The Western Socialist
Vol. 27 - No. 213
No. 2, 1960
A painful chore, often visited upon the workers of the world, is the attempt to change old loyalties and friendships for the new ones that are often demanded by the capitalists because of the swiftly changing international scene. Take the case of NATO's phantom general — German General Hans Speidel, former boss of Nazi-occupied Paris. In 1957, the year he took over the Allied land force in Central Europe, he was the No. 1 public relations liability of the Western Alliance. He has since then been finding it difficult trying to sidestep some of the hatreds built up among the workers of nations opposed to Germany during WW II. Once upon reaching his London hotel, Speidel flabbergasted his hosts by vanishing into his room, leaving them and the press waiting in the lobby and he had to be coaxed out. At Oslo, the plane taking him to an official visit in the Norwegian capital had to circle the field for an hour and a half while police drove back demonstrators. But most workers seem to have short memories and readily consume the new propaganda fare handed down by their masters, leaving such embarassing demonstrations to a minority.
Writing from London, Wallace Reyburn told us back in 1958 that "Wernher von Braun who succeeded at last in getting in American sputnik well off the ground, has not unnaturally become a national hero in the U.S."
But back in 1944, on Sept. 7, (first V2 attack on London) "von Braun became for the Germans a national hero. So now he has achieved something unique — to become in turn the national hero of two nations that were at war with each other."
According to Reyburn, "like so many Nazis, von Braun now says that of course he really didn't want to make war. What he really wanted to do was send a rocket to the moon. He got sidetracked."
LOTS OF PEOPLE GOT SIDETRACKED
The workers, scientists included, of the belligerent nations wanted jobs and the capitalists wanted profits. This is the natural setup which causes commercial war to develop periodically into violent war. Freedom and democracy existed more as slogans than as reality, then as always. Von Braun practised his rocketry first on Great Britain. Who will be the next candidate for target practice? In the sordid shifting for advantage with the enhancement and expansion of capital as the eternal goal, this is anybody's guess.
Even NATO pals have a tough time getting along together. We were told that the "economic policies of Britain on the one hand and France and West Germany on the other now are so widely split that bickering instead of unity might be shown if all gathered at the one table," according to Harold Morrison, Canadian Press staff writer, last August. In 1957 France became highly incensed over the shipment of arms to Tunisia destined for Algeria's rebels, by Britain and the USA.
You never know what's going to happen next. Nikita Khrushchev is embarassed by the sabre-rattling of his Chinese state-capitalist ally. And down in the Middle-East, while employed by President Nasser in his bid for Egyptian independence from British and French domination, Nazi technicians who had been taught during WW II to hate Jews found it very vexing to have to co-operate with the Russians, whom they had also been taught to hate.
WHO WINS WARS ?
We are told by Judith Robinson from London that the "West German trade unions are protesting. For 15 years, patriotic by request, they have exercised wage discipline and encouraged members to work long hours for little pay to help rebuild Germany." (Where have we heard this story before?) "In the same years German industrialists have been rebuilding their own fortunes." Now we know what is meant by "Germany."
"Rising from the ruins of Hitler's Reich, 150 postwar millionaires have amassed great wealth in the Federal Republic since 1945. The Krupps are again the steel masters they were and bigger." And the Flick combine "is now a bigger combine than Hitler made it. Its head is out of jail and back in control. It has moved from coal and steel to motor vehicles, chemicals, newsprint and gained power on the way." And this after Gregory Clark, Canadian newspaper writer who lost a son in WW II, wrote that in wars, "The big Joes never win." (Daily Colonist, 11-29-52.)
Now Alfred Krupp has offered $1,429,000 to the Jews (some of the little Joes who won the war?) who were compelled to slave labor in his factories during the war. This "amend" will by no means dent the huge gains of the Krupp family. During his trial, after hostilities had ceased, Krupp said his firm had only done its duty and that "we are conscious of no violations of the laws of humanity." (Daily Colonist, 12-25-59). Of course there is nothing inhuman about the realizing of profits as far as the receivers of surplus value are concerned and it is possible that many of them see no connection between capitalism and any of its effects, from alcoholism to crematoriums. The immoral morals of society are patterned on capitalist interests.
THE PROFIT MOTIVE
Profit also rules in the "home" of a segment of capitalism's countless victims — Israel.
In June 1959 the coalition government of Premier David Ben Gurion was shaken by a non-confidence motion attacking the government's plan to sell $2,800,000 worth of arms to West Germany. The opposition denounced Ben Gurion's plan by invoking the memory of 6,000,000 Jews slaughtered by the Nazis during the war.
This isn't all. Think of Ben Gurion a year earlier. Then he found himself in trouble over buying arms from West Germany. At that time he said, "If you offer me a choice between all the ideals in the world, glorious as they may be, and the security of Israel (read profits), I will unhesitatingly choose the latter." (Daily Colonist, 7-7-59).
And now we see that "West Germany has lifted the passport of Dr. Johann von Leers, anti-Semitic propaganda adviser to President Nasser of the United Arab Republic" because "von Leers' work is endangering the `democratic institutions' of the West German state." What democratic institutions? Why, the institutions which make possible the exploitation by German capitalists of German workers. Official anti-Semitism is not practical today in the Bonn Republic.
"West Germany is walking a Jewish-Arab tightrope in the Middle East, seeking a reconciliation with world Jewry via the State of Israel but simultaneously striving to preserve its strong commercial position in the Arab countries." (Daily Colonist 7-3-59, Boldface ours). Sorry, but business is business you know.
The villain in this kaleidoscope of contradiction and suffering is again exposed by one out of its putrid pile of propaganda mediums. According to the Victoria Daily Times, 4-23-58, the "Release from prison a few days ago of the last 10 Japanese major war criminals still in custody carries its own —
"Thirteen years after the close of hostilities, the intense feelings of wartime have abated. We view Japan now as a potentially good market for our products, a bulwark against Russia in the Far East, etc."
"The change has been equally abrupt in our relations with Germany, performing in Europe a similar service as ally and customer similar to that of Japan in Asia." (Our emphasis).
Of course the fact that hundreds of thousands of humans died violently, were maimed and made homeless is really too bad, but they were expendable you know, and "we" now have "a good market for 'our' products." Some philosophic connotation Can you blame us for seeing either bourgeois "democracies" or "absolutisms" as they actually are — a class society where the commercial minority has effectively brainwashed the working class majority ?
The statement continues — "Our wartime ally, Russia, on the other hand, is now the potential enemy against which defense must be maintained." "The hatreds of yesteryear do not long survive the impact of new events." That's it, dad, new lineups and new tasks for the "rabble" rousers.
After Hitler's description of the war aims of the German capitalist class: "We are going to do business solely on the basis of German advantage. If it's good for Germany, we shall trade and no British or American interests are going to put a stop to our way of doing business." (Boston Traveler, Feb. 24, 1941—Emphasis ours), we can only warn the world's workers again that the whole mess of capitalism has long outlived its usefulness to mankind; that they support it only at the expense of greater and unforeseen misery to themselves.
Only the profit motive and its indiscriminate scramble for markets and raw materials could prompt Russia after urging German Communists to resist Hitler, to be among the first to trade with Germany after Hitler came to power, supplying her with minerals for her war machine which itself was built for the forceful acquisition of trade. Or Winston Churchill to say in a speech on Nov. 11, 1938, "I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations," ignoring the Nazi concentration camps until it became necessary to use them as hate-builders after Germany violated the commercial and therefore profit position of the British capitalist class, of whom Mr. Churchill has always been the able servant.
Capitalism — thy name is hypocrisy.
J. G. JENKINS