Ted Grant

We reprint this article by Ted Grant, first published in the July 1948 edition of Socialist Appeal which analyses the real reasons behind the split between Tito and Stalin.

In this pamphlet, written by Ted Grant, the RCP explained the social basis of fascism, as a mass movement based on the middle-class and set in motion by the capitalist class to smash the labour movement. Faced with the danger of social revolution and the loss of power, the British capitalists, no less than their European counterparts, would be prepared to mobilise and finance fascist gangs to atomise the workers organisations. The pamphlet describes how the British capitalists were sympathetic to Hitler and Mussolini before the war, and how they supported the nascent fascist movement in Britain around Oswald Mosley.

The Italian elections of April 18th, 1948 marked an important turning point in the class struggle in Europe with the defeat of the popular bloc led by the Italian CP and the victory of the Christian Democrats. Ted Grant analysed the role played in this defeat by the Church and the Allies, but pointed out that the imperialists had grabbed the chance to consolidate their control over Italy only thanks to the betrayal of Togliatti and the Stalinist leaders.

In 1947 a group of Russian workers over in Britain on a training programme were banned by the Soviet authorities from joining a British trade union, leading to conflict with the British workers who had fought for a closed shop. The Soviet bureaucracy could not tolerate the fact that these Russian workers might pick up a few ideas about basic trade union rights, which caused harsh debates within the British Communist Party.

After nationalizing Coal, it became evident to workers that conditions were not improving. A number of unofficial strikes broke out in 1947 provoking the threat of retaliatory sackings by the capitalist led Coal Board. Ted Grant vibrantly protested against the lavish acceptance of this measure by the leaders of the Miners' Union and called on them to give voice to the legitimate demands and grievances of the workers and fight for workers' control over the Coal industry.

In 1947 the US "liberal" Henry Wallace visited Britain to present his views against the policies of Truman, while at the same time defending the "progressive" character of Roosevelt's policies. Ted Grant argued that Wallace had nothing to offer the workers but empty words while glossing over the same imperialist policies.

In March 1947, Ted Grant welcomed the revolutionary opposition to the reformist policies of the leadership emerging from within the ranks of the Communist Party, especially among workers, at that year's Party conference. Differences were raised on the question of workers' control on the railways and the CP leaders' lavish support for Labour government's policies.

At the end of the Second World War a polemic broke out between the British Trotskyists of the RCP and the European Secretariat of the Fourth International as to whether bourgeois democratic or Bonapartist regimes had been established in Western Europe. This bitter exchange of letters between Ted Grant and the leader of the US Workers’ Party, Max Shachtman, gives a taste of that debate. Ted’s letter was first published in The New International in February 1947 with a reply by Max Shachtman.

At the end of 1946 the post-war Labour government issued a Bill for the nationalization of transport provoking furious criticisms from the Tories. Ted Grant explained why Marxists opposed compensation to the transport company shareholders and demanded that workers should take control over the industry through the election of a Workers' Board.

The first democratic elections in Germany after the war, in 1946, saw the workers' parties triumph, especially the Social Democrats, a swing of the petty bourgeoisie toward the Christian Democrats, the collapse of the openly right-wing parties and a total rejection of the Nazis. Ted Grant pointed out that this was the answer to those, including the Stalinists and Labour leaders, who blamed the German workers for Hitler's crimes. The relative setback of the Stalinists and protest vote in the Soviet Zone also indicated that German workers were in favour of Socialism, but were repelled by the Stalinist caricature of it.

In late 1946 Stalin announced that the immediate task in the Soviet Union was one of building "Communism". At the same time he set in motion new purges among the lower layers of the bureaucracy. Imposing these limits on corruption among the lower bureaucrats, Ted Grant argued, arose from the need to gain support from the pauperised and deprived masses for the reconstruction effort, in order to preserve the general privileges of the bureaucracy as a whole.

In 1946, while offering the exiled White Guards full citizenship, Stalin retaliated against the Chechen-Ingush and Crimean peoples and dissolved their autonomous republics, accusing them of having not rebelled against the Nazis during the War. 1,500,000 men, women and children were deported. "How [does one] explain the fact that the peoples see no advantages in the Stalinist regime, but the White Guard capitalist elements do?" Ted Grant asked.

In 1946 one of the main stooges of Stalin, Aleksandrov, delivered an official speech during the Lenin memorial meeting in Moscow announcing a revision of Marx and Lenin's theory of the state. Ted Grant highlighted the importance of this open breach with Marxism showing that it sought a theoretical justification for the persistence of the rule by the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union.

On the eve of 1946 post-war Britain was on her knees. The British ruling class reached a deal with the former U.S. allies for a huge loan, but the repayment conditions were very severe. The Labour leaders in office were willingly carrying out the dirty job of asking British workers to postpone any demands to improve their conditions. Ted Grant looked at the consequences of these policies for the workers.

As soon as Germany and Japan had been knocked out of the war, the scramble for the markets of the world intensified among the Allied victors. Despite the official lies about the reasons for Lend-Lease, it was only granted in the first place by the Americans after they had stripped British imperialism of the major part of her investments, markets and interests abroad. The sugary phrases about “co-operation” in the “great battle of democracy” are shown to have been but a cover for the real interests of imperialism.

At the end of the Second World War the Labour Party was elected into office, a clear rejection of Churchill and his anti-working class policies. But the statements of the Labour leaders revealed that they intended to continue with capitalism. The British ruling class understood they could use these leaders, discredit them and then bring back the Tories. Ted Grant warned the Labour leaders that this is what would happen.

The election of a majority Labour Government for the first time marked a definite turn in European, world and British history. In voting for the Labour Party, the mass of the British workers indicated that they wanted a complete change from the capitalist system. With such a decisive victory, the whole social structure of Britain and Europe could have been changed by a bold socialist programme on the part of the Labour leaders.

After the end of the Second World War, the Allies announced a savage and vengeful programme of enslavement of Germany and the German people. Of course, the responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis was not to be laid on their real backers, the German capitalists and bankers and the British and French capitalists. The burdens of dismemberment and defeat were to be thrown onto the backs of the thrice oppressed and enslaved German workers and peasants, the first victims of Hitlerism.

After the Crimea conference, the British Communist Party leaders came out with a position advocating a National unity government with the Tories for the post-war period. This policy of class collaboration was denounced by Ted Grant, who wrote in 1945 that, "to support Churchill is to support monopoly capitalism. To support the capitalists, the interests of the working class must be betrayed. It has taken the advanced British workers the experience of 50 years to realise that the Liberal and Tory Parties are parties of capitalism."

In early 1945 the radical mood within the British working class was preparing a landslide victory for the Labour Party. In this context the I.L.P. leadership raised the idea of re-affiliation to the L.P., but gave no explanation for its 13 years of independent existence. Here Ted Grant provided a sober-minded Marxist approach to the question of the Labour Party and the mass organizations of the working class in general.

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