Iosif Stalin, Inevitability of Wars among Capitalist Countries. 1952
Original Source: Bol’shevik, No. 18 (September 1952), pp. 1-50. Reprinted in Pravda, 3 October 1952, pp. 2-5, and 4 October 1952, pp. 2-4.
Some comrades affirm that, in consequence of the development of international conditions after the second world war, wars among capitalist countries have ceased to be inevitable. They consider that the contradictions between the camp of socialism and the camp of capitalism are greater than the contradictions among capitalist countries, that the USA has made other capitalist countries sufficiently subservient to itself to prevent them from going to war with one another and weakening one another, that forward- looking people of capitalism : have learned enough from two world wars which inflicted serious damage on the whole capitalist world not to permit themselves, again to draw the capitalist countries into war among themselves, that, in view of all this, wars among capitalist countries have ceased to be inevitable.
These comrades are mistaken. They see the external appearances which glitter on the surface but they fail to see those profound forces which, though at present operating imperceptibly, will nevertheless determine the course of events.
Outwardly everything appears to be “all right:” The USA has placed Western Europe, Japan and other capitalist countries on a dole; Germany (Western), Britain, France, Italy and Japan, having fallen into the clutches of the USA, are obediently carrying out the US commands. But it would be wrong to think that things can go on well forever and ever, that these countries will tolerate without end the domination and oppression of the USA, that they will not seek to free themselves from American bondage and set out on a course of independent development.
Let us first take Britain and France. There is no doubt that these countries are imperialist. Undoubtedly cheap raw materials and guaranteed markets for their goods are of primary importance to them. Is it to be assumed that they will endlessly tolerate the present state of affairs, in which the Americans, using the stratagem of Marshall Plan aid, are penetrating the economy of Britain and France, seeking to turn them into appendages of the US economy, in which American capital is seizing the raw material sources and export markets in the Anglo-French colonies and thereby preparing a catastrophe for the high profits of Anglo-French capitalists? Would it not be more correct to say that first capitalist Britain and then capitalist France will ultimately be forced to wrest themselves from the embraces of the USA and enter into conflict with the USA in order to assure themselves an independent position and of course high profits?
Let us now proceed to the chief vanquished countries, Germany (Western) and Japan. These countries are now leading a sorry existence under the heel of American imperialism. Their industry and agriculture, their trade, their domestic and foreign policies, all their way of life, are shackled by the American occupation “regime.” But it was only yesterday that these countries were still great imperialist powers which shook the foundations of British, US and French domination in Europe and Asia. To think that these countries will not attempt to rise to their feet again, smash the US “regime” and break away on a path of independent development is to believe in miracles.
It is said that the contradictions between capitalism and socialism are greater than the contradictions between the capitalist countries. Theoretically this is of course true. It is true not only now, at the present time, but it was also true before the second world war. And this the leaders of the capitalist countries did, more or less, understand. Yet the second world war began not with a war against the USSR, but with a war among the capitalist countries. Why?
First, because war with the USSR, as a socialist country, is more dangerous to capitalism than a war between capitalist countries, for if a war between capitalist countries raises only the question of the supremacy of certain capitalist countries over other capitalist countries, war with the USSR must necessarily raise the question of the existence of capitalism itself. Second, because the capitalists, although for propaganda purposes they raise a hubbub about the aggressive nature of the Soviet Union, do not themselves believe in its aggressive nature, since they take into consideration the peaceful policy of the Soviet Union and know that the Soviet Union will not itself attack the capitalist countries.
After the first world war it was believed that Germany had been finally put out of action, just as certain comrades now think that Japan and Germany have been finally put out of action. Then, too, it was also said-the press dinned forth that the USA had placed Europe on a dole, that Germany could no longer rise to her feet, that from now on there could be no war among the capitalist countries. Yet in spite of this
Germany revived and rose to her feet as a great power within some 15 to 20 years after her defeat, having broken out of bondage and set out upon a course of independent development. It is typical in this regard that none other than Britain and the USA should have helped Germany to revive economically and to raise her economic war potential. Of course, the USA and Britain, though helping Germany to revive economically, in so doing intended to direct the revived Germany against the Soviet Union, to use her against the country of socialism. However, Germany directed her forces in the first place against the Anglo -French -American bloc. And when Hitler Germany declared war on the Soviet Union, the Anglo-French -American bloc not only failed to join with Hitler Germany, but, on the contrary, was obliged to enter into a coalition with the USSR against Hitler Germany.
Consequently, the capitalist countries’ struggle for markets and the desire to crush their competitors turned out in actuality to be stronger than the contradictions between the camp of capitalism and the camp of socialism.
The question is, what guarantee Is there that Germany and Japan will not again rise to their feet, that they will not try to wrest themselves from American bondage and to live their own independent lives? I think there are no such guarantees.
But it follows from this that the inevitability of wars among the capitalist countries remains.
It is said that Lenin’s thesis that imperialism inevitably gives birth to wars should be considered obsolete since powerful peoples’ forces have now grown up which are taking a stand in defense of peace, against a new world war. This is not correct.
The aim of the present movement for peace is to arouse the masses of the people for the struggle to preserve peace and to avert a new world war. Consequently, it does not pursue the aim of overthrowing capitalism and establishing socialism. It limits itself to the democratic aims of the struggle to preserve peace. In this respect the present movement for the preservation of peace differs from the movement during the first world war to turn the imperialist war into a civil war, since this latter movement went further and pursued socialist ends.
Under a certain confluence of circumstances, the struggle for peace may possibly develop in one place or another into a struggle for socialism. This, however, would no longer be the present peace movement but a movement for the overthrow of capitalism.
It is most probable that the present peace movement, as a movement for the preservation of peace, will, should it be successful, result in prevention of a particular war, in its postponement, a temporary preservation of a particular peace, to the resignation of a bellicose government and its replacement by another government, ready to preserve peace for the time being. This is good, of course. Even very good. But this, however, is still insufficient to eliminate altogether the inevitability of wars among capitalist countries. It is insufficient since with all these successes of the peace movement imperialism still remains and retains power, and consequently the inevitability of wars also remains.
In order to eliminate the inevitability of wars imperialism must be destroyed.
Source: I. V. Stalin, Economic Problems of Socialism (Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952), pp. 32-37.