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1. Aggravation of the political situation in the capitalist world as a result of a protracted economic crisis
Aggravation of imperialist contradictions during and as a result of the economic crisis of 1929-1933. led to the activation of the most reactionary and aggressive elements in a number of countries, to the regrouping of the imperialist powers, to the accelerated formation of imperialist blocs and coalitions, and to new attempts to resolve imperialist contradictions through aggression against the Soviet Union.
After the crisis, a special kind of depression continued in the capitalist countries, which testified to the further intensification of the general crisis of capitalism.
Comrade Stalin, describing the situation in the capitalist world after the unprecedented protracted and deep economic crisis that shook capitalism in 1929-1933, pointed out:
“Obviously, we are dealing with a transition from the point of the greatest decline of industry, from the point of the greatest depth of the industrial crisis - to depression, but not to an ordinary depression, but to a special kind of depression, which does not lead to a new upsurge and flourishing of industry, but returns it to the point of greatest decline " (1) .
Regarding international relations during this period, Comrade Stalin noted: "The intensification of the struggle for the Great Ocean and the growth of naval armaments in Japan, the USA, England, and France are the result of this aggravation" (2) .
At the same time, class contradictions intensified in the capitalist world. Chronic mass unemployment and chronic underutilization of enterprises developed; production capabilities were used on a relatively increasingly reduced scale. The labor movement, combined with the growth of the national liberation movement in the colonial and dependent countries, became more and more formidable. Increasingly, the uneven, spasmodic development of the capitalist countries left its mark on international relations.
The bigwigs of the monopoly capital of Germany and Japan decided to look for a way out along the paths of fascism and aggression.
The fact that the capitalist powers, and above all the United States and Britain, contributed to Japan's capture of Manchuria and its penetration into northern China gave the Japanese ruling classes self-confidence. England, which actually contributed to the occupation of Manchuria and the consolidation of the Japanese there, nevertheless was attacked by the most militant part of the Japanese ruling circles. In the League of Nations, the British representatives, under the pressure of world public opinion, were forced to hypocritically vote for the non-recognition of Manchukuo, which, along with the intensification of Japanese-English trade rivalry, caused a significant increase in anti-English tendencies in Japan.
In the autumn of 1933, the sensational book by the Japanese naval officer Tota Ishimaru "Japan must be at war with England" ("Nitsi e Hisso Ron") was published. Based on the inevitability of Japan's war against England, Ishimaru proposed to start it with a surprise attack on the English fleet, which, in his opinion, should ensure success. Further, he describes the picture of the defeat of the English fleet in the "general battle". Ishimaru recommended organizing an uprising against the British in India, Egypt, the Dutch Indies, an attack on Australia, New Zealand, and British Borneo for the success of the “case”. These territories should go to Japan. India must cut off ties with the British Empire and the Dutch Indies become a Japanese vassal state. Threatening such prospects in the event of war, Ishimaru suggested that England voluntarily give up part of its possessions to Japan,
Ishimaru's book reflected the development of such tendencies among the Japanese big bourgeoisie and military circles. It was after the open manifestation of these tendencies, and to a certain extent as a result of these tendencies, that a tendency grew stronger among the British bourgeoisie, which believed that the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance was in the best interests of British imperialism.
Supporters of this current, mostly die-hard conservatives, hoped, at the cost of serious concessions to Japan, to secure the most essential interests of their decaying empire through an agreement with her and direct Japanese aggression against the United States. But above all, the British mono-national liberation movement in the colonial and dependent countries became more and more formidable. Increasingly, the uneven, spasmodic development of the capitalist countries left its mark on international relations.
Germany, after the seizure of power by the fascist clique, on October 19, 1933, withdrew from the League of Nations, tore up the Versailles Peace Treaty and began to prepare for a new redivision of the world. In 1935, Italy attacked Abyssinia with the aim of conquering and annexing that country. Since the summer of 1936, both fascist countries, with the support of the British and American reactionaries, have entrenched themselves in the western Mediterranean basin in some Spanish territories and opposed the Spanish people, helping their protege, the dictator Franco. All these actions posed a threat to the interests of British imperialism in Europe, the Mediterranean basin and Northeast Africa.
German and Japanese aggression posed an ever-greater threat to the interests of the United States and Britain.
In the new international situation, when hotbeds of war had already arisen and Anglo-American contradictions began to temporarily recede into the background, mutual hostility nevertheless continued to leave its mark on Anglo-American relations. The hostility of the American bourgeoisie to Britain flared up again in the summer of 1933 because of Britain's refusal to pay another installment on the war debt. England paid only a token contribution; but the next year even this symbolic contribution was not made.
Great indignation among American capitalists was also caused by the British policy of intra-imperial preferences, for the representatives of British monopoly capital introduced a system of intra-imperial preferential tariffs at the Ottawa imperial conference in July-August 1932. This meant the intensification of the customs war in the conditions of the world economic crisis and the intensification of this war, primarily between England and the United States. The system of intra-imperial preferential tariffs was primarily directed against the United States as the most important exporter of industrial products to the British Empire and food and agricultural raw materials to England.
American capitalists have suffered a lot of damage as a result of the system of preferences. At their expense, English industrialists and merchants strengthened their positions. The share of England in the imports of the five countries participating in the Ottawa Customs Agreement (India, Canada, Australia, the Union of South Africa, New Zealand) increased from 33% in 1929 to 37% in 1935. The share of the United States, on the contrary, decreased from 34 up to 25%. The US share of all world trade fell from 13.8% in 1929 to 9.9% in 1933. The decline in the US share of world trade was very sensitive to US exporters for the simple reason that the British Empire as a whole still occupied first place among all countries in the world market. In 1936, the British Empire absorbed 19% of all world exports, the USA - 11%, France - 7%, etc.
During the crisis of 1929-1933. and in the first years after it, the English big bourgeoisie somewhat strengthened its position in the markets for the export of capital. American monopolies have lost several billion dollars due to the fall in the value of foreign investment. Before the crisis, during the economic war, the American financial oligarchy often bought the shares of its British and other competitors at extremely inflated prices. Now the consequences of this policy have shown. City financiers now began to buy up shares of American enterprises in South America and in their dominions.
On the whole, the decline in the value of American capital investments abroad by the end of 1935 compared with 1929 amounted to about $3.3 billion (from $17 billion to $13.7 billion).
Meanwhile, aggressive tendencies among American big-capitalist circles were rapidly intensifying as a result of the further development of monopolies and the parasitic features of dying capitalism. Lenin emphasized the latter circumstance back in 1916, when he wrote: “...in the United States, economic development in recent decades has gone even faster than in Germany, and it is precisely because of this that the parasitic features of the latest American capitalism have come out especially brightly” (3) .
(1) I. V. Stalin, Soch., vol. 13, pp. 290-291.
(2) Ibid., p. 291.
(3) V. I. Lenin, Works, vol. 22, p. 287.