George Orwell 1941

Answers to a Questionnaire on the War

Source: Left, No. 62, November 1941.
Transcribed: for the Marxists Internet Archive by Christian Hogsbjerg.

1. Is the present Anglo-German conflict fundamentally an imperialist war? No.

2. Whether imperialist or not, is it unimportant to British workers whether Britain or Germany triumphs? No.

3. Is there any important difference, from the worker’s standpoint, between British Imperialism and German Nazism? Yes.

4. Is the struggle of China, Norway or Greece imperialistic? No.

5. Does it become so because assisted by Great Britain? No.

6. Should Socialists support the British war effort? Yes.

7. Should Socialists support the present British Government? Not unreservedly.

8. Should Socialists support strikes which have a legitimate industrial objective, even if they retard the war effort? Yes.

9. Is a Peace by Negotiation desirable, at any price? No.

10. Is a Peace by Negotiation possible at present, on terms which would not leave Hitler master of continental Europe and with a free hand to continue the war on one front against the U.S.S.R.? No.

11. Has the German invasion of the U.S.S.R. affected the issue of a negotiated peace now? No.

12. Is the prospect of a negotiated peace likely to stimulate or retard revolutionary opposition to Nazism in the occupied countries? Retard.

13. If the U.S.S.R. is defeated, is the Anglo-American combination likely to achieve victory? Yes.

14. Would victory then be possible by mainly military means? No.

15. If so, is the present British leadership adopting and developing those means with sufficient speed? No.

16. Is the alternative of a psychological offensive a practical one? ?

17. Is it an alternative or a supplementary method? I.e. Would revolt be possible throughout the Continent without the continuation of the armed struggle? No.

18. Is the present Government adopting and developing this method adequately? No.

19. If not, is the Government basically incapable of using this method? Yes.

20. Is the present Government, if victorious, likely to establish a durable peace? Probably.

21. Is the U.S.S.R., if its resistance is maintained, likely to dominate the situation at the end of the war and ensure the establishment of Soviet Communism over large areas of Europe? No.

22. Will it be possible to avoid the dominance of either Imperialism or Stalinism at the end of the war? Yes.

23. Is the British Labour Movement the main bulwark against such a situation? Important, but not the main one.

24. Can the British Labour Movement exercise a decisive influence on the course of the war while in a minority position in Parliament? Yes.

25. Is a Socialist, or a predominantly Socialist, Government possible of achievement during the course of war? Yes.

26. Would it necessarily strengthen or weaken the war effort? Strengthen.

27. Could such a Government be obtained by constitutional means – i.e. by a General Election? Yes.

28. If so, could mass pressure force the present Government to face a General Election? Yes.

29. If not, should the formation of such a Government by revolutionary means be attempted if suitable conditions arose? Yes.

30. Are such conditions likely to arise? No.

31. Would such an attempt fatally weaken the war effort and enable Hitler to strike a decisive blow? Not if the suitable conditions existed.

32. Would it be possible that by that stage Hitler’s own internal position would also be extremely insecure? No.

33. Should all Socialists who believe the present Government incapable of defeating Nazism, or who believe that Socialist methods would shorten the war and win the peace, unite in a common front for an intense propaganda drive? Yes.

34. Should this drive be linked with support for “Win the War by Socialism” candidates at present by-elections? Yes.

35. Could such a drive exert a decisive influence on the course of the war? Probably.