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New International, October 1947


Notes of the Month

The Marshall Plan vs. the Stalin Plan


From The New International, Vol. XIII No. 8, October 1947, pp. 227–231.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


San Francisco to New York

The formation of the United Nations at San Francisco was an illusory achievement. Disintegrating tendencies followed quickly and it is now much the same as the League of Nations, a public forum employed by all the imperialist powers to project their respective plans, test out their friends and foes, and lay the basis for winning permanent allies and creating coalitions in preparation for future struggles.

The decline of the UN was already prepared at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. Its organizational structure guarantees control by the Big Five (read: Big Three). There is a General Assembly of all the member nations, but this is little more than a debating society. Power presumably rests in the eleven-nation Security Council, but its actions are subject to veto by any one of the Big Five. The veto system has thus far operated to make the UN a totally ineffective body, as should have been expected.

But even more important than this, the UN was formed after the big powers had already adopted “fundamental” decisions at their successive meetings. The division of Europe had been tentatively agreed to. The UN was merely asked to endorse the actions of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill, the champions of the Atlantic Charter. Russia was given a number of “concessions” in territory and reparations without regard for the wishes of the people involved.” The Big Three then worked out its program for the forced migration of peoples, much in the style of Hitler, and they devised an unworkable plan, even from their own imperialist point of view, for Germany, and hoped to create good relations among themselves by handing Stalin and his police forces a good part of Eastern Europe. In exchange for Rumania, for example, Stalin agreed to Britain’s “rights” in Greece. Stalin was not only to repay himself for the .bad bargain he made with Hitler in his 1939 pact to divide the world, but to prevent the rise of the socialist revolution on the Continent. The Russian dictator did himself proud in both ventures.

But it did not take long for Churchill and Truman, Roosevelt’s pathetic successor, to realize their disadvantages in Eastern Europe at least, in face of Stalinist Realpolitik. Unhampered by bourgeois convention and tradition, Russia’s ruler proceeded quite independently of his allies (with hundreds of thousands of troops and a well-trained and experienced police force) to reorganize that part of Europe which he took under control and to move beyond the agreed-upon “concessions,” much to the consternation of his Western allies.

Why has Stalin adopted this course, while protesting his desire for friendship with his former allies? The reasons are several. Stalin knows the causes of the Second World. War lay in the very nature of modern capitalist production, in the decline of the world market, and the intensification of the internal problems of each imperialist nation. He understands, empirically at least, that given this decline of world capitalism, no group of powers can share equally the world among them; that one or another must dominate. When Hitler described the German problem in the statement, “We export or we die,” he described the problem of the other powers as well, and especially the present problem of the United States. In this world situation, the United States must drive all the more relentlessly toward world domination. This domination, in its most essential respects, cannot be shared with any other power – the lesser powers can have only the remains, the fragments of the total economy, and their place in the world economy will be determined by their specific relations to the United States.

The Path of Stalinist Expansion

With the destruction of Germany and Japan and the sharp decline of Great Britain, no obstacle stands in the way of the United States goal of world economic domination except Russia, which already has a stronghold in Europe. European domination by the US would weaken Russia economically and politically, since the Russian economy becomes more and more difficult to operate behind the borders of the country. The destruction of the war has had a serious effect upon the progress of industrialization; the slave system in a modern industrial economy proves more and more expensive and inefficient.

Thus the seizure of Eastern Europe and the Balkans has an economic as well as political purpose. Economically, Stalin has used the occupation of these lands to recoup his war losses and to acquire new capital. Wherever the Russian armies went, they were accompanied by industrial engineers, technicians and laborers. In Germany, Hungary, Austria, Rumania, Poland and even Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, the Russians took whole factories, machinery, rolling stock, raw materials, agricultural commodities, seed, livestock and personal articles looted by their victorious soldiers. Almost the entire industrial plant of Manchuria was stripped and taken to Russia. In addition, tens of thousands of people were deported to Russia as slave laborers. No one has been able to estimate fully the amount of reparations and loot taken in this way, for Stalin has persistently refused to divulge what the Russian acquisitions have been in the confusing months following the war. It is true that the Western imperialists also participated in this general looting of Europe, but they were inhibited by the knowledge that they could not disrupt the bourgeois economies of the defeated countries, having in mind post-war reconstruction – a problem everyone agreed would have to be solved by the United States primarily.

The creation of puppet states and their occupation by Russian troops created an immense defensive territorial ring around Russia. These puppet states were from the very beginning, long before the Marshall Plan was conceived, drawn into the Russian economic and political orbit. The Russians did not wait for the Marshall Plan to carry out their economic and political program. The Stalin plan was laid down long ago and has been carried out step by step.

Moreover, the occupation of this vast territory has prevented the rise of the socialist revolution in Eastern Europe – the Europe closest to the borders of Russia itself. Stalin’s fear of the Russian masses is only exceeded by his fear of the European socialist revolution. And with his occupation of so vast a part of Europe, he made those people silly, some who even call themselves Trotskyism, who believed that Stalin’s armies were bringing the socialist revolution to Europe, even describing that imperialist and mercenary force as “Trotsky’s Red Army.”

Birth of the Truman Doctrine

Finally, Russian expansion was conceived and carried out to prevent the reorganization and reconstruction of the continent by the United States. Stalin was fully conscious of the fact that given the failure of the socialist revolution which he helped to halt in its tracks, a stabilization of Europe by American capitalism would weaken his totalitarian police regime, resting as it still does on a backward economy. The longer Stalin can maintain instability on the continent and yet prevent the coming of socialism as the alternative to capitalist and Stalinist imperialism, the more certain is he that his regime of terror will survive.

Thus while Molotov and Gromyko, now joined by Vishinsky and Manuilsky, fought the Russian battle of vetoes in the UN, Stalin sought to complete his program in Europe. But when Russia moved into Greece and threatened Trieste, Anglo-American imperialism became truly alarmed. The “Truman Doctrine” was born. American imperialism decided to take the lead in “containing” Russian expansion. Having assented to much of Stalin’s grab, the US and Great Britain now asserted: this has gone far enough.

The way to resolve this situation, declared Truman, is for the United States to intervene more directly in European affairs. Nothing short of an economic revival could stop Stalin. Yes, and nothing short of an economic revival can insure stability of the American economy which itself rests upon the revival and control of the world economy, and in the first place, the European. The State Department worked out the Marshall Plan, which its Secretary offered at first to the Big Four. While some of the Stalinist satellite states, thinking of American loans and capital goods, responded favorably, they were quickly drawn back by Molotov’s “No!” With the Russian refusal, all the satellite nations, some belligerently, others with a deep sense of loss, announced that they would have nothing to do with an imperialist plan which threatened their sovereignty and would place them under control of the coveted American dollar. And thus it was that the little victims of one imperialist camp thought themselves saved from another.

But the Marshall Plan was accompanied by an important corollary demand. Fully aware that the plan would be embraced by only the Western European nations and the customary “neutrals,” Marshall sought to make up for the loss by directing an offensive in the UN against the veto scheme and Russian policy, asserting that the end of the veto would “strengthen the machinery for peaceful settlement.” Vishinsky quickly replied that the Marshall Plan and the proposal to end the veto were “incompatible with the principle of sovereign equality (Poland! Latvia! Hungary! Austria!).”

Aims of the Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan wants nothing less than to revive at least the West European economy, being quite willing to accept half of Europe for economic exploitation by the US if it cannot have all. To make Europe, or even part of it, serviceable to American imperialism, the bourgeoisie in this country will have to pay considerably. This is not merely an economic necessity, but given the present world situation politically indispensable if Russia is to be contained. It is the only way the Western imperialists can halt the Stalinist drive in Europe which will now be concentrated on France and Italy.

The Marshall Plan embraces sixteen nations. These countries contain a large part of the European population, over 150 million people. Despite the ravages of war, production in many of these countries has risen perceptibly. According to the survey of the UN, industrial activity in terms of 1937 has reached 93 per cent in France, nearly 100 per cent in Belgium, 100 per cent in Denmark and 123 per cent in Norway. Industrial activity in Great Britain has exceeded the pre-war years. But this increase in production does not go into consumer goods but into reviving the industrial apparatuses in these countries. And most important of all, industrial Germany, the key to the situation, is still in a terrible plight: production stands at 46 per cent of 1936 in the American zone and 33 per cent in the British.

The lack of production of consumer goods vital to the people prevents the necessary exchange between industrial goods and agricultural, i.e., between the cities and the farms. In addition, production of goods going into a revival of industry means that there are less goods for export to pay the United States for its loans.

The Marshall Plan countries are asking the United States for $22 billions during the four years between 1948 and 1951. They are asking for 20 per cent increase in imports in 1948 over US shipments to them during the first half of 1947 which saw the biggest peacetime exports in American history. The report of the Marshall Plan nations calls for 320,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer necessary for agriculture in 1948, which is more than 20 per cent higher than was shipped to the entire world in 1947. They ask for $150 million of electrical equipment, which is double the amount shipped to these countries in this period. The same is true for the demand for $510 million of petroleum products. While the steel monopolies here claim a shortage of scrap, the Marshall Plan nations are asking for a million to a million and a half tons from the US These are merely a few indications of the problem involved.

How is Europe to pay for the $22 billion of goods asked for in their report? Presumably from the exports to the US and Latin America.

The Trade Balance Deficit

But already the balance of trade with Europe is heavily in American favor and the European nations go deeper and deeper into debt to American capitalism. The Marshall Plan nations propose to export to the United States in the period in which it expects to receive goods valued at $22 billion, a total value of $4.7 billion. As can be readily seen, that leaves an enormous deficit. The World Bank, it is to be assumed, will finance $3.1 billion of the huge deficit, although the bank’s reserves are largely theoretical, to be supplied by its nation-members, including those which are Marshall Plan nations.

Europe also expects to import goods from other Western Hemisphere countries estimated at $13.6 billion and to export to these countries goods valued at $7.6 billion, leaving an additional deficit of $6 billion. The gap between exports and imports, while initially favorable to the United States, cannot go on endlessly without reaching the point where it becomes utterly hopeless to get payment from Europe, the while it throws the economy of the Marshall Plan nations into a new crisis.

Unquestionably, American capitalism is quite willing to underwrite billions in goods to maintain stability in the nations encompassed by the plan. But there is a limit to such underwriting. The US requires considerable assistance from the European nations themselves, or what it describes as the spirit of “self help,” being quite willing to “prime the pump” in order to place the Marshall Plan adherents in a position where they can help themselves. For US economy, dependent as it is upon a rise in the world economy, upon stability in international relations, faces anything but that in the coming years. Instability threatens on all sides and one of the most important factors contributing to this instability is the present division of Europe and the conflict between bureaucratic collectivist Russia and capitalist United States.

The American problem would have been much easier had Stalin not erected the “iron curtain.” The present division of Europe which has closed off the industrial nations of the West from the agricultural nations of the East, together with a debilitated or inoperative German industry, makes the problem of reconstruction a hundred times more difficult.

The Western European nations now rely chiefly on food and other agricultural commodities from the Western Hemisphere. The Eastern European nations, in turn, rely on Russia and their own industrial resources for a balanced economy. Given the actual conditions behind Stalin’s new borders, this means a low economic level of existence for that half of the continent, with efforts to break down the isolation from the West that would be imposed by the Marshall Plan. The Stalinists hope to neutralize American economic power with correlated nationalized economies of the puppet states. Thus, in part at least, we observe a conflict between two exploitive systems, bureaucratic collectivism and bourgeois private property.

Obviously, a United States of Europe, fusing the economies and resources on a continental level, would be the first step toward a solution of the European problem which is now several decades in the making. But how can economic and political unity of the continent be accomplished? By bourgeois imperialism? By Stalinist imperialism? Neither! They can only maintain the present geographic and political divisions and prolong the economic impasse of all Europe.

The Marshall Plan would face innumerable difficulties if it embraced the whole continent, but given the present imbalance in the division of (he industrial West and agricultural East, it can readily be seen that the problems are almost insurmountable if viewed only economically. That is why the Marshall Plan is as much a political scheme as an economic one. Containment of Russia and bolstering of the bourgeois regimes is the key to whatever success the Marshall Plan can have. Thus, Felix Belair, in the New York Times, wrote:

“The Marshall Plan is the implementation of the Truman Doctrine of containment of world communism at its present limits; remove the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine fails ...”

The coming period in European and world politics will be greatly sharpened as the two chief antagonistic powers prepare their respective strategies in the fight for Europe. Stalin’s political answer to the Marshall Plan was given by the meeting of his present chiefs of nine Communist Parties “somewhere” in Poland.

“Bush League Comintern”

While the bourgeois press is alarmed at what it describes as the “resurrection” of the old Communist International, the Stalinists merely say that the meeting was for the purpose of coordinating the various activities of several parties by establishing a new Communist “Information Bureau” from which has come one of the more hideous contractions, the Cominform.

The purpose of the meeting was clear to everyone. If the US expects, through the Marshall Plan, to overcome the Stalinist tide, Russia can seriously challenge that strategy not only by the control it exercises in the puppet states, but by organizing its political battalions “in those countries which it does not control, but which are the key to the Marshall Plan. That explains, for example, why the only representatives present at the Polish meeting who were from the other side of the “iron curtain” were the head men of the French and Italian parties. These are the first shock troops of Stalin’s international battalions. The fact that the new information center has been established in Belgrade only emphasizes how integral a part of the Kremlin is Tito’s regime. But it makes no difference where the ostensible headquarters of the new organization is established, the real directing center is the Kremlin. The presence of Zhdanov and Malenkov confirms that fact; they are Stalin’s deputies in the ruling party of Russia.

A great deal of discussion has followed in the bourgeois press in recent weeks on what is termed Stalin’s duplicity. On the one hand, they refer to the Cominform as a rebirth of the old Communist International; on the other hand, they declare that the Communist International was never really dissolved, but was put away in storage for just such an occasion. The New York Times has it both ways, but one of its more acute editorial writers observes that the new body is not really the old Communist International because its public appeals are not directed to the world proletariat and they do not speak the language of socialism!

What Is This Body?

The bourgeois mind finds it difficult to penetrate the nature of Stalinism because it thinks of this new phenomenon in the terms of the old Comintern of Lenin and Trotsky. It does not see that Stalin long ago destroyed that body of international socialism and created a new world organization to conform to the needs of a new and strange social order, neither capitalist nor socialist, that emerged from the once-glorious Russian Revolution. They are not alone in this misconception. The New Leader, organ of the American Social Democrats, also lives in an age gone by. Its editorial on the formation of the Cominform reads like it had been written in 1919 by the counter-revolutionary Social Democrats when they saw in the Communist International the embodiment of the international socialist revolution. Nothing has changed for these gentlemen; these gentlemen have not changed either. They warn of a new Pearl Harbor (!), these laudable patriots. And to confirm their alarm about this new Stalinist concoction, they quote ancient speeches of Stalin which he himself has long ago forgotten and has so demonstrated that a thousand times in the repeated blows he has delivered against the world working class.

The Militant, living in a world of its own, and reflecting the views of the Socialist Workers Party, which never fails to assert that it is an orthodox Trotskyist party, correctly denies that this means a rebirth of the revolutionary socialist international of old, but suffering from the disease of stultification brought on by the germ of the degenerated workers’ state theory of Russia, writes unwittingly:

“All Stalin wants is a deal with Wall Street. He seeks to continue the wartime partnership. In return for a non-aggression pact and dollar credits he offers the services of his agents to derail and wreck working class revolutions throughout the world.” (Joseph Hansen, The Militant, October 13, 1947.)

So pat, and yet so trite! It is pulled out of a drawer containing outlived formulas. Does Stalin want a war now? Obviously not. Does he then want a deal with Wall Street? Well, in a way. He had a deal with Wall Street. It lasted from 1941 to 1945 – as long as the war lasted. That alliance could have . survived the war, but not on his terms.

Stalinism is an independent class force in modern society. It will seek blocs and deals only insofar as it suits the needs of this expanding new power. That the Cominform is therefore a blackmailing instrument is true, but it is only half true. It top has an independent role to play not merely as a blackmail instrument, but to advance positively the interests of Stalin and his state. Hansen writes as though poor Stalin is just running around begging Wall Street to make a deal with him, quaking in his boots while he waits in some House of Morgan ante room for fear that the overpowering financiers will make no deal with him and thus destroy him by the slamming of a door! What puerile reasoning. If Stalin bargains with US imperialism, he does so as an equal or near-equal, not for the purpose of carrying out Wall Street’s aims in Europe but his own.

“In return for a non-aggression pact and dollar credits he offers the services of his agents to derail and wreck working class revolutions throughout the world.” You see, that is all Stalin wants – a few dollars! For that he will wreck working class revolutions. And suppose he doesn’t get the few dollars? Are we then to assume that he will make working class revolutions? What Hansen doesn’t understand is that Stalin will wreck any working class revolution whether he has a deal with Wall Street or not; that the working class revolution is an independent danger to Stalinism, as Hansen should know by this time. But, really, what can one expect from people who hailed the victories of the Stalinist armies as a victory for socialism, and described those armies as “Trotsky’s Red Army”? In their minds, Stalin is merely an agent of Wall Street, at present unemployed, but fighting desperately to be hired. And this is called, pity the word, “orthodox” Trotskyism.

This is the Stalintern

It becomes clearer every day that in order to understand the nature of Stalinism one is required to break completely with old theories on the nature of the Russian state and the many foibles that it gave rise to. Stalin destroyed the old Communist International once and for all at the Sixth Congress in 1928. Ideologically and politically it was already dead at the Fifth Congress in 1924. It took the modern Cain several years to overcome the strong traditions of the greatest international proletarian association the world has ever known. Stalin accomplished his deed not only by theoretical revisions, but by the brutal method of physically exterminating the great minds of the old International.

For example, the representatives of the Russian Communist Party to the first four congresses of the Comintern were Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Bucharin and Radek. Lenin died of illness; Trotsky, Zinoviev and Bucharin were murdered by Stalin, and Radek has been variously reported dead and in jail.

The leaders of the various parties of other countries, where are they? Driven out of the International, or killed in Russia by the GPU in the murderous years of the purges. One leadership after another destroyed, the German, the Polish, the Balkan, and so on.

What of the early Bucharinist-led International, that group dealt with in Trotsky’s famous pamphlet: Who is Leading the Comintern? Bela Kun, killed by Stalin. Pepper, killed by Stalin. Varga, a pensioner, humbled daily in Moscow and ordered, to write economic reviews to conform with Stalin’s latest pronouncements. Manuilsky, Stalin’s agent in the Ukraine and the UN. Valetsky, killed by Stalin. Varski, killed by Stalin. Clara Zetkin, died of old age, a softly protesting Bucharinist. Smeral, reported dead. Kolarov, a Stalinist agent in Bulgaria. Kuusinen, a Stalinist agent in Finland. Petrovsky, Rafes, Guaralsky, killed by Stalin. Martinov died. Lenzner, killed by Stalin. Losovsky, pensioned off in the foreign office. Roskolnikoff, fled in exile. Roy, building a party of his own in India. Bucharin, murdered by Stalin. Katayama, died of old age.

They were the leaders of the Comintern in the post-Leninist days, but they still retained much of the old traditions of the revolutionary international.

The New Leaders

And who are the gentlemen who head the Cominform? Stalinist GPU agents. Zhdanov, the purger of Leningrad. Malenkov, Stalin’s personal agent in charge of the Stalinist party in Russia. Marshal Tito, GPU career man and Stalin’s picked leader of Yugoslavia, who looks more and more like Mussolini every day. The rest, Thorez, Duclos, Rakosi, Longo and Togliatti, the Polish and Bulgarian representatives? They are the long-trained Stalinists, some of them old revolutionaries who have lost their ideals and their honor, the others murderous hacks trained by a murderous regime.

But if this is not enough to draw the line of difference between the Communist International of old and the Stalinist International of today, recall the glorious days of the formation of the old CI. Born in the very midst of the rising socialist revolution in Europe, the manifestoes and resolutions of the old Comintern were the breath and the soul of socialist internationalism. What is this body, but the breath and the soul of a reactionary regime, a new imperialist state, a new exploitive system. Observe its expansionist march westward – is this the state that wants to make a deal with Wall Street to get some dollars and ward off aggression, for which it will repay by wrecking working class revolutions?

That Stalin will try to wreck the bourgeois states and the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine, goes without saying. But it also goes without saying that he will endeavor to do so with methods of his own, and they have nothing in common with socialism or internationalism. On the contrary, Stalinism makes use of the miseries of the people, the exploitation of the working class, the ravages of war and hunger to advance the power of his own ruling class. Yes, he did dissolve the Communist International long ago. He even formally dissolved the Stalinist International of Browder, Duclos, Thälmann and Dimitrov when it served his war purposes. In fact, however, he never dissolved his real international organizations, his world shock troops.

The Cominform is the formal resurrection of the Stalintern to carry out new tasks in new times. Let no one be deceived into believing that Stalin is trying to defend the interests of capitalism or any other nation, least of all the United States. That would be the worst kind of self-deception.

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