Class War 1939-1945
I was pointed at this review of, Chris Bambery’s book The Second World War: A Marxist History (2014) which takes a different from normal view of the politics of the second world war; the story where the people’s of the last democracies in Europe united with the United States to fight its fascist blight. This blog article looks at the US financial contribution to the Allied war effort, the Tory Party, even Churchill’s, ambivalence in fighting fascism, and US Capitalism’s contribution to the fascist victory in Spain. The review is more comprehensive and the book would seem to be even more so. For more here, see below/overleaf. …
I was prompted to write this note because of the following quote, I had just reviewed an ello post of mine which commented on the UK’s relationship with the US & Germany in the ’70s which had resurfaced fifty years later as Trump started his Trade Wars with Europe and threatened the purpose of NATO. The US’s sometime sectarian and nationalistic policies can be summed up by the following quote on the US and the UK’s relationship during and after the War.
America, ever the selfless, noble nation, gave Britain no free help. An American journalist summed it up in December 1940:
In heaven’s high name, how have we aided England? When? Whose sacrifice produced the aid?… We have sold England an indeterminate number of military airplanes. She has paid cash. She has come and got them. We have sold England, I understand, some old rifles and various shipments of ammunition. She paid cash. She came and got them… Finally, in a moment of benign generosity, we traded England some rotting destroyers for some air and naval bases so valuable to our defence that even Mr Churchill had difficulty justifying the deal to his Parliament. We are going to sell her more and more planes, if our factories will just decide to produce them fast enough. We are going to sell England practically anything she wants—if we don’t want it first… And Napoleon called England a nation of shopkeepers!
Britain soon went bankrupt, but even then we found a way to fleece it of more money: without notifying London, we sent a warship to South Africa in late 1940 to take 50 million pounds of gold, Britain’s last tangible assets.
This reminded me of the last sentence in 1066 and all that.
America was thus clearly top nation, and History came to a .
Although the teaching of history in British schools, in the 70’s, generally stopped at, as in failed to cover beyond 1939 and they weren’t too keen, even to explore the 1930’s. This theme was resurrected by Francis Fukuyama in his book, “The End of History”.
They then lent Europe the money to rebuild itself via the Marshall plan.
I had also reason to look through my book of David Low cartoons, I was looking for something to summarise the reasons that the returning military voted Labour in such volumes and these thoughts led me to consider the review’s comments on Churchill, although the review does not quote the collective memory of working classes, who were conscripted in their hundreds of thousands, some sent down the pits, of the poverty and cruelty of the Tory Party and the British ruling class.
The review is also excoriating of Churchill, for his failure to oppose fascism, the defence of the Empire was his driving goal, that and opposing the Labour Party.
As for Churchill, “What Churchill grasped early on was that the Führer was aiming at German hegemony in Europe and that that was a direct threat to British imperialism, which had always manoeuvred between the various European powers to stop any one becoming too dominant. Unlike Chamberlain, Churchill was prepared to ally Britain with the US against Germany. The overwhelming message propagated by historians and politicians, on the right and the left, is that this was a war against fascism and for democracy. But fighting fascism was never the main concern of Churchill. He was opposed to Germany from the mid 1930s onwards because he recognised that it threatened Britain’s position in Europe and the world. He had no problem with the Italian fascist dictator, Mussolini.” (Had nothing against Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia.) This is true, of course, since it’s well-known Churchill was a fanatical imperialist (and racist). He even supported Franco in Spain.
The review looks at British policy over the Spanish Civil War of public neutrality and private acquiescence with Franco’s bloody coup, and then looks at the economics,
Texaco and Standard Oil supplied over three million tons of oil to Franco on credit, while Ford, Studebaker, and General Motors gave him 12,000 trucks, three times more than the Axis powers did. The chemical firm Dupont sent 40,000 bombs via Germany to avoid contravening the U.S. Neutrality Act. Much of Britain’s ruling class supported Franco, but the country confined itself to just giving no aid to the Republican forces and pressuring the French to do the same. A Tory member of Parliament remarked that “the propertied classes in this country [Britain] with their insane pro-Franco business have placed us in a very dangerous position.” Indeed, for the Spanish war emboldened Hitler.
The review also talks of Britain’s deliberate failure to alleviate food poverty in India in the late 1940s. It also also talks of the bravery and independence of the resistance and partisan movements.
It all leads me to ask, “Were we the baddies?”
I returned to this while trying to decipher if Churchill was a great militry strategist, this thread at Quora thinks not, his focus on the Mediterranean, massive failures in the far-east and his overemphasis on special forces operations on the whole were unhelpful.
On the featured image, this is taken from https://is.gd/via07Z, a SURL to a page on https://www.rbth.com; the article is about the 70th anniversary of Elbe Day, when the US & Soviet forces finally met in Germany and they attribute the picture to UllsteinBild/Vostock-Photo. I found it using google and thus have not made it available. More …