A libertarian communist analysis of the Second World War??

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Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 7 2005 01:20
A libertarian communist analysis of the Second World War??

I've always understood the complicity of British and American big business with fascism(indeed, that being a criterion of fascism itself), and indeed its cooperation with European fascist states right up until 1939, so what were the motives behind their and their respective states entering into World War 2??

Nick Durie
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Dec 7 2005 01:35

Nazism, Hitler and Mussolini being total loonies, and the fact that states and their respective mutually antagonistic interests are as intrinsic a part of capitalism as Henry Ford's ability to sell arms to every side.

I mean Chamberlain and the British state machine at the time did its best, didn't it? Just Hitler was having none of it.

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 7 2005 02:25

Basically the point's been put to me was that WW2 was the world's first purely ideological war - that the Allies were honest in their intentions and British intervention was simply in order to maintain liberal/social democracy.

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Nazism, Hitler and Mussolini being total loonies, and the fact that states and their respective mutually antagonistic interests are as intrinsic a part of capitalism as Henry Ford's ability to sell arms to every side.

What antagonistic interests?? Between fascism and British/American style capitalism??

Are you suggesting that Nazism/fascism is un-capitalist to the extent that it is anti-capitalist (if that makes sense)??

Nick Durie
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Dec 7 2005 03:01
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Are you suggesting that Nazism/fascism is un-capitalist to the extent that it is anti-capitalist (if that makes sense)??

No, not at all. The opposite in fact. Capitalism is all about access to markets, spheres of influence. States exist as unions if you like for ruling class power blocs. They do their capital intensive research, support them when their businesses aren't going so well, etc. They also invade countries and enslave peoples so that them are their pals can have access to labour, markets and raw materials and so on. It stands to reason that if Germany (a rival power to Britain at the time and perhaps still to some extent, notwithstanding the UK's in-y/out-y positioning within the EU) invaded Poland, ultimately the UK couldn't have that.

The situation within the Europe of the late 1930s was relatively faviourable to the UK, why would it want this upstart power going messing things up again? Before the British ruling class had been happy to appease the Nazi state, afterwards they clearly were a lot less so and there was a gathering consensus that Germany had to be stopped. Clearly this was not for benevolent reasons or a chivalric concern for a perceived wrongdoing to Poland's national honour, but because Germany's actions were causing problems for British capitalism.

For Germany invading other countries may have meant Lebensraum but it also meant a much greater direct sphere of influence for German capital, just as it did a much diminished role for the UK in these economies. I think its pretty obvious and would have held true of other economic systems as well.

I think questions about nazism being non-capitalist are not that relevant. Clearly Germany thoughout the second world war and after was capitalist, like everywhere else.

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Bodach gun bhrigh
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Dec 7 2005 11:04

It was a mess, either that or Hitler was a British spy

Nick Durie
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Dec 7 2005 13:04

yes.

Deezer
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Dec 7 2005 14:42
Alan_is_Fucking_Dead wrote:
Basically the point's been put to me was that WW2 was the world's first purely ideological war - that the Allies were honest in their intentions and British intervention was simply in order to maintain liberal/social democracy.

The fact that the war against fascism ignored Spain sorta deflates that argument. There were international imperialist and capitalist interests at stake, capitalists based in one nation or group of nations do not necessarily have the same interests as others (or rather they do but in pursuing those interests its just that it means they come into conflict with one another). You also have to remember how much Hitler and especially Mussolini were lauded when they first came to power - so ask what changed with them that didn't with Franco?

circle A red n black star

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Steven.
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Dec 7 2005 15:08
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
The fact that the war against fascism ignored Spain sorta deflates that argument.

Exactly. A lot of anti-fascists at the time believed that, and then couldn't believe that the Allies just left fascist Spain (and Portugal?).

Not to mention the Soviets put many former-Nazis back in charge in places in Eastern Europe (like Hungary). I believe in some parts of Europe this was also done but have no links/evidence so would appreciate being given them/being corrected.

The problem with German, as opposed to Spanish, fascism/dictatorship was that German fascism had to become expansionist, and thus rival the "democracies'" power.

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 7 2005 16:31

Thanks Nick and everyone else. That all makes sense to me now.

Ted Heath's Ghost
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Dec 7 2005 18:14

Before the war, Britain and France's foreign policy was - officially - trying to ally with Fascist Italy and draw it away from Germany. This is one of the main reasons why they didn't stop Italian arms and troops from reaching Spain during the civil war. Also, Roosevelt and the British government admired the corporatism of Italy and saw it as a middle way between the free market and state control, and copied many aspects of it. Portugal was a fascist dictatorship too, and essentially a British puppet state; during the war it pursued an anti-axis policy of neutrality, while remaining a close ally of Britain. Also during the war, Brazillian and Argentinian soldiers fought with the allies, both nations being fascist dictatorships. Ironically, Chamberlain handed Hitler Czechoslovakia (the only democracy in central/eastern Europe left) while he came to the defence of Poland, a military autocracy. Also, the allies strongly supported the KMT in China, even though they were nationalist fascists. Also, the fact that the Anglo-American lead allies allied with the Soviet Union - one of the most brutal dictatorships in history - should suggest that ideology had nothing to do with it.

Also, when you look at immediate post war policy, it's a policy of propping up fascists - British and American loans to Spain (Britain's first loan to Spain was in 1943, I think), British and American support of the military in Greece, the rigging of the Italian elections, the use of ex-fascists in Japan, the regime in South Korea and South Vietnam, Iran, etc etc. In a lot of cases, ex-nazis and war criminals were put back in power less than 10 years after that had been overthrown.

It was just another inter-imperialist war, really. A load of wank.

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OliverTwister
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Dec 7 2005 19:02

Hi

Don't forget Phibun Song...something, fascist disctator of Siam, erstwhile ally of Japan, placed into power by US backed military coup to crush independent workers action in Siam's new liberal democracy.

As far as using ex-fascists - this is about the only thing the USSR actually had a relatively good track record on - while some collaborators were kept in who claimed to be on the "socialist" side of national socialism, for the most part collaborators were replaced with CP thugs. Unfortunately anny resistance to the new CP-states, particularly by working class organizations which had fought the hardest, and suffered the most under Nazism, was severely crushed and labeled as "Fascist" - for instance the treatment of anarchists and "titoites".

The US on the other hand, took a very light hand on collaborators - until the late 1980s almost every West German cabinet included a former high ranking Nazi, while in Vietnam and especially South Korea the Japanese colonial police were rearmed to massacre militant workers. The US massively funded right-wing parties in Japan to combat the (quite natural, given the context) popularity of the Socialist and Communist Parties, and many conservatives at home strongly pressed for the re-arming of Japan in order to fight the US's wars.

Love

Oliver

jaycee
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Dec 8 2005 15:03

thev British ruling class also considered backing the Nazis against Russia and in some circles against the threat of America. It was clear that whoever Britain sided with in ww2 they would end up loosing their position as the worlds dominant power, it was decided quite late that Germany was the biggest threat.

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jef costello
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Dec 8 2005 20:32

The entente cordiale had been in place to try and restrain Germany for some time, it was Germany's impressive industrial base that worried the brits, and their attempt to get hold of African raw materials etc.

Don't forget that with a bit of common sense Hitler would have won the war. I'm not saying he would have created the 1000 year reich but he should have done better.

Hitler helped Spain partly for ideological reasons and partly to test weapons and to get combat experience for his troops, especially pilots if I remember rightly.

Spain was in no state to fight in 1939 and Hitler didnt think he needed Spanish assistance and saw no reason to cede them territory. As there was no military reason to remove Franco for either side no one did, after the war it was the same story. He wasn't expansionist and didn't threaten the interests of Britain etc.

AnarchoAl
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Dec 11 2005 21:45

It helps to understand how the Pax Britannica ("British Peace" - named after the Roman's "Pax Romana") operated, and the history of the states involved in WW2.

The British Empire relied on taking resources from the colonies, turning those into finished goods in the UK, and selling those to the markets of the continent (latterly the US also became an important market). Read up on the history of the cotton trade for a classic example.

As the Spanish Empire declined, England, France and the Netherlands were striving to be the next big kid on the colonial block. During the 17th and 18th centuries England (the UK after 1707) fought a series of wars with the Dutch and French, eventually defeating them once and for all in the Napoleonic Wars, establishing the pax- so called because after Napoleon there was a long period of relative great-power detente which was only shattered by the unification of Germany.

From at least the 18th century onwards, the UK's foreign policy in Europe centered around maintaining a balance of power on the continent, for several reasons. The most obvious is that anyone getting too big for their boots could challenge the UK, but perhaps more important was preserving UK access to European markets. In fact, the UK's involvement in the Napoleonic Wars was essentially for this reason- Napoleon's strategy was to create a Europe-wide trade zone sealed off to the UK.

Basically the only block of territory with the combined resources and markets to be able to see off the UK, and survive without it, extended from France to Russia- the area that both Napoleon and Hitler tried to conquer.

During the 19th century there was a balance of power on the continent, with France and Austria-Hungary unable to decisively defeat one another, and aware that the UK would intervene to prevent this happening, as it had against Napoleon. But a new great power, Prussia, was emerging, and as a Protestant power it had the ability to unite Germany. With the end of the franco-prussian war in 1871, nobody could prevent Prussia becoming the German Empire.

This event competely destabalised the balance of power. France simply could not counter Germany's industrial or military capacity. Germany, with dreams of taking its place as a world-spanning empire, started to build up a navy to challenge the UK. And so the stage is set for WW1. The peace treaty from WW1 didn't fix these issues, merely punished Germany economically and generated a great deal of resentment.

And so, WW2. Germany nabbing Austria and Czech isn't the end of the world for British capital, but Germany ruling or puppetizing Europe from Poland to the Atlantic coast means the end of the British Empire's profits.

In the end the Germans did come close, but were stopped at Stalingrad and hence didn't capture the oil they needed from the Caucasus.

jaycee
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Dec 11 2005 23:47

i don't understand why the consensus on here seems so clear that ww2 was an inter imperialist war where neither side can be supported but on other posts the allies are supported in so many cases

AnarchoAl
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Dec 12 2005 01:29

Which other posts?

Anyway, understanding that humanitarianism was not the reason the UK and France went to war doesn't stop us from all being glad that Hitler was prevented from conquering Europe.

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Alf
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Dec 12 2005 12:52

I was going to ask the same question as jaycee, who is no doubt referring to all the posts on '1939 and all that' and 'the Nazi obsession with the Jews' which come out in support of the 'Resistance' which was definitely on the Allied side and largely manipulated by the allied military commands.

Nearly all the posts on this thread analyse the war as an inter-imperialist war, but what's been missing are statements of the logical political conclusion if both sides are imperialist, the internationalist position was class struggle against both camps.

Anarchoneilist
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Dec 22 2005 20:43

...so the international working class/socialists/anarchists etc should have tried to convince their comrades not to fight (and more importantly to take over the armaments factories)

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Dec 22 2005 21:56
Alf wrote:
what's been missing are statements of the logical political conclusion: if both sides are imperialist, the internationalist position was class struggle against both camps.

No. The logical political conclusion comes from what you think is possible, given the balance of forces.

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quint
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Jan 2 2006 21:58

If you want to argue that WWII was "democracy vs fascism" then ya gotta explain why the democracies sided with Stalin (who certainly wasn't democratic). Why they didn't help or were hostile to the working class movements fighting fascism in Spain, France, Italy, Yugoslavia etc... If you want to argue that it was a matter of competing imperialist interests, then why were people like Ford allowed to sell to both sides, and why did FDR maintain close relations with american pro-fascists.

WWII wasn't fought for ideological or inter-imperialist reasons--(although of course these elements were present). At bottom it was a war to control the working class. There were strong working class movements in the 30s in all the major combatant countries. The leaders of these countries needed a way to destroy these movements, and hold on to power. The axis countries directly attacked workers movements in the name of the nation. But they had problems getting workers to produce, and were forced to expand recklessly to grab the weapons and raw materials to wage war. The allies (and lots of communists and anarchists) tried to rally workers around "anti-fascism", which meant giving up on revolutionary goals. On both sides of the war, the goal was to smash the workers movements, by rallying people around the national community, and breaking up international class community.

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jef costello
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Jan 3 2006 00:06
i'd rather be drinking wrote:
If you want to argue that WWII was "democracy vs fascism" then ya gotta explain why the democracies sided with Stalin (who certainly wasn't democratic). Why they didn't help or were hostile to the working class movements fighting fascism in Spain, France, Italy, Yugoslavia etc... If you want to argue that it was a matter of competing imperialist interests, then why were people like Ford allowed to sell to both sides, and why did FDR maintain close relations with american pro-fascists.

It was about competing imperial interests. Firstly Americans sought to profit from second world war for as long as possible, and had more to gain by supporting British Empire in order to gain control of the remnants after it had exhausted itself.

France/Britain sought to buy off Germany until it became obvious it was too expensive. Spain/portugal/italy were not too expensive, although Italy eventually did but only really by association.

The correct political decision is of course to have a revolution.

But that is also the correct political decision at virtually every point in history.

It is easier as the ICC have sometimes conceded and at other times denied, to organise in Liberal democracies, there is also a less open human cost, at least for citizens of these countries, under these systems.

Its interesting to think what would have happened if the Japanese had concentrated on China and left British colonies alone until later on.