1930s >> 1939 >> no-423-november-1939

The Strutting Turkey and the Dancing Bear

The international situation is changing with the rapidity of a cinema film, and those who aspire to the role of prophet are likely to make many mistakes; one fact we can state, however, and that is events have taken full control; even a Hitler or a Churchill no longer does what he would, but what he must.

In the hectic days of the First International it was considered a duty on the part of Socialists to lay bare the mysteries of international politics so that the real motives that animated statesmen could be perceived and, if necessary, thwarted by the class-conscious proletariat. Alas for the progress made in this connection; the present generation has little more knowledge of the forces at work than its predecessors : the son falls for the same slogans and catch-phrases that fooled his father.

Some of our masters talk peace, but those in charge resolutely pursue the war, the war to end Hitlerism.

After the war of 1914 there was a dispute as to who was to blame for it. Germany, under Hitler, made a vigorous protest against that country being saddled with the war guilt. This time Chamberlain has moved his chessmen in such a way that there is apparently no doubt about the matter. Hitler is caught. Britain is, as usual, fighting a righteous battle. The whole world is called upon to witness the fact. If it is discovered in the days to come that Britain’s moral feelings are, as of old, in strict accord with her material interests, well, what would you have? We live in a material world; all nations and peoples are in the clutch of circumstance. Britain and Germany confront each other because the development of capitalism has placed groups of capitalists in rival camps; the only way out is war. It is impossible for the exploiters to reconcile their differences; the antagonism between them must become ever more intense.

Those who talk so eloquently about Peace with a capital P do not seem to grasp the fact that the obstacles to peace are greater than those obstructing war. Capitalism is based on competition. The means of production are owned exclusively by a section of the community; those that are dispossessed must sell themselves to the owning section in order to live.

The owning class give those who sell their life-force to them sufficient to keep going as producers of commodities which become the property of the owning class as they are brought into being.

Commodities are articles produced for sale, for profit. The latter cannot be realised until the commodities are sold.

To sell you must find a buyer. The only portion the worker can buy is that equivalent to the wages he receives; all over and above this amount must be disposed of elsewhere.

Markets are found abroad which temporarily relieve the situation, but as the productivity of labour increases, and more and more countries are brought within the orbit of capitalism, the difficulty to sell is intensified.

The world is scoured for raw materials by rival gangs; the wage slaves are driven faster and ever faster, so that relative cheapness can enable one exploiter to undersell another, but all in vain.

The markets are decreasing comparatively and the powers of production are increasing. The capitalist class must sell in order to realise profits and yet they are compelled to set in motion factors that make the necessary sale ever more difficult.

The unemployed grow in number in all lands and eventually the situation becomes so bad that the harder pressed gangs of exploiters become desperate, arm their slaves, and demand at the point of the sword certain concessions in the way of a right to raw materials, markets, etc., from their rivals—the war is on.

The battle-cries of Democracy and Dictatorship should not blind us to the real issue, nor should the plausible piffle of the “only Socialist country in the world” fool us in such a way that we fail to perceive the enemy in ambush. Russia stands for capitalism, Russian capitalism, distinguished from other brands by the fact that it is, if anything, more treacherous, more hypocritical, and more ruthless than that of any other country.

The bear that walks like a man is now interfering with the life of other peoples without ceremony or apology. Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Roumania and the Balkan countries have all been made to feel that now that Britain’s hands are tied they are in duty bound to minister to the bear’s requirements. Russia has, at the same time, moved swiftly in Chinese Turkestan, and from the proximity of Kasgar now threatens British interests. Sinkiang, or Chinese Turkestan, will soon come into the picture and may be the scene of conflict. Not far from this area is to be found valuable mineral wealth. When I say not far, I mean the approach to the locality is from this region. Near the source of a tributary of the Yangtse River there is a district containing all the mineral wealth necessary to the establishment of an industrial country—iron, coal, silver, gold, etc., all in close proximity to one another. This will cause trouble in the not far distant future. Russia will grab it if she can, and others will try to prevent her getting it. Britain knows and is fully prepared for what is coming.

The Near East has not yet become the scene of large-scale operations, but recent movements round Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, right to the Afghanistan border, show to the observant mind what is pending.

Turkey occupies a very important position at the present time and although she may be compelled to apparently acquiesce to certain demands made upon her by Germany or Russia, there is one country she will always be faithful to, and that is Poland; she will stand, if possible, with Poland and her friends.

This is one of the mysteries of international politics. During the 150 years that Poland was dismembered Turkey always reserved a chair for the Polish Ambassador, and when Poland emerged again as a nation after the last war the Polish representative went to Turkey and took his place as if nothing had happened. The geographical position of Turkey in the present conflict enables her to wield an influence far greater than is generally supposed. Turkey is making rapid strides as a capitalist nation, and will not fail to make full use of her opportunities. Russia’s action in Poland will not be favourably viewed by Turkey and may have important repercussions.

The forces in the Mediterranean are regrouping. Mussolini is extending the hand of friendship to Hungary and Hitler’s influence is being curtailed. Italy and Britain have never fought: they probably never will.

The readers of the SOCIALIST STANDARD may say, “Very interesting, but where does Socialism come in?”

We will sum up by drawing the attention of the reader to the fact that the Russians, through their Foreign Office, the Communist Party tried to get Britain, France, Italy and Germany involved in Spain, then in Czecho-Slovakia. They wanted Fascism smashed by any means necessary. “Leave off talking about Socialism; we must get rid of Fascism first. Down with Hitler.”

They formed Popular Fronts, etc., to work things up.

What was behind it all? Can’t you see?

Russia wanted her rivals to be involved in difficulties, so that they could not stop her grabbing what she wanted.

Look at the Communist Party now, and look at Russia. The Nazis are their comrades. Their anti-Fascist propaganda was a make-believe and a sham—to fool you. What a mix-up there will be should they shortly quarrel. “Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.”

We are on the eve of great developments in the United States. Passions there will be at fever heat shortly. The President will have a rough period to go through.

Where do the wage-slaves get off at ?

It is to be noted that the Government here has taken charge of the economic life of every individual in the community. The State has taken over.

We may never go back to the old state of things entirely. This is not Socialism. Far from it. But it makes Socialism easier to obtain; it enables us to get into the heads of our fellow-workers a clearer idea of what we are endeavouring to get him to do.

Amidst the waving of flags and the beating of the war drums let our battle-cry be “the common ownership of the means of life,” reiterated again until it penetrates into the consciousness of the class to which we belong.

When the aftermath of the struggle comes upon the world, when the dead are counted and buried and our wounded brothers surround us on every hand, when amidst grinding anguish, made bitter by poverty, the disillusioned wage slave cries “What shall we do?”

We can give the ringing answer, “Dare to be a man! Shake the chains of wage slavery from
your limbs. Make the means of life common property. Stand erect, free!”


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