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Thread: Unpatriotic History of the 2nd World War

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    Default Unpatriotic History of the 2nd World War

    [FONT=Arial]Date: Sunday, 11 November 2012 - 6:00pm[/FONT]

    [FONT=arial]Venue: The Socialist Party's premises, 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN[/FONT]

    [FONT=arial]Directions: About five minutes walk from Clapham North tube on the Northern line[/FONT]


    [FONT=arial]James Heartfield introduces his new book Unpatriotic History of the Second World War in which he argues that the Second World War was just as much as the First World War, a conflict, on both sides, between rival imperialist powers for a re-division of the world and not, as popularly portrayed, a "people's war" of "democracy" against "fascism". He shows that this was just the ideological smokescreen to disguise the imperialist economic and strategic interests that were the real issue.

    Both sides screwed down their working class, regimenting them and reducing their living standards. Both sides committed atrocities. After the German conquest of Europe, for the first few years the land war was fought in Africa (they've just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the battle of El Alamein), the Middle East and Asia as the dominant imperialist powers fought to defend their empires. When the war did spread to Europe again the winning powers installed regimes favourable to their interests in what Heartfield describes as "the second invasion of Europe".
    [/FONT]


    [FONT=Arial]Free entry and refreshments[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial]
    [/FONT][FONT=Arial]Audience participation[/FONT]

    [FONT=arial]Event organised by the SPGB
    [/FONT]

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    James Heartfield introduces his new book Unpatriotic History of the Second World War in which he argues that the Second World War was just as much as the First World War, a conflict, on both sides, between rival imperialist powers for a re-division of the world and not, as popularly portrayed, a "people's war" of "democracy" against "fascism".
    Yep, it was totally a war between rival imperialist powers such as the USSR and Germany.
    I don't know how can the fact that WW2 was a war against fascist aggression be refuted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hetz View Post
    I don't know how can the fact that WW2 was a war against fascist aggression be refuted.
    Easily. Come to the talk and hear the myth dispelled

    Governments on both sides of the Allied/Axis divide fought for world hegemony in a brutal fashion ranging from the Holocaust to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs. The war began as a fight between imperialist 'have nots' (Germany, Italy, Japan) against imperialist 'haves' (Britain, France, Russia). Thus it ended with the defeat of the former and a new carve-up of the world on Cold War lines. Stripped of anti-fascist rhetoric, the Allied governments fought to protect, extend, or create empires.

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    Will there be a video of the talk?
    I think, thus I disagree. | Malcom X: "You can't have capitalism without racism" | RIP tech, I'll miss you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Q View Post
    Will there be a video of the talk?
    No, but there will be an audio recording.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whichfinder View Post
    No, but there will be an audio recording.
    The recording of James Heartfield's talk has been uploaded to our audio section -

    http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/a...-2nd-world-war

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    it was both

    both a war between

    imperialist powers

    and a people's war

    between fascism

    stalinism

    and liberalism

    over the future of the earth

    it was also

    the birth woes

    of a new world

    and

    don't forget

    a hollywood war

    with good guys

    allying with anti-heroes

    and satanic monsters

    against evil guys

    with nice uniforms

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    Living conditions in the social liberal west improved immediately after WW2.

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    Hitler was the devil incarnate. The Nazi program was to murder the Jews and enslave the Slavs. I am glad that Hitler lost and the pretensions of the Nazis and the Fascists were destroyed. As much as I disdain Stalin's misleadership, nonetheless the heroic soldiers of the Soviet Army were able to destroy the Nazi invaders and hunt down Hitler and force him to commit suicide. Job well done.

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    Ultimately this questions boils down to whether you believe the USSR was a workers' state, degenerated or not, that was worth defending. The USSR survived because it recognized the antagonism between imperialism and the USSR, and also between the relatively new fascist imperialist powers and the already well established "democratic" imperialist powers (the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie can take both "democratic" and fascist forms). I think the USSR was worth defending and so I consider any position that in retrospect argues that the Soviet working class should have been defeatist to be utterly criminal, especially since the anti-fascist struggle was for many people a war for basic survival.
    "Machinery in itself is a victory of man over the forces of nature, but in the hands of capital it makes man the slave of those forces" - Uncle Karl

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    I do not believe that the Soviet state was worth defending, but Hitler posed an existential threat to the Soviet peoples, and the people of the Soviet Union were worth defending. They defended themselves with valor and destroyed the invaders and their march on Berlin forced the rat Hitler to kill himself rather than face the consequences of his criminal actions.

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    Gramsci Guy, I have to disagree with you. Were not the millions of Germans who were raped and killed in WWII just as worth defending? A communist does not take sides in intercapital war. A proletarian internationalist is opposed to imperialist war without exceptions.
    Last edited by Yuppie Grinder; 26th November 2012 at 02:10.

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    With respect to the Great Patriotic War, I cannot agree with equating the Germans and the peoples of the Soviet Union, since the Germans were the aggressors. German deaths were a tragedy and Soviet Army's raping of German women was a despicable crime, but the Soviet peoples had the right to defend themselves against the existential threat posed by Nazism.

    I have tried to conceptualize World War Two as an "intercapital war", but ultimately I just don't see it that way. Such an analysis glosses over the fact that Nazism was more than just another form of capitalism. Hitler planned to force-march the Ukrainian and Russian people across the Urals, a barbaric plan that would have resulted in the deaths of tens of millions, a Slavic Holocaust would have been the result. Under these circumstances, the peoples of the Soviet Union acted in fulfillment of that most fundamental human right, the right not to be exterminated.

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    I don't think the lesser of two evils approach really works and incidents like the mass rape in Germany prove this.
    Do you take an orthodox Trotskyist position of the USSR?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GourmetPez View Post
    I don't think the lesser of two evils approach really works and incidents like the mass rape in Germany prove this.
    Do you take an orthodox Trotskyist position of the USSR?
    The rape in Germany, as disgusting as it was, was not a programme of the USSR, rather a vindication of the Soviet soldiers themselves. Hitler on the other hand did have intentions to kill and enslave all Slavic peoples. I think that fighting fascism or resisting colonialism is worth doing even from the perspective that you will fight against your national bourgeois leaders when you are done. But in the case of the Nazis I think that there is a special case because of their extreme expansionism, and commitment to the extermination of entire races. I really think that the thought of you and your neighbors being forced into a slave camp and subsequently murdered (by neighbors I mean everyone that you know that looks like you) is enough to make you appreciate the sensitivity of the situation.
    “How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?” Charles Bukowski, Factotum
    "In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as 'right-to-work.' It provides no 'rights' and no 'works.' Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining... We demand this fraud be stopped." MLK
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    Quote Originally Posted by GourmetPez View Post
    Gramsci Guy, I have to disagree with you. Were not the millions of Germans who were raped and killed in WWII just as worth defending? A communist does not take sides in intercapital war. A proletarian internationalist is opposed to imperialist war without exceptions.
    Okay, what should the Yugoslav and Greek partisans have done under fascist occupation? Hand out pamphlets to Axis soldiers and local collaborators?
    "Machinery in itself is a victory of man over the forces of nature, but in the hands of capital it makes man the slave of those forces" - Uncle Karl

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    Quote Originally Posted by GourmetPez View Post
    I don't think the lesser of two evils approach really works and incidents like the mass rape in Germany prove this.
    Do you take an orthodox Trotskyist position of the USSR?
    Four thousand Red Army officers were brought to trial after the war for alleged crimes against civilians. Also, shooting soldiers in front of their units for rape without a formal trial was standard. Read:

    "Next topic – about our [Red Army] behavior in Germany. Although a strict prohibitive order was in effect, I should say that there were some facts of both the pillage and rape. I remember how one marauder was shot in front of the unit’s formation. Initially I consider this punishment as too severe. However, after I came to know that he not just robbed these civilians but also beat them unmercifully, I changed my mind. There were also cases of raping German women. I remember a widely known fact of a group rape when 33 soldiers raped a German woman." - Red Army veteran Safonov Ivanovich
    On the other hand the fascists actually did murder six million Jews and the invasion of the USSR killed 25 million people, so drawing some kind of moral equivalence between the USSR and the fascists is quite silly to say the least.
    "Machinery in itself is a victory of man over the forces of nature, but in the hands of capital it makes man the slave of those forces" - Uncle Karl

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramsci Guy View Post
    With respect to the Great Patriotic War, I cannot agree with equating the Germans and the peoples of the Soviet Union, since the Germans were the aggressors. German deaths were a tragedy and Soviet Army's raping of German women was a despicable crime, but the Soviet peoples had the right to defend themselves against the existential threat posed by Nazism.

    I have tried to conceptualize World War Two as an "intercapital war", but ultimately I just don't see it that way. Such an analysis glosses over the fact that Nazism was more than just another form of capitalism. Hitler planned to force-march the Ukrainian and Russian people across the Urals, a barbaric plan that would have resulted in the deaths of tens of millions, a Slavic Holocaust would have been the result. Under these circumstances, the peoples of the Soviet Union acted in fulfillment of that most fundamental human right, the right not to be exterminated.
    I can understand where people who see it as an intercapitalist war are coming from, and I agree with the view that is indeed what it was, but I think the view that neither side should have been supported is flawed for a few reasons.

    Firstly, there was no potential for the war to develop into a revolutionary situation. There were no revolutionary proletarian parties of significant strength to really pose the question of state power. Therefore, while saying both sides should be opposed seems appropriate in the abstract, in practice it is actually meaningless. This isn't about the lesser of two evils at all.

    In Syria at the present, for example, whichever side wins, the working class will lose in about equal proportion. In this situation, the third camp line can be justified. This is not the case with World War 2. The victory of the Germans would not have been merely "the victory of one faction of capital over the other"(technically, it would have been, but in terms of what it would mean in concrete terms this does not tell the whole story).

    Fascism contents itself with nothing less than the total destruction of all proletarian organizations, even the reformist ones. It completely destroys the well being of the class, and precludes the workers from being effectively able to organize as a class. Only a dreamer could believe that proletarian revolution would have serious prospects in such a situation to the same degree that it would in an ordinary bourgeois republican or Soviet Europe.

    This is to say nothing of the intense material destruction of the actual workers on a physical level. The horrors unleashed by a Nazi victory would be unimaginable. It's difficult for me to imagine how refusing to take concrete actions to prevent the physical destruction of the working class on such a scale amounts to anything other than a betrayal of class interests. Of course, the anti-defencist partisans will claim that they are working for a "higher cause"(immediate proletarian revolution) which in reality has no realistic possibility of happening in that situation. It's a cop out and hollow posturing of the most cynical and opportunist sort.

    The Civil War line is only justified in a revolutionary situation(IE when an actual revolution is a distinct and realistic possibility), otherwise a "peace without indemnities or annexations" is the correct line. In extraordinary situations, an actual defencist line, which takes all due course to preserve class independence, is justified. This is not to be applied on a mechanical basis, but with a serious materialist and dynamic examination of the situation.

    I do not believe that the Soviet Union was a proletarian dictatorship of any kind, nor that it was neither qualitatively superior nor qualitatively worse to ordinary capitalism, but Soviet defencism seems to be the best choice in the context of World War 2. I can't speak for Gramsci Guy, but I get the impression that his take on the situation is the same or similar.

    This could only seen as a "lesser of two evils" approach when seen in the extreme abstract in which the working class is merely a pawn on chess board entirely divorced from real world conditions and material happenings.

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    I am happy to endorse Ghost Bebel's well-reasoned post. I do not ascribe to the orthodox Trotskyist theory of the degenerated workers' state, but neither do I ascribe to the Schachtmanite alternative. I am not sure what the class nature of the USSR was, but IMO it was definitely not a workers' state of any kind but OTOH it doesn't seem to have been a capitalist state either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whichfinder View Post
    No, but there will be an audio recording.
    haha role reversal - audio > video.

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