World War II

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The Second World War was, in the final analysis, a titanic struggle between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR. The truth is that the British and Americans were little more than spectators for most of the war, notwithstanding the enormous sacrifices made by working-class soldiers from these countries to fight fascism.

The cynical calculations of the British and US imperialists led them to hope that Hitler would defeat the USSR, and that in the process Germany would become so enfeebled that it would be possible to finish them both off. To the horror of the imperialists, the USSR inflicted a shattering defeat on the Nazis.

This was despite the criminal policies of Stalin, which nearly collapsed the USSR at the start of the war. It was thanks to the power of a nationalised planned economy that the USSR was able to out-produce and outgun the Nazis.

The intrigues and friction between the imperialist interests of Britain and the USA allowed the war to drag on even longer. The deaths of millions of Soviets on the eastern front were of no real concern to Churchill and Roosevelt. After months of dragging their feet, these powers only threw themselves into the war when they began to fear that communists would take power the length and breadth of the European continent. It was the fear of communism more than fascism that moved the imperialists to decisive action.

The Second World War illustrates the role of imperialism and the power of a planned economy, among other things. This is why it is important for Marxists to study it.

"We can state one thing with certainty. The agreement between Stalin and Hitler would essentially alter nothing in the counter-revolutionary function of the Kremlin oligarchy. It would only serve to lay bare this function, make it stand out more glaringly and hasten the collapse of illusions and falsifications. Our political task does not consist in “saving” Stalin from the embraces of Hitler but in overthrowing both of them."

"We live in an epoch of the universal liquidation of Marxism in the ruling summits of the labour movement. The most vulgar prejudices now serve as the official doctrines for the political and trade-union leaders of the French working class. Contrariwise, the voice of revolutionary realism rings against this artificial sounding board like the voice of “sectarianism”. It is all the more insistently necessary to repeat over and over again the fundamental truths of Marxist policies before audiences of advanced workers." (Trotsky)

The main ideas in this document, published in the name of the Communist League of France, came from Trotsky, parts being dictated to secretaries during the hectic weeks when he was trying to find a place to live, and the whole being edited by him. This program was a response to the pre-revolutionary situation that developed after February 6, 1934, when fascist and reactionary groups staged an armed demonstration against the Daladier government at the Chamber of Deputies.

"The war of 1914-18 officially ushered in a new epoch. Its most important political events up to now have been: the conquest of power by the Russian proletariat in 1917 and the smashing of the German proletariat in the year 1933. The terrible calamities of the peoples in all parts of the world and even the more terrible dangers that tomorrow holds in store result from the fact that the revolution of 1917 did not find victorious development on the European and world arena."