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12 December 1942
Germans begin attack to relieve Stalingrad.
War in the Air
Eighth Air Force Heavy Bomber Mission No. 25: 78 aircraft dispatched to attack marshelling yards at Rouen-Sotteville and 12 to attack the airfield at Abbeville/ Drucat. Only 17 aircraft attack Lille, two aircraft are lost.
German attack towards Mejez el Bab fails
Royal Marine Commandos attach limpet mines to blockade runners at Bordeaux (the Cockleshell Heroes)
Voyage 59 HMT "Cameronia" 12 December 1942 to 06 February 1943
This is a brief Journal of George Chadwick. It was transcribed from the original document, which was committed to writing, by George, between 12 December 1942 and 6 February 1943.
At the time George was a Steward with the Anchor Line and engaged in wartime service on the “Cameronia”, which was being utilised by the armed services as a troop carrier.
George Chadwick is our father, he was born on 1 September 1919, served in the British Merchant Navy from 1937 until 1979 when he retired as Senior Purser/Catering Officer with Clan Line.
A very unassuming man, like many of his generation, he never mentioned this or any other of his experiences as a young man in the wartime Merchant Navy, although we were aware that he earned his several Service Medals. It took the discovery of this note for us to realise just how heroic he and many other people had been during a particularly stressful period in their lives.
On completing this entry for submission to the website our father is 85 years old, married to Mary (for almost 60 years) but unfortunately due to failing health, he is now a full time resident in a care home in Dumfries.
Memoranda for Voyage 59 H.M.T. CAMERONIA. 12 Dec — 22nd Dec 1942
12th. Dec. finds us leaving the U.K. for as yet unknown destination
13th. Dec. is the beginning of what must have been the worst crossing for the ship as regards the weather.
14th. Dec. The sea is much worse. At night one member of our crew is severely scalded, by a cauldron of boiling fat upsetting over him.
15th. Dec. The sea is furious now. We are just able to make way. Our shipmate dies during the night from his injuries.
16th. Dec. No sign of the seas abating.
Dec. 17th. There is a slight change for the better today.
Dec. 18th. Definitely calmer now. It is a great relief to us all on board as we are beginning to feel very weary. Fortunately we are not to know what lies ahead of us.
Dec. 19th. The sea is practically normal now.
Dec. 20th. We enter the Straits of Gibraltar. The weather is beautiful, and a welcome contrast to the previous few days. “Action Stations” are sounded at 1.30 am and after a lively hour of guns and depth charges the “all clear” is sounded at 2.30 am. One ship is hit by a torpedo.
21 Dec. We call at Algiers. Leave at about 9.30 pm. Are warned to keep our guns manned as we may expect a torpedo attack from the air. 10.30 pm “Action Stations” sounded. We put up a terrific barrage from the ship.
22nd. Dec. The “All Clear” is sounded at 1.30 am. We get a thankful rest until 4.00 am when we have to go to “Action Stations” again. The planes seem very determined to get us as all their attacks are concentrated solely on us. An aerial torpedo hits the ship on the starboard quarter. We proceed to our boats. I myself was amazed at the calmness displayed by troops and it was a masterpiece of organisation considering there was over 4000 souls on board. With relief we are told that the ship is in no immediate danger and with a powerful escort we limp back to a place called Boojie. So much for our short trip through what is k known as “Suicide Alley”. We have a few casualties, a few fatal. The catering dept. has to commence to salvage stores while the pumps keep the water at bay. We are successful on the above. The ship rapidly assumes normality even though there is a gaping hole in her side about 18’ by 16’.
Memoranda Continued Dec 30th onwards
Dec. 30th. We leave Boujie at 7 pm. This is one of the most perilous voyages I have ever made. We still have a gaping hole in the ship’s side and it’s amazing the bulkhead on the opposite side does not give way with the pressure of water being hurled against it.
31st. This morning we bury at sea the last one of the soldiers who lost his life when the torpedo hit the ship. Ironically the remnants of the “tin fish” lie on the after deck for all to see. We have a very strong escort including fighter protection as we make our critical journey at just over 5 knots per hour. Our arrival in Algiers at 1 am. New Year’s Day coincided with an air-raid warning but fortunately there was no activity. We had very dirty weather for the above short trip, which made it very dangerous to the ship.
2nd. Jan. I had an afternoon ashore and I purchased some cosmetics.
3 Jan. I was standing on deck watching the arrival of a large convoy when a large bang made me turn abruptly around, to discover the ship had broken all her moorings. We sent the salvage boat, which had been fostering us since we received the torpedo, crashing into another ship but fortunately for her being an all-metal ship she escaped being sandwiched between us and the one she went into. It took 2 hrs and the breaking of 9 (x) 3 inch ropes before she was safely moored. Today most of the crew are being sent home but I am not one of them. I feel sure we have a “Jonah” on board in one of our crew who has been torpedoed on six successive occasions, this last one being his seventh. I believe he will be going home too. I wonder what I will have to relate next?
5th Jan. We leave Algiers on the second stage of our unusual voyage. The “Jonah” has left the ship and strange to say we have exceptionally good weather, which is almost essential to a ship with a big hole in her side. Anyhow this is one ship “Jerry” has not sent to the bottom and it’s a pity more ships in the past were not as lucky as we were.
6th. Jan. We learn today that we are being taken further field than we expected. The tug that is with us asks us to let her have some stores to tide her over an extra two days. Not so long ago seven bombers (our own) pass us going in the same direction. I could not say whether they were on business bent, but they seemed loaded as they were going fairly slow. About 7.30 pm we have to “heave to” to enable a surgeon from one of the escort to be sent aboard to perform an operation on one of our own cadets for appendicitis. At the same (time) we transfer a few stores by the naval launch to the tug just ahead of us. All this takes place in “The Blue Peaceful Mediterranean” and represents a “sitting” target for any lurking subs. To the time of my writing this we have done about 150 miles in 34 hrs. Work that out!
Jan 7th. About 10 am this morning we sight a convoy on our stern. We are just passing Oran and this convoy passes close by the stern of our ship as she calls by for two more ships. She is now on her way, the two ships having joined the convoy. They left Algiers early last night, we left two days ago. We still have about 200 miles to go. The weather is peculiar today. Heavy hail and lightning with a bitter cold. We are being well shepherded by shore based aircraft.
This afternoon at about 1.45 pm we are joined by a naval tug as apparently it is too much for one. Also a naval motor launch comes out with the tug to take off the cadet who was operated on last night. Unfortunately there is a heavy swell on at the time and (they) are unable to take off the cadet as she cannot get alongside. I wonder what our sister ship in the convoy would have thought, or at least her crew, when she saw (us) we were “hove to”. Probably what I might have concluded namely “She’s got her Grand Finale” but they would be wrong.
Jan. 8th. Nothing of any consequence today. We passed a small fishing yawl early this morning, and for the size of it, I thought to myself “What sailors they must be”.
The weather has been very lively today with a big swell. I stood on deck this afternoon watching the debris being flung out of the hole in the ship’s side. It is certainly something to marvel at. We expect to make our destination sometime tomorrow night.
Jan. 9th. Our arrival in Gibraltar at 2 pm concluded the first stage of our voyage. I Suppose we will be here awhile being “patched up” sufficiently to take us further. There will be plenty to interest us here if only to watch the various “practice manoeuvres” by the navy and R.A.F.
Jan. 10th. We “lay off” until the 13th. On which day we go alongside to await our turn to go in the “dry-dock”.
Jan. 17th. Famous cruiser “Ajax” arrived here. Her crew are transferred to our ship for a fortnight.
Feb. 6th. After a monotonous wait on the mole we enter the dry-dock. We are “patched up” in three weeks and we anxiously await our trip home. It is rather an interesting subject watching your own ship getting repaired and one cannot help but marvel the speed at which the job is done, and now where there was a gaping hole there is just a large patch of paint to denote where it was.
George Chadwick, our much loved Dad, died on Wednesday 29 June 2005, aged 85 years.
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December 13, 1942 Ship’s Cook
Untold numbers of lives that could have been lost. But for the actions, of a sixteen-year-old ship’s cook.
Similar to the Base Exchange system serving American military personnel, the British Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) is the UK-government organization operating clubs, bars, shops and supermarkets in service to British armed forces, as well as naval canteen services (NCS) on board Royal Navy ships.
NAAFI personnel serving on ships are assigned to duty stations and wear uniforms, while technically remaining civilians.
Tommy Brown was fifteen when he lied about his age, enlisting in the NAAFI and assigned as canteen assistant to the “P-class” destroyer, HMS Petard.
On October 30, 1942, Petard joined three other destroyers and a squadron of Vickers Wellesley light bombers off the coast of Port Said Egypt, in a 16-hour hunt for the German “Unterseeboot”, U–559.
Hours of depth charge attacks were rewarded when the crippled U-559 came to the surface, the 4-inch guns of HMS Petard, permanently ending the career of the German sub.
The crew abandoned ship, but not before opening the boat’s seacocks. Water was pouring into the submarine as Lieutenant Francis Anthony Blair Fasson and Able Seaman Colin Grazier dived into the water and swam to the submarine, with junior canteen assistant Tommy Brown close behind.
With U-559 sinking fast, Fasson and Grazier made their way into the captain’s cabin. Finding a set of keys, Fasson opened a drawer, to discover a number of documents, including two sets of code books.
With one hand on the conning ladder and the other clutching those documents, Brown made three trips up and down through the hatch, to Petard’s whaler.
U-185 sinking, after American depth charging
In the final moments, the ship’s cook called for his shipmates to get out of the boat. Brown himself was dragged under, but managed to kick free and come to the surface. Colin Grazier and Francis Fasson, went down with the German sub.
The episode brought Brown to the attention of the authorities, ending his posting aboard Petard when his true age became known. He was not discharged from the NAAFI, and later returned to sea on board the light cruiser, HMS Belfast.
In 1945, now-Leading Seaman Tommy Brown was home on shore leave, when fire broke out at the family home in South Shields. He died while trying to rescue his 4-year-old sister Maureen, and was buried with full military honors in Tynemouth cemetery.
Fasson and Grazier were awarded the George Cross, the second-highest award in the United Kingdom system of honors. Since he was a civilian due to his NAAFI employment, Brown was awarded the George Medal.
For German U-boat commanders, the period between the fall of France and the American entry into WW2 was known as “Die Glückliche Zeit” – “The Happy Time” – in the North Sea and North Atlantic. From July through October 1940 alone, 282 Allied ships were sunk on the approaches to Ireland, for a combined loss of 1.5 million tons of merchant shipping.
Tommy Brown’s Mediterranean episode took place in 1942, in the midst of the “Second Happy Time”, a period known among German submarine commanders as the “American shooting season”. U-boats inflicted massive damage during this period, sinking 609 ships totaling 3.1 million tons with the loss of thousands of lives, against a cost of only 22 U-boats.
USMM.org reports that the United States Merchant Marine service suffered a higher percentage of fatalities at 3.9%, than any American service branch in WW2.
Early versions of the German “Enigma” code were broken as early as 1932, thanks to cryptanalysts of the Polish Cipher Bureau, and French spy Hans Thilo Schmidt. French and British military intelligence were read into Polish decryption techniques in 1939, these methods later improved upon by the British code breakers of Bletchley Park.
Vast numbers of messages were intercepted and decoded from Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe sources through the Allied intelligence project “Ultra”, shortening the war by at least a year, and possibly two.
The Kriegsmarine was a different story. Maniacally concerned with security, Admiral Karl Dönitz introduced a third-generation enigma machine (M4) into the submarine service around May 1941, a system so secret that neither Wehrmacht nor Luftwaffe, were aware of its existence.
The system requires identical cipher machines at both ends of the transmission and took a while to put into place, with German subs being spread around the world.
All M4 machines were distributed by early 1942. On February 2, German submarine communications went dark. For code breakers at Bletchley Park, the blackout was sudden and complete. For a period of nine months, Allies had not the slightest idea of what the German submarine service was up to. The result was catastrophic.
U-559 documents were rushed back to England, arriving at Bletchley Park on November 24, allowing cryptanalysts to attack the “Triton” key used within the U-boat service. It would not be long, before the U-boats themselves were under attack.
The M4 code was broken by December 13, when the first of a steady stream of intercepts arrived at the Admiralty Operational Intelligence Office, giving the positions of 12 U-boats.
The UK Guardian newspaper wrote: “The naval historian Ralph Erskine thinks that, without the (M4) breakthrough, the Normandy invasion would have been delayed by at least a year, and that between 500,000 and 750,000 tons of allied shipping were saved in December 1942 and January 1943 alone”.
Tommy Brown never knew what was in those documents. The entire enterprise would remain Top Secret, until decades after he died.
Winston Churchill later wrote, that the actions of the crew of HMS Petard were “crucial to the outcome of the war”.
Untold numbers of lives that could have been lost. But for the actions, of a sixteen-year-old ship’s cook.
12 December 1942 - History
Episode One: &ldquoA Necessary War&rdquo
December 1941 - December 1942
"No animosity toward us at all, not even a dirty look. They just got out of your way."
"Asiatic sailors are very bitter toward Pearl Harbor for getting caught so neatly . "
"For all we knew, we were existing in Hell."
"I had tea, and it probably saved my life."
"You just turn your eyes and move on. knowing he's going to die that night."
"I went down on that march and two angels picked me up."
"So there I was, looking down on four Generals and a couple of bird Colonels, all kneeling on the floor. "
"The interpreter kept saying it was a Japanese holiday, but there was no guards."
"If I’d been caught, I’d probably been killed."
"The Japanese commander said. 'If you break our rules, we will kill you or we will do something worse.'"
"So I dove in under . and I had about fifteen or twenty people dove in on top of me."
"Found where they were at and we had about 10 or 12 grenades apiece, and we dropped 'em in and really stirred up a real fight."
"There must have been six or eight of us in a two-man foxhole, trying to get all our bodies below the surface. "
"There was no opposition. The Japs were caught completely flat-footed."
"It was like an inferno. I couldn't believe it. It was a nightmare."
"They were the stupidest bunch of people I ever saw."
". they just kept you going from island to island, until you got wounded or killed."
"It's a strange feeling to see the first enemy plane, really."
"We were just all in it together. That's the way it ought to be anyhow."
"They never found any part of that [U.S] patrol, or any parts of bodies or anything else."
"When we picked up the rifles on that little about an acre and a half, we picked up 1,100 rifles-Japanese rifles."
"My most memorable moment was the day I died."
"The first thing I think about is I better not move. They might finish me off."
"We had to prove ourselves . worthy of recognition when we came back to the States."
"My father happened to be targeted perhaps because he was not only a fisherman . but also because he was a scrap metals collector. "
"From my point of view, America is a nation in the process of trying to live up to its dreams."
Pearl Buck And the “War For Freedom”
From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 51, 21 December 1942, p.ك.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
“One can only hope at most, now, that there will be a breathing space between this war and the next. One cannot guarantee that there will be such space.”
Thus did Pearl Buck, noted novelist and idealist, addressing a group of world-famous Nobel Prize winners, bluntly speak her sincere opinion, according to her own lights, about this war – which is a good deal more than most so-called idealists are doing these days.
Mrs. Buck is bitterly disillusioned. But it is the fate of all idealists who lack the scientific instruments of Marxian investigation to be disillusioned. Revolutionary socialists, Marxists, were not disillusioned about the war. They knew from the beginning what Mrs. Buck sees only now.
“It is even more inconceivable today that our enemies, Germany and Japan, should win. But the strange thing is that the shadow of war does not grow less as these enemies grow weaker . It is because we see a certain fate coming closer to us, and these victories do not hold back its march.”
The relentless, inevitable, world-shaking event Mrs. Buck refers to is the fight for freedom of “the peoples of Asia and of Africa” and “many among our own people here and in South America.”
Who Will Lead the War for Freedom?
It is strange, that, although Mrs. Buck champions freedom for the colonial masses, she yet speaks with a degree of horror and foreboding of their coming fight for it. Why the horror and foreboding? Mrs. Buck says that this will be the “war between the principles of democracy and the principles of fascism” which “has no geographical boundaries.” Is that not something to rejoice at – especially since she herself calls this “THE REAL WAR FOR FREEDOM”?
Undoubtedly Mrs. Buck is confused and frightened. She is confused as to the nature of the real contending forces she sees it too much as a struggle between the races of the East and the races of the West. And, in the following passage, it is not clear whether she is afraid of fascism, of the fight of the colonial peoples for freedom, or of both.
“All the victories now being won do not make us safe. Those of us who are Jews are not safe, here or anywhere in the world. Those of us who are women are not safe here or anywhere in the world. The determination to continue rule over colonial empires endangers us, the avowed will to maintain white supremacy at all costs in our own country endangers us. All those who belong to those testing places of democracy, the minorities, the Jews, the Negroes, the women are endangered. All who are the agents of civilization, the intellectuals, the poets and artists and writers, the liberal in mind, the thinkers, the men and women of ideas, the idealists are endangered.”
Indeed it is an amazing thing that she makes no mention at all of the working class – as if it did not exist. Yet it should stand at the head of the above list for two very good reasons. One is that the working class is the first and foremost target of fascism. Another is that the working class – not the intellectuals, poets, artists, idealists – is today the only possible agent of civilization. It is the class with the revolutionary mission of ending this and all wars. It is the class with the revolutionary mission of creating the world-wide brotherhood of man, unexploited and unoppressed by ruthless, profit-seeking, colony-grabbing imperialists.
Because Mrs. Buck does not see human progress in terms of a progressive class clearing out of the way the obstructive, exploiting, war-making, reactionary classes, she has no program to offer. Her exposé of this war is brave and commendable. But when she asks “What shall we do?” her answer is deplorable. She thinks, apparently, that, by “speaking out,” the idealists can influence the practical statesmen of imperialism “to make this war into a war for freedom.” It is the fate of such people as Mrs. Buck who have no guiding and comprehensive understanding of human events, to contradict themselves endlessly. For of these statesmen she herself said
“Will political France fight so well on our side, when the moment comes, if she knows that there would be no empire at the end of the war? Would imperial Holland be so enthusiastic for the Allied cause if her empire were no longer to exist if the United Nations won? There are many persons who argue that England herself would be less enthusiastic if her empire were not to be restored to her intact at the end of this war.”
Mrs. Buck and her group might just as well “SPEAK OUT” to the lion in the act of devouring the lamb.
“Certainly,” Mrs. Buck correctly stated, “the peoples of Asia are now coming to believe that for them our victory will have nothing to do with freedom and equality.”
In the same way the workers and peasants of Russia in the last war came to believe that a victory for the Allies would have nothing to do with freedom and equality for them. They, therefore, under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky, turned the war into a war for freedom. Thus they brought a speedy end to the terrible slaughter of 1914. Unfortunately, because the workers of the West did not come to their aid, world freedom was not then established.
This war of 1938? will be over when the workers of all lands join with the oppressed of the colonial countries to form a THIRD CAMP – the United Working and Oppressed Peoples of the World. Better yet, all wars will be over. Freedom – not. abstractly, as envisaged by idealists – but concrete working class freedom will have been won.
This is the answer to Mrs. Buck’s “What shall we do?”
Imperialism Is Common Foe of Exploited
Mrs. Buck does not understand the coming war for freedom, just as she did not at first understand the imperialist nature of this war. For she says of the coming fight of the colonial people against imperialism that “none yet sees clearly either friend or foe.” This is exactly what is very plain to the socialist.
The socialist sees the exploited working people of all capitalist countries as the friends of the oppressed colonial peoples. Their common foe will be every imperialism. The colonial peoples will drive the imperialist robbers out of their lands, and the working peoples will beat them to the ground in the homelands of capitalism.
Mrs. Buck – with all her plain speaking on the nature of World War II – still places her hopes to the rotting corpse of capitalist “democracy.” In that rests her basic misunderstanding and error. But the socialist knows that the principles of democracy now reside only in the exploited, oppressed working people of the world. The democracy that will man the trenches against fascism is workers’ democracy. There is no other democracy left.
The Nazi System
From New International, Vol. VIII No. 11, December 1942, pp.𧉝.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
BEHEMOTH, the Structure and Practice of National Socialism
by Franz Neumann
Oxford University Press, 549 pages, $4.00
Franz Neumann, a German social-democratic refugee, has written a study of Nazism in the grand manner. It is serious and thorough it is carefully documented with several hundred references to original sources as well as innumerable quotations from political theorists of all ages it contains much valuable descriptive material and it has that indispensable Germanic professorial style that makes each sentence taste like a chunk of raw cowhide. Nonetheless, Behemoth is a book of very uneven quality. Part of the major theoretical premises are, in the opinion of the reviewer, untenable, and this despite the excellence of many of the book’s sections.
Neumann believes that Nazism is a “non-state, a chaos, a rule of lawlessness and anarchy, which has swallowed the rights and dignity of man, and is out to transform the world into a chaos.” It is a society which has lost the compensating factors of even the most reactionary of all previous capitalist societies: rationality of social functioning and rational generality of codified law. It is a society which is marked by arbitrariness in its behavior toward the ruled classes and even toward subordinate sections of the ruling classes. Germany, Neumann claims, retains all the essential economic characteristics of capitalism it has in fact an imperialist economy par excellence but it marks a rupture with all previous capitalist societies because socially it marks a complete turn toward the “chaos of a non-state”! What is more, Neumann believes that “it is doubtful whether national socialism possesses a unified coercive machinery” since there are four conflicting social groups – the state bureaucracy, the party bureaucracy, the army leadership and the capitalists – all of whom are conducting an internal struggle among themselves which merely contributes toward the “chaos of the non-state.” We are not told how this “chaos” is capable of conducting such an immense venture as the present war, how this internal jungle succeeds in presenting such a dreadfully orderly and efficient front to the rest of the world. Germany, Neumann believes, is no longer a state. He writes on page 467:
If a state is characterized by the rule of law, our answer to this question (Is Nazism a state? – R.F.) will be negative, since we deny that law exists in Germany. It may be argued that state and law are not identical, and that there can be states without law. States, however . are conceived as rationally operating machineries disposing of the monopoly of coercive power. A state is ideologically characterized by the unity of the political power that it wields . I doubt whether even a state in this restricted sense exists in Germany . There is no realm of law in Germany . The monopolists in dealing with non-monopolists rely on individual measures and in their relations with the state and with competitors, on compromises which are determined by expediency and not by law. Moreover, it is doubtful whether national socialism possesses a unified coercive machinery . The party is independent of the state in matters pertaining to the police and youth, but everywhere else the state stands above the party. The army is sovereign in many fields the bureaucracy is uncontrolled: and industry has managed to conquer many positions. One might say that such antagonisms are as characteristic of democracy as they are of national socialism. Granting that, there is still one decisive difference. In a democracy and in any other constitutional system, such antagonisms within the ruling groups must be settled in a universally binding manner . If it is necessary for the state to coordinate and integrate hundreds and thousands of individual and group conflicts, the process must be accomplished in a universally binding manner, that is, through abstract rational law or at least through a rationally operating bureaucracy. Under national socialism, however, the whole of the society is organized in four solid, centralized groups, each operating under the leadership principle, each with a legislative, administrative and judicial power of its own. Neither universal law nor a rationally operating bureaucracy is necessary for integration. There is no need for a state standing above all groups the state may even be a hindrance to the compromise and to domination over the ruled classes. The decisions of the leader are merely the results of the compromises among the four leaderships . It is thus impossible to detect in the framework of the national socialist political system any one organ which monopolizes political power.
And in order to understand something of the basis of this amazing theory, it is necessary to quote Neumann’s concept of law:
The average lawyer will be repelled by the idea that there can be a legal system that is nothing more than a means of terrorizing people. He will point out that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of transactions in Germany are handled according to calculability and predictable rules . culturally indifferent rules of a predominantly technical character . Do we really mean such technical rules when we speak of law, however? Law . is a norm, comprehensible by reason, open to theoretical understanding, and containing an ethical postulate, primarily that of equality. In other words, the formal structure of the law receives a significance independent of its content (page 440).
It is the doctrine of positive law which states that only a law which has a general character, applicable to all is a law, which Neumann adheres to, and since there is no general character to Nazi law, therefore there is no law in Germany at all.
It is then a lawless, stateless chaos, with four powerful sections of the ruling class competing for power and possessing parallel coercive apparati, in a word, a “chaos.”
It should be obvious that we are here dealing with a mind in which the cobwebs of legalism have gained a firm grip. Despite this, it is necessary to note that there is intermingled with this fantastic theory some very important insights. It is both true and important that fascism represents, socially, a qualitative change from previous forms of capitalist society. All pretense of equality, of the general welfare as a purpose of societal existence, of even formal rights, are destroyed. Socially the totalitarian structure of the Nazi society is comparable only to some of the ancient oriental despotisms when they were already reaching the stage of decay. This point is of great importance, since it serves as the most dramatic possible indication of the state of decay of the capitalist system, which does still exist in Germany. And to the degree that Neumann describes this, his book is valuable and worthy of study.
The Nature of Law
But the basic premises of this theory are dearly unacceptable. Law is not merely a codification which is general and universal such a concept is completely the reflection of bourgeois democracy since general and universal law was first accepted, on a decisive scale, only with the advent of bourgeois democracy, which used it as a means of hiding its class structure and furthering its pretensions toward being a classless or supra-class society. As far as Marxists are concerned, law in its decisive aspects is merely the codification of the supremacy of the ruling class, regardless of whether it is universally applied or not and regardless of whether it also includes technical rules for the convenience of all (garbage collection, water supply). The law of the French monarchs was neither universal nor general yet is was certainly law. Nor is there ever a situation in which a society hesitates to go beyond the boundary of its formal law if it feels itself in danger. Whenever there is an element of grave stress within an existing society, that society abandons the usual rules of its procedure and dominates by open might yet even within that “lawlessness” there is still a considerable element of formal law. There is law wherever there is organization the content of law is determined by the class content of the social organization. That holds as true for Germany today as for any other class society, even though that law no longer makes the pretense to universality and generality.
Is There a State in Germany?
Nor can we subscribe to the notion that there is no longer any state in Germany today, that there are four parallel ruling groups coexistent and sometimes conflicting. Neumann is in error when he places the capitalists, the army leadership and the state and party bureaucracies on the same plane. The capitalists are a social class the others are social groups within or dependent upon the capitalist class. It is impossible for the army bureaucracy to have as much social power as the capitalists in point of fact they do not have that power, they seldom challenge that power and are in reality its supporters. As for the state bureaucracy, that is a parasitic organism swelling up on the basis of the needs of a completely centralized, monopolistic capitalist economy. This is especially true in Germany. As for the Nazi Party bureaucracy, Neumann himself admits and proves in his section on Nazi economy that the party bureaucracy is fast becoming absorbed in or dependent on the capitalist class and that the conflicts between them are decreasing.
There is a state in Germany today it is a capitalist state the capitalist class is the decisive ruling group, even though many of its secondary political functions have been taken over by the Nazi bureaucracy. In fact, then, not only has the state not disappeared it has become more powerful as the German imperialist machine geared itself for total war. It has become more centralized, rather than diffused only a many blinded by legal obfuscations can say that in Germany today there is “no unified coercive authority.”
What, then, is the purpose of these theories? Why are they presented? The answer lies, I believe, in the tender spot which Neumann retains in his mind for the Weimar Republic with its “pluralistic” (read: class collaborationist) approaches. For it is apparent that everything which Neumann says Nazi Germany does not have (the state as arbiter of social groups, universal law) did exist under Weimar. Clearly then, what is needed in Germany is a real “state” which will restore the checks and balances with which Weimar “restrained” the monopolists. The political program of our author is hardly more attractive than the theoretical mechanism with which it is justified.
Germany Capitalist Character
All that remains then, is the second section of the book describing the capitalist economy of Nazi Germany. This is by far the best part of the book. It is thorough and detailed it contains excellent analysis of the structural development of German monopoly capitalism in the direction of continued centralization and cartelization. Especially excellent are those chapters describing the preparations of German business for the present war. Neumann has digested, in this connection, an immense amount of statistical material and has correlated it into an excellent picture of the present functioning of German capitalism.
“National socialism,” he writes on page 360, “has coordinated the diversified and contradictory state interferences into one system having but one aim: the preparation for imperialist war . Preparation for totalitarian war requires a huge expansion of the production-goods industry, especially of the investment-goods industry, and makes it necessary to sacrifice every particular economic interest that contradicts this aim. This means that the automatism of free capitalism, precarious even under a democratic monopoly capitalism, has been severely restricted. But capitalism remains.”
One remark, however, in connection with the reasoning which Neumann uses against those who hold that Germany is no longer capitalist. If, he says, the means of domination in Germany have become purely political, since the laws of capitalist economy no longer function and the economy is run as part of the job of the state apparatus, then “we must also conclude that nothing but a series of accidents can destroy such systems. If the systems are held together only by political ties and not by any inescapable economic necessity, only political mistakes can destroy them. But why should political errors occur?”
I think this mode of reasoning is fallacious. It is reminiscent of the arguments used by those who believe Russia to be either a “workers’” or capitalist state. “If the laws of capitalist society, which explain why capitalism is doomed to inevitable crisis, no longer apply, then what laws do apply and what is the driving force, if any, that leads Russia (substitute in this case, Germany) to crisis?” That question is difficult to answer and it may be impossible because of the immaturity and national uniqueness of the Russian bureaucratic collectivism. If Germany were no longer capitalist, it would also be difficult to answer that question about Germany. But merely to pose the difficulty is not to prove that Germany remains capitalist, or that Russia remains a “workers’” or capitalist state. These questions must be decided on an empirical basis, by examining the economy of the countries concerned. If we are convinced that the economy of Germany is no longer capitalist or that of Russia no longer “workers’” or capitalist, but that one or the other of them is a new society, then it is truly difficult to present immediately the laws of its functioning and crisis. But Germany is a capitalist society, not because of the difficulties of a theory of non-capitalism, but rather because a concrete examination of German economy reveals it to contain the basic characteristics of capitalism.
12 December 1942 - History
Ten years is a long stretch in a man’s life. Time is the most precious gift in our possession, for it is the most irrevocable. This is what makes it so disturbing to look back upon time we have lost. Time lost is time when we have not lived a full human life, time unenriched by experience, creative endeavour, enjoyment and suffering. Time lost is time we have not filled, time left empty.
The past ten years have not been like that. Our losses have been immeasurable, but we have not lost time. True, knowledge and experience, which are realized only in retrospect, are mere abstractions compared with the reality, compared with the life we have actually lived. But just as the capacity to forget is a gift of grace, so memory, the recalling of the lessons we have leamt, is an essential element in responsible living. In the following pages I hope to put on record some of the lessons we have learnt and the experiences we have shared during the past ten years.
These are not just individual experiences they are not arranged in an orderly way, there is no attempt to discuss them or to theorize about them. All I have done is to jot down as they come some of the discoveries made by a circle of like-minded friends, discoveries about the business of human life. The only connexion between them is that of concrete experience. There is nothing new or startling about them, for they have been known long before. But to us has been granted the privilege of learning them anew by first-hand experience. I cannot write a single word about these things without a deep sense of gratitude for the fellowship of spirit and community of life we have been allowed to enjoy and preserve throughout these years.
Article by VICTORIA BARNETT
In December 1942, Dietrich Bonhoeffer sent a Christmas letter (“After Ten Years”) to his closest friends in the resistance. In a bitterly realistic tone, he faced the prospect that they might fail, and that his own life’s work might remain incomplete. He may have wondered, too, whether his decision to return to Germany and to work in military intelligence had been the right one. “Are we still of any use?” he wrote:
We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds: we have been drenched by many storms we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? 22
The necessities of subterfuge and compromise had already cost him a great deal. He pondered the different motives for fighting evil, noting that even the finest intentions could prove insufficient. “Who stands firm?” Bonhoeffer asked:
Execution site at Flossenbürg concentration camp. Bonhoeffer’s body was immediately cremated and the ashes scattered. —Christian Kaiser Verlag
Only the one for whom the final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all these, when in faith and sole allegiance to God he is called to obedient and responsible action: the responsible person, whose life will be nothing but an answer to God’s question and call. 23
In this letter, one of Bonhoeffer’s most moving and powerful writings, the various threads of Bonhoeffer’s life and work came together. He had been one of the few in his church to demand protection for the persecuted as a necessary political step. He had called upon his church, traditionally aligned with the state, to confront the consequences of that alliance. The church struggle, as he wrote Bishop George Bell in 1934, was “not something that occurs just within the church, but it attacks the very roots of National Socialism. The point is freedom. . . .” 24
Bonhoeffer’s focus remained more theological and political. The church debates about the Aryan paragraph had convinced him that the old traditions were bankrupt. Instead, Bonhoeffer called for the practice of “religionless Christianity” in “a world come of age”—a world in which the old certainties and values had been replaced by cynicism and ideology. He tried to determine what kind of Christian faith was viable in this new world—not in order to “extricate himself heroically from the affair,” but to arrive at a new understanding of faith, to pass on to future generations.
It is in this context that his ongoing reflections on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity must be understood. His insights were less about Judaism, more about his own Christianity. His 1941 statement that “The Jew keeps the question of Christ open,” (published in his Ethics) was a final acknowledgment that the persecution of the religion most historically bound to his own had led him to rethink his own faith fundamentally.
For this reason, Bonhoeffer’s greatest influence today is precisely in those critical Christian circles that have sought to reformulate Christian theology after Auschwitz. Nonetheless, we cannot know for sure whether he would have abandoned his early supersessionism, or how he would have dealt with the theological questions raised in the aftermath of the Holocaust. He was unable to complete his theological journey.
Bonhoeffer’s final legacy transcends that of the German resistance circles in which he moved. Their tragedy was not just that they failed, but that their failure revealed the extent to which they were “unfinished.” As the decades since 1945 have passed, we become ever more aware that the scope of Nazi evil demanded a more finished kind of heroism—impelled not only by repugnance against the brutality of a dictatorship, but by a deeper awareness of the costs of antisemitism, compromise, and complicity.
But this is an awareness that we have won only gradually, partly as the result of the growing scope of Holocaust scholarship. Our realization that the pervasive antisemitism and anti-Judaism in Christian circles helped foster the attitudes that culminated in the Holocaust leads us, correctly, to read Bonhoeffer’s theological writings more critically.
This should not blind us to the fact that he leaves a legacy unique among theologians and church activists. As hardly any other Christian thinker in history, Bonhoeffer articulated a theology that truly confronted his times—and he did so not with the benefit of hindsight, but during the Third Reich itself. We are left with many questions about where this life would have led. But, in a very real sense, the questions Bonhoeffer left unresolved are the ones we face today, as we continue to wrestle with the aftermath of the Holocaust.
Bonhoeffer’s words are reinforced by the price he paid, that of death. His example, and the willingness he demonstrated to oppose evil, whatever it might cost, are a stirring example to us today in the face of growing antisemitism worldwide. How are disciples of Yeshua to respond? How are Jewish disciples especially to respond to misunderstanding and prejudice that they experience, both in the church, the world and even at times amongst our own people. Let us ponder well the life and teaching of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for the stirring message and challenging reflections of your witness, Bonhoeffer. Help us, like him, to have the courage of our convictions, love for those who persecute us, and the wisdom to know and follow after you as your disciples. Help us to walk in the way of suffering, martyrdom if necessary, for your grace and glory to be made know. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.
22 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. “After Ten Years,” in Letters and Papers from Prison. Enlarged Edition, Eberhard Bethge, ed. (New York: The Macmillan Company), 1971, 16–17. [Back to text]
24 Bonhoeffer, Gesammelte Schriften 1, letter dated 15.5.1934 (Munich: Kaiser Verlage, 1958), 194. [Back to text]
The Socialist Ideal in the World Crisis
From New International, Vol. VIII No. 11, December 1942, pp.𧉔.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The continuous defeats of the international Marxist movement during the past twenty-five years could not have passed without leaving their mark, not merely on the interpretations of the major strategical tenets of Marxian ideology, but also on what might at first glance appear to be the one constant factor within the Marxian system: the socialist ideal itself. This was inevitably so. The social decay of capitalist civilization has been so sharp and catastrophic since the First World War that even the most intransigent revolutionary movements could not fail to be affected by it – and that, not merely in their derivatory methodology but in the very heart of their existence as well: the character of their announced purpose.
True enough, the effects of this social disintegration on the basic perspectives of socialism have not been as glaringly evident as the effects on its political strategy it is easier to observe that adherence to the theory of socialism in one country or to popular frontism is a betrayal than to see how the socialist perspective of a movement becomes warped and withered. The contemporary Marxist movement is chock full of annihilating polemics against revisionist or Stalinist deformations of Marxian policy but it has failed to attack with equal vigor and wrath the at least as dangerous violence committed against the basic ideal of socialism in the minds of the working class – and in the minds of the most militant and revolutionary workers as well. But this failure of perspective can be understood only against the background of our movement’s failure adequately to view the present.
In his volumes on the Roman Empire, the historian, Rostovtzeff, remarks that hardly a person then living realized the extent of the decline of the Roman Empire, that it was almost impossible for a person suffering from the immediate and surface effects of that decline to realize its full extent. It is only from the vantage point of historical perspective that it is possible to see that the Roman Empire during its last days was, despite the faith which so many of its citizens still placed in its invincibility, a gaudy facade beneath which a thousand fissures were swelling, soon to erupt and destroy its whole structure.
A Propagandists and Agitational Crisis
Much the same situation exists today. Not even the boldest and most sincere revolutionists have fully absorbed into their consciousness the extent to which our society has decayed. We are the adherents of the world thesis which states that capitalism is in its “death agony” but we cannot, to some degree because of the very nature of the circumstances themselves, appreciate the literalness of that slogan. We cannot fully appreciate the social and cultural correlatives implicit in the concept that society has entered the period of counter-revolution in permanence, the decline of the West. Our imaginations cannot grasp that which our intelligence dictates. The alternative, socialism or barbarism, is not an exhortative admonition it is a grisly fact. And yet, in this greatest human crisis since the capitalist merchant towns began to grow along the Italian coast, revolutionary Marxists, who alone have the only proper method for analyzing modern society and who alone have the only programmatic answer to its crisis, have failed to express in condemnation of what exists and especially in vision of what should exist, the gravity and urgency of the situation.
This is not, of course, merely a problem of propaganda efficiency – although it is that, too. Marxists, who rightly pride themselves that in a period of universal desertions to the latrine-society of capitalism, they have maintained their revolutionary devotions, have had their visions dimmed and hopes cheapened because they, too, have been victims of the effects of capitalist decay. And how could it be otherwise? How could a movement, tortured, betrayed, crushed and beaten as the Marxist movement has been in the past twenty-five years, come out of this ordeal (which it has not even yet donel) with its faith as pure, its morality as noble and its program as untarnished as when Marx and then Lenin first rang out the call to revolt?
Marxism is paying the price for the betrayals of Social-Democracy and Stalinism in more ways than one. Not only does capitalism owe its continued existence to them, but many of the present crises and deficiencies of the movement today are the results of subtle hangovers from those twin betrayers.
The most striking manifestation of this situation is the failure of revolutionary socialist propaganda to emphasize the TOTALITY of the world crisis. What began as a valid and necessary tactical approach – the need for emphasis on the immediate and concrete daily problems of the American working class as a means of reaching some common grounds of articulation – has grown to the point where the critique of capitalist society is hopelessly atomized and partial. Who is not familiar with the articles in the revolutionary press lengthily attacking some minor deformation of capitalist society and then lamely ending with the suggestion that this problem can be solved only by establishing socialism – some vague but, it is hoped, magically evocative chimera.
More and more, however, the problems of modern society become interdependent and intertwined. The simple economic demand of yesterday involves the gravest class struggles and threats to the structure of the state today. But, I wish to emphasize, my major purpose here is not to discuss the inadequacies of socialist propagandists, but rather to point out that these inadequacies are partially the result of the corroding effects which the decay of capitalist society has had on the movement – in this case, on the picture of what capitalist society is.
“Counter-Revolutionary Workers’ State” Theory
If the inability to graphically transmit abstract understanding of the present situation of capitalist society has had harmful effects on the movement, then how much more harmful have been the effects ot the well nigh universal deterioration of the socialist ideal. A whole generation of workers has been poisoned by the Stalinists and fascists. Millions associate socialism with personal despotism millions think of communism and fascism as being twins millions think of socialism as being the antithesis of democracy. The Trotskyist movement has long labored under the tragic delusion that it had but to convince the Social-Democratic and, especially, the Stalinist workers of the validity of its method of achieving socialism and the job would be done. But the fact is that Stalinism deformed and distorted the ideal of socialism in the mind of its followers beyond recognition, just as social-democracy diluted it beyond recognition. Millions of people could think Stalinism and fascism twins because in so many important political respects they are twins. And millions of people could think socialism synonymous with personal or bureaucratic despotism because the Stalinist regime, which the propaganda agencies of the GPU, Gestapo and democratic capitalism united in labeling socialism (and which we, until recently, called the “counter-revolutionary workers’ state!”) was actually synonymous with that kind of despotism.
That poisonous distortion of the socialist ideal crept into our system – and its main vehicle was the theory of Stalinist Russia as a workers’ state. Perhaps no more decisive proof of this can be cited than by quoting from a recent article of George Collins, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party (Cannonites) which is the most graphic available example of the situation we have discussed in the previous paragraphs.
Writes Collins with regard to the resistance of the Russian armies at Stalingrad:
“But the workers and Red soldiers of the Soviet Union fight with a bitterness unmatched in this war because they are defending the socialist achievements of a workers’ revolution. Factories, mines, mills, railroads, workshops belong to those who work them. The soil belongs to those who till it. A man who will not defend such treasures is either a coward or a traitor a man who fights to the death for them is more than a hero – he is a socialist worker.”
We may well ask ourselves after reading this: Just what is the vision of socialism of a man who believes that in Stalinist Russia today (which is characterized by his own colleague, John G. Wright, as a “jail” in which the workers serve a “life-term imprisonment”), that in this despotic, bureaucratic oligarchy, in Stalinist Russia “the factories . belong to those who work them,” that “the soil belongs to those who till it”? And that this is, to top it off, nothing more nor less than . a “treasure”!
Is it impolite – or undialectical – to then ask how this “treasure” can also be a “jail”?
How Stalinism Corrodes Socialist Thinking
It is clear, I think, that a man who can write such sentences, regardless of his subjective integrity, has more than a little of the Stalinist virus in his political make-up. He is incapable of presenting the distressed workers of the world with a program for liberation and a vision of a new and better world because his own vision of that new and better world has been befouled with Stalinist excrescence. Those who camouflage jails as “treasures” can hardly be expected to usher in a new era of world history!
But more important than this extreme manifestation of the Cannonite susceptibility to the Stalinized version of socialism is the basic theory from which it partially flows: the theory that Stalinist Russia is a “degenerate, counter-revolutionary workers’ state.” It is only now, in retrospect, that it is possible to see the politically and morally corroding effects which this theory has had on the revolutionary movement.
It seems almost like a nightmare now to recall that the revolutionary movement could have labeled this bureaucratic despotism as a workers’ state. (It is interesting to note that while the defenders of this theory called Russia a workers’ slate, they never called it a dictatorship of the proletariat!) Now it is possible to see what an ideological buttress this theory was to the basic premises of Stalinism. The term “workers’ state” which had always been associated with a great, conscious seizure of power by the masses, a constantly increasing hold on the political and economic centers of power by the masses, a gradual destruction of bureaucratic forms, a continued rise in mass initiative, a gradual destruction of all inequalities until society would glide into socialism – this term was now associated with what the advanced workers could see as a monstrous despotism. The term “degenerate workers’ state” which Lenin had applied to the Russia of 1923, when he was insisting that “every charwoman should learn to conduct affairs of state,” was now applied to what John G. Wright has so aptly called the “prison state.” Once this basic concession was given to Stalinism, once we allowed that the concept and the contradictory reality could be coupled together, then we had fallen into the Stalinist trap. And then, the crowning absurdity of all was the discovery that while Russia was a workers’ state it was also a “counter-revolutionary workers’ state.” Now, while it is possible to admit that there will never be a workers’ state as pristine in its purity as we should wish, that there will even be workers’ states which for periods of time will become “degenerate workers’ states” (such a one was, as Lenin correctly pointed out, Russia of 1923), the term “counter-revolutionary workers’ state” is self-contradictory, the product of a movement whose concept of socialism and the transition thereto has been compromised and sullied.
And that is why, for the followers of the Trotskyist movement, the ideal of socialism tended to become not a goal of a classless society in which for the first time the human personality would find a fertile arena for expression, in which genuine human relationships would first begin to blossom and in which, as Marx wrote, the period of human history would first begin but rather a kind of more or less benevolent police state (with the Stalinist version cast as the least benevolent) built on the treacherous fetish of nationalized economy. Nationalization of the means of production gradually became to be viewed as an end in itself, rather than as the Marxist movement had always seen it previously, as a means toward the socialist end. This political and moral degeneration was greatly retarded when Trotsky was alive by virtue of his incomparable revolutionary personality and his scrupulous morality, which often prevented the workers’ state theory from being developed to its logical conclusions. But now that Trotsky it gone, his Cannonite epigones have developed the workers’ state theory to its reactionary and absurd conclusions, of which the previously quoted Collins article is but one instance.
An Evolution in Cannonite Thinking
During the factional fight some two years ago in the Trotskyist movement, the Workers Party developed the opinion that Russia should not be supported in the present imperialist war. Trotsky was of the opinion that the question of the class character of the Stalinist state was the main issue facing the movement and that the question of defense or non-defense was purely derivatory. It was insisted then, and rightly too, that the immediate issue at stake was the question of political attitude toward the rôle of Russia in the war, which could be decided without a discussion of the class character of Russia.
For it was possible to consider Russia either a workers or non-workers’ state and still be either for or against its defense in the war. The question of its class character was used by the Cannonites as a red herring to obscure the immediate political issue at stake. But Trotsky was right in at least this: With characteristic perspicacity he saw that beneath this struggle on an immediate issue (though, in our opinion, not congruent with it) there was brewing a difference of opinion of the most basic and serious nature. That difference has now come to full light. It is my opinion that the Cannonite movement is in the process of developing the full and disastrous politics of this theory, as well as its moral effects on the organizational life of that party. It can now be seen, I believe, that the separation from the Cannonites raised an increasingly broad and serious issue, more important than any of the secondary tactical issues about which our debates take place. Separating us now is, I believe, a wide difference as to what the socialist perspective itself is. Theirs has been corrupted and distorted by their unquestioning adherence to the workers’ state theory which has served as the vehicle for the corruption of their socialist perspectives and it has, together with certain other factors deriving from the native background of the Cannonite organization, gone a long way toward the corruption and Stalinization of their organizational life. 
On the Class Character of the Soviet Union
Now, too, we can see how false was the opinion held by many that the whole question of the class character of Russia was unimportant, that what was essential was the question of defense or non-defense. After all, they said, we all agree as to what exists in Russia what is important is not what name one gives, that is merely a question of political semantics what is important is what attitude one takes toward its r&le in the war. This approach, too, is radically false. For the purposes of the specific discussion two years ago it mattered little whether one considered Russia a workers’ state. In general, however, it is a question not merely of semantic interest the motives behind the label are of basic importance. Though we and the Cannonites may agree on every detail of the organizational structure of the Russian economy, the different values which are placed on them reflect the most vital differences of attitude.
If then, as I believe, the movement is working around toward a restatement of the socialist ideal, untarnished by the social-democratic and Stalinist filth, but rather fresh and vigorous in its emphasis that the revolutionary and democratic aspects of socialism are inseparable, that socialism and the workers’ state which is the transition to it, is something more, something finer than that hell which exists in Russia today, then it is necessary to attempt publicly to state it, to reorientate our propaganda so that our friends and sympathizers will begin to see where we are driving. And though it is simple enough to see the basic situation I have tried to describe above, there is really little to say when it comes to practical conclusions. Once the understanding of the general problem seeps in, then writing and speaking will gradually be transformed. It will take on some of that inspiration and idealism which characterized the great Marxists, the writings of Lenin and Trotsky, because we will not have to indulge in tortuous rationalizations about “counter-revolutionary workers’ states,” but will rather be able to present the socialist ideal in the attractive form which it really is.
I know that talk about idealism and ethics and the like are looked upon with some suspicion in the revolutionary movement these days. And not without reason. Every scoundrel, every chicken-hearted turncoat who, at the very depth of capitalist degeneration, deserted the movement to return to the folds of Mammon and Babbitt, used those very words against us. But that is really no reason why we should surrender these words, and the concepts behind them, especially when we are most entitled to use them.
Our propaganda needs a new infusion of socialist idealism. That is now possible for us because we have thrown off the stifling bonds of the workers’ state theory. And it is eminently practical today as well. More and more, people think not merely in terms of the immediate partial problems which they face, but in terms of the world problem as a whole. One of the beneficial results of the world tragedy through which we are living has been to demonstrate to even the most insulated provincials that the problems of our world are indivisible. The returning soldiers of tomorrow will be attracted to our banner only if we can show them that we are out to build a completely new and finer world, that we make no compromise with any of the existing forms of reaction, that we alone bear the banner of uncompromising struggle.
This emphasis on the totality of socialism, on its promise for a better world, on the fact that it bears no resemblance whatever to the despotism which exists today in Russia, can help us rebuild that Marxist movement which alone points the direction out of the desert.
1. An interesting and extremely significant instance of this corruption of the Cannonite organizational life is the fact that for the first time in the history of the Trotskyist movement, the Cannonites boasted that their recent convention was marked by “unanimity.” Aside from the question of whether or not this is accurate, there remains the fact that such boasting is a disgrace to the revolutionary movement. Since when has “unanimity,” – especially by the methods with which the Cannonites obtain it! – been an aim of any revolutionary movement? And listen to the bureaucratic voice of Cannon:
“Our unity is somewhat disturbing to certain people . the medicine men of petty bourgeois radicalism . They are greatly worried about the fact that we have so much unity in our ranks, that we are free from crises and factional fights and feverish struggle over conflicting programs. These quack doctors don’t understand that we are well . because we cured ourselves of the petty bourgeois sickness in good time. We had the good fortune to have an anticipatory crises . We secured our internal peace by a timely preventive war.”
Where have we heard this before? Is it not the voice of Stalin explaining the newly-found unanimity of the Russian party because of its purges of the “counter-revolutionary Trotskyists” and “liquidated Bukharinists”? The voice of the bureaucrat pompously, and falsely, boasting of “unanimity” is recognizable no matter in which organization it is heard.