Passing comments


In the last analysis, the Stalinist opinion of any country depends solely on whether the country concerned accepts unquestioningly the leadership of Stalin, or not. What is laudable in Bulgaria becomes blameworthy in Yugoslavia. Indeed, the very same attributes which are supposed to make Poland and Rumania Socialist countries earn for Yugoslavia the label of “Fascist.” The nationalisation of industry, the suppression of free speech, the dictatorship of a single party, all these, when found in Albania and Hungary, show those countries to be People’s Republics, while, when found in Yugoslavia, they prove conclusively that Tito is a tyrant and a reactionary. The latest example of this occurs in connection with the nationalisation of industry. When jt was announced in November 1947 that the Polish government had agreed to pay compensation to British shareholders in respect of shares that they had held in Poland’s nationalised industries, the Daily Worker made no complaint; but on March 8th, 1951, the Daily Worker comments sourly on the payment of compensation by Yugoslavia for exactly the same purpose. The same measure, in fact, which is praiseworthy in Poland warrants, in Yugoslavia, the statement that British capitalist interests “appear to have found Tito’s methods of nationalisation quite helpful.”

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The leaders of the Western world claim that, in their hands, the atom bomb and large armed forces are guarantees for peace. The Soviets are making the same claim. “The Great Soviet Encylopaedia” says that “the atomic weapon in the hands of the U.S.S.R. is one of the decisive measures for the defence of peace” (Daily Express, 7-3-51). These arguments may be useful in persuading the workers on each side of the Iron Curtain to accept further reductions in their standard of living, but they are not new. As far back as 1911, General von Schlieffen said of the German army: “On the fear inspired by this army, depends the peace of Europe.”

The peoples of the world could do without these guarantees of peace.

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The Family

What, in the orthodox view, are the glories of our Western way of life? Among them the Sanctity of the Family finds a prominent place.

But look at this news item: “A six-year-old girl, Robin Strasser, was taken from her mother in New York and given into the care of her grandmother by order of the Supreme Court Referee, today, because of her mother’s Communist activities.” (Daily Express, 9-2-51).

Theories are all right in their place: but when it comes to the case of a person who is against the regime, the Sanctity of the Family and the feelings of a six-year-old child are alike blatantly disregarded.

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Back to Work

“General von Falkenhausen was convicted of having authorised the execution of 240 Belgian refugees while he was German Military Governor of Belgium and Northern France, and having deported Jewish and Belgian workers” (Manchester Guardian, 10-3-51). For this, the General was sentenced to twelve years’ hard labour: and since there is a Belgian law allowing a good-conduct prisoner Ho be released after serving one-third of this term, the time the General will have to spend in jail may be as low as four years. Lieutenant-General von Ravenstein, a former Panzer Division commander, is horrified at the judgment: he has remarked publicly that he would be very proud if he had acted “in the way General von Falkenhausen acted in his lifelong service for the Fatherland.” Von Ravenstein went so far as to say: “If we old German soldiers are appealed to now to become active again in military affairs, none of us will be ready for such work after this sentence.”

Is this a threat or a promise? For if the “work” von Ravenstein mentions is of the same order as that for which von Falkenhausen has just been sentenced, few ordinary people will be worried by his statement.

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Sanctuary—from what?

In one of his reports to the Security Council General MacArthur has remarked on “the avidity with which the North Korean citizens have sought sanctuary behind the United Nations lines” (Observer, 25-2-51).

This, in his opinion, is because of their “complete aversion to Communist rule and their fervent desire, at whatever hazard, for refuge within the protection of the United Nations.”

General MacArthur should know that the Chinese and North Koreans are far weaker in the air than the Americans, and therefore cannot bomb cities behind the enemy lines so efficiently. But it seems not to have occurred to him that the refugees may be inspired more by a desire to escape American bombing than by any choice they may have made between Chinese and American imperialism.

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Sleepless nights?

The outlook before the British people is gloomy. Nationalisation has been found to be no solution for the problems of the working class, though, in certain rundown industries, it has solved very satisfactorily the problems of the managers and the investors. The increasing world tension brings with it further shortages and sacrifices, and the threat of the atomic bomb. But the British workers are not suffering alone. They have their companions in misery: for example, his majesty the King.

The Daily Express draws our attention to the situation in which the King finds himself (9-2-51). Britain’s total “bill for the Monarchy,” it says, is just over £1,000,000 a year: of this the King himself draws £410,000. “Out of the grant the King must pay salaries, pensions, and expenses of the Royal Household, and gifts to charities,” What is left—£110,000—is the King’s Privy Purse, his personal fund for expenses.” Well, the King has been overspending by some £60,000 a year, so the Government is generously taking over an annual £40,000 of the royal liabilities; and the King is making economies to the extent of £20,000 a year.

So the working class family, as it plans to save a few shillings on the weekly budget, may take comfort in the fact that the King himself is voluntarily cutting down his rate of personal expenditure from £2,100 to £1,700 a week.

A. W. E.

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