James P. Cannon

Why We Have Been Indicted:

Socialist Workers Party
Is the Anti-War Party

(July 1941)

Published: The Militant, Vol. V No. 30, 26 July 1941, p. 1.
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: This work is in the under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists’ Internet Archive/Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors, translators, proofreaders etc. above.

Franklin Doublecross Roosevelt has systematically lied to the American people. He has broken promise after promise. At this moment the army training camps are seething with resentment against Roosevelt’s latest broken promise: his solemn covenant with the draftees that conscription would be limited to a period of one year. And why is he seeking an indefinite extension of the term of conscription? In order to break his solemn promise of last November that no American soldiers would fight on foreign soil.

Couple with these broken promises Roosevelt’s strikebreaking use of troops, his terroristic use of the FBI and other governmental agencies of repression against CIO unions and the Socialist Workers Party, and you have a clear picture of Roosevelt’s foul scheme. By a combination of force and fraud he proposes to dragoon the American masses into a war which they do not want and for which they would never vote.

Roosevelt’s typical combination of force and fraud is evident in the indictments drawn up by his Department of “Justice” against the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party. The basic motivation for those indictments was stated by Acting Attorney General Francis Biddle on June 28, when he sought to justify the FBI’s Gestapo raids on the St. Paul and Minneapolis headquarters of the Socialist Workers Party. Biddle then cited and quoted from the anti-war sections of the Declaration of Principles adopted by the 1938 convention of the Socialist Workers Party.

But some strategist in Roosevelt’s War Party has since realized how unpopular would be a persecution of our Anti-War Party for our anti-war views. Hence, Biddle’s assistants have now drawn up an indictment against us which makes no reference whatsoever to the anti-war sections of our 1938 Declaration of Principles – in fact, the word “war” appears nowhere in the indictment!

Carefully though they worked in preparing this indictment, Roosevelt’s agents were not quite able to erase the telltale indications of the real motivation for this persecution. They give their game away in charge No. 4 of the indictment, which accuses us of urging, counseling and persuading the workers and farmers “that the Government of the United States was imperialistic ...”

Yes, we have explained and shall continue to explain to the workers and farmers that the Roosevelt government is imperialistic in its every move.

Imperialism is the motive force behind all Roosevelt’s war plans. Like Hitler, he would be master of the entire world. Hitler seeks that mastery as political agent for Germany’s bankers; Roosevelt seeks that mastery as political agent for America’s Sixty Families, the DuPonts and Morgans and Rockefellers.

By his typical combination of force and fraud Roosevelt is intriguing to secure as cannon-fodder and beasts of burden the masses of South and Central America. Next comes Dakar – that is, the Negro masses of Africa. By bribery and pressure upon Chiang-Kai-shek, Roosevelt seeks to transform China’s war of liberation into a war to serve American imperialism.

But before Roosevelt can hope to carry out this gigantic scheme of carnage and world conquest, he must first subjugate the American workers and farmers to his will. This is the aim of all his lies and deceit and broken promises. This is the aim of his acts of violence against the labor movement.

With a brazenness unprecedented in American history, Roosevelt has intervened on the side of Daniel J. Tobin to try to destroy the Motor Transport and Allied Workers Union, Local 544-CIO, sixteen of whose members have been indicted along with the Socialist Workers Party members. Thus Roosevelt pays his debt to one of his most servile agents.

But something more is involved. Tobin is a leader of the Fight for Freedom, Inc., which is yelling for immediate shooting war. The leaders of Local 544-CIO are resolute opponents of war.

In indicting the Local 544-CIO leadership, Roosevelt’s War Party is striking a blow against the anti-war forces in the trade union movement.

As he plunges toward total war, Roosevelt would like first to destroy all leadership and potential leadership of the anti-war forces. Roosevelt and his War Party understand very well that an honest workers’ party like ours, with firm principles and cadres steeled and tempered in the class struggle, can tomorrow become the accepted spokesman for the great masses in the struggle to put an end to the war. The Roosevelt War Party would destroy us before that tomorrow comes.

We have adhered to the Bolshevik tradition of struggle against war ever since 1917, as every politically literate person knows. But not since the notorious Palmer raids of 1920 has any government official pretended that we could be indicted for that. Only now under Roosevelt, only now that Roosevelt has become the ally of Stalin, and the Communist Party has become Roosevelt’s most vociferous supporter in whooping it up for war – only now does our advocacy of Bolshevism against Stalinism become a cause for indictment.

The “clever” strategists of Roosevelt’s War Party are thinking:

“We are not going to make the same mistake that the Czar made. In November 1916 Lenin’s party was small and apparently uninfluential. Yet a year later, thanks to its irreconcilable opposition to the imperialist war, it won a majority of the workers and peasants. Let us not repeat the Czar’s mistake. Let us destroy Trotsky’s party before it wins a majority of the workers and farmers of the United States.”

This “clever” strategy of Roosevelt’s War Party is, in reality, the identical strategy that the Czar pursued. He hounded Lenin’s party mercilessly, exiled, imprisoned, executed and tortured its members. The Czar’s cruelty became a byword in the civilized world. Yet all this did not prevent the great masses from abolishing the Czarist autocracy.

We do not fear Roosevelt’s repressions, any more than Lenin and Trotsky feared the Czar’s repressions. The war into which Roosevelt is plunging the country will be a fiery crucible in which millions upon millions of American workers and farmers will be steeled and tempered for the struggle against imperialism. For every fighter torn from our ranks by the class enemy, scores will come forward who, in this very struggle between us and Roosevelt’s War Party, will learn that every serious fighter against imperialist war belongs in the Socialist Workers Party.

We are no pacifists. We Trotskyists have shown, in China, in Loyalist Spain, in the Red Army, that we are ready to fight on behalf of a just cause. But Roosevelt’s war is an imperialist war and we shall oppose it, and nothing shall stop us.

We are no pacifists. We shall not turn the other cheek to Roosevelt’s attack on our party. On the contrary, we shall see to it that every worker and farmer in this country hears our true views and learns how Roosevelt has engineered this vile frameup against us. This case will be tried by the government in a courtroom in Minneapolis and we shall defend ourselves there. Far more important, however, we shall defend ourselves before our true judges – the workers and farmers of this country. It is their verdict, above all, that concerns us.

And we are confident of their verdict, once we break through the fraud and deceit with which the Roosevelt War Party seek to conceal the true issue. The Socialist Workers Party is the Anti-War Party. The workers and farmers have no interest in this war. They want no part of it. The anti-war party and the tens of millions opposed to the war will join hands in the course of our battle to free the 29 defendants from Roosevelt’s Gestapo.

Last updated on 22 May 2016