The Crimson Bookshelf
WORLD POLITICS--1918-1936, by R. Palme Dutt. International Publishers, N. Y. 389 pp. $2.00.
"THE year 1914 sounded the historic signal for basic change from the old bankrupt imperialist order to the new world socialist order." The year 1936 threatens the world with a repetition of 1914's imperialist war, but a repetition fundamentally conditioned by the further decay of capitalism and the rise of exploited classes and peoples. These are the principle theses about which R. Palme Dutt builds his striking review of the post-war era.
Based on a full-scale acceptance of the Communistic dialectics and theory, "World Politics" is happily free from any barren dialectic exercises undertaken for their own sake and from any wanton quoting of the Marxist fathers and saints. It is one of the outstanding virtues of the book that it proves its points not by citing the prophets but by allowing capitalists, statesmen, and theorists to damn themselves out of their own mouths. If it had no other value this book would still be justified by the inane, blind and cruel remarks it gathers together from the speeches and writings of the contemporary great.
But Palme Dutt has done very much more than merely to attempt to prove his case by demonstrating the folly of others. He has pointed out in the course of his historical survey the failure of capitalism to live up to its own early standards and promises: liberalism, free trade, world organization, peace, and prosperity, to name a few which it has betrayed. Although the world appears to be making a gradual turn around Mr. Hoover's favorite corner toward better times, there is vast wreckage just behind us and still with us are millions of un-employed, to leave aside the larger number of millions who are habitually existing in stark poverty. Out of the poverty of capitalism there is fast growing a new armaments race to make us poorer. Despite Leagues and Kellogg pacts, imperialism is still a strong, if disintegrating, reality in all its older centres and is blossoming out in new slaughter and exploitation in Manchuria and in Ethiopio. Palme Dutt ably reviews these matters and events, and does well it call attention to the centrality of Germany in the new world policies as in the old, with Britain, as before, sitting on a fence increasingly bristling with guns. It seems tragically true that capitalism reaches its highest peaks only in war and in preparation for war.
All that Palme Dutt has to say is revealing and significant to the non-Communist as to the party member, but the former will find it difficult not to enter reservations here and there; though supporting the Soviet Union, he may find difficulty in accepting the assumption, implicit rather than explicit, of its always-rightness, and to find the author's explanation of its entry into the League and its relations to the Third International wholly satisfactory. Seeking peace and fearing present war, he may still doubt the fundamental distinction which Palme Dutt draws between 1914 and 1936 in terms of the Soviet Union, the class struggle, and colonial nationalism: In 1914 Britain sat on the French side of the fence, France and Russia were aligned against Germany and Austria-Hungary, and Japan looked greedily at China and victoriously at Russia. Even Italy's role has not changed too greatly. The first world war ended within hailing distance of the world revolution, and it is reasonable to assume the second will come much closer, but on the facts of the case as they appear at the moment the old lines are strikingly reshaping themselves.
But to the author's final appeal for the mass popular front against war and Fascism there can be few objections save in the ranks of the Fascists and war-mongers themselves.