What the war aims of the Allies are no one yet knows: To destroy “Hitlerism?” Yes. Positively – what? There will be talk of “peace, democracy, international federal union,” and what not, but these mean nothing. What do they actually aim at?
The principal war aim seems to be “revolution” in Germany. The champion revolt-busting interventionist Imperialism calls now for “Revolution” and wonders there is no response to the call! The leopard hasn’t changed his spots. All he wants is a new regime in Germany: “Fascism without aggression” if need be – that is: “have all the dictatorship you want and we’re with you, but don’t injure our capitalist’s interests or there’ll be trouble.”
You’ve read the Government White Paper on atrocities of the Nazis. They’re probably true (I don’t say such things can’t happen in the Empires of France or Britain too). But note this: They’ve been true for six years. The Government know this as well as the anarchists. Before the Government didn’t complain – even supported Hitler in various ways. Now he’s a rival imperialist, it’s different: Truth becomes propaganda. And remember: all this was true when Chamberlain went to Munich. Why wasn’t it said then, if the Government “sincerely” believe it and are only forced into saying it because of its hideousness?
There will be revolution in Germany. The German people will arise against Hitler. When? If they did it now, and ended the war, what would happen? Would the Government keep its word – it never does – or would it march into Germany and, as after the 1918 revolution, when Kaiserism was overthrown, impose a new Versailles? It did that to the “liberal democratic Republic” before – why not to the second? Besides: the Weimar Republic signified to the Germans unemployment, degradation, poverty: they will never go back to it voluntarily: it’s all or nothing now.
Suppose Germany went Communist? Germany and Russia would be allies then. Would France and Britain tolerate such a bloc: stretching from the borders of China to those of France, from the North Pole to Asia? “Communism” today is rival imperialist to “Democracy”: it would mean a new war.
Suppose there was a “stooge revolt” in Germany to help the Imperialist Allies win. What would follow? Perhaps a “second Portugal”: a Government, of whatever character, favourable to the out-side Imperialisms. Duff Cooper speaks of a possible right-wing “revolution” with a move back to monarchy. (They seem to be friendly with the Kaiser now!) France broadcasts to Austria calling for the restoration of – the Habsburgs! Meanwhile Britain broadcasts to Austria calling for restoration of the Republic.
France would favour an arrangement as in the early nineteenth century: a Germany split into small States: with preferably an Army of Occupation in Prussia. As for Poland! She can’t be “reconstructed as before” without war with Russia. She’ll resume her status as buffer state. Czechoslovakia will be reconstructed by Benes from his Putney villa, of course! And what would follow? Remember history repeats itself. Once before victorious Allies tried these games. The Allies were Britain and Germany: the enemy was – France. Napoleon was defeated and the Bourbons re-established, having “learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.” Napoleon came back from Elba, and swept France. It needed another war, and Waterloo, to crush him.
Hitler may not be a Napoleon. But the spirit of patriotist chauvinisin must be implanted in many German minds. Might not Hitlerism dash from a spiritual Elba, wherever Hitler himself was?
How then, asks the reader despairingly, can the war be ended? Surely revolution is then impossible? Might it not be best to hope and work for a military victory, followed by the crushing of Germany at least for a number of years before the next war? Or perhaps the complete crushing of Germany will mean peace for ever?
The crushing of Germany could not mean peace. Even supposing it could rule out Germany from participation in any more wars, what guarantee is there that the Government of Britain will not go to war against anyone else? The last war was not over a couple of years before the Winston Churchills were advocating alliance with Germany against ex-ally Russia. Prior to the last war the Allies had been Germany and Britain against France. There had been war between Germany, France and Britain against Russia. This is to name but a few of the different alliances there have been – and will be again.
War can be ended by revolution, But no revolution can be won by compromise with Imperialist War. Revolution is international force against all gangs of capitalists, from the workers of the world. The prospects are not unhopeful for revolution in the world, if the workers of Britain will take the initiative. This is not to say that revolution is daily imminent in Great Britain but certainly there must be a revolutionary movement in this country powerful enough to embarrass the Government in intervening against revolutions abroad (even if not strong enough to win here, at once). And after revolution abroad – our turn.
The circumstances of the war are favourable to revolution. Germany and Italy are forced (Germany through her participation, Italy through her fear of participation in the war) to withdraw their forces for intervention in other countries. The chances of a second Spanish Revolution – (which would certainly spread across the Pyrenees to France, and not unlikely to Italy) must inevitably increase with the withdrawal of Italian troops: not to speak of South America, dominated by German, Italian and Yankee Imperialisms, who, with the first two withdrawn, might take her chances for workers’ revolution against the latter. The Syndicalist unions in these countries, will seize the opportunity for directing the revolution on anarchist lines.
One can foresee the strengthening of the revolution as the capitalist war in Europe dragged to an end. In trying to end the war we help the revolution all the more. Who can doubt but that the example of these countries alone would considerably influence the workers of Germany, Russia and Britain in the struggle that is bound to supersede the finish of the war, against their Governments? And, if acting on the principles of direct action and the examples of anarchism, how could they lose?
From: War Commentary Vol.1, no.2 December 1939.