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Fifty Years Ago: Talks at the Summit

The snows of the Cold war are melting. The Soviet Premier, Bulganin, and the Communist Party leader, Kruschev, are to visit Britain next spring. They will be feted by the Queen. Even the Daily Mail welcomes the visit – with some reservations.

During the war the Russians were our friends, our “gallant allies,” our “comrades in arms.” But since 1945 they have become the villains of the piece. They have become our potential enemies. Whilst our old enemies the Italians, the Japanese and the Germans (the Western Germans, of course!) are now our friends, our allies in a possible future war. But now, since the Geneva “Talks at the Summit” the Russians – for how long we know not – are almost our friends again; or at least our politicians have “agreed” to differ with the Soviet rulers.

To most people, who think that all these differences and antagonisms are due to differences of systems or ideologies – to “Communism” or “Fascism” – these changes are quite bewildering.

( . . .) [T]he reasons why the rulers of Russia, America, or Britain fall out is not any so-called difference of ideologies, of Democracy, or Communism; or differences of social systems or ways of life. For we know that their social systems are not basically different; that American “free enterprise” is not fundamentally different from Soviet “Communism.” We know that in Britain, America – and the U.S.S.R. the same problems exist; we know that the workers of these lands are poor, that they live insecure lives, whilst their employers are rich; we know that in the Soviet Union, as Stalin admitted just before he died, the ruling class is being forced more and more to look for markets for its goods – outside its own frontiers. We know that the Soviet leaders are as much concerned with protecting their property interests as are the Americans or British. That is why we are not surprised at the antagonisms the Cold War, the changing alliances, the “Talks at the Summit,” and the temporary patching-up of differences.

(From an article by Peter E. Newell, Socialist Standard, September 1955)