EH Carr: Eurocentrism in the Western Communist Movement (c. 1920’s) 

Author’s Note: Throughout the 1940s, British academic EH Carr referred to JV Stalin in glowing terms! However, in the 1970s – and as the US tightened its grip upon the culture and thinking of Western Europe – EH Carr was forced to ‘insert’ the odd (unconvincing) line here and there criticising Stalin – or his books risked being unpublished or worse still ‘banned’! Invariably, the content of these books hardly supported or reflected these doctored lines. Over-all, although a bourgeois academic, the history of EH Carr is ‘fair’ and is on the whole ‘free’ from the tendrils of US anti-intellectualism! In this short extract – EH Carr discusses the very real problem of racism existing within the European Communist Movement despite its guiding ideology of Marxist-Leninism expressively forbidding this type of terrible bourgeois habit – and calling instead for a definite unity between the different races and ethnic groups through the concept of ‘internationalism’. This attitude of racism toward non-Europeans has always been rife throughout the ‘White’ workers of North America (where Black people are viewed as the ‘enemy’ and not as ‘Comrades’). Unfortunately, with the colonial legacy of Western Europe has ensured that this type of racism exists and prospers throughout the populations of Europeans. Indeed, my ethnic Chinese wife (and our children) were racially abused by Labour Party supporters (under Jeremy Corbyn) a few years ago in London during an ‘anti-fascist’ march! We were targeted because of our Chinese ethnicity and because we carried the Red Flag (with a gold hammer and sickle). This was orchestrated by a number of Trotskyites and Polish EU migrants who were proud of the fact that their grandfathers had fought for Nazi Germany during WWII! Trotskyites, of course, use racism and disinformation all the time to perpetuate their rightwingism – but the anti-Russian policies of the US has supported and spread an alarming upsurge in neo-Nazism throughout Eastern Europe (the former ‘Communist Bloc’). Of particular note is that JV Stalin was an early lone voice in the wilderness supporting the ‘colonial’ people – whilst one ‘Nguyen Ai-quoc’ would go on to find fame as ‘Ho Chi Minh’ in Vietnam, leading the Vietnamese people to great military victories over the Japanese, the French and the Americans! 

‘An embarrassing theme, recurrent throughout this period and ventilated by some eastern delegates at the sixth congress, was the attitude of western communists in revolutionary movements in colonial countries. The principle had been expounded in the theses of the second congress in 1920: 

“First and foremost, the duty to render the most active help rests on the workers of the country on which the backward nation is dependent in colonial or financial relations.” 

But the demand for “a closer alliance of the western European communist proletariat with the revolutionary movement of peasants in the east” remained a pious aspiration. Stalin, in his first detailed excursion into international affairs in March 1925, reiterated that it was the duty of communist parties “to lay down forms and methods of bringing together working class of leading countries with the national-revolutionary movement of colonies and dependent countries”. But it was naturally left to representatives of the dependent countries to call attention to the prevalent neglect of this duty; and they did not always find it tactful to do so. Nguyen Ai-quoc reproached the PCF at the fifth congress of Comintern in June 1924 with its indifference to the colonial peoples, and secured the insertion of a suitable exhortation in the congress resolution. A Palestinian delegate at the seventh IKKI tartly recalled that the British workers had done nothing to aid the movement for national independence Egypt, and added that the British workers in the general strike had not sought sympathy or support from the colonial peoples, and the Netherlands party incurred censure on the same occasion for its lukewarm response to the Indonesian rising. At the sixth congress of Comintern in July 1928, when pressure was applied to the parties on every front to adopt more radical policies, Katayama on behalf of th secretariat offered criticism of the attitude of the British, Netherlands and American parties to movements in the colonial possessions of their respective countries. An unusually vocal Persian delegate complained not only that “Comintern in its daily work pays very little attention to the countries of the Near East”, but that the CPGB in particular had done nothing to help the Persian and Indian parties; and a Palestinian delegate, speaking of the Arab countries, roundly asserted that “the European proletariat betrayed them”. A delegate from Indo-China spoke eloquently of the exploitation of his country by French imperialism and of a growth of a parasitic national bourgeoisie, and rested all his hopes “on the world proletariat, and in particular on the proletariat of France and China and on the Third International”. But no encouragement was given to discuss these themes; and the indifference of the congress towards the eastern countries, other than India and China, was unshaken.’ 

EH Carr: A History of Soviet Russia – Foundations of a Planned Economy 1926-1929 – Volume III, MacMillan, (1978), Chapter 82, The USSR and the East, Pages 664-665 

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