request for information

Paddy Apling e.c.apling at
Sun Apr 7 04:41:29 MDT 2002

Lou's summary assessment of the "war-types", 1939-45, is, of course,
theoretically absolutely correct, BUT his condemnation of those who fought
in Western armies is unjustified and can be taken as an illustration of how
"revolutionary correctness" can be at variance with the requirements of
"revolutionary politics" - and leading to revolutionaries cutting the ground
from beneath their feet in not taking into account that we have to lead from
"where people are" and not from where they "ought to be".....

Lou's assessment certainly applies to the "phoney war" period 1939-40 - for
much of the first winter of war the British government was more concerned
with attempting to  "come to the assistance of Finland" - actually preparing
an expeditionary force for this adventure - than with anything remotely
connected with the fight against fascism.  But already after Dunkirk - with
the Nazi occupation of Norway, Demark, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg and most
of France - the war was already not "simply" a re-run of 1914-18, but had,
for those countries - and for Britain - the aspect of a war for national

I also agree with Lou when he says "The allies had been just as cruel to
their colonial subjects as the Axis were to Eastern Europeans under
their rule. If you were Irish, Egyptian or Indian, the Union Jack was
just as hated a symbol as the swastika was to the Pole or the
Yugoslav." - but, in Britain, this attitude was becoming more and more under
scrutiny as the war proceeded, with the "Movement for Colonial Freedom"
organising larger meetings than even before - and the publication of such
books as "British Soldier in India" by Clive Branson.

It is fundamentally necessary to recognise the dual aspect of WWII - an
imperialist war so far as the governments of the Western Powers were
concerned - but a people's war, not just for the Soviet Union, but also for
the occupied countries of Europe and the developing anti-"pre-war
capitalism" feeling in Britain, which led so soon after the end of the war
to independence for India (tho' spoilt by partition and its associated
massacres) and the gradual ending of the old colonialism (albeit replaced by
the new financial imperialism under the hegemony of the USA).

José's contribution also sums up very accurately the war aims of the British
and American governments; and how these determined how they chose their
battlefields; and how they prepared for the ensuing Cold War [I well
remember, when I was at Sandhurst -  I was commissioned around VE day - how
some of the staff were already talking openly about "the next war against
Russia"] - and yet at the immediate election the British poeple trounced the
Tories and felt they were entering a new period - far different from the
"khaki-election" of 1919, which had just been an endorsement of imperialist

These differences between WWI and WWII - even for the West - cannot - and
should not - be ignored.....

[and an aside for Lou - apologies for not cutting the quoted text in my last


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