have been executed. Most of the information published in Nazi Germany was government propaganda. Therefore, source 5 is valuable evidence of what life was like during this period.

Q4: What do sources 1, 4, 6, 7, 10 tell us about the methods used by the Nazi Party to influence the mood of the German worker?

A4: The Nazi Party made full use of posters to influence the mood of the German worker. Source 1 was published during the November, 1932, election and was an attempt to persuade the workers to vote for the Nazi Party. Source 4 is an attempt to persuade the whole family to support the German Labour Front. Source 6 shows the owner and worker hand in hand and tries to show them having no conflict of interest. Source 10 shows a man working hard with the Nazi flag in the background. The caption urges the worker to help Hitler build a new Germany. It also encourages the worker to help the national economy by buying German goods. Source 7 is an example of a pro-Hitler song that workers were required to sing.


CLASS STRUGGLE

A REPORT ON THE EUROPEAN SECTIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL LEFT OPPOSITION.

In the course of my trip through Europe which took me through practically all of the principal countries from Turkey to Spain, I was able to visit many of the sections of the Left Opposition and to talk to many of the leading comrades. The following report, therefore is the result of various conversations with leading comrades who vouch for the accuracy of these reports. It will be seen that the Left Opposition has grown up. It has propaganda groups in many European countries. In Greece, in Spain, and to some extent in Germany, it has passed the stage of mere propaganda and especially in the first two countries has carried on independent action on the working class that has placed the groups in Greece and in Spain really ahead of the official Communist Parties themselves. In practically all cases the leadership is composed of men between 30 and 40 years of age with several older comrades and a good sprinkling of youth. Such a combination offers a guaranty that both a continuity of revolutionary experience will be absorbed and a constant adjustment to new events made.

I speak of the "International Left Opposition" but in one sense I may say that such an International Left Opposition does not yet really exist as a well organized force. This is the most serious defect of the Left Opposition, the correction of which becomes the main immediate task before us. Two principal things are lacking to the Left Opposition. They are first, a collectively worked out and comprehensive program and platform of action, and second, an authoritative collective center. In considering these we must, constantly keep in mind that although the Russian Left Opposition began its fight in 1923 the majority of the other sections were not formed till after Trotsky's expulsion and deportation in 1928 or so. The many internal fights these groupings went through, their different levels of development, their different problems and conditions all naturally would compel sooner or later the calling of an international convention.

It is a fact that this convention has never been called. We have the many and brilliant articles and books by Comrade Trotsky setting forth our viewpoint and guiding, us in our problems. However, in spite of the general correctness and value of those writings, they cannot replace entirely the collective labor possible through a congress and through a capable political executive. The result of this state of affairs is very serious and has been one of the chief reasons hindering the more rapid growth of the Left Opposition. There exists a multitude of vital questions which can not be touched by Comrade Trotsky in his writings. This compels the various sections to do one of two things: Either to ignore these vital questions --- as for example the Communist League of America (Cannon group) does with the Negro question --- waiting for Trotsky to speak, or to take a positive action not knowing what action is being taken in other countries and risking a criticism from Trotsky. In either case the prestige of the leadership of the National groups suffers. If this is continued the Left Opposition will tend to become either a grouping of rubber-stamp yes-men who will lose all semblance of independent Marxist character and who will tend to become like the pitiful Stalin functionaries, or on the other hand while subscribing formally to abstract documents each grouping will take its own independent position on national questions. We have seen both these tendencies strongly marked in the United States.

The second defect, the lack of an authoritative political center is linked up with the first and greatly aggravates the whole situation. In 1930 a few comrades came together and "chose" a political bureau and a secretariat. The political bureau never, functioned. The secretariat in Paris headed by Hill took on political functions. But it was not a very strong secretariat. It had not been chosen on the basis of merit after examination by delegates at, a Congress. It was this secretariat that in a most bureaucratic way excluded the Communist League of Struggle, our organization, from the Left Opposition and it was against this type of irresponsibility against which the Communist League of Struggle had to fight.

This secretariat, engaged in constant bickering could not last long. (At first Roemer acted as secretary in fact. Then Suzo, Mill and P. Naville succeeded him, Naville soon reigning and being replaced by Frank. The whole secretariat lasted one year in Paris.) It was moved to Berlin with another personnel chosen in the same obscure manner. But this secretariat also does not function well. Because of the lack of a strong central discipline and adequate system of reports and minutes, there exists the possibility of groups carrying out a right wing policy while waving the banner of the Left Opposition, Here again we are reminded of the American League.

It is all the more remarkable then that in spite of all this the Left Opposition is growing. This speaks volumes both for the basic correctness of our principles and the tenacious work of the various groups.

The strongest group seems to be in Russia. According to Yaroslavskys figures given out 1929-1930, the last ones issued, over 7000 Left Oppositionists were either in prison or in exile in the U.S.S.R. Actually there are many more and to this must be reckoned the host of sympathizers and formal capitulators. Each year new batches are discovered and imprisoned, but the work goes on. In spite of everything a hand paper -- the Bolshevik Fighter -- is put out and from time to time other illegal papers appear. The deportees have their own conspiratorial paper. Besides this the Russian Bulletin put out in Berlin has a circulation of about 5000.

After Russia comes Greece. Here the Greek organization, the Archic-Marxists organized in 1922 and only by a long process found themselves in 1930 affiliated with the Left Opposition. Due to its capable and energetic work the Left Opposition group there now is really stronger than the official party. It has 1500 members and operates both legally and illegally. Its journal issued three times a week with over 7000 circulation is legal. It also controls unions which are legal and has over 20,000 members. It puts out a theoretical journal called Masses which has a circulation of about 4000 and also a Greek-Jewish paper. In Athens, Paraeus and Saloniki are to be found the principal centers of the Left. It has also developed a good Jewish movement and has established a strong Marxist training school.

In Bulgaria the Left Opposition also dates from 1930 when a small group joined. At first the social composition was not very good but it rapidly increased its membership until now it is a real force even though compelled to operate illegally. Its legal paper, Osvodbodjenie ("Liberation") put out in Sofia at first a monthly now has become a weekly. As in Greece the Bulgarian movement offers much hope.

Roumania, Yugoslavia, Albania have no groups whatever. In Hungaria two years ago there was a big group of young comrades who had even a legal paper.

The situation in Czecho-Slovakia briefly can be recounted as follows. In 1927 a Zinovievist group was expelled by the Party which later formed a block with the right, split into two and then found its leaders, Mihaleo and Neurath capitulate to the Party. A part gravitated to Trotsky, a paper was issued the Iskra. Other little groups also existed and by mutual fusion (Frankel, Friedman tiny groups) at last a group of the Left Opposition was formed. It now has a few dozen members, putting out a paper Delnicka Politika from time to time. The group lives a meager sectarian existence. In Austria, when I visited it, there was no official section of the Left Opposition. There is the Mahnruf group putting out the paper with that name and having very few members in Wien and about 20 members in Gratz. This group is connected with Landau. Then there is the Arbeiter Stimme group led by Frey. According to Frey the history of this group is as follows. In 1922 the group began a fight against the right wing and by 1927 found themselves expelled from the Party. Several errors were committed however, one of them being that as a maneuver the group then passed a resolution against Trotsky. After this the group went down. It entered the Left Opposition only to leave it later because of an internal fight with Landau. Now the group wants to reenter the Left Opposition. It still has near 200 members with a semi- monthly paper, the Arbeiter Stimme, with a circulation of 1400. 1800. It runs a school with 40-45 students and controls a club "Arbeiter Kultur Verband", In my opinion the Arbeiter Stimme group should admit its error in leaving the Left Opposition because of internal struggle with Landau and on that basis should be readmitted into the Left Opposition.

In Poland a group only now is being organized and is putting out a paper. Up to now like Roumania and Yugoslavia, Poland had had nothing. This is also the situation, by the way, in all the countries of the Baltic with the exception of Russia and Germany.

In Germany the Left Opposition after many vicissitudes is again growing slowly but surely. The Left Opposition was expelled in 1927 and in 1923 Urbahns, Grylevich and Sholem organized a group called the Leninbund, This was split in 1929 over the question of the unconditional defense of the Soviet Union. While Urbahns got most of the 600 members to stay with him, 200 members went with Grylevich, Joko and Landau, who then were for Trotsky, Under the Landau leadership a new paper was issued, Der Kommunist and unity was effected with another group, the Wedding group. In 1931 a new split occurred, Landau being separated from the organization. Now the German Left is on the upgrade again. It founded a new paper -- Die Permanente Revolution -- first as a monthly and now as a weekly. The circulation is about 2600, with about 500 members in the organization well spread throughout Germany (except Bavaria) with strong centers in Berlin, Hamburg, Ruhr, Saxony, Middle Germany and Baden. The group is now carrying out independent action and participating in the life of the working class. In Oranienburg the Left Opposition was able to initiate and to lead a good united front movement against Fascism. In September a national conference will be held to take stock of the situation and to carry forward the work. The situation in Germany is overripe for a huge growth of the Left Opposition. Trotsky's influence is enormous. What is needed is the end of picayune internal Squabbles and a bold independent policy of entering into all the battles of the working class.

The situation in France is a very good illustration of what the Left Opposition must make every effort to terminate. In all France in spite of the many sympathizers to the Communist League of France there were very few members. At one time there were five different groups claiming to be near Trotsky. To understand the situation it is necessary to give a bit of the history of the movement. In 1924 Souvarine was expelled from the party. He organized a group called the Communist Democratic Circle which now has about 20-30 members. A weekly paper was published called the Bulletin Communiste. Later the group became a study group, the paper changed to a monthly till 1930 when a new bimonthly review was issued "La Critique Sociale".

At the same time in 1924 a few months after he had joined the Party Monatte, former syndicalist, was expelled. He too put out a paper, now semi-monthly, called La Revolution Proletarienne. In 1926 Treint, then Zinoviev leader, was expelled. In 1928 he organized a group called "Redressment Communist" with about 50 members and as a fraction of the Communist Party of France put out a paper "L'Unite Leniniste".

In 1922, Paz organized a group for the Left Opposition and for a time was the official representative of the Left Opposition in France. Still there was no real organizing work done. Finally Claude Naville, one of the editors of Clarte, an organ close to the Party, and also a Party member, after a trip to Russia where he met Comrade Trotsky, organized another group and founded a monthly paper La Tutte de Classe with about 10 members. Thus there were five groups in 1928-1929 all negotiating with each other.

The deportation of Trotsky to Turkey rapidly changed this situation. After a visit by Roemer, Frank and R. Moliniere, Trotsky decided to break up these little groupings and organized around P. Naville a new official group. This marked the formation of the Communist League of France. Paz being dismissed as Left Opposition representative rapidly went to the right and soon joined the Socialist Party.

On the Trade Union field the Communist League quickly dissociated themselves from Monatte and built up a circulation of 1000 readers for La Verite and 800 for the Lutte de Classe, the theoretical organ. A Jewish paper was started, Klarkhieit, and had a circulation of 600-700, but it soon died.

In the course of the Trade Union work of the League differences arose with comrades Rosmar, Gourget and C. Naville who left the League (they were not expelled) and with 15 members have organized another group. They work with Landau and put out a mimeograph paper in 1931 called "Le Communiste".

Then Treint came into the Communist League of France but soon left (May 1932) with 5 or 6 members and organized another group. He has put out a typewritten "Bulletin de la Fraction de Gauche" his main point being that the Communist Party is not a Communist Party but a vague, revolutionary party and the Communist League of France must be the Communist Party and so we must organize a party within the Communist Party. Thus he was opposed to the Rakovsky statement.

Within the Communist League of France other differences arose on the Trade Union question, first the League headed by Mill against P. Naville, and the Italian comrades and later Mill switching his position, the League against Mill. The issues were (1). Shall we demand unity with the reformist unions on condition they take the line of the class struggle or only on the condition they allow complete democracy within the unions? The latter position being that of the League. (2). Shall the Communist League be bound by Decisions made by a trade union bloc, "The Trade Union Unitary Opposition". The League stressed the need of complete freedom of action for itself in all blocs. After being defeated Mill has practically left the organization, not taking any part in activity.

And now a new question arises regarding the Italian comrades, whether they are to enter into the French League to do work, except those needed for other work, or are they to remain an independent group.

From this report one can see clearly the weaknesses of the French Opposition. In spite of some very very propaganda the French opposition remains very poorly organized.

In Belgium the League organized in 1930 with Comrade Lesoel now has a considerable group of members with a good nucleus in Charleroi. It issues a semimonthly paper La Voix Communiste with a circulation of about 1000. It has a good basis for growth. In Holland and Portugal there are no groups. In Great Britain a few contacts exist. In Switzerland a group of 20 exists which puts out a monthly mimeographed bulletin. In France a new Italian Left Opposition has been organized in contradistinction to the "Left" Bordigiste. It consists of experienced members who under the leadership of Feroci puts out a mimeographed Bulletin.

It is the movement in Spain that offers the most encouraging results at the present moment. The group is really in existence a little over a year and in that time has accomplished considerable work. The first conference of the Spanish Left Opposition was held in Luxemburg in 1929 with La Croix and five other members present. In 1930 another conference was held this time in Madrid with about the same number of people (Nin, La croix, Andrade, Fersen) but it was only in the early part of 1931 that the Left Opposition really began to grow. The recent conference held in April 1932 with 25 delegates represented over 1100 members. Within a year it has put out a paper El Soviet now struggling to become a weekly, with 5000 circulation. It has issued a theoretical organ, Comunismo, with 1500 circulation and over 15 popular pamphlets have been printed with a large sale. A youth paper Young Spartacus recently appeared which it is claimed sells 2000 copies. In quality the Left Opposition is stronger than the Party (though not numerically: the Party having about 5000 members) and in many places the Left Opposition has groups where the Party does not (as in Salamanca). The last conference found the Left Opposition best developed in Biscay, Asturias, Castille, Andalusia, (Seville, Cadiz) Barcelona and Madrid. (However the group in Barcelona is numerically relatively small, considering the importance of the place).

The last conference of the Left Opposition accomplished a good deal and worked out elaborate theses on the situation in Spain, the position of the Left Opposition on the National and Agrarian questions, their relation to the Party and to the Syndicalists and on the Trade Union question. Within the Left Opposition differences are arising as to the correctness of the Spanish comrades but two things stand out clearly: 1. The great growth of the Spanish Left Opposition due to its bold independent working class activity. 2. The recognition it has received as the most dangerous revolutionary force in Spain. In Catalonia only the Left Opposition is illegal (the Communist Party is legal there) and the Chief of Police in a special brochure has declared that Spain must account it as a stroke of good fortune that the Communist Party has ejected the Left Opposition and that the Leaders of the Left opposition are not the head of the Party (see Maurice Karl: Communism in Spain pp, 91).

To recapitulate the press activity of the sections of the Left Opposition in Europe I bring forward the following table:

Besides this there is issued regularly a mass of mimeographed material. International Bulletins in four languages, internal bulletins, etc. Many of the sections have done valuable propaganda work in the form of pamphlets and books on various important questions.

In conclusion we may say that in Spain, Greece and Bulgaria the Left Opposition seems to be advancing rapidly, in Germany it is growing slowly but surely, while in other countries it is still in its first immature stages. The history of the Left Opposition can be divided into several phases. Up to 1928 there was no International Left Opposition but only a Russian section fighting for an internationalist position. After 1928, with the expulsion and deportation of Trotsky sections appear in various countries but it is only in 1930 that the really important groups became clarified (Greece, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Spain) and began activities as real sections of a Left Opposition. 1930 is also the year when the first attempt was made to organize an international secretariat and bureau. This marked the beginning of the third period of the Left Opposition, a period in which a number of the sections began to carry on independent activity and to grow.

Now we are ready to enter into a new phase of our development. This phase should be opened up with a real international congress and a collective political authority set up. The development of the left opposition since the first international conference (April 1930) has made it necessary and possible for the various sections to proceed as soon as possible from the state of a propaganda group solely to that of an organization which though a fraction of the Communist Party yet carries out independent action of the workers.

Wherever I stayed, as in Austria, Germany, France and Spain, I spoke to the Comrades on the American situation bringing home to them the position of the Communist League of Struggle. I am happy to say that everywhere I was treated in a most friendly fashion, the leaders assuring me that there was no principled reason why the Communist League of Struggle should not be part of the Left Opposition and why there could not be a unification of all Left Opposition forces in America. It is for our group to continue its loyal service as part of the Left Opposition until it is victorious.

Albert Weisbord - August 16, 1932.

1. RESOLUTION ON COMRADE WEISBORD'S REPORT ON THE EUROPEAN SECTIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL LEFT OPPOSITION.

The Communist League of Struggle (adhering to the International Left Opposition) after hearing the report of its representative Comrade Albert Weisbord on the situation within the International Left Opposition, declares:

A. The convocation of an international Congress of the Left Opposition to be held some time in the near future is more necessary now than ever. This Congress must work out a collective and comprehensive set of theses and program and elect a strong political bureau that will really control and guide the life of the sections. To this Congress the Communist League of Struggle should be invited as a group loyally adhering to the views of the Left Opposition.

B. The Communist League of Struggle endorses the position taken abroad by its representative in continuing the policies of our organization in refusing to take sides in the controversies within the Left Opposition groupings such as in Greece (Spartacus group), France (Treint and Gourget groups) Italy and Belgium, since we lack sufficient information. Only when the Communist League of Struggle is officially a part of the Left Opposition and has all of the documents before it can be in a position to take up questions which to such considerable extent have been alleged to be questions of "democracy" within the Left Opposition etc. However, wherever on any given question sufficient information is at hand our organization can not refuse to take a stand.

Postscript:
To the above resolution we now wish to add that now that the Landau group in Germany (Der Kommunist) and in Austria (Der Neue Mahnruf) have issued an anti-Leninist and anti-Left Opposition "Draft Declaration" of principles, there can be no question of unification with these groups.

In regard to the groups which claim to adhere to the International Left Opposition but which are not "recognized" as such we wish to repeat our general standpoint that, without taking a stand in agreement with these groups we nevertheless believe that these groups should be permitted to be heard on the questions affecting them at the forthcoming international conference and that the conference itself should be empowered to take a stand on their respective questions.

2. STATEMENT OF THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE ON THE DRAFT DECLARATION OF THE "LANDAU OPPOSITION" OF THE COMINTERN.

Up to now we have not taken a stand on the "Landau question" since we were of the belief that it was concerned chiefly with disputes with the Left Opposition (headed by L.D. Trotsky) on questions on which we did not have much material and which seemed to us to be chiefly of an internal nature. Now, however, we can no longer keep silent in the face of the "Draft Declaration" and of the attacks which we have read in the Mahnruf.

Once upon a time there was a little group in Wien which all alone way back in 1922, undertook the struggle against International opportunism in the Comintern. Practically single handed it began its fight against the dragons of opportunism (Zinoviev, Bucharin, Radek, Stalin, Kameneff, et-al) who trembled in mortal fear. After ten years of struggle from this bard there grew up a great LEFT OPPOSITION OF THE COMINTERN. This is the fairy story of the "Landau International". Could anything be more ridiculous? If the frog continues to puff himself up trying to look like the bull, he will surely burst.

We believe it is only necessary to state a few of the high points of the case made by Landau himself to show that here no serious reply is necessary but only laughter.

A. Landau claims that he is the real "Left Opposition", that the others merely comprise a block of Mensheviks headed by Comrade Trotsky who is still the great expert at building "August blocs".

B. Landau attacks the Fourth Congress of the Comintern (1922). Here he believes, is the source of opportunism. For Landau, Lenin is also an opportunist who theoretically at least, snares responsibility for the German defeat of 1923. To Landau, Lenin's conception of the workers and peasants regime, a conception that enabled him to work in the closest relation with Trotsky and to conquer power for the proletariat in an agrarian county, is also an opportunist conception. Perhaps if Lenin had listened to the little brave group in Wien things would have been infinitely better.

C. Landau attacks the reorganization of the Party on the shop nuclei system as the basic opportunist concept in organizational questions. Landau is attacking not how the reorganization actually was effected in different countries but he is attacking the Third Congress of the Comintern (1921) and the whole history of the Bolshevist organization as well.

We would like to know what has this Draft Declaration got to do with Leninism or with the International Left Opposition? Up to now we were for an international conference at which Landau would be given a hearing for his point of view. Now that he has at last printed his point of view, we can categorically declare that his entrance into the Left Opposition would bring only the rankest Menshevist confusion into the ranks of those who determined to carry forward the banner of Leninism in the present period.

In the September number of Landau's German sheet there appears a statement about our group which merits a reply. The Landau statement raises the following points: 1. That we were "connected" with the Landau group. 2. That the Landau group "broke" connections with us. 3. That the cause of the "breach" were the "sharp differences" with all of these claims are false.

Not being officially in the International Left Opposition ourselves we were interested in all the other groupings such as Landau's which claimed to be adhering to the Left Opposition and which were not "recognized". In August 1931 we sent two letters to Landau sending him our thesis and asking him his opinion and requesting him to bring this thesis if he were in agreement with it and also informing him that we had been wrongfully treated by the Secretariat at that time under the direction of Mill. We declared that we would fight for a position that there should be called an international conference where the groups claiming to adhere to the International Left Opposition should have the right to be heard. In November we sent another letter to Landau stating to him that his criticism of our thesis, which we had received, except on the point of the Labor Party, was based, so it seemed to us, on his faulty translation of the English Language, because we did not stand for the points he thought we stood for. On the question of the Labor Party Landau took the position that if the Labor Party is organized on the basis of trade unions, the Communists must NOT enter and work within it, even though they keep their independence. On this question we disagreed with Landau and in accord with Comrade Trotsky we still do. While it is not the duty of the Communists to raise the slogan of the Labor Party and to help organize it, it certainly is the duty of the Communists at the present time, if such a mass Labor Party should be organized on a federated trade union basis, for the Communists to work within it.

We should keep in mind when we read Landau's claims of "sharpest differences" on the Labor Party question that all the time he was in the International Left Opposition he was in the friendliest contact with the leaders of the American League who also at that time had our position. Carried along by the ideas of Comrade Trotsky Landau constantly tries to prove that he has "preceded" Trotsky.

However, what is important in the present connection is the fact that in our reply we plainly stated: The thesis you sent us is being translated (rather slowly) by comrades who know German and will receive careful study. Our opinions on it will be communicated to you later. We have not yet taken a stand on the questions agitating the foreign groups, due to our very incomplete information about them.

This is the whole of our correspondence with Landau. It is characteristic of Landau that he dishonestly pumps this up to mean "connections" that he wrote in one of his previous issues that he had "connections in America" and that he had "reports from America" to his "international conference". Where we see that it was not Landau that "broke" connections with us but that it was we who refused to become "connected" with a group whose principles we did not know.

Finally we wish to call attention to the exaggerated language that Landau uses. Knowing practically nothing whatever about us, like a provincial who is dizzy by his first visit to the capital city, Landau in his mind moves from Continent to Continent passing judgment and hurling pompous phrases. Such an attitude makes difficult any possibility of working with such elements as Landau represents.

4. SUGGESTED ORGANIZATIONAL STATUTES FOR THE INTERNATIONAL LEFT OPPOSITION.

A. The development of the International Left Opposition since the first international conference has made it necessary and possible for the various sections to proceed as soon as possible from the state of propaganda groups solely to that of organizations which though functioning as fractions of the Communist Party yet carry out independent action among the workers. This method can prove one of the most effective in convincing the Party members of the correctness of our course.

B. The development of our groups as organization along lines that will enable them to carry out their tasks makes it necessary that the groups follow carefully the general decisions on organization laid down at the 3rd Congress of the Comintern.

C. The membership of the sections of the International left Opposition must be carefully selected so as to include really vanguard elements. Proletarian applicants should undergo a probationary period of one month before membership can be obtained. For all others (non-Exploiters of labor) a three months probationary period shall be established. Where tested revolutionary fighters apply, the probationary period may be eliminated by special decision of the section.

D. The basic unit of the sections must be the nucleus. Every effort must be made to build shop nuclei and wherever possible issue regular shop papers.

E. The members of the sections must now seriously enter into the work of penetrating all mass organizations of workers open to them. Every member must be in a mass organization of workers carrying out the policy of the Left Opposition. The greatest attention must be paid not only to building fractions within the Communist Party (that goes without saying) but also to form fractions in the trade unions and in other workers organizations of which our members are part.

F. In every demonstration and action of the working class the Left Opp. must be part physically and energetically taking part in the every-day struggles of the masses.

G. On all concrete questions advancing the interests of the working class the sections of the Left Opposition must try to effect and to participate in united front groupings with other labor organizations.

H. Every effort must be made to develop well trained cadres who have gone through the concrete daily mass struggles of the workers and who have behaved in a Communist manner in those struggles. Those members who qualify in such work must be brought into the leadership of the sections. On the other hand it is quite possible that in the various sections individuals exist in the leadership who have not participated personally and in a responsible manner in such mass struggles. This defect must be remedied both so as to insure the leadership can keep the necessary confidence of the members and the Left Opposition keep clear from all taint of the bureaucracy and so that the ability of those very individuals be increased and strengthened.

Albert Weisbord
Prinkipo, May 1932.

Endorsed by the Communist League of Struggle,
New York, August 1932.

5. STATEMENT OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE SPANISH COMMUNIST LEFT.
(translated from La Verite, September 22, 1932)

The adherents of Rosmer in France and Landau in Germany have wished to profit from the decisions taken in our national conference in order to fight the International organization of the Left Opposition in changing the meaning of the decisions and in giving them an importance which they do not have.

In order to end a situation which can serve only to hurt our organization we have to declare:

A. Beyond doubt, our organization has no political difference with the I.L.O. and we have accepted and accept the Communist discipline of our organization.

B. At our national conference we have voted a resolution for the calling of an international conference of our organization and we have defended the idea of, permitting the groups excluded or separated from the organization because of differences with the leadership of the section of their country or of the International, to make the defense before the conference but we have never defended the idea of an international conference to which the groups excluded or separated would be able to intervene with the same right as the legitimate organizations. Only, in order to defend themselves / their particular case and in demanding their intervention in advance /one would be able to admit their presence to the conference, which is quite different from the news published in the organs of Rosmer and Landau.

C. We have criticized what we consider as erroneous in the organization but this does not mean that we do not wish to accept the discipline of our organization and still less that we were not in accord with the ideas of our International organization with Trotsky and with the International Secretariat. We have always expressed our point of view on the different problems of our international organization but we have accepted the voice of the majority of our organization and it is necessary to underline that it is on the questions of detail and of organization and not on political questions that we have had divergences with the point of view of the International Secretariat and of Trotsky. To profit by this in order to fight our international organization is to make dishonest and uncommunist maneuvers. There is no doubt that we have nothing to see with the Landau and Rosmer groups and we consider that the path that they have taken is not the most facile for a return to the organization. The fact that we have asked that the defense of the groups excluded be heard does not mean that we were in accord with them, but what we wish by this is to permit the comrades to defend themselves in accordance with the democracy of our organization.

We request the national sections of our organization to publish this resolution in the press in order to hinder the maneuver that some elements wish to make with our name with more or less bad faith.

6. AN IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT IN THE FRENCH LEAGUE.

In the paper of the French League, La Verite, of September 22, 1932 there is given a resolution of the Enlarged Executive Committee on the tasks of the French Communist League (Opposition) this resolution, after stating the actual situation in France and the continued disintegration of the Communist Party of France, in spite of the favorable opportunities, goes on to enumerate the following important tasks: 1. The support of a weekly paper. 2. The development of the work among the youth. 3. The increased tightening of the discipline and morale of the League. 4. Preparation for the forthcoming National Conference. However most important of all, the French League states it is necessary to make a determined organized effort in the DIRECTION OF MASS WORK.

The resolution states: "The ideas of the left, of Marxism, of the real program of the Comintern have penetrated the ranks of the party. But this activity has been directed only by still restricted kernels and often by isolated militants. Aside from polemics, aside from education in the light of the great international events, there is still lacking a sufficiently patient and boldly rooted action within the economic mass organizations of the working class. Above all is it here a question of Trade Union Action. The enlarged executive committee calls all the militants of the left place in the first rank of their activity, trade union action which will bind the Marxist vanguard to the largest layers of the working class. IN ALL THE FEDERATIONS IN THE GENERAL UNITARY CONFEDERATION LABOR, IN ALL THE REFORMIST TRADE UNIONS WHERE THE OPPOSITIONIST FIGHT, THERE MUST BE ORGANIZED OPPOSITION GROUPS WHICH CARRY ON THEIR ACTIVE AND DAILY WORK IN THE TRADE UNION FIELD AND WHICH DEFEND STEP BY STEP THE CONCEPTIONS AND PROPOSITIONS OF THE LEFT IN THEIR TRADE UNION ACTIVITY ABOVE ALL IN RESPECT TO THE POLICY OF THE UNITED FRONT AND TRADE UNION UNITY ON WHICH QUESTIONS THE Executive committee confirms entirely the positions adopted hitherto. Trade union bulletins must be published to the degree possible. A responsible comrade is charged to Centralize all the trade union work of the league in coordinating it on a national plan."

(Editors- Note: The Statement of the National Committee of the Communist League of America (Opposition) was printed in their official organ, the Militant, of October 1 and October 8th, 1932. Unfortunately, due to the smallness of our Paper, we cannot reprint this statement. We urge all our readers to get the Militant of these dates).

OUR ANSWER TO THE STATEMENTS OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF
THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF AMERICA (OPPOSITION)
STATEMENT OF THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE
(adhering to the International Left Opposition)

The recent statement of the National Committee of the Communist League of America (opposition) on the Letter of Comrade Trotsky and the reply of the Communist League of Struggle, in spite of the disagreements we have with it, has brought us a step nearer to unification. We note that in the opinion of the "National Committee" our reply to Comrade Trotsky constitutes a "turn in the direction of the Left Opposition on the most important principle questions." and that ". we can be assured that some, if not all, of the Weisbord group (The Communist League of Struggle is designated here, note) will find their way to complete fusion with us. And it goes without saying that the National Committee willdo all in its power to facilitate and hasten this process, without putting unnecessary obstacles in the way or imposing unreasonable conditions." Further the "National Committee" declares: "The general direction of Weisbord and the comrades associated with him, over a period now of several years. has been toward the Left Opposition."

Yet we note, that in spite of this step forward, the "National Committee" rejects our offer for both organizations to come together on a basis of the basic principles of the International Left Opposition, and on Comrade Trotsky's letter and our reply to it. The "National Committee" states: "We do not regard its letter to Comrade Trotsky as adequate. we deem a restatement by the Weisbord group (The Communist League of Struggle is meant here) an essential preliminary to further steps of unification.

We do not intend to enter here and now into the many secondary questions raised by the "National Committee". We intend to stick to the principal issues. Nor do we intend to engage in a long series of letters each running into many pages. Long ago we declared our willingness to meet with the committee of the Communist League of Am. Our offers have been steadily rejected. We regard this "long-range" tactic of endless letter writing as a maneuver to delay discussions that could lead to unity.

In his last letter to us, Comrade Trotsky raised three principal points: 1. The question of the Labor Party, 2. The question of Centrism and 3. The question of mass work. As the "National Committee" evidently has not basic differences with us on our position on the Labor Party we shall turn to the other two points.

I. THE QUESTION OF CENTRISM.

We believe that our statement that "On the general question of Centrism we feel that our differences are not very great and in some respects are only of a formal character" will be agreed to by Comrade Trotsky himself. What is the specific question involved here? It is whether the term "centrism" shall be given to a Communist wing as well as to a left-Socialist deviation, or should the term be confined only to the latter type (as Represented for example by Kautsky, Adler, et al). Comrade Trotsky answers that the word "centrism" should cover ALL deviations both of a socialist and Communist character, between the official camp of reformism (Social Democracy) and Communism (The Left Opposition). This means that not only the S.A.P. in Germany but the Lovestone group and the bureaucratic centrist group of Stalin are all "centrist". Of these groups, which differ among themselves, which one is the "nearest" to us, the Left Opposition, depends above all not on the formula of these groups but on their dynamics. And for this a concrete study of each group as part of its actual historic environment is necessary. We believe Comrade Trotsky's analysis has very little in common with the formulae often bandied about in the Communist League of America, such as "We can unite with centrists but not with the Right". "Centrists are nearer the Left than the Right" etc., when by the term 'Right" is meant Communist groups whom Trotsky also places in the broad category "centrist groups." In this respect our views were closer to Comrade Trotsky's than those of the American League. That is why it is correct to say our differences with Comrade Trotsky on this general question were mainly formal.

We find this analysis of Comrade Trotsky on Centrism very helpful and an analysis which we are quite ready to accept as it gives us a better understanding of actuality than before and corresponds better to the needs of the moment. We are no longer in the period of 1919 when it was necessary to split sharply all Communists from the Socialists. This process has been done. What is necessary now is to raise clear and high the banner of the Left Opposition as separate from all the other groups, That is why we are ready to change the terminology by which centrism meant a Socialist trend, a terminology followed by Lenin AT THAT TIME, for the one proposed by Comrade Trotsky. In this respect Comrade Trotsky only continues the method of Lenin under new circumstances that call for different conclusions.

The "National Committee" states that on this question of centrism we have not taken a self-critical attitude. This is not quite so. In our reply to Comrade Trotsky we declared: "We do not wish to deny that in the course of existence we have made some serious errors both in our general program (for example on the Labor Party question, OUR MISTAKE IN ALLOWING THE IMPRESSION TO GET ABROAD THAT WE WISHED A BLOC WITH THE RIGHT WING (our emphasis) and our mistake in ignoring on certain questions the great critical activity already done by the Left Opposition, etc.) And in our practice."

The "National Committee" again affirms, in spite of our denial, that we were for a Bloc, that is a general vague alliance, with the Right Wing. And to prove this the National Committee quotes, not from the theses of the Communist League of Struggle but from an article of Weisbord BEFORE THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE WAS ORGANIZED. Knowing the false interpretation that the leadership of the American League had previously placed on this draft article, the group deliberately changed the original formulation so as not to allow this false interpretation to gain ground. It is significant of the method of the "National Committee" that it does not take the formulation of the whole group but of a previously written "DRAFT" (it was marked "DRAFT")statement of one of its members. And in this connection we must point out how the "National Committee" has constantly slurred and underestimated our organization and its entire membership by constantly insinuating that it consists of only one person. It is a mystery to us to find out just how these methods can raise the influence of the International Left Opposition in America.

What was the point and essence of Comrade Weisbord's draft statement since it is this draft that is given as proof that the Communist League of Struggle and the American League can not get together. Comrade Weisbord stated in essence what we have stated in our reply to the letter of Comrade Trotsky, namely that it is quite possible that circumstances may arise where it will be advantageous for us to form a united front including the Right Wing even where the Party refuses to join or even fights it, and that the results of such a united front could be to reestablish mass work and even to help reform the Communist Party. Is this denied by the "National Committee"? But the "National Committee" itself organized such a united front with the Right Wing (Lovestone, Muste and Co.) in the Marine case!

Here is what the "National Committee" thought of the work of this united front with Lovestone on the Marine case: "The meeting is expected to be the starting point for a really popular development of the movement through public agitation" (Militant Dec. 26, 1931). In the same issue of the Militant, according to J.P. Cannon, this united front with the "right" was having the result that the honest and class-conscious elements in all workers organizations are asserting themselves in favor of a united movement to defend the victims of the frame-up. Every day sees new forces recruited for the fight".

In the Militant of Jan. 2, 1932, we read "All the activity of the committee has been carried on under the banner of the united front of labor against the frame-up system. The correctness of this policy and the effectiveness of the appeal for the imprisoned workers was indicated by the response that has already been gained. Organizations and groups having the widest differences on many questions of principal and tactics are uniting for a common fight for the imprisoned marine workers FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS WE SEE THE SIGNS OF A GENUINE UNITED FRONT MOVEMENT TAKING SHAPE" (our emphasis).

Here is what the Militant of Jan. 16th, 1932 had to say about the work of this united front with Lovestone and Muste without and against the Communist Party: "For the first time in years New York workers belonging to various political tendencies met together, swayed by a feeling of genuine working class solidarity in the face of the vicious class enemy. All speakers were well received. Despite the manifold political shades and colors all appeared united to prevent the capitalist class from taking advantage of the dissensions within the working class for their own ends. The meeting represents a commendable attempt to close the ranks in warding off the blows of government oppression of workers and workers institutions. The absolute necessity of action in cases such as that of the three marine workers will not fail to awaken the workers, Communist and non-Communist to proletarian solidarity. The force of united working class defense is irresistible".

And in the very same issue J.P. Cannon wrote about this meeting of the united front with the right centrists: "No single event in recent years has done so much to raise the hopes of the radical workers that a way can be found despite all the differences between the various organizations and groups for the radical workers to get together for a united fight against the class enemy"

"This meeting like the defense committee which sponsored it was an experiment in cooperation on a single issue of the class struggle, the defense of persecuted workers. No one can deny that it made a good showing. The hall was packed to the doors and the sentiment for unity on this theme, Militant unionists, communists, anarchists, syndicalists and socialists were represented on the platform as well as in the audience. The chief feature of the whole affair and the one that determined its enthusiastic spirit was the formal appearance of a united front. There is every reason for the partisans of the united front among whom we belong to regard the demonstration as a significant step forward."

This was the flowery language used by the "National Committee" members at their first attempt to form a tiny united front movement. We do not wish at this moment to go into the cause of the Marine Defense Committee and the manner in which the "National Committee" conducted their end of this united front. At the proper time we intend to show that in this affair the American League was forced to act as the red paint to cover the naked treachery and vicious adventurism of the Lovestone Right Wing group on the waterfront and that on no occasion did the American League leadership distinguish itself from the Right Wing elements in the Defense Committee. We do not wish to show here that the "National Committee" even tried to use the Defense Committee to build a sort of new labor defense body as a counterweight to the International Labor Defense, but what we do want to point out is that HERE WE HAVE THE "NATIONAL COMMITTEE" ITSELF DECLARING THAT A UNITED FRONT WITH THE RIGHT CAN BE FORMED ON A GIVEN ISSUE THAT WILL AROUSE MASSES AND REBUILD A MASS DEFENSE MOVEMENT ON CORRECT LINES AND REFORM THE PARTY IN SPITE OF THE PARTICIPATION OF THE RIGHT WING.

Since the American League is interested in self-criticism we would like to ask if the "National Committee" still believes it was correct not to form united front committees for the release of Morgenstern and Goodman, that it should not have participated in the united front called by the I.W.W. on the Centralia case and by the Socialist Party on the Mooney case. Does not the "National Committee" know that it was OUR GROUP ALONE THAT UPHELD THE MANNER OF THE LEFT OPPOSITION IN THESE CONFERENCES AND THAT WE ALONE FAUGHT THE RIGHT WING LOVESTONE GROUP? Constantly distorting the statements of Comrade Weisbord and going back to plain gossip for quotations from articles written before our group was organized, the "National Committee" uses this method to cover up all its errors on the united front work, errors that have cost the whole Left Opposition dearly and left the movement stagnant for a long time.

II. THE QUESTION OF MASS WORK.

On the question of mass work we do not wish to repeat what we have said in our reply to Comrade Trotsky but we cannot help noting the resistance on the part of the "National Committee" to this part of Comrade Trotsky's letter and to its lack of self-criticism when it blames its lack of mass work solely upon the lack of means. Always people have blamed their failure to do their duty upon "Lack of resources, the concrete situation of the moment, the relation of forces" etc. However, the "National Committee" actually goes much further than this. It declares in its statement: "We always considered the question as part and parcel of the means of the organization, its resources, the concrete situation of the moment, the relation of forces and ABOVE ALL THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPALS OF OUR FACTION"(our emphasis). What does this mean? It can only mean that if no mass work was done it was because mass work was against the "FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPALS OF OUR FACTION". It means that in the program of the American League and of the International Left Opposition, the "National Committee" has discovered "fundamental principals" which mitigated against its entrance into this or that phase of mass work. If this is not the essence of sterile sectarianism then we do not know what constitutes it in principle. We wish to remind the "National Committee" again of the words in the letter of Comrade Trotsky that declare: "The Left Opposition. puts forth propaganda not in a sectarian but in a Marxist manner, that is to say upon the basis of participation in all the life of the proletariat. " In this letter Comrade Trotsky intimated that if the American League had not done mass work we must remember that mass work depends upon NATURAL CAPACITY, EXPERIENCE, AND INITIATIVE. In this way Comrade Trotsky gave a characterization of the leadership of the American League by tracing to its roots why the American League had not engaged in mass work. It is too bad that the "National Committee" overlooked this warning.

We are happy to note that the "National Committee" has decided to make a turn in this direction. It is this that makes us feel even still more that a unification between both organizations should take place. It will be one of the contributions of our group to aid in this new turn.

The Communist League of Struggle is criticized for the actions of Comrade Weisbord in the Textile Unity Committee WHICH WAS CREATED AND WAS LIQUIDATED BEFORE OUR ORGANIZATION WAS FORMED, and which, by the way, never appeared or worked in Paterson. As for the Marine Case, our organization NEVER TOOK OFFICIAL ACTION UPON IT, nor were we ever asked to do so by the Defense Committee which, against the wishes of the prisoners actually prevented mail from reaching us, one of the members of the Defense Committee even stealing the mail from our letter box! We do not wish here to discuss these two matters. However we shall not let them drop. Once unification is effected, we shall demand a full hearing on the action of Comrade Weisbord on the Textile Unity Committee, and on the whole affair of the Marine Case.

We turn now to other questions mentioned in the statement of the "National Committee". The "National Committee" actually defends its turning over the names and addresses of its members and subscribers to the United States government. First of all the "National Committee" calls our criticism exaggerated and says this is a question of "second" or "tenth" order. Here we have a terribly patent example of the amateurishness of the "National Committee" an amateurishness that could lead to the veritable beheading of the movement. Is the question of the protection of the members of a vanguard Communist organization from the police a "secondary" question, or worse still, one of a "tenth" order? Even the slightest acquaintance with Leninism should teach one that THE CREATION OF AN ILLEGAL APPARATUS EVEN IN TIMES OF LEGALITY is a capital question. We shall not rest until this exposure of revolutionists to the U.S. capitalist government (which already has deported and removed over 100,000 "foreigners and reds" last year alone) is completely ended.

The "National Committee" defends their act by declaring: "He (meaning the Communist League of Struggle, note) could just as logically object to the filing of Communist petitions to put candidates on the ballot for they are signed with names and addresses by thousands of workers sympathetic with the radical movement." It seems that we must patiently explain to the "National Committee" that THOUSANDS OF WORKERS do not mean HUNDREDS OF COMMUNISTS, that in the one case the Communists are protected by the masses, in the other, the Communists are thoroughly exposed that in the one case we are dealing with the parliamentary illusions which the masses have so that there are different traditions concerning the ballot papers, on the other hand we are dealing with a DELIBERATE CONTRIVANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO CATCH THE VANGUARD that in the one case the workers know when they sign that the papers will be turned over to the State and for that very reason many workers refuse to sign, while in the other case, no one is told that their names, which in most cases they want kept secret, will be turned over to the State. Finally, if we do not get ballot papers signed we lose something very valuable, THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN while in the other case we lose ONLY A FEW CENTS.

The "National Committee" argues that this has been always done by the "labor movement." But the "National Committee" knows very well that the American League is not the broad labor movement but a small part of the Communist group, a narrow group especially attacked by the government. We do not wish to give the impression that our political estimate of the American situation is that we shall soon be driven underground, but we would be rank amateurs if not worse to facilitate the work of the U.S. government in registering and tracking down every Communist and sympathizer. It is true that when some of the members of the "National Committee" were at the head of the Communist Party and Young Communist League this was done also but when will the "National Committee" learn that the American League is not a reconstituted Cannon (or Shachtman) faction of the party but part of the International Left Opposition headed by L.D. Trotsky whose principles represent in the U.S. A BREAK WITH THE PAST?

We wish to emphasize this point. We shall fight in the sharpest manner against any theory that tells us we are only joining an enlarged and developed "Cannon (or Shachtman) faction." This is the best way to kill the Left Opposition in America. All of us who reach the principles of the Left Opposition can declare that in one way or another we were prepared by our past for our entrance into the left opposition. However it is not this phase that must be stressed, but rather how incorrect we were when we were in the Party, and how we now make a break from all the old bureaucratic methods of which we were more or less a part. This is the side that must be stressed, this is the honest critical way by which we can win the best workers of the Party to us.

Finally, the "National Committee" states: "We do not like the official regulation." Is it a matter of LIKES? Has the American League really protested against the regulations? Quite the contrary. When the U.S. government deprived the Class Struggle of second class mailing rights in May the Militant waited till July 18th, 1931 to say a word about it (months after the N.Y. Times, N.Y. World, the Nation, and even the Revolutionary Age of the Lovestone group) then the Militant hid the true issues of the case and declared that our paper was suspended anyway just at a time when we were going to press with our next issue. Not likes or dislikes but STRUGGLE determines events and incidentally the character of the "National Committee."

The second question which we have raised is the Negro question. We must not hide the fact that on this question the sharpest struggle can break out in the American Communist movement. The American League has been in existence over four whole years. In all this time it has seen fit to be quiet officially on such an important question as the Negro question in America. We declare this "quiet" is a token of rank white chauvinism. What kind of a question is it that its solution can be delayed for so long, that the "National Committee" can find time to solve this or that question but not the Negro question? Is it true that the "National Committee" was "studying" this question all the time? This is NOT TRUE. To whom did it assign this work in 1928, in 1929, in 1930, in 1931, in 1932? Why have they not brought in reports? If the matter is so serious this should be the reason for the greatest attention to be paid to it and full and open discussions held. But the "National Committee" seems to be too busy for this. Instead, the "National Committee" is carrying on a factional fight that, according to their own words, turned the last plenum into a "scene of the sharpest struggle" (see Internal Bulletin No. 1 pg. 2) over such "vital" questions as Why should Pasky, Gordon, and Clarke be accepted on the "National Committee" and what did Carter write on Engels in the Young Spartacus? We quote from the resolution presented by George Saul, a member of the American League: "Along its present lines, failing completely to consider the several political issues that have to do with the eradication of the barriers to further growth of the league (. Marxian analysis of the many social questions on which the League has not yet taken a stand, NEGRO QUESTION, agrarian question, etc). the present factional fight does not contain an answer to the needs of the League" (our emphasis).

There are some other questions which we do not wish to enter into now but which we shall take up when both organizations get together. We can not let go unchallenged the statement that the nucleus of our group originated in the Right Wing of the Party. We shall put to the membership the facts of how the "National Committee" broke collaboration with Comrades Weisbord, Buch and others and set up artificial barriers to drive them away from the Left Opposition. We shall demand that the American League go into the roots of the matter as to the raid on our headquarters and the protection of the culprits by the "National Committee."

Finally, we want to deal briefly with the statement that we have been guilty of "paltry maneuvers" instead of sincere offer's for unity. The charge is made that we have gone over the heads of the "National Committee" to the branches. This is positively not so, as the National Committee knows for we sent copies of all letters sent to the branches of the American League to the National Committee itself and asked for the cooperation of the National Committee. If we wrote to the branches and held an open meeting, it was because for months the National Committee never answered our letters, indeed some letters it never showed to the membership. Is it any wonder that we had to address the membership directly? In this connection we must expose the fact that the "National Committee" dared to order its membership not to attend our open meeting and threaten to expel those members attending. So great was the reaction of the membership to this typical Stalinist decree, reminiscent of the days of Lovestone, that the membership of the N.Y. Branch actually passed a motion CONDEMNING THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR WITHHOLDING THE DOCUMENTS AND ALL MATERIAL.

It is not for the "National Committee" to accuse us of "maneuvers." We retort that this itself is only a maneuver, a maneuver to side-track the discussion from principal ones raised by Comrade Trotsky to secondary ones. That the "National Committee" is capable of this, we get from their own writings. In their "Internal Bulletin No 1." the National Committee declared that a document submitted by Abern, Glotzer, and Schachtman was "filled with personal accusations and slanders" (pg 2) and the "National Committee" calls on the membership "to condemn and repudiate the unprincipled methods and this irresponsible trifling with the responsibilities of leadership" (pg 3). In Bulletin No. 2 "Shachtman, Abern, and Glotzer speaks a great deal about unity and the avoidance of faction struggle, but the contentions in the document and their motions since the plenum speak a different language" and again that Shachtman "poisoned the atmosphere" with his "foul accusations".

In "Bulletin No. 3" Shachtman accuses Cannon and Swaback of using language that is used by Stalin in inner party disputes and also of "underhanded insinuations" (pg 10) and on the same page he states that Cannon is guilty of "patent falsehoods" and of "frame-ups." On page 11 Shachtman writes: "It is very clear what Cannon is aiming at, I know it all too well. To TALK CONSTANTLY ABOUT "COLLABORATION" AND TO DO EVERYTHING TO RENDER IT AS DIFFICULT AS POSSIBLE IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE" (page 10-our emphasis). To feel that both Cannon and Shachtman and the other members of the National Committee should know each other very well by this time, far better than we know them. Can we be blamed for being cautious in our dealings and seeing to it that all the members know the issues directly ESPECIALLY WHEN THE LETTER OF COMRADE TROTSKY TO US WRITTEN IN MAY AND PRINTED IN GERMAN AND FRENCH WAS NOT PRINTED HERE UNTIL SEPTEMBER?

We feel that the charges of the National Committee to us on the question of "unity maneuvers" deserve that we print what George Saul stated in his resolution: "The truth is that neither has there been or is there at present enough genuine Bolshevik self-criticism within the League as a whole and within the National Committee of the League especially. There has been and is a shrinking from responsibilities, tailism instead of leadership, criticism in the other fellow instead of self-criticism, flippancy rather than persistency, sensitiveness that borders on childishness."

Here is the language that the leaders of the American League employ about each other. Here is expressed what they think of each other. Far from discouraging us, however, such an exposure of the true facts makes us only more determined to do all in our power to effect a fusion, SO AS TO SAVE THE INTERNATIONAL LEFT OPPOSITION IN AMERICA from disaster. We urge the "National Committee" not to delay our unification further.

We do not intend to let our fusion with the American League start such a factional fight, in spite of these statements of the "national Committee" so as to paralyze all work. Far from it. We are convinced that our fusion will mark the good growth of the League and place it on a new plane of development.

Let our joint committee's meet without delay. There exists no valid reason for continued separation of the two groups adhering to the International Left Opposition in America.

COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE
(adhering to the International Left Opposition)


Assessing revolutionary social democracy: A response to Duncan Hart

By Eric Blanc. First of all, I would like to thank Comrade Duncan Hart for his contribution “Lessons from Finland: Reply to Eric Blanc.” While I do not share its analysis, I agree that a serious discussion about the Finnish Revolution is useful for Marxists today. Though some of Hart’s criticisms of the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP) are well founded, I will argue below that his text fundamentally mischaracterizes the political stance of the SDP and its revolutionary social democratic leaders.

As such, Hart’s article does not help us come to a clearer analysis of Finnish (and German) “orthodox” Marxism, Finland’s 1917-18 revolution, or the lessons we can learn from this history. My forthcoming book goes into these questions in detail here, a few comments will have to suffice.

Contrary to what Hart implies, I never argued that the SDP leadership’s approach – or Karl Kautsky’s political strategy – should be “emulated” today. In fact, my “Lessons from Finland’s 1917 Revolution” (first published in Jacobin) consciously and explicitly highlighted not only the important strengths but also real limitations of revolutionary social democracy, namely an underestimation of mass action, a tendency to bend to moderate socialists, and an over-focus on the parliamentary arena.

In my view, there is no contradiction between making a balanced and nuanced assessment of “orthodox” Second International Marxism and upholding the best political traditions of Bolshevism. My hope is that once comrades like Hart and others move past the prevailing myths and critically examine the actual stance of early revolutionary social democracy they will see that the differences between this strategy and that of Lenin, Trotsky, and the pre-Stalinist Communist International are far less than they initially assumed.

Comrade Hart’s piece makes various unfounded assertions about the politics of the Finnish revolutionary social democrats (whom he somewhat misleading labels the party “Centre”) and their political strategy. At no point does he present us with any actual citations from the writings or speeches of SDP leaders during the revolution. Instead, as Hart himself stresses, he reiterates the analysis of a short August 1918 polemic by Otto Kuusinen, the former leader of the SDP “orthodox” Left who went on to become a founder of Finnish Communism.

Though some important insights can be gleaned from Kussinen’s 1918 piece, it is critical to keep in mind that this was a one-sided polemic published to win cadre to a new Communist Party. Moreover, it was written at a moment when Kuusinen adhered to Left Communism (which he mistakenly equated with Bolshevism). In August 1918, Kuusinen rejected parliamentary activity, trade union work, immediate and democratic demands, and tactical compromises – instead, he insisted that all Marxist work must be concentrated on armed struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Concerning the founding program of the Finnish Communist Party – also written by Kuusinen in August 1918 – historian Anthony Upton notes that the “Marxist observer will also perceive that this document is riddled with what Lenin later defined as ‘left-infantilism’.” Upton explains that the Finnish Communist Party later acknowledged that “it was a mistake to have condemned democracy in those terms and to have rejected all forms of non-revolutionary activity it accounts for the error as an overreaction to the experience of defeat and the still very imperfect understanding by the members of Bolshevik ideology.”[1] As such, there is no need for socialists today to base their critique of Finland’s revolution on Kuusinen’s ultra-left August 1918 polemic.

Neither Hart nor Kuusinen cite any primary documents to substantiate their assertions that the SDP Left advocated a reformist, fatalistic, gradualist strategy of socialist transformation. This is not surprising since the historical record does not support such claims. Early “orthodox” Marxism’s stance on the state was far more radical – and closer in letter and spirit to Lenin’s State and Revolution – than has usually been assumed. In an October 2016 article written for John Riddell’s blog, I demonstrated in detail the actual stances on the state and revolution shared by the Finnish revolutionary SDs and the early Karl Kautsky, i.e., prior to his steady turn to the right from 1910 onwards. (For space reasons, I wasn’t able in “Lessons from Finland” to delve into the critical distinction between Kautsky’s politics before and after 1910, but it must be underscored that it was the early revolutionary “orthodoxy” rather than later moderate approach that the SDP Left defended.)

Rather than reiterate the points made in my previous article, I will limit myself here to pointing out some of the more significant factual errors made by Comrade Hart. Following Kuusinen, Hart asserts that the SDP advocated purely peaceful tactics and opposed the axiom “through peaceful means if possible, but violent means if necessary.” In fact, the latter stance was literally the SDP Left’s explicit and longstanding position. Of many such quotations, consider the following case made by the mainstream SDP newspaper Kansan Lehti on November 11, 1917: “The conscious social-democratic workers have never admired violent occurrences. For us, civil war is particularly terrible. But social democracy cannot forbid its members from armed activity when things can no longer be solved otherwise.” [2]

That the SDP was not committed to purely peaceful means was made obvious not only by its push for armed insurrection in January 1918, but also by its earlier successful initiative in October 1917 to establish a national organization of Red Guards. Citing the radicalism of the Red Guards, Hart fails to mention that these bodies were affiliated to the SDP and the unions, were primarily composed of party members and cadre, and (despite some real ongoing organizational and political differences with the Guards) were actively defended by the top SDP “orthodox” leaders against the SDP Right and the Finnish bourgeoisie.

Comrade Hart asserts that “the SDP was hostile to revolution.” In actuality, Left SDP leaders throughout 1917-18 argued that a revolution in Finland would become an immediate possibility and necessity once peaceful, parliamentary means were no longer suitable. Even SDP leader Oskar Tokoi (who belonged to the wavering Centre of the party, rather than its “orthodox” Left) declared in a mid-October speech that workers have “other means of power besides the ballot to bring home their claims. It was necessary to stand firm, and fight for the victory of the revolution when the right moment had come.” [3]

One of the reasons that the SDP was particularly focused on parliamentary work for much of 1917 was that the February Revolution had completely destroyed any bourgeois armed apparatus for the Finnish elite. Because of this rather exceptional context, combined with the SDP’s parliamentary majority, it seemed that it might be possible to utilize the legitimacy and power of the existing parliament to push through burning economic and democratic reforms.

Thus while the SDP leadership was practically oriented to parliament, it simultaneously from February 1917 onwards fought hard against all attempts by Finland’s upper class to rearm itself. Kuusinen himself noted this exceptional dynamic in his 1918 piece: “At this moment the path of parliamentary democracy seemed cleared to an extraordinary extent, and wide vistas opened themselves out before our working-class movement.”[4] It was precisely to escape this dangerous situation that the Finnish bourgeoisie successfully convinced the Russian Provisional Government in the summer to dissolve Finland’s democratically-elected parliament, with the support of the moderate socialists in Russia.

Comrade Hart asserts that the SDP adhered to a “passive and fatalistic attitude to pushing forward the class struggle.” But in fact political fatalism was explicitly rejected by the SDP leadership and Kautsky alike. The Finnish Social Democracy adhered to the “tried and tested” strategy of Marxist “orthodoxy” in which the party would accumulate strength for the final battle primarily by spreading the socialist message and building proletarian organizations. As I noted in my “Lessons from Finland,” this strategy problematically entailed prioritizing education and organization more than mass action. But it was hardly a “passive” approach.

Moreover, the Finnish SDP – unlike the bureaucratized German Social Democracy – did initiate and support mass actions at critical junctures throughout 1917-18. In addition to building various mass demonstrations, SDP leaders called the November general strike that brought workers to the edge of conquering power. The strike call declared that it was necessary for workers to take “the mass action route” to win their demands. [5] As Rosa Luxemburg had justifiably argued since 1905, a socialist party’s approach to mass strikes was a critical test of its revolutionary credentials. I don’t see how one can plausibly square the fact that the SDP launched a general strike in November and an armed uprising in January 1918 (discussed below), with claims about the party’s purported fatalism.

The one major piece of solid evidence Hart puts forward to substantiate his critique is that the SDP didn’t take power in November 1917. I also highlighted in my article that this was a missed opportunity. But, as always, a sense of context and critical balance is necessary. Since my “Lessons from Finland”and Hart’s contribution both make a case for why November was most likely the best moment for revolution, here it is more useful to lay out a few of the reasons that the SDP Left did not attempt to seize power during the general strike.[6]

The degree to which the hesitancy of the SDP “orthodox” leaders in November was rooted in their strategic conceptions is difficult to gauge precisely. The SDP Left’s focus on parliament, and its relative lack of mass action traditions, certainly contributed to a tendency to stick with the parliamentary arena at a moment when this was arguably already politically anachronistic. But there were other key contextual and conjunctural factors that weighed just as heavy.

Much of the hesitancy of Kuusinen’s Left wing of the party leadership reflected a desire to prevent a potentially debilitating party split. Contrary to Hart’s assertions, the revolutionary social democrats did not have a decisive majority in the party leadership. Between the orthodox Left and the intransigent Right minority, there was a broad and wavering Centre. In late October and early November Kuusinen had raised the possibility of seizing power, but he temporarily backed down in the face of the strident opposition of more than half the top party leadership to this call. Given that fact, Kuusinen felt during the November general strike that it was premature to attempt to seize power, since this would certainly result in a party split. In his view, such an organizational rupture would be potentially fatal for the proletarian uprising, leading the most radicalized wing of workers to confront the bourgeoisie without the backing of the rest of the organized workers’ movement.

For the most part I think that Kuusinen’s tendency to politically compromise with moderate socialists to preserve organizational unity was a mistake. That said, it must be acknowledged that a split down the middle of the SDP at a moment of insurrection may indeed have prevented Finnish workers from seizing and/or holding onto power. We’ll never know. And though it is far from evident that the benefits of preventing a party rupture outweighed the costs of delaying the revolution, the plausibility of the SDP Left’s approach was nevertheless manifest over the two months following the general strike. In a rapidly polarizing political context, Kuusinen’s wing had by late January 1918 isolated the SDP Right, won over the Centre, and cemented an alliance with Red Guards. In so doing, the “orthodox” Left was able to win the party and the unions as a whole to fight for power.

Furthermore, it is important to highlight that many of the SDP Centre and Left’s hesitations in November were rooted in real-world uncertainties about the rapidly evolving political situation. An analogous debate, it merits mention, wracked the Bolsheviks in the fall of 1917 in Petrograd. Bolsheviks had at various moments in 1917 sought to prevent what they considered to be a premature seizure of power. And in many parts of the empire the Bolsheviks did not attempt to take revolutionary action in October given what they saw as the still-unripe conditions on the ground – in Baku, for instance, the party waited until March 1918 to take power. Ideology, in this sense, was necessarily only one factor in determining Marxist practices at any given moment. No matter how revolutionary one’s politics, wagering on the most opportune moment for insurrection was an extremely challenging task.

Apart from the aforementioned issues of party unity, of the questions that weighed on the minds of all Finnish party cadre seriously considering the prospects of revolution, the following were most prominent: How would the stationed Russian soldiers react to a Finnish workers’ uprising? Did Finland’s working people have enough weapons to take power and hold on to it? If Finland went down the revolutionary road, would the German government intervene or invade? Could the new Soviet government in Petrograd last more than a few days or weeks? And would it be able to provide armed support for Finnish workers? Of course, the responses SDP leaders gave to these questions were shaped by their particular political perspectives. Yet the difficulty of reading – and wagering on – the concrete empirical situation was certainly no less important. The bloody course of Finland’s Civil War would demonstrate that many of the these questions concerned very real social and political challenges that were not so easily overcome.

Though I agree that (in hindsight) November 1917 was the most favorable moment for insurrection in Finland, Hart exaggerates the extent to which this was the case. Some points to keep in mind: In both November and later months, the overwhelming bulk of Russian soldiers were opposed to directly participating in Finland’s revolution their presence one way or the other wasn’t ever a decisive factor. Similarly, the first major military defeat of the Finnish Reds (the March 1918 “Battle of Tampere”), a critical turning point in the Civil War, came before Germany’s invasion in April 1918.

It is an exaggeration to claim that “the bourgeoisie was entirely on the defensive” in November 1917– the general strike itself was initiated largely in response to the Finnish bourgeoisie’s deepening activities to build up a new military apparatus. By January 1918, the upper class no doubt had more time to cohere its armed forces, but so did the workers (whose Red Guards in November were rather poorly organized). Unlike in November, the party and mass workers’ organizations in January 1918 were overwhelmingly in favor of revolution. In the interim, however, the workers certainly lost some significant forward momentum and the bourgeoisie gained some (as well as more arms and organizational cohesion).

On the whole, while November was likely the most favorable moment for revolution, this shouldn’t be overstated. In any case, such political developments are far clearer from today’s vantage point than they were at that moment. There was no way of knowing during the November general strike whether a more favorable moment for taking power might subsequently present itself.

That the Reds lost in Finland’s Civil War does not as such constitute “a searing indictment” of the Finnish “orthodox” social democrats or revolutionary social democracy generally. By this criteria, we should also condemn Bolshevism, since its 1917-18 governments in Latvia, Estonia, and Baku were similarly defeated. Furthermore, the Bolsheviks as a whole were eventually vanquished by the Stalinist counter-revolution. Adhering to revolutionary politics, unfortunately, does not automatically guarantee political victory.

A final point: it is inaccurate for Comrade Hart to assert that the supposedly non-revolutionary SDP was “propelled” by circumstances into making a revolution for “self-preservation.” The “unique situation” of the SDP’s “lack of inclusion in the institutions of the state” was not an accident of history, but the direct result of years of “orthodox” Marxist class intransigence against the corporatist project of Finnish nationalism. In 1917, this took the form of specific revolutionary initiatives: in the Summer of 1917 the SDP Left set into motion the break-up of the Finnish Popular Front government by taking the revolutionary step of unilaterally declaring Finland to be sovereign against the Russian regime. In the wake of this clash (and the subsequent Finnish-Russian dissolution of parliament), the SDP ordered its Right and Centre ministers to leave the Finnish government soon after, the SDP and its associated labor unions began building up Red Guards to counter the bourgeois offensive. Without these actions, the situation in late 1917 would have been entirely different.

And throughout the Fall of 1917 and early 1918 there were still numerous opportunities for the SDP leadership to reverse course and pull back from revolution. “Self-preservation” along these lines is precisely what the SDP Right stridently demanded of the party from November onwards: condemn Red Guard violence/anarchy, and reestablish a socialist-liberal bloc, so as to prevent an anti-capitalist rupture. The Finnish revolutionary SDs, not without some significant wavering along the way, consciously rejected this stance and instead fought a difficult factional battle in December and January to isolate the SDP’s moderate parliamentarist wing, make an alliance with the Red Guard radicals (whom they successfully incorporated into the top party leadership in January), and seize power. Nothing was inevitable about this outcome.

Though there is no need to place an equal sign between the two revolutions and their political leaderships, the fact remains that the October Revolution too was in large part a defensive act against counter-revolution – indeed, it was framed as such by the Bolsheviks and largely supported from below on these grounds.[7] In the class struggle, as in war, the line between defensive and offensive actions, if it existed at all, was often extremely blurry. Casting the blame on the bourgeoisie for the onset of civil war was both accurate enough and smart tactics for winning over those workers (and wavering cadre) hesitant to support a revolutionary insurrection. Adhering to such an approach did not mean the Finnish SDP was somehow unwittingly led by circumstances to make a revolution against its will.

Given Hart’s criticism of “fatalism,” it is ironic that he claims that a “passive” SDP could be “propelled” by the objective context into overthrowing the capitalist state. Such a deeply fatalistic analysis ignores the decisive importance of revolutionary leadership, of the subjective factor of party intervention, in making possible a workers’ seizure of power. The general role of class-collaborationist Social Democrats and labor bureaucracies historically has been to actively prevent anti-capitalist ruptures, not passively lead them. In Germany, the SPD crushed the workers’ revolution – in Finland, the revolutionary SDs led it.

Explaining how and why the Finnish SDP guided workers to power in 1917-1918 requires that we understand the actual politics of “orthodox” Second International Marxism, with all its strengths and weaknesses. It seems to me well past time to acknowledge that revolutionary social democracy was politically far closer to the stance of Bolshevism and the early Comintern than it was to the class-collaborationism of the German SPD officialdom and its bureaucratic counterparts across Europe. In other words, the political “cousins” of the Finnish SDs were the Bolsheviks, not – as Hart asserts – the Western reformists.

Notes

[1] Anthony F. Upton, The Communist Parties of Scandinavia and Finland (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973), 116.

[2] Cited in Sami Suodenjoki and Jarmo Peltola, Köyhä Suomen kansa katkoo kahleitansa: luokka, liike ja yhteiskunta 1880-1918 (Tampere: Tampere University Press, 2007), 244.

[3] Cited in Henning Söderhjelm, The Red Insurrection in Finland in 1918, translated by A.I. Fausbøll (Harrison & Sons: London, 1919), 30.

[4] Otto Kuusinen, The Finnish Revolution: A Self-Criticism (London: Workers’ Socialist Federation, 1919), 2.

[5] Cited in Suodenjoki and Jarmo Peltola, 246.

[6] Readers interested in a critical and extremely detailed account of the SDP Left during the November strike, and the revolution generally, can consult Maurice Carrez, La fabrique d’un révolutionnaire, Otto Wilhelm Kuusinen: 1881-1918: réflexions sur l’engagement politique d’un dirigeant social-démocrate finlandais (Toulouse: Université de Toulouse le Mirail, 2008).

[7] See, for example, Rex A. Wade, “‘All Power to the Soviets’: The Bolsheviks Take Power,” in Revolutionary Russia: New Approaches (New York: Routledge, 2004).


10. The Labour Party during the Second World War

IT IS A commonly held myth that the Second World War was a ‘People’s War’ against fascism, which rose above class interests. Like the First World War, however, it was an imperialist conflict. Although fascism was just one particular form of capitalism, this did not mean that socialists could afford to be indifferent to its threats to bourgeois democracy. That would have been dangerously ultra-left. [1*]

Many of the freedoms which bourgeois democracy allows are the fruits of past workers’ struggle. Such things as the right to organise in trade unions, hold demonstrations or publish and sell newspapers, weigh little when set against the economic enslavement of the working class, but they can be invaluable weapons in building the mass movement towards the point where capitalism can be overthrown.

However the Second World War was not a struggle of bourgeois democracy versus fascism. The ruthless suppression of movements for colonial liberation by the rulers of France and Britain, the policy of non-intervention which had allowed unrestricted fascist supplies to Franco, and the cold-blooded carving up of Europe after the war, all pointed in the same direction.

This war was indeed an imperialist one. The threat to the workers’ movement and to the human race represented by modern capitalist militarism – of which fascism was but one guise – would in no way be ended by the victory of the Allies. Then, as now, the only real solution was successful workers’ revolution. It was the task of socialists to build towards this revolution and against their capitalist rulers.

Needless to say, such considerations never entered the minds of the labour bureaucrats. In May 1940 the Labour Party joined a coalition government led by Winston Churchill. The party executive agreed to this with only one dissenting voice. The Labour Party Conference endorsed it by 2,413,000 votes to 170,000. Opposition came only from pacifists, a few Trotskyists and some fellow-travellers of the Communist Party, which at that time declared the war to be an imperialist war. In the Commons only two ILP MPs, Jimmy Maxton and Campbell Stephen, opposed a vote of confidence in the new government.

There was a clear division of tasks in the coalition. When it concerned fighting for the interests of capitalism abroad, the choice was Churchill, the Tory leader. But when it came to containing the class struggle at home, Labour had the advantage. That was why Ernest Bevin was made minister of labour and Herbert Morrison, home secretary. (Of course Labour was not entrusted with control of the purse-strings. A Tory, Kingsley Wood, was chancellor of the exchequer.)

The value of this arrangement was soon obvious. One of Bevin’s first acts as minister was the passing of the Emergency Powers Act of May 1940, endowing his office with virtually dictatorial powers to conscript labour. Attlee explained:

The Minister of Labour will be given power to direct any person to perform any services required of him . The Minister will be able to prescribe the terms of remuneration, the hours of labour, the conditions of service. [1]

Had the Tories attempted this alone the resistance might have been extensive. Instead only a handful of Labour MPs raised any queries. One was David Kirkwood who probably remembered his jail experience in the last ‘war to end all wars’ of 1914󈝾: ‘Am I in a position to say that if Labour is conscripted, so will wealth be conscripted?’ The Bill passed unanimously without any amendments.

On 4 June 1940, a joint consultative committee composed equally of employers and TUC representatives agreed that for the duration of the war strikes and lockouts would be banned and arbitration would be binding in their place. This agreement was embodied in Bevin’s Order 1305 which regulated industrial relations until 1945.

Order 1305 did not aim to arrest recalcitrant workers, since this was impossible on a mass scale. The effect of declaring a strike illegal was largely to strengthen the power of union officials over the members. Nevertheless, during the war 2,200 breaches of Order 1305 were reported leading to the prosecution of 6,281 people, of whom 5,100 were convicted. (Proceedings were taken against groups of workers 109 times, against employers just twice.) [2]

With the rising wave of strikes at the end of 1943 and beginning of 1944, Bevin wanted a much harsher measure than Order 1305. His speech of 4 April 1944 startled his audience when he said that the whole conciliation machinery was in danger of being wrecked by striking miners:

What has happened this week in Yorkshire is worse than if Hitler had bombed Sheffield and cut our communications. It is the most tragic thing that in Britain you can do more harm by thoughtless action and lack of discipline than your enemy can do to you. [3]

Bevin received full support from the TUC General Council in driving the miners back to work. It was as a result of this crisis that Regulation 1AA emerged to strengthen the authorities against ‘anyone who attempted to foment or exploit a strike in an essential service. The penalty for incitement was raised to a maximum of five years’ penal servitude or a fine of 𧺬 or both.’ [4]

Despite the support of the General Council, there was resistance to Regulation 1AA at the TUC Congress itself. Reference back of the General Council statement was only defeated by 3,686,000 to 2,802,000. [5] The law would in fact have been powerless against a united workforce, but the new Regulation was used mainly as a psychological threat. It was never used in practice before its withdrawal in May 1945.

The government shows its true colours

Another area in which the government showed its real nature was that of the repeal, or at least amendment, of that notorious act of revenge for the General Strike – the Trades Disputes Act. From early 1940 the TUC pleaded in vain for its repeal. Eventually Churchill wrote stating that this was impossible during the war.

I am convinced that to propose to Parliament repeal or even modification of this Act would start a controversial discussion which might well develop into difficulties which will hamper our war effort. [6]

A TUC delegation discovered ‘that the decision which had been come to was a decision of the whole Cabinet – which rather startled us.’ [7] The 1943 Labour Conference added its voice for repeal. But when it appeared that Attlee, Bevin and Morrison were willing to enforce the punitive provisions of the Act against the civil servants the campaign folded. Other issues that aroused anger were the detested means test and miserly pensions. [2*]

The reactionary character of the government showed itself not only in home policy, but in foreign policy.

Let us start with Britain’s attitude to India. With the entry of Japan into the war on 7 December 1941, the question of winning the support of Indian political parties for the British war against the advancing Japanese became very important. For a long time Churchill made it clear that he was against the independence of India. In 1941 he declared that the Atlantic Charter, with its promise of self-determination of peoples, applied primarily to Europe. [9] On 22 March 1942, Cripps was sent to India to pacify Indian Congress Party leaders who refused to support the war unless India was granted independence.

It was transparently a mere manoeuvre, prompted by the new danger to the subcontinent from the Japanese. Cripps offered the Cabinet’s promise of full independence after the war. Mahatma Gandhi, with justice, refused to accept what he called a ‘post-dated cheque’. [10]

In August 1942 the Indian Congress Party began civil disobedience to force the British to quit India. Gandhi, Nehru and other Congress leaders were arrested, with Cripps’ approval. Attlee chaired the cabinet meeting which approved the detention of these leaders. When this was revealed in the Commons, Aneurin Bevan shouted, ‘Then they ought to be ashamed of themselves. They do not represent us.’ [11] British repression led to nearly 1,000 people being killed by November 1942. This was followed by a famine in Bengal that cost the lives of as many as one and a half million. On 20 November Churchill restated his aim to preserve the empire. ‘I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.’ [12]

Another example of reactionary foreign policy was the affair of Admiral Darlan who, after Petain and Laval, was the most notorious collaborator with the Nazis in the French Vichy government, formed under German occupation. On 8 November 1942 US and British troops landed in Morocco and Algeria and prepared to move towards Tunisia. There was opposition from the Vichy French, but suddenly, when it was clear that the Allies were winning in North Africa, Admiral Darlan, who was visiting the area, turned round and joined the Allies. He was welcomed with open arms, as though there was nothing to forgive.

As the allies moved forward to victory, such cases would often arise, and with them renewed suspicion that Churchill wanted, not a New Order in Europe, based on the Resistance movements, but a return to the Old Order presided over by monarchs, industrialists and military men, whether or not they had collaborated. Even on the right, many were sickened by the respect now shown for a man who had associated so closely with Petain and Laval. [13]

Nye Bevan led the protest, writing:

What kind of Europe have we in mind? One built by rats for rats? It may appear to some people a very clever idea to seduce and beguile these men who owe their power to hurt us to their having been the jackals of our enemies but it does not bear that appearance to the millions of oppressed men and women in Europe to whom we look for help in our offensive against Germany. Are they to be expected to face torture, imprisonment and death so that the authors of their calamities may be feted by us? [14]

A new chapter of infamy started with the entry of US and British troops into Italy. On 25 July 1943, a coup overthrew the Italian fascist dictator Mussolini. He was replaced by the former Italian Commander in Chief in Ethiopia, Marshal Badoglio, who soon turned towards the Allies. The coup against Mussolini took place against the background of a huge strike wave, which swept Milan, Turin and other parts of Northern Italy.

Bevan won a parliamentary debate against government resistance and managed to touch a raw nerve, coming close to exposing the imperialist character of the war. Bevan began by reciting, amidst ever angrier interruptions, the speech which Churchill had delivered on a visit to Rome in 1927:

I could not help being charmed, like so many other people have been, by Signor Mussolini’s gentle and simple bearing and by his calm, detached pose, in spite of so many burdens and dangers . Anyone could see that he thought of nothing but the lasting good, as he understood it, of the Italian people, and that no lesser interest was of the slightest consequence to him.

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 .

Let us make no mistake about this . There are many Members in the House who have no complaint against Fascism, except when it is strong enough to threaten them . There was no complaint either against Italy or against all her sins and vices. The whole Fascist setup was supported by a majority of this House . [15]

Another disgusting chapter in British foreign policy occurred when, in October 1944, the Germans withdrew from Greece. Churchill sent the British army to fill the vacuum and prevent a takeover by the Communist-dominated resistance movement, EAM. Churchill went to Moscow to clear the issue with Stalin. They discussed the division of spheres of influence among the Allies. Churchill jotted down on a half sheet of paper his ideas for the relative degree of control by the Great Powers in the Balkans as follows:

Rumania: Russia 90%, others 10%.
Greece: Great Britain (in accord with USA) 90%,Russia 10%.
Yugoslavia: 50󈞞.
Hungary: 50󈞞.
Bulgaria: Russia 75%, others 25%.

Stalin took his blue pencil and made a large tick upon it. [16] Churchill’s instruction to the British army was to ‘treat Athens like a conquered city’ and within a month it was fighting the EAM, which had carried the main burden of the struggle against the Nazis in Greece. Stalin, as good as his word, stood by while 60,000 British troops turned on the Communists. In the House of Commons a motion of censure was moved by Seymour Cox of the Tribune group but was lost by 279 to 30, with the official Parliamentary Labour Party abstaining. [17]

At the Labour Party Conference the following week, many agreed with the left’s outrage at the Greek events. But the leadership had put its prestige on the line over this issue. Wielding the union block vote given ‘out of loyalty rather than conviction’ the party executive won by 2,455,000 votes to 137,000 [18]

As a gauge of the constituency delegates’ mood, one could point to the result of the elections for constituency party members on the executive. Harold Laski, a strong critic of the party leaders but not an MP, came top Emmanuel Shinwell, a strong critic inside the House of Commons, came second and most significant of all, Nye Bevan, standing for the first time, secured the fifth place out of seven.

The Labour left’s illusions in the coalition government

When the coalition government was formed the Tories had an overwhelming majority in parliament and took the lion’s share of cabinet posts. In view of this it seems amazing that the left of the Labour Party should imagine the government would implement numerous progressive measures. How could anyone believe that prime minister Winston Churchill with a 30-year record as ruling-class bloodhound, was the modern saviour? He had been responsible for the repression of miners at Tonypandy before the First World War, organiser of intervention against Bolshevik Russia, and most vicious opponent of the 1926 General Strike.

No Tory politician had illusions that the Churchill government would introduce measures of a socialist nature, but Nye Bevan, Laski and Co were full of this idea the logic of the war, the need for victory, would lead Churchill to see the light. Utopian irrationalism took the place of a rational explanation of class interests and motivation. George Orwell noted in his diary on 20 June 1940:

I don’t think he [Churchill] would jib at any step (e.g., equalisation of incomes, independence for India) which he thought necessary for winning the war.

Well, if only we could hold for a few months, in a year’s time we shall see red militia billeted in the Ritz, and it would not particularly surprise me to see Churchill or Lloyd George at the head of them. [19]

On 1 June 1940 Laski declared the democratic revolution had begun: ‘We cannot actually achieve socialism during the war, but we can institute a whole series of Government controls which after the war may be used for Socialist ends.’ [20]

John Strachey, his biographer tells us, regarded criticism of Churchill as ‘scarcely conceivable’ [21], and Bevan said: ‘I yield to no one in my personal admiration of the Prime Minister’s qualities.’ [22]

The most extreme case of adoration was the book Guilty Men by Cato, published in 1940. Cato was the pseudonym for several authors, including Frank Owen and Michael Foot. [3*] To bring into relief the strength of Churchill, the book exposes the pacifism of Ramsay MacDonald. MacDonald neglected the equipment of the armed forces. ‘He had been a pacifist in 1914󈝿 and therefore felt no anxieties about the strength of the Air Force.’ [23] MacDonald and Baldwin

found us at the end of a great war, wounded indeed and weary, but victorious, confident of solving our manifold problems and capable of doing so. MacDonald and Baldwin took over a great empire, supreme in arms and secure in liberty. They conducted it to the edge of national annihilation. [24]

But now salvation was at hand:

In Mr Churchill as premier, and in his three service supply chiefs, Ernest Bevin, Herbert Morrison, and Lord Beaverbrook (to name only four) we have an assurance that all that is within the range of human achievement will be done to make this island ‘a fortress’. [25]

In the Popular Front vice

If the leadership of the Labour Party during the war was the complete prisoner of social patriotism, the Labour Left was the prisoner of Popular Frontism. Its arguments for reforms, for social change, were always in terms of the national interest. In the pages of Tribune for example, Nye Bevan wrote: ‘If the Tory members of the Government carry their defence of private property rights to the extent of refusing the public ownership [of land, mines and railways] then we shall lose the war.’ [26] The class-nation synthesis, which is the essence of reformism, applied to the Left as much as to the right.

A central theme in Tribune from 1941 onwards was that the profit system impeded the war effort, that national needs called for the power of capital to be restricted. Again and again the call for nationalisation, of mines or railways, was put forward in the name not of working-class interests, but of the national interest. Thus Bevan’s argument for raising the old age pension was:

It is most important for maintaining national unity and morale at the present time.

We are very anxious to preserve the façade of national unity for a year or so because we are still going to face great military adventures. Why do Hon. Members not help us to preserve it? [27]

Even when Bevan was most critical of the coalition government he still did not see its policy as an inevitable outcome of the class which dominated it. For instance he wrote:

Labour has brought about no change of importance on the economic front . Why is this? There is no reason why it should be so . If Labour insisted upon it, if Labour demands, that the railways shall be nationalised as an essential step towards the successful prosecution of the war, no vested interest would dare raise any objection. [28]

The main crime of the ruling class, it seemed, was not exploitation but incompetence. Bevan criticised Churchill, not as a defender of ruling-class power, but for his failure to agree that ‘ There is one dominant consideration and that is to win the war. Property as well as men should be commandeered by the state.’ [29]

While the Tribune Group was still following the Popular Front policy it adopted before the war, there were some crucial differences.

In the 1930s the Socialist League and the Tribune Group shadowed the Communist Party. Those links were gone. Mixed with Laski’s references to Russia as a ‘socialist commonwealth’ [29a], and G.D.H. Cole’s suggestion that ‘the best solution for Germany might be in co-operation in an enlarged USSR’ [30], were other statements very critical of Russia. Thus Raymond Postgate, editor of Tribune, could write a few months before the Nazi invasion of Russia:

Just as I would have nothing to do with Himmler, Ley or the Commandant of Dachau Camp, nor believe a word they say, so I will have nothing personally or politically to do with Communist Party chiefs, nor sit on Committees, nor attend meetings where I might have to meet them, nor pay any attention to propaganda that they start. [31]

A few months before the end of the war an editorial in Tribune stated: ‘The Soviet Union wishes to carve up Eastern Germany in order to have her own Quisling Government in Poland. That, of course, is naked power politics.’ [32]

Although Tribune opposed the Communist Party’s extreme anti-German chauvinism it did not advocate a policy of ‘neither Washington nor Moscow’ but ‘both Washington and Moscow’: the bridge between the two powers could be strengthened by small nations and the United Nations.

Thus an editorial in Tribune welcomed the ‘Yalta conference of Britain, Russia and the USA’. This met on 11 February 1945. It was the last blaze of mutual harmony among the Allies. It was also one of the most coldly calculated imperialist meetings since the Versailles Conference in 1919. [33]

But despite its illusions, the Labour left became differentiated from the mainstream. When reality obviously failed to match the Popular Front icon, doubts surfaced. Failures on the military front in 1942 led Tribune to print the headline, ‘War Office: Architect of Defeat’. [34] The impact of the fall of Tobruk, when Rommel captured 33,000 prisoners, was so great that in a parliamentary by-election the solid Tory seat of Malden was lost to Tom Driberg, a left-wing socialist standing as an Independent.

Even arch-right-wingers like Lord Beaverbrook began intriguing to get rid of Churchill. [35] In July Sir John Wardlow Milne, an influential backbench Conservative and chairman of the All-Party Select Committee on National Expenditure, moved censure on the Government and ‘no confidence in the central direction of the war.’ The seconder was a Tory Admiral of the Fleet.

The second morning of the debate was opened by Bevan with a massive attack on the government, on the War Office, on the generals: the main strategy of the war was wrong. The wrong weapons had been produced, and those weapons were managed by men not properly trained in their use. [36] The cross-party opposition, however, mustered only 25 votes against 475 for the government.

A few weeks after this debate Bevan launched an even more vigorous attack on Churchill: ‘. the Prime Minister’s continuation in office is a major national disaster. He is no longer able to summon the spirit of the British people, because he represents policies that they deeply distrust.’ [37]

Bevan and the Tribune Group did question the effectiveness of Labour’s parliamentary strategy, yet they did so from within a shared premise about the centrality of parliamentary politics and the need for national unity and defence. The Popular Front policy in the 1930s strengthened the reformism of the Labour Left. Even after the Communist Party ceased to influence it, the politics of Stalinism, the muddledness and crudity of its ‘Marxism’ continued to mould left Labour thinking. This continued in different forms throughout the 1950s and beyond.

It was impossible for the Labour left to be consistent. Support of the ‘war for democracy’ did not square with Britain allying itself with semi-fascist and reactionary regimes. Labour was a member of the coalition government that allowed a most reactionary home as well as foreign policy. This implicated the party in the brutal suppression of the Indian people, and collaboration with the likes of Admiral Darlan and Marshal Badoglio. Such a policy made a mockery of progressive aims. The Labour left never resolved its conflict of loyalty between principles and being inside a party that is not in opposition but in government.

The extraordinary contrasts and shifts of the left during the war years stemmed from a desire to defeat fascism which sometimes led them to suggest ways of waging the war which would only have been possible for a revolutionary workers’ government. But their attempt to fit workers’ demands within the framework of the national capitalist state continually led them to fall back on talk of cross-class alliances, and therefore into a position where workers were subordinated to the needs of British imperialism.

Towards the summit of reformism

Under capitalism crisis can take many forms. The slump of the 1930s was one form. The Second World War was another. It is through capitalist crisis, when ‘normal’ society is dislocated and classes are forced to rethink their positions, that fundamental change can occur. The result is by no means automatic – change can mean descent into fascism, but it can mean many other things too.

The Second World War, like the first, created full employment. It also showed that unlike the parasitic capitalists, the working class are the real productive force in society. In the late 1930s workers had already begun to flex their collective muscles after the long sleep. Now the war, through its multitude of large and small transformations in daily life, gave them a new confidence and militancy.

One aspect was particularly galling. Although Labour participation in government was supposed to show that all classes were in the war effort on an equal footing, workers could not help noticing that, in Rosa Luxemburg’s phrase: ‘profits are springing, like weeds, from the fields of the dead.’ [38] There was profiteering and the black market. Fortunes were made. One author recounted

that he had been auditing the accounts of a builders’ merchant who had earned a thousand pounds a year from his business before the war, but in the last year had drawn over fifteen thousand pounds in director’s fees – this for a small firm employing half a dozen people. The same accountant spoke of two war factories where the auditors had insisted on paying out the wages themselves, and had found that hundreds of pounds were reaching the firms in respect of non-existent workers.

These tales were not the carefully selected ammunition of a lonely red revolutionary. The buses, and even the newspapers, were noisy with such anecdotes. [39]

The profiteering was of course a symptom. The wartime government policies meant an increase in the rate at which workers were being exploited, and while their so-called leaders were willing to turn a blind eye to this, workers were not. One aspect of their response was increasing organisation. Trade union membership, which had been in the region of four and a half million before the war, approached seven million by its end. Even more significant were the strikes, which all involved unofficial, rank and file action, independent of the union bureaucracy:

The 3,714,000 strike days of 1944 were not only higher than the decade preceding the war, they were only surpassed again in 1955. Two-thirds of the strike days came from the coal industry, the highest figure since 1932, while the number of strikes, 2,194, was the highest since records began.

A historian of the period compared the strike levels in the Second World War with those of the first:

Taking the yearly average for the two periods 1939� and 1914� the number of stoppp. was 1,527 as compared to 814 – in both wars the greatest number occurring during the last year of hostilities. On the other hand, the number of workers directly or indirectly involved in stoppp. of work was smaller in the Second World War – 480,000 as compared with 632,000 in the earlier war. Secondly, the aggregate number of days lost was only 1,900,000 by contrast with 5,360,000 between 1914 and 1918, as most of the stoppp. were of relatively short duration. [41]

The Second World War, unlike the first, had not interrupted a period of titanic class conflict or been influenced by Bolshevism. It followed years of working-class passivity. It claimed to be conquering the evils of fascism. And from 1941 the Communist Party, now at the height of its influence, put its efforts into preventing strikes. Crucially, the Second World War produced nothing like the onslaught on working-class standards that had been experienced in the first.

Nevertheless there were important disputes, including engineering apprentices, shipyard workers and many others. One important struggle was against the conscription of young men into the mines – the ‘Bevin boys’. [4*] In another 30,000 Belfast workers struck against the imprisonment of five of their shop stewards.

But the most strike-prone industry was undoubtedly mining, the outstanding stoppage being at Betteshanger colliery in Kent. In January 1942 its 1,620 miners went on strike over a wage claim. Three branch officials were sentenced to imprisonment because of the strike, and others were fined but refused to pay. It was soon obvious that there was no way to imprison a thousand miners. The home secretary decided to recommend remission of the sentences on the three officials, so they were freed. By May 1942 only nine of the miners had paid their fines. The miners won their wage claim. Spectacular though it was, Betteshanger was just one miners’ strike among many even larger affairs:

in the whole year 1944 the number involved in mining disputes were no less than 568,000. The duration in working days of all disputes that year was 2,480,000, a figure that had only once been exceeded in the previous seventeen years. But a still more significant figure is the number of disputes, big and small. There were no less than 1,253 disputes in 1944, half as many again as in the preceding year, 1943, which year had the highest total of disputes since the beginning of the century. [43]

The impact of class struggle on the left

The role of the Labour left, which had only recently conflicted so seriously with the leadership, is interesting. One instance during 1944 was Nye Bevan’s trip to a miners’ strike in South Wales:

to urge the men first to accept the original award, whatever the anomalies, and later to call off their unofficial strike action. He went to the second round of meetings following a pressing private appeal from Ernest Bevin himself. Other MPs from the mining areas had done the same. [44]

Although the Labour left were not prepared to advance working class self-activity, they did try to halt government intervention against it. Thus Labour backbenchers stormily rebelled against Regulation 1AA. Spearheading the attack, Bevan accused Bevin of working up a campaign of calumny against the miners through the press, and trying to cover up the failure of the government’s industrial policy, especially in the mines, by starting a witch-hunt against agitators:

Cartoons in the public press and articles written by highly-paid propagandists in the millionaire newspapers made our task almost impossible when we went to address meetings in the coalfields. The miners came out on strike because of real grievances, he said.

Do not let anybody on this side of the House think that [Ernest Bevin] is defending the trade unions he is defending the trade union official, who has arterial sclerosis, and who cannot readjust himself to his membership. He is defending an official who has become so unpopular among his own membership that the only way he can keep them in order is to threaten them with five years in gaol. [45]

The strength of feeling among the Labour backbenchers was shown by the voting on Regulation 1AA. The government majority was convincing enough: 314 to 23 with about 70 abstentions. But only 56 out of 165 Labour MPs voted in support of Bevin, and that with a three-line whip. [46]

Bevan’s behaviour enraged the Labour leadership and Arthur Greenwood proposed his expulsion from the party. He described Bevan’s speech as ‘a speech of anti-trade union character the like of which I have never heard from the most diehard Tory in the House or outside the House.’ [47] However, at the first meeting of the PLP no decision was reached. The next meeting was the best attended for years. Attlee spoke for expulsion, but the leaders could not get their way. By 71 to 60 an amendment moved by Shinwell was carried which was against immediate action ‘in view of the probability of a general election in the next twelve months.’ [48]

However an ultimatum was given to Bevan demanding a loyalty pledge from him to avoid expulsion. Next day Bevan gave it. [49] But the Labour right wing and the TUC refused to be satisfied with the compromise achieved. Bevan was reported to the Miners’ Federation, which sponsored him as an MP, and the union’s executive added its censure to that already passed by the General Council, and adopted a resolution supporting the TUC and Labour Party in their stand on Regulation 1AA. [50]

However Bevan had considerable backing within individual unions. South Wales, Scotland and Cumberland Areas of the Miners’ Federation, the engineering workers (AEU), the train drivers (ASLEF), the shopworkers (NUDAW), the Chemical Workers’ Union, the Civil Service Clerical Union and the Tobacco Workers’ Union, all strongly opposed Regulation 1AA. [51]

In fact the Labour left now, as in the 1930s, had little contact with workers’ struggles. In Tribune one finds hardly an echo of the strikes that took place, with the exception of the miners (after all, Bevan was a miners’ MP). But even then the paper was not agitating for strikes, but only reporting them as a sad fact of life. Tribune protested against Regulation 1AA, but never agitated for the workers’ demands which spurred the government on to introduce this regulation. Tribune argued for joint production committees, for increasing effort by workers to raise productivity, for opposition to the use of the strike weapon it never agitated for strike action to raise wages.

Yet once more it was the forward thrust of the working class itself that had opened the way to new reformist advance, just like in the First World War. It was in the summer of 1943, as struggle moved towards the point at which Bevin felt compelled to institute Regulation 1AA, that Nye Bevan called for a new political realignment – a coalition of the left. Thus on 18 June he called for the affiliation to the Labour Party of the Communist Party, Common Wealth (a left-wing party formed during the war), the ILP and a Radical Liberal Group formed of left-wing Liberals. [52] A few months later Tribune called for an ‘Alliance of the Left’ of Liberals, Labour, Common Wealth, ILP and Communists [53], and this was repeated in one issue after another.

There were other signs that the old politics were breaking up and a new current was being created under the impact of world events and the rise of working-class pressure. One was increasing tension in the parliamentary field.

In 1939 the Labour Party had accepted a by-election truce. By this agreement, the party that had previously won the seat would have the right, when it fell vacant, to nominate a candidate approved by the other two parties. The truce held until the autumn of 1941 when it became apparent that a sizeable proportion of the electorate were ready to support Independents against official Conservative candidates where no Labour or Liberal candidates were put forward.

ILP candidates in 1941 had polled a steady 20󈞊 per cent of the vote in various constituencies, presumably because Labour supporters saw this as a way of protesting. In 1942 four Independents were victorious, all against Conservative nominees. That July the Common Wealth Party was established, very much as a protest against the electoral truce. At its peak Common Wealth had 15,000 members, mainly from the liberal professions.

Between the spring of 1941 and the end of 1942, nineteen Labour seats fell vacant and two of them were contested. Twenty- eight Conservative seats fell vacant, nineteen were contested, and three lost. In other words, the by-election independent knew his trade – blame the Tories – and the voters responded. [54]

In April 1943 Common Wealth won its first seat in a rural constituency in Cheshire. Others followed at Skipton and West Derbyshire. Brighton was one of the safest Tory seats in the country, yet the Tory majority of 40,000 was reduced to less than 2,000 by an Independent challenge. A fortnight later, in West Derbyshire, a Conservative majority of 5,500 turned into an independent socialist majority of 4,500. In April 1945 a Common Wealth candidate swept the Conservative out of the hitherto safe seat of Chelmsford with a phenomenal turnover of 23,000 votes.

These defeats occurred notwithstanding the fact that Churchill, Attlee, Ernest Brown (for the National Liberals) and Sinclair (for the Liberals) sent a joint letter to all constituents saying:

The verdict recorded by a single constituency is flashed around the world as though it were the voice of Britain that had spoken . it has the responsibility at this moment of indicating to the United Nations, and to neutral countries, that we are united among ourselves in our unflinching determination to organize our total resources for victory. [55]

Local Labour Parties were under orders to co-operate in the return of Conservatives or at least take no part against them. The rank and file found this infuriating. Even so, not one of the leaders of the Labour Party, not even Nye Bevan, suggested that Labour should withdraw from the government. However Bevan urged a clear declaration by the Labour Party that it would fight independently of the Tories at the first post-war election. Further, from 1942 onwards he called on the Labour Party to break the by-election truce agreed upon at the beginning of the war.

That year the party executive put a motion to conference committing the party not merely to abstain from putting up candidates in by-elections, but to give active support to government candidates in by-elections, whatever party they came from. Resistance was massive: the resolution passed by a narrow majority – 1,275,000 to 1,209,000 votes. The miners, engineers and railwaymen voted against it.

At the next Labour Party Conference, Attlee won the extension of the electoral truce on the grounds that to break it would mean an end of the coalition and the death of any chance of Labour’s influencing post-war planning. The majority was convincing: 2,243,000 to 374,000.

Part of the left’s weakness arose from its extremely equivocal attitude to the government. It veered wildly from supporting the coalition to wanting to end it. A few examples will illustrate. On 11 December 1942 Bevan wrote a Tribune article which said that the presence of Labour ministers

in the government is no protection against the most reactionary Tory policies being adopted. Nor can it now be said that the Labour members of the Government are doing anything which could not be done at least equally well by a Tory Minister . Has not the time come for Labour to regain its freedom and set itself at the head of the British people in their march to the new world? [56]

In October 1944 he argued the opposite: ‘it would be foolish to break up the National Government now. I think our representatives are entitled to say that, having gone so far, they must complete the journey and remain in the Government until Germany is defeated.’ [57] Just two months later this line was reversed once more, as Bevan called for the dissolution of the coalition government. [58]

Tribune was equally hard to track. In March 1943 it favoured preservation of the Coalition: The dilemma for labour is a painful one, for it involves the question of whether Labour should leave the National Government. This . would be a mistake . If great British and American armies are sent into battle, they must do so as far as possible with united nations behind.’ [59] Some months later the opposite was argued: ‘The Coalition is dead. Let us bury it quickly.’ [60] Within a year the paper reverted to its original stance: ‘Having persisted so far, it is reasonable for the parties forming the Government to hold together until the task which brought them into coalition is performed the defeat of Nazi Germany.’ [61]

The Labour left could not make up its own mind, because it could not decide its true allegiance – to the class collaborationist policies of Attlee and Co, or to the workers. So it always fell between two stools. It opposed the electoral truce but supported the coalition. It called on the Labour Party to end the truce, but did not take part in the electoral activities that would force it to do this.

A growing workers’ movement and the ripples of discontent it generated within the Labour Party were only a part of the profound changes that were taking place. The ruling class was also re-shaping its ideas. For a party which seeks to mediate between the upper and nether millstones of capitalist society, this had far-reaching consequences.

‘We are all Keynesians now’

When the Second World War began it ended the more or less uninterrupted economic decline that stretched back to 1920. Wartime expedients seemed to solve problems that had baffled the conventional economic wisdom, itself little changed since Gladstone’s day.

The most obvious difference was the level of state involvement in the general management of the economy. This got a massive fillip as a result of the war. By 1941 about 49 per cent of the total occupied population was engaged in some type of employment for the government. [62] With full employment for the first time for two decades, the idea that this could be maintained by state demand management became very widespread. For leading politicians of all parties the doctrine put forward by J.M. Keynes had been fully vindicated. According to Keynes, the prime responsibility of government was to use fiscal and monetary policy to ensure that there was enough effective demand in the economy to maintain full employment, but not so much as to cause ‘demand-pull’ inflation.

Before the war there were already a number of politicians who accepted Keynes’s doctrine. Among the Labour people by far the most prominent early convert was Ernest Bevin. From the mid-1930s a number of Labour Party intellectuals were Keynesian converts: Douglas Jay, Evan Durbin, Anthony Crosland, and Hugh Gaitskell. These were on the right wing of the party. However some left-wingers moved towards Keynes, the most prominent being Strachey.

In 1932𔃃 Strachey wrote three books, The Coming Struggle for Power, The Menace of Fascism and The Nature of the Capitalist Crisis, in which he claimed to be an orthodox Marxist (even though he was in fact much influenced by Stalinism). But in 1938 he wrote to the barrister and hard-line Stalinist Palme Dutt: ‘If, for good or evil, we have adopted People’s Front politics, we must have a People’s Front economics also.’ [63] On the eve of the war the need for class collaboration strengthened further Strachey’s search for a solution of the crisis of capitalism without overthrowing it. He wrote on 2 October 1938:

the British people must be made to feel that those who ask them to, at least, risk fighting and dying for their country are determined to preserve their country and to improve those features which make it worth living in, and therefore dying for, e.g. its democracy, in the widest sense of that term . [and] a determination just as great as that shown by the fascists to deal with unemployment doubt on Keynesist lines. In two words, a ‘progressive patriotism’ must be the positive note struck. [64]

In 1940 Strachey published a new book, A Programme for Progress. This argued that while in the long run socialism was the only remedy for the breakdown of capitalism, in the short run what was needed was an interim programme for reforming capitalism similar to that of Roosevelt’s New Deal. His programme included six main points: the extension of public enterprise, low interest rates on loan capital, increased social services, including monetary allowances to individuals, and a redistributory taxation. There would also be a state controlled banking system and strict public control over the balance of payments. [65]

This programme was so minimalist that Crosland could say: ‘It was incomparably more modest than the programme the Labour Party adopted in 1937.’ [66]

There were a number of converts to Keynesianism among the Tories. Harold Macmillan, a Conservative MP, published Reconstruction: A Plea for a National Policy, and The Middle Way in 1938. Thirty-six Tory MPs in 1943 formally constituted themselves into the Tory Reform Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Hinchingbrooke, who wrote:

True Conservative opinion is horrified at the damage done to this country since the last war by ‘individualist’ business-men, financiers, and speculators ranging freely in a laissez-faire economy and creeping unnoticed into the fold of Conservatism to insult the Party with their vote at elections . I would wish nothing better than that these men should collect their baggage and depart. [67]

It was one of the members of the Reform Committee, Quintin Hogg, who told the House of Commons: ‘If you do not give the people social reforms they are going to give you social revolution.’ Harold Macmillan, R.A. Butler and Anthony Eden, being in the government, could not belong to the Tory Reform Committee, but had sympathy with it.

Capitalism must be preserved, said the Reform Committee, but the state could play a positive role in promoting its efficiency, and this might include nationalisation measures. Thus the committee argued for the nationalisation of electricity, gas and water, while excluding coal mining. Similar ideas regarding the mixed economy were put forward by Labour politicians from as diverse backgrounds as Morrison and Cripps.

Labour’s shift from verbal opposition to capitalism to consciously trying to run it in its best interests involved a dramatic break with its past. As late as 1937 Attlee’s book, The Labour Party in Perspective, had argued that socialism equalled nationalisation and this would lead to the abolition of classes. Such ideas were sprinkled throughout the book:

The evils that Capitalism brings differ in intensity in different countries, but, the root cause of the trouble once discerned, the remedy is seen to be the same by thoughtful men and women. The cause is the private ownership of the means of life the remedy is public ownership. [68]

The aim of socialism is the nationalisation of all industries. All the major industries will be owned and controlled by the community . [69]

The abolition of classes is fundamental to the Socialist conception of society. [70]

Whatever reservations might be held about Labour’s ability to carry these through, such positions summed up the long-held beliefs that first inspired the socialists of the ILP, and once enshrined in Clause Four were held to be the property of the entire Labour Party.

Now, during the war, the Labour leaders started rewriting the political dictionary. The aim of Labour became the ‘Mixed Economy’. In the words of Herbert Morrison:

a practical mixture of genuine socialism and genuinely free enterprise, the whole resting upon and in turn supporting national policies of social and industrial welfare . Public ownership where it is appropriate, stimulating public control elsewhere. [71]

Nationalisation had once been held to be the cornerstone of a socialist society and to be the policy that separated Labour fundamentally from capitalism. Now Cripps argued that control of industry did not require its nationalisation. On 12 October 1944 he wrote to Richard Acland: ‘Oh, no, my dear Richard. We have learnt in the war that we can control industry.’ [72] Attlee himself pointed to the increasing consensus between Labour and Tory leaders about State intervention in industry: ‘It colours all our discussions on home economic policy.’ [73]

One expression of the way Keynesian ideas had come to dominate political thinking was the government White Paper on Employment Policy, of May 1944. This marked the Treasury’s conversion to the use of fiscal means to avoid cyclical unemployment. When Bevin introduced the White Paper to the Commons he explained that the passive acceptance of deflation and unemployment would be replaced by active, conscious direction of the economy for the first time. Government would confront ‘any depression at an early stage by expanding and not contracting capital expenditure, and by raising consumption expenditure and not reducing it.’ [74]

Keynes seemed to promise a prosperous capitalism in which state intervention was to play a stabilising role. Nationalisation was irrelevant to this. As he put it:

It is not the ownership of the instruments of production which it is important for the State to assume. If the State is able to determine the aggregate amount of resources directed to augmenting the instruments and the basic rate of reward to those who own them, it will have accomplished all that is necessary. [75]

Thus Keynes’ ideas were attractive to right-wing Labour leaders, who were attached to gradualism, hence to the mixed economy.

Of course not all Labour leaders accepted Keynes’ panacea. Bevan argued in the House of Commons that such ideas were incompatible with socialism. He did not believe Labour should accept the White Paper, for if it did so, he argued, there would not

. be any argument for Socialism and no reason for it . The subjects dealt with by the White Paper represent all the matters which distinguish that side of the House from this. The question of how the work of society is to be organised, how the income of society is to be distributed, to what extent the State is to intervene in the direction of economic affairs – all these are questions which first called this party into existence . Indeed, I will go so far as to say that, if the implications of the White Paper are sound, there is no longer any justification for this party existing at all. [76]

The debate between the moderate Labour leaders’ policy of administering the capitalist economy and Bevan’s critique of them was to dominate Labour thinking for a generation.

One should not suppose that since both centrist Tory and Labour leaders accepted Keynes, this consensus meant the identity of the two camps. Both accepted the objectives of full employment, reasonably rapid growth, stable prices and a satisfactory balance of payments. But Tory leaders put a different emphasis on the various objectives. Keynesians accepted that there was a trade-off between unemployment and inflation: the lower the level of unemployment the more intense the pressure of demand for labour, the faster will be the rate of inflation. For the Tory Party, as an open capitalist party depending very much on middle-class voters, people who have some savings, the emphasis would be on preventing inflation. For the Labour Party, whose voters are overwhelmingly workers without any financial cushion against unemployment, the emphasis was far more on jobs.

Labour Keynesians also emphasised greater economic equality. They believed that raising wages and improving welfare would themselves tend to increase demand, thus stimulating production and reducing unemployment.

Keynsianism was the most important new economic orthodoxy. But there were other new trends at work in the area of industrial relations and social reform.

One important development during the Second World War was the close cooperation between government and trade unions. This was a continuation of the ‘Mondism’ of the late 1920s. The 1928 Mond-Turner talks had been abortive, since the conditions of the slump of 1929 made it superfluous for management to take union leaders into their confidence, but in the partial recovery after 1932 such cooperation did produce some results. Trade unions, especially the two general unions – the Transport and General (TGWU) and the General and Municipal (GMWU) – established cosy relationships with a number of major employers and became involved in a growing number of state-sponsored bodies. This cooperation was symbolised by the granting of knighthoods to three prominent figures – Walter Citrine, TUC Secretary, Arthur Pugh of the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation, and the Labour Chief Whip Charles Edwards – in the Silver Jubilee Honours List of 1935.

During the war, with Ernest Bevin, a former general secretary of the TGWU, running the ministry of labour, and with the government in urgent need of trade union cooperation to preserve industrial peace at a critical period, the trade union leaders were incorporated into state activity: ‘. trade union leaders became members of the large number of wartime committees which took over functions previously fulfilled by private industry and tackled new ones arising out of war needs.’ [77] As TUC general secretary, Sir Walter Citrine found himself serving on some 30 public or semi-public bodies. [78] At the end of the war he could tell Congress: ‘We have passed from the era of propaganda to one of responsibility.’ [79]

The Beveridge Report

In December 1942 the Beveridge Report was published. This proposed a comprehensive scheme for social insurance against illness, poverty and unemployment, plus proposals for a national health service, family allowances and the maintenance of full employment.

The report’s assumptions about social reform fully accorded with the new Keynesian economics. Beveridge took for granted that the government would secure a high level of employment after the war, that it would introduce family allowances, and that it would devise a comprehensive health service for all. The Plan for Social Security which Beveridge drew up in the main body of the report was a rationalisation of existing financial arrangements, so that in return for a single weekly contribution, wage earners, the self-employed, and their families would receive old age pensions and sickness benefit. Former wage earners would receive unemployment pay.

Yet the scheme was not as radical as Beveridge claimed. [5*] For example it considered the principle of a national minimum for old age pensioners to be so expensive that it could not be fully implemented for twenty years. Nevertheless, no official report has ever aroused greater popular interest and enthusiasm.

The public welcome given to the report was well-nigh universal. The national press, with the exception of the Daily Telegraph, behaved as though it fell only slightly short of the millennium. A total of 635,000 copies were sold. A survey of opinion . showed that 86 per cent believed that the report should be adopted, as against 6 per cent who though it should be dropped. [81]

This is not to say the report was received uncritically.

Nearly three out of five people thought the proposed pension rates too low. But the overall popularity of the report was established beyond a doubt, and the idea of free doctors and hospital services for all was approved by 88 per cent, including 81 per cent of the wealthier. [82]

Beveridge, however, had put the Tories’ backs up. ‘Churchill is reported to have taken strong exception to the Report, to have refused to see its author and forbidden any government department to allow him inside its doors.’ [83] The government did all in its power to stifle publicity for the report and make plain that its contents were disapproved of. [84]

The National Council of Labour, representing both the Labour Party and TUC, endorsed the Beveridge Report, as did the Liberal Party (Beveridge was, after all, a Liberal himself). Soon the British Council of Churches followed suit. A good many Conservatives also welcomed it enthusiastically.

A three-day debate on the Beveridge Report took place in the House of Commons on 16󈝾 February 1943. Hardline Tories were for full implementation at some date no closer than Doomsday. Labour, tied by its coalition commitments, took an official position of no more than lukewarm approval and for very gradual implementation.

But a Labour MP, James Griffiths, put down an amendment calling for prompt legislation: the House ‘expresses its dissatisfaction with the now declared policy of His Majesty’s Government towards the Report of Sir William Beveridge on Social Insurance and Allied Services and urges the reconsideration of that policy with a view to the early implementation of the plan.’ Attlee, Morrison and Bevin tried to counter the revolt at a private meeting of the PLP. A three-line whip was hurriedly organised by both Tories and Labour.

But the Labour backbenchers rebelled. Notwithstanding a very conciliatory and clever speech by Morrison for the coalition, the whole PLP turned on the government. In the division on 18 February, 121 votes were cast against the government: ninety-seven Labour, three ILP, one Communist, eleven Independents and nine Liberals. About thirty Labour MPs abstained. Of the twenty-three Labour members who voted for the government, twenty-two were ministers.

Towards the first majority Labour government

The Second World War ended in different circumstances to the First. Above all in 1945 the world entered the longest boom in capitalist history. Naturally its benefits were unequally shared, but it did help defuse the inevitable demands that workers were to make after the heavy sacrifices of the war years.

On the economic front the First World War had ended with a ‘bonfire of controls’ as bosses sought to return to the palmy days of Queen Victoria and laissez-faire success. Their efforts had ended in slump. In 1945 capitalists knew that there could be no going back to the 1930s.

In the general election of July 1945 Attlee’s party raised its share of the vote by one-third to twelve million votes. With 393 Labour MPs, it now had a crushing majority over the 210 Conservatives and twelve Liberals in parliament. The election was just one symptom of a massive change in workers’ attitudes that had been brought by the experience of war. The ideas of people like Nye Bevan now fitted the mood of the millions who had seen full employment in wartime, and the potential to use full employment in peacetime to banish poverty, misery and victimisation. Even the armed forces, still swollen to massive proportions, began to mutiny in Egypt, India and Malaya, demanding to be released from service. The rank and file soldiers could not have been used to halt major social change.

In these circumstances MacDonald’s old excuse of being ‘in office but not in power’ was of no avail, and Labour faced a tremendous opportunity to achieve that constitutional transition to socialism that it had talked about so ardently. But the Labour Party too had changed during the war. Its synthesis of class and nation remained, but it had a new twist: ‘what was good for the workers – fair wages, better housing, better pensions – was good for the nation.’ The criticism of capitalism, and the acceptance of capitalism, were combined in a new form.

Footnotes

1*. This has been the criminal policy imposed by Stalin on the German Communist Party, it had cleared a path for Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.

2*. It was against Bevin’s defence of the paltry pensions increase of 1942 (2s 6d per week, or 12½p in today’s currency) that 63 MPs voted against the government, the biggest vote against since Churchill became prime minister. [8]

3*. Incidentally, Michael Foot, as well as Aneurin Bevan, were very much at home in the Beaverbrook circle in the 1930s. Foot even became editor of Beaverbrook’s Evening Standard.

4*. The conscription of young men into the mines was one of the most unpopular measures the government took during the war. Up to October 1944, out of 16,000 called to the mines, 500 had been prosecuted for refusal to obey the National Service Officers’ Order, or for leaving their employment. Of this total, 143 were sentenced to prison. [42]

5*. Beveridge was a true Liberal. His contempt for working-class people can be gleaned from this letter sent to Tawney:

‘The well-to-do represent on the whole a higher level of character and ability than the working classes, because in the course of time the better stocks have come to the top. A good stock is not permanently kept down it forces its way up in the course of generations of social change, and so the upper classes are on the whole the better classes.’ [80]

Notes

1. Hansard, 22 May 1940.

2. Legal Proceedings against Strikers under Order 1305, LAB 10/998.

8. Hansard, 29 July 1942.

9. Hansard, 9 September 1941.

10. A. Calder, The People’s War (London 1971), p. 336.

11. Hansard, 8 October 1942.

12. The Times, 21 November 1942.

15. Hansard, 3 August 1943.

16. W. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. 6 (London 1954), p. 198.

17. Hansard, 8 December 1944.

18. Bullock, Vol. 2, p. 343, and Labour Conference 1944, p. 150.

19. S. Orwell and I. Angus (eds.), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Vol. 2 (London 1968), pp. 351𔃀.

20. New Statesman, 1 June 1940.

21. H. Thomas, John Strachey (London 1973), p. 207.

22. Hansard, 8 October 1940.

23. Cato, Guilty Men (London 1940), p. 18.

26. Tribune, 11 October 1940.

27. Hansard, 20 May 1943 (emphasis added).

28. Tribune, 3 January 1941.

29. Tribune, 1 August 1941. [Note by MIA: In the printed version there are two anchors for note 29.]

29a. Tribune, 1 August 1941.

30. G.D.H. Cole, Europe, Russia and the Future (London 1941), p. 153.

31. Tribune, 14 March 1941.

32. Tribune, 2 February 1945.

33. Tribune, 16 February 1945.

34. Tribune, 6 February 1942.

36. Hansard, 2 July 1942.

37. Hansard, 9 September 1942.

38. R. Luxemburg, The Junius Pamphlet, in Rosa Luxemburg Speaks (New York 1970), p. 262.

40. H.M.D. Parker, Manpower: A Study of Wartime Policy and Administration (London 1957), p. 504.

43. R. Page Arnot, The Miners in Crisis and War (London 1961), p. 396.

44. Foot, Bevan, Vol. 1, pp. 446𔃅.

45. Hansard, 28 April 1944.

46. Hansard, 28 April 1944.

47. The Times, 3 May 1944.

48. Foot, Bevan, Vol. 1, p. 459.

49. The Times, 17 and 18 May 1944.

50. The Times, 9 June 1944.

51. Tribune, 5 May 1944.

52. The Times, 18 June 1943.

53. Tribune, 3 March 1944.

54. P. Addison, The Road to 1945 (London 1975), pp. 154𔃃.

56. Tribune, 11 December 1942.

57. Hansard, 6 October 1944.

58. Hansard, 20 December 1944.

59. Tribune, 5 March 1943.

60. Tribune, 22 October 1943.

61. Tribune, 22 September 1944.

62. W.K. Hancock and M.M. Gowing, The British War Economy (London 1949), p. 297.

63. Quoted in H. Thomas, John Strachey, p. 175.

65. J. Strachey, A Programme for Progress (London 1940), pp. 151𔃀.

66. A. Crosland, The Future of Socialism (London 1956), p. 58.


Classroom Activity : Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Commentary) - History

Jay Winter and Antoine Prost analyze a multitude of books on World War I written by French, British and German scholars in order to show patterns of themes and methods over time. The authors set themselves a daunting task, as their comparative study considers not only the work of historians, but also encompasses literary works, television shows, films and museums. The book's cover page has a picture of a cemetery with books as tombstones, portraying the countless numbers of books already written on the Great War. Even though most of the writings on the First World War focus on military, political and diplomatic history, the authors add social, cultural and economic history. The work presents a multi-disciplinary, multi-national and multi-methodological approach. Prost and Winter argue that books and films on World War I can be grouped into three different generations (pp. 1-5). The book, originally published in French, examines how seven major themes (diplomatic and economic histories and the histories of generals, soldiers, workers, civilians and memory) have been treated within this three-generation framework. Although the authors leave out some works, do not fully state the arguments of each historian, and force the history of memory and that of workers into a slightly uncomfortable framework, they offer an outstanding historiographical study.

Prost and Winter argue that three different generations interpreted the war within "three historiographical configurations" (p. 31). The first, which they have called the "Generation of 1935," understood events in a nineteenth-century context. These scholars emphasized the nation and wrote history from the top down. The second generation, which witnessed World War II, described the Great War as a "tragedy played out by powerful collective actors: soldiers, workers, civilians" (pp. 200, 203). Finally, the third generation has turned toward cultural history and micro-historical analysis. According to Winter and Prost, regardless of which generation historians belong to, three questions reoccur again and again: "Why and how did the war break out? How was it conducted how was it won and lost? What were its consequences?" (p. 199).

As first-generation witnesses who wrote immediately after World War I until the 1930s, generals, diplomats and historians wrote the history of the war as a political and diplomatic problem. The key issue was "war guilt"--that is, who started the war. Key sources were diplomatic documents published by the belligerent powers immediately after the war. Winter and Prost maintain that the first generation wrote history from above, focusing on generals, politicians and diplomats but ignoring common soldiers. For example, the highly acclaimed French historian Pierre Renouvin, who wrote a thorough account of the Great War during the interwar period and who was himself wounded in combat, stated, "the evidence of soldiers, the consultation of which is important for the understanding of the atmosphere of battle, can rarely give information on the conduct of operations, since their field of vision was too narrow" (p. 14). This approach was also typical of scholars in Great Britain and Germany.

According to Prost and Winter, the second generation (whose members wrote during the latter half of the twentieth century) contributed to a dramatic increase in the number of books and historical reviews published. In particular, three French war veterans in the 1960s--Andre Ducasse, Jacques Meyer and Gabriel Perreux--reintegrated history from above with the experience of common soldiers and history from below. The second generation emphasized social issues and class conflict, as post-World War II events in Vietnam and Algerian influenced writing about World War I. Marxist historians in particular focused on the laboring classes, miners, workers and peasants. Television became a new medium that reached millions of people. In 1964, the BBC produced the first series on World War I in which viewers saw graphic images a joint production from France and Germany soon followed. In Britain, A. J. P. Taylor's The First World War: An Illustrated History (1964) likewise used images to portray the war as a reckless waste.

The second generation from the 1960s to the early 1980s shifted its focus from the question of war guilt to war origins and war aims. Arno Mayer contended that after World War I governments replaced the old diplomacy of secret treaties and imperialism with a program of "new diplomacy" that included open diplomacy, freedom of trade, popular self-determination, armaments reduction and an international body that could mediate disputes. Critical to the discussion of war aims was the German historian Fritz Fischer, who in the 1960s asserted that Germany wanted and planned for World War I so that it could dominate Europe. James Joll blamed alliances and imperialism. French Marxists blamed imperialism and capitalism.

Prost and Winter argue that the shift from the second to the third generation involved a smooth switch in emphasis from social to cultural history. Winter and Prost use the term "Generation of 1992" to describe the third generation because in that year, the Historial de la grande guerre opened in Peronne. A French museum inaugurated during a conference on war and culture, it contains objects from France, Germany and Britain (pp. 28, 200, 203). The focus of the third generation was also more micro-historical than global identity and memory became highly important. The transition is exemplified by the 1996 BBC series The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century, which focused on cultural themes, such as the ideas, behavior, memories and aspirations of soldiers. Scholars of the third generation include Paul Fussell, who wrote The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) and John Keegan, author of The Face of Battle (1976). Instead of considering origins of the war, writers of the third generation focused on problems with the peace settlement that caused another war. They asked, therefore, if the treaty with Germany was too harsh, too lenient or just not enforced. The British economist John Maynard Keynes was an early critic of the treaty, and he had maintained that Germany could never pay the high reparations that the Allies imposed. However, historians of the third generation--such as Gerald Feldman and Niall Ferguson--questioned Keynes's conclusions by arguing that Germany could indeed have paid. In addition, David Stevenson argued that because the Allies could not agree on the treaty enforcement, they severely weakened it. Margaret Macmillan and later Gerd Krumeich have criticized the peacemakers for not giving self-determination to non-whites, which led to unrest in Asia.

The authors also assert that military history fits into the three generations scheme. The central question military historians ask of the war is "who commanded and how?" Prost and Winter distinguish between three periods of military history: a "heroic" phase, a critical history of command and fragmented national histories (p. 59). The "heroic" period (the interwar era), mainly told the story of great men, such as Paul Painleve's book on Philippe Petain (1923), and great battles, like Gabriel Hanotaux's treatment of the Somme (1920). National identity heavily biased many of the writings of the first period. During the second period (1960s-70s), the focus shifted to the history of command. Historians critically analyzed the role of the commanders (Petain, Helmuth von Moltke, Erich Ludendorff) and the political leaders (Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Raymond Poincaré). Television series on World War I likewise shifted to a more realistic portrayal of the war. The result was a depiction of anger, frustration and stalemate. The Vietnam and Algerian wars led to a highly fragmented third phase of military history during the 1980s and 1990s and "new" military historians emerged. Some contended that command witnessed a "learning curve," but others asserted that leaders stubbornly repeated the same mistakes (pp. 79-80).

Regarding the military history of the "soldiers," the authors also contend that this particular aspect of military history has changed greatly over time and can be categorized into three main periods. First-generation historians of the Great War, like Renouvin, left out the soldiers and took a top-down approach. Petain had written about the French mutiny without focusing on the mutineers. After the 1960s, works of the second period emphasized the role of the soldiers and relied on soldiers' memoirs and accounts. Gabriel Perreux examined civilian life and Guy Pedroncini studied the soldiers involved in the French mutiny. Keegan's Face of Battle (1976) discussed the battlefield in terms of bombardments, plans and soldiers' behavior. Jean-Jacques Becker analyzed the mobilization of troops. More recent historians, of the third generation--such as John Fuller, John Horne and Alan Kramer, Jean-Yves Le Naour, Anne Lipp and Annette Becker--have examined cultural topics, such as leisure activities in the trenches the social class of the soldiers violence during war the language of the soldiers' letters sexual practices of the troops wartime morale and war culture.

According to Winter and Prost, the economic history of the Great War falls likewise falls into three historiographical generations. In the first period, scholars analyzed the leadership's economic policies. Keynes asserted that Germany could not pay the reparations. Besides reparations, another issue that concerned first generation historians was the legality of the Allied blockade. In the 1920s and 1930s the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace commissioned a series of books that argued that the war had ended the free market and replaced it with state price controls. Carnegie Endowment historians concluded that the blockade was vital in defeating Germany. In the 1960s and 1970s, the second generation emphasized the partnership between big industry, economic interest groups and the military. C. Wright Mills focused on "power elites"-- civilians in positions of power. In the 1960s, historians blamed Germany's defeat on its economic failures, namely its inability to supply its troops and civilians. The Allies won because they had much more efficient methods of distribution. Winter and Prost argue that the first generation of economic history was "public history," while in the 1960s economic history became "structural history" (pp. 115-116). Fischer is characteristic of the new trend in the 1960s in showing how the industry, military and navy collaborated in seeking war aims and influencing Germany's economic and war policies.

Third-generation scholars pursued a research agenda that combines the interests of the first two generations and examined the wartime economy as a complex system for distributing goods to the frontline and home front. In the 1980s and 1990s, the third generation emphasized "economic war aims and their international consequences" (p. 119). Kathleen Burk has examined how American and British global finances were used to fund the Allied war effort. Other third-generation historians have focused on the scientists and scientific advancements that occurred during the war, such as poison gas, Novocain and other new drugs. The French historian Olivier Lepick examined the chemist Fritz Haber and the British author Donald Richter also studied the role of chemists. In regard to the question of who actually won the economic war, historians of the third generation, like Gerald Feldman, maintained that inflation and economic misery occurred throughout Europe and was not restricted to the losers (pp. 119-123).

Unsurprisingly, then, the authors argue that the history of civilian population falls into three distinct generations. First, in the 1920s and 1930s civilians were seen simply as "masses" or pawns "mobilized, protected, or coerced" (p. 152). During the second generation, historians first became interested in the home front, with an emphasis on social unrest and revolution at the end of the war. Jürgen Kocka's Klassengesellschaft im Krieg (1973), on the social origins of German revolution, is one example. During the third phase, focus fell on the cultural history of the civilian population. Third-generation scholars turned to issues such as memory, "war cultures" and gender studies. One of the more fascinating works from the last group is Vejas Liulevicius's War Land on the Eastern Front (2000), which examines the German occupation of Poland and the Baltic during World War I. Liulevicius argues that already during this time a culture war was underway in which "superior" western views were forced onto "inferior eastern" peoples.

The history of memory and the history of workers during World War I have not gone through three fully developed phases and are exceptions to the authors' main thesis. Regarding workers and revolution, the authors state that the shift from the first to the second generation came later and that the third generation "exists only in a sketchy form" (p. 126). During the first generation from 1919-1965, the emphasis was on a political history of labor. In the 1920s, British historian Arthur Bowley wrote on prices, wages and mining. The first generation also examined the history of the Social Democrats in France, Germany, Great Britain and Russia. Marxist views heavily influenced authors writing in the 1960s, who often saw the Social Democrats as traitors to the revolution. Communism was a main focus of the first generation. The second generation (1965-2000) shifted from the politics of the labor movement to social history. Authors focused on new themes, including strike activity, trade unions and women in the workforce. There has been a modest drive toward more cultural history of labor, focusing on such things as mentalities of the workers, workers' pacifism and reformist aspirations.

Furthermore, the history of memory only fits into two historiographic periods rather than three. During the first period from 1918 to 1970, memory was dominated by the veterans of the war. The memory of combatants was a mostly male sphere. Great leaders, like Winston Churchill and Ludendorff, published most of the memoirs. During the second period (1970-2000), most of the survivors of World War I had died and memory work shifted to commemoration. Recent themes of the second period have included the mentality of the troops, shell shock and psychological disorders.

Winter and Prost offer a breathtaking and extensive study of World War I that includes books and films. Even though (as they themselves admit) the authors cannot possibly cover every single book ever written on the Great War, they cover the most important ones. There are some omissions. The authors acknowledge Samuel R. Williamson's argument that no one had predicted the collapse of Austria-Hungary before World War I and that Austrian domestic and foreign policies were closely related, but they do not restate his claim that Austria-Hungary was most responsible for beginning the war because of its preventive war against Serbia.[1] Nor do they discuss Paul Kennedy's argument that economic factors motivated the Anglo-German antagonism.[2] Overall, however, the book is a very well written, well researched, and interesting study--a must read for advanced history students who are interested in a comparative analysis of World War I or preparing for comprehensive exams. This book should serve as a model for a similar study of World War I books and films in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

[1]. Samuel R. Williamson, Jr., Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991).

[2]. Paul Kennedy, The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860-1914 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980 2nd ed., 1996).


Shop types

Companies that employ workers with a union generally operate on one of several models:

  • A closed shop (US) or a "pre-entry closed shop" (UK) employs only people who are already union members. The compulsory hiring hall is an example of a closed shop—in this case the employer must recruit directly from the union, as well as the employee working strictly for unionized employers.
  • A union shop (US) or a "post-entry closed shop" (UK) employs non-union workers as well, but sets a time limit within which new employees must join a union.
  • An agency shop requires non-union workers to pay a fee to the union for its services in negotiating their contract. This is sometimes called the Rand formula. In certain situations involving state public employees in the United States, such as California, "fair share laws" make it easy to require these sorts of payments.
  • An open shop does not require union membership in employing or keeping workers. Where a union is active, workers who do not contribute to a union still benefit from the collective bargaining process. In the United States, state level right-to-work laws mandate the open shop in some states. In Germany only open shops are legal that is, all discrimination based on union membership is forbidden. This affects the function and services of the union. An EU case concerning Italy extended this principle to the rest of the EU in that it stated that, "The principle of trade union freedom in the Italian system implies recognition of the right of the individual not to belong to any trade union ("negative" freedom of association/trade union freedom), and the unlawfulness of discrimination liable to cause harm to non-unionized employees." [ 51 ]

In Britain, also previous to this EU jurisprudence, a series of laws introduced during the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher's government restricted closed and union shops. All agreements requiring a worker to join a union are now illegal. In the United States, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 outlawed the closed shop, and the union shop was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court.[46]


Notes on the New Germany

From The New International, Vol. XVII No. 5, September&ndashOctober, pp. 267&ndash282.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

These notes and observations were made during the course of a trip through Western Germany during July of this year. As such, they possess the customary merits and demerits of &ldquofirst observation.&rdquo Nothing has been added or changed, with the exception of a concluding section. A trip through this &ldquoNew Germany&rdquo is certainly one of the most interesting and curious experiences available today. &ndash H.J.

Saarbrücken/Saarland, July 3: &ldquoEin schaffendes Volk,&rdquo these Saarlanders! If work, energy and activity are acknowledged characteristics of the German people, then the people of this hotly-disputed region possess them in excess. In their gloomy capital city, with its main streets reconstructed only to hide away the ruins of the side streets, they rush about on feet or in the street cars, on their way to factory or office. The Saar is rich in coal, rich in steel mills to convert Lorraine iron ore into steel, aided by Ruhr coke and Saar coal. The smoke of the Völkingen and Dudweiler mills drifts over the capital city whose post-war officialdom sits in collaboration with the French authorities. Dull-grey coloration everywhere an active but depressed people, conscious of the renewed struggle over their tiny territory begun by a revived Germany and a despairing France. The circumstances have changed, but the language is an old and familiar one. No new solutions over Saar sovereignty have been offered, from all sides pious respect is paid to the concept of the Saar problem resolved within the integrating framework of a &ldquoUnited Europe.&rdquo But we find no one who believes in its realizability .

M. Grandvaal, Haut Commissaire representing the French government Johannes Hoffman (better known as &ldquoJoho&rdquo), Minister-President and champion of the current position the Saar Landtag of 50 members Chanceller Adenauer and Dr. Kurt Schumacher &ndash those are the protagonists in the violent, heated debate. The 900,000 Saarländer (coal miners, steel workers, small farmers, merchants and industrialists) are largely passive and silent, hostile or sceptical of all proposed solutions, waiting for the possible crystallization of something new. This does not come .

The current Saar regime was elected in November 1947, i.e., the period of Germany&rsquos deepest social and economic depression. But four years have profoundly reversed this situation, and new elections in November 1952 may thoroughly overturn the present Landtag of 50 members. (27 CVP &ndash Christian Democrats 18 SPS &ndash Social Democrats 3 DP &ndash Democrats 1 KP &ndash Stalinist 1 independent.) The angry, determined voice of Kurt Schumacher blasted the Saar social democracy in 1947 when it accepted the French policy of alleged &ldquopolitical independence under French economic integration.&rdquo This voice has not ceased since, and the presence of Germany&rsquos outstanding post-war personality is evident in every corner of the Saar. Even Adenauer dared not recognize the February 1950 agreement between France and the Saar.

The new pro-German party (Democratic Party) was rudely suppressed, revealing French political determination. The Saar is &ldquochristlich, sozial, deutsch,&rdquo was its motto. It proposed a simple reintegration into Western Germany. Its leaders were merchants, business men, professionals, stifling under French competition. There is no &ldquoneo-Nazi&rdquo movement in the Saar too Catholic, conservative and traditional for that development. The socialists are in turmoil Schumacher&rsquos bitter tongue reaches far. Their coalition with the Catholics broke up in April 1951 over issues of an inner, social program. Their brother party in Germany, which they disowned in its hour of distress, has not forgotten what shall they prepare for?

A cautious observer gave these estimates of public opinion: 15 per cent of the people want continuation of the present status 15 per cent favor total reintegration with Western Germany 70 per cent would like a true political independence and autonomy (like that of Luxemburg), with free economic ties with France and Germany. Most often this is expressed as &ldquoEuropean unity&rdquo within which the Saar finds its normal place. Thus, 70 per cent favor a utopian solution which no party accepts and all ridicule as unrealizable! An anomalous position for a conservative population which shares the universal distrust of political figures and their parties. No fresh voice can be heard in the Saar, attempting to formulate concretely and realistically the confused ideas of the 70 per cent. Is this why the &ldquoSaar debate&rdquo in Paris and Bonn arouses so little response, or rather, a cynical abnegation. We are Western Europe&rsquos favorite milch cow, say the Saar people. They will not decide according to our wish. Of course we are German, not French but we do not think in terms of a purely Germanic solution.

A plebiscite is demanded at Bonn. The atmosphere for a plebiscite hardly exists today: the French claim the last elections served that purpose. But would the alternative of the 70 per cent be included in the plebiscite &ndash or only &ldquoGermany&rdquo or &ldquoFrance&rdquo? Neither new elections nor a plebiscite are likely to break the frustrating bonds which surround this tiny region. Its malady is the European malady the inability to unite under existing circumstances. Saar coal wants to join French iron ore with Ruhr coke, but its force of attraction is much too weak.

A hard-working people, they say at Saarbrücken. Catholic, moral, middle class concepts, unable to enjoy leisure time, demoralized by the endless international tug-of-war and the frustration of their hopes after they had given themselves first to one then another seducer. An atomized people, unaccustomed to pull together or formulate common hopes centered on family and home life. The Saar coal miner has no resemblance to the Welsh, Scotch, American or Ruhr miner. A hard-working, sad people, living in dark towns and cities.

In the Saar one can find all of Europe&rsquos diseases, but none of the even faint signs of perspective and hope which exist elsewhere. It is best to travel further on. It does not always pay to exaggerate one&rsquos powers to schaffen!

Koblenz/Germany, July 6: A wearisome train ride through the Saar, entry into Germany proper, and finally contact with the valley of the Rhine at Bingen then transfer for the famous boatride on the Rhine to Koblenz. Past the Lorelei now doubtfully enhanced by the presence of a physical &ldquoLorelei&rdquo who combs her &ldquogoldene Haar&rdquo (at union wages) for each passing ship. A German seated next to me mumbles a few words against tourists, Americans with lack of imagination, commercialism.

At the Saar-German frontier, a first taste of the Adenauer burokratische Staat. A 1½ hours&rsquo stopover for passport and customs&rsquo inspection, filing of currency forms, etc. We count 10 to 11 bureaucrats (train controllers, police, customs officials, passport inspectors, etc.) busy at work on this train of perhaps 150 travellers. The Saarlander are given a workout bags completely emptied, each morsel of coffee, tea, chocolate, etc., registered, listed and taxed unfriendly attitude of officials toward countrymen who &ldquodon&rsquot want to come home.&rdquo Obviously deliberately organized effort to annoy these people. Every bureaucrat in his own, peculiar uniform. The angry housewives, on their way to visit relatives, tell me, &ldquoThese Germans love uniforms.&rdquo A discreet silence.

At Koblenz, a small Rhineland city for administration, our first taste of changes and developments in Germany since the last visit in 1947. At first glance, there is not much changed: A desultory group of French soldiers wandering about, characteristic ruins of homes, stores, buildings poorly-dressed workers waiting for crowded streetcars. But certainly it has changed, and a walk through the city indicates this: the normal activity of a busy city, stores crowded with goods, housewives, school children, all the characteristics of a normal life. The streets have been cleared, the large avenues have resumed a partial elegance, the gaping walls of ruined buildings are blocked off by neatly piled stones, only the small side streets retain piles of rubble. The hopeless and tragic appearance of the &ldquoalles Kaput&rdquo days is gone.

But here we gain our first really new and striking impression. The stark newness of many things: shops and stores, theaters and movie houses, banks and bureaus, cafes, hotels and restaurants. Along the main and shopping streets, they crowd closely against each other, separated perhaps by a row of ruins. All are shining now, long lines, sharp corners, gleaming facades, fresh painted, desperately &ldquomodern.&rdquo Inside, flashy metal decorations, terribly clean and orderly, not conducive to a feeling of ease. Is this clash between &ldquoKaput&rdquo and completely new responsible for the strange feeling a traveller has everywhere in Germany? There is no continuity, no growth between the past and this eerie present.

Nor does it take the technical knowledge of an architect to see the cheap, superficial and facade-like quality of the construction. Of new housing, apartments, projects, there are very few. This is get-rich-quick capital at work movie houses, restaurants and cafes, night clubs, anything to draw attention away from the ruins, but executed in a planless, individualist, private-enterprise fashion. It has nothing in common with a systematic effort to reconstruct a ruined city. A visit to the city&rsquos living quarters indicates that it is each man for himself in the effort to solve the housing problem. Some of the smaller units built before the monetary reform of 1948 are already sagging and collapsing. Shabby material, poor foundations, hasty work, everything Ersatz. We shall see more of this it is the new Germany under the Adenauer regime, guided by the Allies.

Bonn-am-Rhein/July 7, 8: The Rhineland city of Beethoven and Marx, the young student. A Catholic city of pensioned officials and rentiers, mixed with 6,500 students (to whom they rent rooms), and suddenly dragged into the daylight by its conversion

into a capital city. The hasty erection of stores, cheap homes, cafes, etc., is still more noticeable in this city which appears ill at ease in its suddenly assumed political role. Here, all is &ldquonew&rdquo or ruins. Try though it may, Bonn can never possess the appearance of a true capital. Yet, this Adenauer regime feels at home here and the city&rsquos personality reflects the regime: Catholic, conservative, bureaucratic, maneuverist, impotent, facade. We watch some of the new construction work, cheap offices for the various ministries. A quick pouring of a cheap concrete mixture into a mold of boards forms the basis for a wall much pre-fabricated material the work goes forward rapidly.

The new Bundeshaus (Parliament) of the Federal Government, an attractive modern building, built with more seriousness than other work, excellent furnishings. We attend two sittings: one over the &ldquoSaarland Question,&rdquo the other over &ldquoSchumann Plan Ratification.&rdquo The house is full, the debates heated, the assembly far from being an impotent body under occupation domination, thanks to the opposition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and its leading voice, Dr. Kurt Schumacher. The socialists furnish a strong opposition to the government&rsquos reactionary policies, and speak with a certain air of aggressive confidence in their future. The party of Adenauer is clearly on the decline and the future will pass it by since a new order of questions now exist.

The Saarland debate provides the socialists with the opportunity to illustrate their approach to the question of German nationalization (see conclusion), and to attack the government for its failure to preserve the nation and its resources their opposition to the Schumann plan, which they have analyzed in detail and clause by clause, not only gives the party an opportunity to attack the government&rsquos relation to the occupation powers, but also to present their independent economic proposals and solutions. The socialists reject the Schumann Plan because it is not presented on a basis of equality it is &ldquo. the solidarity of the victors against the defeated.&rdquo Germany, which produces more than 40 per cent of the coal and steel envisaged under the plan, is to be represented by only 2 out of the 9 members on the High Authority. The Schumann Plan is a part of French policy toward Western Germany, enforced by American decentralization and decartelization politics toward the Ruhr. The socialists have carefully dissected the Plan, and exposed its narrow nationalism behind its ostensible steps toward European economic unity. The supporters of Adenauer appear considerably uncomfortable under attack it is clear that their support is based upon the strategic choice that participation in the plan will forestall a future socialist nationalization of the industries involved. The solid socialist bloc in the Bundeshaus is a constant challenge to an outmoded government which dares not respond to the demand for dissolution and new elections.

Reichs Kanzler Adenauer Dr. Kurt Schumacher &ndash there are the two protagonists. What a contrast of personalities they form! Adenauer, old but well preserved a large and expansive looking Rhinelander, staunch Catholic, gentleman, astute, conservative, German aristocratic tradition, excellent relations with the Allies and other foreign powers. Schumacher, the outstanding personality produced in postwar Germany, feared by his opponents (numerous!), devotedly backed by his party comrades. A harsh man, no doubt, as his opponents complain, with a scharfes Wort for everyone, but the one man who has renewed German working-class and socialist vitality and drawn the links between a nationalism with a progressive social content and the new socialist movement of the country. His role in reviving German socialism cannot be underestimated. A man of great will, with a perspective, but marked by his years of suffering under Hitler. He is physically brought into the Bundeshaus by one of his comrades, but he stands erect and scorches Adenauer with his sharp tongue and angry voice. The latter is Chancellor, but Schumacher dominates the chamber the government&rsquos plans and projects are obviously drafted and projected with both eyes on him and his opposition. His harassing of this traditionalist, reactionary, false &ldquofree enterprise&rdquo cabinet never ceases. The Stalinist spokesmen vie with the neo-Nazi spokesmen in vulgarity and coarseness of expression and thought. Neither count for much in the body. In manner, word and tone both exemplify the worst in German political life: loudness, resounding phraseology without content, vulgarity.

The socialists have moved their headquarters from Hanover to Bonn a new, shiny and attractive party center a friendly welcome despite different viewpoints, with helpful discussion and explanation by the international representative and other comrades. Much current information and taking of position available in pamphlets (largely reproduction of Schumacher speeches), but absence of theoretical or historical material. The party does not have a theoretical journal of its own, although the weekly Neue Vorwärts partly fulfills this function. We have our first sense of inner-party difficulties and problems: cleavage between young and older members contradiction between local (municipal) and national policies absence of ideological roots confusion as to perspective, etc. (see conclusion). The party now numbers 1,000,000 members throughout Western Germany and is clearly the largest, strongest, best-organized movement in the country. Very weak among the youth and students, however. Many local organs, and smaller publications. It is sheer insanity for any socialist, of any shade of opinion, not to participate completely in the life of this party.

A visit to Bonn University and discussion with students. Frustrated hopes of the past 6 years are heard from all sides true, they were naive to begin with (pacifism, United States of Europe, true democracy, etc.) but defeated naiveté turns into sour pessimism and cynicism. These students have lost the drive we noted among them in 1947, even though their material conditions were far inferior then. They are concentrated now on their studies, careers (keeping out of the ranks of Germany&rsquos unhappy intellectual proletariat), material things, livelihood. They dislike the government, the state, all parties. Political clubs are numerous, but poorly attended. Only the Catholic youth groups have a certain success virtually no Stalinist groups. We get the impression that the students, who showed signs of breaking away from their traditional isolation with German society during the years immediately after the war, have once more retired within themselves. If they no longer form the aristocratic elite of the past, they are nonetheless apart from German political and social life. Time lacks to sound their cultural interests or development Sartre and his doctrines are still flourishing among them, however.

Duesseldorf/Rhineland, July 10, 11, 12: An agreeable trip to this city, gateway to the Ruhr, on the famous Rhinegold Express. The fields appear in excellent shape much more agricultural equipment in sight than in France. The Rhine wines are as fine as ever. A stopover at Cologne to see the Cathedral, spared by American technique of precision bombing. The rest of the city is still pathetically destroyed, with little reconstructed.

Duesseldorf, once known as the Paris of Germany, is still an attractive city. Large avenues (Koenigs Allee), parks, lakes, a faint resemblance to modern Paris. The regional differences between Germans (even from city to city within the same region) never fails to impress. The spoken language, appearance and dress, but most particularly, the personality change drastically. An important center of commerce, industry, government socialist and trade-union centers likewise.

A visit to the Socialist Party headquarters evidence of party activities, construction of centers in all centers, towns, factory units, etc., of the neighborhood. There are over 50,000 party members in the city and surroundings. An equally valuable visit to Hans Beeckler [sic!] house, national center of the German trade-union movement (DGB). Friendly officials of the center provide much material on reconstruction of the trade-union movement, and freely discuss the newly-adopted Mitbestimmungsrecht (Co-determination law), which has confronted the union movement with a new perspective and new problems (see conclusion). A conflict appears to be brewing between the socialists and the trade- union leadership, including its new president (Fette) over specific issues which include the Schumann Plan, political influence in the unions, etc. The DGB is a completely unified movement, but this does not mean that political and ideological influences do not express themselves within it. Catholics, socialists, Stalinists, etc., are all alive and active within the unions. The responsible functionaries are mainly young, vigorous types, much interested in the outside world, broader views than their American colleagues, political many socialists.

Our first contact with one of the leftist, revolutionary groupings in Western Germany: the Independent Workers Party (UAP), formed this year at Worms from an amalgam of former Stalinists, Titoists, Trotskyists, various ultra-leftists. Impossibility of discussing with the leaders who, unfortunately, are away. However, it is not difficult to verify previous impressions about this group received from their press (Freie Tribune) and other sources. In no sense of the word a party (several hundred isolated individuals) sectarian positions on all questions an attitude of hostility toward the Socialist party which precludes any possibility of friendly collaboration (they consider the party of Schumacher in the same light as the pre-war reformist party!) a concentration on winning over the miserable Stalinist movement of Western Germany. The group has had no success and failed to develop since its premature foundation it is disoriented and evidently starting to fall to pieces. To complete the dismal picture, the indigestible so-called Trotskyist elements within it have begun their factional struggle for &ldquopower&rdquo and acceptance of their Russian position.

We stay at the home of socialist comrades. Comrade B. explains to us the problem of living in the inflationist, uncontrolled economy of Adenauer. He shows us his monthly pay form, as a city employee. Its story is a revealing one as to actual living conditions. He supports a wife (housewife) and one child. Here is his situation.

He earns 406 Marks (roughly $100) per month this is exceptionally high pay average is about 250 Marks ($60).

From this are deducted the following taxes:

His take-home pay is therefore only 310 Marks, after all deductions amounting to almost 25 per cent of his earnings! Unmarried men are taxed one-third of their income. Das Geld ist sehr knapp, say the Germans everywhere it is universally true &ndash no one has any money. Here are some elementary statistics on living standards, incomes, etc., as of today. Real wages are 33 per cent lower today than they were in 1936. City food prices (1938 equals 100) have risen to 174 in 1950, and 234 in 1951. In general, living standards are about 10 per cent below that of France.

Incomes are fantastically distorted. More than 6 million people earn less than 100 Marks ($25) per month 86 per cent of the employed population earns under 400 Marks ($100) per month (or, 60 per cent of the total income), whereas the remaining 14 per cent earn up to 8,000 Marks (or the other 40 per cent of the national income). Sixty per cent of those working (or, 20 million) earn 400 Marks or less per month. The Social Democratic Party publication, News From Germany (April&ndashMay 1951) has published the excellent material we reproduce below: Changes in the Social Structure of German Society.

The present social structure of Western Germany is that of a modern industrial class state and the following statistics prove this.

Population of the Federal Republic = 48 million
of this, employables, not independent = over 16 million

54 per cent of the population is Protestant,
46 per cent of the population is Catholic,

27 per cent of the population lives in cities,
less than in the Reich before the last war.

Distribution of trades and professions

Public officials and employees

(incl. owners of means production,
that is capitalists in the old sense
&ndash rough estimate)

  • About 38 per cent of the workers live in towns.
  • About 6 per cent of the workers live in the country.

The process of transformation from agricultural to industrial and export state began around 1890 in Germany very rapidly.

  • 1882 &ndash 43 per cent of the population employed in agriculture.
  • 1950 &ndash 20 per cent only of the population employed in agriculture.

The number of dependent workers (wage and salary earners), in the total of all employed persons rose from 60 per cent in 1895 to 91 per cent in 1950. In 1882 about 40 per cent of those employed in production were independent, in 1920 only 20 per cent.

During the same period the number of salaried workers and officials rose from 6 per cent to 18 per cent, and of pensioners and disabled from 6 per cent to 14 per cent.

This development, inherent to capitalism, was influenced and interrupted by outside factors after both the world wars.

Today the whole population and social structure is out of balance. The population pyramid has become deformed. Dependence upon foreign markers has increased. In both 1918 and 1945 Germany was stripped of all foreign capital, of export markets, colonies, merchant fleet, etc.

After 1918 the total loss of foreign assets was around 35 million gold marks.

After 1945 this loss was about 13 million gold Marks.

The flight of capital is estimated at 3 thousand million marks already. Reparations and dismantling after both world wars were not the most severe loss from Germany&rsquos national assets, except for the reparations and dismantling after 1945 in the Eastern Zone.

The social contrasts are clearly shown in cultural fields:

  • 90 per cent of the West German population attend elementary and secondary schools.
  • 2 per cent are academically educated (universities).
  • 3 per cent approx. of the students come from the working class.
  • Only 2 per cent from manual laborers.

Income and, Standard of Living

The classification of income and property, and of the standard of living shows even more clearly the social cleavage. Approx. 75 per cent of all workers, employees and officials have a net income of up to 250.&mdash DM. The average West German income is 250.&mdash DM, the number of dependent employees is in a ratio of 4 : 1 to the independents, but their total incomes are in ratio of 1.5 : 1.

Of the income below 350.&ndash DM 80&ndash85 per cent is used for the following fundamental necessities: more than 48 per cent for food, etc., about 20 per cent for housing, of this 9 per cent for rents, about 17 per cent for clothing.

Of the remaining 15 per cent, only 7 per cent is used for all types of cultural needs, the least being spent on books. Cultural needs are therefore shrinking. Neither is much being saved.

In this family we see, in a still more striking form, that evidence of discontinuity between all forms of German life, thought and activity. A young socialist, active, eager, responsible secretary of an important trade union, anxious to develop both his political life and his personal education. He lives with an older man, a Social Democrat of the pre-war, pre-Hitler school, mistrustful to the point of disagreeableness toward his young comrade. In the party groups, I learn, the conflict between the two generations is a serious affair. It is not a simple affair of two generations which clash because of normal differences due to age it is a difference of mentality and psychology. Worst of all, a transitional age group (those in their 40&rsquos or late 30&rsquos) seems to be missing these generations were Hitlerized and do not participate in political life. Hence, the characteristic gap. The old Social Democrats, educated in the reformist traditions of Kautsky, Hilferding, the Weimar Constitution, etc., cannot understand these dynamic, younger socialists with their absence of theoretical training, knowledge and tradition (of any kind!). &ldquoThey were raised under Hitler,&rdquo they say, &ldquoand don&rsquot understand democracy.&rdquo By that, they mean the concepts of Social Democracy during its most reformist period. On the other hand, the younger elements confuse education and training in theory with the stale doctrine of reformism during the 20&rsquos and 30&rsquos! There is no contact between the two groups a vast hole was formed by the Nazi epoch and no abstract education can fill it up. Perhaps the most significant achievement of Schumacher has been to bridge partly this gap, and hold the party together by giving it a national viewpoint and program, thus lifting it out of the field of traditional municipal and local Social Democratic politics (which constitutes the main activity of the Old Guard). The young socialist generation, active trade unionists, party functionaries, etc., are the real life of the party.

But what education shall they be given? In reflecting on this question, we feel the inadequacy of the traditional ideas of socialist education not only that of the reformist school, but of the radical socialist schools. Abstract doctrine can never shape these comrades into a coherent group of socialist leaders they are primarily concerned with the concrete experience of their own activity: trade-union work, co-determination in the factories, organization and administration of economic and social institutions, etc. A new type of socialist is emerging everywhere those who cannot recognize this fact will never touch them. With all his failings, our young socialist friend (unhampered by false, doctrinaire hangovers), rooted in the concrete but anxious to deduce broader truths from this concrete, is worth a hundred of the resentful Old Guard, weighed down by their sterile traditions. But much more must be said on this matter .

Essen/Ruhr, July 13, 14: The city of Essen lies in the heart of the Ruhr district, that territory of valleys and hills constituting Europe&rsquos greatest industrial concentration. The train speeds past huge factory units, coal pitheads, bureaus, freight yards &ndash all the signs of an enormous and active industrial center. Innumerable coal towns are scattered about cities are linked together by their factory suburbs. Essen is the industrial and administrative heart of the Ruhr in all directions trails of black smoke and a vague haze of soot.

Essen itself has a tragic appearance, completely destroyed. Of all the cities we visit, Essen most resembles the ruined cities of 1944 and 1945. Huge areas covered by skeleton walls, much rubble, people still in huts or cellar caves. On a hill stands the remains of what must have been an elaborate and gaudy Jewish synagogue, probably the reformed group. A new memorial in front of it tells us that the 2,500 Jews of Essen were gathered here before being shipped to their death. The building is sealed, scorched and blackened &ndash by the Nazis, or by the bombing? A woman, waiting for a street car, approaches and suggests that perhaps, someday, the synagogue will be rebuilt and opened. She accepts our comment that that depends upon the German people. She describes the entire city as a memorial to the dead. But on the city&rsquos outskirts, the smokestacks of the Krupp Werke are busily producing. It is not possible to remain very long in this city. On our way out, we pass a large group of unemployed gathered around the Arbeitsamt. Many of them tell us they are refugees, from the East &ndash poorly dressed, rather depressed and desperate looking. They live on an insignificant relief there are still 1½ million unemployed in Western Germany.

Hamburg/North Germany, July 17&ndash21: The trip to Hamburg from Essen is a long, but interesting one. We stop at various cities on the way for a brief tour, or to spend the night: Bochum, Dortmund, Münster, Osnabruck, Bremen, etc. The industrial cities appear to be highly active (people speak of a partial boom), the administrative and commercial centers are more sedate. But everywhere, the Germans walk as all industrious, individualist people do: in a straight line, never stopping, their minds set on their goal. There is none of that relaxed, street-corner informality of France here. In Dortmund, we begin to feel the pinch of insufficient travel funds: prices are considerably higher than we expected (particularly hotels, which range from 6 to 10 Marks for a night). Food is high coffee impossible.

After the smoking city of Bochum, we leave the Ruhr, touch on the northern fringe of Sauerland, a beautiful rolling strip of the northern plain and the Totenburger Wald, and pass rapidly through the first towns and ports of northern Germany. Bremen forms the American enclave of the north, a busy port now receiving the numerous American military formations on their way southwards. The people watch in the streets, but say little or nothing it has become a familiar sight, even in reverse. The approach to Hamburg takes us through a corner of the famous Lüneburger Heide, the heather region of the north. Our first impressions of the city are that of an immense seaport, active, well-built-up, cosmopolitan atmosphere. We are not wrong Hamburg is one of the most advanced, international, sophisticated cities of the country. Our visit here is worth every moment of it .

Several long and valuable discussions with Dr. H., who welcomes us with generosity and spontaneity. An old Marxist and socialist, now in the Social Democratic party, he describes the difficult and bureaucratic atmosphere to be found in local formations, where the old party leadership dominates. The city of Hamburg forms a Land by itself, thus creating a double administrative apparatus (city and Land), as well as having a considerable revenue from taxes and port activities. Conditions for the creation of a bureaucratic apparatus are more favorable than anywhere in Western Germany the Social Democrats who hold power locally have not missed their chance. We learn of the incredible story of recent weeks where students of Hamburg University, demonstrating for retention of reduced student fares, were set upon by Burgermeister Brauer&rsquos police and fire department as &ldquocommunists&rdquo! German students as &ldquocommunists&rdquo!

Many left-wing socialists in the SPD have become seriously demoralized by the behavior of the party bureaucracy, and the grip retained locally by the older elements. They are pessimistic and lack a sense of the concrete possibilities. Will the party win an absolute majority in next year&rsquos general elections and thus form the government of Western Germany? They are sceptical and doubtful, although they do not exclude the possibility or the alternative of a coalition government with one or more of the refugee parties. The Christian Democrats are in decline the Stalinists have been badly beaten throughout Germany, but the perspective is for a rebirth of the more reactionary, rightist groups. In Hamburg we are first entering the territory of the various so-called neo-Nazi parties and groups (SRP, etc.). We discuss in detail alternative possibilities, the need to have a clear outlook and perspective, to engage in concrete work. The elements for a broad left wing in the SPD certainly exist, but the will to create it, the leadership and the leader, appear to be absent at present. Too much pessimism and abstentionism in this milieu!

Why is this? Much of the explanation is at hand despite wide belief in these circles that war is not at hand and the Russians are far weaker than is generally accepted, there is a great sense of Western Germany&rsquos inability to play an important role because of its unfavorable position in the world an even greater sense of frustration, lack of contact with one another and with international circles, lack of any centralizing theoretical or political journal. Much interest in Bevan and his movement, with the hope that it may stimulate regroupment efforts elsewhere. Lack of initiative and drive, largely due to the overwhelming occupation with gaining a living under adverse conditions, long hours of work, fatigue, etc. The German radical intelligentsia has a difficult time of itl

We hear a discussion on the issue of German remilitarization (Wiederaufrüstungspolitik) (see conclusion). Everyone assumes that there will be some form of German militarization, that it is inevitable &ndash in fact, that it has already begun. Considering the ever more frequent appearance of thousands of young Germans in new, blue-colored uniforms in all the principal cities of the country, there would seem to be much truth in this! These men have enlisted in the Bundespolizei, but the charge is that they form basic cadres for the new army. In appearance and uniform, they resemble the old Wehrmacht soldiers, down to the peaked cap &ndash only the color has changed. The issue, we are informed, is no longer, shall there be remilitarization, but what form shall it take what tactical and strategic goals shall it have? We find no agreement over this. The American proposals are denounced as half-way measures which defeat their own purpose and only serve to provoke the Russians. There is not much clear thinking on this issue our friends consider war, per se, so futile and incapable of settling anything that they automatically transfer this feeling to the belief that Germany is indefensible and helpless in the given situation. We question them as to their views on the concepts of a popular army, people&rsquos militia, etc., the views of the old Jaurès in his famous book. They are interested, but seem not to have reflected before on such a concept.

Dr. B., a highly cultivated socialist, thoroughly trained in economic subjects and administration entertains us with stories of his experiences with the Russians. The Germans know the Russians better than anyone else you must learn to outdrink them, they say, or you are lost! There is no hysterical denunciation of the Russians as such, but an effort to understand them as human beings and to find their weak points. This man has no fear of them given support and a policy, he would be prepared to meet them on their own terrain. He describes for us the industrial and economic problems of the Ruhr, the revival of the Ruhr barons (&ldquothe most cynical bourgeoisie in the world&rdquo), the effect of American policies in the Ruhr, the false economy of Western Germany. There are many highly capable left-wing socialists like Dr. B., who, somewhat discouraged and isolated, are unable to exercise their talents in this stagnant land of Adenauer. Would a socialist electoral victory bring them to the front? The party could never depend upon its Old Guard to carry on a progressive government much would change with such a victory.

This lively, energetic Hanseatic city is certainly one of the intellectual and political centers of Germany its atmosphere is much freer than that of other German cities. Huge areas are entirely razed, but large parts of the city were completely untouched by bombing. The style of bombing was different here, and what is left forms a genuine city. The port area, the old city, St. Pauli and various suburbs give a personality to Hamburg we have not found elsewhere.

Hanover/Saxony, July 20: A trip to this commercial and administrative center of Saxony a few brief hours passing over the Lunebürger Heide, a beautiful agricultural territory. In Hanover, we are told, the most perfect German is spoken, with a clear and elegant accent. There is much industry, &ldquoVolkswagon&rdquo factory and assembly plants (old model car is 3,000 marks new model for export is 5,000). The Hanoverians are active, rather aloof, distant. We remember that Saxony is the center of revival of the new reactionary movements (SRP of Remer, etc.), that it has a tradition much different from Berlin, Hamburg, the Ruhr. Yet, until recently, it was the headquarters of the Socialist Party, and SPD strength is a major factor in the whole territory. The city was badly damaged by the British there is much facade reconstruction in the center a huge reconstruction and building show is being given.

In a discussion with local socialists, the issue of perspective is frankly (and somewhat pessimistically) sounded by an excellent left socialist, G. He does not believe the party can win the next elections, that too many neo-reactionary forces (encouraged largely by the Americans) can prevent such a development the evolution of the trade-union movement and the concretization of its newly-won Mitbestimmungsrecht (see conclusion) are more important. He warns against an abstract interpretation of this new law, and the assumption in Marxist circles that it must necessarily create a layer of bureaucratized worker-delegates. Integration of all left socialists in the party through practical and concrete work (he holds an elective county position, unknown in America, which brings him into contact with a multitude of people), seems his central idea.

We visit a Bundesschule located in a town outside of Hanover. These are regional trade-union schools, organized all over Germany by the central trade union (DGB). Systematic courses of 2 or 3 weeks length are held without letup picked worker delegates, secretaries, etc., attend these courses in trade-union problems, organization, co-determination, legal rights, etc. Nothing so thorough or organized exists to our knowledge elsewhere. It is a true trade-union school a part of the broad revival of German workers&rsquo education very impressive and important.

Nuremberg/Bavaria, July 23: A long and very beautiful trip to Nuremberg, broken off for short stops at the university city of Göttingen, Fulda, Würzbörg, etc. We are back in the American zone of occupation, our first return in six years! In the train (travelling first or second class) are the first GIs we have so far seen Nuremberg is full of them, wandering about, seemingly lost and with nothing to do. (A GI in a foreign land seems to cultivate the air of not belonging there.) The long rolling hills and woods of the Fränkische Schweiz through which we pass for hours seems to us one of the most attractive parts of all Germany.

The Nuremberg we last saw was one of the most battered cities of the country the old medieval city of Hans Sachs was a pile of garbage, with most people living under the pile. We were anxious to see what had happened to all of this in 6 years. This is apparently one of the few cities where a coordinated municipal effort has been made to disperse the ruins of the past and resurrect the old city. Restoration of the medieval towers, walls, churches, etc., is evident everywhere the famous Dürer Haus is back, as well as the statue of Hans Sachs. The toy, leather and other light industries are said to be restored also. These Bavarians are not political types the socialist movement is feeble in southern Germany. They are lighter, moreready for adventure than their northern countrymen. At the moment, they are quiet and remain with their traditional conservative, Catholic and reactionary parties. The presence of numerous Americans in uniform is a part of the scenery, just as much as the ruined structures of the city&rsquos suburbs. A mutual indifference.

Munich/Bavaria, July 25: The university city of Erlangen, slightly north of Nuremberg, has taken on a new appearance (and prosperity) with the transfer of the huge administrative center of the Simens Werke, German equivalent of G.E., from Berlin to the city. Testifying to the real capabilities of German industry, a series of excellent apartments for the employees, have been built. The capital exists, when the big firms want to make use of it, but neither municipalities nor cooperative associations can lay their hands on any. En route to Munich we pass through the dense agricultural areas of southern Bavaria, Augsburg and cross the Danube at Donau agreeable countryside approaching Munich and the Alps of Austria and southern Germany.

Munich itself is a jammed city of perhaps 1,000,000 now the characteristic Munich type seems partly drowned in the mass of refugees from Silesia (many of whom have a strong Polish appearance), the Czech Sudentenland and the east generally. The city is a center of refugees, and refugee organizations: Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, etc. It has lost much of its former personality, not at all a bad thing. The socialists are stronger than before, under left leadership, but many people are on vacation and there is little occasion for discussions. We visit the severely damaged city little reconstruction in sight. The old churches are still unrepaired, but the famous Deutsche Museum has been restored. Placed on an island in the river, this scientific and natural history museum is completely fascinating: realistic reproduction of the interiors of coal and iron ore mines, halls of communications, transportation, etc. Where else but in Germany could one be conducted by a guide through a hall of ancient musical instruments and have this same guide sit down and demonstrate each instrument with Beethoven, Bach, etc.? New halls in the museum indicate new development in German physics and research work. This place alone warrants a visit to the city.

The Bavarians seem to have no political life worthy of the name they live on an easier level than their brothers to the north. It is easy to understand why American visitors feel more at home in southern Germany it is a kind of glorified mid-west region.

Frankfurt-am-Main, July 28, 29: A long night trip through southwest Germany to this commercial, business and administrative city which bears most heavily the mark of the war, the occupation, and its consequences. The &ldquoAmerican way of life&rdquo is in evidence on each street, each corner, each building. The city is the departure point for tourists, business men, officials, military people, etc. Every act here has an official character, dimly related to some decree, directive, law or authority. Reactionary nationalists and leftwingers avoid this city, feeling it is not a part of the new Germany. After a short, somewhat boring stay we take the train back through Saarbruecken, en route to Paris. The tour is over is it possible to find any consistency in this multitude of observations?

Paris/France, August 1951: Conclusions: The time necessary to digest the multitude of registered impressions and observations has passed what rough conclusions may be drawn from this trip? We shall resumé them under three headings: (a) The question of rearmament (b) The Social Democratic Party and its perspective (c) Co-determination and the unions.

Rearmament: &ldquoThe Allies made war upon us because we were too militarist,&rdquo writes a German liberal publication. &ldquoNow they attack us for being too pacifist!&rdquo The lesson that war does not pay was thoroughly driven home by the Allies, particularly the Americans. Now the same gentlemen complain bitterly about the unwillingness of the German to &ldquodefend&rdquo himself, to take up arms again. The irony is a little too evident and lost on no one.

Yet the general German attitude has considerably evolved since the period of the Ohne mich (&ldquowithout me&rdquo) movements, when the rearmament issue was originally posed. In point of fact, German rearmament is now inevitable and the only question is just what shape, form and extent it will assume. Actually, the elements of rearmament have already begun, but the process of conditioning the population to its acceptance is not yet complete. But they will be completed, and the young German men (like so many others) will once more know the feel of a uniform and a rifle. How many is another question. But the American determination to rearm Germany, despite the coolness or hostility of other Atlantic Pact members, gives rise to other factors not exactly welcomed by the same power: we refer to the mushroom rise of genuinely reactionary, chauvinist movements, organizations of Wehrmacht veterans, etc. The American conception of a rearmed Germany consists of subordinate forces with limited armament, within an Atlantic Pact framework an essentially defensive force to meet the first shock of a Russian advance. An army, in a word, fitting the conservative, weak, cooperative Adenauer government. But other gentlemen have other ideas! The revival of authentic chauvinism, militarism and expansionism eastwards (beginning with reconquest of lost territories) follows automatically. To be sure, all German veterans&rsquo organizations are not reactionary most express legitimate pension, and other demands of the veteran mass. Further, only 1 out of 10 veterans belongs to any organization, so far. But the fashion in which American policy conceives rearmament automatically releases the most hostile and traditionally reactionary forces within Germany, whether the Americans like that or not!

What is the position of Dr. Schumacher and the SPD on the question? Naturally, it has had a rapid evolution since the question of remilitarization was first posed. But one aspect has remained consistent: the question cannot be considered in the abstract, apart from the general international position of Western Germany, the occupation status, the problem of Ruhr ownership, the kind of rearmament proposed, German economic life, etc. The SPD has rejected rearmament as conceived of by Adenauer and the Americans it has equally rejected an absolutist and abstract &ldquoanti-rearmament&rdquo position such as put forward by pacifist organizations, the new UAP movement, etc. How, instead, has it aproached the problem? The essence is contained in the principal speech of Schumacher, early this year, which was widely distributed in pamphlet form: Gleiches Risike, Gleiches Opfer, Gleiche Chancen! (&ldquoEqual Risk, Equal Sacrifice, Equal Chances.&rdquo)

This brochure describes the conditions under which German rearmament can take place: the absolute independence of Germany in relation to the remnants of the occupation and its controls an ending of the reactionary, anti-social policy of the Adenauer regime within Germany the practice of a program of social reforms and measures to end unemployment, uncontrolled price structure, etc., solution of the Saar question an ending of the Schumann Plan in its present form and the policy of the allies in the Ruhr support of the SPD campaign for German reunification. For Schumacher, only the German masses can decide the issue of rearmament, along with the other issues before them. The sine qua non of such decisions is complete restoration of national independence it is in this context that one must understand the alleged &ldquonationalism&rdquo of the party spokesman and his party. [2]

Put in such a fashion the question of rearmament becomes a social and political question, centered about the inner political life of Germany itself, and the struggle for a Social Democratic electoral victory and the creation of a progressive regime in the country. Rearmament then becomes an even more concrete question: under whom, what kind of an army, socially and politically speaking what conditions will be fulfilled first of all, etc.? The real struggle, then, in Germany has become one of how rearmament shall manifest itself not the issue of an abstract principle. This is how it must be understood. And it is here that we can best touch upon the question of what is the perspective of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

The Social Democratic Party and its Perspective: The party now has one million members, and is at the height of its post-war influence. Any socialist who stands outside its ranks is clearly wasting his time (and that of other people). It is the most important and progressive party in continental Europe. Some sectarian circles of Trotskyists and others similar to them are fond of describing the SPD in terms of the old, pre-war, Weimar Republic social democratic reformist movement. Blinder nonsense could not be spoken. The party is a mass of contradictory tendencies of a greater or lesser potential development: old reformist elements, a mass of enthusiastic but uneducated socialists, a splendid layer of trade-union responsibles and organizers, a scattering of left-wing socialists, two or three isolated and thoroughly sectarian grouplets (Funken, etc.) living a useless existence, a section of youth. The new social basis of German capitalism make it impossible for the pure reformist element to advance the illusions of an &ldquoorganic growth with capitalism&rdquo as they once did. This is a new kind of socialist party, which must find a new social base and program.

That base, of course, can only be found by conquest of power over the real economic life of the country: the heavy industries, the Ruhr, the credit machinery, etc. At the same time, the socialist interest in the trade-union movement is far different from that of the pre-war days. The socialists today want to see the unions become instruments in this same struggle for control over industry and its products hence their development and pushing of the co-determination issue. The circumstances of life in Germany oblige the socialists to advance the most progressive, militant and practical kind of economic and social program and to prepare to put it into effect. The perspective of the party is to take political power throughout Germany, to form the government, and to carry out their program much as the British Labour Party executed its program. This includes wresting of the Ruhr industries from private ownership and their complete nationalization institution of a controlled economy of prices, wages and profits a reformed tax structure to accomplish equalization of wealth and a series of social reform measures affecting housing, education, pensions, etc. Why should not the party carry out such a program if it receives the popular mandate from the German people? Speed the day of elections and electoral victory!

Co-determination and the Unions: &ldquoCo-determination&rdquo is now operative in all the coal and iron and steel works of Germany having 1,000 or more workers. It is the most significant development in European post-war labor history. To prejudge it as a &ldquobolstering of capitalism,&rdquo or an employees&rsquo concession to curb trade-union development, or a revival of pre-war Social Democratic Arbeitsgemeinschaft policy, would be to misunderstand grossly the situation and preclude a progressive development of this instrument for workers&rsquo experience and training in the techniques of industrial management and commerce. Indicating the &ldquoalgebraic&rdquo character of the entire concept, the law itself does not define but simply declares that Mitbestimmungsrecht exists in specified industries, etc. Obviously, the future will see what concrete content is given this juridical formula the struggle for the decisive 11th man representative on the managerial council has already begun. Further, the unions and the SPD have joined together to demand the extension of this system to all German firms and industries having 300 or more workers. The heart of the matter seems to us the fact that co-determination has provided a framework within which not only can the best workers&rsquo representatives gain invaluable experience for the future, but also a managerial and economic consciousness on the part of the mass of workers can be enhanced. This should not be underestimated.

Footnotes

1. In Germany, the church institutions are supported by direct taxation which a member must pay unless he resigns from his church.

2. The reference here is, of course, to the hypocritical attacks upon Schumacher&rsquos &ldquonationalism&rdquo made, above all, in the American bourgeois press. Schumacher&rsquos position from the socialist standpoint is quite a different matter. &ndash Ed.


Classroom Activity : Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Commentary) - History

Jay Winter and Antoine Prost analyze a multitude of books on World War I written by French, British and German scholars in order to show patterns of themes and methods over time. The authors set themselves a daunting task, as their comparative study considers not only the work of historians, but also encompasses literary works, television shows, films and museums. The book's cover page has a picture of a cemetery with books as tombstones, portraying the countless numbers of books already written on the Great War. Even though most of the writings on the First World War focus on military, political and diplomatic history, the authors add social, cultural and economic history. The work presents a multi-disciplinary, multi-national and multi-methodological approach. Prost and Winter argue that books and films on World War I can be grouped into three different generations (pp. 1-5). The book, originally published in French, examines how seven major themes (diplomatic and economic histories and the histories of generals, soldiers, workers, civilians and memory) have been treated within this three-generation framework. Although the authors leave out some works, do not fully state the arguments of each historian, and force the history of memory and that of workers into a slightly uncomfortable framework, they offer an outstanding historiographical study.

Prost and Winter argue that three different generations interpreted the war within "three historiographical configurations" (p. 31). The first, which they have called the "Generation of 1935," understood events in a nineteenth-century context. These scholars emphasized the nation and wrote history from the top down. The second generation, which witnessed World War II, described the Great War as a "tragedy played out by powerful collective actors: soldiers, workers, civilians" (pp. 200, 203). Finally, the third generation has turned toward cultural history and micro-historical analysis. According to Winter and Prost, regardless of which generation historians belong to, three questions reoccur again and again: "Why and how did the war break out? How was it conducted how was it won and lost? What were its consequences?" (p. 199).

As first-generation witnesses who wrote immediately after World War I until the 1930s, generals, diplomats and historians wrote the history of the war as a political and diplomatic problem. The key issue was "war guilt"--that is, who started the war. Key sources were diplomatic documents published by the belligerent powers immediately after the war. Winter and Prost maintain that the first generation wrote history from above, focusing on generals, politicians and diplomats but ignoring common soldiers. For example, the highly acclaimed French historian Pierre Renouvin, who wrote a thorough account of the Great War during the interwar period and who was himself wounded in combat, stated, "the evidence of soldiers, the consultation of which is important for the understanding of the atmosphere of battle, can rarely give information on the conduct of operations, since their field of vision was too narrow" (p. 14). This approach was also typical of scholars in Great Britain and Germany.

According to Prost and Winter, the second generation (whose members wrote during the latter half of the twentieth century) contributed to a dramatic increase in the number of books and historical reviews published. In particular, three French war veterans in the 1960s--Andre Ducasse, Jacques Meyer and Gabriel Perreux--reintegrated history from above with the experience of common soldiers and history from below. The second generation emphasized social issues and class conflict, as post-World War II events in Vietnam and Algerian influenced writing about World War I. Marxist historians in particular focused on the laboring classes, miners, workers and peasants. Television became a new medium that reached millions of people. In 1964, the BBC produced the first series on World War I in which viewers saw graphic images a joint production from France and Germany soon followed. In Britain, A. J. P. Taylor's The First World War: An Illustrated History (1964) likewise used images to portray the war as a reckless waste.

The second generation from the 1960s to the early 1980s shifted its focus from the question of war guilt to war origins and war aims. Arno Mayer contended that after World War I governments replaced the old diplomacy of secret treaties and imperialism with a program of "new diplomacy" that included open diplomacy, freedom of trade, popular self-determination, armaments reduction and an international body that could mediate disputes. Critical to the discussion of war aims was the German historian Fritz Fischer, who in the 1960s asserted that Germany wanted and planned for World War I so that it could dominate Europe. James Joll blamed alliances and imperialism. French Marxists blamed imperialism and capitalism.

Prost and Winter argue that the shift from the second to the third generation involved a smooth switch in emphasis from social to cultural history. Winter and Prost use the term "Generation of 1992" to describe the third generation because in that year, the Historial de la grande guerre opened in Peronne. A French museum inaugurated during a conference on war and culture, it contains objects from France, Germany and Britain (pp. 28, 200, 203). The focus of the third generation was also more micro-historical than global identity and memory became highly important. The transition is exemplified by the 1996 BBC series The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century, which focused on cultural themes, such as the ideas, behavior, memories and aspirations of soldiers. Scholars of the third generation include Paul Fussell, who wrote The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) and John Keegan, author of The Face of Battle (1976). Instead of considering origins of the war, writers of the third generation focused on problems with the peace settlement that caused another war. They asked, therefore, if the treaty with Germany was too harsh, too lenient or just not enforced. The British economist John Maynard Keynes was an early critic of the treaty, and he had maintained that Germany could never pay the high reparations that the Allies imposed. However, historians of the third generation--such as Gerald Feldman and Niall Ferguson--questioned Keynes's conclusions by arguing that Germany could indeed have paid. In addition, David Stevenson argued that because the Allies could not agree on the treaty enforcement, they severely weakened it. Margaret Macmillan and later Gerd Krumeich have criticized the peacemakers for not giving self-determination to non-whites, which led to unrest in Asia.

The authors also assert that military history fits into the three generations scheme. The central question military historians ask of the war is "who commanded and how?" Prost and Winter distinguish between three periods of military history: a "heroic" phase, a critical history of command and fragmented national histories (p. 59). The "heroic" period (the interwar era), mainly told the story of great men, such as Paul Painleve's book on Philippe Petain (1923), and great battles, like Gabriel Hanotaux's treatment of the Somme (1920). National identity heavily biased many of the writings of the first period. During the second period (1960s-70s), the focus shifted to the history of command. Historians critically analyzed the role of the commanders (Petain, Helmuth von Moltke, Erich Ludendorff) and the political leaders (Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Raymond Poincaré). Television series on World War I likewise shifted to a more realistic portrayal of the war. The result was a depiction of anger, frustration and stalemate. The Vietnam and Algerian wars led to a highly fragmented third phase of military history during the 1980s and 1990s and "new" military historians emerged. Some contended that command witnessed a "learning curve," but others asserted that leaders stubbornly repeated the same mistakes (pp. 79-80).

Regarding the military history of the "soldiers," the authors also contend that this particular aspect of military history has changed greatly over time and can be categorized into three main periods. First-generation historians of the Great War, like Renouvin, left out the soldiers and took a top-down approach. Petain had written about the French mutiny without focusing on the mutineers. After the 1960s, works of the second period emphasized the role of the soldiers and relied on soldiers' memoirs and accounts. Gabriel Perreux examined civilian life and Guy Pedroncini studied the soldiers involved in the French mutiny. Keegan's Face of Battle (1976) discussed the battlefield in terms of bombardments, plans and soldiers' behavior. Jean-Jacques Becker analyzed the mobilization of troops. More recent historians, of the third generation--such as John Fuller, John Horne and Alan Kramer, Jean-Yves Le Naour, Anne Lipp and Annette Becker--have examined cultural topics, such as leisure activities in the trenches the social class of the soldiers violence during war the language of the soldiers' letters sexual practices of the troops wartime morale and war culture.

According to Winter and Prost, the economic history of the Great War falls likewise falls into three historiographical generations. In the first period, scholars analyzed the leadership's economic policies. Keynes asserted that Germany could not pay the reparations. Besides reparations, another issue that concerned first generation historians was the legality of the Allied blockade. In the 1920s and 1930s the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace commissioned a series of books that argued that the war had ended the free market and replaced it with state price controls. Carnegie Endowment historians concluded that the blockade was vital in defeating Germany. In the 1960s and 1970s, the second generation emphasized the partnership between big industry, economic interest groups and the military. C. Wright Mills focused on "power elites"-- civilians in positions of power. In the 1960s, historians blamed Germany's defeat on its economic failures, namely its inability to supply its troops and civilians. The Allies won because they had much more efficient methods of distribution. Winter and Prost argue that the first generation of economic history was "public history," while in the 1960s economic history became "structural history" (pp. 115-116). Fischer is characteristic of the new trend in the 1960s in showing how the industry, military and navy collaborated in seeking war aims and influencing Germany's economic and war policies.

Third-generation scholars pursued a research agenda that combines the interests of the first two generations and examined the wartime economy as a complex system for distributing goods to the frontline and home front. In the 1980s and 1990s, the third generation emphasized "economic war aims and their international consequences" (p. 119). Kathleen Burk has examined how American and British global finances were used to fund the Allied war effort. Other third-generation historians have focused on the scientists and scientific advancements that occurred during the war, such as poison gas, Novocain and other new drugs. The French historian Olivier Lepick examined the chemist Fritz Haber and the British author Donald Richter also studied the role of chemists. In regard to the question of who actually won the economic war, historians of the third generation, like Gerald Feldman, maintained that inflation and economic misery occurred throughout Europe and was not restricted to the losers (pp. 119-123).

Unsurprisingly, then, the authors argue that the history of civilian population falls into three distinct generations. First, in the 1920s and 1930s civilians were seen simply as "masses" or pawns "mobilized, protected, or coerced" (p. 152). During the second generation, historians first became interested in the home front, with an emphasis on social unrest and revolution at the end of the war. Jürgen Kocka's Klassengesellschaft im Krieg (1973), on the social origins of German revolution, is one example. During the third phase, focus fell on the cultural history of the civilian population. Third-generation scholars turned to issues such as memory, "war cultures" and gender studies. One of the more fascinating works from the last group is Vejas Liulevicius's War Land on the Eastern Front (2000), which examines the German occupation of Poland and the Baltic during World War I. Liulevicius argues that already during this time a culture war was underway in which "superior" western views were forced onto "inferior eastern" peoples.

The history of memory and the history of workers during World War I have not gone through three fully developed phases and are exceptions to the authors' main thesis. Regarding workers and revolution, the authors state that the shift from the first to the second generation came later and that the third generation "exists only in a sketchy form" (p. 126). During the first generation from 1919-1965, the emphasis was on a political history of labor. In the 1920s, British historian Arthur Bowley wrote on prices, wages and mining. The first generation also examined the history of the Social Democrats in France, Germany, Great Britain and Russia. Marxist views heavily influenced authors writing in the 1960s, who often saw the Social Democrats as traitors to the revolution. Communism was a main focus of the first generation. The second generation (1965-2000) shifted from the politics of the labor movement to social history. Authors focused on new themes, including strike activity, trade unions and women in the workforce. There has been a modest drive toward more cultural history of labor, focusing on such things as mentalities of the workers, workers' pacifism and reformist aspirations.

Furthermore, the history of memory only fits into two historiographic periods rather than three. During the first period from 1918 to 1970, memory was dominated by the veterans of the war. The memory of combatants was a mostly male sphere. Great leaders, like Winston Churchill and Ludendorff, published most of the memoirs. During the second period (1970-2000), most of the survivors of World War I had died and memory work shifted to commemoration. Recent themes of the second period have included the mentality of the troops, shell shock and psychological disorders.

Winter and Prost offer a breathtaking and extensive study of World War I that includes books and films. Even though (as they themselves admit) the authors cannot possibly cover every single book ever written on the Great War, they cover the most important ones. There are some omissions. The authors acknowledge Samuel R. Williamson's argument that no one had predicted the collapse of Austria-Hungary before World War I and that Austrian domestic and foreign policies were closely related, but they do not restate his claim that Austria-Hungary was most responsible for beginning the war because of its preventive war against Serbia.[1] Nor do they discuss Paul Kennedy's argument that economic factors motivated the Anglo-German antagonism.[2] Overall, however, the book is a very well written, well researched, and interesting study--a must read for advanced history students who are interested in a comparative analysis of World War I or preparing for comprehensive exams. This book should serve as a model for a similar study of World War I books and films in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

[1]. Samuel R. Williamson, Jr., Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991).

[2]. Paul Kennedy, The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860-1914 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980 2nd ed., 1996).


The test of history

The views of classical Marxists have been cited above not because they have some sort of biblical authority, but because they are a distillation of the richest experience of working class struggle to date, and the clearest expression of how to deal with the conundrum facing all revolutionaries. If reformism had indeed been brought into the working class by elements from outside, then it might be possible to wait for a change in objective circumstances, for &ldquothe march of history&rdquo, to resolve the issue for us. Over a century of struggle shows that this is not the case. This means that when revolutionaries engage in activity the pressure to adapt to the majority reformist current, in order to gain some illusory short-term popularity, is enormous. Equally, the opposite defensive reaction, which leads to sectarian isolation, is always a potential danger.

The fact that, under ordinary circumstances, the majority of the working class is reformist and only a minority revolutionary, can lead to seeing the relationship between the two as a numbers game. To change the world from below a mass party is needed non-revolutionaries must be won over in as great a number as possible. So an obsession with size is understandable.

The problem is that if the ability of the revolutionary party to act as such is sacrificed, then the revolutionary project is doomed. Equally, maximising the number who support revolutionary change is very important indeed. It would be a grave mistake to be complacent and believe there is no point trying to win new people over. The classic Marxist response to this dilemma involves three fundamental steps which are political, not arithmetical: identification of the reformist problem as such an organisational break and the united front tactic (or its informal equivalent in terms of day to day practice).

Again the history of the movement can be instructive in this regard. In 1910 some 887 delegates met in Copenhagen at the Second International Congress and resolved that in the event of imperialist war an immediate worldwide general strike would be launched to bring it to a halt. Some delegations at the Congress were huge. There were 189 from Germany, 84 from Britain, 78 from France and 72 from Austria. Tiny Denmark had 146. Collectively they could boast millions of votes, and vast numbers of affiliated trade unionists as supporters. There were just 38 Russian delegates (including both reformists and revolutionaries). Alas, when the war broke out the resolution proved a dead letter. The huge reformist membership was no obstacle for the betrayal of principle by the leadership whose craven support for imperialist carnage was largely accepted.

Russia&rsquos situation was, in some respects, not so different from other countries in August 1914. All of Europe was engulfed by chauvinism. Only principled revolutionaries, a tiny minority at the time, withstood the tide. Lenin&rsquos opposition to the war was echoed in Luxemburg&rsquos Junius pamphlet and the courageous stand of Karl Liebknecht in the German parliament. In Britain, John Maclean also mounted a vigorous resistance to the war. Rejecting the arguments of &ldquonational interest&rdquo in this way invited not only state repression but popular derision and even physical violence. While Lenin had to remain in enforced exile, Maclean, Liebknecht and Luxemburg ended up in jail. Despite the justice of their arguments, everywhere revolutionaries were in an even smaller minority than before. For these reasons Lenin predicted he would not live to see the fall of Tsarism just a few weeks before it occurred. The starting point for a recovery which not only brought an end to the imperialist war but brought the world to the brink of socialist revolution began with firm revolutionary politics.

In this complete reversal of fortunes it was the Bolshevik Party that led the way. It took Russia out of the war and established a workers&rsquo state that inspired the whole world. The path from full retreat to victory was by no means straightforward, however. As mentioned above, in February the proportion of Bolshevik delegates relative to reformists in the Petrograd Soviet was minuscule&mdashjust 60 out of 1,000. Nevertheless, by October 1917 the party was able to convince the Russian working class of the need for revolution. That was due less to numbers than to the combination of both its principled political stance and its maturity as an interventionist organisation.

In the heady days immediately after the fall of the Romanovs the general mood was that all differences should be forgotten in the name of class unity, and the split between revolutionaries and reformists set aside. The Bolsheviks withstood this pressure, and it was not long before the &ldquodifferent goal&rdquo of reformism, identified by Luxemburg in Reform or Revolution?, re-emerged. The Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries argued for prolonging the First World War, delaying land distribution, and the continuation of capitalism. By contrast, after the adoption of Lenin&rsquos April Theses, the Bolsheviks called for &ldquopeace, land and bread&rdquo. But principle alone was not enough.

In July 1917 radical sections in Petrograd wanted an immediate socialist revolution, at a time when the majority of Russian workers were still wedded to reformism. It took Lenin&rsquos efforts working through the Bolshevik Party as an experienced, relatively cohesive organisation, to avoid a fatal division opening up between the vanguard and the rest. When, in August 1917, General Kornilov attempted a counter-revolutionary coup the party applied the tactic of the united front and defeated it alongside Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. Not long afterwards the Bolsheviks were rewarded with a majority in the Soviets.

Elsewhere in Europe, as the horrors of the First World War became clear to all, those who held their nerve and stuck to internationalist principles also saw their influence grow. After the SPD supported German imperialism Luxemburg overcame her previous doubts and established the core of a revolutionary party&mdashthe Spartakist League. The league grew very rapidly in the wake of the German revolution of November 1918 that brought down the Kaiser and finally ended the First World War. The German equivalent of the soviets&mdashthe Arbeiterräte or workers&rsquo councils&mdashmet in congress, during December 1918. However, unlike the Bolsheviks, the Spartakists did not have a small voice with which to convince the reformist majority to change their position&mdashthey had none! Only ten of the 405 delegates were Spartakists, but they did not even stand under their own name. However, the league could still have overcome such problems. As the German revolution did not peter out until 1924, many opportunities to make up for lost ground presented themselves.

Though undeniably important, more critical than sheer numbers was the question of experience. The Bolsheviks had behind them years of development, of building up a cohesive body based on democratic centralism, that sought to win the leadership of the working class under a wide variety of conditions, from illegality, semi-legality and full revolution, during periods of massive upswing in struggle such as 1905, to terrible defeat in the years that followed. As Lenin put it in 1904, during the split with the Mensheviks, &ldquothe stronger our party organisations, consisting of real Social-Democrats, the less wavering and instability there is within the party, the broader, more varied, richer and more fruitful will be the party&rsquos influence on the elements of the working class masses surrounding it and guided by it&rdquo. 33

In Germany the Spartakists benefitted from an influx of highly enthusiastic, if inexperienced, members after the Kaiser fell. For the best of reasons they were keen to see socialism in Germany as soon as possible, but had little political background or knowledge as to how this could be achieved in practice. They paid little heed to Luxemburg&rsquos warning against precipitate action that might separate the revolutionaries from the still reformist majority. Under pressure from this impatient and inexperienced revolutionary minority, her co-leader, Liebknecht, was carried along with the enthusiasm of the moment and dragged the League into a premature uprising in January 1919. It was easily isolated and defeated, after which both Luxemburg and Liebknecht were murdered. The Spartakist leadership (now renamed German Communist Party) found it very difficult to recover.

To emphasise revolutionary politics or organisational &ldquomaturity&rdquo over numbers is certainly not to echo the proverb that &ldquowisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old&rdquo. As Trotsky pointed out forcefully in Lessons of October, the very conservatism (with a small &ldquoc&rdquo) required to maintain a revolutionary organisation carries with it the danger of a similar conservatism in the face of changing circumstances. To achieve the October 1917 insurrection it required the revolutionary élan of one section of the Bolshevik Party to overcome the hesitancy of some very experienced members. So the quality that was lacking in Germany, and was present in Russia, was not the physical maturity or time served by individual party activists, but the organisational maturity gained when a party of revolutionaries consistently works to win the reformist majority, and advance the struggle.

No two historical situations are identical, and had there been a party akin to Bolshevism in Germany, a successful socialist revolution in that country was not guaranteed. Many other factors, such as historical accident, qualities of leadership, social structure, and the balance of forces, formed part of the equation. However, though absolute size was clearly relevant, it was less decisive than the ability to win reformists to revolution.


International unionisation

The largest trade union federation in the world is the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which has approximately 309 affiliated organizations in 156 countries and territories, with a combined membership of 166 million. The ITUC is a federation of national trade union centres, such as the AFL-CIO in the United States and the Trades Union Congress in the United Kingdom. Other global trade union organizations include the World Federation of Trade Unions.

National and regional trade unions organizing in specific industry sectors or occupational groups also form global union federations, such as Union Network International, the International Transport Workers Federation, the International Federation of Journalists or the International Arts and Entertainment Alliance.


Watch the video: ΙΟΥΝΗΣ 1945: Ο ΚΟΚΚΙΝΟΣ ΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ ΣΕΡΝΕΙ ΤΙΣ ΣΗΜΑΙΕΣ ΤΩΝ ΝΑΖΙ