Britain: Resolutions from the Founding Conference of the
Revolutionary Communist Party, March 1944

Resolution on Military Policy

submitted by the Workers International League
and the Trotskyist Opposition of the
Revolutionary Socialist League

On National Defence

submitted by the Militant Group of the
Revolutionary Socialist League

Resolution on Military Policy

submitted by WIL and TO
The text of this resolution is taken from three undated, mimeographed pages entitled “Conference Discussion Material.”
The resolution was adopted by the March 1944 founding conference of the British Revolutionary Communist Party.

Continued from left column

9. In the present period all great social changes will be made by military means. Our party takes the capitalist militarisation of the millions, not merely as the basis for the restatement of our fundamental principles and aims, but for the purpose of prop­agating positive political ideas and policies in the ranks of the working class as an alternative to the class programme of the bourgeoisie. This ne­ces­si­tates the supplementing of our transitional pro­gramme with a policy adapted to the needs of the working class in a period of militarisation and war. Our attitude towards war is not based merely on the rejection of the defence of the capitalist fatherland but on the conquest of power by the working class and the defence of the proletarian fatherland. From this conception flows the pro­le­tar­ian military policy of the Fourth In­ter­na­tion­al.

10. In the last war socialist pacifism and con­sci­en­tious objection were progressive and even rev­olu­tion­ary in opposition to the policy of national unity and support for capitalist militarism which was advocated by the chauvinists. But thirty years of class struggle have clearly and decisively de­mon­stra­ted that such policies act as a brake on the socialist revolution and serve only to separate the conscious revolutionaries from the mass of the working class caught up in the military machine. To this negative policy must be counterposed a positive policy which separates the workers from their exploiters in the military organisations.

11. The working class and the revolutionary so­cial­ists are compelled to participate in the military organisations controlled by the capitalist state. But to the capitalist militarism for capitalist ends, the revolutionary socialists must counterpose the ne­ces­si­ty of proletarian militarism for proletarian ends. Our military policy defends the rights and interests of the working class against its class en­emy; at every point we place our class pro­gramme against the class pro­gramme of the bour­geoi­sie.

12. The Labour Party, the Communist Party, the I.L.P. and the sectarians have also policies for the workers in arms. But these policies are reformist, based upon the perspective of the continued control of the state in the hands of the bourgeoisie. These policies contain only a series of minor democratic and financial reforms which do not lead to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the conquest of power by the working class.

13. Our party is for the arming of the working class under the control of workers’ organisations, the trade unions, workers’ committees and political parties.

We are against the special schools controlled by the capitalists for the training of their sons and agents for the highest posts of command and technicians of the military arts.

We are for state-financed schools, controlled by the trade unions and workers’ organisations for the purpose of training worker-officers, who will know how to defend the interests of the working class.

We are against the selection of the officers in the armed forces, including the Home Guard, by the bourgeoisie and its state machine. This selection takes place on the basis of class loyalty to the capitalists and hatred of the working class. We are for the election of officers in the armed forces by the men in the ranks.

These are the positive steps which our party advocates in its proletarian military policy, and which supplements our general transitional pro­gramme in the struggle for power. Such a policy, not only caters for the needs of the workers in uniform in their day to day struggle against the reactionary officer caste, but by its thoroughly anti-pacifist character, prepares the working class for the inevitable military attacks which will be launched against it by the exploiters at home, and for the defense of the proletarian fatherland against reactionary war of intervention.

1.  The Second World War into which capitalism has plung­ed mankind in the course of a generation, and which has been raging for more than four years, is the inevitable outcome of the crisis of capitalist methods of production, long predicted by the rev­olu­tion­ary Marxists, and is a sign of the impasse out of which capitalism cannot lead the mass of humanity.

2.  The war of the British ruling class is not an ide­olog­ical war fought in the interests of democracy against fascism. This has been demonstrated clearly by their support of Hitler against the German working class; their acquiescence to the seizure of Austria and Czechoslovakia; by their cynical policy of non-intervention in Spain which enabled Franco to massacre hundreds of thousands of Spanish anti-fascist proletarians; and by their support of Darlan in North Africa and Badoglio and Victor Emmanuel in Italy. The British ruling class is waging the war to maintain its colonial plunder, its sources of raw material and cheap labour, its spheres of influence and markets, and to extend wherever possible, its domination over wider territories. It is the duty of revolutionary socialists to patiently explain the imperialistic policy of the ruling class and expose its false and lying slogans of the “War against Fascism” and the “War for Democracy.”

3. The victory of German fascism and Japanese mil­itar­ism would be a disaster for the working class of the world and for the colonial peoples. But no less dis­as­trous would be a victory for Anglo-American im­pe­ri­al­ism. Such a victory would perpetuate and intensify the imperialist contradictions which gave rise to fascism and the present world war and will inevitably lead to new fascist and reactionary regimes and a Third World War.

4. The British working class, therefore, cannot sup­port the war conducted by the ruling class without at the same time opposing its own class interests on a national and international scale. Our party is opposed to the war and calls upon the working class to oppose it. Only by overthrowing the capitalist state and taking power into its own hands under the leadership of the Fourth International, can the British working class wage a truly revolutionary war and aid the German and European working class to destroy fascism and capitalist reaction.

5.  By their sup­port of the war the Trade Unions, the Labour Party and the Communist Party, with their satellite organisations, have betrayed the historic interests of the working class and the interests of the colonial masses oppressed by British imperialism. It is the duty of revolutionary socialists to mercilessly expose the leadership of these organisations as agents of the ruling class in the ranks of the workers and to win over the broad mass of the workers from the leadership of these organisations to the party of the Fourth International.

6. The outbreak of the war created a new objective sit­ua­tion in which the revolutionaries had to con­duct their political activity. Millions of workers—men and women—the most youthful and virile section of the population, are conscripted into the armed forces. The war not only changed the way in which millions of workers are forced to live, but also their level of political consciousness. War and militarism has penetrated every phase of, and become the basis of, their lives.

7.  It would be a mistake on the part of the rev­olu­tion­ary socialists to lump the defencist feeling of the broad mass of the workers together with the chauvinism of the Labour and Stalinist leadership. This defencism of the masses stems largely from entirely progressive motives of preserving their own class organisations and democratic rights from destruction at the hands of fascism and from a foreign invader. The mass chauvinistic enthusiasm of the last war is entirely absent in the present period. Only a deep-seated suspicion of the aims and slogans of the ruling class is evident. To separate the workers from the capitalists and their lackeys, is the principal task of the revolutionary party.

8.  The policy of our party must be based upon the objective conditions in which we live, including the level of consciousness of the masses, and must help the masses in the process of their daily struggles along the road to the seizure of power.

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