James P. Cannon

Labor Action

San Francisco—November 28, 1936

Is Everybody Happy?

[Below is an article written by SWP leader James P. Cannon for the West Coast socialist newspaper Labor Action.—Editor]

THE tumult and the shouting dies and the smoke -- to say nothing of the fog -- of the election clears away and leaves the bright sun shining down on a free, happy and prosperous America. It was a famous victory for progress.

The well-known friend of labor rolled up an imposing majority and sailed away for South America with a smile. The stock market is booming. The crestfallen economic royalists took their beating like good sports and, by way of self-consolation, are distributing profits and extra dividends among themselves on the biggest scale since 1929. Farley’s multitude of postmasters, fixers, ward heelers and bunco steerers are as happy and as fat as pigs in clover, and we mean clover.

Even Hearst hails the election results as a vindication of the American system of government, which he prizes so highly. They say in Washington that a new “Era of Good Feeling” is upon us. In short, everything is lovely and the goose hangs high. Everybody’s happy. That is, nearly everybody.

Of course, the thousands of WPA workers who got lay-off slips in their envelopes in the past two weeks are not taking a conspicuous part in the general jubilation. That, however, is hardly to be expected. The kick in the pants they have received is too much like an echo of the vote they cast in the election. Nor can the maritime workers, forced out on strike to defend their organization, be blamed if they are singing “Hold the Fort” on the picket line instead of the Democratic theme song. “Happy Days Are Here Again”.

And when, in the coming months, wages lag behind price increases while profits mount sky high again, when the million-headed standing army of the unemployed remains stationary despite increasing production, when military and naval expenditures grow ever larger in preparation for foreign war, and strikers are attacked at home with clubs and guns and gas-when all this happens, as it inevitably will, a fairly sizeable mass of working people are quite apt to stop short and ask themselves: “What are we cheering for. anyway?”

That question will have point and meaning and may spell the beginning of a great awakening if it is directed to the right place-to the false advisers and misleaders in the labor ranks who told the workers that salvation lay in supporting the candidate of a capitalist political party who swore allegiance to the system of “private enterprise, private ownership and private profit”. It is precisely this system that breeds poverty, unemployment and war and is inseparable from them.

When this irrefutable idea begins to dawn in the minds of the masses it will be an unhappy day for the labor lieutenants of the Democratic Party, for Green, Lewis, Dubinsky and Co., not forgetting their poor relations, the Old Guard socialists and the Roosevelt communists. By the same token it will be a day of opportunity and revival for a workers’ political party that told the truth and keeps on telling it.