Ted Grant

In 1942 a slanderous campaign against the Socialist Appeal waged by the Communist Party leaders was backed up by the Sunday Dispatch, infamous for its early enthusiastic support of Hitler, Mosley and the Blackshirts. They shamelessly joined forces to accuse the Trotskyists of being Hitler's agents! Here is Ted Grant's reply to these slanders.

In 1942, Mr. Hall, President of the Yorkshire Miners' Association viciously attacked the Socialist Appeal. In his attack, Mr. Hall claimed that "subversive influences outside the miners' association" were responsible for the unrest in the mines, and that these forces were "pro-Nazi". Ted Grant responded to these slanders point by point, explaining the real reasons for unrest on the coalfields.

In 1942 the Socialist Appeal, organ of the Workers' International League, came under a sever attack launched by the mouthpiece of the coal-owners, The Daily Telegraph, and echoed by the entire national and provincial press, the Tories, the Communist Party, the Liberals and the Yorkshire miners’ TU leaders. The aim was to get the Socialist Appeal suppressed. Why? Because the SA was giving a voice to the anger of the Yorkshire miners as they came into conflict with both the bosses and their own strike-breaking trade union leaders.

In 1942, a censure motion by the extreme right wing of the Tory Party was proposed in order to replace Churchill with a military general. The ruling class was playing with the idea of using the Royal Family as a cover for introducing some form of Bonapartist rule.

In 1942 Ted Grant and Andrew Scott exposed the farcical call on Indian people by British rulers of a “war for freedom” while hundreds of millions were kept in chains. British imperialists promised the Indian masses freedom, but “after the war”, while cynically fostering the divisions on religious lines that would eventually lead to the bloody partition of India. British Marxists demanded Indian workers to be armed and to be granted immediate freedom from colonial rule.

The threatened invasion of India by Japanese imperialism in 1942 brought the question of India front and centre before the British working class. Rather than arm the Indian people and risk India falling into the hands of the Indians, the British imperialists would have prefered it to fall, temporarily, into the hands of the Japanese.

Stalin’s attitude towards the German people zig-zagged as his relations with his imperialist allies changed. At one point he distinguished between the Nazis and the German workers at other times he blamed the German people as a whole for Nazism. Throughout, however, he never raised a genuine internationalist position. His perspective was not the struggle for world socialism, but merely defence of Russia’s borders.

After Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, the Stalinist CPGB leaders followed the U-turn decided in Moscow and became the most loyal supporters of Her Majesty’s war effort. In order to cover their left side, they launched a vicious attack on the Socialist Appeal and the ILP. We publish here the Workers’ International League’s reply where Ted Grant challenges the Stalinists to a public debate, and an exchange of letters with ILP leader Fenner Brockway.

As Hitler's armies advanced into the Soviet Union, Ted Grant explained that it was the abandonment of genuine workers' democracy and internationalism and its replacement by a dictatorial national bureaucratic regime that weakened the ability of the country to stop the Nazis. In spite of this the duty of British workers was to defend the land of October with all means possible.

Against the background of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Ted Grant wrote in 1941 that, "In spite of the ravages of the bureaucracy, the basic conquests of the October Revolution still remain: the capitalist class has never regained its possessions and private ownership in the means of production has never been restored. It is this that the masses, despite their aversion for the bureaucracy, have rallied to defend, just as the British workers would rally to the defence of their Trade Unions against capitalist attack, in spite of their aversion for the Bevins and Citrines."

As part of a general attempt to slander revolutionary ideas as pro-Nazi, the Labour Party's newspaper, Daily Herald, ‘accidentally' included the report on the trial of the Minneapolis General Drivers' Union, also leaders of the Socialist Workers' Party (Fourth International), into a report of the trial of 33 German spies. Here is the vibrant protest of the Workers' International League, by Ted Grant.

In June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the USSR. The treacherous policies of Stalin enforced in the non-aggression pact with Hitler of August 1939 were wiped away and the Soviet bureaucracy was thrown into panic. Overnight the Communist International changed its policy from one of opposition to imperialist war to one of collaboration with the democratic nations in the war against fascism. Ted Grant explains the Marxist position back in July 1941.

The French ruling class had miserably succumbed to Nazi domination in 1940. Now Britain faced the threat of invasion. In France the bourgeoisie refused to arm the people for fear that these arms would eventually be turned against them. The revolutionary socialists in Britain posed the demand of expropriating the capitalists and arming the workers to stop any Nazi invasion.

Germany was making rapid advances on all fronts, shocking the British and Americans. On this basis Mussolini decided to back what he thought was going to be the winning horse. This forced the USA to speed up its decision to actively participate in the war and also to woo Russia into the Allied camp. As Ted Grant predicted “Armageddon is upon us. Millions will be crushed under the advancing tanks and warplanes.”

In the early stages of the war Germany wished to maintain nominal neutrality among the other nations in Europe, especially among those with whom she shared a common frontier. Britain, in order to strike at Germany, tried to spread the war as widely as possible, neither being in the least concerned with the ‘rights of small nations’. As Ted Grant wrote, “The people of Europe can look forward to a few months more or less of the present deadlock, then the sanguinary slaughter – there is no other prospect.”

After the first few months of war in March 1940, preparations for an even worse scenario of slaughter were being undertaken by all imperialist powers by mobilizing the masses of each country against the "enemy". The labour and Stalinist leaders' bankrupt policies left the workers unarmed. Here Ted Grant makes a balance-sheet of the first months of War.

As the war dragged on Ted Grant highlighted the real reason for the war, the conflict between German and British imperialism for domination of Europe. The war was presented as one against Nazi dictatorship, but at the same time the British had a liking for Franco and were also courting Mussolini, revealing the fact that their opposition to “dictatorship” was pure hypocrisy.

As the world stood on the brink of world war Ted Grant wrote, “If world capitalism has no solution for its problems excepting new and more horrible slaughter of whole nations, it is time this insane system were ended… The sole way out for the youth lies in the overthrow of capitalism and workers’ power and socialism. Our path lies in building up the revolutionary socialist youth which alone can lead us away from the nightmare of war which hangs over us.” 

With preparations for war in full swing the small Workers' International League gathered around Ralph Lee and Ted Grant was the only voice that stood out defending a real internationalist position. Here we provide our readers with the lead article of the August 1939 edition of Youth For Socialism, signed by Ted Grant.

In the summer of 1939, the Tientsin incident unleashed a nationalistic outburst in defence of British prerogatives over China. Labour and Stalinist leaders advocated for a "firm" defence of British interests and China against Japan. Ted Grant vehemently rejected their chauvinism and warned "We cannot trust the British capitalists to carry out any act in the interests of the workers of Britain and the world."

As armaments were piled up in preparation for the Second World War Ted Grant explained that, “This war machine is for the defence of the trading interests and the colonial loot of British imperialism, for what is making for war is the intensified and sharpened struggle for markets between the different countries of the world.”

This is an introduction to Trotsky's pamphlet, "The Lessons of Spain: The Last Warning" (1937), written by Ted Grant in collaboration with Ralph Lee while they were in the Workers' International League: a predecessor to the International Marxist Tendency. Ted and Ralph's introduction was praised by Trotsky himself in a letter to the WIL in 1938, which was suppressed and hidden for 80 years before finally being reunited with its rightful owners.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!