Editorial: The Beginning and End of Czechoslovakia
Hitler, and his associates, with that capacity they have long shown for taking well prepared decisive actions at the appropriate moment, have devoured Czecho-Slovakia. It was done with the forced consent of the head of the Czecho-Slovak State—how the dictators do love to keep to the forms of legality—and the enthusiastic support of a large number of Slovak autonomists, and the smaller number of Czech Fascists. Mr. Neville Chamberlain says he was amazed, but why? Whatever the form of the Munich settlement it meant in substance recognition by the British and French capitalists that Germany dominated Central and South-Eastern Europe—at least until such time as the former judged the moment opportune to reduce that domination. During the six months since Munich rearmament in Great Britain has made considerable strides, and to that extent the British Government are already feeling that they can afford to stiffen their attitude, so the future promises some sharp exchanges of uncordial notes and speeches, and repeated tensions and crises, with intervals of “let’s all get together” proposals.
Superficially, Germany has all the gains and all the prospects, but capitalist relationships do not lend themselves to measurement by the simple process of counting populations and adding up square miles of territory. Those who imagine that the incorporation of these indigestible territories is an easy matter for German capitalists, have only to look at Palestine, India, and Ireland to see that Imperialist dreams have a way of turning into politician’s nightmares.
On the other hand, the people who fancy that Germany is a unique offender, and that the “democratic” powers know how to solve problems of nationality, should remember history. Germany, talking of racial liberties, overruns non-German-speaking territories, just as in 1919 the Allied “democratic” Powers created new states, to the tune of “self-determination,” but really with the purpose of permanently weakening Germany. Where race and language conflicted with the latter purpose, Allied statesmen did not hesitate to place unwilling minorities under unwanted alien rule. And before British politicians take it upon themselves to condemn the ruthless action of German capitalism, they should consider how much of the British Empire would be left if subjected populations were freely permitted to take independence.
The position of the anti-German and anti-Nazi, elements now forced under German rule, is a distressing one, like the position of Indians and African natives in the British Empire, but there should be no hesitation whatever on the part of the workers about recognising that such subjection, even if prolonged for years, is better than the alternative of a modern war between the rival imperialists carrying out a new carve-up of the world. Actually it is not running the risk of false prophecy to say that Germany’s “settlement” of Europe will be no more enduring than others that have happened in the past. Events —and ideas—move quickly nowadays, and this settlement may have a very short life indeed, if, as appears probable, Hitler has now gone far enough to provoke a new will to organised resistance among the East European Powers, backed by Britain, France, Russia, and probably the U.S.A.