Marxism and war

Thirty five years after America's war

Ira Berkovic

America’s war in Vietnam, and the international movements that sprung up in opposition to it, are central events in the history of 20th century radical politics. The events of that conflict continue to cast a long shadow over the contemporary left’s understanding of imperialist war. Looking back over a distance of 35 years, Vietnam still has a huge amount to teach us in terms of the nature of capitalist imperialism, the nature of Stalinism, and what kind of anti-war politics and movement socialists should aspire to fight for and build.

The Life and Death of Henk Sneevliet

Max Shachtman and an unknown Dutch revolutionary socialist

Leon Trotsky once said that the small revolutionary movement he led was like the apex of an inverted social pyramid, upon which the whole weight of capitalist society pressed down. Hounded and murdered by fascists and Stalinists, the Trotskyists suffered terrible casualties during and immediately after the Second World War, all across Europe, from France to Greece. The politics of independent working class socialism, which the Trotskyists represented, was everywhere defeated.

1943: the situation in Europe

By summer 1943 the Axis war machine was suffering heavy setbacks. Although Hitler had completed a total occupation of France in November 1942, and still held on to his conquests in the Low Countries, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States and parts of western Russia, the Axis powers no longer looked able to win the war.

On the dissolution of the Third International

The Stalinist bureaucrats have dissolved the Comintern. “Warning”, declares the Axis propaganda, “this is just a manoeuvre, a chimera, playing dead”. “Hurrah!” the Anglo-Saxon imperialist press cries with joy, “our allies are not communists, they are good Russian patriots”. “Of course, it’s just a manoeuvre” is the rationalisation the communist worker still committed to the Third International