[Marxism] Query on British historiography

Paddy Apling e.c.apling at btinternet.com
Sat Sep 19 11:53:34 MDT 2009

Lou is showing rather a isolationist view of WWII here, without any 
conception of the European view of WWII - which although it started in 1939 
as a simple war between Germany and Britain and France brought about as what 
one might well say was a richly deserved result of the appeasement, even 
encouragement, of fascism from 1933 through the Nazi occupation of Austria 
and Czechoslovakia, etc.  by the British and French ruling classes (large 
sections of which were strong supporters of Franco, and a not inconsiderable 
numbers supporters of Hitler)- well demonstrated with the readiness with 
which the French ruling class formed a puppet government under the Nazis, 
the war became - well before the entry of USA into WWII as a result of the 
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour - became, certainly from 1941, if not 
before, a war of liberation, and inherently an anti-fascist struggle.

No wonder it was supported by the whole of the working classes of Europe.

Churchill, of course, was well-known as an anti-semite, and a vicious 
opponent of the working class and its organisations, and virulently 
anti-communist and anti-soviet.   BUT he became Prime Minister in what 
amounted to a coup in 1940 by the section of the ruling class which were not 
supporters of fascism and IMMEDIATELY after the Nazi attack on the Soviet 
Union his patriotism overcame his anti-communist virulence to the extent 
that the the following day announced his country and the Soviet Union as 

>From then on there could be no doubt that WWII was a just war, a war of 
liberation against fascism - and anyone who now seeks to dispute that is 
effectively a "holocaust denier".

Bringing the Bengal famine into the argument is a red herring.  British 
communists - and indeed the working class movement in Britain generally, 
were active throughout the war - and before -  in promoting the 
anti-colonial struggle; but all direct contact with Marxists in India were 
effectively impossible during the war - though the representative of the 
Indian Congress, Krishna Menon, was speaker at many many public meetings 
organised during the war - and many on the left were advocating the handing 
over of power before the end of the war.

The  assessment of Churchill by the British working class as a war leader 
who, in general deserved support for the time, but was inherently an enemy 
of the working class was clearly shown in the general election, which 
followed shortly after the Nazi surrender - when Churchill and his party 
were rejected in a landslide (an election in which I, as a troop officer in 
2nd Armoured Brigade, but still under 21, did not have a vote - but you can 
bet your bottom dollar that most of those in the Brigade old enough to have 
a vote rejected Churchill, as did the majority of the working class back 

What happened in the ensuing years, with the Labour government coming more 
and more under the thumbs of Washington, until it too was rejected by the 
electorate, is another story ........


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>
To: <e.c.apling at btinternet.com>
Sent: Friday, September 18, 2009 10:53 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Query on British historiography

> Paul Flewers wrote:
>> The Second World War was the last time that Britain played anything like 
>> a
>> major role on a world scale, and I guess that the endless commemorating 
>> of
>> it here is at least in part an unconscious recognition of this.
> After more furniture busting than has been seen since the barroom fight
> in "Shane", the comments on "Stalin Nostalgia" and "Churchill Nostalgia"
> have died down on my blog.
> I don't want to stir things up there again, but do want to offer another
> thought about it here where belief in a "Good War" is less entrenched
> presumably.
> It seems that both sides in the debate agree that Churchill was fighting
> an imperialist war but Newman and company argue that this was secondary
> to the need to defeat Hitler. Every effort had to be bent toward
> mobilizing the working class for a militant war against Hitler, even if
> it was under the stewardship of a dog like Churchill.
> That poses the question of the responsibilities of Marxists. How in the
> world can a "pro-war" revolutionary current possibly not agitate around
> all the terrible things that the British ruling class was up to? For
> example, I have been harping on Bengal. If Indian Communists told their
> British comrades what was going on, it would be *criminal* not to mount
> demonstrations against the policies that led to a famine that would kill
> 3 million Indians. Remaining silent around such issues would of course
> be dictated by the need to get everybody on a war footing and follow the
> military/political machine but it would end up discrediting the
> revolutionary "pro-war" left.
> Which of course is what happened in the USA. If a parallel process took
> place in Britain, that would be an interesting topic to research but I
> have a feeling that it did not.
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