Volume 7 Number 3 …………………….. March, 1937
The Auto Strike
Floods and the Workers
The Forces Leading to the American Civil War
Fascist Prototypes (III)
Spanish Youth Organize Revolutionary Front
Also: Correspondence on the War Question, etc.
Any doubt that capitalism has any other way out for its burning contradictions save war, is rapidly being dispelled by the mass of statistics on the re-armament of capitalist countries that is feverishly taking place in every direction. After all, what can capitalism do with its mass of surplus energy and material that it annually accumulates? Each year the workers turn over to the bosses an increasing quantity of products, which the employers find increasingly difficult to dispose of and so realize a profit. Productivity increases by multiplication, the world market scarcely increases at all and sometimes positively decreases.
The result of this process of capitalist accumulation where through the exploitation of the workers, the owners of industry amass a great deal of stuff of which they cannot get rid, has been the realization of a world economic crisis. In the 19th century, the crisis was the temporary and abnormal phase of economic life; today it is the regular and permanent condition of the economic order. Factories can produce in one year, say, what under the given conditions, it may take several years to consume. Thus given a year or two of full capacity production, and again the world markets are glutted and the factories must close down or operate on part time for another seven or ten years.
Under such circumstances, the only way a national capitalism can exist is to pile up reserves in order to batter down the barriers of international competition and to win the markets for that particular country at the expense of others. In the early part of the 20th century, these reserves were capital reserves by which the monopolists and trusts in the important countries dumped their goods on the world market and beat down competition by selling below the average rate of profit or even below the cost of production. Today, however, so high are the tariff barriers around each country, so deep is the drive for national self sufficiency, that the reserves must be in the form of military material. The markets cannot be won peacefully merely by dumping goods; they must be won through direct physical action. They can be won only by war.
Were capitalism not to form these reserves at all, then the alternative would be an endless economic depression due to capitalist over production arising from the exploitation of the workers, who get only a small portion of what they produce. Protracted periods of unemployment and depression can only lead to chaos, disintegration and revolution. When the State must feed the workers rather than the workers feed the State, this marks the end of the given social system. From this we can see that the way out of the continuous industrial depression for capitalism is through political activity only, through war. But by war, the industrial crisis is simply raised to its highest intensity into a political crisis. if industrial depression can lead to revolution, then war must surely do so. the capitalists are really caught between the devil and the deep sea.
At any rate, in order to put an end to the paralysis of the economic crisis, the capitalists have taken to virulent nationalism in the form of Fascism. The present history of the important countries of the world, with few exceptions, is marked by the development of the most arrogant chauvinism and rapaciousness. There is the example of Japan in China and Italy in Ethiopia and Germany in Europe. Such countries are engaging in all sorts of provocative adventures trying to start wars that would redistribute the wealth and markets of the world in their favor. The rulers of these countries have reopened their factories, it is true, but now all their accumulated stuff is in the form of war reserves that are piling up to make the coming world war the direst in the history of the capitalist world.
So long as the working class of the world, especially in Europe, was strongly organized and the proletarian revolution was on the order of the day in many countries, the capitalists having just emerged from a war that had exhausted a large portion of the world, could not engage in new world struggles. But today the proletarian revolutionary forces in most of the important countries have been signally defeated. Today it is Fascism that is victorious in the central portions of Europe. Whatever remnants exist of the former Communist International so proudly organized by Lenin, are today cooperating with decadent layers of the bourgeoisie to boost nationalism and militarism in such countries as France, England, Czechoslovakia and so forth. No longer deterred by the threat of proletarian revolution, the capitalist can show their real colors, their hateful and destructive character. Today the Capitalist system exists not for the furtherance of the productive forces, but for the development of the forces of destruction. It is the capitalist, who today sabotages production, closes down his plant and rots the wares of the country it is the capitalist, who, given the first chance he can get, plunges the world repeatedly into one huge blood bath after another.
Today, all industry is subordinated to the war machine, as the State apparatus rises to unprecedented weight and crushes all before it. The great trend to nationalization that is taking place in all capitalist countries is definitely a trend to coordinate this war machine and make it more perfect. With the bankruptcy of private industry as a creative historic force, the State steps in; but it can step in only for destructive war ends. In France, the bourgeoisie has consented to nationalize the armament concerns for the sake of greater efficiency in time of war. Now the State guarantees the profits of the former owners at a time when the profit system is in a precarious state generally. Furthermore the workers can now be kept down better. Nationalization of the armament works means that strikes in those places become acts of sedition, which can be put down with all the brutal power of the state.
In Germany the Krupp and other war concerns are under the close control of the Fascist State. It is the same in Italy. In England the number of firms receiving war contracts and special consideration by the National Government of Great Britain is carefully limited so that the state can adequately control every part of their production and see that the firms live up to the needs of the war machine and the State. Similar conditions exist throughout Europe. Even in the United States, home of rampant individualism and crassest pretensions of private industrial empires, even here the capitalists are quite prepared to pass legislation restricting the amount of profits the war firms may make and ensuring State control over such firms.
At first glance it might seem that capitalists should be opposed to nationalization of their factories or of limitation of their profits, especially in such countries as the United States. And yet they cannot help themselves. War preparation is taking up such a huge part of the national income that the other capitalists outside of the war firms, feel that their budgets must be made as economical as possible. This can only be done by regulating the profits of these relatively few men, who control the armament ring. The few are here regulated for the benefit of the capitalist class as a whole. This is all the more necessary in a period of economic depression, when all the other firms find it hard to get orders while the armament firms work night and day.
Of course it must not be imagined that the armament ring is not making huge profits just the same. Krupps, for example, record the following profits:
1931-1932 108,000,000 marks,
1932-1933 119,000,000 marks,
1933-1934 177,000,000 marks,
1934-1935 232,000,000 marks,
1935-1936 288,000,000 marks.
We can only vaguely guess what the profits will amount to for the year 1937.
The London Daily Herald has proven that a sum of money put into certain war stocks a year ago would have already produced a 90% return. On the continent the armament firms are so busy they can generally handle no foreign orders. In the United States, the stocks of the steel, chemical and similar trusts have risen to new heights and special dividends and bonuses are being issued. The smart financiers are buying war stocks, even instead of government bonds. Such people might conceivably be for a steel strike so they could buy stocks at low prices and at the end of the strike make a very handsome profit.
It should be remarked in passing that since the capitalists have taken to the road of liquidating their economic crises by developing their war industries, that since the total accumulation of society is now in the form of war materials to an ever increasing extent, this means that the old adjustment between light and heavy industry is now entirely destroyed. What is accumulated is not now a balanced amount of means of consumption in light industry and means of production is heavy industry, but all the energies of Society is now concentrated in becoming heavy industry only, steel, iron, chemicals, minerals, machine, auto, etc. To meet the war needs, tremendous expansion is taking place in certain restricted industries, while other industries may even be shrinking. This itself can lead to most serious convulsions, since the normal functioning of society cannot stand such a lack of balance. The huge concerns now being built to meet the war needs of the State, cannot stand for one day unless the war orders keep pouring in. Thus there have been created industries, which to keep going must holler even louder for war and war orders. And, what is most ominous, these very industries are becoming the most important of all, the very heart and soul of the capitalist productive system.
It is important to note how rapidly the war budgets have increased and how much of the total national income is now being poured into war armaments. The following table shows the amounts spent in 1914 just before the war, and in 1935 (in millions of dollars).
1914 1935 United States 244.6 709.9 Great Britain 375.1 483 France 348.7 701.2 Germany 463.3 360 Italy 179.1 354.6 Japan 95.5 269.2 ___________ ____________ total 1,706.3 2,878.7
Of course in considering this table, there must be taken into account the fact that prices are still above those of 1914; at the same time it should be observed that the deadly character of the instruments produced have immeasurably been improved.
At any rate, these figures are for 1935. How out of date they are can be seen by looking at the figures for Germany. Even the government admits the following expenditures:
1933-34 3,000,000,000 marks
Since 1935 a great armament race has developed. in a report published February 14, 1937, for example, the Foreign Policy Association declared that a survey of 60 nations had showed that in the two years from 1934 to 1936, the armament bill had jumped from an estimated five billion dollars to over eleven billions. The report affirmed that “current armament programs are based almost universally on the assumption that war is an imminent possibility.
Again we must stress that even this report goes up to only 1936 and that since then, even more menacing advances have been made. In England, the government is buying 30,000,000 gas masks for its entire population, as is Japan, Germany and other countries. Mothers given birth to children now all under gas masks. All the smaller European countries are literally armed camps.
It is important to remember that the figures given out by the various governments by no means represent the real amounts spent on armaments and for war protection. In France, for example, it was estimated that in 1935, the Comite Des Forges, or Metallurgical Federation, sold Germany six million tons of iron ore for guns and shells. Here, incidentally, is another reason for the nationalization and control of such firms, which has been initiated by the People’s Front Government of France. Of course, such nationalization does not in the least diminish the output of guns and shells, but it insures that `the country’s rivals’ do not get them but they remain within the borders. In 1935 it was reported that Germany really spent four billion dollars that year alone and that she had stocked up some 20,000 airplanes ready for use. What must be the situation today in 1937?
A report has just been issued by Mr. Welch, the manager of the Bendix Aviation Excort Corporation, which gives us an inkling to the situation. He declares that almost a billion dollars will be spent in 1937 for new aircraft and equipment alone and that four out of every five of the 28,500 units to be produced will be fighting planes. The production of airplanes this year will equal half of the entire supply that the world has accumulated up to the present. Mr. Welch offered the following table.
present draft 1937 construction military civil military civil Czechoslovakia 2,400 129 760 69 France 5,800 2,093 2,500 700 Germany 2,900 1,809 2,900 254 Great Britain 3,600 1,507 2.700 528 Italy 3,600 259 2,300 65 Japan 3,000 104 2,100 58 Rumania 2,200 51 400 8 Jugo-Slavia 1,200 58 540 6 Poland 2,200 204 700 30 U.S.S.R. 5,400 1,000 3,000 200 United States 2,600 9,071 1,200 2,640
Here is an interesting proof of how an industry that started out as an entirely peaceful one has become almost overwhelmed by the war machine. Leaving out the United States and Russia, of the total airplanes to be produced, approximately 15,000 will be for war and 1,700 for civil aviation. But even here, we must not be fooled. It has just been stated by the Boeing Aviation Corporation, which manufactures the great airlines of the United States, that the airplanes for civil operation and the new big bombers for the government are almost exactly alike in all important respects and can be transformed from one to the other in short notice. Furthermore, it must not be imagined for one moment that these figures are really the entire truth. The report that Germany had 20,000 war planes in 1935, was made, for example, by no less a personage than Winston Churchill in the House of Parliament.
As in aviation, so in all the war production fronts, the advances that are being made in 1937 break all records. France, Belgium and Holland are undertaking huge new fortifications of their borders. Turkey is busy refortifying the Dardennelles. Germany has also built a string of fortresses for her own needs.
There has just been announced from Britain a record breaking armament program of over seven billion dollars, theoretically to be spent over a period of five years but most likely to be spent in much quicker time than that: The normal expenditure on defense will be tripled and the rest of British armaments in a single year will be twice as much as the entire cost of carrying on the British Government in the last financial year before the World War. Three new battleships costing at least 40 million dollars each will be rushed through as will two new aircraft carriers and seven new cruisers of 9,000 tons each. The mechanization of the army from top to bottom with every new device added will be speeded through. Immense reserves of ammunition will continue to be accumulated. The air force will be increased to 10,000 fighting planes immediately. Of course, the United States will now have to follow suit, especially in the naval program. Today the war budget of the United States Government is the largest in its peace time history.
What do all these expenditures mean for the masses? Immediately it means a great increase in the cost of living and a drastic downward revision of all their standards. Relief will be cut, educational and similar social expenditures of the State reduced heavy taxes imposed. In this respect the situation in Germany is typical. Their speed up has been instituted to such a pitch that the institute for Economic Research has to call for more consideration of labor and the Nazis must warn the employers against exhaustion of labor. Holidays are forgotten, payment for Sunday work and for overtime has been stopped. Wages have been cut to the bone. The standard of nutrition has been reduced by 20%.
Accordingly, illness among workers has greatly increased. The German Medical Gazette of October 23, 1936, in what it describes as a `comparatively conservative’ estimate, records that, in 1935, the numbers of cases of illness among insured and salaried workers, was 20% higher than in 1932, the worst period of the crisis. The only check on these measures against the workers that the German employers recognize is the danger of undermining the physical standard of the source of cannon fodder.
In the final analysis the rearmament race means that the masses are soon to be hurled into the slaughter. They will pay heavily for their sins in not exterminating the vermin of capitalism. Either the Dictatorship of the proletariat or Death, that is how history puts the question. But the human race cannot commit suicide. It will go to Communism and the rule of the workers.
A MARXIST STUDY OF THE FORCES LEADING TO THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR OF 1860
Like the English Civil Wars of the 17th century, the American Civil War of the 19th has not by any means been sufficiently studied by Marxists of this country. In our articles on Abraham Lincoln and on John Brown, we have touched on this period of American history through the medium of biography. In this article we mean to make a slight sketch of the forces leading to the irrepressible conflict of 1860. Three distinct sets of antagonistic forces focused to produce that terrible conflict, namely, the South, the West and the East. In the early part of the 19th century the West broke away from the South and allied itself with the East or North. This shift was decisive for the struggle that ultimately broke out in the country.
The West represented the small agrarian property holder, who was trying to seek his fortune, to remain independent, retaining control of the means of production, and to escape from the increasing pressure of the State. Up to the 19th century, Western individualism could run away from the State; from then on, it had to face the State and capture it. The Liberal State was catching up with both farmer and frontiersmen. Slavery, too, was pressing its spurs into the independent small owner. Representing agrarian individualism, a vast democratic movement arose among the lower propertied elements especially of the West.
In its fight against the State, the democratic West could find friends among the Southern plutocracy. Having spurned as allies the hired laborer and slave, both of whom were alien to the region, the West could turn nowhere else for better support. On their side, too, the Southern slave holders could here play a profitable game. The South was losing out in its economic struggles against the Northern capitalists. It needed the West for its aims of Western expansion. It could use the West in joint battles against the North and East. At the same time the Southern oligarchy did not fear democracy. In the vast domains under its control, there was a slavery, which no one had yet dared to challenge.
It was to cement this alliance that the South could tolerate Jeffersonian democracy. “Jeffersonian Democracy did not imply any abandonment of the property and particularly the land qualifications on the suffrage of office holdings; it did not involve any fundamental alterations in the national constitution, which the Federalists had designed as a foil to the levelling propensities of the masses; it did not propose any new devices for a more immediate and direct control of the voters over the instrumentalities of government. Jeffersonian Democracy simply meant the possession of the federal government by the agrarian masses led by aristocracy of slave owning planters, any capitalistic groups, fiscal, banking, or manufacturing.” (C.A. Beard: Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy).
Thus, too, at the time of the missouri Compromise, when the cry of the abolitionists was already to be heard, the `democrat’ Jackson could suggest to congress, “To pass such a law as will prohibit under severe penalties the circulation in the Southern states of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.” (S.B. Leacock: Lincoln Frees the Slaves). This was the price the West paid for the Southern connections.
By the time of Andrew Jackson, however, the West, with its frontier now at the Mississippi, was beginning to find its voice. It could not be coerced; It would have to be duped. Larger concessions had to be made to those rough Westerners if the South was to maintain its control. Under Andrew Jackson, the Jeffersonian name of Republican was changed to Democrat and the franchise was extended, the old `rascals’ were cleaned out of political office and the Westerners were allowed to taste the bribes of government for the time being.
Incidentally, it is interesting to compare this rough democratic movement of the West with the genteel democratic sighs of such effete Easterners as Ralph Waldo Emerson, now hailed by so many Liberals. Writing in 1844, Emerson could declare: “The spirit of our American Radicalism is destructive and aimless. It is not loving; it has no ulterior and divine ends, but is destructive only out of hatred and selfishness.” The Concord School of thinkers headed by Emerson and Thoreau tried hard to run away from rude reality. They built little Utopias. They became mystics, transcendentalists, believers in oriental philosophies. They succeeded in escaping reality so well that as late as 1859, Emerson could write: “No man living will see the end of slavery.”
The alliance between Western individualism and the slave power could not last long. The future of individualism lay in Northern competition and not in the Southern slave camps. By means of canals and water routes the West was being bound up firmly with the Eastern cities. Hitherto Western products had been shipped down the southward flowing rivers to New Orleans. Situation on these rivers, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, became great traffic centers and were hooked up with all Southern markets. But in 1825, the Erie Canal was completed and freight rates dropped from $100 a ton to $15 or $25. Rapidly there arose a whole network of canals in the Northwest territory, connecting Ohio, Michigan, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati directly to the East.
The second blow in prying the West from the South came simultaneously with the canal network. The West, from the Appalachians to the Mississippi, had become the great granary of the world. In 1840, the West produced 7.4 bushels per capita, in 1860, 13.3 bushels. Self sufficient farming disappeared and in its place arose capitalist commercial farming. While the time of this shift varied for different portions of the Western farming area, by 1830, Ohio had generally completed this adjustment and by 1850, it was joined by the States farther West, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and a part of Wisconsin.
And with this specialized farming came machinery produced in the North and East. In 1840, wheat was generally broadcast by hand; by 1850 the drill was rapidly coming into use and much of the wheat in the Mississippi Valley was now sown by machine. In the early ‘40’s wheat was reaped with a cradle; after 1860 the employment of the reaper swiftly increased. By 1850, most of the threshing also was done by portable machinery.
The final blow in tying up the West with the East was given by the railroads, running East and West and not North and South, that signalized the great railroad boom period of 1850-1860. The effects were immense. In the three years ending 1852, Cincinnati shipped 1,001,000 barrels of flour to the South and 37,000 barrels shipped to the East. By 1860 the three year total had changed to 300,000 barrels shipped South and 1,375,000 to the East. Nor was this all. entirely new centers were being built up far superior to the more Southern ones. In 1836, Chicago had shipped 78 bushels of grain, in 1850, 1,831,000 bushels and in 1860, 31,100,000 bushels. Already by 1850 the number of hogs packed at Chicago had exceeded the number packed for the Southern market..
Not only Chicago, but innumerable Western towns became absolutely dependent for their livelihood on the railroad and on Eastern capitalists. Far from attacking the railroads, Western States did their utmost to bring them in. Every professional politician and lawyer, who could do so tried to get into the pay of the railroads, which in turn, were only too glad to link themselves up with the legal and political lights of the times.
Thus, in this tug of war between North and South for the West, the North had to emerge victorious. The discovery of gold in California hastened the need for complete victory. Now the North could afford to play its trump card, a card, which the South could never match, namely , a free homestead to every man.
We have seen that even in the early days of the 18th century, the pinch of high land prices had been felt. Now the enclosure of the common lands in New England, the relentless drive of the Southern plantations and the rapid growth of the country had created an ever present land hunger, which in the light of the vast continent that stretched before the Americans, created an absolutely intolerable set of contradictions. The commercialism of agriculture and the discovery of gold had raised all land prices and had caused a land dearth greater than ever. This only accelerated westward expansion and sharpened the demand for free land. Finally, there was the new powerful force, calling for rapid capitalist cultivation of the West, namely, the railroads, backed up by the new metal machinery factories springing up. Eastern railway and finance capitalists could now unite with the Western farmers to push the West to the limit.
The slogan for a free homestead for every man took on such momentum as to become irresistible. With this slogan, the East was able to split the Middle West away from the Southern squirearchy to which it had been wedded so long, and to build a new Republican Party, in 1856.
To the Northern capitalists the opening up of the West was needed for another reason. The revolutions of 1848 in europe had driven many revolutionary elements to these shores. These Irish, German and other colonists were far from docile. Settled in the new land they at once began to organize political societies and unions. The ‘50’s were marked with strikes and in the great crisis of 1857, the misery of the masses in the midst of plenty led to a dangerous situation. The Homestead Act was thus a measure calculated to stave off the Labor Problem becoming increasingly pressing in the Eastern cities. As the Beards put it: “Energies, which in the normal course of affairs would have been devoted to building up trade unions and framing schemes of social revolution were diverted to agitation in favor of a free farm for every working man, whether he wanted it or not.” (C.A. and M. Beard: Rise of American Civilization).
The economic battle, having been won so peacefully, it seemed that all that was necessary was to wait. But for this very reason the South could not wait. Up until 1860, it had dominating control of the Federal Government. Desperately it was trying to maintain this control and steadily it was losing out.
It has been popularly propagandized by historians and publicists that the Civil War was a struggle between a pre- capitalist slave system and modern capitalism. In this way, two ideas are emphasized: first, that slavery is incompatible with capitalism and second, that the Liberal capitalists freed the slaves. Here, then is another myth that has to be exploded.
The fact of the matter is that Negro slavery formed the very basis of the capitalist system in the United States. As we have seen it was the only way to get the laborer to work for another’s profit. It is estimated that about twelve million Africans were brought here in chains, not counting the untold millions killed in Africa or on the passage over.
During the Revolutionary War, Virginia Liberals and Pennsylvania Quakers declared against the slave trade and tried to stop further lawful importations. It was hard to maintain the principle of Slavery and the Declaration of Independence at the same time. (Indeed, later on the South was to denounce the Declaration of Independence.) Besides, the British were trying to stir up the slaves to rebellion. The newly imported Negroes were always the most recklessly militant and more time had to be allowed for their assimilation. The end of the slave trade, too, was calculated to deal a great blow to England and her West Indian colonies.
Ultimately, the deciding factors were economic, not political. The chief crop at the time, certainly in Virginia, the key State, was not cotton, but tobacco, and here white labor was decidedly superior. Besides, there was a great glut on the slave market. Already the South had become divided into regions in which the role that had been assigned to such States as Virginia and Maryland was that of a slave breeder. Thus, the struggle to stop the slave trade was at bottom a struggle to wipe out Virginia’s and Maryland’s foreign competition. And it was the New England States, particularly that most Liberal of all, Rhode Island, which blocked Virginia’s move.
In the end Virginia prevailed. With the termination of this foreign competition, Virginia was able to give some basis for its tradition of treating slaves well. To feed the slaves well and to bring them together so that they could produce plenty of slave children was a basic point in Virginia economy. And if the Negroes themselves would not produce enough children, the master could always call in the Negro women and either turn them over to his foremen or do the job himself. The South land, proud of its traditions of Southern chivalry, organized the greatest system of rape known to history.
In the ancient world where slavery was part of a self sufficient economy, and everything had to be produced on the place, the slave was often an educated craftsman. He was treated well and sometimes taken into the family. Such was not the slavery of the one-crop South, where cotton ruled. Education was forbidden. Conditions were fearful. Torture and terror were constantly applied. There was no redress save insurrection.
With the invention of the cotton gin, when great quantities of cotton could be shipped out to the world market, in other words, when the plantation system of the South became linked up with the capitalist system of the rest of the world, slavery became highly profitable and the number of slaves rapidly increased. The South became wedded to its `peculiar institution’.
But it was not only the South that benefitted. The Napoleonic Wars had accelerated the industrial revolution, particularly in cotton textiles. Cheap cotton became the very life food of British industries. It built up New England factories. It formed the basis of countless fortunes in every walk of life. As English cotton consumption jumped from 13,000 bales in 1781 to 3,386,000 bales in 1860, Southern production leaped to five million bales. Slavery made cotton king.
Here was the basic reason for the terrific hostility to the Abolition movement on the part of certain elements in the northern cities. These were the elements that were to sabotage the cause of the North. Now we can also better appreciate why so many British Liberals refused to aid the North in the Civil War. Gladstone wanted to get France and Russia to unite with England to stop the Civil War and thus recognize the South. Cobden argued that the South was more Liberal than the North since it believed in free trade! Bright believed that the South would be able to secede (but he didn’t want war with the United States), while Cairnes was sure that both the occasion and the moral feeing of Europe demanded that the South should be allowed to secede as this would be also better for the North! All these gentlemen had built their pyramids on the backs of Negro slavery and they were afraid their whole civilization would crash to earth.
Yet, by 1860, despite all, the South had come to the end of its rope. Slave labor was very wasteful and for it to be profitable there was needed an abundance of fertile soil and a crop, which demanded a steady combining of labor. Thus there arose large plantations, which could be devoted solely to cotton, for only cotton permitted large numbers of people to be used ten months in the year.
As the fertile soil became worn out, two methods were open to the Southern planter, namely, either the renewal of the soil through scientific methods of fertilization and use, or abandonment of the old plantation and utilization of fresh lands. Now the first alternative was completely closed to the Southern planter by the very institution of slavery. Slavery meant sparsity of population. It spelled the absence of towns and community isolation. It frowned on good highways and easy methods of communication. It meant dense ignorance. Only the coarsest and crudest tools could be given the slaves. The more machinery took hold in the grain belt, the more reactionary became slavery in the cotton belt.
Frenetically, the South took to the second alternative, territorial expansion. In spite of the sparsity of population, a ferocious land hunger made itself felt, forcing the South to push on towards the West. Slavery took Florida. It took Louisiana. It took Texas. it sent marauding expeditions into Mexico, into Cuba, into Nicaragua. Crowding behind the Mason-Dixon line, the South turned its attention to the North. it sent its `poor white trash’ into Kansas and Nebraskan Border Ruffians to terrorize the countryside. But the Border Ruffians were met by the John Browns. Finally, through its mouthpiece, Chief Justice Taney, it decided in the Bred Scott Case that there would no longer be recognized any territorial limits to slavery.
So, by 1860, the issue had now become clear—All or nothing: Either unlimited expansion, or the South would be choked to death by the operating law of diminishing returns. Feverish foreign policy became choleric domestic policy. The irrepressible conflict was at hand.
FASCIST PROTOTYPES (III)
The revolutions of 1848 brought the Catholic Church actively into the social scene. The clergy viewed with dismay the rise of large bodies of discontented workmen, who were moving towards a militant atheism in the course of their struggle. If the church was to retain its hold upon these people, it was absolutely necessary for it to enter into the social problem with a will and to espouse the cause of the poor. In this way, not only would the Catholic Church maintain its standing, but the cause of social order would be subserved.
The Catholics were all the more ready to join forces in the criticism against business, since they had always regarded modern capitalism as coincident with the Reformation, which had both deprived the Catholic Church of its property and had brought forth poverty and misery in its trend. Thus a Catholic Socialism was born, which attempted to link the ideals of Socialism together with the idylls of the church.
Such people took pains to prove that the early Christians were Communists and that there are no dicta of Jesus to the effect that private property is holy. They pointed out, too that when the church possessed a good part of the land of the country, as in the ninth century, when half the soil of Italy was in its hands, or in the 11th century in England and in Germany—the condition of the poor of those times was much better than when the church lost her estates. They never ceased to expound the need for the termination of irresponsible Liberalism and for the re- establishment of mutual duties and responsibilities.
In Germany special conditions existed to enable the Catholics to attain a Socialist position relatively early. In the first place, the Catholics there were a minority, whose standing was by no means secure. later, under the pressure of Bismarck, a regular Kulturkampf would be inaugurated against them to wipe out their influence within the German nation. Secondly, the Catholics were strong where the discontent of 1845 had been manifest. The church could not fail to be touched by the demands of its parishioners. Then, too, it believed that by attaching itself to the cause of the workers, it would be able eventually to support Lutheranism and regain Germany for itself. Thus it was the Monsignor Kettler of Mayence could heartily go along with the Lassallean movement, and write his book on the “Labor Question and Christianity".
These actions of the Catholic Church, however, only infuriated the hard boiled Prussian reactionists, who saw in the tactics of the Catholics, not merely aid to the workers, but an attempt to mobilize the masses of the Catholic regime of Bavaria and the Southwest against Prussia and to connect them with Catholic Austria. To Bismarck, the struggle against the Catholic Church was a struggle for German unity. And, after the defeat of Austria in 1866, it became plain to him that a vigorous war must be staged to drive the Catholics out of the country.
In the meantime, to entrench themselves further, a great many Catholic clergyman embraced Lassalle’s views, and in 1869, on the eve of their being driven into illegality, they met in convention and adopted a program for Catholic social societies. At Fulda the German bishops drafted a program which declared: “It is, therefore, necessary to come to the assistance of the working class: (1) By providing against misery and want. (2) By providing for the rooting out of vice. (3) By providing for the improvement of the moral and intellectual condition of the working class. (4) By organizing labor and wages so as to improve the workmen’s condition (increase of wages in proportion to length of service, profit sharing, etc). (5) By encouraging the workman to love his home. (6) By favoring habits of thrift. (7) By promoting harmony among factory people. (8) By endeavoring to maintain cordial relations between workmen and employers. (9) By alternating industrial and agricultural labors. (10) By protecting the morals of working girls. (11) By rendering it possible for mothers of families and married women to attend to their domestic duties.”
The Fulda program also came out for promoting legislation in favor of the working classes and thus proposed the prohibition of the labor of young children, the limitation of the work hours of growing youths, the separation of men and women in workshops, factories and so forth, the forced closing of all unhealthy workshops, the limitations of the hours of labor, the assurance of a day’s rest on Sunday, the granting of indemnities to all workmen, who without any fault of their own, became temporarily or permanently unfit for work, the granting of local guarantees to trade unions, the ensuring of the observance of the social laws by means of energetic State control, and similar measures. (See F. Nitte: Catholic Socialism).
For its inspiration, the German Catholic Socialist movement went back to the guilds of medieval times. At first it tried to organize mixed guilds of men and masters, but when this failed it organized workers only. During this period, however, its chief base was rather in the regions where the artisan and handicraftsman still prevails and where their interests could be linked up nationally with the rich landowners rather than with the mass of workers in the industrial cities. Their ideal was expressed by Pope Leo XII’s Encyclical, namely, that “The corporations, which would be set up under the aegis of religion would aid at making all their members contented with their lot, patient in toil and disposed to lead a tranquil, happy life.”
The answer of the ruling class to the social Catholic action was to attempt to win the workers themselves through their own school of State Socialism. The forerunner of this movement was Rodbertus; the practical maneuverer was Bismarck. The theoretical work was continued by Wagner and Schueller and the Socialists of the Chair.
Rodbertus was a product of the turmoil of 1848 when he became State Minister of Education. He intimately consorted with both Lassalle and Bismark, and tried more or less successfully to get them both to work together. His chief idea was that since labor created all value, the State should take a hand in improving the system of distribution to enable the laborers to have more. he advocated a gradual nationalization of industries where each worker could go to a given distribution point and turn in `labor notes’ instead of money to receive his just deserts. This was the way also to prevent revolutions.
Rodbertus himself could make little impression among the workers since he enjoined them to leave capital and land ownership in existence, not to found trade unions, nor cooperative societies, nor to demand protective legislation. He was also opposed to the independent politics of the proletarian. What Rodbertus wanted above all was to tie up the workers with the agrarian Junker elements against the big bourgeoisie and in this he was able to win Lassalle practically to his side.
Bismarck proceeded from the proposition that the State was a Christian institution and that there were mutual responsibilities between the citizens and the State. Upon the citizens of the State were imposed social duties. The business of the state was to see that these were faithfully discharged. In his early youth Bismarck had spoken for the formation anew of the compulsory guild as a remedy for over production. Later, he was able to help organize guilds for artisans in the last quarter of the century. It should be kept in mind that it was only under the blows of the French Revolution in 1811 that guild privileges had been abolished, together with other vestiges of serfdom in Germany, and that even in 1848 the guild remnants had played a role under the influence of Mario.
With Bismarck, as with other Germans, what was omnipotent was not the nation nor the government or administration, but the State. This view of the Prussian ruling group could well be understood when it is seen into how many principalities Germany was broken up, how great was the pressure of foreign nations upon it, and how vital for the country’s progress to establish unity. upon the sender of a parcel from Koenigsberg to Metz, it was incumbent to calculate the freight of this consignment according to the rates of nearly fifteen hundred different tariffs.
It was no wonder that the German Liberals were so unpopular with their theories of free trade. Bismarck was never in sympathy with them and rested the might of Germany not upon manufacture, but upon agriculture and the land. This was the general view of the patricians in charge of Prussia at that time.
The theories of paternalism found their practical exponent in Bismarck, who adopted such an attitude towards the workers. In treating with the Socialists Bismarck adopted the double policy of trying to terrorize them out of existence and of taking away their claims by establishing a more or less completes system of social reform improving the lot of the workers without giving them the possibility of controlling the State, while connecting their interests to the State rather than to either the revolutionists or the Catholics.
Soon Bismarck’s laws were rationalized by governmental theoreticians. These formed the school of State Socialists of the Chair, so called because it was composed predominantly of professors, who held Chairs in universities. The policy of these State Socialists was the enactment of a complete system of factory and general industrial laws, the creation of an adequate tariff system to protect the internal economy of Germany, the establishment of sufficient taxes to ensure responsibility to social undertakings, the growth of State undertakings, especially railways, the formation of State monopolies, and an adequate colonial system.
According to the State Socialists, all employers and workmen ought to be grouped into corporations. No one should be allowed to exercise a trade unless belonging to the corresponding guild, nor be admitted to a corporation previous to having undergone an examination to test his capacity; the admissions should never exceed the limits of a number fixed by each body. The great industrial establishments should form themselves into district or national corporations, and all the guilds of the same trade…ought to unite so as to form national federations.
And many State Socialists do not stop here. They would have the State to regulate not only production, but even population; they maintain that legislation besides placing a restriction on freedom in choice of residence, prohibiting all emigration from the rural districts and the rapid population of the large cities, should also put a check on marriage among proletarians.” (F. Nitti: work cited)
As can be seen,the State Socialism of these worthies was really a supplementation of private capitalism with a highly developed regime of control blending into a system of State capitalism. These people, therefore, were rather `collectivists’ then Socialists. Except for vague expressions of such men as Rodbertus, who put forth Utopian schemes of labor notes, the philosophy of the German professors was merely one of complete expansion of State control to cover all the activities of the modern social life. Very often it took on an anti-Semitic character, as did the platform of the Catholic Socialists, particularly in Austria and South Germany. In their anti-Semitic agitation, these collectivists warned that the internationalist Jewish Rothschild family possessed one-quarter of Bohemia, or a wealth seven times that of the Imperial family. It was sinister that the Jews controlled one-third of Hungary and were in charge of all the important banks. Ominous, too, were the holdings of more than a million and a half Jews, who resided in Austria and had a choking control of internal economic life. Such Catholic Socialists called on the State to take this control away from the capitalists in general and from the Jews first of all.
With the failure of the anti-Catholic laws, Catholic Socialism became accepted in Germany as an extremely important aid to social control. The Prussian-German State was now eager to make this alliance with the Catholics in the light of the extensive growth of the Marxist movement. This was a period of vigorous organization of Catholic trade unions in competition with the Marxists, the Catholics attempting to adopt for their own interests quite a number of labor theories. They even advanced the view that their unions could gradually become organs of labor legislation and that the State could entrust them with the discharge of such functions because of their special qualities. They promised that all questions affecting the interests of a trade, hours of labor, Sunday observance, apprenticeship, sanitary conditions of the workshops, the labor of women and children, and the rate of wages paid, instead of being regulated as they then were by brutal inflexible laws seldom suited to most every individual case, should henceforth be settled by the union, and the raise of the union would be incumbent upon all the members of the trade or profession, both masters and men.
In France the Social Catholic movement also developed at the same time. At first the question had to be settled within the Catholic Church whether it should favor democracy or not, the affirmative being taken by De Toqueville and Lammennais. Since the democratic struggles in the early days of the 19th century were connected with acts of revolution, the Pope in 1832 took occasion to write against this view, denying that freedom of conscience and liberty of the press were unqualified rights, and repreving those, who incited people to revolt against their princes. (P.T. Moon: The Labor Problem and the Social Catholic Movement in France.) This stand against democracy as a political instrument by the church was reinforced after the revolution of 1848 and culminated in the empire of Napoleon III, who strongly favored the Catholic Church. However, the democratic tendency more or less persisted, with the pioneers of the social Catholics maintaining five principles, namely opposition to the Liberal economists, an appeal to Christian morals of charity, faith in labor organizations adapted to the guild system, minimum wage for all, and social legislation.
After the Paris Commune, the church, so as to become a counterweight to the Socialists, was forced to change its position regarding democracy and the necessity of social reform. In 1872, working men’s clubs were started by Count Albert De Mun, which in 1884 had 50,000 members, and by 1900 had risen to 60,000. De Mun took a position with the extreme Right.
From the very beginning, the social Catholic movement was linked up with monarchic ideals. The Third French Republic, in order to maintain its control over education and its political integrity was forced in 1877-1878 to engage in a sharp struggle against the Catholic clergy. The efforts of the social Catholic movement were therefore an attempt on the part of the church to obtain a mass base for a counter attack against the republic. De Mun, claiming that it was the French Revolutionary Law of 1791 forbidding all association and all organization of labor that was responsible for social disorder, constantly tried to make it appear as though the bourgeois republicans were breeders of revolution while the monarchy favored social reform. This view was abetted by the legitimist pretender to the throne, the Count de Chaubard, who was distinctly aware of the value of a social program as a political asset and tried to make out the monarchy as the historic protector of the right to organize.
De Mun was strongly for the limitation of competition, for association of common interests, for imposing upon the emperor the duties of patronage, for the uplift of labor and the conditions of the laborer. Against Marxism the social Catholics were active in promoting labor unions of a Catholic character and for favorable legislation against child labor. (This has not been the position of the Catholic Church in the United States, however, where it has been a principled opponent to legislation prohibiting child labor). For the protection of women from injurious industrial exploitation, for the establishment of social insurance and similar matters. In France the social Catholics helped to enact the law of 1884, which has been called the Charter of French Trade Unionism. Just as in Germany, there was organized a Catholic or `Center Party’,so the social Catholics in France were embodied in the “Action Liberale Populaire".
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the social Catholic movement was able to claim considerable successes for its efforts, especially in building up affiliated unions. In Germany, the Catholic unions with the aid of the state had over a million members even after the war. In Italy, the Catholic Italian Federation of Workers also was of considerable size.
The principles of the Catholic union were quite different than those of the free trade union movement. The latter was Marxist and preached the need of class struggle. The Christian and Catholic trade unions believed that work was a joy. Classes were to be regarded as groups to be organized according to their occupation. Each class was to know its place and to have mutual responsibilities. The State must help the poor with reforms and be charitable like the church. The slogan was “Live and let live.” The Catholic and Christian unions did not believe in the strike, but were an agency for class collaboration, advocating pacifist persuasion and religious non-resistance. By means of faith and prayer, both employer and worker, the lion and the lamb, could lie down side by side without one being inside the other. Thus would the golden rule of “Peace on earth and good will to men,” be realized.
It is in Italy especially that the Catholic unions were able to show their value to the employers in the struggle against revolution through the activity of the Italian Confederation of workers. This organization was part of a general social Catholic network which derived its sanction from the well known encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII, issued in 1891, called erum Novarum, “On the Condition of Labor". This encyclical maintained the right of property, and consequently rejected Socialism, but prescribed for the various social classes reciprocal duties with the object of effectively and permanently harmonizing their relations.
The Catholic Church organized its syndicalism movement centered in the Italian Confederation of Workers to which was affiliated the National Syndicates or Federations, and afterwards the local Unions of Labor. All of these organizations differed from regular unions in rejecting the principle of uncompromising struggle and by the recognition and utilization of moral factors derived from Christianity. They advocated the effective sharing by the workers of the profits in the management and in the property of the undertaking.
Following this principle, Catholic Syndicalism tended also to promote Parliamentary Reform with the object of having in the Senate a technical organization elected by the occupational associations. Catholic Syndicalism further aimed at attaining internationalism, which from the field of labor should extend to the political field through disarmament, international arbitration and so forth. This Catholic group of unions was closely connected with the Popular Party, which arose in 1919 and was an extremely reactionary organization to fight the revolution.
No sooner did the revolutionary movement develop sharply in Italy then there was to be seen an enormous increase in the number of Catholic unions, as the employers mobilized their ranks to struggle against the rule of the workers. The membership of the Italian Confederation of Workers jumped from 200,000 in 1919 to 1,250,000 in 1920.
This movement soon receded. The Catholic Unions were not capable of saving the day although it was true that the Catholic unions in Italy well prepared the way for the Fascist unions which were to follow.
First of all, the fight was no longer on the economic front, but was a matter of who was to rule the country. Secondly, the ideology of Christian Socialism rendered it unfit to meet the violent problems of the hour. Once the Fascists took power they built their own organizations, and the special Catholic Unions were forced to disappear shrinking to 180,000 members in 1925, and further downward until they are practically non-existent today.
Brutal Fascist unions and humanitarian guild unions were mutual blood brothers in their struggle against Marxism and the class struggle and in their support of capitalist property and class collaboration. If, then, we ask why the Catholic unions had to be reformed into Fascist organizations, we have to see the different character of the epochs which necessitated these two groups. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Marxism was to be fought by means of social reforms and against the theory of revolution by violence there was to be inculcated the doctrine of peaceful persuasion. The Catholic Church was an excellent instrument for this propaganda, since for centuries it had constantly told the poor to `turn the other cheek’ and to `render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars’. Thus, the Christian Socialism was useful to demoralize the ranks of the workers and to deprive them of militancy. After the World War, however, a different task awaited the employers. Platitudinous discussion had to give way to the methods of castor oil, bayonet, and terror. The Catholic Church gladly turned over its organization to the Fascists for this new purpose, so that a more appropriate program could be worked out in the light of the exigencies of the times. ( to be continued )
THE AUTO STRIKE
Even though the actual settlement of the strike is a victory for General Motors, yet the auto strike marks a new high point of struggle for the working class of this country. We do not say this in the sense of the old Wobblies, who looked upon any strike as worth while, regardless of the outcome. Rather, we see that the workers are on the road to developing a new technique for the mass industries, which while it may not be able decisively to defeat the big corporations, is deepening the class struggle and putting the workers’ consciousness on a higher plane.
For the first time a strike has become wide spread throughout one big section of the auto industry. As compared with the general textile strike of 1933, the recent auto strike has been of lesser proportions, but on the other hand, it has been seated in the heavy industries and it has tackled an enemy of much greater power, one of the country’s foremost corporations.
The General Motors strike marks the culmination of several sporadic attempts to organize the industry and of several previous battles since 1933, which were frustrated by the intervention of the Labor Boards. The United Automobile Workers Association brings a greater degree of unity into the auto workers’ ranks, taking in as it does three former unions. Yet it must be recognized that the auto workers are still for the greater part unorganized. The union is said to represent about one-quarter of the workers in the plants struck. The building of a powerful union is still in its beginning for the industry as a whole. The Company Union still remains a menace to be fought.
Likewise we can say that the sit-down tactic has here for the first time been employed on a broad scale covering at times as many as forty plants in thirty-five cities and fourteen States. It has proven its worth as a major method of strike strategy. Side by side with the auto strike have taken place lesser sit-down strikes in Detroit, Flint, Chicago, Los Angeles and other places. It is very evident that the new period of strike struggles opening up in 1933 is continuing after only very temporary lulls. That the strike wave now takes the sit-down form testifies not merely to the continual restiveness of the masses, but to their keener class consciousness.
One cannot get away from the fact that the sit-down strike is a direct threat to capitalist property. The auto strikers may never have heard of the Communist Manifesto, but for 40 days they held the bosses’ property. Having held it once, having kept out the owners and their representatives from the factory, the question of ownership of the means of production is bound to suggest itself to the workers’ minds. Temporary occupation points the way to seizure and permanent ownership. Property rights were disregarded in the General Motors strike with a truly American high handedness.
There was no destruction of machinery, but while the strikers in this respect were very careful, they did not hesitate to make themselves comfortable on company property, adapting car cushions as beds and in one plant setting up private sitting rooms in the unfinished car bodies, which were at hand.
The actual numbers of the sit-downers was not large (the percent of the total workers ranged from five to sixteen per cent in the occupied plants in Flint, but they held on grimly to these factories, which in a sense had become inanimate hostages in the class battle. `Win or bust’, was the workers’ slogan and against the workers’ occupation of the factories, the owners’ injunction ordering them to get out fell flat. The sheriff, who served the injunction had to sneak up like a fool before a barred gate and hand it in to the workers in possession. The order to get out never bothered these workers nor budged them an inch. Tear gas bombs and clubs failed to rout them. One can imagine with what frothing at the mouth, employers throughout the country must have watched this incursion against their sacred class rights. Never again can factories be regarded as the inalienable eternal property of capitalists. The sit-down strikers have taken a huge step forward towards the social revolution.
Violence is nothing new in strikes in this country, but the General Motor strike showed an innovation here too. This time, it was not the union hall that was turned into a beleaguered fortress as in Centralia, Washington or in Gastonia, North Carolina, It was the bosses’ factory that was barricaded with bars at the doors. Not merely that but the workers used the raw materials and machinery of General Motors to manufacture weapons, such as crow bars and black jacks. The settlement of the strike prevented a decisive test as in the ability of the sit-down strikers to withstand a determined attempt of the corporation to rout them by means of troops from their stronghold.
We have pointed out in a previous article on the sit-down strike (February Class Struggle) that this method of struggle closely links up the home and the striking factory through the medium of the women and children, who cannot abandon the striking husband and father, but come to the factory to baring him food and cheer. In this respect, the sit-down strike has a great advantage over the ordinary strike where often it is possible for a backward wife to break down a striker’s spirit. In the General Motors strike the participation of the women assumed a highly dramatic form in the organization of the Womens’ Emergency Brigade. In these militant groups the women, armed with great sticks and clubs, patrolled the streets and when a fight was at hand were to be found in the thick of it. Militant participation in strikes is far from being a novelty but the organization of women in armed bands, with avowed intention of being on hand when there was `trouble’ marks a higher stage than has been seen before. This makes us realize the importance of the women even in the heavy industries.
Actually there are considerable numbers of women in the auto and even in the steel industry. The plants involved in this strike, however, were body and motor manufacturing plants, the heaviest part of the industry, in which the numbers of women and youth are much less than in those plants making the lighter parts, such as the Ternstedt plant in Detroit for example. Apparently, there were no women among the strikers occupying the auto plants, but their work on the outside was essential in carrying on the strike.
This question is part of a bigger one, namely, that in a strike of the extent of this one, the sit-down tactic is not sufficient in itself; it must be supplemented by the action of the workers outside, who are in this case the majority. Picket lines are conducted, mass meetings are held, food collections are organized. These activities now subordinated to the needs of the sit-downers in the factory, take on a different form from in the ordinary strike, but they are just as necessary. The sit-down strike is no exception to the rule of any strike that the surrounding working class must be stirred up and all possible elements including the lower middle class, such as shop keepers, artisans and professional people, must be drawn in, not merely to win the support of `public opinion’, for the strike but for the actual help which such people can give. Store keepers can extend credit; lawyers and doctors cay give their surgeries without charge, etc. This is all part of the necessary strike strategy.
The solidarity of the workers reached an amazing height in the General Motors strike. When the situation in Flint became critical and that town appeared as the hub of the struggle, workers totalling thousands marched into Flint from cities as far as one hundred miles away, not only from Detroit, and Pontiac, but from as far away as Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio. Workers in these cities actually left their jobs to join the marching columns coming to the help of Flint. Actions of somewhat similar nature have been seen before. In coal mine strikes, it has long been customary for the miners of one camp to march many miles accompanied by their wives and daughters, to pull out another mine. This is a tactic conditioned by the isolated situation of the coal miners. In the general textile strike of 1934, there were `flying squadrons’ which went rapidly from mill-town to mill-town to extend the strike. These bands, however, were under the direction of the professional organizers of the strike. In the auto strike there was something quite different—a spontaneous solidarity in which the workers on their own initiative undertook these long marches in order to pool their forces in struggle. In fact, we can say that from beginning to end the auto strike was characterized by a high degree of initiative and militant solidarity springing from the rank and file. The auto workers have well learned the lesson that a national trust of the size of General Motors cannot be combatted without the broadest solidarity in labor’s ranks.
We have so far emphasized the progressive features of the general motors strike. However, notwithstanding the excellent fight which the workers put up, the `settlement’ obtained was a miserable failure. We cannot point to any real gain in a single one of the terms, which the union leaders accepted for sending the men back to work. The demands of the strikers had shown a high degree of social consciousness. The demand for the thirty hour week was no petty bread and butter demand aiming to satisfy simply the immediate needs of those on strike. It was a demand, which attempted to solve unemployment and thus was based upon class needs rather than solely upon individual group needs, similarly with the demand for a minimum wage. As for the other demands of the General Motor Workers, namely, for abolition of piece work and of speed up. These demands actually represent an attempt in the direction of control of production. The speed of the belt has been depriving the workers of their life force to such an extent that they want to have something to say about regulating that speed, which makes them old men before their time.
Such demands as these seem to indicate that the workers expect some realization of the many promises made by Roosevelt for whom many of the workers had voted. The workers struck probably expecting Roosevelt to back up their demands, which were in line with the program he had given out of protecting the interests of labor. In fact a sign was carried in one of the strikes proclaiming. “Roosevelt is with us". The prevalence of the american flag everywhere in the demonstrations likewise may have indicated that the workers felt sure they were within the protection of the administration. The General Motor strikers seem to have followed a similar impulse to that which caused the wave of sit-down strikes in France last summer following the election of the Blum government. The politicians had made their promises; now the workers were testing them out: Let the politicians come across!
Not one of these demands of the workers is even mentioned in the final agreement. Everything is left to be `settled’ by arbitration after the men have returned to work. What this means, the experience of countless strikes proves. Not a thing will be granted that the men have fought for, at most a little wage increase will be handed out which can be taken back whenever convenient. Incidentally these wage increases have been handed out generally in many industries, owing to the fact that the country is entering into the profitable armament race with huge dividends especially for the metal and war armament firms.
The only one of the union’s demands taken up is that of recognition of the union. But the way in which this is granted is far from being a victory for the union. The corporation recognizes the United Auto Workers Association as the union of its members. But there are other `unions’ in the industry, including the company unions and the Flint Alliance. As for these, General Motors promises for six months, to allow the question of whether it will deal with them or not to rest on the decision of Governor Murphy. To believe this clause represents victory must be to have a touching faith indeed in the working class sympathies of capitalist politicians. In the meantime the union promises not to do any recruiting on company property, which means that as far as the remaining three-quarters of the workers are concerned who are not yet in the union, presumptively, the union members are to keep mum on the job regarding joining the organization.
The real intentions of the corporation towards the future of the union have already been shown in the events of Anderson, Indiana. General Motors will continue to rely on its old methods of gangsterism and terror to break up the union. It will continue to rely on heavy employment of spies and stool pigeons to prevent organization. The testimony before the La Follette Senate Committee recently has shown that the majority of the officials of the Lansing Local of the United Auto Workers were Pinkerton employees. The Black Legion has not figured openly in the recent strike, but some things such as the events in Anderson, Indians, the smashing of the union organizers’ car in Flint, and the whole set up of the Flint Alliance, savor strongly of the Black Legion. The auto workers will have to fight tooth and nail to keep the organization they have built up so far.
There is no doubt but that the auto magnates will now seriously get to work to build up more powerful Black Legions than ever before. This first wave of sit-down strikes caught the employers by surprise, as it caught the union officials, the Lewises, the Homer Martins and the others, who rushed in to capitalize on the situation. These officials openly admitted in the beginning of the strike that they could not catch up with the workers, who were moving so fast with so many new surprises that the officials looked ridiculously behind the times. The events in Chicago, where the strikers were bombed out of the plant and the events in Los Angeles, where all the strikers are faced with criminal indictments and where they were forced to flee the Douglas plant in fear of mass terror against them, all show that the employers are recovering from their surprise and mean to take adequate measures for their protection.
One of the measures of the employers will have to be the mobilization of their private armies of gunmen and the formation of their Black legions, ostensibly to fight the reds but in reality to smash all strikes and militant demonstrations of whatever character. In the face of this terror the unions will have to learn how to work illegally as well as legally and above all, they will have to learn how to form their labor defense bodies, composed not of women armed with sticks, but of all the most stalwart men, particularly veterans, who will defend their rights to the utmost. One cannot dream of engaging in such a form of struggle as a sit- down strike without being prepared for the most bloody reprisals on the part of the infuriated employers.
But such actions of defense on the part of the workers is precisely what the John Lawises and Homer Martins will not be able to tolerate since the struggle then takes on a sanguinary character looking to revolution. Only a real revolutionary party can lead the men under such circumstances. Such a real revolutionary party does not exist at the present moment. All the so called workers parties, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party have united to hail the strike settlement as a great victory and to unqualifiedly endorse the rotten bureaucracy at the head of the union and the C.I.O. Nothing can be expected either from the Socialists or from the Stalinists except betrayal of the workers. The new party will have to be formed eventually, however, and the more the bosses take to Black Legions and Fascist formations, the sooner will the workers react in the proper manner.
Incidentally, it is most interesting to note that the Flint Alliance, those scabs of General Motors, raised the slogan, “We Want Work". How foolish the Socialists and Communist Stalinists must have looked when they saw the slogan, which they had raised for years, against the protests of the Communist League of Struggle, now being used to justify scabbing and strike breaking. Now that the workers had moved to physical workers’ control over production, the slogan, “We Want Work”, under capitalist control showed itself for what it really was, the slogan of counter revolutionists, of Fascists, of scabs and strike breakers and Pinkerton thugs.
The settlement engineered by John L. Lewis as the chief labor representative shows what labor can expect from the committee on Industrial Organization (C.I.O.). Lewis and the C.I.O. are now riding on the crest of a wave of popularity as the result of this strike, but all that is really due to them is the sell out settlement. From first to last, the initiative and conduct of the strike are due to the workers themselves. This strike testifies to the wonderful resourcefulness and one may almost say revolutionary spirit of the American workers. The settlement warns the workers that part of their struggle must be the struggle against their misleaders of the C.I.O. and U.A.W.A., just as in the AFL. While the industrial form of organization is in itself an immense advantage over the craft form, outside of this there is nothing `progressive’ in the trade union split. A Left Wing must be formed that will take a definite stand exposing the Lewis leadership with its class collaboration policy hiding behind and betraying the militancy of the workers.
A few remarks are in order regarding the role of Roosevelt and Murphy in this strike. One of the great aims of the Roosevelt regime is to make the employers of this country see that they cannot operate through direct action and run the country any way they please informally, but they must work through the State apparatus, which is their only safe medium of social control. Those who voted for Landon, and they are the employers, who were affected by the auto strike, have not yet realized that a minimum State and individualism are no longer on the order of the day. They must be taught a lesson to respect the state and the Administration that runs the State. Just as Roosevelt was not averse to huge N.R.A. parades to bring the employers into line in 1933, so he was not averse to huge strikes affecting his individualist private property opponents so as to make them come to him and his State apparatus for protection.
This effect the strike brought about nicely. The employers were forced to run to Roosevelt, who turned them over to Murphy, for protection. When they shouted for soldiers none were brought in. When they demanded National Guardsmen, Murphy sent them in, but in return took the leadership in the negotiations, and took all the credit for them. the bosses of Michigan had to realize bitterly that they could not do without the State controlled by the Democratic Party. They understood very well that the strikers would have annihilated any of their private thugs and sheriff deputies that would have opened fire against them. In no country has the Fascist scum been successful against the workers without the State aid. Here is one great reason why there was no terrible bloodshed in the auto strike. The real gainers in the strike settlement were the State bureaucrats, the Murphys, the Perkinses and the Roosevelts. Both the labor officials and the owners owe the State officials a huge debt of thanks.
We have already remarked in previous articles why the State is now interested in unionism. In Italy, in Germany and elsewhere the rulers have built their own unions under the control of the State. This is now being accomplished in England quietly and gradually. Roosevelt is attempting it in this country. The basic reason for this is that today the mass of unskilled workers are capable of organizing themselves and articulating their needs. Such workers can only take the path of violent revolutionary struggle. They must be controlled at all costs; by bringing them closer to the State; mixing them with higher paid workers and diluting their ardor, by placing the blood hounds of the labor fakers on their trail. The very strike under discussion, the General Motors strike shows how necessary the Lewises and Martins were. The workers went on strike without these gentlemen; without their advice they took control of the factories. Suppose there had been no Lewises, would it not have led to pitched bloody battles? Suppose the troops and thugs of General motors would have won in the first struggle, would this not have led only to more revolutionary struggles? Would not the hundreds of dead workers been gigantic beacons calling on the workers to carry on the fight to the end? Thus we see the old slug policy of General Motors must be considered as out of date and dangerous in the present era. John L. Lewises are needed by the bosses. It is safer and cheaper to have them. And so the government backs him and talks of the necessity of `vertical unionism’.
But since the industrialists of the middle West are not as acute as the bankers of the East, who have learned these lessons from Europe long ago, they must be bullied into line for their own good. And for the same reason, the William Greens, who did loyal service in the auto strike for the employers, doing the most to break the strike and the solidarity of the workers, must be given a good whipping and taught a lesson they will never forget.
In spite of the settlement, we cannot call a total defeat an action, which had raised the workers’ consciousness to such a high plane. But above all it becomes clear that there is no solution to the fight against the big corporations within the framework of capitalism. Even where they are forced to make considerable concessions to the workers as in France last June, they are able to take away what the workers have gained. The correct tactic now is to raise such slogans as will push still further the workers’ instinctive movements in the direction of expropriation of the capitalists. “Workers Control over Production”, is such a slogan. The alternative is to accept the sell out. But the workers must continue and extend the occupation of the factories, raising this slogan. The auto strike has moved the working class a long way on the road to challenging capitalism and taking over the means of production for themselves.
SPANISH YOUTH ORGANIZE REVOLUTIONARY FRONT
We have received a letter from the Iberian Communist Youth, Youth section of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (P.O.U.M.) which asks us to give publicity to their statement on the important problem of unity in action of all the Spanish working youth. The statement declares the following objectives must be obtained: 1. The liquidation of the bourgeois past; 2. The winning of the war against Fascism; 3. The realization of the Socialist Revolution. We give the statement in full:
For the Front of the Revolutionary Working Youth
The Spanish Revolution, provoked by the exploiting classes and carried out by the revolutionary proletariat and principally by the working youth, is one of the most important achievements that the history of humanity records.
It is precisely when Fascism, the last recourse of the bankrupt system of capitalist slavery, is entrenching itself in Italy, in Germany and in Austria, when it threatens to enslave the working youth of Belgium, of France, of Cuba and of many other countries, when it feels itself strong, and launches the attack, when an atmosphere of pessimism extends itself throughout the entire proletarian world, it is then that the working youth takes up arms, destroys the fascist militarism, supports the ruined edifice of the bourgeois republic, beats down the regime of capitalist exploitation and prepares itself for the construction of a new order of things.
The Spanish Revolution will inaugurate probably a cycle of wars and revolutions, which will draw in definitely the power of great capital and of all the oppressive forces of the world.
In Spain, as in all the world, there must be faced in all squareness the following alternatives: Proletarian Revolution or Fascism: The triumph of the working class: Or the victory of the bourgeois exploiters.
There is not, there cannot be any other way out.
At the present time, we are obliged to wage a war to the death against Spanish Fascism. Notwithstanding the fact that they struggle against the united Fascist armies of Germany and Italy on the side of France, the working youth do not fight, as some would have it believed, in order to expel Spanish Fascism from our country, but we battle to overwhelm Fascism whether it be national or foreign and to crush at the same time the capitalist system of Spain and of the whole world.
We struggle then for three essential objectives: To liquidate the vestiges of the bourgeois past; 2. To win the war from Fascism; 3. To realize the proletarian revolution.
In order to bring to a head this gigantic task, the revolutionary working youth should march, work and fight unitedly. The unity of action gave us victory on the 18th of July and this same unity will give us complete victory. The nub of the question now is: How to obtain , how to establish this unity of action?
At this point it is necessary to speak against the formula of an abstract youth front, since this is a reactionary formula. The youth front realized in various countries and also in Madrid and Valencia, does not satisfy us in the least because it does not group together all the working youth organizations, because it does not have a revolutionary program and because it proposes an alliance of all the Spanish Youth indiscriminately.
What we desire is the front of the revolutionary working youth; that is to say, a front, which groups together all the organizations of the working youth, which has a revolutionary program and class objectives, which struggles without equivocation to put an end to the bourgeois regime.
We do not push away the petty bourgeois youth; but we cannot concede to them a militancy similar to that which we give to the organizations of the working youth. The republican youth is condemned to disappear. We, who desire to unite the forces of all the anti-fascist youth, we offer them a place in our ranks on condition that they accept our class and revolutionary program.
Objectives of the Front of the Revolutionary Working Youth
A. To liquidate the traces of the bourgeois past.
1. The abolition of the bourgeois constitution of the 14th of April.
2. The dissolution of the parliaments.
3. Dissolution of the armed bourgeois bodies.
4. Dissolution of the organizations of bourgeois justice.
5. Energetic purging of the bureaucracy.
6. Suppression of the big salaries.
7. Break with the League of Nations and abolition of the Methods of bourgeois diplomacy.
8. Assembly of delegates from factory committees and of representatives from the peasantry and from the soldiers at the front.
9. Political and social rights for all youth over 18 years of age without distinction of sex.
10. A revolutionary workers government elected by this Assembly.
11. Creation of a Revolutionary Workers’ Army.
12. Organization of a workers police.
13. Creation of popular tribunals in all parts of the country and the organization of a workers justice.
14. To open the educational centers and to organize them on the basis of socialist principles controlled by the working youth.
B. To win the war.
1. To mobilize the entire youth, whether bourgeois or proletarian, to win the war against Fascism.
2. United command and workers army.
3. Creation of a working youth bureau.
4. Military preparation of the entire youth, including females.
5. Purification of the war schools.
6. Not a single youth without work: Bourgeois youth to be given secondary work on fortifications, etc.
7. To help in the organization of a powerful war industry.
8. The organization of voluntary and obligatory work in order to win the war.
C. Proletarian Revolution.
1. To intensify the socialist character of the revolution in all classes.
2. Creation of a new proletarian economy.
3. Socialization of big industry, of transport and of banks.
4. Monopoly of foreign commerce.
5. Abolition of all debts.
6. Municipalation of dwelling houses, transportation and other public services.
7. Socialization of the land.
D. General Objectives.
1. Active participation of the working youth in all the organizations of the revolution.
2. Freedom of action for the front of the revolutionary working youth.
3. Creation of the front throughout Spain.
4. To establish the international solidarity with all the revolutionary youth throughout the world.
5. Freedom of criticism.
6. Condemnation of the campaigns of slander and calumny among the workers’ youth organizations.
The Executive Committee of the Iberian Communist Youth
We add to this statement the following:
Political Resolution of the Central Committee of the P.O.U.M.
We have in Spain a new situation, which descends new organs of power.
This document clearly and concretely points the way to the new organ of power, which must be created by the revolution and which will be its solid guarantee. This is what distinguishes us from the republicans, the official communists and the reformist socialists, who are fighting for the democratic republic, which existed before July. It is not just a question of form or party rivalry, but it is a fundamental question. The future of the revolution and the working masses depend upon their understanding of this.
The revolution started on the 19th of July as a direct consequence of the military fascist uprising, is passing through serious moments. The capitalist class, terrorized during the first phase of the movement, is now trying to raise its head, working its way back into the new institutions created by the revolution and reoccupying the strategic position it had lost. Of course, it does not reveal its intentions openly, but rather as is customary in all popular revolutions, it uses middle class and even working class parties and groups to carry out this hidden work the more effectively and unhampered.
Their design is especially favored by the unusual situation created by the war. The absolute necessity of winning it as well as the special requirements and complicated problems, which it raises, lead to a situation which if skillfully handled, may find the masses easily swayed and may favor the plans of those who are trying to strangle the revolution, confining it within the channel of the democratic republic. The working class should realize that its whole future is being decided, that the war and the revolution are inseparable and that only by destroying the roots at the base of the capitalist regime can the possibility of a fascist victory be destroyed.
If Fascism did not triumph completely on the 19th of July, that is due only to the heroic might of the working class, which abandoned and without arms, was able to block the fascist advance and taking the arms from the enemy, to destroy the sources of power of the old regime and to abolish the rights of private property and to initiate a profound revolution.
In these historical moments the working class came to control the absolute hegemony of the revolutionary movement, and the middle class parties, which the working class had followed for years, disappeared almost completely from the political scene.
They are now trying to undermine the positions captured by the workers and in part they have succeeded. The Central government at Valencia, in spite of its composition is a typical `national union’ government, jealously preserving the capitalist democratic constitution, which is completely behind the times; this government differs in no fundamental way from the former people’s front government. The government of Catalonia, although of analogous composition, has been infinitely more progressive than the Central Government, since it here has operated in a different political climate, one determined by the C.N.T. and the P.O.U.M., which have held revolutionary positions and have prevented the middle class ideology of the people’s front from infecting the workers’ movement or placing it at the service of the capitalist democratic interests.
The elimination of the P.O.U.M. from the Council of the Generality is the first step in an extensive maneuver, which would lead also to the elimination of the C.N.T.; this move is designed to change the situation in Catalonia to one more favorable to halting the revolution.
Under this circumstance, the Central Committee of the P.O.U.M. believe that the most effective means of combatting this extensive maneuver and at the same time of consolidating the aims of the working class and giving impetus to the revolutionary process, is to provide adequate organs of expression for the revolutionary aspirations of the working class, which constitute the basis of the future regime. To maintain the bourgeois parliament at this time is an inconsistency, which may prove fatal. The democratic parliament is an institution which belongs to the epoch prior to July 19th. Neither by its composition nor its spirit can it meet the revolutionary needs of the present moment. The new society will not be forged in a parliament, but rather in a constituent assembly, which will lay the basis of a Spain freed from landlords and capitalists, a Union of Socialist Republics.
The representatives to this assembly cannot be elected under a system of universal suffrage, a survival of the capitalist democratic regime, but should be chosen by the workers, peasants and soldiers, represented by shop and factory councils, peasant assemblies and delegates from the front. It is from this assembly that the new socialist structure of the country, the workers’ and peasants’ government should spring. Such a government could represent the will of the masses, who are fighting against fascism and offering their blood, not for the democratic republic, but for a society free of capitalist exploitation.
The Central Committee of the P.O.U.M. believes, finally, that a genuine workers’ democracy is an indispensable condition for the decisive victory of the working class and to guarantee the triumph of the revolution. It would guarantee the revolution against all attempts at dictatorial control by certain parties and organizations. To this end, it is absolutely necessary to set up factory and shop councils, elected directly by the workers themselves in general assemblies called by the trade unions—in short the whole working class must participate actively and directly in the discussion and solution of the whole series of problems, which the war and the revolution have brought before the country.
The basic aims of the moment are then:
1. Dissolution of the bourgeois parliament.
2. A constituent assembly of delegates of shop councils, peasant representatives, and of delegates from the front.
3. A workers’ and peasants’ government, a workers democracy.
December, 1936 Central Committee
In our opinion, the youth statement of the P.O.U.M. is defective not so much to what it says, although some of the formulations are ambiguously phrased, but rather in what is left unsaid. The Youth statement, for example, still says not one word about the independence of Morocco and the unity of the Spanish toilers with the colonial people. As for the statement of the Central Committee, it comes quite late in the history of the revolution, but better late than never. The statement is too uncritical of the C.N.T. and in tending to put the question as “For a Workers Democracy” against a “Party Dictatorship” falls into Menchevik errors. For a criticism of the P.O.U.M. see our article in the last issue of the Class Struggle (February, 1937).
FLOODS AND THE WORKERS
Between the dust storms and the floods, it appears that vast sections of this country are becoming uninhabitable. The afflicted areas, the grain belt and the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys, are among the most productive in the whole United States. In an earlier period, the floods occurred at rare intervals, the dust storms not at all, but now it has reached the point where every year hundreds of thousands. if not millions of people are driven from their homes and plunged into dire suffering before the onslaughts of nature.
While we call it `nature’, it is well known that behind the present destructive developments of natural forces, lies the responsibility of the capitalist class. This country has been a great treasure house of nature, which the capitalists the owners of the natural resources, have despoiled. The natural wealth at hand seemed unlimited and terrible waste therefore accompanied every progressive step. Whether in industry or agriculture. The great magnates who built up their fortunes during the last century at the expense of the natural resources as well as of man power, might very literally have said, “After us the deluge.” The floods and dust storms of today are directly traceable to their activities.
They cut down the original forests and made great profits in selling timber as material for building ships, houses and interior furnishings. The original forests of great trees are now nearly all gone, and in most cases no systematic replanting was done to replace them. With the forests has gone the underbrush and roots and thus the soil has been deprived of the natural spongy character it originally possessed, which absorbed the excess water of melting snows and spring rain. Hence the terrific floods which now afflict the river valleys! The prairie lands at the same time have been stripped of their natural protective covering of grasses in order to plant great fields of grain. Thus, everywhere the top soil, which is necessary for growing crops was exposed to the elements. In the dry areas the top soil is now blown away by the winds. The farmer must see his farm literally blown away before his eyes. His crops either drifted under or uprooted and carried far and wide, while at the same time the prevailing dust makes life a burden for people in large areas, exposing them to discomfort and even illness. In the valleys, on the other hand, the floods carry off the top soil by the millions of tons to the mouth of the Mississippi.
Even Secretary of the Interior Ickes in a recent book had to throw the blame on the capitalist individualists for the natural disasters that have overtaken the country. He does not hesitate to show that capitalism has destroyed the watersheds throughout the country, has reduced the size of the lakes, has eroded the soil, has dried up the streams and cut down the forests and so forth. He even goes so far as to blame these actions for the fact that the temperature is today far more severe and subject to more violent changes than in the days when the American Indians roamed the land. How the Indians must bitterly smile to see what the wonder pale face civilization has done to the wonderful natural inheritance, which they bequeathed to the Whites.
The dire results of the capitalists’ wastefulness and destruction have now matured, sweeping away capitalist property as well as working class lives. Now the government must hire its expert engineers to try to cope with the menace of flooding waters. Property damage is high and property must be protected. The elaborate improved system of levees devised since the 1927 disaster are a mere stop gap. Really to eliminate the danger of floods and dust storms means long term planning to remove the cause. It means reforestation and anchoring of the top soil by terracing and with irrigating systems to combat drought. Roosevelt’s reforestation by means of the C.C.C. camps is a miserable substitute for real action.
Any plan undertaken today to cope with the flood problem can be based only on the protection of capitalist property and profits not in the benefit of humanity as a whole. Such capitalist planning can be carried out only at the expense of the working class and by means of the exploitation of the working class. It is not for us to propose plans for the capitalists to solve their problems, nor to support any of their plans. We know that when the workers of this country take over the means of production, they will inherit the aftermath of capitalist mismanagement. But they will be able then to tackle these problems in the interests of humanity as a whole, not of a tiny minority. Science will then be freed from the main functions, which are shackling it today, namely profit making and warfare and full face can be turned to solving the ills that beset mankind. It will be understood then that natural resources will be treasured and used carefully and planfully. The great cities, those pest-centers of today, will disappear and with them the barren, unproductive waste lands. The ancient harmony between man and nature will be restored, but on a much higher plane in which man will not be the victim of nature as its master.
All this, however, is music of the future. What is pressing now is to protect the interests of the working class victims of the floods. It is superfluous to say that it is the workers, poor farmers and unemployed, who suffer most under these circumstances. The well to do live in houses, which are located on the higher ground; they are forewarned of the rising waters and can flee in their automobiles and their fur coats; they have means to travel and find themselves another shelter. It is the poor, who live on the lowlands, who have no means to get away, who are trapped like rats in their holes, and must suffer the full horrors of flood, fire and darkness, of hunger, thirst and hopelessness. It speaks volumes for the poverty prevailing in this part of the country to find how many of the flood victims are penniless, and have left `homes’ so wretched that they are not worth returning to.
Now that the floods have subsided, the refugees are living under conditions of unspeakable misery, herded in armories, in unheated barracks hastily thrown together, even in tents. Sickness is rife. Race discrimination as usual means that the negro victims are getting the poorest hand outs. Rehabilitation work, instead of becoming a means for providing jobs for some of the unemployed, has been turned over to chain gang labor, under sheriff’s orders. The federal government, which is so lavish in handing out $10,000 a year jobs to its friends, could find no other way to meet the financial emergency than to take over funds earmarked for unemployment and work relief. Apparently it is the unemployed, who are supposed to take care of the flood victims.
All working class forces must bend their efforts and mobilize all their forces in the afflicted states to protect these victims, most of whom are now destitute, and many of whom were unemployed and on relief before the disaster. It is not the duty of the working class organizations to provide relief, since not they, but the capitalists are directly responsible for the floods. What is needed too, is to organize the flood victims in committees, to bring them together in demonstrations and mass meeting putting forward demands for their protection. We propose the following demands for rehabilitation of the workers and poor toilers who are victims of the floods:
1. Those on relief to be placed back on their previous status quo, that is, to be given furniture, household and other equipment.
2. No discrimination against Negroes.
3. Abolition of compulsory labor service (chain gang labor).
4. Full hospitalization and medical care.
5. Adequate transportation facilities.
6. No Red Cross discrimination.
7. Cancellation of debts for poor toilers.
8. Poor home owners to be recompensed for damages. Loans to be made them by the federal government without interest. Old debts to H.O.L.C. to be canceled.
9. A flood insurance fund to be provided from taxation of the wealthy, to be administered for the workers and poor toilers, the administration to be checked by the workers’ organizations.
10. Special emergency relief to be given at a higher rate than elsewhere because of the more difficult circumstances.
11. No reduction of relief funds elsewhere for flood purposes.
12. No discrimination of flood rehabilitation in favor of wealthy.
FRIENDS OF THE CLASS STRUGGLE FIGHT STALINIST MURDER-TERROR
Recently in Rutgers Square, New York City, a meeting was held protesting the frame up and executions of the Old Bolsheviks in Russia. The meeting was conducted jointly by the Revolutionary Workers League and the New York Branch of the Friends of the Class Struggle.
The Stalinists, who are generally weak and timid against the Fascists, but are so ready to use an iron fist against any working class opposition group, were mobilized to break up the demonstration. Continual heckling of the speakers, shouting, booing and snake dancing around the assembly were the tactics used here by the Russian nationalists.
The speakers appealed to the Stalinist hooligans to stop their anti-working class actions. These appeal were met with several attempts to rush the platform and to start a general free for all at which the Stalinists are so adept. One brave Stalinist punched a girl comrade in the face in an attempt to seize the leaflets which she was distributing. He was well taken care of and will think twice the next time he contemplates hitting a worker.
Several other Stalinists were shouting, “Free copies of the Soviet Constitution”, at the top of their lungs. This same Constitution, which the Stalinists would have us believe Guarantees free speech in Russia evidently was not meant for New York workers.
These reactionary tactics of the Stalinists acted as a boomerang by drawing more workers to the meeting and exposed these C.P. members as an anti-working class tendency. After the meeting had been in progress for over an hour and there were several hundred workers assembled by this time, the police came down and asked the chairman to discontinue the meeting, as, “it was impossible to make yourselves heard, anyway”, and threatening not to issue any more permits for any working class group for Rutgers Square. The chairman informed the audience of this and told the police to leave and that we were capable of conducting our own meeting without any police `protection’ to maintain order.
Many workers openly expressed their disgust with the Stalinists and demanded that they stop their interference. The speakers, who then followed, were heard and the workers were able to learn what is taking place in Russia. At the close of the meeting the International was sung by the audience.
The Friends of the Class Struggle were glad to participate in such an action and in the future will actively support more actions of this nature. We are opposed to the method of `struggle’ conducted by Trotsky of leaning only on liberals and well wishers, who have no roots in the working class. Rather we would like to see a conference called of workers’ organizations, trade unions and such to base itself upon workers committees culminating in a united front of action for a relentless struggle against Stalin’s vicious attacks against all who he believes might still represent the October Revolution. We earnestly hope such a conference for the defense of the October Revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat will be called soon. by Harry Mahl
CORRESPONDENCE ON THE WAR QUESTION
On the question of the historically progressive aspect of a war of the United States against Japan who is at war with Russia:
What is the basis for an assumption that the U.S. will attack or may attack Japan while it is at war with Russia?
Would it be correct for a C.P. in the United States to agitate for such a war against Japan or Germany or Italy or any or all of Russia’s attackers? What would be the tactics pursued?
If it is historically progressive for the United States to attack Japan and Germany declares war against the U.S., what is your position for the German working class?
In demanding all material aid to Russia from the United States government, what tactics do we pursue? How can we separate the independent action of the working class from the government in a clear way so as not to confuse the proletariat?
If several capitalist countries were to war against each other and leave Russia alone (which is contrary to your analysis) and it became necessary for Russia at a given moment to throw its weight in with one set of capitalists against the other, how could Russia do this without confusing the working classes of the countries, which she was fighting against from believing that she was also an imperialist nation?
If the pressure of the United States working class were strong enough to force the government to give material aid to Russia, who is engaged in a war with Japan, Germany, Italy, Poland, etc., and the ships carrying these supplies were sunk by any of the attackers of Russia, would we in the United States agitate for a war against Russia’s attackers? How would we do that in a clear way so as not to confuse the working class that we were supporting the United States government? Suppose we were strong enough to force the U.S. to go to war, how could we expose the imperialist aims and reasons for the United States government entering into such a war? What would be our position on the war budget? If we did not support it, which I believe we do not, how could we support the war and not the budget and at the same time following the strategy of wresting the capitalist control of this war, make it clear to the proletariat?
If a set of imperialist countries such as France and England were to ally itself with Russia against Germany,m Japan, etc., at a given moment fearing that Germany would not stop with the dismemberment of Russia, but would march on to a Germanified Europe, is it your position that at such a moment it would be historically progressive for France and England to fight against this Fascist combination and for us to pursue the same tactic of supporting the war, but not the capitalist control of it? And, if it is historically progressive at a given moment, when we know that the English and French imperialists are not concerned with the welfare of Russia, but of their own skins, would it not follow that a C.P. in France and Great Britain should agitate for a war against the attackers of Russia without waiting for Russia to be defeated? I know that France and Great Britain would like to see a mutually exhaustive war between Germany and Russia and then step in to restore capitalistic Russia and to put Germany again in chains, but yet there is always the danger of Germany not stopping with a victory over russia. Signed M……………
We do not assume that the United States will attack Japan should Japan be at war with Russia. Quite the contrary, the far more likely probability is that the capitalist American government will help Japan destroy Russian Communism. It is also possible, however, that America may intervene to prevent Japan from gobbling too much of Russia, but this would be after Communism was thoroughly destroyed and no longer a world menace. It is also possible for United States and Japan to go to war against each other, in which case Russia might have to step in for her own interests. Thus we would have the case of Russia at war against capitalist countries with certain capitalist countries as allies. If you will recall, Wilson sent a warm letter to the Soviets to induce them to carry on the war, and French Generals aided the Bolsheviks in their struggles against Germany. The world war did not stop just because Russia had a proletarian revolution. We say that the most fundamental struggle is the one between the capitalists and the workers, but there may arise particular circumstances where the capitalists cannot leave off fighting each other in time even though a proletarian revolution is advanced thereby.
Should Japan be at war against a workers’ republic, it would be the duty of the American proletariat to take the side of the Soviet and to urge that the Soviet be aided in every possible way. I have already pointed out that the Wall Street imperialist government would certainly not want to aid the proletarian revolutionary country and would resist to the utmost. Thus the demand to aid the soviet would mean a demand to smash the Wall Street Government that is against the Soviet. The two go hand in hand and cannot be separated. The struggle of the American working class to aid the Soviet becomes part of the struggle to build Soviets in America. International working class solidarity compels us to demand that the entire weight of the American people be thrown into the fray.
Here are some of the demands that could be made:
1. Oust the German and Japanese ambassadors from the country.
2. Complete embargo of goods to these countries.
3. Full credits, without interest, to the Soviets. Immense arms shipments and supplies.
4. No neutrality in the war in any way.
5. Physical struggle against the American capitalists, who should side with capitalist Germany and Japan against proletarian Russia.
6. Protection of all stuff sent to the Soviets with the armed might of the nation.
The position of the German workers would be to mutiny in the ranks, to turn their guns in the other direction. If American soldiers were actually fighting with the Russians, the Americans as well as the Russians would try to fraternize with the Germans.
The last page or pages of this document were missing from our copy.