The Endless Fantasy of American Power
Neither Trump Nor Biden Aims to Demilitarize Foreign Policy
IN 1920, when Great Britain attempted to intervene in the Russian Revolution, Ernest Bevin, then leader of the English dock-workers, organized Councils of Action and strikes to prevent intervention. In 1948, Ernest Bevin, by this time British Foreign Secretary, signed the Brussels Treaty and, a year later, the North Atlantic Alliance; and although both these pacts are unmistakably designed for defense, they are fraught with the possibility of war with Russia. In 1920 as in 1949 Ernest Bevin was supported by the overwhelming majority of the British working class and by most of the Social Democratic Parties on the Continent.
This change in the attitude of European Social Democrats toward Communist Russia is of comparatively recent date. Until the eve of the Second World War, Social Democrats looked upon the Soviet Union as the great revolutionary Power -- the first and only country in the world which had abolished capitalism. There were few illusions among the rank and file, and still fewer among the leaders, as to the despotic character of the Communist dictatorship in Russia. The first Congress of the reinstituted Labor and Socialist International, meeting at Hamburg in 1923, stated in its resolution on Russia that while the Congress "considers it to be the duty of the world's workers to combat with all their strength all endeavors by the imperialist Powers to intervene in the home affairs of Russia. . . ." it nevertheless demands "complete abandonment of the system of terrorist party dictatorship and adoption of a régime of political freedom and democratic self-government of the people."
The tendency, however, was to extenuate the Russian dictatorship. The theory was that Russia had never in her history established liberal and democratic traditions, that the masses of the illiterate and superstitious peasants and workers were not yet ready for democracy, that the rapid transformation of the Russian semifeudal agricultural society into a Socialist industrial society was only possible by the coercive force of a dictatorship, and that, in face of the most violent social ferment and the terrible economic dislocation into which Russia had been thrown in 1917, the alternative to the terroristic Communist dictatorship was not a democratic régime but a terroristic counter-revolutionary autocracy. This theory was given an optimistic interpretation in the corollary that since the Communist dictatorship had emerged from war and economic collapse, and had hardened under the threat of war and economic strain, it might become less rigid, and even evolve in the direction of freedom, as soon as Russia's security was no longer menaced and her industrial resources had been more fully developed. This hope was expressed in the Manifesto of the Executive of the Labor and Socialist International on the occasion of the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the foundation of the First International, on September 28, 1924: "With genuine sorrow we see that the dungeons and places of exile of Tsarist Russia have not disappeared. . . . Thus on this memorial day the International expresses . . . deep grief because we not only have to protest against the persecutions of our capitalist enemies, but also against those who once stood at our side. But this period of confusion will pass. . . . The sooner Russia is freed from her isolation the sooner will the result be attained."
The sympathy for Russia was strongest in the Socialist movements of Great Britain, Switzerland and Austria -- countries with insignificant Communist Parties. In Norway and Italy the friendliness carried the majority of the Socialists into the Third International. However, the German Social Democratic Party, faced by a formidable Communist movement, felt a deep resentment against Russia; and so did the Socialists of Poland (remembering Lenin's attempted conquest of the country in 1920) and of Hungary (where a short-lived Communist régime had collapsed in 1919). Yet all members of the Labor and Socialist International accepted the axiom that the Soviet Union was a powerful anti-capitalist fortress, and therefore that the duty of the working classes the world over lay in defending it if it were attacked by the imperialist-capitalist countries.
Moreover, the history of European Social Democracy between the two world wars was dominated by an earnest desire to bridge the gulf between the Second and Third Internationals and to reunite them into an all-embracing Socialist International. And although the Communist International answered these overtures with an intensification of its assaults on Social Democracy, abusing the Socialists as "social traitors" and even coöperating with the Nazis in the downfall of German Social Democracy, European Social Democracy still thought that the way to stem the rising flood of Fascism was to repair the breach between the two Internationals. Social Democrats welcomed the change of policy of the Communist International when, after Hitler's advent to power, it proclaimed its willingness to coöperate with them against Fascist aggression. The French Socialists gladly concluded a working agreement with the Communists and accepted the support they offered to Léon Blum's first Government in 1936. Stalin's pact with Hitler was a shock, but caused no basic change of attitude. Social Democrats still upheld the principle that war against the Soviet Union must be considered a war against the sole noncapitalist country and therefore should be resisted. And when, during the Russian-Finnish War in the winter of 1939-1940, influential circles in the British Government urged active support of Finland by British military forces, the suggestion was firmly rejected by British Socialists. A war against Russia, they declared, would split the working class and indeed the country itself from top to bottom.
This feeling toward Soviet Russia changed to deepest sympathy when she was attacked by Hitler Germany, and in turn to profound admiration when she emerged triumphant from her ordeal. Forgotten were the vacillations of the Communist policy, the harm it had done to the European working classes, and even the barbaric features of the Communist dictatorship. And when the British Labor Party took power a few weeks after the war ended in the summer of 1945, European Socialists ardently hoped that the result would be a sincere understanding between Britain and Russia and a final reconciliation between Socialists and Communists.
Scarcely three years later, however, the Socialist Government of Britain, and the Governments of France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, in all of which Socialists participate, have concluded the Brussels Treaty and the North Atlantic Alliance.[i] True, both pacts are interpreted by most Social Democrats as moves to redress the balance of power and to preserve peace by restraining further Russian expansion. Nevertheless, the contingency of war against the Soviet Union is not excluded, and the Socialist Parties have indicated their resolve to support such a war if it should occur.
It remains doubtful, however, whether the Socialist parties would actually be able to carry the entire working class with them. The rank and file certainly realize the necessity of resisting further Russian encroachment. Yet there is a strong feeling in the labor movements of France, Italy, Britain, Belgium, Norway and Denmark that a military clash should not be permitted to occur. Despite this, it would be as disastrous a blunder for Russia to derive encouragement from these instincts as it would be for the western Powers to neglect them. The mere fact that the Socialist movements of Western Europe actually did accept an alliance with capitalist America against Communist Russia denotes a most significant change of attitude.
The cause of this change is, in the first place, the new awareness of the intrinsic nature of Communist expansion. Until 1947 or 1948 European Socialists did not fully picture what the real consequences of Communist conquest might be. They looked on the Communist Parties of their countries as national parties, affiliated, of course, with the Communist International and bound to its decisions, yet retaining a degree of national independence. It was assumed that should the Communists gain power in a European country, they would, to be sure, destroy democracy and transform the capitalist economy internally by the instrument of dictatorship, and externally, establish most intimate relations with the Soviet Union; but it was also assumed that they would maintain the national sovereignty and integrity. A Communist state would, of course, coöperate with the U.S.S.R., but it would not merge with it. No Socialist, and probably few Communists, ever visualized the possibility that countries under Communist government would be submerged by the Soviet Union, losing their identity and becoming mere Russian provinces, ruled by governors appointed by Moscow.
Yet this was what actually happened in all the countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans which came in the Russian sphere of influence. The three Baltic States were straightway incorporated into the Soviet Union and reduced to provinces of the Russian empire. Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Albania and even Czechoslovakia became in fact, if not in legal form, Russian colonies. True, their Governments are, like the Government of the Soviet Ukraine, composed of natives. But although they are formally elected by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of their countries, like the Government of the Soviet Ukraine, they are in fact appointed by the men of the Kremlin. They enjoy cultural autonomy like the Soviet Ukraine; and, as any colonial government, they enjoy a certain latitude in administration. But they are beyond question subordinate to the needs and orders of the Russian Government. The final proof is that Jugoslavia, a Communist country which attempted to retain a certain degree of independence, is being treated as an enemy state.
This was a new experience. Even some left-wing Socialists who were inclined to interpret the Communist triumphs as stages in the spread of world revolution now recognize them as stages of Russian conquest. Since the very structure of the Communist Party in every country secures the absolute supremacy of the Kremlin, it follows that should the Communists conquer power in the major countries of the Continent, Europe will become part of the Russian Empire. Such a prospect is by no means repulsive to Communists. They feel that they are members of an international community, and of a militant army to which various countries and nationalities rightly contribute divisions. They naturally assume that the interest of any country in which they win power must be subordinate to the needs of the Communist world revolution.
But such a prospect has little attraction for Social Democrats. In countries directly threatened by Russia -- in particular Germany and Austria -- Socialists passionately oppose Communism as a menace to national independence. The objective of Marxist Socialism has been a revolution which would transform the capitalist countries of Europe into a federation of free and equal Socialist states, inspired by the nations most advanced in the economic and cultural fields. This is very different from the idea of a Communist revolution which would subject the European people to the dictatorial control of the state which is economically and culturally most backward. In the prewar years many European Socialists felt resentment toward Soviet Russia because they considered her responsible for the split in the working class; but it was not until 1945 that the U.S.S.R. became a threat to the liberty and independence of all European peoples. Now it is plain that Communists in the various European countries can no longer be looked upon simply as the most ardent defenders of the Soviet Union. They are the instruments of aggression by Russia. This change of attitude toward the Soviet Union is the most striking feature of the changed ideology of the reborn Social Democracy.
There was thus a new perception of the values of liberty and democracy among the Socialists of the Continent, as they emerged from the trial of Fascism and war. Until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Social Democrats had assumed that liberty and democracy were implied in all Socialist principles, Marxist or non-Marxist. The goal of Socialists everywhere was a fully developed democracy based on universal suffrage. Political power was to be gained through the instruments of political democracy, and the strength of the state used to transform the fictitious democracy of capitalist society into the real democracy of Socialist society. Until 1917 the conflict between Marxists and Reformists, as well as between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, did not take the form of "democracy versus dictatorship." The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party indeed split at its Second Convention at London in 1903, but the cleavage was the result of a difference on the question of party organization. Lenin, the leader of the majority (Bolsheviks) pleaded for a closed group of "professional revolutionaries," while George Plekhanov, Paul Axelrod and Julius Martov, the leaders of the minority (Mensheviks), desired a workers' mass party on the pattern of the German Social Democracy. Lenin remained a democrat until the eve of the November revolution in 1917.
The Reformists believed in the possibility of a peaceful evolution of capitalist society into a predominant Socialist society, while the Marxists -- in particular those of Germany and Russia -- maintained that a proletarian revolution was inevitable, because the ruling classes would never permit the free development of democracy, would never yield to a Social Democratic government even if it should be supported by the majority of the people, and would if necessary break democratic institutions by force.[ii] Yet Marxists as well as Reformists, Mensheviks as well as Bolsheviks, upheld the principle of democracy as expressed in the teachings of Marx and Engels. Of course, Marx and Engels held that the antithesis of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" was not democracy, but the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie;" they saw in the Paris Commune the pattern of the "dictatorship of the proletariat," which was based on universal suffrage, supported by the majority of the electorate and regulated by public opinion as expressed in frequent elections and the people's right to recall their representatives. "Nothing could be more foreign to the spirit of the Commune than to supersede universal suffrage by hierarchic investiture," wrote Marx in his "Civil War in France." Still less, until 1917, did Socialists doubt the concept of civil liberty. The idea of freedom was considered no less essential to Socialism than the idea of equality. It symbolized a society which would make possible a fuller and freer expression of individuality than could class-divided capitalist society.
But after 1917 three factors shook the belief of Socialists in the concepts of democracy and freedom. The first was the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on Socialist thought of Western Europe. In Russia a tiny minority of the people, organized in a monolithic party, had seized power by force and had used it as an instrument to uproot the ruling classes and to destroy the remnants of feudalism and the nascent capitalism. Many Western European Socialists assumed that it had thus cleared the road to Socialism. This triumph of the Bolsheviks powerfully challenged Social Democracy, for it demonstrated that the control of the state could more easily be taken by force than by the instruments of democracy. It also demonstrated that Socialists do not necessarily need the support of the "immense majority," as Marx had said; they could achieve their aims by the bold strategy of a minority, as Blanqui advocated.
The second factor was the failure to carry through the democratic Socialist revolutions in Germany and Austria. Although the Social Democrats succeeded to a limited degree in infusing political democracy with a new meaning by an extension of welfare legislation, they were unable to change the capitalist structure of society. They failed above all in their efforts to secure full employment by planned economy: there were 6,000,000 unemployed in Germany, and in Austria a fifth of the industrial population was out of work (at the peak of the crisis nearly three-quarters). To these vast impoverished masses democracy and even liberty lost their meanings.
But what contributed most to disillusionment was the inability of democracy to uproot the forces of autocratic reaction in the bureaucracy and the judicial apparatus. In Hungary (1919), Italy (1922) and Poland (1925), democracy was speedily conquered by Fascist or military dictatorships. In Germany and Austria democracy was paralyzed by sabotage by the bureaucracy, magistracy and big business, and ultimately crushed by Fascist movements. Marx's thesis, that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purpose," but would have to "smash it," received a new meaning in the light of these experiences. The lesson, for example, which the reborn Hungarian Social Democratic Party drew from this experience was graphically expressed by one of its leaders, Emanuel Buchinger, in a speech to the Conference of the German Social Democratic Party in July 1947:
We are about to build up democracy in Hungary. But it cannot be like the English democracy, which has developed in the course of centuries. Let us assume that the British Labor Government were defeated by the Conservatives at the next election. Its defeat would, at the worst, slow down the pace of Socialist transformation of Great Britain. Should, however, the old reactionary classes regain power in Hungary, there would be not enough trees in the forest of Bakony on which to hang honest democrats and Socialist workers who would be doomed by a counter-revolutionary régime. Three million landless peasants who have been settled by a land reform on the vast estates of the big landowners would again be reduced to serfs, the coal mines and foundries which have been nationalized would be returned to their former capitalist owners, and the industrial workers would be thrust back into the misery from which they are now emerging. Our country, which has never known freedom under the Hapsburgs' domination, has been poisoned by the reactionary spirit of Horthy's counter-revolutionary dictatorship and Fascism, which ruled the country for a quarter of a century.[iii]
Since Bolshevism exterminated democracy no less ruthlessly than did Fascism, there was thus engendered a new understanding of the value of liberty. Socialists had clearly perceived the limitations of the charter of human rights based on property relations, inherited from the liberalism of the rising middle classes in England, America and France; but they had never cast doubts on its intrinsic value. They had not desired to diminish its scope, but to extend and deepen it by liberating the poor from their dependence on the rich. It can truly be said that the charter of human rights retained its primacy in the Socialist order of values in those countries where it was not yet accepted --(as, for example, Tsarist Russia) or in those countries (as imperial Germany or the Hapsburg Monarchy) where it was not fully implemented by a system of democracy. But after Tsarism had been overthrown and democracy had been established in Germany and Austria, the workers' struggle for social security and economic reconstruction had been put first in the scale of values. In the inter-war years there was an unmistakable tendency in some quarters of the labor movements of Central Europe to consider democracy not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. Even the concept of freedom was subordinated to the objective of keeping power in the workers' hands. A distinguished school of Socialist thought maintained that should an emergency arise in the course of revolutionary struggle which would compel the working class to break up the bureaucratic-military machine of a state by a working-class dictatorship, civil rights would have to be sacrificed. But it was of course assumed that civil liberties would gradually be restored, once the emergency had passed and the transformation of the capitalist into the Socialist society was no longer endangered.
The experience of Bolshevism in Russia made plain what the consequences of that theory are. It showed that a working-class dictatorship is indeed an effective instrument for breaking up the bureaucratic-military machine; but it also showed that the "dictatorship of the proletariat" develops almost irresistibly into the dictatorship of the party which seized power, and that the dictatorship of a monopoly party develops into a terroristic despotism. The result is inevitably a new "hierarchic investiture." The experiment of Bolshevism has further shown that it possesses the power to destroy the capitalist fabric of society, but not the creative force to transform it into a Socialist commonwealth. Communism substituted state capitalism for private capitalism, and replaced the system of wage labor (which at least leaves to the worker his civil liberties) with a system of state servitude in which every trace of those liberties is extinguished.
The realization that the abolition of private capitalism by means of Communist dictatorship could be purchased only at the price of fundamental human rights produced a revaluation of democracy and freedom. This revaluation was most forcibly expressed by the head of the Marxist school of Socialist thought, the late Austrian Socialist Otto Bauer, in the statement on democracy and liberty which he made as the rapporteur of the last Congress of the Labor and Socialist International held at Vienna in 1931. He said:
Various ways of attaining Socialism are conceivable. There is the way of violence, of dictatorship, of terror, along which the historical example of the Russian Revolution is beckoning wide masses of the workers in all countries. Yes, we will not deny it -- for the case of Russia proves it -- by this means the means of production can be torn from the hands of the capitalists, the monopoly over property and education possessed by the propertied classes can be broken, and an attempt can be made to substitute a planned organization of social production for capitalist anarchy.
But we all know -- for the Russian example proves this as well -- that advance along this path must be bought at the price of the most terrible deprivations for decades, must be bought by renunciation of the blessings of personal and spiritual liberty, which are the most valuable gains of centuries of struggle by humanity for freedom, and by the shedding of rivers of blood. . . .
This way of violence, of dictatorship, of terror, is not our way. . . . We have always desired, and we still desire, to advance towards Socialism by a quite different, by an opposite path. . . . We do not wish to give up democracy, the right of the people to political self-determination, for the sake of Socialism, but to use them as foundation and the means of building up a Socialist society.
Soon after this statement the dark night of Fascist barbarism descended upon Europe. Millions of workers on the Continent lived in a terrible world in which all human rights were blotted out, and this experience led the Socialist Parties to a still more searching reëxamination of the relation between democracy and Socialism. Although Social Democrats had considered civil rights and political democracy inherent in the Socialist doctrine, the institutions which embodied this freedom were seldom objects of special concern. Most Socialists were wont to regard economic domination as the sole or, at any rate, the supreme evil, and to reason that when this was destroyed, the forces of freedom and democracy would automatically be released. The lesson of Fascism as well as of Communism not only aroused a need to reaffirm the creed of political democracy, but also to study more carefully the institutions in which it is embodied. This new trend of thought was expressed in the resolution of the International Socialist Conference held in Vienna in June 1948:
The Parties represented at this Conference will stand together in their fight for the preservation and extension of political democracy. . . .
They are opposed to the one-party state and to any system of government based on it.
They consider that political democracy implies recognition of the dignity of the human personality which finds expression in: freedom of conscience, opinion and speech; free access to all sources of information; freedom of association; legal security and protection against the arbitrary action of individuals or of society; equality before the law, free from any political interference; complete freedom and security of elections; the right of opposition; political and juridical equality of all citizens irrespective of class, race or sex.[iv]
That was the first time in history that an international Socialist conference defined democracy and freedom in unmistakable terms and pledged its parties to stand together in their defense.
Until the rise of Fascism, most of the continental Socialist movements were inspired by Marx's concept of history. The doctrines of Marx fascinated idealist youths, impressed many middle-class intellectuals, and gave the workers certitude in the final triumph of the Socialist cause. This assurance has been shaken by events since 1933. Marxism has by no means been discarded; in England, for instance, the Marxist school of thought has penetrated political writings, the science of history and social science deeper than ever before. But the lesson of events since 1933 has made necessary a reëxamination of Marxism, and of the fundamental principles of Socialism.[v] Two features of this discussion are of particular significance. The first is a rebirth of the humanitarian tradition of Socialism; the second is a revival of Christian Socialism.
The rebirth of the humanitarian tradition is the natural reaction to the nihilistic revolution of National Socialism. Marxism, like every school of Socialist thought, is derived from the Western European tradition of Christian and liberal ethics. The Christian and liberal tradition was strongest in British Socialism, the liberal and humanitarian tradition -- most conspicuously represented by Jean Jaurès, Emile Vandervelde and F. Turati -- was strongest in French, Belgian and Italian Socialism. But until the rise of Fascist nihilism, the school of ethical Socialism developed in contradiction to Marxism, particularly in Germany. It opposed the Marxist conception of class struggle and the primacy of economics in social processes and, above all, Marx's conception of history. Under the impact of Fascist nihilism (as under the blows of Communism after 1945), Marxist Socialists also felt the urge to return to the ethical and humanitarian sources of Socialist thought.[vi] Fascism institutes a new type of economic and political servitude which destroys man's dignity and reduces the individual to a cog in a vast machine. There have been significant attempts by Socialists -- in journals and pamphlets, particularly in England, France and Germany -- to reëxamine the relations between the individual and the state and between the individual and the nationalized industries. The implications of the growth of the power of the state are deeply felt and noted, and the dilemma of social democracy -- the simultaneous effort to extend the power of the state and to develop the freedom of the individual -- is fully recognized. There is an intensive search for new forms of economic and political democracy that will secure the effective participation of the individual in economic and political affairs and prevent industrial and governmental bureaucracy from becoming the master of the people.
From this criticism of the modern industrial and political state has emerged a significant shift of emphasis in Socialist thought, away from the economic and scientific side of Marxism, and toward its ethical and humanitarian aspects. In Germany especially this tendency is expressed among Socialists in a critical reëxamination of Marx's theory of economic materialism; in its stead is revived the ethical conception of Marx's early writings. Tendencies toward irrationalism and transcendentalism in Socialist thought are also discernible in the revival of the Bund religiöser Sozialisten in Germany and in the formation of the Catholic association Esprit in France. It is interesting to note that, for instance, one of the items of the agenda of the Kulturtagung, organized by the German Social Democratic Party at Lübeck in July 1948, was devoted to the discussion of "Conciliation between ratio and religio." In Holland this trend of religious thought produced a reconstruction of the old Social Democratic Labor Party in 1946: the Catholic Christophorus movement, the Calvinist Christian Democratic Union, the hitherto independent group of Protestant Socialists and the old Socialist Party all merged in a single Socialist Party of Labor.
Most Socialists ardently desired to see a United Socialist Europe, based on an agreement between Great Britain and the Soviet Union and embracing all the countries from the Atlantic to the Russian border, emerge from the holocaust of the war. But the idea of the unification of Europe was opposed by the Communists even before the fighting stopped; they saw in it simply a potential bloc against the Soviet Union. And the high hopes of wartime received a death blow when Eastern Europe and Czechoslovakia were incorporated in the Russian system.
But European Union remains a major Socialist objective. Social Democrats support efforts to form the structure of a federated Europe by setting up a Council of Europe and an all-European Federal Parliament. The 1948 International Socialist Conference at Vienna agreed to press forward to place "the major sources of economic power in Europe under international control;" it set up a special commission to make detailed recommendations. A permanent trade union organization, representing the metal workers and miners from France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland, has already been formed to influence the future organization of the Ruhr. The International Socialist Conference declared as "its profound conviction that it would be greatly in the interest of European peace and prosperity if the German people decided for the Social-Democratic policy of putting the basic industries of the Ruhr under public ownership and Socialist control. Under no circumstances must these industries be allowed to return to private capitalists of any nation."
In their advocacy of a United Socialist Europe the Social Democratic Parties are guided by three major considerations. The first flows from the conviction that Europe will never regain prosperity without the economic integration of the Continent, and that only under a Socialist economy can full employment, social security and a steady rise in the standard of life of the working classes be attained. The second stems from the conviction, most forcefully expressed by the French and British Socialists at the recent Conference, that "the reintegration of Germany into Europe's productive effort and into the world community . . . is one of the essential conditions for the effective reconstruction of our continent." The corollary is that Germany must not be divided. "Socialist parties," the resolution states, "cannot agree to a definite partition of Germany, whose effect could only be to provoke a recrudescence of nationalism, militarism, and the break-up of European unity by the consolidation of 'blocs.'" [vii]
The supreme consideration, however, which influences the international policy of European Social Democracy is the need for the preservation of peace. Any European citizen, Socialist or non-Socialist, abhors and fears a third world war, for he believes that the terrible devastation it would produce would bring civilized life in Europe to an end for ages to come. But only a war with the U.S.S.R. is conceivable -- and the possibility of war against Russia confronts European Social Democracy with a tragic dilemma. Such a war, should it occur, would essentially be a war between capitalist America and Communist Russia, with the countries of Western Europe supplying the field of operations. For Socialists, this raises the serious problem noted at the beginning of this inquiry. Socialists realize that since the attempts at an understanding between Social Democratic Britain and the Communist Soviet Union have so far failed and the U.S.S.R. has never laid down her arms, the west cannot remain unarmed. They also realize that the redress of the balance of power requires coöperation with the United States of America. But many Socialists are aware that since the United States would inevitably play the chief rôle in a war between the west and the Soviet Union, because of her overwhelming economic and military power, the United States would naturally also determine the shape of the world after the war.
Such a contingency was discussed in a memorandum, signed by Otto Bauer, Theodor Dan and Jean Zyromski, and submitted to the Parties of the Labor and Socialist International, before the Second World War. The memorandum urged the Socialist Parties to support the imminent war against Hitler Germany; but it said further that should the western imperialist Powers turn against the Soviet Union in the course of the struggle, then it would be the duty of the Socialist Parties to oppose the war. Now Britain is no longer inspired by imperialist aims, but is a Commonwealth in Socialist transformation. And nearly all European countries outside the Russian orbit are governed by Social Democrats or by governments in which Socialists participate. Social Democrats do not desire to see Europe submerged by the totalitarian dictatorship of Russia. But on the other hand, they do not wish to see Europe reduced to an American colony, Russia dismembered, the debris handed over to reactionary-military dictatorships, and the capitalist structure of society restored. In either case, Social Democracy would perish.
Thus the urge of self-preservation no less than the force of principles and humanitarian considerations makes the preservation of peace the supreme aim of any international policy of European Social Democracy. Socialism is inspired by the hope that once the balance of power is reëstablished and Social Democracy has proved its creative strength as a method of Socialist transformation -- as increasingly in Britain -- a basis of agreement between the Socialist Western Europe and the Communist east may be found.
[i] The Brussels Treaty and the North Atlantic Alliance have not as yet been endorsed by the Committee of International Socialist Conferences, nor is it to be expected that they will be, because the Socialist Parties of Sweden, Switzerland and Austria stand for the neutrality of their countries. The International Socialist Conference, meeting at London in March 1948, declared: "In view of the developments recently produced in various European countries by the joint action of the Cominform and the Soviet Union, the Committee (of International Socialist Conferences) affirms its determination to construct a democratic and Socialist Europe, free from the menace of internal tyranny or external aggression wherever it may lie. It is convinced that the voluntary coöperation of all peoples in the urgent tasks of European reconstruction will best succeed on the basis of democratic Socialism." At its meeting at Vienna in June 1948, however, it denounced the so-called "people's democracies," and declared: "Politically, these governments are the negation of the civil rights and of the fundamental freedoms. Economically, they are inclined to substitute state capitalism for private capitalism. They betray both democracy and Socialism which they claim to represent." Note should be taken of the fact that the Socialist International has not as yet been properly reinstituted. There is only a Committee of International Socialist Conferences (COMISCO) of which the Socialist Parties are members.
[ii] This view, which guided the policy of the German Social Democratic Party up to 1914, was most forcibly expressed by Friedrich Engels in his famous preface (dated 1895) to a new reprint of Marx's "Civil War in France." "The irony of world history," Engels remarked, "turns everything upside down. We, the 'Revolutionaries,' the 'Rebels,' we are thriving far better on legal methods (by the successful utilization of universal suffrage), than on illegal methods and revolts. The parties of order, as they call themselves, are perishing under the legal conditions created by themselves. They say despairingly with Odillon-Barrot: la légalité nous tue; whereas we, under this legality, get firm muscles and rosy cheeks and seem to have eternal life; and if we are not so crazy as to let ourselves be driven into street fighting, in order to please them, then nothing else is finally left to them but themselves to break through this legality so faithful to them." "Selected Works of Karl Marx." Moscow: 1935, Vol. II.
[iii] "Protokoll der Verhandlungen des Parteitages der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands Vom 29. Juni Bis 2. Juli 1947 in Nürnberg." Hamburg: Auerdruck, 1948, p. 29. About a year after this statement the Hungarian Social Democrats merged with the Communists.
[iv] Socialist Information and Liaison Office. London, 1948, Circular 105.
[v] As part of a first attempt at a general reëxamination of Marxism may be mentioned Paul Sering's "Jenseits des Kapitalismus," Nuremberg, Nest-Verlag, 1948. See also Joseph Schumpeter, "Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy," New York, Harper, 1942; Arthur Rosenberg, "Democracy and Socialism," New York, Knopf, 1939; Otto Bauer, "Zwischen zwei Weltkriegen?" Bratislava, Prager, 1936; G. D. H. Cole, "The Meaning of Marxism," London, Gollancz, 1948.
[vi] See, for example, Léon Blum, "For All Mankind," New York, Viking, 1946; John Strachey, "A Faith to Fight For," London, Gollancz, 1941; Ignazio Silone, "Atto di Rinascita," Rome, 1945; Harold J. Laski, "Faith, Reason and Civilization," London, Gollancz, 1944; Victor Gollancz, "Our Threatened Values," London, Gollancz, 1946; Arthur Koestler, "The Yogi and the Commissar," New York, Macmillan, 1945.
[vii] Cf. Circulars 104 and 70 of S.I.L.O. London, 1948.