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Sherman Stanley

Will Stalinist Regime Add to Its Conquests?

(31 October 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 83, 31 October 1939, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The uppermost question in the minds of imperialist diplomats today is, “What next from Stalin and his regime?” Is it possible for Stalin – already deeply enmeshed in his alliance with Hitler – to withdraw? Or must he continue along the path of conquest and enslavement upon which he has set out?

Stalin and his bureaucratic cohorts have raised to their lips the bottle containing the heady wine of conquest and expansion, pressed from fruits gathered by their plunderers. The first drops have tasted sweet and have gone down smoothly. Will Stalin now, give an additional tilt to the bottle so as to increase the flow?

Let us summarize what has been done by the ruling Kremlin powers to date. They have conquered Eastern Poland (Byelo Russia and the Polish Ukraine) and established their undisputed rule over this large area. Estonia has been made a military “protectorate”, with such conditions that its whole national structure is, in effect, ruled by Russia. With this arrangement there has come sea control over the North Baltic (Gulf of Finland) and military positions that make the capitulation of Finland inevitable before the threats of the Kremlin rulers.

Latvia and Lithuania are meekly following behind Estonia and are likewise foredoomed to become “protectorates” – thus giving control of the entire Baltic Sea over to Stalin. Bessarabia – a totally undefended section of the tottering Rumanian state – can be plucked by the Kremlin’s hand at a moment’s notice. Rumania is eventually to be parcelled between Fascist Germany and the Soviet Union. Thus, a transportation route running from Georgia and the Caucasus, via the Black Sea and Rumania, has been cleared. Over this route will flow a part of the raw materials bound for Hitler’s troops.

As to the fate of Turkey and the Balkan nations, while this question has been postponed for the time being by the signing of the Anglo-French-Turkish Pact, it is nevertheless more likely that the German-Russian alliance will be more potent. The door has been left open for this eventuality by an “escape” clause in the Pact which categorically states that under no circumstances will Turkey fight against Russia.

The great strategic value and importance represented by the Dardanelles and Bosporus – as proven by the great campaign waged for control of the Straits and the Gallipoli peninsula in the last world war – make it vitally necessary for Stalin to attempt to hold Turkey in line. This fact, combined with the traditional policy of German imperialism – the drive to the East – will tend to dominate the fate of the Balkans.

Not a March for Liberation

Already there are reports that indicate the rapid approach of events in the Near and Far East which will have the utmost significance for the oppressed colonial peoples of Asia. These reports indicate the intention of the Stalinist bureaucratic gang to embark on a program of expansion southward and eastward.

Fulfilling his current role as a supporter and agent of German imperialism, Stalin may – at the command of his present master – be instructed to strike vital blows at British imperialism in its territories that extend from Iraq on the West to distant Burma on the East.

These lands are now the prize possessions of the badly shaken British Empire. They include Iraq, Iran (Persia), Afghanistan, British and Native India, Nepal, Tibet, and Burma. Within its vast confines live hundreds of millions of colonial slaves – workers and peasants – who have suffered long years under the harsh rule of “democratic” British imperialism. These people – representing almost one-fourth of humanity (500,000,000!) have been swept by tidal waves of revolutionary nationalist sentiment for liberation from imperialist rule.

The people of these British colonies desire – above all their national independence. Right now their lives are spent as colonial slaves working in the interests of the hated British slave-masters. The oil fields of Iran, the produce of the “Fertile Crescent” of Mesopotamia (Iraq), the mineral and industrial wealth of India – all of these are exploited by the British imperialists.

But Stalin would not come down among these people as a “liberator” or a revolutionary enemy of British rule. If Stalin should march south into the Persian oil fields; if he should attempt to overrun Afghanistan as a route into the Punjab, the most fertile and developed agricultural area of India; if he should conceive of a double invasion of India by way of Afghanistan from the West, Sinkiang and Tibet from the East; then we must openly state that he comes as an enslaver of the colonial peoples – not as their “emancipator”.

Colonials Will Reject Stalinism

The key answer to this complex problem lies in the overwhelming desire of these colonial people for their real, genuine freedom and national independence. Although the forms and methods of conquest and oppression of Stalin may vary greatly from those of British imperialism, nevertheless the entire nationalist and colonial revolutionary movement will instinctively reject and oppose any moves of Stalinism in their direction.

If reports continue to come through of the massing of Red Army troops in Sinkiang, of border violations in northern Afghanistan, of Nazi and Stalinist agents at work among the colonial peoples in attempts to deceive them and misuse their more than justified hatred of “democratic” British enslavement, then we shall return to what may become a burning question for the revolutionary colonial movement.

For the masses of the countries involved in these events there is only one slogan that strikes to the root of their desires: Neither British imperialism, nor enslavement by the Stalinist bureaucracy. National independence and the right to work out their own revolutionary and socialist destiny!

It took the Stalin regime three months to intervene in the Spanish revolutionary events, with results that everyone is acquainted with.

Now with the beginning of activity on the part of the 375,000,000 people of India in a drive to gain their independence from British tyranny, the, Kremlin masters are already casting an anxious eye in the direction of India. They are already laying the basis for their counter-revolutionary intervention through the pseudo-revolutionary activities of the Indian Stalinists and GPU agents! Stalin stands in unholy fear of a colonial revolution in India. Such a revolution would knock at the very doors of the Kremlin and threaten the ruling caste with immediate overthrow.

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