August 3, 2018

THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION - The Post-War

A. ZHDANOV

Speech delivered at the Informatory Conference of representatives of a number of Communist Parties held in Poland in the latter part of September 1947

I. The Post-War World Situation

II. The New Post-War Alignment of Political Forces and the Formation of Two Camps: Imperialist and Anti-Democratic, and Anti-Imperialist and Democratic

III. The American Plan for the Enthralment of Europe..

IV. The Tasks of the Communist Parties in Uniting the Democratic, Anti-Fascist, Peace-Loving Elements to Resist the New Plans of War and Aggression................................


The Post-War World Situation

The end of the Second World War brought with it big changes in the world situation. The military defeat of the bloc of fascist states, the character of the war as a war of liberation from  fascism, and the decisive role played by the Soviet Union in the vanquishing of the fascist aggressors, sharply altered the alignment of forces between the two systems—the Socialist and the capitalist—in favour of Socialism.

What is the essential nature of these changes?

The principal outcome of World War II was the military defeat of Germany and Japan— the two most militaristic and aggressive of the capitalist countries. The reactionary imperialist elements all over the world, notably in Britain, America and France, had reposed great hopes in Germany and Japan, and chiefly in Hitler Germany: firstly, as the force most capable of striking a blow at the Soviet Union which, if it did not destroy it altogether, would at least weaken it and undermine its influence; secondly, as a force capable of smashing the revolutionary labour and democratic movement in Germany itself and in all countries singled out for Nazi aggression, and thereby strengthening capitalism generally. This was the chief reason for the pre-war policy of “appeasement” and encouragement of fascist aggression, the so-called Munich policy, consis- tently pursued by the imperialist ruling circles of Britain, France and the United States.

But the hopes reposed by the British, French and American imperialists in the Hitlerites were not realized. The Hitlerites proved to be weaker, and the Soviet Union and the freedom- loving nations stronger than the Munich-men had anticipated. The effect of World War II was to smash the major forces of bellicose international fascist reaction and to put them out of commis- sion for a long time to come.

This was accompanied by another serious loss to the world capitalist system generally. Whereas the principal result of World War I had been that the united imperialist front was breached and that Russia dropped out of the world capitalist system, and whereas, as a conse- quence of the triumph of the Socialist system in the U.S.S.R., capitalism ceased to be an integral, world-wide economic system, World War II and the defeat of fascism, the weakening of the world position of capitalism and the enhanced strength of the anti-fascist movement resulted in a number of countries in Central and Southeastern Europe dropping out of the imperialist system. In these countries new, popular democratic regimes arose. The impressive lesson given by the Patriotic War of the Soviet Union and the liberating role of the Soviet Army were accompanied by a mass struggle of the freedom-loving countries for national liberation from the fascist invad- ers and their accomplices. In the course of this struggle the pro-fascist elements, the collaborators with Hitler—the most influential of the big capitalists, large landowners, high officials and mon- archist officers—were exposed as betrayers of the national interests. In the Danubian countries, liberation from German fascist slavery was accompanied by the removal from power of the top bourgeoisie and landlords, who had compromised themselves by collaborating with German fas- cism, and the rise to power of new forces from among the people who had proved their worth in the struggle against the Hitlerite conquerors. 

In these countries, representatives of the workers, the peasants and the progressive intellectuals took over power. Since the working class had eve- rywhere displayed the greatest heroism, the greatest consistency and implacability in the struggle against fascism, its prestige and influence among the people had increased immensely.

The new democratic governments in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Poland, Czechoslo- vakia, Hungary and Albania, backed by the mass of the people, were able within a minimum period to carry through progressive democratic reforms such as bourgeois democracy is no longercapable of effecting. Agrarian reform turned over the land to the peasants and led to the elimination of the landlord class. Nationalization of large-scale industry and the banks, and the confisca- tion of the property of traitors who had collaborated with the Germans radically undermined the position of monopoly capital in these countries and redeemed the masses from imperialist bond- age. Together with this, the foundation was laid of government, national ownership, and a new type of state was created—the people’s republic, where the power belongs to the people, where large-scale industry, transport and the banks are owned by the state, and where a bloc of the la- bouring classes of the population, headed by the working class, constitute the leading force. As a result, the peoples of these countries have not only torn themselves from the clutches of imperial- ism, but are paving the way for entry on to the path of Socialist development.

The war immensely enhanced the international significance and prestige of the U.S.S.R. The U.S.S.R. was the leading force and the guiding spirit in the military defeat of Germany and Japan. The progressive democratic forces of the whole world rallied around the Soviet Union. The Socialist State successfully stood the strenuous test of the war and emerged victorious from the mortal struggle with a most powerful enemy. Instead of being enfeebled, the U.S.S.R. be- came stronger.The capitalist world has also undergone substantial change. Of the six so-called great imperialist powers (Germany, Japan, Great Britain, the U.S.A., France and Italy), three have been eliminated by military defeat (Germany, Italy and Japan). France has also been weakened and has lost her significance as a great power. As a result, only two “great” imperialist world powers remain—the United States and Great Britain. But the position of one of them, Great Britain, is undermined. The war revealed that, militarily and politically, British imperialism was not as strong as it had been. In Europe, Britain was helpless against German aggression. In Asia, Britain, one of the biggest of the imperialist powers, was unable to retain hold of her colonial posses- sions without outside aid. Temporarily cut off from colonies that supplied her with food and raw materials and absorbed a large part of her industrial products, Britain found herself dependent, militarily and economically, upon American supplies of food and manufactured goods. 

After the war, Britain became increasingly dependent, financially and economically, on the United States. Although she succeeded in recovering her colonics after the war, Britain found herself faced there with the enhanced influence of American imperialism, which during the war had invaded all the regions that before the war had been regarded as exclusive spheres of influence of British capital (the Arab East, Southeast Asia), America has also increased her influence in the British dominions and in South America, where the former role of Britain is very largely and to an ever increasing extent passing to the United States.

World War II aggravated the crisis of the colonial system, as expressed in the rise of a powerful movement for national liberation in the colonics and dependencies. This has placed the rear of the capitalist system in jeopardy. The peoples of the colonies no longer wish to live in the old way. 

The ruling classes of the metropolitan countries can no longer govern the colonies on the old lines. Attempts to crush the national liberation movement by military force increasingly encounter armed resistance on the part of the colonial peoples and lead to protracted colonial wars (Holland-Indonesia, France-Viet Nam).

The war—itself a product of the unevenness of capitalist development in the different countries—still further intensified this unevenness. Of all the capitalist powers, only one—the United States—emerged from the war not only unweakened, but even considerably stronger economically and militarily. The war greatly enriched the American capitalists, The American peo-le, on the other hand, did not experience the privations that accompany war, the hardship of occupation, or aerial bombardment; and since America entered the war practically in its concludingstage, when the issue was already decided, her human casualties were relatively small. For the U.S.A., the war was primarily and chiefly a spur to extensive industrial development and to a substantial increase of exports (principally to Europe).

But the end of the war confronted the United States with a number of new problems. The capitalist monopolies were anxious to maintain their profits at the former high level, and accordingly pressed hard to prevent a reduction of the wartime volume of deliveries. But this meant that the United States must retain the foreign markets which had absorbed American products during the war, and moreover acquire new markets, inasmuch as the war had substantially lowered the purchasing power of most of the countries. The financial and economic dependence of these countries on the U.S.A. had likewise increased. The United States extended credits abroad to a sum of 19,000,000,000 dollars, not counting investments in the International Bank and the Inter- national Currency Fund. 

America’s principal competitors, Germany and Japan, have disappeared from the world market, and
this has opened up new and very considerable opportunities for the United States.Whereas before World War II the more influential reactionary circles of American impe- rialism had adhered to an isolationist policy and had refrained from active interference in the af- fairs of Europe and Asia, in the new, post-war conditions the Wall Street bosses adopted a new policy. They advanced a program of utilizing America s military and economic might, not only to retain and consolidate the positions won abroad during the war, but to expand them to the maximum and to replace Germany, Japan and Italy in the world market. The sharp decline of the economic power of the other capitalist states makes it possible to speculate on their post-war economic difficulties, and, in particular, on the post-war economic difficulties of Great Britain, which makes it easier to bring these countries under American control. The United States pro- claimed a new, frankly predatory and expansionist course.

The purpose of this new, frankly expansionist course is to establish the world supremacy of American imperialism. With a view to consolidating America’s monopoly position in the markets gained as a result of the disappearance of two of her biggest competitors, Germany and Japan, and the weakening of her capitalist partners. Great Britain and France, the new course of United States policy envisages a broad program of military, economic and political measures, designed to establish United States political and economic domination in all countries marked out for American expansion, to reduce these countries to the status of satellites of the United States, and to set up regimes within them which would eliminate all obstacles on the part of the labour and democratic movement to the exploitation of these countries by American capital. The United States is now endeavouring to extend this new line of policy not only to its enemies in the war and to neutral countries, but in an increasing degree to its wartime allies.

Special attention is being paid to the exploitation of the economic difficulties of Great Britain, which is not only America’s ally but also a long-standing capitalist rival and competitor. It is the design of America’s expansionist policy not only to prevent Britain from escaping from the vice of economic dependence on the United States in which she was gripped during the war, but, on the contrary, to increase the pressure, with a view to gradually depriving her of control over her colonies, ousting her from her spheres of influence, and reducing her to the status of a vassal state.

Thus, the new policy of the United States is designed to consolidate its monopoly posi- tion and to reduce its capitalist partners to a state of subordination and dependence on America.

But America’s aspirations to world supremacy encountered an obstacle in the U.S.S.R.,the stronghold of anti-imperialist and anti-fascist policy and in its growing international influence; in the new democracies, which have escaped from the control of British and American imperialism; and in the workers of all countries, including America itself, who do not want a new war for the supremacy of their oppressors. Accordingly, the new expansionist and reactionary policy of the United States envisages a struggle against the U.S.S.R., against the new democra- cies, against the labour movement in all countries, including the United States, and against the emancipationist, anti-imperialist forces in all countries.

Alarmed by the achievements of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., by the achievements of the new democracies, and by the post-war growth of the labour and democratic movement in all countries, the American reactionaries are disposed to take upon themselves the mission of “sav- iours” of the capitalist system from Communism.

The frankly expansionist program of the United States is therefore highly reminiscent of the reckless program, which failed so ignominiously, of the fascist aggressors, who, as we know, also made a bid for world supremacy.

Just as the Hitlerites, when they were making their preparations for political aggression, adopted the camouflage of anti-Communism in order to make it possible to oppress and enslave all peoples, and primarily and chiefly their own people, America’s present-day ruling circles mask their expansionist policy, and even their offensive against the vital interests of their weaker imperialist rival, Great Britain, by fictitious considerations of defence against Communism. The feverish piling up of armaments, the construction of new military bases and the creation of bridgeheads for the American armed forces in all parts of the world is justified on the false and pharisaical grounds of “defence” against an imaginary threat of war on the part of the U.S.S.R. With the help of intimidation, bribery and chicanery, American diplomacy finds it easy to extort from other capitalist countries, and primarily from Great Britain, consent to the legitimization of America’s superior position in Europe and Asia—in the Western Zones of Germany, in Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Japan, and so forth.

The American imperialists regard themselves as the principal force opposed to the U.S.S.R., the new 
democracies and the labour and democratic movement in all countries of the world, as the bulwark of the reactionary, anti-democratic forces in all parts of the globe. Accord- ingly, literally on the day following the conclusion of World War II, they set to work to build up a front hostile to the U.S.S.R. and world democracy, and to encourage the anti-popular reactionary forces—collaborationists and former capitalist stooges—in the European countries which had been liberated from the Nazi yoke and which were beginning to arrange their affairs according to their own choice.

The more malignant and unbalanced imperialist politicians followed the lead of Churchill in hatching plans for the speedy launching of a preventive war against the U.S.S.R. and openly called for the employment of America’s temporary monopoly of the atomic weapon against the Soviet people. 

The incendiaries of a new war are trying to intimidate and browbeat not only the U.S.S.R., but other countries as well, notably China and India, by libellously depicting the U.S.S.R. as a potential aggressor, while they themselves pose as “friends” of China and India, as “saviours” from the Communist peril, whose mission it is to help the weak. By these means they are seeking to keep India and China under the sway of imperialism and in continued political and economic bondage.