Harry Frankel

Phillip Murray’s Statement
on the “Lease-Lend” Bill

(March 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 10, 8 March 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

During the testimony on the lease-lend bill before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Philip Murray, President of the CIO, filed a statement. – he did not appear himself – with the committee giving his view of the bill. In this statement Murray attempts to give the impression that he is an opponent of the war and is concerned first of all with the preservation of the rights and union standards of labor. These pretensions are false, as we shall soon demonstrate, and must be exposed before all workers who are looking for an honest anti-war leadership. This is especially important because the Stalinists are now polishing up the armor of a “democratic warrior” that Roosevelt used to wear and dressing Murray in it.

What does Murray actually say in his statement? Every thinking worker should read it (in CIO News, Feb. 10). He makes a few criticisms in a vague and undefined way, speaks in general terms about the lack of “limitations” in the bill, and altogether bargains a bit for a few “modifications.” But he gives the whole show away when right at the beginning of his statement, he comes out in favor of “the policy of giving full aid to Great Britain!” Once this much has been conceded, all the rest of Roosevelt’s war program has got to follow.

The paltriness of Murray’s statement, and the real meaning of his action become clear when we consider what the “lease-lend” bill actually is. This is no common piece of legislation; it is the actual war declaration of American imperialism. The real reason doughboys are not yet included along with the ships and planes to be “leased” to the partner of the American bosses is not that Roosevelt wants to “stay out of war,” but that the British imperialists have no earthly use for them at the present time. We are entering today, after a year and a half of war, the same stage that was achieved during the last world war only after more than two and a half years of fighting: the period of American entry. The difference is that the nature of this step is being altered and conditioned by the different development of this war.

Murray Advises the War-Mongers

In this light, Murray’s statement shows up for what it really is. As the boss class goes to war, this “labor leader” has nothing better to suggest than a few corrections in the plans of the government as to how to enter the war!

This is all this leader can do for the workers who are troubled with the problem of world slaughter. The bourgeoisie needs no instruction from such labor advisors to help it carry on the imperialist war. The question for Murray or any other who wants the confidence of thinking workers today still remains: Will you support the war of the enemy class to guarantee its profits, or will you fight against the war by a practical, energetic and far-sighted struggle? Murray has given us his answer. We would he fools to have any further illusions about him.

Already Murray has placed his footsteps on an old, old road alongside those of a great many like himself who have taken that road before to posts in the capitalist government. The recent “defense plan” along these lines proposed by Murray has this meaning: that he senses the insecurity of his position as the pro-war leader of a great trade union federation with a militant, unbeaten rank file, and seeks to strengthen his authority by getting closer to the governmental apparatus. It is enough of a commentary on these suggestions of Murray’s to remember that big business has given them the stamp of approval in a recent issue of the Kiplinger letter.

Difference Between Murray and Green

It is important to notice the difference between the public remarks of Murray and William Green on the “lease-lend” bill. Green’s support was prompt and quite bald, while Murray still requires the fig leaf to keep him from complete nakedness. This is not due to any personal shame on Murray’s part but is a reflection of the different nature of the organization which he represents. It is plain to see that the militant mass-production workers in America’s basic industries are keeping a good hot fire under the CIO leadership.

Murray’s role in betraying American workers to the war dragnet can be far more malignant than that of Green. The encouragement of confidence in him by the Stalinist opportunists already shows this. Murray isn’t going to fool Roosevelt with his half-hearted temporising. He said he supports the war policy of the government – “full aid to Britain” – and that means that, despite all his reservations and cheap bargaining, Murray has been taken into camp. But with the help of the Stalinist left cover he may be able to throw many good workers off the right track. We must carefully follow Murray’s development for this reason , and understand where he is going.

Last updated on 2 October 2015