ON THE WORLD ECONOMIC SITUATION
ADOPTED BY THE FIFTH COMINTERN CONGRESS
Inprekorr, iv, 119, p. 1565, 16 September 1924
VI. REPARATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL CONTRADICTIONS:
THE POSITION OF SOVIET RUSSIA
The question of reparations is still unsolved. The attempt to squeeze reparations out of Germany in foreign currency . .
. . . shattered the German currency and the entire capitalist economic order in Germany. This brought class contradictions in Germany to such a pitch that the danger of social revolution or of a nationalist-chauvinist coup became immediate and acute.
Until recently, political contradictions among the imperialist great Powers, France, England, the United States, as well as the acute contradictions among the various social classes within each State, prevented any attempt at combined action on the reparations question.
The plans of the militarist and heavy-industry circles in France were to attach the left bank of the Rhine and the Ruhr to France, politically and economically. . .
. . . This would in fact have made Germany into a French colony. France's military superiority to England in decisive arms (submarines, aircraft) would be finally consolidated by the incorporation of the Ruhr and the large chemical plants. The violent and predatory occupation of the Ruhr was an attempt to realize this imperialist programme.
France's momentary military superiority made it impossible for England to oppose French plans by force. It contented itself with supporting German passive resistance openly and secretly in the hope that the two opponents would so weaken themselves economically that they would have to submit to England's demands.
England feared German economic revival as much as French military superiority. . .
. . . Consequently its policy was directed not to liberating Germany from the burden of reparations, but to its economic enslavement, while preventing its incorporation in the French imperialist system.
Because of the boom, the American bourgeoisie had no inducement to intervene directly in European affairs. Those in favour of participation in solving the reparations problem, that is, in exploiting the German proletariat, were part of the industrial bourgeoisie . .
. . . banking capital, particularly the Morgan concern, which would like to make large loans and at the same time get control of the German iron industry; and finally the farmers, who hope for a rise in food prices. . .
. . . With the end of the boom and the need to find new sales outlets for goods not taken up on the home market, interest in Europe is increasing and participation in the exploitation of Germany appears more desirable to the American bourgeoisie.
The Ruhr war ended with Germany's surrender, after the German bourgeoisie, instead of making sacrifices, exploited passive resistance to enrich themselves and to rob the Treasury. . .
. . . But France proved too weak to seize its victory. The rapid fall of the franc in the spring of 1924 forced France to seek the aid of English and American banking capital. It had to abandon the 'French solution' of the reparations problem, the dismemberment of Germany, and agree to a new solution in accordance with English and American interests. . . .
The Experts' report is an attempt by the bourgeoisie of the imperialist Powers to solve the problem in common. The report expels Germany from the ranks of independent States, and brings it financially and economically under the supervision of the Entente bourgeoisie. The system of reparations payments it envisages is designed to guard the mark against a new collapse and so to guard Europe against the danger of proletarian revolution. The French iron and steel industry is to get the necessary fuel. Control of taxation, finance, and transport is, on the other hand, to protect the West European industrial countries from serious German competition in the world market if Germany reaches its pre-war productivity.
The reparations problem is insoluble. Entente capitalism is incapable of finding a way of squeezing reparations out of Germany without exposing its own economy to the most serious dangers. . . .
The economic and political position of the USSR has grown much stronger in the last few years. The chronic sales crisis in the European industrial countries gives the Russian market particular importance. . .
. . . The hope of transforming the Soviet Republics into a capitalist colony of the Entente was shattered by the vigorous resistance of the Soviet Govern-ment. Therefore, despite bourgeois interest in the Russian market, a further intervention against Soviet Russia is by no means excluded. . . .
But the capitalist crisis may become so acute that the Entente bourgeoisie see no other prospect of suppressing the revolutionary movement than a new war, either
against Soviet Russia or among the Entente Powers. . .
. . . Imperialist war or proletarian revolution remain the sole alternatives.
THE SHARPENING OF CLASS CONTRADICTIONS
The process of concentration and cartellization, of the formation of cartels and trusts, is proceeding more rapidly in the present period of capitalist decline. . .
. . . The gulf between the small group of capitalists controlling these concerns and the medium and petty bourgeoisie is growing steadily deeper. . . .
In countries where the currency has depreciated inflation has wiped out the property of the petty bourgeoisie . . .
. . . The rentier has disappeared . . .
. . . The income of the members of the free professions, of public servants and employees, has sunk below the pre-war leve l. ..
. . . Some have thrown themselves into the fascist movement; other have swelled the ranks of the revolutionary proletariat.
The agrarian crisis is ruining millions of farmers and peasants. . .
. . . The blind adherence of the peasantry to capitalist society is weakening . . .
The restrictions on immigration into America have closed the safety valve which emigration always represented for European capitalism, and so deepen the revolutionary ferment in the European proletariat.
PROSPECTS AND TASKS
. . . In the immediate future we must reckon on a phase of crisis in the United States, which has already opened with great violence. The creeping crisis in the European industrial countries is bound to turn, if any serious attempt is made to operate the Experts' report, into a new phase of acute crisis which will spread simultaneously to all European countries. . .
. . . The opinion of the social-democratic theoreticians (Hilferding) that capitalism has surmounted the post-war crisis and is entering a boom is unfounded. This idea only serves the interests of the bourgeoisie; it is designed to hold back those workers who are still hesitating to join the communist revolutionary movement.
The immediate future will witness further serious struggles between the proletariat, which wishes not only to repel new capitalist attacks but also to regain at least its former position, and capital, which is objectively incapable of meeting the requirements of the proletariat. . .
. . . The political disintegration of the middle classes, their vacillation between bourgeoisie and proletariat, give the proletarian struggle great chances of success if the communist party succeeds in sharpening the economic struggle and turning it into political struggle.
Whether the present phase in the period of capitalist decline leads to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, or to a new and prolonged relative stabilization of its class rule, depends to a large extent on the ability of the communist parties to exploit, organizationally and politically, the objectively revolutionary situations which will develop. Class rule will never break down automatically, without a resolute, persistent, selfless offensive by the revolutionary proletariat. Great mass movements of the proletariat are inevitable in the immediate future. If the communist parties succeed in finally breaking the hold of the social-democratic and nationalist-fascist parties over the proletariat, mobilizing the majority of the decisive strata of the proletariat under their leadership . .
. . . these struggles will lead to successful struggles for power.