Workers Vanguard No. 977

1 April 2011


On Defense of Dependent Countries Against Imperialism

(Quote of the Week)

As the U.S., France and Britain lead the murderous bombing campaign against semicolonial Libya in the name of “protecting civilians,” social-democratic groups beat the drums for the Libyan “opposition,” the imperialists’ front men on the ground. Writing on the need for proletarian revolution to rid the world of imperialist war, Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky insisted that the working class must militarily defend oppressed nations under imperialist attack and excoriated the League of Nations, predecessor to the United Nations under whose imprimatur the war against Libya was begun.

Capitalist brigands always conduct a “defensive” war, even when Japan is marching against Shanghai and France against Syria or Morocco. The revolutionary proletariat distinguishes only between wars of oppression and wars of liberation. The character of a war is defined, not by diplomatic falsifications, but by the class which conducts the war and the objective aims it pursues in that war. The wars of the imperialist states, apart from the pretexts and political rhetoric, are of an oppressive character, reactionary and inimical to the people. Only the wars of the proletariat and of the oppressed nations can be characterized as wars of liberation....

The League of Nations is the citadel of imperialist pacifism. It represents a transitory historical combination of capitalist states in which the stronger command and buy out the weaker, then crawl on their bellies before America or try to resist; in which all equally are enemies of the Soviet Union, but are prepared to cover up each and every crime of the most powerful and rapacious among them. Only the politically blind, only those who are altogether helpless or who deliberately corrupt the conscience of the people, can consider the League of Nations, directly or indirectly, today or tomorrow, an instrument of peace....

Whoever directly or indirectly supports the system of colonization and protectorates, the domination of British capital in India, the domination of Japan in Korea or in Manchuria, of France in Indochina or in Africa, whoever does not fight against colonial enslavement, whoever does not support the uprisings of the oppressed nations and their independence, whoever defends or idealizes Gandhism, that is, the policy of passive resistance on questions which can be solved only by force of arms, is, despite good intentions or bad, a lackey, an apologist, an agent of the imperialists, of the slaveholders, of the militarists, and helps them to prepare new wars in pursuit of their old aims or new.

—Leon Trotsky, “Declaration to the Antiwar Congress at Amsterdam” (July 1932)